Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back at 2010

It's that time of year again -- the end of it.  2010 has but a few hours left until it's history.  The ends and beginnings of things are always special.  From your loaf of bread to your birth or death bed, beginnings and ends are markedly different than the middles.

I think my family and I will look fondly back at the whole of 2010... at least the girls will if I develop memory loss from my aluminum filled deodorant.

The joy of the annunciation of our new baby, Tracy Lyn becoming a full-time mom and finding two part-time jobs that she enjoys, the countless gifts of watching our little girl grow up into such a wonderful little lady... just a few of the blessings we by no means deserve but gratefully embrace.

May God bless us everyone in 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


New media can seem like a brave new world sometimes, to some people.  I have a friend who refuses to join Facebook because he says it is evil.  And if evil is a strong word, so is its cousin "hate".  I know people who hate Twitter.

You'd think they'd hate it because of the smurf-like lingo associated with it... TweetUps, Retweets, TweetStream, Twitterati... or all the times it's over-capacity and they see that icon of the giant white whale (why does everything come back to Moby Dick?) with the little tweeties trying to haul it away... but it isn't either of those reasons.

They fail to see the beauty in it... the possibility.  Like what?  Check this out.  Those of you who have been following The Daily D know that I've been having problems with my AT&T bill.  The biggest being trying to get a human being on the phone who can solve the problem without transferring me back to the automated menu.  We're talking hours of holding and frustration on the phone.  I decided to see if AT&T had a Twitter page that could help.  144 characters later, an AT&T twitter-er responded.   We tweeted a little bit back and forth and just a few minutes ago an awesome AT&T representative called me and apologized for all the hassles and explained how everything would be resolved, offered me their phone number and extension and promised to follow up with another call to ensure everything was taken care of properly. 

I'll gladly defend Twitter.  Do I love it?  Right now I'm definitely twitterpated but love might be too strong of a word.  I like-like it.  To those of you who don't, maybe it's not a brave new world, maybe it's just another undiscovered country.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fighting the good fight

Is there really an art to warfare?  I think so... if it's a fair war.  What I'm talking about is the idea that the best way to win an argument is to avoid one. 

Now that technique won't work with your Hitler's and Stalin's but I do hope for a peaceful resolution to my AT&T troubles.  I'm a lover not a fighter.  Right now we're been exchanging tweets and I hope we can come to a peace treaty... or peace tweety as the case may be. 

Is it worth losing your temper for gaining restitution?  I don't know.  That might change my character, my very disposition.  That might give me an explosive personality and lead to road rage.  That road rage might lead to a violent confrontation on the highway and have a chain reaction that might someday lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths.  Is it worth all that? 

No.  There's a better way and maybe that's the road less taken these days.  Let's use our moral compasses and find that road. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

AT&T doesn't stand for Awesome Timely and True

I've been on the phone the past hour being promised awesome customer service but have been continually transferred to a robotic menu and then to a customer service rep promising awesome customer service and delivering me to the same robotic menu.  Shampoop, rinse and repeat.  Shampoop, rinse and repeat.

I decided that instead of losing it I'd hang up and try again when I'd be in a less Ahab-ish state of mind.  I'm just disappointed.  Disappointed that I ever stuck up for AT&T when everyone else is on Verizon.  Disappointed that my only option besides AT&T is Time Warner.  Disappointed in mankind... particularly the so-called customer service people at AT&T and disappointed that the menu robot doesn't understand "CUSTOMER SERVICE!  JUST GET ME CUSTOMER SERVICE!"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Peeves make lousy pets

A teacher's pet is the student that brings his teacher a nice shiny red apple the first day of school.  A teacher's pet peeve is taking a bite of the apple and finding half a worm inside.

I've had a certain pet peeve myself with a certain Internet provider providing me with a half a worm into every bill I bite open.  Okay weird analogy but c'mon!  It's been three months or so in a row now and you're still charging me incorrectly!

It puts me to task!  I told Tracy Lyn I was had half a mind to call them up and quote Ahab from Moby Dick or Khan from Star Trek II (and the other half of my mind thought that was a pretty good idea) but my better half reminded me that things didn't turn out so well for Ahab or Khan.

They task me. They task me and I shall have them! I'll chase them 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before I give them up! 

That's me paraphrasing Khan paraphrasing Ahab to suit the 23rd Century.  I actually read the original today as I've resumed Moby Dick.  The book really gets going in the chapter I just read, some 235 pages into it.

...I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition's flames before I give him up!  And this is what ye have shipped for, men! to chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out. 

Ahab illustration by Rockwell Kent

Now you may think I'm overreacting but please observe that I have yet to name names as to identity of this Internet service provider.  I'm giving them one more chance before I publicly call them out.

Moral of the story?  White whales make terrible pets... and so would Kirk.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Wallet

I'm a pocket guy... as in my pockets are usually filled to the brims.  Emptying my pockets could fill a kitchen table and maybe a couple chairs.  Recently I've avoided carrying my wallet in my back pocket since I heard that that carrying it there is bad for your back/posture when you sit on a wallet.  So now my wallet resides in my front pocket "stuff menagerie".  Unfortunately an packet of Emergen-C exploded filling my pocket, my cell phone, my keys, my rosary, my portable flash drive and wallet with little grandules of Vitamin-C.

While Vitamin-C is great for my health when taken internally, it really does more harm than good when taken inside my pocket.   This has been especially true for my cell phone and wallet.  My cell makes crunching noises every time I punch in a number.  My wallet didn't get as crunchy but grimy.  So did some of my cards.  For Christmas I got a new wallet!

I usually end up buying a new wallet when I'm almost broke.  That's an odd thing to spend your bottom dollars on and then have no bottom dollars to put in.  But it speaks to the desire to better organize.  Everything has to start somewhere and I think I've come a long way since my last wallet change.  That's not to say I had to transfer a whole bunch of moola to my new wallet, but I've taken a few small steps to where I want to be. 

To me a new wallet is a sign.  For me it's like turning over of a new leaf and underneath is new wallet.  In it is the chance to better manage your finances and your Vitamin-C. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

God bless us everyone!  My Christmas started out like they always do -- at midnight.  That also corresponded with my 12a to 8a shift in Master Control... my first overnighter.  Half the challenge was getting there.  The other half was staying awake.

To me, being "on time" to work is late.  We went down to Hartford for Christmas Eve at Tracy Lyn's parent's.  My wife likes big goodbyes -- or long goodbyes to be more accurate... or several goodbyes to be most.  We did pretty good to get out with only two goodbyes and 30 minutes behind schedule.  So, though I should have been tired, I was made alert hoping I'd at least get to work in time.

Thankfully the roads were, for the most part, smooth but not too slick and I made it into work with ten minutes to spare. 

I had a rare couple cans of soda... I needed the caffeine to keep me company for the shift.  I was pretty alert throughout thanks to the two live programs airing keeping me in my toes -- and I had to stay on my toes during the late hour, just to keep my motor running. 

I did get a chance to continue my tradition of reading A Christmas Carol.  There is a surveillance web cam in Master Control.  I wonder if it caught me breaking down over the last Stave?  Or how about my dancing the last hour to the Christmas pop music we broadcast?

I made it home around 8:15a.  I woke up my very tired wife and debated whether to try and make it to the 9a Mass at Cathedral.  Well, I knew Tracy Lyn would be mad at herself if she missed the only Mass at SFX, and she wouldn't be any less tired if she got up for 10:30a at St. Bernard's.  

Getting Teresa up was easier.  Waking a child up on Christmas day is my forte.  She saw her presents but was completely fine with waiting until after Mass to open them.  She impressed me the night before when it was present opening time at my in-laws' and she didn't get any presents given to her for the first few minutes while all the other kids were opening theirs... Teresa wasn't asking where her presents were, she just enjoyed watching her cousins open their gifts.  But when she did open her presents, she just burst with joy. 

I'm really glad we made it to the 9a Mass.  So was Tracy Lyn.  It was just so moving.  The incense really moved me to a coughing fit that took me out for a bit but I recovered.  Princi got it right when she said "Now that is how Christmas Mass should be!  I'm so glad this is our church!" 

After Mass we ran into Jim and Carrie and the kids.  They were surprised we didn't notice them during the service since Jack likes so much to "participate" during Mass.  But the acoustics in SFX are such that boisterous kids' voices just don't carry... except into the ears of their parents.  Anyway we took some pics of our fams all dolled up (Okay, I wasn't so dolled up having worked an overnight and wearing the same clothes three days in a row) and even some shots with the Bishop. 

We got home but there was still no rest for yours truly weary.  We opened the gifts under the tree and then started prepping for Christmas dinner.  It was a turkey day!  I tried taking cat naps between bastings for the bird.  I rested but I didn't sleep. 

My parents came over and we had quite a feast!  Turkey and stuffing and potatoes and corn and gravy and sparkling juice; and finished it all off with cheese cake.  We were amazed at how much Teresa ate - especially the two servings of the cake. 

After the dishes I finally got to go to sleep.  I tried reading a little Moby Dick before bed but there was no "Favre-ing", I had to retire.  I set the alarm for 7a since I had to work an 8a-4p Sunday.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight sleep!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last-Minute Shopping... good or bad... is only a minute

Since time out of mind I've always been given warning against last-minute Christmas shopping.  And I guess if you take that literally to mean 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve, you've been given fair warning.  But I've never found Christmas Eve shopping to be a bad experience and today was no different.

I did let Teresa sleep in since she had trouble snoozing all through the night.  It gave me a chance to tidy up the house before we left for Christmas Eve at Papa and Nana's.  Tracy Lyn was working at the bookshop until noon.  I woke Teresa up a quarter to 11... give or take a nickel.  I asked her if she'd like to go shopping with me and pick out some presents for Mama and Baby Pumpkin.  She perked up from her slumber and agreed to forgo breakfast until after our errand.

We targeted Target as our shopping target... seemed natural... maybe that's what they mean by natural selection.  Well, we were in and out in maybe 15 minutes give or take a dime.  No lines at the registers.  Smooth sale-ing you might say.  Well, you might.  And you'd be right.

Teresa and I were back home, had eaten breakfast, were wrapping presents and on our second viewing of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" before Mama arrived home from work (early I might add.  Well, I might... and I'd be right).   Teresa proudly exclaimed, "Mama, we're wrapping the necklace we bought you for Christmas!" 

The moral of the posting?  Last-minute shopping... good or bad... it's only a minute.  And you can take that to the bank!  I tried to but they were closed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Warning: Blogging may be dangerous to your health... it may even make you more interesting

I've had this blog rolling for over a month now.  It's been a lot of fun and I've even had to stop myself from posting more than once a day. But I've found a couple of instances of how blogging about my life has actually influenced decisions I'm faced with in my life. 

So far this has been a positive influence.  I think I took the opportunity to participate in Teresa's ballet class in part because I thought it would make an interesting post.  I had tomorrow's post in mind when I decided to postpone shopping with Teresa for mama's present until Christmas Eve (Plug: should be a good one!) 

Could blogging nudge me to do something heroic someday for a blockbuster post?  Could it cause me to risk life and limb all for the sake of a post so good it might go viral?  Well, you better stay subscribed to find out! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm off?

Well, today was the first day of the rest of my PTO.  For those of you acronymically challenged (acronymically challenged for short), PTO stands for Paid Time Off.  Of late mine has stood for Paid Time On or Partly Time Off since I worked 20 hours the last 50 I took off. 

Today I experienced something strange -- I was really off.  I found it... difficult.  It was weird not to have any deadlines... or requests to work from remote.  I was off.

Tomorrow I'll be working my "night job" and then again on Christmas day midnight to 8am and then again on Sunday morning but after that I'll be off until New Year's Eve.  Can an institutionalized man be reformed?  I won't rest until I am!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Would you rather smell like "ice, wind & freedom" or stink and not have alzheimer's?

It was a pricey deodorant to be sure but I was tired of all the lost battles with funk my natural deodorant continued to lose.  Natural deodorant, what's that?   A rock of limestone you rub under your arm?  No.   It was Arm & Hammer's  "Aluminum Free" and "Paraben Free" Essentials Natural Deodorant.  It worked fine except it really didn't live up to its name - deodorant.  I stunk.

So I got tired of stinking.  I turned to the deodorant aisle at Walmart and followed my nose to a deodorant named Matterhorn.  That even sounds strong.  It's made by Old Spice.  That sounds spicey.  After a little debate as to whether any deodorant was worth $4, I decided to take a leap (or perhaps make a climb), and bought the mighty odor killer that "smells like ice, wind & freedom" - three things I always thought were odorless but maybe that's what you want in a deodorant.  Besides in our employee handbook we're supposed to strive to create a scentless environment.  I wonder if that policy was written in after I ate sardines for lunch one day.

Ice, Wind  & Freedom!

Now the whole reason I was so loyal to my "Natural Protection" deodorant (man, I hate writing that word so much but the only synonym I can think of is anti-perspirant and that sounds so girlie) was that some ingredients commonly found in deodorant have been commonly thought to cause cancer, alzheimer's.  The aluminum and paraben are the culprits.  And maybe they do a number on odor too because my natural deodorant... for lack of word or imagination, sucks. 

The problem is my toxic deodorant rocks... Rocks like Matterhorn.  It may have aluminum but let's not forget before modernized mining/refining techniques were developed, aluminum was considered a precious metal.  Napoleon Bonaparte served food to his most distinguished dinner guests on aluminum platters.  And let me tell you, I have never smelled better.  At least I can't remembered when I've ever smelled better.  And that's the kicker: Would you rather smell like ice, wind & freedom or stink and not have alzheimer's?

Monday, December 20, 2010

What do you want for Christmas?

"What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?" Saint Nicholas asked Teresa at the Relevant Christmas party.  "A pony," replied Teresa, " a blue pony."  Some year that might be clarified as a blue Mustang.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Christmas Carol Part II

My Personal favorite edition
Okay, last post I stated that, bucking the best novel lists, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is the best of the best in English literature.  The fact that Dickens is absent from the list is a humbug if ever there was a humbug.  In this post I'll provide some evidence.

Exhibit A:  TPP.  That stands for tears per page.  As in tear drops.  For me this book is more than just a tearjerker, it's a nose-blower.  Scrooge's journey through the dark night of the soul always gets me... even in the first Stave I'm wiping the pages... and then the big pay off at the end. 

Exhibit B:  The George Lucas of Literature.  Let's face it, Dickens was scripting for a big CGI movie waaaay before any effects or even movies were possible.  What else on the top 100 list comes close to the depths and heights of his imagination?

Exhibit C:  The Sincerest Form of Flattery.  They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and what book has been imitated more often than A Christmas Carol?  And why is that?  It's quintessential. 

In the end the antagonist becomes the protagonist.  It's all about the transformation of Scrooge but it's also more than that.  Something is transformed in us as well... which really beats out any old 100 list anyway. God bless us all, everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Christmas Carol Part I

As is my tradition, I've begun reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol for my holiday* reading.  (War on Christmas people please note: I use the term "holiday" to describe time off given to celebrate special occasions and holy days -- I prefer the greeting "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holidays" but I'll take either over "Have a good one!"  I use holiday as a synonym for Christmas since I already used the word Christmas earlier in the sentence... holiday is not a four-letter word.)

I woke up early this morning with Teresa still snoozin' in our bed since she had a bad dream last night.  So I got to gaze upon my sweet little daughter sleeping like a commercialized angel, and once again dig into A Christmas Carol

Now I haven't read all the books on the 100 Best Novels lists but I have read a few and of all the novels I have read, I consider A Christmas Carol to be the tops of my own personal list.

Tomorrow I shall give evidence to support my hypothesis.  Stay tuned... er, blogged.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Old habits

There's an old saying, "old habits die hard".  So true as I struggle to type this properly instead of my old and tempting two-finger style.

At first I forced myself to type properly at all times despite my slower wpm.  But as deadlines loomed over my shoulder, I fell prey to my old two-finger habit.

In the short-run two fingers are better than ten but my progress is hampered for the sake of immediate typefication.

So I make this post/pledge for the record.  I'm pulling the plug on two-fingerin' and now fully embrace the ten finger life from this keystroke forward.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


It's that time of year again.  The end times.  The last grains of sand in the ol' year-long hour glass are getting ready to slip on through to the other side.  There are many signs of these end times but none so clear a harbinger than the year end evaluations at work.

Now the truest evaluation comes in the form of a bi-weekly paycheck.  This is the most objective measure of value that the company gives.  You might be doing a fantastic job but the real worth of that service rendered is calculated by the market factors... so objective a force it gives business its reputation for being nothing personal.  I find the insincerity of this form of evaluation to be the sincerest form of evaluation.

Performance review.  Now we're stepping into waters that are often clear as mud.  Especially when it comes to self-evaluation.  How well did I do on a scale of one to five?  Do these answers have any bearing on my paycheck factors?  In working for a company that prides itself in humility, would giving yourself a perfect score actually seem anti-humble and become a mark against you?  Would giving yourself a lower score in false humility actually score some points?

I don't know.  The president's has a 47% approval rating with 53% strongly disapproval rating.  Ouch.  What would he give himself?  Would we fair any better if others were polled about our jobs?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, taxes and then the last deadline, you die

There are five certainties in the life of a graphic designer: death, taxes, and deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.  It's a blessing and a curse really.

A part of me is very accomplishment oriented.  I love working against a tough deadline.  Even if I pull an all-nighter to beat the clock on a project, I'll get such a euphoric high once I finally put a design to bed, I won't feel the least bit tired.

Of course the deadlines never stop coming.  Especially the most dreaded, "we need this yesterday".  Tensions can build up.  Designers can burn out... if they aren't careful.  A few things help.  I'll just start with my big three.

One thing that really helps me is taking a 10 minute walk.  Seems counter-productive to take time off of a project but fresh air and a little exercise really refreshes the soul and sharpens my mind.

Music.  'Nuff said really.  Especially for all-nighters, I kind of size up tasks within a project by cds.  "I'll get the front of this brochure finished by the end of Sea Change and then get the insides laid out by the flip side of an Elvis".  Lectures/podcasts are another favorite.

Good support = good eats. 
I have a great boss that knows sometimes the best support for a designer is to feed them.  I think I hear my fellow designers all giving that last statement a big AMEN.   Carbs can keep the creative motors running.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Sherlock I never knew

You know I always thought it was an odd choice to cast Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes in the 2009 movie of the same name.  But I never really read any Sherlock... I knew the great detective from pop culture -- the Scooby Doo and Fred Flintstone parodies... Star Trek: Next Gen tribute and the like.

He was a childhood hero of mine.  But I never really knew him until I started reading him like a book. 

At first I found Arthur Conan Doyle's characteration of Holmes to be very Vulcan-like.  But a paragraph later, Sherlock was shooting up cocaine!  According to my research, while cocaine was considered a vice back in Doyle's day, it wasn't illegal.  Sounds like he had a morphine habit as well as his regular pipe usage.

So I'm not sure what to think of my dear Mr. Holmes except that perhaps Mr. Downey, Jr. was perfectly cast after all.   Perhaps it was... elementary.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stick to your guns, unless you're a pacifist

Sometimes the title to a blog post is so good that any attempt to add something in the main entry, only subtracts from the post itself.  I best leave it at that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chillin' Wisconsin-style

Well, the much anticipated weather was delayed but there was no denying... it was quite a blizzard!  I slept on the couch last night (again) - not because I was in the doghouse but I get intense fits of coughing from the cold I have and I want the girls to get some sleep.  Anyway it was my job to get the girls up for Mass if the roads looked passable.  Well, I couldn't even see the roads by dawn's early light.

Our driveway by dawn's early light

I thought we could just listen to Mass on Relevant but decided to see if anyone could even get to the Cathedral to broadcast it.  9:00 a.m. came and the live broadcast of the Mass did not... it was the rosary instead.  So the girls got to sleep in even more.  At 9:30 Relevant played Saturday's votive service at which time I woke up the girls.

We were definitely snowbound... so we promptly took away all of Teresa's beloved scissors.  In our own personal state of emergency we didn't want to risk any emergencies that would require any car travel.

It took a good long time to blow out our driveway.  The snow in places drifted higher than my snow blower.  And the 40-50 mph winds really launched that snow back into the atmosphere as I dug us out.

The indomitable snowman

Teresa bundled up to see the Dr. Seuss-like drifts in our backyard.  She could barely see over the drift barricading our back door.


We had a pretty good day cooped up together with only a minor bout of cabin fever.  The big plows have yet to come through and really clean us out.  So that, coupled with the fact that my car and this kind of weather agree to disagree with each other, and multiplied by the fact I'm still coughing so hard I have to take concussion tests with Rodgers, I might end up WFH tomorrow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow (title is a work in progress)

According to Doppler and Vipir Radars and every meteorologist on TV, and Aunt Hilda's aching ankle, we're in for a whole lot of the white stuff today.  Are you ready for winter's cold embrace?

A small miracle to make mention of or a big coincidence at the very least.   My 8a-4p shift at the network was supposed to be in a winter wonderland.  I prayed that snow wouldn't hit the fan and everything else until after my shift.   And it was the weirdest thing - the storm made a horseshoe around Green Bay... Just as I left work, the winter mix began.

Now this isn't the first such miracle to happen but I thought I better start documenting this stuff to make it easier on anyone opening a cause for my canonization later.

Of course to truly be a Saint one might say I should have also prayed for good weather for the shift after mine.  Oops.  Yeah, I'm guessing Cyrus won't be opening my cause.  Here's what it looks like now... on radar that is... it's less colorful in real life... just a lot of white stuff.

Friday, December 10, 2010

First Snow!

Had a fun day with my daughter playing in the snow.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

There's no place like WFH

I coughed so hard today I bruised my brain.  But on the plus side I am feeling a little better than yesterday.  I did go into work to beat a couple important deadlines but then I took off to WFH (work from home).

Oh, what a beautiful thing WFH is!   Is it necessary to have a physical office these days?  Probably.  And that's what office space lease people would have you believe.  And if all the doctors worked from home, that might get confusing.  But there are a lot of bonuses to WFH that technology now affords us.  And if we can afford it, why not?

I arrived home to my wife putting up some more Christmas lights and another sighting of the mysterious and adorable Christmas Bear!  There's no place like WFH.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

All in a day's work

Long day today.   In addition to my regular deadlines, I did battle with a dirty little bug that wants to go viral on me.  Thank God for Mucinex!  It did the trick and kept me from coughing up a lung in front of all the cameras at the Shrine.

What's that you say?  Shrine?  Cameras?  Mucinex?  Well, check out the video I shot.  Long day and a big day for Champion,  WI.  If you're ever in my neck of the woods and would like to make a pilgrimage out there, I'd be happy to show you around.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Under pressure

How do you deal with pressure?  I tend to make smaller blog entries.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Washer Woes in the Wee Hours

Good morning.  It's so early it's late... or vice versa.  I decided to surprise you early birds out there with an early, early morning edition of the Daily D... and since the early birds' usual perk is but a worm, they should be pretty happy to get anything else.

The real reason behind this entry to to help warm up my hands.   I just finished a 9p-2a shift at the network, and I'm still trying to thaw out.  If thawing a turkey is any indication, 30 minutes per pound could take quite a while.  I thought about calling the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line to confirm but I was too chicken.

My hands were especially chilly because they had to wring out my cold, wet work clothes from the washer that clunked out after I left for work.  I received the call in the middle of my shift from Tracy Lyn telling me about the washer being all washed up.  It took me a while to realize that meant it wasn't functioning properly.  I hate when stuff like that happens and I'm helpless to do anything about it because I'm at work.

I decided to take the road less traveled.  No, not Verlin.  I mean I simply decided that I wasn't going to let this problem I couldn't fix gnaw at me.  So I put it out of my mind.

Moral of the story?  Well, it's too early for morals for me but I now have feeling in my fingers again and that's a start.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

O, Christmas Bear


We got the tree decorated for Christmas today.  Teresa dressed as the Christmas Bear.   Little is known about the Christmas Bear but she sure is cute!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Piano of Christmas Present and the Ghosts of Christmas Past

Had a wonderful time at Tej and Ty's piano recital of Christmas music.  We arrived a bit late and missed Ty's first performance but he graced us with a reprise at the very end.  Tej was last to perform but certainly anti-least!  And his bow at the end was a real show stopper... which was well-timed since it was the end of the show. 

After the recital, we raced home to really bundle up warm before going to Christmas at Heritage Hill.  A friend at work (thanks, Chris) gave us free tickets and today was really the only weekend before Christmas that would work.  The events at the Hill are so much more interactive than I remember them being as a kid.  And the school masters aren't so mean.

So a pretty fun day which concluded with a trip to Copps and Festival Foods and yet another viewing of "Alvin and the Chipmunks", Teresa's new favorite movie.

Stop back for video of the recital and Heritage Hill.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kill mice and have fun doing it

An early morning edition of the Daily D today.   It's a big day today as my Fridays usually are since Fridays are the day I watch Teresa all day and my wife works at St. Catherine's Bookstore. Coincidentally Fridays are also the day I tend to throw out my back.

Before me I have a mighty list, as in a mighty long list, of things I'd like to accomplish today.  And the list is growing rather than shrinking.

The list includes some new items for me such as Item Number One: Kill mice. Yes, as I feared, the tiny intruder I saw earlier this summer in the garden, has set up base in our garage. I already bought a trap in the summer but discovered it was designed for in-home use. So last night I baited it with Skippy peanut butter. The question is, do choosy mice choose Jif?  Neither brand seems to be going after the mouse trap bait market.  Who knows, this blog might get a sponsor.

Anyway, you know me, I'm all about turning seemingly un-fun tasks into something fun.  So I like to add "and have fun doing it" or "and have a great time doing it" to each of my chores or goals.  And so today I'm faced with a to-do list that includes "Kill mice and have fun doing it".

I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Some people make cookies, some people make movies of people making cookies

The adage above isn't old but it is very true. I hope you enjoy my first real attempt at making an iMovie of last night's festivities.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spritz at the Schmitt's with the Winks

As I type these words (15 wpm), the fun is almost over.  It is Christmas cookie baking time at the Schmitt's with Teresa's Nana and Papa Wink.  Spritz cookies are the classics and are made with what look like giant caulking guns from a recipe passed down from the electric company (cookbook).

Other species of cookies were also created from scratch or at least an itch for sugar cookies.  These were based upon a recipe from the late Aunt Heady (for some reason when you die you are considered late.  This must be especially troubling for punctual people).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Fine Art of Self-dentistry

Little tired today from my late night adventure.

It all started as I was flossing my teeth.  Doesn't sound too adventurous, does it?  But I accidentally (pun!) dislodged an end of a wire retainer from my eye teeth.  So I had this sharp wire thing poking into my tongue.

I used a CD as a makeshift mirror to check out the situation in my mouth.  I tried tucking the poking wire down with no luck.  I thought about using some duct tape but couldn't figure out how that would help.  So I went to the ol' tool box and took out my trusty pliers.

When you don't have dental insurance, sometimes you just have to make do.  As I maneuvered the pliers into position in my mouth, I thought about that one scene in the movie Cast Away when Tom Hank's character had to knock a bad tooth out of his own mouth with a rock.  I tugged and tugged on the wire until I finally freed it from my mouth.

All in all everything turned out just fine... so much better than my DIY root canal.

Monday, November 29, 2010

High Resolutions

Being a graphic designer, using high resolution pictures is a must for completing any graphics project well.  I think the same is true for picturing your goals or resolutions.  The more specific you are, the better the resolution.

With this being the second day of the Church's New Year, I thought it appropriate to share a goal or two with you this week.

My physical goal: I want to lose weight.  That's a great picture but it is way too low res.  Let's sharpen it up a bit.

I want to lose 22.4 pounds (that will be the remainder of a 30 pound goal I previously set).  I want to lose it by April 1st, 2011 (no foolin').

Now how is that going to happen?  I like to further define my goals by adding "and having a great time doing it".  Why be miserable working towards something?  This higher resolution keeps things balanced in your life and increases probability for success.

So how can I lose 22.4 pounds by April 1st and have fun doing so?  
  • Ask wife to make lunch - eat better food - tastes better than junk
  • 10 minute brisk walks during lunch break
  • Tuesdays - Family Night at Y/ Friday - swim w/ Teresa
  • Holiday trimmings club at Y - I'm competitive
  • "30 for 30" competition w/ Erik and Pete - I'm competitive
  • 20 minute workout w/ Teresa.
  • Start going to Y mornings to start my day (30 min) or jog/run*

That last item has a asterisk by it because it kinda goes against my nature and isn't inherently fun.   I may need a good carrot for that one to stick...   Fine.  If I go the Y everyday for a week, I'll take my wife to a movie.  That also means she'll encourage me to stick to the plan and as I've stated before, happy wife, happy life!

Plus I'll have everyone who reads this blog checking up on me.  That's a good thing, right?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy New Year!

Advent begins!  And although I was disciplining my daughter to greet the New Year's beep on my watch (see last post), I'm greatly looking forward to this year.  I'll finalize my resolutions list tonight.  I'll share a few tomorrow.

Turned on the furnace for the first time this season -- perhaps a new Advent tradition.   It is now a balmy 65 degrees in our home.  Maybe we'll turn the heat off for Lent.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Door County Getaway & Green Bay Comeback

Westwood Shores Resort, Door County, WI
We're excited about getting away from the cold... of our house to a heated Door County resort!  (Still holding out on starting the furnace.)

Teresa is already in her swimsuit though it is 58 degrees in here.  We take off as soon as Tracy Lyn gets out of work at the Y.

Well, the best-laid plans o' mice an' men gang aft a gley.  And I don't know about how the mice's plans fared,  but ours went pretty a gley.

Room 314
My mom won a weekend at the Westwood Shores Resort and decided to invite Kai for the weekend and us for some swimming.  The plan was to go there to visit and swim and then drive home.

The resort was cleverly hidden but we weren't too clever to find it right away.  I don't know about you but being lost with questionable directions isn't much fun.

Card Shark
We finally make it to the resort and enter my parents suite which is set to 80 degrees.  That's a 20 degree difference from what I'm used to at home.  This disorientates me into getting skunked in a cribbage match against my dad.

The swimming was a lot of fun and the whirlpool was a nice treat.  Everything was going swimmingly.  We decided to stay after all on the foldout couch.  That was the decision point that in hindsight wasn't the best.  I guess that's what happens when you go against your gut. 

Night fell and Teresa was much too wound up to sleep.  Tracy Lyn was exhausted but could not get comfortable enough to catch any z's.  Baby Pumpkin was even stirring about.  I tried my best to get Teresa to settle down and behave so at least Tracy Lyn could sleep.  I even had to resort to spanking Teresa at which she didn't cry but laughed and spanked her own behind.  Sigh. 

So I had to make another tough decision point... let's leave now and hopefully we could all get some sleep.  At about 2:30 a.m. we were all snuggled in our beds at home sleeping peacefully.   A good call.

The moral of the blog entry?    Well the obvious one is don't be afraid to drive home from a resort that you didn't plan on staying at but then decided to do so anyway against your gut feeling.  Tracy Lyn said staying over night in a foreign bed when you're preggers is not a good idear (I paraphrased that).

Also don't play cribbage in an 80 degree room when you're used to 58.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday and a sentimental bargain

Black Friday is upon us. It is 8:41 a.m. and most of the door-buster sales have busted doors. This is especially good for the economy of not only the retailers striving to get into the black, but also door repairmen and women.

Tracy Lyn just left for work at St. Catherine's Bookstore. Their door has nothing to worry about today since all the worldly Black Friday sales lure the faithful away. Besides St. Catherine's had a window-buster sale of sorts when a cat burglar busted in earlier this summer. Fortunately no cats were stolen. The window repairman did rejoice.

I think the door-buster sales of Black Friday would appeal to me more if I had any money to spare. I guess my situation makes the window-buster sales seem like the only I could afford, minus the jail time.

What could be more impressive than the widow's mite? How about post-dating a $3 check for the Sunday collection plate? I'm exaggerating a bit... it was $2. And maybe I'm missing the point of the parable.

You know they say that money can't buy you happiness... but it can pay for the search.

With no money to search for happiness via the traditional Black Friday means, I'll take the road less traveled and definitely in need of repair. What am I blessed with that money can't buy.
  • Great family and friends. Money could buy friends I guess but not the priceless variety.
  • Expecting a baby in April. Having a beautiful little girl and the joys of being her dad.
  • Being married to my best friend -- no, not Erik, my other best friend.
  • Having a job I love and just having any job in this economy is truly a blessing.
  • And, of course, the biggest blessing of all, the grace and Faith from God -- truly priceless.
Priceless things never go on sale.  Maybe that's what makes them so special.

Oh, and this blog... it was free too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve or T'was the Night Before Turkey Day

I love the eve's of the holidays.  Especially the work days before the break.  I'm actually pretty much caught up with work for the first time this year.  Joe took Alex, Aaron and me out to lunch on Tuesday and Alex treated me to Taco John's today.  Everyone that wasn't on PTO already was in a cheerful, playful mood. 

I think I heard 20 different weather reports for the big day tomorrow.  Sounds like the first winter storm is set to hit in some manner tomorrow.  And listening to what's going on outside, whatever is going to happen is starting to happen right now.

We'll just have to take a page from Little Bear.  "Whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot, we'll weather the weather no matter the weather, whether we like it or not."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What to Expect When You are Expecting

Late last night Tracy Lyn came into bed shivering like crazy.  Like crazy because the temp was 64 degrees.  Her teeth chattering like Scooby Doo's do when he's cold or scared.  At first I thought this was a ploy to get me to turn on the furnace.

Funny thing was she didn't feel cold.  So I held her until the shaking frenzy ended and made sure she didn't break a tooth with all the chattering.  She soon fell asleep but now I was wide awake.  What's the deal with that?

I hit the Internet.  Not always the most reliable resource of information.  Case in point, they'll give anyone a blog!  Even WebMD didn't do the trick.

She did get "the shakes" once before shortly after Teresa was born but only once.  Thankfully we had our regular baby doc appointment the next day.  Doc said it was progesterone and nothing to worry about.

So what can you expect when you're expecting?  With Teresa we had the most normal, uneventful pregnancy.  With Baby Pumpkin we've been to see the doc every week this month.  Every pregnancy is different and prior results are not indicative of future performance.  (Maybe performance isn't quite the right word... but you see a lot of infomercials at 3 a.m.)

You can expect to doubt yourself more, pray more, and hopefully come to trust in God more -- especially when things get shaky.

P.S. We had a later appointment at the hospital so the free valet parking was not available.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Today is the first day of the rest of my week

A Monday indeed.  Hurt my back on Saturday and it's still not back to normal. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eulogy for the Vikings and Chili Under a Gas Fire

Dearly beloved, we are huddled here today to pay our final respects to the Minnesota Vikings and their 2010 season.  In tribute to his own "fans" calling for his firing, I am have a pot full of chili under a hot gas fire on the stove.

A moment of silence please.... and now "Go, Pack! Go!"


P.S. This blog was typed correctly.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday is not the day of rest

The day of rest comes tomorrow.  Today is devoted to family business or maybe family "busy-ness".  We plan on going to the Christmas Parade in downtown GB which should take up most of the morning.  Grocery shopping in the afternoon.  I've got some outside chores to finish and few things I want need to sell online.  I woke up early today to continue my quest to learn how to type properly.  I have a Saturday goal to learn all the letter keys today.  I also want to continue my InDesign CS5 training.  And so, it begins.
Life is a Parade

The hot-air snowman!
We found a spot on Cherry Street facing the downtown Y's parking lot.  According to the bank clock the temp was 27 degrees... fortunately we had 28 layers of clothing on.  It was a good parade with some great marching bands and even a couple big balloons.  I'm always surprised how lax the security around Santa is at these things but there were no incidents.  Tracy Lyn was Teresa's candy wingman (wingwoman?) in chasing down the candy.  Sometimes they'd even run across the parade street if they spotted a stray piece.  Thankfully there were no incidents.  Right now they are warming up under blankets and I'm serving them hot cocoa.

Tracy Lyn and Teresa enjoying the show

Left: Teresa and a snowball  Right: Tuckered out
Snowmen for security?  Come on!

 Well, got my chores done.  Took Teresa to the Y for a swim and I am typing this blog properly.  Man, this sentence took a long time!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why my wife is not a widow this year

Sometimes Nature's call is not merely to go to the bathroom.  It also calls for men to don blaze orange, to blaze a trail in the woods and hunt the excess deer that would otherwise be car fodder in winter.

Two years ago I attended DNR classes so I could at last answer this call myself.  You can't keep Nature on hold forever.  I planned on hunting every other year to keep my wife from being a hunter's widow too often.  There is an wise, old saying: happy wife, happy life.

This again is my year to answer Nature's call in the hunting way.  But with all the recent trips to the baby doc and the doctor's call for her not to lift over 20 lbs, my wife asked me to hang up on Nature. 

I still might don some orange of the blazing variety, but it won't be the same.  Now I must go, for Nature is calling me again in another way... and I must take this one.

Erik sent me a pic of what I'm missing so far...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

3 Design Tips and a Hot Dog

I never know what I may end up doing at work.  Could be designing a CD package one minute and taking pictures of a show host dressed in a hot dog suit the next. A question I often get is why does a radio network need a graphic designer?  Well, it's much more than just a radio network, it's an apostolate.  And I like to think I'm more than just a graphic designer...

I wasn't kidding about the hot dog suit!

As far as workload goes, I'm on the high end of the see-saw -- there's much more of it than there is of me.  To create a happy balance I've learned a few things over the years that might be of special interest to fellow designers and perhaps some of the laity out there.
  • Design everything in full-color.  You can easily change a color design into black and white but it's a lot harder to change a black and white design into full-color.
  • ASAP is not a good deadline.  One man's ASAP is another man's "This can be done whenever/if ever I get a free moment."
  • Do your best work.  Some assignments are more important than others but it's important to every assignment well.  Doing so-so work at work leads to doing so-so in other endeavors. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Pox of Technical Difficulties, A Ballet, Revenge at Bethlehem!

I'm tired this morning because I was sick and tired last night trying to figure out why I couldn't connect with Blogger at home.  I stayed up well past my bedtime.  There's a multitude of reasons why I can't connect but they all seem to have unreasonable fixes.  And if this is a common phenomenon with an uncommon solution, maybe I should take my own advice and move my blog to WordPress.
I got out of work early today so I could be my daughter's dance partner at her ballet class at the Y.  I got out of work early with the promise to take a picture of this event.  It was pretty fun -- I just wish we did more plies.

We just got back from seeing Kai's rendition of Claude Herdman in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  Sometimes I worry he's not acting as a trouble-maker.  They seem to cast him as a Herdman every year... strange!  Anyway we all had a good time and Kai was great as usual.  I asked Teresa if she liked it and she exclaimed, "Yes, it was very nice!"
Now I sit here typing this blog on the very same connection I had so much trouble with last night.  Perhaps it was my mention of WordPress that did the trick.  Is Big Brother reading?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What to say to a pregnant woman

Sounds like we'll be going back to see the doctor again, if for no other reason than to put my wife's mind at ease about Baby Pumpkin. A friend's sister lost her baby under similar circumstances and oddly enough they named that baby the same name we picked out for a girl. Weird coincidence.  I don't get worried about negative possibilities until they happen.  So I'm not so worried... except about the bill from these extra visits to the doc.

Back from the doc.  Everything seems okay with Tracy Lyn and the baby.  Got to hear the heartbeat again which is probably the greatest thing to hear in the world when you're pregnant.  I think Tracy Lyn has much more peace of mind... or at least a bigger piece of peace.   We'll seem the doc again next week.  I think I'll try the free valet parking... but first I better clean out the car.
One nugget of advice the doc gave us is really worth sharing. What should you say to a pregnant woman? "When is your due date?" This gives the power of the conversation to the pregnant woman. All too often people feel it is their duty to share their pregnancy experiences (especially the challenging ones) which usually results in scaring the expectant mother... and they are under enough stress as it is.

Monday, November 15, 2010

So long, two-finger typing! Hello, ten!

It's true... I never learned how to type "properly". To cover this up I even entered a career field which consists mostly of clicking a mouse.

It's been on my to-do list to learn for a long time and today I finally started. Of course I can't type all that many words just yet. "sad dad flask" is about it and I had to cheat with the quotation marks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


It's beginning to feel a lot like Winter. Ah, the air is crisp and nippy. Even Teresa isn't protesting wearing a jacket anymore.

Thanks to my dad's help, I think we're ready for Winter. Leaves are off the ground and out of the rain gutters. The rain barrels are emptied and in the shed. The grill and hose now reside in the garage. Tucked the mower for hibernation and cranked up the blower. We saw a few snow flakes as we worked but nothing compared to the foot of snow Minnesota got.

I have a date with a sink full of dishes (I stood them up last night but I'm tired of them calling me).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This Town is MINE!

Teresa had a great one-liner as we were driving around town today. Out-of-the-blue she said, "This town is MINE!" I wonder what she has planned.