In the early 1970s, summers in the Capitol bureau of The Associated Press in Pierre were so quiet you could hear guys playing disc toss with plastic coffee-can lids in the fourth-floor spectators gallery above the House chamber.
Until I went through the chaos of registering for fall classes my freshman year at Creighton University, I'd never heard the term "IBM card.''
When our mother died 12 years ago, my brothers and sisters and I began a practice of meeting each summer back home at Chamberlain. Marie Woster, a McManus from Lyman (and, you know, Ireland), lived 86 years, most of them pretty good ones. She died and was buried during a hot spell in July of 2004. It was one of those stretches of stifling, damp heat, day and night, that would have had our mother telling the coffee crew at Al's Oasis, "They say it isn't the heat, it's the humidity. Don't let them fool you. It's both.''
Before the political conventions, I saw one public-opinion poll that said Hillary Clinton had a double-digit lead over Donald Trump in the race for president and another that said the two candidates were neck and neck. After the conventions, I saw a poll that said Clinton was back in the lead. If I looked again, I might find a poll showing Obama leading the race, or maybe even Adlai Stevenson or Richard Nixon. Who knows?
Mary McClure Bibby spent the first two years of her legislative career as a member of the minority party in the South Dakota Senate. That's pretty rare for a Republican in this state, but she told me years later it wasn't a bad thing. It taught her, she said, a few things about cooperation and persuasion. If so, she learned well, because she developed a remarkable skill at moving others to her point of view.
Several recent days have been "stinkers,'' as my dad used to say back on the farm when the temperature on the thermometer outside the back porch door topped 100 degrees and the air felt as if a damp sheet hung over the county. And our home thermometer was on the north side of the house and always in the shade. "It's 105 in the shade, and there isn't much shade,'' was another of my dad's back-on-the-farm expressions, one he used often later in the summer when we lived without air conditioning and those still, stifling days of late July and early August smothered the land.
I saw in the news the other day that some mother in Pennsylvania blames Pokemon Go for the injuries her 15-year-old daughter suffered when struck by a car.
Some years back, a law-enforcement friend told me of the time he worked security at the South Dakota State Fair and received several reports of a man walking through the fairgrounds with a big handgun strapped to his hip.
In 1974, Dick Van Dyke played the lead role in a television movie called "The Morning After,'' the story of a high-powered public relations guy with a huge drinking problem.
I pride myself on keeping up with current events, but it's a struggle. Not because I lack time to read and watch but because so much of what I read and watch is so terribly discouraging, angry and without supporting sources. I can make my own judgments, decide what I think. I just want some relatively objective, dispassionate sources to give me Joe Friday-like facts. That can't be asking too much, can it? Newspapers still do it, but how many can a guy subscribe to at once?