| Monday, November 10, 2008

Think what you will about the election. I think this is pretty cool.


| Wednesday, October 1, 2008

“Some will feel very virtuous about having voted against Wall Street and then turn around and find their constituents, generally, paid a huge price for that vote."

Senator Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah


| Saturday, September 13, 2008

PTA 0318


| Saturday, September 6, 2008

PTA 0313

Snow White


PTA S 0040

Comin' Through!

| Friday, September 5, 2008

08 RC 19s Final 094


| Thursday, August 28, 2008

08 RC 11s gm3 075

Want it


08 RC 19s gm3 068


| Saturday, August 23, 2008

08 RC 11s gm1 001

On a sunny day.

| Monday, August 11, 2008

08 RC 19s gm1011

08 RC 19s gm1020

Those cats were fast as lightning.

| Saturday, August 9, 2008

08 ML 0625 053

No Chance


08 ML 0625 046



08 ML 0625 021

080618 mens league 146


| Friday, August 8, 2008

PTA S 0010

Funny Kid


PTA 0526

I spent a week in Newark one day.

| Thursday, July 17, 2008

08PTA 0008

08PTA 0012

Celebrating Independence



| Tuesday, July 15, 2008


| Friday, April 25, 2008

A neat slice of backstage Papal life (and a Seder!).

I’m green enough to grow compost

| Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Spectator
Jeremiah M. Murphy

Another St. Patrick’s Day has passed with me wearing colors not green. I’m a “wearin’ o’ the green” grinch.

I can’t say why exactly. I guess I’m so Irish, I figure the actual green attire might be too much.

That’s a rare case of restraint - usually for me, more is better.

Take compost for example: I’ve had a compost pile since the spring of 1994. Every spring I’ve been sober I’ve composted.

If you look up compost in the dictionary you’ll see the noun defined as a mixture of decaying organic matter. The verb is defined as putting materials together to make that mixture.

To me, composting goes much further than that – I compost to an end result that is not a mere mixture of decaying organic matter. It’s fully decayed organic matter. It’s dirt.

I compost used things – leaves, grass clippings, fruit rinds, and vegetable rinds into a useful thing.

Typically, I’m not much more “green” in life than I am on St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t spend any time worrying about the size of my carbon footprint. I burn fossil fuels at a high rate (see previous column re: traffic stops). But, I do like to compost. I like making dirt. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it produces a valuable product in which I can grow tomatoes.

Tomatoes are important because, if there were no tomatoes there would be no salsa and, if there was no salsa, we’d have corn chips backing up on us.

A week ago yesterday was Holy Saturday (Sabbatum Sanctum). Holy Saturday is the Lord's Day of rest, for on that day Christ's body lay in His tomb. So, of course, I was outside working.

We were preparing the house for Easter and that seemed like a good excuse to clean up my compost pile and vegetable garden.

I tore out last year’s growth from the garden and worked it into the compost pile as visions of heirloom tomatoes danced in my head.

I favor heirloom tomatoes. These are old, old varieties of tomatoes that have not been cross-bred. They are not hybrids.

Most hybrid tomatoes have been designed to be uniform in color, skin thickness, disease resistance, and growing time – traits that serve commercial tomato producers.

Conversely, the key trait in heirloom tomatoes is flavor. Flavor at the expense of uniformity.

I’m stepping into Cathie Draine’s territory a bit here. But, I think Cathie would agree – No tomatoes are tastier than heirloom tomatoes.

Of all the heirloom tomatoes, I really like the Brandywine variety. Brandywines are great, lumpy, purplish brutes that are the tastiest (and, arguably, the ugliest) of the heirloom tomato lot.

Extreme tomatoes, but wonderfully so.

My affinity for certain vegetables doesn’t come at the expense of meat. I love red meat. To paraphrase the comedian Jim Gaffigan, I don’t know what they do to that stuff when they process it. But, it is DELICIOUS!

One of our number here at Murphyland doesn’t eat meat.

Well, she eats meat if it’s from a creature that swims. But, she won’t eat meat from creatures that walk or fly.

Chicken of the Sea – yes. Chicken of the barnyard – no.

Except . . . except in certain conditions.

She will eat pheasant if it came from the wild.

That is, she will not eat meat that was processed or inspected by professionals at a licensed processing facility. But, she will eat pheasant that was shot and fell to earth in a dung-covered pasture before it was processed by her husband and his buddy with a kitchen knife and a pair of tin snips out in the alley.

Because that’s natural.

Maybe. Unless you’re the pheasant. Not so natural to him.

I didn’t partake in the wearin’ o’ the green this spring. But, this summer I will be doing the mowin’ o’ the green to provide grass clippings for the turnin’ o’ the compost pile to nurture the tomato garden to supply the salsa for the dippin’ o’ the chips while we do the grillin’ o’ the steaks (and fish).

Jeremiah M. Murphy lives in Rapid City. Contact him at

(Edited version of a column originally published in the March 30th, 2008 Rapid City Journal)

‘Why’ questions offer opportunity for verbal judo

| Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Spectator
Jeremiah M. Murphy




“Because why?”

“Because I said so.”

“Why do you get to say so?”

“Because I’m your father.”


“Because, long ago, before you were born, I fell in love with your mother.”


“Ha! Gotcha!”

I don’t answer “why” questions from my kids anymore.

I’ll answer “who” questions, “what” questions, “where” questions, “when” questions, and “how” questions (I love “how” questions!). But I will not answer “why” questions.

“Why?” you ask.

I shouldn’t answer that. But, okay, just this once.

I don’t answer “why” questions because, unlike Snickers, no answer to a “why” question satisfies.

I cannot remember a time (when I would answer a Murphy kid’s “why” question) when my answer to a “why” question would result in said kid replying “Oh! Okay!”

Rather, “why” questions only beget more “why” questions (see above).

It’s fruitless. If you’re a kid, it’s great entertainment. If you’re a parent, not so much.

The police are big on “why” questions. I try not to answer those either.

Police ask questions like: “Do you know why I stopped you?”

Now, that’s a loaded “why” question.

If I answer “Because I was speeding,” or “Because I rolled through the stop sign back there like it was a yield sign,” I’m done. Case closed. It’s off to the hoosegow with me.

But, if I answer “I don’t know.” I’m just lying - and that’s no good.

I don’t want to give the impression I spend a lot of time producing my license, registration, and proof of insurance for police. But, I’ve been stopped a few times. And believe me; I pretty much always know why I’m being stopped.

Once I tried not answering a policeman’s question.

Several years ago I was driving through construction on 5th Street. I wanted to make a left turn at St. Joe. But, a sign said “No Left Turn”. No one was coming from either direction. So, I turned left.

Moments later I was serenaded by a motorcycle patrolman’s siren.

“Did you see the ‘No Left Turn’ sign?” he asked.

I had two choices – tell the truth and effectively write myself a ticket, or lie and have that nagging at me.

But, instead, I went with door number “C”. I said nothing. I just looked at him.

He repeated his question. I repeated my dumb look.

“Did you hear me?” he asked. “Yes.” I answered.

“So, why don’t you answer my question?”

“I’m just not going to answer that question. Ticket me if you have to, but I’m not going to answer that question.

He was not pleased. He was really not pleased. He really let me know he was really not pleased. But, for whatever reason, he didn’t give me a ticket. He gave me a warning instead.

Weird, but effective.

Now, more and more police are using a technique called “verbal judo” to better communicate with miscreants like me. An element of verbal judo is to avoid questions like “Do you know why I stopped you?” or “Didn’t you see that sign?” - Questions that hinder rather than enhance communication during traffic stops.

I received a verbal judo chop one recent evening while driving down West Boulevard. For some reason stop signs are popping up on the boulevard like tulips in spring. On the evening in question, I may have rolled past one of those new stop signs without stopping.

My alleged error was pointed out to me by a Rapid City police officer. He didn’t ask me to guess why he had stopped me. No, he told me his name and he told me that he stopped me because I didn’t stop at the stop sign.


I was tempted to ask him why the city has erected a picket fence of stop signs up and down the boulevard. Why do cross streets that produce about 1/500th of the traffic that travels West Boulevard now have four way stops?

But, the kids were with me and it would have set a bad example.

Happily, Chloe and Dylan weren’t asking me “why” questions just then.

Unhappily, they were giving me advice. “You should have stopped back there.” Dylan told me.

Why would he say something like that?

Jeremiah M. Murphy lives in Rapid City. Contact him at

(Originally published in the March 9th, 2008 Rapid City Journal)

Building A Religion

| Friday, March 7, 2008

Scenes From The Hard Bench Caucus

| Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mom’s sacrifices carry on tradition

| Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Spectator
Jeremiah M. Murphy

“Hey Dad, it’s Hunter. The ski patrol here at Terry thinks we should have Dylan’s arm X-rayed. It’s kind of swollen.”

“Kind of swollen?”

“Yeah, he had a pretty good wreck on his snowboard.”

This call from our oldest son regarding our youngest son came a few weeks ago.

“Kind of swollen” translated into broken radius and chipped ulna.

At the emergency room that night, Dylan’s fingers were pinched into a medieval device and the fracture in his radius was “reduced”. Dylan’s arm is healing in the shape it was before he fell off a straight box while attempting a front side board slide. (I have no idea what that means – Dylan dictated the terms to me. I’m trying to appeal to a younger demographic.)

Dylan’s break reminded me of a voicemail I received six years ago this month –

“Hi Dad, it’s Chloe. I broke my arm today. I love you! Bye!”

That was from our then six year old daughter on the first night of my first session as a lobbyist in Pierre. Chloe had broken her arm at the school playground that day.

My wife Kaia had agreed to do the work of two parents while I spent two months of Mondays to Fridays in Pierre as a contract lobbyist. Three kids aged five, six, and thirteen added up to a lot of work. With one of those three in a cast – the work multiplied.

But Kaia handled it. She handled it with love, compassion, humor, and patience.

In succeeding years Kaia’s handled a lot, on her own, while I’ve been gone.

In seven sessions she’s handled the ER visits, doctor visits, nursing, bathing, and shirt-buttoning required of four broken arms. Three of those arms were broken while the kids were snowboarding (I suspect snowboarding was invented primarily as an economic development tool for orthopedic doctors.).

She’s also handled colds, homework, indoor soccer, tantrums, basketball, flu, piano, gymnastics, fights, violin, sick cats, broken pipes, and broken arms (did I mention broken arms?).

Kaia is the third generation of women so good they will support Murphy’s in the business of lobbying – Murphy’s who decamp to Pierre for two months each year to ply our trade in the House and Senate lobbies.

There wouldn’t have been any Murphy’s registered to lobby if it weren’t for three other names – McCue, Foye, and Anderson.

Beginning in 1933 my Grandmother, Merle (McCue) Murphy, sacrificed so my Grandfather could go to Pierre and lobby.

Things were different then – the trip by car to Pierre was made on narrow 1933 roads in 1933 (or older) cars. When my Dad visited his Dad in Pierre, it took two trains to complete the trip from Sioux Falls. But, one parent parenting four kids was just as tough as it is today.

Starting in 1959 my Mom, Mary Jean (Foye) Murphy, sacrificed so my Dad could go to Pierre and lobby.

Some things had changed – 1930’s cars and roads and passenger trains had been replaced by airline travel. But, the legislature still met for two months each session and one parent caring for three kids was just as demanding as ever.

Since 2002 my wife, Kaia (Anderson) Murphy, has sacrificed so I could go to Pierre and lobby.

Technology has advanced bringing faxes, cel phones, and laptop PCs to Pierre. But eight weeks of being the single parent of three kids is every bit as challenging for Kaia as it was for my Mom and for my Grandmother.

Mom’s kids are grown up and our kids have grown older so it’s easier in those homes than it was seven years ago or forty seven years ago. But, easier doesn’t mean easy. Mom and Kaia are still making the family sacrifices necessary when one partner wants to pursue a career in lobbying half way across the state.

Now Dylan has a neon orange cast on his arm. He’ll have that for a few more weeks. That means doctor appointments added to his Mom’s already full schedule.

Lucky for our family, Kaia’s willing to make that sacrifice while I’m in Pierre.

And, despite her overfull schedule, she still has time to think of me.

Why, just the other night, she suggested I try snowboarding.

Jeremiah M. Murphy lives in Rapid City. Contact him at

(Originally published in the February 3rd, 2008 Rapid City Journal)

Moon Over St. Martins

| Saturday, January 26, 2008

Near Kunkle Flat


Bloggers with shotguns, oh my!

| Friday, January 18, 2008

The Spectator
Jeremiah M. Murphy

“When you have shot one bird flying you have shot all birds flying. They are all different and they fly in different ways but the sensation is the same and the last one is as good as the first.”

Ernest Hemingway wrote that.

I think he got it right. I remember the first pheasant I shot and I remember the last, and I can’t tell the difference between the two. The anticipation, the thrill when a rooster flushes, making the shot, seeing the bird fold – for me, that’s every successful shot I’ve ever made. It’s an experience that doesn’t diminish with repetition.

The Sunday after this past Thanksgiving I was invited to hunt with a group of South Dakota bloggers and folks, like me, who comment on South Dakota blogs

This was quite a collection of hunters. The invited bloggers and commenters split, ideologically, very sharply between left and right. They then split further along various fault lines into several minor factions.

In the sometimes oxygen-deprived world that is the South Dakota “blogosphere”, comments and blog items among and between these folks are often pointed. Debate can be intense; name-calling can be creative and harsh; and feuds are fairly common.

So, what happens when you bring a bunch of verbal warriors together and arm them with shotguns?

They have a great time, that’s what happens. They get along just fine. To paraphrase the prophet Isaiah, “The bloggers hammered their keyboards into shotguns and their mice into shotgun shells. Blogger did not lift up keyboard against blogger . . . “

Thanks to the outstanding generosity of Nick and Mary Jo Nemec, we had land to walk and great food to eat.

That was the scene at what Todd Epp labeled the “Treaty of Holabird” hunt.

That’s not to say the group was quiet, we kept up a non-stop banter. But it was lighthearted compared to the back and forth often seen on the blogs.

Within that lively conversational whirl, there was still the matter of hunting.

Driving east that morning I had lowered my expectations to match the lateness of the season. I guessed there wouldn’t be too many birds. I’m not a great shot. Instead I anticipated and looked forward to the walking, the fresh air, and the company.

However, once we were in the fields, it was a different story.

As I walked a thin plowed strip with Kevin Woster, a bird got up a distance in front of us. He was flying fast, low, and away. I really didn’t have much of a shot but I took a shot anyway - no luck.

But, that rooster and that shot turned my day from a walk in the fields into a hunt. After that, I was all ears and eyes. I was Elmer Fudd. I was primed, I was ready. I was gonna get the wabbit (or, in this case, the pheasant).

Soon another rooster got up. This one was different from the first – a much better prospect. He flushed nice and slow with his body turned to present the best target. I slid off my safety as I raised my gun, and . . . “BANG!” . . . I heard Woster’s gun bark as Kevin nailed the bird.

Okay, maybe I was not so primed and ready as I imagined.

We worked our way from field to tree line to creek bed to bluff to field that afternoon. I had a few shots over the next couple hours but most of those birds were so high it was difficult to say if they were pheasants or the 2:42 flight out of Pierre. But still, I was hunting, and loving it

Then, late in the afternoon, another rooster flushed right in front of me and, as Woster was a ways away, I got him (the pheasant). Before I could collect that bird, a second rooster got up behind me and I had more good luck.

Hemmingway had it right - a successful shot, no matter the circumstances, is a common and welcome experience. Same goes for the company of good folks. By those standards, the “Treaty of Holabird” hunt was as good as hunting gets.

Jeremiah M. Murphy lives in Rapid City. Contact him at

(Originally published in the January 13th, 2008 Rapid City Journal)