The boxes arrived four years ago today.
Yup; it was four years ago today that I drove out to
Negaunee, picked up Loraine (where she worked at the time)
and then went on to Ishpeming, where we ended up at
Globe Printing and picked
up the first press run of Loraine's book “Elwood's
It's hard to believe it was four years ago.
Since then, the book's been through three printings, it's
made us a load of new friends and acquaintances, and has
been read throughout the world, including at least three
different countries in Europe. It's also opened doors for
us in those countries, mostly famously last summer when we
spent the day as the
honored guests of the people and city government of
I've written in here many times about how proud I was of
Loraine, and how the book was nothing more than a labor of
love for her, and that still stands. And now she's going
through the exact same thing as she races to finish her next
epic, “Elden's True Army Tales” (coming soon to a local
bookstore near you). In fact, when Dennis Whitley and I did
the Story Corps thing Monday and talked about history, a big
chunk of what we talked about was Loraine and her books.
In case you couldn't tell, I kinda like bragging about her
and what she's done!
The life cycle of a book like “Elwood's War” is kind of
funny. When it first came out, she sold a bunch of them.
Then when the first holiday season after publication rolled
around, she sold another ton. It slacked off since then,
but it still has these little “runs”, and we have no idea
why. A couple of months ago she brought nine copies down to
Bookworld in Marquette, where they sat for a few weeks. We
then went in, and found that five of the copies had been
sold within another few weeks. I don't know anything about
how the publishing or book selling world works, but that
sounds strange even to me.
And that's saying something!
I have a feeling that the few copies of “Elwood” that remain
(and that's about 10 in total) will be gone once “Elden”
comes out, but that'll be a good thing. Because that means
every single copy of Loraine's first labor of love will have
good homes, where they will be appreciated and read. And
for a book like hers, that's all you can ask.
I will soon be wearing a wedding ring.
Oh, don’t worry; there’s nothing nefarious afoot. Loraine
and I haven’t really NOT been married these 25 years, nor
was there been some kind of mix up in the paperwork back in
1989 that didn’t allow me to wear a ring. In fact, for the
first 23 and a half years of our marriage, I did wear a
And then came my little bike accident.
As you may recall, one of the many victims of my little
crash last year (along with a front tooth, a bunch of my
skin, and most of my pride) was my wedding ring. It had to
get cut off the day after the accident, when my finger
swelled so much that it had to come off lest I do some major
damage to the finger (I still bear quite the scar on the
finger where the ring cut into it, in fact). Of course, by
then the ring wasn’t really in good shape; it had been
scratched beyond belief by the accident, plus it had been
bent, mangled, and otherwise abused during the 23 and a half
years I did wear it.
So the loss of the ring was more sentimental than practical.
In the 15 months since the accident I’ve not worn a wedding
ring, and I’ve noticed two things about it. One is that
I’ve gotten used to not wearing one, which I guess isn’t a
big deal. After all, I know other married people who don’t
wear them. But whenever I see Loraine fiddle with hers, or
take it off for whatever reason, I get reminded that I don’t
have one. And while I always thought things like that
didn’t matter to me; well, I guess that in this instance
The second thing I’ve noticed? Not one person in those 15
months has commented that I’m not wearing a wedding ring.
And I find that strange. In the 23 and a half years I wore
a wedding ring, I had many people ask why I was wearing it
on my right hand instead of my left hand. But not once in
the 15 months that I wasn’t wearing one did anyone ask why I
was without it.
That’s no big deal. I just thought it strange.
So while we were out & about Saturday Loraine and I stopped
Wattsson and Wattsson
so she could buy me a new ring. She had wanted to buy me a
new one since the old one was cut off, and this past weekend
e finally got around to it. She had very specific
instructions for the person helping us out—it had to be
tough & durable (apparently she thinks I might abuse it; I
have no idea why she thinks that 8-)) and it had to be
something I like. After spending just a few seconds looking
we found it—a titanium ring in silver that works in many
different ways. It’s tough, it’s durable, and it looks to
me like it’s the gravity ring from a fictional space
station. Not only that, but I can go around and, like Lt.
Dan in “Forrest Gump” when showing off his prosthetic leg, I
can say, “It’s made from the same material as the space
Because it is. Even if the space shuttle’s (sadly) not
around any more.
Since I have such girly-sized fingers, we had to special
order the ring. It should, though, be here in a week or so.
Then I can then slip my new wedding ring on, and, like for
the first 23 and a half years of my life, abuse the heck out
of it, should I choose. But this time, it’ll endure.
Just like me & Loraine.
The suitcases came out over the weekend.
With the countdown standing at T-minus five weeks and four
days before we leave for our latest little adventure, we
figured it was time to go down into the basement, brush
aside all the dust and cobwebs, and pull out our luggage,
safely encased in plastic to keep them clean of all the dust
and cobwebs that seem to inhabit basements. We hauled them
up to our living room and left them sitting there, where
over the next month and seven days we’ll stumble into them
many times, and they’ll slowly be filled with everything
needed for a week and a half in Luxembourg and Belgium and
Actually, if you want to be technical, the suitcases are
already kind of filled with many things needed for a week
and a half in Luxembourg and Belgium and France. When I
opened my suitcase, I was amazed by the stuff I had just
left in there from the last trip. There were several
plastic containers (used to safely transport chocolate and
cereal), half a roll of bubble wrap (to safely wrap the
chocolate before it gets put into the aforementioned plastic
containers), various other non-plastic containers, a roll of
duct tape, two unused washcloths, and an unopened package of
Throw in a few shirts, some shorts, and a toothbrush, and
I’m already packed. 38 days before we leave!
Well, okay, maybe not TOTALLY packed, but with the stuff we
picked up at Target last weekend, I’m way ahead of
schedule. We usually go to Target the week before we bring
the suitcases up and raid their section of travel-sized
items. We pick up whatever toiletries, medicines, and
personal care items we need and pack them in the plastic
containers. Then the last night of the trip we toss
whatever we haven’t used and/or won’t need, clean out the
containers, and repack them with chocolate and other
goodies. That way, we don’t go over our suitcase weight
limit and have to pay a zillion dollars, and we get all of
our stuff safely home.
Of course, that’s actually worked too well on several
occasions. More than once I’ve had to buy several rolls of
paper towels to fill my suitcase. It serves a couple of
purposes, though--the paper towels act as a great,
lightweight filler, and once we get home, we have the joy of
being perhaps the only people in the U.S. who are using
Zumda brand paper towels.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be tossing pieces of clothing
and other items we’ll be needing into the suitcases in our
living room. A day or two before the trip, we’ll rearrange
everything, pack it all neatly, and then put our TSA
approved locks on them, where the suitcases then won’t be
opened until we get to Luxembourg City (unless, of course,
US or EU security gets bored and feels the need to go
So now when we look at our checklist of things to do, “bring
suitcases up from the basement” can now be checked off.
That only leaves, what. . .28 or 29 things left to go!
How about a bunch of little things to wrap the week up?
First of all, project “International Reader” has turned up a
few interesting results. As you may recall, Monday I asked
people who read this outside of the U.S. to send me a note
in private, just so I'd know the reach of these ramblings.
In just four days, I've received replies from Canada,
Mexico, and Germany (plus one reader in France I didn't know
about), and I won't be surprised if I hear from more people
over the weekend. After all, I know many of you binge-read
a week of these in one sitting, so I'll be curious to see
what pops up after that!
Secondly, I had mentioned a couple of weeks ago, in posting
the blog about Charlie Pong, that the story was brought up
because of an interview I did for a Marquette Monthly
article due in next month's edition. Well, sadly, I
received a call from the writer a few days ago, and she told
me she had to cut 2,000 words out of the stories. Guess
whose words were among the 2,000 cut?
Yup; mine. But what are you gonna do about it, right?
Finally, I have to note with glee that an old neighbor of
ours is still around. One of the many ways in which Loraine
and I have been fortunate is that we get to meet a lot of
fascinating older people, and usually, a couple of years
after we meet them, we wonder if they're still around.
Well, while we were out on a walk last weekend we were happy
to notice a sign on Marquette's Ramada Inn mentioning they
were hosting a 90th birthday party of Al Trudgeon, one of
those fascinating older people.
Al used to live across the street from us when we lived on
High Street, and as a World War II Navy vet he shared his
stories with Loraine. We lost track of him when we moved
out of the neighborhood nine years ago, but it's great to
see he's still around and kicking. He was a nice guy.
On that note, I need to get to work for a bit so I can then
sneak out and go to the beach, seeing as how it might
actually be warm enough for that. Have yourself a great
weekend, and if you live in an area where there might be a
little heat,. Enjoy it!
I'm thinking I can probably stop using the phrase “seedy
underbelly” for a while.
The “Other Side of the Tracks” tour went well last night;
the weather cooperated, and everyone who showed up (a lot
more than I thought would show up, in fact), had a great
time. Not only that, but I got to use the phrase “seedy
underbelly” at least two dozen times.
And that was probably two dozen more times than I ever used
it in my life.
I'm sure it makes more sense if you were on the tour and you
heard it in context, but I used the phrase to describe all
the illegal and/or tragic events that occurred just out of
sight in the southern part of downtown Marquette over the
past 165 years, and trust me—there have been a LOT of
illegal and/or tragic events that have occurred in that part
of downtown Marquette over the past 165.
In fact, that's why we did the tour last night.
One of the stories I told is a story I think no one knows
about, and that's kind of sad, since it involved what is
perhaps Marquette's deadliest fire, at least as far as
victims go. Back in the late 1940s, the Stensrud building
on the 300 south block of Front Street—a building that's
still there, in fact-- had what can only be described as an
illegal rooming house on its third floor. In fact, it was
so illegal that the city didn't know about it, the fire
department didn't know about it, and even the merchant who
rented out the store space on the ground floor of the
building didn't know about it.
Who was living in this illegal rooming house? Well, it was
a mix of pensioners and drifters, and it was late in the
evening of February 6th 1946 when one of those drifters fell
asleep with a lit cigarette. Soon, the entire floor of the
building—a floor with few windows and only one stairway—was
engulfed in flames. Several of the tenants managed to
escape, but when the fire was finally put out, seven men had
lost their lives.
The city at large was stunned, not only by the loss of life,
but by the fact that that there were so many people living
in a space where they weren't supposed to be. A coroner's
inquest was held, where the drifter who started the fire
admitted to falling asleep with a cigarette. Charges were
filed, ordinances were toughened, and soon the whole
incident slipped from the minds of area residents.
At least until we brought it up again last night.
That's just one of the tales from the “seedy underbelly”
that we shared during the tour; yell if you'd like to hear
more. However, don't be surprised if we excise that
two-word phrase from any future writings. After all, after
last night, I don't think I need to use it for a while...
I really dislike doing this, but because I have to run
around and gather a few things for tonight's “Other Side of
the Tracks” walking tour (don't forget—you're all invited!)
I think I'm gonna have to leave you with something I wrote a
couple of years ago.
Well, it's either that, or leave you with nothing at all.
And I really couldn't do that!
Anyway, the tour gets underway tonight at 630 at the
Marquette Regional History Center. Hope to see you there;
details on how it went tomorrow!
(as originally posted June 22nd, 2011):
She’d better not throw them away!
I was at my parent’s condo a couple of days ago when my mom
was going through a box of stuff that had been buried deep
in a closet. Inside the box were several books from my
childhood, books that had made the cut when they moved a few
years ago and tossed out everything else they owned. These
are books that made me the adult I am today, for better or
worse (and that’s okay...go ahead and shout out the word
“worse” right now. I know you’re dying to!).
The books to which I’m referring?
My old “How & Why Wonder Books”.
Those of you who weren’t nerdy kids in the late 60s & early
70s probably don’t remember these books, but they were
certainly among my favorites growing up. Each “How & Why
Wonder Book” dealt with a different topic; mostly science,
but with subjects ranging from history to famous people.
Looking through a list, I see about over a dozen of the
books that I at one time had; the ones my mom kept were
probably among my favorites--Dinosaurs, Weather, Stars, and
Planets & Interplanetary Travel. I mean, think about
it--I’m a self-professed space nerd who at one time had a
collection of plastic dinosaurs and who now complains about
the weather when it’s not nice out.
See? Those books DID warp me for life!
As I remember them, these books were probably the closet
thing kids in the late 60s had to
Wikipedia. They were arranged as a series of
questions about a subject; the answers would then follow,
along with a hand-drawn illustration of what the answer was
talking about. So instead of typing, I dunno, “Triceratops”
into a search engine, you’d grab your “How & Why Wonder
Book” on dinosaurs, look at the page with the question about
Triceratops, and find your answer there. Yes, it was
incredibly low tech, but in the years before information on
demand, that’s how you learned.
And yes, by writing that last paragraph, I proved I’m old.
What’s your point?
Anyway, I’m glad my mom held onto those books, and I’m glad
she now has instructions to never ever get rid of them. The
books may not be worth much and the information in them may
be dated, but you know what? They were part of the vast
mosaic that become the adult “me”, and for that, I’d like to
think they deserve to stick around just a while longer.
There's no way it's half over, is there?
If you consider “summer” (and this year, of course, we must
use the quotes around “summer”) to be the months of June,
July, and August, then today, July 15th, the middle day of
the middle month of “summer”, marks the halfway point of the
Yup. “Summer” is half way over already.
I don't mention it to bum you out, nor do I mention it to
set myself up for an epic session of whining about the
unfairness of it all. I just brought it up because my mind
is blown by the simple fact that today marks the halfway
point of a season for which I live but, because of whatever,
I've yet to even start enjoying.
“Summer”, we hardly knew ye.
This actually all came up while I was off on my meandering
Saturday morning run, one of the only meandering Saturday
morning runs this “Summer” when it was warm enough for me to
be sweating like a pig. Now setting aside the question of
whether or not pigs can actually sweat (can they?), it was
one of those runs about which I (literally) dream. And as I
was running and sweating like a pig, it occurred to me that
this was perhaps the first time all year I was doing
both—running & sweating, at the same time—and it had taken
all the way to July 12th for that to occur. Once I realized
it was July 12th, which is only three days before July 15th,
the mid point of “Summer”...
Well, that's when the whole thing spiraled out of control.
The first part of this year speeding by I can understand. I
don't have to once again list everything that happened; if
you read this even one time between January and May, you
know what I'm talking about. But I thought—naively,
perhaps—that once things returned to “normal” that I'd get
some sort of “normalcy” back in both my life and in the way
in which I perceive time.
Looks like I was wrong on both counts.
I know there's nothing I can do about it, and I feel like
I'm starting to venture into whining territory, so I'll shut
up about it now. But if you happen to see grey matter
splattered here or there on Front Street in Marquette the
next few days, don't worry. It's nothing serious.
It's just what's left over after my mind gets blown.
And happy Bastille Day!
Yeah; I know the French version of our Fourth of July
probably doesn't ring many bells with the vast majority of
you, but I do know that we have a couple of people who read
this everyday who live in France (bonjour, Thierry, bonjour,
Nathalie!) so I figure we might as well mark the day, right?
That got me to thinking. And that, as we all know, can be a
dangerous thing. I've been writing these little...whatever
you wanna call thems for 13 years now, since 2001. Over
those 13 years, I wonder how many other countries we've
touched? I know that when I write my trip blogs on the
Blogspot site there's a
little thing you can click on to tell you what countries
readers are from (or, at least, in which countries the
servers they're using to connect to you are located), but
I've never had that for this little thing.
Looking at the statistics for the Blogspot site makes me
laugh, on occasion, if only because of some of the, uhm,
interesting places from which we get hits. The U.S., of
course, always pops up first, followed by the countries in
which we have friends we're visiting—France, or Belgium or
Germany. But then it gets weird. One year, India provided
us a large chunk of readers—in fact, we even received a few
nice notes from several of them—another time, it was South
Africa. Another, Russia.
How people from those countries stumbled across a blog from
two Americans traveling in Europe (or how their spiders or
search engines robots did so), I do not know. But
apparently it happens, and apparently it happens quite a
So here's the deal—if you read this regularly, or have even
just stumbled on it by accident, and you're from a country
outside of the U.S., please let me know. My e-mail address
is always at the end of each post, and don't worry—I won't
mention you in any way. I know almost everyone who reads
this does so as a “lurker”, and I'm cool with that. I don't
want to “unlurk” you. But I'm curious, so let me know, and
we'll see how many people in how many different countries
Who knows...I may then have to start wishing people happy
holidays OTHER that Bastille Day. And that would be one of
the coolest things that I could do
What is it with some people?
I ask that question because of this--there is a three-foot
gap between the building in which I work and the building
next door, the Elks club. Over the years I’ve worked here,
I’ve noticed all kinds of garbage thrown in the gap between
the two buildings, necessitating the occasional cleaning out
of it by the people who own this building. In order to stop
the garbage from being thrown in there, the owners of the
building in which I work have constructed several wooden
fences between the two buildings. They look nice, serve
their purpose, and the newest version of the fence lasted a
whole four months before this happened--
We can’t get you kids anything nice without you wrecking it,
Don’t worry; I know YOU didn’t have anything to do with it.
I’m sure you’re just as...saddened by it as I am. It just
makes me wonder what it is with some people these days. I
mean, I know why the fence is wrecked. Someone--or several
someones--had way too much to drink, were walking up Front
Street, saw a nice new fence just sitting there harmlessly
out of the way, and decided to teach the fence a lesson for,
I dunno, being a fence. Or for being brown. Or both.
Because I don’t drink and because I actually believe in
respecting other people’s property, perhaps I’m not the best
person to ask this question, but what IS it about certain
individuals that compels them, once inebriated, to destroy
things? Living and walking through downtown Marquette means
that this isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like
this. I’ve seen broken windows, dented doors, smashed
hanging planters, puddles of blood, and more piles of puke
than you can shake a two dollar pitcher of beer at. And the
question I always ask is this--
I know; excessive alcohol consumption does different things
to different people. Some people turn all mushy. Some
people turn all friendly. Some people turn all spacey. And
some people, apparently, turn all testosterone-y, feeling
the need to let out that testosterone by picking a fight
with the nearest bouncer, flower planter, or brown wooden
wall, no matter to whom it belongs or who put it up. I
mean, how would one of those people feel if they woke up one
morning and found their car window had smashed in the
previous night by someone just letting off a little
Like I said before, I just don’t understand. I’m sure if I
had a PhD in human psychology or in addiction science I’d
get it a little better, but I don’t understand why people do
things like that. Don’t’ they know what they’re doing?
Don’t they CARE about what they’re doing? I just don’t get
it. I always prefer to focus on the good side of human
beings, but when I see things like this, I certainly
understand that there’s a bad side to substantial subset of
human beings, as well.
If you don’t believe me, just ask the brown fence next
And on that note, have yourself a great weekend; hopefully,
all of your fences will stay in one piece!
You know, I really need to stop forgetting about these
Yup, I've done it again. I have another Jim Koski ™ tour
for the Marquette Regional History Center a mere six days
from today, and do you think I've lifted a finger about it?
I know; I have no excuse other than the excuses I usually
use. But at least this time it's a little different--
I really don't have much work to do for this tour.
Six days from today, next Wednesday, I'm giving the “Other
Side of the Tracks” tour, and the reason I don't have much
work to do on it is that I gave it last year after putting
it together at the last minute. No, I wasn’t
procrastinating back then; I was a very last minute
replacement for another program that had to be canceled when
the person presenting it passed away.
Luckily, I already had the concept for the tour in my head,
and was able to throw it together in a couple of days. And
that's why I'm not stressing about the fact that this tour
is only six days away. The tour's basically done, and when
I add to that several stories I've discovered since giving
it the first time last year, it should be a lot of fun, even
if you took the tour last year.
Of course, how could the tour NOT be fun, when it contains
the trifecta of Jim Koski ™ tours—bootleggers, hookers, and
One of the reasons I was allowed to leave the History Center
board earlier this year was because I agreed to keep doing
programs and tours, something I really enjoy doing. In
fact, I'm already looking ahead to next year, yet aside from
one, I don't have any concrete ideas on what I want to do.
Due to numerous requests, I'll be doing the Great Fire Tour
again on June 11th, 2015, but that leaves a winter indoor
program and a summer walking tour still to be determined.
At this point, I'm wide open to suggestions, so if you have
anything you've ever wanted to know about, or an old tour or
program I gave five or six years ago that you'd like to see
again, let me know. The final decision isn't up to me;
there's a History Center committee that decides what to do.
But since I'm still the chair of the committee; well, let's
just say that I have a little sway.
However, I'm not gonna get too ahead of myself right now.
After all, I need to first pull put the notes and pictures
from last year's tour and get them read to go again
Wednesday. Then MAYBE I can start thinking about next year.
If nothing else, that'll give me plenty of time to forget
about it all, right?
(p.s.--I also must stand corrected on something I wrote
yesterday, about how I had to obsess over strawberries now
that the lilacs are all gone. Well, daily blog reader Cyndy
in Au Train pointed out that while the lilacs are gone in
Marquette, they aren't gone in Au Train. In fact, she sent
She says she's sniffing them for me, and for that, Cyndy, I
say thanks. Too bad you couldn't bottle up the scent and
sent it this way!)
Hi, my name is Jim, and I'm a strawberry-holic.
This time of the year, my “addiction” becomes readily
apparent. Since last week, I've had strawberries for
breakfast on some days, for lunch a couple of those days,
and during dinner (or for an evening snack) every single day
since, I believe, last Wednesday. Some of the strawberries
I've eaten came from
Farmer Q's, while the best
of them came after my dad spent Sunday morning living
through a thunderstorm while picking 16 or 20 quarts (I
don't remember which) in Traunik.
And seeing as how my dad picked all those strawberries by
himself, maybe I'm not the ONLY strawberry-holic in the
I can't explain my addiction to strawberries, other than to
say I've had it for as long as I can remember. Unlike my
dad, who loves picking any kind of berries, I've only been
out gathering strawberries once, and that's when I was a
young kid and my parents took me out to pick. I don't
believe I did a very good job; in fact, if I remember
correctly, I ate more than I actually put in the
Of course, the best part of that story is the fact that
after I spent the entire morning eating strawberries instead
of picking them, we went out to lunch where the only thing I
ordered, if I remember correctly, was a strawberry shake.
What can I say? Even as a kid, I guess I was kind of, uhm,
I think the reason I go so gaga for strawberries this time
of the year is that they're fresh. They taste like
strawberries. You know they've just been ripped from the
ground, and they taste that way, unlike some of the packaged
strawberries you can get during the winter. I mean, sure,
I'll eat those, because they're the only strawberries
available, but I know that they're not as good as the
strawberries you get in June (or, this year, July). I look
forward to them every year, and often find myself binging on
them, as I'm doing this year. After all, strawberries have
one of the shortest shelf lives of any fruit or vegetable,
so it's either use 'em or lose 'em, right?
And I know which side of the eating equation I'd rather be
So if you happen to see me in the next week or so and my
lips are redder than usual or I have seeds stuck in my
teeth, just remember I'm feeding my addiction to
strawberries. After all, I need something to fixate on now
that the lilacs are gone, right?
I'm sad to say that the French mayor who once insisted we
crash a wedding reception has died.
Of all the possible sentences one could write in one's life,
that sentence is one that very few people could write, at
least in English. However, it looks like I'm one of the few
who could, and that's why I'm a bit sad at the passing of
Mayor Michel Lepourry of Sainteny, Manche, France.
We met Mayor Lepourry back in 2009, through our friend
Jean-Paul Pitou. Jean-Paul lives near Sainteny, and at the
end of spending the day with him driving all around Normandy
to look at war-related stuff for Loraine, we wound up at the
Sainteny town hall, where Mayor Lepourry regaled us with
tales of life under Nazi occupation. He was only a child
then, but those tales had stuck with him over those 60+
Once we were done we thought we were done and figured we
would be on our way, but Mayor Lepourry had other ideas.
You see, the town's butcher had been married a few weeks
earlier, was having his reception that afternoon, and the
Mayor had been invited. Apparently, he didn't want to
drive, so he took it upon himself to invite both us and Jean
Paul, and since you apparently can't say “no” to a French
mayor, Loraine and I ended up—uninvited--at a French wedding
I've often said that we get into the strangest adventures
when we're in Europe, and if it's not Loraine's fault then
it's because of people like Mayor Lepourry. I can't
complain; after all, how many times do you get to meet a
French mayor, and then find yourself driving him up the road
to crash a wedding reception?
Nope; not often.
So au revoir, Mayor Lepourry. Thanks for giving us a couple
of hours we'll never forget!
(That's Mayor Lepourry on the left, showing off part of his
town's collection of 51 American state (and District of
“Run, Jim, run”!
I can’t tell you how many times I heard that during the
Marquette and Ishpeming parades Friday, as I was madly
sprinting from one side of the street to the other or as I
was running a 100 meter dash in order to catch up with the
Pedal Cruiser we were using as our parade entry. You see, I
was trying to take as many pictures as possible of the
people who had made up signs for our little “Parades of
Cash” contest, and as it turned out a LOT of people made up
signs for our little “Parades of Cash” contest.
That’s why I was running the entire time.
I’ve often joked that the one day of the year when I really
don’t need any kind of workout is parade day, if only
because I move so much during both events. This year was no
exception; in fact, I think I may have moved more during
these parades than in most recent years. I don’t know why;
I don’t know if the signs were spread apart more than usual,
or if Marquette and Ishpeming streets have all of a sudden
become wider and longer, but I sure was on my feet a lot and
moving quite rapidly.
And, of course, hearing several different people yell out
“Run, Jim, run” while I was doing my best Forrest Gump
As you may have inferred, I took a BUNCH of pictures of
people holding up signs, all of which you can see on
our Facebook fan page.
However, I do need to point out two of them, the first of
which just blew me away with its sheer beauty—
That was painted by Lori Keto, who just did an amazing job
with her sign. In fact, I’m trying to see if I can snag her
art from her, because I really think it deserves to be
framed and hung inside of the station. I really do!
The other picture I need to point out? This one—
I see pictures like this many times a year during a parade,
mostly because people just want my attention and know I’ll
laugh when I see it. However, this one deserves special
attention, if only because it’s being held up by the one &
only Dennis Whitley! I think his daughter Lane has a
picture of the two of us laughing at the sign. If that is
the case, Lane, I want a copy!
Now the parades are over and I get to move on to one of the
other big July events in my life—watching the
Tour de France! And seeing
as how Mark Cavendish is out of the race after causing an
accident and separating his shoulder, it means that
different people will win different legs.
And that’s always makes watching the race even more fun!
Do you have your signs ready yet?
I’m talking, of course, about the signs you need to have
ready for our “July Parades of Ca$h” tomorrow in
Ishpeming and Marquette. It’s always one of my favorite
days of the year, not only because I get to give away my
boss’s money, but because of the signs.
Every year, I’m constantly amazed by the work some people
put into their signs. I mean, sure. . .there are some people
who just scribble “Q107” on a paper plate, and that’s fine.
That’s all you need to do. And this year, we’re making it
even easier on you. Go to the
front page of this website,
scroll down a little, do a little clicking, and download a
sign that’s already to be printed out. (Or
Click Here) See? Absolutely no work on your
part at all!
But then. . .there are people who obviously put a lot of
time and talent into what they do. I’ve seen works of art
out on the street. I’ve seen families who’ve obviously
spent an evening putting signs together, and I’ve seen some
very unique interpretations of our call letters.
And I enjoy each and every one of them.
Every year during the parades, I’ll take pictures of a bunch
of the signs and post them on
our Facebook fan page.
After all, if you guys put that much work into them, they
deserve to be seen by the public, right? So get those signs
made up, and bring them with you to the parades tomorrow in
Marquette and Ishpeming. Who knows—they could not only win
you cash, but they could be stuck up on the Interweb for
everyone on the planet to see!
By the way, there won’t be a blog entry tomorrow; even
though we’re in the parades that day, it’s still a
“holiday”. So have yourself a great 3-day (or 4-day, or
however long it is) holiday weekend; enjoy the sun while
it’s here. And, of course, yell loudly (and show us your
signs) when we pass in the parades tomorrow!
I'm glad someone asked the question.
I posted a couple of pictures on
my Facebook page Sunday,
and I did it for a particular reason. I went to Park
Cemetery and, like I do every year, cleaned off a couple of
headstones. I then posted pictures of them, these
And mentioned that they belonged to two Marquette icons.
Now, I was pretty sure everyone knows who George Shiras III
is, but I was hoping someone would bite on Charles Pong.
Thanks for biting, Doug Garrison!
Charlie Pong was born in China and came to Marquette right
around 1900. He opened a laundry, which he operated until
his death in 1949. The interesting thing about Charlie? He
sent every single cent of money he earned back to his family
in China, so when he passed away he was penniless. Since he
had no money, the city was just going to bury him in
Potter's Field. However, Charlie was so beloved by his
fellow business owners and the community at large that they
all chipped in so that he could have his own burial plot and
You know, the headstone I cleaned off Sunday.
I wanted to bring this up because I was interviewed for a
forthcoming Marquette Monthly piece about Park Cemetery, and
one of the stories I told was about Charlie Pong. His
headstone is under a pine tree that leaks an awful lot of
pine tree gunk, so that's why I clean it every year or two.
And I'm not the only one who seems to know about Mr. Pong;
every year, usually after I clean off the headstone,
someone—and I have no idea who—leaves flowers at his grave.
There are great stories like that all through Park Cemetery;
in fact, I could spend hours (if not days) wandering around
and sharing them. But I've always had a soft spot in my
heart for Charlie Pong's story, which is why I make sure his
is one of the headstones I clean off every year.
And now you know, too!
Please try not to hate me, but I’ve just noticed that even
though I’ve gained two pounds none of my pants seem to fit
Okay...go ahead and hate me a little, if you’d like, but I’m
just as surprised as you are. Over the past two weeks, I’ve
noticed that I’ve put on one pound each of those weeks, and
it’s surprised me a little bit. I mean, I think I look the
same as I always do, and I can’t see where two pounds of
extra blubber might be hiding. I have, though, put on two
pounds, and as we all know, scales are NEVER wrong, right?
Then I went to put on a pair of shorts I hadn’t worn in
those two weeks, and noticed that as soon as I put them on
they started to slide down my waist a little. That got me
to thinking; I’ve also had to tighten my belt one notch more
than usual when I put it on every morning. And yet, I’ve
gained two pounds over the two past weeks. Should my shorts
not slide down? Shouldn’t I have to let my belt out a notch
instead of making it tighter?
And that‘s when it hit me. I may finally be adding a little
muscle to my body.
Those of you who’ve read this forever know that I’ve been
trying to add a little muscle to my body for as long as
you’ve been reading this. I work out, I eat lots of
protein, but I’ve never succeeded, thanks mostly to my
genetic makeup and thanks in a smaller way to the fact that
I run, and you hardly ever see a bulked up runner, right? I
mean, I’m not (in any way) trying to look like Arnold
Schwarzenegger; I just don’t wanna be the skinniest dork on
However, the fact that I’ve put on weight while shedding an
inch or two from my waistline means that I must be adding
muscle somewhere, even if I can’t see it. Muscle weighs a
lot more than fat; that why they’re always telling people
who are trying to lose weight and get in shape not to look
at the scale but to look at your clothes instead. When you
replace fat with muscle you don’t necessarily lose weight,
but you will lose inches.
Apparently, that’s what I’ve finally succeeded in doing.
I have no idea where this muscle is; like I said, to me, at
least, I look pretty much like I always have. But it must
be lurking in there somewhere, the same way that the fat it
replaced was floating around. Hopefully, I’ll start adding
more muscle, and then you may even be able to notice it. Of
course, I’ve been trying to add bulk for 13 or 14 years now,
and if it’s taken this long to add a couple of pounds, I’ll
probably be in my 70s or 80s before I add enough that you
can actually see.
Oh well; by then I’ll be old, but at least I’ll be the
buffest guy at the Senior Center, right?
I’d be curious to know what finally prompted my muscles to
start growing. I know that I’m always changing up my
workout routine to trying and fool my body into thinking
it’s working hard. Maybe that’s what caused it. Maybe it’s
caused by those isometric exercises from Women’s Health
magazine, the ones that still make my body sore on a weekly
basis. I don’t know; I’m just happy that it’s working.
Even if it does mean that someday soon I may have to go out
and buy new shorts. And maybe a belt, while I’m at it.
At least the last month of the first half of the year didn’t
suck as much as the rest of the first half of the year.
Those of you who’ve been reading this on an on-going basis
know just of what I speak—the ongoing trials and
tribulations of a radio station gone “poof” (and a complete
air staff turnover, except for me), a nasty, prolonged
streak of cold weather taking over our lives, three months
of construction to the house where we live, Loraine’s
illnesses, hospitalization, surgery, and recovery, and
several other matters I’ve not brought up in here.
Needless to say, the first half of 2014 hasn’t been the best
of times. However, I’m glad to say that things are looking
Just in June, this little radio gig got back to normal, our
landlords have finally finished rebuilding whatever it is
they were rebuilding, there have been three whole days where
the temperature approached (or surpassed) 80, and Loraine
has now been able to eat every single food she couldn’t
before her gall bladder surgery, and eat it without any sort
That’s why I’m hopeful things are looking up.
I think I’ve mentioned in here before that I’m okay with a
certain amount of chaos and surrealism. I realize that life
is a constantly changing series of events, and that any
routines and patterns in which you become comfortable will
not always be there. I understand that, and I try to go
with the flow of events as much as possible. But given
every single thing that went on during the first half of the
year, and how sometimes events would just start piling on
one another; well, sometimes I think that even I was pushed
to my limits.
And I’d like to think that that’s saying something.
Thankfully, my eternal sense of optimism was not totally
shoved under the rug during the first half of 2014, which
leads me to hope that the second half of 2014 is everything
its predecessor wasn’t. I’m hopeful nothing breaks, I’m
hopeful we have wonderful weather, I’m hopeful I can live in
an apartment with as much peace & quiet as you can get
living right near downtown Marquette, and I’m hopeful that
good health reigns over everyone with whom I come in
contact, including everyone who reads this.
So on that note, farewell first half of 2014. Don’t let the
door hit you in the calendar on the way out!
(ps—thanks to daily blog reader Cyndy of Au Train for taking
pictures of the lilacs JUST SPROUTED in her yard and posting
them on Facebook. Cyndy, give them a sniff or six for me!)
Wow. This week sure flew by, didn't it?
Because today could be the first nice sunny warm day here in
Marquette in, like, forever, I'm gonna take a half day
today, which means that I have to get down to work early so
I can leave for a bit. But I couldn't do that without first
having to apologize to my dear wife, even if it's a
Loraine, I'm sorry.
Here's the deal—over the years we've been together Loraine
has often commented on how I tend to talk back to the TV
while watching football, especially if the team for which
I'm cheering isn't doing too well. I'm sure it's a bit
annoying to her, and I've tried to tone it down over the
years, but only to middling success.
Yesterday, I was at work when Ryan (the host of “The
Sportspen” on our
ESPN station was
watching the US lose to Germany in the World Cup. After
Germany scored its goal, and every time the US failed to
capitalize on a scoring chance, Ryan let out groans of
misery and cries following lost opportunities. He even
started talking to the players on the TV, apparently not
aware that they could hear him.
Seeing as how I do the exact same thing, especially when The
Colts aren't playing up to their potential, I know what he's
going through. And I also now know what Loraine goes
through every time I do it. And THAT”S why I'm apologizing
to her, even if it's retroactively.
My dear, I had no idea. I'll try not to do it again!
On that note, I do have to get going. Have yourself a great
weekend; from the sounds of it, we may even have a day
tomorrow that may help in that cause!
I wonder. How many people do you think have actually
As you know, I've been doing the “On The Town” segments for
Fox UP's Thursday night news for four weeks now. Usually
when I do TV, I have people come up to me (quite often on
the street) and mention they've seen me. Well, in the month
I've been doing these little bits, I have yet to have anyone
come up to me. I mean, I'm not really looking to have
people come up to me on the street and talk to me. I just
Of course, now that I've mentioned it, and now that I've
been doing them for a month, I'm sure people WILL start to
come up and say they've seen me on TV. And I have the
feeling that most of them will have watched the segment that
I taped Tuesday and that airs tonight, a segment that went
very well except for one glaring problem--
I shot it when I had, for some strange reason, a big zit on
my upper lip.
I was always under the assumption that one of the few good
things about getting older is that you don't have to deal
with things like zits. However, I've found that not to be
true. And they (the zits) usually pop up at the worst of
times, like when I need to shoot something for TV, such as
this past Tuesday. When she was shooting it
Kelsey said it wasn't
noticeable, and since it wasn't shot in HD it probably
isn't, but I'll know it's there, and now if you watch
tonight, YOU'LL be able to notice it, as well.
Is there any wonder I don't like to watch myself on TV?
Hopefully, I won't have a problem like this pop up when my
other TV project (the one I still can't tell you about)
starts this fall. If it does, I'll have to make sure there
IS a makeup artist standing by, because I don't know if all
of Upper Michigan wants to see a show host (at least one
who'll never see 40 again) with zits popping up here and
there. I'm enough of a dork as it is, you know?
Of course, it could be worse. My voice could be cracking at
the same time my zits are popping out. And that is a
concern; for many years, and for some reason I've yet to
figure out, my voice would crack at odd times like a 13-year
old while I was doing my radio stuff. Thankfully (or not
thankfully, depending upon which medium I'm doing) the voice
cracking has been replaced by odd zit that pops up every few
months. Yes, I know it's a First World problem, and yes, I
know it makes no difference in the grand scheme of things.
I guess, despite my best efforts, there is still a little
vanity lurking in me somewhere.
Dang it all anyway.
So, like I said, watch the Fox UP newscast tonight, and see
if YOU can notice the zit on my face. I know I won't be
Since we're in the middle of some really ugly weather (and
just as an aside, when hasn't the weather been ugly this
year?), I figure I'll try & brighten everyone's day with
some pictures of flowers, pictures I took Sunday when the
sun actually was out and the rain actually was not as
omnipresent as it has been the past few days.
I don't know why I like to go around shooting pictures of
flowers; I mean, it's not like I grow them, or even know
anything about them. There's just something about them that
appeals to my eye. I'm not sure if it's the delicate-ness
(if that's a word) of them--
But I do think a lot of it has to do with the colors of the
flowers, and the color contrast you can get between the
flowers and whatever's behind them. At least, that's the
impression I got when I was looking at what I shot--
Even if all those colors are purple!
Of course, I'm sure the way the flowers smell has something
to do with it, even if you can't photograph smells (and
trust, me I've tried with lilacs. I've really tried!)
Anyway, just think how nice THIS will be smelling in a
couple of days--
Finally, this picture has nothing to do with flowers, but I
took it because the scene just seemed so... European, when
in reality it was smack dab in the middle of Marquette--
Like I said, I figured I'd put the pictures up to try and
counteract some of the gloom we've been experiencing
recently (or all year, if you prefer). Hope it worked!
A couple of things today, the first of which is a sentence I
never thought I'd write--
I actually almost agree with the Mining Journal on
I know; who thought that would ever be possible, right?
What's next—hell freezes over? The Lions go to the Super
Bowl? The mind just boggles!!
Anyway, as some of you may know, the Mining Journal has
restricted access to their website to only paid subscribers
of their newspaper. If you don't subscribe, you just get to
read the first paragraph of the story. And being a content
provider myself, that's the part I can agree with. I mean,
the Mining Journal has to pay reporters to go and cover
stories, so if the paper were just to throw everything on
the web without getting any money for it, I'm guessing they
wouldn't be around for long. I mean, I don't know much
about business, but I do think you need to have some money
coming in to balance the money going out, right? Unless
you're independently wealthy, you probably can't afford to
give stuff away for free.
So that's why I understand what the Mining Journal did.
Now, do I think they rolled it out properly? No. They only
gave readers a few days notice, they don't have access to
back issues that used to be on the web, and perhaps most
importantly, they don't (unless I'm missing something that's
right in front of my face) have a “digital only”
subscription option. If you want to access their content,
you have to pay for a print edition, even if you're in in
someplace exotic, like Europe. Or Wisconsin.
And that just doesn't make sense, at least to me.
But like I said, I understand why they're doing it. Just
posting everything online for free would be like allowing
people to walk into Burger King, pick up a Whopper, and then
leave without paying. So mark this day on your calender—the
Mining Journal and I agree on something.
Now go place your bets on the Lions making the Super Bowl!
Secondly, I have to share a note I received from daily blog
reader Heather in Marquette, who said, and I quote--
“When I read your line in this morning’s blog about checking
my watch before shooting you in case of a zombie apocalypse,
I spent the next ten minutes laughing my you-know-what off.
Just what kind of mind comes up with a scenario like that?”
Uhm...mine, apparently. It’s a gift. Or a curse. I
haven’t quite figured out which one yet.
Finally, you know how I keep saying I really have to update
the “107 Things” list? Well, I REALLY have to update the
“107 Things” list, as another individual who made it up has
passed away. I don't know if you're heard, but Don Curto
died over the weekend. Don, who probably would've been the
first person to admit he had a larger-than-life personality,
was one of my favorite area raconteurs. For a history buff,
he was a never-ending source of tales, some of them probably
RIP, Don. You will be missed.
Some days, I wonder how I ever make it out the front door
with all my clothes on.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not really a morning
person. If I can help it, I’m not up before the sun
(especially these days when the sun comes out (assuming
there are no clouds) before 6 a.m.). I don’t greet the day
with joy and a burst of energy. And I certainly don’t do
more before dawn than most people do all day. There’s a
reason I’ve never done morning radio, and it all boils down
I am NOT a morning person.
In fact, my dear wife claims, with a fair amount of truth,
that I am a “zombie” in the morning. I’m not gonna deny
that; I find myself wandering around aimlessly and silently,
bumping into things that get into my way, even if they’re
cabinets and even if they’ve been in the same exact place
for 20 or 30 years. So if there ever is a zombie apocalypse
and you’re one of the lucky survivors, you may see me moving
slowly and haltingly down the street. If that happens, do
me a favor, and check the time before you shoot me.
If it’s before noon, there’s a good chance I’m NOT a
zombie. I’m just not awake yet.
I don’t know what it is; there’s just something about my
physical makeup that doesn’t allow me to function very well
early in the day. I can’t just pop out of bed and be at
100%, either physically or mentally. I’ve always been like
that, and I doubt it’s ever gonna change. I need to sit
around for awhile, to try and get my bearings while not
walking into any furniture. I also need to let out a few
grunts & groans, to make sure that I’m actually awake, and
not still in the middle of some kind of really warped
After all that, I’m still only at, if I had to guess, 20 or
30 percent, tops. I’ll still stumble around the house,
bashing into things. I’ll head out the door, hoping I have
everything I need for the day and that I didn’t forget my
socks or underwear. I’ll go in to work, and my coworkers
will make fun of my low-energy silence. I’ve tried
caffeine, and it really doesn’t help. Even working out or
running in the morning, something that’s guaranteed to
provide an energy burst, may only boost me up to 40 or 50
Sure, it’s something, but it’s not a fully functioning
brain. Not that I’ve ever been accused of having a fully
functioning brain, but you know what I mean.
Luckily, something in my system seems to click into gear
around noon, and I’m ready to go by the time I hit the air
at 2. I’m then at 100 percent (or more) for the rest of the
day, sometimes with a burst of energy extending far into the
evening. I then go to bed, and the whole cycle starts over
again, with the grunting and the groaning and the walking
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again--some days, it’s
not easy being me. Especially if it’s in the morning.
who wants you to remember--if it’s before noon, he’s NOT a
zombie. He just looks that way.
And happy almost first day of summer (or what's passing for
it around here this year)!
Laura and I were talking about the longest and shortest days
of the year on the air a couple of days ago, focusing on the
first day of winter people can leave their home, go to work,
and then go home, and not see a lick of sun because of the
shortness of the day. Well, last night, for some bizarre
reason, I was jolted awake in the middle of the night by the
thought that the exact opposite of that will occur on
And then, of course, I couldn't get back to sleep.
But when you think of it, it's true. Say someone goes to
bed at 10pm and wakes up at 6am. If they were to do that
tomorrow in Marquette, they'd be going to bed just after the
sun had set and the sky was still light. They'd then be
waking several minutes after sunrise, when the sky was
filled with light. They'd go to bed when it was light and
wake up when it was light, not seeing a lick of darkness,
just like some people don't see a lick of sun on the first
day of winter.
Nah; I don't think it's a concept worth getting up for in
the middle of the night, but what does my sub-conscious
Back in the days when I Roller-bladed (back before I cracked
a rib after wiping out and Loraine told me I couldn't
Roller-blade any more) I used to go out at 10pm on the first
day of summer and blade around a bit, just because I could.
I mean, there aren't a lot of places in the U.S. where you
can do that. But because we're on the far western edge of a
time zone and because we're quite far north, we get to do
stuff like that. I always felt that I should do just
because we could, just because no one else could.
Maybe THAT'S why I wake up in the middle of the night with
Anyway, now that we're (almost) at the first day of summer,
I hope I won't be awoken with ideas such as those. Of
course, tomorrow probably won't seem like the first day of
summer, what with the rain and cool temperatures that are
forecast, but as Laura and I joke all the time, it's 2014,
and we should expect the unexpected.
So on that not, have yourself a great first day of summer
tomorrow, no matter what happens. Who knows...maybe YOU
won't see a lick of darkness all day yourself!
I'm gonna have to start bringing my empties back to the
store. I just found out you can now make a deposit for a
flight to the moon.
And all it costs is $150 million.
I'm serious (well, not about the empties, but about the
story)--Space Adventures, the company that sells seats up to
International Space Station, has
announced that they've started to take deposits
for a trip to the moon (and back). You won't land on the
moon; instead, you'll just swing around the backside and
then head back to Earth, just like they did in “Apollo 13”,
except without the exploding spacecraft and Tom Hanks.
(As an aside, Mom & Dad, there will only be one thing on my
Christmas list this year!)
Right now, the only way for Americans to get into space is
aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. But, if all goes to
plan, in a couple of years several private firms (Space X
and Boeing, among them) will be launching private spacecraft
into low Earth orbit, which means that there will be extra
Soyuz capsules lying around. Space Adventure, along with
the Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos) has come up with a plan
to modify a Soyuz for a trans-lunar trip. For your $150
million, you'd fly up to the International Space Station in
one Soyuz, spend a day or two there, and then board another
modified Soyuz for your trip to the moon. You'd get back
home two weeks after you left with a lifetime full of
memories and a very empty bank account.
But it'd be worth it, wouldn't it?
Even though the Soyuz has been around for over 45 years,
it's a very sturdy spacecraft. It was actually designed to
fly to the moon, although once the U.S. landed there in 1969
the (then) Soviet Union gave up on the idea of using it for
that purpose. Since then, hundreds of the craft have been
launched into low Earth orbit with very few problems.
Designers say they'd just have to add a module for more
living space and make sure the heart shield was sturdy
enough to enter the atmosphere at an accelerated speed , and
then they'd be all set.
The earliest one of these flights could be made is 2018,
although it probably won't happen by then. Even with all
that, two people have already put down deposits for the
first flight, which means a couple of things—one, it'll
probably happen sooner rather than later, and two, there are
some people with WAAAAAAY too much money out there.
If only I was one of those people, right? Oh well...
It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out. If it
doesn't happen with Space Adventures, I would be shocked if
someone else didn't give it a try. As long as there are
people willing to fork over the Gross National Product of a
small nation for a two week vacation where no one else has
gone before, I'm sure there will be a company out there to
fulfill that wish.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I hafta go see if I can find any
loose change in my couch.
I was walking down Third Street Sunday afternoon when I saw
someone break the law.
It wasn't a big deal, and the only reason I bring it up is
that I'm still trying to decide if I should've said
something to the person violating the law. It wasn't a
gross violation of any civic code, unless you consider
illegal parking a gross violation of a civic code, but I'm
still wondering if I should have brought it up.
I was walking down Third right by The Pasta Shoppe when I
noticed a guy in a car pulling up to park. There were two
empty parking spaces and a sign that said “No Parking Here
To Corner” before you get to the corner of the street.
Well, the guy in the car skipped over the two empty parking
spaces, went passed the sign that said not to park anywhere
else, and parked his car between the “No Parking Here To
Corner” sign and the corner.
Clearly, he was illegally parked.
As he got out of his car, I thought about mentioning his
illegal parking to him, if only to make sure that he didn't
come back from wherever he went to find a ticket on his
windshield. I know that if I was parked like that, I'd want
someone to point out my mistake to me. After all, if given
a choice between someone pointing out a mistake I made and
me having to pay a fine, I'd take the mistake any day of the
So like I said, I was going to point out the mistake to
him. The only thing is, he wa getting out of the car with
a woman. That in itself would've have stopped me from
pointing out his mistake. But as he and the woman were
getting out of the car they were having some rather pointed
words with each other, and I got the feeling that they
didn't want to me interrupted, especially by someone telling
them they had done something wrong. They walked over to
Stuckos, I continued down the street, and that was the last
I saw of them.
Now, I have no idea why they were having pointed words with
each other. I have no idea if, when they walked out of
Stuckos, there was a parking ticket on their car. And I
have no idea how a parking ticket would've impacted on upon
the mood they were both in when they left the car. Like I
said, I didn't want to interrupt that “mood” and make it
worse by telling them they had made a mistake. But then,
maybe if I had, I would've spared that “mood” from becoming
even worse when they left the restaurant to find a parking
ticket on their car.
See why I'm still wondering if I should've said something?
I really don't like getting involved with other people's
business; after all, I enjoy my privacy as much as anyone
else, and do appreciate it when others keep to themselves.
But as I mentioned, I would like to know if I had done
something that could lead to a ticket or some other bout of
trouble, no matter what mood I was in. After all, even if
you're bummed about something, you'll probably be even more
bummed if you walk out to find a parking ticket on your car.
You know, people are always joking that they see me (and
Loraine) walking everywhere, commenting about how we must
get a lot of exercise that way. It's true; we do. But as
you see, walking everyone can also bring up a situation or
two you'd never get yourself into by staying off the
Ah, the things that happen on streets of Marquette, I tall
Me? Cheering for a crappy weather day in summer? Seems
counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Yet that’s what almost
As always, there is a story behind this. As you know, we’ve
suffered through some cold weather recently. And as you
know, we have a forecast of some rather cold weather coming
up. Yesterday, though, was gorgeous—lots of sun, and temps
around 80, the kind of day where I would usually take off
for a couple of hours and just play in the sun, like nature
So why was I almost cheering for crappy weather yesterday
instead of the warmth and the sun? Probably because I had
to be an adult and actually work (inside) all day.
Sometimes, it just sucks having to be responsible, doesn’t
Between several long-scheduled appointments and the
much-needed (and last minute) visit of an engineer to fine
tune our new antenna array, I had to be at work yesterday.
There were no if, ands, or buts about it. I needed to be
there. So when I looked at the forecast and noticed that
the one & only nice day in almost two weeks would fall on
the one & only day I couldn’t take off; well, let’s just say
that didn’t sit very well. Let’s just say that, for a brief
and somewhat painful moment, I almost hoped that the
forecast would be wrong and that we wouldn’t have a nice
Now, I could never actually cheer for bad weather during the
summer. That’s just not in my DNA. And just because I
myself couldn’t enjoy it doesn’t mean that other people
shouldn’t get maximum pleasure out of it. I mean, days like
yesterday, especially during a year like this, don’t pop up
too often, and we should cheer them on, whether we can
personally enjoy them or not. It would’ve been selfish and
mean and very out of character for me to cheer against a
nice day just because I couldn’t enjoy it.
So I didn’t. But I will admit that, when I first saw the
forecast, for at least a second I had to laugh at the irony
of the situation, the irony of the one nice day in a two
week span falling on the one day on which I could not enjoy
it. I don’t begrudge (and will never complain about) one
nice day showing up in a span of blah weather, but did the
one nice day have to show up yesterday? Really???????
So I spent the day indoors, in meetings, and answering a
bunch of technical questions I just barely comprehended, all
while part of my brain kept wondering how much the sun was
shining, or what the conditions were like at McCarty’s Cove.
I’m pretty sure it was not the most efficient way of
utilizing my time yesterday, but at least I got through
everything scheduled with the minimum amount of psychic pain
I could inflict upon myself, knowing that today (Tuesday)
and the rest of the week will be a lot cooler, a lot
cloudier, and a lot less friendly to spending the day
Sigh. Sometimes it sucks being an adult, doesn’t it?
Oww. I hurt, and it's all because of a woman's magazine.
Here's the deal—every since Loraine bought her new car a
year and a half ago she's been receiving all kinds of
magazines in the mail. She never ordered them, never paid
for them, but they keep coming in the mail every month since
she purchased her car. And it's a rather eclectic groups of
magazines, too, ranging from Prevention (health tips for old
people) to Parenting (baby tips for young people).
(And just as an aside, do the target demographics for
Prevention and Parenting even overlap at all? Just
Anyway, Loraine's been getting all these mystery magazines,
and most of them just get brought to work with her, much to
the eternal delight of everyone at Range Bank. There's one
that doesn't make the trip down the street, though, and
that's Women's Health. I've been reading Men's Health for
years now, and it's been quite interesting getting a glimpse
of the “mirror universe”, as it were. Both magazines are
put out by the same publisher, so they follow the same
format, and like I said it's interesting seeing the same
topics covered from a different perspective.
As an example? One of the things both magazines focus on is
fitness. Men's Health is full of articles on how to make
your biceps pop or make your abs rock hard, while Women's
Health focuses more on overall strength. In their newest
issue they had an article dealing with isometrics, which is
basically holding an athletic position for a certain amount
of time and letting your muscles build from that, instead of
building your muscles by moving weights up & down. It
sounded interesting, so I figured I'd give it a try.
Now, I'd like to think I'm in fairly good shape, especially
for someone who'll never be young(er) again. I run, I bike,
I ski, and yes, I also move weights up & down. I'm not in
perfect shape, but I certainly feel like I'm doing okay.
However, after doing just one of those isometric exercises
in this month's edition of Women's Health I feel more like a
weak little wimpy person, someone who's sole existence in
life is to get sand kicked in their face by someone who CAN
do those exercises.
Here's what kicked my butt--an exercise designed to build
your upper arms, back, and core. Assume a push-up position,
lower yourself halfway to the floor, and then hold it for
one minute. Rest a second, and do it again for a total of
Seems simple, right? Well, after barely making it through
the first of four times, and then collapsing during the
second time, let me tell you this—it is NOT as easy as it
looks. I thought I had somewhat strong arms and a good
back, but as it turns out, they're nowhere near good enough
to get through even half of that exercise. And if the
embarrassment of not even getting through half of the
exercise was enough, I woke up the next morning and could
barely move my arms.
That's how sore I was.
I'm a little better today, but I can still really feel it.
Don't worry; I'll keep doing the exercises until I can
finish the whole set of four, and do so without losing all
strength in my arms for the next few days. After all, if
they're that hard, and they make me that sore, they must be
really good for you, right?. And who knew I have Women's
Health—and Loraine's car—to thank for that?
Speaking of Loraine's car, remind me to tell you some day
about neither of us can seem to park that little bugger
FRIDAY, 6/13 (!):
I really need to change something about myself.
Well, to be honest, there are probably a lot of things I
need to change about myself, but there's one that I really
really think I need to work on. I really need to work on
remembering people's names a whole lot better than I do now.
This happens to me on a regular basis. I get introduced to
a lot of people in my life, and then when I next see them, a
few months or a few years later, I can't remember their
name. I try, but I can't. And it's not just with people
who I've just met; after the Fire tour Wednesday, I rain
into someone I'd gone to school with but mixed up his name
with the name of someone else. After this happens, I feel
horrid about it, but there doesn't seem to be anything I can
do to make my problem better.
It's just a skill I don't seem to have.
I'm usually pretty upfront about it. If someone comes up to
me and starts talking like they know me, I'll usually make
an apology and then ask them to remind me of their name. I
don't know if it makes my faux pas any less faux pas-ier,
but at least I try to be honest about it. And when I see
that particular person again, I'll usually remember who they
Unless, of course, it's been several months or several
years, in which case all bets are off.
I understand part of why this happens. I'm not trying to
make excuses (at all), but like I said, I meet a lot of
people, sometimes four or five at a time, and I have to try
and remember all those names. Each of the people I meet
only has to remember one name, mine. And since mine is (for
better or worse) a recognizable name in some circles...
It'd be like me, along with 10 other people, meeting
President Obama, and then hoping he'd remember my name three
Like I said, I'm not trying to make excuses. I really
REALLY need to work on remembering people's names better.
Out of the many things I'd like to change about myself,
that's one of, if not the, biggest. So if you have any tips
on how to better remember names, please pass them along. If
nothing else, people I meet in the future, people I knew
years ago, and almost everyone else I run into on the street
will thank you.
And so will I!
On that note, have yourself a great weekend. Hopefully,
YOU'LL remember the names of anyone you happen to meet!
If you saw about 100 people standing on a downtown Marquette
street corner last night, it wasn’t a riot. It wasn’t a
protest. It wasn’t a flash mob.
It was me.
That’s right; “The Great Marquette Fire Tour” was a rousing
success last night. Like I said, 100 or so people showed up
to hear the story of a fire almost snuffed our fair city out
of existence in 1868. I have to admit that I was a little
shocked by how many people showed up; apparently, though,
they were as curious as I had been putting the tour together
to see what happened on that fateful night 146 years ago
In a way, I have to be thankful that not more people showed
up. Walking around a busy downtown with a group of 100
people probably isn’t the safest thing (for them) to do in
the world, and I know that with all the street noise there
were people who couldn’t hear me, even with an amplification
system. I also had to revise the tour on the fly; there was
no way I was gonna ask that many people to try & cross
certain busy streets. But we muddled through, and in the
end everyone seemed to have a good time.
And it sounds like everyone there learned a little
something, too, so that’s a bonus!
Because the people at the History Center are always bugging
me to do this, and because, like I said yesterday, it’s a
story with a definite beginning, middle, and end, I’m
thinking I should probably write down everything I said last
night. That way, the History Center has a document to share
with people on an event that hasn’t been well-chronicled,
and I can probably get a few blogs out of it.
So it’s a win-win for everyone involved!
I had several people ask last night if I would be doing the
tour again, because they wanted to bring friends or family
members to see it, and while I don’t know for sure, I always
say that if people wanna learn about Marquette history, I’m
more than happy to walk around downtown & talk about it. I
also had someone ask if this was going to become an annual
event for every June 11th. And while I hadn’t even
considered that possibility; well, you never know.
I have to thank Blaine Betts for holding part of my portable
sound system above his head so people could hear a little
better; I should also thank my dad for taking over when
Blaine’s arm started to wear out. And, of course, I have to
thank Loraine for helping to pass out pictures. They all
made the tour go a lot smoother than it otherwise could’ve.
I now have five weeks until the next Jim Koski ™ event;
which is a turbo-charging of one I put together in a few
days last year after another program presenter died. This
one should be fun, if only because it hits the mythical
trifeca of historical tours—it has bootleggers, it has
killers, and it has hookers.
Oh, it’s gonna be a fun one!
146 years ago today Marquette was changed forever.
One hundred and forty six years ago tonight, what most
people refer to as “The Great Marquette Fire of 1868” ripped
through what was then a frontier town, destroying the entire
business district and coming perilously close to wiping out
the entire city. And that's why tonight I'm leading a Jim
Koski ™ tour about the fire for the
Marquette Regional History Center.
(I'm calling it a Jim Koski ™ tour despite the lack of
killers or hookers or bootleggers; those all come in the
tour I'm giving next month!)
I've now done interviews about the tour for every single TV
station in Marquette, and one question actually stood
out—Danielle Davis from
TV-10 asked me why I was
doing the tour, and I had to answer honestly.
I'm doing the tour because I wanted to learn about the fire!
Like most people, I'm aware of the fire, and how it shaped
the downtown Marquette we all know and love. But I didn't
know too many of the details, and I figured that by putting
a tour together I'd get to learn a lot of stuff I didn't
know. And while it doesn't happen very often, I'm proud to
report that this time I was right. I actually DID learn a
lot of stuff!
I'm not gonna give away many of the details here; after all,
I know that some of you who read this usually show up for
the tours, and I don't wanna spoil your surprises. But I
will say that more than any other tour I've given this one
plays out like a movie or a good suspense novel. It has a
set-up, a tragedy, episodes of suspense, valiant efforts,
and a definite ending. Most of the tours I give meander
throughout the years without a pinpoint plot line—after all,
that's usually how history moves—but this tour definitely
will have a plot. After all, it covers a mere four hours in
the history of Marquette, but it's four hours that changed
the city forever.
If you're interested in checking it out, it gets underway at
630 at the Firefighter's Memorial at Lower Harbor Park. It
should take a little over an hour, and there's a $5
suggested donation to allow the History Center to do more
programs like this.
Hope to see you there; details on how it went tomorrow!
For those of you wondering—yes, I HAVE been sniffing lilacs
to the exclusion of almost everything else.
Did you expect anything different?
Not only have I been sniffing the greatest flowers (or, more
technically, the greatest tree blossoms) on the face of the
Earth, I've also been snapping a few pictures of them.
After all, they're only around for a week, week and a half
at most; it's really a shame (at least in my weird opinion)
if you don't take advantage of them while they're here. It
is, after all, one of those classic “use it or lose it”
situations, and I know on which side of that equation I
would much rather err.
So here we go, starting with what some people might consider
to be paradise--
That tree wasn't even at perhaps my favorite place to sniff,
Lakeside Park in Marquette. Not only are the trees there
abundantly filled with lilacs, but you get a nice view, as
I wasn't the only creature interested in the lilacs--
That's not the only insect I captured. While I was just
spinning around shooting every lilac I could find, I took
this shot. Now, I don;'t know if it'll show up in the small
(425 pixel) picture I'm posting here, but look at the upper
left hand corner. See the blur?
That's another insect, a wasp or something, coming in for a
By the way, before I leave the subject of lilacs, I really
have to thank my enabler, the one person in the world who
indulges my little, uhm, addiction. Sunday Loraine and I
did a walk-through of the Fire tour I'm giving for the
History Center tomorrow night, and since we ended right near
Lakeside Park, she looked at me and said those words that
every man longs to hear--
“You wanna go look at lilacs?”
Does she know me or what?
Speak of the Fire tour I'm giving for the History Center,
much more on that tomorrow!
I’ve started thinking in French again.
Three months (give or take a few days) from today we’ll
(hopefully) be returning from our latest European trip,
which has reminded me that I need to brush up on my French
language skills. Those of you who read this on a regular
basis know that, over the last six or seven years, I’ve
managed to teach myself enough of the language to get by,
Rosetta Stone and my handy
dandy “French is Easy; Don't be a Coward” book (a book, as
they note, geared for seventh graders, but good for adults,
too). While I’m nowhere near fluent in being able to speak
or listen to the language with someone who grew up speaking
and listening to it, I’m pretty good at reading it, and I
can hold my own in a two or three sentence conversation with
a native French speaker.
As I’ve found every time I’ve been in Europe, as long as you
make the effort to speak the language in whichever country
you’re visiting, people will meet you halfway. After all,
students in Europe learn several different languages, and
most choose English as one of them. So between my
self-taught French and their school-taught English, Loraine
and I have managed to got around France & Belgium with no
problem whatsoever. In fact, the only problem is in the few
months before we leave, when I realize I’ve forgotten half
of what I learned before the previous trip, and need to
Which is why I’m trying to think in French these days.
And even the phrase “thinking in French” is misleading.
After all, it’s not like I’m thinking about what I’m typing
in this blog in French; like I said, I’m not fluent enough
in the language to do that (some people, of course, would
say that I’m not fluent enough in English to write a blog,
either, but that’s a conversation for another day). When I
say I’m “thinking in French”, I do it in small ways. When
someone asks me a question, I’ll answer it verbally in
English, but mentally in French. My head will be filled
with “ouis” and “nons” and “mercis” and “je nais sais pas”.
It seems to work for me, although the checkout lady at the
grocery store last weekend gave me a funny look when I
answered “papier, s’il vous plait” when asked if I preferred
paper or plastic.
Oops. My bad.
So with any luck, by the time late August rolls around I’ll
be ready to roll through France with enough French at my
disposal to let us do whatever we need to do whenever we
want to do it. It’s worked before, and hopefully, it’ll
As always, wish me luck!!
You're gonna be hearing a lot about the place today.
“The place” is, of course, the Normandy beaches in France
where 70 years ago today what is still the largest amphibian
military invasion in human history took place. No matter
you look, you see a lot of stories about that big day; in
fact, look for one in today's Mining Journal about the one
man from Marquette County who died on those beaches, Major
William Richards. Loraine helped put it together. You'll
also be seeing a lot of pictures from the area, most of them
dealing with death and mayhem and almost all of them in
black & white.
And that's not necessarily fair to those beaches. I've come
to know and like them. I mean, sure, they were a really bad
place 70 years ago, but except for the people who live
there, no one ever seems to think about what they are
today—beaches, and rather nice beaches, at that. Instead of
bloody battles photographed in black & white, you'll now see
You'll see school kids practicing for the big game--
You'll see harness racers getting ready for the next big
And, like on every beach, you'll see birds. Lots & lots of
Sure, you'll still, 70 years later, see signs of that bloody
But most importantly, you'll see families just out enjoying
And I have the feeling that, if you were able to talk to the
over 3,000 Allied soldiers who died on the beaches 70 years
ago today, that's what they would want to see more than
anything. To know that their sacrifices have allowed
generations of French families—and American tourists—to
enjoy the beaches upon which they died AS beaches, and not
as some fortified stronghold of an invading power led by a
I know that every single person I've met in Normandy
certainly thanks them for what they did, and appreciates
their sacrifice every single day. Especially on those days
when they can take their kids to the beach, enjoy the sun,
play in the water, and (I'm sure) to remind them never to
forget WHY they're able to play on that sand.
On that note, have yourself a great weekend. I have but one
task for the next few days—to go out and sniff as many
lilacs as I can before passing out!!
I think Waste Management has gone mad with power.
We are now four weeks into Marquette's new recycling
system. It's pretty much like it was before, except for the
fact that you can't recycle every thing every week. The way
it's set up now, you recycle paper and fibers one week, and
plastic/metal/glass the next. It's a fairly easy system,
and this is the second week of plastic/metal/glass.
The first week of plastic/metal/glass I put all of my
recyclables into two paper bags, and then put those paper
bags into a plastic bin. The recyclables were taken away, I
was left with my plastic bin, and the environment breathed a
little easier. This week, as before, I put my recyclables
into two paper bags, and like I did two weeks ago, put those
two bags into a plastic bin. I noticed the paper bags were
overflowing just a little, so I took a couple of pieces of
plastic out of each and put them into the bin next to the
When I woke up yesterday, the bin was sitting on my curb,
the two paper bags full of recyclables still sitting there,
and each of the bags had this sticker on them--
However, the separate items I had taken out of the paper
bags, because the bags were too full, had been taken away
for recycling. So what Waste Management did was this—any
pieces of recyclables that were in paper bags, they left.
Any pieces of recyclables that were not in paper bags, they
There are two big things to consider here, and probably a
lot of little ones, but I won't even think about those.
The two big ones—they leave recyclables that are in paper
bags (just because it's not paper week) but they reach down
into the bins and take recyclables that are just lying
free? Wouldn't it have been just as easy to take all the
plastic and leave the paper? I mean, in a way I get it—it's
not paper week. It's plastic/metal/glass week. But to take
some and not all of it?
That just seems petty.
But the worst part of it, at least to me, is the
inconsistency. I put my recyclables out the exact same way
two weeks ago, and they took them away, no problem, no
questions, no stickers. So I because of that I had the
audacity to expect that's how it's always supposed to be
done. Apparently, Waste Management has other ideas.
Apparently the rules change from week to week. This week,
they didn't take my plastic because it was in paper bags.
What's gonna happen in two weeks—I put everything in a bin,
with no paper, but they still don't pick them up because all
of the jug openings aren't pointing north? If the rules
change from week to week, what's to say that won't happen?
It just wasn't me, either. Here's a picture I took of
recyclables they left lying around for my next door
Now, the paper bin I can understand. It wasn't paper week.
But look at the bin on the right. It's all
plastic/glass/metal, in a plastic bin, with no paper
anywhere, exactly as their rules say to do. Yet because
they stuck that bin next to a bin with paper, the bin with
the plastic, placed out just like they were supposed to, got
slapped with a sticker as well. My next door neighbors put
out the plastics just like they were supposed to, and yet
were turned away by the collectors just because it was next
to something that shouldn't have been there.
I understand that there need to be rules in a society; I
really do. And I understand that the people at Waste
Management have to collect a lot of refuse and don't have a
lot of time to do it. But this? Well, it just seems petty,
for lack of a better word. And it doesn't seem logical,
either. After all, doesn't it take more time to look
through recyclables and slap a sticker on it than it does to
just pick them up & recycle them?
I dunno. It just seems to me like there's something wrong
with this whole system. At the very least, some of us are
trying. Some, apparently, are not.
Today's a great day.
How could it not be? We're finally back up to 100% power
(after five long months, to the day) and when I woke up and
started to go running this morning, this is what greeted me
a block away from home--
Say what you want, but it doesn't take a lot to make me
happy some days. But after the 2014 we've been through (at
least so far) the little things really DO mean a lot!
Yesterday I shot the first of those “On The Towns” for Fox
UP, and I had written in here that I don't plan on watching
them when they air. Why, you ask? Well, I answer, it's
I think I look weird on TV
I also don’t like looking at pictures of myself in the
newspaper, another thing which I’ve had the opportunity to
do recently. I think I look like one of two things--a dork,
or a space alien. Or, I guess, I’d also accept looking like
a dorky space alien. That would work, too.
When watching myself on TV or seeing myself in the
newspaper, all I can think is something I've written in here
before, that something being “God, I have a lot of gray hair
on the side of my head”. And when I looked at myself on TV,
it occurs to me that I always have the strangest expressions
on my face when I’m talking, and also that I actually “talk”
with my hands, gesturing and pointing for emphasis.
I really have to stop doing that!
Now, I realize that you guys would look at the video, or
look at the picture, and probably see nothing wrong. We
are, after all, most critical of that which we know best,
which is why MOST people look at pictures of people other
than themselves and see a nice smile, then look at a picture
of themselves and start to gag.
See? I’m not the only one!
I think I have the answer to my problem, too. I just have
to stop being in the public eye so much. After all, if I
don’t do any TV, don’t do any newspaper, and don’t do any
radio, I’ll never have to look at myself again, right?
I’m sure there’s a flaw with that plan somewhere. I just
haven’t figured it out yet.
I have a feeling the problem is only gonna get worse, too.
Not only am I doing these “On The Town” segments every week
for the foreseeable future, but I've also alluded to another
project here over the past couple of months, a project that
I can't specifically mention yet, but I can say will have me
on TV every single week (because, you know, I'm not on TV
enough as it is).
Don't worry, though. I won't complain about looking like a
dork TOO much in here. After all, I don't wanna start
sounding like one, too!
Oh, so many little things today!
First of all, it's been five months to the day since our
little antenna problems started. Yesterday, for the first
time since January 3rd, we tried turning our big transmitter
on, and you know what happened?
Nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. It didn't work. From the
sounds of it, a switch that hasn't been used for those five
months either didn't work or couldn't work. And since the
switch isn't something that most people carry around in
their pockets (if only because it's like a foot wide), our
engineers have to get a new one. They should have it today,
which means that they can try it again, but I've learned
over the past half-year that I probably shouldn't get my
After all, I did that yesterday, and look how that turned
Oops. But keep your fingers crossed, because one day the
universe HAS to run out of problems to cause and things will
work again like they're supposed to, right?
Next, today's the day I shoot the first of those “On The
Towns” for Fox U.P. It'll air Thursday night on their
newscast, if you're interested in checking it out. I'm not
interested in watching it myself; details on why coming up
Finally, two pictures I thought I'd share. The first is
from Saturday, when an 88 degree day didn't stop people from
looking at the ice!
And for the following picture, I only have three words--
Oh. So. Close.!!
By the time I walk home tonight, I'm hoping I can stick my
nose into those and just inhale, inhale, inhale. So if you
see me lying on or near Front Street in Marquette around 7pm
tonight, just know that I inhaled a little too hard and
caused myself to pass out.
Oh, but what a glorious way to pass out, right?
Jim & Loraine's Trip To France 2012
to Belgium, France, and Germany,