Friday, December 31, 2010

Oh, 2010

A quick twirl through Facebook and the Twitter give me the impression that a lot of folks are saying, "don't let the door hit on the way out", to 2010. While I respect that everyone's life is different, I can honestly say that 2010 was a beautiful year in the life of Madame Jones.

Sure, there were things I was very unhappy about: getting involved with someone who seemed like the One, only to find out he was an abusive jerk; some of the pain that came along with strengthening my boundaries where friends were concerned, my vacation was spoiled, and I realize that my time with Grandma is coming to a close. And, as some of you know, I have anxiety. That's not going to change very much, but it's mine.

But for all of the heartache and other things that came with 2010, I don't understand the mindset of saying, "get out of here [insert year]". It's kind of criminal to be ungrateful for your life. Here you are, in all of your glory, and the best part is that you can make CHOICES and that your life belongs to you. Isn't that something to be extremely thankful for? Bad stuff happens, sure, but think about all of the joyful moments of 2010....

- time with your family, they are here and as healthy as they can be in this moment
- your friends, who like your family, are not always perfect. Friends and family heal you, share in your joys and sufferings (if you let them), and help you grow.
- We live in the most abundant country in the world. If you don't have that 88 inch plasma TV, who the fuck cares? The things you actually need are a phone call or a short drive away
- we live in the freest country in the world, even with all of the encroachments. We are still free to use our energy and wherewithal to pursue our dreams - even if we're not doing that right now to our fullest potential
- all of the graces that God grants us, even when we are not able or awake enough to recognize or appreciate them

Life is a good thing in and of itself. If we don't like it, we can change it. But it's a shame to shut it out and lump the good with the bad and dismiss it. Isn't that what's happening with the way history is taught nowadays? Don't let that be you. Yes, 2010 is history, and it's yours.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more

Along with much of our once grand culture, this quote from Popeye is sorely overlooked and forgotten. 

And so damn good and relevant today.

If you've gotta hear it (I did), advance to 4:40

Monday, December 27, 2010


How funny would it be to put one of these into a friend or relative's bed?

Now you can own your very own Horse Head pillow!

I dare you to beat me to it.  Dareya.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Discovering Fulton Sheen

Being a traditional Catholic keeps getting better all the time. It's never stagnant, never the same old tepidity of the Novus Ordo (that's modern Catholicism if you're not familiar). So sad that the traditions of wisdom and fruit of the spirit have fallen by the wayside. Without truth, nothing can progress. Without truth and discipline together, we just sit there.

While reading my more usual Catholic reads, I often heard the name of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. While I knew he was renown, I didn't know that he also had radio and television shows from the 30's through the end of the 60's. The magic of the interwebs provides a platform for anyone to access his television programs. Yesterday, I watched a couple of episodes of his Life Is Worth Living program. I wanted to share these with you, and encourage you to take time to watch other series by the Archbishop. Watch these or any other episodes of his program, and you'll see a style of teaching and authority of presence that was once more common in education. Maybe not everywhere, but more than we see today. They taught us how to learn.

When I watch videos like the ones posted here, I am reminded that all inspiration and law comes from God. It's hard to be human, we want and we want so much, we want it now, and preferably for our own selves, first. Without slowing down and thinking about our thought, it's easy to let things get away from us and take on lives of their own... right under our own roofs.

The truth is simple in itself, but hard to adhere to. We make things complicated in extrapolation and hiding from what we don't want to see. With that in mind, you may find this very refreshing. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Immaculate Conception

Today is Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation in the Catholic church. I attended the solemn high mass this evening and the old rite Latin mass never disappoints. Although I was tired and mentally slushy, God still finds ways to shake me from my slumber in all his reverent ways.

At the end of mass, I found this prayer in my missal:

Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

O Mary, Virgin and Mother most holy,
behold I have received thy dearly beloved son,
Whom thou didst concieve in they immaculate womb,
didst bring forth and nourish and strain to thyself
in sweetest embrace.
Behold Him Whose every glance filled thee with joy and all delight:
Him I present and offer to the in loving humility,
to be clasped in thy arms and loved in thy heart,
and to be offered in supreme adoration to the most Holy Trinity,
for thine own honour and glory,
for my needs, and for the needs of the whole world.
I beg thee, therefore, most dear Mother,
obtain for me forgiveness of all my sins,
the precious grace of serving thee more faithfully for the future,
and that final grace of being able along with thee
to praise Him through endless ages.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's Here...

It's officially official - my aluminum Christmas tree has been up since last night. Today I found the right bulb for my color wheel and Merry Christmas, my tree is done!

I might decorate it yet. Or not. Sure looks spiffy from the outside with all the lights off.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Historian Bob Baumann

Milwaukee has a long history of tearing down some beautiful structures. In the "Making of Milwaukee,"a series created and narrated by John Gurda, he describes many turn of the century structures that were torn down during the 60s and 70s. On more than one occasion, citizens protested the razing of historical buildings and houses, only to have the city tear them down in the middle of the night. Schwartz book stores used to carry an impressive selection of books about architecture in Milwaukee. I'll bet you didn't know that the landfill that Summerfest is built upon contains the ruins of the mansions once located in the Yankee Hill/Juneau Avenue area.

I wasn't here to witness this myself, but through conversations with relatives and other longtime Milwaukeeans, I've heard story after story of history's destruction. From what I can gather, the attitude at the time was that these buildings were simply... "old".

The construction of the Milwaukee freeways in the 50s and 60s meant the clearing of many buildings and homes, and unfortunately, they never finished the job of building the freeway. It's hard to justify the destruction of some property over another, but we would have a more functional freeway system today if we hadn't had "environmental studies" and former Mayor Norquist standing in the way of progress. Take a look at this map and tell me that the Park and Stadium Freeways wouldn't have helped you out on many an occasion, not to mention encourage movement throughout the city. It made sense, it was an example of good demolition for a strategic purpose.

2010: Marriott Hotels proposes a new hotel site in downtown Milwaukee, on a city block that is convenient to the financial institutions and Summerfest grounds. Upscale, modern, excellent brand, JOBS, and much needed hotel space could be ours. Instead, Alderman Bob Baumann has decided that this crumbling dump is more valuable than progress:

(all photos are clickable)

Let's look at this building. We aren't looking at anything special. Other than the excellent poured glass windows, it's rather generic. There are many signs of alteration and shifting...half of the storefronts are bricked up on the low end, the upper right corner is separating from the building and is going to fall off, and hardly any of the windows are plumb anymore (shifting). There isn't anything significant about this building that I can find, and from what I understand through third party, there isn't anything left on the inside. If there are a few things, Baumann can get salvage rights.

The other buildings that would be torn down to make way for the Marriott are the gray roof buildings above, and the "tile" building and cream city brick buildings below. Now, those cream city storefronts are nice - the facades are in decent shape. And small enough to be put together as one storefront and relocated.

Bob Baumann argues that other "historic" buildings in the area have been renovated. Below are pictures of the buildings he's referring to, which are on other side of Milwaukee Street, north of Wisconsin Avenue. There's a very clear difference between the types of buildings that should be cleared for development, and what should not:

And my last point is the heart of my argument: does Bob Baumann understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate demolition? I'd have to argue that he doesn't. And it aligns with other anti-business decisions that he's made in the past, such as hiking the street parking rates in his district to $1.50/hr. For all of the business exposure he has as a representative, I have to conclude that Baumann is either genuinely ignorant in his assessment of what's good for his district, or he knows and purposely does not want to jump at a brilliant opportunity to upgrade the area. And it could use it.

Below are photos of the exceptional Milwaukee Depot, which would be about the same vintage as the cream city storefronts that you see above. It was razed to make way for a key segment of the Milwaukee freeway - a segment that would have linked the Park East Freeway with the Hoan Bridge and then extended to the Airport/Belt Freeway. What's there today? Not the Freeway... it was never built because John Norquist et al insisted that we stop building the freeway. Instead, we have the the O'Donnell parking structure. With a few additions and renovations, this would be a pretty nice intermodal station at the heart of downtown, no?

You can argue whether the above is good or bad demolition. This is the type of situation that calls for second thoughts - how to integrate the old and the new - and preserve our history.

Ten years from now, the crummy buildings at the proposed Marriott site will still be empty, condemned, or demolished. Bob Baumann will be long gone as an Alderman, if we're lucky. And Downtown Milwaukee will have lost out on a grand opportunity to transform a key business district. We could argue it's the last business district in Downtown Milwaukee.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Classic Men....Ricky Nelson

Excellent comment from YouTube:

"As a completely comfortable with my sexuality card carrying heterosexual I can say without fear or doubt that he was so good looking it almost hurt to look at him.

Oh yeah, the dude could sing too."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So I Rode The Bus....

It only took 40 mph winds to make this happen.  I live along a bus route and walk or bike about a mile to work. From time to time I'll call a taxi, which might be due to inclement weather, my ass being late, or frankly... I just want someone to drive me to work.

I've ridden the bus literally thousands of times.  Growing up in the 80s was not like it is now.  We couldn't boss our parents around into driving us everywhere and then subjecting them to dropping us off a block away from school.  Nope, if we wanted to go somewhere, or had to get to work after school, our ride was the bus.
Riding the bus isn't all it's cracked up to be nowadays.  It was very different when we lived in a more polite society where civil decorum was the norm. Act up, and that driver was going to tell you to get off the bus.  And for the most part, the perps did just that. Anyhow, even when we were more civil, I promised myself that one day I'd have a car and the freedom to drive myself where I pleased.

Well, I broke down and hopped on the bus after work yesterday.  I'm trying to pay off some debt as you know, and the bus is cheaper than a taxi. I'll bet that my walk is one of the windiest in the entire city and you know what?  I can't remember the last time that I couldn't walk home because the wind was too strong.  That's a first.

But... the bus wasn't so bad. 

I'll remember that when it's purple toe weather.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Curse You, Computer!

Have you ever thought about how much time you spend on the computer each day? Between work and social media, blogging, facebook, checking crap, and let's throw texting in there.... I'm willing to bet it's close to 75% of your waking hours. It's a bet, but I'll bet it's embarassingly close.

I'll state for the record that I'm tired of spending time on the computer. Before computers, we didn't spend all of our time in front of a typewriter, right? We sat down, did our work, and got on to the next thing. When the paper was read, we set it down, gave it to someone else, or wrapped it around a fish or two. In my unscientific opinion, I think our brains worked a lot better back then.

Sitting in front of a computer, checking one thing after another (sometimes updated, sometimes not), is damning oneself to an eternal, unproductive, boring present. Nothing is accomplished after those three hours of staring at your screen, throwing a rock into Lake Facebook, and hoping the fish jump at this non-culinary nugget. The watching, lurking, waiting.... throwing odd terms out there...all while getting tangled up in the weeds of google. I hate it.

But I don't hate the mini-notebook, that wonderful pocket-sized invention that allows us to track calories, make lists, jot down ideas in the middle of the night, and yes....log our time. Try logging how you spend all of your online time. Date, time, duration, and the sites you hit, and whether or not it had any value to you. The results of this experiment are sickening, in my opinion. And to think that we have generations among us who have never known it to be any different. Really.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Me and Misses Jones

We got a thing goin' on.
It's a blog, baby.