Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jamie and I are parents!!

Well, not really. Our dwarf hamsters, we discovered, had babies!

I was giving mama some food and water and noticed some distinct scratching coming a pile of bedding . . . while the mama was on the other side of the cage! We have a boy and girl. But, they been separated now for a few weeks having been together for about a week or so. I guess they got biz-zay! Obviously. Anyway, sure enough, I pul a little of the bedding aside and, whoa! babies!! About five of them! They're so cute!

Anyway, this brings up a few issues. Once the babies get to about 4 weeks, they should be separated from mommy, and separated gender-wise, so as not to have more babies. This means two additional cages.

Well, we've got a few weeks yet just to enjoy the babies before we have to come up with a plan. We'd like to keep a baby. Nothing better than to be able to raise one right from birth. But, we'll deal with that when the time comes.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Platinum Dance Team

Here a video I shot of the Platinum Dance Team and cheerleaders of the Milwaukee Iron arena football team. The first girl you see was HOT! But, she wasn't a part of the dance team so spent most of her time in the endzones where I couldn't get a close shot of her. Oh well. Of course, they're all hot in their own way. THey're cheerleaders!

Funny thing, though. Right after they performed, some champion level junior high squad came out to perform. I didn't video tape them as I thought I'd look a little creepy . . . and just didn't think to. But, they were awesome! Jackie and I thought the Platinum team's routine was kinda lame. I missed it, but the tallish, cleavagey one had her butt fall out of her pants. I think you can hear Jackie point it out to me.

Anyway, the Iron lost 86 to 42. So, the saving grace was the cheerleaders.

Here a link to the full resolution video.

Fishing with your children

As often as we can, we (Jackie, Jamie, and myself) spend a day at Mauthe Lake in northern Kettle Morraine. It's really a perfect spot. It's not that far, the lake doesn't allow gas motors so there's no noise or smell or recreation craft, the beach is nice, there's a playground, there's a concession stand, there's a general store nearby, there's boat rentals . . . it's perfect. Often we get there by 11:00am and come home at 11:00pm.

We also fish. WHile one can rent a boat and either row or use an electric motor, one can have a lot of fun fishing from shore. There is a fishing pier, several areas to fish from shore, a boat dock, and a dam area. All of these areas offer good fishing.

If you know what you're doing.

I'm no professional. I used to be more avid about fishing years ago. While I still enjoy reeling in a keeper size largemouth, it's really about having fun. As such, there are a few things I know that help keep fishing interesting for my daughter and who ever is with us. For them, it's simply about catching fish. Sure, they'd love to catch a BIG fish, and can. But, there's a little savvy to it with setting the hook, and I usually outfit them with ultralights. Not that it would be impossible to catch a decent fish on an ultralight, I have, but for a kid success could be fleeting.

Anyway, I can't tell you them amount of times we've gone fishing and have been the only ones catching fish. Seeing other kids with their dads, mostly, watch my daughter reel in fish after fish . . . it makes me kinda sad. Here's the thing, when you fish with your children, it's not about you. Especially if you had a litter of kids. Which, to me, is more than two. You're gonna be busy with the kids and likely won't do a lot of fishing. If you're fishing from shore, you're probably not going to catch any trophy fish anyway, so spend some time with your kids. Second, outfit them properly. That doesn't mean you have to use a SpongeBob fishing kit. Though, some of those kits aren't bad. But, it also doesn't mean outfitting them with gear guaranteed NOT to catch ANY fish. Here's a tip: don't use a bobber the size of a softball and a hook the size of a coat hanger, then stick on a worm on that and expect it to work. If you really want your kids to have fun, get them an ultralight rod. Put a small pencil bobber on it, a small hook, a weight, and then use chunks of worm or meal worms for bait. Guaranteed your kids will have fun. Hook a good sized rock bass and it will feel like they hooked a northern.

Now, word about proper beach attire . . .

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bicyclists and bike laws

THe new law requiring drivers to check for pedalers when exiting their car is stupid. Mostly because it places the blame, in the case of a collision, on the driver. This is simply unreasonable. Why?

First, I'll be the first to admit people are morons when it comes to opening their car door and exiting their car in traffic. They don't look. Or, think nothing of their act and figure people will just stop or go around their door. There's a stretch along 68th street off the freeway where this happens DAILY.

Sounds like I'd be in favor of the law, huh? Nope. Many such laws are enacted to protect. Driving 3 feet away from cars when on a bike, giving right of way to pedestrians, yield signs, all of that, all designed to protect. The open door law doesn't do that. And, here's the thing, the biker will always lose. Always. As such, the burden of safety falls on the biker. Driving along a row of cars without any awareness of the threat of injury is stupid. Again, the biker will always lose that confrontation of door and bike.

Jay Weber made the point some time ago that streets were built for cars. He's right. In most cases, roads are designed for travel by car. There's room to park and room for cars to travel. They aren't . . . weren't built with bikers in mind. Maybe that should change. Whatever. If a bike is on a road that is primarily used for cars, then the bikers bears the responsibility for his/her own safety on that road.

I feel this way as I'm riding my bike now more than ever. Me vs a 2 ton moving piece of metal and glass? Sorry. I'm moving over. I'm yielding to the greater force. I ain't testing no law of physics! I don't even care if I have the right to be where I am, drivers are stupid and inattentive. No law will actually protect me from serious harm should I become inattentive on my bike.

My car vs my wife's car.

I have a Caravan. I love it. I fell in love with the mini van years ago when my parents bought one. They literally bought a model the year they were introduced by Dodge. Now, I had always liked vans in general, and always wanted one. The mini van was nice because it; offered more window view than some vans, drove more like a car, and wasn't overly big. What I like about them is that you sit up a little higher than in a regular car, and they're roomy. Also, with a little adjustment you can haul LOTS of stuff. AND, they're great in the winter.

On the point of hauling, my wife and I have often taken advantage. Be it huge TV's, carpets, lumber, appliances, kids, whatever, we really like that you can go from seating 7 people to hauling camping gear for a small army in a matter of minutes.

Before getting her Vue, my wife has owned a small sedan. We occasionally swap cars if she has a need for the capacity. Of course, this is all well and good but I've often gotten my car back smelling of plants, fertilizer, and/or some kind of fast food.

Now, I'm no weirdo when it comes to my car. It gets me where I want to go, it's comfortable, and it's utilitarian. I don't obsess each scratch or stain or over all appearance. I've got better things to do. But, something peeved me some this past weekend.

My wife was doing a landscaping project for the neighborhood. As such, she needed to pick up plants and such for the project. I expected her to ask to use my car as it's older, but she didn't. If anyone has ever seen her car you know very well she's also not one to obsess over its looks. So, it came as a bit of a shock when I went to help her load some items to find she had lined every square inch of the cargo area with carpets and plastic tarp! Then, when she gets the small tiller we own she wants me to wrap the business end in a large garbage bag to keep the dirt contained!

GIrlwithanewcar says what? Excuse me? I couldn't believe it! She took more time and care to make sure she didn't "dirty" the inside of her car than she did to actually load it with the stuff she needed.

I see how this works.

Actually, she did redeem herself. She had to haul away all of the extra turf, roots, and shrubbery from the area she worked on and used her car for that. While she did try to contain the mess with boxes, dirt did get all over the place. So, I guess I can't be too critical.

She's likely at the car wash getting it all clean today, though.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Zoo Interchange

I've gotten in to a few debates about the interchange project. Because of the cost of the project, there's some sentiment that it shouldn't be done, or that it should be scaled back . . . a lot. A few thoughts on some of the misguided arguments.

First, we need to start at some intersection of information, if you will. A few things we can agree on. One, our freeway isn't very efficient thanks to the decisions made in the 60's of not finishing 41 and providing a northern bypass. A direct quote from the Director of the DOT: "And because Milwaukee only built 60 percent of the freeways that it originally planned for . . . "

We're a little lucky in that we don't have far to go east. Still, when you look at other cities, Milwaukee's freeway system is very under built. You can argue we're not that big and that it may not be necessary to have bypasses all over the place. Fine with me. That also means we don't need trains of any sort.

Second, the system is old. As such, it's inefficient in many areas. The Zoo interchange is one of those areas.

Third, the interchange gets a lot of traffic. A lot. It wouldn't be very responsible to ignore its needs from both a maintenance standpoint and a repair standpoint. Considering how much traffic travels through the interchange, it's not well designed.

Now, let's also do away with some other issues. First, comparing the Zoo interchange with the Marquette interchange. Let's keep in mind that the Zoo interchange is in the proposal stage and that the cost of the Marquette interchange is now known as it's finished. Even with the MI, developers revised original plans to make the project more "community friendly". What ever that means. The project also came in under budget. As far as I'm concerned, the MI isn't perfect, by any means.

Point is, you simply cannot compare one interchange project with another.

As for some other issues . . . one being that it won't decrease travel time much. That the amount of money being spent for 5 minutes is crazy . . . First, no one is making any great claims about reducing congestion and travel times. I've made the argument that by increasing lanes you'd obviously decrease congestion . . . at least, to a point. But, no one made any great claims about the MI, and no one is making any great claim about the ZI. Much of the reconstruction is simply about repair, and as long as we're repairing let's make it as better as we can.

Costs and lack of government money. Who cares? We pay an incredibly high amount of tax specifically for the purpose of our roads. I want to see that money spent on improving our roads!

Affordability. Talk to Doyle. Better yet, get him out of office. He's been raiding the transportation fund for years and is mostly to blame for any lack of ability to pay. Plus, while I'm certainly the type of person who doesn't like to see government spending money it doesn't have no matter what, I'm not sure why we're so concerned about this now with this project. Wasteful over spending is the new pink! Plus, plus, at least this project is worthy. To me, anyway. Fact is, maintenance needs to be done. The project includes road issues that extend way beyond the interchange itself in all directions. A such, yes. That makes the project more costly than just maintenance on the interchange would cost. It becomes a decision of practicality. As long as we're breaking ground repairing the interchange, address the other issues right away. Doing so actually reduces the cost over waiting until later to start another new project.

Here's a great line: It will improve safety, but not much else. Well, people's safety certainly isn't important. Deaths, accidents, injuries . . . non of those things have a cost associated with them. Pffft. You call that a reason?

We have alternatives. Well, no we don't. Ask someone who lives in Sussex, Butler, west Menomonee Falls . . . heck, even the northwest side of Milwaukee what those alternatives are. Congestion on the streets is no treat. It's been proven that getting to where you need to be quickly is better for the environment and pollution. One might might to poo poo the 5 minutes, but it was Obummer himself who said we'd save millions in barrels of oil is we just keep out tires properly inflated. He's not wrong. It was a stupid argument against drilling, but the statement isn't wrong. That 5 minutes times 35,000 cars times 250 days equals a lot of pollutants saved.

Taking the streets, however, would add plenty of time to a person's commute, increasing pollutants even more. More than that, though, I, and many others, simply do not want to add to their commute time if possible. I'd rather spend that time with my family. And if improvements can be made to help shorten my commute time . . . even 5 minutes makes me all the happier about commuting to and from work.

Lastly, I love the ". . . people should be sensible enough to live closer to where they work." That is such a disingenuous and shallow argument it's practically retarded. You know what? I wish that, too! Gee, I never thought of that! I'll just give up 10 years of tenure, 4 weeks of vacation, 10 years worth of raises, working at an established successful company just so I can be more "sensible" about my proximity to work.

Again, the ZI project is in the proposal stages. While I would love to see the plan proceed as it's being presented, it will likely change. So too, could funding. Doyle may not be ruler much longer. With a new Governor, changes in the economy, we could well see help from the feds with funding. It is an interstate, after all. More to the point, we can't turn our backs on repairs and safety just because we don't feel 5 minutes is worth the money spent. It's much more than that. Increasing efficiency reduces areas of congestion which reduces accidents. Which, contrary to what some might believe, have real costs.

People's lives are worth it.

"I said, It's Your Time!!"

An Italian woman who arrived late for the Air France plane flight that crashed in the Atlantic last week has been killed in a car accident.

Johanna Ganthaler, a pensioner from Bolzano-Bozen province, had been on holiday in Brazil with her husband Kurt and missed Air France Flight 447 after turning up late at Rio de Janeiro airport on May 31.

All 228 people aboard lost their lives after the plane crashed into the Atlantic four hours into its flight to Paris.

The ANSA news agency reported that the couple had managed to pick up a flight from Rio the following day.

It said that Ms Ganthaler died when their car veered across a road in Kufstein, Austria, and swerved into an oncoming truck. Her husband was seriously injured.

OK, I don't want to laugh at tragedy. This is horrible, no question. To go from being the luckiest person alive one day, to the most unluckiest the next . . . I don't know . . . it's so outrageous it's difficult not to make light of it in a fatalistic sort of manner.

I'm sorry, Johanna, God said.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

I'll make an exception . . .

I've said that I'm not a proponent of capital punishment. First, in this country, it's a fustercluck of a process. Second, I simply feel taking another person's life intentionally is wrong.

But . . . I've also said I'd make exceptions. Here's an exception:

A 17-year-old Terrytown man was arrested on charges of aggravated rape and first-degree murder of an 8-month-old child Saturday afternoon, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said.

Arnold T. Ross, of 136 Friedrichs Road in Terrytown, was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Facility. No bond is available on the first-degree murder charge.

Ross was arrested after officers responded to a call of an unresponsive infant at 1656 Gary Court, Apt. B, near Gretna.

The infant, Da-Von Lonzo, was taken to Ochsner Westbank where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, according to a release issued by Col. John Fortunato, a spokesman for the sheriff's office.

The death was initially unclassified, but the Jefferson Parish coroner's office later reported it as a homicide after an autopsy of the child's body revealed multiple fractures consistent with a beating and tears in the anus.

Ross, who said he was the boyfriend of the infant's mother, initially told detectives that the baby fell down the stairs while he was babysitting, Fortunato said. But a neighbor reported hearing loud noises coming from the apartment, and investigators noted inconsistencies in Ross's account.

Ross later admitted that he beat the infant repeatedly when he would not stop crying, Fortunato said. When the child began to defecate on himself, Ross said he tried to clean it up, causing the tears, according to the release.

Ross has a record of previous arrests for possession of crack cocaine and marijuana, obscenity, battery on a correctional officer, three counts of battery on a teacher, three counts of theft, illegal carrying of a weapon and assault

I want this guy in the chair.

Monday, June 01, 2009

I like Pink

The performer, that is. From The Sun:

"I was at STELLA McCARTNEY's Paris fashion show with the vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PAUL McCARTNEY and Kanye West.

"The entire time Kanye is going, 'They need more fur in this show'. He just wouldn't shut up about how he loved fur. I mean, he's saying this to me, the PETA guy and Paul McCartney! I was just so grossed out by him. I'm like, 'You're an idiot!'

"There are so many people who I think are a waste of skin and he's up there. I should wear him. Go on, donate yourself Kanye. People can wear your fur."

Just how dumb does one have to be to talk about fur at a PETA function?

Kanye West dumb.