[Spencer Daily Reporter nameplate] Fair ~ 72°F  
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Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014
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.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge spreads like wildfire (08/20/14)
We live in a world connected by the Internet. We can't see the connections, but we know they are there. We use social media to keep up with friends close to home and on the other side of the world. We may even have friends or followers we haven't ever met...
Oh, what a party! (08/18/14)
Travelers on Grand Avenue Friday evening would be excused for taking their eyes off the road a bit more than is advised. After all, you don't see West Leach Park populated by a sea of white-attired party-goers every day. The inaugural Soiree en Blanc Spencer transformed a large area of the park (sorry disc golf players, for dining in your fairway!) into a surprisingly intimate, thoroughly classic, formal picnic. ...
Clover Corner (08/18/14)
It's happening. Fair preparation is officially underway. Our office has kicked into high gear and we are all busy preparing for the 2014 Clay County Fair. As the entire community begins to plan for the nine days of fun and excitement, we do not want anyone to miss out. ...
Service, danger and hostages (08/15/14)
My son Hunter left for the U.S. Marines on Monday. His mother and I, along with our three children still at home, traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, to see him off. While there, we had an opportunity to hear from the commander out of Des Moines who oversees the various recruitment centers in Iowa and Nebraska. This guy was Mr. Marine. Big buff guy. Walked with confidence. Exuded authority...
Pump the brakes (08/15/14)
I don't claim to be the world's No. 1 racing fan, but this much I know to be true. If you have a choice between watching a live race and watching one on television, you're going outside. Between the sights, the smells and the noise (THE NOISE!!!), there's just no way you can take in the full racing experience through a screen...
Through darkness, into light (08/15/14)
Every time a celebrity dies, my husband and I have a conversation about which "famous" people would truly affect us with their death. When I learned Monday evening that Robin Williams had passed away, I texted Nic with the news, and he texted back, "That may be the first famous death I actually care about."...
A unique color for a unique purpose (08/15/14)
Growing up in a small town has its benefits. I'm not sure if I really appreciated them until I had kids of my own. One of the drawbacks there was that there were only so many things you could do around town before getting bored. Most parents reading this know what I'm talking about -- by the way, is it time for school to start again? You can only play whiffle ball so long ... ...
CommStock Report (08/14/14)
I have pointed out that given the record corn crop that we are producing, that we will need to find 600 million bushels of new corn demand in order to hold corn prices up to breakeven cost of production price levels. I have also pointed out that were U.S. ...
Volunteer Network (08/13/14)
Some exciting new volunteer opportunities are in the works for Clay County groups and individuals of all ages, skills and time constraints. Thanks to a recent grant from the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, Volunteer Network of Clay County is launching three new programs focusing on weatherization, disaster preparedness, and veterans assistance and appreciation...
Summer days are fading fast (08/11/14)
We all have our own internal calendars, with personal touchstones, which signify the changing seasons of life. The physical calendar matters less than the events which mark the passing of time. The July to August calendar shift means less to me than the arrival of the Iowa State Fair. That means it's back to school time...
Gas cramps on my mind ... and other's minds too (08/08/14)
I've brought this up a few times lately, specifically on Facebook and apparently I'm not the only one wondering. Why such a huge discrepancy between Spencer and Storm Lake in gas prices? Last week, a friend of mine -- call him a "Gas Road Warrior" -- sent me a personal photo from a gas station in Storm Lake which suggested $2.95 a gallon for Super Unleaded fuel. ...
Who let the dogs out (08/08/14)
When my husband and I first started dating (about three years after we had met) we didn't have to do much "back-tracking" -- the series of conversations you have in a new relationship to get to know each other. We already knew each other, we were best friends...
CommStock Report (08/07/14)
I recently spent two weeks in China with my Executive MBA group, in an attempt to gain better insight on what makes China's economy tick. China represents the world's largest car market. There is virtually every major car brand in the world in China, with over 125 brands represented in total. ...
Thank you (08/06/14)
Last Thursday at Mainstreet Market, I had an unusual encounter. It was unusual in that it has never happened before. While waiting to talk to a vendor, I was asked for my autograph. I understand writing for a newspaper makes you a minor celebrity in the community, in that everyone knows who you are, but I never expected be ever asked for my autograph...
Volunteer Network of Clay County (08/06/14)
Participate in the Volunteer Network of Clay County (VNCC) Day of Service. The VNCC and Safe Routes to School are teaming up to paint fresh tiger paws on sidewalks for the Tiger Trails program. Tiger Trails are preferred routes that students can use to actively get to each elementary school in Spencer by following the tiger paws pointing in the direction of the school. ...
Not so Little League (08/06/14)
I cover sports for a living, and I'm lazy, so I go to work in the afternoon. There are plenty of positives from this lifestyle. For instance, I slept until noon today. (By which I mean Wednesday, but if you want to assume I did it today today, like, Thursday, that's perfectly fine and likely accurate.)...
Flood of candidates has begun (08/04/14)
They're baaacccckkkkk! With 825 days remaining until Americans go to the polls to select our next president, hopefuls are booking flights to Des Moines and learning the back roads to get from Keosauqua to Rock Rapids. By this time next week, there will be a traffic jam of White House hopefuls lined up to get a selfie with the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair...
Better than the game? (08/01/14)
Something strange happened to me this July, and I'm still unsure of how to deal with it. It's a little bit scary, but at the same time exciting. Plus, who knows it might just be a phase. (I hope so....or maybe not. I really have no idea.) Between all of the NBA offseason moves which I've thoroughly covered and the MLB trade deadline, I think I might have officially become a bigger fan of what's going on in the front office than what's actually happening on the field. ...
I am not an invalid (08/01/14)
I'm over the 30-week hump (gasp! Where did the time go?) and I started thinking back over these last seven months of my pregnancy. I no longer remember what I looked like with a relatively-flat stomach, because this is how my body looks now. It didn't come on all at once (though sometimes it feels like it did), but over time. And I adjusted to my new look and physical situation...
Ask a Trooper (08/01/14)
Q: What does the zero tolerance law actually mean when it pertains to under age 21 drinking and driving? If the law is 0.02 (for zero tolerance) does that mean a teen (under 21) can have some alcohol in their system and not receive a zero tolerance as long as they are under 0.02?...
Understanding the phenomenon that is 'Sharknado' (08/01/14)
What's behind the phenomenon of "Sharknado?" Don't try to answer. There is no answer. Such great mysteries can never be truly explained, only philosophized about. So please allow me to add my philosophical take. Wednesday night, nearly 4 million viewers tuned in to watch the sequel to arguably one of the worst made-for-TV movies ever. Myself included...
Volunteer Network (07/30/14)
Spencer as a community has always known the benefits of volunteerism. Volunteer Network of Clay County would like to recognize all that you or your organization does to help make Spencer a better place to call home. The Volunteer Network of Clay County would like to track all volunteer hours donated in Clay County. ...
Picture perfect (07/30/14)
In my former apartment, I could do very little in terms of decorating. The entire building was made of concrete and sheet rock, which meant to hang anything large and heavy would require using special screws that my landlord had final approval on placement. Each apartment was also limited to having five screws put in for décor purposes...
Pair plan digital redemptions (07/28/14)
Both Sarah Palin and Paula Deen are launching subscription-based online networks. Apparently, it's a "thing." The two, one a disgraced cooking show maven, the other a politician whose 15 minutes are over, both cited the freedom the new media opportunity offers them to "be themselves." Those who like the uncensored Deen and Palin can, for a fee, have access to their content 24 hours a day...
Clover Corner (07/28/14)
Our county extension office, like most, is deep into fair season. I am sure many of you are wondering, "How is that possible? The Clay County Fair isn't until September!" Well, one of the awesome benefits about being a part of the World's Greatest County Fair is that we get to have more than one showcasing experience. ...
Randy's Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' (08/14/14)
Chalk it up to bad timing. For a second straight week, a movie based on comic book characters exploded onto the big screen and it's just unfortunate for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" it had to do so in the wake of "Guardians of the Galaxy." The visuals, writing and overall excellence of "Guardians" is way too much for the reboot of the TMNT. ...
Randy's Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' (08/07/14)
Wow. That's my one-word review of "Guardians of the Galaxy." And I would leave it at that, but my boss might be a little unhappy with all the remaining white space so please allow me to elaborate. Let me begin by saying, I was the biggest skeptic when Marvel initially announced its desire to bring this rag-tag space hero team, including a talking, butt-kicking raccoon and large tree stump, to the big screen. ...
Randy's Review: 'Lucy' and 'Hercules' (07/31/14)
Had a chance to catch a pair of "one-name" releases last week. One which I was really anticipating and the other which I had rather low expectations. A preview showing of "Lucy" proved to be the use of 90 minutes which I will never get back. I had such high hopes for this science fiction thriller, but in the end, it turned out to be simply ridiculous. ...
Randy's Review: 'Sex Tape' (07/24/14)
Jason Segel co-wrote and stars in a film that's apparently designed to do a couple of things: showcase that he lost weight and that Cameron Diaz has aged well, and secondly, prove that they both know how to make crude sex commentary and faces. Other than that, this is just another in a long list of disappointing summer comedies...
Randy's Review: 'The Purge: Anarchy' (07/24/14)
So this is the future? Do they ever make a film with a look at the future that doesn't involve corrupt government control of the people and efforts to wipe the poor from society? "The Purge: Anarchy," as the title suggest, jumps right in line with the other apocalyptic visions for our future. ...
Book Review: 'The Truth' (08/14/14)
Many will recognize Michael Palin from "Monty Python" fame; a few may know him from his well-received 1998 novel, "Hemingway's Chair." And while I hope many may remember him in years to come from his latest novel, "The Truth," I feel this novel may be too subtle to become extremely successful...
Book Review: 'Dear Daughter' (08/07/14)
To be completely honest, I'm a little wary of "thriller" novels. And I was a little wary of this one going in. Elizabeth Little, while the author of "Biting the Wax Tadpole" and "Trip of Tongue" -- both nonfiction -- is not an author I'd heard much about prior to this novel...
Book Review: 'Charleston' (07/31/14)
I feel like when she thought of the concept for "Charleston," Margaret Bradham Thornton sat down and drafted an outline for an illuminating and heart-wrenching story of love, history, culture and home. Eliza Poinsett has lived in London for the past 10 years and she has everything she could want out of her life, down to the charming boyfriend and the prestigious job as an art historian...
Book Review: 'Queen of the Tearling' (07/24/14)
If Katniss Everdeen joined forces with King Arthur's Guinevere and Belle from "Beauty and the Beast," I imagine the result would look something like Kelsea, the protagonist and overall heroine in Erika Johansen's "The Queen of the Tearling." At a very young age -- before the beginning of the book -- Kelsea was sent away by her mother to live in isolation under the care of Barty and Carlin. ...
Book Review: 'My family and other hazards' (07/17/14)
At 10 years old, June Melby's schoolteacher parents decided to purchase the Tom Thumb Miniature Golf Course in Door County, Wis. For the next 30 years they drive from their school-year home in Iowa to Wisconsin and run the golf course through the summer. Melby's memoir, "My Family and Other Hazards," begins with the phone call she receives from her mother that they have sold the golf course...
Music Review: 'Three Hearts' (08/14/14)
Dance-pop lumberjack Alex Clare burst into the airwaves about two years ago with his hugely popular single "Too Close." That song is still on the radio, even through the release of his sophomore album, "Three Hearts." There are a few standout tracks on this album, specifically "Never Let You Go" and the remake of "Addicted to Love." On their own, they're good songs, and they'd probably be more successful as singles. ...
Music Review: 'Time Stands Still' (08/07/14)
For those who went to see the LifeLight concert here in Spencer earlier this year, or who have heard Family Force 5 from one of their albums, "Time Stands Still" will not be a surprise. It's more of a good thing, more of the music Family Force 5 has become successful producing...
Music Review: 'X' (07/31/14)
I fell in love with Ed Sheeran at the release of his debut album, "+" two years ago, and I've only enjoyed him more as he's released more music. His sophomore album, "X" picks up where "+" left off, and continues forward with Sheeran's accomplished musicality. I feel like "+" was much more of an experiment, a way for him to try out a few different styles and musical techniques in an effort to find out what was successful and what was overlooked...
Music Review: 'In Technicolor' (07/24/14)
Remember that band Dream Street? They were the off-brand of *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys back when the boy band ruled the pop music scene (and don't deny it, the scene is back. Just ask 1D and The Wanted). Shortly after the boys hung up their matching white jumpsuits and retired their frosted tips, Jesse McCartney went out on his own and tried to prove himself as a serious artist, more like his father and less like the product of his generation he had become...
Music Review: 'Nobody dances in this town' (07/17/14)
It's not hard to miss the musical influences of "He's My Brother, She's My Sister" in listening to their most recent album, "Nobody Dances in This Town." Even from the first track, "Tales That I Tell," the rhythms and melodies are very reminiscent of early rock 'n' roll...