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Showing posts from December, 2012

2013 -- Ringing It In

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Another New Years Eve is upon us. It is not one of my favorite holidays, but I can't really tell you why. It's just kind of vanilla; kind of cheeseburger.

There aren't many New Years' that stand out as exceptional when I try and recall them. There are several that I recall as being just OK, but few that rival say some of the Christmases or Fourth of July's of the past.

There was the New Years that ended up with me at Perkins with my friend and his sister. I remember it being so cold out and my 1968 Cutlass wouldn't start, so I had to pop the hood, take off the air cleaner and open the carburetor butterfly valve. It finally started, thank goodness, so I guess you could call that a good "start" to the New Year (1978-'79).

And there was the one where Donna and I had a New Year's party and it fizzled and popped because we tried to mingle 3 groups of friends and family and the mixing never quite happened. Throw on top of that starting it too early…

What Can I Do To Make You Feel Well Today?

I went into Walgreens yesterday in a simple quest to get some AAA batteries for a remote control that was dead in the water. I went to the battery section and found a 4-Pack for $3.49. I noticed the sale price was only good "With Card", ($5.49 without). Now, I've been pestered a few times at Walgreens to "get a card," which I've flatly refused. The last thing I need is another key fob or piece of plastic in my wallet. Suddenly it seemed like a good idea. I figured I would get one at the register and save myself a couple bucks in the process.

I walked up to the empty register and told the clerk that I wanted a card if it wasn't too much trouble. She assured me it wasn't and then began taking my name, phone, and other information. In the middle of the registration, her phone rang and she answered it.

"Thank you for calling Walgreens. What can I do to make you feel well today?"

This struck me as an odd and somewhat intrusive greeting for a cl…

Over The Rivers

Our upcoming trip to the Twin Cities for Christmas brings to mind the many trips there and New York in years past. The treks are always long and weather occasionally makes for some interesting rides. A few come to mind as standouts, (not outstanding, just standouts).
There was the trip to Minnesota shortly after marrying when we hit a very bad snowstorm from Madison to Eau Claire. The snow was building up in the road to the point of having ruts. We had Donna's '87 Honda Accord and promptly surrendered in Eau Claire and stayed at a Motel. Word from Mom the next day was that if we had toughed it out for another 15 minutes we would have been out of the worst. There was no way I could have driven for another 15 minutes. I was fried.
Then, there were the many trips to New York. These were long, drawn out, overnight affairs and almost always included some bad weather somewhere along the way. Usually we hit some lake effect snow in Erie or Buffalo and things got white knucklish. If n…

A Birthday Wish

Today would have been my stepfather Jack's 83rd birthday. He died in 1997 of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or PSP. This is a disease that affects 1 in 100,000 people over the age of 60. It is characterized by loss of balance, changes in mood, inability to control eye movements, depression and a host of other bad things. My mother and he divorced in 1985, so I didn't see him much after that.

Though he was far from perfect, he was the only dad I ever  knew. He liked his drink and it was the cause of both of his failed marriages. The outcome of his marriage to Mom was that we inherited a great step-family that we still see and love. We actually lived on the same street as his first wife, Portland Avenue. More ironic is the fact that her name was Mary, as was my mom. At one point there were two Mary McKasy's on Portland Avenue, as if the post office didn't have enough trouble getting things right.

While Jack had his faults he gave me many things in this life.

He gave me t…

Newtown's Wake

I'm not sure how to approach the subject of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings. It is a tragedy of such unthinkable proportions it's hard to even fathom. When I heard the news from my wife, my first thought was "Again?" Noteworthy was the fact that I didn't first think "How could something like this happen?" It's happened enough that surprise is not the first reaction.

Only when I asked how many casualties there were and she said 26, did the shock truly set in. Before that I was sickened by the news, but when I heard 26 (later changed to 28, including the killer,) my jaw dropped. When she said that most of them were children, my heart broke.

Later in the day, I repeatedly broke down in tears. This tragedy had an effect on me that no other national event has since 9/11/2001. When I heard the magnitude of that day, I wanted nothing more than to get home, get Sarah out of school and huddle with my family. It was so gut wrenching that someone (or in the…

Christmas Revisited

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As we rush headlong into another Christmas, I need to remind myself of what I want to get out of the season.  Per usual, I tend to think most about what I'm going to GET. Its the world's shortest 4 letter word, especially this time of year.

What am I going to GET? What should I GET (someone else)? What if I GET something that isn't what I really wanted? How much will I GET? What if my kids aren't happy with what they GET? Did we GET them enough?

Do you see where I'm going with this? Every year I say it should be so much more than the GET or even the GIVE. As low key as my Wisconsin family tries to keep it, it always seems to come down to spending too much and we end up not looking any different than the rest of the world.

At the same time, I've found I can enjoy the moments despite the craziness of shopping, lights and decorating. The day we were decorating the tree, I was watching the Packer game with the sound turned down and Nat King Cole playing on the sur…

Always Right

My son became eligible for a phone upgrade this past week, so I took him out to get one on Tuesday. We started at WalMart, which was our first mistake. Frankly, it's not my favorite store. I know it's one of the biggest employers in the US, but that doesn't matter. I still cringe at the thought of having to shop there. Ben had seen that they had his phone for $30.00, so I thought we would give it a try.

In the parking lot I told Ben that if I had a bad feeling at all while dealing with the salesperson I would give him the signal, and we would bolt.

The woman we got was less than helpful. When Ben told her he wanted to buy the Sony Xperia Ion which was on sale for .97 cents, she asked him "Why don't you want an iPhone 4? (Which was also on sale for .97). She went on to ask what was so good about the Sony vs. an iPhone. Ben came through with a decent answer, but that's not the point.

When a customer asks for something, you don't counter with a question. You…

Saturday Coffee

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One of the things my wife and I have taken to doing lately is going out for coffee on Saturday mornings. We get up around 7:30 and head over to the Steaming Cup, a local coffee shop about 6 blocks from home. In the summer months, we would even go to the Waukesha Farmer's Market afterward and buy produce.  Now that it's winter, we just go for coffee and a cinnamon roll. What once started on a whim, has become our ritual and I have grown to love it for a number of reasons.

First and foremost is it gives us the chance to talk uninterrupted for an hour or so. We could probably do the same thing at home, because the kids usually sleep in on Saturday AM, but it wouldn't be the same. When you're home, the appliances beckon. Projects beckon. Technology beckons. When you're at coffee none of that is a factor. Even our phones don't come out until it's time to go home. Getting uninterrupted time used to be a bigger deal when the kids were smaller and pulling us in al…