WNIJ Perspectives

Perspective: I Know What You're Thinking

10 hours ago
Johnnie Shannon / Pixabay

"I know what you're thinking."

Ever have anyone do that to you? Splash right into the big puddle of your thoughts and you suddenly feel exposed.

Then you relax. Of course they can't read your mind. They can only guess.

Or they can gently ask, "Penny for your thoughts."

(Why is it always a penny? Our thoughts are valuable. Should be a million bucks for your thoughts.)

What's interesting is how we respond. I think we tend to dodge and weave.

We don't reveal what we are thinking. We shrug it off with, "Oh, nothing important."

Perspective: You Are What You Eat

Apr 20, 2021
Shutterbug75 / Pixabay

In the arsenal of what keeps us alive, food comes to the top of the list, right next to water and oxygen. Thankfully, we all have choices. Another new exciting choice is coming to McHenry County: The Food Shed Co-op, owned and operated by its owner/members. Food Shed will offer a significant percentage of products from local vendors.

Here’s the thing though: Owner-operated means us -- you and I.

I have been a Food Shed member from the beginning.

Perspective: Happy 30th, WNIJ!

Apr 19, 2021

Happy Birthday, WNIJ! I remember when I turned 30 - well sort of. My recollection of when I started listening to WNIJ, however, is clear. In the 1990’s I was living down under in Sydney, and my mate in Geneva would mail me tapes of WNIJ broadcasts -- yes, cassette tapes! Programs like the Saturday Blues that Dan Klefstad curated and hosted, along with NPR news and arts features. My passion for radio kicked in, and I volunteered at a community station.

Perspective: Cultural Trauma

Apr 18, 2021
Priscilla Gyamfi / Unsplash

The Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd has gone to jury and I'm numb.

When the killing happened, I decided to only watch the footage of the killing once out of respect. Now I have watched this chronicle of depravity hundreds of times and it doesn't get any easier. And it's not sadness, nor anger -- it's trauma.

Perspective: In Defense Of My Besetting Sin

Apr 16, 2021

Years ago in my hometown, there were only three churches: the Presbyterian, the Methodist, and the Baptist. The three ministers met every month, but there was little to discuss in such a tiny town, so they decided to liven things up by gathering to confess, to each other, their besetting sins.

The Presbyterian minister said that his was lust. He was having a torrid affair with the church organist.

The Methodist pastor said his was greed. He had long been stealing from the collection plate.

Perspective: Raise The Bar On Sexual Assault

Apr 15, 2021
Mika Baumeister

Do you remember when Al Franken resigned from Congress? A photo came to light (distributed by the subject of that photo who disagreed with Franken politically), in which Franken, a sitting Congressman, is making a joking gesture about touching the body of a sleeping woman.  He’s not actually touching her, but his hands hover above her and it is clear from his smile that he and all those around him consider this a hilarious prank. When this photo surfaced and stories from a checkered past began to emerge, Al Franken was, let’s say, strongly encouraged to resign.

Perspective: The Vocabulary Of Slavery

Apr 14, 2021
British Library

As a specialist in Caribbean literature, I teach about slavery every year. When we read the Cuban novel, Sab, or watch Tomás Alea Gutierrez's film The Last Supper, we study the organization of plantations, how sugar cane is cut and processed and the vocabulary of slavery.

Perspective: Call Me Max

Apr 13, 2021
Annie Spratt / Pixabay

The Eanes School District of Austin, Texas is in crisis mode. Letters have gone home, and counselors have been made available.

Thankfully, this did not result from a school shooting. Instead, counselors are ready to help fourth graders who may have been "traumatized" after listening to their teacher read an age-appropriate book -- Call Me Max -- about a transgender child.

Perspective: A Bad Case Of Biophilia

Apr 12, 2021
Frank Vassen / Flickr

In April sometimes, in the morning, looking into the limbs of the catalpa tree from my upstairs window, I see strange creatures that don’t seem to belong. I see...wood ducks. And then I suddenly don’t need coffee anymore. A duck in a tree is better than caffeine.


Perspective: Good, Bad, Ugly

Apr 9, 2021

COVID-19:  The good, the bad, and the ugly!

The good news is I finally balanced my checkbook, updated my address book, and made out my will. 

My winter wardrobe has been pared down to 3 pairs of flannel pajamas and a pair of Uggs.  Since I didn’t “meal plan” as much as paw through the cupboards and graze through the fridge, let me just say, pajamas do lie.  Salvation Army and Goodwill got some good deals from me.

Perspective: Justice For All

Apr 7, 2021
Logan Weaver / Unsplash

After a summer of unrest, protest, conversations, and prayer vigils, the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin is now underway. The former officer was captured on video where, for more than nine minutes, he appeared to kneel on the neck of a handcuffed George Floyd. Mr. Floyd was taken from the scene unresponsive and would eventually die from the injuries.

Perspective: The Grass Is Green

Apr 6, 2021
Dawid Zawila / Unsplash

It has been so pleasurable to see the mud-brown grass of winter give way to the lush, green grass of spring. The robins are also happy; pulling hard on their lunchtime worms. The only difficulty is that green grass grows. Regular haircuts are needed and if you receive some badly timed monsoons, it can be hard to coordinate cuttings, leading to a cowlick-y and unruly lawn. Such is the case with my yard. What started out as mild, short tufts of grass has progressed to full-fledged toupees and comb-overs. The grass is long and lank.

Perspective: Saving Our Bat Friends

Apr 5, 2021
Illinois Natural History Survey


The bat landed on my pillow.

And needless to say, we four teenage girls broke out in a chorus of screams that would have made Hollywood proud. We were spending the night in our Northwoods cabin’s “guest house,” a single room attached to an old log garage with plenty of cracks for bats and other critters to gather.

Perspective: Enjoy The Moments

Apr 2, 2021
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

It's spring! Time to shake off those winter blues and enjoy feeling the warm sun once more.

Now that the snow is finally out of the way, do you look forward to returning to a hobby? Maybe you’re a gardener ready to get your hands back into the soil. Are you ready to get pedaling that bike hiding in the corner of your garage? Or maybe it is time to walk off those pandemic pounds you and your furry friend have gained.

Perspective: Vote Local

Apr 1, 2021
Unsplash + Pixlr

On April 6, Illinois voters are electing new mayors, school board members, township supervisors, city council members and more, and are weighing in on referendums. What do you think about raising chickens in your back yard? How about your neighbors?

Perspective: Welcome To Your (Virtual) Library!

Mar 31, 2021
Kranich 17 / Pixabay

America celebrates National Library Week April 4th through 10th with the theme “Welcome to Your Library.” As a retired school librarian and a current trustee of the Batavia Public Library, I believe this theme is especially appropriate.  It reminds us that everyone is welcome at the library and encourages us to discover what is new.

Perspective: This Arrangement Isn't Working

Mar 30, 2021
Francisco Solares-Larrave

"This ménage à trois is not working," I informed my husband over the breakfast table.

Of course, the current state of affairs is his fault, because he brought Mimi into the house. Moody, difficult to please and argumentative, she lets her frustrations out on him. Mornings are the worst because she complains loudly, is impatient for breakfast and resentful when her needs are not met. Naturally, he was smitten by her youth and good looks, so he fell for her damsel in distress act.

Koshu Kunii / Unsplash

As a white male in his 60s, I have many things I may need to apologize for. All my discarded plastic or all my contribution to climate change.

And then, there is my white privilege, which came with my birth. Yes, I was born a poor white male; however, I have earned more in my lifetime than many of my male African American peers, most who have worked much harder than me.

I am sorry for the system. Although I did not create it, I have silently benefitted from it.

And my apology for it will not right all the wrongs, not even just my wrongs.

Cpl. Paul Peterson, U.S. Marine Corps.

March 29th is Vietnam War Veteran Day and while I was not deployed in Country because no female soldiers were allowed to qualify with a weapon or serve as combat soldiers, I did serve.

Graduating basic took something, not every recruit made it through -- I never thought I would. Upon graduating, I proudly wore my uniform to the airport. Holding my head high, I walked to my gate.

Perspective: The Silver Lining In Clouded Vision

Mar 24, 2021
Liam Shaw / Unsplash

I am a somewhat elderly gentleman, retired from my profession, and generally in good health -- with one exception. I am afflicted with macular degeneration, an age-related malady that leaves me, more or less, legally blind. However, I find that there are ample compensations.

Perspective: Collective Healing

Mar 23, 2021
Finn / Unsplash

Collective trauma is the term used to describe a shared emotional response to a devastating experience. This past year presented more than its fair share of traumatizing events. From COVID-related fear and grief to horror and outrage at race-related tragedies, our collective well-being has suffered in unexpected and overwhelming ways. While there are no easy resolutions to the trauma, we can take steps to heal ourselves and our communities.

Perspective: Silenced

Mar 23, 2021

“You talk too much,” my mother said, one arm on the steering wheel, the other holding the rim of the window. “People just aren’t interested.” Wind smeared hair in my face.

Perspective: Yogi's Advice For Republicans

Mar 22, 2021

The wise philosopher Yogi Berra once urged, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it!" Republicans may need to take that fork, and soon.

The party is split between Trumpists and those who long to move on. This schism may be irreconcilable because it is rooted in both policy and personality.

The personality problems are obvious. Trump's modus operandi is to attack and antagonize. Policies and opponents are caricatured for effect. Trumpists enjoy and applaud, but many others are put off and turn away--literally. They turn away from the party itself.

Perspective: Carve Your Day

Mar 18, 2021
Lonny Cain

My dad had visions. The kind that turn into things.

He would see things in his head -- and then make them. He was an artist.

That's what artists do. They transfer what they see onto or into something we can see. Call it a skill if you want. But it feels larger than that.

He liked to carve, but that process was different. He began with a vision but the wood itself would guide him.

Artists must work in partnership with their particular process or medium. But I think that partnership is more critical when you're carving.

Perspective: Open Season On Walkers

Mar 17, 2021
adapted from Manfred Richter / Pixabay

Pedestrians are not treated well on Rockford’s roads. Especially during winter, when sidewalks go unshoveled, walking is a dangerous activity, and those poor souls without a car nor bus fare can expect to dodge daily vehicular mayhem.

Here, cars have right of way most of the time, and when designing new roads, the movement of vehicles is more important than the safety of civilians.

Perspective: Voter Suppression Is Oppression

Mar 17, 2021

Recently, hundreds of new voting regulations have been proposed in state legislatures across the country, once again reigniting an old fight steeped in prejudice and racism.

Perspective: The World We Give My Daughter

Mar 15, 2021
Noah Buscher / Unsplash

The time is nearing for my only daughter to leave the house and seek her fit into the world. My heavy lone concern is the health of our dear Mother Earth that we are giving her.

Our human modernization of technology and way of life have caused enormous irreversible damage to her long-term well-being. Evolution recites that only the strong survive and Mother Nature will wreak havoc on the weak -- deeming them susceptible to ever-changing environments upon her. If the wits of humanity proceed as they have with minimal caution, I fear the worst for our race.

Perspective: Serendipity

Mar 14, 2021
public domain

I recently happened upon one of my favorite words -- serendipity -- in an essay by Garnette Cadogan where he shares this definition, “a secular way of speaking of grace.” I associate this phenomenon with unintended but somehow focused luck. One of my serendipitous stumblings led me to the job that would be the highlight of my career and connect me to a lasting circle of friends.

Perspective: 'Playful' Bigotry

Mar 12, 2021
Will Francis / Unsplash.com

Until recently, I had never heard the term "playful bigotry." It was used by a writer commenting upon the death of a famous right wing radio personality.  Apparently, he-who-will-NOT-be-named used it to great effect in his daily verbal tirades.

For the life of me, I don't understand how actual bigotry can in any way be considered playful.

Perspective: A School Of Fish

Mar 11, 2021
Chris Fink

My eyeglasses are like a school of fish that swim through the house. Just yesterday I knew their secret hiding places. Where are they today? It’s morning, and I have my coffee. Now it’s time to read something. No glasses. I yell out to the house, as my father did before me, Who stole my spectacles?! No answer. There is never any answer. My voice must spook the fish.