HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Who Really Was Behind 9/11?

For several days now, i have been deeply depressed by a video that my friend Gary Spaeth sent me the URL to regarding 9/11. But I think it speaks an ugly truth that most Americans are not ready to accept.

If you dare, click on:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6837001821567284154 or paste it into your browser and find out what I did -- that the "9/11 Commission" was just one big white-wash bamboozle.

Many Americans look on people who question their government as "conspiracy nuts", but if you watch the above video, you can't help but see the very evident discrepancies in the report.

The Bush administration needed 9/11 to happen to get on with their agenda. George Bush and Cheney are absolute evil -- something that most Americans will never accept.

It is probably already too late for us as a country. If we elect McCain, it is all over but the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Please -- if you have high speed internet, WATCH THE VIDEO.

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Last week on Bill Maher's HBO Real Time he is quoted as saying that 49 per cent of all Democrats are worried about the environment. 19 per cent of Republicans -- meaning that both parties are lame and lamer.

Now that I think about it, I may be wrong on the 49 per cent figure.

That's all for today. I am way too depressed to continue!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Congratulations Go Out To My Niece Jennifer!

Well! Congratulations are in order to my lovely niece, Jennifer Heagle. I just received the following e mail:

"Hope all is well with everyone - don't know if you have heard, but I passed the state Real Estate exam the end of March and am now a Realtor at Shorewest - don't know if they're known in that part of that state, but are the number 1 Realtor here. I finished up training and just started less than 2 weeks ago and am already working with a couple of buyers. It was a risky career move considering my financial situation at the moment (and the market here isn't as bad as most places, which is great), but out of all the options I laid out on the table for myself, this made the most sense. Weird.... Anyway, I have a web page, if you'd like to take a look: go to shorewest.com, click on "Offices and Agents" (left hand side), enter Heagle in "Agent's last name", click "Find" and my name will come up. Click on my name and you'll see my smiling Heagle face......."


I couldn't be happier for Jenny! She's a great gal and I know she will do well for Shorewest. She is the daughter of my younger brother Anson and his lovely wife, Diana. Diana is a teacher in Waukesha. Anson is a grounds keeper at a golf course near Mukwonago. I love all of them dearly!

_______________________________________________________

I am just back from saying "good bye" to my dear father-in-law, Robert Wilson, who at this hour is lying unconscious in hospice at Methodist Hospital in St Louis Park. Kim was up over the weekend and no sooner got back to school Monday morning when she got a call from her sister that hospital doctors seem to think that Bob would pass sometime today (Monday).

Kim asked that I drive up separately so that she wouldn't have to worry about my state. I would much rather have stayed, but i honor Kim's wishes. She just called about half hour ago to say that he is still hanging in there and that they were leaving for dinner.

Even though he is unconscious, the staff encouraged all of us to speak to him as hearing is the last to shut down. Tough times. The Wilson women, however, are handling it very well, knowing that Bob's life since the stroke of four years ago has been more of a prison than anything else.

I would appreciate it if you would say a prayer for him.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

My Thanks To Mr. Way In Minocqua -- and to the Minocqua Teachers

Want to take a minute to thank Minocqua Middle School Principal Rob way for being such a gracious host yesterday as I performed for his teachers at the spring inservice in the early afternoon, just after student dismissal. he made it very comfortable for me as did the entire staff.

I am afraid my uncertainty, however, stayed with me from my show in Merrill the previous evening. Again, I think it went well, but I didn't quite feel right about it. I guess that's what comes from not working regularly enough. That saying "If you don't use it, you lose it" is also true in my field.

However, the faculty warmed to me instantly -- partly because they knew they were in for a "not so serious" presentation -- and at this time of year, I think all teachers need that kind of break!

I purposely kept the speedometer under 60 mph on the way home in an effort to conserve fuel and I think it does help. Stopped to visit with my friend Gary Spaeth for a moment on my way by. Gary has lost an incredible amount of weight! 120 pounds to be exact! I told him we are going in opposite directions.

Again, I didn't sleep very well last night with all that I have on my mind. I was up at 7 and went into town for my Saturday morning breakfast at Perkins, then back here to bed.

Where did Spring go???? Man! It is nasty out there today!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Mysteries of Life and Death And Between The Two

It is 4:30AM, Friday, April 25 and as usual, when I am on the road, I have had difficulty sleeping most of the night.

Last night's show for the Merrill Optimists went well, although whether it is because I hadn't worked in such a long time, or because the last time I worked was for the Brill Area Sportsmans' Club 50th Anniversary -- a gig that went about as well as any I have ever done as a performer of thirty odd years -- last night's show left me wanting. I just feel I never really got "into the groove".

One of my measuring sticks of how well I did, and this is perhaps a faulty premise, is the number of CD's I sell at a show. At the Brill gig I sold upwards of 15 -- last night I sold three.

I did sense a great deal of true affection from the folks of Merrill. Mayor Doug Williams, it turns out, has been a fan of mine for longer than I care to remember. He is originally from Los Angeles, California, where he did radio, but he has been a Wisconsin transplant long enough to call the Badger State his home.

The other gentlman responsible for getting my services was chief of police Ken Seubert. If the surname rings a bell with you it is because he is uncle to the young man who if not yet, soon, will be touting a Superbowl ring with the NY Giants.

Oh -- meant to tell you -- the Cadillac Escalade had disappeared from the parking lot by the time I got back from showering and dressing for the show, so I guess there was no foul play. At least I hope that is the case. Kathy didn't see who picked up the vehicle.

I am living with a heavy heart this morning. My wife Kim, in our telephone conversation last night, told me that her dad, who had suffered a severe stroke some four years ago and then recently broke his hip badly when he fell out of bed at the nursing home, has been moved to hospice, where he is being kept deeply sedated because of the severe pain.

The doctor has given him two weeks to live.

We have discussed the fact that the condition he has been in since the stroke is no way to live but it doesn't make the feelings that well up inside me any easier.

Then on top of that, today, after she finishes with her kindergartners, Kim will be leaving for the Cities to spend the weekend with her family, and I won't be able to go with her as I have another gig today in Minocqua for the middle school teachers inservice.

Perhaps I will jump in the Scion xB on Saturday morning and drive up separately.

I keep thinking back to how relatively easy both my parents passing was and how unfair it is that Bob, who is only 74, and who before the stroke, was a very vital man, now ends his earthly journey in such a difficult manner.

I want to be certain that Kim knows I am by her side through this as she was for me.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blogging From The Road

This is my first blog from the road. I am ensconsced at the AmericInn, Merrill, Wisconsin, after having set up my gear for a show at the Club 64 wich is located (where else) on Highway 64 south of Merrill itself.

While I was setting up, Kathy, the wife and half owner tells me a blood chilling tale.

As I pulled up, I notice a black Cadillac Escadrille, the only car in the front lot, and I think to myself, "Wow! The owners of this club must be doing well!"

Later while I am setting up Kathy explains that the woman who was driving that car had come into the club to meet some man she met on the internet TWO DAYS AGO and the car has been sitting there, unlocked, with her jacket on the seat, ever since.

Kathy called the police today. She didn't recognize either the man or the woman involved.

Pretty damn frightening.

The Merrill Optimists have sold out the show for tonight! 200 folks. Should be a good time! Tomorrow morning I head for Minocqua and a middle school teachers inservice in the early afternoon.

I will try to write some more about tonight's show when I get back!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Colonoscopy: Getting To The Bottom of the Problem!


As a follow up to having the procedure done (for the second time since I turned 50), I did a little research on the topic and as you an see, even buttheads are getting colonoscopies! I turned to resident expert, Dave Barry for help, and what follows should help you with the difficult decision of should I or shouldn't I. Mr. Barry, if you please -- the floor is yours:


Sunday, April 27, 2003
THE MIAMI HERALD

GETTING THE INSIDE STORY ON HEALTH OF YOUR COLON

BY DAVE BARRY

So there I was, on hands and knees, crawling through a 40-foot long, four-foot-high, human colon.
It wasn't a real colon, of course. No human has a colon that size, except maybe Marlon Brando, and I'm sure he has security people to prevent media access.
No, this was a replica. It's called the Colossal Colon, and I'm not making it up. It was conceived of by a 26-year-old cancer survivor named Molly McMaster as a way to get people to talk about their colons. This is a topic that most people don't even like to THINK about. I sure don't, and I bet you don't. But if you never talk to your doctor about your colon, you might never get screened for colon cancer - the second leading cause of cancer death, though it's preventable - and you could die, and THEN think how you'd feel.
That's the idea behind the Colossal Colon, which is currently traveling around the nation on a 20-city tour (to see if it's coming to your area, check ColossalColon.com). I caught up with the colon in South Beach, a part of Miami Beach known for sophistication and glamour. You can barely swing your arms there without striking an international supermodel, or a Rolling Stone, or, at the bare minimum, a Baldwin brother. I felt that the Colossal Colon fit right in.
The colon was set up inside an air-conditioned tent, along with displays of helpful information, including a list of "DOs" and "DON'Ts" for visitors. Among the DON'Ts were: "DON'T stop for long periods of time inside of the Colossal Colon" and "DON'T horseplay inside of the Colossal Colon." I thought the wisest advice was: "DON'T leave your children unattended."
If you're a parent, there are few experiences more embarrassing than when you report a missing child to the police, and the officer asks you where you last saw little Tiffany, and you have to answer: "She was entering a giant colon."
The Colossal Colon, shaped like huge "C, " is made from plywood and polyurethane foam. It has been sculpted and painted to look very realistic, so much so that I was frankly reluctant to crawl inside. I was worried about how far they carried the realism. I mean, what if you got deep inside there, and you suddenly were confronted, fun-house-style, by some guy wearing a costume depicting an educational colon-dwelling character, such as Tommy Tapeworm, or, God forbid, Fred Food?
Fortunately, this did not happen. But the journey through the Colossal Colon is no walk in the park. You start out at the end labeled "Healthy Colon, " and for a short while it's a pleasant enough crawl. But pretty soon you start running into bad things: first Crohn's disease, then diverticulosis, then polyps, then precancerous polyps, then colon cancer, then advanced colon cancer, and finally - just when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, and start to think you're safe - you find yourself face to face (so to speak) with one of mankind's worst nightmares: Hemorrhoids the size of regulation NFL footballs.
Shaken? You bet I was shaken. It was with weak knees that I emerged from the end of the colon (medical name: "The Geraldo"). There I was asked by a member of the Colossal Colon's entourage (yes, it has an entourage) to sign a pledge promising to consult with my doctor about my colon. I signed the pledge, although to be honest, I did not consult with my doctor. I consulted instead with my friend and longtime medical advisor Gene Weingarten, who is widely acknowledged to be the foremost hypochondriac practicing in America today.
Gene told me that he'd been screened for colon cancer, and that the procedure was not nearly as bad as I imagined. This is good, because I imagined that it involved a large, cruel medical technician named "Horst" and 70,000 feet of chairlift cable. But Gene assured me that it's nothing like that, and that they make you very comfortable (by which I mean "give you drugs"). Gene says they make you so comfortable that you'll be laughing and exchanging "high fives" with Horst (make sure he washes his hands first).
So I'm going to get the screening, darn it. I hope you do, too, assuming you actually get to see this column. I suspect some editors will decide not to print it, because it contains explicit words that some readers may find distasteful, such as "Geraldo." If you're one of those readers, I apologize if I offended you. But remember: I'm writing this because maybe - just maybe - it will save your life.
Ha ha! Not really. I'm writing this because I'm a humor columnist, and there was a giant colon in town.
But get yourself screened anyway.

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However, Mr, Barry -- he did tarry -- read on:

Dave Berry on Colonoscopies

OK. You turned 50. You know you're supposed to get a colonoscopy. But
you haven't. Here are your reasons:

1. You've been busy.

2. You don't have a history of cancer in your family.

3. You haven't noticed any problems.

4. You don't want a doctor to stick a tube 17,000 feet up your butt.

Let's examine these reasons one at a time. No, wait, let's not.
Because you and I both know that the only real reason is No. 4. This
is natural. The idea of having another human, even a medical human,
becoming deeply involved in what is technically known as your
''behindular zone'' gives you the creeping willies. I know this
because I am like you, except worse. I yield to nobody in the field of
being a pathetic weenie medical coward. I become faint and nauseous
during even very minor medical procedures, such as making an
appointment by phone. It's much worse when I come into physical
contact with the medical profession. More than one doctor's office has
a dent in the floor caused by my forehead striking it seconds after I
got a shot. In 1997, when I turned 50, everybody told me I should get
a colonoscopy. I agreed that I definitely should, but not right away.
By following this policy, I reached age 55 without having had a
colonoscopy. Then I did something so pathetic and embarrassing that I
am frankly ashamed to tell you about it. What happened was, a giant
40-foot replica of a human colon came to Miami Beach. Really. It's an
educational exhibit called the Colossal Colon, and it was on a
nationwide tour to promote awareness of colo-rectal cancer. The idea
is, you crawl through the Colossal Colon, and you encounter various
educational items in there, such as polyps, cancer and hemorrhoids the
size of regulation volleyballs, and you go, ''Whoa, I better find out
if I contain any of these things,'' and you get a colonoscopy. If you
are as a professional humor writer, and there is a giant colon within
a 200-mile radius, you are legally obligated to go see it. So I went
to Miami Beach and crawled through the Colossal Colon. I wrote a
column about it, making tasteless colon jokes. But I also urged
everyone to get a colonoscopy. I even, when I emerged from the
Colossal Colon, signed a pledge stating that I would get one. But I
didn't get one. I was a fraud, a hypocrite, a liar. I was practically
a member of Congress. Five more years passed. I turned 60, and I still
hadn't gotten a colonoscopy. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got an
e-mail from my brother Sam, who is 10 years younger than I am, but
more mature. The email was addressed to me and my middle brother,
Phil. It said: "Dear Brothers, I went in for a routine colonoscopy and
got the dreaded diagnosis: cancer. We're told it's early and that
there is a good prognosis that they can get it all out, so, fingers
crossed, knock on wood, and all that. And of course they told me to
tell my siblings to get screened. I imagine you both have.'' Um. Well.
First I called Sam. He was hopeful, but scared. We talked for a while,
and when we hung up, I called my friend Andy Sable, a
gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few
days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the
colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one
point passing briefly through Minneapolis. Then Andy explained the
colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient
manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he
said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, "HE'S GOING TO STICK A
TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BUTT!'' I left Andy's office with some
written instructions, and a prescription for a product called
''MoviPrep,'' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave
oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to
say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America's
enemies. I spent the next several days productively sitting around
being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my
preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any
solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically
water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the
MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter
plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those
unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then
you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because
MoviPrep tastes -- and here I am being kind -- like a mixture of goat
spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a
great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, ''a loose watery
bowel movement may result.'' This is kind of like saying that after
you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.
MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here,
but: Have you ever seen a space shuttle launch? This is pretty much
the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when
you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty
much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate
everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you
have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I
can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating
food that you have not even eaten yet. After an action-packed evening,
I finally got to sleep. The next morning my wife drove me to the
clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the
procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of
MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, ''What if I spurt on Andy?'' How do
you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not
be enough. At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I
understood and totally agreed with whatever the hell the forms said.
Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I
went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put
on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the
kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than
when you are actually naked. Then a nurse named Eddie put a little
needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but
Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me
that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked
off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would
happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so
you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no
choice but to burn your house. When everything was ready, Eddie
wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a
nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but
I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously
nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the
anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.
There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was
Dancing Queen by Abba. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that
could be playing during this particular procedure, Dancing Queen has
to be the least appropriate. ''You want me to turn it up?'' said Andy,
from somewhere behind me. ''Ha ha,'' I said. And then it was time, the
moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are
squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in
explicit detail, exactly what it was like. I have no idea. Really. I
slept through it. One moment, Abba was shrieking "Dancing Queen! Feel
the beat from the tambourine . . .'' . . . and the next moment, I was
back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was
looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt
even more excellent when Andy told me that it was all over, and that
my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of
an internal organ. But my point is this: In addition to being a
pathetic medical weenie, I was a complete moron. For more than a
decade I avoided getting a procedure that was, essentially, nothing.
There was no pain and, except for the MoviPrep, no discomfort. I was
risking my life for nothing. If my brother Sam had been as stupid as I
was -- if, when he turned 50, he had ignored all the medical advice
and avoided getting screened -- he still would have had cancer. He
just wouldn't have known. And by the time he did know -- by the time
he felt symptoms -- his situation would have been much, much more
serious. But because he was a grown-up, the doctors caught the cancer
early, and they operated and took it out. Sam is now recovering and
eating what he describes as ''really, really boring food.'' His
prognosis is good, and everybody is optimistic, fingers crossed, knock
on wood, and all that. Which brings us to you, Mr. or Mrs. or Miss or
Ms. Over-50-And-Hasn't-Had-a-Colonoscopy. Here's the deal: You either
have colo-rectal cancer, or you don't. If you do, a colonoscopy will
enable doctors to find it and do something about it. And if you don't
have cancer, believe me, it's very reassuring to know you don't. There
is no sane reason for you not to have it done. I am so eager for you
to do this that I am going to induce you with an Exclusive Limited
Time Offer. If you, after reading this, get a colonoscopy, let me know
by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to Dave Barry Colonoscopy
Inducement, The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132. I will
send you back a certificate, signed by me and suitable for framing if
you don't mind framing a cheesy certificate, stating that you are a
grown-up who got a colonoscopy. Accompanying this certificate will be
a square of limited-edition custom-printed toilet paper with an image
of Miss Paris Hilton on it. You may frame this also, or use it in
whatever other way you deem fit. But even if you don't want this
inducement, please get a colonoscopy. If I can do it, you can do it.
Don't put it off. Just do it. Be sure to stress that you want the
non-Abba version.

______________________________________________________________

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Not Three Times -- Not even Four -- Would You Believe Five?

I have kept it bottled up inside long enough and now it's time to VENT! A little over a year after going through all kinds of unadulterated bullshit with Directv (which I covered in various blogs) we are presently going through a like hell with Hitachi Corporation.

We bought a Hitachi flat screen television set last April -- mostly because the Hitachi projection set we had before that was a great set. We had absolutely no trouble with it.

The new flat screen is a lemon and was from the word go. I will keep this short and to the point. Over the past year, we have had FOUR service calls on the set, mostly for the same problem. The inputs for playing DVD's and videos never did work properly.

After the third service call we talked to Hitachi and told them that according to the mythical "lemon law", after three strikes, you are out and that they owed us a new set.

No Hitachi said. They would send all new parts (engineering supposedly had cured all problems). The woman I spoke with promised me that if after they put the new parts in we still had trouble she would guarantee that they would provide us with a new set.

The new parts, it turns out, were not new, but "refurbished" -- and after being installed -- THEY DIDN'T WORK EITHER. So last Friday, the repairman loaded up the set and took it away to work on in his shop.

Today (Tuesday) we found ourselves still without a set. I called the repairman and he told me that Hitachi was sending yet another batch of "new" parts. And that's when I lost it.

I called their not so public relations department and we had words. finally I said the words "law suit" -- I think that may have gotten her attention, at last.

"That is not necessary", she said. I told her that it seemed to be.

So the latest is that they are finally going to replace the set -- something I will believe when I see it. I will tell you this. If this drags on for another week, I will contact my attorney friend Stan Johnson and we will not only sue for the replacement of the television set but for a whole lot more!

So dear reader -- here is a bit of advice. If you are considering a new television set, DO NOT BUY A HITACHI. They do not care about their customers.

Quest For "Pete Rozell" Model Pays Off In Dividends!



for several months now I have been combing the eBay listings trying to find an official Wilson "Pete Rozell" NFL game ball. (I had one at one time, and lost it somehow in our move to the country.

To get one in good condition, you had better to be ready to shell out at least $135.00. As I recall, mine cost me around $65 brand new, back in the day.

Yesterday patience paid off! I found the ball pictured and bought it at a phenomenally good price -- especially since not only is it a Rozell model, but it is also autographed by the King of the Dallas Cowboys himself, Tom Landry, a coach for whom I have the greatest respect and the inventor of the 4-3 defense while he was defensive coordinator for the NY Giants in the late 1950's.

I bought it from a gentleman whose description of the ball follows:

"This TOM LANDRY AUTOGRAPHED FOOTBALL BY WILSON is in excellent condition . It is a regulation size football that is entirely the normal football color of brown/red. On the main panel it says: “ Wilson” and then on the left side in black cursive writing it says: “Official” and in the middle there is the NFL logo outlined in black and lastly on the right side is a facsimile signature of the NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle . The next panel has “TOM LANDRY’S” autograph in black pen. It says: TO DARREN BACKUS BEST WISHES ” TOM LANDRY”.THIS BALL WAS SIGNED FOR ME AT ZALES IN 1988 WHEN I BOUGHT A ROLEX THERE HE WAS PROMOTING."

Darren worked pumping gas for his father in a neighborhood where a lot of the 1960's era Cowboys lived, so he met a lot of the players through his work as a boy.

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Questionable Analogies

Things that make you say "Hmm..."
The wheel of love had left its tread marks in his chest once too often, like a knobby mud tire on a monster truck, or like a really big ponce wheel, the kind that tailors use to punch little holes in patterns and that would leave lots of nasty little welts if you were to run it up and down your arm. (Peter Loughlin)

I saw her sitting at the bar. I approached. "Hello," she said in a voice so husky it could pull a dogsled. (Dan Yell)

Mitzi's wet T-shirt clung to her torso like paint on the nose cone of a jumbo jet. (James Macdonald)

Captain Burton stood at the bow of his massive sailing ship, his weathered face resembling improperly cured leather that wouldn't even be used to make a coat or something. (Bryan Semrow)

The sun rose over the horizon like a great big radioactive baby's head with a bad sunburn, but then again it might just have been that Lisa was always cranky this early in the morning. (Debra Allen)

Jane was toast, and not the light buttery kind, nay, she was the kind that's been charred and blackened in the bottom of the toaster and has to be thrown away because no matter how much of the burnt part you scrape off with a knife, there's always more blackened toast beneath, the kind that not even starving birds in winter will eat, that kind of toast. (Beth Knutson)

As Fiona slowly drew the heavy velvet curtain aside, her eyes smoldered black, deep, and dark as inside the lungs of a coal miner, although it would be black in anyone's lungs if you could get in there because there wouldn't be any light, even in the pink ones of people who don't smoke. (Lou A. Waller)

Having O.J. try on the bloody glove was a stroke of genius unseen since the debut of Goober on "Mayberry R.F.D". (John Kammer)

Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony)

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and "Jeopardy" comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30. (Roy Ashley)

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze. (Chuck Smith)

Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center. (Russell Beland)

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth (Paul Kocak)

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree. (Jack Bross)

Just like (or as) a bicycle rider lifts his butt from the seat when he sees a bump coming, so Bob pulled back, emotionally, when Alice got angry. (Jim Caughran)

She danced with the grace and elegance of a pregnant cow. (Patricia Kilday)

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease. (Gary F. Hevel)

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't. (Russell Beland)

After sending in my entries for the Style Invitational, I feel relieved and apprehensive, like a little boy who has just wet his bed. (Wayne Goode)

Her date was pleasant enough, but she knew that if her life was a movie this guy would be buried in the credits as something like "Second Tall Man." (Russell Beland)

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph. (Jennifer Hart)

The moon looked like a discarded toenail clipping submersed in a puddle of saliva on a black formica countertop. (Lindsay Robertson)

She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again. (Rich Murphy)

The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can. (Wayne Goode)

We are all like those little pink and blue plastic people in the game of Life. (Meghann Olson)

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. (Russell Beland)

The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play. (Barbara Fetherolf)

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free (Chuck Smith)

The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon. (Jennifer Frank and Jimmy Pontzer)

She was sending me more mixed signals than a dyslexic third-base coach. (Jack Bross)

She felt used and unwanted, like the two chocolate halves of an Oreo cookie after someone has already licked the cream out of them. (Kristi Herd)

My underwear stuck to my backside like an All-Pro cornerback to a rookie wide receiver as I browsed through the seed catalog that had mistakenly found its way into my mailbox. (Ron Calabrese)

Chicken: it's like a cow, but different. (Ben Olson)

His fountain pen was so expensive it looked as if someone had grabbed the pope, turned him upside down and started writing with the tip of his big pointy hat. (Jeffrey Carl)

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Football Helmet Refurbishing Days Officially Over

Behold! Take a good look! This is the last helmet that I have put together by bidding on helmets over the internet and then fixing them up to look the way I want them. I figured I would get out while I am "flying high". I found this Rawlings helmet with absolutely no game use. only a few "rub-scratches" incurred in shelf life.
I had been saving the white line backer face mask for just such a helmet-- the Chief logos as well. This one stays in my private collection.

And like I say -- it is the last one I am buying on line. My big plan of buying up used helmets, refurbishing them as NFL helmets and re-selling them on line just hasn't panned out.

I was talking to my TV repair man the other day. He was regaling me with stories of a television program he had seen on public television. There's a guy who has made thousands of dollars on eBay because he had the right product! Viagra that he bought in Mexico and then sold online.

Why didn't I think of that?

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There's Something Rotten In The State of the BOE - EC

Yesterday's Eau Claire Leader-Telegram's lead story, page one. Headline: "Memo Skirted Board".

Former Eau Claire school board president Carol Olson signed and backdated a document at former Superintendent Bill Klaus' request that would have provided Klaus with a portion of his retirement payments before he was eligible to receive them. On February 5, 2007, the school board approved changes to Klaus' contract allowing him to become Northstar Middle School principal, but several board members who voted on the agreement said issuing the stipend to Klaus before age 55 and his retirement wasn't part of the deal.

Just before his move from superintendent to Northstar Middle School principal in July, Klaus, 53, asked Olson to sign a document stipulating he begin receiving those payments - totaling about $45,000 annually for five years - starting August 1.

The document signed by Olson was dated February 5, the same date the board approved Klaus' contract changes allowing him to become a middle school principal.

However, Klaus and Olson admitted the document WAS PLACED IN KLAUS' PERSONNEL FILE SOMETIME IN JUNE OR JULY AND BACKDATED, MAKING IT APPEAR AS IF IT WAS PART OF THE ORIGINAL AGREEMENT.

This was reported in a blog recently -- which prompted Klaus to threaten to sue.

It wasn't until the Leader-Telegram obtained the original document after filling out an "open records" request seeking information that this came to light.

Several board members said they were unaware of the document signed by Olson until it surfaced in October amid questions by the Leader-Telegram and district educators.

Board members said they were stunned when they discovered the documents signed by Olson had been made a part of the agreement without their knowledge. Several questioned why Klaus sought Olson to sign the document WHEN SHE HAD BEEN OFF THE BOARD FOR AT LEAST TWO MONTHS.

District Personnel Director Jim Kling said granting Klaus or any other administrator stipend payments before retirement is "highly unusual" -- Highly unusual??? How about downright illegal???

Klaus and Olson, of course, state that "they did not intend to circumvent terms of Klaus' contract." Instead, Klaus said their actions were a result of a misunderstanding about when he was to begin receiving stipend payments.

If this were true, why the subterfuge? Why is it that administrators of every ilk think they can treat us like mushrooms - keep us in the dark and feed us bull shit?

Klaus sunk himself deeper in the quick sand by saying: "In hindsight, we probably should have handled this differently. But the intent was not to do something illegal or secretive."

Again -- why the subterfuge and secretiveness?

And who does this remind you of???? This whole thing smells to high heaven of our present federal government administration's total disregard for the law.

So here's the ugly truth -- except for a few good souls, the Eau Claire Board of Education is another example of "Good- Ol'-Boy-ism".

The school board president himself fought to delay the release of the above.

And what will become of all this? Probably nothing. Business as usual.

Here is a part of the blog that got Klaus "steamed":

Folks,

The BAD NEWS:
The timing of the information I just posted on the blog (http://eauclaireschoolsmatter.blogspot.com/) is not good, but the BOE has only itself to blame for delaying the release of documents for MONTHS in hopes that President O'Brien could do The Big Skedaddle before any of this was made public.

The GOOD NEWS:
The recent posting has NOTHING to do with SEX.

The BOTTOM LINE:
Former Superintendent Klaus and Former BOE President Olson collaborated and created a document in the summer of 2007 that was intended to allow Dr. Klaus to collect his early retirement stipend while he was still working as a Principal. This document was backdated to Feb. 5, 2007 to agree with the dates on his legitimate contract. The document was inserted into Dr. Klaus' personnel file and then was used by him to try to increase his compensation. During the Fall of 2007 the current BOE members became aware of this attempt to falsify Board action and manipulate Dr. Klaus' compensation. It appears that NO DISCIPLINARY action was taken as Dr. Klaus is clearly still employed by the ECASD in a position of trust and high remuneration as a Principal. No legal action appears to have been taken against former BOE President Olson who created, backdated and signed a document that falsified action of elected officials.

Here's Maria's blog, in full: (well worth reading!):

They're Baaaaaaack!!!
The following post is LONG and goes back to events of several months ago only because definitive information verifying the "rumors" has been unavailable until recently. I believed that it was important enough to wait until the proper documents were available and reviewed before putting information into the public domain. Sadly, what was "rumored" was fully supported by actual documents recently received.

The BOTTOM LINE:

Former Superintendent Klaus and Former BOE President Olson collaborated and created a document in the summer of 2007 that was intended to allow Dr. Klaus to collect his early retirement stipend while he was still working as a Principal. This document was backdated to Feb. 5, 2007 to agree with the dates on his legitimate contract. The document was inserted into Dr. Klaus' personnel file and then was used by him to try to increase his compensation. During the Fall of 2007 the current BOE members became aware of this attempt to falsify Board action and manipulate Dr. Klaus' compensation. It appears that NO DISCIPLINARY action was taken as Dr. Klaus is clearly still employed by the ECASD in a position of trust and high remuneration as a Principal. No legal action appears to have been taken against former BOE President Olson who created, backdated and signed a document that falsified action of elected officials.

Accountability has flown the coop. Transparency is a pipe dream. Honesty is not part of the Core Values of the ECASD.


Just when we thought that Former Superintendent Bill Klaus and Former BOE President Carol Olson had done enough damage to our district and that they had "moved on", I heard rumors from community members in November 2007 (yup, 5 months ago) that they were doing some really naughty things! When I first heard this story I was absolutely flabbergasted as it sounded truly beyond belief. Again, even though my harshest criticism of our former leadership would include words like "incompetent" and "arrogant" I have NEVER believed that Klaus or Olson were downright greedy, unethical and, guilty of illegal acts. I was wrong.

Anyway, the short version of the story I heard in November was the following:

1. That former Supt. Klaus was expecting some form of "stipend" ($2,000/month) that he had in his position as Supt. to be continued in his position as a Principal which he started in July 2007.
2. That in July he spoke with former BOE Pres., Carol Olson, who apparently agreed that he was entitled to this compensation.
3. That in July 2007, after her tenure with the BOE was fully completed she signed and backdated some documents that would allow this stipend payment to continue.

Since this "news" seemed to be well circulated in the public I contacted Dr. Leary, Mr. VandeWater and Mr. Kling who would know about any such agreements or payments. I asked them to please "clarify this and put to rest this rumor as being NOT TRUE so we can get staff and citizens back to the business of focusing on the business of our district and with students." The silence was deafening. No response at all.

A few days later I received a phone call at my home with an ECASD "caller ID". I no longer have school age children at home so this was a little unusual. I answered the phone and the caller said: " Maria, this is Bill Klaus. I just got a phone call from a local attorney offering to defend me in a lawsuit against you." I asked him why he would sue me and he said that the attorney had just read him an e-mail from me. Hmmm....

The BOE was informed of this event on the day it happened (Dec. 3, 2007). On Dec. 6th I wrote another e-mail to follow-up with Dr. Leary, Mr. VandeWater and Mr. Kling that contained the following:

How does an e-mail from a citizen asking about serious legal and ethical questions regarding a current ECASD employee and the former Pres. of the BOE result in a not-so-thinly-veiled threat of legal action against the person asking the question?

In our telephone conversation Dr. Klaus did confirm that a document regarding his compensation was prepared in July/Aug. 2007 and signed by Former BOE Pres. Carol Olson (a timeframe when she had absolutely no legal authority for such action). He further stated that the date she signed on the document was Feb. 2007 which was a time that she was Pres. of the ECASD BOE.

Clearly, the actions of Dr. Klaus and Ms. Olson will be viewed by the public as an abuse of their former leadership positions in the ECASD. Any further erosion of public trust in the ECASD would be terribly destructive. However the response by the current leadership of the ECASD and the BOE has the potential to demonstrate to our community an absolute commitment to the expectation of honesty, fairness and transparency. (I ask you to consider the theoretical response of the leadership of the ECASD Administration and BOE to discovering that a teacher attempted to manipulate/increase their compensation in actions similar to those of Dr. Klaus and Ms. Olson.)

I think that it is clear that the seriousness of this has elevated and deserves a response. I respectfully ask the following:

1. Who else received a copy of the e-mail I sent to you?
2. Were any other ECASD employees involved in this incident?
3. Since these actions are now the subject of growing public discussion and dismay, what is the response to our community by the ECASD leadership and BOE?

I can assure you that I am completely committed to looking to the future of our district. Because of that, I think that it is crucial that leadership errors from the past be dealt with in a timely, fair and transparent manner.

Both Dr. Leary and Mr. VandeWater lateralled the ball to Mr. Kling who never responded at all.

Shortly after this my father died and I was out of town and busy with family and the Holidays and I did not do any additional follow up until January 2008. At this point I was aware that the LT and others were asking for copies of documents related to Dr. Klaus' compensation but they were all being stonewalled by the ECASD Administration and BOE leadership (Pres. O'Brien to be precise). Multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were filed with the district with no response or additional delays. Attorneys here in Eau Claire as well as Madison were consulted and the taxpayers of EC will be paying for all this needless legal wrangling and avoidance of just telling the truth.

Here is another instance of where Conflict of Interest is harmful to good decision-making: Pres. O'Brien's employer, the Weld Riley law firm, is also the legal counsel for the ECASD. When a legal sticky wicket like this shows up the complications of obtaining an INDEPENDENT legal opinion about possible unethical/illegal activity involving persons who have worked for years together (Klaus, Olson and the Weld, Riley attorneys) is completely compromised.

FINALLY on the Friday afternoon before Spring Break word was that the documents were available to review at the ECASD Main Office. I have no doubt that all of this delay was due to Mr. O'Brien's desire to avoid having to actually make a few tough decisions during his tenure as President of the BOE that might involve some legal unpleasantness with Mr. Klaus and Ms. Olson, his former BOE buddy. I have repeatedly indicated that one of the past leadership failings of the BOE has been the inappropriate chumminess with ECASD Administration that has left them without the proper independence in decision-making.

Anyway, we have the documents. I am too much a technological lame brain to be able to post them on the blog. I am consulting some technological whiz kids who might be able to get them posted here so the rest of you can see the sad truth. For now we just need to keep hoping that we will keep making progress in other ways and the lousy leadership of the past will not insert themselves into the present anymore!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Selling On eBay Not Nearly As Much Fun As Buying

I guess I should read the eBay seller's tutorials before I start dabbling in selling stuff on eBay. This past week I put a Schutt helmet up for sale.

On the advice of eBay, I started the price low, at $.99. But first I should tell you that the helmet cost me $40 some dollars to purchase off eBay. then I spent another $5.00 painting it in NY Giant blue, and another $40 in buying the correct NFL helmet decals for it. So add it up.

Yesterday it sold for $9.99. I guess you might say I lost my ass! I immediately went into my the other items for sale and changed my opening price from .99 to 49.99 -- I am not running a charity here!

so this morning, I get an e mail from Mr Irate in Florida which reads:

"this helmet was .99 cents today (I think he meant yesterday) and now it is 49.99, what gives, what kind of auction are you running here.why did you change the price, that is not the way to do business, I hope all others see this and are outraged too."

To which I replied: " I am new to selling items on eBay and after spending over $100 in preparation to sell a similar helmet, it sold for $9.99. So you are not the only one who is irate. Forgive me for my ignornace."

Well, Mr Irate is not in a forgiving mood as witnessed from his reply to that e mail:

"This is why it is called an auction, you have plenty of feedback so you must know how auctions work, why would you ever think you will get great money on this site, people are always looking for deals, so please start all your auctions for what you will be happy with in the future, anyway good luck selling in the future but I will no longer be interested in any of your auctions for I would be affraid you will change your mind and change the price."

As you can understand, I didn't feel this message needed an answer. And I am certain to be losing lots of sleep because he will no longer be interested in any of my auctions. OUCH!

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On a lighter note, Kim received the following e mail from Stephanie St. Germaine:

"Hi! how are things? I miss you. I was getting ready for work this morning listening to the Rhinelander Hodag radio and they played this crazy song about wood ticks. I was thinking it sounded familiar and the voice sounded a little familiar. The song got over and the DJ said that was Larry Heagle with the Wood tick song. I couldn't believe it. Anyways, got to get back to work! Hope everything is going well for you.
Stephanie

A much needed lift! Good to know that spring is here and the song has returned to the airwaves. I was down to the Eau Claire Bicycle Shop on Water Street recently -- in search of bicycle shipping crates which work really well in the shipment of guitars -- and the owner brought up my "favorite" subject -- Brad Paisley's obvious rip off of The Wood Tick Song.

Unfortunately, he doesn't use enough exact phrasing from my song to be sued -- just stole the whole idea. And ideas, unfortunately, are not protected by law.

It's the same old story with me. Back in the day it was the "Turtles" commercial for Leinenkugel's Beer -- the idea has been used over and over again on t shirts and billboard advertising and I see nary a penny. but then who said life is fair, eh?

Just don't be buying anything from me on Ebay because you never know when I will up my price as I am a real unscrupulous bastard. Ask anybody that really knows me!

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And this one just in from the Wisconsin Department of Fishing and Hunting Harrassment:

NEVER ARGUE WITH A WOMAN

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.

Along comes Game Warden T. J. Ebbers in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, "Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?"

"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking, "Isn't that obvious?")

"You're in a restricted fishing area," he informs her

"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading"

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."
"For reading a book?" she replies,

"You're in a restricted fishing area," he informs her again,

"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading"

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.

"But I haven't even touched you," says the T.J.

"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."

"You're a ball bustin' bitch!" he says, and he left.


MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

eBay Connects Me With Other Parts of The United States

One of the truly astounding features of the internet is how it can draw us together through common interests, common goals, even common beliefs. As those of you who read this blog often know, it was my first time using this internet selling service, and in general I am very pleased with the way that it went.
I have to admit that during the days that the guitar was enroute to Rochester, New York, I was doing a lot of nail biting for fear that United Parcel Service would not have followed my instructions to "top load" it and to mark it fragile and treat it that way.

Now, here's the really cool part of the whole deal! I asked the buyer to let me know when he received the guitar and to assure me that it arrived in good shape. He did so and in our correspondence it became apparent that we have some things in common. He has the same love of guitars that I do, for one.

I was very pleased when he sent me these photographs of his arch top guitar collection and his guitar work shop. so I asked his permission to share them with you.

So now I am looking forward to selling more goods through eBay and I hope that those I come in contact with have as much class as Carl Cavuoto of Rochester, New York has! Thanks, Carl, for sharing photos of your work shop, your fine guitar restoration work, and I loved the photo of Frankie (the dog) that was also included in the shots!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Great Birthday - Thanks To Great People



Here is a photograph of my very first completed sale on eBay. It's a 1950's Harmony arch top guitar that I put up for sale with a "buy it now" option on April 10, 2008. Talk about beginner's luck! One half hour later, it sold to Carl Cavuoto of Rochester, New York, who, it turns out, collects this very model of Harmony guitars -- he has six! And he told me that he is very pleased and satisfied -- that this one is "by far the best" of his collection.

So I am in a celebratory mood today! and looking for other things I can sell! However, I am thinking I want to start selling things that aren't so bulky. It's difficult to find card board boxes big enough and strong enough to accommodate a guitar and case. that's why I am hoping that the re-furbished football helmets I am offering will sell as they will be much easier to ship.

This morning I called Riddell, the famous football helmet manufacturer, and ordered two large yellow helmets which I am going to make into Green Bay Packer helmets for my own private collection. I already have one made up as a "Brett Favre" helmet and the two that I have ordered will become a Ray Nitschke and a Bart Starr.

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I had an absolutely wonderful birthday yesterday. The sun actually came out and the temperatures got above 60 degrees. My good friend Judy Willink bought me breakfast at 7 AM, then I met with my manager Liz Fischer and her friend Sharon Lowry for lunch.

Liz presented me with her "old" HP computer tower for my birthday -- as she knew I wanted it to use just as a game computer. I spent the afternoon getting it hooked up to a brand new 19 inch Samsung wide screen monitor and then plugged in my Microsoft WWII Europe Series Combat Flight Simulator that was given to me back in September when I helped my pal "Blinky" move back from New York -- and shot down Nazi pilots the rest of the afternoon!

I shot so many down, in fact, that today I have a very sore right fore arm -- working on a case of carpal tunnel.

I used to have that game for years, but gave it away to a young friend of mine that I really admire.
I crashed and got shot down a lot!

Finished my birthday up with pizza at Sammy's with Kim -- sausage and mushroom --my favorite! Kimmy showered me with wonderful birthday cards all day. And I want to thank all the kind friends who sent me greetings by mail. I guess there is an advantage to having your birthday fall on tax day. everybody remembers it more easily!

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Kim sent me the following and I think it deserves sharing:


As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that
wasn't supposed to ever let you down probably will. You
will have your heart broken probably more than once and
it's harder every time. You'll break hearts too, so
remember how it felt when yours was broken. You'll fight
with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things
an old one did. You'll cry because time is passing too fast,
and you'll eventually lose someone you love. So take too
many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you've never
been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset
is a minute of happiness you'll never get back. Don't be
afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.


And to that, I say AMEN!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Panther, Packer Helmets Honor Shanty Boy's First Trip To Lambeau

I spent most of the day finishing up on the Carolina Panthers helmet that I had intended to have done before my good friend Jay Moore's birthday. I failed miserably. However, if he still would like to have it, he should drop me an e mail saying so -- because I really did "build" it just for him in honor of the glorious weekend we had together along with our pal "Blinky" Johnson in Titletown.

Highlights of the trip included stumbling on a really good Greek restaurant in down town Appleton the night before the game, being rousted from our beds with a false alarm complete with fire trucks, a sunshiny day at Lambeau with a solid Packer victory. Little did we know that we were watching Brett Favre for the last time in our experience, which makes me all the happier that I insisted that Jay be my guest for the trip. Life it too short!

I was showing Kim some of the helmet "projects" I have completed over the last months. she thinks I should "take custom orders" from people and produce exact helmets that they want.

So today, I went online and did a little base pricing on supplies to put together helmets. I think rather than bid on helmets on eBay I would start buying Riddell VSR2Y helmets new and go from there. I figure that I could produce a custom helmet for any player or any team for around $175.00, which probably is cost prohibitive.

If you take a look at the Packer helmet in the photo with this blog, that is a used Riddell VSR2Y that I bought on eBay for $60 plus shipping. You can't see, but there are some dings here and there on the helmet as it was used in high school play for one season and most likely by a kicker.

But a helmet that clean is very difficult to come across online and they usually cost more than that. I bought this one because the seller gave me a "buy it now" choice, and since it was Packer yellow, I grabbed it!

Anyway, if anybody out there wants me to make them a special order college or National Football League helmet, contact me and let's talk! I really do enjoy working on these things!

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Yipes! It's nearly 5PM and I haven't even cleaned up yet! Guess that's it for today!

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Welcome eBay, Goodbye Surplus From Office


How long has the winter really been? I've done something I never have done before -- went through 6 face cords of firewood and the last two days it's been forage, forage, forage. You know you are getting desperate when you hope for a goodly over night wind so that you can gather up dead branches to act as a basis for getting a fire going.

Luckily, a couple of summers ago, a tree went down near the house and my "handy" guy came out and cut it up and stacked it along the garage. I am now going through that stack!

In an effort to keep up with incoming bills and the high prices of everything -- have you grocery shopped lately? -- I have begun venturing into the world of selling on eBay, and wouldn't you know -- instant beginners luck on the first item I posted -- the guitar pictured sold about a half an hour after I posted! I shipped it out to Rochester, New York this past Friday. Truthfully, I am nervously chewing my nails and hoping that it arrives in one piece since it's the first time I have packed a guitar for a long ride.

I know I lost some money on it, but that's the way it goes, I guess. The wood is really beautiful but the guitar has some problems including the need for a total neck reset and hopefully that would rid it of the buzzing at the 8th fret. I hope that it goes to good care and into the hands of an accomplished jazz musician some day.

I am starting to sell some of the football helmet projects I worked on over the winter as well. As to be expected, the more of them I turn out, the better I get at doing it -- and the more I can charge in selling them. There are some that I will never part with. I have a "Brett" Packer helmet, a Washington Redskins suspension helmet with the darker burgundy and spear logos, and a Dan Marino Dolphins helmet that is probably the best so far. These I will put on display here!

I am currently getting ready to do a Carolina Panthers, a Pittsburgh Steelers, (I have the helmets and decals on hand) and I have a really "tits" unscathed red Rawlings helmet coming in later in the month that will be a Kansas City Chiefs.

I have pretty much decided that the Carolina Panthers helmet will go to Shanty Boy, Jay Moore, the Carolina Swamp monkey, as a token of my esteem. Think he will wear it on the air?

If there is anybody out there that is in need of an entertainer, for God's sake, drop me a line! I am tired of sitting on my ass doing nothing and watching my savings completely disappear.

These are frightening times! I am thinking of putting together a nursing home tour if I can get paid even a bit for each home visitation.

Actually, 2009 is showing definite signs of promise -- but hey! That doesn't help the old psyche in 2008!

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Tuesday is tax day and my 67th birthday. Kim has been such a sweetie to me already this week. I am counting my blessings and Kim is definitely at the top of that list!

Hope you enjoyed the SUN today. It sent the remaining snow a-skitterin' at the compound!

Talk at ya' soon!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

It's A Mad World After All -- It's A Mad, Mad, World

Let's talk about the weather -- how really mundane! Woke up this morning to snow on the ground on April 12. Wisconsin residents have been looking at snow and gray sky for seven straight months now, and there is no doubt abut it, it messes with the psyche.

My wife Kim has noticed it in the class room with her kindergartners this year. They are, by far, the worst behaving class she has had. I think it can be blamed on the strange weather we have had for the past seven long months.

I know little kids are supposed to love snow! But not for seven months in a row! The world's weather patterns are changing with severe weather in the news almost every day. There are those that poo-poo global warming, I am not one of them. And I think we are past the point of turning this situation around.

We have screwed up the planet and now the planet will rid itself of enough of us to right itself.

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And how about the "haters" from Westboro, Kansas, Baptist Church who recently traveled all the way to the Stout campus, Menomonie, Wisconsin, to spread the word of "God" . Three Stout students died from smoke inhalation recently in an apartment fire, and according to the "Reverend" Phelps followers, they died: "for Wisconsin and Minnesota's sins."

Church members held signs saying "God's Wrath is Revealed" and "America is Doomed."

Nearly 1,000 students demonstrated against the church members Thursday outside the Memorial Student Center.

Students carried signs saying "God Hates No One," and "Hate is Sin in God's Eyes." If you want to get a good look at pure evil go to: www.godhatesfags.com, which is, hard to believe, but there it is, the Westboro, Kansas, Baptist Church's home page.

I SAY: JUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE JUDGED!

Sort of makes a guy want to go to Westboro and reveal a bit more of God's wrath. We are in an age where more and more of the nut jobs are coming out of the wood world.


How very embarrassing for the Baptist Church in general!

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We are beginning to work on booking rooms for a mini-tour of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", a show that my brother Father John Heagle and I did some years ago with a great deal of success, so watch for further developments. Hopefully it will occur middle May, 2009.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

All's Well When My End's Well!


For those of you who have not undergone the "prep" of getting ready for a colonoscopy, be warned! It is like a chinese water torture. You are given a rather foul tasting powder which you must thoroughly mix with a gallon of water (that's 32 cups!) and then gulp it all down with in three hours and dedicate the rest of your day to sitting on the toilet and spewing it out the other end until your entire colon is totally clean and the passed water runs clear.

There is no solid food for the 24 hours preceding the procedure and I think all I had was one cup of warm chicken broth. Since they give you an IV introduced drug just before the procedure so that you are unaware of what is happening, you must have a designated driver drop you off and pick you up after wards.

My thanks to Ron Keezer for being the man today.

I don't remember hardly anything at all while the actual colonoscopy wasa being administered but afterwards I seemed to remember some "bad dream" discomfort.

The results of the test? Good report --some diverticulitis -- but I've had that all the while -- I remember the last time I had the procedure the doctor told me I had the bowel of a seventy year old -- and I said" "Well who is he and how did it get in my body? I don't sleep that well!"

No polyps -- no cancer -- and I can stop worrying for now. All's well when my end's well.

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If you are wondering why I took the photo I listed today, it's because wile I was typing away, movement caught my eye out of the window to my right -- and there he was -- a big old wild turkey -- making his way towards Hobbs Road. By the time I could get my camera out, he had proceeded past the large tree on the right where the snow is left from plowing. If you look really hard, you might be able to see him. Ah, the joys of a telephoto lens!

Well, this is it for today. Still goofy from the medication and I am going to head for the house and a nap.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

America's Truckers Tired of Taking It "Up the Butt" -- Me, Too!

Last December while I was in Hayward, some "true patriot" removed my "Bush is a war criminal" bumper sticker, so this week I replaced it. Last time I checked, this was still a free country -- well, sort of, anyway -- so that Yahoo exercised his freedom. I was taught in civics class, however, that the right to swing your arm ends at another person's nose.

Then, just to add salt to the wound, I added the other bumper sticker which I first saw on a car parked in a supermarket parking lot. I liked it so much that as soon as I got home I "googled" it and sent away for a half dozen of them -- so Mr. True Patriot, tear away, tear away!
I went into the Marshfield Clinic to pick up the necessaries for my big day tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow is colonoscopy day!

And may I just say THANK GOD FOR THE COLONOSCOPY!

The first inspection I had of that particular nether region was a rigid sygmodoscopy. That's where they take 50 feet of garden hose, attach a three C cell battery operated flashlight to the end of it with duct tape, apply a liberal amount of KY jelly and tell you that you are going to feel "a little discomfort".

So today begins the difficult part of the whole ordeal -- the fasting on clear liquids and the drinking of a gallon (yes, you heard that right) -- A GALLON -- of the prep which makes you stay within 10 feet of a toilet at all times.

But this is all much better than not having the procedure done and dying of cancer.

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I am more than a little embarrassed about the letter I sent out yesterday to Mr. Sam Huff. the former NFL all pro linebacker. I was bidding on a beat up Riddell TK style helmet similar to the one that Sam wore when he played. In the letter I asked that if I won the helmet and sent it out to him, would he autograph it for me.

Because it is so beat up, I figured I could win the auction with a bid of $80 easily. This morning, after the auction had ended, I checked to see what it sold for. $510.00!!! FIVE HUNDRED AND TEN DOLLARS! Holy shit!

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And finally, for today's blog, I want to share an editorial by Barbara Ehrenreich:

Truckers Protest, the Resistance Begins
By Barbara Ehrenreich
Barbaraehrenreich.com

Monday 07 April 2008

Until the beginning of this month, Americans seemed to have nothing to say about their ongoing economic ruin except, "Hit me! Please, hit me again!" You can take my house, but let me mow the lawn for you one more time before you repossess. Take my job and I'll just slink off somewhere out of sight. Oh, and take my health insurance too; I can always fall back on Advil.

Then, on April 1, in a wave of defiance, truck drivers began taking the strongest form of action they can take - inaction. Faced with $4/gallon diesel fuel, they slowed down, shut down and started honking. On the New Jersey Turnpike, a convoy of trucks stretching "as far as the eye can see," according to a turnpike spokesman, drove at a glacial 20 mph. Outside of Chicago, they slowed and drove three abreast, blocking traffic and taking arrests. They jammed into Harrisburg PA; they slowed down the Port of Tampa where 50 rigs sat idle in protest. Near Buffalo, one driver told the press he was taking the week off "to pray for the economy."

The truckers who organized the protests - by CB radio and internet - have a specific goal: reducing the price of diesel fuel. They are owner-operators, meaning they are also businesspeople, and they can't break even with current fuel costs. They want the government to release its fuel reserves. They want an investigation into oil company profits and government subsidies of the oil companies. Of the drivers I talked to, all were acutely aware that the government had found, in the course of a weekend, $30 billion to bail out Bear Stearns, while their own businesses are in a tailspin.

But the truckers' protests have ramifications far beyond the owner-operators' plight -first, because trucking is hardly a marginal business. You may imagine, here in the blogosphere, that everything important travels at the speed of pixels bouncing off of satellites, but 70 percent of the nation's goods - from Cheerios to Chapstick -travel by truck. We were able to survive a writers' strike, but a trucking strike would affect a lot more than your viewing options. As Donald Hayden, a Maine trucker put it to me: "If all the truckers decide to shut this country down, there's going to be nothing they can do about it."

More importantly, the activist truckers understand their protest to be part of a larger effort to "take back America," as one put it to me. "We continue to maintain this is not just about us," "JB" - which is his CB handle and stands for the "Jake Brake" on large rigs - told me from a rest stop in Virginia on his way to Florida. "It's about everybody - the homeowners, the construction workers, the elderly people who can't afford their heating bills ... This is not the action of the truck drivers, but of the people." Hayden mentions his parents, ages and 81 and 76, who've fought the Maine winter on a fixed income. Missouri-based driver Dan Little sees stores shutting down in his little town of Carrollton. "We're Americans," he tells me, "We built this country, and I'll be damned if I'm going to lie down and take this."

At least one of the truckers' tactics may be translatable to the foreclosure crisis. On March 29, Hayden surrendered three rigs to be repossessed by Daimler-Chrysler - only he did it publicly, with flair, right in front of the statehouse in Augusta. "Repossession is something people don't usually see," he says, and he wanted the state legislature to take notice. As he took the keys, the representative of Daimler-Chrysler said, according to Hayden, "I don't see why you couldn't make the payments." To which Hayden responded, "See, I have to pay for fuel and food, and I've eaten too many meals in my life to give that up."

Suppose homeowners were to start making their foreclosures into public events- inviting the neighbors and the press, at least getting someone to camcord the children sitting disconsolately on the steps and the furniture spread out on the lawn. Maybe, for a nice dramatic touch, have the neighbors shower the bankers, when they arrive, with dollar bills and loose change, since those bankers never can seem to get enough.

But the larger message of the truckers' protest is about pride or, more humbly put, self-respect, which these men channel from their roots. Dan Little tells me, "My granddad said, and he was the smartest man I ever knew, 'If you don't stand up for yourself ain't nobody gonna stand up for you.'" Go to theamericandriver.com, run by JB and his brother in Texas, where you're greeted by a giant American flag, and you'll find - among the driving tips, weather info, and drivers' favorite photos -the entire Constitution and Declaration of Independence. "The last time we faced something as impacting on us," JB tells me, "There was a revolution."

The actions of the first week in April were just the beginning. There's talk of a protest in Indiana on the 18th, another in New York City, and a giant convergence of trucks on DC on the 28th. Who knows what it will all add up to? Already, according to JB, some of the big trucking companies are threatening to fire any of their employees who join the owner-operators' protests.

But at least we have one shining example of defiance of the face of economic assault. There comes a point, sooner or later, when you stop scrambling around on all fours and, like JB and his fellow drivers all over the country, you finally stand up.

If you would like to help support the truckers in any way, go to http://www.theamericandriver.com/files/TruckersAndCitizensUnited.html.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Football, Baseball, Fishing, Too!

This is a Riddell helmet that I got months ago through eBay and let it just be while I decided which of the National football League teams logos I wanted to use. Since the seller had done such a great job painting the helmet white, I was determined that it should represent a team that wears a white helmet.

I considered the Tennessee Titans, the Indianapolis Colts, but ultimately I ordered the Miami Dolphin logos from 1990 to make a representation of Dan Marino's helmet worn during the "Silver Season" -- Don Shula's 25th year of coaching in the NFL.
I have always admired Dan Marino, another one of the National Football League quarterbacks that came out of Pennsylvania's mining country.

Marino held the completed passing record until this past season when Brett Favre outdid him with a slant to # 85, Greg Jennings, who took it in stride and ran untouched in for the score.

Marino went on to have an excellent career as a television star for HBO's "Inside The NFL". It is difficult to believe that with all his accomplishments, a Super Bowl ring eluded him.

As you can see, the helmet is still not finished. That's because it took me a really long time to locate the exact style face mask he wore and in the correct "aqua" color.

That mask is no longer being manufactured at this time. It is basically a line backer's mask. the type also worn by New York Jets QB Chad Pennington.

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Tis that time of year when my thoughts should be turning to baseball. Truth be told, it is difficult for me to get excited about major league baseball. Oh, I would imagine that there will be at least one trip to Milwaukee this summer to catch a Brewers game but that is more for the sociability than anything else.

Miller Park is a great place to watch a game. The design is such that when you walk in you say to yourself: "I'd best watch the game today because there is not a seat anywhere that a screaming foul ball would not be able to take your head off!" the park is laid out with an intimacy that I have only experienced at Wrigley.

But as I say, going to the ball game is more of a social occasion, be it with family or friend. getting there early and joining the others that are busy setting up their charcoal grills and laying out the brats and the beans and chips. And of course, the beer!

I am drawn much more to Carson Park to watch not The Express (too rowdy -- too many non-supervised brats running helter-skelter, thither and yon) but my favorite team The Cavaliers.

My mother, little Alice, God rest her soul, loved to be whisked out of the Clairemont in her wheel chair and out to the game where we always had a great time together -- making memories to cherish forever.

the other day, while I was cleaning the back room, I came across mom's diaries she kept the last couple years of her life. I couldn't read more than a page or two without finding tears rolling down my cheeks. Not a day goes by when I don't miss her. We were such good friends, she and I, in those last summers of baseball.

I am hoping to put the band back together to play an hour before one of the Cav games start. They set us up between the grand stand and the first base bleachers and we play not for money but for fun! Oh -- and for pitchers of Leinie's and hot dogs and brats.

It is worth it just to come out and watch Dave "Barney" Barneson eat a brat and drum at the same time.

I also have promised myself that this is the summer that I change the line on my spinning reel, oil it up, pack my little two man tent and talk either Jay Moore or my chiropractor Chad into taking an overnight small mouth fishing excursion on the Jump River near Jump River Rosie's club.

Enough already! got stuff to do!

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Collecting Football Helmets Puts Me In Touch With History

This is a Riddell TK style suspension helmet from the 1960's that I found on eBay last night and will be bidding on in a few days.

I get really excited when I see one of these come on line as they are fairly rare. I like them because they are from another era when football was played for a lot less money and a lot more heart.

As you can see, whoever has it, has hand painted it (and rather poorly I might add) to resemble a New York giants line backer helmet, as witnessed by the heavy duty face mask. It is a duplicate of Giants linebacker Sam Huff's helmet (albeit it has the wrong number painted on it -- #75 -- Sam wore #70), whose biography I just finished reading this past week.

So I did someting I thought I would never do. I wrote a fan letter to Sam. And here is what it says:


Larry Heagle
4888 Hobbs Road
Fall Creek, Wisconsin 54742


Mr. Sam Huff “the Man in the Middle”
P.O. Box 7070
Middleburg, Virginia 22117

Dear Sam:

I just finished reading your moving biography “Tough Stuff”. Not only did I find it difficult to put it down, but the closer I got to the end of it, the sadder I became that there wasn’t more.

I am 66 years old, and having been a Green Bay Packer fan all my life, I remember you very well from the glorious years when you played linebacker with the New York Giants and tangled with Jimmy Taylor.

I have always admired the way you played the game with your whole heart and soul. That was always evident as I watched you range back and forth behind the line of scrimmage.

I am an entertainer. Most of my work is making men and women of the business sector laugh after dinner.

I had the honor and pleasure of working two banquets with the late, great Ray Nitschke, another of my heros.

Now to the point: I have been collecting football helmets, mostly from your era, and restoring them.

Yesterday I found a helmet on eBay and I have enclosed the particulars with this letter. As you can see, it is very beat up and whoever painted it, obviously didn’t have a lot of good taste or he would have put the number 70 on it! (I have been trying to find out who #75 is, but cannot connect a name with the helmet.)

Here is my question. If I bid high enough to win the helmet and restore it to its orignal lustre, could I ship it to you and have you autograph it for me?

I would include a check for whatever you feel fair for your trouble plus the cost of shipping it back to me. Rest assured that it will bear the number seventy -- not seventy five!

What really caught my eye about this helmet is the face mask as I believe it is an exact copy of the one you wore.

I was so sorry to read about the break up of your marriage with Mary but I totally understand, having gone through a divorce myself.

My best to Sam Jr. and your grandson Nicholas, your daughter Cathy and, of course, J.D.

I hope your horses are thriving and continuing to give you a tremendous amount of sastisfaction.

God bless you, sir, and thank you for the many hours of sheer pleasure you gave me and all of us while you were “the man in the middle”.

Best regards,


Larry Heagle

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Should be interesting from a couple of aspects. Will I win the helmet? I am hoping that its condition will make it less attractive to other bidders. I find the challenge of restoring it something to look forward to and get my motor running. And secondly, will Sam take the time to answer my letter?

Anybody want to venture a guess?

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Took little nap earlier today and then walked outside to find it raining lightly. Is there a more delicious smell than the first Spring rains that awaken the earth's natural perfume?

Enough for today. Want to spend the rest of the afternoon with Kim. I think I will make a home made pizza for supper!

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Death And Taxes And Continual Money Drains

Today, on eBay, I won this Spalding Titanite football helmet for the amazing low price of $9.99! It harkens back to the days of the Heagle brothers playing tackle football in the back yard. I never thought that my bid would hold up but I am glad, just from a point of nostalgia, that it did. I don't know if I will leave it untouched or if I will transform it into an early Kansas City Chiefs helmet. That decision will be made after it arrives here. Is that a wondrous strange face mask or what???

What I am tempted to do is to put a defensive lineman's Dungard mask on it -- but after checking the price of the Dungard masks, maybe not!

At any rate, if I do make it into a KC helmet, it will be in the style of the helmets the Chiefs wore in their loss to the Packers in Super Bowl I. Remember Willie Lanier? Oops -- we're back into those expensive Dungard masks again!

Whatever I decide to do with it, there are three things I find very attractive about it. It is quite old, it is in very good shape for its age, and it is very different from the rest of my collection.

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We got that call which when discovered on the answer machine can set the blood running cold: "Your taxes are ready". So we drove out to H&R Block to pick them up -- prepared by my cousin-in-law Chuck Wysocky, workaholic detective with the Altoona Police Department who moonlights as a tax prep man.

Because we are family we get our taxes prepared for free. My kind of price!

As usual, Kim gets a pretty handsome refund and I get nothing as again this year I operated at a loss. In fact, I made over a thousand dollars less this year than last year -- thanks George W.!

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Speaking of money -- gotta stop blogging and start writing those "beginning of the month" bills.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

And More From Incoming E Mail

QUOTE FROM THE MOM:

THIS IS MY KINDERGARTNER'S ARTISTIC RENDERING OF A PAIR OF SCISSORS. I
WONDER WHAT HIS TEACHER THOUGHT.
I ALLOWED MYSELF JUST A SMALL SMIRK WHEN I SAW IT.
I WAITED UNTIL HE WAS OUT OF THE ROOM UNTIL I STARTED CRYING FROM LAUGHING
SO HARD.
WELL, OF COURSE THEY'RE SCISSORS.


AS YOU ALL KNOW I WILL BE REQUIRED TO PROUDLY DISPLAY THIS ON
MY REFRIGERATOR FOR A LENGTH OF TIME.

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After 30 years of marriage, a couple was lying in bed one evening, when the misses felt her husband begin to fondle her in ways he hadn't in quite some time.

It almost tickled as his fingers started at her neck, and then began moving down past the small of her back. He then caressed her shoulders and neck, slowly worked his hand down over her breasts, stopping just over her lower stomach.

He then proceeded to place his hand on her left inner arm, caressed past the side of her breast again, working down her side, passed gently over her buttock and down her leg to her calf.
Then, he proceeded up her inner thigh, stopping just at the uppermost portion of her leg. He continued in the same manner on her right side, then suddenly stopped, rolled over and became silent.

As she had become quite aroused by this caressing, she asked in a loving voice, "Honey, that was wonderful. Why did you stop?"
I found the remote," he mumbled.

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Andy Hyman Features Yours Truly On His Home Page

I am pleased to say that today I am featured on Distant Replays home page at www.distantreplays.com. as "Larry Heagle of the Washington Redskins.

I feel like a traitor! Trouble is, I didn't have my wearable Packer helmet finished when Andy Hyman asked me to send some examples of the helmets I had been working on.

I am still recovering from last night's testicle festival activities in Downsville. I ain't gonna lie -- I wasn't cut out (excuse the pun) to be downing bull nuts. TJ's has a great menu the rest of the year. My very favorite -- and I've talked about this before -- is his aged sirloin steak. My God! John ages them himself and he really knows what he's doing. I have never found a steak that can hold a candle to his -- not even the sirloin at the Tea Steak House, Tea, South dakota, just out of Sioux Falls, which runs a close second.

Last night, before I left for Downsville, Kim and I met Jim and Donna Backus for an early supper at The Galloway Street Grille, a relatively new eatery near the Eau Claire Post Office.

I arrived before any of the rest of the party so I sat at the bar and reached over to check the menu. What is it with Eau Claire? Restaurant menus are nearly interchangeable. A page of salads, a page of burgers, a steak or two, shrimp and walleye -- all the usual suspects. Kim ordered the Caesar Salad and I ordered the Galloway Grille Burger -- a half pound burger that was cooked to dry.

Kim's Caesar dressing had no relation to what I consider a Caesar dressing should be -- no anchovy or romano cheese whatsoever.

Kim liked it because at least the lettuce wasn't served ice cold.

Generally? Yawn-ola! Lat's face it -- Eau Claire is a meat and potatoes town, with the exception of St Patrick's Day -- which is another meat and potatoes day -- with barely passable corned beef and boiled potatoes -- and EEEUUUUU! Green Beer! couldn't we at least get Guiness Stout? Or a bottle of Harp Lager?

Actually I am being a little too harsh. you CAN find Harp and Guiness.

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And garnered from my overnight e mail:

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

If you don't send this to at least 8 people....Who cares?

George Carlin


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