Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year's Resolution

I will resolve to update the blog at least once a week.  I further resolve to toe the start line in the Superior Trail 100.  Let the writing and training begin!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall 2011

This is the view outside our back door.  The fall colors are in full display and as far as Fall Seasons go, it's been a good one.  The Dog Biscuit business is good and reaching a pre-holiday fevered pitch.  Woofables will the featured business in next Month's Chamber of Commerce materials.  Should be good PR.  All of this is keeping Mamacita busy along with her consulting and keeping our household moderately sane.

I've been traveling a great deal so not home enough to cause problems or make a difference. My travels are both work related and Leadership related.  I was selected for Leadership Iowa which is a statewide Leadership program to develop business and political leaders throughout the State.  So far so good, but busy.

Kids have all but wrapped up Fall sports.  Batty is done with Cross Country, and Ick just finished Fall Ball.  Ick and Maggot still have threads of soccer, but that too is winding down. 

Next week Mamacita celebrates her birthday.  And my little sister Julia just celebrated hers.  In fact, Maggot got an opportunity to play with a band at The Mill Restaurant and dedicated the song to Crazy Aunt Julia (about a minute into the attached Video).  It's all good. 

That's about it for now.  And so it goes.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Boycott Wells Fargo Bank!!!!

Last October, we finally sold our house in Mankato, MN after 2.5 years on the market, but we are still dealing with the fall-out.  If you recall, we sold it to a difficult lady. But right before the sale, she found hail damage on the roof, so we agreed to work with our insurance to take care of the roof as a condition of sale, but she would take care of the deductible.

The new owner proceeded to rack up window treatments and siding and put in on our insurance.  After drawn-out exchanges with insurance and contractors, our Realtor, and the difficult lady, we finally reach an agreement and checks were issued.  [side note... we didn't finally settle all this crap until Sept. 2011! - another story for another time]

Enter Wells Fargo. . .  because they held the mortgage at the time of the damage, counter checks were issued to Laura, myself and Wells.  We wrote a personal check for $17K, to cover the costs for the contractor so they could take care of everything.  WELLS FARGO refused to counter sign a cashiers check because they were no longer owners of the Mortgage on record.  Our check bounced and our lives became a unsuspecting financial mess for a few months.

This situation on top of additional fees and lack of support from the WELLS Branch in Iowa City... last June, we decided to move our many accounts (10) to another institution.  In August, Laura went in to see why we still had open accounts, which Wells assured us would be closed.  The personal banker discovered a regular monthly Wells Software fee being charged to our account.... she had no idea what this was. So, while Laura sat there, she clicked away on her computer to research this item.  After 5-6 minutes or so, her eyes got big and she said out loud, "SHIT!".

Our personal banker explained that this was actually a Quicken fee.  To everyone's dismay, we never signed up for this or have used quicken.  Because of the label on our monthly statement, we had no reason to believe this was not just another banking fee, "Wells Software fee".  And then she proceeds to tell us that we've been charged $9.99 a month since....      2005!!!!!!  

So our personal banker spoke to the Manager... and they agreed there should be some accommodation for our "inconvenience".  Not to mention lost  time sitting and waiting for these people to get their act together.  [side note:  we calculated about seven hours or so, for all of our banking issues].   Anyway, the Bank Manager told us that he would send our problem to the resolution committee.   [YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!].  Meanwhile they asked ME to call Quicken to have this fee stopped. [YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME AGAIN!!! -- What happened to customer service????]]

Three weeks passed and we finally got a call from our personal banker to inform us that Wells' Corporate HQ will reimburse us $80.  But the rest is still under review.  That was almost two months ago, and no word.

We paid more than $800 in fees without any explanation or resolution. We spent more at least seven hours trying (politely) to resolve this problem.  NOW we are officially fed up.  I'm sending this post to a few of my newspaper contacts (Gazette, Daily Iowan, Press Citizen, and to our state representatives/senators (Masher, Jacoby, Dvorsky, Johnson, Hogg, etc...) and to our congressman Loebsack, as well as Senators Harkiin and Grassley.  And last, but not least, the Better Business Bureau.

To say that we are supremely disappointed is an understatement. Poor leadership begets poor management, begets poor customer service... the people who pay your salaries, knowingly or not (as this case may be).  Absolutely appalling!!!

Lastly.... I will tell everyone I know... not to bank at Wells Fargo if they can avoid it.  This experience could have been a good opportunity to demonstrate quality and responsive service to otherwise loyal customers, instead, it has been nothing short of a train wreck with WELLS Iowa City at the wheel.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Looking Back Over 10 Years, After 9-11

Shaken and sobering.  That's what I remember feeling as we huddled around the T.V. and watched the unfolding of the tragedy in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.  Today, I am mystified; not necessarily by the events of the terrible day ten years ago, which irrational and insane as they were.  These atrocious acts can be directly tied to extreme fundamentalists with a set of misplaced beliefs and leadership.  Angry yes, mystified about them... no.

I'm mystified by how we, as a "United" States have lost our collective resolve to work together, solve problems and do the heavy lifting at "home" to help maintain our National identity and global leadership. Many of our citizens, and nearly all of our politicians have taken almost belligerent sides causing a noticeable deterioration of our government because of partisan politics steeped in vitriol, and border-line fundamentalist beliefs that seem intent to win at all costs for their respective political parties and unyielding institutional positioning.  Winning for the sake of beating the other political party must have some almost intoxicating, narcissistic "feel good" elements that blind our representatives to the crippling and deleterious effect on our nation.  Both parties are to blame.

How is it, that we were able to have a unified front (albeit short-lived) after September 11, 2001, but now have nearly unbreakable lines in the sand between politics and progress?  The professionals (politicians, parties, and special interests) that have supported and encouraged these behaviors and policies have put self-interest above statesmanship.  The situation is discouraging and embarrassing.

Ten years ago our elected officials didn't seem to have a problem joining together arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand, vote-for-vote to enter wars, sacrifice lives, and spend hundreds of billions of dollars. Let me ask, were the results of this unified effort a fair return on our "investments"?   And this was a unilateral, bi-partisan decision.  

Now these same politicians and parties agree that the economy and jobs are our Nation's biggest challenge.  But failure of our elected officials to agree, compromise and sacrifice on seemingly lesser matters than 10 years ago seems an impossible task.  Today, the previously unified elected bodies are more crippling and in someways more damaging to our country than the terrorist attacks of 9-11.

Let's talk about sacrifice for a moment. How many of our elected officials signed up to go over seas and fight in Afghanistan or Iraq?  Yet these same politicians are more than willing, in a unified way, to send others over on their (our?)behalf.   How many of our elected officials have had to cut back on their FAT healthcare coverage, and their FAT retirement benefits when they ask the vast majority of the American population to do the same? I find it ironic that our elected officials (Left and Right) are unified in these matters of personal sacrifice (or lack thereof), while they have no problem saying "American's need to make big sacrifices".

After the horror of 9-11 receded, I was proud of how AMERICA rolled up her sleeves, dropped partisan politics and tackled the weighty issues of the day. But today, I'm embarrassed and ashamed at the lack of courage and self-sacrifice shown by our public officials.  There bills, votes, filibusters, and vetos pay homage to special interests and our increasingly convoluted party system.  Collectively our elected officials appear to have been victims of financial and political extortion. Many of these politicians seem to work ONLY at the will of their institutional political parties, special interests and group think for unwavering social, political and economic demagoguery.  Have they forgotten the AMERICA they supported in the days after September 11, 2001?

I remain mystified today, as well as shaken and sad when I look back over ten years and consider all the tragic loss and ultimate sacrifices across the entire spectrum of people and resources that helped make our country great. The few threads of hope and optimism I have for our collective future are eroding because our politicians have taken their eyes off our principled founding of our Nation: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people".

Our elected officials should regroup and start working together to make policy compromises, personal and political sacrifices, and no longer sell their political offices and votes for destructive and counter productive interests.

To honor the victims of 9-11, I ask our Congress, Senate, as well as the Executive and Judicial Branches of the United States Government to rediscover our Nation's pride and heritage; to work with one another for the greater good of our economic and social well being; and by doing so, help our Country reclaim global leadership as a people, united, free and proud.  I'm afraid if our Nation (people and elected officials) can't escape the vices of political extortion,  narrow-mindedness, special interests, and irrational partisanship then all that was lost on 9-11, and sacrificed since has may have been for naught.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Well, tomorrow the delinquents return to school. Three teen aged girls at West High, and the Big Dawg slides into Third Grade. Wow!
As the time passes along, what would have been my parent's 50th wedding anniversary has passed. Not sure what to think about that except a bit sad. Certainly it has given pause for thought and an opportunity to imagine what our 50th will be like. Yikes! We're creeping up on #23 in the next few weeks... hard to believe.

The Exec Students started this week, second years. The first year program was postponed until December which is on one hand unfortunate, but on the other the delay gives our department an opportunity to adjust to a new Director. It's all good.

Woofables is growing fast. Perhaps too fast. We're burning midnight oil to stay ahead of the curve, but I'm afraid in a few more weeks that may not cut it. Thanks to some elbow grease from Crazy Pete, we were able to build and install a drying closet which will speed up "curing" the biscuits for distribution and sale. And we are busy adding staff to our list of bakers.

We now have resellers in Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, California and Oregon. I might have missed a few States.

Oh, and back to students... the population of Iowa City will double between last week and this weekend as the students return to campus. I begin teaching this fall and Sidetrack will take the semester off. Next spring she may return to the classroom, while I'll simply wait to see if they ask me back.

On all other fronts... I hear great things from family and friends. A special shout out to Tim Johnston who is off to Washington to teach at GW University and wait for his next novel to get published. Also the Hydes and Thomas's... good friends all who recently reminded me about the important things in life.

Now, I need to find a bookkeeper for the shop, and someone to mow our lawn at home because my schedule is consumed until Mid December. And so it goes...

Monday, July 25, 2011

In a Pinch

It's not too often that another driver will send me into "road rage", but in this case, it was all I could do not to cause physical harm (flatten tires). The blue van is ours, and when I returned to it after work, the red pick up was up to my bumper leaving me no room to get out. Also notice that this person parked next to a fire hydrant, and only a few feet from a stop sign.

So what does a reasonable person do?

I took several deep breaths, calmed down, then called the police. When the officer arrived, he seemed very understanding. And once we extracted my car (he was my witness and guide), he promised to "ticket the hell out of this guy." A little victory for the "little guy" out there. But I still think I should have flattened his tires. And so it goes...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Red, White and Blue

Here we see Tim Johnston (Award winning Author of "Irish Girl", and "Never So Green") with BD and BD just prior to the fireworks display that would end the Iowa City Jazz Fest. Here is a picture of the main stage for Jazz Fest. The other side of the Old Capitol looks down on the Iowa River "valley", and it was from there the fireworks were launched. It was quite spectacular, and the closest Big Dawg has been to a firework display.

So far, Chalupa has attended camp, and Beaner has ventured to San Francisco and back (Leadership Program). Later this week, Big Dawg heads off to Wapsi Y camp for a few days, then in a few weeks, Beaner and Peanut will head to Pittsburgh for a Youth Group project. Meanwhile Laura and I try to hold down the fort and keep the lights on. It's bene a busy and chaotic summer to be sure.

The biscuit business continues to grow and we've since picked up clients in Michigan, Oregon and the Mall of America! The next step is to to get Mamacita (formerly known as Sidetrack) on the payroll and get a jump on baking inventory for the holidays.... and so it goes....

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Editor's Apology

As most of you can imagine, summer has fallen upon us like a swarm of locusts. So updates to this blog are long overdue and delayed. You have my apologies. A more formal post will be forthcoming with updates on Camps, Soccer, Woofables, Work and ... life. Until then, hope you are all having a great summer and thanks for stopping by. And so it goes....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Same Time Next Year

Every Year the Pediatric Department at the University of Iowa has a end-of-the-year reception for the Residents (PL1 - PL-3). During this reception, annual awards are presented. The residents vote on the James C. Taylor Outstanding Teaching Faculty Award, named for my father.

This year E (right) a.k.a. Mouse dragged my youngest sister J (left) a.k.a. Yo-Yo up from the Carolina's. Our schedules have been such that his was the first time in eight years the three of us have gotten together. It's also the first time Yo-Yo met her youngest nephew, Big Dawg.

It was all very fun and great to see my siblings. It's been too long since we've been together and one can only hope the time between our next visit won't be quite so vast.

And so it goes...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lots of Birthdays this month. Beaner (above) turned 17 on the 9th, and JA Mandy (baking below with HRB and Owen) held steady at 29 on the 6th. As a result of these and Chalulpa's end-of-May birthday, we've had our fill of annual celebrations. Of course we could give a nod to Birthday boy Crazy Pete (7th), but that might diminish the quality of this digital "Rag".
It's been all hands on deck at Woofables these days. We've had reasonably good online traffic that continues to increase as each month passes, but it's the wholesale accounts that seem to keep the oven full and biscuits baking. Meanwhile we're developing a certificate to recognize those select individuals who have successfully baked a batch of dog treats. They will be certifiable (ahem) as BONE-afide apprentice dog biscuit bakers! It's all fun to be sure.
Speaking of FUN, our dear family friend, CRaZy Pete, completed his 20th Pig Man Triathlon (finished 3rd in his ancient group), and was so recognized as the ONLY person to have competed in all 20 events. Salute. His Goddaughter, Peanut and el Pero, Max (pictured above) smile with joy at this news.

On the work front, BD makes many trips to DM, and is a finalist for the Directorship of the EMBA Program (vacated by the retirement of his boss). The University (State) hiring process is bureaucratic to be sure, but in the end... they'll get what they believe to be the best person for the job. Fingers are crossed. Meanwhile, Sidetrack consults and bakes, and keeps a vigilant watch on all things domestic. Both Buzz Daddy and Sidetrack have the summer off from teaching which is a welcome reprieve from those obligations.

Next up, summer camps and the arrival of Mouse from NC. And so it goes...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teenage Crisis

This is a clear case of teenage overload. Chalupa (far right, black shirt, good posture) decided to invite a herd of delinquents over for smores (sugar), punch (more sugar) and ice cream cake (even more sugar). All of this in celebration of her 14th birthday. So for a brief period of time we have 14, 15 and 16 year old teenage mutant girls. Ugh.
Meanwhile Sidetrack and Big Dawg were playing in the backyard, keeping a safe distance from the herd. Although, as Big Dawg would tell you... when nature calls, it's time to charge the herd and make a run for the "head".

All's well that ends well. The house is still standing. Big Dawg is relieved and we will reload for the next adventure... the arrival of HRB and his brother Owen. And so it goes....

Friday, May 27, 2011

Not much more I can say about this, huh?

Sigh. And so it goes....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Osama bin Pero

Yep... toilet paper. This is just the initial trail that leads all the way up the stairs and into the master bedroom. So far he has chewed through (killed) 3 or 4 plants (I lost count). Several pairs of sandals/flip flops, two wicker chairs, two throw rugs, an extension cord, some stuffed animals, and a library book. These are just a few of the items the darn pooch has consumed.

So why did we rescue him? As Addy will say "te adoribale". But then she'll say we should send him to prison. When Max is sweet... he is very, very sweet. When he is nightmare, he's Osama bin Pero. And so it goes...

Saturday, May 07, 2011

So the more things wind down...

The crazier things get. Last night, Big Dawg had baseball, Ellie had a tennis match for West High, and Peanut's West High Soccer team had a match. Chalupa had the night off. Today it's more the same.

Big Dawg and Chalupa have soccer, Sidetrack covers the shop, Beaner will help take Big Dawg to and from soccer, then she'll go to a local park to cover a booth for Woofables at a dog "show". Meanwhile Peanut will be baking biscuits. Buzz has final classes with the EMBA students, then the end-of-the year golf outing followed by the banquet.

Just as this year's EMBA class graduates, the Des Moines EMBA class kicks off.
Meanwhile, the river (above) is full, but not near over-flowing unlike those along the Mississippi to our South. We have had our share of water, and our lawn is tuning into a jungle. We have become proud of our growing crop of dandelions, much to our neighbor's chagrin. We're not sure when well get to mow the lawn... and the garden still needs to be planted, and porch still needs to be re-screened.

Next week we have Prom, and related activities and then all the graduations activities are beginning to crank up. May and June are nutty months. Oh for the dog days of summer when we can relax and catch our collective breaths. And so it goes...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Plus 50

Easter Weekend had us in the Twin Cities for Uncle Brinz's 50th Birthday. Here's the Birthday boy trudging across the street. The weekend began with a bowling palooza which is always fun when no one really cares about their scores. Big Dawg learned to bowl without bumpers and scored his first line (84).

The following evening we had dinner at Sidetrack's sister's (Grethen) house. All the cousins were there except Sean who remained in NC with his family. Below we see (from left) Big Dawg, Matt, Chalupa, Brinz and Peanut. This was moments before the couch erupted into a small revolution. No surprise with the barrel of monkeys sitting on it.
Sidetrack's mom is doing as well as can be expected, despite the onset of Alzheimer's Decease. It was good to see Bro-Joe, Delma, Patrice, Harlin, Ursula, Elika, Gretchen and Jay. We also met the Beck's foreign exchange student Rizza, who cooked a magnificent Indonesian meal.

We returned in time to open the shop on Sunday... only a few biscuit buyers stopped in, but it was nice to see their owners. Now that the Easter weekend has passed, we've all returned to work, and school and/or both. And so it goes. . .

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Koko Taylor, June 1995 - April 2011

Koko joined Raisa earlier today to terrorize the great dog house in the Sky. She was almost 16 years old and lived a full, and mostly happy life... except for that porcupine incident.

She was an anniversary gift for Sidetrack back in 1995. Beaner was one year old and we were expecting Peanut six months later. Chalupa, Peanut, Big Dog, Truman and Tootsie have never known life without Koko being a part of it.

Koko was a very sweet girl who endeared herself to many people including J.A. Mandy, and a host of neighbors (Mentings, Reeves, Chadimas, and Larsons). Her travels took her to Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota and back to Iowa, where she calls home. Along the way she spent a few nights in the woods, loved to swim and had the occasional run-in with local "authorities".

But at the end of the day, she was always home with us. We will remember her fondly, and miss her dearly. RIP Koko. And so it goes....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chill Out - "Flip" Out

This doesn't look like soccer does it? Beth (blue) Chalupa, and Andrea stand around waiting for results to see if they continue on in the tournament. As it happened, the day turn colder with results. The ladies were tied with another team after all games were played. So the officials flipped a coin to see which team would move on. It was a long, silent car ride home after that. . You could say we got chilled out then flipped out. And so it goes....

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chill Out?

Yesserie... that's snow. April 16, and it's snowing. Ugh. Hard to believe we were enjoying 80 degree temps a few days ago. Spring in Iowa.

Chalupa and Ike are participating in a spring soccer tournament today up in Cedar Rapids. The fields are very exposed. Heck, even in July and 80 degree temperatures, the wind still blows and it's cold. I can't imagine what today and tomorrow will be like. Laura will let me know, so I can prepare for tomorrow.

Peanut and Chalupa were supposed to referee games this morning in Iowa City, but those matches were all canceled. That's the difference between recreational leagues and competitive soccer.

So, I'll sit in my warm office and work on Exec MBA items as well as get some papers graded for class. Sidetrack is taking the crew to Woofables to get ready for a photo shoot, then up to CR for Soccer. Beaner gets to sleep in. (How does THAT work??!!)

I'd tell you about the sweet way Beaner was asked to the Prom earlier this week, but she turned him down in anticipation of receiving a request from another suitor. But, for the sake of maintaining a positive relationship with Bearner, I won't get into any more details about her current Prom considerations.

And so it goes...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Game, Set....

Beaner (right) looks on as the opposing team hits one out of play. Despite the fortune of this point, Beaner and her temporary partner lost the match. It was only Beaner's second HS career loss. Her normal partner got "called up" to play varsity for a match, so that sort of took both girls off their game. Peanut showed up to see her big sister play. And yes, it was a cold as it looks.

Chalupa had better luck two days later in her seasonal debut back on the soccer pitch. The Fusion won 2 - 1 and Chalupa had some quality touches. Buzz covered the shop while Sidetrack made the trek to Muscatine to see the match. Big Dawg also showed up to cheer Chalupa on.

The shop continues to show incremental growth. This week we heard from potential vendors in Rhode Island and Milwaukee. We sent off sample kits and will see if this turns into more business. If history (brief as it may be) is any indication, we'll have to ramp up our baking.

In other news, between all the running around we're starting to prepare the garden for summer planting, and Buzz got the garage sort of cleaned out. Swapped the snowblower for the lawn mower, and finally boxed up all the holiday lights. Every year I tell myself to simplify our seasonal light show, and every year... we add more lights! Enough is enough!

On the hound front, Max got into green food coloring (don't ask) and so has blotches of green on his body. We also have spots on our living room rug. Thankfully, it's a inexpensive rug, but it does demonstrate our efforts to go green (I guess).

The week ahead is more of the same: Teaching, recruiting, Des Moines, Baking, Soccer, Tennis, Baseball, Baking, Woofables, Youth Groups and more... I'm sure. And so it goes....

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Servin' 'em up

West High JV Tennis Team practices in the City Park. Hard to believe all of this was underwater two (almost three) years ago. Beaner is in the far, upper left, court so you really can't see her. Anyway, she's climbed the ladder a bit this year and will be looked to for a certain amount of Leadership on the team and the courts. She'll rise to the challenge, I'm sure.

A few weeks ago, my boss formally announced his retirement. Since then I've fielded many questions about my professional fate and aspirations. It would be nice if I could provide a clear-cut answer, but truth be told, it's not that easy.

Simply put, the University of Iowa is a State organization, and therefore I technically work for the tax payers. With that said, typically when there is a job opening like the Director of Executive MBA Programs, the University forms a search committee, and then opens the job up to the entire State. They must consider ALL remotely qualified furlowed State Employees, then will consider other candidates (at large or otherwise).

I imagine there will be interest from a few folks at Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Coe College, Mt. Mercy University, and Kirkwood Community College to name a few; not to mention some of my colleagues here on campus. At the end of the day, this could become a six-eight month process. I suspect there are other streamlined ways this job could be filled, but am not optimistic about those options, because I'm unsure whether I've earned the endorsement of appropriate leadership. So I'll stay focused on those things I can control and wait to see how things unfold.

It'd be a good job, but the hours are long (regular six day weeks - no less than 50 -55 hours), and the pay is substantially less than the private sector. Conversely, working on campus is a luxury to be sure, and our benefits are great. The Dean of the College is also retiring, so there is a leadership void at the top, which also has it's implications... So we'll see. It'll be an interesting to see how things unfold....

On all other fronts, it's the same old Kiddie Chaos. We're thankful that when Beaner is not playing tennis, she can help taxi her siblings to and fro. No speeding tickets yet! And so it goes...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Labor of Love?

Chalupa is decorating a Birthday Bone Cake for Duckie the Dog. If you look closely you can see a pink duck in the corner of the bone. You can see a picture of a completed cake on the Woofables website.

This about sums things up. We continue our frenetic pace. School, work, play and Woofables consumes our time. Meanwhile the many usual chores around the house are tackled on an "as needed" basis. We're not sure how this will work once the weather warms.

On our list of things to do includes a new fence around the garden, and tilling the garden... oh, and planting the garden. The garage needs a good spring purge and cleaning. It always amazes me how quickly it fills up with junk. The holiday lights are piled in a corner, and the snow blower needs to be swapped out for the lawn mower.

Speaking of lawns, I'm debating whether or not to fertilize. God knows there's plenty of fertilizer from the dogs, but it's rather unevenly spread. And I confess being in denial about the weeds.

The running streak continues with no events on the calendar except the next two miles (tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, etc...). And so it goes....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Turning the Corner

Hot summer nights are not too, too far away, right? Travels abroad are done for another year. It was a good trip, and I was surprised by how much more comfortable I've become in a foriegn country. This will, I'm sure, be put to the test next year when we take two groups to China over a three week period of time. If I was home sick this year, I'm certain I'll suffer terminally next time around.

Travels now will be regular trips to Des Moines as we put the final students into seats for an Exec MBA Program to begin in May. Our numbers are a bit lower than expected, but should be enough to be worth our while.

Meanwhile back in IC, the kids are ramping up for a range of spring activities to include HS Tennis (Beaner), HS Soccer (Peanut), Competitive Soccer (Chalupa and Big Dawg) and competitve baseball (Big Dawg). This on top of a regular battery of music lessons and youth group activities. Crazy business.

Woofables experienced a ribbon cutting last week, under our (new) ownership. This went well. This tiny little business continues to be tiny, but growing incrementally. We couldn't do it without the help of Julie and JoAnn. Julie is our sole (non-family) employee, and JoAnn is our business Matriarch. It's all good.

This year's running streak has begun. I am dubious as to how long I'll be able to keep it going. Last year I managed 214 days (January 1 - Aug. 2), so far... 9 and counting. This year's streak began on the news that The Mankato Rookie has surpased 1000 days for his streak... quite amazing. He say's he's addicted. Poor kid. Dane's Ice Cream (pictured above) is my motivation. As many wise men say, "There's alway's room for ice cream", and I'm running to get my share. Ciao!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

On The Road ... again

"On The Road" by Jack Kerouac is one of my favorite books. And here I am, on the road again to Sao Paulo, Brazil (4th from right) with a few of our Exec MBA students. In total, there will be 39 of us touring businesses, organizations and the University to learn more about conducting business internationally. It was a nine hour flight from the states (give or take for some). Only one group got way laid and will arrive a day or two late.

One of our students was #1 for take off from Tokyo, when the earthquake hit. They would have been in the air had one passenger not get sick just prior to lift off. As Mr. Badding tells it, the plane was rocked and rolled. Eventually they were evacuated only to reboard a few hours later... Last thing Tokyo would need is more people to take care of. Mr. Badding arrived safe and sound Stateside, before hopping a plane down to Brazil to join us. What an adventure, huh?
This (below) is China Town market in Sao Paulo. It was bustling with activity today. Food, people, trinkets, trash, garments, and all sorts of flea market type items. Enough to take up an afternoon for shopping if we had that sort of time.
After the market we stepped into the 8th largest Cathedral in the world. Mass was going on and the place was SRO (standing room only). It was a spectacular sight. It was a spiritual moment to be sure.

Meanwhile, back Stateside, Sidetrack took the crew to Wisco to stop in a visit our former neighbors. Tomorrow, Beaner goes to Carthidge College (?) for a visit. We'll see. After that, they will all be Malled at Guerney Mills before heading back to the mother-land. So I guess we're all on the road... and we're not going to worry about roads not taken. Instead, we'll forge on to blaze trails and memories to last a lifetime. More for Brazil in a day or two.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

BD Big Dawg - Just Hanging

Here we see Big Dawg hanging out with Dad. He's coloring and I'm stuffing Tulip Biscuits into packaging for one of our Woofables customers. This particular customer orders 500 individually wrapped biscuits per week. so this is becoming somewhat of a nightly routine. As we scale the business, I'm confident we'll find an appropriate alternative to this time intensive work. In the interim, it's good to hang out with the Little Man.

In other news, Chalupa got the "All Clear" from her surgeon. She can now participate in all sports activities accept wrestling. They say that taking a break from sports is rejuvenating for many athletes. We thought this break might diminish her enthusiasm, but Chalupa is ready and raring to go. It will be interesting to see how sore she is after the first few days of practice!

As for sports. Peanut is ramping up for HS soccer, and Ellie tries out for the Tennis Team. Big Dawg is all in for his soccer activities so our house is in constant motion as the weather warms up.

There will be an up-tick in posts these next two weeks with a few upcoming events (Spring Break and related travel). So keep your eyes out for some varied input and updates. Ciao!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

40 years and counting

Little did we know, when we met more than 40 years ago, we'd still be hanging out together many years later. Our travels have included NYC, London, Fla, CO. There'll be more to come I'm sure. I was in Manhattan last weekend to celebrate Robert Dorfman's Bar Mizvah. It seems like yesterday (almost) when I attended Dorf's Bar Mizvah in Iowa City. Where does it all go?

Anyway, it was a magnificent event and beyond the nostalgia, it was fun to be back in Manhattan for a day. It was all too brief.

Next up, Des Moines, Omaha, Des Moines ... then 10 days in Brazil. It's quite the whirlwind.

Meanwhile, Woofables continues to grow it's reach to places such as Tennessee and Texas. We've added Pizza Biscuits and Pup Tarts. Our customers are gobbling them up.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An older picture from the Shed Aquarium in Chicago. It looks like the Big Dawg is contemplating greater things in life than just sea turtles... but then again, maybe that's wishful thinking on my part.

I realize today that I have a full set of toes and (more accurately) toe nails for the first time in 8 months. This may not sound like a big deal to many people, but let me tell ya... It's unnerving enough to have toenails fall off, but to watch the decrepit remains grow back ever so slowly is gruesome. Thankfully they are back and I'm whole again... until then next insanely long run in the woods.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A boy and his dog

This was the scene in our back yard earlier today. The hounds next door (from left, Nellie and Duffy) called Tootsie and Max out to play. It's difficult to imaging this patch of ground was covered in 18 inches of snow only two weeks ago. The thing I like about this picture is the fact that the dogs are all facing different directions. Although Max and Nellie seem to have sights set on something going on out front.
Speaking of dogs... here is a boy and a dog. Big Dawg and our Big Dog are hanging out on the couch. Big Dawg is ingrossed in some sort of I-Touch game, sigh. Not sure if that's better or worst than TV.

This past week marked Peanut's 15th birthday! They sure grow up fast, huh? Last night, she and her posse went to Olive Garden for dinner. To our relief, they were not kicked out.

Chalupa spent the week in and out of school and bed fighting persistent but not terminal flu-like symptoms. Of course she wants to go out Sat night with friends, and Sidetrack says those dreaded 6 words a dad never wants to hear, "I don't know, ask your father." UGH! So I have to play the heavy and say no. Who ever said I was a nice guy... better talk to my youngest daughter who would vehemently disagree right now.

Other than that... its business as usual in this neck of Iowa. Next weekend, I'll be off to NYC for the Bar Mitzvah of Robert D., son of my dear childhood friend, The Dorf. Should be fun, but there will be plenty of work when I return. Speaking of work, the annual Exec MBA International Seminar is coming up... back to Brazil (Sao Paulo and Rio). A busy time indeed. Oh for the dog days of summer. And that is the news for the week ending 11-19-11.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coming Soon ... Spring?

Spring must be around the corner. Today the temps surged above 40 degrees. Some of the snow appears to be melting. Now we we'll put up with the brown, crusty dregs of winter until about Easter. After that we're home free until next October.

The store was swamped today because of the second article (in as many months) to appear in the Iowa City Press Citizen. This one talked about Valentine's treats for dogs. Sidetrack had a couple of pics, and our treats looked spectacular.

All of the extra business prevented Sidetrack from getting to her "LIST" (the dreaded list). So in an effort to buy back that time, I'll go to the soccer banquet tonight while she gets caught back up on everything she didn't do earlier today. This will be my third year in a row... she has dodged this bullet for the last time!!! So Big Dawg, Chalupa and I are dining on hotel fare, and will take in all things juvenile soccer. Not all bad, but it does get loooOOOoong.

My mid term exam is 90% written. Testing services will help grade this bad boy (42 students) which is a good thing. I'm still on the hook for the essay portion, but that may not be too bad.

Now I've got to focus on two pending trips. First to NYC for at the end of the month, then a trek to Brazil. The next 90 days will be almost as nutty as last fall between recruiting students, international travel, adjustments at work, teaching and growing the business. Thankfully no property will change hands, but there are many operational moving parts (work, teaching, Woofables, kids) that will sweep us along like a strong tidal current. Ahoy!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Strange Week Indeed

As we dig out from this week's Blizzard, some people are shoveling more than walks and driveways. Snow-loads on roofs are a concern, especially for folks who have flat roofs. Not only is the weight something to worry about, but eventually, the snow will melt and the water will need to go somewhere. By shoveling the roof, this guy is easing those physical pressures, but I suspect he is relieving some psychological stress as well.

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl, and our family seems to generally support the Green Bay Packers. If we have a hold out, it's Beaner. She's spent more time in Pittsburgh than anyone in our family, so she has a soft spot in her heart for that place. But the rest of us hang our hats on our residency in Wisconsin for 5 years. And my particular loyalties stem back to the days of Vince Lombardi, Bart Star and John Brockington (yes, I'm THAT old).

Before the game, Big Dawg has two soccer matches, then I'll attend to customers at Woofables. We host a weekly dog walk at 2:00 which involves a social hour afterwards. This give the pets a chance to snack on a free treat, and the owners a chance to catch up on a weeks worth of "news".
The agenda for this upcoming week is a full slate of Orthodontist appointments, classes for Buzz and Sidetrack, and another trip to Des Moines. The season is in full swing and we are all focused on one day at a time. And so it goes....

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Morning After

This picture (above) does not do the blizzard much justice. This morning, when I opened our garage door, there was a wall of snow almost three feet tall. The largest drift in our driveway was almost 6 feet. It was crazy.

As you can see, the green car has snow almost reaching the top. The Mercedes was encased in a drift. These cars sat outside of my boss's condo. He has some temporary restrictions (due to a recent surgery) that prevent him from shoveling or snow blowing, so I picked him up and drove him into work. When we arrived on campus, we discovered that the place was all but shut down. The ground crews still hadn't shoveled the walks. There is a butt-load of snow to be removed... to be sure.
Kids were off from school, and the University (above) canceled classes - a rarity in it's own right. Now that the wind has calmed down, today might be a perfect snow day.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


This is the scene outside my window at work. Those familiar with the Iowa City Campus, I'm looking due East. The taller building on the left is Kate Daum Residence Hall. Straight ahead is the Lamda Chi Alph Fraternity House. And the brink structure on the right is "Old Brick".

The snow and wind are turbulant, and the heavy stuff is not due for several more hours. Kids got out of school at 1:00, and the University canceled classes for this evening and early tomorrow morning (a rarity). Tonight, we'll hunker down and play cards. We'll ride out the storm... and it promises to be a doosie.
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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hummin' Along

Chalupa is helping to teach Big Dawg how to use his new gmail account. I think the first thing she should have taught him is how to UNLOCK CAPITAL LETTERS! When I got into work the following morning I was inundated with a series of ALL CAP emails talking about boogers. Great, huh? Boys will be boys I guess.

And in a voice that sounded frighteningly like Napoleon Dynamite, BD came down to breakfast the next morning, "Oh, I've been emailing."

We continue to refine the Woofables business model and are now offering customized dog treats. To the best of our knowledge, we may be one of a handful of vendors that provide this service and believe ourselves (of course) to be the BEST.

The week ahead is more the same, work, teaching, Woofables, school, soccer, guitar, piano, driver's ed (Addy), and consulting. Buzz heads to Des Moines on Thursday, and Sidetrack will be in and out of Cedar Rapids a few times. Hopefully she'll be watching her speed as she makes these trips. We don't need any more photos taken from the speed enforcement cameras .

Onward and upward.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Deep Freeze

Well we woke up this morning and there were negative 12 degrees outside. Not quite as cold as MN, but darn cold none-the-less. The month is 2/3 of the way closer to Spring and that would be a good cure for cabin fever. When it's this cold, a person simply doesn't want to go outside. So we all hunker down in our bunkers (on campus, in school, at Woofables, in our offices, and in our rooms). As you can see below... event the cat is snuggling up to the dog to stay warm.
The executive MBA program has me in Des Moines about once a week. We're also in the midst of our mid-year budget review. Not exactly my cup of tea, but a necessary evil. Meanwhile this semester's class, E-Commerce Strategies for the Entrepreneur seems like a nice change from past semesters. I have more Liberal Arts students in this class, and they tend to be a bit more laid back (less high strung) than the business students.

As for Woofables, we're in the process of updating our biscuit shapes, so I'm making new cutting "presses" and Sidetrack is testing new recipes. Did you know that February is National Dental Month for Dogs? Yep! It sure is. So we are going to sell a peppermint flavored biscuit shaped like a bicuspid. Helps with bad doggie breath and settling on the stomach. I tried one, and it left my mouth feeling a bit winter fresh!

Sidetrack is swamped with consulting, and somehow she manages to balance the Shop and her teaching obligations. It's all really a blur to us. And the house is trashed. Not like Beaner's bedroom trashed, but it should could use a good Spring cleaning... maybe later this spring... when it warms up. . Maybe.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

One person's art, is another person's laundry

I got to wondering what gene causes messiness. I believe when I was growing up I was fairly clean and picked up. This may have been the result of strict parental requirements or just good, common sense. However, in college, I confess there were a few years where things got out of hand.

My recovery from college clutter began my junior year. I developed a new system to manage my laundry. After my clothes were clean they'd be put away and hung up. Then as clothes got dirty, instead of piling them on the floor of my room (see picture of Beaner's room above), I would toss them into the trunk of my car.

Then when I ran out of clothes, or when my trunk got full (which ever came first), I would drive to the laundry shop and clean the mess, and start all over. This seemed to be a good system.

I haven't shared this idea with Beaner for fear that she will ask for a car. And even if she did have a car, I'm not convinced she would use the trunk for this purpose... especially when the washer and dryer are just downstairs from her room.

She'll grow out of it. right? Hopefully sooner than later. Until then, you enter her room at your own risk and peril.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Don't Tire Seeing These

Last year, I went for a 7 mile run along the river, and to my surprise, I counted no fewer than 19 eagles.

Growing up in Iowa, my father would take me on the Winter Bird Count, conducted every December by the local Audubon Society. Each year, the counts would be recorded and benchmarked by species, and appearances. Over time, the data becomes one more environmental measurement that can be reviewed and evaluated.

This year, the big find was a pair of Trumpeter Swans that have recently been reintroduced to the upper Midwest. However, at the time I birdwatched with my father (the early to mid-70's) it was a BIG deal to see an eagle. Heck, we would drive out to the reservoir just to see if we could catch a glimpse of an eagle when they were rumored to be nesting out there. And sadly, I remember several disappointing, "empty handed" drives back to town when no eagle sightings were made.

Today at lunch I went for a walk along the river and counted no fewer than 28 eagles. They were either sitting in trees along the river (in the photo you can see three eagles very clearly, and in the upper right background you can see the shapes of three more), or soaring along the water looking for food.

It is indeed quite spectacular to see these magnificent birds with such frequency and proximity. I'm only sorry my father is not around to share these sights with me. But I can be thankful to enjoy them while I can; and to echo the words of my friend Crazy Pete, "I never get tired of seeing them".

Monday, January 10, 2011

As kid parties go... this was about as good as it gets. Big Dawg turned 8 in the middle of December, but postponed his birthday party until after the holiday chaos.

We packed 'em into the Par Tee Zone where the kids scrambled around the maze (like hamsters). After about an hour, we pulled them into a large room, offered up a frightening version of "Happy Birthday", fed 'em cake and ice cream (sugar), then released them back into the wild. There was a lot of energy in this group to be sure.

Big Dawg (back, left, in red) had a very nice time and I think the kids did too.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year's Pic with Pop

Peanut, Chalupa, Buzz and Beaner enjoy a New Year's hug. If I had to be surrounded by women... these are three that are as good as any! I'm a lucky father to be sure. Now I just need to remember where I keep that 12 gage... it may come in handy.