"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Softball: Tigers show command on the road

The MACA girls took total command in their Monday and Thursday games this past week.
The Monday (4/25) story was an 8-0 blanking of Lac qui Parle Valley at LQPV. Then on Thursday, again playing on the road, coach Mary Holmberg's squad thumped Montevideo 14-1.
The grades for both offense and defense were obviously high.

Tigers 14, Montevideo 1
Mackenzie Weatherly continued building her resume as one of the area's premier pitchers. She set down ten Thunder Hawk batters on strikes in the process of tossing a two-hitter at Monte.
The two hits she allowed didn't make much noise as they were singles. Those Thunder Hawks hitting safely were Dani Emkes and Chelsey Larson. Larson's safety pushed in the only Monte run.
The Thunder Hawks came out of the day still seeking their first win.
The Tigers showed a well-oiled offense beginning in the third inning. They got on the scoreboard with three runs and followed that up with six runs in the fourth and five in the fifth.
Their line score was a superb 14 runs, 13 hits and zero errors. Monte struggled in the field with five errors.
Pitcher Weatherly complemented her ten strikeouts with zero walks. The game was limited to five innings due to its one-sidedness.
Vanessa Jordahl was the pitcher of record for the Thunder Hawks. She worked four innings and Ashley Hoehne was called on for one.
Let's roll up our sleeves for a review of the hitting attack. Weatherly supported her own pitching with two-for-four numbers at bat. She scored two runs and drove in one.
Sadie Fischer had a two-for-three afternoon and this Tiger drove in two runs. Dani Schultz had an RBI to go with her two-for-three numbers.
Haley Scheldorf had two hits in four at-bats and drove in a run. Haley Henrichs scored two runs and drove in one, as part of going one-for-three.
Kelsey DeCamp added to the mix at one-for-three, and Katie Holzheimer went one-for-two.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta advanced out of this day with still-perfect won-lost numbers at 7-0. A weekend tournament awaited, on a weekend when the wind would be unspeakably fierce. Yours truly is writing this post in the midst of that.
But it looks as though these home tournaments (softball and baseball) are being played despite the inhospitable weather.

Tigers 8, Lac qui Parle Valley 0
The Tigers looked comfortable as road warriors on Monday, April 25. They visited the wide open spaces of Lac qui Parle Valley. There they added another chapter to their win-filled season, 8-0 at the expense of the Eagles.
Weatherly was a big part of the story as has become so typical. The Eagles flailed away, struggling to make contact against her deliveries, and on 15 occasions an Eagle had to retire to the bench having struck out.
The Eagles managed just three hits. They were the recipient of just one walk.
The MACA offense was no slouch either. Here Weatherly had a big role just like on the defensive side. Weatherly had two hits in as many at-bats, one of them a double, and drove in two runs.
Dani Schultz showed command with the bat, coming at the Eagles with three hits in five at-bats and driving in a run. Sadie Fischer had a two-for-three afternoon.
Kelsey DeCamp went one-for-three with an RBI.
The Tigers committed no errors while LQPV had just one.
The offense held back until the sixth when an MACA rally generated five runs. The score was 3-0 prior to that.
Three Eagles hit safely: Karley Weir, McKenzie Long and Mackenzie Clark.
Alyssa Harms was tagged with the pitching loss. She pitched 3 2/3 innings and was relieved by Rachel Schlieman who worked 3 1/3.
Will the wind abate by Monday? The Tigers are slated to host the BOLD Warriors on Monday, May 2, then they'll go on the road to face Paynesville Tuesday.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, April 29, 2011

MACA boys pound Monte, edge LQPV

The MACA baseball team played games on Monday and Thursday that differed sharply in their complexion. One was low-scoring and the other saw runs come home frequently. The one constant was that the Tigers won.
The Monday story was a 2-1 win by coach Lyle Rambow's squad over Lac qui Parle Valley.
On Thursday there was a hit parade as the Tigers disposed of Montevideo 13-9 for their fifth win of the season against no losses.

Tigers 13, Monte 9
The Thursday hit parade saw 17 hits resonate off the Tigers' bats. At the fore was Alex Erickson who pounded out four hits in five at-bats.
The Thunder Hawks had their own terror at the plate in Joe Bednar whose bat was good for four hits.
Monte kept pace with the Tigers' hitting as their team total was 15 hits - two shy of the Tigers.
Coach Rambow had to bemoan his team's five errors but the winning outcome negated that. Monte committed two errors.
The visiting Tigers broke this game open in the fifth inning, unleashing an eight-run rally. Prior to that rally the Tigers were clinging to a 4-3 lead.
Montevideo scored six runs over the last three innings and almost kept that momentum going. They had the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh but the Morris Area Chokio Alberta lead was too much to surmount.
Monte came out of the day still seeking their first win. It has been a hard spring for teams to get their games in, due to weather. Thursday's game was just Monte's third. Maybe the State High School League should offer an indoor sport for part of the spring months!
One of Erickson's four hits was a double. He drove in two runs and scored two.
Eric Riley came through with the rare feat of three triples. He achieved this in four at-bats. He was a cog in the scoring with three RBIs and three runs scored.
Cole Riley's bat was sizzling with perfect three-for-three numbers including a double and two RBIs. Tyler Hansen had a three-for-four day with a run-batted-in.
Ryan Beyer had a double and scored two runs. Brady Valnes had a double and drove in two runs. Taylor Hufford went one-for-two and Ethan Bruer one-for-three.
Bednar was joined among Monte's hit leaders by Tyler Kuno and Colton Vien each with three hits.
On to pitching: Here, two Tigers shared the load with Eric Riley getting the win and Tyler Hansen the save.
Riley pitched four innings, striking out two batters and walking two, while allowing nine hits and six runs (four earned).
Hansen had a three-inning stint on the mound. This Tiger fanned two batters and walked one. He gave up six hits and three runs, only one of which was earned.
Hansen was on the mound when MACA needed to extinguish a bases-loaded threat by Monte in the seventh. Hansen bore down to get a three-pitch strikeout and then a pop fly which he squeezed his glove around.
The Thunder Hawks were turned back. The Tigers' unbeaten status was preserved. The Tigers hope to keep the winning habit in their own invite this weekend.
Colton Vien was the pitcher of record for the Thunder Hawks.

Tigers 2, Lac qui Parle Valley 1
Pitching was the main story of the afternoon when coach Rambow's squad hosted Lac qui Parle Valley Monday.
Alex Erickson was the whole pitching story for MACA. He was truly in control in his seven innings of work, setting down eleven Eagles on strikes and walking just one. The Eagles managed just two hits off him.
LQPV had just one pitcher go the whole way too. This was Brandon Bornhorst who showed a high caliber like Erickson, as he fanned eight Tigers and walked one. But Bornhorst did give up eight hits.
He worked out of a big jam in the first inning, when MACA got the bases loaded only to come up empty when Bornhorst struck out the side.
One of the Tiger runs was unearned.
The sharp work of Erickson and Bornhorst on the hill held this game to an efficient one hour/26 minutes. Each team committed one error.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead into the sixth but had the Eagles come up even thanks to a home run by Eric Paulson. Paulson was persistent in his at-bat, finally connecting big-time on the tenth pitch from Erickson. His round-tripper was over the left field fence.
The bottom of the sixth saw the Tigers get their edge.
Eric Riley, who had two hits in as many at-bats, scored both of the MACA runs on the day.
It was a day for the Rileys to shine as Cole finished two-for-three with two RBIs. Alex Erickson's bat was good for a double in three at-bats. Tyler Hansen also went one-for-three.
Taylor Hufford went one-for-one and Mitch Kill one-for-two.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta is striving to get games in according to the original schedule, so the weather will need to be on an even keel for a while. It's horribly windy today (Friday) as yours truly is typing this.
As long as area ag interests are well-served, we'll be happy.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Conflict, health issues put cloud over NFL

The William Frawley character in "I Love Lucy" started a little kiosk called "A big hunk of America." This was in response to Ricky Ricardo's "A little bit of Cuba."
Frawley as the endearing "Fred" (Mertz) nailed the American essence. Let's make the big bigger. Let's let the rich get richer.
The National Football League has been a phenomenal American success story. Starting in the 1960s, it has grown as if endowed with magical qualities.
But all is not well in 2011. Where you find money, lawyers and agents will congregate and make things complicated.
"Why can't we all just get along," Rodney King once intoned.
Mr. King didn't have the best credentials for sharing wisdom but he synthesized goodness pretty well there. President Obama said something pretty similar about the NFL recently. He stated the obvious, that there's enough money there for both sides to be happy.
The worker bees are on one side - the players who we are increasingly learning are sacrificing life and limb to continue a youthful game into adulthood. The NFL is scared as hell about all these revelations about head injuries and the lives destroyed and altered.
The NFL wants to protect the golden goose.
Bodies have become like missiles. NFL teams pull out all stops to develop the fastest and biggest human beings.
It doesn't hurt fans a bit who watch these guys slam into each other on TV. The fans just sit there with their bowl of Doritos and a Pepsi handy.
I might add that after a day of ingesting such junk, they might throw on a sweatshirt and walk a few laps at the RFC, figuring they're "staying in shape." What's really disturbing is that their insurance might be helping pay for the RFC membership.
A healthy diet would solve everything.
Fans face their own risks from their sedentary pastimes, but players can ponder very grave consequences of their "athletic" pursuits.
Maybe we're like the Romans in the late days of their empire. They were entertained by destructive spectacles.
I was subjected to the very disturbing spectacle of former Minnesota Viking Fred McNeill being profiled by CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta a few months ago. The media had "gotten onto the trail" of head injuries and the NFL.
The McNeill story hit home because he of course was a former Viking (linebacker). McNeill sadly is showing signs of the kind of mental deterioration that comes from a career of intense NFL football. He's still able to communicate and he's aware of what's happening to him.
Dave Duerson seemed to be aware too. Duerson didn't stick around to see how much more he might degenerate. The former Chicago Bear, a member of the 1985 Super Bowl champion team, took his own life. He was age 50.
His widow said he was suffering short-term memory loss, blurred vision and pain on the left side of his brain.
I remember McNeill worrying to Dr. Gupta that he might not even remember Dr. Gupta if encountering him a few weeks later.
Was this necessary just for McNeill and his purple mates to entertain me on Sundays? No. I can easily learn to live without the NFL. It won't be easy at first. It's an intoxicating form of entertainment.
But I was able to break my emotional ties with baseball thanks to the extended strike of 1994. I'm not alone. These addictions can be surmounted. There is life outside of football on fall weekends.
There was an article on Yahoo! News Tuesday about all the empty seats at major league baseball parks this summer. It seems logical. There are so many cheaper forms of entertainment.
Pro sports are etched into our national heritage. FDR insisted that baseball continue during World War II. How quaint, because this suggested that sports were merely an enriching institution instead of the hydra-like money-seeking monster it later became.
Blacks weren't even allowed to play in the majors until after the war.
Unionization brought some good things but this cause ended up having no more inherent goodness than the owners. It's all about "getting an edge" and enlisting the sharpest legal minds to leverage your position. And fans of course be damned.
Well, we don't need any of this stuff. We're demonstrating that by staying away from big league baseball parks. What took so long?
Now maybe we'll see a wave of skepticism against these new stadiums that epitomize excess. Jerry Jones was able to pull off an opulent new stadium in Dallas. What was wrong with the stadium where Roger Staubach played?
What's wrong with the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome? Wait a minute, I don't think it's named after Hubert anymore. He was a Democrat. We live in the age of Sarah Palin and the tea partiers.
Except that's going to crumble as people realize that politicians of such stripes, if given the chance, will dismantle the New Deal.
Republicans always try this, if given the chance. In the past they have sunk. We'll wee what happens this time with the likes of Paul Ryan. He's only 41 years old and he has some learning to do. He's playing with fire though.
The NFL may be overstepping its bounds by expecting all NFL cities to follow suit with the kind of thing Jones did in Dallas. This hoped-for "new generation" of stadiums might be a bridge too far for the NFL.
Minnesota is under pressure to come through with one of these monuments to American excess - "a big hunk of America." However, there's a feeling growing that the new stadium in Minnesota won't be such a certainty.
Could it be that the Mondale name can't even push it through? Ted Mondale has been enlisted to grease the skids for the new stadium proposal. His father Walter is the politician that tea partiers would call a "socialist."
But Walter would certainly be on the front lines helping to preserve Social Security in its historic framework.
I have to laugh because many tea partiers (a loose term, really, to denote self-consciously right wing Republicans) are up in age. Ryan's blueprint should look ominous to them. A day of reckoning might be coming.
Maybe it's time for "liberals" to put on their capes and get political momentum again. Stranger things have happened. Self-interest does a lot to guide people's behavior on these things.
How scared is the NFL of the head injury topic? The league asked Toyota to stop running a TV commercial that discussed helmet hits.
Toyota has technology that simulates accident injuries. Toyota felt it could be helpful in better understanding and preventing health problems from football's harsh contact.
Even before reading this story, I suspected that this commercial, which I had seen several times, would rankle the NFL. It shouldn't have. But the league is trying to protect their golden goose. It wants to keep the negatives internal.
But the Fred McNeills of the world won't allow that. Duerson isn't even with us anymore.
We learn that NFL players are susceptible to something called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It's associated with dementia and depression.
It's a far bigger concern to me than which side "wins" in the current labor dispute. The labor dispute is just two armies of attorneys doing their thing.
The health issues make me want to forget about football.
Former Viking offensive lineman Brent Boyd appears to have problems like McNeill. Many of us remember quarterback Tommy Kramer being slammed to the turf (in a game against the Rams) and looking for a few moments like he might be dead, with one of his hands twitching in fact.
What about Joe Theismann experiencing that compound fracture on national TV? I heard that some people threw up when watching that.
There needs to be a more civilized way to carry on with life. Maybe if a strike or work stoppage wipes out the 2011 NFL season, we can withdraw like many baseball fans did after the 1994 strike. Take a bike ride on Sunday afternoon. Play badminton in the back yard.
It's true I'd have less to talk about with my favorite waitress at DeToy's Restaurant, Felixia. But she's a psychology major at UMM and I'm sure there would be a lot to explore there.
Felixia tells me she's graduating in May. So she might not be around next fall.
That's a problem with developing ties with UMM students. Alas they move on.
Her departure will give me a head injury.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Morris mansion reminds of U.S. Civil War

The Stanton House in west Morris looks as grand today as when it was built in the late 19th Century. (Photo by B.W.)

"Now he belongs to the ages."
- Edwin Stanton, U.S. secretary of war, giving a famous quote at the time of Abe Lincoln's death

The Stanton House is a landmark that greets you when you drive from Pacific Avenue to West Wind Village (WWV).
West Wind Village was known for years as the Villa of St. Francis or "the Villa." Many people still say "the Villa" when they want to make it clear what they're talking about. A name change is slow to establish itself in a small town.
"West Wind" has been established long enough that it's beginning to take over in casual references. "West Wind Village" is a little cumbersome at four syllables compared to the old, simple "Villa."
But when it comes to cumbersome references, nothing can top "West Central Research and Outreach Center." The desperation for a shorthand reference led to "the Rock." That's based on the last three initials of "WCROC."
The initials are cumbersome just like the full name. A more snappy name for the place might have advantages even if it's not as descriptive.
"The Rock" used to be the West Central Experiment Station. The older name rolls off the tongue easier.
The WCROC office building is new and was built across the road from the Horticulture Garden. To the south of the garden are the wind turbines that are growing as symbols of Morris. I have described them in the past as our version of the Gateway Arch (St. Louis).
Finding West Wind Village (the Villa) is hard if you're not familiar with west Morris. It can be hard even if you're familiar with the community.
Glen Helberg lives along Pacific Avenue and he used to have his own homemade sign pointing people to WWV. Unfortunately he was directed to take that down, apparently due to wishes expressed by WWV (through legal channels).
The person who communicated this to Glen did so apologetically, I'm told. But nothing is too trivial for legal intervention, I guess.
Mow two inches over on your neighbor's property and you might be in trouble. I guess there ought to be a tall grass and weed strip along property lines everywhere.
This kerfuffle is a hypothetical - it has never happened to me - but I have heard a story about this involving a downtown business. Someone got a letter from someone's lawyer.
"They didn't have to talk to their lawyer," I heard an exasperated person say.
Alas we can never rule out such intervention.
People who habitually go to WWV will learn their way with certain landmarks. People who rarely go there or who are - horrors - from out of town could well struggle.
WWV is on the western edge of Morris. West Morris is very residential in complexion, where one block blends into the next.
Park Avenue is an artery that goes way back in Morris history. The Stanton House is on Park Avenue. You will face it directly as you drive toward WWV. You will veer a little as you go through the intersection next to the house.
Streets weren't designed at perfect right angles to each other over there. Park Avenue does not seamlessly blend in. This is a sign that it has a history much older than the rest of that part of town.
Today the Stanton House is surrounded by many other homes. It still stands out to be sure. But it must have truly been a grand landmark in the earliest decades of its existence, when the development was less.
One can imagine horses parading down Park Avenue.
The mansions of the 19th Century were built with a "fortress" sort of outlook. The outside world was seen as having dangers.
As with many old landmarks in a small community, people sometimes need reminding of their significance.
The Stanton House was built in 1880. The person behind it, Lewis H. Stanton, was the son of Edwin Stanton who was President Abraham Lincoln's secretary of war.
In reading about Edwin, one wonders why his name isn't a household word just like Lincoln. It seems that Mr. Stanton was as responsible for the preservation of our Union as the president.
I believe there is an actor playing Edwin in the current movie "The Conspirator."
We'll be hearing more about the Civil War now that we're beginning the 150th anniversary of that cathartic struggle.
Anniversaries don't excite me. As an old media person I have always found them to be tedious. There is no inherent news value in something just because of the accident of an anniversary.
I have a special warning for those who wish to get excited about Civil War anniversaries. There's trouble there. That war was brother against brother.
There was no real conciliation at the end - no compromise. The northern forces crushed the Confederacy. The planter aristocrat class was wiped off the face of the earth.
The Myth of the Lost Cause grew among those southerners who survived all that. The problem with the Myth, as the word inherently implies, is that it denies reality. It deals with "what might have beens."
Public remembrances have to do with the needs and the agenda of today. The actual southern cause, which wasn't even universally felt among southerners, is dead.
All they're left with is NASCAR?
Today's anniversary stuff is just going to become an annoyance. That's because many southerners will choose to "commemorate" the war by trying to recognize the Confederacy.
It's my understanding that a past commemoration is what resulted in the Confederate battle flag symbol incorporated into some state flags. Later this became a controversy.
We want our southern brothers and sisters to simply be Americans today. Let the Civil War reside in textbooks and the like.
I used to subscribe to "America's Civil War" magazine. It's a much better way to appreciate that historic event than any school class.
Academia tends to frown on magazines like this, for reasons that I'm sure are tied to the need of teachers to feel primacy. They insist to their students that such magazines are lowbrow. Why? It's asinine. I don't want to waste another paragraph talking about it.
The Stanton House came to have two other names: "The Chimneys" and "Stanton's Folly."
Maybe the house didn't pan out as its original owners intended, for whatever reasons. Hence "folly."
A very pleasant volunteer at WWV, name of Katia Vantries, is among the inhabitants today. WWV is very nearby.
Vince Dalager used to live in the house. I was inside the house to interview two exchange students back in my corporate media days. It doesn't strike me as any type of "folly."
Lewis Stanton was one of four children from Edwin's second marriage. Edwin's first wife Mary (Lamson) died in 1844. He married Ellen Hutchinson in 1856 and they became parents of Eleanor (1857). James (1861), Lewis H. (1862) and Bessie (1863).
Lewis would have been born in the first full year of the Civil War. Is it possible Lewis was only 18 years old when he had the grand new home built here? That's what some quick math reveals.
I once heard, although I can't confirm, that he settled in Morris because of falling ill while traveling. Morris legend has it that the town appealed to him. It's nice to believe that.
I heard the accent on chimneys was health-related.
I hope the Stanton House stands well-preserved and maintained for many more years.
Click on the link below to see a vintage photo of the Stanton House, in its 19th Century glory:

It's interesting we have two landmarks here that are closely tied to the Civil War, considering how far to the west we are.
I have written two posts previously about the other landmark: the Sam Smith statue at Summit Cemetery.
Click on the link below to see my photo of that statue:

The Civil War never fades for long in our collective consciousness as Americans. The guns are silent but there's still conflict.
We can hope all this anniversary stuff doesn't fan flames. But it could.
We hear today that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has refused to condemn a proposal to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest with a license plate. Forrest was a Confederate general and post-war became a leader of the KKK.
I should note here that the KKK issue might not be what it seems. I have read that the KKK at its very inception was different from the monster it later became. At its inception its purpose apparently was to protect former Confederates from harassment.
So let's put aside the KKK aspect. It's bad enough that General Forrest led the 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.
He was considered a great military strategist. The South needed a few more of those.
In the movie "The Horse Soldiers" (John Wayne), the townspeople in the little southern town kept saying "General Forrest is coming." He didn't, so no actor was needed to play him.
Morris can feel fortunate having such visible reminders of the Civil War as the Stanton House and Sam Smith statue.
We're not conflicted, as we're totally Union in our sympathies.
We won.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Brave Owls get on winning track 14-0

The Benson-Hancock Brave Owls played a competitive brand of softball in the pre-Easter phase of the schedule, but stumbled to a 1-2 record. The two losses could easily have been reversed.
Coach Ken Grunig's squad lost its first two games before leaving nothing to chance in game #3. The Brave Owls erupted to score 14 runs while holding Lac qui Parle Valley to zero. This diamond action was on Tuesday, April 19, at LQPV.
The Brave Owls wasted no time asserting themselves, scoring four runs in the first inning, three in the second and one in the third. They polished things off with a six-run fifth.
Coach Grunig had to feel pleased with the zero errors his team committed. B-H outhit the Eagles 11-5.
The shutout saw Sara Rajewsky and Kendra Schmidgall share the pitching credit. Rajewsky started and tossed the first three innings, to be succeeded by Schmidgall who threw the last two.
The ten-run rule came into play after five innings.
The productive B-H offense included Natasha Wiebold going two-for-four with two runs scored. The other Brave Owl with multiple hits was Schmidgall with two-for-four numbers including a double.
Mackenzie Jensen crossed home plate twice as part of going one-for-three. Datriana Jensen was busy on the basepaths too as this Brave Owl scored three runs as part of her one-for-two afternoon. Datriana's hit was a double.
Brennan Hagen went one-for-three with two runs scored. Sara Rajewsky went one-for-three, Kayla Jones one-for-two, Kelsey Sonnabend one-for-two and Samantha Berens one-for-one.
Tiana Tosel and McKenzie Long each had two hits for Lac qui Parle. Mackenzie Clark had the other Eagle safety.
Rajewsky was the pitcher of record for the winning Brave Owls. She struck out one batter and walked two, and allowed four hits in her three innings.
Kendra Schmidgall struck out a batter but was a little shaky with control as she issued five walks. She allowed one hit in her two innings.
Alyssa Harms did all of LQPV's pitching.

Loss in 14 innings at home
Benson-Hancock hosted rival Morris Area Chokio Alberta on Monday, April 18, in a game that clearly could have gone either way. A winner couldn't be determined in the standard seven innings. The game ended up having twice that duration.
B-H fans could bemoan some prime missed opportunities by the squad. The Brave Owls had runners in scoring position in the eighth through 12th innings.
"What might have beens" don't translate to victory though.
It was the visiting Tigers winning this WCC-South struggle in the 14th inning. They in fact pushed across four runs in the top of the 14th, taking advantage of an unfortunate B-H error. It was an outfield miscue and allowed Tiger Katie Holzheimer to score from second base.
That was the go-ahead run. The Tigers added a cushion after that, and B-H would have to regroup for another day.
The final score: MACA 7, Benson-Hancock 3.
Despite the extended length of this game, each team needed just one pitcher. It was Sara Rajewsky doing the work for Benson-Hancock.
The teams fielded cleanly, each committing just one error. The Tigers outhit B-H 12-9.
Natasha Wiebold had two hits in five at-bats and scored two runs. Mackenzie Jensen picked up three hits in her six at-bats.
Brennan Hagen posted two-for-five numbers with an RBI. Datriana Jensen had a one-for-four evening. Kendra Schmidgall had a double in her five at-bats.
Rajewsky's pitching arm was resilient but she couldn't get the edge on MACA's Mackenzie Weatherly on this day.
The determined Rajewsky struck out four batters, walked five and allowed 12 hits in her 14 innings. Four of the runs she allowed were unearned.

Opener was at Minnewaska
The new season began for the Brave Owls on Tuesday, April 12. A very competitive game developed with Minnewaska Area at the 'Waska diamond.
The teams got going scoring in the third inning and scored regularly the rest of the way. The Brave Owls rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth but they had fallen too far behind prior to that. The host Lakers won this game 9-8.
This was actually the Lakers' fourth game of the season. They outhit the Brave Owls 11-8 and overcame five errors (compared to three by B-H).
Brennan Hagen had an authoritative bat in the season opener. This Brave Owl went two-for-four including a double, and drove in three runs.
Kendra Schmidgall had a double as part of her two-for-four afternoon and drove in a run. Datriana Jensen picked up an RBI and finished one-for-four.
Also hitting safely were Natasha Wiebold (one-for-five), Mackenzie Jensen (one-for-three) and Kelsey Sonnabend (one-for-four).
Kendra Schmidgall was tagged with the pitching loss. Three of the nine runs she allowed were unearned. The Lakers got to her for eleven hits. She struck out two batters and walked one.
Sara Rajewsky pitched one inning and fanned a batter.
Sydney Joos was the winning pitcher for 'Waska. She shared the pitching load with Kaylee Jacobs.
Kaylyn Oberg had a hot bat for the Lakers, going three-for-four with two RBIs.
The Benson-Hancock Brave Owls will host Yellow Medicine East on Monday, April 25, and visit Montevideo Tuesday.
The weather predictions sound encouraging. It's about time.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tigers beat 'Waska in softball, baseball

The MACA softball and baseball teams prevailed on the diamond Tuesday. The MACA girls took their unbeaten record on the road to face another unbeaten: Minnewaska Area.
Meanwhile the boys hosted the 'Waska Lakers in a game that was originally scheduled for evening hours. The boys ended up playing at 5 p.m. at Chizek Field, perhaps because some uncooperative weather was on its way.
Sure enough there was a rain/snow mix as evening arrived. The boys completed their game under acceptable conditions.
The boys beat Minnewaska 3-1. The softball girls won 9-6 at 'Waska.

Softball: Solid pitching and hitting
Coach Mary Holmberg's Tigers looked confident at bat and pounded out 17 hits in their 9-6 triumph.
It was a low-scoring game until the fifth when Morris Area Chokio Alberta unleashed a six-run rally. But the Lakers answered with their own six-run outburst in the bottom of that frame. MACA led 7-6 when that inning was done.
The Tigers secured a little breathing room with two runs in the sixth.
The Tigers outhit Minnewaska 17-7 and out-fielded them too, as the MACA error total was a mere one while 'Waska had four.
Then we have pitching: MACA ace Mackenzie Weatherly made another statement with her resilient arm, this time striking out 14 batters. Two of the six runs she allowed were unearned. Her control was top-notch too: just one walk issued.
Kaylee Jacobs was the losing pitcher. Sydney Joos and Maddie Phillips also pitched for Minnewaska.
Sadie Fischer supplied punch in the offensive scheme of things for the unbeaten Tigers: Fischer socked a run-scoring double in that big fifth inning rally. She also contributed to the insurance rally in the sixth.
Sadie finished the day at three-for-five with two RBIs.
Courtney Ehleringer also connected for a run-scoring double in the fifth. Courtney had a two-for-four day.
Several Tigers found the Lakers' pitching to their liking. Hannah Sayles was nearly perfect with three-for-four numbers.
Hayley Scheldorf leaned into 'Waska pitching to produce two-for-five numbers including a double. Scheldorf drove in two runs.
Weatherly supported her own pitching with two hits in four at-bats including a double. Hayley Heinrichs doubled and drove in two runs as part of going two-for-four.
Katie Holzheimer went one-for-five with an RBI. Dani Schultz wielded a trusty bat like always, this time going two-for-three.
Aundrea Johnson kept the Lakers close with a three-run home run in the fifth. She also had a double. She posted three RBIs to stand out in the 'Waska attack.

Baseball: Eric Riley stands out
Eric Riley tripled and drove in three runs as part of going two-for-three in the MACA baseball team's 3-1 win over Minnewaska Area at Chizek Field. The skies were gray but the weather didn't unleash anything nasty, yet.
The full seven innings were played as coach Lyle Rambow's squad picked up their third win in as many games.
Eric Riley picked up a save in the pitching department too. He handled the Lakers with ease in his two innings of relief work, giving up no hits or runs, walking none and striking out three.
Alex Erickson was the winning pitcher. Erickson's stat line included six strikeouts, just one walk, three hits allowed and one run (earned). His stint as starter covered five innings.
The Tigers worked efficiently, holding the game to just under 1 1/2 hours to complete.
It was Riley singling to drive in Erickson to give the Tigers their first lead of the day. 'Waska was able to tie the score on a Kevin Jenks double.
Riley came to the fore again in the fifth, tripling into the left-center gap to drive in Erickson and Ryan Beyer. Beyer had doubled to push Erickson over to third. Erickson finished with two-for-four boxscore numbers and scored two runs.
Tyler Hansen, Beyer, Mitch Kill and Brady Valnes all went one-for-two. Brody Bahr had a double in his only at-bat.
The Tigers fielded cleanly, committing just one error.
The Lakers' three hits were by Shane Bosek, Kevin Jenks and Andrew Amundson. The losing pitcher was Trenton Berg.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta diamond teams are getting psyched for the month of May! Let's see the temperature creep up a little.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boys start season scoring frequently

The MACA baseball team began its season in a stop-and-start sort of way. First there was the opener, which coach Lyle Rambow's squad won decisively, 13-1 over ACGC. That game was played on Tuesday, April 12.
The weather dealt an impediment to taking the next step. It's to be expected in mid-April most years.
Finally the Tigers took the field for game #2 and it resulted in a one-sided score just like in the first game. The Tigers crushed Breckenridge 15-0 on Monday, April 18.
Both of these games were on the road.

MACA 15, Breckenridge 0
The "zero" posted by Breck indicates this was a day for the MACA pitching to shine. Shine it did, as Tyler Hansen and Mitch Kill were in the groove on the hill to slam the door on the green-clad Cowboys.
Together this Tiger duo pitched a no-hit gem in the abbreviated action (five innings). The one-sidedness of the game held it to five innings.
Hansen picked up the pitching win with his stint of three innings. He set down five Cowboy batters on strikes and walked one. Kill had an efficient two-inning stint and this Tiger fanned two batters and walked one.
The two pitching whizzes combined to face just one batter over the minimum.
The Tigers were already in command, up 5-0, when they unleashed a ten-run rally in the fifth. Breck showed the kind of unraveling that can happen this time of year.
Breck issued seven walks, allowed two hits and muffed two fielding plays to let MACA surge in the fifth.
Coach Rambow could smile about the zero errors committed by his squad.
Alex Erickson zeroed in on Breck's pitching for two hits in as many at-bats. One of those hits was a double, and this Tiger drove in three runs.
Brody Bahr doubled and drove in two runs. Tyler Hansen supported his own solid pitching work by doubling and driving in two runs. Cole Riley rapped a double too and picked up a pair of ribbies.
Other Tigers hitting safely were Brady Valnes, Matt Lembcke and Evan Schultz.
Three players pitched for Breck: Zach Hegge, Bobby Paulz and Casey Materi.

The ACGC Falcons unraveled in the fourth inning to open the door for a backbreaking Tiger rally in the season opener. The issue was decided once the fourth inning was done. The Tigers could tuck away the opener in the win column.
A parade of 14 Tigers came up to bat in the fourth. The Tigers pummelled the Falcons to the tune of eight runs in that frame. This added to the two Tiger runs in the first, one in the second and two in the third.
The final line score showed MACA with 13 runs on nine hits and just one error. ACGC had a dues-paying afternoon with seven errors.
Matt Lembcke pitched three innings for the win. He allowed just one hit, struck out five batters and walked two while blanking the Falcons.
Coach Rambow called on the pitching arms of Alex Erickson and Eric Riley too. The pitching threesome was solid.
Erickson struck out two batters, walked one and allowed one hit and the one ACGC run which was unearned. Riley allowed no hits and walked none.
Tyler Minnick scored the only ACGC run, taking advantage of the one MACA fielding miscue.
Alex Erickson had a double and two RBIs as part of a two-for-four day. Ryan Beyer knocked in a run as part of going two-for-four.
Brady Valnes picked up two ribbies while going one-for-three. Eric Riley contributed a double to the mix. Taylor Hufford drove in a run to go with his one-for-three boxscore line.
Cole Riley had a hit in three at-bats. Tyler Hansen finished at one-for-two with an RBI.
Two Falcons hit safely: Marty Peterson and Dylan Rossell.
ACGC's pitching was handled by Trever Heining (the loser), Rossell and Ryan Larson.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta baseball is looking forward to seeing lots of fans turn out once the inevitable warmer weather arrives! We have had to be patient. It's a Minnesota quality.
Click on the link below to access the MACA baseball page on Pheasant Country Sports:


- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

MACA girls outlast B-H on the road

Tigers 7, Benson-Hancock 3
The postponements that often occur in early spring can make it difficult for teams to find the kind of rhythm they'd like.
So, maybe it was a good thing for MACA's Monday game to extend into several extra innings.
The previous week had ended badly from a weather standpoint. Actually the forecast for Monday wasn't too hot either. But we seemed to be spared the worst of what had been expected.
School officials gave the thumbs-up for Monday's game. The MACA girls' assignment was to play in Benson. The Tigers locked horns with Benson-Hancock in what turned out to be a marathon affair.
The pitchers were resilient. Mackenzie Weatherly's arm was good for all 14 innings for the winning Tigers. Sara Rajewsky likewise pitched a complete game for the Brave Owls.
Coach Mary Holmberg's Tigers won this WCC-South showdown 7-3.
Benson-Hancock committed a costly outfield error that allowed Katie Holzheimer to score the go-ahead run in the 14th. Holzheimer was able to come around from second base to dent the dish.
The dish got dented three more times before this MACA rally was over. The four runs all scored with two outs.
B-H fans endured heartbreak as their team threatened regularly in the eighth through 12th innings. In that span, they got runners in scoring position but couldn't push them in vs. Weatherly.
B-H as the home team could have ended the game immediately with just one run scored. But Weatherly bore down to shut the door. She has emerged as a dominating pitcher in the area in this young season. She set down the last seven B-H batters to face her.
Holzheimer worked Rajewsky for a walk in the top of the 14th. Holzheimer was a patient and fussy batter all afternoon; this walk was her third.
Remember that walks don't count as official at-bats. In terms of official at-bats, Holzheimer finished a perfect two-for-two, so she was productive indeed, scoring three runs in the process too.
Just one run of the three that Weatherly allowed was earned. She scattered nine hits in this marathon test of her arm. She fanned 12 batters and walked three.
Unearned runs were a problem for both pitchers even though each team committed just one error. Four of the seven runs that Rajewsky allowed were unearned. She allowed 12 hits, struck out four batters and walked five.
The score stood 3-3 when the regulation seven innings were done. Each team scored one run in the third inning and each scored two runs in the fifth.
Dani Schultz showed command with the bat, connecting for two doubles and driving in two runs as part of her four-for-seven afternoon. Sadie Fischer scored two runs as part of going three-for-seven.
Hannah Sayles got to Rajewsky for two hits in seven at-bats. Haley Henrichs went one-for-five with a run scored.
The B-H offensive contributors were: Kendra Schmidgall (a double in five at-bats), Brennan Hagen (two-for-five with an RBI), Datrianna Jensen (a hit in four at-bats), Mackenzie Jensen (three hits in six at-bats) and Natasha Wiebold (two-for-five and two runs scored).
Morris Area Chokio Alberta softball will be striving to keep its record unblemished as the schedule heads into the (hopefully) warmer spring weeks!
Click on the link below to reach the MACA softball page on Pheasant Country Sports:


- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 18, 2011

When behavioral psychology was king

Behavioral psychology was all the rage in the mid-1970s. I'm not sure what kind of currency it has today. Academia is famous for moving from one set of buzzwords to another.
It's not as if we'd ever want to reject behavioral psychology. Behavioral psychology is simply the epitome of common sense. It suggests that human behavior is learned.
It states that we repeat behavior that is "reinforced," for which we get positive feedback and have a positive outcome.
We seek not to repeat behavior that. . . Ah, you know the rest.
It seems awfully fundamental. But it was presented to young people in the 1970s as if it were revelatory.
I remember feeling puzzled at the time. No one doubts that we are more likely to repeat behaviors for which we have a favorable outcome.
What a child of six might ask next, is whether this simple statement of principle explains all human behavior. Academia in the 1970s insisted it did. It was fiercely enunciated.
If you even shared a suspicion about whether the principle was overly simple, the glaring eyes of some Caesar in his palace professor might come down on you.
I remember a professor who trashed a textbook he assigned in his own class. I would guess he was required to assign it. It was a psychology professor co-teaching a course in the education department (for aspiring teachers, where I dabbled for a short time).
This professor was mesmerized by behavioral psychology. He needed to be de-programmed. Someone needed to grab him by the shoulders and shake him.
He gave out a quiz in which all he did is ask questions about whether the author had adequately explained the basis for kids' behavior.
The psychology of adolescence must be fascinating. I gather that the book was quite good. But the professor kept drumming it into our heads that it was worthless.
Because when all is said and done, in his mind, all you have to know about adolescent behavior or anyone's behavior is behavioral psychology. It could fit on one page. Or in one sentence.
"Human behavior is learned."
Mr. Spock of Star Trek might appreciate this. But not Dr. McCoy. These two would spar on behavior issues.
"Stop thinking with your glands," Spock would scold McCoy.
We have learned a lot about how different parts of the brain affect who we are. All things being equal, we repeat behavior that is rewarded. But it's foolish to subscribe to this one principle and then depart from the discussion.
The one principle was popular in the '70s because academic types like revelatory things.
"Forget about what you think you know." Academia has the real answers. Actually academia has to pretend it has the real answers in order to command attention, which in turn is based on the really fundamental motivation here: getting funding.
It usually comes down to money.
When the realization grew that science and math were the keys to bettering our world, the humanities were stunned. Then the humanities tried to adapt. To the extent they could, they hitched their wagon to the scientific framework. The language of science crept in.
In poetry we'd learn about "iambic pentameter" and other such models, approaching structure in the manner a scientist would.
A friend of mine says she's studying "library science." Really? Aren't you just learning to be a librarian?
People learned that aping the sciences was the key to being considered relevant. Which is profoundly sad because the humanities have a richness that ought to sell itself.
Academia is a game of getting attention and money, especially the latter. I do think there is more accountability now.
The 1970s were atypical because America was in a mood of resignation. A recent promo for the movie "Blazing Saddles" stated "America was in decline" at the time this Mel Brooks movie came out. The movie lampooned a once-revered movie genre. So did "Young Frankenstein."
America had lost a war, the economy was bad and Watergate seemed to make us terminally cynical. So academia wasn't as inclined to lean on the old answers anymore.
Academia flailed around looking for a way out. Society and the people who ran colleges didn't seem to mind. Marxist principles were peddled unapologetically.
I remember reading an op-ed in the '70s (probably before the term "op-ed" even came into being) by a writer who really seemed to notice what was going on. He wrote that colleges had come to see themselves as "a refuge from a materialistic world."
"And that's not right," he opined.
I was there, witnessing all the swirling ideas seeking to deconstruct America, and can vouch for what that op-ed writer asserted.
Many of us disdained the business world. But if we weren't going to harness capitalism to ultimately live a comfortable life, why were we in college?
Why did these campuses even exist? How did they get built up to begin with if it didn't have something to do with American economic principles? What kind of future were we really envisioning?
Finally we had the Jimmy Carter "malaise."
America had to forget the failures of the 1970s and simply move on. That's exactly what happened, to the point where boomers who once exuded the hippie ethos (of eschewing materialism) put money in the stock market and came to see Republican politicians as something other than lizards. Many of them became Republicans and maybe even tea partiers.
You see, once people begin acquiring their own assets, they get suspicious of collectivism.
"I am my brother's keeper?" Forget it, my brother can get a voucher to purchase private health insurance.
We promoted egalitarianism in the 1970s. It turned out to be just an experiment.
Today we fully realize that General George Patton was right, that America loves winners and despises losers.
What I'm waiting for is the realization that this ethos taken to its grotesque extreme could take down America. That would not be very reinforcing.
Let's be reinforced by the principle of being our brother's keeper. In that event, behavioral psychology will be fine by me.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our love-hate relationship w/ small towns

One of my breakfast companions had an impulse to call the barber Tuesday morning. He used his cellphone right from where we were sitting.
It turned out there was an opening, so he left immediately. He left his coffee and napkin behind, saying he'd be back shortly.
"Only in a small town," one can observe.
You leave your place at "the diner" for a haircut and know your spot will be undisturbed until you get back.
There are highs and lows to small town life, to be sure. Roger Ebert has written about this. In the movie "Sweet Home Alabama," a character has to ponder whether to stay in the big city or go home to the quintessential small town.
Ebert said it wouldn't really be a plot spoiler to indicate how this would turn out.
"Is there really any doubt?" he wrote, or something to that effect.
Ebert said moviemakers instinctively feel the small town of America is utopian, sort of. How can we not feel charmed by the likes of "Mayberry?"
"Everyone knows your name at the local diner," Ebert wrote.
There's one problem with this mindset. Ebert wrote that the people who create movies actually have personal feelings that are the complete opposite. They would never choose to live in the classic American small town. They apparently like the anonymity and cosmopolitan atmosphere that a large city affords.
Garrison Keillor, a friend to Morris, has touched on this contradiction too. I was reading in a book by Keillor about how well-to-do retirees from a small town continue receiving their hometown newspaper. It's essential to them.
They send renewal checks to the paper with exotic place names on them, from places in the sunbelt. No humdrum street addresses. Instead it's colorful place names with references to flora and fauna that don't exist here. They have to know what's going on back home.
"Is Pete really selling the hardware store?"
They no longer live here and "wouldn't if you paid them," Keillor wrote.
They're right in there with the Hollywood types. They observe small town life with fascination but keep a personal distance, as if wearing a lab coat and taking notes. Which they are.
My friend at the restaurant, Glen Helberg, went to see barber Dave Evenson. Who knows what Glen could have learned visiting the barber.
The barber can give interesting leads on things happening locally. He's the small town equivalent of "the shoeshine guy."
A satirical TV series once had a shoeshine guy who was a fountain of local information. Of course you had to pay him. Just peel out some bills, as the Leslie Nielsen character did on that show.
Considering what the barber now charges, I almost feel like I ought to be getting something more than a haircut.
It's nice to get a snippet or two of local information.
The recent fund-raising drive for the golf course was a prime example of a local topic prompting all sorts of talk, speculation and misinformation. Was there really a 100 percent serious bid from ag interests to plow the golf course under?
Where money is concerned, I'm always asking questions.
Why couldn't the golf course be handled as a normal business matter and not turned into a community fund drive? There are all sorts of good causes for our money. I'm not sure that golf, which tends to appeal to the most affluent among us, merits that kind of support.
We live in a country in which the rich are getting richer. Let the rich deal with the issues of a golf course. The location of our golf course has no redeeming qualities anyway.
We all know there are certain phenomena associated with a small town. The late unforgettable Walt Sarlette talked about one: two motorists coming toward each other on main street, who recognize each other and decide to roll down their windows and chat for a few seconds.
"And if you honk at them, they get mad," Walt said.
I actually think he was talking about towns smaller than Morris but it could happen here.
Terms like "small town" and "big city" are subjectively defined. Morris is big relative to Graceville. Alexandria is big relative to Morris.
I remember a Star Tribune writer once who seemed to poke fun at the smaller communities in Stearns County because they looked to St. Cloud as "the big city." She put "the big city" in quotes as if St. Cloud couldn't truly be viewed in those terms.
A couple years later I had an email exchange with a contact I had at the Strib, and shared this story. My contact said the metropolitan writers can be guilty of smart-aleck insinuations like this. It wasn't something to be proud of, she said.
If St. Cloud isn't big enough for you, you have problems.
Of course a big city doesn't have to be defined in those terms. Big cities of course have "neighborhoods." These are places where they actually might "know your name at the local diner."
The late author Theodore White wrote that a big city is "a collection of many communities." He was writing about forced busing for integration purposes. His point was that a big city shouldn't be viewed as a single entity.
Here's a central point I wish to make: the type of small town we associate with Norman Rockwell's America has largely faded into myth. The main reason is communications technology. No one needs to feel isolated anymore. Anywhere. Not even in Montana.
In 1958 we finally got TV out here in western Minnesota. Today we take for granted the seemingly hundreds of TV choices we have. It can be switched on in the middle of the night too. And of course there's the Internet. There are mobile devices I can't discuss knowledgeably.
You can lose yourself in all this stuff instead of gossipping at the local diner. Small towns simply are not culturally disadvantaged anymore. You can enrich yourself as easily here as in Manhattan, New York City. The big cities are actually starting to look undesirable.
I have even read that the neighborhoods surrounding St. Cloud State University aren't as safe as they once were. Their complexion changed in about the mid-1980s, I read. The topic came up in connection with St. Cloud State cancelling its Homecoming.
If I am to believe what an apparently knowledgeable person wrote, that part of St. Cloud has become one of those places where you're best off not taking a walk after dark. St. Cloud State is an old institution and it's in an old part of the city. It's falling behind.
What about Morris? If you work in the media you have the whip cracked over you to be positive. Boy, there are just new programs and ideas to promote a feeling of, well, just a good feeling about ourselves, or a good feeling among those people who fancy themselves community leaders.
I'm afraid that an objective look is more sobering. It seems Morris is contracting. Businesses have closed up. We abandoned our huge old school complex and grounds with no plan of demolition or firm idea of how to transition it to something else.
By "firm" I mean plausible and likely - doable.
The "green community" seems to be pie in the sky - an idea where bureaucratic types can stroke each other.
People talk about how the University of Minnesota-Morris ought to grow. Fine, but experience has taught me that UMM has never been interested in the suggestions from community people.
It does appear that UMM has discouraged the word "townies" for referring to townspeople. That always grated on me.
The colonel character in the movie "First Blood" used the term "jerkwater" to refer to the town where Rambo had his misfortune. Hollywood exaggerated this kind of thinking.
But this kind of thinking seems obsolete now as we have all become empowered by technology.
Also obsolete is the setting where the colonel and sheriff had their conversation: a bar where sexy-looking waitresses bounced around. The sheriff (Brian Dennehy) ordered "wild turkey," remember? Was he going back out to drive his squad car?
Movies reflect our culture at the time, albeit with exaggerations and some stereotypes.
Small towns survive with both ups and downs. The kind of tech that allowed my friend Glen to call the barber from his booth at McDonald's is an up. Our shrinking population is a down.
It's worrisome that the very small towns around Morris are losing so much. No more cafes in Cyrus or Donnelly. No more Spartans of Chokio-Alberta.
We can count on some peace and quiet. But it's going to get quieter.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pitcher Weatherly overpowers Falcons

Tigers 5, ACGC 3
The MACA softball team continued with its polished early-season form, this time surging from behind to get a win Tuesday. The Tigers' assignment on this day was to face Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.
Mackenzie Weatherly must have looked imposing in the eyes of the Falcon batters, as 17 of them went down on strikes in this 5-3 MACA win. The ball must have looked small.
Weatherly impressed with her control too as she issued a mere one walk. She threw a two-hitter at the visiting Falcons. Just one of the three Falcon runs was earned.
Two players pitched for the Falcons: Sydney Larson and Natasha Dallmann.
There was suspense in this game despite Weatherly's dominant pitching form. Morris Area Chokio Alberta actually appeared to be a little on the ropes for a time. ACGC scored one run in the fourth inning and two in the fifth before the Tigers began their scoring.
When the Tigers got going in the bottom of the fifth, it was impressive. It was with a five-run rally. When the dust cleared, coach Mary Holmberg's squad had enough runs to back Weatherly for the win.
MACA came out of this pleasant early spring day at 3-0. The Tigers overcame three errors while ACGC had two.
Weatherly was at centerstage in giving the needed push. Her single in the sixth inning drove in two runs and tied the score 3-3. She was one of just three Tigers hitting safely. Dani Schultz and Haley Scheldorf also hit safely. All three of these Tigers posted one-for-two numbers in the boxscore.
The two Falcon hits were off the bats of Dallman (with a triple) and Hannah Lang (a two-bagger).
Sydney Larson was ACGC's starting pitcher and she struggled with control, walking six batters and getting tagged with the loss.
Weatherly set down the Falcons on strikes in the first through third innings and the seventh.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

East side, west side, all around the town

The La Grand Hotel was once a grand landmark of west Morris. (Lakesnwoods.com photo)
Morris legend has it we were set up to be like Benson. The so-called business district would be divided between the two sides of the tracks.
Morris veered away from that design and clearly established its main street to the east. Atlantic Avenue became where all the retail shopping activity we associate with "main street" sprouted.
It was possible to charge for parking, so popular and essential were the attractions of main street. I remember pushing coins into parking meters.
In the early 1980s I wrote about the government "Main Street" program that was supposed to keep the traditional main street vital. I'm afraid this was the typical unrealistic government program.
Ron Meiss was hired to run it here. Ron was a very pleasant and articulate fellow to run across. I'm sure he did all he could in the role.
There was a big presentation at Edson Auditorium (UMM) that featured some non-local Main Street representatives. I'm not so generous in how I would describe them.
One of them poked fun at a piece of artwork in front of Morris State Bank. That's the bank known as Bremer today. It was a snarky comment and uncalled-for.
Judging art is notoriously subjective. One man's art is another man's junk. When I was in college I felt there was nothing more worthless in the world than a freshmen-level art class.
It seemed insulting to me for a bureaucratic individual to come here and pooh-pooh a local bank's gesture for providing public art. Best described as a stone sculpture, this art showed up in a slide presentation.
"I'm not saying I don't like it, I just don't understand it," he said.
What you're saying is you don't like it, you fool.
Alas, our society was a sucker for some of the excesses of government in the early 1980s.Ronald Reagan was going to take care of that.
Conservative politicians would say programs like "Main Street" could take a flying leap. Conservatives didn't have the political capital they have now. They could throw rocks from a distance but were largely spectators on lots of things.
The Great Society of LBJ still hung over us a little. We had thought that government programs could do so much to lift us up. "Main Street" was an example of how a good idea could languish, become irrelevant and waste money in practice.
I have to laugh because to the extent local businesspeople seemed supportive, it was for the wrong reason! They just felt that if our esteemed government chose Morris for its Main Street efforts, good things would follow simply because the government wanted a favorable outcome. I heard Bob Stevenson say "it'll be a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Government might pull strings. It wouldn't have anything to do with the grandiose talk of those three individuals who spoke at Edson that night.
One of them must have used the word "facilitate" seven or eight times. "Facilitate" is the height of bureaucratise.
They talked about some common sense ideas for which we certainly didn't need government. One of them was the importance of dressing up the back of your business. That area should be as attractive and inviting as the front, they said.
Nothing wrong with that idea. But if our businesspeople are so clueless they can't grasp ideas like this themselves, we're in trouble.
Of course it turns out that our businesspeople aren't clueless at all. They have always known best.
"Main Street" was a spasm of denial about what was happening to the traditional small town main street. There might have been a popular perception that it was dying. The parking meters did get pulled in the late 1970s.
Change is always disconcerting. We're comforted by things staying the same. The women go shopping on main street while the men go to the pool hall, right?
Well, maybe in Norman Rockwell's America that's the way it was. We had a social and economic ecosystem that made sense then. We eventually get dragged through change.
Morris' main street is hardly decaying today. It's just different. It's more low-key. The density of people traffic is less.
But it still definitely lives up to the name "business district."
It's nice to see some things haven't changed like Eul's Hardware. But the pool hall is gone with the wind, like the parking meters.
I am surprised that the institution of the "main street diner" didn't survive here. There is no restaurant that fully fits that description now. Paynesville has two of these: "Tuck's" and "The Wishing Well." How about a nice hot beef sandwich for lunch?
As west Morris developed, it gave up trying to compete with the commercially-oriented east side.
There were a few public attractions there. I'm old enough to remember the La Grand Hotel, the mention of which puts a smile on the face of Morris native turned author Dennis Clausen.
Wells Park is the home of Little League Baseball in summer.
Then we have the Carnegie building. When I was a kid it was the public library. I fondly remember the very stout and capable female librarian who presided. The library was a place to stay quiet.
I can remember her fondly because I don't have to worry about getting "shushed" by her anymore. She got across the message very clear. It was with a quick and decisive gesture: "Shhh!"
I remember checking out a book there called "Rufous Redtail" and being entranced by it. It was a story about a redtail hawk family, giving them human traits - a technique that I believe is called "anthropomorphic." Walt Disney liked it.
The book had an orange cover.
Like so many old buildings, the Carnegie library looked far more impressive from the outside than it was on the inside. Inside it seemed cramped.
The building served its purpose nicely for its time but we would need more space. Eventually, after our old National Guard Armory burned down, the city located a new public library on that spot.
What if the armory hadn't burned? Would it have been razed anyway? Are such fires total "accidents?" Oh, I shouldn't say that but we all think it, like in connection to the fire that destroyed the old Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood.
Today we see a new state of the art facility on the Lakeside site.
I remember playing elementary basketball in the old Morris armory (under coach Marvin Laabs).
There actually was competition between the east and west sides of Morris for the Carnegie building. On this the west had one of its rare victories. The west won the right with a promise to donate $500 to beautify the grounds.
The grounds? I'm not sure what you'd even call "the grounds" there.
The building itself was striking on the outside. Our Historical Society moved into the building in 1970. Personally I think the Historical Society and museum would have been better served located on the east side.
The west is a wonderful place for residential purposes but it's not a public hub. A glaring weakness is lack of any special parking provisions around the museum.
Put simply there should be a "lot" somewhere close, but instead we have residential streets, somewhat narrow and uninviting, with slopes down to the curb that seem excessive in places.
If you want to park close on the day of a public event there, good luck. You might be tempted to try "parallel parking" between two other vehicles, the way we all learned in driver's education class, but which we all find to be a hassle.
Nick someone else's car and you have to deal with an insurance agent for a couple of weeks.
Forget it, there ought to be some kind of lot basically next to the building.
But there was a need felt to maintain the Carnegie building, grand on the outside but worthless on the inside, so the community approved an expansion project.
The new wing would be capable of housing the museum in full. I would describe the old Carnegie part as negligible and vestigial. It feeds nostalgia is all.
A visitor to the new wing immediately sees a long flight of stairs going up. Of course there's an elevator, but the elevator had to be an appreciable expense for what is essentially a one-story proposition (for the public).
I don't think the residents of west Morris would have cared if the Carnegie building kept a public purpose or not. As long as "the west side" is a nice place to have a home, that's all that matters.
No cemetery chimes, either.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 11, 2011

MACA softball springs out to 2-0 start

The early April weather cooperated for MACA softball to get two games played late last week. Not only was it good for the Thursday and Friday games to get the thumbs-up, MACA fans could celebrate victory on each day.

MACA 4, Paynesville 1
Kelsey DeCamp's bat resonated with a double that put coach Mary Holmberg's crew in command on Thursday. DeCamp drove in three runs with this blast that came in the third inning. It put Morris Area Chokio Alberta in command en route to a 4-1 win over Paynesville, here.
The score stood 4-1 after DeCamp got perched at second. After that the Tigers cruised on the strength of Mackenzie Weatherly's pitching.
Weatherly, a seasoned hurler, marked opener day with a complete game gem of seven innings. She allowed but two hits and set down nine Bulldog batters on strikes. She was in the groove with her control too, issuing a mere one walk.
She out-dueled Jackie Skoglund of the green-clad Bulldogs. Skoglund didn't walk anybody but she allowed eight hits.
The first Tiger run of the new season was driven in by Hannah Sayles. Sayles picked up her RBI in the first inning.
Coach Holmberg could feel satisfied with the balanced hitting. Haley Scheldorf stood out at two-for-three.
Otherwise the attack was marked by Tigers each getting one hit: Sadie Fischer (one hit in four at-bats), Dani Schultz (1/4), Hannah Sayles (1/3 and an RBI), Kelsey DeCamp (1/3 and three RBIs), Courtney Ehleringer (1/3) and Olivia Reiners (1/1).
The Tigers fielded cleanly, a great sign for so early. Their error total was a mere one while Paynesville had two.
Paynesville's Jenna Kincade seemed to have Weatherly figured out but she needed more help. For Jenna's part, she had a triple and single and drove in Paynesville's only run.

MACA 6, Yellow Medicine East 0
Weatherly didn't miss a beat going into Friday. The Friday story was a 6-0 Tiger triumph over YME that saw the Tiger hurler flirt with a no-hitter. She had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning.
There were in fact two outs in the seventh when a Sting player finally applied the sting to that no-hit bid. Ashly Sneller connected for a single up the middle for YME's first safety. It was a minor blemish when you consider all the MA-CA pluses on the afternoon.
Weatherly struck out 13 batters to complement her one-hitter. She was backed by an awesome offense as the Tiger batters came through with 14 hits. Weatherly was nearly perfect after issuing a first inning walk. She retired the Sting in order over the next five innings.
The Sneller hit will be quickly forgotten. What's important for the Tigers is that they entered the weekend with a 2-0 record.
The Friday game at YME was a little more suspenseful than you might think. It took a while for the MACA bats to get warm. The score at the end of four innings was 1-0.
Finally in the fifth, MACA got untracked to get some breathing room. The Tigers rallied for four runs in the fifth and tacked on an insurance run in the sixth.
The Tigers outhit YME 14-1 and committed zero errors to YME's two. Clean fielding this time of year is among the most encouraging signs.
Sadie Fischer had a double as part of going two-for-four. Dani Schultz had a hot bat, posting three-for-four boxscore numbers and driving in two runs.
Hannah Sayles and Kelsey DeCamp both finished at two-for-four. Mackenzie Weatherly looked just as proficient with her bat as when on the pitching rubber. Weatherly had a two-for-three showing and two RBIs.
Haley Scheldorf wielded a productive bat at two-for-three. Katie Holzheimer had a hit to round out the attack.
Weatherly set down 13 Sting batters on strikes, and walked just one.
The Tigers aim to build on that impressive start-of-season burst. April showers hopefully won't be too much of an impediment.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Watching spring unfold before our eyes

Bright blooms such as these on Morris area trees are a spring treat. (B.W. photo)

"It's spring. Everything is new. . .except me."
So spoke one of my college friends at St. Cloud State.
I wrote during the height of winter that maybe we'd be best off hibernating. This past winter seemed to lag like no other. When was the last time we had a true "January thaw?"
Spring can be late in coming but finally it pushes through. The days get longer and the drifts recede even if the temperature seems cold. Those stubborn last drifts are forlorn in their denial about what is happening to them.
There is a signal we can look for, to realize spring is fully here in Morris. It's when you can do the complete "loop" of the bike trail, 4 1/2 miles, and have dry pavement under you the whole time.
Whether biking or walking, there can be nothing more therapeutic.
And now we have the sight of not one but two wind turbines. They are our grand sentinels.
People pull on their summer clothing even with a little winter fat bulging out here and there. There is risk of getting sunburn the first time the temperature is truly warm. People smile at the thought of sunburn (a little) now.
The time is near to bathe ourselves in the great outdoors. The hibernation is over. Lately I have been out jogging a few times. It's fun to shoot a wave at others doing the same.
It seems to be more important than ever to maintain good health. Republican politicians are talking about how we ought to get vouchers to purchase private health insurance. I have read that this is a great system as long as you don't get sick.
Well I'm trying to reduce the odds of having health problems so I'm out on the pavement, huffing and puffing as I restore an old pastime of mine.
I used to resist the word "jogging" and insisted on "running." The vain pretensions of our younger years seem foolish when we get older. Heavens to Betsy, I thank the Lord I can "jog" today.
I cross the bridge over the swelling Pomme de Terre River and feel thankful we aren't on the list of communities that are threatened by springtime flooding. It must be a handicap to live in one of those towns. It must be a helpless feeling coming up against Mother Nature.
We're familiar with the names of those towns: Breckenridge, Granite Falls, Ada and several others.
There is a sameness to the video news reports from those communities every spring. It's like the wildfires in California.
I could joke that the video footage could be stored and then trotted out whenever the story became current again. Fires on hillsides. Water fiercely churning.
Of course we need to suppress joking. Gilbert Gottfried has learned that.
Fargo is a large community that gets in the crosshairs. But I think the media will be more skeptical the next time officials start pulling their hair out predicting a flood disaster there.
The last time this happened, it was the lead story on the NBC Evening News with Brian Williams. A headline on the Drudge Report suggested we might see a Katrina-level disaster.
Then the waters suddenly crested. It was surely a bad situation but not Katrina-like.
Maybe politicians in the Fargo-Moorhead region like to see the ballyhooed predictions of disaster, because it might help get more funding for flood control.
We always hear that Winnipeg has it made because of the grand measures enacted by men. Whatever Canada can do, we ought to be able to do. Apparently more could be done for communities like Fargo.
Until then we see the hair-pulling in the media each spring as the waters inexorably rise and scare the heck out of people. What a blessing for us in Morris that we can just be spectators.
Spring is a time of year when we reassess where we're at in life. Our minds seem to be stimulated, probably because of the greater amount of sunlight.
I suggest we strive to think about the good aspects in our lives. For me, I will have been unemployed for five years as of June 2. It's a troubling anniversary because so much uncertainty was thrust into my life.
Trying to "stick it out" in my former job would have caused me to age rapidly. The end would have come anyway. That company laid off two people here just within the last few months.
No one can feel happy in that industry now, as it's just a matter of clinging to lifeboats. This is no way to live. Tensions rise and friendships evaporate as each individual just thinks of survival.
The Robert Vaughn character in a World War II movie made an observation about the Nazis toward the end of the war: "A dying animal begins to bite at its own wounds."
I think that's roughly a decent comparison with the newspaper business now.
I can practice journalism today on my own online. But it doesn't pay the bills.
I hope the Riley boys are able to get out and appreciate spring at whatever penal facility they call home (Duluth?). They will have a couple more springs to appreciate from there. I wonder if the lyrics to Johnny Cash songs will start to make sense to them.
I'm sure they'll be back here to resume their roles as community icons. I used to see Joe Riley taking walks along East 7th Street - a perfect pastime for right now.
It will be interesting to see if the Riley Brothers Construction name stays on the Big Cat Stadium scoreboard this fall. I'm betting yes.
The big headline in the Star Tribune read "Tax cheats defended at home." In other words, we need to cling to whatever economic vitality we have. Paying taxes just drains money from the community.
But then again, where would UMM be if no one paid their taxes? I remember a cigarette company using springtime imagery to promote its product when I was young.
"Take a puff, it's springtime," intoned the commercials for Salem Menthols, if you can believe it.
One reason I remember it, is I used that slogan in a cartoon I drew when I was dabbling in cartooning. In the first panel a guy is standing outside his fishhouse, lighting up his Salem cigarette.
"Take a puff. . ." I wrote underneath.
And then the second panel: the guy is splashing around in the water, because after all "it's springtime."
Funny, eh? I never made it to syndication.
I hope to see lots of familiar faces as I'm out jogging in coming weeks. Our Pomme de Terre River will recede. Pretty soon we'll have the high school and UMM graduations and summer will be here.
Our too-short summer. . .
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In this, our concerns are not "inflated"

Michael Kinsley once wrote that inflation comes along once every generation. Inflation isn't just one of those little economic phenomena that we can easily absorb. Inflation assaults us.
We associate it with higher prices but it also comes in the form of smaller packages. Many writers have noted that the latter is becoming a popular adaptive strategy by manufacturers.
Cereal manufacturers have long told us that "contents may have settled during shipping." Does it seem like those words appear larger now? If it seems like you're only getting half a box, you're not supposed to fret.
People figure all this out eventually, though.
A major wave of inflation is like a sudden new tax. Your money is devalued.
There are strategies to keep your head above water. One of these is going to the "big box" stores. These are much better developed than when I was a kid (when it seemed you had to go to "the Cities" to visit a Target store).
When I was a kid, we had the mother of inflationary bursts. This is what Kinsley talks about when he makes the once-every-lifetime reference. This is our tolerance level.
But how quickly we seem to forget when it subsides. I can hardly think of anything more worrisome.
Inflation crossed my thoughts here in Morris Saturday morning. I shoved three quarters into that green Star Tribune vending box in front of DeToy's Restaurant.
Saturday is the only day I consider actually buying the Strib. On other days it's available for me to look at as I make my rounds. I could actually track it down this way on Saturday too, but I find it helpful to depart from my weekday routine.
So I go to DeToy's rather than McDonald's, willing on this one day to overpay for my breakfast. And it's helpful to touch base with waitress Felixia on NFL matters. The NFL is in tumult now with labor issues. I can read about it in my Saturday Star Tribune but it takes more than three quarters now.
What a rude awakening Saturday morning. After dutifully putting in my three quarters, I routinely yanked on the door of the box. My reflex was rudely rejected. At first the reality of a price hike hadn't dawned on me. Perhaps a case of no coffee yet.
I got some fresh air by walking over to Willie's Super Valu. I grabbed the Star Tribune and handed a dollar to clerk Mary Philiph. Mary revealed the historic news: Never again would the Strib cost less than a buck.
"It started this past week," she told me.
Now, this is curious: an industry that we all know is on the skids - newspapers - hiking product price.
Two thoughts: Has the Strib crossed a line in terms of charging beyond what many people will accept? Eventually that line is reached and crossed if you aren't careful. Newspapers are desperate.
But that doesn't mean they can extract more money from people just by, well, demanding it.
Thought No. 2: Will the new prevailing price of "a buck" make newspaper vending boxes totally obsolete? They have already been disappearing. Remember cigarette vending machines?
Four quarters for a newspaper is awkward, and if you really feel you need to be relieved of your money to get a newspaper full of stuff you could get online anyway, you might as well buy it from someone like Mary Philiph who can take your whole dollar and stuff it into the cash drawer.
It was a downbeat start to my morning. Talking with Felixia would compensate for that.
Paging through my Strib, I couldn't justify the price hike.
A quarter here and a quarter there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.
Inflation in the 1970s was truly scary. At its worst, inflation can bring disorder, the disintegration of government and the rise of despots.
Hitler's Germany rose out of the ashes of the Weimar Republic. It's instructive but we don't want to get carried away making comparisons with Germany of the mid-20th Century.
A top Wal-Mart executive got headlines last week when he warned that a burst of inflation is likely to come starting about in June. Wal-Mart might be a last refuge to find relatively low prices. When one of their top people finds it necessary to give a warning like this, it's worrisome.
Economic distress has a subtle effect on people. It affects their temperament. It affects the tone of the entertainment we choose. It affects our movies. Idealism wanes.
It's why, as Kinsley wrote, we can absorb inflation but once in a lifetime (or generation). Finally the brakes need to be applied and we swear "never again."
Paul Volcker applied the breaks at the Federal Reserve to slay the inflation beast of when I was young.
I remember going to First Federal Savings Bank (Savings and Loan then) and getting a certificate of deposit with 13 percent interest. People have told me it got even higher than that.
Imagine this kind of world again. It's why we must be vigilant keeping the Federal Reserve from printing money to solve every crisis. If you think these emergencies are bad, wait 'til we get a major wave of inflation. A big nest egg can shrivel up.
Price hikes are eye openers, like in the '70s, the first time I needed more than "a buck" to simply buy a hot fudge sundae at a St. Cloud Dairy Queen. I handed the clerk a dollar, not certain of the exact price but surely expecting some change. The question was just how much change, not that I cared a lot.
I think the price turned out to be a few pennies over a buck. I remember the clerk at first was going to just forgive the difference. But when I realized what was up, I dug out some extra money.
Years from now I'm sure I'll remember the surprise of a buck for the Star Tribune the same way.
Years from now there may be no newspaper vending boxes and maybe no newspapers! But I'm sure there will still be hot fudge sundaes.
Will this blog post look prescient if it's called up a year from now?
I certainly hope not.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 4, 2011

Education, the economy & our (tech) future

Politicians talk about "education" like they're going through a purification ritual. What could be more laudable than talking up education? What could make you more of a saint than advocating for the future of today's youth?
No one is against education and no one wants anything but a sound future for your youth. The platitudes don't really get us anywhere though.
The question always becomes how to feed the education beast. How do we manage this apparatus called "education" that costs a fortune and never seems to let up in its demands? A retiring bureaucrat once said "name one year in the last 20 when we didn't have an education funding crisis."
Given the treasure represented by kids, I suppose there are no limits to what one could spend. But there are limits.
Politicians are supposed to recognize that. Usually they don't unless they're forced.
The Federal government can print money. States cannot.
When I was a kid the Federal Reserve was the dullest subject you could name. We could hardly define it let alone explain what it was doing at any given time. I did have a friend, an amiable big guy of Finnish extraction from Virginia, MN, who was a little scolding about the distance we kept. He said the Federal Reserve could affect our lives more than any other institution.
Our eyes would be a little glassy listening to this. It wasn't until the great bull market reached its peak and started stagnating that people my age started paying attention. We looked to the Fed to keep greasing the skids in some manner.
The Fed chairman, who couldn't have seemed more anonymous when we were young, grew in our eyes to almost have divinity. Alan Greenspan was a wizard, many of us came to think.
It wasn't that we were suddenly intellectually curious. We were looking for an elixir to keep the Dow Jones jogging up. We were fixated on those arrows, green or red, next to the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq numbers on our TV screens.
The stock market had almost come to seem like a function of our TVs. "Analysts" sorted through each day's news to see how it might have affected the market. Fine, but these people had far fewer insights than it might have seemed. That's probably a generous way of putting it.
I remember economics expert Andrew Tobias writing that any reasonably well-read person who bought a morning newspaper and digested some of the CW (conventional wisdom) could seem just as knowledgeable.
You must constantly remind yourselves that the media are a product. It's shaped to get eyeballs. There is craftsmanship associated with it that has nothing to do with dispensing knowledge.
Which gets us back to the subject of education:
We expect schools to work miracles with children when in fact children emerge from school with about the same qualities from one generation to the next. I could invoke Sisyphus but that would be too cynical.
But maybe not, because there was a time when computers were supposed to be some dazzling new resource that would make our kids geniuses. I remember our Morris school superintendent in that seminal time using the word "phenomenal." The impact of computers for education would be phenomenal, he predicted, and I predictably shook my head.
If in fact education was going to make such giant strides, as he predicted - his initials were D.R. - the education establishment would not be able to lobby as effectively for increased funding. There was in fact a vested interest in maintaining a system where success seemed elusive.
How else could advocates for the system keep pleading with the lawmakers who hold the purse strings?
I would argue that computers have already had a phenomenal effect on the world around us. It's a done deal. But they haven't transformed education, yet, because the people who are employed in education need to maintain their primacy.
They pay lip service to computers and the Internet. On a personal level they indulge in this stuff as much as the rest of us. But they won't acknowledge the truly liberating effect of the new communications tech.
To be truly liberated means - I'm not exaggerating - that we don't need college libraries anymore.
Charles Murray has observed this in his book "Real Education." I didn't read the book but I heard him speak at length on C-Span. His book came out before the economic collapse. I suspect his words ring more true now in a time when young people will desperately seek to avoid the high cost of education after high school.
No college libraries? But what are we to do with all the infrastructure we've developed on our college campuses? It will become steadily less needed.
The problem is we cannot ax all these resources immediately. It would be too embarrassing for one thing. Also, too many oxes would be gored where politically there has been a continual feeding process.
The old status quo will be stubborn because there are too many people with vested interests. It will change because of necessity.
But we are just seeing the early stages of the process. The Wisconsin kerfuffle is definitely giving us a preview.
When I was a kid, virtually everyone "on the street" seemed to agree that public school teacher tenure was an excessive privilege. Everyone seemed to think that teachers unions were many-headed hydras with little redeeming quality. But nobody felt anything could really be done about it.
I'm mystified as I look back. The political process exists to serve us. We looked at the ossified aspects of our public education system like they were so much nasty weather, and we all know you can't do anything about the weather. Except that now, slowly, people are realizing that maybe something can be done about it.
Leave it to the Republicans to do the dirty work. Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. No one likes to fire anybody. Republicans will take it on themselves to do some of the draconian things. Democrats never would.
The public opinion polls turn against the Republicans in the short term. This is happening in Wisconsin and some like states right now. But in the long run, no one would actually want to turn back.
The Republicans will be guilty of some excesses. But promoting greater accountability in public education is a long overdue task that they are now rolling up their sleeves with.
In the future we will see much greater transformation. It's just too hard to swallow all at once. We're just starting to see the effects of communications tech on education.
The old model of the performer-teacher in front of the classroom, addressing maybe 25 young people each with a different level of pre-existing knowledge, different pace of learning and different aspirations for the future, will erode.
Young people actually do want knowledge that will help them. They always have. But they don't want to feel insignificant. They don't want to seek "good grades" like they're groveling at someone's feet.
Historically, a lot of the discomfort young people feel about education is due to too much of a "one size fits all" model. The new communications tech allows us to seek and assimilate information on our own terms. It gives meaning to the term "empowerment."
But it can be bad news indeed for people invested in the old system. The old system isn't going to go down without a fight.
But it will go down.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com