Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's an Experience Worth?

I've written before how I am sort of unusual in that I don't really have a particular team I have pledged my allegiance to. Lately, though, I've been feeling a strange pull toward a certain NFL team. I don't know why I'm more interested in this team than any other. It's a very random thing.

I am going to do my best to not become a die-hard fan of this team, but with the passing of each week of the NFL season I find myself more interested in this team and more hopeful for its success.

As I was checking the NFL schedule the other day to see when/where this team plays next, I scrolled down and found a home game against a rival team in the not-so-distant future. There was a link to purchase tickets for this game and so I clicked it. To my surprise, I found a pair of tickets in the lower level of the stadium and in the corner of the end zone.

Here's the kicker: Even before I started having these feelings about this team I thought it would be a great experience to go to a game at this team's stadium. It's historic, unique and sure to be packed with ravenous fans of said team.

Here's the other kicker: The tickets are $175 apiece, and you have to buy both of them. So, I'd have to justify spending nearly $200 (when you consider fees) for one ticket and find a friend who would be willing to do the same.

So, the question is, what's an experience worth? This is sure to be a fun atmosphere and an experience I would never forget, but is it worth it?

You're probably wondering what team and what stadium I'm talking about. Well, here's a hint:

And here's an idea of where the seats are located (red star):

note: I failed in my attempt to publish at least 1 post on 7 consecutive days, but I'm going to try to make up for it by posting at least 7 times in those 7 days. Does that count?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Buzz Cuts - Part 7

It's been a while since I posted anything about my son David. He and I have become really good buddies and I absolutely love spending time with him.

One of my favorite things about David is his willingness to try new things. You can usually get him to take a bite of just about any food or try any new activity at least once.

Since starting this Buzz Cuts series, the one thing I have had trouble convincing David to do is actually get a buzz cut. Well, that changed this past weekend. I sort of had to trick him into it, though. Katie had to run to the store, so I told David we should give ourselves mohawks to trick her and then we'd just trim the mohawks down to buzz cuts. He jumped at the chance to play a trick on his mommy.

We ended up with mohawks, but Katie took longer at the store than we thought and David was getting itchy so we finished up his buzz cut before she got home. I kept the mohawk until she got back and she was less than impressed.

Anyway, here is the latest edition of Buzz Cuts:

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Fun of Photoshop

One of the great things about my job is that I get to spend most of my days learning and applying new skills in Adobe Photoshop. It's a very powerful program that is capable of way more than just cropping and touching up photos.

Today I made some new brushes out of photos we took during our weekend in Ludington. Then I made a new desktop image. So, now my computer screen looks like this:

7 for 7?

In response to my lack of production on the old blog recently, I am challenging myself to produce one post each day this week. Can I go 7 for 7?

(this one doesn't count for today's post)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ref Ruins Game

I really love sports. Really. Ask my wife.

But, sometimes things happen in sports that make me really disgusted. I just saw the below video and had one of those moments.

I cannot believe a referee would do something like this.

A Weekend With My Wife

Katie and I did something we've only done once before since we've had kids - went away by ourselves for more than one night.

Thanks to the generosity of some wonderful people, we spent the weekend in a cabin in Ludington, Mich. If you don't know where Ludington is, it's about halfway up the west coast of Michigan, right on Lake Michigan.

It was a great time to reconnect with each other. We love our kids to death, but it's often difficult to really be together with my wife while there are two little kids running around and begging for our attention. They stayed with my parents for the weekend and had a great time.

Some of the highlights of our Ludington trip:

- Watching the sunset Saturday night (pictures below)
- Sleeping in late (no pictures)
- Driving to, and walking around, Pentwater, a place where my family vacationed several times while I was in high school (pictures below)
- Relaxing at the cabin

Enjoy the photos:

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Pen Problem

I consider myself something of a connoisseur - not of fine food or jewelry, but of pens.

Some people are really picky about what kind of food they eat, or what kind of clothes they wear. Me? I'm picky about what kind of pen I use.

My favorite pens are the kind where the ink is almost flowing out of the tip - if you leave the tip of the pen on the same spot on the paper too long it will leave an ink blot. I like them because you don't have to press hard to get a good, crisp line of ink.

My least favorite pens are the old-school bic round stic pens. You know the kind that you can buy 40 of them in a box, in either red, blue or black ink? I don't like those because those are the kind where you almost always have to do a little scribble circle to get the ink flowing cleanly before you can write with confidence. Plus, you have to put a decent amount of pressure on the pen or else you lose your line.

So, I've been using a pen recently that is somewhere between my favorite and my least favorite. I have no idea where it came from, but I pulled it out of my desk a few weeks ago. It's one of those pens you get at the doctor's office with a prescription drug name and logo on it. It's a nice pen. I've never had to do a scribble circle or even push hard while using it.

Last night, however, I ran into a problem with said pen. My wife looked at it and said, "Cialis, isn't that like Viagra?" I quickly disagreed and said it was some kind of allergy medicine. She insisted it was not an allergy medicine, so I looked up Cialis and was fairly disappointed at what I found. You guessed it - it's a Viagra competitor.

So, I've been carrying this pen around for a few weeks now, going in and out of meetings with it, leaving it laying on my desk all day - with no idea what kind of drug I was marketing!

Here's a before-and-after picture of the pen. Problem solved!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


OK, here's the nine questions asked of me, followed by my answers. The questioner is in parentheses at the end of the question.

1. What's it like to be ripped now, runner-man? (Dan Erickson)

One of the things I haven't written much about with all this running I've been doing is my lack of discipline when it comes to food. I tried to quit the Mountain Dew, but couldn't do it. The combination of burning extra calories through running and working outside over the summer made me feel like I didn't need to worry about my calorie intake. Also, I abandoned the weight lifting portion of my training plan about 2 weeks in. All that to say, I'm not ripped! But, I can run for a long time without even breathing hard and that's kind of cool.

2. Talk about, in your experience, the difference/difficulty/fun, etc... of moving from one child to two. (I know that's technically a request, not a question, but hopefully it qualifies) (Dan Erickson)

I feel like I'm at a really good place to answer this question because David and Hanah are pretty much at the same level of abilities (walking, running, riding a bike, talking, potty trained, emotions, etc.). That's important because until David reached a similar level as Hanah we had to treat him differently, which was sometimes good and sometimes bad.
When David was first born we tried really hard to include Hanah in everything because we knew she was going to feel left out. It ended up that Hanah and I began spending a lot more time together while Katie spent much of her time with David. This has created some sort of disproportionate relationships, but that's sort of evening itself out now.
The other thing that I'm constantly reminded of is how little effort we made to capture moments with David. There are not nearly as many pictures or videos of him as a baby.
We also were a lot less anal with David. We didn't worry so much about getting him a nap every day, getting him to bed on time, what types of food he ate. But we were also tougher on him with training-type things, because we were far too easy on Hanah and paid for it (like teaching her to go to sleep by herself, obedience, etc.)

3. If you could go back and give High School Dan one piece of advice, what would it be? (Derry Prenkert)

This is by far the toughest of all the questions asked, because I'm not sure what I could say that I would have taken seriously and applied.
I guess the thing I most needed to hear back then was that God didn't care what other people thought about me. It didn't make any difference to Him whether people saw me as the good kid, the bad kid or just another kid. All the "good" stuff I did just to make people believe I was different was worthless. I needed to hear that unless I really loved God and worshipped Him with my life, anything I did would ultimately be worthless - even the really "good" stuff.
I also would tell myself to try out for the football team, change my attitude in sports and learn what it means to work hard for something.
Sorry, that's more than one piece of advice, but it's hard to narrow it down to one thing!

4. If you had to live in another country, which one would you choose? (Jeff Simpson)

I'm pretty sure it would be Jamaica because I love tropical climates. I also love the laid-back culture of Jamaica, and the music! I also think it would be cool to pick up a Jamaican accent!

5. What is the most defining moment in your spiritual life, and why? (Rob Henschen)

This answer is directly related to the answer to the ninth question in this list. The most defining moment in my spiritual life is obviously the moment when I accepted Christ as my savior, but the journey toward that moment started when my dad decided to seek Christ and walk away from the things that were controlling his life up to that point. Other notable moments: Establishing some friendships with people who would push me spiritually in college; Breaking up with Katie after my sophomore year of college, and eventually reaching a place where we could be together again and still please God; Moving out of an off-campus house and back into the freshman dorm during my senior year of college; Marrying Katie; The birth of Hanah; The birth of David.

6. I only know you through give me a fun story about you that I don't know... (Rob Henschen)

I went to Bethel College and every year we had a day called the World Christian Action Conference - or something like that. Basically, classes did not meet but students had to attend several sessions throughout the day. Well, during my junior year some friends and I decided to skip the conference and go rollerblading. The summer before we had built a halfpipe in Petey's barn and that's where we went. I took a turn on the halfpipe, which I had done hundreds of times before, but this time I fell hard. My feet went out from under me and when I reached back to catch myself, my left forearm broke right at the point where my wrist guard ended. Seeing my crooked arm nearly made one friend vomit. My first thought was for my friends to call Katie, who was my girlfriend at the time, and have her call my parents. I ended up spending some time in South Bend Memorial Hospital before going to an orthopedic surgeon's office for several hours. He eventually reset the bone and fitted me with a cast that held my arm at a 90-degree angle. That night my roommates and I were sitting on the couch, I with my broken arm sticking straight up in the air when Derry walked in, looked at me, shook his head and said, "Oh man." He still gives me a hard time about skipping the World Christian Action Conference.

7. Ten years down the road...what do you hope Dan and Katie will be doing? Feel free to dream. (Anonymous, though I have a hunch who it might be)

That depends on which Dan and Katie you're talking about. Just kidding.
I hope I am teaching communication classes at Bethel College and Katie is doing some kind of part-time work teaching people how to eat healthier and take care of their bodies (nutritionist, personal trainer, etc.) I hope we find ourselves with plenty of time to spend with our kids, who will be 16 and 14 (typing that made my stomach queezy) and probably involved in sports, clubs, hobbies and school activities. I also want to be involved in some kind of ministry - wherever God leads us.

8. Since your housing situation is constantly in flux... :) If you could afford to live anywhere LOCALLY...where would you live and what would your house/property look like? (you'd move, but still go to the same church, have the same life) (Becky Rassi)

I honestly think I would purchase the land we live on right now, move into the Lodge (the biggest of the three houses on the property), fix it up and knock down the other houses. I just love the location, the huge yard by the lake and the pond on the other half of the property.

9. Who has had the greatest spiritual impact upon you and why/how? (Todd Owens)

My dad has had the greatest spiritual impact on me, but I didn't realize that until just a few years ago. As far as I know, my dad never went to church growing up. He became an alcoholic early in his adult life, but walked away from that habit because of his love for his family. He gave his life to Christ soon after that and has given me a great picture of the love my Heavenly Father has for me.

Happy Birthday David!

As unbelievable as it was when my daughter Hanah turned 6 in May, it is maybe even more unbelievable that today my son David turns 4 years old. He's our youngest and to think we've been enjoying him for 4 whole years is hard to comprehend.

David is a high-energy, high-emotion kid who is a ton of fun to play with and talk to. He's got an incredible imagination and a no-fear approach to life. I'll never forget the time last year when he tried to ride his tricycle down the steps of our front deck! I was inside, heard the crash and the crying and thought for sure he was going to be gushing blood from his head. But he escaped with some minor scrapes on his hands.

Right now David loves cowboys. So, as you can see, his birthday presents were cowboy gear - including a new hat, boots and a pair of guns with holsters. The guns are actually cap guns (remember cap guns?) but he didn't really like the sound or smell of the caps so he's not using the caps. Hanah enjoys the caps, however, so they'll get used up. Can you see her pointing a gun at David in the background?

I'm so proud of my kids. I'm so blessed to have them and I love being their dad.

Happy Birthday Buddy!

*Edit: I almost forgot to mention that David shares a birthday with one of my best friends in the world: Derry Prenkert. Derry turns 32 today. Happy birthday!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


This is a blatant ripoff of something Corey, Derry and Jeff have all done on their blogs recently, but I can live with that.

You ask me the questions and I'll give you the answers. It doesn't matter how many (or few) questions I get, I'll answer them all. Just leave your question by commenting on this post.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Fun Weekend

We had a busy weekend, but it was really fun. Saturday morning we woke up, got ready and left to help set up a surprise party for our good friend Mindy Graverson. She's the third in a group of girlfriends who turned 30 years old this year and we celebrated her Saturday. Mindy's husband Marty did a great job planning the party and keeping it a secret.

Sunday was a normal church day and then lunch in Goshen with my parents and sister. Both our cell phones died while we were out so we missed several messages from Marty and Mindy asking if we could watch the kids while they went to a movie. They finally got in touch with us and we worked out the details. Their kids and our kids play great together so it's an easy babysitting gig for us. In fact, I painted our entire bedroom while the kids played.

Here are some pictures of the party and some of the kids playing Sunday night:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Working at a Newspaper and Working at a Church ...

Derry asked me to blog about the differences and smiliarities between working at a newspaper and working at a church.

First, a little history: I worked at a little local newspaper called the Niles Daily Star for five years after I got out of college, then moved to the much larger South Bend Tribune for a little more than two years before taking my current position at Nappanee Missionary Church.

I'm going to reference only my memories from the South Bend Tribune because working at the Niles Daily Star was not like most newspapers - it was so small that I was a one-man sports department and carried many more responsibilities than I would have at most any other paper.

What's the Same:
1. There is a constant struggle to communicate clearly and effectively to a large audience.

2. I am a little different than most of the people I work with. At the newspaper it was because I am a Christ follower; At the church it is because I've spent several years working outside the church.

3. People love sports. I worked in the sports department at the newspaper, so it was no surprise that the people in that department enjoyed sports. At the church, a lot of my coworkers are also passionate about sports.

What's Different:
1. The pace. The newspaper business is fast-paced and high-pressure; The church is much more laid back.

2. Deadlines. At the newspaper, meeting deadlines is one of the highest priorities. At the church, deadlines are more like something to keep in mind but not worried about.

3. Team spirit. At the newspaper you knew you were on the team, but not necessarily in the running for the MVP award. At the church, I feel like the work I do is very important and the people around me are supporting me, helping me be the best I can be at my position so that the team succeeds.

4. The attitudes. At the newspaper, most people were at least a little bit disgruntled. There was a lot of complaining about the company, the bosses and the coworkers. At the church, there's a strong feeling of job satisfaction and commitment to the team.

5. At the newspaper, everyone had a clearly defined role. At the church, there's flexibility among most of the staff to do whatever is needed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back in the Saddle (or on the treadmill)

After three full days of rest following the half marathon, I got back on the treadmill this morning for the start of another training program. I'm running in the Pilots 5K during Bethel College's Homecoming Weekend on Saturday, Nov. 8. That gives me a little more than a month to get ready.

Now, obviously, I could easily go out and run a 5K race without any problems. But, I've set a goal for myself so that I will have to work pretty hard leading up to the race. I want to finish this one in less than 25 minutes. You can read the pace breakdown here but the short of it is that I've got some serious work ahead of me to cut nearly 3 minutes off the time I ran this morning.

I did a full 5K this morning and it took me 27:50. It was kind of a test run to see how fast I could go if I pushed myself. I was pretty pleased with the results and I felt really good while running. No soreness at all!

I've said this before, but I want to repeat it to confirm that I still feel the same way: I want to be a runner for the rest of my life. Before I started training for the half marathon I never thought I would actually enjoy running, but I really do enjoy it now. I still don't like waking up early to run before work, but once I'm running it feels good and I have fun with it.

I'm looking forward to the Pilots 5K because it will be good motivation for me to keep working hard in my training, but also because Katie and I are both Bethel graduates and will enjoy being back on campus. Plus, Hanah and David are going to run in a 100-meter fun run for the kids and that should be really fun to watch.

Pilots 5K Training Log

Day 36
Wednesday, Nov. 5
3.2 miles - 28:50
Training Miles Completed: 34.9
Days Until Race: 3

This was the final run before the race. It was mean to be a light run, so the time does not bother me. What bothers me is how wiped out I felt after it was over. I felt like I had just pushed myself really hard. The last few weeks have been really discouraging and disappointing. I got sick, but I was also pretty lazy. I just hope I can summon the energy Saturday to push myself and still make my goal.

Day 35
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Day 34
Monday, Nov. 3
3.2 miles - 27:16
Training Miles Completed: 31.7
Days Until Race: 5

I was pushing hard this morning and could not keep a fast enough pace to even get close to 25 minutes. I'm starting to think that goal might be out of reach. Maybe I'll do well in the race, but training has been discouraging lately.

Day 33
Sunday, Nov. 2

Day 32
Saturday, Nov. 1

Day 31
Friday, Oct. 31
2 miles - 16:12
Training Miles Completed: 28.5
Days Until Race: 8

Motivation has been really lacking lately, plus my endurance has really dropped since getting sick. I'm glad I was able to keep such a high pace for two miles, but I know I couldn't go much longer than that.

Day 30
Thursday, Oct. 30

Day 29
Wednesday, Oct. 29

Day 28
Tuesday, Oct. 28
2.5 miles - 23:00
Training Miles Completed: 26.5
Days Until Race: 11

After a week off and still not fully recovered from a head cold, today's run was tough. I felt pretty good through the first 1.5 miles, but then fatigue set in. I struggled the last mile, but I'm glad I at least got through 2.5 miles. Now, I have to push hard the next 11 days to still reach the goal of a 5K in less than 25 minutes.

Days 21-27
Tuesday, Oct. 21-Monday, Oct. 27
Rest, Lazy & Sick
Training Miles Completed: 24
Days Until Race: 12

After a planned rest day on Tuesday, I was lazy on Wednesday and then picked up a cold starting Thursday. I felt like I was carrying a cement block around on my face all weekend and am still not completely healthy. I am going to try to get back in the swing of things tomorrow. Hopefully I didn't lose too much momentum!

Day 20
Monday, Oct. 20
3 miles - 25:06
6 strides (for a total of 4 miles @ 33:43)
Training Miles Completed: 24
Days Until Race: 19

After a weekend away with Katie and a lot of eating out, I was worried how I would feel. But, today's run was good. I tried to push, but not too hard because I knew I had to do the strides at the end of my 3 miles. My pace during the 3 miles was 8:22, so that's really good. I definitely think I could have sustained that through another .2 miles, which would be a 5K time of just under 26 minutes. Getting there!

Day 19
Sunday, Oct. 19

Day 18
Saturday, Oct. 18

Day 17
Friday, Oct. 17
5K - 26:44
Training Miles Completed: 20
Days Until Race: 22

Wow - I felt like I was pushing so hard today and still couldn't break 26 minutes. I did have to stop and walk at 2.9 miles because the pace was just too high. If I had kept running the last .3 mile I probably would have broken 26 minutes, but not 25. I feel like 1:45 is not that much time to take off over the course of 3.2 miles, but at the same time I can't imagine running much faster than I did today!

Day 16
Thursday, Oct. 16

Day 15
Wednesday, Oct. 15
3.6 miles - 31:00 (5K at 27:31)
Training Miles Completed: 16.8
Days Until Race: 24

This was supposed to be a 4-mile run but the pace I was running at was too much. I felt good through the first 3 miles, but then started hurting. It turns out that I was on an 8:36/mile pace, which is slower than I ran Monday. I think the problem is that I started out slower on Monday then increased my pace as I ran. Today, I stayed at the same pace throughout. I'll have to keep that in mind for the race!

Day 14
Tuesday, Oct. 14

Day 13
Monday, Oct. 13
3 miles - 25:44
Training Miles Completed: 13.2
Days Until Race: 26

OK, back on track! I felt really good this morning. Ran an 8:34/mile pace, much faster than I've been running. I still need to knock off another 34 seconds to finish the 5K in less than 25 minutes. I feel pretty sure that I can do it now.

Day 11-12
Saturday, Oct. 11-Sunday, Oct. 12

Day 10
Friday, Oct. 10

Gonna have to make up for this tomorrow!

Day 9
Thursday, Oct. 9

Day 8
Wednesday, Oct. 8
4 miles - 36:24
5 Strides
Training Miles Completed: 10.2
Days Until Race: 31

It is nice to be running shorter distances than I was while training for the half marathon. I did 4 miles today at a pace of 9:06/mile, which is nearly a minute faster than my normal training pace. But, I still have to cut another minute off that pace to finish the 5K in less than 25 minutes. I fell pretty confident that I can do it!

Day 7
Tuesday, Oct. 7
Training Miles Completed: 6.2
Days Until Race: 32

Day 6
Monday, Oct. 6
3 miles - 27:14
5 strides (20 second sprint, 45 second walk/jog)
Training Miles Completed: 6.2
Days Until Race: 33

OK, so after last week's 5K training run, I got lazy. I decided that I'd wait until today to really start the plan since the training plan I downloaded works best to start on a Monday.

I felt good today. I tried to increase the pace so I finish at a faster pace than I start. Plus, the strides felt really good and should be a big help to increasing my speed.

Days 2-5
Thursday, Oct. 2-Sunday, Oct. 5
Training Miles Completed: 3.2
Days Until Race: 34

Day 1

Wednesday, Oct. 1
3.2 miles - 27:50
Training Miles Completed: 3.2
Days Until Race: 38

My goal for this race is to finish in less than 25 minutes. It will take somewhere around an 8 minutes/mile pace to beat 25 minutes and I've never trained at that type of speed. My half marathon pace was 10:13, although there were plenty of runs where my pace was less than 10 minutes/mile.

Today was kind of a test run. I pushed it pretty hard to see how much work I have to do to reach my goal. It looks like I've got to shave off nearly a minute to get down to an 8-minute/mile pace. That may not seem like much, but I've only got 38 days to do it and a minute really is a lot of time to cut. So, I've definitely got my work cut out for me, but I'm excited.

Note: I don't intend to put a link to this training log on the sidebar like I did with my half marathon training log. This one is more for my own personal use, although you're more than welcome to follow along. You'll just have to search for this entry every time you want to check in on my progress!