Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter Weather Advisory

I was one of the Christmas travelers that braved the wintry weather last Tuesday to try and make it to a family holiday gathering. If weather is a factor I will usually put off traveling, but in this case we had a winter weather advisory in place with a winter weather warning issued for the following day.

With city streets snow-covered and slippery I didn’t hold out much hope for Highway 41. The butterflies got going in my stomach and pretty much remained with me through my 4-½ hour trip. The forecast the previous evening gave me the impression that the further north I traveled the better the conditions would be. Well they were wrong.

During the trip I saw at least 50 cars in the ditches along Highway 41 on both the north and southbound sides. I tried to imagine how fast they were going and whether they literally flew off the road. Some were freshly off the road because I could see people still in them. Sixty-five is the speed limit on Highway 41, but I rarely approached that as cars and trucks creeped along around 50 miles and hour and some times closer to 20 depending on whether law enforcement officials were responding to a traffic accident.

Probably the worst was just north of Green Bay. There was a six to ten car pileup on the southbound side of the highway. It was tough to make out how many cars and trucks were involved because I was trying to keep an eye on my side of the road. However I did make out a couple of ambulances and at least six squad cars. Further north traffic was diverted off the southbound lanes. I hope no one was seriously injured, but some of the cars looked pretty bad.

Conditions didn’t improve much as I moved through the southern portion of the U.P. I slowed down as semis approached in the opposite lane because they were throwing up so much blowing snow that it was difficult to see in their wake. Eventually I got behind a utility truck with a cherry picker on the back of it. When it got several car lengths ahead of me I could only see its taillights glowing. It kept me company for about 25 miles to the outskirts of my hometown.

When I arrived at my Mom’s home I looked over my car. The back end was coated with snow and there was no way you could see the license plate on back. Had I gone into the ditch it would have been difficult to figure out whom the car belonged to from a distance. Fortunately that wasn’t the case. I had to battle through bad conditions on my way back to Fond du Lac several days later too. A winter weather advisory was issued that morning as well. Some of the cars I saw in the ditch on my way to the U.P. were still there. That’s not much of a Christmas gift for those unfortunate souls.

For New Year’s the longest trip I plan is to my refrigerator. Happy New Year’s!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Naughty and Nice

I don’t envy Santa’s job of deciding who should go on the naughty list and who should go on the nice list. That’s got to be a tough job. For instance the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush? Which list would you place him on? Although the President laughed it off, some people in this world would put that guy on the nice list. Probably not the U.S. Secret Service.

Test yourself with the following examples. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich? His foul-mouthed wife? Big Three automakers executives who went to Washington in their corporate jets during their first request for a bailout? Big Oil company executives? Okay so those are probably clear-cut naughty list entrants.

Every situation also has to be scrutinized. Let’s ponder the Brett Favre retirement saga from earlier this year. Should Packer officials have been placed on the naughty list for not allowing him to return to the team? What about Favre himself?

Locally there were a few fine lines this year as well. Bars and restaurants in Fond du Lac who have to deal with a smoking ban at the end of next month probably would like to put City Council members on their naughty list, but health advocates would probably place those same Council members on their nice list. People would also probably be split on the Council not allowing a question about fluoride in the City’s drinking water to go to a referendum question.

Some decisions aren’t as tough. Anyone who provided some assistance or help to their neighbors in the wake of June flooding would go on my nice list. Any group, organization or individual that has helped out the needy during the downturn in the economy makes the list. Any employer who has struggled, but made sacrifices to keep workers on makes my nice list.

The nice thing is the redemption factor. Even though someone made the naughty list this year, they can redeem themselves next year. That’s the nice thing about the naughty and nice lists; they aren’t permanent. Hopefully you’ll end up on someone’s nice list this year. You’ve already made mine for reading this blog. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Black Friday

I’ve never really partaken in “Black Friday” practices before, but this year was an exception. I arrived at one of the big retailers early, shortly after 6 a.m. I wasn’t one of those who waited in line. The store was giving away a little memento to the first 500 shoppers. Apparently there were plenty of people ahead of me.

One thing I did find out is that most shoppers have a plan. They scout out their aisles knowing full well what they are looking for and where to find it. My game plan was incomplete. I was only looking for a few items and had no idea where in the store they were going to be. Fortunately they were still there and a few of them were actually on sale.

I could say that one store was my limit. Well practically after that brief shopping experience we went to Schreiner’s Restaurant. My mom was visiting from the U.P. and I wanted to take her to one of Fond du Lac’s traditional eateries. The place was packed. There was a mix of regular patrons, hunters, and shoppers. Two women sitting a booth down had Christmas attire on. Reindeer caps and t-shirts that proclaimed they were, excuse the expression, “Christmas Hos.” You get the drift.

We eavesdropped on a few conversations. One older gentleman was telling someone it was the only place he could go to get away from his wife of 52 years and enjoy himself. Another talked about the joy of finishing up chemotherapy. God Bless them. The food was good, but the drifting conversations were better.

Afterwards we hit a grocery store for some odd and ends we neglected to pick up earlier in the week. Then it was off to home. We watched a few Christmas programs, wrapped some gifts, and I even managed to fill out some Christmas cards.

“Black Friday” wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be. Then again I wasn’t camped out in line at 3 or 4 a.m. To those victors go the spoils or rather early bargains.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I’m not sure how I managed it, but I actually got Thanksgiving off this year. Normally I work and that’s not a problem because it’s a shorter workday and there’s rarely anyone else at the station other than myself and our morning man.

So what to do? I may actually watch the parades. For me it’s hard because for the television networks it’s more of an opportunity to promote their personalities and shows that need their ratings shored up. As a kid I did enjoy the big balloon figures, but as an adult I’m not so much in favor of the bloated TV personalities.

This year I’m even going the full-blown Thanksgiving Turkey route. Normally I settle for a small helping of turkey that’s included in a casserole or even a microwave meal. I’ll supplement that with sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie.

Then of course there’s football. I’ll watch the Detroit game, but not usually the Dallas game because by then I’m ready for a Christmas movie or some other holiday entertainment. I think the Detroit game could be immensely entertaining this year, especially if you’re a Tennessee Titan fan.

I’ve even given some thought to participating in Black Friday sales events this year. Not the standing in line pre-dawn, but maybe going in later in the day. I know I’ll miss the door buster events, but am willing to settle. By the way that term door buster gets used a little too frequently these days and is losing its appeal.

Although most of us have been through the ringer this year I will be truly grateful. I made up my mind while recuperating from hip surgery earlier this year that I’d be thankful for more of the things I’ve taken for granted. I guess that includes Thanksgiving. By the way Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Small World

It’s a small world after all. Imagine my surprise this week when I got a press release from the Beaver Dam Fire Department reporting fire damaged a home at 208 East Mill Street. It sounded familiar and took me a moment to realize I used to live there. I worked at a radio station in Beaver Dam for eight years and spent the first four of them living on the second floor of this home.

It’s not like I actually owned the home. I only rented it. However I did invest a little time in improving it. So yes to a certain extent I did feel a little bit of a loss. Of course there are mixed memories.

I got to the upstairs apartment via a back outside stairway. When I first moved in there was a rickety old stairs going right up to the back door. The stairs shook as you climbed them. I convinced the landlord to replace them and he did with a wonderful set of stairs that twisted their way up to the back door. He nicknamed them “the cattle trough.”

I recall the fall of 1996 water proofing the decking for those stairs as I listened to the Packers on the radio on their way to a successful Super Bowl winning season. At the top of the stairs there was a deck with enough room from a few chairs and a charcoal grill. It also had a nice view of the rest of the neighborhood.

I also repainted the walls inside. The only complaint was the shower from hell. It was an old-fashioned bathtub with one of those hose connections that ran through a harness connected to the wall. It didn’t adequately catch all the water and I always worried about the flooring underneath rotting out.

I probably would have lived in that apartment the entire time I lived in Beaver Dam, but it was a duplex and the series of downstairs neighbors I had eventually pushed me out. I actually can recall just about everywhere I’ve lived over my life and again with mixed feelings about each location. The only real dive I ever lived in was during college and that goes along with being a poor college student.

It saddened me when I first saw this picture, but a house is as much about the person that lives there, as it is wood, nails, concrete and plaster that makes it up. No one was hurt in the fire and if the fire department is still located in the same spot, it is literally right around the corner from this house. It’s a small world indeed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dog Gone

I know for a fact it is not the year of the dog in the Nelson households. Both my brother and my mother had to put down their dogs this year. Age isn’t very kind to any one of us, but it’s particularly hard on dogs, as they get older.

My mom had to put hers down a couple of weeks ago. “Ozzie” (yes it’s a play on the old TV series) developed a weak bladder and was nearly blind. My mom didn’t have the heart to put “Ozzie” down, but when he began to whimper she knew it was time.

It has to be the hardest thing you can do when you own a dog. My brother John had to put his Golden Retriever “Buster” down a couple months earlier. “Buster” wasn’t as bright as his father “Timber,” but he loved the human company and had a very friendly way about him. His death wrecked my nephew Derek. John told me they were out one day and were driving home when Derek saw another Golden Retriever along the road and “Derek” said “Look Dad it’s “Buster” and he wants to come home.”

Since then they got a new dog they call “Coco.” My first encounter with “Coco” was kind of funny. I went to visit my brother and he wasn’t home, but they always leave their back door unlocked (It’s a UP thing). I went in and “Coco” looked at me. He tucked his tail between his legs and began to bark. I laughed and then left. John later told me one of the reasons they got “Coco” was to alert them when someone was near the house. Close enough I guess.

As for “Ozzie” he was a good companion for my mom. He was spoiled from the beginning, but you’d think he was never fed the way he guarded his food. Towards the end my mom had a hard time getting him to eat anything. Quite by accident she found out he liked peanut butter fudge. It probably wasn’t good for him, but by that time I don’t think it really could do him any harm.

She says she won’t get another dog because she doesn’t want to have to go through that kind of pain again. That’s what she said after she lost “Cricket,” another lap dog, some years ago. About a year and a half later we were introduced to “Ozzie.”

Yeah I know they aren’t human after all. Maybe they aren’t “Man’s best friend.” But they sure seem to bring out the best in man.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is it November 4th Yet?

I’m waiting for Martha Stewart to call me back. She has an idea for how I can use all those oversized postcards I’ve been receiving from the Presidential candidates to make a centerpiece for my Thanksgiving Dinner table.

It’s said that everyone’s vote counts and judging from the number of postcards I’ve received in the mail, e-mails, and robocalls; my vote must be worth one heck of a lot. Yesterday I only received two robocalls, both on behalf of John McCain. I didn’t take them just played them back off my recorder later. One actually sounded like a live person reading from a script.

Working for a radio station I have mixed feelings about political advertising. It helps pay for my salary, but I do grow weary of hearing all the ads. As for the television ads, when they come on I’m flipping channels.

Being a news reporter I get to interview candidates, mostly local, for the election. I can honestly say that it’s rare that you get a straight answer to a question. There’s a lot of dancing around and history lessons, but not often an answer about how that candidate is going to deal with a certain issue.

Those running for office for the first time lack the knowledge of how things really work. That doesn’t mean they won’t do a good job it just means they may not have a particular idea about how to solve a problem. They are usually well aware that there is a problem.

Usually at the end of the interview I wish the candidate good luck and that is sincere. I wouldn’t want to run for office, but certainly appreciate those who do and are good at representing their constituents. It takes a certain amount of courage just to run. I applaud them for that.

People run for office for all kinds of reasons. I once knew a guy who ran for the mayor’s post in a city. I found out that he was in a bar one night and some guys told him they though he should run. They were simply having some fun at his expense, but he took them seriously. He lost by a landslide. What was his reason for running? He was a single father and he wanted to give his young son a reason to be proud of his dad.

The main thing about voting is that someone is going to represent your interests for 2, 4 or six years. If you don’t vote and end up not liking the way you’re being represented you have no right to complain.

Now, what about that centerpiece?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Walking Among Giants

It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while I feel like I’m walking among giants. That’s what happens when I’m attending a function where I feel almost completely lost about the subject I’m there to cover. When it comes to the economy and the specifics of the bail out package there are much sharper minds than mine trying to dissect it.

That was the sensation I got while attending Federal Reserve Bank Of Chicago President Charles Evans address at Marian University in Fond du Lac last Friday (10/17/08). I understand liquidity and restoring credit, but some of the other terminology…zoom, over my head.

That’s when I do envy someone educated in a special field. However everyone has his or her own field of expertise. Mine is radio and reporting the news. You learn the ins and outs of your particular business and to the outsider it may seem complicated.

Speaking of fields of expertise let me use my own brothers and sisters as examples. My brothers John and Matt don’t work in their particular fields of training, but each have different know how. John took training to be a welder and did indeed work as one for some time. Matt was an auto mechanic and although he doesn’t do that anymore has restored some vintage cars and competes them in auto shows.

My sister Diana did sound and lighting for a number of theatrical productions for several colleges. She did some work on the road for some musical shows and ballets. My sister Kathy is a corrections officer in the State of Michigan. What she deals with on a daily basis I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I may be bright, but I wouldn’t consider myself smart. In fact my sister Diana gets that title in our family. She skipped a grade in elementary school so we both graduated with the same high school class. It was fun explaining we weren’t twins.

Long story short whenever I’m walking among giants I try to watch where I’m going. I don’t want to be accidentally stepped on.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What Were They Thinking?

A friend of mine suggested I do one of my blogs on stupid criminals. She’s probably correct that there is a wealth of material that comes out of police reports. Here are some recent examples.

Two 16-year-old Fond du Lac boys were caught speeding up a city street. They were going about 50 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone. The two were racing each other and passed another vehicle as they dueled for position. Even though that’s not a big crime, you have to love the comment one of the teens offered an officer as to the reasoning for it. “It was stupid.”

As a news reporter you actually love stumbling across reports that pretty much write themselves. Try your own hand at coming up with a lead for this one. Two guys are at a Fond du Lac restaurant; they are according to one employee’s estimation, very drunk. They don’t cause any problems while they are there, but steal a cake from a counter on their way out.

The cake is later found smeared on three windows and an outdoor umbrella at another restaurant. So to is an ID belonging to a 23-year-old North Fond du Lac man. It has icing from the cake on it. He tells police, yes he was at the restaurant and he was “wasted,” but had nothing to do with the cake. Icing on the cake!

I didn’t use this one, but could have had fun with it. A young woman runs into a parked car with hers. She was cited for inattentive driving. Actually she was paying a great deal of attention. She was reading a book and was on the cell phone at the time she hit the other car.

Here’s another one from this past weekend. A 25-year-old Theresa man is accused of taking a backhoe and driving it backwards down Winnebago Drive in Fond du Lac leaving damaged power poles, trees and telephone lines in his wake.

When authorities catch up with him they asked him if he had been driving it. “I don’t know.” Finally he admitted to it. When they found the backhoe it was hung up in some telephone line and was idling with no one behind the wheel. The man had been drinking and was more than twice the legal limit for intoxication.

When I told a friend about the incident he said, “It’s just further proof that nothing good comes out of being on the street after 2 a.m.” To that I add, “What was he thinking?”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Change we are told is a good thing, but it’s surprising how many people are resistant to it. Recently we went to a new format for our online newsletter. It’s the second change we’ve made in about four years.

Our original newsletter for KFIZ Today was pretty much just text that was e-mailed out to a subscriber’s list. It was meant to compliment the actual hardcopy we printed and distributed to area restaurants and businesses that was known as Fond du Lac Today. Due to the cost, time and fact that the copier we used to print Fond du Lac Today kept breaking down, we decided to do away with that and go strictly with the online version. KFIZ Today was born.

The format we then went to included pictures, links and much more than the original text version. Our jump to the newest format was a decision that was made to give us more control over the content and the ability to take care of any technical problems in-house. It also saved us some money on distributing a free newsletter.

Some people who preferred the old format, which allowed you to scroll down one continuous page, wrote e-mails to tell us that. We appreciate it. I explained to one such subscriber that it was like the Packers and Brett Favre. Once you reach a certain point there’s no looking back.

There’ve been so many changes over the years in Radio that I’ve learned to go with the flow. When I started out computers hadn’t quite reached their influence into studios yet. Now I work with two of them in my news studio and we have three of them in our main studio. I didn’t have a website to update, a newsletter to contribute to, and blog would have been a sound you made after eating something that didn’t agree with you.

I actually look forward to change. Yes it means having to adapt to something new or learn a new way of doing things. Sometimes change is forced upon you. Anyone who’s lost a job knows what I’m referring to. I got fired from a radio station in Park Falls about 15 years ago and thought it was the end of the world. I did everything that was expected of me, but it wasn’t enough.

As it turned out that’s how I ended up in this part of Wisconsin and eventually at KFIZ. It was a change for the better, but how could I have known that at the time?

Change is the very substance at the heart of our Presidential election. If you don’t care for it be among the 20 to 30 percent of registered voters who won’t be voting on November 4th. You can also keep your old calendar and ignore the fact that we’re moving towards 2009. Seems change is upon us whether we like it or not.

One change I do like is the change of seasons. Fall is one of my favorites and I’m thankful I live in a state where you can distinguish the season by the change in the weather. I’ll leaf you with that thought.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cousin Doug

I’ve never told you about my cousin Doug, but because the presidential race is as much about our economy as anything else; I think he’s worth mentioning.

I got to know him when I was a kid and we were living on Indian Lake in Manistique, Michigan. He and his family were from Illinois and vacationed there during the summer. He’s a shirttail cousin, but yes is related.

Doug’s a blue-collar guy through and through. His education has been through a variety of jobs. He’s had the same girlfriend for years. Both of them worked at Kohler in the Sheboygan area for some time. However he took other jobs in that city and she stuck with Kohler.

Recently I talked with him. He and his girlfriend, Allison, bought a home in Sheboygan and a cheaper cabin-like home on Indian Lake. They had the same dream as Doug’s parents who retired to a home on the Lake. However out sourcing caught up with them Doug trained for about three different jobs and only months into each lost them when the jobs were shipped overseas. She lost her job too.

The home they had in Sheboygan was razed and they are waiting for the real estate market to rebound before they sell that property. That could be a long time. Meanwhile they had to move into the small home on the Lake and are in danger of losing that too. The 14-year-old pickup truck he’s been driving is being repossessed because the payment they sent in wasn’t processed in time.

Doug says the company is welcome to it. It has 250,000 miles on it and isn’t worth the $325 payment. Now he’s training for a truck-driving job out of Manitowoc. He’s pretty sure that job won’t be shipped over seas.

Oh yeah recently he found out he has diabetes like millions of other Americans. At least he has that in common with many others.

A friend of mine last week told me too many Americans were living beyond their means and deserve what they got coming to them. She says she doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t bought a new car since 2000 and most families have two vehicles or more.

She wasn’t impressed by my story about cousin Doug. He’d give you the shirt off his back, but the problem is everyone wants a piece of it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Box of Stuff

Can you really tell anything about a person by the stuff that they save? Maybe, and maybe not! I got around to my spring cleaning a little bit late this year. I found one box in the basement that had me scratching my head as to why I’d save the items in it.

First of all there were parts to a vacuum cleaner. That might not seem so strange, but I got rid of that vacuum cleaner years ago and the one I own now has its own accessories.

There was also half of a two-cassette series on learning to speak Spanish. Don’t know where the other tape is and I abandoned the effort when I found out it was mostly to make you fluent enough to pass as a poorly equipped tourist.

There was also a scuffed up softball. Not sure, but I think its stuffing may have been made of sawdust. Good enough to throw around.

Then there was a box for a miniature porcelain nativity set without the nativity set. The set I’d packed away in with other Christmas stuff years ago.

Finally there was a small Packer football figurine that you’d hang from your rearview mirror in your car. Thinking it was cute at the time I’d used a magic marker to put the number four on it.

So what do those items tell you about me?

The vacuum cleaner parts could represent my desire to try and keep organized in life even when I’m not sure how to accomplish that.

The Spanish tape. My desire to learn more about my fellow man; granted it would only be a small understanding.

The scuffed up softball is the desire to hold onto my youth. Especially when I have two young nephews who are starting to get interested in sports.

The faux Favre. Well you got to have heroes and someone that inspires you. I wonder about the timing of finding that one.

The box for the nativity set. Faith itself. It’s for something you know exists, even when you can’t see it.

As for the box. It represents life. Something you place all of what makes you unique in. What’s in your box of stuff?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Letter to Famous Quarterback

There is a little trepidation when you fill the shoes of a legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback. He has the experience of winning championship games and Super Bowls. He has the respect of his fellow players and coaches. He’s been into battle in fair weather and foul. He has endured painful injuries and heartbreaking moments both on and off the field.

That future hall of famer and his wife also have the respect and love of the community. They’ve done so much on behalf of others. Young men and women look up to them. They aren’t often disappointed.

That’s a hard act to follow and I know it’s difficult for them to leave it behind. However I hope to have the same opportunity to make a niche for myself on this team and in the Green Bay community and Wisconsin.

Being a quarterback is all about being a leader. You have to have confidence and poise. A belief in your own abilities is essential. If you don’t believe it your teammates won’t either.

I’m a young man who hopes to have a glorious path ahead of me. After all if being a Green Bay Packer is nothing else it’s about winning and adding to the tradition and the mystique that is Lambeau Field.

So as I head down that tunnel and onto that famous turf I hope that I can rise to the occasion and lift my self up off it when I take the punishment that goes along with playing the game. I’m now ready to wear the green and gold. With respect to that famous quarterback, it’s my time now!

I wish you well Bart Starr.

Scott Hunter
University of Alabama, Class of ’71.

P.S. Yeah Scott didn’t really write this, but it seems to apply to the current situation. Bob Nelson

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Place At The Table

In America everyone has a place at the table. That also means everyone has a say, but some of those voices are being stilled by time. That includes our WWII veterans. I got a chance over the last couple of weeks to be around one, James “Maggie” Megellas. He’s a genuine WWII hero, native of Fond du Lac, first City Council President and much more.

He was back in Fond du Lac, he lives in Texas now, for the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Building in his name. We had him in our studios for an interview, covered the dedication and his speech before the City Council during their meeting.

For those who’d listen he told wonderful tales of people like you and me who lived and died during life in wartime. Not many veterans want to talk about that these days. However when you get to be 91-years-old and still visit our fighting troops in Afghanistan you’re more than entitled to tell your story.

The dedication ceremony took a little time on a humid day. I did a little people watching. There was a decent crowd, but mostly older veterans. That’s the sad thing about our veteran’s organizations these days. They are literally a dying breed. You just don’t see the number of younger veterans joining the ranks of the VFW, American Legion, etc. They still do wonderful things for our nation’s youth, but can’t continue to do so if they don’t have the members to do it.

One of the most inspired moments of the dedication was when fellow 82nd Airborne veterans joined Megellas at the podium They were members past and present. I spoke with one of them and he said it was truly an honor.

There was also a nice moment at the City Council meeting when Megellas addressed the gathering and said that the City Council was a great form of democracy in action. It’s too bad there weren’t that many in the Council chambers or watching on television at home to hear about it. However that’s the thing about democracy. It’s about having the right to make your choices freely. Just remember that if it weren’t for people like Megellas that freedom might not be readily available.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Traditional Family Values

A few different episodes over the past week have me wondering if the term “Traditional Family Values” is applicable any more. You hear it batted about during political campaigns and whenever someone is making a decision that might portray them in a less than favorable light.

The Fond du Lac County Board this week tabled a decision on whether or not to support a diversity initiative’s statement of principles. It was done for a couple of reasons, one of which had to do with objections to the term “sexual orientation” in the statement. It was implied that there might be a hidden agenda and some supervisors said outright that they wouldn’t condone gay, lesbian, and bisexual and transgender lifestyles.

Actually the initiative was started as a way of attracting more talent as the County faces an aging workforce. It was felt if the community were more welcoming it would attract a diversity of talent. County Executive Al Buechel says the statement was also designed to be an umbrella that would cover everyone.

Supervisor Jim Kiser objected to the statement saying he’d run for office on a platform that supports “Traditional Family Values.” I have no problem with that. What I do question is just what is considered a “traditional family” these days. With more than half of marriages ending in divorce and a growing number of single-parent households the “traditional family” is in danger of being redefined. Not to mention how are “values” seem to be evolving as well.

I attended the Democratic Party’s campaign headquarters kickoff in Fond du Lac last Sunday and heard a lot about families. Not surprisingly the typical family is struggling to handle rising expenses for gasoline, education, health care, etc. Plus or minus campaign rhetoric there are some truths in what is being said. Though I was there to cover it as a news event, I have to admit it also provoked some thinking.

Lastly one of my favorite non-traditional family’s is making too much news these days. Can’t the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre get along? Yeah I know professional football is a business, but nobody is coming away a winner in this struggle. I’ve always considered the Packers more than just a football team, maybe part of the family. It’s the worst case of public sibling-like rivalry I’ve ever seen. Please make it go away!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cane You Help Me?

Okay so the title of this blog is a play on words. It’s actually an update on the progress I’ve made since hip surgery and the complications that arose. I now have a new fashion accessory, a cane. To be honest most of the time around the house and the radio station I don’t use it and have been walking around in public without it most of the time.

The cane has become my security blanket. My balance and stride are much better, but at times when I really push myself during a long day I get tired. About a month ago I fell in my home and landed knee first on the leg I had the surgery on. No apparent injuries until the next day after work when I tried to pull my shoe off that foot and found it had swelled up a bit and I had a slight sprain to a finger I apparently suffered that when I tried to catch myself on the way down. I didn’t go to the doctor for the fall.

Since then things have gotten much better. Now I’m to the point where I wonder just how much I need the cane. The folks at therapy told me when I ended therapy that I’d know when I no longer need it. Since I still have some doubts I’m guessing it’s still required.

One thing I have found is that the cane elicits sympathy. People are more courteous when they see a cane being used or in your shopping cart. It would be easy to use that sympathy to my advantage, but I haven’t been. It’s not right. Once I’m rid of it I’ll have to get used to being treated as just another person on the street. I can hardly wait.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Drunk Driving Has Consequences

My younger brother Matt got stopped for his 3rd drunk driving offense the other day. I’m not sure what your response was to that previous sentence, it depends on where you stand on the issue of drunk driving. Personally I don’t condone it, but it happens. Since he’s my brother and I love him I’m hoping it works out for him. In Michigan when you reach you’re third drunk driving it’s a felony.

I bring it up because the 4th of July is coming up, it falls on a weekend and there are probably going to be quite a few people driving around with one too many under their belts. I won’t be one of them. I don’t like getting behind the wheel even if I’ve only had one drink.

I told a friend about my brother being stopped and they asked if he has a drinking problem. I said no he was with a friend he doesn’t have much opportunity to get together with often and they had a few beers. He was stopped for speeding on his way home.

I’m not really the one to say whether my brother has a drinking problem. There is a history of it in the family, but Matt doesn’t drink that much that often. His first drunk driving offense was 18 years ago. His second 8 years ago. But for those two previous mistakes he may pay the price. I hope not, but know sometimes it’s the only way you can learn.

I joked this past year about reading a news item about a Bob Nelson who had been stopped four or five times for drunk driving with the latest being one in Dodge County. Of course it wasn’t me. I’ve never been stopped for drunk driving, but that being said I wondered sometimes if two or three beers I enjoyed while watching a football game or at a family dinner might have put me close to the line.

I’ve reported on enough drunk driving accidents and been in enough courtrooms to see the impact of drunk driving on families. Often when a drunk driver kills a person there are two sets of victims. There’s the family of the person killed and the family of the person who is facing possible jail time for it. Fortunately my brother wasn’t involved in any kind of accident when he was stopped. That’s the only real break he may get this time. However he’s got family to see him through the consequences.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Five Feet High And Rising

I’ll have to admit that the recent flooding in Fond du Lac County threw me a little bit off my game. Going back into the station on a Thursday afternoon wasn’t surprising after all we did have a forecast that called for the possibility of strong storms. However I wasn’t expecting as much rain as we got in such a short amount of time.

During the next 20 hours the station became my home. Around midnight I called the Fond du Lac police station to see if my street was accessible. Nope, the Fond du Lac River saw to that. So I crashed on a station couch for about a half hour so I wouldn’t be groggy for what I needed to do. A walk to the Kwik Trip on the corner took care of breakfast, but I didn’t want to repeat the same ritual for lunch.

We passed along as much information about the flooding as we could as fast as we could. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the cooperation of emergency management officials, fire, police, and volunteers. Thanks for that. The neighbor-to-neighbor calls we got reporting flooding experiences was outstanding. It also gave people some comfort knowing they weren’t the only ones going through it.

Shortly after noon Friday when the information was slowing I decided to try going home. I used 9th Street, which at the time was the only east-to-west route that was open in Fond du Lac. From there I made it up Hickory and went around a barrier on Western Avenue that was only open to local traffic. Since I live on Western I figured that applied to me. Looking up the street I could see water that still came a ways up the street and about four or five vehicles that had stalled out trying to get through it and across the Fond du Lac River Bridge.

I parked on the street because the back parking lot and backyard were filled up with floodwater. The city had issued an advisory urging people not to use excess water so I decided to do without a shower, but later discovered I didn’t have hot water anyway. That made doing dishes interesting, not to mention a cold shave.

Even though flooding was less than a day in people were starting to fill the curbs with flood-damaged items. I didn’t get around to my basement storage unit for a couple days, but it’s interesting to see how water can seep into things you figure are air or water tight. Nothing major was lost, compared to what some experienced.

By the end of the week the water had receded and I was able to park in my garage, but it was a couple more days before the muck and dead worms that temporarily took up refuge there got washed out. To be honest I was glad to see rain this past Sunday. It washed away some of the remaining residue left in the wake of the flood, but didn’t come down in threatening amounts.

It would have been easy to make some kind of nervous joke about the flooding, but too many people were being affected and personal items of sentimental value were lost. I may never take a thunderstorm for granted again.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Sands of Time

Are my heroes getting older or is Hollywood running out of action stars? It’s a question I’ve been pondering a while, but really got me thinking when the latest Indiana Jones film came out. It’s hard to believe that Harrison Ford was able to do a lot of his own stunt work at the age of 65. Heck I’ve got some time before I hit that age and there are a lot of things I wish I could do I’m just not physically capable of.

Maybe I really started thinking about the question in the past year when I picked up a copy of Rocky Balboa. It was supposedly Sylvester Stallone’s last Rocky film. Time will tell it was a modest success and was meant to wrap up lingering questions about the character and give fans something satisfying to end with. I had a bit of a problem before seeing the film with a 60-year-old boxer, but the scenario Stallone came up with wasn’t too far of a stretch. Now a 60-something Rambo on the other hand is not something I’m dying to see.

I remember during the last decade Bruce Willis doing an interview prior to the release of the third Die Hard film saying he was getting too old to do the stunts he has to for his character in the series. That would have been a fitting epithet for what was supposed to be the last film in a trilogy. Yet last year we were treated to a new Die Hard film and I must admit something fans would enjoy.

Before he became the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger was still doing action films and I have no doubt would still be doing them if politics had not intervened. Chuck Norris, don’t get me started. He was still kicking butt in his TV series into his 60s.

Personally I don’t believe Hollywood is running out of action stars. I think actors just like to diversify a little in their roles and there’s an up and coming crop of new heroes. Still maybe it’s not such a bad thing that we can hold on to some of our older champions a little longer.

For Hollywood leading men doing action roles into their 50s, 60s and beyond is nothing new. Some of John Wayne’s most popular films running on television these days were done when he was in his late 50s and 60s. So if Indy wants to crack that whip for another film, I’m game.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Great Grape Lake

Sometimes my mind wanders and the other day I was reflecting on a moment I enjoyed with my father as a young child. We were out fishing on Indian Lake (in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) armed with fishing equipment and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

Well you know kids I became bored because the fish weren’t biting and began looking for other forms of entertainment. It’s at that point I decided to pour some of the grape soda I was drinking into the lake. My little kid’s brain fantasized that by doing that I could turn the lake into one giant grape soda, a lifetime’s supply and then some. Of course my dad didn’t appreciate me wasting the pop.

The reality is that my parents both grew up during the depression. They knew what it was like to go without and buying the cheaper brand was something you did not by choice, but by necessity. Growing up I mostly remember the store bought brands and not the brand name products lining our shelves at home. If you are old enough to remember the A & P stores you probably remember the Ann Page products.

My mother came from a bigger family than my dad and to this day watches her pennies. I sometimes tell her to treat herself once in a while, but those impressions made by the depression and WW II live on. I’m always amazed at the no-name products she buys. Except of course for the Schwan’s man, which seems to be the only type of product she’s willing to pay a little more for.

Recently she stayed with me for a couple of weeks and we went shopping together. For the first time I saw how she thinks and how far she can stretch a meal. I have to admit that since then I’m thinking along similar lines. This morning after munching on the plastic bag filled with carrots I brought to work, I started thinking about how many times I might be able to use that bag again.

Getting back to the fishing venture with my dad. There’s no way I was going to turn Indian Lake into the “Great Grape Lake,” but it’s probably all for the best. At the time there were a lot of cabins and resorts along the lake that were pumping their sewage into it. You can pretty much guess how that grape soda dipped from the lake would have tasted. Still I enjoyed the time with my dad and the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with their Ann Page peanut butter and jelly.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sick of the Presidential Race?

The question people keep asking me whenever they see coverage of the Presidential race is, “Aren’t you just sick of it already?” They then add, “And it really hasn’t begun yet.”

At the beginning of the year the prospect of electing are first woman president or first African-American president held some appeal. However over the past few months we’ve probably found out more about Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama then we’ve wanted to. Meanwhile John McCain awaits an opponent and gets in his licks when he can.

Hillary’s been buried prematurely before, but following the North Carolina and Indiana primaries there’s reports her campaign is running out of money. Add to that former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator George McGovern urging her to drop out of the Democratic presidential race. He was backing her now he’s endorsing Obama.

Obama seems to have survived the controversy over his former pastor’s raves. If he does indeed become the Democratic nominee what other dirt will be uncovered? I’m just asking because in our “can’t wait” society we learn everything about everyone before they become someone.

I will be honest that John McCain’s age is something that bothers me. He’ll be 72-years-old in August and would be older than Ronald Reagan was when Reagan was elected President. Staunch Republicans will point towards Ronald Reagan’s accomplishments. However the world is in a whole different state than it was in that era. For one thing America wasn’t in the midst of a prolonged war.

So who to vote for? That will probably be an Election Day decision for a lot of us. Please don’t waste it with a “Mickey Mouse” or “Darth Vader” write-in. You can start the name-calling after the candidate has been in the White House for a while.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grab What You Can

I was enjoying a movie on television Saturday afternoon when all the fire alarms in my apartment building started going off. The first thing you want to do is deny there’s a real fire in the building. Still I grabbed my wallet, checkbook and poked my head out in the hallway to see how serious things were.

There was smoke on the first floor, but it wasn’t that thick so I went down to see what was going on. It seems my downstairs neighbor, let’s call him “T”, was cooking in his kitchen when something caught fire. One neighbor said there were flames two to three feet high coming from a counter top or stove. “T” himself said something I didn’t quite understand.

Anyway by that time the fire was out, but the smoke, which had an electric crispness to it, was still making its way out the front and back doors that were propped open on the first floor. The fire department arrived to check out the damage, which was mostly smoke damage.

On my way upstairs I started thinking about the things I’d gathered and cursed myself for not grabbing my parakeet “Sprite.” Course my quick evaluation told me the building wasn’t going to burn up, but if there’s a next time the bird goes with me. The rest of the stuff is covered by insurance, although a few things have great memory value.

I’m not much for labeling, but during the incident one of my newer neighbors said something like, “That crazy guy tried to burn down the building.” The person who said it looked a bit crazed at the time, but I don’t like to make snap judgments.

Let me tell you about “T.” He had a brain operation years ago that didn’t go right. It left him with some problems and eyes that don’t quite align right. If you met him you might get the impression he’d been drinking, but he’s not a drinker. It takes him a little more time to process things. When I finally talked to him about the fire he said it wasn’t his fault and I believe him. Still I fear it might affect his particular independent living situation. I don’t like judging a book by its cover. It’s been my experience that most books deserve a good read.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Open Door

Politicians are fond of saying they have an “open door” policy. That’s pretty much true here at our KFIZ studios as well. We’ve always pretty much allowed listeners to walk right in when they feel like it. However a recent incident makes you wonder how much trust you should put in that policy.

Bob Hoffmaster was on the air and made a comment about some parents from somewhere else in the country that were trying to decide which street gang their child should belong to. The comment was meant to be funny, but at least one listener didn’t take it that way.

She drove over to the station and during a commercial break started to tell Bob how inappropriate it was. The conversation took place in the office and not in our on-air studio. However the woman did barge into the studio while Bob was on the air and started ranting at him.

I’m not going to say who was right or wrong, but being a fellow announcer I have to say the woman crossed the line. Most of the people who enter our studios are guests. Sometimes people come in off the street with birthdays or whatever, but have the courtesy to wait until your microphone is off to tell you what it is they need or want.

There have been incidents where radio announcers have been beaten up or killed while doing their air shifts. Certainly that wouldn’t happen in Fond du Lac? Or would it? Trouble is you never know nowadays when people are trying to get their point of view across and don’t seem to know when they’ve gone too far.

Once upon a time I worked at a radio station in Minocqua. Our nighttime disc jockey was getting crank calls at the station. He put up with them and reported them to the station manager who asked him to keep a record of them. Finally he got fed up and started arguing with the guy. The guy told him he’d come down and straighten him out and our disc jockey said come ahead.

Well the guy didn’t, but we later found out he was picked up one night running naked down a county road waving a shotgun around. Turns out he only lived a couple blocks away from our disc jockey.

With radio you’re going to touch a nerve once in awhile. It’s unavoidable. You only hope that it’s not going to enrage someone to the point where they feel the need for a face-to-face confrontation. Most times you are trying to say something clever that the majority of your listeners will know is a joke. However some don’t realize it’s only humor. I’m not sure whether to feel sorry for them or just scared.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Brett Favre Stay Retired

Brett Favre don’t come out of retirement. Words I didn’t think I’d ever pen or utter, but there they are. While recuperating in a convalescent home from hip surgery I watched the press conference. Despite what I went through I think that was more painful.

I’m happy to say I at least got to see Favre play at Lambeau once and that it was a winning experience. I also watched the rest of his games as a Green Bay Packer on television in whole or part. Though he played his rookie season for the Atlanta Falcons I’ll always consider Brett Favre as a Packer only! Sorry four or five passes in a Falcons uniform don’t count in my book.

Last week rumors surfaced that Favre’s agent might be shopping him around to other teams. Some insiders believe the agent might have done that, but not necessarily with Favre’s knowledge and that Favre will stay retired. Short of winning another Super Bowl, and there’s no guarantee that would happen, what else does he have to accomplish.

Critics say Peyton Manning will break Favre’s records in another 5 or 6 years. That may be true, but he’d have to play about 100 more games for the consecutive game streak and there’s no telling when a quarterback is going to be injured. Would that be a reason for Favre to play one more season?

Reggie White retired then came back a season later as a Carolina Panther. He wasn’t the same Reggie White. How would Favre fair in another uniform? Would he go to a team with a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl? If so why not another season with the Green Bay Packers?

So Brett Favre stay retired. Aaron Rodgers stay healthy! Just how good a coach Mike McCarthy is and general manager Ted Thompson is will be measured by next season’s success. Hopefully they’ll all surprise as Favre cruises on his riding lawn mower, a man of leisure who doesn’t have to worry about a blitzing linebacker.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thanks for the Prayers

I’ve developed a new appreciation for the handicapped and disabled over the last month and a half. Hip surgery did not go as well as hoped for me with some complications arising. A few were life threatening, but because of my relative youth I pulled out of them. As planned I did spend a few weeks in the All About Life Rehabilitation Center in Fond du Lac. That followed a couple of hospital stays.

It wasn’t easy being one of the youngest occupants in the Center. In the dining room I was paired up with Ray and Jerome at a table. Ray is 73-years-old and Jerome a sprite 102. Jerome is also known as “The Candy Man” because of his penchant for passing out candy to other residents and staff. Although it wasn’t easy to understand what he was saying I found out that if you took the time to listen you could.

It’s not easy going through therapy to learn how to walk again. Basically that’s why I was there. It started out slow, but progressed from there. Progress is measured in feet and inches and how much heart you have for it.

I draw some of my strength from a therapy session in which I witnessed both courage and despair. A woman named “Kathy” was depressed about how far she’s come in her therapy. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she talked with her therapist. I’m not sure on the details, but she broke something in her back in January. Her therapist detailed her progress mentioning that someone who might not have been expected to walk again was now able to walk over a hundred feet with the aid of a walker and some help. I hope her therapy continues to go well.

It was also encouraging to get so much support from friends and listeners. Cards, e-mails, and phone calls came to the hospitals and rehab center I stayed at. One friend brought a box of candy, another the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. There were flowers and more. On occasion I got a chance to meet some of our great listeners from an older woman who volunteers at St. Agnes Hospital to a teenage girl, “Anna Rose”, whose mother cuts and styles hair at All About Life.

There were plenty who also had me in their prayers and I hope some day to return that favor for them.

Visitors are important in the healing process. Remember that if someone close to you is going through a hospital stay or convalescent process. More important than the flowers and cards they bring is the encouragement and hope.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Hip, Hip Hooray!

It was a clear crisp day in Park Falls, Wisconsin. It was my birthday in fact. I was about half way through a six-mile run and going over some railroad tracks. I thought to myself that it seemed symbolic. Four years later in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin I was still a runner, but pulled what I thought was a muscle and woke up around another birthday feeling terrible pain. I thought I’d ripped up a muscle in my left leg.

Several months later I found out that my running days were over unless I wanted to hasten on hip surgery. I was informed I was too young for that, but would likely need it anyway within 10 years. Now 11 years later in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin it’s become a reality. Although some physicians still feel I’m too young for surgery.

I have my bad left hip to thank for a few new educational experiences. First of all I have learned how far you can go before you can no longer hide the pain from yourself. Others can see it, but you put on blinders. It’s also been a wonderful introduction to our health care system. I am beginning to see the frustration that people go through.

Working with insurance companies is strange. It’s almost like trying to speak a language you are nowhere near fluent in. Our insurance program at work isn’t bad, but unless you learn the short cuts you may just become lost. For instance the 1-800 number you call for all purposes isn’t very helpful. Neither is the website that’s supposed to supply instance answers. Of course part of this was my fault because I didn’t speak the language.

I was eventually able to get questions answered. The term “in-network” became essential to my cause. For instance going through my regular doctor and the orthopedist he recommended, both “in-network,” I was given the names of several specialists. It looked like one that I was referred to was also “in-network,” but the facility he does the surgery at isn’t. I have since been referred to another surgeon and facility that is.

The surgeon informed me that I would be in the hospital for 3-5 days. The insurance company sent me a notice that I was covered for 3 days. I’ve been told this is a game that the insurance companies and doctors play. Since I hadn’t had the surgery at the time that I wrote this no one really knows how long I’ll be required to be in the hospital.

Until I actually have surgery there are no certainties, but I know that when it does happen a whole chapter of my life is finished. Taking stock of the things I’ve missed out on the last few years I really wish I’d gotten the surgery done earlier. I took a trip to Lambeau Field with my brother John in the fall of 2006 and watched the Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions. It was a great trip and I enjoyed it immensely, but climbing through the stands was both painful and worrisome.

One of the wonderful things I’ve learned from this experience is just how wonderful your friends are. The people who volunteered to help me through it by giving me rides and best wishes have shown me that a person who has friends is truly blessed. I’m also thankful to those who have been through the procedure that put in their two cents worth.

If you’ve been told you need hip surgery and have put it off, a piece of advice. Don’t wait until a friend tells you I thought that was you I saw “gimping around.” That was six years ago and came from a friend. Doctors can tell you what’s what, but friends lend some honesty to the diagnosis.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Pretty Good Start

“A pretty good start.” That’s the punch line to a famous lawyer joke. Don’t get me wrong I heard it from a lawyer friend of mine. I only speak of it after sitting in on a long murder trial, the Kevin Moore case, which got me to thinking about lawyers and courtrooms, etc.

If you’re not familiar with the case Moore was accused of bludgeoning his wife to death with a cinderblock. A jury found him guilty of the murder charge after nearly 13 hours of deliberation. Moore’s lawyer is the legendary Gerald Boyle. It’s the first time in my travels that I’ve covered a case in which Boyle was representing someone. His most famous client was Jeffrey Dahmer.

Speaking with my reporting colleagues a few feel Boyle’s best days are behind him, but I think he gave Moore his best shot. He certainly had the jury’s attention throughout the case. Compared to his opponent in the courtroom, Assistant State Attorney General Tom Storm, they are a study in contrast. Storm was the Fond du Lac County District Attorney when Moore was originally charged.

During his closing argument Boyle explained to the jury how he operates and made no apologies for at times bouncing his raised voice off the courtroom walls. He quoted from General Douglas MacArthur, Popeye, and the Constitution. Okay so the Popeye thing was the line “I am what I am,” but I couldn’t resist.

In his rebuttal Storm had a little fun at Boyle’s expense quoting from a Theodore Roosevelt speech where the president had written in the margins, “argument weak, speak louder.” Storm got his arguments and questioning across in the case without raising his voice.

While waiting for the jury verdict Boyle shared with myself and a reporter for Channel 5 that he was disappointed that Court TV had decided against carrying the Moore Trial. He felt it would be compelling television. He also showed us a photo of his Newfoundland and his granddaughter. He says the dog goes wherever he does and was in fact happy to sit in his car for hours at a time.

One of our sports guys at KFIZ knows of Boyle and had his own story he imparted. He says there’s a picture that hangs in the Press Box in Fond du Lac that was taken of Travis Diener. It’s the only picture of Travis taken during his Marquette basketball glory days that hangs in the tavern. Boyle, who is an amateur photographer, took it. He occasionally eats there when he’s in Fond du Lac.

As for Tom Storm I know he has a good sense of humor, but goes about things quietly. I covered my share of court cases he’s prosecuted and he’s a good lawyer. He may not have the big reputation that Boyle does, but in a courtroom is just as imposing.

Kevin Moore got a good lawyer when he hired Boyle. However for the family and friends of murder victim Dawn Moore, Tom Storm as prosecutor in the case was more than “a pretty good start.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Packers Unexpected Journey

First off I’d like to wish good luck to the Green Bay Packers this Sunday when they host the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game. The fact that it’s being played at Lambeau Field is a surprise. The fact that the Packers are in that game is also a surprise.

All Packer fans had hope when they finished the 2006 season with four straight wins, but honestly I didn’t expect the Bears to fall from first place. Of course they still had the Packers’ number during their regular season match ups, but I still figured when the dust settled Green Bay at best had a shot at a wild card spot.

While waiting for last Saturday’s game to come on the tube I went through some of the Packer memorabilia from their Super Bowl winning season of 1996. There’s a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel compendium of the 1996 season, a Sports Illustrated issue from the Super Bowl win and a few videos. I didn’t watch the videos, but did thumb through the Journal Sentinel book.

The 1996 team and the 2007 edition have some similarities and some major differences. The earlier team was expected to win and they played like a team. The latest team, we are constantly reminded, is the youngest in the NFL and wasn’t expected to win. However they have played like a team with different contributions each week paving the way for a winning season.

There’s a lot of national media attention focusing on Green Bay this week and I hope that they don’t melt under the spotlight. I still have nightmares about John Elway and the Denver Broncos beating the Packers in a Super Bowl that Green Bay was favored to win.

One line from the 1996 team that I will always remember is “The Journey is the Reward!” I think to describe this 2007 team you’d have to say “The Unexpected Journey is the Reward!”

Whatever lies beyond next weekend I certainly have appreciated the pleasant diversion the Packers have provided through the fall and early winter months. Hopefully there’s one more chapter for the Packers to write in February. Go Pack Go!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Up In Smoke

I’m never really sure how to feel when state legislators start talking about smoking bans. On the one side there are certain things the government shouldn’t be allowed to regulate. On the other I’m not a smoker and really can’t stand the smoke from cigarettes myself.

When I was younger smoking was a fact of life. Not for me personally, but my mother smoked, a grandmother and grandfather smoked, even my father smoked a pipe at one time. Things changed. My mother had to give it up for health reasons. My dad gave up smoking a pipe when some of the tobacco he was smoking ended up in an eye in a freak accident.

Years ago I became a runner and although those days are behind me, I really appreciated breathing in fresh air. Now it’s hard for me to walk into a smoke-filled room and something I wouldn’t do by choice. I can feel the effects the next day. Sure it sounds like whining, but tell it to the 200,000 people that die every year from second hand smoke.

Still I live with smoking to a certain degree. A younger sister is a smoker. She used to be bad about just lighting up whenever and wherever she was, but over the years has become a little more considerate. Last year my other sister and a brother went to her house during Christmas time to clean it for her and put up her tree to cheer her up. Her mirrors and windows were covered with a film of nicotine.

When I lived in Beaver Dam I rented a small house. One day I accidentally knocked out a false-ceiling panel while I was cleaning and it broke. Fortunately there were spares in the basement and I replaced it. It was lily white compared to the other stained-yellow panels. You guessed it a previous tenant had quite the smoking habit. I left the panel up hoping it would give others something to think about.

Today on KFIZ we talked with Sandy Bernier of the Fond du Lac County Tobacco Control Coalition. She shared a number for Wisconsin’s Tobacco Quit Line. If you’ve considered quitting smoking you can get help at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, that’s 1-800-784-8669. It operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Here's their website address too I’m never really sure how to feel when state legislators start talking about smoking bans. On the one side there are certain things the government shouldn’t be allowed to regulate. On the other I’m not a smoker and really can’t stand the smoke from cigarettes myself.

When I was younger smoking was a fact of life. Not for me personally, but my mother smoked, a grandmother and grandfather smoked, even my father smoked a pipe at one time. Things changed. My mother had to give it up for health reasons. My dad gave up smoking a pipe when some of the tobacco he was smoking ended up in an eye in a freak accident.

Years ago I became a runner and although those days are behind me, I really appreciated breathing in fresh air. Now it’s hard for me to walk into a smoke-filled room and something I wouldn’t do by choice. I can feel the effects the next day. Sure it sounds like whining, but tell it to the 200,000 people that die every year from second hand smoke.

Still I live with smoking to a certain degree. A younger sister is a smoker. She used to be bad about just lighting up whenever and wherever she was, but over the years has become a little more considerate. Last year my other sister and a brother went to her house during Christmas time to clean it for her and put up her tree to cheer her up. Her mirrors and windows were covered with a film of nicotine.

When I lived in Beaver Dam I rented a small house. One day I accidentally knocked out a false-ceiling panel while I was cleaning and it broke. Fortunately there were spares in the basement and I replaced it. It was lily white compared to the other stained-yellow panels. You guessed it a previous tenant had quite the smoking habit. I left the panel up hoping it would give others something to think about.

Today on KFIZ we talked with Sandy Bernier of the Fond du Lac County Tobacco Control Coalition. She shared a number for Wisconsin’s Tobacco Quit Line. If you’ve considered quitting smoking you can get help at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, that’s 1-800-784-8669. It operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Here's their website address too http://www.wiquitline.org/ I don’t have a problem with those who smoke. It’s their choice, but it isn’t mine.