Sunday, September 27, 2009

Beautiful Fall Day on Leech Lake

The leaves are turning, the air is crisp, the sky is blue, and so is the lake. I can't believe I left this early to go to a work event...

Great year at Leech. Summer is officially over. Can't wait until next opener.

Friday, September 25, 2009

2009 Minnesota Youth Waterfowl Day

Last week marked the opening of the duck season with the Youth Waterfowl Day hunt. In an effort to stem the significant loss of hunters, the state offers a one-day hunt for youth, prior to the regular duck opener, to get out there and have fun. This is a youth-only hunt, meaning adults can supervise, place decoys, call ducks, etc. but may not shoot.

This is a huge controversy in Minnesota, as old-time duck hunters feel the kids "make the birds go away" by scaring them off. This is a load of crap:

  • Very few kids really participate
  • Minnesota holds scant amount of birds to begin with. Our habitat is atrocious.
  • With our late opener, we'll see at least one cold front that will move off many of our teal and wood ducks before our season starts. This is almost guaranteed. It's no the kids - it's mother nature

The bottom line is that if we don't get more kids involved in hunting, it will go away. And quickly. Duck hunter ranks are falling off the table, and our average age is now in the mid to late 40's. If nobody does it, then nobody cares. If nobody cares, goodbye habitat (what little remains), goodbye legislative support against anti-hunting groups, goodbye hunting.

So our little team consisted of four kids (3 girls!), 3 adults, and two yellow dogs. It was a warm morning, but the kids were successful, bagging one blue winged teal and one drake wood duck. Deuce made the retrieves, and had a great time as well.

Here's the yellow dog herself - or should I say not-so-yellow-dog...

If you really care about our way of life, get a kid hooked on hunting. Without the support of their generation, we're doomed.

OK, This is Creeping Me Out

I was first creeped out by this:

But, hey, it's California, right? This is just an outlier. A bunch of Calis on a Sunday morning, conducting their equivalent of going to church. Not a big deal.

Now this:

I don't care who your president is - politics, color, sex - kids should not be made to sing about him like he's some kind of deity.

Seriously. Isn't anyone else creeped out by this?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Daily Puntometer - The Pennant Race Version

With AL MVP candidate Justin Morneau lost for the remainder of the season, the only prayer the Twins have is to step things up and assume the load that the big man was previously carrying. And who is doing his share? None other than the worst regular-season player in Twins' history.

Nicky Punto has his average up to .229 - he was north of .230, but a traditional Punto 0 for 4 last night pushed him down.

I have to admit that this team has a lot more guts than I would have expected. The loss of Morneau should have been catastrophic, yet guys like Kubel, and notably Cuddyer, have closed the gap on the Tigers.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but thanks to these guys, we have ourselves a pennant race. 11 games to play, 4 against the leader, and 2 1/2 games back - it could be a fun couple of weeks.

I can't believe I'm saying this either, but "GO NICKY!"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jimmy Carter Thinks I'm a Racist


To former President Carter and others that honestly believe that "an overwhelming portion" of opposition to Obama policies are driven by basic racism:
  • What form of opposition would be allowed and not described as racism? I want very specific examples. Or perhaps there are none, and we must therefore blindly and subserviently follow the President to ensure that racism truly does not exist. Seriously, I want an answer.
  • If simple demonstration against something as benign as fiscal policy is considered racism, how in the world will we ever get beyond race in this country? Likewise, with racism being the constant "cry wolf," won't true episodes of actual and meaningful racism ultimately be downplayed?

I felt with the election of Obama that we could move forward as a country with regard to race. Unfortunately, the specter of racism is too valuable of a tool to be dropped by the left. The fact of the matter is we've not moved forward, and some might even argue that we've actually moved backward.

The flippant and specious claims of racism by the left are some of the most repugnant behavior I've seen in politics in my life. Again, unbelievable.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Island View Yahoo!

Having over 55 miles one-way to commute to my job has its challenges. Case in point: Now that road construction has come to one segment, my commute has increased from one hour to, at times, nearly an hour and a half. That's up to three hours of window time a day.

Given this, I'm lucky enough to work from home every Friday, and many Wednesdays. It does wonders for my productivity - both at work, and at home.

One of the benefits of this is that some days when I work from home I'm able to get the first tee time off at Island View. If I use a cart and am first off, I can get a round completed in about an hour and a half, and be back in my home office by 8:00.

Since the days are getting shorter, I'm no longer able to do this for the remainder of the season, but I was able to get out last Friday for one last pre-work round. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the result:
This marks my best score, ever. I'm an 18 handicap, and this was a real treat.

The numbers blow my score allow me to track my performance with regard to breaking 90 - a goal I have every round. Usually that number is in the plus range, and sometimes way up there.

It was a nice way to cap my best year of golf, ever, and hopefully something of which I can take advantage of next year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

We Lost Another Good One

I had the pleasure to work with Rosemarie Montroy of Direct Media during my three year stint at my previous employer, and we really hit it off well. Her and her team did great work with our group as we resumed prospecting of the re-launched business, and the results helped give the fledgling company a firm foundation. She honored me by inviting me to speak at one of their client conferences on leveraging the web for new customer acquisition. Over this period we shared numerous meetings, laughs, drinks, and dinners, as well as a great partnership.

Unfortunately, that all came to an end with my firing.

Upon notification of the bad news, I immediately penned a note to all of my contacts and asked for their help in keeping their ears open for any opportunities.

Exactly one hour after I sent my message, I receive this reply from Rosemarie:

Mike, this is sorry news indeed but I am a firm believer that everything in the universe has a time, place and reason and there is a lot of positive energy around you, kiddo.

I'll keep my eyes and ears open and, with your permission, pass this information along to my associates here at DMI. Let me know if that's ok.

Best regards ... I'll be in touch.

Note the close. Not "keep in touch." Not "good luck." It was a firm "I'll be in touch."

And she was.

Two days later she had two opportunities, and signed off with "Keep the faith!"

A day later another opportunity, with another "I'll be in touch."

A day later, yet another opportunity.

It turns out one of those contacts is now my current occupation.

I am neither the direct response marketer, nor the business leader, nor the person I am today without the direct influence of Rosemarie. Unfortunately, I have found out that she has passed away recently after a very quick illness due to lung cancer at the young age of 64.

The picture of her above on the back of the ATV is one I took from her Facebook page, and is one that truly embodies her infectious spirit and love of life.

Rest in peace, Rosemarie. And thank you. Thank you for everything.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dad's Ashes

It is all over.

Yesterday, on a beautiful (albeit warm) September Saturday morning, I spread the small amount of dad's remaining ashes on end of the point at our duck camp.

This seems a fitting spot, as it is one that dad definitely would have wanted. But it is also fitting in that the point itself was built out of remembrance: Back in the early part of the last century, the gentleman that owned this land pined for a way to easily make it across the lake to the family graveyard in which his wife was buried. He set upon building a land bridge to cross the lake and make his daily visits easier.

He never finished - it sounds like he took ill, and ultimately took his own place in the family graveyard. He did make it a couple of hundred yards, and it still stands as a testament to his love and remembrance.

It has also developed into a really great place to hunt ducks, where many hours have been spent with friends from all walks of life; some two legged, some four. The memories there run deep, and are far, far too many to mention.

I said a little something, flung dad's remaining ashes at the end of the point, and was painfully reminded of how very much I miss him.

Rest in peace, dad.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Now Have Cable TV in My Garage!

For a mere cost of $15 paid to my friends at Mediacom, I can now multi-task in style. Evenings spent processing birds and cleaning guns out in the garage can now be enjoyed with the addition of football. Throw in the cold adult beverage of your choice, and this man-scene is complete.


Never Forget

And to think there are some, even in our own government, that deny this happened the way it did. God help us.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dakota Rail Trail - A Beautiful Bike Ride

My wife and I were looking to get in some exercise, and decided to take advantage of the new Dakota Rail Trail. What an outstanding ride! We entered on the trailhead at St. Boni where there is ample parking and a nice picnic area.

We had just intended to get in a quick work out, but the day was beautiful, the trail outstanding, and the scenery evoking of too many memories of growing up in Mound that we ended up doing the full 27 mile trip to Wayzata and back.

Best parts about the ride for me:
  • Going through Mound and seeing how much that town has changed and cleaned up

  • Crossing the Seaton Channel on the same bridge from which I used to jump in my younger days. Ditto the Lafayette bridge.

  • Going past the Spring Park A&W where I used to work flipping burgers as a summer job in junior high. The trail goes right past the drive-in and has to be a huge boon for their owner (the same guy that owns it when I worked there!). The place was packed.

  • Going past the old Lafayette club; site of many school dances and DU banquets.

There's not much at the Wayzata side for refreshment, which is too bad - after cranking over 13 miles, we could have used a Gatorade. But this really was the only thing that was disappointing.

I will definitely look for opportunities to get a lot more miles in on this beautiful new trail. Well done!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Minnesota Dove Opener 2009

In the middle of all of dad's funeral arrangements, I snuck off to the duck camp to participate in the 6th Minnesota dove opener. You might wonder why I left in middle of everything, but really needed to do it for my own closure reasons. I needed to be up there alone and feel the finality of dad being gone. It may not be what you'd do, but it is pretty much exactly what I needed.

I was the guest of my buddy Don and his outfit, and we hunted a couple of spots of his in nearby Starbuck.

Dove hunting means a ton to me. I was part of a small team that aggressively lobbied to get dove hunting reinstated in Minnesota after a 60 year hiatus. While many other groups tried to do the same thing, our approach was much different. We leveraged some of my marketing and direct response background, and were able to create a strong groundswell at the constituent level. It was a new approach, and we were fought the entire way by an incredibly well funded anti-hunting / animal rights machine.

The end result was the bill passing by one vote in the legislature, and this signing by Governor Pawlenty. It remains one of my more proud moments.

So why fight that battle? Simple. Hunting as a lifestyle is dying. The complexities of kids' schedules, myriad time distractions, fractured homes, urbanization, and the methodical battle against hunting by the animal rights lobby have very quickly eroded the ranks of those who hunt. Our numbers decline, our average age continues to rise, and our future remains bleak.

But dove hunting is a great pursuit to introduce kids to the outdoors. It is done when the weather is warm. Doves are abundant and offer many opportunities. There's not the need to sit still or remain quiet. It doesn't require a lot of expensive gear. So while I don't have any children of my own to introduce to this lifestyle, I felt it important to do all I could to provide others with an easy "gateway" introduction to hunting and the outdoors, and keep that way of life alive.

Here's the end result. Judge for yourself.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dad the Feature News Obit of the StarTribune

This process has been one of dichotomies - at nearly the same time I've felt humble and proud, alone and surrounded, peaceful and anxious, cheerful and sad. However, I have been feeling a lot of closure these last couple of days. I think there are a couple of driving reasons for this: the outpouring of love of family and friends, a beautiful service, a celebratory Irish wake, and even little things like my church playing All Creatures of Our God and King as the entrance hymn yesterday.

Now, to add to the list, the StarTribune got around to featuring dad in their news obituary. You can access it by clicking this link.

I'm not sure these past days could have gone better, and that's a testament to a lot of people that loved my dad being on the same page and working hard, as well as us being the recipients of a massive amount of prayers.

God's blessings continue to shower us.

The Daily Puntometer

While the Twins have dropped three of their last four, our insipid hero has been absolutely en fuego, raising his batting average to a whopping .221 During this massive run we've been treated to a triple, successful sacrifice bunts and a patented Punto slide into first base (safe!).

At this rate he's set to make his 2007 BA of .210 a complete aberration.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dad's Funeral Recap

I am so proud of my family! The funeral for dad was one that was so beautiful, and so filled with love and laughter. My dad would have been so very happy with it.


  • Fr. Kevin McDonough presided over a beautiful service, and gave a remembrance of dad that made us all so proud. Fr. Kevin is such an incredible man, and we were so blessed that he did us this honor.
  • My brother did the readings, and the whole time all I kept thinking of was how professional he was - his reading was graceful, dignified, and heartfelt. It is easy to go through the motions in that role, but the last thing my brother ever does is go through the motions. I admire and respect Kevin so much.
  • My brother-in-law Artie wrote and delivered some incredibly beautiful and personal intentions. Like my brother, his delivery was impeccable, and his messages ones that dad would have loved. Moment of the funeral - Artie speaks about sharing times with friends and loved ones over a good steak and glass of whiskey, and Fr. Kevin utters an impromptu "Amen!" in the middle. Artie has been such a huge help to my mom, and also my family. His humor, kindness, and love are a blessing to my family, and I cannot thank him enough for all he does.
  • My sister and my wife brought up the gifts, and you could not find two more beautiful women to conduct those honors. Their outer beauty is only surpassed by who they are inside, and that came out time and again in this process. Their support for mom has been tremendous, and mom would have struggled without their loving contributions.
  • The music at the service was gorgeous, and the Tenor's rendition of "The Unclouded Day" had lumps in throats throughout the church.

After the service, many folks joined us at Jake O'Connor's for an Irish wake in honor of my dad. The place was absolutely packed, and drinks and stories of my dad flowed easily. Here are some photos:

A sample of the crowd after it had thinned out later in the evening- cousins at right and my brother in the middle of the photo

My loving aunt and cousins

Dear friends Margaret and Jonathan, with my wife

Me and my cuz.

A shot of whiskey was kept on top of the bar in honor of my dad. As my brother and I closed the place down, I had it with one final toast to him.

Buddies from high school, and my cousin who came all the way up from Louisiana. It is safe to say, that given the guys in this photo and our proximity to the bar, the BS meter was likely in the red.

The day after we lay dad to rest at a beautiful new mausoleum in Excelsior at a beautiful private service.

Overall, this has been a hard process filled with a lot of emotion and a lot of work, but it has also been one of laughter and celebration, just as my dad would have wanted it. And at the end of the day, that's what makes me proud. This beautiful family of gifted individuals closed ranks, rolled up their sleeves, and executed a celebration for my dad that he would have loved. It was so wonderful to see how it came off.

And through it all stood my mom - a beacon of love, strength, courage, dignity, and beauty. Words cannot express my admiration and love for this incredible woman. She's given her family yet another example of how we should express our love and our loss. Despite my middle age, she still teaches me so much. My love and respect for her is immeasurable.

Sincere thanks for all who prayed for us and supported us. This process has showed us how much we are loved, and we are indebted to return that love to all of you. God bless and keep you all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Funeral Update

I think all of us are suffering from exhaustion - not only from the stress, but it feels like there's always something to do. Sleep is tough to get. But through it all we remain on track. Pretty much everything is done, and with my brother coming into town yesterday, we're now all here. All hands are on deck.

People have been amazing. Food, calls, hugs, cards. It means so much to us to look around and see something (be it a card, plant, or some amazing roast beef) to remind us that people are thinking of us, praying for us, and that they care.

We meet with the priest today to finalize the ceremony. Beyond that, it is pretty much done. I'm proud of what we've pulled together, and feel dad would have loved it.