As you may recall, I had to get up REALLY early yesterday
morning—before 8 am, in fact (and yes, you may roll your
eyes now at that statement if you'd like. I know you want
to). The reason for my early rise was the fact that the
Lake Superior Community Partnership's Leadership Academy was
coming in for a tour of the station, so that the future
leaders of Marquette County could a see how a radio station
works. Or, in our case, how a radio station occasionally
Anyway, the tour went well; everyone seemed to have a good
time and learn a lot, and the questions they asked were of a
higher quality than we get during an average tour, something
you'd except from the future leaders of Marquette County.
One of the questions, though, kinda took me by surprise, and
that was when someone asked--
“Are you ready for the beach yet”?
Now, as those of you who read this regularly know, I kinda
like the beach. I spend a good deal of my summer (at least
a good deal of a warm summer) just walking up & down
beaches, basking in the warmth of the sun and the zen-like
sound of the waves crashing on shore. Those of you who read
this on a regular basis also know that my dream job would be
“beach bum”, only I've yet to figure out a way to get
someone to pay me to do it. That's why I was surprised when
the question was asked and it turns out the person doing the
asking doesn't read these.
I guess my secret's out!
It's funny; I didn't think I talk about it a lot on the air
or mention it much on
Facebook, but my little
secret must've gotten out somehow. I know I've spoken with
the person who did the asking several times; maybe that's
how she knew. Or maybe I've seen this person at the beach
on occasion. All I know is that when I'm giving a tour of
the station, talking about audio recording, and someone asks
me about my favorite summer time activity...something just
doesn't seem right. I'm not complaining; after all, it was
a great question, and it shows that a lot of people seem to
know me a lot better than I thought they ever did. It was
just an interesting question to be asked by someone in that
group of people at that particular function.
But then, that's maybe why they're the future leaders of
The question actually stuck with the group, too, because as
they were leaving, one member noticed the sun was shining
and commented that it looked like “perfect beach weather”
outside. And while the sunshine DID add a beach-like glow
to the day, the fact that it was glaring off of four-foot
snowbanks kind of took away the whole allure of going to the
beach, at least this weekend.
So I guess I'm now known not just as the history geek on the
radio who walks everywhere; many people seem to know me as
the history geek on the radio who walks everywhere and
really wants to be a beach bum. I guess, though, there are
worse reputations to be had, right?
On that note, have yourself a great weekend. I wish I could
say I'll see you at the beach, but as we all know, that's
not gonna be happening for quite a while yet!
I don't feel so bad now. Loraine can't remember what the
blog was supposed to be about, either.
If you recall yesterday's ramblings, there was a topic that
I was going to write about, but couldn't remember what that
topic was. All I did recall was one of two things--that it
came up in a conversation with my dear wife, or it was all a
dream. Well, I can now confirm it was NOT a dream. We did
have that conversation.
We just don't remember what it was about.
This isn't anything out of the ordinary. We both have so
much going on—her with the book she's in the middle of
writing and with me being, well, me—that quick little
conversations are bound to be forgotten as soon as they're
held. I'm sure whatever we were talking about, and I'm sure
that whatever made me think I should write about it, was
interesting and quasi-important at the time. It just wasn't
One of two things will now happen. I'll either totally
forget this happened, until I re-read these blogs four or
five years in the future and try to remember what exactly it
was I was trying to remember. Either that, or I'll wake up
at four in the morning one day next week and remember
exactly what I was gonna write about. I'll then be faced
with a choice—roust myself out of bed, looking for a pen &
paper upon which to write the idea down, or roll over, go
back to sleep, and by the next morning forget what I
remembered. Assuming, of course, I remember I remembered
and just don't forget that I remembered I remembered.
Or something like that.
Anyway, part of me is now thinking that forgetting what I as
gonna write about is actually better than remembering what I
was gonna write about. After all, had I remembered, I
wouldn't gotten a single blog out of it. But now, because I
forgot, I was able to get two blogs out of it. And while
I'm sure you're probably getting sick of the topic, I was
able to kill half a week just by forgetting something.
And given my history of forgetting things, it's too bad I
can't profit from the habit in other ways!
Okay; I promise that I won't write anything about forgetting
(or forgetting to remember) tomorrow. I'll write about
something new and something different and (sarcasm alert)
something wildly entertaining and we can all go away happy
and content in the knowledge that I stuck to my word.
If you've ever wondered how long I can sit and stare at the
wall while trying to come up with a topic for a blog, you
now have your answer--
Yup; I've just completed 25 minutes of sitting around and
trying to think of what to write about today. In all
honesty, I've also been eating and doing a few other things,
but most of the past 25 minutes has been spent in quiet
contemplation of which topic of Earth-shattering importance
to discuss today.
And you can see how successfully THAT turned out.
I actually had a topic in mind; it was something Loraine and
I were discussing last night and something that made me say
out loud to her, “I should write a blog about that”. But
because she's at work and I'm, well, me, I have no idea what
that topic was. Hopefully, you'll get to read about it
tomorrow, or you'll get to read about how it was all
actually a dream and I didn't really have a conversation
with Loraine about a blog topic.
Either way, you'll have something a little more substantial
than this to read.
Actually, as I discovered in an article in the
Huffington Post recently,
doing things like daydreaming (or, in my case, staring at
the wall) is actually a sign of a creative mind, something
I'll gladly accept. I actually think that another sign of a
creative mind, the ability to notice things other people
don't, has served me much better (after all, look at all the
blog topics I've discovered and pictures I've taken THAT
way), but I think daydreaming (or staring at the wall) has
worked out well, at least for today. After all, it looks
like I got a blog out of it, right?
Now, if I could only remember what it was Loraine and I were
talking about, then I'll have something to write about
Before I go, I must pass along condolences to the family of
John Anderton, the NMU professor who died while skiing on
the Fit Strip Sunday. John and I served on the History
Center board together for several years, and last year even
co-hosted a walking tour around Presque Isle where he talked
about rocks and I talked about weird things.
Despite the fact that it was cold outside and despite the
fact that our landlords did start their construction
project, I took a day off yesterday; the first day off I’ve
had since August. And I was able to do just about
everything I wanted to. I went skiing, I baked, I listened
to a bunch of music (remind me to write about the Nick Hexum
Quintet some time), and I just walked around with few cares
in the world. About the only thing I didn’t get to do was
take a nap, but as it turned out I had so many other things
I wanted to do that I wouldn’t have had time for it anyway.
So that’s okay.
Now it’s back to the real world, and you know what the first
thing I get to do today is? No, go ahead. Guess. You get
a bonus point if you said the first thing I get to do is
being interviewed by a Mining Journal reporter, because you
what the first thing I get to do today is?
Get interviewed by a Mining Journal reporter.
Yeah, I know. If there’s one person in Marquette who really
doesn’t need to be in various forms of the media any more,
it’s me. But we also all know that I have a serious
problem. We all know that I can’t say “no”. So when a
Mining Journal reporter called last week and wanted to know
if she could talk to me about the street program that
Rosemary and I put on for the History Center last month, I
I know; I’ll learn the meaning of “no” one of these days,
Apparently the reporter went to our show and now she’s
interested in putting together a feature article on how some
of the city’s streets got their name. Since both Rosemary
and I were able to gather the stories and put them together
in a semi-coherent manner, she wants to talk to both of us
and get a little background. So that’s why I’m meeting with
her later today.
And the fun keeps going later this week. Thursday, in
particular, looks promising, as we’re hoping to have out
tower climbed again, and we’re also hosting the Lake
Superior Community Partnership’s Leadership Academy. They
want to know how a radio station works, and since they
(cough cough) couldn’t find a real one they asked if they
could come and visit us. We’ve actually done this
particular tour many times before. However, we’ve never
done it at 8 in the morning, a time I’m usually just rolling
out of bed, so that should be an interesting presentation.
We’ll have to see if I’m awake for it!
So I guess it’s a good thing I took a day off yesterday. It
doesn’t look like I’ll have another chance in the near
Just a couple of little things today to wrap up the week (or
the month, for that matter).
First of all, I was very heartened to hear that the
Empire Mine is staying open for at
least a few more years. I don't know if you're
aware of this, but what you're reading right now actually
kind of owes its existence to the Empire Mine. You see, the
first time the Mine rain into the possibility of closing,
back in 2001, I wrote something for our website on how it
wasn't the end of the world, and I called it “In Jim's
Opinion”, because, well, it was my opinion. After putting
it up I received some good feedback on what I wrote, and 13
years later both the Mine and I are still in business. Who
Secondly, there's this trend going around Europe of
communities putting together videos of their residents
singing and dancing to Pharrell Williams' song “Happy”.
I've seen a bunch of them recently from places we've visited
in Poland, Germany, and France, and while some of them look
like they were shot with a 15-year old camcorder, some of
them are amazingly slick productions. In fact, if you'd
like an example, here's the one from Metz, France, where
we'll be staying a little later this year!
Speaking of which, six months from today (SIX MONTHS!!) we
leave Marquette to head to Luxembourg and begin this year's
adventure. This is the one where we'll be in all of our
favorite chocolate and cereal countries—Belgium, France, and
Germany—for at least part of a day, so we can come home
Oh, and Loraine's doing some war research and we'll be
seeing friends while we're over, too. But we're gonna be in
all of our favorite chocolate and cereal countries while
we're there. That's the important thing, isn't it??
Finally, there's the chance that I may be working on Monday
after all. Oh sure, I still wanna take a day off soon to
remember what it's like to have an actual weekend, but the
wrench in the plan this time centers around a construction
project our landlords have scheduled for next week. If it
starts Monday, there will be lots of noise and building
racket throughout our house. And as much as I'd like an
extra day off, I don't know that I'd like listening to saws
and hammers and drills and the like while I'm trying to
enjoy it the day. So we'll just have to see how things turn
out. If you come back here Monday, you'll know I had to put
my extended weekend off. But if you come back here Monday
and you still see this entry, then you'll know I'm off
either skiing or napping.
On that note, have yourself a GREAT weekend, and stay warm,
if that's at all possible these days!
Monday I might do something wild & crazy. Monday I might do
something way out of the ordinary. Monday I might do
something I hardly ever do.
Monday, I may take the day off.
The last time I had an “official” day off of work would've
been the last Friday we were in Germany, and that was almost
six months ago. Since then, I've had a couple of holiday
and weekend days off, but even on those days I was probably
doing something at home for work, or dealing with some kind
of problem that had cropped up. I'm not complaining or
anything; after all, for several of those months I was
(literally) the only person working on-air at this station
and was responsible for just about everything that went on
the air. But now that we're back up to a full staff (and a
very good full staff at that) I think I deserve a day off.
I know some of you (especially those of you who know me) may
be thinking “Jim, you never take time off during the
winter”, and you'd be right. I almost always save my time
off for days when I can play outside in the sun. But there
are two things in play here—one is that I have a lot of
vacation time I need to use up. The other is that I've
forgotten what a three day (or a two day, or even a one day)
weekend is like. It might be nice to re-introduce myself!
I have no idea what I'll do if I take Monday off. If it's
“nice” out (with “nice”, of course, being a comparative
term) maybe I'll go skiing, and then do something I
mentioned yesterday but haven't done for a while. Maybe
I'll take my camera out. If it's not nice out? Maybe I'll
read a book. Maybe I'll take a nap. Maybe I'll surprise
Loraine with a nice dinner or some of her favorite
brownies. It doesn't matter.
It'll just be nice having the day off.
Now, of course, there is one wrench that could be thrown
into the plan. Monday could be the day that the engineers
once again climb our tower with the newest replacement
part. If that was the case, I guess I wouldn’t totally mind
having to work, especially if it meant we were back at full
power again. But I have the feeling the weather won't
cooperate for a climb, so I'm stuck contemplating a day off.
It's a nice contemplation to be making, actually!
I haven't totally decided yet, but I need to soon. After
all, when I take a day off it means that I have to work
ahead to get everything done for that extra day. But
because we now have Jen and because we now have Ryan, the
amount of extra work that I would have to do is so much less
than it would've been even a month ago. And that's one of
the reasons I'm thinking of taking Monday off.
I was having a conversation with Loraine over the past
weekend about how I have not taken a camera out with me to
shoot pictures since, according to one memory card, the week
before Christmas. While it disappointed me a little I can't
say I'm really surprised; after all, it's just been so dang
cold outside that any camera would probably freeze up. Not
only that, when everything's white and icy I kind of get
bored. I'm sure a real photographer could find many images
to shoot, but to me it's just...desolate.
Then yesterday one of my compatriots at the Marquette
Regional History Center dropped me a note asking if I had
ever come across a picture of a woman who was a nurse in
World War I. Sad to say, I hadn't, but I did know that I
had a picture of her headstone buried deep somewhere. After
a little looking, I found it--
Why do I have this picture, you ask? Well, I answer, I took
it six years ago meaning to find some information on Ms.
Mangum, and didn't remember I had the picture until I was
asked. Now, Jen at the History Center can find out about
Anyway, when I was looking through the pictures, I came
across a lot of them that have something that's been missing
in ours lives recently, something that's one of the primary
reasons I haven't taken any pictures recently--
Maybe it's just me, but it's amazing how even just a little
color can seem so...vivid after months of not seeing any
colors other than brown and white outside. You have reds--
You have purples (hello, lilacs!)--
You have oranges--
And you have a combination of all of them, plus more!
Who knows; maybe one day (one year?) soon, we'll be able to
once again see scenes like this--
And take pictures of creatures like this--
Well, a boy can dream, right? Or, at the very least, go
through flash drives full of pictures. Because so far this
year that's all we've been able to do.
I've just finished reading a book called “Obsolete: An
Encyclopedia of Once Common Things”, written by Jane
Grossman, a book that deals with things that were once
ubiquitous but are now rarely used anymore, everything from
dial telephones to, well, encyclopedias. It was a fun read,
and it was amazing how many of the items described as
obsolete were items that I once used.
It almost made me feel “old” for a second!
Anyway, one of the items discussed as being obsolete was
cursive writing. Despite the fact that I have to sign my
name four or five times a day on legal documents for the
station, and despite the fact that when I sign my name I
sign it in cursive, I have to admit that aside from the
letters that make up “James S. Koski” I would have
absolutely no idea how to write a word or a sentence in
cursive. Aside from those eight letters that comprise my
name, I couldn't write a word in cursive if my life depended
So hopefully it won't any time soon!
In fact, aside from the technical logs that I have to sign
in four different places every day at work, about the only
other document on which I have to write cursive—and that's
just to sign my name—is when I make out a check. I'll sign
my name in cursive, but write everything else out like a
normal person, in regular script. Of course, speaking of
things that are (almost) obsolete, I can't even remember the
last time I wrote out a check. I have bill pay for bills,
use credit cars when I shop, and on those rare occasions
when I have to write out a check I stare at it like it's
some sort of extraterrestrial hieroglyph and try to remember
what I have to write where.
Luckily, I have a wife who works in banking and can tell me
what goes where. Or at least she does when she's finished
laughing at my total ignorance of matters financial.
I should ask my nieces about this, because I'm curious, but
do they even teach cursive writing in schools any more? I
would think that computer keyboard skills are about a
zillion times more important to learn than writing in some
sort of flowery script, but I have no idea. Whenever
Courtney or Mallory or Sydney leave me hand-written notes
it's usually in block printing, the same way I write
whenever I actually have to hand-write something. Seeing as
how it's been deemed “obsolete” maybe cursive isn't even
taught any more, much in the way you no longer have to teach
kids how to plow a field with an ox or teach budding doctors
on the ethics of using leeches.
Like I said, hopefully I won't have to hand-write anything
in cursive any time soon. Because if I do, I'll probably
need a couple of bottles of Wite-Out lying around. Oh,
wait...Wite-Out was in that “Obsolete” book, too.
Guess if I do have to write something in cursive any time
soon I'm just plain out of luck!
Go away, Polar Vortex. We don't want you around any more!
I don't know if you've seen the forecast for later this
week, but it's calling for another blast of that bitter
arctic air we've been dealing with most of the winter. I'm
personally hoping that it's like that snow storm we were
supposed to get last Friday—you know, the one where it
rained the entire time in Marquette—and that we don't have
to freeze our you-know-whats off again like we did in both
December and January.
Because twice a year is enough, you know?
Speaking of January and the weather, I had to laugh when I
saw last month was actually one of the warmest Januarys in
the modern history of the planet. I mean, when you look at
a map of where it was cold and where it was hot, the only
place that was really cold was a big finger of cold that
extended downward from Canada and covered the midwestern and
eastern parts of the U.S. The rest of the planet? Warmer
than usual. Us? Not so much.
I guess that big finger of cold was actually Mother Nature
giving US the finger!
I was looking through some old blogs over the weekend, and I
found something interesting from this day back in 2012. Did
you know two years ago today I went running in shorts? It
was 45 degrees and most of the snow had melted, so I, like
any normal person, ran in shorts. This year, if I were to
try that, I'd either become a human-sized Jim-sicle or I'd
finally make in into the Mining Journal's police log with an
entry that reads “Underdressed fool reported on corner of
Front & Arch Streets, 12:10pm”.
Either way, not a very good choice.
I have no idea when I'm actually gonna be able to run in
shorts again; hopefully, this year won't be like last year
with us seeing snow flakes in the air the first two weekends
in May. Because if THAT were to happen, I might just make
the Mining Journal's police log, but for an entirely
“Fool walking around in circles and shaking his fist skyward
while wearing shorts and muttering to himself, corner of
Front & Arch Streets, 12:10pm”.
I think I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how we spent a
small portion of our tax refund picking up some of our
favorite goodies from Europe, and yesterday's shipment from
German Shop 24 was greeted
with much joy in the Koski household. We tore open
(carefully, mind you) the box and out popped chocolate from
Ritter and Milka and Schoegetten, all meticulously wrapped
in that way that Germans are meticulous about everything.
We now have all of our favorites, plus Loraine has some
espresso bars that are a little too strong for me and I have
some marzipan bars that I first found in Leipzig, bars where
the chocolate and marzipan are actually soaked in alcohol,
something we both find quite funny seeing as how I don't
But they taste GREAT!
Also in the packages were two boxes of cereal, both from
Kolln, which would be the German equal to Kelloggs or to
Post. Loraine wanted to try a muesli with hazelnuts and
chocolate, while I had to get another box of perhaps the
best cereal on the planet, Kolln's Schoko-Kirsch Muesli--
This is a cereal with granola, little chocolate puffy bits,
shaved pieces of dark chocolate, and dried cherries in it.
I discovered it one of the first times we stayed in Germany,
and I've always made a point of bringing back a box or two
of it, even if I hafta toss some underwear or an old tube of
toothpaste to make room.
After all, I know what's REALLY important!
Anyway, the box arrived at a great time, considering
everything that's been going on. Now this weekend I can
just sit back, play with my chocolate, and gaze lovingly at
the cereal. Yeah, I know that's not what a normal person
would do with their weekend, but would you expect anything
different from me?
Nah, I didn't think so.
Speaking of the weekend, if you're heading to the Outhouse
Classic in Trenary Saturday stop by the “Poop With a
Purpose” outhouse. You'll recognize it because it's pink,
and there you'll find Team “Poop on Cancer” raising funds
for the MGH Wig Salon, a very worthwhile place that provides
wigs and head coverings for people who've lost their hair
due to their treatment for cancer.
So check that out Saturday if you're in Trenary; otherwise,
have yourself a happy (and hopefully) chocolate and
Tom Petty's right. The waiting really IS the
They climbed our tower a little after 11 yesterday morning,
and we had to go off the air for a half an hour while they
climbed past our temporary antenna. They then put us back
on low power, with the proviso that we'd go off again to
work and then (hopefully) come back on at full power. That
was 11:45; by 3, we still hadn't gone off the air, and I
hadn't gone ON the air (even thought I had a bunch of things
I needed to take care of) knowing I'd probably just get
bumped, I was starting to wonder what was going on.
I just kept waiting.
It's funny; one of the things about which Loraine makes fun
of me is that I seem to have an almost infinite reserve of
patience. I know when things are beyond my control, and I
know that when there's nothing I can do there's nothing I
can do. But yesterday, just sitting and waiting...well,
let's just say it's good thing I had that almost infinite
reserve of patience.
I used up most of it.
We finally went off around 3:30, a mere four hours after
they started to work. And while I was glad that wait was
over, the next began. Would we be back soon, and if we
were, would everything wok the way it was supposed to? Or
like some kind of audio Sisyphus would we have pushed the
rock all the way to the top of our tower only to have it
roll back down again?
The static coming from my office radio was loud, and it was
Then at 4:55 the call came, and even though the news wasn't
good the waiting (for now) was over, and I could be grateful
that I still had a little patience left in the tank, because
it sounds like I'm gonna need it. They replaced the burned
out part on our antenna array, but there's still
something—and they don't know what—that isn't working. And
with the storm that's supposed to hit tomorrow making tower
climbing weather the next few days iffy at best, it doesn't
sound like we're gonna have any resolution any time soon.
You know, I had hoped this would be the last blog I ever had
to write about this problem, if only because I'm guessing
you guys are getting as sick of it as I am. But it doesn't
appear so. I will, though, make this promise—the next time
I do write about all this is when we're actually back up at
full power and can put all this behind us.
Well, today's the day. And that means I don't have too much
time to write, but in this case, that's a good thing.
I have to run down to work in a couple of minutes and get
ready for what could be a huge event. In a short while,
some very talented (and courageous) people will be climbing
up our transmitter tower with the replacement of a part they
brought down after they climbed up last week. If all goes
the way it should (something that, unfortunately, hasn't
happened much out there the past seven weeks) when they
climb down and someone else flips a switch, we should be
back at full power, everyone who wants to listen finally
can, and our long national nightmare will be over.
I think I've actually forgotten what's it like to be a
“real” radio station. I'm looking forward to rediscovering
So I hope you don't mind if I skip out of here without
writing much more. The day ahead entails programming,
rescheduling, a lot of hand-wringing, and I'm sure a couple
of four-letter words (or their family-friendly
equivalents). Hopefully, though, by the next time I write
something here it'll be good news. I mean, I can handle it
if it's not; I've become quite adept at that, actually. But
hopefully I'll be able to start of tomorrow blog with
something happy and joyful like “We're back!!!!!”
Well, to be honest, there are probably many time when I
embarrass myself. But I'll get to that in a moment. I
wanted to mention three downtown Marquette food related
items, the first of which is this--
I finished by last bag of cherries from Farmer Q's this
Those of you who read this on a regular basis know how
bummed I was by the closure of the store. One of the
reasons was this—you could buy big two and a half pound bags
of frozen cherries and blueberries (great for smoothies) for
5 or six bucks each. In a regular store, you pay that much
for a one pound bag.
That's one of the (many) reasons I miss Farmer Q's.
Secondly, I think I have a couple of new favorite snacking
options, thanks to the
Marquette Food Coop. They
have bags of little munchies at their checkout, and I
checked out a few of them this past weekend. One is Green
Tea Vanilla Chai Yogurt Covered Almonds, and are those
yummy! The tea and the nutmeg in the chai go together
perfectly, and everything all together makes a really yummy
snack. Try them if you have the chance.
The other Coop munchie you should try? How about curry
roasted cashews. Oh, don't look at me that way. I love
cashews, and I love curry. Put 'em together, and they're
just amazing. You really should check them out!
Now, onto how I embarrass myself.
Saturday Loraine & I went to lunch at one of new favorite
places, Sol Azteca. We were their first-ever paying
customers, and we're always treated like royalty when we go
back. So when we went in Saturday and the owner greeted us,
I said “Hola”. She replied like you'd reply in
Spanish—“Como Esta?”, to which I then said “Tres Bien”.
Which, of course, is French, and not Spanish. See? You
can't take me anywhere.
This isn't the first time it's happened. This isn't the
first time someone has asked me something and I've replied
in French. Aside from Sunday it also occurred while we were
in Germany, when a store cashier asked me something in
German and I replied in French. It even occurred at Econo
Foods once when I was asked if I preferred paper or plastic
and replied “papier, S'il Vous Plait”. Fortunately, the
bagger said “paper, right”?, and we were cool.
Well, she was cool. I was just a dork.
I have no idea how this happens, but it just does. The
stupid thing is, of course, I know what the other person is
saying, and I should be able to reply to their question in
the language in which it was asked. But no...instead, I
have to reply in French and look like an idiot. I mean,
it's never been a major problem-- the lady at Sol Azteca
just laughed and pointed out that Spanish and French are
closely related, and the cashier in Germany recognized my
American-accented French and started speaking in English,
but that's not the point.
I'm an embarrassment to myself. In at least four different
languages now. I guess if you're gonna do something stupid,
do it in as many languages as possible, right?
I wonder if the Fit Strip has made me a better skier?
As most of you know, I've been cross-country skiing for two
decades now. But despite my experience in it, I'm not a
great skier, or even a highly above average skier. I'm what
I would call a “plodder”; I'm not out there for speed, I'm
just out there to burn as many calories as I can. I'm not
that big on tricks or fancy maneuvers; as long as I can stay
upright, I'm cool with that.
And that's why I've always enjoyed skiing at Blueberry
Ridge. Not only do they have kilometers upon kilometers of
groomed tracks, but even on the medium-difficulty trails
there are nice wide curves and hills that aren't too
deadly. It's a very forgiving course, one perfectly suited
to a plodder.
But because I don't have a car of my own any more, I've had
to forgo going out to Blueberry Ridge (Loraine, you see,
doesn't want her nice new car scuffed up by skis, which
actually might not fit in there anyway). So instead, when I
go skiing I just walk over to the Fit Strip and ski the 2
kilometer outside loop a bunch of times.
Now the Fit Strip is nothing like Blueberry Ridge, at least
when it comes to skiing. Where the Fit Strip has gentle
hills and wide curves, the Fit Strip has short steep hills,
several of which lead into wicked curves. If you're not
careful, you can easily find yourself in a snowbank, a creek
bed, or impaled upon a tree branch. Add to that the fact
that the trail is often torn up by walkers and/or their dogs
(you know, the ones on the Fit Strip despite the fact there
are signs that say “no dogs allowed”) and it takes a certain
amount of skill & concentration to ski there. You get a
great workout, but half of that may come from the adrenaline
your body pumps out as you try to stay upright and safe.
That's why when I realized I had to use the Fit Strip this
year I wasn't sure how the experience would be. Like I
said, I'm a plodder, and the Fit Strip is really best for
skiers who know what they're doing and are good at it. But
because the Fit Strip is the only place I've skied this
year, and because I try to ski there several times a week,
I've noticed something the last three or four times I went
I no longer fear the hills or the curves or even the
footprints that have destroyed what used to be a groomed
track. I've started to handle them without even thinking.
The experience of skiing on the Fit Strip for a whole year
has, I honestly believe, made me a better cross-country
I'm as shocked as the next person, but a little happy, too.
I'm nowhere near good enough to, say, go out and take part
in a cross country ski race, nor would I want to try and ski
a technically difficult course, but whatever apprehension I
had at the beginning of the year seems to be disappearing by
leaps & bounds every time I go out there. I don't know if
it's because I'm a better skier or if it's just because I've
conquered my fears and am no longer as big of a baby, but I
think I'm a better skier.
The way the snow is flying this year, I figured I have at
least a month of skiing left on the Fit Strip, a course that
because of its location and terrain often loses snow before
any place else. And you know what? I'm kind of looking
forward to seeing what other surprises pop up in that time!
Happy Valentine's Day. And to quote Craig Ferguson, with a
shrug of my shoulders, “That's all I've got”.
Well, at least that's all I've got as far as Valentine's Day
goes. This is, however, one of those weekends around
Marquette where there's almost too much to do. I mean, you
U.P. 200 and other sled dog
races. You have Downtown
Snowboard Rail Jam. You
have the Holmes Brother concert at NMU Friday. You have the
1920s “Saturday at the Center” at the History Center
Saturday. You have the finish of the U.P. 200 Sunday. And
if you're adventurous and willing to put your life on the
line, you could also try making dinner reservations at any
local restaurant tonight for Valentine's Day.
It seems like each weekend brings something to do in
Marquette. About once a month, though, it seems like too
many events get crammed into a single weekend. I don't it's
coincidence or it's because organizers take advantage of the
fact that people are already in the city (as with the
snowboard jam this weekend) but it can occasionally lead to
What to do? How to choose? And is it actually possible to
fit 26 hours of events into a 24-hour day without breaking
several laws of physics?
Anyway, if you're in the area, have fun at whatever you
choose to do. I'm not quite sure what my plans are at the
moment, although I'm pretty sure cross-country skiing,
spending time with my valentine, and making her her favorite
brownies are at the top of the list. I'm kind of intrigued
by the snowboarding down Washington Street hill; I may trek
down there Saturday and see what's going on. Or who knows;
maybe I'll just go to sleep tonight and then wake up Sunday
morning. That's another great thing about a weekend like
this—you can pick & choose from a menu of things to do, or
you can just do nothing at all.
And some weekends, that's the best choice you can make.
On that note, have yourself a great weekend. I hope
whatever choice you end up making is perfect for you!
program on Marquette street names went over well, at least
based on the feedback Rosemary and I received from the (big)
crowd afterward. Perhaps the best feedback came from the
little game I played, the game called “Name That Street”.
One of the things we knew we wanted to mention when putting
the program together was that there are a bunch of Marquette
streets that don't have their original name. Over the years
they've been changed to honor local individuals or events,
and the names with which they were built have just kind of
faded off into the sunset. But I took care of that last
And I gave away chocolate at the same time!
Here are some of the streets I talked about—Superior,
Marble, Mt. Vernon, Specular, Hematite, Walnut, Hendrie,
Park Avenue, and South Sixth. All of the streets still
exist today, but by different names. Think you know which?
Go ahead; I'll give you a couple of seconds to mull it over.
(Picture me standing in the corner waiting as you're
mulling. I may even be whistling softly. But I won't be so
rude as to check my phone)
Okay, ready? Let's see how you did--
Superior Street became Baraga Avenue. Based on last night,
that's the one people know the most.
Marble became the section of Front Street south of what's
now the roundabout.
Mt. Vernon become Hewitt.
Walnut is now the section of Lakeshore Boulevard between the
Coast Guard Station and Mt..Vernon; excuse me, Hewitt.
Hendrie became Blemhuber.
Park Avenue become Morgan (and bonus points if you even know
where Morgan Avenue in Marquette is)
South Sixth become Altamont.
And Specular and Hematite were two of the three Marquette
streets named after iron ore, the third being Magnetic.
After NMU was built, Specular became College, while Hematite
was named after NMU's second president, James Kaye.
However, if you know where to look, there is concrete proof
(literally concrete proof) that Hematite once existed.
Here's that proof--
If you stand on the northeast corner of Kaye and Second
Streets and look down on the sidewalk, you'll see that
literal concrete proof that Hematite once existed. It's
amazing what you can still find about Marquette; you just
need to know where to look!
Anyway, like I said, we had a blast last night. I hope you
guys did, as well. I need to thank Rosemary Michelin, who
played Abbott to my Costello and found out a lot of things
that even I didn't know about. So thanks a bunch to her,
and to Beth from the History Center for putting the
PowerPoint presentation together.
The next thing I do for the History Center? It's coming up
June 11th, and it's a “Jim Koski ™” walk about the great
fire of 1868. See you on the streets in June!
For those of you who don't know what a kalimba is, it's an
African thumb piano, an instrument that requires a LOT of
digital dexterity to play. If you've listened to Earth Wind
& Fire throughout the years, especially to anything off of
the “I Am” album, you've heard a kalimba as played by
Maurice White. Now I have absolutely no talent when it
comes to playing a kalimba, but as an Earth Wind & Fire fan
I'm very familiar with the instrument, so when I saw one on
sale a while ago at an alternative craft fair in Marquette,
I scooped it up.
After all, how many people actually have a kalimba, even if
they can't play it?
Because I can't play it (or more precisely, can play it but
can't play it melodically) it's just been sitting on a shelf
as a decoration, as opposed to a working musical instrument,
and I haven't really paid much attention to it over the past
few years. That's why I wasn't too surprised when this past
weekend I had to move the kalimba to get at something else
on the shelf, and noticed a huge crack in the bottom of it.
I guess now I'll never become a master of the kalimba!
I can't say I'm surprised it's cracked; after all, I bought
it two moves ago and it's just been sitting around since
then. And since I picked it up at a craft fair I'm sure it
was more ornament than functional musical instrument.
Still, when I plucked the keys it did produce something
resembling a musical tone, and who knows—I was planning on
actually figuring out how to play it one of these years.
I guess it just won't be on that particular kalimba. And I
guess my dreams of joining Earth Wind & Fire will have to go
on the back-burner, at least for now.
Sigh. . .
In case you didn't know (or even care) tonight's the night
I'm doing that “What's in a Name” program about streets with
Rosemary Michelin at the History Center. It gets underway
at 7, and it looks like between the two of us we'll have the
stories of how 60 or so Marquette streets got their names,
plus give you the chance to win chocolate.
No, I'm, not kidding. I have a list of Marquette streets
that used to be named something different, and the chocolate
(Valentines chocolate, actually) will be given out as prizes
for people who know those names. So if you have the chance,
stop by tonight. And stop by here tomorrow for the stories
of some of those streets with different names!
Quick question--what do YOU do with your tax refund?
What do you mean, you DON’T buy a bunch of European
chocolate with it? Isn’t that what tax refunds are for?
Well. . .shows what I know, I guess.
I know I just wrote about chocolate yesterday, but I have to
mention it again today. We’ve received our refund and like
every year immediately paid a visit to a couple of our
favorite web sites including
Belgian Shop to stock up on
our collection of Galler, Ritter, Callebaut, and Cote D’Or.
Sure, we’ll be able to buy them in person in Belgium in a
few months, but what are we supposed to do until then? Go
Yeah, I know. One of these days we’ll turn in to
responsible adults. But don’t hold your breath waiting.
Actually, we use a very small percentage of our tax refund
for chocolate. Most of it goes to mundane things, like car
rental or travel insurance and Euros for our trips, but we
always manage to set aside a little for a small taste of
decadent goodness. After all, isn’t this the time of the
year that you need a little something like that? It’s been
mind-numbingly cold for several months, we haven’t seen the
sun for several months, and I can’t think of anything that
would serve as good of a remedy for that as would chocolate.
Well, okay, maybe a trip to Aruba would. But our tax refund
isn’t THAT big!
It’s always a joyous day in our apartment when the Belgian
Shop or the
German Shop box arrives,
with the possible exception of three or four years ago when
the Belgian Shop box arrived kind of wet. We have no idea
how that happened; we just know that moisture somehow leaked
into a plastic sealed box, and caused a lot of wrinkled
wrappers and water spotted chocolate. Oh, it didn’t stop us
from eating any of it, and it tasted just as good, but it
just wasn’t the same.
I know a lot of people complain about having to do their
taxes, but when you use part of your refund for goodies like
that, you actually look forward to filing them. Trust
Back tomorrow, and I promise it'll have NOTHING to do with
This is a representative sample of what my niece Mallory and
I had when we stopped by the Superior Alliance for
Independent Living’s Chocolate Festival in Marquette
yesterday. If you’ve never been to one of these shindigs
thrown by SAIL before, you really have to try one,
especially if you’re a chocolate junkie, which I obviously
am and which Mallory is on the road to becoming (and who
says uncles can’t be a good influence?)
Basically, at this event they have a bunch of food vendors
set up, each with a sample or two of their best chocolate
dishes, and you just walk around and sample them. I can’t
think of anything simpler (or more satisfying for a sweet
tooth), and yesterday’s may have been their best yet. One
of the things they ask of you is that you vote for “Best
Dish”, and we had a hard time choosing.
Among our favorites? Everything from a grasshopper mousse
inside of a dark chocolate shell to a mascarpone and goat
cheese chocolate soufflé to a raspberry chocolate cookie to
a dark chocolate and orange truffle (Sayklly’s, you rock!).
I was also tempted by a dark chocolate & red pepper caramel
that Donckers threw together, while Mallory really liked
Midtown Bakery’s Flourless French Chocolate Cake. In the
end, though, we both ended up choosing the same as best
dish, which was from Simply Superior, NMU’s catering outfit.
And the winner was? A chocolate olive oil cake pop, covered
in dark chocolate with a little frosted flower on top. It
was the first thing we actually tried, and we both had the
feeling that nothing would top it. And you know what?
We were both right!
It was an amazing event, showing just what a group of
talented (and community-minded) chocolatiers and bakers we
have in the area, and I even surprised myself a little at
the end when I said, and I quote, “I think I’ve eaten enough
chocolate for a couple of days”. I mean, I never thought
I’d say anything like that, if only because I never thought
you could actually consume enough of the good stuff to be
full of it. But thanks to SAIL and all the participating
vendors, I learned something new yesterday, and it was all
while doing something for a good cause.
Here, I thought I had made it all the way through the week
As I had mentioned Monday, I thought there may have been a
day or two this week when I would've had to give you a “best
of” or just plain blow you off. Those of you who read this
know the reason why; heck, it's just about the only thing I
write about these days (and for that, I apologize). Here, I
made it all the way to Friday without having to cheat, and
then what happens?
Yup. I have to go take care of a bunch of things and don't
have a lot of time to write. So close. SO CLOSE!!
However, I HAD to write something today. I could not let
this day go by without wishing a “happy birthday” to my
favorite old guy in the whole world. That's right; it's
When I mailed my dad's birthday card a couple of days ago
and actually addressed it to “Chicky-Poo Koski”, someone
asked how I had gotten into the habit of referring to him as
“Chicky-Poo” instead of something normal like “Dad” or
“Father” or “Sir” or “You know, that guy”. And in all
honesty, I have no idea whatsoever. I don't even know when
it started. I just know that one day, probably as a joke, I
must have called him “Chicky-Poo” and, for some strange
reason, it got stuck in my brain. I started referring to
him in that manner. Not all the time, and certainly not
when I'm actually having a conversation with him, but I
address his mail to him that way, I refer to him that way
when he wants me to tell Loraine something, and when talking
to my Mom on the phone, I'll ask her to tell “Chicky-Poo” I
I know; great son, right?
Anyway it's Chicky-Poo's (excuse me, my dad's) birthday
today, and I couldn't let the day go by without making sure
that everyone else knew it was his big day, too. Since he's
in Florida, I'm guessing he'll either be playing tennis or
going for a long bike ride (or both) before my Mom takes him
out for dinner. So have a great day, DAD. Enjoy the
weather, and enjoy all the attention for a few hours!
Slowly but surely, one by one, things are returning to what
passes for normal, just like I hoped and thought they
would. I'm actually writing this Wednesday afternoon in my
office on my new computer (a very nice machine at that)
while our new morning person, Jennifer Stephens, is learning
how things work around here by pushing all the buttons I
normally push in the studio.
You know, I could get used to this. I know better than not
to get used to it, but I sure could get used to it. Now, if
they could just get that stupid antenna problem fixed, we'd
be all set!
In another way, today's gonna be a bit of a milestone. I
wrote about doing a History Center program yesterday, and
today is also a big day regarding my involvement with that
It's my last ever board meeting with them.
That's right. When I joined the board back in 2004, it was
for a three year term, followed by another potential three
year term. Well, that was ten years ago, and seeing as how
I was supposed to be term-limited off the board four years
ago, we've decided that it's finally time for me to go.
Today's both a happy and a sad occasion. It's sad,
obviously, because I've spent the last decade on that board,
have met some wonderful people, and saw opportunities open
up for me that I never dreamed would open up (I mean,
c'mon—if you had told me a decade ago that we'd be joking
about something called a “Jim Koski ™ Walking Tour”, I
would've laughed so hard my brains would've come shooting
out of my nose). But it's also, I guess, a happy day for
the History Center, as they get new blood and new
leadership. There's a reason boards have term limits in
place—to keep a constant infusion of fresh ideas and energy
And it's time for me to go.
It'll be weird not being involved with the organization on a
regular basis, but as I was told when we decided I should
leave that, much like the Mafia, you never truly “get out”.
I'm still doing talks & tours for the place, plus I'm still
the “face” of the organization in that I appear on TV and
talk about everything that's going on. I just won't have
to sit through meetings or rally the troops around a vote.;
That'll be someone else's job.
At the beginning of the year I think I wrote something about
how 2014 is going to be a big year of change. This week, on
many different levels, has certainly proven that to be
true. We'll just have to see what the next 10-plus months
have in store.
If you said “Jim, I believe you’re doing another History
Center program”, then you’d be right on the mark. One week
from tonight I’m teaming up with History Center librarian
Rosemary Michelin to do a program entitled “What’s in a
Name”, the story of how many (but not all) of Marquette’s
180+ streets were named.
This was actually an idea of Rosemary’s, and somehow
(probably because I still have not figured out how to say
“no”) I was asked to help her out. She’ll be taking certain
parts of Marquette and I’ll be taking others and telling
short stories of the people, places, and things that were
the basis for street names in the city. She’ll also be
talking about some streets that never were, while I’ll be
talking about streets that have changed their names over the
For instance, did you know that Marquette once had streets
named Specular, Marble, Hendrie, and Hematite, among
others? They’re still around, albeit with different names.
But I’ll show modern-day proof that, if you know where to
look, you can still see vestiges of those names. Oh, and
I’ll also be giving out chocolate, too, if you know which
streets have been renamed. After all, we can’t have a
program without a contest and chocolate, right?
This is one of three programs I’ll be doing for the History
Center in 2014, even though this is the year I’ll be leaving
the board 10 years into my six year term (more on that three
weeks from today). The other two programs are Jim Koski ™
walking tours. The first is June 11th, the anniversary of
the fire that destroyed downtown Marquette in 1868. While
we won’t be burning down the city that evening (getting
permits for that would be a bear), we’ll be walking along
the route of the fire, seeing the toll that it took and how
it shaped the Marquette we know today. The other’s sometime
in July, and it’s actually a program I put together at the
last minute last year after the death of someone who was
supposed to put on another program. That one’s called the
“Other Side of the Tracks”, and talks about the
metamorphosis of a portion of downtown Marquette from the
center of things to a downtrodden area to be avoided to its
That’s one of those programs with everything from killers to
ladies of the night. You know, two of the three things that
make a Jim Koski ™ walking tour a Jim Koski ™ walking tour!
(And by the way, for those of you who don’t read this on a
regular basis, the phrase “Jim Koski ™ walking tour” is
actually a snarky joke on our part, which came about after
someone at the History Center started insisting that I
mention when I’m doing a program because, and I quote, “a
Jim Koski program is a little different than our usual
programs”. Ah yes, “a little different”. The story of my
Anyway, “What’s in a Name” is one week from tonight, the
12th, at 7 at the History Center. Hope to see you there!
Before I go have I to make mention of the fact that today’s
the day my favorite 14h year old in the world becomes by
favorite 15-year old in the world! That’s right; today’s my
niece’s Syd’s birthday. Like her uncle Jim, she loves
cherries and the beach (and knows how to fix her mom’s wi-fi
router), unlike her Uncle Jim, she’ll probably run the world
(or at least our little part of it) one day. So Syd, if you
have time between dance team and gymnastics today, have a
After reading yesterday’s entry several of you sent me
messages asking if I was doing okay in light of everything
that’s been happening the last few months (or the way the
Broncos played in the Super Bowl Sunday night). Yes, I am.
And I’m sorry if my venting yesterday caused anyone to think
Most of the messages were joking in nature; however, one of
the individuals who wrote wondered if the strain of the past
few months was starting to get to me. She said, and I
quote, “you’re always so positive about everything that I’m
starting to worry that things are getting to be too much for
you”. And that was sweet, and nice. I mean, not many
individuals are lucky enough to have other people care about
their mental health; like I’ve said many times in the past,
though, I’m just fortunate enough to be one of those people.
First and foremost—don’t worry. I’m doing fine. Sure, this
transmitter crap is a pain in the butt. And sure, in the
last few months I’ve pretty much had to single-handedly keep
a radio station on the air. But you know what? That’s all
temporary. Jen’s here, and once she’s up to speed she’ll
cut my workload down immensely. And you know what? One day
soon, some day soon, the weather will clear up and people
who know what they’re doing will climb our tower, fix
whatever needs fixing, and this will all start to recede
into the back of my brain to join things like, oh, the
memories of my bike accident and the two and a half years I
spent in Flint.
Which is where it all belongs.
If you had told me when this all started that it would’ve
gone on as long as it has and taken as many turns as it has
I would’ve scoffed. But you know what? Life’s always
throwing curveballs at us, and it’s how we handle them that
defines what kind of person we are. During this whole time,
I’ve always handled those curveballs by chuckling a rueful
chuckle to myself, a kind of “what else can happen”? chuckle
that is, I suppose, how I cope with a never-ending cascade
of “situations”. The phrase “it is what it is” is so
overused these days that I don’t want to invoke it, but I
can’t think of anything else that describes what’s happened
the past few months.
So, I guess, it is what it is.
Like I said, soon everything will be back to normal. Soon,
winter will end and spring will have sprung. Soon, I’ll be
able to look back on these past few months with a wry grin
and be thankful that I won’t have to deal with the
“situation” any more. And soon, you guys won’t have to
worry about my mental health, which was never much of a
worry to begin with, seeing as how any mental health I may
have had has been fleeting anyway!
But thanks for your concern. It’s always nice to know that
so many people care.
One month ago tonight something snapped in our transmitter
and, as a result, something snapped in my little world, as
well. For one month now, we've been operating at 1/1000th
of our usual transmitter power and for one month now, I've
been doing stuff on the air and having no idea if anyone
Isn't radio fun?
I'm not gonna go into any more technical details; after all,
I've subjected you guys to enough whining about this in the
month since it happened. But if you told me on the night of
January 3rd that we'd still be dealing with this problem on
the morning of February 3rd I would've thought you were
insane. Instead, I'm the one who's slowly going insane.
I can't tell you how many times a day people ask me when
we're coming back. I wish I knew myself. As you know, the
whole thing is dependent upon the weather, and as you also
know, the weather in the one month since it happened has
just sucked, and sucked royally. So I myself have no idea
when “normalcy” returns. I know a couple of weeks ago I
joked that it may be June; I'm getting this sinking feeling
in my gut that I have have been a little more prophetic than
I wanted to be when I said that.
Actually, all the troubles of the past month—the stupid
transmitter, my computer dying, and everything else that
hasn't gone according to plan—has had one positive side. So
something good HAS happened. You see, January is my least
favorite month of the year, for obvious reasons. I've been
so busy dealing with all this crap that January has now
flown by, not to be missed in any way, shape, or form. And
while I'm not a big fan (in any way, shape, or form) of time
flying by quickly, I think I'll make an exception in this
Let's just hope February's a little better than January.
After all, it has to be, right?
Do not be surprised if you see a couple of “best ofs” in the
next few days, as I have no idea what this week is gonna be
like. I should be getting my new computer in, which means
it has to get set up and put online. Our new morning
person, Jennifer Stevens, starts today, although probably
not on the air (after all, why start when there's no one to
listen?), and I have to do a lot of set up and training with
her. And who knows—maybe fate will shine kindly upon us and
something good will actually happen regarding our antenna.
So like I said, I have no idea what this week holds. I'll
keep everyone up-to-date as best I can, though!