Showing posts from January, 2013

Four More Years

I went to my son's high school incoming freshman open house tonight at Waukesha South High School. It was my second time at such an event, because I had gone through the whole spiel with Sarah 3 years ago.  (It seems hard to believe that it was 3 years ago already.) It was the usual informational/logistical meeting followed up by 3000 people cramming into too-small of a hallway to sign up for sports, clubs and activities. It is a necessary evil, but one I don't typically look forward to very much. Sitting there in the auditorium and walking the halls gave me flashbacks to my own high school experience. I remember being that age and all the fears, insecurities and apprehensions that came with it. I remember walking into the hallways of Cretin that first summer to sign up for freshman football. I knew no one, or so it seemed. Very few of my fellow 8th grade football teammates played freshman year, so it was me and a bunch of new kids. It seemed like they all had at least one

Edits Make The Good Better

As part of my 2013 New Year's resolutions, I've decided to put a serious push on finishing my BWCA memoir. Part of doing that required switching from my Wednesday Night writing workshop at AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop to a Thursday Night Book Writing class. Because I've grown to love my Wednesday Night colleagues, this will be a difficult transition. The upside to it all is that two or three former Wednesday-nighters will be in the Thursday night class, so I won't be among total strangers. What's the difference between the two classes? The Wednesday class is a setting where students read and then get critiqued by their peers. Because the reading takes place in class, not everyone gets a chance to be read every week. The Thursday reading takes place on your own time and you just bring your critique to class. It's like Wednesday, just more concentrated, or compressed. So, in preparation for the Thursday transition, I have been going through my manus

Hitchhiking To The Dance With My Gun

Last time, I talked a bit about my high school and how different I thought it was than the "average" high school experience people of my age. There's a few more things that are unique about my experience that I think are kind of interesting. For instance, there's probably not too many people that hitchhiked to high school. Yeah, well I got that privilege. There were a number of us who hitchhiked up Hamline Avenue to get to school. Most often, there was a parent of another Cretin student who would pick kids up one at a time, like dropped change. It wasn't always the same parent, but we had our regulars. Mine was Mrs. Martin, who took her son Bob and I to school almost daily. If she didn't make it though, some other kind soul did. I look back on it as kind of a weird occurrence, actually. I guess it was a different (read: safer) time, but there was still a lot of potential for things to go wrong. (This fear I have of getting in a vehicle only to find that th

My Four-Year Deployment

A little known fact is that I went to an all-male, military, Catholic high school. At the time I went there it was called Cretin High School . I don't think about it much until people mention their high school experience. Then when I mention mine, it strikes me how unique that experience truly was. I would like to say that it was a uniquely perfect experience, but I'd be lying. It was both good and bad, as most people's high school experience probably was. If I had to do it over however, I would likely change some things. (I'll talk about these later.) The school is in St. Paul, Minnesota and just across "the field," as it was called, was Derham Hall, the all-female, Catholic high school. Cretin ran a Junior ROTC program using a combination of active and retired military instructors, Christian Brothers, and lay teachers. As you can see from the picture, we wore military uniforms; green slacks, tan shirt, black tie, black socks, black shoes, name tag and

The Write Way

I've been doing a lot of messing around with pictures on Facebook lately. Part of it is just January boredom, and part of it has been a study in family history. Most of the pictures are black and white of me and my family and were taken in the 60's. It has been a lot of fun watching the comments and feedback from friends and family.  One of the coolest things to come out of the exercise has been to hear the background behind the picture from my sisters and mom. In most of them, I am quite young and I don't remember the circumstances around the photos. My sisters are a few years older and they have a much better recall of those days. When I posted a couple, I thought they were taken at one of our old houses. Both of my sisters corrected my assumption by telling me that it was actually a different house. They did this for several pictures and circumstances around the pictures. I say this because as a writer of memoir I realize a couple of things.  First of all it i

Googling To Distraction

As I was working on my book yesterday, I came upon the need to find out what a welder's helmet was called. I was trying to use a reference to it in a chapter, and wanted to find out if there were other, perhaps better or more eloquent terms for it. In so doing, I wandered into an article that told about retinal flash burn. Evidently this is the condition you get if you look at the flame of the welder without the protection of said helmet. Well that's great, but that's not something I wanted to know. I stumbled upon it in doing a Google search for welder's helmet. So now I know more about welding than I did yesterday. Go figure. I tell this story because it illustrates how easily we get distracted in this day and age of technology. Google (and the web) have made us easily distracted. Fifteen years ago, I would have had to look something like that up in the dictionary or, more likely, I would have just left the description at "welder's helmet" rather th


The NFL playoffs are upon us. I love this time of year for many reasons. One of the main reasons is it allows us to extend the holiday gatherings by joining friends to watch the Packers. While I love to watch football with Donna, the kids or even alone, its ALWAYS more fun to watch the playoffs with friends. Games mean more in the playoffs, so it's nice to have someone to high five, talk strategy with or, in worst cases, someone to lament with. Having said that I have compiled a list of things that I like and hate about the game of professional football today. Instant Replay - Bad for football. I abhor it. It slows the game down and we have created a generation of officials that cannot make routine calls without a "conference" for fear of being shown up by the camera. Now we have booth reviews of every score? Really? Why not booth reviews of every play? Seriously. New overtime rules - Good for football. Initially I wasn't keen on this system of giving both t