Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hey Kobrinsky, Check Out the Dead Man

Sister-in-law Sarah Kobrinsky (and fictional detective) has a new short piece in The Molotov Cocktail Dead Man! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 25, A Day to Celebrate

When the wife's birthday comes around, we take the chance to get out and do something a bit different to make the day special and to celebrate the event.  So, this year we buzzed out of town and did some things that she likes to do, which, in this case, involved eating some good food, doing a little shopping for clothes and other stuff, and feeling lots of different kinds of yarn.  Anything the wife wants to do, I'm her man. 

Crawford's in downtown Sioux Falls
We also did some things for yours truly, which involved picking up some new tires for the bicycle and having a good "old-fashioned" down at Crawford's, where we had some excellent food (blackberry ribs and walnut-encrusted pork chop) and dessert (midnight chocolate cake).  Yum!  Beautiful place, too. 

We also picked up a copy of the new Joe Walsh album, "Analog Man," but we forgot it in the trunk and haven't listened to it yet. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

First Snow, 2012

First Snow, Fall 2012
Schoolchildren across parts of South Dakota are rejoicing today (or at least going back to sleep) as snow has accumulated enough to cause schools to open a few hours late, from Bon Homme to Scotland to Bennett County. 

Rejoice, young people, and enjoy those few extra hours of sleep! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Investing in the Zombie Future

Doesn't this look delicious? A zombie documentary, sort of, from the makers of THE PEOPLE vs. GEORGE LUCAS. Featuring Simon Pegg and George A. Romero.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Russell and Me

I don't have a picture of me and Russell Means, who died yesterday at the age of 72, like I do have of me and George McGovern.  But our paths did cross, several times.  I was a young kid working on a ranch down in southwestern South Dakota, just off the Rosebud Reservation, and the American Indian Movement was in full swing in that area.  I was working with some Lakota ranch hands on the place, but I was afraid of those wild AIM guys.  At that time Russel Means was active on the reservation, trying to revive some traditions that were being lost, and there was a sun dance planned near Ghost Hawk Lake, between Parmalee, SD, and St. Francis.

It just so happened that the ranch where I was working was north of Parmalee and my boss wanted me to drive a tractor to St. Francis, where we were going to work some land.  That meant I had to drive the tractor past where the sun dance was being held.  And it didn't have a road gear.  So, I remember full well the anxiety I had as I crossed bridges marked with spray-painted AIM lettering and other "Red Power" slogans.  And fearing what might happen as I neared the sun dance.  But nothing did.  Russell Means, the warrior/trouble-maker, in our view, was supposed to be there.  I couldn't see much.  Later, as I passed a little settlement of houses, some kids began to run out from their yards, and they could have caught me easily, even easier on bicycles, but they apparently had little interest in me.

Years later, I talked with Russell Means on the phone when I was researching the reaction of Indians to the popularity of "Dances With Wolves."  He denounced that film as one of the most racist movies ever, and although I agreed that there were problems with the film, there wasn't much of a chance to convey that to him.  He wanted to be heard.  Shortly afterwards I learned that he had been filming "Last of the Mohicans" about that time, and I was impressed with his role in that--a very non-stereotypical character.  But at that same time, what many do not know, was that he was also playing a very stereotypical role in a computer game, "Under the Killing Moon," one of the first computer games to include live action video.

I also seem to remember that my grandfather, who lived in Sioux City, once rented a house to Russell Means, which was right next door to him.  I remember a woman coming to the door, paying the rent, and my grandfather telling me, "That's Russell Means, in the car."  We knew who he was then.  That was maybe 1970 or so.  

So, another of these iconic figures for me is gone. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Borofsky Chosen as Dakota State University President

Just came from the meeting where the SD BOR announced that they were finished searching for a new president for DSU:  
MADISON, S.D. – David B. Borofsky, interim president at Dakota State University since February, has been chosen by the South Dakota Board of Regents to become the 22nd president of the university. The board took action on the permanent appointment at a special meeting today on the Madison campus.

He succeeds Douglas Knowlton, who left the South Dakota public university system earlier this year for a higher education position in Minnesota. “President Borofsky has done an outstanding job at Dakota State during this interim,” said Regents President Kathryn Johnson. “We crafted a series of expectations for him as interim president and he has far exceeded those. He has excelled at building relationships between the campus and the Madison community and at raising private funds for the university,” Johnson said.

“President Borofsky has been building a positive momentum for Dakota State University, and no one wanted to break that momentum,” she said. “I am excited to be named permanent president of Dakota State University,” Borofsky said. “I am impressed with the university faculty and staff and their commitment to quality education and superior service for our students, as well as to the success of Madison,” he said. “The Madison community has extended a warm and inclusive welcome and has been open to new ideas and change. I look forward to serving DSU and Madison for years to come.”

While the Board of Regents initially said Borofsky would not be a candidate for the permanent president’s position, Johnson said the board reconsidered and “responded to a groundswell of support from the campus and community.” She noted that Borofsky had been chosen for the interim position after a competitive interim search process that involved multiple candidates and applicant interviews.

Borofsky previously served as provost and chief academic officer of Westwood College, a for-profit college with 18 physical locations in six states. His resume also includes time as president of Bates Technical College (Wash.) and as a vice president and dean at Colorado Mountain College. He has served communities as a member and president of the local Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, as well as working with the United Way and a variety of economic development organizations.

His passion is working with local communities to help spur economic development and interest and growth in the arts and culture. Since coming to Madison, Borofsky has become a member of the Madison Rotary Club, is a board member of the Lake Area Improvement Corp., and has been an active member of the Madison Community Center. He also serves on the Mundt Foundation’s board of directors. Borofsky holds a doctorate degree in educational administration and supervision from Rutgers University (N.J.) and a master of education degree and B.S. degree in psychology, both from Springfield College (Mass.). His family includes his wife, Mady, and a daughter, Alexis, who lives in Portland, Ore.
So,  congratulations to Dr. Borofsky, and we hope for a great relationship with him as we move forward at DSU.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

George McGovern Gets Peace

George McGovern and me in Mitchell, June 2008, at the Obama Rally.
George McGovern was my introduction to politics when he was running for President of the United States in 1972 and I was a high school student.  I knew little about government or politics but became engaged about some of the issues as our native son became the Democratic candidate for President.  He stood then, as he always was, as the candidate for peace.  His passion and commitment to that cause was always tempered by kindness and compassion, and he lived with a dedication to peace all of his life.  I take great pleasure in having crossed paths with him; his brand of leadership is something we can all aspire to and hope for in our elected officials. 

DSU Announcement Monday

Friday afternoon is not a friendly time for getting information out to employees, so it's an odd time for South Dakota Board of Regents head to send out the following message to the DSU campus:
Dear Dakota State University Community, The South Dakota Board of Regents will meet Monday, October 22, 2012, at 10 a.m. (Central Daylight Time) in the Straatmeyer Auditorium of the Tunheim Classroom Building (TCB 203) on the campus of Dakota State University for an announcement regarding the presidential search at DSU. Immediately following the regents’ meeting, at this same location, a campus-community forum will be held.
More contact information, but no additional hints, are provided on the Board of Regents website here:

Looking back through previous news releases, I see the meeting is in keeping with the timeline set for the search when Dr. Doug Knowlton stepped down as DSU head and Dr. David Borofsky was appointed interim president.  Announced in December of last year, the press release states, "The search process will launch officially in October 2012, once the new academic year is under way."  So the meeting may be simply to reveal the job description and indicate the rest of the search timeline.

Meanwhile, the search for a president for SD School of Mines is under way, with committee members chosen. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

We Live in a Strange World

Today Felix Baumgartner rode a capsule into the sky, buoyed by a helium-filled balloon, up 25 miles into the very thin atmosphere, and then he stepped out and began the long, four-minute fall to earth, when he unfurled his parachute and stepped back onto solid ground.  He was falling, for a time, at over 800 miles per hour in his little space suit, looking like someone out of "2001 A Space Odyssey."  I'm not sure what we learn from such feats, even thinking of a man moving faster than the speed of sound, any more than people a century ago trying to figure out how to survive a leap over Niagara Falls. But learn we do, and we keep moving on, discovering new territory.
Others have tried such feats of altitude.  A note came in today from the alumni people at St. Mary of the Plains College, where I used to teach, that an alumnus there, Nick Piantanida, made his own attempt in 1966, which ended in his death four months later.  He had made other attempts, from early in life to this final dive, to challenge the gravitational field--not bad for a truck driver.  You can read more about that 1966 attempt in the article linked above.
The real tragic stories, though, are the failure not of an individual, but of a people.  I can't help shake the sense that it's just wrong to put a person to death for crimes they have committed.  About 24 hours from now, the State of South Dakota will put Eric Roberts to death.  I almost wrote "will kill Eric Roberts."  Same thing?  Sounds worse, doesn't it?  Roberts is a convicted murder and rapist.  He'll come to earth too, in his own way.  His death will bring some closure to the families of his victims, perhaps.  I hope so, because all South Dakotans share in the responsibility for what will now happen to Roberts.
Too bad these events are oddly linked in my thoughts; the triumph of Mr. Baumgartner is remarkable and inspiring, and his success is to be celebrated.  Congratulations, Felix.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Putting On The Hat and Animation

Interesting recording of the singer John Reuben confronting his animators about a change he has in mind for an animated video they've been working on for several months.  Having taken to wearing hats, Reuben suggests that the cartoon character of him wear a hat.  "It's just semantics," he says, thinking that putting a hat on the thousands of frames of him is as simple as putting on and taking off his hat, which he demonstrates for the animators.  Hat on, hat off.  Easy.  So, here's the interview as the video is in progress (which I can't help thinking is a bit of a setup), and then the music video "Word of Mouth."  Hat? No hat?  See for yourself. The confrontation: The resulting video:

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Craigslist Warning Light

Who looks at a bike like this and says, "I want it!" ??
I've got a friend who's convinced that I need to buy another motorcycle and fix it up.  I'm not sure he remembers that the last couple have not panned out.  But he seems to be having as much fun searching for me as I sometimes do myself, looking for two-hundred-dollar bikes that need my lovin'.  But I just sold an old 1982 Kawasaki Spectre 750 (see pic) for half what I paid for it after I had worked on it and tried to get it to go.  And a little Vespa moped is sitting in the garage waiting for my magic touch.
So, I told him my Craigslist warning light was on.  Blinking.  Alarms will sound.  I'm not buying another motorcycle after I've put the storm windows on.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Not Running

My daughter, her man, and her daughter live only a few blocks from Mile 14 on the Twin Cities Marathon course, where the flag marking that milestone is right across the street from an aromatic coffee and doughnut shop.  Because of my injured foot, I decided, late on Saturday evening, that there would be no marathon for me--no run, no medal, no finisher t-shirt.  And no regrets. 
Christopher Kipyego wins the TCM--from Star Tribune
It was fun to watch the runners come by; I'd never seen the front runners on the course before, and they were clicking along like clockwork, finishing in 2:14 for the men, 2:32 for the women.
I've been reading Haruki Murakami's book on running.  He's the author of several works of fiction, and although I have enjoyed them, this one seemed self-indulgent and meandering in a way that I didn't care for, but it kept my interest well enough to finish.  He deals with his own injuries in the book. 
On the drive back from dropping off the pooch for care while we were gone, we had a surprise when a coyote dashed out of the ditch and got clipped by the front of our car (knocked out the fog light!).  He wasn't to be seen afterwards, so his injury was not fatal, at least not instantly.  But his running certainly would be hampered.  I hadn't seen a coyote for a long time. 
It's been tough to deal with the injury to my foot; I didn't think too much of it the day it happened, out on a last long run two weeks before the marathon.  But as my foot rolled, something popped, and it had me instantly worried, but it didn't seem too bad.  And there were no real lingering effects.  But then another run and some time on my feet out in the garage seemed to bring it back a week later.  It's been hurting since, but getting better. 
Still, a short jog along Lake Hiawatha and the after-effects of that seemed to say, "don't run."  So I didn't.
But the trip was a good one, and we got to see the growing little granddaughter, a real peach.  The weather was good, and we enjoyed some good company and a little fun shopping.  Then, as usual, we made a stop at the cool apple place on highway 169 and picked up some tasty root beer. 
Two good root beers.  My Dang! was better.
So, when we talk, we can talk about all that, and not so much the not running. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

A Cold Slap in the Back Yard

We've been enjoying beautiful fall weather here in Madison, South Dakota, but today took a change for the colder, bringing wind and a temperature that will stay in the 40's or 50's today, thirty or more degrees below the highs over the past few days.

The wind has convinced many of the leaves that have been decorating our aerial views to now move on to more earthy things.

Twin Cities Marathon Prep (and Electronic Tracker Service!)

This fall I'm in the ring again for the annual Twin Cities Marathon, hoping to survive the race again.  It's not looking great this year due, once again, to a mishap shortly before the race.  On my last good Sunday run, on September 30, I twisted my left foot and heard a pop as I navigated the gravel road just south of our house.  I gingerly kept moving, noting the degree of pain there, and decided it wasn't bad, so I kept going for about a ten-miler, out to Johnson's Point on Lake Madison and back.  For several days I could tell there was something there in my foot, but it didn't really hurt.  The following Thursday I took a good run out at Lake Herman, feeling good and fast, no pain.  Then Thursday night as I was in the garage, it started to ache, so I came in and got off of it, but it's hurt since, but getting gradually better.  So, we'll see.

In the meantime, I've been checking out the web site for the marathon, and it seems they've put in place a tracking and notification system for runner fans to get updates on their runner(s).  The system will not only send a text when the runner passes a tracking point; it will also predict when the runner will get to the next spot.  So,  IF I manage to heal up sufficiently to toe the starting line, I can look forward to broadcasting my progress as I go along.  See the video above for an overview of the service.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Where We're Headed

I'm preparing students for an essay on popular culture, and I ran into this cool vision of the future of electronic gadgetry meets dating.