Opinions

Wed
30
Oct

Road sign’s clever verse made for amusing Sunday rides

You know how it is, right? You’re looking for something on the Internet, and suddenly something else appears and grabs your attention, right? A while back I was looking for some obscure verse that I was thinking of alluding to for a column idea, and when I typed in “verse,” one of the sources that came up was a book called “Verse by the Side of the Road” by Frank Rowsome. So I looked it up. Actually, the complete title is “Verse by the Side of the Road: The Story of the Burma-Shave Signs and Jingles.”

Wed
23
Oct

Peshtigo fire eclipses Chicago’s

“Late one night, when we were all in bed, Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in the shed. Her cow kicked it over, then winked her eye and said, ‘There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!’ ”

Those are lyrics of an old song referring to the famous Chicago fire of Oct. 8, 1871.

Interestingly, that was also the date of the Great Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin. For people like me who grew up in northeast Wisconsin, the Peshtigo fire is a much bigger deal than the Chicago fire.

Did Mrs. O’Leary’s cow start the Great Chicago Fire? And what started the Peshtigo fire? There are probably no definitive answers to those questions.

Wed
23
Oct

Start date aside, school calendar set locally

One would not have to wander too far off the path around the Falls to understand that public schools in Wisconsin have many different features. Even so, the Wisconsin Constitution requires that “The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable…”

Even with requirements for uniformity, Wisconsin has always prided itself on local control. Depending on the issue, districts can have local control and at other times, hands are tied pretty tightly. The state Legislature sometimes flutters in the wind, and like the currents in Lambeau Field, the wind can come from many different directions.

Thu
17
Oct

Letter: Common Core is advantageous for students

To the editor:

The Wisconsin State Teachers of the Year Network has a classroom perspective on the debate regarding Common Core State Standards. For us, this is neither a political issue nor a union issue. Our view is based on students’ needs.

These higher standards prepare students to be college- and career-ready by demanding students be able to read and understand complex text. They have to understand problems and use skills to innovate solutions.

The Common Core is a nonpartisan, grassroots effort by a wide collection of state educators, state superintendents and governors. We see this as an attempt to strengthen public education, the foundation of our democracy, economy and security.

Thu
17
Oct

A few tidbits about Spam for you to chew on

About 10 years ago, I wrote a column about Internet spam, the nasty, annoying junk that clutters up our email in-boxes. The term comes from a Monty Python television show in which one particular episode made so many references to the canned meat product that the rest of the show was overshadowed by the Spam motif. So, no matter how good our spam filters are, we spend time reading through them, deleting them, or trying to unsubscribe to them. I hate email spam.

But I saw an item on The Writers Almanac on July 5 that said, in part: “It was on this day in 1937 that Spam came onto the market. The canned meat product from Hormel Foods Corporation was given its name by a contest winner; the prize for his ingenuity was $100.”

So Spam is a year-and-a-half older than I am, and we ate a lot of it when I was a kid. Mom used to fry it in the same pan with fried eggs and served it with big chunks of homemade bread for breakfast!

Thu
17
Oct

Toned-down Columbus Day celebrated Monday

Monday morning’s U.S. post office mail was nonexistent to those living along the path around the Falls, and even email contact had been cut off from some regular early morning conversationalists. None of this had to do with the federal government shutdown, even though one might suspect that to be the case. The more apparent sparks for the communication breakdown had to do with the observance of Columbus Day.

Oct. 12 was the day Christopher Columbus made landfall on his first journey to the New World back in 1492. Since 1971, rather than celebrating on the 12th, the observance was moved to the second Monday in October, providing one of several three-day weekends for many government employees, along with a number of private-sector employees. Bank employees used to count themselves in that group, but as competition got more intense in the finance industry, paying tribute to Chris became a lower priority.

Fri
11
Oct

Smokey Bear endures for generations

“Grandpa, what’s Smokey’s middle name?”

“I don’t know, Ella, what is Smokey’s middle name?”

“It’s THE, silly! You know, Grandpa, Smokey the Bear!”

Uproarious giggling comes from 5-year-old Ella. She’s 13 now and probably doesn’t remember her joy at making me laugh way back then.

A couple of years ago, I started writing a column about Smokey the Bear, but never finished it. Then a few weeks ago, one of my readers (maybe my only one?), Heidi Freeby, emailed: “We were up in Marinette County this weekend and going through Oconto… made me think of you.

Fri
11
Oct

Friendly gesture lost on critics of academic standards

Monday morning’s commute to work along the path around the Falls wasn’t quite like getting hit with a ton of bricks but it did confirm that things are changing. Commuting to work is a part of life for just about every worker, except for people living and working only on the family farm, and those people are just about as rare as albino whitetail deer.

Commuters who work the same schedules will notice traffic patterns. Certain times of the trip may involve seeing a vehicle day after day at almost the same spot on the daily commute. Of course this is a lot easier if the commute is along two-lane blacktop rather than on the four-lane, divided highway.

Wed
02
Oct

Some common things, from aglet to zarf

How many times have you had to resort to calling something a whatjamacallit or a thingamajig because you didn’t know the name for some everyday item that we should know the word for, or were once told what it was but have since forgotten?

Well, today, I’m going to give you some real (albeit unusual) names for some common things and/or conditions.

I started thinking about this subject when I broke the little plastic thingamabob that holds the end of the shoelaces together. Well, believe it or not, that thingamajig has a name: it’s an aglet. Remember that because there’s going to be quiz afterward!

You know the dusty remnants at the bottom of cereal boxes? They’re called fines, and I think they’re particularly delicious in the more sugary brands, don’t you?

Wed
02
Oct

Great weather makes for good bye week

The last weekend in September on the path around the Falls was a winner, even if there were no Green Bay Packers to watch. Each year the NFL teams have a bye week to allow for some regrouping and family time. We are not sure about the need for family time, but many would agree that regrouping is a priority, but we will leave that conversation to the sports page editors.

It was dumb luck rather than visionary planning, but the dates picked for Falls Fun Fest coincided with the Packers bye weekend. Most of the Fun Fest activities took place with the rummage sales on Friday and other events on Saturday. However, the youth football tournament concluded on Sunday and with no Packers game conflict, things were a little more relaxed.

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