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Showing posts from June, 2019

You Can See Kansas From Here

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We had what some people might call a weather event here on Thursday.

It happened right after work and I was going to try and sneak a ride in before the rain came. I could see the skies were dark to the west, but that always happens. I really look forward to my rides, so was determined to get one in quick.

As I went west down College Avenue, the dark cloud covered the entire western horizon. It had a definite front line to it, so I thought I'd go to the edge of that front line and then turn around.


Well, every block I got closer to the death cloud the more I began to think I love my wife and kids and I should probably turn around. This cloud looked different. Menacing. So, I didn't even reach the bike trail and decided to double back.


I got my bike in the basement and within 10 minutes we had us a good old whippin' going. I've only seen wind come up that fast one other time. In 1998 we had straight-line winds blow through the city that had a similar intensity. That one w…

Prairie's Own Companion

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My son has taken a summer job working for an environmental lab in Madison. It is a full time gig for the whole summer and involves working underneath a graduate student working toward his PhD. The job is a perfect fit for Ben as he is an environmental science major. This work is right up his alley.

The job near as I can tell, involves two days a week in the field collecting data and samples in a large prairie owned or leased by the University of Wisconsin. The area is near Viroqua, nearly an hour drive from campus. They are studying prairie plants, insect and animal life and the impact of various practices and climactic changes upon them. For instance they do controlled burns on some areas to see if that helps or hinders seed growth, output etc.

So as part of it, he frequently sends messages to us via text with pictures of the things he's encountering. Suffice it to say, it makes a desk job look as boring as heck. And while I know it's not all daisies and fields of gold - ther…

Pedaling For Life

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I have enjoyed biking pretty much my whole life. Ever since my sister Pat taught me how when I was seven or eight, I've always liked the sense of freedom and wandering that a bike provided. I've written short stories and poems centered around the pleasure of pushing pedals.

My first bike was a gold stingray knock-off that my mom got at a Super America gas station, I think. I loved the bike with its 20 inch tires, metallic gold flecked paint and a banana seat. Unfortunately, a year or so after I got it someone stole it virtually right in front of me. A couple of teenagers were walking down the street, one on a bike, one not. The one walking just hopped on my bike while I was playing in the yard and they both sped off. It was an early lesson in how people are capable of brazen theft and meanness.

A couple of years later, I got a much bigger bike, a 26" 3 speed Huffy. It was a big, geeky bike that I made geekier by adding a battery operated headlight, odometer and a flag to …

Keep On The Sunny Side

So I achieved a bit of a writing milestone this week.

For a while now, I've been trying to get published in one of my favorite magazines of all time, The Sun.  A few years ago when they were only accepting submissions by mail I sent a story or two only to get polite rejections back by mail a few months later.

More recently they have started taking digital submissions for their issues. This makes the submission process much easier, though I am guessing it makes the acceptance percentage much lower. Most of these magazines get hundreds if not thousands of submissions for each "Call for Submissions." Because of this their rejection or, "slush pile" as it is called, probably gets much bigger.

The Sun features a section called Readers Write, devoted to a topic that is structured entirely around readers' stories. Most of these stories are only two to four paragraphs long and take different twists on the theme at hand.

The topics are posted months in advance of th…

Fathered By Inspiration

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I thought it might be relevant to post a poem for Father's Day. I'd recently taken part in a 30 day "Poem a Day Challenge" where I'd chosen the theme of Fatherhood. I figured I'd go back to that collection and pull one from it.

As I sifted through the 30 poems, the emotions were a little all over the place. The whole exercise at the time was fairly revealing about some deep seated perspectives of the various fathers in my life, as well as my own experience. Having been away from the collection for a couple of months, it was weird looking back through them.


They were about my three fathers, blood, step and in-law. Each hits their own nerve or dredges up feelings of joy and angst.

There is even reference to my mother-as-father as well as other "fill ins" like older siblings, uncles and the like. When you don't have a steady father, you tend to find other ways to fill that void. And finally there are a few that address others in my life who have l…

Rebel Without A Bike

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A buddy of mine recently joined a motorcycle gang. Well, it's not what you think. The gang is titled Rebels On A Mission (ROAM). The group is centered around advocating for kids that have been bullied. I didn't get to talk to him at great length about it, but it sounds like they seek out kids that have been bullied or physically abused in school or at home.  Then they will do things like escort them to school on their motorcycles or other protective things.

They recently had a call for a used (pedal) bike donation so they could give away bikes to inner city youth at an event later in June.

It is a great cause, but it got me thinking about a motorcycle again. My brother recently sold his Harley Davidson, and so the subject keeps coming up. I used to ride a lifetime ago, though my bikes were all small, Japanese things, Hondas and Yamahas.

And while I haven't ridden in years, I won't go so far as to say I'll never ride again. I used to REALLY love the feeling of freed…

Slaying Dragons

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I gave a presentation at Muskego High School last Tuesday. The daughter of my ex-boss is in charge of the Media Center and recommended my books to a teacher of Applied Composition an English elective for seniors. She gave the kids three options for memoirs to read, one was Lucky Bastard by Joe Buck, there was my book Dirty Shirtand there was a third one. Six of the students chose Dirty Shirt and so the teacher asked if I would be willing to come in and talk about the book.

Now, any time I have an audience where people took the time to buy, then read my book, I always jump at the chance. This is how you build an audience, but for me its as much about the personalization that comes with knowing an author. I know the readings I've gone to with some big authors have allowed me to put a face and a personality to the book. That takes the author/reader relationship to another level, in my opinion.

So I brushed off my PowerPoint presentation for the book, updated it and brought it into th…

Driftlessly Appealing

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It has been a whirlwind week of travelling for me. After a two day conference in Eau Claire, Donna and I took a vacation in the Driftless Area of Southwest Wisconsin. For those unfamiliar, this is a hilly region of the state that was "missed" by the last glacial period. It is one of those areas I've only really visited once or twice, and then it was just to go camping at Wildcat Mountain and Canoeing down the Kickapoo River.


In a nutshell, the place is absolutely stunning. Hills, coulees and valleys are dotted with idyllic agricultural vistas, horse and cattle in pastureland and lots and lots of streams. There is a fairly high Amish population in the region and it was so cool to see them farming using a team of horses and a sit-plow/tiller. The area was green, and lush, and fertile. Frankly the whole place gave me a sense of hope and made me ashamed of the whole concept of mega farm agribusiness. I know these places are not the norm, nor could they feed large populations…