Showing posts from March, 2013

A Coffee Affair

As I write this I am drinking my second cup of coffee from my favorite mug while sitting in my favorite chair. Coffee is part of my day, everyday. Typically I keep it to one cup, usually around 9:30 at work. I try and keep it to one, as I know it causes disruptive sleep, It is also one of the things my doctor always asks: "How much alcohol and how much caffeine?" I know it doesn't help blood pressure and is full of tannins which can be hard on the stomach lining. There's probably a lot more bad that I'm not even listing here, not the least of which is the whole fair trade issue. And frankly I don't care. You can't take away my coffee. We go way back, she and I. We met at my mom's kitchen table where mom taught us the delicate art of dunking our peanut butter toast in a cup of Taster's Choice  instant coffee. I say this was a delicate art because you had to make sure the soggy toast did not break off and fall into the cup. It was a wonderful

Mail Order Bride

I moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin in September of 1986. I had been laid off since the previous May from Markhurd Corporation, my first job out of college. After a softball game one night in Minneapolis, I ran into a friend who had been laid off in the same wave of cutbacks as me. He said he had just been offered a job doing computer (CADD) mapping, by a company in Waukesha called Intelligraphics. He said they were doing a lot of hiring and would I be interested? I was so desperate for a job in my field at the moment I was ready to move anywhere. Intelligraphics offered me a job that summer and so, after saying a teary goodbye to my mom, I got in my Ford Escort with a U Haul and every possession I owned in-tow and headed east on I-94 for Milwaukee. It was a long drive filled with hope, fear, joy and uncertainty. I moved in with my roommates Ken and Paul and started my new life. Within a few months of moving, my brother Rob and I began sending letters back and forth. He was enrolled

The Ear Of The Beholder

I am a music junkie. I love music, always have. For me, it is the great equalizer across the generations. Parents and grandparents all loved the people and bands of their era, and so it goes with me. Literally, every song takes me back to a spot, geographically and chronologically. A song can trigger an emotion of sadness one minute, reflection during the refrain, and joy at the climax, all in a single three and a half minute segment. This is what I love about music, I think. I'm an internalizer; I tend to stuff, ruminate and reflect. The voices inside my head while listening to music keep me sane. They allow me to stop, check out, and leave the insane pace we live for a few moments. I don't want to cheapen my faith, but it is almost a spiritual experience at times. Perhaps God is even working in there in some way, I dunno. Most of the time, the songs have two or three significant meanings or tie-ins for me. Anyhow, as an example of how music can take me to places and time

Facing Up To It

Facebook has been around for a few years now and I still have mixed emotions about it. Like many, I struggle with how much time and attention it deserves and how I choose to act on that perception. A bit of history on my use of might paint a better picture of this struggle. When it first came out, I was cynical and hesitant to get on board with it. My wife was an early adopter and I thought I would see what it became. Eventually, it looked harmless enough so I created an account and got sucked into the hype. The early days were reckless and fun. People didn't understand the etiquette, in part because there really was none. It was a bit of a free for all, and people only stepped over the lines of decency because they didn't know there was one.  I rolled with it for a while and quickly realized after about 6 months that it had become a time-suck for me. I was spending too much time on it and couldn't seem to manage it very well. On top of that I think enough people

Increasing My Return On Investment

If you recall, I repaired my dryer about a week and a half ago. See Post.  Well, I thought I should follow up the story with the rest of what happened. The dryer worked for exactly two loads of laundry, then it stopped heating again. It was heartbreaking. Here I thought I'd been a hero and had fixed it for good. When it stopped working, I figured it must be something more than the three parts I replaced. I was ready to give up and just start saving toward a new one. After reading online a bit more though, everything I read pointed to the Thermal Fuse being blown; in essence a $5.00 part. I also got to wondering if when I had fixed it last time if I had put an old part back in instead of the new one. I looked closer at the photo I had taken before I started the job, and sure enough, the piece I had taken out to replace, I had actually reinstalled. (Luckily I didn't throw out the new part). So, first things first, I put the new (right) part in and tried the dryer. No joy.

From the BWCA to The Void

I am two weeks into a new writing group at AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop . I went from a writing workshop focus to a book writing group. The differences are subtle, yet I am in the group with two others (and a 3rd, the instructor) who were in the Wednesday night group previously. This makes it more familiar and comfortable for me, yet the changes on what I am focusing on from a writer's perspective are significant. The Wednesday group is structured so that students bring up to 10 pages of their work or 3 poems every week. The work is read in front of the group and then the group critiques it for 10 minutes or so. Depending on attendance and because of time limitations, from week to week, half the class gets to read. The group is supportive and helpful on what works and what doesn't. The Thursday group is different in that up to 14 pages are submitted ahead of time via email to everyone in the group every week. The students then read each others' work and critiq

Zip and the Art of Maytag Maintenance

It finally happened on Friday. Our 15+ year old Maytag dryer just stopped heating. Oh, it'll work without heat, it just takes five times as long to dry anything. Heat is good. So again, we're at the crossroads of fix or replace? Any appliance that is this old is approaching it's end of life and we know this. (Although we had a dryer that was from the 60's that we gave to my brother in law and the thing just died 5 years ago. They truly don't make 'em like that anymore.) Having replaced the belt on the dryer a couple of years ago, I thought I'd look up how to replace a heating element on it. It didn't look too daunting, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. All of the videos showed people just taking off the back of the dryer to get to the element. Half a dozen screws, new heat element, Zip, Zip, Zip, Done! Well, we have the dryer equivalent to a uni body. The three sides and bottom are all one. Luckily, after I popped the bottom panel off, I sa