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Friday, December 24, 2010

"Merry Christmas!"

As previously noted, I will be traveling this Holiday season. So, until I return, this blog is in hiatus. But fear not, I will continue micro-blogging on my Facebook page. If you'd like to stay up-to-date as I spend time with family, stop by, click "Like", and join the fun. You never know what could happen!

Have a happy and blessed Holiday, everyone!

Your happily blogging friend,

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Kelli has Strep Throat"

It's official. Kelli got a call today from her doctor. She'd been monitoring some of the Kelli's medical results over the course of the past 24 hours, and while the initial tests came back negative, the long-term results proved otherwise. Kelli does indeed have Strep Throat.

Thankfully, she's been prescribed meds, and only has a half day of school tomorrow. She figures, if she went in and taught today, she might as well stick it out and teach tomorrow too. A half day will give her a little more time to recover before the school Christmas services on Friday, and then our 3-hour drive to Tomah in the evening.

Here's hoping all goes well. Christmas is no time to be sick.


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"My Philosphy on Work"

"Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day of your life."
-- Confucius

Wise words, from a wise man. And you know what, it's true. When you do something you love, it's never work... because you enjoy it. Your passion drives you, it motivates you, and as a result, you're far less likely to become bored with it.

For those that don't know me, I design, market, and sell my artwork on t-shirts, posters, prints and other gift items. I am often commissioned to create personalized artwork, be it pencil portraits, company logos, or even just promotional designs. I blog. I run a successful online Star Trek adventure series. I've created websites. I maintain a variety of pages on Facebook. I act on stages. I've been in movies. I tell stories. And those... are just the big projects.

A career is about discovering something you enjoy, and pursuing it with all your heart. It's about finding a way to make your job revolve around something you love (not the other way around). It's about being creative; finding happiness, and striving to build upon it.

Life may be tough for some of us out there right now. Employment opportunities might be scarce. And sometimes you have to sacrifice so that you can put food on the table. But no matter how hard the times may be, don't ever give up on what you love. Don't settle. Be creative. Dream. Keep pushing forward. Think outside the box, and I can guarantee, you WILL find a way to make your passion work for you.

Choose a job you love -- no matter what that may be -- and you will never have to work a day of your life. Confucius knew this. I have learned this. Now it's your turn. A new year is fast approaching. What passions are YOU going to put into practice?


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Kelli Home Sick; Preparing for the Weekend"

Kelli has been home sick yesterday and today. She went to the doctor for some tests, thinking it might be Strep, but the results came back negative (yay!). She's got a sore throat, and has been drinking hot tea constantly, but I'd say she's on the mend. She'll be returning to the classroom tomorrow.

She and I have plans to go down to Tomah, WI for the Holidays at the end of this week, and she's bound and determined to make the trip. Her family lives there, and this year we'll be spending the entirety of the Holidays with them. No traveling to visit my family over in Minnesota. But, that works out this year. My parents came up here the weekend of Thanksgiving. We had Christmas then, and even video-chatted with my two military sisters stationed in the Pacific. It was fun!

This year, only Ben (my Marine brother studying art in California) will be able to get home to Minnesota for Christmas. Maybe Rachel too -- at some point. So, it'll be a small family Christmas on the Baas side of the family. Kelli's family, on the other hand -- rather busy. Three celebrations this weekend: one at the family farm (Kelli's mother's side), one at Kelli's grandmother's house (Kelli's dad's side), and a third more intimate get-together with Kelli's brother, sister's family, and parents.

This will also be my first Christmas as part of Kelli's family. It's the first Holiday in which I truly am "Uncle Jon" to the nephews, and brother/son-in-law to the rest. So, yeah, I'm kinda looking forward to it too.

I probably won't be doing much blogging while I'm away, but, as always, my facebook page will remain active. Shorter posts are easier to do from someone else's computer. So, starting this weekend, be sure to visit my Facebook page. I'll resume blogging right here once I return.

Have a wonderful evening all, and until next time,

Your happily blogging friend,

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Brillion gets a McDonald's"

I went to lunch at McDonald’s this afternoon.

Normally, a statement like that would be a rather mundane one. But in this case, not so much. My city has never had a McDonald's -- not until yesterday. This is -- officially -- the first McDonald's restaurant in the history of Brillion. It's pretty big news around here.

Now I should probably explain a few things for those of you who don't live in Brillion. This is a city of only 3,000 people. Where I used to live -- in Milwaukee -- McDonald's restaurants are a dime a dozen. They're everywhere. When you live in a major metropolis like that, you take certain things for granted. But, here, in a small city, getting a McDonald's for the first time is like having a well-known celebrity move to town. It’s different. It's new. It's exciting. It makes your small city seem just a little bit bigger.

Yes, eventually, the excitement will fade, the newness will disappear, and before long, it'll seem commonplace to eat lunch at the local McDonald's. But for now, it's a big deal. For now, you just have to sit back and enjoy that cheeseburger. Because, before yesterday, you had to drive ?? miles to get it.

So, yeah, I had lunch at the new Brillion McDonald's. Unbeknownst to the throng of patrons filling up every booth on this Grand Opening Saturday, I wasn't there just to satisfy my mid-day hunger. I could review it here on my blog. I may be a relative newcomer to Brillion myself (ever since getting married, and moving here in July). But who better to review a new restaurant, than one of Brillion's newest (former big-city) residents.

I've actually been watching the construction of this McDonald's since ground was broken this past summer. Before then, the property used to be the old Sandman Motel -– one of those stereotypical small ranch-style motels. You know, the one-floor half-moon-shaped buildings that sprang up decades ago. It had stood empty for some time, just waiting to be torn down and redeveloped. Finally it's day came. It was razed, and now, in its place sits the newest McDonald's in the state of Wisconsin.

I was a little surprised when I entered through the front door this afternoon. I was expecting a tiny McDonald's. Something crammed into an itty-bitty space -– as you so often see of franchises in small towns. But this place was deceptively spacious for its size. And contemporary in style. There was a nice-sized dining area complete with earth tone décor; a large modern hip-looking brightly-colored mural on one entire wall; booths along the mural wall and front windows, with high stool tables in the center of the room; and an unexpectedly large food-prep area behind the ordering counter.

The restaurant was also well-staffed with friendly workers. Lots of workers. Granted, this was only the second day on the job for them, but I was still impressed. I'm sure most of the staff was present in order to get on-the-job training, but it was still nice to see their enthusiasm for their new place of employment. And even for things as mundane as mopping the floor so that the throng of Brillionite pations didn't slip and fall on the slick surface (due to the snow being tracked in from outside).

And speaking of throng, the place was packed. I was lucky just to get one of the small stool tables in the center of the dining area. About as many people as were sitting at the booths and tables, were outside eating out in their cars, just to have a place to sit! I'm sure the patronage will die down to "normal" levels in a few days. But still... that’s a lot of people eating lunch at McDonald's -- at 1:30pm on a Saturday!

I'm intrigued as well to see what business(s) go into the commercial space adjacent to the new McDonald's. It's a small modern retail structure, and there's room for two new shops next door. The space is still empty, and I haven't heard any news about additional tenants, but the possibilities are endless. We might even get a local shop or two to relocate. Afterall, with a 42-space parking lot and newfound traffic, this former motel property has become prime retail space.

Anything could happen. When it does, you'll probably hear about it here.

All-in-all, though, I enjoyed my first visit to our new local Micky-Ds. I like their cheeseburgers. Always have. Until this weekend, the only fast food options in Brillion were a Dairy Queen, and a Subway tucked into the back of one of the gas stations. I'm sure DQ will lose some business to the Golden Arches across the street, but they'll remain the destination of choice for ice cream and Blizzard treats. Subway will remain the unchallenged local sandwich shop. And, there's actually a new Chinese restaurant going in on main street as well. That might be worth checking out too when it opens.

For now, well, small-city Brillion has a brand new McDonald's. And I -– a fan of tasty one-dollar cheeseburgers -– am a very happy resident!

IMAGE: See a photo of Brillion's new McDonald's in my neighborhood photos!

To learn more about Brillion, check out the Brillion, Wisconsin Facebook page!


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Friday, December 17, 2010

"A Day Off From Blogging"

I will be taking the night off from blogging. Other things have priority. But I shall return again tomorrow. Have a wonderful start to your weekend, and until then...

Your happily blogging friend,

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Muppet Proposal"

Yeah. Ok. I'm a sap. Even muppets can make me emotional.

Sid Ceaser proposed to Sara Prindiville as a Muppet. He's been a Muppet fan all his life. So, when the time came, Sid ordered custom-designed Muppets that resembled the two of them, and produced a film using those muppets. It was shown along with the previews at a theater Sid took Sara to. She recognized who the Muppets were as soon as she saw them, and, well... said yes! This is that video.


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"Isle Of Tune"

Isle Of Tune is a music sequencer with a twist. It allows you to create musical compositions using three dimensional street layouts. Roadside elements like houses, gardens, tress, and other feature are the instruments, and the cars that pass are the players. Give it a try. I think you might enjoy it!

And when you reach the site, be sure to click the blue "Demo island" button, followed by the "Top 50" square above the main screen. Select the island called "Beat It". Someone used the site's features to recreate the Michael Jackson classic by that same name. It's actually pretty good!

REFERENCE: Michael Jackson's "Beat It" Music Video ... [video]


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Time's 2010 Person of the Year"

This year, the prestigious honor goes to Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, Facebook's 26-year-old CEO (and 35th richest person in the United States). He was given this title for connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives.

Congratulations Mark! You deserve it. "Time's 2010 Person of the Year.".


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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"The State of the Blogosphere 2010"

With the rise of Twitter, Facebook and other popular forms of micromedia, many believed blogging was on the way out. But, blogging perseveres -- as it should. It's is a place where content, thoughtfulness and continuity are king. It's the recipient of inbound links, bookmarks, comments, stories and much more. It is -- without a doubt -- the intellectual soul of the internet.

Since 2004, Technorati has published its annual State of the Blogosphere report. Since the site indexes over one million blogs, it's clearly the authority. They've broken down the stats on the success, growth, and change of the internet blogging world. It's a fascinating read, and well worth your time.

Have a read: Technorati's "The State Of The Blogosphere 2010".


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Monday, December 13, 2010

"Steampunk Star Trek"

Here's something fun... and uber-geeky. It's a set of viral images that show off the original Star Trek crew, re-imagined in the Victorian era. Fantastic stuff! Gotta love Photoshop!


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"Buried in White. Covered in Snow."

It came. It fell. We were buried.

Yes indeed. The snow storm that was predicted for the weekend has arrived. And it came in with a bang. Here in Brillion we registered ten more inches, and all of it fell in blizzard-like conditions. The wind was whipping it into snow drifts, and temperatures plunged to winter lows. Not a night to be outdoors.

On Saturday, Kelli and I were invited over to a friend's house for game night. When we arrived around 6pm, the snow was falling, but one could hardly say it was a blizzard. Five hours later, when we left... the storm was in full swing, and everything was buried under a thick blanket of white.

We cleared off the car, managed to make it out of the driveway, and carefully maneuvered our way home through the blowing snow and unplowed city streets. Unfortunately, as soon as we got into the parking of our apartment complex... we got stuck. Spinning tires and all. It took half an hour, and the help of two neighbors to shovel us out and get the car safely into our garage. Needless-to-say, we didn't make it to church on Sunday. By morning, we were snowed in.

Later in the day on Sunday, I shoveled out our driveway, cleared our front stoop, and even dug out our neighbor's garage/driveway. I think I strained something, but only temporary. It's Monday now, and my back seems fine again. But it'll definitely be a winter storm to remember.

And, if not for the snow... then certainly for the missing wedding ring. Yes, in my short-sightedness, I neglected to bring gloves to our game night, and as a result, froze my hands. Temporarily, of course. My hands are fine now. But, at some point while I was clearing snow, my ring slipped off my finger... and vanished in the snow. I'm pretty sure it happened in our friend's driveway, but with all the white on the ground right now, I can't be certain. I didn't notice it was gone until my hands thawed -- after we were home, and the car was safely back in the garage.

If I do find my ring, it won't be until Spring -- when all the snow melts.

But, hey, rings can be replaced, lives cannot. I'm glad we're safe. I'm glad we came home when we did. And I'm grateful for Kelli's understanding with the whole ring issue. At worst, this'll end up being a story we tell our kids. Our first major snow storm as husband and wife. We get stuck, snowed in, and Jon loses his wedding ring. Yep. Fun times. Fun times.

So... yeah, that was my weekend. How was yours? :)


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Thursday, December 09, 2010

"Winter Has Begun"

It snowed today, and Brillion, Wisconsin is currently sitting under 1-2 inches of soft white snow. As I sit here typing this, I can hear the plows clearing the parking lots, and shovels clearing the front walkways. Old Man Winter has arrived.

Over the weekend, the meteorologists are predicting 6-10 more inches of the white stuff. Apparently, a major storm front is crossing the state of Wisconsin, and we've been told to expect the full brunt of it by Saturday. Kelli is dreaming of a snow day tomorrow (so her and her kids don't have to go to school in the snow), but the odds are strong it'll be Saturday that we stay home.

For now, I'm enjoying the warm indoors. And unlike when I lived in Milwaukee, here at my apartment in Brillion, somebody else gets to do the shoveling.


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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"Kitten and Teddy"

Sometimes we just need a hug. And sometimes we just need a reason sit back and go, "awwww". This cute little kitty cat hug made me smile this morning, so I thought I'd share. ... [video]

Happy Tuesday!


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"Dr. Seuss Does Star Wars"

Cartoonist Adam Watson let his inner child and his inner geek work together on a project. The result was a series of drawings featuring Star Wars characters as imagined by Dr. Seuss! Yes, that would be Yoda, Jabba, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, etc as if drawn in the world of Seuss. It actually works too. Come take a peek!


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Monday, December 06, 2010

"How Crayons Are Made"

As most of you know, I love color. It's part of my whole artist thing. So, when I came across this today, I had to share. It's a Canadian documentary about how ordinary objects in their daily lives are manufactured. This particular segment explains how crayons are made. The factory in the video can produce 30,000 of them every hour.


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"Cityscapes from Old Computers, by Franco Recchia"

Italian sculptor Franco Recchia builds models of cities from the components of old computers. And he does a fantastic job of it too. Take a peek and view his sculptures of New York City, Boston, and Pittsburgh.


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"Ducks in the Wind"

Even ducks have to contend with the wind. ... [video]


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Thursday, December 02, 2010

"Wiley Vs. Rhodes"

Apache Pictures made a short film that re-imagines cartoon characters Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner as live-action human beings. It's called Wiley vs. Rhodes, and it's a fun watch, with impressive special effects. So... sit back and enjoy. I think you'll like this one!


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Jon Baas

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