Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Version of Hawkey

In 2010 when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup I promised myself that the next time they won I would learn to play hockey.  I'm think I also promised myself a pair of in-line skates.

So, in 2013 when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup again I immediately said I would have to learn to play the game.

I'm here to tell you now that it is not a cheap game to play.  With everything else going on in my life I just don't have the time or money to do this.

I started looking around to see how we could play hockey without actually learning to skate and all the other expense.  I hit upon Knee Hockey, and I still want to set some things up so we can play that.  It will be a good indoor activity in the winter.

In the meantime I came up with something based on some web searches I did.  I took the lid of a cardboard box and a plastic coathanger.  I marked lines on the lid, cut goal holes and cut down the hanger into sticks.

Using a quarter or nickel works great.  We haven't decided which one we prefer.

We start by placing the coin in the center and tapping sticks three times.  There are few rules:

  1. If a play knocks the coin out of play the other player gets a penalty shot from the redline (open goal).
  2. If a player plays the coin when it is behind the other player's blue line that player gets a penalty shot.
  3. No fingers
  4. Play nice.
It has been loads of fun.  I think it is actually more fun than air hockey because there seems to be less random whacking at the puck, and the bluelines add more hockey-ness to it.

My only regret is that it is only for two players.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Welcome Home

Birthday girl and
the luckiest man
Last Monday was my beautiful bride's birthday.  She is celebrating 29 again (not sure why that year in particular).

One of the reasons I didn't post this sooner was because she keeps asking the impossible for her birthday present.  At first she asked for world peace, and then she changed it to clean the basement.  I asked her to reconsider world peace.

Anyway I've been working like crazy to get the basement clean, plus our eldest is home from Boston (got home last night) so we've both been cleaning the house and getting it ready for an additional mess maker (just kidding Teeny).  Actually we wanted to clean out that spare bedroom so she would think we wanted her home.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Not on safari, near my lab
in Morogoro
I want to thank my Mom for making it possible for me to be with you here today.

Happy birthday also to my "Birthday Buddy" Charlotte.

What did I get for my birthday?  Well, I'm considering the safari I went on while in Tanzania as my present for this and many years to come.

Enjoy our day!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Kαλό μήνα, Time to Write a Novel

I'm going to try to keep working on my other goals AND write a novel entirely in the month of November.  I started today.  I have to be done at the end of the month.

Wish me luck.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Oxi Day!

Today is Oxi Day.  It is the anniversary of the day in 1940 when the Greek Prime Minister told the Italian Ambassador that they would not surrender (oxi means no) and allow Italy to occupy Greece.

It was gutsy and defiant.  The Greeks were not the powerhouse the Italians were at the time.  What ended up happening was Greece fought the best they could and eventually Hitler had to send in German troops to help the Italians.  Greece was eventually conquered, but it was long and very costly for both the Axis countries.  Some even credit it with delaying the German invasion of the Soviet Union until so late in the year that they ended up fighting in winter and losing badly.

You may see it spelled "Ohi" or "Ochi" but I don't like either of those.  The Greek letter x is pronounced like you're trying to pronounce H while clearing your throat.  I would say the closest way to spell it in English is oh-khee.

If you see this before you see any of my in-laws, my kids or any Greek person you know, remember to wish them Happy Oxi Day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Back and Eating Pizza

I'm back from Tanzania, and I'm eating pizza.  It was one of the things (not people) I missed the most.  I actually got back Thursday, but we've been pretty busy.

I'm going to have to get with a lot of people and share my stories.  I'll be putting a slide show together too.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Special Report #2

I went for a walk yesterday, up the hill a bit.  After a couple of hours I got to the headquarters of the Uluguru Nature Reserves.  It was locked because it's the weekend, but I got some really nice views.  I don't know if I'll be able to make a connection here and actually go on a full hike up to the top of the mountain (they say it's an eight hour round trip hike), but at least I got up to the gate.

Everybody at home is doing okay.  I talked to them yesterday and earlier today.  They went on a campus visit to UIC and liked the place.  They must have changed the place a lot since I went there for several painful trimesters.

I'm still working on my Swahili.  I am making very slow progress, and sometimes I accidentally throw in some Greek.  It is kind of too bad that I probably won't get to use it again.

My other personal goals are Quarterly Dates, New Job and Gold Award for the BSA district for which I'm the District Commissioner.

Working on my new job, well, I'm looking into applying to an on-line grad school.  We'll see how we swing that.  I'm thinking of something that could translate into work use.

I've tried to get in touch with the Tanzania Scout Association (TSA) with no success so far.  I have been in communication with the Scouts back home and trying to do what I can to help them get along without me.

My computer broke down and my internet connection is non-existent during the work day.  It's been a bit of a struggle, but I can Skype which is a great comfort, being able to see my lovelies at home.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Special Report #1

Everybody is doing okay.  I talked to them yesterday.  I am in Tanzania right now for a while.

I'm now working on my Swahili.  I don't know if it is working better or worse than Greek, but I am certainly immersed.  I'm in a town called Morogoro (you can look it up on Google Maps).  I've included a pic of the mountains nearby.

My other personal goals are Quarterly Dates, New Job and Gold Award for the BSA district for which I'm the District Commissioner.

We are absolutely determined to have a very serious date when I get back.  I'm looking forward to that.

Working on my new job is on hold for the time being.

I'm going to try to get in touch with the Scouts here in Tanzania.  They are coed and called the Tanzanian Scout Association.

My internet connectivity has been building up and I am getting in a better rhythm.  I hope to be able to make more regular posts.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Report from Mundelein for the Week of 18-24 Aug 13

I have a lot to report this week, but no pictures.

Evee was selected captain of JV Volleyball team.  I'm hoping she will grow into the leadership role.

Sophie tried out for Volleyball and didn't make it.  Personally I don't believe in cuts at all in grade school.  What is the point of sports?  Is it to win?  That seems worse than shallow and pointless.  The point of entry level sports should be to teach sportsmanship, teamwork, healthy physical activity, responsibility and leadership.  The sports should be the fun vehicle to teach that.  How can you possibly teach it if you cut kids who are really trying.  If they are goofing off or are disruptive, then I can understand, but not based on skill level at this point.  I think when you cut at this level you are only teaching the kids that they aren't worth teaching.

Teeny is home again.  She was in Montana for a week, but she's home now, preparing to return to school.

I rode my bike to work twice last week.  For the past several weeks I've only managed to ride to work one day each week.  I'm working my way back up to three bike commutes a week.  I want to average that.  I have about 40 bike commutes this year, and I won't make 75, which I consider my standard goal.  The first year I had only 33, then 76, then about 50 last year.  I should make 50 again this year, even with my trip to Tanzania.

I'm so proud of my lovely wife.  Maria attended a banquet this last week where she received a President's Award.  This is a very high honor (the "President" being the president of Abbvie).  She took a lady that worked on her team that did not receive the award, but who Maria thought should have.

I'm going to try to learn some Swahili for my trip so my Greek lessons will take a back seat.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

End of Summer and a Goal Report

Summer ended this week for us in Mundelein.  School started for the middle school and high school on last Wednesday.

Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday we got new siding all around our house.  The new siding is vinyl and insulated.  Let's hope it helps with those bills.

I spent the day at my in-laws while they got new gutters installed.  It was nice.  I got fed pretty well.  I asked my mother-in-law to call me every day and talk Greek to me.  I don't know, but I think it might help.

My goal report is thus:

  1. Learn Greek - as I said, I spent the day with my in-laws and asked for daily calls.  I still need to work harder on it though.
  2. Gold JtE - we had our first Commissioner meeting on Tuesday.  We are closer than we were last year at this time.  It is still looking good.
  3. New Job - no change and NSTR (nothing significant to report)
  4. Quarterly Dates - we're making plans to take Teeny back to Boston and we are going to drive back alone, with a hotel stop in the middle.
I have no "official" writing goals this year, but what writing I'm working on and what I've done will be reported on Illini6.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Welcome Back - Grand Re-Opening

I've decided something.  I need to make Illini6 my "Professional" blog.  I need to make that a website I can point strangers to and show off my writing work.  That needs to be the showcase of my writing brand with stories, essays, world building, and excerpt of finished works.  I will put professional goals and plans up there, but not personal ones.

I'm going to be using this blog more extensively and focused on personal as well as family matters.  Obviously I don't have to regurgitate things that are already on the web through facebook etc. but I can put goals, feelings, family events and such.

One thing I won't be doing here is using the flower code names anymore.  That was too cumbersome and kept me from posting more.  I'll be using first names and initials to keep the full and real names off the web as much as I can.

As part of re-opening I'm going to restate my personal goals here (I'll be tracking them here from now on).

By the end of the year I will:

  1. Learn Greek - be able to hold a conversation in Greek
  2. Guide the Aptakisic District Commissioner staff in achieving a Gold level on the Journey to Excellence program
  3. Get a New Job
  4. Go on Quarterly Dates
Also, not related to goals, I am going to be going to Tanzania as a volunteer mentor from work.  I'm going to hold off on some of the details for now, but I will be helping the technicians in a regional blood diagnostics lab to learn to use the computer.

Christina just successfully completed LTC for ROTC and we are very proud of her.  I'm sure most of you have seen her pictures on her facebook page / wall / thingie.