Here’s an amendment I’d support!

This came via e-mail today.  This is one amendment to the U.S. Constitution I think I would support in a heartbeat.  Here is the e-mail I received verbatim:

Please be assured that this message is not intended to support any political party.

Statements are facts and the Act states the action many of us U.S. citizens hope will be demanded

as federal law applying to all Senators and Representatives in the United States Congress.

 Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land, all because of public pressure.

I’m asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.
If you participate, in three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. No Tenure / No Pension.
    Members of the United States Congress collect a salary while in office and receive no pay when they are out of office.

2. Members of the United States Congress (past, present & future) participate in Social Security.
   All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.

   All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people; it may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Members of Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Members of Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Members of Congress lose their current health care system; they participate in the same health care system as all other American people.

6. Members of Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.
    The American people did not make this contract with Congress. Congress made all these contracts for themselves.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.

    The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators; those we elect should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If each or you, my friends, will contact at least twelve, and, hopefully as many as twenty people in the U.S. then it may only take three days for most people to receive the message.

 This is the way we can fix congress! Maybe it’s time!

 If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete.

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On a cool summer’s night

Two weeks ago I moved across town on a day when the humidity was as high as the temperature—and that’s saying something.  Oliver the Dog and I sweated it out as did the three young baseball players who spent 45 minutes helping me haul the heavy stuff.  That kind of weather seemed to linger for days, and in fact, it did.  But now it’s August—please don’t call them “the dog days” yet.  It’s cool in the morning; it’s cool in the evening; it’s even bearable in the daytime.  Take that, Dallas-Fort Worth, where it’s been over 100 degrees every day for something like three weeks. 

With a rare night off from a week of tournament baseball—and it’s a good thing because if our team had lost, we’d be playing tonight!—Oliver and I went for our morning walk, went for an afternoon walk, went to the dog park for 45 minutes until he tired of chasing the tennis ball, then just completed our nighttime walk.  As nice as it is, we may go walking again about midnight.

How does one celebrate one’s 40th wedding anniversary when one is no longer married?  Well, of course, you don’t.  You do endure the day, however.  Mine was Sunday, and Sunday was a long day anyway with nothing on the schedule.  I’m not a napper so occupying an afternoon with a two-hour snooze is not my style.  It was a lot of sitting, way too much thinking, considerable dog walking.  In fact, Oliver and I cleared the USD campus of five rabbits (we call ’em “jackrabbits” in deference to our rivals from up in Brookings, but I suspect they’re just little bunny rabbits).  Oliver sneaks up on each unsuspecting bunny, stealthily stepping quietly one paw in front of the other, silently, almost motionless, until he springs from a distance of 10 yards or so.  Of course he never catches one of them, but he enjoys the chase.

There’s still baseball in Vermillion.  Our two amateur teams are both in their state tournaments, but they are a distance away.  Our Teeners—the 15 and 16-year-old bunch who will move up to the Legion team next summer and the high school team next spring—are a super group.  They won Monday, and they won Tuesday in their regional tourney just 15 minutes down the Burbank Road in Elk Point, so they are now on to Thursday’s game.  One win clinches a state tourney berth; two wins mean the regional title as well.  The same group of parents goes to each game, so it’s become a nice “family” to be part of as I’ve covered almost every one of their games since “My Fair Lady” piano duties ended in early July.

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This and that on a holiday weekend

— When I made one of my almost daily pilgrimages to the public library today, there was only one car in the parking lot.  Since the only people indoors were two library employees, the vehicle must belong to one of them.  The library was actually quiet! 

That one guy who is one of my major pet peeves wasn’t there.  He’s the guy who takes not one, not two, maybe three, usually four of the daily newspapers with him to his seat rather than taking one, reading it, returning it, taking another paper, and so on.  He invariably is at the university library when I’m there as well, and he does the same irritating thing there.

Now I feel better.  On to other things.

— As my two granddaughters and their mom came through from Rochester to Pierre on Friday, they stopped at the Perkins restaurant on N. Cliff Ave. in Sioux Falls where I frequently meet them for lunch—a break in the long drive for them, and for me a chance to see them.  Olivia, the third grader, has read all seven of the Harry Potter books, she tells me.  That reminds me of a note I read in Entertainment magazine this week.  Isn’t it amazing that in the eight Harry Potter movies, in the writer’s opinion at least, there wasn’t a lemon in the bunch.  “Also miraculously,” he wrote, “the original cast is still intact, and not one of them has ever pulled a Lindsey.”  That refers, I presume, to Lindsey Lohan?

— The daily newspapers I check out regularly all give readers the opportunity to post blog messages without revealing their identities.  On this day when things seem to be bugging me, that is another of those things.  In the Argus Leader, they’re on the opinion page in the left-hand column; in the Rapid City Journal, they’re at the top of page 2; in the Pierre Capital Journal, they’re on the opinion page.  What a great chance to people to submit digs at others!  I hate it.

— This is an idea which makes too much sense.  And when Congress is involved, common sense is out the window.  There is a website,, whose mission is to obtain signatures on a petition which would amend the U.S. Constitution.  They’re saying it would be “one step, one baby step in the right direction,” and indeed it would.  But constitutional amendments, and rightly so, take years because once Congress gets its lagging butt into gear and does something, a good many states’ legislatures then have to ratify that amendment, and that takes years and years.  This proposed amendment nevertheless would state that no law can embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.  No cramming a hundred and one unconnected measures to a bill, no home-district gems to impress voters, no hidden agendas.  This would add one simple line to the U.S. Constitution.  “If we all take one small step together, we can move our nation forward,” they say.  Correct, but impossible.  I see the Republicans in Congress want to submit a constitutional amendment which would require a balanced budget.  Well, that’s just great!  It looks good on paper, and it sounds good on the campaign trail as they run for re-election and/or try to unseat the sitting President, but that amendment, too, would take years and years.  In the meantime, Congress, you boys and girls done anything lately?

— This weekend the remaining members of our own 200th Engineer Company of the South Dakota National Guard are home in Pierre, Chamberlain and Mobridge areas with their families and friends for three final days before they head to their deployment destination in Afghanistan and environs.  Godspeed to you all!  Can we be so amazingly fortunate in this coming year that every last one of the 200th’s men and women will come home safely just as happened in 2003-04 when they spent a year in Iraq in the first year of the war there?  I pray that is the case.  In the meantime, how fitting that we bid them bon voyage on Independence Day weekend.  What amazing people the Guardsmen are, not only for what they do going overseas but for what hundreds of them have done here in our home state regarding the flooding in the past six weeks.

— As a former English teacher who once upon a time taught grammar back in the days when high school students still were expected to master that subject, I always find it interesting when grammar issues come to the forefront.  Such was the case recently when a furor arose over the Oxford comma.  To use it or not to use it?  To do away with it forever or not?  For those who aren’t aware, the Oxford comma refers to a comma used before a coordinating conjunction, such as in the phrase “red, white and blue” or “red, white, and blue.”  Do you put a comma after “white” or not?  The answer to that question depends on what authority one trusts.

Take this example:  “I went to the game with my friend, Steve and Andrew.”  How many people went to the game then?  Three of you?  Four of you?  Or this example:  “I went to the game with my friend, Steve, and Andrew.”  How many people went to the game in that case?  Three of you?  Four of you?  The comma doesn’t clear up the ambiguity at all.  I hope I never had sentences such as these on grammar punctuation tests back in the school-teaching days of the early ’60s.  Some sharp cookie in my class would have realized that to use the Oxford comma and to not use it could both possibly be correct.

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A little bit of heaven on Earth: Target Field

There was no Morneau, no Mauer, no Nathan, no Span, no Kubel, no Thome—I’m forgetting a half-dozen others, but no matter.  The Twins won anyway, 4-1, Wednesday night over their new favorite patsies, the Chicago Pierzynskis (call ’em the White Sox if you must, but may we please play them again this weekend?).  And I was there, absorbing the sights, sounds, smells and sensations of our own Target Field for the first time.
If there’s a prettier ballpark in the big leagues, which I doubt, I don’t want to hear about it.  Certainly there’s no more fan-friendly ballpark in the big leagues than Target Field.  Our game itself lasted only a phenomenally brief 2 hours, 6 minutes, but we had taken the 90-minute stadium tour earlier in the day and had been at the gates when they opened 1 1/2 hours before game time, so I had my full shot at experiencing the place for the first time.
Having been unable to sleep, in part because my next-door neighbor plays his television set far too loud and in part because I was afraid I would sleep through the alarm, I was wide awake in advance of the 3:20 a.m. time the clock was to ring, so by that time I actually was on the interstate headed toward Rochester.  I was there by 8:15 a.m., passing through four or five rain showers along the way.  Rain, you see, is something Upper Midwest baseball fans take into consideration these days.
Daughter Holly and granddaughters Olivia and Audrey, who all have been in Target Field before, and I were on U.S. 52 headed toward Minneapolis by 9:40 and at the Fort Snelling station on the Hiawatha Lite Rail line by 11:00.  We were at the ballpark well in advance of the 12 noon tour as were some four dozen other people.  Divided into four groups, we departed through the Target Plaza gate and suddenly were inside, but Target Field is so open to the city that a person can sense being inside the ballpark even when standing out on the plaza with the gates locked.
We saw the various clubs where food is served, the press box, the Budweiser rooftop beer garden, the comfy box seats where the season ticketholders sit, the concourses, the numerous displays of Twins memorabilia, and much more.  Along the way our guide provided many tidbits of information and things to see—how the field drains so well, the size of the videoboard, the reason the Twins bullpen is in back rather than in front, the organist’s perch in the Pub, where the official scorer sits, why we don’t smell the nearby city garbage burner, why the ballpark spills over into the airspace above I-394 and the BN railroad tracks, the numbers of Twins legends which have been retired, the significance of the nine light towers that line Target Plaza, the suites that provide the ultimate ballgame experience, photos of every major-league park and every Minneapolis and St. Paul ballpark in history, why a new video board was added to the ballpark for this season, the new clock tower, the actual 1987 and 1991 world championship trophies, the Bert Blyleven “Countdown to Cooperstown” sign, the Harmon Killebrew signature on the outfield wall.
Just as we strode through the press box corridor, passing the doors leading to the broadcast booths, Fox Sports North’s Dick Bremer, the TV voice of Twins baseball, happened by.  Holly and I have a photo with him to prove it!
With time to kill, Holly, the girls and I walked through the downtown skyways, through the IDS Tower’s Crystal Court, through the lobby of Target Center and through Macy’s.  We had lunch at Hubert’s within sight of the ballpark.  We took a break in the outdoor patio at Kieran’s Pub with fellow Pierre native Isaac Vogel and his baby daughter Elsie.  We were chased inside by a sudden thundershower, but we refused to believe the game would be postponed as the previous night’s game was!
Easily a thousand people were lined up at the Target Field gates when they opened at 5:30, but like us many of them had been enjoying the whole downtown experience all afternoon.  It’s certainly part of the charm of the place.
Light rain continued during the first half-hour we were in the ballpark, but sun peeked through at times, too.  Because the field had been covered with a tarp during the 4:00 shower, we got to see the whole tarp removal process.  It’s probably hard work, but being part of that grounds crew would be one heck of a job to have!  
I roamed around quite a bit since the game wouldn’t start till 7:10.  I was struck by how “down-home” and totally “Upper Midwest nice” everyone in Target Field seemed—the tour guide earlier, the tickettakers, the program salesman, the clerk at the Twins store out on the plaza, Dick Bremer himself, the stadium employee sweeping away rain water, the kid who sold me three hot dogs, the usher, the clerk who went from the Twins store on the plaza all the way upstairs to the second-deck Twins store just to get my correct size of a Twins slipover jacket, the group of guys who happened to be seated next to us who offered us some of their peanuts and chips, the fans who without thinking passed items and change back and forth from the vendors in the aisle to the fans 20 seats down the row.
I dare say anyone who complains about how long a baseball game takes and how much inaction there is during a two-hour game would not find that a problem at Target Field.  If nothing else, there is something to watch on the videoboard every minute and between every half-inning.  If nothing else, the sheer beauty of the place is so distracting that it’s easy to lose track of the game itself.
We lucked out and saw an awesome baseball game as well.  Carl Pavano pitched a complete-game gem, the Twins completed four double plays and stole five bases, Danny Valencia and Alexi Casilla came through with clutch run-scoring doubles, and in the top of the ninth with White Sox runners on second and third with one out and the tying run at the plate, Pavano got a strikeout and an infield grounder to end it. 
Despite being part of a crowd of more than 37,000, we were down from the second deck and in line at the Lite Rail station in 10 minutes.  No pushing, no shoving, just jovial baseball fans exercising patience.  An hour later, we had returned to our car at the Fort Snelling station, the girls were already asleep, and we were headed south back toward Rochester.
Now my kids can rest, knowing that I will not die without having seen and experienced Target Field myself.  Thanks to Holly and the girls for a great time and a memorable experience!  I look forward to going back, if not again this season then certainly next season. 
I’ve been hearing for more than a year from all of you who made it to Target Field before me how much I would enjoy it, how beautiful it is, what an overwhelming experience it offers.  But it is so much more than what you said.  It’s no exaggeration to say the place is a little bit of heaven here on Earth, for sure.

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Why hate the Heat? Why not?

So the Miami Triplets arranged things so they could win championships.  They promised 6 or 7 titles.  (Starting when, LeBron?)  And now they lose in the finals with three straight losses, and the other team clinches on Miami’s home court!  How sweet is that!

Some championship-calibre athletes stick with the team that hired them or drafted them and try to win championships.  If they don’t, fine.  If they do, terrific!  Then there are the arrogant ones who think that, for some reason, they DESERVE to win championships because of who they are.  Garnett left the Timberwolves to go to Boston; unfortunately he won his coveted ring there.  LeBron James found some place where he thought he would get his.  Well, look on your ring finger, King James.  No ring there yet!

Hating the Heat is like hating the Yankees.  Why?  Because they exist.

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Did he say this was easy?

My young friend, Jason Ferguson, the general manager of the Chronicle back at the home base in Custer, said via e-mail that setting up my own blogsite would be easy.  Now Jason is young compared to me.  He is one of those who has grown up in the computer generation, so he knows his way around the clicking and clacking and editing and deleting.  I have spent the better part of an hour figuring this out, and if, when I hit “publish” here in a minute or two, these paragraphs show up on my blog as my first post, a miracle will have just occurred.  Well, here goes nothing.

Meanwhile, if you’re so inclined to read my many words which quite often say nothing at all, I hope you will check back here from time to time.

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