Adventures In Turf Management

I don't like summer. 

Specifically, I don't like: 

  • Heat
  • Humidity
  • Sweating
  • The aroma of hot garbage wafting from the trash receptacle in the garage
  • That feeling where you can tell you're about to break a sweat and it's really annoying because you just showered and got dressed

Did I mention I don't enjoy sweating?

Needless to say I've enjoyed the return of cooler weather this past week or so. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed physically, mentally, and spiritually as if I've awoken from summer dormancy. 

Speaking of awaking from a state of dormancy, this is the best time of year to plant a new lawn from seed, lay sod, or otherwise renovate your turf. 

2017 was hard on my lawn. During July's hottest and driest stretch, patches of grass in the front yard died and a south-facing slope in the backyard was hit particularly hard.  With a 3-year-old and infant in the house and a full-time job, I don't have the time or desire to spend my scarce free time dragging hoses and sprinklers around the yard. Given that reality it was time for me to take a varied approach to managing the large areas of turf on my suburban corner lot. 

I ultimately decided on three different turf management approaches in order to let nature work for me and limit the investment of water, weed killer, fertilizer and, most importantly, my time. The first step was raking away the dead turf and having my lawn professionally aerated to reduce soil compaction and allow water and air to more easily reach the root zone. 

Then, I decided how each area of my property would be managed: 

1. The Front Yard Is For Show

If I'm going to spend money on fertilizer, water, and weed killer, it's going to be where people can see the investment pay off. I overseeded the front yard with a mix of Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and turf-type Tall Fescue. I'll continue fertilizing this part of the yard 3-4 times per year and watering during particularly hot and dry stretches. 

2. The Backyard Is For Play

With two young boys and two not-quite-as-young cats, I decided that having a backyard that can be safely rolled on, chewed on, and played on was important. I overseeded the backyard with a mix of white clover, microclover (a smaller-leaved variety of white clover), creeping red fescue, ryegrass and some other low-maintenance and drought-tolerant turf grasses. The clover in the mix will spread and create a canopy over the soil that prevents the germination of less-desirable plants such as plantains, dandelions, and thistle. The occasional weed can be pulled by hand, eliminating the need for weed killer. Clover, like all members of the legume family, is nitrogen-fixating, taking nitrogen from the air and bringing it into the soil. Combined with the nitrogen from mulched grass clippings, this will eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers. 

3. The Boulevard Is For The Bees

In order to create a boulevard that can stay thick and green with no help from me I overseeded the boulevard with a mix of perennial ryegrass, creeping red fescue, and a large amount of white clover. When the other boulevards in the area are loaded with guackgrass, crabgrass, ground ivy and plantains, I look forward to the sound of bees buzzing and the fragrant scent of white clover flowers. 

Next Steps

If any thin areas remain I'll do some dormant seeding around Thanksgiving and then let the freeze/frost cycle of winter and the warmth of spring do its thing. Keep an eye out for updates in the future. Or, sit at home and watch your own grass grow as it's just as exciting as reading about mine. 

"Wish I would have found you guys earlier."

I recently took advantage of a freelance opportunity, joining one current and one former colleague to create a website for a firm of CEO advisers and executive coaches. Writing compelling content for such a niche and sophisticated audience has been a challenge that has brought me something more than extra funds to throw at my student loans: it has reminded me that I have self-worth. 

Last night we had a conference call with the principal to garner feedback on the design and marketing content we had prepared. She told me specifically, "I really enjoy your style of writing; you cut straight to the point, engage the reader, and leave out all the buzz." She told the group as a whole, "I wish I would have found you guys earlier." 

I've often wondered if I could ever really find fulfillment in a career. The other day I told my wife that "maybe fulfillment for me, short of retirement, is just getting enough work done to allow me to nap over my lunch break. I have a queen bed around the corner from my workspace. Does a man really need more than that?"

My client's kind words were in an important reminder that, yes, I can find fulfillment professionally and that my work is appreciated. When you've been overlooked and stepped on for a while, it's very easy to lose sight of your own talent and skills. For me, it felt great to step back and think "Yeah, I'm still pretty good at this shit." 

In some ways this is a shameless testimonial for my work and a plug for my services. I'd love to help you reach your audience or help you say communicate something that is important to you. It's also a plug for remembering that you have talent and that you are worth it, whether "it" is money, appreciation, or gratitude. 

Don't forget it. 

Radio-Active, Cigar-Smoking Children Who Picnic on Saturn

I thoroughly enjoyed Father's Day yesterday, although it was a stark reminder at just how quickly life passes by. 

Concerned that Paul McCartney's great, great, great grandchildren may topple out of the one percent, I recently decided to collect the recent vinyl reissues of Beatles mono LPs. My wife and two young sons gave me Beatles For Sale and Revolver as father's day gifts. 

The linear notes of Beatles For Sale brought a smile to my face, particularly this passage (emphasis mine): 

When, in a generation or so, a radio-active, cigar-smoking child, picnicking on Saturn, asks you what the Beatle affair was all about - 'Did you actually know them?' - don't try to explain all about the long hair and the screams! Just play the child a few tracks from this album and he'll probably understand what it was all about. The kids of AD2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well-being and warmth as we do today

Most children today don't smoke cigars or picnic on Saturn, but the author just about nailed it. I got my first job in AD2001, working on the grounds crew of a local golf course. I awakened at 5 a.m. Monday-Friday and spent my summer days raking traps, lugging around a weed trimmer, and sweating profusely. 

On paydays, I'd deposit most of my check in savings, take out some cash for gas, and spend the rest on Beatles CDs. I can't describe it any better than the linear notes, so I'll let them finish this post for me: 

For the magic of the Beatles is, I suspect, timeless and ageless. It has broken all frontiers and barriers. It has cut through the differences of race, age and class. It is adored by the world. 

I'm Still Alive. Quiet, But Alive.

It's been over two months since I've contributed to this blog. 

Why? 

It's not laziness, indifference, or a lack of thoughts about the state of my industry or the world I live in; I've just been busy since the birth of my second son, Bradley, and have been trying to keep my head above water. 

Here are a few mini-snippets from that scary place otherwise known as my cranium: 

Sports

  • The Twins are off to a promising start that has them in first place, driven primarily by dependable starting pitching. It may be that 2016's 103 losses was the outlier and 2015's 80+ wins really was a sign of progress. Time will tell. 
  • I'm having a hard time getting too excited about the upcoming Vikings season but they could always surprise me. Bottom line: I'm glad Adrian Peterson is gone but I'm still not sold that they've significantly improved the line with this offseason's personnel moves. 

Politics

  • Trump. I mean...Good Lord...
  • My theory since the time of the 2016 GOP Convention has been that the party will simply swallow hard and look the other way at Trump's unfitness for office because they view controlling both house of Congress and the Presidency as their opportunity to finally achieve their legislative wish list. However, I think they would be better off pressuring him to resign or beginning impeachment proceedings now. Why? Besides the merits, they haven't moved any significant legislation to the president's desk as it is, so they are getting all the flack of his missteps without any of the benefits of having a GOP president. Surely a President Pence, President Ryan or President Hatch would sign their tax proposals, deregulation bills, and other "goodies" into law minus the nonstop drama of the Trump administration. 

Lawn and Garden

  • I'm pretty happy with how my lawn perked up this spring, especially the areas that I overseeded in the fall.
  • My elm trees are growing vigorously and look as good as they have since planting. 
  • My Royal Red Norway Maple is giving me some worry. I completed some structural pruning last spring which resulted in a new central leader taking over and growing very vigorously. Unfortunately, the top of that branch has yet to leaf out this year, leaving me wondering whether it's a problem or just taking its sweet time.

Until next time, remember to shit once and wipe twice. Adios!

Adventures In Craigslist Land

Craigslist is something that everyone seems to have at least a passing familiarity with. But did you know that it can be used for more than arranging assaults and carrying out extramarital affairs? 

"Ooh...I'm listening..."

Alright. Now that I have your attention, I'll clue you in on the best feature of Craigslist for Average Joe's and Joesettes like us: making a bit of scratch. 

Even borderline obsessive compulsives like me occasionally have some unused or unwanted items hanging around the house. You know what they say: "One man's junk is another man's treasure." That's where Craigslist comes in. 

With a bit of research and preparation, you can turn unwanted items into some spending money. 

"Oh, jeez. I don't want to spend any time on research and preparation. Whaaaa!"

I thought you might say that and you're in luck. Throughout the years I've sold everything from cars, trucks, and boats, to fish finders and CD players via the smorgasboard of cultures and odors that populate the Craigslist community. 

Through trial and error I've determined the best way to go about creating a pricing strategy, create an engaging ad with enticing pictures and content, and complete the sale without getting murdered. This past week I sold a turntable and a CD changer within one day of listing each item. That left me with more time to take drug dealer-style selfies of me with the cash. 

For a small fee, you can get the benefits of selling your treasure on Craigslist while allowing me to do the research and draft the ad. If this sounds good to you, contact me to set up some time to talk about your items and whether Craigslist is the best place to sell them. If you're a shut-in, I can even join you for some coffee and cookies. Lord knows your ungrateful children are too busy spending the rest of your money to visit. 

Every Conference Call You've Ever Had

Isn't technology great? Instead of physically marching your ass into a conference room for actual human collaboration, you can dial into a conference line while eating Cheetos in your underwear. 

Unfortunately, it comes with some challenges of its own. 

Scene 1: The Pre-Call

*BEEP* "Hello?"

*BEEP* "Hi."

*BEEP* "Yup"

"Who's on the line?"

"Hello"

"Hi."

"Yup."

"Is _____ joining the call?" 

"Hello"

"Hi."

"Yup."

"Oh, shoot. I didn't invite him. Hold on..."

*STATIC & ELEVATOR MUSIC*

"_____ isn't picking up or responding. Let's go ahead and call the client."

Scene 2: The Introduction

"Customer, this is your team calling to talk about your something-or-other. Does this time still work for you?" 

"Yes. This is fine. But I have an important question, and your answer and guidance will go a long way toward showing me that you actually understand my needs and can provide value for what I am paying." 

"Sorry. I can't provide you with any useful information right now. But if you'd like I can set up a future conference call with me, three other useless individuals and the one person who can help you but won't." 

"Alright. That will work. It's not like I deserve respect or effective communication."

Scene 3: The Real Productive Part

"Okay, well, when I signed up for this _____ told me that you would provide the moon and at least a few stars with little or no involvement from me." 

"Oh, I'm sure he did but he's not here to face the consequences of his actions. He's busy spending that commission in between fits of laughter. Like my Grandfather used to say "wish in one hand, shit in the other, and see which fills up first."

"I see. One thing for certain is that you are definitely full of shit."

"We are. SO much shit!" (smiling uncontrollably trying not to cry into her headset). 

"_, do you have those first quarter results to share?"

"Hello? Has this call started?"

"I see. Let's move on to __. Can you help our customer understand his portfolio?"

"Huh? You know, I probably could but I spent so much time playing Minesweeper that I totally forgot about it. This will have to wait until at least Q3. Minesweeper, am I right?"

"Wonderful. So much professionalism here. How about you ___?"

"Yup." 

"So, you can share your findings with the customer?"

"Yup."

"So...."

"Yup." 

"Okay. I think we've covered everything we didn't need to waste time on today. Customer, this is time you'll never get back."

Conclusion

"Well, that concludes our meeting. If you have any other questions, save them for someone who cares." 

"Will do. I really hate all of you."

"You know what they say: 'those who can do; those who can't meet.' Buh bye."

Social Media For Dummies: 2017 Edition

Social media can be a bit overwhelming, even if you are not like your inane relatives that get the names mixed up. You know, saying things along the lines of "I love social media. I'm into MyFace, Spacebook, all of 'em." 

As a public service, I've compiled the following list of popular social media platforms and a brief description of how they are typically used: 

  • Facebook: Not as cool with the young people as it used to be, but it's still king of the social media landscape in 2017. The platform is primarily used for sharing outdated memes, misleading political commentary, racist jokes, and stalking people. 
  • Twitter: Share your thoughts, opinions and ideas in 140 characters or less. Primarily a platform that allows members of the media and aspiring creative professionals to communicate in their own bubble. 
  • Instagram: Take, fix, and share your amateur photographs. Currently the social network of choice for the young people and it serves as a selfie-sharing playground for aspiring models. 
  • Snapchat: Originally used as a safe-space for sexting due to the temporary nature of the shared content, it is most often used to take and share videos of things few people care about. The content can be decorated with extra sprinkles of garbage such as emojis and decorative filters. 
  • LinkedIn: The perfect place to embellish your resume and figure out what your former coworkers are up to. Do you love getting messages from random head hunters in need of temps? If so, this is the social media platform for you. 
  • Pinterest: Allows you to stand up and boldly tell the world "This is the shit I will never actually accomplish. And, if I even try, it will not turn out anything like this picture." 
  • Google+: "Pssst." ... "Yeah, you." .... "If you figure out what this is can you let me know so I can update this post?" 

Believe it or not, social media can be used for more than spreading propaganda, sharing pics of your genitalia, and discussing how a person's shade of skin correlates to their prowess behind the wheel. 

Social media can be a powerful brand-building tool for your business. For example, a relatively small investment in Facebook ad campaigns can lead to thousands of impressions and hundreds of post engagements that put you on the radar of prospective customers. 

The best part? With the help of a social marketing professional, it can be nearly effortless. Get in touch with me when it's convenient and I can show you the way. 

Adventures In Fowl

I enjoy cooking. 

Along with being able to take my son to the park on nice days, one of the perks of being the first one home from work is that I get to dabble in one of my favorite hobbies: cooking. 

I love tinkering with recipes and trying new things. The past few years that has included taking on a couple of different birds for the first time: turkey and duck. 

My turkey in 2014 - with butter and herbs under and over the skin for extra flavor - was oven-roasted to perfection: 

"Gobble gobble!"

"Gobble gobble!"

My duck for Christmas Eve 2015 also resulted in a smug sense of satisfaction. Despite being told that nobody in my family had any desire to eat duck, I forged ahead anyway.

They’ll eat duck and they’ll like it dammit!

This provided no check on future kitchen arrogance, as they actually did eat it and they did like it. 

What lies ahead for this burgeoning preparer of fowl? I'm thinking goose or turducken. 

Stay tuned...

The Affordable Care Act Was A Real Game Changer

I have political opinions like anyone and, in general, you can find mine by checking out my Twitter account. I've made a conscious effort to keep this blog free of politics, unless there is a point of view I am not seeing effectively expressed elsewhere. 

The post-election discussion about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare", has left something out that I think will be important as history judges its success or failure. 

Politics is covered in the moment as a zero-sum, winner-takes-all game. You win by being elected and/or having legislation passed, and you lose by losing elections and/or having your legislation vetoed or repealed. 

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, I don't think this approach will suffice when determining the ultimate impact this historic - but likely to be short lived - program has on our country. 

In the run-up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (2009 to early 2010), the debate centered on whether the government should have a role in health care markets beyond the established programs (Medicaid, Medicare, and coverage for our veterans through the VA). 

In the years that followed, with divided rule in Washington, the debate was between Democrats who wanted to preserve and expand the Affordable Care Act and Republicans who wished to repeal it, followed by a shift in message to "repeal and replace". 

As the specter of one-party Republican rule approaches, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been treated as a given. The question being bandied about is "what will replace it?"

The fact that opposition has gone from "repeal" to "repeal and replace" to a tangible discussion about what the replacement will be, is extremely important. Rather than an assumption that we can go back to a time where government had no role in the individual and family insurance markets, government having a role is being accepted as we look for alternative means of covering those who have been covered by policies purchased in the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. 

Policy discussions on health care operating from a starting point that the government has a role in providing coverage will be a legacy that lives on long after the Affordable Care Act has been laid to rest. 

 

Letter Writing: A Lost Skill

My paternal Grandmother always told me I should write her a letter once in a while. I only followed through a couple of times and should have made more of an effort. Instead of once in a while, it was once in a blue moon. 

The truth is, letter writing has been a declining skill - you could even argue an art - for the past two generations. 

Despite the declining prevalence of letters in our society, they still serve a useful purpose. A letter can be a powerful yet controlled way to express important thoughts, ideas, and emotions. People who struggle with face-to-face contact are often better able to express themselves on paper. 

So, write more letters, right? 

Not exactly. Some people who would be best served by expressing things on paper weren't blessed with the writing gene. Just like I wasn't blessed with the skills necessary to do a major plumbing repair without getting soaked. 

That's where I come in to the picture.

For the past eight years I've made a living helping people turn their thoughts, ideas, and emotions into easily digestible content that reaches a specific target audience. I can do the same for you.

For the sake of demonstration, let's pretend you're mired in one of the following situations: 

  • Your neighbor's dog keeps shitting on your lawn and you are upset about it. 
  • You are sick and tired of your sibling's bullshit and have decided to make it known.
  • Things got a bit heated during the election, and you have some apologizing to do.

For a flat rate of $25 we have a quick chat or email exchange about what you are hoping to express, who the message is for, background on the situation, etc. I take that information and create a 300 word letter to meet your needs. If you need additional length to get the right message across, $10 will buy up to 200 words more, and so on. 

Instead of agonizing over every word and then feeling insecure about your writing, let me take care of it so you can reacquaint yourself with the remote control. 

It's The Time Of The Year For Annoying Holiday Letters

They're coming. 

"What's coming?" 

The letters. 

"Letters?" 

You know, the poorly written holiday letters that accompany the family Christmas photos that clutter your fridge. The letters that detail the mundane lives of extended family members and acquaintances. The letters that fill up your recycling bin the week after New Year's. The letters that attempt to set a record for the longest run-on sentence in recorded history.

"Oh dear. You noticed that?" 

Yes. We all did. 

"Well, I mean..."

It's okay. You're not a professional writer. You're an administrative professional, a project manager, a manufacturing employee, a salesperson, etc. Writing's not your jam, but that doesn't mean you can't have a well written, engaging letter this year that people hold onto until Valentine's Day or maybe even stuff in a shoe box to be forgotten. That's a pretty big step up if I do say so myself. 

"How?"

Let me take care of it for a reasonable fee.

Whether you have a letter prepared but want it reviewed and polished before sending it out, you have a few bullet points, or you need help starting from scratch, get in touch with me and we'll figure out how I can help you.

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and we'll be lighting candles and hanging wreaths sooner than you can say "credit card debt." Click here to send me an email or call 651-431-1614 to get the bough rolling (see what I did there?). 

Election 2016: What About The Ground Game?

My policy about politics on this website is that I will only enter the fray if I believe I have something to say that hasn't already been represented well elsewhere. Now, less than a week before election day, that time has come. 

Despite the unconventionality of this election, it has been covered lately much more conventionally, particularly reporting on polling of likely voters as well as hard data coming in on early voters. 

This has piqued my interest, because it has been well documented that the Trump campaign has a very sparse operation on the ground, relying primarily on the RNC's infrastructure and local GOP operations to turn out likely voters. However, in states such as Ohio where there is a competitive senate race, such operations have resorted to turning out split-ticket voters who support Hillary Clinton as well as the GOP senate candidate

Why does this matter? Here's a quote from the US News piece I linked to above: 

But a good ground game, consultants in both parties generally agree, makes a 3-5 point difference in a battleground state's election results – meaning an aggressive effort could easily, in a close election, determine who occupies the White House.

As you watch election returns on election night, keep this in the back of your mind. If Clinton outperforms the final polls while Trump under-performs, my hunch is that their investments - or lack of investments - in the ground game will be the reason. 

Bring Back The Stick!

You get in the car, you turn the key, put your foot on the break and shift from Park into Drive. It's as simple as that, right? What more could there possibly be to it? 

Plenty. 

A large but dwindling number of drivers still remember when the instructions for getting going were a bit more complicated, involving a clutch pedal and a manual transmission operated on the column or the floor. It was a time where "three on the tree" and "four on the floor" were more than phrases bandied about at classic car shows. 

Even I, a spry 31 year-old, began driving a 5 speed manual transmission, both on my first car - a bright red 1997 Ford Aspire - and a 1993 Ford Ranger pickup truck. To this day I still miss driving a manual and consider purchasing one in the future. Unfortunately, they are becoming harder to find and the majority of new drivers have no idea how to operate one. 

More Than Nostalgia

A pleasing trip down memory lane is not the only reason I hope manual transmissions make a comeback. I sincerely believe they can make a dent in the number of injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving. 

Just this week, a Big Lake, MN woman was accused of distracted driving in a crash that caused the death of a teenager in River Falls, WI. She denies being on her phone at the time of the crash but, even if that's true, all it takes is a quick Google news search to find plenty of examples of distracted driving deaths in Minnesota and beyond.

How would a manual transmission fix this? Well, it's pretty simple. It's hard to send text messages, eat greasy fast food, read the newspaper, put on makeup, shave, or pursue sexual gratification while steering with one hand and shifting through the gears with the other. 

If I have my way, my son's first vehicle will have a manual transmission. Nothing cures a case of automotive ADD quicker than learning how to grind through the gears. 

 

How Will The Vikings Blow It?: 2016 Edition

It's quite possible, even probable, that no one person or thing has scarred me more than the Minnesota Vikings. 

While I'm enjoying the team's 5-0 start and believe they have the tools - dominant defense, above average quarterback play, play-making special teams - to go the distance this year, I can't help shake the feeling that this season is yet another tease that will end with my heart in a purple vice.

In an effort to lessen my anxiety and take the edge off of the impending doom, I will lay out some likely options for how they will yet again fail to bring home the Lombardi Trophy this winter. 

Scenario 1: The Season Rides Away On A Camel

Yes, he's clearly going to be enshrined in Canton as a Hall of Fame running back, the likes we haven't seen as a pure runner since Jim Brown. Unfortunately, unlike other greats such as Walter Payton and Emmit Smith, he is not a complete running back. He struggles as a receiver, is abysmal in pass protection, and has not been able to adapt to the increased use of shotgun and pistol formations in the modern NFL. 

As his one skill has diminished with age, he has become a drain on the offense. With Adrian Peterson lost to a torn meniscus, the offense has been able to open up and run through Sam Bradford rather than feeding Adrian Peterson carry after carry against a stacked box. 

My fear is that he will return just in time to gum up the works. 

How does this scenario end? He returns late in the season and reestablishes himself in the offense only to fumble away a playoff game for the third time in his career (2009 NFC Championship Game and 2015 NFC Wildcard Game being the others). 

Scenario 2: The Damn Kicker

Do I really need to elaborate on this one? Ask yourself this: if Blair Walsh steps onto the field with the game on the line are you more than 50 percent confident he'll make the kick? Yeah, neither am I. 

Scenario 3: Butter Fingers In The Defensive Backfield

The secondary has played outstanding thus far, but this past Sunday's game gave a glimpse of what could be a tragic future. Harrison Smith dropped an interception that surely would have gone for a touchdown. I could see the Vikings' defensive backs dropping a few gimmes over the course of a game only to lose a close, low-scoring game. 

Scenario 4: Offensive Offensive Line Play

Somehow the coaching staff has managed to get adequate play out of an offensive line that is now down two starting tackles and has lost a considerable amount of depth due to the retirement of Phil Loadholt, the release of John Sullivan and the mysterious illness of Mike Harris. If this house of cards collapses at the wrong moment such as a Super Bowl game against a ferocious Denver pass rush, their season could end with a barrage of sacks. 

If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on Scenario 1. However, being a Vikings fan, I realize that the season could end in bizarre ways I can't even yet fathom. After all, who could've foreseen losing in 2009 with the combination of 12 men in the huddle, across-the-body interception, incorrect first down spot, and a phantom pass interference? 

Poetry ala Commode

It smells like someone took a dump. 
 

I'm not sure who would have done such a thing. 


Being the only one here, it appears that I must have been the one to take a dump. 
 

I'm pretty sure I did in fact do such a thing. 
 

It smells like someone took a dump. 

I'll Take It

In a goal-driven world it can be difficult to find the next challenge when you've already accomplished everything you set out to do in life. I have a lovely wife, a healthy child, a steady job and a functional house. I'm a simple guy, so I'm all set. 

But there's one thing that has eluded me: The Inver Grove Heights Lawn of the Week award, bestowed upon the community's neatest yard on a rotating basis throughout the summer. Since its inception in 2015, they've managed to avoid doing the right thing - placing this sign on my lawn - despite the pounds of fertilizer, meticulous pruning cuts, gallons of fence stain, trailer loads of mulch and pallets of landscape brick that I've labored over. 

Last night, while hand-picking some weed trimmer byproducts, I was approached by a community member out for an evening stroll. Without my earbuds in I was forced to engage in conversation with this being, who began the chat with a simple "Hi." I responded in kind, pleased that I survived the initial encounter. 

She followed up with "Your lawn always looks so great." 

"Oh, thank you!" 

Take that City of Inver Grove Heights!

Blast From The Past

I can't recall whether this was from second grade or third grade, but I was asked to write a fictional story based on the history unit we were in the midst of studying. My ADD is clearly evident in this piece, matching my doctor's diagnosis at the time.

Despite the historical inaccuracies, butchering of proper tense, and incorrect punctuation, I managed to receive a "Super Stuff!" stamp for my effort.

Without further ado:

The Runaway Slaves

By Brian

 

"Hi," my name is Brian Hogenson. I am 56 years old. I have been in jail for 31 years. I was 25 when I was put in jail, but it was worth it. I was put in jail in 1825. I was helping slaves escape on the Underground Railroad. They wanted me to pay an 800 dollar fine but I said "No" because slavery was wrong. Then they put me in jail. I can go home tomorrow. 

The Civil War started 45 minutes ago. I hope the North wins then blacks will be free. There never should have been slavery in the U.S.A. If people are going to have plantations, they shouldn't need slaves. Now I will tell my story. One day some slaves came to my house in Wisconsin, and asked for a place to hide. The next day I was going to Michigan with the slaves so I could help them cross the Great Lakes, when I saw a Marshal coming toward my wagon. I was scared. Then I made my horse pull the wagon as it could. "Hurry Up!", I told my horse.

The horse got mad. My horse kicked the wagon with the slaves in it up in the air. The slaves were going down a hill! The marshal shot my horse. Then an Ojibwa Indian came out of the woods. He threw a tomahawk at the marshal. The marshal was dead! The indian and I had to go to jail. I don't know what happened to the slaves. The Indian killed himself 6 days later. "Bye", I have to go home now. "Oh! No!" I've been talking for two days! 

 

The END

Fun With Band Names

For every rag tag group of kids in a garage failing to play their instruments properly there is the need for a band name. 

I often stumble upon thoughts or phrases that I soon realize would be a great name for a garage band or cover band. From time to time I will share these on my blog in case a fledgling band would like to use them. 

Today's installment: 

  • The Piss Shivers
  • Acidic Urethra 
  • Toothless Tom & The Teabaggers
  • At-Fault Party
  • Pepperoni Bra Sweats
  • The Onion Bits
  • Blueberry Rage Machine

Balls To The Wall. And Everywhere Else.

My son is obsessed with balls.

He loves playing with his balls.

He loves playing with other people's balls.

He loves playing with my balls.

He loves playing with the cat's balls.

Before you call Child Protective Services, I should probably point out that I'm referring to baseballs, footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and such, not the dangling sex organs responsible for so many injurious scenes on American's Funniest Home Videos over the years.

Baseball seems to be the pastime of choice for my two year old son. How many other kids his age can remain calm and well-behaved in the stands during a 9 inning ballgame?

His love of baseball has recently led me to purchase the MLB.TV package which allows access to games each day around the league.

It's a win-win as Adam remains entertained with baseball on-demand, and I have been able to reignite the flame of my nearly-lost love of baseball. From tuning in to a captivating pitching match up to falling asleep to the soothing sounds of Vin Scully, I've really enjoyed it.

Most importantly, taking in the sights and sounds of a ballgame has given Adam and I something to connect over, just as it did for my father and I.

I challenge you parents out there to find something in common with your child that you can enjoy together and make your own. I promise you won't regret it.

Crotch Sweat and Damp Toilet Seats: Summer's Here

I Can't Take The Heat (But I Do Enjoy The Kitchen)

The high temperature on Thursday is forecast to be 86, followed by successive days of 94, 94, and 88. It may be meteorological Spring for a couple more weeks, but it's starting to feel like summer is here.

This is not something I look forward to.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a lawn chair, a cold beer, and the smell of fresh cut grass as much as the next guy, but there are two things I hate with a passion: high heat and oppressive humidity. 

Born in the Pacific Northwest, I'm a man who is not fond of weather extremes. I like my weather like my Pad Thai: mild.

The only months I truly enjoy in terms of weather are May, September, and October. April and November are often able to avoid entry on my shit list, while June and August join them once in a blue moon.

A New Approach

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." - Ecclesiastes 3:1

The spirit of that verse helps me get through the winter and enjoy rainy days. I'm going to try the same approach to summer this year, making an honest effort to enjoy every day for what it is.

To aid me in this new approach, I'll attempt to expel my bowel of complaints in this post. With no further adieu, here are the things I hate most about hot and humid summer days:

  • Sweaty armpits
  • The beads of sweat that form on my bald head before running down my face
  • Thigh chafing
  • Crotch sweat
  • Back swe....alright, you get the point. I'm a sweaty person.
  • Hot, stuffy cars
  • Hot, stuffy offices
  • Hot, stuffy anything
  • When people purposely drive with the windows down instead of turning on the A/C
  • The way bug splatters, water spots and other auto imperfections look so much worse under the hot glare of the sun
  • The smell of a roasting portable toilet
  • That clammy, sticky feeling in the morning air
  • The scent of hot garbage
  • When you sit on a toilet seat and can't tell if you've made contact with urine or another human's sweat, and you're not sure which would be worse
  • The smell of dead fish on the beach

That's the bulk of 'em. I'll do my best to enjoy the upcoming summer but I won't make any guarantees. If you can't find me, look in the shade of a tree or check the basement.