Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Recap

My wife and I were lucky enough to host my mom and aunt during this past Thanksgiving.  Here are a couple of shots to show you how we spent our time:

We started with a really interesting tour of Lambeau Field.  Here are the ladies, standing on the Frozen Tundra.

In preparation for the feast, the ladies headed out for a Thanksgiving morning walk.  I encountered this crew on my way back home, and snapped this photo.  As you can see, they were prepared for the weather.

The kitchen was a center of activity - both physical and verbal.

The star of the show.  Weighing in at 19 lbs, we had our work cut out for us.  We're still working on him, but there's not as much left as you'd think.  It helped that he was downright delicious.

Other activities included my cousin and her friends stopping by for breakfast, football, shopping, putting up Christmas lights (bravo, ladies), knocking out my Christmas cards, attending the local light show (more on that in a subsequent post), and dinner at the Titletown Brewing Company.  It was just about a perfect Thanksgiving.  Wish you could have been there.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

TSA Outrage

I hope that your trip home is better than this soldier's.  Travel safe.

Friday, November 26, 2010

End of the Minnesota 2010 Waterfowl Season - A Recap

This sunrise signaled the last day of waterfowling in central Minnesota last weekend.  With temps never rising above freezing on Saturday, most birds had moved out of the area, and those that did stick around were gone by Sunday.  It was all over.

But, goodness, what a season it was.  Despite not hunting nearly as much as I typically do, due to the new job and the move, my personal bag was among the highest I've had since I started tracking it.  And that's with the opening weekend being pretty much a bust (except for Monday). 

There were many highlights, but the biggest one being our resident flock of Redheads that stayed with us for over three weeks.  These big (and delicious) birds simply made our lake their home, welcomed in their travelling brethren, and gave our decoys enough attention to keep things active. 

In nearly every respect, it was a great season.  Here are some pictures of the last day:

Fuzzy and Ben on Gucci Point.  You can see where the ice had covered up the area that we had broken open earlier in the day.

It was so cold that even the dogs were cuddling up to stay warm.  Here's a crate full of Yellow Dog, staying warm and waiting for the next adventure to start.

Seems like the season just got started, and I'll miss the place, but what a season we had.  Simply outstanding.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

This past year has been one of unexpected twists and turns.  Despite the changes, the blessings continue, and at a level greater than we deserve.  We're so fortunate, and that will be the theme of the day for me. 

My mom and aunt are here with us this holiday, as well as a 19 lb. turkey (mom claims it was the smallest bird they had), so we have lots of work to do.  But in all that, for me, will be a constant undercurrent of reorganization, astonishment, and appreciation. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ron Gardenhire Does Not Deserve AL Manager of the Year

Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stands in the dugout as his team plays the Chicago White Sox during the second inning at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago on August 10, 2010.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom
I'm sorry, Ron Washington. 

I know, Gandenhire had a fabulous season. Strike that. A fabulous regular sesaon. His team posted a .580 win percentage with former MVP Morneau out for over half of the year, and going into the year with talent like Nick Punto as a starter. Great job, indeed.

But once again, when this team got to a place where the bright lights shine, they appear utterly clueless. They were swept by the Yankees in three, and never offered any kind of resistance. At all.  If they could have tapped out at the end of Game 2, they likely would have.

Washington, on the other hand, weathered a brutal Texas summer and got his team not only to the playoffs, but to the World Series. Just due to weather alone, it's damn near impossible to win in Texas, but Washington won, and won when it counted.

So, sorry Ron Washington. You got chumped, while the captain of the USS We're Just Happy to Be Here conducts interviews and prepares for another great regular season.

To be quickly followed by an weak and immediate exit from the playoffs.  Again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Question for Dad

My brother sent me a link to a recent Joe Posnanski blog post that incredibly intertwines a story about Bruce Springsteen's prolific years between Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town with a story about Joe and his father.  It is masterfully written, and I encourage you to read it here. 

Joe's an fantastic writer, and the story he weaves is really touching. 

After reading it, I reflected on it a bit, then I waded into the comments at the end of the blog.  Big mistake.  One post in particular mentioned a reader who had previously has some discussions with his friends about the questions they would ask their deceased fathers if they had the opportunity.  That hit me hard, because I immediately know the one question that I'd ask Dad if here was standing here right now.  And it'd be a trick question, too. 

"Dad, do you love me?" 

I can see his face immediately after I ask.  His brow would furrow and he'd appear a little hurt.  "Of course I love you," he'd say.  "Your Mom and I love you very much.  What, are you wacko?"  Then he'd go in for the huge bear hug, and my trick will have worked perfectly. 

Nobody could bear hug like my Dad.  He hugged with his heart.  He hugged with gusto.  He'd surprise you with his strength and musculature of his shoulders and arms.  It felt good, even when his unshaven cheek was rubbing against yours.  And when you were there, there was no better or safer place in the world.   So if I could parlay my question into a hug from my Dad, I'd be quite content to ask no other questions of him. 

Note that in my quote above, Dad replied "your Mom and I."  He often did this in things of significance.  Some might speculate him doing it because it kept him from being totally exposed on emotional issues, but in my years of observation, that was not the case at all.  Mom and Dad were a team, knew where each other stood, and were unified in their approach to us kids.  When he'd say stuff to me that began with "your Mom and I think...," I could believe it, as I knew they had verbalized it to each other, they were on the same page, and one of them could freely and confidently speak on behalf of the both of them.  Mom often used the same language, and it meant the exact same thing coming from her. 

Note to my brother - Please don't send me any other blog posts like that where there is a possibility I might read them at work.  Not cool.  But please do send them along, because with this one I got to go back and experience a wonderful dynamic between our parents, and if I close my eyes, concentrate hard and open my heart, I can clearly remember what it was like to get a hug from Dad.   

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fr. Don Talafous and the Selling of Our House

I was all set to use the following as my next blog post:

There’s a big lie you’re not being told.  The recession may not have impacted you, or so you think.  You’re not lost your job, and have remained fully employed.  You income could even have gone up.  The belt tightening that we’ve all had to do turned out not so bad.  Life’s good.  At least until you try and sell your house.  The dirty little economic horror story that nobody is discussing is the absolute shambles in which the real estate market has been left.  Oh, you can look at what sold around you, and tell yourself tales like “that is a good comp to me because of X so I’m OK” or “that is a bad comp to me because it obviously had to be a foreclosure,” but the fact of the matter is you have no idea what you’re sitting on in terms on home value until you put it on the market.  Your perusal of real estate transactions can’t tell you.  Your county assessor can’t tell you.  Your real estate agent can’t tell you.  Only the market can tell you, and unless you’re entry level, new construction, a foreclosure, or $1,000,000+, what the market will tell you is that you are screwed.  Royally.  What you think your house is worth isn’t even close to what it’s worth, and if you were counting on that equity as a retirement buffer, security blanket, or a means to fund your kids’ college, you better find another money pile, bucko, because the one you’re living in has burned away to ashes. Caveat venditor.

I subscribe to a daily newsletter from Fr. Don Talafous, a priest that was a part of my freshman and sophemore years at St. John's.  I strongly encouage you to subscribe - he has fabulous insight. 

The very next day after writing my house screed above, I get this message from Fr. Don:

What we can and must do is trust in the value of our commitment and not let such disappointments lessen our generosity or good spirit. We have been blessed with closeness to God and Christ, with life in the body of Christ and with the assurance and strength this brings. Rather than wailing over what isn't and dreaming of some other time, we need to give the present our best, our gifts, our hope. Whining, nagging, complaining self-pity, grumpiness, bitterness, silence, are not, as Paul would say, the fruits of the spirit but of the flesh, of a short-sighted attitude. Rather our true following of Christ shows itself in joy, kindness, forgiveness, respect for others' conscience, trust for the future, perseverance in prayer and worship.

Hence, I retract my whining above, and continue to put my faith in the fact that things will happen when and how they're supposed to happen.

Thanks, Fr. Don.  Again.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review of Spamalot, Weidner Center, Green Bay

We attended a very enjoyable showing of Phoenix Entertainment’s Monty Python’s Spamalot at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay’s Weidner Center last night.  It wasn’t your typical Broadway show, but I didn’t expect it to be, either. 

Here are notes from the performance: 
  • I was surprised at the script’s literal interpretation of the movie with many parts.  Dialog was brought in verbatim, which had me not only finishing lines in my head, but also had me listening to the woman behind me say them out loud.  This was disappointing as the fresh content was really good.  
  • Highlights were Lancelot’s coming out, You Won’t Succeed on Broadway (Unless You Have a Jew in the Show), and The Song that Goes Like This. 
  • Best performance of the night (and there were a few) goes to Jacob L. Smith and his handling of his solos. 
  • Caroline Bowman as The Lady of the Lake had a beautiful voice, and was worth the price of admission as well. 
  • The faux playbill was pure Python (did Eric Idle write it?) and had me laughing out loud multiple times prior to the curtain. 
  • I was impressed by Weidner Center.  While the stage was on the small side, the venue had great sight lines and an intimate feel.  Unfortunately, the upcoming schedule of shows is limited, which is a real shame.  A hall like that should be used a lot more frequently. 
As a Python fan, I really enjoyed the show.  My wife, not a fan of Python at all, even had an OK time.  It was a well produced, well performed Sunday night out.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Now That's More Like It

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 13: Players from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate with fans after a win over the Utah Utes at Notre Dame Stadium on November 13, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Utah 28-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

It has been years, but finally there is reason for celebration in South Bend.  Notre Dame absolutely dominated #14 Utah in a game that was nearly flawless by the Irish.  It seems like everything came together - no stupid penalties, few mental mistakes, textbook blocking and tackling, and performance in all aspects.  If this is a vision of what Notre Dame looks like in the future under Kelly's tutelage, there is cause for optimism. 

But before we get too far down that road, the team will have to prove that they've turned the corner by beating an option-heavy Army team under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium.  The Irish have struggled mightily with option-based offenses this year - the games against Navy and Michigan both stand out - and if this team has truly found itself on a new path, they must find a way to stop these offenses. 

But that's next week.  For now, after so much trauma, it is nice to enjoy an upset win on an emotional senior day.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Brett Favre's Steakhouse Restaurant Review

Last night we attended Brett Favre's Steakhouse here in Green Bay.  It kind of aspires to be a top steakhouse (waiters in the white coats, meat choices presented on carts, etc.) but is kind of a cheaper version.  For example, the dining room lamps don't fit the room, the steaks are all USDA Choice, the wine list (even the reserve list) lacks vintage information, etc. 

That being said, we had an enjoyable dinner.  I started with a mediocre French onion soup (the onions were undercooked), moved to a tasty bone-in ribeye, accompanied by some very good mushrooms and creamed spinach.  My wife enjoyed a good New York strip. 

I'm ordinarily not a dessert person, but our waiter went on about their pasty chef and how he cranks fresh stuff out every day, and my better half was sold on a sweet even before the waiter's pitch, so we ended up sharing a piece of the carrot cake.  If you go to this restaurant, absolutely save room for dessert.  It was, by far, the best part of the meal.  The cake was incredible - moist, with the perfect mix of golden raisins, coconut, and carrots, and an outstanding cream cheese frosting.  It was probably the best piece of carrot cake I've eaten.  Outstanding. 

Just because it's been talked about so much lately, we close with a gratuitous  photo of Brett Favre's meat.  

I'm not sure what the big deal is...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Green Bay Stereotype Confirmed

Unfortunately, Green Bay has a couple of stereotypes.  It's industrial.  Lacks size and sophistication.  Not very pretty.  According to former kicker Ryan Longwell, "a place where fine dining is a choice between Appleby's and Hooter's."  And, as one popular T-shirt put it, a "drinking town with an NFL football problem." 

While I've been here only a couple of months, I know the town to be much more diverse than that.  I'll get into all of that in future posts.  But back to that stereotype thing.  It doesn't help matters when the back of my Packer game ticket offers free schweel if the Pack scores more than 30 in the game.  I can honestly say I've never seen a free beer offer before - wow. 

I paid attention to this during our game, and there was an audibly louder cheer from the fans once that critical 30 point threshold got breached.  It added a component of drama to an otherwise dull blow-out.

I guess it says something about my acclimation to our new home when I tell you that I'll be at Festival tomorrow morning, ticket in hand, to pick up my free 6-pack. 

Hey, free schweel is free schweel.  Might even pick up a pack of bratwurst, too.  

Go, Pack go?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First Trip to Lambeau Field

We were lucky enough to attend last week's game of the Green Bay Packers hosting (and subsequently destroying) the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night.  It was my first time at Lambeau, and regardless of your NFL allegiances, this is hallowed ground and should be seen by any NFL fan.  There is so much history, it is incredible. 

I took a number of pictures of things along our trip.  Here's the tour:

Hey, does all that haze and smoke mean Kiss is playing in the parking lot?  Nope.  That, my friends, is the smoke of hundreds of grills cooking thousands of Green Bay's finest sausages.  If this picture had smell-o-vision, you'd be drooling on your keyboard now.

You gotta love a place that encourages schweeling so much that they put restrooms on the outside of the stadium.

History is everywhere.  Here we are with Curly Lambeau himself.

The stadium itself was smaller than I expected.  It holds 70,000, which seemed like a lot for the venue.  The seating is still primarily bench seating, the cheerleaders still high school kids, and the atmosphere still very family friendly.  What a great place to see a game.

For those of you Yellow Dog Patrol readers that are family and friends - there are always tickets available for the games, and we'd love to host you.  Please plan on coming to visit us to see this history for yourself.  It is pretty incredible.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hiter Weighs In on Moss Debacle

I've written about the Hitler parodies before, but this one is way better than average.

This is way "R" rated, but about as funny as it gets, especially for someone like me - a Vikings fan living in Green Bay.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Minnesota Duck Hunting Report

Last weekend was spent with my cousins from Louisiana, and a fabulous time was had by all. We were fortunate to hunt immediately after the huge windstorm as the birds were in motion and fairly abundant. Here are some photos.

A beautiful sunrise on Gucci Point

Two boats and a lot of BS

Morning's brace of Bulls

Last day, on Goose Island

For me, shooting birds is a bonus.  I'm quite content with the conversation, jokes, drinking, contemplation, and shared experiences with family and friends that I love. 

What a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Minnesota Continues Run as National Laughingstock

U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton as he arrives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to attend a campaign rally October 23, 2010. Obama is on a four-day, five-state swing to support Democrats in the upcoming election. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
Minnesota is a political laughingstock.  The state has routinely elected people that have no business in politics, and it all boils down to a massive inferiority complex.  Minnesotans so want to be relevant to the rest of the nation, and will go to the extreme of electing complete imbeciles in order to do so. 

Consider this list:

  • Pro wrestler as Governor
  • TV anchor as Senator
  • TV comedian (if you can call him that) as Senator
  • Local department store heir as Senator, and now Governor
Mark Dayton, a man that completely embarrassed the state via his antics in the US Senate, and a man that literally bat-excrement crazy, is now going to be Governor of this state. 

At least we got Randy Moss back.  Oh, wait...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Really? 220 Kids for Halloween? Really?

Here's a photo from our neighborhood from last night's Halloween.  My wife keeps track of kids every year, and we shattered the candy record by serving over 220 pieces to the children of Green Bay and surrounding locales. 

Indeed, parents drove their kids to our neighborhood - in golf carts, cars, and an endless array of minivans - to go door to door in our area.  And it was just our area as well.  I had to make an emergency trip to the grocery store, and other neighborhoods had about two kids walking around.  We had episodes this evening with over a dozen kids waiting at our door for candy.  And in looking in the kids' bags, I found the reason why we were so popular.  It seems a couple of our neighbors were giving out full size candy bars. 

I've never seen anything like it. 

I take it back.  One Halloween when I was little, a buddy's mom drove us over to Minneapolis porn kingpin Ferris Alexander's house, where we were summarily ushered in, and around a huge round table helped ourselves to massive quantities of full-size candy bars. 

Does this mean I live in an area with a bunch of porn purveyors?  Perhaps not.  But they obviously don't have enough to do with their money. 

The whole scene was one of greedy and ostentatious behavior.