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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 151, May 31: The Letter W

Some Favorite Words
That Start With W
Walla Walla: Washington. Now that's a lot of Ws! Its population is 31,731. The city is known for its onions and many area wineries. State penitentiary are located there, as well.
War: One of my favorite black groups, I especially like the song "Cisco Kid." I'm also fascinated - and disturbed - by all wars.
Washington: As in George, he set a great precedent for all future presidents. Some have followed better than others.
Wayne: Probably the craziest, but also one of the most compassionate, brothers-in-law I've ever had (and I've had many). He hugs too much, though :-)
Whiner: I'm very good at acting like a whiner (probably from years of practicing the real thing!)
Whippoorwill: Wow, what a word! A medium-sized bird in North and Central America. You rarely see one because of its camouflage.
Why: Similar to wisdom, I truly believe all of my "why" questions will be answered in heaven.
Wigwam: A very neat word and a domed domicile for Native Americans. Not a teepee. 
Wisdom: Something I will seek forever but probably won't attain until I enter eternity. Then I'll have it forever!
Woebegone: A cool word, but also perhaps as sad a word as there is. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 150, May 30: The Letter V

Some Favorite Words
That Start With V
Vamoose: Let's get out of here! I learned it's also a major bus company in the East as well as a product that eliminates cigarette smoke smell (I should give some to my mom :-(
Vanna: As in White, of "Wheel of Fortune" fame. I've told everybody over the years that we were born on the same day, but research found different: I'm two days older (dang it)
Varmint: One of cartoon star Yosemite Sam's favorite words, too!
V-Club: A fictious club created by a slowpitch softball teammate for myself and one other player who were still virgins after turning 20. Didn't bother me; I didn't want to "use" a woman to get out of a club.
Vehemently: Just one of those words that has a nice ring to it. An intense emotion.
Ventriloquist: I'm fascinated by these people, especially the good ones. Originally, it was a religious practice. And, yes, it's a neat word.
Vic: My best friend from Gillette, Wyo., he now lives in El Paso, Texas. We took a fun trip through California together,
after I had moved to Idaho.
Viroqua: A small town in Wisconsin near La Crosse (one of my favorite L words). Viroqua has 4,335 people. In 1865, a tornado in the area killed 22 people.
"Viva La Vida:" A song by the group Coldplay (one of my favorite C words). It's one of the group's more recent hits and one of my favorites.
Vitriolic: Very caustic, scathing ... and a cool-sounding word.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 149, May 29: The Letter U

Some Favorite Words
That Start With U
Ubiquitous: Might rank among my Top 50 favorite sounding words, it means existing or being everywhere at the same time. Like me when I get squirrely.
Udders: I've seen a lot of them when visiting my brother-in-law's farm. They look strange.
Uffda: A popular phrase used by Norwegian Americans, especially in my neck of the woods. I use it often.
Ukulele: A pleasant instrument and a pleasant-sounding word. Commonly thought to originate in Hawaii.
Ulterior: One of those words that almost always is followed by the same word - motive. I've had a few ulterior motives in my past.
Unalakleet: One of the many tiny communities in Alaska, it has 747 residents. It's located next to the Bering Sea and is the first checkpoint for the Iditarod Dog Race.
Uncle Bob: My late dad's oldest brother, he's beaten the odds of Swenson males dying young as he now in his mid-80s. My dad, another brother Clayton and their father all died before retirement age.
"Up:" A very touching and cute animated 2009 movie. Ranks among my Top 10 animated films.
"Urgent:" A 1981 rock song by Foreigner, it's refrain is a constant chant of urgent. For some odd reason for the longest time, I thought they were saying "virgin."
Uvula: A weird word for that thing that hangs down in the back of your mouth. For the longest time, I thought that was my tonsil.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 148, May 28: The Letter T

 Some Favorite Words
That Start With T
Tantalizing: The word has a nice ring to it, and I've seen many things over the years that fit its definition.
Teacher: If I had my life to do over, this is what I would be. Probably grade 5 or younger. I try to teach my youth sports kids more than just the sport. (Funny I'd pick two professions where you don't 
make much money!)
Texarkana: Two towns, same name, right on the border of Texas and Arkansas with 137,486 people in the metro area. Such a neat city name, and twice the fun!
Tibbs: Nickname of a great Dubuque friend. He worked with me on the TH sports staff and we continue to stay in touch and have a drink once in awhile, even though he's a Hawkeye and I'm a Badger!
Tolerance: A word I strive for and often fall short. But it's also a perfectly fine substitute for the word "acceptance," when it comes to certain social or political items. Look it up! 
Tomboy: What a daughter of mine likely would have been and I'm partial to them as a youth coach.
Topographic maps: I don't like them as much as regular road atlas maps, but I just saw a few old ones at Eastgate in Madison 
during a trip with Kris. Cool.
Tuba: Not one of the premier instruments, it's the only one I ever signed up for to take lessons. But a ballgame (of course) got in the way and I never went through with it.
Turntable: I put a lot of records on these over the years; 
lots of memories.
Tyrannosaurus Rex: One of the coolest - and largest - dinosaurs, I also love the sound of the name.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 147, May 27: The Letter S

Snow, 2010-11, in our back yard.
Some Favorite Words
That Start With S
Sacrifice: I've made my share, but not as many as others. I believe they've helped me grow. And I am in awe that God 
sacrificed his son for all of us.
Shenanigans: I nice word, I'm known for committing my share.
Snickerdoodle: A sugar cookie made famous in my extended family by a close male friend, Rich, who is good-naturedly teased and who loves to bake. Kris just made a batch this week!
Snow: I love how beautiful it looks in early winter, though as I age, I get sick of it much quicker than I used to. I also enjoy shoveling it - for a little while when it's not to heavy!
"Sovay:" A very pleasant song by a singer named Andrew Bird (also a traditional English folk song), who was raised in northwest Illinois. One of Kris' favorite singers.
Sports: Next to music, probably my favorite hobby/pastime. As I get older, watching sports is more common for me than playing them. But I can still shoot baskets pretty well!
Sportsman's Bar: This Stoughton establishment sponsored my slowpitch softball team in my younger days. We were a formidable squad, but had as much fun off the field as on.
Steve: One of my many fun brothers-in-law, I also had an old school friend named Steve who suffered from a painful affliction that caused him to commit suicide at age 25.
Stoughton: My hometown in Wisconsin, it's got 12,611 people - mostly Scandanavians. In the 1960s, it had 5,555 people. I started my newspaper career at the Stoughton Courier Hub weekly.
Swen: My natural nickname, since most places I've worked, it's been my computer abbreviation. But I'd rather be called Jim.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 146, May 26: The Letter R

Some Favorite Words
That Start With R
Red Sox: My favorite team since I was age 10 in 1967. My dad was a Sox fan (mostly Ted Williams) and I got wrapped up in the great '67 pennant race. 
Rose: My favorite flower - it smells and looks so good. And, I am a Pete Rose fan. He worked his butt off and had the intensity of Ty Cobb. His gambling problem shouldn't keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
Rumpelstiltskin: I think this is a cool word and I had forgotten what the fairy tale was about. It's pretty strange.
Rainbow: It can be so beautiful and awe-inspiring. It's also God's promise to never flood the earth again.
Rinky-dink: I like the phrase; it almost sounds like what it means: cheap. It apparently originated in the early 1900s in Fresno or Pennsylvania.
Rose Royce: A 1970s R&B group that had the hits "Car Wash" and my favorite "I Wanna Get Next to You."
Roger: The name - jokingly - that Kris wants to give to a future kitten we get to replace our long lost cat Tabby. And, Roger Schoenenberger is a great friend of mine in Dubuque.
Rapid City: A beautiful town in western South Dakota with a population of 67, 956. It's in the Black Hills, and was a place I'd visit while living in Gillette, Wyo.
Republicans: I've struggled with their weaknesses and hypocrisies, but still lean more toward being conservative than liberal. I've voted both ways in EVERY election.
Raison d'etre: French for "reason to be or exist," I've always found it to be a pretty phrase.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 145, May 25: The Letter Q

Some Favorite Words
That Start With Q
Qaid: A Muslim leader, the main reason I like this word is because Scrabble allows it.
Q-tips: I use one nearly every day and sometimes stick them in too far into my ear. But it feels really good.
Quadrangular: A neat long word, I dealt with a lot of quadrangulars as a sports editor.
Quagmire: Wet boggy ground or a difficult position, I also like the sound of this word.
Quarterback: My all-time favorite is probably Bart Starr. Aaron Rodgers is moving up my charts. Favorite non-Packer? Joe Montana.
Queen: One of my favorite rock groups, I love "Bohemian Rhapsody," "You're My Best Friend" and "Fat-Bottomed Girls."
Quibble: Play on words, an evasion of the main point, a petty objection and a fun word.
Quicksand: Something that has fascinated me since I was a kid. I've contemplated how I would escape should I ever fall into some.
Quincy: A town of 40,633 along the Mississippi River in Illinois. The "Gem City," it was named after John Quincy Adams - located in Adams County. The annual Pepsi Little People's Golf Championships are held here, and it's for young people, not dwarfs.
Quirky: I like to consider myself to be quirky, in a good way. This would be a solid Scrabble play, too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 144, May 24: The Letter P

 A parabola.
Some Favorite Words
That Start With P
Paavo Nurmi: A fantastic Finnish distance runner of the early 20th century, I was fascinated as a kid by him and his cool name. He competed 12 times in the Olympics between 1920 and 1928, winning nine golds and three silvers.
Pabst Beer: One of my dad's favorites when I was a kid, it's also an integral part of a hilarious story told by my brother-in-law Wayne. Ask him about it sometime.
Palo Alto, Calif.: One of my favorite cities for dice and dart tournaments, it's also the home of Stanford University. The name is derived from a strand of redwood trees.
Parabola: Another great sounding word, it was about the time we learned about this in math when I started to get lost.
Pat: A good friend from my early TH days, he moved to Florida, but we still keep in touch. "Pat" also was one of the 
best characters ever on SNL.
Perpendicular: Another neat-sounding mathematical word that I didn't really appreciate in junior high.
Persnickety: How can you not like this word? It means to be picky or fussy about small details.
Peter: The Rock among the disciples, he was someone you truly could admire and empathize with. If someone as faithful as Peter could deny Jesus three times, how hopeless we are without our savior's death. 
Potawatomi: An Indian tribe in the Michigan/Wisconsin area. They were part of Tecumseh's War (Tecumseh is one 
of my Top 10 favorite Indians).
Prayer: I say one every night before I go to sleep, as well as little ones of thanks throughout most days. When I pray for something, I try to ask for strength to accept His will, not mine.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 143, May 23: The Letter O

Some Favorite Words
That Start With O
Ocala: A neat-sounding city in Florida that has 53,491 people. The name is derived from a Timuca village called Ocale, which means "big hammock." A relaxing town, I'm sure.
October: One of my Top 2 months, I love how it's warm enough to do things outside, but cool enough to often require a sweatshirt.
O'Jays: One of my favorite black groups of the 1970s, they had hits such as "Love Train," "Backstabber" and "For the Love of Money."
Ole: A very popular name for Norwegian-Americans in the Civil War era. Stoughton was full of Ole's at one time - especially Ole Olsens!
Omen: I believe in them, to a point. Mostly, I just jokingly predict them at different times, and it seldom pans out.
Ominous: Nice flowing word, I hear it used with the the word "clouds." (I found it interesting that the word prior to this one in the dictionary was "omicron," the 15th letter of the alphbet.)
Opie: Andy Griffith's son, he was portrayed by Ron Howard. The younger Opie - like the younger Beaver - was better 
than the older Opie.
Orangutan: Fascinating word and animal. I love watching them in the zoo, though zoos sometimes makes me sad for the inhabitants.
Oreo: A cookie I loved as a kid. I still like it, but it's dropped a bit in my Top 10. I really need a toothpick after having a couple.
Orion: My favorite constellation, mainly because I don't know too many. But this one is so obvious and spectacular, I can't help but stare at it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 142, May 22: The Letter N

Some Favorite Word
That Start With N
Newport News: A city in Virginia with 180,000-plus people. It is located in a major group of cities near Virginia Beach, where I vacationed with family years ago. Michael Vick grew up here.
Nerd: I first heard this word watching "Happy Days" on TV. I once went to the movie "Revenge of the Nerds" not realizing that the bright green baseball cap I wore had a big "N" on it!
Noah: Imagine the mixed feelings this Biblical character must have had building that ark. Now that's faith!
Nick at Night: This television station used to play some of my favorite old TV shows. It's really gone downhill these days.
Nocturnal: I'm not really a night person, but I like 
the sound of this word.
Nightcap: I used to have a bad habit of ordering a nightcap while out when I should have gone home. Now, if I really need one last one, I wait until I get home to have it (which is getting rarer and rarer).
Naive: Me, in so many ways. But I'd rather be this 
than worldly or cynical.
Nestles: My favorite chocolate company by far. A Hershey Bar and Nestles Crunch rank near the top.
Norwegian: My heritage, with some Swedish, I grew up in Stoughton, Wis., which is heavily Scandanavian. Uffda!
Newspaper: It's been my life since my teens when I wrote for the high school Parrot. Since then, I've worked at papers in Wisconsin, Missouri, Wyoming, Idaho and Iowa. Hope they'll survive.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 141, May 21: The Letter M

Some Favorite Words
That Start With M
Macarena: I loved this Spanish dance song when it came out in the 1990s, especially when it played at sporting events and people stood up to dance.
Mark: One of my oldest and dearest friends, he can be an outspoken person at times, but he's also one of the most devout Christians I know. He's married to a wonderful woman named Iliana.
Martyrdom: It has an almost final sound to it. Sometimes I wish I could be a martyr for the right cause (I said "sometimes")
Marx Brothers: One of my favorite comedy teams, they were so far ahead of their time, it was amazing. Being a fan of slapstick, my favorite brother was Harpo.
Mayhem: A cool word that I didn't realize meant more than just a wild, violent incident. Check out the first definition:
Miscellaneous: I like the rhythm of the word and the catch-all definition.
Miles City, Mont.: A town in eastern Montana of 8,487. I once played in a softball tournament there and it was a classic Old West type of place. I had four hits in one game!
M&Ms: I've liked these since I was a little boy and would be treated to some when stopping at my Grandma and Grandpa Olson's home on Sunday mornings after church.
Monk: I've always admired anyone who can be so devoted to God. Saw a great French film tonight dealing with monks called "Of Gods and Men."
Myriad: A Greek word meaning endless, I like how it looks. So, do you say "a myriad" or just "myriad?" I always wonder.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 140, May 20: The Letter L

Some Favorite Words
That Start With L
La Crosse: A beautiful city of about 50,000 on the Mississippi River. Its bluffs are just awesome. Named for a Native American
racquet game.
Laughter: I believe it's probably the most healthy thing a person can do. Some day, I'll do a blog of my favorite laughs.
Lincoln, Abraham: Not only our greatest president, a fascinating man who likely wasn't as perfect as history makes him out to be, but must have been a sight to behold.
Lilliputian: I barely could remember this word, but found it. It means very small or diminutive. It's derived from Lilliput in "Gulliver's Travels."
Little League: Just got done coaching Dairy Queen to a 6-3 win on a most beautiful evening at the ballpark. I love coaching
and teaching 8-12 year olds.
Llama: A pretty ugly animal from South America, I like the word. Two L's right in a row to start a word! There aren't that many.
Longstreet, Gen. James: One of Robert E. Lee's main subordinates, had he listened to Longstreet at Gettysburg, history could have been much different (not necessarily better, though).
Love: It's overused, but I can think of a lot worse words to overuse (like the dreaded f-word, for example). Love is the answer; God is love. And all that gushy stuff.
Lucy: Lucille Ball was my favorite comedienne. Her timing, slapstick ability and innocence made her wonderful. And, she reminds me a lot of my mom - another wonderful woman.
Lugnut: I'm not a mechanic, but I think this word sounds cool. There's a minor league team in Lansing, Mich., called the Lugnuts. So cool!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 139, May 19: The Letter K

Some Favorite Words
That Start With K
Kannapolis: A city in North Carolina with a population of 36,910. It's the home of Dale Earnhardt and his son, Dale Jr., plus the Class A baseball team called the Intimidators.
Keeney, Jim: A former high school teacher and my cross country coach when I was a senior. He ran with us and taught me some things I still use as a recreational runner.
Kinetic energy: I like the sound of the word. It's the energy something possesses due to its motion. A roller coaster is a good example. So am I, since I can seldom sit still.
Kites: I haven't flown them all that often. The last time was with Kris a few years ago. I marvel at how they work and look far up in the sky.
Klutz: I've known a few over the years. There's a Captain Klutz from Mad Magazine, and something called the Klutz Press.
Knickerbocker: A wonderful word, it's a surname to early Dutch colonists in New York and the team nickname
of a New York basketball team.
Knickmeier, Greg: A longtime friend from Stoughton, he was a wild man back in our slowpitch softball days. His nickname is Stubby.
Koala: A very cute animal out of Australia. Many spend their time in one of my favorite "E" words - the eucalyptus tree.
Kristen: My wife, who likes to go by Kris. I've learned so much about life and myself from her. She is my best friend and, unfortunately, I hurt her feelings tonight. I hope she forgives me.
Kumquat: Another potential overall Top 10 word, these fruits are similar to oranges, but are the size and shape of an olive. Mostly found in South Asia or the Asia-Pacific.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 138, May 18: The Letter J

Some Favorite Words
That Start With J
Jabberwocky: This word would likely rank in my Top 10 of favorite words. It's gibberish, meaningless words - something an overgrown kid like myself can appreciate.
Jalopy: I've owned a few of these in my day. It sounds cool, but its origin is uncertain.
James: Of course I have to pick this one. It's very sophisticated, and the first name of many presidents. My dad's middle name.
Jane: My first wife, she showed me how to apply the Golden Rule into real life. I still fall short far too often. Her siblings? Jay, Julie, Jaclyn, Jolene and Janis.
Jeff: My brother's name. He's a lot different than me; the handyman side of my dad. He owns a restaurant in Milton, Wis., and he's trying to sell it; the economy stinks.
Jericho: Joshua fit the battle ... I sometimes have this song going through me head, over and over. It's a great Bible story of faith.
Jock: It describes a major part of my personality. The first time I wore one, I wondered how it would protect me (they don't, of course, they just tuck it in and keep it from flopping around)
Johannesburg: The capital of South Africa, the greater metro area has more than 7,000,000 people. I'm fascinated by Africa and especially this country at the tip of the continent.
Jumping Jehoshaphat: A fun phrase to exclaim! Jehoshaphat was a Biblical king in Judah around 850 B.C. I couldn't find out a definite origin of this phrase.
"Jump Into the Fire": A rockin, bass guitar-driven song by Nilsson. Two of his other songs were the beautiful "Without You" and quirky "Coconut."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 137, May 17: The Letter I

Some Favorite Words
That Start With I
Idaho Falls, Idaho: I lived there as a sports writer (The Post-Register) for a year-and-a-half in the early 1980s. Loved the state. Who wouldn't, with views like the one above.
If: A small word that can carry a huge impact. I try hard not to follow it with "only I had ..." I prefer, "if I do this, I can then ..."
Igloo: Great word, unimaginable docile. But I enjoyed making little ones out of snow when I was young.
IKEA: A Scandavian home furnishing chain with HUGE outlets. I was so amazed, I devoted a column to them. Kris loves these stores.
Imbecile: It seems like a more sophisticated word to use instead of another "i" word, idiot. In either case, restraint should be considered before using either.
Impish: Doping naughtily or annoyingly playful things. People who know me would say I lean toward the annoying.
Incredible: I overuse this word, most often when something incredibly bad happens to me. I'm trying not to use it as often because, bad things are just a part of life - they're not incredible.
Indians: It's sad how we've turned this great and noble word into a derogatory one. But we have, so I show restraint before using it.
Incaviglia, Pete: A great baseball name, this guy was the No. 8 overall pick by the Expos in the 1985 draft. He played 12 years for six teams, mostly the Rangers. Still holds the record for HRs in an NCAA season (48).
Indigo: A cool blue named after the blue dye from the Indigofera tinctoria plant and related species. Blue is my favorite color.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 136, May 16: The Letter H

Some Favorite Words
That Start With H
Haggard: A solid-sounding word and the way I feel after mowing my lawn with a push mower without an engine.
Hal: The sports editor in Dubuque who hired me after I dropped in unannounced to say I was the man for a sports reporter opening. That was almost 26 years, two kids, two wives and one cat ago.
Happenchance: I enjoy how this word works, but I don't believe in it other than small things. I believe all major occurrences in life are planned for me.
Havey, Lyn: One of my best friends from Stoughton. He's a professed agnostic and very intelligent man who has lived and worked in Manhattan for 30-some years.
Herculean: Oh, to be as strong as Hercules. Love this word.
Hialeah: A Miami, Fla., suburb with more than 225,000 people. Interestingly, the first Jai Alai fronton was built in Hialeah. Jai Alai in Hialeah - what fun! (Jai Alai is an indoor racquet game.)
Hinterlands: Just where are they? Does every country have them, or are they limited to the "Northern Part of the Eastern Kingdoms?" 
Hippotamus: An intriguing animal and word, it means "river horse." I remember how to spell it through the "Hippotamus Song" (hipp oh I know, and then comes pot ...)
Hooterville: A fictious and hilarious television hamlet made famous in "Green Acres" and "Petticoat Junction." Make sure to stop at Drucker's Store.
Hugs: I don't give them out as much as I should to the ones I love. My dad indirectly taught me that, not out of meanness, but out of sheepishness. They're nice.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 135, May 15: The Letter G

Some Favorite Words
That Start With G
Galena: A very cool historic tourist town in northwest Illionis, Gen. Ulysseus S. Grant lived their in the early 1860s.
Garfunkel: The first time I heard the duo named Simon & Garfunkel, I thought the second name was made up. One of his best solo songs
is called "All I Know."
Gargantuan: A like the sound of this word. It's defined as "of great mass; huge and bulky." The men in a family in Stoughton named, Gallagher (G!), fit this definition.
Gettysburg: Before July of 1863, this little Pennsylvania town was minding its own business. Around 50,000 Civil War casualties occurred in this the bloodies of all battles.
Giggle: A fun word, and I love when I hear somebody giggle. My mom's side of the family - especially Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim - has some great gigglers.
God: A no-brainer, for anybody who knows me.
I trust Him with my heart and soul.
Grappler: A word used by a lot of old sportswriters in place of wrestler, I like the image (how about
Greco-Roman grappler?!?)
Great-grandma: Olson. She ranked ahead of my four grandparents in someone I admired. A widow for 40 years, my mom's side of the family revolved around her on holidays.
Green, Al: Perhaps my No. 1 black singer, this guy oozes sensuality in some of the performances on my Midnight Special DVDs
from the 1970s.
Gunderburger: I just learned of this word last month. A bar in the nearby town of Gunder, Iowa, offers this special sandwich, which btw, ranks among the Top 10 burgers in the state.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Day 134, May 14: The Letter F

Some Favorite Words
That Start With F
Family: This might sound like a copout, but when you've gone through the challenges I have, and your family has been there for you, it's a favorite word.
Fantasy: Along with the usual human fantasies I have, this word is more important to me as in Fantasy Sports. I've done baseball, basketball, football and NASCAR.
Fez: Short and sweet, it could add up to mucho points in Scrabble. It's a Turkish hat that before 1826 was found only in the Maghreb - the western region of Africa.
Fickle: Another one of those neat words, I seem to lean toward hard-sounding ones. Plus, I can be very fickle about my food.
Figment: Not sure why I like the sound of this word, but I do. Have you ever heard it used without "of his/her imagination?"
Finally: Although this word can be frustrating as you wait for something to finally happen, when it does, it's a great relief to utter FINALLY!
Fisticuffs: It has a nice flow to it. It seems like a wimpy way to describe what could be a brutal fight.
Frankenstein: A wonderful word and great fictional character. I especially liked Gene Wilder's protrayal of Dr. Fraunkensteen in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein."
French Fries: I love 'em in all shapes and forms - especially if they're well done - with ketchup.
Fulton: A town in Missouri with 12,128 people. I lived there and was the sports editor of the Fulton Daily Gazette in 1981. It's the home of Westminster College, where Winston Churchill gave his Iron Curtain speech in 1946.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 133, May 13: The Letter E

Some Favorite Words
That Start With E
Eager: This is the proper word to use when you excitedly can't wait for something. It's not "anxious," which means you're
also nervous or worried.
Eagle: It's the mascot of my two sons' high school, Dubuque Wahlert. And, though I'm not a flag-waving patriot, this is our national bird
and I am a proud American.
Earl: He was a unique, rough-around-the-edges friend of my late sister's second husband, Bob. He showed up at a family birthday party in Kieler, Wis., and caused a few raised eyebrows.
Eau Claire: A neat city name in Wisconsin with 66,278 people. It's name is French for "clear waters." Eau Claire is home to the U.S. National Kubb Championships, a Swedish yard game.
Edith: No, not Bunker. My mom's name is Edith, though my late father, Lee, used to good-naturedly say she had some things
in common with Edith Bunker.
Eggplant: The two parts of this word just don't seem to go together. As a kid, I imagined planting a chicken egg and getting something to grow. And, I won't eat one (it?), either.
Eight: It was Carl Yastrzemski's, Joe Morgan's and Cal Ripken Jr's jersey number (three of my favorite baseball players).
Enya: A spiritual female singer who I began to enjoy in the late 1990s. Her first hit was called "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)," in 1989.
Esophagus: It's the tube tube through which food passes from the pharynx to the stomach. I just think it's a fascinating word.
Eucalyptus: A very neat word and a tree that is found primarily in Australia. I learned there are 700 species and some grow as tall as 200 feet. A future favorite word - koalas - live in them!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Day 132, May 12: The Letter D

Some Favorite Words
That Start With D
"Daisy a Day:" A touching song by a guy named Jud Strunk that describes the devotion of a husband to a wife.
Death: I have contemplated this often. Sometimes, it seems amazing. Once in a while, I fear it. Most of the time, I am extremely excited
about taking the next step.
Derelict: One of those words I like the sound of. For a double-D, it's often used as "derelict in his duty."
Deuteronomy: One of the neater sounding books of the Bible. According to mine, it deals with hardship, testing, and doubt, but also with promise, hope and trust. My life in a nutshell.
Devotion: If I could have the kind of devotion to my wife that the character in "Daisy a Day," had, I'd be very pleased.
Something to strive for.
Dixie: With all of the negative connotations with this word, I can't help but believe that not EVERY person who is proud of it is a racist.
The history aspect fascinates me.
Donatell, Mr.: One of my junior high math teachers, he was a solidly squat fellow with a wooden leg. He also kept control by occasionally using a wooden paddle. I learned a lot from that great man.
Dreaming: If I'm not day-dreaming, I'm having multiple dreams at night. Twice I have remembered and written down
five dreams from one evening!
Dubuque: What used to be simply part of a jingle for a ham commercial has turned into my home longer than any other of the six towns I have lived in. Pop. 57,637.
Dusseldorf: A fun name, this town in Germany has 586,217 people. It's known for its fashion and trade fairs, plus the annual Largest Fair on the Rhine. It's probably very beautiful.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 131, May 11: The Letter C

Some Favorite Words
That Start With C
Canasta: A two-deck card game that my parents played very often in the 1960s. I eagerly wanted to learn to play and did by age 10 or so.
Carson, Johnny: Throughout the years, I really enjoyed watching The Tonight Show. He was a perfect host, great character actor and impossible to replace.
Cave-In: A fruity drink served in a Mason jar at the Dubuque Mining Company. As tasty as it is potent. Used to be able to drink two, but the bladder won't handle it anymore.
Christianity: My religion and one that I am very proud of. Some of the people who claim to be Christians, not so much.
Cobb, Ty: I've mentioned before that he is my all-time favorite baseball player. Had I known him as a person, probably not.
Coldplay: One of Kris' favorite singing groups, we have seen two of their concerts. One was a great surprise I pulled off
for her early in our relationship.
Conestoga Wagon: A great, rhythmic C word, it also conjures up wonderful images of the Old West.
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho: My favorite C town name, it's located on the panhandle and has a 44,137 pop. Named after an Indian tribe. I once covered an Idaho high school playoff football game there. The drive took 7 hours and 45 minutes. That's just 20 minutes less than a trip from Dubuque to Cincinnati!
Cupola: Another word that sounds cool, many also look very stately atop houses. This word just beat out Coppola, Francis Ford.
Custer, George Armstrong: The epitomy of courage fueled by ego.
I wonder how often he road in a Conestoga Wagon?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 130, May 10: The Letter B

Some Favorite Words
That Start With B
Bacardi: I had a few run-ins with rum when I was in my 20s. Now, a little bit in a fruity drink brings back only the fond
memories of my youth.
Barn: As a sloppy kid, I often was asked if I was born in one of these or, told to close the "barn door" on my pants.
Bayonet: As a Civil War enthusiast, this word conjures up romanticism as well as gruesomeness. I just could not imagine plunging one of these into somebody.
Ben: Last year, I had four of them on my Little League team. This year, it's down to three, thank God.
Bent Scepters: A rock group out of Iowa City, I believe, they were playing at a birthday party in the Dubuque warehouse district one night when Kris and I were invited in. Great memory.
Billie: The Boston Terrier that my mom and dad loved dearly. I loved fighting him, especially after coming home from a night out on the town in Stoughton.
Bludgeon: One of those words that sounds cool, but carries horrible connotations. It only seems to be used in the following sentence: He was bludgeoned to death.
Bob Barker: I loved Price is Right when I was younger. Bob and his beauties - what more could you ask for. And make sure your pets are spayed and neutered.
Bucyrus: One of those cool sounding city names, it's pop. in 2000 was 13,224. I Googled and found out it's the Bratwurst Capit of America (I thought for sure that would be in Wisconsin)
Bushwhack: Another cool sounding word, it makes me think of Yosemite Sam for some odd reason.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day 129, May 9: The Letter A

Words That Start With A
That Have Meaning to Me
Doing a daily blog of lists is a challenge. I need a stretch where I can count on what my next blog will be. So, for the next 26 days, I'm going through the alphabet. I'm a writer. I should be able to take this stretch and make it interesting. Time will tell.
Aardvark: A great word and a mysterious, homely animal. Googling, I found an Aardvark Taxi in Iowa City and
an Aardvark Tattoo in Portland, Ore.
ABBA: One of my favorite singing groups of all time. Anni-"Frida", Benny, Bjorn and Agnetha. Great Swedes. Favorite songs: "Chiquitia," "Fernando," and "Mama Mia."
Adcock, Joe: A well-known Major League Baseball player for the Milwaukee Braves in the 1950s, he hit 336 career home runs.
But as a kid, I'm sure he hated his name.
Africa: A continent that fascinates me. I couldn't handle going there for too long; the heat would get to me. My brother-in-law
Emmanuel is from Malawi, Africa.
Amy: My youngest sister, she died in 2008 after living a tough 47 years. She left behind three fantastic kids and a lot of great memories.
Ann: My other sister, she was born a year before Amy. Ann, Dave and my god-daughter Renae live in Cedarburg. Wonderful family. Renae is a very good high school gymnast.
"Annie Hall": My favorite Woody Allen movie, in my Top 10 of the 1970s and probably makes my Top 25 of all-time.
APBA: My dad played an APBA baseball game when I was a kid. It used dice and cards with players' names on them. I picked up the habit and played it off-and-on until my 30s.
Arkadelphia: A cool-sounding city in Arkansas that has been in my tournaments (see Jan. 22 post). I learned tonight its newspaper is called the Daily Siftings Herald and
that "adelphia" is Greek for brother/place.
Arnold: The nickname of a good friend of mine from Stoughton. I believe he also had the part of Arnold in a junior high play "Green Acres." A member of the Sons of Norway.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 128, May 8: Tabby's Gone

My Top 10 Memories
of My Favorite Pet
Tabby is gone. We don't know where he went. The last time I saw him, he was in the kitchen looking forlorn. When Shawn came home from school for the weekend two hours later, he was missing. We've searched everywhere in the house. There was no opening for him to get out. It's a complete mystery, but it's been more than two days now, so I'm sure he's gone - a month before his 18th birthday. He's worth devoting a complete blog post to, that's for sure.
1. The survivor: He had more than nine lives. His surviving many close calls after the loss of my first wife, Jane, was a huge benefit to my two teen sons.
2. The loyal friend: Tabby was great support for Jane as she suffered through breast cancer. He also was there welcoming Kris into our lives. Kris will miss him.
3. The fighter: This cat could fight. I had to wear gloves. Just when you thought he'd had enough, he turn around and come back for more. And, you wouldn't want to be a dog straying into his territory! He'd attack.
4. The hunter: It's been several years since he hunted, but he was a pro. Stealth is a good word for him as he lay prone for many minutes waiting to pounce after a squirrel or rabbit. He'd even run halfway up a tree before realizing he didn't have front claws. Panic would set in as he scampered would.
5. The show-off: The times he captured his prey, he'd often bring them over to show us. At least a couple of times, a bunny or chipmunk was brought INTO the house for us to see.
6. The cuddler: Like most cats, Tabby would love to jump up and snuggle. His favorite move was to jump on a chest and start pawing your neck. I'd make funny gag noises sometimes.
7. The all-nighters: As a younger cat, he's sometimes stay out all night. This was not something we encouraged. It just happened.
8. The snot: Almost everytime he stayed out all night, he'd show up outside my bedroom window at about 4 a.m. and wake me up. Then, since he'd get yelled at or swatted, he eventually would make me run after him when I tried to let him in.
9. The big poop: As a youngster, he'd often poop in Jane's garden. In recent years, he just pooped all the time, occasionally on the floor (hey, it was a long walk downstairs to his litterbox)
10. The King of Hill Street: The past year or two, he's been spoiled by all of us. Old age and diabetes slowed him down, so we let him live high on the hog. He earned it as this man's best friend.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 127, May 7: Andy and Barney

My All-Time Top 10
Andy Griffith Episodes
It's my favorite television show, so I must have some favorite episodes. Season 3 was the best. And I agree with those who said the show went downhill when it changed from B&W to color.
1. Mr. McBeevee, Season 3: It's not possible to make a more touching father-son story than this one, where Andy's faith in Opie is severely tested. Heartwarming is an understatement.
2. Convicts at Large, Season 3: As touching as No. 1, this is hilarious. Barney and Floyd are held hostage by three tough women. Barney becomes "Al" and Floyd is, well, Floyd.
3. Barney and the Governor, Season 3: A lot of actors play good drunks, but Barney ranks right up there. The scene where Andy takes him home to sober him up is one of the best ever.
4. Opie the Birdman, Season 4: Another touching father-son episode where Opie accidentally kills a bird. A great final scene.
5. Barney's First Car, Season 3: Boy he is showing off, but the car is the sourest lemon you'll ever see.
6. Andy Saves Barney's Morale, Season 1: One of the better ones where Andy's loyalty and friendship help cover up for Barney's innocence, but ineptness.
7. Citizen's Arrest, Season 4: Sometimes you really pitty Barney and what he gets himself into. This one gets him in trouble again, but he always gets out of it.
8. Opie and the Bully, Season 2: Andy must teach Opie how to stand up for himself, without intruding too much. Delicate balance you don't see in real-life too often anymore.
9. Man in Hurry, Season 3: When a bigtime city guy's car breaks down in Mayberry, he can't wait to get out of the hick town. He eventually realizes something different about himself.
10. Aunt Bee's Pickles, Season 2: Ranks higher on others' lists, I still pick it in my Top 10 as the fellas show their loyalty to Aunt Bee by eating her horrible pickles.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 126, May 6: Cities

My Top 10 Favorite
Largest U.S. Cities
I've never been to New York City, but I've been to many of the other 100 largest cities in the United States. Here are my favorites and their current ranking. An asterisk means I've only been to the city once, but it left a lasting impression.
Chicago (3): Very familiar with this great city
and it probably ranks in my Top 3.
San Diego (7): Also probably in my Top 3,
I love the beaches and scenery.
Indianapolis (12): Visited here the past two years with my sons;
the city is growing on me.
* Boston (21): Great place to visit. Saw Fenway Park.
Might be in Top 5 after just one trip.
* Virginia Beach (41): One trip with the family to a hotel on the beach sold me on this beautiful city.
Miami (45): Wouldn't want to live in this hotbox,
but it's just an awesome place to visit.
Minneapolis (47): The opposite of Miami,
but also a great place to visit.
St. Louis (51): Fairly easy to get around and the Arch is so cool
next to the Mississippi.
Madison (82): Probably Top 3, I practically grew up there.
Little too liberal for me, though.
Boise (98): Loved this city when I lived in Idaho
and it hadn't moved into the Top 100 yet.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 125, May 5: Music, Before My Time

My Favorite Songs
From 1949 and Earlier
This is a requested list from my friend in Stoughton, Al. He's ignited my interest in older songs a lot in the past couple of years. Kris also has burned me a few songs from before the 1950s. After a little research, I came up with this list of 15. The artist listed is the one who performed the version I like.
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, by The Andrew Sisters (1941)
Cheek to Cheek, by Fred Astaire (1935)
Foggy Mountain Breakdown, by L. Flatt & E. Scruggs (1949)
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, by Hank Williams (1949)
In the Mood, Glenn Miller (1939)
It Ain't Necessarily So, by Guy Lombardo (1936)
Lazy River, by Louie Armstrong (1931)
Moonlight Serenade, by Glenn Miller (1939)
Over the Rainbow, by Judy Garland (1939)
(Ghost) Riders in the Sky, by Vaughn Monroe (1949)
Sing, Sing, Sing, by Benny Goodman (1937)
Sleepy Lagoon, by Harry James (1942)
Take the A Train, by Duke Ellington (1941)
Tumbling Tumbleweeds, by Sons of the Pioneers (1934)
You Are My Sunshine, by Gene Autry (1941)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 124, May 4: A Swenson Ate What??

My Favorite
Foreign Foods
I come from a family where meat & potatoes & vegetables was 70-80 percent of our diet. My dad was just a very fussy eater, so that's what we became. I mentioned in my March 9 blog that I didn't even eat pizza until I was 18. Well, I was in my 20s before I ate any Mexican or Chinese food. So, to be able to even come UP with 10 foreign foods I like is a huge milestone for my side of the Swenson family. (I couldn't come up with 11, btw :-)
1. Mexican: My favorite is a plate that includes a burrito, tostada, rice, beans (no oninons!) and a frozen Marquerita on the side.
2. Greek: Or should I say a gyro? I can't say I've tried a lot of other Greek food, but I sure do love gyros (and fries).
3. Chinese: Almost any kind of chicken with dark rice, but I especially like sweet & sour. Don't like the vegetables, though.
4. Italian: Lasagna with lots of meat or, of course,
any number of pizzas.
5. Mongolian: These new restaurants where you fill up a bowl with your ingredients and watch the "chefs" fry it on a big oven
have some really good food.
6. German/French: Kris and I ate at a place called Fritze & Frites in Galena, Ill., on our anniverary. I mixed the (German) Sauerbraten (beef marinated in sweet & sour) with (French) Frites!
7. Japanese: Doesn't seem too different to me than Chinese, but it's fun watching the chef fix the meal and play with fire.
8. Norwegian: Again, haven't tried much (surprisingly). Like the meatballs, lefsa and krumkake (not the lutefisk - uffda!)
9. Indian: Dubuque's new Hot & Spicy has a couple of main dishes I can handle, but I especially like the nan bread.
10. Afghanistan: Kris and I ate at the Kabul restaurant on State Street in Madison once. I believe I had the Qabuli Murgh (chicken),
but it was too spicy, so I traded with Kris.
She loves me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 123, May 3: They Were Here First

The Native Americans
I Admire Most
If I slip sometimes and call them Indians, it is out of no disrespect. I have admired and sympathized with our Native Americans from as young as I could read about them. I only wish there were books on more than the most famous 10 or 12. But I guess the ones on my list earned enough respect and admiration to be written about the most.
1. Crazy Horse: One of the most feared and athletic Lakota Sioux warriors, I could just imagine him flying around the Western prairies on his horse. Of the many tragic Indian deaths, his ranks right up there.
2. Chief Joseph: He led the Nez Perce on an incredible, but doomed, three-month trek in the 1870s toward Canada to avoid being put on a reservation. In later years, he spoke out against inequality.
3. Geronimo: One of the more intense survivors, this Apache chief was one of the last Native Americans to surrender after 25 years of eluding the military in the early 1900s.
4. Jim Thorpe: An incredible athlete who excelled in almost everything he tried. He was an inspiration not only to his Sac and Fox people, but all of America.
5. Tecumseh: A leader of the Shawnee in the early 1800s, he organized a variety of Indians from different tribes to defend their land. Died in the War of 1812.
6. Sitting Bull: I view him as the most noble of all the Native Americans on this list. He also was a great war chief 
who was admired by friend and foe.
7. Pontiac: Leader of the Ottawa in the mid 1700s, this chief led a growing and temporarily successful revolt in the Great Lakes region.  
8. Black Hawk: A War Chief of the Sauk in the Wisconsin/Illinois area, Black Hawk fiercly battled the white man in the early 1800s.
9. Sacajawea: The only woman on my list, she was an able traveler with Lewis & Clark during their famous trip west in 1806.
10. Chief Gall: A leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota, he was a primary participant at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. His photo is the epitomy of a proud Native American of his time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 122, May 2: Wee Willie Who?

My All-Time Favorite
Baseball Names
No sport boasts more interesting names than baseball. Part of it is because it's the oldest game. But another aspect is the nicknames. They just outdo the other major sports. My favorite baseball names include some of those cool nicknames, but others just sound cool. Here is a list of 20 real baseball names. Fans will fondly remember many of these. Non-fans will likely shake their heads and not believe they are all real.
Billy Grabarkewitz
Blue Moon Odom
Boof Bonser
Carl Yastrzemski
Coco Crisp
Cool Papa Bell
Ducky Medwick
Eli Grba
Enos Slaughter
Goose Goslin
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Mel Ott
Milton Bradley
Minnie Minoso
Moose Skowren
Oil Can Boyd
Rabbit Maranville
Rico Petrocelli
Rogers Hornsby
Tony Conigliaro
Wee Willie Keeler

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 121, May 1: Lights, Camera, Speak!

My All-Time Favorite
Movies With Animals
Quite a range here, from horror to comedy to downright sweet.
1. "Babe," 1995: This might be in my Top 10 of ALL-TIME!
Just love everything about it.
2. "The Birds," 1963: Watched this with the family at home on television when I was about 10. Scared the heck out of me.
3. "March of the Penguins," 2005: Utterly fantastic French documentary with a lot of heart, to boot.
4. "The Bear." 1989: Ironically, another French film, has almost no dialogue but is captivating nonetheless.
5. "Seabiscuit," 2003: There is some great camera work in this and the story is inspirational. One of my favorite sports movies, too.
6. "Jaws," 1975: This used to be No. 2 a while ago. Great movie, but doesn't stand the test of time for me for some reason.
7. "The Incredible Journey," 1963: The original, I saw it on television as a youngster. I loved the animals 
and was drawn to their journey.
8. "Air Bud," 1997: A wonderful family movie, the dog does some amazing tricks and there's sports involved!
9. "The Adventures of Milo & Otis," 1989: Another fun family film I'd recommend to anyone.
10. "Old Yeller," 1957: A very good movie, but it's so dang sad.
Honorable mention: "Hachiko: A Dog's Story," 2009: I caught most of this on video with Kris. As amazing an animal story as I've ever seen.