Candidate for Procrastinator of the Year

Intrigued Blog Summary 2021

You would think that someone who is retired would have plenty of extra time over the year to get stuff done – especially items sitting on the top of his to-do list since the first day of the new year.  What has turned out to be a surprising development, it feels like I am BUSIER than when I was in the career grinder.  No idea how this is happening … but it is.  Every day I’d wake up, check the list of things to get done that day, tell myself that it is finally time to get the 2021 blog summary done and then somehow get to the end of the night without it being checked off.  Procrastination isn’t a trait I would willingly label myself with, but when I choose to .. I like to think I’m the best at it ha.  11 months later we can finally scratch that item off the list.  One big catalyst is we are nearing the time when I need to produce the 2022 summary – which needs the calcs from the 2021 summary to complete – what a sticky mess.

Unfortunately, 2021 isn’t as fresh as it once was and thus difficult to really go into detail.  I can call out the highlights.  Covid was starting to lift and the race season was trickling up to speed.  Managed to erase a large blemish on my ultra race record by completing the 30K CMAR race (link here).   No worries about the heat this year, but it was replaced by 6 hours of nonstop raining that flooded the course.  At one point I was thinking the heat would be better ugh.  With that success, upped my game and took on the 50 mile Farmdale ultra.  Can honestly say the 50K was a cakewalk compared to the 50 miler (link here).  Made it through, but it took a LOT out of me and added another doctor’s visit to my list due to a badly injured ankle.

The birding front went very well this year.  Set a stretch goal of hitting the 300 mark for lifers.  As you probably already know by now, it requires a recognizable picture and a feature here on Intrigued to officially get the check.  Took me until the last part of December, but got it done!  Excited for what ’22 will bring.

Following on from the previous year’s goal, a heavy emphasis was placed on increasing the awareness of Intrigued.  This was the 14th year of blogging and feel we are really hitting our stride  in both overall image products and content.  Really seeing that effort pay off this year with the huge increase in readership and comments.  Note, we even figured out that WordPress has been undercounting those stats and were shocked how good they really were – we will be doing our own stats from now on.   For the existing fans as well as the new followers, we are truly thankful and honored you are willing to spend the one thing that is the most valuable in our lives – ‘time’.     I am also thankful for all the great bloggers out there that keep me entertained, push me to get better on every post and motivate me every year to keep going.

A few quick shout outs.  Ron is a big part of the Intrigued operation.  We often get the chance to get out in the field together where he is continually finding birds I might have missed, always willing to help me in the ID phase and graciously there to take on any predators that might attack us…well, he’s there, I won’t be hehehe.   Brad M.  is always there to point out syntax errors that somehow still make it through the gauntlet of checks each post goes through prior to release.  In my defense, I graduated from an engineering college where we dealt more with numbers and letters that were primarily of Greek origin hehehe.  There are rumors Brad might become a full time Intrigued member in ’22 …. shhhhh, don’t tell anyone yet!   Then there is Linda – our birding whisperer, travel guide, itinerary planner and overall business coordinator that keeps this site stocked with topics.  She won’t admit it publicly, but she has become quite the birder as well.

Well, it is time to look back on ’21 and bring you the performance stats.   If you are curious about the details, hit the jump to see the 2021 Life Intrigued blogs stats and accomplishments (mothership and the wild side).

Thanks again to all my readers that keep me committed month after month.

Continue reading Candidate for Procrastinator of the Year

Happy Hauntings

Well, it has been one hell of a month leading up to our favorite holiday. Our annual haunted trail, the 100K attempt, the prediction race at a local cemetery a few nights ago and the rather sad news covered in the last post. Through all the ups and downs we finally made it and can now relax and enjoy a day devoted to all things that go bump in the night….and day…

Haunted Trail of Tears 2022

My haunted trail reaper had a growth spurt this year – decided to add over 3 feet to increase the scare factor. Although not shown, the son of Nyx has an animated lantern and thanks to a flea market find earlier in the year, now has a real scythe. Then there is the flaming pumpkin tradition. Nothing sets the mood for horror night better than 3 feet of flames spewing out the top of an evil Jack-o-Lantern.

Haunted Trail of Tears 2022

Some like to look at clouds and let their imagination flow…me, I prefer flames. The shot above is one of my favorites from this year’s haunted trail – like a Rorschach test for the inner demon, everyone sees something different. I personally see the face of the devil hiding behind an upside down cross. Might be therapy in my future..although this was a bit ominous.

Sturtevant Haunted Farm 2022

One of the tombstones that immediately caught my attention in the Sturtevant Haunted Farm cemetery (has my initials). It just occurred to me I have yet to introduce you to one of the creepiest haunts in all of Illinois. If you are not faint of heart, hit the jump for a quick look at some of the scenes awaiting you at that location.

Have a Happy Halloween everyone – let your spook flag fly high!

As promised, hit the jump to see some shots from this year’s visit to Sturtevant Haunted Farm in Walnut, IL

Continue reading Happy Hauntings

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

The official haunting day has finally come … or as we say around Intrigued.. The best day of the year!  I am still processing all the images from this year’s Haunted Halloween Trail and hope to get the official posts out sometime next month as I am still exhausted from all the work it takes to put on that event ha.  With this being the official day and all, thought I’d give you a sneak peek – especially for those on the wildlife side of Intrigued since those posts are usually not published there. 

My friend in haunt, Paul Rybarczyk, did create another fantastic video which covers some of the sights and sounds from this year’s trail.

Grabbed a few of the images we took just to celebrate this special day. As mentioned above, the full walk through will be coming soon. Our resident witches were brewing up a tasty batch of toad stew for the night – it was a bit under spiced this year as they were unable to trap any children this year.

Hit the jump to see more… if you dare!

Continue reading Happy Halloween Everyone!!

Say Hello to Our Little Friend

Hello everybody. For those wondering, we have been a bit out of pocket for the last week or so. It all started when I woke up to my wife looking at her phone in absolute joy. All my groggy ears could make out was garble that sounded like someone meeting a new baby for the first time.. “how cute”, “adorable”, “oh my” .. the usual fare. I had a moment of “my god what have I done” until she showed me her screen with a YouTube video playing of a puppy. Apparently she had just been alerted by a friend that they were looking for a qualifying home for … well, THIS!

Our new puppy Ruger

We had been looking for a new addition to the family now that our youngest, Raven, had recently turned seven (link here). While finally getting the sleep removed from the eyes, Linda explained how the puppy I was looking at was a performance bred toy Poodle and they were looking for a home where he could continue his champion line in the performance sports – agility, dock diving etc. To be honest, it sounded too good to be true. This puppy was going to be slightly bigger than Raven which is what Linda wanted due to the difficulty our Raven has with the teeter being so light. The video included scenes of him already doing introductory apparatus familiarization, treat awareness and a number of other skills which he already excelled at – far earlier than our other agility champions.

Hit the jump to read more about our new addition.

Continue reading Say Hello to Our Little Friend

Time for a Little Bragging

Hello everyone!  Thought I would take a break from your regularly scheduled programming and bring you a bit of self-indulgence.  Actually, since I have very little to do with any of the honors, I should really classify it as some family bragging.  Take a look at what our little dude brought home from our recent trip to Michigan.

That is one proud puppy! As mentioned in some previous posts, we had the opportunity to head up north and compete in the UKC Premier Nationals. Raven and his mother were in the top 50 UKC Agility Level 2 (AG2) Toy Division (4″) dogs in the nation. This got them invited to their annual Premier where they go head to head in the agility ring.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our little ball of fur.

Continue reading Time for a Little Bragging

Year 13 Wasn’t So Lucky!

Intrigued Blog Summary 2020

Well, it was the year 2020 but if anyone had perfect vision for what the world would be put through, they should immediately make their way to Vegas and find an open Roulette table – should not be hard to find an empty seat these days.  It is the small achievements along the way that get us through the bad times.  One such example is the completion of the 13th year of blogging here at Intrigued – at least for the mothership, the wildlife side is a little younger as that sister site was  created a number of years later.  Adding to that is a self-pat on the back for once again hitting the 6 post a month self-imposed minimum.  It was touch and go there a couple of times during the year, but we fought through it.  Definitely had a huge gaping hole in the running posts this year.  With the exception of the one virtual race recollected a couple of posts ago, the year was a complete bust.  This made hitting my yearly goal of logging at least 1,100 miles a lonely journey.  Toeing the line on race day is a huge motivation for me – with every race last year canceled due to that ass Covid, keeping on track and hauling myself out to the trails every other day tested the mental toughness.  Fought through two injuries to the back and a ridiculous last month of miles to get that check again this year (1,200+ actually).

2020 also brought with it some big changes related to our careers.  Linda officially retired February 1, 2020 giving her some badly needed stress relief after her large operation the year before.  Thanks to the pandemic, she really didn’t get to enjoy her first year of freedom as much as she deserved.  By November I had convinced myself to hang up the corporate life as well and went on permanent vacation until the official retirement on February 1st of this year.  Definitely looking forward to all the extra cycles available to spend on blog material – in between the extra training runs of course ha!

One of my goals last year (come to think of it … every year) has been to increase awareness of the Intrigued blogs.  Over the last year I’ve been able to keep in touch with many of my long time readers and had the privilege of gaining additional followers that apparently enjoy my musings.  For the existing fans as well as the new followers, I am truly thankful and honored you are willing to spend the one thing that is the most valuable in our lives – ‘time’.  A unique possession that is perpetually consumed yet never replaceable.    I am also thankful for the other members of the blogsphere that educate me on a daily basis, give me hours of enjoyment and continue to expand my thinking/perspectives along with pushing me to get better at my craft.

A few quick shout outs.  One to my brother Ron who is a big part of the behind the scenes operations as birding companion, ID confirmer and all around fact checker – not to mention invaluable help with all the Halloween projects that go on around here year round.  To CJ (link here) and B. in the UK (link here) who keep me informed on what is going on across the pond and then there’s my personal editor Brad M.  who keeps the pages mostly free of the egregious syntax errors – sorry for all the errors that make it through – In my defense, I graduated from the University of Illinois’ Engineering College which makes bits and bytes my first language (then married someone with a similar background so we could communicate hehehe).

Keeping with tradition, it’s time to look back at the year’s output and self-evaluate.  One noticeable improvement is the number of followers.  Few things bring a smile to my day more than a comment or like on one of my posts.  If you are curious about the details, hit the jump to see the individual stats and accomplishments.

Thanks again to all my readers and here’s to the new year of fun and adventures that will assuredly find their way onto these pages.

Hit the jump for the details on the 2020 Life Intrigued blogs summary.

Continue reading Year 13 Wasn’t So Lucky!