Showing posts from February, 2015

Parting Thoughts

I would like to wish this February a fond farewell. Well, maybe fond is a little strong. I'd just like to wish it farewell. Actually, in two days I'll happily say good riddance. February, the month people love to hate. March holds hope. January - well, it's got nothin' either, but February it's just February. (It's even spelled wrong.) What I'd really like to say good riddance to is not the month, but to winter. Unfortunately, that may not happen for a couple of months yet - at least not fully. My thoughts are not healthy or good this time of year. Some random thoughts and observations: My skin itches until it flakes off like sawdust, which then makes up 90% of the dust in my house. Who says you can't be everywhere at once? I hate the neighbor 3 doors down for putting a layer of salt 1/2 inch thick on his sidewalk. He's salinating our rivers and lakes, (if salinating is even a word. If it's not I don't care, because its February)  My

Collectively Gathered

People may or may not know it, but we are in the middle of the startup of a new church. It's called CollectiveMKE , and it is unlike any conventional church in a lot of ways. It stems in part from our soul-searching assessment of what "church" should mean. For roughly the past two years, Donna and I have been searching for a good church fit. We left Elmbrook two years ago this May. I finished up my time with the middle school ministry and we just kind of stopped going. I can't precisely say why, only that we seemed to have changed our thinking on what church, or the mission of the church, should be. We learned a ton during our stay at Elmbrook, and left it with no ill will, it just seemed like it was time to move on. We tried another church for a bit, whose mission fit ours quite nicely. But it turned out that because of distance and location, we couldn't engage with it like we would like. We wanted to be a part of the whole church, but that would have mean

Geo Geeks

I am in Green Bay the latter half of this week for the Wisconsin Land Information Association's Annual Conference. This is a gathering of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Professionals from around the state.  We get together a few times a year to talk shop, network and socialize. It is invaluable from a career development standpoint as it allows us to stay on top of trends, technology and to share ideas. There's a running joke among some of our spouses who have either been to this conference with us or heard us talk about it. The joke is that we never shut up about work. We "talk shop" into the late hours of conference nights after having sat in sessions all day. It's a bit twisted, but it's how we roll. Part of it is that we have so much technology and so much data that there's always someone trying something new or doing it better. We are geeks and that doesn't make us bad people. A good example of this is last night I was talking with

Windows Wait Point One

It's been a weekend of PC rebuilds around here. (Okay all you Mac owners can stop reading at this point and go about your business, as you probably won't be able to relate.) In the past two days I've had to reload Windows 8 to two different PC's. One was Ben's gaming super PC and the other was my little 11" Acer notebook. It has been the usual Microsoft melee. Before I go off and rant, I do have to say that with each version, Windows gets a little (notice, I didn't say a lot) easier to redeploy than the previous version. But Windows 8.0 is still not a turnkey solution, that much is true. It turns out that Ben's PC was blue-screening on him during game play. He said it worked fine for everything except games, so was willing to give the Operating System reinstall a shot. We tried many other things with no results, so a Windows 8 reload it was. How hard could it be after all? We did a little research and it looked pretty easy. I loaded the instal

Rochester Reflected

It was four years ago this weekend that I made my second trip to the Mayo Clinic to visit my brother Rob for the weekend. Rob had two chemotherapy treatments while he was battling his cancer, one in January and one in February. When I found out, I told Donna that I thought it was important that I be there over a couple of weekends if I could. I missed out on being there during his back surgeries, so wanted to support him during his therapy. These were difficult trips. Good trips; I'm so glad I made them, but difficult. I went up on Saturday morning and stayed overnight in the hotel across the street. Rob knew I was coming and I think he appreciated the company. Both times I brought a care package from Wisconsin, including his favorite cookies from Donna and a very rough draft of Dirty Shirt . He loved the cookies and said the book was "spot on". That review was worth more than every Amazon review to me. We had some crazy good conversations. We talked for hours about

The Envy of New

Last week at work, my coworkers and I got to talking about a person from another department who was in the process of building a new home in Waukesha County. The discussion ranged from all of the design decisions to the choosing of a builder, a lot, layout, etc. This is clearly not a task for everyone. I can barely choose between the two colors for wall and trim, let alone decisions like wall/door configurations, flooring material, countertops, knob styles, etc. Starter home? Anyway, the discussion moved to some of the designs this particular builder had. I went home and looked at some of the various collections online. These are, by my standards, gargantuan homes. They are all beautiful, but instead of names like "Signature Collection" and "Premier Collection," they should have names like "Castle Collection" or the "Out-of-Your-Price-Range Collection". What was more interesting was the effect looking at the interior of these homes had on

Writing Backwards

I'm back at writing the next book about my boyhood home and boy does it feel good. I seriously enjoyed the past eight months working on my poetry, but this feels good to come back to. While I love poetry, it forces you to not write - in some respects. At least it forces you to constrict your writing and be very choosy about word count and structure. Nonfiction allows me to run with an idea and hash it out. Most of my first drafts sound like it too, but that's why I get critiques. This last Monday I read and was critiqued on a piece about playing a game of pickup baseball on the playground across the street from our house. Like my BWCA book, one of the unsung benefits of writing memoir is reliving those moments. A well written piece can transport you to a different place and time. When I described falling on the asphalt while running at full speed, a few of the critiquers said they could feel my pain, based on what I had written. The same held true when I described how i

Not So Super Sundays

Well, that national day of mourning is upon us once again; Super Bowl Sunday. I can say that for a number of reasons, nine to be exact. You see, Donna and I come from a long history of teams that lost a super bowl. She grew up a Buffalo Bills fan and I grew up a Minnesota Vikings fan. Between us we have a combined 8 Super Bowl losses in our family. Throw in the 1997 Packer loss to the Denver Broncos, and well, that makes nine. Nine sad days. Nine letdowns. And this is nothing to say of the lost opportunities with NFC Championship chokes that the three teams have managed. That would add another nine. (There seems to be a trend here.) With perhaps the biggest NFC collapse in history happening two weeks ago at the hands of the Seahawks, well, just suffice it to say I will be watching tonight's game with great ambivalence and a bitterness that will take a while to go away. The debacle in Seattle deserves no more mention except to say that it eclipsed Gary Anderson's missed fi