Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chris Christie Calls Obama Out

Finally, FINALLY, somebody calls Obama out on his abject failure to lead.  

There is no way this man deserves a second term.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Who says a man can't fly?

Monday, November 28, 2011

J Mac

A feel good story for a crazy Cyber Monday

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

My wife and I were lucky enough to host my whole family this past Thanksgiving weekend.  It was simply awesome to have everyone around us, and to have the house filled with such wonderful noise.  Here are a couple of photos from the events:

On Friday, my brother-in-law drove over our mailbox.  And our mailboxes are about 150lbs. of solid concrete.  This messed up his vehicle, but it wasn't anything that some duct tape couldn't handle.  Note that this was not unexpected, as every year something goes sideways at our gatherings.  As an old neighbor once said, we are the Griswolds.

The weather was warm and dry enough for us to get out and play a couple of holes.  While the course wasn't open, that didn't stop us, so we borrowed the neighbor's cart and off we went.  The highlight was my brother's shank into the lake.  Or, I should say, onto the lake, as it was frozen and his ball skidded all the way across to the other side.  Not sure what the ruling was on that but it had us all laughing

What would Thanksgiving be if there was not a touch football game?  I wore my Favre jersey for inspiration (and to tick off the neighbors), and scored a TD on my nephew's fumble (although I should have been flagged for excessive celebration).  Here's an action shot, capturing Deuce clearly not waiting until "three Mississippi" before starting her rush

It was a great time, and we can't wait to see everybody again at Christmas.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Anthony Hardwick Just Can't Bring Himself to Work on Friday

There's been much made in the media about the decision that some retailers have made to open at midnight on Black Friday.  In some circles, retailers are being criticized for their heartless decision to make their employees work in the middle of the night immediately after a holiday.  In fact, a Target employee named Anthony Hardwick (pictured) has launched a petition on to have Target rethink their decision, as it impacts Target employees' Thanksgivings. 

Pardon me, but what a bunch of crap.  For a lot of reasons: 
  • Businesses exist to make money.  The way they make money is to give their customers what they want.  And if the customer wants to buy at midnight on Black Friday, it is incumbent on the business to provide that service. 
  • A job at Target is a job in retail.  If you're in retail, that means you'll likely be working Thanksgiving day, Christmas Eve, and all sorts of inconvenient times.  I've been in retail about half of my working career, and I know that it requires working on holidays.  That's the career I have chosen, and those are the table stakes.  I'm not sure how this could come as a surprise to anyone in the industry. 
  • Don't want to work at midnight, Bucko?  Simple - quit.  Nobody is holding a gun to your head.  Given the 9% unemployment rate, I'm betting someone would be happy to take that job you just can't bring yourself to perform.  So cancel the call to the wahmbulence, grow a pair, and find a new job. 
  • In all of the whining about the poor retail employees, very few people ever mention those workers that will be out there at the same time, working, and not complaining.  Police, fire, heath care, convenience stores are just some of thousands (if not millions) of folks that will be on the clock while folks are queuing up outside some retail store come midnight.  And don't get me started on the military.  Those people will be thousands of miles from their loved ones, with their asses on the line, with a plate of cold turkey roll if they're lucky, and idiots like Anthony Hardwick have the gall to complain that his quaint little dinner is going to be slightly interrupted.  What a whiney, sissy little coward.  He should be ashamed of himself. 

While I'm sure target will enjoy getting the petition and the 190,000 signatures, something tells me that the millions of customers that will be shopping with them around midnight on Black Friday might somehow trump it.    

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Six, "Two Years Old: Part 4"

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

While duck hunting could prove to be dangerous due to the temperature swings and adverse conditions, the physical activity around pheasant hunting afforded the opportunity for both man and dog to get their heart rates up and body temperatures high.  During her second year, Blitz and I hunted birds at our farm every weekend, and even some week days where we could muster an appropriate excuse to do so.  One such opportunity came via an invite from a vendor of mine that was looking to hold a "meeting" out at one of the local game farms. 

Now there are some that turn up their nose at game farms as they don't pass their test of what "pure" hunting is, and opinions in the hunting community run the gamut of "no issues at all." to "I'd never do it."  I've found that when the birds are raised properly, which means their pens afford full flight development for the birds and their food supply is ample for their energy needs, that game farm hunting can be quite sporty.  I've had too many birds escape on me not be as humbled in those confines as I am in the wild.  And while I wouldn't attend game farms by myself just for my personal hunting, when one adds a dog and the irreplaceable experience that comes from live bird work, there is no better place to train a dog.  Just like any endeavor, the more experience one has, the more proficient one becomes, and that is clearly the case with gun dogs and game farms. 

Prior to our meeting, my vendor Doug inquired about Blitz and how she'd been performing.  "Pretty good," I explained.  "She's just over two, so she doesn't have a ton of experience, but she hunts close and has a good nose"  Doug explained that should be just fine, as his six-year-old dog should be able to pick up any birds that Blitz missed to do her youth, inexperience and exuberance.   

We met at the field at our appointed hour, and I could tell by the thumping coming from the dog crate in the back of the truck that Blitz was ready to go.  Doug and his dog met us at my lift gate, where I was loading up.  "You loaded yet, Doug?"  I asked.  "No, you think I should?" he replied.  "Judging by how this crate is shaking, I think that might be a good idea," I explained.  I slung my shotgun over my shoulder and positioned my body directly in front of the crate door.  Opening it slightly, Blitz pushed against it and exploded forward about a foot to where she bumped into my chest.  I leveraged her half-in, half out position to quickly put her training collar around her neck, and once affixed, stood aside.  Blitz shot from the truck like she was jumping out of a burning building, and immediately headed for the pheasant cover about twenty yards away.  "OK, I guess we're hunting..." Doug said astutely. 

Blitz dashed about ahead of us; nose down and tail wagging.  Almost immediately she went on point, and I moved up to flush a hidden chuckar partridge.  The bird flushed, I snapped a quick shot, and dropped the bird cleanly with Blitz in hard pursuit of the fallen partridge.  "That didn't take long," said Doug.  Taking the bird from the dog's mouth, I replied "Yeah, she kind of works fast," and before I could finish my statement, Blitz had already moved out in front of us to find the next bird. 

We hunted the field strategically, and made sure that we were covering all of our appointed ground.  Doug's chocolate lab hunted at a slow and deliberate pace, whereas Blitz was flying about like some blond berserker.  We made our way to the end of the field, picking up birds all along the way, then turned around to head back to the truck to drop off our birds, water down the dogs, and develop a new plan of attack.  We arrived at the back of my truck and stared to unload, and judging by the quantity birds I pulled from my game bag in my vest, it was obvious that Blitz had done an incredible job.  "Here's the two my dog and I got," Doug exclaimed as he threw his quarry on our sizable pile.  "I'm glad we were here to back Blitz up!  In all seriousness, she's an incredible dog.  She's maybe the best I've ever hunted behind."  Given all of the hunting Doug had done, that was a hell of a compliment, and I was delighted that such a knowledgeable outdoorsman would bestow it to her. 

During that season, Blitz and I also got enlisted to do some "professional" hunting as well.  A good friend of mine had developed a guided hunting business, and had developed much of his 700+ acres for deer and pheasant habitat.  It just so happened that his property was less than ten miles from my farm, and while I had heard stories of the pheasants it held, I had not yet been invited to hunt there.  So when my buddy Don called and exclaimed that his guide dogs had been burned out the day prior with some clients and needed to rest, and that he needed some fresh dog power, I was more than happy to volunteer Blitz's services. 

Blitz and I arrived at Don's farm, and it was as described.  The cover and habitat was some of the finest in the county, and while the hunting would be tough due to the thickness of the cover, I was giddy knowing what awaited us.  Simply put, cover that good had to hold tons of birds, and I couldn't wait to get Blitz in there and after them.  After quick introductions with Don and his two clients, we headed out. 

We made our way into a overgrown thicket that bordered a small creek, and pushed through it with desires of reaching switch grass field that lay beyond.  The cover in the thicket was substantial, and I was plowing through it to the best of my ability.  Due to the thickness of the growth, I quickly lost sight of Blitz and the others in my hunting party, but heard some of their exclamations (profane or otherwise) as they were exiting the heavy brush on the other side.  I finally got to a point where I could see the field ahead of me and a couple of guys in our party.  At this point, Don yelled "Hey, Mikey, there's something wrong with your dog! She's not moving!"  Panicked, I increased my pace to get out of the cover and looked around for Blitz.  I soon spied her, statue-still, tail high, and intently looking at a clump of grass in front of her.  "She's fine, Don.  She's pointing," I explained. 

"Pointing?" he asked. 
"Yeah, she's pointing." 
"Your dog points?"
"Yeah, she's doing it right now!" 
"What do I do?"  
"Uh, get ready!" I exclaimed, and gave Blitz the command of "GET HIM!"  Blitz moved forward and immediately a beautiful rooster burst from the cover and into the sky, where he was met by the shot of one of the clients.  As Blitz brought the bird back, everyone exclaimed that they had never hunted with a lab that pointed, and they couldn't believe what they just saw.  "Judging by the cover around here, hopefully you'll get to see more of it soon," I stated. 

My prognosis was going to prove absolutely correct.   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top 10 Reasons Why Sammy Hagar was Better than David Lee Roth

For fans of Van Halen, the debate has raged: Who was the better front man, David Lee Roth, or Sammy Hagar? 

While I am a fan of both versions of the band, I feel that David Lee Roth couldn't carry Sammy Hagar's jock strap. 

Here are the top ten reasons why Sammy is better than Dave:

  • Singing Ability - Dave can't sing.  Sorry, he can't.  He can shout and screech, but he cannot sing.  As a front man Dave is flamboyant.  As a singer, he's horrible. Conversely, Sammy can sing, and can sing well. 
  • Vocal Range - Sammy has great range, and is able to excel on songs that Roth would have no chance on recording.  Examples include Standing on Top of the World, Poundcake, Feeling, and Sucker in a Three Piece are just some simple examples
  • Attitude - Dave is all about Dave.  Just one look at any Van Halen or Roth video will be all you need to know about Dave.  Even his stage persona is all about Dave.  At my only Roth era VH concert (Diver Down tour, I believe), Dave stopped the band mid-song, points down into the crowd and says "Hey, this &*%^% just dumped his beer on me, man!"  To which the crowd boos vociferously.  "That's OK, that's OK," he continues, "because after the concert I'm gonna $%$# his girlfriend."  To which the crowd erupts.  Good line, huh?  It better be, because he used it at every concert stop that tour. 
  • Videos - Simple.  Roth era videos are all about Dave.  Just check out Jump, or Hot for Teacher, or Panama and see for yourself.  Hagar era videos are about the band, the music, or something bigger.  Here are two great examples:

  • Guitar - Another simple one.  Sammy plays, which affords opportunities for Eddie to expand, either via guitar or keyboards. All Dave plays is a ego-centric tool in music videos.
  • Treatment of Fans - Sammy was dead set against a greatest hits album with "new material" as he felt it was just another way to soak fans.  Dave, not so much.  When Eddie broke a guitar on stage and showered fans with debris, Sammy was outraged.  It became the last straw with the alcoholic Eddie.  I doubt Dave would have cared that much, unless it would have caused someone in the front row to spill a beer on him...
  • Pre-Van Halen Work - Prior to joining Van Halen, Sammy had two albums with Montrose, 8 solo albums (including two platinum and a gold), and an album with HSAS under his belt.  Dave launched with Van Halen, so this isn't really fair.  Understood. But consider...
  • Post-Van Halen Work - Sammy has continued to excel, with two solo albums, 5 with the Waboritas, and two outstanding albums with Chickenfoot.  Dave had 5 solo albums that have sold less and less with each subsequent release.  Self-indulgent but commercially successful efforts included "Eat 'em and Smile" and "Skyscraper."  Pretty much after that Dave was left to playing a burlesque show Vegas and moonlighting as an EMT.
  • Class - At the induction of Van Halen in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, only Sammy and Michael Anthony showed up.  Eddie was a raging alcoholic, Alex deferred due to Eddie's condition, and Dave didn't show because his performance had been cancelled.  That left Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar for the induction speech, and both gave proper credit to Dave for VH's early years and success.  Now, in your mind's eye, imagine if tables had been turned and only Dave gave the speech.  I doubt he would have been so generous.
  • Handling of Michael Anthony - VH's sound is hallmarked by two things - Eddie's incredible guitar work and Michael Anthony's incredible high harmonies.  In their post-Van Halen periods, Dave, obviously feeling Michael was replaceable, seemed content to settle for Eddie's kid Wolfgang on bass.  Sammy, on the other hand, knew the value that Anthony brought to the sound, and worked with him on a couple of side projects, including the current one with Chickenfoot.
Please don't get me wrong - I am a fan of the Roth vintage of Van Halen.  Any music fan would have to be one.  However, I really tire of folks not giving Sammy his due.  The Hagar vintage of VH was a better one, and one that continues to age well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Republic Chophouse Review - Go There When the Green Bay Packers Don't

After a really long week, my wife and I went to Republic Chophouse for an early Friday dinner to relax, reconnect, and talk about the week past.  We really enjoy Republic and feel it is clearly Green Bay's nicest steak restaurant.

Since it was the Friday night of the deer opener weekend and nearly half of the population was headed for the woods, we felt we should be able to get in without any kind of reservation.  Judging by the open parking lot we spied upon our arrival, we liked our chances.

We were greeted by the cheerful maitre d, who informed us there would be about an hour wait for a table.  Peering beyond him into the dining room, we noticed empty table after empty table.  None of them were filled. 

Figuring there must be a big party coming in that just had not arrived yet, we accepted the offer to sit at a table in the bar, which was comfortable, but loud.  The bar location also afforded a great view of the front door, and as our evening progressed, the large party we envisioned never materialized.  We talked about it through dinner, and wondered what the heck was going on.

About an hour after our arrival, I noticed Packers linebacker (and our neighbor five doors down) A.J. Hawk and his family head toward the front door from the dining room. 

Really?  Nobody could sit in an ample dining room because a Packer and his family were eating there?  While we had an OK dinner, did we really have to sit in the bar because of that?

Evidently, in Green Bay, where the team is royalty, the answer is yes.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thoughts on Penn State

I've not commented on the Jerry Sandusky sexual predator situation yet. Time to weigh in: 
  • I just got through reading the Penn State Grand Jury report. While much of this has been covered by the media, to read it in the formal document, in all of its graphic detail, was infuriating, heart-breaking, and stomach turning. It was just disturbing.  
  • In situations like this, where innocent kids have suffered unspeakable physical and mental trauma, I have a hard time reconciling my faith. While we're asked to forgive, I can't help but desire the justice and vengeance of a brutal prison experience, followed by an eternity in Hell. And I'm not even a victim. 
  • The wreckage that Sandusky wrought will impact Penn State for decades. Personally, every Saturday I want to see them lose, and lose big. That's not fair for the kids there, or the players that played there, and I'm sorry about that. But that school and athletic faculty had the ability to step in and save some kids, and they chose instead to turn a blind eye and let the carnage continue. For that, Nittany Lions, you deserve every pummeling that will be dealt to you. 
  • Speaking of the impact on former players, at the bottom of the page is LaVare Arrington talking about the situation.

How does one make sense out of any of this? The damage - the suffering? I guess all we can do is pray for the victims, the school, and as much as I don't want to, Sandusky.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Six, "Two Years Old: Part 3"

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

While her second year provided new experiences, Blitz was also coming into her own as a gun dog.  Starting with the waterfowl season, Blitz was becoming more a more valuable as a retriever.  Certainly, she was still a handful in the boat, and her canine ADD made for less than dull moments, but her marking of fallen birds, insatiable desire to retrieve, and overall passion for the sport were all increasing at a substantive rate.  That season there were a number of birds that my partners and I knocked down that would not have been harvested had Blitz not been conducting her work so expertly. 

She quickly learned the routine of our duck hunting, but her enthusiasm and my lack of patience, foresight, and care would put her at risk.  An early November morning found my partner Don and I up at 5:00 AM getting ready to head out, and Blitz, now attune to the routine, was bounding around like a kid on Christmas morning.  She knew we were going hunting, and she wanted to go right now!  With all of that youthful energy, she proved to be too elusive that morning to put on her hunting vest, and due to too many cocktails the night before, I was in no mood for one of our renown wrestling matches.  Judging by the temperature and her increasing coat, I felt she'd be fine, so we would forgo the vest. 

We piled into the truck and drove the short distance to the landing where we found that the misty weather we had was mixing with the warmer temperature of the lake and was generating a thick soup of fog.  We knew the lake well and had a short distance to go, so we weren't worried about the weather. 

We shoved off from shore and headed north to the cover we intended to hunt.  The ride was slower than usual due to the thickness of the fog, but we arrived at our destination with plenty of time to get our decoys set and to settle in prior to the legal shooting hour.  We created a nice spread with two landing areas: a "J" shape made out of our bluebill decoys and a "U" shape of mallards, and killed the motor to tuck into the cover to await the arrival of ducks.  During our decoy placement, with the noise of the motor and the thick fog, we were unable to know that another hunting partner appeared to be setting up fairly close to us, but now in the quiet of the morning, we could hear his boat working as he was laying out his decoys.  "He sounds really close," exclaimed Don, and I agreed.  However, we both recognized that sound carried really well in foggy conditions, and we were hoping that the actual proximity of the other hunter was just a sonic exaggeration. 

The short wait to legal shooting went by quickly, and while we could hear birds in our proximity, the fog prevented us from seeing them.  Soon enough a nice drake widgeon appeared from the soupy air, and Don folded it cleanly with a sporty crossing shot.  Blitz had bolted from the boat immediately on the report of Don's gun, but was able to discern the location of the fallen bird in the fog, and soon came back to the blind with our first bird of the morning.  Things were starting well, we exclaimed, as we prepared for more action. 

About this point the weather pattern had shifted dramatically.  Our calm, quiet, comfortable morning was suddenly and abruptly replaced by a strong northwest wind that brought a reduction in temperature and a chill to our bones.  The wind was also wreaking havoc with the fog which was being blown away little by little.  Soon, we were able to see to the outskirts of our decoy spread, and then slightly beyond, where we were enthused to see a flock of ducks sitting in the water.  As the fog continued to move off, our mood soured as the flock we were seeing were actually the decoys of the other hunter on the lake which were set in a location downwind of us that would effectively block any ducks from flying into our decoys. 

Don and I debated our predicament for a while, and finally came to the conclusion that this configuration was not going to work, and we needed to pick up our decoy spread and move to a new location.  We lowered the blind on the boat and prepared to make our move just as a cold rain started to fall.  Our fortunes had clearly changed quite drastically after starting out on such a good note.  We worked quickly in picking up the decoys, which was good as the rain had started coming down harder and harder.  Without the shelter of the blind we were taking the brunt of it, and while Don and I were staying dry due to our clothes, Blitz was getting soaked.  She was shaking her coat frequently to try and stay as dry as possible, but it was obviously a losing battle given the conditions. 

We quickly found a new location, put out a new spread, and got situated in fairly short order.  Pulling the blind up over us was welcomed, as the rain had turned into a sleet.  Passing a thermos of coffee back and forth, we tried to keep warm while waiting for our next chance at ducks.  Birds were flying, and we knew it was just a matter of time before they noticed our decoys and came into range for a look. 

About this time I noticed that Blitz had become lethargic.  My dog, in her short life, had been a lot of things, and lethargic was never, ever one of them.  She was also shaking uncontrollably, which clearly got my attention.  Although they were bred for being wet in cold weather, I was aware that hunting dogs do suffer from hypothermia in the right conditions.  In the wind, falling temperatures, and  soaked coat, it appeared Blitz might be headed there.  The best way to truly judge would be to get some kind of gauge on her body temperature.  Without a thermometer, this would have to be accomplished by feel of one of two locations on the dog, and there was no question which one I'd been choosing.  I removed my glove and moved my hand into the mouth of my shivering dog. 

What I felt there was cold and clammy. 

Blitz was in trouble, and I needed to get her warm, and to do so immediately.  "Don, we are out of here!" I exclaimed. 

Some guys might have had a problem with that.  We had come so far to hunt, we had worked so hard to get a good decoy set out, and birds were definitely in the area.  With all that invested, some might have pushed back.  Instead, Don responded with a quick "Yep!" as he flung the blind off of us in preparation for our departure. 

I stared the motor and immediately sped off for the landing, ignoring the decoys that we had previously set.  While motoring in, I was thinking of the best way possible to get Blitz warmed, and felt I had derived a good plan by the time we hit shore.  I kenneled Blitz in the back of the vehicle, cranked up the heat, and drove us back to the farm house.  Leaving the dog in the truck, I went into the house to fetch towels to dry the dog and to offer warm bedding in her plastic crate.  I rubbed her dry as best I could, and left her in the still-running vehicle, which by now was heating quite nicely.  Don and I went inside for some more coffee, and I would go out and check on Blitz every fifteen minutes or so to see how she was doing.  The truck was turning into a veritable sauna, and within an hour and a half or so I was eventually greeted by a dog that was back to her old self.   I let her out and headed back into the farm house, grateful for her condition and for having an understanding hunting partner.  Things certainly could have gone differently that morning, and I promised myself to never let situation like that happen again.         

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gagliardi to Return to SJU for His 60th Season

When I reported about John a couple of weeks ago, there was concern about his losing his streak of 43 consecutive winning seasons.  St. John's was a game below .500 at the time, with two to go (one being against #24 ranked St. Olaf).

Worry no more.  The Johnnies ran the table, and Gag's consecutive winning seasons now goes to an amazing 44.

Given the way they finished, John is coming back to coach for his 60th season at SJU. 

College football's winningest coach of all time really didn't have any plans to do anything else.  He told the St. Cloud Times:

"I don't know anything else," said Gagliardi, 85. "What else should I be doing? Am I going to take a trip to Italy or go climbing the Himalayas? I don't want to do any of those things. There are days I don't even like going into St. Cloud."

Thanks for sticking around, John.  And good luck running that consecutive winning seasons streak to 45.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Vikings' Fan at Lambeau

My wife and I were able to parlay our Brown County lottery tickets for the Packers against the Bears on Christmas day into some good tickets to the Monday Night game against the Vikings.  As you can see by the photo, we had some pretty good seats.

The day started out at work, with a typical gameday work requirement of wearing of NFL gear.  I was the only one clad in anything purple, and I took heat for it the entire day.  I gave as well as I got, but surely paid for it the next day over game recaps.  Oh, well, maybe next year.

We started out our game experience by conducting our first tailgate, which was done in yard of some dude that lived a couple of blocks away from Lambeau.  He basically parked vehicles all over the place, cramming them in as best he could, all at $20 a pop.  In exchange you got good proximity to the field, an easy exit, room for tailgating, as well as a dedicated port-a-potty.  A bargain at twice the price.

The night was chilly but not uncomfortable.  We had some great beef barley soup from Camp Traditions to warm us on the inside, and some bratwurst because we're in Wisconsin.  This was completed on the new $29 grill that I bought at Gander Mountain the day before, which performed, well, like a $29 grill.

We entered the stadium, and I was surprised to see so much purple.  I estimated that a good 3-5% of the crowd were Vikings fans, and it was nice to have some brothers in arms nearby.

As we moved to our seats, it became quickly apparent that we'd be sitting in front of the five drunkest guys in Lambeau.  And when you're the drunkest guy in Lambeau, that's really saying a lot.  It started off with one guy getting inches from my face and screaming "VIKINGS FAN, GO HOME!" to which I answered, "You mean to my house?  In Hobart?  Just up the road?"  He didn't see that one coming, and he kind of just stared at me in a drunken confusion. 

The drunk, shirtless guys were really loud, but not necessary harmful.  Regardless, even before the national anthem, the cops paid them a visit and hauled them out for a little "talk."  They returned about 10 minutes later, minus one guy.  After this point they tried to behave, but the booze in their blood and the rout on the field conspired to get their mouths going, and soon the cops were back.  The cops came one more time as well, but our buddies managed to plead a pretty strong case and were able to stay .  By the end of the game they were actually pretty funny, but the start was definitely touchy.

Overall, people were great.  I think it helped that the Vikings got killed; people were actually feeling sorry for us.  Overall, I was treated much, much worse at Miller park at when we attended the Brewers game.

While this was our third Packers game, it was the first that we weren't in a suite, and we were clearly missing a lot sitting up there.  The crowd in the bowl is fun, knowledgeable about their football, and well lubricated. 

Next game for us is New Year's Day against the surprising Detroit Lions.  It should be a fun time.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Golf at Thornberry Creek

If you live in Green Bay and like to golf, you better be up for some adverse conditions if you want any semblance of a season. 

The photo here is taken from the green on Number 1 at Thornberry Creek yesterday.  That white thing to the left of the pin is my ball (I missed the putt and made bogey), and that other white stuff further off the green is exactly what you think it is. 

In fact, I wanted to get a round in on Saturday, but the course wasn't open as they felt there was too much snow on the ground.  So I headed out the next day, by myself on a rainy Sunday, with hopes that most sane people would have decided to stay home and watch football.  As my solo round progressed I caught three twosomes - two let me play through and I skipped past another - and I skipped playing 18 as 17 is pretty close to home and the rain had really kicked in at that point.  Giving myself a bogey for 18 gave me a 95 for the day, which is respectable given my 17 handicap and since my last round was August 27; nearly two and a half months ago. 

And I got it all done in 1 hour 45 minutes.

Given the forecast, I'm not sure there will be any other chances to get out this year, but we'll see.  Regardless of what happens, it was nice to hit the course one more time so late in the year. 

Even if there was a little snow...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Speech at the Carlson School of Managment

Last week I was asked to speak to a class of junior and senior marketing students at the Carlson School of Management.  Attached is a terrible picture of about a third of the class. 

While the reason for the invitation was really based in the school fishing for a big charitable donation from me, it was still an honor to talk to the kids.  I spoke to them about my company, my career story, the ecommerce industry, and offered them advice as they begin their careers.  I felt the talk went fairly well, and I intend on building out some of my speech for content on this site - look for that coming soon. 

My overall impressions of the students were as follows: 
  • I was impressed in their engagement, and how they really poked at me with questions.  I was clearly not just some blow off day; they really wanted to learn from me. 
  • I was also impressed with the technology with which they were armed.  I would have loved to have been able to go to school similarly outfitted, although I likely would have wasted a ton of time on video games. 
  • Finally, I was impressed with their intelligence.  They knew their subject matter well, and clearly were true students of business. 
It was really fun to engage with them, and since my company leveraged my speaking to conduct on-campus hiring, I'm might be engaging with some of them again in fairly short order. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hunting Gucci Point

Here is some video from last weekend to give some perspective of our favoite hunting spot on our lake.

Dubbed "Gucci Point" as in most years one is able to hunt it without getting one's feet wet (not true this year), it has been the place where some of my fondest hunting memories have been made. 

It is also the place where I spread some of my dad's ashes, as well as the ashes of my first dog, Blitz. 

I wish I was there right now...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Win a Suite at the New Year's Day Green Bay / Detroit Game!

Happy Veterans' Day

There's lots we could do to celebrate, but for today I chose the USMC Silent Drill Platoon as their performance, dedication, and precision represent the type of job that all our military do.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rick Perry is Toast

With the most cringe-worthy performance of a major debate thus far, Rick Perry has eliminated any chance of moving forward.  He went from being a savior of the party with a clear path to the nomination to ham-handed rube to done like a TV dinner in less than three months.

With Cain's issues gravely hurting his chances, the nomination is now Romney's to lose. 

And, as Rick shows below, you can lose it pretty darn quick:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

5 Minute Road Trip Across America

Using time lapse photos, here's a quick road trip across the United States:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

RIP, Joe Frazier

Joe Frazier, the man with perhaps the most wicked left hook in all of boxing, has passed away. 

He departs leaving two men left, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, that made up what was the indisputable heyday of the Heavyweight division in the early 1970's.  Their battles were epic, and we witnessed bouts that will likely never be replicated. 

While I could share any number of highlight reels, you can see those anywhere.  So instead, let's take a look at Joe - in his prime, looking great, and having fun:

Charlie Rose and Google

I know this is an oldie, but it still cracks me up:

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Rare Glimpse Into Life at the Duck Camp

My wife and others often ask what we do at the duck camp all weekend. 

What don't we do?! 

The video listed below provides just a little peek beyond the camouflage curtain. 

To set the context, it all started with my partner was working on a design for a new blind.  The blind would be built on a stand to get it out of the water and get it high enough to see over the cattails, and while the design would work well, building the stand and attaching the blind to it would be a significant hassle.  I was not looking forward to the build; not at all. 

Unfortunately for my partners in the camp, I've fully inherited my father's capability for being handy at fixing or building anything.  I'm worthless, and everyone knows it.  Oh, I'm good at hauling stuff, holding stuff, fetching tools, and making sure the beer doesn't run out, but for anything else, I stink, and everyone knows it.  In fact, if not for my skills in the kitchen as our designated camp cook, I'd likely find myself out on my tail.

However, for some reason this day I was touched by a rare bolt of engineering inspiration.  Dreading the thought of the work required with the proposed configuration, I felt there had to be an easier way.  Scanning the farm yard (which is looking more and more like Fred Sanford's front yard these days) I spied an old tractor tire.  The tire was about the right height, and the right sturdiness.  Why not just lay a dock section on top of it?  Eureka! 

I pitched the idea, and it was met with the usual quick dismissal reserved for all of my ideas. But about the time its heart beat was going to a flat line, the idea caught a spark that built into a small fire.  The two other guys present started mentally chewing on it and tossing thoughts back and forth.  After a quick analysis, as well as a trial in the yard, it was determined that indeed, for once in my 26 year history up there, I had a good idea. 

As you may have sensed, I'm still basking in the afterglow of this, and likely will be for seasons to come.  Like the Abominable Snowman in Rudolph putting the star at the top of the tree, I had finally done something good.  "Lookie what I can do!" 

Armed with my newly hatched idea, we now needed to implement.  That required that we move the tires from the farmyard to their new home on the point out on the lake.  So how do we move these 200 lb. giant monsters?  By jacking around, of course.  Hence we developed a quick contest for distance and accuracy, and the following is the result.     

As you can see, life at the duck camp is a complex, somber, and sober pursuit.  We do really important stuff up there. 

I hope you enjoyed this rare glimpse behind the camouflage curtain.   

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Firepit Revelations

My wife and I sat outside last week and used my new fire pit and enjoyed one last beautiful fall night. We stared into the flames and talked well into the evening.  Just wonderful. 

There is something about a fire that stirs something deep within the human soul.  Wired in our DNA must be something that equates fire with what it provided our ancestors throughout human history - safety, warmth, food. 

Funny how we're made that way. 

The only thing I can liken it to is how humans react when seeing/recognizing natural beauty.  The majesty of snowcapped mountains, the mystery of a rural starlit sky and its billions of stars, the brilliance of a coral reef and its abundance of colorful life are just some of dozens of other examples.  Like our reaction to fire, humans have been awed by these wonders throughout our history. 

Personally, in witnessing these things, I usually come away from them as moments when God reveals Himself to me.  That's not a tough leap.  What is significantly more hard are the moments where the revelation is far more subtle. The caring call from a dear one at just the right time.  The spirit of communion in something greater than us found at a funeral, a wedding, or at mass.  The warmth that charity generates for those giving, as well as those receiving.  Times when we truly are Christ for each other.  

Omnipresent in our lives, but hard to see without looking.     

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wim Hof For Columbia

A couple of months ago I wrote a post that was somewhat critical of Columbia's new $1,200 hunting jacket.  

Now, along comes Wim Hof in a really effective ad campaign:

I'm not sure it will help them sell a lot of this stuff, but it is pretty darn entertaining

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ellison's Bills to Help Him, Screw Everyone Else

Keith Ellison introduced two bills this week which basically eliminate the need for voters to present IDs while voting, and would require states to offer same-day registration.  According to Keith, laws that require that you show your ID when voting unfairly prevent people from voting for some reason, "These laws add up to the greatest attack on voting rights since the Jim Crow era.”


I need a license to drive.  To hunt or fish.  To drink and purchase alcohol.  To buy a firearm to take advantage of rights given to be by the Constitution.  But voting?  Nah, no need for that formality, right Keith?  Whatever you need to do to get as many votes as you can, legally or illegally, is the important thing.

Working on this, while at the same week it is announced the number of US citizens on food stamps is now over 45 million tells you all you need to know about Ellison and what is important to him. 

Nice priorities, Keith. Keep up the good fight, you're making a huge difference. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

StarTribune for iPad - The Relationship Continues

The StarTribune has launched a paid app for iPad for those accessing their content via that device.  Among the printed content sites optimized for the platform, it is one of the nicest I've seen.  The pictures are fantastic, the navigation completely optimized for the technology, and the content rich. 

Unfortunately, they want $.99 per week to access this. 

Being a web industry guy, I like my content free, and considering I can access their information on their core website just fine without the payment, I hesitated.  However, I also know what the costs are associated with creating content specifically for such a platform, and how their content is presented in the user interface is really, really nice. 

So what does a guy do? 

It doesn't help that I've battled the Strib's editorial bias for years, and have a half dozen published letters to the editor under my belt (with about a dozen more the cowards wouldn't run).  However, despite my distain for their political slant, I've always loved the paper. 

My first job ever was carrying the Minneapolis Tribune when I was in 5th grade.  In those days it was the Tribune as the Star was the evening paper for Minneapolis.  An evening paper!  Good golly, I'm old. 

The route was a great gig for a kid with a morning person's make-up and the desire for some pocket money, and I truly enjoyed it.  By the time I had finished I had the route that covered downtown Mound, Minnesota which afforded me lots of shop door drops.  That meant no getting off my bike to deliver the paper between the customers' screen door and front door, which increased my speed dramatically.  I could do my 50+ paper route in under 45 minutes, and was the envy of the other paper carriers in the area. 

Despite getting up at 4:00AM every weekday for nearly 5 years, I enjoyed it.  I also enjoyed the paper itself; reading the headlines at the drop-off station, and sometimes reading the whole thing at the local bakery at 5 AM over a hot chocolate and still-warm doughnut.  The paper made me a fan of current events, or at least helped one predisposed to liking them get access to the appropriate information. 

I loved the paper.  I guess I still do.  So I did what I fully expected I'd do, and I bought the online subscription. 

My nearly 40 year history with the StarTribune continues.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

St. John's Football - A Rare Season

There is an excellent article in the StarTribune today on the state of Johnnie football.  It is nice to have it considered "news" because St. John's is having a really tough year, at least as considered by their standards. 

I'm not close enough to the situation to offer a solution.  All I know is that John Gagliardi and his coaching philosophy have delivered a winning record that is likely only second to Mt. Union since I attended there nearly 25 years ago.  In that time he won one national title, which easily was one of the top 25 happiest days of my life.  He has 43 consecutive seasons without a losing record! 

From my perspective, whatever this guy wants to do as he closes out his career, I'll support.  There will be lots of options when he's done - SJU's attendance and alumni support are the envy of Division III, and any coach worth his salt would be thrilled with the position.  It is the Notre Dame of the north, minus the past coaching drama, and we'll be able to tap the best coaches in the nation when that time comes.  

Good luck, John (how many college coaches do you know that demand that their players, students, alumni, and fans call him by his first name?) on breaking the Oles' hearts this weekend on your way to keeping that consecutive winning season streak alive.  As I do on my hunting weekends, I'll be listening.   

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween at Thornberry by the Numbers

317 kids

3 neighboorhood traffic jams

13 (or so) actul kids from the neighboorhood

1/2 a bag of candy left over