Ken Smith

Michiana Chronicler

Ken Smith writes about algebra, bikes, con artists, donuts, exercise, failure to exercise, grandparents, harmonica, introverts, jury duty, kings of long ago, Lipitor, meteors, night fishing, Olympic athletes, peace and quiet, rattlesnakes, silly sex education, Twitter, unpaid debts to our fellow human beings, the velocity of an unladen swallow, World War II, extroverts, Young People of Today, and the South Bend Zoo.

The Shepherd's Life

Jul 3, 2015
Published here by permission of the photographer.

You read a book about what? You’re recommending a book about what? That’s the reaction I’ve been getting from people, and I can’t blame them. There are sheep on the book’s cover, after all. What does that have to do with our life? Shepherds on harsh yet beautiful mountain farms in a far corner of a distant country?

Justin Solomon (@JSolomonCNBC)

In the movie State and Main actor Alec Baldwin plays an eratic and irresponsible fellow who at one point manages to get his station wagon airborne on the streets of a small town. When he emerges from the wreckage he laughs nervously and blurts out just three words: “So that happened.”

Two Women on Their Way

Feb 27, 2015

The youngest member of our family will graduate from high school in a few weeks. On Tuesday we wandered the maze-like corridors of the neighborhood school for our very last set of parent-teacher conferences. We said our farewells to beloved faculty members and to the rows of brightly-colored lockers and to the just-a-little-dusty trophy cases and framed and fading photographs of the valedictorians of 1962 and 63 and 64. The cunningly tedious FAFSA financial aid report will put its dagger deep into the heart of our weekend.

The Internet Troll

Jan 2, 2015

Who doesn’t remember the cruelty of little children? In my grade school there was a boy with a single discolored front tooth. At our bathroom break, if he got to the water fountain first, none of the other children would drink there. Nobody spoke to him about it, but Sister Paulette must have noticed many of her fourth graders heading back to the study of Saudi Arabia unquenched.

Days of Remembrance

Nov 14, 2014

Combat veterans are a famously reticent bunch. Some of them won’t tell their stories to just anyone, and some won’t tell their stories at all. And in the stories they do tell, you have to listen for clues because they have witnessed things that nobody can fully tell another person. A friend of mine who served in the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II shared just a few episodes.

A Visit with Mom

Sep 19, 2014

It was a low-key weekend back at my mother’s house in St. Louis. I cleared my work schedule and drove across Illinois on Thursday, accepting the boredom of the interstate highway in exchange for its efficiency. At least they’ve added a couple of wind farms in recent years, and standing above the bean and corn fields those white towers and the slow waving of those great white blades make the sky seem alive in a new way. I crossed the Mississippi River on the north side of St.

The Wind Storm

Jul 25, 2014

For a couple of weeks we had a fool-proof conversation starter around the neighborhood:  “How’d you do in the storm?” The storm being the July 1st just after midnight blast of wind and rain that knocked stout branches out of grand old trees and brought them down on parked cars and utility lines and garages and the roofs of houses. So, how’d you do in the storm? We were pretty lucky.

Designing a Book

Jun 13, 2014

You can hardly find a college campus these days without its share of courses in creative writing. Novelists and poets instruct their artful students in the long history of literature and in its latest innovations. Guest writers give public readings in the evening to enthusiastic audiences. People line up at the end to buy books and have them signed by the very writer who composed them. The participants plainly think that something valuable, perhaps even magical, is going on.

Crackpot Notions

Apr 25, 2014

Now that the sidewalks have cleared and like a happy cat the days are stretching into evening I find myself once again taking walks. For me as an introvert long walks are perfect for flicking off the cares of the day and musing on various crackpot notions. I wave to neighbors and get back to fine-tuning my crackpot theory about the American presidency, which goes like this: