Monday, December 31, 2012

Remember New Years Eve at Legoland?

One year ago today we were at Legoland in Carlsbad, Calif., celebrating New Years Eve!

Although I'd moved back to Lancaster just a couple of weeks before, I still had stuff at the storage shed in Encinitas, so we quick stopped there to pick up some totes. It was a long drive!
Then we went to Legoland, as we had year-round passes. The big problem was a heavy fog off the ocean, though, which really obstructed the fireworks.

The foreworks were held a bit early - shortly after 6 p.m. or so when it is dark during winter. We wore special glasses so that the fireworks looked like Lego bricks in the sky!

Here's a couple of pictures from our trip!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Always tell the truth, no matter what

I'm very proud of you, Kieran, because during the past year you told the truth, a very important principle that I'd always tried to instill in you before others decided to cruelly keep us apart. Thanks to you being honest, we likely will be able to again be with one another.

Unfortunately, you will find yourself surrounded by people who believe telling the truth is only important if it serves their selfish purposes. While lying may benefit them in the short term, over the long haul one's lies have a way of catching up with you. The result is that more harm comes to them because on balance more people than not believe in telling the truth.

Why is telling the truth so important? Because our reputation is our worth in society. Once we lie, our reputation suffers, sometimes to the point where we lose things important to us. The heartache of losing what we value always is worse than the trouble we might get into if we are truthful.

Being honest is important because lying is unfair to others. People make decisions based on the assumption that what we've told them is the truth. We should not be unfair to others because it violates the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as they would do unto you." We would not want others to be unfair to us, so we should not be unfair to them.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My email sent to you Dec. 29, 2012

Here is the email I sent Dec. 29, 2012, in case you don't receive it:

Dear Kieran,

How are you doing today? I miss and love you very much!

I hope you’re enjoying winter break from school. Sometimes winter breaks can get awful long as you don’t get to see and play with your friends every day, but having free time to play with your own toys is fun, too.

What did you receive for Christmas? Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Chris and Aunt Suzy, and I had lots of fun picking our Christmas gifts for you. We still have a couple left to give, and I’ll be sure to bring those when we get together next Friday – which is in just six days!

I bet you’re having fun playing in the snow. Have you made a snowman yet? You always enjoyed going out into the snow in the mountains when we lived in California. We’d go sliding, make snowmen, and toss snowballs.

What do you plan to do for New Year’s Eve? A lot of people stay up until midnight so that they can say they were awake during the first minute of the new year. That’s staying up really late! Last year on New Year’s Eve, we went to the fireworks at Legoland. It was held at 6 p.m., and you fell asleep in the car on the way back home!

Have you read any good books lately? I have. It was “The Big Snow,” by Berta and Elmer Hader. It’s all about how geese, rabbits, deer, raccoons and chipmunks in a forest got ready for the first snowfall of winter. There are some very beautiful illustrations of animals in it. I bet your school library has the book; if not, your local city library probably does.

Well, that is all for now. I can’t wait to see you on Jan. 4, and in the meantime I look forward to receiving your email responding to mine.



Friday, December 28, 2012

My next teaching job

After working in New Mexico for two years, I came back to Wisconsin looking for a better paying job. I landed one in Merrill, Wisconsin, where I taught from fall 1994 to January 1999.

My first year was spent teaching English to eighth and ninth graders, The next year, our junior high became a middle school, and we changed to a "team teaching" concept. I taught English to eighth graders on the Delta Team, a five-teacher team, which I headed for four years.

During this time, I went to school during evenings at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and earned a Master's degree in English. I spent two years of night classes and summer school from fall 1996 to spring 1998 getting it done.

I also wrote a lot of short stories and even a couple of novels during this time! None of them are anything I'm particularly proud of, though each of them have their moments. It was more a lot of "practice" as I learned the craft of writing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Photos from Christmas 2013

Here's a collection of photos of our time together for Christmas 2012. I want you to know that each day I pray we will be together on Christmas 2013, and that every day I work hard to rectifying this cruelty done to the two of us. There is not an hour in a day that passes in which I do not think of you. I love you very much!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Seeing the statues at Western University

A year ago today we stopped off to see some life-sized art with a visit to the bronze statues by internationally renowned sculptor Seward Johnson on display at the Western University of Health Sciences campus in Pomona, Calif.

We'd seen the statues before during the many times we'd visited the campus. Your mother was enrolled in an FNP program there while you were a preschooler. You always were fascinated by them, especially the one of two painters (see photo at above right).

I remember that we were on on our way to Disneyland that morning, and you asked if we could stop to see the statues! We were driving just a few miles away from them, so I said, sure.

Here's a whole bunch of photos of our visit to the bronze statues.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Some pensive thoughts about time...

Today, my son, I'm struck once again by how fast life moves and how we cannot waste a single minute of it. Looking back at photos of us and of myself with others, the memories seem as if they were just made yesterday, though they happened months if not years ago. All too often, we let time flow by thinking that there's always tomorrow. But now that tomorrow is here, we can't recapture those'll never be a preschooler again, we don't live in California, we're no longer with a person we love.

I'm glad that when with you I tried to make every minute count. We did do a lot of fun things together, went on a lot of adventures, explored many new places. Those days will come again, and we'll find new ways to have fun, hatch new adventures, and explore new locales. For the moment, though, without you here to do that, all I have is my memories, and they will have to be sweet enough to counter emptiness' bitter taste.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas photos through the years

Christmas 2011
I am very sad that we do not get to spend Christmas together this year. We've had lots of fun Christmases together through the years, and I've included some photos of them (The link takes you to the 2011 photos).

We always started our holiday season by putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the house on Thanksgiving day. You always liked to help with that, especially putting the ornaments on the tree. Once the tree was all finished and the lights turned on, you'd stare at it in awe of its prettiness.

We also went to lots of different places to celebrate the holidays. Among them was Disneyland, of course, but in 2011 we also did Legoland a couple of times. Legoland was neat because it created a a special snowy area to play in - and we's go into it wearing shorts because the temperature was 72 degrees in San Diego!

I love you and miss you very much - Merry Christmas, Kieran!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rainbows and waterways in Lancaster

You might recall that a waterway ran behind our green house when we lived in Lancaster, California. A tall brick wall separated the waterway from our yard, but every once in a while I'd lift you up high so you could see over.

Living in the desert, we never got too much rain, so there wasn't much of a flow in the waterway. You can see from one of the pictures here how little water there was, even after six days of rain (and 5 inches total!) this time in 2010!

But what's really neat about these photos is that two years ago yesterday (or on Dec. 22, 2010), the sun finally came out after those six days of rain - and we got to see some great rainbows together!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My email to you from Dec. 22, 2012

Here is my email to you sent Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, just in case you do not receive it:

Hi Kieran,

It was so good to see you yesterday! I had a lot of fun and am very happy you enjoyed all of the presents from Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Chris and Aunt Susie, and Santa!

I received your email as well yesterday. It was a little odd, though, as it appeared to be written earlier in the week though the date stamp was Friday night.

Thank you for the birthday wishes. I remember very well the night that you were born, and based on what Grandma and Grandpa have told me, the days we were born were very similar! I had to drive through snow to get to the hospital where your mother was, and so did my dad have to drive to the hospital to where my mother was! It also was nighttime when we drove, so it was very dark.

I appreciate that when we were together you sang the songs you did in your Christmas program. You have a wonderful voice, and I’m very impressed that you were able to remember all of those words! I am sorry I was not able to be at the programs this year, but hopefully I will be at them next year. I bet getting on the stage to sing was a lot of fun!

It is great to hear that you like the snow. You always did when we went into the mountains after a snowfall. Do you have your own sled? My school had a sledding hill behind it that we always got to use during recess, so every year I got a new sled. All of my classmates and me always decorated our sleds with magic markers, drawing cool flames or airplane symbols on them.

I’m so glad you and your classmates brought toys to the TV station. There are many children who are less unfortunate than we are and so get very little or even nothing at all for Christmas. You helped to make many other kids’ Christmas very special rather than a sad day. Giving always is more fun than receiving, though it may not seem like that at first. I wish I would have known about your school’s plans, as I would have donated toys, too, for you to deliver.

You have a wonderful Christmas, and I hope you receive all that you ask for. I miss you very much and can’t wait to see you in just a couple of weeks!



Friday, December 21, 2012

It was so good to see you again!

Opening Transformers present, Dec. 21, 2012.
I had so much fun with you this afternoon, Kieran! I'm glad we had the opportunity to play, and I'm so happy that you liked all of your presents.

The Hot Wheels cars you liked so much were from Uncle Chris and Aunt Susie. The got one more present for you, but I ran out of room for it in the tote I was carrying and I need to get batteries for it! I will bring it when we get together in January. The Imaginext superheroes, game cards, and Christmas cookies were from Grandma and Grandpa.

I really enjoyed hearing you sing the Christmas songs you did for your school program. You have a great voice, and I'm very impressed that you could remember so many words!

In a few days, I will post our Chistmas pictures online with this other set of photos, which are of our Christmases past.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Recall going on the aircraft carrier?

Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011: Manning the control center.
One year ago today we went to downtown San Diego and visited the USS Midway aircraft carrier. We'd gone there several times before, and by this time you were starting to really know your way around that old naval vessel! Among your favorite parts of the ship were:
g Conning tower - The two big areas here that you liked were the operations room where war operations were tracked (and where you liked to pretend you were a naval officer ordering the jets and other ships) and the captain's office, where a mannequin of the captain talked to you!
g Flight deck - Kids could sit in the cockpit of several jet planes and pretend to be flying them!
g Helicopters - On top of the carrier where the planes would take off were static displays of several aircraft; you always loved the helicopters because you could inside them and have pretend adventures.

There were lots of other sections we went to, including engineering, the brig, the store, and the deck for lunch.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our trip!

I would love to see your drawings

One of your favorite things to do when we were together was to show me your drawings - often we'd even draw or paint or color together. Seeing your artwork also was one of my favorite things to do! I remember how you liked to draw pictures of "Star Trek" characters and Army soldiers when you were four and five; I've kept many of them.

I mention this now because your cousin, Rebekah, likes to color pictures and show them to me. Last night, she drew a whole bunch of pictures and aksed me to come up with a story about them! It made me lonely for your drawings and for you.

What kinds of things to draw and color now? I'd like to see them!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Your picture graces covers of two books!

I'm proud to say, Kieran, that your picture graces the bookshelves of many homes and bookstores across the North American continent and even overseas. As you may know, I write (as well as edit) books for a living, and inspired by our many great hikes we took before you began going to school, I wrote a couple of hiking books about our journeys. Both of those books, Hikes with Tykes: A Practical Guide to Day Hiking with Kids and Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities, include a picture of you on the cover.

The photo on Hikes with Tykes: A Practical Guide to Day Hiking with Kids was taken in the Angeles National Forest on the Manzanita Trail, just off of State Hwy. 2. It's a neat area, the site of an old faultline. You can see wher the faultline used to ran because one side of the trail is red, the location of old clay deposits only a few tens of thousands of years old, while the the other side of the trail is white, the location of old granite that is at least 70 million years old!

The photo on Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities was taken when you were four years old at Vasquez Rocks in Southern California. You used to call it the "Kirk Rocks" because the "Star Trek" episode in which Captain Kirk fought the Gorn was filmed there. In fact, "Gorn Rock" is behind you in the photo.

I mention this because earlier this week Seattle Backpackers Magazine ran a nice review of Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities, and I was remined how you played such an important role in helping me create those books - mainly by giving me the experiences to write them. I've dedicated both boths to you as well!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Trip to Legoland one year ago today

A year ago yesterday (Dec. 17, 2011), we spent the day at Legoland in Carlsbad, Calif. This would be one of the last times we visited Legoland. In another month, I'd move back to Palmdale/Lancaster so that I could be closer to you.

We began the morning with our usual breakfast at Denny's in Encinitas and then went to Moonlight Beach. The day at Legoland was spent doing our usual activities: building Bioncles together, several rides on the Aquazone, running through the Medieval play castle, and some time spent at the Legoland town playground!

Among the highlights was going on the DuneRiders slide. I was so proud of you as you overcame your fear of going down the tall and high slide and went on it for the first time! Once you realized how fun it was, you wanted to go on it over and over and over again!

There's a whole bunch of pictures of us enjoying the day together!

Monday, December 17, 2012

My birthday wish

Today is my birthday, and I have only one wish: That I could see you. Even a phone call or an email would be okay. Unfortunatley, several people who have very sick minds have prevented us from being together today or even being able to communicate with one another. I do not feel angry toward these people, though, and I hope you do not either, for the sickness of their minds prevents them from knowing right or wrong, prevents them from understanding the deep hurt they have caused. In any case, we shall prevail, and should dedicate our energies today to realizing our wish for the day that did not come true.

Last year on this day, we drove to San Diego together to pick up some of my belongings at my trailer. I had moved earlier that week back to Lancaster/Palmdale so that I could be closer to you. After we filled my car full of totes, we spent a few hours at Legoland and then on our drive back, stopped at Chuck E Cheese's in a suburb north of San Diego - I think it was Vista - where we had a great time playing games and eating pizza. I even have a picture of us taken where you sit in a booth and a machine draws us.

For me, the past 12 months truly lived up to Charles Dickens' oft-quoted words, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." But I hold a strong belief that during the year ahead we will be reunited, and then it truly will be a time "of wisdom...a season of Light...the spring of hope" in which we have "...everything before us."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Don't call other people bad names!

It’s about this time in life, Kieran, that you may run into the problem of name-calling. This is when someone calls you a name that is hurtful or perhaps you call someone a name that makes him or her feel bad. They might call you a “slowpoke” or a made-up word like a “dweeb”. Or you might hear other children telling a classmate that she’s “fat” or “stupid.”

People call each other names because they are hurting inside. They don’t feel good about themselves, and the only way they can feel “better” is by make others feel bad.

And while they may feel better for a little while, they are not a “better” person. No one who hurts another person is a “good” person.

I don’t believe you’re the kind of boy who would call other kids names, for I always taught you as a child to respect others’ differences. Still, sometimes as young people, we get caught up in what our friends are doing and so we fall into a bad habit of calling others names. Sometimes, we see important adults around us calling others names and so we think it’s all right.

It’s never all right to call another person a name. If we have done so, we should tell them we’re sorry and promise not to do it again. Then we should keep that promise. And if we hear others calling people names, we should find a way to get them to stop; at the very least, we should not participate.

If you are ever called a name, do not let it bother you (though I know it does hurt!). When others call people names, they really show how immature and mean they are. Their words only can hurt you if you let them hurt you – and it’s only in your own mind that you think their words are of any value.

OK, enough of my lecture. Go have some fun!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My email sent to you on Dec. 15, 2012

Sledding in the Angeles National Forest,
December 2010.
Here is the email I sent to you on Dec. 15, 2012, just in case you do not receive it:

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing? I’m doing well though I miss you quite a lot and every day. I am very concerned, though, that I haven’t received an email responding to any of my three previous emails. Please confirm that you received this one with a response and have your mother send the previous emails as they have not arrived.

I am very excited because I get to see you next Friday on Dec. 21! We should have lots of fun playing games and playing with toys as well as reading a book or two, and just plain catching up on all that you’ve been doing. I’ll also be bringing lots of Christmas presents from me, Grandma and Grandpa, your Uncle Chris and Susie, and one or two that Santa left at my house for you!
Have you enjoyed all the new snowfall? It’s great for building snowmen and snow forts. When I was a little boy, we’d go sledding during winter. My school had a big hill behind it that we could take sleds up and slide down. I bet you remember the times we drove up into the mountains and went sledding together – my schoolmates and I used sleds just like the one we used.

What do you plan to do for Christmas vacation? While getting an extra day or two off of school was fun, I always missed my friends when I wasn’t in class and so wished for vacation to end! What do your friends plan to do during vacation?

Are you having a big Christmas party at school? I always liked the Christmas parties when I went to school because we exchanged presents, and everyone brought in fun foods that their mother’s or father’s made. It was neat to taste cookies and bars and other sweets other kids’ parents baked!

Have you read any good books lately? I bet you have, knowing how much you like to read and have stories read to you. This past week I read “Reindeer Christmas” by Mark Kimball Moulton. In the book, two young children and their grandmother find a hungry and lost baby deer in the woods. So they take in the fawn, feeding and nursing it back to health. Except when the deer grows up, they find it’s not exactly a deer! Can you guess what the baby deer grew up to be?

That is all for now. I love you and miss you very much and can’t wait to see you on Friday – and to get those missing emails!



Friday, December 14, 2012

My first teaching job in New Mexico

In August 1992, I switched careers and moved to New Mexico! It was quite a monumental year!

I had been in newspapering for three-plus years and with the economy hurting was having difficulty finding a job at a larger newspaper. A college friend of mine who lived in the Southwest convinced me to apply for a teaching job there, and I did. The school principal interviewed me by phone on a Thursday, offered me a job on Friday, and told me school started on Tuesday!

So I packed up everything and drove to my new home - Deming, New Mexico. It is very close to the Mexico border and in the desert. It was quite a culture shock!

I taught English and journalism there. The first here, I taught grades 9-12 at both the middle and the high school. The second year, I taught grades 8-9 at the middle school.

I am still friends today with many of the students I taught all those years ago!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My afterlife experience

Did I ever tell you about my afterlife experience? I was in the University of Minnesota Hospital for lyme's disease in July 1991. While a nurse was putting in a new IV, I started to get woozy and fainted. My heart had stopped!

I felt as if I were floating above the nurse's station and could see myself walking really quickly past it toward an incredibly bright white light. While the light wasn't blinding, I couldn't see through it. Then a voice said, "It's not your time."

I woke up, laying on a hospital bed with all of these people desperately scurrying around me. I had no idea where I was or how much time had passed (I initially thought three weeks had passed!).

When I told the nurses and doctors what happened, they just smiled - but I was the talk of the hospital floor for the next week!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My very first job after college

After college, my first big job was with the newspaper in Red Wing, Minn. I was offered the job in April, about a month before I graduated from college, and I actually started before I'd finished taking my final exams!

I got my very first apartment in Red Wing. It was very large - two bedrooms - and there was a small farm with horses next to it (the apartment building was at the city's edge). In the morning when I'd wake up, I could hear the horses neighing in the background while I enjoyed breakfast.

At the newspaper, I covered Wisconsin news for the paper, which meant writing about Pierce and Pepin counties, where the Red Wing paper was circulated. I also was a copy editor once a month, working on Friday nights editing and designing the Saturday edition.

Interestingly, I can't seem to find any pcitures of my time in Red Wing!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Remember visiting 'the cowboy museum'?

A year ago today we visited the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles. You always called it "the cowboy museum"!

The autumn of 2011 and through the early winter of 2012, you were very interested in the Old West. I bought you some cowboy play figures that you named "Sheriff Jack", "The Deputy", "Calamitous Jane", "Baby Kieran", "Baby Kieran's Mom" and so on.

In the photo at above right, you pretended to be Sheriff Jack riding his horse "Luke" while at the Autry National Center.

I was The Deputy. No name, just "The Deputy." I'm honored to have served with you, Sheriff Jack!

Here are a whole bunch of other photos from our trip.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My teaching, journalism internships

While in college, I studied journalism and English but also took many courses about teaching. My college degree actually is a Bachelors of Science in Education.

This allowed me lots of flexibility when I graduated. With my journalism and English majors, I could go into communications - such as newspapers, magazines, book publishing, public relations, etc. With my education degree, I could teach English or journalism to grades 7-12.

In fact, I spent a semester of my college years (Sept.-Dec. 1988) teaching English and journalism to high school students! I did my "student teaching" at Park High School in Cottage Grove, Minn.

I also did an internship at a newspaper. The summer before I student taught (June-Aug 1988), I worked as a copy editor at the Duluth (Minn.) News-Tribune.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Highest UWRF honor: Chancellor's Award

One of my proudest achievements during my college days was receiving the Chancellor's Award in spring 1988 at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

It was the highest award given each year to campus, and only a few students received it. You have to good grades in your classes and be involved in campus leadership to qualify for the award.

For the award, I received  a big, heavy medal on a ribbon to wear around my neck. I got to wear it at my graduation ceremony (of which I led the march of graduating students to the amphitheater in spring 1989).

Unfortunately, I no longer have the medal (though I do have the cerficate). Somehow in all of the confusion when Jane moved out of the condo, some of my personal belongings - including that medal - were in the boxes that ended up in her moving van.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My email sent to you on Dec. 8, 2012

Here is the email I sent to you on Dec. 8, 2012, just in case you don’t receive it:

Hi Kieran,

How are you doing? I hope all is going well for you. I miss you and love you very much. Unfortunately, I did not receive a response to either of my last two emails. Perhaps you could ask you mother to resend your responses to me.

How is school going? What new things are you learning there? When we were last together, you said you were learning about letters. Have you got to the letter “m” yet? Since we’re getting close to the middle of the school year, you might be there (or must be really close!).

Is your school putting on a holiday program? I wish I could be there to see it! Your cousins Bryan and Rebekah had a holiday program at their schools. They sang songs with their classmates. What is your program called and what do you get to do in it (If you school is having a holiday program that is!).

My schools always had holiday programs, but we called them “Christmas Programs.” Today, though, there are many people who are not Christians that attend schools, so they do not celebrate Christmas. They may celebrate other holidays though; for example, if you are Jewish you would celebrate Hanukkah at this time of year. Many of us, even if we’re Christian, try to show our respect for other people’s religions and beliefs by referring to it as a “holiday program” rather than a “Christmas program.”

Have you written your letter to Santa yet listing what you want for Christmas? What is on your list? Be sure to leave cookies and milk for him on Dec. 24 so that you get lots of presents when he comes to your house (In Wisconsin, children leave him cheese, so they get even MORE presents!)!

How are your friends doing? What do they want for Christmas or other holidays their families might be celebrating? Have you done any fun things with them?

Have you read any good books lately? I did. It was called “Morris’ Disappearing Bag,” by Rosemary Wells. Morris got a disappearing bag for Christmas. Nobody believes it works, until he jumps into the bag and becomes invisible! Everyone then wants to play with Morris and his disappearing bag, but first they have to find him because he’s still invisible! It was a very humorous book to read.

That is all for now. I’m to see you on Dec. 21 and am looking forward to it. I have all kinds of fun presents that your grandparents, aunt and uncle, cousins, me and even Santa have left for you. Be a good boy – and don’t forget to tell mom to resend those missing emails!



Friday, December 7, 2012

Elected Winter Carnival King in 1988

Dad (me) on right and Billie Jo on left
in Winter Carnival competition.
Did you know that in college I was the Winter Carnival king? In early 1988, I was living in the upperclassman dorm, and a bunch of my dormmates convinced me and a friend, named Billie Jo (she was an exchange student from Nebraska), to run for carnival king and queen to represent the dorm. A vote was held in the dorm, and we won!

The winter carnival theme that year was "Hooray for Hollywood," so we had to do all kinds of skits and competitions related to that theme. The posters we made matched that used on the "Top Gun" movie posters, and we did a skit from "Revenge of the Nerds".

We received points for the skits and contests, and then a campus-wide vote was held. We won again!

The week was a lot of fun. Maybe one day you'll also run to be a carnival king at your school!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"3, 2,1, Blast off!"...Playing "Countdown"

When you were a baby, one of my favorite things to play with you was "Countdown". I'd hold you in front of me and then count backward from 10, and after reaching one would go "Blast off!" and lift you really fast above me then hold you up there and say "And baby is on his way to the moon!" You'd laugh gleefully every time!

After a few times of playing the game, though, when I'd get to three in the countdown you'd shut your eyes really tight and tense up in anticipation of the quick blast off! Once I got you in the air, though, you'd open your eyes and giggle as wiggling your hands and feet in the open air!

You always were disappointed when I brought you back to Earth - I think you wanted to fly!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Campus literary magazine editor

In addition to being the editor of the campus newspaper when I was in college, I also was the editor of the campus literary magazine, called Prologue, for three years. When I was a freshman and a sophomore in college, I'd gotten writings published in them, and I was an English major, so I was a natural for the job! The magazine published short stories, poems and essays.

As editor, I changed the look of Prologue so that it was the size of an actual magazine. Then I got artwork for the cover, which ran in color, something we'd never done before. To keep costs low, I lowered the quality of the paper within the magazine.

We produced the magaine at the campus newspaper office, which made it very easy to do, as I became lit mag editor after I was the newspaper editor.

Would you believe that I'm still friends with people I met while working on Prologue?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My involvement in college forensics

While in college, I was actively involved in forensics - or speaking contests (Not the science of how people died, which is another definition of the word!). I participated in forensics during the first four years of college.

At first, my big events were prepared serious speeches, such as communication analysis, informative, and persuasive speaking. My speeches included an analysis of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos", toothpaste, and bilingual education.

But my biggest success came in making up speeeches off the top of my head, specifically extemporaneous speaking and impromptu speaking. In extemp, you're given a political question and have 30 minutes to write a speech about it; you can use one note card. In impromptu speaking, you're given a quotation and have up to 2 minutes to come up with a 5 minute speech about it. In both categories, I took second place in state during spring 1988 and went on to nationals.

I also was president of my campus' honorary forensics society, Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My work as campus newspaper editor

Campus newspaper offices
During college, I was the editor of my campus newspaper. The paper was called the Student Voice.

I began just helping the newspaper staff on Wednesday nights during my freshman year. Then I was asked to be the Arts and Entertainment editor, which I did during my sophomore year. In March of that year, I was named editor, a position I held for the next 12 months.

While the editor, I oversaw a staff of 72, redesigned the newspaper, and expanded its size to include more stories. It was a lot of work, and I had to cut back on my class load to make time for it all!

It also was a lot of fun. Many good friends were made during that time, and I learned a lot about newspapers, my abilities, and how to be a leader.

Maybe one day you would like to work on a publication, like a newspaper or a magazine?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Where I went to college in 1984

Freshmen Academic Honors I received in May 1985.
After graduating from high school in 1984, I went off to college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. My original majors were going to be broadcast journalism and political science (I wanted to be a radio news reporter/announcer). I was on the campus radio station as a DJ and announced news my first year of college.

But I found the political science classes a bit dull and liked working with the people at the campus newspaper (which I also participated in during my first year of college), so I switched my majors to print journalism and English! Then I added an education degree to it so I could be a teacher.

I lived in the dormitory Hathorn Hall my first and second years of college. Then  I spent the next two years in the upperclassman's Prucha Hall dormitory and my final year lived off campus across the street from the college.

I had lots of fun at college and achieved many things there; I'll tell you more about them in future entries!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My email sent to you on Dec. 1, 2012

Here is my email sent to you on Dec. 1, 2012, in case you don’t receive it:

Hi Kieran,

Hope you are doing well. I miss and love you very much! I was surprised to not receive a response to my last email, which I sent Nov. 25. Quite a number of your email responses somehow are not getting to me! Perhaps you could have your mother resend all of them, especially your one from this past week.

How is school going? What kinds of things are you learning about? I recall you telling me that you were studying the phases of the moon. Have you moved on to other space topics?

The last time we were together, you mentioned that the guinea pigs in your classroom were looking for a new home. Did they find one yet? Where did they go?

Christmas is coming up - it'll be here in a little more than three weeks! What presents have you put on your list to Santa? What presents do your friends want? When I was in kindergarten, for Christmas I got a GI Joe doll and the "There's a Monster at the End of this Book" storybook. I got other toys and books as well, but those are the only two gifts I remember!

Speaking of books, have you read any good new ones lately? I did - it was called “Santa’s Secrets Revealed” by James Solheim. It's about this boy named Stevie who doesn't believe Santa could possibly deliver toys to so many boys and girls in just one night. So Santa takes him on a tour of his high-tech facilities and shows him how the elves and reindeer really get the presents to everyone! It was a very humorous book.

We are scheduled to visit one another on Friday, Dec. 7. I can't wait to see you - and I'll be bringing some Christmas gifts that Santa dropped off at my house for you!

Be a good boy, and I'll see you soon!