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Humorist Will Rogers once said, "Don't let yesterday use up too much of today," which certainly are commonsense words the U.S. House of Representatives should consider. Obamacare may be a good or a horrible law depending on how you look at it, but it is a law that was passed by Congress. Like it or not, the Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional. There may even be more folks who don't like it than do, but it shouldn't be holding the federal budget hostage. There are not enough votes to repeal the law, so move on.
Some of my earliest memories were of my parents and us five kids camping in a three-room, heavy canvas tent. The tent was heavier than the station wagon we needed to haul it. The tent did a really good job of keeping the rain out unless you touched the sides or roof, which would have been easy to accomplish if you didn't have five kids. The tent only took an hour for two adults and five kids to pitch, so you could you imagine my father's excited happiness when he replaced it with a brand new 1972 cab-over camper on a new three-quarter ton pickup.
Earlier this week, my birthday came and went. Maybe the fact that my age is now bigger than my birth year, I must admit to feeling a bit melancholy and nostalgic rather than celebratory. Forty years ago this week, I was a 17-year-old senior at Marana High School just outside Tucson, Ariz. I was so much smarter than today, and everything was so much bigger. The world I studied in my history and geography courses was so much larger and contained mystical places so far away that as a wise young man, I questioned the wisdom of even studying the courses.
Sometimes it is easy to forget how blessed we are to live in our country, and those of us who live in southwestern North Dakota have experienced an economic boom that is the envy of the country and world. You would think with such prosperity, hunger wouldn't be a problem. But in the midst of the historic economic surge, there are people who go to bed hungry on a routine basis. If not for the heavy lifting done by the Amen Food Pantry, there would be a lot more.
Two words that have never found association in my vocabulary are lunch and learn. Maybe it started in grade school when I figured out lunch was an escape from learning. Lunch time was devoted to gobbling down my PB&J as quickly as possible so I could hit the kickball circuit on the playground.
Where has the summer gone? Tomorrow is Labor Day, which, according to the Department of Labor, is a creation of the labor movement, and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. Well, if anyone deserves to be honored and enjoy a three-day weekend it is the workers of our area. We have to appreciate all that has been accomplished in our area in a relatively short period of time.
Unlike my neighbors, friends and co-workers who waste their valuable free time on silly summertime hobbies like fishing, camping or golf, I spend the majority of mine watering the lawn, flowers and a few tomato plants. I can't believe folks leave such summer fun as dragging garden hoses around to automated sprinklers. How fun is that? I seldom go more than a day without hand watering, but earlier this week I slacked off and missed a couple of consecutive days. The plants and lawn looked like they were minutes away from cardiac arrest.
Every time someone visits, like most of us, I show them around town and all of the new developments. Blessed with a gift for stating the obvious, our town is just a whole lot bigger than it was when I moved here. Depending on how you are affected by the rapid growth, you may see it as a curse or an answer to prayers. Regardless, there is no doubt that our population is close to, if not already, double what it was six years ago. When the oil development began, folks in the know started predicting a population of 30,000 in Dickinson within five years.
Last week I wrote about my impending float trip on the Missouri River in Montana. I mentioned there was better-than-average chance we would either dump the canoe or get drenched in a rain storm. Thankfully, my son Tom and I stuffed our vessel with enough camping equipment and supplies that despite our best efforts, the canoe remained upright for the 48-mile trip. Unfortunately, Mother Nature came through to ensure that we could appreciate a wet wilderness experience. The rain really was just a drizzle as we launched the canoe on Thursday afternoon.
By the time you read this on Friday morning, despite gobs of sunscreen, I should be slightly sunburned. Mosquitos will have ignored the world's best insect repellent I have lathered on myself and will be treating me as their own feast. My stomach will certainly feel the effects of camp cooking and the previous night's cigars and adult beverages. My arms and back will ache from sleeping on the ground and the constant paddling required on my upper Missouri River canoe trip.