Plymouth Visit

Mayflower II, a replica of the original Mayflower.

Earlier this month, my wife and I were in Boston and decided to make a day trip to Cape Cod.  Along the way we stopped by Plymouth, Massachusetts, where we found the Plymouth Rock which is the spot where the Pilgrims landed in the New World.  This place is especially interesting to me because I am a Descendant of one of the Pilgrims.  My grandfather was very interested in genealogy and assembled some great documentation of that fact, along with the whole family tree.

Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock, partially obscured by a shadow

As for The Rock itself, it was not as large as I would have thought.  There was a monument surrounding the rock, which was erected in 1920 to commemorate the 300th anniversary.  We wondered for a moment what might be planned in a few years for the 400th anniversary.

The Mayflower II, pictured above, is a replica of the actual Mayflower ship.  We did not board the ship for a tour, as it didn’t really seem worth the money.

I really enjoyed the visit to Plymouth.  If you are interested in history, this small town is rich with it.


Technology Easing Our Family Crisis

Last week my father suffered a mild heart attack.  During the process of diagnosing the heart attack, a CT scan revealed a significant mass in his lung.  To make a long story short, this heart attack probably saved his life.

As we have been dealing with this crisis, we have had the need to communicate with our sister in Colorado as well as extended family members.  During this process it occurred to me how much our everyday mobile technology and social media has made that task so much easier.  Also, it has helped us cope with long waits by providing entertainment options (e.g. music, games and media) and access to the outside world.

In this photo you see what I am talking about.  My brothers and Mom are enjoying a game of Monopoly on an iPad, and my brother is using SMS on his iPhone to continuously communicate with our sister.

Andy, Charley and Mom playing Monopoly on iPad


Social media has also been a huge help on a few levels.  First, posting updates on Facebook has allowed me to update my broader network on what’s happening with Dad.  It has also invoked a virtual prayer chain in support of my family during this crisis.  I was able to read to Dad many names of people sending well wishes.  I got the feeling he appreciated the thought.

Coping with this whole ordeal would have been much more difficult without these tools.  Thank God we have them!

My Favorite Baseball Moment

Matt and I – TwinsFest 2010

My cousin Matt and I had a shared love of baseball growing up.  I was the city boy with a backyard and a fence, and Matt lived on the farm with a huge open field with barns and dogs.  I always enjoyed visits to the farm during the summer where we could play baseball.  We often improvised games that included his dog Freckles as our center fielder.  Freckles was an outstanding fielder.  We were also big Twins fans, and would share many games with our Grandpa on TV on his porch.

As we grew older, the love of baseball never waivered.  Matt was an accomplished high school player, to be sure.  We ended up at college together at Winona State University and we shared many memories — many I am sure neither of us would want documented.
One particular memory, though, was my most cherished baseball memory.  As lifetime Twins fans we had never seen the Twins in the playoffs, never mind the World Series.  It was October 1987 — Game 7 of the World Series — and Matt and I were together at his house on Main Street in Winona.
I will never forget the last out.  A ground ball fielded by Gaetti, over to Hrbek for the final out.  We embraced and jumped around like little kids.  It was like we were back at the farm dreaming about a Twins World Series win.
It was great because I got to share it with Matt.  I’ll never forget it.

More Baseball From Dad

Here’s another story from Dad from the mid 1950’s:

Another story was when we were playing Cannon Falls at Cannon Falls.  They didn’t have grass on the infield and the field was actually on hard, dry clay.  Our pitcher had three speeds.  Slow, slower and slower yet. We had just gotten new uniforms and we were pretty cocky.  Cannon Falls had a first baseman that was about 6’5″ and 250 pounds.  He was a farm kid wearing bib overalls.  I was playing third base.  He teed off on a slower yet fastball and hit me right in the chest.  Knocked me back about 5 feet.  I managed to
finish the game but I was really sore.

Dad’s Baseball Stories: #1

My dad and I have been having fun sharing stories from our experiences with baseball.  Last September we got the opportunity to share a Twins game at Target Field, and as a result this conversation started. 

My Dad and I at Target Field

Now, Dad is starting to write these stories down, which will be a lot of fun in the weeks and months to come.

The following account came from my Dad, from the mid to late 1950’s.  I have heard many of his stories over the years, but I have not heard this one.

I was playing town team baseball for the Northfield
.  Our motto was “Once a king always a king and once a night is enough”.  We were playing the Miesville Mudhens at Miesville. 

Miesville circa 2008

They didn’t have a fence around the outfield, only a drainage ditch.  The Miesville batter hit one into deep right field.  Our right fielder at that time was Larry.  He went wayyyy back after the high fly and ended up in the ditch that happened to be full of cow manure.  Needless to say he was not a happy camper.  There was no running water at the field so he stunk up the place for the rest of the game.

Meet Sadie, Our Newest Family Member

Jacob and Sadie - January 26th, 2011

After losing our dear Margo on Monday, I think all of us were looking for something positive to break out of our funk.  So, Tuesday night we adopted a new kitty named Sadie to fill that void.  Sadie is a five-month old Calico who we adopted at the Steele County Humane Society.

Our existing cat, Lilly, is starting to accept Sadie.  Most of the first week included a lot of hissing and growling, but the cats are getting along.  The humans in the home are also getting used to a new kitten in the house.  Sadie has some new moves and a lot of energy.

My favorite part so far is how Sadie comes to greet me when I come home from work.  She really wants to be picked up and upon doing that immediately starts to purr.

All in all, Sadie’s arrival was a big bright spot in a week that started out so sadly.  Welcome home, Sadie!

Have We Inspired A Future Engineer?

1/29/2011 - Shannon Park Lego League Showcase @ RMS

Yesterday, I had the privilege of hosting the Shannon Park Lego League Showcase at Rosemount Middle School.  The event was rescheduled from last December, due to a snowstorm.  I am glad we had the opportunity to have the event, even with the long delay.  Our attendance was down a little bit, but for those who made it, a good time was had.

I have been at this for three seasons now, as you can see in my blog site.  It started from some inspiration from Dr. Dean Kamen in the spring of 2008, and today my focus changes to getting a competitive team organized next fall (assuming my son Jacob is still interested).  My thought process in 2008 was trying to build an equivalent of an in-house program, which in theory is designed to reach a broad audience to start, then move to a more focused and competition-ready program (akin to traveling sports) once the foundation is in place.

After leaving the event yesterday, I believe the foundation is there at Shannon Park Elementary.  It is now up to someone else to pick it up and move it forward.  I am ready to start phase two, as described above.

The big question, which will remain unanswered for some time, is “By starting this program, did we inspire a young engineer of the future?”  I would like to think so, but only time will tell.  In my closing remarks to the Showcase attendees yesterday, I encouraged them to never stop asking the “What If?” question.  Maybe, just maybe, this effort will yield an innovation of the future that will improve our lives.

I took my shot on making a big play here.  We’ll have to wait and see if it was indeed a big play.  On to the next one!