Average Joe


I’m relatively new to the adult world of coffee-drinking, so forgive my naiveté. There is a wide range of coffee blends and brands out there, but I can’t say that I really taste a whole lot of difference. Maybe I’m too inexperienced and haven’t developed a distinguished palette for java, but with a soon-to-be barista in our midst that will likely change. As far I’m concerned right now… Joe is Joe.

Parenting Millennials

I probably sound like Ward Cleaver when I remind my children how rough our lives were compared to theirs. It’s apparent that every generation has a horror story to tell their children to make them appreciate how good they have it. Ironically, we still make it a goal to want better for our kids than what we, ahem, ‘endured’. That kind of makes the infamous ‘when I was your age’ series of ‘walking to and from school, uphill, both ways’ a weak anecdote to garner their sympathies as we negotiate their comparative luxury. In the end, I think we, as parents, learn more about sacrifice than our kids do.



It’s interesting how legality affects morality. As a father I take very seriously the job of raising my kids to know the difference between right and wrong. Why? Because making the right decisions will prolong their longevity and their ability to positively impact humanity. Lately I find myself competing with the message that society is sending. With the legal diversity that exists today their obedience to the ‘laws of the land’ is on somewhat of a sliding scale. Morality and ethics now become more of a relative norm based on how the majority voted. If something is legal, does that make it right? Raising my kids to be responsible law-abiding citizens is suddenly more complicated. Most debate the existence of a set of moral standards, but I believe there is.


If you’ve been in hiding the past twenty-four hours, you’ve likely missed the image above. It immediately went viral. This New York police officer’s actions speak to a set of values and ethics that no person can argue with. The way the world has responded to this random act of kindness not only restores my faith in humanity but it reveals an innate sense of moral and ethical ‘law’ that we implicitly know is right but don’t always follow. This is the message I want my kids to get. To understand. To emulate. And they shouldn’t need a legal reason to do so. Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s not the law. It’s the golden rule.

The American ‘Marriage’

In light of all the negativity this election year, I’m hopeful the nation’s bi-partisan partnership can endure. Most would argue that our country needs to be more like-minded, but I believe that it’s the differences that guarantee some balance. In an odd sort of way our two-party system is a relationship not unlike many marriages. If you’re married and take offense, please forgive the loose analogy. I can’t speak for every marriage but I know that some of the strongest bonds exist between two people that don’t always agree. The relationship survives when there’s a concerted effort to resolve conflict – one that selflessly seeks to preserve the union, not tear it apart.

Certainly politics and marriage don’t work exactly the same and for that I’m grateful. I don’t know that I would want our kids to elect one parent to rule the household. I doubt that my platform of reduced spending on entertainment and allowances while increasing chores would get me many votes. Sure I’d have a well-designed logo and a solid record of fiscal responsibility, but my inexperience with the domestic meal program would most certainly sink my campaign. My ‘opponent’ is much better at handling domestic and foreign affairs and has a charisma that sways people. She’s no push-over and is very passionate about ensuring the happiness and well-being of our household. In that sense our goals are the same. I guess it’s a good thing we know how to reach across the aisle and work together — despite the occasional debate on the house floor.

On the eve of this presidential election our nation is split on the decision of who should lead. I hope and pray, that regardless of the outcome, that the best interests of our country are truly considered. That the citizens (and leaders) of this country can quit the bickering and really work together to restore unity and cooperation. Educate yourself on the issues, exercise your freedom and responsibility and get to the polls to VOTE!

I’m Sean Thorenson and I approve this message.

Save America

Is anyone else disturbed and embarrassed by our national debt? America’s way of doing business is expensive. The current national debt is a staggering  $ 1 6 , 1 7 8 , 3 1 4 , 5 3 1 , 7 5 3 . 2 4 . It’s hard to quantify such a number. I think it would be accurate to describe it as irresponsible and disheartening. It didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t run-up by one administration, or one party. If America truly is a democratic republic, then we all have a part in this number. If the government works for us, we have a responsibility – an obligation – to see this number go down. But how?

I certainly don’t know the answers, but I do know what our household does when we forecast a shortfall in our budget. I don’t demand more money from my employer or go out looking for a higher-paying job. We reduce spending. We look seriously at what is a ‘want’ and what is a ‘need’. We make do. We scrimp. We pinch. We save. We survive. It’s simple math. Spend less than you make. Live within your means.

At some point we as a country stopped making fiscal responsibility a priority. We treat debt as a way of life – a necessity to live the ‘American Dream’. It isn’t. True, the politicians all know how to pay lip-service as to how they plan to lower that number, but it will take each one of us to adopt financial accountability as a priority in our own lives. Isn’t it hypocritical to expect the government to be debt-free if we’re not? I think if we want to save America, we need to save, America.


If there’s one household chore I despise most, it’s ironing. I am among those that are not blessed with a wrinkle-free wardrobe so I have a tendency to stock-pile my wrinkled items until I have what I believe is enough to justify setting up the board and heating the iron.

Once you get going it’s not that bad but it requires a degree of skill and finesse that you simply cannot learn without lots of practice. Cotton button-down shirts require water spritzing (or iron steam, if you are so equipped) and a lot of repetitive sweeps. Using the nose end of the board for the collars is still something I struggle with. The worst are those shirts with the stubborn button hems that want to stay wrinkled. There you have to thoroughly soak the area and carefully slalom between the buttons. I should stop trying to be an ironing hero but I just can’t seem to justify the expense of bringing my modest load of laundry in for dry cleaning.



It would seem that everyone these days has some ‘ink’ on their body. I have nothing against anyone (or anyone’s grandma for that matter) that does but I personally don’t think I could ever commit to it. I simply can’t imagine anything that I would want permanently stamped on my body for the rest of my life. I can barely do a drawing without thinking of ways to improve or change it just minutes after finishing it.

I think it’s just the nature of artists and designers to always want to perfect their creations and it’s for this reason that I have problems designing tattoos for others. I wonder if those that get them don’t experience this to some degree. Maybe that’s why I’ve been told that once you get a tattoo that it’s addicting and you have to get another. Trust me, if I had tattooed my first personal logo onto my arm twenty years ago, I can guarantee that I’d have the itch to get another – if only to perfect or improve on the terrible one that I would now have.

Sorry, but I have no desire to spend my twilight years in some retirement home poignantly explaining to fellow residents what each of my tattoos mean. I’ll stick to sharing my art on paper, thank you very much.


I’ve always been intrigued with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It’s amazing how many people are willing to hold it up as scientific law when it is, in fact, a theory. Not all of Darwin’s ideas are bunk, however. I do believe microevolution exists within a species over time as it adapts to its environment but the whole ‘fish growing legs’ thing? Well, that’s just plain science fiction in my opinion. If there were some possible way that man evolved from electrically-charged, primordial protein soup you’d expect to find more substantial evidence in the fossil record to prove it– the missing links as they’ve come to be known.

Even evolutionist Gerald A. Kerkut noted several troubling assumptions that Darwin’s theory proposes, though most supporters only consider the seventh. 1) Nonliving things gave rise to living material. 2) Spontaneous generation occurred only once. 3) Viruses, bacteria, plants and animals are all interrelated. 4) Protozoa gave rise to the metazoa. 5) Various invertebrate phyla are interrelated. 6) Invertebrates gave rise to the vertebrates and 7) Vertebrates and fish give rise to amphibia, amphibia to reptiles, reptiles to birds and mammals. It’s interesting stuff. I wonder how many self-proclaimed Darwinists truly believe all seven of these tenets of the theory?


I wonder how long it will be before Bismarck fully embraces recycling. We’ve always recycled aluminum but have recently added plastic and tin to our stash within the past couple years. It’s amazing how little garbage actually gets hauled to the landfill when you start sorting through it. I would say our trash bin is only 25% full when we put it on the curb each week where before it was spilling over.

Unlike larger markets, this town lacks any curbside service for recyclables, so if you want to recycle you end up stockpiling it in your house. When the sight (or smell) becomes too much to bear you load it up and haul it to one of the few collection sites.

For us, recycling really wasn’t too cumbersome because the nearest collection site was within a few blocks of our house. Now they’ve moved the plastic collection bin to a site further away. If the process remains this inconvenient I don’t see the recycling effort gaining much steam.  I can’t think of a bigger deterrent to those already unmotivated to even consider recycling under the current system.