No Awe, No Wonder (69/365)

Download PDF

What’s wrong with kids these days?  Aren’t they amazed by anything anymore.  Are all the special effects in movies, or those blasted video games and such are taking the wonder out of the world?  If everything is awesome, then is there any awe left?  I wonder if there’s any wonder left.

On Saturday, my wife and I had to travel to Brookfield to sign some tax forms.  I wanted to make the trip worthwhile for my kids because sitting in the car for an hour and a half without getting to do something cool seemed unfair, especially since it was the weekend.  I decided that stopping at Miller Park would be a unique experience for them.

We arrived at the Brewer’s baseball stadium around three in the afternoon.  For those not familiar with this stadium, it’s a giant brick stadium with a massive green metal roof.  The inside has four levels of seating, and can hold over 40,000 people.  My kids weren’t as amazed as I thought they would be.  I asked my five year old son, Ivan the Wonderful, “So, isn’t it huge?”

“Yeah.  It’s big,” he replied.

Miller Park

We entered the stadium by some doors near the left field corner, and entered a restaurant there called Friday’s Front Row Grill.  I thought we’d get a good view of the field, the grandstands, and the roof from inside the restaurant, bout you couldn’t see as much as I would have liked.  The outdoor balcony wasn’t open.  All you could see out the windows of the restaurant was the field, but the entire field was covered with a tarp.  You couldn’t even tell it was a baseball field.  My daughter asked if they played football here.

Sadly, I answered, “No.  It’s for baseball.  You can’t see the field because of the tarp.”

When we left the restaurant, I started looking around to see if we could enter the stadium to better see the huge closed roof.  All the gates to the concourses were locked shut.  I was irate.  How dare they cover the field!  How dare they preventing us from gazing upon the giant retractable roof!

That’s when I decided to take my kids up the closed escalator.  Yes, that was probably against the rules, but I blame the Brewer’s organization for not giving my kids the experience I wanted to give them.   I guess I could just bring them to a game, but that’s besides the point.  Bow to my unreasonable wishes!

While my wife and daughter were still in the Brewer’s store near the restaurant, so I snatched my two boys, moved aside a yellow construction sign, and led them up an escalator to the second level.  They were going to see the inside of Miller Park, and they were going to like it!  We swiftly made our way upstairs, and then went into the stands.  I pointed up and showed the kids the huge closed roof.  “Isn’t it amazing!  Look at how high the roof is,” I said, my voice filled with wonder.

My nine year old son, Bob the Builder, was someone who I thought would appreciate the soaring arched roof.  He answered with, “It’s tall.”

Discouraged, I told my kids that it was time to leave.  They sensed that we were doing something wrong, so they slunk up the stairs, giggling, hiding behind seats and ducking behind posts.  I didn’t care, probably because I was disappointed with the experience that I thought they should have, so I just strutted towards the escalator.

When we got back downstairs, I saw my wife and my daughter.  I waved them over so I could show my daughter the upstairs.  She gets excited about everything, so maybe The Flower Child could lift my spirits.  We turned to go back up the escalator, and a maintenance man suddenly appeared at the top of the steps.  Apparently, my bold move to go up the stairs the first time was noticed by someone, and he was sent to make sure it didn’t happen again.

“You see the caution signs,” he said.  “That means you can’t come up here.”  I nodded.  My wife shook her head in dismay at my bold attempt to snoop around upstairs.  Disheartened and defeated, I lead my family out of the building.

Was I wrong for wanting a bigger reaction from my kids?  I’m not sure.  Maybe they were impressed, but didn’t really say it.  Who knows?  Are my kids, or all kids these days not amazed things as easily?   I’m not sure, but I think I was impressed a lot easier than their generation is.  Was I wrong for sneaking around, and taking them upstairs to show them more of the stadium?  Of course not!

Lifetime Writing Goals – (40/365)

Download PDF

I’m reading a book by this blogger lady, Kristen Lamb, that helps fiction writers, and one of her suggestions is to write down all your goals.  You start with your goals six months from now, and work up to your Lifetime Goals.  Let’s write ’em down. This will be fun to look back on, provided I am successful.  Otherwise, this could be the beginning of my personal trail of tears.

Six Months – August 2015.

1. I’ll still be writing one journal post per day.  2. I will have my first book either published or sold to a publisher.  3. The first book I wrote, “O.K. is Great” has an editor looking at it right now, but if it doesn’t get an offer, I’m putting it out there on my own.  Also, “The Axe” should be edited and ready to be pitched to the publishers.  4. My blog will have at least double the amount of followers.  I have six right now.  COME ON BIG 12!  5. The Brewers will be in first place in the NL Central (that’s just wishful thinking), and I will take my kids to at least one game this year.

Look at that serious home run face!

Look at that serious home run face!

One Year – February 2016

1. I will say the word “February” with out always pronouncing the “r”.  I like to annoy people by saying FebRRRUUUary.  I should stop that.  It’s annoying.  2.  I will have my fourth book written.  I’m not sure which book it will be.  It could be O.K. number Three, The Cross Country Running Realistic Fiction I’ve been thinking about, or a sequel to The Axe, but I better have another book written a year from now.  3.  I will have sold at least 1,000 copies of O.K. is Great if I self published it.  4. I won’t blog every day anymore, but I will blog three times a week.  I want to at least have 24 subscribers to the blog by next year.  Exponential growth!

Three Years – February 2018

1. I will have three books for sale, “O.K. is Great”, the sequel “The Beast of Boykinville Road”, and “The Axe”.  I will have sold at least 10,000 copies for my books by then.  2.  During the summer, I will visit schools and bookstores to promote my books!  3. I will have at least six books written, and at least three for sale.  The Cross Country Book will have been written by now.  4.  I will maintain the blog with at least one post per week, but I also will be doing at least one video per month on my Tips4Running YouTube channel to strengthen my audience for my realistic fiction Cross Country book.  I will have at least 50,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel.  The Blog should have 384 subscribers if it continues to double every six months.  This post is now turning into a math problem.  Yeck!

Five Years – February 2020

1. I will finish the “O.K. series”  I plan on writing five books in this series, and by this time, I will be putting out the last in the series.  The five books in the series will be titled, “O.K. is Great”, “The Beast of Boykinville Road”, “Money is O.K.”, “O.K. 4.O”, and “The Basketball Book (working title)”.  The total number of books sold by now will be over 20,000.  2.  One of my books, either “The Axe” or the first “O.K.” book will be picked up by a traditional publisher.  3.  I also will be working on the sequel to the Cross Country running book, and it will be about track.  4. The blog will have more than 384 followers.  I got tired of doing math and I don’t know where my wife’s calculator is.

Ten Years – February 2030

1.  I will be able to decide if I want to keep teaching or not because my books are making enough money to afford me that choice.  2.  I will have at least 10 books written by this point and eight of them will be published.  3.  I will still have a strong social media presence, but I will be flexible enough and work at least once a week on whatever medium I prefer (blog, YouTube, etc.).  4.  I will be a high school coach for either cross country, track, or baseball because my kids will be in one of those sports (That is assuming they like one of these sports).  5.  My books will have sold over 100,000 copies all together.  6.  I will eat caviar and drink things that require my pinky finger to be extended.

Twenty Years – February 2040

I’ll be 58 years old.  I’ll have the financial flexibility due to my book sales plus the money I’ve earned from teaching to decide if I want to retire or not.

Wish me luck!

Glorious Joy from a Crushing Defeat (33/365)

Download PDF

It’s not nice to laugh and cheer when others fail, but it sure is fun!  There are two instances in my life, where as a Green Bay Packer’s fan, I felt incredible joy watching a rival NFL team suffer a crushing defeat.

Of course watching Seattle lose in the final moments of Super Bowl XLIX was one of them, but before I highlight my elation, let’s go back to the year 2010.  Brett Favre, a former Packer, was playing for the Minnesota Vikings during a playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.  The winner of the game would go on to play in the Super Bowl.  The game was tied with only 19 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.  The Vikings were about 36 yards away from the end zone, but wanted to get a little closer to try for a game winning field goal.  On third down, Brett Favre rolled out of the pocket and had plenty of green space in front of him to get several yards closer for the field goal attempt, but instead threw the ball across his body into the middle of the field.  INTERCEPTION!  New Orleans ended up winning the game.  Oh, such jubilation filled my heart watching the Vikings hopes and dreams get crushed.

Here’s the Vikings announcer calling the play.  Just listen to him suffer as he calls the action.  It’s so fantastic!

Something even better happened during the Super Bowl between the stupid Seahawks and the New England Patriots.  Seattle, a team that the Packers should have beat (that’s a link to an article where I detail how many different ways the Packers lost the NFC Championship game), was on the one yard line with less than a minute left on the clock.  They were down by four points, so they needed a touchdown.  Instead of handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, a beast of a man, they decided to run a pass play.  Some little dude on the Patriots jumped the route.  INTERCEPTION!  He picked the ball off and was tackled on the one yard line.  Seattle doesn’t take the lead.

SeahawksNo

I danced with glee watching Seattle’s tragedy.  The disgusted look on Richard Sherman’s face as he watched it happen was so delightful for me.  But, be still my beating heart.  The Seahawks had another chance.  They could get a safety if they tackled a Patriots player in the end zone on the next play.  Their chance to win was slim, but I watched them pull one out like this only weeks before.  I tensed up as Tom Brady crept under his center.  Before he could hike the ball, a Seattle defender jumped off sides.  Hooray!  Now they couldn’t get a safety.  The Patriots were going to win!  What does Seattle do next?  Of course they try to start a donnybrook (my favorite word for a fight).  Way to keep it classy, Seahawks.  My heart is still bursting with glorious joy.

The Jack of All Trades is Dead (29/365)

Download PDF

As I am getting deeper and deeper into the blogging world (I’ve only been at it for a month), I’m beginning to realize that my blog is pointless.  There isn’t any real reason to keep reading it because I don’t focus on one topic.  This journal is just a collection of my inane ramblings, and that really has no place in our world of hyper specialization.  I don’t want to find a niche.  I hate the word niche.  You have to pronounce it all weird like it’s some sort of French cuisine.  Have some quiche and make sure to focus on your niche.

But, I don’t want to write about one thing every day!  I like food, but I don’t want to have to take 46 pictures of my bowl of ramen noodles while I blog about the secret splash of soy sauce I put on it.  I like sports, but I don’t want to break down the shot selection of Kobe Bryant at home games against teams with a center that is over seven feet tall.  I like traveling, but I don’t want to visit Brazil and fish for peacock bass in the Amazon River.

Wait a minute.  I actually would like to try the last one.

What I’m getting at is the Jack of all trades is dead,  or at least he doesn’t live on an internet website.  If you want attention, if you want success, if you want money, find one thing that you are good at and then do it over and over and over and over again.

Think I’m lying.  I did specialize in something for a while.  I wrote vacuum reviews for a couple of years.  I’d get a new vacuum shipped to my house every couple of weeks, I’d run a series of tests on it, write a review, make a video, and post that article.  I got paid well, and it drove me absolutely insane.  Here’s an excerpt from the review of Dyson DC41 Animal Vacuum.

The “Root Cyclone Technology” is combined with the HEPA filters to eliminate any dust from coming out of the vacuum exhaust. The particle scanner detected no dust over 0.3 microns coming out of the Ball vacuum.

Hot damn, that’s some awesome writing!  I’m raking in the page views with my great keyword selection and SEO friendly content.  Now, fork over my money.

Take that same advice and apply it to our economy.  Refine that hyper specialized skill so you no one else is as good as you.

Maybe you’re a welder.  That’s not good enough.  Maybe you’re a scuba diver.  Not specialized enough.  But if you can weld underwater, BAM!  Success.

I got a question for ya.  How’s that chicken taste?

I'm a one day old baby boy chick, and I'm about to die!

I’m a one day old baby boy chick, and I’m about to die!

You can thank the graduates of the Zen-Nippon Chick Sexting School for your juicy chicken.  At this school, a student is trained how to squeeze a day old chick and look at it’s cloaca (the chick’s private parts) and determine if it is a boy or a girl.  It sounds easy, but apparently it isn’t.  When a chick is a day old, “there are as many as a thousand vent configurations that a sexer has to learn to become competent. The job is made even more difficult by the fact that the sexer has to diagnose the bird with just a glance.” Excerpt from Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. (Affiliate Link to Amazon).

See, the females can lay eggs, and their meat is tender, so we keep those ones.  The males aren’t so nice, and their meat is tougher.  Most of those boy chicks are killed off.  Hooray for hyper specialization.  If we had to wait six weeks to look at their feathers to determine the boys from the girls, that would waste a lot of feed, because those cocks have to die right away.

Alright.  That’s enough from me.  Enjoy this YouTube video vacuum review of the Dyson DC41 Animal.  I’m the producer, and my wife is the on camera talent.

Don’t worry if you didn’t like this post.  I’ll write about something different tomorrow.

The Stupid Stage (20/365)

Download PDF

My kids are an inspiration to me, in so many ways, but I’d like to highlight one example where they are making me a better person, that is, until I hurt myself following their lead.

I have an expression I coined for myself whenever I am learning a new task.  I call this “The Stupid Stage”.  It’s not the nicest phrase, but that’s how I feel whenever I am trying to do something new.  I feel so stupid because I don’t understand how to do this new task, and I’m afraid other people will watch me and think, “That guy looks so stupid!”

I bring this up because over the weekend, my kids, my wife, and I all went cross country skiing.  Now, I’ve only tried cross country skiing a few times in my life, so I‘m pretty awful at it.  I’ve never been able to move out of “The Stupid Stage”.  I awkwardly try to push through the snow as I go uphill, and pray I don’t fall on the downhills.

Don't fall, stickman!

Don’t fall, stickman!

My kids are my inspiration.  They don’t even think about how good or bad they are at it.  They just strap on the skis and get after it.  There is no worries about “The Stupid Stage”  To them, starting out something new is “The Funny Stage”.

They don’t care if they fall or fail.  Matter of fact, once they get the hang of something, it just makes them even more bold.  For instance, my five year old fell a lot when skiing, but he kept on getting after it.  Once he was halfway good, he wanted to try the hills again and again.  I wish he had some sense of fear, or worries about what other people think, but nope, he doesn’t.  None of them do.  They don’t listen to their parents worries or concerns, like, “Slow down.  You might fall.  Don’t try that…”

I want to be like them.  I want to take more risks in life and not worry about how I look.  That’s how I can learn.  No more “The Stupid Stage” expression for me.  I now will embrace “The Funny Stage.”   Well, I do worry about falling down when I’m trying to ski.  It hurts when you’re old and you fall, but it does look funny.

The Packers Snatched Defeat from The Jaws of Victory (19/365)

Download PDF

I’m a Green Bay Packers fan, and yesterday was a terrible day for me.  The collapse that I witnessed was historical.  If you weren’t following along, I’ll sum up what happened for you.

As my Uncle Dick said, “The Packers managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Aaaand, that’s exactly what happened. There are so many different times where if the Packers were to make one play, JUST ONE MORE PLAY, they would have won.  Now the sad part is, there are about 120 plays per game.  Off the top of my head, I’ll list how many chances the Packers had to make JUST ONE MORE PLAY!

My sad attempt at the Packers logo.

My sad attempt at the Packers logo.

1. Rodgers was picked off in the end zone in the first quarter.

2-5. I should list like number two through 400 for this one because of how many times the Packers were in Seattle territory without scoring.  Anyways, the Packers were on the one yard line for several plays on two drives in a row.  They had to settle for field goals that are shorter than kicking an extra point!

6. Third and 19!  Let me say this again.  Third and 19 to go.  The Packers rush three players.  Russell Wilson sits back in the pocket, makes himself a sandwich, eats it, takes a potty break, comes back, and then completes a pass way down the field.  WHY RUSH THREE.  GET HIM LIKE YOU DID FOR EVERY OTHER PLAY IN THE GAME.  The Seahawks score later on that drive.  As the great Herm Edwards said, “You play to win the game!”

7. Morgan Burnett picks the ball off late in the fourth quarter, and he slides down!  WHY SLIDE?!  I know there wasn’t much time left, but go for the jugular.  Don’t worry about fumbling.  RUN DOWN THE FIELD AS FAR AS YOU CAN!

8-10.  All we needed was one more first down.  JUST ONE MORE, but we ran the ball three times, like everyone in the world knew we would, and then we have to punt.

11. The onside kick.  Some dude, I’m trying to wipe his name from my memory so he doesn’t live on in infamy like Bill Buckner, although he does have the same initials, missed the onsides kick.  It went through his hands and smacked him in the head.  Seattle recovered and drove down for another touchdown.

12.  Russell Wilson was flushed from the pocket during a two point conversion and heaved a prayer up into the air.  His prayer was answered when some dude caught it on the goal line.  Seattle took a three point lead.

Lucky number 13.  Aaron Rodgers called TAILS on the coin flip.  Who calls tails?  Honestly!  HEADS WE WIN!  I admit the last one is a stretch.

Alright.  I got it out of my system.  My rant is over, although I know I missed a bunch of other plays where they could have won.  Now I have to go cry.