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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016
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See ya Tuesday (08/27/16)
My apologies, but no column this week. Scheduling just didn't let it happen. Feel free to blame my time management skills. That's probably fair. But, if I wrote a rushed column, it'd likely be even worse than last week's. Nobody wants that. I'll have something worthwhile (hopefully) to say in Tuesday's paper...
Finishing the race (08/26/16)
Thursday evening, the Spencer Cross Country teams kicked off their campaigns, hosting a large event at the Spencer Municipal Golf Course. The meet was held in conjunction with a special pink-out effort to raise breast cancer awareness. Music, pink shirts, some refreshments and an evening where foot traffic took over the local links...
Journey's end (08/26/16)
It is one thing to know you will never be able to attain your highest goal in life, but another entirely to be told you will never be able. Joining the military was a lifelong dream of mine. Everything I have done since I understood what the military does was done to prepare myself...
Fair time (08/25/16)
The Clay County Fair will begin in two weeks! The fairgrounds is an increasingly busy hub of activity as the day draws near. People have various thoughts on the Clay County Fair: -- Oh I hate it! It's noisy, and dusty, and concerts and the fireworks drive my pets crazy. ... I don't like the greasy food -- I don't need to eat anything on a stick for heaven's sake -- I am trying to reduce fried foods in my diet, and I always buy something I don't need!...
CommStock Report (08/25/16)
I was a little surprised to see former Iowa state legislator and former U.S. Senate candidate Bob Krause, copy my Ethanol Plan E Challenge from a couple years ago, but I will forgive that as it was going toward a good cause ... expanding ethanol consumption. ...
Ring the bell, school's in (08/24/16)
The schools are filling up once again. It's August. When I was in grade school, I always remembered looking at the old Scholastic brand calendars that literally every teacher had. There was a thematic picture to go with each month. August was just a group of children going to school. ...
Looking for stories of everyday heroes (08/22/16)
In the news business, we are often called upon to write stories that cover tragic events, or pen news items about folks on the wrong side of the law. We get called out from our homes, cameras in hand, to take photos of a fire, or to report on an accident...
An apple for Iowa teachers (08/22/16)
It's back to school season. Some parents may be relieved that the summer is drawing to an end and their children will soon be out of the house and back in the classroom. But more importantly, back to school time is an opportunity to reflect on the impact education has on the lives of our children. While we should keep working to improve educational outcomes for all students, the opportunity for children to get an education is easy to take for granted in our country...
Let's Talk About It (08/19/16)
By Bill Kersting Single-sex schooling might not be a topic on everyone's mind these days, but it was the subject of discussion in a recent USA Today piece. It seems that Washington, D.C., will open an all-boys high school next week, geared exclusively toward the needs of young African-American and Hispanic men. ...
An end to bullying doesn't depend on state dollars, it depends on kids (08/19/16)
I'm convinced that nobody understands this bullying thing. Last September, Gov. Terry Branstad joined Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and signed Executive Order 86 during a dedication ceremony at Arthur Elementary School in Cedar Rapids. The ceremony dedicated a "Buddy Bench" to recognize the bullying prevention work of Isaac Taylor, a middle school student who has been working to raise money to install Buddy Benches on at least 17 additional school playgrounds in the Cedar Rapids area to foster friendship.. ...
It's back ... sort of (08/19/16)
I smelled the unmistakable aroma of football practice pads Friday afternoon, and, I gotta say, it got me a little pumped up. Sure, my abdomen lurched for a second, and I made sure to tell those guys they smelled like a dirty sock crawled inside an armpit which died from the infestation but spawned some sort of sock/armpit hybrid that travels the earth punching people in the nose. ...
CommStock Report (08/18/16)
I listened to Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Patty Judge tell a cable news network why she should replace Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley in the U.S. Senate. Judge is a farm girl and former state secretary of agriculture and lieutenant governor. Grassley is older but she is not a spring chicken as she will be 73 just ahead of the election in November. ...
Rio takes gold (08/17/16)
The Olympic games will draw to a close this Sunday and the East German judge is still struggling to decide whether Sochi or Rio has earned the gold for the most outrageous Olympic games. There are plenty of factors to consider. There were wild dogs in the streets of Sochi. ...
Try a little kindness (08/15/16)
Youngsters are enjoying the last bittersweet days of summer, and evenings are growing cooler. The sunsets seem almost golden, hearkening to the harvest season just around the corner. So many of my friends on Facebook are describing the process of helping children move back to college or buy school supplies. Past that stage of life now, I've been thankful for the distraction of the Olympics this year to occupy my mind...
Clover Corner (08/15/16)
Entries have been received to our office for the 4-H/FFA livestock shows at the Clay County Fair. There has been a lot of data entry over the last few weeks, along with laughs and eating chocolate to get us through. We are so very excited for the 2016 Clay County Fair. Today, I have guest writer Richard Jauron, who is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturist, discussing the proper care of peonies...
The scout, the coat and the antique store (08/13/16)
Boy Scouts are very militaristic in the way we operate. From our uniforms to our chain of command, it all seems to derive from the military. When you think about how many Boy Scouts go on to join the military, it makes perfect sense. I often wonder if it happens so often because we stick with what is familiar...
The spirit of competition (08/13/16)
Well we're about halfway into the 2016 Olympics, and as a sports enthusiast, it's really about all you can ask for. The performances, in particular those by the American athletes, have been outstanding to say the least. From the amazing iron man -- or iron lung -- capabilities of the age-defying Michael Phelps in the swimming pool as he continues to add to his medal collection to aquatic star teammates and fellow water frogs; from the first American gold in Rio -- won by 19-year-old Ginny Thrasher in the obscure -- and previously unbeknownst to me -- 10-meter air rifle competition to the comeback cycling mom, Kristin Armstrong who too took top honors; from Kayla Harrison who demonstrated that age is no boundary as she claimed the top of the medal stand in the women's judo competition at 78 kg. ...
So long, A-Fraud (08/13/16)
This isn't what I wanted to title this column. Not only because it's somewhat misleading since Alex Rodriguez is currently tabbed to be a special adviser for the Yankees and could get signed by any other club hoping to give itself little to no help offensively, defensively or in the public eye but also because I'd much rather entitle this column in a much more colorful fashion. Internet colorful...
The CommStock Report (08/11/16)
California's low carbon fuel standard discriminates against corn feedstock ethanol based on the inaccurate assumption that growing corn in the U.S. results in land change, adding crop production acres converted from Cerrado releasing carbon in Brazil. This assumption is bogus and has been disproven by university studies, but is still adhered to by the California Carbon Board...
Hold your own (08/10/16)
The news cycle is a funny thing. This is especially true with opinion columns. You see something Tuesday. You write about it on Wednesday. People read about it on Thursday. You might almost wish for something amazing to happen right in front of you at noon on Wednesday so your column would be fresh and relevant. Better yet, if you knew what was going to happen on Wednesday, you could write it in advance. That's pretty rare. I just happened to catch a break...
Court is adjourned (08/10/16)
It's time to say goodbye. I have had a few good months here at the Spencer Daily Reporter being the intern and soaking up all the information I possibly can about the world of journalism and I can't express how thankful I am to have had Randy, Paula, Seth, James and even at times grumpy Nate there to teach me some of the lessons that I will be sure to take back with me when I get back to Ames for school...
Olympics a respite from the real world (08/08/16)
It's been the summer of our discontent for the nation. The political heatwave, pumped up with a side order of racial tension and general late summer malaise has put many of us in a funk. It's pretty easy to imagine moving to a remote island, with a few good books and no other people. The very word "politics" causes my temples to throb...
The Olympic Lames (08/05/16)
Well, it's been four years since the last time any of us cared about competitive swimming, diving and gymnastics, so it must be that triumphantly nationalistic time known as the Olympic Games. Don't feel bad if you haven't taken the time to keep up on America's best trampoline jumpers or our country's finest equestrian dressers. ...
Let's Talk About It (08/05/16)
These days, YOLO (you only live once) and BOGO (buy one get one) are popular acronyms in our culture. On the one hand, you might as well go ahead and jump into that risky financial venture because you know you only live once, and we sure don't want life to pass us by. ...
The power of the party (08/05/16)
On Friday, I received an email from Will Jones, chairman of the Clay County Republican Party, copying me on a letter sent to Iowa District 1 Sen. David Johnson, I-Ocheyedan. The letter (see story on Page 1A) is signed by all five Republican county party chairs in District 1 and basically condemns Johnson's decision and subsequent announcement that he is renouncing his affiliation with the Republican Party a few weeks back...
Randy's Review: 'War Dogs' (08/25/16)
Based on the true story of Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, "War Dogs" is the story of a pair of long-lost childhood friends who reunite at an acquaintance's funeral and following their "reunion" join forces to become international arms dealers. Told with the addition of first person narration throughout -- provided by Packouz (Miles Teller) -- "War Dogs" is a very entertaining and interesting indictment of the American system for bidding military weaponry...
Randy's Review: 'Sausage Party' (08/18/16)
If you feel the urge to go lay down your hard-earned cash on "Sausage Party" and a little voice in your head encourages you to walk on by, don't walk ... RUN. Tuck that money back in your pocket and flee immediately. This animated tale from the mind of Seth Rogen and friends opens with an expletive-filled musical number where the food sings about being taken from their spot on the Shopwell's shelf by the gods (shoppers) to the "great beyond" (outside the store's front doors). ...
Randy's Review: 'Suicide Squad' (08/11/16)
Take a group of of hardcore criminals and crazies who are locked away in the deepest holes and most secure institutions known to protect mankind from their mischief and misdeeds and turn them loose as part of a government covert program and you've got the "Suicide Squad."...
Randy's Review: 'Jason Bourne' (08/04/16)
After a one-"Bourne" hiatus from the film series, Matt Damon is back where he belongs, looking a bit older and haggard, as Jason Bourne, the CIA's clandestine black ops specialist turned rogue target who always seems to get drawn back into the mess despite his best attempts to remain off the grid...
Randy's Review: 'Star Trek: Beyond' (07/28/16)
Battling demons from his past, associated with his father's legacy and finding his own identity in the federation fleet, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is forced to put those emotions aside as he and the crew of the USS Enterprise are charged to navigate the previously unexplored nebula and investigate a distress call (does the Enterprise get any other kind) from an alien craft...