The Honeymoon is over

When we returned from Akita, Mulligan was exhausted, and basically slept for two days.

When his puppy energy recharged, the mischief of his youth took over.

I won’t say that Annette and the girls failed to train Mulligan. The girls, as all kids do lost interest as the cute puppy continued to grow. Annette tried to train him and I helped when I thought I should.

Then one day it happened.

I was taking a nap on the couch when I suddenly heard a thunderous noise coming toward the living room. Netter was carrying Mulligan by the collar. Approaching the back door, Netter swung it open and heaved the dog toward the backyard.

Looking out the window, I could see that Mulligan was fine. In fact, he was romping through the yard, completely unaware of the magnitude of the situation.

Annette had had enough. The dog was incorrigible, she said. She couldn’t get him to do anything. He wouldn’t come when he was called. He wouldn’t listen to any commands. He whined and cried at the wind and any disturbance out our front window. He clawed at door-jams until they were damaged. He chewed the carpet. He was the “worst dog ever.”

Now, if you know my wife you know that she is not easily angered or frustrated. Netter is usually the picture of patience. She is simply not easily tested. This particular day, Annette was being tested, and she wasn’t faring well.

Alright Jim, I thought, it’s time to stop ducking the issue. It’s time to step-in.

I’m not the “dog whisperer” by any means, but I have had some success training dogs. I knew that Mulligan had one chance to remain with our family – so I gave it to him.

“Calm down, Honey,” I said. “I will take care of it.”

I grabbed a leash and headed for the yard. Mulligan and I were going shopping. Curious, Annette joined us for the trip.

I’m not a big fan of corporal punishment, or hurting animals for that matter, but I do believe that some means of getting a child’s or dog’s attention are better than others.

Mulligan had won himself a choke collar.

The cool thing about PetSmart is that you can take your animal shopping with you. The three of us walked into the store and I picked out a collar for what was now definitely “our dog.”

I took him home and assessed the situation.

It was readily apparent that Mulligan is a very smart dog, probably the smartest dog I have ever had. He knew darn well what he was doing or not doing and what he could get away with.

Using the collar and my “Dad voice,” it took only a few days to get his attention and begin to turn things around for all of us.

As we worked together, Mulligan and I would become very close.

In the process, in a manner of speaking – Mulligan would save me, or at least my sanity.

Cute only lasts so long

As Mulligan continued to grow the girls learned

that they could not carry him everywhere. This was a growing boy after all.

They still played with him though, and gave him all the attention that they possibly could.

The first test was coming.

A few weeks after Mulligan arrived we went on our annual family trip to Camp Akita. I cautioned the ladies that I was not going to be taking care of the dog. He was their responsibility. All assured me this was not a problem.

For the first day or so of the trip, there was no problem. Grandma was there to help, and the girls enjoyed walking the dog and playing with him in the fields.

On Saturday though, all the cousins arrived for the day and K & D couldn’t wait to spend all of their time catching up, playing, fishing, boating, and so on with my nieces and nephew.

As we all know – puppies can’t just be turned off at our convenience.

Netter stayed in the game though. She continued to care for the dog and made him a priority. I admired her perseverance, but I also felt badly for her. So, I tried to help out.

We walked our boy together, and took in the mystery of his youth as he enthusiastically explored the environment.

I gave the girls a pass. Annette and I did talk though about getting them back on task when we returned home. I explained again my reluctance to get close to the dog. I would help if needed I told her, but I really wanted them to “own” the dog. Annette reassured me again, telling me that she completely understood. She thanked me for helping, and also for spending some time at least getting to know Mulligan a little bit.

Upon our return home however, our, (I mean their) little boy was going to put everyone to the test.

Mulligan James (Our Puppy, part 2)

Once we had traversed our way down the farmer’s very steep hill, (I thought the car was going to flip over.) we made our way to the main highway and started trying to think of a good name for our new little guy.

As a hockey player I lobbied hard for “Puck.” That is, I argued until Annette said “Okay, you can go outside and say, ‘here Puck, here Puck. Come on Puck,’” in a voice that made me realize what that would sound like from a distance.

Okay, we are also a big golf family – Putter? No. Driver? No. How about Bogey? Maybe… Netter looked at me with a big grin on her face and said: “How about Mulligan?”

“Mulligan James,” I said. After all, even if he wasn’t my dog he would, in a manner of speaking, be like a son so I had to name him after me right? I mean, we aren’t having any more children so why not? (Dogs need middle names so that when you yell at them they get the sense that things are different, and they should pay more attention.) We said it was tentative, but in reality we had just given our boy, I mean their boy, his name.

Excited to share our puppy joy we called Grandma and Grandpa who also have a Springer and told them we were on our way for a visit.

Mom and Dad’s dog is part of the reason I gave in. CK really impressed me with his demeanor and behavior. He was sweet with the kids at the time and obviously very loyal.

We took Mulligan over to meet CK, Grandma and Grandpa. Our boy was a big hit.

Grandma loves Mulligan and still spoils him so much that he now jumps at the mere mention of her name, eagerly looking for a treat.

But then Mulligan was a hit everywhere we took him. Annette brought him to Kailey’s softball games and the girls fawned over him.

Our girls carried him everywhere, up and down the stairs, down to the basement to watch movies – everywhere. They pampered him like a king.

They carried him so much that one friend even asked me if my girls knew Mulligan could walk.

I was just happy they were following through on their promise and I was still trying to keep my distance from this all too adorable, endearing puppy dog.

Our Puppy

I didn't want him. No way, no how, Nope!

Returning from a golf trip with some friends in spring 2005 I met my family at a local restaurant where they were attending a family gathering. Quietly my wife handed me a copy of The Daily Jeffersonian, the newspaper in Cambridge, Ohio her Dad's hometown.

"Look what my Dad found in the paper," Netter said.

An ad was circled for Springer Spaniel puppies for $75.00.

I handed the paper back with this simple reply - "No."

I didn't want a dog. We'd just lost Coe Marie, the first dog we'd had as a family, and the last of three dogs and a cat that we had shared our lives with. Losing Coe was particularly difficult and I didn't want to deal with that heartache ever again.

My three lovely ladies looked at me with sad, but expectant eyes.

"No," I repeated.

Two days later we went to dinner. Netter again brought the newspaper along. The girls all promised me emphatically, "You won't have to do anything Daddy / Honey. We'll train him and walk him and take care of him..." As Netter was involved in this promise I started to re-think things a little.

"Okay," I said "call the guy and see if he has any left." Pure-bread Springers at that price - I figured I was pretty safe. There couldn't possibly be any left right?

Wrong! There was one male puppy left.

I never really liked boy dogs. We had a boy mutt when I was little. He once raised his leg on a neighbor – nice. He also bit me which is why we got rid of him. Plus, well, you can’t rub boy dogs’ bellies you know. It’s just awkward.

But this wasn’t my dog was it? “Okay,” I said “we’ll go take a look.”

The farm was in Newcomerstown at the top of the steepest hill I had ever driven up. You know how you feel in the rollercoaster on the way up the first hill? That was this driveway.

We went to the front of the farmhouse and knocked on the door. The man who answered the door asked us to wait a moment. After a few seconds had passed the door opened again, and the cutest puppy I had ever seen walked toward us, very close to his mother.

My ladies were all beside themselves. “Daddy he’s so cute! Please can we get him.”

I quizzed the man about the price. In short, he had rescued the mother from a neighbor who was abusing her. He couldn’t very well tell the neighbor he was taking the dog and ask for her registration papers, and he wasn’t really interested in the dog beyond saving her and giving her a good home. Every so often she had a litter and as he couldn’t provide documentation he sold them for a few dollars to cover the cost of feeding them and initial veterinary care.

This was fine. We had no intention of registering the dog. We only wanted him as a pet.

I paid the man, we made our way back to the car and started on the giant rollercoaster ride with our brand new puppy.

Learn & Play @CML Thing #13 Delicious

This is a story about a journey that ends and continues at Delicious.

Getting there was, well it is kind of ironic.

Finishing the Mac to PC migration I decided I wanted to have a "perfect set of Favorites" to have on all the computers I use.

My incredibly organized wife helped me pare down and organize the Favorites from each of our computers. We created folders for Finance, News, Sports, and so on with subcategories as well. We saved the file to each of our computers. Voila! Right?

Not so much... The very next week, I was searching for something at work and found a site I wanted to add to my favorites. Immediately it occurred to me that I was only adding it to my work profile and not the computers at home. Well darn it!

Of course with Delicious I wouldn't have had this problem. But wait, there's more.

Recently, my friend LibraryJoy suggested I give Firefox a try. Okay - why not?

I imported my favorites into Firefox and started digging around. Some of the features in Firefox allowed me to organize my Favorites, now Bookmarks even more.

But hmmm... how was I going to get this all back to work where changes to my Firefox browser wiped out everyday, (forcing the continued use of IE 7) and to Netter's computer where she still uses IE 7.

The answer is Delicious!

I signed up for an account and imported my bookmarks. Delicious is so intuitive that it saw all my "categories" as tags and BAM! (as Emeril would say) - I was done.

Well not done completely - I'm going to reorganize a few things, decide what to share and not share, you know in general poke around.

But in this Delicious bit of irony - I don't mind at all.

Everything should be so easy...

Sure you're in shape Jimmer

Today, the library is holding a wellness fair which reminds me that as this is the year of inventory for me I have spent some time thinking about my physical condition. I was going to say working on my physical condition, but well you'll see...

First a little back story.

In the summer of 2007, I began a series of regular visits to my doctor where I discovered some interesting things - I also re-discovered why I don't like going to the doctor.

After all, who can be thrilled about a visit that starts out thusly -

Nurse - "James Brocono#$$%^*w**($#@izzki."

Jimmer - "It's Bro-chow-ski."

Nurse - "Oh - that's easier than I thought." (Ya think?) "Okay, please step on the scale. I need to get your height and weight."

Jimmer - "Can you just write down short and fat?"

Nurse - "That's not how this works!" (Seriously reminded me of some nuns I had in school.)

Okay so I backed off at this point. My joke didn't go over well, and my last name is often butchered. What can you do?

As the appointment progressed I found out I have high cholesterol, as in seriously high. I also found out my blood pressure is in the high range, I had a separated shoulder, (hockey injury), and doctors in general have no tolerance for bad habits of any kind. (People at work read this blog. I don't want to risk any misinterpretations so you're gonna have to use your imagination about my bad habits.) In general, I needed to get in better shape.

Now, any parent knows finding time to exercise is a delusional endeavor. Still, I've tried to walk more, we bought an elliptical machine, (amazingly decorative piece), and I have tried to watch what I eat, and cut down on the aforementioned bad habits.

I found out Sunday that I still have some serious work to do.

As a result of last week's storm one of Netter's co-workers had a tree knocked over and offered the resulting firewood to us.

The girls and one of their friends were very helpful with loading the truck and carrying the wood to the backyard to be stacked. Actually stacking the wood however was on me.

Somehow I needed to turn this - - into something a little more organized.

The stacking commenced. Arranging, re-arranging, finding odd pieces, small pieces, big pieces. A push here, a tug there. Holy smokes this is a lot of work I thought as I collapsed in the middle of my backyard.

Now Netter was very helpful during the entire process. She handed me pieces of wood when I asked, and brought me something to drink, but even she couldn't help but look at me a little incredulously as I collapsed from stacking this small load of wood. Or, maybe I just felt she was staring because it all seemed ridiculous to me.

Somehow, I'm not really sure how - I found my way back to my feet and finished the job. I then went inside and collapsed again in the middle of the living room floor as if I had just run a marathon. Holy Schneike!

Silly, I know. Obviously I still have some work to do in the "getting in shape department."

I'm pretty sure I'll be back on the ice next week. (The "list" is shrinking.) It also is probably time to let that elliptical do something more than collect dust.

The weather is still warm enough I can walk the dog more. Plenty of things I can do.

Wish me luck...

One of Those Days

Today is one of those days.

You know those days when every little thing bugs you and nothing is right.

Today for me.

I woke up this morning and immediately I felt it. It's one of those days. I thought about staying home, you know taking a "mental health day." Ultimately I couldn't do it.

For starters, I almost always succumb to that good ole Catholic guilt.

I also have to save my time for when my allergies act up, which hasn't happened much lately, (knock on wood) but always remains a possibility. So - have to save the time.

Still - one of those days.

It's a good thing that I did come in. We have two staff members heading to the doctor as I type. I hope they're okay. Makes me realize that my problems aren't really such a big deal, and I should just see the day for what it is and move on.

Okay, but still - one of those days.

Not significantly different from yesterday really. Though yesterday was the official last day of Summer the weather is essentially the same. Wonder what it is?

I honestly don't know, but I do know that I'm just not feelin' it today. All I want to do is make it through to 5:30 and find my way home and to bed. Tomorrow has to better.


I have a whole slew of things I "should" do when I get home tonight. Honestly, I don't see that happening. I've been really pushing myself lately trying to get things done, work through the list, and move on to something new.

I've given myself a deadline of sorts in that I'm not playing hockey until "the list," is under control. (In truth it’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the picture.) I love playing, but essentially hockey takes two full days out of my schedule. I needed to take the break and catch up.

I do miss the game and my teammates. I'm almost where I need to be to be able to make the commitment to the team and the game. I'm just that close, but not yet.

And not today.

Tell me about your day...

Nature in a Bottle - Flashback piece 1

Finishing up the last of the Mac to PC migration (again, it's cheaper) I am finding some old files I had forgotten existed. Some are pieces I'd written in "the way back" that I would have shared then given this forum.

I hope you like them.

As part of a newsletter project for staff at the Hilltop Branch we were asked each month to answer some thought-provoking question.

My favorite follows -

If you could bottle something in nature to sell or enjoy at a later time, what would you choose and why?

Early in the morning at the golf course, usually on the first long par 5 and particularly on courses which are more natural than man-made, i.e. wetlands have been preserved, animals are still in abundance, there is a fine mist that gives me an incredibly peaceful feeling. I’m playing my favorite game. I’m out in nature. I’m enjoying the company of friends and companions. It’s hard to explain it briefly but trust me it’s awe-inspiring. To get a sense for it, go outside some morning early in your barefeet (when it’s warmer), walk in the dew-covered grass, take big gulpfuls of air and try and think of something or do something you really enjoy (like drinking a fresh cup of coffee). Try and take notice of everything outside - the sky, the clouds, the birds, the ants on your driveway. Now look up. Way up. Get it?


Learn & Play @ CML Thing #12 Twitter

Let me begin with full disclosure - I <3 Twitter.

Twitter is an ongoing conversation within a community. It's a way to follow along with what your friends and colleagues are doing, and sometimes how they are doing. For example, during the past few days many of my friends were without power. When they could find access to a computer they would post an update on their status. For example – Day 3 no power, no hot water, might have to take the neighbor up on that offer to borrow theirs. Coffee a must!

CML used Twitter during the last few days to post updates about branch closings and emergency phone numbers. In fact, the information was on Twitter before it was on CMLsi.

The Learn & Play program also uses Twitter.

Who knew 140 characters could be so useful? By answering one simple question “what are you doing?” a whole community can connect.

There are a whole slew of add-ons for Twitter. At home I use Twitterfox.

I found many more here.

I also have Twitter connected to my cell phone. I wasn’t sure how this would work at first. I contacted Verizon to be sure Twitter texts would not add costs beyond my unlimited texting plan. They do not, but y.m.m.v so check with your carrier and be sure you get documentation. It caught me by surprise when the Verizon rep. asked: “What’s Twitter?” so I asked her to please look it up and send me the information so I would have it in writing.

Actually connecting Twitter to my cell phone was very easy. The step by step instructions were spot on.

There was one thing I didn’t count on. Initially I set up my cell phone to receive all updates from everyone I follow on Twitter. The next time I turned my phone on I was just a tad alarmed when it vibrated for 10 minutes downloading many messages.

My phone survived and I was a little more careful in revising my settings.

I do still get many updates. I just like to be part of the conversation.

Follow me on Twitter.

Learn & Play @ CML Thing #11 Library Thing

Library Thing could become one of those things, that finds its way onto my list of things to do. The thing is I really like to organize my things, and keep things in order. Some might say I have an O.C.D. thing. Alright that's enough with the things.

To be a little more serious, - when I first heard about Library Thing, I was skeptical about its application for my purposes. While there was a time when I read quite a bit, I just don't much anymore. In fact, I just told a colleague today that the book I read during the power outage on Sunday was maybe my third of the year.

Still, everyone talks about Library Thing quite a bit so I thought I should at least check it out and get a feel for it so I could provide a hands-on recommendation and / or review where necessary. I do work in a library after all and "library things" sometimes tend to come up.

Day 1 - I signed up for an account, added a book, poked around a bit and came away confused for some reason. Is this supposed to be books that I've read or books that I want to read or what?

Day 2 - My wife informed me that she had tried Library Thing as a possible replacement or supplement to the database she already keeps of all the books that she has read. Netter said Library Thing is a great tool, but it cut her off at 200 titles, (the free account allotment) although she was only in the "C's" on her list. Since Netter already has her own database she didn't want to spend the money to go beyond 200.

Netter also took the time to explain Library Thing clearly for Jimmer's addled mind and off I went to check it out again. So...

Day 3 - I began by adding my favorite books, and the books I read most recently. Then I started tagging them noting that there was a theme of sorts in my reading. Okay - this might be useful after all I thought. In fact this could become pretty addicting, one of those all encompassing Jimmer projects. Uh-Oh!

So, I sent Netter an email asking if maybe she wanted to pay for an account for both of us to use. (See then it’s not just Jimmer’s project.) She said she was happy with her database adding "Plus the Library Thing doesn't let you put in the date of when you read it - which helps me remember details if I can sort by date and see what else I read around that same time." There’s probably a work-around for this like the comments field, (unless you’re using it for comments) but if you already have a database built I understand your standards becoming a little higher.

I don't know where I'll go from here with Library Thing. I know it would be a great tool for organizing my books on coaching for example, or the many books I seem to read about life lessons. Well maybe not that many – at 3 per year, it will take a long time to get to 200.

If you want to check it out - this is Jimmer's Library Thing.

Library Thing has found its way onto my project list. Whether it is the short list of things or the long list of things has yet to be determined.

Jimmer's Tattoo

Thank you to everyone who voted in my tattoo poll. Since the winning answer is, "Well, what kinda tattoo?" - I thought I'd tell you. (You knew I would.)

Of course there's a story, but you knew that too, eh?

When I was a sophomore in high school my family moved to Central Ohio and I began attending Bishop Ready (aka - Ready) High School. It was a tight-knit school and I felt very much like an outsider at first.

I was fortunate enough to find a new friend who had attended St. Stephen the Martyr school before attending Ready. By observing my friend, his family and others at Ready I learned that St. Stephen was, and still is, a tight community with very loyal parishioners. I didn't realize how loyal until I was in the locker room before baseball practice in the Spring of 1984.

I was getting dressed trying, as most boys do in the locker room, to look down, avert my eyes, avoid attention, etc.... when I noticed a senior who had a tattoo on his calf. It was a panther and it was very, very cool. I really wanted to know about that tattoo, but I mean this was a senior right? And he was huge! In eighth grade I had towered over everybody at my massive height of 5' 7." But by my sophomore year I was quickly becoming the short fella you all know now. (Okay round and short these days, but you get the picture.) Still, I had to know.

I summoned all my courage, looked up, and said, "Um, excuse me Jeff, but that is a really cool tattoo." I followed that with something like, "Um, tell me about it," or "where did you get it?" Jeff seemed to turn around really slowly and he just sort of scowled at me. I was scared to death. All of a sudden Jeff broke into a big grin and said, "that's my St. Stephen's Panther. Do you like it?" You could see that he was so proud of the fact that not only was it a cool tattoo, but that it showed his loyalty to St. Stephen. I quickly repeated my admiration for the tattoo and Jeff left the locker room. I stood in awe and thanked God the hulking senior not only didn't kill me, but actually took the time to talk to me and share his tattoo. I almost felt welcome. (I don't think I ever really did fit in at Ready, but that's another story for another day.)

I knew then and there that I wanted a tattoo. I wanted it to be on my calf, and it had to stand for something unique, something pretty darned important.

That was almost 25 years ago. I just haven't been able to find anything that was "that important." Or as Netter said to me, "I think you should have a tattoo, but it has to be perfect."

What could make better sense? It has to be perfect. So, what could be perfect?

I've been trying to figure that out for 25 years.

Let's see - My parish? I've lived in too many to count. My school? I've attended 9 or 10. How about an "M?" I grew up a Michigan fan. Um, I graduated from Ohio State, and the truth is I'm probably more a Buckeye now than ever. Okay so then a block "O?" Yeah, me and a million other people. Something to do with The MJB Foundation, a shooting star perhaps? Well, that is a good idea, but while I am devoted to the foundation and Meghan Joy's legacy I don't want my daughters to feel I put one of them before the other. Wait, maybe I'm onto something there. Hmmm... Hold that thought.

There is also one place I've always identified with - "The D" - as in Detroit, Michigan. I was born in Michigan and lived there for most of my younger life. At one time we lived 10 minutes or so from The Olympia where the Red Wings played before there ever was a Joe Louis Arena. I've rooted for the Wings, and the Tigers, and the Lions, (well mostly the Lions, but come on - they're the Lions) and yes, even the Pistons for as long as I can remember. If people ask me where I'm from, I tell them I'm from "the D."

So, I thought about it and I decided I wanted an Olde English D like the one the Tigers wear on their hats. But, Netter pointed out that while it is a unique looking D, it is also the first letter of my youngest daughter's name. There would be a lot of explaining. "Jimmer, why do you only have a tattoo for D and not K or M?" As I said, I don't want my daughters to feel I put one of them before the other.

Alright, so then how about a Red Wings tattoo. I mean I'm pretty passionate about the Red Wings. You should hear me during a game. The kids run. The dog cowers. The neighbors close their windows. Netter - well Netter laughs at me, but you get the picture. Really though, the Winged Wheel in and of itself is not a unique tattoo.

So, how about incorporating something about the D with something about my girls? That's what I need to do. That's also where I'm stuck.

I'm hoping my nephew can help me with this. He's a tattoo artist by trade. I sent him a text this weekend: "Can you do a tattoo for me?"

His reply: "is this uncle jim?"

I guess I must have surprised him. I don't know that I've told many the entire tattoo story or that more than a few people knew that I want one. Still, I really, really do.

But it has to be perfect.

Kinda Windy eh?

This wasn't the planned post for today, but after yesterday's storm - who could talk about anything else?

In retrospect we were very lucky. Our power was out for seven hours. We did not have cable for a little longer than that. Our greatest emergency was that K's cell phone was dying and OMG what would she do if she couldn't charge it!?! Glancing at the roof of our garage, we may have to replace a few shingles. There are a couple pieces of siding I might have to bend back into place and reattach. Minor stuff.

We did have a nice dinner planned with our neighbors that we had to cancel. We're hopeful that with the way the schedule is working out today - we might be able to fit it in and maybe watch some Monday night football.

Since we couldn't make dinner at home yesterday we ventured out into the windy world. What we saw as we traveled to the restaurant was, in a word disturbing. In any storm there can be fallen limbs, maybe a little debris, normal stuff right - but I had never seen siding ripped from homes, roofing shingles literally gone from rooftops entirely, or a hole in a wall exposing an entire attic.

I was especially surprised at this scene.

I know there are all kinds of scientific explanations for this, a weaker root system because it is by that driveway, etc... But seriously, this is Central Ohio. This tree is uprooted entirely. You don't expect to see things like this here. As a rule we have two seasons, slush and road repair.

A friend who lives in the Carolinas visited us at Christmas. He asked us how we lived without the sun for so long during the winter. He said it's always gray. Until yesterday I was thinking yeah, but it's never extreme. Yesterday was extreme.

For us...

In my WOW moment I cannot forget about the people that had to deal with the full force of Hurricane Ike. They didn't just lose trees, aluminum siding or shingles. In many cases they lost their homes, their livelihoods, all that they owned.

I didn't follow the storm as it happened because I have a hard time watching something so destructive, especially after Hurricane Katrina and the devastation in New Orleans. Yesterday was a big reminder for me and for us all, that there are bigger things in life sometimes.

As I powered up my computer and turned on my television yesterday evening I took a minute to look around. My wife was with me. My daughters were tucked safely in their beds. My crazy dog was finally calming down. All was peaceful and well.

I just kinda looked up and said, "thanks."

Learn & Play @ CML Thing#10 Image Generators

While this is a post for CML's Learn&Play, I guarantee non CML folk will want to see this. That's right - of all the "generators" I played around with I just couldn't resist the Read poster. I've been trying to find something to do with this picture for more than 20 years. It's a good fit - don't you think. Generate your own here.

This whole exercise also reminded me of the last time I used an image generator, again some 20 years ago at King's Island that cost an arm and a leg.

I think it was worth it. What do you think?

Good times, good times...

I also spent some time on The Generator Blog. To me this would be a nice site to visit on a rainy day, after you had completed every chore, washed your hair twice, walked the dog six miles, and had absolutely nothing else to do. Don't misunderstand. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to do. It's just not my thing to do. Alright I admit it. I was very disappointed that the link to get my porn star name didn't work.

I did find one link there I had some fun with - an acronym creator, i.e. a handy tool to have when you need a technical explanation during the course of your customer service day - just kidding. I plugged in a few examples. Jimmer stands for Joint Interchangeable Micro-Mail Equipment Router. James stands for Journaling Array Modular Expansion Storage. My favorite though is created from the first initials of my family member's names Joined Architecture Known Mail Disk.

I spent a few minutes at Letter James, and I had already spent some time at FD Toys as part of the flickr exercise.

Whew - that was a lot of playing wasn't it?

Two Pieces of Chicken and a Pound of Rice

There's a lot going on this week. I "starred" in my first video. Brian's Bail Bonds Hockey started our season. (Sorry I wasn't there guys.) You may have heard there is a big game on this Saturday. Tomorrow marks the seventh anniversary of perhaps the most tragic event in history for all Americans.

And Jimmer is still plowing away at his to do list, trying to shut it all out and make sense of the big pile on his desk that has been there for what seems like an eternity. The list goes something like this.

1. Two years ago we started a migration from Mac to PC. (Hey, it's just cheaper.) I'm still trying to finish the Quicken conversion. (Quicken recommends against migrating data between platforms. I completely agree.)

2. The budget befuddlement - another post for another day.

3. The "projects." We all have 'em.

4. The resume'. Not going into a lot of detail in this forum at this time.

5. Finally, and perhaps most important - The MJB Foundation.

Yes, as summer turns to fall I am STILL trying to put a capper on the work I need to do for our foundation each year. Today, as a way of saving time I am combining blog posts with email, and web postings to get that project wrapped up.

This was a different year for the foundation. For the first time in 14 years we had significant rainfall for Golf for Joy. Our numbers swung wildly from 74 to 49 golfers, and I didn't play. No I didn't. I had the great good fortune of having my appendix out the Tuesday before the tournament. (The truth is I would have played, but my mother-in-law made the doctor tell me I couldn't. Shhh... Don't tell her I told you.)

Fortunately, in spite of all of that we still had a great time raising money for a good cause. The difference between last year and this was less than $200.

BUT - I think next year we can do even better. To that end, we are revamping, revising, and revisiting. Everything is up for discussion. And we need some help...

We are restructuring our board and adding members. I need two, maybe even three individuals who can help. We have some paperwork that needs to be done, a survey that needs to be designed, and some time that needs to be invested.

If you're interested in becoming a part of The MJB Foundation please let me know.

Two pieces of chicken and a pound of rice?

Might be today's lunch.

Our Doors Are Open To All

I worked today. I don't mind working Sundays during the football season. After a college football Saturday, I like having something that gets me going the Sunday after. But I digress.

I usually arrive on Sundays around 12:30. We get things setup, put out newspapers and make sure everything is ready for opening at 1:00. Today was no different. What is different about Sundays is that I am there to see our customers come in. (Usually, I arrive when they arrive. Mornings just aren't my thing.) Today, the customers came in droves. It's a beautiful fall day. The sun is shining. A light breeze is blowing and the temperature is 75 degrees. The library was packed. The customers couldn't wait to get in, and they did not want to leave when we closed 4 hours later, as if they had no place else to go.

This always makes me wonder what the story, or their stories are. I mean I love my library as much as the next guy, but on a day like this - if you ain't payin' me... I ain't going inside anywhere. I even sent a quick text to my daughters today. The message was pretty simple. "It is a nice day. Go outside."

So what made those customers come inside?

I'm sure some of the younger customers had homework, and maybe the older ones wanted to read the newspaper. For many the library is their only access to a computer. For many...

As one might surmise, the many are customers with little or no means, questionable hygiene, and even sometimes homeless.

But they are people.

I'm sure there are some shysters, people who are working the system as they say. They're not the people I wonder about.

I wonder about the kindly older gentleman who has been in the library every day that I have worked there, but has never asked me for more than the New York Times or a pair of scissors. What brings him in every day?

I wonder about the mother and daughter who spend each day in the library, - every day all day. What brings them in?

I wonder about the lady who used to come in and have conversations with herself, but now speaks quietly, deliberately, and not to herself. What's the story there?

The list could go on and on. There are some stories I know, but there are more that I don't.

The library does quite a bit to help us help our customers. We hold seminars on poverty, forums on mental health, all sorts of training in human interaction. These are all very important.

But - they don't help us learn the stories, and I sometimes wonder if knowing them would help us help our customers better.

In the increasingly uncertain economy, it is possible that many folks could find themselves on the other side of prosperity very quickly. They might need someplace to go, someplace to spend their time. A place where they could feel welcome, especially on a warm and sunny perfect fall day.

I'm glad I work in that place. Our Doors Are Open To All.

CML Learn & Play Things 8&9 All about RSS feeds

I've been using Google Reader for awhile now. It was a no brainer to find a way to use RSS feeds once I watched a Common Craft video on the topic and realized how much time it would save me. I follow several news and sports sites and more than a few blogs. To be really specific I have 32 subscriptions to date. They are divided into 8 categories. Being able to read them all in one place has halved the time it takes to keep up.

This exercise did make me clean up my reader and categorize things. I hadn't really taken the time to figure out how "all of it worked," as I can often be more of a play as you go, or play as needed individual. I'm glad I took the extra time. Google Reader has a discover feature that suggests feeds I may be interested in. I checked out a few of them, but haven't found any I'd like to add yet. I did take a look at Technorati just to check it out. It seemed like a lot to sort through. Although, it feels a little strange to have Google Reader suggesting things to me using my current feeds as guidelines I kinda like that it is there to feed my interests.

I have checked out some of the public Bloglines accounts being shared, but beyond that I think I'm going to stick with the one that brung me, at least for the time being. Google Reader also has a sharing feature. My shared items are available here.

One thing I really like about the reader is that I'm able to scroll through, look at headlines and see the first few lines of each item allowing me to decide from that content if I really need or want to read each article or blog.

One thing that I am not liking about the feeds thus far is that many sites, especially newspapers throw all their blogs together with only one feed. While some might want to read every columnist's blog from a certain paper in a certain state up north... that's not me. But I am forced to weed through them all if I want to keep up with the one or two blogs I like to follow. Aargh!

Also, like my fellow staff member I am not liking that RSS feeds are often very small and buried on the page. I think every site should have them laid out like this.

AND - I think every blog should be required to have a feed. That way I can just read it in my Google Reader - a very useful tool indeed.


It's been a surreal week in our house, our neighborhood, and our community this week. Kailey spent yesterday evening with friends grieving the loss of a young man who went to her high school. His death is a senseless tragedy.

K only knew Garrett peripherally. He is a junior. She is a sophomore. Still, K has friends who knew him well, and one in particular who worked with him and is having a difficult time as each day passes.

Papa Brochowski is thinking of you C.

I remember my own senior year. A classmate who I really didn't know either was killed in a tragic car accident - playing games with his friends. I tried to be there for my friends who knew Tim, follow their lead, and support them in their time of grief. I never thought I would have to tell my child to do the same.

I really shouldn't have had to. While both deaths have similarities - a prank gone awry, the fact of the matter is that there was no intent to injure Tim. It truly was an accident.

Such was not the case with Garrett.

I've read numerous accounts of the weekend's events. It seems Garrett was a good kid, well liked, respectful if not a little mischievous. In other words - a typical teenager.

I wrote the other day about "the ever evolving to vanilla, politically correct, don't step on my neighbors toes, don't talk to my child, etc... and so on world we live in these days," and a part of me wonders why that world didn't protect Garrett.

The truth is, that world didn't stand a chance. How do you protect a child from an idiot with a gun?

I'm not condoning what Garrett and his friends were doing and I think his mother said it best when she said she would much rather have picked him from jail.

This all goes without saying.

As a parent who has lost a child I pray for Garrett's parents - that they may find peace. While they will never find reason, I pray they find justice.

As Papa Brochowski, "Coach B," "Mr. B" and even as Daddy - I pray for the kids of our community.

Last night when we went to pick K up from the vigil I saw kids of all kinds - black, white, latino, -geeks, athletes, emos (I think that's the right term), and barbies.

Please join me in taking a moment to look up, around, pause, bow in a corner - whatever you do and pray that those kids will stay together for one another, that their community will be stronger and that they will grow and build relationships with bonds that are tighter than drums.

Pray that they will remember their friend and that the world will treat them better than the idiot with the gun treated Garrett.

flickr fun Learn and Play at CML - Thing #6

Another post for CML's Learn and Play program. No running of the mouth today - just playing catch up.
I spent some time playing around with flickr. I'm not much of a picture guy. This is Netter's department.
Still I can recognize a good product when I see it and flickr certainly fits the description. I can see where the photo creative types could just get lost in all that flickr has to offer.
I ran across a picture of an old shed, (I think it's a former Windows sample pic) that I think is really neat, (yes neat), and used jigsaw to turn it into a puzzle. Pretty cool eh?
Puzzles have always fascinated me. This might be because I'm not very good at putting them together. I lack the patience required for such an exercise. I will never forget a puzzle with a wagon full of pumpkins my Dad put together when I was a kid. It was all orange all the time it seemed. Still he patiently pieced the thing together and I was in awe. Sorry I knocked it off the table the next morning Dad. It really was an accident.
Getting back to flickr. The thing I like best about it is that I can use it for the slideshow on my blog to share pics with family and friends. It is a great product for creativity as well. Maybe not my gig, but definitely fun for those who are so inclined.

I'm Gonna

When I was a kid my parents called me "I'm gonna." It was usually for typical kid stuff, but they had a genuine concern that I was going to be "Mr. I'm gonna" for the rest of my life and that "I'm gonna do the dishes, mow the lawn, clean my room, the basement, the apples from the backyard, etc... and so on would turn into - "I'm gonna get my degree, get a job, get a better job, save money, get in shape and so on."

Needless to say that really bothered me - I mean that was never going to be me. I would always be at the top of my game, going for broke, making it happen.

Hahaha - well you know what they say -

So yep, Mom and Dad you win. I'm "Mr. I'm Gonna." Pleased to meet you.

This is not to say I haven't accomplished anything in my life. I have a wonderful family. I have a college degree. I have a good job. But there's a lot I don't have. A lot I haven't done. A lot I feel like I'm still gonna do.

I'm due to reach a milestone in the age department this year so I'm taking a lot of inventory.

Recently we were on vacation and I said something to the effect of "...there is nothing like a time for reflection, a time to take stock, and I have so many things running around in my head and ideas for when we get back it's actually kind of scary."

But now we're back and everything seems the same. You see I was gonna, but then well I didn't.

Some changes come easier than others I know. I don't know that I'm discouraged. I am laughing at myself.

"Mr. I'm Gonna" all over again.