It’s Holiday Time

Holiday Message
If we all could take a minute away from personal attacks, maybe we could focus…even for a second…on something much more important.
I would like to take this time, to focus on something that stirs a personal passion during the Christmas holidays each year.
It isn’t a unique place to visit or an attraction to experience. This something carries with it its own uniqueness and special experience through the act of doing.
At times it is difficult to realize, but we all have a lot to be thankful for each year. And this is definitely the season to be thankful.
So while we ponder and prepare for trips to family and friends across the country and elsewhere during this holiday season, lets not forget those for whom the holidays may be just another day on the calendar, another day to survive, another day without friends and family near.
It is difficult for many of us to believe that in this land of abundance there can be people suffering the pains of hunger or people freezing for lack of a roof or people lonely because they have not or cannot be together with family or friends.
This wonderful country has found remarkable answers for many crises, has diligently worked to right many wrongs and has provided much sought after freedom for its people and others far and beyond our borders.
However, the answer to hunger, homelessness and loneliness for many in this country is still elusive.
I have found Americans to be generous and caring people.
During this long holiday season, if you can, please try to find a way to take an extra step of kindness. Donate to a food pantry; help out a homeless shelter…visit someone who you know will be alone at this time or hold a family member just a bit closer.
As much as you will helping others in ways far beyond your greatest expectations, you will truly be helping yourself in the knowledge that you made an important difference for someone.
You see, a little generosity and caring for others actually helps everyone.
And, as my Dad directed me as a young boy, “if you see someone without a smile….give ‘em one of yours”!

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That Postage and Handling “Thing”.

We have all seen the deluge of infomercials and “gotta have” tv commercials.  but, have you really paid any attention to the tag lines for these commercials.

Inevitably after we have been mezmerised by this revolutionary device that will do everything short of the final duty we perform in the bathroom, we come to the product sales pitch, which, as we all have come to know is phenominally underpriced even though  it is capable of incredible feats of magic around the house or in the garage.

I’m trying to keep my tounge in my cheek right now but I’m used to writing with my tounge holding my upper lip stationary!  I have a tendancy to move my lips when writing or reading.

Now we question ourselves….How can this company hope to make even a dollar selling these devices at these unheard-of low prices.  These blessed companies must be sent by a guardian angel to watch over all of us consumers…because, as they demonstrate to us in their advertising, they certainly are making these fabulous products available to us at a huge financial LOSS and it’s not even Christmas!

But, there’s more…I hpe you’re sitting down for this next revelation!   If you act “right away”, in some cases in the next 30 minutes, there is an additional bonus for your promptness.  Your efficiency and dexterity in speed dialing in your order immediatly will be rewarded with another of these devices FREE…(just pay seperate processing or handling). 

Ummmhummm?

OK, my tounge fell out of my cheek and I bit it !

Any light bulbs turning on yet?

First of all most of these “gotta have” commercials “do not” post the proccessing and handling figure in the commercials.  The few that do tell a great story.  If the product is selling for $19.99 ( and just about ALL of them do )  the processing and handling charge is nearly as much as half the original price.

Cmon’…I know there’s gotta be a least ONE light bulb illuminating by now.

Okay okay, let’s say the light switch in your head is still in the OFF position.   Try this experiment the next time you are tempted to answer one of these “gotta have” pitches.  Pick up you phone and call the number on the screen.  But, before you buy, ask the price of processing and handling.  Next write down the original cost of the first item….let’s say $19.95 plus processing and handling…say  $9.95 and the processing and the handling ONLY price for the second item…also $9.95.  I’m not a mathematician butI  believe that comes out to $39.85.

There it is!  I think I saw some light bulbs begining to flicker.

WOW, what a bargain.

And the guarantee on most of these projects probably would not be worth the trouble and expense of shipping it back to the manufacturer.

I feel most of these types of commercials should come under the “NEARLY Truth In Advertising category”!

I just had to say this…now I think I will be able to sleep again!

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I Admit It…Men Mess It Up!

I can tell  this story now because my wife’s birthday was last August and she has calmed down by now.

I think!

I was simply trying to do right and I, well…oh, here’s the whole story.

Early last August I was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching his  wife, who was looking at herself in the mirror. Since her birthday was not far off I asked what she’d like to have for her birthday.

‘I’d like to be six again’, she replied, still looking in the mirror .

On the morning of her Birthday, I got up early, made her a nice big bowl of Lucky Charms, and then took her to Six Flags theme park.

What a day!

I put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the ScreamingRoller Coaster, everything there was. Five hours later we staggered out of the theme park. My wife’s head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. 

Next I took her to a McDonald’s where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake. Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M’s. What a fabulous adventure!

Finally she wobbled home with me and collapsed into bed exhausted. I leaned over her with a big smile on my face and lovingly asked, ‘Well Dear, what was it like being six again?’
Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed.
 

‘I meant my dress size, you retard!!!!’
The moral of the story: Even when a man is listening, he is gonna get it wrong.

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My Swedish Aunt Astrid

I’m sure we all have a favorite relative that left an indelible mark on our lives.  I too have a special person…an Aunt.  No, whe wasn’t a movie star or other such celebrity.  In fact in a family of solid Norwegians, she was the only Swede…something she suffered constant ribbing about.

But she was also an amazing history lesson.  Let me tell you the story as related to me by my family.

I list Astrid, Johnson as a native of Lisbon, North Dakota, because in all my years I only knew her as “Aunt Oscar.  Yes, Oscar is a strange name for an Aunt, but my Mother told me that we kids, nieces and nephews, had trouble pronouncing her name and somehow one of us converted Astrid to Oscar and it stuck.  As I was told, in my “just learning how to talk age” I made a naughty word out of saying Astrid.  Not on purpose mind you…it just came out of my toe-headed mouth in a certain way that my Mother really didn’t want to hear.

Astrid’s story is an interesting look into how much of America took on the flavors and cultures of distant lands.

Like many, Astrid  immigrated to America in the early 1900’s from Laxa, Sweden.  She came to this country accompanied by an Aunt…whose name is not mentioned anywhere in our family history.  When I was a young boy I was told she came here by herself.  What my parents meant by that was, she came here without any of her sisters or brothers.  She had four boys and three girl siblings.  Astrid’s Aunt volunteered to make the long boat trip with her.  What is remarkable is that Astrid was just 16 years old when she embarked from the shores of Sweden to start a new and unknown life in America.  The year was 1926.

If you have children, can you imagine putting them on a sailing ship, today let alone in the early 1900′s, and sending them thousands of miles away from home…maybe to never see them again?

As the story goes, Astrid was the oldest daughter in the familoy and the one selected to leave her family in Laxa, Sweden and go to America.  Another interesting sidebar is that even though Astrid’s family was not financially well off, her father was a bodyguard to the King of Sweden and he died from a heart attack when he was 49 years of age.

After a mandatory quarantine on Ellis Island in New York harbor Astrid and her Aunt stepped on to American soil for the first time. New York had to look overwhelming to a 16 year old Swedish girl who grew up in the countryside of a small countryfar away.

Astrid’s Aunt went on to Chicago from New York.  For reasons unknown, Astrid boarded a train, alone in a strange country,  that eventually took her to Lisbon, North Dakota.  Remember, Astrid didn’t speak or understand a word of English.

Astrid’s full name was  Astrid Linnea Amelia Viman.  She changed her last name to Wyman when she got to Lisbon.  Another sketchy part of her history is “Who” she lived with in Lisbon.  My family tree only indicates she lived with a family in Ransom County.  Astrid also attended First Grade in Lisbon.  Yes, she had gone to school in Sweden but she was put in the first grade in Lisbon to learn English.

Astrid eventually married my Uncle Leo Johnson.  They had  a son and a daughter, Lloyd and Juline.  Forty two years passed before Lloyd and his wife Evelyn and daughter Glenda packed up Astrid and Leo and flew East to reunite Astrid with her remaining family in Sweden.  Astrid told of tears and laughter at the reunion.

Imagine not seeing your family for four decades.  Some had passed on.  Others had families of their own for you to meet for the first time.  Astrid, with her American family, visited a Stave style church where she had gone as a child.  They looked at the changes in her original hometown and saw once familiar streets and neighborhoods where she had walked.  It wasn’t home any more, but then, it was.

Astrid’s son took mountains of photos which Astrid could detail when asked who or what was pictured.  Her face always lit up when she remembered alound.

Astrid died in 1995.

 

Anecdotally….

Astrid “always” had a strong Swedish accent.  When I was a teen boy I would mimick her speech at family gatherings.  Everyone would laugh except Astrid.  She thought I sounded just fine.

My Dad Joe Johnson used to tell Astrid she was the family token Swede…as the entire rest of my family were Norwegians.  In return, Astrid referred to my Dad as the family’s token “wooden nickel”.  There was saying in the day…”don’t take any wooden nickels”.

Astrid was the best pastry cook in the “entire” world.  When she baked sweets and you tasted them, you no longer had any aches, pains, worries or troubles.

Astrid is missed by all who knew her…especially her familes from Lisbon, North Dakota to Laxa, Sweden.

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The View From The Edge of Fargo

I have decided to take my “View From The Edge” to other locales from time to time.

This time I’m on the edge of Fargo, North Dakota.

My wife and I had a long weekend in Fargo visiting family and friends and revisiting some of my old stomping grounds.  Okay, I never really “stomped” but I did tread a lot of ground, mostly in Lisbon, North Dakota.

In Fargo I visited some longtime media friends and sipped coffee with a couple of them while we impressed each other with tales of accomplishments and feats of amazement.  Okay…I was doing that.  And yes, I had to embelish my stories a bit, but…they’re MY stories!

A wonderful feature writer for the Fargo Forum, Bob Lind, was kind enough to join me for coffee and apple pie at the Holiday Inn near the West Acres shopping center.   I think I can speak for Bob when I say we BOTH went silent as we devoured that warm delicious apple pie served in seperate baking dishes.  We wanted to talk, but we found it more important to shut up and eat!

AFTER the pie was injested and the serving bowls scraped and licked we had a wonderful visit.  At lease I know I did.   Bob is one of those writers that flawlessly takes conversations and turns them into amazing tales of lifes adventures and memories.  If you haven’t had an opportunity to enjoy Bob’s writings in the Fargo Forum…shame on you.  I will forgive you if you search his name in the Forum’s files and catch up.  You may find his articles will leave you smiling and nodding you head in agreement.

I also “coffeed-down” in a neat little candy shop/coffee emporium near West Acres with Doug Leier.  Doug is a North Dakota DNR officer and hosts an outdoor program on KFGO Radio on Saturday afternoons.  I am proud to say this icon of the North Dakota outdoors has invited me to participate in his program by providing a Minnesota fishing segment.  Doug makes me feel welcome on his program and tells me I am an asset to the show.  At least I have interrpreted what he has told me as “assett”… he might have said something else.

I spent a Saturday morning in Lisbon where I visited with the owner of the Ransom County Gazette Newspaper and engulfed a magnificent turkey wrap sandwich at Ho’-den-aht-’EES…a gift store, coffee shop, antique emporium and the only food shop on mainstreet in Lisbon that will let me in the door.  I also encountered several Lisbonites whom I had met on prior visits who indicated it was nice to see me back in town.  I informed them the statute of limitations had run out and I was free to come back from time to time as long as I didn’t make a habit out of it.  I told some Norwegian jokes…we laughed and I drove away from Lisbon smiling in the memories of my visit.

There, you see!  It is kind of nice to check out the View From The Edge Of…other places too.

Little Joe

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2012 Presidential Election

Back in February of 2010 I etch-a-sketched an article called “Repubocrats”…my term for the total “indifferences” between republicans and democrats.  Upon watching sometimes up to 8-minutes of the republican natonal convention and preparing myself to contribute a similar amount of time to the democratic national convention I have realized my position in 2010 is still true.

I will excerpt some of the paragraphs from my earlier article…such as;

…As Repubocrats battle for camera time on the network news, Americans suffer from unemployment, lack of health care, lack of jobs, poor education, lack of housing and a corporate banking structure that openly laughs at congress while forcing Americans to “bend over” as they ”greet” the voting populace.

As Repubocrats publicly flood the airwaves and pages of newspapers with claims of working hard to solve this nation’s problems at all levels, they…in seclusion…split their seams laughing at the public for buying in to their rhetoric.  Publicly the Repubocrats claim they are working to produce legislation ( health care in particular ) that each of the designated ( on paper only ) parties can live with.  Just that statement should sicken all Americans.  America does not need a health care plan that the parties can live with…they need a health care plan that “Americans can LIVE with”!  Washington Repubocrats already have health care that THEY can live with…and, they make Americans pay for it.  America’s latest, corporate induced, financial crisis and continued lack of health care in the most modern nation on the globe would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic…”

As most of America is asked to suffer through the meaningless speeches by the presidential candidates…each of which claims to know what middle America wants and needs…I am recomending the Cartoon Channel.  It will be more factual and better reflect problems facing middle America.

So, how should middle America vote in November?   That’s a tough one.  We’ve all had to select the “lesser of two evils” in various elections in the past.   What if there isn’t ONE?

While I can’t pretend to tell you how to vote, I do have a few suggestions.  Maybe one of them will work for you as you close the curtain in the voting booth.

1.  If you are religious go to you place of worship and watch to see if any writing appears on the wall that will direct you.  You may have to try several places of worship and there is still no guarantee you will get a celestial email.

2.  If you are a gambler, well…you’re used to losing no matter what/who you bet on so you won’t be disappointed regardless of the outcome.

3.  A “medium” might work if you can find one that looks into the future rather than the past but, I’m not “seeing” that.

4. Lastly…there is always the coin-flip.   I have found that if I flip a coin in the air and the coin “stays in the air”…I will make the right choice.

Whatever you do, do it with your best intentions and hopes for the future.   We the people will speak in November.  It remains to be seen whether anyone is listening.

Just a thought…So far each of us is still allowed to think.

 

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Exercise Follow-up

Has anyone seen the salt?

I have received many emails and a few texts since I wrote about my exercise, or lack thereof.

Some people thought my comments were funny, some thought I should take my comments and put them where exercise remarks probably wouldn’t see the light of day.  ( I found those suggestions humanly impossible to accomplish. )

So, to keep my spirits up and my mind functioning I decided to add a little fuel to the negative fire with a couple more exercise comments.

Here goes…..” If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country…and, I know I got a lot of exercise the last few years,…… just getting over the hill.”

And, here are a couple of general observations that should “ring a bell” with a few folk…

Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?

I’ve reached the age where ‘happy hour’ is a nap.

The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.

Do you realize that, in about 40 years, we’ll have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos?

After 70, if you don’t wake up aching in every joint, you’re probably dead.

And my favorite….”That snap crackle and pop I hear each morning at breakfast AIN’T my damn Rice Krispies.

Little Joe

 

 

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America’s Job Problem Solved by Americans

I have been watching most of the republican debates on television. 

They make me cry…then laugh…then cry again.

It is quite obvious the wealthy candidates (they all are) on stage look upon most of the American citizenry as lesser people, BUT, they are running for election so they have to put up with the non-rich until they get their votes and their jobs of power…they don’t need the measley salaries (compared to their own methods of income) the offices they are running for pay.  A high percentage of house and senate members in congress are millionaires (look it up). So then why would you run for such a low paying position?  I venture to say NOT because they really want to fix America.  I mean America is working out just right for them.  The real answer is….(drum roll here)…Power.  so when you listen to the debates keep in mind a man once said…”politicians and babies need to be changed frequently, and, for the same reason”!

But we’re talking about JOBS and America’s need for more of them.

I would like to site ONE example of how the American Public can help create those jobs.  About every four to six weeks I get a special flier in my Sunday paper from Menard’s ( a big box home center store in the Twin Cities).  This particular flier lists items throughout their store that are “MADE IN AMERICA”!  When consumers buy ” Made In America” products it is like igniting an sparkplug in a gasoline engine.  The purchase of home-(America)-made products means another one of those items needs to be made in an American factory.  If enough of those products are purchased, there is a good chance that factory might have need for more workers. Viola…here-in lies part of our American job-crisis solution.

It doesn’t matter whether you are in an apartment or your own home, we all need home care products and building supplies.  When we buy such items, why not check to see if it is made in America?  If it isn’t, search for a similar product that is and buy that one.  There are millions of people in America making these purchases every day.  Think of what would happen in the job market if we all made sure we took the time to buy only products Made In America!  (Check out a special Made In America segment on ABC television news and see how purchasing American is making a difference.  No, I don’t work for ABC news.)

I wait for this particular flier to arrive at my doorstep every few weeks because, unless some weird emergency erupts in my household, most home center products I use can wait until I get the flier and see if I can find the type of product I need that is made in America.

I don’t work for Menards and I shop several different home center store in Minneapolis/St. Paul area. And…I have become a label reader.  I now always check to see if what I am buying is “Made In America”.

We’re a great country.  We were industry leaders for decades. We can be again…one “Made In America” nail at a time.

p.s.  I have discovered a new AreaVoices blog that makes me think…this is not easy.  If you get a chance, check out “Middle America’s Mouth”. I don’t agree with everything the author writes, but the topics and comments make me think.

Little Joe

 

 

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The Truths and Values of Exercise

 

I recently retired, which almost immediately proved to be boring.  Mainly because all of the projects I had planned to work on and complete upon my retirement, I found I could do “tomorrow”.

This “plan” doesn’t work and finally made me realize the true meaning of a plaque I saw in a small town North Dakota bar many years ago.  It read…………”FREE DRINKS….TOMORROW”

Yes, I’m slow, but I eventually get there.

My latest epiphany was to begin regular exercise, to get in shape, lose some pounds, increase my flexability and just basically “buff up”.  Like that’s going to work…I’m tired just writing this.

Sooooooo…….I joined a health club last year,
spent about 250 bucks.
Haven’t lost a pound.
Apparently, you have to go there!

Then a learned person suggested I should take up walking.  Not power walking, just a daily constitutional to keep the juices flowing and the joints from seizing up.  Maybe I could take a cup of coffee with me on the walk, now that science is saying coffee is okay for you again.  Maybe I’d bring my camera. I’ve always enjoyed photography and have mountains of nature scenes to my collection.  Wow….the ideas and the value of exercise and walking were begining to sway me in their direction.

Then……

I met a fella in a coffee shop and started up a conversation which I slowly turned toward the subject of walking.  He told me a story.  I’m going to pass it along to all of you….right here…..

He told me….”My grandpa started walking five miles a day when he was 60.
Now he’s 97 years old…and we have no idea where the hell he is”.

I went home and burned my walking shoes and made a pact with myself that….the only time I will ever take a long walk is if I want to hear heavy breathing again.

 

Little Joe

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Senior Truths

 Since my last post I came across a few other thoughts that might be amusing to you…unless of course, you are actually experiencing  them.  If that’s the case I guess you will just have to grin a bear it.

Students in a journalism class I used to teach started calling me “pops” one quarter.  They did so with respect and self amusement.  No harm done.

One day as class was about to start I mentioned to all of them that I understand the “pops” refernce and also realized that they were not being critical.   And…because of those comments I wanted to tell them something I had done that none of them had…but I hoped they would one day.   They guessed a lot of things that were pretty interesting, but none of them were correct.

Funally one student commented, ” we give up, what have you done that none of us have done?”

I answered….”I’ve made it this far”.  That done, class began.

Just in case you are of a senior persuasion, or even if you are not,  here are some moments you may have experienced.

 

1. Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is. 

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger. 

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font. 

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? 

6. Was learning cursive really necessary? 

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood. 

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind-of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories. 

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day. 

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again. 

13. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to. 

14. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than Kay.

17. I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.

18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger. 

19. How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters! 

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever. 

22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

23. The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

This modern world takes some getting used to, but as soon as I figure out one thing, they go and change it again.

Little Joe

 

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