Monday, March 29, 2010

Now...What Was I Doing Again?

Got off work a little early today as "bank hours" from Saturday's upgrade fiasco. It will give me a chance to catch up on some writing, work out and a few other loose ends.

I was thinking the other day that if my writing is "good", as many people say it is, what could it be if I had the time to put some real thought into it? I seem to be screaming from one event to the other lately to the point of distraction. The only time I have to do decent writing, I feel so pressured to "hurry up and get it done" that I don't get past the surface level in my description, dialogue and humor. What's up with that?

I'm not implying that I want to move to Tibet and don a robe, just that I think to write really well, you need to commit to doing it in a quiet, distraction free environment, if there is such a thing. How does one achieve this? If you find out, let me know.

I AM happy with the frequency of my writing, as opposed to a year ago when I was floundering to the point of wondering...what's the point? Now if I could out more into the quality of it, we'd all be better off.

I guess it comes with the territory of being a full time worker, Dad, Husband, volunteer, and dog walker, so I shouldn't be surprise. In fact many of those roles give me the material I so love to write about.

So what's my point? I guess it's just that like all of my "real job" work, I only like to do a job if I can do it right and good. That's why I'm struggling with a half-right situation like I have with my writing. It is something I need to work through, and will. The only time I'll have uninterrupted time to write is when I'm 70 years old and retired, so I might as well suck it up and grind it out.

Sarah gets baptised tomorrow at church, and that is a great thing. A GREAT THING. The Middle School Pastor even said he's the most excited about this event than he's ever been about anything at church. (I think this is the first time they've had a Middle School Baptism type event, so that's cool.)

Needless to say, I'm grateful that my in-laws could make it as well as Steve and Jill and Uncle Mark. It will mean a lot to her to have such a supportive crowd there for her. God is good.

Well, as I was talking before about distractions and commitments, I have to go and work out now, then off to the Dog Park with Toby. (Above). For now I'm blogging off...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Upgrade-itis

Spent the better part of my morning, my Saturday morning, installing an upgrade at work today. It was going so smoothly. I went in at 9:00 and it was almost done at 9:45. Then, in epic ESRI ArcIMS fashion, it failed. I guess I can't blame it on ESRI this time as it was really a case of Servlet Exec not talking to the Java Advanced Imaging libraries very nicely.

After uninstalling and re-installing Servlet Exec three different times, I finally had to walk away. I went and ran some errands that I had to get to and gave myself time to think. It really is amazing what walking away from a problem can do sometimes. I deduced that if I uninstall the Java SDK and then re-install it and the Java Advanced Imaging, something might click.

Well, the fourth time is a charm. This time SE saw the JAI and all was well. Victory! It's funny how every time I run an upgrade of this stuff I get a different outcome. It's because this stupid software is 4 levels deep. You have IIS and windows at level 1. Then you have Java Runtime at level 2. At level 3 you have Servlet Exec, and level 4 is ArcIMS. If any one of these cursed products doesn't install or uninstall correctly, you have a friggin' headache. I was so happy by the fourth install I actually clapped when I got it figured out. It's the little things in life.

So my father and mother in law are headed this direction. They were taking the train and got waylaid because of a derailment. Doesn't that suck? Their first experience on the train (in a long time at least) and they get that. They were supposed to be in a t 2:30 and are still not here. Hopefully they'll make the 5:40 train in Chicago and get up here by 7:00 or so. If not, it could be as late as 9:30 before they get to Milwaukee. That would mean they'd been on a train for almost 24 hours. Ugh. They won't likely be taking the train again is my guess.

Well, I've got to get to my short story on dead pets of the past, so until next time, I'm...blogging off.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On a Roll

I got news yesterday that a second poem of mine was accepted for publishing! Whoopee! That's two in less than a month.

I'm still not sure what this means. I never intended to go into this writing workshop and learn to write poetry, that's for dang sure. I figure I must be doing something right.

Anyhow, the poem is about a meeting between two people (Donna and Me) and it's actually what I feel is one of my best. It's titled "The Start of a Beautiful Friendship" and it's being published in a rather obscure publication called Echoes. I'd point you to a website, but evidently it's still in the planning stages. When the information is available on how to get a copy, I'll be sure and post it here and on Facebook.

I'm currently working on a couple of short stories about dead house pets of my past. There's too many to count, but those that were memorable will be in this work. I hope to get it published in some form as one of my first creative non-fiction pieces. We'll see.

The great thing is that now I've found a bit more purpose in writing, other than just for enjoyment. I'll always enjoy it, but it's a different story when you get positive feedback from your peers and others.

It's off to Tuesday Night Live and Boys Club, so I'll be blogging off...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Second Day of Spring

Today when I woke, the snow from yesterday had all melted, and that is a very good thing. When I woke up yesterday, I just said "Crap!" I and the rest of Wisconsin was spoiled by last week's warm weather.

Went over to a friends house today to watch the Badgers mail it in to Cornell. My goodness they got schooled. They looked flat, couldn't rebound, play defense or sink shots. Other than that, they did awesome. Oh well, I'm pulling for Northern Iowa for the rest of the way. Them and the rest of my bracket winners (Duke and Syracuse).

It is Sunday night and I'm exhausted so will keep this post short. Hoping you get challenged and stretched this week in whatever you do. Live Life!

Blogging off...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

She's Ruined Me Now

Went to see Norah Jones with Donna last night. It was amazing. She has such a gift in her voice. It had me absolutely swooning. She did most of her new album sprinkled in with a few of her old songs. It would have been disappointing if her new album wasn't so darn good. Her electric guitar handling was not "clumsy looking" as one critic noted in a review about her prior shows. She's a natural with any instrument she's playing, including guitar, piano, organ, harpsichord, or whatever. She's simply phenomenal, and had a backing band that was really something too. (Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Bass, and drums) It was a night I'll remember for a long time.

It was an interesting study in human behavior and what people do, say and wear. A pretty tame audience with a mix from 20 somethings all the way up to older farts than me.

The nice thing I noticed about the concert was it wasn't too loud. The acoustics were spot on and the sound level was perfect. I told Donna my warped idea of a concert was one that was held in a Hockey Arena where you got a 32 OZ mega-bad-beer and sat in chairs that were too cramped. You'd spend most of intermission in line for the bathroom and you'd come out of the thing with a mid-level hearing loss, the beginnings of lung cancer and in desperate need of a shower. This was a much BETTER experience and the after effects are only good.

Before the concert, we went out to dinner at Bunkers on Greenfield. We both had fish fries, which were pretty good, but the memorable dish was their bread cheese. It was like a gourmet cheese curd. Phenomenal. I would recommend them to anyone. (74th and Greenfield). It's a small place, so get there early or wait till summer when their outdoor seating opens.

So, it was a really great evening all-in-all. I simply LOVE my wife, and nights like last night remind me why I fell in love with her in the first place. She seemed to enjoy the whole experience too, despite being tired from a bout of insomnia the night before. She was a trooper and I love her for it.

Talked to a woman at work yesterday who I've seen at church a couple of times. Turns out she's going through some tough times, and through it all she's found a place (Elmbrook) where she's got a decent support network and can talk through some things. It was refreshing to be able to talk about spiritual things with someone at work in such a frank and personal way. She discovered I'm trying to write a book, and was curious about that, though extremely respectful of my privacy. As I said, it was just cool talking on something more than a superficial level with someone at work who's not all full of themselves. Completely humble. A rarity indeed.

Well, I've got a zillion things to do, so better tend to them before it's friggin' Monday morning again, so I'll Blog off...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chairman of the Board

Took Ben to the skateboard shop today to get his custom made skateboard. The thing actually cost $130 after all was said and done. It was sticker shock, to be sure, but he saved for it himself, so he was able to get what he wanted. He was SO happy, it was fun to watch. He played it cool when the owner was pointing out the various custom options.

It's like build-a-bear, without the corniness, and at a much higher cost. He picked out a board first (He got a Baker model, for what that's worth.), then picked out trucks, bearings, wheels and hardware. The "dude" at the shop then assembles it all while you wait, including the black sandpaper "grip tape" that goes over the top. It was a good male-bonding experience, in an urban, twenty-first century sort of way. Within a couple hours of getting it, he had some nice scratches on the underside, but that's all part of the deal. If you're not grindin' it, what'd ya buy it for?

Before we went to the skateboard shop, we had been at his Upward Basketball end-of-year celebration at church. It was loud with the ringleader making the kids and audience play silly games in the interest of calling it a party. In addition, it was the League leaders thanking everyone including the friggin' hot dog vendor for their part in the season. Then, the associate pastor had to do the same recognition.

It was thank you overkill, in my book. Can't everyone just do their job, and not need to be verbally acknowledged from the podium? I don't know, it just seemed excessive. Maybe I'm a stodge, but it just kind of reeked of the whole "everyone's a winner" thing you see so much of in the schools and culture today. Hey, even the friggin' parents are winners! Hey, the janitors too! And what about the guys who run the video board during the excessive celebration party?

OK, I guess I am a poop.

Last night we watched Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Don't ask why. It looked funny from the short preview, but was really kind of weird. It was a serious movie with some funny parts, instead of the reverse, like we thought it would be.

This afternoon, I worked out at the Y and it was awesome. I feel so much better after working out. Much more alert. I'd recommend it to any and all.

So, that's my weekend so far. It's all good.

Blogging off...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Y Not

We've been members at the YMCA for about two weeks now. I'm not sure how I feel about it. My wife wants to run in a 5K race. You have to understand she has never been athletically inclined in the least. She always says she hates sweating. I can appreciate that, I guess. So she decided to take charge all of the sudden, and has undertaken the Couch to 5K program. It starts slowly with a mix of walking and jogging.

She is in week three and seems to be hanging in there. She had some pain earlier this week that she self diagnosed as Compartmental Syndrome, thanks in part to WebMD. After taking some advice, she did better today and was pain free. I'm just elated that she's taken charge and is seemingly committed to completing the program. My prayer for her is that she begins to experience the joy of a good workout. The endorphins, the renewed energy levels, better sleeping, confidence, and everything else.

Me, I'm doing OK too. I typically start with weight training, and move to the elliptical and then finish with either some running or basketball. So far, so good. I too feel better, and have much more energy from task to task. My only fear is that with Summer coming, I won't want to be working out indoors. My bike beckons and usually wins out. Time will tell. For now I enjoy the change and the ability to work out anytime I want.

No additional word on the poems I submitted to UW. Turn around time for those things is usually weeks, not days, so I don't expect to hear much for a while. In the meantime, I've stumbled across many new websites talking about publishing, poetry and writing. It's like I've tapped into a whole new chapter of my life. I plan to run with it while the running is good.

Take down your Christmas decorations. It's almost Easter!

More this weekend. Blogging off...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lennon Lives...and George Too!


Just got back from my son's last concert as a grade schooler a couple hours ago. It was a fine display of vocality. 100 + kids partook and put on a pretty good show for the parents and grands. Oh sure, there were some clunkers, but hey, the price was right and so I can't complain. They finished with a Beatles Medley (The love medley, they called it). It was one of the better concerts I'd been to over the years, mostly because all of the songs were from the 60's and so I knew them all. (Abraham, John, Martin, Surfin' USA, Locomotion, etc.)


It was a good time in a jam packed, sweaty gym (Yes the same place as the Family Dance a few nights ago). I love those kinds of events, as they pull the community together for a common cause.


It was the last concert for Randall Elementary proper. The school is becoming a Stem Academy for K-5th grades next year, with a change in focus to engineering and math. We'll see how that shakes out.


Well, I wanted to get a post in, in lieu of my writing class, which didn't meet tonight, as it is a break between sessions. Next week starts up another 10 weeks, so that should be fun.


For now, I'm blogging off...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fan-Damily Dance

I just got back from my eleven year old sons' school "family dance". This soiree' is an exhibition in noise, sensory overload, kid packs, and body pollution. In other words, it's an absolute blast for the kids, whereas we parents, have to grit our teeth and get through it. My wife had to work, so I was graced with going to it alone, which makes it even less desirable.

The gym is outfitted with a DJ who, like all bad DJ's turns the volume up a notch for every song, so that by the end everything sounds like Alice in Chains on 'leven. I kid you not. By the end of the night, I wasn't sure if it was Miley Cyrus or Ozzy Osbourne screaming at me. I think it must have been the former, because the student selling girl scout cookies was mouthing every word. This is weird, because the only word I heard was like the sound of a jet engine before it falls off a plane over the Atlantic. I think it's probably hard to mouth that sound, but she was.

I'll give them this much, the music earlier in the night wasn't too bad, with a couple of Michael Jackson songs that were not unbearable. Again though, like every friggin' DJ that's ever spun a disk, the guy had to play the YMCA, the chicken dance, and the hokey pokey. C'mon, is somebody getting married here or what? Why must they continue to play those songs? Can't we as a nation, officially "retire" a song?

It'd be like:

Nope, can't play that song, it's retired. Done.

Then the cops would come if they did play it and confiscate the CD and burn it, like in Fahrenheit 451.

Group dance songs like the Macarena would be exempt of course, because they haven't been around for 150 years, like the Chicken Dance.

I'm such a curmudgeon when it comes to music. And I enjoy dancing. (Scary visual there). I really do, but I figure if everyone is dancing the same dance, ala "line dancing", why don't we just save ourselves some work. If I can't be original in my dance, what's the point? I don't get it. Is that weird? Yeah, I thought so.

Anyhow, throw on top of this junk food galore; hot dogs, nachos, soda, candy or, basically what the kids get for hot lunch, and you have the mixings for a good stomach ache. I abstained this year and stuck to flavored water. It was clear the kids were getting enough sugar for all the adults, and then some.

I managed to be a wallflower for most of it, trying to blend in and not be noticed. Eventually though the deaf DJ drove me from the gym, which was an act of mercy on his part. I did talk to a few other parents and had a nice chat.

Had I had my choice though, I'd of been at home doing something (anything) else. But, I KNOW how much the kids love this event (I was one too once) and so I didn't want to deny Ben. Turns out I brought one of his friends with, so I think his parents were thankful too that I spared them from the sonic assault.

Part of me will miss this annual event, as Bens going into Middle School next year, so they won't have these. It's a rite of passage I guess.

Another part of me thinks "thank goodness I made it through seven years of Family Dance without actually ever dancing". I think others are thankful too. Nothing like a six foot five man doing the funky chicken in front of the principal of his kid's school to ruin a kid's grade school career forever.

Some things are meant to be. And so it goes.

Blogging off...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Houston we have Liftoff

Well it happened. The Wisconsin Verse publication accepted my poem "Anyone Seen Sally" yesterday. Victory at last! (It really didn't take that long, actually.) They edited it slightly, and shortened my bio a bit, but that's OK, as long as it's in print, baby!

It is a weird beginning to a long, strange venture in the name of getting published. Never in a thousand years would I have guessed that it would have been a poem where I got my start, but things happen for a reason, I guess.

So, the question is, how do I follow this up? Time will tell with that as well.

Alas, other things call for my attention now, so I'll have to save the full post for this weekend.

In the meantime, please support the publication at www.wisconsinverse.org

Blogging off...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Crossed Fingers

I just got a notice from versewisconsin.org that they are considering a poem of mine for publishing. Not going to get too excited until I see it in print, but this is a good start. Will keep you posted, in the meantime, support the arts at:

http://www.versewisconsin.org

Life is good! Onward...

Blogging off...