Showing posts from 2014

That Christmas long ago

No pickles on this tree- at least I did not find any. But there were oranges- clementines to be exact. They were not on the tree buy beneath it. It is actual a tradition Grandma Marlys has kept up from her youth. It recalls the gift of an orange she would receive each Christmas. I think she would also get a tin cup.

And so it is Christmas

A  Charlie Brown Christmas espouses that dilemma which many of us may find ourselves in at Christmas time.
Exasperated by the holiday and the wacko views of it (ie. Run by a big eastern syndicate.) he blurts out:
Isn't there anyone who understands what Christmas is all about? To which Linus recites the ancient narrative.

And, yes that is what Christmas is all about. Everything else is just an extension. Although some extensions have traversed well off the main narrative. I have no clue where to place the Elf on a Shelf story that has become so popular. And the pickle Christmas ornament thing is a bit off the wall.

Anyway, here is the narrative pieced together from the Bible.

It is the great turkey, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving may have failed to plumb the depths of the Great Turkey mythos. Schultz opted to explore the possibilities of how a dog would go about hosting the feast. Popcorn, jelly beans, and toast make for a less than memorable meal. The special is mostly forgettable except for Snoopy's antics preparing for the dinner.

The time to say turkey nears

To explain Thanksgiving to someone alien to the American (and Canadian) custom can be a bit odd since the holiday is most noted by the food.
"We go to relatives and eat turkey, mash potatoes, gravy, and cranberries."
"Ah....why turkey? Would not prime rib be an ideal entree?"
"Turkeys are American."
"So are hot dogs."
"We eat those on July 4th." Menu is not prescribed for the holiday and turkey just became the de facto menu item. Although some may contend that turkey was consumed at the 1st American Thanksgiving in 1621 and so why buck the trend. I heard they also served lobster and oysters in 1621- but nobody is probably serving that to the family this Thursday.

And of course we do not race turkeys. With so many early Thanksgiving morning "turkey trot" races out there somebody must believe Americans race the birds they on Thanksgiving. But I sort of like the idea. It would be kinda like the running of the bulls but much saf…

At the Granite City Train Show

It being Model Railroad Month, I should write about this interest of mine.
It was only in the last two years that I have come to revisit this hobby from my past. As a child I got into model railroading with an HO train set I got for Christmas. It was a special Campbell's Soup edition set made by Life-Like. Eventually a train table was built, more track, switches, and a city load of buildings were acquired. I still own it, but it has not been run for years. It was sort of an incomplete set up. I was never any good at scenic. I just liked to run the trains.
I digress.
A few years ago I decided to revisit the model train hobby but this time in O scale. Which now brings us to this entry about the Granite City Train Show.
Out in the Go there is very little to choose from for model railroading supplies. There is one shop that carries a bit of train stuff. There used to be another but it closed up about a decade ago. I actually attend church in one of the shop's previous locations.…

The Pride of Proctor: 225

A former room-mate of mine was from Proctor. He was a cross country ski champion. And there was another guy from Proctor, Garry Bjorklund, who was pretty good runner- he broke high school records and was named an All-American numerous times. He also competed in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal in the 10000 meters. In Proctor I found no monument to my room mate or Garry.
Instead I found a giant of a monument at the top of the hill- a Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Yellowstone class locomotive.

2 Railroads in Duluth

Actually there are more than 2 railroads operating in Duluth and Superior.
At one time there were 11. But that is entirely different topic.
This post is going to focus on the 2 passenger railroads in Duluth. Yes, there are 2.
Most know the North Shore Scenic Railroad that has its headquarters at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.Their operation is top notch and features numerous excursions throughout the year. Last year I rode a Pizza Train. It was a very memorable excursion up the North Shore from Duluth to a little bit past the French River. It of course included pizza and an onboard music performance. We sat in an old Northern Pacific coach and then sat in a double decker Chicago Northwestern commuter car.
Perhaps the lesser known of the passenger railroads is the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad but that is not to say it is any less of a railroad. I only discovered this line last year after the pizza train trip on a single brochure I discovered at a hotel. The LSMRR follows…

Born on the 3rd of July - George M. Cohan

The first lines of the musical George M! are "George who?"
Indeed the George I write of today is no other than George M. Cohan
Though he liked to claim July 4th as his birth, George most probably was born on the 3rd in Providence, RI.
My first encounter with this song and dance man draped in red, white, and blue was my freshman year of high school. I was in the cast of the Park High's fall musical George M! The biographical musical from the 1967 Broadway season is a behemoth of Cohan story and musical material. It did a fair business on Broadway and starred Joel Grey as Cohan. In an odd turn of events, the Park edition of the show had a considerable amount of re-writes, clocked in at just over 3 hours. Not sure our audience was ready for that kind of time commitment. A guy named Mike played Cohan and I was the unofficial understudy- I did not know that until he was late to one of the performances.
I think I wrote more about the Park musical in another post.

The social media info graphic that you never knew you needed

While breezing through the web I cam across a post about social media posts (it was actually a re-post of a re-post of a post.) The info-graphic by the MyCleverAgency offers enough tips to make you a pro at social media posting (and we need so many of those :) right?) So if you want to be a Google+ expert look below.

Fargo Marathon 2014 Super Hero Rundown: A few others

Our rundown would not be complete without a few straggling heroes out there pounding the pavement in Fargo.
 Wonder woman leads a small pack of runners through the streets of Fargo. Fortunately she did have her golden lasso of truth to round up the bad guys getting in the way of the runners.

The Justice League turned out this year running besides each other in  unity against evildoers and sore calves. Good to see Green Lantern was represented this time. Superman has also grown a beard in the time it takes him to run 26.2 miles.

And finally the superhero who should have been on more shirts this year- The Flash. How could running shirt manufacturers forget this speedster? I hoping to see more Flash in the future.

Fargo Marathon 2014 Super Hero Rundown: Spiderman/Spiderwoman

Our rundown continues. This time with one of the top franchises out there- Spiderman. Well actually Spiderman and Spiderwoman are represented here.
This Spiderman is a bit of a rebel with 2 different colored shoes. It is a bit hard to see the spider emblem on his chest.

This Spiderwoman is displacing good stride

Fargo Marathon 2014 Super Hero Rundown: The Batman

Our next hero in the rundown is The Batman. From the comics I believe he was a rather fit guy. He did not have a super power per se- he was just a decent detective with a little vigilante thrown in for good measure. No Robins appears in the race so the caped crusader had to run alone. There may have been more but when a blob of runners come down the avenue trying to focus on the shirt is a bit difficult for my camera.
Oh, 2 out of 3 are women- so I guess Batgirl would be more appropriate.

She has the matching socks but no grappling hook
Original Batgirl colors.
I could actually imagine that this guy is Batman.

Fargo Marathon 2014- Digging Downtown

For those spectators who were watching for a incredible race- this year's marathon did not disappoint. Peter Kemboi of Kenya and Arturs Bareakis gave us quite a remarkable dual throughout the entire race. The competitors were running nearly cheek to cheek until the 25th mile when Kemboi decided to dig deep for a charge to the finish and shook off Bareakis. Probably the closes men's race yet. The rest of the men's elite lagged behind more than I expected. Third place arrived nearly 10 minutes later. I was expecting a few more top performances with the ideal weather and thus was surprised by the men's elite. Other Kenyans must have given up on this race. Oh yeah- who is Bareikis? A runner with a good pedigree who is from Chicago via Latvia . Artur has racked up a few 2nd and 3rd place finishes in marathons. Seems to have been a decent runner since high school. Keeping up with Kemboi was quite the feat. He only crossed the finished a little over 30 seconds after. The women&…

Fargo Marathon 2014 Costume Rundown

A considerable amount of costumes- besides the super hero themed ones- appeared in this year's Fargo Marathon. A running Elvis did not make an appearance this year. I did see 2 guys running in button up short sleeve shirts. I do not think those were costumes. Just an unusual choice of attire for a marathon. Still, there were plenty of tutus worn too. Some costume like attire was also worn by spectators. I did not document that. What I have here is a smattering of costumed runners. What is worse? Being a birdman or being chased by a birdman? Oh and there were 4 birdmen.

This guys is really a glutton for pain. Kind of reminds me of that Beatles' tune "Carry That Weight:

The Cat in the small hat and the running dude. I saw the Cat downtown and she had a child in tow dresses as Thing 2. I never saw the dude again.
I do not know what to make of this outfit but I want to start singing "This Girl is on Fire"
A running luchador. 2 ladies and 2 guys made up this relay t…

Fargo Marathon 2014 Super Hero Rundown: Captain America

What better thing to do after having a successful sequel than to run 26.2 miles in Fargo ND. The Captain did that via many runners. I was only able to capture a few. No one dared to put on the Captain's cowl but who cares- it fun to run and know you are impersonating one of the great super heroes of 20th century.

Sometimes the Captain just needs to run alone.

The cheers are heard

I am not "lion" when I say Fargo is a friendly race. The city really gets behind this event. And it is evidenced in our spectators. Bells and bands, signs and shouts- we are out there throwing out our support. And it is also good to know that the runners appreciate it. I saw runners go by and give high fives to the kids. I was thanked no less than 5 times today and I was just on the side of the road ringing a cow bell. So great job Fargo!
Below is one of those Kodak moment events of spectator/runner interaction on the course.

So if you are looking for inspiration for next year just look at the above example- make a few signs, cheer, applaud. And in turn get high fives all around.

Fargo Marathon 2014 Super Hero Rundown: Superman

There were a whole bunch of super heroes represented at the Fargo Marathon this year. The 1 I missed was a lady wearing an Ironman mask in the half marathon. And let us not confuse Mike Reilly with Robert Downey Jr. The Fargo Marathon's guest Mike Reilly is the voice of the Ironman Triathlon and not the super hero character. Mike is also on Twitter: @ironmanvoice
The predominate hero was the man and woman of steel- Superman and Supergirl.
First, I bring you Fargo's original and still running Superman. He has been at this for years now.

Now the line up of super men and women- although everyone who ran is a super hero.

A grand day for marathoning - Fargo Marathon 2014

Here is to another great 10 years!
It was a fantastic day to run. The cool morning warmed up slightly in the afternoon and a Kenyan can finally claim the victor's crown for the men's marathon in Fargo after a pretty close race down to the last 2 miles between 2 men. The rest of the field were well behind. Finding other results are a bit of a challenge as nothing is posted on So it will be hard for me to analyze what I saw on the streets today. Bloggers don't get media passes :(.
No wait, I found them. 2014 Results. Men's winner finished in 2:26. Women's winner finished 2:53. Pretty decent results.
A big shout out should go to 19 year old Fargoan Keith Lehman who finished 5th with a respectable 2:45 time.
Wide range of hometown were amply represented in the marathon race results this year. This certainly is not a local race.
My workmate- Chris Hass- finished in the top 20 of the half marathon. He clocked a 1:18. Great job!
Speaking of this n…

Running on Train Day

There will be plenty of people out for National Train Day in Fargo. Most of them will be running in the Fargo Marathon. And no trains will delay the races.
Those spectating the runners from downtown Fargo can watch trains too.
There are 2 ideal spots.
On the north end of downtown off of Broadway is the old Great Northern Depot (now Great Northern Cycles). Tracks run adjacent to the depot and there are a few places to sit. Mixed freight usually passes on this former Great Northern mainline.The Amtrak Station is just next door- but don't expect to see Amtrak during daylight hours. The Empire Builder stops in Fargo in the wee hours of the morning.
On the south end of downtown at the corner of Broadway and Main is the Northern Pacific Depot. The depot is historic itself- it was designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert.
The depot is adjacent to BNSF's mainline. Plenty of traffic runs through this corridor. These days you can see plenty of unit crude oil trains heading to or from N…

A great list of things remembering 10 years of Fargo Marathons

When you have little time but lots to write you make lists. I think David Letterman's writers must have perfected this mode of writing. I don't have 10 things but I have enough things.

1. This event draws because we are friendly.
Now with it being Fargo, we have a reputation of being cold and located someplace in the armpits of America. And thanks to a movie we are thought to be a hideaway for suspicious characters.
But really Fargo is nothing like that. We may have cold weather but mostly we are friendly (at least during the marathon.)
Case in point. While volunteering Thursday night a man from Indonesia who was in town to see his son graduate from NDSU the next week asked if he could register for one of the big races. As far as I knew only the 5K still had available spaces- every other race was closed. Still we sent him to another table to inquire about entering assuming he would be turned away again. Not long afterward he returned to our tent with registration for the full…

10 years and tents : Fargo Marathon 2014

Well, we made it! 10 years. What a run it has been blogging this event! And I still think I am the only one providing exclusive coverage the big media misses. This year will probably involve a little less coverage due to a family crisis I am in the midst. Nonetheless, there will be coverage. Watch the twitter feed @suspect_bill for my quick takes.
10 years ago I was out in a slightly snowy morning in May keeping traffic out of the race route in Moorhead. A modest turnout of runners entered the inaugural event.  Now the event is massive. Simply astounding growth.
The event was born at a zeitgeist of running enthusiasm. So much that more local and region events were spawned and likely inspired by the Fargo event's growth. There is something like 3 or 4 new marathon or half marathons in the region too.
So for this tenth year the organizers brought it back to downtown Fargo. This made for quite a logistics challenge as the Fargo Civic Arena is nothing like the Fargodome. So for the t…

The chickens through winter


I took up raising chickens this fall.
It was something my mostly Finnish spouse wanted to do, but I ended up taking the bulk of the duties. Thus far we only have 2 hens- a Sebright Golden  and a New Hampshire Red. We had another one but that is a story for another day. They spent the winter in the coop you see above. And it was a really cold winter. I did not heat the coop so the hens needed to produce their own heat.
I did not have a heat source mostly because the coop is so small ad there is no safe spot for a heat lamp. I also read from many chicken raisers that you let the hens produce the heat by supplementing their feed with corn. I also insulated 3/4s of the coop. 
Now that it is spring, I am pleased to announce that they survived the rugged Dakota winter.
The only thing I learned is that they need better ventilation in winter. Lots of condensation built up inside.
I had a cloth over the door on the majority of the winter. The hens have not figured it out- except perhaps the…