HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Winter Insulation Installed!

Okay! We survived the installation of 3M plastic on the house windows and are still talking to each other. Amazing but true. And I found out that Ms. Wilson is a lot better at putting up this plastic stuff than Blinky and I were last winter. There is nary a wrinkle or sag in any of the windows. By the time we got it all installed it was already dark (don't forget that daylight losing time starts tonight at midnight and that we must all fall back) which means it will be dark at 6PM.

While we were in the middle of hanging plastic the telephone rang and like a fool I answered it. It was a sales person from Clearwire asking to talk to Kim. Kim got on the phone and admitted to said agent that she was "crabby". All the morfe reason for celebration.

We celebrated the completion with a run to Culver's for supper. There were even some costumed folk there. A mime, a rabbit (or was it a mouse) and of course a princess. The kids got a free custard if they came in wearing a costume.

Found out in the news today that Blockbuster Video is biting the dust big time. Culprits are Netflix and Red Box. We stopped at Red Box on the way home after supper and picked up a video - "The Money Train" with Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. Way in the back of my mind I think I may have already seen it, but I'll be damned if I can remember anything about the plot except that I think they both work as security cops on a payroll subway and concoct a plan to get away with stealing said payroll. God it's great being 68 years old! Everything is new again!

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THIS AND THAT - WINTER IS COMING - CHECK OUT THE ELECTRIC BILL!

Today is the day of reckoning. Today is the day I have dreaded all week. Today is the day that we put up the 3M plastic window insulation, working together, hopefully, as a team to hold down our electric and fuel bills over the coming months. And it won't be a moment too soon! We just opened our October electric bill and for the first time since we moved into this house it is OVER TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!

I emphasized the word team because there are times when the wife and I try doing tasks together and invariably, tempers flare as patience wanes. It is one of the reasons that we stopped going out to Christmas tree lots to pick out a tree together. Ah, yes, the joys of joint marital decision making.

Last year my pal Blinky and I put up the plastic wrap and someone wasn't happy with the way it was installed. Too many wrinkles and creases. I can feel my bp rising just writing this. But one mustn't go onto the task with this state of mind. Think positively! Think positively!

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I don't need anybody to tell me that next tuesday is election day. My e mail box is full of every manner of political entity asking for contributions. Obviously they are unaware of my electric bill!

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Our house is a modified A frame which means that there are five wooden beams that run the width of the front of the house for support. I am estimating that they are about 12 feet above the floor below. The cats that preceded Hammy and Stella used to make us extremely nervous by climbing out on those beams, which at the most are four inches wide.
They would walk out there like tight rope artists and smile down upon us.

So when Hammy and Stella began doing the same trick we were already used to the routine but it still made us nervous. Then about two months ago, Hammy was executing a turn around on the beam just above the refrigerator when he lost has balance and fell with a glancing blow off the refrigerator - to the floor. He came up holding his right up in the air and we were at first afraid that he had probably broken it. I checked it over by feeling the entire length of his leg and he did not react in pain so i knew it was not broken. He favored it for a couple of days and then seemed to be okay.

But Kim noticed that if he tore after his sister during play, occasionally he would again start lifting the paw as if it was bothering him so we took him to the vet who after examining him thoroughly, declared that he had nothing noticeably wrong with the leg.

Then just two days ago, while both Kim and I were in the loft reading and watching TV, we heard the sound of claws scritching and then the sickening thud of a cat hitting the floor. We knew instantly which one it was because Hammy was stretched out on the love seat upstairs with us.

So I ran downstairs to find Stella looking somewhat dazed and holding a paw up in the air as Hammy had. After holding her for a while I checked the leg and again there was no sign of her being in great pain. In no time she was carrying on as usual. We have discussed putting up screening on the upstairs railings where they make their entrance onto the beams, but even with screening, there is no way we could stop them from leaping up onto the railing itself and then jumping down to the kitchen cupboard on the other side, so all we can do is hope for the best.

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Yesterday we took in a matinee of "This Is It" the film of Michael Jackson's rehearsals for the tour that was never to come to fruition. I must admit that I have never really been a Michael Jackson fan but after watching the film I came away with a whole new perspective on him.
He really was a greatly talented man! Here he was, at 50 years of age, and spending long grueling days teaching the dancers all the steps and moves. i don't think that any of the dancers were even half his age.
i admire the way he was "hands on" in all aspects of the show and he projected a brilliance in showmanship that I had not seen. I came away with a feeling of awe at what I had witnessed and this was just rehearsals.
The musicians in the band were the cream of the crop from all over the world - and I mean that was just one hell of a band!
All the way through the screening I kept thinking about how awful the news of his death must have been for those who had worked so hard to prepare for the tour.

I heartily recommend that you get out to see the film before it is gone. it is only going to be shown for two weeks, so don't put it off.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

DISH INSTALLER HAS COME AND GONE - COLD SWEAT WENT WITH HIM



Yesterday I wrote about signing up with DISH TV. The installer arrived at 8 AM - right on time! That, in itself, is miraculous. I helped him get his extended ladder up the side of our A frame, somewhat of a daunting task as it is nearly 40 feet to the peak.
Once he got up there and in position to shoot an azimuth I got the bad news. There are two oaks and a white pine obstructing a direct shot at the necessary satellite.

The installer, also Larry by the way, is a very pleasant man, and very knowledgable about his craft. He did a very thorough job checking on all possibilities but in the final analysis, there is just no way to put up the small dish without calling a tree service to come out and at great expense "top" three trees. In addition to expense, both Kim and I agree that we love where we live and would not disturb nature just for a better TV picture.

So this morning I am no longer in the cold sweat that I went to bed with last night and woke me up at 6 AM this morning. Instead, I called my big dish provider and renewed our subscription for another year at a pretty good reduced package price.

Actually, I am pretty happy that we are continuing to use the C Band dish (pictured) as I went through a lot of expense and time putting it in place.

I am certain if you went way back in "blogdom" you would find the whole story so I won't repeat it here again. I am proud to be a member of the ever decreasing population that uses C Band. We are aging dinosaurs and damn proud of it. I can remember that when I first started using the dish we got hundreds of channels at no cost - boy, it didn't take the industry long to figure out how stick it to us!

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I am lucky enough to know a guy named Jim Backus. No! Not the guy who played the part of Thurston Howell on Gilligan's Island and also did the cartoon voice of Mr. Magoo. No, this Jim Backus lives right here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I first met Jim when he was the owner of a garage on third street, across from where the Chicken Hut used to be as I lived at 2744 4th street just up the hill and one block over and Jim and crew serviced my work vehicles. He also serviced Robert "One Man" Johnson's classic old 1949 Chevrolet panel truck, a truck that took Bob all over the nation - including a trip all the way out to Oregon.

Jim has retired from being a grease monkey and has instead taken up photography and he is an amazing wild life photographer. I kid you not! He has jaw-dropping photos of wolves, bear, and all manner of wild life and in addition to giving art shows he is now selling books of his works.

Do yourself a favor and go to his web site at: www.magoophoto.com and you will see what I mean. I think it is really phenomenal that someone can move from knowing automotive science inside and out to find a whole new career in photography.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SLEEP APNEA MAKES ME GURGLE AND FART - SO?


I was quite surprised several weeks ago after finding out that I suffer quite badly with sleep apnea to find out how many of my own friends and acquaintances also suffer with some stage of it.

I am into my third or fourth week of wearing a full face sleep mask complete with humidifier/air hose. I am on the kind of machine that adjusts automatically to my breathing dysfunction while I am asleep. This has led to some very strange happenings throughout the night - well, mostly in the early mornings about 4;30 AM. Sometimes I am awakened by a gurgling sound of water condensation in the hose, sounding very much like some cartoon goldfish.

Other mornings I am awakened to winds coming down the hose at such a high rate that air is being forced against the soft edges of the rubber mask and erupting in disconcerting farting sounds coming off my cheeks. And I don't mean my nether cheeks, either!

My wife will be awakened by it about the same time I am and invariably will ask: "What are you doing??"

About a week ago I began to feel like I was getting more rest and was able to accomplish much during the day, including, I am proud to say, giving that damn bungalow I call my office a thorough cleaning. But the last two days I have been extremely tired and find it difficult to stay awake - even for rented movies that I have looked forward to viewing.

This friday I will be returning to my "sleep doctor" , computer card in hand from the machine and then I will see if all the gurgling and farting is doing me any good whatsoever.

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A couple of years ago we bought a high def TV - well, actually, we went through a living hell with the first high def purchase, a @#$%^&^% Hitachi. I wrote at length about it in this very blog and none of it was favorable. I will say it again: DO NOT BUY A HITACHI TELEVISION - THEY ARE HELL TO DEAL WITH IN STANDING BEHIND THEIR PRODUCT!

At or about the same time, I went away from using my C Band dish and we elected to go with Direct TV, yet another mistake as they are not only difficult to deal with but nickel and dime their customers to death. So we went back to the big dish and I bought a decoder for $350 which would allow us to get 5 channels of high definition TV - two HBO, two STARZ, and one Discovery.

This week, i tuned to G9 to watch some HBO in high definition and it had disappeared. I called my programmer to find that HBO had refused C Band permission to carry their signal. It has been a constant war against C Banders for years.

So today we signed up with DISH network. I am already in a cold sweat. I already have found that watching Eau Claire Channel 13, 18, and 48, off the little stick antenna on our garage brings in breath taking high definition picture. I have seen supposed high def on both Direct and Dish and I haven't been impressed with the signal but if you want morfe than six channels ----

I still am in a cold sweat.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In response to yesterday's blog, I got a very insightful response from my pal, Kirk Roebuck, who lives in Ohio and I think it is worth sharing:

Once, a long time ago, in my youthful naivete, I thought that Packer fans were “the best fans in football” and the
Cincinnati Reds fans were ”the best fans in baseball”. As I matured and aged, I found out that there is really no
Such animal as “the best fans in……..”

When your team is winning and in the middle of a dynasty, all the fans are happy and are “great fans”. The Reds of
The 70s—the big Red machine………….the Packers of the 60s and then the Packers of the 90s and in to the 2000s
(although make no mistake, I would never compare them the Lombardi’s packers)……………all was mostly good
and it is easy to root for winning teams, so the fans seem intelligent and classy.

Then adversity / controversy rears it’s ugly head, and fans true colors begin to show. These days even “hate” comes through.
So I just like to sit back, enjoy the games, and especially enjoy the controversy. Here in NE Ohio, the controversy and disgust
over the Browns is a thing of beauty!

I still like to pose the “what if” question………………what if Lombardi had lived and made the Redskins superbowl champs?
Would he have been a villain for leaving GB?

I also recall that no less an icon than Bart Starr was booed and hated when he coached the packers.

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Thanks, Kirk! You are right on the money!


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Monday, October 26, 2009

LOVE BRETT, HATE HIS UNIFORM

This coming sunday, November 1, will be an historic day as Brett Favre returns to play at Lambeau Field for the first time wearing a uniform other than that of the Green Bay Packers. It has been a long and curious journey for Brett since leaving the Packers after a tearful press conference two years ago.

At the time, Packer fans cried with him as we all felt as deeply about his retirement as he did. Howevr, i don't think many fans were surprised when he came out of retirement and signed with the New York Jets. Many Packer fans still cheered him on as a Jet QB, wearing the Jets green and white #4 jersey throughout the season.

When he announced to Coach Childress that he didn't have the heart to come back again this season, all of Wisconsin gave a sigh of relief. Then several weeks later, he joined the team that almost everybody from Wisconsin, especially those of us who live close to the Minnesota border, hates with more passion than any other team in the NFL.

But here we are, well into the season and Brett has led the Vikings to a great start at 6-1. Even though the Vikings only beat the Pack by a touchdown at the dome, it was pretty evident which of the teams was better.

Now they roll into Green Bay this sunday. I have been reading the papers this week and the question on everyone's mind is how will the Packer fans react to Brett when he runs out on the sacred frozen tundra?

The Milwaukee journal is taking a poll this week. Will fans boo him? Will they cheer him? Will they do nothing? Well, so far the results of the poll read: 57% will boo -- 21% will cheer -- and 22% will do nothing.

Personally, i find it appalling that anyone from Wisconsin would boo a man who bought so much to the game of football in the state of Wisconsin. Brett gave us sixteen years of dedicated blood, sweat, and tears. He played all out in every game - injured or not, he was at his position.

The man took us to two Super Bowls for God's sake! And you are going to BOO him?? How very small and embarrassing - Packer fans should have a lot more class than that.

If anyone deserves booing, it's Ted Thompson for his mishandling of not only the Favre situation but for some of the trades he has made.

Just yesterday during a discussion on sports radio some ninny is congratulating TT for bringing Mark Tauscher and running back Ahman Green into the fold. to my way of thinking, if he has to resort to bringing these players back it means he's made some rather dubious choices in the immediate past to make this necessary.

So come sunday, I will be cheering for Brett Favre and hoping like hell that #74 will get his licks and knock the ball out of his hands a couple of times. I have learned to love Brett and still hate his uniform!

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WANT PUBLIC OPTION? THE TIME TO RAISE SOME HELL IS NOW!

There is still a chance for real health care reform to happen. And there is a lot that all of us can do to help. According to polls most Americans want a public option to compete with private insurers. A public option is still possible and it is essential if we are going to have real health care reform. Big insurance and pharmaceutical companies don't want these reforms. That's why they are using their lobbying muscle and campaign contributions to stop them. What they call health care reform is thirty million new customers that will be required to buy health insurance along with tens of millions of boomers moving into the same old medicare. It'll b e a bonanza for them. But every dollar of added profit they'll get from he bill that comes out of congress will be another dollar out of your pocket that you will have to pay in higher insurance premiums and the cost of drugs.

What can we do? Well, first, don't be fooled into believing it's over. That's what the medical-industrial complex wants you to believe. If you make a ruckus and get all of your friends to join in as well, we can win this - for ourselves, for our children, and for their children. Each one of your elected representatives is keenly aware of how much effort you put into contacting them, so do what you can right now. E mail is better than nothing. A phone call is better than an e mail - a hand written letter is better than a phone call. A visit to their state or district office is even better - and a visit to their office in Washington DC is best of all.
The important thing is to reach out to your elected representatives to tell them how important the public option is.

Over the next few weeks house and senate leaders will put together bills to be voted on in each chamber and then go to a conference committee. The House will pass a pretty good bill and the president is on record as supporting the public option.
In the Senate though, it's a different story. Certain senators, although democrats, stand in the way of real reform. Now is the time to really raise some hell. Let's call them out! Don't let Big Pharma and Insurance take away YOUR money. You should have the right to choose a lower cost public option if you want. Any member of congress that that disagrees is voting for big pharma and insurance and against you.

AND IF THEY VOTE AGAINST YOU ON THIS - REMEMBER IT AND THEN VOTE AGAINST THEM WHEN THEY ARE UP FOR RE-ELECTION.

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This is an important notice from the CDC concerning Swine Flu. Please read closely and forward as you see appropriate.

As you were advised during an earlier department advisory letter, there is a distinct possibility of an outbreak of swine flu continuing in the United States. To facilitate identification and in order that you may be on the alert for indications that you or memebers of your family may have contracted the virus, you should be aware of the following symptoms:
1. Sore throat
2. Persistent slight headache
3. Nnausea or upset stomach
4. Uncontrollable urge to copulate in the mud.


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IN APPRECIATION OF FRIENDS

I want to start this blog by talking about a young man that I hold dear - both as a former student when I was his Journalism teacher and now as a good friend who is always so delightful to spend time with.

Kurt Weber works as an eye glass consultant in the Twin Cities. We communicate mostly by e mail as he hates the telephone. I am with him on that! Telephones are a necessary evil. They should only be used to set up a meeting - and that should take only a minute at most!
Kurt drove all the way down to Eau Claire just to have dinner with me at Draganetti's last friday- then turned around and drove back to the Cities as he had to work on saturday morning. How's that for friendship?

He has maintained the same wonderful sense of humor that he had in 9th grade and he always makes me laugh. I th ink what impresses me most about him is his genuine concern about those friends who are close to him. That and the fact that he is a "cat person" makes him more than okay with me!
So thank you, Kurt for going out of your way to brighten my life!

My friend Tiit Raid, who in addition to being one of the best visual artists I know - and a sculptor of sound and rhythm - is also the best observer of life that I know. Just read the e mail I got from him recently:"

It's been raining since I got up this morning. The sky is an even gray, and a hour past high-noon it is still coming down and it looks like it might turn into sleet soon. A day like this is, or can be, a bummer for some. But, it is an amazingly beautiful day.

Gray day colors are seemingly drab. They are simply subtler and require more attention to notice their elegance. Then, add the wetness of rain, and the colors become rich and vibrant. The greens seem greener and the intensity of the now duller fall yellows and organges are 'kicked up' a couple of notches. The tree trunks and branches darken with the rain, creating more contrast in tone, plus the rain makes everything kind of 'glisten' in the wetness.

Being out in this slightly breezy wetness for any length of time may not be the most fun, but looking at it from the warm comfort of the house it is a very enjoyable 'visual trip'.

Tiit

Now that is a man who is really in touch with his surroundings and is squeezing every ounce out of life as if it were as giant grape fruit..

On the other hand, I can't find my other sock this morning and just as I wrote this I reached down to see if my cell phone is really with me on my belt!

It is monday morning and I am over here at the office with a good stoked stove and a hot cup of coffee. Looking out my desk window I see that my favorite maple has done it's quick strip tease and dropped all its leaves, probably during the rain of last saturday.

I spent most of last week cleaning over here with the help of my love, Ms. Wilson, and it is back to being a living space again! I really should take pictures!
Every time i thoroughly clean, i make a vow that THIS TIME i am going to keep up with the picking up of clutter and washing the floors and dusting and yada yada.

i wonder how long that will last this time? Yikes! 10:30 already and I haven't begun to clean up for our lunch meeting with my oldest brother and wife!

Later!

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baltimore Ravens So Named Because Edgar Allen Poe Called Baltimore Home

This is the latest and hopefully THE LAST helmet in my collection. I just can't keep going with this hobby anymore! I am running out of room to display them!

This, of course, is a lilkeness of the Baltimore Ravens head gear. It is a Schutt helmet that I won on ebay about a week or so ago and I managed to find the correct decals on line.

When the helmet arrived, it was pretty beat up. I did a lot of cleaning and polishing - enough to cover up some of the worst of the scars - I think this one came from a high school team in California and I think it was worn by a player who got a lot of time on the field with it.

So, hopefully, this is the last helmet! I am proud to say there is not a Viking helmet in my collection.

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An Open Letter To the Minnesota Viking Faithful

Dear Viking fans:

I was able to catch the end of your game with the Pittsburgh Steelers today just after the Green Bay Packers handed the Cleveland Browns their lunch with a 31-3 drubbing in Cleveland.

For a moment it looked like old man Favre was going to do it again, eh? I can imagine how excited you must have been! But then there was that interception and run back that put it away for the Steelers. I felt so bad for all of you. After all, he descended like Jesus himself on a cloud above the Blowhard dome and performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes a couple of times in a row.

He's like that. you know. Maybe you will get used to it. Sometimes he throws those darn interceptions at such inopportune times.
If you have time, you really should drive to Green Bay and plop your bottom on a bar stool at any of the many sports bars in Title Town.

Folks there can tell you how many times the old gunslinger won the big games just at the last moment. They will also tell you that he sometimes can't quite get his gun out of its holster - and it will happen at a very crucial time.

Now here's the thing. If you are going to love him when he wins, then you will have to learn to love him when he loses too -or you will return to being miserable and heartbroken again.

Good luck with the rest of your season. And remember: "IT IS JUST A GAME".

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First Photos of the New "Heaglet"

Presenting Miss Mila Lilu Heagle
Born on Sat.Oct.17,2009 at 5:55am at the Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St.Louis Park, MN.
Weighed 8# 21 inches long

I received this first photo of my grand niece in the e mail yesterday. I haven't had a chance to talk to Mike or Tricia about the origin of her names, but that should be interesting, no?

At any rate, mucho congratulations to the happy new parents and grandparents - the first of a new generation of Heagles. Not sure that there will be a lot more of them with this generation as neither of my sons are soon to be procreating - and the same goes for my oldest brother's girls.

I'm certainly not saying this is a bad thing with the world the way it is. We already have way too many people on this poor planet.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

SOLVING THE CASE OF THE MISSING CELL PHONE WITH DETECTIVE IDIOT

Yesterday was bonkers! In addition to trying to outrun the impending snow storm while stacking firewood, after I bid my friend Tom adieu, I ran several errands including trips to Perkins, Menard's (twice) and White Glass to pick up custom made shelving.

About mid-afternoon, just about the time we were going to take Hammy the cat to the veterinarian, I discovered that my cell phone was not in its holster attached to my belt. Nor was the holster! I have had the darn thing for what? 11 years without ever misplacing it?

Just last week I was giving Kim a hard time about having to call Cindy to help her locate her cell phone. Now here I was - in the same embarrassing situation, having a major "senior moment". So I picked up the land line and dialed my cell - AND THE LINE WAS BUSY!!

Now, of course, I am convinced that it must have fallen off while I was out running errands and someone else is now using up the $21.64 that I had left on the phone!

While I was waiting for my glass shelving at White's, I asked if I could use their phone.
"Sure, go ahead," says the nice clerk. I dial the number and this time it rings through. It rings and rings until I hear my voice come on about leaving a message.

I leave a message asking whoever found the phone to call me at my home number. I drive home in hopes that when I get there Kim will have good news for me. No good news. Nobody has called.

I then call Perkins and Menard's and ask if anyhone has turned in a cell phone. Negative. I dial my cell number again and it rings through and I leave another message for the bastard that has my phone.

We take Hammy in to see the doctor as Kim is worried about the way he sometimes favors his right front paw. The doc examines the right leg thoroughly and tells her it's all in her head.

We leave and all the way home in the car I am grousing about the bastard who found my phone and is probably using all my minutes up calling someone in Rangoon. Kim asks what makes me so sure that someone has the phone. I tell her it's because the first time I tried to call the cell, someone was using it - and I got a busy signal. -- And now they aren't answsering the phone at all, even though I've left two messages to call me.

Kim then puts forth the far-fetched notion that someone may have been dialing the cell phone at the same time I was. Why don't I go over to the office and try calling the number again?

So away I go, stumbling through the rain turning to snow, into the office and mumbling about how far-fetched Kim's thinking is. I dial the phone and -- and -- I HEAR IT RINGING. IT'S SOMEWHERE IN THE OFFICE.

Before I can locate the ringing sound, the answer machine kicks in. I try again, this time in the back of the bungalow because that's generally where it is coming from. I dial - it starts ringing - and leads me to the coat hanger in the back hall. The damn thing is in the coat pocket of my rain coat! I then remember I put it in there while I was stacking wood so I wouldn't miss any "important" calls.





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Last night we went to Mike's Smokehouse for their friday night fish. As we are leaving the parked vehicle I begin bitching to Kim: "Damn it! I forgot my glasses again!" Kim starts laughing at me. I am WEARING my glasses.

TIME TO PUT ME IN THE HOME!!!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

NEITHER RAIN NOR IRISH WHISKEY SHALL KEEP US FROM OUR STACKING ROUNDS!

Upon my return from last saturday's Blugold football game I found, to my dismay, that my stove wood had been delivered while I was at the game.

Last year the two young men who delivered it were easily cajoled into stacking the wood for me with a twenty dollar bill. But this year, no such luck.
So I e mailed the one man I felt would come to my rescue as we have done each other favors over the years: Mr. Tom Johnson, composition teacher extraordinaire from Madison, Wisconsin.

Tom got in about 11:30 AM on thursday and we immediately set to work on the six cord of wood. (Somehow I have managed to get the pictures here out of order, but as you can see from the photos, it wasn't long and we had completely filled the right side of the porch before we took a break and I fed Tom with what really sealed the deal to get him gto drive all the way up here and work so hard for: "A Blinky" pizza.

Without going in to great detail, a long time ago we gave each other nicknames, as manly men will. While traveling to Green Bay to catch a game in person, I noticed that Tom was blinking quite a lot. He had gone under a procedure on his eyes and was still experiencing some discomfort. Hence I began calling him "Blinky" and as revenge he named me Little Bladder Man for gthe number of stops I caused for bath room use on the way.

A "blinky" pizza is Tom's own idea of ingredients: mozarella, sauce, Italian sausage, and jalepeno-stuffed green olives. This is a great pizza but not for the faint of heart! For dessert I made him his favorite pie, banana cream.

By the time we had dined it was already dark and we were both so stiff and sore that we called it a day, wondering if we would even be able to get up this morning.

Surprisingly, I was up and at 'em by 8AM and popped for breakfast at Perkins by 8:30. It had started to rain, so we donned rain gear and managed to finish off the task at hand by noon. A trip to the nearby Menard's provided the lovely blue tarps pictured.
Before Tom hit the road (he has to teach a saturday morning class) he helped me solve my faulty front office door problem with another quick trip to good old Menard's. I have a lot more faith in Tom's mechanical aptitude than I have in my own, so with a little begging I managed to keep him on premises until that was fixed.
So I wish to extend a big thank you to Tom Johnson for coming to the rescue in my time of need. Truth is, we both enjoy each other's company so neither of us really felt like it was work. We consumed more than one 'Kugel and even had a wee dram of Jameson's fine Irish whiskey while we played a football board game that I invented and am in the process of getting the kinks out of --
I got an e mail from Mr. Johnson earlier this evening and he is threatening to bring his football team "Johnson's Juggernauts" back into my stadium to make it two in a row having beat my ass 28 to 24 in our first game.

THANKS, TOM. YOU ARE A GOOD FRIEND! COME BACK SOON. YOU ALWAYS HAVE A WARM SAFE PLACE TO COME TO RIGHT HERE JUST OUT OF TOWN!


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

VIKINGS, PATRIOTS TO FACE OFF IN SUPER BOWL

After watching the Green Bay Packers shut out the Lions, 26-0, I came away with a strong feeling that this is not a very good football team - and I ain't talking about the Lions. We will be lucky to go 8-8 this season.

The Vikings, on the other hand, have this aging quarterback who has always played his best when he has a chip on his shoulder - and boys and girls, Mr. Favre's chip this year is an incredible biggie, the size of the IDS building. He has always been the guy who says: "tell me I can't do it - I will prove you wrong." Well, he will prove you wrong until he comes up against the juggernaut that is the Patriots.

I am making my Super Bowl prediction right here and right now: It is going to be the New England Patriots vs the Minnesota Vikings and Randy Moss is going to have an incredible day - as the saying goes: "sticking it to his old team mates".

That will make it 0-5 for the purple and gold in the Big Show. And it might be just enough to get the old man waffling his way out of the league next year.

You read it here in October.

___________________________________________________________________

I got another "newsy" e mail from my world traveling friend, Robert "One Man" Johnson and I want to pas it along to those of my readers who know him:

Margery and I decided to take our October break in Khao Lak, the area on the Andaman Sea that was so hard hit by the Tsunami five years ago. We flew into Phuket airport, rented a car and drove the 100k up to our resort on the beach. It is what we would call a five star place. Our room even had a swim-out pool area where you just step into the water outside your sliding door. She found the place online and it was only 200 bucks for 7 nights. The hotel was almost empty. We only saw a few other people the first two nights, although a large group of Russian tourists showed up yesterday. It is low season because of the monsoon, but you get the idea that people are still creeped out about the events of five years before.

I brought my golf clubs with me and decided to go out yesterday. Margery said she would spend the day beach-combing and swimming and maybe have a spa treatment. I drove about 20 minutes south to the Tulambu Royal Navy Golf course. I checked in and paid my greens fee and, as I was heading to hole #1, two geezers were just going into the clubhouse. I asked them if they were a twosome and could I join them?

One was a Brit named Peter, 77 years old, but amazingly fit. He had been living in the area for almost 25 years. The other guy, who bore a striking resemblance to my uncle Vernon Valentine Johnson, was a Swede who had come to Thailand 10 years earlier after his wife had died and he has since never left. His face looked so compellingly familiar I had to ask him where he had come from in Sweden. He replied, "Skane". Wow! That is the area where both my grandmother and grandfather emigrated from in the late 1800s. I told him of my lineage and how much he resembled my family members and he was amazed. We joked and laughed the whole way like long lost relatives.

Peter was very nice, but a bit more reserved. He had few stories, but when I made a poor shot, I just said, "Never mind. It's a beautiful day!" Neither of them were long hitters, but very straight and consistent with all their shots. We played match play and I only won two holes. Erik, who had broken his back a few years before, swung only with his arms but still hit short straight shots and won four holes. Peter was a lefty and at 77 played really well. He won six of the holes and the rest were ties. They were long-time members and really knew the course well. It had the most water and sand of any course I have played.

The golf course, though difficult, was beautiful. It ran along the seaside with a mix of palm trees, hardwoods of some kind, and a weird tree with roots that went down from high limbs and then bored into the ground. Birds of all kinds were chirping away. Lots of exotic flowers were growing everywhere. Our caddies were really excellent (caddies are mandatory in Thailand). My caddie was adept at reading my mind and handing me the right club, giving me my water bottle when I was thirsty, and also offering good advice on putts. She laughed and smiled the whole time. She was caddie number 31 (they did not have name tags).

The subject of the tsunami came up as the three of us were were teeing off on Number 16, a beautiful hole with the sandy beach on the right for the entire distance. Erik, the Swede, said that he had been having breakfast with his Thai wife and saw the gigantic wave coming. He was on his second floor balcony and when the water came, he was just plain confused. He remembers he first got up on his chair and then he got on top of the table. He and his wife both grabbed the edge of the roof and held on for dear life. There is a big reef running alongside his beach area and he reckons that that is what saved his life. He said he saw his car float away out of the corner of his eye.

When the wave subsided, he ran down to where the car had beached, opened the car door and let the water out, put the key in and amazingly started the car and began frantically trying to help find survivors in the area. Peter the Englishman had very little comment about that day. Many people lost friends and relatives.

The Tulambu Royal Navy Golf course is also a barracks area for Thai sailors and their families. All of them were killed in their housing units. The club house, which was of heavy concrete construction survived, although all the windows were blown out and the place was completely filled with sand from the beach. The staff on duty that day and all of the golfers and the caddies out on the course were washed away and drowned except for one caddie who climbed up into a tree and held on as the 60 foot wall of water washed through.

31 must be a lucky number.


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

Saturday, October 17, 2009

FOOTBALL AND BEAUTIFUL LADIES - IT DON'T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THAT

This was one memorable saturday. The Blugolds came home from a number of road games to play the PlattEville Pioneers for homecoming 2009. The sun even made a couple of appearances during the game and the game itself was a real barnburner with the score switching back and forth until the Blugolds put it away deep into the fourth quarter.
Kim came with me and Judy who always accompanies my Blugold junkie friend Wil met us in the parking lot.It was a great afternoon and I have to say this: The Eau Claire University Marching Band is the best damn marching band in the state if not the nation. They put on a hell of a show before the game and at half time. They are also the best cheering section in the stadium and woe be the visiting team that's trying to score in the end zone where they are holding forth.

We came home just long enough to catch our breath and then headed down to the State Theatre for an evening with the Eau Claire Symphony and special guest, Geoff Keezer. Geoff is probably the single most talented guy to come out of Eau Claire. He not only is an incredible jazz pianist, but his writing matches his other abilities.

It was a very worthwhile concert and I am glad that Kim talked me into going. Sometimes I am pretty hard to convince to do anything.

We came back from the football game to find that my stove wood had been delivered while we were at the game - this, of course, after I finally found a dead oak on the office property that is going to provide a lot of free BTU's once I get her cut down and split.

Stay warm this winter! I intend to!

________________________________________________________

FIVE LESSONS ABOUT THE WAY WE TREAT PEOPLE

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.





During my second month of college, our professor

Gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student





And had breezed through the questions until I read

The last one:


"What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the

Cleaning woman several times. She was tall,

Dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name?




The last question would count toward our quiz grade..



"Absolutely, " said the professor. "In your careers,

You will meet many people. All are significant. They

Deserve your attention and care, even if all you do

Is smile and say "hello."



I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her

Name was Dorothy.



2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain



One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American

Woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway

Trying to endure a lashing rain storm.. Her car had

Broken down and she desperately needed a ride.

Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally

Unheard of in those conflict-filled 19 60's. The man

Took her to safety, helped her get assistance and

Put her into a taxicab.



She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his

Address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a

Knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a

Giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A

Special note was attached.



It read:

"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway

The other night. The rain drenched not only my

Clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along.

Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying

Husband's' bedside just before he passed away... God

Bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving

Others."

God Bless You,

Mrs. Nat King Cole


3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those

Who serve..



In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less,

A 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and
Sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in

Front of him.


"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.



The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and

Studied the coins in it.



"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.



By now more people were waiting for a table and the

Waitress was growing impatient..



"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.



The little boy again counted his coins.



"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.



The waitress brought the ice cream, put t he bill on

The table and walked away The boy finished the ice

Cream, paid the cashier and left.. When the waitress

Came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the
Table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,

Were two nickels and five pennies..


You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had

To have enough left to leave her a tip.



4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.



In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a

Roadway.. Then he hid himself and watched to see if

Anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the

King's' wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by

And simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the

King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did

Anything about getting the stone out of the way.



Then a peasant came along carrying a load of

Vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the

peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the

stone to the side of the road... After much pushing

and straining, he finally succeeded. After the

peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed

a purse lying in the road where the boulder had


from the King indicating that the gold was for the

person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The

peasant learned what many of us never understand!



Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve

our condition.



5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...



Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a

hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who


was suffering from a rare & serious disease... Her only

chance of recovery appeared to be a blood

transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had

miraculously survived the same disease and had

developed the antibodies needed to combat the

illness. The doctor explained the situation to her

little brother, and asked the little boy if he would

be willing to give his blood to his sister.



I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a

deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save

her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed

next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing

the color returning to her cheek. Then his face

grew pale and his smile faded.



He looked up at the doctor and asked with a

trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away".



Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the

doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his

sister all of his blood in order to save her.








Most importantly..... "Work like you

don't need the money, love like you've never been

hurt, and dance like you do when nobody's watching."

_______________________________________________________________________

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SHAPING UP 4888 HOBBS FOR THE WINTER

After pretty much abandoning "the office" for the summer, I decided I had best winterize the place, Basically what that means is getting lots of boxed mouse poison and setting it out as this is the time of year when my furry little buddies try to move in and start chewing on the wiring.

Wonderful Kim has helped me with several projects, including the one pictured here. I have put together so many NFL helmets that I needed to go out to Menard's and get some shelving to display them all properly.
We had the usual fun trying to locate the studs to hang the shelves properly. either we missed altogether, or we would hit something that must have been made out of kryptonite because the bit would start smoking and Kim was certain I was burning the office down.

As you can see, I didn't burn the office down.

A couple of days ago, we took most of the day emptying out the refrigerator and freezer, cleaning all surfaces with lysol, and unplugging the unit. No sense in running a refrigerator when there is nothing in it. If and when I get company I can always turn it back on. It only took me gten years to figure that out!

One day I went over there during a rain storm to find the roof is leaking! Ah, yes - when it rains, it pours -- or in this case it drips.

Called the handyman and got the estimate: $1450. (sigh). And the wood stove needs to be re-lined with fire brick before I can start using it this winter.

It's a money pit!

__________________________________________________________

I got a wonderfully newsy e mail from my pal Robert "One Man" Johnson who is back overseas again this year. I'm hoping he won't mind if I share it with you. If he minds, I will take it down. Here it is:

Got an email this morning canceling my meeting with 'Don' (his real name is probably something like Toraporn Chonaphat) a guitar maker/repair person. Too bad, I was looking forward to the visit and establishing a relationship with the guy. I will try again to get with him after our October break.

I went out last night to hear music with a Kiwi guy named Peter Johnson. We also golf together. He is a music fan, especially 'blues'. I now put that in quotes because I am finding that the current 'blues-mania' phase, which is also prevalent in Thailand, means specifically 'Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan Music'. I am discovering that very few of the listeners have yet to go backward to the roots of blues, and the concept of rural blues is really quite a novelty. This is a good deal for me here, as I tend to talk about the music from the stage anyway. Once an educator, always an educator.

So, we went first to a cool place called Saxophone. Large place with two levels, good sound system and great dark ambience with no smoking. They have music 7 nights a week starting at 7:30 and it ranges from trad jazz and big band to 'blues' to a group of college kids trying to play Monk and Coltrane. In between the first two groups performing last night, I was allowed to do a three song guest set. I chose one of mine, Blues is a Feeling and then did Yonder's Wall from Junior Parker (slyly explaining its connection to Stevie Ray Vaughan's version of Boot Hill) and then did a BB King, It's My Own Fault. Lots of applause from a small early-evening audience. The manager paid for my tab and gave me a business card and requested my contact info. So, maybe...

Then we went to a tiny little club called Ad Here. Six tables and 10 stools with seating outside for the cigarette smokers. The first act was a guy singing and playing standards from a fakebook. Things like Mack the Knife and Somewhere Over a Rainbow but done in a 'swing' style. No chops and a bad Thai accent, but he was joined by a soprano sax player who improvised all over the top of stuff in a very hip way. I had done a guest set there a couple of weeks before so didn't ask to play but waited for the second band.

Interesting group comprised of a 50 year old German guitar player, a 15 year old Thai kid on a beatup 70s Strat, a 30 something skin-head Thai drummer, a Thai 5-string bassist with black hair down to his butt and a burnt-out 60 year old Brit who sang OK but played horrible 'blues' harp through a cool 50's Kalamazoo amp. Their set started unevenly with a couple of 'Allman Brothers tunes' and Stevie Winwood's Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.

Just as I was about to give up on them, they really lit up on a couple of Howling Wolf tunes (a very high speed version of Killing Floor and then a super-slow version of Sitting on Top of the World), a good 'non-Cream, non-Robert Johnson' version of Crossroads, another Howling Wolf tune (can't remember which one) and closed the set with a guest-Thai singing Tore Down. What made it all work was that they were tight and well rehearsed but didn't copy the songs, letting each guy improvise on the sections.

They were really good players (except the harp) and the young Thai boy was very strong, eyes closed, some sort of savant type. I will go back to this place many times this year, I think. I drank several Chang Beers and got home too late, but I didn't have to work today!


____________________________________________________________

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR BANANA HAS GONE BAD!

DON'T LET THE PUBLIC OPTION DIE - TAKE ACTION NOW!

Dear reader:
The Senate Finance Committee, led by Senator Max Baucus, passed a health
care reform bill without provisions for a public health insurance option.

This opens the door to procedural shenanigans that could prevent the
public option from ever being considered on the floor of the Senate, which
would make it much harder for the public option to be included in the
final bill that lands on the president's desk.

We can't sit back and let the public option die. So I have told Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid to make sure a public option is included in the
health care reform bill that goes to the floor of the Senate.

I hope you will too. Just click the link below.

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/po_senreid/?r_by=6318-829117-OMA1LIx&rc=mailto1

____________________________________________________________________


"The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished and, before the morning was over, I finished off a bottle of Pinot Noir, a package of Oreo Cookies, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates.

____________________________________________________________________








"In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play." — Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (1844-1900)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

THIS HALLOWEEN'S SCARIEST MASKS


Yes, these are definitely the three scariest Halloween masks of 2009! I wonder if you will be able to wink while wearing the Palin mask?
And I wonder if you will be able to ask for money while trick-or-treating wearing a Bernie Madoff? Better look out though -- you will end up in a fight behind bars!
The really nice thing about wearing a Dubbya mask is you can get shit face drunk and make about as much sense constructing sentences as he did while he was in office. Or am I "misremembering" that?



HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY.

_________________________________________________________________

FAVRE IS A REAL STUD!

After watching Brett Favre demolish my team last monday on Monday Night Football, I drove back home (I can't get ESPN on my C Band) marveling at his abilities. Now granted, his offensive line gave him incredible protection - Hell, he could have made himself a sandwich, consumed it, and had a cigarette and he still would have had time to find his receivers down field, but how can anybody really dislike his greatness?

I think the network should have had a "picture in picture" shot of Ted Thompson for the entire game. I am not overly fond of the guy.

And granted, Favre's waffling, waffling, and waffling some more in the off season got really old for Green Bay fans. But the guy really loves the game and nobody plays it with more young-at-heart enthusiasm. So with the Vikings at 5-0, I am predicting that Brett will get his third chance at the Lombardi trophy this year. All he has to do is stay healthy and hope that AP stays healthy also.

If the Vikings lose games it will be the ones that the old man has to play in sub-freezing temperatures. His 40 year old body just can't handle the cold the way it used to.

How ironic would it be if this former Packer QB becomes the man to finally take the Queens to the Super Bowl and they actually WIN???

____________________________________________________________

The swine flu is back in the news again. TV news is busy trying to scare the Bejesus out of all of us. So as a public service, I am listing the correct steps in washing hands to prevent illness:

1. Wet hands with very warm (not hot enough to burn) water.
2. Apply soap.
3. Wash front and back of hands, thumbs, between fingers, both wrists and forearms and under all finger nails.
4 Rub lathered hands together for at least 20 seconds. (long enough to sing ABC's)
5. Rinse hands off
6. Dry hands with a disposable paper towel.
7. Turn off faucet with paper towel.

- if using public rest room -

use paper towel to pull open exit door

________________________________________________________________

Work as a performer has completely disappeared. The subject of "gigs" is the elephant in the room at our house. Good thing we don't have debtor's prison in this country. And thank God for Social Security checks even though they don't cover my bills entirely.

And somehow it seems unfair that the self-employed cannot draw unemployment.

_________________________________________________________________

THIS JUST IN! (I've always wanted to say that!)

The 'Middle Wife' by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher

I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they're welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. 'This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday.'

'First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.'

She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

'Then, about 20two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, 'Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!' Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. 'She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!' (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

'My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.' (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)

'And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!' (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)

'Then the middle wife starts saying 'push, push,' and 'breathe, breathe.
They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom's play-center, (placenta) so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there.'

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I'm sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, when it's show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another 'Middle Wife' comes along.

________________________________________________________________

NOTE: To my pal MPLSPCKR: Scott Norwood is the correct answer! You are Good!

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

Friday, October 9, 2009

AUTUMN - WHEN A COOK'S THOUGHTS TURN TO SOUP RECIPES





With the first frost, the smell of dying leaves in the air, and the beauty of greens, browns, and grays that Fall brings to the surrounding Wisconsin landscape, my thoughts turn to the soul satisfying warmth of really home made soups. I have two genuine favorites. The first, I am proud to say, is a concoction of my own I call "Pot Roast Soup" as a 4-5 pound pot roast is the key ingredient.

I am a fan of the crock pot because it allows you to simmer ingredients over night with no fear of spoiling the simmering stock.
Here is my recipe:

POT ROAST SOUP

1 pot roast, 4 to 5 lb
1 beef soup bone
3 cans Swanson beef stock (refill cans with water and add to stock)
handful of fresh green beans, trimmed, cut up
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 large potato, diced
1 16 oz can whole tomatoes with juice, chopped up
beef bouillon (I LOVE "Better Than Bouillon", pkg'ed in jars)
McCormick's garlic/pepper seasoning in a grinder jar

In a large crock pot or soup kettle:

Put the three cans of beef stock into crock pot and simmer while you:
brown the soup bone and pot roast, grind some McCormick's on it too
Add the browned bone and pot roast to the stock and add three equal cans of water
Add three healthy tsp of the "Better Than Bouillon" to the mix as well

simmer for at least two hours ( on high w/ crock pot)

remove meat and bones, set aside
skim stock and strain thru cheesecloth

add the chopped vegetables to the stock then:
in a rather large dice, cut up the pot roast, removing all the fatty parts
If soup bone has meat, add that as dice also

Simmer for several hours. Like any soup, this gets better as it ages and is re-heated.

It is great autumn fare.

This next recipe is one that I found years ago while I was on the road, performing in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, at the Mead Inn. Many times while I was on the road I would fill my motel stay day with trips to the local library and seek out cook books with recipes that appealed to me. I found a German cook book in the Rapids library (I wish I had written the name of the book down and purchased a copy of my own - but that's hind sight). I copied several excellent recipes from that book, including a very tasty Sauerbraten.

The following recipe is one of my all time favorite soups. What's really maddening is I misplaced it for several years. Just this week I stumbled upon it tucked between the pages of another of my cook books that was over at the office. So late last night I went out and bought the ingredients and went to work on the most time consuming part of the recipe, the chopping up of the various vegetables into a fairly uniform dice, about a one inch dice.

Kim and I had our first serving for lunch today. Terrific!

Kartoffelsuppe (pictured)
(The BEST German Potato Soup Recipe)

Ingredients:

2 lbs potatoes
about 3 pints water
2 carrots
1 14 ounce can tomatoes (chopped)
1 leek
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
4 ounces bacon
1 large onion
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped chives
4 tablespoons sour cream
salt, pepper
______________________________________________________________

Cut peeled potatoes, carrots. leek, celery, and tomatoes, into small dice. Put with water in a slow cooker. Cook on high until potatoes fall apart. Whisk until a smooth texture is achieved. (I use my electric mixer with it set on a medium speed) Season with salt and pepper. Add the sour cream. Fry the bacon untiil crisp/ crumble it. Cook chopped onion in bacon fat. Stir bacon and onions into the soup. Sprinkle with chives and parsley and serve with a good German rye with caraway seed or pumpernickel bread.

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

Lemon Meringue Pie (pictured)

2 packages Jello cook and serve pudding
4 large fresh lemons or a bag of small fresh lemons
1 prepared 9 inch (not bought) single pie crust

Prepare pie crust following your favorite recipe. Recently I discovered that James Beard's suggestion of filling the unbaked pie crust with uncooked white beans to keep the crust's shape works well. I store the beans in a plastic bag and reuse them whenever I make a pre-baked single pie crust.

Follow the directions on the Jello package, doubling the ingredients for one pie. I deviate from the recipe by squeezing enough fresh lemon juice to make at least one half cup. You will find that this really makes a wonderful difference in contrast between the sweet of the meringue and the tartness of the lemon filling.

____________________________________________________________

Monday, October 5, 2009

IF YOU CAN'T SEE WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE YOU MUST BE A REPUGNICAN

From today's headlines:

WellPoint health insurance company, which has encouraged its employees to lobby against health care reform, is now cutting their benefits.
The insurance giant plans to raise deductibles and premiums for some of its employee health benefits. "Your cost per paycheck will probably increase," said a memo to Wellpoint employees that was obtained by Bloomberg News.
The company blamed the recession for the cuts. "Like many employers in today's economic environment, we are looking at all aspects of our business," including benefits, "and making adjustments to ensure we can continue to operate competitively in the future," wrote Chief Human Resources Officer Randy Brown.

WellPoint's CEO, Angela Brady, made nearly $10 million in 2008.

WellPoint illegally pressured California employees this summer to fight health care reform, according to Consumer Watchdog. "Regrettably, the congressional legislation, as currently passed by four of the five key committees in Congress, does not meet our definition of responsible and sustainable reform," said the company's Anthem Blue Cross unit in a company e-mail. The proposals would hurt the company by "causing tens of millions of Americans to lose their private coverage and end up in a government-run plan."
A House investigation found that WellPoint also rewarded employees for finding ways to drop policyholders who developed expensive conditions -- a practice known as rescission.

_______________________________________________________

May I add:

Even worse than the party of NO are the whores from the Democrat party that are joining forces with the insurance companies because they like all that money they make by whoring for them. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Don't ever try to tell me that cats don't know how to think! Recently I bought Hammy and Stella a kind of cool toy : It is a "mouse" that is attached to a springy string and is clamped to the top of the bath room door.

Sometime ago, Stella decided that she liked to perch on top of the small book case we have in the bathroom, so eventually we put a little gray bed up there for her to jump up into and rest or watch bathroom goings on. You haven't lived until you've stepped out of the shower naked to the gaze of cat eyes.
One day Stella decided she wanted to be able to reach the hanging mousey while snuggling in her little bed. Kim and I watched with amazement as she slowly closed the bathroom door, moving the prize ever closer to her perch. Then she would make a leap up into her bed and then would reach out and bat at the string with her paw, but couldn't get the mouse up high enough to capture it.
Last night I was making my middle of the night nature call when I discovered THIS! Stella had actually captured her prey and was sitting on it in her bed! Maybe you don't think this is a big deal, but it took a lot of thinking nd figuring out how to get the mouse where she could reach it.

I still don't know how she was able to get it up as high as her perch. But here is photographic proof that cats can think!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'VE GOT A BRAND NEW HERO AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, HE'S FROM FLORIDA!

Watching the real news last night not FAUX news, I saw an interview with Alan Grayson that had me cheering out loud! Here's an article from The Nation that will tell you why:

Congressman Grayson Has Just Begun to Fight
posted by JOHN NICHOLS on 10/01/2009 @ 08:15am


Washington Republicans are horrified, horrified, horrified by the bluntness of Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson.
The tough kid from the Bronx (and Harvard Law School) who represents an until recently Republican Orlando-area district pulled no punches Tuesday, when he declared on the House floor:
"The Republican health care plan is this: Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly."
After his GOP colleagues recovered from the shock of a Democrat actually calling them out, they demanded an apology.
Grayson returned to the House floor to announce that:
"I would like to apologize, I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America."
So unfamiliar with the notion that a Democrat might actually take the healthcare debate seriously enough to try and win it, the Republicans presumed that Grayson had gone off the deep end. The National Republican Congressional Committee screeched:
"This is an unstable man who has come unhinged. The depths to which Alan Grayson will sink to defend his indefensible comments know no bounds."
NRCC spokesman Ken Spain claimed in an interview with the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill that: "This is an individual who has established a pathological pattern of unstable behavior."
Grayson hasn't cracked.
The former assistant (on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to current U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, and conservative judicial icon Robert Bork) is dealing in facts.
Indeed, the Harvard grad has seized on a study produced by researchers at his old school that details how 44,000 Americans die annually because they lack health insurance. And he is laughing off a Republican attempt to formally condemn his choice of words.
Georgia GOP Congressman Tom Price does not think it is fair for a Democrat to counter months of Republican hyperbole with actual statistics. So the Georgian has drafted a resolution that accuses Grayson of committing "a breach of decorum and (degrading) the integrity and proceedings of the House."
Grayson's response:
"A resolution like that doesn't save one human being's life."
The resolution has yet to be introduced and is unlikely to get far in the overwhelmingly Democratic House. Like the silly Democratic resolution seeking objecting to South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson's boorish behavior during President Obama's address to the Joint Session of Congress, Price's proposal is a meaningless exercise.
Yet, Grayson's more cautious colleagues in the Democratic caucus (notably caucus chair John Larson of Connecticut) say they'll urge their Jewish colleague to back away from some of his remarks -- especially a Holocaust reference that, while on-point to the view of those who see the denial of healthcare to the sick as an act of brutality, seemed gratuitous and unnecessary to politicians who are ill at ease with such passionate language.
Grayson, whose official biography begins with a telling quotation from the Torah ("Justice, justice, ye shall seek..."), shows no signs of backing down.
The congressman, who beat an entrenched Republican incumbent in 2008 and is confident he'll win again in 2010 (perhaps with some support from libertarian Republicans who appreciate his loose alliance with 2008 GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul on issues of holding Federal Reserve bankers to account) says he is hearing a lot more praise than criticism
"People are calling us from all over the country to congratulate us for telling the truth," says Grayson. "People are happy to see a Democrat with guts."
In fact, Grayson has a lot to teach a Democratic caucus that has not begun to fight for health care reform.
While Republicans have been waging a war against reform, Democrats have been in duck-and-cover mode -- until now.
Grayson may sound a little over-the-top to some Capitol insiders.
Some of his language may unsettle even his allies.
But to Americans who this week witnessed the revolting rejection by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee of even mild reforms like the proposed "public option," the Florida congressman's words will sound like the sanest message coming not just from his side of the aisle but from all of official Washington."

Last night, right after the news, I sat right down at the computer and e mailed Mr. Grayson my congratulations. Would that his fellow democrats would all grow a pair!

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TIME FLIES WHEN YER HAVING FUN - AND EVEN IF YER NOT



Hard to believe that I haven't been here since September 24th - a sure sign that the "black dog" of Mr. Depression has struck yet again. Not to worry, It's all a part of the condition known as BI-POLAR.

Several things have contributed. There's the lack of gainful employment - but hey! Welcome to the real world. Then there was last sunday's Viking/49er game. Add to that the fact that winter's a-comin' and the geese are flying south and the days are growing shorter and shorter and there's less and less sunlight - well, you get my drift.

Just this morning I got an e mail from my former New Yorker, now a Badger again, Mr. Blinky. It read as follows:

On Oct 1, 2009, at 7:50 AM, Tom Johnson wrote:

LBM: I see that Mark Tauscher had a tryout this week with Denver. It would annoy me if they signed him and it turns out that he can still play. I have anxieties tending toward trepidation regarding Monday night. I see they’re going to be burning Favre jersies in a bar in Eau Claire Monday night. But Mr. Heagle won’t be burning his, I’m guessing, as he is made of finer stuff.
Blinky.

Blinky:

I have long ago resigned myself to losing both games to Favre. Last sunday's "The Catch, Part Two" convinced me that the baby Jesus has pointed his pudgy little finger at the Humpty Dome and anointed the Queens to go all the way to the Super Bowl this season. I am fast losing interest in Ted Thompson's version of Green Bay Packer football as he continually lets people go. EX: Darren Sharper (who still had two good years) Ryan Longwell (who will be kicking in the Show this winter, and most recently Rouse. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if Tauscher signs and has a phenomenal year. That's the way it is going.

As for burning Favre paraphernalia, only a bar in Eau Claire could come up with such an asinine idea. Rest assured that the shrine to Mr. Favre remains intact.

LBM

Note: Tom's nickname, "Blinky" was given him on a field trip to Green Bay (the field being Lambeau) as he had recently undergone an eye procedure that caused him to blink. LBM stands for Little Bladder Man, which tom christened me with because of numerous potty breaks on the way to Green Bay.

It looks like November out there today. Time to take my dear sweet mother's advice and "get busy doing something if you are feeling down" - and the Lord knows that I need to get over to the office and tackle the coming invasion of field mice who think that the bungalow is their winter country club.

I need to extend a big thank you to Larry "Leaker" Standaert of Glenwood City for giving me the opportunity to work at his fine establishment this past September 19th. Unfortunately, there were two weddings in town the night I worked and obviously the entire population went to the receptions save about nine people.

But thank you, Larry, for giving me a night of gainful employment.

Recently I won a really nice, un-used 1970's red Riddell helmet from the good people at Helmet Hut in Warsaw, Indiana. I was looking for a red helmet to make into a Buffalo Bills' place kicker replica.


That place kicker is famous - or perhaps infamous. Any football aficionados out there who might know who this is? A BIG hint:

Wide Right or 47 wide right describes the Bill's kicker who missed a 47-yard field goal attempt during Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991. With eight seconds remaining in the game, the Buffalo Bills trailed the New York Giants by a single point. They chose to try a 47-yard field goal, which would win the game and the championship for the Bills. However, 47 yards was considered near the limit of the Bills kicker's kicking range, particularly on a grass field, according to comments during the original game broadcast. The kick sailed right of the uprights and the field goal attempt failed. The New York Giants took possession with four seconds left and ran out the clock for a 20–19 victory, making this Super Bowl the closest ever.


No good! Wide right!
—ABC play by play announcer Al Michaels
Here we go, the Super Bowl will ride on the right foot of the Bills place kicker. Waiting for the snap, Reich arms extended, puts it down on the way its long enough and it is no good. He missed it to the right with four seconds to play.
—Buffalo Bills play-by-play announcer Van Miller
Snap. Spot. In the air. It's got the distance! It is...no good!
—Giants play-by-play announcer Jim Gordon

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My mother and the nazis were right. Not that my mom was a nazi. I am just recalling a visit long long ago to the WWII prison camp, Buchenwald. Above the gate entrance, in German was this: "Work shall set you free."

I have just returned from the office/bungalow where, with the help of the generous and very thorough Ms. Kim, we spent several hours cleaning out and shutting down the refrigerator. I won't go too deeply into this, but there were jars and bottles of "things" that when uncapped would gag a maggot!

In an all out attempt to get the electric bill and the heating bill down over there, we turned the refrigerator and freezer entirely off! I will turn it back on when I know that there will be overnight guests.

I also did some scavenging in the woods and located some downed branches which I cut up with a hand saw and I got a dandy fire going in the wood stove.

So it works! Putting the hands to work keeps the brain from thinking too much about unpleasant things.

Later, gator!

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