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.