Sunday, July 31, 2011

Taking Care of the Baby Bird

I found a baby robin on the ground outside of our cabin this morning.  It had obviously fallen from a nearby tree, although I couldn’t see the nest.  While the baby was older (it had splotches of orange on his breast), he was clearly not feathered out, nowhere near flying age, and should not have been out of the nest. 

As I approached him and bent down, he opened his mouth in that huge baby bird fashion, looking for a meal.  As I reached down to pick him up in order to judge his state, he instantly panicked and moved to run away as best as his new legs could carry him -my effort to help only adding to his predicament by causing a lot of anxiety.  I looked around for a mother bird and found none, but felt my only recourse was to move along anyway.  There was nothing I could do for the bird – he needed pre-digested food, and would only be terrorized in my presence.  His only hope would be to leave him alone and hopefully he would be supported by his mother.  

I felt lousy doing this.  Just lousy, and it sat poorly with me.  Note that I am a hunter and have spent hours in the woods.  I know how Mother Nature works, and know she can be a cold-hearted bitch.  Life is tough, and the weak and the mistake-prone must be weeded out for the sake of those that are left and those that need to go on.  That mother bird likely built a poor nest, and should this offspring survive, he may very well do the same.  Hell, exactly because of things like that, the life expectancy of a hatched robin had to be less than six months, on average.  To my core, I knew this.  But I still felt like crap. 

I stopped back later in the day and found the chick had moved along the base of the cabin, staying out of the direct sunlight.  I also found a lot of fresh bird droppings next to him, so that meant somebody must be attending to him.  While that made me feel better, I also knew that with sundown would come a whole new set of challenges, and that the little guy would likely not make the morning.  There are too many owls, raccoons, fox, skunks, and other predators that would be set to pounce upon this easy mark.  In fact after coming in from fishing tonight I put on my headlight to see if he had made it even a couple of hours.  I found him, and he did, but he’s in for a long, long night. 

In all of this, I’ve kept asking myself why I feel so bad about this.  I’ve taken the lives of animals with my own hands likely a thousand times, and while I’ve never been flippant with the act, it’s not bothered me, either.  Sure, there are times when I’ve made a poor shot and the kill is not as clean as I’d want (the goal if every hunter is one shot, one clean and painless kill), but you do what you can to mitigate those circumstances.  But here was this baby bird, absolutely breaking my heart. 

And that’s when I understood my reaction. 

It was because this bird was screwed; he had absolutely no shot.  Through no fault of his own he found himself on the ground with few prospects for a tomorrow.  Fate dealt him a 16, he needed to take a hit and Mother Nature held a deck full of face cards.  It made me think about our own species.  What about all of those people that are born into a situation beyond their control; a situation where they have absolutely no chance?  As I sit here in my air conditioned cabin on the lake, surrounded by family that love me, with a full belly and not a care in the world other than catching a fish, I wonder about those that have no chance.  While I’m not equipped to save that baby bird, maybe I can do more than I previously have to help those that find themselves on the ground, staring into a long night fraught with danger and long, long odds.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

YouTube as a Musical Instrument

Today's video comes from Kutiman, a gentleman that uses YouTube videos as a means of crafting art.  In the video below, he mashes together 100 differnt bands' posts of the Led Zeppelin song Black Dog to come up with his own version.

Great editing generates a great result.  What a fun use of technology.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Columbia's $1,200 Hunting Jacket - 10 Things It SHOULD Do

This new product is hitting the fall catalogs - it is a battery-heated hunting jacket from Columbia.  Now, at the touch of a button you can be toasty warm while the weather outside is dealing its worst.  Beyond that, the coat can even do things like charge your iPhone.  Not sure if you can plug a coffee maker into it, but for $1,200 you should be able to do just that.

In fact, for $1,200 here is a list of other things that it should be able to do for you while you're out duck hunting:
  1. Provide aerial radar coverage (with subtle alarm for napping hunters) to highlight inbound birds
  2. Respond to any emails, especially those from work
  3. Broadcast ESPN's Sportscenter
  4. Leverage an "Egg Poach Pocket" for blind breakfasts
  5. Recharge spinning wing decoy batteries 
  6. Play the entire Led Zeppelin library
  7. Jump start the dead battery of your truck
  8. Glow in an unearthly green glow to aid in setting up decoys in the pitch black
  9. Mix up a perfect batch of post-hunt margaritas
  10. Make that cool noise like Bubb Rubb's car "WOO WOO"

Then, and only then, would I be willing to plunk down $1,200 for a hunting coat.

Hat tip to Fuzzy for the lead

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jeff Foiles Goes to Jail; Wildfowl Magazine Oblivious

Jeff Foiles is a waterfowl hunting guide, waterfowl hunting video creator, and call maker.  He's also a repugnant face of the state of waterfowling.  Perpetual sneer, face painted in camo (even the dog's face is painted), and pile upon pile of dead quarry.  It's almost like he's trying to make up for something.

I get it, he kills a lot of birds.  While I don't admonish anyone from taking their daily and possession limits, Mr. Foiles did well beyond that and has copped a plea to spend one year in Federal prison despite a multitude of complaints filed against him.  I was going to write all about it, but the subject is covered expertly at the River Mud blog, and I instead direct your attention there. 

In the mean time, while Foiles bangs out license plates for this hunting season, the idiots at Wildfowl Magazine decided to feature this excrement and his new "Crime Scene" goose calls as part of their 2011 gear issue. 

Save the excuses about lead times for magazines and that they didn't know Foiles was going to be convicted - his troubles have been known for months now, but still Wildfowl decided to cater to the lowest common denominator of its readership. 

Shame on you, Foiles, for being the game pig you are.  Shame on you as well for rubbing everyone's nose in it with the "Crime Scene" calls.  How the judge didn't throw the book at you just for that is beyond me. 

Shame on you as well, Wildfowl.  What the hell are you guys thinking?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taxes Paying for Foreign Mosques

As Washington debates spending cuts and tax increasing, taking us right to the precipice of default, I have a good place where they could start.

It takes very little research to understand how the Middle East works - it is how it has worked for thousands of years.  And by actions such as these we are seen not only as fools, but as the "weak horse," as Bin Laden used to call us. 

This expenditure, in light of our economic condition and history, is beyond incredible.  It is abject capitulation.

Hat tip to my cousin - thanks for the story lead

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Abridged Recap of Obama's Debt Ceiling Speech

In the event that you missed the President's speech last night, here's an abridged recap for you:

Fixing blame elsewhere
Focus group vetted catch phrase
Focus group vetted catch phrase
Scary demagoguery  
Emotional class warfare imagery
Focus group vetted catch phrase
Scary demagoguery
Appeal to have public call President's political enemies in order to make them do things his way
Focus group vetted catch phrase
Emotional class warfare imagery
Focus group vetted catch phrase
"God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America."

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Browning Maxus - Woot!

This past weekend I convinced my wife to go with me down to the Cabela's down in Richfield, Wisconsin for a little preseason shopping.  One of the items that I had on my list was a new shotgun, so I boxed up my old Browning Gold 3 1/2" camo for a trade in and headed to the store. 

In the Gun Library they offered me $500 for my old shooter, which seemed like a fair price as the gun was nearly a decade old, and cost me $1,000 when I originally bought it.  While still in very good condition (hence the good offer from the Cabela's), it had some small nicks, a couple of collapses in the rib, and had a tough time cycling in cold weather or the dirt of Louisana.  Plus, in all of the years I owned it, I never liked the 28" barrel.  Despite that being the length of my precious Browning A-5, on the Gold it felt like I was swinging a telephone pole.  That extra two inches really made a difference. 

All of the above generated the desire for a new shooter.  Note that I said desire and not need.  As my wife would ask, how many guns does a guy need?  Not many, I'd guess, but in my armory are guns for very distinct purposes: a dove gun, pheasant gun, secondary duck gun, back up pheasant gun, home defense gun, tertiary goose gun, etc.  Plus I have sentimental guns like my aforementioned  A-5 and my dad's gun.  Anyway, my bottom line was that since I was getting rid of my primary duck and goose gun, I needed to replace it.  And with the Maxus and its 26" barrel and light weight, I could also us it as a new secondary pheasant gun as well.  It was almost like buying TWO new guns!  What was not to like? 

The only thing better than buying a new gun is buying a new car, or buying new technology (like a new PC, laptop or iPhone).  It feels just like Christmas as you envision all of the great things the new asset can do, and how much more effective you'll be by using it.  Kind of like when you were a kid getting a new pair of Nike shoes and you just knew you were faster because of them. 

While the cost of this bad-boy was an owie - $1,350 - between my trade, a gift card, and my Cabela's points that I've been saving for this exact purchase, my total out of pocket was just over $350.   Not too bad for a brand new, state of the art firearm that should last me a decade or two. 

There's lots to love about the new Maxus: I've already mentioned the shorter barrel, and the light weight (6lbs., 14oz.), but perhaps its biggest selling feature is its modular construction.  The Maxus easily breaks down into critical components that are easy to access and keep clean.  This is really revolutionary for Browning which has always had a reputation of making shotguns that were difficult to break down; especially as it pertained to accessing the trigger mechanism (and putting it back together again!). 

While I've not shot it as I've had too much work and chores to do, I hope to do so shortly and will report up a review at that time.  Until then, I'm content to clean it, rub it down, and practice mounting it at imaginary ducks on the wall while the dog looks at me like I'm nuts.  Hopefully we both get a chance to see what it can do here shortly. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Tragic Passing of Amy Winehouse

As has been widely reported, Amy Winehouse died from an overdose yesterday.  It is truly a tragic event.  She was deeply troubled by chemical addition for years, and as a society we kind of stood on the sidelines and watched her die; in some instances laughing along the way. 

Now I know that many reached out to her, and ultimately the addict must eventually be the one that pulls themselves out of their nosedive.  The unfortunate part of addiction is that some have the ability to break their cycles, and others do not and ultimately die.  Nobody in their right mind would choose to live the life of a drunk or a junkie, and that's what makes the disease so hideous - the right mind is removed from the equation. 

Regardless of the circumstances of her passing, the death of Amy Winehouse is just sad.  A couple of notes:

  • When we heard the news yesterday, my wife correctly pointed out that nobody sounded like Amy when she first appeared, which is absolutely correct.  Her sound and style was completely unique, and her talent massive.  So instead of posting crappy YouTube videos of her drunk at her concerts (like so many sadistically enjoy), let's see that talent on display: 

  • I need to make a tip of the hat to Jake Fogelnest of Siris/XM for his treatment of the event.  He handled it with a decorum that was professional, personal, and touching.  With rare exception, he's the only one that really got to the heart of the matter - that somebody died here, and died in a very sad and tragic fashion.  He set a great example for the rest of the media to follow, and it would be a much better world if they did.  Thanks, Jake.    
Rest in peace, Amy. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Five, "One Year Old" Part 5

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section 

While it was a challenge to get Blitz into her vest, it was an even bigger challenge getting her to lay off people food.  My philosophy on feeding the dog was that all she would ever eat would be dog food, and high quality dog food at that.  In my hunting days I've seen too many fat dogs that are spoiled by their owners, under the auspices of loving them, by giving the dog people food.  In just about every case, the dog ages poorly, carries too much weight, and ultimately has a tough time hunting, and eventually with their health.  How unfair is that to the dog?  If you could ask a dog if they wanted that hunk of steak fat or to hunt another hour (or year), the lab would always choose the latter.   

Well, not really.  They'd want the steak first, and then to go hunting.   

But faced with an "either/or," while their stomach dictates much of what they do, their heart cannot be denied.  That is the beauty of a Labrador.   

I expected my dog to be an elite athlete, and as such she needed to be fueled like one.  That meant expensive dog food and nothing else.  It was a price I was willing to pay.  My brand of choice has always been Eukanuba.  It is what Blitz was first fed as a pup when training at Holzinger's Kennels, and I've never switched since.  Beyond the great performance it has provided for my dogs, it's fun to say.  Eukanuba.  It sounds like a line from Star Wars uttered by Jabba the Hut, "Eu ka nu ba, Han Solo.  Ha ha ha!"   

Unfortunately, what I expect out of my dog I don't expect from myself, and I pay the price for it.  That price has been low to this point, but inflation is coming.  I really need to heed my own philosophy.   

While Blitz was always denied people food, that didn't mean that she didn't hunger for it.  In fact, because it had always been verboten, it drove her even more crazy to find a way to get to it.  And she was consistently creative in her approach.  One such strategy was the "bull rush."  This occurred every time when we arrived at the duck camp.  My hands would always be full of gear and groceries, and the dog would be waiting at the door at my feet to get inside the house and meet the other dogs and hunters at camp.  Or at least that was the story she'd be selling.  What she actually wanted was the ability to dash to the kitchen, tip over the garbage can, and scarf down what she could before being hauled out of mess and punished.   

Every time went the same way - the door would explode open, accelerated by Blitz pushing hard against it to try and buy a few more seconds in the forbidden refuse.  I'd hear howls of "Blitz!," and "Look at her go!"  from whoever happened to be in camp, followed by the unmistakable sound of an overflowing garbage can being dropped like an unknowing quarterback on a blindside blitz.  I'd be as hot on her heels, as much as I could while carrying too many bags of sundries, which I'd ultimately place on the kitchen table in order to free my hands for extracting my dog from her illicit activity.    

There are a couple of unwritten rules at our hunting camp.  Among them are that I cook, first guy up in the morning makes coffee, everyone pitches in on chores, we always hunt safe, under no circumstances will anyone clean the toilet, and garbage will be taken out only when it is overflowing the canister.  Hence Blitz always had a target rich environment for her gastronomic dalliances.   

While the garbage can was the go-to choice, Blitz quickly learned that countertops and tables afforded great environments for snacks, and soon adopted the posture of getting her front paws up to afford the opportunity to quickly survey the forbidden landscape and pilfer a treat.  This worked great at the hunting shack where snacks abound (another unwritten rule was that there's no need to put anything away if you don't feel like it), and even more exotic things like the sugar bowl for morning coffee or a stick of butter from breakfast's toast making were constantly fair game.   

It also proved to be a valuable technique back at home.  Unfortunately for her, Blitz's toenails gave an unmistakable "click" noise when hitting the hard counter, and that sound warned me that I best arrive in the kitchen immediately to prevent whatever carnage that was about to be wreaked.  I must have busted her too many times due to the telltale "click" as Blitz soon adopted a stealthier mode of accessing the counter area that allowed her access without fear of being found out.  What exactly she did was not clear to me, all I know is judging by all the missing food in the house, whatever she was doing was successful.   

However, there were times in which I got lucky.  One such winter afternoon I was working in the office of our home and Blitz was at my feet working on a bone.  I was deep into my work and didn't notice that she'd snuck off, but upon realizing she was no longer with me, I perked my ears up to hear any wrappers being shredded.  Hearing nothing I made a bee line to the kitchen and as I was just about to enter was met Blitz coming out and carrying a huge leftover pork roast.  The roast was pulled out of the refrigerator by my wife and was and about to be thrown out due to age.   

Blitz did not immediately see me at first, and her body language and facial expressions belied what she had done and what she was about to do.  Simply put, Blitz, at that very moment, was the happiest dog on the face of the earth.  Completely unnoticed, she now held in her salivating jaws over a pound of sweet, aged pork roast, and was on her way to an obscure corner to quickly dispatch of her booty, plastic wrap and all.  It was a picture of sheer, unmitigated joy.   

Her rapture immediately turned to terror as her eyes met mine and she realized that the dream that she could already literally taste was going to go unfulfilled.   She lowered her head, spit out the pork at my feet, and slinked back to the office and her bone without my having to give one command.   

She knew she was busted, and she accepted her fate without a fight.  But it would not be her last attempt to steal food, and she would eventually pay me back for my victory of the Battle of the Leftover Pork Roast.    

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Contessa Brewer's Epic Fail

Contessa Brewer was interviewing Rep. Mo Brooks, and adopted an air of sanctimony to make the Representative look and/or feel inadequate.

Only one little problem...

A simple Wikipedia check on Rep. Brooks shows his graduation from Duke with a double major in Polical Science and Economics, and Econ being highest honors.

Unfortunately, they must not have taught Ms. Brewer to do background checks before interviews when she got her degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fascinating Face Study

In the video below, keep your eyes focused on cross in the middle.  You'll soon be presented with a series of grotesque images, almost cartoonish in nature, that you'll be able to see out of your peripheral vision.

Once complete, go back and replay the video, however this time look at the faces with your direct vision.

Why did they change?  Pretty interesting stuff.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Duck Forecast: Outstanding

The US Fish and Wildlife service recently released their results for their duck breeding population survey, and the numbers are fantastic.  Everything points to a incredible year this year for duck hunting, which is about the only good to come out of the massive snows (and subsequent flooding) that the Midwest had to endure last winter and spring.  

Being 6 hours from my duck camp, it is going to be hard to take advantage of this as much as I'd like.  I'll definitely get 3-4 weekends in, but it will fall well short of the 10 I used to routinely log.  I'd really like to find some place close to where I live that my yellow dog and I could hunt, but I basically have no spare time anymore and have no time to invest in the miles and hours that good scouting requires.  

I'll have to try and settle for quality and not quantity this year, and if these numbers are right, I'm hopeful I can be successful doing so.  

Chart courtesy of Delta Waterfowl

Monday, July 18, 2011

Upcoming Concert Schedule (Really!)

We have missed a lot in moving to Green Bay - our friends and family being by far the biggest, but little things apply as well.  Things like favorite restaurants, prairie grass, our old golf club, random lakes everywhere you look, Sid Hartman, our old church and parish, professional hockey, proximity to SJU, "downtown," being able to catch a Twins game when the mood hit, and even the StarTribune.   

One huge miss for me is the ability to see live music.  I used to constantly have two or three concerts upcoming on the calendar, and I loved the anticipation of the impending shows.  It gave me something really fun to look forward to doing, and even though I'd often go by myself as my musical tastes don't align with my wife or my friends, I never cared, and always enjoyed the unique experience that a live show provides.   

Unfortunately, very few acts' tours take them to Green Bay, and it just kills me.  However, I'm happy to report that I now have three events scheduled, and all three should be outstanding.   

1) Lyle Lovette and His Large Band will be playing in Appleton next month, and I was able to snatch up tickets immediately as they were released.  Due to moving quickly and a lot of luck, we have 4th row seats, so it should be incredible.  This will be 5th time my wife and I will see him, and his concerts are always great fun.  The performance is the night before our anniversary, and we hope that Francine Reed is still part of the band.   

2) Hands down my new favorite bands is Bon Iver, and one of my all-time favorite artists is Kathleen Edwards.  They happen to be touring together, and will make a stop in Minneapolis for two shows in early September.  Unfortunately, the concert is on a Tuesday night.  After debating it with myself for a couple of weeks, I broke down and bought a seat through a ticket broker at 4x the face value and will attend.  The good news is that it is a great seat - 7th row.  The bad news is I have no idea how I'm going to arrange my schedule to attend this thing and get to work the next morning.  Here's Bon Iver's title track from their latest release: 

3) I've written of my love of the Trailer Park Boys before, and they happen to be touring.  My wife and I will attend their show in Milwaukee in October.  Not sure what to expect - it will likely either be hilarious or a total bust;  will all depend on how their comedy translates into a live environment.  I'll be meeting up with my brother the next day and driving to South Bend to catch the Irish against Air Force, so it will great weekend regardless of how the TPB concert pans out.

Finally!  It feels great to have some upcoming shows to look forward to attending.  As always, I'll be posting up reviews upon their completion.   

Marco Rubio on Face the Nation

As much as Bob Schieffer tries to blow fastballs by him, Rubio proceeds to deposit pitch after pitch into the outfield bleachers.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trigeminal Neuralgia Update

A number of you have asked for an update, and in looking back in my posts I see that I've not published one in over a year now. 

And that's good news. 

The Trigeminal Neuralgia is under good control. I have enough random toothaches, temporal pain, jaw soreness and head pressure to know that I've not experienced any kind of remission, but all of the above is quite manageable. 

I'm taking a lower dose of Carbamazepine than what has been prescribed to me, and have been doing so for over six months now, and that tactic appears to be working well. While I don't advise going against doctors' orders, I do want to build as much runway with the drug as I possibly can in the event that I ever need it. I'd much rather control this via meds than by neurosurgery. 

Overall, it has been a very good year as far as suffering from this disease, and I've been quite lucky.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Company Continues!

The stream of folks visiting us here in Green Bay continues, and we love it.  For the third time in four weeks, our guest rooms are filled with friends.  

This week it's JT and Bill, in town helping out some friends by pre-fishing for the FLW event on the Bay next weekend.  While the boys have been busy, logging long hours on the water, we all convene at dinner over cocktails, old stories, and fine food.  

Walleye is on the menu tonight.  That is, assuming the boys have good luck bring us home some fish.  

It has really been great to have company around.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Keith Ellison Cares About Women

Just not Muslim women.  Hell no. 

Of all of the things Keith Ellison could complain about, mistreatment of women is about as hypocritical as he could be. 

Preach to me about the mistreatment of your Muslim sisters, Keith.  Then I'll listen to you all day about Michelle Bachmann.

Minnesota Government Shut Down - The Real Cost

With the whole Madison fiasco of a couple of months ago, I thought Wisconsin politics was about as messed up as possible.  Enter Governor Dayton of Minnesota, and his failure to cut the budget without some offset in a raise in taxes. (Hmm, sound familiar?)

Not only can't people fish there as fishing license sales have been ceased (primarily because the petulant DNR turned off their website), but even if you could fish, you couldn't enjoy a Coor's Light.   

What the hell happened to my home state?  No fishing and no Coor's Light?  I'll stay here in Wisconsin and play golf, thank you very much...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Case for Yes for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In this week's installment of bands that should be in theRock and Roll Hall of Fame, we look at the case for Yes.   

Since its earliest beginnings, Yes has been manufacturing rock that sounds like little else.  Strongly influenced by the structures inherent in classical music, the band compiled albums and tracks that were not configured for commercial success: most of their tracks clocked in at over 4:00, with some coming in over 10:00 - a death sentence for bands in that era looking to find airplay and the fortunes that went along with it.  But find airplay they did, albeit many times with some editing.   

So what are the primary reasons for including Yes into the RRHOF?  There are many: 
  • Longevity.  This band has been producing viable and excellent music since the late 60's, and were extremely relevant for two full decades.    
  • Quality and originality.  Yes music is a soundscape that no other bands touch.  Soaring high-harmony vocals, concept themes, multi-movement songs, and other aspects were generated by Yes when almost all other bands of the period were manufacturing rock songs along an assembly line using the standard "verse-chorus-bridge" recipe.  Here's a wonderful example of their prowess - Roundabout circa 1973.  
  • Great Albums.  1971's The Yes Album and 1983's 90125 are rock and roll classics.  Both contain great tracks from stem to stern and show the band's viability across a dozen years.   

    So what's working against Yes' induction?  Beyond the prog rock bias of which I've already written, one could argue that their lineup changes over the years make it difficult to define exactly what is and is not the band Yes (bassist Chris Squire remains the only band member that is a constant across their 43 year history).  However, Fleetwood Mac is in the Hall, and had massive amounts of change throughout their career.  

    The strikes against Yes are few, and the reasons for induction many.  They deserve a place within the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    5 Reasons the Twins Will Be In It

    As MLB heads into the All Star break (did the first part of the season fly by or what?), it seems appropriate to check in and review the state of our beloved Minnesota Twins.  And what surprises await!   
    The largest, and most shocking, is that the Twins, down 16.5 games on June 1 (no, that is not a typo - sixteen and half games) have narrowed that gap down to 6.5.  While they got some help as Cleveland came back to the pack, they still went and played .686 baseball over the past 35 games, and clawed their way back into it.  Now, they're not out of the woods as they're still 7 games below .500, but still, to be back in it after being left for dead at the end of May is a remarkable thing.   
    They were able to get into this position based on some of the kids finally contributing (Revere is a bone fide lead off, and Valencia has had some timely hitting), the pitching coming around, and Michael Cuddyer absolutely carrying the team on his shoulders. 
    Note that there is a lot of reason for optimism for the rest of the season.  Consider the following: 
    1. They're about to get some starters back.  Delmon Young is set to return to the big club, and most importantly, Denard Span is starting to recover from his concussion.  Once Span returns, the lineup gets much, much better, and would look something like Revere CF, Span LF, Mauer C, Cuddyer 1B, Thome DH, Young RF, Valencia 3B, Casilla 2B, Nishioka SS.  That is a lineup that can score some serious runs.
    2. They'll also be adding additional bat power down the stretch.  Both Kubel and Morneau are expected to join the team in August.  They'll be able to reenter the lineup slowly, and will hopefully be hitting their stride come September.  
    3. Speaking of September, when the call-ups happen on 9/1, the Twins will have the luxury of tapping into a talent pool that's had a lot of major league experience.  Guys like Tosoni, Repko, Hughes, and Plouffe all got a decent amount of big league at bats this year, and hopefully won't be too intimidated come late season.  
    4. It is only a matter of time for Joe Mauer to hit.  While he's currently hitting an anemic .243, we know that's not where he is going to end the season.  He'll eventually find his way near .300, so that means he will heat up and will have a number of weeks where he'll hit .400 and will be able to carry things.  This will occur.  
    5. However, the biggest reason for optimism for the Twins is their schedule.  They have 12 games left against the Tigers, 13 games against the Indians, and 9 games against the White Sox.  By winning those series, the Twins can control their own destiny.  Also, they have 41 of their remaining 71 games at home, and start after the break with 12 straight games at home, all against divisional teams.  A hot start after the break will make things very interesting for the rest of the season.  
    I'll admit - I had this team written off for dead.  But as one can see above, they're far from deceased, and are in control as to how the rest of the season will play out.  

    What a great come back.   

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Obama a One Termer, Says Obama?

    From the champ himself.  According to him, he's got less than 6 months, or it is time to polish up the resume.

     Better get off the golf course and get to work...

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Cabela's 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Catalog

    Cabela's recently mailed me this behemoth.  It is a 1,300 page, 3 pound+, hardcover monster.  Here's a shot next to some things which provide better context:

    I've been receiving these types of catalogs from Cabela's annually now for nearly 10 years, and they continue to amaze me.  As a old catalog marketer, I know what it costs to produce and mail this monster, and what is needed in terms of response to make the P&L work.  I simply cannot believe this is profitable, but given that they've been producing it for so long, it has to be paying some kind of dividends.  

    It continues to be an advertising marvel to me.

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    The Case for Peter Gabriel for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    In the latest installment of acts that belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we examine the case for Peter Gabriel.  While some may argue that he's already there via the induction of Genesis, as stated earlier in my recaps, the Hall has a huge bias against Prog Rock, and I view the Genesis induction as only a tip of cap to the Top 40, Phil Collins led version of the band that was so popular in the 1980's.  That band looked very different than the Gabriel led band that was pushing envelopes in the 1970's. 

    Here are the primary reasons for inducting Peter Gabriel as a solo act:
    • Gabriel has pretty much always been focused on the artwork, regardless of what it may have cost him in terms of dominating the mainstream.  Be it staging costumes, self-titling his first four albums, re-recording his albums in German, adding his talent to a multitude of motion picture soundtracks, exposing his audience to world music, or his incredible videos, Peter Gabriel has expanded his art.  It always came first for him.    
    • The So album is incredible.  While not a masterpiece per se (some of it is difficult for typical mass consumption), it was the dominant album of its time.  While the world was being besieged by Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince, Peter Gabriel offered a refreshingly new take on music that sounded like nothing else.  And while he did that most of his career, for him to rise to such popularity in such an environment really reflects on the quality of what he was creating at that time.   
    • And while Gabriel's music sounded like nothing else, his videos were even more fantastic.  Consider this one for Shock the Monkey, released in 1982:

    Nobody made videos like that then.  Hell, nobody makes videos like that now.  

    And when discussing Gabriel videos, I'd be remiss if I did not include the award winning and famous Sledgehammer video:

    While not everyone's cup of tea, Peter Gabriel has been a prolific and creative dynamo for five different decades.  He's pushed boundaries across a broad spectrum, all while delivering some incredibly original music.  His massive contributions make him more than worthy to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a stand-alone artist.

      Friday, July 8, 2011

      Top Ten Things About Living in Green Bay

      We recently had some friends from Minnesota share the weekend with us, and we were thrilled to host them.  We miss our friends terribly, and it was great to have company and engage in new adventures.  This was two weekends in a row for us to host friends, and we just loved it.   

      Throughout the weekend, we talked a lot about our new home to our Twin Cities friends.  They inquired how we liked our new home, and while there are definitely big things that we miss from Minnesota, there are some things about this location that make it a very nice place to live.   

      In no particular order, here are ten things that make Green Bay a nice place to call home: 
      • Traffic - being a town of only 105,000 people, there is no such thing as a traffic jam here, with the exception of Packer games.  My morning commute has been reduced from an hour to 15 minutes, and that extra hour and a half every day of productive time that I get back is precious. 
      • Civic Pride - Green Bay citizens love their town.  It is a relationship that is sweet, sincere, and evident.  While there's a touch of inferiority complex by living in the shadows of Chicago, the Twin Cities, and to a lesser extent Milwaukee and Madison, there's plenty of pride with what is here to compensate.    
      • Proximity - The big towns listed previously are 4 hours away, and the smaller ones 2.  Miss the big city?  You're just a short car ride from a change of scenery.    
      • Door County - Speaking of a change of scenery, this location is the most beautiful jewel Wisconsin has.  And it is only a short hour drive from Green Bay.   
      • NFL - I absolutely love how much this city knows its football.  A not just about the Packers; they have the goods on the entire league.  The work fantasy football league already has me a bit intimidated... 
      • Lake Michigan - I was able to see first hand last weekend what a gem this lake is.  Not only does it aid the weather patterns in the area, it also boasts some incredible fishing opportunities - from huge walleyes in the Bay to massive salmon on the big lake.   
      • Fish Fry - As long as we're talking fish, I confess that the Friday tradition of a fish fry is a real treat.  Every restaurant has some kind of offering (even some of the ethnic ones), and everyone who lives here has their favorite spot.  As do we - Farr's Grove   
      • Old Fashioned - Speaking of fish fry, the meal would be nothing without this requisite accompaniment.  It is a damn fine cocktail, and I'm a clear convert.   
      • Work Ethic - The people of Green Bay are a hard working lot.  This is a working person's community, and is a great place for businesses to harness this valuable resource.   
      • Airports - Both the Green Bay and Appleton airports can get you where you need to go, and can do so within about a half hour of arriving.  The bad news is that you'll have to connect, but the good news is that a line at check in or at security will basically never be worse than five people deep.  For one that travels only every month or two, it is a fabulous configuration.   
      There's the list of the things we love about our new home.  We hope you'll come visit us soon so we can show you in person.

      Thursday, July 7, 2011

      Cheap Trive Live at Budokan: Good But Not Great

      A number of weeks ago I posted about the top ten live albumssince 1975.  My brother shot me an email, and stated that he was surprised the Cheap Trick's at Budokan didn't make the list.   

      While I thought hard about the album when making out my list, it didn't fit well within the confines of my definition of what made a great live album.  To go back to the definitions:
      • It should rework the original material and not just be an attempt at replicating the studio song.  
      • It should feel "live" with audience sounds and interaction and 
      • The music should be able to stand on its own - e.g. it should be good enough to pop up in a mix of studio music without throwing things off.  
      Basically, Budokan falls short on two of the three tests.  I'll grant that the album did introduce some new tracks, but primary tracks like Surrender and Come On, Come On are pretty much the same songs as their studio versions.   And while there are definitely audience sounds and interactions, they overwhelm the songs at points and become a distraction.  One can only take so much of 14 year-old Japanese girls screaming.  

      In Cheap Trick's defense, Budokan was never supposed to be released outside of Japan, but was so good that it crossed over to a domestic, and later international release.  Had they been shooting for domestic success, they likely would have recorded and/or mixed it differently.  

      Don't get me wrong, Budokan is a great album, and a very enjoyable recording.  It's just not top ten worthy.   

      Tuesday, July 5, 2011

      Hooked Up Sport Fishing Charters Review - Lake Michigan Salmon Fishing at Its Best

      We spent the weekend fishing with Hooked Up Sport Fishing Charters out of Sturgeon Bay, WI fishing for monster Lake Michigan salmon.  In a word, the trip was outstanding.   

      We stated on Friday afternoon, and met Captain Dean at our noon departure time.  Unfortunately, the wind was howling out of the south at nearly 30 MPH, and the waves on the lake were brutal.  Dean stated very clearly that he'd take us whenever we wanted to go, but strongly suggested that we wait until sundown as the wind was slated to die down at that hour.  I'm not sure most charter captains would bother talking us out of it - he and his first mate are used to the massive waves, and their boat can handle most anything the big lake can throw at it.  However, he knew it would be miserable for us, and he was extremely forthright with his recommendation.  We opted to meet again that night at 5.   

      We drove back to Green Bay, a quick hour away, then turned back around at the appropriate time.  While the wind did indeed subside, the lake was still quite violent, and Dean suggested we drive out to the big lake and make a decision.  Should we choose not to go at that point, he'd charge us nothing.  The 15 minute ride to the big lake showed that things were indeed rough, but we were game, and gave the thumbs up to go fishing.   

      We should have known what we were into when we got to the location about 5 miles outside of the port and found ourselves in the fishing area all by our lonesome, but we were up for the adventure, lines went out, and we were on fish in about 15 minutes.  We ended up boating 12 before calling it a night.  Here are some photos:   

      Despite the massive waves, only one of us got seasick (me), and that was right as we were pulling up lines to leave.  It's the only time in my life where I've been motion sick, and while I felt like a wimp, I was comforted by the box full of Lake Michigan salmon that we boated.   

      The following day found little wind and fairly calm seas, but even through the fishery had been changed by the big waves of the day prior, and even though afternoons tend to be more quiet, we immediately got on fish.  In fact a neighboring boat called us to ask Dean how the fishing was going.  Dean told them we were doing OK - we had 8 fish in the boat with multiple misses - whereas the other captain complained that his clients hadn't had a bite.  Why the difference?  Part of it was surely hustle.  Our boat was running 14 rods at one point, and that vast coverage got us on fish.  Dean and Beau, the first mate, flew around the boat, making sure things were set.   

      So how did we do the second day?  Look for yourself:   

      We ended with a limit of 15 fish for 3 guys.  And note that these fished were cleaned by Beau in an amazing fashion at the back of the boat while motoring back to shore.  How he did it in the waves without losing a digit or two is still a miracle to me, but all fillets were expertly cleaned.   

      So here's the upshot on our experience:  
      • I've never seen two guys hustle more for their clients.  You may not get fish, but I guarantee you it will not be because of a lack of trying.  
      • Both Dean and Beau were personable, funny, knowledgeable, and fun.  Just great guys with which to spend half of a day in the boat.  
      • Our bottom line turned out to be 27 fish in two days, at an estimated 160 lbs. of salmon.  Yes, that number is right, and it is conservative.  
      • As stated earlier, fishing was outstanding.  The whole experience was outstanding.  Even me puking wasn't that bad...
      We arrived home that second day and grilled fresh salmon for our wives, and everyone agreed that it was the best salmon meal we ever had.  There is something about eating something so incredibly fresh.  

      By the end of the weekend, we all decided that this will be an annual event.  We can't wait to do it again.

      What an incredible two days of fishing.    

      Monday, July 4, 2011

      Minnesota DNR Takes Ball Home, Shuts Down Website

      In a completely classless act, the Minnesota DNR is having many (most?) of its web pages automatically redirected to the above. 

      Yeah, I know your department is "shut down."  But there are hundreds of pages on the MN DNR website that could still be serving the public, and for which the public has paid, that could still be up and running while the lockout continues.   

      Instead, the DNR chose a "scorched earth" policy.  No access to their information at all.  Despite the fact that we paid for those pages. 

      It is exactly a move like this that makes the taxpaying public despise the government sector.

      DNR, I'm sure you attempted to demonstrate to the public how vital your services are by locking out the public from your self-service areas.  Instead, you come across as petulant children.

      Shame on you.

      Sunday, July 3, 2011

      Taxing the Rich, Revisited

      With Obama looking to tax "private jet owners," and with Mark Dayton shutting down government services in Minnesota because he can't get the legislature to agree with his plan to tax the rich, it is necessary to revisit this video.  Please, watch it all:

      The rich can be taxed - taxed as much as possible.  And it still won't make a dent.  Not a dent.  Government spending has grown by that much.

      We're at a tipping point, folks.  It is on display for all of us to see in Greece right now, and if we think it can't happen here, then we really don't understand math.

      Basic, simple, math. 

      But with massive, scary numbers that are almost impossible to fathom.