Thursday, January 29, 2015

Plug In Cars (before they were fashionable)

From an automotive standpoint, this time of year was always a tough one growing up in Minnesota. It wasn't just because winters were brutally harsh, it was partly that cars just weren't as well made as they are today. Now we have fuel injection, heated seats, better battery technology, rear defrosters, remote starts and even heated mirrors.

Where I grew up, we had a small one car garage that had to be opened manually. Often times, the snowbanks were so big that it took about 27 shifts of the tranny to jockey Mom's old Chevy Impala into the garage - that was when there was room to fit it IN the garage. More often it was cluttered with motorcycle parts or other clutterables. Mom sometimes parked it there in an attempt to give it a prayer toward starting on those really frigid mornings in January and February.

These were the days when our neighbors who owned a big rear-wheel drive Oldsmobile Toronado used to actually take his battery into the house overnight to keep it warm. This might seem like extreme behavior coming from those of you living in warmer climes, but as their neighbor, we totally got it.

Between  the car battery coddling, and the 100 yard extension cord they ran out to the radiator heater element, well, every day was an adventure. Again, plugging your car in was not strange behavior at all. I was a little surprised to see it wasn't practiced as much in Wisconsin when I first moved here. (Though it was around if you looked hard enough.)

In a related bit of winter insanity, whenever possible, Mom always parked her car with the rear end to the wind because she thought that the wind blowing into the grille made it harder to start. Thing is, I think she was probably right. It made sense anyway, despite the claims that "windchill doesn't affect cars". It was a probably some sort of urban myth, but up there, man, you'll try anything to give you and edge.

My first car was a 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass with 104,000 miles on it. It had very little going for it at this stage in its life. But when you're 17 you tend not to think too rationally when someone offers you a running car for $400.

About the only appealing thing this car had in the winter months was its snow tires (which I ran year round, because, who can afford new tires?). The heater worked on two speeds, but not the highest. The defroster was sorely inept and the rear window was a window in name only from November to March. It was so frosted up most of the time that it might as well have been plywood.

One of the miracle cures for the Cutlass when it wouldn't start in the winter was to spray some "starting fluid" into the carburetor. In essence this stuff was like spraying pure gas into your engine. Unfortunately like any good drug addict, the Cutlass got more and more dependent on it to start.

1977 Plymouth Volare awaiting unburial
One night on my way home from the Christmas party that was thrown by the restaurant I worked for, the car started choking and spitting. Eventually it died. Starting fluid did nothing. Then, eventually I killed the battery trying to start it. My brother came and rescued me, got it running again and we limped it home.

It sat in front of the house until it got plowed in and I got a parking ticket.

Rear of house
Eventually I managed to move it over to the St. Luke's parking lot so the ticketing would stop. After diagnosing that the fuel filter must have been clogged, I tried to change it myself. In so doing, I managed to split the fuel line. Oh, the humanity!

A week later, I junked it for $50. Winter won the battle.

Now I'm not saying that winters are any easier than they used to be. They are long, grueling months. But when it comes to cars, things are appreciably easier. All season radial tires eliminate the need for snow tires, no one plugs in their car anymore (for the most part) and other than an occasional dead battery, fuel injection has made cars much more reliable starters.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

Blogging off...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Universal Specks

My 16 year old son said the other day how he is becoming aware of how acutely we are tied into the small meaningless and meaningful moments in our lives. Some of his awareness was spurred by shots from the Hubble telescope.

In a related incident, earlier in the week, a friend of mine posted a video called Gigapixels of Andromeda which through some amazing photography and video enhancement showed the sheer size of our nearest spiral galaxy, Andromeda. His comment to the post was that this video was just amazing. In a funny side note, someone posted in the comments that they "didn't get it", or didn't understand what was so amazing about it. The amazing thing is the enormity of it all, This is ONE galaxy, out of many galaxies, and it is infinitely big.

If you watch the embedded video, you will see that small chunks of this beautiful picture reveal that there are multiple, multiple layers to Andromeda. I'm no scientist, but I am fairly certain there are stars in that galaxy that would dwarf our sun many times over.

It was a combination of these photos and my son's sudden cosmic awareness of his young adulthood in a big wide world that spurred our discussion over dinner. He thought it was fascinating that our world is a closed system and that everything that is will one day be dust - and repeat. He said it was hitting him how little our lives were, but that the guy sitting across from us in a restaurant or school, has an equally small life, complicated by problems, joys and sorrows. It was not a depressing talk at all, more of an awakening or a revelation by him of the world and cosmos around him. Welcome to adulthood.

And it was his discussion with me that led me to contemplate my own place in the universe, in this brief speck of history I happen to be in. If I didn't have a great faith, I'd wonder even more what our purpose was here on earth. And between the incredible vastness of our universe and the moments of beauty and brilliance that make up our lives, I am only further convinced that God is behind it all.

As a writer of memoir, I am constantly looking back at events in my life. Thankfully, I've had a great life and most of my memories are good ones. If you look back on your life, hopefully the good memories outnumber the bad. As much as we need to look ahead to what is coming, I am a firm believer that we will look at the future with a healthier, less worrisome perspective if we look back at the good that has brought us to where we are.

I'm speaking of good things, moments of beauty, significance and perfection, like:
  • The first time you held hands with a girl (or boy).
  • A memorable Christmas gift or moment.
  • The thunder of Niagara Falls - Because if you have ever taken the Maid of the Mist to the edge of the falls, it is a religious experience.
  • Experiencing the birth of your child, or a child of someone else.
  • Riding in a car with your high school friends and listening to the radio.
  • Your first rock concert.
  • Serving in a soup kitchen.
  • The exhilaration of skiing or sledding down a steep hill.
  • A perfect sunset on a still lake.
  • Your graduation, promotion, or other significant recognition.
  • Watching your child in a play or orchestra event.
  • The sweeping vastness of the South Dakota Badlands or Grand Canyon.
  • The meditative quality of the ocean surf.
These simple moments are spread throughout the much more numerous mundane moments that make up the majority of our lives. It's easy enough to recall them -and there are hundreds of them - and if we remember to, it makes the future that much richer and more hopeful. We are but specks in the universe, but that certainly doesn't mean that our lives don't have deep meaning. 

And that's about as deep as I can get on a Sunday in January.

Blogging off...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Man Inside

The life of a writer is full of ups and downs. The excitement of an acceptance for publication can be quickly offset the next day by the struggle of trying to get 200 words out of your head and onto the page. Thing is, we put this burden on ourselves because the other option, not writing, only seems worse.

The view from my writing chair has been unquestionably positive lately. Lots of recent successes, fun promotional opportunities and even a new submission here and there. All of those things are good. At the same time, I spend too much time beating myself up about what I'm not doing - not putting out significant amounts of new material, not getting to my Portland Avenue book like I should, and not promoting heavily enough.

I blame it all on this little guy in my head that likes to trip me up. The old inner critic.

So, my goal is to focus on the positive, the successes of late and what may be upcoming. If I only get 300 words done a week, but have 2 submissions and a good editing session, well, that's enough. I need to remember that I have this 40 hour a week job that takes it's toll on the whole creative process as well. As jazzed as I may be about "getting to some writing" when I leave work at 4:30 every day, more often than not by 8:00 PM I'm spent. I should probably take up the 6:00 coffee habit. Yeah, that'll help.

I'd like to share a few successes and writing related tasks that I've had this past week in an attempt to remind myself that it's not always about how many words you type in a day.

  • I had a really fun interview with Bob St. Pierre and Billy Hildebrand of KFAN Radio FM 100.3 last Saturday. They are a couple of great outdoorsmen, and it was fun laughing with them and telling them a little about Dirty Shirt. They even reference something I've never heard before, a Lumbersexual. Like a Metrosexual but more woodsy. A lot more. My portion of the interview starts at 29:50. Check it out, HERE
  • An anthology (a collection of short stories arranged around a theme) with one of my stories, Closet Pyromania, was released by Main Street Rag a pre-sale discount this week. Check it out HERE. My story is a comically funny "near tragedy" that happened when I was 7 years old.
  • I submitted my final manuscript, bio and head shot to eLectio Publishing for my Written Life poetry collection. The collection is scheduled to be released on March 31st.
  • I scheduled my release party for Written Life today. It will be at Cafe De Arts on Saturday, April 11th from 2:30-3:30. I can't wait!
  • I had the privilege of personalizing two more copies of Dirty Shirt while I was in Minnesota last weekend. The people getting them were truly excited about reading it. There is no cooler feeling in the world than knowing that they will be reading my work.
  • I saw that four copies of my book were "on order" for four libraries in Ramsey County Minnesota. (Roseville, Maplewood, White Bear Lake, and Shoreview.) I attribute these acquisitions to the recent newspaper blurb that I got from the Pioneer Press. Check it out HERE. You cannot put a price on a good newspaper review.
  • I got an email the other day out of the blue from a brother of a grade school classmate. He said he was looking through his library app for new books to read and came across my name. He clicked on it wondering if it was the Landwehr name from his neighborhood. Anyhow, he read the book in two days and said some really nice things about it. That kind of thing makes the whole effort worthwhile. Royalties are nice, but a good review stays with me forever.
  • I submitted three different short stories (memoir) to two different magazines this past week. The reason I do that is if they get published, and I include them in the Portland book, it gives the material credibility going into publication. The publisher appreciates stuff that's been vetted and that they know will sell.
That's just a smattering of what last week brought to me. All of it good, all of it hard work, and all of it necessary to be successful. 

And so, despite the constant battle with the little man in my head, I love every minute of this ride, and I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Oh, and he needs to shut up.

Blogging off...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Road Trippin'

Well, I took yet another road trip this weekend. This time it was to Minnesota to bring my daughter back to the University of Minnesota. For the first hour and a half, we talked and talked. Sarah told me about her friends back home and her college friends too. It was a good chance to catch up with her in an environment where we wouldn't be interrupted.

As the Santa Fe chugged along I also had a lot of time to think. One of the things I thought about was how much I love road trips. Donna and I both know people that "don't like road trips". We both find this hard to comprehend.What's not to like? The long hours sitting in the same position? The drone of the road? The traffic and near disasters?

Part of this is caused by the fact that our marriage is built upon being in a place that is far from both of our families. My family is in Minnesota and hers is in New York state. This means we have to travel significant distances to see either or both of out families over the course of a year. Minnesota is a 5 hour drive and New York is 12 hours. We've both done each several times. It's part of who we are.

Our trips have evolved over the years from young, in-love newlyweds, to young parents of small children (Lord, how did we do it?) to parents of teens who sleep most of the way for any trip.

Because we travel so much, we've developed certain routines and activities that we do during the rides. I like to listen to my iPod and eat Twizzlers. Donna is a reader and, more recently a phone junkie - when there's a signal. The kids have evolved from sitting in car seats drinking from sippy cups and munching on goldfish, to listening to music, playing crazy YouTube videos and texting. They NEVER complain any more, and really haven't for many years. They know it's how we roll and they roll with it. Good kids with a travellin' bone.

Of course we've had a few bad trips. A couple of them finished with one or the other of the kids SCREAMING at the top of their lungs for the last half hour. Those are fun.

Winter travel has left us stranded a couple of times. The last time was in South Bend, Indiana when we had acceleration issues with our van to the point of being dangerous. We stayed a nearly sleepless night in a hotel that took pets (we had our dog, Toby with us), when Toby barked every time the elevator moved or people closed a door. Not our best trip.

The thing I like best about road travel is the mindlessness of it all, Lots of long hours with nothing to do but think and zone out. Of course there's the anticipation of arriving at a place you really want to get to, but the long hours of down time is really nice. For me, there's lots of reminiscing and thinking and praying. It's a time when I work things out in my life. Road time is good time.

You see some crazy things on the road too. We passed this vehicle today and were lucky enough to snap a shot. There's fans and there's fanatics. This would be the latter.

And so, as we get older, I realize these trips won't last forever. There will come a time when we prefer to fly. But for now, I'd rather drive.

Blogging off...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nurse Lite

So, I went to the doctor the other day. I know this is a sentence you never want to hear, and I'm not one who likes the gritty details of anyones bunion surgery or corn removal, but this was such a traumatic event, I thought I should share.

For a few weeks I was getting that feedback sound in my ears when I chewed or yawned. I was also having more difficulty hearing than I usually do. In the past when I've had these symptoms, I went to the doctor and they did an ear canal flush. I self-diagnosed my condition and made an appointment.

Now, because I'm sure my doctor has more important things to chase down on his schedule than a little ear wax, when I was offered the services of the Nurse Practitioner, I told them that would be fine.

When I show up for the appointment, I registered and was told to take a seat. Within 5 minutes a nurse called me in. As is usually the case, this nurse wasn't "the nurse practitioner".  This was nurse "lite". I don't know if she was an LPN, an RN in training or the administrative assistant filling in for someone who was sick. I figured no worries, because she's just going to weigh me and get my blood pressure anyways. Then I'd fall under the responsible care of "the nurse practitioner". No blood, no foul - in a manner of speaking.

Well she took the vitals from me using a height measurement that was an inch too short and a scale that was seven pounds heavy. Not a biggie, maybe I'm just not the person I once was - in a manner of speaking.

After that, she told me she'd take a look in my ears. When she did, she said there was blockage and that regarding a flushing, she'd "give it a whirl".

Now, I don't know if you've ever had an ear flushing before, but it's a little like putting your ear up to a fire hose and openin' 'er up.

They basically take a Windex bottle with a long pointy hose on it (and a nice splash shield to keep the water where it belongs, namely swirling around your cranium) and fill it with warm water. What follows next is when the fun begins for them and ends for you.

I was instructed to hold the drip-cup. Then, nurse-lite put the pointy end of the waterboarding bottle in my ear and just started blasting away.

It's hard to describe the sound this makes when one's eardrum is being pummeled with water travelling at the speed of sound.

It's kind of a Wooshucka, Eeeeee, Wooshucka, Eeeeee, Wooshucka, Eeeeee!

It sounds like a Sasquatch singing Warren Zevon...backward.

It's a bit like someone taking an egg beater to your brain. At least that's what it feels like.

So as I slowly draw away from the ouchy-pointy, water-shooting torture hose, she follows my lead by pushing the tip further in to compensate for my leaning away. It now feels like I could probably reach the hose from inside of my other ear if I tried hard enough. I'm sure it was only at the surface, but it felt much deeper.

When I flinched, she said, "Are you having some pain?"

Well, I'm not picturing myself on a beach with an umbrella drink, put it that way.

"A little," I lied.

"Oh, sorry," nurse lite said. She then proceeded to hammer away with the hose of death twenty more times. I couldn't help but wonder if she didn't have a bald, 6'5" relative in her family that she hated.

After she had pushed me to the brink of a Wednesday insanity, she looked in the ear and was disappointed in the results.

"I'd better stop now. It's kind of red. I'll get the NP in and she can give it a whirl."

I wanted to say "Hey, you'd be kind of red too if someone took a firehose to you for 5 minutes straight, so cut my drum some slack here."

Oh, and no more whirls please.

The Nurse Practitioner came in and took a peak herself. After a bit more aural fire hosing, she took her magic light up pen/wax extractor and went in. When it was halfway through my skull, I flinched a bit.

"Oh, are you having some pain?" she asked.

No, on the way through my eardrum your device must have nicked my cerebral cortex on the "twitch synapse". No worries.

"A little," I lied, again.

"Sorry about that," she said and kept doing it.

After the right ear was sufficiently cauliflowered, she did the same to the left.

To her credit she was gentler with the spray bottle lobotomy than "nurse lite", but there was still a lot of Wooshucka, Eeeeee, Wooshucka, Eeeeee, Wooshucka, Eeeeee, going on.

When it was all over and done with, I could hear like a new man. I was sketchy on my middle name and current address, but the hearing thing was golden.

So, I've taken to getting some over the counter ear drops to keep from having to relive this auditory assault ever again. A few gentle drops every couple of weeks keeps the doctor away. Can you hear me now?

Blogging off...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bits and Pieces

With the holidays now behind us we're beginning our winter doldrums free-fall around here. We've just come out of our first long stretch of cold weather/polar vortex today. It got up into the twenties and it felt like 50, let me tell you. I was out clearing driveways and widening paths because around here, you never know when the next stretch of arctic air is going to churn our way. I think of our friends in Nashville during those stretches with great envy. I realize if it's cold here, it's "cold" there, but it is all a matter of perspective. They don't get "hurt your face" kind of cold like we do here. I think Nashville is in my retirement plans somewhere.

And while the dark days of deep January and February are looming, life goes on. There is a lot going on in our lives, so I'll try and run down a few of the highlights.

  • Perhaps the biggest news came right after the New Year. My poetry collection was accepted for publishing by eLectio Publishing. Written Life is a collection of over seventy poems arranged by theme, and will be released on March 31st, 2015. This is another dream come true and I couldn't be happier! Check my website or Facebook for updates as the date gets closer. 
  • My daughter Sarah has been home since a week before Christmas. It has been SO good to have her around. She completes our family. As we sat around the dining room table last night eating tacos, it was so nice. Everyone was laughing and teasing each other. Her and Ben have grown into such great young adults, that I sometimes wonder what we did to deserve them. Anyways, she heads back a week from yesterday, and it will once again become uncomfortably quiet around here again.
  • Dirty Shirt got a decent blurb in the St. Paul Pioneer Press today. Dave Orrick from the sports department saw to it that it got in. It was a short piece, but was a good review nonetheless. I will take what I can get.
  • I'm still enrolled in the AllWriters' Monday night workshop. I will be directing my efforts to the next book about the house I grew up in. It feels great to be getting back to it. 
  • My nephew Nick comes back from Kuwait a week from tomorrow. He is an airman in the Air Force, and it is always  a GREAT relief when he returns from a tour of duty. Answered prayers.
  • Donna and I are in the process of helping with a church start-up. I can't say too much more about it other than it will be a big leap of faith for both of us. Exciting times. More later.
  • The playoffs have rolled around and the Packers won a nail biter today. Off to Seattle. It is nice to have a team that is in the hunt every year at this time. After a while you take it for granted. 
That is a bit of what winter is giving me at the moment. I hope yours is bringing you good things as well. 

Blogging off...

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ten Years Writing

Tonight I am attending the 10th Anniversary of the opening of AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop, a creative writing studio in downtown Waukesha. The studio hosts a "Friday Night Free For All" event four times a year where students and faculty of the studio share their work in front of a local audience of students, friends and the general public. I've read a few times at these events and they're a lot of fun. The events have outgrown the studio's space so they are now held at the community room at the local Baptist Church.

The reason I mention this is that this studio has everything to do with my success as a writer, (and I  feel like I'm just getting started), and I feel it deserves mention again.
  • It is the sole reason Dirty Shirt came to be. 
  • It is the sole reason Written Life -my forthcoming poetry collection- came to be. 
  • It is the sole reason my 9 non-fiction pieces were published
  • Same goes for the 18 poems I've had published in various magazines
  • Ditto for the 3 fiction pieces.

I've told the story many times that when I walked into the studio 6+ years ago, I wasn't sure I was cut out to be there. Apprehensive about meeting and working with established writers, I thought I might be in over my head when the first class I "audited" began. 

Well, by the end of that class I knew that this was EXACTLY where I belonged.

A writer among writers. 

The studio and it's students have pushed me to be better, albeit in an entirely encouraging and fun environment. Every week I come away with a better sense of worth; that my writing means something to people - even if it's just the group that night. 

Each week we are asked what our goal for the week is. It can be anything from a couple poems, to a short story to a chapter in an working novel. The thing is, I take this goal setting very seriously. 

There was a saying that said "Being a writer is basically like having homework every day for the rest of your life." 

I think this sums it up nicely. 

I've met some amazing, fun, brilliant, beautiful people through this studio. Buddhist poets, YA Fantasy writers who take me to strange and wonderful lands, mystery writers with day jobs, memoirists trying to heal from hurts, and innumerable wild fiction writers who write about everything from an opera star flea to witches, warlocks and shape shifting dogs. 

The writing is all a little crazy, dreamy, eclectic, creative, mind blowing, sensory evoking, sad, happy, joyful, despondent, dark, repulsive, and redemptive.

If you are at all thinking that you'd like to write someday, the single best piece of advice I can give you is to get into a group. It will make you a better writer and if the group has the right chemistry, it will make everyone better.

That's what AllWriters does. Makes everyone better. This past year there were 19 books published by students of the studio. NINETEEN. Tell me how that cannot speak for itself.

And so, I'd like to say, Happy Birthday, AllWriters'. You've made the literary world a better place. 

Here's to the next 10 years!

Blogging off...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Running Down The Writing

Time for an update about all things writing related as there's been a few interesting developments in the past couple of weeks.

  • Definitely the biggest news is that I have a poetry collection contract with eLectio Publishing! I am awaiting the final details before its signed and sealed, but if all goes as planned, my collection of 80+ poems will be released in paperback and eBook on March 31st, 2015. I am very, very excited about the whole thing! I am especially happy about the potential to build on the momentum that Dirty Shirt has started.

I've had a number of people tell me that they're not poetry fans but that they like my poems. I hope that plays out to those that follow me with this book. My poetry tends to be fairly concrete - nothing too flowery or sing songy here. The book will have as many as 10 themes each of which will have 5-8 poems. There are poems of love, and life, sadness and joy, houses and pets and many other topics. Many of them have a humorous element, but there are a lot of introspective pieces as well. There truly is something for everyone here and I hope people who like my work will give it a try. In my opinion it is a great follow-up to Dirty Shirt and with many of the topics based on the next book, it will tie in quite nicely.

  • Another big recent development was my book review that came out in the Waukesha Freeman on New Years Eve. It was written by Tom Jozwik, a freelance writer for the Freeman and it really gives the book kudos. He quotes the book in many places and it was clear that he read and enjoyed the book. This professional review will hopefully allow me to get the book into the Waukesha Public Library.

In an interesting side story, the reporter asked me if I was related to a Jack Landwehr who taught for a time in Indiana. Strangely enough that is my uncle. He was in the priesthood for a bit and taught high school in Indiana and actually taught Tom Jozwik. And when I showed the article to my brother in-law Mark, he said "I acted in a play with Tom a few years back!" So it is really a strange interwoven mess, but a cool one. Such a small world.

  • On Friday I learned that one of my entries into a "Best Lists of 2014" contest took an honorable mention and will be posted on the Neutrons/Protons Magazine's website on Monday 1/5/2015. While this is not a huge deal, it was a lot of fun to put this list together. Mine list is the Top ten most annoying words or phrases of 2014. I solicited the help of my wife and daughter and we came up with a funny list. Check it out tomorrow.

  • In the next couple of weeks I should be doing another radio interview with KFAN 100.3 FM in Minneapolis. These promotions all help and I'm getting more comfortable doing them every time.

  • My memoir piece on the house fire should be coming out in the Main Street Rag anthology sometime this spring. With January upon us I can start to think spring, can't I? (This coming on the night before we are slated for -57 below wind chills tomorrow morning. Seriously.)

With all of that going on, I am still busy marketing Dirty Shirt when I have time, but even more exciting is I am now able to turn my efforts more seriously to the next book, which I am referring to as "The House Book" right now, for lack of a working title. I really want to get working on this, but like I said, I'm juggling a lot of bowling pins right now, so it's a balance. All good. I couldn't be happier right now.

So, that's where I'm at. For more current information, check on my writing site at:

I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a great year too. Here's wishing you and yours health and love in the new year!

Blogging off...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Five for Fifteen

As the new year begins, I'd like to address two lists of ten things. One is a list of things I noticed in our culture in 2014 that are disturbing, annoying or just bad. The other list is things I would like to see happen in our society/culture/cities in 2015. Sorry if the first list seems a little Andy Rooney-esque, but you might find some of these same things if you look around enough.

2014: Annoying Tendencies

  1. People driving with the white glow of their phone at or just below dash level. I suppose this has been going on for a few years now, but it seems to be out of control. I have no way on how to stop it short of making it a misdemeanor.
  2. Disney movies with the predictable cast of good guy/girl, stupid/wisecracking sidekick, love interest, villain with henchmen sidekicks. Oh and do they all have to have the pop song dance sequence in the middle of them (or worse, sprinkled throughout.) I haven't seen Frozen yet for most of the above reasons. Take an animated movie, regurgitate it and replay. Ugh.
  3. Athletes jumping in the stands. Haven't we seen this enough?
  4. Big flags unfurled, smoke machines, jets overhead, fireworks, and blaring rock music before a football game for say, week 7 of the season. I'm not unAmerican, but c'mon, it's just week 7. Kick off already.  
  5. Tights are not pants.

2015: Things I'd like to see.

1. The cost of two fighter jets flying overhead at a football game being put toward expansion of the kitchen at the Guest House homeless shelter in Milwaukee. That would make the crowd stand up and cheer just as loud, is my guess.
2. A Black Friday where no one shows up. Google Black Friday videos and you will agree, trust me. People turned into animals.
3. Light rail, streetcars or some alternative to buses and cars in Milwaukee metro. Seriously, people!
4. Less black people shot. Less white people shot. Less cops shot. Less harmless bystanders shot. Less shooting. Less guns. Less two year olds shooting their mothers in Walmart. Less media spin on everything. Again, seriously people!
5. A functional Legislature. 

So that's it. There's much more to gripe about and hope for, but talking about it here isn't going to change any of it. That is where my challenge comes to everyone. I encourage and challenge each of you to go out into your community, your city, your school and your world and make it better. Pay something forward, volunteer, be nice, say thank you, be gracious and polite, put yourself in others' shoes, donate money, donate time, look outside your comfort zone, correct injustice.

But most of all be nice.

Blogging off...