Thursday, February 25, 2010

Themed Thursday - Bottle

Every other Monday the bottles are in the streets. We see them as we walk to school. As we walk past the bottles in their recycling bin I imagine what stories they might tell. There are certain bottles that tell a story of sadness. That's when you see the recycling bin filled to the top with beer, wine, whiskey or other kinds of alcohol bottles. As we walk past those bins I wonder what kind of pain is causing those bottles to be emptied. Other bins hold the story of households full of life and children. The bottles in those bins are juice bottles, soda bottles - lots of bottles that hold sugary drinks that make kids happy and full of life. You know that happiness and good times exude from that house! What stories do the bottles in our recycling bin tell? I think it would tell the story of a house fill with activity and adventure! Even now I look at my wine bottles racked on my wine rack and I think of the enjoyment and happiness that comes with them. The happiness and joy doesn't flow from the bottle, instead it comes from the time that is spent with loved ones enjoying that wine. I have 3 bottles on my wine rack right now and I know there were will be lots of love, happiness and joy that accompany each of those bottles. I look forward to cooking a dinner with the girlfriend and sharing the contents of a bottle as we talk the night away! Even if I don't share those bottles with my love, I still know I will enjoy them while I sit at my dinner table with my son by my side. The closeness and love that we feel as we share our dinners together is remarkable. Next time you see an empty bottle - try and figure out the story it tells!
For information on Themed Thursday click [HERE] Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Themes and Things....

In the last couple of weeks I have been playing around in the "blogosphere" and finding many different games and themes that people are playing at as they write their blogs. Recently I stumbled upon two different blogging games that all have to do with various themes. Two Saturday's ago I participated in the "Sepia Saturday" theme. The whole point of that theme is to write a blog entry on Saturday that has something to do with a historical theme that is important to you. The basis of that theme should be a photograph - particularly an old sepia photo. The other theme I have decided to participate in is "Themed Thursday". Every week a writer comes up with a theme that all participants should write about and then post to their blogs on Thursday. This week's theme is "bottle". Provided I have a few minutes that I am not working this week, I intend to participate in both themes. I have a really good idea what I am going to write about a "bottle". I think it will be a fun and happy blog entry for Thursday! Today - Tuesday was my second parent teacher conference of the school year for Zack. It was DEFINITELY a much better conference than the first one! Zack is really starting to show some signs of improving in all behaviors around school. The key thing is going to be keeping him improving and not back sliding like he did last summer. But in general he got much better grades this trimester and had a much better report from his teachers. I am very proud of my boy and progress he is making! We hope that everyone's week is off to a great start! Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


For the last 4 weeks I have made almost daily trips to Boulder for work. The trip is about 55 miles in total and can take anywhere from 50 minutes to over 2 hours depending upon conditions. The conditions that I speak of are the weather conditions and the traffic conditions. It is fairly obvious that the weather conditions can easily effect the traffic. The worse the weather is, the slower the traffic moves. Besides the weather there are things that effect the traffic that I just do not understand or imagine. Particularly during the morning drive I have noticed that the traffic goes through "pulses". What do I mean by that? The traffic will come to a complete halt and you will sit there for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes and then as abruptly as the traffic stopped it will start moving again. After it starts moving again the traffic will quickly reach a high rate of speed - 40 or more miles per hour. In another mile or so, the traffic will "pulse" again and you will come to a dead halt. For the life of me, I can not figure out what is causing these "pulses" in the traffic. It just does not make any sense to me whatsoever. The other aspect of the traffic is how accidents on the other side of the road totally slow down traffic on your side of the road. Everyone has to stop and rubberneck! Then there is the fact that police seem to position themselves at strategic spots to purposefully slow traffic. It is not like they are going to be catching any speeders when the traffic is moving so slowly already. It really seems like they just want to slow things down even more. Oh well - I haven't had to do this for too long and hopefully my adventures in commuting to Boulder will only last the next several months - but I am sure I will have more observations on the flow of traffic! Til later... Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sepia Saturday - Frank and Rose Stremp

There are many different blog concepts that run around the "blogosphere". One of the blogs I routinely follow introduced me to "Sepia Saturday". The whole point of this blog effort is to use one day a week (Saturday) as a means to explore some aspect of your personal history. Given my own interests I thought this was a really interesting idea. Though it is only Friday evening, I am posting this entry as I have a few minutes while I sit here on a conference call for work. This is a picture of my grandparents Frank and Rose (nee Portler) Stremp. I had the privilege of knowing my grandparents for a good portion of my youth as Frank was alive until I was 14 and Rose until I was 23. I tend to relate to Frank quite a lot for several reasons. First - I was named after him. My full given name is Gerald Francis Kromer. I don't know where my parents got the Gerald other than the fact that they liked it. My middle name came from Frank. His first name was actually Franciszek, which is the polish equivalent of Francis. So that is how I ended up with Francis as a middle name.
Secondly Frank lost his mother at a very young age, he was 8 years old when she died. Though I didn't lose my mother at that age, I relate to him because of what Zack has gone through.
My grandparents were hard workers. They lived through some difficult times and did what they had to do to survive. Together they built their home from scratch. Like many houses in the Laurel Mountains of Western Pennsylvania they covered the outside of their house with the rocks that the scavenged from the farmer's fields around them.
There are many memorable stories that I heard over the years growing up about the things my grandparents had to do back "in the day" to get by and survive financial. I remember being a small kid sitting in my grandfather's filling station hearing him tell stories about his life. At the time I wish I had paid more attention as having details of those stories now would be fantastic!
Frank and Rose definitely had their own personalities - that is for sure! I remember my grandmother - Rose as somewhat stern and taciturn. Frank on the over hand seemed to be good natured and with a smile frequently on his face. Of course those could be memories that are guided by my own misconceptions of who they were.
Regardless of anything else, I appreciated and loved my grandparents. To me they were "good people".
For more Sepia Saturday participants click [Here]
Hope you all have a great weekend!
Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Kid's Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day for kids is so much different than for adults. For the kids, everyone gets to be your Valentine. You exchange Valentine's cards with each and every kid in your class. As a kid you can even give the biggest valentine to your best friend (i.e. same sex) without anyone thinking it is weird.
Tomorrow they are celebrating Valentine's Day at Zack's school. So he was working this evening to address a Valentine Card to each and everyone in his class. Zack decided he had to go over and above through and did a Valentine's Card for each of his teachers - including every teacher he has had since 1st grade!
Besides the cards he also needed to make a Valentine's box so that all the kids in his class could put his Valentines in that box. All-in-all a pretty fun thing for him to do. Though I probably added a little bit of stress to his efforts by making him re-write some of the cards. To me it was just unacceptable that he misspelled some of his classmates names. I won't want to get a Valentine's card with my name spelled wrong! I am not a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination but I kind of thought it was important for him to spell every kid's name right.
(Zack's Valentine Box - it's just a shoe box covered in pink construction paper. He didn't do much decorating as he said he wanted to go with a "minimalist" approach. )
It's only 3 hours until it is officially Friday! Yippee!
Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

The Garbage We Create

This entire week I have been working out of my company's office in Boulder as opposed to home. I don't have a fixed place to sit at the Boulder office, so I typically sit in a "mobility center". The mobility center is place equipped with desks, phones, ethernet connections, etc. The mobility center I have sat in is small and only has 12 desks in it. For most of the week I have had this mobility center to myself. There have been one or two other people in here at various times but pretty much I have been alone. (I really haven't spent that much time in here as I have been in meeting almost the entire week in various conference rooms scattered throughout the campus.) Today as I was cleaning up my desk I took my trash and threw it into the trash can in the room. I figured that almost everything in the trash can was mine. The trash can was about 1/5 of the way full. How pathetic is that? I am very good about recycling everything I can, but still I generated a fair amount of trash during this week. Most of it was food containers from the cafeteria. I got soup everyday for lunch this week so I didn't have those gigantic styrofoam meal containers - just a reinforced paper container, a cup for a soda and my plastic spoon. Regardless the amount of trash I generated was disturbing! There are many things that could be said about it. But I need to do even better because I don't like being a "trashy person" - LOL!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Light

Yesterday evening - Tuesday I was driving home from Boulder and I got a really positive mental lift from noticing that it was almost 6PM and the sky was still light! We are at long last starting to come out of the long periods of darkness that we experience in the middle of winter. For me the additional hours of daylight are such a positive sign that spring is just around the corner. Not that spring is the be all and end all of all seasons as spring in the Colorado Rockies tends to be a wet, cold and sloppy season. Regardless the light heralds the end of dreariness and drabness of winter. We are only 32 days from the start of Daylight Savings as the official start of Daylight Savings Time here in the US is on March 14, 2010 at 2AM local time. I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Anniversary of Sorts

I have realized that my old way of doing blog posts probably just isn't going to work anymore. In the past I would spend considerable amounts of time writing each blog entry. I just don't have that kind of time anymore. I am so busy with all the various things going on in life that rarely do I have the time to sit down on an evening and write a lengthy blog entry. Therefore my blog writing needs to change. What I am going to try and do is write more frequent, shorter entries whenever I have a few moments. This entry is being written during the last 10 minutes of what should be my lunch hour. I say should be my lunch hour as I have been on a conference call the entire time and shoveled down a bowl of soup between snippets of conversation. Look for more frequent blog updates but much shorter ones. With all that said, today is an anniversary of sorts. Today is the 8th anniversary of my father's death on February 9, 2002. It is hard to believe it has been that long! My Dad lived to be 86 so he had a good long life. But it was kind of cut short by a medical mishap. He had to have an endoscopy to deal with some issues in his stomach. Unfortunately at the end of the procedure the surgeon punctured his stomach - which of course led to him dying a couple of weeks later. It's one of those days that I will always remember. (But then again I did forget about the 10th anniversary of my Mom's death back in August! I might have forgetten because I was distracted by the events that were taking place at the time, as Zack was in the middle of his emotional/mental meltdown.) Hope everyone is having a great day! Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The End of the Dream

This post is not about anything personal. It is not an end of a dream for me. I am talking about something much larger. I am talking about the American Dream. It may be that the continuous dirge of bad news I keep hearing about the economy and the state of the nation that made me want to write this blog. But after reading an article on the USA Today website it really struck me hard that we have reached our apex as a nation. The article I read on the USA Today website was how some counties to save money are starting to convert paved roads to gravel roads. All the locations cited in the article were in rural areas, but think of it, we are leaving a sign of progress behind because of the cost. Have our muncipal and state governments ever done this before? I don't know, but my guess is since the time of The Great Depresssion, we haven't seen governments cutting back the way they are now. Abandoning paved roads for gravel... it is a remarkable change and a remarkable step backwards. (Personally I kind of cheer it because it might be better for the environment, but I realize what it means in terms of a step back from prosperity.)
On top of reading articles like that, there are numerous articles out there stating that the Federal Government may be heading towards default on it's loans. Moody's is actually considering cutting the rating of US Government debt. For the last 80 years the word of the US Government to pay back it's debt has been without doubt. Now for the first time in history there is serious doubt whether US Government backed securities will be paid back.
I am not trying to make a political statement by this post. I think there is a lot of blame to go around between people on both the right and the left. My point in writing this is just to point out the dream is gone. The American dream of your kids being more prosperous and well-off then you is just that - a dream and it is gone. Soon the debts will catch up with us and we will have to cut the tools of our empire - the military, foreign aid, economic programs, etc. With 2011 we will lose our manned space program and with the recent government budget announced we will not get the capability back until some private company starts sending people in to space. Yes - the trappings of empire are fading and the glory of our country will slow dull and blur. Just like we think of past world spanning empires - Rome, Byzantine, Spain, Great Britain and many others, the US of A will be consigned to the dust bin of empire. So... any one taking Chinese lessons yet?
Now that I have that off my chest, a quick personal update. I am working like a fiend on my project in Boulder. Work is crazy, crazy, crazy, but it has to be done. Nancy is out of the hospital and is doing so-so. She continues to experience some dizziness but she is hanging in there. Zack is Zack! He continues to be a complete unique one and only little man who tries his Dad's patience. All other aspects of life are going well and keeping us happy! :-)
As always thanks for reading my ramblings!
Thanks and peace to all! ~J.