Showing posts from January, 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 war

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

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 edi

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 ove

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

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

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

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 el

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 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. 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, reg