Monday, July 31, 2006

Swass, Swits, and other weekend fun!

This weekend took me from a Sheboygan brat fry ("fry-out") to 4 blocks off Michigan Ave. falling asleep with a view of the Sears Tower.

Friday Night was the Sheboygan Alumni football game - guys 10 -20 years out of high school reliving their Glory Days (Sing, or at least hum, a little Bruce Springsteen here - it makes the story so much better.) We're talking 2 hours of full pads, full contact football. Even graduation years versus odd because the rivalry between the two schools is so intense even a decade or two out of school. Before it was gametime though, the night called for a real Sheboygan fry-out. (Or cookout/BBQ for anyone not from Sheboygan or Manitowoc counties). Brats and burgers on the grill - the only thing that would have made it better would have been if there were Sheboygan hardrolls to have the classic double brat on.

*A side note on brats and other sausage type meats. A spicy, mexican pork sausage - chorizo - is the new addition to the Sausage Race at Miller Park? It signed a "contract"? And it wears a sombrero? Granted the Sausage Race is one of the more entertaining parts of the game, the buzz this thing has gotten, including a press release quoting the GM might be a little much.

Back to the Fry-out and high school football. Despite the lack of hardrolls, the grilling was fantastic - nice job Andy. I was impressed. But, some of the best entertainment of the night was still to come. Off to North High School for the alumni game where T.F. and T.B. played for the evens, and were just beaten by the odds. A few of the highlights - some tripping over the chains when running on and off the field, even it was just to bring a tee on the field, and K.F. dancing in her swimming suit while she cheered for her dad from the stands. Nicely played guys - there's always next year guys - another chance to "Obliterate the Odds"- and I'll be at the game cheering again!

Saturday started with a haircut and pedicure - a little being girly never hurts.

Then it was on to Chicago to meet up with the Great America gang for the first time in four years. Starting the summer after high school graduation, we went to Six Flags together every summer for three years. When we got busy doing the college thing, the tradition fell apart for three years, only to be revived again this past weekend. The trip was typically a day trip, including some good stories surrounding the road trip part of the day, but with Ryan living in Chicago now, we were able to spend a little more time just chatting and catching up. We all met in Skokie for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (there's the obligatory chain restaurant name drop!) and a little swimsuit shopping - Ryan and Jas even helped. The dinner, conversation, and night spent at Ryan's condo in downtown Chicago were great. Floor to ceiling windows staring straight at the skyline aren't a bad thing to fall asleep to!

Sunday morning brought the Great America Subway run - this time done by Ryan and Jas - normally a Kate and Linds job - thanks guys! On the way to Gurnee, we ran into a little storm and a guy in green, velvety spandex pants... nothing too out of the ordinary!

Besides being as hot as death, and me not being able to handle rollercoasters without getting sick anymore, it was a great time. Records for number of rollercoasters ridden were not to be broken on this trip, and there were more than enough cases of swass and swits to go around, but it was a great time nonetheless. I knew some of the charm of the place had worn off since the last time I was there, but Andy probably put it best with the comment about there being sweaty, white trash in the rollercoaster seat right before you, and you sit down without really thinking about it (until the day after when you start regretting things like that!). Who knows if there will be another trip, but hopefully the reunion of four friends who grew up no more than two miles from each other but now live in four different cities (three states) will continue.

One last side story about the trip (Sorry Linds, it just wouldn't be a complete recap of the day without it!). Tradition says we eat subs together in the car with the best air conditioning at some point in the afternoon. With the cooler in Ryan's car, but Linds' new Rav 4 having the best AC, we decided to eat in hers The problem comes when you unlock the car, start it, turn on the air conditioner, lock the door, and then shut it. That situation requires talks with three different police/security officers, and a little Macgyver action. A little thing to remember - if it's 100 degrees out, and you lock your keys in your car at Great America, you're in a better situation if you have started the car before you shut the door. If it's running, the park security will open your door for you for free. If it's not, they'll hand you the number for a locksmith and wish you luck.

Overall, I'd have to say it was definitely a quality weekend. Thanks for all the fun guys!

The (Un)Happy Planet - continued-

Apparently world-happiness measures are all the rage lately, as I've come across another article discussing the "happiest country" in the world. (If you're interested -

The British scientist conducting this study didn't care about your life expectancy or how much you're hurting (or helping) the planet - but was more concerned about if you're satisfied with your situation and environment.

Denmark ranked first (followed by Switzerland, Austria, Iceland, and... the Bahamas - wonder why - who wouldn't be happy with soft sand beaches and warm ocean water everyday.) But for happiness, don't look to Burundi. They're probably unhappy because they're lonely - no one even knows they're there (or where "there" is for that matter).

FYI: The United States ranked 23rd out of 178. No mention of where Vanuatu placed.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Vacation and Team Building Day

It was back to reality today. Back to a real day of work after a week of vacation (well, 6 days of vacation, one day of EB Finance Team Building, and one real day of work).

Last Friday (over a week ago), I flew out of Sheboygan (after a long day of helping my computer-illiterate sales guys with PowerPoint presentations and simple spreadsheets - and to think I've signed myself up for working with them even more!), to meet the family in Door County. It seems crazy that such an idyllic place is only 2 hours away. It's no tropical island or black sand beach, but it's pretty nice for Northern Wisconsin.

I was there for 6 days, 5 nights, and don't have any major events to report, other than a ton of relaxing, hours in and on the lake, some golfing and shopping, and quite a few good restaurants. The place we stayed was about 50 feet from the water, with a dock right outside our door, which was perfect because dad brought the jetskis up. We were able to dock them right there, and hop on anytime we wanted. The sandy, city beach was just down the shore, and was great considering the temperature nearly hit 100 degrees most days. We did a little family golfing ("Roll your right hand on your follow through!"), saw a play in Peninsula State Park, and really just relaxed a ton - which was exactly what I needed. I won't bore you with more details on a pretty mellow trip, but suffice to say, it was a "vonderful!" trip.

Coming back to work from vacation on a Thursday isn't the best way to get back into the swing of things, luckily the folks at Engines are looking out for me! I got to come back on EB Finance Team Building Day! I tore apart and rebuilt an engine (with Lisa's help), and played a little golf at T&C with the Engines crew, and held my own with my team I must say! Thursday ended with my second Welders softball game (another win - nice job guys), and Bible Study with the girls.

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful, so nothing more exciting to report.

One more side note on the previous post on the Happy Planet Index. I've gotten several comments (none on the blog, but to me personally) from people who have taken the survey, and I've heard of 4 scores over 50! I need to learn something from you folks! Help a girl out!

And one more request, please keep Crossroads Community Church in your prayers - it's getting exciting, but we need as much help as we can get! Thanks to all of you who are already in on it with us - it's appreciated more than you probably know!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The (Un)Happy Planet?

I found an interesting article on today discussing the happiset countries on the planet.

The index is calculated by multiplying Life Satisfaction by Life Expectancy, and dividing the result by the county's ecological footprint. It reflects the "average years of happy life produced by a given society, nation or group of nations, per unit of planetary resources consumed," or "the efficiency with which countries convert the earth's finite resources into well-being experienced by their citizens."

The results were surprising. The tiny nation of Vanuatu (made famous with the help of reality tv in the form of Survivor) ranked first among the 178 nations surveyed. With the G8 summit coming up, it is interesting to note that none of the leading industrialized nations made the Top 50. Even more sad, but maybe not surprising, the US ranked at 150, with a HPI (Happy Planet Index) of 28.8. At the onset of the study, researchers set a "resonable target" at 83.5. However, they found that none of the countries studied scored higher than 68.2.

On a more self-revealing note, the site allows you to calculate your own HPI. I sadly scored a 27.2. Slightly lower than the US average, around that of Latvia.

Check it out at at let me know how you score - hopefully some of my friends are "happier" than I am when rated on the HPI!

Also, what do you think of the theory behind the measure? Does it make more sense than the typical, more purely economic measure of GDP?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4th Weekend

A few instructions for reading the 4th of July posts - and they're only necessary because of my incompetence as a blogger! Sorry about that, I'll work on figuring these things out a little better!

To get the whole story of my weekend in order, scroll down about four posts, and work your way up the page - it might make more sense that way, at least it'll be in chronological order then! Also, here are a few more random pictures from the weekend, since I can't figure out how to put more than a couple on a post!

4th of July Weekend - Part IV

The actual 4th of July started way too early for a holiday, but ended up being a pretty good day! The Crossroads Crew entered a boat in the Cardboard Boat Regatta (or Art Armada, whatever you want to call it), and thus had a float in the parade as well. Walking in a parade wasn't really what any of us had in mind when we joined the core team, but you do what ya gotta do! I had no idea what a big deal this Sheboygan 4th of July parade was, but there were people stacked five and six deep along the parade route. We had 1,500 frisbees to give out, and grossly underestimated the number of people that would show up for the parade. We were out of frisbees after about half the parade, but were still able to get in some mini-conversations with parade watchers, that really made the whole thing worthwhile. Seeing the kids get so excited about handing out frisbees to the other kids - and getting all the attention - was pretty cool too. TJ said it best when he was thinking how he never imagined he would be walking in a parade (implying that he felt kind of stupid doing it), but then said "What am I worried about! Look at all these people who showed up just to watch me walk!" That put it in perspective a little. It was also awesome to see everyone in this group, who are really putting their hearts and themselves into this church launch, have a great time, and get a chance to be pretty unashamedly public about their faith. It makes being on this journey with these people that much more exciting. Thanks Guys!

After the parade came the regatta. Cardboard boats in the dirty Sheboygan River (where there were several dead fish floating) are bound to bring some laughs. Our boat, Superbowl Champs 2007, (keeping with the theme of "A Better World" - what's better than the Packers winning?? - Other than a Bears fan rowing the boat!), featured Lambeau Field and a huge Lombardi trophy replica. It was definitely one of the better built boats, as it required no repair jobs in between heats, and didn't take on any water. We did well enough to make it through to the semi-final round (having the 8th best time out of 8 boats to make it on to the next round - but as Zach reminded us "The last shall be first!"). I couldn't tell you exactly what place we ended up in, we didn't win (weren't 8th either though), but we got a ton of publicity, and met a bunch of people who wanted to ask questions and were interested in Crossroads, so overall the day was a success - Job Well Done Core Team! Check us out at for more pictures and more info!

The regatta also featured the second public proposal I saw in 4 days. One pair of rowers, in a boat shaped like a dove called "A Better World Through Love" (which should have been the first hint), ended up in the middle of the course, and didn't seem to care, when all of a sudden a sign showed up in the boat saying "Be my first mate. Be my wife." Followed by a heart shaped "Yes" sign. They got a ton of cheering and applause, but didn't do so well in the race, but I'm guessing they weren't so worried about that at that point.

It was a long day in the sun and heat (which was actually pretty nice!), but I found a pretty cool Sheboygan event, and had a pretty good time. Who knew walking (not marching!) in a parade and building and racing cardboard (and polystyrene) boats could be that much fun!

Happy Fourth of July!

4th of July - Part III

Monday the 3rd was probably the most relaxing day of the long weekend. Nicole was back to Wisconsin from CMU for the long weekend, and invited me up/over to Fond du Lac to hang out. I've learned to never pass up an invite to the VC Lake House - it's bound to be a good time. We spent most of the day on the water. We took the boat up towards Oshkosh to a sandbar they had found, and hung out there for a couple hours - playing a little frisbee in the water, getting some sun, and having some fun with "O." It was great seeing a 2 year old tubing, and loving it! Nicole and Marge got a chance to show off a little while waterskiing too. Later in the evening we just hung out around the campfire for awhile, watching all the fireworks displays along the lakeshore - some close by, and others all the way across the lake. Mark and Peter started setting some fireworks off, but eventually the neighbors took over, with their crazy, multiple person crew, method for setting off a ton at a time. It was definitely a good show - especially for not having to fight crowds or traffic, or get their 3 hours beforehand to get a good spot! (The fireworks weren't quite that big, but i thought the picture was pretty good!)

4th of July Weekend - Part II

Sunday was a relaxing day with the family, including Grandma, of bumming around Madison. We went out to The Original Pancake House (have to give a chain restaurant a plug here!) and had some great chocolate chip pancakes, before we went downtown to check out the Monona Terrace, the Square, a little farmers market, and the CowParade art project. This is a pretty cool "public art event" which has traveled the country, but is personalized each year for the community hosting it. This year the cows (fiberglass, painted cows - but they have horns, doesn't that make them bulls?), are on display throughout Madison and a couple surrounding communities, and will later be sold with all proceeds being donated to a local charity - this time the new Children's Hospital being built in Madison. Check out to see the cows and get some more info on a cool project! We also took a drive through campus, which made me miss being there once again. Overall it was a really relaxing day full of a lot of sun - both of which I needed!

4th of July Weekend - Part I

First off, a birthday wish. Happy Birthday America! 230 Years and still looking good!

It's fabulous that on our country's birthday, we get a 4 day weekend. Mine was great!

Saturday started off with a trip to Madison with Grandma. The plan was to bring her down so she could see Rhythm and Booms at Warner Park. Saturday afternoon, Kyle called, offering us tickets to the Mallards ( game. Not just any tickets. Tickets to the "Home Plate Suite!" That meant chairs (comfy ones) on a bar in a little deck like thing right behind home plate. It also meant all (and anything) you can eat/drink all night long - with our own waitress in the suite. It was a pretty sweet deal. After the game, the field was opened up for blankets and fireworks watching, so everything was looking good.

I saw my first proposal (well, not for me, but first that I saw of the weekend) at the ceremonial first pitch. You know the deal, girl somehow gets talked into being the one to throw the pitch. She's not really paying attention to the catcher - who cares who he is. Throws the ball, catcher then comes running in, throws off his mask, drops down on his knee and proposes. She seemed sincerely surprised, and it was pretty cute.

Matt and I got some good brother/sister bonding in during the game, and had a great time despite the Mallards losing (and blowing a no-hitter in the 6th inning). With about 2 hours between the end of the game, and the scheduled start of the fireworks, the Mallards hosted a massive kickball game for the kids in the stands (I didn't qualify), which was some great entertainment. About 45 minutes before fireworks launch, the PA announcer came on, and broke the news that the Rhythm and Booms was being postponed until the next night due to storms rolling in. Of course, a few raindrops fell as the "storm" that wasn't really a storm passed over Madison. The biggest bummer was that I couldn't stay to see the fireworks the next night. It was the first time in several years that I missed Madison's biggest 4th of July festival, but I'll definitely be there next year!