Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Union Thugs at Messmer Catholic School

Last Friday, Governor Scott Walker attended the Messmer Catholic School in inner-city Milwaukee to read to students.  Union thugs, not wanting to miss an opportunity to voice their displeasure with not only the Governor, but also with a Choice School, attended to disrupt proceedings.  The following video captured the event: 

So why are citizens so outraged?  Is it perhaps the 85% college attendance rate by graduates?  Note, that's not a typo - not 85% passing standardized tests, or 85% merely graduating, but 85% going to college!  In the video Brother Bob boasts that he'll put his kids up against any school in the state, and with numbers like that, he's going to win.  Hence, for the unions that means it is time to break out the "HEY HEY, HO HO" chant one more time. 

A couple of other things to note: 
  • Check out the fat mom calling Br. Bob a scumbag at the :30 mark, and the thug that aggressively bumps into Br. Bob at the 1:06 mark.  Easy to see where the term "union thug" comes from... 
  • This protest occurred on Friday.  The kids are at school.  The Governor is working.  Br. Bob is working.  And these thugs have nothing better to do than come to interfere with what is arguably the most successful school in Wisconsin.  Pathetic, pathetic losers.  
  •  In the whole video, the best behaved of those featured were the children.  Says a lot, doesn't it?  
  • I wonder if this was a Muslim school instead of a Catholic school that it would have attracted this type of protest (or any kind of protest at all). 
I knew Wisconsin had a liberal bias, especially in Madison, prior to our moving out here.  I had no idea how bad it is, and this kind of behavior by the left is embarrassing and pathetic.  This is simple union intimidation and thug behavior; committed in front of innocent children for Pete's sake.   
Sad, piggish behavior.  
 In fact, I got so upset that I sent Messmer a check - along with a matching gift from my employer.  I encourage you to visit their site to learn about the good work that they're doing, or just fast forward to making a donation yourself.  I'm not sure you'd find a better cause.   
Ironic, isn't it, that after all of the chanting and bully tactics, the net result is that more funds flow into Messmer?   
Thanks, unions.  Keep up the good work, and by all means, stay classy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fr. Don Talafous Strikes Again

I have been really enjoying going to mass more and more, and find my time there to be of great comfort.  I've been trying to put my finger on what exactly is driving this - was it the music, the homily, the Packers gear people wore?  I could never come up with it.

Then Father Don came up with this post, and brought it all home to me:

The well-done celebration of Sunday Mass can be, even in some rather incidental ways, a reminder about otherwise neglected aspects of ordinary human life. The effort and dignity the woman puts into proclaiming the first reading; the beauty and richness of the baritone voice leading the singing; the time spent in greeting others and wishing them peace; the reverences made to the book of the Scriptures and to the altar; the individual attention in the distribution of communion -- all these speak of the value and dignity of human beings, of human life, of all the visible as well as invisible elements of human life. One is reminded for an hour or so at least that the earth and our fellow human beings are valuable in themselves apart from the opportunities for gain, for advancement, apart from what they can do for us. One comes away from such a service refreshed and renewed, one's youthful excitement and delight in creation restored. The general and easily banal affirmation of God's love for the earth and humankind becomes in this setting something genuine and specific, referring to each human being there. Besides affirming the place of God in our lives, worship can celebrate the goodness and worth of every element and person in God's creation. At the center of it all is our remembering that "God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten son into the world to save it" (1 John: 4:9-10).

Thanks Fr. Don.  Again.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Career Advice

My first job outside of college was working for Ford Motor Credit.  My best friend got me a job there, and it was a really big deal at the time.  Unemployment was through the roof, I needed to start my career, and just about any full time gig would have been welcomed.  I was offered a whopping $16,800 for my starting salary, and I jumped all over it.  

I started out an assistant customer service representative, which really meant that I was a bill collector.  I spent my days calling delinquent accounts, and my nights repossessing cars for overtime pay.  I learned a ton about business, personal and business credit, had way more fun at work than I should have, and was quickly promoted.  I ultimately interviewed in Detroit for a position that would groom me for a branch management leadership position, and was accepted into an exclusive, two-year training program where I literally performed every job within a branch office.  Ford was also paying for my masters degree as well, so between my work during the day and school all night and weekends, I was learning an incredible amount.  

About a year into the training, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I was knocking it out at work, and school was going great.  Prospects for my future were looking really good.  That was all until my assistant branch manager called me into his office.   

Larry was from West Virginia originally, and had come up the ranks "repoing deadbeat rednecks throughout the hills."  His still spoke with a very distinct southern drawl.  We had a good relationship, and I had learned a lot from him.  However, when I sat down across from his desk, I knew this wasn't going to be the usual conversation.  "Boy, where's that such and such of a project that I asked you to complete?" Indeed, Larry had given me a task, and it fell off my radar screen.  I confessed what had happened.  "That's what I thought," he said.  "You do a good job here, and you're on a good path, but boy, your follow up skills are horsebleep.  Absolute horsebleep.  And it is going to kill your career.  You need to figure it out, and figure it out right now."   

Up to this point, I'd always heard nothing but glowing reviews, and I took this pointed feedback like a punch to the gut.  I stammered an apology and left his office, but I immediately began mulling on his feedback.  He was, of course, absolutely right.  

I immediately began employing techniques to make improvements on my follow up and organization, and evolved as my career and technology progressed.  I still work on it to this day.  For example, I still use a Franklin Planner, and while it looks damned antiquated, it provides me an organizational method where very little ever falls through the cracks.   

I've often thought back to that day in Larry's office, and while the conversation was tough, it helped me in my career possibly more than any other piece of advice I received.  And since that time, I've actively sought out the feedback of others to see how I'm doing and what I can do better.  Those that have provided me with candid feedback have been treasured, as they've helped to push me to constantly up my game and be better.   

We all have ways in which we can improve, and when we stop doing them, we kind of start giving our employers reasons for not needing us anymore.  While these improvements certainly can come in the form of expanded training or industry learning, I'm convinced it should also come from our coworkers - peers, managers, and direct reports.  While sometimes the feedback will sting, the benefits can far outweigh the pain.   

So if you're still out there, thanks Larry.  You molded me far more than you could have thought.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Obama "Takes Charge" at Hurricane Command Center

We can all breathe a lot easier as the president has left his vacation to "take charge" of the FEMA "hurricane command center." 

In the mean time, the country is mired in an economic hurricane of a Cat 5 variety, with unemployment over 9%, 40 million citizens on food stamps, and millions more suffering greatly.  And it has been that way for nearly the entire tenure of his administration. 

We've been waiting for him to "take charge" of that for a long time.  Unfortunately, we need to wait until vacation is over for that to happen, and what, now with the natural disaster of a hurricane, it might take even longer... 

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Six, "Two Years Old:

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

By her second birthday (April 15, Tax Day, who could forget?), Blitz was developing into a fine hunting dog.  Tune up work with the trainer went very well, and exercises with me in the back yard and basement were going equally as good.  Her penchant for a random "jailbreak," tussle with the cat, and sneaking of food kept things interesting, and things were never dull around our household.   

Also, during this period, Blitz discovered chipmunks.  And a dislike of chipmunks along the lines of her dislike of rabbits.  I'm not sure what exactly triggered this dislike; perhaps it was their distinct similarity to Beany Babies, or maybe it was their attitude.  In nature, chipmunks are kind of the that undersized kid with the big mouth we all remember from junior high school - writing checks with this mouth that his body couldn't cash.  Chipmunks, when faced with danger, can be quite content to "bark" to their foes from a perceived safe distance, and depending on the level of their agitation, this sounding off can be quite annoying.   

So perhaps it was this attitude that made Blitz psycho for chipmunks, and they appeared to hate her with the same amount of vitriol.  In fact, one early spring day, Blitz had forced one underneath our air conditioning unit in the back yard, and the amount of barking by both animals made one think that next world war had started.  And to them, it kind of had.   

Blitz circled and circled the unit, even at time jumping over it in attempt to get at the offending creature.  In the mean time, the chipmunk was voicing his displeasure as well as agitating his nemesis with the best method he could.  While I tried to call Blitz off multiple times, she was in a berserker rage, and was unable to hear commands, let alone obey them.  I finally had to go into the house to get a lead to ultimately pull her away from the fight scene.  And for the rest of our time at that house, she'd always eyeball that air conditioner unit with distain.    

In looking back, beyond the chipmunk battles, that spring and summer were spent really just biding our time in anticipation of the fall hunting season.  And this season was to be one of continued firsts, with Blitz experiencing her first Canada goose hunt, and her first grouse hunt.   

The explosion of the Canada goose population has been a conservation success story - or a nightmare, depending on how much golf you play.  When I first started hunting as a kid in the 1970's, it was rare to see a Canada goose, let alone get a shot at one.  They were almost a kind of mythic creature, and boys at school that happened to bag one over the weekend were afforded reverential master hunter status.  They were so rare, in fact, that even a simple National Geographic show on them was enough to get the telephone lines burning up with my buddies so that we wouldn't miss a chance to learn more about this incredible bird.   

Fast forward to the 1990's and the whole world had changed.  The population of the Canada goose had absolutely exploded, and add their populations encroached, and ultimately thrived in urban environments.  The result of this population boom was that the goose was quickly becoming a nuisance.  They are prolific poopers as any beach bum or duffer can attest, and they're credited with causing two horrific plane crashes - a USAF E-3 which killed all aboard, and of course Captain Sullenberger's Miracle on the Hudson.  Hence, may states and municipalities began seasons outside of the normal waterfowl hunting framework in order to help better control the burgeoning population of the Canada goose.   

The lake in which we hunt is prime waterfowl habitat, and every season we would raise multiple families of geese.  So when early season goose hunting was announced, my partners, buddies and I knew we would have a good shot at bagging some of these large birds.   

While Blitz had shown her capabilities for water retrieves on ducks the year prior, geese posed a whole other challenge.  The average duck weighed a couple of pounds, the average goose weighed something on the order of twelve pounds.  And for a 55 pound, two year old dog, this was not an insignificant amount.  But my buddy Don and I decided to head out that early goose opener and take Blitz with us with the hopes that she'd be able to handle the big birds and figure things out on her own.   

We departed from the dock about an hour from sunrise on a clear, still, moonless early morning, and twinges of pink were just starting to be visible in the east.  As accustomed to how she performed the year prior, Blitz was actively moving around the boat during the short ride to the hunting area - sniffing the air, visiting Don, visiting me, leaning over the boat to lap at the water, then repeating the whole cycle.  We ultimately arrived at our hunting location: a stand of thick cattails that we had dubbed "goose island" due to the proclivity of geese to hang around it.  We set our decoys into three pods of "family groups" of  six to eight birds, left two prime areas for landing, and hauled our boat into the cover of the cattails.   

The morning was beautiful, and as legal shooting hours approached we noted a large group of geese that got off the upper end of the lake to head out for breakfast.  Goose hunting on our lake was typically very slow in the early morning as geese tended to leave for their morning meal through a safe passage.  Our odds got much better as the geese, full of grain, retuned from breakfast looking for drinking water and a place to lounge through the heat of the day.  This day was no different, and despite a lot of shooting in the fields around us, we didn't see any geese looking to return to the lake until after ten o'clock.  But return they did, in singles, pairs, and groups.   

While Don and I were fairly accomplished callers, we had difficulty calling any birds into gun range.  Fortunately, we stuck with it, and a group of six birds came into the look and made a bee line toward our decoy set.  We hunkered down and mimicked their calling cadence, and felt like we were finally going to get an opportunity.  Keeping my head down and relying on the calling of the geese to judge their location and distance, my heart rate increased thinking that we were finally going to get a shot and Blitz might finally get her first goose retrieve.   

Sneaking a peek, I noticed that the geese that were once lined up on our spot had begun drifting off to our east, and what was looking like a great opportunity was now going to be a tough shot.  When the geese reached their closest proximity to us, I yelled "Take 'em!" to Don, who was still keeping his head down to prevent the geese from seeing his glasses.  Given the approach of the geese, Don had the only shot, and I stood with him to see how he did.  Don got a lead on the closest bird, squeezed the trigger, and folded the big bird in a clean kill in his first shot.   

Because we were in such high cattails, Blitz did not see the bird fall, but must have known that something good had happened as she bolted out the dog door before the goose had splashed into the water.  Blitz appropriately used the direction of Don's shot to head for the bird, and soon saw him a good 40 yards out.  Don and I both looked at each other, wondering how all of this would go.  She soon arrived at the bird, but realized that something was definitely different, and began to circle it as if to say "how am I going to fit all of THAT into my mouth?"  However, I gave her the command to fetch, and Blitz immediately went at the bird, gripped it as best she could, and headed back to the boat.    

The wake she made in the still water with the large goose was quite a wave, and she huffed strongly through her nose back to us.  I lowered the blind, grabbed her collar, and hauled her in while her grip was still firmly on the goose.  I was surprised by her weight as I was remembering how easy she was to lift back into the boat in the season prior.  But then I remembered that with her first goose, she was also sporting about a twenty percent increase in her weight.   

She dropped the bird at my command, and Don, Blitz and I celebrated the first of many goose retreives that she would make for me.        

Thursday, August 25, 2011

RIP, Jon Tumilson

I think, sir, that your dog speaks for all of us. 

May God indeed hold you in the palm of His hand

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm About to Drop Facebook

I'm just about to drop Facebook.  I simply can't handle it anymore.  The content found there is so horribly superficial, and the true nature of the "connection" I have with my "friends" is on an ever more embarrassing display. 

But beyond that, and far more annoying, is that I've been hiding posts from multiple friends because I can't stand their political commentary anymore (and I have a couple on the bubble).  I really thought that with the unequivocal failure of the Obama administration that the whole political endorsement deal would die down, but instead I'm now getting posts on why Warren Buffett is brilliant and Michelle Bachman is bat-excrement crazy. 

Unfortunately, many of these people were the same people that told me Obama would usher in a new breed of president and would save our country.  He did usher in a new breed - to the tune of record debts and deficits- but he's hardly saved our country.  To the contrary, we're now at the economic brink of collapse.  So as far as political prognostication goes, some of my friends are batting worse than Drew Butera (.161!  Really!). 

Now, I know what you're thinking, that I'm hypocritical as I use this blog as my own political bully pulpit.  The difference is that folks that stop by this blog do so because they want to be here.  I didn't invite anyone here, or establish any relationship with my readers that anything and everything I post will show up in their News Feed.  If you don't like my content, you just don't come back.  Simple as that.  Whereas with Facebook, many of these "friendships" are set because of an industry relationship, school relationship, work, or other. 

To jump to the bottom line: just because we went to high school together does not mean I care in the least what you think of Rick Perry, taxes, or Warren Buffett. 

So, to my Facebook friends that may just happen to stumble across this - please get back to telling me about your kid, the line at Starbucks, your vacation, or what you're having for dinner.  While the communication will be superficial, at least I won't be blocking you for it. 

There, I feel better.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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

In this latest and final installment of artists that shouldbe in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but are not, we examine the case for Rush.   

Of all the bands that I've reviewed before, there have been reasons why the Hall may choose to keep them out.  Some might argue the validity of those reasons, but they exist.  For Rush, however, no such reasons exist.  None.  We're only left with compelling reason after compelling reason why they should be enshrined.   
For example:

Musical Body of Work - Albums 2112, Permanent Waves, and Moving Pictures are rock and roll must-haves.  Other albums that are incredibly strong include Fly by Night, Power Windows, and Test for Echo.  Singles like Tom Sawyer, Limelight, Freewill, Subdivisions, and The Spirit of the Radio entail just a subset of their library that received substantive airplay.  The list goes on and on. 

Success - Rush has earned 24 gold records - 24!  14 are platinum.  Of all rock and roll bands, Rush ranks third in number of consecutive gold or platinum albums.  The two bands they trail?  Just a couple of bands named the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  That's all...

Musicianship - All three members of Rush are considered by most musicians and music aficionados to be masters at their craft.  Neil Peart is arguably the best rock and roll drummer currently alive.  Alex Lifeson is a creative, gifted, and virtuoso guitarist.  And Geddy Lee is a masterful bass player, often playing bass with his hands, synthesizers with his feet, and singing during concerts.  In order to make the sound this trio does, they need to be impeccable musicians, and Rush clearly fits that description.  All three are incredible. 

Breadth of Work - Rush is not just one style - there are multiple forays into different musical directions.  They've never stood still, and have created new and unique music across their entire 43 year career.  

Longevity - Did I mention 43 years?  Incredible.  I could go on and on, however, it's not necessary. 

 Anyone with a modicum of musical aptitude knows to their very core that Rush deserves to be in the Hall, and should have been there on their first year of eligibility in  1998.  The fact that they're not in the Hall shows just what a flawed process the whole RRHOF is, and that they lack significant credibility.  While one may not like their music, one cannot discount anything that I've presented.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a Hall of Fame career no matter how you slice it. 

So to spite the Hall and leave this subject on a high note, I leave you with a live version of Tom Sawyer from the Snakes and Arrows tour (with a little help from Cartman and the South Park gang...):     


Monday, August 22, 2011

Warren Buffett - Financially Ignorant

Billionaire Warren Buffett made big news last week claiming that he and his rich kin needed to be taxed more thoroughly.  Unfortunately, Warren suffers from a nasty case of alligator arms that prevents him from reaching his checkbook and resolving this perceived shortfall himself.  While the IRS would gladly accept Mr. Buffett's donation, he chooses instead to lead by oration instead of by actions.

Hmm, leading by oration...where have we heard that before?

Beyond his cowardly boast, Mr. Buffett also has little knowledge of what a substantive increase of taxes on the super rich would mean for the financial prospects of the US.  Via the comes this thorough analysis that even taxing the super rich by 100% will do diddly squat to curing our financial woes:

For the fourteen trillionth time (see what I did there?), we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem.  It is as clear as can be. 

Stop.  Freaking.  Spending.

Why the hell can't a billionaire and supposed financial maven like Buffett figure it out?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review of AT&T's 3G MicroCell from Cisco

We happen to live in a part of Green Bay were AT&T cell coverage is especially bad.  It is so bad in fact that we approached AT&T to acquire a 3G Microcell for our house to enable a more consistent service.   

Our first attempt at using one of these devices was a nightmare - despite trying to connect it a multitude of ways, the device would not work.  Customer Support was of no help as they blamed trees in our back yard from blocking satellite performance.  I knew that was a crap answer - I could get satellite reception for my satellite radio just fine within the confines of my garage - so I asked my wife to take the unit back to AT&T and demand a new one. 
The representative there that helped her was actually a huge help, and confided that many of the units AT&T was sending out were in fact refurbished units.  He exchanged our model for a new one, and I was able to install it in a number of minutes.   
The result is five bars of coverage via an "M Cell," to which my iPhone can attest:

The clear calls are a welcomed change.  Overall, I'm impressed with the technology, once we got a unit that actually worked.   

Friday, August 19, 2011

Using Kids as Political Props. Again

From ABC News comes the latest example of an adult gratuitously using their child as a political prop:

It is really, really sad.  This kid has zero, and I mean zero chance of growing up to be a mentally healthy adult.

While bad, it's not nearly as bad as the all time record holder:

Don't get me wrong - this is done by some psychopaths (and I mean that in the purest definition of the word) on the right as well.  Either way, it is unhealthy, unethical, repugnant, and abominable parenting.  


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tie or No Tie? - That is the Question

I have been invited to give a presentation to my peers as part of an upcoming Internet Retailer conference in January.  It is a nice honor, and I look forward to telling the story of my team and my company.   

In preparation for building their marketing materials, the conference is looking for a brief biography on me, as well as a head shot.  My current shot was taken from my days at Fingerhut; hence it is about 8 years old.  It doesn't reflect my grey  or my wrinkles, so in the spirit of full disclosure I asked our photo studio to book a time to get me shot.   

That began my debate - tie, or no tie?  As I reportedearlier, wearing no tie is all the rage.  It is done in environments considered unthinkable a few years ago, by men in positions that would never have considered it before.  Besides being a trend, it is also supposed to offer a more youthful appearance.  This is important, as my industry is dominated by youth.  I need to look the part.  Thus, when it came time for my photo shoot, I did two versions - one with a tie and one without.  

I got my photos back last week, and try as I can, I simply can't pull off the "no tie" look.  I feel like I always come off looking like an unmade bed, and also look anything but youthful. I opted for the tie photo, and resigned myself to whatever fate would be dealing to me.  

 In the mean time, over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed something: of the people that are wearing ties, especially in semi-formal environments, most of them are young.  I'm talking high school through mid 20's.  Also, the non-tie wearers are looking damned old.  This is especially evident when the two mingle together.  

I'm not sure if this is just my whistling through the fashion graveyard, but it seems like I'm seeing this more and more.  Thus, when I give my presentation in January, I'll be sporting the suit and the tie.  I may look old, I may look young, who knows?  But at least I'll be well dressed doing it. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Replies

Per my post of a couple of days ago, I did hear from regarding use of the phrase "teabagger" on their site.  Don Effenberger, News Editor, replied:

You’re right. Comments referring to Tea Party advocates/activity as tea baggers and tea bagging are not acceptable and should be rejected.

In response to your email, I have removed several recent comments with those references that slipped through.

I will remind all of our comment moderators about this.

Thanks for your note.

While some comments have indeed been removed, a simple search of the offending term on the site still yields 26 references, some from as recently as last month. 

At least it is a start.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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

In our latest installment of bands that should be in theRock and Roll Hall of Fame but are not, we examine the case for Kiss. 

While the other bands I've covered in this series may not have been clear cases of injustice, keeping Kiss out of the Hall is absurd.  The reasons for their inclusion are myriad: 
  • Stats - Kiss has 24 gold albums, the most of any American band of all time.  They have sold over 40 million albums in the US, and their worldwide sales are over 100 million. 
  • Kiss Alive - While controversial because of re-recording and re-mixing, this album still ranks as one of the finest live albums ever recorded, and one of the best hard rock albums of all time.   
  • Music Quality - Alive, Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over, Love Gun, and Alive 2 are five consecutive albums that are all incredibly strong.  Likewise, songs like Rock and Roll All Nite, Strutter, and Black Diamond are hard rock touchstones.  
  •  Live Shows - No, they did not start the theatrics or the pyrotechnics.  But they did take both and took them light years farther than any band dreamed.  A Kiss show is a unique rock experience, and nobody comes close to doing what they do.  Not even close.  Simply put, you cannot consider yourself a rock and roll fan and have not experienced a Kiss concert.  It's a prerequisite. 
  •  Influence - With Beth, Kiss delivered the first metal ballad (which may not be something to be proud of).  Oh, I know, some consider it Dream On by Aerosmith or Love Hurts by Nazareth.  But it was Beth by Kiss that forced bands to stop the show, slow things down, and make fans break out their lighters.  Also, with Rock and Roll All Nite, Kiss forged the first arena sing-along rock song.  This model was followed by dozens of bands that came after them.  Again, this may not be a good thing, depending on your perspective, but you cannot argue their influence.   
There are a lot of reasons to hate Kiss.  They over-marketed themselves, doing stupid things like dolls 

to an incredibly horrible movie: 

They were overexposed, marketed to little kids (and anyone else for that matter), and basically destroyed their image.  Likewise, Gene Simmons has a huge ego and will literally do anything to make a buck.  For these reasons, it has been easy for music critics and fans alike to consider them repugnant jokes.  

Regardless, you cannot take away their accomplishments, their influence, or their music.  

They have been doing it now in five different decades.  They define "rock concert."  Despite all of their baggage, they absolutely deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Al's ATV

    The ex father-in-law of Fuzzy's recently passed.  While it felt like it was way too early, he lived a full life by many measures.

    Al also happened to be a friend of mine.  I had hunted his property numerous times for some amazing goose hunts and the best pheasant hunting I've ever done in the state of Minnesota. 

    Al was a person of distinct dichotomies.  He could be hilariously funny and deadly serious. Complimentary and critical.  Easy going and intense.  But one side that did not have an opposite was his love of the outdoors, and his stewardship of those resources.  He was also incredibly generous to me personally, not only in supporting my Delta Waterfowl chapter, but also in giving my dad and me one last incredible goose hunt on his property. 

    I think about him often as he was one of those personalities that you just don't forget.

    With his passing, the family is getting rid of some of the hunting gear Al had.  One such peice of equipment is pictured here.  Fuzzy and I purchased this from the family, and it has already been delivered to the farm in Glenwood.

    The vehicle will be a great addition to the hunting camp, as we'll be able to haul boats, seed, dog water, and older southern kin around the farm with ease.  We'll also be able to tour around the property in style as we scout birds, conduct work, or just have an evening ride with a cocktail in the cup holder.  It will be put to good use.

    Somehow, I'd like the think that Al would approve of where it ended up and what it will be doing.   

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Pawlenty Drops Out

    Tim Pawlenty has dropped out, and it is a shame.  He put all of his chips into a big move in Iowa and didn't get the momentum he wanted or needed. 

    I happened to have met the Governor on a couple of occasions (this photo is of a legislation signing in which I attended), and he's exactly the type of leader Washington desperately needs right now - effective, results-oriented, thoughtful, and smart.  His departure is the nation's loss, and hopefully his next step - be it cabinet, Senate run, VP, or otherwise - is a good move for him and for our country. 

    Godspeed, T-Paw. 

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Concert Review and Set List - Lyle Lovett, Appleton

    We attended the Lyle Lovett concert in Appleton last night, and it was our 5th time seeing him and the band.  The entire Large Band was in tow, including "Sweet Pea" Atkinson, "Sir" Harry Bowens, cellist John Hagen, the legendary Leland Sklar, and the incomparable Francine Reed.  There were 16 members of the band in all, and their sound was at times haunting, and other times holy, but always incredible.  Lovett has always surrounded himself with incredible talent, and those he brought with him to Appleton tonight were no different. 

    The concert was held at the Fox Cities PAC, and it was a beautiful venue.  We were lucky to have 4th row tickets, and were jazzed to see a great show.  Unfortunately, nobody told the rest of Appleton and Green Bay to show up.  Here's a photo from about 5 minutes to curtain:

    I estimate that there were less than 1,000 people there.  Little wonder that nobody tours into Green Bay or Appleton.  Hell, the Large Band accounted for damn near 2% of the folks in the building.  Pathetic. 

    Speaking of which, the first three rows were less than 10% filled.  I hope some ticket broker somewhere got screwed.  Bad.  I mean really bad.  It literally was the first time I've ever been to a concert where the front rows weren't filled, and it looked awkward.  Here's a photo:

    Now to the set list, to the best of my recollection:

    The Blues Walk
    It's Rock and Roll
    Farmer Brown - Chicken noises by background singers were outstanding
    Here I Am - Nice interplay with Sweet Pea
    Cute as a Bug
    I Will Rise Up
    My Baby Don't Tolerate
    Already Made Up Her Mind
    If I Were the Man You Wanted - Oldie that I'm surprised made the set list
    LA County
    Nobody Knows Me - OK, I cried on this one.  Given I attended with my wife for our anniversary, you can cut me some slack
    Keep it in Your Pantry - Outstanding harmonies on this and the following two songs
    I'll Come Knockin'
    Up in Indiania
    If I Had a Boat
    She's No Lady
    North Dakota - Bawled on this one too
    What Do You Do
    Wild Women - Francine knocks another one out of the park
    That's Right (You're Not from Texas)
    Church - It would seem like this song should have been tired.  It was outstanding.  The best version I've seen
    Ain't No More Cane
    Can't Resist It - Complete with the requisite cello solo 

    A couple of thoughts on the evening:
    • While the crowd was embarrassingly small, they were quite enthusiastic.  The band clearly felt it and played off it.  For those of you that did show up, good job. 
    • I was asked politely by an usher prior to the show to not take any pictures.  Hence, I don't have a lot to show.  She was nice about it, and I tried to comply as much as possible.  But come on, it is 2011 people. 
    • My wife and I stopped by the Durty Leprechaun after the concert, and after ordering, we were joined by a backup singer and the fiddle player from the band.  Both shook our hands, were incredibly nice guys, but were looking to get their schweel on prior to the bus pulling out in order to "get some sleep."  They polished off two Irish Car Bombs in record fashion and disappeared as fast as they arrived.  It was run to run into them, and I kicked myself that I didn't pick up one of those drinks.  Dummy.   
    As stated earlier, this is the 5th time we've seen Lyle and his Large Band, and I'm not sure we've seen a better concert from him.  I loved every minute, and hope he takes to heart the request from the drunk sitting stage right that asked that he come back.

    Great concert

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Trigeminal Neuralgia - Too Much Information

    After things being quiet for so long, the pain has picked up of late.  I had two bad episodes - one last week on vacation as I was getting caught up on sleep, and one yesterday that lasted nearly the entire waking day.  In trying to get caught up from vacation I'm finding again that I'm burning the candle at both ends, and it is getting triggered. 

    Yesterday, in particular, was really bad.  While major stabs were few, the constant pain was something I had not experienced for a long time.  I ended up telling my team what was going on with me as part of my update meeting as I'm sure people could tell that there was something wrong with me yesterday.  While it was a TMI moment, I felt it necessary to explain my random winces, sweats, and red left eye.

    Looking forward to catching up on some sleep this weekend and putting this monster back in its cage.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011's Posting Policy, and the Tea Party

    I sent the following email off to today:

    Here's your "posting policy": MinnPost does not permit the use of foul language, personal attacks, snideness, or gratuitous insult of the intelligence or character of fellow commenters and others, or the use of language that may be libelous or interpreted as inciting hate or sexual harassment. User comments are reviewed by moderators to ensure that comments meet these standards and adhere to MinnPost's terms of use and privacy policy.

    How does use of the phrase "Tea Bagger" fit within the confines of the above?

    In the event you plead naiveté (which would be downright insulting, so please don't go there), a simple Google search on the phrase should help you out.

    Seems like a pretty flagrant violation to me.  But then again, it is the Tea Party, and EVERYBODY hates those idiots, right? 

    Your response is appreciated.

    In the event they reply, I'll post up

    An Eagle in the Graveyard

    From Jon Tevlin of the StarTribune comes a story that will touch your heart.  As the world appears on the precipice of coming completely undone, the timing of something like this is perfect.


    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Why I'm Armed

    Things in the UK are beyond scary, and the class warfare has now moved from being a cold war into a shooting war.  The entitlement class is out to prove its point, as evidenced by this clip.

    Lord of the Flies stuff, huh?

    Think this won't happen here?  It absolutely will.  Just last week dozens of black kids here beat random white people because of a rap concertA rap concert.  What will happen when Obama loses his job, and/or the checks get shut off?  Think there won't be some hell to pay when that happens?

    When that day comes, there will be three types of people: the thugs, the victims, and the armed. 

    Which one are you going to be?

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    The Case for Youth Waterfowl Day in Minnesota

    For over a decade now, watfowl hunters in Minnesota have been debating the value of a Youth Waterfowl Day.  The day allows for kids and only kids to hunt waterfowl, and is traditionally conducted prior to the start of the regular hunting season.  The debate swirls around the day's ability to recruit new duck hunters into an ever decreasing population, and/or the day's impact on "moving birds out of the state." 

    Here are the reasons why Minnesota needs a YWD:

    • Kids today have massive distractions.  Compared to when I was a kid, we didn’t have nearly the incidence of broken homes, organized free time, latchkey existences, and youthful distractions.
    • Anyone over 30 never had an anti-gun media and educational machine polluting our minds. We didn’t have PETA influencing teachers and providing curriculum (check out We are at WAR for our next generations’ attentions.
    • According the the National Survey of Hunting conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service, nationally 17% of folks who hunted migratory birds in 1996 were aged 24 or less. By 2006, that number has shrunk to 11%. Waterfowlers are aging, and not backfilling. Those who wish for uncrowded sloughs may get their wish, at least until the PETA brainwashed generations vote hunting out of existence. Don’t believe it? Can’t happen here? Do some research on Canadian waterfowling and private gun ownership.
    • Hunting is about experience – shared experience. I would empty every 401k and account I have to have the opportunity to have to go back in time and have a YWD with my Dad, circa age 14. Who wouldn’t? Give me a break!

    I don’t have kids, but I do have nieces, nephews, Godson, neighbors, and buddies’ kids. I've taken some with me for their YWD experiences, and tried my best to spoil them rotten. I try and provide the most positive experience and memory fodder that I possibly can.  And I do so with nothing but smile.

    I smile because I have passed off one of the greatest gifts that had been given to me. I’ll smile because I know that my hunting rights and the ducks’ conservation needs will be in the hands of a voting and donating generation that will steward them. And I’ll smile because at age 65, I’ll have a whole host of willing young backs to do the heavy lifting, thus keeping me in the slough doing what I love. And at that time, God willing, we’ll still be introducing family and friends to waterfowling via Youth Waterfowl Day.

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Vacation by the Numbers

    14 hours driving both to and from the cabin on Leech Lake

    12 consecutive hours of sleep enjoyed by me the first two nights on vacation.  I think I needed some down time

    11 total people spread across two cabins, and also the same number of fishing poles hauled from Wisconsin to Minnesota

    15 bottles of wine consumed for the week

    4 pillow fights with my nieces and nephews (Uncle Mikey drives the Pain Train)

    21 estimated hours trolling without raising a fish.  Not one.

    120 estimated quarters spent at the game room

    5 average daily walks for my dog, across various walkers

    2 total walleyes caught by me all week, equaling the number of decent bike rides completed during the week (16 and 14 miles)

    3 and 4, the finishing positions for my brother and me at the big Texas Hold 'Em tournament

    $250 estimated expenditures at Swanson's Bait for the week

    $100 lost at the casino, playing perfect basic strategy Black Jack, in about 45 minutes.  Bastards...

    123 emails in my in-box, waiting for me to address them, despite working a couple of hours per day

    Infinite amount of smiles, hugs, and memories generated for the week that will carry me for a long, long time to come 

    Friday, August 5, 2011

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

    In this latest installment, we make the case for Heart for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   

    While they suffered from the same fate of many of the bands that I’ve promoted for the Hall in that they had vastly changing membership, Heart, at its core, is really about the Wilson sisters.  Ann and Nancy Wilson are the driving force of this band, and the real reason that they should be considered for the Hall in the first place.  They were truly the first women “rockers,” and paved the way for dozens of women guitarists and rockers that followed.  In a totally masculine environment, they rocked with the best of them, and produced some incredible music.   

    Beyond the obvious trailblazer contribution, there are many other reasons to consider Heart for the Hall:  
    •  Ann Wilson and that voice are just incredible.  Like Robert Plant, her distinct voice is a musical instrument that just defines rock and roll.  It can be powerful, haunting, mysterious, and driving, all on the same side of the album.  
    •  Three out of their first four albums were incredibly strong.  Dreamboat Annie and Little Queen are both classics, and the unique Dog and Butterfly (with the sides dedicated as “Dog” for a harder sound and Butterfly for a more folksy, acoustic sound) are all tremendous releases.  Magazine, their third release, was a bit of a miss, but with the others serving as bookends, that can be forgiven.   
    • Heart helped grow the Seattle music scene which dominated things in the 1990’s.  Their relationship with Alice in Chains is longstanding, and they were even featured in the motion picture of the era, Singles (albeit as their alter-ego The Lovemongers). 
    • Finally, they’re owed their due for Barracuda; one of the finest rock songs ever crafted.  Here’s an example of it from their heyday, and while it is a lipsynched version, it is still a great song.   

    So why aren’t they in the Hall?  My bet is that Ann’s weight gain has something to do with it.  The band leveraged its sex appeal in its early days, and that decreased as Ann’s weight increased.  But what a stupid reason!  Her weight never impacted her voice, and that voice is the only thing that really mattered for the band.  

     I will grant you that they put out a lot of crap in the 1980’s video era.  But while they cashed those checks, it does not take away from the amount of ground that they broke for many musicians that followed.  Rocker chicks everywhere, and their fans alike, owe a big debt of thanks to the Wilson sisters and Heart.  That debt can be repaid by electing them to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.