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Showing posts from September, 2013

Just Go

It was a busy weekend for me, in many ways busier than I would like. At the same time it was exactly what I needed. This is often the case with me and my introvert self. I always look forward to the weekend for a number of reasons, but the main one being - time alone. It's my chance to do what needs to be done around the house and once that's done, utilize my time as I choose. This usually entails a decent amount of outdoor time, some writing time and just loafing.

This weekend was different. I was slated for stuff all three days of it, Fri-Sun. Friday I spent at the Waukesha South High School football game. Both of our kids wanted to go, so all 4 of us, including my wife went. We like to support them and know a few kids on the team, so wanted to cheer them on. It was good, but the best part of it was catching up with a couple of friends before and during the game. Had I not gone, I likely would have stayed home and whittled the night away on my laptop. Seeing a football game…

The March to Parchment

I just got back from "Senior parents night" at my kids' High School, and no that does not mean Senior as in old, but Senior as in after Junior. It was an informational meeting to give parents ideas on timelines, financial aid, application deadlines, college requirements, etc. It was very informative, but brought to mind my own college prep experience of almost 35 years ago and how different mine was from my kids.

I went to a private, Catholic, all male, military high school. I went there in large part because my brother went there. Mom was always good about wanting a private education for us, in part for the academics, and part for the religious aspect of it. Four out of the six of us kids ended up graduating from Catholic schools so obviously it was a priority. Most of us graduated from college and none of us has entirely abandoned our Christian faith, so I guess you could count that as a double win.

But as we sat there talking about ACT scores and weighted grading and …

Sunday Morning Wake Up Call

Today was a perfect fall day. Temps in the lower 60's, crystal blue skies, no wind and just a hint of bite in the air. A good day to work in the yard, get a long bike ride in and walk the dog. It capped off a great weekend for me. Over the course of the weekend I got the chance to go fishing, get some book submissions in to some publishers and agents and see some old friends at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books.

For as good as the weekend was, the thing that sticks with me the most was something I saw in the paper first thing this morning. I don't normally spend much time looking at the obituaries, but for some reason one jumped out at me. In the middle of the page was a guy I used to work with who just retired about a year ago. He was 62, and the obit read something like "taken from this life way too soon."

You're not kidding.

I didn't work directly with this gentleman, but I knew him and said hi whenever I saw him. I wasn't close to him, we neve…

Books for the Bookish (and everyone else)

This Friday there is an event happening Waukesha called the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books. It's a series of workshops, talks and book signings that takes place every year at the University of Wisconsin Waukesha. There are tons of speakers, panels and sessions to attend and it's all free to the public. If you get a chance and live in the area, I highly recommend it. It's a great way to meet some great new and up-and-coming authors as well as maybe get a book signed by them. The talks are usually quite good too and are often audience interactive with questions at the end, etc.

One of my writing instructors, Kathie Giorgio is actually giving the keynote. She has just published her third book Learning to Tell a (Life)time, and will be reading from it and talking about the writing process as well. She and her husband and the AllWriters' studio have been instrumental in helping me jumpstart my writing. They work hard and push everyone to be better, to write better an…

Other People's Kids

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I got to spend a few hours with my nephew Nick and his wife today. They were in Madison and decided to make it a full weekend and came down to Milwaukee for a Brewers game. Nick has always liked the Brewers hearkening back to his college days when he used to come down for games when he could.

Nick is my godchild and we've always had a pretty close relationship. Over the years we've continued to make a point of getting together whenever we're in each others' range. We've been through some hard stuff together, but a lot more good stuff than bad.

We were recounting today how when he met my fiance' (at the time) Donna for the first time, I said to him, "This is Donna, she's going to be your aunt." Because Nick wanted no part in sharing his uncle with anyone, he said "She's not going to be my aunt."

Out of the mouths of babes.

Nieces and nephews are weird, beautiful things. When they are young, they're like rent-a-kids. You can have …

Silicon Joy

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I got to experience a little silicon joy today. (No, not that kind.) My son's computer finally is up and running only 3 weeks after we initially started working on it. But I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's backup a bit.

About six months ago Ben decided he wanted to build his own gaming computer. One of his friends had built his own and among the gaming community, it's the thing to do. You can build a much better machine for the money than you can buy out of the box.

Now I'll be honest, my first reaction was why? Why go through the pain and agony when you could buy one pre-built and get all the guarantees that come with it. If you build it and it doesn't work, you're left to figure it out yourself. These are not very happy thoughts coming from someone who considers himself technically capable.

After talking to a couple of friends, they convinced me that it was fairly easy and would be a great project to take on with my son. I liked that idea a lot. A few…

Looking Back Forwardly

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Two years ago last week, I lost my brother Rob to cancer. Throughout my life he and I were close. He helped shape who I am. We hung out. We were best buds. We raised our kids together. Our families were close. His passing was without a doubt the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with.

Like any tragedy or sadness, I'm doing my best to move ahead. While I miss him every day, when I look back at the last two years, his absence has taught me many things. It's brought clarity to what's important. Some of what I've taken from his passing is shared below.

I have no patience for negativity. Life is just way too short to be around Debbie Downers and people who are constantly negative, pissed off, or complaining. Because you know what? Life is hard sometimes. The problem is, it's hard for everyone at times. So quit your complaining and think about the people living in refugee camps elsewhere in the world. That will put your first-world gripe in its proper place. I'…

A Cabin Postmortem

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As I alluded to in my previous post, I spent the holiday weekend at the cabin in Mercer, WI. Most of my family from Minnesota arrived earlier in the week, but we've taken to just making it a long weekend.

The weekend was phenomenal in so many ways. It's impossible to cover them all in a single blog post, so I'll cover the "big story" and then some of the other highlights.

We arrived there on Thursday afternoon hoping to get an early morning fishing start on Friday. Early Friday morning, Steve and I went out to our favorite musky lake and started fishing. We tried all the usual spots and had no luck. Unlike our fall trips, we weren't trolling at all, just casting lures. I'll be frank in saying that I had my doubts about catching anything. Most of my muskies have been caught on suckers.

After about 3 hours of nothing we tried a quiet bay. Steve was intent on getting some bass fishing in and the area looked prime. Being calm, I switched to a surface lure th…