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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 365, Dec. 31: Thanks

10 People I Know
Who Viewed My Blog
I made it. There were definitely some times when I wasn't sure if I would. But it's a nice challenge - I suggest it to anyone. Now, it will be in cyberspace, perhaps forever. Anyway, thanks to the following people whom I know followed me at least once in a while.
If I forgot somebody, I apologize. But you probably never told me you checked it out.
Have a happy 2012 and good luck to all.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 364, Dec. 30: Resolutions

10 Things I Want to Do
In 2012
I usually don't make resolutions, and I never write them down, but this is a natural post to do near the end of a year-long blog.
1. Listen to Kris more often. Many times she will give me good advice, only for me to hesitate or resist. 
2. Be less judgmental. I want to look at people without immediately concluding something about them.
3. Write some fictional short stories.
4. Be more patient when something initially goes wrong.
5. Drink less Mountain Dew.
6. Be a good mentor to the boy I end up with in the Big Brother program.
7. Hug Kris more often.
8. Help the boys as much - or as little - as a father should at this stage in their lives.
9. Continue to run, do sit-ups, lift weights and keep in shape.
10. Strengthen my faith in God by trusting his will more than my own.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 363, Dec. 29: Lowlights of 2011

Things That Didn't Go
Well or Were Challenges
Everyone has ups and downs during a given year. Some years are worse than others. As I mentioned in the previous post, this year was about medium.
* I was sicker than a dog almost all of January.
* The housing market didn't improve enough for us 
to even put ours up for sale again.
* Shawn failed to get a position as a student trainer 
 for the Iowa basketball team.
* Our 17-year-old cat Tabby disappeared, never to be found.
* Jay's job in Maquoketa paid much lower than he expected, 
fueling a disappointing start.
* More old house problems with chimneys, 
boiler and gutters - among others.
* The Badgers football team lost 2 games in a row 
on Hail Mary passes.
* My brother's business was so bad, 
he's had to take drastic measures.
* My book printing was delayed, contributing to a lower than hoped for turnout for my book signing.
* My mom's health deteriorated to its worst ever, her future not rosy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 362, Dec. 28: 2011 Highlights

10 Highlights I Can Remember
From the Year 2011
I'll probably forget something, but these are things that come to my mind, not in any particular order. Overall, it was an above average year. Tomorrow, I'll do lowlights.
Watched the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl.
Made another trip to Indianapolis with the boys to watch the Big Ten basketball tournament.
Got a couple of cute little kittens named Leah and Woody.
Went on a wonderful trip South with Kris.
Led my Little League baseball team to a third-place finish in the tournament.
Spent a nice day and night in Madison with Kris.
Managed to do a daily blog, with only 1-2 misses, throughout the year.
Had a great trip to Omaha to see Kris' family at Thanksgiving.
Finished writing my book "A Driving Passion."
Went to a Packers game in Kansas City with the boys and a friend.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dec. 361, Day 27: Family Christmas

10 Things I Like
About Family Christmas
I've been fortunate enough to be part of three extended families. Each family gathering at Christmas is different. But each, in its own way, is special. We were at the Richard family Christmas today and, as usual, there wree some loving things that occurred. Here are some of favorite things of all three.
1. The kids: Whether it was Jay and Shawn when they were young or my nieces and nephews now, watching the little kids get excited over presents is precious.
2. My in-laws: I love Kris' parents Chuck and Hazel and hope to get to know them more for many years. Today, my first wife's parents were very nice to be with, as well.
3. The food: At the Swenson gatherings, I automatically like almost everything. At the other two, I get a chance to try some different things, even tho I'm not too experimental.
4. The drink: I must say, there have been some doozy punches at some of the most recent family holiday gatherings. Tasty with a kick can get to you as you get older!
5. The gifts: I really enjoy watching other people open their gifts. Our two sons have added a new dimension the past 3-4 years by also buying "gag" gifts for everyone. They get their creativity from me, I believe.
6. Small talk: Since I don't see ANY of my relatives very often, it gives me a chance to catch up, share some laughs and perhaps comisserate over sad tidings.
7. Sports: Often, there are games on TV or games in the back yard between the kids - usually it's too cold for that, though. Regardless, I like sports enough to enjoy them as a backdrop to holidays.
8. Playing cards: This doesn't always happen, but when it does, I enjoy it because I never get to play cards anymore.
9. The laughter: Whether it's brother-in-law Mike on one side or sister-in-law Jan on the other or even my brother, Jeff - all who have great laughs - it makes me feel good to hear it.
10. The prayer: Again, it doesn't happen at all of them, but when it does, I'm glad because I appreciate somebody in the family taking charge to thank God for family.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 360, Dec. 26: Relaxing

10 Things That Can 
Relax Me
I had a rare massage today from a woman friend who is going through massage school (she's also a high school teacher and teaches yoga - which I tried and it doesn't relax me :-( But here are 10 things that do.
Massage: Since it's on my mind ... I haven't had many in my life, but this one was especially needed with the stress I've had with my mom, book and trip to Kansas City.
Hot tub: I try to always spend some time in one when I'm at a hotel. Unfortunately, some of the older ones I've stayed at recently didn't have one.
Airplane ride: Once I'm past all of the boarding hastles, I love sitting back and relaxing - preferably on a window seat to stare at the clouds.
Kitty on the tummy: Leah is on my lap now as I try to type! The purring and softness makes me content.
Listening to vinyl: It's rare, but I sometimes like to lay on the floor and listen to old-fashioned records.
The beach: As long as I'm beneath an umbrella, I can relax in a recliner on the beach (preferably the ocean).
Back to Kris: I call it laying "my favorite way." It's almost in a fetal position, snuggled up with my back to Kris, who is facing me.
In the movie theater: If my back is right, I thoroughly enjoy the relaxation of a dark theater - popcorn in buttered popcorn in hand, of course.
Two quick wines: Standing, sitting or lying down, two wines will relax me quite well.
Quick snow rest: I seldom do this anymore, but if dressed properly, I have enjoyed moments lying in the snow.
Riding shotgun: Once again, if my back is right, I enjoy reclining in the passenger seat of a car during a long drive - iPod on the car radio, of course!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 359, Dec. 25: A Christmas Story

My Top 10 Scenes From
A Christmas Story
This 1983 movie had a very slow start but has become a classic. I didn't see it until the mid 1990s and fell in love with it immediately. Several times that first viewing, I had tears in my eyes laughing. And it's also very sentimental and sweet. Here are my favorite scenes.
1. Randy's mashed potatoes: When Mother tries to get him to eat by using a piggy scheme, it gets him to giggling like I've never heard before. I giggle along every single time.
2. The hidden gift. When Ralphie opens the gift that had been hidden behind the desk and discovers the Red Ryder, it's as touching a family moment as you'll find in film.
3. The leg lamp. When the Old Man gets the "prize" box and finds the lamp, he's so proud it oozes out of him. Mother does her best to put up with it while Ralphie marvels (maybe a little more than a boy his age would).
4. Mother protects Ralphie. Following his fight with Scut Farkus, Ralphie is very fearful of the Old Man's wrath. Mother doesn't tell and Ralphie (and viewers) gains new admiration for the woman.
5. The Chinese restaurant. Perhaps a little racist, it's still done in a loving way when the waiters try to sing Christmas carols as the family sits down to Christmas dinner.
6. Seeing Santa Claus. When Ralphie and Randy finally get up to see the most scary Santa this side of Hades, they freeze up and blow it. Ho, ho, ho!
7. Changing the tire. Ralphie gets to act like a "man" by helping the Old Man change the tire. But the lugnuts go flying and Ralphie doesn't say "Aw nuts" afterward.
8. The Bumpous' dogs. A running gag, they climax by ruining the Christmas turkey, causing the Old Man to let loose with some of his classic colorful language.
9. Stuck tongue. I actually saw a kid get his tongue stuck on a pole in winter. He pried it off and lost a little blood. Double-dog dare ya to try it sometime!
10. Ralphie beats up Scut Farkus. Though it's almost scary to see Ralphie wail away for quite a while, everybody new the Farkus bully had it coming.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 358, Dec. 24: Bible Stories

 My Top 10 Stories
From the Bible
On this Christmas Eve, after watching Nativity Story (an annual thing Kris and I do), and now watching A Christmas Story, I am thinking of the stories - or at least passages - from the bible I've so enjoyed over the years.
1. Joseph and his brothers. It brings tears to my eyes when Joseph finally lets his brothers know who he is and forgives them for their sins. Talk about the Golden Rule!
2. Jesus and Mary Magdalene. When he asks, "Let he who has no sin cast the first stone," the universe goes silent. And then he forgives Mary. Wonderful.
3. The birth of Jesus. Maybe because The Nativity Story is so wonderful, this ranks higher than it should. But the miracles God created to bring His son to earth are amazing.
4. Moses and the miracles. Another movie, The Ten Commandments, influences this pick, but it is mind-boggling to imagine Pharoah's stubbornness amidst the plagues.
5. Noah and the ark. No Top 10 list of favorite bible stories can omit this classic. Whether it was literally true or not (I believe anything is possible with God), it's a fantastic story.
6. Jesus, the bread and the fish. How magical it must have been to be among the faithful the time Jesus made enough for everyone to eat from so little.
7. Adam and Eve. Again, this might be symbolic in some form, but it is a great story of how we were created. 
8. Abraham's faith tested. Knowing what happens doesn't take away the suspense and pain Abraham must have felt going through this test. Oh to have that much faith.
9. Jesus calms the storm. One of the few times I felt as though Jesus was a little tough on his disciples. I mean, that storm sounded pretty vicious. 
10. Jesus appears to the disciples. How amazed they must have been! Though He had told them he would, how could they believe it after the crucifixion? Surely it all sunk in after that.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 357, Dec. 23: Christmas Movies

My Top 10 Favorite
Christmas Movies
Some of these might be stretches, but I did find all of them on at least one online list.
1. A Christmas Story
2. A Nativity Story
3. Home Alone
4. It's a Wonderful Life
5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
6. Elf
7. Home Alone 2
8. A Charlie Brown Christmas
9. Babes in Toyland
10. Miracle on 34th Street

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 356, Dec. 22: The Who

 My Top 10 Favorite
Songs by The Who
This is my final Top 10 list of musical acts. This group, most popular in the 1960s and 1970s, is a great rock and roll band, ranking right up there with the Stones and Beatles.
1. Join Together
2. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
3. Happy Jack
4. The Kids Are Alright
5. Who Are You?
6. Bargain
7. I Can't Explain8. My Generation
9. Baba O'Riley
10. I Can See For Miles

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 355, Dec. 21: Scandavian Book Review

10 Things I Noticed
About a New Book
Sent to my Newspaper
and Swedes
in the United States:
Friends & Neighbors
I haven't read this 300-plus page book; probably never will, cover to cover (it is very scholarly, err, dull). But from its cover photo of an older Scandanavian couple in traditional garb to the index, I found some fun things to comment on (being a life-long Norwegian/Swede, I feel I can have some fun with it.)
1. It was written by Philip J. Anderson and Dag Blanck, who just happens to be director of the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College.
2. The publication of the book was supported through a grant from the Dale Hanson: Swedes in Minnesota Fund.
3. Chapter 3 is subtitled: A Comparison Perspective on Riksforeningen Sverigekontakt and Nordmanns-Forbundet.
4. Chapter 5 is titled, Ar Du Svensk? - Norsk! Norsk! and is about folk humor and cultural differences in Scandanavian America.
5. In that folk humor chapter are references to "Yumpin' Yimminy," the Mighty Ufda Players and the many joke books of Ole and Lena.
6. There's a photo on page 115 of a jam-packed Chicago Stadium in 1948 when it hosted the Swedish Pioneer Centennial Association Festival. President Truman and writer Carl Sandberg spoke.
7. Chapter 10 is a classic scholarly one: "The Sociological Factor is Not to Be Underestimated: Swedes, Norwegians and American Lutheran Merger Negotiations, 1920-60."
8. In the early 1890s, young men at Hope Academy would chant derisively against their rivals from Concordia and their unusual nickname: "Corncobs, Corncobs! What will you have? Lutefisk and lefse - Yah! Yah! Yah!
9. Chapter 15 is devoted to Willmar, Minn. A large chart of 1905 businesses and business owners shows the harness making team of Jorgenson & Swenson.
10. There's ample mention of Decorah, Iowa, but none of Stoughton, Wis. I almost feel compelled to write to Dag to voice my complaint. Ufda, already!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 354, Dec. 20: Family

10 Things I Fondly Remember
About My Family
We put my mom into the Nazareth House in Stoughton following a short stay in the hospital following a fall. She is not in a very good condition right now, but the assisted living is helping us feel better about her situation. I've lost my father and a younger sister. Not sure how long Mom will survive, leaving just three kids left. Time to reminisce.
1. We always ate supper together, all the way into high school. Dad didn't talk much and we were fussy far too often, but I recall the meals fondly.
2. Laughter coming out of my mom and dad. It wasn't as much as I would have liked - we often had it pretty tough - but the quality made up for the lack of quantity.
3. Our rare vacation trips, to places such as Wisconsin Dells, Black River Falls or Devil's Lake. One trip to the lake ended abruptly when sister Amy stuck her fingers in a fan. (Luckily she kept them all.)
4. Our many homes. We never lived anywhere too long, but we always turn the houses into homes.
5. Our many pets. Even tho he didn't like cats, Dad gave in for Mom and we kids. And he got to have his share of favorite dogs, too.
6. Going to friends' homes. Though my parents would inevitably play cards longer into the night than we young kids could handle - sometimes we'd fell asleep on the floor - it's a good memory.
7. My dad's whistling and my mom's singing. Dad whistled more than Mom sang, but both added some melody in a home where nobody played an instrument.
8. We four kids playing together. I was far too bossy, we'd get into fights too much, but somehow we managed to create some fun times as a foursome - until we reached our teens, at least!
9. Christmas mornings. Oh, could they be crazy. What would start as one kid opening one present at a time would quickly turn into a free for all, though with some reins still in Dad's hands. Wonderful.
10. My mom and dad showing a little affection. Very, very rare; my dad was pretty bashful. But Mom could coax him into a few smooches and hugs in front of us. We knew they loved each other.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 353, Dec. 19: Van Morrison

 My Top 10 Favorite
Van Morrison Songs
I don't have a ton of this prolific songwriter's music, but I know enough of his stuff that I don't have to come up with a top 10.
1. Bright Side of the Road
2. Angielou
3. Wild Night
4. Tupelo Honey
5. Moondance
6. Domino
7. Brown-Eyed Girl
8. Full Force Gale
9. Stepping Out Queen
10. Into the Mystic

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 352, Dec. 18: River Names

My Top 10 Favorite
Names of Rivers
These are rivers I've actually seen or crossed over.
Chattahoochie in Georgia/Florida
Coeur d'Alene in Idaho
Crooked in Idaho and Missouri
Maquoketa in Iowa
Nishnabotna in Iowa/Missouri
Pecatonica in Wisconsin
Tongue in Wyoming
Vermillion in Minnesota/Dakotas
Wapsipinicon in Iowa
Yahara in Wisconsin

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 351, Dec. 17: NFL Games

NFL Games I Remember
Seeing in Person
Heading to Kansas City today with the boys and one of Shawn's friends to see the Packers play tomorrow. It's rare that I've attended an NFL game, but here are the ones I recall (and you'll see that my memory is quite foggy on exact details)
Green Bay vs. Tampa Bay, an exhibition game in about 1976 in Milwaukee. My three friends and I were thoroughly bored as I believe the final was 10-7 or something like that.
Green Bay vs. New Orleans (I believe) in a preseason game at Madison's Camp Randall Stadium. Obviously, another forgettable game, but I did cover it for the Telegraph Herald.
Cleveland vs. Minnesota in about 1988 at the Metrodome. Two friends and I went on a bus trip that also included a Minnesota-Iowa game on Saturday.
Green Bay vs. Chicago, late season game in about 1990 at Soldier Field. Another game I covered for the TH, I mostly remember a crowded postgame interview with a young Brett Favre in the tunnel next to the field.
Chicago vs. Carolina (I believe) in a mid-1990s game at Soldier Field. I took young Shawn on a bus trip for this one and had a very nice time.
Green Bay vs.Carolina, Aug. 23, 2003: The only game I've ever seen at Camp Randall, it was a preseason contest that both sons and their grandpa attended, about a month after my first wife, Jane, died. A Wahlert backer gave us free tickets in tribute to Jane.
Atlanta vs. Minnesota, at the Metrodome, in about 2008. Kris and I attended the game during a trip to Minneapolis. It was a tradeoff if I would go to the play "Jane Eyre." Was a good trade.
Green Bay at St. Louis, in 2009. The boys, one of Jay's friends and I took a quick trip like we are this weekend. Hope there's more to come down the road.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 350, Dec. 16: 3 Dog Night

 My Top 10 Favorite
3 Dog Night Songs
My iPod collection is just 11 songs (I must add to that). But this is definitely one of my favorite all-time groups, and I would put this Top 10 up against most others.
1. Family of Man
2. Pieces of April
3. Out in the Country
4. Sure as I'm Sittin Here
5. Shamabala
6. Black and White
7. Old-Fashioned Love Song
8. Never Been to Spain
9. The Show Must Go On
10. Joy to the World

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 349, Dec. 15: Stephen Bloom

10 Observations About
Bloom's Iowa Story
Univ. of Iowa journalism professor Stephen Bloom wrote an article for The Atlantic called "Observations from 20 Years of Iowa." It was written with the upcoming Iowa Caucuses in mind. It has not left Iowans very happy, and he's now scratching his head at to why why. I will try to keep my observations technical and not personal. But I have lived her for 26 years, so I do have some Hawkeye pride.
1. Stereotypes abound to the point of absurdity. You would think an educated scholar would avoid such an elementary, lazy and sloppy mistake.
2. It is full of errors (3, so far, have been posted at the end by The Atlantic). Others have been documented through the many comments. Shouldn't a professor of journalism check and double-check his facts?
3. Being from the river city of Dubuque - one of the "skuzziest cities" he's ever been to ... he obvioulsy hasn't been here lately. And, oh by the way, professor, it's spelled "scuzziest." 
4. It is so condescending, it just adds to the already negative image of many smarter-than-thou professors (notice, I didn't stereotype all professors with this comment as Bloom often stereotypes ALL Iowans)
5. Why has he stayed here so long if he hates it so much? And hate does come out in his writing, from religion to farmers to hunters. (A colleague says the article was a satire; right.)
6. What did a transplanted San Francisco resident expect? The ocean or mountains? Had I lived in SF for 20 years, I am sure I could have written an equally scathing commentary full of the stereotypes of that city (or state, for that matter).
7. Negative, over-the-top exaggeration is so rampant, it's ludicrous. You can't read 3-4 sentences without seeing it. Using the comparison again, imagine how insulted Bloom would be if a writer exaggerated everything San Francisco.
8. He almost cowardly wrote this while away for a year in Michigan. I wonder if that Midwestern state is to his liking (probably, because it has a "large city" the size of Detroit, with all of its benefits. Right.)
9. He even makes fun of friendly small town neighbors greeting each other or talking to one another at the grocery store. Maybe they'd talk to Bloom, too. Some actually tried to be friendly (see No. 10).
10. The ending is unbelievably stupid. He's walking a labrador - one of the most popular hunting dogs around - and criticizes friendly neighbors who ask him if the dog is a good hunter. If he had been walking a poodle or a chihiahua, I'm pretty sure even we imbecile, all-rural, Iowa hicks wouldn't have asked if the dog was a good hunter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 348, Dec. 14: My Hometown

10 Things I Miss
About My Hometown
I took a trip to Stoughton today to visit my mom in the hospital. She fell at home Tuesday and was found by Meals on Wheels unconscious on the floor. She is doing OK - as good as one can be when she is old and worn down from a life filled with one loss after another. We hope she'll agree to assisted living after her stay in the hospital. It's with these melancholy feelings that I started home through the heart of my hometown.
1. When my mom and late dad were younger and we would run roughshod on them as they tried raising four hellions.
2. My best childhood friends, such as Ronny and Robin, whose homes we would visit and run roughshod over as our parents played cards.
3. The ancient community building. They don't build em as solidly as they used to. Variety of memories from this place.
4. Yahara River. I still glance over at it the rare times I cross the Main Street bridge.
5. Bakkens General Store. That was gone long ago, but I'll never forget riding my bike down to get baseball cards as a kid.
6. Mandt Park. Played many a ballgame there, attended the annual Junior Fair and saw my late sister, Amy, compete in a demolition derby.
7. First Lutheran Church. Was baptised and confirmed there, but will remember most an overnight stay with several other teens preparing for confirmation. Rock music in the tiny gymnasium, yeah!
8. Syttende Mai. The Norwegian independence day, celebrated in mid-May. As a kid, the parades were fun. As a teen, it was fun cruising and running roughshod down Main Street.
9. The bowling alley. Whether it was Badger Bowl or Viking Lanes, it was a place I learned to bowl and later a place to hangout when we were exceptionally bored.
10. Great grandma's house. My most special older relative, we'd spend Christmas Eve there as a large family and other times, it would be just her and we kids, playing with spools and Quaker Oats boxes. Who needs video games!
There are undoubtedly more, but these come first to a mind that is somewhat clouded tonight.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 347, Dec. 13: Stevie Wonder

 My Top 10 Favorite
Stevie Wonder Songs
He's one of my favorite black singers, behind probably only Al Green and up there with singers such as Barry White, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye and, more recently, Lenny Kravitz.
1. Higher Ground
2. Living for the City
3. Sunshine of My Life
4. Superstition
5. Boogie on Reggae Woman
6. Sir Duke
7. I Wish
8. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours
9. Uptight (Everything's Alright)
10. My Cherie Amour
Honorable mentions: I Was Made to Love Her; I Just Called to Say I Love You

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 346, Dec. 12: Get Over It

10 Reasons Why I Don't Like
Feeling Sorry For Myself
A few family things have me down tonight, and here are the reasons why I don't like feeling sorry for myself.
Someone else always has it worse.
I forget that time will heal me.
People near me don't know what to say.
I need to learn it's not always about me.
It's a sign of weakness.
I feel helpless.
Others before me have gone through this, why shouldn't I?
I tend to lean on bad crutches.
It adds to the sad feelings I've experienced in the past.
I'm letting God down by losing my faith.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 345, Dec. 11: Tebow

 10 Phenoms That Remind Me
Of the Tim Tebow Run
Denver QB Tim Tebow is defying the odds and helping lead his team to improbable late-game victories like no other QB in history. He consistently stinks up the field for 2-3 quarters and leads 4th-quarter rallies, like today's 13-10 OT victory over the shell-shocked Bears. Whether you like Tebow - an open Christian who thanks Christ before thanking every teammate in almost all interviews - or not, the phenomena is amazing. Here are 10 other phenoms in my lifetime that remind of this.
Barack Obama: Yes, his quick assent was an amazing thing to behold. He captured everyone's attention. His future is unknown.
Bird and Magic: These two NBA players had some great head-to-head battles but also put on a nightly show in the 1980s, reviving a sluggish league.
Evil Knievl: Everyone wanted to see or hear about his next motorcycle jump between 1965 and 1980. A classic case of waiting for an accident to happen.
Fernando-mania Valenzuela: A Los Angeles Dodgers rookie of the year AND league MVP in 1981, the 20-year-old was amazing and went on to a solid career.
Mark "The Bird" Fidrych: A Detroit Tigers rookie of the year pitcher in 1976, he talked to the baseball on the mound and was wacky enough to catch everyone's attention. Never had as good a season later.
McGwire vs. Sosa: The now-tainted home run battle of 1998 was amazing to follow. Not only did they battle head-to-head, they both beat Roger Maris' record. But, along with Barry Bonds, they're both shamed by steroids.
Muhammad Ali: First known as Cassius Clay, this loud-talking boxer commanded attention and usually lived up to his bragging.
Tiger Woods: No other golfer got off to such a successful start as Woods. Unfortunately, he played too hard off the course, too, and so far, he hasn't fully recovered from his indiscretions.
Steve Martin: Maybe not at the same level as these others, he nonetheless was a crazy enough comedian to catch almost everyone's attention in the late 1970s.
Wayne Gretzky: The greatest hockey player who every lived, his skill level was so above everyone else's when he debuted, it reminded me of Babe Ruth and his home runs.
I'm sure I've forgotten some, but these are ones that come to mind.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dec. 344, Dec. 10: 23-for-25

10 Things I Like
About Shooting FTs
That's free throws. The 23-for-25 was how many I made today in my back yard, in 20 degree temperatures, wearing gloves and a winter coat. I'm ready to take on anybody in a free throw contest! Here are 10 things I enjoy about shooting FTs.
1. They're easy. Once you get the hang of it, most of you could hit 80 percent.
2. It's relaxing. Listening to music - earbuds or radio - helps the mood, too.
3. They're measurable. I like to shoot in groups of 25. On nice days, I've shot as many as 100. My best effort was 96-of-100.
4. They're therapeutic. They especially helped me handle the loss of my first wife, Jane, to breast cancer. The repetitiveness was soothing.
5. You can use your imagination. I'll often imagine I'm in a FT contest or shooting the winning FTs at the end of a big game - even at my age!
6. They're seductive. Well, one time in Idaho Falls, I was shooting some and a young lady running on a track nearby came over, asked to join me and we went out on a date that night!
7. They're father-and-son. I've won contests with both of my sons on father-and-son nights at the Boys Club.
8. You can show off. I've had more than one person admire my ability to make so many in a row (my record for that is about 45).
9. They're varied. I've worked on underhand, super high and left-handed FTs. I once made 8-of-10 left-handed and 20-out-of-25.
10. Great s-k-u-n-k weapon. People tend to think they're easy in a game of skunk, but most often they choke under pressure.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 343, Dec. 9: Smelly

10 Smells That Take Me
To Times & Places Gone By
Do you ever get the scent of something that instantly makes you think of your past? It happens to me a lot. Most of the time, it's a good scent; but not always.
Cigarette smoke: If it's a single cigarette in an otherwise smoke-free environment, it reminds me of my childhood (even tho our house was NOT a smoke-free environment)
Cinnabar perfume: Andrea, the Southern Belle girlfriend I had in Missouri, wore it (so did my sister-in-law Julie, tho I don't believe she still does)
Coffee: Again, in a small dose, it reminds me of my mom. In a large dose, it makes me a bit nauseous. (I don't drink coffee, as you might guess.)
Marijuana: Instantly, it sends me back to the Dane County Coliseum and going to rock concerts. I never smoked it, but I always loved the smell in that environment.
Newspaper press room: Reminds me of my old days in newspapers, when I used to work near the composing people which was near the press. Seldom get near the press anymore.
New house wood: My dad built a house in the country - almost from scratch - when I was 10 and I still think back to it every time I smell fresh new house wood.
Oceans: Each time I get to the ocean and smell and feel that salty breeze, it reminds me of the first time I experienced it as a college student in 1977.
Old gymnasium: No, not the locker room. I seldom smell this anymore either because most are gone. But when I do, it takes me back to the Community building at Stoughton Junior High.
Tequila: Even though I can handle it in a fruity mixed drink, this smell straight from the bottle reminds me of college and a couple of episodes I wish I could forget.
Tobacco: This is the leaf, from the field before it's turned into chewing tobacco. I seldom smell it anymore, but when I do, I'm back at Stoughton, working in the fields, sheds and strip houses.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 342, Dec. 8: Bowling

10 Things I Like
About Bowling
Friend, Al, believes bowling is boring. Bad Al. Bowling can be a blast! 
Here are 10 things I like about bowling.
1. The balls. All different colors and weights (from 6 to 16 pounds). Some even have four finger holes!
2. The shoes. They are so unique and colorful. They should also hand out rented shirts with first names on them.
3. The atmosphere. It's lively with lots of laughing (and some swearing). And the sound of pins getting knocked over is cool.
4. Oily lanes. Wait, I don't like this aspect of bowling.
5. Strikes. They can be a smashing, scattering strikes or those that mix the pins all over the place.
6. The friends. One of mine, named Kort, used to launch his ball sky high - once hitting the ceiling and almost getting us thrown out. Now that's fun!
7. Picking up splits. They're not easy to pick up, but when you do, it always draws a great reaction.
8. Bumper rails. Used most often when little kids bowl to avoid gutters, a group of drinking friends occasionally enjoy them.
9. Gutter balls. Another shot that always draws reaction and adds to the atmosphere.
10. It's easy. Really! Here are the main tips. Hold the ball with hand underneath. Walk slowly (3 or 5 steps), bring the ball back slowly and when you bring it down, turn hand as you release it as if you are going to shake hands with someone.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 341, Dec. 7: Bad Bowls

The 10 Worst College Football
Bowl Game Names
Remember the days of the Rose, Orange, Cotton, Peach ... bowls? Friend Al reminded me of how bad it's come with corporate sponsors taking over the names of bowl games. Some of these you can barely say without taking a breath. Here are my picks for the worst 10 this season.
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
Belk Bowl (once was Continental Tire Bowl)
 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl
Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Gator Bowl
A couple of "fun" names
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl 
Chick-fil-A Bowl 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 340, Dec. 6: Simon & Garfunkel

My Top 10 Favorite Songs
By Simon & Garfunkel
Another great duo, it was broken up by the time I really started listening to the radio or my own albums. But my parents had the "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" album, and many of my Top 10 (with asterisks) are from it.
*1. El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
*2. Cecilia
*3. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright
*4. The Boxer
*5. Bridge Over Troubled Waters
6. Sounds of Silence
7. Mrs. Robinson
8. My Little Town
9. A Hazy Shade of Winter
*10. The Only Living Boy in New York City

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 339, Dec. 5: Harrison Ford

 My Top 10 Favorite
Harrison Ford Films
He's starred in some of the top grossing films of all time, and many really good ones. 
I'm a big fan for sure, but not with too many of his serious dramas.
1. Star Wars (1977)
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
3. The Fugitive (1993)
4. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
6. Return of the Jedi (1983)
7. Working Girl (1988)
8. Witness (1985)
9. Cowboys and Aliens (2011)
10. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 338, Dec. 4: Mr. Clean

My 10 Favorite
Commercial Characters
Since I've owned a remote control, I normally click away from commercials. But over my lifetime, I've enjoyed certain recurring characters in the commercials. I did these alphabetically. The bold-faced ones are my Top 10; the others are honorable mention.
California raisins
Charlie the Tuna (StarKist Tuna)
Energizer Bunny
Geico Cave Man
Mr. Clean
Frank and Louie, the Budweiser lizards
Little Mikey (Life Cereal)
Mr. Whipple (Charmin)
Morris the Cat (9Lives Cat Food)
Peggy (Discover Card)
Pillsbury Doughboy
Sonny the Cuckoo Bird (Cocoa Puffs)
Taco Bell chihuahua
The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (Old Spice)
Tony the Tiger (Frosted Flakes)
Trix Rabbit

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 337, Dec. 3: Santana

 My Top 10 Favorite
Santana Songs
As a junior high kid, I had heard of this band, but had none of their music. Then I saw this ad in the paper, "Buy 10 Albums for 1 Cent!" Man, how could I go wrong? (My mom warned me about the fine print, and I ended up paying a lot for future albums). Anyway, three of the first 10 albums I bought were Santana. And I've been a fan ever since.
1. No One to Depend On (1971)
2. Winning (1981)
3. Black Magic Woman (1970)
4. Oye Como Va (1970)
5. Samba Pa Ti (1970)
6. Smooth (1999)
7. Evil Ways (1969)
8. She's Not There (1977)
9. Everybody's Everything (1971)
10. Corazon Espinado (1999)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 336, Dec. 2: Sticks

10 Things I've Done
With Sticks
Kris sent me a great article/column today titled "The 5 Greatest Toys." ( I was expecting Lincoln Logs, YoYos and the such. The five were Sticks, String, Mud, Boxes and Cardboard Tubes. I wish I would have come up with the idea for a blog post or newspaper column. 
But it did give me the inspiration for today's post.
1. Used them as pretend rifles: It was one of the first games I played with other little boys in the neighborhood.
2. Rubbed two of them together: I never did get a fire to start.
3. Threw them like a spear: Again, another fun thing to do as a kid.
4. As pretend utensils: We four kids would sometimes create pretend dishes for a pretend family reunion
(also used mud, rocks, grass and leaves).
5. As a sword: Sometimes this led to the loser crying, which often led to some punishment.
6. As a cane: During walks over the years, I've found an especially nice looking stick for this purpose.
7. As a stake: They've come in handy when I lost a tent stake or to mark gardens, etc.
8. For campfires: The smaller ones on the bottom, bigger ones next and logs last.
9. As arms for a snowman: This was especially fun when the boys were young.
10. To float down a stream: Not quite a pretend boat, but they still are fun to watch when it's a bubbling brook or fast current.
Note: I'm proud to say I never used one as a spanking tool, although I was at the (back) end of a couple.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 335, Dec. 1: Caroling

 My Top 10 Favorite
Christmas Carols to Sing
Why not do this list now? The stores have had Christmas stuff out for more than a month. Some radio stations are playing only Christmas songs. It's December 1st. And, I don't have another inspiration tonight. (The most recent suggestion from Al is in my think tank; not sure if I have 10 to fill that list.) The parts in parenthesis are my favorites to sing.
1. We Three Kings (Ohhhhhh, star of wonder, star of night)
2. Little Drummer Boy (Pa rum, pum, pum, pum)
3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Glory to the newborn King!)
4. Silent Night (Sleep in heavenly peaacccccccce ...)
5. Oh Come, All Ye Faithful (Oh come let us adore him)
6. Away in the Manger (And stay by my side until morning is nigh.)
7. The First Noel (Born is the king of Israel)
8. Joy to the World (and heaven and nature sing, 
and heaven and nature sing)
9. O Little Town of Bethlehem (Yet in thy dark streets shineth, 
the everlasting Light)
10. Jingle Bells (yingle bells, yingle bells ... That's a funny way my dad used to sing it when I was real young.)