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Showing posts from July, 2018

Righting The Ship

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It was an up and down week for me. Wednesday was especially difficult, one of those days you kinda hate yourself, for no good reason, probably. All it takes is a few things to go wrong in succession and suddenly all you've done to be who you are seems insignificant compared to who you are not.

To the point where, when the Nurse Practitioner for your physical exam asks, "Have you had a sense of dread, hopelessness or depressive thoughts in the last week?" and you hesitate for three full seconds before lying and saying "Nope."

Of course these thoughts are stupid and unfounded and a waste of energy, but that doesn't mean they don't happen from time to time. All it takes is someone ridiculing you at work or an eye roll coupled with snide sarcasm to bring you question your worth. You know that it is only an indication of the person's own personal weakness or insecurities, but that doesn't always help.

But because I hate being in that place, I always …

Getting Slammed

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Monday night I experienced a first. I attended my first poetry slam. And while I've been to several poetry readings, I've never been to a slam. What's the difference, you ask?

Well, a slam is a competition between poets that have memorized up to a 3 minute long poem, who then perform it. I say perform because vocal inflection and presentation and style all count in the scoring. The closest thing I can compare it to is The Moth which is people getting up and telling a story of up to 5 minutes in length. The audience votes on it and the high scores advance.

The event was held at Mama D's, a coffee shop in Genesee Depot. It consisted of 7 poets competing in 3 different rounds. Each round eliminated a number of people, based on scoring from 3 judges. The first round had seven competitors, the second reduced it to four, and the third round was the best two of the four.

Now, a little aside. I almost signed up for a spot, not really knowing what the requirements were. I'd…

Techno Discharged

There is simply no way to get away from the technical issues of our day. Between computers and phones and tablets and apps it's always something. 
This weekend it was Donna's turn with her laptop. It's been working great of course, so something new has to happen to upset the apple cart.
The thing was suddenly not charging event though it was plugged in. So, of course the first thing I do is order a new charger cable, because, well that seemed to be the source of the problem.
While we wait for the cable to come in, we discover that the thing actually DOES charge when it is shutdown or in sleep mode. So, I question whether a $25 cord was the right answer anyway. 
Then I go online and see that some people who have had the same issue just uninstalled the battery driver and the problem was fixed. THAT must be the problem then, I think to myself. That night I follow the instructions, uninstall the driver, unplug the computer, take the battery out, put the battery back in, reboot…

Back To School

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As you may or may not know, my next book is about my high school experience. I'd like to think that my experience was a little different than the average. I went to an all male, Christian, military academy in the late '70s. For those who know, the school is Cretin High which merged with the girls school, Derham Hall, became military optional and was renamed to Cretin Derham Hall.

When I first started to think about what I should write about after The Portland House, my unique high school experience was the first thing to come to mind. I started putting ideas down and as I took them to class/workshop every week, they were well received. This was reassuring as I wasn't sure the strange parameters (male/Christian/military) were enough to carry the story, but found out that my days as a student were filled with just enough boneheaded stories to keep the reader's interest.

But what I've discovered in the process is the teenage high school experience is almost timeless w…

The Science Of Where

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I don't often write about my work. Part of it is intentional - a distancing between work and family life, and part is just because people don't dig GIS like I do. Mapping is great, but most people think I sit around making globes all day. It's a bit of voodoo.

But as part of my job my colleagues and I all go out to San Diego for a software users conference every year. It is a gathering of 18,000+ GIS (Geographic Information Systems) professionals where we come together to network and learn about what is coming, software changes and exciting developments. It is an invaluable week, one I look forward to every year. None of this is to mention that I think San Diego is about the best place in the world, climatically. The best.

This year was made even better as Waukesha County was recognized as a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award winner. Every year ESRI, the software company, awards a small percentage of their user base this award. We were last recognized in 2004, so this …

All That Matters

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It has been sort of a trying two weeks for me. My mom has been battling some health issues and there have been some tenuous, life stopping moments for all of us.

About two weeks ago she had a small stroke. It was discovered when she was talking to some friends and not making much sense. (I do it all the time but they never call mine strokes, but I digress.) The next day she went into urgent care and was immediately admitted.

Well, those moments when you get a text that reads, "I'm with mom at the hospital..." pretty much stop you in your tracks every time. Reading on, I saw that mom was being treated for a stroke, but was in good spirits and talking coherently. When I called her, she sounded fine. She stumbled for a few words here and there, which was very unlike her. That was the weirdest part. Mom has always been very good in conversation, so to hear her stammer once in a while was, well, strange.

Her vitals progressed well though and she was released a few days later …

Writing Short Sentences

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As many of you know, I am serving a term as Poet Laureate for the Village of Wales. This appointment has ramped up things in my poetry circles, which gives me a nice break from all things nonfiction. (Though I continue to do that too.) Here's a breakdown of a little of what's going on poetically.
My monthly readings at Wales Village Hall are going well. The group seems to enjoy my work as well as the guest poet I feature each month. I lead off the meeting and the group is respectful and engaging. Lots of laughs too.The monthly poetry nights at Mama D's in Waukesha are underway and we are booked through February of 2019. The first event featured Marilyn Zelke-Windau and was well attended. The cover for my forthcoming chapbook, On a Road is finished and it is magnificent. I am SO happy with the way it turned out. The team at Unsolicited Press did a terrific job right out of the gate. Can't wait to reveal it later this fall. The signed poetry book drive is up to over 20 do…

Moving Toward Gratitude

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If there's one thing I hate more than moving, it's moving someone else. But I've moved enough to know that you can't do one without expecting a little of the other. You help because you are helped. There will come a day when we move we will be grateful for those that help us move, much like the folks we help move are grateful for us.

I would go as far as to say no one likes moving. So maybe we can help each other hate something for a shorter time. It makes me think of a quote from Michael Perry that I saw earlier this week that reads:

"There is the idea among psychologists that gratitude can be cultivated. Put it out there and it comes back to you." - Michael Perry

I think the same goes for a bit of selflessness now and again. Selflessness cultivates selflessness. I have a friend who helped with a move this past week that is probably the most selfless guy I've ever met. It's a quality I both love and hate. I love it because it reminds me what Jesus was …