Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas is Hard Work

Every year I go thru the same emotions. Anticipation at seeing everyone, anticipation of the good things of the Christmas Season. I won't say (admit) I'm ever disappointed, but there are too many good things:
Too much food
Too many presents (incoming and outgoing) Too much TV (when did the NFL become the ordained methodology for spending Christmas eve and Christmas day)

And too few of the things I wish there was more of:
I love you's
Meaningful conversations about other than politics (as much as I love it)

All in all it's worth it all. The 1500 miles I'll end up putting on the Lesabre is worth it all. The memories made which become the raw material for later reminiscence are worth it. Even if I know better than to believe the Nativity was a Late Dec event, the fact that He came and will come again is reason enough to engage in the tradition with all it's pluses and minuses.

Sometimes I have an Ebenezer S. moment. Like when I'm sitting silent in a room full of people with a tree, little children and a TV regaling the last stand at the goal line that I want to stand up and say Bah Humbug.

However, God Bless Us EVERYONE!

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Sameness Virus

I have traveled all over the USA and in much of the rest of the world; we have infected the world with a virus that plagues the USA right now. All of our larger cities and towns look exactly alike. Fargo looks like Bismarck. Bloomington looks like Wichita, so does Little Rock, Spokane, Sioux Falls, Pittsburgh, Cleveland etcetera ad infinitum. Every mid-sized town in America looks exactly like it’s counterpart size-wise in North Dakota. I would hazard a guess that you could blindfold anyone, helicopter someone into the business district of any of these towns and that person wouldn’t have a clue where he is. He might not even know he left the town he was in.

Oh they all take a shot at creating some uniqueness. They all try to have an attraction or two that are exceptional. But, alas, to no good effect.

But, for the most part its McDonalds, KFC, Comfort Suites, Lowes, The Gap, Kohls, Bennigans, and so on. The sameness is slightly offset by any preservation of historic buildings built before the sameness virus set in. When I lived in Fargo Moorhead in the early 60s, the most interesting part of town was “Downtown”. Particularly Moorhead. It was seedy, fragmented, a little ragged, but unique, interesting and full of soul and character. It had a soul with a history that was just a little naughty. It was NOT the same as everywhere else.

Then, those who knew better ripped the soul out of these downtowns, replacing it with more sameness. They are prettier, cleaner, bland and empty today. The answer towns have now is tear down the old sameness and replace it with new sameness. Where are the creative architects of today? Astonish us. Make me go oooooo. Stop boring us with derivative glass.

I say all that to say this. In any state, particularly in North Dakota, the real interest is the uniqueness of the countryside and the uniqueness of the buildings left from the creative times of the late 1800’s thru the mid 1930’s. The uniqueness of the open country with features and character that only a person who grew up here can appreciate. And when pointed out to others can cause them to say WOW.

As the quest to find new ways to reach out to new people to come to North Dakota proceeds it will require ways to showcase the outdoor benefits of the state. Take a look at the attitudes that have to change to do this. When it comes to making the state inviting we have seen the enemy and he is us. Check out this outdoors post below. Inviting isn't it?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


It’s almost time for the grand trek north to Dakota. Kevin came in, we shopped (no real rush you know) and all is well.

Of course a few days ago I had to go hunting with my car, Deer hunting. And I bagged one. A nice doe. But, Buick Bullets are really expensive. The body shop has seen me twice in the last 2 years after one of these hunting expeditions.

But, dents and all, the Buick is a mighty beast and it will make the full distance.

I will try to find a computer and offer Christmas observations along the way.

The whole family 50 or so will gather on Christmas Eve at the Redlins. What a spectacle. It’s Norman Rockwell meets Terry Redlin. If it weren’t so traditional it would be a bit much.

I will proceed to download a rural economic development concept 3 times per week during the whole ND legislative session. If we don’t try, nothing will happen.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Does Everyone Wait??

I just returned from an expedition out of the house. I went to a town 15 miles away. Every parking lot, every road, was jammed. All last minute shoppers.

Don't those people read a calendar?? Christmas isn't for 4 more days. There's lots of time yet. I mean, I've just started.

I hear all about the recession, nobody has any money.

Maybe it's all on plastic.

Or maybe, they are all out shoplifting for Christmas this year.

Take the Christ out of Christmas and what does it matter.


Beware the Dirt Desert

This year the Nebraska state fair went belly up. It didn't even seem unusual anymore. All up and down the western states, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota from an area 50 miles west of thier eastern borders to the front range of the rockies there has been encroaching as certain as the sands of the Sahara, a Dirt Desert which features a few nice oases (cities) spaced about 100 on average miles apart and lots of little dying outposts (towns) located in between.

The occupants of this desert seem to be unaware of this outcome. Some government policy encourages this migration to the metro at the expense of the territories.

They write it off as "Buffalo Commons". For those who might not be aware of this nomenclature, The area where 150 years ago the buffalo roamed free is returning to its natural state. No people, a land of empty houses, and buffalo. BUFFALO COMMONS.

I don't' agree. I am engaged in a personal battle to help reverse this trend thru education, legislation, renewal of a backbone in those who have given up and uncovering the opprotunities that exist inherant in the land.

These opprotunities might not be unwrapped by today inhabitants. It might take a new breed of people who do not now occupy and possess the land.

The issue is the political will to solve this. Government types have already given up. It's an unwritten attitude which results in defacto policy to give up, those areas shouldn't be occupied anyway. The state (city states really) would be better served if the people living there demanding some level of service were simply exported off the land. Buffalo Commons.

Let's take it back.

I have much to say on this. This raging against the machine of apathy and hopelessness will go on for a long time to come. Join the battle. It's worth the fight.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Ok, Here Goes

I am not the most technically skilled.

But I try,

Now, I have succeeded, Maybe.

I promise not to bore you too much. I promise to do my best to God and My Country, to Obey the Scout Law, Wait, that's another pledge.

It only took me 4 hours to get this far.

Have mercy on me.