unPHILtered – Phil Ponce's Blog

What A Job!

Last night, Jay Shefsky did a feature on an occupation I had never heard of:  honeybee rescuer.  It seems that it’s not unusual for bees to set up their hives inside the walls of someone’s home.  When that happens, homeowners have the option of either calling an exterminator or…a bee rescuer.

The bee rescuer comes to your house, carefully removes the siding of your house so he can gain access to the hive (which in the case of the house last night, was 5 feet long!) and then painstakingly removes the bees and the queen using a gentle vacuum cleaner.

He then relocates the entire hive to a safe location.  At a time when Bee Colony Collapse Disorder is a real issue — one which threatens the ecosystem and the food chain — this seems like a particularly valuable job.  If you didn’t catch the program last night, check out the story.  It is incredibly cool!

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My Ongoing Ignorance

I am reminded of my ignorance on an ongoing basis.  Today, it happened when I was reading the obituaries in the Sun-Times and came across the obit for one Albert Murray, someone I’d never heard of.  Here’s the first paragraph:

Albert Murray, the influential novelist and critic who celebrated black culture, scorned black separatism and was once praised by Duke Ellington as the “unsquarest man I know,” died Sunday. He was 97.

The obit goes on to talk about Murray’s ability to bridge the worlds of words and music, his ying to Ralph Ellison’s yang, and the important role Murray played in America’s cultural and intellectual life.  I was an English major in college, have loved to read all my life on a range of subjects and try to have at least a cursory knowledge of what’s happening in the culture.  Murray sounds like someone who — at some point –should have been on my radar screen.  Why had I never heard of him?  Was I sick the day we discussed him in class?

It is sobering to be reminded of just how little we know about so many things.  A lot of us live in boxes that let in little new information.  Try as I may, punching a hole in that box isn’t so easy.

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The Most Difficult Topic in American Public Discourse?

Is race.  It is the third rail for the chattering classes and just about everybody else.  Whether it’s sparked by Oprah’s encounter in a fancy Swiss handbag store, by a rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask, or by the closing of Chicago schools, it is hard to have a nuanced and civil discussion about the role race continues to play in the way we interact with one another.

That’s why I was so impressed with the breadth and perspective in this op-ed piece in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune by Don Wycliff.  (Disclosure:  he is a colleague and one-time office mate of mine at Loyola University Chicago, where I lecture part-time.)  Wycliff’s piece has history, heft and a point-of-view.  It was written by a grown-up with an evolved sense of the world and who knows how to connect the dots.  Check it out.

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My Son’s First Time on Television News

Back in 1982, I was working as a weekend reporter for WRTV, Channel 6, in Indianapolis.  One day I was assigned to cover the opening of a new space at the local children’s museum and I thought it would be fun to have one of my children do the closing “standup.”  Since Dan was the oldest (age 6) I thought he would be the logical choice to  handle the duties.  But Dan wanted no part of it.  Instead, he wanted to keep playing in the museum.  Maria was only 2, so she was a little young for the job.  So I went with middle child, Anthony–who’s always had an accommodating streak!

Above, you can see the results of our collaboration.  And yes, that really is what I looked like 31 years ago.  And that is Anthony at age 4.  I’m not sure this is what got him interested in a career in broadcasting (you can watch him on NBC-5), but evidently it didn’t hurt.

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