Monday, May 16, 2005


Recently my wife and I purchased a home…or I guess I should say we are in debt to the bank for a home that we will have purchased over the next 30 years. Nonetheless we are now living in a house in North Dakota. We enjoy our little brick house with a nice yard for our fur-child to roam about and accomplish his end doodie.

We have been in North Dakota for just over a week and have already noticed a few cultural differences about this almost Canadian state.

1. This afternoon I went by the Starbucks to pick up my afternoon prescription and noticed something quite North Dakotan. This particular Starbucks has a drive-thru to order your beverage of choice. The pick-up window where the drink is handed to the customer has a heater above the glass door. It is similar to the heater in the entrance of a grocery store. As the door opens a sensor is triggered to start the massive rush of hot air down on the customer. The interesting thing about the drive-thru window at Starbucks is that the heater is on the outside of the drive-thru blowing hot air into the open window of the car. Is it really that cold in North Dakota? It is!

2. All grocery stores, gas stations and hardware stores are still selling 50 lb. bags of salt for ice and snow removal. As a reminder, it is the middle of May.

3. Saturday as my father and I were installing a new fence in the back yard our neighbor awoke from hibernation and crawled out the back door of his house. He gave the neighborly nod and said, “Say, you about moved in der den?” (translation: “Have you almost completed the unpacking of your boxes?”)

4. There is no sign of foliage on any of the trees yet.

5. Sunday afternoon Kirsten and I went to Menards (saving big money, of course) to pick up a few odds and ends for the completion of our fence. At the check out counter there was a posted sign stating the current exchange rate for those coming in from Canada. What?

6. It snowed Thursday, Friday and Saturday and the featured item at Menards is still the gas-powered snow-blower.

These are just a few of the differences here in North Dakota. One can quickly understand why the entire population of this northern state is just over 600,000. Do people really like living here? I guess they do because as I pulled into the Starbucks this afternoon the license plate of the vehicle at the heated drive-thru window read ND S GR8. North Dakotans adore their land and we are making an effort to join them. We are trying to learn the ways of the people and as I learn more I will keep you informed. If anyone has any tips on making igloos or frying seal blubber please let us know. Check back often for additional information about the tundra der den, eh?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Gummy Worms and 2nd Thoughts

We have all had those moments in life when we do something silly and think about it after the action has been completed. I have many personal examples I can share with you at some point. Here is an example from a man in North Carolina (which is nowhere near North Dakota).

The Setting: Local ice cream parlor. Beautiful, warm southern day. Birds chirping. Daffodils in full bloom.

Characters: Clarence Stowers (ice cream eater)

Plot: Man loves him some candy in his ice cream
Stowers, who did not immediately return calls
Monday from The Associated Press, told the television
station: "I thought it was candy because they put candy in your ice cream ... to make it a treat. So I said, 'OK, well, I'll just put it in my mouth and get the ice cream off of it and see what it is.'" Stowers said he spit the object out, but still couldn't identify it. So he went to his kitchen, rinsed it off with water -- and "just started screaming."
Stowers said he planned to contact a lawyer about the finger in his ice cream.
Maybe next time Clarence will select something other than gummy worms as his candy of choice. Mmmmm, finger in ice cream.

Read the full story at

Monday, May 02, 2005

An Idea for Keeping Busy

Today I started a new job as a pastor at a church in North Dakota. The interesting thing as a new pastor coming into an existing church is that the very work I will be doing is quite unknown to me at the prestent time. I will be working with people and at this point I am not sure if I remember my own name let alone the names of the parishoners. I walked into the quiet building this morning and sat at my desk. There was a new computer with “My Documents” waiting to be filled. There were shelves longing to be burdened with the weight of books. In a drawer sat many unopened packages of post-it notes waiting to be stuck and restuck. I gazed out the window and watched the brown prairie grass blow in the wind and thought – where do I begin? You may be wondering what I did all day or what any pastor does all day for that matter. Well, at about 1:30 this afternoon I checked my e-mail for the 58th time and noticed I had an e-mail from a good friend of mine entitled “An Idea for Keeping Busy.” In the message he suggested I start a blog. I gave it some thought and tried to figure out what I would write if I did start a blog. I could write about North Dakota. I could write about the church. I could write about my son or my wife or my dog. I thought about it for a while and then decided that I didn’t really want to start a blog. It’s a good idea but I just don’t know what I would write.

Franklin for President