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.