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Life changing

This and that, Walking the dog

 No, this is no diatribe on resolutions for the new year. I just want to share a couple things that can change your life, at least for the next couple of months. It really helps to get outside in winter, and if you've got the right gear, it becomes do-able.

  • Ice traction devices (cleats). Strap these babies on your shoes or boots and you can walk anywhere. Stable Icers are the creme de la creme of strap on crampons to keep you on your feet and off your butt this winter. They cost nearly $50, but they last, and you can replace the little spikey things should they drop out.

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The Science Experiment

Guess the critter, Just For Fun, Outdoors, Smile For The Trail Cam

Here's an update.

The science experiment (my attempt to capture images of who is feasting on a deer carcass) has been on a forced hiatus.

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Deer Camp - Closing Post

Hunt'n, Outdoors

Our post-Christmas vacation is drawing to a close. 

We hosted a niece and nephew for the past week at the farm.  In keeping with the policy of No Child Left Indoors the days have been filled with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hauling firewood, playing with Girlfriend and other assorted outdoor activities.  The evenings have been spent sampling all manner of terrific food and relaxing in front of the fire.  Mornings are for sleeping-in.

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Racism, crime, and Wauwatosa

Mayfair Mall, Race, Wauwatosa

 Until the next incident, the latest outcropping of violence at Mayfair Mall has this community--and others, thanks to the viral progression of online video--abuzz.

If you've been in a coma and haven't heard about it, a bunch of  young guys, all or nearly all of them black, got in a heated argument and brawl while doing after-Christmas shopping (or mall-lingering) on December 26.  The bone of contention? Basketball. Their fist-fighting rolled into a nearby store, Wet Seal, and seriously messed up the merchandise. A lot of people who saw it were, of course, frightened and upset. The police came, three of those involved were arrested, and fines or tickets were issued. At least one of the participants expressed remorse while explaining that he was trying to protect a friend.

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Is all well?

Hope 2009 is treating you well!

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Gas Pains Makes the Top Ten

Gas Pains

I received an email from Mark Maley today.

Mark is the fellow that works over at the Palace of Pure Thought and is the Online Editor of all of the NOW sites - Including WauwatosaNOW.

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Too bad Eleanor Roosevelt wasn't hot

Aging, Beauty, It isn't easy, Oprah

One of my fondest childhood memories is sick days. My mom would give me fresh pajamas--in winter, warmed in front of the fireplace if it happened to be going or in the dryer if it wasn't--and tuck me in. She'd bring the radio into my room. This being in ancient times, not every room had one of those. And I'd spend the day dozing in and out of soap operas and advertisements.

So when I was sick the other day, I fell into old habits. I tucked myself into the couch and turned on the television. There, at least during the daytime, you wouldn't really know that the world around us is in crisis.

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Winter Wondering

Community, Fun, Weather

As I stepped outside this morning to let Millie the wonder dog (who could take on Marley or Bolt any day) do her biz-ness, it occurred to me that life in Wisconsin is somewhat like the directions on a shampoo bottle. You know how Head and Shoulders tells you to “lather, rinse, repeat”? Well, here in the land of cheese, we “sleep, shovel, repeat.”

This line of thinking made me think about the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and what slogan they’ve conjured up to describe and promote life in our fair state. A quick internet search uncovered the answer. Are you ready? Drumroll please…..

Wisconsin Originals.

Yeah, that was my reaction too. The campaign features noted Wisconsin natives Bonnie Blair and Ko-Thi Dance founder Ferne Caulker talking about how our state inspires them. OK, I get it, but, in my opinion, it doesn’t come close to the infamous “Escape to Wisconsin,” (not to be confused with “Escape from Wisconsin.”)

Still, it’s better than the former “Stay Just a Little Bit Longer,” “Wisconsin - You’re Among Friends” or the 2005 slogan “Life’s Good.” (Um, could you possibly be more vague?)

I think the best-conceived travel slogans should do two things - give a nod to something unique about the state and say something positive that can’t be said about any other state. One of the best and most well-known tourism slogans is “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Of course it’s a reference to the naughty side of that city, but it’s memorable and targeted. Not sure that “Wisconsin Originals” will really have the same effect.

So all of this slogan-izing made me wonder if we couldn’t come up with something a little more reality-based - maybe even a tiny bit gritty? I’m going to take a crack at it, but then I invite you, my ever-clever readers to join in on the fun.

Here goes:

“Come for the Snow, Stay for the Shoveling”
“Please Pass the Salt!”
“It’s Not for Sissies Anymore”
“Nothing Beats the Smell of Snowblowers in the Morning.”
“Nine Months of Hell for Three Months of Gorgeous.”
“Wisconsinites - The Fat, The Proud, The Frozen.”
“No Toll Booths and No Senate Seats for Sale.”

Alright, that’s enough from me. Chime in and share your wit and wisdom. (That is, in between trips outside to shovel and plow.)

Heinemann's, RIP

Economy, Heinemann's, Wauwatosa

 Last night the kids and I had our only winter break restaurant meal at Juniper 61. I'd just spent $700 on car brakes, so it was one of those "what's another 40 bucks?" kind of indulgences. Enchanted by the tempura green beans, they began talking about opening a restaurant of their own. "Of course, you need a theme, a gimmick," said one. That, good food and service, enough operating capital, plenty customers, and lots of luck, I thought.

"Did you know all the Heinemann's restaurants closed the other day?" I asked. "Oh, no," they said, with some genuine sadness.

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Please Drive Carefully

Both my children attended McKinley school when they were in grade school, so the following story is of a concern to me.

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You want to raise my interest rate to WHAT?!


One of my credit card companies just announced, and rather imperiously if you ask me, that they are raising my interest rate to prime plus 26.7%. This is more than double the current APR.

Can you say "usury"? 

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High Hopes

Hope, Politics

As the nation awaits the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, there is great anticipation and excitement. Like many, I am very curious to see how the Obama administration will lead our nation through these turbulent times.


President-Elect Obama famously wrote of the “Audacity of Hope.”  Although I try never to write about politics, I thought I'd share my own personal list of “hopes” for our new president and his team:


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The cycle of dreams

Community, Schwartz Bookstores

This morning, the house is strangely silent. The dishes are washed, finally, and the sports pages lie unread. The kids have gone back to school, and I am alone again with my thoughts and these headlines: Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops to close and, anticipating the inauguration of a new president, Sights and sounds of hope

One dream comes to an end. Another set of dreams begins. It's always that way, but some days we notice more. And noticing can be painful. The collapse of corporate giants hasn't moved me to anything but anger. This brings me to tears.

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With hope and virtue

job hunt, Obama inauguration

I thought I'd be writing more about the job hunt, telling amusing stories and being cheerful and upbeat.

But I haven't because it has been a thin and sobering experience. The job disappeared in August, a month 84,000 other Americans lost their jobs. That month, USA Today said 2 million jobs had been lost in the previous year. The math is stark: 1 million fewer jobs in 2008 than in 2007, and 1 million more people competing for the jobs that exist. And that's just the jobs and people on the official rolls.

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Watcha sell'n out the back of that truck?


Unlike some of you I don't mind all of the snow and cold.  I like being outside in winter.  I remember going winter camping for the first time with my wife.  We were sitting around the campfire at night and a duck flew-in and landed next to us.  I'm not making this up.  There we sat; Jill, me and the mallard.  But that's an altogether different story.

Nowadays I rather enjoy the change of venue of coming back indoors for the opportunity to get caught-up on my reading.  And there is nothing like a like a breath of summer when a cold wind howls.  Homemade salsa with chips while basking in the warming multi-megawatt glow of a Sunday game on The Giant Conundrum.  You'd almost think it was early season football.

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Historic Super Bowl

So next week we have a historic Super Bowl, even bigger than last year when a team was going for a perfect 19-0 season.  It didn't happen.

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Beauty tips from the far side

Aging, Beauty, Fluff

Unlike most women I know, I'm blessed with an overly good opinion of how I look.

That said, it's been a long time since I've stopped to admire my reflection in windows and mirrors. At some point, you get resigned to being an obviously formerly semi-attractive woman. Then one day, you realize you are that person, minus the obviously part.

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Bacon's back

Food, Health, Oprah

Yesterday, while deconstructing the terrible diet habits of alarmingly obese teenagers, Oprah blessed bacon.

Maybe not Oprah, but David Zinczenko, one of the beautiful lean and healthy men who advise her (and the rest of America) in these matters. The seal of approval was really a preference for pig bacon over turkey bacon: both have the same number of calories, but the turkey stuff is wicked salty, saltier than its pork counterpart.

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Dilbert gets it right

Dilbert, job hunt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, newspapers

Yesterday's Dilbert in the Journal Sentinel really got it right.


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What are you doing for the Super Bowl??

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