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Showing posts from April, 2013

College Revisited

As I mentioned in my previous post, the U of M tour sparked a ton of memories for me of my days there. Most of them were positive, good memories. My wife and I were talking and agreed that our college days were some of the best of our lives. You're on your own, (even though I was living at home), you don't have the burden of a mortgage (again, living at home) and you are past the awkward high school years. Life is good.

When we toured Coffman Memorial Union, I told Sarah that when I was there, one of the bigger perks was the Music Listening Center. You could choose an LP you wanted to hear, and depending on the backlog, the DJ would tell you a channel to tune to and you would hear your record. Or, if you preferred, you could listen to one of the other 9 LP's being played. They gave you a nice set of Koss headphones and you got a small desk to sit at and work on homework or just relax. In light of today's iPod craze, it seems a little bit bizarre, but you have to reali…

The Halls Of Time

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Last weekend, among other things, we took a trip up to Minnesota for a University of Minnesota tour for my daughter Sarah. It's hard to believe she's looking into such things, as it seems like just last month I attended her preschool graduation ceremony. They grow up fast, to be sure.

Minnesota stands to be her college experience. She really liked everything she read on it before she left. It has a great foreign studies program, including a wonderful study abroad program. A somewhat bigger determinant might be that she'd be close to a lot of family. I graduated from "the U" in 1985, so would like nothing better than to see her close to family, attending the school that I did. It would make me incredibly proud.

We arrived on campus plenty early for the tour. I was shocked and awed by all the changes on campus. The first thing that caught my eye was the new TCF Bank Stadium. It was beautiful. It sits in a different spot than the old Memorial Stadium that I knew an…

On Dancing

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Last night we celebrated the marriage of my nephew at his wedding reception in Maplewood, MN. It was a great time with lots of food, laughter, words and music.

They hired a DJ and, like most weddings, the dance floor ebbed and flowed with people throughout the course of the evening. As was always the case, the young kids (ages 6-12) were first out on the floor because they are the least inhibited. After a couple of songs, the adults started trickling on, and after that it becomes a ripple effect. Those that like to dance tend to take the chance at weddings to release some inhibitions and cut a rug.

I am one of those. Truth be told, I love to dance.

This is not a good thing.

Those who have seen me dance can attest to my undeveloped sense of rhythm and style. If dancing has rules, I'm a felon. I'm a freestyler from way back and I intend to keep it that way. This never translates to a thing of beauty on the dance floor, especially given my height, but I'm OK with that.

Way b…

Treading Lightly

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Well, it's been another week of putting out fires around home and work. I took the car in for a simple oil change hoping they'd try and not hard sell me an overpriced air filter, flush job or blinker bulb. No worries there, except that he said our battery needed replacing. Oddly enough they "had a special" running and could get me one for $100.00. Needless to say, I didn't bite. I will cross that bridge soon enough, but I wanted to do a little homework myself before I pulled the trigger.

Then, on Monday morning, my wife tells me the dryer had stopped spinning. I "fixed" that problem a couple of years ago when I replaced the belt under the advisement of a friend who said it was fairly straightforward. So when I got home from work, I popped the hood on it and it looked like the belt was OK. I spun the drum a few times, and shimmied (a technical term) the belt to make sure it was moving and then put it back together.

Turn it on and no joy. Actually it tur…

Three To Get Ready

I'm about 8 weeks into my Thursday Night book writing class and I've learned a number of things about the whole writing process as a result. I look at this as my third run-through of the book I've been working on for the past 3 1/2 years or so. Each of the edits has revealed different things and it is interesting to see how I've matured as a writer through the process. It's far from a "finished" process, but I feel like I've got a much better understanding of how to take a story and, depending on the day either pound it or mold it into submission. Below is a description of what each edit was like.

Edit #1. (3 years ago)
This first run through of all of my stories that make up the book was more an public airing of my writing shortcomings than an actual edit. True, you have to start somewhere, but when I look back on some of my first pieces, they were pretty rough. My instructor said they were like me telling her the story from a bar stool. That is, they…

Racing Toward 100

I was talking to my wife the other day and mentioned a book I wanted to read. She then countered with the fact that there's really not enough time in either of our lives to read all the good books we want to read. We're both so busy with living life, paying bills, raising kids, and the rest of it that reading fits into the last 45 minutes of our day, if we're lucky. It's hard to get through a book, 45 minutes at a time, but we still make an effort because we both love to read.

Fast forward to today. It was another one of those days. No, not a bad day, just a day of recognizing the urgency with which I feel I need to live my life. I watched a video on Donald Miller's site  that was just people from 1 to 100 years old saying their age. It was interesting to see the change in people's faces as the video went along. More importantly, it reminded me how short life is.

I've got a friend in the GIS field who just lost his vision. It's coming back slowly, but i…

A Guest In The Guest House

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On Easter Sunday this year our whole family served breakfast to over 80 homeless men at the Guest House in downtown Milwaukee. A couple of months ago, a friend of ours who works at the shelter mentioned that they are always looking for volunteers. Donna thought it would be a good way to spend our Easter Sunday. Get outside our comfort zone a bit, and have an Easter "outside the box." I was hip on the idea the minute she mentioned it. I love service projects and am always keen on getting my family out there with me/us for a number of reasons. This particular one did not disappoint in that respect.

One of the differences between this agency and say, just serving a meal in a soup kitchen, is that a group leader is assigned to raise donations for all of the food and materials for the meal. It's sort of an all encompassing project in that you solicit, buy, bake and serve the entire meal. We were both shocked and awed by the way people rose to the challenge and pitched in to …

Lamentations In Lieu of Lithium

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Winter hasn't quite given up on this part of the state yet. Today was a brisk 37 degrees for a high. Thirty seven! If we had had rain, well, it would have been snow. Throw on top of that the raging gale wind and it felt like about 25 degrees out there.

One would say, this is April in Wisconsin, deal with it. To that I say, Poop.

It has been a long grueling winter around here, no matter how you slice it. I remember in December, we had very little snow, and I thought, "Hey, this ain't bad. December's already over and we barely have any snow. I can do this!"

Well, January rolled around and suddenly time stood still, the sun stopped rising, dog walks dropped to one a day and that was usually a short one, snow started falling and never stopped, the furnace clicked on and stayed on, the sky turned grey, the wind is always blowing hard out of the northeastsouthwest, the walk is always iced over, the dog can't find a place to poop without dragging his butt in a snow…