Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lip-Sync Proposal

Working in the new media, I get exposed to a lot of things on the social / viral front.  Most of it, especially when it is forced, is crap.  Heck, nearly all of it. 

However, there are those rare times where it works, and the results, well, they just speak for themselves.

Enjoy this.  And if you're a guy and not yet engaged, good luck in one-upping this...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Hate Ticketmaster

There are very few bands left that I still desire to see live but have not.  One of them are the Foo Fighters - a band I consider to be one of the last remaining true "rock bands."  So when they announced they'd be playing in nearby Milwaukee, I prepared myself for the impending ticket sale.

Unfortunately, the ticket sale coincided with my fishing vacation.  No worries though - Ticketmaster is surely sophisticated enough to have a strong mobile engagement.  I should be able to buy my ticket from the comfort of my fishing boat.

At five minutes before the appointed hour I began performing the "Ticketmaster Refresh." - continually hitting refresh on my browser screen to hopefully get in as soon as tickets released.  And right at the top of the hour I did finally get in.

I selected one ticket, best available.  I was presented with something main floor, 28th row.  OK, issue #1 - where did all of the other tickets go?  The good tickets?  You know, the tickets that will show up on reseller sites at 3-10X their face value?  It makes one wonder...

Still, I was happy with my lot - I'd been on the receiving end of much worse.  Hence, I began what ultimately was the death march that was the check out process on from a mobile device.

Ticketmaster was not optimized for mobile.  Not even close.  

As nimbly as I could in working off of an iPhone from a moving boat, I typed in my information.  Mistakes were made.  Response time was slow.  Then it happened:

A cutesy little "Sorry..." and the mediocre ticket I was so happy to be able to pay $100 for went "poof."  Right before my eyes.  Get to the back of the line, Jack...

Some day, hopefully soon, Ticketmaster will be rendered obsolete.  They do so many things incredibly bad that it is only a matter of time before they eventually go the way of the buggy whip.  And when that happens I plan on cranking up some Foo Fighters, snapping open a beer, and toasting its demise.  

I hate you, Ticketmaster.  Always have, always will. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Pig Roast at Big Rock Resort

Every Memorial Day  weekend at Big Rock Resort, there is a celebratory pig roast.  Nearly the whole resort shows up for a pot luck, with the honored guest being a pig from Michigan, provided by a bunch of guys from the same area.

The food and company is fantastic.  Here's a virtual taste:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Two Ways to Look at Memorial Day

There are two distinctly different ways to look at the day that was set for remembrance of those that were lost on the field of battle.  

Here's one:

Here is another:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Leech Lake Fishing Report - 2012 Continued

One word for fishing this past week on Leech Lake?  Fabulous.  Simply fabulous.  Regardless of the wind direction or the weather condition, fish were biting somewhere; all one had to do was find them.

For the first time ever on an extended stay on Leech I caught fish every time out.  Every time. 

Pictured above is my buddy Jon with a monster 31" northern that he battled 10 minutes to land.  The picture does not give it justice (it didn't help that I cut off its tail) - that fish was a monster, and in 40 years of fishing Leech, the largest fish I had ever seen landed on these waters.

Unfortunately, it all comes to an end.  We leave here with bellies full of fish, a limit and a half in the freezer, and memories of dozens of fish caught and released that were bigger than 18", with most north of 22", and four (that's right, four!) bigger than 26".

What an incredible bite on an incredible body of water. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Leech Lake Fishing Report 2012

Fishing thus far has been good.  Not great, but good.

Two nights ago Fuzzy and I found the fish at night on the flats, and boated a good number while running Rapalas.  One of them was a monster 28"; the biggest fish I've seen on this lake in years.  I'd show you pictures but Fuzzy hasn't sent them to me (note to Fuzzy - HINT).

Yesterday the wind blew hard all day, keeping me in most of the day.  By evening I was going crazy and headed out to listen to the Twins game and tow a Rap.  I searched all over, and finally found them after dark in 5 feet of water, on the rocks.

The only issue is that the wind was still howling.  Big time.  So when I'd hook a fish, I'd first need to move the boat off the rocks and then try to play and land him.  It was dangerous, and borderline stupid to be out there by myself doing that. 

It was just so damn frustrating to know where the fish were (90% of the battle) yet be unable to catch them.

So the fight will continue today.  I'll keep the updates coming.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pauly's Fish

Nearly every year since my high school days, my buddies and I went to fishing opener in nothern Minnesota.  The dates and locales may have changed over the years, but the constant, especially in the past twenty years, was the four of us. 

And then, five years ago, everything changed.  I'll let Pauly tell you about it in his own words:

The accidnt left Pauly massively injured.  His life had been changed forever.  Outdoor pursuits like hunting, fishing, and golfing had been replaced by years of therapy, work, sweat, and tears.

Five long years. 

And while we all thought Pauly’s fishing days were over, we couldn’t have been more wrong, as Pauly made arrangements to join us on our annual trip this year.  

We started our trip in usual fashion, with a stop at Toby’s in Buckman, Minnesota.  Now called Bottoms Up or some damn thing, it will always be Toby’s to us.  It served as the halfway point to our trip up, and was a welcomed oasis for a dry throat.  It also was the place where we learned to throw darts, and tales of our competitions are renowned.  

We started our stop in usual fashion, with a Bloody Mary and a beer, and before too long the smack talk had started and someone put money into the dart machine, and we were off and running.  While JP and I maintained our championship, Pauly was incredible, and actually closed out a game for a win; needing and scoring a tough 20.  Awesome. 

We headed up to the cabin where we tried to make Pauly as comfortable as possible, and after lunch we all got the itch to go fishing.  

We used a rented pontoon boat to ease getting around and headed off to the first spot.  Coming up with nothing on our first drift, we moved slightly and put in for a second drift.  Almost immediately after stopping, I glanced over to see Pauly’s pole bent and thumping.  I immediately said a small, audible prayer – “Please be a walleye…” 

Pauly struggled with the reeling but was making good progress, and after a short fight, had landed this beauty.  I shot this video at the end of most of the chaos.  

I have no idea how much went into that fish in terms of Pauly getting to that point, but it was simply incredible.  Hollywood doesn’t write this kind of stuff. 

Showing he wasn’t just a fluke, Pauly finished the weekend with two other fish.  Not a lot by most standards.  But the standards had changed and changed so much that it was now beyond a lot.  It was everything. 

It was awesome to be there, to share in it, and to celebrate.  

The weekend showed much to all of us.  It showed, very cleary, that so much had changed.  It also showed that so much had not changed – not changed at all.  Not one bit.    

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter 7, "Third Year, Part 9"

Blitz was no worse for wear from her episode with the fudge, and we finished the rest of the pheasant season in fine form.  And what a season it was.  Our 300 acre farm held birds all season, and the snowfall in December had made the numerous cattails very attractive to the remaining birds in the area. 

Our last hunt of that season was the most memorable for me as it highlighted just how much of a team Blitz and I had become.  We happened to be the only ones in camp that weekend, which was kind of OK with me.  With it just being us two, we could work the cover as we wanted and with no compromise to others in the party.  It also meant that we could move much more silently, and this was a distinct advantage as the late season roosters had seen, and more importantly heard everything we threw at them.  We saw example after example of birds flushing far ahead of us previously in the season, and now at season’s end, the birds were at their wariest.  So the stealth of just us was welcomed.

Blitz and I started on our usual path down to the point where she had previously broken through the ice.  After weeks of cold temperatures we were in no danger of a repeat episode, as the ice was now thick enough to hold the both of us.  As we pushed through the corn, it was clear Blitz was on a bird, and I hoped that were just close enough that I’d get a shot.  We crossed onto the point without the bird flushing, and I was hopeful that the pheasant would find a nice spot in the cattails at the end and would just sit tight.  As Blitz and I pushed forward through the cover my optimism grew as I could now clearly see the end of the point, covered up in cattails, and it was well within gun range.  If the bird got up now, and it was a rooster, I should be presented with an excellent shot. 

Sure enough, Blitz’s nose led her to the cattails, and she worked the edges feverishly.  Within seconds, she stopped, statue-still, with her head poked into the cover and her rear-end exposed.  While her point wasn’t exactly stylish, it was a point indeed, and I prepared myself for the impending flush.  I commanded “Get him!” and immediately Blitz dove into the cover, followed, as in one seamless motion, by a flushing rooster.  At 20 yards my first shot was true, and the bird tumbled down on the frozen lake, with Blitz right there for the retrieve. 

She picked up the rooster, and I called her into heel, took it from her, loaded it into my game vest, and looked at my watch.  Not even 15 minutes into the hunt, and we had 50% of our two bird limit.  If this kept up, we’d be looking at an early lunch and a lot of college football. 

We walked off of the point and headed to the switch grass fields of the north.  Switch grass made for tough hunting later in the year, as the flat fields are essentially race tracks for fleet pheasants that choose to make their escape via their feet.  And with the birds having been hunted hard all season, they would take as much advantage to this opportunity as they could.  We pushed through field after field, with Blitz showing no signs of any birds, and after about an hour, I felt like my prediction of a quick limit may have jinxed us.  Finally, as we were entering a large field, Blitz’s tail started to show some signs of slight interest. 

As I steeled myself for the switch grass chase that I expected to ensue, a nervous rooster flushed a hundred yards out in front of us and well out of gun range.  So much for the track meet!  The bird caught the northern wind and banked around and back into the middle of the property, 

Now I was faced with the hardest question that a pheasant hunter can face: does one continue the hunt as designed, or does one  try to track down a known rooster?  Most times when the decision is the latter it comes up empty, as these birds tend to land running, and won’t stop until they’re three farms away.  However, given my desire to close out my limit early, and given that I knew the bird was a rooster, I pointed Blitz in the direction of where I thought the bird landed and we headed off. 

We walked about 300 yards to the spot where I thought the bird had landed, yet Blitz couldn’t pick up anything with her nose.  We covered the ground in a circular pattern, getting wider and wider with every pass, but still Blitz showed no signs of a bird in the area.  I was just about to call her to me and head back nearly a quarter mile to where we left off when the tell-tail noise of a bird flushing from behind me made me jump.  I spun to find the rooster in the air and crossing hard about 40 yards out.  I was able to snap off one quick shot while the bird was still in range, but was woefully behind my target.  Again I watched the bird fly off and land about 300 yards out.  “Well,” I said to Blitz, “we’ve come this far.  We better see how this all ends.” 

We again got on a line on where I thought the bird to be and we headed off.  This was obviously a wary and smart bird, so I tried to make our approach to the landing zone as quiet as possible.  Despite the effort, the rooster again flushed wild ahead of us about 100 yards.  “Damn!” I thought.  “All that ground covered, and nothing!”  About that time the flying bird took a hard bank to the left and headed toward the cover next to the lake.  “That might be the break we need, Blitz,” I stated as if she could listen.  “There’s not much cover there.  If we can pinch him against the shore, we could get a shot.” 

We headed in that direction, and finally my hopes were high.  In short order we arrived at the place in which I thought the bird had landed.  It was a small strip of cover which was bordered by 50 yards of hardwoods, then 10 yards of cattails, then lake.  The bird likely would not cross into the woods and expose himself, so if we could catch a scent in the small strip of cover, our odds would be good on getting a shot.  Sure enough, Blitz started to get interested, and her tail beat hard and circled.  Back and forth she covered the grass, but our bird was not forthcoming.  Judging on how she was acting, the bird was clearly here.  But where? 

Blitz continued her grass rampage, and still nothing got up.  For five minutes she went crazy, but without any kind of reward.  The bird clearly was not here, and I walked to the edge of the woods to reevaluate our circumstance.  “That bird wouldn’t have gone into the woods, would he?” I asked aloud.  The old woods were made of mature trees which prevented any undergrowth from being established, and that meant that, if he crossed it, the rooster would have been out in the open an extended time.  While it made no sense, the woods was the only place he could have gone.  I figured we’d come this far, it was worth a try. 

We stepped into the woods, with me hoping that Blitz could catch some kind of scent.  Back and forth we moved, with no kind of reaction coming from the dog.  After about 15 minutes, when my hopes were waning, sure enough Blitz caught a scent in the middle of the woods, and headed like a shot toward the lake.  I was hot on her heels, as I knew our wily quarry would not present us with an easy shot. We were both on a run and eventually came out of the woods were Blitz came to a dead stop in an open, frozen marsh spot which spanned about 10 yards across. There, in the middle of open ground, she lost the scent. 

She looked at me with the same sense of frustration that I felt.  I feared that this likely was the place that the bird flushed, but flown where?  Across the open, frozen lake?  It just seemed so unlikely.  The only other option was either that the bird doubled back on us somehow in the woods, or the bird was nestled into the cattails on the shore of the lake.  Since the cattails were the only good option, I decided to work Blitz along them to see if she could catch a scent. 

We headed south about 50 yards, without any kind of reaction from Blitz.  Since I doubted the bird ran farther in the wide open that that, we doubled back to try the north side.  We got back to our starting point, and began our northern trek.  Again, no reaction came from Blitz.  I worked her about 50 fruitless yards and called her back to me to quit.  It was over.  The bird won.  He must have flushed across the lake. 

Upon my command to come Blitz spun around and was headed back to me, all the while keeping her nose to the ground.  About 10 yards away from me she stopped, raised her head, and looked me dead in the eyes.  The look clearly translated as “Oh, yeah,  It’s on, boss!”  And with that she dove headlong to her left into the thick cattails.  Immediately our rooster flushed, and at 20 yards closer than he had been all day.  He presented an easy going away shot, and I covered him with the sight bead at the end of my shotgun with my aim and squeezed softly on the trigger. 


Blitz made the easy retrieve on the open ice and brought the hard-earned bird back to my hand.   We sat there a second, and I marveled at that team we had become.  We knew each other.  We knew where each other were going and what we were thinking.  We could win against the toughest of circumstances.  It simply could not get better than this. 

While lunch actually got missed, as did some good football games, I would not have changed it for the world.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Do I Belong Here?

These past couple of days I have been attending a conference that is being run by the private equity company that owns the company where I work.  The conference is incredible in its level of content and the quality of the presenters – it is arguably better than most paid conferences I have attended. 

The hard part for me is wondering if I fit here. 

I am one of only a handful of people attended that is not the senior most leaders at their company.  Pretty much the only reason that I’m here is that I’ve been asked to present on a topic of which I have some expertise.  Given the other business leaders, the equity partners, and some of their investors, I have little in common with the other attendees.  Between the names being dropped, the ownership of professional sports franchises, and the $50,000 a plate fundraiser than a number are attending immediately after the conference, I’m out of my element. 

And yesterday, ahead of my presentation, it intimidated the hell out of me. 

Fortunately, I was able to call my brother, a man with familiarity with this crowd, and he was able to get my head right.  The net result was a good presentation.  Heck, it was very good.  So while I may not have deserved to be here from a net worth standpoint, I did from a subject matter perspective. 

Will I ever be one of those guys?  Very, veryt doubtful.  But at least I know that I have the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they value. 

At the end of the day, I’m OK with that.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Interesting Study on Human Nature

What happens when some kind of everyday item is made fun?  Can human behavior change? 

You bet it can.

What other kind of human engagements could be modified in this fashion, and what could be the ramifications?

Kind of fun to consider...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter 7, "Third Year - Part 8"

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section
The second time I put Blitz into danger was a couple of weeks later in early December.  Blitz and I had been hunting at the farm in the morning, and we drove all the way back to the house after the hunt as my wife and I had an engagement the next morning in town.  Our hunt was successful, and upon our return I cleaned the birds, fed Blitz, showered, then settled in to get some work done in the office of our house.  Knowing that Blitz would be tired from hunting and that she likely would just lay at my feet, I brought her upstairs to the office under the frowning oversight of my wife.  The dog and upstairs were a bad combination, and my wife voiced her displeasure at what she viewed was a bad idea. 

Offering the dog a bone to keep her busy, I settled in to get some work done, and fired up the PC to knock out some work emails.  About twenty minutes into our experiment Blitz made a large chomp on her bone and snapped me out of my concentration of the work I was doing. I looked over at my dog, lying there peacefully, and wondered when would be the best tome to tell my wife "I told you so." 

I settled back into the task at hand and was startled out of my work again about a half hour later.  This time what snapped me out of it was not the chomping of a bone, or licking, or panting.  It was silence.  Dead silence.  I looked over to where Blitz was previously laying and spied just a lonely, abandoned bone.  This was not good. 

Since I'd not heard my wife yelling, the cat hissing, or the dog running, I was hoping that Blitz was just getting a cool drink out of the toilet of a nearby bathroom.  A quick check of the location came up empty.  Trying to stay quiet lest I find myself on the receiving end of the "I told you so," I slinked into the next most logical place where Blitz could be found.  The kitchen. 

I rounded the corner, and sure enough, there in the middle of the kitchen stood an extremely happy Blitz, who had just raised her head out of an empty cake pan there on the floor.  The cake pan, previously perched on the kitchen counter, used to be filled to the brim with my mother-in- law's famous fudge.  The pan was a holiday treat that we were saving, and it was a virgin.  Nary a piece had been taken from it yet.  But that didn't stop Blitz. She somehow managed to get the pan down from the counter, onto the floor, and proceed to empty it down to bare metal without making a peep.

An entire pan of homemade fudge gone. 

Knowing the chocolate is poisonous to dogs I immediately yelled to my wife for help.  Vera entered the room, saw the dog and the empty fudge pan and was just about to read me the riot act when she must have noted the panic on my face.  "What's wrong?" she asked.  "Oh, honey, chocolate is poison to dogs.  What do we do?" I blurted. 

It was now Saturday evening, and our local vet had gone home for the day.  I sprinted back into the office, hopped on the web, and found the number for a nearby emergency vet.  Vera was in action mode as well and was getting the dog's create ready to transport her to the emergency vet.  All the while Blitz is standing there with a completely satisfied look on her face that can only come to one that has just polished off a massive amount of homemade fudge. 

I dialed the number to the vet to let them know that we'd be coming in when the nurse on duty wanted to know the nature of our emergency.  "My dog ate a pan of fudge!" I exclaimed.  "A pan of fudge?  How much exactly?" 
"The whole pan." 
"Yeah at least five pounds!" 
"FIVE POUNDS?  So ho long ago did she eat it?" 
"One minute ago!" 
"OK, calm down, here is what were going to do.  Do you have any hydrogen peroxide?" 
"OK, you want to take your dog outside and give her a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide.  Wait abut sixty seconds.  If nothing happens, give her another one right away.  Then step back.  She'll vomit it all up."
"Will she be ok then?" 
"Oh yeah.  Just give her the hydrogen peroxide and call us back if for some reason she doesn't throw up." 

I stammered a "thank you" and asked my wife for the hydrogen peroxide, which she found and brought to me.  Explaining to my wife what we'd be doing, we took Blitz outside to administer the treatment.  I got Blitz on the patio, made her sit, removed the cap from the hydrogen peroxide bottle, then poured a tablespoon's worth into the dog's mouth.  Holding Blitz's nose up, rubbing her throat, and blowing on her nose to get her to swallow worked as it always had, as she finally gulped the fizzy liquid down. 

She stood up and gave me a look like, "Whoa.  I DO NOT feel so good..."  We waited for what felt about two minutes (but was likely 30 seconds), and with no signs of the dog getting sick I decided to administer another dose.  After the second shot, the dog stood up with foam boiling out of her mouth; looking more like a rabid wild dog than my faithful companion. 

Blitz was obviously not feeling well, and was clearly at the other end of the spectrum from her post-fudge-fest high.  After about 10 seconds she showed the tell-tale signs of getting sick, and within seconds we were treated to the sight of a huge pile of five pounds of fizzy fudge in the middle of the driveway.  Over the pile stood my dog, with the look on her face like "What the hell just happened?  Why isn't that stuff still in me?" 

Judging by the amount of fudge the dog had deposited on the concrete, we were satisfied that she had indeed thrown it all up.  And then some.  I quickly kenneled my confused and disappointed dog, and proceeded to break out the snow shovel to remove the offending treat. 

While scraping up the remnants of what used to be the best fudge in the world, I thought what a waste it was that nobody got to enjoy it.  I then thought about Blitz's face when I entered the kitchen, and I corrected myself.  She enjoyed it.  She enjoyed the hell out of it.  For all of about two minutes.   

Monday, May 14, 2012

Songs on Heavy Rotation - 2012

It is my brother's birthday, and that means it is time for the gift of some new music.  Here are some songs, some old and some new, that are on heavy rotation for me.  Hopefully you will be able to find something new in here that is enjoyable:

Chameleon/Comedian, Kathleen Edwards - One of the efforts off of her new album.  Justin Vernon, of Bon Iver fame, produced this album and ended up dating her.  Her sound is clearly changed, and is more complex.  Overall, a good effort

Dust Bowl, Joe Bonamassa - I consider Joe to be the best blues player of his generation.  Impeccable guitar licks and smoky vocals pull it all together.  The guy is a treasure.

Falling Off a Log, Tracey Thorn - Former lead of Everything But the Girl has ventured out to a solo career focused on dance / electronica.  She still has incredible vocals.  I just love her.

The Feel Again (Stay), Blue October - Perhaps my favorite song of the past year.  The entire album was a recap of the path of lead singer Justin Furstenfeld's divorce.  It is a deeply emotional, raw, and beautiful album.  Worth checking out.

Feels Like Rain, Buddy Guy - The first of a number of covers.  While Hiatt's original can't be topped, Guy's guitar makes this very special.  Of all of the songs New Orleans has inspired, this one feels the most like the city to me.

Fragile Bird, City and Colour - I found this album a little late, but enjoy it very much. The pounding bass and guitar are infectious.

Give Me Something, Scars On 45 - Reminds me a little like Coldplay.  Their whole latest album is fantastic.

Hard Times, Gillian Welch - Way off the beaten path from a musical perspective.  I have no idea why I love this song, but love it I do.

High In the Morning, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Still making relevant music all these years later.  This 2010 effort is a great example.

Holdin On to Black Metal, My Morning Jacket - Got a James Bond-esque theme through this one that I really like.  I am really into this band lately.  The diversity of their sound is really spectacular. 

The Homes of Donegal, Paul Brady - I was kind of having a down St. Patrick's Day, and was looking for a song to put me back into an Irish mood.  This is the song that I found.

If You Would Come Back Home, William Fitzsimmons - While a lot of this guy's work all sounds very similar, I really like his sound. 

Keep Running, Gemma Hayes - I do love my indy chicks, and Gemma is clearly that.

The Lime Tree, Trevor Hall - This guy has a big Eastern influence in his subject matter, and has made some beautiful music.  I really enjoy him.  Also check out some live and acoustic versions of this song.  Fantastic stuff.

Meet Me On the Equinox, Death Cab for Cutie - While I'm not a huge Death Cab fan, I really like this song a lot.

Money to the Rescue,   ClarenceClemons & The Red Bank Rockers - With the passing of the Big Man this year, it seems only proper to include this song from him.  Hard to believe that given this was a 1983 release, the subject matter still certainly applies to today.

My Baby's Tellin' Lies, Keb' Mo' - Some recent R&B, with a heavy emphasis on the B. 

Over the Ocean (iTunes Session), Best Coast - I'm not a huge fan of the low-fi, 60's inspired trend that has been all the rage in alt/indy these past couple of years, but of all the bands that do it, Best Coast does it very well.

Ride's Blues (For Robert Johnson), Dion - Yes, that Dion.  Surprised the hell out of me when I first heard it.  I'm now digging deeper.

Row Jimmy, The Decemberists - I'm not a huge Dead fan, but there have been fantastic covers of their music through the years.  I'd consider this Decemberist effort to be one of the top ten.

Sail, AWOLNATION - OK, the hook got me.  It got me good.  Blame it on my ADD, baby.

Santa Fe, Beirut - Indy, but with kind of a world-music vibe to it.

Set Me On Fire, Matthew Good - I've recommended some of his stuff in the past.  With this effort, released this year, we find him layering on horns and more structured backing vocals.  I hate this guy's politics, but love his music.

Speaking in Tongues (feat. David Byrne), Arcade Fire - This was one of two songs added to the Deluxe Version of Arcade Fire's recent classic The Suburbs.  They had the good sense to ask David Byrne to sing backup on this effort.  Very enjoyable.

Standing In the Doorway, Bonnie Raitt - I really love Dylan.  And of the hundreds of songs that he's penned, I believe that this song is my favorite.  That's saying a lot.  This is off Bonnie's most recent effort, and her treatment is bluesy and strong.  Great song, sung well.

Three and a Half Letters, Chickenfoot - This shows why Sammy Hagar is 10x the rock star David Lee Roth is.  Great song.

Woods, The Rosebuds - The best song from one of the best albums of the year.  The Rosebuds are outstanding.

Young Blood, Birdy - Her album is full of alternative covers, and her singing is gorgeous.  The whole album is worth a listen.

Happy birtday, Bro.  I love you tons.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekend in Door County

We spent the weekend in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin, celebrating Mrs. YDP's birthday.  The weather was fantastic, scenery incredible, food & drink outstanding, and the company incomparable.  Overall it was a great weekend.

The only bad part is that the area is full of shops.  That meant a ton of shopping for my wife.  Me?  Well, let's just say they must have seen me coming...

Friday, May 11, 2012

US Navy Anti-Missile Test

The Telegraph has some amazing video of a recent US Navy missile test.  Given the distances and speeds involved, it is amazing that something like this can get close, let alone work.  Just incredible.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

FLTD Coverage in the New York Times

The New York Times has written a very touching article on the impact of FLTD.  It captures very well how families are impacted by this heinous disease, and shows what living with this disease is really like. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cabela's to Open in Green Bay

Cabela's has recently announced their impending arrival in Green Bay.  The 100,000 square foot store is slated to open its doors by the summer of 2013, just a couple of blocks south of Lambeau Field on Lombardi Avenue. 

For a small town with a stagnant economy, this is tremendous news.  In many respects, there are limited things to offer visitors within Green Bay proper.  Certainly, Door County has fantastic appeal, but it is not truly part of Green Bay. 

With the traffic provided by Lambeau, both on game days, special events like the "stockholders' meeting," and just the pilgrimage so many make to The Frozen Tundra, having another destination and distraction will aid the area's ability to keep folks in town, entertained, and spending. 

Personally, I can't wait for this to open, and predict that it will be wildly successful. 

Congratulations to the Packers, Cabela's, and the city of Green Bay for pulling this together.    

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy Birthday to Mrs. YDP

Happy birthday to my beautiful wife. 

While this marks the first of your 49th birthdays, you still make my heart flutter like a schoolboy, and you still make me feel like that St. Patrick's Day blind date twenty years ago was the best thing that ever happened to me.  Luck of the Irish, indeed... 

Happy birthday, Sweetheart.  I love you very much.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Avengers Matches the Hype

My nephew and I attended The Avengers this past weekend, and I'm happy to report that the movie lived up to its incredible hype. 

As a kid that collected comic books, and to whom The Avengers were a favorite, I really wanted this movie to be what it was billed.  And it was in spades.  Dialog and story were strong, action outstanding, and effects flawless. 

As is the case with major Hollywood efforts of late, beyond my concern about the movie being oversold, I was also concerned about a preachy, liberal message.  In fact, that wasn't the case at all.  It was nearly the opposite.  I won't discuss the points and spoil the movie for those that may not have seen it yet, but for me it was so evident that it was noticeable and refreshing. 

Go see The Avengers.  It is a raucous, two-hour thrill that will get you back in touch with your inner 8 year old.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Perfect Mother's Day Gift

Nothing says "I love you, Mom" better than the gift of cold, blue steel.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Loss of Junior Seau

I'm greatly saddened by the death of Junior Seau, and it is on multiple fronts. 

Growing up in Minnesota in the 1970's, it was impossible to not be a fan of the Vikings, which made it impossible to not be a fan of defense.  That indoctrination has stayed with me my entire life, and while the game has changed significantly, my love for stellar defensive play has never waned. 

While individual defenders with the ability to dominate and control the game became few and far in between, Seau was clearly one of them.  As such, I was an early admirer and a fan.  

I'd always watch anytime one of his teams were playing, which ultimately became a running joke with my wife and me.  We were watching one of his early games with San Diego when she asked "Who is that guy you like?" 
"Because when he hits guys, he makes them say 'ow.'" 

Seau was quick, smart, agile, and more than anything else, a dominant hitter.  And he was so in the heyday of "leading with your hat."  Tackling technique had morphed to involve the head and to use the helmet to help deliver the blow.  And while it was successful in delivering punishment and forcing fumbles, it was taking a toll on the players on both sides of the ball. 

The brain is not something with which to be trifled.  I have seen, far too closely, how brain maladies can devastate a loved one, and a family.  And as we learn more about the impact of repetitive concussions, it is becoming clearer and clearer that the game I love so dearly is deadly to its players. 

Not immediately, no.  But the loss of Seau, and how he took his life, should send a huge red flag to the league that something is wrong. 

Rest in peace, Junior Seau.  May you now be resigned in the peace that you so desperately sought.    

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Weaver No-Hits* the Twins

* Since it was against the Twins, a team on a pace for a 121 game loss season, a full 'no hitter' cannot be awarded. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Obama the Hero. Just Ask Him

In my life I’ve had the good future to meet multiple military heroes.  Men that have been awarded the Flying Cross.  The Bronze, Silver, or Gold star.  I even met a man that was awarded the Medal of Honor.  In every case, the one thing these men had in common (other than their bravery and heroics) is that they rarely to never talked about it. 


Hell, some of them I had no idea of the level of their heroism until it was called out in the obituary.   And in the rare event that they did talk about it, all they said is that they were doing their job.  They were nothing special. 

Now go to President Obama and his behavior around the Bin Laden killing.  He’s acting like a benchwarmer who never got his uniform dirty, mouthing off to the world of how good he is, standing behind giant men of the same team, men that are battered, sore, and filthy.  They did all the work, and he takes the credit. 

Obama said “go,” that’s it.  That is the extent of his testicular fortitude and his heroics.  Yet he’s acting like he’s coming off an MVP season.  It is disgusting, and like so many other incidents lately, is unbecoming of a President.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Seven, "Third Year: Part 7"

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section
We got back from south Dakota in good shape, and it only took one weekend on the shelf for Blitz to regain her health.  Our early return was welcomed by my wife, until she understood what caused it.  While she and the dog were still rarely ever on the same page, my wife had a soft sport in her heart for Blitz and woe be to me if I did not take good care of her dog. 

I'd like to say that I did take good care of her from then on out, but the truth is that there were two more times that fall in which Blitz would be put in harm's way, and both were the result of my actions. 

The first time came on a cold November day hunting pheasants up at the farm.  We had hunted ducks in the morning, but skim ice had formed the night before and had moved most of the birds south.  While we broke the ice to create open water for our decoys, they went unseen as anything with any feathers and sense had headed for the Iowa border the night before.  Despite the poor waterfowling, we had pheasants to fall back on, thus our empty skies combined with the crowing roosters we heard around us conspired to make us trade our drab camo for blaze orange in very short order. 

We started our hunt in our usual pattern, with our crew pushing through some standing corn to small point that jutted out into the lake.  In previous efforts we found that we were able to push birds out of the food and onto the point where the lake kept them from running ahead of us.  They'd be forced to hunker down in the cattails at the edge of the water where our dogs had the ability flush them within gun range.  It was a perfect set up, and it paid off time and again.  Unfortunately, it was a tactic we always used, and the birds started to get wise to it.  That meant that they tended to flush at the first sign of hunter or dogs well ahead of the cattail covering we had planned. 

As we spread ourselves in the corn rows, Blitz and I found ourselves on the far left side of the line, with three other hunters and two other dogs to our right.  When we were all in our alignment we began our push forward, and nearly immediately Blitz began acting like she was on a bird. 

Corn rows a like racetracks for rooster pheasants and Labrador dogs, and I had a though time keeping blitz in range.  When she finally ranged too far and was too engaged with the bird to listen to my commands, I was forced to go to my electronic dog collar.  While I rarely ever used it on Blitz, I did need to have a means to stop her if necessary.  Blitz was unstoppable, especially when chasing a falling bird, and in my minds eye I could see her on the path of a bird falling across a gravel road with a truck simultaneously barreling down it.  That chilling mental image was enough to keep her wearing electronics every time out. 

The collars themselves are a very humane tools when used correctly, and I never corrected Blitz on a level that I had not already used on my own bare hand. Hence, I never felt bad about issuing a correction.  I thumbed the switch to remind my dog what the command "HERE" meant, and was surprised she did not react.  While Blitz had a massive pain threshold, she truly disliked the tickle provided by the collar, and was quick to shape up whenever it was employed. 

I tried the button again, and once again received no actions from the dog.  Recognizing that the collar was likely running out of charge, I increased my pace.  I knew that at Blitz's current rate, she'd likely have the bird in the air well before we reached the end of the point. 

I had just stepped out of the corn and onto the point when a large rooster flushed up in the direction that Blitz was heading.  The bird flew to my left, across the point and over the frozen lake.  While the bird was farther than I would have liked, he was silhouetted against a gorgeous blue sky in a slow crossing pattern that made for a fairly easy target.  I raised my gun, sought the appropriate lead on the accelerating bird, and squeezed the trigger.  The bird was hit squarely, and landed atop the ice where it's momentum slid it a good twenty yards. 

Blitz had the bird marked well and moved on top of the ice to fetch the rooster up.  About a third of the way there the ice gave out, and blitz suddenly found herself in the water trying to pull herself back up on top of the ice and to the bird.  She was flailing radically, and would be able to fight and pull her chest up on the ice, only to have it break way on her and have her restart the process all over again. 

She was exerting a massive amount of energy staying afloat, and I was screaming at her to come back.  I recognized at her current lever of exertion that she would soon be in great danger.  But despite my commands and repeated attempts at triggering her dead training collar, the dog just pressed ahead. 

After about five minutes I was really starting to get scared.  Blitz had only progressed a couple of feet and was not going to be reaching the bird anytime soon.  I prepared to ditch my clothes and head into the water after her, when my partner's black lab, Britt, who had been watching the whole episode transpire, must have had enough. 

Britt was a middle aged black lab, and while she was an fantastic hunter, she also carried far too much weight.  She was a medium framed dog that was well into the ninety pound range, a full fifty percent bigger than Blitz, and unfortunately for Britt, she didn't wear it very well.  In fact her girth earned her the nickname of Denny Green due to her resemblance to the former Vikings' coach. 

While Britt's excess baggage did nothing for aesthetics, it was absolute hell on braking ice.  Britt swam down the channel that Blitz had created in the ice, shoved herself past the ineffective smaller dog, and proceeded to crush the ice between her and the bird with very little effort. 

As she had done with Gus previously, Blitz quickly realized that she'd been bested, and turned around to come back to me with that look of "What the hell was that?" on her face.  While we ultimately all had a really good laugh at the episode, the situation definitely could have ended much, much differently.  I was lucky.