Monday, February 28, 2011

Saturday at the Protest 2-26-11, Part One

Click for larger:

The plaque reads:

Dedicated to you, a free citizen in a free land.

This reproduction of the Liberty Bell was presented to the people of Wisconsin by direction of the Honorable John W. Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury as the inspirational symbol of the United States savings bonds independence drive. From May 15 to July 4, 1950, it was displayed in every part of this state.

The dimensions and tone are identical with those of the original Liberty Bell when it rang out our independence in 1776.

In standing before this symbol, you have the opportunity to dedicate yourself, as did our founding fathers, to the principles of the individual freedom for which our nation stands.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.

Monday Morning Blues

This one is for my beautiful capitol building, which is trashed top to bottom by those pigs. Much more on this to come in the next few days.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

IKC Chicago Dog Show 2011

On Saturday I went to the IKC Chicago Dog Show. I don't really go to see the events or judging that they typically show on TV; I like walking around and looking at all the dogs and their owners while they are being groomed and resting before and after the performances. The dogs are all so well behaved and trained and the vast majority of the owners are happy to show off their prizes, although many of the owners are extremely busy grooming so I try not to bother them.

I made a movie out of the photos and put it up on you tube if you are interested (the music is Marshall Crenshaw it was available without copyright violation on youtube).

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Minimal Investment of "Wooing"

Over the years the process of "wooing" the better half by men has changed significantly. Even the simplest reading of the literature classics contained balls, letters, furtive meetings, worries about parental views, etc... Certainly this has changed over the years in the US, as formal dating became less and less formal.

To some extent it can be viewed as an "investment". The man is investing in a relationship with an attractive woman so that he can date her, and presumably do even more. The variable that is interesting to me is the COST of those dates, or the amount of investment that he has to put INTO the relationship before he is able to extract what he desires OUT of the relationship.

In the NY Times today they had a brief advice columnist discussion in the "Social Q's" section. Here is the question that was asked:

I've been on two dates with this girl. We get along great and have a blast together. Problem is, I end up buying all the drinks. She doesn't even pretend to offer, even after I hint. This doesn't seem right, especially in the age of $14 Belgian beers. My friends tell me she's a mooch and I should ditch her. Or should I just keep paying?

I find this to be amazing. The guy ISN'T EVEN BUYING HER DINNER. He isn't picking her up at her place and taking her to a movie. He isn't even springing for cab fare. He is merely buying her drinks at a bar (probably a bar located conveniently for him, no less, but I am just speculating here).

And he, and his friends (whom he cites in the letter) think that BUYING HER DRINKS to presumably loosen her up a bit is TOO HIGH A PRICE to be paid for what appears to comprise "dating" as it is defined, at least by this guy.

In one of the classical economic concepts - people put a VALUE on items that they acquire based on their COST, whether or not that is truly relevant to the current value. One great example of this is "anchoring", where people stick to certain stocks or other investments based upon what they paid for it regardless of its current actual value in the marketplace; I for one fell into this trap with Nokia stock as I watched it fall down the drain in value but continually referenced what I paid for the damn stock in the first place.

While taking economic costs and applying them to social relations isn't always clean, neat or even applicable, in this case we might want to think of the value that this guy is putting into the relationship IF HE WON'T EVEN PAY FOR HER DRINKS, especially when drinking is so clearly in his benefit (dinner or a movie, not so much).

I guess you are part of the older generation when you just can't understand what the younger generation is thinking. This is where we'd part company. At a minimum I'd at least pay for drinks, in this case.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Protesters Disrespect War Memorial

One of the first things I did when I went to the capitol building last Saturday was make a beeline to the war memorial that we have in there. I was pleased that it had not been touched. Nor was the replica of the Liberty Bell. Sadly, via Ann Althouse, this is no longer the case.

Ann Althouse and her husband do a great job of letting these azzholes have it.

I am going down there today after work. If these materials are not removed completely and fully from the war memorial, they are going to get a piece of my mind and I will then take that shit down myself.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Scott Walker, the Koch Brothers, and State of Wisconsin Owned Power Plants

I am trying to put together the new lefty meme of the day. Let me see if I can do it.

1) Koch Brothers give money to Scott Walker's campaign
2) Koch Brothers are in the energy business
3) Scott Walker folds a no bid process to sell the state owned power plants into the budget repair bill
4) Koch Brothers get sweet deal on said power plants as payback for campaign contributions
5) ?

This is what I am gathering from my facebook friends and demonstrators and some articles I have read. Most of the usual suspects are trumpeting this black helicopter theory as the real deal. Many in the Wisconsin state assembly brought up this in the debate that finally ended on Friday morning.

So what is the deal, really? What about this Koch Brothers connection? Why on earth would they want the Wisconsin owned plants? Do they? Lets do a little digging and try to come up with some answers.

A preface, if you will. I am not an expert in power plants, or politics in general, but I do have a computer and the Google. I will do my best on this but expect to make some errors. Please correct me in the comments if you see a glaring mistake.

Before this kerfuffle at the capitol I had never heard of the Koch brothers, or their lobbying group. I saw some signs with their name on them when I went down there last Saturday and had no clue what the deal was. I honestly thought that Mayor Ed Koch was involved in some sort of protest. I am sure I was not alone in having no clue who the Koch brothers are.

Per wiki:

Koch Industries, Inc. /ˈkoʊk/) is an American private energy conglomerate based in Wichita, Kansas, with subsidiaries involved in manufacturing, trading and investments. Koch also owns Invista, Georgia-Pacific, Flint Hills Resources, Koch Pipeline, Koch Fertilizer, Koch Minerals and Matador Cattle Company.

Koch companies are involved in core industries such as the manufacturing, refining and distribution[1] of petroleum, chemicals, energy, fiber, intermediates and polymers, minerals, fertilizers, pulp and paper, chemical technology equipment, ranching,[2] finance, commodities trading, as well as other ventures and investments.

In 2008, Forbes called it the second largest privately held company in the United States (after Cargill) with an annual revenue of about $98 billion,[3][4][5] down from the largest in 2006. If Koch Industries were a public company in 2007, it would rank about 16 in the Fortune 500.[6]

That, my friends, is a big, big company.

From this different wiki, here is information on their political activities:

Charles and David's father, Fred C. Koch, was a co-founder of the John Birch Society.[1] He gave a speech in 1963 warning of “a takeover” of America in which Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us”.[3][unreliable source?]

David H. Koch was a Libertarian vice-presidential candidate in 1980 on a platform that advocated the abolition of Social Security, the FBI, the CIA, and public schools.[3][5][unreliable source?] Koch put $500,000 into the race, and he and Ed Clark, his presidential running mate, won 1% of the vote—the best libertarian showing in a U.S. presidential race to date. But the experience caused David Koch to change course: "I had enough," he said. "We are not a nation that debates issues. We vote on candidates' personalities." By 1984, David had parted company with the Libertarian party, because, he said, "they nominated a ticket I wasn't happy with" and "so many of the hard-core Libertarian ideas are unrealistic."[5]

Since then, Charles and David Koch have adopted a much less visible strategy toward advancing their libertarian and pro-corporate agenda.[citation needed] Jane Mayer says that they are now so secretive that "they are not just undercover, but underground".[6] In 1986, David Koch helped found the Citizens for a Sound Economy, and has given over $21 million to the Cato Institute.[7]

[edit] Charles G. KochCharles G. Koch funds and supports libertarian and free-market organizations such as the Cato Institute,[2] which he co-founded with Edward H. Crane and Murray Rothbard in 1977,[8] and is a board member at the Mercatus Center, a market-oriented research think tank at George Mason University. Koch supported his brother's candidacy for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.[9] After the bid, Koch told a reporter that conventional politics "tends to be a nasty, corrupting business ... I’m interested in advancing libertarian ideas".[9] In addition to funding think tanks, Charles and David also support libertarian academics[10] and (since 1992) Koch funds the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program through the Institute for Humane Studies which recruits and mentors young libertarians.[11] Koch is also chair of the Institute's board of directors.[12] Koch also organizes twice yearly meetings[13] of Republican donors.[2]

In the August 2010 New Yorker, Jane Mayer writes that "As their fortunes grew, Charles and David Koch became the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America."[9] The Koch brothers fund a multitude of groups opposed to fiscally left-wing policies, including Americans for Prosperity.

That is interesting stuff. I literally had no idea who these people were, yet they are very active in the Cato Institute, a place I have read from frequently.

Per Open Secrets, it looks like their PAC donates to Republicans by a ten to one margin over Democrats, at least on the federal level. They are without doubt a heavy hitter.

According to this (I know it is Mother Jones) Walker received $43,000 from the Koch Brothers in the 2010 campaign. Walker probably received some more Koch money "around the horn" from other groups that the Kochs donated to. Lets say the total, just for kicks, is $75 thousand. I have nothing to support that number, it is just a WAG.

So we have a governor who has received $75 grand in campaign donations. If I believe the heavy breathing going on all over the place I am supposed to grasp the concept that $75 grand is enough for Scott Walker to write no bid contracts of state owned power plants to the Koch Brothers companies, or subsidiaries into the budget repair bill. Sounds nice.

Lets talk about the state of Wisconsin owned power plants. Information on them isn't easy to find, believe it or not.

This article says that the state owns 34 power plants, worth $235mm. But:

Several state power plants are under scrutiny because of their air pollution, raising a question about how marketable they may be.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency began an investigation to determine whether plants at UW campuses and prisons were in violation of the Clean Air Act. In addition, air pollution standards being implemented by the EPA are expected to result in older coal-fired power plants' needing to add pollution controls or switch to cleaner-burning natural gas.

"The state knows darn well that it has got compliance issues with these aging coal plants, and so the violations are going to have to be corrected," said Jennifer Feyerherm of the Sierra Club in Madison. "How the governor thinks he can put lipstick on that pig and sell huge financial and environmental liabilities to someone else, good luck. Bottom line, those plants need to be cleaned up."

I wonder how well the Koch Brothers companies would play with the Sierra club. And that EPA investigation is not small potatoes. From this article:

The federal agency sent the state Department of Administration a letter Thursday requesting information about the plants. They include power plants on UW campuses at Eau Claire, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Menonomie, Superior and Whitewater.

Three Madison plants are included: Capitol Heat and Power, Mendota Mental Health Institute, and Hill Farms. Also included in the request for information are plants at the Northern Wisconsin Center, Waupun Correctional Facility and the Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

The state Department of Natural Resources has already notified the DOA that plants at the Mendota Mental Health Institute and on the campuses at Eau Claire, La Crosse, Oshkosh and River Falls are not in compliance and that five others may also be in violation of the Clean Air Act.

At issue is whether millions of dollars worth of upgrades at some of the coal-burning plants increased the potential for the plants to emit more pollution. The Clean Air Act, passed in 1970, grandfathered existing power plants but the law also required that those plants obtain new permits and install more pollution controls to meet standards if they underwent major modifications that increased emissions.

So it is apparent that many of these power plants would require millions of dollars of upgrades to be allowed to run at all.

OK. Lets imagine that the Koch brothers decide to buy the plants and are allowed to do so by the Walker administration. They don't own the distribution! From what I have seen (I cannot find a complete list) most of these power plants are TINY and are made to power one specific institution such as Mendota Mental Health Institution here in Madison. Will M G and E, Alliant Utilities and the others in the state allow them on their grid? How much will that cost? Again, I can only imagine millions.

So I guess this all leads me to my point number five from above - why in the world would a company that has revenues of NINETY EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR want to screw around with a bunch of broken down, out of compliance, teeny tiny power plants???

Can anyone help me out here? Or am I correct in that this will be just another lefty talking point, something that someone just spews out without any thinking or trying to make sense of, like when we blamed Halliburton for all the troubles in the world in the years 2000-2008. I think I know the answer.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saturday Night at the Protest, Part Two

Here is my final installment of my Saturday Night at the Protest.

Click any photo for larger.

The Capitol Building was trashed. And I don't mean that there was a lot of trash laying around. The whole place had these handmade and pre-printed signs taped up all over it. It looks like sh!t.

This dude looked to me to be intoxicated on...something. He was happy that people were leaving him alone to play his little game where you balance the thing on the...heck I have no clue.

Some people weren't too imaginative with their signs.

This guy must have agreed to spend the night at the capitol to get la!d. Just a guess. Probably accurate. I can't imagine anything lower on my priority totem pole when I was in college than spending the night at a protest unless that was attached to a girl or booze or both, and in no particular order.

And here is my favorite protester of them all. One man, one mission. More on him in a bit.

A local pizza joint put up an ad on facebook and people from anywhere, including out of state, could buy pizzas for the protesters that they would deliver to the capitol. Smart guys! I am sure they have made a killing this past week.

This was the shapliest protester that I saw. I hope it is a female. As you can see, it is purple thong day at the capitol.

By far the largest security presence was at the entrance to the House and Senate chambers. You weren't getting near. The cops were all very nice and asnwererd all of my stupid questions.

We miss Russ. Too bad. I don't.

Henry LaFollette got defaced.

Here is the ragtag group making the noise from above. Toward the end, the guy with the PARTY! sign shows up and starts chanting USA USA USA for some reason known to nobody but him. My hero. You can see someone asking him "what the hell?". Classic.

Here is a video to get an idea of the noise - it was terrifying. I literally do not understand how the people could stand it. At the 56 second mark I pose the question "Do you have any idea what he's saying?" - the woman on my right blurted out "no" and the woman on my left said that you can hear him better when he is speaking this way. Again, note the sane people on the outside of the chanters doing nothing.

I had never been to anything like this before and learned a lot. Don't believe all the nice video and photos you see on TV.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday Night at the Protest, Part One

Saturday, February 19 I decided to go down to the capitol building here in Madison to see what was going on. Just in case, I armed myself with things that I am legally allowed to carry concealed.

Collapsable baton courtesy of James.

The following photos and video were taken a few hours after the enormous protests and counter protests of earlier on this day. Crowds were estimated at 70k. When I got there, the place was pretty quiet. It is about 8pm. Here is a video of the outside. I approached the wrong door. They had two doors of the building opened.

Here is what I found when I found the correct entrance. This video is very telling, for two reasons. The first is that the place had a lot of people in it, but I was able to easily walk right up to the center of the demonstrations. Secondly, well I will wait until you view the video for my second point.

Notice anything? Almost every single one of the normal looking adults in the place were simply standing and observing. Not holding signs, not yelling, clapping, nothing. Almost every single one of the people yelling, drumming and on the bullhorn were one of two types of people: college kids, or dead enders.

What a sorry display this is. More in the coming days.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.

Monday Morning Blues, Protest Edition

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rotunda Report

I posted this at Chicago Boyz last night, thought I should post it here as well. I went down to the Capitol Building here in Madison.

The time was around 8pm Saturday when I was down there. The streets around the capitol are all open. Foot traffic is a bit above normal. There are the odd one or two people here and there walking around outside with signs. I ran into the typical amount of drunk college kids. There is a LOT of trash around the capitol building. The streets department has simply left the barricades on the streets around the capitol so they can just slide them over tomorrow or Monday for the next round of rallies. The cops and everyone else will probably get a break tomorrow as we have a major snow and ice storm scheduled for Sunday. That will no doubt keep the crowds down a bit.

Inside the capitol there were quite a few people, but fewer than I expected. I was able to walk right up to the center of the rotunda, where people were yelling and banging drums. The volume is absolutely terrifying. The sound in the rotunda is good – it was louder on the upper levels. I have no idea how the people in there can stand it. It would drive me totally bananas. I don’t know how anyone will sleep in there tonight, but people are bedding down.

It appeared that members of the UW band were the drummers. The vast majority of the people I saw there were either college kids or dead enders.

Most of the people who looked like they were bedding down for the night were college kids. Someone was delivering free pizzas (boy did those look nasty) to the protesters. They also had bottled water there. I took one to deplete my enemies’ supplies.

The bathrooms were surprisingly clean. I have seen much worse at Soldier Field.

The entire capitol building is covered in signs. They are taped all over the place. It looks like shit.

I have tons of photos and video I will upload in the coming days.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Open Letter To Senator John Erpenbach

State Senator John Erpenbach
Room 106 South
State Capitol
PO Box 7882
Madison, WI 5307-7882

Senator Erpenbach,
This letter is to inform you and your staff about my disappointment and anger in regards to you leaving the state before a senate vote on February 17. It doesn’t matter whether I voted for you or not. The fact of the matter is this – I am now essentially disenfranchised. My elected representative is not present at the capitol building to vote on proposed legislation.

You have made the reasons for doing this clear in televised interviews. You did it because you didn’t like the legislation. People can call you a sore loser since your party was drummed out in the general election, or make other accusations. I will do no such thing.

I consider my rights as a law abiding citizen SACROSANCT. I am now disenfranchised. I will do everything in my power from here on to help your primary opponents, and general election opponents. I will volunteer for your opponents and donate money to their campaigns.

You cannot apologize to make it right. You cannot undo this. You have crossed the line.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Trader Vic's

I love Tiki bars and the entire tiki-lifestyle. Once I even purchased a whole tiki bar for a friend of mine (on a dare, kind of).

Recently I went to Trader Vic's on State Street (they closed the one in the loop) and stopped by for a drink. I love the giant-size xmas lights and the skull shaped drinking glasses. Highly recommended if you are in the area.

Where's Tobruk?

Recently Libya has been in the news as protests rise against their long-time strongman.  In all the news pictures that I see, however, one question keeps popping up in my mind - "Where's Tobruk?"  If you are thinking the same thing maybe you grew up on Avalon Hill games, too.  I think that there is a 2-1 attack coming with a 1 in 6 chance of elimination (now that is for the real diehards).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Border Wars

In case you haven’t noticed, recent political developments have created business opportunities for the states of Indiana and Wisconsin at the expense of Illinois. Governors from both neighboring Indiana and Wisconsin jumped at the possibility of luring businesses out of Illinois and into their states.

I believe Wisconsin was first by offering tax incentives to any business that relocates from Illinois. Next was New Jersey airing radio ads luring Illinois businesses there. The new New Jersey governor recorded the voice over himself.

The state of Indiana is officially on board but corrupt Lake County Indiana (we call it Cook County East) officials are aware that Mitch is spending his time luring businesses to Indianapolis, not Lake County. This prompted the Northwest Indiana Forum to go rogue.

An article in the local newspaper covered a recent Northwest Indiana Forum press conference where they announced it will run a $200,000. ad campaign to lure businesses from Illinois to Northwest Indiana.

From the article:

"In January, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation hiking Illinois' personal income tax rate to 5 percent from 3 percent and its corporate income tax rate to 7 percent from 4.8 percent. That amounted to a 66 percent hike in the personal income tax and a 46 percent hike in the corporate rate."

Not one word about cutting excess from their budget. None.

Many states are in deep financial doo-doo. In the case of Illinois they are being hoist on their own petard. Years of reckless democrat spending and labor union thuggery has not only caught up with them, they are now buried in severe debt. Their newly elected governor is a doosh (so what’s new?). He promised tax increases to fight their debt and won on that promise.

The whole state of Illinois is not to blame, it’s the two counties around Chicago that elected him, he lost in every other Illinois county.

So here we go, the tri-state battle for business.

No predictions from me but I sure am anxious to see how this one plays out.


He'll move so fast you'll freak.

Not a big loss for Illinois but sandwich icon and lifelong Illinois resident Jimmy John has left the state. Corp to soon follow?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Another Damn Valentine's Day

I am like any other man. All I do is supply a demand. - Al Capone

Monday Morning Blues

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nothing Says Successful Investor Like a Diamond Studded Grille

The photo above is a "grille". It was made for the running back of the Seattle Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch. It says "beast mode" on it. Lynch says he has to get into "beast mode" when he starts playing. Here is the famous run that Lynch made in last years playoff game.

Hell of a run, that.

What exactly is a grille? It is a formed mouthpiece that people (usually rappers and athletes) buy that is usually gold, studded with jewels. I don't know who started the grille thing but man, it has to be one of the most worthless investments that a person can possibly make.

It gets me to thinking about one of my favorite topics, athletes going broke. In general, I am more interested in the not so glamorous side of sports - the gambling, the broken bodies, the steroids, the dark side. We don't hear too much about these athletes going broke, but they do at a staggering pace.

Sports Illustrated wrote this fantastic article about the subject of pro athletes squandering their fortunes.

A few staggering stats from the article: By the time they are retired for two years, 78% of NFL players file for bankruptcy or are under financial stress due to divorce or other problems. Within five years, 60% of all NBA players are broke.


So why?

Family problems (divorce/tons of kids by too many mothers)
Letting family/friends take care of their financials
Frivolous spending
Stupid investments

A large part of the article is spent talking about these stupid investments. A restaruant or t-shirt company or auto dealership is much more interesting and tangible than a diversified portfolio of stocks or bonds and that is why many pro athletes are likely to invest (and lose) their money in them. I found that interesting and it was nothing I had ever thought about before.

In a past life, I considered opening up a business that would cater to athletes and others (like lottery winners) to try to educate them on basic investment techniques. Speaking of lottery winners, in the above article, the athletes are frequently compared to lottery winners, who also end up broke pretty quickly after their winning millions of dollars.

That business idea I had wasn't to be, and I am sure that someone has done it. But it isn't really helping much. Athletes, who have such short income earning time continue to spend their money and waste it at a blistering pace. Maybe they, in the end, are actually good for the economy as every dollar they make goes right back into the consumption circle. But the creditors they screw in the end certainly don't feel that way.

The Vice of the Device

When Apple introduced the iPad I shrugged. Another gadget intended to glue your eyes to a screen all day, as if I need any more of that. In my observation, it’s simply another overpriced gadget that will run your life I thought, if you allow it. Most seem to allow it.

It has taken every bit of will power on my behalf to resist buying an iPhone. I have seen way too many individuals become enslaved by that thing. Maybe this year when my old contract expires I will entertain the notion. Maybe. Until then my camera will take photos, my phone will continue to make the phone calls and my business computer will suffice for getting work done, although I will be upgrading it this year.

When my son Andy showed up at Christmas he had his own iPad. It was impressive but not enough to interest me. But the wife went nuts for the pad once she saw what it did and how ‘cute’ it was. Too late, I already bought a Christmas gift.

The iPad is the perfect computer for her. Up until the present she used my laptop to do all her personal computing needs, most of which is email, shopping on the web, playing card games and majong.

I had considered getting her an Apple Macbook but they are a bit too pricey and overkill. The Mac Mini was another option we considered but it would be anchored at a desk or nook. No portability. The iPhone is small. She isn’t too crazy about one of those.

She loves to read books and magazines. She reads a lot. One feature that drew my attention to the iPad was the book, magazine and newspaper downloads available with full color photos. The Kindle and other book reader devices cannot compare because of their obvious limitations. They may be less expensive you get what you pay for.

With my seven year old laptop about to gag and with her birthday coming up I had found the iPad to be the gift of all gifts (she’s always been easy to please).

The gift of an iPad was a home run.

Try as one may, a laptop is portable but nothing like this. She can use it on the couch, in a chair, in bed, in the kitchen and even on the toilet if the need arises when nature calls.

The pad can be placed in the kitchen near the cook space to display recipes. The kids bought a folder/holder protective case. Nice.

We have a wireless network in the home so it would have been excessive to choose the 3G AT&T capability for another $125 plus monthly data charges with all the wifi available. It will be used primarily in the home.

So far she has been glued to the damn thing, as expected. Mission accomplished.

The iPad is not for me personally. If a ‘device’ cannot instantly crunch at least 1gb of imaging data in a Photoshop file with over 100 layers then I have no use for it. For the others who do not need a power monster with a huge display to get work done then the iPad is one hell of a device for most personal needs.

I am not one to be dazzled by the latest technology. Call me jaded. But after a spending a few days seeing what an iPad can do I am very, very impressed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Left Behind

It has been days since Snowpocalypse and I still see the occasional completely buried car out on the street.  I'd advise moving it soon or the snowplow will come and "citify" it...

Utilitarian Snack

You can't get more descriptive or to the point than "Salted Rings".

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Changes At The Gym

I mentioned a while ago that the gym is moving. I am much better about it now then I was before. Their overhead will be reduced by a large amount. Most importantly for me they are cancelling the kids programs. I hate those kids. I go to the gym to work, but the work relaxes me. Hearing those little sh!ts screaming and yelling bothered me.

The new facility will be a shared place. We will be sharing space with an established local trainer, and will get access to the training equipment there. So members will get 24 hour access to treadmills, weights, and other top notch training equipment, as well as the bags and pads and other things that our gym will bring.

Along with this comes a new strengh coach for me. Sharing overhead for these two businesses is good, and I am sure that they will be sharing clients.

I lose my boot camp at the current gym, but with that money I was paying, I can have private sessions with the fitness instructors at the new place. Apparently they are experts at structuring workouts toward certain sports so this will be great to get a different perspective on strength training as relates to my running and biking. Biking especially, with my trip to France coming in just a little over four months.

So it will be sad to leave the old gym and I am sure some of the current clients will drop out, but new faces and new perspectives are always great too.

To boot, the class times have changed so I will be able to get back into coaching and training fighters (pro and amateur), one of the things I was missing for the past six months or so.

We have a new batch of insane young men that want to step into the squared circle - some of them look like diamonds in the rough and I am looking forward to being a part of getting them into fighting shape. Fighters are weird. One day we have nobody interested in fighting, the next day a half dozen want to fight. Sort of like waves on a beach.

At The Snowbound Banister Café

There is a two week wait for a table.

Our regularly scheduled BBQ programming will resume soon.

Another 8" of unpredicted lake effect showed up on Tuesday.

We'll be fine.

I think.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Mysticism and Martial Arts

Martial Arts, to many, is s series of hi-yas, spinning jumping kicks, senseis, mysticism, broken boards and belt progression.

I don't know whos fault it is, but I blame the Japanese for a lot of it. Karate and the traditions associated with it became intertwined with martial arts here in the US. The popularity of Kung Fu action movies hasn't helped. When I try to explain to people the differences between Muay Thai and Karate, I get a lot of glassed over looks. People just don't understand, and many do not want to understand, and that that is fine with me.

With the surging popularity of Mixed Martial Arts, and the UFC in particular, Muay Thai has been thrust into the spotlight a bit. Anderson Silva is probably the worlds best fighter pound for pound right now and hasn't lost a fight in five years. He is an old Muay Thai fighter (or nak muay) who has taken his standup to the next level.

Here is a video of how to do a "teep", also called a foot jab.

Silva in the fight last Saturday, faked low, then teeped Belfort to the grille for the knockout, plain and simple.

But then you get azzholes like this chiming in.

What a load of crap. Stuff like this sets back martial arts decades if people believe it. The secret kick he was perfecting for 40 years - sure it was. Can Seagal even do a kick anymore? And who says a fat asz like Steven Seagal would be training the worlds best MMA fighter? The techniques that Seagal learned are virtually useless in today's MMA world. NOBODY uses Aikido and hardly anyone uses Karate.

What do they use?

Muay Thai and Western Boxing for standup and striking.
Wrestling for transitions.
Jiu Jitsu for ground game.

That is it. Nothing magical, nothing mysterious, just tons and tons and tons of hard work.

Man I would love to spar Seagal. With all of his blackbelts he should by rights kick my butt. But I know what would happen, I would kill this guy because he is fat and out of shape. He really isn't even a good caricature of himself anymore. And when he says crap like in that interview above, it helps nobody but perhaps himself. That is, if you believe him...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Had a wing ding at work today with chili and wings. Of course, this being Wisconsin the caterer gave us the leftovers in the most logical container possible, crappy beer plastic pitchers.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Monday Morning Blues

Band of Horses are a great band and this song Laredo is fantastic. This is from the David Letterman show and is a spot-on version.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Strange Law Randomly Applied

On the way home today I stopped at a liquor store and four convenience stores to start gathering candidates for the next crappy beer challenge.

At the convenience stores I found one unique king can at each place. At the first one the guy started putting my treasure into a paper sack and I told him that was OK, I didn't need a bag. He said he had to bag it.

At the next convenience store the same thing happened. I told the girl I didn't need a bag, and she said it was a law that she had to bag it. I asked her if she knew why and she said that supposedly it is a deterrent to people opening the beer in their cars. Uh yea.

At the third convenience store, same thing. One king can, she started to bag it. For kicks I told her that I didn't need a bag. She said OK and handed me the can and the change. Next.

Pretty bizarre. This have never happened to me when buying a sixer.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Dan's Nightmare

Late last Saturday night I ended up at the Cork Lounge which is right by the Addison and Lincoln brown line stop (remodeled). As it turns out they have a great beer selection, with lots of beers on tap and in bottles all on a giant blackboard, but two signs caught my eye.

And they were playing "The Devil's Rejects" by Rob Zombie on one TV and one of those SyFy movies with a giant Alligator. A lot of distractions from bad beer.

The Snow Blower Creed

This is my snow blower. There are many like it but this one is mine.

My snow blower is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

Without me, my snow blower is useless. Without my snow blower I am useless.

I must start my snow blower on the first pull. I must blow snow farther than my neighbor, who is trying to finish first.

I must out snow blow him before he out snow blows me. I will.

Before God I swear this creed: my snow blower and myself are defenders of my driveway, we are the masters of my walkways, we are the saviors of my life.

So be it, until there is no snow to blow, but peace. Amen."

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Snowpocalypse Live Blog

Trying something different... a live blog where we update it in the post rather than in the comments. Gerry and Dan feel free to chime in from Indiana and Wisconsin! Just put your updates above the latest one.

Chicago 8:30 pm Wednesday

Surprisingly the restaurants that are open are very full.  A lot of people live downtown nowadays so even if the commuters and workers aren't here there are many that remain.

The streets and sidewalks were at least partially cleared; some do a good job and many are terrible.  Also the plows come by and block the sidewalks at the crossing intersections.

So far it isn't very cold and windy.  That must be scheduled for later tonight. 

Chicago 3:45 pm Wednesday

All quiet downtown.  The traffic seems to be moving and the roads are cleared (can't speak for the rest of the city, just what I can see out the window).  With all the salt down and the sun shining there has been some melting on the roads and some sidewalks that have been shoveled down to pavement.

Will be VERY cold here tonight lows below -10 and with high winds to boot.

Madison 2.23 pm Wedesday


The second I pushed "enter" for that last post my wife called me from the farm. "I need you out here and you need to bring a gun". Talk about wtf!!! Well, one of our cattle, Earl, was IN the round feeder. He wasn't raising any hell, yet and the wife wanted to be prepared. She has also called the vet out in case he needed to be sedated while we disassembled the feeder to get him out. Earl is probably the friskiest of our cattle, and he has asserted dominance over all but our largest cow. For those not in the know, our round feeder looks like this:
Ours is larger and heavier being for cattle but you get the drift. Ah yes, drift is the word. The snow had drifted up so high that Earl just walked right into the feeder to get the hay in the middle since they ate all the hay around the edges.
We were getting ready to disassemble the feeder and he decided that he had enough and walked out, thank god. I spent the next hour and a half digging it out, digging out the cattle watering area, the chicken coop, and the horse run in. The drifting was insane, the wife will be bobcatting all day out there tomorrow.
The rural roads are amazingly bad and the drifts are so high I don't ever remember they being that tall. You almost feel like you are driving through a tunnel at times. Tons of cars stranded in the medians, and I don't see any hope of them getting out until the thaw now that they are drifted in. The cops have affixed traffic cones on top of the cars so you know where they are!
It is time for a beer.

Chicago 1:30 pm Wednesday

On the way to work around 9am this morning I saw a lunatic RIDING A BICYCLE. Now that's nuts.
There were a few buses out but the ones that I saw were mostly empty. The bus tracker application from the CTA that I saw didn't seem to work too well.
People were walking in the street because it was the easiest way to get around. On any other day this spot under the "El" tracks on Lake Street would be full of cars. Also note the blowing snow.

I thought this was funny. Want to meet a single in Chicago who is up to his neck in snow?
Finally, this is a "snow plan" for a day like today.
Madison 12.12 pm Wednesday

For the first time in a decade I am making the conscious decision to lay down and take a nap. Can't think of a better use of a snow day.

Valparaiso 12 pm Wednesday

The groundhog poked his head out of the hole this morning. Go see what he has to say and try not to laff.

Madison 11.09 am Wednesday

The media is trying as best they can to keep the storm going but it is pretty much over up here. Most businesses including mine are closed. The winds are about half of what they were this morning and the plows are starting to catch up. Just got home from the gym and the parking lot for that was an adventure to say the least. By this evening it should be business as usual. bfd.

Valparaiso 9:30 am Wednesday

The reports are in. Conditions are very bad in the outlying areas. As public service to our viewers - do not go out lying in those areas. That is all.

Chicago 9 am Wednesday

I am dressing for cold weather and going to walk down town into work. I have my rain pants on over my lined jeans and a change of clothes in my backpack because none of the sidewalks are shoveled and will be a lot of trudging through drifts. It is supposed to get SUPER cold here tonight with wind chill adjusted temps in the -30 to -40 range so I will be planning to get out of there a bit early. Also will snap photos along the way.

Valparaiso 8:05 am Wednesday

No big whup out here, I'm guessing at 12" but hard to tell with the drifts. That's on top of the 8-9" that was already on the ground. Looks like Chicago got slammed with the worst. Later on as it all winds down I will give the driveway a blow job and take some pix for posting.

Chicago 7:30 am Wednesday

Woke up and the radio announcers were going crazy like this was the most important event ever to hit Chicago. A lot of the chatter was about the fiasco on Lake Shore Drive which was shut down with people stuck in their cars for hours and many cars stranded. Finally the authorities pulled everyone out of their cars whether they wanted to leave or not. The announcers were saying that with this many days' notice we figured we'd do better than the last blizzard, but we didn't.

They have run the plows down the main streets and I've seen a couple of buses and a few cars but mostly everything is deserted. Here you can see pedestrians walking down Grand Avenue which is usually completely packed with rush hour traffic at this time of the morning. That truck is probably trying to deliver food to the nearby Jewel; it moved later.
The trains do seem to be running. This is a bit blurry but it is an "El" train by Merchandise Mart.

5.31 am Wednesday Madison

Well, that was an interesting commute. The roads are a total crapshoot. I figured that if I could get out of my subdivision and through my industrial park that I would be fine. It was the reverse. My subdivision and industrial park were great compared to the main roads. Most are down to half their usual lanes. The Beltline, the main east-west road in Madison which is usually three or four lanes is down to one or two depending on the place. Stoughton Road, a major north-south thoroughfare is totally insane, with many cars off the side of the road and totally buried. The wind is still whipping. Technically we are closed here today, pretty much everything is. The commute was made easier by the lack of cars on the road.

11:30 pm Chicago

A video (sorry about all the wind noise) of the storm going full-blast. The streets are pretty much deserted only a few cars slowly going down the street and a few pedestrians.

11:00 pm Chicago

HOLY CRAP! It is really coming down like crazy. The wind is blowing the snow vertically and it is accumulating fast. It suddenly feels like the sky is really opening up. It is snowing much harder now than it did before.

9:45 pm Chicago

Horror of horrors! Binny's had to close early today! I'm sure the liquor stores in Madison will be open extra early tomorrow for the students as Dan pointed out below since class is canceled.

They were doing pretty well with plowing the streets but now they are falling behind. The snow is starting to fall more and accumulate downtown.

Our intrepid reporter Carl went out in the blizzard to talk with some locals and take some photos. Everyone else was also a noobie when it came to Thunder Snow, too. Some girl kept calling the bar to see if it was open and the bartender was like, yes, I'm answering the damn phone of course it is open.

9.11 pm Tuesday Madison

haha Carl's first thundersnow - we get it about once a year up here. Not so tonight, but is snowing steadily and the winds are insane. The wife reports that many rural roads are drifting shut.

8:45 pm Tuesday Chicago

We are experiencing BIG TIME Thunder Snow! That happens when you get snow and thunder and lightning at the same time. It just happened three times here in downtown Chicago and I have never seen anything like that in my entire life. I thought it was a joke when they referred to it on the Colbert Report but boy was I wrong. Now I need to go outside and see everything from the ground level. It is snowing like crazy!

8:45 pm Tuesday Indiana

No big whup out here. 3-4 inches maybe. Hard to tell with the wind. It looks like a dud for NWI. So far.

Think I'll go lay on the couch. zzzzzzzzzzzz

7.31 pm Tuesday Madison

They have just announced that classes at UW are cancelled for tomorrow, look out liquor stores. It still isn't snowing very hard but it is blowing like a mofo and that is causing the roads to be tough sledding, at least outside my house. Times like this make me thank my lucky stars that we have cheap, reliable power and a great utility like M G and E. I am afraid the way we are going that in a few decades power will be a huge issue if we don't start adding to our base load fleet and soon.

7.11 pm Tuesday Madison

Ugh. We just had an alarm put in at our farm property today and we are getting a low temp alarm. I think it is a malfunction, but the wife says she needs to go out there and have a look see, and is stopping on the way at Menards to pick up an electric heater. She called there and they are not closing early, open until 9. We will get a good idea of the road conditions upon her return.

6.30 pm Tuesday Madison

The snow isn't coming down too hard, but the wind is blowing like crazy which will cause problems since we had a few inches of snow yesterday. I am thinking that we may not get the worst of this storm for ONCE.

5:30pm Tuesday Chicago

Most people left work early. Winds are picking up but it wasn't too bad around 4:30 at least in the Loop.