Monday, July 30, 2007

Another pension scandal?

Yeah. Good luck with that 1¢ tax increase.

I really want this to go to referendum, though. First, as there's no chance of public approval, it will send a message. Some have said it would go down 80-20. I think that's optimistic, but, who knows? Second, it would be an election year and it would get on record those who support this increase. Those who can't seem to think of any other way or means to get the county budget in line. Raise taxes to save taxes. Yeah. That'll work.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Do you remember?

My daughter does something I remember doing after watching a movie. Particularly if she really liked the movie, she'll continue it in her mind while going to sleep. She's awakened on a few occasions to tell me that she was thinking about how the movie she watched would continue. I remember doing that. I'd like a movie so much that I'd be disappointed it came to an end . . . or would want the story to simply continue.


Ok. Dorky time over.

Greatest Movie of All Time

This comes up in conversation every now and then, right? Favorite movie, actress . . . worst . . . I was channel hoping tonight and came across The Dirty Dozen. That is a great movie. While not everyone's cup of tea being a war movie and all, it still has to rank up there on anyone's list of great movies. I have to admit, I tend to like modern movies more than old. But, this is a classic. It's very watchable by today's standards. What a cast! Simply a great movie!

Lindsay Loser-han

As opposed to Paris (particularly) and Britney, this girl has talent. She can sing (moderately well . . . she's no Hannah Montana!), she can dance, and she can act (I know, debatable). I've held out hope for her for a long time because she does have talent and it seemed, at one point, she was trying to pull herself together. Unfortunately, what she does share in common with the other skanks is that she's an attention whore. Big ego, thinks she can do no wrong because she thinks she can get away with it. The other thing she has in common with her fellow skanks is that she's a train wreck just waiting to happen.

So, after her last drunken car crash she heads to rehab. Comes out all sober and ready to take on the world again. She's pictured having water at parties. She's also placed on probation and given one of those ankle thingies to wear to monitor your alcohol intake. Well, the train wreck just might have occurred. She's arrested, again, charged with DUI and with having drugs. Apparently, after drinking heavily at some party, she got all in a huff because one of her assistants quit on her. Well, she commandeers an SUV and takes off after the, now, former assistant. The SUV belonged to a guy at the party who was there with two other friends. They're all in the car.

Well, to keep this short, she's led to a police station. Cops come out, investigate, and arrest her. She told the cops "the black kid was driving, and that the pants she was wearing that had the drugs in them weren't hers. She flunked the sobriety test. The three guys tell a different story, of course. All of which puts her in very big trouble.

Anyway, I'm done. Have been for a while. But this really nails it. Again, it's too bad because I think she had (maybe still has) a real future as an actress. I'll be interested to see how her new movie fares. Good luck, Lindsay. You're going to need it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A penny here, a penny there . . .

The County Board approved a referendum for a one cent increase in the Milwaukee County sales tax. They say the money will go to parks, transit, property tax relief, and to the municipalities for file and police aid.

Good luck with that.

Of course, proponents claim it's a way to salvage everything from apparent total colapse. As one supervisor put it: "In the balance is the quality of life in our county, If this is not the answer, what is?"

Well, how about better money management? How about eliminating pork spending? How about getting benefits and pensions in line? How about cutting the size of government?

How about saying "no" every once in a while?

What makes me cringe about the budget, tax increase, and such is that it's always the repsonsibility of the taxpayer to solve the problems. Which always means more taxes. The oneous is never on spending or the spendee. Or controlling spending. Or even cutting spending. Nope. Just raise taxes. Get more money. Nevermind using that money wisely.

What's particularly stupid about the increase is that you're just column switching. OK. Maybe my property taxes go down $200 a year. But, I'll pay that much more for a car I buy. And everything else, of course.

The other thing is, being a county tax, many people will simply go outside the county to buy things. Particularly if they're high price items. Sort of defeats the purpose of the tax hike, doesn't it?

At least it's going to a referendum. I'd be shocked if it passed. In fact, I predict it will do down with 65% opposed. Maybe 60%. There are some who will believe the hysteria. Interesting thing about this: this will come up in an election year. Perhaps not the best strategy? Particularly in light of a contentious state budget?

Thanks, FDA . . . no EPA . . . no both!

Thanks, in part, to the global warming alarmists, my asthma inhaler is now a CFC-free device. No big deal, really. It's just that on my prior insurance plan it cost me $10. With my current plan it would have cost $8. But, no. Because CFC-free MDI's (metered dose inhaler) are new, they're all brand name and now cost $25! Now, I understand the whole CFC thing. It's good we've eliminated its use for the most part. But an MDI puts out a grain of sand on a California beach equivalent of CFC into the atmosphere! Once again, in their attempt to help, the government actually hurts us. Asthma is widespread in lower socioeconomic areas. Partially due to allergies to cockroaches and rodent feces. So the ruling really hits this class hard. Sure, it may point to why we need universal healthcare . . . but we don't have it now . . . and people are suffering because they can't afford simple medications. I'm not quite sure who the bigger genius is . . . the FDA, or the EPA?


We knew this would happen. The Geico cavemen have their own show. You know, it might be real funny . . . but I doubt it. And it's too bad. This has been a good ad campaign for Geico and could have gone down as one of the greatest along side Miller Lite Taste Great - Less Filling ads, the Budweiser frogs, and others. This is similar to Saturday Night Live skits becoming movies. Few . . . VERY few of them wind up being funny. So, we'll see. I just don't see it working.

What to ride, what to ride . . .

So, if the city decides to go in to the bike rental business . . . won't that compete with the electric trolley plans?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Reading is fundamental

Maybe more so than people think. I read to my daughter. I have for as long as she's been able to sit in my lap. She loves it. It SOP at bedtime and it's a great way to just have quiet time . . . as well as a good activity when the weather ain't so good.

I've been noticing something, though. Because of my daughter, I know a lot of other little kids. Some are good. Some are . . . spirited. Lately, when I've talked to other parents I ask about reading. It's easy to do with Harry Potter, Judy Moody and other books that are so popular. It's not an unusual topic to bring up. What I've been finding, though, is that the more . . . spirited the child, the less likely the parent is to be reading to them. Now, I'm sure if you Googled this topic you'd find all kinds of information on this so I'm not claiming to be on to anything, nor am I trying to stereotype parents and their kids. This is simply an observation.

It makes sense, though. First, from young on you teach a child to, if nothing else . . . relax! Sit in one place and be quiet for a little while. Don't get me wrong, I love noisy children. The noisier, the better. I know they're having fun. But, there is a time to calm down and relax. Even if not in the house, when you go out, whether it be to eat or another person's house.

Second, it trains them to pay attention. This is important. Be it for your own communication with your child, or an eventual teacher that will want their attention in school.

Third, it builds vocabulary. This clearly shows itself in kids. Those who are read to or like to read have MUCH better vocabularies than those who don't read or aren't being read to.

Fourth, it aids the imagination. We all know this. It's one thing to see it on TV or in a movie. But it's another to read a book.
An imaginative child knows how to have fun . . . no matter what.

Lastly, I think it helps build the bond between you and your child. After all, it's just you and her/him. Your time. It shouldn't necessarily treated as a "treat", but it should be special.

I like to engage my girlie after we read. If we're reading a chapter book, I'll ask her to bring me up to date on what happened since we last read. As if to be the dumb daddy (go ahead, make your jokes). Other times we'll simply discuss a book once we've finished it. As I'm sure it is with other parents, I'm amazed at my girlie's retention. Not surprisingly, she does well in school.

Like other parenting responsibilities, however, this takes time and a commitment from a parent. While I can be put off by a child's behavior, I rarely blame the child. This is something I feel can go a long way in a child's life. So read, read early, and read often.

Boing boing boing

What is the attraction to bobble heads? They never really look like whoever they're supposed to be, they don't have any collector value that I'm aware of, and they're just kind of stupid. What am I missing?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Leaking off

I hate plumbing. I can do it, I understand it, but I hate doing it. I imagine doing a new house rough in would be fun, but any work on an existing system, particularly an older house, sucks. Big time. First, it always takes longer than you planned. Partially because of the "3 rule" . . . three trips to the hardware store. Invariably you forget something, measured something wrong, or break something. Usually, all three. More than that, though. It's messy, stinks, and requires one to contort themselves into positions not covered in the Kama Sutra.

Again, I can do it and am generally successful at it. This past weekend, I replaced our bathroom vanity. Any DIY'er knows this isn't a tough job. You do have to disconnect both the plumbing supply and waste. Again, no big deal. Taking things apart are almost never a problem! I get to turning on the water to test for leaks. Hot and cold supply . . . good! Drain . . . good! Then where is this drip coming from?! The seal at the bottom of the sink! !(^$*^!#(*!@!

So, with perfectly good connections, I have to take the drain apart again to re-seat the drain pipe at the sink bottom.

Just when my back was feeling good, again.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"Sit down!"

As one might imagine, there were a number of people of Italian descent at Festa. In relation to a post I made about people standing at concerts . . . I sat in the eighth row near the edge for the Dennis DeYoung concert. It was a perfect seat for what I could get 20 minutes before the show. Well, as always happens, when Dennis came out everyone stoop up. No big deal, you expect that. After the first song you expect everyone to settle down and sit down, though. Nope. In fact, a bunch of people started standing on the bleachers. Well, that didn't sit well (pun intended) to a large group of 60-somethings sitting in front of me. The women proceeded to beat . . . yes, BEAT the people with whatever they were holding to get them to sit down! YEAH! I was cheering them on! They had a bit of clout as a few of them were talking the Dennis' wife before the show. Who, by the way, is beautiful up close and . . . wow, rather endowed. Nice work, Dennis!

Anyway, from that point on while the front few rows stood throughout the concert, the rest of us enjoyed the show in a perfectly good seat . . . sitting down.

Victoria Beckham

Is anyone else completely sick of this girl already? What is the deal with her and her husband? You'd think dignitaries from another planet were coming here! And I hate the way she looks . . . that stupid haircut, up to there skirts, fake boobs, and that same look . . . all the time! I heard she essentially told Paris to take a flying leap so she's got a few points going for her. But everything else so far is making me crazy. And David? It's soccer! Who cares?!?! Talk about overexposure!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

There is no Styx

Without Dennis DeYoung, that is. For virtually every group, there is a foundation that exists that defines their sound. This varies from group to group. For Van Halen, it was certainly Eddie himself. He did virtually all the writting and was responsible for that Van Halen sound. While having a hack certainly didn't do the group any favors (Cherone) there was still the under lying sound that defined Van Halen. Without question, Dennis shaped the Styx sound and character. He split from the group some time ago due to creative differences and under much tension. There are bad feelings on both sides. I'm not going to tell the whole story other than to say that both sides have legitimate issues. But, the bottom line is this: there would be no Styx without Dennis DeYoung. I doubt anyone would have heard of Tommy Shaw or Jimmy Young . . . or their music. Dennis had (and still does) a very successful solo career. Does anyone know that JY and Tommy Shaw had solo careers? Dennis performs his act with symphony orchestras. JY played TA Verns. Pretty sure the crowd was there for wet t shirt night.

Anyway, I saw Dennis at Festa Italiana last night. I went by myself as my wife and daughter went up north to visit some friends. First, it was a perfect night. Second, I've seen Dennis a few times before, but this had to be his best performance yet. He didn't play with an orchestra, nor did he include his Hunchback singers. It was just him and the band. Glen Burtnik was a special guest. Glen played on the Edge of the Century CD. Well, he . . . they . . . rocked. I swear, it was as thought there was a conscious decision to make everything heavier! The ballads were still ballads, but the rock stuff . . . would rival Creed in their day. It was an incredible performance.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Did I mention she was 7?

The other day I'm goofing around with my daughter Jamie. Of the many qualities I love about her is her sense of humor. She really has a good sense of her own humor . . . and gets mine. At one point she tells me: "Oh, you're just being sarcastic!".

She was right.


During that same goof session, Jackie tried cracking a joke. After a slight silent pause Jamie tells her: "All I hear are crickets, momma."


Then, the other day she tells me that one of the things we share in common with monkeys are our "opposable thumbs".

Did I mention she was seven?

A perfectly good seat . . .

I didn't make it to Summerfest this year. A variety of reasons. No loss. There will be plenty of future opportunity. I have been there many times in the past and my wife went this year a few times. In fact, she and her sister went to see John Mayer the night he played. Now, all discussion about why anyone would want to pay money to see this bore aside, she brought up an issue that has always baffled me. Why do people, with perfectly good seats . . . and up away from the stage . . . insist on standing throughout the concert? My wife's sister stood through the entire show! She said she had to because everyone else was standing and wouldn't have been able to see. OK. I can accept that. So, if you have seats that allow you to see without having to stand . . . why do it?!?! No offense . . . well, maybe a little . . . but especially at a John Mayer concert?!?! It's happened to me in the past. At Summerfest and other concerts. Fortunately, I'm usually around other people who think it equally as strange as I that someone finds it necessary to stand when they clearly don't have to and have joined me in a verbal assult of the morons. In the case of the Mayer concert, I guess everyone suffered from the same intelligence depletion.

That may explain why he has so many fans.