Showing posts from August, 2015

A Future of Moments

It was four years ago today that my brother Rob passed away. It's brutally apparent that while it gets more distant with each year, it will NEVER be something that I ever totally get over. At a wedding we were attending last night, I was talking to my son Ben and he mentioned he'd only been to three weddings. I asked him how many funerals he'd been to (and don't ask me why I asked him such a downer question) and he said only one, uncle Rob's. He then went on to say how it was the hardest thing he's had to go through, essentially an emotional roller coaster. I thought this was interesting because, while you think your kids have it together, you never really know what's going on inside at all times. I see "moments from heaven" every day as I move about my world. More often than not, as I'm walking to work, a song will come on my iPod that reminds me of Rob, and almost every time it happens, I sight a cardinal - a bird Rob used to listen to and

Labor Unrest

It is a twitchy time of year for me for a number of reasons. There is a restlessness that comes with the approach of Labor Day and, while I can't pin it to one thing, I can pin it to many.  Summer's End. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with summer, but it's largely love. I live for wearing shorts, a T-Shirt and sandals every day. It is comfortable, and I milk wearing this combination as long as I can. Sometimes it devolves into strange combinations like shorts and a sweatshirt, a combination my wife reminds me is less than stylish. It's just that I dislike wearing long pants. On the other hand, the "hate" part of summer is the long, hot humid days where your energy is just sapped. That never happens in the other 3 seasons. But, like I said, for the most part I am in love with summer. Back to School. I haven't been in school for many years, but with my kids going back to high school and college again, I always get a little nostalgic for t

Caught and Released

I had the chance to get out in a boat fishing with my daughter and my good friend (Uncle) Steve yesterday. Sarah bought herself a fishing license a couple of months ago and has only used it once this season, so was antsy to get out at least once more before she went away to Minnesota. All it took was one conversation with Steve and I knew it would happen. We went out to our favorite lake (Hey, I ain't no fool) and got to the launch at 6:00 AM. After about 20 minutes I had a Northern Pike on the line. It turned out to be small, but as always, it's nice to get that first one out of the way. Over then next hour and a half, Steve and I managed to get a half dozen fish in the boat. Sarah had only one and it shook the hook well before the boat and got away. Now, I know my daughter. She is fairly competitive and LOVES to catch fish, and I knew she was starting to get frustrated. Eventually she stopped trying and just sat and smoldered. After a few minutes and a bit of encouragem

Long Winding Roads

A little known fact to many who know me is that I actually have a degree in Anthropology, (What?). Well, actually, I double majored in Anth and Geography at the University of Minnesota . It was a long winding journey through college, one that took 5 2/3 years (the last year was part time) because of all the winding. Back then, college didn't cost your first born son and a small home mortgage. In fact, with help from my mom, I managed to get through school without one dollar in loans. It was a different time. A time when education cost what it should . Anyway, the winding I speak of started with a poorly defined major. I started out in Computer Science. When I was assured that that major was A LOT of math - not my strength, to say the least - I quickly changed to an undeclared major. I flopped around with undeclared as long as they would let me, so when pressed, I declared Anthropology, mostly because it was the I really liked the couple of classes I had taken in it. I'll

The Not So Main Event

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest and, for the most part, today was. There was a couple of hours however where I was performing computer support triage. ("I'm a mapper, Jim, not a Doctor!") Here's a little of how it went.  For reasons only I understand, I decided to update my son's Dell laptop that has sat idle for over eight months. When he finally gave up using it at that time, I wiped the hard drive and reinstalled Windows, thinking it would be a good "backup" laptop, which it is. But ever since I installed Windows 10 (which I've come to love) on my own Dell laptop, I've been thinking I should put it on his old one too. Because I am a helpless geek and it must be done. Tweet this Well, as it turns out, you must get all of your Windows 7 updates onto a computer before it becomes upgradable to Windows 10. Since the laptop had been out of the loop for so long, it meant at least six or seven "groups of updates". Why not

Finding All The Good

Last night I gave a Dirty Shirt presentation at the Oconomowoc Public Library. It was a sparsely attended affair, but it didn't prevent me from doing my full hour-long spiel. Those that were there were very engaged and seemed genuinely interested. I could have let the small group bother me, but as per my last blog post I chose to look at the upside and make the best of it. To beat a dead horse, the event was mostly good. And in the process of it all I came to some conclusions. I realized how lucky I am to be able to talk about not only my book, but all of my writing. This includes the process of how I got started. People are as much interested in how I got started as in what I've written.  My wife came along to help with sales time and I forgot how nice it is to have her in the room. We maintain a decent banter throughout, and because this audience was largely women, they related to her nicely after I had finished. She's a good sport, helping me schlep books around S

Philosophy Unleashed

As I was walking the dog yesterday morning, I got to thinking about my life. Frequently my walks with Toby are when I deal with the anxieties of daily life. I work things out, think things through and sometimes kick ideas around. Getting outdoors always helps me broaden my outlook and put things in perspective. So yesterday, I thought about how rich my life is and how lucky and blessed I am. And as cliche' as that may sound, it wasn't all roses. This is the way my inner-critic tainted head works. I thought of my house and how much I love being in it. It's a poor man's castle, built in 1922, and needs a zillion things fixed - chimney tuckpointing, a noisy furnace, and front steps with a good lean to them. But I also realize it has more living space and convenience than 85% of what the rest world has, so I'm not complaining. It's mostly good. And I thought about my teenage kids, and how it drives me crazy that they sleep until noon in the summer and that t

Concurrent Reunions

This past weekend I went back to Minnesota to celebrate our family reunion near St. Cloud. The event was held in a cottage/cabin built by my grandfather in the 1930's. It is a dazzlingly unique structure in that the logs used to build it were set vertically, not horizontally like most cabins. I heard this weekend that Adolph (my grandfather) said that was because "that's the way trees grow." It's hard to argue with that logic and a mighty unique structure came out of his thinking, so there's that. A word about my travels to and from Minnesota are in order first. I took the Megabus from Milwaukee to St. Paul, in order to free up cars for my wife and two kids who all had to work. Now, I've been on worse trips, but I did make a few observations. Things like, how about everybody switches their cell phone to vibrate for the duration of the 5 hour trip? It was like the Southern Bell and Telephone switchboard for a while there for crying out loud. One ringy