Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obituary for the "honking tree"...

It was reported today that some crazed person chopped down the famous "honking tree." Do you know about that tree? You can check it out and read about the vandalism by clicking on this DNT link. As long as I can remember, every time our family headed up the shore toward Two Harbors, I would hear from my kids, "Dad, don't forget to honk at the 'honking tree!' " If we were heading to a kid hockey game–or whatever–honking at that lonely tree standing in the small parcel of land between lanes of the freeway provided us with luck at the game or an opportunity to give a friendly hello toot to a famous tree. What would possess someone to do this type of vandalism is beyond me and unforgivable. 

Do you have a "honking tree" story to tell? Feel free to comment here on this blog and share your tale. We'd like to hear about it. That tree deserves our eulogies so we may honor it's unique and wonderful folklore. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

21st Minnesota Book Awards announced

The 21st annual Minnesota Book Awards were announced following the gala awards event on Saturday night in St. Paul. You can read more about the event and the winners on Our northland authors were well represented as as Minnesota Book Award Finalists. Tony Dierckins, my original book publisher and author, was a finalist in the Minnesota category for Crossing the Canal, his outstanding history of the world famous Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. Chris Monroe, local cartoonist and children's book author, was a finalist in the Children's Literature category for Monkey with a Tool Belt, a popular book with children of all ages.  These two authors deserve kudos for outstanding works recognized both locally and nationally. We're very proud to note their recognition as local writers and of their contributions. Congrats to to Tony and Chis!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

KDAL Radio NEXT Sunday morning!

I goofed!  The broadcast of my interview with Marti Buscaglia on KDAL radio is scheduled to be heard NEXT Sunday morning, May 3. (I previously posted that it would be this morning.)

So...if you're near a radio, tune into KDAL–610 AM on your radio dial– at 9:30 am NEXT Sunday morning, May 3rd. Duluth~Superior Magazine publisher, Marti Buscaglia, interviews me as part of her new radio program called Duluth~Superior Magazine Live. Hope you'll be listening!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let spring in Minnesota begin...

I was thinking that you might be wondering about what happened to that humungous snow pile that accumulated from a winter's worth of snowplowing left in a special spot in our neighborhood. I posted a picture of what that huge snow pile looked like at the climax of winter, with me (6' 2") standing next to it as a way to measure it's height. As you recall, our neighbors have a yearly contest to see when this giant snow pile would melt... a Minnesota winter contest tradition. Here's a picture (above) taken on Wednesday, April 22nd, when the pile was greatly diminished. That pile officialy melted–down to the ground–yesterday, April 24 in the  morning. Let spring officially begin in Minnesota!

The next step is to watch the greenline move north. I learned last year that in the spring of the year, there is a "greenline" that moves north at a rate of 15 miles per day. So...where is it green now? Let's calculate... just when will it reach Duluth? Another contest?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

KDAL radio this Sunday morning....

If you're near a radio, tune into KDAL–610 AM on your radio dial– at 9:30 am this Sunday morning, April 26th. Duluth~Superior Magazine publisher, Marti Buscaglia, interviews me as part of her new radio program called Duluth~Superior Magazine Live. It's always fun to show my face on radio. Hope you'll be listening!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My DNT letter to the editor today...

I just couldn't resist... so here's my letter to the editor, appearing in today's (April 21) Duluth News Tribune

"You wonder if the writer of the April 12 letter ("A comedian for the Senate? Is this a joke?"), the entire text of which was "Sen. Al Franken. Embarrassing," was equally embarrassed about Republican U.S. Rep. Sonny Bono, the TV comedian and singer; Republican Sen. George Murphy, who danced his way through many an MGM musical, and, of course, Republican President Ronald Reagan, star of many a fine Hollywood movie, not the least of which (really) was the comedy "Bedtime for Bonzo," co-starring a talented chimpanzee."
Originally appeared in the Duluth News Tribune on April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tea parties non-partisan?

The April 19 Duluth Budgeteer News front page editorial said it all, " Tea Parties not exactly non-partisan." The Budge opinion piece revealed what is not widely publicized... that these parties are funded and organized by very partisan entities. I highly recommend giving this piece a read. And...let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Facebook frenzy...

After reading my post on Aging by Megbyte, you probably have surmised that all the hot new trends in our world have pretty much left me in the dust. I do e-mail and I'm blogging, of course; but I'm just not quite ready to enter the world of Twitter and Facebook. My wife, however, recently plunged into the social networking wonder of Facebook (to see pictures of all the nieces and nephews, she claims) and snuck me in the back door kicking and screaming. While I still have not stepped into the world of Facebook, I now have a "fan page" on that site, thanks to my wife. She tells me I even have a few fans. I'm in shock. A recent article on explains that women over 55 are becoming the fastest-growing age group on Facebook. They're calling it a tipping point that is pulling older people in to join Facebook. One woman called it her living room. I guess I'll throw this one out to you. Are you networking on FB or Twitter? Am I really out of the mainstream by continuing to stay clear of all of that? And... what do you think of this growing social network craze on the Internet?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pirates return in an evolution of change

by Jim Heffernan

If you live long enough -- and I haven’t lived nearly long enough, but plenty long nevertheless -- you begin to get used to change (you’d better because it’s going to happen with or without you).

So many things that seemed permanent years ago were ephemeral. I am at the stage in life where almost nothing is the same today as it was when I arrived kicking and screaming at adulthood a half-century ago. I don’t necessarily lament it, but I notice.

At the same time, you notice the consistency with which “what goes around comes around,” as the Ferris wheel operators all say. But what goes around always comes back around in a slightly altered form.

The past couple of years have wrought astonishing change – change at hyper-speed – that was unimaginable as recently as the turn of the century (20th to 21st ). Never in my wildest imagination–and mine can get pretty wild–did I for a moment think General Motors would falter and possibly go bankrupt, and I am old enough to recall the demise of Studebaker and Packard (but not Auburn or Essex). Chrysler, maybe, but never GM.

Well, read the headlines. Headlines where? Why in newspapers, where the news has always been and always will be forever more amen, that’s where. I spent 42 years in newspaper work believing that newspapers would be around forever. Sorry newspapers, but things just haven’t been the same since I left you on your own.

I don’t know if or how long they’ll last in the form that shows up on subscribers’ doorsteps, but you wonder if there’ll be newspapers in their present form with their strong local news emphasis – “Local Woman Stung by Wasp” in 72 point type – 10 years from now. Why, I could outlive them. Like to think I will.

But seriously, GM, Chrysler, Studebaker, Packard, Lehman Brothers, Goldfine’s By the Bridge, Shoppers’ City, Glass Block, the DM&IR–to cite some local history–and newspapers notwithstanding, the most astonishing development in our time has got to be the return of big-time piracy.

Pirates roving the high seas, plundering shipping, taking hostages, confronting governments? Never thought I’d see that day. And here it is.

I suppose I should welcome the return of piracy. I was crazy about pirates when I was a kid – Long John Silver, Blackbeard, Captain Hook (by hook or crook). “Sixteen men on a dead man’s chest – yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.” Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, today’s pirates don’t seem to live up to the grand, romantic traditions of piracy – jolly rogers aloft, cutlasses at the belt, plank walking, keel hauling, eye patching, parrot perching, treasure burying, damsel ravishing, pennant winning.

Call me a geezer, but piracy just isn’t what it used to be, just as General Motors and newspapers aren’t.

Change isn’t always for the better. And what went around doesn’t come back around the same as it was when it left. More’s the pity. Arrrrrrrr.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Kindle mania...

OK...I've received a couple of e-mails asking me, What is Kindle?" (See the post below to "Aging by Megabyte" and that link.) For a non-techie, I am surprised I even know the answer. Well... maybe I don't know everything about this hot device, but I know what it is. How do I know, you ask? I read the (paper version) of the NY Times every day. Yes... I read paper! And furthermore, I wrote in a newspaper. And... I recently published a book (in paper) that supposedly now could be read by Amazon Kindle. So if you are wondering what the hype is about Kindle, here's a helpful link (not paper) to a recent NY Times article telling about Amazon's Kindle. Is there a term to signify something larger than megabyte? I am aging by _______byte!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kudos to Duluth's magazine maven...

Marti Buscaglia, current publisher of the Duluth~Superior Magazine, received the 2009 Folio 40 Award ( one of the top 40 individuals making a name in magazine publishing.) Check out today's Duluth Journal link for more information. Marti, as many of you know, is a seasoned publisher who headed the Duluth News Tribune during its Knight Ridder ownership. Congrats to Marti for a well-deserved honor!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Modern love, gold fish and megabytes

I thought I'd pass on a wonderful piece written in this Sunday's  New York Times, Modern Love commentaries. "Just One Swirl Around the Bowl" (Dan Barry) tells the tale of a a young daughter's dying gold fish and heart wrenching life parallels. It's worth the read so am sharing with you today.

In the same section of the Times was another piece of a totally different nature. The author, like me, is someone who seems to have been left behind in the increasingly swift changes experienced in the world of technology. Check out, Michael Winerip's "Aging by Megabyte" in Sunday's Times (Generation B) for a perspective on technology and its impact on every day life. It's true I e-mail and blog, but my wife sets it up and I do, what for me, is the easy part–write. Will all of our books be on Kindle in the future? Look what's happened to newspapers. If you don't know what Kindle is, join me in"aging by megabyte!"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book news...

It's official...
Today I completed a transaction to buy back the rights for my book, Cooler Near the Lake, from its publisher, Tony Dierckins of X-Communications of Duluth. 

Tony and his small local publishing house helped launch the idea of a book and got this all going. I guess I've been a bit shy about putting together a book all these years and if it weren't for Tony, the book wouldn't have happened. And... also because of people such as Pat Daugherty and others who kept asking me when was I going to do a collection of my columns, I was encouraged. So thanks to Tony, Pat and the rest of you who encouraged me in this big undertaking. Your support has been very much appreciated.

It's been fun to do a book... but lots of work. My wife and I teamed up to perform the many tasks needed to put together this book and now realize the labor intensity of such a process, even for a book of pre-published material.

The book did very well for its first run this past holiday season. So thanks to all who purchased the book or gave it away as a gift. It's been nice also to hear from so many of you who have told me how you've enjoyed reading it. Half of the fun of writing is knowing that there is someone out there who enjoys reading what I write. 

Despite a very nice first run at the book sellers this past holiday season, there are still many books remaining to be sold. So... spread the word and tell your friends, Cooler Near the Lake is a good book to read and give as a gift. And... contact me here at this blog to buy the book or purchase it at your favorite local bookseller.

I guess that means that there will be some "book selling" on this blog. But don't be disheartened as the blog really places focus on current writings.  The blog began as a way to get the word out about the book but now it's become a venue for me to write regularly, something I enjoy doing.

Thanks again for reading what I write.