I have a friend who moved to South Dakota from another state, and he confessed to me recently that he spent most of his time here believing the shelterbelts were natural parts of the prairie. He did wonder sometimes, he said, how they could be in such straight lines and filled with different species of trees, but it didn't occur to him they weren't placed along the windward side of farm places by nature. He'd see significant stretches of empty prairie, nothing but wild grass or tilled cropland, and then he'd see a shelterbelt. That's just South Dakota, he figured.
Although I spent 40 years covering the South Dakota Legislature, I have only a handful of photographs that document the time. There weren't many cameras around during most of the legislative sessions I covered. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that every legislator today has a smartphone with camera capabilities. A legislator with a camera in the old days would have been a rarity. Lawmakers had to leave the chamber just to find a phone booth, for heaven's sake. A reporter with a camera was kind of a rarity then. Reporters reported. Photographers made pictures.
We didn't tune in the Super Bowl until the very end Sunday, but in just a few minutes of viewing, we saw the play that decided the thing. Nancy and I were reading, watching some re-runs, catching the news on other channels, generally oblivious to the fact that the most-watched program in television history was taking place. It took place for about nine or so hours, if you count in the five hours of scheduled pre-game stuff. I have no idea what they talked about in the pre-game for that long; maybe the air pressure in the footballs? Eventually, I flipped channels to see if the game was over.
When you think of good snow skiing, central South Dakota isn't the first place that pops into your head. The area isn't flat, not exactly. It's pretty rolling country, in fact, with dips and swells and gentle slopes and lakebeds and what we used to think of as hills when I was growing up out in the middle of that.
Most people, even some Minnesota Vikings fans, probably don't remember Carlester Crumpler. I didn't (in my defense, I've always been a Bears fan), not until our godson Tom sort of named one of his dance bands after the guy. Tom didn't use the actual name, instead choosing to call his group the Carluster Crumplebee Orchestra. He admits the name is a variation on Carlester Crumpler, who played tight end for the Vikings in 1999 and who had played for the Seattle Seahawks for four or five years before joining the Vikings. This isn't a piece about football, however.
In my early days with The Associated Press in Pierre, we had an unwritten standard called "wire worthy'' to measure whether some bit of information deserved to go out over the newsgathering cooperative's cranky but effective old teletype machines. I learned the phrase from Jim Wilson, a Kimball kid and my first boss with AP. He didn't really define wire worthy, but I came to understand what it meant (I think).
The holiday season is a success if the weather allows your family members to travel home for a visit and then travel back to their own homes without too much inconvenience. In that respect, the just-completed holidays were successful at the Woster place. Everyone arrived, everyone left. This past weekend our family members traveled mostly on Friday and Sunday.
This might be a good New Year's resolution for some people: I resolve to wear a seat belt when I travel and to pay attention to the highway. A second, equally intelligent resolution might be: I may do some drinking during the coming year but I won't drive after I've been drinking, and I'll pay attention to the speed limit. Those two resolutions would go quite a ways toward reducing deaths on South Dakota highways. I know I'm sensitive to the issue. For more than five years I worked at the Department of Public Safety. I read each fatal crash report from the Highway Patrol.
My first New Year's Eve ball reminded me a lot of a teen sock hop, but crowded with adults who didn't take off their shoes. Okay, so maybe it wasn't so much like a sock hop. It was a lot like a dance. Band, booze, banter, that kind of stuff. I think Nancy and I went to our first one together in Chamberlain when we both were home from college for the holidays.
I can't tell if more people are more outraged by other people more than ever before, or if social media's incredible ease and reach has created so many more platforms for outrage to be expressed instantly and universally. Every day I see posts by citizens outraged about one thing or another. Many of the posts simply re-post something someone else found outrageous, and the re-poster agrees with the sentiments expressed.