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Showing posts from November, 2015

Ten Dollar Trip Around The World

Last night as a family we went and saw the new James Bond movie, Spectre. A couple of years ago we all went and watched Skyfall, so it was kind of a family tradition that our time together over this holiday made possible.

I don't get to many movies these days, so when I do it's a treat. After watching it, I now remember how much better seeing a movie is in the theater than watching it at home. For me, it is two and a half hours of escapism.

In the opening scene, at one point James Bond is fighting a villain inside a flying helicopter. When he finally defeats him, he then moves on to fight with the pilot. As they wrestle and punch, the copter zigs, zags and even flies upside down for a bit.

And in the midst of all of this action, there I am.

An hour before I was feeding the dog and hanging Christmas lights. Now, I was in an upside down helicopter over Mexico City. Not physically, of course, but in a wild fantasy sort of sense. The movie transported me out of my dull, mundanity …

Reasons for Thanksgiving

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Giving Thanks is Day to Day
It's the holiday we all take a moment to think of things we are thankful for. I have many. Here's just a few.


Faith. I was blessed to be raised in the parochial school system where religion was part of the curriculum. I was even luckier to be pulled along in my faith years ago by people like my friend Pat and continually challenged to seek deeper faith today by people like Brandon, Claude and Nick.Wife. We celebrated 25 years this summer by taking a trip to Nashville. She is still someone I laugh with daily, sometimes doubling over. And while we snip and snipe at times, she is still the best thing that ever happened to me. She taught me how to love.Kids. I don't know what we did right, but they came out pretty good. After years in the trenches fulfilling physical needs, then years meeting emotional ones, they're finally starting to find out who they are. Good students, compassionate hearts, smart and funny. I can't wait to see where they …

Sporting Lessons

My son has decided to join the swim team at Waukesha South this year. He's a junior and hasn't played a sport in high school. He played football back in 6th through 8th and a host of various sports before that. When faced with the prospect of being small with little chance for playing time as a Freshman football player, he opted out. I've always thought that my kids should play a sport in high school. I think it's important to be part of a team, if only once. 
I felt strongly enough about it that we encouraged Sarah to play volleyball as a freshman. She did. She didn't like it very much, but to her credit, she finished it. She actually would have probably made a better swimmer or track person, as those are individual/team sports instead of just team. You work for a personal best in those sports and no one challenges Sarah worse than Sarah. Alas, she did what we asked, hated it, and maybe came out knowing more about herself, her abilities and her role within a group…

Coffee, Canaanites and Comaradaerie

"A mechanical engineer, a metallurgist/tradesman, a GIS analyst, a bi-vocational pastor/photographer, an attorney, an optical salesman, and a stay at home father of eight walk into a coffee shop and..."

This is either the start of a great joke, or it comprises what has become one of the best hours of my week, every week.

Any combination from two to six of these guys show up every Thursday morning at Cafe De Arts, a local coffee shop in downtown Waukesha. The group started 3-4 years ago and I have been part of it for about two years now. I was asked to be part of it by the pastor/photographer, but having just left a "Bible study" group that went rogue on me, I wasn't ready to commit. The funny thing is, not two weeks later the metallurgist/tradesman invited me to the same group. I figured it was God's way of smacking me upside the head and saying, "What are you waiting for?"

The group was originally built around studying a book usually, but not exc…

Homework Again?

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It's been a while so maybe a writing update is in order. There is always something going on from a writing, publishing and promotion standpoint, it seems. You can only share so much on social media, so a good synopsis goes a long way.

First of all, as of tomorrow, I'm back in class at AllWriters. It has been about 15 weeks since I was part of the "Mighty Monday Nighters," so it's high time that I return. This isn't to say that I haven't written since I left, I have. It's just that being accountable to my peers as well as getting great feedback from them makes me better. Every week we bring in from 1-10 pages and after reading it front of the group, people tell us where it excels and where it sucks. (Well, that might be a bit harsh.) It is a very encouraging climate and I really miss the banter among the group. The best moments are the "word of the week." You don't want to be the person who gets called out for writing a word a half dozen t…

In The Trenches

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My daughter turned twenty this week, which makes me about thirty nine as I figure it. Twenty is one of those strange milestones as a kid that you kind of look forward to and dread all at the same time. Leaving your teens behind is probably a good thing any way you slice it, but at the time, as I recall, there is a bit of remorse that you are finally "grown up" in a way that even the age of 18 didn't bring. There's something about that number two digit.

As part of wishing her a happy birthday on such a landmark date, I wanted to put together some short videos of her as a child. I broke out the DVD's that my father in-law had dumped from videotapes and started my search. I came up with three defining videos that took me back to my days of early fatherhood that I look upon with both great fondness and hesitant nostalgia.

The first video is of the two of them dancing to Trisha Yearwood's "Under the Rainbow." Back then, Donna was selling Pampered Chef an…

Trees for Tots

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If you've followed me at all recently, you know my wife and I are part of starting a new church, called CollectiveMKE. At the moment, we're still fairly small, though growing two people at a time lately. I have come to really look forward to our Sunday morning "home church" meetings where we gather as 12-15 people and half as many kids. We have the greatest discussions about our faith, Biblical stories and just life events.
We were talking this morning about the story of the widow who gave only a couple of pennies. It moved us to talking about what it takes to change how we view the world. Person after person gave accounts of instances where doing something selfless or sacrificial led them not only to feeling better about themselves but also how blessings came back to them in some sort of circular flow. It's hard to explain. Actually, it's easier to just do it and see for yourself. 
An example from my own experience happened this past weekend. A guy from our c…

Plumb Broke

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We finally broke down and called the plumber to fix a laundry list of issues in our 93 year old house. Being brutally aware of the charge out rate of plumbers, we made sure we had exhausted all other measures; namely me plunging the sink and shower until there were no curse words left and my shoulder was like a wet noodle. (I didn't really curse. Okay, maybe once. On the inside. In a whisper.)

The guy was scheduled to come yesterday "around 8 o'clock." The first thing to realize is that plumbers get their watches from the same place as cable guys, appliance repair guys, and teenage children. So I stay home from work to meet the plumber at the appointed hour (of 8:48). To their credit, they were upfront with their charge out rates. It's $120 to show up, then, $120 an hour.

Now, when I'm paying that kind of coin, I think I should be able to just point to stuff and he, being a plumber should be able to deduce what the problem is. Kind of like plumber sign langua…

Seclusion Elusion

These past four days have been what I will term an introvert's nightmare for me. Lots of people, interaction, face time, small talk and networking. For a private person and a confessed introvert, it was a string of events that would make you cringe - I know it did for me, as the days unfolded. Usually I'm good for one social event a weekend, and if pressed, two. When faced with four in four days, well, I grind it out and deal with it. Here's what I was up against with my thoughts in italics.

Thursday to Friday Morning: (This will be good, but I'll need some downtime afterwards.) For work, I was at a two day regional conference in Oshkosh. Like most conferences this is wall-to-wall networking and socializing. Great stuff, all of it but I always come away from them wiped out from long days in sessions, lots of standing, walking, talking, restaurant food, late nights and early mornings. This one was especially good, as I met a couple of GIS guys I'd never met before. W…