Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

April 20, 2007

The media asleep at the wheel

Bill Moyers is at it again. Notice who didn't talk to him.


Running around

It has been a couple of busy days. You schedule days like this in the winter when things are slow, forgetting that running around in circles gets tiring and that you can't be in two places at once.

So, yesterday I was scheduled to be in Shelly for a Ladies Aid meeting at the same time I was supposed to be chairing a meeting of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation in Bemidji. I am loathe to leave Lutheran Ladies in the lurch (pardon the alliteration), so I fulfilled my obligation in Shelly, which included a delightful meal, and then drove 102 miles to Bemidji and got there as the meeting finished. It was followed up by six hours of strategic planning, however, so I the trip was worthwhile.

We went late last night in Bemidji and then started up again at 8 a.m. this morning, deciding what direction the foundation is going to take over the next five years.

We finished at noon. I came home and took a nap before heading to Thief River Falls.

My first mission there was to entertain and speak for a gathering of child care providers sponsored by the Foundation. My role was ambiguous. They had a piano. The organizer seemed to think I had a speech prepared, which I did not. So I had to make up my mind on the spot what to do.

The child care providers were women from the ages of 30-50. They seemed to enjoy being together. I know that those gatherings are for that purpose--so the people who provide child care have a chance to exchange war stories and get to know each other. I could tell that they would much rather visit with each other than listen to me talk. So, I gave a welcome as the chairman of the board of the Foundation, talked briefly about child care, saw that most of them were bored to death, and told them to enjoy visiting while I played piano.

I am not sure that is what the organizers intended, but the ladies talked loudly, I played in the background--until I had to leave to go to the Eagle's Club.

At the Eagle's Club they were, appropriately enough, having a banquet of the Audubon Society. After a nice meal, the program began. Before me on the program was an 11-year old boy who gave some amazing goose calls. In fact, he won a world-wide competition in goose calling in Anoka--against adults. He gave a delightful lecture on goose calls.

So, how do you follow that up? I had planned to speak on birds, but they had gone through the trouble of getting a keyboard from the local music store and setting it up with an amplifier. The organizers said that I had better play at least one song.

The business meeting and drawings had taken so much time, that I just played four songs, gave an abbreviated version of my bird talk, and left. They asked for an encore of Willie Nelson, which was nice, and then I drove home to catch the Twins...

...who proceeded to absolutely stink up the ballpark in Kansas City.


April 19, 2007

Chinese dissidents

To me, the news in this article is an outrage.

Can you imagine back during the Cold War what would have happened if American companies would have cooperated with the Soviet authorities in rooting out dissidents and sending them to the torture chamber?

Oh, but now China produces our cheap laptops and t-shirts. Suddenly our concerns about the human rights of their people have evaporated.

OTHER ZANINESS: Many have suggested that the real problem at Virginia Tech was that other students and professors were not armed. What we really need, goes this line of reasoning, is more people carrying concealed weapons.

Columnist Cal Thomas made the argument that if the gunman had known that there might be people with guns who would stop him, he probably wouldn't have gone on his rampage.

Really? The gunman wanted to die. He expected to die. What makes Thomas think that the threat of dying a few minutes earlier would stop him? His argument is just plain crazy on the face of it.


April 18, 2007

Shootings

Anybody think we should check out the psychiatric background of people before they can stock up on guns and ammo? Anybody?

It says something about the gun politics in this country when the president feels he has to start his first statement after the Virginia Tech massacre with the phrase, "Although the president is committed to the right to bear arms..." How in the world did that phrase find its way to the beginning of a statement of sympathy to the victims of a shooting? I mean, were his handlers really worried that any sympathy expressed towards victims of a shooting might be interpreted as softness on the gun issue?


Web sounds

After relishing the train whistles from the Seattle ballpark over my stereo system, the thought occurred to me: If we can have webcams which broadcast live images over one's computer from all over the world, why can't their be web microphones which broadcast live sounds from famous locations? In stereo?

I envision turning on stereo sounds of Central Park, for example. Or a street in Shanghai. Or a zoo. Or a street market in Paris. Or the stock exchange. Just the sound, no commentary.

Perhaps this sort of thing already exists on the web. If anybody knows of such a service, please let me know.

Meanwhile, I will continue to think of places where I would like a live microphone piped into my house.

Mmmmm....

London Victoria Station, where the loudspeaker voice announces all of the trains in a most euphonious English accent. There would be train whistles there as well.

A race track in England where people are placing bets with bookies the old fashioned way, with chalkboards and hand signals.

A bar in New York City.

A hallway outside of a hearing room in Washington D. C.

City sounds from the top of the Empire State building.

A public square in Poland frequented by gypsy bands.

A mosque.

The interior of a European cathedral with an active choir which practices often.

Actually, if there were a microphone in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on a Sunday, through all the services and organ concerts, I would be glued to my stereo.

The Arctic wildlife refuge in May.

The Amazon.


Silva

Mea culpa. After blasting Silva all spring training and expressing my view that they should dump him, he is now the Twins best pitcher. Tonight, he is shutting down the Seattle Mariners. What a heartening story it would be if he could have a great season.

But the best thing about the broadcast of a game from Seattle are the train whistles which sound every ten minutes. The park was designed around a rail yard. I turn the sound way up just to hear the whistles.


April 17, 2007

Hooded merganser pair



Twins on late

Ah, I love these late games on the coast. I can never wind down in the evenings fast enough to get to bed before midnight anyway, so I am happy to sit and watch the Twins in Seattle from nine o'clock onwards.

LAST EVENING I spent in Glyndon, MN at a meeting sponsored by the DNR designed to decide the deer population goals for northwestern Minnesota. I went into the meeting expecting to be bored, but came away impressed. It was a well-run meeting.

Things I learned:

Many people worry that a rifle deer hunting season is more hazardous than slug season because rifle bullets travel farther. However, new studies have revealed that slugs stay intact through several ricochets while rifle bullets disintegrate. In fact, rifles are quite a bit safer.

With the decline in CRP acreage near the Red River, the deer population there has almost disappeared. There is really no nutrition for the deer in the river bottoms. They are reliant upon crops. Last winter they survived on the beet fields which were not harvested.

So, despite my expectations that most people would want a reduction in deer population, the people by the river, from Shelly, MN on south to Browns Valley, were unanimous in their desire to see the deer population increase.

In the immediate area around the nursery, however, we did settle on a goal of a 25% decrease in population. I think the population has already decreased a little over the past three years, but it wouldn't hurt my feelings if it dipped even more.


April 16, 2007

Big white birds



While getting ready to leave home today, I looked out to see a graceful egret. Eventually a goose came along wanting to get in the picture, too.



As I tried to get closer, the egret spooked and went to sit in a tree on the opposite side of the swamp, near the nursery. I drove my pickup around 1/2 mile and snuck up on him for this shot. Actually, I think he had his eye on me the whole time. Two steps closer and he flew away.

On the way to Fargo, I came across this scene. I was amazed at the number of swans. It looked like 500 all told.

I was on my way to a meeting about deer with the area DNR wildlife managers, so I asked them if they had seen these enormous herds of swans. Yes, but they aren't trumpters, they are tundra swans just passing through on their way to nest in the Arctic. If I had simply turned off my pickup and listened to their call, I could have immediately known for sure, as tundra swans sound much more melodic than trumpeters.

The tundra swans are about 20 lbs as opposed to the trumpeters, who weigh in at 30 lbs. From this distance, that looked about right.


April 15, 2007

Honkers



Purple finch



Swans



The swans returned earlier this week. Before the ice melted, they walked around, occasionally falling through.



This morning, they were swimming around right in front of the house. When I walked outside, they eventually took off.



Amazing how the swans coordinate even their wingbeats.