Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Citizens Band
Much is made of internet chat; people claim it’s such a revolution in
communication. I see it as nothing more than an extension of a need
for people to chit-chat. People once communicated with the telegraph,
a mailed letter or even smoke signals, no matter what the medium-they
like to talk. There is one type of electronically-delivered blather
that is very similar to internet chat in its use of code, anonymity
of user and purpose; both were the “wild west” of communication for
The Citizens Band radio was the seventies thing to do, at home or in
the car. People had names or “handles” just as people now use on the
internet. They also spoke using “10 codes” which is similar to the
abbreviated phrases employed during internet chat. It was used in
businesses and for recreation, just like the internet is used today.
That is where it ends for me. I thought CB radios where so much
cooler than internet chat. Chatting on the internet is flat and lacks
the inflection that the spoken word delivers and all of its
accompanying subtleties. You can also hear background noise on a CB
which gives you context based on the sender’s location. Plus the
radio sets just looked neat.
An entire culture grew around the use of CB radios. Truckers used
it-a mixed bag of the lonely, the icky and the tired whiled away the
hours in search of a little talk and maybe news about where smokey
had his “speed trap” set.
My brother, Dave, would come home most week-ends from his job in
Fordville, North Dakota. He would call on his CB radio and I would
try to receive his communications on my little walkie-talkie. I
multiplied my reception distance by clamping the alligator clip to
our television antenna to my little walkie. I felt like I was
reaching out to the world. Dave would mark the furthest distance of
reception for my entertainment and amazement.
If you spoke on a CB radio in the seventies, you used your CB voice.
It seemed to me that most people either spoke with a slight southern
drawl or dropped their voice at least an octave. I think it was
similar to internet chat in that the radio allowed you to become
CW McCall extolled the Citizen’s Band culture in song. CW McCall was
a character created by Bill Fries who was an advertising executive at
Bozell and Jacobs in Omaha, Nebraska. The character was created to
sell “Old Home Bread” for the Metz Baking Company. Anyway, CW McCall
recorded the song “Convoy” which eventually made rose to number one
on the Billboard charts. “Convoy” told the story of renegade truckers
hell-bent to not pay any tolls. The song featured many vignettes of
CB radio traffic between the fictional truck drivers. That song
cataloged much of the vocabulary commonly used on Citizens Band
during that time and I still find myself thinking about the clever
phrases interspersed throughout this ultimate trucker’s song.
“Convoy” was eventually made into a movie of the same name.
I know a few still use CB radios, millions more use internet chat.
Either way, both modes of communication range from making
conversation to actual business. For me, I don’t chat much on my
computer and would rather just remember some good times I spent
waiting for my brother to arrive in range somewhere between channels
one and forty.
Here is this week’s Letter to Dave.
I hope you enjoyed the video I recently emailed your way. The video
depicts a Case/IH tracked tractor backed up to a John Deere in an
old-fashioned game called tug of war. John Deere uses two tracks
while Case/IH places a track at each corner of the tractor which has
created the most important debate since “less filling, tastes great.”
I know as a long-time Case/IH man you it would interest you greatly.
I don’t know for sure if the tractors were evenly matched for
horsepower or not however it was a definitive win. I dare not say
which side won as I like to walk into either Titan Machinery or
Evergreen Implement and not have to concern myself as to whether I
will be asked to leave.
We recently held a benefit for Adam Tongen here in town, Dave. Adam
has cancer but is doing well after his most recent surgery. I was
amazed at the willingness of businesses and individuals to
consistently offer generosity when asked. Time, talent, auction
items, food, money came forth at a rate I could not have imagined. I
must say that the Eagle’s Club is basically a structure made to
benefit those who need help. They provided expertise in a space which
seems architecturally purposeful in its making to generate community
and benevolence. It’s good to live in small-town America where we
know each other enough to have empathy when a good person has a bad
Farmers are optimistic about farming but pessimistic about the
weather, with good reason. Just when you learn to suspect Mother
Nature wants to drown you, she turns her back and turns off the tap.
I’ve been digging in fence posts and found water at about three feet
however topsoil moisture seems a little short right now. I guess it
just means we have nice planting weather and should finish that
business soon before we get the needed rain. Our dad’s FFA director
always told them to “paint your wagon and stay out of the beer
parlors” when it rains; I guess when it doesn’t we should take
advantage and plant crops or make hay.
Due to short rainfall, I haven’t put the cattle on our main pasture
yet. I think I will let the alfalfa and grass roots get as deep as
possible before I let the four-legged harvesters begin their work. A
sacrifice paddock is one in which you allow the cattle to overgraze a
little if need be and that is what we are doing today. I also have a
little hay left so am bale grazing with that precious commodity. I
will plant two new paddocks this spring and plan to use a mix of
alfalfa, orchard grass and probably fescue. The fescue is supposed to
stay real palatable at advanced age which makes it work for winter
grazing. The alfalfa fixes nitrogen to help the grass and the cattle
just love orchard grass; it tests pretty high for sugar so maybe that
is why they are so enamored of it.
Tell everyone hello in Carrington and please let’s organize so not
everyone prays for rain at the same time, or we will drown.
Your little bro
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, royal redemption
Indulge me, I need a good redemption story this week.
When I see cats walking along a road, I see hunters. The truth is, I
am probably also seeing the homeless. It would be easy to say these
cats could never be a house cat, that they are feral. It would be easy,
Maybe it is my greatest conceit that I believe a cat with access to
our house is better off that outside. Then I remind myself of the cat I found
frozen to death in our garden a few years ago, or the skinny little
thing that lived in the roots of a tree one winter and drank more
half and half than a church full of coffee drinkers. Cats belong
indoors, or at least need the option.
Laine started out life as “L-a-n-e.” We thought she was a little tom
cat and named her accordingly however changed the moniker to a shortened
version of “Elaine” soon after she birthed kittens. We could never get
close to ‘Laine until after her kittens had left home, I think she got
lonely-more likely she was interested in our tom cats.
We had fed Laine but always in absentia. We began to join Laine for
her meals, whether she liked it or not. It was a surprise the first
time we petted Laine and she began to accept our presence. We moved her dish just
inside the front door in a sort of forced offering of hospitality.
She would step-in, eat and then head for the door. I stood guard as
doorman the first couple of months to assist in her egress so she did
not feel trapped.
The next step was coaxing her into the house without the temptation
of food. Lisa and I would wiggle our fingers and “meow” at Laine until
she finally stepped inside, took stock of things and eventually left.
The amount of time invested in this simple act was incredible but the
eventual reward was longer visits and eventual overnights.
Laine is now the princess of the house (Lisa is the Queen, on good
days I am “scribe,” while other times am simply “jester.”) She fights
for position with her brothers on the couch and plays like the wild cat she was
once. She is lovely, happy and at home.
I thought about Laine’s history; I once believed there was
little we could do to change her life. Hard work and reaching out to
her made the difference. It is a good reminder that redemption in
life is often a two-way street that depends on the offer of help and
the sincere acceptance of help. It reminded me of the people who’ve
helped me get where I am and how we’ve helped others. It is a reward
to both sides.
This week I have redemption and its inherent reward for you; courtesy
the princess, Laine Nelson.
Here is this week’s
Act I Background
Adam Tongen is one of my friends-we also work together. He fits in
well with our group at work and has become an important part of the
office. I liked him right from the start; he is a fellow former radio
broadcaster and likes beer, which are two of my main talking points.
Lisa and I knew he was a good man and were very happy when he married
Ana (Hibbert)-who is also a good friend. They were wedded last October and are
expecting this August. They are what people mean when they try to
describe “a nice young couple.”
Act II A Diagnosis of Cancer
Adam Tongen got sick a few week’s prior to Christmas of 2011. Adam
was freshly married and expecting a child-it should have been the
best of times. Unfortunately, he was eventually diagnosed with
Germ-cell cancer and began his treatment with surgery, soon followed
by four separate five-day sessions of chemotherapy. Adam’s last
chemotherapy treatment was followed by staph infection. The infection
forced him back into the hospital for a stay which included four days
in which he was anesthetized to keep him unconscious while he
received intravenous antibiotics. This was followed by six weeks of
antibiotic infusion therapy which finally ended this week. He was at
the Mayo Hospital Friday to discuss the possibility of
another surgery after a blood test recently revealed bad news.
(note Adam must have another surgery May 11th, the day of his benefit)
Act III Cancer Sucks
I’ve have only watched cancer from the outside. It seems to me that
this disease is unique in that it carries such fear. So much legend
has been built around it that a cure is mostly medical but also
emotional. I catch myself editing out the word “cancer” when I talk
to Adam. Chemotherapy seems most similar to a war of attrition in
which you hope to wear the enemy down and bring him to the table and
eventual armistice. Surgery seems more aggressive with a goal of
cancer’s unconditional surrender. No matter what, I think there is a
horrible vulnerability that comes with the disease, no one is safe.
Act IV What we can do
Friends and family of Adam Tongen have planned a benefit in his
honor. May 11th from 5-9 pm, we will gather at the Eagles Club in Thief River Falls, Minnesota for a free-will pulled-pork meal, silent (and not so silent) auction, bake
sale, cash bar and sale of “the Rapid Rebounder” wrist bands. “The
Rapid Rebounder” is the nickname given Adam by his doctor because he
has typically rebounded strongly after numerous, invasive medical
treatments. Local businesses have responded to our requests of items
for the silent auction with great generosity so there will be a
fantastic selection of items on which to bid. We hope Adam will be
able to attend but if not we’ll just have to take a few pictures to
document this night held in his honor.
Act V Thank-you
So many have acted to our call to help Adam. Some have acted
anonymously and have given in ways I find quite touching. All we can
offer for all of your help is to tell you simply, deeply; thank-you.
For those who would like to donate to the Adam Tongen benefit, please mail your check to:
Pennington County Sheriff’s Office
Attn: Wendy Mattson
Po Box 484
Thief River Falls, Mn 56701
If you have any questions, please leave it in the form of a comment on this blog and I will get right back to you-GN.
Click the picture for this week’s Rural Reflections Radio Program. http://grantnelson00.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/theweatherspottersguidetothegalaxy.mp3