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Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 59, Feb. 28: Who Am I?

My Notable Disguises
and Aliases
I dedicate this 59th blog to my friend, Al, since he suggested the topic. (And he's almost 59 - oops, sorry, Al, more like a young 55) It's just one of his many suggested topics, one of which could eventually inspire me to do My All-Time Favorite Appendages. We'll see.)
1. The Little Old Lady: This voice and personality were very popular with my youngest son and several of my nieces and nephews years ago. I love to make kids laugh.
2. Oily: Probably the one I dislike the most, but still look back on it with nostalgia. My friend Mark gave me this nickname as a sophomore when I came to high school one day with what HE thought was oily hair. The name stuck for years, even after I started balding.
3. Tabby: Like many pet owners, I talk for my pet cat Tabby.
And, he's usually a smart-aleck.
4. The Bush Master: I made myself the leader of our punk rock band called The Bushmen. Only the drummer knew how to play his instrument. We pounded ours and kind of screamed. I played violin.
5. Husband: For years I've been a pretty selfish, overgrown boy disguised as a husband. But I'm slowing growing up
and maybe it won't be a disguise forever.
6. A homeplate umpire: I wore the mask and became quite confident calling balls and strikes - for kids age 10-and-younger.
7. Swenny: My Idaho Falls friend Danimal called me this and I became his accomplice to some pretty crazy nights in a Mormon town.
8. The Recovering Widower: I definitely had to put on some masks that first year to hide the tears and sorrows.
Nobody likes a pitiful widower.
9. The Bouncer: If I have enough to drink and the music is just right ... I'll get out the dance floor and bounce -
with or without a partner.
10. Carl Yastrzemski: I was the Red Sox star outfielder as a 10-year-old throwing a tennis ball up against the house and causing the Fenway Park crowd to howl over the great running catches I'd make.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 58, Feb. 27: Nip It!

Favorite Situation Comedy
"Secondary" Characters
The Andy Griffith Show is such a favorite of mine, I could probably include 5-6 on this list. But I'll spread it out a little because I like so many.
1. Floyd the Barber, The Andy Griffith Show: He's just so funny and lovable. I especially liked him in the episode where he and Barney are held hostage by three female prison escapees.
2. Arnold Ziffel, Green Acres: Maybe this says something about my tastes, but this pig was hilarious. 
3. Hymie, Get Smart: From a pig to a robot.
The perfect "deadpan" comedy character.
4. Jethrine, The Beverly Hillbillies: OK, by now you can see I like strange characters. I know someone who honestly believes this part was NOT played by Max Baer Jr.
5. Eddie Haskell, Leave it to Beaver: What an instigating,
two-faced, mean ... genius.
6. Uncle Arthur, Bewitched: Paul Lynde turned this character
into a standup comedian.
7. Uncle Fester, The Addams Family: Strangest among
a strange family.
8. Newman, Seinfeld: An "out-there" character who epitomized
quality over quantity.
9. Gomer Pyle, The Andy Griffith Show: Aw shucks, how could you not love and laugh with Gomer?
10. Hank Kimball, Green Acres: The buy could talk your ear off.
Glad I don't know him personally.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 57, Feb. 26: A Strike

Random Memories
from Bowling
Not sure why I thought about my bowling past this morning, but I did. And I've had some wonderful - and some strange - memories.
1. Learning the curve: My Aunt Mary (my mom's sister) was a very good bowler and taught me a 5-step approach, holding the ball up and after releasing, extending my hand out as if to off a handshake.
2. Getting some ink: Our Stoughton youth league took a bus to the state tournament in Fond du Lac and a huge bowling alley. I rolled well above my average and, with my handicap,
got my name in the Wis. State Journal.
3. My dad's F-bomb: I was about 14 and was at the Badger Bowl during my dad's regular league night. Not the greatest bowler, he missed a single pin, turned around and said the f-word. It's the only time I remember him saying it (I guess when I was 3, he said it at home and I repeated it, so he quit saying it)
4. She beat me: Dating an athletic girl in high school, we went bowling and she outscored me. I can't remember if I tried my hardest or not - probably.
5. Cruising the Square: It was common for teens to drive to Madison and drive around and around the Square. While checking out chicks one night, we almost had a carful until I blurted out "Would you like to go bowling?" Not a ladies man, I was serious. They sped off.
6. The nose-picker: A group of us newspaper types in Idaho Falls went bowling one night. One reporter had a horrible habit of picking his nose with his pinky, as he talked.
Some memories you wish you didn't keep.
7. Dubuque mixed league: Jane and I joined a league at Riverside. I ended up getting the high game and high average - frustrating the secretary who had pretty much figured he'd win both easily.
8. Dubuque men's league I: A group of sports reporters joined a league at Creslanes. Craig, a novice, fired his first ball into the gutter and onto an adjoining lane, causing our aging sports editor to almost choke on his beer while laughing.
9. Third-hand smoke: Coming home from that men's league, I brought my heavy second-hand smoke into the bedroom, causing some serious third-hand smoke to Jane.
10. Dubuque men's league II: Coming out of retirement last year with a stubby middle finger following my mower accident, I still managed to average 175 - using a 12-pound orange house ball!
My bowling socks from Kris inspired me :-)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 56, Feb. 25: Have a Handful of Blanks

My Favorite Cartoon Characters
(Before they became prime time)
Most of these have stood the test of time. That is, they're as enjoyable as an adult as they were as a child (sometimes moreso). I'm not including contemporary ones like The Simpsons, Family Guy and Beavis & Butthead. My cartoons were not on primetime (though the Flintstones are generally considered the first primetime cartoon show)
1. (tie) Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck: Unbelievably creative, with perfect timing. Funniest moment: Bugs is host of a TV show. Daffy is sent out on the first day of duck season. He gets shot up, comes back to the show looking horrible. "Don't worry Daffy," Bugs says, "they always use blanks." Daffy spits out a bunch of bullets. "Blanks," he says, "have a handful of blanks."
2. Droopy: A poodle with a droopy face, his deadpan delivery under even the worst of circumstances foiled his enemies
and made me laugh until I cried.
3. Foghorn Leghorn: What a hoot! The Southern gentleman just couldn't quite pull off the stunts that seemed so possible.
I especially liked his egghead nephew.
4. Johnny Quest: One of the only action cartoons I enjoyed. His friend Hadji and the dog Bandit were great characters, too. I haven't seen an episode in probably 30 years.
5. The Flintstones: The characters were neat, but the Stone Age gadgets and prehistoric animals who were vacuum cleaners
or mowers were even more interesting.
6. The Jetsons: The future version of No. 5 and almost as interesting. Loved Astro the dog - "Rought O!"
7. The Road Runner: I honestly didn't like this too much as a kid - the coyote never won. The humor grew on me as I got older.
8. Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids: A real trailblazer, it gave us a view of the inner city. I especially liked Mushmouth and Fat Albert Jackson.
9. The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show: Not especially enamored with the namesakes, they had other eclectic characters -
like Mr. Peabody and Aesop's Fables.
10. Davey & Goliath: Not really an animated cartoon, this Sunday morning claymation show was quite memorable. Again, the dog Goliath, was cool with his drawl-like speech. "Awwww, Davey."
Honorable mention characters: Underdog, Elmer Fudd,
the Tasmanian Devil, Tweety Bird, Tennessee Tuxedo
and Huckleberry Hound.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 55, Feb. 24: Bottoms Up

Whoa! Sorry to Scare You Like That
My favorite drinks
1. It's Got To Be Milk: I drink as much of it now as I did in grade school. I've gone from whole milk as a kid, 2% as a teen, 1% with Jane, skim with Kris and now organic skim with Kris.
(That's "cream" on my lip, btw)
2. Mountain Dew: From healthy to junk. I don't drink coffee, so a Dew in the morning - no earlier than 8:20 - gets me going
(to the bathroom a lot more, too, in recent years :-(
3. Bottle of Corona beer: With lime in it, if available.
4. Orange juice: It goes perfectly with my peanut butter toast in the morning or with vodka - not in the a.m., unless after midnight.
5. Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweet: I love sharing one with Kris or my mother-in-law Joan (if either have two, they giggle)
6. Flavored martinis: I forget all of the names, but I usually like raspberry, cranberry or lemon types.
7. Bottle of Blue Moon beer: With orange in it, if available (even tho I teased my friend Jon the first time I saw him drinking one.)
This is Kris' favorite beer.
8. My "mixture": This MUST include orange juice and any or all of the following: cherry juice, grape juice, apple juice, cranberry juice.
No alcohol! I often made these for the boys and me.
9. Coke: I don't care what my sister Ann says,
it's not as sweet at Pepsi!
10. Long Island Ice Tea: My sister-in-law, Julie, got me into these. They'd be higher, but they go down so well,
I usually get a headache later.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 54, Feb. 23: '80s Music

My Top Twenty
Rock and Pop
The 1980s wasn't my favorite decade of music, but it was definitely better than the 1990s. Here are my favorites, broken into two divisions.
Rock songs
"Crazy Train," Ozzy Osbourne
"Don't Stop Believin," Journey
"Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," Aerosmith
"867-5309/Jenny," Tommy Tutone
"One Thing Leads to Another," The Fixx
"Pride and Joy," Stevie Ray Vaughn
"Simply Irresistible," Robert Palmer
"Sweet Dreams." The Eurythmics
"Urgent," Foreigner
"What I Like About You," The Romantics
Pop songs
"Every Breathe You Take," The Police
"Human Nature," Michael Jackson
"I Want to Get Next to You," Rose Royce
"Leather and Lace," Stevie Nicks & Don Henley
"Misunderstanding," Genesis
"Nikita," Elton John
"Sailing," Christopher Cross
"Trouble," Lindsey Buckingham
"Waiting on a Friend," The Rolling Stones
"Winning," Santana

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 53, Feb. 22: The Daughter I Never Had

And What I'd Love Her to Be
Of course, had there ever been a chance for me to have a daughter, Jane and/or Kris would have a lot of say in these things. But, as Kris has told me often,
this is my blog so it's my imagination.
1. Her name would be Sarah: It's a great Biblical figure, and the name of my wonderful great-grandmother on my mom's side.
2. She'd have blue eyes: Like mine, and they'd shine
especially bright in the sunlight.
3. She'd be a Tomboy: I'd wrestler her until she was too old to be wrestled; I'd pitch her baseballs until she told me to stop; I'd rebound her every missed shot, which wouldn't be many.
4. She'd be beautful: No matter how she looked on the outside.
5. She'd be great at math: And help bust that stupid statistic that girls aren't as good as boys in this school subject.
6. She would have high self-esteem: Though an overused concept for kids in our world today, I believe young girls need this when it comes to dealing with other girls and, most especially, boys.
7. She'd make me cry (a lot): As an infant on my lap, as a teetering toddler; as a gangly pre-teen, as a teenager heading off to Prom; as a college freshmen leaving home and as a perfect bride.
8. She'd be a modern feminist: This is a woman who is equally confident enough to go it alone - if SHE so chose to - or be content to become a housewife - IF that was HER choice.
9. She'd call me "daddy": Even after she was married;
and she'd always be my girl.
10. She'd have a deep and devoted love of God: We'd share our thoughts on Him and His son Jesus - to my dying days.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 52, Feb. 21: Over-Rated

Things That Aren't As Good
as They Say They Are
This is one of my most subjective lists - obviously - since I'm probably in the minority
in over-rating most of these.
Hot cars: Power under the hood, gadgets on the dash, heat in the seats ... I prefer to just drive from here to there.
Radiohead: I've tried and tried and tried liking this group's odd music and still haven't found one song that gets the privilege
of joining my iPod.
Expensive wine: Guess I'm just not sophisticated enough to tell the subtle differences. But I know what I like.
Marlon Brando: In many of his movies, he seemed like an urgent actor urgently acting out a part, rather than
naturally becoming the part.
Shaquille O'Neal: He came into the NBA a big brute who mostly dunked after forcing his way through defenders (that's an offensive foul, ref!) and that's how he's going out.
First class seating: It's just not me. I'm one of the people
they glance at as we walk by.
Oprah: She's a nice woman and all, but not somebody who should be almost worshipped by many people.
Graceland: It's smaller than you'd think and much more tacky.
Back rubs: They're OK. I've had some nice ones.
But I don't yearn for them as many people do.
The New England Patriots: They've been good, but not as good as ESPN and the East Coast media make them out to be.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 51, Feb. 20: Ballplayers

My All-Time Favorite
Baseball Players
Guess I've got spring training fever. Most of these became my favorites while I was still young and impressionable. But some in the past couple of decades showed a love for the game and loyalty to a team that impressed me, as well.
1. Tyrus Raymond Cobb, Tigers: When I read about him as a 12-year-old, I was mesmerized. What a talent, what a terror. I know his bad sides, but you can love a ballplayer
and still be disgusted by the man.
2. Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox: Only 10 when I first heard his name in 1967, I loved his name and his game. Add Conigliaro, Petrocelli and "Boomer" Scott ... and you've got a Red Sox fan for life.
3. Lou Gehrig, Yankees: I know, how can a lifelong Sox fan rank a Yankee No. 3? This man was amazing - on the field and off.
I feel lucky to have just read about him. 
4. Kirby Puckett, Twins: How could somebody with a body shaped like his be such a versatile athlete? You knew how much he loved playing every day he stepped on the field.
5. Wade Boggs, Red Sox: Mr. Consistent, he reminded me of a modern-day Cobb the way he could spray hits around. Went downhill late in his career. Always had his wife fix him chicken on game day.
6. Cal Ripken Jr., Orioles: Anyone, in the modern era, who could beat Gehrig's record for consecutive games must be admired. And loyal? I'd be proud to be an Orioles' fan for this guy alone.
7. Willie Mays, Giants: The Say Hey Kid was another super athlete - the best ever in baseball? - who also loved the game. Too many players these days are in it mostly for the money.
8. Babe Ruth, Yankees: He was just too good (pitching too!) and too flamboyant to not make almost anybody's
Top 10 list of baseball players.
9. Albert Pujols, Cardinals: As you might tell by my list, I'm not enamored by today's ballplayers. But Pujols is as good - and as classy - as they come (but we'll see how his salary situation plays out).
10. Shoeless Joe Jackson, White Sox: First of all, he wasn't "knowingly" in the scandal. Second of all, he sounds like he was unbelievable at the plate and in the outfield.
And how about that nickname!
Honorable mention: Notice there are no pitchers in my top 10. If I had to pick a couple, it would be Bob Gibson, Cardinals, and Walter Johnson, Senators. Both awesome in their eras.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 50, Feb. 19: Stately

My Favorite States
Since I've reached Day 50 without missing a single one, I'm paying tribute to our 50 states. These are my 10 favorites, for a variety of reasons.
1. Wisconsin (My birth state, it's my favorite despite the messy protests going on there this week. I lean on the side of the governor - for many reasons - but can empathize with the teachers.)
2. Idaho (I lived there only 18 months, but came away in awe of its beauty. Because it's either too far to drive or too expensive to fly, I haven't been back there in more than 25 years.)
3. Iowa (My "home" for longer than any other place, I've grown to appreciate Iowans and Dubuquers. But I doubt I could live much further west than the Mississippi River, where it's mostly flat and rural.)
4. Missouri (Another "home," but only for five months. I worked at the Fulton Daily Gazette, which sold out to a competitor, causing me to be laid off. It's where I also dated my only "Southern Belle."
5. Wyoming (If I had seen only the Gillette area, where I worked, Wyo. might not be on this list. But the Teton and Big Horn mountains, along with Yellowstone Park, are magnificent.)
6. Nebraska (It's where Kris' family lives - most notably Papillion near Omaha - and it's become a great place to visit. Check out the fabulous Vala Pumpkin Patch in nearby Gretna sometime.)
7. California (I'd never want to live there, but I've visited San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego - my favorite. Covered a Rose Bowl as a sports editor and once ventured onto Blacks Beach with my friend Andy Sviatoslavsky.)
8. Tennessee (I've traveled through it a few times on the way so Florida. Just loved Chattanooga. Also visited Shiloh and Graceland during a trip about 20 years ago. Very pretty state.)
9. Illinois (Chicago is a great place to visit, and I live close enough to the tourist town of Galena to occasionally drive over. Several dear relatives live in Illinois, as well.)
10. Alaska (One of only about 10 states I haven't seen, it's the one I'd most like to someday visit, but doubt it will ever happen.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 49, Feb. 18: Furniture Faves

My Favorite Furniture
of All-Time
I apologize to any piece of furniture I might have forgotten on this unusual list.
1. A used maroon recliner: We got this from Jane's aunt Jane and kept it downstairs at our home on Napier Street. I spent a lot of comfortable, reflective hours in it - many with
my young son Shawn or Tabby on my lap.
2. A bright blue couch: This gawdy thing came with an apartment I rented in Idaho Falls. A great conversation piece, this couch was big enough for me to get lost in.
3. Kris' antique RCA Victor (above): I thought it was cool the first time I saw it in her house. About four feet high, this brown radio now stands proudly and perfectly in our 100-year-old Hill Street home.
4. A multi-colored Ottoman: One of the many wonderful items donated to my family when Jane was fighting cancer, it's still with me today. I thought it was an over-sized footstool;
never heard of an Ottoman before.
5. Our bed: Kris and I splurged for a new bed a couple of years ago, partly to perhaps help a bad back I have. It's kind of worked, but more importantly, it's helped Kris and I bond - with Tabby sometimes, too!
6. Bunk beds as a kid: How cool was that? We got them as pre-teens, my brother and I, and we took turns sleeping on top and bottom. I listened to many a Milwaukee Bucks game on the radio,
in the dark, in my bunk.
7. Flat-screen, HD TV: It's not huge and it's sort of hidden in the "clubhouse," but the couple of years we've had it, I've marveled at the picture during games, movies and nature programs.
8. Dad's desk: He made me a desk for a future office in a future home. I transported it to Wyoming with me, but regrettfully sold it when I had to move farther west to Idaho.
9.  College bean bag chair: It was as blue as the couch I had in Idaho Falls. I ended up not using it that much, but it felt cool to be hip and with the times for a change.
10. The dresser: I've had the same dresser from my first marriage for more than 20 years now. Its big mirror, side shelves and decaying drawers are a part of me. But I'm glad Kris and I
are getting a new one soon to share.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 48, Feb. 17: One for the Road

My Most Memorable Bars
Even during my biggest "drinking days," I wasn't what you'd call a party animal. And those are long gone. But during the course of my life, I've been in some memorable bars.
Here are 10 that come to mind.
The Bee Hive, Stoughton, Wis.: I was only in this tiny shack of a bar next to the Yahara River as a kid with Dad. The bar sponsored my Uncle Jim's stock car, which was painted like a bumble bee.
The Stone Hearth, Madison, Wis.: The first "nightclub" type bar I entered at a legal age. It evolved into the hottest disco in town, though I never quite got into the Donna Summer scene.
Sportsman's Bar, Stoughton, Wis.: Somewhat of a hick bar, it sponsored our slow-pitch softball team. It had a cool shuffle board.
The Red Shed, Madison, Wis.: This was my favorite State Street area bar and I'll always remember hearing the Cars' song "Just What I Needed" blaring out the jukebox one crowded night.
ABC, Orlando, Fla.: It was a chain of disco/liquor stores. My college friends and I spent time in them during a couple of spring breaks. Danced with a blonde who wondered what "state" Wisconsin was in.
Name Long Forgotten, Gillette, Wyo.: I was in it only once. You had to drive out a dusty road in the barren brown hills to get to it, and when you arrived, the dirt floor was as dusty as the drive.
The Lounge, Idaho Falls, Ida.: I believe this was the name. If not, it should have been as it featured classic lounge lizards on a stage. Had some good times with my buddy nicknamed "Danimal."
The Greenhouse, Kieler, Wis.: The popular (very popular) little bar in the little town of Kieler, just across the Mississippi River from Dubuque. Shared good times with brothers-in-law there.
The Busted Lift: Still perhaps the coolest bar in Dubuque, it's like an Irish cavern pub or something, with rock walls and low ceilings.
Seen some great music there.
Isabella's: Downstairs of a 100-year-old home, this quaint spot was mine and Kris' favorite. It was long and narrow, and featured eclectic performers. It closed a few years ago :-(

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 47, Feb. 16: I'm Having a Birthday

Photo from Wikipedia Commons
Some Memorable Birthdays
I turned 54 today - no longer a spring chicken, though I still have a spring in my step. I certainly don't remember every birthday, but the following left a mark.
13th, 1970: I got real cocky about being a teenager, which my dad threw back in my face real soon after I was acting like a 2-year-old.
18th, 1975: It was the legal age to drink at the time, but I hosted a non-alcoholic party at my home, which made my parents proud.
21st, 1978: A junior at UW-Madison living in the Regent Apts., four of us walked up to State Street for a couple - and a couple more.
25th, 1982: My second month in Gillette, Wyo.,
and my first birthday alone.
30th, 1987: Spent it with my wife, Jane, and 3-month-old son,
Jay. (How life can change so quickly.)
35th, 1992: Spent it with my wife, Jane, Jay
and 1 1/2 -year-old son, Shawn.
40th, 1997: Totally clueless and surprised by a party Jane set up at Governor Dodge Motel in Platteville. Members of the Swensons and Richards were there.
45th, 2002: Melancholy birthday as we continued to battle Jane's breast cancer. (How life can change so quickly)
She was gone a year and a half later.
50th, 2007: Totally blind-sided by how depressed this milestone made me feel (Kris helped me get through it)
54th, today: Shared with Kris and many friends on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 46, Feb. 15: Recent Downloads

10 New Songs for iTunes
One of my projects mentioned in a previous blog is going through the entire 695-page Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits and finding songs to add to my iTunes library. (I'm up to page 144) They're songs I'd forgotten about, but like enough to buy. Last night's batch is considerably slanted toward R&B and soul. Listed alphabetically by artist, as found in the book:
Brickell, Edie & New Bohemians: "What I Am." A catchy 1989 tune
that I just couldn't pass up.
Brown, Bobby: "My Prerogative." Bouncy tune from 1988 that had me bouncing on the dance floor (without a partner) during a TH Christmas party. (Jane laughed as hard as I'd ever seen her laugh.)
Browne, Jackson: "Somebody's Baby." Popular in 1982 when
I lived in Idaho Falls, Ida.
Canned Heat: "Going Up the Country." A 1968 acid-rock type of song that reminds me of the Allman Brothers.
Carl Carlton: "Everlasting Love." Popular in late 1974 when
I was a high school senior dating a freshman.
Chad & Jeremy: "Yesterday's Gone." A pretty 1964 folk hit by this duo. I also own the beautiful "A Summer Song."
Chapman, Tracy (seen in photo above): "Fast Car." I didn't like this 1988 song as much as her 1996 "Give Me One Reason,"
but it's good enough to make the cut.
Charles, Ray: "Unchain My Heart." I should probably own more of his songs, but I especially like the background girls on this 1961 hit.
Charles & Eddy: "Would I Lie to You?" This 1992 song
is my second-favorite of two with the same name.
The other is a 1985 rocker by the Eurythmics.
Collins, Phil: "I Don't Care Anymore." Not one of my favorite singers, this 1983 hard-rock song makes me feel better
when I approach not caring anymore.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 45, Feb. 14: Loves

Photo courtesy of
Loves of My Life
First, Kris was OK with me putting this list up on Valentine's Day. Second, I barely have 10 loves of my life to include. Other than Kris and my first wife, Jane, who died of breast cancer almost 8 years ago, the longest I dated a woman was a few months. In fact, my love life is quite boring. Still, I wouldn't mind finding out what happened to some of these women,
who helped me to move on with life.
In chronological order:
Nancy I: I was 12 and I really, really liked Nancy. I showed it by wrestling her to the ground in our neighborhood.
Lori: I was 14. Lori was the first girl I noticed who was,
well, developing into a woman.
Mary Beth: As a sophomore and junior, I was too scared to ask Mary Beth out. She ended up marrying one of my best friends
and is still a good friend to me, as well.
Debbie: I was a senior, Debbie was a freshman
and it was my first kissing experience.
Kathy: Still a senior, Kathy was a sophomore.
Great girl and second smartest woman I ever dated.
Nancy II: Now in college, I had an awkward fling with her during a spring break trip. I was supposed to be spending time with buddies, but instead, spent it with Nancy - my friend's sister :-(
Andrea: While working at a paper in Fulton, Mo., I met this blonde "Southern Belle" from Doniphan. To this day,
I wonder how Andrea's life turned out.
Mary Lou: While working at a paper in Idaho, I flew to Baltimore to spend time with this clogger, who had been a pen-pal.
Jane: Soon after moving to Dubuque, God sent Jane to the Telegraph Herald. We were married for 17 years and raised two sons. My first "real" love. God took her on her 42nd birthday.
Kris: God sent me another love - which I still can't believe. I'm slowly maturing in my ability to love someone who dearly loves me.
(And she's the smartest woman I've ever dated!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 44, Feb. 13: Projects

Current Favorite Projects
I love projects, from daily ones like raking the lawn to multiple-year ones like writing a book. I have an especially large number of "projects" I am working on right now or in the near future. Here they are, ranked in reverse order:
10. Doing a daily blog for one year (it will get done,
but maybe not after that)
9. Doing 100-200 situps daily (not enough to get washboard abs,
but should keep the tummy from bulging)
8. Lifting weights every other day (not enough to get Popeye biceps,
but should keep the arms from sagging)
7. Running every other day (my goal is for at least 40 miles per month, 500 for the year - not enough to run a marathon maybe,
but perhaps most of one with a little walking)
6. Helping Kris find a dresser we can share (this has been more challenging than either one of us would have thought, which has helped inspire No. 1 on this list)
5. Watching my new DVDs (this isn't as easy as it sounds;
I find it tough to sit still)
4. Going through my entire Billboard Top 40 book 
(page-by-page, to add songs to my iTunes list and iPod)
3. Reading the entire Bible (I'm up to Joshua, book 6.
I read it as my dad used to - in the bathroom.)
2. Finishing my second book (it's about the heyday
of high school boys basketball - the 1960s-1980s -
featuring Cuba City's Jerry Petitgoue,
Wisconsin's all-time winningest coach)
1. Working on being a better husband (I could have been better
with my first wife, Jane, too. Our Bible study group is doing a marriage lesson, which will help. Seriously, if I can devote so much time
to blogs, physical fitness and writing, I surely can spend it on Kris)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 43, Feb. 12: Dipping

Favorite Things
To Be the First One In
This is one of those strange lists. I seriously get a small rush being the first to dip into all of the following items. The photo above is framed by a neat old blanket I own.
1. Peanut butter (it must be creamy, but unlike when
I used to be fussy, it doesn't have to be Jif)
2. Tub of butter (not real fussy about this either,
but Kris says Land O Lakes is a good one)
3. Ice cream (I carefully scoop out around the edges, then scoop off the middle - all at the same level down. It keeps it organized.
4. Jello (and I make sure to jiggle that first spoonful
on the way to my bowl)
5. VicksVapor Rub (I use this more often than most people
and obviously, my finger does the dipping)
6. Dip (with a chip - preferably a Ruffle - though I'm not a big dip fan)
7. Can of paint (it's neat getting that first paint brush full,
and it's only later that I start dripping on myself)
8. Cup of yogurt (I don't eat as much of this as I should, but that first half spoonful is great - I can't eat a heaping spoonful of yogurt
at one time, for some reason)
9. Jar of jelly (again, I don't eat much of this, but when I do,
I prefer dipping into grape or strawberry)
10. Jar of vaseline (as with No. 5, I give this one the finger)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 42, Feb. 11: Stripping ...

... Tobacco
In some parts of Wisconsin, people raise tobacco. It's for the chewing kind, not cigarettes. I worked in the tobacco fields, sheds and striphouses. About this time of year when there's a fog, perhaps moreso in January, it's time to strip the tobacco off of the lats. Not sure why I thought about this today, but I have many great memories of stripping, in chronological order.
Driving into the country (I lived in town and a 5- or 6-mile early morning drive was nice; I got to hear some of "my" music
before getting to the striphouse.)
Stoking up the fire (it was freezing until we got the fire going in the iron stove; sometimes it got too smokey in the small house
and the first hour wasn't fun)
Cranking the country (almost all of the farmers I worked for liked country music more than rock)
Big Ron (the tobacco farmer I usually helped; he lived up to his name, in the stomach and in the heart. Great guy who always seemed to have something else to do around the farm other than strip)
Stormin Norman (helped this farmer once, too; a high school classmate, he would periodically throw out a 20-minute challenge to see who could strip the most lats -
he got his money's worth on those challenges)
Mark "The Chewer" A crude, hard-working young farmer who would have to spit more often than we'd like. The guy lived in a milkhouse on an abandoned farm one summer!)
Stripping (you pull off the cured leaves and build up handfuls; when the hand was too full, you put the bunch into a wooden contraption that would eventually seal the handfuls into bundles)
Taking out the bundles (it gave you a break from standing in one place. The frigid shed was kind of eerie coming out of a fog, and the loose wooden wall panels often would make creaking noises)
The afternoon stories/jokes/laughs (before noon, it was usually quiet as we all either were still tired or hung over; after lunch, it turned into a boys lockerroom. Mark sometimes laughed so loud,
he'd choke on his chew)
Ending time (though it was as tough as harvesting, stripping wore a person out by 5 - and some farmers pushed us into overtime without the OT pay! But I'd look forward to the next day and I'd do it again.)  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 41, Feb. 10: Movies 1960s

My Favorite Movies
from the 1960s
Some are critically acclaimed, others aren't. But these movies are ones I will tend to leave on if I'm channel changing and come upon them. In reverse alphabetical order:
To Sir With Love
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Sound of Music
The Pink Panther
The Nutty Professor
The Great Escape
The Graduate
The Dirty Dozen
The Birds
The Alamo
Take the Money and Run
Planet of the Apes
Mary Poppins
Lawrence of Arabia
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
In the Heat of the Night
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Dr. Strangelove
Cool Hand Luke
Casino Royale
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
Bonnie & Clyde

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 40, Feb. 9: Peeve Me Off

My Biggest Pet Peeves
I try not to have too many; people with too many pet peeves are, well, one of my pet peeves
(though it just misses making my Top 10).
1. Drivers who don't use their blinkers
(this is SO much higher than any other pet peeve, it's unbelievable.
2. Leaving the lights on when you're not in the room
(sorry to anyone I've ever lived with; my dad drilled this into my head
during the Carter administration)
3. "Cute" kids who are fawned over too much at adult parties
(It gets old fast. I never did that with MY kids ... or did I?)
4. Radio DJs who don't say the name of the song
or artist after playing it
(I gotta know; some of those songs might make a future list!)
5. People who talk too loudly on their cellphones
(Kris is probably surprised this isn't higher,
but I guess I've gotten used to the boorish behavior - heaven help me)
6. People who can't whisper in the movie theater
(At least they're not on their cellphones.)
7. Sports fans who blame officials for losses
(It's never their team that's to blame -
more likely some kind of conspiracy)
8. Overuse of the f-word
(It used to be a calculated decision meant to draw special attention
to something - like hitting your thumb with a hammer.)
9. Leaving a bed unmade
(Fortunately for Kris, she's got a "gremlin" who makes our bed)
10. Hypocritical Far-Left or Far-Right people
(They demand tolerance from one another without granting any.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 39, Feb. 8: Color Me Blue

My Favorite Colors
1. Aqua: Different shades of blue are my favorites. I first starting loving this color in the old SRA reading aptitude tests we took
in third grade. Great way to learn.
2. Violet: The brighter the better.
3. Scarlet: Another great bright color,
there's also a young starlet named Scarlet ...
4. Sky blue: I still marvel at its sheer power on a perfectly clear day, and my eyes are this color.
5. Orange: It's getting redundant, but brighter is better. If I could have all of these first five colors as bright as possible
in a painting on my wall, I'd be in heaven.
6. Lime green: One of my favorite Crayolas as a kid.
7. Periwinkle: I learned of this blue shade from my wife, Kris.
8. Mauve: I learned of this pink shade from my first wife, Jane.
9. Yellow: Only the brightest.
10. Tan: Just a nice subtle shade that can calm me down
from staring at all the bright colors I love.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 38, Feb. 7: Big Wins

Favorite Sports-Related Wins:
Watched & Partook
The Green Bay Packers Super Bowl victory yesterday moved right into my Top 5 favorite sports-related victories I've seen on TV or in person. I'm also including my Top 5 wins that I was physically a part of.
1. Red Sox win Game 4 of World Series, Oct. 27, 2004: Ask a Cubs fan how he'll feel if they finally win one; you'll know how I felt.
2. Wisconsin Badgers win Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1994: I was in the Pasadena pressbox that day covering it for the TH.
Made it twice as sweet as watching it on TV.
3. (tie) GB Packers win Super Bowl, 1997 and 2011: The first one was shared with my first wife and friends; the second with my second wife, two grown sons and their grandfather. 
5. Milwaukee Bucks win Game 4 of NBA championship, April 30, 1971: Lew Alcindor, Oscar Robertson and my favorite, Jon McGlocklin.
I was 14, impressionable and the NBA was fun to watch.
Participated in
1. Title game of the Grant County youth parochial basketball league, Feb. 1993: I coached Kieler Immaculate Conception and we shocked unbeaten Cuba City St. Rose, which had beaten us by 20 earlier.
2. Stoughton city softball championship game, Aug. 1981: I played 2B/CF for our Kerr McGee/Sportsman's team that beat the Stoughton Teachers, making up for losing the year before
to dreaded Stoughton Lumber.
3. Stoughton Alumni Basketball Tournament B Division title game, March 1987: I played the off guard on our 1975 team that defeated the Class of 1980. I scored about 12 points and was pooped
after the long weekend.
4. Dubuque Boys & Girls Club father-son free throw contest (more than once): I won with younger son, Shawn, as well as older son, Jay.
5. Stoughton Invitational high school Cross Country meet: Dropped to JV for one race after an illness caused a bad previous varsity race,
I beat about 50 other JV runners, breaking the tape.
Would have ranked higher on list, but I was a senior at the time :-( 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 37, Feb. 6: Crank It Up

Favorite Songs
to Turn Up Loud
Just a list today, decade-by-decade.
2000s: "Dimension," Wolfmother;    "Roll Over DJ," Jet
"Seven Nation Army," White Stripes
"Take Me Out," Franz Ferdinand
1990s: "Carpool Lung," House of Large Sizes,
"Everything is Broken," Kenny Wayne Shepherd
"Learn to Fly," Foo Fighters;    "Twice As Hard," The Black Crowes
1980s: "Back in Black," AC/DC;
"Crazy Train," Ozzy Osbourne;    "Don't Stop Believin," Journey
"Sweet Child of Mine," Guns N Roses
1970s: "Free Bird," Lynard Skynard;
"I Just Wanna Make Love to You," Foghat;
"Shattered," The Rolling Stones;   "Space Truckin," Deep Purple
1960s: "Helter Skelter," The Beatles;
"Love Her Madly," The Doors;    "My Generation," The Who;
"Whole Lotta Love," Led Zeppelin

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 36, Feb. 5: Mom

Things I Love About My Mom
I received the most ironic early birthday card from Mom today. It was titled Top Ten Things Overheard at a Really Good Birthday Party. It's ironic because, not only does my mom NOT follow or even know about my blog, she doesn't even have a computer!
1. The courage she has shown during a most disheartening past
12 years, losing her husband, a sister-in-law, a daughter
and her favorite cat, Abby.
2. How she often acts like Lucy,
of I Love Lucy fame.
3. Her unique stories about squirrels
and cats with 2-inch long claws.
4. That she calls me Jimmy sometimes.
5. How she defends smoking cigarettes,
tries to consider others' feelings and wonders why she's made
to feel like a leper for doing something completely legal.
6. That she encouraged me to get away from my hometown
and see some of the world.
7. How she smacks her lips together rapidly
when tasting something for the first time.
8. That she likes to watch Wheel of Fortune
but says, "I'm watching the Wheel."
9. How she cooks roast beef and chocolate chip cookies.
10. The way she put up with some of my dad's stubborness
and misses him dearly every day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 35, Feb. 4: Me Eat Meat

My Favorite Meats
I've been called fussy by some people ... oh, all right, by most people. But when it comes to meat, there's few that I don't like. Here are my favorite meat "main courses".
1. Pork ribs (made almost in any way, shape or form)
2. Roast beef (well done, please)
3. Pork chops (the thin ones, but thick will do)
4. Hamburgers (the Swenson fallback when I was a kid)
5. Fried chicken (the legs have evolved into my favorites)
6. Pork roast (with a touch of well-done fat on the side)
7. Sirloin steak (medium-well; you'd think it'd be higher)
8. Turkey barbecue sandwiches (my mom took the turkey leftovers, put in a can of cream of mushroom soup then we slopped it on buns - and for some reason we named it turkey barbecue)
9. Chicken wings (at Buffalo Wild Wings - but not too spicy)
10. Brats (very well done; I will eat the most burnt ones
if no one else wants them)
PS: Prime rib surprisingly doesn't make my list. I like it,
but it always seems when it's served, it gets cold before I finish it :-(

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 34, Feb. 3: &$!?# it

Favorite Outbursts
I never swear when I'm around people (but sound like a sailor, rapper or 8th grade cheerleader when I'm alone and hit my finger with a hammer. These days, they all swear equally, it seems). Anyway, here are my favorite non-swear words and phrases.
Dagnabbit (Yosemite Sam?)
What in the Sam Hill (an old classic)
SON OF a buck (my brother Jeff says this a lot, too)
Uffda (grew up Scandinavian in a Scandavian town)
Shoot (many people think they hear sh-t
when I say this, but they hear wrong)
Gosh darn it (too often alone, though, 
I use the Lord's name in vain)
What in the heck (an old reliable)
UNbelievable (I found myself saying this so often,
it's lost its punch)
Dang it (another old reliable)
Your mother (not mine)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 33, Feb. 2: Snow Kidding

 Favorite Snow Memories
We had 13.5 inches (above) as part of the huge Midwest storm last night. Quite memorable. Here are a few others: 
1. Driving through snow-packed Yellowstone National Park in late April, early 1980s. I was on my way from Gillette, Wyo. to Idaho Falls for an interview. Snow as high as my car on both sides of the road as I entered. Had the park almost to myself
as it opened just the day before.
2. A Christmas Eve blizzard when I was in grade school that forced us to turn around on the way to our great grandma's house from the rural Stoughon area and go back home.
3. Building a tunnel and cave for my young sons after a huge snowstorm in the late '80s caused drifts to block our garage door.
4. Walking down to Kris' house early in our friendship and carrying my shovel to help her dig out after a huge snowstorm in 2004.
5. Being part of a huge late winter college snowball fight near Tutt Hall at UW-Whitewater my freshman year.
6. Sledding with the boys down the imposing runs
at Bunker Hill Golf Course.
7. Making snow angels with my first wife, Jane, late at night
near the Town Clock Plaza in Dubuque.
8. Skiing - albeit horribly - on the mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho.
9. Ice skating on an outdoor rink at the town's Catholic church
surrounded by snow in Stoughton, Wis., as a kid.
10. Being at UW-Madison when several students built a submerged replica of the Statue of Liberty on the snow of a frozen lake. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 32, Feb. 1: No Words

My Favorite Instrumentals
of All Time
1. "Ashokan Farewell," Jay Ungar and Friends (The theme of Ken Burns' "Civil War" series, it's haunting and beautiful while bringing back memories of the late 1980s.)
2. "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire," Leo Kottke (Very pretty, this spiritual tune has been done in many versions; but this is the best.)
3. "Jessica," The Allman Brothers (Classic guitar rock song
from a classic rock band.)
4. "M.F.S.B.," T.S.O.P. (Disco! Shows my broad tastes in music. Abbreviations are Mother, Father, Sister, Brother
by The Sound of Philadelphia)
5. "Overland Blues," The Yoshida Brothers (Kris burned this song for me a few years ago. Very upbeat and catchy;
brings a smile to my face.)
6. "Zorba the Greek," Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass
(Makes me want to dance at a Greek wedding.)
7. "Popcorn," Hot Butter (Everybody gets a kick out of this one.)
8. "Theme from Lonesome Dove," Basil Poledouris
(Great mini-series, great theme song. Kris introduced me
to both - she has it on DVD.)
9. "The Minstrel Boy," James Galway (The one that stands out in my mind on the great The Celtic Minstrel CD.) 
10. (tie) "Love is Blue," Paul Mauriat & Orchestra and "Love's Theme," Love Unlimited Orchestra (Love both equally
from my younger days.)