Category Archives: Media

Her Cheatin’ Heart

This weekend’s post comes to us from Ben.

My car radio displays the name and artist of whatever is playing.

Like most of us here, I have a wide range of musical tastes. Also I’m a channel surfer whether radio or TV and consequently as I’m flipping through radio stations I see a song called “She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Son”.

Mind Blown! I don’t know if I should be appalled at the lack of moral character of this woman, or the bad grammar, or the cheatin’ son. And the song started and the man sang “She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Songs”.

Oh. “Songs”. That’s different. I’m still offended by the lousy grammar. More than her possibly loose character evidently. But at least the son isn’t cheating. Ugh, I cannot do country music unless it’s Johnny Cash.

It’s a song by John Anderson. Evidently, it’s humorous. I wouldn’t know; I didn’t listen to any more of it.

Ever cheat? Get away with it?


My brain knows that English is a flexible language and I know that all the words we use today were at some point made up. But when I saw the above banner, I don’t know what upset me more – that there is a banner with a made-up word hanging on the side of a school or that it was going from down to up!

Anything outraging you today?

Virtual Wanderlust

One of the interesting parts of being a writer, advertising my books, and having an active website is tracking from where my website visitors come. Thanks to Google Analytics, I can see (approximately) each visitor’s log-in location. I initially expected most visitors to come from the Owatonna area and Minnesota in general. To a large part, they do live in those areas. But over the last three years, my biggest number of “fans” hailed from someplace called Samara, Samara Oblast in Russia. And this is #1 by a huge margin out of more than 840 locations that have been detected on my website in the last three years.

Samara is a large city (3 million +) southeast of Moscow on the Volga River. Lest you think my books have been translated into Russian and become wildly popular in a town not too far from the NW border of Kazakhstan, the real reason for my seeming popularity is probably something else.

I probably was the target of an intense robo-campaign to hack into my website by a company or an individual who mistakenly thought I had anything of value on my author website like credit card numbers. Fat chance. I don’t handle ANY transactions on my website and don’t intend to! The “Samarians” haven’t checked in with me in the past year or more, which further points to a hacking campaign that was eventually discontinued.

Nevertheless, it got me to haul out my world atlas and start looking up all the strange places where people come from who have checked out for one reason or another. Because I’ve been in love with map reading since I was about four years old, this is a fun diversion for me. I can page through an atlas for hours, noticing towns, states, bodies of water, islands, and mountains that stir my imagination and get me wondering what a trip to that exotic (or not-so-exotic) place would be like.

So I’ve wasted lots of time wondering about other locations that show up on my Google Analytics dashboard: St. Petersburg, Russia; Vienna, Austria; Naples, Italy; Kailua, Hawaii; and Hull, England. All are places in the top 70 locations that have landed on my website over the past three years.

That leads to my question: With what places do you have a strange or unique connection that is not physical OR personal (as in having relatives or friends who live there)?

Science and Me

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I grew up thinking some people are born with science and math competence, but many are not. I long ago concluded I am stuck in the “not” group. Not surprisingly, I performed badly in the two science courses my high school forced me to take.

When I went to college I honored my mother’s fervent wish by declaring a pre-med major. That didn’t last long. In my freshman year I got a D in inorganic chemistry, a “gentleman’s D” that should have been an F. I switched my major to American Studies. I instantly felt relief because history and literature classes were fun and almost easy for me. I regretted being such a dunce in science classes, but it seemed obvious that I was never meant to be a scientist.

Life has ways of challenging our prejudices. As an outdoorsman and outdoor journalist I was a passionate advocate for intelligent management of the planet and all things that live on it. And guess what? I couldn’t fight for sound wildlife management without considering the science used to defend different management programs. When thoughtful people began dreading climate change, I realized that ignorance about science was a luxury our society cannot afford.

Writing about wolf management obliged me to confront tricky science issues. The state of Alaska has long been enthusiastic about lethal wolf management. Alaska’s game managers claim scientific research proves that killing wolves will boost populations of caribou and moose. Many wolf biologists disagreed. I was forced to consider whether Alaska’s wolf studies were sound science or just excuses to kill wolves.

At about the same time, I met wolf researcher Dave Mech, the most dedicated scientist I’ve known personally. Dave helped me see the dangers of sloppy science. After working with him I realized (to my astonishment) that I respect the scientific method. It is an intellectual discipline that makes it possible to test ideas about the world we live in.

My personal odyssey of coming to admire science has been boosted enormously by the way so many politicians have decided that science is their enemy. The current occupant of the White House hates science. He dismisses the wisdom of genuine experts, favoring the whims of his “gut.” As recently as 1990 many Republican politicians supported science research, but that seems like a distant memory now. I’m convinced that the anti-science culture so prevalent today is anti-intellectualism in a form that threatens all the values I hold dear.

I once would have cheerfully admitted to “hating science.” No more. I dream of a time when science and its rigorous style of problem solving is respected again. If we are to make America great again, that would be a smart place to start.

Does science touch on your life now? Do you have feelings about science?

RIP Peter

I was a little too young to be a full-on Beatles fan. In the mid-60s, I hadn’t quite hit puberty yet and didn’t have any of the drama and angst about pop idols that was needed.  But that changed just a few years later when the Monkees hit the pop scene.

Along with my friends, I papered by bedroom walls with Monkee posters, I watched their tv show religiously, I bought every single and album, I read every Tiger Beat and Teen Idol that I could get my hands on. In 1967 at the age of 11, I convinced by folks to let me go to their concert with some friends when they played St. Louis (there was a chaperone with us).  It was the first pop concert I ever attended.

Peter was my favorite Monkee. Davy was most people’s favorite, but I liked Peter; he was portrayed as a little dorky and scatter-brained, the underdog.  I am always attracted to the underdog.  So I was sad earlier this week when I heard the news that he has passed away at the age of 77.  Not distraught but it somehow feels as if a stage of my life has passed as well.  I’m listening to the Monkees right now on my pc.

Who was your first idol?

Attention Span

While I was standing next to my car last week, filling up the tank, I realized that the screen embedded in the fueling station didn’t just have some pop-up ads showing but an actual video stream of a basketball game. TV.

At my gym, there is a speaker OUTSIDE that plays music as you are approaching/departing the building. Equipment like bikes and treadmills all have individual tv screens and for the weight-lifting machine there are big screens hanging from the ceiling.  There is even a TV in the locker room.  In most airports you can’t find a space that doesn’t have something blaring at you. With everyone glued to their phones these days, it seems a waste of electricity.

It made me think that we have become a society with such a limited attention span that we need 24/7 entertainment. There are several folks here at my office who use earbuds all the time – even when they are away from their desks and I often see people walking along, looking like they are talking to themselves, but of course they are on their phones.

In college I had a professor who had memorized all of Paradise Lost by John Milton.  Today he’d have it downloaded to his phone so he could access it whenever he wanted!

What the largest thing you have memorized?

Keeping Warm

Photo from IMBd.

I’m not sure why but the cold weather this week found me yearning for our old Monday morning song by the Sons of the Pioneers. Luckily you can find this kind of thing on the internet.  I’ve played it several times over the past few days.  It doesn’t warm me up physically, but gives me an inside warmth that comes with good memories.

Here’s another:

Just one more:

What warms your heart?