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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.

Shades of Mr. Popper's Penguins, meet Lala

Just for fun!, Family, Movies & Books, Pets, Weather

On a snowy day like today, wouldn't it be nice to have someone go to the store for you? Check this out.
 



As a child, I enjoyed reading Mr. Popper's Penguins. As a mother, I enjoyed reading it again to my son. The story held up well over the years; he thought it was a real hit too. (It is available at the Brookfield Library.) But never in my wildest dreams did I think anyone would ever have a penguin for a house pet! Yet there he is on YouTube.

Unlike Mr. Popper, who kept Captain Cook (his pet penguin) in a freezer, the Japanese family seems to have an air conditioned porch for their pet. I hope you caught that the family gave Lala his freedom after they rescued him and nursed him back to health, but he chose to stay with them. Don't you love his backpack?

By the way, the story of Mr. Popper's Penguins makes it to the big screen this summer, starring Jim Carrey. (Though I am not a Jim Carrey fan, I do like penguins.) The story has been changed some in that this Mr. Popper is a single businessman who inherits several penguins. Hope the movie version maintains the charm of the book. The preview pictures look cute.

In the meantime, stay warm.


Mr. Popper's Penguins book review
 

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No shadow of a doubt? Our groundhog predicts early spring

Just for fun!, TRAVEL, Weather

As my husband and I manned the snow blowers in the driveway last night, I did think this blizzard's silver lining might be that the groundhog would NOT see his shadow Wednesday morning.

Sure enough, Wynter, the Milwaukee County Zoo groundhog did NOT see her shadow this morning! Instead, she frolicked around in the snow a bit before going back into her den. Other groundhogs predicted the same--an early spring. I am all for that!

I couldn't help notice some other winter wonderland frolickers this morning. The kids down the street were literally diving head first into the snow banks, along with their pet Golden Retriever. Glad someone is enjoying the white stuff.

Me? I am thinking warm thoughts by planning a southern New Mexico and Arizona vacation. This will be new territory for us, and of course we want to see it all. Editing is never my strong suit: So many National Parks and Monuments...so little time.

Feel free to share your must see southern New Mexico and Arizona sites.

In the meantime, I hope our groundhog is right and we have an early spring.

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Rare total lunar eclipse tonight begins at 12:33am

Just for fun!, Special events, Weather

Tonight we have a rare occurrence: A Total Lunar Eclipse that Coincides with the Winter Solstice! The last one occurred in 1638. And we are fortunate enough to see the whole thing... that is if the clouds will part and you are a night owl.

In our area, it begins at 12:33am tonight, will swallow the moon at 1:41am, and have the deepest red color at 2:17am, according to weather.com.

I'll probably be up doing Christmas prep so I am going to set my kitchen timer as a reminder. I hope the clouds will cooperate.
 

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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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The Last Days of Homegrown Sweetcorn: Get while gettin' is good

Good food / recipes, WISCONSIN, Weather

Yesterday, I stopped in at Simons, our neighborhood farmstand on Greenfield Ave. and Vista View, for homegrown sweetcorn. Good sweetcorn is one of still remaining treats of summer. (Tomatoes would be another.)

I asked how much longer the sweetcorn season would last. The Simons lady said, through the weekend, maybe a few days longer.

She explained the length of the corn season all depends on when the first hard frost occurs. If we have some clear, cold nights, it will probably freeze, and that will be the end of it. The usual last day for corn is Oct. 16. (Certainly the weather has gone into full autumnal mode--I had to break down and turn the heat on last week!)

Simons has both the bi-colored and hard to find white corn. I bought both. (The white is even more tender than the bi.)

So if you love fresh homegrown sweetcorn like I do, stock up now. Homegrown sweetcorn's days are numbered.

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A peach of a year... literally!

Just for fun!, Gardening, Food, Living well on less $, Weather

Blog post with more photos

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Cheer up, still 2 weeks of summer left

Just for fun!, Weather

We certainly had glorious weather for Labor Day weekend, didn't we? It was especially notable because our summer so far has been less than stellar. Hope you did something outside.

People tend to think that just because the kids went back to school, the summer is over. But if you look at the calendar the official first day of fall does not begin for 2 more weeks. I plan to enjoy every day still in summer mode.

This isn't a new pattern; even when I homeschooled, our first day of school was not until the first day of fall on September 22nd. I figured, why waste all those beautiful days starting school before summer ended? (FYI: If you don't take 2 weeks off for Christmas and a week for spring break, you can get all the hours in and still finish by early May. Homeschools don't have all those early release days either.)

I am going to do my best to enjoy these last 2 weeks of summer to the fullest. Hey, I just had my first garden grown tomato and mayo sandwich! Mmm-Mmm. Hopefully there will be more to come. Then it's time start on my next favorite season: autumn.

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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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This is scary: Obama discussing launch to "chill runaway global warming"

Environment, Going Green, President Obama, WARNING, Weather

Hey, what happened to Climate Change? Guess that crisis didn't fit as nicely into the idea of blocking sunlight?  Notice they are again referring to it as Global Warming instead of Climate Change? Odd, since we are in a period of Global Cooling.

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"Earth Hour" Saturday night? What can I turn on?

Energy, Environment, Going Green, Special events, Weather, World News

Have you heard about this idea? Earth Hour - Give our planet a break. It is Saturday, March 28th from 8:30pm - 9:30pm. Everyone on the planet is supposed to turn out their lights for one hour, to relieve our planet of the burden of Global Warming! (By the way, Planet Earth is not a living being, nor is it our "Mother.")

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Good stuff: More Hot Air from Rep. Ott.

Common sense, Conservatives, Weather

 When Theory is Confronted by Reality http://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#all/12039a4cf2af90c4

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Global Warming: do the models work?

Common sense, Truth, Weather

 http://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#all/12015cbd5e943e69

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Sights and sounds of spring: did you see 'red'?

Just for fun!, Nature, Weather

Most people's spirits are lifted when the sun shines and the temperatures head upward. Seems we are in for a few nice days--at last!

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Obama pushes carbon credits despite cooling evidence

Energy, Follow the money, Going Green, Legislation, President Obama, TAXES, Weather

A new study from 2 professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department on Mathematical Sciences, "found that the Earth has been cooling since 2001 and projected that due to 'global variation' the climate would continue to cool for the next 20 to 30 years."

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Yearning for the dog days of summer on a 3 dog night

History, Just for fun!, Weather

The temperature is dropping again. On cold days like today, I am happy when our little dog plants himself at my feet during the day or sits on my lap. He is nice and warm. Better yet is when he dives under the covers at night and snuggles in. One little 13 pound pooch can generate a fair amount of heat! That made me think of the phrase, 3 dog night.  

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7 flick picks for cold winter nights

Just for fun!, Movies & Books, Weather

Here are a few of my favorite winter themed movies. Most are based on true stories; some are pure fluff.  I obtained many of them from the library*. They all make me glad I am snuggled up on the couch under an afghan instead of being out in the elements!

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Fantasy weather forecasts

Interesting idea, Just for fun!, Weather

Some people are obsessed with the weather. They are glued to the Weather Channel and hang on every word of the local meteorologist. Instead of reporting real news, as every snow storm or cold snap approaches, network and local news stations hype endless stories featuring newscasters shivering outside, show you how to layer clothing, or instruct you to carry a snow shovel in your car.

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Yearning for dog days of summer on a 3 dog night

History, Just for fun!, Weather

On cold days like today, I am happy when our little dog plants himself at my feet during the day or sits on my lap. He is nice and warm. Better yet is when he dives under the covers at night and snuggles in. One little 13 pound pooch can generate a fair amount of heat! That made me think of the phrase, 3 dog night.  

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2008 another big chill year

Going Green, Weather

http://www.rightsidenews.com/200901043207/energy-and-environment/global-warming-in-2008-a-record-year.html

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green.msn.com/.../1

Going Green, Weather

 green.msn.com/.../1

STATistics AP: Global Warming is Accelerating Time is Close to running out Dec 14

Going Green, Weather

Despite the nation experiencing its tenth straight year of temperatures cooler than 1998's peak, and much of New England experiencing its worst ice storm in decades (video embedded right), the Associated Press on Sunday published one of the most hysterical articles concerning global warming I've ever seen.

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Scientists Denounce AP for Hysterical Global warming article Dec 15

Going Green, Weather

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2008/12/15/scientists-denounce-ap-hysterical-global-warming-article

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Snow is a novelty for some in Houston, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama & here

Just for fun!, Weather

On Wednesday, Surprise flurries warm Houston hearts Fluffy flakes bring delight to some, consternation to others--and tie a 64-year-old record:

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China lowers corp. taxes

Going Green, TAXES, THE ECONOMY, Weather

 

Poland global warming conference and crazy solutions

Going Green, Weather

 http://www.livescience.com/environment/081210-ap-climate-treaty.html

Environment

Thousands Negotiate New Climate Treaty

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Global Warming tough sell, but Obama still buys what Gore is selling

Conservatives, Energy, Environment, Follow the money, Going Green, Obama 2008, TAXES, Truth, Unintended consequences, Weather

There is a lot at stake for former Vice President Al Gore with the Global Warming* issue. Without the threat of Global Warming, he is rather out of a job. Who would hire Al Gore to come speak about the threat of normal weather? Without Global Warming, who would ever buy a carbon credit from the corporation he is affiliated with? Without Global Warming, Al Gore just becomes another washed up Vice President who did not make it to the ultimate status prize of the presidency.

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OOPS, NASA used Sept. temperatures for Oct.'s data

Energy, Environment, Going Green, Obama 2008, Truth, Weather

Do you ever get the feeling that those who believe in Global Warming don't want to be confused by the facts?

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Tough sell: Global warming in 2008 & Doyle's trip to Bev. Hills

Energy, Environment, Going Green, THE ECONOMY, Weather, WISCONSIN

 

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2 more examples of the Big Chill, a.k.a. Global Chilling?

Common sense, Going Green, McCain 2008, Obama 2008, Politics, THE ECONOMY, Weather

The world must not have gotten Al Gore's memo that the earth is warming. Yesterday Record cold swept over the region Wednesday in Ocala, Florida. (My emphasis throughout)

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The "Gore Effect," chilling!

Follow the money, Going Green, Weather

I found this interesting blog, The Reference Frame, on the Drudge Report. It's written by Lobos Motl, a Czech physicist.  

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Idaho's earliest snow, Still no sunspots

Nature, Weather

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081012/ap_on_bi_ge/meltdown_global_warming;_ylt=Agqlv09zKbJs1eUUt1SWMaGs0NUE

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Anchorage's coldest temps in years

Weather

 

Chilling news: Where is solar wind? (Global... COOLING)

Environment, Going Green, Weather

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=307234476244126

The Day The Earth Cooled

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Lower temperatures and country's mood quell global warming ferver

Elections, Energy, Environment, Going Green, McCain 2008, Obama 2008, Weather

Have you noticed that this summer was cooler than usual? That fact, coupled with our recent cold and snowy winter, takes the subject of Global Warming off the front burner.

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A Little History Re: What's Happening On Robinwood?

City of Brookfield, Development, Weather

Gravel piles, backhoes, trucks, sewer suckers,  barricades, sewer pipes and huge concrete junction pipes again are familiar sights for those living on Robinwood Street. Seems like the city just did sewer work over there.

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Brookfield's Rainwater Woes, Flooding & Don't Drive Through Deep Water!!!

City of Brookfield, Weather

We're not out of the woods yet with the storms and flooding. As I am writing this at 2pm, it feels and looks like it could let lose again. Some areas in Brookfield experienced serious flooding yesterday. I noticed today the creek next to Pilgrim Road across from Wirth Park had roaring white caps! Some places were still under water today too: Pilgrim Road was closed by Pilgrim Park Middle School. If it rains heavily again today, there will be more. (Monday road closure update)

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