Buckeye Lake

We recently returned from a family reunion/vacation on Buckeye Lake near Columbus, OH.  Our second trip out there in the last few years, and it was a lot of fun.  The kids are at the age to really enjoy water sports, which were our featured activity each day.  This meant early mornings – getting up at 5:30-6:00 EST(!) to make our cast off time, avoid the crowds, and hit the smooth water.  It also meant my brother and me had to make our attempts at wake-boarding, to the delight of the kids, since neither of us are very good.

The kids caught on quickly, though, aided by the patience of our cousins and their silver and red Buckeye boat (it really is an awesome ski-boat; the best one on the lake), not to mention some surprise instructions by a former professional wake-boarder and friends.  Weekends like these are big confidence builders for them; they tried something new, were pretty successful, and had fun.

For me, it’s a little strange to be on a lake that’s purely recreational.  Our lakes in Illinois usually have dual-hats:  flood control, power plant cooling, etc.  Lake Shelbyville, where I grew up, is a federally run lake with a flood control purpose primarily.  No houses and restaurants at water’s edge, fluctuating water levels, and lots of coves with old dead trees.  Couldn’t say which is better, but Buckeye Lake is sure a lot more convenient.

The best part of this vacation, though, was the family reunion.  Everyone made it back except one cousin, and we all had a genuinely good time together.  No major drama, the bigger kids were very kind and patient with the younger kids, and the adults were able to catch up and enjoy the down time.  We may have had some early wake-up calls, but the stress levels were low and the food was good, and the weather outstanding.  No real Griswold moments with this one, though I’d like to think old Clark would have approved.

Science & Industry

Last week we took in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which turned out to be the highlight of an otherwise low-key Spring Break for the family.  What a place – especially for curious young minds.

museum-S-I-2A lot has changed since the last time I visited this museum (way back in high school).  The volume of interactive exhibits and activities is impressive.  Seems like everywhere we turned we found another place to do stuff as we learned about it.

I remember being excited about going to museums as a kid – I loved to see and read, see and read about the displays.  At the Museum of Science and Industry, though, they’re not content with only reaching the readers.  As a result, the whole experience seemed more immersive, more kinetic (and certainly a little more chaotic).

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Who you Conning?

We made our way to St. Louis this past weekend for PROJECT: Comic Con at Westport.  A good time was had by many.  The exhibition portion filled two large areas and was generally well apportioned and laid out for the artists, retailers and other folks.  They also had a pair of breakout rooms for panels and presentations.

Organization seemed good.  And the place was full.  Not a lot of space in the aisles on Saturday.  Maybe some additional floor space next year.

So how was the Con?  A fair mix of artists, retailers, and exhibitors.  Plenty of folks on costume.  Featured guests from the biz.  Energy drinks.  So what else do you need?

How about comic books for kids.  I spent close to two hours going through long boxes with the specific goal of picking out some comics for my two young readers.  The problem, of course, is that the vast majority of books are PG-13 or above and cater to guys like me (who were fans in our youth and have now become the chief consumers of comics).  It’s a sustainability problem that will continue to threaten the comics industry, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Continue reading

Road Blogging Woes

Trying to stay up to date on the road presents problems. Hotels don’t provide free internet in the room (why is it the more expensive the hotel, the less likely the free internet?). Using a tablet for longform typing = not ideal. Your schedule’s messed up. You may not sleep well.

You have to go to a bar to watch the Gold Cup semifinal (tonight at 7 pm EST on Fox Soccer). Well, it’s not all bad

Sometimes, you do get cool side benefits like alterations to the workout routine:




Map Link…

Anyway, more quality coming soon, including a book review and reactions to comicon news.

On-time, Under-Budget

Our recent family vacation to Florida was memorable and lots of fun.  The kids spent time with Grandma and Great-Grandma – including a day at Disney with both Grandmas(!) that involved Jedi training, a rascal scooter, an unexpected reunion with Ohio cousins, and intermittent but pleasant showers.

Despite torrential rain our first day at the beach (or more appropriately, because of these storms) the wife found a record number of shark’s teeth.  It could have been warmer, but the Gulf was hospitable as always, and we had three nights of excellent fresh seafood. Continue reading

Messin’ with Texas

The vacation posts on Beemsville have often tended to be  late for a variety of reasons.  This summer’s entry saw us traveling to Dallas, TX to visit cousins and my sister.  That’s right. We weren’t satisfied with record highs and drought conditions in the home state; those hundred degree days in Illinois were just to get us in the mood.  We really wanted to experience early August in North Texas, get the full effect. Yes it was hot, but actually a little cooler than home for a couple of days.

Of course the real draw was family and a chance to reconnect.  My sister had been down there for over a year and we miss her.  And staying with my cousin Andy, who grew up a couple of miles away from us, who played sports together , went to school together, worked on the farm together, caught frogs, snakes, fish, and lizards together – well, this trip had been in the making for years. Continue reading

500 Fesitval Mini-Marathon

The idea of running a half-marathon would have seemed pretty odd a few years ago.  I’m not a strong natural runner, and running certainly isn’t a fave for cardio exercise.  But with persistent encouragement from some friends and my own stubborn streak kicking in, a half-marathon became my Spring work-out goal.  Setting goals and working towards them sounds inherently lame on some levels, and yet the older I get the more I realize how effective this simple motivational  structure can be.

There I was, a few months back, running on the last snowy day of the year.  I used the Hal Higdon schedule (Novice 2), which basically increases long runs incrementally on the weekends and intersperses them with shorter runs during the week.  Longer runs on Sunday afternoon became something I almost looked forward to and certainly planned for.  Id’ be out there with my MP3 player, listening to lengthy Illini Sports and Sci-Fi themed podcasts.  The goal of being able to run 13.1 miles at a steady pace without stopping came into focus.  Mostly I ran a course that took me through Washington Park and down past the capitol building here in Springfield, but I also ran hills near Siloam Springs at the in-laws and through the country on our old basketball training route near my old home town of Findlay. Continue reading

St. Louis Pick – City Museum

St. Louis is an easy drive for us, just fine for an occasional overnight get-away or day trip.  With the kids out of school for spring break, we decided to head down for a few days.  We split time between the Zoo, the Magic House, and the City Museum.

The St. Louis City Museum – weird, imaginative, cool – was our pick for the trip.  Many friends had recommended before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Had heard it wasn’t so much a museum as a kind of artistic jungle gym, and this is an apt description.  The City Museum is like this great maze of a playground, with subtle (and not so subtle) animal, cavern, jungle, and urban themes.   It begs exploration and imagination from kids, and ours were more than happy to partake.

A couple of exhibits weren’t yet open for the summer season, and we really didn’t see everything – including the aquarium.  That’s OK – we’ll be back.  For kids four and above, this is a great, great imaginative site.  There are tunnels and climbing everywhere.  Little kids could get confused, lost, and upset – so bear that in mind.  Also, adults who don’t want to crawl and wriggle through the mazes and passages will have a hard time keeping up with their kids.  The wife and me both had bruises and soreness to show for our efforts.  This place gets the official Beemsville on Tour recommendation.

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Fossils and North Lake

The second day of our fun, fun family trip took us downtown to the Chicago Field Museum.  The kids were very excited to see the dinosaur bones (naturally) and we were lucky enough to get about 10 minutes of  Q&A with one of the museum’s paleontologist’s at the Sue T-Rex exhibit.  Was a little apprehensive about all the animal exhibits, because as impressive as the specimens are, they’re only dead stuffed critters after all.  Kids these days are used to seeing these animals on the big HD screen, or digitally animated, or in bad movies with digitally animated mouths making bad jokes at the expense of second-rate comedians.

But they did like the exhibits, and they were interested, and the older two spent some time reading the placards and multi-media, searching out the regions on the globe for habitat, and learning in that time-honored museum way.  They were asking questions, formulating their little hypotheses about the similarities and differences of the animals, and generally making me proud. Continue reading

Of Capes and Books

Last weekend we headed up to Chicago for our end-of-summer family field trip.  This Windy City trip was a little different from those in recent years in that it did not involve a sporting event, comedy clubs, bar-crawls, or stuff like that.  On the agenda:  Chicago Comic-Con and the Field Museum.

to THE Batmobile!

The Chicago Comic-Con, aka, Wizard World Chicago, has been a Beemsville favorite for years now.  It’s always fun to look around at the memorabilia, talk to comics creators, see the folks dressed up as their favorite characters, and generally revel in the geek culture.  In the past, objectives have involved networking, learning about making comics, or listening to favorite writers and directors speak about their craft.  This year, we focused squarely on the kids.

With our two and nephew in tow, the kids decked out in costumes, we patrolled the convention floor, taking it all in, posing for photos, and looking for the best deals on books.  I quickly realized that the prices on trade paperbacks and graphic novels meant a transition to shopping mode (50% off and higher on trades and hardbacks), and having come to the con with a goal of getting a bunch of comics reading material for my girl and the nephew, I was on the hunt.

Somewhat unfortunately, as anyone familiar with comics these days can attest, most of the reading material is geared at teens and above.  You don’t really want your 7-9 year old reading most of the superhero titles these days (an ongoing an much discussed problem in the comics industry).  But there are some titles for the little guys, and we found a new Super Friends book, Tiny Titans, and some Star Wars Clone Wars stuff.  Also picked up some copies of the acclaimed Bone books (which my girl has already finished), Owly for my youngest, a big beautiful hardcover Marvel Superheroes reference book for the nephew, the Mice Templar trade, a Power Pack hardback, and a handful of trades for myself. Continue reading