HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FAVRE RETIRED ... NO, REALLY! (FOR NOW?)

I decided to share this blog as it has some merit:


Posted by: Kyle Giunta (Buffalo Bills Fan)

Brett Favre has announced to the Vikings that he – after three months of “intense and often emotional soul-searching” – has decided to remain retired. I’ve finally become so sick of him that I have drafted the following letter. Please feel free to submit your amendments.

Dear Brett,

Thanks for the news! I expected that we would be hearing from you seeing as someone else (*cough* Mike Vick) was in the spotlight for the last twenty-four hours. I know how much you hate that and I’m so happy to have heard from you! It’s really too bad that you’ve decided not to play for Minnesota; I was really looking forward to watching your career hit a new rock bottom. Of course, I would have liked it a lot more if you had patched things up with the Jets so at least those picks could have been thrown the way of Bills’ defensive backs.

Also, I really just wanted to congratulate you on a fantastic career: Three-time MVP, a decade’s worth of Pro-Bowls, and, of course, a Super Bowl ring. Too bad it will be remembered with a thin layer of tarnish due to your ridiculous early-onset dementia and “flip-flopping” antics that would make even the most ambivalent politician blush.

Okay, I admit it, I’m not being truly fair. You were and are a great quarterback. I am just really really sick of hearing about you. RETIRE! (✓) FOR GOOD (✓?).

Here’s to you Gunslinger and Lambeau Legend. Here’s to your final ride into the sunset. For the love of God stay there.

Love,

Everyone (especially your biggest fans)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PUSHING PHONY NUMBERS

2:21 PM Eastern - July 22, 2009
Ad check: U.S. Chamber of Commerce pushes phony numbers in new offensive against health care reform
BY KATE THOMAS
The Chamber of Commerce continues their "Just Say No!" strategy against health care reform with a new ad this week that flaunts a series of misleading numbers to make the case (or rather, their lack thereof) against legislation that will guarantee Americans access to quality, affordable health care. After all, who needs real facts when you can just distort the reality of what fixing health care will mean to millions of Americans and small businesses instead? Not the Chamber!

Now for some truth: We all know America's health care system is broken. But instead of proposing solutions to help ease the crushing burden of rising costs, the right-wing continues to spend millions to champion the status quo and attack common-sense health care reforms. At a time when small businesses are crumbling under the weight of rising healthcare costs, the last thing they need is more attacks on legislation that will guarantee small businesses and their employees' access to quality, affordable healthcare.

Here are the facts on how small businesses and taxpayers would actually be affected by the latest proposals for fixing our broken system.

IN NEW AD, U.S. CHAMBER CITES MISLEADING NUMBERS TO MAKE THE CASE AGAINST HEALTH CARE REFORM
False U.S. Chamber Claim: Proposed Surtax On America's Wealthiest Will Push Tax Rate Over 50% in 39 States. In a new print ad, the new U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims that the proposed health care surtax will push "the top marginal tax rate over 50% in 39 states." This information is based on a study by the Tax Foundation. [U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad, accessed 7/21/09; Tax Foundation, 7/14/09]
REALITY: Tax Foundation Numbers Apply to Only .2 Percent of Nation's Households. The Tax Foundation numbers apply only to the households in the United States that make over $1 million, which is only .2 percent of the population. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1/30/2006]
REALITY: Tax Foundation Assumes Tax Rates Would Rise After Two Years. The Tax Foundation's analysis assumes that the tax rates would rise again in 2013. This is because "If additional savings didn't materialize at some specified date, this would 'trigger' higher rates coming into effect in 2013." However, the Tax Foundation assumes these higher rates in 2011. [Citizens for Tax Justice, 7/15/2009; Tax Foundation, 7/14/2009]

REALITY: Proposed Surcharge Would Help Recover Some of $700 Billion In Tax Breaks Given To America's Top Earners. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, "the graduated surcharge included in H.R. 3200 to finance health care reform would require the richest one percent to give back some, but not all, of the tax cuts they received over the 2001-2010 period." [Citizens for Tax Justice, 7/15/2009]

U.S. Chamber Ad Also Cites Misleading Wall Street Journal Claim. In the new print advertisement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also cites the Wall Street Journal, which claimed that the surtax "would hit job creators especially hard because more than six of every 10 who earn that much are small business owners, operators, or investors." [U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad, accessed 7/21/09]
REALITY: The Wall Street Journal Numbers Are Very Misleading and Overestimate Number of Small Businesses Affected.
According to Factcheck.org, it is unlikely that the number the Wall Street Journal used is that high, arguing the number "is a guess" and "some evidence suggests the true percentage is lower." Indeed, "only 2.2 percent of filers with small business income would be in the top two income tax brackets..." [Factcheck.org, Factcheck Wire, 3/6/2009; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/26/2009]

THE MAJORITY OF AMERICAN SMALL BUSINESSES WOULD NOT BE AFFECTED BY PROPOSED SURTAX TO FUND HEALTH CARE REFORM
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims to defend the interests of small businesses, but even a quick examination of their legislative record shows them opposing bill after bill that may help small businesses--and health care reform legislation is no different.

More Than Nine Out of Ten Small Businesses Will Not Be Affected By Surtax. According to the Center on Budget on Budget and Policy Priorities, "More than nine in ten small businesses would feel no impact whatsoever," meaning "some 96 percent of taxpayers with business income would not owe the surcharge." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/17/2009]

Even Those Paying the Surcharge Will Not See Any Impact On Business. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the surcharge will only affect business profits, and "a small business owner deducts any money that she paid to employees as compensation, as well as any other operating costs...it is only business profits that are taxed." In addition, "even purchases of equipment to expand business operations would not be affected..." [Citizens for Tax Justice, 7/15/2009]

SMALL BUSINESSES WILL BENEFIT ENORMOUSLY FROM HEALTH CARE REFORM
A Number of Small Businesses Will Benefit From Tax Credit Provided in the House Bill. According to the House Ways and Means Committee, "a substantial number of small businesses would benefit from a new tax credit included in the bill...the House proposal provides a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the employer's coverage for certain small businesses that choose to provide health coverage for their employees." [House Ways and Means Committee, accessed 7/21/2009]

Health Care Reform Can Save Small Businesses 36% Of Their Health Care Costs and Reduce Profit Losses By More Than 50%. With health care reform, "small businesses can save as much as $855 billion, a reduction of 36 percent." In addition, "over the next ten years...small businesses will lose $52.1 billion in profits to high healthcare costs. Healthcare reform can reduce these losses by more than 56 percent, saving $29.2 billion in small business profits..." [Small Business Majority, 6/11/2009]

Health Care Reform That Includes Shared Responsibility Will Save Workers Billions In Wages. According to a recent study, "Reforming healthcare, and providing support to small businesses under a new system of shared responsibility, can save workers up to $309 billion in wages over the next ten years. [Small Business Majority, 6/11/2009]

Monday, July 27, 2009

SO THIS BIRD WALKS INTO A STORE ...


Subject: so, this bird walks into a store....


A seagull in Marinette , WI has developed the habit of stealing Doritos from a neighborhood convenience store.

The seagull waits until the Manager isn't looking, and then walks into the store and grabs a snack-size bag of cheese Doritos.
Once outside, the bag gets ripped open and shared by other birds.

The seagull's shoplifting started early this month when he first swooped into the store in Marinette , WI , and helped himself to a bag of Doritos. Since then, he has become a regular. He always takes the same type of chips.

The Manager thinks it's great because people are coming to watch the feathered thief make the daily grab and run, and that's good for business, and especially since customers have begun paying for the seagull's stolen bags of Doritos because they think it's so funny.
However, the Manager did say, 'This is Wisconsin , and if that seagull starts to grab a 6-pack to go along with the Doritos, I may have to put a stop to it.'

_________________________________________________________

The above phenomena makes me believe more in incarnation. If you will remember, back in the day, whilst Iraq's Saddam Hussein was being held prisoner, his favorite food of them all? DORITOS!

HE'S BACK!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

FISHER REUNION A GOOD TIME - MANY THANKS!

The Larry Heagle Band joined forces briefly for a one night stand at the Tom Fisher Family Reunion just off Highway 8, north of Chetek. Pictured is the rhythm section of the band: Dave "Barney" Barneson, drums, Tim "Too Tall" Keilholtz, bass and vocals and "Short Daddy", rhythm guitarist.
The reunion took place at Tom Fisher's recently self-completed cabin off Log Cabin Road, a truly scenic spot complete with his own small lake which contains large mouth bass, perch, sunfish, and bluegill.
It had been a while since I have worked more than one set so I was a bit concerned about making it through three sets, but with the help of such excellent musicians, including keyboard player Tom Wieseler and lead guitarist Mike Richson, the evening fairly flew by.

We performed on the deck above the pictured fire pit and the last set was done pretty much in the dark, with many of the family reunion gathered around a goodly fire.

The food was good and plentiful as were the libations. I decided to let Tim drive "The Big Tamata" back to Eau Claire to give myself time to absorb the drinks I had -- and wouldn't you know, when we got to his house, the Eau Claire Police were parked right across the street watching traffic.

Luckily when I pulled out and made my turn to go down the hill to find my way out to Galloway Street, I didn't pick up a follower.

My thanks not only to the Fishers' for the opportunity to be a part of their reunion, but to the band for helping me make it through the night!

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

A STEP BACK IN RAILROAD HISTORY - MAKES FOR A MEMORABLE SUNDAY BRUNCH

Right around July 6, Kim's birthday, I made two reservations for a "sunday brunch" ride on the Osceola and St Croix Valley Railway. This particular ride leaves Osceola, Wisconsin, at 11 AM on a sunday morning and winds westward through some of the most beautiful, wild, landscape one can imagine, along the banks of the St. Croix River and through the sandstone outcroppings and incredibly untouched hard woods that border the other side of the tracks.
We arrived about 40 minutes ahead of time, took a short tour of the depot there in Osceola, and spent some time visiting with the all volunteer crews of the railway, including the warm and charming gentleman pictured here with Kim.

Richard was our conductor and a very charming one at that. In no time he had everyone completely at ease. He makes his home just across the river in Minnesota but spends his weekends playing his role as the man in charge of the passengers.

We were allowed to board about 10 minutes to eleven and found our tables, complete with name reservations on real table cloths -- and brunch served on real china - no plastic cups or plates, thank you. We were in the "first class" car and were very well taken care of by the staff.

Brunch was catered and really very good. It included scrambled eggs with cheese, regular and blueberry pancakes, very meaty, crispy bacon, pork links done to a lovely brown, glasses of orange juice, fresh coffee, fresh fruit cocktail, and miniature muffins.
The brunch was served cafeteria-style, with those at the far end of the car going through the line first to keep the middle of the car open and the traffic flowing easily.
At no time did we find ourselves short of coffee or juice as the staff made the rounds regularly refilling as needed.
As Kim worked on finishing her plate, the staff announced that there was plenty left for seconds and I beat a hasty retreat back into the line to replenish my plate. All the while the train moved very quietly and smoothly westward, crossing a trestle which afforded us a beautiful view of the river.
Finally surfeited, Kim and I got up and moved towards the fanciest car of the bunch, the James Hill car, named after the gentleman who founded the "Empire Builder" line at the turn of the century. Hill became known as the empire builder when he finished a line that stretched from Chicago all the way to Seattle.

As you can see from the photos, this is the creme de la creme of the train cars and back in the day was reserved for the movers and shakers of business and government.

When we reached the switchback area, we watched as the engine came past our windows to the opposite end of the train and the journey back to Osceola began.

This left the rear of the James Hill car as the caboose, complete with a walk out platform that we were invited to use on the way back.

It gave us an opportunity to take some air and get some incredible photos of the river and the trestle.



The views pictured were taken standing on the open platform of the last car as it made its way back to the east. At one point, as we were walking towards our goal, the engineer hit the brakes pretty hard!

When we returned to our seats we found that the staff had left champagne for us in flutes bearing the railway's logo. Unfortunately, the sudden braking had knocked one of the glasses into the other and shattered it.

Again, the gracious staff came to our rescue and offered us new flutes as we exited the train.

All in all, it was a great trip - one that I would recommend heartily for anyone looking for a special way to celebrate a special occasion.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

CAN OLD MAN FAVRE TAKE THE VIKINGS TO THE SUPER BOWL? - Maybe, but can they win it?

Just catching up on the latest Brett Favre skinny - now he is quoted as saying he will be making his decision as to whether he will be playing for the Minnesota Vikings this fall on July 30, the day before training camp opens.

It makes me think back to my heart surgery when I was lying on the recovery table and a young male nurse was leaning over me, checking my vitals as I slowly regained consciousness. His name tag was attached to a cloth tether that was embroidered with the Vikings logo, so I kiddingly said: "I think Robert Smith is one of the classiest running backs in the NFL -- now you say something nice about Brett Favre."

His face screwed up with rage he simply replied: "Brett Favre is a pussy!"

I sure would like to find that dude today and get his opinion as to what is going down.

Anyway, I have this ongoing fantasy about the coming season. Favre signs with the Vikings and takes them to the playoffs, complete with two victories over the Green Bay Packers in regular season play.

Then Favre takes them to the big one - the Super Bowl. And in a repeat of his final game with the Packers, he throws an interception that causes the Vikings to lose their fourth Super Bowl in a row.

It would make the off season just oh so sweet in Cheesehead Land.

I wish I could say I am a better person than that, but I have been to the Metrodome.

_________________________________________________________________

A MESSAGE FROM CHUCK YEAGER

From: Chuck Yeager
Sent: Fri, Jul 10, 2009 1:02 pm
Subject: Memorial Service: you're invited.

We're hearing a lot today about big splashy memorial services.
I want a nationwide memorial service for Darrell "Shifty" Powers.

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy
Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st
Airborne Infantry. If you've seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the
History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10
episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn't
know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having
trouble reading his ticket. I offered to help, assured him that he was
at the right gate, and noticed the "Screaming Eagle," the symbol of
the 101st Airborne, on his hat.

Making conversation, I asked him if he'd been in the 101st Airborne
or if his son was serving. He said quietly that he had been in the
101st. I thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served,
and how many jumps he made.

Quietly and humbly, he said "Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so,
and was in until sometime in 1945 .. . . " at which point my heart
skipped.

At that point, again, very humbly, he said "I made the 5 training
jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy . . . . do you know
where Normandy is?" At this point my heart stopped.

I told him "yes, I know exactly where Normandy is, and I know what
D-Day was." At that point he said "I also made a second jump into
Holland, into Arnhem." I was standing with a genuine war hero . . . .
and then I realized that it was June, just after the anniversary of
D-Day..

I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from France, and he said
"Yes. And it's real sad because, these days, so few of the guys are
left, and those that are, lots of them can't make the trip." My heart
was in my throat and I didn't know what to say.

I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in
Coach while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to
get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty came
forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have
it, that I'd take his in coach.

He said "No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are
still some who remember what we did and who still care is enough to
make an old man very happy." His eyes were filling up as he said it..
And mine are brimming up now as I write this.

Shifty died on June 17 after fighting cancer.

There was no parade.
No big event in Staples Center.
No wall to wall back to back 24x7 news coverage.
No weeping fans on television.
And that's not right.

Let's give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet
way. Please forward this email to everyone you know. Especially to the
veterans.

Rest in peace, Shifty.

Chuck Yeager, MajGen. [ret.]

GENERAL SESSIONS - THAT CRACK COCAINE THING

Senator Jeff Sessions simultaneously shocked and cracked up the Sotomayor hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday afternoon when he said he was looking forward to doing "that crack cocaine thing" with Senator Patrick Leahy and Wade Henderson, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Sessions, in a casual tone, said "Mr. Henderson, It's good to work with you. Senator Leahy and I are talking during these hearings, we're going to do that crack cocaine thing that you and I have talked about before."

After an awkward pause, Henderson laughed to himself and said, "Thank you, Senator, I appreciate that."

While the Senate gallery laughed, and witnesses including NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former FBI director Louis Freeh snickered, Sessions sputtered, "Let me correct the record."

Sessions explained: "I misspoke. We're going to reduce the burden of penalties in some of the crack cocaine cases and make them fair."

FIRST OSCAR DIES - NOW THIS??

MOUNT PLEASANT, Wis. — One southern Wisconsin homeowner is probably not in love with the Oscar Mayer wiener. The famed hot dog's Wienermobile crashed Friday into the deck and garage of a home in Mount Pleasant, about 35 miles south of Milwaukee.

Police said the driver was trying to turn the Wienermobile around in the driveway and thought she was moving in reverse. But she instead went forward and hit the home. It sat in the driveway as if it were stuck in the garage Friday afternoon.

No one was home and no one was injured. No citations were immediately issued.

Both the home and vehicle suffered moderate damage, which Oscar Mayer spokeswoman Sydney Lindner says insurance will cover.

Police hadn't been able to speak to the homeowner as of early Friday evening.

I researched a bit - here's what I found out about the drivers:

the real driving is done by a team of talented and personable "Hotdoggers" who have attended Hot Dog High in Madison, Wisconsin, where they learn about the company's products and history as well as receiving specialized driver training. I'm sure they're careful drivers, but Oscar Mayer undoubtedly has a hefty car insurance policy on a vehicle this unique. After taking the Hotdogger Oath and graduating, new Hotdoggers travel the country for one year.



*************************************************************

I know it's just my perverted mind, but there is something vaguely - or maybe not so vaguely - Freudian about the photograph of the weinermobile jammed into the garage of a home in (where else) MOUNT PLEASANT! Oh, Oscar, it's just too big! Someone get the mustard! Or at least a gallon of vaseline.
Where else but Wisconsin would you even find a "Weinermobile"?

OH I WISH I WERE AN OSCAR MAYER WEINER
THAT IS WHAT I'D TRULY LIKE TO BE
CUZ IF I WERE AN OSCAR MAYER WEINER
EVERYONE WOULD FALL IN LOVE WITH ME

Except for the homeowner in Mt. Pleasant - but then how do we know he isn't ecstatic today, knowing that he will now be able to remodel his rotting deck and expand his garage?

Don't worry - Sydney says this intrusion will be covered by insurance.

And what was the Weinermobile doing parked in that driveway in the first place? Inquiring minds want to know.

*********************************

Remember roasting weenies over an open campfire? Read on:

Three cowboys were seated around the campfire out on the lonesome sagebrush prairie and with the pride for which these men were famous; it was a night of bravado, a night of tall tales..

Tom, the hand from Wyoming says, 'I must be the strongest, meanest, toughest cowboy there is. Why, just the other day, a bull got loose in the corral. It had gored six men before I wrestled it to the ground by the horns with my bare hands and castrated that sucker with my teeth.'

Ben, from Colorado, couldn't stand to be bested.. That's nothing, 'I was walking down the trail yesterday and a 15 foot diamondback rattler slid out from under a rock and made a move for me. I grabbed that bastard with my bare hands, bit off its head, and sucked the poison down in one gulp and didn't even get a belly ache.'

Old Dungus Bob, the cowboy from West Texas, remained silent, slowly stirring the campfire coals with his pecker.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

PEE POWERED CARS THE NEXT STEP?

A friend of mine forwarded the following tidbit to me:

Scientists from Ohio University have come across a way to harvest large amounts of cheap hydrogen from a rather unlikely source: urine. Apparently, plucking hydrogen atoms from urine is much easier than getting it from water.
Gerardine Botte, one of the Ohio University professors actively developing this "pee power" technology, attributes this difference to urea, a cleaner of diesel emissions and major component of urine. A molecule of urea is composed of four hydrogen atoms and two nitrogen atoms. Applying an electric current using a special nickel electrode causes those hydrogen atoms to pop right off. The trick is that it requires about 97 percent less electricity to release the hydrogen from the urea molecules than from a water molecule--specifically 0.037 volt for urine versus 1.23 volts for water.
Imagine a future where fuel cell vehicles get 90 miles per gallon (of pee) and farms generate their own power from livestock waste. That future could be here sooner than you think. Botte currently has a working small-scale prototype that generates up to 500 milliwatts of power, and she plans to have large-scale examples up and running in about six months.
I imagine this will probably change the nature of stopping for a fill-up during a long road trip.

*******************************************************

"Pee Power" -- I like it! Do you think someday we will be able to drive cross country with nothing more than one of those drug store provided pee tubes that were formerly used only by those people who couldn't get out of bed? Pass me another bottle of water! The pee gauge is down to a quarter!

PISS ON THE ARABS!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

TJ EDWARDS FIRST ARREST BECOMES CARTOON




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LES SAN CULOTTES ROCKS THE STREET AS HEADLINERS

Kim and I arrived about an hour before Les Sans Culottes took the stage as the closers last night for the Bastille Day Block Party outside Barbette's French restaurant in Uptown,

Music outdoors is almost always a dicey situation - last night was no different. The band we first listened to was mixed way heavy on bass and drums - that is about all we could hear.

Jon had asked me to bring the Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean up for his use rather than go through the hassle of flying with his guitars. The Tennessean is a great axe (pictured in action) but after several tunes, Jon realized that he was going to have continuing problems with feedback.

Fortunately I had packed the solid body Danelectro and he finished the set with that.

It became obvious immediately why Les Sans Culottes had been chosen as closers -- they grabbed the audience with both their musical prowess and unbridled enthusiasm. The theory that people don't know what they like - they like what they know - was proven as the crowd's favorites of the set were covers in French of My Sharona and Boots Are Made For Walking.

We were on the road by 10:30 PM and got back home around 12:10AM.

_____________________________________________________________________

Sunday, July 12, 2009

SUCH OF A LUCKY GUY!

ANOTHER REPORT FROM THE HINTERLANDS OF MINNEAPOLIS

Started out my saturday in typical fashion by locating a Perkins restaurant just off Highway 7. While I was working on my short stack, I noticed that the staff was setting up for a rather large gathering near my booth. Shortly thereafter "grandma and grandpa" were the first to arrive and overhearing their conversation I could tell that they were waiting for their son and his family to arrive. Grandma was cute as she directed the strategy in seating so that she could be surrounded by grandchildren.

Then the family began to arrive. Mom and Dad and FIVE kids! The eldest couldn't have been more than eight and the youngest just under two. How does a family that size survive in these days? I suppose there are two sides to debate here, but I find it a bit irresponsible to have that many offspring in a world that is already polluted and overcrowded.

Mom looked tired.

Upon returning to my sister-in-law's condo, plans for the day were laid out. It was to be a day of finding urns for ashes and to locate a flat screen television set for Kristi -- oh, and a decent mouse pad for me.


first stop was a huge Sam's Club where we located a set to Kristi's liking and my recommendation - a 40 inch Sony LCD Bravia. We have a 46 inch set similar to this one - a replacement for the Hitachi Horror that I chronicled here on this site some time ago. Kristi also decided to add a 19 inch Sharp flat screen for the kitchen that would be set up with a small in house antenna.

Kim and Kristi located two beautiful urns at Pier One, then we moved on to Excelsior as Kristi knew a shop that carried "stoppers" which were needed for the urns. Excelsior was in the throes of a summer street sale and I made it about half way there before my damaged leg would allow me to go no further, so I told the women to go on, found myself a bit of shade and "people watched" until they returned.

Our final stop was an Office Max for the mouse pad - I went for basic black as opposed to cute kittens, playing puppies, and diving dolphins.

As technology advances, I become more and more aware of just how far behind I am getting left -- choking on the dust of television manuals that were obviously written by an English speaking Chinese - talk about awkward sentence construction!

The three of us worked on getting the kitchen TV up and running, but towards the middle of the melee I decided we had too many chiefs and I bowed out (in a stressed out huff, I must admit - with apologies to the women - who stayed with it until they got it running as well as can be expected this far away from the broadcast towers.

For my supper, as Kim and Kristi were doing huge salads, I opted to order a Diavanni's pizza from the joint over on Highway 7. I ordered a pepperoni, mushroom, and extra cheese. When I arrived to pick it up, the slip was for $13.89 and it read SAUSAGE, mushroom, extra cheese. I pointed this out to the cashier who called the manager over. He apologized and gave me the pizza at no charge.

Free pizza? I can learn to like your sausage, Mr. Diavanni. (Oops, that didn't sound very good, did it?)

So today is going to end up being a long one so I need to get plenty of rest. Sometime around noon I am joining Jonathan for brunch and visiting before the outdoor music starts at Barbette's at 4 this afternoon. Since Jon's band, Les Sans Culotte, doesn't perform their set until 9PM, I am thinking that I will retreat back here until evening descends and then go back down town for the set at 8PM, then listen to Jon play before we head out to return to Stella and Hammy - almost embarrassing how much I miss those furry little guys whenever I am gone for more than 24 hours!

To that end, here are gratuitous photos of the beloved and dearly missed.

_________________________________________________________________

Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

FORGOT HOW MUCH I HATE BIG CITY DRIVING - GPS NO HELP

Last night I picked son Jonathan up at his hotel, the Aloft, and we went to meet my friend Kurt Weber for dinner at Figlio's on Calhoun Square. The ride to the restaurant became a real fiasco - one that if we hadn't left in plenty of time, would have had tempers flaring.

It seems that I must have entered the address for the restaurant into my GPS incorrectly because when we arrived at the supposed address we were in a warehouse district with no restaurant in sight!

Remembering that Kurt had said that the restaurant was near Barbette's, the site of sunday's music, I then entered the address for Barbette's, thinking that I recalled exactly where the Italian restaurant in question was located as we (I thought) had dined there three years ago, the last time Les Sans Culottes worked the outdoor festival.

When we arrived at the Barbette location, I realized that it was a different Italian restaurant - Victoria's - and I still didn't know where Figlio's was located.

So I finally got smart, I thought, and went into Barbette's and retrieved the address from their telephone address - 3001 Lake Street - and followed the GPS directions - only to find ourselves in a residential neighborhood nearby. It was then I realized that in my haste and frustration I had typed in"001" not "3001".

We finally found Figlio's tucked in a corner and virtually out of sight. We made it with five minutes to spare.

Dinner was less than whelming. In conversations with our waitress we found out that it is in it's death throes with a closing date of September 19, supposedly another victim of the current economic climate, but to my way of thiking, it is that the food is just not very good! Jon and I split the veal and spinach stuffed cannelloni and it was rubbery and the sauce came no where near being Italian tasting.

We, however, did not let this get in the way of having an enjoyable evening with Kurt - and I am hoping that he will be able to get off work in time to catch Jonathan's set sunday night.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

YET ANOTHER PACKER HELMET FINISHED - BIG WEEKEND COMING UP

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a lineman's "cage" in titanium at a very good price - formerly used by the Colorado Buffalo football team, this cage is the same dark green used by the Packers so, of course, I snapped it up, and then began looking for a yellow helmet to attach it to. Luckily, within a few days I found a yellow helmet, somewhat battle-scarred, but at a good price of just over $34.00. (the new ones run $94.13).

I then contacted my pal Marty in Milwaukee who has been supplying me with Packer decals and ordered the set I would need to complete the helmet.

Miraculously, all parts arrived within a week of one another. I spent a goodly amount of time this afternoon cleaning the exterior of the helmet with "Goo Gone", which is a great cleaner to take off paint hits from other helmets as well as any left over adhesives. The completed helmet is pictured here.

I counted up my total helmet collection - this makes #22!

I will be bringing my laptop and my camera with me this weekend as tomorrow I leave for Kim's sister's house to stay through sunday. Jonathan's band "Les Sans Culottes will be arriving by plane around noon tomorrow to play for a big Bastille Day street party outside the restaurant Barbette on sunday.

So tomorrow night I am meeting Jon and a former student and good friend of mine, Kurt Weber, for dinner and we will hang until this old fart crashes.

Saturday, Jon will be spending the day with his mother and then joining his band mates for dinner at Barbette's - to be folllowed by heavy duty partying with the other scheduled bands for the rest of the night.

Sunday late morning I will be picking Jon up and we will go out to brunch before joining in the musical festivities for the rest of the day. Here is the schedule of bands:

Barbette Bastille Day Block Party
Barbettewww.barbette.com
1600 W Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55408-2547
(612) 827-5710

Stage Line Up:
4:00-4:35 Yid Vicious
4:50-5:25 The Idle Hands
5:40-6:20 Romantica
6:20-6:40 Live Action Set
6:50-7:30 Sims of Doomtree
7:45-8:25 Halloween, Alaska
8:35-8:45 Foxy Tann & the Whambamthankyouma'ams
9:00-10:00 -- (((((LES SANS CULOTTES))))))

Jon asked if I would bring the Gretsch Tennessean Chet Atkins autograph model guitar up with me so that he could use it for the set, so I took it to Sound of Music today and had a fresh set of strings installed.

I plan on writing blogs covering the weekend's activities while I am on the road, so watch for them this weekend.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I HAVE A NEW "TECHHIE" - AH, THE YOUTH OF TODAY!

Last week I purchased a new used MacBook Pro to replace my Toshiba laptop - a laptop that at one point I took in to the "Geek Squad" because the internet section had stopped functioning . They informed me that it would cost more for me to have it repaired than it would just to replace it with a new one -- from their store of course.

Do you think I got my MacBook from Worst Buy? I don't think so. I went online and found a great deal on my MacBook. Next I gave my "broken" laptop to a very computer savvy young man, Gabe Wieseler.

Then I took my MacBook Pro into the local Apple/Mac dealer and told them to look over my new machine and to tweak it so that it would be running at peak performance. In addition I took in my Mac and had them transfer all the files on to my laptop.

Now one would think that they would put the latest updates on the machine as I had asked them to - tweak it for maximum pefrormance - but $180 later I get my laptop home and find that many of my programs crash.

So I call Gabe and he tells me that he has my Toshiba up and running - just by reinstalling the start up disc. So I am down here at his house this afternoon and he has cleared up all my problems on the Macbook by installing the correct updates.

His mother suggests paying me something for the Toshiba -- but I tell Gabe that the Toshiba is his as long as he will be my techhie. Pretty fair exchange, I think.

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While he was helping me with my computer problems, Gabe turned me on to Pandora Radio which is an amazing site that lets you choose the tune or artist that you want to listen to - with a good pair of head phones and a laptop you are are set to do an afternoon's work with great music in your ears.

I won't even go into the excellent features of Pandora -- just go check it out yourselves at www.pandora.com. If you love music, you won't be sorry.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MS KIM!

Kim Wilson is celebrating her 56th birthday today and those of us who know her and love her have been expressing the joy that she brings into all of our lives today.

Yesterday we started celebrating a day early with a leisurely bicycle ride through down town Eau Claire on the bike trails and lunch at the outdoor tables of the Grand Avenue Cafe.

We slept in this morning and then joined our crazy friend Doug Cox for lunch at the newly remodeled Foster Cheese House, some afternoon book shopping, and we have just now returned from dinner at Draganetti's. Just taking a moment to write this before we plunge into tonight's Netflix movie.

Earlier in the day I surprised Kim with another birthday present for the future - a Sunday morning train ride out of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, complete with a lavish brunch as we clickity clack West across the river into Minnesota. Here's the details:

Sunday Brunch Train:11:00am
July 19
Experience fine railroad dining as it was in the 1950s. Take a relaxing, climate-controlled two hour scenic ride through the St. Croix River valley aboard MTM’s Great Northern dining cars. Come celebrate that special birthday, anniversary or just enjoy rail dining at its finest. Our brunch is served buffet-style and consists of eggs, meat, potatoes, muffins, pancakes and beverages. You will not go home hungry.

Prepaid reservations are required; your credit or debit card will be charged at the time you make your reservation. Tickets are non-refundable.
Reservations for brunch trains must be made by 8:00 am on the Friday before your scheduled departure.
Seating is community-style (tables seat two or four passengers), unless specifically requested and/or as space permits.
Adults $42, Children $32 (ages 0-15) Get tickets
Your credit or debit card will be charged at the time you make your reservation. Visa, MasterCard, AMEX

Should be lots of fun - camera worthy - and good for a blog after we finish!

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tricia Heagle - Beautiful Photo of a Beautiful Lady

This is a great photograph of Tricia, wife to my younger brother Anson's son, Michael. She is now entering her third trimester of pregnancy and all the Heagles are very excited - the first of the next generation - (It's a girl)!

Now, not only am I Uncle Larry, I will be GREAT uncle Larry! God bless and keep this beautiful lady healthy! We love her so!

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

RECENT INCREASE IN CANCER AMONG MY CIRCLE PUZZLING - UNTIL NOW

In the past year I had a very good friend and one acquaintance of my wife diagnosed with leukemia. I have another friend who underwent surgery for breast cancer - and another who is being treated for colon cancer. My own suspicion was that with this many occurrences - just within my own small circle of friends - that cancer must be due to our environment.

Recently I lunched with Bob "Bubba" Stanton who lives south of Eau Claire in a rural setting. He spoke of city trucks bringing loads upon loads of raw sewage from the Eau Claire treatment plant and spreading them on a farmer's crop land adjacent to Bubba's acerage. The smell, alone, was atrocious, and he finally went out and confronted the drivers, telling them that if they spread any more of this sludge near his property, he would take them to court.

This morning I found a news story about the much-publicized White House garden and it further proves what Mr. Stanton is so upset about and also why I think that cancer is running so rampant. Please read the story and pay particular attention to the fact that if you are not buying vegetables that are proven to have been grown organically, God only knows what you are ingesting.

The story:


When Michelle Obama created an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn earlier this year, the move was greeted with positive headlines and excitement among the food advocacy community. Here, we thought, was a First Lady who understood the importance of locally grown, whole and organic foods in her family's diet.

Unfortunately, something happened on the way to the realization of the First Lady's good intentions. Recently the National Park Service discovered that the White House lawn, where the garden was planted, contains highly elevated levels of lead -- 93 parts per million. It's enough lead for anyone planning to have children pick vegetables in that garden or eat produce from it to reconsider their plans: lead is highly toxic to children's developing organs and brain functions.

What caused this alarming contamination of the White House lawn? Some news outlets speculated that residue from lead paint might have caused the toxicity. However an article running on Mother Jones online http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2009/06/did-sludge-lace-obamas-veggie-garden-lead has a more probable explanation. During the 1990s, the Clintons agreed to have the South Lawn of the White House "fertilized" with ComPRO, a commercially available "compost made from a nearby wastewater plant's solid effluent, a.k.a. sewage sludge."

So, the White House lawn became a highly visible example of a little-known, widely conducted practice, "land application". This means disposing of sewage sludge by spraying it over public lands, including parks, and also on an untold number of acres of farmland where our food is grown. Sadly, it's completely legal under current, grossly inadequate EPA rules.

Apparently, the spreading of sewage sludge at the White House was a public relations ploy by the Environmental Protection Agency and, no doubt, the sludge industry to convince the public that using sludge in gardens and farms is as safe as using normal compost. The promotion didn't stop there; as part of its PR effort, EPA offered a $150,000 prize to the winner of a contest to re-brand sludge with a more benign sounding name. The chosen euphemism?: "biosolid". It's a term the agency and the industry consistently use to hide the reality of what sludge is.

So what is sludge, really? A stinking, sticky, dark-grey to black paste, it's everything homeowners, hospitals and industries put down their toilets and drains. Every material-turned-waste that our society produces (including prescription drugs and the sweepings of slaughterhouses), and that wastewater treatment plants are capable of removing from sewage, becomes sludge. The end product is a concentrated mass of heavy metals and carcinogenic, teratogenic, and hormone-disrupting chemicals, replete with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There are some 80,000 to 90,000 industrial chemicals, including a host of dioxin-like deadly substances, which are allowed to be present in sludge under current EPA rules. What's worse, there's no way of knowing which toxic chemicals and heavy metals are entering the wastewater stream at any given time or in what concentrations. Sludge is always an unknown quantity, and therefore, assessing whether sludge is safe to use for growing food, is -- in practice -- impossible.

Farmers who care about what they grow know this, and -- despite the best efforts of government and the sludge industry -- growing food in sewage sludge is prohibited under the federal organic regulations. Still, sludge is still widely used as a cheap alternative to fertilizer, and unless you're buying organic produce, it's impossible to know if the food you eat was grown in it.

Remarkably, the EPA creators of the sludge program claim they didn't anticipate any health problems to be associated with spraying sludge near people's homes or on their food. They assumed that natural conditions would disperse the toxins, and that bad bacteria would die as they naturally do in rich, aerobic soil and in compost. But sewage sludge is not soil; no matter how you treat it, it will never have the characteristics, either physical or biological, that make good soil and good compost so effective at killing human pathogens. It's toxic, and it lays there for years, still toxic.

So when people living or working in the vicinity of sludged fields and when diary cows and other farm animals grazing on sludged land have gotten sick from heavy metal, chemical or pathogen based maladies, the EPA has either ignored, denied or, in some cases, even fraudulently covered it up. However it's getting harder for the agency to ignore the toll of sludged land as we see increasing reports in adjacent communities of elevated levels of cancer or deaths believed to be related to sludge exposure. In some areas where sludge has been heavily used, whole families are evincing the same symptoms: sores in their nasal passages, chronic staph infections, crippling headaches and sinus troubles. Yet -- despite the mounting evidence -- EPA wants to continue to promote sludge as a benign alternative to fertilizer.

The Obamas may be the newest sludge victims. Certainly Michelle Obama's hopes of having a truly organic garden and healthy vegetables for her own children and other children who visit the White House have been dashed. The impact on their lives is symbolic; it's not just the Obamas under threat, it's all of us. Municipalities around the country have jumped on the bandwagon to sell their "biosolids" to sludge companies, a convenient solution to profitably rid themselves of hazardous waste. Over the last several years, we have all become unwilling guinea pigs, testing the safety of foods raised on sewage-sludged land. We're also unknowing guinea pigs, since none of this produce is labeled to show how it was grown.

What can you do about this? Buying certified organic produce raised under rules that forbid this practice is a safe start. Next, let's urge the EPA to place a permanent ban on "land application" of sewage sludge; our foods should never be grown in hazardous waste. And in the best spirit of NIMBY, the Obamas, after removing that contaminated soil from their lawn, should be the first family to push the EPA to halt the sludging of our public lands and farmlands.

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How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb?



1. Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned out bulb?




2. Border Collie: Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.




3. Dachshund: You know I can't reach that stupid lamp!




4. Rottweiler: Make me.




5. Boxer: Who cares? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.




6. Lab: Oh, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeeeze, please, please, please!




7. German Shepherd: I'll change it as soon as I've led these people from the dark, check to make sure I haven't missed any, and make just one more perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of the situation.




8. Jack Russell Terrier: I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the walls and furniture.




9. Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? I'm sorry, but I don't see a light bulb!




10. Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.




11. Chihuahua : Yo quiero Taco Bulb. Or 'We don't need no stinking light bulb.'




12. Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?




13. Australian Shepherd: First, I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle...




14. Poodle: I'll just blow in the Border Collie's ear and he'll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.




How many cats does it take to change a light bulb?


Cats do not change light bulbs. People change light bulbs. So, the real question is:


'How long will it be before I can expect some light, some dinner, and a massage?'



ALL OF WHICH PROVES, ONCE AGAIN, THAT WHILE DOGS HAVE MASTERS, CATS HAVE STAFF!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

PREVIOUSLY OWNED MAC WORKBOOK PRO A BIG HIT

Hard to believe that June has already slipped away! Today I am writing my first blog on my "new" MacBook Pro which arrived two days ago and spent yesterday being gone over with the proverbial fine tooth comb by the techs at MacMan just off Highway 12 - About three miles from the house. So I am parked on the couch and running off my ClearWire modem which for some reason pumps a lot more signal than I get at the office.

The MacBook is in really very good condition. Nothing was amiss during the check up. It is taking me awhile to get used to the touch pad as it is set up differently than the one on the Toshiba. The back lit keyboard is a nice feature.

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These great questions and answers are from the days when ' Hollywood Squares' game show responses were spontaneous, not scripted, as they are now. Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course..


Q... Paul, what is a good reason for pounding meat?
A. Paul Lynde: Loneliness!
(The audience laughed so long and so hard it took up almost 15 minutes of the show!)

Q. Do female frogs croak?
A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.

Q. If you're going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be
A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it.

Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years.
A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes.

Q. You've been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman?
A. Don Knotts: That's what's been keeping me awake.

Q. According to Cosmopolitan, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think that he is attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he's married?
A.. Rose Marie: No wait until morning.

Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?
A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency..

Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say 'I Love You'?
A. Vincent Price: No, you can say it with a pineapple and a twenty..

Q. What are 'Do It,' 'I Can Help,' and 'I Can't Get Enough'?
A. George Gobel: I don't know, but it's coming from the next apartment.

Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?
A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing old question Peter, and I'll give you a gesture you'll never forget.

Q. Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
A. Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Q. Charley, you've just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year?
A. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I'm too busy growing strawberries.

Q. In bowling, what's a perfect score?
A. Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.

Q. It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps. One is politics, what is the other?
A. Paul Lynde: Tape measures.

Q. During a tornado, are you safer in the bedroom or in the closet?
A. Rose Marie: Unfortunately Peter, I'm always safe in the bedroom.

Q. Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls?
A. Marty Allen: Only after lights out.

Q. When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail.. What will a goose do?
A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?

Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.

Q. According to Ann Landers, is there anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people?
A. Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army.

Q. It is the most abused and neglected part of your body, what is it?
A. Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused, but it certainly isn't neglected.

Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?
A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.

Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant?
A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?

Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex?
A. Charley Weaver: I'll lend him the car, the rest is up to him

Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?
A. Charley Weaver: His feet.

Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you should never do in bed?
A. Paul Lynde: Point and laugh


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