We are getting hit with a major winter storm. I had to drive tonight (kind of not my choice) after about five inches of snow had already fallen. This is after about an inch to an inch and a half of ice had also accumulated underneath. Needless to say, I could not make it back up the hill leading to my home. It wasn’t plowed, and my vehicle just couldn’t push through it up the hill. I made it over the railroad tracks at the bottom of the hill… but just barely. A couple of Jeff City’s finest policeman and another guy who couldn’t make it up the hill to his house helped me get the car off the road (mostly). Then it was hiking through the powder the two blocks home. At least I wasn’t in a ditch out in the country. As a long line of fellow drivers were making their way down the highway tonight, we were actually passed by some guy in an SUV. Minutes later, we passed him… IN THE DITCH! Ice on the road is the great equalizer.

“I’m just saying…”

I saw an interesting statistic on the news this morning. Retail numbers say the average Christmas shopper this year is a 50-year-old male. The reason I see this as particularly interesting is the fact that while products such as the I-pod are marketed to the younger generation, I believe there is a great untapped market for the older crowd to get one. While the ads for I-pods focus on music, why not have a campaign that shows those 50-year-olds using an I-pod to listen to different podcasts such as NPR’s Puzzle Time, Rush Limbaugh’s show, or even language lessons to listen to during a commute. I had a similar recent conversation with a co-worker who didn’t see the need for a certain satellite radio system because he did not have a really big interest in the music it offered. When I pointed out to him there were talk shows, news, and college and pro sports also offered, it gave him a different perspective. I’m not sure if he bought a system, but he was much more interested… and couldn’t understand why the systems were not marketed to someone with his tastes, although those services were offered. I think it’s the same with I-pods and podcasts. There are podcasts out there that would be ideal for the group who are not being sought. Just a thought.

“I’m just saying…”

My oldest sister is putting together a family and friends cookbook, so here is my contribution. You’ll notice this recipe is more about CATCHING the main ingredient… because it’s a lot tougher than cooking it.

Walleyes, Spirit Lake, Iowa Style

Step 1: Find an appropriate fishing lake full of walleyes. I suggest Spirit Lake… Angler’s Bay in particular. Any place from Jackson Point, round to in front of the Sand Bar Beach area, to Stony Point will do. Ask Dean Davis… he’ll KNOW where they’re biting that day.

Step 2: Find an appropriate fishing boat with a trolling motor that goes SLOOOOWWWWW! I cant’t emphasize the slow part enough (you’ll see later).

Step 3: Outfit your favorite fishing rod and reel with a Little Joe spinner. Flourescent orange, green, blue, silver, red, gold, or many other colors are very effective. Use very light weight… probably anywhere from a small splitshot to a 1/16th ounce bullet slip sinker (usually the lighter the better). You might have to go a little heavier if you’re fishing deeper than the normal 7-12 feet of water. Once again, check with Dean about the particulars.

Step 4: Round up a fishing partner. Pick a dad or a son or a brother or a sister or a mom or a cousin… someone who can hold up a good conversation for hours on end… you’ll be out there for a while. Once again, I suggest Dean Davis… full of stories, and he knows where the fish are. You can take Johnny Gilson… a good, nay, great, fisherman in his own right… but he’ll just want to chase bass all day. And he won’t keep any. Sure kills the chances of eating many fish… although there will be plenty caught… which is fun in its own right. Johnny has his own funny stories, too, so you’ll have to weigh the desire to eat fish with the desire to catch perhaps more of them.

Step 5: Get out on the lake. Once again, check with Dean to find out if they are biting in front of the A frames by Stony Point or the rushes off the boat ramp or a million different places they will be. As you’re heading to your destination, tip the Little Joe spinner with a leech. Minnows are good, too, but leeches seem to last longer. And oh yeah, these aren’t really blood suckers, so when they attach themselves to your finger while you’re fiddling with the line, don’t panic. Just see it as a way to get a better hold of the slippery little devils.

Step 6: Troll SLLLOOOOOOWWWWLY! Going slow? OK, take it down a notch… and now another… one more. The boat’s barely moving forward? Good. That’s probably the right speed. Dismiss the other anglers who catch fish at faster speeds as pure luck… and not the skill you have employed.

Step 7: Catch three keeper walleyes between 14 and 20 inches long. Sure, I’m simplifying this step, but this recipe would be too long if I go into the great detail of what kind of conversations you’ll have to have and how you’ll have to be distracted adjusting the motor’s speed or drinking a pop to really get the fish to bite. Once everyone in the boat has caught their three keepers (or you think you have enough sunburn for one day), take the fish in and fillet them.

Step 8: Roll the walleye in corn meal and fry in hot oil until golden brown. Sure, this is the shortest step, but it really takes the least amount of luck and/or skill. Serve in heaping pile… too much for all the people at the table.. and have some kind of fried potato… your choice (potato chips will even do).

Step 9: Regale others with stories of the ones that got away.

Steo 10: Catch a nap. You’ll need your rest when you start the whole process over again at first light the next morning.

“I’m just saying…”

It’s not too tough being thankful. Good family… good friends. And you gotta love Thanksgiving Day… lots of food, football, and no worries about gifts!! I’ll even get the chance to get back to my old stomping grounds soon. So I’m thankful for my home where I live… and my home in Iowa I get to visit. I’m thankful for the kind of country in which we live… free, plentiful, and I’m able to do things like having a blog. I’m thankful for the men and women in uniform who serve this country every day, in places that aren’t so free. I’m thankful for the sacrifices my parents made to help me get to where I am today. I’m thankful they taught me to be thankful for what I have. And I am thankful for all I have… especially my wife and children. Thank God for all I have.

“I’m just saying..”

af-sergeant-in-israel.jpg
Happy Veterans Day to all who serve and have served! As an old Air Force guy, this is one of my favorite pictures from one of my favorite stories. On the left, you see Master Sergeant Chris Lawson, who at the time, served in the Defense Attache Office at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel. This shot is from a memorial ceremony he attended for German soldiers from World War I who died in what was then Palestine. I thought there was a certain irony in German military being honored in Israel, but that was a different war… at a different time. I was lucky to follow him around for a day, and he showed me his work and his life for him and his family in Israel. Wonderful story… great chance to use audio and video together… and a great opportunity to show how the Air Force serves in places you’d never think about.
dogtag.jpg
And this picture is to honor those who served so long ago. In this picture, in the hand of the man in the lack hat, is the dog tag of a U.S Army Air Force sergeant presumed dead when his bomber crashed near Furth, Germany during World War II. The people who found some of his remains were American and Canadian military and Germans who volunteered to dig up the old crash site. An old German woman told us how she was out in the potato field when the plane crashed just yards from where she was working. All but one crew member got out of the aircraft, and the woman remembers looking at him in the eye as he struggled in vain to get out of the burning wreckage. She said an explosion sealed his fate. Word is that the rest of the crew was rounded up by the SS and shot in the town square… although not many of the locals wanted to talk about it.
I know I’ve posted these pictures before, but I thought it was important to honor vets, past and present, once again.

“I’m just saying…”

Just got back from voting. That means I don’t have to see or hear any more political ads, right? I think once you’ve cast your ballot, you should be exempt from getting anymore political calls, too. I guess that would REALLY push up those wanting to vote absentee or early. It’s still a great process, though. I met a guy this afternoon, with my little “I Voted” sticker. He asked if I’d been to the polls, and I said I sure had been. He said he’s not eligible yet (he’s a legal immigrant). Hope he gets the privilege soon. If he has to put up with all the crap, he should get the payoff at the end, right?

“I’m just saying…”

Well, I promised myself, win, lose or draw (draw actually not possible in the playoffs), I would update how my high school football team, the Glidden-Ralston Wildcats, did in the playoffs. Last night, their season came to an end similar to how it started… with a loss to undefeated Remsen-St. Mary’s. St. Mary’s was the ‘Cats only regular season loss this year… first game of the season. Glidden had to travel to Remsen last night and was beaten 40-16. I talked to my brother just a few minutes ago, and he said from what he heard, Glidden jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but St. Mary’s would not be denied and stormed back for the win. By the way, these two teams are the two past state champions in Iowa’s Eight-Man football… St. Mary’s winning in 2004 and Glidden-Ralston in 2005. In fact, in 2004 the only team to beat Glidden was St. Mary’s… once in the regular season and once in the playoffs. And I believe Glidden was the only team to beat St. Mary’s in 2005, once in the regular season. Glidden finishes the year at a fine 8-2. Hats off to my old friend Kreg Lensch, Glidden’s head coach. Kreg was our starting quarterback back when I played (he was a junior when I was a senior). After several years of struggling, he seems to have the Wildcats back on to their old winning ways. Great job, “Cats!!

Well, another election is just about upon us. Election Eve… Have you put up your election tree yet? Do you open your Election Day presents on the day of or the night before? You know, if it wasn’t for the fact that all the ads on radio and TV keep so many of my brethren in the media from starving to death, it would really be easy to hate the whole process. But then again, there’s no tanks rolling in the streets… no one being ousted from office in a bloody coup. So, like so many (but not enough) of my neighbors and friends, I’ll be headed to the polls to make my voice heard… even if it gets outnumbered… or overcome by a chorus of those who agree in the end. Probably like just a few others, I’ll be glued to news and the Secretary of State’s election web site. I just hope it all wraps up in a timely fashion. But if it doesn’t, I hope they get all the votes counted. Win, lose, or draw, we need to see what the majority wants.

“I’m just saying…”


As promised, here’s one of my favorite video stories. There was a bit of quality loss after it went from BetaCam tape to VHS to DVD and then compressed for YouTube… but you get the idea. This is the story of Tenen Yarae, a mother of seven from the West African nation of Mali. A U.S. Air Force Medical Civic Action Team traveled from Europe to her country and did several medical assistance visits over two weeks, including one near her village. Tenen’s three-year-old daughter, Binta, had a large abcess behind her ear… potentially dangerous. Watch the story to see how things turned out.

So I don’t want to wade too much into politics, but I thought this was kind of amusing.  I asked my youngest son who he liked, Candidate X or Candidate Y (the names have been changed to protect the political).  He said, “I don’t know, neither one is talking about what they will do.”  

 ”I’m just saying…”