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Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014
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Nine days to warm the heart (09/15/14)
It's easy to get jaded, to believe the world's a pretty scary place. It's tempting to think things just aren't as good as they were in the good old days. After all, we've got ISIS, hurricanes, awful news coming from the NFL, Ebola -- the list goes on and on. No wonder we despair; it's hard to find good in the world sometimes...
Not so Good-ell (09/12/14)
Roger Goodell made $44 million last year. He pulled that off four years after he finally acknowledged that there might be some relations between concussions and football. He did that one year after passing the concussion buck onto the Saints, taking away a year of competitive football from a team that played defense more or less like the rest of the league. And, he did it before making the biggest gaffe of his tenure as commish this year in the form of the Ray Rice scandal...
More than just a concert (09/12/14)
I had the opportunity to enjoy the Newsboys and Matthew West in concert Tuesday night with my wife and two youngest boys. In addition to it being a fantastic show -- complete with great sound, high energy and a positive message -- it was a concert with a challenge for its audience...
The people of the fair (09/12/14)
For much of the area, the Clay County Fair is a relatively quiet week at work. Most of the town shuts down during this week. Here at the Daily Reporter, however, we gear up for our busiest week of the year. It always follows relatively the same path. ...
CommStock Report (09/11/14)
U.S. transportation and energy infrastructure systems were often built with use of eminent domain. The power to appropriate private property for purposes considered to be a public use was frankly, necessary in order to build the highways, bridges, pipelines and power transmission lines, ports and airports that commerce depends on today. ...
5 days at the fair, 4 to go (09/10/14)
Well, we are a little more than halfway through the fair. I have been living on the fairgrounds for five days now, and it has been pretty interesting. I have eaten a lot of fair food this week. I love it, but it does not love me. I think I am going to have to eat nothing but salads for a week to soak up all the grease and fat. Why is everything that tastes good so bad for you?...
Appreciating the fair through new eyes (09/08/14)
Old friends and new discoveries. That was the theme of my first weekend of the Clay County Fair. I was thrilled to have a great high school friend of mine back for her first Clay County Fair since our graduation. The occasion? The appearance by one of our all-time favorite bands back in our high school years -- Cheap Trick. That was impetus enough to plan a weekend down memory lane...
A chance to earn his spurs (09/05/14)
Sports provide an avenue for social change. Sometimes that's a good thing that's completely necessary such as Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball in 1947, or Title IX being enacted in 1972, providing females with the opportunity to compete in athletics...
Welcome one and all to our nine-day show (09/05/14)
Well it's been 356 days in the making -- with work beginning a day after we ended last year's event -- and finally it's day one of the Clay County Fair. If you're a regular reader, you're certainly aware of the role the fair plays in Spencer, Clay County and the region at large...
A different kind of fair preparation (09/05/14)
This year's fair prep for me went a little differently than past years. For starters, it began all the way back in February, when I found out I was pregnant (and, more importantly, found out when I was due). Sylvia Plath, in her poem "Metaphors," described a pregnant woman as "A melon strolling on two tendrils." And while I've never related to that metaphor as acutely as I have in the past several weeks, I've definitely been anticipating it...
CommStock Report (09/04/14)
If South American corn producers see substantial reductions in seed prices while multi-national seed corn companies do not plan to voluntarily offer any corresponding seed price reductions to U.S. farmers, that will make the latter less competitive world producers. ...
'Only at the Fair' (09/03/14)
One day left until the Clay County Fair! It is finally upon us. On Saturday, we finally get to enjoy all the hard work and preparation that went in to making this year's fair possible. I would like to take a moment to thank all the wonderful people who put in their time and effort to make this year's fair a reality!...
Ask A Trooper (09/01/14)
Q: I am the owner of a small farm operation in northwest Iowa. We don't have the resources to purchase the newer and larger tractors/combines that you see on the road today. This newer equipment often has a lot of lighting and markings that make them more visible. Do I need to be adding lighting to my older equipment to bring them up to date? What are the minimum standards for tractor lighting?...
Big city attention for local treasure (09/01/14)
My lovely niece has a saying about people she adores -- she calls them "pretty AND popular." Well, the Iowa Great Lakes should be feeling just that this week after the publication of a glowing piece in the New York TImes on Thursday. The travel section feature, written by Anna Bahney, highlighted the family-friendly fun still available in our backyard. ...
The Shaw Sark' Retraction (08/29/14)
People are suckers. I'm sure you aren't, at least not individually, but let a bunch of people start thinking as a group? And you're going to witness some stupidity. It's nothing new. It's happened a thousand times, and it'll happen again. Salem Witch Trials (not a huge group, but still idiots), Bigfoot (for the extra-stupid), the original War of the Worlds broadcast (honestly, somewhat understandable. ...
Just a few things ... (08/29/14)
Does anyone else have a problem with President Barack Obama's behavior following his press conference addressing the ISIS beheading of an American journalist? He gets up behind his presidential podium and delivers what appeared to be a very heartfelt speech regarding the horrific video which went viral of a captured American journalist used as a propaganda tool for these crazed maniacs and continued attacks on life. It was short and to the point...
Ravioli and granola bars and hummus, oh my (08/29/14)
When I woke up this morning, I had full plans to spend the three-day weekend mostly relaxing, maybe doing a little cleaning and definitely reading and writing. Especially with the forecast, I didn't think there would be much of a chance of enjoying activities outside of the house, so I planned accordingly...
CommStock Report (08/28/14)
making biofuel a key component of U.S. energy independence. It would take some kind of really major global conflagration in order to upset the U.S. economy from foreign energy supply disruption. The same can't be said for the rest of the world with Europe, China, Japan and others being far more vulnerable to a global oil shock than the U.S. The risk to the U.S. economy from an oil threat is now more indirect from the disruption it would cause to the world economy...
Magic, time travel, romance, history and Scots (08/28/14)
I don't know how many of you out there have heard of "Outlander," a new series that appears on Starz. I have yet to watch the show, but I have read the book it is based on cover to cover. Before I had even heard of the show, my sister, Heather, highly recommended I read this book that she was obsessed with. ...
Clover Corner (08/25/14)
This week, the Clover Corner is all about the numbers. If anyone knows me personally, you will probably be surprised that I am dedicating an entire article to numbers. I am more of a big picture person, however this time of the year, numbers are exciting...
Many not ready for college success (08/25/14)
I was up before dawn on Monday to take care of some very important business -- snapping the traditional "first day of school" photo of my son beneath the limbs of an apple tree we planted the summer he started kindergarten. Both the tree and the boy have grown tall and strong in the 15 years since that first photo. A junior in college, he's made a successful transition from high school to college, with few struggles in keeping up with the college curriculum...
Cool buckets (08/22/14)
Has it happened to you yet? If it hasn't, it's only a matter of time. Somebody, somewhere will get you. Everybody across the country (or, more accurately, the internet) is slowly succumbing to the numbing realization that a bucket, filled with a generally good thing in August, ice water, is coming...
Disappointed in our Senate candidates (08/22/14)
I'm really disappointed in both the Republican and Democratic Senate candidates this week. Multiple times over the course of the last several weeks, I've reached out to both Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley's campaigns asking each team to consider having their respective candidate participate in a public debate the first Saturday of the Clay County Fair on Sept. 6...
Where did the summer go? (08/22/14)
Memorial Day feels simultaneously like yesterday and like last year. Whenever I think back across the summer, all I can think of is how quickly it's gone by. I've heard similar statements from others, so I'm pretty sure it's not just me. Granted, summer never feels like it drags along, but for some reason this years flew by at a higher speed than most...
The CommStock Report (08/21/14)
Sometimes when I ask a question, I get an answer. The question that I asked was why CENEX would be no better than petroleum companies in expanding the marketing of higher ethanol blends through its extensive system of retail stations? Ironically, CENEX has a picture of a blender pumps on their Web page for renewables fuel but doesn't consider E-15 or higher blends of ethanol to be a "gasoline" in their system. ...
Randy's Review: 'The November Man' (09/04/14)
Former James Bond Piece Brosnan returns to the spy genre as a retired CIA operative dragged back into a politically charged situation under false pretenses only to find himself at odds with his protege in "The November Man." Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, an expertly-trained CIA killing machine, nicknamed "The November Man" because after he passes through, nothing lives. ...
Randy's Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' (08/28/14)
"When the Game Stands Tall" is the tale of De La Salle High School's amazing run of 151 football wins under coach Bob Ladouceur and the impact the snapping of "The Streak" had the on the players, coaches and community of Concord, California. The streak had become everything as it stretched from 1992 to 2003 under Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel). ...
Randy's Review: 'The Expendables 3' (08/21/14)
Bad puns, bad dialogue, lots of explosions, a high body count and Ronda Rousey. What's not to love? Sylvester Stallone's action-star showcase, "The Expendables 3," obviously third in the series, returns many of our favorite Expendables from the past, adds some younger fresh faces and takes on Mel Gibson, who channels some of his Lethal Weapon craziness as the film's primary bad guy...
Randy's Review: 'Let's Be Cops' (08/21/14)
A pair of lovable losers, who leave the Midwest to pursue their dreams of success on the West Coast find things didn't go quite as planned in "Let's Be Cops." Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) come to Los Angeles to find stardom in their respective fields of interest. ...
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. ...
Book Review: "The Chaos of Stars" (09/11/14)
It's not hard to find a romance novel in the teen section of a bookstore or library. Turn a page in pretty much any book and you've got a girl gazing star-struck into some boy-wonder's eyes, or vice versa. And, to an extent, the same can be found in Kiersten White's latest novel, "The Chaos of Stars." But what I really appreciated about this book was that the romance wasn't the dominant plot of the story...
Book Review: 'Island of a Thousand Mirrors' (09/04/14)
It's interesting to watch the news and hear of the devastation affecting war-torn countries in other parts of the world, and then to open a book like "Island of a Thousand Mirrors" and see the same devastation as told through a different, fictional yet more personal, perspective...
Book Review: The Magician's Land (08/28/14)
Imagine if 'Harry Potter' was written for adults and if 'Narnia' had a dark side C.S. Lewis never mentioned for fear it would frighten the children. Now put them together; you've got Lev Grossman's "The Magicians" trilogy. "The Magician's Land," which was released earlier this month, is the final book in this trilogy. ...
Book Review: 'The Godless' (08/21/14)
Imagine a world -- not unlike the Roman or Greek mythologies -- in which gods live alongside humans. Now imagine those gods are dying, falling lifeless into the Earth and becoming part of the future landscape. From the city of Mireea, you can see the vast mountain range and the spine of the fallen god Ger...
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...
Music Review: 'Where It's At' (09/11/14)
To be completely honest, I had never heard of Dustin Lynch before this week. He's released two albums and four singles since 2012, but I don't know that he caught the spotlight that other country music artists have. But with that in mind, his sophomore album, "Where It's At" is really good. It's got a little bit of everything, from ballads to high-energy tracks...
Music Review: 'V' (09/04/14)
Note: "V" contains some explicit language and thematic content With the release of their fifth studio album, "V" (pronounced "five"), the guys of mega-popular band Maroon 5 manage to yet again showcase why they've become so successful and why they're not just a pretty face (specifically when it comes to frontman Adam Levine.)...
Music Review: 'Moonshine in the Trunk' (08/28/14)
With the recent evolution of country music, most country musicians have fallen into one of two categories: those who continue to follow closely to the early traditions, and those who embrace mainstream Top 40 music wholeheartedly. It's rare to find an artist that manages to succeed in both ends of spectrum. And yet, Brad Paisley has found a way to do just that...
Music Review: 'Don't Kill the Magic' (08/21/14)
Though it's been around for a little while, MAGIC!'s debut single, "Rude," has been blowing up radio airwaves this summer. And with the recent release of their first album, "Don't Kill the Magic," the Canadian reggae-fusion group has the potential to grow even more exponentially in the next few months...
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. ...