HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

AARON RODGERS' NEW HELMET CHOICE

Okay, I admit it, I have a weird fascination with football helmets. I began collecting helmets and restoring them as NFL helmets of some of my favorite players.

Some of the things I learned is back in the day (1960's?), several well known companies were producing helmets for the National Football League: Wilson, MacGregor, Rawlings, and the all time favorite of the league, Riddell.

George "Papa" Halas had a working relationship with the Wilson Sporting Goods Company, located in Chicago, and his teams wore Wilson helmets almost exclusively.

As a senior quarterback at Notre Dame, Paul Hornung wore one of the last leather helmets which was produced by MacGregor. There is an exact autographed replica on eBay currently and the asking price is over a thousand dollars.

Over the past 30 years or so, Wilson, MacGregor, and Rawlings found they couldn't compete with Riddell, and they have all ceased producing helmets.

Actually, MacGregor purchased the Riddell name in the early 1980's but only owned it for three years.

Today, Riddell has one main competitor, Schutt, which has made significant inroads in the last five years, both in college and NFL ranks.

I have observed that many of the players today wear helmets that reflect the helmets they wore in high school and college. When I started my hobby, the Riddell VSR-4 was the principle helmet of the NFL, worn by such greats as Brett Favre and Dan Marino.

This season I became much more aware of the new Riddell Revolution Series helmets that have been available since 2002.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wore the Riddell VSR-4 until this season's concussions. Much ado was made by the media when it was made known that Rodgers had switched to a new helmet, but nobody would tell me exactly what Aaron was now wearing, so I did some online investigating of my own after closely looking at the helmet in the Giant/Packer game.

I concluded that the helmet he has now chosen to wear is the Schutt Air XP. The one distinctive feature is the indent line from the back of the helmet to the ear hole. Other than that, the shape is still very similar to the VSR-4.

After further investigation, I found that this is the same helmet that is worn by Eli Manning of the Giants.

According to the Schutt company:

The Schutt AiR XP Adult Football Helmet offers high tech TPU cushioning in a traditional football helmet shell. Now you can get the look and feel of a classic dome helmet shape with the superior protection and comfort of a TPU cushioning system. Get a perfect fit right out of the box with the inflatable SUREFIT Air Liner system. Look toward the AiR XP if you want a helmet the looks small but packs the biggest protection of any traditional style shell helmet on the football field.


Another interesting tidbit: Riddell just won a dispute with Schutt over the patent for the air liner system.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

CRACKED IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE - BUT BEING RC, I LOVE PAIN

Yesterday I gave a sort of cursory explanation of my latest leg-breaking episode but here are the gory details:

Kim and I were out running errands in her car and had just finished picking up the cashiers check for the year's taxes. We pulled out in to traffic and as we began passing Festival Foods on our left, I suddenly realized we could use some crusty bread to have with recently prepared ham and bean soup, so I asked that she make a quick turn into the Chrysler dealer's parking lot, which she did.

Now we were directly across from the entrance to Festival Foods, but the holiday traffic was bumper to bumper and no one would let us make the crossing, even though the red light down the street was causing traffic to back up all the way back to the last stop light. (I hate that!)

Finally good old rambunctious, no patience, less brains, Larry decided to get out of Kim's car and hoof it across four lanes of traffic even though I am incapable of running because of the artificial knee - thinking back on it, I am probably very lucky not to have been knocked ass over tea kettle in traffic.

But I cleared traffic and as I tried to get up on the unshoveled, icy curb, I went skyward and down! I heard either my knee or ankle make a cracking sound as I went down and as I hit the ground (still on the edge of the traffic lane) I felt a flash of white hot pain in my right knee and ankle.

Ironically, just before I lost my balance, I caught a glimpse of Kim going by on my left. She didn't see me fall and went around to the front of the grocery store to wait for my arrival.

A very good samaritan jumped out of his car and as he pulled me out of traffic asked if I was all right or should he call an ambulance. I could hardly speak at this point but told him not to call an ambulance but to give me a minute to see what I had done to my leg.

Shortly after that, with his help, we got me to my feet. By now traffic behind his car was backed up all the way to Highway 93 and people were blowing their horns and cursing. I told my helper that he had best get to his car and move on before they strung us both up.

I stood in the same spot for a few minutes, waves of nausea sweeping over me from the pain. Then I began hobbling towards my destination - but after about twenty yards I called Kim on her cell and explained what had happened.

I told her my knee was okay and that I had sprained my ankle badly.

After getting the @#$%$# bread, I decided we had best go to urgent care and have the ankle x-rayed.

We sat in the waiting room with a bunch of unruly kids that I wanted to kill - for a very long time - and finally got admitted to see a doctor. All the while I prayed that my ankle was not broken, just badly sprained. After having gone through last year's fall on ice near the office, I did not want to go through weeks of wheel chair, hard cast, crutches, and then learning how to walk on the ankle again after the cast was removed.

As soon as the doctor came in with the x-rays in hand I could tell by his face that the news was not good. We looked at the x-ray and we could clearly see a crack in the fibula (smaller of the two bones) about two inches long, about ten inches above the ankle bone.

This, of course, happened on a saturday (don't emergencies always happen on the weekend???)
so the doctor issued the plastic boot pictured, told me to keep the foot elevated and not to put any weight on it until I got word back from and orthopedist on monday.

Monday I got some REALLY good news. I won't have to have surgery. I won't have to wear a hard cast. I won't have to use crutches unless I want them to ease pain while walking. I am using crutches currently.

I am not going to be able to drive for six weeks because it is my right foot that is encased in plastic and that makes it much too wide. I could end up accelerating while trying to use the brake.

I want to give a shout out to whomever that nice guy was who came to my aid while I was writhing in pain and I cannot tell you how fortunate I am to have Kim Wilson as my loving partner. Lesser women would have divorced me by now.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Snowing, It's Sleeting, The Old Man is Falling

Yesterday I gave myself a little extra something for Christmas - a cracked right fibula and very badly sprained right ankle. I was attempting to cross the street near Festival Foods, made it through all the traffic, but when I tried to jump up onto the curb to get out of traffic, my right foot went out of control, I felt an incredible jolt of pain in my surgically repaired knee, and heard (or felt) a cracking noise in my ankle.

A passing motorist jumped out of his car and was about to call an ambulance but I talked him out of it by telling him I would be all right.

Luckily, Kim was driving this day and she got me into the car and to urgent car for x-rays. I prayed throughout that I hadn't broken my ankle, especially since it was less than a year ago that I broke my left ankle.

The x-rays revealed that I had cracked the fibula - relatively good news as I won't have to be put into a hard cast and live in a wheel chair for four weeks.

The soft tissue around the ankle is very, very painful today and I have spent most of yesterday and today on my back with the leg elevated.

It will still probably take six weeks to get back to normal but hopefully not.

Merry Christmas,eh?

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM SANTA

I got this cartoon from Dale Drevlow (among many others). I like this one best as it fits right in with my song parody of "Up On the House Top": "Down through the chimney, plip, plop, plup! Who in the hell has to clean this up?"

I am really pissed at the underling that my snow plow person sent to plow us out last night. He hardly plowed out the office property at all - I can't reach the garage! And at the house he didn't plow out the driveway that runs outside our front door and left so much snow where he did plow that I nearly got stuck this morning trying to leave.

Now I get nothing but an answer machine when I call.

Tomorrow night I am doing a Christmas party at Cabin Ridge. I found out today that because of the heavy snow, I wil not be able to drive my vehicle in to the cabin where the performance is to be held but must, instead, ride the sleigh "over the river and through the woods" and will be performing without electricity.

I got an "E-Letter" from Howard Dean this morning and although I have no money to spend, I will be most definitely contributing to Senator Sanders war chest.

Here is a copy of that letter:

Larry -

I have known Bernie Sanders for more than 20 years. I have often worked with him in Vermont, but when he took to the floor of the Senate last week to stand up and denounce the extension of the Bush tax cuts for billionaires in an unconventional nine-hour filibuster, I'd never been more honored to call him my friend and my Senator.

Bernie is a progressive hero. He has spent his entire life fighting for the poor and the middle class, just as he is now in this tax cut fight.

Make no mistake about it; this tax cut deal that President Obama struck with Republicans may be good short-term politics, but it's not the best course for the country. It's not fiscally responsible in addressing the deficit, the biggest long-term threat to America. There is no shared pain in this agreement. Instead, this is the easy way out for everybody.

Bernie Sanders didn't back down against long odds -- he had the backbone to stand up and fight for what's right. Washington needs more bold leadership like Bernie's. Let's make sure that every Democrat in Washington gets the message: when you stand up and fight, we'll have your back.

Support a progressive hero -- Please contribute $5 right now.

This isn't just about tax cuts for the rich either. The deal includes borrowing $120 billion from China and other sources in order to make up a shortfall in revenue for the Social Security Trust Fund caused by the additional payroll tax cut.

We all know Republicans are chomping at the bit to destroy Social Security. Cutting funding will only embolden them to step up their attacks to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, and privatize the program entirely.

Social Security is a cornerstone of the American middle class yet Republicans, who will control the House of Representatives in 2011, want to destroy it. This payroll tax cut sets us up to make it that much harder to stop them. So while most in Washington are ignoring the real damage this bill could cause in the years to come, Bernie has made it a central part of his opposition.

Today, we can send a message even Washington will understand by supporting a progressive hero for standing up for America.

Please contribute now.

Bernie stood up for us. Let's make sure everyone in Washington knows we have his back.

And thank you, Larry, for everything you do.

-Howard

Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
Founder, Democracy for America




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Saturday, December 11, 2010

WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL AND MY WORLD IS SO DELIGHTFUL

In the midst of winter 2010's first major snow storm. Unfortunately it cost me a job this morning. I was to do a brunch in Menomonie, just half an hour after a meeting, but the powers that be called my manager yesterday and cancelled because of the impending storm. And it is as beauty!

For years I plowed out both our properties with my trusty old Allis Chalmers tractor with a heavy snow plow, I rather enjoyed that task and had it down to a science.

But the Allis became not so trusty about three years ago and now we have a professional plow us out whenever we get four or more inches of snow.
So I thought it would be fun to get a picture of the old "Boys Nite Inn" mid-storm. I also took a photo of this wonderful old wood stove I have that keeps me warm no matter how cold it gets outside.

I used to throw all-guys parties out here - musicians mostly - and I would make pizzas for everybody and we'd drink some beer and talk smart.

I really should throw some more of those. But wait, that would mean cost and I can't afford it. Thanks Presidents Bush and now Obama.

I am now officially really pissed with Obama. And to think I believed all those campaign promises. He's turning out to the best Republican president ever.

I can't stand to even turn on the news these days. I don't want to know what the hell's going on -- there's nothing I can do about it anyway.

I will give you an example of why:

Scott Walker’s inauguration is fast approaching and he’s using the occasion to rake in campaign cash. On January 3rd he will be sworn into office, and unlike Democratic Governor Doyle, who donated his inaugural proceeds to charity, all the money raised at Walker's inaugural events will go to the Republican Party or Walker's campaign account.


Enough said.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

SEBASTIAN BROWN AND GHOSTS OF MY CHRISTMAS PAST

Not too long ago I received this photo of my little pal Sebastian Brown.

Sebastian Brown is a wonderful sounding name - it would be a great stage name as well as that of a professional football player or an actor.

Sebastian is here pictured with his mom, Julie, . This year their favorite Green Bay Packer is Charles Woodson, jersey 21, and Julie is wearing a number 93, which was Gilbert "Grave Digger" Brown's number back in the day. That is fitting because of the family name - but you've probably figured that out already.

But that's not really today's subject. My thesis for this morning relates to the old saw "Christmas is for kids." And not too long ago I got a great photo of Sebastian sitting on Santa's lap (published it to my Face Book) and it set me thinking about how wonderful Christmas is for a child. Thinking back over my own life, remembering the smell of a freshly cut fir, decorated lavishly with "bubblers", really large candle shaped lights, tinsel, and garlands. The glow of an artificial candle in the window, sitting right in front of a frosted window pane.

We played Christmas music when it was supposed to be played, at the beginning of Advent not just before Thanksgiving as they are now!!

Don't get me started!

And the gayly wrapped presents would suddenly appear beneath the tree - after we all found out about Santa - and on Christmas Eve, the Heagles would milk about thirty cows, take our baths, gather around the tree and say the Rosary, which only prolonged a child's agony of wondering what he got for Christmas.

Then came the thrill of opening presents. I can't remember if gifts were distributed one at a time or if there was a melee, but in no time the living room floor was strewn with gift wrappers.

We were not a wealthy family but I think that made us better people because one or two gifts meant a lot more to us than it would to others.

I do remember the one year that I found where mom had stashed our already wrapped presents, and I had asked for a Robin Hood Crossbow (all plastic except for the rubber band and it shot those suction cup rubber tipped darts. Every day when mom wasn't looking, I would try to determine what my present was by feeling it up.

Finally, going out of my little mind, I actually made a little tear which revealaed the printing and it was, indeed what I wanted.

The real lesson came on Christmas Eve when I had to act the big phony and look happy and surprised. That never happened again.

So, Sebastian Brown, enjoy these chilld's Christmases to the utmost! You are a beautiful child with a very strong name!

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Monday, November 29, 2010

THANKSGIVING WAS GOOD - PACKER LOSS DAMPENS SPIRITS ON WEEKEND

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving. I prepared a nine pounder with all the trimmings for just Kim and me.

Went a little nuts with the desserts - two pumpkin pies, a peanut butter cheese cake and a two layer cheese cake!

I also resurrected a stuffing that i "made up" some years ago and it is worthy of sharing:

Larry's Turkey Stuffing

one pound of lean ground pork
clove minced garlic
salt
pepper
red pepper flakes to taste
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds

fresh mushrooms, sliced
medium yellow onion . chopped
1 package Uncle Ben's Rice/Wild Rice
1 package turkey stuffing

mix the pork and first five ingredients together thoroughly by hand. Put a little oil in a skillet and pinch off small pieces of the pork sausage to brown evenly in the pan. When it has released its juices, add the onion and the mushrooms and cook until vegetables are done. set aside

Follow instructions for stuffing and Rice/Wld Rice. when finished, add all ingredients together and toss thoroughly. Stuff bird with part of dressing. Bake remainder covered during final 45 minutes with turkey.

Good stuff!

Happy Holidays!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

LOTS TO BE THANKFUL FOR

Happy Feast Day. Thanksgiving is probably my most favorite holiday of the entire season thanks to the amazing traditional spread my mother, sweet Alice, would produce every November - except for one.

Matt Capell and I were mere young roustabouts making the college scene at UWEC and one November we decided that we would go over to the farm early Thanksgiving Day, just after mom, dad, and John had left for Mass in Menomonie.

We clambered in with as 22 pound turkey and enough yams and russets to feed the Bulgarian army - fresh cranberries and two "made from scratch" pumpkin pies.

We also brought along way too much red and white wine. By the time the rest of the group came home, we were the happiest chefs in the world.

Things change with time. Jack and Alice are gone home, John lives way out on the west coast, Anson is newly moved to Algoma, Wisconsin. Bob and Dorothy graciously invite us to join Dorothy's large family of sons, daughters, grandsons and grand daughters, but since I am so selfish as to keep this day to myself, this year it may well just be Kim and me.

So the first thing I did was make dessert - er, actually, desserts. Monday I turned out an amazing no bake peanut butter cheesecake. A pound of cream cheese, a pound of peanut butter, sugar, vanilla, all whipped together in the Cuisinart, turned out into a bowl, then whipped a half cup of heavy whipping cream and gently folded the whipped cream into the batter, poured it all into a spring from pan and refrigerated it.

Tuesday I turned out two pumpkin pies. Wednesday I made yet another cheesecake - this one Kim's favorite - a two layer cheese cake with a recipe from long time friend Thom Sobota.

So I am up and at 'em this morning as I have dressing to make (Italian sausage, mushroom, rice, wild rice, and bread stuffing), then I will finish thawing the 9 pound ButterBall turkey, get that stuffed and into the oven so as to be ready by supper time.

I do love Thanksgiving!

And I have so much to be thankful for! After all, John McCain and Sarah Palin might have been our leadership on this day.

I have two terrific sons in New York City - both supremely talented musicians and great guys. I also am blessed with three great brothers and I am blessed to be married to Kim Wilson, the best person in the whole world!

So HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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I have to share two e mails I got from my e mail pen pal, Kirk Roebuck, of Ohio. Kirk and I have been conversing through e mail for several years and i would love to meet him some day!

Here are some of his observations on professional sports figures and a "sick and tired" editorial written by a friend of his:

I kind of agonize when people (athletes, actors and singers mainly) hang around too long. Seeing Muhammed Ali and the condition he is in now makes it hard to remember the good-looking tremendously skilled boxer that owned the sport for so long. I recently saw a picture of Forrest Gregg being introduced at a Packer game and to me he looks kind of like a large, really old elf. Andy Williams was once a good singer with several really good hits (love Moon River) and good Christmas shows..now he can barely hold a note in tune, yet refuses to quit, and sad people still pay lots of money to hear him. What’s really sad (and scary!) is old sex symbol women (actresses and models) that try to pass themselves off as sexy and good looking when they clearly are not. Around here, browns fans (dumb fools that they are) like to talk about Jim Brown quitting at his peak……….but they either forget or don’t know………..he quit when Modell wouldn’t allow him to miss training camp so he could be in Europe filming The Dirty Dozen…so he threw a hissy fit and quit…….and was surprised when he didn’t get his way. Same thing happened with him this year…when the brownies had their ring of fame crap (why do all teams just copy each other?) he was upset about something so he wrote a letter about racism and stuff and didn’t show up. Ooh…that really showed the Cleveland organization.

I think there is something in we humans (in the genes, I guess) that doesn’t allow us to know when it is time to quit……….yet really big money might have something to do with it!

My mom used to say (not an original thought) that when you think you are going to be missed, take a bucket, fill it with water, put your foot in it, then pull out your foot…..the hole you leave in the water is how much you’re going to be missed.

More and more in our sicko society there is the evidence of schadenfreude……..pleasure derived from the failure, misfortune of others. (Particularly in those with low self-esteem). Brain scan studies show a correlation with envy. When I see fans in the stands heckling and jeering and booing I wonder what kind of sad lives they must live.

I guess what I see is the respect Favre gets from other players………….forget the media and the fans……….they can’t relate because they haven’t competed at his level. At the end of the Packer-Viking game in GB, seeing so many Packer players and even some of the non-playing personnel shaking hands, hugging and saying things to Favre is probably the highest achievement in the sport………….respect and admiration of your peers.

In one sense I am glad to see that he was able to play so long………….eventually all organizations will cast aside ANY player, no matter what they have done for that organization. Yet Brett was able to say…fine…I’ll play somewhere else, and he did, until no longer able. Good for him. Kind of funny though how the whole Viking team collapsed this year. The offensive line, the whole defense. Wow.

Right now, I am hoping Philly will win the super bowl with Vick as MVP…………………that would really annoy the dog fanciers, wouldn’t it!

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I’m tired of the right stating they want to take back their country when they said nothing when Bush was spending millions to go to war in Iraq.

I’m tired of the constant complaints from the right about the mortgage melt down when they refused to put in oversight to the banking industry.

I’m tired of the tea baggers complaining about the deficit when they will not offer up one area they would cut because they know it would be political suicide. Anyway, it is so much easier to criticize than to offer constructive ideas for improvement.

I’m tired of the constant complaints about healthcare, even though we are the richest country in the world and have individuals that can’t get chemotherapy of access to good healthcare. Call up a cardiologist and tell him you want an appointment but you have no healthcare and no money.

I’m tired of the worn out slogan “support our troops” when men come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with no jobs and no future. And can you imagine your future if you were wounded?!

I’m tired of the rich and corporations complaining about their taxes when everyone knows they have shelters and other tax deductions most of us do not have because we are taxed based on our first dollar.

I’m tired of the constant racism against Obama. They call him a socialist, a communist and even a Nazi (which is a grave insult to everyone who died in the Holocaust) because they can’t call him the N-word. (at least not in public)

I’m tired of the praise for Condolessa Rice when she ignored the warnings before 9/11 and did absolutely nothing but become a puppet for Dick Cheney who made a fortune from Halleburtin and the Iraq War.

I’m tired of the right wingers making themselves sound so pure and innocent and against big government when they said absolutely nothing while Bush was spending money like a drunken sailor.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

MAY THE BLUE BIRD OF HAPPINESS FLY UP YOUR NOSE


Last June, as a joke, I bought this little bluebird sitting on his solar-powered perch. He hung at our front door at the house until one day we both left the house in a bad mood and as we passed the motion detector in the little birdie's chest spotted us and went into his songs. Yes, theRe are two!

We both said, at the same time: "Shut Up!" A sure sign that the blue bird of happiness at the house had worn out his welcome so I moved him to winter quarters here at the bungalow.

Of course with the shorter days of winter beginning, Mr. Bird is not getting enough sunshine (who is???) to function properly. So I hanged him from my work light and now whenever I come into the office and turn on the light, he sings his songs. Both of them. ( His little bill works, too.)

In addition to fake bird therapy, I am teaching myself not to deal with things that can I do nothing about. So I have buried myself in the shallow trench that is the National Football League.

Circus for the masses.

Still can't make up my mind if I am preparing a massive Thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us. Sister-in-law will be here over the week end and I shall stuff her with leftovers. Dinner out -- it's just not right!

I always have a rough time with winter's short days and so little sunshine. But as long as I have a couple cords of stove wood, this little joint ain't a bad place to hang. That and my bird and music!

More and more, I realize that a hot stove and good music on the box goes a long way to curing what ails me.

Happy Thanksgiving! (early)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

GLAD TO SEE HAVNER BACK - LOCK UP HIS MOTORCYCLE IN THE OFF SEASON

When it came time to get the Green Bay Packer squad down to the required 53 players, management cut Spencer Havner, which really stunned me as I was very impressed with his level of play in 2009 when he played linebacker, special teams, and tight end. A player has to do quite a a few good things for me to start noticing him.

He made more than several key catches as a tight end, and filled in ably at linebacker when needed. In addition, he contributed greatly to special teams in tackles. In fact, I really didn't like seeing the Pack let him go. he is now our #2 tightend, and Rodgers likes throwing to him! 4 TD catches last year. plus, as mentioned earlier, he can play linebacker in an emergency.

When Havner was put on the trading block, he was immediately snapped up by the Detroit Lions, but this past week Detroit him as he is currently nursing a shoulder injury and the Lions had a wealth of linebackers.

During the off season, Havner wrecked his motorcycle and was arrested for alcohol consumption. Sounds like Spencer best give up either drinking or motorcycle riding. He's too good an athlete to end up a vegetable because of a motorcycle accident.

At any rate, WELCOME BACK, SPENSE! I HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT REMINDER OF THE SEASON AS A GREEN BAY PACKER!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Aaron Sorkin Has It Right - Tired of "Bumper Sticker Patriots"

Today, on veteran's Day, Aaron Sorkin says it better than I ever could:

Aaron Sorkin

Posted: November 11, 2010 12:18 AM
I was 18 when President Carter rattled America's saber. The Soviets had just invaded Afghanistan, and Carter wanted to show the Russians that we weren't kidding around so he re-instituted registration for the draft. (He didn't re-institute the draft, just registration for the draft.) I'd just finished my freshman year at Syracuse University and had a summer job in Boston when my 18th birthday came up. My parents insisted that I register at a Boston post office, using my Scarsdale, New York, home address and my Syracuse, New York, dormitory phone number in the hopes that it would somehow slow the draft board down should things escalate beyond boycotting the Olympics. I'm not my father, who served and fought in World War II, and I'm not my sister Debbie, who after graduating from law school signed up with the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps. I'm not my brother Noah, who after graduating from law school took a job with the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office -- rising through the ranks to the Organized Crime Division. (Much to our mother's unhappiness, Noah would often be one of the very few people who knew where key prosecution witnesses were being hidden -- making his throat a prime target for Luca Brasi.) And I'm not my mother, who taught public school in New York City her whole adult life in spite of having an education and a resume that would have allowed her to get paid a lot more for a lot less. To be clear, the most dangerous thing I do is get reviewed by the New York Times. When I sacrifice it's by writing a check.

Not so for U.S. Army Sgt. Mike Pereira. Sgt. Pereira (who I'll call Mike for the rest of this brief column because that's what he prefers) enlisted when he was 18 years old. In 2005 and 2006 he was serving at the Bagram Internment Facility in Afghanistan where he analyzed who we'd just captured and why. His MOS (Military Operational Specialty) was 96 Bravo. "Nobody cared what my name was," he says. "Nobody cared what my skin color was or if I believed in God. 96 Bravo was my contribution to the fight."

Mike's quick to tell you that he wasn't ever shot at. "I mean we took mortars and rockets," he says, his voice implying but nothing more serious than that. Okay, so except for the mortars and the rockets, Mike wasn't fired at while he was in Afghanistan. He was honorably discharged, then hired by a civilian contractor working out of Fort Bragg. This time Mike went to Iraq, and he'd like me to not reveal any more information than this: It was once again his job to analyze prisoners. His interrogations took place in the ICU of the base hospital where he'd question prisoners who needed medical treatment. Once he saw an infant with no skin on his face.

Intelligence gathered from his interrogations would become operational the same night. That's why he was riding in a CH-77 helicopter back to his base. "I wouldn't worry unless any of them were worried." The "them" he's talking about were the Navy SEALs he was riding with. But suddenly the SEALs were worried. The large metallic box filled with supplies and attached to the bottom of the CH-77 was making the bird swivel like a pendulum. Outside his window, Mike saw a fire. "There are always fires in Iraq," he says. "I don't know why." But this fire kept going past his window and past his window and past his window. The helicopter was spinning out of control. The SEALs were shouting.

"This is it," he thought. "Right now." And Mike blacked out.

He doesn't remember how the helicopter got on the ground -- just that he sat there under the stars breathing for hours. And that it took it him some time to understand that he wasn't dead. Mike quit his job and came home to Bellingham, Washington. He and his girlfriend had saved enough money to go to school.

The first 30 days were fine. It was the 31st day that would get him. He took his girlfriend to a local movie theater to see Transformers. In the middle of the movie he experienced a dizziness that was completely foreign to him. He was anxious -- "like when you're thinking, 'Did I leave the coffee pot on? Something's wrong. Someone's in danger.'" His heart started racing and he couldn't breathe. He excused himself, went to the men's room and splashed water on his face. His girlfriend took him home.

He went back to see Transformers again, having missed most of a movie he wanted to see. It happened all over again and, incredibly, right at the same moment in the movie, except this time Mike understood why.

Michael Bay had staged a helicopter crash.

Every day after that got worse. He told his father, "I feel like I'm dying." He went to a doctor who gave him a Xanax and told him he should really see a doctor.

And it just kept on coming. He couldn't sleep, he couldn't eat, he couldn't socialize with his friends and "listen to them talk about cars and style. I wanted to tell them, 'I died.'" His family, "bless their hearts," told him to give it up to God. His girlfriend "took a pretty hard hit from me" -- something he won't be able to get back. Mike told his girlfriend she had to leave -- that he's now a danger and is no longer in control of himself, and here comes some heroics from the girlfriend. She doesn't go anywhere.

She tells everyone she can find that "there's something wrong with my boyfriend. This isn't him. There's something going on." And she takes Mike to a psychiatrist where he's diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Mike foots the medical bill.

He was introduced to Tim Nelson, a former marine who was good with returning vets with PTSD. The two would sit on a park bench for hours telling stories. He really felt like Tim Nelson was exactly who he needed to talk to and that Tim was helping.

Mike helped clean up the blood when Tim Nelson committed suicide by shooting himself in the face.

Mike was now certain he was going to suffer the same fate. He decided he needed to serve. He had to. That's what he was trained for, and that's where he was comfortable. He went to Big Brothers/Big Sisters to sign up. They loved him. A returning vet who didn't drink or smoke. The 22-year-old kid behind the desk said:

"Listen, we just need to ask you three questions:

1. Have you ever killed anyone? No.
2. Have you ever been shot at? No, not really.
3. What's PTSD?"

Mike was denied. He had letters of recommendation from his doctors but he didn't get the gig. Mike was dead, and nobody would believe him.

Least of all Eric Greitens. Greitens, a former SEAL, founded The Mission Continues, and somehow Mike found Eric Greitens. "You don't need an MOS to serve," Eric told him. "You're going to be a leader. I promise you. In civilian life you're going to be a leader. But first do what I tell you to do." Okay. "There's a 90-year-old woman who can't stand up by herself. She lives in a hole. Go fix up the outside of her house." Mike did as he was told, and soon he was joined by five other vets and five became thirty and one house became fifteen and fifteen houses became five blocks and weeds were pulled and fences painted and garages cleared out. Now Mike had a fellowship with the Mission -- a monthly stipend so that he could go to school while he served, and at school he started to soar.

His girlfriend is now his wife and Mike is now the Director of the Fellowships Program at The Mission Continues. He still has hard days, but Mike knows he's alive.

There have been more than Mike and Mike's girlfriend, Tim Nelson and Eric Greitens. Mike's serious injuries should have been diagnosed and treated way before he went to the movies.

I don't have room here to talk about the tens of thousands of other Mikes. I don't have room to fully talk about Specialist Jennifer Crane, who needed a permission slip from her parents when she enlisted because she was 17 and a half -- who finished Basic Training on Sept. 11, 2001, and was deployed to Afghanistan less than two years later -- who took mortar fire from the Taliban and who, after returning home with undiagnosed PTSD, slept in her car, turned to coke and paid for it first with her savings, then by sleeping with her dealer and then by sleeping with whoever her dealer told her to sleep with. Jennifer has five years clean now, is married with a two-year-old daughter and is the head of Give an Hour. She travels the country speaking to Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans with PTSD and addiction.

At Give an Hour and The Mission Continues they know what hardly any of us know -- that 15 percent of American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are suicides.

During Veterans Week you're going to hear people -- particularly those for whom Veterans Week merely means we're one week closer to the Iowa Caucuses -- tell us to "Support Our Troops." And when they do I'd like us to politely ask them to put their pom poms down for a moment. I'd like us to tell them that if you really want to honor our troops you won't use them for an easy applause line, that you won't use them to get votes, or, most insulting to them of all, to divide us into real Americans and fake Americans. I'd like us to ask them what, other than saying it, are they actually doing to support our troops? I'd like to ask the people who say government's bad what they think of the Department of Veteran's Affairs. When we're fighting two wars, should they get more money or less? And where is that money going to come from -- magic or taxes? Mostly I'd like to ask them three questions, but out of respect for President Bring it On, who couldn't get it together to protect Florida from Alabama, I'll skip the first two and just ask the bumper-sticker patriots Question #3: What's PTSD?

If you have to turn to an aide for an answer to that, please get off the stage. There are real leaders like Mike and Jennifer we'd like to listen to. And that's how you can support our troops.

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Son JonAthan is invloved in some great new projects. One is a new band: "SLEIGHER". FOLLOW THIS URL AND LISTEN TO SOME OF THE METAL VERSIONS OF CHRISTMAS:

http://www.facebook.com/n/?pages%2FSleigher%2F148792230224&mid=343cd88G1f33a74aG5c71f84G4c&n_m=lheagle%40larryheagle.com


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Monday, November 1, 2010

I VOTED EARLY - BE SURE THAT YOU VOTE

I stopped into my polling place on the way home today and cast my ballot. I am really appalled by the attitude of many in this country who are so quick to condemn President Obama - that is why I am copying the following article:


Obama Will Triumph -- So Will America
By Frank Schaeffer - New York Times best selling author.


Before he'd served even one year President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted left and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds -- including this white, straight, 57-year old,former religious right wing agitator, now progressive writer and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader) this unlikely Obama supporter -- are sticking with our President.

Why?-- because he is succeeding.

We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us.

Obama's steady supporters will be proved right. Obama's critics will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst.

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe , the Second World War and the Depression has any president faced more adversity. Not since the Civil War has any president led a more bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial
integration has any president faced a more consistently short-sighted and willfully ignorant opposition - from both the right and left.

Here is what Obama faced when he took office-- none of which was his fault:

# An ideologically divided country to the point that America was really two countries

# Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that was unnecessary and immoral

# The worst economic crisis since the depression

# America 's standing in the world at the lowest point in history

# A country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture of prisoners of war

# A health care system in free fall

# An educational system in free fall

# A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions(about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done nothing)

# An impasse between culture warriors from the right and left

# A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally irresponsible Bush administration.

And those were only some of the problems sitting on the President's desk!

"Help" from the Right?

What did the Republicans and the religious right, libertarians and half-baked conspiracy theorists -- that is what the Republicans were reduced to by the time Obama took office -- do to "help" our new president (and our country) succeed?

They claimed that he wasn't a real American, didn't have an American birth certificate, wasn't born here, was secretly a Muslim, was white-hating "racist", was secretly a communist, was actually the Anti-Christ, (!) and was a reincarnation of Hitler and wanted "death panels" to kill the elderly!

They not-so-subtly called for his assassinationthrough the not-so- subtle use of vile signs held at their rallies and even a bumper sticker quoting Psalm 109:8. They organized "tea parties" to sound off against imagined insults and all government in general and gathered to howl at the moon. They were led by insurance industry lobbyists and deranged (but well financed) "commentators" from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh.

The utterly discredited Roman Catholic bishops teamed up with the utterly discredited evangelical leaders to denounce a president who was trying to actually do something about the poor, the environment, to diminish the number of abortions through
compassionate programs to help women and to care for the sick! And in Congress
the Republican leadership only knew one word: "No!"

In other words the reactionary white, rube uneducated, crazy American far right,combined with the educated but obtuse neoconservative war mongers, religious right shills for big business, libertarian Fed Reserve-hating gold bug, gun-loving
crazies, child-molesting acquiescent "bishops"frontier loons and evangelical gay-hating flakes found one thing to briefly unite them: their desire to stop an uppity black man from succeeding at all costs!

"Help" from the Left?

What did the left do to help their newly elected president? Some of them excoriated the President because they disagreed with the bad choices he was being forced to make regarding a war in Afghanistan that he inherited from the worst president in
modern history!

Others stood up and bravely proclaimed that the President's economic policies had "failed" before the President even instituted them! Others said that since all gay rights battles had not been fully won within virtually minutes of the President taking office,
they'd been "betrayed"! (Never mind that Obama's vocal support to the gay community is stronger than any other president's has been. Never mind that he signed a new hate crimes law!)

Those that had stood in transfixed legions weeping with beatific emotion on election night turned into an angry mob saying how "disappointed" they were that they'd not all immediately been translated to heaven the moment Obama stepped into the White House!
Where was the "change"? Contrary to their expectations they were still mere mortals!
And the legion of young new supporters was too busy texting to pay attention for longer than a nano second. "Governing"?! What the hell does that word, uh, like mean?"

The President's critics left and right all had one thing in common: impatience laced with little-to-no sense of history (let alone reality) thrown in for good measure. Then of course there were the white, snide know-it-all commentators/talking heads who just
couldn't imagine that maybe, just maybe they weren't as smart as they thought they were and certainly not as smart as their president. He hadn't consulted them, had he? So he must be wrong!

The Obama critics' ideological ideas defined their idea of reality rather than reality defining their ideas-say, about what is possible in one year in office after the hand that the President had been dealt by fate, or to be exact by the American idiot nation that voted Bush into office. twice!

Meanwhile back in the reality-based community - in just 12 short months -- President Obama:

#Continued to draw down the misbegotten war in Iraq (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Thoughtfully and decisively picked the best of several bad choices regarding the war in Afghanistan
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Gave a major precedent-setting speech supporting gay rights (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Restored America 's image around the globe
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Banned torture of American prisoners
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stopped the free fall of the American economy
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Put the USA squarely back in the bilateral international community
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Put the USA squarely into the middle of the international effort to halt global warming
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stood up for educational reform
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Won a Nobel peace prize
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Moved the trial of terrorists back into the American judicial system of checks and balances
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Did what had to be done to start the slow, torturous and almost impossible process of health care reform that 7 presidents had failed to even begin
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Responded to hatred from the right and left with measured good humor and patience
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stopped the free fall of job losses
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed and dangerous far right opposition that included the sort of disgusting people that show up at public meetings carrying loaded weapons and carrying Timothy McVeigh-inspired signs about the "blood of tyrants" needing to "water the tree of liberty".
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Showed that he could not only make the tough military choices but explained and defended them brilliantly
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

Other than those "disappointing" accomplishments -- IN ONE YEAR -- President Obama "failed"! Other than that he didn't "live up to expectations"!
Who actually has failed...
...are the Americans that can't see the beginning of a miracle of national rebirth right under their jaded noses. Who failed are the smart ass ideologues of the left and right who began rooting for this President to fail so that they could be proved right in their
dire and morbid predictions. Who failed are the movers and shakers behind our obscenely dumb news cycles that have turned "news" into just more stupid entertainment for an entertainment-besotted infantile country.

Here's the good news:President Obama is succeeding without the help of his lefty "supporters" or hate-filled Republican detractors!

The Future Looks Good

After Obama has served two full terms, (and he will), after his wisdom in moving deliberately and cautiously with great subtlety on all fronts -- with a canny and calculating eye to the possible succeeds, (it will),after the economy is booming and new industries are burgeoning, (they will be), after the doomsayers are all proved not just wrong but silly: let the record show that not all Americans were panicked into thinking the sky was falling.

Just because we didn't get everything we wanted in the first short and fraught year Obama was in office not all of us gave up. Some of us stayed the course. And we will be proved right.

PS. if you agree that Obama is shaping up to be a great president, please pass this on and hang in there! Pass it on anyway to ensure that his "report card" gets the attention it deserves.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

SUNDAY NIGHT'S VICTORY CAUSES MIXED FEELINGS

I am having difficulty watching what Brett Favre is going through right now. I was reading earlier that Minnesota fans are becoming skeptical of his "acting". One minute he's clenching his elbow like he's about to pass out and the next moment he is pumping his fist with complete abandon.

And if it's not his elbow it's his ankle which seems to bother him only after a play fails.

It has gotten difficult to figure out how much is real and how much is an act. And to me, that's sad. If he had only really retired the first time, he would've gone down in the books as one of the greatest quarterbacks, if not the greatest, to play the game.

Instead he has become a sad joke because of press and television "coverage" of his off-field activities.

Anyway, that's how part of me feels. Then there's another part of me that looked forward to the Viking/Packer game with vengeance. When Favre fell down on that last play and then jumped back up (bad ankle and all) and threw to Moss all I could think was: "Oh my god! He's going to do it again!"

Did you see Clay Matthews tear off his own helmet and throw it on the ground as he charged the back field? I found out today that he had complained over and over to the referees that the Vikings were grabbing his face mask - so he finally took it off so they couldn't grab it.

I love that kid!

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

CAN'T LEAVE YOU ALONE FOR A MINUTE AND ...

We had quite a wednesday! Wednesday afternoon I spent keeping vigil for my friend Doug Cox who was in the hospital for yet another procedure. Kim had the house to herself as she was visiting with a teacher friend of hers.

On my way to the hospital via Highway 94, I spotted three different police cars, one from the Eau Claire sheriff's , one from the State Patrol and one from the Eau Claire Police. All were traveling at a high rate of speed with lights flashing and sirens wailing.

I thought that maybe they were doing a sting operation on the interstate.

When I got home Kim related the following story to me.

Kim's sitting visiting when suddenly there is a very loud banging on the front door. She opens the door to find an Eau Claire policeman armed with an automatic weapon.

Kim doesn't see the weapon until she opens the door. She says "Hi! and then "That's a gun!"

The policeman informs her that there is a felon who has escaped and is somewhere in the neighborhood and that she should keep her door locked. He leaves.

Kim and visitor are understandably shook by the news and start looking out various windows to see what they can see - which is nothing.

Some time passes and there is another really loud banging on the door, which puts the women's hearts in their throats. This time it is an Eau Claire Sheriff's deputy who tells them that the felon has been captured and everything is all clear.

Today's Eau Claire Leader telegram ran the story as the lead story. (There is a brief story on the incident at the following link:

http://www.leadertelegram.com/news/daily_updates/article_300ef1cc-d6eb-11df-b3ae-001cc4c03286.html


Here's some quotes from the Leader Telegram:

Law enforcement officials from several Wisconsin and Minnesota agencies were on hand when 20 year old Quyumba Ontario Wilson of Minnesota was apprehended wednesday near Hobbs Road in the town of Washington. Wilson, a Mankato State University student was wanted on multiple felony charges. He was taken into custody after a pursuit that reached speeds of 100 mph. To view more photos go to leadertelegramphotos.com.

Wilson is accused of stalking, raping, strangling, and holding against her will, a woman student from Mankato State.

Kim wants to express her thanks to all the agencies involved, especially the Eau Claire Police and Eau Claire Sheriff's Department for being so quick to respond and warn everyone in the neighborhood.

For photos of the incident go to: leadertelegramphotos.com



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Saturday, October 9, 2010

APPLE DOESN'T FALL FROM THE TREE

Kim and I spent some time at Ottowa House Books (aka Wax Paper Etc.) on water Street just past Fifth. If you love the smell of aged books as much as I do, and a chance to browse a great variety of topics, you really should stop in and meet the very fascinating proprietor, Charlie VandenBreul.

Tell him what you like to read and he will steer you to some appropriate titles. I always enjoy his company as I browse. Do stop in!

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I received this next writing from my first cousin Ray Kondrasuk who certainly has done the research on the Wetzels!



Gilman's SS Peter & Paul Parish is celebrating its centennial October 17th; I've been asked to provide stories about its oldest member. This is what I've gathered so far; your own memory-jogging anecdotes will be quickly embraced.

Thanks.

Ray

(1)

Lucille was the firstborn on April 24, 1911, to Lew and Belle (Vincent)
Wetzel on their homestead three miles southeast of Beulah, North Dakota.
Often, the five dollars Lew might earn playing his violin at Saturday
night dances would be the only reliable income to feed his family. With
but an eighth-grade education himself, he did pass the state teacher
exam and taught the children of newly immigrated Russian farmers in a
one-room school.

After seven crop failures in thirteen wildly unpredictable growing
seasons, Lew surrendered to the uncertainties of drought, late-spring
killer frosts, prairie fires, locusts, wheat blight, and hailstorms. He
moved the family to Wisconsin in 1923, spending a year in Chelsea near
Medford.

(2)

Lew invested his musical talents well, teaching Lucille piano and her
sister Alice violin. Their brother Francis learned the alto sax, sister
Gladys the trumpet, younger brother Raymond the tenor sax, and youngest
child Gertrude also the alto sax. Gert was also the vocalist, doing a
crowd-favorite impersonation of the 1940's pop singer, Wee Bonnie Baker, with her
spot-on mimicking of "Oh, Johnny!" and "Ma, he's makin' eyes at me!"

The family dance band made a cross-country tour to the west coast after
Lew wrote innumerable winter letters to municipalities arranging a
schedule of summer play dates en route.

(3)

Lucille and her sisters Alice and Ruth followed their father's early
lead and became grade-school teachers themselves; each sister later had children
who also taught.

Lucille wed a handsome Polish-born mechanic named John Kondraszuk even
though she knew she would have competition for his attention because of his ongoing
affections for embraceable members of the Winchester and Pflueger families.
That distraction became dramatic one night in November, 1943, when Lucille's
contractions began while John was away and isolated at deer camp. (Venison, yes; Verizon, not yet). A friend answered her urgent appeal and drove her to the hospital. Several years
later, that friend nervously paced the waiting room other times for the births
of his own Butch, Kenny, and Mike & Margie. Lucille's next infants, Jennifer (four years later) and Bob (five years) were born in February and September, so their father was present because they were "out of season" deliveries. But Lucille and John's firstborn, Ray, owes a safe and timely arrival to that "other John".

(4)

John Kondrasuk (the family dropped the "z" so no one would suspect they were Polish) made "deliveries", too. He did the "emptying".... the first-graders poured from his school bus along with their older siblings who guided them down the hall for a "filling" of minds in front Lucille's alphabet-topped chalkboards with those charts of smooth, correct cursive so quickly mastered by
fine feminine fingers, but a were challenge to little hands ever ready to swap a pencil for a Swiss army knife.

(5)

Fine feminine fingers caressed the SSPP organ, too... Lucille's keyboard up in the choir loft at the back of the church faced away from the altar, so she gave pitched cues for father's next "Agnus Dei" by glancing into a rear-view mirror on the music rail. For fifty years, Lucille directed and accompanied the St. Agnes Choir's sincere renditions traditional hymns, Latin high Masses, and even the "Lulajze Jezuniu" lullaby to the Nativity.


My mother was the Alice referred to in the story. Music goes back a long way in my family.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 A MEMORABLE BLUGOLD HOMECOMING

What a great Homecoming! Kim and I got an early start and went down to First Avenue to watch the Homecoming Parade, the highlight of which was the Blugold Marching Band. If you haven't been to a home game this year you really should avail yourself of the opportunity, as not only are the Blugolds playing some excellent and exciting football, but the marching band is giving the UW Madison band a run for the money.
We hooked up with Dr. Wil and Dr. Judy and Dr. Judy's brother, Jimmy. for tailgating at Carson park. I bought some Festival Foods Italian sausage and buns and Wil brought the condiments.

Festival makes great home made sausages in a variety to please every palate.
Fortified with sausages and beer, we made out way to our reserved seats. The game was a real barn burner - went into overtime and the Blugolds pulled it out with a screen pass to Joel Sweeney, who expertly followed his blockers in for the score.
After the game, Kim and I met Judy Willink at Grizzly's for dinner and we bumped into Blugold's receiver David Goodman and his parents as they were leaving.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Voting Straight Democrat - the lesser of evils.

Well, here it is tuesday and I am still emotionally and physically hung over - emotionally because our beloved Green Bay Packers "thugged it out" in Chicago - and physically from stacking five cords of firewood over the weekend. You simply cannot commit 18 penalties in a game and even have a chance to win. And even at that they did have a chance to win. Remember that short easy pass that would have been a touchdown? The rookie let it go right through his hands.

Mr. McCarthy better instill some discipline in his ranks.

C'mon guys. Play the game with some expertise. Everybody holds - but some know how to do it so it goes unnoticed.

And the refs sucked as usual.

As did the Bear fans who yelled at Nick Collins, calling him a nigger and spitting on him. In my estimation, Collins reacted fairly enough by returning fire with his mouth piece.

It has gotten so that I have given up going to games in person because of trash like that.

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Feeling much better today. Because I am such a dumb ass I always forget that if I over exert myself, within a day, the fibromyalgia will kick my ass around the block. Which it did.

This afternoon its to the doctor for a blood draw and regularly scheduled meetings.

I am now about six weeks out of the gall bladder operation and so far so good.

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I am so sick of politics. Mark Belling, candidate challenging Senator Feinfold's seat said: The Feingold garage ad "is a fake: He’s not standing in front of his house."

So what's your point?

Of course he is green screened to save time so that he can get actual work done! But you will notice from earlier shots, that is his same house.

What a freakin' idiot!


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Sunday, September 26, 2010

CURSES! DETROIT LIONS LOSE TO QUEENS

My good pal and benefactor Tom Johnson drove all the way up from Madison via Watertown to help me organize my stove wood for the winter. I had started stacking without him and found out what a difference a year makes in physical prowess. It took me most of an hour to get the first row about three deep. Luckily Tom arrived and we swung into high gear and by saturday night we were two thirds of the way through the entire stacking.
Tom had expressly asked for a "Blinky" pizza ( italian sausage and jalepeno-stuffed green olive), a freshly baked cherry pie and giant popovers for sunday morning, which I gladly supplied.
It is a great sense of comfort to have all that wood heat stacked just outside my door, lying in wait for the cold and snow of Wisconsin winter.

My sincere thanks to Tom for being such a great help.

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Was really hoping that the Detroit Lions would make the Vikings 0-3 today, but alas, it was not meant to be. I was amazed how many times both teams "shot themselves in the foot" with turn overs today. How many interceptions did grandpa Favre throw today? I know at least two.

We turned it off shortly after the beginning of the second half and sought out a shadow box for Tom's Bart starr autographed jersey. Found a beauty at Michael's with 40 per cent off! Made the afternoon worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

GLAD THE NFL IS BACK

The maple tree the view of which fills my entire window is just beginning to turn. I think summer's over.

Still trying to divorce myself from politics as this is a crazy country we live in and I can't deal with it. Gonna bury myself in the gladiators of the NFL and join the blind masses.

In that aspect, life is pretty sweet for a Packer fan. When both the Vikings and the Cowboys are 0-2, it makes life bearable. So bring on the unbearable Bears. I have been watching the NFL Channel and ESPN a lot more lately and have not tired of the highlights of watching my man Clay Matthews wreak havoc in opponents' backfields.

If his inspiration was because his son and his dad were in the stands, I hope grandpa and his grandson will be there every game!
Still can't believe how big that dude's arms are! And with the long, long, hair he is a virtual Samson!

Ah, yes. What would I do without my football!

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A store that sells new husbands has opened in New York City , where a
woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the
entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the value
of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The
shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to
go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the
building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first
floor the sign on the door reads:

*Floor 1* - These men Have Jobs.

She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:

*Floor 2* - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

'That's nice,' she thinks, 'but I want more.'

So she continues upward. The third floor sign reads:

*Floor 3* - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, and are Extremely Good
Looking.

'Wow,' she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:

*Floor 4* - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking
and Help With Housework.

'Oh, mercy me!' she exclaims, 'I can hardly stand it!'

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:

*Floor 5* - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous,
Help with Housework, and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the
sign
reads:

*Floor 6* - You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men
on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are
impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.

*PLEASE NOTE:*
To avoid gender bias charges, the store's owner opened a New Wives
> > > store just across the street.
> > >
> > > The first floor has wives that love sex.

The second floor has wives that love sex and have money and like beer.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors have never been visited

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WAUSAU TEACHERS LIVE UP TO "RUDE LISTENER" STEREOTYPE

I haven't posted for quite some time for a couple of reasons, primarily - I have been spending a lot of time with my friend Doug who has gone through a lot of medical hell the last five weeks. He is home now, though, and friends are taking turns staying overnight with him this first week or two. I stayed over this past tuesday, the day he came home from the hospital.

I was unable to help out on wednesday as I had a gig in Wausau for the Wausau Teachers Union gathering at a local micro-brewery.

In my business, my mantra has always been: "Every job is an adventure". Unfortunately, I have had way too much time off, had written some new stuff, and was really pumped to drive over and do a hell of a job for them.

If you ask a teacher what kind of audience teachers are, they admit openly that they are rude. And they proved it again yesterday. I would say that after I was introduced, it was quiet for about five minutes and then audible conversations began at tables throughout the "audience".

This tends to take the fun out of performing comedy. I would say about half my audience were talking shop with one another while the other half strained to hear the show.

Consequently, laughs were subdued throughout the show, and audience participation (when asked) was nil.

And at the risk of being accused of being a sexist, the women teachers were the worst offenders.

So I did my 45, they all gave me "fleeting duck" applause - even the ones who applauded while still talking to a friend, and I made a hasty retreat.

I closed by saying: "Wanna thank those of you that listened and to all of those who talked throughout the show, I would like to say, go to hell."

The listeners applauded and the talkers didn't even know I had dispatched them.

By the time I got home I had formulated what I should have said in closing:

"I would like to thank the few who listened to my show and to the rest of you I issue a curse:
"MAY ALL OF YOUR STUDENTS TREAT YOU WITH THE SAME RESPECT THAT WAS GIVEN ME TODAY."

Fortunately, I got a call from Terry Kittson as I was leaving Wausau and he and I went to visit Suzi who is at a rehabilitation center in nearby Weston, and my trip to Wausau was saved!

Please remember Suzi in your prayers. She is in a monumental struggle.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thank You Patrick for the Comment!

I just wanted to say thank you to "Patrick" for leaving a comment on one of my recent babblings. Someone comments in either Japanese or Chinese and I can't understand a blind word!

Cool!

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This and That

Heagle. It's Irish and Dutch. Which means I'll have a beer as long as you are buying.

MY VETERINARIAN IS ALSO A TAXIDERMIST - WHICH MEANS ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, I WILL GET MY CAT BACK

Answers to two questions everyone wants to know and are too polite to ask:

186 pounds naked

and my age? Somewhere between "NEVER TRUST A FART" and 'HELP - I'VE FALLEN AND I CAN'T GET UP!"


You'd think after ten years of physical chaos ( a heart attack, quadruple bypass, a twice operated-on right leg, a twice broken left leg, a TIA, and a gall bladder removal I would weigh 105 pounds, tops.

186 pounds!

I blame the weight gain on CRS. Can't remember stuff. I can't remember if I've exercised or not. I look down at my feet - if I got my tennis shoes on, I figure I did it and I go watch television.

My wife's not happy about the weight gain. She reads to me from Prevention Magazine. I hate that magazine.

"You know, Larry, it says here in Prevention Magazine if you just take a half an hour walk after dinner it'll improve you sex life."

I don't know anybody that lives that close to the house.

She also subscribes to Readers Digest.

A number of years ago Readers Digest had a story on how to save money for a vacation. Get a large pickle jar, put it under the bed. Every time you make love, you put a dollar in the pickle jar.

I thought that a great idea so i got myself one of those industrial-size Sam's Club pickle jars.

I dumped out the pickles

who needs pickles? I got a pickle of my own and it's taking me on vacation.

I left that pickle jar under the bed for nearly three years. Then I figured: "Time to check the pickle jar!"

There's gotta be at least eight dollars in there cuz I'm a hot kinda guy!

Three hundred twenty five dollars and 62 cents!

I said to my wife" "Where did all this money come from?"

She says: "Not everybody is as stingy as you."

And then I realized where the 62 cents came from.

C'mon! It's a joke! I made up the part about the pickle jar!

It was a small valise.

No, I'm still lying. I just like to say "valise".

It was a shoe box.

I have kleptomania - but I take things for it.

Some people try to turn back their life's odometers. Not me! I want people to know why I look this way. I've traveled a long way and most of the roads weren't paved.

And I figured out why my own dear mother felt that her sixties just flew right by -- when you get to be this age evrything takes twice as long to accomplish as it did in your fifties.

Just getting ready for bed takes a good hour. Pills - I got two full drawers! I take something for everything!

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I was thinking as I drove to Wausau yesterday that I am very glad that I was born in 1941 and that my race is almost run. Before the last presidential election I did something that i hadn't done since Barry Goldwater - I went out and canvassed neighborhoods for Barack Obama.

After observing the actions of Mr. Obama, the only item I can give him good grades on is health care which still fell short of what it should have been.

"Don't ask, don't tell" still remains, and we are quickly bleeding to financial death thanks to his idiotic continuous support of the Afghanistan debacle.

But what are my choices when it comes to politics? The Tea Party? Although they are presently the darlings of the media, they look to me to be the same folk I run into at Wal Mart way too often. And that's being kind.

And since two terms of the Bush Man, I will never, ever vote republican again. So what am I left with? The lesser of two evils - the dumocrats.

Well, at least I can feel good about voting for Russ Feingold.

I have been training myself to just sit back and watch the circus.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

PACKERS VERSUS VIKINGS - GONNA BE A DOGFIGHT?

Yesterday my manager, Liz Fischer and I met to cut another comedy CD. Liz is a really avid Green Bay Packer fan and probably one of the most knowledgeable that I know. Her opinion closely ( I think) jibes with THIS blog by a sports writer on the coming season:

Are the Green Bay Packers Now the Favorite in the NFC North?
By Chad Lundberg (Packers Featured Columnist) on August 30, 2010

With all the offseason troubles the Vikings have had (especially Sidney Rice's injury), do you think the Packers are the favorite to win the North?

I haven't taken a side in the Vikings-Packers debate. I've always stuck to my guns that the two teams are equally impressive, and that they will be fighting for the division all along the season.

An interesting debacle has recently shown up. The Vikings No. 1 receiver, Sidney Rice, revealed that he had hip surgery that will keep him out of the first 8 weeks of the regular season.

Sidney Rice exploded last season with over 1,312 yards with a 15.8 yard average and 8 touchdowns. He was Brett Favre's favorite target.

Most believe Brett won't have the kind of season he had last year. Even if he were to somehow keep up his monumental performance, if you take 1,300 away from 4,200, that's only 2,900 yards.

The loss of Chester Taylor isn't bad only for the running game, but the passing game as well. He had 44 receptions for almost 400 yards and a touchdown.

So you're taking essentially 1,700 yards away from a quarterback who is pushing 41 and a bad ankle.

On top of that, Artis Hicks, their right guard from last season, is no longer on the roster and was lost in free agency. All they have is a fifth round pick to fill the void.

With 34 sacks, and with over 27% of all their run attempts last season going for a loss or no gain, the last thing the Vikings needed was losing some experienced depth at the offensive line.

I'm not saying that Favre will only get 2,500 yards next season. I'm sure you're smart enough to figure that out. Sidney Rice only be out for 8 games, after all.

It just goes to show how limited the Vikings are now when it comes to their offense.

Their only hope is that Percy Harvin can fight through the migraines, that Javon Walker can play like he did in 2004, and that their tight ends can show up in the passing game.

Sidney Rice will be back, no question. But losing Favre's favorite target for eight games could easily land them somewhere around 4-4, and it gives Green Bay an excellent chance to take the North.

I think that we can all agree that the Vikings have been deeply hurt by free agency and that this will mark the first time in Brad Childress's career with the Vikings that he has failed to make this team better than the year before.



Here's how I feel:

The Packers are really in bad shape in the defensive secondary. Al Harris is out. Bigby was never that impressive. #31 is working with a lot of young, untested kids. And he's another year older and no doubt a step slower.

Will we beat the Vikings? Not if their rookie guard steps up and fills the spot vacated by the loss of Artis Hicks. The whole Viking season revolves around their quarterback.

They had better block really well because I don't think Brett can take many more games like the playoff game with the Saints last year.

There I said it.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

HELP, I'VE FALLEN AND I CAN'T GET UP!

This coming friday will be the three week anniversary of the removal of my gall bladder (the real term ends in "ectomy").

I am becoming aware of the onset of old person's "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up"syndrome.

Last winter it was the slip on the icy steps routine that laid me up with a broken ankle for months.

Yesterday morning I was leaving my office for the car, lost my balance leaving the last step and wind milled about six feet before crashing to the ground on my right hip and the right side of my stomach, not only knocking the wind oout of myself, but sending a real thriller of pain through all the incisions in my lower abdomen.

I, in addition to being hurt, was dumbfounded to find myself on the ground. I don't slip and fall. Well, I never used to slip and fall. WTF??

So of course, I tried to get up too quickly and lost my balance and went down again. There are two inherent problems: 1. I have four incisions that are still trying to re-fuze, and I am on a blood thinner, the kind of rat poison know as Cumodin, and one of the warnings on the bottle is not to cut yourself or to fall down - falling down can cause one to bleed to death internally.

I finally got myself up, brushed myself off, and took inventory. I found that outside of some new pain to the half healed incisions, that I now found it difficult to breathe deeply without pain. The general feeling was one of having sprained my chest.

But I soldiered on for the rest of the active day, taking Walter down to visit Doug in Osseo, returning home and firing off two large pizzas for the angels of mercy at Luther Hospital who h ad been such great help to Doug. By the time we got back home from retrieving pans and got ready for bed, I was having difficulty moving about at all. But I chalked it off to "end od day" "things will be better in the morning" and got into bed way in advance of Kim.

I had struggled mightily to find a reclining position that didn't hurt. Then Kim came to bed,and woke me up in search of the TV remote control.

Not being able to find it without getting out of bed caused me to realize that NOW I was in real trouble physically. We turned out the lights and I tried to once again find the position. Instead, there was no position that now did not produce whelps of pain and finally fed up with it, Kim threw her robe on and told me we were going to the hospital.

The emergency staff wanted blood for tests, and my arteries were still in hiding from the surgery and hospital stay of weeks ago, so I have punctures in both forearms today.

After being there for over an hour they determined that nothing was broken, that I was not bleeding interiorly, and that my pain was all from the fall which had "disturbed" my healing incisions.

Armed with pain pills we returned home.

There were a lot of things I was going to accomplish today. Ain't gonna happen.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Angels of Mercy


Sometimes I will open my show talking about having spent time in a nursing home to re-hab my right leg after a terrible crushing motorcycle accident that kept me laid up at the nursing home for nearly three weeks." I have seen the future", I say, "and it's not pretty."

Luckily, I developed a nasty infection in the lower part of the injured leg and had to be transferred to Luther Hospital. It felt like I was moving into the Ritz Hotel!

Please do not misunderstand. The staff at the nursing home were all wonderful women who gave of themselves fully for the duration of their shifts. But they were really understaffed and overworked. And still managed to carry themselves with dignity and a smile. The problem is that the patient/nurse ratio is sadly skewed an the employees are working their buns off! - clearly a case of under paid' over worked.

This time around with Doug, I have been to see him every day for three weeks. We knew that Doug was "pining away" after Walter, his daschund, as he had never, ever been away from his best friend for such a length of time.

For the past three weeks I have been first to Sacred Heart Hospital to visit a dear friend who was then transferred to Luther Hospital for intensive heart surgery, The doctor did three bypasses and installed a brand new valve. Within 12 hours my friend had a heart-stopping attack and the doctors, in addition to performing CPR, then had to intstall both a pace maker and a defibrillator.

The other night Kim and I were visiting with Doug and discussing if there was any way we could smuggle Walter in for s short visit before bed time.

Then our "Angel of Mercy" sauntered into the room to check on Doug and overheard our doggie conversation. This sweet and understanding lady said that if we were to bring Walter up the following night in his traveling case there was no reason that Doug could not spend some time with Walter. She assured us that she would inform all nurses on duty to "look the other way.

I wish you all could have been with us when we unzipped Walter's carrying case and carefully sat him on his dad's lap. Walter was so glad to see Doug that he licked his face for a good five minutes, all the while his little tail lashing back and forth.

As we were preparing to leave I pulled the truly angelic RN Shannon Ceratto aside and begged her to please let me "pay it forward" by bringing in a couple of my home made large pizzas for an evening snack on tuesday night,

So the date has been set.

Last night Kim and I took Walter in for his second visit with his "daddy". Talk aboutd therapy!!!

Thank you Luther Hospital and especially thank you to Registered Nurse Shannon Ceratto for making it all happen. What a very special evening!


This May Angelo poem i dedicated to the caring staff of Luther:

Touched By An Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.


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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

THE MINDSET OF THE CLASS OF 2014

Beloit, Wis. – Born when Ross Perot was warning about a giant sucking sound and Bill Clinton was apologizing for pain in his marriage, members of this fall’s entering college class of 2014 have emerged as a post-email generation for whom the digital world is routine and technology is just too slow.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. The Mindset List website at www.beloit.edu/mindset, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.

The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since "digital" has always been in the cultural DNA, they've never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat.

Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college. The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them. A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their professors, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.

The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014

Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992.
For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”

4. Al Gore has always been animated.

5. Los Angelinos have always been trying to get along.

6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.

7. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.

8. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.

9. Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.

10. A quarter of the class has at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a big priority…unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet.

11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.

12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.

14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

15. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.

16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

17. Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.

18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

21. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.

22. Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.

23. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.

24. “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.

25. Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.

26. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.

27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.

28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

29. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.

30. “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.

31. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.

32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

33. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.

34. “Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always been an alternative to hospitals.

35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.

36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.

37. Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an “Annus Horribilis.”

38. Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

39. Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.

40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.

41. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.

42. Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.

43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.

46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

47. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.

48. Someone has always gotten married in space.

49. While they were babbling in strollers, there was already a female Poet Laureate of the United States.

50. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.

51. Food has always been irradiated.

52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.

53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn’t he?

54. The historic bridge at Mostar in Bosnia has always been a copy.

55. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.

56. They may have assumed that parents’ complaints about Black Monday had to do with punk rockers from L.A., not Wall Street.

57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.

58. Beethoven has always been a dog.

59. By the time their folks might have noticed Coca Cola’s new Tab Clear, it was gone.

60. Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.

61. Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.

62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.

63. Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies.

64. The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely.

65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

66. Galileo is forgiven and welcome back into the Roman Catholic Church.

67. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.

68. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.

69. The Post Office has always been going broke.

70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.

71. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.

72. One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid” and always has been.

73. Silicone-gel breast implants have always been regulated.

74. They’ve always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi Channel.

75. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.