Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thursday, 10/18


I wondered if kids these days would even know about the book. And now I have my answer.

We shot the fourth episode of the new season of “High School Bowl” yesterday morning, and for one of the questions I brought in a prop. I was only going to use the prop if none of the eight students knew the answer to the question. I didn't know for sure, but I had a sneaking suspicion that I would, in the end, have to end up using the prop.

And I did.

The question in question was the last of three in a bonus round about author Robert McCloskey. He's most famous for the kids story “Make Way for Ducklings”, a book the first two questions in the round focused on. The third question, though, asked about another story he wrote about a young man named Homer and a doughnut machine gone awry. I asked the question, none of the students had any idea what I was talking about, so I whipped out my prop.

This--



Yes, I have a copy of an 80-year old children's book about a young boy and, in one of the stories it contains, a doughnut machine gone awry. When I was a little kid “Homer Price” was one of my favorites, and a few years ago when I saw a newly-reissued copy of the book at the dearly departed Bookworld in downtown Marquette I snapped it up. Most of the stories in the book haven't aged well (heck, they were already over 30 years old when I first read them back last century) but the bit about the doughnut machine gone awry still brought a smile to my face, just as it had when I first read it all those years ago.

It's just too bad kids these days won't get that same smile.

I mean, I don't expect them to read books that were written in the 1930s and enjoy them. Like I said, they were outdated when I read them, and that was over 40 years ago. So you can imagine what a kid of today would think of a story about a doughnut machine gone awry. But even if you take away the outdated technology and the anachronistic settings, there's still something vaguely...fun about the situation. If you open your mind and read it as a historical document, rather than something that can happen these days, you might get a chuckle or two out of it. But because it doesn't contain wizards or otherworldly creatures, some kids might not even give it a second thought. And I understand that. After all, it was one of the (very) rare books I read as a kid that didn't have at least one space craft in it.

But still. Classic literature, even classic kids literature, is classic for a reason. Despite outdated technology and anachronistic settings, the underlying story still has something to it. It's true of Shakespeare, it's true of the Bronte sisters, and it's true, at least in my opinion, of “Homer Price”.

It's just too bad that most people, especially the audience for whom the books were intended, don't feel the same way.

(jim@wmqt.com), literary dinosaur.



Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday, 10/17


I don't know why I like the picture so much. I just do.

Much like the computer desktop picture you vote on for me every year, I also take a picture from our trips and stick them on my laptop at home. It's usually a goofy picture, or one that's not quite as artistic as the ones on which I have you vote. But it's still always a picture that reminds me of a special moment we experienced while over there.

The topic of this year's picture probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me. But what may come as a surprise is that it was taken during a cold, driving rainstorm, and actually has nothing to do with a particular activity. Loraine and I were just walking up a street, I saw something, and took a picture of it. I didn't pay much attention to it then, although I did stick it in one of my trip blogs. However, as I've been looking at it on an almost daily basis, I've come to realize that I really like it.

But, then, who wouldn't?



Yeah, I know it's a cow. Like I said, that should be no surprise to anyone who knows me. What I like about so much is the look on the cow. It's a cow with an attitude. It's a cow wondering why a dork with a camera was standing in the rain a few feet away from it. It's a cow that, if it could, would just shake its head in bemusement and walk away to join the other cows, telling them something along the lines of “you should see what I just saw”.

If, of course, a cow could do that.

I realize I'm attributing human behavior to a cow, but that's what this particular beast looks like, at least to me. I mean, take another look at it. Doesn't the cow look like it's just about to shake its head? Doesn't it look like the cow's giving me that look, the look like a human would give when they see something so stupid they can't believe it?

That's what it looks like to me.

You may see things differently. In fact, I'm sure that you, a normal human being, would look at that picture and see just a cow. Not a cow with an attitude, not a cow with vague sense of superiority, but a cow. A plain and simple cow. And that's fine. It's nice to know that at least one of us is normal.

Just don't expect it to be me. At least not with a picture like that.

(jim@wmqt.com), cowaholic

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tuesday, 10/16


I don't know if it was the caption or the pictures, but I sure got a lot of “likes” for one certain Facebook post over the weekend.

Sunday Loraine and I strolled down to our neighborhood park to kick a few soccer balls around. As always, I brought my camera, and shot a few pictures of the changing leaves, which seem to be at their peak in Marquette right now. I threw a few of them on Facebook, along with this pithy comment--

“Sure, the temperatures may be below average for the 26th time in 27 days, and sure, it may be gloomy and about to rain for the 27th time in 27 days, but at least Marquette has colors OTHER than gray for a little while... ”

And before I knew it, I had 150 likes and 30-some shares of the post. I don't know why, but I did. I guess it's just one of those things.

So as not to deprive you guys of anything, I hereby present the pictures I posted—plus a few bonus shots—to check out for yourself. Then you can decide whether or not they were worthy of way too many likes & shares.

There was a shot of the ore dock (Which, if I had to guess, was the reason for most of the likes & shares)--



A few more taken from the Range Bank parking deck--




A bonus shot taken while walking down to Lower Harbor Park--



A few other bonus shots taken while on a bike ride--




And one final one, also taken from the Range Bank parking deck, showing something not a lot of people get to see—the Marquette Branch prison--



Like I said, I'm not quite sure why the post and/or the pictures received as much attention as they did, but they did. And now you've been able to see them (and even more) for yourself!



Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday, 10/15


I never really thought about it, but you know what? I don't have a lot of “stuff”.

One of my favorite George Carlin routines ever is about “stuff”--getting stuff, finding a place to put your stuff, and doing stuff with your stuff. But over the weekend, I came to realize that for as much as I like that routine I really don't live it very well, if only because I don't have a lot of “stuff”.

Oops. My bad.

I spent part of my run Saturday morning doing something I often do, and that's letting my mind wander. And where it wandered was, to say the least, an interesting place. I actually spent part of my run Saturday trying to figure out what I have that might be worth something to other people if I should unexpectedly vanish off the face of the Earth. And it struck me, not for the first time, that I don't have a lot of “stuff”. Or at least I don't have a lot of stuff that people might consider as “stuff”. I don't have expensive toys, or expensive jewelry, or expensive pieces of property to leave someone. I'm not surprised; after all, I've never really cared about “stuff”, but it made me think.

And as we all know, that can be a dangerous thing.

Thinking about it, I realize that I don't accumulate “stuff” as much as I accumulate something much more ephemeral. I accumulate memories, and I accumulate experiences. I write. I take pictures. I give tours & programs. I do TV shows. And I travel. Apparently, I don't keep score in the traditional way, with a bigger car, a bigger house, and a bigger collection of “stuff”. Instead, I just look back on what I've done so far, and what I still want to do.

When I was young(er), I always wanted to have a lifestyle that was a bit out of the ordinary. Little did I know that I'd actually be able to, without even realizing it, do exactly that.

Weird how that works out, huh?

So I suppose I should apologize in advance to anyone who might materially benefit from my untimely death. You're not gonna get much. But what I hope I could pass along is this—you don't need a lot of “stuff” to live a happy, creative, and productive life. You don't need to accumulate everything to possibly can to leave your mark or to leave a legacy. I'm keeping my fingers crossed I can be a living example of that.

And a living example, I should point out, that hopefully has a lot more years of living left!

8-)


Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday, 10/12


I wonder what the young girl on the bookmark would think?

Those of you who also follow along on the trip blogs I write () every time Loraine and I go to Europe know the story of my niece Mallory and her bookmark. But for those of you who don't, here it is—the first time I went over there Mallory was six at the time, and disappointed that she couldn't go with us. So I brought a bookmark she had given me a year earlier, a bookmark with the portrait of a 4-year old her on it, and took a picture of it in Germany, to show that she did “go” to Europe with us. I then brought it back the next time, and have done it ever since.

In fact, here's this year's version--



I bring this up because Sunday's a big day for Mallory. You see, Mallory's longer the 4-year old on the bookmark. Nope; Sunday, Mallory turns 21. I'm not quite sure how that happened; after all, it seems like she just turned 13 last week. But Sunday she becomes an “adult” adult, even if her mother doesn't want her to. It's been a big year for Mallory; she graduated from college, passed a bunch of certification tests for her chosen career field, and now gets to have a drink if she wants when we go out for her birthday Sunday.

I think the young girl on the bookmark would be amazed at what the older version of her has become.

Yet there's one thing that's remained constant about Mallory from the bookmark years to today. She was, and is, one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Right around the time the bookmark picture was taken, she and her mom drove me out to the airport to I could head down to Florida and see a space shuttle launch. Because 4-year old are, you know, 4-year olds, her mom bought her a package of two cookies to eat (and, presumably, to keep her occupied). Well, my dear niece Mallory insisted on saving one of them so she could share it with me, just one example of the thoughtfulness with which she lives her life. Over the years, we've been able to “work” together at the station, sample chocolate together, bake Christmas cookies together, and collaborate on a photographic project that's gone on for years.

You know the 4-year old Mallory. Here's the “today” version of her--



Sure, I'm her uncle, and sure, I'm supposed to be proud of her. But even if I wasn't related to her, and just knew her, I would still be aware of what an amazing young woman she has become. I'm serious about that. So happy birthday, Mallory. Congratulations on becoming an “adult” adult. And I can't wait to see what you accomplish in the next few years!!!!



Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thursday, 10/11


Just how soon is too soon to break out the hats & mittens?

I'm not asking for myself; after all, as long as it's above freezing it's shorts weather for me. But as I mentioned yesterday, it's been wet & cold here for, like, forever. And yesterday afternoon I started seeing people walking down the street dressed up in winter gear—in heavy jackets, in hats, and in a couple of cases, mittens.

On October 10th.

I won't get into whining about the weather again. I did that enough yesterday, and I'm sure that you don't need to hear it from me again until, say, the next time the snow flies. But it's still early October. Last year around this time, we had an 80-degree weekend, and wearing hats & mittens were among the furthest things from our minds. But because we were denied an Autumn this year (seriously—it was 83 degrees in September 17th, and it's rarely been above the mid 50s since) it's something we have to consider.

I don't in any way blame the people I saw wearing mittens & hats yesterday. For October (heck for most times of the year, save January & February) it was bone-numbingly cold. And when you add in the hypothermic rain, a rain that draws heat from your body, it was even worse. For many people, wearing hats & mittens was the only was they COULD go outside. But for me, at least, that didn't mitigate the shock of seeing people wear them.

On October 10th.

Because I'm a masochist, I checked the National Weather Service's forecast for Marquette for the next week. Because I'm not a sadist I won't reprint it here. Let's just suffice it to say that I won't be surprised if I see more and more people don the apparel of winter in October of 2018. So if you haven't rummaged through your closet to find your hats & mittens, or if you haven't made it to your favorite stores to pick up new ones, you might want to think about doing it soon. No one will blame you.

Even if it is just October 11th.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday, 10/8


Rain, rain, go away. Come again...

Well, never. Come again never. That would be fine with me.

Maybe this is just an early case of Seasonal Affliction Disorder talking, but the three weeks of (mostly) rain and cold temperatures we've been experiencing can go away and not come back. I mean, it was bad enough traveling through Germany and having six straight days of gloom and rain, but looking back on it that was nothing compared to what we've been dealing with around here since the last week of September.

It's almost enough, in fact, to make one wish one were a duck.



Although I'm thinking that, by this point, even a duck would be sick of the stuff.

I haven't checked yet this morning, so I'm not sure if we're still under the flood watch we've been under the past few days. For those of you not in the Marquette area, we've received (and are still receiving) so much rain the past few days—anywhere from four to seven inches, depending upon where you are—that the entire north central U.P. has been under the aforementioned watch. It's not a warning, thankfully; we've not yet seen any kind of inundation. But with all the rain falling onto a ground that's already soaked with water, there's nowhere for it go. So the conditions for a flood are (or were) out the for people who live in areas prone to that kind of stuff.

Thankfully, I'm safe, unless we get so much rain that Lake Superior rises about 70 feet above its normal level. And if we ever DO get that much rain, well...let's just say that my griping about it will be the least of our worries.

It's all made even worse, of course, by the cold that's accompanied the rain. Even on those rare days when the sun was out, like last Thursday, temperatures were stuck in the 40s. In fact, for the month, I think we're something like over 10 degrees BELOW our normal highs. And it's not a widespread thing, either. Monday & yesterday, when it was rainy & 43 in Marquette, it was 80 and sunny downstate.

80 and sunny just a few hours away. I'm starting to think Mother Nature is REALLY pissed at something we did this year, although I can't for the life of me figure out what it was.

I know; the intelligent among you are ready to tell me that there's nothing we can do about the weather, and you're absolutely right about that. Complaining about it doesn't change it or fix it. It's not like if I yell loud enough I'll create a pressure wave strong enough to move the blocking system that's been causing us to have this wet & cold weather. I know that.

It's just that I think I'm at the end of my rope.

So I'll wrap this up with two thoughts. First of all, thanks for letting me blow off a little steam. I appreciate it. Secondly, I know that I don't like “typical” fall weather. But if we ever DO get a day where it's sunny but a little crisp outside, I will embrace it with all the gusto I usually reserve for an 80 degree day. I promise you that.

I don't know if we'll be getting one any time soon, but if we do, you have my word.