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In Jim's Daily Opinion 08/28/2015

FRIDAY, 8/28:

I think I’ve figured out how to game the system.

I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but if you’re a business with a Facebook fan page, like we are, Facebook does not send your message out to all of your fans every time you post one.  Nope; messages that we send out are often only sent to four or five percent of the people who’ve “liked” us, and if you want to guarantee that more people see it, Facebook will be more than happy to accept scads of your money to make sure that happens.

Nice racket if you can set it up, apparently.

However, there are ways to get more people to see your posts, and one of them is by getting your fans to either “like” or “share” your posts (which, you must admit, is kind of hard to do if no one can see it in the first place).  Facebook then tells you that you have (and I’m not making this up) an “engaging post”, and makes sure that more people see it.  Who knows...if that happens, you might approach having almost ten percent of your total fan base getting your story on their news feed.

It’s like a Christmas miracle, only it’s not at Christmas and it’s not a miracle.

Anyway, I notice that every time I put a picture on our station Facebook site it seems to get a little more “engagement” that just text-only posts, like the ones we put up every Monday soliciting suggestions for that week’s upcoming “Throwback Thursday”.  So as an experiment this week, I added this picture—

on the usual Monday post, along with a little joke abut “Mr. Sunflower” looking forward to song suggestions.  And you know what?  When I checked the post the next day, it showed that it had been viewed by almost three times as many people as a normal “Throwback Thursday” post.  Wednesday, I did it again, this time letting people know what “Mr. Sunflower” was going to play the next day, and once again, news feed numbers almost tripled.

So there.  I guess we now know what you need to do it you’re a business that wants to get your Facebook stories out to more of your fans.  Use “Mr. Sunflower” as your, uhm, “spokesflower”.

Seemed to work for least until Facebook finds out and finds some other way to make sure people don’t hear what we have to say!


On that note, I hope you have yourself a fantastic weekend.  Looks like the weather won’t suck, so I may have to put off final packing for the trip just long enough to play out in the sun.  After all, by the time we get back, snow may be on the ground (at least the way this year has been going).  So I’m hoping to take advantage of it as much as I can!



Because I have to go to a funeral and go meet with the police this morning (two entirely unrelated things, by the way.  And no, Mom, I'm not in trouble!)  I'm gonna leave you with something I wrote five and half years ago, but something that I'll be doing again in two and a half weeks on the way home from Germany.

Tomorrow, nothing to do with funerals and cops.  Promise!



(as originally posted January 5th, 2010)

The first sign of life is the algae.

Now, I mention this because Loraine and I just bought the tickets for our next trip to France, the one scheduled for this October.  And, of course, if you’re flying to or from France, you spend a LOT of time staring out of airplane windows...nine hours, in fact, on the trip back.

And that’s how I know about the algae.

When you leave France, you have about 45 minutes to look out the window and see land; England and Ireland, to be specific.  Then for four, four and a half hours...nothing.  You can look down and see the north Atlantic.  Sometimes you might see icebergs, sometime you might see waves so big that, at 35,000 feet, they appear as little white dots, but mostly you see nothing but water.

Until, that is, you hit Canada.

When you enter Canadian airspace, you first fly over the Labrador Peninsula, which is nothing but desolate, barren rock.  For half an hour, you stare down at a vast landscape of nothing-ness; if you were an alien being exploring the planet for the first time, you’d probably assume that the planet was devoid of life.

And then you see the green.

The first few times I flew back from Europe, I was intrigued when I noticed that, about half an hour after crossing over land,  the ponds and lakes sitting on top of the Labrador rocks looked a little green around the edges.  Then I figured out what it was. . .it was algae building up around the shores, much like algae builds up on lakes around here. 

After over 5 hours of seeing nothing, it’s the first sign that there’s still life on the planet.

A few minutes later, some of the rocks appear green, as well, indicating either moss or algae has started to cling to the rocks.  The green increases over time, until you see something you thought you might never see again--

A road.

As with the algae, I had no idea where the roads led during my first few flights.  Then on the last few flights, I began to notice the roads leading to complexes, complexes that I’m guessing are mines, or research facilities, or military facilities.  Soon, the roads begin to branch off into other roads, and along those roads you soon notice more green.

The roads are cutting through grass.  And soon, the roads begin to cut through trees.  And then a small town or two.  And before you know it, you see more roads, more trees, more towns, and then the pilot says you’re crossing over Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and entering the U.S.

All a mere 8 or so hours after leaving France, and just an hour and a half after you thought you’d never see a sign of life again.

If you’ve ever wondered how you kill those 9 hours on a plane, that’s how I do it.  And that’s how I’ll be doing it again in a mere 9 months.


Wow.  I was actually funny once!

With a week to go before we leave for Germany, I've been spending a lot of time putting together the things that need to air while I'm gone.  And because the program director in me refuses to allow my afternoon personality to be off the air for a week and a half, we usually air “best of”s that I've recorded and saved throughout the years.  The past few trips they've been phone calls with listeners; after all, that's mostly what we do around here.  But this year, I've dig really deep to see what I could find.

And I found some comedy bits.

The bits are what are know in the biz as “blackout bits”; just little 20 or 30 second items to run going into or out of a commercial break.  And what with humor being a VERY subjective thing, I'm sure that there are many people out there who would take exception with my referring to them as “comedy” bits.  But I've found nine or ten “comedy” bits that I put together somewhere between 10 and 15 years ago, back when I was doing “comedy” bits, and you know what?

I, at least, don't think they're half bad!

I was in my phase of doing “comedy” bits while I was also in my phase of listening to a lot of old-time radio.  A lot of the radio I was listening to at the time were the master comedians, people like Jack Benny and Fred Allen and Jim Jordan in his character of Fibber McGee.  The one thing all of these master comedians had was impeccable timing.  They knew how to tell a joke, and they REALLY knew how to sell a joke.  And while I've always thought my sense of comedic timing was a little better than the average person, it was nowhere near that of Benny or Allen or Jordan.  So while I was listening to all of these classic comedians, I was also trying to see if I could preach what they were practicing.

Hence, the “comedy” bits.

Most (but not all) of them revolved around the fictional “Yooper TV Network”, and some of the, well, Yooper-centric shows the network might air.  The shows might be Yooper reality shows, or Yooper dramas, but it was a way to make fun of what was going on in pop culture at the time while still making it relatable to people who live up here.

At least, that's what I tried.

As with everything in life, I kind of got away from doing the “comedy” bits as the years went by.  I don't know if they were too much work or if I just had a limited amount of ideas and used them up, but from what I can tell the last one was put together in 2007.  So it was interesting to dig them out and listen to them again, a reflection of where my mind was almost a decade ago.  For some, I remembered them like they were yesterday.  For others, I'd totally forgotten about them.  And one of them, in particular, actually made me laugh when I listened to it again. 

Wanna hear it?

As I've written in here many times before, humor is a very subjective thing.  All I know is that it made me laugh when I listened to it.  Your results may vary.

So for the week and a half I'm gone (actually, just seven days on the air, thanks to Labor Day).  You may be hearing things like that on the air.  And even if you don't make you laugh, think of it this way—it'll at least be a window into my brain, at least they way it was a decade ago.


TUESDAY, 8/25:

I wonder who the trombone player is.

One of the things I love about living in Marquette is that you never know what you’ll see, what you’ll hear, or what you’ll come across.  When you live in a city full of artsy, creative individuals, that artsy-ness and that creativity quite often bubbles to the surface.  And over the past few weeks, what has bubbled to the surface is one really good trombone player.

I don’t know who the trombone player is; I don’t know where he or she lives, and I don’t know if she or he is a professional at the instrument or just dabbles.  But what I do know is this—every few days, especially when it’s nice out and our windows are open, and always with no warning at all, we’ll hear someone play a trombone.  There’s no other music and no other musicians; there’s just the trombone and its player, serenading our neighborhood with a soulful rendition of Magic’s “Rude” or their take on a jazz classic.  They’ll play the one song, and then stop, leaving me to think two things—

One, that trombone player is really, really good.  Their tone is great, they’re obviously well practiced in their technique, and their style really lends something to some of the works they perform.  Like I said, they’re really, really good.

The second thing I wonder about when I hear them?  Who are they, why are they playing outside, and why do they stop after only one song?  Okay; technically those would be the second, third, and fourth things I think, but still, I believe you get the idea.  I mean, has the person playing been practicing indoors, and just wants a little fresh air before they call it a night?  Do they enjoy serenading the neighborhood, and have spent all day practicing the one piece to get it just right?  Or do they just get bored, and in between social media status updates or chapters of a book decide to give their lungs a workout?

Inquiring minds want to know!

I am in no way complaining; after all, like I said, the trombone player is quite good, and it’s much better than some of the other sounds you get to hear in our neighborhood when the windows are open (and I’m thinking of you, guy who lives a couple of houses behind us and loves his leaf blower just a little too much).  It just makes me wonder what’s behind the impromptu performances, and whether they’re for our benefit, or if our enjoyment of it is just a byproduct of whatever the mystery trombone player happens to be doing at the moment.

Alas, I may never know.  And with winter soon to come, our windows will be permanently closed, and the trombone concerts will be replaced by the sound of snow blowers and ice scrapers.  So I guess I’ll enjoy the performances while I can.

Even if I don’t know who’s giving them, or why.


MONDAY, 8/24:

In a way, it's kind of like we lost our grandmother.

Loraine and I received some sad news over the weekend; our friend Jeanne Fletcher passed away at thee age of 94.  Jeanne was the sister of Elwood Norr, the subject of Loraine's first book, and over the years we'd visit Jeanne and just chat abut everything under the sun.  It's like we were part of her extended family, and we'll miss that.

Not only did Jeanne loan Loraine the letters and pictures that her brother had sent home from the Army before he died, but she helped me study Marquette history from a first hand point of view.  She  grew up in both the Piqua Location in Marquette, the area that's now centered around McClellan Avenue, but, for a time, with aunts who lived in Ishpeming, as well.  Then when she married Al, the love of her life, she raised her family in South Marquette, where they owned Fletcher's Market for many years.

If you've ever been on tours I've given in the Piqua or in South Marquette, some of the stories you've heard were Jeanne's.

In fact, right before I gave my Piqua neighborhood tour a couple of years ago, we convinced Jeanne to hop into our car and drive around the area, where she regaled us for over an hour with tales of what the area was like when she was growing up, and just how much things have changed in the 80 or 90 years since.  She was an invaluable resource, and I'll miss picking her brain about stuff like that.

Of course I'll also miss her bread, too.  Every Christmas I'd bring over a huge plate of those cookies I make, and in return she'd give us a loaf of whatever she'd made for the holiday, be it saffron bread or almond bread or one of the other breads she knew how to expertly whip up.  The past few years she wasn't able to get around well enough to bake, but that's okay.  The loaves she had given us over the years are things I hope to one day try.  I'm sure they won't be as good as hers, but I'll give them a try.

And in a way, Marquette radio has lost a comrade, too.  You see, when Jeanne was a child, she was a “star”.  The aunts she lived with in Ishpeming had her take singing lessons, and she had her own weekly show on Marquette first radio station, WBEO (which eventually became WDMJ).  Because everything on radio back then was live, and there were a lot of hours in a day to fill, radio looked everywhere for entertainment.  And one of the places they found it was in the form of Jeanne.  In fact, even all these years later, she still has a cutout of a newspaper ad from the early 30s mentioning that “Little Jeanne Norr” would be on the air the next Sunday afternoon for the listening pleasure of the community.

After all my years in radio, even I'VE never received anything like that!

I think, though, the biggest way in which she'll be missed is the soft spot she had in her heart for Loraine.  When Loraine was writing her book, I don't think Jeanne fully grasped what was going on, because when Loraine presented her with the first copy, hot off the presses, Jeanne said, and I quote, “I didn't know you were writing a real book”!    While I think it was hard to read the whole book, especially the parts about her brother's end, I know she cherished the fact that Elwood's memory was being kept alive and now shared with the world.  And when Loraine had a book signing right after the release, she invited Jeanne, featured prominently in the book in her own right, to the signing, where she was a more popular draw than even the author, and where she signed copies the book as “Fatty”, the nickname given to her by her brother while she was pregnant.

She was a cool lady.  And she will be missed.  So thanks for being part of our lives, Jeanne, and sharing everything that you shared with us over the years.  The world won't be the same without you.


FRIDAY, 8/21:

Because I'm hoping to sneak in one last half day today, I'm gonna re-purpose something I wrote for our upcoming trip blog.  It'll probably actually be new to most (if not all) of you, so I don't feel TOO guilty about doing it.  A little guilty...sure.

But not too guilty.

Have a great weekend...and I hope YOU get to enjoy the sun a little yourself!



Another year, another adventure.  But at least this time, we’re not going alone!

As you can tell by the latest title of the blog page Loraine and I are heading back to Germany this year.  This time, though, it’ll be a little different.  It won’t be a research trip so much as it’ll be a vacation, and we’re bringing a cast of characters along with us, a cast where you’ve already met some of the members and a cast where other members come from a galaxy far, far away.

Well, kinda.

This is a trip that we’re taking with both sets of our parents, a trip very similar to the one we undertook way back in 2006 (before, apparently, trip blogging was invented).  We’re going all throughout Southern Germany, Bavaria, and even into Austria, all in the capable hands of Tony the Tour Guide.

Big round of applause for Tony who, if you remember the last time we were in Germany, had to translate for Loraine during a news conference with the mayor of Weissenfels.  I don’t think he’ll have to worry about that this time.

Anyway, aside from Tony, here’s your cast of characters, in a picture from that trip nine years ago—

You know Loraine, and you know me.  Next to me are my parents, Chicky-Poo and Dar (or, to those of you slightly more respectful than their oldest child, Chick & Darlene).  They’re both retired after a career running several successful auto repair facilities.  My mom has taken up water coloring check out her work HERE, while my dad does whatever my mom tells him to do.  Oh, and he’s a monster at pickle ball, too.  Then on the far right-hand side of the picture are Loraine’s parents, Betsy & Floyd, who live downstate in a little place called Reese (sadly, not the home of the world famous peanut butter cup).  They do a lot of traveling themselves; in fact, once we’re done with our trip in Germany they’re staying on to take a cruise through the Adriatic Sea.

So watch out, Zagreb!

Like I said, we’re also taking along two passengers from a galaxy far, far away.  You may recognize them in their plastic form—

But they’re representing two members of Loraine’s family who’ve been going through some tough times recently.  Boba Fett is the stand in for Loraine’s nephew Jeremy, a “Star Wars” fanatic who’s been waging a very good fight against a form of childhood leukemia the past year and a half.  And Chewy?  Well, he’s a stand-in for Loraine’s brother Joe, who unexpectedly lost his wife at the end of May.  We figure that both of them deserve the chance to get away and deal with something other than the things with which they’ve been dealing, so we’ll be taking pictures of their stand-ins at some of the places we visit.

And where will we be visiting this time around?  Well, the first part of the trip consists of seeing places we’ve never been before, and the second part going to places we’ve enjoyed in the past and now want to share with our parents (and Boba Fett and Chewy).  We’ll start by flying into Frankfurt, where we’ll then spend the first few days of the trip tooling around the Black Forest, staying in places like Heidelberg and Tubingen.  We’ll follow that up by driving through the Alps, seeing a few castles and a whole lot of mountains.  We’ll then zig in to Austria, spending a day in Zell-am-See, before zagging back into Germany for a few days in this place—

This, of course, is Berchtesgaden, home of amazing views, wonderful places to hike, the greatest Rewe store on the face of the Earth, and, well, Adolph Hitler’s summer getaway.  But we won’t hold that against the place; after all, it’s become a large part of the tourist trade there.  From Berchtesgaden we spend a day in Seebruck, which is on this lake—

Lake Chiemsee, also known as “The Bavarian Sea”, before heading to Munich for a day or two in, among other places, The Englischer Garten. 

All this is before we and my parents fly back to the U.S., Loraine’s parents prepare for their invasion of Croatia and Bosnia, and Tony tries to recover from everything we’re bound to put him through.

Why are we going this time?  Well, it’s Germany.  It’s a chance to travel with Tony again.  And it’s a chance to not only spend a lot of quality time with our parents, but to also show them some of our favorite places over there.  And who knows—in the places we haven’t been yet, maybe we’ll discover a few new favorites!

The adventure starts September 2nd, so if you haven’t yet, make sure your virtual passport is up to date and ready to go.  Because, after all, time (and tooling around Germany) waits for no one!


They're flowers.  Can't you just leave them alone?

When Loraine & I were out Sunday taking the pictures that graced this blog yesterday, we were shooting a few outside of a home on Fourth Street in Marquette.  While shooting, the lady who owns the home came out, and thanked us for just taking pictures of the flowers.  Why?  Well, because a few people who've walked by don't take pictures of the flowers.

They take the flowers themselves.

I don't know why she came out to talk to us.  I don't know if she wanted to keep an eye on us to make sure we weren't stealing her flowers, or if she honestly wanted to thank us for photographing them.  But what I do know is that the activity at her home is just one in a string of pieces of flower “vandalism”, for lack of a better word, that's been spreading across Marquette this year.  From the doofus who destroyed Phil's flowers in the downtown Pocket Park to the people who were caught digging up entire plants in front of the condos across from Lower Harbor Park, it seems like no plant in Marquette is 100% safe these days.

And that's just not right.

After hearing this latest story of vandalism, Loraine was reminded of a comment a Marquette cop once made on an episode of “Campus PD”, something along the lines of “if it's not chained down someone's gonna take it”.  And while the officer was referring a drunk college student walking away with a  traffic cone, he spoke the truth.  My landlords have had to (literally) chain down the patio furniture on their front porch, lest someone walk away with it.  A few years ago I had an ex-neighbor give me a call to tell me that someone had walked off with an 8-foot long, 100 pound plaster panther that was on her front porch.  And, of course, it seems like if you have a flower bed in your front yard, you may wake up one morning to find it gone, with whoever took the plants just leaving a big hole in the dirt as a “thank you”.

I don't wanna go on in here once again about respecting other people and their property; I've done it enough in the past that if I do it again I might be veering a little too close to Cranky Old Man ™  territory.  But if anyone who's ever stolen something from someone's yard or is thinking of stealing something from someone's yard is reading this—which I highly doubt, because you guys are WAY too nice to do anything like that—just think of it this way.  How would YOU act if someone took something from YOUR yard?

Then don't do it.

Okay; I'm off my soapbox for today.  And since the lady who spoke with us was nice enough to allow us to take pictures of her flowers (a great display, by the way), the least I can do is show you a picture from it!



Two weeks until we leave for Germany!

That, however, is neither here nor there today.  Nope; today, we take care of the request from daily blog reader Linda in Marquette, who last week wondered why I hadn’t posted many flower pictures in here so far this summer.  As I explained to Linda last week, it was because I hadn’t actually taken many flower pictures so far this summer.  I did, however, promise that if it was nice out this past weekend that I’d try to snap a few.

And Linda (and everyone else), just for you, Loraine and I forced ourselves to head out in the sun on Sunday to take those pictures, Loraine scouting the flowers and me taking the pictures.

Don’t worry; it wasn’t too much of a sacrifice on our part.  Really, it wasn’t!


One thing I really noticed while shooting the flowers, though, backed up an observation I think I made last week.  The weather this summer, cold & wet, then hot & dry, then cold & wet again, seems to have wrecked havoc on many people’s flower beds.  Everywhere we went we saw dead or dying flowers, pedals falling to the ground way too early, or leaves & stems drooping under the weight of the weird weather.

For the most part, it was not a pretty sight.  However, the other part of the most part WAS quite a pretty sight, so for everyone who asked, here you go!

I especially like the bee on the last one.  Like I said, while we couldn’t find as many flowers as usual, we tried our best.  And I do have to thank Loraine for getting into the spirit of it.  She doesn’t like hot weather nearly as much as I do, but she was a trooper in walking up & down the streets of Marquette, looking for nice flowers.  Just how hot was it?

THAT’S how hot it was!


(ps—if you’d like to see larger size versions of these pictures, I put them (and a few more) up on a Facebook photo album.  Just click HERE and you should be able to check them out, whether you’re my Facebook friend or not.  And if you’re not...

Was it something I said??  8-))

(pps—Tomorrow, something we discovered while shooting these flowers.  And it’s not a good something at all.)

(ppps—I apologize for all of these PSs in the past few blogs.  I don’t know what’s gotten into me!)

TUESDAY, 8/18:

Oh well.  I guess we’ll just call it an experiment that failed.

Those of you who’ve been reading this even occasionally the past few years know that I like to take my vacation a half day at a time, on days when it’s nice & sunny & warm.  But because May was so cold this year, and because June was filled with unexpected events like having to go downstate for a funeral, I’ve been forced to use up my vacation during the 10-week span between the Fourth of July and this week.  And in order to fit things in, I had to go against my usual habit and schedule full vacation days ahead of time, ostensibly to give myself a few three-day weekends, but without knowing what the weather was like.

And that’s where I failed.

Well, I shouldn’t say that I failed, so much as Mother Nature failed me.  There’s a reason I usually wait until a day or two beforehand before choosing when to take time off, and that’s because more than a day or two beforehand you don’t know what the weather’s gonna be like.  Scheduling vacation days a week or a month or even months ahead of time means you’re at the mercy of whatever happens.  And in my case, three of the four Mondays I took off were cloudy, rainy, cool, foggy, and/or any combination thereof.

Not exactly ideal vacation weather, at least for me.

Oh sure, I enjoyed having a couple of three day weekends.  Those are always nice.  But to take days off during the summer and not be able to play outside in the sun...well, that just doesn’t seem right.  It probably says something about me and my strange psyche, but part of my brain thinks that taking a day off when the weather’s yucky is just as bad as being at work.  Of course, the other part of my brain is telling that part to shut up and enjoy the time away from the station, but the first part of my brain keeps looking out the window, wondering if the sky will ever clear.

Sometimes, it’s not easy being me.  Really, it isn’t.

Now, though, that’s pretty much over.  Aside from (perhaps) one more half day, a half day that hopefully will appear when the sun is out and the heat is plentiful, I now have to hunker down and get ready for a couple of things—high school sports season on our ESPN station, and making sure everything is ready to go when WE go to Germany in 15 days.

Those days when we’re in Germany are also vacation days that I scheduled ahead of time.  Only, in that case, I won’t consider them a failed matter what the weather is like.  But I don’t think I have to worry about that too much.  Germany’s been a lot warmer and a lot sunnier than usual this summer, and it looks like it could stay that way while we’re there.  Who know...maybe it’s Mother Nature’s way of making it up to me for the Mondays I’ve taken off here!


(p.s.—good news from my sister Melanie.  After almost a week of being away from home, her cat Magoo, the one I wrote about last week, returned home in the middle of the night Sunday night.  They’re now one big happy family again!)

(pps—for daily blog reader Linda in Marquette and everyone else wondering if I did take a few flower pictures over the weekend, guess what?  You’ll see them tomorrow!)

FRIDAY, 8/14:

Today, the weird restaurant story.

We took Loraine's sister Melanie to one of our favorite restaurants last night, one of the “107 Things to Love About Marquette County”, Sol Azteca.  The food is great, the people are great, the view is unparalleled, and we have a soft spot in our hearts for it, if only because Loraine & I were the restaurant's first ever paying customers.

No, seriously.  We were.  They took our picture and had us sign a dollar bill and everything!

Obviously, we've been there a lot.  We've been there as a couple, we've been there with friends, we've been there with people from out of town...basically, we've been there a lot.  And in all the times we've eaten at Sol Azteca, and that's probably in the dozens, one weird thing has occurred.

We have never seen anyone we know there.

I'm not kidding.  Between me and Loraine, we know a lot of people, especially if you count the nodding “hey, I know you from somewhere, right?” type of acquaintances you make if you're in the public eye.  So it's not like we're hermits; we DO know a lot of people.  Yet every time we've been in Sol Azteca, when we look around, every single face is unfamiliar.

Go figure.

And it's not just us.  We've been there multiple times with my friend Deanna who, I swear, knows everyone who's ever lived in Marquette.  Yet even she will look around and comment that she doesn't recognize a soul (excepting, of course, us).  And if SHE has gone in there without seeing someone; well, then, I don't feel so bad.

But it's still weird.

Now that I've written about it, of course, we'll be bombarded with friendly faces the next time we're in there.  And that's okay; much like the string of cold & wet Tuesdays we've been having this summer, it's just one of those strange things I notice.  It doesn't mean anything in the scheme of things, and it's probably just a very long string of coincidences, but still it struck me a weird.

Who knew, right?


I'm taking another long weekend, so there won't be anything new here Monday.  Back Tuesday with more; hope you're able to make the most of out what, at least here in Marquette, promises to be a warm summer weekend!



Here's your Jim & Loraine Fun Fact ™ for today—we both have sisters named Melanie. 

Okay, it's not THAT much of a Fun Fact ™ so much as it's an interesting coincidence.  And it's also an interesting coincidence that we're dealing with them in different ways this week.  I've written about my sister Melanie in here many times before, whether it's about her going back to college after raising her daughters, or about those very same daughters and their occasionally exasperated mom.  Well, my sister's household also consists of a bunch of cats, and, sad to say, one of them is missing.

Here's Magoo--

Magoo seems to have slipped out of my sister's house on the west side of Marquette a couple of days ago, and hasn't yet been found.   Posters have been put out, Facebook posts have been shared, and the Lost Pet Network has been utilized, but as of this writing, no luck yet.  So if you'd send a few good thoughts the way of my sister, her kids, and her cats, I'm sure they appreciate them.

That's one Melanie.  The other Melanie, Loraine's sister, is up visiting for a couple of days, taking some much deserved time off from the job she loves so much (and it's a pity sarcasm doesn't travel through the written word very well).  She'll be up for a few days to see the sights, and spend some time with her husband.

Even though she's never been married.

Okay; let me explain.  When we were downstate for the funeral of Loraine's sister-in-law a couple of months ago Melanie and I were sitting near each other in the funeral home while she talking with someone who'd shown up to share their regrets.  This someone, a friend of Loraine's brother Joe, knew that one of Joe's sisters was married to a guy from Marquette.  When she found out that I was from Marquette and sitting near one of Joe's sisters, she just assumed that we—Melanie and I--were married.  We did eventually set her straight (and I took it as a compliment that she thought I was young enough to be married to someone who's almost 20 younger than I am), and still laugh about it.  And that's why Loraine's never-married sister is up here to, among other things, see her “husband”.

Tomorrow, the story of a local restaurant to which we're taking Loraine's sister, and the very weird thing we've noticed about it.



Going there and coming back are two entirely different things.

Three weeks from today Loraine, my parents, and I will leave for our little getaway in Germany, meeting her parents and Tony the Tour Guide in Frankfurt for a week and a half of fun.  We're looking forward to it, they're looking forward to it, and it should be a grand time all around.

Of course, to get to Europe and back you have to fly.  You, in fact, have to do a LOT of flying.  And as I've been getting ready to go I've come to realize that the flight there is a whole lot different than the flight back.  And here's why.

On the flight over, you're excited.  You're full of adrenaline.  You're ready to start a new adventure.  And because it's an overnight trip, you try to sleep a little.  It doesn't always work, but even if you lay there for a few hours with your eyes closed, that's most of the flight over.

But on the way back, not so much.  Your trip's over, and you just want the flight to go as quickly as possible.  But because of the way the schedule goes, it's a daytime flight.  You can try to sleep, but it really doesn't work.  It's just one very long flight in the middle of one very long day with several flight.  This year, for instance, we'll leave London around 11am and get into Chicago at 2pm, which makes it an 8-hour flight.  This is AFTER flying from Munich to London, and before we fly from Chicago to Marquette.

See?  Not quite as exciting as flying into Frankfurt to start a new adventure, is it?

Over the years, I've developed a system to try & get me through the long flight to the U.S.  You know how you have to pack a lot of toys for kids on a car trip?  Well, for the flight home, I basically do the same for myself.  I always take the newest Vanity Fair magazine and save it for the flight home.  I get a bunch of logic puzzles from a great website so I can do them during the flight (and this year, I even remembered the answers for them, too, unlike (ahem) last year).  I also stick a couple of 5-part episodes of the old radio show “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar” into my iPod.  All that is shoved into my backpack before we leave, and isn't touched until our flight home is in the air.  Between all that, a few meals, whatever magazines the airline has in the seat, getting up to stretch a few times, and (assuming the person in front of me doesn't lower their
seat) writing the final blog of the trip, I can usually make it through a loooooong day.

Of course, then once we're in Chicago (and through Customs) we have five hours to kill before our flight to Marquette, but at least you can wander around an airport and kill a little time that way.

However, I'd prefer not to think of the flight home just yet.  I'm ready for it and my backpack is packed for it; I'd just rather not think about it yet.  That's a month and a day away.  It's the flight over that's the important thing right now, and that's a mere three weeks from today!


TUESDAY, 8/11:

Ask, and ye shall receive.

I received a note from daily blog reader Linda in Marquette, who noted that I haven't done something  that I usually do every year.  Says Linda--

“Hey Jim:  How come you haven't put up your annual album of flower pictures yet?  I always look forward to seeing what you come up with”.

First of all, thanks for the note Linda.  As always, I enjoy hearing from each and every one of you, so keep those e-mails coming!  Second of all, looking back I notice that I really haven't taken that many pictures of flowers this summer.  In all honesty, I don''t think I've taken many pictures at all, flowers or not, this summer, which is something I really do need to rectify.  And third, and perhaps most importantly--

You guys aren't sick of flower pictures yet?


Well, Linda, while I haven't shot a lot of flower pictures (yet) this summer, I hope these make up for that fact.  There are only three, because (believe it or not) I think that's all I've taken this year.  Yes, me, who usually takes hundreds too many pictures of flowers during any one year, has only taken three non-lilac flower pictures this summer.   But what I lack in quantity...

I've noticed that purple seems to be a dominant color in flowers in Marquette this year, for whatever reason.  If nothing else, these (few) pictures seem to back that up.

There you go, Linda...sorry I haven't gotten to them yet this year, and sorry there are so few of them.  I tell ya what—if the forecast holds and it's really nice out this weekend, I'll grab a camera and shoot a few more.  After all, I can't be a flower-slacker, can I?


MONDAY, 8/10:

Well, I guess I'm gonna do it again.

I had an uneventful weekend; aside from watching hundreds of mountain bike riders come across the finish line at the Ore To Shore covered in mud, I just chilled and complained a little about the clouds.  So, I guess, it was a typical weekend in that respect.

However, two things occurred that were anything but typical, the first being that I signed a couple of papers guaranteeing that I'll once again be the host of “High School Bowl” on Public TV 13.  I mean, there was never any question about the matter—I want to do it, and the station, amazingly, wanted me back—but until the “I”s are crossed and the “T”s are dotted it's not official.

Well, I can now say that it's official.  Taping starts at the end of September, and the first new show airs at the beginning of November.  So you have until then to break your TV!


The other thing that was anything but typical?  Well, just one of those dinner table conversation between me and my (much) better half.  Unlike me, Loraine grew up exposed to classic country music.  She's a Top 40/rock girl through and through, but she does know a little about old country music.  She told me about a song from the early 70s with one of those stereotypical early 70s song names, and, of course, me being me, I got it all wrong, so much so that I was walking around our apartment convinced that the name of the song was this--

“You Ain't Women Enough To Be My Man”.

Now, you'd think that I'd be intelligent enough to realize that my version of the song title doesn't make a lot of sense; at least, it wouldn't have mad a lot of sense when the song came out in the early 70s.  But no...I just wandered throughout the house repeating the title over and over, driving my dear wife insane to the point that she had to pull a reference book out to show me that the title of the song is NOT “You Ain't Women Enough To Be My Man” but is instead what she told me it was originally--

“You Ain't Women Enough To Steal My Man”

Well, that's pretty much the same, isn't it?

I have no idea why I heard it as “You Ain't Women Enough To Be My Man”; of course, I have no idea why I hear half the things I hear and think half the things I think.  And in my (pitiful) defense, I don't know much (if anything) about country music from the early 70s.  The song title probably COULD'VE been “You Ain't Women Enough To Be My Man”.  It's almost as good as something along the lines of “You Don't Have a License (To Drive Me Up The Wall)”.  But, as often happens, I was mistaken.  I was highly mistaken.  Fortunately, I have Loraine around to set me straight.

Even if I do think that “You Ain't Women Enough To Be My Man” would be a pretty good country music song title.


So with apologies to Loretta Lynn and to my dear wife, here's the song in its original form and with its correct title, if you're curious--

Hopefully, one of these days I'll actually get something like this right!


FRIDAY, 8/7:

I wonder how many names I'll butcher tomorrow?

That's a thought that always pops into my head anytime Finish-Line Announcer Jim makes an appearance, as he will tomorrow at the Ore-To-Shore.  I mean, there are people coming across the line all the time, usually in groups of three or four.  Their names pop up on a computer screen and then are replaced by names from new people coming across the line right after the first group.  That only gives me a second or two look at the name, decide how I'm gonna pronounce it, and then spit it out.

So to whomever gets their name mispronounced tomorrow, I apologize in advance.  I really do!

Actually, after 15 years of finish line announcing at both the Noque and the O2S, I feel fairly confident that I'll get many more names correct than I'll screw up.  Practice, after all, does help, and I've had plenty of practice over the years.  But I think I've also had good training in the matter in another way.  After all, I used to host a telethon on TV, a telethon where I'd have to read pledges from people throughout the U.P.  And if you can correctly read names from throughout the U.P., I'm guessing you can read names from anywhere in the world.

So wish me luck!

If you have the chance, you should make sure you get to one of the mass starts for the race tomorrow in Negaunee.  They're like nothing you've ever seen; each has over 1,000 riders getting their race underway at the sound of a gun and a trumpet.  It takes over five minutes for all of them to go by, and it's just an amazing sight.  The Soft Race race (with, ahem, a dork announcing the start) begins at 9 at Lakeview School, while the Hard Rock gets underway at 945 in downtown Negaunee.

Trust me—you won't be disappointed!

And with that, I have to head to work to put together a couple of CDs of music to play during the festivities.  Have yourself a great weekend, and like I said, if you have the chance, check out part of the race!



Wow. It really is the end of an era.

Over the past few years I have made it a point to record & watch part or all of four TV “talk” shows. There were days when I would watch the first two or three minutes of the program, and there were days when I watched the whole show. But after tonight, I guess I won't have to worry about that any more.

The four shows were “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”, “Late Night with David Letterman”, “Olbermann” and “The Daily Show”. Ferguson went off the air in December, Letterman in May, Olbermann last month, and now tonight is Jon Stewart's final “Daily Show”. Every single “talk” show in which I've been a fan over the past decade has now, over the span of eight months, disappeared.

In a strange way, I'm thinking Jimmy Fallon is glad I've never watched his version of “The Tonight Show”!

Actually, I'm pretty sure I had nothing to do with the shows going off the air. I'm pretty sure that Ferguson, Letterman, and Stewart didn't get together and decide to retire just because I was a fan, nor do I think that ESPN decided to not renew Olbermann's contract just to get back at me for not watching anything other ESPN show. Nope; it's just one of those weird coincidences...four really smart shows all going off the air with a year of each other.

Oh well.

I guess the thing that I'm missing (or will miss) about the shows is that they took for granted you knew something. Watching them required that you read something other than People magazine or had twice daily visits to TMZ. With Stewart, it required a knowledge of politics to get all the jokes; with Olbermann, it was old-time football, while with Ferguson you had to know everything from obscure 18th century literature to “Foyle's War” (a great British TV show of the past decade). Most talk shows are mindless, and while all of my favorites have been from time to time, they more often than not assumed that you'd done a little intellectual heavy lifting.

And now, they're all gone.

But that's the nature of life, right? Things change, time marches on, and the world into which we enter is a whole lot different than the world we eventually leave. So thank you, Jon Stewart, for being a part of the nature of my life for 16 years. As with the others, it won't be the same without you on my DVR every night.



I have come across two very strange facts, facts that don't necessarily make any sense, at least when you look at them together.  Here they are--

90 percent of people say that reclining seats should be banned on airplanes because of the discomfort they cause when someone in front of you slams their seat into your knees.  Yet 70 percent of people say they recline their seats.


I’m certainly in the 90%.  I’ve certainly complained enough about the morons who sit in front of me and then, with no warning, slam their seat back into my knees, causing me much wincing in pain and causing everything that may have been on my tray table to go flying (including, once the very laptop upon which I’m writing this).  Because of the discomfort it causes other people I’m fully in favor of banning reclining seats.  And that’s why I never recline a seat in which I’m sitting.

Unlike, apparently, 70 percent of people who fly.

I don’t get the disconnect.  I don’t get how 90 percent of people can be in favor of something 70 percent of them actually do.  I’ve never claimed to know much about math, and I’m sure some old high school teachers of mine can back that up, but even I know that 90 percent doesn’t go into 70 percent in any sane, rational way.

But then, we ARE talking about air travel, and when have the words ‘sane” and “rational” ever been used to describe modern air travel?

Another number the survey tossed out was that 33 percent of air travelers said someone’s reclined seat caused them major physical discomfort during a flight.  I’m certainly in that 33 percent, and that’s why I will never recline my seat during a flight.  I don’t want to cause someone else to be uncomfortable.  I mean, I know what it’s like when someone does it to me.  Why would I want to do it to someone else?  And that meshes pretty closely with the 30 percent of people who say they don’t recline their seats.  So why do 90 percent of air travelers think it should be banned?

Once again, I don’t get it.

This is also another one of those areas in which I prove that I’m not really a man, despite what my DNA seems to think.  Almost all of the people who say they don’t recline their seats are women; men, on the other hand, have no compunction about whamming a piece of hard plastic into someone else’s very soft knee.  And after having devoted a (very small) amount of time in thinking back on the matter, I believe almost every occasion on which I’ve been inconvenienced by a reclining seat back it’s been by a guy.  Not every time, but a large majority of the times.  Men. . .what are you gonna do with them?

I don’t pretend to have a solution to all of this, except for airlines to give everyone enough legroom to safely lower seat backs, and we all know THAT’S never gonna happen.  I just found it interesting that 90 percent of people are in favor of banning a problem that 70 percent of them contribute to.  To paraphrase a great philosopher, humans are on occasion, illogical, this being one of those occasions, I guess.



Never in a million years did I think I would find 600 years of history.

I was doing some research online over the weekend for an ongoing project of mine when I took a little detour. I don’t quite remember how I became detoured, I just know that I was. And once I was on the detour I realized it was something kinda special, and just kept clicking on links, and clicking on links, and clicking on links.

This is what I found.

In 1440, a guy named Thomas Bosworth was born in Cottesbrooke, England. He had a son named Robert in 1470. Robert had a son named William, born in 1500 in Leicestershire, England. William had a son named John, born in 1530. John had a son named Edward, born in 1565. Edward had a son, also named Edward and also born in Leicestershire, born in 1589. Edward had a son named Jonathon, born in 1613, who went to a strange land called “America” and ended up in the Plymouth Colony.

Yes, THAT Plymouth Colony.

Jonathon had a son also named Jonathon, who was born in the Plymouth Colony in 1636. Jonathon Jr. had a son named Ichabod, born in Swansea, Massachusetts in 1676. Ichabod had a son named Henry, born in 1710. Henry had a daughter named Sarah, born in 1746. Sarah married a guy named Daniel Jones, and they had a son they named Daniel, born in New Milford, Connecticut, in 1769.

I realize this story is getting biblical in its naming of names. But hang in there.

Daniel Jones had a son named Cyrus, born in Plattsburg, New York, in 1802. Daniel and his wife Phoebe had a daughter named Helen, who was born in 1829. Helen married a guy named Augustus Niles, and they moved to Michigan, where they had a son named Arthur, born in 1855. Arthur had a son named Lew, born in 1884. Lew had a daughter named Dorothy, born in 1915. Dorothy had a daughter named Darlene, who married a guy named Chick, who had a son named Jim.

You That Jim.

Somehow I managed to stumble onto an almost 600-year history of one branch of my family tree. Lew Niles was my great-grandfather, a piano tuner who died when I was barely out of diapers. While in Park Cemetery a few days ago I wandered past his grave and noticed that there are two other Niles buried near him. That’s what I was looking for on my “detour” Sunday; trying to find out if I was related to those two Niles buried near my great-grandfather.

I had no idea I’d be going all the way back to my (deep breath here) great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather in the process.

Aside from the names, of course, I know nothing about the people who kept popping up on the site I found, a list that had been put together by a descendant of the Bosworth family. I think the fact that this branch of the family tree came from England was lucky; after all, I haven’t come across much about the German or Irish or Swedish or Finnish or any of the other nationalities that went into make me. Also lucky was the fact that someone had gone through all kinds of work to find this out, and had then stuck it on a site that allowed you to keep clicking on links without asking you to sign up and pay a king’s ransom to find out if you are, indeed, related to a king.

The fact that I had a relative born at Plymouth Colony? Just a bonus. A cool bonus, but a bonus nonetheless.

So the next time you’re doing something on the web, and all of a sudden find yourself taking a little detour you didn’t plan to take, you know what? Follow it for a link or two. After all, you never where—or when—you’ll end up!


FRIDAY, 7/31:

Well, the fun starts one month from Sunday.

One month from Sunday, which will be Wednesday, September 2nd, Loraine and I, along with my parents, will be hopping aboard four different planes and hopefully find ourselves in Frankfurt, Germany, where we'll join Loraine's parents and Tony the Tour Guide for yet another Koski European Adventure.  And I can tell it's serious, not because we're just one month out, but because I hauled the suitcases up from the basement.

And if the suitcases are out of the basement, you KNOW the time is drawing near!

For the two of us, this is going to be a “vacation” more than a trip.  There won't be any research, no people to visit, and no press conferences to give.  Instead, we'll just be spending a week and a half with parents enjoying the beauty of the Black Forest, Austria, and, for the fourth time for me and Loraine, the Berchtesgaden area of southern Germany.

You know, this place--

I'm really looking forward to it for a couple of reasons—I get to spend a week and a half with my parents, which means I'll see them more in those ten days than I'll see them all year, which is kinda funny when you consider they only live six blocks away from me.  But that, I guess, is life.  The other reason? 

I don't have to drive an inch.  Or, if I really wanna get into the spirit of it, I don't have to drive a centimeter.  And after last year's journey, during which Loraine & I probably added an extra 200 kilometers onto our trip thanks to road repairs and detours, that'll be a welcome change.  I'll just get to sit back, take pictures, chat with my loved ones, and let Tony do the driving.

Now THAT'S what I call a vacation, and it all starts a month from Sunday.  And, as always, you're more than welcome to follow along!


Like I did last week, I'm giving myself a three day weekend again this weekend, so if you come back Monday and don't see anything new, it's not the fault of your computer.  It's my fault, and I'll try to feel a little remorse as I'm out playing in (what I hope will be) the sun.  So have a great weekend; see you again Tuesday!



What a difference a year makes.  Or, to be a little more precise, what a difference two years makes.

Over the past couple of years Loraine & I have noticed something.  Over the past two years, despite the fact that we're both out and about quite a bit, we hardly saw any of these--

When I was growing up (and even now as I'm still struggling to grow up) I always thought of chipmunks as a sign of summer.  Unlike their bigger cousins, the squirrels, chipmunks aren't around (at least outside) the whole year.  You mostly see them during the summer.  And that's why, the past two years, both Loraine and I have been mildly concerned about the lack of chipmunks we saw.  Two years ago, in fact, Loraine was counting, and figured she saw less than a dozen chipmunks all summer long.

I count license plates, and she counts chipmunks.  I guess we really ARE the perfect couple!

Anyway, this year has changed all that.  Over the past few months Loraine has noticed so many chipmunks that she stopped counting, while I actually saw more in one one hour bike ride a few weeks ago than she saw during all of 2013.  So I guess that means the chipmunks are back!

I'm not an expert on these things (some would claim, in fact, that I'm not an expert on anything), but I have to wonder why chipmunks are, all of a sudden, back in full force.  I thought it might've had something to do with the weather, but each of the last three springs & summers have been pretty much the same.  I don't know what a chipmunk's natural enemies are, but I highly doubt that those enemies would've appeared in greater numbers in 2013 and 2014 and then have disappeared this year, allowing the chipmunks to thrive again.  And I wouldn't think that the food the critters eat would've gone away for two years and then all of a sudden returned, leading to greater numbers.

I just don't know.  And you know what?  I really don't care, as I like chipmunks.  I'm glad they're back.  They're cute, they're fun, they don't poop as much as geese, and they don't smell like skunks.  So if they wanna return in numbers greater than ever before, I'm fine with that.

I'm just a bit curious as to why.



Wow.  I guess Marquette really IS a major national travel destination!

My little license plate survey is now over.  For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, every year during the week leading up to Art on the Rocks I count license plates.  Well, I don't count the plates themselves; instead, I keep track of how many different state license plates I see while wandering around for a week.  And this year, I (or Marquette) set a record--

43 states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian provinces.  That's people from 47 different governmental units that visited Marquette in a one week span.  You can't tell me that's not some major tourism right there!

Actually, there may have been more.  Like I said, I just keep track of the plates I see when I'm out and about, mostly in downtown Marquette.  I don't spend every second on the streets counting plates, nor am I everywhere in the city at every second; quantum mechanics, after all, wouldn't allow that.  But the fact that I saw 47 different plates just blows my mind.

Instead of listing the plates I saw, it's probably easier to list the ones I didn't see.  I didn't see Alaska or Hawaii, but I doubt I'd ever see those.  I didn't see Idaho, nor did I see Rhode Island or New Hampshire, all states with small populations.  And I didn't see Alabama or Mississippi, but that's not a surprise.  Those are the states with the two lowest per capita incomes in the country, and I'm guessing that people there have better things on which to spend their money than a trip to Marquette.

Other than that, though, people from every single state in the country, plus D.C., plus Ontario, Quebec, and (friendly) Manitoba made a point to come and visit Marquette last week.  And for some reason, that blows my mind.

I saw a ton of plates from Minnesota and Illinois and Ohio; not so many from Wisconsin this year, despite the fact that it's only a few hours away.  And I saw a higher than usual number from California, Washington state, and New York, places that aren't just a few hours away, which means that the people driving those cars wanted to come to Marquette enough to justify two or three days behind the wheel. I mean, part of me is not surprised; after all, during the summer, we live in perhaps the most beautiful place in the country (and I say that with just, I guess, a little personal bias), so why not spend a few days in a car to get here?  But when you realize that a lot of people only have a couple of weeks of vacation every year, and want to come here bad enough to burn through those days driving to the U.P....

Well, I guess that says something about the area in which we live.

My survey's now done for another year, which means that I no longer need to walk down the street with my head on a swivel, trying to see if the car that just passed had plates from a state that I'd not yet written down.  I'm sure my neck will thank me for that.  But part of me wonders if maybe I shouldn't do it again next week, in the week leading up to Ore to Shore.  Who knows--

If I do that, maybe then I'll see plates from Alaska and Hawaii and Idaho and New Hampshire and Rhode Island and Alabama and Mississippi!


TUESDAY, 7/28:

It's nice to see today's gonna be a little different than the past five Tuesdays.

I mean, overall, it'll be a “Tuesday”.  It'll be the day after Monday, it'll be the day before Wednesday, and unless something goes seriously wrong, it should be 24 hours in length.  So in those respects, this Tuesday will be a “Tuesday”.  It's in one very important matter that it won't be a “Tuesday”.--

It's supposed to be warm today!

There has been a very freaky pattern here in Marquette this summer, and it's really shown itself in the last month or so.  For the past five weeks, we've had a warm Monday with a weather system rolling through, which had led to a colder Tuesday.  In some cases, it's been really cold, with temperatures only in the 50s following a Monday in the 70s or 80s.  Laura and I have discussed this on the air, and while we both realize that it's just a coincidence, that there's no scientific reason behind the pattern, it's just...strange that every single Tuesday seems to be the worst weather day of the week.

You know, like Mother Nature has something against Tuesdays!

Most people probably haven't even noticed it, but for some strange reason this “Tuesday” pattern has really stood out to me.  I don't know if it's because I (occasionally) obsess about the summer weather, or if I just notice things that most people don't (or, more likely, both) but it's just been a weird pattern that caught my eye.  Part of it may have to do with something I'm trying this summer; because June was so cold and because I had so many things going on, I have a surplus of vacation days I have to use up.  So instead of using them a half day at a time, I've been giving myself some three-day weekends, where I take Mondays off and go back to work on Tuesdays.

And since the days I take off—Mondays--are the warm days and the days I go back to work—Tuesdays—aren't, it's something that's stuck out to me.  I just guess I'm special that way.  And yes, I mean “special” the same way you'd mean it when you see  a dog trying to catch its tail or a baby play hide & seek with itself a a mirror.

You know, “special”.

But, at least I had the sense to take off the days that are warm and not the days that are cold, even if I scheduled them a month or so ago.  And here I thought predicting the weather that far out was impossible!


Anyway, I'm glad today won't be a typical 2015 summer “Tuesday”.  I mean, I still have to work and everything, but at least the pattern is broken, at least for now.  So if YOU have the good fortune to be off today, get out and enjoy it.  After all, next Tuesday it could be in the 50s again!


FRIDAY, 7/24:

Being married is dangerous.  It really is!

Those of you who've been reading this for a while may remember one of the victims of my bike accident two years ago.  Aside from losing a tooth and a whole bunch of skin, I also lost my wedding ring, which had to be cut off when my finger started to swell to extremes.  Last summer, once my finger totally healed, Loraine bought me a new wedding ring, which I love.  It looks like something from a futuristic space station, and it's made out of titanium, which is supposedly indestructible.

Well, after yesterday, I can say one thing for certain—my wedding ring IS indestructible.

How do I know?  Well, I was in one of the studios at work when I realized I needed to be in another studio in a few seconds to say something on the air.  I ran out of the room, and somehow—I still don't know how—my wedding ring got caught on a door jam that was sticking out a little bit.  My wedding ring did what it was supposed to do.  It held its place.  Unfortunately, it did its job so well that the door jam got pulled out of the door frame a little, and thing that was holding my wedding ring—my finger—is now kind of puffy, bruised, and missing a little skin.

There's your proof that marriage is dangerous.

I don't know how I did what I did; I'm thinking it's just a gift that I was given at birth.  But while running out of the studio my ring somehow got caught on that door jam and started to wrench my finger off.  Luckily, I was able to realize what was going on and stop fairly quickly, but not before the door jam started to give way and certainly not before the ring started to damage my finger.  I;'m thankful it didn't do more damage than it did; after all, it took me almost a year for that finger to return to normal after my bike accident, and I really don't want to start doing little finger exercises all over again.  So hopefully the puffiness will go down, the bruises will disappear, and the skin will grow back.

At least until the next time I do something stupid!

Of course, if nothing else, the whole incident proves that Loraine picked out the right ring to get me.  She wanted to make sure that if I had some kind of weird accident (Me?  Weird accident?  No.....) the ring would survive unscathed.  And while I can't say the same for my finger or for the door jam, my ring did just that—survived unscathed.

Hopefully, something like this won't happen again.  But it still leaves me shaking my head, wondering just when marriage became so dangerous!



By the by, I'm taking another long weekend and won't be working Monday.  I'll be back with one of these on Tuesday.  And I may see you tomorrow at Art on the Rocks.

Have a great summer weekend!



Since I’ve spent so much of 2015 complaining about the weather, I’d like to take the next day or two to point out that Mother Nature has finally—FINALLY—given us something we can call “summer”.

And boy, is it nice.  Let’s hope the second half of summer is the complete opposite of the first half of summer.

As you can probably figure out, I’ve spent as much time as possible outdoors the last few weeks.  And seeing as how it’s been in the 80s many days since the Fourth, I’ve been warm for a couple of weeks now.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m in no way complaining.  After all, I love the heat.  But even I will admit that if you spent hours walking around in a hot city filled with concrete, it’s nice to slip someplace cool for a few seconds.  And in Marquette, we’re lucky enough to have an urban park that allows you to do that.

Have you yet experienced the joy of the Rosewood Walkway?

It’s an oasis in the middle of concrete.  It was built in the gap that was left after the old downtown railroad trestle was torn down in 1999, and was originally supposed to be park of Marquette’s “Linear Park”.  That concept never fully materialized, but the Walkway is a welcome remnant of it.  You can be walking down a hot sidewalk, with the sun baking you, and all you need to do is take a few steps into the walkway and you see this—

Once you’re in the walkway, with is nestled between two buildings, the temperature drops.  And since one end of the walkway faces the lake, a little breeze shoots through the park, and refreshes both your body and your mind.  While in there, you can take a look at the flowers they’re planted in the park—

Or walk to the lake end, and see the history of the city—

There are picnic tables in the park; you can grab a drink from a nearby store or ice cream from Donckers, and enjoy them.  Or you can just cool down enough to once again find yourself ready to face the sun.  I’ve used the park for both reasons, and can give it a very high recommendation for both.

So the next time you’re in downtown Marquette and you find yourself a little warm, try one of the city’s hidden gems.  Trust me—you’ll cool down quickly!

Tomorrow, another sign of summer that's been missing the past few years!



Well, I have to keep up my credentials as a dork SOME way, right?

For the umpteenth year in a row I'm counting license plates.  For those of you who haven't been reading this forever, every year during the week leading up to Art on the Rocks I keep track of how many states and Canadian provinces are represented by license plates in Marquette.  I don't know how it started or what I hoped to accomplish by doing this; all I know is that I've been doing it forever.

And aside from being a dork, I can't figure out WHY I keep on doing it.

Well, I shouldn't say that.  I do it out of curiosity.  I do it to see who's visiting Marquette.  And I do it as a (very) general gauge of how the country's economy is doing.  During years when the economy isn't doing well, like 2007 or 2008, I saw plates from only 15 or 20 different states.  And now that the economy seems to be strong, like in the past two years, I can see plates from up to 40 or 45 different areas.  In fact, only two days in this year, and I'm up 23 so far.

So there's your sign that the U.S. economy is doing well!

I also do it because I notice things while counting plates.  For instance, I can always tell every year when there's either been a newspaper article written about Marquette, or if Travel Marquette Michigan launches an ad campaign in a certain area, if only because plates from those states pop up more than they usually do (this year, for example, there seem to be more plates from Georgia than normal, although I'm only two days in).

I've also noticed that I've become quite good at knowing which plates are from which states, just by looking.  It's easy for many, because they don't change their plates over the years, and after a while you know that New York has orange plates with blue bands, or that Pennsylvania has yellow plates with blue bands.  One look, and I know from which states they come.  Of course, then you get states like Florida (or even Michigan), which seem to have 22 different plates in 22 different colors, and those are the ones that demand your attention.

Sometimes, it's not easy being a dork.  Really, it isn't!

Over the years, I've also learned that I don't need to look at every single car that passes.  For instance, if a pickup truck goes by, odds are that it'll have Michigan plates.  Most people, after all, don't take gas guzzlers on vacations.  And if a Subaru Outback goes by, odds are it will also have Michigan plates, if only because it's the official car of the city of Marquette.  And if you see a vehicle with lots of rust on it or parts trailing off the back of it...well, I can GUARANTEE it'll have Michigan plate son it.

Assuming, of course, the plates haven't fallen off yet.

I'll be curious to see how many I end up with when the week is over, and if I discover any hidden meanings in what I find.  After all, I should end up with something OTHER that enhanced credentials as a dork for doing this for so long, right?

(, uber-dork and knowledge font of all things license plate related.

TUESDAY, 7/21:

Geez.  Maybe I should've put “big boats” on the list of “107 Things to Love About Marquette County”!

By “big boats”, I don't mean a big fishing boat or a big cabin cruiser or even a kayak built for two.  Nope; by “big boats” I mean ore boats.  Because if nothing else, I saw a couple of examples the past few days of just how people love their big boats.

The first was Saturday, when Marquette's Lower Harbor was treated to the sight of not one but two big boats paying a visit.  One was docked at the power plant dropping off a load of coal (or limestone), while the other was sitting just beyond the breakwater waiting for the first boat to disgorge its load.  I first chuckled when I saw pleasure & sail boats cruising around the freighter that was anchored off shore.  Then, as I walked through Founder's Landing, I saw this--

People had actually gone down to the small Founder's Landing beach, pulled out lawn chairs, and were sitting watching the freighter unload its cargo.

Like I said, people really seem to like their big boats!

Then yesterday as I was tooling around on my bike I happened to be near Presque Isle when another ore boat was pulling into the Upper Harbor docks.  And as the ship was coming in, there must have been half a dozen cars in the parking lot by the power plant, cars with people sitting in them watching the freighter gently pull up to the dock and then anchor.

Once again, people really seem to like their big boats!

It's funny; growing up around here I always wondered why the newspaper printed the expected arrival times of ships into Upper Harbor.  I never paid it much attention, and when I did pay attention to it I just wrote it off as one of those strangely absurd things that happens in far flung communities.  But now I get it.  I mean, I don't necessarily understand it, but I get it.  I now realize why the Mining Journal prints the arrival times of ore carriers.

Because, apparently, people really like their big boats!


Speaking of the “107” list, I need to thank 10 or so of you who pointed out a MAJOR typo in Friday's edition, one that neither spell-check nor my increasingly feeble brain caught.  The phrase was supposed to be “my dear wife”, and not “my dead wife”. 

Oops.  Rest assured, it has been corrected!



MONDAY, 7/20:

Okay...let's see if I remember to write a blog about something OTHER than “107 Things to Love About Marquette County”!

Actually, just let me say “thanks” for the notes & feedback about that little two-week excursion into another reality.  I do appreciate them, and if you noticed that there was something I left off, do tell!

So, then...what else has been going on since I last wrote one of these?  Well, the last one I wrote (on July 2nd) had to do with how I was looking forward to the Fourth of July parades in Marquette and Ishpeming, and you know what?  They did not disappoint!  In fact, if you wanna see some of the pictures I took, check 'em out HERE.  You can also marvel at the fact that the winner in our Ishpeming parade was from Cleveland.

Yes, that Cleveland.  Which is almost as bizarre as the fact that I had a “The Beer is Here” qualifier from Berlin, Germany Thursday.  I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that our transmitter's been a little stronger than usual recently!

What else have I been doing?  Well, I've been religiously  DVR'ing the Tour de France every morning and them religiously watching it every evening.  This year they're only passing through one place we've been, and that was the end of stage seven July 9th in Fougeres, which we didn't get to see much of because NBCSN, the American network showing the race, cut away right after the finish so they could show qualifying for a NASCAR race.  Or, I should say, they were scheduled to show qualifying for a NASCAR race; instead, they just showed a lot of rain at a NASCAR track.

And because of that, I didn't get to see a lot of Fougeres.  Bummer.  But I am enjoying the race, as always.  I just have to make sure I avoid seeing who won that day's stage before I get to watch it, which, believe it or not, can be a hard thing to do!

One of my favorite comic strips of all time is back!  Berkley Breathed stopped drawing “Bloom County” back in 1990; however, something sparked in him and he started drawing it again.  This was one of those strips that, when I was in college, I would devour every day, and I have to say that it's just as good now as it was then.  Besides, it's nice to see Milo and Binkley and Oliver (& Opus!) again!

Finally, the weather has finally cooperated enough to allow me to start taking those summer half days that I love so much.  In fact, that's what I'm planning on doing today, so if you don't mind, I'm gonna go to the beach, but I'm gonna leave you with one more thing--

If you're old enough, do you know where you were 46 years ago today?



FRIDAY, 7/17:

And here we are. . .the eighth (and final) day spent listing “107 Things To Love About Marquette County”.

It’s been quite a trip, hasn’t it?  Before I say anything else, I just wanna thank EVERYONE (and trust me, there have been a TON of you) who said you just couldn’t wait until the list was done before dropping me a note about something I wrote, something I ignored, something I photographed, or something I triggered in their memory.  Thank you all very much.  And now that the list is complete (and soon to head to the web in one piece) I look forward to hearing again from you on items that (I’m sure) will make up the new “107 Things To Love About Marquette County That Jim Was Stupid Enough To Leave Off Of His List” list.

For the past 8 days, I’ve been mentioning how this list is a reflection of what I do, where I live, and who I am, which means it’s rather subjective.  The wrap-up of it today perhaps points that out more than anything else, in that today, we talk about things (and people) that I’ve come across and believe worthy of the list.  Some of these are personal, some observational, but all of them are from one person’s point of view.  I know your view’s probably different; that’s why I can’t wait to hear what YOU have to say.

So here we go…the wrap-up of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County”!

The Ishpeming and Marquette FOURTH OF JULY PARADES.  I’ve done these for oh, I dunno, almost 20 years now, and I hafta admit that it’s one of my favorite days of the year.  There’s no rush quite the like one you get when you walk down a streets and see hundreds of people holding up signs with your name on them.  It’s really amazing!

FALL FEST, NMU’s annual way of welcoming students back to Marquette for the start of the school year.  Like parades on the 4th, I’ve been doing Fall Fest forever, and if for some reason I don’t get to (I’ve only missed two or three since the early 90s) my entire September just doesn’t feel right.

BIG SHAG LAKE--when I was a kid, I spent big chunks of my summers there, at my grandparents’ camp.  And while I haven’t been out there for a while now, that lake will always hold a very special place in my heart.

URBAN RENEWAL--When I redid this list the first time a couple of years ago, I asked blog readers if there was anything I should stick in it.  Well, one of the responses I received was from someone who left Marquette for a home elsewhere in the U.P., and wrote that he missed the constant sense of change and “growth” in Marquette.  Where he lives, things just get shuttered up or torn down when they close.  In Marquette, buildings and ideas get reused, and what emerges is usually stronger than it was before.  As he put it, there’s “still a sense of hope in Marquette”.  And we’re fortunate that there is.

And in that same vein, I also have to include the fact that recently Marquette County has seemed to have adopted a slogan along the lines of “WE DO BIG THINGS”.  Think of it--in the past year, we’ve had everything from dozens of civic awards to celebrities coming to play golf for charity, and from visits from two Presidents to TV shows shooting in the city.

Not many communities our size can make that claim!

The RANGE BANK PARKING DECK--Because I work right across the street from it, because my dear wife works there, and because I sometimes use downtown Marquette as my own personal jungle gym, I often find myself standing on the top of the deck, either cooling down after a workout or finding myself in a very zen-like state of calm, thanks to the view you get from there.  You know...views like this--

The LILACS AT LAKESIDE PARK--you know how much I like lilacs, right?  Well, I think the best concentration of them is in this small park, right next to the Lake Superior Community Partnership offices.  Just walk over there in late May or early June, standing the middle of all the bushes, and inhale deeply.  If that’s not heaven on Earth, I don’t know what is!

WILLIAMS PARK--Speaking of Marquette parks, I like this one because, for a decade and a half now, it’s been my “neighborhood” park.  Yet so few people know about, despite the fact it has tennis and basketball courts, a playground, and a terraced stone garden dating back to the Depression.  If you’ve never been there, go, and just take a look.  You can thank me later.

The 400 BLOCK OF HIGH STREET in Marquette.  For seven years of that decade-plus I just mentioned, this was where I lived, and I hafta admit I still miss it a little.  The people who lived around us were some of the friendliest I’ve ever met, people with whom we still keep in touch.  Everyone deserves to have neighbors like that!

LITTLE, SEEMINGLY HIDDEN STREETS IN MARQUETTE like Mather, or Chamberlain, or Fitch, or Blemhuber, streets you can explore at your leisure with a little stroll, streets that have their own histories and their own interesting stories to tell.

Heck, I also need to add the fact that you can WALK AROUND MARQUETTE whenever and wherever you want, see so many things, do so many activities, and meet so many friendly people.  There aren’t a lot of places where you can do that; we’re very lucky in that regard.

Speaking of FRIENDLY, GREAT PEOPLE, that’s another thing we have in abundance in Marquette County.  You’ll always hear visitors to the area say “everyone’s so friendly up here”, and it’s true.  And it’s not just visitors who feel like that; in the last few years, I can’t count the number of people Loraine and I have met, people who’ve shared their stories and their recollections and their time with us.  Without people that like, she wouldn’t know what she does about World War II, and I wouldn’t know all those interesting little historic facts about the area that I keep sprouting off.  So we can both attest to what visitors to the area already know--you guys rock!

Finally, speaking of you guys, I wrap up the list of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County” with this item--

YOU.  After all, without the thousands of listeners and blog readers who show up every day, my life would be a whole lot different than it is now.  So thanks for everything!

Well, there you go.  The list, after 8 days, is complete.  Now, it’s your turn!  Have yourself a great weekend!



Another day, another portion of the “107 Things To Love About Marquette County” list.  Today?  Things that are uniquely “Marquette”. . .


There are very few places in the country where you can find sandstone architecture still standing.  The fact that we have so many of these buildings still around (and in use) is amazing.

ARTSY PEOPLE--This may be one of those things you don’t even think of, but it’s true.  I think Marquette may have more artists, musicians, writers, and “interesting” individuals per capita than any other community of its size.  Probably why, among the many honors the city’s received over the last decade, it’s been named as one of the “Top 100 Art Cities In The U.S.”.  And I’m not just talking about “professional” artists; I think almost everyone here has that vibe to them in one way or another.  How else could you explain this?

Yup, you got it right.  It’s a flower bed.

See what I mean?

And as a very important subset of the above category, let’s add MUSICAL PEOPLE to this list.  When you think of the amazing amount of musical talent we have around here, from home-grown to recently arrived, it just makes your just drop.  It really does.


I’ll often refer to it as a big party with me and a few thousand of my closest drunk friends, but it is a destination every December 31st.  And thankfully, every year when it seems like it may be discontinued, someone steps up to help out.  Here’s to hoping we’ll keep seeing the ball drop for years to come!

THE NOQUEMANON--In the last 16 years, this has become one of the pre-eminent cross country ski races in the country, and for good reason.  Over 1,000 people take part every year over one of the most beautiful courses is the U.S.  Oh, and they get to hear one darn fine finish line announcer, too.


ORE TO SHORE--In the past 10 or 12 , this has become one of the premiere bike race weekends in the country, and, like the Noque, for good reason.  The mass starts in Negaunee are jaw-dropping, and the scenery through which the riders ride is spectacular.  Oh, and I hear THAT race has one darn fine finish line announcer, too!

THE U.P. 200--What the Noque is for cross country skiing and the Ore to Shore is for biking, the U.P. 200 is for sled dog racing.  If you’ve never stood on Washington Street in Marquette at least once as the dogs take off, I don’t know that you can consider yourself a true Yooper!

GLACIER GLIDE--Every year, this is one of the many events that takes place during the U.P. 200 weekend, and it’s probably the most unique.  Art is spread out around Presque Isle, and you get to walk, snowshoe, or ski around the Island to look at it.  Okay, you can stop laughing now. . .it’s actually a blast, and that’s coming from someone who, as you may recall, really doesn’t like winter!!

ART ON THE ROCKS--However, if you wanna see art outdoors in slightly more temperate conditions, THIS is the art show for you.  And since they moved the show to another of the 107 Things to Love About Marquette County, Lower Harbor Park, you can just walk to the show!

THE ROUNDABOUT—Oh, I know our roundabout gets ragged on by people who are afraid of it, and it's not a true roundabout in the European sense, but I like it.  I think it's cool.  And seeing as how it's about to be joined by another just down the bypass in Marquette, and a couple out in Ishpeming, pretty soon Marquette County could be renamed Roundabout County!

FOOD FESTS--It could be the INTERNATIONAL FOOD FEST or the BEER FEST in Marquette, or the ITALIAN FEST in Ishpeming, but these are weekends that draw thousands of people and raise thousands of dollars for charity.  You can’t go wrong with those, can you?

PETUNIA PANDEMONEUM--Every May, hundreds of volunteers gather in Marquette, and line the US-41 corridor into the city with thousands of blooming flowers, which then greet visitors throughout the summer.  You know how they say first impressions are the ones that count?  Those flowers make a heck of a first impression!


We also have the world’s largest wooden domed stadium in our backyard.  I don’t know about you, but I’m having trouble believing it’s been over 25 years since construction started on it.  We’ve been using the Dome for over 25 years now!!

Here are a few non-physical items to add to the “Uniquely Marquette” portion of the list.  The first?  The fact that PEOPLE START WEARING SHORTS WHEN THE TEMPERATURE FINALLY GETS ABOVE FREEZING.  People never believe me when I tell ‘em it’s true, but you know it is.  After a long & cold winter, when do you start seeing people wear shorts?  The first day it gets above freezing. Some people, in fact, don’t stop wearing them until it hits freezing again in September or October.  How many other communities are as hardy as that?

Speaking of weather-related activities, how about a SOUTHWEST SUMMER WIND in the city of Marquette.  You know those winds, right, the ones that down-slope off the hills and cause the city to be 10 or 15 sweltering degrees warmer than the rest of the county?  We only get them a few days of the year, but in all honesty, those are my favorite days of the year.

Finally, there’s one more thing to add to this part of the list, and, I hafta admit, there’s a bit of personal preference here.  I hafta add the VIEW YOU GET FROM M-28 as you’re driving into Marquette from the east.  There’s that moment, right as you clear the trees and get to the two beach turn-offs, when you actually see the entire city of Marquette before you.  When I lived downstate and was driving back, that was always the moment I knew I was HOME, especially at night, when you could see the entire city lit up in the distance.

If that view ever fails to move something in my heart, I plan on checking my pulse. . .stat!!

Speaking of personal preferences, tomorrow we wrap up this epic list with the items that are uniquely “Jim”.  And since the words “Jim” and “unique” seem to fit together kinda well, you may be in for a treat!!



Okay, I’ve figured it out.  Three more days, and the list of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County” will be finished, and ready to stick up in one piece on our website.  In the meantime, I hope you don’t mind being used as a sounding board for it.  In writing it by sections and posting it as blogs, I’ve gotten a TON of feedback from people (and thanks to each and every one of you), which will allow me to fine tune it before the final posting.  Not only that, but you guys have been contributing lots of suggestions for the follow up, the “107 Things To Love About Marquette County That Jim Was Dumb Enough To Leave Off His List” list.

Today, some businesses and shops that I would stick on the list.  Of course, you would probably add different ones to YOUR list, which is why the aforementioned feedback is so important.  So, if you have something to feed back, feed it back!

I go to THE MARQUETTE FOOD CO-OP quite a bit because I only work a few blocks from it, but you know what?  I’d go there even if I worked miles away.  The selection’s great, the people are even greater, and you’re constantly amazed by what you can find there, especially since they opened their new, expanded store last year.

The same goes for the really fresh (mostly grown in Michigan) produce at FARMER Q’S.  And now that they, like the Co-op, are open in a new, bigger location, it’s even better!

I think that we as an area are incredibly lucky to have a place like JILBERT DAIRY here.  I mean, they deserve a place on this list for no other reason than their Amaretto-Cherry Mackinaw Island Fudge ice cream, doncha think?

Well, doncha??

Last week when I mentioned the Farmer's Market I purposely left off something I get there every week because I wanted to mention it here—DAVIN'S CHOCOLATES.  Davin Makela is a Marquette resident who makes his own chocolate, grinding his own beans, adding whatever flavors need to get added, and then tempering it before he sells it at the market, and take it from someone who's eaten his fair share of chocolate—Davin knows what he's doing.  Rush down there and find out for yourself!

GETZ’S is a throwback (in the best possible way) to department stores of old, when friendly people sold stuff they actually knew about.  It’s my one-stop shop for Levi’s, if nothing else!

Believe it or not, I’ve never actually purchased anything at THILL’S FISHHOUSE, but here’s why it makes the list--every time my in-laws visit from downstate, the last place they visit in Marquette is Thill’s, where my father-in-law stocks a cooler full of Lake Superior whitefish.  That, I believe, says it all.

'WORD ON THE STREET” is not an actual physical business you can visit; instead, it's a blog about what's going on and about to go on in Marquette.  It's written by Brian Cabell, who I used to watch on CNN Headline News (back when there WAS a CNN Headline News”, so he knows his stuff and how to report it.  In fact, you'll find stories on the blog days (or weeks) before anywhere else.  If you haven't read it yet, do so at  You'll keep going back again and again!

SNOWBOUND BOOKS is a place where you can find yourself lost for hours just browsing every little thing on the shelves.  Don’t believe me?  Try going in there without a watch or without looking at a clock.  You’ll see I’m right.

Speaking (in a way) of books, GLOBE PRINTING did an amazing job with the two BOOKS Loraine has (so far) written.  They have an incredibly talented and hard working staff, and you get a bonus when you go into their shop—the “Anatomy of a Murder” wall.  Yes, I may be a history and movie geek, but I get lost in my own little world just looking around there.

Every neighborhood in Marquette has its own little party store.  In my neighborhood, it’s THE SPOT.  Need something on the spur of the moment?  It’s there; in fact, I’m amazed that they can stock so many different things into a place that’s so small.  Every time I go in I look for the mirrors and the hidden rooms.  Haven’t found ‘em yet, though.  Plus, I like their street signs--

If you ever find yourself lacking a unique gift for someone who already has everything, just go to A TOUCH OF FINLAND, and you’ll find what you’re looking for.  I can’t tell you the number of times that store’s saved my behind in that regard.

Finally, I really DO need to include the fine people at IRON BAY COMPUTER & DESIGN.  After all, without them, you wouldn’t be reading this!

Next time, we start to hit the home stretch with things that are uniquely Marquette County.  Following that, we wrap it up with Marquette County things that are uniquely Jim.

Stay tuned.


TUESDAY, 7/14:

Ready to get back into it?

The ongoing rollout of the fourth edition “107 Things To Love About Marquette County” continues today, with food.  Like many people, I have my favorite places to eat, many of which are listed here.  And these are places, for the most part, where you can either sit down & eat, or grab something while you’re out and about, taking a stroll or running errands.

Like I’ve said since last week, this whole list is this is VERY subjective, based on the things I do and the places I go and the people I know.  When this is all done (or even before it’s all done) I’d LOVE to hear from you if there are any items you think should be on the list, because I’m sure there are a TON of things that should be on the list that won’t be.

So with that out of the way just let me say this--I hope you’re hungry today!

THE PORTSIDE has become, I believe, one of my favorite Marquette restaurants.  The food is great, the people are great, and the pictures on the wall are great.  What more could you ask from a restaurant?

Right down the street from the Portside, BABYCAKES has the perfect thing for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.  It’s their sour-cream chocolate chip muffin, and while I’m sure it causes you to add two pounds and shoot your cholesterol level up 20 points just by looking at it, it’s that’s good.  If you haven’t tried it, try it!

Speaking of something you really have to try, Negaunee’s MIDTOWN BAKERY makes these chocolate-oatmeal cookies with just a hint of orange flavor to them.  When we’re exploring parts of the West End, Loraine and I always stop there for lunch, and get a bunch of the cookies to go with us.  After all, you never know when you’ll need a quick fix, right?

CAL’S PARTY STORE--Speaking of cookies, the ones they sell at Cal’s are not only yummy, but they’re also the size of a Frisbee (and no, I’m not kidding!)  Ever since I’ve discovered those cookies, I’ve developed a new favorite summer pastime--buying one of them, and then burning off the calories while walking around Marquette.  Sure, I may have to spend several hours walking around Marquette to burn off said calories, but what’s wrong with that?

Now, lest you get the idea that all I eat is cookies (and muffins, and chocolate), rest assured that’s not true.  Why, aside from getting great ice cream and, uhm, chocolate, you can also enjoy real food at places like DONCKERS.  In fact, I think the best macaroni and cheese on the planet is available there.  If you haven’t tried it yet, you really owe it to yourself to do so.  After all, when was the last time you had mac & cheese with several different kinds of cheeses, including Gouda?

If you’re ever in the mood for something with a south-of-the-border flair, stop by SOL AZTECTA.  True story—Loraine & I were their first ever paying customers; in fact, we signed their first dollar for them.  But we keep going back & back (& back) because the food is awesome.

I think my favorite breakfast in Marquette may be the SWEETWATER CAFÉ’s French toast.  I get it made with whole wheat bread, and when you combine it with U.P.-produced maple syrup, the whole thing just kinda transports your mouth to a tasty heaven.

Let's not forget THE NEW YORK DELI; specifically, let's not forget the Cuban sandwiches they sell on occasion.  I'm actually thinking it's a good thing they're not on their permanent menu; if that were the case, I'm guessing I could be quite a bit heavier than I am now!

Speaking of which (weighing more than I do now) it's a good thing I don't visit GOPHER'S everyday.  And that's all I'm gonna say about that!

Finally, I don’t go to JEAN KAY’S for the reason you think.  I know the rest of you go there for pasties (and they are good), but Jean Kay’s is another one of those places I like to visit on those summer walks.  They have these really simple chocolate-covered rice krispie bars that, for some reason, just seem to hit the spot when you’re out in the sun.  Yum.

Okay. . .I think I’ve added 5 pounds just by putting this part of the list together, which means I should stop now, before you get the idea that ALL I do is eat out.  I don’t; it’s just that when I do, these places are where I go.  And like I said at the beginning, I’m sure you have places just like that in your life.  If you wanna let me know about them, I’ll make sure they’re in the “107 Things To Love About Marquette County That Jim Was Dumb Enough To Leave Off His List” list.

Next time?  Businesses that make Marquette County cool.


FRIDAY, 7/10:

Today, part four of the “107 Things To Love About Marquette County” epic.  Like I’ve said all week, this is a VERY subjective list, based on the things I do and the places I go and the people I know, today more than before, because we’re talking about certain people that I think make this a great place to live. 

MY FAMILY--I’m incredibly lucky, in that I get to live in the same area as my mom & dad, Melanie and Marc, Courtney, Mallory and Sydney, (a.k.a. my sister and brother, and my nieces and nephews), as well as any other people who share a snippet of DNA.  How many of us can say that?

MY FRIENDS--I’m incredibly lucky again, because Marquette County’s also home to people like Roxanne, and Justine & Scott, and Joe & Karen, and a whole slew of others.  But I do hafta single one of them out...

DEANNA--Many of you know of her from her days at TV-6, but trust me. . .that’s nothing.  Every day, there’s something new with her, and every day, I look forward to hearing what it is!

CO-WORKERS--Speaking of co-workers, over the past 25 years it’s gotten quite huge.  And while I don’t even probably remember all of them, they certainly have made Marquette County a special place for me, at least.

MY “other” CO-WORKERS, this time at Public TV 13.  When I stepped in to start hosting a show that they've been doing for 36 years before me, they both made it easy for me and made me feel like part of the family.  So thanks!

The PEOPLE WHO PUT EVENTS TOGETHER-One of the things you quickly learn about Marquette County is that there is always something going on, and each and every one of those somethings has to be planned and carried through.  So the next time you're at anything from a food festival to an art show to a bike race, seek out those responsible for it, and thank them for all of their hard work.  They really deserve it!

The AMERICAN EAGLE GATE AGENTS AT SAWYER INTERNATIONAL.  You know, I’m guessing that theirs is a mostly thankless job, but every time I fly somewhere, they always ask where I’m going, in a fun manner and like they’re genuinely curious.  And what’s more amazing is that they often remember where I flew the previous time, and ask how THAT trip went.

Everyone who works at THE U.P. REGIONAL BLOOD CENTER deserves to be on here, too.  I know I may be a bit biased (because, as you know, I do a lot of work with them) but they’re very good at what’s a very hard job--trying to convince people to get stuck by a needle and give up some of their body fluids.  I know I wouldn’t be that successful at it.

PHIL NEIMISTO--Anyone who’s walked through downtown Marquette knows about Phil & his Pocket Pock flowers, and his incredible window washing skills.  He’s just one of those people who make Marquette Marquette, you know?  And when his flowers were trashed about a week ago, the community came to his rescue, showing just what a local treasure he is.  And trust me—he really is!!

CAROL PAPALEO--One of my favorite local artists, if only because that’s what she is--an artist who paints local scenes (her downtown sandstone series being one of my favorite).  There aren’t a lot of artists from whom I buy originals. . .she’s definitely one of them!

JACK DEO--I’ve often joked that Jack was my “dealer”, because I’m addicted to the enormity of his collection of historic photographs of Marquette.  Not only that, he’s a fun guy to host a history program with, as well (hint hint—another big one's on the way in January 2016!).  Throw in all he does for the Marquette arts community, and you see why he’s on the list!

THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH MARQUETTE.  Even though my dad was born there, I never spent much time in that particular part of the city.  But since I’ve started giving tours of it, I’ve discovered an amazing fact--in an entire city of incredibly friendly people, the residents of south Marquette may be the friendliest.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone for a walk around Division or Jackson or Blemhuber and not been stopped by people wanting to chat (or to just say “hi”).  You can’t beat that!

Speaking of people, the PEOPLE OF REPUBLIC deserve a special mention here.  Over the past decade my (much) better half has been “adopted” by the town, and every time we go out there we're treated like members of the “family”.  Plus, we've learned one very important thing about the town, and I quote one of our friends out there--”If you leave Republic hungry, it's your own fault”!  And trust me—we've never left there hungry!

NMU STUDENTS--After all, without NMU students, we wouldn’t get to see things like this!

I may joke about NMU students and their fondness for parties, but they are for the most part a great group of people, especially for those who are a part of THE NMU VOLUNTEER CENTER.  They devote an extraordinary amount of time into making Marquette a great place to live, and really don’t get a lot of credit for it.  Here’s my way of correcting that injustice!

Speaking of which, ANYONE who volunteers for any service project or non-profit agency deserves to be on this list, as well.  And you know what?  Now you are!

Finally, today I’ve saved the best for last--LORAINE. 

Sure, she wasn’t born here, but with the way she’s woven herself into things around here, you’d never know!  I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been without her, and I can only imagine what kind of adventures we’ll get into together in the future!  Besides, she’s managed not to throttle me even once in all the years we’ve been together, and that’s gotta count for SOMETHING, right?


Now, I'm off Monday (yay me!) so there won't be a new one of these.  Hope that doesn't throw too much of a monkey wrench into you plans.  Have a great weekend, and come back Tuesday, we’ll get into food.  After all, that’s one of the few things that makes the early part of a week worth it, right?



Another day, another section to the ongoing list of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County”.  Today, nature, and what it brings us!

Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m not the stereotypical Yooper.  I don’t like to camp, I don’t hunt, and, if truth be told, I’m more comfortable around concrete than I am wild animals.  But that still doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate what we have around here; in fact, I ‘m willing to forego concrete just to have the chance to enjoy these wonders of our environment.

JULY, AND AUGUST--Whenever someone asks me why I want to stay in Marquette, living through endless months of snow and cold, I always reply with those two words.  During July and August (well, most Julys and Augusts) I can’t think of a more pleasant, enjoyable, and beautiful place on the face of the Earth.  It makes living through the snow and the cold worth it.

BIG BAY, AND THE DRIVE THERE--Depending upon which season you drive there, you get awesome views of green, or of white, or of red, or, if it’s spring, dirt.  But it’s always an awesome view heading up there, and once you’re in Big Bay, it’s a fun little place to explore (like, in fact, a lot of SMALL TOWNS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY).

COUNTY ROAD 492--Two things about the back road between Marquette and Negaunee have always appealed to me--the fact that it’s a FUN bike ride, and the fact that, during the fall, it’s one of the best places in the area to see amazing fall colors.  (The highway center line was also invented by K.I. Sawyer for this road; that’s just a bonus, I guess).

Okay, I’ve mentioned FALL COLORS twice so far, so I’m guessing they better make this list, too!

FOG--As far as I can tell, there are very few drawbacks about living next to Lake Superior.  One of those is that the lake can keep us quite cool during the spring and summer.  But an offshoot of that, when warm ground air meets cool lake air, allows us to see things like this--

THE FIT STRIP--Ever since I moved back to Marquette over 25 years ago, I’ve used this one-mile trail for everything from running to skiing.  The fact that it sits right smack-dab in the middle of the city is amazing; the fact that it’s also home to everything from raccoon to deer is even more amazing!

BLUEBERRY RIDGE--When I’m looking for a longer ski than a few laps around the Fit Strip, this is where I go.  There’s just something about these trails that always puts me in a great mood.  For others, though, the NOQUEMANON TRAIL NETWORK does the same.  You can’t go wrong with either!

The IRON ORE HERITAGE TRAIL—Perhaps the newest thing on this list, and a trail many area residents don't even know about.  But running from Republic all the way down to Harvey, it's a great way to run/walk/bike/snowmobile/whatever(depending upon which section of the trail you use) over part of Marquette County history.

HILLS--When I first put this list together back in 2000, I left these off the list, and boy, did I hear about it!  Until you’ve lived somewhere flat, you really don’t appreciate having a little variety in your terrain.  You really don’t!

DUCKS--I’m not talking about the geese that seem to pop up everywhere, leaving their calling cards wherever they go.  I’m talking about these cute little things

that make their home at places like Park Cemetery or on Lake Superior.  Just seeing a mom duck and her brood waddling around is enough to melt even the hardest of non-nature loving hearts.

Trust me on that one!

Next time, the list continues with some of the people who I feel make this place extra special.



Here we go...part two of the “107 Things To Love About Marquette County”.  Like I said yesterday, this is a VERY subjective list, based on the things I do and the places I go and the people I know.  When this is all done (or even before it’s all done) I’d LOVE to hear from you if there are any items you think should be on the list, because I’m sure there are a TON of things that should be on the list that won’t be.

That, however, is a topic for another day.  As far as today’s topic?  One of my FAVORITE local subjects...


One of the things that we are so fortunate to have in this area is a sense of history; a sense of why we became the area we eventually became.  We have people and groups dedicated to preserving this story and, because of that, we live among marvels like the following--


How many of you know that this rock, now a nesting place for seagulls, was an important piece of land for the first non-native settlers of the area?  Ships used to anchor to the rock, throw supplies (and livestock) overboard, and then bring them to shore.  Before ore docks, there was Ripley’s Rock.


Then after Ripley’s Rock, there were indeed ore docks.  In fact, at one time, over a dozen of them graced both Marquette harbors.  And while only one of them is still functional, they serve as a vital reminder of the area’s past.  After all, Marquette came into existence because iron miners needed a place from which to ship their ore.  Without ore docks, there never would’ve been a Marquette.


Where else might you find a 111-year old building that’s still used for its original purpose (a courthouse and county offices), but has also doubled as a movie set, an architectural temple, and as a place where some of us get married?  Not many!


Yesterday, we talked about a couple of the civic projects behind which the spirit of Mr. White lurks.  Here’s another; like the Courthouse, it’s 111 years old, and like the Courthouse, it’s still used for its original purpose.  The two year-long renovation of a decade and a half ago was certainly worth it, as well.


Okay, it’s now known as Wells Fargo, but for a lot of us, it will also be the First National Bank building.  When Louis Kaufman built it in 1927, it was, per square foot, the most expensive construction project in the country.  If you’ve never been inside it, do yourself a favor, walk in the lobby, and just stare at the ceiling.  You’ll be amazed.


Right before he built the First National Bank building, Louis Kaufman threw his muscle behind construction of a new high school, named after his mother’s family.  Over the years, it’s been a high school, a middle school, an intermediate school, and now an elementary school, but after almost 90 years, it’s still going strong.  Let’s hope it continues for another 90!


Where did people like Peter White and Louis Kaufman live?  In Marquette’s historic East Side, where a stroll up & down the streets reveal some of the most amazing houses built in the last 130 years.


This may be the one historic building that’s not yet been returned to its former glory.  It’s been tied up in legal proceedings for as long as I can remember, but plans are now afoot to renovate it and turn it into a housing complex.  Let’s hope it works out!


When this was erected in the late 1800s, it was actually down by the Maritime Museum; now sitting in Lakeside Park, it allows the city’s namesake to overlook his domain.  There is supposedly another version of this statue sitting outside what translates to the Father Marquette Middle School in Post-a-Mousson, France, where he studied as a young Jesuit, but the school was under renovation when I visited last year and couldn't confirm it.  I'll see if I can get someone in the town's tourist office to snap me a picture to share!

The next picture actually takes care of two items at once.  First, THE LANDMARK INN--Over the last couple of decades, many of Marquette historic buildings were falling into disrepair.  Fortunately, most of them have been restored to their former glory; in the case of the Landmark, Christine Pesola went waaaaaaay past what the old Northland Hotel once was, turning it into an amazing place to stay, eat, and gather.

Finally, helping preserve all this history, not just in Marquette but around the county, are many local groups, including the MARQUETTE REGIONAL HISTORY CENTER (the dome of which is in the picture above), NEGAUNEE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, and the REPUBLIC HISTORICAL SOCIETY.  I mention these three because, in order, I’m a former board member, they’ve been helpful in providing all kinds of information, and they’re some of the nicest (and most dedicated) people I’ve met.  If you’ve not visited any of their museums, do so, and see for yourself!

That’s it for today; next time, nature makes the list.



As promised, here we go--the FOURTH edition of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County”!

But a word or two before we begin.  As with every edition of this list, every item on here is SUBJECTIVE.  It speaks to who I am, what I do, and where I go.  Most of the items on the list are from Marquette; that’s only because that where I spend most of MY time.  There are going to be many things left off that YOU would put on a list like this, and some things that will just make you shake your head and go “huh?” when you read them.  That’s fine; it is, after all, a list of 107 things that I love about living here.  Your list should be different.

In fact, I’m counting on your list being different.  That’s why, when it’s all done, I wanna hear from YOU about any item, person, or thing that should’ve been on the list that I, for whatever reason, left off.  I have a feeling that you’ll contribute more than enough to populate an entire second list!

Over the next few days, I’ll be listing things not in order, but by category.  This is not intended to be a countdown leading up to the “best” thing about the Marquette area; after all, is there really a BEST upon which we can all agree?  And the items on the list won’t be numbered.  Instead, they’ll be capitalized.  That’s how you’ll know what they are.

Like I said before, comments are more than welcomed.  Actually, they’re required, because it’s always you guys who got me off of my aforementioned duff and made me write this.


107 THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT MARQUETTE COUNTY, PT. 1—Natural & Community Wonders.


I mean, do you know just how lucky we are to have what we have, and right outside our back door?  It’s what draws people here to visit in the first place, and it’s what draws many of us who’ve left Marquette to come back, even if it DOES lead to some wind chill-induced cool spring days!

LOWER HARBOR PARK--Whenever I tell someone who doesn’t know what used to sit on that land before it became one of the crown jewels of the Marquette park system (an old coal yard, if you're curious), they’re amazed by the transformation.  Besides, can you imagine life without all the activities that go on there, everything from food fests to Frisbee playing?  Neither can I.


The other crown jewel in Marquette’s park system.  I don’t even know where to begin talking about the park itself, so just let me say this—of all the things we need to thank Peter White for doing over 100 years ago, this may be the biggest.

PARK CEMETERY—Of course, this may give Presque Isle a run for its money in the “thanking Peter White sweepstakes”.  Now, I may be a bit prejudiced in this matter, seeing as how much time I spend in the cemetery, but how can you honestly NOT think that this may be one of the most beautiful (and peaceful) places you’ll ever come across?

SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN—Think about it.  When you have company come and visit you, company who’s never before been to Marquette, where’s the one place you take them AFTER taking them to Presque Isle? climb Sugarloaf, don’t you?

MOUNT MARQUETTE—Yet while the view from Sugarloaf is amazing in its view of nature, I personally don’t think ANY local mountaintop view can beat THIS—


Although it looks pretty impressive from Mount Marquette, it’s not until you walk up and down Front Street that the history of Marquette hits you.  I’ll get into a few more specifics as this list wears on, but if there’s indeed an epicenter to the entire U.P., this may be it.

THE (OLD) COAST GUARD STATION—I’ve written blogs about this before, and I’ll put forward the thought again.  Can you think of ANYTHING in the U.P. that is painted, photographed, sketched, drawn, and doodled about more than this?

THE BIKE PATH SYSTEM—Yeah, I know Marquette’s one of the top 5 places in the country to go mountain biking, but what if you just wanna go for a ride in the fresh air, gazing at some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet?  That’s what these 12+ miles of paved trails are for!  In fact, the stretch between downtown & McClellan, the one that comes out near McDonald's, may be one of my favorite places to bike or walk on a warm summer day!

MCCARTY’S COVE—Sure, it’s one of those places I visit when I play hooky on those aforementioned warm, summer days.  But I do so for a reason. . .I’ve often thought that the stretch of beach between McCarty’s Cove and Shiras Park may be one of the finest stretches of cold water beaches ANYWHERE.  Can you imagine how packed it would be if it were in Florida?

THE DOWNTOWN FARMER'S MARKET—It blows my mind to think that we didn't have this weekend gem in the city up until a few years ago; now, I can't even imagine a Saturday without it.  From farm-fresh produce to the best home-made sticky buns in the world (just to name a few), it's one place we always make sure we stop!

Next time, the history of Marquette County.


MONDAY, 7/6:

I think I’m ready to go.

Over the past year or so I've written in here about how I’d been stunned by the fact that it’s been (now) four years since I last updated the “107 Things To Love About Marquette County” list.  At that time, I mentioned that it needed to get updated because of the fact that several people, businesses, and activities mentioned in it are no longer around.  I also asked if YOU guys had any suggestions for items and/or pictures to be included.  Well, I did my part, you did your part (and I say thanks for that!) so beginning tomorrow, and taking however long it takes, I’ll start posting version number four of the list.

As I look at what’s going into it now, it’s actually gonna be longer than 107 things, but this is one of those lists that I really don’t feel comfortable in trying to winnow down.  I mean the 107 is an arbitrary (although chosen for an obvious reason) number and I really don’t want to leave off something that’s deserving just to get down to that 107.  So if it ends up being 112 or 116 things to love about Marquette County. . .well, so be it.  Just consider the extra 5 or 9 items bonus items that come free of charge, much like the extra set of Ginsu steak knives you get if you call in the next 10 minutes.

And you don’t even have to pay the extra shipping & handling!

There’s another reason I’ve chosen now to put together the newly revised list, and that has to do with time.  A good chunk of the list is already written; I just have to correct, revise, and update what’s already there, and make sure the pictures go where they’re supposed to go.  Hopefully, that’ll save a little time, which will be in short supply this week and next, as not only do I have to do everything I normally have to accomplish in a usual day, but I also have to accomplish most everything our office manager Carol has to accomplish in a normal day.  She's gone for a week and a half, and guess who gets to fill in for her?  Add to that the fact that I also have appointments, TV shoots, and meetings to attend to, and you can see where every extra second I can beg, steal, or borrow will come in handy.

So starting tomorrow, version number four of “107 Things to Love About Marquette County”.  It’s always a labor of love on my part, and it’s always one of those things that gets a huge response from people reading it.  I hope this version’s no different!



Saturday is usually one of my favorite days of the year.

I mean, overall, Saturdays are usually my favorite day of the week, but this Saturday will be something special—Fourth of July parades in Marquette and Ishpeming, parades where for almost 20 years now we've been giving away cash in our little “July Parades of Ca$h” contest.  And trust me on this—there are few things as good for your self-esteem as being in a parade where people want money from you!


I have a blast at these deals every year.  Because I'm broadcasting while we're parading, and not giving out certificates, I just get to walk along the route, talk to people, and take pictures of the signs everyone's put together.  Many people just print out the sign we have else where on this site, and that's okay, but others go through a LOT of effort to get our attention.  Don't believe me?

That's one sign from last year.  In my office, I have a collection of signs from past years, signs that were so good that I just wanted to display them somewhere.  My favorite, in fact, sits on my file cabinet, and is a painting (on Styrofoam) of me chilling in the sun lying on a hammock.

It's gotten me through many a long winter afternoon, in fact.

The other thing that's cool about the parades is that, like many things around here, we've been doing it so long that it's become a multi-generational event.  I've heard from a bunch of young parents that they made parade signs when they were kids, and now they're doing it with their own kids.  I think that's neat; I mean, I'm not quite sure how I feel about being so old that people can make that comment , but I think it's neat that it's become the tradition it's become.

And THAT'S why this Saturday will be one of my favorite days of the year.  Hope to see you guys at one or both of the parades!


A note--because tomorrow is our “holiday” day at the station, there won't be one of these again until Monday.  So on that note,, have yourself a fun & safe holiday weekend.  And don't forget to bring your signs!!


WEDNESDAY, 7/1:'s the day I talk about unicorns or rainbows or something, right?  Well, how about fruit?

Once again, I need your help in figuring out something plant (or technically, tree)-related.  Two summers ago, Loraine and I were walking down the Lakeshore bike path between Shiras Park & McCarty's Cove, when we noticed a lady picking berries off of a tree.  Being curious, we stopped and asked her about them, and she gave us a taste of of these amazing pieces of fruit (and they were yummy!)  Of course, we forgot what they were called, and while walking past the trees last year, we noticed that nothing was happening.  The fruit wasn't there.

Well, this past weekend (or, as we call it around here when it's 45 degrees on June 30th, our two days of “Summer” for this year) we walked past the trees, and low and behold, guess what we saw!

The berries are growing again.  Now, this leads us to wonder—exactly what kind of berries are these, and why didn't they grow last year?  Do they just bloom every two years?  Did someone or something pick them before the fully grew?  Were we just blind?  Since we were curious enough to stop when we saw the lady picking them two years ago; well, now we're curious again.  And since, as I mentioned last week, you guys are among the smartest people on the face of the planet, we're hoping you can help us out.

Thank you in advance!


As I (snarkily) mentioned, the October-like weather as we're heading into July makes me glad we were able to get out and enjoy our “summer” this past Saturday.  One of the reasons was so I could take pictures for the new version of “107 Things To Love About Marquette County” that I've been promising you for a year and a half now.  Well, you know what?

I'm thinking it starts Monday.  I don't wanna promise anything I can't deliver, but I'm thinking Monday.  Wish me luck!!


TUESDAY, 6/30:

Repeat after me—the sidewalk is NOT a parking lot!

I'm sorry, but I'm gonna spend this blog complaining about something.  I know I seem to have been doing that a lot recently, and if you don't want to hear me do it again, you have my permission to come back tomorrow.  I promise to talk about something cheery, like sunshine or rainbows or unicorns.


Now, on to my rant.  There is a household at the corner of Pine and another street in Marquette where the people do not know how to park.  I know this because I run and walk up & down the street all the time, and I always have to duck into the roadway when I come across this yard--

Not only is the pickup truck waaaaay too long to fit into their driveway, it even sticks out into the street, where it's (as you may be able to see) surrounded by two other pickup trucks on either side of the driveway.  That means that every single person who walks or runs down the sidewalk on the east side of Pine Street, every parent pushing a stroller, every child riding a bike, and every person who needs a wheelchair or some unblocked access to the sidewalk, has to veer out into Pine Street, past the pickup trucks into the middle of the street, where traffic, because it's on a hill, is often speeding past at 110 or 15 miles an hour over the speed limit.

All because one individual does not know now to park.

Now, if this was just a one time event, I wouldn't be raising any kind of ruckus about it.  But whoever lives here has been doing this for months now, oblivious to the both the fact that the sidewalk is not a parking lot and the fact that they could be putting people in danger by making them veer out into a very busy street. I don't understand people who do things like that.  I don't understand why people would break the law by using the sidewalk as a parking lot.  The sidewalks belong to everyone, not just whoever happens to live next to it. 

They're OUR sidewalks, not yours.

I think that's what getting my goat here.  It's the same thing that gets my goat when I see dog owners bring their pets on a beach or some other place where there are “No dogs allowed” signs.  These are public areas; they're not your personal playgrounds.  By using them as your own, and by willfully flouting the rules, you're disrespecting every other single person who might need to use them and every single person who does try to follow the law.  There are 22,000 of us living on a small piece of land, and the rules (like not blocking the sidewalk or not taking your dog on thee beach) are there to make sure that we can all live together in harmony.  I try not to disrespect any of the other 21,999 people in Marquette.  I'd hope everyone else would return the favor. 

Apparently, though, that's not the case.  At least for that's the case for one individual thoughtlessly blocking the sidewalk on Pine Street.

Okay; I'll shut up now.  I just needed to get that off of my chest.  Like I said, tomorrow we'll talk about puppies or flowers or chocolate.

And I won't complain about a thing.  Promise.


MONDAY, 6/29:

I wonder what you'd find if you DID look down there.

While in Chicago last weekend Loraine had a thought, a thought that popped into my head again this weekend as we were walking through downtown Marquette.  And Loraine's thought, as we were riding the L train, was this—what would you find on the bottom of yours shoes if you did a DNA test on them after a day in Chicago?

Odds are, the results would not be pretty.  Especially if you, like we were doing at the time, had just ridden the Blue Line.

Like I said, I thought about that again this weekend as we were walking through Marquette, past bars where you know some vomit had to have been hurled, through an alley where who know what had occurred the night before, and down a bike path where people had not (despite the bags everywhere) cleaned up after their dogs.  Add to that the spit & sweat of runners, the blood of bikers, and the, uhm, wastes of people who may have spent the night on one of the path benches, and your shoes would probably be covered with a gumbo of humanity.

But, sad to say, probably not a very tasty gumbo.  Or a very healthy one.

Until Loraine had made that crack last weekend, I never actually devoted much thought to what I walk through on a daily basis.  But maybe I should.  I mean, when I go running early on a Saturday morning, before people have had a chance to clean things up from the previous night's activities, I can see some pretty nasty things.  I don't run through them, but they're there.  And even after the clean-up occurs, I'm sure some trace lingers.  So when you consider everything that gets “expelled” by humans and animals on a sidewalk or a bike path, it's a wonder our shoes don't somehow mutate from all the DNA, and get up and walk off on their own.

Although that  could be an interesting concept for a horror movie, when you think of it.

Of course, we come in to contact with all kinds of disgusting stuff on daily basis, and don't give it a second thought.  I suppose if we did, there would be some among us so repelled by the thought of everything we're stepping in that we'd never want to step outside again.  Thankfully, I'm not one of those people, although, like I said, I'd never devoted an ounce f brain power to it before last weekend.

And now that I'm thinking about it...


Don't worry; I shan't become one of those people I just mentioned.  Too much of my life (many of my favorite parts, in fact) are lived outdoors.  There's no way especially during what passes for “summer” up here, that Id lock myself inside just to avoid a little “human gumbo”.  However, that does not mean that I won't be looking a bit askew at the bottom of my shoes next time I take them off.

After all, you never know what might be residing down there!


FRIDAY, 6/26:

We agree on an awful lot in life, but there is one thing on which Loraine and I will, apparently, never compromise.

I was reminded of the whole issue by my repeated listening to the latest song from Fall Out Boy, a cute little ditty called “Uma Thurman”, in which the group samples the theme song from “The Munsters”.  And that reminded me of the “issue” that has come between my dear wife and I in the 20-some years we're known each other.  

You see, she likes “The Munsters”, and I like “The Addams Family”.

The whole issue probably goes back to our childhoods, and the ways in which we grew up.  She grew up downstate, in a farming community.  I grew up in Marquette, a college town.  She had older siblings; I was the first-born.  She was a relatively normal child, while I was (and still am) a dork.  And I think that once you know those differences in our upbringings you’ll fully understand why we have this chasm separating us.

I like “The Addams Family” for the same reason I like two other shows Loraine’s not really that fond of, “Rocky & Bullwinkle” and “The Gilmore Girls”.  I like the shows because they’re hyper-verbal.  They feature offbeat characters doing offbeat things, and what they say is often much more important than what they do.  That’s the kind of kid I was growing up, and that’s pretty much the way I am now.  So I guess it’s no surprise that I would gravitate toward shows that feature characters like that, especially a show like “The Addams Family”.

It’s also not a surprise that Loraine would favor “The Munsters”.  Like I said, she wasn’t a dork, so she probably wouldn’t find appeal in a show full of dorks.  Not only that, but she had an older brother who gravitated toward movie monsters, and seeing as how “The Munsters” was a show put together so Universal could feature their famous movie monsters of the 1930s, I can see entirely why she likes the show.  And it’s not like it’s a really bad TV show.

It’s just not “The Addams Family”.

As I said before, it’s just one of those things about which Loraine & I will have to agree to disagree.  She feels, from the depths of her heart, that “The Munsters” is the superior show, while I feel, from the depths of my dorky heart, that “The Addams Family” will never be topped.  To quote a great American philosopher, “We’re obviously separated by denominational differences”.  And I guess we’ll just have to live with it.


On that note, have yourself a great weekend!



You guys are among the smartest people on the face of the planet.

Now, I'm not saying that to butter you up for much of anything.  It's just that smart people seem to read this (as opposed to, say the person who writes it).  I base this on the fact that many times I've put out a question to which I did not know the answer, and before an hour passes at least one of you tells me what I need to know.

So with that in mind, can any of you tell me what kind of trees has blossoms like this?

They're on this tree--

Which I pass on my way to work each day.  I'd like to know because, after lilacs, the short-lived blossoms on the trees may be among my favorite smelling things on the planet, if only because they smell exactly like Faygo grape pop.

Go ahead, laugh.  I know you're dying to do so.


Okay, now that that's out of your system, I really AM curious as to what kind of tree it is.  I don't seem to come across too many of them in my wanderings, but when I do and when the tree's blossoming it's quite a treat.  After all, there aren't that many blossoms that smell like a Michigan-made soft drink, and I guess you should take 'em where you can get 'em, right?

It's ironic that the blossoms come out just as summer's beginning, because for me the taste of Faygo grape pop was always the taste of summer.  When I was a kid I always used to drink the pop when it was hot out.  I don't know why I only drank it during the summer; maybe there's something in the chemical makeup of it that my body craved when I was hot.  Or maybe I only wanted a purple tongue when I wasn't in school.  But for whatever reason I would only drink it during summer. 

To me, it just tasted like “summer”.

Over the years, as Faygo reformulated their sodas and added different sweeteners, I stopped drinking it.  But when the company brought out their “classic” line of sodas with real sugar (as opposed to the crap with high fructose corn syrup that they have now) last year I waited until a hot day to try the grape.

And you know what?  It still tastes exactly like summer.

I'm sure that's one of the reasons I like the smell the tree gives off, an odor that you can notice almost a block away.  That's how strong the smell is.  So if you have any idea as to what the tree is, I'd appreciate it if you could let me know.  My curiosity—and my weird sense of “summer”--thank you very much!



I thought they were just a joke, things created in the minds of comedians for a cheap laugh or two.

Shows how wrong I was!

I promised you two more pictures from Chicago today, and I shall deliver.  I jokingly say that they both point out what's bad with my second favorite place in the world, and the second of the two pictures will deal with the item I thought was just a joke.  The first, though, is a little more serious--

The one thing I REALLY don't like about Chicago is the amount of cigarette smoke you encounter there, especially on the street.  I've joked in here on occasion that the only people in Marquette who seem to smoke are college students who come up from Chicago, but it was a joke that could've been based in reality.  Everywhere you go in the Windy City you run into people puffing away.  I'm sure some of it has to do with just sheer numbers; with millions of people living in the city, at, say, a 20% smoking rate, that's a lot of smokers.  There's nothing you can do about it.  And when you throw in the number of tourists visiting, especially foreign tourists from countries where smoking doesn't have the stigma it does here...

Well, I guess you have to take the bad with the good in a city.  But too often this weekend we saw exactly with I captured in the hastily-taken picture above, that being both parents smoking around a child.  Now, I'm not a parent (nor a smoker), so I'm really not in a position to judge. but if I had become a parent I'm sure wouldn't have done things like smoke right in front of my kids.  It may just be me, but that really seems like sending impressionable kids the wrong message.  I might be wrong, and not being a parent I probably shouldn't judge, but that just doesn't seem right.

But like I said, that might just be me.

Now, onto the picture showing what's “wrong” with Chicago.  Everywhere we went, almost as much as we saw smokers, we also say this--

Yup.  That's a family using a selfie-stick.  Like I said at the beginning of this post, I halfway thought selfie-sticks were just a figment of our pop-culture imagination.  But nope; they're real.  I lost count after the first three dozen or so so I can't tell you exactly how many people I saw using selfie-sticks, but they were everywhere.  Not only that, but just about every store we went into had the sticks for sale.

What IS this world coming to?


Like I said, though, if you can only find two things “wrong” with a place, it must have something going for it.  And that's one of the reasons I like going back to Chicago again and again.  You never know WHAT you're gonna see!


TUESDAY, 6/23:

Wow.  What a difference it makes writing a blog on a real computer!

I never thought writing a blog on a phone, like I tried to do Sunday from O'Hare Airport, would be so hard, but thanks to a phone screen that probably wasn't big enough and to an auto-correct program that should be thrown in the trash, I barely managed to get one out.  That's why it's nice to sit here, type like a normal person, and tell you about our adventures in Chicago, complete with pictures!

Like I mentioned in the phone blog, the weather wasn't the greatest, at least until Sunday afternoon, just as we were getting ready to leave.  I mean, it wasn't as bad as it was here (from what I heard), but it wasn't what we were hoping for.  The first couple of days gloom and fog filled the air--

I mean, if you're looking at fog, it's not a bad place to look at fog, but we were hoping for a little sun & warmth.  Speaking of nice things to look at, here's the view from our hotel room--

What did we do?  Well, we went to lots of places and saw lots of things, accompanied by many of our close personal friends--

I know for some people, being in a city of Chicago's size can either be intimidating or suffocating, and I can understand why.  But it energizes me; I don't know why, but it does.  Between the “seething mass of humanity” (as Loraine called it) and the non-stop symphony of sirens and car horns, there's just something so...Chicago about it all.

And that's the best way to explain it.

We went into a lot of stores, especially grocery stores, where we saw some strange, exotic foods--

And had lots of good eats, including perhaps the best Mole Chicken I've ever tasted (and I've tasted lots of it)--

Apparently, a Chicago sports team just won a championship, at least according to the lions at the Art Institute--

But mostly, you just have to go to Chicago to look at the skyline, whether it's in real life--

Or done up in Legos outside of the Lego Store--

So all in all, we had a great time in one of my favorite places in the world, even if we did put a damper on the weather the people in Chicago were expecting.  Next time, we'll make sure we bring GOOD weather with us!


Tomorrow, two more pictures, this timer pictures that show what's “wrong” with Chicago.  One is kinda serious, one is really, really not.  So until then...


MONDAY, 6/22:

For a while, I was starting to wonder if we were gonna owe the people of Chicago an apology.

First of all, I owe you an apology, because this is gonna be short.  I'm writing this on my  phone at O'Hare, and it's not working very well.  I'll write a LOT more tomorrow, but I did want to get something up.  And that something was this--as of 36 hours before we left, the Chicago forecast called for sun & temps in the 80s. But both Friday and Saturday, it was foggy & gloomy & chilly.

We seemed to have brought our weather with us.

Fortunately, at least for the people of Chicago, the weather warmed up the way it was supposed to.  It wasn't good for us, because we had to leave mid-aftrernoon, but it was good for the people of Chicago.

So I guess we lucked out there, at least apology-wise.  And we did have a great time, sometimes in spite of the weather, so I guess I can't complain, at least too much.

Okay...autocorrect is driving me crazy, so much more tomorrow, including pictures!



I get to go to Chicago tomorrow!

Yup; Loraine and I are making a little getaway tomorrow to my second-favorite place on the planet, a short little weekend jaunt that'll allow us to walk around, eat a lot, are stare up at some of the most impressive architecture you'll see anywhere on Earth.

I can't wait.

Why a weekend getaway, and why now?  Well, we always try to get to Chicago at least once a year, and we're usually able to do it when we're flying to Europe.  You know the routine—we leave Marquette early in the morning and have 9 hours to kill in the Windy City, so we hope the Blue Line train to the Clark/Lake station, do everything we want to do downtown, and then get back on the train to O'Hare, where we then fly out.  It's a great way to visit Chicago and not have to pay for extra airline tickets.

Unfortunately, that's not in the cards this year.

This year, because of the merger of American Airlines and U.S. Airways, and because we're flying into Frankfurt instead of Paris, we leave Marquette, fly to Chicago, spend 4 hours at O'Hare, then fly to Philadelphia, spend 4 hours in the airport there, and THEN fly to Frankfurt.  We won't have the chance to play in downtown Chicago like we usually do. 

And that's why we're going this weekend.

We sat down and tried to figure it out, and we think this is the first time since 2007 then we're actually spending a weekend in Chicago instead of just the day.  That'll be nice, if only because we won't be rushed in trying to get everything done before we have to board another plane (plus, we won't be hauling carry-ons and laptop bags with us everywhere we go).  We can take our time, go places we haven't been in a while, and maybe even explore neighborhoods we've not yet explored.  That's one of the reasons we like Chicago; it's always changing, and there's always something new to see.

So hopefully this weekend, we'll get to see something (or a bunch of somethings) new!  And since the forecast is still calling for temperatures to be warmer there than they are here (keep your fingers crossed for us, please) we may actually get to enjoy the “summer” that we've not yet had here.

On that note, have yourself a great weekend, even if it's just at home.  I'll be back here and on the air Monday, and it wouldn't surprise me if I had a few pictures to share!

(, Chicago-bound tomorrow morning!


I'm not quite sure how my mind gets trapped into learning about these things, but once it does it does not want to let go.

Every so often I will find myself being introduced to an intellectual topic, and then wanting to learn more and more about it.  The latest subject that has piqued my interest is, for the lack of a better term, evolutionary paleo-history.  Or, to put it a little more reader friendly, the story about how modern humans became modern humans.  I read a book that kind of dealt with the topic a couple of months ago, and since then I've come across stories and facts that relate to how creatures exactly like us popped up in East Africa 150,000 years ago, moved across the planet, and then led to us sitting on the shore of Lake Superior complaining about the cold.

I guess I'm hooked on the subject.

Like I said, since I started reading about the subject I've recently come across a couple of things that either relate to it or shed light on it.  The first was a fascinating article on the subject of PTSD by Sebastian Junger in the June edition of Vanity Fair, which posits that being a soldier in a combat situation is the closest modern humans get to the living conditions of the first humans.  When they originally moved out of Africa, the first humans did so in small groups, where they lived together, worked together, and depended up the help of each other for survival.  In fact, that's how our ancestors lived up until the development of the agricultural age a mere 10,000 years ago.  And how humans lived until they settled down to become farmers is a very close approximation to what soldiers in a war zone go through; Junger says that it would be much better
treatment for their PTSD if they were left in  small group and recovered together.  That's how the first humans dealt with stress, and genetically, it's still encoded that way into our DNA.  Instead, soldiers are sent home to family and friends who have no idea what they've gone through, and really have no support system that helps them out.

The soldiers are basically having to go against everything encoded into their DNA while trying to recover from the trauma that's been inflicted upon them, at least according to Junger, and I can see where it makes sense.  We haven't evolved enough in 10,000 years to change the way we mentally deal with traumatic incidents.  Like I said, it's a fascinating article, and one that ties into this subject that I've been kinda obsessed with recently.

The other fact about the topic that's popped up recently?  Well, in a couple of books I've read, scientists have theorized that sometime after modern humans popped up on the planet, probably 20 or 30,000 after we evolved into what we are now, something happened.  It may have been a drought, or it may have been another natural disaster, but something happened that caused the number of humans to drop precipitously.  In fact, by studying the DNA of members of modern civilizations, it appears that for perhaps 100 or so years way back in our pre-history no more than 40 human beings were alive.

The modern human race came incredibly close to extinction, but somehow survived.

For some bizarre reason, I find that fascinating.  Seven and a half billion of us are descended from just 40 or so individuals, and if those 40 or so hadn't found a way to survive until whatever natural disaster wound down, life on this planet would be incredibly different than it is today.  If those 40 or so modern humans hadn't survived, would Neanderthals have taken over the planet?  Would some other intelligent and mobile species have arisen instead?  And are modern humans the only species this happened to?   Or was there another race or two or three of primates that developed intelligence, but didn't find the way out of a natural disaster that those 40 modern humans did 100,000 years ago?

Like I said, that fact blew my mind.  It blew it in a good way, but it blew it nonetheless.

So that's what I've been reading recently  I'll try not to go all gaga about it in here like I do the lilacs or the weather, but I just wanted to mention those two stories.  After all, they really made an impression on me.


TUESDAY, 6/16:

Does anybody remember when I wrote what follows?

First, let me explain how I came across it.  I'm in the middle of a long-term project—cleaning out my office.  Over the 12 years the station's been in Marquette things have, uhm, started to pile up on my office floor, on my desk, and in every nook & cranny you can see (and some you can't).  So for 30 seconds a day, I grab something and see if I need it.  If I do, I file it away.  If I don't, I toss it.  I figure it's a painless way to clean; after all, it doesn't take much time, and at the rate I'm going, my office should be spotless when I'm ready to retire in 20 or 25 years.  And it must be working—when my Mom got back from Florida and came over to visit she noticed something was quite strange, and then realized that my office actually has carpeting on the floor, that my floor is not just a collection of cardboard boxes and stacks of paper.

I guess, if nothing else, I'm on the right track.

Anyway, when I was doing my 30 seconds of cleaning Friday I came across a list I once wrote.  I have no idea when I wrote the list, nor do I have any idea about the context in which I wrote it, although I'm thinking it might've been during one of those bouts of “Is Jim a Yooper or Isn't He?” that seems to occur every few years.  I don't know if I ever used it on the air or in here.  All I know is that I wrote it, printed it out, and must've promptly stuck it in a wire basket, where it's sat buried under a bunch of other papers (and a thin layer of dust) for an unknown number of years.

So without further ado, here's the list:


7. If you've never—even in a dream—thought about buying a pick-up truck.

6.  If, when someone says “hilltop”, you think of a mountain, and not a sweet roll.

5.  If you don't salute when you hear the name Vince Lombardi.

4.  If you don't own a single piece of clothing in hunter's orange.

3.  If you've never gone ice fishing, because you're afraid of cold feet.

2.  If you realize the Appleton is NOT the shopping capital of the universe.

And the number one sign you may not be a true Yooper?

1.  If you've ever—even once and even by accident—pronounced it PAY-stee

Well, that's the list.  Like I said, I'm not quite sure of its date or its origin, so if any of the lame jokes seem familiar; well, maybe you can help me figure it out.  I know I'd appreciate it.

See what I get for trying to clean my office?



MONDAY, 6/15:

“You owe me restitution”!

That line, from my second favorite Charlie Brown cartoon ever (and bonus points if you know from which cartoon that line comes) has popped into my head recently when thinking about the “summer” we've had, at least here in Marquette, so far this year. We've had many days when the forecast sounded promising then turned out to be nothing like what it was supposed to be, and we've had days when the forecast sounded promising yet a lake breeze decided to play tricks on us. Last weekend (with the rain and temps in the 50s) was a perfect example, and it marked the first time that I actually said the above-quoted line about restitution out loud.

And now I can't seem to stop.

Yes, I know that complaining about the weather is about as futile as trying to change the weather. There's nothing you can do about it. You get what you get, and you have to take it, no matter no much you may loathe it. You'd think that after living here most of my adult life I'd realize that. But for some bizarre reason I still think that Mother Nature is making this personal, that she's doing this just to make me whine. Yes, I know that I have absolutely no bearing on the weather, and whatever happens is not because of me. I'm self-aware enough to know that.

I just wish Mother Nature knew that, too.


I know I shouldn't complain, not when you look around other parts of the planet and see extreme heat or extreme drought or extreme rain (and as an aside, we're currently living through the hottest year, planet-wide, on record, with some areas being either dryer or wetter than they've ever been before. Maybe Mother Nature's just pissed we broke the planet, and is taking it out on us!). In that respect, we're lucky. We have enough water to live normal lives, we're not dying because of flooding or extreme temperatures, and our lives, unlike the lives of many people, aren't torn asunder by weather. Just because it's 10 degrees cooler than it should be, or a little foggier than normal, or because we have a breeze coming off the world's largest freshwater lake, a lake that still has water in it, is no reason to complain.

I know that. I realize that. So yes, I should stop complaining about it. Yet still, for some weirdly bizarre reason, I still think Mother Nature owes us restitution.

And no, I don't know why.

I'll shut up about the weather now. After all, I'm sure you're tired of me complaining about it, the same way you're tired of me waxing rhapsodic about lilacs. Besides, our summer has to show up SOME day, right?



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