The Decorah Nespapers
January 17, 2017
  • RIP, Steve ‘Hoss’ Zbornik
        I never knew Steve all that well; mostly I ran into him at the library computers. But he always, without fail, had a joke or a horrible pun for me, and he always picked ones at which I wouldn’t take offense (I think we were at opposite ends of the political spectrum), and by which I would not be scandalized. 
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  • Public schools help students fulfill their promise

       On Nov. 16-17, members of the Decorah Board of Education and I attended the annual Iowa Association of School Boards Fall Conference in Des Moines. 

    Iowa school board members and superintendents attend the convention for a variety of reasons — the networking opportunities, sessions that feature new and innovative ideas, the possibility of discovering new ways to promote public education, learning how to become a better board member and more. I’ve been attending these for 24 years now, and if this wasn’t the best IASB Conference I’ve attended, it certainly was one of the best. I’m pretty certain our board members would agree with me.

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  • A verb I have come to hate

        Note: If you are not a grammar geek, you may want to skip to the closing paragraphs (“Given the plethora…”).

    This verb is mutilated in so many ways it should be excised from the language altogether. Here are the two most common ways in which it is misused:

    “The U.S. is comprised of fifty states,” and “Fifty states comprise the U.S.” (We’ll set aside Puerto Rico for the sake of brevity here.)

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  • Bullying, harassment taken extremely seriously
        Bullying and harassment, there is hardly a week which goes by that a news report doesn’t include some type of outlandish behavior by one child, or a group of children, unleashed upon another child. Think earaches, sore throats or runny noses top the list of reasons children visit the nation’s 1,700 school-based health centers? Try depression, anxiety, and trauma. 
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  •     Yesterday morning shortly after dawn I am standing with my wife and 9-year-old daughter (in her chore boots and pajamas) watching the Upper Iowa River rise over the fences in our lower pasture. 

    The cows are a few feet away, bellowing their wide-eyed blend of curiosity and anxiety first at the river, then at us. “Daddy, will the water reach the house?” my daughter asks with similar curiosity and anxiety.

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  •     Welcome to our patrons as I endeavor to communicate on a variety of topics brought to the attention of the Board of Education and administration of the Decorah Community Schools via our District’s needs assessment conducted last fall. 

    As Rick Fromm so eloquently pointed out in his column published July 21, I hope to create a dialog regarding these pertinent subjects in a series of articles to be published in the Decorah Journal over the course of the next several months.

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  • Some things don’t change
         I heard that the great Viking long ship that has traveled all the way to the United States from Norway is getting socked with a surprise $400,000 fee, to pay for the equally unexpected U.S. Coast Guard requirement that a special “Great Lakes” pilot be hired for the occasion. 
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  • Believe it or not, I was selected ‘Little Miss Y’

       It seems like every summer, the hard-working organizers of the area county fairs and Iowa State Fair come up with something else extraordinary to grab the public’s attention. 

    Whether it be chocolate-covered bacon, a wildly popular country star or an 80s tribute band, someone -- or many someones as the case may be -- always comes up with the perfect formula to bring people back year after year. 

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  • Shopping in Decorah - Never never on a Sunday

        Lyle and Sue Luzum’s June 23 letter to the editor stated their opinion that Decorah’s downtown businesses should be open on Sundays.

    I should mention that I am not a store owner; but I don’t think that the Luzums are, either.

    When I moved here 21 years ago, I showed up on a Saturday in August, and I figured that I would get my groceries the following day. When I went down to stock my pantry, Fareway – at that time situated where the Oneota Food Co-op is now – was closed. Coming from Chicago as I did, I was stunned. A grocery store, closed? On Sunday? After I stopped double-checking the doors and thought about it a moment, I smiled. “Good for you!” I thought.

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  • Complaints, complaints, complaints
      I  had my first experience of Skyping a while back, at my sister’s house, with my niece in Seattle. Here’s the weird thing: When I look at my niece on the screen, if she is looking at me on her screen, she seems to be looking away from me, somewhere down in the lower left-hand corner of my screen. 
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  • Philippe Petit: Glory of God or just nuts?
        We are a bellows filigreed by a red river, connected to an electrical system, connected to a chemistry system, connected to a sewage system that is located, as George Carlin said, right next to an entertainment center; and all of it is able to wander about willy-nilly on two sticks made largely of milk.
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  • Kindness: It’s free

    “We are proud of you.” 

    Just five little words, that can mean a lot to someone who hears them. 

    I started contemplating their meaning Sunday afternoon, as I drove past a hand-made sign that displayed this sentiment, somewhere on the side of the road between Calmar and Jackson Junction. 

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  • Student from Japan shares his culture, soaks up ours

        I learned this spring of a student at Luther who exemplifies the partnership between Luther College and Decorah as we both seek to educate our students well and help them engage with the broader world. 

    Masaki Nakamura, a young man from a town near Tokyo, attended Luther as an exchange student this past year because he wanted to learn about teaching methods in the United States, which are quite different from those in Japan. After researching U.S. colleges, he chose Luther for the quality of our education curriculum and faculty.

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  • The flip-side of perfectionism
       The thing that I love about writing grammar rants is that it is akin to waving a red cape at what is normally a meek and mild bull. The grammar geeks come out of the woodwork to take me down a peg or two by pointing out my own errors in the very articles wherein I ranted about bad grammar. 
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  • Adaptive P.E. class builds bonds

       Since coming to Luther College and Decorah, I’ve been delighted to see the many ways the college and town work together — students interning with Decorah organizations, arts collaborations, volunteer efforts and more.  

    I was especially interested and pleased to learn about Luther’s Adaptive Physical Education program, which serves pre-school and special needs students ages 3 to 21 from school districts throughout Northeast Iowa. Students from 13 districts that collaborate for special education with Decorah schools, along with children from Waukon and MFL MarMac schools, each come to Luther’s campus once a week during the school year.

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