Thursday, December 31, 2009

AARP Award

I happened upon the AARP site recently and discovered they had chosen this blog as one of special note back in July, 2008. I vaguely recall responding to their request for submissions of blogs from members, but they never notified me that mine was deemed to have a high level of creativity and innovation. Click to enlarge this photo...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter Wonderland Woods

Our group of retirees snowshoed two hours today in Deer Grove Forest Preserve, enjoying the solitude and magnificent scenery...

Then it was off to Billy's for breakfast and more conversation. We leave for warmer climes soon, so it was nice to get out and enjoy the snow with good friends before we make our escape from winter!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Importance of Priorities

This is a repeat post from two-plus years ago, but the importance of priorities in life deserves repetition, especially at this time of year.

Two glasses of wine and the mayo jar...

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle and 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine...

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things: your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."

He paused, then added: "The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car."

He looked around the room and then said, "The sand is everything else; the small stuff."

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. Do one more run down the ski slope. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented.

The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend." (source unknown)


Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

The house was in readiness as everyone joined us in Wauconda for the annual family get-together -- a gathering which has been occurring for seven decades in our extended family...

The kids were all abuzz with excitement, awaiting the presents they knew were forthcoming...

...but first a delicious meal of turkey, stuffed shells, mashed and sweet potatoes, and lots of side dishes for the 20 who were able to attend tonight...

...and then down to the party room for the annual grab-bag and then the gift exchange...

...followed by our traditional Christmas carol sing, led by cousin Norman on the keyboard...

Here's some camcorder footage to please all our relatives unable to join us, or to give others a flavor of our brand of celebrating...

It was another wonderful family celebration of the greatest gift mankind has received -- the birth of our Saviour, Jesus!

More photos of the evening are available for viewing and downloading here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Worthy Quotes #27

Like our shadows, our wishes lengthen as the sun declines.
-- Edward Young

Don't cry cause it's over, smile because it happened.
--Dr Seuss

Life itself is the proper binge.
--Julia Child

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
-- Winston Churchill

If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you cannot learn any other way.
-- Mark Twain

Character is what you are in the dark.
-- Dwight L. Moody

You're never too old to become younger.
-- Mae West

A woman need only know one man well in order to understand all men, whereas a man may know all women and not understand one of them.
-- Helen Rowland

I want to die young at an advanced age.
-- Max Lerner

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: "It might have been!"
-- John Greenleaf Whittier

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

M&M at her finest...

Sent from Comic Touch (

Gaither Homecoming 2009 Christmas Tour

...was presented in northwest suburban Chicago Saturday evening. As usual, it was more a poignant worship experience than mere concert -- uplifting as it entertained, its message strong and clear and vibrant -- and a wonderful prep for the Christmas season. Photos were tough to take in the huge, dark Sears Centre, but here are a few that sort of turned out.

Below is Kevin Williams, the fantastic guitar player for the Gaither Band, who also provides regular comic relief as he banters with the endearing, laid-back, and supremely talented Bill Gaither, mastermind of these musical extravaganzas. The first photo was the concert intro, before the house lights went out.

Though most seats are far from the stage, the three huge screens give close-ups of the performers and the sound system is fantastic. And we were actually much closer than we had been at the larger Orlando, Florida, "Lovin' Life" Homecoming concert back in February which I reported on here.

The audience was given blue LED lights upon entrance to the arena, and they received a lot of use as seen below (click to enlarge)...

One of my favorite groups, The Isaacs, are talented singers as well as instrumentalists, and they are acapella singers extraordinaire. Yes, they are a family -- mom, brother, and sisters. Here they are joined by the versatile Buddy Greene who excels with guitar, harmonica, and voice.

A highlight was the two stirring performances by tenor David Phelps, the magnificent Nessun Dorma, and the finale, O Holy Night...

I recommend you attend a performance, or if merely curious, check your TV listings, for many of the previous concerts are shown regularly on PBS and religious channels. Tickets are reasonably priced at only $30 and $40. DVDs and CDs are available at

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pre-Christmas Christmas

Since Scott and Sarah are driving to Tennessee for Christmas to celebrate with her parents and sister and their new-born nephew, they will miss our family's usual Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange, so we had them over yesterday for an early Christmas. Ellen prepared a delicious red snapper meal with all the trimmings...

... and her new cockatiel, BB, was a hit with everyone...

The gift exchange provided all with stuff they had wished for, so all gifts were the "perfect" ones...

We'll miss them Thursday night at my place as 20+ relatives gather as our extended family of cousins has gathered for over 7 decades, but it was nice to get together with them today. Merry Christmas to everyone, and I hope all of you are able to enjoy the festivities with their your ones.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When Hell Freezes Over

The following claims to be a question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet. This attribution has been debunked by, which shows its origins arise from a scientific article authored in the 1920s and adapted over the decades -- but nonetheless, I find it clever and humorous and present it here.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities: 1) If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose. 2) If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct, leaving only Heaven, and thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."


Friday, December 18, 2009

If We Had Global Warming (in Minnesota)

Nice tongue-in-cheek song...

(At least I think they have their tongues in their cheeks!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Advent Conspiracy

Advent Conspiracy is an international movement attempting to end the scandal of Christmas and substitute compassion for consumption. Giving away water is a major goal of theirs -- water wells in under-developed areas of our world.

For more info, go here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No nativity scene in Washington this year!

The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene in the United States' Capitol this Christmas season.

This isn't for any religious reason.

They simply have not been able to find Three Wise Men in the Nation's Capitol.

A search for a Virgin continues.

There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Visiting Mom

Ellen and I visited Mom today. She's getting around much better after her hip surgery and rehab, and she's elated to be back in her own place, back with her friends, and getting back to her regular routine.

Thanks to all who sent cards, visited, and called her.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NICE Meeting

Today was the bimonthly meeting of our local Elderhostel/Exploritas Alumni group, the Northern Illinois Chapter of Exploritas. The busyness of the holiday season cut our attendance to just 5 regulars, but we had an enjoyable get-together, as Phyllis showed us her photos from her Adventures Afloat Elderhostel trip to seven Grecian Islands in August...

Then I showed movies of our two New England Elderhostel trips in August and September, both of which are available online: Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains...

...and sailing on the windjammer Angelique on Penobscot Bay out of Camden, Maine...

We then adjourned to Hillcrest Restaurant for a tasty meal...

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Merry Christmas (via an oldie-but-goodie)

The stop-motion animated short HARDROCK, COCO AND JOE: THE THREE LITTLE DWARFS (1951) has been a Yuletide favorite on Chicago television since it first aired on WBKB-TV back in 1952. It was also released to the home-movie market by Castle Films. (This film is in Public Domain.)


And read about Castle Films in the book CASTLE FILMS: A HOBBYIST'S GUIDE available from iUniverse at

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The World's Shortest Books

1. Home Built Airplanes by John Denver

2. Things I Love About Bill by Hillary Clinton

3. My Life's Memories by Ronald Reagan

4. Things I Can't Afford by Bill Gates

5. Things I Wouldn't Do for Money by Dennis Rodman

6. America's Most Popular Lawyers

7. All the Men I've Loved by Ellen DeGeneres

8. Everything Men Understand About Women

9. Mike Tyson's Guide to Dating Etiquette

10. Spotted Owl Recipes by the Sierra Club

11. The Amish Phone Directory

12. My Plan to Find the Real Killers by O. J. Simpson

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Party at Koldons

Last night was the annual post-concert Christmas party at the Koldon's lovely home. Here are our president, Fred, and tenor Nick and director Nick...

Edie, Helen, and Jim chuckle at Helen's antics...

Pianist Tara poses with Natalie, Karen, and our hostess, Barb...

Annmarie, Patti, Pat, and Juel smile for us...

Glynda, Pat, and Elaine enjoy the heat of the fireplace warming their backs as they eat...

Then following dinner, we adjourned to the living room for conversation and to view the DVD of our performance...

Thanks to the Koldons for opening their home for another Village Singers party!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Concert by the Village Singers of Lake Zurich

This weekend featured two performances of the annual Christmas concert by the Village Singers of Lake Zurich, which I've been a member of for 9 years.

This video presents brief highlights from all 16 songs from our 2009 Christmas Concert...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

IRTA Luncheon

Thursday was another wonderful meal and good conversation with former colleagues as our local unit of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association held its annual holiday luncheon. Here are our former and present presidents, Doris and Len...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hiking Crabtree

Today, only Len and I of our group were available for our usual hike, so we enjoyed the snow-covered trail in Crabtree Nature Center all by ourselves. In fact, we never saw anyone else during the hike...

...though we did see a few birds and a bunch of chubby squirrels, one of which was trying to hide from us on a tree limb, but when we stopped and pointed at him, it scurried down and away through the underbrush. A tasty breakfast at Egg Harbor in Barrington rounded out the morning excursion.

Rules Kids Won't Learn in School

The following has been incorrectly attributed to Bill Gates, Ann Landers, Kurt Vonnegut, and Paul Harvey, but in fact is the work of author Charles J. Sykes.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will not make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes, and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life hasn't. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you "find yourself." Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Rule 12: Enjoy your childhood while you can. Sure parents can be a pain, school's a bother, and life can be depressing, but some day you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now!

You're welcome!

If you can read this - Thank a teacher!

If you are reading this in English - Thank a Veteran!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Village Singers of Lake Zurich Christmas Concert 2009

Here's a brief video preview of our upcoming Christmas Concert -- Joy to the World! -- to be held Saturday, December 5th at 7pm, and Sunday, December 6th 3 pm, at Alpine Church in Lake Zurich...

Come join us this weekend! For more info, go here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lakewood FP Hike

Yesterday was a bright sunny day, belying the 32 degree temperature, but a beautiful day for a 5 mile hike in Lakewood Forest Preserve. There were lots of people, and a high-flying flock of over 80 sand hill cranes was massing and squawking, probably preparing for a group migration south.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving in Rehab

Scott and Sarah, Steve, and I visited Mom in her rehab hospital room yesterday as she ate the tasty Thanksgiving meal the hospital provided her.

Then after a few hours, we headed over to Linda and Phil's for our turkey dinner. A good day with family, and we are all thankful Mom is recuperating nicely and has her wonderful optimistic attitude back.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

William Ward eloquently proclaimed, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” So always remember to make “Thanksgiving” a word of action.

Follow-up: The People's Tree Photo

Last week, WGN Radio personality John Williams, after hearing about the City of Chicago scaling back its annual municipal Christmas tree to "only" $100,000, ranted that he could do it for a lot less than that -- as in free -- as I reported here. His rant drew listener support, resulting in "The People's Tree" now standing at Tribune Tower, replete with ornaments made and donated by listeners. (Update: This tree did incur a cost of $250, so it wasn't completely free. The irony: The money was to pay a City of Chicago fee for using a crane!)

Here's the final product...

John is in the middle, flanked by his producer, Beth, and WGN's Mr. Fix-It, Lou Manfredini, who donated all the lights.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Random Facts #24

The liquid inside young coconuts can be used as a substitute for blood plasma.

No piece of paper can be folded in half more than seven (7) times. 

Oak trees do not produce acorns until they are fifty (50) years of age or older.

The magnetic North Pole changes position by about 20 feet a day.

The Romans ate fried canaries.

An elephant can throw a baseball faster than a human.

In medieval England, beer was often served with breakfast.

If you keep a goldfish in a dark room, it will eventually turn white.

The number one cause of blindness in the United States is diabetes.

The longest recorded sneezing fit lasted 978 days.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who can take your taxes... Yes, The Government Can!

I love satire and political satire is especially good. I don't agree with all the sentiments in this piece, but this musical video by comedian Tim Hawkins is clever, cute, holds way too much truth, and gets high production and creativity scores...

(You have to paste this link into your browser. His site doesn't allow embedding the video.)

From Hawkins' web site:

Want clean comedy with an edge? Tim Hawkins brings the funny.

Hawkins has been accused of being equally gifted and twisted. Whatever your take, he has indeed become one of the most in-demand comics in the country. His arsenal is unique: high energy stand-up, physical comedy, slick guitar skills, a thousand faces and voices, improvisational chops. It all combines to create an insane comedy experience. And yes, the guy can really sing. “People think I live a rock-star life”, said Hawkins. “Believe me, Mick Jagger never gets lost in a Hertz parking lot looking for his Ford Focus.”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bikin' Busse and Visiting Mom

The last 2 days, I've biked 36 miles on the Busse Trail before visiting Mom in Alexian Rehab Hospital. Lots of people out enjoying the beautiful weather, and also a lot of deer wandering the woods...

Friday, November 20, 2009

The People's Tree

A few weeks ago, the City of Chicago announced it would scale back on its annual Christmas tree due its high cost of $300,000. The tradition was to construct a huge tree out of dozens of smaller ones wired together. This year only one large tree would be used at a cost of a mere $100,000.

John Williams, WGN morning radio personality, went on a rant, exclaiming he and a few buddies and listeners could put up a 25' tree for only the cost of a carton of Old Style. And the calls poured in. Along with offers of help. Many offers.

This week, John and friends cut down a donated 24' fir tree out in Morris, Illinois. A volunteer with a trailer drove it to downtown Chicago. Another volunteer with a huge crane met them at the Tribune Tower and it was positioned in the courtyard. A maintenance crew from the Tower secured it to the building. WGN's Mr Fix-It, Lou Manfredini, donated 5000 LED lights from his Ace Hardware store, and another listener picked them up and delivered them to the Tower. And countless listeners stopped by the station, dropping off homemade ornaments.

Here's a video of the process...

Here's an audio montage of the on-air conversations that brought about this tree...

Still photos of the process can be found here...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Amazing Auto Ad

And you thought those people that set up a room full of dominoes to knock over were amazing. When this Honda ad was pitched to senior executives, they signed off on it immediately without any hesitation - including the costs. ...-- and supposedly it took over 600 "takes" to film it.

There seems to be discussion over if this was truly filmed or if it has been computer assisted (CGI), but either way, it's pretty amazing...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Not many posts from me this past week. Last Thursday, my mother broke her hip, fell to the floor of her apartment, and lay there yelling for help for 7 hours until she was discovered by the staff when she didn't appear for lunch.

She was operated on Saturday. Fortunately, she didn't need the full hip replacement -- a rod and pin sufficed -- but her age of 85 has her recuperating slowly, and after the hospital releases her, she'll go to a rehab center for a couple weeks.

So I have been, and will be, visiting her for a while, a 30 mile drive each way. I'll post about her progress as developments occur.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Making the stairs fun

Forget the escalator, since some Swedish designers have made taking the stairs fun again.

The campaign The Fun Theory of Volkswagen is a series of experiments, captured on video, to find out if making the world more fun can improve peoples behavior.

Marketing a car doesn’t simply have to be about marketing a car by promoting its performance and efficiency virtues.

Volkswagen has launched a new grass roots experiential initiative in Sweden, which is encouraging local consumers to live leaner and greener lives. Rolighetsteorin – or The Fun Theory – involves a series of ‘social experiments’, videos of which have just gone live on YouTube.

In just four days, one involving the transformation of a stairway into an interactive keyboard has been watched almost 1.5 million times.

The aim was to prove that, if they made it fun, more people would take the stairs than the escalator. And it seems to have worked. The organizers claim that some 66 per cent of people chose to take the stairs rather than the escalator.

“We believe that the easiest way to change people's behavior for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it ‘The Fun Theory’,” explains an accompanying posting.

The VW "fun theory" website is here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Kings Firecrackers - Team Jump-roping

Ever seen team jump-roping with acrobatics? I hadn't either. Watch this performance by the Kings Firecrackers and be absolutely amazed!

The Firecrackers are a performance jump rope team made up of talented 4th-8th graders from the Kings Local School District in Ohio. Coached by Lynn Kelley, they perform at venues across the country. Some notable past performances have been at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a Presidential Inauguration and an appearance on The David Letterman Show.

The Firecrackers grew out of an elementary school physical education exposition. Coach Lynn Kelly was looking for a rhythmic activity that could be choreographed to music. She found some jump ropes, a few interested students and some good music. The response to the activity was so positive, that it was suggested that the group perform at halftime of a Junior Varsity basketball game. More overwhelmingly positive feedback lead the team to perform at more high school games and then eventually college and NBA basketball games.

The team practices approximately two hours a day, five to six times per week.

Here they perform on Jerry Lewis' MDA Telethon...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Points to Ponder #20

Don't take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.

You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.

They divorced over religious differences: he thought he was God and she didn't.

Being over the hill is much better than being under it.

Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.

Consciousness is that annoying time between naps.

He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless dead.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times the computer memory.

Ham and eggs is a mere day's work for a chicken, but a lifetime commitment for a pig.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Alaska Part 8 - 14 Day Sierra Club Outing

Here's the 8th and final video chronicling my 2004 adventures in Alaska. Ten of us Sierra Club members met Nick and Sandy, the outing's leaders, in Fairbanks, and together enjoyed 14 days of outdoor adventures in south central Alaska. We camped nine nights and spent four nights in rustic cabins. Among our activities were two visits to Denali National Park, one to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and a three day backpack in Denali State Park. Here's the video of our "Alaska Autumn Sampler" trip...

McHenry Prairie Trail re-route

The group met in Crystal Lake and biked 18 miles, heading south. The re-route of the McHenry Prairie Trail in Crystal Lake south of Rakow Road is open, and the Pyott Road re-route looks nearly complete. The new alignment takes bikers along the (former quarry pit) lake now -- a much more scenic ride.

The leaves have nearly all fallen, a sad reminder winter is on the way and the end of the biking season. The advantage is improved sightlines into the woods as we bike through these forest preserves alongside the Fox River. This may be the end of the pleasant 60 degree temperatures, as the forecast predicts 50s and 40s as the week progresses.

Family, Food, and Football

Yesterday, Steve and Beth visited, and as we watched the Bears get trounced by the Cardinals, our frustration with their ineptitude was abated by reminiscences of family trips, favorite places across the country, humorous family experiences, and future travel plans.

After the televised debacle was mercifully over, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Dock's restaurant, resuming our conversation and watching two water skiers relishing the 70 degree November weather as they constantly circled Bangs Lake. I hope their wetsuits kept them warm when they toppled into the 40 degree water!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alaska Part 7 - Biking, Hiking, and Paddling

In 2004, I drove 10,000 miles on an 11 week odyssey to and through Alaska, and this episode features my outdoor adventures while there -- namely biking, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and rafting -- in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Anchorage, Denali NP, Denali State Park, and Wrangell-St. Elias NP.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Riverport Chorus Concert

Last night I drove over the state line to Kenosha, Wisconsin, for a wonderful concert by the Riverport Chorus, a group of about 40 women who excel at singing four-part a cappella harmony, barbershop style. The members reside in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois and are part of a larger organization of 28,000 women worldwide known as Sweet Adelines International, and "Sisters" to the men's component known now as the Barbershop Harmony Society, originally called SPEBSQSA, or the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America.

June, the director of the chorus, is a friend of mine from church choir, where she sings alto, and her husband, Brian, sings tenor in our choir. Brian is also a long-time barbershopper, singing in the New Tradition Chorus in Northbrook, Illinois.

The concert was "cabaret style," meaning the audience was seated at tables and food and drink were available for purchase. The concert was entitled Fall In! and songs followed the themes of "Fall," "Halloween," and "Veteran's Day."

Riverport is a nine-time regional champion chorus and has competed in several international competitions in cities including Houston, San Antonio, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Portland, Phoenix, Detroit, and Calgary, where they have placed as high as tenth in the world.

The ladies of the group assembled baskets of themed items, such as chocolate, car care, salon day, and people purchased raffle tickets which they deposited by the baskets they were interested in winning. Brian won a couple baskets, including this one...

For the final number, audience members who had ever been associated with Sweet Adelines were invited to join in singing the Sweet Adeline theme song, "Harmonize the World"...

After the concert, June made her way back to our table to visit with her husband, daughter-in-law and son, and three grandchildren.

Here are a couple samples of the glorious sound these talented and dedicated singers combine to create...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Alaska Part 6 - Denali National Park

In 2004, I drove 10,000 miles on an 11 week odyssey to and through Alaska, and this episode features Denali National Park. During my two months in Alaska, I visited Denali three times -- once on my own and twice as part of a two week Sierra Club Outing, camping a total of nine nights in park campgrounds. Twice I rode the Denali wildlife bus 86 miles into the backcountry, during which I took the camcorder footage and still photos found in this video. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Alaska Part 5: The Kenai Pensinsula

In 2004, I drove 10,000 miles on an 11 week odyssey to and through Alaska, and this episode features Homer, Seward, and Whittier, with footage of Kenai Fjord National Park and Chiswell Islands Wildlife Sanctuary.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Alaska Part 4: Beyond the Arctic Circle and Back by plane and van

In 2004, I drove 10,000 miles on an 11 week odyssey to and through Alaska reported here. During the trip, I also took camcorder footage which I came across on an external drive this week. So I put together this video of the flight I took over the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks, and then the van ride back on the Dalton Highway, alongside the Trans-Alaska Pipeline -- and all of this while wildfires burned 6 million acres of tundra and trees...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hiking The Hollows

We finally are getting gorgeous fall days, and yesterday we took advantage of one by hiking 5+ miles in The Hollows in Cary with the Rusches and Kortekaases...

Very little foliage remains on the flora so the "look" of fall and winter is upon us...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Alaska Part 3: Flightseeing Glacier Bay National Park

In 2004, I drove 10,000 miles on an 11 week odyssey to and through Alaska reported here. During the trip, I also took camcorder footage which I came across on an external drive this week. So I put together this video of the flight I took over Glacier Bay National Park...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Alaska Part 2: Skagway and the White Pass & Yukon RR

In 2004, I drove 10,000 miles on an 11 week odyssey to and through Alaska reported here. During the trip, I also took camcorder footage which I came across on an external drive this week. So I put together this video of the ride on the White Pass & Yukon RR...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Alaska Part 1: The Inside Passage -- Aboard the Alaska Ferry, Ketchikan, and Juneau

In 2004, I drove 10,000 miles on an 11 week odyssey to and through Alaska reported here. During the trip, I also took camcorder footage which I came across on an external drive this week. So I put together this video of the voyage through the Inside Passage aboard the Alaska Ferry, with 4 night stops in both Ketchikan and Juneau...

In the following weeks, I'll work on additional videos of the trip after Juneau, using the camcorder footage, so check back!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Morton Arboretum biking

Yesterday was yet another cloudy, humid day -- no sun, but at least a bit warmer. My oldest son, Scott, invited me to join him at Morton Arboretum for a bike ride on the roads...

In 1922, Joy Morton, the owner of Morton Salt and Argo Starch, established The Morton Arboretum on 178 acres of land adjacent to his estate in Lisle, Illinois. Today the arboretum encompasses 1700 acres and includes over 4,100 different species of trees, shrubs, and other woody plants from around the globe. In all, there are over 186,000 catalogued plants. The Arboretum has 16 miles of hiking trails and nine miles of roadways for driving and bicycling. His father, Julius Morton, was one of the founders of Arbor Day, and the family estate in Nebraska was given to the State of Nebraska as its first state park in honor of his father and Arbor Day.

The colors were marvelous, as was the lunch at the cafe...

Then we walked a bit, enjoying the children's "backyard" and "woods" exhibits, as well as the one acre maze and the "animal houses" displays.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lunch with Mom and Scott

Scott and I visited Mom yesterday, with lunch at El Sombrero...

...and then an hour back at her apartment, conversing and watching movies of my summer trip to New England...

Very enjoyable visit, and then Scott and I left so she could go downstairs for her Whammo game.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nippersink Forest Preserve Hike

The rain yesterday morning canceled our planned hike, but between rain storms in the afternoon, I got in an hour hike at one of Lake County's newer preserves, Nippersink, which the preserve district converted from a former campground to a lovely (but short, so do it several times) hiking loop. The last of the fall colors were still ablaze...