Article Published in the MN Writers’ Alliance Newsletter

Posted on May 28th, 2010

As a result of linking up with the Rochester MN Writers Group earlier this month, I was asked to write an article for the Minnesota Writers’ Alliance monthly newsletter.

I talk a bit about giving yourself permission to mess things up a bit in the first draft, and that the most important piece is … well, I guess you’ll have to read the article to find out.  Enjoy!

Newsletter, 10-06 (PDF version)

Old Friends, New Chances

Posted on May 26th, 2010

Life is fun.

Last summer, I mentored several co-ops (five in particular), and we had a lot of fun, including watching a Harry Potter marathon, going to the HP6 movie on opening night, and watching movies once a week, every week.

Today, three of them contacted me to let me know they were again working for my employer — Kyle and Grady as full-time employees, and Katie returning as a co-op.  All three started the same day, and I was lucky enough to converse with each of them.

It’s funny how life tends to move in circles.  Once you meet someone, you tend to keep running into them over and over.

As for me, I’m definitely glad to run into these folks again.  I hope I can be better about keeping in contact with them going forward.

A Birthday Party!

Posted on May 24th, 2010

Three years ago today, I was lucky enough to be part of an important event in my neighbor’s lives:  the birth of their daughter.

No, I didn’t help with the delivery, thankfully enough (no offense, Nicole!).

I knew it was coming–we’re close to our neighbors, and consider them family.  John called me that afternoon to let me know that Megan had arrived, and that I could come over to the hospital at any time.

Breaking a bit with tradition, I visited on Megan’s first day.  It’s amazing to me that I was able to hold someone so tiny, so soon after entering this world.  Michael (again so small at the time, he’s got to be twice as tall now) was also excited about his baby sister.

I love being a part of their lives.  I never understood how much fun it was to watch kids grow into the people they become.

Today, Brenda and I were also lucky enough to share Megan’s third birthday.  It’s so neat to see the pretty young girl Megan is becoming–a bubbly personality, always smiling, and always happy to see Neighbor Mike and Neighbor Brenda!

Megan just after the candles are lit

Megan just after the candles are lit

After a delicious dinner of shells, salad, and garlic bread, we had pink cake and vanilla ice cream.  We were all overly stuffed by the end.  After we finished eating, what fun it was to watch the four kids (Michael, Torin, Megan and Tayla) splash through sprinklers and pools!

It was fun to sit and chat with Thor, Tina, John and Nicole as well.  We’re so lucky to have such awesome neighbors right next door (though where else neighbors would be, I’m not sure).

All in all, even though it’s the hottest day on record for May 24 (93 degrees Fahrenheit), today was a really good day.

A Second Year

Posted on May 17th, 2010

As of today, Brenda and I have been married for two years.  The time has simply flown by–probably helped by the fact I haven’t stopped moving between working and going to school.

We celebrated with a simple night out at Applebees and some ice cream from Coldstone.  After all the excitement over the past few years, it was nice to have a nice, relaxed evening.

Thanks to a tip from our neighbors, we also went outside to watch the space shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station float across the sky, somewhat below and to the south of Venus and the crescent moon.

Did I ever mention how nice it is to notice what phase the moon is in?

After coming back inside, we sat down to watch an old favorite:  The Goonies.  What a fun movie!

When I start to meander, it may be time to call it a night.  Good night, moon!

My Name is in Space

Posted on May 16th, 2010

Kind of a cool link I stumbled across today…my name is on the Stardust spacecraft.

I’d long-forgotten about this.

Back in 1998, I had the opportunity to have my name inscribed on a microchip on the Stardust spacecraft.  The spacecraft was designed to go to a comet, collect dust, and return it to Earth.  This mission was successful.

Kind of cool–especially since one microchip will remain on the spacecraft, and one was returned with the collected dust.  Being a part of history, even with such a small thing (having one’s name inscribed on a spacecraft) is an amazing feeling.

Funny how you can participate in something, but forget about it until a dozen years later.  Ironically enough, I remember reading news articles about the return of the collector, but had forgotten the small detail that my name was inscribed on the craft that collected it.  It’s a small measure of immortality, to know my name will float in space for millenia to come.

A Minnesota Campfire

Posted on May 14th, 2010

Had a great party last Saturday, but it’s been a busy week, so I’ve been slow to get this up.  There were so many people who came that I dare not try to list everyone here…I’d be certain to forget someone!

Since it was cold and rainy, we had the party inside rather than out — but there still seemed to be enough room for everyone.  We did have to expand to the garage and downstairs, but everyone managed to fit without too much difficulty.

Far be it from a bunch of engineers to let a little rain and cold stop us from roasting some marshmallows!

A Minnesota Campfire

When it’s not safe to burn logs indoors, just use an electric heater!  When properly used, there are no safety hazards.  (Disclaimer:  roasting marshmallows is not a proper use for a space heater).

Along with brainstorming ideas for self-roasting marshmallows, we all had fun playing Rock Band, Air Hockey, and just simply eating and talking.

Megan and the Rock Band

Megan and the Rock Band

Our caterers (a.k.a. my parents, sisters, and lovely wife) provided a filling and tasty meal.  Brenda and I shall not go hungry for a very long time.

Completely unrelated – does anyone want some tacos or enchiladas?

Thanks to everyone who was able to come help me celebrate the completion of my Master’s degree.  I had a great time!

Graduation Day Today!

Posted on May 7th, 2010

It’s been two years, but I graduate with a Master’s degree in Software Engineering.  I’m pretty excited…photos to come afterward!

New “In the News” section

Posted on May 6th, 2010

Just created a new section for all the news articles that I find related to the things I do (mostly robotics-related articles there now).  With any luck, the articles will continue to grow.

If you ever happen to notice something that you think I should add, please let me know.

Oh, and if you want to see the articles already available, check out the “In the News” section in the header!

And Mike’s New Life Begins…

Posted on May 4th, 2010

Wow, life has taken me on a bunch of crazy twists and turns.

After completing my master’s degree two days ago, and now donating 18 inches of hair (and its imbued wisdom!) to Locks of Love, I’m ready to move forward onto the next phase of my master plan:  writing a novel.

What can I say?  I can’t help but stay busy.  And I like to think big;  in the past few years, I have:

Life is full of interesting challenges, and my life has been full to the brim with lots of intellectual and physical pursuits.  Even so, I feel like the fun is just beginning, so I’m declaring May as the start of my new life.

And so I begin with a small blog entry.  Many more posts to come!