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Monday, March 29, 2010

"MLB 10: The Show"

I've never been much of a video game player. I didn't grow up with them in the house. My mom always encouraged us six kids to go outside and play instead of sitting around in front of the television. And to be honest, I think that was a wise thing of her to do. It helped nurture my imagination (one of the blessings I am so grateful for these days!), and it gave me plenty of opportunities for exercise -- something kids get less and less of these days.

Now that I'm older, and have been out on my own for over a decade, I'm still not much of a video game player. My roommate and best friend, Scott, on the other hand is. He collects video game systems going all the way back to the Atari 2600 of the early 1980's. It's a hobby of his. And he has 12 different game systems dating back to the Atari. Yes... twelve. And he has two bookshelves full of games to go with that collection.

His most recent acquisition was a PlayStation 3 -- the latest in the line of console systems produced by Sony. He's picked up a few games for the PS3 too, and has been playing them whenever he's off from work. One of those games is a highly realistic graphical baseball simulation known as MLB 10: The Show.

Now, as many of you know, I'm a huge baseball fan. I grew up watching the Milwaukee Brewers play, and to this day, they're still "my team". Baseball is in my blood. Always will be. So, when this highly realistic baseball game entered my apartment, you can imagine the curiosity that has ensued. I'm hooked. The graphics are set up as though you're watching the "players" on television. The sights and sounds are unmistakably baseball. The action and game play are about as smooth as real life. And you can even play as yourself in a detailed simulation that brings you up through the minor leagues! Yep. It's amazing what video games can do these days!

I've never really had an interest in video games. It's just part of who I am. But this one.... well, this one I have to be very careful with. I can't let myself get sucked in. I have far too many things in real life that need my attention. But, nonetheless, I will have to admit: the thought of buying my own PS3 has crossed my mind many times already.

Even if just so that I can keep playing MLB 10: The Show after I'm married. :)

-Jon

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

"The Wonder of Woodman's"

Earlier this afternoon, Scott (roommate) and I decided to get out of the apartment and take a trip to the local Woodman's Food Market. Neither of us had been to one before, and we'd both heard fascinating stories, so we decided to go explore.

Woodman's, for those of you who aren't familiar, is an employee-owned supermarket chain here in Wisconsin and upper Illinois. It operates on an warehouse model, and has stores roughly five times the size of your standard large supermarket. In other words... Woodman's are HUGE! For comparison sake, they're larger than a standard Super Wal-Mart, only with nothing but food. In fact, at a Woodman's, you can find just about anything in the realm of food. This includes foreign and ethnic brands rarely found elsewhere in the states, and lesser-known local brands that don't make it to the large chain grocery store shelves.

To be honest, the store is a bit of an attraction.

Scott and I were curious, so we went to the Oak Creek Woodman's. Initially, we just went to explore and take in the experience, but in the end, we both ended up with bags of groceries to take home. We were planning on having tacos for dinner, so I picked up an unfamiliar Mexican salsa. I found a brand and flavor of potato chips that I usually have a hard time finding at the my usual grocery store. And we marveled for a bit at the local Wisconsin cheeses, the specialty candy, the long row of BBQ sauce brands from all over the country, the store sized section of bread and produce, and the vast varieties of just about everything else.

It was quite an experience. I've been to large grocery stores before, but nothing quite as large as this. And prices were good too -- at least in comparison to what I'm used to elsewhere. All that variety. In fact, I even overheard a young woman as she walked past us, talking on her cellphone. Her comment made me laugh: "I just want to get in, find my [item], and get out without buying anything else." And you know, it's the truth. In a store like that, it's far too easy to buy more than you go in looking for. But it's worth it!

If you get the chance, and there's a Woodman's Food Market near you, go explore. Enjoy the experience, and see if you too aren't sold on the concept. If you do go, just be warned... your pocketbook will probably make an appearance!

-Jon

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Quote of the Day"

"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being."
-- Oscar Wilde

-Jon

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Friday, March 26, 2010

"Jon's Milwaukee Snow Shoveling Comes to an End"

For the past couple winters, I've been shoveling snow off of sidewalks at the local properties owned by my landlord. It's been a wonderful opportunity, a steady on-going project, and a great way to get some winter exercise. But it's also come to an end. Unless we get an unexpected snowfall in the coming weeks, today will have marked the last time I work in this capacity.

For most of the day today, my task was to help take down and put away the last vestiges of winter from each of those apartment complexes. Blue plastic salt barrels were removed from their wooden stands, rolled into a garage, and stored away until the weather grows cold again. Tupperware tubs of salt were collected from front doors, emptied, and stacked near the blue barrels. And dozens of steel fence posts were uprooted from the thawing ground, while the orange plastic snow fences they supported were rolled up and stored away. Even the snow blower and show shovels got moved to Summer locations.

Winter is over; it's Springtime here in Wisconsin. And with Spring comes warmer weather. But with Spring also comes the anticipation of Summer. And in Summer, I'm getting married and moving north to be with my wife. I will no longer live in the Milwaukee area, and I will be unable to continue my years of snow removal.

In some ways, it's a bittersweet end. Truth is, I enjoyed the work. It was cold, and I wasn't always excited to be out in the freezing weather, but was good work nonetheless. Next winter, I'll be living in small town, Wisconsin. The most shoveling I'll be required to do, are the few feet of sidewalk outside my fiancee's front door. Maybe even the few feet of driveway in front of her apartment garage. Compared to what I've been shoveling so far, it'll be a significantly less intensive job.

Sure, I'll probably miss the heavy labor. The smell of snow blower gasoline on a crisp snowy morning. The pretty layer of white. The beauty of Milwaukee in winter. But when all is said and done, I'd rather be living with my wife, in our apartment... with less snow to shovel.

A new chapter in my life is beginning. And the shoveling is just one part of the last chapter that is rapidly coming to an end. So, here's to new projects. New experiences. New opportunities. And a far less familiar snow shovel!

-Jon

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Year of Giving: Unemployed Man Giving Away $10 Every Day"

Reed Sandridge lost his job last year, and decided to take up a new hobby. Every day he gives away $10 to someone who looks as if they could use it. Every day it's a different person. And Sandridge expects nothing in return but a good feeling.

Sandridge is using his savings as well as his unemployment benefits for the giveaways. And he tells stories of the people he meets in his blog, which has, in turn, led others to help out as well. Here's Reed's blog: Year of Giving. Give it a read. You may be inspired as well.

-Jon

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"Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir - 'Lux Aurumque'"



Here's something fascinating: Composer Eric Whitacre organized a choir of 184 singers from 12 different countries, all of whom had never sung together until their voices were edited into one track. Each singer was conducted through a prerecorded conductor track on YouTube, and then combined into a single performance. The result is Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir.

It's well worth a watch, and a listen. Sit back, and enjoy!

-Jon

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Virtual Flight Over Mars"



British 3D animation expert Adrian Lark has created a virtual flight over Mars. The virtual camera flies 300 feet above Candor Chasma canyon on the martian surface, and was created from NASA's image data using Mars Explorer, and was captured in realtime.

Fascinating stuff!

-Jon

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"Pompeii Fast Food Restaurant to Open After 2,000 Years"

In what may be the longest refurbishment period in history, the Pompeii-based snack bar owned by Vetutius Placidus is to re-open. Its last customers left in a hurry 1,921 years ago, but, this time around, the high profile launch promises to be a much more casual affair.

Three hundred specially invited guests will taste the delights of Roman fast food in the thermopolium (aka, "snack bar"), in a special ceremony that will mark the reopening of the ancient restaurant. Now, after a long period of excavation and preservation, visitors will be able to once again sample the house specialty -- baked cheese with lashings of honey.

Sounds tasty! Anyone know how I can get an invite? :)

-Jon

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"The Buckingham Palace Guard Goes To The Final Frontier"

The Queen's Guards at Buckingham Palace in London are famous for their elaborate "changing of the guard" -- watched daily by tourists from around the world. But, did you know... they also have a band? Yes indeed. The band accompanies the changing of the guard and often plays popular music. Not too long ago they did a medley of Star Trek themes. Take a peek! ... [video]

Actually, playing popular music is not unusual. According to the official site for the Royal Family, "The handover is accompanied by a Guards band. The music played ranges from traditional military marches to songs from films and musicals and even familiar pop songs." Nonetheless... my geeky side is happily amused! Enjoy!

-Jon

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"Playing Catch-Up; Back to Blogging as Usual"

It's been a busy two weeks in my corner of the world. Since I last posted, I've: painted rooms in a few more apartments. Started rehearsals for "The Trip To Bountiful" (we're well over a week into the process now). I've traveled north and spent a weekend visiting Kelli in Brillion. I've concluded my wedding counseling with Kelli and our pastor. This blog has migrated to a new server. And I'm back into the swing of things with designing, artwork, and other creative ventures.

Now that things are rolling smoothly again, and this blog is up and running at it's new location, my blogging can return to normal. Stick around. If you haven't already, please take a moment and update your bookmarks. And if you're not visiting my Facebook page -- Jon Baas Fans -- you're missing out. I post there on a daily basis as well. Shorter posts. More interaction.

So. We're back in the swing of things. There's a new blog location, and an ongoing invite to be part of my activities on Facebook. Come join the fun! Become a fan today!

And with that... I return you to your regularly scheduled blogging. Have fun!

-Jon

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Jon's Blog: A New Location"

Well folks, the change is official; my blog has a new web address. And, since you're reading this, right here -- right now, you've found it safely. Welcome to the new location for "Jon Baas: Daily Musings" -- BlogSpot.com!

The reason for the move is this: Blogger has decided to change their publishing policies, and end support for all bloggers who publish directly to their own website domains. For eight years, this is how I've done things. But, change is inevitable, and my publishing methods must go with the flow. So, to make this easy for everyone, I've relocated to BlogSpot. My posting will continue from here.

Please take a moment and update your bookmarks. Blogging will resume shortly.

-Jon

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

"Star Trek Wins Academy Award!"

The 82nd Academy Awards were held this evening, and JJ Abrams "Star Trek" made franchise history. It became the first -- and only -- Star Trek film to win an Academy Award. Nominated in four categories, it took home the Oscar for Best Makeup.

In addition, the film's composer, Michael Giacchino, took home an Oscar of his own for his original score in another movie... Disney/Pixar's "Up".

-Jon

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"Crochetdermy"

Artist Shauna Richardson has an interesting theme to her artwork. She produces trophy animals by crochet! In fact, she has been commissioned to produce three giant crocheted lions to be displayed at the 2012 Olympic games in London.

Take a peek at her Crochetdermy artwork, and enjoy!

-Jon

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

"8 Precariously Placed Cliff Towns"

These quaint towns have it all -- remote location, rich history, classic architecture, and most of all, breathtaking views. The thing is, each one is nestled into a cliff, or resting above a deep gorge. They're cliff towns, and you won't find any of them in the United States.

-Jon

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Jon Baas Cast in Milwaukee Stage Production, 'The Trip To Bountiful'"

Last week, I was asked to audition for a stage show here in Milwaukee. Auditions had already been held, but they wanted to see some additional people. I was one of them. So I agreed, went downtown on Saturday afternoon, read a few scenes, and on Monday was given a role.

Long story short, I've been cast as the male lead in the Acacia Theatre production, "The Trip To Bountiful", by Pulitzer prize-winning American playwright, Horton Foote. The play is set in 1953 Texas, and I will be playing the role of Ludie Watts.

For those that are interested, here's the play synopsis:

"Carrie Watts years to escape her son and his wife's stifling Houston apartment for one last return to her roots in Bountiful, Texas. Running away from her present life to fulfil her dream of returning home again, she finally arrives with results that are both poignant and brilliantly life-affirming. Through laughter and tears, this Pulitzer prize-winning playwright explores the inevitable need to assert independence and reawaken the memories of yesterday."

Performance dates are May 7-16 in the Todd Wehr Auditorium at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, WI. Rehearsals start next week.

I'll be blogging about rehearsals, preparation for the show, performances, and other fun trivia. This may well be my last stage production in the Milwaukee area before I get married and move north in July. Don't miss out! It'll be a good one. Stay tuned!

-Jon

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Jon Baas

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