Posts

Showing posts from July, 2016

Meaning In A Meaningless Game

Image
I had the chance to attend my first Brewers game of the season a couple of nights ago. I won free tickets in a drawing at work for Bike to Work Week in May. The tickets were valued at more than $60 each, so this was clearly one of the better sets of seats I've ever had. I won four, but every person we asked to join us was busy it seemed, so it was just Ben and I. This was a good thing for many reasons,  the best one being that we just had some great laughs and together time, something we don't seem to get near enough of these days.

Now, neither of us are big baseball fans. I literally did not know more than 1/2 the guys on the field, and Ben knew even fewer. We both admitted that watching baseball on TV - with the exception of maybe postseason playoffs/World Series - is just something we've never enjoyed. At the same time we agreed that watching it live is much different, much more engaging. But, as many of you know, attending a game is not cheap. It is usually $150+ per g…

A Work In Progress

Image
I've never been one for enjoying yard work. It is a necessary evil to owning a house in both my and my wife's perspective. I know some people love it and they have beautiful yards to show for it.

God bless 'em.

But it isn't me. There was a day or two when I actually liked raising tomato plants. We bought our plants at the farmers market in Madison one year and had a great crop. We were successful urban farmers. So, the next year we bought a few more tomato plants and what happened? They contracted some sort of mold wilt disease.

So we stopped that nonsense.

I realize there's some people out there who would call us lazy, but I don't think that's fair. It's just that we loathe gardening and yard work. It doesn't trip our trigger. If I we had our way, we'd pave the entire back yard - maybe make it a skateboard park. Better check my insurance policy on that first. I'll get back to ya.


We've recently added some artwork to our garage in our at…

Fairly Full

Image
I went to the Waukesha County Fair yesterday with my two kids, Sarah and Ben. I've written about the fair before and if you know me, you know I'm a big fan of fairs of all size. I love everything from the small Parish Festivals to County Fairs all the way up to the big boys - the State Fairs. I love the food, the noise, the smells and the cheesiness of it all. It brings out the strangest cross-section of humanity which makes people watching one of the better parts of the whole thing.

One of the reasons we went to yesterday's fair on short notice was to see the Demolition Derby. These events are twenty minutes of hillbilly crazy. There's something viscerally satisfying about watching cars smash into each other as they spin their wheels in the mud. It's probably some sort of redneck gene in me that attracts me to it, but I can't seem to look away. My daughter had never seen the spectacle and when she sent a video to a friend, he texted back and said "That'…

The Best Days Are Now

Image
I dropped the car off for yet another expensive repair today (I don't want to talk about it.) and on the walk to work afterwards, I came to Frame Park in Waukesha. For some reason, I was stricken with a pang of nostalgia for my days as a young father.

My two kids and I spent A LOT of afternoons and early evenings at this park. Any of you who have slogged through the days of multiple small children know that going to the park is like a micro-atomic vacation from the rigors of parenting. For the most part we get to turn our kids loose and let them run feral around a dizzying array of dangerous, perilous playground equipment while we try to use at least part of that time gathering our wits and trying to remember what day of the week it is.

It's a little bit ironic that my 20 year old daughter is spending a few days a week this summer babysitting our friends' 3 kids, all under the age of 6. She loves it, and brings home the best stories of her day with them, but they have conv…

Think Time

Image
I've been thinking a lot about meditation lately. Not the transcendental type that came to popularity in the 70's, but rather experiences that are meditative for me. I rarely make time for just sitting and meditating, though I think that would be a highly beneficial activity. What I have discovered however is that I need a fair amount of meditative, introspective activity even if I don't think of it that way.

Take for example my biking. I bike to work every day in the 7 months of the year that we can in Wisconsin. Thing is, that is only about a 12 minute ride. What I do though is I bike for roughly 30-45 minutes every night after work during good weather. On top of my ride home, it is part of what I call my "wind down" time. The rhythm of pedalling and breathing gives me time to think - or not think - depending on how my day went.

Donna has become accustomed to my need for a ride. She knows I'm a better person when I've had one, than when I've not. Sh…

Spinning Plates

Image
I have to take a little time and devote it to all that has been happening in my writing world of late. It is fast and furious at the moment and all of it is good, but there are days where I feel like I'm spinning plates. Most of my issues are good problems to have, so please understand that I'm not complaining, just very busy. That said, here's what's going on at the moment:


The tragic LUV story about my cat Tonto, was finally published in an anthology devoted to pets and pet rescues. The anthology is from the "Memories from Maple Street, USA" series. I've had a couple of other memoir pieces published in, including, Leaving Childhood Behind and The Best Christmas Ever. This one is titled Pawprints on my Heart. If you love pets, especially dogs and cats, this would be a great little read. Lots of heartfelt memories about pets. All of the books in this "Memories from Maple Street, USA" series are compilations of short memoirs and are quite affordab…

Wrecked

It was a tough week for our nation, so as a result this will not my typical kind of post. I made the mistake of watching the Philando video on Friday and, essentially, watched a man die. Then, in some sort of dark moment, I searched for the Alton Sterling video and watched it. In essence, I watched another man die.

It wrecked me. It continues to wreck me.

I do not want to start a big debate about who was right or wrong. I realize both men had guns - one with a permit, one for personal protection. I am a person who feels putting a gun in any non-hunting situation usually brings about bad things, but if it is within the parameters of the law, well, who am I to say.

At the same time, both of these men were shot multiple times at point blank range - one with a child in the car. That one was for a broken taillight.

The day after the second shooting, an armed forces verteran sniper starts picking off cops. An unspeakable tragedy spurred by two other unspeakable tragedies.

Again, I don't…

Wrecked

It was a tough week for our nation, so as a result this will not my typical kind of post. I made the mistake of watching the Philando video on Friday and, essentially, watched a man die. Then, in some sort of dark moment, I searched for the Alton Sterling video and watched it. In essence, I watched another man die.

It wrecked me. It continues to wreck me.

I do not want to start a big debate about who was right or wrong. I realize both men had guns - one with a permit, one for personal protection. I am a person who feels putting a gun in any non-hunting situation usually brings about bad things, but if it is within the parameters of the law, well, who am I to say.

At the same time, both of these men were shot multiple times at point blank range - one with a child in the car. That one was for a broken taillight.

The day after the second shooting, an armed forces verteran sniper starts picking off cops. An unspeakable tragedy spurred by two other unspeakable tragedies.

Again, I don't…

A Composite Zen

Image
I have learned many things and re-learned a few during the construction of my front steps and walk over the past few weeks. Some are good life lessons, some are project specific and some just address insecurities I have in my own abilities - most of them unfounded. Here are a few of the more obvious ones that jumped out during those long hot hours behind a drill or on the handle of a chop-saw.


Measure twice cut once.  Better yet, measure twice, line up for the cut and then, measure a third time. Then cut. This goes for life too. Having a plan and checking it along the way helps make the experience go smoother. Not always, but mostly. Cut on the far edge of the pencil line. Along the lines of the previous suggestion, when you do cut your composite board, better to err on the side of too big. It's hard to add length to a cut board, easy to take away. Same goes for getting places on time. Better to be early and wait a few minutes than to show up late because you cut things too close.T…

Securing The Fort

Image
The Downside of Summer's Warmth

It appears that fifth season is upon us. No, not road construction, but rather Bee season. It visits my house every July and keeps me on my toes protecting this old castle of mine.

This years onslaught actually started last week while I was in San Diego. Evidently, Ben saw the wasps going into and out of a couple of small nests by our back door.

And we certainly cannot have that.

While I'm a big fan of honey bees, I have no time for hornets and wasps. I'm sure they serve a purpose, but frankly they scare the heck out of me, and I don't want them around. These past few years the long legged paper wasps have taken to various nooks and crannies of my house and garage. They typically start to establish a pretty good paper nest before I break out the killing techniques.

I typically have one two-step technique. Blast them with bee killer jet spray and run like hell.

Hey, it's effective.

So I hit the first three nests over my back door thin…

My Final Frontier

Image
More blogging from the road, or maybe tarmac is a better term. This time I'm in the Denver airport, which is beautiful if you're into malls and busy places. I'm not, but hey, I have an electrical outlet to myself tucked away from most of the main traffic, so I am happy. There is a great peace to anonymity for this introvert.

So, when I set up tickets for this trip, the only airline I could get a decent rate for along with an early arrival time in San Diego, was Frontier. I'd traveled with Frontier before, and didn't remember anything overly awful or traumatic about the trips, so I figured what the heck, how bad could it be? All flying is awful, so this couldn't be any worse, right?

Um, yeah.

It started with the paying for your bag. It seems that if you don't pay for your bag online ahead of time, ($30) it goes up to $40. Luckily, I checked ahead of time, so didn't have to pay the additional $10.

My trip started out with a thud. I was supposed to leave M…