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Sunday, June 28, 2009


"Billy Mays: 1958-2009"

Early this morning, Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman who became a pop-icon for his boisterous commercial pitches on television, died. He was 50.

David Carradine, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and now Billy Mays. This has become a sad month for celebrity obituaries.

"TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead at Florida home"

-Jon

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Friday, June 26, 2009


"Friday in Review"

Spent the day painting an apartment. Long day. Finished the job. Came home. Exhausted. Had a Subway sandwich for dinner. Very tasty. Tired. Heading to bed early.

-Jon

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Thursday, June 25, 2009


"Michael Jackson: 1958-2009"

Early this afternoon, Michael Jackson, former child star, inventor of the moonwalk, and world-renowned "King of Pop", died of a heart attack. He was 50 years old.

"King of Pop Michael Jackson dies, aged 50"

-Jon

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"Farrah Fawcett: 1947-2009"

Emmy nominated actress, and "Charlie's Angels" star, Farrah Fawcett, died this morning, nearly three years after being diagnosed with cancer. She was 62 years old.

"'Charlie's Angel' Farrah Fawcett dies at 62"

-Jon

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009


"Jon Baas: Employee"

During the past few days, one of my projects has been to go through archived documents, financial statements, paycheck stubs, old letters, and so forth. Most of it was in a box I haven't unpacked since I moved to this apartment back in August. While doing all this, though, I've come across many interesting discoveries, and have been reminded of just as many wonderful memories. This evening, I thought I'd share some of that with you.

Tonight, it comes in the form of a list of companies I once worked for. A peek into my employment history -- a part of my life few readers know about. These days, I'm self-employed; I run my own business. But there was a time not too long ago, when I was an employee... when I was on the payroll. And this is where I worked:
Fascinating, huh! And yes, my daycare job was a government job. The Commissioners of the Parks and Recreation Board are elected by the citizens of Minneapolis, and my paycheck was funded by public tax dollars. I bet you didn't know that!

It's amazing what you discover when you look through old files!

-Jon

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"Hot'n Muggy"

Yesterday's high temperature here in Milwaukee was 89F, although the heat index made it feel more like 97F. Today's high temperature exceeded that, topping out at 94F (with the heat index right around 100). I sure am glad this apartment has air-conditioning!

-Jon

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Sunday, June 21, 2009


"Summer Begins"

Today is the first day of Summer. Hot days, here we come!

-Jon

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Saturday, June 20, 2009


"Quote of the Day"

"Energy and persistence conquer all things."
-- Benjamin Franklin

-Jon

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Friday, June 19, 2009


"Bat Swinging"

Minor League baseball player Josh Womack has a unique bat swing. Here's a video where he shows off his skills for the camera. Watch closely, and enjoy! ... [video]

-Jon

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


"College Dorm Light Show"

Here's something fun: Students at the Wroclawska University of Technology in Poland rigged their dorm with a light show that played the theme from the tv show, Knight Rider. ... [video]

-Jon

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"Jon Baas: Now on Twitter"

After much thought and research, I've decided to give Twitter a try -- maybe a week or two. If I like it, I'll keep it. If not, I'll move on. For now.... I'm on Twitter! You're welcome to follow.

Adventure and discovery may (or may not) ensue.

-Jon

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"Drink Milk. Survive."

Drink Milk. It's always been survival of the fittest. That said, here's a fun little compilation of animated 'Drink Milk' commercials by the BC Dairy Foundation of Canada. Enjoy! ... [video]

-Jon

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009


"Cahokia"

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is the site of an ancient Native American city (650–1400 CE) near Collinsville, Illinois in the American Bottom floodplain, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri. The 2,200-acre site included 120 man-made earthen mounds over an area of six square miles. Cahokia was larger than London was in 1250 AD.

Cahokia Mounds is the largest archaeological site related to the Mississippian culture, which developed advanced societies in eastern North America centuries before the arrival of Europeans.

I am strangely fascinated by this ancient culture, so I thought I'd share. (I also learned a great deal more about them while I was visiting the Chicago Field Museum last week.) Interesting stuff. Consider it your history lesson of the day. Enjoy!

-Jon

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"Six Intriguingly Shaped Communities: As Seen On Google Maps"

The introduction of mapping applications such as Google Maps, and their rapidly growing world-wide use, have resulted in people taking an interest in an interactive view of the world that has previously been very difficult to obtain. There are millions of fascinating places to discover. Yet, when living at ground level -- as we do, we rarely see them in their full glory.

As an example, here are some intriguingly shaped communities that take on a new appearance when viewed from the air. As well as those same areas pinpointed in embedded online maps. Take a look around. Explore. Have fun. Enjoy!

-Jon

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Monday, June 15, 2009


"A Quiet Weekend"

I've had the last few days to myself. Quiet. Peaceful. Uneventful.

My roomate, Scott, is off traveling northern Wisconsin with his aunt. They're checking out some of the historic lighthouses up in Door County -- they have family history up there. Meanwhile, here in my apartment, I've just been lounging around, playing a computer game, watching movies... being a bum. I figure it's a good thing to do when you have the place to yourself. :)

Of course, now that the week has started anew.... it's time to get back to business. Less playtime, more brain work. Here's hoping I get a lot done. We'll see.

-Jon

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Thursday, June 11, 2009


"Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig!"

Well, I'm back in Milwaukee... safe and sound. Kelli and I got back to my apartment about 11pm last night, and we were both dead tired... so she just crashed here. Her original plan was to drive back to Brillion (to pick up a few things, and then head west to Tomah later), but that would have been another hour and a half of driving -- and at night too no less. She wouldn't have made it.

So, after a restful night, Kelli went on her way this morning, and I'm preparing to spend most of today and tomorrow painting more apartments for my landlord. It's back to work for me. Painting apartments... and designing t-shirts. Whohooo!

I am going to miss the fun of this past week, though. Playing tourist. Hanging out with Kelli. Visiting some fascinating places. I guess it had to end sometime, right? But the memories I've gained... oh, the memories! Those are priceless. I can't wait for our next exciting adventure!

-Jon

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009


"Chicago Traffic"

We're making our way through Chicago at the moment, and the freeway traffic is still bad. Even after 9pm. Do these Chicago drivers ever sleep? Oi.

I love the sights that Chicago has to offer. But this city has way too many cars. :)

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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"Leaving Dowagiac"

After a relaxing day hanging out at the W's house, and attendance at the Wednesday night church service at St. John's, Kelli and I are on the road again. We're heading back through Chicago and up to Milwaukee. After that, Kelli heads west to Tomah for a visit with family, and I return to business as usual in the Brew City.

It's been a fun week, and a week that's gone by faster than I expected. But, I had a great time, I met some wonderful new people, and I played tourist for a while. When it comes to vacations.... you can't get much better than that!

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009


"Deer Skulls"

There are 20 deer skulls/antlers mounted on the walls of the finished basement where I've been sleeping these past few nights. Twenty skulls. I counted. And that doesn't include the two stuffed deer heads (and the deer hide from one of them) mounted on the wall above the massive fireplace in the living room upstairs.

Yeah, that's some serious hunting! I'm impressed!

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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"Tuesday in Review: A Dowagiac Recap"

Went to nearby South Bend, Indiana to do some shopping. Visited Barnes and Noble. Had lunch at Wendy's with Mrs. W., Little W. and Kelli. Mmmm! Tasty! Spent some time in "the teacher store" -- one of Kelli's favorite places to find all manner of educational books, materials, and cool teacher stuff! Treated the W. family to dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in downtown Dowagiac. Decided not to stay up so late. Going to sleep shortly (on the futon in the finished basement).

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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Monday, June 08, 2009


"A Monday in Dowagiac"

Kelli and I spent the day driving around Dowagiac, and visiting with a few of her old friends. We stopped in at St. John's -- her former church and school. I took a tour, saw her old classroom, and met the Pastor and his wife. I listened quietly as Kelli reminisced with old colleagues, talked teacher politics,... and was informed of the armed robbery that took place that morning in one of the town's two banks (news travels fast in a town this size!).

For lunch, Kelli introduced me to Saylor's, the "Home of the $5 Pizza", and the best chicken-ranch pizza I've ever eaten! It's been a long-time favorite of hers, and something she's missed dearly since moving away. There's a pizza place up in Brillion that's added it to their menu too, but it's not as good as the Saylor's original. If you want chicken-ranch pizza, THIS is where you go.

For dinner, Kelli and I were invited to the home of her former principal and his family. They've been long-time friends of hers, and, ironically, Mr. B. (roughly my age) is even the son of Kelli's pastor back home in Tomah, Wisconsin (where Kelli grew up). Pastor B. (in Tomah) will be officiating our wedding next year. Small world, huh!

After enjoying tasty grilled brats and hamburgers, the five adults (Principal B, his expecting wife, the Dowagiac pastor's wife, Kelli, and myself) sat outside watching the three little B. children running around in the backyard playing with bubbles. It's amazing how much energy little ones have. They made me tired just watching -- from my comfy lawn chair. Oi!

After dinner and chat, Kelli and I returned to the W's log house in the woods, and settled in for the night. Little W. (the 8-year-old daughter) went to bed around 9pm, and Mr. W. followed shortly thereafter (he has to travel for work early tomorrow). That left Mrs. W., Kelli, and myself chatting under the wood rafters of the fireplace-dominated lodge-like living room. Man, I love this house!

It's late -- going on midnight -- and we're still up talking. :)

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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Sunday, June 07, 2009


"A Cabin in the Woods"

Originally, Kelli and I had planned to go camping while we were in Michigan. But, a friend (and parent of one of Kelli's former students) invited us to stay at their house instead. So, for the three nights we're in town, this will be our home base.

It's a very beautiful home too. Mr. W, a successful engineer in his 50's, is also an avid hunter, so, three years ago, he and his wife bought this house tucked away in the woods. It's a high-tech modern-style two-story log cabin house surrounded by many acres of woodland. Mr. W goes hunting here, and it's here that the two of them raise their 8-year-old adopted daughter.

As soon as we pulled into the driveway, I fell in love with the place. Even the bi-level pond with the artificial waterfall in the backyard drew me in. The sound of gently falling water is ever-present, and, so very relaxing. I could see myself living here -- or at least in a place like this. It's rustic, yet modern. Tucked away in the woods, yet only ten minutes from historic downtown Dowagiac.

Camping would have been fun. But staying in a log cabin/house like this... even better!

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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"Farewell Chicago; Hello Dowagiac"

Kelli and I just crossed into the state of Indiana.

We're on our way eastward, preparing for the second leg of our Midwest adventure. We've concluded our wonderful visit in Chicago (which sadly went by way too fast!), and now are driving over to Michigan, so that we can spend a few days in the small town where Kelli taught up until last summer. A town called Dowagiac.

Before we left Chicago, though, and after we checked out of our hotel, Kelli and I spent the day at the Adler Planetarium. We saw three shows (one in 3-D, one at the "IMax", and the other in the Planetarium itself), we walked around some of the space-oriented exhibits, and we enjoyed a light lunch in the cafe (while watching expensive boats drift past on Lake Michigan). It was quite an experience, and one that I would highly recommend to anyone -- especially those interested in the stars, space travel, or the universe in general!

For now, though, we're on the road again. Lots to do. Not enough time to do it all in. I'm sure Kelli and I will be back to Chicago to play tourist again sometime, but for now... time to visit Michigan. Time to enjoy some of Kelli's past. :)

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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Saturday, June 06, 2009


"Chicago Saturday: History, Fish & Honduras"

Kelli and I were tourists today. After a tasty breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we walked over to the Field Museum and spent the early part of the day exploring the extensive Native American and Egyptian exhibits. We even took in a third exhibit simulating life underground among the ants, earthworms, and other creepy-crawlies. All three were fantastic experiences!

In the later afternoon, Kelli and I walked next door to the Shedd Aquarium. Here we saw all manner of live marine and aquatic wildlife -- everything from sharks and jellyfish, to stingrays and Beluga whales. While it rained, and grew cold outside, the two of us were indoors exploring underwater habitats teaming with colorful fish, coral, and the occasional human diver.

On our way back to the hotel in the early evening (all the tourist locations in Chicago close around 5-6pm), we walked through Grant Park again. It was still damp and rainy, but dry enough to be outdoors. This time, however, the park was teeming with hundreds of people, and most of them were dressed in blue and white.

Apparently, in nearby Soldier Field (the stadium home of the Chicago Bears), there was a FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifying soccer match between Honduras and the USA. Blue and white are the Honduran national colors. With the exception of five or six people wearing American flags, most of the people walking the other way were apparently rooting for Honduras.

UPDATE: - (Saturday, June 12 - 3:42 PM)
US rebounds to beat Honduras 2-1

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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"In Remembrance of D-Day"

D-Day, June 6, 1944. Sixty-five years ago, 160,000 soldiers of the Allied Forces (Britain, United States, Canada, and France) invaded German-held Normandy Beach in France. On D-Day alone, 3,000 of those men were killed, and 9,000 were wounded or missing. Today we honor those heroes. Today we honor the heroes who courageously turned the tide of WWII (In Europe).

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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Friday, June 05, 2009


"Late Night Musings"

I'm sitting down here in the hotel lobby. Kelli is asleep in our room up on the seventh floor; I couldn't sleep. It's like the city is calling me -- the lights, the sounds, the ambiance. I want to go explore some more, but I can't just leave Kelli asleep upstairs. She would worry.

So, I'm sitting down here in the lobby, watching and musing at how busy things are. Dozens of people coming and going, a feeling of energy in the air, yet... it's after midnight. For some reason, I find all this to be quite fascinating.

Our hotel overlooks Grant Park. I think I'll go step outside for a bit, take in the evening atmosphere, watch some of the street life, and then head back up to our room. Tomorrow, Kelli and I are planning to visit the the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and maybe (if we have time) the Adler Planetarium -- all three of which are within walking distance of our hotel.

Busy day. I suppose I should probably go try and get some sleep, eh? :)

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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"Grant Park"

Chicago's Grant Park is gorgeous -- day or night. Beautiful flowers, winding paths, and a pristine location right on Lake Michigan.

Kelli and I took a leisurely stroll through this green space as the sun was setting... and I think I'm in love! We sat on a bench and watched the boats out on the Lake. We marveled as the massive city skyline lit up. And we smiled at all the couples and dog walkers (with dogs of all kinds) doing the same thing we were -- strolling in a beautiful park on a beautiful night.

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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"'Tis a Busy Busy City"

Chicago cab drivers honk at EVERYTHING (even immovable objects)! Such utterly impatient people. And the massive sea of downtown pedestrians seem to be completely oblivious to crossing traffic. It's a miracle so few of them get run over!

I tell ya, I live in a large Midwestern city (large by normal standards), and yet I still feel as though I have culture shock here in Chicago. And you know what? I don't care. This is awesome!

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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"Macy's, on State Street"

Macy's: Downtown Chicago = Seven floors of shopper heaven. This is officially the largest department store that I have ever been in!

While Kelli drove around the block a few times (street parking is hard to find in downtown Chicago), I ran into Macy's to pick of the Go Chicago Card tourist passes that my brother Ben had on hold for us. These would be our access to over 30 of Chicago's top tourist attractions.

(See my June 1, 2009 blog post to read about why I am in Chicago.)

I, of course, had to take the central escalators all the way up to the seventh floor visitor center... but along the way, I got a first-hand look at what is, apparently, the "2nd largest department store in the world". Oh, yeah... I can certainly believe that!

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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"Arriving in the Windy City"

Wow! Chicago is HUGE! Endless skyscrapers, pretty parks, and 2.8 million people (9.5 million in the greater metro area). Honestly, I've forgotten just how big this city really is. Milwaukee (597,000 people) feels like a small farm town compared to this place.

Yep. These next few days are going to be quite an adventure!

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(This entry was hand-written, and posted upon my return to Milwaukee.)

-Jon

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"Leaving for Chicago"

Well, folks, time for another road trip! I'm heading out with Kelli for Chicago, and should be back on Wednesday or Thursday. Like last week, I'll be writing my blogs on paper as we travel, and then transcribing them right here once I return. Stay tuned... and I'll see you on the flip side! :)

-Jon

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009


"The Last Titanic Survivor"

Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean, the last remaining survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 died on Sunday. She was 97 years-old.

She was nine weeks old when the Titanic sank -- the youngest passenger on board.

"Millvina Dean, last Titanic survivor, dies in England: reports"

-Jon

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Monday, June 01, 2009


"Home Again; Preparing for Chicago"

I'm back in Milwaukee. I grabbed the Greyhound bus out of Manitowoc a little after 4pm, and an hour and a half later, I was back in the Brew City. By 7pm I was home. Now I've got a short -- but busy -- week ahead of me, and then on Friday, Kelli and I will be driving down to Chicago for the weekend. My Marine brother, Ben, is sending us there as a 2008 Christmas gift.

In fact, Ben has already reserved us a hotel for two nights, pre-paid two 3-day tourist passes to get us into our choice of thirty Chicago destinations (museums, Sears Tower, etc), AND sent along a little spending money for meals, gas, and the like. It's an opportunity for Kelli and myself to spend some time together in the Windy City. And then come Sunday night, we'll be over in Southwestern Michigan visiting friends (where she used to teach).

So... it'll be quite an adventure, and one both Kelli and I have been looking forward to with much anticipation for the past five months! Yep. Verrrrrry excited! :)

Stay tuned. I'll tell you all about it too (although, probably after I get back).

-Jon

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Jon Baas

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