Is This Thing On???

“How do you jump back in the game when it’s been five years since your last post?” I don’t really have an answer to that question, which is why I wrote and then deleted so many versions of the first few paragraphs of this post. Since in all of the versions I was trying to answer that question, eventually I just decided to write out the question and answer it directly.

Once I answered that question, I had some other questions I wanted to answer, so I used them as writing prompts.

“Who is the audience of this site?” Of course if I’m going to get this site going, I need to figure out who I’m writing for. The answer to that question is easy. This site is for me. My audience is me. It’s a public blog and I don’t have any intention on making it private, but first and foremost, I’m writing for myself.

I see this site as a place to practice writing. I want to hone my skills as a writer, and I need a place for creative output. For too long I’ve been a consumer of creativity and not a creator. This post is the first step towards fixing that.

“Why Now?” I love playing music, but it’s been years since I’ve had the discipline to really do it. I love photography, but I haven’t really buckled down and made it a priority. I love writing, but I left a primary place for the outlet of that creativity abandoned for almost five years. I’m renewing my efforts at stopping that trend now.

“Why didn’t you post this to _______?” I’m conflicted about sharing these updates through social media. I claim that the audience is me, and I’m not writing for anyone but me, but on the other hand, I can use social media as a motivating force. I can let the people there hold me accountable. I can benefit from any feedback I might get. Let’s face it. If I don’t share this post on twitter, or facebook it’ s not going to get read by many. This site doesn’t show up in the first several pages of Google listings when searching for my name.

I think I’m going to work at establishing a voice for myself and once I’ve proven that I’m taking this thing seriously, then I’ll share it. I have a lot of thoughts about what this site can be, and none of them are very focused. It’s a garbled mush of concepts, none of which are fully formed. I’ll use this space to practice writing, establish a voice and then I’ll consider sharing it with people around e.

“What will you write about?” I want this place to tell a story. My story. That story is multi-faceted. I work in tech, I follow tech news, I take photos, I play games, I drink beer, I listen to music, I travel, I play music (occasionally), I make beer, I make cheese (some). All of these aspects should be reflected here. But mostly, this will be a place to write. To practice writing, and get disciplined about it.

So, alas it has begun.  I updated the blog like I’ve been telling myself I would for the last 4.9 years. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be.

Gary

Remembering Gary, one year on…

Today is a sad anniversary for our family. It was a year ago today that Angie’s dad, Gary lost his two and a half year bout with pancreatic cancer. In honor of his time with us, the Minnesota contingent of the Hanning clan got together for a dinner. Angie was able to head in that direction already for Christmas so she will be able to join them for this celebration. I however, won’t be able to attend the festivities, so this is my contribution.

I have been around the family long enough that I truly felt like Gary was my second father. I miss his stories (even if he would tell you the same story 10 times in a day), his kindheartedness, and his no nonsense way of life. He was a big role model in my life, and I know that he touched many others in this same way. He lived with his cancer with a dignity, grace, and perseverance that no one who encountered him during this time will soon forget. We love you Gary and you are missed every day.

Underwater Blues

Of course the news in Waukesha for the last few days has been the incessant rain we had over the weekend, and the subsequent flooding.After almost five years of living in the condo we finally learned why the street was called Mallard Pointe. On Sunday we got up and looked in our back yard and found that some ducks had found the pond that used to be our yard. We had it lucky though, as we were spared the worst of the flooding. The bridge by our old apartment was under water, and most of the bridges in Waukesha were closed due to flooding.

On Monday I was able to cross off something that has been on my life list, as we saw B.B. King in concert. We started out by going to Mo’s Irish Tavern and having dinner. The food was pretty good and the service was excellent. We then headed over to Potowatomi Casino to catch the show. We got to the casino a little early, so we decided to put some money in the slot machines. I started with $20 and stoped when I was up to $55, Angie on the other hand wasn’t so lucky and she spent her $20.

The concert was fantastic. The venue is small, with the first floor being made up of tables, and a balcony above. We were on the first floor in Row E all the way to stage Left, but our view was great. At 82 years old, he showed why he’s the king of the blues. My only complaint was that the show was too short. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to bring a camera to the show, so I’ll settle for this picture from Flickr.

BB King
Tour de despedida do Mestre do Blues, Mr. BB King.
Vivo Rio, 07/12/2006, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

Uploaded by Elias Gass on 15 Jan 07, 7.05PM CDT.

A New Graduate

We’ve had a very busy weekend, and although it was fun I’m glad it’s finished. After the fishing trip we came back home and had people show up for Angie’s graduation party.  We had about 40 people come for the open house on Saturday afternoon. The weather was great and a good time was had by all.

Today Angie’s parents, grandparents and I went to see her graduate from Cardinal Stritch. She got her masters degree in instructional technology and we are all very proud of her.  She worked hard for the last two years for the right to wear the funny cap and gown. Even though she couldn’t figure out how to wear the sash correctly, she still proved that she knows a thing or two.

After the ceremony we went to one of Angie’s favorite restaurants Yokoso for some sushi.  It was excelent as always. The meal was extra fun because her grandparents had never had sushi before, and weren’t well practiced with chopsticks.  They were good sports and insisted on ordering themselves a king crab roll to share, and only ate with their chopsticks even though we had the waitress bring them out some silverware. Angie’s grandpa Gale really liked the wasabi and didn’t want to see it go to waste so he ate it in larger portions than any of us would be able to handle.  They said they really liked it, and even took some chopsticks back with them so they could show off their skills to their friends in Illinois.

Angie’s parents and grandparents are leaving to go home tomorrow, and we’re all pretty beat from the excitement around here this weekend so I’m off to bed.

Salmon Fishing

1381

I went salmon fishing yesterday afternoon and this morning in Winthrop Harbor Illinois. We had a group of six guys that went. It was Gary, his father Gale, his college roommate Mike, my dad, my uncle Carl, and me. Gale is from Rushville IL, Mike is from outside of Springfield, IL. Gary is from Minneapolis, and My dad and Carl are from Western Wisconsin, so we had quite a geographical representation on the boat.

We got on the boat Thursday afternoon around 1:00, and after everyone arrived, we took off around 1:30 and fished until almost 7:00 PM. We came up short of our limit for Thursday’s fishing with 18, but what we lacked in numbers we made up for in quality. We had some nice sized King salmon and not as many of the smaller Coho salmon as we were expecting.

1373

Our hotel rooms were included in the price of the trip, and they didn’t put us up in some dive motel either. We stayed at the Radisson in Pleasant Prairie, in large rooms that had a king sized Sleep Number bed, and a separate area with a pull out couch. We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant, a Milwaukee area chain called the Chancery, where we had good food and large beers. After dinner Gary wanted to sit in the hot tub so he did that while the rest of us went to bed to be ready for our early morning of fishing.

This morning the alarm went off at 4 AM, and we were on the boat by 5 ready to go fishing some more. By about 10:30 we had caught our limit and then some and we headed back into shore. This time we got some trout, king salmon, and more cohos. There were a few times where we had multiple fish on the line at a time, and we even had three on at a time at least once.

1383

This was my second trip fishing in Lake Michigan, and both times were a lot of fun. We went through Kinn’s Sportfishing both times, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. From the comfortable and clean boats, to the friendly professional staff, to the excellent accommodations these guys know how to treat their guests. We joked that this wasn’t really fishing, it was more like catching since they did all the hard work and we just had to reel in the fish. Mike told the story of another company he had gone through out of Kenosha, and he said they were the polar opposite of Kinns. We were all very happy, and we will all be back fishing with Kinn’s again.

We came home and fired up the grill and ate some of the salmon right away. I made one with butter and lemon juice, and the other with a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon pepper, and garlic powder. Both fish turned out fantastic. I can’t wait to eat the rest of the salmon we have now.

Springtime for Mosey

894

Spring has sprung, and that means the backyard and the conservancy that is adjacent to our yard starts bustling with activity. This is great for us, because watching the wildlife in the conservancy is one of the greatest attractions of living near one. What is good for us is hard for Mo. He’s such a loving and playful dog that seeing and hearing animals that he can’t play with is like torture.

All I can say is he’s lucky he’s so cute, because I don’t think i could put up with his antics much longer if he wasn’t.  Here’s hoping he gets used to sharing the backyard with the animals again soon.

Hairless (For Now)

1339

I’ve been challenged to partake in the phenomenon known as International Mustache Month. So I’ve shaved all facial hair off and now I’m feeling like a hairless cat.

We’ll see how this works out. I’ve never grown a full beard, but I’ve had some sort of facial hair since 1997. At first I just had a goatee with no mustache, but in about 2003 I filled in the mustache, and that’s been a prominent part of my face since then. I didn’t think to take a before photo, but I do have a fairly recent photo of me with facial hair for a comparison.

1332

The idea is simple: grow your beard throughout February, then shave back to a glorious mustache for a gala beer party at the end of the month.

On this site, we will chronicle the saga of the hairiest month, detail the ever-important rules, and provide a home for temporarily mustachioed men to unite.

1336

Let the excitement commence.

Holiday Time and a Media Blitz

Well, the holidays are upon us already, and I’m not sure I’m ready for them. There’s a radio station in Milwaukee that’s been playing nothing but Christmas songs since November 1st. Seriously? Two months of Christmas songs??!? I grew up going to choir rehearsals and band practices and we would start with the Christmas repertoire pretty early in the season, but this is ridiculous. It’s one thing to sing Christmas songs twice a week for a few hours at a time, but All Christmas since November 1st?

On a related note, Angie wanted me to put up the Christmas tree two weekends ago, and I refused on principle. November 10th is too early for a tree. I relented and was going to do it this last weekend, but I was helping Steve cover the boat on Saturday, and enjoyed a lazy Sunday. I guess we’ll get our tree up after Thanksgiving like normal Americans.

I’ve been playing a slew of new games as I’m caught square in a media blitz this year. Some years it seems like very few good games come out, and at the very least they are spaced out enough to give you time to play one before the next blockbuster comes out. Here’s the laundry list of games I’ve been keeping busy with and a few of my impressions of the games. (In no particular order)

Halo3: Since this seems to be THE game this year, I should start with it. I enjoyed the single player, and Co-Op was excellent. I suck at the multiplayer, and haven’t devoted much time to it because of this. Even though I gripe about the console controls, they really aren’t as bad as the PC Fanboys make them out to be.

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts: the stand alone expansion to one of the best RTS games I’ve ever played. This new chapter is just as good as the original. It’s fresh, yet familiar, and even though I can’t get the hang of the new factions because they are so dramatically different from the original CoH, I will be playing this game for a long while.

The Orange Box: I’m not sure which part I like the best in this package. Portal is fantastic, and I can’t wait to see where they take that franchise (Please let there be more Jonathan Coulton in any future Portal games!). TF2 is a fun and I really enjoy the cartoonish graphical style of the game. It held my interest for quite a while, but I wish there were more maps, and more objectives. The Orange Box prompted me to buckle down and finally beat Half Life 2, and Episode 1, but I can’t say that I’ve played Episode 2 yet… I’ll get to it sometime.

Call of Duty 4: Fantastic. I won’t be going back to TF2 for a while because CoD4 has been eating my free time to an extreme since I got it. Several diverse objectives, unlockable items and perks, fast paced play that still allows for the stealthy lone wolf play style, and visually stunning graphics make this THE multiplayer FPS game of the year. (Single Player FPS still goes to Bioshock, and RTS goes to CoH:OF)

Beautiful Katamari: They got it right! No more “We made a cool game and we’re hip and quirky, look at us” that came with We Love Katamari. This brings back the quirky storyline, while keeping the fundamental play style the same. I’m not sure I noticed much difference between this on HD and the original game on PS2, but it’s Katamari in its purest form so I’m happy.

That just about rounds out the games I’ve been playing, but I’m planning on picking up Rock Band today, and bringing the XBox and game to Minneapolis with me over the weekend so we can play some of that.

Now that I’ve created a really long post that’s not interesting to anybody, I’ll move along.

Happy Birthday Mr. Turtle!

LogoWriter Screen

I read today that LOGO is turning the big 40. I have fond memories of this particular programming language because when I was in elementary school we worked with LogoWriter on our Apple IIgs. It was one of the earliest and most formative experiences I had with a computer and I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned experimenting in LogoWriter. Driving the turtle around the screen by typing commands in on the “Front Side” just to see what they would do, and going to the”Flip Side” to write more in depth programs presented an intuitive way to introduce some pretty complex fundamentals of computer programming.

Continue reading

The life and times of a beer drinker.