A Little Background

When I thought about doing a page on the people in my life, My first thought, as usual, was "Go for it!" but I got to thinking that maybe those in my life actually want to be anonymous. So now we are back to trying to get around the anonymity thing while still getting into my life.

First off, I was raised in Moscow, IA (population ~200). I know – you never heard of it and you don’t care. It is about 10 miles south of I-80 about halfway between Davenport and Iowa City in the Hawkeye State of Iowa. I am the oldest of 5 boys (yes, I still feel my mother was abused because of this!) and we were all involved in sports and band in school. Speaking of which, I graduated from Wilton High School. I know – you never heard of it and you don’t care. Wilton is the alma mater of Wally Hilgenburg, outside linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings from the days of the Purple People Eaters. ANYWAY… Growing up we were not well off. My dad was a teacher and my mom didn’t work outside the home until I reached 8th grade. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we didn’t lack for anything either. We had another family in the small town of Moscow that we ended up playing baseball, basketball or flag football with and against every day of the summer. This was before X-Box, Nintendo and even Atari. Heck, when I was a junior in high school a friend of mine got the new-fangled game “Pong”! We had a single 17″ black and white TV that got 4 channels (ABC,NBC,CBS,PBS), so TV was very boring. I remember having people over and we had to stomp on the floor to jiggle the inner loose wires or tubes or something just to get the darned thing to work right. When I tell my kids about growing up there, they look at me as though I have just sprouted antlers.

I now live in Muscatine, Iowa. I know – you never heard of it and you don’t care. Well, I guess that adds to the anonymity factor. According to one of the books I have read about the history of Muscatine, it is the only Muscatine in the entire world. I know – you still haven’t heard of it and still don’t care. It is a small town (~23,000) in Iowa along the Mississippi River. We are really big into Mark Twain here. According to that same book, he spent some time here as a youth as well as in his home town of Hannibal, MO. We are also the home of Max Collins – author of the Dick Tracy comic strip – and his son Max Alan Collins – writer of the graphic novel “Road to Perdition” and other graphic novels. If you want to know where Muscatine is, think of the eastern part of Iowa as a face; the part that sticks out to the east is the nose — Muscatine is where the boogers come out. It’s not really as bad as that. I can get to downtown Chicago in a little over three hours. Also, we have the Quad Cities only 30 miles away and Iowa City about 40 miles away. All in all it is nicely located. We get many of the conveniences of larger cities without a lot of the crime and urban blight you see there.

I work for HNI Corporation in computer technical support Information and Technology Acquisitions (I help migrate newly purchased companies into our network) second level technical support. We manufacture office furniture. In fact, we are the largest mid-level office furniture manufacturer in the world. Take a look at your file cabinets, desks, chairs, office cubes, office tables, lockers, waiting room chairs and couches. If any of them are branded HON, Allsteel, Gunlocke, Maxon, Holga, Paoli, Omni, BPI or Bevis, then we made them. We hold the patent on lateral files. Also, we own Hearth and Home Technologies, which in turn owns Heatilator, Heat-n-Glow, Quadra-Fire, and Fireside. Our world-wide headquarters is in Muscatine. Kind of amazing, huh? A world-wide headquarters for anything in a small town like Muscatine. Muscatine is also the FORMER world-wide headquarters for Bandag (which was recently purchased by Bridgestone Tire). KC works for Grain Processing, as a Quality Assurance lab manager the Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance. Grain Processing is a wet-milling company, similar to Cargill, which is owned by Muscatine Foods. They make a lot of product that goes into other products; chances are that you’ve had some product that they make (maltodextrin, alcohol, starch) as an ingredient in another product. They also own Kent Feeds (a very popular feeds company here in the midwest), Evergreen Mills (another very popular feeds company, mainly in Texas and Oklahoma) and Precision Foods (makers of Wendy’s Frosty!).

Sports have been a big part of my life. I think basketball was handed from God to Dr. James Naismith to us. I also think that basketball is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. I played in high school and college; well I played in high school and was on the team in college – I spent most of my college career on the bench. My career statistics prove this out as I only have slightly more minutes played than games played. After college I played in basketball leagues; my body complains for days when I play now, but I continue to ignore it’s pleas of "No more". I have a lot of fun; still enjoy playing but I suffer for days after I play. The YMCA team I played on won our YMCA league or finished second every year I played, although all I did was get rebounds and set picks. I still loved it. I also think baseball is still the American national pasttime. There is no better way to have a beer and a brat than at a baseball game. KC and I attend a number of games each summer. I still play slow-pitch softball for our church team – well for the last two years it has been for another church team as our church cannot field a team. I really enjoy the folks on the team (it’s co-ed) and don’t really care if we win or lose. Fact is, though, that we have been a strong team every year I have played with them, but not because of anything I do. We have even won the church league season-ending tournament a few times and finished in the top three almost every year. I like watching football, but tend to spaz out during the many breaks between plays.

My high school graduating class numbered 61. I was on the football, basketball, baseball and track teams as well as being involved in band, choir and drama. (You can do this in small schools!) When I went to college at Wartburg, I was on the basketball team. There, I met my wife, KC, when a friend asked me to play on the intramural co-ed volleyball team – she was also on the team. She was on the women’s basketball team at Wartburg and actually got playing time. It took me about 10 seconds to figure out KC was a good mate for me – I am 6’7″ and she is 6’1″ but we also we had a lot in common. She actually UNDERSTANDS sports. I guess it is because her dad and all three brothers played college football and other sports in high school. She also has an appreciation of music. It took her a couple of years to warm up to the idea, but we eventually got married.

We have been married for over 30 years and I still can’t imagine being married to anyone else. KC is the best. Out of all the girls that I dated, she was the only one I actually WANTED my parents to meet (not that the others didn’t have some redeeming qualities!). We’ve had our ups and downs but I still am hopelessly in love with her. And no, I’m not writing all this because I think she will read it.

This blessed union has produced two children – ZDog and Breezomatic. Other than KC, they are the most important entities in my life. I definitely rate my family above my job, and I really like my job. Our kids have tormented us for over two decades. ZDog is 30 and Breezomatic is 27.

ZDog has graduated from Central College and later got his MBA from Drake University. He was working for four years at ING but now is a database programmer at EMC Insurance. He married J on June 18, 2005. J has been a blessing to our family, especially to ZDog! They have two children (GRANDCHILDREN!!) Little L and Little J. Both are still under 2 years old and quite a handful for ZDog and J, along with their two dogs.

Breezomatic has graduated from Kirkwood College, and works as at AmercInn in Coralville works at New Choices and Maid Rite.

They get along better now that they hardly see each other than they ever did while growing up. They were both involved in little league baseball/softall, soccer, youth Y basketball, church youth group and school band (marching, concert and jazz). ZDog showed a propensity for sports (being 6’6″) and was on the high school baseball and basketball teams. Breezomatic showed a propensity for social activies (even though she is 6’3″) and was involved in choir and drama. All in all they kept us hopping during their years here, but now they are out on their own.

The Family, Man
Me BillH – The author of this blog. I am a husband, a father, a grandfather, a friend, an uncle, a wannabe basketball player, a fountain of UUI (utterly useless information), a sports fan, a music lover, a computer geek, a Lockergnomie, an AANG (all-around nice guy) and definitely certifiable. I also are a college graduate. And no, I don’t look like this – I have A LOT less hair!
KC KC – The love of my life. I can’t believe I found the one person who has put up with all my shit and still loves me. She is my heart. I did not know that I was alive until I met her. I still get that wonderful ‘thrill chill’ when I look at her. No, she doesn’t really look like this, but this is what I see whenever I look at her.
ZDog ZDog – He makes me crazy sometimes, he makes me worry others. He is a college graduate and has an MBA as well. And I worry more about him now than I did before he graduated. He likes baseball, basketball, lots of different kinds of music, his X-Box, and of course, J. ZDog and J have been married for over 5 years now.
J J – She officially joined our family on June 18, 2005, but we all felt she was a part of our family longer than that. It’s now her job to keep ZDog in line (which she does quite well!). She is also a college graduate with a few classes toward her PhD. ZDog and J have been married for over five years now.
Little L Little L – What can I say? My granddaughter! ZDog and J’s oldest child. She’s a real cutie. I’m really loving watching her grow up!
Little J1 Little J1 – My first grandson! ZDog and J’s second child. Named after both his grandpas. Right now he is fun to watch, and is always on the move. Watching him grow up is a delight!
Little S Little S – My second granddaughter! ZDog and J’s third child. She is on the move and into everything. Watching her grow up is a delight!
Little J2 Little J2 – My second grandson! ZDog and J’s fourth child. Right now he is fun to watch, but doesn’t do a whole lot. Can’t wait to watch him grow up!
Breezomatic Breezomatic – If ZDog doesn’t kill me,then Breezomatic will. She graduated from community college in 2004. She likes music, drama, elephants and has hopes of owning her own restaurant some day. She, like ZDog, is a constant source of torment for me and KC.
Layla Layla – She is a boxer that we got from the local humane society. She is our one unconditional fan. She’s seven years old but still acts like a puppy with her enthusiasm!