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In Jim's Daily Opinion 02/12/2016

FRIDAY, 2/12:

I think I'm gonna do it.  I'm gonna try something that's unprecedented this year, something that's walking a very fine line between success & failure.  I don't know if it'll work, and I don't know if the end result will be worth it, but gosh darn it, I owe it to myself to try.

Yup; that's right.  I'm gonna take the day off of work Monday.

I figure I deserve it.  It seems that with everything that's been going on I haven't had a real day “off” since New Year's Day.  Between research for History Center programs and ski marathons to announce  and TV shows to shoot and computer hard drives dying that things have been kinda hectic and I've been a little busy.  A day off, incorporated into one solid three-day weekend, sounds nice.

However, I don't wanna sound like I'm whining, because I'm not.  I know that I get one or two of these “streaks” every year where I have a jammed-packed schedule and, before I know it, an entire month has slipped away.  I get that, and I accept that.  I just don't know if the ever-growing list of stuff to do on my kitchen table, the ever-growing stack of DVDs to be looked at, and the cross-country skis I haven't even taken out of our basement yet accept that.

Although, to be fair to the skis, there's only been enough snow to use them the past few weeks.  That's not entirely my fault!

Of course, I know I'm not going to get to all of that with just one free day.  Heck, it would probably take a free month to make a dent into the list.  And if we're being totally honest here, I may not actually get to ANY of it on Monday.  I may just loaf the whole day away.

But at least I'll be in charge of whether or not that happens.

So when you come back here on Monday and you notice that you're reading a blog that seems awfully familiar, it's not the fault of your computer, phone, or tablet.  Nope; it's because I'll be cleaning or DVD-ing or skiing or, more likely, just reveling in the fact that I can do whatever I want whenever I want, even if it's for just one day.

On that note, have yourself a great weekend and an even better Valentine's Day.  I'll be back with something totally new on Tuesday!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 2/11:

Do people even dig snow tunnels any more?

While I was out running yesterday I noticed that the city of Marquette hasn't been cutting down the snowbanks between the sidewalks and streets like they usually do.  I can't say I blame them; with the amount of snow we've had the past few days, and with everyone seemingly shoveling it all back into the street after the plows deposit it into their driveways, they've started to build up.  But the size of the banks stood out because, for the first time in a long time, they seem to be big enough to tunnel into.

Now, when I was a kid (back in the 1800s) it seems like we had more snow, and back then the city never cut down snowbanks.  So when enough snow had built up, we'd dig a tunnel into them, sometimes making a tunnel long enough to go from driveway to driveway.  We'd then scamper in and out, defend it from snowball attacks, and invariably lose at least one mitten in the tunnel, where it remained until its soggy carcass was found after the spring melt.

I know; it's amazing we weren't killed in a cave-ins or by an errant snow plow.  But that's what kids did back then—we did things we'd consider to be too dangerous or stupid for our own children (if we had any) to do.  But we did those things, and and we survived.

And that's what got me to wondering if people still dig snow tunnels.  I mean, not only are the opportunities limited by the lack of snow these days and by the city cutting down the snowbanks (and as someone who walks a lot during the winter, I'm glad they do, because it makes it easier for me to see cars and vice versa), but also by the fact that times have changed.  Kids don't do what kids used to do.

Don't get me wrong; that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, kids used to leave school at age 10 to go work in factories, and I'm glad things like that have changed.  But a little bit of me feels for kids who don't get to do the stupid things I did (and enjoyed) when I was young.  I mean, I turned out somewhat okay even having done those things.  Shouldn't kids today get the chance?

Just wondering...

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 2/10:

Joe Rhodes has saved what's left of my sanity.

Let me explain.  If you've been reading this recently, you may remember this picture--





It's a picture of my wall calendar at work, with the phrase “Join or die” written on Thursday, February 18th.  As you may recall, I had no idea why I had written this down or what I meant by writing the phrase “Join or die” on my wall calendar, the one document I use to make sure all aspects of my life are on track.  I wasn't sure if I had to sign up for something, if I had promised to do something, or even if the day would pass by unnoticed with me neither joining nor dying.

But thanks to Joe, I now know what I wrote down, and why I wrote it down.

Loraine had received an e-mail from Joe's (much) better half Karen over the weekend, an e-mail that had absolutely nothing to do with my wall calendar.  At the end of the e-mail, though, Karen asked Loraine to ask me if I remembered what “Join or Die” meant, because if I hadn't, Joe thought he might know.  Well, since I didn't remember, and was being driven crazy because I couldn't remember, Joe came to the rescue.

“Join or Die” has nothing to do at all with something I have to join, sign up for, or perish.  Nope; “Join or Die” was written on February 18th because that's the date Craig Ferguson's new History Channel TV show, called “Join or Die”, premieres.

I had written “Join or Die” down as a note to watch the show, and then promptly forgot why I wrote it down.  Oops.

I'm an idiot.  I think that pretty much goes without saying.  And some days I think the only reason I'm able to muddle through life is because of people like my dear wife, who reminds me to write things on my wall calendar, and because of people like Joe Rhodes, who then figures out what I wrote on my calendar and why I wrote it there.  I don't know how Joe knew—I'm assuming that, like me, he has impeccable taste in weird television shows—but I'm glad he did.

So many thanks, Joe.  I appreciate it, not only because I'll now remember to check the show out, but also because I'll no longer have the nagging feeling in the back of my head that if I don't do something by the 18th that I could not wake up on the 19th.

(jim@wmqt.com), idiot.

(ps—the show does sound quite interesting, at least to me (and, apparently, to Joe).  Check it out HERE!

TUESDAY, 2/9:

Needless to say, I was happy with how it turned out.

As I mentioned yesterday, I wasn't quite sure how this year's Super Bowl, which was probably the last game of one of my favorites players of all time, would turn out.  Thankfully, it turned out well.  The Broncos won, Peyton Manning left the field to a standing ovation, and now he can ride off into the sunset after winning a world championship, which is how everyone should do it but only a minuscule percentage of people have the chance to.

So good for him.

As a game, the Super Bowl was kinda ugly, but something you'd expect from two teams with monster defenses.  It wasn't the kind of game you'd expect someone named Peyton Manning to be in, or at least the “Peyton Manning” that I've enjoyed watching over the past 17 years.  However, injury and age have  caused him to change the way he plays; at least he was smart enough to recognize that and alter his playing style so that instead of carrying a team on his shoulders, he was just along for the ride.

And if you're “just along for the ride”, I guess winning a Super Bowl isn't a bad end result.

I had to laugh; so much was made of his being the oldest quarterback ever to play in a Super Bowl that you'd think he was Methuselah.  For crying out loud; he's 39 years old.  When I wrote about it last Friday and called him “an old man”, I was, of course, being facetious (although the other “old man” I wrote about, my dad, seemed quite tickled to be in his company).  I mean, c'mon.  I haven't been 39 myself for, uhm, a few years, and I don't think I'M an old man, so why should he?

Only in the world of professional sports, I guess.  Or in the world of acting.  Or in the world of singers.  Or in the world of mathematicians.  Or in the world of game developers.  Or in the world of...

Okay.  Maybe I should stop before I make myself depressed.

Anyway, I'm glad the game turned out the way it turned out, especially Tom Brady getting booed, and even if I can't get the image of that PuppyMonkeyBaby from the Mountain Dew commercial out of my brain.  If Sunday was the last time I got to see Peyton Manning play, it was a great way to wrap up the run.

*****

Tomorrow, the story of how daily blog reader Joe of Marquette is a god among men.  He really is.

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 2/8:

I still don't know who won the Super Bowl.

Don't worry; it's not like I didn't watch the game or anything.  After all, as I wrote Friday, it's probably the last time I'll ever get to see Peyton Manning play.  The reason I don't know who won the Super Bowl is that, as I write this, it hasn't quite started yet.

So as you read this, I DO know who won the Super Bowl.  I just don't know as I write this.

I'll discuss either my heartbreak or my joy tomorrow.  Today, though, I wanna talk about a topic near and dear to my heart, chocolate.  Loraine, Mallory, Sydney, and I went to SAIL's annual Chocolate Festival Sunday, and had our usual good time.  You'd be amazed at what talented chocolatiers we have around here, and what they're able to do with one of the world's greatest foods.  And it's always fun going with my nieces, especially Mallory; it seems we may have turned her into a bit of chocolate snob over the years we've been going to the event.  Or maybe “snob” isn't the right word.  Maybe “connoisseur” is a whole lot better, and a much more accurate way to describe how she now favors dark chocolate and can tell the way various flavors blend together.

I guess if you're gonna have an impact on a young person, that's not a bad impact to have.

Specifically, though, I wanna talk about a chocolate bar from Germany that I just finished eating.  To be exact, it's this bar--





It's one of Ritter Sports' seasonal bars from last summer, a white chocolate/buttermilk/lemon bar.  Normally, I'm not a big fan of white chocolate.  Technically, it's not even chocolate; it's just cocoa butter, sugar, and a few other things.  But I do like lemon and I do like buttermilk, so when I saw one during our trip last year I bought it.  And now I wish I'd purchased more; the tartness of both the lemon and the buttermilk really plays off the inherent sweetness of the white chocolate in a way that makes you go “wow” upon the first bite.

You usually don't get that with white chocolate.

Unfortunately, because it was a special seasonal bar, I don't think I'm gonna be able to get any more.  Ritter only makes them for one season, and when they're gone, they're gone, unless they're so insanely popular that they get to join the regular lineup.  I'm not holding out hope.  It'd be nice, but I'm not holding out hope.  It was, however, great while it lasted.

And remember—that's coming from someone who's not a big fan of white chocolate. 

With that, I must go, as the Super Bowl (or “The Big Game”, which technically you're supposed to use if you're not a licensed partner of the NFL, which I'm not) is coming up.  Like I said before, either joy or heartbreak await.

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 2/5:

I have to go play TV Jim in a few minutes, but before I go, I want to mention one young lady and two old men.

The young lady is my (now) favorite 17-year old in the whole wide world, my niece Sydney!  It['s her big day today, and, of course, I couldn't let that pass without some sort of grand remark.  Well, okay, it's not really THAT grand of a remark, but it is noted.

The two old men?  Well, I hope Peyton Manning kicks a little Carolina butt Sunday.  It'll probably be the final time I ever get to watch him play football, and that in itself is a shame.  I just hope he goes out a winner. 

The other old guy?  Well, he has a big day Sunday, too, as one of the two people without whom wouldn't be here has a birthday, as well.  That's right; Chicky-Poo moves one year closer to being the oldest guy on the block.  Of course, he's moving one year closer to being the oldest guy on the block in Florida, where it's warm, so if you hafta turn older, I guess that's not the worse place to do it.

So I hope both Syd and Chicky-poo have great days (oh, and Peyton, too!)

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY 2/4:

Nothing good ever comes from a Friday night phone call.

Whenever my phone rings on a Friday night and I see it's someone from work, I tense up a little on the inside.  It means that something has gone wrong.  It means that the sporting event we're carrying on our ESPN station isn't going well, or it means that our antenna has blown up and we'll be at 1 percent power for the next five months.  So when my phone rang at 8:58 pm last Friday, I knew it probably wasn't good news.

And it wasn't.

The hard drive on the computer that puts everything on the air died, which means that we had nothing on the air.  Thankfully, we have a bit of a backup system in another one of our studios, which means that after an hour or so of frantic work I was able to get music back on the air, and after most of a weekend of work (aside, of course, from when Loraine told me to take a break and shoot pictures) you can't tell by listening we have a dead hard drive.

At least I hope you can't tell.

Because it's part of an old computer system, we have to get a special piece of equipment to make the computer work again, which means that until it arrives, we're playing music and the like out of a production studio.  Since we're trying to keep the radio experience as normal as possible, we're also taking phone calls and doing everything we normally do.  But because our production studio isn't set up to do that, we have to do something like this when doing a contest--

1. Announce we're doing the contest in the production studio.

2. Run down the hall to the air studio, take the phone call, and record it.

3. Run back to the production studio, call up the phone call sound file from our network, and play it

Fun, huh?  And when I speak with Laura about the weather, I have to do the exact same thing, except for the fact that I have a 30 second window in which I have to start a commercial, run down the hall, call her, and start talking.  Then while she's wrapping up the forecast at the end, I have to run back down the hall to the other studio and start the next element when she's finished.

Good thing I'm in shape, huh?

Thankfully, this is just a temporary thing.  Once the new drive is installed and once we get every song, commercial promo, jingle, and production element transferred into it (thank goodness I back things up), we'll be back to what passes for normal.  But for the next day or two, if you hear something weird, it's not the fault of your radio.

It's because of a Friday night phone call.

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 2/3:

Now that the snow is falling on the first real storm of the winter (and it's probably is saying something about our mild winter that 8 inches of snow is shutting things down and throwing people into a panic), I'd like to look back to a time when the sun was out and people were wandering around in shorts.

You know, this past Saturday.

Those of you who are Facebook friends of mine may know what I'm about to do.  Last Saturday, when it was 48 degrees here in Marquette and there wasn't a flake in the sky (unless you consider sunshine as a flake) I took my camera out to see what I could see, and this is what I saw--















And then there were these guys, snowboarding near Founder's Landing--





In the police log of yesterday's Mining Journal, there was an entry about this.  A little while after I shot this picture, one of the snowboarders didn't make the railing and fell over into the street, denting the roof on the car on which he landed.

Oops.  He can always blame the glare of the sun, right

8-)

So if you're bummed by what you see out your window this morning, never fear.  It wasn't like that just a few days ago.  And with the way this winter is going, I have the feeling it won't be too long until it's not like that again.

Keep your fingers crossed.

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 2/2:

After yesterday's telling of the rest of the Chicago piano story from the Marquette Regional History Center program Jack & I did two weeks ago, I just realized I had another story to tell that didn't get told during the show.

Wanna hear about a hooker?  Of course you do!

This was part of the story about prostitutes who ventured to Seney to play their trade in the 1880s.  Seney actually had a national reputation as a center of sin.  It wasn't entirely warranted; in fact, most of it was trumped up by a highly sensationalized story in the 19th century magazine “The Police Gazette”.  But there was vice in Seney last century.  In the 1880s, the town consisted of 2,000 residents, 22 bars, and two really big brothels on the edge of town, where loggers and railroad workers often fought over women, alcohol, and money that they lost gambling.

Yup.  Seney was one of THOSE places.

Most of the prostitutes who worked in Seney actually came from elsewhere.  Jack, in fact, told a story about how enterprising ladies of the night would come from Marquette on the train once or twice a week to become enterprising ladies of the afternoon in Seney.  There was money to be made, and unlike in Marquette, where the police had this almost unhealthy obsession with the “ranches” that lined Lake Street, the law in Seney didn't care.  Of course, it probably helped that there wasn't really much (if any) law in Seney, but what there was didn't really care.

Anyway, here's the (short) story I didn't get to tell.  There wasn't really a bank per se in Seney; instead several large merchants would instead hold money for people and even pay them a little interest on it.  One day, a young woman who had just moved into town a month prior came into the store with almost $1,500, which would be worth almost $40,000 these days.  When asked where she got it, she was quite honest about it.  It came, she said, “from pants that weren't being worn at the time”.  As it turns out, she had just gotten engaged, and she and her fiancee had set out in different directions, trying to come up with money with which to get their lives started.

I'm guessing that, after a single month, she did quite a bit better than her fiancee.

That's the hooker story I didn't get to tell at Kaufman a few weeks ago.  It probably wouldn't have gotten as big of a laugh as some of the newspaper articles I read verbatim from back in the day, but I also didn't want to let it go to waste.  After all, when's the next time I'll get to talk about prostitutes? 

Well, I'll actually more hooker stories in July when I do my outdoor “Night Life” program for the History Center.  But, I mean, before then?

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 2/1:

I now know the rest of the story.

One of the tales I told at the show Jack Deo and I put on for the Marquette Regional History Center a week or so ago was the tale of how Chicago (you know, the band of “Colour My World” and “If You Leave Me Now”) was the only musical act ever to be banned from appearing at NMU.  This was because their keyboard player, Robert Lamm, chopped up a Baldwin grand piano owned by the school during an October, 1972 concert at the school. 

Seriously.  It actually happened.  Chicago chopped up a piano at NMU.  I have the newspaper picture and everything to prove it--





It happened during the group's last song, when Lamm started plucking the piano strings with an ax (and no, I don't know where he got the ax or why he was plucking the strings with an ax) and then began to chop up said piano with said ax.  He contended that it was because the piano was lousy; the head of NMU's Music Department at the time, Dr. Hal Wright, was indignant because it was his personal office piano and had just been tuned.  Anyway, a kerfuffle then ensued over who was going to pay for the piano. 

And that's kind of where the paper trail on the incident ended.  The last piece of information I was able to find mentioned that the school was withholding the second half of the group's payment--$8,250.  After that, I couldn't find anything on how it had been resolved.  The NMU Music Department has no records, the NMU Archives couldn't find anything, and even a Facebook inquiry found that while a lot of people seemed to have been at the show, no one knew who ended up paying for the piano.

Thank goodness for Norm Hefke.

Many of you know Norm, who's now a great wood worker.  Back in 1972, though, he was heading NMU's Student Services division, which means that he was charged with dealing with the whole piano incident.  As it turns out, the school did withhold the group's second check.  After an appraisal of the piano, it turns out to have been worth only $1,500.  That amount was deducted from the group's payment, and Dr. Wright was given the money for a replacement piano.  He apparently thought the original piano was worth more than the $1,500, as he wanted the school to get him a new Yamaha Grand Piano, which cost considerably more than the money withheld from the group.  He ended up with the Yamaha—Norm's not quite sure how—and the band received most of their paycheck, making both sides as happy as they could be in the incident.

Norm, left with a piano missing its keyboard, strings, and sounding board, found a guy who said he could repair it.  It took almost two years, but in 1974 Norm was given a refurbished Baldwin grand piano, which was then placed inside the hallway of the University Center and played by NMU students for the next thirty years, students who probably didn't realize they were playing a piano that was a part of NMU history.  A rather infamous part of NMU history, but a part of NMU history nonetheless.

And now YOU know the rest of the story!

(jim@wmqt.com), who thanks Norm for sharing his tale.

FRIDAY, 1/29:

I have to go play TV Jim in a couple of minutes, but before I go I wanted to make note of a fact--

January's over.  January's over, we didn't freeze to death, and despite all the light fluffy snow we've been receiving this week, we're not buried in feet of the white stuff.

We survived January.  It's all downhill from here!

On that note, have yourself a great weekend.  And to remind you of what's soon to be on the way...





You're welcome.

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 1/28:

I can not believe it's been thirty years.

For those of us who were born in the 1960s and 1970s the first time we had a “generational” moment, a moment where we know exactly where we were when it occurred, occurred 30 years ago today.  Much like people older than us know exactly where they were when John Kennedy was shot, we as a generation know exactly where we were when we heard that Challenger blew up 74 seconds after liftoff from an icy Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The event that occurred thirty years ago today.

In one way, it's been amazing that it happened thirty years ago, because it sure doesn't seem that long, at least to me.  I don't if that's because I'm just getting old(er) and time flies by a lot quicker than it used to, or if it's because NASA was still flying shuttles until five years ago and that kept the accident at the forefronts of our brains, but if doesn't seem as if it happened three decades ago.  It's really doesn't.

But then when you look at footage about the accident (something I really don't like to do, always covering my eyes at the words “Challenger, you are go for throttle-up”), you see grainy, standard-def video, you see spokespeople with big 80s hair, and you see computers that, while advanced for their time, probably have less processing power than the phones you hold in your hand.  The evidence is there.  It really DID happen 30 years ago today.

Since Challenger, of course, there have been two other “generational” moments that have occurred.  And I think it's surprising that the loss of another space shuttle, Columbia in 2003, wasn't among them.  I don't know if that's because we already had a spaceflight “trauma”, or because by that point people just didn't care, but for most people Columbia didn't mean a thing.  Or at least it didn't mean as much as the other two “generational” events that occurred after Challenger.

What were those two events?  Well, September 11th is one of them.  Everybody know where they were when the planes hit the towers.  The other generational event might surprise you, but it's true.  Everybody knows where they were the night O.J. Simpson took a ride in that white Ford Bronco.  It's wasn't as earth-shattering of an event as Kennedy or Challenger or 9/11, but everybody seems to know where they were that Friday night.  And some might even argue that since O.J hired an attorney named Robert Kardashian and gave he and his family their first access to fame, it's the most influential of the generational events.

And that's a scary thought.

But for many of us, the first “generational” event of our lifetime was Challenger, which occurred thirty years ago today, whether you want to believe it or not.

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 1/27:

I wish I really knew what I meant when I wrote down what I wrote down.

Let me explain, before your brain explodes the way mine seems to be doing.  As some of you may know, I have a huge calendar on the wall of my office, a calendar on which I write everything that's going on in all aspects of my life, lest I forget that TV Jim needs to be somewhere or Radio Jim has someone coming in to cut a commercial. Well, sometime since the beginning of the year, I wrote this down on February 18th--





The only thing is I have no idea what it means.

I'm assuming it says “join or die”.  Now, leaving aside the fact that my writing, at least with a red Sharpie, is so bad that even I can't tell for sure what I wrote, why would I write “join or die” down on a calendar?  And more specifically, why would I write “join or die” down on February 18th?  As far as I can remember, that day has no significance for Radio Jim or TV Jim or History Jim or even Normal Jim, so why did I write it there?  Is February 18th the date by which I have to “join or die”, or do I have to “join or die” on that date specifically?

Would I really die if I waited until February 19th to join whatever it is I'm supposed to join?  Or will the world keep revolving and I keep breathing should I pass whatever deadline it was I felt was important enough to write down, even if I now can't recall for the life of me why it was so important to write down.

And in red Sharpie, to boot.

I'm hoping that, as the date draws near, I'll remember why I wrote “join or die” on my calendar for February 18th.  If not, one of three things will happen.  On February 19th I'll get a call from someone asking me why I either didn't join something or didn't show up for something, and I'll be embarrassed (and apologizing a lot).  The second thing that might happen?  Nothing.  Literally nothing.  The deadline will have passed and life will go on as normal, meaning that whatever I wrote on February 18th was written for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  The third thing?  Well, that would be that I don't join whatever it is that I'm supposed to join and I do, indeed, die.

So if there's no new blog posted here on February 19th, you now know why.

If I remember exactly why I wrote “join or die” on my wall calendar February 18th (an event I consider highly unlikely), I'll pass it along.  Otherwise, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens February 19th.  Wish me luck.

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 1/26:

I guess I'm gonna have to start trying to remember all the French I've forgotten.

Amidst the insanity of the past week Loraine and I managed do one thing not related to History Center programs, TV shows, and ski races was to finalize and book our travel plans for this September.  It took us a little longer than usual, and we had to overcome a hotel hiccup, but for the first time in four years we're going back to Normandy.

Yay!

We were planning on flying into Paris, spending a night in Chartres (the one really cool place we discovered the last time we were in the country) and then heading to our usual home base of Bayeux for the rest of the stay.  However, the hotel we usually stay at in Bayeux was booked for two nights right smack dab in the middle of our trip, so for those two night we're heading to Ste. Mere Eglise and using that as a base to play around the western part of the area, including one of my favorite places in all of France, Avranches.

Not only that, but many of the friends we hope to visit live near Ste. Mere Eglise, so I have a feeling those three days and two nights will be among the busiest of the whole trip.

Otherwise, most of this trip will be of a “vacation” nature.  We'll just be visiting places we want to visit and hanging out where we wanna hang out.  And, hopefully, we won't run into any detours, road construction, or major city centers with no traffic signs, like we did on the road the last time (2014) I was behind the wheel.  But you know what?  Even if we do, I actually know my way around Normandy quite well and can handle pretty much any detour thrown my way.

Now all we need is for our luggage to show up with us for the first time in three years, and we'll be set.

We are leaving August 31st, so make sure that your virtual passport is up to date, because as always, we're more than welcome to come along digitally.  You can see where we go, learn about what we're doing, and see just how much chocolate two people can amass in an 11-day period.

Because, as you all know, we have the ability to amass a LOT.

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 1/25:

Well, it looks like I made it out alive.

The 48 hour span I was mentioning the last time we chatted, the one where each and every single “Jim” was present and doing something, is over, and I'm still kicking.  I'm not speaking much, because I'm trying to save what's left of my voice, but I'm still kicking.  And at least I can still talk.  I didn't think I'd even make it that far.

Let's see.  How did things go?  Going in chronological order, the “Incredible But True” show I did with Jack at Kaufman was amazing.  Over 400 people showed up, and from what I heard they all had a great time.  All those stories about prostitutes I researched had people rolling on the floor; in fact, Loraine said people sitting near her were laughing so hard that they had tears running out of their eyes.

So I guess I accomplished my task there.  And I also learned further details on one of the stories I told.  More on that in a second.

Friday, the High School Bowl taping was a bit surreal, as the final score in the one game we shot was 500 to 20.  That's not a typo; that's the final score.  In the year and a half I've done the show there's never been such a one-sided game, so that was interesting.  Later that day I played radio dude and grocery shopping dude before trying to get a little sleep, because I spent the entire day Saturday (after squeezing in a 6-mile run) at the Noquemanon announcing around 1,500 names of people crossing the finish line in eight or nine different races.  I was also dumbstruck by a fact, as well. 

I've been the finish line announcer at every single Noquemanon, and this year was (gulp) the 18th edition of the race.  How the heck did THAT happen?

8-)

Okay; I mentioned I learned a little more about one of the stories I told Thursday night, and here it is.  There was a guy in the late 1950s who killed his stepson in Marquette and dumped the body at the intersection of Grove Street and County Road 492.  His name was Leo Mercure, he admitted to the killing, and received a sentence of 25 to 50 years in prison.  I was never able to find out what happened to him after that, assuming that he had just died in prison, and that's what I mentioned at the end of the tale.

Turns out there was more to the story.  Turns out he was released from prison in 1970, after serving half of his sentence, and came back to Marquette, where he lived a very quiet life.  He could apparently be found at a bar stool at Remie's each and every weekend, and several people recall walking down the street and having their parents point to him and saying “that's the man who killed his son”.

That's one of the things I love about doing programs for the History Center.  If I'm not quite sure about each and every fact in a story I tell (which is often the case), someone will come up afterwards and fill in the blanks, making the story complete for everyone.  So thanks to the people who shared their knowledge with me after the show Thursday!

Now, it's back to the grindstone and an upcoming weekend when, I'm gratified to say, I have nothing to do, nothing to research, and nothing to deal with.

I'll just have to remember how to do that.

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 1/21:

The next 48 hours should be interesting.

Here's what I mean.  Starting at 6 tonight, I have a 48 hour span where each and every single “Jim” gets to do something, and hopefully do it well.  It starts tonight when History Jim has his big “Interesting But True” show with Jack Deo at Kaufman for The History Center.  After a little sleep, TV Jim has to get up and shoot “High School Bowl” Friday morning.  Radio Jim then spends the day Friday doing whatever the heck it is Radio Jim does.  Tomorrow night, Normal Jim (and quit giggling; even though it sounds like an oxymoron is THIS a Normal Jim) has to take care of whatever it is Normal Jim does (namely running & grocery shopping), because all day Saturday Finish Line Jim gets to spend the announcing the names of all 1,700 (or so) skiers coming across the finish line at the Noquemanon.


Then all the Jims combine into one and pass out.

Actually, I have no doubt I'll be able to physically do it all.  I'm a little worried about my voice holding out, but as long as I don't talk when I don't need to talk, and I drink a lot of tea, I should be okay.  Nope; the thing I'm kinda curious about is the decompression aspect of it all.  Or, more to the point, the lack-of-decompression aspect of it all.

Let me explain—normally, when you do something “big”, like put on a history show in front of 600 people, or host a TV show, or announce 1,700 names, you like to “decompress” afterwards.  You like to put your feet up, and reflect upon what just happened (or, at least, that's what I like to do).  But with so many events in the next 48 hours coming bam-bam-bam, one right after the other, I won't have the chance to do that.  I'll either be rushing from event to event, preparing for the next event to come up, or (try to) eat & sleep.  From the time I hit the stage at Kaufman to the time I announce the last person coming across the Noque finish line, I'll have done a whole bunch of amazing stuff.

I just have to hope I remember what it all was.

Now, I'm not complaining.  After all, I know just how fortunate I am to be able to do all this.  And I'm gonna have a blast doing it all.  This may be picky on my part, but I just wish I'd have a few minutes to appreciate it all while it's happening, instead of looking back on it a few days later and hoping I got everything out of the 48 hours that I hoped to.

Oh well; that's life.  And it all starts later tonight at Kaufman.  Hope to see you at one or more of the events.  I highly doubt there will be one of these tomorrow; if there is, it may just be a few words or a picture from “Incredible But True”.  Otherwise, a full report on Monday assuming, of course, I'm still alive.

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 1/20:

I've been up to my eyeballs in prostitutes recently.

Now, if I was a different kind of person, I'd end the blog right there.  I'd write that opening line, and I'd just walk away, leaving everyone to wonder just what the heck I've been doing in my spare time.  But thankfully, at least for you, I'm not.  So here's the reason I've been up to my eyeballs in prostitutes recently--

History Jim made me do it.

As you may know, the big “Impossible But True: Short Stories of the U.P.” program I'm doing with Jack Deo is coming up tomorrow night at Kaufman Auditorium (tickets available at the door, hint hint), and one of the things Jack said when we first sat down to plan the show was, and I quote, “You gotta talk about hookers!”  And since no Jim Koski ™ program isn't complete without either hookers, killers, or bootleggers, well...who was I to say no?

(As a bonus, I will be talking about killers, too.  I just haven't spent days digging through research on them).

The way it's turning out, the segment on prostitution will be (hopefully) one of the funniest of the show, if only because all I have to do is read what local newspapers printed about the “problem” back in the 1880s.  It would be putting it lightly to say they went over the top in writing the subject, treating it as if it were to be the end of the world if a little hanky-panky was going on.  So to hopefully get big laughs, I don't even have to come up with a punch line.  I just have to read what a newspaper wrote.

I just wish ALL history programs were that easy!

Of course, I had to dig through all kinds of newspaper articles from the 1880s to the 1920s to find the best, and that's why I've been up to my “eyeballs” in prostitutes the past few weeks.  So sure, I've spend time on ghost stories, daring thieves, wild rock stars, and a few people who did some actual good for the community, but a big chunk of that time goes to the ladies of the night and, perhaps more importantly, the loggers, sailors, and (gasp) community leaders who kept them in business.  Let's just hope that all the work pays off in some big laughs.

I think it will.

Like I said, the program is tomorrow night at 7 at Kaufman, and unlike most of my programs is actually a fundraiser for the Marquette Regional History Center so you will need a ticket to get in, but I can make this (almost) 100% guarantee—you will laugh at least once.  Because with the material I've gathered, if you don't, then I've really lost my touch!

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 1/19:

I wasn't serious.  Really, I wasn't.

You may recall last week a joke I made about singers dying, about how we've been featuring them on “Upper Michigan's Favorite Friday”, about how we have a slot open between David Bowie this week and Coldplay (the Super Bowl act) in two weeks, and that if anyone else wanted to shuffle off this mortal coil between now and then, that we'd put their songs up to a vote.

And then Glen Frey goes and passes away.  I hope it wasn't something I said.

When the news popped up on my computer screen yesterday, I was shocked.  I let out an audible “what?”  I went on the air, announced the news, and then received a request for “Desperado” from a faithful listener who was just as stunned as I.

It was a surreal few minutes.

It's also surreal just that he passed away.  Growing up with The Eagles' (and his solo) music, I just figured that he'd always be around.  He was healthy, he still had his voice, and there was no indication that something like this would happen.  I'm glad I got the chance to see The Eagles live 20 years ago when I did (an amazing concert, of course) because now, that'll never happen.

Wow.

Growing up with the TV series “MASH” I developed quite the dark sense of humor, one that allows me to make jokes about things such as an open “Upper Michigan's Favorite Friday” slow waiting for someone to die.  Of course, when you make jokes like that, you never actually think what might happen if or when someone actually DOES die.  After yesterday, though, I now know.  I don't know if that'll make me stop making those kind of jokes, but I now have a healthy appreciation of what happens when the joke comes true.

It's surreal.  That's all I have to say.

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 1/18:

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Those of you who have been reading this for a long time know of my deep admiration for the man in whose honor we have a holiday today.  And while most people know the Classics Illustrated version of his story--the March on Washington, the “I Have a Dream” speech, and his assassination--I have the feeling that not enough people know about how he led one of the most profound changes in this country’s history, and how the words he spoke throughout that long & contentious change still resonate today. 

And that’s a bad thing.

Now, I’m not gonna go off on a rant on how everyone should go out and spend the day studying about his life; after all, you all have your own life to worry about.  But every year I like to share a quote of his that may not be quite as famous as “I Have a Dream”.  And when looking through some material about him over the weekend, I found one that made me laugh, and not necessarily in a good way.

Here it is--

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

It comes, if I’m not mistaken, from his book “Strength to Love”.  If you didn’t know that was written 53 years ago, you’d think he was talking about politics and of the partisan divide of American electorate today.  Or that he was talking about one of the endless ways many Americans just seem to want to float through life without challenging themselves.

Now, I know I’m out of the ordinary.  God, do I know I’m out of the ordinary.  But it seems to me that going through life trying to take the path of least resistance--the “easy” way out--is nothing more than cheating yourself and cheating the people around you.  After all, we all have a finite amount of time on this planet.  Shouldn’t we make sure that the time we do have is put to good use?  Shouldn’t we continue to learn and give ourselves new experiences?

Sadly, most people don’t put their limited time on this planet to good use.  Did you know that 35% of Americans, once they graduate from high school, never read a book again?  I mean, really?  How can you hope to learn--how can you hope to challenge yourself, to better yourself--if you don’t read?  Another great American philosopher (I’ll tell you who in a second) once said “TV has all the answers”.  And sadly, I think too many people believe that.  Too many people sit and watch and blindly follow the marching orders of their favorite partisan news channel or their favorite reality TV star and never stop to think or to question for themselves.  There’s more to life than what you watch or what you’re told by TV, although I don’t think the philosopher who said that “TV has all the answers” would agree.

Especially because that philosopher is Homer Simpson.

So in honor of Dr. King, think for yourself today.  Challenge yourself today.  Prove that our universal quest doesn’t lie in easy answers, but that it lies in people willing to search for the hard truths.

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 1/15:

One of the many inconvenient things about this latest snap of cold weather?  I have to go out and walk the dog again every morning.

Now, I know right now you're saying to yourself, “Jim, you don't have a dog.  And from what you write about all the time, it sounds like you don't even like dogs”.  And you'd be right on both counts.  I'm not actually going out and “walking a dog”.  It's just that I have to do a chore that's similar to going out and walking a dog on a daily basis.

I have to go take our car out for a ride.

I think I may have mentioned this before; one of the (very few) bad things about both Loraine and me walking to work is that our car sits in our driveway all day long and doesn't get used.  Normally, that's not too much of a problem; however, when it's 100,000 below zero (for a high temperature) on a daily basis, we feel the need to get into it, start it up, and take it for a cruise to make sure that the battery doesn't die (like it did this past Wednesday and, as an aside, a big thanks to my sister for finding her jumper cables!) and that the tires aren't permanently frozen to the ground.  And since Loraine goes to work much earlier each morning than do I, I'm the one who gets to “walk the dog”.

See what I'm talking about now?  How many times do you see or hear dog owners complaining about having to drag themselves out of bed each and every morning to let the dog out?  Well, that's kind of what it's like with a car on an arctic morning.  I mean, sure, we don't have to worry about our car leaving a big mess in the middle of our living room.  But we still have to make sure it's out and “exercising” every day, lest it become a bright green Mazda-sicle right before our very eyes.

See?  You never have to worry about anything like this when it's warm and summer-y out, do you?

Hopefully, we won't have to deal with it much this year.  Hopefully, the mild temperatures of December and early January are the norm, and hopefully, the car stays healthy and the battery doesn't die again.  And while we're obviously in a fantasy world while writing this, hopefully, I'll soon have my own spaceship. 

Well, a boy can dream, right?  On that note, have yourself a great weekend.  And make sure you bundle up for whatever Mother Nature's still bound to throw our way!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 1/14:

Well, whaddya know.  American Airlines finally came through.

Flash back to when we went to Germany with our parents last September, and luggage belonging to Loraine and me didn't make it to Frankfurt.  We were told to go out and buy whatever we needed for several days, just in case the luggage didn't catch up with us, and the airline on which we flew—at the time U.S. Airways, merging with American—would reimburse us.  Right after we returned, on September 18th, in fact, I sent in all the paperwork, and then for almost four months heard absolutely nothing, leading me to believe that we would just be blown off.

I'm happy to say that I was wrong.

Yesterday, almost four months after I sent everything in, a check for $119.35 showed up in the mail.  Despite never acknowledging they received the paperwork, nor ever acknowledging our paperwork even existed, we got back every single cent for which we asked.  So thank you, American Airlines.  You've almost restored my faith in the airline industry.

Almost.

Loraine had also sent a letter to the company's president, detailing all the problems we had with that one particular leg of our flight (the only leg flown on the now non-existent US Airways).  She actually received a reply within a month, and while she wasn't happy the company didn't directly address her complaints about the leg of the flight, they did give us each an additional 10,000 frequent flier miles, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of her time.  Besides, who knows—maybe it prompted someone to look through the trash bins at what used to be US Airways, find all the stuff I sent in, and process it.

No matter how it happened, I'm just glad it happened.

We now get to turn to our next experience with American, which is getting to Paris this September.  We're (hopefully) going back to Bayeux for the first time in four years, and American will be taking us.  It'll also (hopefully) be the first time in three years that our luggage makes it there with us, but it should.  We just flying straight from Marquette to Chicago to Paris, with no other stops, flight changes, or airline changes along the way.  I'm confident American will do well in this endeavor, and get us (and our luggage) there with no problems whatsoever.

However, if you happen to have a piece of wood nearby and feel like knocking on it right now, I'm sure that wouldn't hurt.

So all's well that ends well, at least in this instance.  It may have taken a while, but as a great American once said, “the moral arc of the universe is long, in the end, it bends toward justice”.  I mean, I know Dr. King wasn't talking about airline reimbursement; some days, we'll just take what we can get.

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 1/13:

Well, I guess I'm below average.

I was doing some laundry last night; specifically, I was washing jeans.  And that got me to thinking, which as we all know can be a very dangerous thing.  How many pair of jeans does the average American own?  So after I stuck the jeans in the machine, I pulled out my phone, went to Google, and received my answer.

Seven, if you're curious.

As I mentioned, I'm below average in that respect, as I had just thrown each pair of jeans I own—all four of them—into the washing machine.  But as I scrolled down a little further, I took solace in another fact that had followed the mention of seven.  You see, even though the average American owns seven pair of jeans, they only wear four of those pair.

And since I wear each of the four pair that I own, for once, at least in that regard, I'm perfectly average!

That was one thing I learned by Googling the number of jeans that the average American owns.  The other thing I learned?  That tracking cookies are everywhere.

After checking out that fact on Google, while I was waiting to put the jeans in the dryer, I checked out a few more websites on my phone.  And, wouldn't you know, each and every site I visited had an ad on it just for me—an ad about buying jeans.  I mean, I wasn't surprised; after all, cookies are on every single computer device we use, and advertisers use those cookies to determine what we're interested in.  But to see the ads for jeans just a few minutes after I did a Google search that had (literally) nothing to do with buying jeans.

Well...let's just say I had to chuckle.  And had be glad that I hadn't just searched for something a little more, shall we say, adult.  Because then I can just imagine what would've popped up as ads on my phone.  I probably would've had to buy a new one.

8-)

So the next time you get set to throw jeans into the wash, check and see if you're above or below average.  And be thankful that you won't have to look it up yourself, and then be bombarded by ads for jeans each and every time you go online.

That's okay.  You can thank me later.

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 1/12:

So--do they REALLY die in threes?

I’m talking about celebrities, of course.  The deaths in the past week of Natalie Cole and David Bowie makes me wonder, and I hope this doesn't sound too gruesome, who's next.  The joke is, of course, that celebrities always die in threes, and if two celebrity singers have died in the past week or so, doesn't there need to be a third?

That's how it works, right?

At least, that's how I've always assumed it worked, at least for most of my life.  You see, when I was a kid, Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, and someone who I don’t remember now all died within a week of each other in 1974.  And while at the time I didn’t know who any of those people were (as opposed to now, when I know they're two of the greatest comedians of all time), I did know they were celebrities.

And that was the first time I was told of the curse of three.

I actually remember who it was who told me, too, although I won’t embarrass her by referring to her as anything other than “one of my parent’s friends”.  Anyway, Judy--excuse me, “one of my parent’s friends”-- mentioned that celebrities always die in threes.  At the time I thought it strange, and even now, I’m skeptical of its actual truth.  But there are so many people who, in the 40 years since, have told me the same thing, and there have been so many instances in those 40 years where celebrities did indeed die in threes, that you have to wonder.  I mean, I know the law of averages would work out so that celebrities would indeed die in clusters of three, at least on occasion. . .but as often as it seems to happen?

Sometimes, you just gotta wonder.

I do know that every time a celebrity or two dies, Loraine and I always jokingly wonder who’s next.  I just thought it was a sick sense of humor that we both shared; now, sometimes, you hafta wonder if there’s something more to it.  Maybe we don’t have a shared sick sense of humor.

Maybe we have psychic powers.

8-)

I would hope that’s not the case.  I would hope that, once again, it’s just the law of averages working in our favor.  After all, if I could have a super power, it sure wouldn’t be ensuring celebrities die in threes.  Nope; I’d much rather fly, or have the ability to be in two places at once, or even the ability to eat all the chocolate in the world and not have to worry one iota about health concerns.  Now THAT would be a superpower to have.

Where was I?  Oh, yeah; celebrities dying in threes.  Let’s hope the streak ends, and no other singer dies any time soon.  Because if another famous person (or two, or three) dies in the next few days, you can bet people the world over--and not just in our apartment--will be wondering who’s next.

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 1/11:

It’s not as much as you think it is.  Trust me on that one.

I guess I wrote about chocolate in here on occasion, right?  I mean, sure, when I say “occasion” I actually mean “writing about it so much that it borderlines on pathological obsession”, but I write about chocolate in here, and I mention it quite often on the air, as well.  So when someone asked me yesterday just how much chocolate I eat in a week and I gave them my answer, they actually refused to believe me.

Trust me, though--I wasn’t lying!

I know some people seem to think that I eat nothing but chocolate, including the person who asked me the question, but it’s not true.  If you look at my chocolate consumption on a weekly basis, you’d probably be stunned.  This doesn’t happen every week--some weeks I eat more, many more weeks I eat less--but on average, I’ll enjoy a three ounce (100 gram) bar from Europe on the weekend, and then parcel out another 3-ounce bar of dark chocolate the rest of the week, eating one (or two) pieces a day at work.  So on average, I eat two chocolate bars a week.

Not the two or three bars a day the person who asked the question assumed!

Actually, I don’t know if anyone could eat that much chocolate in a day; not only would your health probably suffer quite a bit, but if you ate that much chocolate it seems like you’d get sick of it fairly quickly.  At least I know I’D get sick of it fairly quickly if I ate that much on a daily basis.  Nope; I’m quite happy with the amount that I eat each week.  And I’m even happier with the quality of that amount!

Take this week, for example.  On Saturday and Sunday I consumed a German dark chocolate bar that was a Christmas gift from my in-laws, who seem to know me only all to well.  It was heavenly; in fact, I have another one waiting for me that I bought when we were all in Europe together last summer.  Then during the week I’ll be nibbling on a Ghirardelli Intense Dark bar, made of 72% dark chocolate goodness (the perfect percentage for all those good antioxidants dark chocolate provides).  I’ll finish that Friday, and that’ll be my chocolate consumption for this seven day period.

Surprised?  I hope I haven’t misled you guys all these years.  I mean, sure, I write about chocolate a lot because I have a bit of a passion for it.  But maybe--just maybe--I may have, well, misinterpreted the depth of my passion for it.  I don’t consume mass quantities.  For one thing, if I ate as much chocolate as I sometimes infer, I’d probably weigh twice what I weigh now.  And like I said, if I ate as much chocolate as I infer, I’d be sick of it by now.  I mean, I love chocolate as much as the next person, but I also like fruits and vegetables and everything else that’s included in a balanced diet.

I’m almost being blasphemous when I say this, but there IS more to life than chocolate, despite what & how I may write in here on occasion.  So now you know the truth--two bars a week, max.  Just try not to hold it against me the next time I go off on a great new bar I’ve tried, okay?

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 1/8:

I have to go play TV Jim in a few minutes, but I didn't want to leave you empty handed.  So, in that spirit, here are two interesting tidbits that History Jim has found while doing research for that “Incredible But True” show I'm doing with Jack in a mere 13 (yikes!) days.

The first fact?  Within about a 10 or so day span back in 1978, NMU had signed (and then lost) both Bruce Springsteen and Hall & Oates to perform in Marquette.  Can you imagine how cool that'd been if either of those had actually worked out?  I mean, that was before both acts were the hugest of superstars, but still.

Think of the stories people who were around then could've told!

Secondly, there was an article from a newspaper back in 1961 or 1962 talking about the Detroit Lions and how they may have ended up using the University of Michigan stadium if they had made it to the NFL championship game that season.

That's so  sweet...thinking the Lions would get anywhere NEAR an NFL championship game!

Okay; I'm off to TV land.  Have yourself a great weekend, and stay warm!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 1/7:

Okay; I've decided I was too whiny and too cranky when writing yesterday about getting interrupted while at work.  So you know how I'm gonna make up for it?  With sunshine.

Literally.

Remember last October 11th, a Sunday when the thermometer hit 85 degrees here in Marquette?.  As expected, I spent most of the day outside, and one of my projects was a goof for our station Facebook page.  For the preceding few weeks, I had been posting pictures of sunflowers when soliciting “Throwback Thursday” requests.  I did because, as I wrote about at the time, I noticed that our posts are seen by more people when there's a picture attached, for whatever bizarre “Facebook Only Knows” reason.  Anyway, on that warm October Day I took around a dozen pictures of the same sunflower, and have been sharing them as “Mr. Sunflower” pictures since then.

But now I've run out of them.  And since I was so gloomy yesterday, I figured that I'd use “Mr. Sunflower”'s help in spreading a little sunshine and joy to make up for it.  Besides, who couldn't use a little sunshine and joy on a dreary January day, right?

So without further ado, I now present “The 'Mr. Sunflower' Gallery” starring Mr. Sunflower, his intern, and a bee who got a little too close--








the intern





the bee


There you go.  Thanks, Mr. Sunflower, for being a part of our Facebook page for the last three months, and for helping us spread a lot more joy that we shared yesterday!

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 1/6:

I hope this isn’t a sign of some growing mental instability on my part, and I hope this isn’t another sign that one day I’ll become a cranky old man, but you know what I’ve discovered?

Some days, I really don’t like dealing with people.

Don’t worry; I’m not becoming anti-social or anything.  In my job, you really can’t be.  But there are just some days when I’d like to come in to work and get something done.  I’d like to sit down at my desk and tackle a project without interruption.  I’d actually like to be able to feel I’ve accomplished something. 

Unfortunately, most days aren’t like that.

No, most days are like this--I come in to work hoping to get something done.  As soon as I sit down, one (or more) of my co-workers come with questions and/or complaints and/or mindless gossip, and I have to deal with them.  There will then be a phone call or two that demands my attention.  There may also be people stopping in with something I need to address.  And then I discover I'm still writing “2015” and have screwed up something I did the day before.  All of this seems to, coincidentally or not, happen on the days when I’m hoping to tackle a big project.  I either don’t get to the project, or I do a half-a**ed job on it, with the end result being that I’m not happy, the person or company with whom I’m trying to do the project isn’t happy, and, well, I almost--almost--wish I could just be stuck on a desert island with no people--but functioning electricity.

I know; that’s kind of bad, isn’t it?

Lest I lead you astray, most days aren’t like that.  No, the days I don’t have much I want to accomplish are relatively free of hassle, for some bizarre reason.  It’s only the days that I WANT to tackle something that the interruptions come fast & furious.  In fact, on days like that, I have a little test.  I start listening to music in my iTunes library in an attempt to block out the outside world.  However, it’s an invariable fact on days like that that I can’t even listen to one song without being interrupted.  It’s an inviolable fact that on a day I want to tackle a project I can’t even go four minutes without someone or something else demanding my attention.

To quote my friend Deanna, “Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”!

Now I like people.  I really do.  I like my coworkers, I like the people I deal with on a professional basis, and I really like our listeners, who are among the finest folks on the planet.  I would be bummed, and just a little concerned, if I went into work everyday and just sat in my office with nothing to do and with no one to interact.  I really would.  So I’m not becoming a misanthrope or a curmudgeon.  It’s just that, on some days, I’d like the interruptions to be spaced out a little better, so I could actually feel like I’ve accomplished something.

I hope that doesn’t make be a bad person.

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 1/5:

It's never the picture I think it's gonna be.

As I seem to do every few months, I posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook over the weekend, following a New Year's Day stroll in the (gasp!) sun with a camera.  I'm always curious to see which pictures draw the most “likes”, if only because the ones I think will draw the most “likes' the ones that I seem to like best, always end up near the bottom.

Once again, I was not disappointed.  The picture I thought was the best this time around didn't even come close to the most “likes”.  But I'm okay with that.

I put up eight pictures, and THIS is the one I liked the best--





I don't know why I like it; I just do.  But given my track record in picking out which of my shots go over best with the general public, I shouldn't have been surprised that that shot lagged behind the rest of the in the “likes” category.

Oh well.  Or c'est la vie.  Or whatever...whichever you prefer.

The one picture of the eight with the most “likes”?  Seeing as how, as I mentioned in the caption for the picture, that this structure is probably the most photographed and painted building in the entire city, no one should be surprised that THIS picture had the most “likes”--





I guess you can't go wrong with a lighthouse picture, even one taken from across the bay (I took it from the beach at Founder's Landing).  I was also kind of surprised when this picture had a lot of love--





It seems quite similar to the picture that I liked a lot, but for some reason this shot went over better.  Maybe it was Ripley's Rock in the background.  After all, everyone likes Ripley's Rock, right?

Not that it matters.  I'm just amazed by what I seem to like versus what others seem to like, at least as far as my attempts at photography go.  Maybe one of these days I'll figure out the magical secret is, but until then, I guess I'll just have to keep taking pictures and trying to get it right.

Right?

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 1/4:

And to start off the new year, here’s a question--when is a routine a routine, and when is a routine a rut?

I’ve been wondering about that quite a bit recently.  With the ever-increasingly insane schedule of the three “Jims”, especially with everything I have coming up in the next few weeks, whatever routine I used to have was thrown out the door.  Before all that, I had found myself doing certain things on certain days, and looking forward to doing those certain things on certain days.  I knew I had to get specific things done on Mondays, other things on Tuesdays, and even more different things done on all days of the week leading up to the weekend, where I had yet another normal routine--I’d go running on Saturday morning, go grocery shopping later in the day on Saturday, and lounge around Sunday morning while trying to convince myself it’s time to work out.  I’d look forward to doing the things I had to do on certain days, and if I didn’t do them on certain days, I felt, well,
strange.

So is it a routine, or is it a rut?

I used to think that because of the insane schedule that runs my life that I could never get into a rut.  And that might very well be the case; after all, while I do do certain things on certain days, it may be because those are the only days on which I can do those certain things.  If I don’t do them then, I wouldn’t be able to do them at all.  And maybe I feel strange when I don’t do them because I feel I need a little routine to balance out the insanity.

I’m not saying routines are a bad thing; I’m not even sure that a rut could be considered a bad thing.  Like I said, a little routine (or rut) is a good thing when trying to balance out an insane schedule.  It gives you something you know and you’re comfortable with to look forward to, as opposed to all the unknown (or infrequent) activities that pop up here and there.  I don’t mind that at all.

And yet, there’s a small part of me that always thinks that you should be pushing yourself forward, attempting things you’ve never done before, trying to find a different way to carry off old activities, or rearranging a schedule to stop it from becoming stale.  I don’t know where that part of me comes from; it’s just there, and it seems to pop up whenever I’m trying to convince myself that a routine is a nice thing to have.  So maybe, in a way, what's happening to me has been a good thing, if for no other reason than it made me realize that I do, for better or worse, have a “routine”.

See?  It really isn’t easy being me, is it?  Sometimes these discussions with myself can just be draining. . .they really can!

If you have a routine, and it’s a routine with which you feel comfortable, go for it.  Enjoy it.  Revel in it.  After all, everybody needs a certain level of comfort in their life.  But if you feel the need to shake things up a little, go ahead and shake it up.  You might find that your new way of doing things work fine .  But if it doesn’t, go back to your old routine.  Just try not to obsess over whether it’s a routine or a rut.

After all, some of us do that enough for everyone!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 12/31:

To quote a great American philosopher (well, okay, Barry Manilow)--

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

Tonight I know where I’ll be.  Tonight, I’ll be doing my standing New Year’s Eve gig--broadcasting from the ball drop here in downtown Marquette--and as always, you’re invited to join us!

That’s right--for the 14th year in a row (14 years?  Am I insane????  Actually, on second thought, don't answer that) I’ll be spending tonight working, broadcasting live as the party to which I annually refer to as “me and 4,000 of my closest drunk friends” gets underway.  Sometime around 9pm, I’ll give Loraine an early New Year’s kiss, walk down to the station, grab a microphone, stand out in the street, and start talking.  Over the next two hours, we’ll listen to some great music, gab a little about what happened in 2015, look forward to 2016, and start to be joined by the first of those 4,000 close drunk friends.  Then as midnight draws near, we’ll count down the seconds, hope the people atop the Savings Bank building have their clocks synced with the rest of us (we’re not always on the same fourth dimensional plane, sadly, unfortunately) and usher in 2016 with lots
of noise, lights, and raising of glasses and bottles at the (ahem) alcohol-free event.

Like I said, you’re invited to join us, either in person or on the air.  It’s a cool way to start the new year, and seeing as how the weather shouldn't be too cold tonight, an almost comfortable way to start the new year, as well.

And if we don’t see you here or on the air, enjoy your long weekend.  And on behalf of everyone here, let us wish you a happy, prosperous, and exciting 2016.  I know I'm looking forward to it!

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 12/30:

Think there's gonna be enough?

I've spoken with a bunch of people who, for whatever reason, were bummed that yesterday's snowfall wasn't really that much of a snowfall.  I think many people were expecting another “Snowpocalypse” when, at least in here in Marquette, we only received two or so inches.  I know some people were bummed because they have the week off and could just sit around enjoying the snow, while another group was bummed because in three weeks we're really gonna need that snow.

That group, of course, is made up of people hoping to ski the Noquemanon.

That's right; the race is three weeks from Saturday, and especially here near the finish line, there's not a lot of snow.  And to have a good, groomed ski trail, you need snow.  You need a fair amount of snow to pack down into a base, and then another fair amount of snow to cut the tracks for classic skiers.  We don't seem to have that much yet, which is why I'm guessing some people were bummed we didn't get dumped on Monday night.

As for those who don't ski who were still bummed by the lack of snow?  The less said about that the better.

8-)

The seven-day forecast for Marquette doesn't show much, if any, snow falling in the next week.  In fact, it even shows temperatures getting above freezing again Monday & Tuesday, which may exacerbate the problem by melting what little snow there is.  I feel for the organizers in this regard; after all, when you're trying to put an event this huge together, and you're at the mercy of a very fickle Mother Nature...

There's no way that can be easy.

I'll be curious to see how things develop as we get closer to the race.  Will enough snow fall?  Will white stuff have to be trucked to the finish line at the Dome to make it work?  Will the finish line have to be moved to the Noque trail head like it was about a decade ago, when we were in a similar weather pattern?  I don't know.   In fact, the ONLY thing I know for sure will be that, wherever the finish line is, the announcer will be amped up and ready to go.

At least I'm hoping I will be.  That'll be the end of a three-day span in which I give a HUGE History Center program and also have to host two TV shows. Assuming I still have a voice (which I should) I'll be amped up and ready to go.

Now, if only Mother Nature would do the same...

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 12/29:

It may be one of, if not the, greatest single Christmas gift I've ever received.

Those of you who followed along with our trip to Germany this year may remember my early disappointment in not seeing any cows, and then my euphoria when we finally got to play with them as they strolled along a Bavarian road on which we were driving.  It was one of the highlights of the trip for me, and I think my parents got a chuckle of me getting so geeked out by the encounter.

Flash forward to Christmas Eve.  My Mom, the watercolorist, insisted that I open a gift in front of everyone.  I had no idea why, and then she gave me a big package, a package that contained this--






Yup.  My Mom gave me a painting of me playing with a cow.  If that's not a great Christmas present, I don't know what is!!!!!!!

Both my parents were actually involved in this gift.  My Dad took the picture that served as the basis for my Mom's painting; this picture, in fact--





The picture was taken as we stopped to shoot a few breath-taking mountain scenes, and were interrupted by that cow as he tried to cross from one side of the road to the other.  Me being me, I geeked out and started taking pictures of the bovine, including this one--





A picture that's now the desktop picture on my laptop.  Like I said, my parents got quite chuckle out of me playing with the cows, and that led to what may be the coolest Christmas gift I could ever have received.  I'm especially impressed how my Mom added the mountains from another picture onto the one my Dad took to create a scene that totally captures the spirit of the thing.  My nieces, upon seeing the picture, said “That looks just like Uncle Jim”, but then that's just how good of a watercolorist my Mom is.  Not only did she capture the cow, but also the dorky human following it around, as well.

I had no idea she was doing this.  I can't believe she did it.  All I know is that I'm stunned she did, and that I'm amazingly happy with the result.  I know a lot of people think they have the best Mom in the world, but I hope you won't mind me saying that I really think that I do.

And I have the Christmas present to prove it!!!!!!!

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 12/28:

I had a great Christmas.  I hope yours was just as spectacular. 

In the next two days I’m gonna write about two pictures, one I took and one given to me, that just made my weekend.  But I quickly wanna mention a conversation with my dad Christmas Day, one that revolved around the song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”.  Did you know there have been many parodies of that parody song, including (but not limited to) “New Kids Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, “Grandma Got Molested at the Airport”, “Grandma Got Dismembered by a Chainsaw”, and my dad’s personal favorite, a version by Da Yoopers called “Grandpa Got Run Over By a Beer Truck”?

See?  It was a very Merry Christmas in the Koski household this year!

It was also very merry in that I was able to enjoy a three and a half day weekend, which is actually the first span of three and a half straight days I’ve had off of work that didn’t involve flying somewhere since, if I’m not mistaken, 2010.

Yeah, I know.  I need help.

I write in here quite a bit about how I seem to take my vacation time one of two ways-- either half a day at a time when it’s nice out during the summer, or by flying somewhere (usually across the Atlantic) for a non-stop, action-packed thrill ride of a getaway.  But because the stars and company policy and holiday days lined up just perfectly this year, I found myself with three and a half days--half a week--with no worries or responsibilities.

And I liked it.

I slept late, I went running (in shorts) a few times, I made a few dinners, I spent time with family & friends, I tried to get rid of the what was left of the 32 dozen cookies, and I just generally loafed around quite a bit.  It felt weird to do so, especially when I was lying in bed Friday night and thinking to myself, “Okay, I’ve had my day and a half (sadly, my normal weekend) off; guess I have to go back to work tomorrow”.  It took a second, but then it dawned on me that I DIDN’T have to go back to work Saturday.  In fact, at the time I was lying in bed Friday night, I still had over half of my long weekend to go.

It was heavenly.

Now, I’m sure most of you get to experience that feeling quite often, and after doing it myself this past weekend, I hope you enjoy it every time you get it.  But because of my chosen career field, it’s not a feeling with which I’m intimately familiar.  That’s okay; everyone has to make some kind of sacrifice for their careers, and that’s mine.  Don’t feel bad for me.  I knew what I was getting into. And besides, I can go to the beach any time I want during the summer, so I’m not complaining.  But it was just...weird to have that feeling, to have that extended amount of time unaccounted for. I’m mean, it was a good weird, but it was still weird.

And I’ll get to experience it a little more this weekend, too.  After I wrap things up Thursday evening with 3,000 of my closest drunk friends at the ball drop downtown, I’m then off again until Monday morning.  It’s an extra day tacked onto a weekend that usually seems too short as it is, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy the heck out of it.

I just better not get used to it, right?

Now, I’m off to see if I can find a few more parodies of “Grandma Got Run Over By a reindeer” for Chicky-Poo.  After all, he does seem to enjoy them so!

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

WEDNESDAY, 12/23:

I wonder how popular The Carpenters would be these days?

That thought entered my mind when Loraine was listening to their “Christmas Portrait” album the other day.  If you’ve not heard it, it’s a mix of instrumental and vocal holiday tunes, all segued together into kind of a Christmas symphony, and contains one of the most touching yet melancholy songs of the season ever, “Merry Christmas Darling”.  It’s one of those albums that’s gained kind of an iconic status over the years, and that led us to wondering where The Carpenters would be these days, had Karen not died of anorexia in 1983.

Loraine and I, both being children of the 60s & 70s, have the gender-differing views of the duo you’d expect of children of the 60s & 70s.  She grew up listening to and enjoying them, while for me The Carpenters were something my mom listened to and became something to which I should to pay little or no attention at all. Yet because Loraine still listens to a song of theirs on occasion, and because she listens to “Christmas Portrait” every holiday season, I find myself exposed to their music more than ever, and I have to admit something that no guy who grew up as a child of the 60s & 70s should ever admit--

They were actually pretty talented.

If you put aside all your pre-conceived notions of The Carpenters as schmaltzy or syrupy or any other sticky adjectives you’d care to conjure, you’d notice two things--that Richard Carpenter, who most of their producing and arranging, really had a flair for melody.  And, of course, you’d notice that Karen Carpenter could actually sing, despite the sometimes schmaltzy and syrupy material with which she had to work.  You can tell that they both learned a lot from the people who wrote their songs, people like Burt Bacharach, and when you consider that Bacharach is now treated like a musical legend by his younger contemporaries, how would The Carpenters be treated?

Would they still be vital recording artists, having albums produced by people like Jack White or having their songs covered by groups like Arcade Fire?  Would they still be touring every year, perhaps performing albums in their entirety like other iconic groups of the 70s?  Or would they be stuck playing Branson or Vegas eight months out of the year, and find themselves peddling their music on late night infomercials?  After all, it’s a very thin line between kitschy and cool, and I’d be kind of curious to know on which side they’d fall--would they be like Burt Bacharach, or would they end up like, oh, I dunno, Tony Orlando, with or without Dawn?

Sadly, it’s one of those things we’ll never know, although that doesn’t stop some of us from speculating upon it.  Just one of those things that runs through your head when you listen to a Christmas album in the week leading up to the holiday.  Amazing how things like that work out, isn’t it?


*****

This will be the last posting here until Monday.  However, if you're bored tomorrow or looking for something to read, head over to our trip blog and read the tale of a yearly Koski  Christmas Eve tradition.

Hope Santa’s good to you!

(jim@wmqt.com)

TUESDAY, 12/22:

Should it be green or brown?

It looks like those of us living in the city of Marquette will be having our fourth snow-free Christmas in the past dozen years this year, and it led to me having a discussion with a listener on the air yesterday.  If we do indeed have a snow-free Christmas again this year, is it better to refer to it as a “Green Christmas” or a “Brown Christmas”?  “Brown Christmas” certainly is a more accurate term, because that’s certainly what you see the most of these days.  But “Green Christmas” is a little, well, prettier.  A little more gentle.  A little more Christmas-like.

And it’s not like it’s totally inaccurate.  I can look out the big studio window at work and see nothing but green, thanks to the plethora of cedar trees in front of the First Presbyterian Church across the street.  And when I walk to work every morning, I see the green (well, partial green) on front lawns ranging from my next-door neighbor to that of the Peter White Public Library.  So while “Brown Christmas” is certainly more accurate this time of the year, “Green Christmas” can’t be dismissed out of hand.

So what do YOU think?  Green or brown?  Seeing as how, at least in Marquette, those will probably be our only two choices this year, I think we should decide this, and decide this quite soon!

****

For some people, I know today’s an important day in one respect--it’s the shortest day of the year.  Very late last night the winter solstice occurred and our lovely planet has started to (slowly) tilt the northern hemisphere back toward the sun.  That means that every day from now through June we get a few more minutes of daylight.

That means the days start getting longer starting today.  So it’s all uphill from here.  Or downhill from here, I guess, depending upon your point of view and whether or not you think “up” or “down” is the good way to go.  Regardless of the semantics, we start getting more daylight now.  Thanks to our ever-present cloud cover, we may not notice it right away, but our days WILL be getting longer. 

That means winter will be over before we know it.  Of course, winter has to actually start this year for it to be over before we know it, but if it ever does start, we’ll be ready.

Longer days, here we come!

(jim@wmqt.com)

MONDAY, 12/21:

Well, at least the cookies are done.

A week ago I wrote about how I had yet to accomplish basically anything to do with Christmas.  I mentioned that I had hoped to tackle a big chunk of it this weekend, and you know what?  I did.  I baked 31 dozen cookies.

Why yes, I do wonder about my sanity, just like you do!

It did turn out to be a two day process, Saturday at our place and Sunday at my parents.  And if I'm gonna be totally honest I'm not completely done yet.  There are still a few cookies that need to get frosted.  But they're baked and (for the most part) ready to go.  And that's what counts.

Speaking of counting, I have this bad habit every year of trying to figure out how many calories I'm inflicting on friends and family by baking (in this case) 31 dozen cookies.  So let's do a little math, shall we?  If I baked 31 dozen cookies, that's 372 cookies.  I'm gonna guess here, based on the different kinds of cookies I made, that each cookie contains 110 calories.  That might be slightly higher than average for a cookie, but I make a couple of kinds (like my Grandma Cookie) that has some high-calorie stuff in it.  So if I made 372 cookies at 110 calories each, that's 40,920 calories.

For that, I apologize in advance.

Let's see...if it takes 3,500 calories to gain a pound, I'm gonna be personally responsible for family and friends gaining a net total of 11 and two thirds pounds.  While I generally think of myself as a thoughtful and kind person, one not prone to evil impulses, I take a look at that 40,920 calorie figure and wonder if, somehow, I've gone over to the Dark Side and don't even realize it.

Oops.

And I don't help things, either.  I may make 372 cookies, but I probably only eat a dozen or so of them (at most)  myself.  As I mentioned, most of them are given away.  After making that many cookies, I'm really not that hungry for them.  It may seem weird, especially because I love baking cookies, but after all that work, I just don't feeling like eating them.

I can't explain it.  That's just how it goes.

But at least the cookies are done, and the pounds are waiting to be gained.  Now all I have to do is wrap my gifts and stick them under the tree.  Once, of course, I head down into the basement and actually get the tree.  But I'll get it done.  Honest...I'll get it done!

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com)

FRIDAY, 12/18:

First of all, the movie was amazing.  It was pretty much everything I hoped it would be.  And, like I promised yesterday, that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Of course, that doesn't leave me much to talk about, so I'll just leave you with these random thoughts--

First of all, three months ago today I submitted the paperwork to (what was then) U.S. Airways to get reimbursed for the stuff we had to buy in Germany when our luggage didn't make it with us.  Three months...a quarter of a year.  And do you think I've heard ANYTHING back from them yet?

Sigh...

Second of all, if you see me at all these weekend, odds are I'll be covered in cookie dough.  This is the weekend I hope to get all the baking done that I wrote about this past Monday.  It'll be double duty, too; I'll be doing it at our place Saturday and my parents' place Sunday.  By Monday I'll probably never want to see another cookie again.

Until, of course, I start eating them and giving them away, and remembering WHY I bake them all in the first place.

And finally of all, did I mention that I saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” last night?  And that it was good?

Just wanted to pass that along.

8-)

With that, have yourself a great weekend.  If you're joining me in trying your own Cookie-thon, good luck and have a great time.  If you were smart enough to get all this done weeks ago, congrats.  You deserve every second of freedom you get this weekend!

(jim@wmqt.com)

THURSDAY, 12/17:

Tonight's the night.

At 7pm tonight, I will be sitting inside theater 1 at the Thomas Theater Group's Tri City Cinema 8 in Marquette, eagerly awaiting the finish of 9,000 commercials and trailers.  At the conclusion of the 9,000th, the theater goes dark, the anticipation builds to an unbearable crescendo, and the world rocks slightly on its axis.

Either that, or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” begins.  You take your pick.

I had to laugh slightly when my friend Deanna bought our tickets over two months ago.  After all, who figured that you'd need to buy tickets that far out just to see a movie on an opening night, right?  But I'm glad she did; if she hadn't, I have no idea when we'd actually just be able to walk up and buy tickets to the film.  That's how sold out the movie is.  And I think we'll be in good company.  I've spoken with many people I know, everyone from friends to “High School Bowl” team coaches, who'll be there.

It should be a blast.

One of the things I'm enjoying about the build-up to the premiere is how many people are trying to make it a spoiler-free event.  People who've already seen the movie are going out of their way not to spill any secrets, just like the people who made it.  And I'm going to honor that.  For the next week, I'm not going to mention anything about the film—except for incessantly gloating about how I saw it opening night—so that people who haven't had the chance to see it get to go in and experience it for themselves.  I know that's how I'd want to do if if I didn't have a friend that bought tickets two months ago.

Have I mentioned I how much I appreciate Deanna's foresight?

As a result, you'll be able to come back here tomorrow and know that this will be a spoiler-free zone.  Of course, I have the feeling that the vast majority of you—people much more grounded in reality than I—don't really care about what happens in the new “Star Wars” movie.  But just in case, I'll write about something else.  I mean, I don't know what I'll be able to write about, seeing as how I'll (hopefully) still be locked in a “Star Wars” high, but we'll see.  I'm sure I can some up with something.

It's the least I can do.

8-)

(jim@wmqt.com), uber-nerd.

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