Yankton Native Moving Up The Newspaper Chain

I don’t believe I’ve ever met Randy List, a Yankton native, but I just came across this story today about how he is now the publisher of the Daily Sentinel in Le Mars.

Where did he get his start?

The Yankton Press & Dakotan.

Congratulations, Randy!

Here is what the Daily Sentinel had to say:

Randy List

Randy List, Greencastle, Ind., is the new publisher and part owner of the Le Mars Daily Sentinel as well as newspapers in Remsen, Kingsley, Cherokee, Anthon and Correctionville.

List, a native of Yankton, S.D., began his work as Daily Sentinel publisher Monday.

“I’m truly excited for this opportunity to move back closer to my South Dakota family and to this great community,” List said. “I look forward to getting to know people and becoming part of the community.”

List will continue his work as a regional vice president for Rust Communications, of Cape Girardeau, Mo., and his responsibilities include overseeing other newspapers in Iowa, one in Nebraska and one in Idaho.

List will remain publisher and part owner of the three Indiana newspapers — the Greencastle Banner Graphic, Greene County Daily World and the Brazil Times.

His regional vice president responsibilities have previously included overseeing newspapers in northwest Iowa.

The publications included the Le Mars Daily Sentinel as well as newspapers in Remsen, Kingsley, Cherokee, Anthon and Correctionville.

List served as both a regional vice president for Rust Communications and interim publisher following the resignation in July of Daily Sentinel publisher Tom Stangl.

Stangl and his wife, Diane, accepted newspaper positions in Amery, Wis.

List started his career for his hometown paper in Yankton, S. D., in 1974 as a proofreader in the advertising department.

Read the rest of the story here.

Let’s Be Honest

A lot has been made in this presidential election about who makes what and who takes what.

The fact is, we’re all in this together — “this” being the grand experiment we call the United States of America.

That sounds pretty cliche, I suppose, but I don’t know how else to say it.

A recent column written by Suzanne Mettler, a professor of government at Cornell, and John Sides, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, in the New York Times brings the point home:

We have unique data from a 2008 national survey by the Cornell Survey Research Institute that asked Americans whether they had ever taken advantage of any of 21 social policies provided by the federal government, from student loans to Medicare. These policies do not include government activity that benefits everyone — national defense, the interstate highway system, food safety regulations — but only tangible benefits that accrue to specific households.

The survey asked about people’s policy usage throughout their lives, not just at a moment in time, and it included questions about social policies embedded in the tax code, which are usually overlooked.

What the data reveal is striking: nearly all Americans — 96 percent — have relied on the federal government to assist them. Young adults, who are not yet eligible for many policies, account for most of the remaining 4 percent.

The column was written in light of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent remarks about “the 47 percent.” They sum things up by saying:

Throughout our lives, almost all of us help sustain government social policies through our tax dollars and, at some point, almost all of us directly benefit from these policies. Because ideology influences how we view our own and others’ use of government, Mr. Romney’s remarks may resonate with those who think of themselves as “producers” rather than “moochers” — to use Ayn Rand’s distinction. But this distinction fails to capture the way Americans really experience government. Instead of dividing us, our experiences as both makers and takers ought to bind us in a community of shared sacrifice and mutual support.

Read the whole column. It’s worth it. And then let’s be honest on this whole subject of who takes. Almost all of us take. But almost all of us also make. It’s the system that we’ve created to care for one another. There should be no shame in that.

A Closer Look At Bob Nelson, Screenwriter Of ‘Nebraska’ And (A Brief) Yankton Son

Screenwriter Bob Nelson, who was born in Yankton.

I’m a huge, HUGE fan of Alexander Payne, the Omaha native who has directed “Citizen Ruth,” “Election,” “About Schmidt,” “Sideways” and “The Descendants.”

So I pretty much shouted out loud when news broke that he would be shooting his new film, tentatively titled “Nebraska,” in the Norfolk area.

Amidst all the news on the production, which will begin shooting soon, I discovered that Bob Nelson, who wrote the “Nebraska” screenplay, was born in Yankton. It was a great excuse to learn more about the film.

I tracked down Nelson who, it turns out, has had a lot more entertainment experience than just screenwriting. He is a very kind, humble guy who has a definite Midwestern demeanor despite having spent his life in the Seattle area.

Here is the beginning of the story I recently wrote about Nelson:

Bob Nelson is making inroads in Hollywood by having his first screenplay made into a film this fall, but he hasn’t forgotten Yankton.

Well, what little he remembers of it anyway. It turns out that Nelson, 56, of Whidbey Island, Wash., has only spent two days of his life in Yankton.

But if you read through his resume — combing through such facts that his “Nebraska” screenplay will be directed by Oscar-winning Omaha, Neb., native Alexander Payne or that he is working with comedian Chris Rock on the adaptation of the French film, “La Premiere Etoile” — you will find the following line: “Nelson was born in Yankton, South Dakota.”

His parents, Hartington, Neb., natives Jean (Walz) and George Nelson, had lived in Yankton from about 1952-56. When Nelson came into the world, his mother was living in Hartington as she prepared to join her husband in Washington. However, her doctor was in Yankton, so that is where Nelson was born. The only other time he was in Yankton was around the time his grandmother died in 1985.

“So that’s a total of two days in Yankton for me, and they were both good,” Nelson told the Press & Dakotan during a recent phone interview. “I understand I did cry a lot the first time, but it had nothing to do with Yankton itself.”

Nelson was raised in the Seattle area but visited his family in Hartington a handful of times while growing up. He has always held on to the fact that he was born in Yankton, he said.

“When you’re out here in Seattle and you say you were born in Yankton, S.D., it sounds kind of exotic,” Nelson stated. “I grew up with Yankton as my birthplace, and I’ve always really celebrated that. It does kind of create this strange tie, even though I was only there for one day.”

You can read the whole story here.

During the course of my research on Nelson, I had the pleasure of coming across his work with the Seattle sketch series “Almost Live.”

It’s definitely worth your time (Bob is the laid-back baseball announcer in the first clip):

I should mention that Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy) was a regular on “Almost Live.”

UNL Scientists: Climate Change Debate Is Over

I received this press release in the mail today.

The position of these scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is hardly a surprise.  The deluge of science on this subject in the last couple decades sheds more light on what is occurring by the day.

In the following statement, they hold back no punches. It’s time to take this issue seriously.

We, the undersigned, are all faculty in climate, or climate-related disciplines, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Based on our informed scientific judgment, we most strongly support the policy statements on climate change of the American Meteorological Society <http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2012climatechange.pdf>  and the American Geophysical Union <http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/pdf/position_statements/AGU_Climate_Statement.pdf&gt; , the two most prominent U.S. scientific societies whose members are studying the climate system. Climate change is real, and human activities have a profound effect on the way in which it is occurring. Over the coming decades it will get warmer in Nebraska, by 4-10°F. Changes in mean rainfall are less clear, as all models predict wetter to our east and drier to our west; the ‘no-change’ line cuts somewhere through Nebraska. Of most concern, snowpack in the central Rockies is forecast to decrease dramatically with strong implications for the Platte River (will Lake McConaughy become a ditch in mid-summer?). In addition to a trend towards more drought, we can expect this trend to be interspersed with more extreme flooding events due to enhanced climate variability. The time for debate is over. The time for action is here.

Clinton M. Rowe, Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences

Robert J. Oglesby, Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and School of Natural Resources

Mark R. Anderson, Associate Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences

Martha Shulski, Assistant Professor of School of Natural Resources and Director, High Plains Regional Climate Center

Adam L. Houston, Associate Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences

Nathan Johnson, Mouse Hunter

* This is not REALLY a picture of me.

I seem to spend a lot of time on this blog talking about my unreasonable fear/hatred of certain animals.
I must come off as a real speciesist bigot. Perhaps one day I’ll attempt to deal with my sickness.
That being said, I brutally murdered a mouse last night.
Yes, I do feel a little guilty about it. But, truth be told, I prefer that to having a mouse sharing my apartment.
And, hey, I don’t have a cat to do my dirty work for me.
It was just before bed when I heard the telling noise in the walls revealing that a mouse had the audacity to conduct a home invasion.
I suspect it didn’t know about my history, chronicled previously on this blog, as a mouse hunter.
I didn’t have any mouse traps or poison on hand, so I resolved that first thing in the morning I would go purchase those supplies and initiate the war this intruder’s presence demanded.
In the meantime, I did my best to ignore the running I heard in the wall of my bedroom and get some much-needed beauty rest.
I managed to get an hour of sleep when I suddenly woke up. My mouse-hunting instincts were engaged. Something wasn’t right.
Within minutes, I heard a “plop” that was too close for comfort.
My room has an uncovered cable outlet in the wall, and I was sure I had just heard the mouse enter the room’s confines through that breach in my defenses.
I turned on the lamps around my bed and listened to the intruder’s progress. Soon, we were visually engaged.
The mouse was in the corner of my room sniffing around some shoes.
Adrenaline coursed through my body.
I had been willing to conduct a gentlemanly war with this mouse — perhaps offering it some tasty poison it could consume at its leisure — but now it had entered my sanctuary, my temple. It had violated my sacred space.
Anger flared to my head.
I grabbed a boot and yelled, “No!” as I brought it slamming down on the mouse’s body. A second blow created a still corpse.
The invasion was over. Silence once again fell over my bedroom.
Calmly, I left the scene, grabbed a plastic bag and collected the body of my enemy.
A reasonable thought entered my mind: The mouse could be reanimated by a zombie virus. I decided I should immediately dispose of its body outdoors.
I got back into bed, read a bit and then drifted back into sleep.
My nightmare was over.

If You Don’t Want The Bedbugs To Bite …

I came across some information on bedbugs today courtesy of one of my favorite reads, the Harper’s Index.

You can draw what conclusions from these findings you like. But this does look like a tip on how to keep the bedbugs from biting (or at least cutting down on the number of bites).

Average number of eggs a bedbug will lay after feeding on “clean” human blood: 44 (Sep ’12, Harper’s Magazine)

After feeding on blood with an alcohol content of 0.10: 12 (Sep ’12, Harper’s Magazine)

Next time someone says something to you about your drinking just tell them: “I don’t drink because I enjoy it. I drink to keep the bedbugs away!”

And, on that note, I must return to writing about drought-related stress …

A New Reason To Hold Your Nose If You Go To Pierre


They scare me.

Ever since I was a child, they held a mythical place in my brain’s fear receptacles.

They spray! They stink! They bite! What if they fly, too!? Ahhh!

I  still remember a vivid dream I had when I was young in which people, my parents included, were half-human/half-skunk creatures with large black and white tails a la Pepe le Pew.

It was a little bit traumatizing. The next morning, when I came out for breakfast, I had to check to make sure Mom and Dad didn’t have tails.

I’ve had a few close encounters with actual skunks in my adult life.

As I was walking along the Auld-Brokaw Trail in Yankton a couple of years ago, a skunk casually crossed the path about five feet in front of me. Luckily, my furry friend didn’t even seem to notice the strange statue off to his side with a throbbing, life-like heart, aka ME.

The second time, funnily enough, was also along the Auld-Brokaw Trail. I noticed a creature that was scurrying along a fence and was coming my direction. Then it stopped and stared. I noticed the tail and started mapping out escape routes in my mind. Fortunately, the skunk must have been doing the same thing because it turned around and ran away.

What can I say, I’m a formidable opponent.

So, I should probably get around to this Pierre matter mentioned what must now seem like eons ago in the title of this post.

Turns out they are having skunk problems. The situation reeks so bad that the Los Angeles Times has picked up on the story.

I guess South Dakota has to make a big stink to make the Los Angeles Times.

I’ve read about a couple skunk encounters in Yankton this summer via the police logs, but nothing on the scale Pierre is facing.

The story by John M. Glionna begins:

Residents of South Dakota’s state capital are holding their noses this fall and it has nothing to do with politics.

The city of Pierre is being invaded by skunks.

Animal control officials say that 60 of the furry little stinkers have been caught since June and in a town of 15,000. That translates to one possible skunk encounter for every 250 residents.

But there’s an even worse danger: skunks are often rabid.

“Skunks are the reservoir of rabies out here on the Great Plains,” South Dakota state epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger told the Los Angeles Times. “Skunks actually present a two-fold menace. Rabies is the biggest danger. Then the spraying. Oh, and they bite, too.”

So far this year, 45 rabid animals have been caught in South Dakota, 25 of them skunks. Though the state has not had a case of rabies since 1970, officials remain vigilant.

Read the rest of the story here.

You’ve Heard Of Dr. McDreamy, But Have You Heard Of Dr. Numnum?

I date an OB/GYN.

This has certain advantages over dating doctors of other specialties.

For example, she sometimes shares with me the medical horrors about which she is reading. As a male, I am allowed the comfort of knowing these afflictions cannot be visited upon me. Small mercies, right?

Also, she gets to see a lot of newborn babies.

In case you didn’t know this, newborn babies put most any woman in a good mood. That takes some pressure off me.

The other night we were discussing a medical article she was reading.

“One of the authors is Michael Numnum,” she told me. “AKA, Dr. Numnum.”

Yes, I laughed.

And I couldn’t resist doing some investigative work on the good doctor. Was Dr. Numnum as good as he sounded?

Dr. Michael Numnum

What do you think? Is Dr. Numnum a Dr. McDreamy?

Yes, I know at this point in my life, I should be beyond making fun of people for their name. And I wish I could at least boast some originality. I’m probably not serving up any material that Dr. Numnum, a gynecologic oncologist in Tennessee, hasn’t heard already.

Of course, he specializes in cancers of the female reproductive system. There isn’t anything funny about that.

But maybe, just maybe, in the midst of the terrifying situations his patients find themselves in there are some brief moments of humor.


“Honey, I’ve got to go see Dr. Numnum.”

“Dr. Numnum? Ha! Are you kidding me? I’ve heard of Dr. McDreamy, but women have a Dr. Numnum now? What’s his real name?

“His name is Dr. Numnum. For real.”

“For real? Wow. That’s funny.”

“Well, he is kind of nummy, too …”

“Babe, I’m going to choose to believe you mean that in the Cookie Monster sense. The man’s got an appetite, huh? (impersonating Cookie Monster.) Num, num, num! Num, num, num! Me love cookies!”


OK, my apologies to Dr. Numnum. You have my permission to make fun of my name, good doctor.

Oh, and yes, ladies, Dr. Numnum is married with children. Sorry to end things on a sour note.