Saturday, July 30, 2011

40th anniversary of Concert for Bangladesh

It was 40 years ago this coming Monday -- Aug. 1, 1971 -- when former Beatle George Harrison and his friend Ravi Shankar put on two benefit concerts in New York. The mission was to call attention to, and raise money for, the people of Bangladesh, who faced floods, famine and civil war.

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary, "The Concert for Bangladesh" feature film will stream in its 90-minute entirety through 10:59 p.m. CDT Monday on

Storybook weekend

I don't have many friends, let alone those (aside from classmates) I've known for four decades. But that's the case with Bob Sokol. If I recall, we met in the summer of 1971 -- no later than the summer of 1972 -- when my summer job was conducting weekly cross-country and road races for the park district in my hometown in suburban Chicago.

Bob was a regular competitor back then, driving his Road Runner (weather permitting!) from Maywood to Glen Ellyn for the races, after which he would demonstrate his unique style of humor. Let's just say that , as a runner, Bob was quite the comedian.

We really bonded on a summer weekend in 1972, when Bob took his own turn as race director, hosting a 24-hour relay on the cinder track of his alma mater, Proviso East High School. It was one of my most challenging events ever -- 34 one-mile runs in 24 hours, averaging 5:47.

Anyway, though we have stayed in touch over the years, our get-togethers have been infrequent. However, Bob and his bride, Carol, paid us a visit last weekend. Though rain Saturday and Sunday mornings wiped out our running plans, Madame X and were happy and proud to show them around Dubuque -- Mississippi River Museum, Fenelon Place Elevator, Eagle Point Park, River Walk, Dubuque Star Brewery, etc. As a bonus, we got to spend some time with Bob and Carol's daughter Kim and her boyfriend Anthony -- a quality couple of med students.

It wasn't this weekend that we learned that we were the inspiration for a children's book.

We resolved that, now that we are empty-nesters, there is little reason to not get together more often. In any case, we still need to have our first run together in nearly 35 years.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

After the storm (or between the storms)

Dubuque received 10 inches of rain Wednesday night-Thursday morning. Some areas reported 14 inches! While that caused some major problems in many sections of town and region, it provided a fun diversion for a couple of young girls we know.

More heavy rain is predicted. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A hot time in Des Moines

Salisbury House and Gardens, Des Moines (Photo by Salisbury House )

After I fulfilled a speaking engagement in Panora, Iowa, on Friday afternoon, Madame X and I started a two-night stay in nearby Des Moines.

The weekend was a great chance to catch up with daughter Ellen and son-in-law Adam.

The visit included dinner at E&A's condo Friday, then a full day Saturday: A guided tour of the historic Salisbury House mansion (above), lunch and shopping (by Madame X, while I stood guard) in the sun-baked Valley Junction district, Mass in the Basilica of St. John, followed by dinner and an Iowa Cubs victory at Principal Park.

Though it was a hot day, we had a great time.