Monday, October 25, 2010

Old News

A couple of local "news" stories have caught my eye. First, a KELO/Argus-Leader poll that says Obama has a 53% unfavorable rating in South Dakota. This would seem to be bad, but a look back at the 2008 election results shows that 55.3% of South Dakota voters did not vote for Obama. In other words, whatever beating he may be taking around the country, Obama is pretty much holding steady here. Unfortunately for him, it's a steady disapproval.

Then, there's this, which I hadn't heard about in a long time.

Tribal leaders in South Dakota, Nebraska and Montana continue to work on a proposal to get back part of their sacred Black Hills, convinced that President Obama is willing to discuss it with them.

Ultimately, they want to present a proposal to the president about the potential return of some of their Black Hills - a possibility that candidate Obama fueled during a campaign stop in Sioux Falls.

The current obstacle is actually deciding what they want.

The real stumbling block might be the unified voice. Along with the Sioux Nation tribes, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association is trying to blend in varying treaty councils and other tribal entities that don't recognize the authority of the existing tribal governments formed under the Indian Reorganization Act.

Personally, I think getting that done won't be much easier than negotiating Middle East peace. I also can't see it doing any better in Congress than it ever has, especially if Republicans get back some control, and it's hard to imagine Obama using any political capital fighting for it when he has so many other problems, particularly when the South Dakota members of Congress don't want to touch it. On the other hand, as those poll results show, Obama doesn't have anything to lose here by listening.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dustin and Lepers

I hadn't been to James Lileks' site for a while, so I took a quick cruise down the blog page. It didn't take too long to find something I had long thought.

I’d been watching “The Graduate,” but it annoys me; never did, and really cannot now, identify with Dustin Hoffman. Plus, “Plastics” is excellent career advice, at least at the time.

I think of Hoffman's character as a spoiled innocent, someone who had gone through the motions, who had let others make decisions about his life without really thinking, who then proceeded to demonstrate why that may not have been a bad thing. On the other hand, the "OK you idiot, you've spent most of the movie thinking with body parts not designed for that purpose; now what?" ending just about saves the movie by hinting that somehow he's going to pay for this.

Then there's this....

Also, there’s the Apple iBookstore, which is like a combination of Fort Knox and a nudist leper colony: you can’t figure out how to get in, and you’re pretty sure you don’t want to anyway.

I have no opinion about the Apple iBookstore. I just like that description.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mouse in the House, Among Other Things

A minor crisis recently developed in the household; the wife discovered mouse droppings under the kitchen sink. Her slightly disturbingly thorough follow-up seemed to indicate that it was isolated to that location and that it was a recent occurrence. We purchased mouse traps (the old-fashioned type, thank you; it just wouldn’t be the same without the threat of snapping one on your fingers, or in my wife’s case, on her stomach) and poison and steel wool for sealing the possible entrances, and emptied and washed out the area, including the drawers.

I must note that all of this activity was at her command, simply because I have had almost no experience with this. I do not recall ever having to deal with a rodent invasion of any place I have lived as an adult, perhaps because I haven’t lived anywhere long enough for the cracks and crevasses necessary for their entrance to develop. It’s also possible that they were there and I was blissfully ignorant, since I had to take her word that what she found was in fact mouse feces, even after I saw it for myself; it looked like dirt to me.

She was proven correct that very night, as one of the traps – baited with peanut butter - snagged a little critter. I was given the task of disposing of the carcass. I first considered just throwing it into a nearby ravine so something could eat it, but since there were signs it had partaken of the D-Con before it stuck its nose into the trap, I decided to put it in a plastic bag and send it out with the trash. We are hoping that this was the only one, and that our preventative measures have put an end to further encroachment, but the traps are still set.

Emptying the drawers reminded me of something slightly unusual about my life. When I moved to Vermillion from Rapid City in 1994, I was able to use my mobile home (not as mobile as they used to be, but still equipped with the necessary hardware) as a shipping container, which eliminated a lot of the sorting and packing normally associated with moving. When I moved up to a larger mobile home, it was just behind and to the left of my old one, so a lot of stuff I could just grab and haul. Only the larger furniture required assistance. The move to Pierre was essentially a repeat of the the move to Vermillion – I even used the same mover to tow the house. The result of that convenience, and the fact that I kept the house after my two divorces, is that a lot of things that would probably have been thrown out had I had to pack them got to come along, and many of the smaller ones ended up in these drawers.

There were a number of kitchen utensils I didn’t know I owned, and that my wife had never seen. A couple of cheese cutters, two paring knives that looked as if they would be prime tetanus carriers, and various other kitchen tools that I had never used. Old rolls of tape, small candles, pens and pencils, batteries of unknown vintage, various pieces of household hardware, and an ancient pocket knife also took up space along with roughly 200 twist ties that came with long-gone garbage bags.

I threw away quite a few of these things. Others I relocated to the appropriate storage area. But many of the items went right back into the same drawer, some because they actually belong there, others based on the old that-may-come-in-handy excuse that clogs up space worldwide. I figure I need to leave something behind for my family to throw away after I die, assuming they doesn’t just leave the place “as is”, which would be in keeping with family tradition.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wide World

Geez, it seems like last week that I was noting that August is almost over. September just seemed to disappear without much of a trace. Nothing terribly noteworthy, good or bad, happened in my life to break up the passage of time. As usual, I’m not sure what to make of that. Is it a sign of a smooth, idyllic life, or a numbing treadmill of an existence? The former certainly doesn’t fit my situation, and I don’t think I’ve sunk into the latter. Perhaps something in between; a smooth treadmill with entertainment, room for the spouse and occasional stops for a nice meal.

It is a good time of year for fans of major sports. Almost all of them are in action to some degree.

I tend to prefer the NFL to college football, but I’ve seen some fairly entertaining college games this year. Of course shortly that will all get squished by the BCS into a top-two-and-everyone- else slog that loses me before the regular season is over. At least the other college divisions can provide some meaningful late-season games – and actual playoffs.

In the past I’ve regarded any attempt to judge the quality of an NFL team as folly until at least four games have been played. (Speaking of folly, some of the first-week games that left me wondering just what the teams actually did during the numerous off-season workouts and the interminable preseason.) This season has been no different; if anything, such analysis is still looking pointless. As Peter King said, picking the order of the top teams could be done with darts. It’s probably best to wait until the halfway point before trying to discern any patterns, and I’m not certain anything will have developed even then, at least at the top. The bottom seems to be settling in, although even there things are far from cut-and-dried.

Perhaps the NFL will be sorted out by the time baseball finishes its just-starting playoffs. This is Twins country, and my wife and a couple of co-workers are fans, now no doubt joined by many others from the anyone-but-the-Yankees group. I personally have no allegiances, but I do like to see a team from outside the usual suspects contend once in a while, just to force the broadcasters to learn a few new names.

I also see the NHL is starting its regular season shortly. Good for them. I don’t know why, considering my proximity to hockey hotbed Minnesota, but I’ve never been interested. When it comes to ice-related activities, I would rather use it to cool a drink while I watch curling.

With all that going on, sports gasbags are talking about NBA pre-season games, of all things. I know the league has its publicity machine cranked up around the renovated Miami Heat, but in the most predictable of the major professional sports, where the contenders spend most of the season just trying to stay healthy, these games are rivaled only by the major political party conventions as useless gatherings. I’ll start paying attention when/if it gets interesting, which coincidentally is about the time the NFL finishes.