Wednesday, August 19, 2009

37 Years today!! Really!?!?!? Already?!?!?!

Happy Anniversary Sweetie!!

August 19, 1972

wedding table 1-2 (Small)


Rock Island, MN  August 2009

Rock Island 2009 (Small)

Holy Cow - That was quick!!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

And he took a walk.

I realize this post is about a week late – heavy sigh. Life seems to find a way to fill my time.

On July 20th 1969 Neil Armstrong took his walk in the Sea of Tranquility. It has been a tremendously exciting 12 years. I remember all the excitement around Sputnik. School changed completely. Science and math were emphasized. New learning methods were tried. By the early 60s we had TV in the class rooms. Launches were televised and we watched every one. I have vivid memories of sitting in Ms. Atkins classroom in 5th grade drawing the outline of Florida and the flight path of Shepard’s first suborbital flight. I even remember the green fountain pen I used to outline the coast line.

Things continued to accelerate – John Glenn’s three orbit flight. Ed White’s first space walk. The first Apollo orbital flights. The loss of White, Grissom and Chaffee – a devastating event that took us all by surprise and reminded us this was uncharted territory with all the attendant dangers.

One additional connection to these flights was my Uncle Victor, a WWII bomber pilot that had become an aeronautical engineer. His project was the attitude jets on the side of the lunar lander. Very cool!

As high school came to an end, war was all around us. Vietnam was just coming out of the trauma of Tet 1968. It was before the lottery, you simply received a letter from Uncle in the mail. I volunteered instead – Air Force. Even then we were hell bent on getting to the moon! I read everything I could. Now I was working on some of the same systems used to communicate with the capsules. Again, very cool!

And, that’s how I ended up in Taiwan. I was at a number of locations, but in July 1969 I was in Tainan. To kill some of the evenings, I had started teaching conversational English at a regional Taiwanese military artillery school. On the evening of July 20th the commander invited me to the base to watch Neil Armstrong take his historic walk. It was an electric moment. There, on a black and white – slightly snowy – TV, man was walking on the moon. It has enthralled me ever since.

We were a more committed country then. We were willing to take on big endeavors. People were independent. Industries were confident in their abilities and ready for every challenge. Every kid wanted to be an engineer, a pilot, and astronaut. We were truly reaching for the stars.

All because of men like Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. They demonstrated what we were capable of. I pray we rediscover that again.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Alaska - 2009 - A video!

Again, it was a GREAT trip!!  Enjoy!

A Random Dropping

I noticed my last post was entitled "Busy, busy, busy!"  And was done while on our Alaska trip.  A month already!!  Really???  Yep, busy seems to be the right phrase.

Since the trip our local group of concerned citizens have held their first public forum on our country's direction.  Emphasis was given to the economy, healthcare, national defense and small business.  It was a genuinely interesting evening.  You can read the results of our group at: 

if you have any interest.

Preparation for a scouting trip to the Boundary Waters has been fast paced this past weekend with our shakedown paddle, trip planning, defining the individual groups (3 groups, 21 scouts and dads).  This week will be food shopping, repackaging and packing and then we hit the road at 5AM on the 11th.  Again, coming too fast!!

Have had lots of conversations with my daughter about her economics class.  Pretty interesting chats and a fun process to watch.  She is driven to get an "A" while pushing to learn everything she can but is saddled with a prof that just seems happy to do the minimum.  I feel her frustration and really admire her extra efforts and extra reading.  She will make a terrific school administrator some day!

Work has been nuts - even closed two deals on our Alaska trip!  I really like that feeling.  The follow on work is really intense with installation, training and the initial startup.  We have completed over a dozen training's in the past month - busy, busy, busy.  Not that I am complaining.  In an economy when many businesses are struggling we are fortunate to offer a product that can save hospitals tens of thousands of dollars each year.  Enough to get their attention and to move.  As a business, we are truly blessed.

And so it goes.  There are honestly days I feel truly harried - yet that is how I have lived my life and am not sure I would be satisfied were it any other way.  Next week, while in the Boundary Waters, my crew wants to paddle a bit and fish allot.  Sounds good to me!  Though not a big fisherman, it should provide ample time to enjoy the scenery, listen to the loons and allow my body and mind to slow a bit.

I have also taken time to create a 10 minute video of our Alaska trip.  It's processing even as I type!  When it's complete, I will post a link so you can see what we saw and enjoy it along with us.

So ends a random dropping update.  Enjoy the day!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Busy, busy, busy!!

Can’t believe how busy this trip is and how fast it’s going.

We are at Icy Point today.  Had a wild life search trip today.  Saw one brown bear and very pretty country.  Yesterday was Skagway.  Nice bus/train tour of Whitehorse Pass.  No wild life but stunning country side.

Only downer is that Phyllis got sick with the Norwalk virus (along with dozens of others).  Barfies and diarrhea last night and today.  She’s hoping to recover for our formal dinner tonight.

Ketchikan tomorrow and then a day of sailing and home on Friday.

Going fast, fast, fast!!!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

On the boat

Well we got on the boat yesterday.  Good trip down.  Saw a really cool grizzly just entertaining the folks along side the road!

Meal last night was great.  Good weather today.  And, expensive internet -  $.53 per min.  Will do mini updates and phone calls on shore during the day.

Love you all – from both the Kellers and McKees

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yet another busy day!

Drove to Denali today.  Got there in time for lunch and then a couple mile walk in the woods and around a meadow. 

For supper there was a very nice dinner theater.

Early day tomorrow with a 5 hour tour of the park and then an 8 hour train ride back to Anchorage.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 3 – there’s gold in that there stream!!


These folks sure keep you hopping.  Headed out about 9AM for a gold mining operation.  Rex and Phyllis were dropped at the museum that the fellow who went with Rex’s dad acted as a procurer for.  They had a great time there while the rest of us went to the mining operation.  We were shown how they used water too look for gold and taught how to pan for gold.  Then, we were given bags of “pay dirt” and off we went.  Susie beat me with $33 and I found $9.  Enough for her to get it made into a nice pendant and a pair of ear rings.

After that we went on a river boat cruise, visited a native village, visited the late Susan Butcher’s new dog kennels and just had a nice leisurely afternoon.

That was followed by a great supper and a visit with Rex’s compounding friend from “North Pole” – yep, that is truly the name of his town.

For me, it was back to the room.  I had an urgent email from a prospect  that she HAD TO HAVE A DEMO TOMORROW AT 8AM!!!  Geezz, that’s 5AM here!!  Ah well, money is money!  So, at 5AM local time tomorrow, I’ll be ready!!

So ends another day.  Tomorrow – Denali!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Alaska – Day 1

What a long day! Alarm set for 4:45 AM!!!!!! This is vacation for Pete’s sake!! Anyway, breakfast and on the bus by 7AM and off to Fairbanks. Lot’s of gorgeous scenery! Mountains, rivers, marsh lands. Very beautiful. Saw Moose, sheep, reindeer – very cool. Saw a moose plunge out of the forest right into the side of a truck hauling a trailer just in front of us. She bounced off, fell on her butt, got up and ran back into the bush. Took the mirror off the side of the truck and dented it a bit. We finally got to Fairbanks around 7:30PM. Had supper and made it to the hotel around 9PM. End of a very long day!!! But, lots of fun! Tomorrow – gold mine, paddle boat trip. Should be a good day. Will try to post some photos tomorrow.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

We have arrived!

Nice, on time flights to MN and AK.  Good weather and service right to the hotel.  There is a three hour time difference so while our bodies feel like 12:30 Am it’s only 9:30 PM here.  Cell service does not work here so if you want to find us kiddies, send an email and we will get it in the evenings.

All is well in vacation land!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

North to Alaska!!

Yep, off to Alaska for two weeks.  For family wondering where the hell we are, here's a link to our travels.

Eat your hearts out!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

THIS is my next car!

I have been watching this product for nearly 2 years. This I will buy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I love technogy.

I set up my cell for blogging this morning - very cool.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Speaking for life.

I try to keep this site apolitical.  I will make an exception for this video from the students at Notre Dame

Monday, May 11, 2009

Our very own Papillon and the great escape!

"Have you seen Daisy?" asks my wife at 1AM as she arrives home from work.  I open an eye, try to regain consciousness and say "Nope>".  Honestly, she has a number of hiding places to sleep in, it's 1AM for Pete's sake, I am sure she's here somewhere.

1:36AM, the boy shows up.  Again I struggle to consciousness - "what the heck are you doing here?" I ask in a loving way??  Cell phone is back from the repair shop, wants to get it first thing in the morning, thought he would come home, sleep here and get an early start.

"Seen Daisy?"  the mom asks.  "Nope" the boy replies.

And so we let it go and go to sleep.

Friday morning still no Daisy.  She usually attends at the shower door guarding us against who knows what - but she is absent her post.  So the search begins with "Daisy" being called in all rooms and all floors of the house.  No Daisy.  A second search pattern, this time physically looking at all the favorite hiding/sleeping spots.  No Daisy.  We bring out the big guns - her treat jar - rattling and calling throughout the house. No Daisy.  One final pass crinkling the wrapper on a pack of lunch meat - usually enough to have her flying from where ever to the kitchen.  No Daisy.

The obvious conclusion - she is either dead or had snuck out of the house.  She is 8 year old, no front claws and only 4 teeth - not much to get her by in the wild.  she has not spent a single night outside in her 8 years with us. Not good. Heavy sigh.

So, the above process is repeated outside.  The yard is searched.  The perimeter of our neighborhood's 20 acre wood is searched.  Twice.  Neighbors are visited.  The center of the woods is searched.  Nothing.  I head to look at the last possible spot I can think of - the clean-out pipe for the septic system.  And happen to glance to my left.  And there she is, lounging under our canoe rack of 8 canoes looking at me as though to say "Well I am right here dip-stick!"  No enlarged eyes, no nervous twitches, no urge to run away.  Just lounging in her yard.

It was nice to find her.  It would have been a truly crappy weekend if she had been truly lost.  So here she is, our own little Papillon.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sex at the weapons range!


I took a break from the stress of being a wildly successful entrepreneur today and cleaned a couple of my guns.  My favorite - a Ruger 22/45 and my six gun, a Ruger Blackhawk 45 Long Colt.  There is something relaxing about the process.  Disassembling them, cleaning each part, oiling them and reassembling them.  The only thing better is shooting them of course.

So, in keeping with my right wing extremist persona,  I went to the weapons range to play.  Well, it seems I interrupted a hot sex session right there at the range.  It seems the couple didn't mind so much, in fact the let me shoot a bit of video and take a couple of photos.  I thought you might enjoy it!

And as for my results, not bad.  50 rounds at 25 ft - 90% in the black.  50 rounds at 25ft - 70% in the black, 50 yards - 80% on an 8x11 sheet of paper.  I'll take it for the first outing of the spring.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Traditions - a melding of families.

Traditions are interesting things.  Husbands and wives reach into the bag that is their life together and pull out various traditions.  These are mixed and molded with a love of their own to create their own, individual family tradition.  It is one of the glues that hold families together, that allows us to look into the past and see our roots, to embraces our differences and to celebrate our coming together.

Susie and I had a number of traditions for our kids at Easter.  We colored the eggs for the Easter Bunny.  He is, of course, quite small and simply can't carry enough eggs for all the children.  He does leave candy though to satiate the sweet tooth. 

The Easter Bunny hides the eggs around the living room.  Susie and I always appreciated that since it put off getting dressed a bit first thing in the morning before church.

Jeremy's family also have the tradition of flying a kite on Easter.  So, after church Miss Adeline and her dad went out for her first Iowa flight.  It was a huge success!  And, of course, being grandparents, all of these things are well documented.

The Coloring of the Eggs

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The Hunt is ON!!

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The Ladies if full Easter Garb

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Let's go fly a kite!

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One additional tradition - you must pay for good entertainment.  At the end of this clip is a "delightful" clip and Chrissy and Jeremy "discussing" a project they worked on in their home.  It was fun banter to watch.  An old partner of mine, while watching Susie and I grumble with each other, slowly reached into his pocked and gently laid a quarter on my desk.  We stop and asked what the quarter was for.  Bob smiled and said "I always feel like I should pay for entertainment!"  We gave both Chrissy and Jeremy a quarter, money well spent.

And so our Easter traditions continue and grow.  They are the glue that holds the family history together.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sick on the road

I hate being sick - really hate it.  I can usually ignore the aches, barfies, headache - hell I once drove to a customer 5 hours away, presented my system (they bought BTW) and drove home - all with vertigo where it felt like I was continually falling backwards.  Yep, I can ignore things pretty well.

I did a rode trip the last few days to Minnesota.  One customer and two business partners.  On Monday I really felt like crap.  Every joint ached, the back of my legs felt really weird and tingly (no, I am not following in the footsteps of Chris Matthews) and a fever was playing with my body.  Tuesday I had two of the meetings and by the end of the last and a two hour drive to the next motel stop, I was pretty well wiped.  Drugs took the edge off the aches and rest helped.  About 2AM this morning my fever broke and I was soaked by the time I woke up.  Finally, I gave up for the day.  I had hours to drive, hours of meetings and then 4 hours home.  I called and rescheduled.  Heavy Sigh!  I hate to disappoint a business partner and I hate being sick on the road.  I'm home now, caught up on the email and look forward to curling up with the TV, a book and pasting my body back together.  Lots to do yet this week!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday


Today was Palm Sunday. Honestly, I am always quite startled that it begins with Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem and ends with his burial. I remember the palm part and forget the burial part. Regardless, it always sets my mind to working on the “why” of it all.

I was born and raised Lutheran – Missouri Synod – and converted to the Catholic Church over 15 years ago. Honestly, I have never been hung up on the differences between Catholic and Protestant, I suspect we understand so little of the true nature of God and Christ that we most certainly have a number of things wrong.

However, I am certain of the foundation:   “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

That is, after all, the nature of faith. I have faith that God exists. I have faith that He sent His Son to die for my sins. I have faith that if I believe and accept this and live accordingly, that I will have an eternal life with Him.

I am also an engineer – raised in the scientific tradition. I question, probe, evaluate, poke, prod and simply wonder. Why?

If a being is God, why do this at all?

Why create a universe to begin with?

Why create human? What else did he create?

Why create Adam and Eve with free will? Since God could clearly see through all time, He was well aware of what was to come – why do anything at all?

Has he done this before? Are we simply one of many experiments through out existence?

What would lead the Supreme Being to sacrifice his Son for our salvation?

How do you say thank you?

Why does a Supreme Being need a Son?

Why save us at all? Why not simply start over?

And so my mind goes. I pray that I am the best me I can be. I know I am not. I have no idea how to thank Him for his gift. I know I am not worthy.

I ask for forgiveness anyway.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

The wheel goes round . . .

and round.  A woman I work with brought in a well-used Bigwheel this winter.  It had been through a number of grandkids, all of which are now well past Bigwheel age.  So, Miss Adeline took her new wheels out for a spin . . .




Yep, the wheel goes round and round . . .  peddle on Addie!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to a Good Man

It's interesting to see how your thoughts of a "good man" develop over the years.  In high school to me it meant a friend that I enjoyed being around.  Honestly I didn't have many, but then "good men" are hard to find.  Susie's dad was a "good man".  Strong, kind, good husband and father - we never spoke much but I knew if needed, he would be there.  That experience continued until his passing.

As I spent time in the military a "good man" was someone I could depend on - no matter what.  There were few of those as well.  Mike Garza was a "good man".  Loud, funny and fierce.  But, as with many "good men" he has faded from my life, not heard from him since I left Viet Nam.

Nick, another military man, and certainly a "good man" has stayed in my life the longest.  Each time we talk, it's as though its been mere moments since we last talked. 

Rex, a "good man" whose friendship has grown and love and support I have come to depend on is another example of a strong, kind and good man that there seems to be too few of.

Marriage and children again broadened my view good men. 

I look at my son and see a "good man".  As he charts his course I see someone unafraid to seek his path, to offer kindness and support to friends in his life without expectation.  A young man still willing to sit with his old man, share his day and offer a hug and an "I love you" as he leaves.

As my daughter began dating I prayed she would fine a "good man".  She did, and it's his Birthday this post celebrates.  He is a kind, loving, strong and good husband and father.  I have watched him for 15 years.  Through high school dating, college, grad school, marriage and fatherhood.  Honestly, I was pretty judgmental in my mind's eye (I am sure Jeremy will find this shocking!! ).  I expected a great deal from him and how he loved and cared for my daughter.  I suspect I am not alone in that area as far as fathers are concerned.  And, through the years, I have seen a "good man" grow.  It's truly been fun to watch him and them grow together.

I'm proud of you bud, and am happy to have such a "good man" as my daughter's partner.

Happy Birthday!

A Good Man

Saturday, March 14, 2009

And she danced!

My daughter is a dancer.  Of course other things have followed - marriage, a career as a teacher, an on going career as a mom.  But, in my heart of hearts, she is a dancer.

Her first recital was at age 4.  "Let's go fly a kite" played as she twirled across the stage in a light blue tutu and holding a kite made of cardboard and tinfoil.  I see that photo every day on a bookshelf in my office.

She danced in the "Nutcracker" a number of years for a well known dance studio near our home.  They pushed and pushed that that should be her profession - perhaps it should have been, but she's a great teacher and a great mom.

Her highschool had a reputation of an exceptional dance squad named the "Voyagers".  She made the squad her first try and never looked back.  They won trophies each and every year she was on it.  Her last performance, March 1996 - until last night!  It's the 30th Anniversary of the Voyagers and the alums were invited back to perform a routine.  Her dance instructor for that first recital was also in the group. 

My daughter is a dancer - yep, she truly is!

First, a video of the entire squad.  (if the "view in HD button shows up, click that for better resolution)

And finally, just Chrissy.  The HD button does work on this video.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Crackpot! Me???

I love my wife.  And, I value her thoughts and judgement over virtually any other human I know.  Yet, sometimes she is just so far off base she is OFF THE FRICKIN' PLANET!!!

Take a conversation we had the other night.  I have written yet another opinion piece for our local paper.  Let's say I like to open with a catchy phrase to "peak" interest.  My last, for example, was "I'm sorry we elected a black man."  Now what could be controversial about that??  :)  My wife usually rolls her eyes, shakes her head, reminds me we live in a SMALL town - you know - the usual "can't we just get along" argument.  In a word "no", I can't just get along.  Some things need to be said and it seems that most, while muttering things under their breath or saying them in hushed tones among friends, are unwilling to shout their thoughts from the street corner.  For whatever reason, I seem to have a mouth big enough to say things in public.  (thank my mom actually - an absolutely fearless woman).  So, this weekend when friends were over, I had indicated I submitted another story to our local paper. (it was published today BTW - can't wait for the "feedback" ) My lovely wife once again rolled her eyes, looked at me and our friends, and said - "ya know, they are going to start to call you a crackpot!".  Me???  A crackpot???  Just because my article was entitled:  "A Destroyer of Worlds", and called our new president Lord Shiva??  Crackpot - hrumph!! 

Just pokin' the bear sweetie, just pokin' the bear.

He is though, by the way, the Destroyer of our financial world. 

For more political rants, visit my political blog:


For financial thoughts and rants visit my tax protest blog:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

BLACKFIVE: Reality check from Louis C.K.

Back from Haiti - working on my trip report.  In the meantime - I think you will like this.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Damn – it’s white out there!!

It’s Wednesday – I look out of the front window of our home on Trebor Rd in St. Joseph, Michigan. A storm of unbelievable intensity has blown ashore from Lake Michigan. Ultimately, we are days from the end and more than 10 days from the area being dug out. Honestly, I am just a bit on edge – Susie is DUE!!! BOY IS SHE DUE!!! We are working on over 72 inches of snow. Yes, that’s right – 6 feet of snow!! My neighbors are nervous too – they call, check in, “can we do anything?” Not really, unless you can get rid of this snow!!!!! I go into the garage to check out how we are doing – I raise the garage door – and look UP at the snow! UP for god’s sake?????? And it’s still snowing – hard. Lots of wind. I can’t even see the outlines of the road through our subdivision. I quietly ask – “Please God, not tonight!”

Thursday the snow lightens but the wind is still whipping things around. The drifting isn’t getting any better but I feel a need to make an effort to get us out. Yeah, right. But, being young and stupid I tell Susie I’m going to shovel a bit. She’s camped out on the couch. She has plumped right up with our unborn little one. We have no idea whether it is a boy or a girl. Honestly, Susie is ready for the little tyke to be born. It has not been a pleasant pregnancy. Morning sickness has been an all day affair. Amazingly she has kept her sense of humor throughout. She’s going to be a great mom!

So, out I go – into the wind and snow to “dig us out”. I face a snow drift 6 feet plus high, two cars wide and 50 feet long. The word impossible comes to mind. Yet, I dig in. And dig in. And dig in. And dig in. . . . . . . . . . . yep, I was right – impossible. Finally I have had enough and pack it in. I have nearly a single path dug out for a single car. I need rest.

As I enter the house through the garage is hear a pitiful cry! “Willie!!” “Willie!!” “ I gotta pee!!!!!” I’m puzzled – why not just get up and go?? Coming into the living room I see the problem. She is so big she has rolled into a position where she can’t get up! With total disregard to the “10 second rule” (see earlier post) I look at her, laugh a bit and holler “whale on the beach!! Whale on the beach!!” I admit, Susie didn’t see it in the same humorous light I did! I helped her up, waited for her to come back from her potty break, and went out to finish my shoveling. Finally, with the light fading, a single path emerges. I go back into the house and collapse.

Friday morning – lots of activity on our road. First a front end loader takes a huge shoves and then it dumps it into a dump truck. Once filled, it trundles off to the shore of Lake Michigan - as another takes its place – and dumps its load into the lake. A couple hours pass and finally I have a path to the main thoroughfare and, more importantly, a path to the hospital. I’m feeling better about things and getting Susie to the hospital if I need to.

Early afternoon. I hear a call from our bedroom – “Willie – my water’s broke!!” Yep, it has in deed. Bags are grabbed, miscellaneous junk we feel we need to take and off we go. It’s a short trip to the hospital – less than 5 miles. Yet the snow is amazing. We look up at the top of the snow banks all the way. Hard to believe!! Honestly, I have totally forgotten the arrival and check in process. My next memory is that we are in the labor room. Have I ever told you how pokey Susie is?? Sssshhhhhhheeeeeee tttttaaaaaakkkkkkeeeeeeeesssssss fffffooooooorrrrrrreeeeevvvvvveeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrr – to do anything. Why should giving birth be different? It’s getting late in the afternoon, contractions are far apart and I have an errand to run – I need to buy a car. Yep, buy a car. Susie assures me there’s time (she was more than right), so off I go to the local Dodge dealership. I had picked out a new Omni and today was the day I was to pick it up. The car is brought out and I sit with the sales guy. Paper work, paper work, paper work. I ask him how long it will take. He says it’ll be a bit. I tell him I am sorry to rush him, but my wife is in the hospital and in labor. He gets the strangest look on his face. “Really??” “Yep” I say. He hands me the keys. “Come back Monday, we’ll finish this up. Good luck!” And I am outta there! Back to the hospital.

The labor is taking to long for the doctors liking. Petosen is administered. Now the contractions really pick up – down to 2 minutes apart – for hours, and hours, and hours. Finally, after a total of 37 hours, the doctor looks at us and says “time for a C-Section, this is taking too long and it’s hard on the baby.” This was before baby classes and training of the dad so I couldn’t go in the delivery room with her. I wait. And wait. Finally, a nurse comes and escorts me to the recovery room. I remember Susie rattling around on the gurney – a reaction to the drugs. But she is fine and there, next to her in a warming box is the cutest little critter on the face of the earth – a beautiful little girl. Christina Catherine Keller. Finally presented to all those present on February 4th.

Happy Birthday Sweetie, you’re still the cutest daughter we have!!


UPDATE: I became curious if there were any reports of this blizzard in the government record data base. This is a link to a great description of the blizzard. Seems it was as bad as I remembered.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chrissy, CHRISSY!!! Wrong door!!

I must confess I enjoy taking advantage of our kids living 1 hour away rather than 23! Last night Susie and I took them out to supper and just enjoyed their company for a few hours. I left work a bit early, she had the day off and it was Friday night – it had grandkids written all over it!!!

I enjoy our visits. They are fun to watch – the whole clan. I like to see the whole young family dynamic thing work. Chrissy was shot after a day as a sub with a particularly energetic group of kids. Jeremy had had a studio day, Addie was wired and Emily was just taking it all in. It’s enjoyable to see how they all seem to make it work – at least most of the time. They are truly a couple that is good to each other and have gotten the loving and patient parent thing down pretty good as well. (at least while grandma and grandpa are in the house J )

So, off to supper we went. There is a reasonably good restaurant just 10 minutes away and even though it was only around 4:40 PM, Chrissy was ready to go. “You remember how this works – right?” She says with a bit of a scowl to Jeremy as she “encourages” him and me to get moving before the inevitable meltdown of the kids if they are not fed on time. (Honestly, I remember the whole melt-down thing as well. Susie’s life and mind were even more insane during the 2s and 3s of Chrissy – but that’s a story for another time.) Bundle, bundle. Pack, strap, click, verooooooommmmmm – and off we go.

After supper it’s off for “desert” – to the McDonalds across the highway – with the PLAYLAND attached! Yeesssss – mmmmmmm – playland! So, while the “adults” have ice-cream (yes, I know it was only 7 but, damn it, I can pretend it’s 70, right??) we watch Miss Adaline crawl through tubes, up walls, through tunnels and down slides. A friend is also made – her cute little 3 year old rescuer who helps her through some of the tunnels until she “gets the hang of it”. Yeah, right. All ready she is honing her “damsel in distress” move – to good effect I might add! “Highly Advanced” is the family term for this. The little guy even tried to snag a quick peck on the cheek – her response was a little “slow” – wink, wink.

Anyway, a successful outing! Grandpa grabbed Addie’s hand once she was bundled – and lead her through the maize of kids and doors. As she yanks her hand out and runs to the wrong door I hear myself yell: “Chrissy! CHRISSY!!! Wrong door.”

Oops – it must have been the bouncy blonde hair sticking out of the Big Bird stocking hat knit by Great Grandma that fooled me!! And in the moment, Chrissy’s entire life zipped through my mind – the dancing, swimming, girl scouts, camping and hiking, high school, dance squad, dating, meeting “the guy”, college, wedding, having Addie and Emily – and I realized how much I was looking forward to watching a new version of that movie unfold.

Honestly kid, you picked the right door, the right door indeed!

Has it really been 31 years (after Tuesday – of course!!)

I love having the kids back home!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

How tall is $1 Trillion Dollars??

Trying to understand $1 Trillion Dollars.

Thickness of a bill 0.0043"
# Bills in 1 Foot 2790
#Bills in a football field (300 ft.) 873,000
# Bills in a city block (528 ft.) 1,473,120
# Bills in a mile (5280 ft.) 14,731,200
$1 Trillion  
Height Of stack of $1 bills 358,422,939 ft.
  67,883 miles
Circum. of Earth = 24,859 mi. 2.73 times AROUND the Earth
Height of stack of $100 Bills 3,584,229 ft.
  678 miles
  Davenport, IA to Rochester, NY
Height of stack of $1,000 Bills 358,422 ft.
  67 miles
  Davenport, IA to Cedar Rapids, IA
Average Age of an American 77 Years
  28,105 Days
  674,520 Hours
  40,471,200 Minutes
  2,428,272,000 Seconds
Spend rate of an single American to spend $1 Trillion  
Per Year $12,987,012,987
Per Day $35,580,857
Per Hour $1,482,535
Per Minute $27,708
Per Second $411


Hello??  America???  Are you watching your Government???

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The ten second rule.

I grew up without a father. Most of my aunts on my father’s side were divorced (some with good reason!) and those on my mother’s side all seemed to live quite a ways away. So, I spent plenty of time with older women growing up. Aunt Agnes – a factory rat, grocery store clerk, smoker, drinker – could cuss with the best of them. Aunt Emiline, factory rat, clerk in a pharmacy, also a smoker and drinker – didn’t cuss quite as much. Aunt Ida – married – my 3rd grade teacher, drinker, smoker – tough as nails. In fact, they all were. My mom, of course. Didn’t smoke, worked her ass off in the post office – another woman tough as nails.

I learned many lessons from these women. Feminists every one long before we were told what a feminist was. Self reliant, independent, opinionated, tough – I was truly blessed to know them. One of the lessons I learned quickly was to listen. Interrupting conversations was not permitted. Not that I wasn’t able to join in the conversations – in fact just the opposite – I was encouraged to do so. Just not to interrupt. Listen to what was being said, consider what you want to say, form your thoughts, wait for an appropriate point to share these thoughts. This takes time – but at least 10 seconds. The ten second rule.

They did not state it that way, they just didn’t tolerate stupid thoughts. Actually, they were fairly forgiving, but demanding none the less. Over the years, I have refined the whole ten second rule process. Today it means: say what you are going to day, TO YOUR SELF, IN YOUR HEAD, wait ten seconds, SAY IT AGAIN TO YOUR SELF, IN YOUR HEAD, if it doesn’t sound stupid, insulting, condescending (unless you mean to sound condescending), if it is really what you want to say then, AND ONLY THEN say it to the person or group you are talking to. Since I have my own business and work with prospects and customers all day, this has held me in good stead over the years. However, its true value is in my relationships with friends and family.

Honestly, women reading this, especially those married women, will look at their husbands and acknowledge that all husbands say the most bone-headed things sometimes. The ten second rule is one of the first survival skills a male must learn – beginning at an early age and continuing through death! Do I really want to say this to my wife, girlfriend, fiancĂ©? If I say these words, what will be the outcome? Will I survive? Does she know how to load the 1911? Are the clips next to the bed loaded?

I have been trying to teach this to my son. He’s pushing 20 now. The task seems to be going slowly. But I am hopeful that before the right girl shows up, he will have mastered this survival skill. Or, pray that his beloved is a poor shot!

I have also shared this with my son-in-law. Having lived with his wife for longer that he has, I know the value of this skill to him! She has been asking me to take her to the weapons range for some more shooting lessons. Hummmmm . . . . .

The ten second rule – learn it, love it, use it!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed

It’s my sweetie’s birthday today. We have had a lot of them together. She was 15 and I was 16 when we started dating. That’s where the “sweet sixteen and never been kissed” phrase came into my life. I was already for the smooching stage when we started dating that summer. Sophomores in high school, enjoying the first emotions of a new relationship – dry mouth, fluttery heart, expectations of seeing her – she was my first (and turns out only) girl friend. But, it was important to her to wait for the kiss, wait for the 16th birthday. Today I am sure this sounds terribly foolish and old fashioned – hell in 1966 during the sexual revolution I am sure it sounded foolish. But here was a girl I loved, at least as much as any 16 year old male understands love, so I waited.

Charm bracelets were one of the in-thing gifts of the time. She still has hers filled with charms of our early years together. My charm for her that year seemed appropriate – a car. She could drive after her 16th birthday without parent or adult. I am sure there were other gifts, I don’t remember them, but I remember the car.

We went out that night, honestly I don’t remember that either. My attention was focused on “the kiss”. We had had a huge blizzard that week – massive really. So we didn’t go far, I’m sure. Pulling into her driveway I was very nervous and expectant – then she got out of the car – no kiss! I got out, she took my hand and led me to the side door of their garage and into the garage. Suddenly Puny the cat was in her arms – this was not going my way at all! Slowly, she snuggled into my chest, cat still in her arms, tipped her head up and we kissed for the first time. I have not grown tired of that moment – or the tens of thousands that have followed. Could today really be the 42nd anniversary of our first kiss – really???

Happy Birthday Sweetie!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Still Winter!!

More snow last night - 8 inches or so.  Heavy sigh!

1-14-09 snow 1 (Small)

Tonight and tomorrow it's supposed to be "bitterly cold"!  What the hell does that mean!!  It's only 10 now!  Ah, they say -19F with wind chills below -40!!!!!!  So, now I get it.  Frozen death!!  THAT'S WHAT IT MEANS!!!  FROZEN DEATH!!

Sorry, let me wipe the spittle from the corner of my mouth - the foam got outta hand!

So, it snowed last night.  Ah well, winter in Iowa!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some Halloween Test Video

I am playing with Pinnacal Studio 12, seems to be working really well.

Global Warmng!! Really?????

I will let the photos and video comment for me.

IMAG0006 (Small)

IMAG0007 (Small)

IMAG0009 (Small)

IMAG0012 (Small)

So there ya have it - all this blistering heat is really getting to me.  Thank goodness "the One" will soon have this catastrophe of global warming cured!! 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Twelve Blessings of Christmas


Susie and I went to Mass last night. Honestly, we probably would not have went were it not for her being one of the lectors for the Mass. But, once there, it was apparent I needed a tap on the shoulder which was given during the homily.

The essence of the homily for me boiled down to using the twelve days of Christmas to look for the twelve blessings in my life. I am easily caught up in day to day business dealings, concern for the future, being frustrated when things go differently than I want – I am sure most have experienced this type of frustration. Especially during the Christmas season. I easily over look the blessing I have received – and continue to receive – throughout the year. So here are my twelve blessings for 2008:

1: My wife – loving, honest and direct and willing to put up with me, truly my greatest blessing.

2: My children. Both are kind, loving, hard working kids (surly a 31 year old and a 19 year old are still kids, right??). Add in a great son-in-law that treats my daughter with love and respect and is willing to sit and chat, what more could a parent truly ask for.

3: My two beautiful, happy and healthy grand daughters. They melt my heart with a smile and a giggle.

4: My close friends. This is a changing bunch that listen, laugh, grumble with me and seem to understand just who is at home in my head.

5: The folks I work with. They make everything our company does possible and easy. They have been a blessing for over 25 years and I am thankful to have them around every day!

6: Good health. Susie and I have been in good health this year with our cancers 25 and 5 years respectively behind us. God continues to bless us in this way and we are both grateful.

7: A healthy business. In this time of financial challenge for many, I am fortunate that my company is growing with its best year of the past 25 just ahead.

8: A curious mind. An odd blessing perhaps, but I find that I continue to want to learn and grow. Politics, science, electronics, computers, photography, video, astronomy, camping, canoeing – and eclectic list I know, but all of these areas drive a significant amount of my free time and I am the wiser for it.

9: A great church. Our parish is healthy and growing and willing to do its part to make the community and world better. I have been privileged to participate in a mission effort in Haiti supported by our parish which has been, and continues to be one of the most spiritually enriching things I have ever done.

10: Faith. Perhaps this is self evident, but I find it a blessing that I have faith in a loving God that has our best interests at heart and continues to love us regardless of our failings. A gift I will spend a life time trying to understand.

11: Time. I have been given the blessing of time. I have been able to structure my life so I could spend the important times – school events, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays with my family and friends. I realize how rare this blessing is and I am grateful for it.

12: Fun and humor. When I get out of my own way, relax and stop taking myself and life so seriously, I just have fun with family and friends and life.

So there you have it. Blessings in abundance! I am truly grateful for these many gifts and pray that I will find a way to keep them in my heart and remember what is truly important in life.