Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Guns and Hoses
There nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. Creaking
bones, aging tendons and sore muscles are probably not the picture of
health, however the spirit of competition was strong and vibrant
Wednesday night. It was the child born of softball and benevolence,
“Guns and Hoses”.
Guns and Hoses is a yearly softball game that pits Law Enforcement in
Thief River Falls, Minnesota and Pennington County (the Guns) versus the Thief
River Falls Fire Department (the Hoses.) The name takes a spin on the
nineties rock group, “Guns and Roses.” It started a few years back as
a good way join these groups together in an evening of fun instead of
an evening of fire or car accidents. Guns and Hoses grew to become a
way to benefit a group or person through the sale of
concessions-namely brats and buns.
I had never attended this joining of first responders to breath life
into softball until this year. I felt I was a poor excuse for a
softball player until I found out they needed people to watch, eats
brats and drink beer; all activities which are really in my
wheelhouse. The beneficiary of this year’s concessions is my buddy,
Adam Tongen, so that was also a good reason to attend. Several people
donated baked goods and produce so we had a little sale during the
game which did well, as did the sale of brats and “Guns and Hoses”
t-shirts. I would also like to mention that Adam is still in
Rochester and will start intense chemotherapy again this Saturday.
Many of you have helped support Adam and I want you to know it has
made a big difference.
Okay, let’s play ball. Wednesday night was beautiful and
well-attended by players, friends and family. I was surprised at the
level of play-most of those on the field were REALLY bad. Seriously,
the game was pretty well-played and fun to watch. Each side had
stand-outs however everyone really enjoyed themselves. Several of the
players hit opposite field and the base running was surprisingly
disciplined. The Guns almost turned a traditional double play (6-4-3)
which is pretty difficult. The Hoses were stronger at bat but I think
the Guns get my nod for Cy Young of the night. Two standouts that
come to mind are Terry Adam who is apparently a softball-playing
cyborg from the future and Evan Bruggeman who almost lost an elbow
side-arming a shot to third to the Big Bird on first for the out. I’d
tell you who won but really, when your doing good for someone else,
everybody wins. (don’t you hate when people do that?)
After the game we retired to the bleachers (I had retired there when
I arrived) and talked about everything except the game. Mark Bieganek
also taught us several words of Polish. Mark is sincerely convinced
he’s faithfully speaking this language however I suspect it is the
same kind of gibberish John Cleese used on “Monte Python’s Flying
Circus.” Anyway, Mark is entertaining and a good guy-he’s also Polish
or Czech or Swede depending upon the night.
I will have good memories of a night in which old men and young
women, (can’t call women old-ever) competed under blue skies and in
temperate air during which all players made up for the bad they did
to the game of softball with the good they did for one person through
the same act; playing the game. Good job Guns, good job Hoses.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Why Miley Cyrus cut her hair
This week I want to talk about free speech, the media and that which
comes out of our mouths. This should be excellent bed time reading
and is presented to you in five acts.
Act I Just a movie?
“Broadcast News” was a darkly comedic movie that dealt with the state
of television news in the mid-eighties. I remember a portion of the
movie in which one of the broadcasters warned of changes to come;
changes which would make the news lighter and much less meaty. It
seemed unlikely at the time, unfortunately that time has come.
Act II Entertainment Tonight
It seems “real news” and “entertainment news” has become a blended
mess. I don’t know the actor, Robert Pattinson, so it seems odd that
I should know as much as I do about his relationship with fellow
actor Kristen Stewart. In the past, celebrity information would have
been restricted to “entertainment news” however I can now hear news
about my favorite celebrity (who doesn’t exist) right on the local
television news program. There is no safe place on television news
from gerbil-like social lives of the famous.
Act III The paper on your porch
I see the last refuge of real news in the small-town newspapers and
radio stations. The resources of local media may be small however
they seem to understand the spirit of the first amendment. I see the
recent efforts of local media in the Thief River Falls city
government problems as integral to solving these problems. What would
have happened without the efforts of local news media is quite
simple; a malevolent silence and continued lack of transparency.
Act IV Free, responsible speech
The importance of the first amendment is that citizens are protected
in their right to speak out against their government. The right of
free speech also carries the responsibility of accurate speech. I
become a bit furious when people make a statement and lack the
ability to substantiate the opinion with fact. I call these
statements “flavored air” as its owner must feel that as long as they
are breathing they might just as well scent their breathe with
whatever odd, unsubstantiated thought they happen to be carrying
around at the time. These statements are second in their negative
effect only to the half-truths broadcast by subjective news media.
Act V Why did Miley cut her hair?
Free speech is also a blessing to any standing government as words
are a much gentler hand to create change than the tumult of revolt.
Real democracy craves the opinions of the people of which is consists
as that that is the only road to legitimate governance. If the people
are not allowed their first amendment rights then they may invoke
other rights which protect them from a fascist government. Freedom of
the Press was created as our first amendment to protect us from our
government as it created the other amendments. It is as important to
the life of democracy as any physical protection from outside
invader. Maybe that is why I get a little offended when the press
can only tell me why Miley Cyrus cut her hair.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave
Most county fairs have completed their run, vacation bible school has
begun and I just brought the first steers in for processing-summer is
over. Perhaps summer is not completely done, however it was taken a
turn and headed for the barn.
Dave, I hope harvest has gone well out in Carrington, North Dakota
and that the drought left something to harvest. We have received some
timely rain at home near St Hilaire, Minnesota but there is little margin for error right now. Small grains have largely been harvested but the corn and soybeans are
still in doubt. Anyone can talk about the weather, let’s try
Lisa and I have been watching the Olympics with some interest. There
has been such a focus this year on the athletes’ reaction to
receiving silver or bronze medals instead of gold. Often times, these
athletes are disappointed in their failure to win a gold medal and
the announcers are so surprised at their reaction. I like it when
people are a little disappointed when they aren’t number one. We live
in such a non-competitive, green participant ribbon sort of culture
that it’s good to see some people who still expect the best from
themselves. Honestly, our culture will not survive if we find comfort
in mediocrity. It’s good to have world-class athletes who remind us
that to strive for excellence is good work.
I had a quick adventure yesterday, Dave. I hauled some culverts from
Downer, Minnesota. I purchased the culverts from Randy Bjornson. I
arrived at eight that morning but Randy and I hit it off and talked
until ten. He is a small farmer who is playing in the rather large
coliseum of agriculture economics, like me. I ran down State Highway
9 which is kind of a forgotten as it sits in the shadow between
Highway 75 and 32. It was a nice drive and I saw some area of the
country I never see. Downer has an old potato warehouse which has
been converted to a bar and convenience store-rugged but unique. I
got coffee for a buck so it was all good to me.
No letter is complete without some farm talk. It is said there is
land for buying and land for selling-most of the fields I see lately
are made of selling land. It is for this reason that I always try to
get as much as I can from the land we already own. I recently opened
a lane through the woods and fenced in some trees for extra cattle
shade. I love building fence-it is a pleasure twice over, once to
build and once to view. In the interest of efficiency I have just
begun research on growing sprouts hydroponically. This sounds like an
expensive way to produce cattle food until you consider the price of
hay. Also the multiplication of a few pounds of barley seed by five
times in one week is reason enough to at least read a few pamphlets
and make some phone calls.
Times always passes quickly when I right you letters, Dave; and
today’s time has now passed.
Tell all hello.
You’re little bro’
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Pembina Trail Ride
A great dusty cloud of man and machine arrived one day. These were
untamed, gray men unhindered by the conventions of the rules of the
road or of soap and washcloth. These were the riders of the Great
Pembina Trail ride. (Pembina Trail runs along the Agassiz Interbeach area about 10 miles west of Thief River Falls. It goes north to south for many miles)
Lisa and I heard their rumble a few years ago, at that time they were
a small group of friends and relatives who rode their all-terrain
vehicles across road and through gravel pit. Their eventual goal was
the beer garden at the Pennington County Fair. They included our two
nephews, Derek and Cody, and our buddy Lee Rolland plus a group of
road-warriors some of whom were connected by blood others by no more
than a deep, abiding belief in the curative powers of beer.
The boys were back recently and made their usual stop at our farm. I
noticed Casey Skjerven had dedicated all available storage to
high-quality sustenance-like blister packs of cheese and crackers.
Casey apparently has a deep and abiding belief in the curative powers
of partially-hydrogenated oil. However his willingness to share and
his good character were evidenced by the expectation of occasional
calls from fellow riders of “hey Casey, throw me a lunchable.”
I laughed over a cold one as I surveyed the scene in our front yard
that day. Dirty machines and dirtier drivers all drying in the
sunshine after a visit to the last mud hole in Pennington County-they
appeared as the cast of the classic post-apocalyptic movie, “Mad Max,
the Road Warrior.” Lisa and I talked to as many as we could and I
even drove Cody’s new wheeler. This brief test drive gave me the
fever for a new atv- quickly cured by the price tag.
We wondered if next year we should have a sprinkler system set up to
cool these guys off or maybe get some corporate sponsorship and book
“Molly Hatchet” or “Lynyrd Skynyrd” to play an open air concert for
these guys. Lee suggested we set-up a “car wash” for the driver’s to
pass through on the way into the yard. It’s really not a bad idea,
although the hot water wash cycle might cause a few injuries.
I believe we had 22 wheelers and riders that day, an awesome sight.
They came in two groups, those who create the dust and those who
drive through it. Some of the drivers had goggles for protection
while others sported only a protective layer of dust or wildly
overgrown facial hair. I am a big believer in comfort which caused
me to admire our visitors who were dressed in such a way that
entering an establishment with a “no shoes, no shirt, no service”
policy would have been an act of war.
Like Santa, they left without cue but with perfect disorganized
purpose. The fast ones, the side by sides, the slow ones and finally
the sweeper atv which is responsible for picking up survivors. We
watched all 22 leave in a moveable cloud of dust into the sun and
against the wind.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Let sleeping birds lie