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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Brr, it's cold. It's also skating season at Brookfield parks

Just for fun!, Musing, Brookfield

The temperatures have dropped and that means Brookfield's skating ponds are OPEN! I noticed the park department swept off a spot on Kinsey Park's pond and posted the sign for skating. For my neighborhood, this is a relatively new amenity.

When I was a child, Kinsey Park pond was a popular skating spot during the winter months. Our park system even provided gas heat in the warming house! (Warming house/picnic shelter is pictured at left. Open doorways were closed off during the winter months.) Those were the good ole days.

I don't recall the shelter being closed off since we moved here in the late 1980s, but they did still allow skating. At least until the fateful day when the snow sweeper machine fell through the ice!

Many of us in the neighborhood felt the weather had been a little too warm to be driving on the ice at that time, but alas, because of the accident, the pond was deemed unsafe for skating from then on.

But last February I noticed a parks department worker sweeping off the pond again and a new sign: Skating Pond OPEN. So I asked what changed their minds? He said they did some studies* and found the pond's ice was stable enough to support skating again. Great.

So this weekend, maybe you and your kids might want to grab the skates and hit the ice? Have fun.

*The City of Brookfield has done several storm water projects in our neighborhood and with Kinsey Pond. In years past, it was thought there was too much drainage water flowing into and out of the pond, under the ice. This is why they thought the ice was unstable. I believe there were some changes made since the sewer projects, and so that is no longer the case. Last winter was the first time I noticed the pond was OPEN for skating in a l-o-n-g time.
 

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Dem signs conspicuously absent from known supporting households

Musing, Elections, Politics, WISCONSIN

"They" say the race between Jim Sullivan and Leah Vukmir will be tight. Same with Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson. Scott Walker vs. Tom Barrett seems to be more predictible, after all, The Journal Sentinel endorsed Walker.  (Chalk that up to Everybody loves a winner --they don't want to be on the losing side--or they were trying to show they were not always in the tank for the Democrat.)

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"Summertime and the livin' is easy" ...make that busy

Just for fun!, Musing, Constitution, Legislation, Media/ Talk radio

Today is the first day of summer according to the calendar, though most of us have been in summer mode for weeks now. I am already having that summer is slipping away feeling.

I know I shouldn't be panicking about it. At least my 14 or so tomato plants are growing nicely, the pole beans popped up over the weekend (I was late on planting those), and my perennial bed is growing like a jungle.

Sadly, I don't have time to beat the flowers back into submission, because today I start ripping the tile off my kitchen back splash. That leads to Spackle-fest to restore the damaged area. (I love Red Devil ONETIME Lightweight Spackling Compound for the final few coats. It is much finer and feathers out nicely.) After that I must wash the remaining walls and ceiling and prep for painting by repairing the cracks, holes, and dings. Finally, the actual painting with Sherwin-Williams oil base paint. (I love that stuff; it wears like iron. Do wear a professional respirator though.) That little project should keep me busy for weeks!

We still haven't committed 100% to a summer road trip vacation. If we go, it will probably be to Yellowstone. Part of me wants to take my grandmother's advice, which is, go while you can. The other part of me is hesitant for a variety of reasons. Fiddlee-dee-dee, I'll think about that tomorrow. Right now I need to find my chisel and start popping tiles off the wall.

How about you? Any great travel plans or projects planned for the summer?

Of course I am still watching some national and local issues. The Drudgereport.com is always a good source. Beforeitsnews.com is a bit out there but interesting--especially on the BP oil spill.

Government control of the Internet by the FTC (tax and regulate internet, govt. funding of newspapers) and FCC (access) and DHS (controlling actual information) is something that should concern us all. There is an actual bill, sponsored by Lieberman, brewing in the Senate on this.

...But right now, I have to take off my political hat for my painter's hat. Happy summer!

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That was scary; stock market falls nearly 1,000 points--How about that recovery?

Musing, THE ECONOMY, World News, WISCONSIN, United States, President Obama

I had just come back from praying at City Hall Plaza and because I was wondering about the Greece debt ripple effect, I checked the stock market quote page. It was at -350. Ooh, that is not good.

Then I refreshed it: -468. Refresh: -800 something. -963 at 1:47pm, Central Time. Pretty surreal. Talk about Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!

Then it started recovering: -717. -697. -580. -472. At 2:10 back "up" to -338.95. In all, it fell 998.5 at about 2:45 pm Eastern Time, for its largest intraday drop ever, and recovered to close at -348.63. Who would ever think that number would look good?

Why? Blame it on bad news from Greece and maybe some China news too. After all, if China's economy crashes, who is going to buy our debt?

After the market rebounded back to the 300s, I checked Gold: $1,203.90 at 2:48pm ET, refresh, $1,204, refresh, $1207.10, refresh, $1,210.70 at 3:31pm ET

I don't believe gold has been in the $1,200 range since last December 2, 2009 when it hit $1,213. For metal market watchers, Mark Belling predicted during the summer of 2008 that gold would reach $1,200 by year end 2009. He then updated that prediction in Feb. of this year to be $1,325 by Labor Day 2010. (Silver to reach $19.75.) If the Greek debt problem expands to other downgraded countries of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, [Greece ] and Spain or PIIGS for short, Belling may need to make a new prediction.

I have long called our present recovery the falling in love with love recovery--something based on nothing more than a desire for a recovery--no real substance. Our unemployment rate is only under 10% because of all the government jobs created. The private sector still isn't really hiring.

Look at Europe with its PIIGS and huge debt. America isn't far behind--Moody's has threatened reducing our bond status. Investors look at what is happening in Europe and worry about what is happening here. In the meantime, our President, and you could add Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett too, spend money like water. Even the CBO says our Fiscal policy is 'unsustainable'.

We cannot build a recovery on spending money we don't have. Economies at the state level aren't in much better shape. California and New York are near the brink; Wisconsin is not far behind. Wisconsin is hemorrhaging jobs, yet we still push for High Speed Rail and a 3.8 mile trolley line to mention 2 foolish expenditures.

No real recovery? Roller-coaster stock and metal markets? I think we have to start saying it: It's the Spending, Stupid, both here and abroad.

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Ted Kanavas not seeking reelection for STATE Senate

Musing, Brookfield, Elections, WISCONSIN, United States

Now this is interesting: "State Senator Ted Kanavas announced today that he will not seek a third full term in the Wisconsin State Senate."* (Kanavas is not my State Senator, I have Democrat Jim Sullivan.)

Will Ted Kanavas announce he is running for U.S. Senate if Tommy Thompson decides not to run?** Thompson probably would like to bask in the Won't you run Tommy? limelight a bit more before announcing that he won't run. At least I hope he will say he is not running, because I am not much of a Thompson fan.

If you recall, Governor Thompson created BadgerCare in1999. Plus, who could forget last October when he was pushing for health care reform? (And I don't mean Congressman Paul Ryan's version of health care reform!) Thompson is too much of a McCain type Republican for my taste. I would swallow hard and vote for him if I had to, but can't we do better?

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner did hint last week on Mark Belling's talk show to be patient and that we still had time, regarding a worthy opponent to Senator Russ Feingold. Mark Belling was pushing Tommy Thompson, Mark Neumann, and even Charlie Sykes.

Is the candidate Sensenbrenner had in mind Ted Kanavas or is there still someone else? Questions, questions, questions!

This November, we have a real chance to elect a more conservative Republican to the US Senate...should one step forward. It isn't often an opportunity like this comes along. I hope we don't squander it.


*Does this mean State Representative Rich Zipperer will be moving up from the 98th Assembly District to run for the State Senate? That would open the 98th Assembly seat to someone new too. UPDATE: Zipperer did start campaigning for State Senate in Menomonee Falls tonight. (Tip: Randy Melchert) See: State Senate: 33rd District - Rich Zipperer  http://www.richzipperer.com/

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Brown needs healthy margin to win Massachusetts to beat possible fraud

Musing, Conservatives, Elections, Health care, President Obama

Today is the day! Massachusetts votes to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Will this very blue state go for the establishment Democrat or the more conservative, by comparison, Republican Scott Brown?

Polls suggest Brown will win. If you look at the polls, you can see the momentum is going to Brown. The polls from this last week range from 1 tie on up to +15 points.

President Obama did go to Massachusetts, after he said he wouldn't, to campaign for Martha Coakley. It seems his promo fell flat, although it is said he saved or created 1,000s of votes! Even the President is said to doubt Coakley will win.

But it seems a win for a Republican needs to be a bigger win than for a Democrat. MSNBC's Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews both suggested cheating or buying votes as the way to a Democrat victory. Remember the Minnesota Senate race between Coleman and Franken? During the lengthy recount process missing ballots from car trunks, etc. finally added up to a Franken victory. Brown needs to have enough of a victory to prevent recount mischief.

I admit I will be on pins and needles and in prayer for Massachusetts today. There is a lot riding on this election. Our Senator Feingold said at the Concord Listening Session that he might hold his vote on ObmaCare until Brown is seated, should the Democrats lose in Massachusetts. The fact that it is this close is nothing short of miraculous.
 

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A goodbye to Cindy Kilkenny's Fairly Conservative blog

Musing, Blogging, Brookfield

Today Brookfield blogger and friend, Cindy Kilkenny, posted her last piece on her blog Fairly Conservative. I will miss clicking in to see what has captured her attention but look forward to her next venture.

Blogs sometimes offer the only coverage of an issue, especially since the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cut back on local news coverage. She will be missed.

But as if on cue, Cindy is going out with a bang. A Fox News producer from New York contacted HER this morning to see if she knew the woman who asked the question on constitutionality at the Feingold WCTC Listening Session!

So goodbye, Fairly Conservative, and Cindy, fare well! 
 

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Musing about the eve of Y2K and Y2K+10

Just for fun!, Musing, Holidays, Movies & Books

Ten years ago, New Year's Eve was celebrated with a bit of apprehension because of Y2K. I know I wondered if the lights would stay on, or more importantly, if the heat would stay on! Would the technological fabric of our lives would hold together or unravel?

My old Girl Scout motto, Be Prepared, prompted me to do just that: be prepared for what might come. We had our emergency light, heat, water, and food sources in the ready, just in case. Thankfully, nothing happened. Whether we went off grid for a national emergency or just a weather related reason, as we did a few weeks ago, we learned it is good to be ready.

Since our house had a fireplace, we invited my dad and sister to our house New Year's Eve 1999 for a movie marathon. (Well, at least until midnight, if the power went off.) We watched home movies that spanned 40 years, from our childhood days on up to my son's toddler days, and ate all manner of junk food. We had fun.

Thankfully, there was no technology failure and no need for concern. Our movie marathon continued past midnight.

This New Year's Eve, I find myself thinking concern over Y2K was the good ole days!

In 1999, our economy wasn't in the mess it is in today. We also weren't poised to take over the private health insurance industry with an unconstitutionally mandated government system. There was no war on terror, at least not on our soil, as most of us thought the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was more of a fluke.

This New Year's Eve, one thing remains the same as New Year's Eve 1999: the movie marathon. We've done it every year since Y2K. We have upgraded to showing DVD's with a projector on a big screen in the living room though.

This year's picks: The latest Star Trek, the 4th Indiana Jones, G-Force, and maybe Night at the Museum 2. There might also be a home movie or 2 for nostalgia's sake.

Let the junk food and festivities begin!

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So glad to be back on the grid!

Just for fun!, Musing, Weather

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday morning we were into hour 12 of being without electricity. The previous night, the power flicked 3 times and then went off around 9pm, right in the middle of cookie baking. At least I had just finished baking one batch and hadn't started another.

We did the usual scramble for flashlights and candles and then decided we might as well turn in for the night.

I did pick up our corded phone to call in to WE Energies. Oops, we have VOIP, no phone! Got out the cell phone and made the call, only to hear a long explanation how 16,000 homes were out of power and they would be repairing as quickly as safely possible. I did not listen to the entire message because it seemed to just drone on about the crisis and didn't have an option to report an outage.

We slept OK because we keep our bedroom rather chilly anyway. The next morning I had to attend to the number one concern: COFFEE. Fortunately I had some ground already so I made a makeshift cup atop of our propane single burner rig. Ahhh, now I felt ready to face the day.

Called WE Energies again. This time I got a new message of 25,000 people out of power...they were calling in private contractors to help restore power... etc. etc. Again, I did not wait until the end, because cell phone battery life was a concern.

Second item of business was to make friends with the snow-blower. I got out my detailed instructions and prayed it would start easily for me on a slow pull start. It did! (It has electric start, but that was not an option.)

Called WE Energies after doing most of the driveway. This time they were down to 9,000 people out of power and estimates were restoration by noon for Milwaukee County and, gasp, midnight for Waukesha. Argh.

While I was searching for something to eat without opening the refrigerator, I noticed the dog was shivering in the house. Put his sweater on. Had an interesting lunch of walnuts, rye bread, and an apple.

Went back outside for shovel clean-up and hauled some wood in for a fire. The temperature was supposed to drop later; I figured I better be prepared.

Finished the snow clean up and came in. I happily found some ground decaf coffee for a second cup! Got the fire going and threw in 2 foil wrapped potatoes for supper.

After that, I called my sister, who volunteered to try to call WE Energies again for me. She actually listened to the entire message, this one included information about Kenosha County, and found there was an opportunity to report an outage at the very end of the message. She reported ours and then called me back to report they were now saying power might no be restored until noon Thursday!

Oh-oh, I better get more wood in, I thought, if we had another day to go without heat.

My other half came home around 6pm. He called WE Energies and on the first ring, got a live body!!! After relaying the events of our outage, which indicated a re-closer trip (like circuit breaker on the transformer) was the likely culprit. He told the worker that it probably only needed resetting. (Our neighborhood has had trouble with it before.)

Ate a dinner of canned beef stew and our fireplace baked potatoes amid a table full of lit candles. Not bad. (I am still in my coat, boots, and headband from shoveling. It was bulky but warm.)

Somewhere around 7:30pm, the lights came back on! Yippee!!! The furnace and refrigerator kicked in; we were back to business as usual. I promptly turned the oven on; the cookie marathon must go on!

There is nothing like a power outage to make one appreciate the conveniences we all take for granted. We live with more conveniences than Henry the 8th ever had!

I often think of Laura Ingalls in her book, The Long Winter (inspired by her life), when I start feeling sorry for myself when dealing with the cold and snow. In her book, Laura and her sister Mary had to twist up sticks of hay non-stop to keep the fire going, because they ran out of firewood. Food was also very short. They nearly died during that winter.

I also think of Abraham Lincoln, who read by firelight. You really have to want to read to do that. I couldn't manage it even with a table full of candles.

How about the wonders of hot, running water? A hot shower is a blessing I have appreciated ever since the specter of Y2K threatened that basic part of every day life in America.

Our 22 hours without power reminded me that I could be better prepared to deal with power outages. Keeping food that is ready to eat, or with minimal cooking, water, candles, lamp oil, fire wood or duraflame logs, and propane lanterns (they throw a fair amount of heat), stoves and heaters are things we all should have on hand.

We managed pretty well for our 22 hour ordeal, if you don't count all the times I flicked on the light switches to no avail. Can't say I want to repeat it though!

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My tomatoes not happy with chilly July

Just for fun!, Musing, Gardening, Weather

My, oh my, we had a chilly July. We only went above our average high of 85 degrees to hit a sweltering 86, according to Weather.com once and 3 times if you use AccuWeather. Out of the 31 days in July, only 4-6 were above the average low of 63 degrees, depending on which source you use. That is pretty chilly.

The chart on AccuWeather.com was rather interesting for Milwaukee. It shows the highs, lows, records, etc. all in easy to compare columns. Neither Weather.com nor AccuWeather show the high of 94 degrees on July 27 this year as JSOnline reported though. But we really don't need the charts to tell us this July has been cool, our gardens and number of blankets on the bed tell us that.

Milwaukee's all time high was 105 in 1934. In fact, the 1930s look like a hot decade. The next record high was 103 in 1995. I knew that without looking at the chart; that was the summer we remodeled and literally had half our house open to the elements. Yup, that means living with NO air conditioning and lots of mosquitoes. Believe it or not, you do get used to the heat. The mercury topped 105 at our house.

Most of us have not had our air conditioning on for much this summer, which is a plus when it comes time to pay our WE Energies bills. But the tomato plants in my garden are not so happy with all these good sleeping, cool nights!

Today I did find one tiny tomato that had fallen off the plant and had started turning a dull orange. It is a new variety to me called a berry tomato and is shaped much like a small strawberry. That berry tomato was my first inkling of anything ripening in my garden.

Any of you gardeners out there have tomatoes ripening? Do let me know if yours are maturing. I would like to think someone is enjoying a tomato mayonnaise sandwich out there. After all, it is summer.

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Corrected Musing about Cash for Clunkers and the economy

Musing, Government / Bureaucracy, President Obama, TAXES, THE ECONOMY

Correction: I posted this piece earlier today before rushing out the door for a lunch date, an appointment, some errands, and family dinner. Finally I have some time to repost as promised.

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Commenting on comments

Musing, Blogging, Culture

I have heard from some of you that your comments are not being posted. Please know that under the new software, a change I am not happy with for many reasons, I am no longer in charge of editing comments. This change does not please me because now comments that are edgier or more irreverent than I feel comfortable with are being posted. There is the Report Abuse button option to get them pulled on the comment, but that takes a day or two.

Yesterday morning I wrote a lengthy reply to 2 comments on my blog Obama: "You can keep your doctor." Can you? I checked. I can't   and clicked the send button. Nothing happened. Later in the day I checked again, still nothing. Why?, I wondered.

Well, I asked Mark Maley, my go-to guy at the Journal Sentinel. Here is his reply:

"There are really only two reasons a comment doesn't get posted to a blog. If it's more than 2,000 characters or if there's a flagged word, like an obscenity or borderline obscenity."

He later added, "...we need to do a better job of telling people that. The weird thing is that the comment that is too long just disappears...it never shows up in the back end of the system."

So, there you have it. My comment disappeared. If your comment never showed up and you didn't include any objectionable words, was it too long?

I would suggest that before hitting the send button, just copy over into Word and do a character count. (I should have done that yesterday!) If it is too long, break it into 2 parts and submit separately.

Of course I wish I still had comment control. I don't care for the nasty, personal attacking tone in many of the comments posted. Frankly, I think allowing writers anonymity can bring out the worst in some people. They will often say things in a comment that they would never say to your face or if their real name was on it.

If I had my way, my standard of comment acceptance would be this: No CRUDE, LEWD, or RUDE comments will be posted.

Another blog I came across had this comment criteria: "As I've told my readers before, Comments personally attacking or cursing will be deleted. Anything you wouldn't say to your own mother or a stranger on the street disqualifies you from engaging in discussion here. "

Amen!

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