Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Incredible Year!

Last August (8.9.2010 to be exact) I posted my "Bucket List" as such

Bucket List (as of today)

We'll it's been an incredible year! I was able to be part of 2 Space Shuttle launches (and even was a guest in Mission Control!); attend a U2 concert in Chicago this summer (well worth the wait - an incredible band to listen to LIVE); visit Portland and Alaska - Alaska was absolutely amazing!

So now that I've crossed off a few things you might think that my list has shrunk - well I believe that once you cross one thing off you add another -- or in my case, these experiences prompt my desire to experience more!

I had someone tell me that I'm "too young" to have a bucket list. I think this person is missing the point - we never know when our last day will be and we should live each day knowing that. Life is worth living. Bucket List items are those things we hope to experience in living life. It doesn't mean waiting until we're retired or until we've (heaven forbid) told we have limited time left here.

A revised "Bucket List" is in the works (which, honestly, is constantly in review) and I'll post that sometime soon.

Now go out and live your Bucket List!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rockin' the '80s

Tuesday night was the Des Moines Civic Center’s Opening Night of Rock of Ages ~ playing April 19-24, 2011. I asked my friend Rob who typically isn’t found attending the theatre to go with me as I knew this would be a show that he would like. I was so right – he really enjoyed it!

Rock of Ages is a nostalgia, over-sexed rock musical based in Los Angeles during the ‘80s hair metal era. Big hair. Bad clothes. Girls in hooker-style costumes. Ushers handing out lighter-shaped flashlights to wave during power ballads. Lots of shtick and an absurb plot yet remember, not much about the 80s can be taken too seriously!

Constantine Maroulis from American Idol fame plays the lead with the lovely and very talented Elica MacKenzie playing opposite. Together they sound amazing! The Stage Band was fun to watch and did a great job at keeping the music true to the era.

Go see Rock of Ages. It’s definitely “Nothin’ but a Good Time”.

“Cum on Feel the Noize” (Slade, 1973, covered by Quiet Riot in 1983)
“Just Like Living in Paradise” (David Lee Roth, 1988)
“Nothin' but a Good Time” (Poison, 1988)
“Sister Christian” (Night Ranger, 1984)
“We Built This City” (Starship, 1985)
“Too Much Time on My Hands” (Styx, 1981)
“I Wanna Rock” (Twisted Sister, 1984)
“We're Not Gonna Take It” (Twisted Sister, 1984)
“More than Words” (Extreme, 1991)
“To Be With You” (Mr. Big, 1991)
“Waiting for a Girl Like You” (Foreigner, 1981)
“Wanted Dead or Alive” (Bon Jovi, 1987)
“I Want to Know What Love Is” (Foreigner, 1984)
“Harden My Heart” (Quarterflash, 1981)
“Shadows of the Night” (Benatar, 1982)
“Here I Go Again” (Whitesnake, 1982)

“The Final Countdown” (Europe, 1986)
“Any Way You Want It” (Journey, 1980)
“Paradise City” (Guns N' Roses, 1988)
“High Enough” (Damn Yankees, 1990)
“I Hate Myself for Loving You” (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, 1988)
“Heat of the Moment” (Asia, 1982)
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (Pat Benatar, 1980)
“Can't Fight This Feeling” (REO Speedwagon, 1984)
“Every Rose Has its Thorn” (Poison, 1988)
“Oh Sherrie” (Steve Perry, 1984)
“Keep On Loving You” (REO Speedwagon, 1980)
“The Search Is Over” (Survivor, 1985)
“Renegade” (Styx, 1978)
“Don't Stop Believin' (Journey, 1981)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where Were You When???

I think every generation, every person, has their “Where were you when…?” moment – a time when something significant in history happened and you will always recall where you were at the moment you heard of it. Not knowing statistics on the matter and if it’s “normal” but for me there are several that come to mind:

*Elvis Presley’s death – Aug 16, 1977
*John Lennon’s assassination – Dec 8, 1980
*President Ronald Reagan assassination attempt – March 30, 1981
*Kurt Cobain’s suicide death – April 8, 1994
*Princess Diana’s deadly car crash – Aug 31, 1997
*Attack on America – Sept 11, 2001

But the one that I will discuss in this post is the day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986.

The Teacher in Space Project (TISP) was a NASA program announced by then President Ronald Reagan in 1984 designed to inspire students, honor teachers, and spur interest in mathematics, science, and space exploration.

In 1985, Christa McAuliffe was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher in Space Project (capacity as a kind of Spaceflight participant), and she was scheduled to become the first teacher in space, with Barbara Morgan as her backup.

Our town (Framingham – a suburb of Boston) took a great interest in the whole program as Christa was a former resident, and one of our much loved English teachers, Charles Sposato, was third in line (of what I recall) from being selected. He went through some of the training and became really good friends with Christa.

Our high school floor plan was a very unique design – basically a square figure eight, with long hallways and only one story high. I was a junior and remember sitting in science class. The science hallway was like the rest of the hallways, a long corridor but the biology and physics labs were lined with glass panels that looked into the hallways (one class could see into the other class).

We were all so excited! After a few previous delays we were finally going to watch the launch. Every TV in the building was tuned to NASA TV to watch this historic event. I remember joining in on the cheering when the launch happened but the cheering quickly turned to silence and confusion as something didn’t appear “right”. There was a plume of white smoke that erupted and dispersed – sideways – and we all sat or stood there wondering what the heck had happened. There was no explosion. No explanation for what was happening. You could hear a pin drop.

Just 73 seconds into the flight the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart. Seven passengers perished and a world stood in shock.

There’s not much else I remember about that day except looking out the science class windows and seeing Mr. Sposato, head down, with his jacket and pageboy hat on, walking down the science corridor on his way out of the building to most likely handle the heaviness of what had just happened on his own or with his family.

(When I asked a friend to confirm some of this account he told me how he had set up the TV and recording equipment in Mr Sposato’s sophomore class and watched as Mr Sposato broke into tears as he watched the events unfold.)

My thoughts turned to Mr. Sposato and how he had to have felt. As a community we were excited for Christa but disappointed that OUR beloved teacher Mr. Sposato did not making the final cut. How do you comprehend that because of not making that cut, that on this day, he essentially escaped death?

That evening President Reagan, already scheduled to give his annual State of The Union Address, used the time instead to address the nation on the Challenger disaster. Three days later he traveled to Johnson Space Center and spoke at a memorial service honoring the astronauts.

“Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain.”

The disaster resulted in a 32-month hiatus in the shuttle program. At 11:37 a.m. on September 29, 1988, Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off with a crew of five and dubbed as the “Return to Flight” mission, and a chance to restore national pride in the American space program. Barbara Morgan, the backup astronaut for McAuliffe who trained with her in the Teacher in Space program and was at Kennedy Space Center watching her launch on January 28, 1986, flew on STS-118 as a Mission Specialist in August 2007.

As a graduating class the next year, we paid tribute to Our Heroes with a page in our yearbook. Mr. Sposato wrote a touching piece. It was a day in history we all will remember and forever be touched by.

It is for this reason I have attending a space shuttle launch on my “Bucket List”. We must continue to reach for the stars!

As many of you know, I have been chosen with 150 other lucky participants to tour the Kennedy Space Center and attend the upcoming shuttle launch of STS-133, the next planned mission of the Space Shuttle Program! The mission, currently scheduled for launch no earlier than 1 November 2010, will be to the International Space Station. The mission will be the 39th and final flight of Discovery and the 133rd and penultimate flight of the Space Shuttle program, which began on 12 April 1981.

More information on the opportunity can be found here:

Look for a future blog update on my experience!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bucket List (as of today)

My Bucket List – an ever changing list but most of these have been around for a while:

· Attend a game at every Major League baseball field

· See U2 in concert (I finally have tix for June 2011!)

· Visit every state in the US (states left on list)

o Alaska

o Oregon

· Travel the world – Visit every continent (continents left on list)

o South America

o Asia

o Antarctica

· Specific places I’d like to visit

o Bora Bora

o Lake Tahoe

o Alaska

o & many others, of course!

· Write a book

· Serve a mission abroad

· Attend a space shuttle launch

· Run a 10k

· Learn different dances

o Salsa

o Ballroom

Sunday, June 20, 2010

European Adventure Awaits!

2010 Summer European Choral Concert Tour

USA, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy, & Czech Republic

After hearing me talk about this trip for the last two years – it’s finally here!! My daughter and I leave on Friday (June 25th, 2010) for our trip to Europe!
As many of you know, both of my children are incredible singers! This trip is the same one that my son took two years ago – hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Emily will be performing with other students from across the Midwest at amazing places – Reims Cathedral (Paris), Notre Dame (Paris), Strasbourg Cathedral (Strasbourg France), Lucerne’s Jesuitkirche (Switzerland), St Mark’s (Venice), St Michael’s Church (Munich), & Franziskanerkirche, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Frankfurt).

For an overview of the last two trips (son went in 2008) visit here:

I plan to blog and update Facebook with pictures throughout the trip – we are SO excited!

Oh, and if you'd like to see GPS footage of where we'll be/been - one of the adults on the trip has a cool little deal that'll be posted here:

Monday, June 7, 2010

One more drop in the ol' bucket

Bucket List. I have one. Do you?

Well one of the items on my bucket list is to run a marathon. I'm not naive to think I can just go out and run one, especially since I haven't ran or competed since high school. Baby steps, right?

So I set my first goal to run the 5K leg of Des Moines annual race called the Dam to Dam

The Dam to Dam evolved out of a 10 miler--The Riverfront Run-- presented by the YMCA in the late 1970s. The first year set the stage to run from the newly created Saylorville Dam to the Center Street Dam in Des Moines. While the race hasn't finished on the Center Street Dam, the image remains of a race from Dam to Dam. The race was started by road racers of the 1970s and it continues this tradition. The race has maintained a classic distance of 20 km; the challenge of running a 10 km times two.

Since I am not a runner I asked my 18 year old son to do the race with me, thinking that we'd both be in the same boat and would keep each other company as we straggled behind all the actual runners. Unfortunately both of us have asthma (which is very much maintained) and neither of us likes to run nor do much of it. I looked at it being something we could share together and have fun doing.

We signed up for the race about three weeks beforehand. Both of us had good intentions to train/run every day but with my busy schedule and his summer college classes, girlfriend etc we never actually ran together and were very hit or miss as to whether or not we actually got out at all.

During our "training" I kept track of each run using an iPhone application called RunKeeper it keeps track via GPS of your route and pace so you can gauge your progress. I remember coming back from a run and being SO frustrated that my timing was horrible and wondered if I would ever improve. It was so much easier for me to run on a treadmill but running outside really sucked. I literally was in tears - a huge thanks go out to the friends I called upon (Pete, Neil, Justin & James) in helping me through the breakdown and encourage me to keep at it. I think my best time was somewhat shy of an 12 minute/mile pace.

On the morning of the race (Saturday, June 5, 2010) it rained buckets! Neither of us ran in the rain during "training" but were somewhat excited to do so - thinking it would be better to be wet than dying in the heat of the sun. The 20K runners had to deal with the rain (since they started much earlier than we did) but by the time our race had started it was absolutely perfect weather for running.

A couple years ago I cheered on a friend who ran the 20k so I was aware of the atmosphere but actually being part of it was a whole other thing! We hung out with other runners, took advantage of the free food and drinks, and soaked in the excitement of the day.

At race time, runners line up according to their expected pace - 7 minute mile - 8 minute mile - 9 minute mile - 10 minute mile - turtle pace/mile - haha just kidding but honestly that's where we decided to start, pretty much toward the end of the line (with 2650 other people) so we wouldn't get in the way of other runners. Adrenaline rushed in as the gun fired for the start and we were so ready to get it on!

Off we were! A few minutes into the run I had terrible shin splints and needed to stretch the pain out walking - Daniel was in great form - so I told him to go ahead and I would catch up and he quickly went out of sight. I then saw a bunch of kids around 9 or 10 zoom past me and I was like "oh no you didn't" and got back to running. I lined up with a lady who had a good pace going who seemed to keep increasing her speed as we went along which kept me moving and determined to do well. My intention was to find Daniel and keep up with him but somehow we didn't connect until after the race.

On the halfway mark I grabbed a drink for the first time and literally thought I was going to barf. If there weren't people watching I think I would've. Soon after that I saw the final stretch and tons of people lined up on each side cheering folks on. So what do I do? I get a cramp from the water and had to walk it out for a minute or so - guys running past me with energy like they had just started the race and I was so embarassed to be walking the final stretch. Fight through it!! And I did - I picked up my feet and booked it to the finish line! I was so glad the race was over!

After I crossed the line I heard announced "And Leslie Berg just came in" - which I thought was pretty cool. I tried to look at the race clock as I finished but truly I was just happy to not be the last one in. At the end of the race Jolesch Photography took pictures of the runners. I looked for Daniel and somehow he ended up behind me.

Gun times were posted right away and our results were:

29th place; 4th place in my division - W40 24:33 time 7:54 pace

456th place; 11th in his division - M17 32:30 time 9.45 pace

Daniel and I couldn't believe that I actually passed and didn't see him - it was surreal - like I was in "the zone" people talk about. Believe me, I was estatic that I did so well but my competitive nature makes me frustrated with myself that I wimped out and walked a couple times thinking I was THAT close to placing.

We hung around and talked with some friends and then spent some time at the Downtown Farmers Market (a first for Daniel) before heading home.

Today the official chip times were posted (final results)

10th place; 1st place in my division W40 22:22 chip time 24:33 gun time 7:12 pace

456th place; 11th place in his division M17 30:19 chip time 32:30 gun time 9:45 pace

Not too shabby!!
Not sure when my next race will be but after doing so well I'm excited to actually train for it this time ;)

So this 5K - just another drop in the Bucket.