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Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Letters Welcome
The Daily Reporter invites readers to submit "Letters to the Editor" with comments, criticisms, praise and/or questions about local and world issues of public interest. The editor reserves the right to edit or condense all letters. All letters are to be signed. Unsigned letters will not be considered for publication. Readers should also include their address and telephone number to verify the identity of the writer. Addresses and phone numbers are not printed.
Bloggers Wanted
The Daily Reporter is looking for bloggers who wish to share regularly on their particular interests. If you have a unique area of interest or particular topic you would like to weigh in on weekly, email us at news@spencerdailyreporter.com.
Harvesting memories and fruit (07/25/16)
You reap what you sow. I thought about that admonition Sunday as I was out in the garden, so lovingly sown by my husband. He's the sower in our family, and the tender of the crops. He hands off much of the reaping and dealing with the fruits of his labor to me. Our tag-team garden method has worked well for a long time...
Patchwork Quilt (07/25/16)
Spending time with their parents is very important for kids, but spending time with their grandparents can be equally important and beneficial. An article on the website Senior Outlook Today by Tracey Clayton says grandparents can awaken interests and emotions in kids that no other relative is capable of. The connection children can create with someone that much older than them is definitely something that will shape their personalities for years to come...
Democratic Convention should be a gas (07/22/16)
Some of you may think this column stinks, and believe me I understand. But don't shoot the messenger folks, I just report the news. Based on a report from The Hill, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' endorsement of his opponent -- former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been hard for some of his followers to swallow. And even harder for some others to process as they seem to be suffering from complications associated with digesting the news...
A good turn daily (07/22/16)
I once heard a quote that said leadership is about taking a beating and showing up again and again. I believe a leader is someone who does what is right and strives for nothing but what is best for those around them. Unfortunately, we seem to live in a society today where men and women strive to have the greatest wealth or the most extravagant possessions. It is disheartening to hear people brag about the things they own and others will never be able to possess...
Hiding behind the screen
 (07/22/16)
The internet, social media, texting and instant messaging have one thing in common. These tools of communication are great for communicating arrival times, or for a quick "how are you doing" form of communication, but using them for real conversations or hiding behind those screens to troll people is unacceptable...
What fore? (07/22/16)
You may be wondering why a photo of half of Tommy Lee Jones's face from "Batman Forever" is atop this column. Well, sometimes writers hit on a great column idea. Sometimes the column hits you. This week is an exercise in the latter. It was 7 p.m. this past Thursday evening. My buddy and I decided to venture into Mother Nature's recent attempt to make everyone in northwest Iowa lose 5 pounds of water weight in order to get a little practice in for a Saturday golf tournament...
Pain and curiosity (07/21/16)
Sometimes we wonder why there has to be pain. What is the point of discomfort or outright agony? Yet pain is a gift. It is a signal, telling us that something is wrong. Pain is like a gauge that warns us, tells us to take care of ourselves. Either you are not functioning properly, or there is a threat from the outside. Your shoe is rubbing against your foot because you have a bunion. That is a problem of dysfunction. Your hand is on a hot burner -- get it off! That is an external threat...
CommStock Report (07/21/16)
By 2020 who will have more global middle class consumers with incomes ranging from $11,500 to $43,000 ... Europe or China? According to the Economist Magazine, it will likely be China -- currently with 225 million. This middle class did not exist in 2000. ...
Making a gag from a flag (07/20/16)
As Michael Corleone said, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." I'm speaking, of course about politics. But if there's one thing I talk about less than politics, it's sports. After watching the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, my pulse raced and my jaw clenched and so here we are. ...
Bullies have graduated from the schoolyard to the national stage (07/18/16)
Reading a Facebook post from a high school classmate prior to our reunion last weekend I was saddened to hear about her experience with bullying in high school. The post garnered a great deal of attention from classmates who shared their own feelings of being bullied or left out. Others chimed in with support and encouragement, discussing the long-term toll such early experiences have on our lives...
Patchwork Quilt (07/18/16)
In May, Elderbridge was notified by the Iowa Attorney General's Office, Crime Victim Assistance Division that our agency was awarded a Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) grant. According to the award letter, dated May 6, the Crime Victim Assistance Board voted to honor Elderbridge with a grant in the amount of $123,169 annually for a period of three years...
In all fairness (07/15/16)
Legitimate local sporting controversies happen pretty few and far between which makes today's subject all the more compelling. Any high school sports fan has seen enough bad refereeing or umpiring to last them a lifetime, but those complaints frequently come from both ends of the bleachers and are filled with parents' natural bias for preferential treatment for their offspring...
Racial, spiritual healing must start one community at a time (07/15/16)
In the aftermath of the racial outrage related to a pair of police-related shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, followed by the rage-driven sniper assault at a peaceful protest rally in Dallas targeting white police officers that left five law enforcement officers dead -- tensions have been extremely high in many segments of society...
The swim life (07/15/16)
The 2016 Olympics are just around the corner, and I could not be more excited. There are several events that I am highly anticipating, but none more than swimming. As a former competitive swimmer, I find the sport to be extremely interesting, especially on that scale. It will be very interesting to see how the games play out this year...
Pastor's Column (07/14/16)
NBC's sitcom "Parks and Recreation" chronicled the story of the parks department of fictional Pawnee, Indiana. The show oftentimes pokes fun at the bureaucracy that paralyzes governments despite the best efforts of those involved. At one point, the main character Leslie is running for office and is being helped by one of her co-workers, Jerry, to stuff envelopes for mailing. ...
CommStock Report (07/14/16)
I have to admit that I am impressed by how tenacious and committed that the Brazilian legal authorities have been over perusing their campaign called "Car Wash," identifying and prosecuting political corruption in Brazil. In the past, the Brazilian Legislature voted themselves immunity from the law and payoffs and political commercialism was business as usual in Brazil. ...
Paris Green (07/14/16)
Don't worry, Paris Green is not people. As I'm sure all you history buffs already know, it was a specific pigment popular in France during the early 1800s. People all agreed that it was the best color. They dyed their clothing Paris Green. They hung Paris Green wallpaper. Some of the most famous impressionists integrated it into their visual repertoire. Basically, everyone loved this color to death, and everyone agreed it was the best...
Break the camel's back (07/14/16)
I have a co-worker at the retail business where I work on weekends who I noticed was taking breaks more frequently than the rest of the employees on hand. Later that weekend I asked my manager about this habit of my co-worker and she explained the reasoning. It was ludicrous...
Age is just a (pretty high) number (07/11/16)
Usually, I can delude myself with affirmations that "you are only as young as you feel," or "age is just a number." However, there are times when I feel the passing of the years very acutely, and am reminded that, while I feel 35, I'm really not -- at all...
Great healing is needed (07/09/16)
Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Terry Branstad called for all flags in the state to be lowered to half-staff to honor the victims of the sniper attacks in Dallas, Texas. It just goes to show that these incidents don't just effect Dallas, or Texas, but take the breath away from all Americans...
Dopiness (07/09/16)
A professional athlete got popped for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) this week. In other news, the sky is blue, and I still can't dunk a basketball. I realize that opening line is a touch ambiguous. I mean, we live in 2016. Who doesn't get caught with PEDs?...
Fourth of July burns
 (07/09/16)
I was getting out of my car on Monday at the Hy-Vee gas station on Grand Avenue about to get my cup of coffee, when I spot the big neon lit Walgreens' sign from across the street. The sign read: "Don't Forget Your Sunscreen." I can't help but think that it was God calling me out for not using quality sunscreen this Fourth of July weekend...
The great migration (07/09/16)
In 1776 a band of immigrants from Europe declared independence from oppressive rulers in Britain and created the United States of America, a home for refugees and beaten masses. The English Monarchy was an elitist group who decided that because of their birth, they were better than all those who were not born with titles. The men and women suffering the tyranny recognized that no human is better than any other, regardless of sex, race, education or birth...
Let's Talk About It (07/08/16)
Basically what we have here is a sincere effort to make better sense of the world we inhabit, and improve communication where it needs improving. With that in mind, off we go! The pace of our world (though not necessarily that which we observe in northwest Iowa) seems to thrive on things such as sound bites, headlines, summaries, quips and blogs. ...
Soaring (07/07/16)
My wife, Denise, and I recently returned from a vacation to Glacier National Park and Portland, Oregon. We enjoyed an awesome trip with many new experiences and wonderful memories. I'd like to share one with you. We journeyed to Portland to visit our son, Luke, and his wife, Liv. ...
Randy's Review: 'Ghostbusters' (07/21/16)
The idea was intriguing -- replace the four male Ghostbusters with females and give them a dopey male office manager -- and then let the hilarity ensure. And I had extremely high hopes walking through the door and taking my seat, as the cast of ladies offered a promising comedy quartet with three "Saturday Night Live" alumna and perhaps the biggest name in lady's comedy right now. ...
Randy's Review: 'Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates' (07/14/16)
Zac Efron is getting type-cast. Apparently trying to break free of the squeaky clean image which brought him to prominence in Disney's "High School Musical," the good-looking, six-pack sporting star has since put together a string of films where he finds himself as a vulgar 20-something who is pretty much an aging frat boy. ...
Randy's Review: 'The Secret Life of Pets' (07/14/16)
With an amazing voice cast -- Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Hannibal Buress and Albert Brooks along with others -- "The Secret Life of Pets" is one of the year's most entertaining and enjoyable animated offerings. The basic concept of the movie centers around the adventures domestic pets get into while their human owners are away. ...
Randy's Review: 'The Legend of Tarzan' (07/07/16)
The newest incarnation of the Tarzan legend hits the screen, appropriately titled, "The Legend of Tarzan," but the story is set after his return to civilization with flashbacks used to tell his back story. Tarzan, known by his real name of John Clayton III (Alexander Skarsgard), Lord Greystoke in the United Kingdom, is asked to return to the Congo by the British prime minister at the request of Belgium's King Leopold II. ...
Randy's Review: 'Free State of Jones' (07/01/16)
Matthew McConaughey surrenders the comforts his designer suits and newest Lincoln to take on the role of Newton Knight, among the first civil rights activists who emerged during the Civil War. Knight was serving as a nurse in the Confederate Army, attending to the wounded, but had significant issues with the war which he believed was being fought for cotton and slavery. ...
(A few of) my favorite books (05/19/16)
A little secret: I had a book read for review this week. But I thought it would be more appropriate to cover some of my favorite books that I've read and reviewed over the last four and a half years. I'm going with five, in part because that's all of the space I anticipate I'll have. I imagine I've reviewed almost 200 books for the Daily Reporter, however, so my full list is likely a lot longer...
Book Review: 'Nowhere Girl' (05/13/16)
In a vein similar to "The Lovely Bones," Susan Strecker's latest novel examines the relationship between twins, when one twin was murdered 16 years ago and the other one is trying to find out who murdered her. Cady Bernard is visited by her sister, Savannah, in her dreams at night. ...
Book Review: 'Gone Again' (05/05/16)
Jack Swyteck is back at it, and it's life or death. A man named Dylan Reeves is on death row for raping and murdering a young girl named Sashi seven years earlier. So it's a little surprising when Sashi's mother, Debra, approaches Jack and asks him to help exonerate Dylan of Sashi's murder. According to Debra, Sashi is still alive...
Book Review: 'Rogue Mission: A Jordan Sandor Thriller' (04/28/16)
Having never read any of Jeffrey Stephens' Jordan Sandor tales before, I really had no idea what I was in for when I picked up "Rouge Mission," the newest installment in the series, but after having put it down, I can clearly say I'm a Sandor fan and look forward to picking up the next book in the series should Stephens choose to continue with the character -- and I can really see no reason why he wouldn't...
Book Review: 'Carry Me' (04/21/16)
Peter Behrens' latest, "Carry Me," is much bigger of a book than I can describe. I'm still trying to wrap my own head around it, so please bear with me. It's a love story. Billy has been in love with Karin for a long time. In a sense, they grew up together, as friends and also as lovers. ...
(A few of) my favorite albums (05/19/16)
One thing I've really appreciated about this part of my job is the ability to find music I might not have otherwise listened to. Some weeks it's hard to find a new album from a band I recognize, so I have to branch out a little. Here are some of my favorite albums from the last four years, both from bands I've known for a while and bands I've discovered along the way...
Music Review: 'At Night, Alone' (05/13/16)
To be completely honest, I didn't entirely expect what "At Night, Alone" was. Mike Posner, based on my knowledge of his music from Top 40 radio, was a producer with an electronic-dance style of music. He had a pretty popular song a few years ago called "Cooler Than Me," that reminded me of the classic "You're So Vain." Other than that, I really didn't know much...
Music Review: 'Cleopatra' (05/05/16)
I've listened to this album several times over the last few weeks, but I'm listening to it again while writing this column. And, going into this listen and this column, I was completely prepared to wax on about "Ophelia," one of the tracks off this album, and how that song was the flagship of the entire deal for me...
A tribute to music royalty: Prince (04/21/16)
It would hardly be a music column if I didn't recognize one of the great creative icons that passed away yesterday: Prince Rogers Nelson, known simply as "Prince." So, in honor of the legend, here are a handful of his memorable lyrics: "'Cause they say two thousand zero zero party over / Oops, out of time / So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999." -- from "1999"...