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Showing posts from January, 2019

I Cantarctica

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It's a little cold where I live.

Just a bit.

Most of the Midwest is in the grips of another polar vortex. These are weather events caused by aberrations in the jet stream which are caused by melting polar ice, which is caused by too much carbon in our atmosphere, which is caused by years of fossil fuel burning, etc, etc.

And I don't care what your stance is on global warming, I do know that this pretty much sucks whatever is causing it. (From my perspective, I agree it's caused by what they say it is, but that's my editorial perspective.)

Yesterday and today temps hovered around -25 Fahrenheit with a feel-like of -45.

As you may know, my house is 97 years old. It breathes like a bag of onions in the winter. While this transfer of interior air to the outside might be good for air quality, it makes it just a tad drafty in here. My workplace closed the past two days due to the temps, so I have been on modified house arrest. Yesterday I managed to start the car and run it…

A Pattern For Change

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Yesterday I took in two hours of the 25th Annual Woodland Pattern poetry marathon. This event is a fundraiser to sponsor programming for Woodland Pattern Bookstore throughout the year.

The way the event works is people are asked to get sponsors to donate on behalf of them, then they read for 5 minutes during an hour that they sign up to read in. Personally I think it is the perfect event for someone who says they don't like poetry. The reason being, you are exposed to such a broad range of poetry styles and poet personalities, that if you don't like someone, just wait 5 minutes and you'll get to hear someone else. It's a poetic smorgasbord.

I actually read at one of their events about 5 years ago as part of an AllWriters' sponsored hour. I remember being super nervous. It was the event where I joked that I was Wisconsin's tallest poet and someone from the audience with a slightly less disjointed sense of humor corrected me and said he knew of someone taller.

He…

Cars, Crowns And Colonoscopies

So my 23 year old daughter bought her first car this week. She is in living up in Minneapolis and recently moved out of college and into her own apartment. While she was a student, mass transit worked just fine for her, but now she needs a car to get to work among other things.

Now, it's hard to say I ever had a pleasant car purchase experience. Ever.

But here's the deal. It sucks but it's part of life. It's part of being an adult. I rank it right up there with a colonoscopy or a dental crown on the fun scale. I'd sooner get blasted by a fire hose, frankly.

I hate looking for cars. I hate test drives. I hate negotiations. I hate pushy salesmen.  I hate pushier finance guys I hate the paperwork and I hate sitting in sterile cubicles of salesmen who are likely looking for another job.

Some people get a charge out of a new car. I am not one of those. To me, a car is a good way to get from here to there. Simpler is better, but hey, if I have to have seat warmers and a …

Kansas City Here I Come...

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My friend and I have this ongoing joke about the Kansas City Chiefs football team. It dates all the way back to 1989 or so when Marty Schottenheimer was the head coach and guys like Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and Christian Okoye (aka the Nigerian Nightmare) were making a name for themselves.

At the time, the Packers were pretty brutal, so I was big on watching teams that showed a little promise. The Buffalo Bills were my in-laws' team and were really good with Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith and the rest. I loved to watch them but they lived to disappoint, much like my Vikings did back in the 70's with all those super bowl flops.

But I remember seeing the Chiefs and thinking this team was really something. Back then I was working at Intelligraphics Inc, a sweatshop employer in Waukesha focused on utility mapping for phone, electric and gas utilities. I had a good friend, Bill Lee who worked there too. We went to the same gym and made jokes about our weightlifting abilities. And on tho…

Dealing With It

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It seems I'm approaching that angsty time of winter where I exude my discontent with darkness and cold weather. Yesterday I saw the forecast calling for snow and possibly some sort of "Polar Vortex Split" that is going to throw parts of the country into a deep freeze.

This is not happy news. Neither item.

Now, understand that we have had a weak winter thus far. A little cold in November and December, but almost no snow. Literally none on the ground right now and it is mid January. So, what am i griping about? I mean really, it could be worse.


These past few years have been adjustment years for me. I have begun to give into slowing down during the winter months. For eight months of the year I am outside as much as I can be. It always made me angsty to be cooped up like this, but I'm growing into it. I think the winter season is a reminder that we need to rest and recoup.

One of the biggest adjustments has been heading to bed and shutting the lights out earlier. I have…

Other Peoples' Kids

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I don't often talk about my nieces and nephews, but I have a whole lot of them. One of them, Alison, just graduated from Winona State University and it spurred me to think of how much I appreciate them. Each has their own unique gifts, personality and demeanor.

Because my sisters started their families first, with quite a break before my brothers and I did, there is almost two generations of nieces and nephews. My sisters' kids are all in their thirties and forties, while my brothers and I all have kids that are twenty-somethings.
The coolest thing is they all get along great. My kids love their cousins and really enjoy being around them. They grew up together. They are like the siblings you visit a few times a year. My son Ben even went so far as to say that at Christmas Eve he felt cheated, that we all had to leave by 10:30 PM, so he didn't get enough time with his cousins. That is when you know you did a good job exposing your kid to their cousins.

3 of four of my sister…

Oneness, Meditation And The Zen Of Paper Straightening

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In the past I've mentioned that I have a group of guys I have coffee with at Cafe De Arts for one hour every Thursday. I once jokingly called them the Thursday Theologians because often times our talk is religious or spiritual in nature, though not always.

They're a hard group to summarize, really.

I would call them my "best-friends-for-an-hour-each-week" but that would be sappy and besides the name is too long.

They are friends though. Most of them are part of my church CollectiveMKE, but not all. It certainly isn't a requirement, though as I said, our conversation often drifts into spiritual discussions.

We usually pretend to be sort of a book study, though we're all slow readers and take forever to get through a book. The book is more of a reason to show up than anything we really delve deep into. If we didn't purport to have anything "in progress" there might be impetus for someone not to show. We need an anchor, so a book it is.

Our discuss…

Art Appreciation 101

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One of my latest obsessions is art. Don't get me wrong, I've always appreciated it and I credit my college Art History 101 class with helping shape that appreciation. Art is one of those things that helps me appreciate the human race. Our innate desire to create accompanied by some wildly talented people makes good art happen.

Now while I claim to be a writer, I lay no claim to any artistic skills outside of words. I not only have no sense of proportion or depth, but when it comes to thinking of something to create/draw/paint, I kind of draw a blank. It's certainly a gift that God gave to some and skimped on with others. I would fall under the latter category.

My wife and I like to support local authors and have a few friends who are crazy talented in that realm. Names like Sara Risley, Jill Kenehan-Krey, Walter Jack Savage, Stacey Ball and others come to mind. Because the best way to support artists is to buy their work, we've made it a point to try and do just that. …

Fighting Back At Winter

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Well, it's officially 2019 and we are in the dark cold months of winter. If you know me, you know I am a shorts and t-shirt kind of guy. I like to come home from work, get shorts on and take a 45 minute bike ride to decompress. In the spring/summer/fall months I do that as often as I can.

So when winter rolls around, I go into a sort of inner-funk. It's not a depression per-se, but I can certainly see it from here. There's something about the dark/cold combination that wears on me. If I had an unhealthier nature, I could become a real slug and never do anything from November until March. I've found I have to work at staying active or pay the price with pants that are too tight and butt prints embedded in my living room chair. Not good, either of them.

In an effort to keep my sanity and not sleep for 15 hours a day, I do a few things. All of them are "fake it till you make it" solutions to staving off the blues. So far so good.


I walk to work pretty much every …