"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Of People, Places & Things: Bandit country


Fri, Jun 6th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Jesus, Liu, what do you have that for? I asked in English. My astonishment was quickly translated into Chinese for Liu, who just a few seconds before had pulled a sock out of his pocket. Inside the sock was a handgun.Standard issue, 9 millimeter, Peoples Liberation Army, Liu said proudly, as he put the gun in my left hand.Not to be outdone, Ra put a fist into his pocket and pulled out a near identical pistol - polished black steel, short barrel. He placed it in my right hand. It was cold and dead heavy.Holy... The four letter word was soon lost in a flurry of translation. I was sitting in the backseat of a Land Rover, sandwiched between Lao Liu and Lao Ra, travelling in western Yunnan province. We were headed for a village on the Burmese border.Okay, what on earth could the guns be for? I asked stupidly.Bandits, Ra said.Bandits, Liu repeated.Bandits my ass, I said. This is Communist China There are no bandits!No, on second thought, dont translate that, I reconsidered. Big Brother Liu, was Han Chinese with a round face and short cropped hair. He was a former Peoples Liberation Army veteran who left high school during the Cultural Revolution. It was a period of near anarchy in China, where everyone was judged on their devotion to Mao. Lao Liu, (Lao means older) was fiercely loyal to Mao and would argue vehemently with one of our Australian workers about the merits of the great helmsmen. This, in spite of the fact that then Premier Deng Xiao Peng said that Mao was 70% right and 30% wrong. In Lius eyes, Mao was near infallible. Liu worked for Kunming County as an Ag worker and was on loan to the aid agency I worked for.In China in 1992, an individuals identity was linked to their Work Unit. Sometimes called the Iron Rice Bowl, a Chinese persons entire livelihood was connected to the state organization they were assigned to. It was through their Work Unit that they received their residency status, housing permit, food ration cards, their monthly pay and access to health services. Even permission to travel outside the province came from the Work Unit. So, rather than risk giving up all the government perks entitled to him, we arranged to have Liu on loan to us. Technically he still worked for the county. [Read the Rest]

Notes from a country kitchen

Fri, Jun 6th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I was gone again, theres so much going on. My sister-in-law, Carol, took me along to Rochester Saturday afternoon as her granddaughter was in a dance group at the Mayo Civic Center. I had never been there before, what a lovely place. It lasted from ..... 
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Notes from a country kitchen

Fri, May 30th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Today as I write my column it is May 24. I always write a week ahead, then send it through the mail so you can read it on Monday. Today, May 24, is special as it was my parents wedding day and they were married in 1917. My mother always said it was a ..... 
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Another One From Flaherty: Sam moves in and there goes the neighborhood

Fri, May 30th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was a time of light, it was a time of darkness when Sam entered upon the scene. He was a young dog less than a year old when he came from nowhere to make his home with us. When I took him to the ..... 
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Township Roads: It's Eleanor's Fault

Fri, May 30th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Sheep grazed the lawn of the White House until well into the FDR administration. I suspect it was Eleanor who decided that it was time to get rid of the livestock. That set a bad precedent for lawns and the mowing that inevitably followed. If sheep s ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Jamie Rose Howe

Fri, May 23rd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Last night when I was driving home from my graduation party, alone in the dark, I could only see a few hundred feet in front of my car. I couldnt see the turns up ahead, or the hill I have to climb, or the deer, or the large crack in the road. I the ..... 
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Fourth Annual Bluff Country Bird Festival

Fri, May 23rd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Have you ever wished for the excitement of seeing something again for the first time? That's how I feel about the migrating warblers, small colorful songbirds that flit about in the trees eating insects. A friend of mine calls them "flying works of a ..... 
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Another View: Farmers need to be active in 'Wall Street' government

Fri, May 23rd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

In today's economy, farmers need to be involved in two governments: our regular, civic government; and a second "economic or Wall Street" government.

For generations, farmers have looked to the government to help solve their in ..... 
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