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Monday
Apr242017

1990 newlyweds (Susan & me) appear on national radio show

Audio of old radio public radio shows has recently been posted, allowing Susan and me to hear ourselves on Michael Feldman's "Whad'ya Know?" national public radio show during our honeymoon, just a week and a day after our 1990 wedding.

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Saturday
Jul232016

Is it art? ‘Painting’ of beloved house created easily with iPhone app raises question

Can a "painting" of a beloved childhood home created with the simple tap on an iPhone really be considered art?

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Monday
Aug052013

Eulogy for Dad, Chuck Plank: 1937-2013

Dad never seemed to know how to be pessimistic in the face of keeping a farm machine dealership in business during the farm crises of the 70s and 80s or in the face of a cancer diagnosis in May. He died July 24. My eulogy for Dad: Chuck Plank, 1937-2013

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Tuesday
Jan152013

Twenty years later: Taking pride in our newspaper's tribute to a fallen hero

When my old friend and newspaper colleague called to remind me of a special section we did 20 years ago in tribute to the life of fallen basketball star Chris Street, it brought back memories and made me realize, all these years later, what a great thing we did. And though it was a great section, the paper itself didn't have one anymore. Fortunately, I did.

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Tuesday
Oct022012

Are you now or have you ever been a columnist? (Yes, sir, I was ... but it was a long time ago)

A poem on farm market reports, thoughts on the use of profanity as a productivity tool, pondering generational labels, and trying to figure out why birds were trying to kill me. These were a few topics of a weekly column I wrote for just over five years. Though I wrote upwards of 250 of them, I mercifully only share (or inflict upon you) 20 of the columns here and reflect back—way back—to the days when I wrote them.

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Tuesday
Sep112012

Reclaiming September 11 as a normal day: Calling event “9/11” has unfairly besmirched a date that happens to be my birthday

On this, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, I want to begin the process to reclaim the day of September 11 as a normal day again.

Don’t get me wrong. What happened that day in 2001 was terrible and should not be forgotten or downplayed. I would just prefer that what happened not be so firmly attached to and defined by the date it happened. It is almost as if the numbers that make up the date themselves have become evil. It is almost as if the numbers 9/11 have replaced in our mind the horrible events of the day. It is almost as if it was the numbers themselves that did it to us.

 

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Monday
Jun182012

Joy & frustration (mostly frustration) in upgrading Apple Macs to Lion, iCloud

Updated on Monday, June 18, 2012 at 09:00PM by Registered CommenterShawn Plank

Updated on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 10:20AM by Registered CommenterShawn Plank

Updated on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 09:53PM by Registered CommenterShawn Plank

As a June 30 deadline nears to update my Apple Macs to Lion and iCloud, I've spent hours converting old files to make sure they will still be accessible in the modern system—many would not have been if not for my intervention. This has provided me great opportunity to relive the past, but it's largely been a frustrating and confusing time that could have been spent doing just about anything else. If computers can be made easier to use, why can't they be made more easily backwards compatible?

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Wednesday
Jan122011

Compiling songs about Iowa — not ‘Ioway’

A collection of songs by and about the people (not the folks) of Iowa (not Ioway).

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Friday
Jun042010

My brother: Andy Plank, 1969-2010

My brother Andy died of ALS May 29 at his home in North Liberty, Iowa, after fighting the disease nearly five years. He was 40 and left behind his wife, Susan, and their two sons, Zac, 10, and Brennan, 7. What follows are two things. First, my thoughts about writing a eulogy for Andy and second, the eulogy itself that I gave at his funeral service, June 2:

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Friday
Jul032009

Grandpa's Hills

This is my eulogy to my maternal grandfather, Gerald Scotton, who died Sunday, June 28, 2009, at the age of 96. He farmed near Northboro, Iowa, nearly all his life. In 2001, he moved to a care center in nearby Shenandoah and in 2007, he moved to a care center in Columbus Junction to be closer to his daughter, my mom.

His funeral was at the Northboro United Methodist Church on July 1. I read the eulogy as an introduction to a song I sang and played on guitar:

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