2012.12.28 The themes of 2011

Written by David Green.


I’ve been reading through old “By the Way” columns in search of an underlying theme from the past year. Instead I found three, in addition to a little insanity and the continuing need to fill space.

First of all, I learned that I wrote fewer columns this past year than ever. There was one guest column—from Sandy Shepherd—and 10 repeats from years gone by.

The repeats are an indication of how busy I am, and this must have been a very busy year. I ran out of time often and turned to the archives every month but March and October. September was particularly rough: Sept. 14 and Sept. 20—two weeks in a row.

I’m guessing that’s OK by readers because they probably don’t remember them anyway from 20 years ago. Besides, they’re stories about my kids when they were young and those stories are probably more entertaining than the current themes.

Theme number one: Out of the Loop.

I discovered there were major reports of UFOs hovering over Chinese cities and that was completely new news to me. I’d never heard about it until last January. 

That column was the very first of the year and at the time I wrote: “When 2011 comes to a close, the previous sentence just might remain one of my favorites from By the Way for the entire year.”

I was right, and here it is: “Brother Guy is also the curator of the Pope’s meteorite collection.”

I was out of the loop on that, too. I never would have guessed that the Pope has a meteorite collection. Who da thunk it? Lucky guy. I would love to have a collection of meteorites.

I was out of the loop when it came to the possibility of a banana pestilence and out of the loop for not knowing what a Kroger Card is. I even feared I would have to return my romaine lettuce and go home empty-handed.

I was ignorant about the profession of Aaron Rodgers. I’m pleased to report now, at the end of the year, that I’ve witnessed some sharp passing of the football by the guy.

Another theme is The Odd.

That included reporting first-hand about the throwed rolls at Lambert’s Café, learning about retired astronaut Rusty Schweickart’s plan to save Earth with a gravity wagon, and reading about Harold Camping’s ideas about the end of the world.

I learned about barf art, about eating grubs (what I referred to as the other other white meat), and I learned that Dr. Bass thinks foods should be eaten one item at a time—first your watery food, then the not-so-watery food and on to the really dry stuff like old bread.

The final theme could be classified as Home Life.

This includes items such as sucking my wife’s bath towel into a vacuum cleaner; about operating in the dark and facing the consequences such as eating a salad made of compost, thinking hair gel was hand cream and getting the wrong toothbrush because someone turned the holder around.

There are tales of fighting ants, of finding a bug in an ear, of how to handle a snoring wife, and of searching for my other wife. I still don’t know that I have another wife, but my real wife often mentions her, as in, “That must have happened with your other wife.”

Someone sent an e-mail with information about my other wife, but she was misinformed. Wrong life.

One column that didn’t fit into the three themes was the one about an Observer from Scotland. Carol (Bachelder) Steck brought a photo of the Stirling Observer with almost an exact replica of the State Line Observer’s “flag” at the top of our front page.

There are similarities between the two communities and there are differences. Morenci is 178 years old; Stirling has been around since Stone Age times.

Finally, the column that I personally found most interesting from the year was written on day nine of no internet service at the Observer. A line was severed in the demolition process next door and I was trying to slide back into the 1990s.

I was completely lost. I no longer knew how to waste time without the internet. All I could do was stand at my standing desk and stare out the window. It was one of the strangest days of 2011, and those days have now come to an end.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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