September 27, 2015

Weekends Need to Be Longer

After a weekend like this, I am thinking about getting back into politics. You see, I did launch an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2004 with required no fee ATM's as a main issue. While I fell just short of getting on the ballot, I think my next stance might help my candidacy gain some traction: a federal law requiring longer weekends.

After this weekend, you'll know exactly why I am making this a prime part of my platform. 

It all started with the Brewers mini-marathon. While this was the 4th installment of this half-marathon and I have been fortunate to participate in all four, I had some major concerns about my ability to finish this time around. Maybe it was because of my lack of training. Maybe it was the early morning humidity. Maybe it was the pizza buffet carb loading the evening earlier. Either way, I was not at full strength. However, I did still break the 2 hour mark and was only about 90 seconds off my best time. I wonder how I'd do if I actually stuck to training and laid off the pizza and beer?
Do I always look this angry when I run?

After enjoying the bountiful post-race snacks and even swallowing down a few gulps of swill beer (we have become quite the beer snobs), it was time to head to Sturgeon Fest. Though this was our first time attending, this festival of nature and conservation is highlighted by being able to sponsor and release a sturgeon into Lake Michigan. Sponsored by a local nature center, we enjoyed the animal displays (lots of turtles) and the prairie walk through Lakeshore State Park before releasing three beautiful fish into the drink.

On top of that, we were also lucky enough to hear an inspiring message and watch a program led by Dr. Scott Sampson, renowned paleontologist and star of Dinosaur Train. While Embry has not fallen in love with this show yet, she certainly was entertained by the program. Ever since I read, Dr. Scott's book, How to Raise a Wild Child, I have become enamored with the thought of increasing and widening natural experience with my daughter and students. This book was crucial to my implementation of forest kindergarten. I am very indebted to Dr. Scott and many others like him.

After leaving the lake and dropping off the kid with Grandma, my wife and I headed to a night hike along one of our favorite spots: the Ice Age Trail. We decided to bring our dog along as he had been cooped up all day. Nugget certainly enjoyed acting as sweep for the hike and fraternizing with hikers at the post-hike bonfire.

Though Saturday was exhausting, Sunday Funday led us back downtown to explore some of Milwaukee's treasures. A last minute decision took us to Potawatomi Bingo for a brunch session. It turned out to be somewhat profitable as I won. . . . . .a door prize to come back and play again. While daubing colorful circles and unlimited carbonated beverages was wonderful, we decided to walk through the actual casino and recently added hotel before heading to the historic Third Ward for a late lunch. After settling on a lovely establishment that provided some delicious frites and an assortment of beers available in flights, we finally visited the Milwaukee Public Market. Hard to believe I am 34 and had never stepped in here before. What a cultural experience! 

Now, it's time for some yardwork, schoolwork and maybe another beer or two. 

Remember, Vote Dargatz in 2016!

September 22, 2015

Discovering Dargatz #153 - Ball Attendant

Known as a retired racing sausage, it is often forgotten that I had my fair share of other sweet gigs, including one of my personal favorites, the ball attendant. From the text message I received the day before my first ever time at that position stating "Bring your glove," I was hooked. The stories and memories could last way more than 200 words, so rather than tell them all, I'll throw a few teasers your way and if you want to learn more, just let me know.

-My first ever game included a come from behind victory and a mammoth Prince Fielder shot against the rival Cardinals

-Playing catch with Hunter Pence is an adventure. He guns it and has an unorthodox release

-Certain outfielders tend to pout when they end the previous inning 

-One particular outfielder in general has a "Rube Baker" complex

-George Kottaras nearly killed me (or at least my chance of having kids) with a line drive 

-Harassing the attendant for a ball does not help your chances

-I loved pitching changes in cooler weather because I got to run and get the reliever's warmup jackets. It's the little things that count.

-Chicks dig ball attendants

P.S. - All of the above are true, except for maybe that last one.

September 8, 2015

DADVentures #24 - Entertainment on Steroids

Wrestling is theater on steroids (literally and figuratively).

When people say professional wrestling is fake, I fight back the urge to remind than that being "scripted" does not equate to being fake. In the same way people watch soap operas and reality television, my family and I watch wresting. It's a release. It's engaging. It is a riot. And now, more than ever, it is entertaining.

I'm not referring to any innovative storylines or even one-of-a-kind characters. The latest and greatest entertainment aspect of watching wrestling comes from my daughter. The judgments and criticisms of my parenting may come flying as I admit that my daughter occasionally joins in on portions of our wrestling consumption. Bring it.

She has her favorites. She recognizes the music. She mimics the entrance gestures. Do we try and limit her exposure to violence? Of course. Are certain elements of the shows not necessarily toddler-friendly? Sure. Will we ever bring her to a show? You bet.

My wife and I both love it. The adrenaline. The excitement. The silliness. We grew up with it as an integral part of our own childhoods and I can't imagine wrestling not being a part of my family's future.

September 6, 2015

Clssroom Zoo #32 - NBCT

Always striving to push myself and having a knack for keeping busy, it made sense that once I achieved my Master's Degree and the 27 credits that were once part of my school district's salary table, I had to try something new. I wasn't interested in getting a doctorate and it wasn't financially sensical to continue coursework (though as a lifelong learner, I did anyways). I learned about a program that led to national certification, perfect for us struggling with the "hoop-jumping" professional development plan, or PDP, required by our state to remain licensed. A good friend and amazing teacher joined me on the journey to National Board Certification.

Lots of meetings. Playing e-mail tag. Long days. Longer nights. Annoying re-writes. I distinctly remember how my excitement was dashed and destroyed as my first videotaped lesson and my plan for my writeup was determined to be "way off." On the verge of quitting, I pressed on. I remember walking with my wife to the local FedEx to drop off my submission package, putting my fate in the hands of unknown reviewers from unknown places. Then, one November Saturday morning, I anxiously checked my e-mail at 6:00AM to see the word "Congratulations."

September 5, 2015

Discovering Dargatz #152 - The Winning Weiner

Winning would be sweet, but my real goal was to perform better than I did the first time around. To recap, being a racing sausage for the Brewers is legitimate. The running is real. The competition is fierce. A little too fierce for my taste at times. I didn't get into arguments over choosing which costume to don. I didn't bring extra running shoes in case I was racing that day. But others did. To each their own.

In my first attempt, I was the Polish. Not wanting to further the Polish stereotype but finding it useful in this moment, I lost a bit of my cleverness once the costume was on. Rather than run full speed, I schmoozed with the crowd. This led to an earful from my supervisor. Apparently, Major League Baseball hands out fines for between-inning entertainment that goes too long. So, running the race the right way isn't just requested, it is expected. 

When my name appeared on the schedule as a racer for the second time, the nerves were much more apparent. Regardless, they nurtured a new racing spirit. As the Italian, a dramatic comeback and last second lunge propelled me past my costumed competitors.
My last day as a sausage. Embry wasn't impressed.