October 2011


Prairie Fire Newspaper went on hiatus after the publication of the September 2015 issue. It may return one of these days but until then we will continue to host all of our archived content for your reading pleasure. Many of the articles have held up well over the years. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts, or an interest in helping return Prairie Fire to production. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and supporters - the quality of Prairie Fire was a reflection of how many people it touched (touches).


Yesterday’s high temp reading was in the 80s, which was appreciated. It proves the possibility of global warming can still be one of the many worries and fears of the future. Today will probably be another warm day. I’m writing this bit before 9 a.m. I still have a tight grip on my resolution never to predict the weather. The weather column I wrote for the Polk Progress reported what the weather had been. I never went out on a literary limb and predicted the next week’s weather.

Breast Cancer: Prevention and Early Detection: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Paul Nathenson, RN, ND

Prevention begins with recognizing the causation of chronic illness, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and respiratory illness. There are five controllable factors related to health and disease prevention and one uncontrollable factor, which is genetics. The five controllable factors include smoking status, nutrition, stress management, exercise and sleep. The first one is easy; it has been well documented and widely publicized that smoking cigarettes causes cancer—not just lung cancer but breast cancer, cervical cancer and a variety of other carcinomas. It should be clear by now that you shouldn’t smoke and that you should avoid second-hand smoke, which has been thought by some to be more dangerous that the act of smoking.

Congress Beats the Average (in the Stock Market, That Is)

Illustration by Paul Fell

By Gerry Finnegan

In an academic study published earlier this year, several scholars using advanced statistical techniques tested for and found abnormally high investment returns from common stock trading by members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The study involved over 300 members of Congress (and family members) and encompassed over 16,000 transactions between the 99th and 107th Congresses (1985–2001). All of this study’s data was gleaned from each congressperson’s Financial Disclosure Report (FDR).

Fiber Art Blooms at Lauritzen Gardens

Quilt of Valor, 2011, a pinwheel pattern. (Dorothy Tuma)

By Suzanne Smith Arney

Plants and art have intertwined throughout history, all over the world; it’s a natural and ancient marriage. Earliest people, whose lives were dominated by the rigors of survival, still required the beauty, expressive potential and inspiration found in nature’s colors and textures. Dye recipes and references have been written in Sumerian cuneiform and Chinese characters; they’re found on Egyptian papyri, in the Hebrew Bible and Indian texts, all predating the Common Era. Colorful cave paintings date from 15,000 BCE. Basket making dates from about 10,000 BCE; Swiss Lake Dwellers and Peruvians were skilled weavers by 5,000 BCE and the very earliest quilted textiles have been found in Mongolian tombs.

Book Review: "Let's Be Reasonable" by Joel Sartore

Review by Tyler Sutton

“Let’s Be Reasonable”
Author: Joel Sartore
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Joel Sartore’s latest book, “Let’s Be Reasonable,” is a clever collection of essays he wrote mainly for the television show “CBS Sunday Morning,” is illustrated with his photographs, many of which were taken while on assignment for National Geographic Magazine over a 20-year career.

The Book Becomes the Play: Ted Kooser's 'Local Wonders' and Its Journey to a Play with Music

By Virginia Smith

It’s interesting how we develop and grow our personal interests and how, as a result, they turn around and guide us in sometimes unexpected ways. I grew up in northern Minnesota, spent time in Wisconsin, Indiana and 16 years in Chicago before I moved to Nebraska. Among other things, I have developed lasting interests in the place that I’m living and, more specifically, the people who inhabit that place with me. I have also developed a keen appreciation for a good eye, the careful observation and a well-calculated conclusion.

Quilt Making, An American Pastime

By Eleanor Burns

Through the years we have seen fads and trends come and go. Remember tie-dyed T-shirts, macramé plant hangers, tole painting, cross-stitch/embroidery, memory crafts and so many more? Did you know that through the years, the art of quilting has never died? It has never been a fad or a trend. It is as fresh and new as when your grandmothers and great-grandmothers stitched beautiful heirlooms to be passed down through the family for generations.

Keith County, Nebraska: An Introduction

By John Janovy Jr.

The Cedar Point Biological Station (CPBS) is a University of Nebraska mini-campus located eight miles north of Ogallala, with 30 or more buildings nestled in the canyons along the south shore of Lake Keystone, below Kingsley Dam, and offering a variety of classes. I was sitting in the CPBS dining hall recently, discussing a colleague’s potential field trip to Estes Park.

Safari, Namibian Style: Nebraskans Search for Conservation Models in Africa

By Teresa Franta

This August I traveled as part of a group with the Lincoln, Neb.-based nonprofit Grassland Foundation to the African country Namibia. For the past few years our organization has been studying Namibian land-use models because they have revived wildlife populations on a large scale. Since we see similarities between the landscapes of Namibia and the Nebraska Sandhills, we decided to visit Namibia and look for ideas that we could bring home.

Invasive Species Update

By Karie Decker

The land, water and other natural resources in Nebraska are being impacted by an increasing number of invasive species. For example, there are approximately 500 non-native plants in Nebraska. Many have no documented negative impact, but others are quite damaging. Dr. David Pimentel and colleagues estimate that there are over 50,000 plant, animal and microbe invasive species in the United States. They estimate that we are spending more than $120 billion dollars annually dealing with problems caused by invasive species. Globally, $1.4 trillion dollars is spent on invasive species each year: this is nearly 5 percent of the global economy. Thus, from an economic standpoint, invasive species are certainly a cause for concern. The ecological and environmental impacts of invasive species are much more difficult to quantify, but in Nebraska invasive species are the most commonly identified threat to our natural legacy, as identified in the Nebraska Legacy Plan.

Immigration in Nebraska

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