Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday 12-24

In the spirit of the season, I thought I would tell a story about how I learned the dirty little secret about Christmas. I can imaging parents rushing to their radios to shut them off before I can go on--but don't worry Moms and Dads--I'm not talking about that secret. I'm talking about the other dirty little secret--that the toy your want so much as a child--the toy that you think will make life perfect--and the toy you think you can't live without--will turn out to be a big old piece of junk.

The toy that taught me that lesson was Super Electronic Football. For those not familiar, Super Electronic Football was a tabletop football game that included little plastic players on little plastic bases that would move around the metal field with the flip of a switch. I can still remember the TV ads that ran during the Saturday morning cartoons showing boys my age completing perfect passes to little plastic receivers and little plastic guards executing sweep plays that would have made Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston jealous. Remeber, this was in the pre-Madden video game era--where kids actually went out to play football in the yard or they used their imaginations in tabletop games.

I included Super Electronic Football on my wish list for probably two or three years until that magical Christmas Day when I was ten years old that the flat, rectangular box finally showed up under the tree. Oh the excitement I felt that day--imagining my team running a wide open offense like the Air Coryell attack of the San Diego Chargers and dominating defensive schemes like the Steel Curtain in Pittsburgh.

Once we were done with breakfast and visiting the Grandparents houses on Christmas day, I was finally able to play my beloved game. Well, I guess play was a bit of an overstatment--because first you had to assemble everything. That included breaking each of the players free from the little plastic tree and sliding them onto their little plastic bases. Then you had to stick the little plastic numbers on them. And why were my players yellow and green? Was this a sinister subliminal message to a child of a Packer Backer family who hated the Pack because they were a bunch of losers?

Anyway, I finally got the players all set up--and the little brown foam football punched out of its perforated sheet--and was ready to play. I set up the little kicker guy--snapped his leg into the ball--and watched the little foam football soar into the brown pile carpeting that just happened to be the same color. I don't remember many NFL games being delayed as officials and players looked for balls that went off of the field--but game one of the Jonathan Krause Football League was in a lost ball delay after the opening kickoff. After brushing my hand over the entire living room floor a dozen times hoping the ball would pop up out of the carpet I finally gave up and punched another one out of the sheet.

GAME BACK ON!! I carefully set up my offense and defense for my first play: a fly pattern bomb to my wide receiver--who would have one-on-one coverage down the sideline. The players are set--the imaginary crowd is roaring--and I throw the switch to put the field in motion. What followed more closely resembled the LA Riot than NFL football. The primary receiver just kept turning in circles as half the offensive linemen fell on their sides and the quarterback decided to head for his own endzone.

Obviously, I needed to adjust the little wheels on the bases of all my players. After a quick adjustment, some of the players actually went where they were supposed to. I flicked the quarterback's arm--and watched the little brown foam football soar into the pile carpeting never to be found again. In fact that was a fate met by all twelve of the little brown footballs in less than a week--forcing my players to use little fragments of the brown foam that was left over from the perforated sheet.

I never did figure out how to get any of the players to go where I wanted them to go--no matter how many times I adjusted the dial in their bases. That became a moot point after I leaned on the thin metal--putting a permanent crease in the field that attracted all of the players on all of the plays. It was just a matter of weeks before the toy I could not live without found a permanent home in the back of the closet.

Don't worry my faith in Christmas was restored the next year when Caleco introduced Head-To-Head Football. Sure the "players" where little red dots on a screen--but you couldn't lose the ball in the carpet. It also taught my parents another dirty little secret about Christmas--batteries are never included.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday 12-22

An article in the Business section of Sunday's Chicago Tribune showed that we are nowhere near learning our lessons from the credit crunch and the economic downturn. The article detailed how businesses catering to teenagers have been largely unaffected by the recession.

Stores selling "teen fashion" like The Buckle saw an increase in sales and profits during the third quarter--unlike many other retailers--including discounters like Target and Kohl's. The article also pointed out that sales of IPods, IPhones and other personal electronic devices have seen little dropoff in sales--despite the difficult economy.

What was most distressing in the article were the interviews with parents who refused to cut back their spending on their kids--despite a loss of income or higher prices for necessities like food and utilities. One mother didn't want her teen to know that the family was struggling--and how it was important they still have "cool" clothes like their friends. The first line of the story quoted a teen who didn't even know what the word "recession" means.

Isn't this how we got ourselves into this mess? Keeping up with the Joneses...spending money we don't have...placing priorities on material things instead of the basics? Now that the chickens have come home to roost--we still live in denial. And continuing to send the message that "you deserve everything you want as soon as you want it even though we really can't afford it and we are mortgaging your future to get it for you" just keeps us spriralling further into the abyss.

You know how everyone complains that schools don't teach enough about personal finance? Well here's a terrific teaching opportunity for parents in their own homes. "Son/Daughter we don't have as much money to spend--or we are no longer going into debt to buy you junk that you don't really appreciate anyway. If you want the latest electronic gizmos or gas for your car you can go out and get a job to pay cash for it."

There were a few teens quoted in the story as saying they were cutting back on their spending--if only because their parents were giving them less. Apparently, they weren't able to find anyone in The Buckle or the IStore who said they were putting all of their money toward paying for college. That's an answer that would have shown some hope for the future generation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday 12-17

I would like to put my name into nomination for the vacant Senate seat in Illinois. I'll admit I don't actually live in Illinois, but if it helps my cause, I could always rent a little place just over the Wisconsin border for a few weeks. How long did Hillary Clinton live in New York before she was elected to the Senate from that state? Two days? I'll even lie and say I'm a life-long Cubs fan if that helps my cause. And since it appears big bribes won't be necessary to get the seat--I think I can afford to apply.

While I'm applying for new jobs, let me announce I'm also interested in the open Senate seat for New York as well. Yes, the weekend commute back here would be arduous--but I am ready to serve however I can. If it helps my cause in New York, I'll even change my last name to Kennedy--it seems to work for everyone else with that surname.

I'm also putting my name into consideration for the open Senate seats in Delaware and Colorado--and any other seat that might open up as President-elect Barack Obama fills his Cabinet and White House staff with Washington insiders who apparently are not responsible for the mess in which we currently find ourselves. Maybe this is why we elect so few Senators to President--because it takes Senators away from several other states as well.

Whereas states have nice clean succession plans if a Governor leaves for Washington--having a seperately-elected Lieutenant Governor ascend to the position--the procedure for replacing a Senator is anything but democratic. What would Illinois Governor Rod Blagojovich have done if Obama's replacement was elected instead of hand-selected by him? Would Caroline Kennedy be so "strongly interested" in a Senate seat if she had to conduct a campaign and publicly answer questions about her stances on important issues?

Fighting Bob LaFollette must be spinning in his grave hearing that backroom negotiations and deals are putting people into the US Senate again. Why did Bob and the Progressives fight for the direct election of Senators during the early 1900's if we are just giving them away now? With as many as five open seats to be appointed this winter, we are seeing the greatest disenfranchisement of the voters since post-Reconstruction southern Democrats passed all of those election laws to keep blacks away from the polls.

I understand the expediency of having a governor appoint a replacement Congressmen--but I wouldn't trust Jim Doyle to pick the other four guys for my basketball team at the YMCA much less one of the two people representing me in the Senate. Although, I'm not sure how the two Senators we currently have represent me--but that is a Two Cents for another day.

The only positive I can see coming from the current system would be if the governors appointed non-millionaires to the vacant Senate seats. Given the rising cost of running elections for these seats--and since most incumbents can self-fund their campaigns--Jonathan the Radio Guy would have no other hope to aspire to the job. Maybe some "regular folks" going to Washington would return some sense to the "Millionaires Club" in Congress.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday 12-09


I'm checking to make sure the snowthrower works properly in October next year.

Is it a snowthrower or a snowblower? In reality, it doesn't "blow" snow at all--it throws it. There's no fan in there. Why do so many people call it a snowblower then?

If global warming is the reason we didn't get much snow for about three or four winters earlier this decade, how can it also be responsible for heavier snow the last two Decembers? We have the expert from the National Center for Atmospheric Research on the air today saying just that. More moisture in the atmosphere due to evaporation of the oceans.

Wait a minute, more evaporation of the oceans? Aren't they rising so fast that they threaten to flood out every major coastal city and island? Do the global warming alarmists assume we just forget everything they said last year when they find a new crisis about which to "warn" us?

I sure hope no one is driving down my street the rest of the winter while I'm pulling out of my driveway--since I won't be able to see them behind the 7-foot tall piles of snow in the terrace. The city is clearing those piles from the downtown areas--it would be nice if they made one pass in "the 'hood" to give us somewhere to put the rest of the "global warming snow" we are going to get the rest of the winter.

I wonder if I'll see kids out building snowmen or snowforts during this day off for them. Or will they all be inside making Wii snowmen and Wii "sledding" on those motion-sensitive pads. More likely, they'll just spend the day texting each other from home instead of texting each other from their school desks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday 12-02

I sure hope the people who trampled that worker to death at a New Jersey Wal-Mart last week have a really happy holiday season. I hope that when the "giftee" opens up that present the "gifter" absolutely had to buy Friday morning--at the cost of a human life--they fondly recall the memories of stepping on a fallen man and crushing the life out of him.

I wonder if somehow those shoppers have justified their actions in their minds. "Yes a man died--but they had an eight-megapixel camera for just 65-dollars. You can't expect me to lose out on that deal just because some guy can't get out of my way in time!" Or maybe they think "It's not my fault the guy's dead--he's the one who decided to work at Wal-Mart on Black Friday." The most sensitive of those shoppers likely just assume "He was probably dead by the time I stepped on him."

I wonder if those shoppers will tell the gift-getter the circumstances surrounding that present? "I almost didn't get that DVD player for you--because some guy got crushed by the crowd and the manager wanted to shut down the store so police could question us about our role in his death--but I went through the express lane and snuck out through the grocery exit." Will the person getting that gift think "Wow, my sister must really love me if she was willing to kill someone to get me the perfect gift"?

While we didn't have such an incident here in our area--I'm sure there were plenty of ugliness in the stores last week. Did you maybe snap at a clerk just because the "doorbuster" you wanted sold out before you got to the display? Did you shove another shopper out of the way to get to an item? Or maybe you just cursed out everybody in your way under your breath. You're probably not proud of yourself and you realize that's not really the "spirit of the season"--but hey, at least you didn't kill anyone.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday 11-24

It's ironic that just a day after I lauded golfer JP Hayes for disqualifying himself from PGA Qualifying School for discovering he used an un-approved ball we got a reminder of real heroism.

Three Neenah Police officers are credited with rescuing two handicapped women from their burning apartment building last Friday. Those are the people we really need to be applauding and honoring. Officers Zuehls, Obrey and Baumann ran into the thick smoke and carried out the women--who likely would have been overcome by the smoke and could have died before fire crews arrived on the scene.

My Two Cents blogsite is usually overrun by anonymous postings criticizing public employees--usually about their salaries, benefits, or vacation times. But how much should the officers have been paid for what they did last Friday? Did they stand outside the building telling each other "rescues from burning buildings are the responsibility of the fire department--it doesn't say anything about breathing all of that smoke in my union's contract"? No, they went in there immediately and saved two lives.

When we talked to some of the officers on Friday, they wanted to deflect any glory--saying they were just doing their jobs and that it wasn't anything special. I disagree. In an era when "celebrity" is the top career goal of kids (I kid you not, that was the top response in a recent USA Today poll of grade school kids)--we need to highlight the actions of the brave people who serve us every day. Thank you for all you do.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday 11-20

You won't see much of Appleton native JP Hayes on the PGA Tour next year. Hayes was eliminated from Qualifying School last week for a penalty he called on himself. Hayes was in the second stage of Q School in Texas when he noticed a ball he had put into play was not the same model with which he started the round. Hayes initially called a two-stroke penalty on himself at that time--in accordance with the rules of golf.

But after returning to his hotel following the round, JP took a closer look at the ball and found it was not on the list of those approved for play on the PGA Tour. Now remember, JP is by himself--nobody associated with the Q School, the Tour or any of his fellow competitors know about the rules violation and yet Hayes went to officials the next day and disqualified himself for using illegal equipment.

Don't think JP isn't going to suffer for this small act of honesty and honor. This season, the 125th ranked player on the PGA--the last to enjoy fully exempt status--made just under 826-thousand dollars. If Hayes had made it through Q School, he would have been fully exempt next year. Now he will have to hope for sponsors exemptions and Monday qualifying to make it into any tournaments on the Tour.

I wonder how many people would have had guts, the fortitude or the honor to make the same decision JP Hayes made last week in that hotel room? Think about it, would you give up the possibility of nearly a million dollars a year to come clean about a very minor transgression? I doubt there are many out there (probably mostly golfers) who would do that.

And JP is handling the situation with poise and class. In an interview last night with The Golf Channel, JP took full responsibility for using the illegal ball. He didn't blame the USGA for having a rule limiting what equipment can be used on the course. He doesn't think the PGA is being unfair for requiring players to go through qualifying to get on the Tour, he's not throwing his sponsor under the bus for giving him an un-approved ball to practice with, and he's not asking Congress for a bailout. JP Hayes says he has only himself to blame and he had to hold himself accountable. What a refreshing change in our society today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday 11-14

College basketball is already underway, and if you haven't seen one of the pre-season tournament games you may be unaware that the three point line has been moved back this season. The three is now a 20-foot-9-inch shot--and probably should be moved back another foot or two. I hope the WIAA will follow suit and move back the line at the high school level as well--because the distance now is bad for the game.

People who have seen me play ball would be surprised by this opinion, because the three is a big part of my game. I drained four of them last night in our rec league. But the 19-foot-9-inch three pointer has been as responsible for the decline in the quality of American basketball as Michael Jordan and the "And 1 Streetball Tour". The glorification of Jordan in the 1990's brought on the age of the one-on-one game--where it was all about breaking down your man and trying to dunk over the top of him. The And 1 Tour's television popularity has led to the worst ballhandling habits in the history of the game. Kids copying the "Killer Crossover" and around the back dribbles look at you like you are from another planet when you call them for palming the ball or double dribble.

The too-short three has also changed the game significantly--but not for the positive. I was ecstatic when the three came into the game when I was in high school--because it gave us guards more value on the floor. Too bad our coach hated it and stuck with his offensive philosophy of pounding it into the post and shooting from 15 feet and in. Unfortunately, the three has completely taken over at the lower ranks of basketball--as even the big kids want to step out and drain it from long range.

I was at the dedication of the new basketball courts at the 20th Avenue YMCA last month. As soon as the ribbon was cut and the other festivities were done the kids stormed the floor to start using the baskets. Nearly every one of them stopped at the arc and started launching 'em. Even the little kids that could barely get it halfway there. They would just grab the ball and run back to the line and come up way short again. When I ref grade school tournaments on weekends you see entire teams running their offense around the three point shot--and these kids are ten or eleven years old.

I play ball with a couple of guys who went through high school before the 3-point shot was adopted--and they have beautiful mid-range games. They are deadly from 15 to 19-feet because they were never tempted to step back another couple of feet and launch a three. You hardly see anyone with that kind of game at the high school or even college level anymore--got to get that extra point from a few feet farther back.

That's why the NCAA should back the three-point shot out to 22-feet-9-inches and why the WIAA should move the arc out to about 21-feet. I doubt many coaches would encourage a lot of kids to launch it from that distance--and would reward those who can still stroke it from back there. And for the little kids--lie and tell them that free throws are worth three--we need more players who can make free throws.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday 11-11

A happy Veterans Day to all of those who have served this country. We all owe you a big "Thank You" for your efforts--whether it was in a time of combat or not. There seems to be some confusion over the basis for today's holiday. I cringe everytime I hear an emcee or public address announcer ask the crowd to remember those who were killed in the line of duty on this Veterans Day. Today is for all of those who put on the uniform. Memorial Day is for those who lost their lives.

Having just completed the process a week ago (it's only been a week?) I think we should move Election Day to Veterans Day. What better way to honor those who served by exercising our most sacred democratic right? Unfortunately, that would require an amendment to the constitution and might not be worth the effort. I'll still add it to the Jonathan Krause Calendar Change Proposal.

For those not familiar with the Calendar Change Proposal, it includes making Super Bowl Sunday a national holiday, making the 4th of July our big gift-giving holiday--since that date represents something we can all celebrate--and making June 1st New Year's Day so we don't have to bundle up to go out for a night on the town. Actually, nearly all of the major holidays would move to the summer in order to take advantage of the nice weather.

Back to the main point today...thank you to my Dad, several of my uncles and my great-uncles for their service over the years. It's because of them and all vets that I get to speak my mind for two minutes a day without repercussions. Until the Democratic Congress tries to re-instate the Fairness Doctrine--when we would have to give two minutes to someone who disagrees with everything I say. I bet you can't wait for that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday 10-28

The WIAA football playoffs begin tonight all across the state. Last year at this time, I went on a rant about how too many teams make the playoffs (214)--forcing kids to play three games in 11-days which increases their risk for injury. I still hold those beliefs--even as the WIAA considers expanding the playoff field even further.

This year I thought I would sing the praises of what I like about high school football: the incredible variety. This is especially true on the offensive side of the ball where this year alone I have done games with teams running the T formation, the flex-bone, the double wing, fullhouse backfield, Power I, pro set, spread and spread option. If you travel to the UP you would find teams running the single wing and the wing T--dinosaurs walking among us. About the only offense I haven't seen in a while is the true wishbone. I think coaches can't stomach the idea of their quarterbacks throwing forty pitches to running backs every night.

I like the great variety of players you see on the high school field as well. I've seen teams play with a 180-pound center lining up against a 265-pound defensive lineman. Where else can a five-foot-five running back dominate a night, or a 185-pound middle linebacker that hits like a 250-pounder?

Now if we could just find more kickers. There's no reason half the teams I've seen this year should have an offensive lineman kicking straight-on in the 21st century. Or having teams go for it on fourth and ten at the opponents 15-yard line because no one can make a 33-yard field goal.

So why not take time to catch a high school football playoff game the next few weeks. The price is usually less than five bucks. You'll see stuff that long ago went away on Saturday and Sunday games. And there will be more of them than we need this week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday 10-22

I may choose to go to the Fond du Lac City Council meeting tonight to voice opposition to the workplace smoking ban. That is if I finish up painting the nursery with some lead-based paint I found in the basement and chose to use instead of safe latex paint they make you buy at the store now. I think I'll also choose to drive to Fond du Lac in my Dad's 1965 Corvette Sting Ray--that runs on that leaded gasoline they won't let you buy at the pump anymore.

On the way there, I think I will choose to drive at 125-miles an hour--and I will choose to do so while traveling right down the middle of the road. And if anyone gets in my way--I will choose to pass them on the shoulder. You don't like it? Hey, there are plenty of other streets you can drive you know.

I'm probably going to be hungry, so I will choose to stop at a Bar and Grill to get something to eat. Since it's getting a little chilly at night, I will choose to park in those blue handicapped parking spots right next to the front door. To wet my whistle, I will choose some moonshine brewed in a still out behind the bar. I'd hate to have to pay extra taxes on my liquor. Maybe I'll get my order from a bartender who chose not to get a license from the city. And I hope he'll choose to serve me a glass that wasn't washed after it was used by the last customer.

To eat, I'll choose an order of Buffalo wings that the cook chooses not to cook to a proper temperature--who needs to worry about salmonella? And I hope the manager just dumps that used deep fry oil down the drain--and not into a grease trap. I also hope the kitchen staff chooses to let the Bleu Cheese dressing sit out on the counter for several hours before putting it in the little cup. Then I will choose to have pork chops for my entree--but extra rare--in fact cold in the middle. Trichinosis? What's that?

After supper, I'll choose to head over to the Council meeting. To save time, I'll chose to drive in a straight line--right through other people's yards.

Once at the City Council chambers, I'll choose to cut in front of everyone else waiting in line to speak to the Council. In my speech I'll choose to use profanity and maybe make a few personal threats aginst the councilmembers if they don't see things my way. And if anyone else speaks in favor of the smoking ban--I'll choose to punch them in the mouth. If you don't want to get punched in the mouth, then don't go the Council meeting.

When the cops come to haul me away, I will choose to remain silent. It's my right you know.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday 10-08

So how did you enjoy your Sunday without the Packers game? Based on the outcome, most Packers fans probably enjoyed not being able to witness what was going on. I know I didn't miss it one bit--what with playoff baseball, NASCAR, regular season hockey and the Cowboys game being on CBS. How about that, hockey was on tv in Northeast Wiscosnin and Packers football wasn't. The shoe really does fell better on the other foot. The only disappointment for me was missing the season premier of Family Guy on Sunday night. But not to worry, it will be repeated endlessly in the spring or in syndication.

In fact, I may not miss Fox TV until the World Series starts in two weeks--and then I can still listen to it on ESPN radio. So after that, who really cares if Fox is on cable or not? Outside of sports and the Sunday night cartoons, what does the network have going for it? American Idol? Please, I can get bad karaoke at half the bars in Oshkosh every other night.

The real issue here is: should cable subscribers pay for something they can get for free using a pair of rabbit ears or a roof-top antenna? Lin TV--Fox 11's parent company wants some money for re-transmitting its signal over Time-Warner. Some accounts have it being a penny a person a day, others have it at three-cents per subscriber per month. Either way, it's a cost you know Time-Warner will pass along to its customers.

I'm sure you're thinking "we already pay for a bunch of garbage stations already (i.e.: the five home shopping networks, the informercial channel, EWTN), what's a few more pennies a day to get Judge Judy?" But it's really the principal of the thing. These over the air channel are free--but they now want to charge you for them. If all the ESPN channels, Fox Business News, Fox Sports Wisconsin and The Golf Channel were all free and over the air, I wouldn't even have cable.

So hold firm Time Warner, the Fox 11 blackout hasn't deprived us of anything important yet--probably won't.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday 10-03

Whatever happened to real political debates in this country? I tried to watch the Vice Presidential candidates "debate" last night--but the format continues to bore me. "I'll say my carefully-crafted, well-rehearsed position statement--then you recite your talking points and then we'll move on the next topic." BORING!!! Town Hall Style debates are even worse, as the candidates stumble around the stage with their hand-held mikes trying to look like they are comfortable without a podium and a tele-prompter in front of them.

Here's my proposal: let's have one of the debates run like the ESPN talk show "Pardon The Interruption". For those who aren't familiar, PTI features Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon arguing over sports topics with a time limit on each issue and no moderator. There's even a handy "rundown" along the side of the TV screen to give viewers an idea of what's coming up next. They read e-mails from viewers, play the roles of athletes using "Heads on Sticks" and take sides in "Toss Up" questions.

My "PTI Debate" would start with the two candidates arguing the five biggest issues of the campaign. And note the term "arguing" meaning an actual exchange and response and even interruption of each other. Look for comments like "are you insane, 700-billion dollars for people who don't know how to borrow money?" and "Did you just say 100-years in Iraq?" When the rundown clock hits zero--they get the bell and it's on to the next topic.

Segment two is viewer e-mail. Each of the candidates take turns reading the questions and then they get four to five minutes to argue again.

Section three "heads on sticks". "Governor Palin, you are Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmidinijad. You want to destroy Israel and the US. Tell us why you fear the election of John McCain as President." Or: "Senator Obama, you are your wife Michele. She says she was never proud of America until you were nominated for President. Defend your girl."

It would be great. Real debate and argument about who is the better candidate--and in a format that today's two-minute attention span viewers would appreciate. And nobody from PBS in sight.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday 10-01

As the Milwaukee Brewers prepare to play their first playoff game in 26 years, I can't help but think back to 1982. I turned 10 years old that summer--the perfect age to have your team go the World Series. I remember a huge snowstorm and cold snap that went through the state the week of Opening Day--and how it seemed we would never be able to play ball outside.

For my tenth birthday I got a new aluminum baseball bat, a new Bill Madlock signature model Cooper baseball glove--and tickets to the Brewers game the next day at County Stadium. The whole family went along--including my grandparents. Mike Caldwell started for the Crew against the Indians on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in July. We had lower box seats down the first-base line. I even remember it was the NBC Saturday Game of the Week--so there was a national audience as well and a real electricity in the stadium. The Crew fell behind early, rallied late and Rollie Fingers came out of the bullpen to close it out. Even my mother got into the "ROLL-IE, ROLL-IE" chant. The win put the Brewers into first place for the first time all season.

The rest of the season just rolled from their. Unfortunately, I missed out on one of the greatest moments. My parents had a strict "in bed by 8:30 on a school night policy"--so I didn't see the Ned Yost homer over the Green Monster to beat the Red Sox and go up three with four to play. Maybee that's why I had such dis-like for Ned as a manager--it was really an unresolved issue with my parents.

Anyway, I sure didn't miss Robin Yount hitting two homers off Jim Palmer to pull it out for the Crew on the final Sunday in Baltimore. I can still remember being nauseous I was so nervous before that game. I can also recall sneaking a transistor radio and earpiece to school on the Friday of Game Three of the ALCS against the Angels so I could listen at school and on the bus ride home. The Brewers almost had their own Steve Bartman--as a fan in left field reached over the railing and took a fly ball out of Ben Oglivie's glove--giving the Don Baylor a grand slam that almost cost the Crew the game.

Right now, my wife is going nuts because I can remember all of these little details about sporting events that happened 26-years ago--but I can't remember to put out the garbage on Wednesday nights without being reminded every week.

Game Five of the ALCS will always be the high water mark for the Brewers franchise. Charlie Moore throwing out Reggie Jackson at third, Cecil Cooper telling the ball to "get down" in left to drive in the winning runs, Rod Carew grounding out to Robin Yount to end it, all the fans on the field. I'm getting a little choked up just thinking about it.

In a way, I was lucky the Brewers made the World Series when they did--because that was still when they played day games in the Series. That meant I got to watch all of games 3, 4 and 5--because they didn't start at 8:00. It also meant the Crew was ahead in Game Seven when I was sent down the hall. Don't tell my parents, but I actually laid with my head to the door that night listening to Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola describing the Cardnial comeback (thanks for nothing Bob McClure) and Gorman Thomas striking out to end it. I'm not afraid to admit, I cried after that. I just couldn't imagine they would lose.

And now they haven't been back since--until today. I always like to give you predictions--so here's mine for the Phillies series: Philadelphia in four. Sorry.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday 9-26

Some short takes on sports today:

Eric Gagne is making it very difficult to boo him nowadays. The whipping boy of the Brewers porous bullpen has been public enemy number one after blowing several games early in the season--while making a team-record ten-million dollars this year. But yesterday, Gagne won over many fans by purchasing five-thousand tickets for last night's game--then giving them away to fans for free. While the 50-thousand dollars it probably cost him to buy all of those tickets is pocket change for someone making ten-million dollars--it's still a very laudable act. Then Gagne goes out and pitches a scoreless inning of relief (after entering the game to a standing ovation). How are you supposed to boo a guy that comes through for the fans like that? We may actually miss his ten-million dollar butt next year.

CC Sabathia may not make ten-million dollars, but he is earning every single penny the Brewers are paying him this season. CC is in the final year of a contract the Crew acquired from Cleveland in his mid-season trade--and will likely get somewhere around 20-million a season on the free agent market this winter. But the Big Guy is putting all of that cash at risk by buying into Dale Sveum's "Desperation Rotation" strategy and agreeing to pitch on only three day's rest the last two weeks of the season. CC's agent has reportedly told the team to stop treating his star client like a rented mule--but Sabathia has told him to shut up, because he wants to make the playoffs with the Brewers. I think the Brewers should demand a federal bailout program to keep CC in the fold for another few years. It would do us here in Wisconsin more good than bailing out AIG.

Finally, it's unfortunate the Brewers won't be able to play at "home" for the final three games of their playoff push. A trip to "Wrigley Field North" this weekend to take on the Cubs will probably keep them from making the post-season. I hope the Brewer fans who sold their tickets to the Northside Numbskulls can sleep okay knowing they gave up their team's home field advantage for a bag full of gold coins. Maybe Eric Gagne can buy back all of those tickets and give them away to real fans.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday 9-22

Just a few notes from the Cowboys-Packers game at Lambeau last night.

I couldn't believe how many Cowboys fans there where at the game last night. As I was walking in the parking lot there were a couple of tailgate parties featuring only fans wearing the blue star on all of their clothing. I also noticed quite a few Tony Romo jerseys in the stands all night. Does the "Golden Boy" have that many friends and family members coming to the game? Just how do visiting team fans get so many tickets from "loyal" Packers fans?

Can we officially bury the "mystique" of Lambeau Field as a difficult place to win on the road? I thought it was dead when Michael Vick and the Falcons came in and won in the playoffs a few years ago. Then the Giants win in the bitter cold and the Cowboys get their first "W" ever in Green Bay. Maybe they made the place "too nice" during the renovations.

I was glad to hear the "Bring Brett Back" crowd dominating the call-ins during the post-game shows. They all agreed, the Pack would have scored at least 35-points if "Favre was quarterback tonight". Never mind the fact that Favre would have been sacked eight or ten times--and would have been picked at least two or three trying to force passes in to covered receivers.

How good is Jason Witten at tight end? Big one-on-one blocks during several long runs and one of the Cowboys touchdowns--a handful of clutch catches on third downs to keep the sticks moving--no showboating after a catch. If anyone plans to get me a Festivus gift this year, I'll take an authentic "road" jersey with number 82 and "Witten" on the back.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday 9-16

I'm sure some of you are expecting me to gloat today about the firing of Brewers Manager Ned Yost. I'm not going to do that. Nobody should celebrate someone else losing a job. I think even the most ardent Ned-hater didn't really want him to fail--because that meant the team as a whole had to fail. I thought it was too late in the season for a change at the helm to actually work--because your only managerial options would come from the same coaching staff that didn't have the team ready play in any of these games in September. And that is what we are getting in interim Manager Dale Sveum.

I find it interesting that General Manager Doug Melvin admitted the Ned firing is an act of desperation--looking for something to shock the team back in to playing winning baseball. I think the same thing could have been accomplished by cutting Eric Gagne, or designating Rickie Weeks for re-assignment or announcing that Jeff Suppan will not start another game this year. I also get the feeling that the decision (or order) to let Ned go came right from owner Mark Attanasio--who has dumped a lot of money into a team that may be flushing it all down the toilet this month.

So what difference will Dale Sveum make on the final two weeks of the season? I guess we will find out tonight in Chicago. If Rickie Weeks swings at the first pitch he sees and pops out--then nothing is going to change. The same applies if Prince Fielder drops the first throw to first base that comes in below his knees--or if Mike Cameron strikes out three times or if Jason Kendall grounds into a pair of double plays with men in scoring position and one out.

The one good thing about this week's decision is that it finally sends a message to the young stars on this team that losing will not be tolerated in any way. Gone are the days of "we competed hard and things just didn't go our way tonight"--or celebraing a winning record like its just as good as a playoff berth.

I still don't think the Brewers recover to make the playoffs. The fatal flaws in personnel are still there--and can't be addressed until the off-season. They would include: finding a leadoff man who can get on base consistantly, a better grasp of the fundamentals like catching the ball, throwing the ball on target and not running into outs on the basepaths. A pitching coach that teaches pitchers to pound the strike zone instead of trying to nibble around the corners until you fall behind in the count and have to lay one down the middle that average hitters club 500-feet for game-changing home runs. A lights out closer and some reliable set-up men would also go along way toward fixing this year's problems.

There may not be hope for this year--but 2009 at Miller Park is already looking brighter.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday 9-8

The Green Bay Packers kick off their first post-Brett Favre season tonight. Here are my game-by-game predictions for the year:

Week 1 at home against Minnesota. Despite all of the concerns about starting an untested Aaron Rodgers the Packers still win this one tonight. Let's not forget that the Vikings are starting an injured Tavaris Jackson at quarterback.

Week 2 at Detroit. The Lions looked as pathetic as ever in getting run over by the Atlanta Falcons yesterday. I'll take the Packers in this one as well to move them to 2-0.

Week 3 versus Dallas. Here's where the Packers find out just how far they are from the elite teams in the NFL as the 'Boys roll into Lambeau and just destroy them. I'll even give you a score on this one: 38-10.

Week 4 at Tampa Bay. Panic sets in in Titletown as the Packers lose two in a row. Even with Brett Favre, the Pack has never played well at the "New Sombrero".

Week 5 versus Atlanta. The Packers get back on the winning track by crushing a pathetic Falcons team with a rookie quarterback and weak defense.

Week 6 at Seattle. This is Mike Holmgren's final season with the Seahawks--and they give him a measure of revenge against his former employer.

Week 7 at home against Indianapolis. Some might think there is hope--since the Colts lost to the clueless Bears at home last night. But I think that was due more to the rustiness of Peyton Manning--who missed the entire pre-season due to minor elbow surgery. Peyton will be up to full speed by this time and the Colts will roll the Pack. That puts Green Bay at 3-4 heading into the bye--probably good enough for second place in the NFC North--just a game behind the Vikings.

Week 9 at Tennessee. Panic begins to set in at 1265 Lombardi Avenue as the Pack loses again to fall to 3-5. Tennessee is just too tough at home.

Week 10 at Minnesota. By this time, Tavaris Jackson will be hurt again and who knows who will be starting for the Vikes. Adrian Peterson will likely be hurt as well. Plus, you won't have the Brett Favre Metrodome Curse hanging over the Pack this time so Green Bay gets a must win on the road.

Week 11 back home against Chicago. Last night notwithstanding, the Bears stink and should be fighting with Detroit for last place by this time. Packers win at home to get back to .500.

Week 12 at New Orleans. If the city of Nawlins is still above water by this time, the Packers should make it three in a row by knocking off the Saints.

Week 13 at home against Carolina. I had this in the Packers win column before the Panthers went on the road to beat San Diego yesterday--without Steve Smith. Now, I'm not so sure. I'll still buy into the Lambeau Mystique and give Green Bay the win in this one.

Week 14 at home against Houston. The Texans stink--so make it five in a row for the Pack. That sould probably move them ahead of the sinking Vikings for first place in the North.

Week 15 at Jacksonville. The winning streak ends here as the Jags pound the Pack into submission.

Week 16 at Chicago. The Bears will be starting their four different quarterback of the season by this time and should be in shambles. The Pack wins this one easily and solidifies its playoff position.

Week 17 at home against Detroit. You really think the Lions are going to win an outdoor game in late December? The Packers win to finish the regular season at 10 and 6--good enough to win the NFC North by a game over the Vikes.

Playoffs: The Packers lose another home playoff game to the Defending Super Bowl Champion Giants. Fans are comforted by knowing the Jets--with Brett Favre--didn't even get within five games of making the playoffs in the AFC.

I should point out all of these predictions are based on Aaron Rodgers defying the odds and actually staying healthy through the entire season. If he goes down on the fourth snap of game one the Pack will be lucky to win four games.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday 9-03

Back in April, I set out a list of goals for the summer--a set of "resolutions" if you will that I was finally going to meet. Today, I'll see how well I did.

The first resolution was to play 60-rounds of golf. According to the Wisconsin State Golf Association's handicap index site, I have recorded 43-rounds so far this season. Obviously, I need to pick up the pace here in September and October.

The second resolution was to put the top down on my Jeep Wrangler as much as possible. I know I haven't met that one. Too much rain in June, too many days with valuables in the back (golf clubs) the rest of the time. I've got the windows out right now--so that's pretty close.

I resolved to put a thousand miles on the bike this summer. I have to admit I'm at least 900-miles short of that goal. I guess we should have moved farther away from work. And everytime I went up north, I golfed instead of trail riding.

I resolved to make as many meals as possible on the grill. That one I think I met. Consider that I fired up the Char-Broil to make three hot dogs last night.

I didn't quite meet the next reolution--not to get a sock tan or a farmer tan. As my wife will attest, you could call me "Boots"--given my lilly white feet. And my nice tan ends at the shoulders. They just don't let you go around shirtless and shoeless at the golf course.

I didn't spend any more time than usual at the parents' cabin. Too many weekend golf tournaments. Four-dollar a gallon gas didn't help either. With high school football on Friday nights and Badger games on Saturday--I won't be making any more trips up there this year.

My final resolution was a success. Not once this summer did I complain about it being too hot. Of course, this week was the first time we saw the high side of 90 all summer--so that one was easier than usual.

Hopefully you can look back at your summer and not have to wish you had done more to enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday 8-19

I had the chance to play golf the past two days on one of those "residential" golf courses with the big houses down each of the fairways. A number of them had "For Sale" signs in the yards--even though the development is just a few years old. While others in my group marveled at the size and amenities of each house I kept asking "Who is going to be the next buyer of that house?" And everyone agreed it wouldn't be any of us.

Some of the group is upside down on their current home and wouldn't even be able to get enough to pay the mortgage off if they sold right now. Others admitted they couldn't afford to pay the rising electricity, heating and property tax bills for homes that big. And others like myself see absolutely no need for house with that much space, toys and expense.

But I wonder whose buying a lot of the stuff that we have accumulated over the last few decades. Heading up north you see a lot of boats and cottages for sale. I'm sure the people trying to sell still owe on them and can't afford the payments anymore--so sitting on those items really isn't an option. And what about all of the full-size SUVs that no one wants anymore due to higher gas prices? If you--the person paying three or four-hundred dollars a month on the loan payments--can't afford the gas, how can someone who can't afford gas or the payments buy it?

So I hope mister "house on the golf course" enjoys watching me slice a few into his backyard. I'm guessing he won't be seeing any other return on his investment anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday 8-13

Can we get a perspective check on the Olympics please? I know NBC paid more than a billion dollars to broadcast these games--but can we be spared the hype and "fakery" that have marked this year's broadcasts?

We can start by losing the "GREATEST OLYMPIAN EVER" campaign on behalf of Michael Phelps. Yes, he is now the all-time medal winner and is setting world records every time he gets in the pool--but are his efforts any greater than those of Carl Lewis--who was part of four Olympic teams and won running and jumping medals in three of them (and would have made it four if not for the idiocy of Jimmy Carter and his boycott)? Or Jesse Owens--who not only set records at the Berlin Games--but also ran with the added burden of having to prove Hitler's theory of Aryan racial superiority was a load of crap? Or Al Oerter who won gold in the discuss in four straight games? And that doesn't even consider the thousands of athletes who competed for other countries--who apparently don't exist in NBC's universe--except as foils or antogonists to the US "heroes".

The next step would be to show something other than gymnastics, swimming and running in primetime. It would have been nice to see how three Americans swept the medals in trap shooting this week. I'll grant you, they aren't cute little girls wearing skimpy outfits or young guys with sixpack abs wearing swimsuits--but they kicked butt nonetheless.

And finally, we can stop faking the "pageantry" of the games as well. NBC admits the spectacular fireworks display for the opening ceremonies was actually digitally enhanced by computer to look more impressive. And the Chinese organizers now admit they put a different little girl on stage to lip synch a song during the ceremony--because the girl who actually sang it "wasn't cute enough". As our reporter Kevin Backstrom said--Milli Vanilli will now be part of the closing ceremonies.

So let's return the Olympics to what they really are: great athletes playing great games. It's not like Brett Favre is out there requring this level of hype.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday 8-11

I've been meaning to talk about something I saw at an Appleton grocery store a couple of weeks ago--but haven't had the chance. The wife and I are picking up a few items and walking past us was a mother pushing a cart with a heavy-set boy--who appeared to be about eight or nine years old--who was riding in cart, watching a handheld d-v-d player. The missus and I stopped--looked at each other--and then back at the boy-filled cart again.

To me, that scene summed everything that is going wrong with parenting today. Here is a child who should be more than capable of walking along with his mother in the store, riding in the cart. And--to be polite--he could have used the small amount of exercise that would have required. On another pass in a different aisle I noticed there weren't a lot of fresh fruits and veggies in the cart around the kid. The next time I hear a new study that finds obesity rates among children continuing to increase--I will think of the boy in the cart.

Now let me say that if the child had some kind of physical condition that prevents him from walking or standing--then I owe the mother an apology--but this boy wasn't wearing any braces--and wouldn't you think a wheelcair or electric cart would be a more proper way to get the child around then throwing him in the cart?

And the watching of the hand-held d-v-d player was significant as well. The mother and child were going to be in the store for what, a half-hour--maybe 45-minutes at the most. You're telling me an eight or nine year old can't go that long without some form of electronic entertainment? I couldn't see the screen and he had earbuds in so I couldn't hear what he was watching--but for some reason I doubt it was Reading Rainbow, Modern Marvels or something else educational. The next time I hear about how more kids are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder I'll think of the boy in the cart.

I can already hear the responses to the Two Cents blog: "I can tell you are not a parent--because you don't know how hard it is to keep kids under control in the grocery store." And you are right--I don't have kids--but I was a kid once. And I know for a fact that I didn't ride in the cart beyond three years old--I didn't watch t-v while in the store--and when I got out of control my parents made sure I knew who was in control. Whether it embarrassed me or them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday 8-08

The wife and I made the mistake of sitting in our lawn chairs at Waterfest last night. That meant we weren't right in front of the stage--and actually got to see what goes on at the Leach Amphitheater Thursday nights.

I know there have been complaints about the creation of a VIP section for Waterfest (which was not set up last night)--but I think the time has come to create special sections for lots of different people.

Section One--right in front of the stage--would be for the hardcore fans of the bands playing. I'm talking about those who know the words to the "new" songs every group plays--even though they haven't had a hit album in 20-years--and will pay attention to the music all night. I think the artists would like it--as they feed on the energy of people actually paying attention to them on stage and groovin to the music. This section will also have a Leinie Lodge so we can have some real beer to drink.

Section Two--a bit farther back--would be for the bad dancers. The only way these people know how to enjoy the music is to put their bodies in motion. It's badly out of rhythm and looks more like seizures than real dancing--but it's dancing to them. If we put them all together, the only people they will be bumping into will be each other.

Section Three--and probably the largest of all the sections--would be for the "I'm just here to drink beer" crowd. Obviously, this is where we would put the concession stands to save everyone a few steps. Probably a good idea to put the bathrooms in this section as well. Nobody in this section really cares about the band on stage--except for when they encourage everyone to raise their cups and slam the rest of their beer. WHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Section Four--the designated talking zone. This is for the people who spend most of the show with their backs to the stage, yelling at each other trying to be heard over the music. If it helps, we could put up a sound barrier to make it easier to understand what your friends are saying.

Finally, Section Five--the cellphone zone. We'll enclose this section in soundproof walls and put a cell antenna on top so everyone can get great reception. Think of the convenience as you can actually hear what the caller is saying without having to cover your other ear and yell into the mouthpiece. We'll even set up a video screen that you can film with your camera phone and make it look like you were right up front.

All of these sections will be surrounded by a running track--for the "I just walk around all night looking for people I know" folks. Think how much more ground you can cover without having to weave between all the rows of people trying to actually watch the show.

As for me and the wife, on the nights we are at the Leach, you'll find us in section one.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday 8-07

I have always considered the Edmonton Oilers of the mid to late 1980's as the "greatest power play in history". Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Kurri and Anderson all on the ice with the man advantage--they were unstoppable. But now, the two man team of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy are making a run for the title with the way they handled the Brett Favre "retirement".

At any point did you feel that the Packers had lost control of the situation? Sure, Brett tried to gain the upper hand by going to the national media and pleading his case and claiming he was lied to and trying to get the fans all riled up--but Ted and Mike never panicked. From day one they were consistant: Aaron Rodgers is our starting quarterback, Brett Favre left this team and he's not going to just waltz in the week before training camp opens and expect to run the show any more. They blocked Favre from the practice field and put him on the spot to defend his decision to come back. When Brett couldn't give them good reasons to be back in Green Bay, they basically let him write his own ticket out of town.

The coup de gras came in the way Thompson handled the eventual trade. He didn't give into the "Trade me to a team in the Central Division so I can beat you twice a season" demand from Favre. Do you think Ted ever placed a call to the Vikings or the Bears? He also managed to scare off Tampa Bay--another Packers opponent this year--by demanding more in exchange for Favre than they wanted from the Jets.

So, Brett didn't get his starting job back in Green Bay. He didn't get traded to the teams he wanted to go to and the Pack could get up to a first round pick for a 37-year old quarterback they had no plans to play anyway. Sounds like Thompson might be on the way to a second straight NFL Executive of the Year Award.

As for Favre, I'm glad to see he will finally get the media coverage he deserves in the Big Apple. I've always felt sorry for him playing in relative obscurity in Green Bay. Besides, most soap operas are filmed in New York already.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday 8-05

I would have given a day's pay to be inside the room when Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Brett Favre last night. The meeting went more than three hours--and forced the cancellation of a press conference where McCarthy was going to explain the new quarterback situation for the team.

Here's what I think was said during that meeting:

Coach McCarthy: Brett, I know you think you are still the best quarterback here, but we made a commitment to the future and we are standing by that commitment.

Brett Favre--Excuse me coach, can you please the read the back of this number four jersey I'm wearing right now--you've apparently forgotten what is says back there.

M--I'm well aware of what the jersey says Brett, I'm just saying you walked away from this team and now it's Aaron Rodger's team.

B--I don't care if it is Aaron Rodger's team or Brian Brohm's team or Don Majikowski's team--because this is my league. The "F" in NFL, that stands for "Favre" now. The National Favre League. I'm bigger than this team and this game. The people love me. Did you see the crowd at the airport when I got to town. Did you see the ratings for Greta Van Susteren's show when I was on there? I own this sport. They should call this Farve-ball instead of football.

M--Uh, Brett I think you might want to get a reality check here...

B--What's that Coach, I can't hear you over the fans chanting my name and the cell phone ringing with calls from every Favreball reporter on every network wondering if I plan to have chicken or steak for dinner tonight. Just let me text message Peter King here and let him know I'm only doing an interview with Sports Illustrated if they put me on the cover and hype the fact it's the best-selling issue ever.

M--Brett, can we talk about how the quarterback competition will work here in camp?

B--Competition? Shoot, to make it fair I'll throw all of my pre-season passes left-handed. I can already imaging all the fans going crazy, forcing all their kids to throw left handed "just like Brett". Madden will be telling eveyone how the left-handed Brett Favre might be even greater than the right-handed Brett Favre. We'll have to have two Hall of Fame ceremonies--one for right-handed Brett and one for Left-Handed Brett."

M--Brett, I think you've gone crazy.

B--Not as crazy as you'll look when I bury you with comments to the press after Rodgers throws his first incomplete pass of the season. I'll talk about how I would have made all of those throws and how we "aren't giving the team the best chance to win"--because you know I'm all about team.

M--That's right Brett, you are all about team.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday 8-04

We welcome new Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff to town today. I've already put together a "to do" list for him.

1--Go over the city budget with a fine-toothed comb. Find some areas to cut spending and put that savings toward the elimination of annoying fees for what should be basic services--and put enough in the winter maintanence budget to plow all streets after all snowstorms so I don't have to do "Two Cents" features about my street turning into a skating rink again this winter.

2--Lower expectations for the Marion Road redevelopment area. Start talking about smaller, more economically viable projects that should be considered in the future. Sound like my parents by telling the Council "something is better than nothing--and that's what you'll get if you keep complaining".

3--Beef up the City Manager's report at Common Council meetings. Don't just list street closure requests like your predecessor did. Give us some actual dirt on what's happening at City Hall--like what expensive piece of machinery broke down and has to be replaced or what department head is losing his or her job.

4--Join Bob Burnell once a month on the Morning News Focus to update the community on what's going on around town. I know the folks at Channel Ten will tell you the City Managers show reaches everyone--but I can guarantee you'll get more exposure here.

Once Mr Rohloff completes these assignments--I'll have a brand new list for him.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday 7-25

My Two Cents will be going on hiatus next week--as we move our show to the EAA Airventure grounds. And speaking of Airventure, I have a few suggestions to make the event better for everyone involved:

1--Shorten the event. There's nothing going on out there that can't be accomplished in just four days. So let's run the Airventure from Thursday through Sunday. Attendance likely won't take much of a hit--since the first three days usually see very light attendance anyway. It would also make a "week-ling" pass cheaper for those who can't miss a single minute.

2--Build some real bathrooms out there. For those who visit Airventure for just a day, having to use the porta-johns may not be that bad. But when you spend the entire week out there, you get a bit tired of having to go in the johnnie. Sometimes you just like to have a few creature comforts when you have to go. Permanent bathrooms are part of the improvements the EAA plans for the grounds in the future. That's almost reason enough for me to support the city kicking in two-million dollars to help in the projects.

3--Return to limited flight line access. I know there are more than a few plane owners who agree with this one. Put the chain link fences back up and allow only EAA members and other approved visitors along the flight line area. This was common practice until a few years ago--when the EAA realized more people might come out and pay full price if they got closer to most of the aircraft. Unfortunately, most of the people who fly to Oshkosh would prefer that the "general public" not get so close to their planes.

4--Dump the "Airventure" name. The EAA pushes the name hard--using it on all official signs, programs and T-shirts. But, two-thirds of the people who attend just call it "Oshkosh" and all of the old-timers still call it "The Fly-In". "Airventure" means nothing to the general public. To fit in with every other event here in Wisconsin the name should really be "Airplanefest".

5--Get chocolate soft serve at all of the ice cream stands on the grounds. Zaug's has never explained to me why only one stand--located just west of Aeroshell square--serves chocolate soft serve. Every other one only has vanilla. Who wants only vanilla? Why does that one stand always have a long line? It's obviously because of the chocolate. Give the people what they want!!

We'll see you at the Fly-In.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday 7-24

As many of you know, I am an avid golfer. And that is why it pains me so much to see the demise of public golf courses here in the Fox Valley. As you likely know, the City of Appleton is looking at selling Reid Municipal Golf Course--as it continues to lose money and the city can no longer afford to subsidize it. Those of us who see the money numbers for Lakeshore Municipal Golf Course in Oshkosh know it hangs on a delicate edge as well--as it is burdened by debt incurred a few years ago to fix drainage problems on the course.

As someone who has railed against the foolish spending of public dollars I really have no choice but to side with those who question the use of tax dollars to subsidize a golf course. The muni course was a product of the early part of the century--when the game of golf was growing in popularity--but access was limited to those who could afford to join country clubs. To open up the game to everyone, cities and counties built their own courses--and were able to make money on the venture.

Over the years, entrepreneurs have built public access or daily fee courses that don't require membership--and don't receive public financing. Those course tend to be more expensive than the munis--but the quality of the course tends to be higher as well. That competition has left public course in a tough spot. To keep their niche, they need to keep greens fees low--but then that forces cuts in maintenance--which usually leads to poor conditions and fewer people willing to play there. That further cuts revenues and creates a death spiral for the course. Another complicating factor is that fewer people are getting into the sport.

Appleton and Oshkosh are not alone in this situation. "Golfweek" magazine had a cover story on "Municipal Courses in Crisis" just a couple of months ago. The issue discussed the mass closures of public courses across the country--as cities and counties could no longer justify the cost. Some munis are getting facelifts in hopes of bringing golfers back--but most continue to languish.

So if area golfers want to keep those public courses open and worth playing, they need to make sure to get out there and play. It probably wouldn't hurt to bring along three friends as well.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday 7-21

We had a couple of really nice classic car shows in the area over the weekend--a show hosted by our "oldies" sister station at Fox Valley Technical College on Saturday, and the annual Pierce Park show on Sunday. Seeing all of those classic vehicles got me to thinking: What will car shows be like 25 or 30 years from now?

Will middle aged men swoon over rows of Saturn SL2s? Will they point to the interior of a minivan and say to their sons "Wow, that has the seatback DVD player just like the one we had when I was a kid"? Will we hear "Man, there was nothing better than an Infinity Q45 when I was growing up"?

I see that some car clubs are now allowing "tuner" cars into their shows now. Is that to attract the younger generation? Or is it a harbinger of doom for the car show itself--as ugly tack-on body parts and whiny exhaust systems are what is going to pass as "classic" in the future. For all we know, there may not be any regular leaded or unleaded fuel in the future to even power the classic cars of the pre-1980's era. I doubt we'll be able to trailer them from show to show using our electric micro-cars.

There are few models that exite anyone anymore. Mustangs and Corvettes will always turn heads--but can you think of anything else on the road that really gets your heart racing? And the whole automotive experience is changing as well. The aforementioned DVD player and internet connections make it seem more like your driving your living room down the street. And forget about the bonding experience of fixing your own vehicle. Open the hood on even the most basic car today and you would have no idea where to begin on repairing anything. Some dealership mechanics have told me engineers don't even think about home repair when designing engine systems today. That's another important revenue stream for the company. And so we get air filters and oil plugs that you can't reach with a double hinged arm or by putting the thing on a hydraulic lift.

So enjoy the car shows while you can. They won't be getting any bigger or any better in the future.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday 7-17

It's time to weigh in again on the Brett Favre Soap Opera.

If there is one thing that is clear to me after the Greta Van Susteren interview it is that Brett Favre doesn't just want to come back to the Green Bay Packers as the starting quarterback--but he also wants to be the General Manager as well. Brett was very clear in his unhappiness with current GM Ted Thompson. Thompson didn't do enough to get Randy Moss--even though Brett wanted him...Thompson didn't hire Steve Mariucci as head coach--even though Brett wanted him. Apparently Favre thinks he should have more pull in the front office--even though he has ZERO executive or coaching experience.

Let's examine some of Favre's demands. Why would he want Steve Mariucci as his head coach? Because Steve is his buddy, and probably wouldn't put the restrictions on him that a control-freak like Mike McCarthy does. "Hey Brett, you want to throw into triple coverage all day? Go ahead man, you're the greatest and I'll love you no matter what!! What, you want to run around like a chicken with its head cut off and throw balls downfield underhanded to offensive linemen? Go for it, cuz that's just Brett being Brett!!"

Here's a question for Brett: If Steve Mariucci is such a great candidate for a head coaching job in the NFL, why is he still sitting behind a desk at the NFL Network?

On the failure to sign Randy Moss, how much of a difference would he have made for the Packers last year. Can you think of a loss where having another wide receiver would have made the difference. Would Moss have fixed the lack of a running game in the first half of the season. Would he have caught all of the wounded ducks that Number Four was putting up in the Wind Bowl at Chicago? Would he have somehow out-jumped the double coverage on the underthrown ball that set up the game-losing field goal against the Giants? I should point out that the New England Patriots--the much more talented team that actually did have Randy Moss--also lost to the Giants in the playoffs.

So for all of you rallying at Lambeau every weekend I want you to ask yourself, do you want Brett Favre as quarterback, head coach and general manager? Because that seems to be what he really wants here. Personally, I can't think of any team that has been successful letting the star players make the personel and coaching decisions.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday 7-16

One of the talking heads on the cable news networks used a term yesterday that I really like. The discussion was on the country's financial state--and she used the phrase "We are entering the NEW, New Economy". You might be familiar with the OLD New Economy--where the US moved away from manufacturing things other people wanted to buy and instead became reliant on service provided to each other. That New Economy also depended heavily on the Internet--the wonder product that provides plenty of info--but no real "things".

Here's what I hope to see in the NEW New Economy:

--The end of the Four-dollar-fifty cent cup of gourmet coffee as an essential part of life. No more will we hear "I just can't get anything done until I get my morning Starbucks." That shot of caffeine will be replaced by the kick start of a brisk walk or bike ride to work (especially in a Wisconsin winter).

--Smaller SUV's that can haul small loads and still provide headroom for tall people all while using less regular gasoline. Americans will accept small, fuel-efficient vehicles for one ownership cycle--but after that they will say "Give me some room to breathe in here, please!!" After that, the car company that can provide the most room and power for the MPG will be the big winner. GM, Ford and Chrysler might want to work on that right now. You might not be able to haul the 18-foot boat anymore--but no one can afford gas to use that on the water anyway--so why have it?

--Cell phones will make calls--and calls only. People will eventually realize, we really only need them to talk to other people. Not to download ringtones, play video games, upload the internet, take pictures, play movies and text message people in new language that threatens to destroy proper English.

--People will eat better and work out more often to avoid the mounting costs of heatlh care. And those workouts will be old-time exercises like running the sidewalks, biking the trails and doing pushups in the basement--instead of driving to the gym with electronic equipment because we really don't need to know the exact number of calories we burned walking in place.

--The 7 shopping channels tying up space on the cable systems will fold--to be replaced by the Big Ten and NFL Networks.

--Only those who can truly afford a house will be in houses. No more sub-prime mortgage crises in the NEW, New Economy. This is an added bonus to all of those developers who are building all of those condos on the Fox River in every city with any waterfront--so long as they switch to rental units and lower the price to something people can still afford.

--And the big one: People will turn their backs on retailers that force manufacturers to move their plants to China to meet artificial price points. That might just return production jobs to the US--starting a NEW, NEW New Economy where Americans make great things for Americans to buy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday 7-15

I find it ironic that in the "Information Age", we have so many people who lack proper information on important issues.

Take for example, the people who lined up outside of Washington Mutual banks in California yesterday to withdraw all their money. One of the national network newscasts had one woman saying she was there to get all of her money out of the bank before it goes broke and she loses it. Somebody might want to tell her that all deposits--up to a quarter million dollars--in that bank are insured by the FDIC. So even if WaMu went under, she would still get her money. Perhaps stories about the bank's recent losses included that bit of info--but I'm sure all she (and the others in the line) heard was "Such and such Bank is in crisis" (everything is a crisis nowadays).

Now if she had said "I'm taking my money out of this bank because I'm dis-satisfied with the number of risky investments its directors have chosen to undertake--like buying sub-prime mortgages" I'd have no problem with her decision. But to just take the money out based on speculation and mis-information just frustrates me.

The ultimate irony is that the actions of the mis-informed usually results in the situation everyone was trying to avoid. The loss of deposits will likely speed up bank failures--which will feed the panic cycle. The 24-hour news cycle will speculate on which banks will be next to fail--sending their customers to make panicked withdrawals--leading to more closures and more panic. Remember the savings and loan disaster of the '90's?

I can understand how people might have been un-informed in the 1920's and 30's when you had to rely on just newspapers for all of your information on the outside world--with gossip filling the gaps. But now we have multiple radio stations, 200-tv channels, and millions of instructive, trusted web-sites that can provide you with the facts in an instant. So take a few minutes to get all the facts--and not from blog sites please--then choose your course. You may find it's a little less stressful than just following the herd.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday 7-14

Some thoughts from the weekend:

The wife and I traveled to the Twin Cities over the weekend--and I can tell you there are a lot of RVs and motorcoaches out there. At some times along Highway 29 and Interstate 94, every other vehicle was an RV towing a car behind it. Have all of those people found stations that are selling gas for less than two-bucks a gallon? Or do they just not care how much they have to pay to fuel up those gas hogs? They must have missed the memo that the economy is "in shambles" and that no one can afford to travel anymore.

You know how everyone is so down on Downtown Oshkosh? Well, compared to downtown Wausau and Stevens Point, we are doing great around here. On our trip back yesterday, I wanted to eat at one of those little pizza places that make everything from scratch and that all of the "locals" love. So we bypassed the chain restaurants along the highway and went into downtown Wausau for lunch. Downtown Wausau is a traffic nightmare. First off, every street is a one-way--making driving a nightmare for someone unfamiliar. Second, all of the streets are super-narrow with angled parking on both sides--so you have to drive at about ten-miles an hour, because you never know when someone might be backing out. And they wind between the big mall, city hall and a park that was hosting some kind of kidfest. After driving aimlessly for about twenty minutes trying to find a pizza place we finally stopped a police officer and asked him for some guidance. He suggested a nearby place--which was closed.

Finally, we gave up and decided to wait until Stevens Point--surely they have a little place downtown that's open for lunch. WRONG AGAIN!! Downtown Stevens Point didn't even have any restaurants that we could find. There was a mall and City Hall and some of the campus and some car repair places and a car show in the park--but no restaurants. Finally, we gave up and had burgers at a place along highway ten. Maybe downtown Oshkosh isn't so "dead" afterall.

And one final thing: All of you fans who rallied at Lambeau Field Sunday demanding the Packers bring back Brett Favre--you all need to get a life. You probably couldn't get five people together in Green Bay to rally for preservation of constitutional rights or clean drinking water--but Brett Favre gets a couple dozen people on short notice. I'd be willing to bet there will be a couple hundred there next Sunday. Just let it go people. Spend next weekend reading Don Quixote--or at least the Cliff's Notes version--and learn the lesson contained in that book.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wednesday 7-09

I hate to do a sports topic two days in a row--but I just have to weigh in on the Brett Favre situation.

His change of heart should come as no surprise--as the guy isn't so much a quarterback as he is a soap opera character. If he does come back, the Packers should put "Erica Kane" on the back of the number four jersey instead of "Favre". The only thing that surprises me is that the "comeback" talk didn't start the day after the "emotional" retirement ceremony. Maybe he thought it would be more "dramatic" if he waited until the team drafted two quarterbacks in April. Or maybe that's when Brett realized the team really was moving on without him. Sort of like the guy who dumps a woman--then wants her back after he sees her out with another guy.

Favre could have joined a very exclusive group in the Football Hall of Fame: "The Guys Who Might Have Quit Too Early". Right now, the membership is pretty much limited to Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns, Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions and Head Coach John Madden of the Oakland Raiders. Those are the few guys who were willing to walk away from the game knowing they could still play (or coach)--but choose to not to hang on too long.

In coming back--and possibly going to another team--Favre will join the other wing of the hall: "The Irrelevant End To an Otherwise Great Career". Some of the busts in that area include Johnny Unitas of the San Diego Chargers, Joe Namath of the Los Angeles Rams, Joe Montana of the Kansas City Chiefs, Jerry Rice of the Seattle Seahawks and Emmitt Smith of the Arizona Cardinals. Thank goodness for NFL Films so we have footage of those all-time greats stumbling to the end of their careers.

I see Packers General Manager Ted Thompson having three options to deal with Favre. 1--Allow his agent to work out a trade to another team. That should serve as a real eye-opener for Number Four--as Bus Cook finds out no one wants to offer more than a fourth or fifth round pick for his client's services next year. The second option: Allow Favre to comeback--start--and basically play himself out of the league. Maybe the team could end up with a better draft choice by missing the playoffs due to poor play at QB. The third option--and the one I support the most: Welcome Brett back to the team--limit his playing time in training camp (claiming to be "keeping him fresh for the regular season")--then cutting him in the week after the final pre-season game. That would make him almost useless to any other team. Sure it might hurt the salary cap for a season--but sometimes making a clean break hurts. Besides, it's better this way for everyone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesday 7-08

The Messiah of Milwaukee works at Miller Park tonight. CC Sabathia makes his debut for the Brew Crew--and starts the team on its inevitible run to the World Series title. I can't remember the last time people were this excited about a regular season Milwaukee Brewers game. Our Green Bay all-sports sister station was actually able to go an entire hour talking baseball--without anyone calling to hope Brett comes back to the Packers because we all know he's the best quarterback they got and they ain't goin' nowhere with that Rodgers kid and with all the talent they got comin' back the Pack is going to the Super Bowl because we almost got there last year and how do you think the first round draft pick is gonna do when they open up training camp this month????

You have to admit that Mark Attanasio is putting his money where his mouth is. He promised to spend money to put a winner on the field--a refreshing change from the miserly approach of one Bud Selig who never met a washed up cheap veteran player he didn't like--and the Crew is about to go over 90-million dollars in payroll. And unlike last year--when the Scott Linebrink trade served to sink the Brewers late pennant push--this trade suddenly makes the Crew the Favorites in the National League Central. With CC and Ben Sheets in the rotation, the Brewers can legitimately expect to win at least two out of every five games. Get one more win in those other three games, and all of sudden you're playing .600 ball.

Some are worried the Brewers have mortgaged their future on a player they likely won't have beyond the end of this year. But when you look at what they did give up, it's not so bad. The Brewers already have five first-basemen on the roster (they may not all play the position--but that is where more than a few guys should be playing)--and offense is not what this team needed anyway. I just like seeing the franchise saying "We are no longer playing for the future--we expect to win now."

And that puts even more pressure on Manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Mike Maddux. If Sabathia bombs in the 15 or 16 starts he gets in Milwaukee--and the team misses the playoffs--then they both have to go. No more excuses "We need to learn how to win" or "These guys played their guts out and I'm proud of them." This is also a challenge to Milwaukee fans as well. The owner is proving he is willing to spend the bucks to build a winner--now Joe Sixpack needs to make a few trips to the stadium to provide some return on the investment--and that means people other than idiot Cubs fans outnumbering Brewers fans at Miller Park.

There's nothing better in sports than pennant chase baseball--and it looks like Wisconsin fans will finally get a full dose this year. I can't wait.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday 7-07

If there were fewer people on the road this 4th of July weekend--I guess I didn't notice. I especially didn't notice during the twenty minute backup along Highway 76 north of Oshkosh starting at the Highway 41 interchange late yesterday afternoon. It would have been nice of the DOT to figure out some way to still allow traffic on 45 this weekend--since it's much better designed to handle a lot of cars compared to 76.

I didn't notice people slowing down to conserve fuel this weekend. Especially, the guy in the pickup truck with the Illinois license plate who zoomed by about ten cars at 75-miles an hour entering a 35 mile an hour zone in Three Lakes. Apparently high gas prices weren't affecting him that evening. However, I will give credit to the whomever was doing 52-miles an hour Sunday afternoon along Highway 45 south of New London until the Highway 10 interchange. Everybody else behind you was loving the great gas mileage we were getting stacked up behind you about 50-cars deep.

High gas prices didn't keep many people off the water this weekend. The people in the cabin next to my parents had their ski boat and pontoon boat out constantly--making sure anyone trying to fish didn't get any peace or calm water. The economic downturn didn't prevent jet skiers from racing up and down the Wisconsin River next to the golf course in Eagle River either.

The tough economic times apparently missed all of the people who packed the main street of Eagle River for some tourist trap shopping, those who waited for over an hour at all of the little restaurants along the rural highways and those who filled up all of the tee times at both of the golf courses I played this weekend. Thank goodness for the hard times--or I might never have squeezed in a couple of rounds.

Now there were some real signs of an economic downturn. There are a lot of boats for sale parked in yards along the highways. There was even one place with a Corvette, a boat and the house all for sale by owner. As I told my wife, there's someone who can't afford any off their overpriced toys anymore. And there is a lot of real estate for sale on the northern lakes. Apparently, the cabin on the lake isn't such a priority when it costs you over a hundred dollars to drive there. Let's just hope, sensible Wisconsin folks are the ones cashing in on reduced property values up there--so we can get rid of the Illinois jerks who keep threatening to turn that area into the "Next Door County".

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thursday 7-03

Is anyone really surprised by our report yesterday about fewer than 50-percent of students surveyed at Marian University getting a passing grade on a test of American History? I'm not bashing the kids at Marian--it's not that they are stupid or ignorant--they are merely the product of a flawed way of teaching history.

The problem in the system starts with the dependence on thick textbooks that are usually very dry and packed with the kind of minutia that makes kids' eyes glaze over. In addition, the texts tend to over-emphasize things that--in the eventual grand scheme of things--really didn't have that big an impact on American society (remember the weeks that were spent on the Teapot Dome Scandal?)

Teachers compound the problem by sticking with the lesson plans that come with these books--instead of skipping stuff they know aren't that important--and getting more in depth with the topics and events that directly impact today's society. Because isn't that why we study history--to gain greater insight into the people we are today? What decisions made in Philadelphia in 1787 shaped the way we live here in the US today? Why did Lincoln really fight the Civil War? (It wasn't to free the slaves). What were the real economic factors that caused the Great Depression?

Another issue is the revisionist history attempt to "multi-culturalize" more than necessary. I'm sorry that many of the biggest decisions in our history were made by white men. Teach the kids why women and minorities were kept out of the process--but don't elevate bit players to equal status with the major figures. Blend in the non-white societies as they rose to prominance.

And here's a radical idea: why not teach history in "reverse". Sometimes we can tell a story better by starting at the end. Focus on those events closest to us now--then review the factors that led to them. Start with the war in Iraq--lead into 9-11, the first Iraq war, the economic boom of the 80's the malaise of the 70's, Watergate and on and on. Hook kids with the "good" stuff and lead them into the wonderful fabric that our ancestors have woven for us.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday 6-17

More random thoughts today:

Do you know why government bogs down and doesn't run nearly as efficiently as it should? Because promotion from within is darn near impossible. The Oshkosh School Board proved this by refusing to promote Todd Gray to even an interim Superitendent's position. I find it ironic that the very same search firm that the board hired to help them find the best available candidate for the Oshkosh district was the firm that recommended Gray for Waukesha. Wouldn't being the best fit for a larger district make you think the guy would do a great job here? Apparently the school board doesn't think so.

Actually, I think Gray's experience as a finance director--being a "numbers man"--hurt him in the eyes of the Oshkosh board. They prefer "ideas people"--because "we're not running a business here." I'm guessing the Waukesha district won't be facing the same financial difficulties in the future that will plague Oshkosh.

I want to give a big "thumbs up" to Oshkosh Acting City Manager John Fitzpatrick. I don't think Fitz expected to deal with flooding, having to shut down part of downtown for movie filming and the retirement of several other department heads. There's another guy that won't be promoted from within.

Am I the only person surprised that Ned Yost wasn't the first manager in Major League Baseball to be fired this year? The Brewers continue to underachive--and are still one of the worst road teams in baseball. Ned was outmanaged badly by Ron Gardenhire of the Twins over the weekend at Miller Park. It's just a matter of time before the good young players on that team start to believe that .500 baseball is acceptable and don't put in the extra effort needed to be better.

I got the feeling all weekend that if Tiger Woods needed to make a 300-yard 3-wood to tie or win the US Open--he was going to make it. Kudos to Rocco Mediate for taking Tiger to the limit. I thought he had absolutely no chance heading into Monday's playoff.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday 6-16

If there is any silver lining to last week's flooding here in Oshkosh it could be a chance to bring the city closer together. I've seen several examples of it already. On Saturday, I was in the store behind a group of high school girls covered in mud and muck. They had spent the day helping clean up Lourdes High School--which saw several lower level classrooms, storage areas and both gymnasiums flood out. Now if you know anything about teenage girls, there is nothing they hate more than being covered in smelly muck and being seen in public. But those girls were out there telling stories about what they had done to help clean up the building, almost wearing that slop as a badge of honor.

In another positive note, one of the guys in my neighborhood went door to door on Saturday just making sure that everyone was doing okay and seeing if they needed any help cleaning up. Fortunately, my wife and I didn't need his help--but we did see him helping a few others who did have water come in the basement. That's the definition of a "good neighbor". I also saw a lot of that reporting from some of the hardest hit areas on Thursday night. I talked to at least a half-dozen people who were helping an elderly neighbor pump water out of the house or get their belonging to a higher level. There was even one man helping a young family get their baby and supplies to a safer place.

It really makes you proud to see that. There was no concern about being a northsider or a westsider. We were all neighbors that night and we were stepping up to help each other. Wouldn't it be great if we could stay "together" in that way and keep up that commuity spirit in the future? Maybe those development, school improvement and community image problems might be solved as well.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday 6-12

If you listen to the show regularly, you know that I am a huge golf fan. That's why I am so giddy today. My favorite tournament--the US Open--starts today at Torrey Pines near San Diego.

A lot of people think the US Open is boring because the conditions are so hard that par is a good--and often times a winning--score. But that is what I love about it. I like seeing the pros struggle with the very same things I do on the course. Why shouldn't pros be punished for missing the fairway and having to play out of four-inch thick rough? Why shouldn't they have to worry about carrying a huge water hazard or ravine from the tee? Why shouldn't they sweat out a slippery little downhill putt that breaks more than it looks?

The USGA gets a lot of grief for the lengths to which it goes to make it as hard as possible for the pros. All of the players will complain of the length of the course--a record 76-hundred yards--the speed of the greens--an estimated 13 on the stimpmeter (or about three times as fast as the greens you'll find a the typical public course)--and the rough so thick it requires a boy scout troop to find errant shots. But to me, the look of disbelief on Tiger or Phil's faces when they don't come close to pulling off a shot makes me feel great--because that look is on my face half the time I'm out on the course.

As for a prediction on this week's tournament--I don't think Tiger can come off such a long layoff due to his knee surgery to pull out a win. My dream scenario--since the tournament ends on Father's Day--would be Phil Mickelson making a tricky birdie putt on the 72nd hole with his father, Phil Sr.--the man who taught him the game and built a putting green and bunker in the backyard so he could develop his masterful short game--sitting at greenside to watch it happen and then giving his son a big hug. Get out the hankies for that one.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday 6-09

Just a few odds and ends today:

Since I am here at work today, it's obvious I did not make a hole in one Sunday at Walleye Weekend for the million dollars. I hit a great shot--a high fade that ended up right in line with the pin--but 20-feet-five and three-quarters inches short of the cup. That was good enough for fourth place. The wind was directly into our faces--and the driving range at Whispering Springs was absolutely soaked--but I decided to stick with my 8-iron, figuring adrenaline would add enough distance to make up for the wind and the lack of roll. I guess I was wrong. The guy who came the closest was just outside nine feet and left of cup. He won a boat that I would have had no use for anyway.

In more important matters....The Oshkosh Common Council selected Grand Chute Town Administrator Mark Rohloff as the new City Manager. Mark wins immediate points with me by admitting he listens to the Morning News Focus. I was a bit disappointed that he put riverfront development as his top priority. I would have preferred re-structuring city spending to guarantee enough to provide basic services without extra fees. All and all, I expect Mark to do a good job and to be more open with the public and the council than his predecessor.

And finally, can someone please turn off the rain? We had a small amount of water in the basement when we got back from Fond du Lac last night--and more in the basement again this morning. The sump pump just can't keep up with five inches of rain a day. There is nothing worse than living in fear of rain. I was lying awake for nearly an hour last night, cursing the thunder and the sound of the drops on the roof--knowing the work put in to soak up the earlier water was all for naught. If anyone knows any anti-rain dances I would suggest doing it now.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday 6-06

On Sunday I get a chance to live out every golfer's dream: One shot for a million dollars. I am a finalist in the Milion Dollar Hole-in-one Shootout at Walleye Weekend in Fond du Lac. All that stands between me and a cool mill is 140-yards. For me, that's a "smooth" 8-iron with my gentle high fade curling the ball toward the pin. And over the last few weeks, I have been hitting my irons very crisp and accurately.

That being said, I'm not exactly counting my million dollars just yet. I've been golfing for 22-years now and have never made a hole-in-one. I've hit the stick on the fly at least three times. I've rolled one off the stick once. I've had one tee shot lip out. I've had balls end up just a few inches short of the hole or just a few inches left or right. I've even had a ball get wrapped in the flag and drop right next to the cup. But I've never scored the elusive ace. That's why I want to give up the game when I hear about a seven-year old who makes a hole-in-one or that woman in Florida who claims to have made over a hundred last year alone.

While collecting this million may seem unlikely, my odds are better than winning the same amount in the lottery. The USGA estimates the odds of an amateur golfer making a hole in one are about one in 5000. The odds of winning the Wisconsin Lottery's Megabucks game is one in 14-million. And with the golf challenge, I control the outcome.

Despite the long odds, it's only human nature to wonder what I would do if lightning struck and my ball found paydirt. The first thing I know is not to count on getting a full million. You lose one-third right off the top to taxes--so now I'm down to just 670-thousand. That's where the Dave Ramsey plan kicks in. Fifteen percent has to go to my retirement accounts--that takes me down to 520-thousand. Then I have to save up for the kids college educations. I'm hoping to have two little ones--so we had better salt away another 150-thousand. Now I'm down to 370-grand. Next we pay off the house--that leaves me with 260-thousand. Another ten percent will go to non-profit entities. I've always wanted to see Oshkosh have a First Tee program to introduce kids to the sport of golf. I'd also love to help Oshkosh Youth Baseball build their new "Field of Dreams" complex--if the airport officials don't put the kibosh on it. One thing I promise not to spend the money on is an amphitheater or water park that taxpayers have to pay to maintain for the rest of eternity.

Alright, so now I'm down to just over 100-thousand dollars. Not even enough to retire on, but certainly enough to get a few toys, right? Classic cars are out--since the gas will bankrupt me now. And I just got new golf clubs last year so I don't need those yet. I guess I'll just turn it over to the wife so she can catch up on all of the purchases she has delayed since we went on the Dave plan. You might want to make sure you have plenty of Kohl's and Ikea stock in your 401k portfolio.