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Tim Droogsma's blog



My business, my family and a lot of hockey and golf talk



Updated: 2018-03-21T06:18:51.783-05:00

 



Mr. Rooter, chapter 2

2015-07-21T17:17:04.402-05:00

Way back in February, I wrote about my unhappy experience with a plumbing outfit called Mr. Rooter. You can read that post here, but the story in a nutshell is that a Mr. Rooter plumber showed up at our house to clear a clogged drain, and collected $492 for his work. The next morning the drain was clogged again, the plumber returned, but said it would be another $600-$800 to clean the drain, and he got belligerent when I suggested that I should get credit for the money I had paid the day before. He eventually left, and we had a local plumber clear the drain (which has had no problems since then.)

Fast forward now to sometime in March, after I posted my blog about the incident. I got a call from a warm, friendly woman in Mr. Rooter's office in Rochester. She couldn't have been nicer, and said that they had reviewed my situation. She stressed that what I had written was "very accurate," and she apologized over and over again for the trouble. She said the plumber in question had been spoken to, that he had been told he acted inappropriately, that he should have honored the coupon I offered, and that all Mr. Rooter services come with a free return visit if the problem persists. She apologized again and again, and said that I would be receiving a refund.

It was GREAT customer service, and I thanked her for her time.

Then a month went by...no refund.

And another month went by...no refund.

Finally, on May 18, I called back to Mr. Rooter, using the phone # that they had called me from on my cell phone. Again, I got to talk to a very pleasant woman, and explained my situation. I said that I didn't know who had called me, but that it had been someone from this number. I had been promised a refund, and that I hadn't heard anything back in two months. Could I please speak with the woman who called me back in March?

This warm, friendly woman asked me my name, and I could hear her punching something up on her computer. Apparently she started reading some notes that were associated with me, and said something like, "Oh, the person you talked to back then doesn't work here anymore."

I said that I understood, and explained the situation to her. She said, "Yes, it looks like you were supposed to be sent a refund. I'm going to talk to the owner, and one of us will call you back."

Well, it's now been another two months, and I still haven't gotten my call back from Mr. Rooter. So apparently are they notso-hotso at plumbing work, but they aren't all that great at following up with their customers, either.

I'll keep you posted.




Blood on San Francisco's hands

2015-07-09T11:30:18.449-05:00

It was three years ago this week that a beautiful, brilliant young woman named Clarisse Grimes was killed in St. Paul by an illegal immigrant who had already been deported, but returned to the U.S. illegally. I wrote about Clarisse and her tragic end here.

So it was "deja vu all over again" last week when another beautiful young woman, Kate Steinle, was shot to death by an illegal immigrant on the San Francisco waterfront. The killer, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, has several felony convictions on his rap sheet, and had been deported five times, but continued to illegally enter the U.S.

All of this was known at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which recently had custody of Lopez-Sanchez, but turned him over to San Francisco authorities so they could prosecute him on a drug charge. ICE also filed a "detainer," instructing San Francisco authorities to turn Lopez-Sanchez when they were through with him. Here's where the outrage begins.

San Francisco ignored the detainer, and let Lopez-Sanchez walk free. Why? Because San Francisco is a "sanctuary city," where officials have decided they will ignore requests from immigration so that illegal immigrants are free to move about their city. Lopez-Sanchez has reportedly admitted that he returned to San Francisco specifically because he knew of the sanctuary city status, and knew he wouldn't be hassled about being in the country illegally.

Oh, but that's just loopy, crazy, San Francisco you might think. Surely no other big city is dumb enough to hang out a "Welcome" sign for criminals from other countries.

Wrong. There are more than 200 "sanctuary cities" in the United States, including - here in Minnesota - both Minneapolis and St. Paul. That's why the guy who killed Clarisse Grimes was on the street: He had been arrested for driving without a license just a short while before killing Clarisse, but St. Paul's sanctuary city policy let him go.

Imagine that: The same government that expects you to pay your taxes, obey the speed limit, shovel your sidewalk, etc., etc., etc., suddenly decides that the law doesn't apply to them if an illegal immigrant is involved.

I'm undecided as to whom to support for President next year, but the first candidate who pledges to withhold all federal funding from sanctuary cities has my vote.





Meeting - and saying goodbye to - Mr. Rooter

2015-02-11T02:54:45.880-06:00

Regular readers will know that over the years I've used the blog a number of times to point out remarkable customer service, whether it came from Sprint, Northwest Airlines or whomever. This, however, is NOT one of those stories.In front of our house sits a beautiful dogwood tree that is at least 40 feet high and spreads wonderful, cooling shade in the summer over the entire house. The downside of this great tree is that it has a deep, complex root structure that sometimes causes problems with my plumbing.The problem first reared its head about five years ago, on the same weekend that my daughter Erin was getting married. We woke up to a basement floor that was flooded with some really yucky, smelly backed-up water just a day before a number of guests and family would be at the house. A quick call to a plumbing acquaintance brought some help, and was quite instructive. He ran a camera down the offending drain and showed me how roots from the tree had worked their way through the underground pipe that runs from the house to the street, and he then used something called a power scrubber to blow away the roots and open the drain. He also explained that this was only a temporary solution, and that over the years, the roots would grow back and eventually cause the same problem.Fast forward five years, to a couple of weeks ago, when the drain began to back up onto the basement floor again.Luckily - or at least we thought it was lucky - we had just received a postcard in the mail from an outfit called "Mr. Rooter." It had a local phone number, as well as a coupon that promised $51 off of "any plumbing service." So we decided to give them a call.Within a few hours a fellow from Mr. Rooter arrived. I explained the root history problem and he said that for about $350, he could run a cutting blade down the drain that would cut away some of the roots and get the water flowing again. It wouldn't be a permanent solution, he explained, and said that eventually the pipe would need "hydro scrubbing" again. Which I understood, and acknowledged that we would have to have that done later, perhaps this summer.So he went to work, and within a few minutes he said there was a problem. On the basement floor there is a metal cap that needs to be opened in order to access the drain, and he said he was unable to open that cap because it had become "fused" to the floor. Instead, he would have to take out the downstairs toilet and access the drain pipe through there, and it was going to be another $145 or so. Again, I said "fine" and left him to work.A couple hours later he finished. It was, he explained, a difficult job because the roots were getting thicker, and the hydro scrubbing should definitely come sooner, rather than later. For the time being, however, he said the drain was "50 percent clear" and would at least get our daily plumbing functioning normally again. I was happy with the service, and we sat down at the kitchen table to settle up the bill.Except there was no bill to show me, because the Mr. Rooter guy keeps track of everything on a little tablet computer, and without a printer, there was no paperwork. But he said the total came to $512, and that didn't seem horribly out of line and I was okay with that. As I took out my checkbook I showed him the coupon THAT HIS COMPANY HAD SENT TO US and said, "Well, this will take a little bite out of it."No, he explained, that coupon wasn't valid because "that's only for plumbing." I sort of half-chuckled at the notion that taking out a toilet, cleaning a drain and re-installing the toilet wasn't "plumbing," (What WAS it? Carpentry? Masonry?) but I said okay and started to write the check.He then said that there WAS an internet coupon that would let him take $20 off the bill. That mollified me a little, and so I wrote a check for $492 and some change. He couldn't give me a receipt, however, because all his "paperwork" was on the tablet, but he offered to email me a copy of the bill later. Again, I was fine with that.Later that night the emai[...]



No Time for Hamas

2014-08-22T04:07:35.391-05:00

As I age, I tend to see fewer issues in black-and-white terms, and instead see more shades of grey. Maybe that means I'm getting squishy, or maybe it means I'm maturing. I guess I'm not sure.One area in which I have NOT gone soft, however, is Israel. As many of you know, I was privileged to serve as Press Secretary to Sen. Rudy Boschwitz for a number of years, and while I learned much from Rudy, probably the most important thing I took away from my time with him was the absolute moral imperative of supporting Israel.So when a local idiot named Bill Habedank wrote a letter to the local paper a couple weeks ago calling Israel's war of self-defense a "genocide," I snapped. The result of my snapping is the letter below, which ran in the Red Wing Republican Eagle on August 13.Red Wing Republican EagleAug. 13, 2014 I have never seen as much bigotry and ignorance stuffed into one letter as that of Bill Habedank on Aug. 5. To compare the courageous, embattled people of Israel to genocidal Nazis is not only profoundly ignorant, but it is also deeply disrespectful to the memory of the more than six million Jews killed by Nazi Germany. That Holocaust is the main reason the state of Israel was established by the United Nations in 1948. In the current conflict, Habedank is apparently rooting for the Palestinians and their leadership in the form of Hamas. Hamas, of course, is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, and the Hamas charter calls for the “eradication” of Jews and the nation of Israel. Apparently Habedank agrees with that sentiment. Hamas, like most bands of terrorists, is guilty of numerous war crimes, including: -      --  Hiding rockets, armaments and its own leadership among civilian populations; -      -- Firing rockets at civilian airports -      -- Using women and children as human shields -      --  Fighting without uniforms, disguising themselves as civilians who conducting terror operations In the past few years, Hamas has taken the billions in aid given to them and, rather than build homes, schools, hospitals or mosques, they have used the money to build tunnels into Israel to be used to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians. At the same time, they’ve fired thousands of rockets into Israel – all aimed at civilian populations – firing the rockets from next to schools, hospitals and other civilian structures, thereby endangering their own people. Habedank decries “mass murder” in the Middle East, but the only ones attempting mass murder are the Hamas terrorists, whose stated aim is to “wipe Israel off the map.” Habedank certainly has the right to speak his mind, but civilized people in a wonderful community like Red Wing should be embarrassed that his type of anti-Semitism and bigotry are on display among us. Tim Droogsma Red Wing, MN[...]



Are we overheating, or are we freezing? I guess we're not sure.

2013-10-07T03:07:30.678-05:00

Last week the singer/scientist/genius Bob Geldof announced that because of - of course, global warming - all of mankind was going to be dead by 2030, just 17 years from now. If true, of course, it would make it much easier to plan for my retirement, but I'm just not quite willing to take old Bobby's word for it. I've been able to live long enough to see environmental predictions come and go, and to realize that most of them - including those from Al Gore and the rest of the faith-based "climate change" community - are absolute hokum. To remind you of how useful "settled science" can be, here - courtesy of the Watts Up With That? blog - are some predictions from Earth Day, 1970. Lots of keen foresight here. Enjoy.“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.” • Kenneth Watt, ecologist “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” • George Wald, Harvard Biologist “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.” • Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” • Life Magazine, January 1970 “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” • Kenneth Watt, Ecologist “Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”• Sen. Gaylord Nelson And my personal favorite: “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist[...]



The Democrats hate you and want you to die

2013-09-21T14:30:19.807-05:00

It was a big week for the forces of "tolerance" and "diversity" on the political left.

First comes the story of the Communications Chair of the Democratic Party in Sacramento, California. Allan Brauer feels really, really strongly about Obamacare. So strongly, in fact, that his wish for those who oppose Obamacare is that their "children all die from debilitating, painful and incurable diseases." Sounds like a nice guy, eh? Read the entire sorry story here.

Meanwhile, at the University of Kansas, Journalism professor David Guth feels really, really strongly about gun control. So strongly, in fact, that after the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, his wish for those who support the Second Amendment is that "Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.” You can read his story here, and his reward from KU is a paid vacation.

Good thing they're the party of "compassion."



Hypocrite alert!

2013-09-08T12:07:54.839-05:00

Sorry about the blogging blackout...vacation, work, school (I'm a student again...will tell the story later), State Fair and a son who broke his heel and needed surgery have all slowed me down.

The most comical event of the recent past is watching the President fumble, bumble and stumble his way around on Syria. One minute we have to attack quickly, then it doesn't matter if we wait a month and today's position seems to be that, hey, maybe we don't even need to do anything. It's all just a reminder that this guy is in so far over his head that he can hardly catch a breath. Serves us right for making a diversity hire in the nation's top job.

Almost as fun is listening to the deafening silence from the celebrities who trampled each other rushing to get to a microphone to denounce George Bush as an immoral warmonger, but who now have clammed up when their boy wants to start throwing Cruise missiles around. Click here for a nice gallery.




Someone with a worse job than yours

2013-07-25T02:31:28.657-05:00

This would be the latest in the irregular series of "Videos that fascinate me for no obvious reason." The gentlemen in question  is named Pravit Suebmee, a 27-year-old from Thailand who makes his living as part of an alligator show. I'm gotten close to a few 'gators (and by "close" I mean maybe 30 feet away) on my annual Myrtle Beach golf trips, and there's nothing I could think of that would ever make me want to do what Pravit does in this video. I'm imagining the job interview went something like this:

Interviewer: So, you'd like to work with alligators, huh?
Pravit: Yes, they're magnificent animals, and I have a degree in Animal Science from UT-Bangkok.
I: So, we need someone who can clean their habitat area, make sure the 'gator is fed every day and lead them around a couple times a day for the tourists. Can you do that?
P: Certainly. Sounds like an ideal job.
I: One more thing. Twice a day we'd like you to get down on all fours and put your head in the gator's mouth.
P: Okay....Um, wait, what?
I: You know, just stick you head in the gator's mouth.
P:Why would I do that?
I: Well, the tourists seem to like it, and it makes for a great picture. Fun for everyone.
P: But these things have really powerful jaws, you know. Having them bite you is supposed to be like having a pick-up truck parked on top of you.
I: Yes, but it probably won't really bite you. You're not a bird, or fish or one of its natural enemies so it will probably just leave you alone. Probably.
P: I don't like the way you keep saying 'Probably.'
I: Well, nothing is totally foolproof, you know. 99.999 percent and all of that.
P: If you're absolutely sure it's safe...
I: Positive. So you'll take the job? Great, you can start Monday.
P: I forgot to ask...why is this job open? Did the last guy who had it get promoted or something?
I: Ummm....yeah, something like that.

Don't be alarmed; He was not seriously injured. I wonder if this is a Workman's Comp claim under Thailand law?


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5S-YsfLPPfY?feature=player_embedded" width="600">



Taking the race card out of the deck

2013-07-17T19:59:13.137-05:00

One of the hallmarks of dictatorships through the ages (think Stalin's Russia or Mao's China or Castro's Cuba) is that citizens cannot rely on any sort of consistent legal system or code of conduct. What those in charge find acceptable one day is subject to change simply by the personal whim of Dear Leader.Wearing, say, a red shirt might be considered illegal. So, in order to avoid the wrath of the authorities a person could spend years wearing only blue shirts. Then one day, those in power would decide blue shirts were illegal, and poor Boris/Jose/Chang would find himself hauled off to the gulag based on the whim of a dictator.Even today in Cuba, people are frequently arrested on charges of being a "Pre-criminal danger to society," which might just mean the cop didn't like the look on your face, or it might mean your neighbor reported you for saying something bad about the government. The average case results in a four-year sentence in a Cuban prison, which is not to be confused with the relative country club conditions at Guantanamo.One of the hallmarks of a free society is a legal system devoid of arbitrary, capricious power, whether that power is wielded by an all-powerful dictator or by an angry mob.With the Not Guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case, America has taken an important step back from turning its legal system into a banana republic-like farce, and we can be hopeful that we are getting closer to the point where the "race card" is relegated to the ash heap of history.To be clear: George Zimmerman should never have been made to stand trial, and would not have without the poisonous race-mongering of people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and the complicity of an equally immoral and incompetent media.(The idea of Sharpton, a man with considerable amounts of blood on his hands - click here - crying for "justice" is particularly sickening. The man is a cancer on American society.)A number of cities have seen "protests" over Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, and it's hard not to consider those protesting as simply a group of stupid people who are either A) Ignorant of the law, B) Ignorant of the facts of this case or C) So driven by irrational racial animus that they don't care about the law or the facts. And all along the way they've been misled by unethical journalists who are always happy to invent black/white conflicts, even if there isn't a white person involved.The facts we know in this case are:- Zimmerman was acting in his role as a neighborhood watch captain in a neighborhood that had seen a high number of break-ins and other criminal activity- Zimmerman spotted Martin moving through the neighborhood and called police- Zimmerman and Martin ended up having a confrontation. Anyone who tells you that Zimmerman "stalked" or "hunted down" Martin, or claims that Zimmerman initiated the confrontation, is saying something that they have no way of knowing to be true. The only evidence presented was Zimmerman's claim that Martin attacked and "sucker punched" him to begin the altercation, and no evidence to the contrary was ever presented. Or exists.- The altercation resulted - according to the only eyewitness - with Martin on top of Zimmerman, repeatedly bashing his head against a concrete sidewalk, resulting in head injuries and a broken nose for Zimmerman. At that point, fearing for his life, Zimmerman was able grab his gun and shoot Martin in what seems to be a classic case of legal self-defense.After the shooting, the local authorities investigated and cleared Zimmerman of any wrongdoing, ruling that he acted in self-defense. Given the facts, it's hard to imagine they could have done anything else.This sent the racial grievance machine into high gear. Sharpton, Jackson and the others - who don't seem to care one whit when dozens of y[...]



A feel-good story from the Wild's NHL draft day

2013-07-08T00:00:32.660-05:00

As you may have read, the Wild recently signed (how to describe him? Pest, agitator, thug...I'm not sure) Matt Cooke. Cooke has long been considered a villian in these parts, going back to his days playing for Satan's Team in Vancouver, and it's going to take me a while - like, say, at least until he scores his first goal - to totally accept him as a member of the State of Hockey.The Cooke signing came as part of a flurry of Wild activity that included the departure of fan favorites Cal Clutterbuck and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, the trading away of Devin Setoguchi, the return of  Niklas Backstrom and the signing of defenseman (and former Gopher) Keith Ballard.Couple all that with the recent NHL draft, in which the Wild selected possible future stud defenseman Gustav Olofsson with their first pick (which came in the second round) and there has been a lot of news vying for the Wild fan's attention.By the time the NHL draft reaches its third round, most fans have stopped paying attention. The big names, the guys who might help your team immediately, have already been selected. Because the NHL drafts players at a young age - 18 to 20 years old - the guys selected later in the draft are not likely to come right to the big club. Most of them will go on to college (Olofsson is headed for Colorado College) or Canadian Junior hockey, where the NHL team that drafted them hopes that they will mature, develop and eventually compete for a spot in the NHL. Most of them don't. For players chosen in the third round and below, only about half ever play even one game in the NHL, and only about 15% of them stick around long enough to play 200 career games (less than three full seasons.)And while not all of those players chosen late on draft day have the pedigree of a first-round pick, they all have ability, they all have a dream and they all have a story. This year, in the third round, the Wild chose a 20-year-old kid named Kurtis Gabriel, who had been passed over in his first two years of draft eligibility. That's right; All 30 teams had a chance to take him, and none of them did, either in 2011 or 2012. Gabriel has good size (6-foot-4, 206 pounds), but he scored just 13 goals last season for his junior team, the Owen Sound Attack, a stat that hardly screams out "future NHLer." So why am I writing about him? Well, as I said, every player has a story, and I find Gabriel's quite compelling. Rather than try to tell it myself, I'm just going to give you this story via the Owen Sound Attack's web site, written before the recent NHL draft, and then add some comments below.(Story courtesy of www.attackhockey.com)---------------Kurtis Gabriel, the Wild's 3rd-round draft pickThe Kootenay Ice and Owen Sound Attack were skating in warm-ups at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont., 25 minutes before the third-place tiebreaker game at the 2011 Memorial Cup. Fans were still filing in but the buzz had started long before the arena was half-filled, the buzz that went with the knowledge somebody’s season was going to end that night. Up on press row, Canadian Hockey League staff passed out the lineups to reporters: The Attack’s top two forwards, Colorado firstrounder Joey Hishon and captain Garrett Wilson, were both scratched with concussions. Who was out was, for the media, the story. Who was in was not even a footnote, not with a stat line of one goal and two assists in 40 games. Nobody knew who Kurtis Gabriel was, at least nobody who started to pay attention to Owen Sound during the Attack’s improbable run to an Ontario Hockey League title. Those who followed the team all season knew that the 18-year-old had been a healthy scratch since January. They knew that, even when dressed at the start of the season, he saw only a couple of shifts a game. The coaches and players knew more. [...]



Irony alert

2013-06-28T22:21:00.837-05:00

It's been tough sledding recently for so-called environmentalists. A leading academy reports that the earth hasn't been warming for more than a decade, which pretty much drives a stake through the heart of the global warming crowd's scare tactics. Many of the "green" projects run by Obama's cronies - and bankrolled with tax dollars - have gone belly-up and cost taxpayers billions. The list goes on and on.

But none of those failures are quite as delicious as this story out of Scotland. It seems that this little fellow, a White Throated Needletail, showed up in the Hebrides, a group of islands off the coast of Scotland. There have only been four sightings of a White Throated Needletail in the United Kingdom since 1846. The bird - capable of flying over 100 MPH - normally hangs out in China and other parts of Asia, and speculation is that this plucky little guy got blown off course by some kind of monster wind.

His arrival was big news among the Brits and Scots who love bird-watching, and dozens of them flocked to the tiny Isle of Harris to revel in the sighting.

The treat lasted just a bit, however, as the gawkers watch the bird take flight....and fly smack-dab into one of those hideously ugly wind turbines, leaving it - as Monty Python might say - an ex-Needletail.

(image)
Bird after coming into contact with "environmentalists"
The notion that wind power - or solar, or virtually any other "alternative" energy - can contribute in any meaningful way to a modern society is a bit of a joke, but most of the time the joke is only on the chumps who put up the money to build "wind farms" and such. (Too often those chumps are taxpayers, but that's another story for another day).

"Progress" 1, Birds 0.





"I'm a born free American woman"

2013-06-05T03:55:05.236-05:00

Meet my new hero, a wonderful woman from Alabama named Becky Gerritson. She is president of the Tea Party group in Wetumpka, Alabama, and her group was one of the many singled out by IRS employees for harassment when they applied for their tax-exempt status. Gerritson was asked to testify at Tuesday's meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is investigating the IRS' myriad abuses.You can watch much of her testimony by clicking on the link below, but a couple of the passages (which begin about the 2:30 mark) in her testimony were absolute music to my ears, including (my emphasis added):“In Wetumpka, we are patriotic Americans. We peacefully assemble. We petition our government. We exercise the right to free speech. And we don’t understand why the government tried to stop us.“I’m not here as a serf or a vassal. I’m not begging my lords for mercy. I’m a born free American woman. Wife, mother, and citizen. And I’m telling my government that you’ve forgotten your place. It’s not your responsibility to look out for my well-being and to monitor my speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy, exists to preserve American liberty. You’ve sworn to perform that duty, and you have faltered…“What the government did to our little group in Wetumpka, Alabama is un-American. It isn’t a matter of firing or arresting individuals. The individuals who sought to intimidate us were acting as they thought they should, in a government culture that has little respect for its citizens. Many of the agents and agencies of the federal government do not understand that they are servants of the people. They think they are our masters. And they are mistaken."In just a few courageous words, Ms. Gerritson summed up what should be a national rallying cry: The idea that we are NOT servants of the federal government, that we are NOT serfs or vassals and that government does not give us our rights, it exists to protect those rights.It's not a particularly radical idea; The same notions are found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, but the sad part of her testimony is that for many (most?) Americans, she may as well have been speaking Latin. Congress is full of ridiculous people like Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Keith Ellison for whom the idea of individual liberty is a threat. Like most liberals, they consider themselves enlightened elites, and they view government as a tool to shape their utopian view of the world without any regard for the rights of the citizenry.(Consider the contrast between Ms. Gerritson, and the sad, pathetic Sandra Fluke, who became a liberal icon by testifying in Congress to her belief that government exists in order to provide her with free birth control. It's hard to believe the two of them are even the same species, let alone the same gender.)Ms,. Gerritson closed her testimony by saying:“I’m not interested in scoring political points. I want to protect and preserve the America that I grew up in. The America that people crossed oceans and risked their lives to become a part of. And I’m terrified it is slipping away."I think it's a valid question to ask if it is "slipping away," or if we've already slid too far to recover.God bless Becky Gerritson. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Vplm4lg8GEA?feature=player_embedded" width="600">[...]



Hit from the blind side

2013-05-31T04:20:05.864-05:00

A few months ago, when we got tremendous footage of the meteor that crashed in Russia, I learned that we got that footage because a large percentage of Russian drivers have dashboard-mounted cameras. It seems that Russians are not particularly adept drivers, there are lots of accidents and in a society without a well-established rule of law (corrupt police, a patchwork court system, etc.), it is sometimes quite helpful to have video evidence on your side when there has been an accident.

Having said all that, I'm grateful for the video camera that recorded this little collision between a Russian vehicle and what appears to be a medium-sized brown bear. I'm not sure why it amuses me so, but I bet I hit the "replay" button 10 times after I first saw it. I particularly love how the bear walks away. Enjoy.

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I may have to rethink my bias....

2013-05-28T23:57:27.439-05:00

My mother is from Nebraska, and for part of my childhood, I had an uncle living with us who had attended - and later taught, I believe - the University of Nebraska. As a result, I had to listen to tons of "Go Big Red" crap when I was growing up. Rather than indoctrinating me, it had the opposite effect, making me a huge fan of the Oklahoma Sooners, who back then served as Nebraska's biggest rival.

Over the years, I just reflexively root for whatever team is facing Nebraska. Now that the Cornhuskers have joined the Big Ten, that's a bit of a problem, since they often line up against other teams - Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan - that I'm also conditioned to dislike.

But this might change my perspective. At the recent spring football game in Lincoln, the Nebraska coaches took time to insert Jack Hoffman into the game.

Who?
(image)
7-year-old cancer patient Jack Hoffman

Little Jack is a seven-year-old cancer patient, who apparently has an affection for Nebraska football. He suited up, trotted into the game and, well, you can watch the rest by clicking below.

Good job, 'Huskers. I can now root for you when you play Wisconsin.


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Memorial Day, 2013

2013-05-26T00:14:38.285-05:00

Every Memorial Day weekend, I've tried to write something in honor of those we need to remember, but this year, words fail me. I just read this article at National Review Online, and watched the video that it references. I'm not nearly a good enough writer to improve on the story, so I'll just leave it for you to read, and post the video for you to watch. Enjoy, and spend time this weekend remember those who died to keep us free.------By Lee HabeebNational ReviewIt happens now and then. You hear a story so sad, so beautiful, so filled with loss and pain and grief and love, that it makes you cry. Really cry.Two years ago, I was making a grocery run for my family on Memorial Day when a story came on the local NPR station in Oxford, Miss. It was about a father whose son had been killed in action in northwest Afghanistan. The father was Paul Monti; his son was Sergeant Jared Monti. Jared died in Afghanistan trying to save the life of one of his men. Jared was 30 years old when he died, and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism under fire. But that was small consolation to his father: The son he loved and admired was gone, forever.We then heard from Jared’s dad. His grief was palpable, as he told the NPR reporter some stories about his son. Stories of how his son was always helping people, especially people less fortunate than himself. His father nearly choked up telling a story about how his son once took a brand-new kitchen set he and his buddies at Fort Bragg had just purchased for their home, and gave it away to a fellow soldier’s family.“One day his buddies came home and the kitchen set was missing,” his father recounted. “And they asked him where it was and Jared said, ‘Well, I was over at one of my soldier’s houses, and his kids were eating on the floor, so I figured they needed the kitchen set more than we did.’ And so the $700 kitchen set disappeared. That’s what he did.”His dad told the reporter that his son shunned any kind of notoriety or attention. “All of his medals went in a sock drawer,” Jared’s dad said. “No one ever saw them; he didn’t want to stand out.” Then came the part of the interview that hit me hardest: It was the moment when Paul Monti talked about his son’s truck, and why he still has it, and still drives it.“What can I tell you? It’s him,” Jared’s father explained, nearly choking on his words. “It’s got his DNA all over it. I love driving it because it reminds me of him, though I don’t need the truck to remind me of him. I think about him every hour of every day.”I was already tearing up before that story about Jared’s truck. But as the details piled up — the truck was a Dodge 4X4 Ram 1500 with decals on it that included the 10th Mountain Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, an American flag, and a Go Army sticker — I lost it.And there I was sitting in my car in a Walmart parking lot on a sunny Memorial Day in my hometown crying hard. Crying like a child. Crying as if I’d lost my child.I wasn’t the only one in a car crying that day. It turns out that a Nashville songwriter named Connie Harrington was in her car, too, listening to the very same story. Moved to tears, she pulled over to the side of the road, scribbling notes as the story proceeded.She wrote down detail upon detail, everything she could remember. When she got back home, Harrington couldn’t get that story of the soldier’s father and his son’s truck out of her mind. So she did what writers do, and turned the words of that grieving father into a song. With the help of two co-writers, the finished product found its way to singer [...]



"We swear by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

2013-05-24T00:44:21.638-05:00

Those were the charming words of this man,speaking into a video camera moments after stabbing and hacking to pieces a British solider on the streets of Woolwich, England. Armed with knives and meat cleavers (because the British, you know, have very strict gun laws to make everybody "safe") he and a partner attacked the off-duty soldier, killed him and then took time to pose for a video. According to the Daily Mail, he spoke in a "soft London accent," telling the people of London "You will never be safe."

England, of course, has been slowly committing societal suicide for years by encouraging the immigration of Muslim populations from Asia and Africa, without making any effort to ensure the assimilation of those immigrants. The surrender to political correctness has been so complete that there are entire Muslim areas of London where police dare not go, and where Muslims have been allowed to set up their own courts, governed by Sharia law.

It's lunacy, of course, to believe that Western culture can co-exist with the genocidal strain of Islam, and England continues to learn the lesson the hard way. Those who think the Atlantic ocean is a barrier that will prevent this type of jihad from coming to America should pay a visit to Dearborn, Michigan.

The great Jay Nordlinger once interviewed a Holocaust survivor, and asked him what he had learned from the experience. He said, "When someone says they want to kill you, believe them."

Instead, I suspect the West will continue to bury its head in the sand, and carry on with the fiction that Islam is compatible with Western civilization values such as free speech, freedom of religion, equality for women, gay rights, etc.

In the meantime, I'm anxious to read about the "meat cleaver control" laws that are sure to be introduced soon.




Don't worry, the government only wants to know what you're praying about

2013-05-17T21:49:42.770-05:00

The IRS scandal currently engulfing the Obama administration is, as fighter pilots like to say, a "target-rich environment." There are so many different abuses, so many lies and attempted coverups that it's difficult to single out which is the most egregious.

But I have a candidate for the worst offense.

A pro-life group in Iowa known as Coalition For Life of Iowa had applied for tax-exempt status. As we now know, the IRS' Cincinnati office was charged with reviewing such requests, and since at least 2010 the IRS was targeting conservative groups who made those requests, delaying their applications, asking illegal questions and harassing many of these groups to the point where they abandoned their applications.

Some IRS employee in the Cincinnati office reviewed the application of the Coalition For Life of Iowa, and decided they needed a little more information. They sent the Coalition a laundry list of requests, but one stands out above rest. It's the IRS response to the Coalition's mentioning that it held prayer meetings:

"Please explain in detail the activities at these prayer meetings."

That's right, folks, an employee of the Internal Revenue Service thought it was absolutely proper to ask people what they were praying about.

Lefties love to sit around and laugh about what they consider right-wing tinfoil-hat paranoia about "big gummint," but when the government decides it has a right to know what goes on between you and God, there is no longer a Constitution, no longer a Bill of Rights, only a huge, tyrannical bureaucracy that wants you to only think thoughts the government approves of.

What we've learned this week only scratches the surface, and this scandal is going to keep on getting worse and worse and worse for all the utopians out there who believe that letting the government do everything for you is a nifty way to run a country. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here's a screenshot of the actual IRS letter:




Proud moment in Chicago

2013-05-13T02:46:18.973-05:00

My grandfather - Henry Droogsma - was a very devout man who, with my grandmother Anna, raised eight children on a farm outside of Princeton, Minnesota. He spent his entire life attending the Christian Reformed Church of Pease, Minnesota - a place I wrote about here - and I'm told that he had hopes that someday one of his children might feel a calling to the ministry. That didn't happen, although I believe my father and all of his siblings served in various church capacities over the years....Sunday school teachers, board members, elders, deacons, mission trip leaders, etc.

Those eight Droogsma kids produced 30-some offspring - my first cousins - and again, while many of us have served the church in various ways, none of us ever went so far as to attend a seminary, obtain a divinity degree and enter the ministry. Sorry, grandpa.

(image)
Todd and Erin
The next generation, however, has done right by Grandpa Droogsma. My cousin's children - and I can't even generate an accurate guess as to how many people that encompasses - have found a remarkable number of ways to be involved in Christian ministry. My own daughter, Erin, graduated from North Park University in Chicago with degrees in both Youth Ministry and Bible and Theological Studies. But we've never had an actual seminary graduate - a Master of Divinity - until this past weekend.

Penny and I were able to go to Chicago this weekend and watch Erin's husband, Todd Spieker, graduate from North Park Seminary. A bright, personable kid from Colorado Springs, Todd graduated with honors, and he and Erin are currently in the process of interviewing with a couple of different churches that are considering calling Todd to be their pastor. I found the graduation ceremony to be a very moving experience, with about three dozen young men and women accepting their degrees and accepting a charge to go out into the world and preach the love of Christ. I admit to choking back a few tears, and having a lump in my throat, more than once.

 And while I realize that an "in-law" is not a direct descendant, I have to believe Grandpa Droogsma would have enjoyed the moment very much.



May 3, 2013, the day on which I make my triumphant return to the blogosphere

2013-05-03T01:38:20.994-05:00

Hello everyone - First of all, an abject apology for what has become several months of blogging silence. I wish I had a great excuse, like I was busy in the lab curing cancer, or Bobby Hull called and wanted to hang out for a few weeks, or I was hot on the trail of Nicole and Ronald's real killers, but the fact is I have no excuse.

Despite my slothfulness, I continue to get emails and phone calls and friends poking their finger in my chest, all saying, "Start writing again." And so I will. I promise. But not until after I simply post this picture, which I stumbled on to tonight and which gives me great pleasure.

See you soon.

Droogs




The Jackson Family tree

2013-02-22T00:43:15.207-06:00

Yesterday, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. pleaded guilty to converting campaign funds to personal use, and will likely face substantial prison time when he is sentenced in June. The list of things he bought with about $750,000 in campaign funds is almost comical - $7,000 for an elk head, $320 at a Build-A-Bear store, $4,600 for one of Michael Jackson's old hats - and you can read more of the details in this New York Times account.But I'm not here to revel in the failings of another. Instead, the story of Jr.'s downfall reminds me of a story I was once told about his wretched father, the "Rev." Jesse Jackson. The old man has been poison in the American political system for decades, a race hustler of the worst kind who has conned and extorted businesses and organizations out of millions of dollars over the years by threatening boycotts and demonstrations, all in the name of "civil rights."I came to know a businessman who had a number of successful stores in the Chicago area in the 1970s. (I'm not going to use his name because I've never asked permission to tell his story.) One day he was approached by the "Rev." Jackson, who claimed to be very "disturbed" that my friend was running a successful chain of businesses, but didn't have enough black managers or employees to make Jesse happy. Jesse intimated that this situation would need to change, or else there could be "trouble" ahead.My friend - not well-versed in the Jackson shakedown method - took Jesse at his word, and set to work designing a plan that would make it possible for a number of black would-be entrepreneurs to enter the business. My friend would identify possible locations, make a personal loan to provide a down payment, and work with a local bank to guarantee loans that would allow the individuals to open a franchise. It was a pretty ambitious plan.He summoned Jesse to his office and laid out the plan, which would have allowed for black ownership of successful businesses and increased black employment in the Chicago area.Jesse had no interest in the plan. What he wanted, he said, was a substantial cash contribution to his organization - PUSH, or the Rainbow Coalition, or whatever scam he was currently running - and all of the problems would go away.About that time, the light bulb went off over my friend's head as he realized that Jesse's agenda had nothing to do with improving the lives of blacks; The only agenda item was lining Jesse's pocket. He more or less told Jesse to get lost - essentially calling his bluff - and Jackson slinked away.Years later, Jackson's methods were exposed in the book "Shakedown," which documented the many ways Jesse leveraged alleged racial grievances to steal money from the government, businesses andcharitable organizations. The book is still in print, and is a terrific read.(Fun part of the book: Jesse loves to tell the story of how he wanted to play quarterback at the University of Illinois, but says he was told by the coach that "blacks can't play quarterback." Except that it turns out that Illinois DID have a black quarterback that year, just one who was more talented than Jackson.)(Another fun part of the book: The morning after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, Jesse flew to Chicago to appear on the "Today" show, wearing a shirt that he said was stained with the blood of Dr. King, who "died in my arms." The fact is that Jesse wasn't even on the balcony when King was shot (he was down below, in the parking lot) and he never got close enough to have been bled on by Dr. King. But he created his own myth, and told the [...]



One of my favorite days of the year

2013-02-04T00:41:46.751-06:00

Every day there are fewer and fewer people alive who can say they've been around for every Super Bowl, the 47th of which will kick off in a few hours. I'm happy to be one of them and, obviously, I hope I'm still able to say that when Super Bowl LXX rolls around.The first Super Bowl wasn't even called the "Super Bowl." On January 15, 1967, the champions of the National Football League - Green Bay - and the champions of the American Football League - Kansas City - met in what was called "The AFL-NFL World Championship Game." In 1966, the two rival leagues had agreed to a merger, but the entity wouldn't become a single league until the start of the 1970 season. In the meantime, they would operate as separate leagues, but would each send a representative to this new-fangled "Championship Game."(Some time later, the story goes, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle's young daughter was playing with a toy known as a "Super Ball." Rozelle heard the name of the toy, and decided the championship game would be known as the "Super Bowl." If you go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, you can see young Ms. Rozelle's Super Ball on display.) What I remember most is that the game was broadcast on two channels. CBS (Channel 4 in the Twin Cities) had the NFL broadcast rights, while NBC (at that time Channel 5) had the AFL rights. With no agreement in place, both networks decided to carry the game, and 10-year-old Tim Droogsma thought it was great fun to switch back and forth between channels and see the exact same thing happen from different camera angles. (Though I had to kneel in front of the TV and manually turn a knob to change the channel, remote controls having not yet been invented. Yes, kids, I'm THAT old.)That sort of dual-track approach applied to a number of aspects to the game. When Kansas City had the ball, they used the AFL football, made by Spalding, and when the Packers had the ball, the NFL football, manufactured by Wilson, was put in play. The officiating crew was partly NFL refs, partly AFL.It was close for a while, but the Packers eventually pulled away. Played at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the game wasn't even a sellout.Over the years, of course, the NFL's popularity exploded, as did that of the Super Bowl, which grew to become the global event it is today. I can't say that I've watched every minute of every game, but I've certainly watched parts of every one. The only one I attended in person was Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, at the Metrodome. A friend arranged for me to work for UPI that week, so media credentials got me into good parties - I met both Donald Trump (with Marla Maples on his arm) and Jill Goodacre that week - and on Sunday I was assigned the job of writing the story on whomever was selected as the game's MVP. The Washington Redskins trounced Buffalo, and midway through the 3rd quarter Washington led 24-0 and it was obvious that Redskins QB Mark Rypien would be the MVP. The story practically wrote itself, and all I had to do was plug in a couple post-game quotes. The halftime show included Dorothy Hamill skating little circles on some synthetic ice, and Gloria Estefan doing some singing. I sometimes still wear my Super Bowl XXVI sweatshirt, much to my family's chagrin.But what I've grown to love about the Super Bowl is not so much the game itself as it is the spectacle of it all. I see the Super Bowl as a celebration of everything American. Sure, other nations can compete with us in baseball or basketball or hockey, but football is the uniquely American game. And wh[...]



Journalists behaving badly (part 1)

2013-01-19T02:15:31.645-06:00

Over the years that I have held a job or two that, in retrospect, I find embarrassing. For example, my sophomore year of college I worked for PBS. My defense is that I was young, naive and it was the job assigned to me by the folks running the work study financial aid program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. "Public broadcasting," I now know, is a gigantic fraud, a wasteful black hole of government spending and I stopped putting my stint on the liberal plantation on my resume years ago, lest my shame be more widely known.Lately, however, I've begun to believe that what I should be even more embarrassed about is having once been a journalist.It's been a tough few weeks for journalists, partly because of the way the issue of guns causes knee-jerk bedwetting among reporters and editors.Example #1 is NBC's chief clown, David Gregory, who hosts "Meet the Press" every Sunday. In late December, National Rifle Association vice-president Wayne LaPierre appeared on the show to discuss gun control. Gregory thought he would play "gotcha" by waving a high-capacity rifle clip in LaPierre's face and asking why such clips shouldn't be banned.But it turns out that in Washington, D.C., where Meet the Press is taped, it's illegal to possess such clips. It's a stupid law that does nothing to improve public safety, but it's still the law. And it turns out the Gregory knew it was illegal to possess the clip, his staff having asked D.C. police if it was okay. They were told no, but went ahead anyway.Gregory clearly should have been prosecuted for a willful, blatant violation of the law, but NBC lawyers found a prosecutor who was a social acquaintance of Gregory's, and got him to decline prosecution.The message is clear: Big-time journalists consider themselves above the law, and can pull strings to avoid punishment for their crimes. The tiny shred of journalistic integrity NBC had - this is the network that faked a truck explosion to attack General Motors, and that altered a 911 tape to make George Zimmerman sound racist - was demolished by Gregory's action.About the same time, a suburban New York newspaper called the Journal News rounded up the names and addresses of everyone in their area that had a legal gun permit, then posted an interactive map on its web site allowing anyone to identify the homes of those permit holders. It was an unconscionable invasion of privacy, and put lives at risk. Among those who had their names and addresses published were - just to mention two groups - such folks as:  -- Law enforcement officers, who could now be found by criminals they had arrested;  -- Women who were hiding from abusive spouses or partners, and had a gun for self-defense;Some enterprising bloggers responded brilliantly, tracking down the home addresses and phone numbers of the Journal News publisher, editor and staff and publishing them on the Internet. That resulted in a number of very direct complaints to the paper's employees, and the anti-gun paper responded in the most hypocritical way possible: Hiring armed guards for their offices.Predictably, a number of area homes were burglarized by criminals looking for guns, who - thanks to the Journal News - no longer had to guess where their best chance of finding guns was. Yesterday, after a barrage of criticism, the paper finally took the map down.It was a cheap, tacky bit of "journalism" that put lives at risk, and the newspaper's only defense for doing it was "we could."It's enough to make me think I need to get [...]



A modest proposal to save our kids

2012-12-21T16:46:37.555-06:00

Most of America, it seems, is lined up on one side or the other of what we're calling the new "gun control" debate. The fact is that we've been having this debate for decades, and it's pretty much over: Americans have - and will continue to exercise - a constitutional right to own guns. The rest of the shouting, over marginal things like "what's an 'assault weapon'" or "gun show loopholes" (Fact check: There's no such thing) are just a lot of noise.If you want to stop mass school killings, here's how you do it: You post a trained, armed guard in every school in America. Let's think about the mechanics and cost of that.There are approximately 99,000 schools in America. Across America there are currently about 800,000 trained police officers, along with tens of thousands of former military personnel as well. So finding 99,000 men and women to train as school guards is a snap.And because we only want they very best guarding our children, let's make it a relatively high-paying job. Say, $70,000 a year. Would you be willing to work what would essentially be about a 7:30-3:30 job, about nine months out of the year, for $70K? I think we can find lots of qualified people who would say "yes," particularly when they understand they would be serving to protect the lives of innocent school children.(I realize $70K isn't a big draw in a New York City public school, but there are thousands of rural districts where gun-toting talent can be had for a lot less. It will average out.) So how do we pay for it? 99,000 schools at $70K per school is about $6.9 billion dollars, which seems like a whole big pile of cash. Let's round it up to $7 billion a year. Where can we find that kind of money?Well, first of all, in the grand government scheme of things, it's almost nothing. The federal government spends $1 billion about every 2.5 hours. Multiply that times seven, and we're talking about less than 18 hours of federal government spending, in order to protect every schoolchild in America with an armed guard.But that's overall government spending. Let's look at a few specific places where we might be able to carve out $7 billion to protect school children. - Let's start with everyone's favorite whipping boy, defense spending. We're going to be somewhere around $633 billion in defense spending this year. Could we drop that to $626 billion? It wouldn't be my first choice, but we could probably find the money. - The U.S. Dept. of Energy spends $27 billion a year. Of course, it's never produced a drop of oil or a kilowatt of electricity. All it really produces are regulations that drive up the cost and reduce the availability of energy. Could they continue to push paper for only $20 billion a year? I think so.- Over at the Dept. of Agriculture, they're planning on spending $23 billion this year, and their web site says that their budget "invests $6.1 billion in renewable and clean energy." Hmmm...Couple of questions there: 1) We've been "investing" billions in "alternative energy" firms like Solyndra (bankrupt), A123 Batteries (bankrupt), Beacon Power (bankrupt), Ener1 (bankrupt), Abound Solar (bankrupt) and many others. Should we maybe leave the development of these "alternatives" to the private sector? And are these "investments" really more important than the safety of our schoolchildren? 2) If the Dept. of Agriculture is "investing" billions in alternative energy, what's the Dept. of Energy doing? So it probably seems reasonable to thin[...]



Farewell to a great man

2012-12-12T18:25:01.093-06:00

It was just over a year ago - Pearl Harbor Day, 2011 - that I blogged about my high school history teacher, Pete Finelli, (click HERE to read that piece) and the effect he had on me.

I don't really have much to add to what I wrote back then, but Pete passed away earlier this week, and I couldn't let that go by without trying to add a few words.

He lived to age 84, was married to the lovely Lucille for 61 years, and really lived a remarkable life. A gifted athlete, he was signed by the New York Yankees and pitched in their minor league system for a time. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, and the same year I was born - 1956 - he became a history teacher in my hometown of Princeton.

As I wrote a year ago, our mutual love of history and sports helped us bond and he became more than simply a teacher; He was a genuine friend and mentor who helped my get my career as a sportswriter off the ground. He did play-by-play for the local radio station, and took me under his wing, first as a stat guy, and later as his color man, and we did broadcasts together across Minnesota, from Braham to Bloomington to New Ulm. I remember traveling many of those miles in his classic Ford Country Squire station wagon, listening to story after story after story and receiving a graduate-level education in sports history.

Later in life, he and Lucille took teaching jobs in Hawaii, and he served as a volunteer tour guide at Pearl Harbor, a site he loved and knew more about than almost anyone. I can only imagine what a treat it must have been for a tourist to get him as a guide.

They retired to Rochester, where he passed away Monday. He had been ravaged by Alzheimer's in recent years, and it was just a month or so ago that I asked his daughter, Pam, about coming down to visit him. She gracefully encouraged me NOT to do so, because the disease had taken such a toll on him, and she said I'd be better off remembering him in earlier times. I heeded her advice, but still feel badly about not getting a chance for a final good-bye.

Pam posted the news of his passing on Facebook, and it's a tribute to Pete's popularity that more than 80 people have left comments. What struck me reading the comments was this: While I feel fortunate and special to have had him as a friend, there are countless fellow Princeton grads who feel the same way. He taught history with a genuine passion, and thousands of us passed through his classroom and were touched by that passion.

Pete's family donated his body to Mayo's Alzheimer's research center, so even in death, he will continue to teach.

Farewell, my friend, and rest knowing that you leave behind many, many people who feel that their lives were made better by knowing you.





Bo knew....

2012-12-09T04:35:04.367-06:00

Last post I made reference to the fact that Bo Jackson and I share a birthday, and I referred to him as possibly the greatest athlete of all time. Fame being fleeting, there's probably a generation that doesn't know much, if anything, about Bo, so here's just a little reminder.

Six years younger than me, Bo came out of Alabama and was drafted by the New York Yankees ouit of high school. Instead, he chose to play college football for Auburn, where he won the Heisman Trophy and rushed for over 4,000 yards. After his senior year, at the NFL combine, he was timed at 4.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash, to this day the fastest combine time ever.

He also played baseball at Auburn after his last year of football, batting .401 with 17 home runs. But he was still considered largely a football player, and that was reinforced when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him the first overall pick in the NFL draft.

He chose, instead, to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals, and by 1989 he was the MVP of the All-Star game, launching a 440-foot home run in his first All-Star at-bat.

After the 1987 season, the Oakland Raiders convinced him to play football after the baseball season was over. The NFL became Bo's "hobby" (his word), and he scored 18 touchdowns over his four NFL seasons while becoming a Pro Bowler.

But the stats don't tell the story. The story became the stories about what Bo could do. His mammoth home runs. His cannon of a throwing arm. The way he ran over linebackers. The way he could break a bat over his knee, or over his helmet. Once, while batting, he turned to ask the umpire for time, but time was not granted because the pitcher was already into his delivery. Unfazed, Bo turned back toward the mound, saw the ball was on its way and hit it over the left-field wall for a homer.

My personal favorite moment came in 1990 in Baltimore, when Bo was tracking down a fly ball and finally caught it just a few feet from the wall. Instead of running into the wall as a mere mortal would, Bo just ran UP the wall, got his balance and came back down. (You'll see it about 1:05 into this video below.)

A hip injury suffered in an NFL game finally brought him down but as this video will show you, there was almost nothing Bo couldn't do. There's no doubt in my mind he was the best athlete of the 20th century, and I don't know if the 21st century will produce a better one. Enjoy the video.


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