Sunday, March 22, 2009

How I spent my winter vacation

For four days last week, I visited my Dad at his winter home in Punta Gorda, Florida. For the most part, as my Dad likes to say, we "did nothing ... slowly."

However, my visit did span St. Patrick's Day, when his residential community put on its own parade and hosted a group of bagpipers. Guess who was recruited to help his Dad carry the D Building banner in the parade? (Unfortunately, there were no cameras to record that aspect of the event.)

Dad also found time to do his volunteer duty, straightening up at poolside.

A couple of days later, on my final day in Florida, we were entertained by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, who were practicing before a major air show scheduled for the weekend. (Note to self: Next time, don't try to shoot video through a balcony screen.)

The video shows that I have no future in film editing, but ...

Monday, March 16, 2009

One of life's questions

Why is it, when catching airline flights or changing planes, my gates are always the farthest away or farthest apart?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Epic tour

On Sunday, Madame X and I paid a visit to older son Andy and his bride, Josie. The highlight was getting a tour of the headquarters of Andy's employer, Epic Systems, in Verona, Wis. (just west of Madison).

The place is incredible. Its size. It first-class furnishings and equipment. The artwork throughout. The "fun" that is blended into their serious work of providing software systems for the health-care industry. That Epic has thousands of employees but only 170 clients is another remarkable aspect of this operation.

Here are a few photos I took during the tour. You might think you are in a Star Trek ship, a London subway, Grand Central Station, or a subterranean tunnel a la Indiana Jones. But it was all on the Epic campus.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Additional Schalk photos surface

The same day that I learned the title and saw the cover of my Ray Schalk biography, I also got a look at some Schalk photos that recently surfaced.

Fortunately, my publisher has agreed to consider adding them to the biography, even though the "final" manuscript, photos and captions were submitted more than a month ago.

The photos come courtesy of Lillian Hendricks, widow of a Schalk nephew, and Debbie Brinson, widow of a Schalk grandson. Debbie's husband, Roy, died last October after an extended illness (so extended that I was unable to interview him for the book).

The image above is the Ray Schalk Family -- Pauline, Lavinia, Ray and Ray Junior -- in 1929 in New York's Polo Grounds. This was the one and only season Ray Sr. was player-coach of the New York Giants (and his last season as a player, during which he appeared in five games). The family story is that "Vin" drove herself and the two children from their home in Chicago to New York to visit Ray.

Below is Ray with his kids. As adults, the siblings were not particularly close -- far from it, actually.

I especially like these photos because they give a glimpse of late 1920s fashion -- in baseball uniforms and civilian attire.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

We have a title and cover

The publisher of my Ray Schalk biography, McFarland & Co., has decided a title and cover design for the book.

What do you think?

Still no word on when the book will be available. I'm assuming (hoping for) it will be Fall 2009.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Weekend in STL

Madame X and I paid a visit to our youngest son, Greg, who is just two months or so from graduating from St. Louis University with a degree in biomedical engineering. Despite our best intentions, we didn't visit him as often as we said (threatened) we would during his four years at SLU. We made Parents Weekend his freshman year and visited last June, when G had an on-campus summer internship. Seems we had another trip in there, but I can't recall the circumstances.

Anyway, we had a good time. We had lunch at Greg's place of employment, Dewey's, in suburban University City, where the pizza is second only to that found at Greg's aunt and uncle's place in Colorado, High Mountain Pies.

Afterwards, we caught up with G's girlfriend Julie, and we toured the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Massive does not begin to describe the place! Here's a tip: The tour involves several blocks of walking outside. Do NOT tour when it is 27 degrees and the wind is howling. Or at least be better attired for the outdoor segments of a tour. But it was interesting, free and included free samples.

Here's a little video.

We also visited Greg's lab, where he showed us his senior project -- a device to make it easier for laymen to accurately take blood-pressure readings.

After Mass on the SLU campus and breakfast Sunday, we made the 300-mile trek home. No stoplights between the SLU campus and the south edge of Dubuque! (Unless you need food or gasoline.)

When Madame X and I returned to town, we met Claire and her parents at a nearby restaurant. Dining Mexican is usually fast -- and the food arrived in good time -- but Claire eats at, shall we say, a deliberate pace.