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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


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


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?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


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.


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


Saturday, December 11, 2010


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.


Thursday, December 9, 2010


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!