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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

When I was a kid in the 70s, we played kick the can.

Almost every night during summer, when the sun went down, kids in the neighborhood gathered in a back yard with the Folgers or Maxwell House coffee can — or a Well’s Blue Bunny ice cream bucket (gallon-sized) — for an hour or two of hiding and kicking and getting grass stains on our knees. Lots of debate on who was or wasn’t adhering to the rules would ensue. And honestly, I can’t even remember the rules. It didn’t matter then or now.

My kids never experienced the thrill of rushing into a wide open space and sliding into or kicking a can so they wouldn’t have to be “it.” Technology usurped those summer evening back yard games.

I marvel in both admiration and horror as my son now sits and spends his evening with a head set and portable computer chatting in real-time with friends as he plays computer war games.

While the Folgers Coffee can has been replaced with other technology, I’m not so sure it’s ALL for the better.

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Grumpy Old Man

I’m grumpy.

Maybe it’s me, but lately I seem more irritable. This is not a good thing given we’re entering the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons.

My mood exudes foulness for various reasons.

First, I’m getting old. At 45 I’m definitely in the middle-age-phase of life. Perhaps I’ve recognized my time is short on this earth. So little things like traffic jams and waiting in line at a retail store check out make my fuse burn faster. Plus, my body is breaking down in areas that mystify me. Twinges in my cervical vertebra; a plantar wart on my right foot thanks to the fitness center shower at work; a sty on my eyelid that refused to go away for months (sounds like I belong in a belltower, doesn’t it?). These medical issues never occurred to the old, young me and if they did, they didn’t last for weeks on end. Apparently reaching 45 also means maladies and conditions that, in many cases, should not be mentioned in writing. Thank God for WebMed.com so I can self-diagnose myself better than my Aunt Martha did back in the ’70s.

Secondly, my gorgeous wife and I are remodeling a bathroom in full DIY mode. We’re both competent, but we’re also learning that days quickly turn to weeks and suddenly the little master bedroom bath project is already a month old and we’re behind schedule. Add to it the war wounds of remodeling – cuts, bruises, sheetrock dust everywhere, and working in a small space with large power tools and only one tiny window for ventilation – and the thought of the project now makes me frown. Fortunately, my wife is my mood counter balancer. We’ve yet to have short words with each other over that little project. We just want to get ‘er done.

The other thing making me angry (at the present moment) is all the Christmas advertising that is invading my space. It’s not yet Thanksgiving, but every retailer in town began airing their TV spots in early November. As if I’m not aging fast enough, the Best Buys and Targets of the world want to rush past Thanksgiving and head long into the Christmas shopping season to make me older, faster. Ummm. No thanks. I’ll wait until after Thanskgiving before I start my Christmas shopping or break out the decorations. Why rush a good thing?

There. Now you know. I’m angry. Don’t cross me.

Or at the very least, don’t ride your brakes in traffic and make me curse you. After all, it’ll be Christmas…soon.

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Ode to The En Dash

Oh en dash! What would my writing life be without you?

Sprinkled in and throughout my paragraphs – separating key thoughts from inane flotsam and jetsam – the concept of not having you at the whim of my fingertips saddens me. Your absence in my day worse than lack of caffeine or the inability to enjoy a vigorous bike ride.

How I truly wish – on this day of National Punctuation – that you, en dash, receive the laudatory credit you deserve for making every professional writer’s life a more enjoyable life. Indeed, it is you, my friend, who I credit for giving my writing meaning. And texture. And purpose.

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A quick scroll of the page tells you the writing bug inside me went into hibernation as the cooler months began to envelop Minneapolis. What’s with the lack of posts, you ask?

Good question.

Without making excuses, I’ll just say the past few months have been good to me. My oldest made it through her freshman year of college with nearly a 4.0 gpa. My youngest, a freshman in high school, continues to mature and become an amazing young man (wondering where he gets it from ;)).  All this, plus I’m in a new home – living with an incredible woman who contributes to my life every day in ways I never even imagined. Throw in Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years celebrations, learning to cross country ski, and planning a trip to Mexico, and there you have it.

So much fodder for writing. And yet, writing has been the last thing on my list. I’m not even resolving to try to write more in 2010. It’s. Just. Not. That. Important. Right. Now.  Like Lennon when he left the Beatles, I’ve left my writing and the myth that I am one of the great writers to gather dust while other things in my life get my attention.

When my muse returns, it will likely do so with a vengence. Til then, I’ll poke around, observe and devleop thoughts for reference at a later date.

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I’m intolerant today. So…

To the Red River, Fargo, Moorehead – and the two 100-year-floods which happened within six years of each other:

Folks, if you knowingly live in a flood plain, quit your whiney complaining. Your options, as you have known since the time you bought the property included flood insurance, sandbags and flood waters. If standing in your living room waist deep in Red River water is no longer fun for you, simply move.

And, City Fathers of both Fargo and Moore(dunder)head: Who are the Ph.Ds who voted to build a public school in a flood plain. Sheesh. I guess just a few hundred thousand people live in Nort’ Dakota for a reason.

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Unexplained Mysteries

Call it unexplained mysteries of the paranormal or segments from Ripley’s Believe It or Not featuring Jack Palance. Any way you slice it, I’ve been part of some unusual events in recent weeks that I can’t explain in full. Is it life playing out in its own tricky fashion or (zhooooo zhweeeee zhooooo [that’s my eerie sound effect]) is it a force from beyond? You decide.

1) Since Nov. 15, I’ve lost 10 pounds. I now weigh 186 and my favorite pants won’t stay around my waist but, sadly, slip down on my hips the moment I rise from my aileron desk chair. An unrefined look in the corporate environ, but c’mon…my favorite pants can’t hang isolated in the closet. So from where does this weight loss stem? I’ve not changed my eating or fitness habits and these 10 pounds were shed during the feeding frenzy of the Thanksgiving and Cristmas holiday season. A time in which I didn’t deprive myself of food. What gives?  (I’m not complaining. I most def needed to lost the 10 pounds.)

2) Bizarre things have been popping out of my mouth lately. Seems my brain waves send motor neuron messages to my vocal cords before fully thinking about the thought. Out pop the words only to land on the floor.  This happened a total of 27 times since Christmas (yes, I’ve counted). Most recently, at a work event celebrating my departmental VP’s 40th birthday I heard my voice sharing tips on how to make the most of her long-distance relationship with her boyfriend. Unsolicited advice. That’s a career stopper isn’t it. Damn.

3) I liken myself to being an above average dad on the hipness scale. My 18-year-old daughter, however, disagrees. She continues to shy noisily away from my efforts to stay in touch with her world. And God forbid I show a modicum of care for her in a public place, like her Facebook page.  I don’t creep on her page, much, and I’ve learned never to tag her name to a photo I’ve posted on my page that includes her. When did it become acceptable to just chill with the ‘rentals back when I was a teen?

4) Morrie’s, my Mazda dealer here in the Twin Cities, worked on a squeaky wheel for me back in December. The fix lasted about three weeks. The squeak is back and it’s a complete and utter mystery. It’s a cold-weather-only kind of squeak, but annoying as hell. They replaced bushings and tweaked other parts of the front-end suspension initially. Now I think the only way to rid the car of the squeak is to get rid of the car.

I should stand and stretch after writing and editing this piece. But if I do, well, you know…pants.

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My career in medical device technology began a scant three years ago. But since Feb. 2006, I feel I’ve learned more than I did in my first 18 years in the workforce. And the kicker is I’m learning from some of the smartest people on the planet.

When I joined The Company, I often drove home after a day in the office wondering how I buffaloed the hiring committee into offering me the position. In those early days, clearly, I was a full hat-size smaller than even the most recent college grad who served as Project Specialist I. But I had the job and I wasn’t about to let go of a good thing.

Now, 35 months into The Company, I’ve hit a good stride. I know not only the medical acronyms, but also what they stand for – quite impressive. I know certain details about how heart devices function. I can explain why health care costs have soared in the U.S. in a way most any Joe Six Pack might understand. I comprehend the importance of clinical trials as well as the need to meet regulatory challenges that prove the efficacy of an implantable device designed to save lives.

My career requires me to be a mile wide and an inch deep on hundreds of topics, but because I sit down frequently with people like our chief medical and technology officer (a former cardiologist who left Harvard to join this company and impact the lives of millions of people each year, not just a handful), I’m also able to go deep on the topics that interest me most about health care and medicine. And because I get the honor now and then to hear The Company’s founder speak – (and he happens to wear four or five implants that he played a role in innovating during his time here) – I find it easy to embrace his original mission to help those who face chronic diseases live a full life.

A constant learner with an open mind, this very average Iowa boy who graduated in the middle of his class knows a good thing when he sees it. And baby, I’m surrounded by a very good thing.

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