Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ready for Eats

While I was grading papers for the past several days, the wife was assembling a veritable banquet of delights, including these two beauties--a Dutch apple pie and a loaf of bread that, as you can see, is definitely standing tall.

And that's just a sample. Let's hope our designated eaters can make it through the storm bearing down on eastern SD. So far, it's not been bad, only snow and a little breeze.

Done Grading

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Suck at Photoshop, Too!

Okay, so I was patting myself on the back for having my proposal accepted at the Computers and Writing (Virtual Worlds) conference in May at Purdue, even though much of the incentive and the work originated with my friend and colleague Dr. Maureen Murphy, shepherd of the English department at DSU. Anyway, I got off-tracked by a hilarious, heart-wrenching tutorial video on Photoshop by MyDamnChannel. He's a savvy Photoshop user, but the tool he most needs, he thinks, isn't on the pallet. Cool!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Final, 2009 Edition

I finished up my last final exam for the fall 2009 year, and now I've just got papers to grade . . .

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Before the Cold Came In--Hot Rod

My friend Eric sends this photo of his cool

'23 T-bucket that he took on December 1. Notice that it doesn't have snow tires on it, so it will have to remain in storage now for a while as the winter has arrived with a vengance and some staying power. Once spring comes, though, this baby will be back on the road.

Comfy Wally

Dr. Dan took this photo of Mr. W comfy in his winter sweater, blanket, and bed, comfortable and warm, within the reach of the wood stove.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Gangs on the Ridge

One of the poorest communities in the U.S., Pine Ridge seems to be facing a challenge from growing gang membership. What do they fight over? Good question. Check out the story here on the NY Times.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Greetings from Dakota State University!

Season's Greetings from Dakota State from Tom Jones and Kevin Rydberg on Vimeo. Colleagues put together this cool video to extend greetings from us here in Madison to you where ever you are. Cheers!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Pleasure in this Walk

Little Walter doesn't have a lot of insulation on his bony frame, so getting outside on a day like today (about 10 degrees) to do his business just does not offer any bonuses. Does it help to add pink booties and a little doggie jacket? I doubt it.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Poet Gets a Sack of Coal

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending Dr. John Laflin's introductory literary criticism class as a visiting poet. It was a pleasant experience, with students who don't typically get to see me in that role, and they had good questions that led to some interesting discussions about individual poems and about writing in general.

I noticed as I finished that there was a little cloth sack of gum called Santa's Coal Bubble Gum. Now you might think that poetry has no tangible, earthly rewards, but this gum, which has a short period--between being coal and being grey tasteless gum--of sweet and pleasant flavor. Kind of like some poems.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Being the Lampkeeper

We've got the tree and the lights up, last Friday after Thanksgiving when the weather was sunny and relatively warm (no need for gloves!), so we get a couple of weeks of holiday sparkle in the living room.

This morning I tried out what seems almost a magical little device, the Lightkeeper Pro. (Watch out if you click on the link here--you'll get the repeated sound of this little device doing its magic--very annoying. The videos, though, give a good look at what the gizmo can do.)

Basically, when you've got a dead section of mini-lights, or a dead string, you pull one dead bulb, hook the socket to the gun, and pull the trigger. When I tried it, the dead bulbs lit, I put in a new bulb, repeated the process, and voila! I had a fully lit tree. Sweet! It took about two minutes.

I got mine at Jones Ace Hardware here in Madison, SD.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Apocalypse with a Happy Ending

One of my students asked earlier this semester about doing a research paper on whether the world will end in 2012. I thought the student had in mind the Mayan calendar, but she was inclined more to the movie and other predictions. Having seen the "2012" movie last night, I gather that we really don't need to worry that much at all, as long as we can build a super-ark (complete with animals--one by one) that will carry us to the coast of Africa. I was struck by the closing scenes in the film, as three big techno-arks (Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria?) sailed toward the safest haven, the Cape of Good Hope, now the roof of the world, where the privileged and coddled would form the basis for a new beginning. This despite the fact that there are people already IN Africa, perhaps not ready to take in the tens of thousands of refugees and their rescued menagerie.

The movie is mostly made up of finely-detailed scenes of disaster--buildings collapsing into chasms, waves tipping a giant cruise ship into the drink, oceans washing over the Himalayas, whole landscapes yawing and sliding into the sea, airport runways cracking and crumbling beneath the airplane that bears our heroic family away from the destruction.

When all is said and done, the world looks new again, the continents rearranged, all the mistakes of the world washed away in 27 days--much tidier, say, than the lingering and ongoing disaster that is New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Apocalypse with a happy ending.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out--A Christmas Story

DSU Theater will put on A Christmas Story ("You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!") in the coming week after Thanksgiving. In preparation, yours truly was up at the Playhouse helping build their gigantic set over the weekend, especially the Santa Mountain. It should be fun!

In preparation, wander over to the online BB gun shooting game sponsored by Office Max.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Idea Ventures Forth--LOOK OUT!

The previous post cited G.E. as the source of a great idea, but a magazine article I read afterward put a real buzz-kill on that, noting how G.E. is the scourge of the Hudson, pouring millions of gallons of PCB's in the river since forever ago.

Anyway, more ideas about killing ideas appear in the graphic to the left. Which is your favorite? (Don't get any ideas).

The drawings are from, who got them from somewhere else.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Virtual Wind

My friend Dan has turned me on to augmented reality--no, not the kind where you have to ingest peyote and roll around on the porch until you find your spot, ala Journey to Ixtlan. Rather, it's a project whereby a graphic on your webcam identifies a spot to project another object on to your video. No comprende? Me neither. Read about it starting here. Or watch my test of GE's use of it in the video below. Or see other examples here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flying the Flag

As I buzzed around town today, doing errands, helping neighbors, tending my own business, I couldn't help but notice the many flags flying to commemorate Veteran's Day, once a day celebrating the end of war. We do seem to have lost some of our aversion to war, though perhaps too few of us pay enough attention to the costs, in life, respect, and dollars not spent on better things.

I'm the soldier on top of the tank here, probably still only 19 years old, proud here to have converted this war machine, an M-60 tank, to a part-time bulldozer. Note the dozer on the back end. My buddies, Gilbert "Hombre" Lovato and Jerry "Puente" Puent are there probably to mark my achievement. We were stationed at Ray Barracks, Friedberg, West Germany, 122nd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Armored Division, mid-1970's. Jerry, from LaCrosse, WI, was bigger, but I could out-wrassle him, and Gilbert, from Mountainair, NM, was generally just an all-right guy. I haven't seen either of them since then.

I hope they're well. Happy Veteran's Day, soldiers.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Too Many Kids on the Corner

23 kids in two houses? Next door to each other? That's what it was in the 1970's when the Johnsons lived next to the Nelsons in Ft. Pierre. There were more kids on the block, including the Comptons, whose boys were notorious for mischief.
The father of the Johnson brood, Dale Johnson, recently passed away, and I stopped by the service last night to pay my respects and see who turned up. All of them did.
We reminisced a little, and I stopped by the Johnson home here to visit and enjoy some company. Like our family, many of them are artistic, creative sorts who take life by the horns.
I was reminded too of the plight of poor Mrs. Jacobsen, whom I remember as an old crab who chased kids off her lawn. She lived in a little house behind ours, crowded in there among the rambunctious children, then young adults. Poor old lady--she had a reason to grouse.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Maxine Hong Kingston, a Full Moon, and Ghost Stories

Saturday night, while most people were either offering up candy to kids in costumes or being kids in costumes, some of us were in Vermillion, SD, to hear Maxine Hong Kingston, the keynote speaker of the John R. Milton Writers Conference. She read from her published works, including Warrior Woman and China Men, focusing on ghost stories, especially one from Warrior Woman, where Maxine's mother takes on the hairy sitting ghost that appears in her girl's dormitory.

As she read, the glass wall behind her revealed the full moon illuminating the light clouds visible behind the podium. It was a good Halloween.

My other favorite part of it was seeing the wife in her witchy costume.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hearing Poets Do What They Do

It's always a treat to be able to rub elbows with writers and be able to talk. I'm down in Vermillion at the John R. Milton Writers Conference, where I got a warm reception yesterday for my own reading and have enjoyed others reading their work, especially Brian Bedard reading a new story about a prom queen and a parade and Lee Ann Roripaugh reading a few poems from her new book--On The Cusp of a Dangerous Year and her dad, Robert A. Roripaugh, read from a book of stories about Wyoming. Ed Allen, author of a novel, Mustang Sally, and a short story collection, Ate It Anyway, read from a work in progress that is a novel told in the form of a series of limericks. It worked a lot better than I thought it would!

More today, including Wang Ping, Maxine Hong Kingston, and a host of others.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"I Hate Hamlet" and Other Birthday Goodies

The wife had yet another birthday on Sunday, so we took the day, went to Sioux Falls, debating along the way about whether a movie might be in order or this play we knew little about. We did the play, and neither of us was disappointed. Produced by the Sioux Empire Community Theatre, the performance featured some fine acting, a great set, and a beautiful theater.

The funny and touching play is about a TV actor, played here by Barton Workman, who loses his series and goes to New York to rekindle an old love for the stage, landing the lead role in a production of Hamlet, to be played in the park. He doesn't want to do it. He hates Hamlet. His agent appears from California with a lucrative offer for another TV series, "Night School," to feature an idealistic high school teacher who moonlights as a semi-super hero.

What should he do? Inspiration comes in the form of the ghost of John Barrymore, famed boozer, womanizer, and strider of the boards, played to great effect here by Tom Roberts.

Things get interesting, and these two, along with a fine supporting cast, carry the audience through the struggle to decide what should come. It won't be quite what you expect.

Check out the play, just $15, showing Oct. 30-Nov. 1 and Nov. 6-8, with matinees.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jimmy Curtis and the Case of the Traveling Skull

I was intrigued by this story on the New York Times about a photographer for the Farm Security Administration, Arthur Rothstein, who in 1936 traveled through South Dakota documenting the drought years. He was apparently fond of the skull, hauling it around and taking pictures of it willy-nilly to document how damned dry it was here then, cows dying everywhere. His photos are in the Library of Congress, still with misleading information about them, at least according to James Curtis, who published a book on the subject in 1991: Mind’s Eye, Mind’s Truth: F.S.A. Photography Reconsidered.

Check out the story; it's got the infamous photos, scans of newspaper articles, and maps of Rothstien's travels, along with commentary on Dorothea Lange and other photographers of the era.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A New York Minute in Years Gone By

Having just returned from new New York, I was interested in this video of it as it appeared over 80 years ago. There's a shot of Times Square, another of Washington Square, and other places that went by too quickly for me to recognize. Hang on!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back in a New York Minute

New Yorkers probably noticed a significant downturn in the quality of their fair city on Tuesday as Northwest flight 515 left La Guardia with the four pictured South Dakotans on board. Subway riders looked around confusedly when we didn't shuffle through the doors Wednesday morning. Food vendors wondered what to do with their "chunky luncher" platters. Playgoers pondered what might have resulted in the four empty seats, ones usually populated with the most responsive audience members in Broadway (or off-Broadway) history. Empire State Building residents looked out at the Rock and saw that these four were gone (sob!) gone.

Well, at least we noticed. The four of us returned bedraggled late Tuesday with memories of "Playboy of the Western World" at the Pearl, "West Side Story" at the Palace, and lots of activities otherwise. We checked out the Met, watched the Columbus Day parade, had some great New York pizza in Greenwich Village at Johns, walked in Central Park, had a cannoli, ate some fresh croissants, sampled some beers, sipped some martinis, and crashed an opening-night party at the Old Castle for brother Joe's play. We saw a former colleague and ate down in Chinatown after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at night. The wife went running in Central Park. We visited Times Square, Madison Avenue, and Fifth Avenue and did hardly any shopping! And we avoided landing belly-up on the slippery highways Saturday morning as we left Minneapolis. We got safely home again.

We had a good time, I think. What did I forget?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mighty Quinn's Marathon Story in Photos

Fans of Mr. Quinn will enjoy seeing his photo collection of marathon moments, many of them captured with the $10 Hannah Montana camera he carried with him on the route. In the last photo, you might think he's melting, but he assured us the puddle was not his doing, despite his weariness.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Wife and the Gimp at the Fake Finish

Target stores offered a free picture of us standing at a fake finish line at the expo, with a dream time displayed, so we took it. And YOU get to be the beneficiary!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

You'll Not See Nothin' Like the Mighty Quinn

He's no Eskimo, but this Mighty Quinn was mighty chilly after finishing his first marathon in St. Paul this morning. He and 11,000 other runners took to the streets at 8:00am to tackle the 26.2 miles that makes up the Twin Cities Marathon course, navigating the streets around the lakes and rivers that make up the most beautiful urban marathon in the US.
Yours truly, still nursing his roofing injury, was on the sidelines, viewing the race from the curb, zooming from point to point with my wife and his to catch Todd as he came past, racking up the miles, each one getting a little tougher. It's clear from the photos here that the marathon takes a lot out of a guy, but MQ hung in there and got the job done. Way to go, Todd!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

DSU and SD Higher-Ed Numbers Climb

Dakota State University numbers continue to grow. We've got a record headcount (2861) and FTE (1631) enrollments for this fall. Numbers statewide have grown quite a little since 1996, my first year in the system, 7,279 more students in that time, a 27% increase. Not bad.
1996 26,508
1997 25,719 -2.98%
1998 26,560 +3.27%
1999 26,616 +0.21%
2000 27,134 +1.95%
2001 28,446 +4.84%
2002 29,533 +3.82%
2003 29,716 +0.62%
2004 29,844 +0.43%
2005 30,720 +2.94%
2006 30,901 +0.59%
2007 32,148 +4.04%
2008 32,943 +2.47%
2009 33,779 +2.54%

Monday, September 28, 2009

Taking a Knee

It's probably a good idea that I'm not running the Twin Cities Marathon this weekend. I was out in back, running the chain saw, cutting up some small chunks of wood, and one caught on the chain and jumped up and bit me in the knee-bone. Here it is just getting a good start on the swelling. This on the same leg that sports the damaged foot at the end of it.

My brother called as I was sitting on the couch with an ice pack (thanks, Todd!) on my bulging knee, and he asked what I was doing.

"Sitting here watching the knob on my knee grow," I said.
"It's African-Americans!" he said, "and they're not yours!"

He's a witty fellow.

I think my knee has grown since then (and since I had the wife shoot this profile shot). Tomorrow it will probably be back to normal, but it's good I'm just using my legs Sunday to stand and watch the marathoners go by, not covering 13.1 miles with this bumpy fellow (leg #2 is just fine, thanks).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Working Women at DSU

I love this picture of all these women at DSU displaying what position our university has in the recent rankings among public universities in the midwest, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two Small Pieces of Pie

Okay, so you're wandering in the aisles of Sunshine Foods, the pleasant treasure of a spinach quiche riding in your midsection, just along for the ride since your spouse has asked you pleasantly to go along for company, and you've got it in mind to ferret out a little dessert item, something to top off the quiche, tamp it down with a lump of sweetness, passing by the Oreos, the "home-made" O'Henry bars, the four-dollar brownies in the bakery section, and then the thought of a little pie takes hold of you like a mental lasso, towing you down the frozen foods aisle, where Mrs. Smith and her ilk linger to lure the appetite with real pies--apple, peach, French silk--but you resist, one hand clutching the cold chrome handle of the case, and your eye lingers on the smaller boxes, Mrs. Smith's sidekick Edwards, an unassuming product offering of two pieces of pie--Key Lime--and you waver, your hand reaching in to bring it in, bring it home, where, on a plate, it's not to be denied, small as it may be, fresh from its yellow cardboard wedge, a serious, albeit small, piece of pie indeed, and the first taste is golden, the next better, the rest delicious, creamy, lime lime lime, a very fine pie indeed, worth the trip, worth eating slowly, slowly, every bite a miracle.

Trojans Win

The wife and I enjoyed a great volleyball match last night between the Lady Trojans and the Mount Marty College Lancers. It was a back and forth battle, but in game five the T's were rolling and put away those visitors. Read more about it here.
Meanwhile, I'm liking the new Trojan warrior logo, although not the one with the thick legs.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Will Ferrell and the Race to Save Health Care Execs

I enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek version of an appeal on the effort to improve health care coverage.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Making the Desktop Smaller Yet

ACU Mobile Learning from ACU Videos on Vimeo.

The move toward the laptop as a device for having students be online all the time has been growing, and there is evidence that students and faculty are getting used to the new teaching and learning methods that the devices allow. Now Abilene Christian University is suggesting that they can take the mobility one step further, not just netbooks, but Apple's iTouch or iPhone, which they're distributing to students and faculty. The move is described in "The Mobile Campus," on Inside Higher Ed. Are we ready for that? One of my consistent concerns is that the course materials and actions occur in the same stream as all the other things that vie for students' attention, coming through the same channels as Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, and all the other cool stuff that students do online.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DJ and the Bear

Dr. Dan had a companion in his most recent journey between home in MN and work in SD. Hand-made by Ms. Montgomery as a fund-raiser, the bear laid in wait at our for someone to claim it, and Dr. D recongnized the furry fellow as a potential charmer for his offspring. No word yet on the chemistry between the two. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Better Half-Marathoner

The wife climbed out of bed this morning with running on her mind, just like about a thousand other people in the Sioux Falls area, and she showed that 13.1 mile course what she was made of--lots more spice than sugar. I stayed on the sidelines today, resting that sore leg, cheering on my girl in the crowd. She did great, a bit slower than the Deadwood race, but only by a few minutes, and on a lot less training.

An additional treat was seeing some former students--Chris Heezen, from Miller, SD, who ended up in second place over all; Laura Carrow, of Pipestone, MN, who ended up fourth female finisher after a duel at the finish, and Mike Vetter, who was running his first ever half-marathon.

My colleague Rick Puetz and his daughter were also proud finishers.

Check out the photo slideshow here. Some folks keep smiling through the pain, all the way to the glory of the finish line.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ratbikes Galore

I appreciate simplicity. Complex systems have more opportunities to crash than simple ones, and you might think that an evening of battling internal combustion engines might deter me in appreciating that four-stroke invention, it's interesting to see how ingenious folks have simplified what were once much more complex motorcycles. Hail to the Rat Bike.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hanging Out in the Wrong Neighborhood

As school starts, one of the things a faculty member has to do is prepare his or her office for working in. Sometimes that means simply dusting things off, watering plants, and tidying up one's desk. Sometimes, however, one must send summer visitors packing, as the wife had to do with this little fellow who wandered in to the wrong place.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Burritos, Lawn Chairs, and a Quiet Back Yard

Getting ready for a semester of teaching several college courses is a lot of work, and in the midst of it all getting together with people in the same boat--madly planning, writing, hoping--is a good thing. Here's a little video of some folks enjoying some food, drink, and conversation on the last Saturday of the summer. Thanks, DW, for taking the video (and risking the wrath of those being filmed).

The Start of a New Beginning

Here's the scene when I walked in to my first class this fall, a group of freshmen on a Tuesday afternoon, some of them in their first college class. They're ready to go, some of them full of sass, some of trepidation.

Some appear to be paying more attention to what's on the computer screen than what's going on around them. We'll see what happens. So far, we're all hopeful!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Note Taped to My Windshield

Sometimes a parking space is just too good to be true. You cruise up, every other spot is taken, and there's this one juicy parking spot right where you want to be. Why might that be? Best not to look.

Until, later, you return to find your ownly warning taped emphatically to your motorcycle windshield.

As the wife points out, being RD is no piece of cake, and the parking spot is one of the few perks. I got a name and wrote the poor guy an apology.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Caravan to the West

Each year a caravan of horses, riders, wagons, and miscellaneous contraptions come by the house on their way to Prairie Village Days. I enjoy seeing them come on by.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When Cars (and Trucks) Go Bad

Looking into some of the offerings by and the kinds of software (all of it free) that they offer, I ran into this photo stream of some extravagant wrecks, from cars in holes to holes in cars and everything in between. Take a look at the photos, but then stop to take a look at what Zoho offers. They're not Microsoft, and they're not Google.

Hello Duluth, and Goodbye

The wife and I took a brief mini-vacation last week, squeezing it in between the end of the roofing project and the beginning of the school year, leaving Wednesday and returning Saturday. The two full days in Duluth were just what the doctor ordered, although the dosage was not what we'd hoped.

Despite the short time spent there, we managed to check out the following:
  • Split Rock Lighthouse, out north of Duluth on Lake Superior--see the wife pictured here, enjoying the lake breezes and the view of the lighthouse
  • Gooseberry Falls Park, where we picked (yes, I know it's probably not legal) a few gooseberries as we hiked along the trails. It's a beautiful park.
  • Skyline Drive, a ridge-running street above and through Duluth that gives a great look at the city and Hawk Ridge. I still wish we'd picked that chokecherry bush clean!
  • Aerial Lift Bridge, where we got to see it lift a couple of times for small private and tourist boats.
  • Sweeney Todd, a great creepy play put on at the Play House, a small, 80-seat venue that puts you up close and personal to the cast, who also play all the instruments. The whole operation takes place right on stage, no exits or entries. This was probably the highlight of the trip.
  • Fitger's Brewhouse, an old-timey brewery that sits right on the lake. Good brew!
  • Hell's Kitchen, an off-beat eatery that serves up gigantic ribs and other heavenly fare.
  • Rustic Inn, up near Two Harbors, where we had some great food and fantastic pie. Our source told us to forget Betty's Pies and go to this place. We've got no problem with that!
  • Grandma's, a must-stop, not only for the great brew, but also for the fact that they're the sponsors of Duluth's great marathon.
We had been planning to go to Winnipeg, but at the last minute we headed the car northeast instead of straight north. We got to travel through some country we hadn't seen. Excellent!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sweet Wyoming Home, by Bill Staines

I heard this song every once in a while on an NPR program called Iron Rails, I think it was. I was looking around for stuff on Dan O'Brien and his book on the buffalo, and for some reason this song crossed my mind. Thanks to Youtube, I now have a source where I can play it whenever I get the urge.

Kawasaki Back on the Asphalti

Last summer brother Jess and I rode our bikes out to Idaho and back again, quite a journey for a guy who used to rarely put 1000 miles total on a bike before I sent it down the road (some of them rarely ran). But that trip saw a little spill up in the mountains in northern Wyoming, and my Concours took a beating from that, just not enough to stop the trip. So I gathered parts and planned over the winter to get it all back together, but that didn't happen. Spring came, and the bike still was not fully assembled. Then roofing came. Then a bad foot. But over the past few days I took some time and finished the painting and got the bike all back together. Here's a pic just after I've cleaned off the accumulated dust and readied the bike for its first ride in almost a year. It's working good!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Beemer Takes its Beating

JB and family ran into a wicked hailstorm outside of Sturgis on their way home from out west, and the result was a stop alongside the interstate while hail battered their classy Beemer into a big, black dimpled German vehicle. With the kids in their car seats in the back, the hail hammered the rear window completely out of the car, but all was well with the family once the hail stopped and they found the kindness of strangers alive and well. Although it may look as though JB riled up some bikers enough to attack his car with tiny ballpeen hammers, I'll buy his story about the hail. It meshes with the weather reports out there. I'm sure he's glad he and the little ladies weren't cruising through on a Harley chopper.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's that Bare Spot Behind the Garage?

It's the spot vacated by Casey's short-lived first car, one that took him down the road for about 60 miles and crapped out after giving full warning by clattering and clunking until the clunks turned into chunks.

It's like I just bought another 90 sqare feet of lot, but got paid for it!

Clunks became ice chunks for friend JB and the other B's as they took the South Dakota Adventure Slide (otherwise known as Interstate 90) from Sturgis to Rapid City in August. All are well. If I get a picture from them, I'll post it here. Their Black Beauty looks like Tiger's been using her for a driving range target. Bummer. I hope the State Farm people treat them well.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Watch the Bikers Go By

The Sturgis rally is winding down, just this weekend left, and a wicked hail storm ran many of them out of town the other day, so there will be a stream of bikes rumbling through towns across the area. Meanwhile, if you like looking at the bikes and not hearing all the racket, and maybe prefer thinking of simpler times, check out this flickr photostream of a motorcycle lover, who has photos from the early 70's through the years, including many he took while riding down the highway. Thanks, rr250roadracer!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Madison Area Arts Council Goes Online

Chris Francis and others have been working hard to bring the Madison Area Arts Council back from the doldrums. They met last night, and things seem to be rolling along. One of the things they've done is get a new website that looks very good and has a lot of information about arts activities in the area. Check it out here, and join in on the fun there and at the events listed. If you're an artist in the area, get signed up!

Ready to Text and Drive?

Check out this test of your ability to text and drive at the same time, courtesy of The New York Times.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

O'Brien's Wild Idea

I just finished Dan O'Brien's book Buffalo for the Broken Heart, which has been selected for the One Book South Dakota discussion series. I'm leading the discussion here in Madison on the 18th. The book is a good read, a compelling story filled with the ideal of returning the high plains to a more natural state, bringing back buffalo to play their prominent role in the ecology here. To make that plan work, O'Brien has established an internet presence to distribute the grass-fed, organic buffalo meat that funds his efforts.

It looks tasty. Expensive, but tasty. I'm trying to figure out what to buy. Check out the offerings at Wild Idea Buffalo Company.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Rudimentary Transportation

You don't think about your feet as much as you should most of the time. Take one out of commission, and you have an entirely new perspective on the importance of having both feet available for transporting yourself across a room or up and down a flight of stairs. Another note you too might recognize is that armpits are not meant to play a major role in getting from here to there. They don't like it.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Just Short of Getting There

Throughout our roofing project, we kept saying how good it was that nobody had gotten hurt. We could have had a sign up that said "Days Without Injuries--All of Them!" But that's not the case now.

See that peak on the front porch? Where the stairs come up? Okay, to the right of that is where I had the ladder leaned up so any marks on the drip edge would not show.

Yesterday morning, just getting started, I climbed the ladder with a half dozen shingles over my shoulder, stepped onto the roof, and promptly slid off and down to the ground. I landed mostly on my right foot, which now counts as the first injury. No broken bones, according to x-rays. But sore? Yes. I'll cool it for a few days and hope to be back to finish the couple of hours of roofing that remain.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Year I Became a Teenager

Much is being said about 1969, with the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, and a multimedia offering on the NY Times focusing on the culture from that year was a reminder for me that although I spent most of that year being 12, it was also the year I became a teen.

The moon landing was much on my mind that summer, as I had followed the earlier Apollo launches and built models of the Mercury and Apollo vehicles. My aunt Jan and her husband were in Florida working for NASA, and they sent me, just another kid far from the action, posters, articles, and even a NASA pocketknife. I had a poster of the Saturn rocket on my wall; my friend Randy Schumacher wanted it badly. He too was an avid fan of the space missions.

It's a long time ago now, but 1969 was a big year.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gustav Marzion's Signature

I'm still thinking that the signature on the board found in our old porch is Gustav Marzion (or Murzion, perhaps more likely). I found a reference to Emma Marzion in our own Smith-Zimmerman Museum site; she's buried in Graceland Cemetary here in Lake County, SD. She died in 1910. No Gustav, though; perhaps he moved on. A search for his name exactly, however, turns up nothing but this humble blogger's reference to him.

The name Marzion is common; Murzion, not so much. JB wants to know more about the signed S-L-K crossways on the board. Who's SLK? Gustav's more reticent partner? Every carpenter needs a partner.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Winless to Wanless

I enjoyed this song, sent by LB, about the triumph of the Wanless guy from Winner who won the big lottery prize.

Climbing Down

JB says most accidents happen on Mt. Everest when climbers are coming down rather than going up. I can see how that could happen, oxygen deprived, tired, anxious, dragging their nail guns. But the big boom boom boom truck left today and so far nobody's taken the quick route off the roof. There's still some shingling to be done--the front porch is ready for new shingles and the back entry and the widow's walk (I'm gonna keep calling it that though the wife says that's not what it is) still await.

Today I found something I hoped might appear--a signed board by a person I'll take to be the original carpenter. But who is it? My guess is Gustav Marzion, though I could well be wrong. It's dated--2 August 1901. I found it under the roof boards (I was replacing the first rotten boards I've found) and hope to get a good pic of it to post here. Wherever you are, Gustav, here's to you and the house you built!

Friday, July 10, 2009

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Seemed like it was time for a new post on ole' Horseshoe Seven, so the wife has hijacked the site to offer a little dedication to her hardworking roof cowboy.

Roofin’, Roofin’, Roofin’

Keep roofin', roofin', roofin',
Though Mother Nature’s disapprovin',
Keep them shingles movin', Rawhide!
Don't try to understand 'em,
Just nail and throw and grab 'em,
Soon we'll be living warm and dry.
Boy my heart's calculatin'
My true love will be waitin', be waiting at the end of my ride.
Tear 'em off, nail 'em up,
Nail 'em up, goop 'em down,
Tear 'em off, nail 'em down, Rawhide!

John is tearing off the last of the old stuff as I type, so with some luck (and a couple dry days), John should be back soon.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Old Girl's Makeup

My sister indicated that I had not yet put up a photo that shows some of the color we're adding to the house, so here's one. Sorry, it's a photo with my phone, not so great. Note that I'm about ready to shingle the roof to the right of the dormer pictured here.

Top, fish-scales, are a dark grey, along with the brackets below the eaves and the panels above the upstairs windows. Diamond shapes on each side of the window are a lighter grey, and the window crowns and inner grooves on the brackets are a kind of orange. It's going to look good!