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And tomorrow we leave for Europe.
As far as I can figure out everything is taken care of and
everything is ready to go. Loraine’s gone through her
checklist twice, and everything that’s on the list—a list
honed over a decade of these travels—is either packed &
ready to go, or it sitting on top of a suitcase, waiting to
get used one more time before it itself is then packed and
ready to go. Our passports are out, our Euros are counted,
and there’s just one thing left to do—
I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather over there, if only
because much of where we’ll be traveling has had a summer
like we’ve had—a pretty much non-existent one. And while it
does look to be a little cool (and perhaps a little wet) the
first few days we’re there, that’s not too much of a
surprise. We’ll be in Belgium then, and I think that with
the exception of one day every day we’ve ever spent in
Belgium has been a little cool & wet. In fact, a friend of
ours who lives there once claimed it rains 367 days a year
in Belgium, and although he may be exaggerating a bit
chronologically, he did so because, well, it’s probably
However, it looks like as we get into France next week
things start to turn a little more temperate, with the
long-range forecast calling for sun and temps in the 70s.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed, although I’m well aware that
long-range forecasts are notoriously unreliable—that’s why
they’re called “forecasts”, and not “this is what the
weather will be like with 100% certainty”. Still, after the
(lack of) summer we’ve had here, ANY sun and warm(er)
temperatures will be welcome.
(And just the thought that we’ll be getting back into
Marquette on September 7th, probably just in time to see the
leaves start to change and fall weather take hold, leaves me
with a pang of regret that summer (or what there was of it)
is now gone. But that’s a story for another day).
Now to the important stuff—you keeping track of what we’re
doing! There will not be anything posted tomorrow; part of
the day will be spent on airplanes, while the other will be
spent traipsing through downtown Chicago. We’ll get to
Luxembourg (via London) around noon local time on Thursday,
and then take off from there. So, unless things go horribly
awry, the first blog should be up mid-Thursday afternoon
Marquette time, either through a link that’ll be posted on
this page or through
our Blogspot site. If
we’re Facebook friends, I may also be posting a few things
as we’re waiting in Chicago and London. If we’re not
friends yet (and I hope it wasn’t something I said),
click here and make it so.
Well, that’s it. There doesn’t seem much left to do except
get through this day, grab a few hours sleep, and then stay
awake for 36 hours until we finally make it to Bastogne. It
should be quite the adventure, so wish us luck, and make
sure you keep checking in!
T-minus two days until we leave, and I can now finally
reveal my “secret”.
Over the past couple of months, I've mentioned that I'm
taking on an additional gig starting this fall, a gig that
will create a “TV Jim” to go along with the “Radio Jim” and
the “History Jim” we all know and occasionally love.
However, because the contracts hadn't been signed and the
details hadn't been totally formalized, I was asked not to
make it public. Well, now that the contracts HAVE been
signed and the details HAVE been formalized, I can now say
what my secret is.
I am the new host of “High
School Bowl” on Public TV-13.
Most of you may already know this; for a secret, I've been
approached by a LOT of people congratulating me on the gig.
I, however, had been asked to keep it hushed for a bit, and
I did. I think the people at Public TV were thinking of
putting together some kind of teaser campaign announcing who
their new host would be, but that didn't pan out. So it
looks like I get to tell you instead!
The gig came about because of both “Radio Jim” and “History
Jim”. As “History Jim” I've spent the last four or five
years doing little program segments at Public TV. And as
“Radio Jim” I'm always spouting off all kinds of trivial
facts that no one else would seem to know (or, for that
matter, care about). You put the two together, and there
you have it--”TV Jim”.
We start taping the season at the end of September, and the
first shows air in either late October or early November.
And while I'm looking forward to it and I'm sure it'll be a
blast, I also have to confess my relief when I found out we
could tape a dummy show or two before actual production
begins. After all, while I don't think I'll have any
problem whatsoever hosting the show, I do wanna rehearse a
little. I don't want my first show as host to be an actual
show, then have me do something stupid that causes a team to
lose out on something.
I have no problem making a fool out of myself, but if I do
that at someone else's expense...well, not so col.
Besides, the dummy shows will allow me to look at myself and
decide upon the great question we've all been pondering this
past month—whether or not I should cover up the gray in my
hair. This is kind of funny; after I wrote the blog about
it a month or so ago, every single person but one has
advised me to leave my hair like it is and not to be vain
about my age. The one person who wants me to color it?
My mom. And she probably just doesn't want to have anyone
know she's old enough to have a son with gray hair.
So that's the “secret” I've been carrying around for five
months now. All I can say is that it should be a blast!
T-minus five days until we leave for Luxembourg, and
tomorrow's the big weigh-in.
It's actually not a “big” weigh-in; I check my weight every
Saturday morning to see if I've gone up or down a few ounces
(or quite a few ounces) the previous week. The reason it's
a “big” weigh-in is because it's the last time I'll weigh
myself before we leave, so whatever I weigh tomorrow
provides the baseline to see how much weight I gain while
we're in Europe.
And if past experience means anything, I'll gain three
I'm not quite sure how I can gain three pounds in ten days.
I don't know if it's what we eat or the lack of strenuous
exercise (or both), but on each of, I think, our last five
trips I've come back three pounds heavier. It doesn't
matter if we do nothing but eat a lot of fresh baked goods
(like in Normandy in 2012) or if we do a lot of hiking &
climbing (like we did last year in Germany) but every time I
come back from Europe I come back three pounds heavier.
It's like a souvenir I don't have to pack!
Long-time readers of this know that two of those three
pounds aren't a problem. I always seem to lose the first
pound in the first few days, probably because I'm not eating
seventeen different kinds of fresh baked goods every day.
The second pound always seems to come off a week or two
later, probably because I'm back to my old exercise
routine. It's the third pound that's always a problem,
because for several of the years I've brought three extra
pounds back from Europe I've had a bear of a time getting
rid of that final pound.
It doesn't matter what I eat or how hard I exercise, that
third pound just hangs around. Several years, it's taken
until just before Christmas to lose it, which means that I'm
back at my average weight for a whole week or two until I
gain that extra pound back by eating too many Christmas
cookies and too much fudge. That's why I wish I could lose
that third pound earlier, if only to have more than a week
when I'm back at my fighting weight.
But what are you gonna do, right?
So I'll step on the scale tomorrow and I'll weigh either 156
or 157. I'll take a good long look at that number, because
if past experience holds, I may not see it again until my
birthday. You know...my birthday three weeks to the day
On that note, have yourself a great weekend. Hope your
scale's kind to you if you step on it!
T-minus six days and counting!
I'm not gonna write about our upcoming excursion today; I'm
guessing that you're getting kinda bored about that, and
bored rather quickly. Instead, I'll just offer this public
Look for your favorite dork in this Sunday's edition of the
I don't know how this happens; one day, I talk about old
sandstone structures, and pretty soon people think I'm an
expert on old buildings. Or at least enough of an expert on
old buildings to stick in a newspaper article. Yet that's
what's happening. There'll be a front page story in
Sunday's paper about old buildings in the U.P. and some of
the historical efforts to save them, and one of the
“experts” involved in the discussion will be me.
Yeah, I know. I'm laughing right now, too.
It's amazing how things like this work, but apparently it's
how they DO work. Ever since both incarnations of the “Lost
Buildings” show Jack Deo & I did for the History Center last
year I've had people use me as a resource on Marquette
buildings that are both old and new, still standing and long
destroyed. I apparently learned enough about old buildings,
and seem passionate enough about them, for me to be
considered (to paraphrase the movie “You've Got Mail”)
“Marquette's greatest living expert on old destroyed
Well, I guess everyone needs a niche, right?
I don't personally notice it, but every time I talk about
old sandstone buildings I get people telling me how
passionate and animated I get. And if I start talking about
“The Great Sandstone Purge” of the 60s and the 70s around
here; well, let's just say it's best you starting running
for the hills. I gave a downtown tour to several coworkers
of Loraine's a few weeks ago, and when I got to what used to
be where their current building now sits (a gorgeous old
sandstone structure)...I guess I can see how I might've
gotten a little passionate and carried away.
But it's sandstone? Why WOULDN'T I get a little passionate
and carried away?
So anyway, if you're glancing at Sunday's edition of the
Mining Journal and notice an article about old buildings,
don't be surprised if you see me quoted in there. And don't
be surprised if the quotes that get used involve, in some
way, sandstone. Apparently I can't help myself.
T minus one week and counting, and today we have a lesson in
how to re-purpose material!
As you're well aware, every time we head over to Europe I
write daily blogs about our adventures, complete with
pictures, that allow everyone who cares to see what's going
on. Before every trip I also write something explaining what
we plan on doing and what we hope to accomplish, and
stick it on the site.
Well, I've written this year's, and before I stick it up I'm
gonna post it here! I mean, I've already written it, so why
not use it; after all, it's that what re-purposing is all
about? Or, at the very least, laziness?
Anyway, you get to read it first. It's goes up on the trip
site later today. So enjoy!
This was the trip to Europe where we were going to Normandy
to get remarried. Unfortunately, several thousand horses
got in the way.
Welcome to another “Jim & Loraine European Adventure”, a
journey that marks several milestones for us. For me (Jim)
it’s the tenth anniversary of my first trip to Europe, while
for Loraine, it’s her tenth journey to one of our favorite
places in the world. And seeing as how this year also marks
our 25th wedding anniversary, Loraine had come up with a
cool idea—that we’d go to visit all of our friends in
Normandy and renew our vows. We even had the mayor of St.
Georges-de-Bohon looking into all the legalities of it.
And that’s when the horses got in the way.
Those of you who’ve followed along on these journeys know
that we have a limited window of time in which we can travel
every year, and that window usually falls around the Labor
Day weekend in the U.S. So as we were setting out to plan
our “Euroversary” trip we ran smack dab into something going
on at the exact same time in Normandy, the World Equestrian
Championships, a three-week long gathering of thousands of
horses (and their riders, and support staff).
Every single hotel we tried to book was either full or
charging several hundred Euros a night. Even the fine staff
at our usual home-away-from-home, the Bayeux Novotel,
couldn’t make it work.
So with those plans (and Loraine’s great idea of getting
re-married) thrown out the equestrian window, we (or should
I say mostly she) put together the excursion on which we are
about to embark. It’s chock full of WWII research projects,
rendezvous with old friends (along with the meeting of
several new ones) and a chance to buy chocolate in not one,
not two, but FOUR different countries.
And I’m thinking that ALMOST makes up for the fact that the
horses got in the way of our original plans!
Our journey starts in Luxembourg (where we’re arriving this
time around) and consists of several days in Bastogne,
Belgium, several in the wonderful town of Colmar, France (Click
HERE ) to read what I wrote the one day we were
there in 2011), and then a few nights here and there as we
slowly make our way toward Paris, from where we’ll heading
back to the States. Throw in a day trip to the Black Forest
of Germany, and there you have it—four countries (and four
different places to buy chocolate) in eleven days.
Sounds like a typical Jim & Loraine trip, right?
In Belgium, we’ll be focusing on several of Loraine’s
research subjects, including Elden Gjers, who’s the
“co-author” of her soon-to-be-released book “Elden’s True
Army Tales”. We’ll also meet up with Carl Wouters to see
what happened to Carl Swanson of Ishpeming during the Battle
of the Bulge. And we’ll be spending one of our days around
Colmar with our friends Olivier and Marie Rose Pernot; if
you read the Mining Journal about a year ago, you know that
Loraine and Olivier helped the Ritola family of Republic
find out where their brother and uncle George was killed in
That’s the war related stuff. We’re also planning on
visiting parks and recreation areas, strolling through the
beautiful streets of places like Colmar and Nancy and Troyes,
and (hopefully) will get to visit to the factory where they
make Jacques and Callebaut chocolates, among the best in the
world (yum). And just so the folks at home don’t think
we’re forgetting them, we’re also planning on checking out
Pont-a-Mousson, where a young French missionary named
Jacques Marquette was educated four and a half centuries
ago, and where a school (complete with statue) named after
him still exists.
Those are just the highlights. If this is like every other
one of journeys to Europe I’m sure many wonderful,
whimsical, and occasionally downright strange things will
also be happening. This will be your front-row seat for
each and every one of them. And who knows—maybe one or two
will even involve horses.
So get ready!
T minus eight days and counting!
Believe it or not, one of the weird decisions that you have
to make before heading to Europe (or at least one of the
weird decisions you have to make before heading to Europe if
you're me) is trying to figure out which camera to bring.
Yes, I realize it's a severely first world problem, but it's
always a problem nonetheless.
Here's the deal—I have two really nice cameras. One's an
Olympus digital camera with a 20x zoom on it, while the
other's a Nikon DSLR with extra lenses. The Olympus is a
smaller camera, which means that I can lug it around with
less effort than the Nikon. The Nikon, however, takes
amazing pictures, especially when I have the longest lens
attached to it. I mean, it's not like the Olympus takes bad
pictures; after all, here's just one of the amazing shots I
was able to get in Germany last year--
But I can do amazing things with focus and framing with the
Nikon that the Olympus just wasn't designed for--
So you can see why I have to make a choice. The good thing
is that I really can't go wrong either way. The bad thing
is that I actually have to make a choice.
And this year's choice is the smaller Olympus. Sure, I
might be sacrificing a little in the way of picture quality
and shooting versatility, but this is one of those trips
where I'll be doing the driving. That means I'll be hopping
in and out of cars to take pictures, and I'll be tossing
camera bags into the back seat once I've taken the picture.
I really don't want to do that with my big Nikon; heck I
really CAN'T do that with my big Nikon. But the Olympus is
small enough, and the bag in which I carry it padded enough,
that it makes perfect sense for a trip like this.
So the Olympus it is.
The Nikon, though, will get a workout next year when we head
back to Germany (with both sets of our parents) for trip
that's nothing but sight-seeing for 10 days. I won't have
to drive (Tony
the Tour Guide will be taking care of that) so I
can just sit back and do whatever I want with whichever
camera I want.
That, of course, is unlike this year, when it'll be jump
out, shoot and jump back in. Or jump out, shoot and toss
into the back seat, depending up the situation.
By the way, I don't know if you've read
THIS yet, but it's the
interesting tale of two Canadians stuck in Marquette over a
weekend. Check it out if you have the chance!
T minus nine days and counting!
I've had several people ask if I'm on track to get
everything done before we leave, and I'm happy to report
that I THINK I am, unless I'm forgetting something. Having
to fill in for our appendix-free office manager at work
hasn't helped, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I think
everything in radio-land should be finished by next Tuesday
evening, while I'm almost positive that everything at home
will be finished by the time that day ends.
So keep your fingers crossed!
In between everything else that's been going on, I've been
trying to brush up on my French, and it's with heavy heart
that I must report it's not going too well. I mean, I seem
to be retaining everything I retained before (at least in a
fashion), but I had hoped to learn a few new works and
phrases, and that's been the problem. I suppose trying to
sit down after a long day at work or trying to squeeze in a
few minutes before bed isn't the best way to brush up on a
foreign language, but that's all I've been left with
recently. Hopefully, all that French is actually sticking
somewhere in my brain, even if I don't realize it, and if I
need that word or phrase, it'll just pop out of my mouth.
It's happened before; hopefully, it could happen again.
So once again, keep your fingers crossed!
Finally, those of you who've read this over the years know
that one of my pet peeves about traveling is people who
shove their seat backs into my knees without even looking
back to see if my knees have room. Well, Conde Naste
Traveler magazine had an article
about how not to be an annoying flight passenger, and guess
what number four was!!!
<<Look behind you before reclining. We know you have the
right to recline, but sometimes, especially in smaller
planes, we’ve wanted to knife the person sitting in front of
us. If you're on the tall side—say, 6'2"—you may have had
situations where one minute you're working on your laptop,
and the next the laptop is under your chin; you couldn’t
type a word comfortably even if you had Tyrannosaurus arms.
Take a peek behind you and just make sure you’re not making
someone more uncomfortable than the comfort those few extra
inches will provide. That’s not too much to ask, right? By
the way, if someone does it to you, all bets are off. We
would feel no hesitation or guilt pushing on the seat to
access the bag at our feet. We hate to say fight fire with
fire, but sometimes it’s the only way.
Thank you, Conde Naste. I couldn't have said it better
myself, except to say that you don't have to be 6'2” to be
bothered by seat back reclining. Trust me when I say it's
bad when you're 5'10 1/2”, too!
You know, I really don't like doing this, but because I'm
(literally) the only person who'll be running two radio
stations later today, I have to get a bunch of stuff done
quite quickly (stuff I was hoping to do on another scheduled
half day today). So if you don't mind, I'm gonna leave you
with something I wrote four years ago. And you may be happy
to know that Loraine & I went back to Kohl's this past
weekend, and things really haven't changed much since then!
Have a great weekend; hopefully, one day soon, I'll be able
to join you in a few minutes of rest!
( as originally posted August 17th, 2010)
I don’t think I’ve ever seen two men more uncomfortable in
my whole life.
Saturday after Ore to Shore I went with Loraine out to
Kohl’s for one of our occasional epic shopping trips. She
needed jeans and tops for our upcoming trip to France, and
since I actually happen to like shopping for clothes
(especially women’s clothes, because I get to stand there
and be jealous of the colors, many of which I would look
great in but none of which ever seem to pop up in men’s
clothing) I was more than happy to tag along and play pack
And that’s how I noticed the two uncomfortable men.
Loraine found eight pair of jeans she wanted to try on. She
was also lucky enough to have found several tank tops and
t-shirts which she knew would fit, which means that while
she was trying the eight pair of jeans on, I stood outside
the dressing room holding the tank tops and t-shirts. I’m
fine with that; in fact, I was trying to see if I could fine
another top or two that would go with the tanks.
But not so with the two other guys, guys whose female
companions were also in the dressing room trying on clothes.
I first noticed them because they were, well, squirming a
lot. You could tell they didn’t want to be there in the
worst way. I’m guessing they probably would rather have
been getting a root canal from an unlicensed dentist than
standing outside a dressing room in the women’s department,
holding clothes their significant others were looking to
buy. As I watched them a little, I noticed their uncomfort
(if that’s a word) was so extreme that when they
accidentally made eye contact with each other, it wasn’t the
eye contact of brothers-in-arms. No, it was the eye contact
of shame, as one of them pretended he needed to check his
phone while the other turned and stared at the picture of
Lauren Conrad above some clothes she designed.
There guys were REALLY uncomfortable being where they were.
The “agony” of one of the guys was prolonged when his
shopping partner came out of the dressing room quite often
to ask his opinion on what she was wearing. Three times—and
I’m not making this up—he just mumbled “it’s fine”, and was
met by an exasperated glare on the part of the woman asking
I’m guessing they had a serious discussion about his
attitude when the shopping trip was done.
Uncomfortable Guy #2 just had to wait while holding a dress,
and I noticed that he did his best to try and minimize the
dress in several ways. He folded it over several times,
trying to hide it under his arm, and then stuck it up on a
rack so he wouldn’t have to actually physically hold it. It
was a good plan, until a store associate came by, noticed
the dress wasn’t where it was supposed to be, and tried to
put it back in the correct rack. That’s when Uncomfortable
Guy #2 finally had to ‘fess up and once again stand in the
women’s clothing section holding the dress.
There were both finally put out of their misery when their
significant others came out of the dressing rooms, freeing
them from the horror of being in a place where they didn’t
want to be, didn’t know how to act, and just plain didn’t
get. I just had to chuckle to myself; after all, would the
women they were with act so strangely if the guys spend some
time in a hardware store looking at hammers?
I don’t think so.
Men. Sometimes, they just make me laugh.
I have to go to work today.
Now, there's nothing really apocalyptic in that; after all,
I have to go to work most days. I was, however, planning on
taking the day off to take care of a bunch of pre-trip
chores. Unfortunately, our office manager is now minus one
appendix as of last night, which means that the day off
today will have to become a day off some time next week.
It's just been that kind of year, I guess.
And then, walking to work this morning, I did see something
that really may BE apocalyptic--
It's only mid-August, and the leaves of this tree—located
right behind my favorite lilac tree in all the world—are
turning red. The leaves didn't actually come out until late
May this year and now, less than three months later, they're
turning red and dying.
It's just been that kind of year, I guess.
I'm not a big believer in fate. I don't think that the
world is conspiring against me in some unseen way. I know
that matters both big & small ebb and flow; some days are
good, some days are bad. Some months are good, some months
are bad. I know that. Yet with everything weird that has
gone on so far in 2014, matters both big & small, a part of
me—admittedly, a very small part—is standing on the
precipice yelling “What the heck's going on?”
It's just been that kind of year, I guess.
So instead of focusing on everything weird that's happened
this year, I prefer to look ahead to signs that the natural
flow of things are trending more positive than negative.
After all, I'm going to Europe in 13 days. I'm wearing a
wedding ring again. Reggie Wayne is back playing with the
Colts. And an El Nino is forecast for this fall, which
means we should have a warmer (and dryer) than average
winter, which means that next summer might be an actual
Then, I won't have to use the phrase “It's just been that
kind of year, I guess”, any more. Keep your fingers
crossed. And try not to look at any tree leaves the next
It all starts two weeks from today.
Two weeks from today Loraine and I begin our latest journey
to Europe, and it's a journey that has a couple pieces of
significance to it—it's the tenth anniversary of my first
trip over there, while it's Loraine's tenth time making the
If you had told me the first time I went over that I'd be
going back, or that my dear wife would be making ten trips
(and counting) I would've thought that you'd eaten too much
of the blood sausage that's so popular across the Continent
(especially in Germany). But you know what? You've NOT
eaten too much of that sausage.
We're really going back again.
I've has several people ask me recently if I'm starting to
get excited about leaving, and almost to a person they're
disappointed when I say that it really hasn't registered
yet. And, in all honesty, it hasn't. I think I've been so
busy trying to get ready to go that the fact that I AM going
hasn't sunk in yet. It's been like this the past few years,
and I think it's just because we've gotten into this
routine. We know what we have to do and when we have to do
it, and that's how it rolls. I mean, I hope that's it.
Because I really dislike thinking that I've become blasé
about traveling to Europe.
This trip is more of a research trip than it is a
“vacation”, and it's gonna present a few things I've not
done yet, including driving in Belgium & Luxembourg. I'm
not too worried about it, although Belgium has this infamous
“priorite a droite” rule, which basically means that unless
a road sign tells you otherwise people coming from the right
have the right-of way. You could be driving on a modern
highway and if someone comes barreling up an intersecting
right-hand dirt road on a moped you have to stop for them.
That could be fun, although if it's like everything else
over there, I'll get used to it rather quickly.
At least I hope I will.
Overall, though, the whole trip should be a blast, between
seeing new places, getting together with a bunch of old
friends, and buying chocolate and cereal in four different
countries. I'm sure we'll come back with lots of new
stories, some great pictures, and suitcases bulging to the
limit with goodies. As always, you'll be able to follow
along; assuming, of course, I get our
Blogspot site up to date.
I guess that's next on the “to-do” list!
T minus fourteen days and counting. Get ready to go!!
What do you get when you combine my dear wife, a great new
cheese, a mind-blowing book, and Juice Newton?
You get a typical day in the Koski Komplex!
First of all, Loraine's finished the hardest part of her new
book—writing it! Sure, she needs to edit “Elden's True Army
Tales”, then get all the pictures together and the layout
set, but she's finished the writing part of it. Over the
past five or six weeks, she's been working very hard on a
final chapter, a chapter she hopes explains the reason
behind what she's doing. I KNOW how much effort she's put
into this, if only because sometimes I have trouble coming
up with one page of these things a day. Imagine what it's
like trying to put together an 80-page chapter in only 40 or
So way to go Loraine!!
We celebrated the milestone in a couple of different ways—by
Donckers to load up on
chocolates (yum) and by going to the
Marquette Food Co-op
to load up on cheese, and there's one cheese we tried that I
really have to recommend, their Lavender Jack Cheese. It's
a semi-creamy goat cheese with flecks of Lavender in it.
Yeah, I know. I had the same thought as you're probably
having right now. But you know what?
It works, and it works deliciously. If you have the chance,
definitely check it out!
Now, how does Juice Newton play into all of this? Well,
while we were enjoying the cheese, Loraine was also thumbing
through one of our Billboard music chart books and came
across the name Juice Newton. Since we had no idea if she
was even still alive (spoiler alert—she is, and is still
touring) we had to dig a little deeper, and that's when the
song “Queen of Hearts” got stuck in my head, and would not
Trust me—I've had MANY stupid songs stuck in my head over
the decades, songs that take up residence in my brain and
won't let go. But having Juice Newton's “Queen of Hearts”
stuck on auto-repeat in my sub-conscious?
No human being should have to go through that. Unless, of
course, you're Juice Newton (available to play your private
corporate gig, according to
her website !)
Finally, the book that blew my mind? It's called “Deep
Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth”, written by
paleo-climitologist Curt Stager. It's a fascinating read
about how climate change is re-shaping life and land on the
planet, and it had a concept that blew my (Juice
Newton-infected) mind. Stager says we should stop burning
fossil fuels by the year 2100 for two reasons, the first
being that if we keep burning them at the rate we're burning
them, we'll irreparably change the climate for the next
50,000 years. The other reason we should stop burning
fossil fuels by 2100?
To save some for future humans to start climate change all
According to Stager, 50,000 years from now, the planet's
climate will shake off the damage we've done to it and get
back to “normal”. Unfortunately, “normal” means things like
an occasional ice age or two. And in 60 or 70 or 100,000
years, what can humans (or our robot overlords, or whatever
replaces us) do to stave off the ice age? Take whatever
fossil fuels we've left them, start burning them like we've
been doing the past 200 years, and make the climate warm
enough to keep the ice at the poles.
Weird, right? But it makes sense, if only in a very
counter-intuitive way. Do what we're doing now, but do it
for good, instead of evil. I'm surprised no one's came up
with that idea before, if only for a big-budget Hollywood
But wow. Between that concept, lavender goat cheese, and
Juice Newton, it's amazing I'm even able to write today.
I think one of the ways in which I run has people a little
confused, but that's okay.
It took me a while to get used to it myself.
As you all know, I run three or four times a week, and each
time I go out I do something differently. One day, I may go
out and run up & down the hills of downtown Marquette.
Another time, usually on a Saturday morning, I'll go out and
run until I can't run any more. And then another day every
week, usually on Monday, I do something I've only been doing
for a year or so—intervals.
It may actually be the hardest run I have all week.
For someone who's run for 25 years now, intervals are a
little counter-intuitive, but they work. Here's the
deal—you either start out with a walk or a slow run. You
then run as fast and as hard as you can for 60 seconds. You
walk or slowly run for another 60 seconds, and repeat until
you drop dead. By doing that you really crank up your
metabolism, you build muscle (which is probably why I've
gained those two pounds of muscle recently), and you get
weird looks from people while doing it.
I do my intervals on various bike paths around Marquette,
just because I want to worry about stopping 40 or 45 seconds
into the interval for traffic. However, because I do my
intervals on various bike paths around Marquette, I find
myself running past other people who are walking, running,
or biking. And whenever they see me running as hard as I
can and then stopping, they get this “what the ___?” look on
their face. And that look is even worse when I pass them
while running, have them pass me while I'm walking, and then
I pass them again while I'm, uh, interval-ing.
And that's why I think one of the ways in which I run gets
people a little confused.
If I could, I'd stop and explain what I'm doing, if only
because enough people think I'm weird as it is. But because
you're supposed to do intervals one minute on and one minute
off, and because I really don't wanna end up in the Mining
Journal's Police Log (at least not for running), I just let
it go. Maybe by writing this someone will realize that I'm
NOT weird; I'm just trying to kill myself by running.
Okay; maybe that means I AM weird. But if you ever see me
run as fast as I can and then stop, and then do it all over
again, now you know why!
Because I'll be busy tomorrow at Ore-To-Shore I'm taking a
half day today, which means that I'll be at the beach in a
bit, which reminds me about a picture I took with my phone
while at McCarty's Cove yesterday--
I have no idea why someone built this little diorama-type
thingee of a tropical beach hut, but I found it quite
charming. I'm also thinking that if they built a few more
huts, added some palm trees, a wrecked ship, and a telephone
system made out of coconuts, they could make a miniature
version of “Gilligan's Island”.
But that's just me.
Okay; sorry to cut this short, but like I said the beach
awaits. If you have the chance tomorrow, check out one of
the mass starts of the Ore-To-Shore. I'll be announcing the
start of the Soft Rock race at Lakeview School in Negaunee,
and I HIGHLY recommend it. After all, when do you get to
see almost 1,000 bike riders in a mass race start. There
are so many riders, in fact, that it takes about five
minutes for all of them to ride past. It's an amazing
moment, and one that I think everyone in Marquette County
should experience at least once in their life.
So check it out if you have the chance. Otherwise, have
yourself a great weekend. I'm off to the beach!
Look what I get to wear again!
First of all, don't spend too much time gazing at the
freakishly small hands with its very girly-like fingers.
Instead, glance at just one of the girly-like fingers, the
ring finger, and you'll notice that after one year, two
months, two weeks, and five days, I get to wear a wedding
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Loraine and I
figured out that my fingers had sufficiently healed from my
bike accident to get a new ring, and a couple of weeks after
ordering it it came in yesterday. The reason it took so
long? As I mentioned, I don't have very manly fingers, and
the great people at
Wattsson & Wattsson had to special order
it in the smallest size possible. So if it looks a bit
strange, it's not the fault of the ring. The ring is
great. The ring is, to my eyes, perfect.
It's the fault of my ring finger.
In the weeks since Loraine bought me the ring I had
mentioned it to a couple of (married) women I know, both of
whom lamented the fact that their husbands don't often seem
very keen (for whatever reason) on wearing their rings. A
couple of years ago, I probably wouldn't have thought much
about that; however, in the one year, two months, two weeks,
and five days that I didn't get to wear a ring I found out
something I never would've thought.
I actually missed wearing a wedding ring.
Oh, it wasn't anything that kept me up at nights, nor was it
anything I devoted more than a few fleeting seconds of
thought to. But there are times when I did miss it, and
that really came to the fore when Loraine was checking in
the hospital for her little gall bladder adventure and gave
me her wedding ring to take care of. Because I have such
girly fingers and didn't have anywhere else to put it, I
just stuck it on my finger.
And that's when it hit me. I missed wearing my wedding
Now, I have my new ring, and since Loraine knew what she
wanted to buy me (specifically, something I couldn't bend,
break, or otherwise abuse) I'm hoping it'll last me a long,
long time. After all, I kinda missed wearing it, and in the
words of a wise old sage (or, at least, the members of
Motley Crue), “you don't know what you got 'til it's gone”.
I wonder if I'm starting to run out of ideas.
No, seriously, I think I may be running out of ideas. Three
times in the past two weeks I’ve sat down to write one of
these things, and as I was in the midst of doing it, I
started to get this creeping sensation in the back of my
head that I’d written about this very same topic before.
When a quick search of past blogs turned up key words
showing that I had written about the same topic before,
sometimes just a few months ago; well, that’s when I started
to think that I’ve started to run out of ideas.
And I’m thinking THAT’S not a good thing.
I’ve written over 2,600 of these things now. And in the
course of writing over 2,600 little essays, you’re bound to
cover one or two topics twice. After all, when you’re
writing about your life, people you know, and things you
see, the same topics and themes will pop up over and over
again. But to have it happen three times in two weeks, and
not even be aware of it until this nagging little thought in
the back of your head tells you to check on it...well,
that’s cause for concern.
Or, at the very least, a long hard stare of curiosity.
I try not to write about the same things over and over
again; after all, I don’t want you (or my typing fingers) to
get bored. I’m always on the lookout for something new
about which to write, and I’m fortunate in that respect
because I seem to have this bizarre talent for noticing
strange things that most people just pass by. And I’m also
fortunate in that respect because I live and work in a place
that presents many opportunities for noticing strange
things. Yet, apparently, I’ve either noticed everything
there is to be noticed or I’ve stopped noticing really
strange things, because when you find yourself repeating
yourself as often as I have recently...
In one way, I’m glad I’ve noticed this problem, because I’m
now aware of it, and I can take whatever steps are necessary
to minimize the situation. I’ll just have to take a little
more care, and with any luck, we can get through another
2,600+ blogs with a minimum of repetition.
Of course, now that I’ve said that, I also have to say
this--tomorrow, I write about something I’ve written about
before. But with a new twist. So stay tuned!!
I failed in my task, and it's all because Marquette is too
Since I'm leaving for Europe in just over three weeks, and
because I really haven't been taking many pictures during
(what passes for) the summer this year, this past weekend I
figured I'd grab a camera and go shoot stuff. And for some
bizarre reason, I had a theme in mind. I wanted to shoot
“Post Industrial Urban Grunge”; you know, old stuff that's
left over from what a neighborhood or a city was like 50 or
70 or 90 years ago. I figured it wouldn't be too hard to
find, especially around downtown Marquette, because I know
what used to be where. I know the history and the layout of
downtown Marquette like the back of my hand. But you know
I really couldn't find much anywhere.
And it wasn't for lack of trying. Like I said, I know where
the bodies were buried (literally) but over the past 10 or
so years so much of downtown Marquette has been, well,
gentrified that there aren't many examples of Post-Urban
Industrial Grunge left any more.
Marquette's just too pretty there days!
I mean, I DID come away with a few examples of what I was
looking for, but I had to do things like climb fire escapes,
crawl around in the dirt, and get REALLY friendly with a
couple of dumpsters. So what did I come up with?
I actually had to head west from downtown to find what I was
looking for. The first was one of my favorite
Post-Industrial places in Marquette, the 1948 train station
and the 800-foot long slab of cement that was once the
passenger platform for boarding and unboarding; that's what
you see below--
However, it took another quarter mile to find what I was
looking for , about the only REAL piece of Post-Industrial
Urban Grunge that I could find—the remnants of the old
For some reason, this really reminds me of World War II
ruins we see all across Europe. And we may not be able to
see it much longer. If Duke Lifepoint chooses the
Roundhouse property as the new site for Marquette General,
I'm sure the one remaining real piece of Post-Industrial
Urban Grunge will soon be gone.
Like I said, it's not necessarily a bad thing. It just
means, I guess, that Marquette cleans up after itself. And
that I need to have different targets of things to shoot
next time I wanna go out and take some pictures!
With a nod to the late Bob Talbert of the Detroit Free
Press, I'm gonna moan a little on this Monday!
First of all, a picture of a sign at Marquette's South
There's nothing really ambiguous about the sign, right?
Especially about how dogs must stay on a leash? I mean,
it's underlined in red, so you'd think it's kind of
important, wouldn't you? So if that's the case, how come
almost every time I go to South Beach I either get run into
by a dog on the loose or I'm lucky enough to be walking on
the very part of the beach where a dog comes running out of
water and shakes itself dry, depositing all of the water
formerly on its body onto me?
I know I complain about dog owners in here a lot, but I also
know that about 95% of dog owners follow the city's laws to
a “t”. And I certainly do appreciate that. If I could
thank each and every one of them in person, I would. It's
the other 5% about whom I'm complaining. In fact, when I
pointed out the sign to a lady who let her dog jump out of
an SUV and onto the beach unleashed, all she said was, and I
quote, “oh, that's okay”.
No, it's not. It's the law. Try following it every once
Speaking of the people who make the laws some of us try to
follow, I had to laugh the laugh of the ironic when watching
the three-ring circus that the current U.S. Congress has
become last week. Actually, I only had to laugh that laugh
at one half of the current Congress, as one day the U.S.
House sues the President for using Executive Orders, and
then the next day, when they can't pass a bill dealing with
the current refugee crisis along the Mexican border, tell
the President that he should deal with it himself using
I mean, I realize politics and the politicians who practice
the “art” are hardly ever logical, but even for politics
that's over the top. It's no wonder the current Congress
has an 11% approval rate
(And just as an aside, how can 11% of Americans think the
current Congress is doing anything worthy of approval,
especially after stunts like that?)
Finally, I have to mention Charter, who's in the middle of
conversion to an all-digital system. Good for them, and
good for their customers, of whom I'm one. I look forward
to seeing all the new things they have to offer. Here's
what I don't get, though--
To get the new digital Charter cable, you'll need a digital
set-top box. I've had it in one form or another for, I
dunno, 10 or 12 years now. And I'm guessing Charter is
aware of that, seeing as how I pay a fee for it every
month. So then how come, every evening when I turn my
digital box on, it has been redirected to a channel running
a video telling me I need a digital box? No, I DON'T need a
digital box, because I already have one, the very same
digital box Charter keeps redirecting to the channel telling
me I need a digital box.
Sigh. If only humans were more, you know, logical.
Okay; I'm done moaning now. I'll save the rant about the
license plate I keep seeing for another day. Bet you can't
Now that August has rolled around I've come to the stunning
conclusion that, despite what I told my sister and brother
when I was young, I really DON'T know everything.
You know how I found out? Well, Loraine and I get these
catalogs from a
company that sells overstocked books.
They’re actually useful; you can often find yourself with
$100 worth of books for something like $15 plus 3 bucks
shipping. In fact, we’ve ordered so many books that I have
15 or so lying around unread, while Loraine’s stack is more
like 35 or 40 strong (and growing).
But we didn’t order anything out of the newest catalog.
The new catalog was one specializing in science. And while
both Loraine and I considered ourselves rather intelligent
people, and I at one time had convinced my siblings that I
really did know everything, two books and their descriptions
just blew our minds. The first was entitled “Bose-Einstein
Condensation of Excitons and Biexcitons: Coherent Nonlinear
Optics with Excitons”. It’s described with these wonderful
words—“After setting out the relevant basic physics of
excitons, the authors discuss exciton-photon interactions as
well as behavior of biexcitons. They cover exciton phase
transitions and give particular cover to nonlinear optical
effects including the optical Stark effect and chaos in
excitonic systems. The thermodynamics of equilibrium,
quasi-equilibrium, and non-equilibrium systems are examined
And no, I’m not making that up. The title and description
are straight from the catalog, as is the other title and
“Nonlinear Statistical Modeling”—Brings together important
contributions by leading econometricians on parametric
approaches to qualitative and sample selection models,
nonparametric and semiparametirc approaches to qualitative
and sample selection models, and nonlinear estimation of
cross-sectional and times-series models.
Once again, gulp.
Now, me being me, I’m thinking two things—the first being
“just who reads these books, anyway?” Physicists and
mathematicians, of course, being the obvious answer. And
who knows—they may find them a hoot. And that then leads
into the second thing. . .
What are those books titles—punch lines for jokes on “The
Big Bang Theory”?
Of course, I’m sure that the people for whom these books are
intended would look at two of the books I just received from
the company—“Great Comedy Teams of the 30s & 40s” and
“Living Abroad in France”—and have the letters “WTF?” pop
into their heads. Of course, knowing them, the letters
would probably pop up in Latin or Sanskrit or Klingon or
something, but they’d still pop up.
To each their own, I guess.
But if ever find yourself thinking that, at least in your
own little corner of the world, you know everything, walk
into the science section of a bookstore or check out a
catalog like the one I just described. You’ll find out just
how much there is left for you to learn!
And on that note, go have yourself a great weekend. Heck,
even go ahead and read a science book, if you'd like!
It may take some time, but the ripples eventually hit the
Loraine has this theory, developed over her 13 or 14 years
of doing research on World War II, and she calls it “The
Ripple Theory”. The theory is this—that you “throw” stuff
out there into the big pond of the world, stuff like
questions, information, or contacts, and like throwing a
rock into the water, the ripples from your “stuff” may
eventually hit the shore. You never know when it may hit
the shore; heck, you never know IF the ripples will hit the
shore. But over the years we've had enough “ripples” come
back to us that I think the theory is a valid one.
And it was proven true again earlier this week.
Tuesday morning I received an e-mail from an 86-year old
woman in The Netherlands. This woman, for over 60 years,
has been tending the grave of a fighter pilot from Marquette
named John Hascall. All these years she's not known much
about Hascall, but for Christmas she received a iPad, and
has been using it to see if she could dig up some
information on him. Well, if your type the named “John
Hascall” into Google, one of the items that pops up is the
blog I wrote for the trip
Loraine and I took to Europe in 2008, the trip that saw us
stopping at the Margraten American Cemetery in Holland and
visiting the grave of Lt. Hascall.
So when you look at it that way, the blog I wrote was an
example of one of Loraine's “ripples”, and it took a mere
six years to reach the shore.
Like I said before, we've had this happen on a number of
occasions the past decade. Most of the times, though, it
occurs right after I write a blog about one of her dudes or
the newspaper writes a story about Loraine. But this
instance is by far the longest it's take a “ripple” to reach
the shore; heck, until I received the e-mail, I had kind of
forgotten I had written blogs about our 2008 trip. As it
turns out, it was the first time I wrote the blogs, and
they're on the station site instead of
our usual Blogspot site,
which kind of led me to forget about them. However, while
Loraine was trying to answer the e-mail last night I had a
chance to re-read what I wrote, and you know what?
I don't suck, as least as far as writing about trips go!
I don't know what will come of this latest “ripple”.
Loraine's in the process of making contact with the van der
Venne-Habets family. If it's like most of the ones we've
run across in the past, though, it could be quite
interesting. It just makes me what OTHER “ripples” are
still out there, lurking about and yet to reach the shore.
After all, you never know!
And four weeks to the day until we leave for Europe!
For whatever reason, I’m actually farther ahead at work than
I normally am. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve finally
figured out what I’m doing, or if it’s because this year has
sucked so much weather-wise that I couldn’t go outside and
play, forcing me to stay inside and work, but I’m at a very
comfortable point in working ahead to leave.
But that’s a good thing.
I think I may have mentioned in here before about how when I
go on vacation, I have to work ahead to be able to go on
vacation. Because I have such a specialized job, I can’t
just slough it off on my coworkers, or wait until I‘m back
from vacation to deal with it. It has to be done before I
leave, and it has to be done by me. So every year we go
overseas, I know that starting in May, I have to begin
And it looks like it’s working out.
Aside from the stuff I need to do here, I still have a list
of things that needs to be accomplished outside of work, and
one of those is getting
our trip Blogspot site back
up to speed and ready to go. I also have to confirm hotel
reservations, get directions for all them (since we're going
to places in which I've not yet driven, I'd kinda like to
know where I'm going), and take care of a bunch of little
things that range from getting an International Driving
Permit to checking out the location of grocery stores where
we can stock up on chocolate.
Finally, I’m also starting to review my French. I learn
just enough to be useful before we go on one of these trips,
and then (invariably) forget what I've learned, especially
if it's been a couple of years since we were last in
French-speaking territory. And since our entire trip this
time IS in French speaking territory, I'd better get
cracking. One of the things I'm leafing through when I have
the chance is the huge 800 page French-English dictionary we
bought a few years ago. It’s a cool book, if only because
it has a section in the middle with phrases that
English-speaking people going to France or French-speaking
people going to the U.S. or the U.K. can use. And it’s
there that I made an interesting discovery, one that
probably speaks to a major difference between French people
Did you know that, in French, there is not an equivalent to
the phrase “All you can eat”? Nope, there’s not a French
translation for that. They actually use the English words
“All you can eat” because, apparently, the French and their
language can’t fathom the concept of “All you can eat”. And
if THAT doesn’t speak to a major difference between the two
cultures, I don’t know what does.
Amazing what you can learn while you’re getting ready for
something, isn’t it?
Four weeks to go!
The skunks are back.
Those of you who’ve been reading these ramblings since the
days of the dinosaurs may remember that when Loraine and I
moved into our current apartment we discovered two
things—that drunk college students can make a lot of noise,
and that, for some strange reasons, skunks seem to like our
tightly packed little urban neighborhood. At least once a
week for the first few years we lived here we would be
treated to that olfactory wonder known as skunk spray
wafting through the buildings, not a very nice treat when
it’s warm out and you want to leave your windows open to let
in a little air. Then a couple of years ago when road
construction tore apart our neighborhood, the skunks seem to
disappear. We had hoped it would be for good...
Unfortunately, it was not.
Several nights ago I awoke around 3 am, and for a second
wasn't sure I was awake. After getting up, going over to an
open window, and inhaling, I then knew WHY I was awake.
Needless to say, the windows were shut quickly, but the
stench lingered in the air waaaaay too long to get back to
sleep. I don’t know where the skunk was, or if it emptied
its entire, uhm, bomb bay, but that smell was strong, and it
wasn’t going away. Thankfully, by the next morning, it had
disappeared, but in the few days since it happened again. I
guess the one good thing about the current cold snap is that
our windows were closed and the smell didn't penetrate too
far into our apartment, but it was still strong enough to
wake me up.
I have no idea why (or how) skunks like our neighborhood.
Like I said before, it’s a very tightly packed urban
neighborhood; the houses are right next to each other, there
aren’t a lot of big yards or trees, and there’s more
concrete than grass & dirt. If I had to pick out one
residential section of Marquette where I would guess skunks
wouldn’t like to go it’d be ours. But apparently there’s
something magical in our little section of the city, and it
keeps drawing those wonders of nature back time and time
Aren’t we lucky?
I have no idea if this was a one-time incident, or if some
kind of skunk real estate agent is telling the little
creatures that our neighborhood is the new “must move into”
neighborhood for hip skunks. I’m certainly hoping it’s the
former; after all, I don’t want to have to deal with this on
a nightly basis. You can shut noisy college students out
with earplugs. I have yet to figure out anything that keeps
the smell of skunk out of your nose.
Yum. Or yuck, depending up on your point of view.
I can finally check
my Facebook news feed
whenever I want again.
Over the past three weeks I've had to avoid any sort of
social media between the hours of 8am and, say, 10pm, the
time I finished watching the
Tour de France race from
that particular day. I avoided social media because, well,
I didn't want to know who won that day's race. Call me old
fashioned, but on occasion I actually enjoy watching a movie
or a sporting event and NOT knowing how it's gonna end.
I know; freaky, isn't it?
At first I thought I could just turn off a few news sources,
such as BBC News or any of the
French TV networks that I
follow, but after being burned on two of the stages by
people I know talking about what happened during the race
that I DVR'd while I was at work, I just decided not to pay
any attention to Facebook until I had watched that day's leg
and could safely venture back into the real world. And you
know what I discovered?
I really didn't miss it that much!
I don't know if that says something about me or something
about Facebook (or both), but my life didn't implode because
I wasn't staring at my news feed. I don't think I missed
out on anything important, and even if I did miss out on
something it couldn't have been THAT important, right? So
surprise, surprise...you CAN live a life without social
Especially if you have something like not knowing who won
that day's leg of the Tour de France to look forward to!
Two quick follow-ups from stuff we discussed last week.
First of all, I promised I'd let you know just how many
different license plates I saw during the week last week.
Well, you'll be happy to know that for the first tie ever
the total hit 40! Yup; 37 states, the District of Columbia,
and two Canadian provinces. If you ever needed proof that
Marquette's becoming more and more of a tourist destination,
there it is.
Case sealed and shut.
Finally, I think it's kind of funny that not one, not two,
but three of you sent me notes about gray hair and all
mentioned the same example I should follow! Last Thursday,
of course, I joked about “TV Jim” wondering if he should
color his hair to get rid of the growing patches of gray,
which prompted a lot of mail, three pieces of which pointed
to the same example about going gray, and saying that if
it's good enough for George Clooney, it's good enough for
You know, that may be the first time I've been compared to
George Clooney, and I'm guessing it may be the last, as
well. But thanks for the notes and the comments. As
always, I appreciate them, and as always, I do take them to
I wonder if I could make a living at it?
Earlier this week when I was out on one of my usual
half-days and wandering around Marquette 5 different people
stopped to ask me directions or to ask where something was.
That’s not unusual; when Loraine and I are out walking, we
get that quite a bit. I don’t if we just look approachable
or like we know what we’re talking about or what, but it
happens quite a bit. Not only that, but if we happen to be
passing a tourist commenting on a local sight, we’ll give
them a little local color, fill them in on what they’re
seeing, and usually walk away with “thanks” and seeing a big
smile on their faces. Add into all the tours I’ve given
this summer (with more to come), and it has gotten me to
Could I make a living doing that?
Don’t worry; I’m not quitting any time soon. It’s just that
every once in a while I think to myself about how great it
would be to spend my days walking around Marquette, helping
people who are visiting the area, and educating anyone who
wants to be educated about what they see in front of them.
I could take them on walking tours, biking tours, and any
other kind of tour they’d like. Aside from beach bum, if I
could have a dream job, that might be it. Of course, I
realize that, as with being a beach bum, there’s probably
not much money in being friendly to tourists, but a boy can
always dream, right?
And besides...it wouldn't matter if I had gray hair for that
job, would it?
Speaking of tourists, I’m doing that dorky thing I do every
year during the week leading up to Art on the Rocks. I’m
seeing how many license plates from different states I can
see in Marquette in that one week. So far, in just four
days I’ve seen plates from 38 different states, which is
more than all but one year I've been doing this (something
like 15 years, believe it or not). I don't know if that's a
sign (along with things like unemployment figures and the
like) that the U.S. Economy has FINALLY recovered from The
Great Recession, or if Pat and the gang at the
Marquette Country Convention &
Visitors Bureau have just been doing a bang-up
job this year (or both), but it's nice to see.
Another weird thing I've noticed so far? There seems to be
a nice mix of plates from both “blue” states and “red”
states. During an average year, I see more plates from
“blue” states, but not this year. It's a nice mix, and
maybe it's a sign that outside of the political world we all
get along just fine...especially if we're reveling in the
beauty of Marquette!
Speaking of Art on the Rocks, I’ll be there broadcasting
Saturday, so if you’re around, say “hey”. And Monday I'll
update the final number of state license plates I see,
because I KNOW you're dying to find out what it is, right?
Otherwise, have yourself a glorious U.P. (or wherever you
are) weekend. And try not to let the weather forecast for
Sunday scare you off!
I'm self-aware enough to know that I don't really have much
of an ego. So then why am I thinking about coloring my
Those of you who've read this for a long time know that
there are two public “Jims” out there. There's “Radio Jim”,
and then there's “History Jim”. And as I've been
insinuating the past few months, there will soon be a third
“Jim”, this one “TV Jim” (and as an aside, one day I'll be
able to tell you all about this...I promise!). And that's
the “Jim” that's made me think, however fleetingly, about
coloring my hair.
For someone my age (and you may now make a snide comment
along the lines of “You mean there actually IS someone your
age?”, because I know you want to) I'm really lucky. I
still have most of my hair, and I can thank my mom for
that. After all, while my dad starting losing his hair in
his 20s, my mom has incredibly thick hair, and thankfully
her genes dominated in that particular area.
However, my hair has not totally escaped the ravages of
time. I do have gray popping out around my ears, and if you
were to pull back the top layer of black (ish) hair anywhere
else on my head you'd see nothing but gray. That was
readily apparent last night when I got my hair cut and saw
nothing BUT gray (mixed with a little black) lying on the
floor. It was also apparent when I went to a funeral over
the weekend and the first thing someone said to me was, and
I quote, “It looks like the color gray is taking over your
Why, yes it it. Thanks oh so much for noticing!
Normally I wouldn't give a rat's behind about whether or not
I have gray hair on my head. If I was at all bothered by
the fact that I have gray hair, I would've colored it a long
time ago. However, that's before I found out I was going to
be on TV each and every week, on a show that apparently
quite a few people watch. And while I still don't give a
rat's behind about whether or not I have gray hair on my
head, “TV Jim” just has to wonder a little bit—in a strictly
professional sense, of course—whether or not coloring would
be a good thing. After all, “TV Jim” doesn't want people
staring at his very tiny head, noticing that gray hair is
sticking out everywhere.
For purely professional reasons, you understand.
I have no idea what I'm gonna do. I suppose it might come
down to those days when we do camera tests and show
run-throughs and I actually have to look at myself on a TV
monitor (something I'm usually not big on). So starting in
October, if you see me with gray in my hair, you'll know
that the “real” Jim won out. However, if you don't notice
much (if any) gray, then you’ll know that “TV Jim” had the
upper hand this particular time.
know—the real one!
The boxes arrived four years ago today.
Yup; it was four years ago today that I drove out to
Negaunee, picked up Loraine (where she worked at the time)
and then went on to Ishpeming, where we ended up at
Globe Printing and picked
up the first press run of Loraine's book “Elwood's
It's hard to believe it was four years ago.
Since then, the book's been through three printings, it's
made us a load of new friends and acquaintances, and has
been read throughout the world, including at least three
different countries in Europe. It's also opened doors for
us in those countries, mostly famously last summer when we
spent the day as the
honored guests of the people and city government of
I've written in here many times about how proud I was of
Loraine, and how the book was nothing more than a labor of
love for her, and that still stands. And now she's going
through the exact same thing as she races to finish her next
epic, “Elden's True Army Tales” (coming soon to a local
bookstore near you). In fact, when Dennis Whitley and I did
the Story Corps thing Monday and talked about history, a big
chunk of what we talked about was Loraine and her books.
In case you couldn't tell, I kinda like bragging about her
and what she's done!
The life cycle of a book like “Elwood's War” is kind of
funny. When it first came out, she sold a bunch of them.
Then when the first holiday season after publication rolled
around, she sold another ton. It slacked off since then,
but it still has these little “runs”, and we have no idea
why. A couple of months ago she brought nine copies down to
Bookworld in Marquette, where they sat for a few weeks. We
then went in, and found that five of the copies had been
sold within another few weeks. I don't know anything about
how the publishing or book selling world works, but that
sounds strange even to me.
And that's saying something!
I have a feeling that the few copies of “Elwood” that remain
(and that's about 10 in total) will be gone once “Elden”
comes out, but that'll be a good thing. Because that means
every single copy of Loraine's first labor of love will have
good homes, where they will be appreciated and read. And
for a book like hers, that's all you can ask.
I will soon be wearing a wedding ring.
Oh, don’t worry; there’s nothing nefarious afoot. Loraine
and I haven’t really NOT been married these 25 years, nor
was there been some kind of mix up in the paperwork back in
1989 that didn’t allow me to wear a ring. In fact, for the
first 23 and a half years of our marriage, I did wear a
And then came my little bike accident.
As you may recall, one of the many victims of my little
crash last year (along with a front tooth, a bunch of my
skin, and most of my pride) was my wedding ring. It had to
get cut off the day after the accident, when my finger
swelled so much that it had to come off lest I do some major
damage to the finger (I still bear quite the scar on the
finger where the ring cut into it, in fact). Of course, by
then the ring wasn’t really in good shape; it had been
scratched beyond belief by the accident, plus it had been
bent, mangled, and otherwise abused during the 23 and a half
years I did wear it.
So the loss of the ring was more sentimental than practical.
In the 15 months since the accident I’ve not worn a wedding
ring, and I’ve noticed two things about it. One is that
I’ve gotten used to not wearing one, which I guess isn’t a
big deal. After all, I know other married people who don’t
wear them. But whenever I see Loraine fiddle with hers, or
take it off for whatever reason, I get reminded that I don’t
have one. And while I always thought things like that
didn’t matter to me; well, I guess that in this instance
The second thing I’ve noticed? Not one person in those 15
months has commented that I’m not wearing a wedding ring.
And I find that strange. In the 23 and a half years I wore
a wedding ring, I had many people ask why I was wearing it
on my right hand instead of my left hand. But not once in
the 15 months that I wasn’t wearing one did anyone ask why I
was without it.
That’s no big deal. I just thought it strange.
So while we were out & about Saturday Loraine and I stopped
Wattsson and Wattsson
so she could buy me a new ring. She had wanted to buy me a
new one since the old one was cut off, and this past weekend
e finally got around to it. She had very specific
instructions for the person helping us out—it had to be
tough & durable (apparently she thinks I might abuse it; I
have no idea why she thinks that 8-)) and it had to be
something I like. After spending just a few seconds looking
we found it—a titanium ring in silver that works in many
different ways. It’s tough, it’s durable, and it looks to
me like it’s the gravity ring from a fictional space
station. Not only that, but I can go around and, like Lt.
Dan in “Forrest Gump” when showing off his prosthetic leg, I
can say, “It’s made from the same material as the space
Because it is. Even if the space shuttle’s (sadly) not
around any more.
Since I have such girly-sized fingers, we had to special
order the ring. It should, though, be here in a week or so.
Then I can then slip my new wedding ring on, and, like for
the first 23 and a half years of my life, abuse the heck out
of it, should I choose. But this time, it’ll endure.
Just like me & Loraine.
The suitcases came out over the weekend.
With the countdown standing at T-minus five weeks and four
days before we leave for our latest little adventure, we
figured it was time to go down into the basement, brush
aside all the dust and cobwebs, and pull out our luggage,
safely encased in plastic to keep them clean of all the dust
and cobwebs that seem to inhabit basements. We hauled them
up to our living room and left them sitting there, where
over the next month and seven days we’ll stumble into them
many times, and they’ll slowly be filled with everything
needed for a week and a half in Luxembourg and Belgium and
Actually, if you want to be technical, the suitcases are
already kind of filled with many things needed for a week
and a half in Luxembourg and Belgium and France. When I
opened my suitcase, I was amazed by the stuff I had just
left in there from the last trip. There were several
plastic containers (used to safely transport chocolate and
cereal), half a roll of bubble wrap (to safely wrap the
chocolate before it gets put into the aforementioned plastic
containers), various other non-plastic containers, a roll of
duct tape, two unused washcloths, and an unopened package of
Throw in a few shirts, some shorts, and a toothbrush, and
I’m already packed. 38 days before we leave!
Well, okay, maybe not TOTALLY packed, but with the stuff we
picked up at Target last weekend, I’m way ahead of
schedule. We usually go to Target the week before we bring
the suitcases up and raid their section of travel-sized
items. We pick up whatever toiletries, medicines, and
personal care items we need and pack them in the plastic
containers. Then the last night of the trip we toss
whatever we haven’t used and/or won’t need, clean out the
containers, and repack them with chocolate and other
goodies. That way, we don’t go over our suitcase weight
limit and have to pay a zillion dollars, and we get all of
our stuff safely home.
Of course, that’s actually worked too well on several
occasions. More than once I’ve had to buy several rolls of
paper towels to fill my suitcase. It serves a couple of
purposes, though--the paper towels act as a great,
lightweight filler, and once we get home, we have the joy of
being perhaps the only people in the U.S. who are using
Zumda brand paper towels.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be tossing pieces of clothing
and other items we’ll be needing into the suitcases in our
living room. A day or two before the trip, we’ll rearrange
everything, pack it all neatly, and then put our TSA
approved locks on them, where the suitcases then won’t be
opened until we get to Luxembourg City (unless, of course,
US or EU security gets bored and feels the need to go
So now when we look at our checklist of things to do, “bring
suitcases up from the basement” can now be checked off.
That only leaves, what. . .28 or 29 things left to go!
How about a bunch of little things to wrap the week up?
First of all, project “International Reader” has turned up a
few interesting results. As you may recall, Monday I asked
people who read this outside of the U.S. to send me a note
in private, just so I'd know the reach of these ramblings.
In just four days, I've received replies from Canada,
Mexico, and Germany (plus one reader in France I didn't know
about), and I won't be surprised if I hear from more people
over the weekend. After all, I know many of you binge-read
a week of these in one sitting, so I'll be curious to see
what pops up after that!
Secondly, I had mentioned a couple of weeks ago, in posting
the blog about Charlie Pong, that the story was brought up
because of an interview I did for a Marquette Monthly
article due in next month's edition. Well, sadly, I
received a call from the writer a few days ago, and she told
me she had to cut 2,000 words out of the stories. Guess
whose words were among the 2,000 cut?
Yup; mine. But what are you gonna do about it, right?
Finally, I have to note with glee that an old neighbor of
ours is still around. One of the many ways in which Loraine
and I have been fortunate is that we get to meet a lot of
fascinating older people, and usually, a couple of years
after we meet them, we wonder if they're still around.
Well, while we were out on a walk last weekend we were happy
to notice a sign on Marquette's Ramada Inn mentioning they
were hosting a 90th birthday party of Al Trudgeon, one of
those fascinating older people.
Al used to live across the street from us when we lived on
High Street, and as a World War II Navy vet he shared his
stories with Loraine. We lost track of him when we moved
out of the neighborhood nine years ago, but it's great to
see he's still around and kicking. He was a nice guy.
On that note, I need to get to work for a bit so I can then
sneak out and go to the beach, seeing as how it might
actually be warm enough for that. Have yourself a great
weekend, and if you live in an area where there might be a
little heat,. Enjoy it!
I'm thinking I can probably stop using the phrase “seedy
underbelly” for a while.
The “Other Side of the Tracks” tour went well last night;
the weather cooperated, and everyone who showed up (a lot
more than I thought would show up, in fact), had a great
time. Not only that, but I got to use the phrase “seedy
underbelly” at least two dozen times.
And that was probably two dozen more times than I ever used
it in my life.
I'm sure it makes more sense if you were on the tour and you
heard it in context, but I used the phrase to describe all
the illegal and/or tragic events that occurred just out of
sight in the southern part of downtown Marquette over the
past 165 years, and trust me—there have been a LOT of
illegal and/or tragic events that have occurred in that part
of downtown Marquette over the past 165.
In fact, that's why we did the tour last night.
One of the stories I told is a story I think no one knows
about, and that's kind of sad, since it involved what is
perhaps Marquette's deadliest fire, at least as far as
victims go. Back in the late 1940s, the Stensrud building
on the 300 south block of Front Street—a building that's
still there, in fact-- had what can only be described as an
illegal rooming house on its third floor. In fact, it was
so illegal that the city didn't know about it, the fire
department didn't know about it, and even the merchant who
rented out the store space on the ground floor of the
building didn't know about it.
Who was living in this illegal rooming house? Well, it was
a mix of pensioners and drifters, and it was late in the
evening of February 6th 1946 when one of those drifters fell
asleep with a lit cigarette. Soon, the entire floor of the
building—a floor with few windows and only one stairway—was
engulfed in flames. Several of the tenants managed to
escape, but when the fire was finally put out, seven men had
lost their lives.
The city at large was stunned, not only by the loss of life,
but by the fact that that there were so many people living
in a space where they weren't supposed to be. A coroner's
inquest was held, where the drifter who started the fire
admitted to falling asleep with a cigarette. Charges were
filed, ordinances were toughened, and soon the whole
incident slipped from the minds of area residents.
At least until we brought it up again last night.
That's just one of the tales from the “seedy underbelly”
that we shared during the tour; yell if you'd like to hear
more. However, don't be surprised if we excise that
two-word phrase from any future writings. After all, after
last night, I don't think I need to use it for a while...
I really dislike doing this, but because I have to run
around and gather a few things for tonight's “Other Side of
the Tracks” walking tour (don't forget—you're all invited!)
I think I'm gonna have to leave you with something I wrote a
couple of years ago.
Well, it's either that, or leave you with nothing at all.
And I really couldn't do that!
Anyway, the tour gets underway tonight at 630 at the
Marquette Regional History Center. Hope to see you there;
details on how it went tomorrow!
(as originally posted June 22nd, 2011):
She’d better not throw them away!
I was at my parent’s condo a couple of days ago when my mom
was going through a box of stuff that had been buried deep
in a closet. Inside the box were several books from my
childhood, books that had made the cut when they moved a few
years ago and tossed out everything else they owned. These
are books that made me the adult I am today, for better or
worse (and that’s okay...go ahead and shout out the word
“worse” right now. I know you’re dying to!).
The books to which I’m referring?
My old “How & Why Wonder Books”.
Those of you who weren’t nerdy kids in the late 60s & early
70s probably don’t remember these books, but they were
certainly among my favorites growing up. Each “How & Why
Wonder Book” dealt with a different topic; mostly science,
but with subjects ranging from history to famous people.
Looking through a list, I see about over a dozen of the
books that I at one time had; the ones my mom kept were
probably among my favorites--Dinosaurs, Weather, Stars, and
Planets & Interplanetary Travel. I mean, think about
it--I’m a self-professed space nerd who at one time had a
collection of plastic dinosaurs and who now complains about
the weather when it’s not nice out.
See? Those books DID warp me for life!
As I remember them, these books were probably the closet
thing kids in the late 60s had to
Wikipedia. They were arranged as a series of
questions about a subject; the answers would then follow,
along with a hand-drawn illustration of what the answer was
talking about. So instead of typing, I dunno, “Triceratops”
into a search engine, you’d grab your “How & Why Wonder
Book” on dinosaurs, look at the page with the question about
Triceratops, and find your answer there. Yes, it was
incredibly low tech, but in the years before information on
demand, that’s how you learned.
And yes, by writing that last paragraph, I proved I’m old.
What’s your point?
Anyway, I’m glad my mom held onto those books, and I’m glad
she now has instructions to never ever get rid of them. The
books may not be worth much and the information in them may
be dated, but you know what? They were part of the vast
mosaic that become the adult “me”, and for that, I’d like to
think they deserve to stick around just a while longer.
There's no way it's half over, is there?
If you consider “summer” (and this year, of course, we must
use the quotes around “summer”) to be the months of June,
July, and August, then today, July 15th, the middle day of
the middle month of “summer”, marks the halfway point of the
Yup. “Summer” is half way over already.
I don't mention it to bum you out, nor do I mention it to
set myself up for an epic session of whining about the
unfairness of it all. I just brought it up because my mind
is blown by the simple fact that today marks the halfway
point of a season for which I live but, because of whatever,
I've yet to even start enjoying.
“Summer”, we hardly knew ye.
This actually all came up while I was off on my meandering
Saturday morning run, one of the only meandering Saturday
morning runs this “Summer” when it was warm enough for me to
be sweating like a pig. Now setting aside the question of
whether or not pigs can actually sweat (can they?), it was
one of those runs about which I (literally) dream. And as I
was running and sweating like a pig, it occurred to me that
this was perhaps the first time all year I was doing
both—running & sweating, at the same time—and it had taken
all the way to July 12th for that to occur. Once I realized
it was July 12th, which is only three days before July 15th,
the mid point of “Summer”...
Well, that's when the whole thing spiraled out of control.
The first part of this year speeding by I can understand. I
don't have to once again list everything that happened; if
you read this even one time between January and May, you
know what I'm talking about. But I thought—naively,
perhaps—that once things returned to “normal” that I'd get
some sort of “normalcy” back in both my life and in the way
in which I perceive time.
Looks like I was wrong on both counts.
I know there's nothing I can do about it, and I feel like
I'm starting to venture into whining territory, so I'll shut
up about it now. But if you happen to see grey matter
splattered here or there on Front Street in Marquette the
next few days, don't worry. It's nothing serious.
It's just what's left over after my mind gets blown.
And happy Bastille Day!
Yeah; I know the French version of our Fourth of July
probably doesn't ring many bells with the vast majority of
you, but I do know that we have a couple of people who read
this everyday who live in France (bonjour, Thierry, bonjour,
Nathalie!) so I figure we might as well mark the day, right?
That got me to thinking. And that, as we all know, can be a
dangerous thing. I've been writing these little...whatever
you wanna call thems for 13 years now, since 2001. Over
those 13 years, I wonder how many other countries we've
touched? I know that when I write my trip blogs on the
Blogspot site there's a
little thing you can click on to tell you what countries
readers are from (or, at least, in which countries the
servers they're using to connect to you are located), but
I've never had that for this little thing.
Looking at the statistics for the Blogspot site makes me
laugh, on occasion, if only because of some of the, uhm,
interesting places from which we get hits. The U.S., of
course, always pops up first, followed by the countries in
which we have friends we're visiting—France, or Belgium or
Germany. But then it gets weird. One year, India provided
us a large chunk of readers—in fact, we even received a few
nice notes from several of them—another time, it was South
Africa. Another, Russia.
How people from those countries stumbled across a blog from
two Americans traveling in Europe (or how their spiders or
search engines robots did so), I do not know. But
apparently it happens, and apparently it happens quite a
So here's the deal—if you read this regularly, or have even
just stumbled on it by accident, and you're from a country
outside of the U.S., please let me know. My e-mail address
is always at the end of each post, and don't worry—I won't
mention you in any way. I know almost everyone who reads
this does so as a “lurker”, and I'm cool with that. I don't
want to “unlurk” you. But I'm curious, so let me know, and
we'll see how many people in how many different countries
Who knows...I may then have to start wishing people happy
holidays OTHER that Bastille Day. And that would be one of
the coolest things that I could do
What is it with some people?
I ask that question because of this--there is a three-foot
gap between the building in which I work and the building
next door, the Elks club. Over the years I’ve worked here,
I’ve noticed all kinds of garbage thrown in the gap between
the two buildings, necessitating the occasional cleaning out
of it by the people who own this building. In order to stop
the garbage from being thrown in there, the owners of the
building in which I work have constructed several wooden
fences between the two buildings. They look nice, serve
their purpose, and the newest version of the fence lasted a
whole four months before this happened--
We can’t get you kids anything nice without you wrecking it,
Don’t worry; I know YOU didn’t have anything to do with it.
I’m sure you’re just as...saddened by it as I am. It just
makes me wonder what it is with some people these days. I
mean, I know why the fence is wrecked. Someone--or several
someones--had way too much to drink, were walking up Front
Street, saw a nice new fence just sitting there harmlessly
out of the way, and decided to teach the fence a lesson for,
I dunno, being a fence. Or for being brown. Or both.
Because I don’t drink and because I actually believe in
respecting other people’s property, perhaps I’m not the best
person to ask this question, but what IS it about certain
individuals that compels them, once inebriated, to destroy
things? Living and walking through downtown Marquette means
that this isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like
this. I’ve seen broken windows, dented doors, smashed
hanging planters, puddles of blood, and more piles of puke
than you can shake a two dollar pitcher of beer at. And the
question I always ask is this--
I know; excessive alcohol consumption does different things
to different people. Some people turn all mushy. Some
people turn all friendly. Some people turn all spacey. And
some people, apparently, turn all testosterone-y, feeling
the need to let out that testosterone by picking a fight
with the nearest bouncer, flower planter, or brown wooden
wall, no matter to whom it belongs or who put it up. I
mean, how would one of those people feel if they woke up one
morning and found their car window had smashed in the
previous night by someone just letting off a little
Like I said before, I just don’t understand. I’m sure if I
had a PhD in human psychology or in addiction science I’d
get it a little better, but I don’t understand why people do
things like that. Don’t’ they know what they’re doing?
Don’t they CARE about what they’re doing? I just don’t get
it. I always prefer to focus on the good side of human
beings, but when I see things like this, I certainly
understand that there’s a bad side to substantial subset of
human beings, as well.
If you don’t believe me, just ask the brown fence next
And on that note, have yourself a great weekend; hopefully,
all of your fences will stay in one piece!
You know, I really need to stop forgetting about these
Yup, I've done it again. I have another Jim Koski ™ tour
for the Marquette Regional History Center a mere six days
from today, and do you think I've lifted a finger about it?
I know; I have no excuse other than the excuses I usually
use. But at least this time it's a little different--
I really don't have much work to do for this tour.
Six days from today, next Wednesday, I'm giving the “Other
Side of the Tracks” tour, and the reason I don't have much
work to do on it is that I gave it last year after putting
it together at the last minute. No, I wasn’t
procrastinating back then; I was a very last minute
replacement for another program that had to be canceled when
the person presenting it passed away.
Luckily, I already had the concept for the tour in my head,
and was able to throw it together in a couple of days. And
that's why I'm not stressing about the fact that this tour
is only six days away. The tour's basically done, and when
I add to that several stories I've discovered since giving
it the first time last year, it should be a lot of fun, even
if you took the tour last year.
Of course, how could the tour NOT be fun, when it contains
the trifecta of Jim Koski ™ tours—bootleggers, hookers, and
One of the reasons I was allowed to leave the History Center
board earlier this year was because I agreed to keep doing
programs and tours, something I really enjoy doing. In
fact, I'm already looking ahead to next year, yet aside from
one, I don't have any concrete ideas on what I want to do.
Due to numerous requests, I'll be doing the Great Fire Tour
again on June 11th, 2015, but that leaves a winter indoor
program and a summer walking tour still to be determined.
At this point, I'm wide open to suggestions, so if you have
anything you've ever wanted to know about, or an old tour or
program I gave five or six years ago that you'd like to see
again, let me know. The final decision isn't up to me;
there's a History Center committee that decides what to do.
But since I'm still the chair of the committee; well, let's
just say that I have a little sway.
However, I'm not gonna get too ahead of myself right now.
After all, I need to first pull put the notes and pictures
from last year's tour and get them read to go again
Wednesday. Then MAYBE I can start thinking about next year.
If nothing else, that'll give me plenty of time to forget
about it all, right?
(p.s.--I also must stand corrected on something I wrote
yesterday, about how I had to obsess over strawberries now
that the lilacs are all gone. Well, daily blog reader Cyndy
in Au Train pointed out that while the lilacs are gone in
Marquette, they aren't gone in Au Train. In fact, she sent
She says she's sniffing them for me, and for that, Cyndy, I
say thanks. Too bad you couldn't bottle up the scent and
sent it this way!)
Hi, my name is Jim, and I'm a strawberry-holic.
This time of the year, my “addiction” becomes readily
apparent. Since last week, I've had strawberries for
breakfast on some days, for lunch a couple of those days,
and during dinner (or for an evening snack) every single day
since, I believe, last Wednesday. Some of the strawberries
I've eaten came from
Farmer Q's, while the best
of them came after my dad spent Sunday morning living
through a thunderstorm while picking 16 or 20 quarts (I
don't remember which) in Traunik.
And seeing as how my dad picked all those strawberries by
himself, maybe I'm not the ONLY strawberry-holic in the
I can't explain my addiction to strawberries, other than to
say I've had it for as long as I can remember. Unlike my
dad, who loves picking any kind of berries, I've only been
out gathering strawberries once, and that's when I was a
young kid and my parents took me out to pick. I don't
believe I did a very good job; in fact, if I remember
correctly, I ate more than I actually put in the
Of course, the best part of that story is the fact that
after I spent the entire morning eating strawberries instead
of picking them, we went out to lunch where the only thing I
ordered, if I remember correctly, was a strawberry shake.
What can I say? Even as a kid, I guess I was kind of, uhm,
I think the reason I go so gaga for strawberries this time
of the year is that they're fresh. They taste like
strawberries. You know they've just been ripped from the
ground, and they taste that way, unlike some of the packaged
strawberries you can get during the winter. I mean, sure,
I'll eat those, because they're the only strawberries
available, but I know that they're not as good as the
strawberries you get in June (or, this year, July). I look
forward to them every year, and often find myself binging on
them, as I'm doing this year. After all, strawberries have
one of the shortest shelf lives of any fruit or vegetable,
so it's either use 'em or lose 'em, right?
And I know which side of the eating equation I'd rather be
So if you happen to see me in the next week or so and my
lips are redder than usual or I have seeds stuck in my
teeth, just remember I'm feeding my addiction to
strawberries. After all, I need something to fixate on now
that the lilacs are gone, right?
I'm sad to say that the French mayor who once insisted we
crash a wedding reception has died.
Of all the possible sentences one could write in one's life,
that sentence is one that very few people could write, at
least in English. However, it looks like I'm one of the few
who could, and that's why I'm a bit sad at the passing of
Mayor Michel Lepourry of Sainteny, Manche, France.
We met Mayor Lepourry back in 2009, through our friend
Jean-Paul Pitou. Jean-Paul lives near Sainteny, and at the
end of spending the day with him driving all around Normandy
to look at war-related stuff for Loraine, we wound up at the
Sainteny town hall, where Mayor Lepourry regaled us with
tales of life under Nazi occupation. He was only a child
then, but those tales had stuck with him over those 60+
Once we were done we thought we were done and figured we
would be on our way, but Mayor Lepourry had other ideas.
You see, the town's butcher had been married a few weeks
earlier, was having his reception that afternoon, and the
Mayor had been invited. Apparently, he didn't want to
drive, so he took it upon himself to invite both us and Jean
Paul, and since you apparently can't say “no” to a French
mayor, Loraine and I ended up—uninvited--at a French wedding
I've often said that we get into the strangest adventures
when we're in Europe, and if it's not Loraine's fault then
it's because of people like Mayor Lepourry. I can't
complain; after all, how many times do you get to meet a
French mayor, and then find yourself driving him up the road
to crash a wedding reception?
Nope; not often.
So au revoir, Mayor Lepourry. Thanks for giving us a couple
of hours we'll never forget!
(That's Mayor Lepourry on the left, showing off part of his
town's collection of 51 American state (and District of
“Run, Jim, run”!
I can’t tell you how many times I heard that during the
Marquette and Ishpeming parades Friday, as I was madly
sprinting from one side of the street to the other or as I
was running a 100 meter dash in order to catch up with the
Pedal Cruiser we were using as our parade entry. You see, I
was trying to take as many pictures as possible of the
people who had made up signs for our little “Parades of
Cash” contest, and as it turned out a LOT of people made up
signs for our little “Parades of Cash” contest.
That’s why I was running the entire time.
I’ve often joked that the one day of the year when I really
don’t need any kind of workout is parade day, if only
because I move so much during both events. This year was no
exception; in fact, I think I may have moved more during
these parades than in most recent years. I don’t know why;
I don’t know if the signs were spread apart more than usual,
or if Marquette and Ishpeming streets have all of a sudden
become wider and longer, but I sure was on my feet a lot and
moving quite rapidly.
And, of course, hearing several different people yell out
“Run, Jim, run” while I was doing my best Forrest Gump
As you may have inferred, I took a BUNCH of pictures of
people holding up signs, all of which you can see on
our Facebook fan page.
However, I do need to point out two of them, the first of
which just blew me away with its sheer beauty—
That was painted by Lori Keto, who just did an amazing job
with her sign. In fact, I’m trying to see if I can snag her
art from her, because I really think it deserves to be
framed and hung inside of the station. I really do!
The other picture I need to point out? This one—
I see pictures like this many times a year during a parade,
mostly because people just want my attention and know I’ll
laugh when I see it. However, this one deserves special
attention, if only because it’s being held up by the one &
only Dennis Whitley! I think his daughter Lane has a
picture of the two of us laughing at the sign. If that is
the case, Lane, I want a copy!
Now the parades are over and I get to move on to one of the
other big July events in my life—watching the
Tour de France! And seeing
as how Mark Cavendish is out of the race after causing an
accident and separating his shoulder, it means that
different people will win different legs.
And that’s always makes watching the race even more fun!
Do you have your signs ready yet?
I’m talking, of course, about the signs you need to have
ready for our “July Parades of Ca$h” tomorrow in
Ishpeming and Marquette. It’s always one of my favorite
days of the year, not only because I get to give away my
boss’s money, but because of the signs.
Every year, I’m constantly amazed by the work some people
put into their signs. I mean, sure. . .there are some people
who just scribble “Q107” on a paper plate, and that’s fine.
That’s all you need to do. And this year, we’re making it
even easier on you. Go to the
front page of this website,
scroll down a little, do a little clicking, and download a
sign that’s already to be printed out. (Or
Click Here) See? Absolutely no work on your
part at all!
But then. . .there are people who obviously put a lot of
time and talent into what they do. I’ve seen works of art
out on the street. I’ve seen families who’ve obviously
spent an evening putting signs together, and I’ve seen some
very unique interpretations of our call letters.
And I enjoy each and every one of them.
Every year during the parades, I’ll take pictures of a bunch
of the signs and post them on
our Facebook fan page.
After all, if you guys put that much work into them, they
deserve to be seen by the public, right? So get those signs
made up, and bring them with you to the parades tomorrow in
Marquette and Ishpeming. Who knows—they could not only win
you cash, but they could be stuck up on the Interweb for
everyone on the planet to see!
By the way, there won’t be a blog entry tomorrow; even
though we’re in the parades that day, it’s still a
“holiday”. So have yourself a great 3-day (or 4-day, or
however long it is) holiday weekend; enjoy the sun while
it’s here. And, of course, yell loudly (and show us your
signs) when we pass in the parades tomorrow!
I'm glad someone asked the question.
I posted a couple of pictures on
my Facebook page Sunday,
and I did it for a particular reason. I went to Park
Cemetery and, like I do every year, cleaned off a couple of
headstones. I then posted pictures of them, these
And mentioned that they belonged to two Marquette icons.
Now, I was pretty sure everyone knows who George Shiras III
is, but I was hoping someone would bite on Charles Pong.
Thanks for biting, Doug Garrison!
Charlie Pong was born in China and came to Marquette right
around 1900. He opened a laundry, which he operated until
his death in 1949. The interesting thing about Charlie? He
sent every single cent of money he earned back to his family
in China, so when he passed away he was penniless. Since he
had no money, the city was just going to bury him in
Potter's Field. However, Charlie was so beloved by his
fellow business owners and the community at large that they
all chipped in so that he could have his own burial plot and
You know, the headstone I cleaned off Sunday.
I wanted to bring this up because I was interviewed for a
forthcoming Marquette Monthly piece about Park Cemetery, and
one of the stories I told was about Charlie Pong. His
headstone is under a pine tree that leaks an awful lot of
pine tree gunk, so that's why I clean it every year or two.
And I'm not the only one who seems to know about Mr. Pong;
every year, usually after I clean off the headstone,
someone—and I have no idea who—leaves flowers at his grave.
There are great stories like that all through Park Cemetery;
in fact, I could spend hours (if not days) wandering around
and sharing them. But I've always had a soft spot in my
heart for Charlie Pong's story, which is why I make sure his
is one of the headstones I clean off every year.
And now you know, too!
Jim & Loraine's Trip To France 2012
to Belgium, France, and Germany,