Nothing special at NKC HS Choir Concert — Yeah, Right!


When we were headed out to the Spring Patio Concert of the NKC HS choral program, we asked our son, Nathan, whether there was anything of note of the program that we should know about. Nothing, he demurred. The fact that he had a solo, apparently, wasn’t anything to mention to us.

As parents, of course, that is perhaps the most important part of the concert to us:  See him singing below:

There were a lot of good numbers that evening, but I’ll just feature one more here, because it works thematically with the son the Men’s Choir above sang.  See below:

The reason I find these two song special is the energy, the quality, and the fact that they are both gospel/spirituals. You could tell the audience was into the energy and spirit of both. I really appreciate the breadth of musical styles that the Northtown choral program embraces, and that it doesn’t ignore these songs for fear of offending due to their religious tone.

A Blast of the Past #14 — family visits


We had made the move to Missouri in search of better employment. But another perk of the move was being closer to Betsy’s family. One of the disadvantages was being further from mine. One thousand miles dividend both ends. Living at either end means we are close to one and far from the other.


The other solution, to be between, is what my brother did with his location — which made him close to neither.

So with their first granddaughter now 1,000 miles away, my folks took a trip that same summer to visit her. Thus today’s blast from the past.


I look at the pictures from that trip, and think how different things are in them than they will be in a couple months when we have another family visit here, for a big event in that same granddaughter’s life.

What I am noticing is who will be missing that is in these pictures — my dad. How he looks in the pictures, vs. my memories of him, is also an interesting thing. Growing up, my dad was always 6 feet tall. My brother grew to be 6 feet 1 inch (or was it two inches). I topped out (so I thought) at 5 feet 10 1/2 inches. That half inch was important, because my sister was 5 feet 9 3/4.


But in these pictures I am taller than my dad. He also looks older than my main memories of him, and carries a cane. He was always older than I thought he was, having married late, but I can see that even here the Parkinson’s, that finally became the overriding health factor of his later years, was exerting its early signs.


Everyone had a good time together — even the granddaughter who allowed herself to be held and played with and might or might not remember much of all these people that came and went.


You need to learn to take advantage of these visits. The further away you are the more you realize how rare and valuable they are. Everything seems set and permanent while you are together.  It isn’t until you look back that you realize how quickly everything grows and changes.

Weekend Wrap-up on the All Season Dining Plan


This weekend I am doing a Monday wrap on the World of Fun Food plan.

We tried the Vittle Griddle for lunch on Saturday. It has a bacon cheeseburger, instead of a barbecue bacon cheeseburger at Coasters. Perhaps it was doing the 5K race that morning, but it seemed so much tastier and satisfying than the Coasters burger — and they must be basically the same thing.

Betsy and I also tried the applesauce. There was no price on the menu for it, so I put it down as zero.

LUNCH Restaurant Entree Price Side Price Total
Jonathan Vittle Griddle Bacon Cheeseburger $7.59 Applesauce NA $7.59
Betsy Vittle Griddle Chicken Tenders $7.99 Applesauce NA $7.99
Carly Vittle Griddle Bacon Cheesburger $7.59 Fries $4.99 $12.58
Nathan Vittle Griddle Chicken Tenders $7.99 Fries $4.99 $12.98
Total $41.14
Grand Total $612.19

For dinner most of us tried Gyro Express. It was actually rather tasty. Even though the sandwiches were made with almost no lettuce (they were almost out), and without the Gyro sauce, because they were out of it.

There were no individual sandwich prices on the board — only combos, so I took a guess at what to put down in the grid.

Dinner Restaurant Entree Price Side Price Total
Jonathan Gyro Express Beef Gyro $10.99 Kettle Chips NA $10.99
Betsy Gyro Express Chicken Gyro $10.99 Kettle Chips NA $10.99
Carly Gyro Express Beef Gyro $10.99 Kettle Chips NA $10.99
Nathan Auntie Anne’s Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel $5.59 Sweet Glaze $1.29 $6.88
Total $39.85
Grand Total $652.04


We went to the G’Rilla Grill for lunch on Sunday. It is basically a hot dog place. Carly and I both got specialty dogs — the KC dog. Nathan and Betsy got regulatr. They are foot long hot dogs with appropriately sized buns, so plenty to eat.  The KC dogs were good — they had bb, brisket shredded on them along with small french onion style onion rings. So heavily toploaded the buns want to fall over on their sides. One this for sure, the meals on the plan don’t have small portions.

LUNCH Restaurant Entree Price Side Price Total
Jonathan G’Rilla Grill KC Dog $6.99 Fries $4.99 $11.98
Betsy G’Rilla Grill Regular Dog $6.99 Fries $4.99 $11.98
Carly G’Rilla Grill KC Dog $6.99 Fries $4.99 $11.98
Nathan G’Rilla Grill Regular Dog $6.99 Fries $4.99 $11.98
Total $47.92
Grand Total $699.96

We dispersed some for dinner. Three of us tried Pizzo Pizza, but they only had cheese pizza, so the other two went to the Pizza Pier, which still had a variety. None of them had side salads. It seems there have been no salads so far this season. I make the conjecture that the salads might start to appear once they are open weekdays. They probably lose too much money trying to keep stork in place when they aren’t selling some and rotating it every day to spend so much on perishable produce.

Dinner Restaurant Entree Price Side Price Total
Jonathan Pizza Pier Pepperoni Pizza $5.59 Cookies $3.79 $9.38
Betsy Auntie Anne’s Original Pretzel $5.59 Sweet Glaze $1.29 $6.88
Carly Pizzo Pizza Cheese Pizza $5.59 Cheese Pizza $5.59 $11.18
Nathan Pizza Pier Pepperoni Pizza $5.59 Cookies $3.79 $9.38
Total $36.82
Grand Total $736.78

#10: O God, Our Help in Ages Past


(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)


O God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast,

And our eternal home!


Under the shadow of thy throne

Still may we dwell secure;

Sufficient is Thine arm alone,

And our defense is sure.


Before the hills in order stood

Or earth received her frame,

From everlasting thou art God,

To endless years the same.


Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;

They fly, forgotten, as a dream

Dies at the opening day.


O God our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Be thou our guide while life shall last,

And our eternal home.



This year I am bumping my amateur athlete status up a notch.

Yesterday I played a four-game series in the intramural kickball championship at work.

Today I ran the Kansas City Corporate Challenge 5K

Later this month I might be doing the KCCC Bike Race (if I win the company tryouts for the 2 slots — 4 of us competing).

At the end of June I coordinate and swim in the KCCC Swim Meet.

On Father’s Day I do the KCCC Individual Triathlon.

So I am doing all three parts of the triathlon individually, and then for the Tri as well.

So let me talk about today’s 5K.


Everyone lining up for the race.

It was the second 5K I have run.  The first one was last year, at the KCCC.

The race is tracked through computerized chips your wear on your shoe. When you cross the start line it logs your start time, and the same when you cross the finish line.

The start of the race is done in four waves, each one starting three minutes apart. The first wave is anyone who thinks they can run the race in under 24 minutes. The second wave is 25-28 minutes. The third wave is 29-36 minutes. The final wave is 37 minutes and above (but less than 75 minutes — you take more than 75 and your finish doesn’t count).

Last year I went to the front of the final wave, and finally got talked into the back of the third wave by the time the race started. I finished with a time of 28:57.6 (116 out of 163 in my age bracket).

This year I was trying to decide whether to go to the back of the second wave or front of the first wave. I opted for the back of the second wave.  But by the time everyone packed in, I was fairly close to the center of the wave. I figured this should be the right pack for me — hoping I could do a bit better this year.

Last year when I crossed the finish line I saw the time on the clock, but didn’t know what time I had run — since the clock wasn’t on zero when I started. This year I watched the clock as I went across the start line. They didn’t start the second wave until the clock said 3 minutes, so when my center of the wave crossed the starting line the clock read 3:23. I waited and walked to just before the starting line and then started jogging.


Walking to the starting line. Wave 2 advances.

The course starts down Ward Parkway for about a block, and then turns and goes north, which also happens to be slightly uphill, until it reaches 83rd street, where it turns around and heads back to the finish line.  There is a lot of jostling and position seeking on that first part into the turnaround and then the first block north. But after that point, the jostling isn’t no intense.


Coming out of the first corner.

The hard part in a pack is how to find a pace and to keep it. You tend to pass people, or get passed by people, and sometimes you get a little walled up if you aren’t watching far enough ahead, and have to pull back until you can get around.  All that pacing, the physiology and psychology of it, can have a significant effect on your time.

Last year I had a lot more space. Since I was faster than most of my pack I kept on passing forward. This year I was in the middle of my pack, and stayed in the middle, passing some and being passed by others.

One of my pacing advantages is that I have a fairly good sense of my maintenance pace. I can find the pace that is at the top of the speed I can maintain without having a fall-off or a burnout. There were a few people I passed along the patch that had started out faster ahead of me, and then, at the 1, or 2, or even half-way to the third mile just pulled up and almost stopped. They had burned out.

This year I found a pace fairly early and think I maintained it throughout the entire race. There were a couple of times where I had to slow slightly before I could get a clear passing, but I think I didn’t let it affect the overall pace.

Last year I started slow and found myself trying to go faster all the time, and had to keep checking myself to make sure I wasn’t overspeeding. I wasn’t, but I hadn’t quite learned my pacing last year.

The last two blocks to 83rd street actually go downhill before you turn the corner and head back, around the corner was the water station. Last year I was running slow enough I could drink the water while running, this year every time I tried to swallow most of the water in the cup went out and around my mouth. I put as much water on my shirt and in my goatee. The water around the goatee was actually a minor distraction until I wiped it off. The shirt — that was somewhat wet from sweat so it didn’t make that much difference.

Since the last two blocks go down to 83rd, the first two blocks headed south go uphill. It can be a bit of a struggle to run up, while drinking water, after turning a corner. But once you make it to the top of the hill, it is “all downhill” from there.

Well, actually I doubt that.  It is basically all downhill, but the downhill runs out and becomes level, or a very slight uphill, on the last block or two to the finish line.

My pacing was fine for the turn, and getting up the hill, and then came the psychology to not feel the race was “almost over” too quickly, but to keep the pace solid. It gets tricky when you hit the flat stretch. You just know the finish line should be in view, but you can’t see it. I was battling with that, trying to decide when and whether I should put on a last burn of speed to the finish line.  Too soon and I might have that dropout that I saw others do; too late and I miss the benefit that brings my time down.

Because the downside of being able to do your maintenance pace so well, is that a good racer knows how to use up the reserves during the race, so you give it all you have by the end, and not before. But when I start to increase my pace past maintenance I feel the reserve being used up, and my breath — it is always the breath that seems to be my limiter — gets tighter and faster. Learning to push through that, even to a sense of gasping, is the wall I face.

Pushing to the finish.

Pushing to the finish.

Today I started to push as soon as I could see the finish line, and started to get the sense of gasping. I pushed a little more — didn’t slow, but didn’t really accelerate a lot either. I did pass people the entire distance to the finish line — watching the time clock flash 29:19 as it left my vision while I was crossing the line.

I ran through the finish line. Major Kevin Hardin of the Army Reserves had told me the military aphorism — “move through the objective” — which means you don’t move to the target, you move through it. For the race it means keeping full speed until after you are past the finish line.  So I crossed and then started to decelerate.

If I caught the clock time correctly, my time for the race should be under 26 minutes. But the official times won’t be up on the website until tomorrow or Monday.

After the race there are several sponsors and vendors that set up water and refreshment booths for the runners. There were bananas, oranges, protein balls, protein fortified chocolate milk product, bagel pieces, etc., and of course water.  Everyone mills around, eats, talks, stretches, out, before heading off to the rest of their day.

talking and recharging afterward.

talking and recharging afterward.

I guess I didn’t mention that the race started at 7:30 a.m., which means it was only 8 a.m. when I finished. Runners are often morning people, I guess.

Seven (squared) years


The day was a Sunday. It was early morning. The mother-to-be went into labor and was taken to the hospital. Her husband was at the hospital, but the labor took awhile, and the cows needed to be milked, so he left to tend to their biorhythms. When the mother-to-be found out he wasn’t there, she refused to have the baby until he got back. And so, a few hours later, after he got back, she gave birth to a boy — all 10 pounds, 8 and a half ounces of him. Being a Sunday, and being delivered before church finished, his birth was apparently announced that same Sunday in service — to the groan of every woman in the sanctuary.

That is the story, pieced together from the stories I remember being told as I grew up (unless, of course, I managed to combine elements of the birth of my siblings with mine — oops — yes, the story is about my birth).

I was born a second son, and became the middle of three children. And a lot has happened in the intervening years. We still stay in contact, even though in three different states. And we still have an interesting sense of humor. For instance, see the below birthday cards — which are part and parcel of the type of cards we have exchanged through the years.

CarlyYear20001 CarlyYear20002 CarlyYear20003 CarlyYear20004

We siblings created a lot of imaginary worlds out of the terrain around our house on the farm. As I think about seven squared, I realize that many of mine featured the number seven. I even created a whole country of heptagonia — a seven-sided country with seven rivers. After my dad built us a circular house I even started designing house ideas for myself — seven-sided.

I always seemed to be good with structural things of that type — where “world-building” was concerned.  In writing fiction I could design backgrounds — it is a plot with tension that always eludes me in making the proper story. I remember one world where I designed a calendar of seven week months, a currency based on sevens, etc.

People make a big deal of the mile-stone birthdays — usually ending in zero. But that is so deca-centric. For those interested in the number seven, like some of my designed worlds, seven squared would be a very special year.

At least that is my plan — a reason to make every year special, and so there will be a lot of special plans today.

True North and South; True East and West


This story goes back a few years. I work downtown, and was using the bus to commute back and forth from work (now I use both bike and bus). My bus stop was half a mile from my office, east to west.

In Kansas City, MO, all the numbered streets run east-west, the numbering starting at the river, and numbering up from there. Streets north of the river have north in their name; south of the river streets have no north or south, just a plain number name.

It was a hot summer day and I was walking along the south side of the street, east to west, to catch the shadows off the north sides of the buildings.

Except, the shadows were coming from the south sides of the buildings, covering the north sides of the streets.

I tried to figure out why that was, how it could be? I never resolved it at the time.

One of my conjectures was about the Tropic of Cancer. The earth moves on its axis through the seasons. The furthest north it moves is the Tropic of Cancer; the furthest south it moves is the Tropic of Capricorn. If we were below the tropic of Cancer, there would be a time when the sun could come from the north. But we are far north of the Tropic of Cancer, so it couldn’t be that.


It wasn’t until recently that I was looking at a map of downtown, and found one that was oriented so north-south was perfect up-down and east-west was side to side. That was when I noticed something: the streets don’t seem to run true east-west. The directions of the streets I was walking are off askew. Not that they seem to skew the right direction all the times to explain all the shadows I see, but it is finally a start.

But it does prove a point about assumptions and what we know to be true. The streets run east-west. That is a general rule, but it tells us nothing about any specific street.

I suppose the same thing could be true about any generalizations.Talk people. Gender, race, religion, etc., we “know” something about them, as groups, but it doesn’t guarantee we know anything about a particular individual. Generalizations are helpful, but most dangerous when we are most certain about what we know.

So the next time you see a shadow on the wrong side — remember the danger of assumptions — and confidence in the things you know are true.