Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday 3-31

I've decided to "mis-speak" about my personal history from now on. If Hillary Clinton can embellish what she has done in the past--with plans to apologize only when caught lying--I should be able to do the same.

So from now on, I was an all-state basketball star at Bay Port High School who dated and married the head cheerleader. I went on to graduate first in my class with a Masters and a Doctorate from UW-Madison in a double major of Political Science and Quantum Physics.

I'll never forget the April I beat Tiger Woods in a thrilling six-hole playoff to win the Masters as an amateur. I still remember Tiger telling me how intimidated he was by my talent as he slipped the green jacket over my shoulders.

When Al Gore invented the internet, I was there throwing the big switch. I also gave Steve Jobs the idea for the Macintosh Computer--not to mention the IPod--and I helped the guys at Google develop the search engine.

That reminds me of a great night when I filled in for John Lennon in that big Beatles reunion concert at Wembley Stadium in London. The lads even agreed to sing some of the songs I wrote for Queen as well.

As a journalist, I broke the story about Watergate, Monica Lewinsky and I filed live reports from one of the planes that hit the Twin Towers. I keep my Pulitzer Prize in a drawer somewhere here in the newsroom. Wouldn't want to seem pretentious.

I think you get the point. If Hillary Clinton actually did "mis-speak" about her arrival in Kosovo in FOUR different speeches this winter, where did this false memory come from? Does Mrs. Clinton suffer from delusions (other than those of grandeur)? Should she be on some medications to treat them? Or has she convinced herself that there really were snipers around the airport--since that story may help her become President?

It's just another sign of the disturing desperation that drives the Clinton campaign. She and her supporters know this is an "all or nothing" shot at the White House because if another Democrat wins the race--she is shut out for eight more years. It's why they plan to take the campaign all the way to the convention. They know there likely won't be another chance after this.

Margaret Dowd had an interesting opinion piece in the New York times last week. She postulates that the Clinton camp is trying to so undermine support for Obama among fringe Democratic voters that he will end up losing to John McCain--putting Hillary on the sidelines for just four years instead of eight. Now there is no way that the Clintons would think they are bigger than the party--and that their personal ambitions superscede what is good for Democrats as a whole?

Anyway, there is still a long way to go in the campaign. I figure by June, Hillary will have taken credit developing the atomic bomb and landing on the moon. Nobody has video footage of those events right?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday 3-27

I would like someone with experience in golf course design to take a look at the City's plan for Westhaven. I can't believe that what the city needs for stormwater retention can't be accomplished with increased water hazards and marshland within the existing course property. No disrespect to the folks in the engineering department at city hall--but they probably don't know what can be done within the confines of a playable course design.

Believe it or not, increased water on the the course would actually make it more attractive to higher-level golfers. The current Westhaven layout doesn't provide the greatest challenge--as on most holes you can hit it almost anywhere and still have a shot. With more hazards and unplayable areas, the course becomes more of a "target golf" layout--which better players seem to prefer. Will the weekend hacker enjoy it as much? Probably not. But then again, most guys aren't willing to admit they are hackers.

You might think that Westhaven being landlocked by development, there wouldn't be room for bigger hazards--but the first 100-yards of fairway are a waste nowadays, so you could run wetlands areas throughout the course and create forced carries on many holes. Another great idea--a couple of island greens surrounded by larger water hazards. There aren't many of those around here and they could become a major draw for the course.

Since golfers are masochists at heart, Westhaven could charge more for their more challenging layout. It would be a win-win situation with the city getting its stormwater retention function, and the course becomes a more successful business. A big difference from some past experiences the city has had buying up properties for redevelopment.

If we really wanted to upgrade Westhaven, we could bring in Pete Dye to handle the redesign. He would have no problem "Tiger-proofing" the layout--and the course owners could charge 200-dollars a round. A cheaper alternative would be Rick Jacobsen--who has designed a number of courses here in Wisconsin (see Thornberry Creek in Hobart and the Wausau Country Club) or Wisconsin golf legend Andy North who designed Trappers Turn in the Dells.

The biggest selling point of my idea--it should cost far less than 12-million dollars. According to the United States Golf Association the average cost to build a new course is less than five million dollars. To remodel an existing layout should be less than that. In addition, you keep the property on the tax rolls--allowing a successful business to pay for project cost itself.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday 3-25

There's a saying about youth sports nowadays that the only thing wrong with it is the parents. The situation surrounding the dismissal of Kimberly boys coach John Miron is another perfect example of that. A two-time state champion coach is dismissed after 17-season for what school board members say is a "lack of leadership". Nobody who voted in favor of the firing wants to expound upon that reason--but they really don't have to. The real reason Miron--and most high school coaches are dismissed--he wouldn't play the "political game".

By political I don't mean helping boardmembers win re-election--but rather playing kids with certain connections, or running an offense that would spotlight a kid whose parents think he has a chance to play college ball, or perhaps even not challenging a child who until that point had been coddled by his parents into believing that he should be rewarded even without working hard.

Those who have not gone through the high school sports process probably think the kids who bust their butts in practice, or have the best talent, or who work best together get the playing time. For those of us who have been through the system, we can tell you that is not the case.

I played for a coach who was not successful in the win and loss column and chose to play the "political game". My senior season we started the freshman son of the school board president and the freshman son of the booster club president. The sophomore power foward who should have been starting in the place of his older brother came in off the bench--because their mother threatened to take both kids to another district if the older brother didn't start. It just would have been "too much for him to handle" being outdone by his younger brother.

It amazes me that anyone still wants to coach youth sports anymore. I was umpiring a high school softball game a couple of years ago and the head coach sent a runner home--where she was thrown out by about ten feet. One of the parents--probably of the girl thrown out--stood along the fence behind the coach and just berated him as a "know-nothing" who should quit so they can "get someone in there who knows what he is doing". Unfortunately, the coach decided to return fire leading to a yelling match in the middle of the game. I had to step in and tell both of them to cool it.

Parents might think they are helping their kids by exerting their influence on sports programs--but that is exactly the opposite of what happens. The other kids always find out what is going on--and that leads to resentment and division on the team. How embarrassed do you think the girl on that softball team was to see her dad acting like such an idiot?

We always extoll the benefits of youth sports--lessons about hard work, learing to work together toward a common goal, while finding out that life isn't always fair and that you aren't always going to win. Unfortunately, more kids are learning that it's not what you know--but who you know that gets you ahead in life.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday 3-20

For those who are still agonizing over your NCAA Tournament brackets I am here today with a few last-minute tips.

Stay away from Memphis. They cannot make free throws to save their lives. Barely above sixty percent for the season. I could make that many left-handed.

Don't get swept up in home team pride. Marquette is too soft inside and too inconsistent from the perimiter to make a long run. The Badgers have had a great season--but just don't have the talent to win it all. Although, on my "Upset Sheet" I do have Bucky making it all the way to the championship game.

Believe in the mid-majors. Drake, Winthrop, Butler and Xavier are all good enough to make the Sweet 16 and give the big boys a scare after that.

Throw out the Big Ten. The conference stunk this year, and outside of Wisconsin, I don't have any of the other three teams winning more than one game.

Go with the chalk. On my "Serious Sheet", I've got three number one seeds and a number two. George Mason from two years ago was the exception and not the rule when it comes to the Final Four the last two decades.

So what is my Final Four? On the "Serious Sheet" I've got North Carolina beating Kansas on one side and UCLA beating Texas on the other side. Then the Bruins beat the Tar Heels in the finals.

In my "Upset Bracket" I've got Wisconsin knocking off Tennessee and UCLA beating Pittsburgh--with the Bruins again beating the Badgers in the Finals.

So enjoy the next three weeks of Madness...and don't let the boss catch you watching too many games on the internet.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday 3-17

According to a New York consulting firm, not a whole lot is going to get done around the office the next few weeks. Challenger, Gray and Christmas claim US businesses will lose up to a billion dollars in productivity this month due to the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The consultants believe everybody will be wasting time filling in their brackets, checking statistics and injury reports and watching the games on-line.

While that may be true, I don't think this will affect productivity at all--since everyone finds something to waste time with all year 'round. For some people around here, it's the tv show "Lost". Hours are spent the day after the show is on trying to figure out what each background item meant and how the Harlem Globetrotters got onto the island with a bus. (Oops--that was a different show about people on an islan). For others, the day can't begin without a two hour breakdown of who should stay or who should go on "American Idol". Perhaps C,G&C should come to an office or plant in Wisconsin on a Monday morning following a Packers game and see how much stuff is getting done.

Another concern is the office pool. Right now in every office in America there is a guy making 300-copies of the bracket from USA Today (which amazingly fits perfectly onto a sheet of copy paper every year). Is that a waste of company resources? Sure, but more people are going to look at it than the employee handbook that wastes just as many sheets. And heaven forbid if everybody throws in five bucks. I've always run a teaser that promises the last place finisher their money back. You'd be amazed how many people get suckered in by that one.

The greatest concern for bosses this year will be CBS streaming every game on the internet this year. Some companies are thinking about blocking access to such sites. My question is: why are such sites allowed to begin with? My wife enters liquor orders all day, why does she need internet streaming access? We here in the media business are lucky, we've got tv's in every room to "keep track of breaking news and weather". And I need to make sure our station stream is working properly.

Here's the deal I am offering to my bosses. If you let me watch all of the afternoon basketball games, I'll give up wasting hours replying to and forwarding all of the "funniest joke ever" e-mails. That should make us even.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday 3-10

A few odds and ends today:

I can't tell you how much I hate Daylight Saving Time. When you get up at 3:30 in the morning--moving the clocks ahead an hour is devastating. And to do it this early in the year is absurd. Why do we need an "extra hour" of daylight after the workday when its 18-degrees outside? I'm sure to make good use of that time.

I have a confession to make, I turned off the Oshkosh West-Madison Memorial game when the deficit got to 23-points. Imagine my surprise when I heard the final score on the WOSH Morning News Focus Saturday morning. The Wildcats have nothing to hang their heads about following that loss. A lot of teams would have just packed it in and lost by thirty.

I'm happy to report you can see some of the concrete on my street again. Unfortunately, it's only in small patches where the sun shines directly on it for most of the day. That has created a series of "potholes" all up and down the street--where you're driving along and suddenly the right side of the car drops four inches then pops back up again four inches. On the south end of the street, the concrete sections are a bit bigger--so you have more of a "speed bump" effect where the fingers of icepack extend across the roadway. I notice most of the locals tend to weave all across the road now to avoid the speed bumps and the iceholes. Those without traction control must be going nuts as the wheels struggle for grip on the icepack--then hit dry pavement and lurch forward--only to get pack on the ice pack again and go sliding.

Another problem caused by the icepack on my street: melting water has nowhere to go except at the end of our driveways. There is a good three inches at the end of mine since I chipped out all of the ice on my apron. Unfortunately, all of the ice in the street and the gutter doesn't give the water anywhere to flow. Maybe public works thinks we're still without curb and gutter on my street and that it makes no difference.

Apparently, a lot of people in the Fox Valley think they have what it takes to be in movies. I went by Carl Traeger School Saturday afternoon and it was a zoo. They had three cops out there directing traffic and telling people where to park for the "Public Enemies" casting call. The sidewalks east and west of the school were full of people who had apparently raided their great-grandparents closets trying to get the most "authentic" look possible. Just being honest here: there's a big difference between being real-life "plain" and being Hollywood "plain". Even though extras are supposed to be background--directors still want "beautiful people" in all the shots--if you know what I mean.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday 3-07

We didn't talk about this much this week, but a Florida couple recently gave birth to twin boys--who they named "Brett" and "Favre". Now, Brett should have no problem going through life giving his name for roll call, reservations or bank information. Poor little Favre is doomed to a life of misery caused by his name.

For starters, Favre is not pronounced as it looks. Remember when the quarterback with the same name came to Green Bay? The debate was "fay-vur" or "fahv-ray". "Fahrv" wasn't even an option. How can it be that if the v is in front of the r? Now poor little Favre will have to spell it out and pronounce it for everyone who isn't already a football fan. I'll never forget the first day of kindergarten, when my teacher asked who was Jonathan "Crow-zee". I was looking around, wondering who had a name so close to mine--but obviously not mine because everyone knows the e is silent. After about three months, she finally got it right--but I was scarred for life.

And of course, little Favre will have to explain his name to everyone. "You mean like the quarterback?" is the question he'll get for at least the first ten years of his life--until Peyton Manning breaks all of Brett's records and number four fades into memory. For those who aren't football fans, the question will be "what does that name mean?"

The parents didn't even give Favre a break--in case he wants to use his middle name instead of his embarrassing first name. His middle name is Moses. Not exactly a common name nowadays.

This Florida couple is apparently following a hot celebrity trend. Gwenyth Paltrow named her daughter "Apple". Nick Cage gave his son the name "Kel-Al"--which is the "birth name" of Superman on his native Krypton. Other celebrities have chosen "Hercules" and "Moxie Crimefighter". If it was up to me, these parents would be charged with child abuse. Subjecting their kids to psychological abuse and embarassment for their own twisted satisfaction.

As for little Brett and Favre--they will just have to be glad their parents weren't big fans of Booger McFarland.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wednesday 3-05

The Brett Favre era is over in Green Bay. Somehow, the sun will come up in the east today, the NFL will remain the most popular sports league in the country and the Green Bay Packers will continue to field a team. During some of the TV coverage of the announcement yesterday, you would have thought none of the three were going to happen.

My favorite memory of Brett Favre will be the final play of a loss to Cincinnati a couple of seasons ago. With the Pack down by a touchdown and the ball on his own side of the fifty, Brett was flushed out of the pocket and forced to run. Despite being a good 15-yards beyond the line of scrimmage, Brett threw one of his patented back-to-the-receiver-over-the-head-underhanded-tosses as he was being tackled. It would have been a great play--if it hadn't been an illegal forward pass. That was just "Brett being Brett". As I recall, Bubba Franks hurt his knee trying to catch that pass as well.

My favorite off-the-field memory of Brett Favre comes from a night early in his career. I was playing darts and having a few beers with my friends at a Green Bay bar called "The Speakeasy" on a Sunday night. Brett and his other "Three Amigos" buddies--Frank Winters and Mark Chmura--got dropped off by their limo and came on in. They stood at the door--and because this was a cool "college" bar--were basically ignored. Nobody fawned all over them, none of the women in the bar came rushing over to throw themselves at the "big stars" and the owner didn't invite him to come behind the bar and pour himself whatever he wanted--for free--like some owners did. After five minutes of being ignored, the three left.

My favorite stat from Brett Favre's career: 0-9 at Texas Stadium against the Cowboys.

Now seriously, I will miss the infectious enthusiasm with which he played football. You could tell he loved being out there and probably would have played for free.

For those who wonder why he would decide to call it a career now--despite a great season--just look at some of the footage of him standing on the sidelines against the Bears in that windy game in Chicago and the frigid Conference Championship game against the Giants. Brett looked miserable and you could tell he was not having any fun in those games. It was almost like he was thinking: "what the heck am I doing freezing my butt off out here?"

So thanks for the memories Mr. Favre. We'll see you again in Canton in 2012.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday 3-03

First off, I have to admit when I am wrong. Earlier this winter, I made the bold prediction that an Oshkosh boys basketball team was NOT going to make it down to State this year. Congratulations to the West Wildcats for proving me wrong.

Now on to today's topic. Usually, this feature is reserved for my own opinion (hence the name: My Two Cents). But today, I would like to share and excellent op-ed piece from Sunday's Chicago Tribune by psychiatrist Richard Bromfield entitled: "Indulging Our Kids, Ourselves."

Here is the link to check it out yourself:,0,6183723.story