Category Archives: teaching

What I love about baseball

I am not exactly sure how my baseball bucket list adventures began, but I can backtrack the trail to Homer Bailey’s second no hitter on July 2, 2013.

I am sure you are wondering,

“How in the world can he be certain?”

Well, it started with Maribel, my late mother-in-law. She was up at the lake, and she wanted to listen the Cincinnati Reds game. Unfortunately, neither the Reds radio network nor the Reds television broadcast served norther lower Michigan. That area was Detroit Tigers territory. She was a Reds fan and she watched or listened to the Reds ballgames at home in southwestern Ohio.

 I signed up for MLB TV and we watched and listened to the ballgame using my computer in her bedroom. That night I signed up three times for MLB TV and I didn’t catch my mistake until my credit card billing statement arrived the following month. Thankfully, MLB TV was understanding and cancelled the two additional accounts. I’ve been renewing the package ever since.

About that time, my favorite team, the Houston Astros began to play better and since, I’ve been paying more attention since. Thank you, Maribel.

Since last summer, I’ve travelled to twelve cities and thirteen new ball parks in addition to the two ballparks in Chicago. I’ve met many people in my travels. I’ve attended all but one of those games by myself and each time I sit down to watch the game, I meet new people.

What I love about baseball is that I realize that it is truly America’s game. By attendance it is the most popular sport, but the baseball season is 162 games long and each team plays half of their games at home and the other half on the road. In 2022, over 64 million people watched a major league baseball game in person, attendance is down almost 10% compared to 2018.

the crowd in St. Louis with the Gateway Arch in the background

This past year MLB made rule changes to the game to speed up play and make the game more exciting. At first, I was apprehensive, but with four months (and seven games in a ballpark) into the season I agree. The game is more exciting and on average a ballgame is almost thirty minutes shorter this year compared to previous seasons. This season’s average is 2 hours and 39 minutes compared with the 2022 season average game length of 3 hours and 6 minutes. Continue reading What I love about baseball

W^2 – bite

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 19, 2023

It is Wednesday, again. I am in Denver, Colorado for another baseball game. Last night’s game didn’t turn out well for my team, but they play 162 games in a season for a reason.

I arrived yesterday morning and had a full day planned, capped with walking to and from the ballpark.

goofing around at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, Colorado July 18, 2023 10:51 MDT

My plan was to visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, lunch with a blogger, then the game. Sometimes things don’t go your way or lot of other people have the same idea. It turned out that I was not the only person who wanted to get a jump start on their day and when I arrived at the car rental facility I was well back in the line. The line moved smoothly and did get my car, but I was more than an hour behind schedule. Continue reading W^2 – bite

W^2 – colorful

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, July 12, 2023

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have a closeup of one of our hummingbird feeders and a bonus, a reverse view with a hummingbird.

a hummingbird feeder from inside the house, Wheaton, IL Wednesday July 12, 2023 7:56 AM

Today is the thirty-seventh day of summer break, almost to the halfway mark. Earlier this morning storms rolled through with lightning, thunder, and heavy rain. We need the rain after a very dry spring. The flowers came despite the lack of April showers.

The birds came, too.

Several years ago, I added a few bird feeders to our backyard. It was the summer of ’18 and I was recovering, or rehabilitating, from my first knee replacement surgery. I had been reading the a book Where the Poppies Grow by British author John Lewis-Stempel. I learned about the book while reading a blog post at From Pyrenees to Pennines in one of Margaret’s many blogposts about reading.

Both changed my life. The book and thus the bird feeders and the knee surgeries, in December ’18 I had the other knee replaced. I’ve never looked back. Continue reading W^2 – colorful

reprise, black and white

In response to yesterday’s post W^2 – black and white, a reprise of sorts.

In hindsight, yesterday was a million and six times better than the day before.

Our nephew arrived with his wife and young children just as the storms began to roll across the lake. A few minutes later his brother, another nephew arrived. It was wonderful to see them. Since my wife’s parents died, our paths only cross for weddings, funerals, and graduations.

The kids were reluctant to get out of the car, but slowly warmed and by the end of their visit they were playing in the water, exploring the lake, toys, and all that our lake home has to offer.

It was delightful to visit, to catch up, and share our home with them.

Then storms rolled across the lake, one after another, and we stayed off the lake and out of the boats. More than once, we waded out to the boats, turning back when we saw lightning until we decided that we would get wet regardless of whether it was raining or not.

looking west northwest, as rain falls gently

While they boated, Fern and I stayed ashore. I waded into the lake and took the photos for this post. By the end of their visit every single beach towel was soaked, and the kids (and adults) were spent.

clouds over the lake, looking west north west in portrait mode

Yesterday WAS a million and six times better than the day before with family – our nephews and their kids bringing color to the lakeshore on a stormy day.

This morning began with steady rain, but the sun is breaking through and sunshine is on the way. Today is going to be an amazing day, it could be a million and six times better than yesterday. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, black and white or in color.

Is it black, white, or colorful where you are?

Wordle, is it a game or a challenge?

It’s Monday, Day 21 and I wasted yesterday. Really wasted it. I spent the entire afternoon on things unimportant and certainly not urgent.

One day summer won’t be summer break, it will be life in retirement. I’ve often told folks who marvel my summer break (envy) that I think of summer break as an audition for retirement. If so, I am not going to get a call back.

In my last post I referenced the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I was replying to a comment and I found a great resource from the folks at FranklinCovey, it’s an overview of the 7 Habits – click if you like. I’ve been using their products for over twenty years to plan my day and organize my daily and weekly tasks. Every year I get a little better at it learning from my failures and successes.

my stats as of Monday, June 26, 2023

One of the parts of my daily routine playing the New York Times Wordle. I don’t remember how I started, but I did. It could’ve been my daughter, or the buzz on social media as folks posted their solution to the day’s Wordle. If you haven’t played it, it is a simple game. You have six guesses to guess the day’s word. The word is five letters long and with each guess you get feedback.

  • Green squares mean that the letter you guessed is in the correct position in the day’s word.
  • Yellow squares mean the letter you guessed is in the word day’s but not in that space.
  • Gray squares mean that the letter you guessed is not in that day’s word.

According to an article in The Ledger, there over 158,000 five-letter words in the English language, but the Official Scrabble Dictionary puts the number at about 9,000 words. Somewhere I read the Wordle game has a dictionary at just over 2,300 words and doesn’t use plurals as solutions.

I find Wordle challenging, and I find it frustrating, too. Most mornings, playing the day’s Wordle is the last thing I do before getting started on the day – showering and heading off to school. But in the summer, I have more time and less urgency (and thus more time to write and dream).

Some days, the puzzle takes five to ten minutes or as quickly as two minutes like it was this morning. And there are days when I can’t see a solution and come back later.

Last summer, I began to track my daily results and approach playing the game as a scientist. At the point, it took an average of 4.46 attempts to solve the puzzle. Since then, my average slowly declined and is currently 4.05 attempts to solve the puzzle, though the month of June has been awful with a miss and several five and six attempt days and a monthly average of 4.23. Continue reading Wordle, is it a game or a challenge?

W^2 – summer

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, June 21, 2023

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have two, errr three, images of summer captured in the spring. I chode baseball, but I could choose just about anything as an image of summer.

It is summer, officially at 10:57 AM CDT, but it’s felt like summer since school let the kiddos free June 2ndand me free the following Monday, the fifth.

a summer game played in the three seasons – April 6 at Target Field Minneapolis, Minnesota. Game time time temp low fifties. Beautiful day and great game Astros 2, Twins 3 in 10 innings

Today is Day 16 and it is a very different day than my first Day 16 post on MtDC:  Day 15 and 16: Takeoff and Landing – Day 1 in Paris. I look at those photos and remember each moment.

Last summer I got serious about my bucket list goal of visiting every major league baseball stadium with a seven day, seven game, six city, and ten baseball team trip beginning in New York City winding west finishing in Cleveland before driving home to Chicagoland. In all last year, I attended ten ballgames and watched one half of the teams in the MLB. I finished the 2022 season having seen 20 of the 30 present day ballparks.

T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Washington. Looking to left field. May 6th, Astros 5 Mariners 7.

This season, Continue reading W^2 – summer

W^2 – Old Glory

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 31, 2023

For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have ‘Old Glory’ and the moon on a late spring night.

It’s been, too long since I’ve published a post, but there have been many I’ve done in my mind. Things just get in the way of writing and posting.

Speaking of which, there are two school days remaining in this school year and I harken back to a school year gone awry and the birth of Making the Days Count dot org, at first a dot com. That was thirteen years ago; this post is the first of year fourteen.

I spent the evening marking papers, then realized I needed to run a quick errand and walked outside to discover the moon and the flag.

A lot has taken place since that first post thirteen years ago, but theirs is more to tell in the years ahead, just like the flag and moon. There’s more left and beginning Monday at noon, there are 76 days to practice for the time when I won’t be teaching.

Today was a great day, I think I got 140 sixth graders to think about energy transfer when they really wanted to think about summer break and sleeping in. Tomorrow we are on a walking field trip to a local park and Friday will be here and gone before I know it and I’ll be outside waving to school buses as the leave the parking lot one last time.

I’ve got a little formatting to do and then I’ll press publish and this will go live. The day is done, and I am headed to bed to catch some rest before it starts all over anew. Making the days Count, one day at a time, it’s all in a cycle.

What are your plans this summer?

W^2 – kitchen window

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, February 8, 2023

momma cardinal at the feeder, Wheaton, Illinois January 22, 2023 1:10 PM

It is Wednesday and I have written or posted in a very long while.

Birds have been visiting the feeder this winter and I looked out the kitchen window a couple of weeks ago to see a pair of cardinals feeding – a couple a male and a female. The male with his bright red plumage caught my eye and I took photos of both. I am saving the rest for a future post.

Today is going to be a great day, an amazing day, in fact. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, enjoying the longer days and the sunshine we’ve had of late.

What do you see when you look out your kitchen window?

W^2 – last time?

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, January 4, 2023

I’ve been in northern Mississippi since Monday afternoon. I flew Southwest Airlines, yes that Southwest Airlines. The airline that melted down and cancelled hundreds of flights for an entire week beginning the day after Christmas. It’s been my go-to airline since I began travelling to Mississippi to visit my stepmother or care for the house these past three years.

the moon rising at 5:08, can’t see Mars and my stepmom’s home in Oxford

Yesterday, I engaged a realtor to sell the property. The day began with thunderstorms racing through the area and a tornado warning. By noon, the skies were clear. I took care of a few errands and decided to walk around her neighborhood one last time. Oxford is a beautiful town, and I understand how she and my dad came to love it.

fifteen minutes later and Mars is visible

As I finished my walk, the sun had set, and the moon was rising. I’d gotten a message from an app that the moon and mars would be in conjunction and the best viewing time would 5:06 PM. It was still light out and the moon was visible, but Mars wasn’t. I pulled a lawn chair out onto the drive and sat and watched. Within twenty minutes Mars became visible as a small dot above the moon.

I savored the moment; it was a beautiful January evening, and it was pleasant enough to sit outside without a jacket.

twenty-seven minutes after sunset

I’ve enjoyed my visits over the years, but I am hoping this is my last trip to Oxford.

I had entertained the idea of driving to Vicksburg and staying at the Baer House and visiting the Vicksburg battlefield one more time but decided to get home and finish up a few things before school restarts Monday.

It’s a beautiful sunny day at the Memphis airport, but it will be good to get home later this evening.

Today is already an amazing day. I got to the airport ahead of time, I am checked in, and waiting on an airplane. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, looking forward to getting home.

How is the weather where you are?

annus mirabilis

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, I reserve life changing promises for the new year which begins at the end of school, when teachers and students have an entire summer to reflect and reset for a new year. Sometimes these promises work and sometimes, they don’t.

The beginning of 2023 is no different. I’ve been reading posts on the blogosphere and social media disparaging the recently completed year, 2022. I suppose for some 2022 wasn’t the year for them. I read support for the recently completed year, as well.

On the whole, 2022 was, at least for me, an improvement on the previous year. It wasn’t perfect, but most years aren’t.

Early this morning, I discovered a new word – annus mirabilis, or a remarkable or notable year. I found it checking the meaning of another word with my Merriam-Webster app.

I’ve been blogging since the end of the school year in 2010. Blogging was a resolution then, but really it was more of a reaction to an annus horribilis. This post will mark my 728th post that I have published across fourteen consecutive years. That one resolution has changed my life in so many ways.

a Northern Cardinal at the feeder, Monday December 26, 2022

As I reflected this morning, Continue reading annus mirabilis