HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Monday, November 30, 2009


I guess it was over a month ago on an unusually soupy day at the office bungalow that I heard what I thought was the sound of a dripping faucet somewhere in the back of the structure. Lately I have found that my ears are not as good as they once were in pinpointing the exact location of auditory stimuli - I naturally assumed that my kitchen sink faucet was leaking so I got up and moved towards the sink only to find the faucet there bone dry. Still I heard the dripping sound and through the process of simple elimination made the sharp turn toward the small bath room. it was then that my ears finally honed in on the sickening sound of water hitting carpeting. After stepping into a soggy section of shag, I looked up to see the next drop forming on the ceiling just at the door of the bed room.
A sickening feeling roiled in my stomach as I knew this could only mean an unexpected output of money that was already spoken for in credit card debt. I trudged to the red shed behind the office and retrieved the tall step ladder, braced it fully extended and slowly ascended to the flat section of roof that covers both the back bed room and the bath. The leak was not readily apparent until I stepped into an area that gave like mush under my foot. Momentarily I had a picture of my body plummeting midst rotten timber and tar paper directly onto the bed hidden below.

I went to the house and broke the good news to Kim. Knowing that winter was not that far away at this point, I quickly put a call in to Rob of "Complete Home Maintenance:".
Rob came out and perused the situation, sat down with pen and pad and did some figuring and gave me an estimate of $1450 dollars to tear out all the rot, install new plywood , cover that with a blanket of rubber, and seal it with fresh oil and tar paper.

The appointed time for starting the project came and went. I called Rob and asked when he could start because the glorious indian Summer we were experiencing in late October most certainly would not hold in the cruel month of November. But it in fact DID hold as anyone from around here can attest.

So today, monday, November 30th, the pick up trucks and trailer for the removal of debris rolled in at nine AM. Talk about hitting the last window of opportunity! tomorrow is supposed to be the last day of what has been an incredibly warm November, and the boys of ":Complete Home Maintenance", fortified by Larry's pizza for lunch on monday, will complete said project by noon.

In celebration, for the bunaglow bed, I bought an electric blanket which I found at Wally Mart for the incredible low price of $18.50!!!

So blow ye winds of Winter, Blow!


Saturday, November 28, 2009


Yesterday (friday) I received, in record time, my eBay purchase of a Riddell helmet already done up as a Green Bay Packer helmet. I am using this project as my "Jim Carter" project helmet, as Jim will be autographing it for me early in December.

The first step was to remove the decals that someone had installed at a very odd positioning. After using Goo-gone to remove the residual adhesive, I thoroughly washed and waxed the helmet.
The next step was to remove the face mask that was provided with the helmet as it is not the correct mask. I had hoped to find the exact same mask that he wore, but after looking around the internet, I found only two sources that carried the mask and they both wanted $199.99 for the mask!!!
So I installed instead the next best mask which is pictured here. I took a picture of both the helmet and an autographed eight by ten photo of Jim that I won on eBay some time ago. (Sorry about the picture (the flash pretty much obliterated the framed photograph).

I have the correct Green Bay Packer decals on order and they should be arriving this week, well in advance of the signing.

This whole idea got started when I ran into Jim as I was leaving Menard's about four months ago. I told him of my collection of helmets, that I had gotten autographs from Bart Starr and Paul Hornung - and would he be so kind as to autograph a helmet for me.

Jim told me that he would be glad to, although he didn't seem to know why I would want it. He told me how poorly Green Bay's fans treated him all through his playing days with the Packers. His only "fault" was that he replaced the retiring Ray Nitschke, who was, of course, a God to the Green Bay faithful.

I told Jim that I was sorry to hear that and that I didn't understand that mentality, specially since Jim played really well for the Packers. He even went to the Pro Bowl in 1973!

I am really looking forward to displaying his autographed helmet!


I found the following editorial in the Leader-Telegram from friday, November 27 and thought it worth passing on to my readers:


Have you ever noticed the similarities between Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers and Sarah Palin? Each with a name in the spotlight, each turning their backs on people who made them famous. Each with a message that polarizes the masses into opposing sides. Each given a chance to do something special, but each failing to connect us with the inspiration it takes to follow a leader.

I think it's time to sack them all! We need someone else to lead us!

-Peter Beauvais
Eau Claire


Friday, November 27, 2009


Thanksgiving day has come and gone for yet another year. Battling with a sinus infection, I was up early to take meds and get the first stages of dinner preparation out of the way so that I could concentrate on Packer/Lions football at 11 AM.
Remembering past years and the mess that a baked sweet potato can make of an oven, I wrapped the three in aluminum foil, set the oven at 375 degrees and ascended to the loft in time for the kick off.

As I watched #87, Jordy Nelson set up to receive the opening kick off, I was about to call my friend "Blinky" Johnson in Madison to tell him that Jordy is my "main Caucasian man", but put down the telephone because before I could dial, Nelson coughed up the ball near our own 20 yard line and the Lions went up by seven shortly after that. Of course I took all the blame for Nelson's mistake because I had been impressed enough to think he never makes mistakes!

The Packers looked sluggish and out of sync for most of the entire first half and I was so engrossed in the game that I forgot about my sweet potatoes until I smelled the familiar odor of sweet potato drippings hit the heating coils of the oven. I ran (hobbled, mostly) down stairs to find that my foil wrapping hadn't stopped the drippings.

During the half time break I prepared fresh green beans, fresh tomato, onion, and fried 4 strips of bacon. These I threw together in a deep skillet and added wine vinegar, salt, pepper and allowed that to simmer on very low heat.

After removing the yams from the oven, I left them to cool and returned to the second half of the game which turned out to be much better than the first half.

With a Packer victory at hand, I returned to the kitchen and stuffed our 9 pound turkey with my own recipe which includes spicy homemade Italian sausage.

At any rate, Kim and Cindy returned from shopping Walmart and Cindy arrived around 5:30. Dinner proved to be much more than enough (Is that a big pile of mashed potatoes or what???)

By the time we had worked our way through four desserts, I was totally wiped out and I was in bed by 9:30PM. This morning I asked what time the party finally broke up. The gals had at it until 11:30PM. I heard nothing.

Today I was again up early, took my meds, dressed, and quietly, as not to disturb my sleeping beauties, made my way over here to see if I could manage to catch the remaining coals of yesterday's fire. it is so!

Now I must go to the bungalow bath and draw a steaming tub that I may soak away all remains of yesterday's endeavor.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thunder Bay to Green Bay

Yesterday I was musing to myself how insane much of the traveling days of youth really were. I guess the most grueling trip was the time that I opened for Jerry Lee Lewis in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and then with the help of my Superior, Wisconsin friend Gerald Fitzgerald (God rest his soul) we hauled ass all the way to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to do a luncheon engagement at 12:30 PM.

Much of it was then a blur and still is now as I cannot recall the group I was entertaining for in Green Bay except that it was some sort of rural-oriented youth group.

We arrived in Thunder Bay well in advance of the performance time and I remember observing Lewis and his band of "yes" men sitting around smoking cigarettes and playing cards. They totally ignored Gerald and I which was just fine with both of us as Jerry Lee et al were high on something - and from the rapidity of the conversations I would guess it was most certainly uppers not downers, but then Jerry Lee is/was famous for being a "speed-freak".

I do remember being a bit more nervous than usual as I had never worked for Canadians before but they turned out to be a great audience, with a similar response that I got in Wisconsin (but then, Thunder Bay is almost directly north of the Badger State so that makes sense).

After I finished my half hour, I went back stage and found Gerald shaking his head in wonder at the behavior of Jerry Lee. He told me that Lewis was a "pretty frightening dude" and made a vampire reference.

We went around to the front of the theatre and watched him perform two tunes, then mounted up for the long run to Green Bay. We left Thunder Bay around 8:45PM and fortified with our own version of speed (coffee and more coffee) we alternately spelled one another and drove continuously, watching the sun rise in the rear view mirror - 520 miles, 9 and one half hours of driving, stopping only for the kidneys, breakfast, and an exhausted nap along Highway 29 somewhere between Wausau and our final destination.

By the time I did my second show I was running only on adrenalin and got a might silly which seemed to go over okay.

The next tuesday I got a letter post marked Thunder Bay, Ontario, containing a note an a clipping from the Thunder Bay newspaper. It had been sent by the newspaper entertainment editor who had been at the show. The note said something to the effect that I had done an outstanding job and thought that I should have the review. His opening line was along the line of "Jerry Lee Lewis could learn something from his opening act about relating to his audience".


Some of us Packer fans amuse ourselves by scaring every Minnesota fan
we see strutting down the street with that obnoxious purple and gold
"Viking" on their shirt and/or hat. We swerve our vehicles as if to hit
them, and swerve back just missing them (not that I condone such an
act - of course not!).

One day, while driving down the road with my wife, I saw a priest
walking. I thought I would do a good deed, so I pulled over and asked
the priest, "Where are you going, Father?"

"I'm going to say Mass at Our Lady of the Hills Church, about 2 miles
down the road," replied the priest .
"Climb in, Father. I'll give you a lift."

The priest climbed into the rear passenger seat, and we continued down
the road.

Suddenly, I saw a Minnesota fan walking down the road, with that
irritating "Viking" shirt on, and I instinctively swerved as if to hit
him. But, as usual, swerved back into the road just in time.

Even though I was certain that I had missed the guy, I still heard a
loud thud. Not understanding where the noise came from, I glanced in my
mirrors, but still didn't see anything.

I then remembered the priest. I turned to him and said, "Sorry Father,
I almost hit that Minnesota fan."

"That's OK," replied the priest, "I got him with the door!"



Monday, November 23, 2009


Packers cornerback promises he’ll return next season. Jack Bechta

On Sunday night I was having dinner in Tampa with my client, Stylez G. White, when my phone lit up with the message, “Packers.” I knew it wasn’t good and that it had something to do with my client Al Harris.

A team executive gave me the news: “It looks like Al may have torn his ACL,” he said. A sinking feeling came over me, and I lost my appetite. I couldn’t believe it -- Al isn’t supposed to get hurt. He’s only missed four games in his 13-year NFL career.

I texted Al, who called me right back and with a steady voice told me what had happened. We discussed some reconstructive medical options and decided to use this week to do our due diligence and make a plan of attack. Then Al said, “I’m going to be back in six months, Jack.”

My response was that that was an aggressive estimate. “Well, that’s my plan,” he said, “and I’m going to play three to four more years. This injury wasn’t in my plan. Playing a few more years is.”

We frequently talk about cutting-edge workouts and supplements, 20-year vet and Pro Bowler Darrell Green, nutrition, offseason workouts and recovery. Al is obsessed with career longevity and the mind’s power to heal the body.

When he lacerated his spleen last season, he healed faster than expected and did it with a plan. So here’s a guy who has a season-ending injury and within two hours is already focusing on his medical and rehab plans. That’s Al Harris.

Early in Al’s career, I used to talk to him about getting career-ending injury insurance. He would snap at me, telling me he would never need it. He also insisted that we never talk about injuries or getting hurt ever again. He explained that he uses positive visualization along with hard work to stay strong and healthy. He never thinks about things that have negative scenarios.

In the last two years in Green Bay, usually right before camp, Al asked his general manager to never judge him on his age, only on his play. So anyone who wants to focus on his age had better take a look at the tape. I promise you’ll see Al Harris at his signature right cornerback spot on opening week next season.


So after landing my new job as a Wal-Mart greeter,
a good find for many retirees, I lasted less than a day...

About two hours into my first day on the job a very loud,
unattractive, mean-acting woman walked into the store with her two kids, yelling obscenities at them all the way through the entrance.
I said pleasantly, 'Good morning and welcome to Wal-Mart.
Nice children you have there. Are they twins?'
The ugly woman stopped yelling long enough to say,
'Hell no, they ain't twins. The oldest one's 9, and the other one's 7.
Why the hell would you think they're twins? Are you blind, or stupid?'
So I replied,
'I'm neither blind nor stupid, Ma'am, I just couldn't believe someone slept with you twice. Have a good day and thank you for shopping at
My supervisor said I probably wasn't cut out for this line of work.


Saturday, November 21, 2009


Dear President Obama,

News reports indicate that you have rejected specific plans to send between 10,000 and 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan put forward by your military advisers, but that you are still considering escalating the war in Afghanistan.

We urge you to reject escalation altogether and give us a bridge out of Afghanistan.

Expanding the war in Afghanistan will make Americans less safe, not more so.

Less than 100 members of Al Qaeda remain in Afghanistan. The Karzai government we support is controlled by warlords and is riddled with corruption. Pakistan's stability will be gravely imperiled by an expansion of the war. Hundreds if not thousands of troops will be killed, along with countless civilians. Anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world will be inflamed by civilian bloodshed, facilitating recruitment by terrorist organizations.

The war will cost billions of dollars when we can least afford it, and will stymie your domestic agenda.

The cost of sustaining a military force in Afghanistan is $1 million per soldier per year -- that's close to $100 billion dollars annually with the troop increase. With the economy in shambles, the deficits generated by these enormous costs will compromise your domestic legislative agenda both fiscally and politically.

The United States has no vital interest in Afghanistan. If you choose to further escalate troop levels in Afghanistan, you will be making the biggest mistake of your presidency.

It's now official, the health care bills Congress is trying
to pass stink to high heaven. Today John Conyers said that
"progressives held their nose" in voting for it. But we didn't send
them to Washington to hold their noses, we sent them there to get out
there fight for good public policy. And they'd better start
listening. But first, we need to speak out in greater and greater

And the Senate is working on something even worse, a bill that is
even weaker than the one from the House, that won't even really kick
in for 5 YEARS, like they think they can sneak through a couple more
elections before we notice the sstench. It's just a replay of the
phony credit card reform bill, only with 5 times as long for the
medical insurance companies to keep gouging us before the big nothing
takes effect.

We need each and every one of our participants to help us spread the
word about these videos as far and wide as possible, so we can get
more and more people to speak out. If you have a website, or a web
page of any kind, there code at the top of the fax action page you
can put on your own site or page, so people can watch the latest
video right there.

Health Care Fax Action Page:

And here is the link direct to the YouTube video, but it is MUCH
better to send people direct to the action page, where the free fax
submission form is right there.



Here's another great photograph of Jill Merrill's beautiful grandson, Sebastian, with his brand new shoes. I am publishing it because it is such a positive lift just to look at his happy face!

Two days since the "split fest"!

My legs are much better this morning than they were all day yesterday. Last night I took serious steps to try and evaluate and eliminate the phlegmnasicious (if my friend and novelist Tom Johnson can publish the word "permitlessness" I can invent the word "phlegmnascious") gatherings in the back of my throat. I did some research on the internet knowing full well that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and I descended upon Wallygrainous (Spanish for Walgreens) where I purchased a "nasal sinus rinse".

Here's how it works: you warm 8 ounces of distilled water, funnel it into the provided plastic squeeze bottle, add a packet of carefully prepared salts and bicarbonate of soda (provided) let it dissolve, then lean over the bath room sink and squeeze four ounces of the liquid into your left nostril, all the while gently saying" "kha kha" and observing the resulting liquid exiting the right nostril. You then reverse the process with the right nostril.

I know it sounds somewhat like water boarding but the result is indeed soothing to the sinus cavity. I also was advised to try taking benadryl at bed time to dry the mucous membrane. This I did as well.

For three days I complained of water in my left ear - again I consulted the internet and found a wondrous cure that should be shared with all: With the help of a friend, lie on your side, afflicted ear up and then have your help mate take a cotton swab inundated with rubbing alcohol, squeeze one or two drops of the alcohol into the ear canal. When you sit up, you hear a popping sound and the water is cleared through evaporation! I would imagine this could be accomplished solo but what's the fun in that?

Today, Conservative Tea Party activists plan to burn in effigy Members of Congress including Rep. Tom Periello and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Tell the GOP leadership to tell the Tea Party protesters to stop the hatred and prevent these despicable displays from taking place.

Sign the Petition:


There recently was an article in the St. Petersburg Fl. Times. The Business Section asked readers for ideas on: "How Would You Fix the Economy?"
I think this guy nailed it!

Mr. President,

Please find below my suggestion for fixing America 's economy. Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the "Patriotic Retirement Plan":

There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They MUST buy a new American CAR. Forty million cars ordered – Auto Industry fixed.

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – Housing Crisis fixed.

It can't get any easier than that!!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members in Congress pay their taxes...

Mr. President, while you're at it, make Congress retire on Social Security and Medicare. I'll bet both programs would be fixed pronto!


Friday, November 20, 2009


Ah, yes! T'is the season! Radio stations already playing Christmas tunes (I hate that!) Christmas sales already under way, Salvation Army bell ringers already at their posts, working on my Catholic guilt, and the first signs of home decoration assembling.

Now this is how you display the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer properly in Badgerland!


Good news! Neither Blinky nor I ended up in the hospital or morgue yesterday although his right knee is barking today and both my legs feel like they weigh 500 pounds a piece.

We picked up the gas operated log splitter at 12:30 PM and it is really a slick invention! I had rented it for a full 24 hours but working as a team we first split the logs I had rolled out of the woods on the dolly, then cut up the downed oak on the office property, walked the chunks out by hand as far as the fence line, then loaded them into the back of the panel truck and drove them over to the splitter.
It didn't take long to establish a working rhythm and by 3:30PM we had it all split and were able to return the splitter to A-! rental and cut my usage bill in half. (On the way back to A-1 at one point I had to really stand on the brakes for a "yellow" and after that the splitter's sound changed.) Noting this, just before we got to A-1, we stopped to check it out only to find that the sudden braking had forced the splitter off the ball and the ball was now lodged in the grooved shaft of the tongue!

Fortunately, the crew at A-1 handled the problem while I was in paying.
I wanted to reward Mr. Johnson with a TJ's Inn sirloin but he opted for a shorter trip to Sammy's Pizza where we quickly put away a 14 inch sausage, mushroom, extra cheeser. (Probably not the smartest move on my part as this morning I had a blood draw at 8AM to check cholestrol levels.)

Upon returning from said appointment we had coffee at the office and saddled up for a short jaunt to the Altoona Restaurant
for eggs and hash browns. Thus fortified, we returned to the task of loading the trailer with split oak. In tandem it took us less than an hour to accomplish the first step. I then drove the load over to the office and we began the fun task of trying to back a loaded two wheel trailer with no way the driver could see what was transpiring. Consequently it took about half an hour and much cranking the no-power-steering wheel to finally position the trailer where we wanted it.

We tried to disengage the hitch but found it stuck. On to Menard's for a tarp and a lenghty discussion on whether to buy a jack or just to go back and unload the trailer. We decided ultimately just to unload the trailer. Arriving back at the scene, tom gave the tongue one good jolt with a right leg and VOILA! It popped free!

There was much rejoicing as we tarped the trailer and called it finished! My humble thanks to Mr. Tom Johnson for his true friendship and hard work. Now I am wasted and need a nap!


Thursday, November 19, 2009


Today is the day! My pal "Blinky" Johnson is on his way up from Windsor to give me a helping hand in cutting up, splitting and stacking two dead oak that I found within the boundries of my property.

Yesterday my brother Bob kindly dropped off his Husqvarna chain saw, replete with new chain and prepared fuel/oil mixture. He also was kind enough to drop the two targeted trees for me. The first was quite wide in diameter and had lost its top half in a severe storm in the past.

The second tree is located on the "office" property and I hunted it down after the leaves had fallen off all the other trees except for the living oaks which keep their leaves all winter, making it easy to spot the dead tree immediately. Trouble is, this one was definitely a "widow maker" so Bob notched it the way he wanted it to fall and of course it didn't fall that way but instead fell into a large pine next to it and hung there.

After cutting another piece off the bottom of it, it suddenly fell, shaving all the dead limbs off the pine that had caught its fall originally. It is back into the woods a ways and it it going to be a real task to get it cut up, split and loaded on my trailer and out of there.

This morning I thought I had best check on my trailer as it has rubber tires and has been exposed to the elements for nearly four years. I had visions of two flat tires but my luck held and they were low but still hold air. I got a rake and raked the leaves off the bed of the trailer and then had to extricate it from the damn berry bushes that had entwined themselves throughout the trailer bed which is a steel mesh.

Once I got that cleared I put the trailer hitch on the "Big Tomato" and pulled the trailer over to the garage at the house where I have an electrically operated tire pump. After fixing the tires, I pushed the trailer closer to where our project will begin. I then began bringing the cut sections out of the woods one at a time with my two wheel dolly - no easy task for this old man. I now know how the ancient Egyptian slaves felt while building the pyramids.

As you can see from the photo they are now in position for splitting.

Our first task when Blinks arrives will be to take the Tomato into town to A-1 Rental and pick up a gas powered splitter at a cost of $75.00 per day. robbery! So we will need to get it all cut up and split by noon tomorrow at which time friends may call either at Luther Hospital or the morgue.


The Philosophy of Ambiguity






































Tuesday, November 17, 2009


In yesterday's post I mentioned the fact that Chippewa Falls native, Clancy Hatleberg, had been involved in the retrieval of astronauts back in the day.

Today I received an e mail from my pal, Gary Spaeth, with the following URL: http://www.chippewa.com/articles/2009/07/20/news/doc4a6285a96dc07872527175.txt

City native Hatleberg part of Apollo 11 story

U.S. Navy pararescueman Lt. Clancy Hatleberg, a Chippewa Falls native, disinfects Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. in this July 24, 1969 NASA photo. Photo by NASA Kennedy Space Center

Sunday, July 19, 2009 9:05 AM CDT
He was just a Chippewa Falls kid, who was to become part of one of the greatest achievements of the 20th Century.

When the Apollo 11 astronauts returned from the moon, the first face they saw on Earth was of Lt. Clancy Hatleberg.

Hatleberg was the leader of the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team Eleven when the then-Chippewa Herald-Telegram reported on him on Monday, July 21, 1969, the day after the historic moon walk.

His parents, Dr. and Mr. E. A. Hatleberg, lived on Carson Street in Chippewa Falls, and his wife Sue lived on Rust Street in Eau Claire.

“Lt. Hateleberg, the first man to greet the astronauts on their return from their historic flight to the moon this afternoon, swam to the space capsule immediately after Navy frogment had attached a floatation collar, and handed BIG suits (Biological Isolation Garments) to the three astronauts,” the Herald-Telegram reported Thursday, July 24, 1969.

“Then, after the spacemen had donned the garments, and emerged one-by-one from the capsule, Lt. Hatleberg scrubbed them down with disinfectants in an effort to eliminate any contamination they might have incurred while walking on the moon.

“Prior to his scrubbing chores, Hatleberg disinfected the exhaust valve on the capsule, and closed the hatch.”

The next day, the Herald-Telegram ran a photo of Hatleberg’s parents watching his exploits on TV.

A front page editorial called on the city to hold a celebration for Hatleberg the next time he visited home.

“Chippewa Falls, Hatleberg’s hometown, was also mentioned a number of times on the television networks and the city was given world-wide exposure seldom accorded a community of this size.

“Chippewa Falls, therefore, through its association with Lt. Hatleberg, was for a few hours yesterday more than a just a tiny spot on the world map – it was the home of the first man to see and touch the first men to walk on the moon.”


I had forgotten that this event involved Neil Armstrong! thanks, Gary, for your research!


Monday, November 16, 2009


Earlier this afternoon I received this photograph in an e mail from my Ohio buddy Kirk Roebuck. He had this to say about the picture:

The guy on the left, behind the black guy (on the left) is Mike Foreman, a friend from high school.
Today will be his 2nd space shuttle flight.

Yep…..we from that era all wanted to be astronauts (watching all the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo launches and splash downs) but he actually did it. Naval Academy, Naval Aviator, Test Pilot, became an astronaut and didn’t get his first flight till he was 52! (March 2008), but the 2nd one came pretty quick.

Also have an uncle, a retired navy man, he was in the 1st class of NAVY SEALS commissioned by JFK. He worked on some of the splash down recovery teams. He used the GI bill to go to PGA school, now he is a teaching pro at the Coronado (San Diego) Country club—nice!

The comment about Kirk's uncle being in the first class of Navy SEALS commissioned by JFK put me in mind of the fact that my friend Mary Hatleberg's oldest brother Clancy Hatleberg of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, was also one of the frogmen who retrieved astronauts back in the day. Small world!


I had to really smile broadly when I received this photo by e mail today from Patty Wieseler. Anybody raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm is familiar with the practice of feeding the "barn cats" with the "teat" method.

When I was a kid we always "stripped" the last bit of milk from each cow by hand after the milking machine had been removed. that's when the barn cats would gather in hopes of direct fire from a holstein. It was really WAY COOL!


I did my research for the correct face mask to attach to my Packer helmet which will be autographed by Jim Carter in early December. I ordered it through "Real Stuff", an online resource for collectors who want authentic retro helmets. When the "cage" arrives, I will publish some photos of the helmet and mask.



On the way back from the Blugold/River Falls game last saturday, I mentioned to Wil that I had "run into" Jim Carter. former 1970's Packer linebacker, now automobile dealership owner, and that we chatted briefly. I told Mr. Carter that I was collecting NFL helmet replicas and asked if he would autograph one for me. He graciously said that he would.

Turns out that Wil is now in a book club with Jim so I asked Wil if he would take a Packer helmet I had set aside for Carter to autograph with him to the meeting and Wil agreed. Luckily, the meeting isn't until early December which will give me the time to order the correct "cage" face mask similar to the one Jim wore.

In my research i stumbled upon the following article comparing Jim Carter to Aaron Rodgers. it is really a study in the boorishness of fans - something that my Ohio buddy, Kirk Roebuck and I have discussed by e mail before. Here is the article:

The Sad Tale of Jim Carter

Interesting article by Wolfley

The better Rodgers plays, the less of an issue his unpopularity with Packers fans will be. The worse he plays, the more of an issue it will be.

During the Family Night Scrimmage and some practices, Packers boo birds were out in force against Rodgers. Monday night, during a nationally televised game from Lambeau, Rodgers was greeted warmly with applause. We’ll see how the boo-cheer dynamic operates as the season unfolds.

But Carter’s case is a reminder of how Packers fans can be irrational, unfair and unrelentingly brutal.

Carter, out of the University of Minnesota, played 106 games for the Packers in the regular season, from 1970-’75 and again in 1977-’78.

Carter knows too much about what Rodgers is up against in terms of replacing a legendary and phenomenally popular Packers player, one with Hall of Fame talent.
Carter’s curse was replacing Packers middle linebacker Ray Nitschke as a starter in the 1971 season, when Dan Devine was the head coach.

Packers fans never forgave Carter that sin, even though he became a good player. He was chosen for a Pro Bowl in the 1973 season. In fact, he and Nick Barnett may be the two best middle linebackers the Packers have had since Nitschke retired in 1973.

But Packers fans at the time did not care how good Carter was. He was booed mercilessly.

In ’71, according to reports, Carter was booed when he was introduced at home games. He was booed each time he missed a tackle. He was booed when a pass was completed over the middle. Fans chanted for Nitschke.

They never forgave Carter for not being Ray Nitschke. They made Carter into a villain.

The stigma followed Carter long after Nitschke left the game.

Carter, who declined to be interviewed for this column, has never come back to Lambeau for any of those alumni ceremonies, according to the recollection of one Packers official.

On occasion, the team has urged him to attend, but he has told them he’s too uncomfortable to participate.

In the 1996 book “Downfield!: Untold Stories of the Green Bay Packers” by Jerry Poling, Carter addressed his treatment by Packers fans.

“If I ever went to Green Bay for an alumni game, I fear I’d get booed,” Carter said. “I never want to go through that again. It had a profound effect on me. It was degrading. Maybe that’s why I made a new life of not being interested in football.”

As a player he was brash and confident. He did not deal well with the treatment Packers fans gave him. He said Nitschke was over the hill.

He answered boos in kind. He came to admit that was a mistake, that he made it worse because of the way he chose to deal with it.

By comparison, Rodgers has made the right kinds of comments about replacing Favre. Only once has he stumbled there, telling fans “to get on board now or keep their mouths shut.”

During the ESPN telecast of the Packers-Cincinnati Bengals exhibition game, the broadcasters suggested Green Bay fans, perhaps given their Midwestern good hearts, might be unlike fans in other cities. It was said they might be more willing to be patient with Rodgers because they understand how difficult it is for anyone to replace a legend. They might be inclined to encourage Rodgers by cheering for him, helping him boost his confidence.


Because of the success the Packers have enjoyed in the 1990s until now, some people might have forgotten that Lambeau Field in the 1970s and ’80s wasn’t always a place where home team players received nurturing treatment.

And, in the case of Carter, it was treatment that was brutally unfair.

The exodus of Lombardi-era players was before my time, and GB hasn't really had too many players of similar stature get forced out (Lofton and Sharpe were obviously Hall of Fame talents, but Lofton had worn out his welcome and Sharpe was an injury issue and capably replaced by Brooks and Freeman; Leroy Butler was injured, Reggie White retired and didn't hold GB over a barrel when he came back).

Around here it seems that all but the most ardent Favre supporters are willing to give Rodgers a chance. You hope that even IF he's a bit disappointing he doesn't get ruined for the sin of not being Favre.

Now you can say that I've grown bitter,
But of this you can be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
And there's a night of judgement coming...
But I may be wrong;
Ya see I hear these funny voices in the Tower of Song


Sunday, November 15, 2009


I had no great aspirations for the Green Bay Packers facing the Dallas Cowpies today. I saw a story yesterday saying if you charted the two teams in a graph, they would be passing each other at 100 mph - and it wouldn't be an ascending Packer team.

They were far from perfect today but for the first time this season, the defense was actually getting to the quarterback! And it was enjoyable to see since it was Tony boy.

Is Charles Woodson not the heart and soul of the team??? What did he have? 8 tackles, a sack, two interceptions and two forced fumbles? Could you run that replay of him smacking Tony from behind just a few more times?

I thought I would publish this picture of Coach Mike McMuffin because I figure he had a night mare last night of finding himself in that very situation. "Would you like fries with that?"

I have no grand illusions about this year's Green Bay Packer team. they have already dug their grave. but it was nice to see them win one today. it makes a guy scratch his head all the more over last sunday's loss to Tampa Bay, doesn't it?

Not really. It's the coach and GM. stupid.

There. I said it.


Looks like I may be able to secure former Green Bay Packer line backer Jim Carter's autograph sometime before the end of the year. I have a Packer helmet for him to sign - just need to do my research and find out which would be the correct face mask. I think I found it today online.

Jim is a pretty good guy - doesn't have the "big head". He even talked to me one time outside of Menard's. The doctor that did his knees also did my right knee.


Subject: Definitions

These fit so well they should be in a dictionary.
A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.

A place where women curl up and dye.
Someone who is fed up with people.

The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.

A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

Mud with the juice squeezed out.

Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.

Cold Storage.

Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.

An insect that makes you like flies better.

Grape with a sunburn.

Something you tell to one person at a time.

A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.


The pain that drives you to extraction.

One of the greatest labor saving devices of today.

An honest opinion openly expressed.

and MY Personal Favorite!!

Something other people have,
similar to my character lines.


Yesterday my good friend Wil Denson and I went to River Falls for the final game of the UW Eau Claire Blugold football team's season. I did my obligatory checking of weather on the computer: FORTY SIX DEGREES HIGH, PARTLY CLOUDY, THIRTY PER CENT CHANCE OF RAIN. so I put on my light long underwear, a heavy turtle neck, my brand spankin' new UW EAU CLAIRE hoodie sweat shirt, a heavy pair of jeans, heavy sock and tennis shoes, and grabbed a blanket and rain jacket (just in case).

I drove down to Wil's house, parked in his driveway as street parking was crowded with student autos, we piled into Wil's new Taureg, and took off via the scenic back roads to River Falls. We got into River Falls around 11:30 AM and looked around for a Sports Bar where we could get a burger and watch Badger football.

the first bar we hit had the game, but no burgers, so we made our way across the main drag to a place called Bo's and Mine which turned out to have the opposite set up: plenty of burgers, but no Badger football. NO BADGER FOOTBALL?? What? Did we somehow cross the river into Minnesota?

Our waitress, Brittany, was most aplogetic. We decided that time being of the essence, we would watch Purdue/Michigan State and eat lunch.

We both ordered burgers of one sort or another. Mine was the "Badger Burger" - guess I was still miffed about not being able to see the Badgers - and it was very good! A third pound of hamburger with real cheddar cheese and a couple slices of fried bacon - hello Brittany, Good bye heart -

When we got to Ramer field, Wil found a handicap parking spot closer to the field, but we still had to hike a good quarter of a mile to get to the stands. I noticed that Wil was putting on extra clothing and a pair of heavy gloves. I thought to myself: "Man! He must get cold easily. He'll be stripping off some of that stuff before kick off."

We finally got to the visitor side of the field and I began to really appreciate Eau Claire's Carson Park as soon as I began trying to climb the aluminum benches that served as seating. There were no aisles. I had to giant step from bench to bench with my bad right knee and almost lost it a couple of times, but finally made it to our chosen area right above the 50 yard line.

Pre-game, we were "entertained" by the River Falls University Band. Again, I began to really appreciate Eau Claire. We have this amazing 75-100 piece show marching band. River Falls' doesn't have a marching band at all. After they were introduced over the public address system, I could hear a thin sounding combo, but it took me about five minutes to discover that they were seated in the bleachers across from us and they were not a marching band at all, but rather a rather large jazz combo - the kind that made you want to yell DON'T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB!

We hadn't been seated more than ten minutes before I began to realize that I was the one who had not dressed correctly! The flags of all the state universities were snapping and flapping straight out at us from the far side of the field and the sky was so overcast that the lights had been turned on.

I began to shiver so I put on my rain coat and pulled up the hood on my sweat shirt and secured it tightly with the laces to prevent the wind from whistling in and around my head. Having no gloves, I forced my hands back up my sleeves which did little good.

By the end of the first quarter, I knew I would not make it through the entire game. The game had turned into an offensive shooting match as neither team's defense seemed to be able to hold their opponent from scoring.

At one point, one of EC's leading receivers, Spence Kehoe (#2) upon being tackled, fell awkwardly, and was severely injured.
The crew on the sidelines stripped off his jersey and shoulder pads and he stood watching the game in just a tee shirt and his football pants! Tough kid! He later disappeared for a bit then returned with an ice pack and his arm in a sling. We found out that he had broken his collar bone on the play.

As soon as the half ended I stood up and announced to Wil that I hoped he would accept my humblest apologies, but please, PLEASE, give me the damn car keys - I am frickin' freezin' to death!

Knowing that I had just lost about 700 "manly points" I trudged back towards the parking lot, mumbling and wiping my runny nose. I finally reached the concessions stand, stood in a long line in hopes of hot chocolate, but alas, no hot choclolate. Instead, "hot" apple cider, which was barely luke warm. I quickly quaffed that as I moved not towards the car but to the Kwik Trip gas station at the end of the parking lot where I secured a very large steaming styrofoam cup of hot chocolate.

I hung around inside the station because of its heavenly warmth and then fortified by the hot drink, I proceeded to the car where I managed to find not only the heater but also the game in progress on the radio.

Second half the Blugolds defense suddenly found life and the offense continued to score thanks to running back Corey Sartorelli, QB Kyle Paulson and tight end #86, ( sorry - can't remember names, I plead frozen brain) who made some spectacular catches first half - and the Blugolds closed their season with a win. 49 -35.

River Falls Ramer Field sucks!

There. I said it!


Here is the official University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire report on yesterday's game:

Football Ends Season on High Note

By: Kevin Meinholz, Sports Information Director
Posted: Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 6:46 PM

RIVER FALLS, Wis. (UWECBlugolds.com) - The UW-Eau Claire football team ended its 2009 campaign on a high note, defeating UW-River Falls 49-35 at Ramer Field today.

The Blugolds avenge two losses which they suffered to the Falcons each of the last two years. Eau Claire ends its season with a 6-4 overall and 4-3 conference record, taking fourth place in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. River Falls finished with a 2-8 mark on the season and 1-6 in conference play.

The teams battled back and forth in the first quarter before River Falls doubled up the score on the Blugolds in the second quarter. River Falls got on the board right off the bat with a touchdown but the Blugolds answered right back with a touchdown of their own. The Falcons added another on their next possession, as did the Blugolds, and River Falls once again scored to end the first quarter on top 21-14.

The Falcons then took a 28-14 lead with just over 9 minutes left in the half but the Blugolds again had an answer and found the end zone to cut the Falcon lead back to seven. On the Blugolds' next drive, they tied the game back up and just before the end of the half, scored again to make the score 35-28 in favor of Eau Claire.

The Blugolds added a touchdown in each of the next two quarters, while River Falls scored with 6:34 left in the game to make the score 49-35. The Blugolds punted twice the rest of the game and River Falls had a good drive that lasted 12 plays and went 72 yards but stalled on the Blugolds' 20 to give the ball back to Eau Claire for the final time.

Eau Claire finished the game with 574 yards of offense, 229 rushing and 345 passing while River Falls had 198 on the ground and 296 through the air for a total of 494.

Cory Sartorelli (Sr.-Appleton, Wis./North) led the Blugolds with 163 rushing yards while Kyle Paulson (Sr.-Amery, Wis.) had 66. Paulson also finished with a career-high 345 yards passing with 26 completions on 35 attempts and three touchdowns. His longest pass of the day came on a 49-yard touchdown catch by David Goodman (So.-Neenah, Wis.), who had 111 receiving yards to lead Eau Claire.

Granger Taft (Jr.-Rosemount, Minn.) led Eau Claire on the defensive side of the ball with 10 tackles, including one sack for a loss of seven yards. Kyle Thorpe (Fr.-Stanley, Wis./Stanley-Boyd/Moorhead St.) was part of the games' only turnover as he picked off a pass in the second quarter, which then led to the Blugolds' going up 35-28 on the ensuing drive.


Friday, November 13, 2009


Packers employee fired over McCarthy remark

For at least 22 years, Mike Wood has worked on game days at Lambeau Field as a part-timer with the stadium's maintenance staff. It was a job he loved because it meant working for a franchise he loves. That relationship is over. Wood, 53, was fired Nov. 1, the day the Packers lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 38-26. He says it had something to do with a comment he made to head coach Mike McCarthy on the Thursday before the game. Wood was initially reluctant to tell his version of what happened but then he agreed to speak to a reporter. His friends say Wood, known as Woody, deserves better. Wood said he was sitting in a maintenance cart in a stadium tunnel when McCarthy was talking with members of the grounds crew. With the season's most-hyped game only three days away, Wood said he yelled to McCarthy, "Hey coach, let's get the boys ready to kick some butt this weekend." Wood says that's all he said.

This article was brought to my attention by my Ohio buddy Kirk Roebuck. Kirk says the best answer that he found on Sports Illustrated.com was: “Don’t worry, you’ll get a better job. Look at the last guy they fired (Favre)”.


Kim and I were out shopping this afternoon and while I was perusing the "on sale" movie DVD's at Wally's Mart, I got the sudden urge to use the facility, to pinch a loaf, to drop a load, to make #2. As I hurried towards the centrally located Men's room (why is it that I am always at the furthest possible point away from the rest room when I get the sudden urge??) I began not only to ponder that question but to come to the realization that there are always two instances when I am suddenly in desperate need of relief: 1. shopping in a busy department store and 2. looking for a library book deep in the bowels (no pun intended) of the public library.

Luckily I beat the guy who entered the rest room ahead of me to the one remaining stall or it could have been disastrous! As I sat purging, I pondered the phenomenon mentioned and came to the conclusion that from now on, rather than spending copious amounts of money on Metamucil and bran, i will instead just go to the library and await the inevitable result!

I guess I would like to blame it on the fact that I am "getting older" but the truth is I can remember that as far back as my college days all I had to do to have to really "go" was to be back in the stacks trying to do some research on a damn term paper.

There are some things that have begun happening that didn't happen when i was younger. For instance, I can no longer discern the difference between the colors navy and black. I realized this last week when I went to the Army Navy Surplus store to replace my raggedy old pea coat that served me in good stead for almost twenty years.

Now the big color in my life is yellow... yellow walls and yellow teeth! Something else I have had to come to grips with since the last vacation I took. Going on the trip was good - but coming home was much better. I am good for about two days before I start asking when we can go home.

People used to say "You look great!" - but now they always add "for your age." I can still remember the first time I heard that - or close to that. I was working a banquet in Marshfield and was "impressing" this young (late 30's) woman with tales of my on the road exploits when she said: "Wow! I'll bet you were really something in your day!"

Excuse me - I will be standing over there.

When I was in college and really needed discounts, I paid full price. Now I get discounts on just about everything - movies, hotels, flights - not that I'm complaining. It took me until I turned 66 to be able to say out loud: "Senior Discount".

An embarrassing part of growing older is that I keep forgetting names -- but it's okay because other people forget they even know me! It happened again today in Walgreen's. I walked right past a guy who was a counselor in the school at which I taught. Looked right at me and didn't know me. (Maybe he did know me and was thinking the same thing I was: "Oh, Christ! There's that dipshit! I'll just ignore him")

I have absolutely no shirts that do not have a stain about half way between the neckline and the belt line. Not one! When did hitting the old pie hole become so difficult? I have learned never to ask my wife how I look when I get dressed because she will tell me the truth.

Or she will use the wifely standard: "You're not wearing that are you?"

The five pounds I was going to lose is now closer to twenty and I have a better chance of losing my keys than the twenty pounds. I now have three sizes of clothes in my closet, two of which I will never wear again.

The things that I cared to do I no longer care to do but I care that I don't care to do them anymore.

I have found that I sleep better in the lounge chair with the TV blaring than I do in bed. I call it my "pre-sleep" sleep.

When I was a kid my mother used to say: "Wear clean underwear in case you GET in an accident!" Now I bring along clean underwear in case I HAVE an accident.

I miss the days when everything worked with just an "ON" and "OFF" switch; when Google, ipod, email, and modem were unheard of and a mouse was something that you beat hell out of with a broom.

Lately a lot more four letter words are creeping into my vocabulary - four letter words like "WHAT?" and "WHEN?". Mostly "WHAT?" and every time I say it I have a flashback of my father saying it!

I hate it when I get about 100 pages into a book before I realize I've read it before. Same for movies except I really can't remember how it turns out so I am forced to watch the damn thing all the way through again.

My wife gets PEOPLE magazine. I have no idea who any of those people are!

There! I said it!


Thursday, November 12, 2009


Lou Dobbs has hosted his last show on CNN.

Last night, Dobbs announced his resignation, effective immediately. This historic victory comes after I, and more than 100,000 others stood up online and in communities across the country to say ¡Basta! to Dobbs’ anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rhetoric. We spoke out, CNN listened, and now Dobbs is gone.

This victory belongs to us, and we encourage others to share it. Dobbs’ departure shows what can happen when Latinos and allies stand up against harmful myths and negative stereotypes. And we have only just begun. Please tell your family and friends the good news, and encourage them to join the Presente.org community as we prepare for the battles ahead:


Lou Dobbs’ resignation is an important milestone in the fight against bigotry and prejudice. As Dobbs himself said in his on-air announcement, there are “winds of change buffeting our country.” What he neglected to add is that those winds are being generated by thousands of people who can envision a better future, and are willing to work together to achieve it. That is what Presente.org is all about.

This victory signals the end of our BastaDobbs campaign, but it also marks a beginning. Just as we have spoken out against anti-Latino stereotypes on television, we will say no to policies that divide our families, and demand an end to discrimination against our communities. Together, we can help the United States reach its highest ideals. In the words of the great César Chávez:
Once social change begins it cannot be reversed...You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people that are not afraid anymore.

Good bye, Lou, and good riddance! There! I said it!


I was just thinking about the thirty years I spent as a traveling entertainer, all without a Blackberry that plays music, takes videos, pictures, and communicates with Facebook and Twitter.

I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my two kids, both of whom live in New York City could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.

That was before one of them hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world.

My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the basement in one of my guitar cases.

I bought myself a GPS for my last birthday because I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue tooth [it's red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Borders talking to my wife as everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. Seems I have to take my hearing aid out to use it and I got a little loud.

I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside is the most annoying, rudest person I have run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she sarcastically says, "Re-calc-ul-ating". You would think that she could be nicer. It is like she barely tolerates me. She lets go with a deep sigh and then tells me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then when I do make a right turn instead, it is not good. I finally found out there's a button you can push to get a male voice and although he's just as rude and annoying, for some reason I can take it better from a male.

When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady, at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven't figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and have to run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.

The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden "Paper or Plastic?" every time I check out just knocks me for a loop.

I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking confused but I never remember to take them in with me.

Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me, "Paper or Plastic?" I just say, "Doesn't matter to me. I am bi-sacksual.." Then it's their turn to stare at me with a blank look.

There! I said it!



Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Today is Veteran's Day, a day to say thank you to all who have served and to write to the president (as I am going to as soon as I finish this) and tell him to get the hell out of Afghanistan. Maybe Mr. Obama needs to sit down with the Russians and learn a few facts.

Yes, I know - Bin Laden - yada yada - but what we are attempting in Afghanistan is doing nothing to get us closer to killing or capturing him. All we are doing is losing our youth for absolutely no good purpose. Oh, and almost every day you can read about how a Predator killed innocent Afghanis. It is very disheartening and America is performing criminal acts in the name of justice.

There - I said it!


The former governor of Alaska is at it again:

This must sting a bit. Sarah Palin's newest conspiracy theory on the "disturbing" redesign of U.S. coins was too much, even for Fox News -- on Tuesday night, Fox fact-checked Palin.

Last Friday, while speaking at a Wisconsin Right to Life fundraising banquet -- attendees were barred from bringing cell phones, cameras, laptops -- Palin rolled out the latest: an anti-Christian conspiracy in the redesign of U.S. coins. Palin waded into the subject by remarking that there had been a lot of "change" of late -- for example, the redesign of U.S. currency which moved the once-centered text "In God We Trust" to the edge of coins.

"Who calls a shot like that?" Palin demanded on Friday. "Who makes a decision like that?"

As Fox News anchor Bret Baier noted: President Bush, that's who.

Baier quoted from Politico's write up on the banquet which commented on the not-so-hidden subtext of Palin's speech: "Unsaid but implied was that the new Democratic White House was behind such a move to secularize the nation's currency." Baier added: "In actuality the coin's design was commissioned in 2005, when Republicans controlled congress, and then was approved by then President Bush.



I know I've written about this before, but it's still stuck in my craw. I have always held Green Bay Packer fans that actually livein Green Bay in esteem as the best fans in the world.

A couple of weeks before the Packer/Viking game in Green Bay Kim and I were sitting in the waiting to be seated area at Perkins (our usual sunday habit). A lady about my age and her husband joined us on the bench and we sturck up a conversation.

When I found out that they were from Green Bay, in Eau Claire visiting her daughter, the subject of Brett Favre came up. I was totally taken by surprise at the virulent hate she has for Mr. Favre because "he is a traitor".

As the scheduled sunday approached I began wondering how the fans at Lambeau would react to Brett upon his entrance on the playing field. A couple of days before the game I found an on-line poll that was being taken by the Milwaukee Journal: The question - How will you react to Favre at Lambeau A. Cheer B. Boo C. Not Sure. I took a look at the poll and the boo'ers were at abut 83 %. I was shocked! But then I tried to rationalize it by telling myself that these voters were probably not actual Green Bay people but fans from other parts of the state.

If you watched the game you heard how he was treated. This for a guy who not only took us to two Super Bowls, but provided us with 16 years of the most exciting Packer football since the Lombardi era.

So every sunday now, Brett moves closer to getting back to the Big Show. I hate the Vikings. I hate the fact that Brett now wears purple. But I still love Brett the player. He is THE MAN! I sincerely hope he finishes his career with another ring.

The Packer fans hatred is misdirected. Put the blame where it belongs. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have to go!

There! I said it!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Today I entertained the residents at the Syverson Home in Eau Claire and was surprised to find an old familiar face in the group, my long time acquaintance, Chris Vlahakis. Chris has been very active in the community for many years and is the uncle of the very fine musician, Mike Vlahakis.
Years ago, when the Black Steer was in its heyday, Chris was a regular in our audience whenever the band "Full Circle" performed there. The owner at the time was Bob Vlahakis, Chris' nephew if memory serves me right. Those were good times and the band laid down a lot of music with Ron Keezer on drums, John Buchholz on bass, Joanie Pfeiffer on vocals, and Clarke Maylone on piano and vocals.
It was really nice to see Chris today! I was glad we had the chance to have a little "photo op".


Jimmy Sims 57th birthday is this coming friday and Kim and I were invited over to Wil Denson's and Judy Sims' home for a little birthday celebration earlier this evening. So Happy Birthday, Jimmy! We enjoyed our time with you this evening.

Earlier in the day I rented the animated film "UP" through Red Box. Red Box is the latest thing in movie rental and is putting Blockbuster Video out of business in a hurry as you can get the newest releases for a $1.00 overnight rental. The really cool deal is that if you go online to their website, you can reserve your movie at a Red Box near you merely with a few clicks of the mouse and it's set aside for you in the machine location of your choice.

"UP" is a Pixar (Disney) creation and the animation is really quite startling. The story line of this movie is a bit strange but we enjoyed it.

While I was rustling up a batch of popcorn (can't watch a movie without popcorn) I got to thinking that I should probably do a bit of blogging on my popcorn maker of choice: "Whirley Pop". I have been an avid "Whirley Pop" user for almost 15 years. I think I discovered my first while traveling in (where else) Iowa.

so here is a free plug for a great device:

Makes 6 quarts of theater style popcorn with as little as a teaspoon of oil
Snap-tight lid with steam vents helps keep popcorn light, crisp and flavorful
A Patented stirring system ensures most every kernel will pop
A 34 page book with detailed instructions, recipes and fun popcorn facts and history
The Wooden handle and crank stay cool while popping making it safe to use
Guaranteed with a 25 Year Warranty

Great Popcorn Maker... The 6 Quart Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper is the ultimate popcorn machine. Use any popcorn, as little as a teaspoon of any oil and in less then 3 minutes, there will be 6 quarts of delicious, mouthwatering popcorn to enjoy. Every popper comes with our "Secrets to Great Popcorn" guide with dozens of recipes and instructions. Each Popper is hand assembled and checked for quality. We take pride in each popper made and we stand behind our products.

Fast & Easy -- Make twice as much as a standard bag of microwave. It makes 6 Quarts in less than three minutes.
Popcorn that has Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Flavor -- The Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper features four(4) steam vents which allow steam to escape during popping so your popcorn is always tender and crispy.
Every Kernel Pops -- Patented stirring mechanism designed like a commercial popper prevents sticking and burning by stirring every kernel until it pops - up to 42 times its original size.
Safe to use -- Hardwood handle stays cool and keeps your hands away from steam and heat.
Easy Clean-Up -- Removable lid with quick release clips for easy cleaning. Just wipe with a paper towel and store for later use.
25 Year Warranty -- Every Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper comes with a 25 year warranty on all moving parts. Simply call the customer service department with any problems you may have.

25 Year Warranty on ALL Moving Parts (if it breaks, we fix or send you a new one)
Customer Service team waiting for your Questions and Orders (Weekdays from 9am to 3pm EST at 800-270-2705)
Premium Nylon Gears Permanentely Attached. They won't fall off or strip, or we will replace your lid!
Years of Research into great popcorn, including a patent on the stirring mechanism to make great popcorn.
Detailed Instruction manual with more than 50 recipes included
Sturdy Spring Steel Clips to keep lid on popper when popping and pouring
Feel safe in knowing we have been in business for 25 years and bringing you some of the best products including the Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popping Machine.

As I was reading through the above I wish I had read it more carefully at the time i purchased my first popper. We are currently on our third popper!
The poppers are not really pricey either. They range from 19.95 to 24.95 depending upon where you happen to be shopping. The popper I am currently using I bought for $19.95 at Menard's.

Another really good reason to use the Whirley Pop is that you can stop buying "premium" popcorn such as Orville Redenbacher. I use the generic store brand white popcorn that I get at Festival Foods. Eau Claire. Side note: For some reason, Walmart doesn't carry any white popcorn, just the yellow, of which I am not a great fan .


Sunday, November 8, 2009


I just finished watching the atrocious play of my Green Bay Packers. During the first half before Mark Tauscher ended up hurting his knee, Aaron Rodgers remained upright for the first time this season. Then came the second half and without Tauscher it was "business as usual" and I think that the Bucs ended up sacking Rodgers at least 4 times. Seeing Ahman back in the green and gold made me realize just how worthless Ted Thompson really is.

It made me go back over all the stupid trade-aways that TT has pulled over the last few years. It goes without saying that forcing Brett Favre to retire is at the top of all his bone head moves. Now that I think about it, Brett is very fortunate that things went the way they did because if he were still with this team and the present truly offensive line, he would no doubt be knocked out of the game by now. So I for one and very happy for Brett Favre that he gets to finish his career with a good football team and a chance to get to another Super Bowl.

Let's look at some of the others that old Ted didn't think we needed. First there is Ahman Green. When he was traded to Houston I couldn't fathom it! The fact that Ahman is back on the team again now makes it doubly clear that Thompson doesn't have a clue.

When Thompson traded away two of our best to the hated Vikings, I lost all interest in keeping him at his job as GM. Darren Sharper??? and even worse - Ryan Longwell???? Sharper had two great seasons with the Vikings and is now ball hawking for the Super Bowl contending New Orleans Saints.

Ryan Longwell now enjoys the added comfort zone of being able to kick inside a dome for all home games and the Packers had to face him twice this year, losing both contests.

I grow less fond of Coach McCarthy with each week of football. His team is one of the most penalized in the entire league. And in the second Viking meeting, Johnny Jolly's bone-head head butt cost us points. Jolly should have been benched for such idiocy.

The Packers are truly a team in disarray - and I would be very surprised if they can match last season's record. Next sunday we face the Dallas Cowboys. Anybody want to place any bets?


At 11:15 PM saturday night, the House of Representatives finally passed the health care bill! Unbelievably there were 39 democrats who voted against it. The real shocker was the singular "yes" vote by one republican, Representative Anh "Joseph" Cao, of New Orleans, LA.


On Sunday, December 6, Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao of New Orleans ousted nine-term Democrat William Jefferson from his House seat. Although Jefferson's campaign was doomed from the start by a corruption scandal, Cao's victory still took the nation by complete surprise. Here was a complete unknown, a Vietnamese American lawyer with no prior experience in public office, taking down an African American incumbent in a majority black congressional district. Moreover, he won as a Republican -- something hasn't happened in New Orleans in over 100 years. The improbable victory gave Republicans something to gloat about in the wake of its November defeats. But it seems that the real political surprises are yet to come. House Republicans may soon learn that they're getting more than they bargained for in newcomer Cao.

Cao (pronounced "Gow") is the first Vietnamese American elected to Congress,but only the fourth Asian American to join the House as a Republican. A child of refugees, his father served as an officer in the South Vietnamese Army, fighting communism alongside American troops. It's all too easy to portray Cao as a Vietnamese American with conservative views that stem from a legacy of anti-communism. Here, the obvious comparison can be made with right-wing Cuban Americans of southern Florida. But Cao's New Orleans East -- home to the largest concentration of Vietnamese Americans of Louisiana -- is no Little Havana. And Cao is no Republican ideologue. A political independent until only recently, Cao, who once trained as a Jesuit seminarian working with the poor in Latin America, described his politics as "walking the middle line" in a recent New York Times article.
But by holding fast to the middle, Cao isn't merely playing it safe as the first House Republican to represent New Orleans since Reconstruction. The middle line is proxy for the nuanced political and racial location that Vietnamese Americans of New Orleans occupy, a location that doesn't quite conform to traditional left-to-right political ideologies. Indeed, the Vietnamese Americans of New Orleans pride themselves on self-reliance, yet they also demand government accountability, especially when confronted with injustice. They seek to advance themselves politically and economically, yet seem to do so without sacrificing solidarity with other racial groups, particularly neighboring African Americans. Nowhere were these values more clearly on display than in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Less than six weeks after the storm, the Vietnamese Americans of New Orleans East returned to their homes, doing so over the objection of local and federal officials. Their leader was Father Nguyen The Vien, a political firebrand and head of Mary Queen of Vietnam church (MQVN). "Before the storm, I guess you could call us libertarians," Father Vien said. "Our attitude toward government was: 'you don't bother us, we won't bother you.' But Katrina changed all that. We had a responsibility to speak out." And so with each step of the rebuilding process, the priest and his congregation battled those who stymied their efforts: foot-dragging FEMA officials, The Waste Management Corporation that sought to dump Katrina debris in their backyard, city leaders all-too-eager to sell off New Orleans East to developers. Through it all, the priest was surrounded by a coterie of experienced community organizers, policy wonks and attorneys.
The star among them was Cao. An immigration attorney with a private practice in New Orleans East, Cao led the legal fight to have utilities turned on in the Vietnamese American neighborhood. Along with other MQVN leaders, he also worked to shut down a controversial landfill that was to hold nearly one-forth of Katrina debris in New Orleans East.
As the first anniversary of Katrina approached, MQVN became a force to be reckoned with, and it soon launched a community development corporation to further advance its rebuilding plans, as well as to expand Vietnamese American political power in New Orleans. Cao was named to the organization's board of directors, and MQVN would serve as a vital political base during his congressional campaign. Yet at the same time, MQVN's post-Katrina activism was largely associated with (and celebrated by) the liberal-to-left of the city -- those who considered the community's defense of New Orleans East a rare victory for the grassroots. Cao never downplayed his involvement in these efforts. To the contrary, his campaign highlighted such activism in order to bolster an otherwise slim political record. So too, Democratic African Americans leaders in New Orleans lauded the work of MQVN. African American councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis, a Democrat, referred to its efforts as "a model for other communities." Meanwhile African American organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Advocates for Environmental Human Rights emerged as political allies to MQVN in the post-Katrina era.
As Cao enters his first term, these alliances may prove strong enough to hold him accountable to an agenda that prioritizes the rebuilding of New Orleans, especially within communities that have yet to receive their fair share of federal support. At the very least, his ties to the New Orleans East grassroots will keep him from marching in lock step with House Republicans on key domestic issues.
The day after the election, House minority leader John Boehner dashed off a memo to fellow Republicans with the subject line: "The Future is Cao." His sanguine message: Cao represents fresh change for the Republican Party. Boehner may soon be dismayed by just how correct he is.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Saturday, November 7 - we couldn't have asked for a nicer day to be at a Blugold football game. So Kim and I met Wil and Judy Denson in the parking lot of Carson Park at 11 AM, flashed our season ticket passes to the attendants, and headed for the concession stand to pick up our brats on the way to our seats on the 50 yard line that Wil had so politely been saving for us since 10:30 in the morning. We were lucky enough to sit in front of Jan Satorelli whose son was playing his final home game as a Senior. Jan made the day that much more special as she has a great sense of humor.
Back in the day, UWEC was pretty proud of its Drama Department as well as its Music Department. These days it is the UWEC Marching Band that is the pride of the university. I would venture to say that they are every bit as good as the University of Wisconsin, Madison, marching band. They put on one hell of a half time show and served as the biggest and best cheering section in the entire stadium.
The Blugolds were up against the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse, and all through the first half it didn't look good for the Blugolds as the Eagles jumped out to a 10 point lead.

By second half, with the help of Kyle Paulson's pinpoint passing and adroit running behind the blocking of running back Satorelli, and with more than one desperation trick play, the Blugolds finally pulled out a victory of 27-17.

It was a great finish to an enjoyable season of college football!


Friday, November 6, 2009


Before anything else gets said in today's entry, I wanted to post this wonderful photo of a young man named Sebastian Brown. Sebastian's grandmother, Jill, was an aide at Roosevelt School to my wife, Kim. After viewing the picture on Kim's computer, I asked Jill if I might have a copy to publish in my blog and I will tell you why: so many times as adults we forget the simple pleasures and the real joys of life -- for instance, a bath! Sebastian's face says it all, doesn't it? Have you ever witnessed more complete bliss???



I picked up the Leader-Telegram of thursday, November 5 and read:

The most common deals under the government's $3 billion Cash For Clunkers program, aimed at putting more fuel efficient cars on the road, replaced old Ford and Chevrolet pickups with new ones that got only marginally better gas mileage, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

The single most common swap - which occurred more than 8200 times - involved Ford 150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade their old trucks for new Ford 150s. The fuel economy for the new trucks ranged from 15 mpg to 17 mpg based on engine size and other factors, an improvement of just 1 to 3 mpg over the clunkers.

And all the teabaggers are screaming about how the Obama administration is taking away their freedoms. Yes, we have the right to be dumb asses who not only don't care about saving money, but also can continue to destroy the earth's atmosphere.



Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Another Halloween has come and gone without incident.

Oddly, we never get trick-or-treaters at 4896 Hobbs Road - I think it's because we have a long dark scary driveway. That, coupled with the fact that we never turn on the yard light ( rural term) sort of discourages them. Instead I sit around and stuff myself with miniature Baby Ruth and Butterfinger bars. Oinkety oink! When we lived at 2444 4th Street we got lots of little ghosts and goblins as we lived only within walking distance of Roosevelt School where the Kimster taught.

One summer day one of her little kindergartners came strolling through the house unannounced - I was taking a nap - Kim was gone - I awoke to the sound oF "tinkle" - disconcerting to say the least as I knew Kim was gone. So I got up and waited outside the bathroom door - out pops this little Hmong boy who just looks at me as he passes, says nothing, and leaves!

This led to locking doors.

Now that I think about it, we didn't much get involved in treat-or-treating as kids either. Living out on the country where the nearest neighbor was a goodly walk on a frosty night will quickly discourage such activity. Of course we all heard the stories at school from the city kids who went out and caused all manner of mischief in their respective neighborhoods.

One of the most frightening stories was about home owners who had shotguns loaded with rock salt and wouldn't hesitate to unload it into some miscreants fleeting posterior when warranted. I always tried to imagine just how much that would smart, having had salt enter a cut finger as a youth.

I do remember as a young adult living in Eau Claire hearing the story first hand from a friend of mine who, in the company of other friends of my acquaintance, delivered a steaming pile of fresh cow manure to the base of the Big Steer statue on North Hastings Way asw a Halloween prank.

At one point during my college career my room mates went out to Corky's bar on a Halloween night, consumed copious amounts of Walter's beer, and proceeded to steal a very heavy but obviously not anchored sign from a gas station at the top of Harding Avenue - or as the natives refer to it - "Plank Street Hill" - and tote it back to our second floor apartment at the far end of Madison Street.

I was awakened from deep sleep by the sound of giggling, cursing, and loud bumping, as they struggled to get the sign up the rickety wood steps to the apartment.

Two days later I find that their little escapade is listed in the police report. So here I am, not even a party to the crime, but in possession of stolen property.

The following night as my roomies are out of the apartment drinking again (I think it was their major) I took it upon myself to load the damn thing in my car - no small task even though it was all down hill on the steps - and return it to the gas station from whence it came. All the while I am at this task I have visions of being pulled over by the cops. When I reached the station, I pulled the car into the darkest of shadows and quickly unloaded it, my heart trying to pound its way out of my chest.

There was quite a row with the room mates when they found out what I did but I held firm and righteous. I just wish i could have seen the face of the station owner upon his arrival at work the following morning. The gas station is long gone now. I think there is a cheese house in its stead.

I think my all time favorite Halloween was the one when my now departed friend Gerald Fitzgerald and I put on navy jackets (as close as we were going to be in costuming) and went down town in a driving rain to watch the Packers trounce the Vikings on Monday Night Football.

It was shortly after the big scandal that occurred at a gathering of former naval airmen called The Tail Hook Club that's was all over the news. the Tail Hookers had engaged in sexual harrassment of young women.

Gerald's battle cry for the evening was "TAIL HOOK!"which he repeated as amantra all evening, even under the influence of tequila and many beers.

The Packers trounced the Vikings. it was the good old days with that Brett Favre guy.