Opinions

Wed
19
Dec

VanHaren: Farm magazines were a part of learning to read

I started thinking the other day about what kind of stuff I read when I was a kid, because I saw an item on the internet about the value of having reading materials in the home if kids are to grow up reading.
Well, when I was a kid — I’ve said this before — we were basically “poor.” I’ve said this before, too; I didn’t really know we were poor at the time, but we were! We were like a lot of other farm families at the time. We kind of lived off the land. We never went hungry, but we didn’t have much money.

Wed
12
Dec

Roger VanHaren: Funny 'Pearls Before Swine' can be somber when necessary

I am a big fan of Stephan Pastis’ quirky black comedy comic strip, “Pearls Before Swine.” The title for the strip most likely comes from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:6): “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” I interpret that to mean “don’t offer what you hold dear to someone who won’t appreciate it.”

The strip “Pearls” uses dark humor, at times involves topics such as death, depression, and human suffering — not funny topics, usually, but Pastis’ treatment of them can deflate the seriousness of many situations. I said it was “quirky,” didn’t I?

Wed
12
Dec

Lorna Marquardt: Christmastime brings up memories of past holidays

We live in the present and look forward to the future, but we hold our memories from the past dear. Sometimes I sit quietly and allow my mind to reminisce.

Earlier this week, I decided to spend some time thinking about Christmases past. I have many to remember.

The memories of a variety of Christmas trees float through my mind. I fondly remember the Robenhagen family tree of the late ’40s and early ’50s. The tree was only lit for short periods of time. Grandma’s tree had real candles on it. It had pine cones hanging on it too. There were also some candle lights that bubbled. Grandma tied frosted gingerbread cookies on the tree. Grandpa always had the honor of placing the star on top.

Fri
07
Dec

Column: Forever isn't what it used to be

Do you ever say, “I never do that” after you’ve just done something dumb? Yeah, me, too!

Case in point: Last summer as we were loading stuff into the car to head up to Oconto Falls for a Class of ’57 (We call ourselves “the Great Class of ’57!”) get-together, I stupidly laid some stuff on the roof of the car — my phone, my high school yearbook, and a booklet I’d spent hundreds of hours putting together for our 50th year class reunion.

Well, sure enough, we started our trip up north with these valuable items riding on the roof of our Prius. When we got to Oconto Falls, not surprisingly, I couldn’t find them! So I had to get a new phone, but I thought my yearbook and my “memory book” were lost forever.

Tue
27
Nov

Column: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The holiday season is really settling in, isn’t it? Thanksgiving is past, and for me that’s always the start of the Christmas season. There’s a lightening of spirits that seems to infuse the days at this time of year, no matter how much commercialization there seems to be. (I refuse to acknowledge “Black Friday” as a part of this season.)

The schools and churches have their Christmas concerts. There are church bazaars and meals for the less fortunate among us. People happily share their time and talents to make the season brighter. The mailbox begins to fill with Christmas cards, and email “green cards” begin to arrive almost daily on the computer.

Traditional favorites like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “White Christmas,” “Rudolph,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” take over the television programming.

Tue
20
Nov

Column: Is it possible to give more than 100 percent?

There’s a commercial on TV in which a window manufacturer claims that its windows are 2,000 percent more airtight than their nearest competitors’ windows. Wow! 2,000 percent!

What is a 2,000 percent increase? I’m not a mathematician, but it seems to me that an increase of 100 percent in a quantity means that the final amount is 200 percent of the initial amount (100 percent of initial + 100 percent of increase = 200 percent of initial); in other words, the quantity has doubled. Does that make sense? So, for example, an increase of 800 percent means the final amount is nine times the original (100 percent + 800 percent = 900 percent = 9 times as large), right? So, if you agree with that, does it seem right that 2,000 percent means that the final number is 21 times the original (100 percent + 2,000 percent = 2,100 percent = 21 times as large)? Right?

Wed
14
Nov

Column: Generations of actors have delighted us

Last week, Marilyn and I had some opportunities to see a couple of performances which sent us back-pedaling into our memories of our own high school years.

The first show was an elaborate Madrigal Feast at Kettle Moraine High School, where our grandson Nolan is a sophomore. The “Feast” is an annual production of the high school, and it involves a number of choirs and a couple of hundred students who recreate a Renaissance dinner — complete with elaborate costumes, authentic music, a catered meal, a pillary, swordfights, a court jester, a short play and dances. Nolan was a member of the Madrigal Singers and one of the other big choirs, and he had a few lines in the short play.

When Marilyn was in high school, she was a four-year member of the Madrigal Singers at Oshkosh High School, so this fun evening was a pleasant trip down memory lane for her.

Wed
07
Nov

Column: It all started with a Hiawatha Luxury Liner

Until we experienced some health issues a few years ago, Marilyn and I did a lot of bike-riding. (I was going to say “cycling,” but that sounds way more serious than the kind of riding we did.) I consider myself lucky that I found a life partner who shared my love of riding.

I have liked bike-riding since I was a kid. When I was 10 years old, my parents bought my sister and me brand new Hiawatha bicycles from the hardware store in town. They must have made some big sacrifices to do that, because our family didn’t have much money in those days. I didn’t think about their sacrifices back then – I was only interested in me, I suppose – but I do think about it today, and I really appreciate it now.

Wed
31
Oct

Letters to the Editor

School Board asks for vote

To the Editor:

In less than one week, residents of the Gillett School District will be voting on a referendum where the district is asking for authorization to exceed the state-imposed revenue limits by $600,000 for each of the next three years.

As discussed at various meetings held to provide information to the residents as well as question-and-answer mailings, the state-imposed revenue limits do just that – limit the revenue Gillett can receive between state funding and local property taxes. These limits have been in effect since 1993, and Gillett has been a low revenue-limit school since that time, one of the lowest in the state. The state has recognized the funding issues and is beginning to slowly increase the revenue limits, but that will take time. In the meantime, schools must ask their taxpayers for additional funding.

Wed
31
Oct

Column: Why do the old songs sound better?

Last week we went to see a concert by Jeff Dayton, who for many years headed the backup band for Glen Campbell. This was a very quiet, easy concert featuring Jeff on guitar and singing 20 or 25 familiar songs, backed up by his friend Mark Bendickson on guitar. No drums, no bass, no keyboards, no horns – just two guitars and a pleasant voice.

We heard songs from Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Gene Autry, Jerry Reed, Vince Gill, the Kingston Trio, Gary Puckett, George Strait, Mack Davis and I don’t know how many others. He closed with a wonderful rendition of “Over the Rainbow” made famous by a native Hawaiian singer-songwriter and ukuleleist (Is that a word?) called “Braddah Iz.” I love that version.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Opinions