Baseball and Dads: A Series Begins

The World Series starts this evening, and while I am still in mourning over my Twins not getting past the Yankees again, it is still an exciting time in the baseball season.  Also, last Friday was my grandpa’s birthday.  He passed away about five years ago, but he’s still very much alive in me, I believe.

There is much I could say about him, but this post focuses on the baseball stories he shared with me, because baseball was such an important part of his life.  His story, like so many others during that era of history, had a number of ups and downs, but baseball was a constant.

My grandfather was a pitcher from Armstrong, Iowa.  He shared many great baseball stories from his youth, including his claim of an unassisted triple play.  A tall tale, to be sure, but it was delightful to watch his share it with the twinkle in his eye that was uniquely his.  He was coming up through high school just prior to the Great Depression and at one time, as I understand, had a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Iowa.  Tragically, the Depression took hold and the scholarship was revoked.

My grandpa, circa 1940

Fast forward a few years, and baseball helped him find work during those really tough times.  He shared a story about waiting in line outside the John Deere plant in Waterloo, Iowa where a former opponent recognized him and immediately pulled him to the front of the line and he was able to get work, and pitch for the company team.  My dad once shared the story with me that Grandpa once threw three curveballs right by him while wearing his business suit.

I remember visiting Grandpa and Grandma in the 70’s during some pretty lean years for our Minnesota Twins.  Even though they struggled mightily during that era, it was a treat to sit with Grandpa and watch the ballgame on his porch in Northfield, Minnesota.  He always appreciated a pitcher who could perform his craft well, and he would often loudly laugh at the poor hitter when a pitcher snapped off a quality curve or a change-up.

In 1981, my cousin Matt and I visited Grandma and Grandpa in Florida.  We got off the plane in Orlando, and Grandpa took us directly to Tinker Field where we got to see the Twins at Sprint Training and meet Calvin Griffith, the Twins owner at the time.  Grandpa knew him through his connections resulting in many years of service in Northfield on the City Council and as mayor.

I recently got to spend a day at Target Field with my dad — I will share more about this later.  It was a great day, and it inspired me to start writing down these family stories to save for my son.  I am looking forward to getting this down on paper.

I miss you, Grandpa.

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Big Play: Raising Your Profile

I am not the kind of person that likes doing the same thing over and over again.  Add the expectation of a different result and then you define insanity.  Yes, I know, there are certain things we have to do repeatedly, like take out the trash.  I’m talking about the causes in life that really matter, like career, marriage and family.  As we evolve in these life journeys, there are times that some intelligent risk taking to move the cause forward with the intent of making for a better life for myself and others.  I had a situation a couple of weeks ago that I decided to try to raise the stakes a little bit.  Let me try to describe it a little bit.

 

Margo Relaxing in Her Favorite Spot

 

I was shopping at our local big-box pet store a couple of weeks ago.  En route to the register with sixty pounds of cat food on my shoulder, I ran into the principal of my son’s school, Shannon Park Elementary.  He has been a great supporter of my efforts to develop our Lego League program.  I decided to stop and ask him for some more support in my quest to transition the program leadership to someone else, so I could focus next year on building the competitive Lego League program.  He was quick to offer some great suggestions for ways to engage, and the best one was the idea to contact the local paper to do a story about what we accomplished.  Two emails the next day, and we got the interview scheduled.  This previous post talks more about the interview.

Here is the final story for the paper.  I am very proud of the coverage we got out of the experience, and I am hopeful by raising the profile of our program in Rosemount I can inspire more people to get involved to inspire science and technology pursuits with our children.

In this case, we will see if taking the initiative to raise the program’s profile will pay off for me to transition leadership of this program to the next person.  I have some more thoughts about profile raising — stay tuned for future posts.

Shannon Park Lego League In The News

Getting The Story For The Town Pages

Today we were visited by Nathan, the editor of the Rosemount Town Pages.  He visited the Shannon Park Lego League practice to see what is going on with our program.  We spent about 30 minutes together discussing the great things going on with our young inventors.  We saw a few demos from our 4th and 5th graders and their robots, plus a visit with the Groovy Skeletons team of 3rd graders.  I do not have information to share as to when this will be in the Town Pages, but I will post it when I get it.

Thanks to Mr. Guthrie, who facilitated the meeting.  This will be great exposure for our program in the community.

Clear: A Great Alternative to Cable Broadband

Last weekend I checked into my favorite electronics store to pick up some batteries for the upcoming Lego League season.  I encountered a salesperson from Clear (http://www.clear.com).  Usually, I try to avoid such conversations as I often know as much or more about their products and services, since it is my job to understand software technologies.

For some reason, this encounter was different.  I talked for a bit with the salesman and realized they have a great solution that is an improvement from the cable modem solution from Charter Communications, which has been my high-speed internet provider for nearly 10 years.

CLEAR Speed Test Results

Clear offers 4G service, which has no contract, no limits, no throttling and no wires and is extremely easy to setup.  The price was mostly the same as my cable modem, but the performance was the part I was most concerned about as I was contemplating the change.  I was told that I should expect 6 – 8 Mbps, with bursts up to 12 Mbps.  During my no-risk trial period of 10 days, I decided to see what I would get.  Over the course of this week I consistently got over 10 Mbps download speeds.  As late as this morning, I am still getting over 8 Mbps.  Pretty good.  I am sold.  This will be a solid solution for us.