Author Archives: nednerbc

2015 Recap & Previewing 2016

I figured with the new year’s holiday it would be a good time to recap 2015 and look ahead to 2016.

2015 Recap

On October 2nd, 2015 (IndeBrendence Day) I paid off my student loans. I graduated in May 2012 with about $26,000 in debt. I am pretty please with the speed in which I paid it off. A lot of this was me putting most of my work bonus towards it. When I first started paying it off I was paying over $3 a day in interest or close to $100 a month. Once I saw that I knew that they had to go.

I signed up for a motorcycle course and got my license in the fall. I also purchased a small dual sport bike (Yamaha XT225 in case you were wondering). This was definitely a splurge. I only rode it a few times (including on Christmas Eve) but hope to put some miles on next summer. My dad and brother ride as do many of my extended family.

I bought a plane ticket to Rwanda to visit my brother who is a Peace Corp volunteer there. I haven’t seen him since fall 2014. I am leaving in about two weeks with my Dad and two family friends. The plan is to spend two weeks exploring the country. I am really excited!

I took a relaxing trip with my girlfriend to the Apostle Island area of Wisconsin. This was the second year in a row of vacationing around Lake Superior. The big water must have a hold on me. We stayed on Madeline Island and in Bayfield. We took a kayaking trip that was a lot of fun. We also went to Big Top Chautauqua for a concert. I highly recommend that if you are in the area.

Boat on Lake Superior from Madeline Island

Boat on Lake Superior from Madeline Island

I also took a road trip to Omaha Nebraska for a family wedding. My dad, two of my Aunts and Continue reading

I Won a Haiku Contest writing about Thong Cape Scooter Man

A few months back I entered a haiku contest with the weekly local magazine called the Isthmus. I won first place out of about 240 entries. There were six categories and I entered one for the Local Celebrities category. I wrote about Thong Cape Scooter Man. Although I have never seen him myself I have heard of him. He is a character that rides around a scooter in a thong and a cape. His name pretty much says it all.

Below is the image from the print publication:

Isthmus Haiku Contest Winner

My winning haiku about local celebrity Thong Cape Scooter Man from the Isthmus

My poem has a couple of things going for it that I think helped win. The subject is something that is unique to Madison, the words are similar to a quote from Batman, and it is kind of self deprecating. You should take a look at the rest of the poems from the article Isthmus Haiku Contest 2015 – there are some really great ones. I also noticed all of the advertising for the rules and event the title itself was haiku – it is a nice touch.

First prize was 2 tickets to the Isthmus Beer and Cheese Fest in January so I am looking forward to attending that. I guess now I can say I am a published poet. I was thinking about framing the print article although it would look pretty silly on my wall. Also I would like it on the record that I did not draw or pick the illustration.

Winning this has been pretty cool and helps to feed the creative fire and lets me feel like a contributor rather than just a consumer of other peoples work. It feels good. Have you ever won a contest or had some of your writing published?

Fun things in October 2015

We are three weeks into the month and I have been keeping pretty busy.

On October 2nd I paid off my student loans. I am coining it Indebrendence Day. I even wrote a haiku for the occasion:

My student loans are
paid; Today shall be known as
Indebrendence day

That night I met my dad, his cousins and some of their friends downtown Madison because they were in town for a football game. I made it to a few new (to me) bars (Genna’s, HopCat) and a few old ones (Brocach, Paul’s Club, Irish Pub). It was a great evening out. A little side story – I went downtown unprepared for the cold. I was shivering as I was walking up State Street to the square. It was almost 9 at night but Ragstock was open so I ducked in and bought a baja (aka drug rug). I have always wanted one, I am not sure why, and this was the perfect reason.

The first Saturday of the month saw me visiting my Aunt & Grandma and going to ScanFest which included good food and an Abba tribute band! In the row in front of us was a kid that was really into the music and it was fun to see someone connecting with something so much. (I also have been there several times before – see this post)

This month I also gave blood at the Red Cross. While I was there I saw public radio personality Norman Gilliland also donating. It was a neat brush with a local celebrity. After that I met my brother for lunch at the always delicious Oakcrest Tavern and then we went to the Mustard Museum in Middleton.

One weekend my girlfriend visited and we had a night out. We ate dinner at Qdoba on the way downtown. The traffic was terrible and I am not a traffic person at all. But the prize was the Madison Symphony Orchestra. I have never been there and it was pretty neat. There were three pieces played. I liked the last one the best because of the percussion. The second pieceĀ  featured a soloist on violin. The instrument was Stradivarius and it was older than the piece he was playing. Apparently they name these and his was the Marsick Stradivarius.

We finished the night with poutine from Mad City Frites. I had heard of the place several times in the media and I wanted to try it and I finally did. The poutine was pretty good although I don’t think I have ever had poutine before so I have nothing to compare it too. It hit the spot on a cold, windy October evening. I will have to get back there as a lot of the other options on the menu looked pretty good.

Now I am enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. I am still wearing shorts on my bike ride into work. And the Packers are undefeated. Life is good right now. I hope your October is going well.

 

A Satisfying Summer Saturday

Yesterday had most of the ingredients for a top notch Saturday including family, friends and gorgeous weather.

It was an early start to the day with the alarm going off at a little after 7. I headed to Horicon to my dad’s. We loaded up my kayak in the back of his truck and he dropped me off at Greenhead boat landing for the Horicon Marsh paddle put on by the Friends of Horicon Marsh. It was sunny with a nice breeze. There were over a hundred boats doing the 6.5 mile trek with stops along the way to learn about birds from DNR employees. I took my time and finished in 2.5 hours. I saw a bald eagle pointed out to me. There is one nesting and has 3 little ones.

After I got back my brother, father and I headed to a family friends 50th anniversary party in West Bend. It was neat to see all of the lives this couple have touched over the years including our family’s. And the food was good as well – I especially enjoyed the Swiss steak.

After driving back to Horicon I headed back to Middleton for Shake the Lake fireworks on Lake Monona. I took the bus downtown (with my bike on the front of the bus), grabbed a quick bite to eat at Paul’s Pelmeni and met with some friends to watch the fireworks. It was almost a 40 minute show. I think it was aptly named as at some points the ground was indeed shaking. There were hundreds of red and green lights on the lake from the boats watching the show.

Afterwards I biked home in the beautiful evening weather. I hadn’t bike from downtown since last fall. It is about 7 miles or so and is really peaceful late at night (as long as you have a headlight to see where you are going).

Overall it was the kind of Saturday that you look forward to beforehand and treasure afterwards. Summer days with weather like that make the winter more bearable and the family and friends just enhance the enjoyment.

Trivia 46 Liveblog

This is my live blog for Trivia 46 by 90FM WWSP. You can find out more about streaming the contest here. See the bottom of the post for more info.

If you are commenting pleaseĀ  DO NOT POST QUESTIONS OR ANSWERS as this is against the rules and it kind of ruins the fun.


 

Monday April 20 00:59

Well the numbers are in and I think I had 5,075 points for 240th place. This has been a lot of fun. I put in 40+ hours over the weekend and jumped all over the internet looking for random facts and useless information. I am happy with my decision to do this and am thankful for all the help I had this year from Sadie, Mom, Nick, Nikki and Dad. It was a fun way to spend my birthday. See you next year!

Monday April 20 00:09

Well it’s all over now. They are tabulating the results. I am hoping for a finish at 239 or better.

Sunday April 19 23:50

One more question and it is all over for the year!

Sunday April 19 23:04

One hour to go! I don’t seem to be getting too many questions but still having fun. I don’t feel overly tired but I am sure I will sleep soundly tonight.

Sunday April 19 20:52

Just had a singing question – even though the operator had to listen to me sing she still laughed when I was done. Do you think it was with me or at me?

Sunday April 19 19:52

IBM’s Watson was pretty good on Jeopardy but I wonder how it would do at Trivia?

Sunday April 19 19:03

Five hours until the finish line. I have been at it since I woke up at 9 am this morning. Here we go!

Sunday April 19 18:08

Less than 6 hours to go! Still getting some questions but I have been stumped a few times.

Sunday April 19 15:40

The only people I am talking to more than myself are the trivia phone operators.

Sunday April 19 15:23

Trivia 46, or how I learned to stop worry and love the dial tone.

Sunday April 19 14:29

The last question was a shouting question – I hope I didn’t hurt the operators ear!

Sunday April 19 13:33

So much sitting! I will have to take a long walk tomorrow to burn some of these junk food calories off.

Sunday April 19 12:29

A question is using the “in-between song” as part of the question so we all gotta listen to it twice. Oh Yeah by Yello.

Sunday April 19 12:15

Hour 43. This is a lot of sitting – I need a standing desk!

Sunday April 19 11:38

I finally got a picture question thanks to some lucky Googling!

Sunday April 19 09:05

Nine o’clock – what does that mean? Time for more trivia! Dad had to work today so it is just myself again. I have had some great help throughout the contest.

Sunday April 19 02:34

2:30 and time to call it quits for the night. I will be back in the morning for more trivia!

Sunday April 19 00:23

Into hour 31 and going strong. We’ve got a good streak going right. Slogans are easy!

Saturday April 18 22:02

Back to it after a great dinner with Nick, Nikki and friends. My dad is here to help now. Time to make up some lost ground.

Saturday April 18 19:36

After another solid few hours it is time to go to dinner. I will be back at it afterwards though.

Saturday April 18 19:06

My friends Nick and Nikki stopped by to help out – I think it has been a total of 5 different people on the team so far.

Saturday April 18 16:10

It’s always nice to start off an hour with a correct answer. Moving into hour 23 of the contest and I am in 246th place.

Saturday April 18 15:28

Desert vs Dessert sanfu on the radio! I got it but I hope they don’t throw it out.

Saturday April 18 14:25

Sadie has gone now too so I am flying solo and not doing so hot. Either the questions are getting harder or I am killing too many brain cells.

Saturday April 18 13:51

My mom visited and brought cookies and brownies – thanks Mom!

Saturday April 18 11:31

After some sleep, a shower and some breakfast I am ready to go again!

Saturday April 18 06:30

Well after 12.5 hours of Trivia and being up for 24 hours I am going to throw in the towel for now. I haven’t been as sharp as the night has gone along (or else the questions were harder) but I will be back later. Ciao for now.

Saturday April 18 05:55

Well I made it through 12 hours of Trivia so far.

Saturday April 18 04:37

I can hear the birds chirping – morning is on it’s way. I am going to be throwing my body clock waaaaay off this weekend.

Saturday April 18 04:18

It looks like the team in first place finally missed a question in the ninth hour of the contest. Still an incredible run.

Saturday April 18 04:13

Hour 11 and still going strong. Up to 176th place but not sure how long I will be able to hold that spot. I will have to sleep soon – I woke up at 06:30 Friday morning so we will be hitting 24 hours up pretty quick here.

Saturday April 18 03:54

I decided that brushing my teeth was a good idea. Usually I do it before I go to bed and when I wake up but when you don’t go to sleep . . .

Saturday April 18 02:56

Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America is playing – Good song! Hour nine is done and on to hour 10! See my updated team score here: https://www.triviastats.com/#/teams/BRENDEN%27S%20QUARTER%20LIFE%20CRISIS

Saturday April 18 02:41

Well I have heard of it but now I have seen it first hand. People are editing the Wikipedia page where you can find an answer to a question. Crazy what some people do to get ahead.

Saturday April 18 01:58

Hour 8 is coming to a close and I went 7/8. I think some teams must be sleeping because it is much easier to get through on the phones. I have passed a tired phase and have a second wind. Let’s see how long I can go!

Saturday April 18 01:27

In case you wanted to see the scores and the very entertaining team names you can find them here: http://www.90fmtrivia.org/TriviaScores2015/trivia_scores_2015.html

Also this is a neat site dedicated to Triva that has a really nice interface and show how each team does hour by hour: https://www.triviastats.com/#/

Saturday April 18 01:06

190th place falling but the pace has slowed. Sadie baked brownies – we shall see how long those last.

Saturday April 18 01:01

Boy howdy my teammate is calling it a night so Hour 8 is all me. Last hour was all related to Robin Williams. Only took me 3 questions to figure that one out.

Saturday April 18 00:04

After hour 5 we are in 184th place.

Friday April 17 23:55

Six hours successfully completed – 48 more to go. I must admit a little tiredness is creeping in. Maybe another Sun Drop would help.

Friday April 17 23:32

148th place after hour 4 but we got some points coming our way. If I am counting right there is a team that has gotten all questions correct through hour 4 – unbelievable!

Friday April 17 22:31

After hour 3 we are in 113th place – the descent begins!

Friday April 17 22:02

According to Twitter there are There are 348 teams and 8153 people playing in this years contest.

Friday April 17 21:57

70th place! We are moving on up!

Friday April 17 20:57

Tied for 82nd place after the first hour – I wouldn’t doubt if this is the high water mark for Brenden’s Quarter Life Crisis

Friday April 17 20:53

I am trying to eat some delicious tacos between questions. Thanks Sadie for cooking!

Friday April 17 20:40

Good to be on board for Hour 3!

Friday April 17 19:58

Two hours down – I am having tons o’ fun so far. I am taking a Sun Drop as a precaution against falling asleep tonight.

Friday April 17 19:13

I think that not watching a whole lot of TV over the past few years is really going to hurt me in this contest.

Friday April 17 18:54

One hour down – 53 to go! We had a good start but couldn’t get through on the last question but we didn’t have the correct answer anyway so it didn’t much matter.

Friday April 17 18:42

Sadie and I are rocking it so far. If I were to sleep I would have nightmares of a busy tone.

Friday April 17 18:13

And we’re off. I got through on only the fifth try. This bodes well!

Friday April 17 18:04

Born to be Wild! Kickoff time.

Friday April 17 18:00

Going through the sponsors. What a list of people supporting the station. I just cracked open a Point Root Beer to celebrate.

Friday April 17 17:52

A quick last minute to the store with my girlfriend and we are back in time for Free Bird. Allllllmost there!

Friday April 17 17:02

Home from work and ready to get started. The tunes are rocking on the home stereo and I have my Team ID on the wall for quick reference when I call in my answers. Only 1 hour to go!

Thursday April 16 20:56

The Excel spreadsheet is done. I can’t do something this important without a spreadsheet!

Thursday April 16 20:29

It is the night before Trivia and I did some running around after work trying to get things together. I stocked up on junk food (chips and soda) and some healthy food to try and get me through the weekend. I bought a 12 pack of Nectar of the Gods aka Sun Drop. I think the caffeine will come in handy.


About trivia:

Trivia is a 54 hour trivia contest over the student radio station at UW Stevens Point. I will be playing from my apartment in Middleton WI. I don’t have a team in the traditional sense but I will try and play as much as I can as the weekend goes along.

Eventually the team scores will be posted and I hope to have a link to that – my team name is “Brenden’s Quarter Life Crisis” as it is my 25th birthday on Saturday the 18th. (I plan on living to see 100)

Haiku III – Work, Cabin Fever & More Weather

It is time for the third edition of haiku. I really enjoy writing these. Click for parts one and two.

March is here and it is evident that the weather is doing as it pleases. We have hit 70 degrees F followed by a couple inches of snow here in Madison. It is hard to plan what weather to dress for when I decide to bike to work. I have ridden in with a scarf and gloves but gone home in a t-shirt already.

—————————————————————-

In like a lion
out like a lamb. March weather
is one of a kind.

—————————————————————-

At work we have to wear security badges/name tags. This seems to be a common practice in offices. These allow us to get into the doors. While I am at work it doesn’t seem so bad but if I forget to take it off I feel like a fool for walking around with it on. Continue reading

Haiku II: Weather, Beards and Teflon

I had so much fun doing my Insurance Haiku post that I decided to do a second installment. Writing a haiku is a lot of fun and I sometimes find myself counting syllables on my fingers at random times trying to make things fit.

My first haiku in this installment is inspired by the cold February we have been having here in Wisconsin. In the summer we say “It’s not so much the heat but the gosh darn humidity”. Right now for me it’s not so much the cold but the gosh darn wind.

—————————————————————-

The icy wind cuts
to my heart. I am living
in a chest freezer.

—————————————————————-

I have always tried to grow a beard. I do not seem to have the genetics for it. I haven’t shaved my face clean since at least November (although I have trimmed) but I can’t seem to fill in the holes and make my face look respectable. Continue reading

Insurance Haiku

I like the simplicity of the haiku – 5,7,5. I have two workplace related haiku. The first was inspired by insurance non-renewal notices. I have to type these out sometimes and to comply with legal requirements and for clarity they are pretty boring. I thought it would be neat to have a haiku version of a non-renewal. My Insurance haiku idea is:

—————————————————————-

Your policy is
non-renewed. What losses! Find
a new policy.

—————————————————————-

Much better then boring legalese. The second was inspired by a work meeting today. Our company had a slow January and management must be starting to worry. I think it can apply to most any company anywhere.

—————————————————————-

Work meeting today:
you must work harder, faster.
Growth, unabated

—————————————————————-

Do you have any office or work inspired haiku? It is kind of fun. Let me know what you come up with.

Spelling Bee Fundraiser Champ!

On Saturday January 24 I participated in the 2nd annual Spell Yeah! fundraiser for the Horicon Phoenix group that puts on Concerts in the Park, set up a disc golf course and does other initiatives in my hometown. I don’t mean to brag but my aunt, my cousin, my cousin’s friend and I were returning champs. So this year everyone was gunning for us – would we be able to stand up to the pressure? We may have had some confidence as our team name this year was “Do it again”

This year it was all team competition. The word would be said and we could confer but then a rotating “speller” would have to stand up and actually spell without help. If a team got it wrong another team could buy a do-over (this was a fundraiser after all). The competition was fierce and we purchased a few to keep our score up. Our team was really good again this year and out of all of the words I think we would have had 75%-80% of them correct. We went into the final “lightning” round with a score of 15 and a one point lead. The lightning round was new so we weren’t sure what to expect. One speller would get a chance to spell a word for 5 points. There would be no do-overs and no team help for this one.

Because the words were 5 points the words were very difficult. Team after team was getting the words wrong. However when it got to third place with 11 points the guy spelled flaccidity correctly and that put them a 16 points. This team was a dark horse and we were all surprised as we weren’t concerned because we didn’t know about the 5 point lightning round. The pressure was on. Second place spelled there word wrong. Then it was my turn.

The Queen Bee (not the actual name but the official were wearing antennas) gave me my word. She said something that sounded like “in-soo-shent”. I had no idea what the word meant and it was hard to picture it in my head. The game was on the line and I could feel the pressure and the eyes on me. I closed my eyes as I did every time I had to spell and said the letters out loud. “I-n-s-o-u-c-i-a-n-t”. The judges look surprised and to be honest I was too when they said it was correct. It was pretty exciting. Kind of like a three pointer as the clock expires or a Hail Mary in overtime. Except that this was not an athletic contest at all.

Overall I had a good time. I did feel good going in but you never know how these things go and what the competition will be like. Overall there were 8 or 9 teams and I think everyone had a good time. There were dirty rounds with suggestive words which kept the evening fun. This was a little awkward because both my parents were in the crowd. Some of the words I remember besides the winning one were sadomasochism, bratwurst, bankruptcy, promiscuous, pudenda, tumescence, intravenous, separate, frottage, and ukulele. (I guess the dirty words were a bit more memorable). It was a lot of fun and the money went to a good cause. Plus now I have two spelling bee trophies at home which would balance out my mantle place if I had one.

You can read more about the Horicon Phoenix at there website.

After a long hunt I finally found something on my list that I had been looking for:

My new Made In the USA can opener

My new Made In USA can opener

A made in USA can opener. It is an EZ-DUZ-IT can opener made by John J Steuby Co from St ouis. As you can see from the packaging they really play this up. I was delighted by the price – it was $11.95 – only one dollar more than the made in China one next to it. I did a “heft test” in the store between the two in the store.Plus I was able to purchase it a small local business on State Street in Madison. (Tellus Mater)

The can opener has a website but they must spend lots of time making can openers but not a lot on web design.

This thing feels serious in my hand and I am looking forward to using it to open chili, soup and other canned movies. I don’t plan on buying another can opener for years.