Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

October 15, 2004

If we had a day like this in March...

...we would think it was beautiful. Melting snow! Warm winds! However, when weather like this comes in the fall, it is a rude slap in the face. Sleet, wet, wind, miserable. No work on the house today.

Had a fun day of teaching. A guest student arrived in World History. He is interested in Atilla the Hun, and he found out that we were covering that part of history today, so he showed up.

The textbook has all of 1/2 of a paragraph on Atilla the Hun, so I called the guest student, David, up front, and quizzed him for a few minutes about Atilla. Very interesting. The kid knew his stuff. He said he is going to come back when we cover Ghenghis Khan. I hope he does!

Then a student who hasn't said a word all semester--a sullen male sitting in the back who is occasionally gone--came up after class and asked if he could bring pictures of cathedrals to class when we covered that part of the course. Of course! I was going to bring pictures myself but now I won't have to.

That class is pretty fun. The other two are going pretty well, too, although American Government class is at the wrong time of day for me. I run out of steam, and so do the students. However, one student brought cake today, so that pepped things up for a bit.

Came home and took a long nap. Good day for that.


October 13, 2004

Brisk

The weather turned cold--tonight feels like it might freeze. The decline in temps was expected.

Several walls are framed up on the house already. I think I am going to kick myself for all of the exposed wood on the outside--it has to be gone over every few years. I wanted the look of real wood, but maybe I should have talked around a little bit. Oh well.

Classes today were fun. The students are relaxing a bit and enjoying themselves some more. I enjoy BSing with the students as I pass out their quiz cards at the beginning of class. There are three football types who always sit at the back row with their hats on backwards acting tough. I walked back there and the one said, "How are you today, Mr. Bergeson?" Oh, fine I guess, I said. "Need a hug?" he shot right back. I about died laughing.

Then in World History, Antwon from LA, who is usually all sunshiney and happy, seemed more somber than usual. I asked him what was up. He had been on the phone all night--one of his friends from back home in LA had been shot three times in the chest last night and was in critical condition. Ouch.

We talked about early Christianity today. One of the students in the back raised his hand--a good solid local Scandanavian--and said, with complete innocence, "Isn't it true that the first Christians were just like Lutherans and all the others, like the Catholics and all them, just drifted away?"

I said no, the early Christians were just like Baptists and all the Lutherans and Catholics and the rest of them just sort of drifted away.

The class sort of got out of control after that as everybody started good naturedly arguing with each other about religion. The clock struck. "You were saved by the bell!" said the student in the front row.

World Civilization has turned into the most enjoyable class. The students know I am just a day or two ahead of them, so they sort of take pleasure in doing the reading and making sure I get it right in lecture. They are pretty confident they will catch me if I slip up, and that seems to motivate them. About three of them are fond of breaking in to add things to my lecture that I left out. Needless to say, that is fine with me.

I have decided not to scold people who are flunking and who aren't doing the work. They know they are flunking. They know they aren't doing the work. They still come to class and they still seem to be having fun. And I enjoy most of them. I don't know what motivates them to continue to come to class, but they do, so I am not going to make it any more miserable for them than it must be already.

I got a real surprise on the last round of papers in government class. A girl who did very poorly on the test displayed an amazing ability to write. She constructed some very long and well-built sentences--I could tell they were hers, because they might could use some brushing up, but the talent was obvious.

So, I handed her paper back and said, do you know that you have talent? She jumped back a bit before recovering her dignity and saying, oh yes, she knew that.




October 11, 2004

More perfect weather

A busy Monday. Classes went pretty well. The World Civilization class is downright fun. The American Government class, which covers the topic I know the most about, sometimes is a struggle--since it is difficult to bring it down to the level of kids who have very little experience with government. I know they are trying to understand me, but I think I leave things out and in general I think I confuse them as much as anything.

For World Civilization, meanwhile, I am only two days ahead of the students. I am learning the stuff as I go. As a result, I think my lectures on the topic have more snap.

After classes, I went down to Fargo. Friend Andrea had an open house for her 64th birthday. Must have been 100 people there. Andrea has worked for the Forum for years and years. I met some fascinating people, and got to tour the house where Andrea grew up, one of the grand houses of Fargo, built in 1890. The present owners were gracious enough to host a party for Andrea there.

Andrea's parents were Democratic party activists, and they hosted a party at the big house when JFK came through North Dakota during the 1960 campaign. Andrea has pictures of herself with the candidate out back. There's a little room on second floor where JFK took a nap. No plaque, but it was kind of fun to imagine the event.

Then, the drive home. The beet harvest is in full swing. Lights moving slowly through the field after dark. Big trucks on the road. Mud coating the asphalt.

Due to the party, I missed Cousin Anne and her husband Bob, who, as they put it, dropped in at the nursery today. Anne created this website--which has now been in existence for about one year! I'll have to check the date and throw a party on the exact day, or something.

I GUESS the Kronch boys got the walls of the garage of the new house framed up today. I can't imagine how you'd know where to start--a stack of lumber and a slab. What next? I look forward to seeing the results tomorrow with a bit of trepidation.


October 10, 2004

Change of direction

So, there won't be much Twins talk on this weblog for a while! Wow, what a disappointment. The Yankees were just too much. They pieced together enough starting pitching to win the series. You just aren't going to keep their bats quiet unless you can find a way to squeeze about 30 innings out of Santana.

I don't argue with any of Gardenhire's moves, although I wouldn't have put Nathan in with a tie game in game two. I would have put in Crain, even though he's young.

This was just a series the Twins weren't meant to win. They lost it because Radke and Silva didn't pitch up to snuff. The reason those two probably didn't do so well is that the Yankees have the premier offense in baseball.

ONWARD AND UPWARD. It is almost a relief not to have baseball hanging over my head. I love it, and it is a relief when it is over. Isn't that the case with so many things in life? I love teaching, and it will be a relief when it is over. I love building a house, and it will be a relief when it's over. I love summer, and it is a relief when it is over. I love going to Arizona, and it is a relief to get back home.

KERRY today is getting beat up for saying he hopes terrorism will one day be merely a nuisance. I would go farther. It has never been more than a nuisance. Three thousand people died on 9/11 in an incredible stroke of misfortune for those people and a stroke of luck for terrorists. However, that many people were killed by drunk drivers in the next month--and nobody is putting their names in granite. Three thousand people were killed by handguns in the next three months, and nobody is putting their pictures in Time magazine.

It isn't a popular opinion, but the response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 has been histrionic and hysterical from the beginning. Yes, there is a threat. And no, it isn't that big a deal to a country as huge and powerful as ours. Would you rather go back to the Cold War when there was the constant threat of nuclear war?

Think of it: We lost something like 425,000 in World War II. The Russians lost 20,000,000. Now, those are numbers to worry about. The only worry is if some lunatic got ahold of a nuclear bomb. But that's been possible for the past 50 years.

So, I would go farther than Kerry. In the big picture, terrorists are merely a nuisance right now. They should not make us afraid. Yes, we should look for them and squish them when we find them. No, we shouldn't alter our daily existence one iota out of fear.

Easy to say when you live 300 miles from the nearest tall building or population center of any size.

TONIGHT I had a good time performing for a Mother/Daughter banquet in Thief River Falls. It was at Zion Lutheran there, and they had a beautiful Yamaha grand in a beautiful, resonant sanctuary. When I walked in, I saw a pipe organ, too, so I asked if I might perform on it as well.

Fun! I haven't played a pipe organ in several years. I practiced for about 15 minutes to get the feet right and did Toccata in D minor by Bach, an old chestnut.
Then I moved to the grand and played some Chopin, Beethoven, Joplin and Rachmaninoff.

I hesitated a bit because there were several accomplished pianists in the audience--something I am not. But--my only option was to sing Willie Nelson, and that seemed a bit out of place in a beautiful church like that.