We spent several days driving up and down and around the greater Denver area this past week, and my performance behind the steering wheel got me honked at by other motorists once. OK, twice, to be literal. But both fits of honking came during the same general maneuver on I-70 as I attempted to choose the correct lane for the airport route, so I consider it one time. That's pretty good for a country kid in a city full of vehicles, all of which are carrying people who seem to need to be someplace in a big hurry.
Money in political campaigns has grown so much that, sadly, I can't remember the first South Dakota campaign that collected or spent $1 million. It has been a while. Time was $1 million was an astonishing amount of money in a campaign. These days that kind of money barely gets a candidate into the five-and-dime store of politics.
I just hit upon an idea that could be the next big thing in farming, and in fitness. I'm talking about tapping into the health, wellness and fitness market in this country. I'm talking about Farmhand Fitness. You're thinking this sounds too good to be true, but let me explain how I came up with Farmhand Fitness.
You'd think if your spouse came home after a trip into town and told you her vehicle needed windshield washer fluid, it would be a pretty simple thing to handle. You might think wrong. My spouse came home two days ago and told me that. Any chance I could take care of the problem? Well, sure. Pretty sure I have some fluid in the garage.
Because I came late to keeping a file of contacts on my phone, the names, addresses, phone numbers and email on that list are incomplete, sometimes out-of-date and often inaccurate. I'm not organized that way. If you saw my desk, either during my working years or now in retirement, you'd think I wasn't organized in any other way, either. But my contact file is particularly sloppy. I look at it now and then, but if I'm going to make a call or send a message, I tend to do it from memory. I don't trust my own file.
Making laws in South Dakota is serious business, but the Legislature itself can be pretty funny every now and then. I'm convinced that part of the reason I managed to cover 40 sessions of the Legislature as a news reporter was because of the quirky happenings, the out-sized personalities, the odd-ball situations and the unexpected moments that occur when a cross-section of South Dakota gathers in close proximity for eight or 10 weeks. It's like stepping through the looking glass, falling down the rabbit hole.
I never thought I'd live to see the South Dakota Legislature seriously consider a law giving news reporters protection against being forced to reveal confidential sources. A bill proposing such a law, commonly called a reporter shield law, passed the House earlier this week. Gov. Kristi Noem says she supports such a law, so if the Senate approves the bill, she'll get to sign her name and make it official. I worked 40 years in news, nearly always as a grunt reporter. I don't recall being threatened with jail for failing to divulge a source, but two things about that:
City folks might struggle to believe this, but I once interviewed a guy who grew up on an island in the middle of the Missouri River. I sometimes have trouble believing it, and I was there. The guy I interviewed grew up to be a musician who played steel guitar for several dance bands in central South Dakota. Music is how I happened to hear of him. A friend of mine who also played dances mentioned a childhood buddy from the Onida area who told great stories about growing up on the river. I was researching river stories at the time. This one seemed like a natural. It was, too.
So now it's February, past the January thaw and the first polar vortex, and whether or not the groundhog sees a shadow today, we're probably looking at six more weeks of winter.
If our Legislature had a lick of sense, the members would pass a law prohibiting this kind of weather. I'm writing this at mid-day on Tuesday, so it isn't really that cold — yet. It's below zero with some wind, sure, but we've seen that before. That keeps the Californians away. For several days, though, the meteorologists have been so excited about an approaching cold snap they can hardly catch their breath. They get that way when they have a chance to say "polar vortex,'' and they've been saying it a lot.