Archived Story

An alternative to filling space [UPDATED]

Published 10:02am Monday, December 10, 2012 Updated 12:14pm Monday, December 10, 2012

This year, my family decided to take a stab at materialism.

For my daughter’s eighth birthday party, my wife convinced her to ask her friends to bring donations to the Otter Tail County Humane Society instead of presents.

Now, before I get accused to promoting how good-hearted our family is, you need to keep in mind that that, for my wife and I, there certainly was a self-serving element to it.

As a single child, and the first grandchild in two families, my daughter has never lacked toys. In fact, the pile of toys has become overwhelming, to say the least, taking up part or all of four rooms in our house. So while asking for Humane Society donations (she loves dogs, and I’m allergic to them so we can’t have one), is certainly a generous thing to do, my daughter not getting as many personal gifts, for us, is like addition by subtraction.

And make no mistake, she received plenty of toys as birthday presents this year anyway (which she appreciates and has been playing with, by the way) and Christmas is around the corner.

The act of taking three boxes of stuff over to the Humane Society, I hope, made her feel good.

• • •

So for two weeks in a row, my 8-year-old daughter and I have been having our Saturday morning workouts in the basement. She gets on her cute pink running shorts, we turn on the Nintendo Wii, get the treadmill rolling, and for 30 minutes, we rotate between the two.

I hope it’s a tradition we can continue…indefinitely.

I have been seeing that commercial about the two overweight kids bragging to each other about how much their (overweight) fathers can eat, and it scares me. Weight control has been a well-documented issue in my family. I am sure that there’s a family gene in my head that says “go” when it comes to consuming food and beverages when it should stay “stop.” On Friday, I just saw a photo from a few years ago that provided such evidence.

Thus, my only option is to be as active as I can, and make sure I have access to healthy foods (fruits and veggies, whole grains, etc.) at all times of the day. If they aren’t, I will quickly seek out less healthy alternatives. At about 11 a.m. on Friday, for example, I had a deep need to eat something. My bag of veggies went bad, and so my “go gene” led me to buy chocolate chip cookies from the vending machine.

It’s a pattern I’m hoping my daughter will adhere to.

I’m not sure what kind of an athlete she’ll be. She certainly won’t be getting any running speed genes from me. I may be able to run a long way, but I won’t be challenging Usain Bolt anytime soon. But hopefully her involvement in dancing and figure skating, and her interests in biking, running and swimming, and her appreciation for vegetables, will stay with her for the foreseeable future.

• • •

I fully endorse the moves by Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan to trade away center fielders Denard Span and Ben Revere for three pitching prospects. We really don’t have a choice. I’m sick of the Twins putting up pitcher after pitcher on the mound who “pitches to contact,” which is translation for letting their weak fastballs get hit around the part. No one is willing to give up a starting ace in their prime, so Ryan is doing what is available to him.

You never know what might come of “prospects.” There’s a big difference between being able to throw a baseball 95 miles per hour and getting big-league hitters out. But considering what has happened to the Twins without guys who can throw 95 miles per hour – two of the worst seasons in Twins history – we’re better off with guys who at least have the potential to be aces then none at all.


Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at

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