I just finished posting the photos (and a video) from Haylie’s 4th Birthday Party. I was a little disappointed that I somehow missed the “grand finale” of the pinata smashing on the video though. I thought I captured that, which I thought was the best part, but I think my camera was still paused when I thought it was recording. Bummer! Enjoy what’s there though. I still have a couple of “auto-awesomes” from the bouncy house that I’m working on, so I’ll add those later on. Enjoy!
Ok, I’ve started a photo section for Connor Krumm, Matt and Anna’s baby. This will be the first time I’ve started an album before someone is born, so I guess this one is at age zero. I figured I might as well start now, since we already have a stack of photos (sort of) that Matt and Anna have shared with us, and now that they’re accumulating I wanted to make sure they didn’t get misplaced or lost. So here we go, Connor’s place in the cloud. The set will include photos from both inside and outside of the womb. His expected arrival date is December 21st, 2013.
Well, finally, I’ve managed to get everything (I think) organized and sorted out from this year’s vacation, so here it is. This year, for spring break we went to Arizona. No surprise there, this was my third time there, Kevin’s second, and Sandy’s first. We enjoy getting away, Arizona is an awesome place to visit this time of year, and Jay, Shell and family make it feel just like home. Our vacation was two weeks long and began Friday 3/22/13 and ending Saturday 4/6/13 when we returned home. We drove, with me doing 90% of the driving this time. Last time, when Patrick went with Kevin, Ty and I, we split the driving in half, so we saved some vacation time by driving straight through, there and back. This time, since it was just me driving (pretty much) we planned one overnight stay at a motel going down and one coming back. It worked out very nicely.
We left Kenosha on Friday night–technically it was Saturday morning, since we left after midnight. I slept from about 6pm Friday to around midnight, as Sandy and Kevin packed and got things ready. After I got up, we loaded the car and left. Socks was so confused, with everyone leaving him alone in the middle of the night.
The hardest part of the drive was that first night driving in the dark, getting sleepy mainly just because it was dark out. After the sun came up it was much easier to stay awake and see everything. Sandy even tried driving, once we hit a stretch of 200+ miles of straight road, and it worked out well, allowing me to get some much-needed rest. She did that a few more times on the trip down, which was a huge relief for me each time.
Kevin started collecting state pins for his hat along the way, so he’s got quite a few already. We stayed overnight at Travelodge in Amarillo, TX on Saturday night, and it was very comfortable. Then in the morning we stopped at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo before heading out on the rest of the drive to Phoenix. The Cadillac Ranch was unexpectedly ice-cold and out in the middle of a field, so we froze a bit, and had to make it only a short stop before hurrying back to the car to thaw out. Unfortunately we didn’t stay until the sun came all the way up, or we would have gotten some better photos than we did. The rest of the Sunday drive was nice, much less stressful than Saturday was, since the driving was only during the daylight hours.
The visit with Jay and his family was great. We ate good, played good, and just took it easy most of the time, when we weren’t preparing for, or going on, our little excursions in the area. We had planned to drive to Hollywood and LA this year, but it just didn’t work out this time, so we skipped it. Maybe next year. It’s still on our “to do” list. We want to see the walk of fame, the Hollywood sign, and a few other famous locales in that area, at the very least.
Did I mention the horses…er, I mean, their dogs? Jay has two of the largest dogs I’ve ever played with. Ozzie is a 12-year-old St. Bernard, and Duke is a 5-month-old Great Dane puppy! Duke (the puppy!) makes poops larger than Socks himself! Socks would be a light snack for him. And, appropriately, he makes the exact same sound as a Clydesdale when he walks across their hardwood floors! He’s very playful and friendly, but he certainly doesn’t realize his size and power and hasn’t learned to respect personal space yet. Ozzie, on the other hand, is a “gentle giant”, just chillin’ all the time and looking for a nice petting from anyone willing to pay attention to him. It was fun watching them wrestle and play tug-of-war together too. There are some photos of them in here.
We went camping at Lake Pleasant Tuesday and Wednesday, and came back Thursday morning. That was very nice, the weather was excellent, and my only complaint was an upset stomach and diarrhea I picked up from something along the way. It passed in a couple days though, so all in all it was really nice. There are a few Lake Pleasant photos in this miscellaneous album.
Monday 4/1 we went to Tombstone and The Thing. Just after leaving Tombstone, we had to stop at a border patrol checkpoint. Their dog sniffed our car, we were asked if we were all US Citizens, Sandy said hello to the nice doggy, and we were back on the road. The Thing was full of its usual weirdness, our in the middle of nowhere (Dragoon, AZ) but still has an excellent gift shop and a Dairy Queen, which we took full advantage of. Kevin, of course, had to collect his usual bag of rocks for his collection, and some other trinkets
Tuesday, 4/2, Jay drove us up South Mountain. This is another must-see every time someone new is with us. The view is not to be missed. Shell came with this time, and she isn’t too fond of heights. This was Sandy’s first visit, and I think she really liked it.
On the way back from South Mountain we went for lunch at Alice Cooperstown. This is a really cool restaurant located 2 blocks from Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s a warehouse-style building filled with music memorabilia, and featuring a 2-foot hot dog called “The Big Unit”. I took several photos, but with my current diet, I didn’t have the guts to order The Big Unit. A couple other people did while we were there, and they make a big deal out of it. I didn’t manage to get the camera out in time, so I missed a photo of the actual thing. Maybe next time I’ll even order one myself. I could always split it with someone, or take some home.
We also visited the Roosevelt Dam while we were there. It was really neat, and very well documented at the viewing areas on both sides of the dam. Then, after talking to a couple other travelers who came from the other direction, we decided to head back home by way of the Apache Trail. This is a long trail, about 40-50 miles, consisting mostly of graded dirt road (sometimes very thin, I might add–and very bumpy) winding around, up, and down a mountain range. It was a little scary at times, but we took it easy and enjoyed the ride. The views were spectacular, as you can see by the photos! I even took a few small videos. One one point, when Tyler was deep into his music and not paying attention, Jay made the van fishtail, on purpose, just enough to scare the crap out of Tyler and make him think we were out of control! His reaction was priceless. One additional note on the Roosevelt Dam and Apache Trail Photos, in case you look at them: You might notice that many of them are very clear and sharp, while others are very hazy and low-quality. The high-quality photos were the result of Jay’s awesome new 18 megapixel Sony camera! Wow, is that thing nice, even for quick panoramas! You can really tell the difference in quality between photos from that camera and the rest, which are from my phone, Sandy’s phone (which are both 8 megapixels), and Kevin’s phone (5 megapixels). I’ll definitely get a camera like Jay’s before our next trip, that’s for sure!
Wednesday, 4/3, was Lia’s birthday party at Chuck e Cheese. Ah, some things never change: Pizza, Animatronic Chuckie, a “live” visit from him every hour on the 30’s, the goofy and most-awful song parodies EVER, and games that hate to give up their tickets. Then it’s over to the ticket-eating machine to cash in and see what little $1.00 prizes the kids have earned.
I had also planned to take a few random “portal runs” using Ingress, but that didn’t happen either. Not knowing the area very well would make it very difficult, and no one seemed too keen on using a lot of gas just to get me AP points in Ingress so I could level up sooner. I seemed to be the only one there really into the game, so majority ruled and I set it aside. I did manage to hack a few choice portals and get a few nice keys during the regular stops on the trip though! I took screenshots of the dual portals at the Cadillac Ranch (both Resistance-owned) and the portal at Roosevelt Dam was wide open, so I acquired that one for myself. I even obtained a key for that one, and as I just checked it today, I am still the Owner, and it’s now a L6 portal, thanks to other Resistance members who must have leveled it up for me. Being only an L6 myself, I can’t level up a portal higher than L4 on my own. It wasn’t an easy task, even though it was an unoccupied portal when we arrived–the cellular reception there was very very weak, and I could only obtain a weak signal when I stood in certain specific spots at the lookout point, and even then it only stay connected for a very short time, just enough to place one or two resonators before getting disconnected again. Now I’m using remote recharge from home, whenever I get the chance, to keep it fully charged up.
Thursday, 4/4, at 6pm we left Jay’s for Mount Rushmore. I stayed up the night before, only taking a short nap in the middle of the night, so I could get a good sleep in just before leaving. I went to sleep between 9 and 10am Thursday and slept good until about 4:30pm. Then we ate, and headed out for South Dakota. Having a good sleep, I was able to comfortably drive clear through the night, until shortly after the sun came up. We were in Las Vegas, New Mexico when I decided I was too tired to continue, so Sandy took over once we got to road with no changes for several hundred miles. I slept a couple hours, then took over driving again the rest of the way into South Dakota. We stayed at a motel in Rapid City, SD, which is about 25-30 minutes from Mount Rushmore. It was dark when we arrived, so we spent the night there, then went to Mount Rushmore after breakfast in the morning. We had breakfast at the Colonial House in Rapid City, SD before Mt. Rushmore. It was a restaurant with Wizard of Oz theme. Very good food.
We ran across Castle Rock, Colorado on the way there too. This is something I hadn’t seen before – There was a gas station at the base of this huge, vertical mountain, with what looks like a very old stone castle or building atop it. I took a few shots while filling up at the gas station.
Mount Rushmore is an awesome sight. At first glance, when we were still approaching it, it looked very small. Then, as we got closer, things became bigger and clearer. There’s a very nice, official monument building there, including a huge viewing area, a stadium in front of it, a museum containing its entire history, and an enormous gift shop. It’s free to view, but you have to pay $11.00 to park your vehicle there.
Lastly, I must say, Wyoming is the most boring, flat state in the country. It’s empty. Lusk, Wyoming – Flat as a pancake, no humans seen for hours and hours. I’d hate to break down anywhere in that state, that’s for sure. A curious sight we did see (or “sights” I should say), was the billboards for The Firehouse Brewing Company, which is located in Rapid City, SD, where we stayed the night. These billboards, located along the highway all through South Dakota and in one or two other states as well, each have a completely real fire engine–usually a restored antique–all polished up and looking perfectly usable–next to them! Every single one, I swear, had an enormous real fire engine alongside it. At the first one I thought there was a fire at the billboard or something, not making the connection until we passed another one.
All in all, it was a great vacation with no issues at all. Very pleasant! We’d like to thank Jay and Shell and their wonderful family–again–for allowing us to stay with them. Already, Kevin is already asking “What else is there that we can see and do there next year?” I told him “There’s a ton more, Kevin – the country is a big place…Google it!” I explained that I haven’t even begin to think about next year’s vacation, I’m still trying to sort through THIS year’s vacation photos and get them posted as soon as I can! At least he’s looking forward to it… He must have had a good time.
Wow, Christmas is getting close. The holiday cheer is here. Three nice things just from this morning: Rick and Sandy made the paper (see photo–click it to see it full-size in a new window), then, when I went to Flickr to upload it, Flickr presented me with a gift of 3 free months of Flickr Pro–that’s a whopping $6.00 more in my pocket… then when I went to Facebook to catch up on family and friends I found that Jelly Bean was released today for my Galaxy SIII! I hit the trifecta today!
We spent the weekend cleaning out the new garage and putting away most of our stuff from the old house. We even filtered out some more and had several bags more of trash and many boxes for the rummage sale Sandy’s going to have. I also dug out the Atari 800 I pulled from the wreckage of the old house’s basement and tried it out. I told Jay I would ship it to him in Arizona if it worked. It actually did! I was amazed. It fired right up and took me to the blue “READY” prompt instantly. And I mean instantly. Back then there was no OS to load (unless you had an OS on a floppy you wanted to load, like DOS. Kevin was shocked when I demonstrated my programming skills by writing this program in a jiff:
10 PRINT “HELLO WORLD! “;
20 GOTO 10
Then I typed RUN and off it went, filling the screen with “HELLO WORLD! HELLO WORLD! HELLO WORLD! HELLO WORLD! HELLO WORLD! HELLO WORLD! ” infinitely. After a few minutes he asked how to stop it. I press BREAK and it stopped on line 10. I thought maybe it would plant a seed, making him wonder what else it might be capable of, or what kinds of programs could he possibly write using those mysterious “word” commands… but he quickly moved on to something else and asked for his chair back… which I had been using as a stand for the Atari 800. So it’s in a box now, I just have to pack it up tightly and get it over to the UPS Store.
I also got the gas-powered leaf blower started today, and he had a blast filling several bio bags with leaves. I found that setting it up as a leaf SUCKER–with attached bag–makes it much more useful than a leaf blower. The day was awesome–as Jay pointed out–it was 60F this morning here, which it was in the 30’s in Arizona. I told him “Things are getting weird as the end of the world approaches!” The wind was out of control though–it was very very windy, so even after we filled several bags with leaves, more just filled the yard again. With our new chain-link fence and a big tree in the backyard, we now have our own, personal, yard-sized leaf bin! It felt good to get a lot of them cleaned up though, and even better to have a good chunk of the garage cleaned up as well. Things are coming along. I only wish I could say the same for the bank. They’re moving like molasses with the old house.
I have a brilliant teenager. While we were trick-or-treating my phone kept me updated on the football games. I told Kevin, when they were over, that both the Packers and the Bears won today. Kevin says “Sooooo……it was a tie???”
Walked 3.49 miles trick-or-treating. I thought I’d be exhausted, but I’m fine. Socks and Kevin, on the other hand, are beat. Kevin was half frozen, with red ears and nose, and Socks was shivering pretty bad too. Sandy picked us up at the 2-hour mark after we had a good Southbound walk, and dropped us at the house again so we could do the neighborhood North of the house. Not too many lights on to the North though–we got our largest haul from the area South. Shockingly, there was only one light on Christmas Lane! I thought that block would be the busiest. I guess when you go all-out on one particular holiday a year, the rest of them don’t mean anything to you. Luckily, I didn’t get paged at all while we were trick-or-treating, so it all turned out pretty nice.
We also had Kevin’s confirmation today. That was nice too, and he’s now a confirmed member of the church. Here’s a few photos.
I posted this on Facebook last week. Sorry it took so long to get it over here, I need to change my habits and post everything HERE first, then share it to Facebook: I had a 3-month checkup last week and it turns out I lost 16 lbs in 3 months. I am officially–permanently–well under 300 lbs now, and it feels great. It’s nice to be going “backwards” for a change! By that I mean that as I’m getting older it’s actually getting easier to do things, the pain is receding, and I’m feeling better, instead of just the opposite. And the better I feel, the more I realize I should have done this a LOOOONG time ago, and I know I’ll never, ever, go back to weighing over 300 lbs again. Everyone’s encouragement helps a lot too, and I really appreciate it.
So… Hurricane Sandy, huh? That’s awesome. Now I have a new nickname for my wife. Seriously though, my cousin Julie seems to be right in Hurricane Sandy’s path. This is not good. Here’s the Facebook group for the hurricane.
Trick-or-Treat is this Sunday, October 28th. Kevin’s going as Hawkeye from The Avengers and Socks is going as a pumpkin. I’ll take a few pictures. We’re also going to the pumpkin farm tonight. Should be fun!
I promise to start posting more often… no matter how small it is, I’ll post something. If you’ve noticed though, my daily walks are always added to my photos on Flickr and in the right sidebar all the time, so there’s that, and all of my checkins are updated regularly on FourSquare (and in the right sidebar), so don’t those count? I know, I know, it’s just not the same…. those are automated and require little effort. You want something more solid. Be back soon… you AND me both…
We’ve been very busy the past few weeks since Sandy’s dad George passed away. He left behind a great family of three kids (if I can call them that) and a pretty darned nice house, if I do say so myself. We’ve been busy getting things in order, cleaned up, shuffled around, and legally situated, and we’re almost ready to “Git ‘er done!” as they (Larry the Cable Guy) says. Since I’m not willing to discuss anything regarding this in detail yet, and I still feel like writing, let’s talk apps.
There are a few apps on my Android that I just can’t live without, and I’d like to discuss them. The first one is Evernote. Evernote is free, and it’s awesome. It’s very simple to use, and you can use it just as a basic note-taking app if you want to. Once you write and save a note in Evernote, it’s on your account and will automatically sync with every other device you have (if you have Evernote on that device) and this way your notes will be available to you everywhere you need them! This has become priceless for me at work–I often take notes before going offsite to other faciltiies. I used to write up a quick Word document, print it, fold it up and put it in my pocket. Now I simply type it up in an Evernote document and I can head out the door knowing when I take out my cell phone, it’ll be there for me to read whenever I need it. Evernote also does much more. It lets you attach files, insert images, and documents such as PDFs and docs, and it’ll even OCR your images and will find the text within them instantly whenever you search for something!
Another must-have app–for me, anyway–is Cardiotrainer. I won’t walk without it. It GPS-tracks your walks (or hikes, rides or drives), providing you with an excellent map of your journey as well as complete calorie-burning details and much more. It even allows you to set optional goals for you trip, such as a specific amount of time you’d like to walk, a certain distance you’d like to travel, or a certain amount of calories you’d like to burn off, and it will prompt you accordingly at the intervals you set, as you walk, so you know exactly where you are and how close you are to your goal all the time. This is one of those smart talking apps too–none of of beeps and ringtones, it talks plain english to you. It will even automatically play a specific playlist of your music as you walk, if you want it to. I prefer to listen to my audiobooks on my walks though, which encourages me to walk even more–so I can get further through each book I’m reading. Cardiotrainer is free for basic use, but the “pro” version is the version I use, which include all of the features I mentioned. It’s $9.99, which is actually pretty pricey for an Android app, but believe me, it’s worth every penny! Especially if it helps you live longer and healthier, as it has me…A one-time $10 fee is a no-brainer!
There are many more apps I could mention here, but it’s time for breakfast, so I’ll only mention one more: Handcent. Handcent is an SMS texting app replacement. It replaces your stock Android texting app with a fancy-shmancy “bubble-type” texting app, akin to the iPhone texting app. It includes a TON of options, so you can pretty much customize it exactly how you’d like it for everything from popups when you get a text to exactly what ringtones you want it to play for a specific person or for the default text-received ringtone. It even has “skins”, which opens it up to hundreds (maybe even thousands) of user-created and custom skins you can use while texting. You can even make it look and act just like the iPhone–if you want to keep it simple.
So that’s about it for now… breakfast time!
FUNERAL FOR GEORGE WEGMANN, JR. – ST. MARY’S LUTHERAN CHURCH
July 27, 2012 – Kenosha, Wisconsin
Good Morning. I just wanted to stand up here for a couple of minutes to tell you about one of my fondest memories I have of my father… When my mother went into labor with me at Saint Catherine’s Hospital, my dad was sitting in the waiting room for hours. This was back when they didn’t let the father go into the delivery room like they do these days. During this time, the nurses changed shifts and no one bothered to come and tell my dad that I was born. My dad eventually went to the nurse’s station and asked how my mom was doing. The nurse said “Oh! No one told you? Your wife had a baby girl!” My dad then started to cry and said “I finally got my baby girl!”
My father loved me as his baby girl every day of his life. Now, as he goes on to his eternal life with God in Heaven, I’m sure he’s looking down on us now, happy to see just how many people really loved and cared for him. Thank you all for being a part of his life, and for being here today. We love you dad. Peace be with you.
Text: John 6:58-63
Ninety Two. Just imagine. Well, we don’t have to imagine. We will have to rewrite that verse in the Psalms about “three score and ten, and maybe four score if we are strong enough”. More and more people are living through and past nine decades. And they say in a short while, living past 100 will be common place.
It is an “Amazing Grace” to live nearly a century. Those I have known have all displayed a remarkable view of life. They seemed to have an understanding of the incredible “glory” written in the Revelations, like the verses we just shared; a vision of heaven not so mysterious as it is to those of us who are farther away. It’s an amazing grace coming out of a patience with life. Approaching and passing 90 it seems we finally understand what Jesus was saying when he asked, “Why are you so anxious about so many things?”
We youngsters find anxiety to be a way of life, and the younger you go the less patience we seem to find. Children have almost none at all, demanding everything “NOW! We live with such urgency. We work so hard to “make a living”, when the truth is “life makes us”. George and others know something we have yet to find.
Still, to understand God’s “amazing grace” Jesus says we have to approach “like children”, willing to trust, ready for change, searching for “new”. To get older is not just resignation, giving in, taking life as it comes, “whatever”. Rather through the years it is God’s gift that we discover the grace that flows in power, moving through life with us. Peace like a river, carrying us on.
I got a letter this week from a friend in Madison. Her name is Anita, and it happens that she also is 92. I did her husband’s funeral about 25 years ago. She writes in her own hand 2 or 3 times a year. This time she told me about a shooting that happened in her trailer park where she has lived for over 50 years, and how it has stirred up a fear in her that is so foreign to her view of life. And she also expressed the great joy she has in lots of folks who hold her in their daily conversation, so that even now she knows her life is full of grace.
There is a place in Marks gospel where Jesus heals a blind man, and Jesus says, “Do you see anything?” And the man says he looks and there appears people, “like trees walking”. I caught a glimpse in Anita and in George of humanity like a forest, and some of us grow so long and rooted and tall, protecting all us young saplings (not to mention “Saps” sometimes), as we find our way. They know the flow of grace, up through from their feet, out to the living and still growing ends, leaves of knowing grace and celebrating it. They bare the marks of hurt and healing and the strength of no longer needing to be anxious about every wind or storm.
George’s life includes the story of the Great Depression growing from boy to young man, and World War II — first hand. I caught my breath when Rick and Mike and Sandy told me how George had come away from Pearl Harbor just days before December 7, 1941. They said he never talked about it much, but how would you talk about such a thing? And he went back into battle in the Pacific for another six years.
Then he had to take on a world gone crazy out of the 60’s and 70’s, and right up to now. It is not just the pace of life that has changed, but much of what we casually call “crises” ain’t nothin’ to where George has been. Yes, there are some older folks who bare life with a kind of bitterness, but not George or my friend Anita. Life has not made them hard, but gentle, and able to see in the midst of all the awful stuff — like in Colorado — the gift of observing the good in every day, every person. And Jesus says, in those words from the gospel of John, that we ought not expect to find “amazing grace” in the stuff of the flesh, the stuff that fills our days with anxiety and fear. It is far deeper than that. It is of the SPIRIT.
We always think of the “spirit” as being so mysterious and intangible, but I wonder if the work and power of the spirit rather becomes more real and more actual as we pass more and more days and years behind us. I can imagine George right now saying, “I knew it! I knew it!”
We can pray that we don’t have to wait until we are 92 to get it, to see and grasp the invitation of amazing grace. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise him all creatures here below; praise him above the heavenly host — including George; praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.