Category Archives: News

Right or Wrong

Today marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing on an island near the Bahamas and believing he was in  Asia. My, was he wrong.  No one in my father’s family was ever wrong, so they thought.  They believed they were really French.  They just couldn’t reconcile themselves to be Dutch.  In reality, they are Frisian, but how do you explain what that means? I never expected Ronald Reagan to be elected president. My, was I wrong.

When have you been really, really, right? When have you been really, really, wrong?

Getting Deposed

I am being deposed. No, I don’t mean thrown out of office or my job. I mean that I will be soon sitting in a room at a court house with four lawyers, their assistants, and a court reporter. I have been subpoenaed as an expert witness in a case  related  to my work.  Three of the lawyers will ask me questions. One will try to discredit me and my testimony, while the other two will like what I have to say.  The fourth lawyer is sent from the Attorney General’s office, since I am a State employee,  to help me out if needed.

My lawyer from the AG’s office is a very nice man who sent me a list of helpful hints for giving testimony and  who will  provide all the documents that I was ordered to bring to the hearing. I have testified in court many times before and have given at least one deposition, but it was nice to talk it over with him.  I am not a difficult witness, and I know how to behave on the stand. This made me think, though, what a thankless task it will be for the poor lawyer or lawyers who will prepare 45 for giving testimony and answering questions on the stand.  I can’t imagine it will be pretty.

Have you ever had to testify in court? Imagine you are a lawyer.  Think of some historical or literary characters and tell us how you would prepare them to testify in court. 

Taking My Show On The Road

The following is an excerpt from an article in our local paper, The Dickinson Press, for September 17, 2019, written by reporter Josiah Cuellar.

“An 18-wheeler loaded with a massive, four-ton potato, on its annual tour of the country, stopped by The Hub at West Dakota Oils which was having their grand reopening Tuesday, Sept. 17.  The Big Idaho Potato crew filled up and welcomed the public to get photos and ask questions to the truck driver, Melissa Bradford, and the “Tater Twins,” Kaylee Wells and Jessica Coulthard.  “No two potatoes look alike, neither do the Tater Twins,” Wells said.  “It’s just a really fun campaign,” Coulthard added. The annual tour began in 2012, and the popularity of it keeps bringing the colossal spud back. “They built the potato truck to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission,” Coulthard said,  “It was originally supposed to be one-year tour, but it got so popular they just kept it going.”  While every trip in the giant, potato-shaped truck is unique, this year’s tour is extra special because it features the first all-female group. “We are the first all-female team that they had on tour,” Wells said. “We get to show other women that you can do anything that you put your mind to, that you can succeed in a man’s world; you can do whatever you want.””

Ok. I think this is pretty silly and weirdly wonderful.  No matter what happens in the next few weeks in Washington, I think it is important to remember that this is what makes us a great nation.

What would you like to load up on a big truck and take on tour? Where would you take it?

Who Dunnit?

We all know that headlines don’t always tell the story. The last few days there have been lots of articles about scientists “solving the Loch Ness Monster”.  Although I am a skeptic in general, I couldn’t help clicking on the first story I saw.  Of course scientists have NOT solved the mystery of Nessie.  What they have done is find more eel dna in the water of the lake than they expected.  All it took was for one person to say “maybe the Loch Ness Monster is really a giant eel” for the story to take off.

The same arguments for why the Loch Ness Monster can’t exist apply to a giant eel (lake too cold, not enough food to keep a giant eel alive, no bones/evidence of previous generations) but that hasn’t stopped the explosion of “Nessie is a giant eel” stories.

I don’t make it a point of following stories like the Loch Ness Monster, the faked moon landing or anything having to do with Area 51, but I look at reports if they cross my path. I do follow the work being done on Amelia Earhart’s disappearance fairly closely (TIGHAR) and I do think this mystery will be solved in my lifetime.  But Nessie, not so much.

What mystery would you like to be explained?

Gender Bender

I have followed with some dismay the recent criticism of poor little Prince George for taking ballet lessons, and was glad to see the support of his dancing by other media figures and dancers.  Our son studied ballet for 12 years. It helped with some of his motor coordination problems from his prematurity. He channeled it into a study of the martial arts in college, and now he can break a board on his head!  He still retains some dance moves, and it is amusing to see all 6’5″, 250 lbs. of him doing a pas de chat (dance of the cat) down the sidewalk.

I did not encounter much gender bias growing up. My parents encouraged me to do what I wanted to do. I remember being outraged at about age 5 when I was told I couldn’t run around outside without a  shirt, though. Most of my cousins were boys, so I played lots of sports with them and tagged along with them as they did their boy activities like building model cars and tree houses, stockpiling fire crackers, making homemade cannons, and setting pocket gopher traps.

I remember that boys with non-traditional interests had a harder time of it.  I remember the discomfort people back home had when a boy became the first male cheerleader at my high school.  It looks like, given poor Prince George,  that things haven’t changed much. I hope he keeps dancing. Maybe he will do a pas de chat through Westminister Abbey at his coronation.

What gender bias did you encounter or witness growing up?

Urban Legend

Today in 565 AD, St, Columba reported seeing the Loch Ness Monster.  I wonder how he would feel if he knew people were still talking about Nessie today.

Around Luverne, legend has it that Jesse James jumped his horse across a ridiculously wide gap at the Devil’s Gulch in Garretson, SD, running away from Northfield and the disastrous raid there.  I have seen the gap and I seriously doubt a horse could jump it, but what do I know? Luvernites also believe that a tornado will never strike the town because of some special characteristics of the Blue Mounds formations to the north of the city. Maybe. Maybe, though, we have just been lucky.

Any legends from where you have lived or where you grew up? What is your favorite urban legend?


Ben’s Rampage

I was sad to read in the Rock County Star Herald, a weekly paper from my home town to which I subscribe, that the Hills Crescent newspaper is ceasing publication. Hills is a small town southwest of Luverne, and the Star Herald, which owns the Crescent, decided to close it down. They promise that Hills and Beaver Creek news and issues will be covered in the Star Herald.

The Crescent was in publication for 126 years. It was started in 1893 and had 200 subscribers when it started. The first press they used was a Rampage brand press that had been previously owned by Ben Franklin! It was the oldest press machine in the US at the time. I think that is so cool! It only printed one page at a time. I have no idea where it got its name. It doesn’t sound like it rampaged at that pace.

Our current town newspaper only publishes Tuesday through Saturday.  It is delivered by the Post Office, so we sometimes don’t get the paper until late in the afternoon. Were it not for the local court news and the comics, we probably wouldn’t subscribe. I envy people who live somewhere they can get a real paper every day.

What are your favorite and least favorite newspapers?