Friday, March 30, 2012

The Route 29 Batman

Get the Kleenex ready, then click here.

I'd like to think I'm a good person.  I give.  I do my share.  Then along comes a story like this about a guy doing such incredibly touching work - making real differences in lives to those that need it the most - that I feel completely unworthy of carrying his jock.

Or, I this case, I guess that would make it his bat-jock.


A Dog Named Blitz Fixed, Again


Often when I travel, I write, and when I do so I usually use my iPad.  While there are apps that enable me to update the blog directly from that device, I'm unable to control some formatting, so typically I copy over whatever I've written on the iPad to some PC based platform and update from there.

Unfortunately, sometimes when I do that things don't work as well as I'd like.  That happened with the last installment of A Dog Named Blitz, where an important paragraph got dropped completely.

I've fixed it and promise to be more diligent going forward. 

Thanks for being a reader of this space - especially those of you that come here just for the Blitz stories.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just How Bad Was the Packers Loss to the Giants?

Just how bad was it?  Well, the above picture is of a Christmas tree outside of a nameless Packer player's house in my neigboorhood.  Looks like somebody left in a hurry.

I would have liked to have heard that coversation:

"We're leaving"
"What?  We're not packed!"
"Don't care, we're leaving"
"But the Christmas tree is still up"
"Take the ornaments, take the kids, leave the tree, leave the lights.  We're outta here..."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Six, "Third Year: Part 3"

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

As stated earlier, my father was stricken with Pick's disease, and by Blitz's third year Dad had been in a memory care facility for a while.  Although getting him there was one of the hardest things we would ever do as a family. 

For years Mom took care of Dad the best she could.  She was incredibly strong, as caring for one with dementia is among the hardest work one can perform.  Despite having little to no short term memory and constantly repeating himself, Dad had also developed repetitive habits like smoking cigarettes and demanding to go to the same lousy restaurant every night.  Mom took him - she had to take him or else he'd walk - and I'd try to take him a night or two a week to break things up for her.  My brother-in-law also pulled some shifts, which my Mom greatly appreciated.  However Dad was only getting worse, and was it was soon becoming more and more difficult to care for him. 

Despite all her care, strength, and best efforts, Mom ultimately reached the point of exhaustion that all care givers that suffer these diseases face.  For everyone's good, it now became necessary to place Dad in a memory care facility. 

As a family, we did a lot of due diligence on which facility would be best.  We toured a number, and saw a wide spectrum of care being provided.  A couple were shocking: even when they knew we'd be touring, some facilities were dirty and their residents were receiving horrible care.  It was heartbreaking to see. 

We were blessed in that we ultimately found a great place on the outskirts of the city. It was new, well staffed, clean, professional, and safe.  The other thing we really liked was that families of the residents had 24/7 access to the facility, no matter what.  That meant that the facility couldn't hide behind visiting hours.  They were an open book, which was exactly what we wanted for Dad. 

We had the facility, we now needed to get him up there.  The first step was to set Dad's room up with familiar things to make him feel like this was indeed his place.  This was accomplished via favorite pictures, artwork and books.  We also set up a TV, along with a large recliner that was nicknamed "Verne."  The recliner was named after famous pro wrestler Verne Gagne, whose notorious finishing move was a sleeper hold.  Once Verne had it applied, it was only a matter a time before his opponent was rendered unconscious.  So too with the recliner. Dad couldn't be in it for very long without snoring eventually ensuing. 

In a tragic twist of fate the real Verne Gagne developed Alzheimer's  and eventually was housed in the same facility as Dad.  Very sad. 

On our appointed day, we got Dad into the car undo the auspices of going for a ride.  The short trip felt like a long time, and I was quite thankful that my brother had flown in from his home in San Francisco to lend his support.  It just made things better for me having him be there. 

We entered the facility without too much trouble from Dad, and got him into his room.  He was progressed enough in the disease that he didn't get what was going on, which was equal parts blessing and curse.  It was a blessing as we were able to get him up there, and curse that once there, all he could utter, over and over again, was "let's go." 

After about an hour we got him as situated as we possibly could, and attempted to get him to lie down and take a nap.  He continued to say over and over again, "Let's go."  After about 15 minutes we were finally able to make it clear that we needed to leave, and he needed to stay.  Looking up from us as he sat on his bed, he said with extremely hurt eyes and as much lucidity as he'd displayed in years, "Please don't leave me here." 

In the abundance of heartbreak the disease cost us for all of those years, that moment was the most heartbreaking.  My family and I departed in silence, each of us likely having the internal dialog battle of "it's for the best" versus "what the hell did we just do?" 

It was of course for the best, and within a couple of days the route nature caused by the disease afforded Dad the opportunity to develop a new set of of repetitive habits, and he very quickly acclimated to the facility.  The place itself was quite nice, with big screen TV rooms, sitting rooms, comfortable commons areas, an ice cream parlor, and a large outdoor courtyard. 

It was to that courtyard that I'd often take Blitz for a visit with Dad.  Dogs were welcome in the outdoor areas, and were a common site for the residents as aid dogs were often brought in for interactions.  While I was originally worried about this as Blitz was often so wired up to meet new people, she was always on her best behavior on these visits; maintaining her composure but all the while being the friendly dog she always was. 

In the courtyard, Dad and I often played a game of catch, as Dad still had fantastic coordination and seemed to enjoy the activity.  I found it so remarkable that a man whose brain had been so ravaged - to the point where as to be unable to care for his basic needs, and to be rendered nearly mute - was still able to have a catch with his son.  And every toss, every one, was right at my chest, just like he taught us when we were kids.  It was amazing, and afforded memories that will last with me forever. 

While Blitz basically behaved, for these games of catch, it was just too much.  She'd be unable to control herself.  She'd fly back and forth, following the ball in the air and awaiting any drop so she could fetch up the errant ball.  It made both Dad and me grin, and I'd ultimately mention, "Boy, she's one crazy dog."  Dad would reply back with one of the few words he could still utter, "Yep."

Ultimately I'd feel sorry for Blitz, and I'd ask Dad to throw the ball for her to fetch, and he did so expertly.  She'd dutifully track down the thrown ball, fetch it in her teeth, and quickly return it to Dad where he'd take it from her and would start the process all over again.  Of the three of us, I'm not sure who loved the fetch game the most. 

Often while Dad was playing with the dog I'd think about what a horrible shame all of this was.  It was so very unfair on so many levels.  One tiny level was that Dad was never able to hunt with Blitz, and to see her work.  Dad was always a dog guy, and he would have been impressed with how she performed.  I would have given anything to have been able to have one hunt with the two of them.  Instead, I'd have to tell Dad stories from hunting and how amazing Blitz was. 

While I'm not sure Dad comprehended much of what I told him, and while I'm sure he wouldn't be able to recall any of it two minutes after I said it, he seemed to enjoy sitting there, petting Blitz, and listening.  At this point, the unfairness of the disease would usually hit me.  I missed my hunting buddy.  I missed my Dad.

We always closed these sessions same way, with me choking through a horrible lump in my throat, stating,  "She's an incredible dog, Dad.  I wish to God you could go out with us and see for yourself." 

And he'd always reply, "Yep."

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Trayvon Martin Killing and Outrage for Political Gain

The Trayvon Martin killing is a human tragedy.  An innocent kid is dead, and while we don't know the reason why, nor likely will we ever know, it just seems like such a horrible episode that never should have happened. 

It is made substantively more worse as the media, the President, "black leadership," and others have made it a racial issue. 

Pardon me, but their concern is nothing but politically oriented race baiting.  Period. 

African American men are being killed by the dozen, about every day.  In fact, in President Obama's home town of Chicago, 11 black men have been killed by gunfire this month alone.  It is the closest thing we have to a genocide currently going on in this country.  And yet where is the President, or "black leadership," or the media?  Where are the calls for investigation, for justice, and for an end to the violence? Do they sidestep the issue because often the trigger man in these killings is also black? 

President Obama famously said that if he had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.  Excuse me, Mr. President, but I'd venture to guess that since you've started your political career, thousands of black men that might have resembled your son have been murdered.  Thousands.  And yet you said nothing.

When this President was elected, some in the media stated that we've reached a post-racial state in our country.  By playing the race card in a local tragedy while ignoring a national slaughter, the President (and others) have shown that they don't really care about the plight of the black man.  They're just shameless political opportunists, leveraging race for political gain. 

That's all. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Journalistic Integrity Not an Oxymoron at Green Bay Press-Gazette

Kevin Corrado, the president of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, wrote a cover editorial yesterday which stated that 25 Gannett Wisconsin Media journalists, including seven at the Press-Gazette, signed a petition to recall embattled Governor Scott Walker. 

Unlike a private vote, these public signatures breached a number of company ethical standards, and the employees are now being held to account.  And by admitting the situation and laying out the path forward, Mr. Corrado shows that he's taking journalistic integrity seriously at his paper. 

In the mean time, the unions have hit the comments section of the electronic version of his editorial with a vengeance.  But none of the brain surgeons there will post up where the line should be drawn.  Under their "right to petition" and "free speech" argument, could a journalist post a political sign in their yard?  Have a political bumper sticker on their car?  Wear a political button or T-shirt?  Donate to a political party?  Where is the line?

Journalists have a huge credibility gap with the public, and this is one of the primary reasons for plummeting circulations and ratings.  The public has lost the trust, and has flocked to new sources of information - some of it more, and some of it less biased.  If traditional media has any hope whatsoever of surviving, it must win back the faith and trust of the public. 

With the recent admission, Mr. Corrado is taking just such a step.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Obama Tweet Shows Complete Lack of Class

Here is the most recent tweet from the President of the United States. 

Just incredible. 

The President of the United States. 

Hopefully only for 7 more months or so...

Friday, March 23, 2012

City that Never Sleeps?

I had an early flight this morning, but knew that the hotel lobby had a Starbucks.

After a short elevator ride, I met the bellman in the deserted lobby. I noticed over his shoulder a darkened Starbucks.

What? No coffee? I asked him about this whole "city that never sleeps" deal. "Man, I tell you - this hotel sleeps!". He then pointed me to a Starbucks across the street that would be open.

As it worked out, it was nice as I got a good look at Time Square at 5:30 in the morning.

Biggest surprise? People already lining up in front of Good Morning America's window.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sheboygan Lutheran Kids Shout Down Union Recall Protest

More insanity from my new home state.  However, this time, it is the good kind.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Demanding Facebook Access in Interviews a Non-Story

Yesterday the web exploded with a story from AssociatedPress about how employers are demanding that job applicants provide their Facebook account log-in information so that the account can be evaluated as part of the interview process. 

The story immediately drew a massive cry of foul across the internet, with demands for "more unions!" and cries for comeuppance for "corporate America." 

There's just one tiny, little problem.  The story is not true.  Oh, sure, the article pointed out very clear examples of this happening.  They are outliers to create a story, pure and simple. 

As a business leader, I know of no example - zero - of any company doing this.  On the StarTribune comments board I asked the community to name names - to post any company that they knew was doing this.  After thousands of views, I still have yet to receive one response.  Crickets.

Hey, bad stuff happens in interviews all the time.  I once was interviewed while the interviewer was taking a bowel movement (true story).  However, I hardly think such behavior was the norm.  That is the exact same deal in this situation. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Golf on March 18

My lovely bride and I got out on our home course last Sunday, March 18.  Normally the track would still be under a foot of snow or two, but not this year.  With temps in the 60s or 70s for the past ten days, the snow is gone, the ground thawed, and the golf started.

In comparison, my first round last year was April 29 - nearly six weeks later.

While I shot a 96, for the first time out and for going double-triple-double to start my first three holes, I was happy with the effort.

Who am I kidding?  I could have shot a 150 and still loved it.  Good-bye, winter.

It is always so frustrating every year watching the Masters and wishing I could just go outside and play.  This year, all I need to do is to grab the clubs and step outside.

Monday, March 19, 2012

StarTribune's "War on Women" Headline Story Pure Bunk

In yesterday's StarTribune, a headline story told the tale of how women are "smarting from cuts and old stereotypes" in their careers.  A quote in the story which gets to crux follows:

"We're getting consistent reports of a woman being told that a man got a promotion over her because he has a family to support," said Joan Williams, a law professor running the Center for Worklife Law at the University of California. 

Excuse me for being coarse, but that is pure bull excrement. 

It is 2012 and talent is talent. Companies are as lean as they can possibly be, and I don't know a one that wouldn't hire the best talent available, bar none. Anyone that would still be basing employment decisions on race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. has already passed on so much talent that they're likely out of business already. The one and only benefit of the Great Recession is that businesses are so lean that they can't afford anything less than the best of the best anymore.

Regardless of who the best is. 

I'm not sure if this is just a ham-handed attempt to fuel the whole "war on women" narrative that the media is currently pushing (it sure feels like it), but speaking as business executive, it is complete garbage.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Review of "An Evening of Irish Rock" - Jeans 'N Classics & The Green Bay Symphony Orchestra

Last night my wife and I attended the Green Bay Symphony's production of "An Evening of Irish Rock," which was preformed in conjunction with the rock band Jeans 'N Classics.  Jeans is a touring band that specializes in cooperative production of rock songs with orchestras, and has been doing so for years.  They travel North America, and have developed programs that have focused on music from artists like Sting, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and, like much of last night, U2. 

The evening started out with rousing production of Riverdance by the orchestra to fully set the Irish tone for the evening, and shortly thereafter the ensemble shifted into Thin Lizzie's The Boys are Back in Town.  Michael Shotton, the male lead singer, hit the stage with an energetic gusto did his best throughout the night to get the audience to let its collective hair down a little bit.  His voice was very strong, and styling very close to Bono, so the U2 songs that were presented were very well done. 

However, for my money, female lead vocalist Kathryn Rose stole the show.  Her vocals on Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U (included as Sinead O'Connor's cover of it made it a classic) and Cranberries' Linger were outstanding, and on Van Morrison's Have I Told You Lately, incredible.  Her voice is smoky, sexy, and her treatment of what could be argued as a tired song breathed wonderful life into it.  She's an outstanding vocal talent. 

What really made the evening for me were the songs in which the orchestra was able to really augment the traditional cover.  A couple great examples of this included a surprising Vertigo, The Unforgettable Fire (for my money, the best song of the evening), and Where the Streets Have No Name. 

The ensemble closed with Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For which turned into a nice sing-along.  It was a great way to close the event. 

I did not know what to expect last night, and came away very impressed and entertained.  I also came away looking for Kathryn Rose's material on iTunes, where I found a nice assortment which I'll be downloading later. 

Great stuff.   

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Taking the "Other Vehicle" to Dinner

The weather was so lovely in Green Bay last night that I was able to convince my always-cold wife to take the golf cart to the club for dinner.

March 16, and temps are going to be in the mid-70's today.

Why am I even writing this?  I'm headed outside.  Have a great St. Patrick's Day

Friday, March 16, 2012

Van Halen and Kool & the Gang. Really

In past posts, I've provided proof as to why Sammy Hagar is better than David Lee Roth.  I've also reported on the putrid new effort by the Roth-led Van Halen.  Now, with Roth and Van Halen on the road at the same time that Michael Anthony and Hagar are on the road with their band Chickenfoot, fans can get a say as to who they REALLY want to see. 

Chickenfoot is playing smaller, more intimate venues, and has up and coming rockers Black Stone Cherry opening for them.  For those unfamiliar with BSC, you can hear more here. 

As for Van Halen, they're going big like the rock icons they are (except, for course, for you, Wolfgang).  Big venues, big crowds, big ticket prices.  And their opening act?  None other than rock and roll giants Kool & The Gang. 


Yes, music fans.  Kool & The Gang. 

But why?  Why would such hard rock royalty throw in with an 80's-light rock-wedding music-slow dance from your prom-girly-chick song playing-not charted an album since '86-washed up-oldies band? 

Because Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth don't give a rat's ass about their audience.  Never have.  They just want the dough.  If they combine with a band so that some old 40 or 50-something guy will bring along his wife, they get to sell two tickets instead of one!  Suckers!

So for those that still believe that Dave's version of Van Halen is the best - go see your oldies show.  Your wife might want to go, too.  Me?  I'd rather check out what the 'Foot and BSC are laying down.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Seven "Third Year: Part 2"

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section
While I made the decision to not hunt Blitz in a competition ever again, I did hunt her quite a bit at local game farms that spring because she simply lived to hunt.  An innocent off-season sorting of my hunting clothes was enough to get her whipped up into a frenzy, and if she felt we were headed out on a hunt, the simple act of getting into her kennel in the back of the truck was made with such gusto that she'd actually force the kennel back a good six inches just entering. 

The game farm offered her a great way to maintain her skills and enthusiasm after the normal season had closed, and I looked for opportunities to take her out there when time and finances allowed.  Unfortunately game farm hunting is not a cheap endeavor, with birds costing $25 to $30 each.  Throw in guest fees, ammunition, travel, lunch, and various other expenses, and a simple trip can easily get into the hundreds of dollars.  Hence, I felt very fortunate on the occasion that I was able to loop Blitz and me into a wonderful hunt that we were giving away at work. 

I was running marketing for a major sporting goods company at the time, and was negotiating with the Minnesota Vikings on an advertising package for the coming year.  In addition to the traditional advertising opportunities - stadium signage, program advertising, sponsorships, and the like - the Vikings were able to make alumni players available for store appearances, corporate gatherings, and other events.  In our discussions, it came up that NFL six-time Pro Bowl center Mick Tingelhoff  was an avid bird hunter, and may be interested in being available for a game farm hunt to be used as a sweepstakes. 

For anyone living in Minnesota in the 1970's, Mick Tinglehoff was Vikings royalty.  He was widely considered the best at his position through the late '60's, and he led the offensive line for the their four NFC Championships.  He'd be a perfect incentive to drive folks into our stores under the pretext of possibly getting a chance to hunt with him. 

My worry, though, was about his shape.  Here was a man that played at the highest level of football for sixteen years.  Sixteen years!  Were his knees capable of carrying him along in a day-long hunt?  Would his shoulder and arms be up to the task of hauling a heavy gun and firing?  Through my work and in other capacities I had chances to meet Vikings players from the 60's and 70's, and some of them could barely move due to the years of punishment their bodies sustained.  Just what could I expect?  My contact at the Vikings suggested I not worry, and we worked out the details for the drawing. 

Still, I was nervous. 

The sweepstakes as a promotion was as much of a hit as I had expected, and I was thrilled for how it drove traffic to the stores.  I was also thrilled with our winner - a young man of 12.  Hunting is turning into a old man's game as very few kids hunt anymore.  To get some new blood into the field excited me to no end.  And while our winner didn't know Mick Tingelhoff from Adam, he was darned excited to be selected for such a great trip.  His dad, on the other hand, seemed just as thrilled to meet the famed #53 from the Vikings. 

On the appointed day our winner, his dad and I were to meet Mick for lunch ahead of our afternoon hunt.  At this point I was worried.  What if Mick was indeed in bad shape?  What if he was a raging jerk, as some athletes were?  I was worried for our young winner, as I wanted this day to be a memorable one for him. 

In short order an older gentleman entered the restaurant, strode easily over to our table, removed his cap, and introduced himself as Mick Tingelhoff.  Despite my fears, Mick was in incredible shape.  He moved fine, obviously kept himself in shape, and would have no trouble on this hunt.  Likewise, as we learned over lunch, he was a humble and personable gentleman.  A truly wonderful guy. 

This was punctuated as he was telling stories at lunch.  He happened to mention that at the time of his retirement he held the record for the second most consecutive games played at 240 straight games (teammate Jim Marshall famously held the record for most games played).  240 games!  And these weren't the easy games of a kicker or a punter.  These were games played via the war in the trenches.  Remembering his gait over to the table, and looking at his non-gnarled hands, I finally had to ask how he did it.  Just exactly how did he stay healthy all of those years?  With the deepest sincerity, he looked me dead in the eye and said, "Mike, I don't know.  I honestly don't know.  I do know that I'm very lucky.  Most of the men I played with have significant health issues.  I just don't.  I get out of bed every morning and I feel fine.  I'm just really, really lucky."  It was an amazing story. 

We finished our lunches and headed out to start our hunt.  After a short drive to our appointed field we were joined by a guide from the club, but for this hunt, Blitz would be our sole dog.  I introduced our group to Blitz at the tailgate, and got her ready for the hunt. 

It wasn't long before Blitz got on a hot scent, and I let our band know that her body signals meant she was birdy, and that we needed to get ready.  After dashing head-down about 20 yards ahead and to my left, Blitz made a quick jerk to her left and immediately locked up statue still.  "OK guys," I said, "She's on point.  That means there's a bird somewhere in front of her nose.  Get in behind her and I'll get her to flush it up."  Right away the winner's father suggested that Mick get into position, but Mick immediately deferred.  He wanted to see what kind of a shot our young winner was. 

After getting the boy into position I commanded Blitz to get the bird, and immediately a beautiful rooster burst from the cover directly in front of her.  Our young winner, with all the pressure of being the designated shooter on him, made a single, clean and sporty shot on the hard flying bird.  Blitz marked the bird down, retrieved it, and brought it to hand, with compliments around for her performance.  None of our group had hunted with a pointing lab before, and they were thrilled with Blitz's performance.   

While I carried a gun for the hunt, I served only as a back-up shooter, as I wanted the day to belong to the boy, his dad, and to Mick.  I was forced into a couple of shots, and performed well, but left the gun slung over my shoulder for much of the day.  That was just fine with me, as I was thrilled to watch Blitz work so well.  I was equally thrilled to watch our group have so much fun hunting behind her. 

Our day could not have been any better; our winners were incredibly appreciative, and our celebrity a consummate gentleman.  Throw in some outstanding dog work by Blitz, and the whole experience was a rousing success.  At the end, the father of our winner approached me a conveyed his sincere appreciation for how his son was treated.  He was made to feel really special, and had a day that he'd not forget. And neither of them would forget that incredible pointing yellow lab.  I conveyed my appreciation for the compliment, and stated with all sincerity that anything we could do to get a young kid hooked on hunting was worth the effort.  We shook hands and said our good-byes. 

It was now time to thank Mick, and he came up to me with his hand extended and wearing a huge grin.  "You know," he said, "you never know what you're going to get into when you volunteer for one of these things.  I just want you to know I had a great time.  A great time.  And you've got one heck of a dog.  Thank you."  Coming from a guy that knew a thing or two about athletic performance, that meant the world to me. 

Thanks for a memorable day, #53.  If there was a Hall of Fame for being a gentleman, you'd be in it.    

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

10 Second Call - Day Changer

I tossed in bed after the 4:00 alarm had gone off.  I had slept poorly the night before, and just did not want to get up and work out.  After a 20 minute debate with myself, I finally inflicted enough self-loathing to get me up and moving.

I drove the club, and encountered multiple issues with my Ford Sync.  Good thing it was 4:30 and there were few people on the road, as driving while trying to fix my iPhone caused me to weave all over the road.  It was a stupid thing to do on multiple levels.

I got to the club in a foul mood, and hit my favorite machine to burn off some frustration.  However, for whatever reason, it was a bad workout day.  I could never find a good stride, my body ached, and my normal workout was a struggle. 

As I was trying to push through my issues, the only other guy in the whole building climbs on the machine right next to me.  He had seven others to choose from, all complete with working TVs, fans, and the whole Mary Ann.  But no, my buddy needed to be right next to me.  Creepy.

I did about 2/3 of my normal work out circuit, bailing on the weights and cutting some stuff short.  I have an ugly day at work today with a really tough vendor negotiation, and I'm dreading it.  I needed to get in early, so I just punted and the club and headed home, angry at myself for such a weak effort.

On the way out the door I noticed I had a voicemail from my Mom from the night before.  I got into my car, tried to listen to the message, but since Ford Sync was down, I put the phone to my ear and replayed the message with a huff of frustration.

The message was from my 11 year old niece (my Mom must have been baby sitting).  In a short 10 second call she told me she missed me and she loved me.


By the looks of it, I think today is going to be a pretty good day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Truly Badass Tattoo

Everybody and their brother has a tattoo nowadays.  In certain circles, those without a tat are considered the outsiders and outliers while everyone else is busy expressing their individuality and being badass.  To these posers, I'd like to tell a story of what badass really means: 

As a summer job during my college days in the 1980's, my Dad happened to sit on the Board of Directors for a company that manufactured hair care products in Minneapolis.  As such, my brother and I both landed summer gigs at the shampoo factory - his being a job on the production line, and mine being manual labor on the receiving dock. 

Life on the receiving dock was a tough one, as we took in all of the raw materials that would ultimately be used to manufacture, bottle, and ship the finished goods.  It was a lot of lifting, stacking, carrying, and rolling, and it was the hardest manual labor I have done in my life.  The worst part was moving 55 gallon drums of chemicals, which, at their weight of 450 lbs. basically could only be moved by a rolling technique - one would stand next to the barrel at the right hip, jam the right foot where the barrel met the floor, then reach across the top of the barrel to the other side to attempt to heave it onto its side in one swift motion.  With the drum on its side, it was now easy to roll in a hand-over-hand motion, even despite its massive weight.  The challenge, though, was in that first heave, as a bad technique could get one significantly hurt and/or get a barrel of sometimes caustic material lying on its side on the floor. 

Every night my brother and I would drive home exhausted and thankful that this was but a summer job.  However, the people we worked beside every day did this for their livelihood.  There was no back to the carefree days of college come September.  There would just be back to the line, or back to the dock.  All day.  Every day.  Forever. 

The guys at the dock tolerated me, and that was about it.  They knew how I landed the job, and they didn't suffer much from the college kid.  They expected me to work my butt off, and I did my best to meet their expectations.  But despite my youth and strength, my inexperience made me less productive than others, and that simply wasn't tolerated very well.  Especially from Jerry, the dock manager. 

Jerry was in his late 50's or early 60's.  He stood maybe five foot three inches, and had to weigh maybe 135 pounds.  However, his stature was the only thing about him which was small.  When a truck came into the dock, Jerry would be barking out orders, and ultimately find himself somewhere in the middle of the task throwing boxes around like a man twice his size.  He had worked there forever, and had the attitude to show for it.  This was as far as his career was going to take him, and I often felt that was the reason he was ornery as he was.

Perhaps another reason for his dour mood was the lack of respect given to him by his men.  Jerry had a very Jewish surname that some on the crew "anglo-ized" and hence refused to call him by his real name.  Done under the pretext of good-natured fun, I always viewed it as insulting and refused to join in when the others, even when Jerry stated he didn't mind.  For me it just wasn't right, and was disrespectful. 

Late one hot Friday in the middle of summer Jerry and I were alone on the dock handling one last semi, as a couple of guys were on vacation, and others had punched out early to get a jump on the weekend.  We waded into the hot truck; slinging boxes, hauling pallets, and me trying to keep up with an old man who was nearly three times my age and half my size.  That's when I happened to see Jerry's tattoo showing from the bare arm of his never-rolled-up sleeve.  It looked pretty much like this. 

I knew exactly what it was, and immediately a huge lump rose in my throat.  This frail man, putting on a manual labor clinic as he had for decades, had spent time in a Nazi concentration camp. 

Who knows what kind of horrors he suffered, what he endured, what he saw, and who he lost?  I stood there flustered, wanting to say something, but unable to voice anything.  What do you say to one who has suffered so greatly?  I'm sorry?  That seemed woefully inefficient.  I was rendered speechless, and completely taken aback. 

A curt "Get moving or we'll be here all weekend," in a slight German accent snapped me out of it and got me moving, and moving harder and faster than I have ever worked.  I figured I could offer Jerry nothing for the suffering he endured, but maybe if I worked my butt off over the next hour or so we'd finish the semi off and could clock out early for the weekend.  It was about the only thing I could control - the only positive contribution I could make in this man's life. 

After that day, I never minded Jerry's foul moods.  They were acceptable to me, and if he viewed me as just a know-nothing college kid, that was just fine.  I had no problem with it.  What I did have problem with, though, were the jokes and remarks about Jerry by his crew when he wasn't there.  These guys knew Jerry only as their older, smaller, and agitated boss.  They had no clue about who was or what he had been through. 

But for me that tattoo, and those numbers and what they represented, belied just how badass the man wearing them truly was.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New at Yellow Dog Patrol: Email Notifications

Infrequent reader of YDP and wish you had a way to stay on top of the latest updates?  Want a notification every time YDP is updated?  Do you just need more email?  Well, then, bucko, you have come to the right place.

Just enter your email address in the graphic to your right - the one that looks like this:

You'll never miss another riveting update.

Thanks for your loyal readership of Yellow Dog Patrol!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Global Warming a Huge Hit in Green Bay

It is March 11, and this is the 10 day forecast for the Frozen Tundra:

If this is what Global Warming Climate Change is like, consider me a fan.

I Facebooked the golf course on an opening date, and they expect we'll be playing before St. Patrick's Day. 

Bring on summer!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kent Hrbek Shills for Taco Bell Fish Tacos

I'm not sure whose brand is tainted more by associating with the other.  Thoughts?

Friday, March 9, 2012

America Looks at the Squirrel

Shame on all of us.   

Unemployment up over 9%, with real unemployment near (or over) 20%.  Record numbers of families on food stamps.  $4 gas, with $5 coming soon and $6 likely to occur this summer.  Record deficits.  Five full years of recession.   

And yet all we can talk about is "women's heath."   

This is nothing but a distraction ploy, and thankfully for the Democrats, it is working.  Like a champ.  They cannot run on their economic record, so a women's issue outraged is drummed up, and catches fire.  

 And we proceed to look at the squirrel, like the good dogs we are. 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Millionaire on Food Stamps

This story is all over the web right now, so I apologize for the "me too" aspect, but I do have a couple of points.  But first, let's meet Amanda:

What's wrong with this story?  Oh, boy, kids:
  • 25% of Michigan residents on food stamps.  25%
  • A woman that needs the state to feed her can somehow find the funds to play the lottery in the first place
  • Our perp's half-grin while pleading her case for more state money is infuriating
  • Her agitation at having to pay taxes on her lottery winnings is ironic
  • The state rep proposing legistlation that if someone wins the lottery, they have to go off food stamps, is a coward.
For that state rep, here might be a couple of pieces of legislation that he might consider instead of the brilliant legalese he's currently crafting:
  • Playing the lotto?  Good.  Show your ID.  Quick lookup.  Happen to be on food stamps?  No lotto for you.  Show the would-be gambler the door.
  • Won the lotto and on food stamps?  Good.  Not only are you cut off for existing support, but you can use your new windfall to pay back the support you received in the past.
We are paying thousands and thousands of people for nothing.  We are raising entire generations that offer nothing to our broader society than an open hand and an attitude of entitlement (just look at the video again if you don't believe me). 

And the people that really need help will be the ones that suffer the most when the hammer falls. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chevy Volt - A Crapload of Bad Advertising

Perhaps GM is desperate.  They did recently suspend Volt production and lay off 1,300 employees.  So perhaps the coarse, unnecessary vulgarity is just a Hail Mary designed to get folks talking.

In that case, it worked, because here we are.

Really, Chevy?  That's the best you can do with your advertising dollars?  If so, I suggest you get ready to place another call to the President for the next round of bail-outs.  I think you're going to need it...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend at Dr. Bill's

I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with a group of buddies that included one from high school, two from college, and one former neighbor.  While where I met them is varied, the one thing we have in common is our enjoyment of a good hunt, and being in the company of dogs (mostly yellow ones, but there are exceptions).

Above is our esteemed host, Dr. Bill, with a brace of pheasants, and a new firearm.  Next to him is his trusty hound, Cooper.

Here are some additional photos:

Here are Fuzzy and Mr. Jude unloading at the car, and likely recapping who missed what.

Here's Miller-time wrestling with Cabo in trying to get a collar on the dog.  Cabo is winning...

The boys having a laugh, likely at somebody else's expense.

Dr. Bill proving that just because he was using a new gun doesn't mean that he needs any excuses.

We don't raise nearly the hell like we used to - a big night for us usually entails a big dinner, some cocktails, and a college basketball game.  Our conversations are more tame than they used to be as well, as we now talk about things like the health of our parents and ourselves.  But while things may have settled down a little bit, there's still enough smack talk, stories, and laughs to carry me for months. 

I started this column stating that I was lucky to spend the weekend like I did.  In the long drive home, thinking back on the entire time, it made me realize how lucky I am.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Born in 1964

I hit the sporting good store to see if I needed any provisions for an upcoming hunting trip, and found a couple of boxes of ammunition on clearance that were just too cheap to not purchase.  I brought them up to the counter where an older woman was running check out.

She needed to see my ID for the purchase, and remarked that I was born in 1964.  I remarked to the affirmative, to which she replied that it was notible to her as she was born in '63.


My first impression of her as I entered the line was that this was an old woman.  Thinning hair, slunched stature, bags under the eyes, the whole Mary Ann.  And her smoker's voice didn't help the situation.  

But yet she was a just year older than I was. 

If the world sees me like I saw her, I'm in deep trouble.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Concert Review - Buddy Guy, Green Bay Oneida Casino

We took in Buddy Guy's show last night at the Oneida Casino in Green Bay, and to say I was impressed would be a gross understatement.  Fortunately, I was able to see it, as that was almost not the case. 

The evening started with a horrible queue situation in the casino, where liquor distribution, people just standing around drinking, and people wanting to get into the venue conjoined in a mass of humanity that was dozens deep and just not moving. 

After 20 minutes we finally were able to enter the venue, albeit with dour moods.  They were made worse by the configuration of the room, where our stage left, seventh row tickets were so far left that we needed to sit sideways to try and enjoy the show.  Likewise the seating configuration was cramped and tight, leaving my normally steadfast wife complaining about claustrophobia.  I actually floated the idea of leaving, and was mulling how we would extract ourselves when we were literally saved by a man with a golden axe. 

The band came out, got about a minute into the intro, and quickly brought out the legend.  Buddy immediately had the crowd eating out of his hand - he epitomizes stage presence and showmanship, and his guitar work and strong vocals belied his 75 years. 

I've seen lots of great guitar players live.  I would argue that Guy's performance last night was among the best.  Playing clean, then dirty.  Loud, then barely audible.  Playing with the guitar on his shoulder.  And always with a effervescent grin on his face; often calling "wait a minute," to the crowd as he shifted into something new.  He was brilliant. 

Highlights of the evening included a hilarious audience participation on Hoochie Coochie Man, a sweet and touching version of Skin Deep,  and leading vocals on Feels Like Rain while he turned over guitar work to his son Greg and to guitar prodigy Quinn Sullivan. 

Sullivan played three songs in the middle of the set, and was incredible to see.  While he's been working with Guy for a while, it is still amazing to see a 13 year old playing guitar like he did.  His interplay with Guy was spot on, and as he stood there, his body language looked scarily like Eric Clapton's.  It was weird to see. 

A nice highlight of Quinn's set was Guy quieting down the band as Quinn was coming out of a raging solo, and it appeared to be a change-up to see how the kid would handle it.  Sullivan appeared a bit confused for a second and looked back to the band, where Guy was grinning a nodding subtly as if to say, "Son, you don't always need to play loud to play well."  For a player like Guy, a genius of moving between loud and soft, it was a lesson in the middle of the concert from the master to the student.  That, in and of itself, made the whole night for me. 

Buddy Guy is a rare gem.  He started off backing for giants like Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf, and Sonny Boy Williamson.  He directly influenced players like Jimi Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Jimmy Page.  And now he's bringing along a player like Quinn Sullivan.  He's a bridge that links some of the blues finest days to today.  And the way he played last night, it was obvious that the bridge is made of solid stone, with foundations that run deep. 

What a fantastic night.