This is a recurring theme for old guys, maybe, but I just had another example of what a wimp I've become since I left the farm and discovered air conditioning. We did some serious boating over the Labor Day weekend about 15 miles above the dam on Lake Oahe. When we put the boat into the water, the wind was something in the 25 mph range, blowing sideways across the ramps. We set out looking for a sheltered spot somewhere along the downstream side of Okobojo Point, and we plowed through heavy swells all the way out from the Cow Creek launch area.
I have a friend who always used to say at some point during the Fourth of July holiday, "Well, boys, summer's about done." That was back in the days when he would water ski several times a summer. There was a time, many years ago now, when the group of us who boated together religiously started our ski season on Mother's Day weekend and didn't finish until sometime after Labor Day, unless a way-early or way-late blizzard shut us down. In those days, my older friend skied a lot. He tapered off a bit as years went by, but he managed to get in a few runs each summer.
I slept much of the way from Chamberlain to Omaha that late-summer day 50 years ago when Dad drove me and my big sister to enroll for fall-semester classes at Creighton University. It was pretty easy to sleep in the old 1956 Pontiac station wagon. It was packed with the belongings of two kids, one a college freshman, the other a nursing-school graduate on her way to get a bachelor's degree in her chosen profession. Jeanne and Dad spent a lot of the trip talking. He loved to talk, and she was a good listener. Me? I tuned out as soon as we hit the highway headed east.
A couple of weekends ago, as we drove home a bit before midnight from a pow-wow at Lower Brule, a coyote flashed across the highway ahead of us and into the north ditch about a mile short of Kennebec. I hadn't seen a coyote in the wild, so to speak, in years and years, and this one made its move across the interstate way out where the beam from the headlights was beginning to fade. Even so, there was no mistaking the creature, any more than a person can mistake the sound of a rattlesnake. I've had a fascination with coyotes since I was a kid.
Nobody actually uses a telephone these days. "Tele" has disappeared from the language. People use "phones'' -- cell phones, mobile phones, smart phones, iPhones and all sorts of other fancy names that creative marketers give to handheld devices that can take photographs, make videos, surf the Internet, tell the temperature, pinpoint the owner's location and, if the mood strikes the user, make an actual telephone call. You know, a telephone call?
When I was a high-school senior, I took some aptitude tests that told E.J. Lodge, the Chamberlain High guidance counselor, I would make a terrific medical doctor. Well, I liked Mr. Lodge quite a lot, and when he told me the results of the tests, I nodded my head in what I hoped was a contemplative way, but I didn't say much. I wasn't at all sure what questions I answered in such a way as to show an aptitude for medicine. If I remember the test, it was pages and pages of "would you rather do this or do that" kind of questions.
I saw a television commercial the other day about basement cleaning that really hit home. I just caught a glimpse of it, so I don't know the company name or any details. We have this gizmo on our television that lets us stop the action and go back to replay stuff we missed. That's handy, but I never remember that we have it, so I never use it. And that is why I don't know the details of the commercial, even though I could have replayed it a dozen times if I'd thought about it. (Once you leave the channel, you can't go back and use the replay feature, apparently.
After watching way too much of the 2012 Olympic Games, I'm wondering when South Dakota high school and junior high kids will begin to roll on the track and curl into the fetal position after finishing second or third in an event at a conference or state track meet. If the grown-ups do it, it won't be long before kids do it. And this year at the London Games, it seems to me more grown-ups than ever before are being incredible sore, demonstratively sore, losers. It is a trend that can have no good end.
Growing up, I figured anybody who owned a grain elevator was a giant, far beyond the reach of mere mortals. With George Shanard, I was right, and I was wrong. He was a giant, in a way. He built and managed a successful business career, and he fashioned a successful political career.
Our younger son just returned from traveling through England, Scotland and Ireland, and I'm not even thinking "So, Nancy and I have been working for something like 45 years now and we've never so much as thought about getting passports, much less using them." Actually, I was rather impressed with how carefully his travel was scheduled, with train times and rental car pickups and hotel check-ins and all that stuff jotted down well in advance of the day the kid drove to the airport to catch a flight across the ocean.