Awesome But Getting Better – A Life Update

Pondering my life on a bench at UK

Pondering my life on a bench at UK

In eleven short days I turn 60.  My how time has flown in this wonderful life of mine.

But I have not had much time to reflect on this.  About a year ago I had set a goal to write 365 things I was grateful for…blessings in my life.  I even created a spreadsheet to try to stay organized.  I didn’t get very far…life throws us for some loops.

Since my last birthday in October 2015, I have been on a roller coast ride with my hands high up in the air enjoying the ride of life.  I have experienced many ups and downs and there have been many things that have taken time out of my “blogging” life.

Teaching Japanese at Berea College in spring 2016

Teaching Japanese at Berea College in spring 2016

In February of this year I had a sudden opportunity to teach Japanese at Berea College in Berea, KY.  It literally fell out of the sky and was a great blessing in many ways. But, by May, it was gone.  It was temporary. But it was fun!

Then, once again, in August I began another teaching gig.  Once again, it may be temporary, but I am teaching Japanese at the University of Kentucky.  It is rewarding in many ways, but also takes a toll on my time. My passions have suffered – little time for blogging, few opportunities to go watch herons at Jacobson Park, fewer chances for photography (an my Nikon camera died as well…so I am stuck with just my iPhone for now)

Japanese Professor at UK

Japanese Professor at UK

lifeiskaizenBut, I am grateful.  I am alive and doing fine.  I am earning money doing something I am passionate about.  I love to teach and I love the Japanese language. I am also getting exercise as I walk daily on campus.  This is good.

Along with the ups and downs, the heavens have opened up other opportunities and I have been blessed to get some traveling in.  Early in the year we had hopes for a big family gathering in Utah…all of the grandkidz and children.  A big roadtrip.  But, things fizzled as schedules and finances and other things threw obstacles in the way.  It was a real downer for me.

My office space at UK

My office space at UK

But God is kind.  He poured out a blessing from heaven with the Japanese teaching position at UK and my heart is full. Our short biking trips with Julianne and Marissa and Julianne’s sister Laura have filled that travel urge.  I am still getting photos.  I am squeezing time in when I can (the gig at UK takes up nearly 40 hours a week with three classes four times a week and 75 students.

In many ways I am finally fulfilling a dream.  I went to college in the 1980s with hopes of teaching.  Now I am finally doing it as I approach 60. Its a blessing.

I can even take my “photo art” concept pics at the school and elsewhere.  Life is awesome, but its getting better!!

In a few days I will hit a milestone.  I am grateful to have made it this far.  I hope I can catch up on my 365 days of Gratitude posts.  I have so many more things to be grateful for and I want to express them. I’ll work on it.

UK Logo...I walk over this daily on my way to class

UK Logo…I walk over this daily on my way to class

I do get chances to get out.  Got these sunflowers east of Lexington

I do get chances to get out. Got these sunflowers east of Lexington

Saw an Egret at Jacobson Lake (actually saw 12 of them!)

Saw an Egret at Jacobson Lake (actually saw 12 of them!)

Played with concept pictures from my iPhone - this is the Kentucky Theater

Played with concept pictures from my iPhone – this is the Kentucky Theater

Staring down a wildcat

Staring down a wildcat

Patterson Hall is where I teach my classes at UK. Saw a nice sky and sunrise the other day

Patterson Hall is where I teach my classes at UK. Saw a nice sky and sunrise the other day

Sunset at Jacobson Lake

Sunset at Jacobson Lake

LIFE IS GOOD

Horse Farm Country

Horse Farm Country

35 Years of Milestones – Julianne and David

Kravetz35SplashI never dreamed that someday I might be part of something bigger than me
It makes me feel humble, finally I see….All that we have is each other
And that’s all that I’ll ever need”  — Joe Walsh, “Family” from his Analog CD

As the week-long celebration of my 35 years with Julianne comes to an end, I would like to close out with a broad-brush overview of our wonderful 35 year journey (thus far!).  Yesterday I posted a video that our daughter Marissa compiled that includes dozens of photos from this 35 year journey.  If you have not yet seen it, here is the link to that post. We are really no different than any other couple with 35 years behind them.  So much can happen.  This is a look back out our journey together.

David and Julianne in Provo, UT February 1979

David and Julianne in Provo, UT February 1979

When I look back on my family’s growth and the milestones achieved over a period of 35 years, I really realize that so much has happened.  It has been an amazing ride so far! Here are a number of highlights from our 35 years (coupled with photos when appropriate):

David and Julianne Wedding Photo July 1979

David and Julianne Wedding Photo July 1979

From 1979 to 2014:

Kravetz Family ca. 1991, taken in Oita, Japan

Kravetz Family ca. 1991, taken in Oita, Japan

Family 2009

Family 2009

Kravetz Family Group photo with grandchildren and some family members

Kravetz Family Group photo with grandchildren and some family members – 2012

We had 5 children

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

A Kravetz four generation photo - Seth, Rockwell, David, Joe - 2012

A Kravetz four generation photo – Seth, Rockwell, David, Joe – 2012

We had 9 grandchildren

3 of our children served LDS (Mormon) Missions

Amaree on her Mission in Japan

Amaree on her Mission in Japan

o Amaree to Nagoya Japan: January 2001 – July 2002

Marissa on her mission in Thailand

Marissa on her mission in Thailand

o Marissa to Bangkok Thailand: September 2002 – February 2004

Seth on his mission in Salt Lake City South area with his companion -- Tall and Short..

Seth on his mission in Salt Lake City South area with his companion — Tall and Short..

o Seth to Salt Lake City South: October 2006 to October 2008

Both of our boys attained Eagle Scout

Seth at his Eagle Court of Honor

Seth at his Eagle Court of Honor

o Seth in March 2005

Solomon at his Eagle Court of Honor

Solomon at his Eagle Court of Honor

o Solomon in June 2007

We have lived in 18 locations (including 2 extended motel stays while looking for housing and 3 extended work-related stays for David)

o An apartment in Provo, UT

Our first rental house in Flagstaff, AZ ca 1980

Our first rental house in Flagstaff, AZ ca 1980

o 2 Houses in Flagstaff, AZ
o Married Student Housing at NAU in Flagstaff
o 2 Houses and an apartment in Mesa, AZ
o 1 Apartment in Tempe, AZ

Apartments in Oita.  We lived on the 5th Floor

Apartments in Oita. We lived on the 5th Floor

o 2 Apartments in Oita, Japan

House in Frankfort, KY

House in Frankfort, KY

o 1 House in Frankfort, KY

House in Nicholasville

House in Nicholasville

o 1 House in Nicholasville, KY

House on Stanford Dr. in Lexington

House on Stanford Dr. in Lexington – notice our old Aerostar Van

Our current home in Lexington, KY

Our current home in Lexington, KY

o 2 Houses in Lexington, KY
o 1 Apartment in Louisville, KY (David only on extended work contract – 8 months)
o 1 Hotel in Woodstock, ON (David only on extended work contract – 4 months)

Apartment in Paris, Ontario

Apartment in Paris, Ontario

o 1 Apartment in Paris, ON (David only on extended work contract – 4 months)
o 1 Hotel in Cebu, Philippines (David only on extended work – 8 weeks)

We had three college graduates (including David)

Graduation with Bachelors from Northern Arizona University - 1984

Graduation with Bachelors from Northern Arizona University – 1984

o David graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Arizona University (History/Geography/Asian Studies) and then a Master’s Degree from Arizona State University (Political Science/Asian Studies)

Amaree graduation from University of Kentucky

Amaree graduation from University of Kentucky

o Amaree graduated from University of Kentucky (Music Education)

Seth graduation from University of Kentucky

Seth graduation from University of Kentucky

o Seth graduated from University of Kentucky (Engineering)

We have traveled to 6 foreign countries (collectively)

Family visiting Usa Shrine in Japan in 1990

Family visiting Usa Shrine in Japan in 1990

David and Julianne in Kyoto with David's father

David and Julianne in Kyoto with David’s father

o Oita, Japan (lived in Oita, Japan for 4 ½ years)
o Seoul, South Korea (both went through and stayed overnight on flights)
o Suzhou, China (David spent two weeks on business)

David at "Screaming Heads" in Berks Falls, Ontario 2008

David at “Screaming Heads” in Berks Falls, Ontario 2008

o Ontario, Canada and Cardston, Alberta, Canada (Julianne visited 2 times and David spent 8 months working in Ontario)

David and Julianne in Tulum, Mexico

David and Julianne in Tulum, Mexico

o Cozumel, Mexico (David and Julianne took a cruise to Cozumel and visited Tulum)

David on a Jeepney in Cebu, Philippines in 2007

David on a Jeepney in Cebu, Philippines in 2007

o Cebu, Philippines (David took two trips and spent a total of 8 weeks in Cebu)

We have traveled all over the United States

Julianne and I, along with our family have been blessed to have traveled all over the United States, from Catalina Island off the coast of California, to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, from the Great Lakes in Michigan and Ohio to the Mississippi Delta in New Orleans.  We have traversed the Rocky Mountains, crossed the southern deserts, visited the southeast in Georgia and been to New York. The family has been to 20 or more National Parks and Monuments over the years, has visited the Statue of Liberty, the St. Louis Arch and Mt. Rushmore.  We visited Hawaii as a family in 1990 and Julianne and I took a cruise to Alaska in 2004. Marissa spent a summer in France and Amaree toured Europe with a choir. Seth and Holly have visited England and Scotland. These experiences have broadened the horizons of all of us! We have since included grandchildren in many of these trips.

Family in Monument Valley 1993

Family in Monument Valley 1993

Visiting Jamestown, Virginia in 1995

Visiting Jamestown, Virginia in 1995

Visiting the St. Louis Arch in 1997

Visiting the St. Louis Arch in 1997 (with Barbara Grandvoinet from France)

Visiting the Museum in Chicago to see the T-Rex 1994

Visiting the Museum in Chicago to see the T-Rex 1996

Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park in 2005

Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park in 2005

Marissa and her daughter Joselyn at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Marissa and her daughter Joselyn at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico in 2011

David and granddaughter Autumn in Rhinelander, Wisconsin 2012

David and granddaughter Autumn in Rhinelander, Wisconsin 2012

Chelsea and Solomon with David's sister Sherry in New York City 1998

Chelsea and Solomon with David’s sister Sherry in New York City 1998

We have celebrated the weddings of four of our children (including 3 daughters’ weddings within a 6 week span in 2005)

All three girls married in 2005

All three girls married in 2005

Dad and three married daughters June 2005

Dad and three married daughters June 2005

Chelsea on her wedding day in May 2005

Chelsea on her wedding day in May 2005

o Chelsea married in May 2005

Amaree and Aaron June 18, 2005 in Cardston, Alberta

Amaree and Aaron June 18, 2005 in Cardston, Alberta

o Amaree married Aaron Matthews in June 2005

Marissa and Adam June 25, 2005 Louisville, KY

Marissa and Adam June 25, 2005 Louisville, KY

o Marissa married Adam Noe in June 2005

Seth and Holly wed in June 2009

Seth and Holly wed in December 2009

o Seth married Holly Walker in December 2009

So much more happened over the years.  We had an exchange student from France, Barbara Grandvoinet, who home-stayed with us for about 6 months and then came back for two other shorter visits. She has gone on to become a documentary film producer and we are so proud of her. We also hosted a well known Japanese sculptor/ceramicist, Yukio Yamamoto (from Himeji, Japan), in the 1980s when he came to Arizona.  He and his wife stayed with us for a few weeks and we were instrumental in assisting Yukio in building an ancient style Tozan kiln at my alma mater Northern Arizona University in 1985 (see article here – they misspelled my name…). Yukio passed away a few years ago.

Yukio Yamamoto and wife with some of Julianne's family at the Falls of the Little Colorado river in Northern Arizona in 1985

Yukio Yamamoto and wife with some of Julianne’s family at the Falls of the Little Colorado river in Northern Arizona in 1985

There is now a shrine to Yukio at NAU.

Yukio Yamamoto shrine and museum at Northern Arizona University

Yukio Yamamoto shrine and museum at Northern Arizona University

Barbara with Solomon and Marissa at New River Gorge, WV in Aug 1995

Barbara with Solomon and Marissa at New River Gorge, WV in Aug 1995

There is so much more that has enriched our lives over these years.  Many of the children participated in commercial video shoots in Japan (and David was in a national TV Commercial).

Chelsea in a Tokiwa Department Store Ad in 1990. Her photo hung all over the store for weeks.

Chelsea in a Tokiwa Department Store Ad in 1990. Her photo hung all over the store for weeks.

Seth in a Fukuoka, Japan Department Store Ad in 1990

Seth in a Fukuoka, Japan Department Store Ad in 1990

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

Indeed, this 35 years has been amazing!  I am looking forward to my 50th in 15 years!!

David and Julianne 1979 in Monument Valley

David and Julianne 1979 in Monument Valley

David and Julianne in Japan 1990

David and Julianne in Japan 1990

David and Julianne at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

David and Julianne at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

Cheering on UK in 2013 NCAA Championship Game

Cheering on UK in 2013 NCAA Championship Game

David and Julianne - 25 wonderful years together

David and Julianne – 35 wonderfully fun and amazing years together

March Madness and Colonel Crazies!

A Colonel Crazy

A Colonel Crazy

March is the time of year for Basketball Tournaments – we all know about the NCAA National Championships – the brackets, the wildness, the March Madness.  But, these trickle down to other levels as well.  And I have been fortunate to be a participant of these at many levels.

Sumoflam at KHSAA Sweet 16

Sumoflam at KHSAA Sweet 16

Last week I worked with my friends at PrepSpin.com to assist in broadcasting the events of the KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) Boys’ Sweet 16 Tournament held in Rupp Arena.  Today, when people around the country hear the term “Sweet 16”, they typically think of the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.  What most people may not know is that the term “Sweet 16” originated in 1918 in Kentucky (and the KHSAA actually holds a trademark on the phrase – they got it in 1988).  The KHSAA has licensed the use of the term to the NCAA as they split along high school and collegiate lines.  The term “March Madness” did not originate with the NCAA either. The Illinois High School Basketball Championship was the first tournament to be called ‘March Madness‘. The term was first used about the Illinois tournament in 1939 (coined by H.V. Porter to capture the spirit of High School Basketball Tournaments), decades before it was used about NCAA basketball tournament.  The IHSA has a nice writeup about Porter and his coining of the term.

Covington Catholic cheering section at Rupp Arena

Covington Catholic cheering section (the Colonel Crazies) at Rupp Arena

Indeed, the basketball tournaments, from High School, to Junior Colleges (see the NJCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournament) to the NCAA are not only known for their great basketball, but for their fan craziness!  These have become big events with mascots, inflatables, half time shows and competitions, etc.

Sumoflam and the National Guard guy at KHSAA Sweet 16

Sumoflam and the National Guard guy at KHSAA Sweet 16

My first real experience with these at any level was back in 1972, while a sophomore at Charles M. Russell High School in Great Falls, Montana.  I was in the Marching Band there (played saxophone) and we ran the concessions for the games.  Because of the nice domed arena the school had (one of the nicest in the country at the time), many of the state tournaments were played there.  I ran the “hot dog steamer” post during these events.  It was always an exciting time.  Even then, the fans were crazy!! (And the Hot Dogs were awesome!)

Hot Dog Steamer

Hot Dog Steamer – Kind of like what was used in the 1970s

My next opportunity to really enjoy March Madness was when I got tickets to attend the BYU vs. Xavier game at Rupp Arena in March 2007. What a game that was (though BYU lost 79-77).  It was an exciting time to be a BYU Fan.

A mock up with my friend Glen Krebs -- March Madness

A mock up with my friend Glen Krebs — March Madness

During my employment at iHigh.com I had the opportunity to work with the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) and managed the initial setup of their NJCAA-TV internet broadcast program.

NJCAA TV

NJCAA TV

The glowing crown jewel for the NJCAA was their Men’s and Women’s National Basketball Championships held in Hutchinson, KS (for the Men) and Salina, KS (for the Women).  As the manager of the NJCAA program at the time, I journeyed to Kansas and oversaw the production of the broadcasts of all Men’s and Women’s games.  This was a lot of work, but it was also loads of fun with all of the activities and excitement.

Practicing the art of Monitoring Broadcasts

Practicing the art of Monitoring Broadcasts

Sumoflam the Broadcaster

Sumoflam the Broadcaster

During my time at iHigh we also broadcast all of the KHSAA tournaments, but I typically stayed at the office to monitor the broadcasts, so I never got in on the excitement.  But this year I did.  The games were all fun, but, it is the “Madness” part of March Madness that I got into….

Getting in on the madness with CovCath cheerleaders (man in black)

Getting in on the madness with CovCath cheerleaders (man in black)

The event started with 16 Teams and ended with 4 last Friday, including Scott County (my good friend Mike Ritchie broadcasts for them and my daughter in law Holly graduated from there), Trinity (from Louisville), Covington Catholic (the Cinderella team) and Bowling Green (also a Cinderella).  The two Final Four games (the official NCAA story is that “Final Four” was coined by a Cleveland Plain Dealer sportswriter, Ed Chay. In a 1975 article for the Official Collegiate Basketball Guide, Chay wrote that Al McGuire’s Marquette squad “was one of the final four” in the previous year’s tournament. Something about the phrase struck a chord with the NCAA’s marketing folks, and they started capitalizing it as “Final Four” in 1978. It is, of course, now trademarked.)

Broadcasting the KHSAA in March 2014

Broadcasting the KHSAA in March 2014

During the 2014 KHSAA Sweet 16 I worked in the bowels of Rupp Arena where I was responsible for the broadcasts of the Post Game interviews through the semifinals.  I also provided live Tweets for VYPE Magazine of Louisville. (I manage the VYPE.com Network websites). Scott County outlasted Trinity and then Covington Catholic came on strong against Bowling Green.  But, the real interest to me was the CovCath Student Cheering Section (affectionately known as the “Colonel Crazies“).  In the first two games they rocked and shook the arena.  I never really got to see them the first two times around, so I decided to head out during the semifinals.  They were all coordinated…dressed in black and their cheering and movements all seemed practiced and choreographed.  CovCath is an all boys school so these guys were rambunctious and fun loving!

Sumoflam and the CovCath Cheering Section

Sumoflam (in his VYPE hat) and the CovCath Colonel Crazies

CovCath Student Cheering Section

CovCath Student Cheering Section – the Colonel Crazies

A "Batman" from CovCath during the seminfinal game

A “Batman” from CovCath during the semifinal game

Colonel Crazies at Rupp Arena

Colonel Crazies at Rupp Arena

Cheering on the Colonels of CovCath

Cheering on the Colonels of CovCath

During halftime the wave went around the arena but when it hit the CovCath boys they had “fast” waves and “slow motion” waves as well.

The following video then shows their Fast Motion waves as well as some real FAN excitement.  This was one of my iPhone videos I uploaded to YouTube.

As well, at halftime, and to the delight of the CovCath boys, Cincinnati restauranteur Jeff Ruby (owner of Luxury Steak House Jeff Ruby’s chain) bought pizza’s for each of the boys in the cheering section pizza (apparently 119 pizzas).

Jeff Ruby watching the CovCath Cheering Squad enjoy pizza at half time

Jeff Ruby watching the CovCath Cheering Squad enjoy pizza at half time

CovCath Cheerleader showing off his halftime pizza (courtesy of Jeff Ruby!)

CovCath Cheerleader showing off his halftime pizza (courtesy of Jeff Ruby!)

At the end the Scott County Cardinals would face off with the Covington Catholic Colonels for the 2014 Kentucky State Championship

Scott County Press Conference after semi-final victory over Trinity

Scott County Press Conference after semi-final victory over Trinity

In the end the Championship game was all is was touted to be.  Scott County took off strong but CovCath fought back and at the end of the clock they were tied and headed to overtime.  CovCath continued their end of the game hot streak by defeating Scott County 59-51 in overtime.  And, as Jeff Ruby noted on his Twitter site, they couldn’t have done it without the support of the Colonel Crazies.

CovCath Colonel Crazies Cheering Squad with avid supporter Jeff Ruby (taken from Jeff Ruby's Twitter site)

CovCath Colonel Crazies Cheering Squad with avid supporter Jeff Ruby (taken from Jeff Ruby’s Twitter site)

Though I was rooting for Scott County, I am happy for the CovCath Colonels.  Having been ranked to finish 5th in their region, they came out on top then came to state as an underdog and proved their worth.  Their determination and hard fought basketball (and their Free Throws!!) won the game for them.

Go UK!

Go UK!

Now to get ready for the NCAA Sweet 16 game when University of Kentucky takes on Louisville….an in-state rivalry playing their game in Indianapolis later this week.  GO CATS!!