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My PhD: Summer 2016

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New Years Eve Fireworks 2016

Braving the elements (21 degrees, but it feels like a balmy 12 at 7pm) I ventured forth to see the neighbors set off fireworks. We ooh and ahh at the lovely display which had been planned since the 5th of July when they are a reasonable 50-75% off.

Happy New Years Eve!

Great Uncle Johnny

My Great Uncle Johnny Briski died this week.

He was my Grandma Kay’s youngest brother. A nice man with a great wife Florence, I remember how they came to my high school graduation party, how they came a few times every year to visit Grandma, and how they loved to go to the casino. My Mom would tell me about their travels with the singing in their polka/church choir and their wins in the casinos on the slot machines. At Grandma’s funeral Florence put $2.00 in change in Grandma’s purse (all those Briski women were obsessed with their purses and so many were buried with them) so that Grandma could play the slots in heaven and having a empty purse is bad luck. So Mom put some quarters in a baggie to put in Johnny’s casket, so that he too can play the slot machines in heaven! Apparently a pack of cards and a carton of cigarettes were also put into his coffin. A wonderful man that will be greatly missed.

Here is the obit from the Cuddie Funeral Homes

“JOHN P. BRISKI, age 82, of Greenwood, WI, died on Tuesday, December 27, 2016  at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield.  Funeral services will be held at 11am on Saturday, December 31, 2016 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in Greenwood, with Fr. Steve Brice officiating.  Visitation will be held at the church, on Saturday, from 9:30am until time of service.  Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery with military rites conducted by the Greenwood American Legion Post 238.  Pallbearers will be his grandsons:  Jeremy, Christopher and Cory Lindgren, Kyle and Tony Briski, and Resse and Tyson Smith.

John Peter Briski was born on May 22, 1934 in the Township of Mead, rural Greenwood, the son of Matt and Katarina (Zagar) Briski.  John was the youngest of fourteen children, seven sons and seven daughters.  As a youngster, he was interested in music and singing.  He played trombone in the high school band and liked all types of music.  His favorite were polkas and waltzes and enjoyed dancing to such.  John in his earlier years, was an assistant projectionist at the Ritz Theatre in Greenwood, and an assistant bookkeeper for Plautz Brothers Construction Co. in Willard, WI.

A 1952 graduate of Greenwood High School, he attended Wisconsin State University of Eau Claire and received a Bachelor of Science degree.  He was united in marriage to the former Florence Przybylski on October 13, 1956 at St. Hedwig’s Catholic Church, in Thorp.  John was drafted in the US Army on June 6, 1957 and received his basic training at Fort Hood, Texas.  A member of the 41st Infantry, he was stationed the majority of the time at Neu Ulm, Germany, whereas, he had the opportunity to attend the World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium.  He made numerous excursions to Italy, including the Vatican, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Austria and numerous other countries, including visiting his maternal and paternal relatives, in which was Communist Yugoslavia, in 1958.  In Croatia, he went to Zagreb, its capital and Delnice, where his parents were born.  He received his honorable discharge as Specialist 4th Class at Fort Sheridan, Illinois on May 20, 1959.  Following his discharge, he and his wife lived in Withee, WI.  He taught 34 years, the majority in the Owen-Withee School District.  John retired from teaching in 1990, and he and Florence moved to Greenwood in 2002, after her retirement from a banking career of 30 years.

He and his wife celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2006 by going on a European trip, which took them to Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany.  A few years later, another trip was taken overseas to enjoy the sights of Italy and its history.  In October of 2016, they celebrated 60 years of marriage with their immediate family.

As a naturalist, John loved nature in its fullest and saw great beauty in the four seasons.  He always looked forward, in great anticipation, to spring, with the arrival of migrating birds.  He enjoyed watching the Milwaukee Brewers and was a devout fan of the Packers.  Another joy was being with his family, 10 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren, and the many parties, games and family picnics.  He also enjoyed putting a polka tape in the car cassette player for the “teenager” to enjoy when borrowing grandpa’s car.  John took pleasure also in traveling through the states, casinos and eating out.  In eating out, the grandchildren, and even the great grandchildren, helped spend the “Red Lobster” certificates that were given as gifts by ordering lobster and crab legs.

He was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Holy Name Society, where he was a greeter, gift bearer, choir member, and helped with the selling of the dinner tickets for the Annual Turkey Meal at St. Mary’s Church.  He was a bass singer with the Holy Rosary Polka Choir of Owen.  In 1996, John and Florence established the “Holy Rosary Bucket Raffle” and continued with it for 7 years until they moved to Greenwood.   Several thousands of dollars were made over the years.

Survivors include his wife, Florence, of Greenwood; daughters:  Debra (Paul) Pernsteiner of Medford,  Michelle (Jeff) Lindgren of Eau Claire,  Barbara (Michael) Smith of Marshfield;  son: Mark (Diane) Briski of Eau Claire;  grandchildren: Jeremy, Jessica, Christopher, Resse, Kyle, Cory, Tyson, Tony, Carmen, and Kelsey;  great grandchildren: Dylan, Madysen and Cayden; one brother: Robert (Taimi) Briski of Greenwood;  one sister: Dolores Lendosky of Greenwood; sisters-in-law: Della Briski of Altoona,  Vivian Briski of Greenwood; nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents;  brothers: Matt Jr., Tony, Frank, Ted and Albert; and sisters: Mary Malnar, Elizabeth Stimac, Julia Vivoda, Rose Malaszuk, Angeline and Kay Gulczinski.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be given in John’s name to St. Mary’s Fund.”


Philanthropy University

Today I received my Certificate in Social Sector Leadership from the Philanthropy University and the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. I have been working on their 7 MOOCs classes since March. Philanthropy University is the “first-of-its kind educational initiative helps people working for social good deepen their impact and change the world” ( The classes were: LEADERSHIP: TEN RULES FOR IMPACT AND MEANING, GLOBAL SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP, ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY: ASSESSMENT TO ACTION, FUNDRAISING: HOW TO CONNECT WITH DONORS, HOW TO SCALE SOCIAL IMPACT, ESSENTIALS OF NONPROFIT STRATEGY, and FINANCIAL MODELING FOR THE SOCIAL SECTOR. All of the classes were very interesting, involving some type of group work, video watching, readings, an assignment, and included individuals from around the globe.







RIP Carrie Fisher

May the Force be with you, Carrie Fisher, always.

(photo from

Sadly Carrie died on December 27th and her mother Debbie Reynolds died the next day on December 28th.

(photo from

A guide to this years Christmas card

A guide to this years Christmas card:

1. My first short story: “The Personal Diary of Mrs. Martha Hudson, Housekeeper to the Famed Detective Sherlock Holmes” published in The Norwegian Explorers 2016 Christmas Annual, No. 15: The Miss Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
2. Back to flying – first time in over a year
3. Visiting the Art Institute of Chicago to see “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” exhibit
4. I’m a trading card!
5. Passed my PhD Comprehensive Exams and received the Department’s challenge coin
6. I’m in a comic book “Watson and Holmes: Volume 2”
7. Passed my PhD Comprehensive Exams and received the Department’s challenge coin
8. Final Project for my MEd “Harvey the Husky: an Adventure Learning Game”
9. Final Project for my MEd “Harvey the Husky: an Adventure Learning Game”
10. Received my Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Learning Technologies

Christmas 2016

Christmas Eve 2016 has come and gone. It happens too fast, but at least its filled with lots of good food, good people, and good gifts.

Happy Festivus!

Happy Festivus!

How did you spend your Festivus? Did you practice the “Airing of Grievances” or the “Feats of Strength”? Have any “Festivus miracles”? Festivus is for the rest of us.

I am an eater, not a cooker or baker. Really, I hate cooking and baking. I hate reading recipes and find the whole process less fun then watching paint dry. But for Christmas this year I decided to I’m cooking beverages (Grandma’s brandy slush) and appetizers for Christmas Eve. Why did I decide to cook? I have no idea. We will see what happens…

Christmas with the kids!

Celebrated Christmas with my favorite niece and nephew and their way cool Mom (she told me to say that) tonight. I received some fantastic Harry Potter socks, some soda with amazing flavors – which includes bacon and one that’s like butterbeer, a soap with caffeine in it, and some yummy holiday treats. Yes, everyone knows of my Harry Potter obsession. I gave the kids their annual autographed book. This year its the beautiful “Vietnamese Children’s Favorite Stories” by Phuoc Thi Minh Tran, who is the first Vietnamese librarian, and from Minnesota. I also got Julian some Doctor Who Legos, Louisa some Shopkins, and they also got a lump of coal (a marshmallow covered in chocolate). Yes, their favorite librarian aunt really does give the best gifts.

A HathiTrust Thank You

One of the projects I have been working on in the library this year has been with the HathiTrust. The HathiTrust “is a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. The mission of HathiTrust is to contribute to research, scholarship, and the common good by collaboratively collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge” ( Basically what I have been doing is reviewing UK books and looking to see when the author died and when the book was published to see if the books is out of copyright and can be put into public domain. Its been a very fun project and I have looked at official reports of the sinking of the Titanic, books by Richard Burton, and lots of odd little books. The project is getting ready to end and they sent out a very nice letter of commendation. I am sure everyone got a letter, but its nice to be thanked.

I was even listed on their website as participating (

Thank you HathiTrust

edX MITx 14.73x: The Challenges of Global Poverty

I recently finished a edX “MITx 14.73x: The Challenges of Global Poverty,” a course of study offered by MITx, an online learning initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through edX, by Esther Duflo and Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee. It was another MOOCs class that I decided to try and overall it was nicely done, so I guess I would say that it falls in the middle (not the best MOOCs, but not the worst MOOCs). It always drives me a bit crazy when you email whoever is suppose to be running the class and they never respond. Why post an email address if you are not going to respond? It did supplemented some of my PhD classes, so that was nice. The class had videos, tests at the end of each week, and even a little final (25 questions) at the end of the class. I passed the class and so I received a Verified Certificate of Achievement which was issued on December 15, 2016.