NEW RICHLAND-HARTLAND-ELLENDALE-GENEVA AREA

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It's nice to be done with the holidays and back to the daily grind. I tend to do my best when I'm able to stick to a schedule, which gets thrown completely out of whack in December. Now I'm just anxiously waiting for this winter to end – we're what, halfway through January now? Still a ways to go, unfortunately.

Does anyone recall two weeks ago when I mentioned my friend Alex, who's currently in Japan with the Marines? Well, he'll be home again on the 31st, and I'm very excited for that – he originally left two years ago this March, and has only been back once for a week since then, so it'll be great to see him again.

Things are going pretty well for me right now, for which I'm incredibly grateful. I'm more used to my home in Waseca; a few weeks ago I took in a kitten from my mom's house, and he's so fun to have around. His name is Boomer, and he's around six months old, so he still loves to play whenever he's not asleep. He's definitely got his own personality, but he's a good kitty and I'm glad to have him.

A goal of mine for a while now has been to be more informed about current national/world events as well as local, since I get an abundance of local news at work every day. Since I don't have cable, and when I lived with my dad I didn't get cable in my room, I looked to Hulu Plus (a video streaming app, similar to Netflix but more focused on current-season TV shows) for some good news sources. I came across the Daily Show with John Stewart and the Colbert Report and recalled vaguely seeing parts of past shows when I was younger, so I decided to start there – and I haven't missed an episode since.

Combining comedy with news, in my opinion, is brilliant; what better way to lighten the unfortunate things that happen around the world every day? And I'm not the only one who thinks so: a study estimates that roughly 80% of adults age 18-49 get their news from the Daily Show.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with these shows, a quick summary: The Daily Show with John Stewart began in 1999, is the second longest-running program on Comedy Central, has won 18 Primetime Emmy Awards and inspired spin-off The Colbert Report in 2005, which aired its last episode in mid-December 2014 and whose host, Stephen Colbert, will replace David Letterman as host of the Late Show this year. 

Despite any controversial opinions about Stewart or Colbert, I have come to admire them both for their courage to say what others won't, how they handle criticism, sticking to their values, ability to be serious when necessary, and the truth they convey without trying to sugarcoat it. And in watching these shows regularly, I've found myself more genuinely interested in national affairs, politics, current events, etc. and often continue research on certain topics. But, my days just aren't the same unless they're begun with a laugh in the morning when I watch the previous night's episode.

If you’re a regular reader of this paper, you’re probably familiar with “Looking Back,” a section compiled of news from 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago around this time. A few months ago I took on the responsibility, and I have to say, I love reading newspapers from the past. It’s so fascinating to read about the things that happened then and how much has changed in the last century, and seeing what was published in 1915 or 1940 or any other point in the past is about the closest you can get to actually being there (depending on your imagination, I suppose).

I could go into detail, but I won’t – I will say, though, that anyone who might have complaints regarding the way media portrays news ought to look at an article from the early half of the 20th century. Back then, they were very direct and blunt with reporting, and the freedom of speech was respected without question – after all, at one point newspapers were one of the only means of sharing reliable information to a combined audience.

Now, newspapers are no longer a primary source of information – some say they’re becoming obsolete (although I’m inclined to disagree), since the Internet is the quickest and easiest way to share news. But is it fair to disregard a business that’s been around for hundreds of years? That’s another topic for another day.

Until next week – wishing everyone good health and patience as we slowly get through another cold winter. Thanks for reading!

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