The Good Life – November-December 2016

Featuring Christopher Zimmerman - Conductor of the FM Symphony, Mr. Full-Time Dad, Local Heroes - Fargo Police Community Trust Officers and more in Fargo Moorhead's only men's magazine.

Featuring Christopher Zimmerman - Conductor of the FM Symphony, Mr. Full-Time Dad, Local Heroes - Fargo Police Community Trust Officers and more in Fargo Moorhead's only men's magazine.


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Ahh, Thanksgiving. A time when<br />

families gather into confined spaces<br />

and around overcrowded dining room<br />

tables to stuff their faces, give thanks<br />

and air their grievances about politics<br />

and their employers. It’s dinner and a<br />

show, and you don’t even have to tip.<br />

Two weeks after the most ridiculous<br />

presidential election we might ever<br />

see, this Thanksgiving promises<br />

to be particularly enjoyable. I’m<br />

already thankful for the prodding and<br />

mocking that will grow less subtle as<br />

the day drags on... and the punch bowl<br />

dries up.<br />

Aside from the passive-aggressive<br />

Midwestern political dinner theater,<br />

I’m also thankful for several very<br />

specific reasons. As a stay-athome<br />

dad, I’ve developed a serious<br />

appreciation for things that I either<br />

used to take for granted or otherwise<br />

completely overlooked. It’s a running<br />

total, but here’s the list (as it stands<br />

right now):<br />

<strong>The</strong> enduring legacy of stereotypical<br />

gender roles.<br />

2 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com<br />

I’m no sexist, but I sure am thankful<br />

for the slow pace of gender equality<br />

when three hours into a five-hour road<br />

trip I pull the family station wagon<br />

into a rest stop and find that only the<br />

women’s restroom is equipped with a<br />

baby changing station. It’s a small gift,<br />

but as I sit in the blissful silence of the<br />

men’s room (while my wife tends to<br />

our son), I give thanks for the poopy<br />

diaper pardon this unjust world has<br />

bestowed upon me.<br />

Drop-in daycare at the gym.<br />

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me,<br />

but I’m in the best shape of my adult<br />

life… and I owe it all to being a stayat-home<br />

dad with a gym membership.<br />

For two hours a day—almost every<br />

day—I get to drop Macklin off to play<br />

with kids his own age under the care<br />

of the best staff I’ve ever dealt with.<br />

It’s a beautiful arrangement: Mack<br />

cheers when I drop him off, I go<br />

admire myself in the mirror while I<br />

do some curls, and then I come back<br />

to a well-fed, even more cheerful kid.<br />

Thank you gym. Don’t ever leave me.<br />

Brilliant bibs.<br />

One of my daily goals is to keep<br />

Macklin in the same outfit throughout<br />

the entire day. It’s not as easy as it<br />

sounds, considering his lack of fine<br />

motor skills and his relentless need to<br />

eat. Nonetheless, I’m successful most<br />

days thanks to… and I can’t believe I’m<br />

saying this… IKEA. It may be my least<br />

favorite place in the world—seriously,<br />

it’s a human ant farm—but, damn if<br />

those Swedes don’t know they’re way<br />

around a bib. All the way around. To<br />

give you a visual, imagine putting on<br />

a rain jacket backwards. With one of<br />

these full-sleeve, straight-jacket-esque<br />

IKEA bibs, you could wear your (or<br />

your wife’s) wedding dress, eat a pile<br />

of runny spaghetti with your bare<br />

hands and walk away spotless.<br />

Liquid ibuprofen.<br />

Drugs are bad, kids. But drugs for<br />

kids are great. When Mack’s gums are<br />

getting shredded by two blunt molars<br />

and a prison shank-worthy incisor (all<br />

at once), I can’t leap off my “Down<br />

with Big Pharma” soapbox fast<br />

enough. And if you think that makes<br />

me a bad parent, come over and let<br />

me stab you in the mouth with a<br />

handful of toothpicks while you try to<br />

take a nap, then we’ll talk… if you can.<br />

<strong>The</strong> family zoo membership.<br />

Economically speaking, our family<br />

membership to the zoo has been<br />

the best $65 we’ve ever spent. It’s<br />

a built-in outing whenever we want<br />

(or need) it. <strong>The</strong>re’s food, animals, a<br />

playground and sunshine. Plus, that<br />

single membership has gotten us into<br />

other zoos and aquariums around the<br />

country for free, and free anything is<br />

my favorite.<br />

Restaurants. All of them.<br />

Family dinners that require no cleanup...<br />

enough said.

Three-hour naps.<br />

Unfortunately, Mack’s epic three-hour naps are<br />

becoming a thing of the past, but they were great<br />

while they lasted. Not only would he wake up<br />

refreshed and singing to himself in his crib, I’d get<br />

a ton of work done while he snoozed… usually with<br />

enough time for a quick nap of my own. (Yes, you<br />

should be jealous.)<br />

Never having to set an alarm clock.<br />

<strong>The</strong> worst part about having a regular job is being a<br />

slave to the alarm clock and other people’s arbitrary<br />

schedules. True, Mack’s schedule can go from<br />

predictable to bonkers without explanation, but he’s a<br />

baby. It makes sense for him to act childish. It makes<br />

no sense, however, for an adult to throw a fit and<br />

demand a team meeting at 4 p.m. on a Friday. As a<br />

stay-at-home dad with an above-average happy child,<br />

I’m incredibly thankful for the ability to take each day<br />

as it comes without worry of deadlines or alarms…<br />

and I’ve got the blood pressure to prove it.<br />

Bathtime resets.<br />

Bathtime gets a bum rap for reasons I don’t<br />

understand. Macklin loves them, and they’ve proven to<br />

be a reliable reset button whenever we’ve mistakenly<br />

hopped onto the struggle bus and missed our stop.<br />

Just the sound of the tub filling up is enough to turn<br />

his cries into giggles.<br />

Buckles.<br />

Hear this: buckles save lives. I had no idea. Buckles<br />

on car seats, strollers, high chairs, booster seats and<br />

changing tables save lives every day in this country.<br />

My home is brain injury free thanks to buckles.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y’re the last line of defense against a baby case of<br />

CTE. I mean, I can’t be expected to watch him all the<br />

time, right? That reminds me… I’m also thankful for<br />

low expectations. Happy Thanksgiving! •<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 3

<strong>The</strong><br />




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Dawn Siewert<br />

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Darren Losee<br />

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Jessica Ballou<br />

Meghan Feir<br />

Alexandra Floersch<br />

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Krissy Ness<br />


Darren Losee / 701-261-9139<br />

darren@urbantoadmedia.com<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Men’s Magazine is<br />

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<strong>Life</strong> Men’s Magazine accepts no liability<br />

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content in this publication. <strong>The</strong> opinions<br />

expressed, or advice given, are the views of<br />

individual writers or advertisers and do not<br />

necessarily represent the views or policies<br />

of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Men’s Magazine.<br />

4 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

Contents<br />

VOLUME 4 • ISSUE 3<br />

NOV-DEC <strong>2016</strong><br />

18<br />




FM Symphony<br />

02<br />


10 Things This Stay-at-Home Dad<br />

is Thankful For<br />

06<br />


Non-Profit Helps Troops Get New Homes<br />

10<br />


Dom Izzo - WDAY Sports Director<br />

14<br />

26<br />


Ryan Mauk - Storm Chaser<br />


In Six Easy Steps<br />

30<br />





Go Beyond the Badge<br />


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TWEET<br />

@urbantoadmedia<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 5

6 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com<br />


Homes for our Troops (HFOT) is a<br />

non-profit that helps build mortgage<br />

free, specially adapted homes<br />

nationwide for severely injured<br />

veterans post-9/11 to help them<br />

rebuild their lives.<br />

HFOT provides pre and post<br />

home delivery, financial planning,<br />

household budgeting, home<br />

ownership education and a fullyear<br />

warranty coverage to ensure<br />

the veteran is set up for long-term<br />

success as a homeowner. Since<br />

HFOT’s founding in 2004, nearly<br />

90 cents out of every dollar donated<br />

to HFOT has gone directly to<br />

the program services supporting<br />

veterans.<br />

HFOT assists the most severely<br />

injured service members of all<br />

branches of the military who were<br />

injured in the Iraq-Afghanistan war<br />

since Sept. 11, 2001. HFOT builds<br />

four-bedroom, two-bath, specially<br />

adapted energy-efficient homes of<br />

approximately 2,650 square feet<br />

with more than 40 major special<br />

adaptations to give the veteran full<br />

access, including wider halls and<br />

doorways, automatic door openers,<br />

pull-down shelving and much more.<br />

HFOT aims to build the highest<br />

quality homes using top quality<br />

products that endure the test of<br />

time from brands like Kohler,<br />

Whirlpool, etc. All homes are built to<br />

Energy Star standards to maximize<br />

efficiency and lower utility expense,<br />

and they look for builders with a<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 7

track record of high quality workmanship to reduce<br />

maintenance and expense to the veterans.<br />

<strong>The</strong> nationwide average cost for HFOT to build one<br />

specially adapted home is $430,000. <strong>The</strong>se homes can<br />

help veterans launch a new career or business, start and/<br />

or grow families, maintain lifelong physical and mental<br />

wellness, complete education, and recover and rest in a<br />

safe, accessible home.<br />

“Myself and my family are<br />

so blessed and lucky.”<br />

<strong>–</strong> Master Sergeant<br />

Eric Marts<br />

<strong>The</strong> 18-24 month timeline for these projects involves<br />

about six to seven months for construction. <strong>The</strong> rest of<br />

that time is spent on land search and permitting. Veterans<br />

do not pay a fee toward the cost of the home, and there is<br />

no mortgage to be paid in the future. <strong>The</strong> veteran decides<br />

where he or she would like to live, considering proximity<br />

education. Since 2010, more than 90 babies have been<br />

born to parents in HFOT homes with more than 15 due as<br />

of February of this year.<br />

to family and medical centers, school systems, jobs and<br />

more. <strong>The</strong> HFOT land team locates and provides lots to<br />

the veteran, who makes the final selection.<br />

A veteran must be approved for the Specially Adapted<br />

Housing (SAH) benefits by the Veterans Administration.<br />

Benefits are awarded to veterans with severe physical<br />

injuries, including one or more amputations, full or partial<br />

paralysis or severe traumatic brain injury.<br />

HFOT requires the veteran to participate in a financial<br />

planning program with a pro bono financial planner<br />

for three years. <strong>The</strong>y also provide the veteran with<br />

information on property tax exemptions for which he or<br />

she may qualify.<br />

Sixty-six percent of HFOT home recipients have at least<br />

one child. Seventy-two percent say living mortgage free<br />

has allowed them to start or expand a family, and 50<br />

percent say it allows them to save for their children’s<br />

8 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com<br />

As of May 27 of this year, HFOT has built 213 specially<br />

adapted homes in 41 states nationwide. <strong>The</strong>re are<br />

currently more than 70 veterans on the active project list.<br />

For the fifth consecutive year, HFOT has been awarded<br />

a 4-star rating for sound fiscal management and<br />

commitment to accountability and transparency by Charity<br />

Navigator, America’s premier charity evaluator. HFOT<br />

hosts many fundraisers throughout the year, including<br />

silent auctions, conferences, golf tournaments, sporting<br />

events, races and much more.<br />

HFOT is privately funded. Almost 70 percent of the<br />

operational budget is generated by private and family<br />

foundations, individual donors and community fundraisers<br />

nationwide. As a non-profit, all contributions are tax<br />

deductible. To make a donation or for more information,<br />

visit www.hfotusa.org.<br />

Master Sergeant Eric Marts hosts a radio show for AM<br />

970 WDAY called Heroes of the Heartland. When doing<br />

research on issues troops were facing, he saw Homes for


Our Troops. He started looking into the organization,<br />

and he filled out an application. After going through<br />

a background check and other vetting processes,<br />

he was approved to be a part of the program, and<br />

construction is now underway for his new Moorhead<br />

home.<br />

“Myself and my family are so blessed and lucky,” he<br />

said.<br />

Since HFOT chooses a certain number of projects to<br />

work on each year, Marts said he feels so blessed to<br />

be chosen, saying it felt like winning the lottery.<br />

He’s most looking forward to more space and “having<br />

something that is our own with no wheels underneath<br />

it,” he said, as well as “the independence and the<br />

freedom it’ll offer me and the<br />

space to have our kids and<br />

grandkids to be over.”<br />

“I’m so lucky to be involved<br />

with Homes for our Troops,” he<br />

added. “<strong>The</strong>y really are a great<br />

organization with loving, caring<br />

people.” •<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 9


10 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

Dom Izzo isn’t from around here, but<br />

we’re certainly glad he’s a Fargoan<br />

now. <strong>The</strong> WDAY News sports director<br />

is an adventurous transplant from<br />

Oswego in western New York State,<br />

another city in which the temps drop<br />

and the snow piles up. He was willing<br />

to go wherever his career dared him<br />

to travel, and for 10 years, he’s let<br />

the Fargo-Moorhead area know all<br />

the highlights on high school, college<br />

and Minnesota Vikings updates.<br />

<strong>The</strong> New Yorker is half Italian and<br />

a full-blooded sports lover, and we<br />

were able to enjoy a glass of water at<br />

Drekker Brewing Co. in downtown<br />

Fargo, though that’s not what they’re<br />

typically known for around town.<br />

<strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong>: What’s one thing about<br />

yourself that you think people would<br />

be really surprised by?<br />

Dom Izzo: I drive with two feet.<br />

GL: Like, you steer the wheel with<br />

them?<br />

DI: I have my left foot for the break<br />

and my right for the gas, and I drive<br />

like a grandpa, which drives my fiancé<br />

nuts.<br />

GL: What does being a sports director<br />

require of you?<br />

DI: It’s not for everybody, this<br />

profession. It’s not like we’re curing<br />

cancer or sending people to the moon,<br />

but there are a lot of sacrifices. It’s<br />

weekends. It’s holidays. It’s nights. I’m<br />

on call almost all the time. As soon as<br />

I get up every day, I’m checking and<br />

reading stories to make sure I’m on<br />

top of everything. It’s not a 9-5 gig.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re’s a lot of grind and grit that<br />

goes into the three or four minutes I’m<br />

on each night. I do my own makeup.<br />

I write my own scripts. I shoot and<br />

edit my own video. And I’m glad I do.<br />

It keeps me in touch with all my skills<br />

and sharpens them.<br />

GL: If you could play any sport with a<br />

historical figure from the past, which<br />

sport would you choose, and with<br />

whom would you want to play?<br />

DI: Baseball because I grew up<br />

playing. It was my favorite sport, even<br />

though I wasn’t very good at it. And<br />

probably Lou Gehrig. He was such<br />

an unbelievable baseball player, but<br />

he was an unbelievable guy, too. He<br />

was totally overshadowed by Babe<br />

Ruth. Babe Ruth was setting every<br />

kind of record, and every newspaper<br />

guy wanted to follow what he was<br />

doing. Lou Gehrig is only known for<br />

two things: the number of games he<br />

played in a row and his death. I’m not<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 11

a go-out-and-party kind of guy, and<br />

neither was he. He worked hard.<br />

GL: What is one prank you can recall<br />

pulling on your younger sister?<br />

DI: My favorite team in the whole<br />

wide world is the New York Mets. I<br />

bleed blue and orange. <strong>The</strong>y’ve been<br />

my favorite since I was 5 years old. I<br />

don’t know why I remember this, but<br />

we were at my grandmother’s, and<br />

there was a taped broadcast of a Mets<br />

game on television from the previous<br />

day, which I had already seen. So I<br />

told my sister, “I bet you $5 the guy<br />

up hits a home run,” knowing full well<br />

he would. So, of course, the guy hit a<br />

home run, and I was like, “Hey, you<br />

gotta pay up!”<br />

GL: What is your heritage?<br />

DI: My mom is kind of convoluted. I<br />

think she’s German, for the most part.<br />

My dad’s side is completely Italian,<br />

which is fabulous when I go home.<br />

<strong>The</strong> eats when I get to go home…<br />

That’s no slight to the Italian joints<br />

in Fargo-Moorhead, but it’s nothing<br />

compared to anything back in upstate<br />

New York.<br />

GL: What are some habits or traits<br />

you acquired from your Italian side?<br />

DI: I think their flare for loudness.<br />

We talk with our hands. That’s the<br />

Italian way. I definitely do that, and I<br />

definitely have the loudness. <strong>The</strong>y’re<br />

very outspoken people, and I love and<br />

hate it about my family. <strong>The</strong>re’s no<br />

filter, but that’s a good thing. We wear<br />

our emotions on our sleeves, and I’m<br />

certainly like that. I have no poker<br />

face whatsoever. Could it help me in<br />

certain situations? Absolutely. But I<br />

wouldn’t change who I am.<br />

GL: If you were to personify yourself<br />

as a type of food, which would you<br />

choose?<br />

DI: Oh, my gosh. So you’re asking my<br />

personality reflected in a type of food?<br />

GL: Yeah! Just your typical Tuesday<br />

question.<br />

DI: Oh, goodness. I would say chicken<br />

parm. It’s my absolute favorite food,<br />

and I don’t know many people who<br />

12 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

don’t like it. I know there are some<br />

people that probably don’t care<br />

for my persona and how I act on<br />

television, but for the most part, I<br />

think I’m a pretty likable guy who<br />

people can sit down with and have<br />

a conversation. Chicken parm is<br />

definitely reliable. It’s never not<br />

good. If someone needs something<br />

from me, I would be there for them.<br />

GL: What’s your favorite game?<br />

DI: Monopoly is probably my<br />

favorite. I play pretty strictly to the<br />

rules. You don’t get any money for<br />

landing on free parking or anything<br />

like that. You’re not supposed to. It<br />

says it in the rules. I can play that<br />

game ‘til the cows come home.<br />

It was the Simpson’s themed<br />

Monopoly, by the way, which is still<br />

one of my favorite shows.<br />

GL: Who do you think would<br />

be a better athlete, Batman or<br />

Superman?<br />

DI: Oh, Superman is a better<br />

athlete, no doubt, because he<br />

doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t even<br />

sweat or bleed.<br />

GL: Who would have more sports<br />

knowledge?<br />

DI: Probably Batman. He’s a<br />

smarter dude than Superman—not<br />

that Clark Kent wasn’t smart, but<br />

Bruce Wayne knows everything.<br />

GL: I think we all know this,<br />

but who would have the better<br />

equipment?<br />

DI: I mean, Superman’s cape<br />

is nice, but the utility belt, the<br />

Batmobile, the Batwing—Batman,<br />

by far.<br />

GL: What does the good life mean<br />

to you?<br />

DI: I think being comfortable in<br />

your own skin and being able to<br />

adjust to anything that life throws<br />

at you. Also, finding balance<br />

between work and home. My work<br />

still dominates my life, and I want<br />

to have a family. I think a lot of<br />

people are still in search of that—to<br />

have that mix of being really good<br />

at home and being really good in<br />

the workplace. I think that’s, to me,<br />

what the good life would symbolize.<br />

I’m working toward it. •<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 13


Ryan Mauk, 36,<br />

has been chasing storms<br />

since he could drive<br />

Ryan Mauk, 36, has been chasing storms since he could<br />

drive - though not always knowing what he was doing.<br />

Over the years Mauk has amped up his knowledge in<br />

meteorology in sever weather; and for the past three<br />

years he has been chasing tornados semi-seriously<br />

locally and regionally from the tri-state area down as far<br />

as Kansas. He, his wife Alissa and friend/chaser Tom<br />

Reichel formed Northern Plains Chasers in 2015.<br />

When Mauk gets ready to head out for a chase he looks<br />

at different weather models including but not limited to:<br />

GFS (Global Forecast System), NAM (North American<br />

Model) and Euro Models. It is important to gather all the<br />

information you can before and during your chase so<br />

you have the proper tools on your chase. “Meteorology is<br />

the art of professional guessing,” Mauk Said, “I have an<br />

intermediate level of knowledge, enough to know where I<br />

should be in a 75-100 mile radius.”<br />

14 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

At the beginning of this year Mauk began working with WDAY. He emailed<br />

Meteorologist John Wheeler and the two of them sat down with News<br />

Director Jeff Nelson and they hashed out a plan. Since Mauk would be<br />

going out and filming the storms regardless, he suggested his gas be<br />

compensated while he was filming in the viewing area and both Wheeler<br />

and Nelson agreed. Mauk has caught some great storms on film and in<br />

pictures you can find his work online at their website, www.npchasers.com<br />

or on www.youtube.com by searching Northern Plains Chasers. You can<br />

also follow them on Facebook/NortherPlainsChasers and Instagram by<br />

searching: npchasers.<br />

It is important to be very careful and safe when chasing storms. <strong>The</strong><br />

proper knowledge is half the battle the other half is protection. Mauk drives<br />

a 2008 Nissan Xterra that is sprayed head to toe with Line-X, a protective<br />

coating, and body armor that fits the contour of the vehicle. This provides<br />

protection from hail and small debris. This does not mean his vehicle is<br />

hail proof and he can go driving recklessly into a storm, but “It does do a<br />

good job of deflecting the big stuff,” stated Mauk. <strong>The</strong> windshield is made<br />

from Lexan a polycarbonate, which is bullet and impact resistance. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

is also a metal frame with steel tubing with a 4X6 grate that slides out<br />

from the main frame, which covers the windshield. <strong>The</strong>re is no special<br />

insurance is needed for storm chasing, just full coverage on your vehicle.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> thing with tornados is that hail will always be there,” affirmed Mauk.<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 15

“Seeing a tornado<br />


but to see a crazy storm cell<br />

is also exciting.”<strong>–</strong> Ryan mauk<br />

Mauk is also a nurse at Essentia Health, so he is always<br />

prepared to be a first responder, if needed, in the case<br />

of an emergency while chasing. He carries a pretty<br />

substantial first aid kit and thankfully has never had to use<br />

it.<br />

When chasing, Mauk usually has a “co-pilot” whether it be<br />

a fellow chaser or his wife, but there are occasions where<br />

he goes out alone. <strong>The</strong>re is a lot of work that goes into<br />

chasing storms and you have to be quick but efficient when<br />

heading out. <strong>The</strong>re are good and bad outcomes when on<br />

the chase, “seeing a tornado is always awesome, but to<br />

see a crazy storm cell is also exciting” exclaimed Mauk.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n again, you could drive hundreds of miles to find<br />

your supercell has diminished. Nature will do whatever it<br />

wants, whenever is wants. “<strong>The</strong>re is something that is very<br />

comforting about the whole, storm chasing thing,” stated<br />

Mauk.<br />

16 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


Storm chasers prefer discreet supercell<br />

thunderstorms, “Supercells almost make their own<br />

environment, but that being said, if it starts sucking in<br />

cold air it will kill the thunderstorm real quick,” said<br />

Mauk. “Tornado weather is likely to happen on a hot<br />

and humid day with very little cloud cover.”<br />

I asked Mauk for some advice for first time storm<br />

chasers. “If you follow online blogs, or storm chasers<br />

pages, safety is above all, always have an escape<br />

route, always, always, always,” warned Mauk. “<strong>The</strong>re<br />

was this one storm we were chasing in Killdeer, ND<br />

it has a beautiful supercell and it was really foggy and<br />

we saw trailers that were essentially sand blasted<br />

with hail. Windows were blown out and shingles<br />

were ripped from the roof.” Storms can take a nasty<br />

turn at any minute and you need to be aware of your<br />

surroundings and pay attention to maps and wind<br />

direction or you can find yourself in a very dangerous<br />

situation.<br />

Finally I asked Mauk what the good life means to<br />

him, “Living every moment like it’s your last, as cliché<br />

as it sounds, when you are totally in the moment,<br />

witnessing something with that much power and that<br />

much of its own entity it's like you’re kind of one with<br />

God. You are mesmerized, you can’t really explain it,<br />

and it’s just an air of peace.” •<br />

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If you ask Christopher Zimmerman, the conductor of<br />

the F-M Symphony, if he can play any instruments, he’ll<br />

modestly say he “can still play the piano a little bit.”<br />

Fast forward a few days to a Masterworks Concert,<br />

where you find yourself enraptured in the beauty the F-M<br />

Symphony emits with every sound from the strings, hum<br />

from the horns, and rumble from the timpani.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re he is on stage, taking a break from conducting<br />

as he plays the piano, accompanying cellist Sergey<br />

Antonov, the Gold Medal Winner of the 2007 Tchaikovsky<br />

Competition in an encore piece. By his modest,<br />

aforementioned comment, you may have assumed he<br />

could recall how to play “Heart and Soul” on command,<br />

not a Rachmaninoff piece.<br />

Zimmerman has been a grounded wanderer for the<br />

past 22 years of his life. He appears to be comfortable<br />

wherever the music leads him, even if that’s over 4,000<br />

miles away from his original stomping grounds. Lacking<br />

the quintessential dialect of the north, he stands out as he<br />

speaks with his pleasing English accent that occasionally<br />

hints at the decades he’s lived near the East Coast.<br />

Despite his many years spent living in America, no real<br />

sense of home has been felt, and the streets of London<br />

still attempt to beckon him back from time to time. Yet,<br />

somehow, Fargo holds a certain sense of belonging for<br />

Zimmerman.<br />

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“I really like this downtown part of Fargo, and I feel really<br />

comfortable here, for some reason. Having been here for not very<br />

long, you can make an identity with a place, just because it’s a nice<br />

place,” Zimmerman said. “I have to say, my wife was not expecting<br />

to like it, but she loved it, she really did.”<br />

Currently residing in Fairfax, Va., close to the Washington D.C.<br />

area to lead the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and the American<br />

Youth Philharmonic, the salt-and pepper-haired maestro has been<br />

traveling to Fargo a week before each one of the orchestra’s five<br />

Masterworks Series Concerts to rehearse with the musicians.<br />

By listening to their seamless execution, you’d assume they had<br />

practiced more than five times together before the performances.<br />

This is proof that ever since his role as conductor began here in<br />

2013, he has easily been able to connect with the performers on<br />

stage at a professionally personal level.<br />

Beginning in London<br />

Raised in a suburb just south of London, Zimmerman and his two<br />

brothers were used to classical music blaring in their household.<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir mother, an American, was a singer and a pianist, and their<br />

father, an Englishman, played the violin. <strong>The</strong> cultural combination<br />

meant dual-citizenship for the three boys, which would later help<br />

Zimmerman acquire careers in conducting an ocean away.<br />

20 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

While attending Yale for his undergraduate<br />

degree in music, Zimmerman’s interest in<br />

the orchestra as a whole began to brew as he<br />

played in the large ensemble and studied the<br />

piano and violin.<br />

“I wasn’t interested in standing up in front of a<br />

bunch of people and making a complete idiot<br />

out of myself,” Zimmerman said, “but I was<br />

interested in learning the mechanics of this<br />

music.”<br />

During his senior year of college, Zimmerman<br />

decided to take a course in choral conducting<br />

and directed his classmates for his final project.<br />

“I was so nervous, but I got a lot of really<br />

positive feedback. I set up my own little choral<br />

group, and we did a whole program. <strong>The</strong>n I was<br />

kind of hooked.”<br />

Through more serendipitous encounters, he<br />

became the successor to direct the Yale Bach<br />

Society and eventually attended graduate<br />

school at the University of Michigan to study<br />

orchestral conducting.<br />

Two teaching gigs at music conservatories<br />

and a few orchestras later, Zimmerman<br />

has garnered years of experience with<br />

both teaching in academia and conducting<br />

professional orchestras, encouraging each<br />

musician he encounters to play with precision,<br />

grace and emotion.<br />

Reassessing the Symphony<br />

While Zimmerman loves and conducts classical<br />

pieces, he, like many others, has a penchant for<br />

rock, specifically English progressive. He grew<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 21

up loving bands like Genesis (before Peter Gabriel went off<br />

on his own), Cream, Yes, and King Crimson, to name a few.<br />

He’s a regular guy who happens to equally love classical<br />

music and rock.<br />

But Zimmerman knows there is an apprehension toward<br />

the music made by the composers of old, especially among<br />

men. So he created the perfect analogy to describe the<br />

quick judgments many make before fully experiencing<br />

classical music in all its glory.<br />

“It’s kind of like this. You say to someone, ‘Let’s go get<br />

some sushi,’ and they say, ‘Raw fish? Horrible.’ And then<br />

you ask, ‘Have you ever had any?’ ‘Oh, no, but I know I<br />

don’t like raw fish because it’s squiggly and squishy.’ If you<br />

have sushi, it’s not usually squiggly and squishy, and most<br />

people who have at least somewhat of an open mind can<br />

really get into it. I think it’s the same with classical music.<br />

It’s not going to sound like rock ‘n’ roll. Sushi is not going<br />

to taste like a burger and fries. Given. But it tastes good.”<br />

“For decades, people have said, symphony orchestras are<br />

on the way out; they’re an anachronism; the audiences are<br />

older and dying off. But today, our audiences are bigger,<br />

we have more young people in the audiences than at any<br />

point in our history,” Boyd said. “No matter how much<br />

technology or society changes, people still are drawn to<br />

human excellence. That’s why people watch the Olympics.<br />

That’s why people go to football games. That’s why<br />

people go to rock concerts. When you see human beings<br />

performing at such high levels right in front of your eyes,<br />

there is nothing like that. That’s what symphony concerts<br />

are still all about.”<br />

In the symphony’s 85-year history, it has come alongside<br />

the community as not only a source of entertainment, but<br />

of hope and solidarity, whether that was after the fighting<br />

of the 2009 flood as they put on celebration concerts or<br />

other ways to help the community express and celebrate<br />

itself. It’s a part of the DNA of the area, promoting the<br />

Men need not be dragged to the footsteps of the concert<br />

hall before being seat-belted in by the expectations of the<br />

women who brought them. Linda Boyd, the executive<br />

director of the F-M Symphony since 2007, wants to assure<br />

men that it’s a welcome environment for everyone. <strong>The</strong>re’s<br />

even a stand in the lobby providing beer, wine and nonalcoholic<br />

beverages to nervous newcomers and relaxed<br />

patrons.<br />

Boyd has been involved with the orchestra since 1993 and<br />

has seen a dramatic shift take place in recent years.<br />

22 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

surging energy of music throughout the veins of<br />

its residents. <strong>The</strong>y even host Urban Overture, a<br />

sophisticated and fun night out for people in their<br />

20s and 30s as a preview for upcoming concerts.<br />

“This is a fun night out, and people are still looking<br />

for interesting and meaningful experiences,” Boyd<br />

said.<br />

“We’re trying to not make it snotty in any way and<br />

make it a fun time,” Zimmerman went on to say. “I’m<br />

convinced that many of the people who think they<br />

don’t like classical music, whatever that is, would<br />

like it if they tried. If you just open your ears to the<br />

sounds themselves and not have a preconceived<br />

notion, it will speak to you more than you would<br />

think it would.”<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 23

<strong>The</strong> Masterworks<br />

Concert Series is<br />

held at NDSU’s Festival<br />

Concert Hall with the next<br />

concert taking place Nov. 12<br />

and 13. Pieces featured are the<br />

“William Tell Overture” by Gioacchino<br />

Rossini, “Concierto de Aranjuez” by<br />

Joaquin Rodrigo, featuring Paraguayan<br />

classical guitar soloist Berta Rojas, and<br />

“Symphony No. 1” by Johannes Brahms.<br />

<strong>The</strong> pre-concert “Informance” talks begin<br />

45 minutes before each concert in the<br />

adjoining Beckwith Recital Hall. Learn<br />

more at www.fmsymphony.org. •<br />

Christopher Zimmerman<br />

Favorite composers:<br />

“As I get older, the real classical guys like<br />

Bach and Mozart I like more and more. I<br />

used to not like them so much. This is why<br />

I think some people think they don’t like<br />

classical music; it’s so far removed from<br />

today’s world in a way. But I like their music<br />

more because there’s a reason they are so<br />

great.”<br />

Favorite time period:<br />

“Every era, whether you liked the dress<br />

code or not, people are dressed in a certain<br />

way. <strong>The</strong>n it would change to another<br />

way. Now, someone could come in with<br />

a three-piece suit and we wouldn’t think<br />

he was weird. Everybody can do their<br />

own thing. With the 20th century, that’s<br />

what happened. Some of these geniuses<br />

composed the most amazing music. In the<br />

last 100 years or so, the variety of music<br />

is so great. So that, in a way, is my favorite<br />

time.”<br />

What does “the good life” mean to you?<br />

“Well, like most people, I like lazing around<br />

and eating and drinking; but I think “the<br />

good life” is when life is full of vibrancy and<br />

stimulation, where we are able openly and<br />

unthreateningly to really engage with the<br />

myriad of amazing things that the world<br />

has to offer. Drinking seriously good beer,<br />

seeing the Taj Mahal or trying to get your<br />

head around Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’—<br />

it doesn’t really matter.”<br />

24 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com<br />


Holiday<br />

Giving<br />

This holiday season Urban Toad<br />

Media LLP and <strong>The</strong> <strong>Good</strong> <strong>Life</strong> Men’s<br />

Magazine would like to thank all the<br />

members of our military and their<br />

families. Thank you for your sacrifice<br />

and your dedication.<br />

Please remember these brave men<br />

and woman who give so much every<br />

day. Don’t forget to add them to your<br />

holiday shopping list.<br />

Please consider a gift to one of the<br />

many charities that support our military<br />

members and their families. One less<br />

gift under your tree could make the<br />

world of difference to someone else.<br />

Fisher House<br />

www.fisherhouse.org<br />

National Military Family<br />

Association<br />

www.militaryfamily.org<br />

Our Military Kids<br />

ourmilitarykids.org<br />

Soldier’s Angels<br />

www.soldiersangels.org Veteran<br />

Operation Homefront<br />

www.operationhomefront.net<br />

Semper Fi Fund<br />

semperfifund.org<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 25


Have you ever wondered how to drive a Zamboni? <strong>The</strong><br />

technical name for this machine is the ice-resurfacing<br />

machine. <strong>The</strong> machine was named after the inventor<br />

Frank Zamboni; his surname was the registered<br />

trademark for the resurfacer. <strong>The</strong> Zamboni began as a<br />

propane fueled machine but has been modified in the<br />

recent years to be electric, which is more environmentally<br />

friendly.<br />

I had the opportunity to do a ride along with Lars Hegland<br />

at the Scheels Arena. Hegland has been working at the<br />

arena since 2009, and has worked his way downstairs,<br />

from working in the parking lot to operating and<br />

maintaining the Zamboni(s). This is Hegland’s part time<br />

job - which is a pretty awesome one at that. His full<br />

time job is playing in his band Tripwire. Hegland is very<br />

knowledgeable when it comes to Zambonis and the stepby-step<br />

process was made easier because of that. Lets<br />

kick this off by letting you in on the secrets of driving a<br />

Zamboni.<br />

In six steps I will explain how to run a Zamboni. For this<br />

specific step-by-step we will be talking about electric<br />

Zambonis.<br />

STEP ONE<br />

To begin you must unplug the battery pack, turn on the<br />

machine and fill it with water, which will be laid onto the<br />

ice.<br />

STEP TWO<br />

Lower the hopper - which is where all the snow is<br />

collected. It is raised when you are finished to empty the<br />

snow and dry it out.<br />

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Release the break, back up and get onto the ice. From<br />

there you will turn on the brush. <strong>The</strong> brush is used to<br />

pick up excess snow from along the boards; you will only<br />

use the brush for the outside lap.<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 27


Make sure the Zamboni is moving forward and lower the<br />

conditioner, the conditioner shaves the ice, collects snow,<br />

rinses the ice and allows new water to be laid onto the ice.<br />

STEP SIX<br />

Turn on the hot water that goes on the ice. <strong>The</strong>n turn on<br />

the cold water, which is the wash water, it gets snow out of<br />

the cracks in the ice. Finally turn on the wash water pump.<br />

28 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


Turn on the vertical and horizontal<br />

augers. <strong>The</strong> horizontal auger gathers<br />

the snow and the vertical one propels<br />

it into the hopper.<br />

Once you have finished all these<br />

steps you can begin to condition<br />

and smooth the ice. You will take<br />

two outside laps and then go in an<br />

oval shape and come up the middle<br />

until you have covered the entire<br />

rink.<br />

After you have finished conditioning<br />

and smoothing out the ice you will<br />

do all of these steps in reverse and<br />

finish by parking and turning off<br />

your machine.<br />

This article will not make you an<br />

expert at driving a Zamboni but it<br />

will give you enough knowledge to<br />

brag to your friends. So the next<br />

time you find yourself at a hockey<br />

game you can educate all your<br />

friends on what it takes to drive and<br />

operate a Zamboni. •<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 29

30 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

<strong>The</strong>y are the guys students ask for by<br />

name at recess. <strong>The</strong>y’re the friendly<br />

faces that represent authority figures.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y are the two men tasked with<br />

creating rules and plans for something<br />

that’s never been done before in<br />

their community. <strong>The</strong>y are the Fargo<br />

Police Department’s Community<br />

Trust Officers, and their mission is<br />

to establish a legacy of trust between<br />

the police and the community they're<br />

sworn to protect.<br />



Officers Michael Bloom and Matthew<br />

Niemeyer willingly left the downtown<br />

beat to take their positions in October<br />

of 2015. Thanks to a federal grant<br />

to support the National Initiative for<br />

Building Community Trust and Justice<br />

across the U.S., both officers were able<br />

to fill a crucial role in the community:<br />

to reach out and educate citizens.<br />

“To boil our position down, it is to build<br />

trust and transparency,” Niemeyer<br />

said. “<strong>The</strong> trust part is significantly<br />

more complicated. We are trying to<br />

do something significant within our<br />

community. We are looking for different<br />

holes that need to be filled, where the<br />

police department can play a role in<br />

really making this community better.”<br />

One of the biggest opportunities the<br />

two trust officers first identified was<br />

working with area youth, specifically<br />

from low-income, minority and new<br />

American populations. “We’re working<br />

to help them develop some interests<br />

and hobbies within the community,”<br />

Bloom said. Nationwide studies show<br />

that doing so helps students behave<br />

better in school, perform better<br />

academically and keep them out of<br />

trouble.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re are a lot of things that go into<br />

that programming, not only to reduce<br />

crime, but also to have the police<br />

department play a big role in helping<br />

a lot of these kids pursue a better<br />

life,” Niemeyer added. <strong>The</strong> goal is to<br />

focus kids’ attention, kids who “would<br />

otherwise just end up playing around<br />

in the park and—out of sheer boredom<br />

and availability—end up getting into<br />

trouble,” he said.<br />

Our job gives us freedom to connect<br />

with people on deeper levels<br />

than most cops ever get to. — Bloom<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 31


By partnering with organizations<br />

like Charism, the Boys and Girls<br />

Club of the Red River Valley, Legacy<br />

Children’s Foundation, First Assembly<br />

Church and <strong>Life</strong> Church, to name<br />

a few, the officers are able to hold<br />

events such as Cocoa with a Cop,<br />

Cool Off with a Cop, Fargo United and<br />

C-4 (Character, Community, Charism,<br />

Cops) Summer Camp.<br />

<strong>The</strong> two officers also work handin-hand<br />

with five area schools to<br />

be a presence in the hallways,<br />

classrooms and playgrounds where<br />

signs of trouble often first show<br />

up. But no matter how much effort<br />

they make, they say it rarely feels<br />

like enough. Originally, the Fargo<br />

Police Department requested four<br />

Community Trust Officers through the<br />

grant, but were only rewarded two.<br />

“It’s such an interesting thing<br />

because—being just two people in<br />

a city of 120,000 people—it’s like<br />

what do we do and how do we do it<br />

effectively,” Bloom wondered aloud.<br />

32 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com<br />

“You can have 10,000 ideas, but how<br />

do you accomplish them?”<br />

<strong>The</strong> answer is slowly. <strong>The</strong>y’ve found<br />

day by day, little by little their progress<br />

becomes more evident.<br />

“When you go to a school and kids<br />

are name-dropping and asking where<br />

(Matt) is when I’m the only one there,<br />

it just shows that the seed he’s planted<br />

is taking root,” Bloom said. “It’s<br />

meaning something.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> Best Part<br />

Considering the officers are often<br />

flying by the seat of their pants,<br />

Niemeyer said one of his favorite<br />

parts of the job is seeing things come<br />

together, people open up and the<br />

community jumping at the opportunity<br />

to fill a role or contribute in some way.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re are some parents that just flatout<br />

hate cops—for whatever reason.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y will fight us tooth and nail to<br />

work with their kids,” Niemeyer said.<br />

But when they least expect it, they<br />

receive parental consent from parents<br />

they never dreamed would.<br />

For Bloom, relationships mean<br />

everything. “I care about people in<br />

general a lot, which is why I wanted<br />

this spot,” he said. “Our job gives us<br />

freedom to connect with people on<br />

deeper levels than most cops ever get<br />

to.”<br />

In a role like this, it’s easy to become<br />

attached. Bloom admits it's one of<br />

his favorite parts of the job. Unlike a<br />

typical cop who may be tied to a single<br />

beat, Bloom and Niemeyer have the<br />

leeway to not only make those special<br />

connections with the kids they serve,<br />

but also to carve out time to foster<br />

those relationships whenever and<br />

wherever needed.<br />

“It sounds simple but, to me, that’s<br />

the world,” Bloom said. “That’s what<br />

gets my heart stirring—the freedom to<br />

really connect with people and show<br />

them how much an officer really cares<br />

about them.”

<strong>The</strong> Double Edge<br />

<strong>The</strong> most fulfilling aspect of the job also doubles as the<br />

hardest. While the officers treasure the relationships<br />

they build, they’re also conscious of the boundaries<br />

they must abide.<br />

“As an officer, you can’t get too close, because it’s my<br />

responsibility—and Matt’s as well—to protect our<br />

families,” Bloom said. “<strong>The</strong>re’s this one boy I want to<br />

take to church every Sunday with me, I want to take<br />

him to the gym with me, I want to be the man in his<br />

life that he doesn’t have.”<br />

A father himself, Bloom admits that he’d adopt a<br />

couple of the boys he works with in a heartbeat… if<br />

he could. “If you don’t see a dad, you want to be a<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 33


dad,” he said. “But you can’t be a dad<br />

necessarily, because you’re crossing<br />

the line, especially if you have to bust<br />

them one day.”<br />

For Niemeyer, the job exposes life's<br />

harshest realities—people’s stories<br />

that often go untold. He gets to<br />

know people in the community on a<br />

different level; they start to open up.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re are some people that live<br />

really difficult lives and they struggle<br />

with almost everything—food,<br />

clothing, where they live, neighbors,<br />

etc.” he said. “You walk away from<br />

some conversations feeling awful for<br />

what some people are having to deal<br />

with but, at the same time, admiring<br />

them for how they are approaching<br />

their situations.”<br />

34 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com<br />

Fighting the Stigma<br />

In the last few years, police<br />

departments across the country have<br />

been forced to deal with the social<br />

and political fallout from the string<br />

of highly publicized police shootings<br />

and subsequent charges of racial<br />

discrimination and profiling.<br />

“Just knowing how only two of us are<br />

taking on that misportrayal over our<br />

entire city is intimidating,” Niemeyer<br />

said. “<strong>The</strong>re’s a lot to do, there’s a<br />

lot of ground to cover, and it’s not<br />

something that’s going to happen<br />

quickly.”<br />

In a very real sense, the role of the<br />

Community Trust Officer is to break<br />

that stigma. “It’s an exciting time to<br />

show people that a lot of the media<br />

has it twisted,”<br />

Bloom said. “It’s<br />

hard when the<br />

story’s always<br />

against your<br />

people. We’re<br />

trying to be light in a dark time.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> more officers that focus on<br />

building rapport in the community,<br />

the more easily the feeling of trust<br />

will spread. “Once is goes from<br />

two officers to maybe three officers<br />

to five, six, seven and so on… now<br />

you’re getting to that point where<br />

the concept of the department as a<br />

whole being there for the community<br />

becomes a little more fathomable,”<br />

Niemeyer said.<br />

A Balancing Act<br />

Little by little, Officers Bloom and<br />

Niemeyer aim to not just tell people,<br />

but actually show people they<br />

care. “For Matt and I—our whole<br />

department—the whole focus is<br />

to show no matter your race, your

eligion, we’re police and we care about our city,”<br />

Bloom said.<br />

Achieving that level of trust requires a delicate<br />

balancing act of getting close to those who need your<br />

help, but not too close to jeopardize your sworn duty.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> nature of police work has the hard contacts<br />

already in it,” Niemeyer said. “You’re making arrests,<br />

you’re writing citations, you’re taking reports. You’re<br />

doing all those things that policing will always involve<br />

and arguably has to involve.” But the soft, social<br />

contacts are also crucial in building relationships and<br />

trust within the community.<br />

Niemeyer said it's the same challenge any authoritative<br />

figure faces—whether a parent, teacher, boss, etc. If<br />

the only time they interact with you is to scold or come<br />

down on you, the relationship will falter. “You’re not<br />

going to have a positive relationship with that authority<br />

figure unless that person is also coming around and<br />

uplifting you, and is encouraging you, letting you know<br />

that they care,” he said.<br />

A balance between the two is crucial. “If you are out<br />

of balance, that relationship is going to be strained,”<br />

Niemeyer said. “If it’s in balance, I think those bad<br />

times or those hard times, you can absorb them and<br />

you can get through them easier.”<br />

For now, the focus is creating good times, creating<br />

strong relationships in the community. Being in a<br />

position where he can make that possible is part of<br />

the good life for Niemeyer. <strong>The</strong> good life “is being able<br />

to love what you do,” he said. “Getting that sense of<br />

reward of what you are able to be a part of, knowing it<br />

matters.” That’s true fulfillment.<br />

For Bloom, life’s about starting strong and finishing<br />

strong. Period. <strong>The</strong> good life means being bold,<br />

courageous and fearless for his community—“leaving a<br />

legacy that people were impacted by,” he said.<br />

“Speaking of the good life,” Bloom said, beaming and<br />

referring to the photo of his one-year-old his wife had<br />

just texted. “That’s my daughter. She’s so cute.” •<br />

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 35

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