Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Getting to know da U.P.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - March 8th, 2010
Getting to Know Da U.P. :Odd facts abound in new Almanac
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Almanac
By Ron Jolly and Karl Bohnak
University of Michigan Press.
600 pages - $27.95
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is one of those empty places you go because you want to be alone. Or you want to hunt. Maybe you want to cross-country ski. There are lots of reasons to visit. For me it is waterfalls—making a list then finding every one of them. And it’s small lakes so blue-green and clear you think the lake must be shallow, but it isn’t. And it’s miles of Lake Superior shoreline, driving along and wondering about the gales of November and the men out on the freighters and if they are always watching the sky for storms. So many miles of forest and swamp with tiny villages and small towns, all far apart.
Ron Jolly and Karl Bohnak have just come out with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Almanac (University of Michigan Press) which answers any questions I’ve ever had about the U.P. and brings up others I didn’t think to ask. Things like: How big is that huge Santa in Christmas? Or what about that 35-foot black-powder muzzleloader in Ishpeming—what’s that about?
I can’t begin to mention all the topics covered. From landmarks to U.P. superlatives—this is a true: Did You Know? book.
For instance: did you know that Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world at 31,700 square miles? Or how about: did you know that there was a Unicorn Questing Season, complete with licenses, at Lake Superior State College until 1987? Also, from LSSU, comes the List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use, and General Uselessness still published every New Year’s Day.


GIRDING HIS LOINS
Here we go: There are almost 35,000 acres of virgin Northern hardwoods in Wilderness State Park. 75% of iron ore moved on the Great Lakes is shipped from Lake Superior and 50% of the coal. The long-time editor of Marquette’s Mining Journal was a man “whose joy it was to gird up his loins, seize a club and wade in, laying on right and left” according to an orator at his funeral in 1909.
And did you know the lowest official reading in Upper Michigan was 48 degrees below zero in Ontonagon County in January 1912? Or that the mystery writer, Charlotte Armstrong, lived up there? Or that the Rolling Stones came to play one song in Marquette in 2002?
Let’s talk about the cougar or what we, in the Lower Peninsula, have known (until recently) only as our mythical beast. The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy and Central Michigan University now admits-–through DNA evidence—there are cougars in Delta, Dickinson, Houghton and Menominee Counties in the U.P. The cougars live among moose, wolves, black beer and all the other usual wildlife, making the U.P. a kind of last frontier for a stern race of people who still value their independence and individuality.
It was these Yoopers who formed the first professional hockey league in 1904, paying the players for their talents until 1907 when the Canadian professional league was established. Yoopers not only gave us the pasty, but cudighi, and TrenaryToast. Their per capita income runs from under $20,000 to $29,000, and unemployment runs high in all the counties.

SECOND EFFORT
From wealth to waterfalls, if you’ve got a question about the U.P. the answer is probably here. There are sections on education, the economy, mining, shipwrecks, culture, government, architecture, wildlife, and so much more. You want to know the name of every lake and waterfall in every county? It’s here. You want to know history and population distributions, or about the prisons and prison camps? It is all here. You will even find the number of slot machines each tribe owns.
The collaboration between Ron Jolly, broadcaster on WCTM in Traverse City, and Karl Bohnak, a meteorologist at WLUC, TV 6, in Marquette, came about because both had done previous books on Michigan. Jolly’s was the Northern Michigan Almanac (2005), and Bohnak’s, So Cold the Sky (2006), about U.P. history from a weatherman’s perspective. Editors at the University of Michigan Press brought the two men together to write an almanac of the Upper Peninsula.
The writing process began with a meeting between Jolly and Bohnak in St. Ignace. After that initial meeting the two met only once more, when Bohnak came to the Lower Peninsula on a book tour. Jolly said the almanac was put together by emails after that. “I’ve got a huge file of the email between us,” Jolly laughed. “I’m the geeky one who loves statistics and wrote about the authors. Karl’s the history buff and the weather guy.”
The book was supposed to run to 200 pages and be finished in 2005. Instead, Bohnak said, it came in at 600 pages and wasn’t finished until the spring of 2009.
The reasons the book took so long to complete, according to Jolly, was due to personnel changes at the press and Internet difficulties. Often his emails to Karl would go to spam and languish there until found, months later.
“As ’06, ’07, and ’08 passed,” Jolly said, “The information had to be updated. The process was laborious, but not that difficult.”
The biggest problem for the men, according to Bohnak, wasn’t what to put in but what to leave out.
The result is a huge, comprehensive almanac now in local bookstores. I can’t imagine heading to the U.P. again without it.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is a novel writer whose third book in the Emily Kincaid series will be out in May of 2010.





 
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