Archive for April, 2011


Spring Break 2011 officially arrived for my boys at 3:00 PM yesterday afternoon.

Sadly, for my daughter, it comes a day later.

It doesn’t feel too much like spring yet here in our northern outpost. We still have piles of snow yet to melt and I have heard the “s” word mentioned in a couple of forecasts this week! Last year our average high temperature during the month of March was fifty degrees. We also set a record with no recorded snowfall for the entire month! This year, the highs have averaged thirty nine degrees, which is well below normal and we have had about nine inches of frozen rain.

No wonder there is still a large pile to be melted beside my driveway!

A very slow melt!

With the little melting we have had, I have been reminded of one job that is in desperate need of being completed, removing Christmas lights!

Yes, extension cords are reappearing and access to trees is once again possible. Three trees in my front yard are in need of light removal. There is also a nasty looking tangled mess of cords near my front step that needs attention too!

Maybe we’ll get some more snow and just bury it all again for a few more days!

Still waiting!

Look what I found!

Construction update…

We are nearing the end of our kitchen remodel project. Countertops are scheduled to go in next week. With that, the end is near for having a large dumpster and “porta potty” as fixtures in our driveway!

(I’m sure our neighbors are thrilled too!)

Yes, for the past couple of months we have slowly filled the big green monster, which I thought was plenty big at the start of this whole deal. It is nearly full now and with work almost complete, it should be leaving in the coming days.

Along with it, we will say good-bye to the not-so-stylish porta potty that has been setting in front of the dumpster as a nice companion piece.

Funny what you notice when you have a porta potty in your drive!

It does get used!

Oh sure, it was intended for the numerous sub-contractors working at our home, but I have also witnessed several others taking advantage of our “free” outdoor facilities!

Such as…

UPS/ FedEx drivers.

Garbage men.

Furniture delivery people.

City workers.

Snow plow drivers.

Door-to-door salesman.

My neighbor. (Okay, just kidding on that one, but I did extend an invitation to him.)

Me! (When our hardwood floors were being finished and I couldn’t walk on them!)

Any port in a storm!

I was happy to provide a service to the community!

Our combo pack!

And yes, there was a person who “serviced” it once a week…

A big thanks to “Cousin Eddy”!

Cribbage & NCAA tournaments update…

Despite a good showing the divisional round, my partner and I bowed out in the first round of the playoffs. It was a good run and we vowed to be back again next year!

The good news, the tournament raised nearly $2,300 for a local charity.

Not bad for a group of eighty guys on a Friday night!

I forgot to mention that my partner and I lost to my neighbor and Michigan State grad, Pete.

Yes, the same neighbor with whom I had the steak dinner bet again this year.

My Northern Iowa Panthers versus his Michigan State Spartans in the first round of the Women’s NCAA basketball tournament.

Sadly, just like last year, my squad lost.

Anyone know where I can get a whole cow?

The Social Network

You often hear the negative side of the “social media”.

People’s privacy being violated.

Spending too much time on it.

Inappropriate comments or photos being posted for the world to view. Often times things are posted without the consent of the people involved, which has led to dire consequences in several cases.

People sometimes do not give much thought or think about the ramifications to what they are posting prior to doing so. Several athletes and comedian, Gilbert Gottfried come to mind. (Note: There is currently a job opening for the voice of the Aflac duck thanks to Mr. Gottfried’s use of Twitter, in case you are interested.)

But there is also a positive side to it too.

I began using Facebook and Twitter shortly after I launched “Dad’s Day”. It was simply a way to get word out about my new webcomic. My kids, specifically, my oldest, gives me grief from time to time about it. The oldest says I post too much and that people aren’t interested when I announce that I have just successfully completed a load of dishes!

Okay, you’re probably right!

But as my number of “friends” slowly grew, I soon realized a side benefit of being on “The Social Network”. I was able to reconnect with friends that I had not heard from in many years. Friends that I didn’t know where they were living or what they were doing, etc.

One friend comes to mind.

He was a high school friend of mine.

I hadn’t seen or talked to him since a class reunion many years ago.

But I received a “friend request” from him on my Facebook page well over a year ago and instantly we were caught up on each other’s lives!

Because of Facebook I found out…

He still had a great sense of humor and an upbeat personality.

He was very gifted musically, which as it turns out, was his life’s work and passion. It may also help explain why we were such big fans of the music group, KISS and why one evening in his mother’s photo studio felt the urge to apply makeup and put on a performance!

Thankfully, we had no audience!

We also had the opportunity to reminisce about our days working as clerks at a grocery store. We recalled with great laughs of the “initiation” new employees to the store would receive.

Such as, telling a new guy that salad dressing needed to be shaken at night since it had a tendacy to settle to bottom of the bottle during the day or directing a “newbie” to mop a dirty freezer floor! (Of course, when the mop would stick, we would just tell him to use hotter water!)

I think we may have gotten into a little trouble over the latter when the meat department manager slipped on ice on the next morning!

Oh well, it was great fun and huge laughs!

For the record, my friend’s attempt to “get me” when I started failed! I knew there was no such thing as “Army” beans that needed to fill an empty spot next to the “Navy” beans! (His lack of a poker face played a key role!)

We, along with the mentioned meat department manager, our store manager and anyone else who happened to be in the store at the time did have a great laugh when it was discovered that I had inadvertantly, thanks to a misplaced decimal point, ordered two million cases of barbeque sauce!

Never heard the end of that one!

More benefits of Facebook…

I found out about his love of NASCAR racing and how Facebook made a dream come true for him. With a Nationwide Series race coming to Iowa, he had simply hit the “Like” buttom on the Iowa Speedway’s fan page. He was soon notified that he had won two “pit” passes for the race and was able to get an up close view that few got to enjoy.

Needless to say, those photos were proudly posted on his page for the world to see!

Reconnecting with him also allowed me to learn that he was suffering from a rare kidney disease.

One that had already taken the lifes of his mother and a brother in his family.

He would post updates of his treatment and battle from time to time. Thanks to Facebook, he was able to receive countless words of encouragement and prayers over the past year.

News about a fundraiser for his medical expenses was posted on Facebook last fall. Later pictures from the event were posted. His friends were able to see that he never once lost his sense of humor or his positive outlook on life.

Then this past Monday.

Sadly, I received word via Facebook that my friend had passed away.

Instantly, there were words of condolence posted on his Facebook page.

Friends from all over the country were talking about the good times, thanking him for the memories and offering support for his family!

All good in a time of sadness.

It was the good side of “The Social Network”!

In Memory Of

Greg L. Sumner
Grinnell High School Class of ’81