Sunday, March 26, 2017

Book Report: When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi

I just finished reading When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi.  The book was published in 1999 and as a life-long Packer fan who also enjoys reading history books, I'm frankly surprised it took me this long to get it read.

Ultimately, a very good read.  I always knew of Lombardi as the highly successful coach of the Green Bay Packers for whom the Superbowl trophy is named after.  Most people are likely familiar with one of Lombardi's most famous sayings:  "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." This was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of the man.  He was a legendary coach with his famous Green Bay Packer sweep play and had multiple hall of fame players.  That pretty much summed up my knowledge of Vince Lombardi.

What this book helped me understand, is that Vince Lombardi was a much more complex person.  His famous phrases were just tidbits of a greater picture that really was focused on being your best.  Regardless of your profession, Lombardi's belief was to get the most of out people and push them beyond their limits to realize greatness.  It wasn't just about winning at football, it was about winning at life.

When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi by [Maraniss, David]

The reader is given insight into Lombardi's childhood and growing up in a large Italian family from New Jersey.  He attended religious schools and played sports along the way.  Discipline was instilled in the young man by Jesuit priests.  I found it valuable to learn about his days at Fordham University and how despite his smaller stature, he was a valuable member of a successful college team.  I never realized he had spent significant time waiting for his opportunity to become a head coach.  He was an assistant at Fordham, West Point and the New York Giants before becoming the Packers head coach.

The author also does a nice job providing insight into Lombardi's beliefs on social issues that were affecting the daily lives of Americans during his career as a coach.  While some teams and parts of the country were not quite ready to welcome diversity, Lombardi was ahead of his time.  He didn't seem concerned about color of skin.  Or even if there were doubts about someone's sexual preference.  He treated people equally and fairly.  He was more concerned about a person's character and work ethic than anything that would resemble prejudice.

I also found it interesting to gain insight into his role as a father, business man and public speaker.  I had already respected Vince Lombardi for his success as a football coach.  But now my respect is stronger and greater as I have a better understanding of what made him so successful.  I believe any coach or "leader" should read this book.  And I would suggest every member of the Green Bay Packers be given a copy when they join the team.  I'm glad I read it in the "better late than never" category.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Plae Bistro Lives Up To The Hype

For several years I have been hearing people talk about how much they like Green Bay's east side restaurant Plae Bistro.  I was excited to finally be able to make it there for dinner Friday night. 

The restaurant is located in a strip mall facility but there isn't any strip mall feel to the interior.  They have done a nice job creating a cozy environment with a modern, upscale circular bar surrounded by booths and tables.  

A number of items on the menu were tempting.  One of my favorite indulgences is having a nice rib-eye and I've been told Plae's rib-eye is very good.  Since I tend to enjoy the steaks I can make at home, I opted for something I wouldn't expect to make at home. 

It was described on the menu as follows: 
+1 Ahi tuna
8oz. +1 (sashimi grade) ahi tuna fresh from Honolulu, HI, grilled RARE, soy ginger grapefruit sauce
To accompany the Ahi tuna, I chose the risotto.  The food was all very good.  Ok, to be honest, it almost looked as if I had licked my plate clean by the time I was done.  The tuna was blackened and cooked nicely.  The exterior was seared while the rare cook allows the tuna to just melt away. The sauce had a great deal of flavor that eventually gave way to an almost spicy barbecue vibe.  The risotto was chicken and mushroom flavored and actually went very well with the tuna.  Again, no shortage of flavor to the risotto. 
The service was solid and the drinks were well made.  The only negative worth mentioning was that our table had seven guests yet we were served only six bread rolls.  The spread and dip for the bread was a nice starter but again it seemed odd to leave us with only six rolls for seven people. 
Their full menu can be found here and I would be happy to go there again.  The atmosphere is first rate (and even has some flat screens in the bar area for sports viewing) and was only outdone by the flavors to be had.   A nice upscale dinning experience with reasonable pricing.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Trip to Little Farmer Orchard - Fond Du Lac WI

With two young boys our house can feel awfully small and time flies by week to week and there you sit w/ another week gone by without finding too many activities for the little guys. Upon the advice of my wife's co-worker, we ventured towards Fond Du Lac to visit Little Farmer Orchard.

It was a nice fall day travelling southbound from Appleton on HWY 55 enjoying the fall colors and view of Lake Winnebago. That alone was just about worth the 45 minute trip enjoying the fantastic foliage Wisconsin has to offer this time of year.

The first thing that impresses about Little Farmer is the size of the operation. While I was expecting to visit a basic Wisconsin farm open to the public, this place had parking attendants directing traffic and hayride tractors going by. Suddenly I knew this was a big operation. I continued to be impressed by observing there was no admission fee to enter the farm.

With all the parking attendants and restrooms I just simply assumed we'd have a modest admission to pay. Access was free and you only paid for activities like a hay ride, the corn maze or food / gift items. It was quite refreshing to visit such a nice location with no admission fee which had access to a unique farm themed playground, animals, orchards and pumpkin patch. Later in the day there was live music and still plenty of traffic arriving at the farm.

While we couldn't stay as long as we would've liked (or were prepared for), we definitely plan to make a return trip knowing now what the atmosphere is like.

Don't take the stroller in the corn maze FYI.

Packing a lunch may be a good idea as its a great location for a family picnic.

 All things considered, a fun family day at low cost that didn't involve TV, movies or video games. Just farm fresh air and outdoor play time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kensington Grille Satisfies

With young children, opportunties to have a nice dinner out with your spouse can be few and far between. 
Therefore, I am typically reluctant to try a new restaurant at the risk of having a less than satisfactory meal during one of these precious evenings. 

That's why I am pleased to share our positive experience while dining at the Kensington Grille in Appleton recently. 

The Kensington Grille on Urbanspoon

I had the grilled ahi tuna over wasabi risotta and it was absolutely delicious.  The waitress was very helpful and knowledgeable about the entrees. 

We also sampled the clam chowder which was delicious as well. 

Overall, my wife and I were very pleased and definitely look forward to going there again.  It provided an atmosphere of fine dining while having reasonable prices and what I considered bigger portions than your typical fine dining experience. 

Here is their website and it happens to be convienently located near a wine bar as well.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Found Some Really Good Hot Dogs

Today I tried this angus beef Oscar Mayer hot dogs.  And let me tell you they were delicious.  If you are looking for a hot dog that is pretty close to those awesome "Lambeau Dogs" at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, then you should try these.  Here is a link to the product page.

So good I had to write about it.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hot Stuff At The Appleton YMCA

Today I took my son to the downtown YMCA in Appleton for his sunfish swimming lessons.

My wife and I decided to register with this particular YMCA because they have a pool for kids that is heated.  They aren't messing around with the heat either. 

At first it seemed nice to step into such a warm pool but it didn't take long for my son and I to overheat.  He is a 2-year old that loves water and ultimately wanted to leave the pool and go home.  As I looked at his beet-red face, I could only conclude that the temperature had gotten to him. 

Then finally as we made our way through a standard Wisconsin snow storm to our car, I started to feel a bit light-headed and my rear view mirror indicated my face was beet-red also. 

Hopefully the YMCA turns it down a notch on the small pool.  I think we'll give it another shot next week but then would have to consider taking our business elsewhere.  Everyone there was very nice, my first trip to this YMCA, but the temperature was simply too much. 

Just a heads up to my fellow parents out there. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fox Valley Blogger Day 1

Welcome to Day 1 of the Fox Valley Blogger. 

I'm just a middle aged man looking to post some thoughts.  I live in an area referred to as the Fox Valley named for the Fox River in Northeast Wisconsin.  Hence the name.

I thought perhaps it may be wise to refer to something more local in the title in the chance I may use this blog to write about things local to my area in addition to other topics.

Who knows how much or little this may get used.  But at any rate, it now exists.

Fox Valley Blogger