Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year...harvesting Sugar Beets

This morning I woke up to a familiar sound, but one that only happens about the first of October each year! Just as hunters listen for that first sound of a goose heading south in the fall or seaman's widows waiting for the first faint blasts from the ships horn announcing that it soon will be appearing out on the horizon.

It's a combination sound usually starting off with the revving of a powerful diesel engine followed by a clunk,clunk clunk, clunk clunk clunk clunk, and then a constant stream of bumps as thousands and thousands of sugar beets are dropped from the conveyor chains into waiting truck boxes. It's called the campaign and it is always scheduled to start on October the First, midnight, October 1st. Why they start at midnight I'll never know, but I do know that it sets the stage for the coming 3 weeks as thousands of Diurnal men and women, for just a few weeks become Nocturnal. Trying to go to bed and get a good rest at nine in the morning just doesn't work for most of these people and so it's a time of tiredness, eating food out of lunch boxes, and mega amounts of coffee/hot chocolate and these new premium energy drinks.

My cousin Paul didn't get married till he was past 40. When the announcement was made, aunts and cousins all scrambled to find the perfect shower gift! A steel/tin box about 18 inches by 14 inches by 12 inches tall with two handles on it, much like a picnic basket. This box could NOT be made of plastic, or look like a back pack, although it resembled a picnic basket (handle wise anyway) it could not be woven of wooden strips, that would let the dust has to be of a thin tin, much like the storage boxes that farm women kept open chocolate chips, and brown sugar (tightly wrapped in plastic of course).

And so the hunt was on to find the perfect dinner packing box. I believe the prize went to my sister who found an authentic one on ebay which exactly fit the bill. Although it looks like a wicker picnic basket it's all metal with wicker handles and is an exact copy of the box that his father used for decades! Now Leah is complete as a farm wife (he says smiling!) They are big enough to hold a couple of thermos bottles of coffee and or hot chocolate, another 1/2 high thermos that hold hot food hot for many hours. Many sandwiches in plastic bags, home made cookies, and a few energy bars round out the contents. This is enough "fuel" to keep a hard working farmer going, sometimes for 18 hours at a time.

So the sugar beet harvest is on. Waterfowl season opens on Saturday, but for sugar farmers, that is only an item on the morning news. Their chance at harvesting some goose or ducks must come later.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


So often people as the question, "Are you a dog person or a cat person?" There's much written about the different temperaments that people supposedly have based on whether they've selected from the canine or the Felis catus. I don't know how to decide what I am since I've been the guardian of both for most all of my life. I'm reminded of the Jimmy Buffet interview where he was asked how he can write such quiet loving songs and such trashy songs. His reply was, "well, some days I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy and some days I'm feeling pretty trashy!"

That how it is with cats and dogs for me. Some days I enjoy the quiet peaceful nose push of my 18 year old cat who just wants to sit quietly and be held and some days I'm out seeing if I can ride my recumbent three wheeled cycle faster than my 2 year old 60 pound guardian of small children, protector of farm and property.

I am, however, convinced that my cat is an addict! This cat came into my life somewhat by accident. Back in 1994 when I moved back to the family farmstead from Tennessee, the folks that had been living here had 5 cats. Three inside which they took with them, and a pair of lovable, yet very acclimatized outdoor cats. They were presented to me as sisters, three years old, and very independent! They often would disappear for up to three days at a time and I got used to the idea that they might be around, and that they might not. If they were here, they would often be sunning themselves on the railings of my entry deck. Each one taking up residence on their own side, looking much like a smaller version of the sitting lions at the New York Public Library! I arrived in March of 94 and within 3 months they were both pregnant. YIKES this was not in my plans! Soon after they gave birth in the same barrel in the barn. All told 13 little kittens. They did everything as a group and I'm sure there was no issue of yours or mine...just ours. Fortunately I got them all placed (I've seen the great great (how many Great) grandchildren of their kittens over the years. Then a quick trip to the vet (yes with 2 everything costs double) and this was NOT going to be a stop for the feral tabbies anymore. They were named Bobby and Susie, although no one had ever showed us which one was which. They were identical except that one had a black tip on their calico tail and one had a silver-white tip. The one with the black tip was a little more gregarious and had this trait of trying to climb up on hour shoulder and around your neck. Not always fun because I left their claws on so that they can protect themselves out in the Wilds of Lowell Township.

Then in the fall of 1999, a couple of days after I realized that one had been gone I got a call from Cousin Paul asking me if I was missing a cat. With a bit of hesitation I answered in the positive and he told me that news that he felt that he knew where she was. Leaving her with her claws on was no match for a sugar beet truck, and so I got a spade out and a plastic bag and went on that walk that no pet owner ever wants to do! About 1/4 mile down the road I found her and it was obvious that she got too close to where the rubber meets the road. So I brought her back to the farm an picked a spot out on the edge of a garden and laid her down to start digging a hole.

At that moment one of the most interesting things that I've even witnesses with animals happened. Here sister, her raise 13 kittens together best friend had followed me out to find her, and then was stuck right to me as I carried her back to the yard. When I laid her down, Bobby (or is it Susie?) walked up to her, gave sort of a sniff, then reached out a paw and gave the lifeless body a little push. Exactly at that moment, here attitude and attention completely changed, she walked away, totally having lost interest, like it never happened. Right away I remembered the Bible verse where Jesus said, "let the dead bury the dead" as he was encouraging his followers to be about the living! A good lesson that I would have never learned except for loosing a pet under those circumstances. That winter I decided I wasn't going to go to the barn to feed and water (and keep a heat lamp running) for one cat, so she because an INDOOR cat. She took to this very well! For the first years, she would spend some time outside, but with the passing of each fall season she was less anxious to go out, and always a little quicker to come in. Now, although in the evening she likes to go out every night, she never leaves the porch area, and is ready to come back in within about 15 minutes.

About six months ago things were not going well for her, health wise and I was sure the end was near. Drinking way to much water, not always able to control her bladder, weight loss, hair and skin now having lost it's vibrancy, and she didn't seem to care. So putting off what I though was going to be a sad trip to the vet, I hesitated each day until finally I knew it was time. Although this seemed like a big deal to me, it wasn't so out of the ordinary for the good Doctor. Within a minute or two of exam he said, well I'm guessing she has diabetes and it can go either way. If we run some tests and they come up as fail, then you have no other choice but to make the tough decision.

HOWEVER if the test shows that with insulin she can function normally, well then you have new choices to make. Choice number one, is that she needs to get a shot every 12 hours and you need to be pretty regular with it! Number 2, it costs a quite a bit. Do you notice that they always talk in generalities. Not, "it'll probably cost XXX.XX a year" but just "quite a bit!" Well does that mean 50 bucks a year? Or fine hundred bucks a year? Either price could sound like quite a bit depending on a persons financial condition and how much they love or put up with their pet. So let's get down to dollars. OH and don't forget, I'll have to be administering the shots (not such a big deal...I have some diabetic friends and I felt I could do what I saw them do to themselves) (BUT when you're gone you have to get someone else to do it...something I didn't recon on how difficult it would be to do!) If I reuse the needles several times (fine for cats...nix for humans), and I dose correctly so that the vial would last six months, it comes out to about 80 cents a day. Well that fits into my love of a good pet and ability to pay range, so it's off to the drug store to fill the prescription, then back to the vet to learn how to give the shot, then home with a very sick cat!

I really felt that I had just spent a couple of hundred bucks in vain. Vet services, tests, drugs, needles, it all adds up. But it was worth a try to push back the inevitable having to say goodbye to a good friend moment. I sure wasn't expecting a miracle, but over the next month or so that's exactly what happened. She gained a couple of pounds, took to giving herself daily baths, was drinking the typical amount of water needed for a cat, never missing the litter's really been a miraculous experience.

But there is one interesting thing that’s happening. She wants these shots. If I’m a little late, she comes and finds me and is not quiet about it. I can’t imagine that she has someone tied together better feelings with getting an injection twice a day, but it sure seems that way. NEVER does she try to get away, always she is waiting and it’s not tied to getting food cause she has free access to her food 24/7. I can only determine that my cat is an addict! She needs the steel, she’s a junkie…and I’m her enabler! My cat is an addict!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Goodbye Bob!

Another Crookston native has passed away. Bob Dirks had lived in town since 1970 and owned the Ben Franklin (or 5 & dime as we called it) Store. It's my recollection that the building was built just for that purpose. He closed it down in 2005 and although I don't know the sequence of events, it wasn't long after that that we heard he was fighting cancer. He was an interesting guy, being involved in hunting and fishing, but I didn't know that he could play the guitar! What a shame as we could have plucked a few strings together.

I have a crazy travel story that I hope to share with his family at the visitation, about how he got involved in my flight about 1/2 way across the Atlantic Ocean at about 33,000 feet.

I was traveling back from Berlin Germany to Minnesota. It was early December in '06. I was scheduled to fly from Berlin to Amsterdam on the 6AM flight, catching a KLM 747 to Chicago, then up to Minneapolis, and Finally to my home airport at Grand Forks. I didn't really like this route, because it involved 4 legs instead of the usual 3 and because I'd be in Chicago going through customs, (a reported nightmare from friends) and then have to pretty quickly get to another domestic terminal to catch the flight to MSP. The UPSIDE was that I was going to be able to be in the upstairs cabin on the 747 (a first for me), in World Business Class or the KLM equivalent. I miss the front cabins of the 747's Northwest used to fly across the Atlantic, they'd have DC10's on the winter season, and 747's for the summer between Minneapolis and Amsterdam. I liked them both but there was always something about riding the THUNDERING behemoths of the sky that put an added spice to the trip. Because of their size, 747's don't just turn...they slowly lay over and start a wide sweep to a new heading. And if you want a little exercise, walking from my customary seat of 2B all the way to the rear of the plane, then across the row of bathrooms in the back and returning always left you in AWE of human ingenuity and design, to make something so big that was flying so high and so fast. Anyway back to our story.

I was supposed to be on this "unusual" routing but when I got to TGL, Tegal Airport in Berlin, AT 4:30 in the morning, the 6am flight to AMS-Amsterdam had been delayed for up to 90 minutes. So While I was going through the possibilities with this very proper British-English speaking KLM gentleman, I asked about getting on one of the direct flights from AMS to MSP. I remember so well his response, "AHM TERRIBLY SAURY SIR, BUT THE LIKELIHOOD OF THAT IS EXTREMELY REMOTE! YOU'LL HAVE TO GO TO CUSTOMER SERVICE. AH'LL KEEP YOUR BAGS HERE SO I CAN LOAD THEM WHEN YOU RETURN!" OK, I got like 180 minutes so why not give it a try! I head over to the customer service station, turn the corner to face the counter, and low and behold! It's Barbara (about 60, very blond, very attractive, and very Dutch). A supervisor that I've interacted with before. She was the one that worked so hard to try to find me a flight back after the big snowstorm in Amsterdam just the year before.

Of course in my excitement I started babbling this entire story again. In about as fast as an American can spout a dissertation, I'm going, "Remember me, you tried to get me a flight home when my aunt died and there was the big snowstorm in Amsterdam and I waited in line four hours and...and...and..." She was looking at me like I was some sort of predator about to jump over the counter. Finally to finish my story to her, I held my (very same)big leather coat open in the motion that I did on that memorable day, in a wide sweeping, block the counter, motion so that she could sneak away and go to the bathroom. (She had just had surgery, which I had mentioned in my excitement which only seemed to confirm that I knew WAY to much about her as opposed to what she knew about me!) Well the minute I opened my coat, the lights went on in her brain and it all came tumbling back, she got this big smile and said in her best German-Dutch accent, "YA SURE I Hremember you, vat can I do for you today!"

I explained that although I'd been looking forward to the upstairs 747 seat, was it possible that she could re-route me on the more direct and NORTHWEST flight. She smiled and said, "well you know we're not supposed to do that!" And I smiled and said, "and I totally understand if you cant!" as she remade my tickets. The one who really had the surprise was the desk guy back at check-in. He though that he was sending me on a wild goose chase, and when I handed him my newly printed, re-routed tickets, he did a double and then a triple take, and said, "WOW Who do you know!" I just smiled and said that he could tag my bags so I could get to the first class lounge for some orange juice! I'm sure you're all wondering, what could this possible have to do with Bob Dirks in Crookston!...

After a couple of hours of "lounging" in the first class hangout at Tegal, we boarded the flight and got to Amsterdam. Then a couple of hours wait, and it was time to get on the Northwest flight, an Airbus 330, direct to Minneapolis, arriving in the same time to catch my flight up to Grand Forks. After going through the "screening" (translate GRILLING) to get on an international flight in Amsterdam, I comfortably settled down in my seat 3C, a bit smug that my plans had come together so well and the pilot announced something I'd never heard from a flight deck before. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm sorry but there's going to be a slight delay. It seems that this Airbus 330 won't let us start the engines." HMMM the only thing I could think of was this was a case of the tail wagging the dog. How was it that an airplane could refuse to do it's job. Then further news came. It seems that before they had left Minneapolis, a maintenance switch out of a component had been performed on one of the engines. When the airplane got to Amsterdam and hooked into the main computer system, it was discovered that the guy who did the change out DID NOT have the certification to do that repair. SO, the plane was refusing to move from that very spot until it got the information that it wanted. I didn't know that the computers on board were that sophisticated or had that much power. Well our slight delay turned into an additional 90 minutes on the ground. But it didn't matter to much being in the front of the plane, with excellent service, a wide seat, and a new found secure feeling about the high maintenance standards that the airline had developed! It wasn't that the guy wasn't qualified, it was that his credentials weren't in the master computer correctly, which gave the airplane the power to say, "NO GO!!" and it took them 90 minutes to get the credentials right, then into the world system, then into the plane in Amsterdam so that the engines would start up and we could depart.

If you've never flown in the first class/world class section of an airplane, there's a certain social camaraderie that seems to always be there, especially on long flights, it particularly comes out when there is a delay or other trouble. So the conversation is always lively, and it seems that the FA's (flight attendants) are always more upbeat and even a little snappy in their responses, all which makes for a much more enjoyable environment rather than being in the "squeeze together" cattle car section. So the conversation in the front cabin was lively and spirited, even the pilots came through and there was some banter about who was "really" in control of the plane. Also it was asked of the pilot, if there was some kind of emergency and we really needed to get away from this airport, could you override the airplanes directive, and he sort of winked and said, "the captain is always the one in total control!" Which gave me some confidence that if the computers decided to fly the airplane to some foreign destination where there'd be guys with masks and machine guys, that the captain could explain to the airplane computer that we would be actually flying ON TO MINNESOTA!

In our time on the ground, when all was quiet and the hot salted nuts and champagne were being passed around, I was asked by my seat mate where I was from. Not being shy about where I'm from, I mentioned that I was from Crookston Minnesota and gave an idea of where it sits in the state. I saw that the lead FA's eyes perked up a bit but really didn't give it another thought. Not too much later as she was passing by my seat, she said, "I have an uncle who lives in Crookston, maybe you know him." I responded with the fact that I knew most everyone there so who is he? She said, "Bob Dirks, he used to have the Ben Franklin in town." Well not only did I know him, but we went to the same church and had known each other for years and years and years. So we chatted a bit about the town and his family and that he had been in the family business in Olivia before moving to Crookston and how I knew of their family's furniture store because it was on Highway 71 and I had just driven past it the previous summer on my way to the Jackson County fair.

I'm always amazed at the folks you meet traveling around the world and how often you run into either someone you know, or at least someone you both know! So finally we take off and are heading to Minnesota. Our church in Crookston had just put in stained glass windows, LINK and we had made a Holiday card out of the window that was the Christmas Scene. I had taken about 30 of them along with the grand intention of filling them out in my free time while I was in BERLIN (HA) which then got down to the free time on the flight back to the USA. It hit me like Santa's sleigh running out of reindeer power two feet off my roof...Give a card to Bob's niece, have her send it to him without any mention of me and see if he figures it out! I shared my plan with her and she was game. So at 33,000 feet somewhere over the deepest part of the Atlantic my plan was put into operation. We had a great flight back to MSP, got through customs pretty easily, and were home for supper. I really kind of forgot about what I had done at that time with all the Christmas festivities that seemed to bump against each other. Christmas came and went, and then New Years and the Sunday after as I was walking out of church I felt the presence of someone off my left shoulder following just a little too close and then in my ear I heard, "IT WAS YOU WAN'T IT!" kind of growled like a parent catching their kid with a broken cookie jar. I turned and in my most innocent voice said, "I don't have any idea what you're talking about." He laughed and said he KNEW it was me, and so I told him the story about the Christmas card that went all the way to Germany with me and changed hands somewhere over the Atlantic and ended up at his house. It was a happy moment that I'll always remember.

So we say goodbye to Bob Dirks, or really "so long for now," as I'm sure we'll meet again. Bob was a great American citizen and a contributing Crookston resident and a caring member of our church family. Rest in Peace...

Monday, September 15, 2008

No Witty Title to express our Sadness...

First of all for those readers away from my home town. Last week a terrible accident right downtown claimed the life of a vibrant, well known Crookston woman. At the busiest (according to our Police Chief) intersection in town, an out of state semi-driver was making a sharp 90 degree right hand turn and somehow Ramona Unke, a pedestrian crossing the street was killed.

It has created a lot of comment (some not so nice) in the guestbook for the local newspaper. Some folks are suggesting forbidding large vehicles (even farm vehicles) from being in town, other want a sting operation to challenge drivers who don't give the right-of-way to those on foot. People are exchanging their grief for anger, because being angry allows them to try to lay blame on someone, anyone, then they can justify some logic to what happened. It was the drivers fault, it was the State of Minnesota's fault for not being more direct in the signage for the trucks to use the bypasses, it's the police/sheriff/highway patrol's fault for not being more aggressive in getting vehicles to yield to walking traffic.

If we can lay fault we can transfer blame and we don't hurt so much. Just like ending a relationship, it's easier to be angry at someone then to grieve their loss. So in this I will tell you that I'm actually trying to engage my feelings of grief no matter how difficult that might be. Having lost a close cousin years ago in a car/pedestrian accident, these current events drag up all those feelings again, as sharp and focused as if they just happened. I cling to my religious convictions that Ramona was a confessing Christian woman and has found herself in the Presence of our Lord and Creator. And in trying to find some earthly positive result to this accident I offer this as a physical consideration to help insure that this won't happen again on that corner.

Consider this...Making Ash street from Robert Street Northbound, a one way street for about 3 blocks. Widen the corner at the library so that large and long vehicles can make a safer and easier turn, put in stoplights that shut down ALL the traffic for pedestrian crossings there. Cut the sharp corner a bit, and make the lane so it uses ALL of Ash Street! Then the big traffic would head north past the empty Cathedral church and then when it gets to the current T on 3rd Street, there would be a sweeping curve to the left across the open land where the former high school stood, then a sweeping curve back to the right where the traffic would merge with the 3 lanes of Broadway at 4th Street. No houses would have to be moved, it would eliminate any sharp 90 degree corners for the large and long vehicles, it would make it easier for all the commercial traffic, and the Sunday night "returning from the lakes" holiday traffic, and allow at least part of the downtown to be more like a downtown that's NOT A BUSY STATE HIGHWAY.

As far as costs go, it's not like having to move homes, or businesses, it's mostly open land, and a piece of a street that there isn't any commercial business on now. And it IS a STATE HIGHWAY (translate STATE $$$.) We would actually improve the protection for the walking and biking crowd in front of the library and on Broadway. There would be less noise because everything can happen in smooth fluid movements rather than stops and starts. We could even name it something appropriate to remember Ramona by. Our sympathies to the Unke family and to the Driver and his family.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A legitimate dilemma.

Susan Mills * Debra Kiel * Gary Willhite * Daniel J. Erdman * Frank Fee * Robin Brekken * Reverend Daniel Wolpert have all filed to run for the position of Crookston School Board Member. But only 3 will ultimately take their seats after the election.

First of all they should all be saluted! It seems to be a thankless job, punctuated by stressful areas including declining enrollments (translate declining budget) at the same time that more variety of services, more technology, pretty much more everything is being demanded. I remember as far back as the 1970's when things were pretty much still on the up-swing, how my Aunt Barb would go on about how frustrating it was to both try to make the best decisions for the school district, and to try to satisfy a barrage of parents calling over issue after issue after issue! This was before computers, when distance learning meant you got on a school bus to get to a remote classroom, when teachers were still in some way the respected controllers of their classroom domains. But now literally EVERYTHING has changed. You can even decide to go to a school in a neighboring town, which provides some losses and some gains for our local school each year.

So how do I as a caring concerned voter make a choice between these candidates? Being liberal or conservative really should have no part in it, Male or Female shouldn't be a deciding factor. I'm sure that each and every one of them care a lot about the school district and the kids that go there, and I wouldn't know how to judge one better or worse on that criteria anyway. Most of them, I believe had a lifetime, or almost a lifetime of understanding the nuances of Crookston and all it's uniqueness. I think that all are parents who have had kids in the School District 593. They all have published phone numbers, and I'm guessing email addresses.

I suppose we could subpoena their dental records to make sure that they're brushing regularly, and find out how often they change oil on their vehicles. Perhaps get some soil samples of their yards to see which ones use Miracle Grow and who uses the cheap imitation knock off. Perhaps a spelling and geography bee, after all they're going to be responsible for our young people excelling in those areas. All in all this is a dilemma. I'm hoping there won't be any more yard signs, or Daughters of the American Veterans debates.

Sadly any winners are going to leave a legacy of budget cuts, staff reductions, and a shrinking economy. Maybe the best thing to do would be to increase the size of the school board to include ANYONE who has the courage to run! I wish you all well in your campaigns, you leave us all with a legitimate dilemma!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


You need a license to drive a car, hunt, practice law or medicine. I just don't get what folks think others will think of them when they spout 1/2 truths and downright lies. Again today in the Crookston Times guestbook someone is trying for their 15 minutes (seconds?) of fame. They identify themselves as Lost, which as it appears seems to be pretty accurate! Here's what they had to say...

Not sure what all the praise about the web site is about. First off the owner and operator of the web site doesn't even live in crookston. This person thinks the town is so great but doesn't live in it, doesn't pay taxes in it, doesn't vote on who runs the town? Lets be real here people, this town has its pros and cons, this city should be rated an 8 on a scale 1-100 and 100 being the best. If we did not have high speed Internet we would be in big trouble...

Lost ( )
Tuesday, Sep 09, 2008 (03:09:05 am CDT)

Dear Lost, Sorry but your comments are not true. I do own property in Crookston, I have paid property taxes in Crookston for over 30 years. And I spend a significant amount of my personal income and my business income in Crookston, and I have employed (since 1994) as many as nine people at a time most all of who live in Crookston. (In the 80's I employed as many as 20 people at a time) OH and I've been a life time church member in Crookston, and belonged to different service organizations over the years in Crookston, but you are right about something, I don't get a change to vote for the candidates who I think could best serve Crookston, so it seems like I get all the pain and none of the satisfaction. So what's your point? If you think I should take my business elsewere would that up your rating of Crookston to a 9 or a 10 out of a 100? Perhaps you can fill in my missing tax dollars. For all it's imperfections, I Love my hometown and I think it's worth working to make it better. I'm sorry you don't feel the same.

And just to clarify one more time, I make no claim that things in our town are perfect, but just as we love our imperfect children, I think it's important that we love our town. Instead of spreading false information, why don't we work together to make this an even better day.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Our goals might be the same but you're not understanding our point of view!

To the person on who said: I feel sad about the I love Crookston web page in that those types who claim there's nothing wrong in Crookston seemingly have driven their point home, namely, there's nothing wrong. Funny thing is, as these gray haired types look around, they see their cohorts, going into nursing homes or more time at the doctor's office, or getting fat, etc. Thus the justified longing for the "good old days" such as what the I love Crookston web page is all about, going back to the 1950's and 60's.

Thanks for your post and PLEASE LET ME CLARIFY SOMETHING! I (the site owner) and others have NEVER make the claim that there's NOTHING wrong with out town. We'd be the first to admit that there are many things that need improving, changing, fixing, perking up, and challenging! What I'm unhappy about is the method that folks are using. Nothing more. I acknowledge there are MANY problems, but let's decide that this is a pretty good place to live, and roll up our sleeves and get to work making it an even better place.

NOT WALLOWING in the muck! Find the sunshine. If you're religious, get more involved in your church. If you're not (which by the way, I will support you all the way to hell on!) (PLEASE IT WAS A JOKE!) then find another way to help FIX what you don't like. There's lots of service organizations, there's fraternal groups who do wonderful things! There's just plain local citizens or families that do many things that make an incredible difference. And there's neighborhood groups that get involved. I'm sure ANYONE of them would welcome you, and if not START YOUR OWN.

I stand by my words. This is a great town, it's full of great people and honorable businesses. Let's make it an even better place! But let's do it by working together not flinging poo at each other. What you see on TV isn't real, this is real, this is real life, let's make it better...TOGETHER!

BTW was NOT intented to be a walk down memory lane, it's just that so many folks sent in PAST memories, that we made a separate section of those happy times. If you notice, the top section is the RIGHT NOW, CURRENT feeling that folks have about our town. And as an aside, most of the folks who sent in something on the current section are NOT Grey of hair, and won't be for a long time! Why not identify yourself? Or at least tell us where you are from, where you are living now and what your connection to Crookston is? Let's make the town stronger, not break it apart.

My Name is John Reitmeier and I love my hometown and I'm not afraid to say it to anyone!

Lions and Tigers and Bears OH MY!!

So whoever has has created a site where folks can go and post nasty remarks and then smugly sit back and wait for the responses. Well how wonderful! Again they're HIDING behind the shield that they perceive to be "the Internet" but don't realize how fragile and full of holes that shield is. So let's take a look at someone who calls themselves, "I'm Not John Reitmeier" claims.

So Here it pieces with my answers.

by I'm Not John Reitmeier on Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:36 am

John Reitmeier, author of and creator of I Love Crookston and I Hate Crookston, and also the sole individual who permits or censors comments on all three sites, seems to be very opinionated.

Yes I am opinionated! Thank you for noticing. It's training I got all the way back to Washington School in Crookston, and then continued right up to today! I think it's great that folks have strong opinions about everything and it's a shame that more people don't voice their opinions. I don't think you'll find anything in my blog or any other things I've written or said to the contrary. If you do find something I assure you it was written in haste, something that I and most everyone else seem to experience now and then. The fact that you somehow think that I "permits or censors" comments on my websites is correct. Get your own website and you can do the same! You seem to think that someone who OWNS something shouldn't be able to control it. Can I paint my feeling on the side of your house? Probably not, yet you think you should be able to do the digital equivalent on my web/house.

Skip over to yet another web page he’s created, and you’ll find Mr. Reitmeier proudly characterized as a “Storyteller” and as “the REAL DEAL!” a “attraction in himself!” In reading through John’s personal blog, at it doesn’t take long before you realize that he prides himself on hunting down, a.k.a. investigating everyone who posts on the Crookston Daily Times Guestbook.

WOW it's pretty obvious you didn't read it very carefully. You'll see that those are quotes from some pretty significant sources. To give you a little background, I've been in the media, mostly as a radio announcer, interviewer, and commentator, (even a news director at a Las Vegas station) for over 3 decades. In Grand Forks I'm still working at the VERY same station that I first was employed at (KNOX 1310 8:35 each weekday morning) AND working with the VERY FIRST morning man (Jim Bollman) that I every worked with. It seems that there are some who at least put up with my opinions and comments. As opposed to you who thinks you're hiding. I make my living, get free travel, hotels, guides, food, and other luxuries AROUND the world, I get invited on media trips to places like Israel and Palestine and Turkey, big game hunts, international fishing trips, and opening season bird hunts by brushing shoulders with people who value my reporting skills, and pretty much think I'm a nice guy and someone of value to promote their cause. Now you're dissing me because I use my best marketing skills to cultivate those relationships?

His methods include contacting sites such as to see if he can track the email directly to the owner, and if that doesn’t work, he gets on the phone and starts calling seeking further information on the person posting the Crookston Daily Times Guestbook. Astute or creepy? Apparently one either behaves themself on the CDT Guestbook or watch out! John may get, or shall we say, out you!

MY METHODS? MY METHODS? WOW that's beyond laughable. I was trying to show the typical internet user who might not be exposed to how full of holes the internet is, just how easy it is to do some research. As far as contacting networksolutions, I talk to them EVERY DAY about business as we have over 200 client websites hosted with them, and several ecommerce sites, but I didn't contact them about this, ALL I did was go to and click on the WHOIS button and put in a domain name and clicked SUBMIT. It's really easy, you should try it yourself. You can find out a LOT about a web site, OR an email address. By the way, the person who claimed to be Jan Chrom and their email are booth SPOOFED.

It's free and open to ANYONE. So I would hardly call that subversive. As to the particular entry in the Crookston Times Guestbook that I was making the example about, you'll see that the person said some nice things about me and I was looking for them to thank them. See that's what we do in a civil society. You should try it sometime it gives you a good feeling in that place in your chest where your heart lies! AS for "behaving yourself on the CDTGB," I can't imagine why you think I'm somehow policing the place. I'm sure the editorial staff at the Times would heartily disagree with you! There have been thousands of posts there and I've only responded to the ones that either make reference to me, my websites or are (in my opinion) unfairly attaching the good name of our town. I think that's an open option for me to do, if not, please show me where the Times is asking us not to do that.

You might even expect a phone call from him, if he can find you.
What might you think is really going on here? Think about it. What is it John Reitmeier is really trying to achieve? I would say his goal is to, single handily, shut down the CDT Guestbook. How so? Well if you use your real email address and real name, John will be in contact with you (no kidding). And if you don’t, and you post anonymously, both the editor of the Times and Reitmeier, Lori Wagner (her opinion counts too) and their supportive group, have all said you’re a coward.

SEE now you're doing the old political thing, trying to drag more people into the issue than is either relevant or accurate. Now you've even included Mike (Times Editor) in the mix. By the way were you missing the day in grammar school when we learned that 4 items don't count as "both?" I can only speak for me, and I stand on what I have said. Hiding behind the internet and shouting out things as are said there is bordering on immoral. As to what the others have said, you'll have to take that up with them. I don't think, have never though, nor have I ever suggested that the Guestbook should be taken down. Your paranoia runs deep grasshopper!

However just read through the of and do you come away feeling John Reitmeier is a nurturer, a uplifting positive in his soul type, or does he seem denigrating, or as if he belittles others? You decide.

WOW thanks for the compliment! If you can't see the humor in what I post, and if you can't see the fun in the wordology that I use, then go for the criticism if it makes you happy! Cause that's my goal, I want to live in a happy world. If I have to get my shoes a little dirty to head towards that goal then I think it's worth it. Why do you just want to muck about all the time. There really is sunshine and warmth all around, open your heart and your mind to it!

Oh, and ask yourself why so many posted on CDT guestbook that should be avoided. Why? So there be no forum where uncensored comments might be posted in Crookston or that centrists views not be heard.

Gee, now you'r claiming that you're a centrist? With words like you use? Why don't you identify yourself so we can have a legitimate back and forth discussion about the pros and cons of living here? That is your beef right? That you don't think this is a very good place to live and you're upset when others disagree with you? But if we had an actual meeting, a live in the flesh forum, would you come? Would you speak your mind? Or do you want to keep hiding in the shadows and slinging mud when good hearted, well meaning people try to uplift and make this an even better place? My name is John Reitmeier and I'm proud of the city that I live in and I'm not going to be silent about it anymore!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Well it seems we've been found out ;-)

Today on the Crookston Times guestbook the following insert appeared.
I love Crookston @ is so sugary sweet with sprinkles on top. One can’t but help lick their lips each time they glance over at as they think about the good old days. While you're out surfing the web make sure you drop in on and set a spell. is the personal web blog for Crookston duplex owner John Reitmeier, author of and goes more into depth over how this wonderful, fun idea came about. Please make sure to leave a few comments as well.

Jan Chrom
Friday, Sep 05, 2008 (12:09:52 pm CDT)
Interesting, first of all I don't know Janice Chromes, but thanks! That was exactly the response I wanted to get and thought I would when I asked MANY people to contribute, rather than some slick marketing guy or some intern that was assigned the task. Many of the comments brought back memories that even I had forgotten!

I've been blogging for some years and in tracking who visits my site, fine it interesting that it's been such a secret up to now. So let's have some internet fun and see if what we can find about Janice on the internet. First we got to and do a whois on her domain name that is attached to her email and we find this data:
Somonauk IL
United States 60531
and a contact person of Greg@
So why would a person from west of Chicago be posting on the Times guestbook. So we'll send her an email and see what comes back.

So this is what comes back when we send the email:
Your message has encountered delivery problems
to the following recipient(s):
Delivery failed
550 not accepted
No recipients were successfully delivered to.

So it appears that that too was a spoofed email address. OH WELL thanks janice.
Now an email back from the owners of is no JaniceChromes there!

By the way, as it says in the Crookston Times article on the bottom of I had submitted a LONG dissertation to the Times. I know how busy editors of small papers are, so taking something from the "how to be president" political playbook, I sit down and try to calculate possible questions, and then prepare answers, usually I send this ahead so that with a few minutes review, it makes for a short interview, and a happy interviewer, but a LARGE transfer of data between us. So I though I'd share that with you here. So this is the "prepare to be interviewed about" preparation.
Why LOVE Crookston why not middle ground?
Well, you love your kids even when they're "not so good" We all need to love our town and work to fix anything that needs fixing. The main reasons I did it include:
Trying to show that there's a WHOLE bunch of folks who really love this town, many of who stay silent, but would "speak up" if encouraged. It's easy to get some marketing folks together in a room and have a forced, "why I love Crookston" session, but I wanted to see what the regular folks, the average-go to work, have a little fun, pay their taxes, raise their kids and live here by choice people think about our town. I was, and am still hoping it's a place that employers, the city and county governments, the College and all the schools, the churches, anyone, can use to send perspective and future residents to, to get a feel of the town and what our residents think of the place. I'm so frustrated by what a few folks who won't even identify themselves, keep saying about where I live. This is a good town! There are good people living here. There are as good or better opportunities here than in similar places in this region, and I'm tired of a few negative attitude people always raining on the parade!

Why did you get
"The Art of War" is a Chinese military treatise that was written during the 6th century BC by Sun Tzu. It still stands today as the foundation of how to win war, or run your business, or manage strategy. Anyone who's following major league sports, EVEN the Olympics, would understand, and if you take ANY lessons about how to optimize your presence on the web, it's that the best defense is a strong offense. The IHATE page is fixed, it's NOT going to expand, and there's not going to be anyone's comments on it, except mine. That's all I was doing, I felt that if caught on at all, that some YAEHOO out there would get the IHate equivilent and start whining again. So I got it, to block that from happening. Ironically now there are a few people who are somehow trying to make that into something. HEY there's any number of variations of web names out there and available. If you feel strongly enough that you're right about your observations, go get a web page, host it somewhere and have at it! But why someone would try to drag down an effort to show our community in a good light to the world is completely beyond me. I'm happy to debate anyone, anytime, anyplace about the benefits of our town. But show yourselves, don't hid behind fake email names, or anonymous postings, or pretending you're someone else!

Who's funding the project?
I am, alone and totally! It was my idea, I own the domain names, soon there will other ways for folks to show how they LOVE CROOKSTON and I paid for all of that. I sort of feel like the Verizon cell phone commercial I have great confidence that there's literally THOUSANDS of people (my network) standing behind me and supporting me! Sunday people were stopping me in the Grocery store and it was ALL encouraging!!! PS: All donations gratefully accepted!

What's your connection to the Crookston Chamber of Commerce?
I (or my companies) have been a member off and on since 1976. I have not been a member since about 1997. My business efforts are mostly far away from here, we even do some international things, but I think I'll join up again just cause it's the right thing to do and I want to support Lorie and put a stop to the negativity! Let's find positive ways to attach the problems. In my opinion it should be called the Greater Crookston Chamber of Commerce or the Crookston Area Chamber of Commerce because things don't just end at the city limits sign. Someone on the guestbook was complaining that Lori Wagner (Chamber President/CEO) doesn't live in town and doesn't pay taxes in town. WOW talk about UNINFORMED. Do you not realize how much money (a significant part of which is taxes) a farmer spends in town? Do you not realize how many people are employed because of the farmers who spend millions, tens of millions of dollars in Crookston? Do you know what percent of school taxes comes from OUTSIDE the city limits??? And guess what, all those people own houses that are taxed, and drive cars and pickup trucks that fill at the Crookston stations, and buy groceries and sundries and hardware and insurance (don't even get me started on insurance costs for farms and businesses). Where do you think that money comes from? EVERY PERSON who has a job, every member of a family with a bread winner, every person who eats, sleeps, or consumes any products is a valuable citizen of our community. Even the folks who are totally retired or on some form of government assistance are EQUALLY VALUABLE. Sorry, got off this question, but it's SO IMPORTANT for everyone to realize that we're in this together. We sink or swim, we live or die by every little effort, every little attitude coming together and contributing to the whole. Yesterday (Aug. 30, 08) the citizens, tens of thousands of them, marched in Mexico City because there's been upwards of 1,200 kidnappings this year alone. Hundreds of people are being murdered annually There's wars going on, earthquakes, and now another hurricane coming at the USA. I LOVE CROOKSTON more and more as each year goes by!

What's are you predicting for the future of ?

Sunny and continued warm! It's there for anyone to link to, to make reference to, to remember, to get a little boost when things don't look so good. As long as people keep sending me things to add, I'll put them up there. Someone has suggested collecting all the recipes that are remembered from different cooks/chefs in the past, and I'd be glad to do that if folks are willing to share them. We can make a pictures section. Perhaps teachers would like to make it a project for their students. It would be interesting to see what 3rd graders would say, vs. 6th graders or 9th graders.

So you're living in a dream world that there's nothing wrong with our town?
You know, I've lived in Winnipeg for 4 years of my life, and Southern California for almost a decade, and Las Vegas for some years, and in Franklin Tennessee for 4 years. I travel a lot, as much as 4 times a year to Europe for as much as a month at a time. I've now been back here for 14 years 5 months and some days. I plan to make this my residence for the rest of my life. My Mother, Grand Parents, even Great Grand Parents are buried here, along with cousins, and uncles and aunts, and some friends. My space at Oakdale is paid for and I plan to use it, but hopefully not for 25 or 30 more years. What's our town going to be like in that time? That's an entire generation, only today's youngest teachers will still be teaching at that time, any kid born today could be through college, have served in the military and started a family by then. What kind of a town are we going to leave them? We need to do some dreaming, some visioning. Our town is only going to be great then, with lots of planning now! In Japan they have 100 year business plans. Can they predict the economy/world situation that far in advance? Of course not, but they have lots of plans based on this happening, or that happening and they try to stick to their plan, which will take them to their goals. When I started working for Yamaha Japan in 1972 and was schooled in that philosophy I thought, what a waste of time but now (in what feels like a blink of an eyelid to me) we're more than 1/3 of the way through what was their 100 year plan back then. Look at how Japan is TROUNCING us in Vehicle you think that happened by accident??? Let's dream big, reach for the stars, add some realistic expectations and GO FOR THE GOLD. WOW wouldn't it be terrible if we only came up with the Silver or the Bronze! (He says, tongue in cheek!)

Why do you think that people are so vocal in a negative way about some things in out town, particularly on the Crookston Times Guestbook?
That is the $64,000.00 question! We claim to have a democracy here, but we really don't. We have a representative for of government and I'm really glad we do. Hopefully we elect people to offices from super local all the way up to President. Well informed, honorable people who really want to do the best for their world, even if some of their choices are unpopular and perhaps even fly in the face of what we see as reason. If we got up every morning and the USA as a whole HAD TO VOTE before breakfast, do you think that would be a good thing? Do you think that more that 50% of the people will vote for higher taxes (even when it's necessary)? People will probably always vote their pocketbooks, right or wrong, if they perceive it's going to give them more cash in the pants, that's the way they'll vote. But sometimes that's not always the best choice for the future, or even the short term goodness. Just like the new arena coming to Crookston. We literally have an Englestad type gift. 10 MILLION Dollars (plus or minus) and to make a pretty top notch place we need 2 million more (give or take). This is a challenge we should rise to with enthusiasm! What if we had had NO chance of getting a 10 million dollar gift? If we were starting from scratch? Can you imagine the mountain we'd have to climb? Yet we need LESS THAN 20% of the total amount. That's 235.00 per person. I understand that with the cost of filling a gas tank, or 3 kids stomachs, that that ain't chopped liver, but this is a once in a generation cost, for our town to have a great facility both for our kids, and for visitors and the schools and the college. And what if some "sponsors" rise to the challenge for a million or a million and a half? Will you try to help raise the residual?? That could come out to $50.00 per person, or $30 per person, or is that STILL TOO MUCH? I think there's a pretty good committee in place, let's help them find ways to make this work. We really did get an ANGEL'S GIFT. I'm sad that the original building has to come down, I hope they have looked at every possible way to keep it, but flood protection AND the benefits of a new facility really should top that want! BTW as an aside, the plans I've seen with a parking lot LOWER than the entrance, making everyone walk up steps, AND since it's on the south side of the building, it will blow in with snow ALL THE TIME....HEY design guys, please rethink that!!!

If there's any bad side to the internet, it's the fact that it allows people who have no real expertise in a field to comment on things, AND remain anonymous. If people had to put their name to their comments, we'd probably have a lot better discussion of both the needs and problems that a community faces. But to take potshots at our elected officials and those who work in government and in service jobs, and then do it from a hiding place, is bordering on immoral. I can't imagine the sick satisfaction that someone gets making those kind of comments, without having the fortitude to identify themselves, OR AT LEAST to identify themselves to the newspaper (who by the way has a long history of protecting sources) so that the editor/publisher of the media can vouch for the fact that the person writing the words is someone of reasonable character and good intentions. It's like telling your best friend, "you dress like a slob," or saying, "Hey, you looked really great when you wore that outfit, why not make that 'your look!" In my humble opinion, too many people are hollering SLOB...SLOB, let's find positive encouragements to finding solutions!

If you could wave your magic wand, what changes would you make to Crookston?

Adding Lots of downtown housing, a downtown eatery OR TWO, an activity/community center, more gov. transparency ie. EVERYTHING on the web. More things for the UMC students to do so that there is less of a wall between the city and the college. Look at the memories section of, look at what people are writing about now, from back then. How many of those things are we doing today so that they will be memories in 30 or 40 or 50 years.

Knowing everything that's happened would you do it all over again?

IN A HEARTBEAT! The only thing I would have wished was different was that it wasn't made public, until we rolled it out in the Crookston Times. Based on my 30 years in the media, I kinda felt that it might be something the Times would be interested in, but Lori at the Chamber was so enthusiastic about it, that it sort of slipped out a few days sooner than I had planned. OH well, we roll with the punches.

Why do you think some people reacted so aggressively and so negatively?

They are TOTALLY UNINFORMED! They started making accusations that weren't founded in any facts and that kind of caught like a grass fire on the prairie. It's Ironic, a simple internet search or email request and they could have gotten the CORRECT information, but I guess some folks get some kind of weird kick out of going off 1/2 cocked.

Why don't you have your name on the site, why are you HIDING?
I find that so laughable. Any simple search of the domain registry websites would show that I'm the owner, they give my name, address, email address even my phone number. Yet NO ONE to date, and I emphasize NO ONE has sent an email to the address on the site, asking who I am, or who's behind this, or who I'm connected to, or being critical in any way!! I'd be happy to let you look at the entire inbox!! It's a google email address so EVERYTHING is kept both in and out!!!

Why do you want to know who's writing the comments before you'll put them on the website (that popular political word "vetted")?

I don't know where people got that idea, it says QUITE CLEARLY, If you want me to put YOUR NAME with your comments, THEN I am going to have a back and forth with you to satisfy me that you are really who you say you are. I think that's just common courtesy since there are a whole lot of folks who have figured out that it's easy to pretend do be someone you're not on the internet. And I reserve the right to edit what people say, both to correct grammar and to make comments more logical. If you don't want that, then there's a simple fix. DON'T CONTRIBUTE.
So that's a LOT of my opinions in a short text. I think I'll take some time and expand on different pieces of it as time goes on.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

WOW the (Crookston) Natives are Restless Tonight

I can't imagine why some folks think it's some kind of secret about who attained the domain name ! A simple web search would give you all you needed to know about the web pages owner(which happens to be me). Although who owns it can be blocked, we (the ubiquitous "WE" meaning usually "I") didn't feel there was any reason to hide in our attempt to give a little ammunition to the fact that there's LOTS of good things about living in Crookston Minnesota! Lately there's a "WHOLE LOT O' NEGATIVE" being bantered about. I hear it in stores, I hear it in bars and eateries, and particularly I read it in the different GUESTBOOKS and FORUMS and such, where people seem to have a lot to WHINE about, but never come up with any positive solutions to their complaints, AND they don't seem like they want to come up with any solutions, they'd rather just whine and complain and feel bad about themselves. Well they have every right to do that if they so choose, but I find in incredulous that they would then try to tear down people who choose to try to see the good in the community we live in, who acknowledge that there may be problems, problems which need tackling and might take a lot of time to solve. BUT IN THE BIG PICTURE, I think Crookston is a pretty good place to live. I'm confident that the businesses that I interact with are honorable in their dealing with me as a customer or a consumer, and I'm pretty certain that the businesses that I don't deal with (because I like a different kind of car, or only need to get prescriptions from one pharmacy) also operate in an honorable fashion. I'd sure rather have a flat tire around crookston than in just about any where else I can think of, because I feel I can trust whoever stops to help me.

So in frustration one day, I went and purchased in an attempt to solicit comments from a broad base of people about what they find GOOD about our town and the people who live there. Not some slick ad agency copy (much of which I've had a part in creating over the years) or even worse, some intern who was assigned to write about the wonders of our hamlet, but comments from old people and young people, workers and retired people, students and the not so studious. High paid folks and minimum wage folks. I felt that by getting positive comments from a plethera of sources we could demonstrate that, "HEY this ain't such a bad place after all!" and "WOW they're right, I never thought of that!"

But right away the naysayers start chiming in. Folks who don't even have the courage to sign their name, or if they think that is to much exposure for them, could go and get a valid, but anonymous name at google or yahoo, but no, they hide behind fake or spoofed email accounts, or even worse sign someone ELSE'S name to their comments. Which is why you'll come to understand why I wouldn't add any one's comments, WITH THEIR NAME, to the website without making DANG sure that they were really the person making those comments AND wanted their name added. So let's take apart some of the comments that have been made...

This (in italics) is one of the response is below.

I too have some happy thoughts about Crookston and certainly this sounds like a great plan. Yet I must caution against the perceived image of outright paranoia Lori and that of your husband, as in "We". To state that you will put me, or others with positive, upbeat thoughts about Crookston, through a thorough and detailed vetting process such as the requirement of two or three contacts prior to verifying whether I'm real or not, sounds more like China then our great USA. A student of history might think you're more grounded in McCarthyism defined as distasteful practices: aggressively questioning a person's patriotism, using accusations of disloyalty to pressure a person to adhere to conformist politics. I think you should allow open comments section on your web page or if not, be prepared to be seen as narrow or close minded. Just a positive suggestion as to how you might better represent our fine city.

Janice Skyles
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2008 (09:08:01 am CDT)

First of all this person is presuming that the website has something to do with the Crookston Chamber of Commerce or Lori Wagner it's President. WRONG ON BOTH COUNTS!

Although I have known the Wagner family all my life, and you could probably piece together some shirttail family relationship...I think my cousins Mother is Mr. Wagner's father's brother...Other than being neighbor farmers, I really have nothing to do with their family. We are of different political persuasions, and although we probably have some friends in common, I couldn't tell you who they were unless we sat down and compared black books.

I have known Lori for decades, since she was an employee at a drug store next to my music store in Crookston, in the 70's, and so we bump into each other now and then and compare notes about our lives and our parenting skills and our love of good food and travel. That's exactly what happened last week when I shared with her the link to the website. She was excited about it and asked if she could send it around to some of her inner circle to get some more comments, I said yes, and here we are today with some VERY UNINFORMED people making UNBELIEVABLE accusations that are TOTALLY WRONG!

NEXT this person seems to think that I have to VETT (her words) every comment that is put up there. HMMM where did you get that idea? ALL I said if you want your name added to the comments you're going to hear from me, maybe 2 or 3 times so that FOR SURE I'm not putting any ones name with something they either didn't say, or didn't want their name attached to. Can I make it any simpler? is my website, I bought the rights to the name, and I'm paying to host it. If you want to add your comments send them to the email listed. If they're positive they'll get posted with little editing. If you have something unkind to say, send it to the guestbook at the Crookston Times, but beware, rumor has it that they're very close to shutting it down because of people like you!

Go purchase your own domain and make your own website if you feel so strongly about something, any variations of feelings are available, or would you just rather whine?

I have stood at a 4 inch curb near Kassel Germany (1982) where if I had taken one step forward would have been shot by Communist East German Soldiers, I've been handed off to Palistinian folks (2001) who had been trained all their life that killing me was the most honorable thing they could do, and only recently had changed their minds and were seeking peace, I've stayed at a Kibutz where I tried to sleep amidst whistling inbound shells, the guards said, "OH don't worry, that's over 3 kilometers away!" I've slept in the King David Hotel in Downtown Jerusalem and heard machine gun fire throughout the night. And none of those things come close to what our Soldiers and Reservists have gone through to protect your right to WHINE. Come on over, join the happy side, it's really quite a nice feeling when you get used to it.


With all respect Ms. Wagner, it's your PAID JOB to tout Crookston in the most POSTIVE WAY possible. And yes, I agree that citizens in formats such as this should, rightfully, identify themselves. However in my own defense, when ones colleagues may feel that comment here, might not best represent them or our organization in the best light I either keep quiet or, ...remain anonymous. To safeguard my colleagues I'll remain anonymous with what I'd like to point out. There's something strangely bizarre as to why someone, anyone and especially someone in a paid -city booster- position ( and pulls down quite a good salary I might add), would dare create or even think about creating, a I HATE CROOKSTON web page. What are you thinking? To be cute? What's worse is to think Chamber of Commerce funds are involved in such a hurtful idea. It may have seemed like a funny idea but at whose expense. Where's Wayne Melby on this one? Where are the involved business owners behind this poor idea. Do they support Lori Wagner's actions? Who, exactly, is behind this?

Accountable 2 Who?
Monday, Aug 25, 2008 (07:08:16 pm CDT)

First of all it's a SPOOFED or FAKE EMAIL ADDRESS so this person is double blind hiding, if they had identified themselves OR even had gotten a valid anonymous email address so that they could be responded to, at leas it would show they had some kind of backbone, but no they hide and shoot their barbs, so let's examine what was said.
The reason I got was to BLOCK anyone seeing and trying to develop it into a whining downer site. If you knew anything about marketing on the web, or about football or about war you would understand that an aggressive offense is the best way to protect your defense. I'm sorry that Lori mentioned it but she was reacting to a very bad experience of some new people who had moved to town and everywhere they went they were asked, "WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO MOVE HERE?" (I'm paraphrasing the question). WHY do you think Chamber funds were involved? Have you ever thought of checking something out before you make such an accusation? We (I) attained the IHATE site NOT as a JOKE or anything funny, but as a way to make sure that there wasn't another negative website about Crookston on the web. Did you even go to and read what's posted there???? By the way you did say one thing that we both agree with, I would WELCOME Wayne Melby's comments on the website! Matter of fact, I'll be happy to post them here in DOUBLE SIZE TYPE anytime and as long as we know that the comments are HIS! Darn, now we're back to that vetting thing again!

AND NOW, let me share with you the reasons behind
As it says on the web page, I'M TIRED OF WHINERS. My idea was to give folks like the Chamber, and the EDA (Economic Development Association) And the College and the Schools and the Churches a page that they could send folks to, to share all the good things about our community! How IRONIC that those very same whiners and now taking pot shots at what was intended to be an uplifting page. But I still choose to see the glass 1/2 full and NOT 1/2 empty and so will continue to share with the world the comments of those who choose to contribute their feeling about what's good about our town, current feelings and memories. And in the almost immortal words of Walter Cronkite (paraphrased of course) AND THAT'S THE WAY IT IS!

AND PS: the comment and pulls down quite a good salary I might add is really laughable! I got a lot of truck driver and laborer friends that make a quite a bit more and they don't have to take uninformed guff. I salute the council persons, the elected officials and boards, and the countlesss volunteers! You are indeed local heroes!

Monday, August 25, 2008


As you know if you're a regular reader of my blog, I've made my living since 1972 in some kind of marketing area. For those of you who thing marketing and sales are interchangeable works, let me point out a few of the differences. Marketing is sort of the "umbrella" that hangs over sales. It's the marketing area that decides on products, or creates campaigns for advertising, or packaging or products, or image for a company...all these things come under marketing. Sales on the other hand takes it's Q's from marketing. Sales takes the products, and tries to get them into stores, or catalogs, or direct to consumers. The work on numbers and goals. For some reason being a "salesman" gives people a bad feeling, so most Salespersons will tell you they're in Marketing...but they're really not! Their job is to sell 60 cell phone packages per month, or 15 new and 10 used cars, or 12 life insurance contracts. Also this would be a good time to explain what a "CSR" or customer service representative is.

So many times I've put out an ad to hire a SALESMAN, and mostly I get people applying who think they are salesmen, but are really just CSR's. They know how to smile and act pleasant and answer questions and make suggestions to the customer to buy a little larger product, or a little more of something, but the person was ALREADY sold on buying a certain product and from a certain place, they only moved the sale along a little bit and fulfilled the customers direct need. A real and true salesman finds someone who at the beginning of the process either didn't realize they had a need for that particular product, or if they had an inkling of a need, sure didn't know they were going to purchase that product at this particular moment from this particular company and from this particular guy! That's what a salesman can do that a customer service representative CANNOT!

But let's get back to marketing. If you're really and truly into marketing, you're able to be a dreamer first and foremost, BUT the big difference is that you can take your dreams, and those borrowed from others and make them into actual, fullfillable plans, products, packaging, delivery, commercial ads, sales sheets, the works. All this came up as I was in a marketing meeting this morning and I remembered back to the 70's and a sporting goods store in Grand Forks North Dakota. I was actually a DJ, a country music record spinner at KRAD radio in East Grand Forks, and the ad salesman came to me and wanted a favor. He had a sporting goods store in Grand Forks that really was down to just the owner doing everything. You could shoot a bowling ball down the aisles most anytime during the day and it would not hit a single person. He pretty much lived on the start of each season, hockey being the big one, when folks had to bring in their sporters and get outfitted for the new year. The rest of the time, things were pretty slow. Could I come up with a commercial that would do 2 things. 1.Get some more people in the store, and get some business happening in the "off seasons" which were a lot longer than the the busy times. 2.Convince the store owner that he should continue with radio spots from our station. So I really worked on it, and came with a commercial that I thought was really RIGHT ON in calling people to action. It had sound effects, I wrestled with word for days and finally got it just right. So the ad started to run in a busy rotation (meaning many times a day) on a Tuesday. I remember it so well 'cause when I got to my regular shift at 10am I played it right away and then again before noon and then again in the noon news hour. At about two o'clock that afternoon the owner called practically screaming at the front desk receptionist. "TAKE THAT D$%# COMMERCIAL OFF THE AIR!" "I've had people in here all day telling me how much they hate that commercial!"

HMMM. Well as you can see, the marketing department did it's job. It got actual human beings into a dead store. I'm thinking that this wasn't that big a deal that someone got in their car, drove across town, parked on the street, walked to his store and just said, "I HATE the commercial playing on the country station!" and then walked out. The sales force DIDN'T do their job! They didn't prepare him for that fact that the goal was to get folks into the store, it was then his job to sell them. Even to commiserate with them on what a bad commercial it was as he was SMILING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK. BUT NO! He'd rather be alone and wondering how he was going to pay the rent, than to have customers complaining WHILE they were buying something. Marketing, I'll never actually figure it out! OH by the way, that store is long out of business, but I'm LIVIN' LARGE. GO figure.

Friday, August 15, 2008

You got to be kidding me

There's a swap shop program that runs on the local radio station. I've been listening to the show since I was a kid in the 50's. Yes, I'm that old! In the last few years they also add the items to their web page. Someone please tell the editor that a female dog that has been sterilized has been SPAYED not spaid or spade!

Since I've been in the technology business since 1982, I get some great chuckles on what people think their old piece of junk computer is actually worth. Today this ad was placed.

Dell Dimension 4100 computer, Windows XP Pro, +, Gateway screen VX720, Dell QuietKey keyboard, Altec Lansing speakers, Canon Multipass F50 Printer/Fax/Scan - $250 OBO.

You can go to a big box retailer and buy a BRAND new computer with a 1 year total warranty for the same price. WHY oh WHY would anyone consider paying a stranger that much money for a piece of junk that's several years old, was taken out of service for some unknown reason, probably doesn't have the original and actual licensed software disks (to reload it in case the hard drive goes out...which it will SOON!)

Friends, this stuff is being manufactured faster than Orville makes popcorn. It's not made to last, it's not made to be dependable, and it's CERTAINLY NOT made to withstand the regular lightning strikes that we get here in the Red River Valley! BUY NEW, if it breaks THROW IT and BUY NEW AGAIN, but for sure don't give any money to dumpster divers or garage sale enthusiasts who are trying to make a buck. I can't count the times that folks have purchased such an item, then 2 weeks later it fails them and they call our repair shop and we explain that their "NON DEAL" purchase is going to cost them about $200.oo more just to get working with NO GUARANTEE that it will continue working. READ MY LIPS...BUY NEW! If it breaks after the warranty, BUY NEW AGAIN!! You'll be a LOT happier.

As a side note, I found this incredibly funny! Parachute. used once, never opened. small stain. Isn't the phrase used one and never opened contradictory? And if it is the case, I don't even want to contemplate what the small stain might be! OH well, I guess if you'd trust your life to something you purchase USED for $47.00 what's a stain or two!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friends going to Scotland .

I have a some very good friends who are an awesome couple! Why can't I find a spouse like that?...has been my lament about them for many years. They have been gifted a trip to Scotland by their two sons. is that AWESOME or what! So knowing about my travels over they years, they wanted to know my thoughts/feelings/suggestions about their upcoming journey. So I sat down and created a short manifesto of things to watch for and plan for and be carefull of. When I shared it with another friend they insisted I add it to the here it is, uncensored and raw! My rambling thoughts on preparing for a first time ever European trip.

MUST DO! Make copies of your passports, and drivers licenses, and ANY credit cards that you will be carrying. Leave a copy with me and/or with the boys. In EVERY SUITCASE and EVERY CARRYON and in each others secret compartment where you will keep your passport. Have a copy of the other's passport and DL (not credit cards) DO carry with you the phone numbers to any credit cards in case you lose them and need to let them know right away. DO use your credit card to get cash from ATM's in foreign countries (it's the cheapest rate) OR the monex (money exchange in Amsterdam is usually a good place) Hotels/banks/stores are NOT a good place to try to use dollars or Euro to pay for something in Pounds, they will rape you. If something bad should happen in the world get a hold of the US consulate
Principal Officer Lisa Vickers U.S. Consulate General Edinburgh, Scotland
3 Regent Terrace Edinburgh EH7 5BW
phone: [44] (0)131 556 8315 fax: [44] (0)131 557 6023

They can tell you if it's safe to fly, etc. If something even worse should happen, get there, get out your passport and tell them "I'm an AMERICAN." They will let you in and help you. Remember it's ONLY in America that you innocent till proven guilty. Over there it's the opposite, you're assumed to be guilty and you got to get yourself out of a jam. Just present your passport, say you're an American and that you want to talk to someone from the Consulate. NO MATTER how they try to console you or tell you that they have a few questions first, just go silent except to ask to talk to someone from the Embasy!

When you return to the USA you have to itemize ALL the things that you are bringing back. It's a mess to try to figure it out in the last 1/2 hour before you land. Better to keep 2 envelopes with you. In one put all the receipts (with notation) of the things you'll be bringing back. In the other put all the receipts of things you are buying and consuming whilst "in country." Also have with you all medical cards. If you have Blue Cross/Blue shield kind of coverage, they have a web page you an go to and download a list of providers that will take your card, just like you walked into the emergency room in Crookston. It's awesome. If you have another kind of coverage, get a hold of them and find out how to handle an emergency along the path that you'll be going. BTW in the AMS airport (upstairs) there is a full on medical clinic. They have a full on pharmacy and can prescribe must anything (except aspirin...blood thinner...which is what I of course want to prevent clots...go figure) the Dr. visit is free but any drugs/services are expensive, but a great thing to know if you need it! If you don't have any insurance that works in Europe, purchase some on the internet...with a high deductable, it's relatively cheap assurance that you won't be stuck owning some foreign hospital a LOT of money, or getting refused services.

Also know that (in my humble opinion) KLM is not near as friendly as NWA in some instances. One of those is that sometimes you will run into a person who doesn't like Americans (yes a KLM employee...I hit one in Berlin last Christmas) She wouldn't let me take my perfectly legal size/weight carry on on the flight citing that it was going to be a full flight and that I had to check it through to GFK. (ironically when I got on the plane the entire bin above me was empty) My NEW computer was inside and an awesome camera. But I backed down and next time I won't. They have what they call a Gate Check. This is where you give up the bag as you get on the plane and then it's waiting for you at the bottom of the steps (or in the jetway) as you get off the plane. I demanded to do that and she refused. So I took the computer out of the bag and hand carried it all the way home, BUT forgot my heart drugs in the bag, which is how I know all about the clinic in AMS. The pisser was that after me, (I counted) 14 Germans got on with multiple carryons and oversized bags and she let them right through. I now carry the KLM and NWA baggage allowance rules with me and WON'T let that happen again!!!!

When going TO Scotland it's pretty simple. Your bags will be checked through from GFK all the will never see them again (while traveling...not "never") In MSP I recommend that you get to the gate and try to be in the QUE as soon as they call the flight. I stand right in what us Air Warriors knows as "the ZONE!" And after they call for 1st class passengers, and premier club members, and handicapped, and families and those in exit rows, then I'm the next one on the plane. Why hurry to get on a plane that's not going anywhere for 30 or 40 more minutes you ask? Because folks are taking WAY to much carryon stuff on the plane and they just start packing it ANYWHERE they can. TOO often I got to my seat with my LEGAL sized carryon and there was NO place to store it except under the seat in front of me. THEN I have no where to put my feet for the entire flight! GRRRR SO I STAKE MY TERRITORY EARLY.

On the flight from MSP to AMS You're departing in the 7pm hour I think. This is not as good as the 9:15 flight but WAY better than the 3:15 flight. Here's what you need to do. As much as you can, start waking up early in the morning and going to bed early. Remember as I type this at 4:30 pm on a Friday afternoon, it's now 10:30 pm where you're going. The more you time shift before you leave the easier it is. Then on the day of your flight, really get up early, do some physical work, a long walk, etc. Try not to get tied up in last minute rush to finish kinds of things. You'll be flying to MSP which is a 1 hour flight. 4:35-5:43 then departing MSP at 7:35 so you got some time to kill in MSP. When you take off, they'll come around the cabin with 1 set of drinks (sometimes they come a 2nd time) then they'll serve the big meal which will be high in carbs. I suck up a LOT of wine as part of this meal, and NO COFFEE, then because I've been up some hours and am tired, I try to force sleep. Do you have eye/light masks? YOU MUST HAVE them to trick your brain into darkness. If you're sleeping and the person in front of you turns on their reading light, that's enough to tell your brain WAKE UP WAKE UP, and just about when you get it settled, it will happen again. SO darkness is a BIG KEY! About an hour before you arrive in AMS they will turn on all the lights and bring around a breakfast snack, usually yogurt and a banana and juice.

A trick is...the MOMENT they turn on the lights, before the others sort of "come alive" get to a bathroom, and as part of that, do a good face wash, I even shave. It's psychological, but it's like you're body is accepting that it's a whole new day! Then enjoy breakfast. When you land, please look out of the plane a lot in the last 20 minutes. You will be soaring over all the reclaimed land of the Netherlands. It's many feet below sea level. Very fertile soil and you'll see LOTS of greenhouses!! Much of the lettuce, peppers, and such that you'll enjoy even in Scotland come from right there. Mainly cause of the international airport...things fly around the world from right below you. If you land on the "outbound" runway, (it's 10:55am) don't be in a hurry to get all ready to get off the plane, it's about a 20 minute ride to the gate, then they let the 1st class off first and ALL the people in the center cabin (remember you're in the front of the rear cabin. So there's just no reason to be in a hurry and standing shoulder to shoulder with all the "GET ME OFF THE PLANE RIGHT FRICKING NOW" crowd.

When you land in AMS just get off the plane and follow the people. You usually come in on Gate E-5 and you will wander along finally ending up at some people control pillars where you wait at the line on the floor, then go up together and give the man your passports and boarding passes. He will smile at you and do a couple of stamp stamps and you pass by into the other 1/2 of the airport. It's called PASSPORT CONTROL. Then you're in the 'local' side of the airport. Depending on your available time, it's pretty straight forward from here. There is 1/2 a chance that you will NOT have an airplane at the terminal for your next flight. You will go to the gate and you all get on city busses that have no seats in them. Then it's a mad scramble to the plane and up the outside staircase one at a time. Here's the trick. The busses always pull up so that the plane is on the drivers right hand side. The busses are long/articulated in the middle. Be about 1/2 way back in the first part of the bus and by the Right side door, and then when the swoosh open you can make a dash to be first or almost first in line up to the plane. AGAIN so that you can put your carryon stuff near you and above you. There will be a snack on that plane. Sometimes they're pretty cool so enjoy. Then you're in Scotland. You're in the EU so there should be no more TSA or stopping as you enter the country.

I got no help for you there, but I'm thinking it will be a pretty awesome time! If you should get to the baggage claim and 1 or more of your bags don't arrive, DON'T PANIC! (OK PANIC a little bit) What's great is to actually carry a printed photo of your bags, from the front, from the side, from the top. Go to the baggage claim, fill out some forms, there is a 99.9% (OK 62%)chance that your bags are on the next flight. They're going to want you to wait, or come back for them. Be STRONG in your demand to have them delivered to your hotel. It's a rule that they must (yes even to your farm in Fertile if you loose one coming back) deliver them to your home or hotel!!! This is the reason why you should actually pack a little of each others things in the other suitcase. So if only one makes it, at least you're covered for the basics.

NOW for the return trip. Unless they tell you different at EDI, your bags will be checked through to GFK BUT with one difference. When you get to MSP coming back you have to claim your bags and have them in your possession when you go through the 2nd wave of customs/immigration. Then you go through some doors, put your luggage back on a moving belt, and then go through the entire security check again before you are dumped into the MSP terminal. YIPPIE welcome to America! You'll get on the plane in Scotland and it will be much like GFK to MSP, then you will land in AMS. I think you have a little time to shop. If you like cheese, this is the time to purchase some great gouda or edam. DO NOT purchase any liquids or perfumes at the risk of loosing them in MSP. One thing you probably can do is slide them in your bags just before you put them back on the belt in MSP, because you won't be able to take them through the TSA screening to get into the airport.

HERE'S something that might take you by surprise. When you get to the departure gate in Amsterdam (and get there early) You will be in a LONG LINE! It seems like it doesn't move. Finally you will get to a gate keeper. His first question will be "how many in your party" He will look at your passports. He will write some codes on your passports. He will send you to one of 16 interviewers based on his feelings of how much interrogation you need. It seems that the worst place to get sent is the left side (his right) way in the back (plan for a body cavity search if he sends you there). If you get sent more to your right (his left) it's where they put the novice screeners who as some basic questions and move you along. This is the toughest moment of your flight. HIDE NOTHING!

In my case they always ask if you have electronics with you and I respond, "I have a BAG FULL!" This takes them by surprise cause everyone is trying to minimize. By doing that they realize that you're not trying to pull something past them. They they will ask about if you've had anything repaired in the last 90 days. The right answer is, "I've never had anything fixed, if something breaks I fix it myself or throw it!"
When you get past your screener, you will go through the new walk through scanner and your bags will be x-rayed. GET to the front of the room (remember THE ZONE) up by the gate access or 299 people will get on the plane before you!!! Again just be right up front there. BTW there's usually NO bathrooms and for sure no drinking fountains within the gate area so get everything done before you enter! Then get on your plane and stake your claim. Remember going you will be on the side of the plane that you enter on, so get on the plane, take an immediate right and go through the center cabin and you're toward the front in the back cabin. On your return you are in the same cabin but on the other side of the when you enter...cross the plane and then head back.

Coming back, sleep as you like, but it's not difficult because it's just a LONG day with 2 full nights on either end. Except for your sleep time, do get up and walk around on the ocean flights. Feel free to go to the open space between cabins and do a little exercise. I do this unashamedably and it's so ironic what I often start as the fat guy, others start following suit! Feel free to walk a big circle around the plane...all the way to the back, then across, and up to the front of the middle cabin and across and back to your seat. As you do, look around and see if you can figure out which two are the sky cops (air marshals) There will be at least two of them. You'll see them "bopping" around like they're all casual, but if you watch their eyes, they're constantly scanning the passengers. Could be young, could be as old as 55. About an hour out of MSP they'll give you some forms to fill out. You need to declare everything you're returning with that you didn't leave with. If for some reason you have more than allowed, it's better to tell them and 9 times out of 10 they'll thank you for being honest and wave you through, worst case, if you cheat and they catch you, you loose it all and get a tick by your name for flying for the rest of your life. Remember my motto...I'd rather ask forgiveness than permission! Then you'll get off the plane in MSP.

NO HURRY as you watch people even passing you as you take a LONG walk along the gateways, go downstairs and then get in a line to meet your first immigration guy. He'll ask the basic questions, just give him direct answers and look him right in the eye! A smile never hurts, remember they do this for 8 hours a day and they know that at least 1 or 2 percent of the people going by them are criminals that they are supposed to be catching. I've always found that a genuine smile with eyebrow lift really does wonders for me! After this first guy, you go to what seems like baggage claim, find your bags, this is why there's no reason to hurry, you'll always be there waiting for your bags. When you get them continue through the room to the 2nd guy, he's pretty friendly, and then you're out to dump your bags again. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DID in Scotland, DO NOT get in the "I was on a farm" or "I was hiking in the wilderness" Cause you will be stopped, questioned, have your shoes inspected, samples taken, they will want to know how to get a hold of you at your's get's UGLY. SO You didn't go to a farm, you didn't go hiking in the wilderness, you didn't touch a cow/horse/elephant. Just walked the streets of big towns. Which is what you told me you're going to do.

That's all I got for now other than you MUST ABSOLUTELY Check out the Urinals in AMS. they are not white but urine colored and there is a FLY in the porcelain on every one of them. WHY you ask? CAUSE it give the little boys (aren't we all) something to aim at, and they have definite proof that that urinal area will require 32% less cleaning/maintenance as the identical one WITHOUT THE FLY. Only the Dutch would figure this out!!

If something happens and you end up with a longer than expected layover in AMS, do NOT PANIC! but REVEL in your good luck. Assuming it's not overnight, put your carry on bags in one of the readily available lockers, take your day packs, and ID.. You'll have some euro that I'll send with you. The train station is underground right at the exit of the airport. Take the train into the CITY costs about 4 or 5 euro each way for each person. WELL WORTH IT! From the big train station you are within 1/2 mile of EVERYTHING that is Amsterdam. The canals, the xxx zone, Observe out the cabinet girls Mostly used by Brit guys. Have some Chinese food (china town to the left as you exit the station) XXX straight ahead van gough museum is a train or taxi ride. Just wander around, it's AWESOME!!! but make sure you get back to the airport at least 2 hours before your flight 2 1/2 is even better.

My mind is empty talk to you soon!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!

Remember in the Wizard of Oz when the munchkins were all hiding because of the bad witches appearance? Then when the good witch shows up she calls them out because it's safe with the phrase "Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!" Well it seems that this is a problem in Crookston too!! As of this moment there has been 1 response to my editorial in the Crookston Times (which I referred to as a "rag" which disturbed the editor and this is my public apology. In the radio business all newspapers are referred to as rags due to the rating or "rag content" of the material representing the percentage of scrap cloth that is combined with pulp fibers to make paper. Sorry Mike!)

Here's "Sam's" response. To bad he (or she?) doesn't have the courage to put their name on their feelings. It really invalidates their opinions. It's easy to hid behind a partial or fake name and shout obscenities at other people, but really, if you want to be taken seriously you need to be forthright in admitting who you are or everything you say is SUSPECT! I find out now that EVEN this VICTOR FRANK name is not a real person, but is a fake name of a human that I have found out 3 things about. 1. they are a Crookston area resident. 2. they are NOT in any media business. 3. they are not in any religious business. I WILL FIND OUT who it is.

In the mean time, it's only fair to comment on Sam's lame ramblings. First of all in talking to several of my associates, they do NOT feel that I used stereotypes let alone blatant stereotypes, I take their opinions as fact. Secondly, I was not basing my comments on two days of being there face to face but, decades of news following, dozens of books read, and uncountable interviews that I have done over 32 years in broadcasting. My comments were NOT something new or outlandish, even those who side with the fanatical Palestinian factions would exactly agree with everything I said. Wait, Wait, what's the sound? I'm hearing the strains of KUM BY YA coming from somewhere!

As for Sam's comments on health care. I'm really glad you had a good experience with the European health care system. Of course saying European health care system would be like saying North American health care system, but you must agree that the difference between the Canadian, USA and Mexican systems is quite different. SO it is in Europe. So if you're not willing to talk about which country, again anything you have to say has as much substance as a rain cloud. I have hosted 7 foreign exchange students. Six of them from Germany. Because of my ability to travel a lot, I got to know most of the families very well and often stay with them for long periods of time. NOT ONE of them has expressed pride and joy in their health care system. Four of the six purchase quite expensive supplemental policies so that if they get sick they don't have to try to recover in a room with 15 other patients. Are you 62 years old and have a heart attach? Sorry no coronary care unit for you, it's the ward, you've had a good life, that's all well do for you. Do your research that you accuse me of not doing. Apologies accepted between 2 and 4 pm weekdays.

Ironically we both agree on your last statement. It sure would not have been my choice to get into this without a strong contingent of other countries making a unified and controlled movement. However things didn't happen that way and to abandon our efforts now would be a disaster for our friends and even the more neutral groups in the area. Seems to me terrorists and folks who make accusations without others knowing who they are have a lot in common. It's easy to throw stones from behind a wall, COME OUT COME OUT WHEREVER YOU ARE and lets have a meaningful dialog.

Sam wrote on Jun 19, 2008 5:12 AM:

" Perhaps you should do a bit more "research" when you write an editorial that uses blatant stereotypes of Israelis and Palestinians. Try spending more than two days with a handful of Palestinians before you state such obnoxious comments such as they want to kill every Jew alive.

While I agree that the Canadian healthcare system is by no means the best, perhaps Americans should look abroad at other systems in order to gain a little insight to how healthcare could be. We don't need to sacrifice excellence for crummy public healthcare, we need to be willing to help more than just ourselves and look at the bigger picture. Yes, it means higher taxes to keep the level of excellence we have, but it doesn't mean it comes out of everyone's pockets the same. After living in Europe for several years I can tell you that BCBS 80/20 policy is simply crap and is not the system we should be working to keep. Perhaps by not funding a war in a foreign country and putting some of that money back into our own education and healthcare systems could we be a better country. "