Josh Boschee is a Fine Public Servant. Period.

It’s time for the North Dakota news media to come up with a different secondary identifier for the man who is a representative in the North Dakota House and a fine public servant. Period.

Gender Identity / Sexual Orientation is No Longer “News”

Martin C. Fredricks IV is the 4,444th openly heterosexual blogger to write about politics, government, climate change and the environment in the United States.

I provide this information because a story in the local paper this morning made clear how important my gender identity/sexual orientation is to helping my readers understand anything and everything I do.

The story was about North Dakota Rep. Josh Boschee’s intentions to run for minority leader of the N.D. House of Representatives.

In identifying the representative, the reporter wrote, “Boschee has served in the Legislature since 2013 and is the state’s first openly gay lawmaker.”

As I’ve done so many times, I mumbled to myself, “What’s the difference?”

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You Can’t Judge a Bison by His Coat

We make judgements about people all the time without knowing much, if anything, about them.

We All Have Our Colors

The guy I roomed with for most of my first two years of college is one of the best.

Brian Johnson started as an architecture major, then became a mechanical engineering student at North Dakota State University from 1986 to 1991. We shared rooms, first in Stockbridge (a.k.a., “Jockbridge”), then in University Village. 

You’d be hard pressed to meet a kinder, more laid-back or unassuming person. Highly intelligent, too. Today he’s the vice president of global engineering for a Twin Cities firm.

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Everyday Miracles

I can work standing up for two hours a day. Big whup, right? I know. But a year out from my vertebrae fusion surgery, it’s huge. Bigger still when you consider that, for about four years prior to the surgery, I had significant pain, the kind that hinders day-to-day quality of life.

I can work standing up for two hours a day.

Big whup, right? I know. But for me, a year out from my vertebrae fusion surgery, it’s huge. Bigger still when you consider that, for about four years prior to the surgery, I had significant pain, the kind that hinders day-to-day quality of life.

I put off the surgery for a long time for various reasons, not the least of which were horror stories I heard from people about other people they knew who’d had fusion surgery and it didn’t help, maybe even made them worse. So they said.

But my pain got worse and worse. By the time I went in for the procedure, I was out of options. I could barely walk 30 feet without stopping for a break because of the pain shooting down my left leg. Sitting for any longer than 15-20 minutes could be unbearable. Finally, I met with my neurosurgeon, Dr. Alexander Drofa, and his confidence made me feel confident. (That’s us together at Sanford in downtown Fargo.)

Dr. Drofa isn’t just a miracle worker. He, himself, is a miracle. The staff members at Sanford who took care of me following my surgeries (I wound up having two) during my eight-day stay, from the nurses to the aides to the techs who took my blood pressure to the food workers who brought me my meals to the environmental services workers who cleaned my room – are each and every one miracles. My family members – Cassi, Saela, Martin, Mira and Carol – who have taken care of me and have been patient and kind with me through it all, are miracles.

If you define a miracle as something that changes a life for the better, and I do, then miracles they most certainly are.

How do I know?

Because it’s been only a year since my surgery, and while I can’t run or lift more than 50 pounds at a time, I can walk as far I want to without debilitating pain. Because I can work at my standing desk for two hours or more each day. And because my back, body and life feel better every day.

Everyday miracles.

FM Community Project Highlights “Extraordinary Ordinary” People

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I’m proud to announce “About Faces,” a new community project featuring images and stories of people who illustrate – we hope – the extraordinary in our ordinary, work-a-day lives.

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With Team Parents, It’s Hit or Miss

This one’s for you, Brah…

In the fall of 2016 my daughter played volleyball for Fargo South. As often happens among road warriors who follow their kids all over state to watch them play, I became friends with another parent.

Dave’s a great guy, always friendly and quick to smile. We sat next to each other for home stands, took turns driving to out-of-town matches and ate way too many Subway sandwiches together.

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INVALUABLE: That’s the Real Answer, Mr. Commissioner

Fusion of Smiles, Languages & Colors Gets Us Back on Our Feet

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No matter how you slice it, surgery is no fun. More to the point, it’s no fun no matter how they need to slice you. 

Painful stuff. Recovery is no walk in the park, either. After nearly eight days in recovery at Sanford, I can say this with certainty. 

I also can say the people who took care of me are diamonds, immigrants from across the United States and the world, each with a dazzling smile worth a million bucks.

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Pour, Water, Tamp, Mix, Tamp…

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

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His name is Dennis.

Five years of living 60 or 70 yards away, just over the backyard fence, I really should’ve known that already.

I stood on his front step, shaking his hand and explaining that the posts that should’ve been holding up a couple of sections of our shared fence had rotted out. He’d noticed it, too. 

Yeah, we should replace them.

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Father’s Day – Rolling Thunder

The front porch of our little, off-white stucco house in Medora, N.D., was a magical place to be on hot, muggy summer evenings.  / I was about 5 years old, and it was father-son time. I’d lean back, feel the strength in his chest and the arm around me, enjoy the cracking of peanuts in one of his big hands or the aroma of tobacco as he puffed at his pipe from time to time. 

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The front porch of our little, off-white stucco house in Medora, N.D., was a magical place to be on hot, muggy summer evenings. 

I was about 5 years old, and it was father-son time. I’d lean back, feel the strength in his chest and the arm around me, enjoy the cracking of peanuts in one of his big hands or the aroma of tobacco as he puffed at his pipe from time to time. 

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Here to There. It’s Everywhere.

Change Happens – I’m thinking about transitions on this first day of the New Year. I’ve learned change is constant. Some changes are bigger and more impactful than others. We move on. It’s all good.

I’m thinking about transitions on this first day of the New Year.

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Bad to good, good to better, better to great. If you’re not so lucky it’s the other way around. More likely, though, you’re on an up-down-up wave like the rest of us. We’re all moving all the time. From one place to another, task to task, priority to priority. I suppose “status to status” is more applicable in these online-all-the-time days.

Three things about change and transitions are, at least in my mind, undoubtedly true.

Change is constant.

Heraclitus is commonly credited as the first to put this truth into the words. According to the peer reviewed Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Greek philosopher from the late 6thcentury saw life as “…an ongoing process governed by a law of change.”  Some sources report he expressed this as, “Change is the only constant in life.” Others claim the line was “The only constant is change.” Others have it this way: “Change alone is unchanging.” Still others:  “There is nothing permanent except change.”

Which goes to show that even axioms transition down the years and depend on who is reporting them.

Some changes are bigger than others.

In 2014 my wife left her job to pursue a new career, which meant going back to school first. I couldn’t be prouder of her, and I admire her courage. The leap has been huge for our family, in a good way.

I changed jobs. So far, no day has been the same as the one before.

My daughter dropped soccer, a sport she’s been playing since she was six. That might not sound like much, but for seven years soccer seasons and tournaments ruled our lives. She’s found a new athletic passion – volleyball – which requires less travel and won’t impact our schedules quite as much. However, our two younger kids are getting deeper into the world’s game now…

It’s all good.

We move on.

Mom died in April, and all of us have been getting used to life without her. Lately I’ve been wondering when that transition might be done, but I know it never will be. Fact is, I don’t want it to be. I go on, but I think about her every day. Dad, too. And you know what? It always makes me smile inside.

My hope on this first day of 2015 is that our up-down-ups never flat line. If every day were the same, if we slid along in a ho-hum never experiencing euphoria or anguish, life would be like a dull, grey winter sky. No thanks.

This year, I plan to be whatever change demands:  sad, happy, understanding, strong, supportive or in need of support. I’ll try to be kind in everything. Above all, I’ll do my best to embrace the transition.

I hope you do, too.

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10 Yards More

Snow is a given in the upper Midwest. We deal with it. Winter here brings one of the most satisfying opportunities to be a good neighbor. I learned it from my dad, and now I try to pass it – Why not go just 10 yards more?

There’s nothing like opening your garage door in the morning after a snowfall and seeing that your neighbors have already removed the snow from the sidewalks between their property line and your driveway. It’s a warm, friendly feeling.

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