Category Archives: Vacation


Work Sucks. Play is Fun.

Yep, we’ve been on vacation. We went to see a band Friday night. Saturday I helped out with a Toy Run (see for photos if you want) — we raised nearly $2,000 for children’s charities, and donated a TON of toys. Sunday Dagmar and I had roasted beastie and slept.

Monday we went to Sioux Falls, where we toured the monument to the U.S.S. South Dakota, went to the Great Plains Zoo, and then to the Butterfly House. (We came home early, unfortunately. Our little goddaughter had some sort of accident and was taken to the hospital in Sioux City. We zipped down the interstate at 90 miles per hour, but by the time we got about five miles outside Sioux City we learned they’d released the tot and sent everyone home, so the injury must not have been too terrible, thankfully.)

Tuesday we went for a nice 20-25 mile bicycle trip. Sioux City and South Sioux City have some nice bicycle trails! Fun to ride! Then it rained.

Today we’re going to take the motorcycle to Minnesota. Thursday we’re off to the Omaha Zoo. Friday we’re going to go downtown, sip a few frosty beverages and watch my buddy’s band play outside in the street that afternoon/early evening. Saturday it’s off on the motorcycle to a rally in a neighboring village with our tent. Sunday and Monday are hangover days…

Here are some photos — I’ll try to add in some new photos every day, so if you’re into looking at other people’s vacation pictures, be sure to check in daily.

Michael Vick vs. Morality

I saw the Falcons play Monday night. I had eaten a fine dinner of leftover roast beast and was happily snoring on the couch, TV muttering to itself in the corner, book on my chest, cat on my feet, when the thought “it’s Monday night and there’s football on TV” flitted through my dreams. Without opening my eyes I slowly came to awareness and started paying attention to the TV. Yep, the game is on.

I slowly creaked one overfed eyeball open and let its gaze fall upon the flickering screen. This is what went through my mind: “Hmmm… The Cincinnati Bengals are playing. Who else… Oh! The Atlanta Ignorant Thugs.”

I know, I know… It’s not right to participate in “guilt by association.” Simply because the star of the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick, turned out to be a lying thug who participated in illegal gambling, dog fighting, and (to be redundant) animal cruelty does NOT mean that the entire team is full of lying, gambling, dog-fighting thugs.

But coming out of a deep sleep and seeing their logo on the TV, my first thought was “ignorant thugs.” And that’s too bad. Michael Vick has tainted the entire team.

NFL pundits are already talking about Mr. Vick making a return to the National Football League in the 2009 season, after he’s completed his year in jail. The funny thing about that is that Mr. Vick has not yet been sentenced. The talking heads on TV are assuming that the judge will give Mr. Vick the lightest possible jail sentence, that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will allow Mr. Vick to return in spite of numerous player conduct violations, and that a team will actually hire Mr. Vick.

I hope this doesn’t happen. I hope Mr. Vick never plays again. It may sound cruel, but I want Mr. Vick to take responsibility for his actions.

Oh, sure, he held a press conference before pleading guilty to the charges and he said he was going to “grow up,” and that he “takes full responsibility” for what he did… But he also said, “everyone makes mistakes,” and claims to have found God in the last couple weeks. Mr. Vick strongly implied that since he’s now found God all of a sudden, we should all forget about all the bad things he’s done in the past. After all, Jesus forgave me — shouldn’t you?

Will God forgive you for using His name as a means to gain a lenient prison sentence? Everyone who gets caught doing something bad simply holds a press conference and tells everyone “I’ve let God into my life now, and everything’s all better now,” and we all nod, smile, and take his handcuffs off. (A few months ago, I saw a Republican legislator from the south, I forget his name, hold a press conference after being caught cheating on his wife. “It’s between me, my God, and my wife,” he said. “God has forgiven me, and so has my wife, so it’s none of your business.” To be honest, I think he’s right. But that same congressman voted early on to impeach then-President William J. Clinton for indiscretions with a chubby intern… Now that it’s HIS turn under the limelight of public scrutiny it’s a different story, though. We’re supposed to look away.) I feel Mr. Vick’s use of God in his press conference simply means that he wants to shuck the responsibility for his heinous actions off onto God.

But, the single reason I feel Mr. Vick should NOT be allowed back into the NFL is that he lied.

Way back in April or May, when this whole dogfighting thing started making headlines, both the owner of the Atlanta Falcons and the League Commissioner called Mr. Vick on the carpet and asked him point-blank if he was involved. Mr. Vick gave them a flat “no.” He categorically denied any involvement in any wrongdoing at all. He said that he did not violate team policy, or the NFL’s player conduct policy, and said he didn’t break the law.

At that point he had the chance to be a stand-up guy. He had the chance to take responsibility. He had the chance to make amends, and he blew it. Instead of being a man, he lied like a little boy and hoped to get away with it.

Charlie Don’t Surf

Normally I don’t listen to the lyrics of a song. They just get in the way of the bassline for the most part… But this song caught my attention. “Charlie Don’t Surf” by the Clash. (I’m assuming the song was inspired by the quote in Apocalypse Now.)

Charlie don’t surf and we think he should
Charlie don’t surf and you know that it ain’t no good
Charlie don’t surf for his hamburger Momma
Charlie’s gonna be a napalm star

Everybody wants to rule the world
Must be something we get from birth
One truth is we never learn
Satellites will make space burn

We’ve been told to keep the strangers out
We don’t like them starting to hang around
We don’t like them all over town
Across the world we are going to blow them down


The reign of the super powers must be over
So many armies can’t free the earth
Soon the rock will roll over
Africa is choking on their Coca Cola

It’s a one a way street in a one horse town
One way people starting to brag around
You can laugh, put them down
These one way people gonna blow us down


Charlie don’t surf he’ll never learn
Charlie don’t surf though he’s got a gun
Charlie don’t surf think that he should
Charlie don’t surf we really think he should
Charlie don’t surf

Charlie don’t surf and we think he should
Charlie don’t surf and you know that it ain’t no good
Charlie don’t surf for his hamburger Momma
Charlie don’t surf

Several lines get my attention — “Africa is choking on their Coca-Cola” is pretty good. Why are we exporting our culture to peoples who don’t particularly want it? I’ll leave the references to Vietnam alone… “These one way people gonna blow us down” seems vaguely prophetic.

I just think it’s an interesting song. The tune is good, too — catchy!

If you’re reading this on Facebook, you can see the original blog at, click on “Blog.”

After the clouds go to bed…

I realized today that I’ve spent most of my life yearning. Sometimes in earnest, sometimes the yearning is set on simmer, but it’s always there. I spent a little time analyzing just what’s causing me such angst…

While everyone certainly wants more moolah and bigger, better, fancier, flashier toys, I’m pretty satisfied with what I have. Dagmar and I will never be rich; to the contrary, I’m reasonably sure we’ll always struggle with debt – but we have food, clothes, a place to call home and a VERY happy marriage… But still I have this strange yearning. Why? It took me a long time to figure it out…

I want time.

That’s all. I want time. I want a summer off. I want a summer like they used to be. I want the kind of a summer that can only happen to kids between the ages of five and nine – when you’re old enough to go outside and play on your own, but you’re young enough that you don’t know there are things you’re not supposed to do. That’s what I want.

I remember waking up in the morning, lazing in bed and watching the shadows in my room move, the dust motes slowly swirling in a sunbeam. A single, well-aimed breath would make them dance, even from all the way across the room – but once you’ve made the dust dance in the sunlight, you have to be patient for a long time before you can do it again. One look out the window and you knew if it was a wet, dewy sort of day or a dry, dusty sort of day. Both are good, but it’s best to wear shoes if it’s a wet, dewy sort of day. Out the room, down the stairs and out the door – sometimes fully clothed, sometimes wearing nothing but britches – it all depended on who caught you before you got out the door. Never mind taking a bath – time enough to do that later, after the clouds go to bed.

Growing up on a farm spoiled me. Once out the door, so many things to do. But there was never a decision to make. Within thirty seconds of leaving the house, something would capture my energy – sometimes a pretty bug climbing up a tallish stem of grass to get a good look at his kingdom, other times a sparkly rock would keep me entertained for a while, dreaming of the places it had been. Sometimes I’d want to see the sky, so I’d wander off to the fields where the trees stand solitaire along the edges of the rows, keeping watch.

The sky can look powerful big when the trees are far away – a good place to watch the clouds. How far can the clouds see? Can they see all the way to town? Where have they been? Did they like it there? Sometimes, though, it’s nice to watch the clouds with just one tree to keep you company. That’s easy enough… If you do it right, you can find a spot under a tree where the green leaves make the sky look electric blue – that’s the best.

Ooh – there’s a milkweed. Any butterflies around? They like milkweeds. There are usually some butterflies in the fields, but sometimes they like to go in the grove and hang out with the trees there for a while. Off to chase the flutterbyes.

The grove is always a fun place to be. Davy Crockett and Dan’l Boone help me sneak through the woods, so quiet and slow the rabbits don’t notice me. Sometimes it’s nice to go slow, to feel the leaves brush against you, to look at the bark on the trees, to smell the grass, to wonder at the complexity and harmony. Sometimes it’s nice to be a rabbit. I could never get my nose to wriggle right, though. Other times it’s fun to help Stanley and Livingston find their way out of the wilderness, making lots of noise so the elephants don’t attack. Sometimes it’s nice to climb a tree. If you’re real still in a tree sometimes a bird will land close.

Sometimes there are birds in the barns. But sometimes there are bees and wasps and hornets, too. Best not to go there. Better to play in the dust for a while. Ever figure out why there’s so much dust over here, but not so much over there? Why does it pile in one place when it’s outside? Or is it just a thing that happens on farms in the summer? Throwing a handful of dust if fun, if you’re not throwing for distance.

You could tell when it’s getting late – the cicadas start whirring, the crickets tune their orchestras, the frogs tell the crickets to shut up, sometimes the first lightning bug of the night flashes. Time to go in. Gotta pause for a while first, though – this is the best time to listen. How many crickets are there? Where are the frogs, anyway? Why can’t I find the frogs in the daytime?

Methinks the joy of childhood summers lies partly in the patience to take the world at it’s own pace, and partly the knowledge that you have no responsibilities. Of course someone has to cook the meals and clean things and do all the things that need to be done by responsible people, but can’t we wait until the clouds go to sleep to do that? There’s plenty of time…

So, that’s what I’m yearning for. I want one more childhood summer on the farm. But this time I want company – I want my wife there. It’s more fun to look at bugs if you have someone you like with you. I promise, if I get my summer, I’ll waste it well.