Moraines of Illinois

31 07 2012

In far north west Illinois the Illinois Associated for School Curriculum Directors (ASCD) held a conference attended by mostly school administrators and Common Goal Systems attended to showcase it’s new module to support 1-to-1 computing in the classroom.  A good 2-3 hours from my home I woke up early and soon found myself driving up and down the hilly Moraines of Wisconsin, but only this time in Illinois. For those unfamiliar, a Moraine is a hill.  And  for some odd reason when the Glaciers formed and scraped the landscape flat, as is most of Illinois, it skipped the Wisconsin along with  this lone portion of Illinois.  The conference was held at a resort not far from the touristy village of Galena.  Galena is known for a quaint downtown that hearkens to a time when mining was king, access to the Mississippi was quick and President Ulysses Grant was a only  a mere General. Now a bastion of ice cream parlors, restaurants, wineries and knick knack shops, Galena has found new success where other towns among Illinois have only found dust.

Eagle Ridge, the conference center, boasts of two big golf courses, the North and the South.  The conference ended earlier and my colleague and I decided to try the North course since it was said to be easier and closer. I was happy to pick the easy one since my golfing skills are severely limited. Carved throughout the Morrianes,  the course weaves among the trees. This is no links course, where a stray ball land can land safely in a fairway adjacent. No in this venue, stray balls become the property deep woods and tall grasses.  Both Jim and I spent signiciant energy combing the wildnerness in search of our ball, often times finding many others lost and wayward Titleist, Pinnacle and Calloways.   We both played poorly but it was a extremely intense, focused, and despite the hot dry heat,  incredbily enjoyable.

And during the round I kept thinking of the podcast I listened to on the drive up that morning. Stephen Leavett, the economist on Freakonomics, was talking about his addiction to golf. And how he is trying to make up for his lack of tenacity on the high school golf team. How golf is incredibly frustrating and yet it teases you into thinking that maybe you’re finally getting it. Maybe you’re swing is reaching a level of trust and consistency.  As an economist he loves that golf has an intellectual element  with numbers and yardages and pars and distances and all the various and intricate uses of the clubs to used here and there and only sometimes.  He loves the fact that it is a physical sport and you’re outdoors walking among a beautiful park. But he also know that it’s an isidious sport, with rules designed to give you the illusion that you can excel when in brutal cold reality you will never tame it, you will never own it and you will always be it’s whipping boy.

On the 18th hole I took a 3 wood and placed it half way down a Par 4, smack dab center of the fairway. With my hybrid the placed the ball just to the right of green and with a quick chip I was on the green only to two putt. Not bad for me and it was great to finish up the round and feel like a real golfer, whatever that is.  Again the sport gave me a quick hit of joy and endorphins  to again give it a try tomorrow. I’m feeling the itch right now…..




Blog Challenge

30 07 2012

This past weekend my son Chris and I decided to accept the challenge of authoring 500 word each day and posting those writing daily for two weeks. The challenge starts tomorrow, Monday  July 30th.  But ever the over achiever I decided to start today.

The topic arose while visiting family in Madison WI.  My eldest son Mike has secured a new job in La Crosse WI  Mike has done well working for WEST  as a sales manager at a call center.   However  his new position is a move that provides a hefty raise , opportunity for professional growth, and an apartment that  moves him MUCH closer to Emma, so close they will be moving into together in quaint Galesville WI.  New starts are the entwinement of  both excitement and fright.  Far too often people wilt at the fear and choose the status quo.  Mike worked hard to find a new job and now the possiblity of his new life with Emma is huge.

It was a pleasant Saturday evening at the Baymont Inn’s courtyard when the Helmers clan convened to to  eating cheese  and crackers with home-brews, craft brews and wine.  It was during the discussion of Mike’s move the conversation shifted too the power of taking chances and moving forward. Mike said the goodbyes at West were hard. Many of this coworkers will miss him greatly. He mentioned that his parting email quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote….. ” Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”  Since high school Mike has appreciated this quote and it encapsulates his point of view on THIS new adventure. Far too few of his collegues and failed to take that step. And his hope that in some small way, he might be a model for others.

The conversation ebbed and flowed as the sun gently set. Chris and I took a queue from this conversation brought it into a different direction.  We spoke of the power of the written word and how to get better at it.  I once read that if you write 500 words per day and do it daily, you’ll quickly hone your skills and improve not only speed of your writing, but also the qualit . We kicked around a number of ideas  and we concluded there is shortage of great topics.  We have much to say and great writing speaks the truth.

As it became dark I repeated  my belief that  we must be brave in life. That the things your most proud of are those difficult accomplishments, ones that were hard, a grind, frightening and exhausting. That  despite the pain and suffering you  pull through and cross the finish line.  And maybe, if only in a small way, accepting the challenge of writing 500 words of day, might be yet another way of making these thoughts real. And so it begins.