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'Tis the Season for Christmas Concerts!


It has been a while since I've written - perhaps because starting in November the life of someone involved in choral and/or classical music tends to get nuts... Many extra rehearsals for holiday music, etc.

As I was thinking about it, I did want to take a moment to mention on this blog that there is a great chorus that is based in Wauwatosa, the Milwaukee Choristers, that will be holding its Christmas concerts next weekend on Friday and Saturday evenings.

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A knowledgeable and experienced arborist knows that all tree pruning is not equal.  The arborist assesses each tree individually and then decides what type of pruning the tree is in need of.  Crown cleaning, crown thinning, crown raising, crown restoration, deadwood pruning and training pruning are nationally accepted standards of tree pruning developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  The standards are extensive and involved.  They are there to protect the consumer.  At Wachtel Tree Science our knowledgeable and experienced Certified Arborists will help you benefit from these standards and assist you in determining what type of pruning your trees will need.

The different types of tree pruning are:

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The Trouble With Labs

Deer Camp, Healthcare, Labrador Retrievers, Sister

And I'm not talking about scary lab results you receive after a doctor visit.  No siree.  I'm talking about Labrador retrievers and the people that own them.  Especially if the people are crazy enough to have more than one Lab dog.

In fact, I think that in the veterinary profession Lab owners occupy a revered status as clients.  Welcome to book appointments at a moment's notice we Lab owners are treated with deference and respect.  This is because over and above our routine veterinary care we're bound to show-up, unannounced, at any time of year with a sprain, strain, laceration, dangerous ingestion, parasitic infestation, ear infection, or the simple diarrhea as a consequence of some disgusting thing the dog found in the woods and gleefully scarfed.  Throw-in an auto-immune disorder or a canine angular limb deformity you will quickly get the idea that Lab owners have likely floated many a clinic and possibly a few boats.  We are insufferable lovers of the breed and our credit is good.  We are the frequent fliers of veterinary practices.

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Early season observations on boys basketball...

boys basketball

The prep basketball scene is upon us and I thought I would share some observations with you.

Getting the point - I have four point guards who are leading their team in scoring so far this year...Reed Timmer of New Berlin Eisenhower (27.6), Nate Moore of Wauwatosa Eaat (22.0), Ryan McBride of Brookfield East (17.7) and Riley LaChance of Brookfield Central, who had a career-high 32 points in a 66-64 loss to top-ranked Germantown in the Lancers' opener on Saturday.

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Electrical Fire in the Bungalow

electrical fire, home improvement, fire department

At about 4 p.m. on Wednesday, November 28, our house had an electrical fire. It was the first house fire I'd ever experienced. Hopefully, it will be the last.

Let me back up a bit. A few weeks ago our family decided to spruce up our upstairs TV room as a family Christmas present. The room was carpeted, and like many of the carpets in our old bungalow, this one wasn't in the best condition. So two Saturdays ago I made a rash decision to rip out the carpet, not knowing exactly what I would find underneath. 
The carpet removal took about two hours. No big deal.
Initially when I decided to pull out the stained carpet in our TV room, I figured in the interest of saving money we'd just live with the condition of the floor, whatever that might be. If it was bad, we could always throw down an area rug. But the wood turned out to be pretty worn and stained. Covering all the stains would have required multiple rugs, which might have cost as much as refinishing the floor of the 300-square-foot room. So I called our wood floor refinisher David and asked him to refinish the floor for us.
It was a small job, so he managed to squeeze it in during his busy pre-holiday season.
He came over the following Monday for the first round of sanding. Everything went well.
Then he returned on Wednesday for a second round. He plugged his sander into the outlet and started working. The sander was probably the most powerful tool we'd ever plugged in upstairs, but it was a residential-grade machine David bought at Home Depot. It was designed to work with a standard 120-volt outlet.
About halfway through his sanding work that afternoon, he came downstairs.
"I just blew a fuse," he said. 
"I'll go turn it back on," I said.  
David hesitated. 
"OK, but can you come upstairs first? I want to show you something."
We went upstairs. 
"Do you smell something burning?" he asked. 
"Not really." The air smelled like a freshly sanded wood floor – if you've never smelled this, it's like a mix of sawdust and burned wood. 
"I definitely smell something burning," he said. 
"Maybe it's your machine overheating or something."
"No," he said, "I don't think so."
David traced the smell to the small closet in the TV room. We looked inside and at first didn't see anything. Then I looked up and saw an orange glow at the top of the closet, where the wall met the ceiling. 
As soon as I pointed out the glow of fire to David, we leapt into action. 
I ran to get two fire extinguishers from our kitchen. My husband Steve happened to be working from home that day, so he jumped in to help. David quickly extinguished the fire. 
For a few minutes, we thought we were in the clear. 
We weren't exactly sure how to proceed, but we knew we needed an electrician's input, and soon. Luckily, an electrician lives two doors down from us. So I ran over to his place. He wasn't home from work yet. 
When I returned to our house, Steve said we needed to call the fire department just to let them know what happened and to be sure the house was OK. 
They sent a truck over a few minutes later. When the crew went upstairs, they felt the wall and said it was hot. Using a thermal imaging camera to search for heat above the ceiling, they were able to locate smoldering insulation in the attic. They busted through the ceiling and found smoke near two burned out electrical tubes and the insulation surrounding them. One of the firefighters squirted water into the attic with a small hose (probably attached to a hand-pump extinguisher – I was too distracted to notice) and put out the fire. 
Here's a short video of their work:

An hour and a half later, after proclaiming that the fire was completely out and the house was safe, the fire fighters left. We called our insurance company  to start a claim and cleaned up some of the mess.
Though the house smelled of smoke and half the upstairs power was out, the house was safe enough for us to remain at home.
Safe, yes, but comfortable, not so much. Every time I walked past the area I had to look at this image:
It was a pretty unnerving sight.
Several days later, after coordinating plans with our insurance company and contractors, reconstruction of the room is about to begin. The repairs are supposed to take about a week. 
I'm so thankful that soon we'll be able to move on with our lives. And I'm thankful that we averted a much bigger disaster. 
Right after the fire happened, I felt anger and frustration at the destruction of my house. I'd spent months with my home in disarray while we demolished our kitchen floor and then waited for it to be refinished. Finally – FINALLY – the house was coming together. Once David was done with our TV room floor, I would have been able to put in place our brand new couch (delivered two hours before the fire but not in the room at the time) and we'd be done with home improvements for a while. 
Well, you know what they say: the best laid plans of mice or men often go astray. The lessons here are that you control nothing in life, and that as bad as things might seem, others have it much worse. One of my sisters wisely said that a small crisis like ours makes you realize how much people lost during Superstorm Sandy. I've lost so little by comparison.
And what have I gained? Perhaps our own lives and the lives of our children. Perish the thought of this electrical fire happened by some other cause in the middle of the night. The fire could have destroyed our entire home, or worse. In that sense I think we are all thankful that the fire broke out when it did, in the way that it did. So my rash decision to rip out carpeting on the heels of another huge flooring project might have actually been fated. 
I'd like to think that, anyway.

Friday Morning Music

Friday Morning Music, Iron and Wine, Long Black Veil, Perfectly Good Guitar

I've always loved this folksong.

Turn-up the volume for this cover of the late 1950s tune - Long Black Veil.

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Deer Camp 2012

Big Bucks, Cowboy Junkies, Das Furz Haus, Deer Camp, Gourmands, Hunting, Mauser K98, Perfectly Good Guitar, Outdoors, Scott Walker Deer Management

Thursday, November 15th

Saint Peter stood at the Pearly Gates of Heaven as three men stood in line waiting to enter. 

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What’s Your Rate of Return?

There is a way to increase your rate of return in today’s economy! Invest in your trees to guarantee a strong rate of return on your tree capital investment and enhance property value.

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Friday Morning Music

Friday Morning Music, Grateful Dead, Sugar Magnolia

Crank-up the volume on your workstation PC for this toe-tapping classic.

The Grateful Dead and Sugar Magnolia! 

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First do no harm - a call for a culture of kindness

Personal, Hope, Kids, Neighborhood

Our flags are at half-staff and our hearts are broken.

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Leave No Tragedy Unexploited

Culture, Firearms

After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.

-William S. Burroughs

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Friday Morning Music

Friday Morning Music, No Depression, Uncle Tupelo

Start your weekend with this toe-tapping gem from Uncle Tupelo.

Remember them?

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Snow Hunting

Deer Hunting, Winter Sports

Anybody that tells you winter bow hunting isn't any fun doesn't know what they're talking about.

It probably helps that I'm one of the rare types that actually relishes the thought of being outdoors in the cold and snow.

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Merry Christmas

Gas Pains

The staff here at Gas Pains wants to wish all 82 of our readers a very, merry Christmas. 

While we don't celebrate Hanuakkah or Kwanzaa - happy those too!  

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Record-setting Trees

  • One of the tallest soft wood trees is the General Sherman, a giant redwood sequoia of California. General Sherman is about 275 ft or 84 m high with a girth of 25 ft or 8 m.
  • The 236 ft or 72 m high Ada Tree of Australia has a 50 ft or 15.4 m girth and a root system that takes up more than an acre.
  • The world's tallest tree is a coast redwood in California, measuring more than 360 ft or 110 m.
  • The world's oldest trees are 4,600 year old Bristlecone pines in the USA.

Trees and the Environment

  • Trees renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
  • The amount of oxygen produced by an acre of trees per year equals the amount consumed by 18 people annually. One tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year.
  • One acre of trees removes up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
  • Shade trees can make buildings up to 20 degrees cooler in the summer.
  • Trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.
  • Tree roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
  • Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water, as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds.
  • The cottonwood tree seed is the seed that stays in flight the longest. The tiny seed is surrounded by ultra-light, white fluff hairs that can carry it on the air for several days.

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Friday Morning Music

Friday Morning Music, Perfectly Good Guitar, Son Volt, Tear Stained Eye

It's the start of the last weekend of 2012.  If you like Uncle Tupelo.  You're also going to like this number from Son Volt.

Tear Stained Eye...

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Choosing not to put fear first

Officer Sebena, domestic violence, fear, gun control

The bustling season has settled into a soft couch with a fuzzy throw at my house, and she has substituted Pandora Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Station for National Public Radio. There are  no terrible voiced prophets spewing frogs of doom, warning about the lack of brakes on the truck they are driving, gas pedal down, to the fiscal cliff.

Still, my thoughts keep turning to slain Wauwatosa police officer Jennifer Sebena, to the slaughter of innocent children and their teachers before that, to all the terrible things that happen near and far. To all the stories we hear that support our false impression that terrible things happen more than non-terrible things, that the only way to keep them at bay is with guns. Stories that make us forget that most of the terrible things that happen to us are things like cancer and lost love, things guns can't control.

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Heavy hearts still filled with hope


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Prank or Legit?


For the last several months or so we local bloggers on the Tosa homepage have been battling a bad case of the crud.  All you have to do is read the comments.

Yes, just like a pernicious case of jock itch or athlete's foot all you have to do is share your credit card with the sweaty, slave laborer from Putian City, Fujian Provincial Network Of Unicom and he will send my friend Christine McLaughlin a Sinful short_t-shirt_woman $16 direct from 

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