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The Commute: Crossing the finishing line


Fri, May 16th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

At a faculty meeting last week, one of our senior department members announced a small bit of good news regarding the budget. Maybe it was the end-of-semester stress, but for whatever reason, the rest of us responded by applauding him enthusiastically. The look on his face was one of pleasant surprise and joy. He said he wished he had some other news so that he could be applauded again.

Everyone likes applause, no matter how it arrives. Deep in our family lore is the story of the day my sister and I moved to the Twin Cities, hayseeds still stuck in our teeth, and got incredibly lost. Suddenly we found ourselves driving a short stretch of the Aquatennial Parade route. Hundreds of people on both sides of the street laughed and applauded as we crawled by in her Mustang. Well, they mostly laughed. But for those few seconds, until a policeman helped us exit the route, we felt like queens.

I had reason to recall the Aquatennial story recently because of another story I heard. I’ve started occasionally commuting to Rochester with another teacher named Mike. He told me this wonderful story on one of our trips.

At around age fourteen, all the right physical conditions in areas like muscle development, height, and hormones, converged harmoniously and he found himself a gifted athlete, especially in track. He did well and received a lot of praise.

By the next year, the moment of physical perfection seemed to have passed and he found himself running slower and slower. He began to understand how those older boys had felt when he’d zipped past them as a freshman. Now he was one of the older, slower boys, but he didn’t quit. He stayed with it, remembering his brief taste of success, and hungering for it again.

By his senior year in high school, his biggest fear was of being "lapped" by the younger, faster boys. But for some reason, he doggedly persisted. His coach and father encouraged him.

So now it is the last track meet of the season, last race. Waiting at the starting block, looking over the young, zippy competitors, he knows he’ll be beat, and soundly. His father and coach are watching him. He offers a silent prayer that he won’t get lapped.

When he is halfway through his second-to-last lap, he turns around to see the race leaders gaining on him, in their final lap. He knows he won’t win, but cannot bear the humili .....
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Township Roads- Tractor Driving Lessons

Fri, May 16th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I was out having fun with the tractor today. My son, Ted, and I had a load of firewood to throw on the neighbor’s wagon. The most fun for me is watching Ted start and drive the old Farmall H. We have a driving lesson every time we take it out of the ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Matt Ruen

Fri, May 9th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Thanks to all of you out there,  Who’ve read this column o’mine.  I’ve enjoyed writing it through the year,  The experience has been fine.  This is my ..... 
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Of People, Places and Things: Please leave guns at the door

Fri, May 9th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?   Mae West

Please leave guns at the door.   That sign was on the front entrance of a pizza joint I frequented in ..... 
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Avoid clichés like the plague

Fri, May 9th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Editor’s note: The following speech was one of several given at the 2002 Fillmore Central High School commencement. It is reprinted here as a reminder that the graduation season is almost upon us. By Emily Torgrimson  The ear ..... 
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Another One From Flaherty: The Trouble with Harry

Fri, May 2nd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Have you ever taken one of those self-improvement courses? A friend of mine did and he has driven everyone that he knows nuts. He took some sort of course that was supposed to enable him to win friends and influence people and now he has no friends a ..... 
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Township Roads:Chaperones

Fri, May 2nd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

My wife, Deb, and I just got back from the Minnesota FFA Convention. Our sons, Matt and Ted, both participated in the event. They are guitarists in a band named Near-Death Experience that participated in the FFA Talent Contest. Near-Death Experience ..... 
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