Monday, December 31, 2012

Rottenchester with Travalon

I am back now from Rottenchester, where I ventured with Travalon so he could meet Ma and Pa Hat. It seemed to go very well: my mother made us a lovely dinner on Saturday night and delicious blueberry pancakes on Sunday morning, and the two of them gave Travalon some wine for Christmas. What did I get? Smiley face potholders, Pigorian chant (that they had actually mailed to me), and a scented lantern. From my brother and nephews, chocolate. Hard to go wrong there. I wasn't sure what to get teenage boys, so I played it safe with gift certificates and cold, hard cash. Unfortunately I did not get to see my niece, who is about to give birth any moment, but it was really good to see the boys. I gave Ma and Pa Hat some New Glarus beer (cherry and raspberry) and my brother a book about Chuck Norris which my one nephew loved. Shopping for people you see once a year is quite a challenge! I think my brother liked the book too...  Travalon brought stollen and sparkling pear cider for my parents. Everyone seemed to get along very well, so it was a successful trip.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to Mass in Rottenchester, then we stopped in La Crosse to go to a tavern from Bottoms Up called The Casino, but it was closed, so we watched part of the Packer game at a nearby place called Cheap Shots. We felt like we were invading a private party, since everyone else there seemed to know each other, and they were all in their early 20's. Every time the game went to ads, they put on hip hop music, which I liked and Travalon didn't. He's a classic rock guy. Then we drove as far as the Dells, listening to the game in the car, and watched the final quarter at Damon's Sports Bar. Unfortunately the Vikings beat us with a field goal in the last few seconds of the game, but Travalon had to work really, really early this morning, so maybe it's just as well they didn't go into overtime.

Famous Hat


Friday, December 28, 2012

Ode to Pizza


Today Toque McToque received the following email at work:

We are not going to close,
but you should come and get
your slices, from the 10th floor break room,
so both lunch times get a good choice.
Once you have your slices,
you  can go back to your desk.

A “BIG THANK YOU” to Scott for buying the pizzas.   

The person who sent this email has a habit of putting “WORDS” in all capitals and quotation marks as if she is being very sarcastic about her “EXCITEMENT” over “FREE” pizza, but what really got Toque and me about the email is how it looks like a poem. I was expecting a paean to pizza, but it is just some mundane instructions in how to acquire pizza written in lines for no apparent reason.  Shouldn’t an actual poem about pizza go more like this?

Oh perfect circle, bringing joy
Wherever your lovely scent wafts
Of vermilion tomato sauce,
Ivory-hued mozzarella cheese,
And mouthwatering crust,
Except to those
Who do not get to share in your bounty.
Then ah, what exquisite torture!
To smell, and not to taste.

Feel free to leave your own odes to pizza in the comments. Light Bright has already supplied one, and I have made a movie of our two poems:

video


Famous Hat, Pizza Poet

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Planning Sydney's Circulation


Today when I wondered what to blog about, Light Bright asked if I had blogged any more about Sydney the Red Blood Cell. We decided she needed a boyfriend, but I thought he should be Barney the White Blood Cell and she thought Walter the White Blood Cell would be better. “Why don’t you ask your readers?” she suggested. So I ask you, gentle reader – which name is better? Or is there another one you would prefer? Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section. Light Bright said Sydney needed an enemy too, but she didn’t know if that would be a sickle cell or some kind of pathogen. She also said Sydney could have some kind of interaction with a drug and wouldn’t that make for an interesting story. I said Sydney could hang out with Nancy the Neuron every time she was in the brain neighborhood. So what would you like to see in a Sydney story? Let me know in the comments.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Presents

Yesterday I went to Travalon's mother's house for Christmas, and all his brothers were there, plus their wives, their kids, and some family friends. His college-age nephew dressed up as Santa and did such a good job that he seems to have successfully fooled his little cousins. Guess what Santa gives out? Whoopie cushions, Groucho Marx glasses, and glow-in-the-dark swords. The boys LOVED it. We had a delicious lunch there, with half my cassata, and then Travalon and I drove back to my town for dinner with Richard Bonomo et al, including the other half of my cassata. I had to abandon Travalon for Date Night with Jesus, since it was Tuesday and Adoration doesn't stop for Christmas, but he had a good time talking with everyone else. He and Cecil Markovitch bonded over being half Croatian. I gave Travalon Maus Volumes 1 and 2 for Christmas, and here is what he gave me:


A friend of his in Iowa made this. The bird is an Africa grey parrot. There are also matching earrings... with matching beads, they don't have parrots on them. I am wearing the earrings and necklace today and have gotten lots of compliments on them, considering that hardly anyone is at work today. Yes, Travalon has very good taste.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Exciting Christmas Morning

Morning! "Good" might be too strong a word for it, since I was at Fruit Soup until after 2:00 am and got maybe five hours of sleep. This time, Richard Bonomo put in an extra early wake-up call with my guardian angel, so I was up before 8:00. At least this way I was able to brew some coffee before heading to Mass... but Mass didn't actually happen. The priest was not feeling well, so he stopped the homily abruptly and began the rest of Mass, but then he fainted. This was old news to me, since I had seen this priest faint during Mass before, but of course some people were panicking. We have a doctor in our choir, so he went down to help the priest, who was conscious and probably just very embarrassed at that point. The congregation started praying the rosary for the priest, but our choir director wasn't going to let a little thing like this get in the way of his plans, so as soon as they finished the first set of mysteries (I assume they were going to do them all since they started with the Joyful Mysteries, and today being Tuesday, the Sorrowful Mysteries are standard), the choir launched into its offertory piece. The Mexican priest who also lives at the rectory didn't seem to understand that we needed a priest to finish Mass, so he came by and then left, and so the deacon distributed communion as the choir sang our communion piece. Now I have to drive to Travalon's house, but between the coffee and the shock of seeing the priest keel over, I am fairly awake.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 24, 2012

Last Weekend in Advent

Merry Christmas to my readers! Sorry for the delay in writing, but Thursday I was not at work because Light Bright couldn't get through the unplowed side streets to my house, so she went in without me. Friday I was very busy at work and had to get a ride with Light Bright because the buses weren't running, and then of course I rarely blog on the weekends, so this is the first chance I've gotten in days. I only have a few minutes before having to go sing with the OTHER choir; I already sang with my own choir for Vigil Mass.

So what have I been up to? Friday evening Travalon and I went to the restaurant Tiffy calls Barnacle Bob's, then we saw a music act at the casino called "Divas through the Decades" (but we missed their one 1940's number), and then we went to our favorite haunt, Le Tigre Lounge. Saturday I headed his way and we went to a very old tavern from Bottoms Up called Hanson's, which celebrated its sesquicentennial on the Nativity of Mary this past year. Then we went to an Italian restaurant and a martini bar called Splash, where I had a pumpkin pie martini. Yum! We watched an episode of The Flintstones before I hit the road. Yesterday Travalon came my way, and we watched part of the Packer game at a local sports bar, then we toured Capital Brewery and had dinner at The Fountain, which is mentioned in Bottoms Up but is not one of the seventy featured taverns. The bar and booths are from a much older tavern, I can't remember where it was located offhand but maybe Travalon can help us out with that. Then we had a tea party at Richard Bonomo's house with Luxuli and her husband; instead of crumpets, we had Christmas cookies. There were the cookies from my exchange at work, cookies that Rich's sister made, and today a box full of cookies from Anna Banana II arrived. This evening I made my famous cassata and will leave half for Rich's guests tomorrow and bring half to Travalon's family get-together. If, of course, I am awake enough to drive his way after all the insanity tonight.

Sorry this blog post's title is so boring. I couldn't think of anything and just went with Rich's suggestion.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Airhead Rock Star

The other day I made a stupid mistake at work and said what an airhead I am, so Light Bright asked me to draw a picture of myself as an airhead. Here is what I came up with:


We laughed about my picture, and she said, "See? This is what you should always do when you have a bad thought about yourself - draw it!"

Today I got an email from someone, copied to my boss and two other people I work directly with, basically saying I was a rock star. That made me so happy! Light Bright said, "Draw a picture of that." So here it is:


The "magic pants" are because today I was in at a talk and spilled coffee on my pants but waited until the talk was over to clean them off... and then there was no sign of a stain! So I told Light Bright they must be Magic Pants. Light Bright also requested that I add earrings to this drawing, so I added shoelaces too, since I am wearing sneakers today. (It was a casual day with a cookie exchange and a holiday potluck.) Tomorrow should be even more relaxed after we get here, since there is a big storm coming, but we both have to be here because of candidates interviewing with our programs. So wish us a good ride in and another back home!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another Cookie Adventure


Christmas is approaching, which means the cookie exchange at work, and it just wouldn’t be the same without something going terribly wrong when I bake. This year I tried to make my 1942 cookie recipe and even doubled the recipe but still only got a little over two dozen cookies. Worse, the bowl I made them in wasn’t big enough, so the flour sloshed over the side and got on one of my boots. (Why do I keep my boots in the kitchen? Because that is the one place the rabbits don’t go, and rabbits like to chew on boots.) So I had to wash my boot and wear sneakers today… and now it is snowing. In fact, I made quite a mess, but the cookies are delicious. However, there weren’t enough of them for the cookie exchange, so I called Hardingfele in a panic to see if she could help me out. She had no flour left after Rockstar Tailor had made a batch of cookies, so I was ready to go to the store and get premade sugar cookie dough AGAIN, but then I remembered the oatmeal cookie recipe on my canister of oatmeal. Fortunately I had just enough flour left to make a batch of those, so now I have something for the cookie exchange. Why is this always such an adventure for me every year?

Famous Hat

Monday, December 17, 2012

Musical Weekend


Friday night Travalon and I went to my work holiday party. There was a gag gift exchange which was very entertaining, but we left just in time – it was getting dirty and I heard it actually got religiously offensive. Just as well we went to grab some dinner at Hu Hot and then went to our favorite hangout, Le Tigre Lounge.  Saturday Tiffy came to visit for the first time in months, so that was a lot of fun. We went to a Baroque music concert and to a handbell concert, so we got our music fix in. Sunday Travalon and I watched the Packer game at a bar where the clientele kept going “Awww!” every time Jay Cutler appeared onscreen, looking bummed about throwing an interception, holding his aching shoulder, etc. I am happy to report that the Bears still suck. Then we went to a coffeehouse where Hardingfele’s husband was playing Beatle songs on the guitar, and then we went to a tavern that was mentioned in the book Bottoms Up, although it was not one of the seventy chosen taverns. It is called Mickey’s and is like a house inside, with a parlor and a living room. We had dinner at the Costa Rica Café and then watched old SCTV clips with Richard Bonomo. I love CCCP1 TV! Especially what fits inside of Russia. Answer: almost everything.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 14, 2012

What's Your Name?


I work with someone who has the first name Guillermo, which is Spanish for William and pronounced something like “Ghee-yermo.” That is not exactly it, of course, but it is much closer than an old coworker of ours was. She insisted on calling him “Ghill-ermo.” It made me cringe every time I heard it. Are Spanish names that hard to pronounce? There was a time when I worked with a man named Javier, which is pronounced something like Hah-vee-air, but several of our coworkers insisted on making his name rhyme with caviar. Feel free to tell me the worst mispronounced Spanish name you have heard in the comments.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Watch for Falling Duck Decoys


A-Joz told me that her car’s gas tank was all smashed up on the bottom, and her mechanic wanted to know who or what she ran over, but she has no idea. When I said that was the worst car story I had heard since someone on the bus said a possum got into her engine and chewed up some wires so the car started on fire while she was driving, A-Joz replied with this:

Oh geez.  I've run over a bag of duck decoys that flew out of a trailer and under my car on the Interstate, just barely missed an orange barrel rolling into me on the Interstate, narrowly avoided being rear-ended on the Interstate, but I have never had my car start on fire.

I felt that first story was worthy of a blog post, so I asked if she could elaborate and I could blog about it, and this is what she said:

Oh feel free.  The net caught under the car.  I had to pull over onto the shoulder.  I dislodged the ducks, walked back a way on the shoulder to pick up a few that had fallen out of the net, and then threw them all in my car.  I even stopped in Town of Summit and contacted the police to see if someone had called about them.  A very nice police officer came out to talk to me.  He said, "May I see the ducks, ma'am?"  I led him to my car where approximately 10-15 ducks and geese regarded us from the back seat.  I think it was all he could do to not crack up.  No one ever claimed the ducks, so I gave them to some hunters.

So beware of duck decoys on the Interstate.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fabulous Party Trick


Last night I attended a birthday party where one of the guests made ice cream. Now I’ve made ice cream before and you may have too. It usually involves nearly an hour of hand cranking, so when this guy said it would take him ten minutes to make the ice cream, and it would be interesting to watch, he got my attention. We sat raptly as he poured the heavy whipping cream, the half and half, the sugar, and the strawberries his wife had picked into a large bowl and then poured in – here’s where it gets interesting – some liquid nitrogen. Fog poured over the side of the bowl as he stirred the ingredients together, making it look as if he were preparing some magic potion. He repeated the process with the liquid nitrogen three more times and then deemed the ice cream ready for consumption. I have to say it was the tastiest ice cream I have had in a very long time, maybe ever. So if you are able to get a hold of some liquid nitrogen, you too can perform this fabulous party trick.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Divine Justice


Today’s story is about someone who is a bit slow in learning a life lesson. Let’s say, to protect the guilty, that this was a student who talked to Toque McToque today. In a previous life she was a wild animal killed by a poacher, and the injustice of it made her so mad that she insisted on remembering her previous life and being a human only once and in general just making a mess of this life, even though God told her there would be justice for the poacher, but that was His business, not hers. This same person was recently accused by someone of doing something she didn’t do, and instead of just nodding and agreeing not to do it again, she was all indignant about being unjustly accused. Then it occurred to her – this was the very lesson she was supposed to learn from her last life, and she still hadn’t internalized it, that she should leave justice to God or karma or whatever you happen to call Divine Justice. When I told Light Bright this story, she thought I said the girl had been a leper in her previous life, not a leopard, and when I said, “Now you aren’t interested in the story,” she said, “I wanted to hear about parts falling off!”

Famous Hat

Monday, December 10, 2012

Our Lady of Good Help


This weekend Travalon had to work, and Richard Bonomo wanted to make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Help up in Champion, north of Green Bay, so I accompanied him and another woman I may never have mentioned on this blog for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We stopped in Green Bay to visit a former tenor from the choir and his wife. Their oldest child entertained us with her musical toys and her gingerbread house sticker kit; the other two were napping.  Then we continued on to the shrine, where there was an apparition of Mary to a woman named Sister Adele on October 9, 1859. She then founded a school on the spot. You can read more about it here. We spent most of our time praying in the crypt which is the site of the apparitions, but we also checked out the café, chapel, and gift shop, and I explored the Stations of the Cross in the back. There was even a tiny roadside chapel that had been moved there, but it was locked so I couldn’t tell you what it looked like inside.  It was a wonderful, peaceful place, and I would encourage everyone to make a pilgrimage there.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 7, 2012

Does This Post Make Me Look Fat?


I have been oversensitive lately. I sent an email from a coworker to Light Bright and asked if she thought it was snippy. She said yes, but now she regrets backing me up on that because I think everyone is being snippy to me. She says she is going to make a sign and attach it to the back of her chair that says: “You are being oversensitive!” and if I ask if I am being too sensitive about something someone says, she is going to point to the sign. Light Bright says I should say a quick Hail Mary to myself if someone says something to make me feel bad, so if you say something to me and I close my eyes for a moment and don’t reply, you just made me fee bad.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hump Day Pilgrimage


Yesterday I took the afternoon off of work to go to New Glarus with Travalon, since both Puempel’s (pronounced “pimples”) Olde Tavern and the New Glarus Brewing Company are in Bottoms Up. We had a simple lunch at Puempel’s and then walked around town, stopping in a number of shops and getting some treats before we headed to the brewery. We took a tour and tasted some of their beers, which were really delicious. It was fun looking at the awards they had won and seeing how they had moved from “small brewery” to “medium-sized brewery" in just a couple of years. Travalon was laughing at me because the sticker from my new socks must have gotten stuck to my hat, and then when I removed the hat it was stuck on my forehead, proclaiming I was a “six pair value.” We drove to Jefferson and went to the Landmark Bar, where the bartender (who is also the local sports reporter) was very entertaining. He was telling us about a guy they call “Two Canoes” because if you say you have a canoe, he’ll say, “I’ve got two canoes!” You know the type. Apparently this guy loves to tell tales, like that he has played professional baseball and that he has driven the Queen of England around in a limousine. Then Travalon and I drove to Watertown, listening to Christmas music on the radio, and I’d like to know since when is Pachelbel’s Canon in D a Christmas song? Yet I have heard more than one version of it played on the Christmas radio station. Then they played “My Favorite Things” (another song that somehow became a Christmas staple), and Travalon did an amazing imitation of Julie Andrews. I laughed so hard! We went to Bismark’s for dinner, since that was in the book as well, and the service was slow but the food was good. All these old taverns have beautiful bars. The author is right – not one of them has been a disappointment so far!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This Post Ridden by Famous Hat and Light Bright


My office mate Light Bright’s country band is going to play a Christmas concert next year at the same place where they played their tribute show this year, and they are trying to think of names for the show. Light Bright and I thought of Tinsel and Twang; she came up with Tinsel, and Twang was my idea. She is just full of witticisms the last two days. For example, yesterday I made a smart remark which neither of us can remember, and she waited a beat and said, “I would have replied with a witty comment, but my mouth was full, and now the moment’s passed.” Then today on the student radio station, the DJ kept saying that a song was “ridden by” a certain person, and after the third time, Light Bright said, “Someone needs to buy that girl some T’s!” I said, “That’s so funny, I have to blog about it!” So I am.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Unicorn Code of Ethics


When I was in sixth grade, I made a papier mache (which comes from the French for “chewed paper,” by the way) unicorn mask that defied gravity. It was so cool, with glitter-festooned cotton for a mane, that I was a unicorn for Halloween for several years, until for reasons I cannot explain Ma Hat took it upon herself to throw it away. Now all these years later, Toque McToque found this unicorn mask for sale. While it is out of stock and not nearly as cool as mine was, I do love the Unicorn Code of Ethics listed underneath it:

  • 1. Unicorns never cheat.
  • 2. Unicorns always lend a helping hand.
  • 3. Unicorns don’t talk to strangers.
  • 4. Unicorns respect the Earth.
  • 5. Unicorns are never late.
  • 6. Unicorns aren’t conceited.
  • 7. Unicorns don’t judge people.
  • 8. Unicorns always give 100%.
  • 9. Unicorns graze on peace and love.
  • 10. Unicorns don’t do drugs.
So if you are going to pose as a unicorn, remember that you must adhere to this code.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 3, 2012

Water Park Birthday


Saturday was Travalon’s birthday, and he wanted to go to a water park (indoor, this time of year, of course), so we went to Kalahari in the Dells. They have evening passes, and that is the time to go, after the screaming children are gone for the day. There were lots of teenagers, but they mostly just hung around in clumps and spent little time screaming. My knee was bothering me, so I thought my options would be the Lazy River and the hot tubs, but I did try going up the steps very slowly to the water slides. As the evening wore on, the trips got less painful, maybe because of all the time we spent in the hot tubs. There were several fun water slides where we could go down together on a raft, and a scary one where they put you into a pod and then the bottom dropped out, and Travalon’s favorite, the Vortex. As his brother said, it was like getting flushed down a giant toilet. You went down the slide and into this big round area where you went around and around and finally fell head-first out the bottom into a nine foot deep pool. I almost got killed on that one because the girl behind me didn’t wait until I was out of the pool before she went down the slide. I had just gotten right out from under the “toilet” when she fell out of it. Scary! The life guard yelled that she was supposed to wait until the light was green, but she insisted it had been, which I highly doubt. Otherwise it was a really fun trip I would recommend to anyone who loves water. They even have an adult-only section where you can enjoy an adult beverage in a hot tub.

Before the water park, we went to Damon’s for dinner and played the trivia game they have there. Some other people were playing too, but TRVLON won one round. Then yesterday we watched the Packer game at a sports bar near my house with Luxuli and her husband, and they had the same trivia game. We did really well at it, but we had some stiff competition – nobody! Then we all went to a Christmas concert, and then Luxuli had us over for a birthday dinner and cake, not in that order. Don’t they say life is short so eat dessert first? Richard Bonomo and Kathbert joined us too. Afterwards Travalon and I were talking about what weekday evenings are good for getting together, and I said Tuesdays are not good for me because I have Adoration from six to seven. Travalon said, “Why do you need to be adored for an hour? I already adore you!” Isn’t that sweet?

Famous Hat

Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Ostriches are Red Meat


Today I’m going to have an educational post on this blog. Years ago, when I was in Paris with a group from my church, Ethel and I stopped by a restaurant that advertised ostrich and kangaroo. They claimed to be out of kangaroo that night, and when I asked what it tasted like, they told me, “Like eland.” I assume that would be red meat… Ethel and I both got the ostrich, and it was the most delicious red meat ever. 

Just now I was telling Toque McToque how at another restaurant in Paris I accidentally ordered veal instead of scallops (well, what would you think “escallops” means?), so who knew if it was horse instead of ostrich? After all, aren’t birds usually white meat? She sent me this article that explains what makes meat white versus red. It has to do with the type of muscle: slow-twitch muscles for extended activities are red meat, while fast-twitch muscles for bursts of activity are white meat, with the dark meat being muscles that are used more. This is why chickens have white meat in their breasts but dark meat in their drumsticks, since they run around but don’t fly much. So ostriches have red meat because they do a lot of sustained activity, running all over the savannah.

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Light Bright: Allergic to Work


Yesterday my office mate Light Bright was sneezing and blowing her nose so much, I was sure I wouldn’t find her at work today.  Yet there she was this morning, sneezing and blowing her nose. “It’s allergies,” she assured me.  A doctor we work with had his doubts, but she was certain. However, when her allergy pills were not kicking in, she took some cold medicine and did start to feel better. “Maybe it’s a cold,” she conceded, but soon she was back to thinking it was just allergies. Light Bright asked a coworker who does the pollen count if there was an elevated level of anything out there, but she said no, nothing is really out there right now since we have had some hard freezes. She said, “Lots of colds happen right after Thanksgiving, since people get together,” and I said, “Oh yeah, you took a plane flight home, didn’t you?” and then our coworker was sure it was a virus. Later the doctor came by, and Light Bright told him that our coworker had confirmed it was a virus. The doctor said, “If you search online, you can find my CV, and then you’ll see that I graduated from medical school.” Doesn’t everyone get a second opinion on medical problems from a pollen counter?

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

John Isn't Panting Anymore


When I was a small child, maybe around four, I knew the order of the planets but had no concept that we actually lived on one of them. They were just those things up in outer space. Therefore, I thought earthworms must come from outer space, since they came from Earth, or else why would people have to specify? However, I sensed there was something wrong with my logic, since people did not get excited about earthworms and since I wasn’t sure how they would get here. Little worm spaceships?

When I told Light Bright this story, she said, “Deep thoughts for a four-year-old. I’m not sure I know the order of the planets now! The first one is Mars, right?”

“Nope, that’s Mercury,” I said.

“Then Mars comes next,” Light Bright said confidently.

“No,” I said, “Next comes Venus.” And I taught her that old, racy mnemonic “Mary’s Violet Eyes Make John Stay Up Nights (Panting)” to remember the order of the planets. Of course, since Pluto has been downgraded from planet status, John must not be panting anymore.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another Lame DIY Post


Since I cannot think of anything to blog about today, you can Choose Your Own Post:

Today a funny/mildly amusing/horrendous thing happened at work/the pub/the gates of Hell. I/you/Toque McToque went to make copies/make coffee/make whoopee, but there was a problem with the copier jamming/a lack of filters/your mom. Luckily Light Bright/Hardingfele/the local Godfather came along and said, “It just needs to be cleaned”/”I have a secret stash”/”Don’t involve me in this!” I decided it was time to take a break/break a take/occupy Wolski’s, since it was getting late/I was getting angry/I always wanted to be an ornithologist. Downstairs they were selling jewelry/books/illicit drugs, and Light Bright caved in and got herself a lovely ring/erotic fiction/three grams of smack. I was more interested in the bake sale/the military surplus store/getting the heck out of Dodge. All in all, it was a very busy but not terribly interesting/highly successful/totally fatal day.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ten Percent in Two Days


Travalon and I are continuing our pilgrimage to historic pubs and breweries in the state. Friday we drove up to Stevens Point and were disappointed to find we were too late to tour Point Brewery, so we went to Club 10, which has a big, beautiful dance floor in the back. Then we went to Marshfield to visit the Blue Heron Brewery, built in an old ice cream factory. Finally we went to the BS Bar in Amherst, where the friendly proprietor told us about his motorcycle travels. (His favorite state to visit was Arizona.)

Saturday I drove to Travalon’s house, then we went to Milwaukee and visited four more pubs. First was Wolski’s, famous for their free bumper stickers that say: “I closed Wolski’s.” We were there too early to get one, but the bartender did give us bumper stickers that say: “Occupy Wolski’s.” I put mine on the side of Erin Caitlyn O’Honda, where she is a little banged up from a pillar in a parking garage. Next we went to a beautiful but hard to spot gay bar called This Is It, with a very friendly bartender who told us the clientele is more than half breeders on weekends. We went to the spy-themed Safe House, where I had gone years ago with Tiffy and Ethel. Since I hadn't known the password, the bouncer had made me cluck like a chicken before letting me enter and revealing the password. I was hoping I’d remembered it correctly, but nobody asked for it this time. Then we had dinner at Old Towne, a Serbian restaurant that Cecil Markovitch loves, and finally we went to Bryant’s, a cocktail lounge where the Pink Squirrel was invented, so we each had one for dessert. The dim lighting and the delicious ice cream drinks made me think of the late, lamented Barber’s Closet, an old speakeasy with a secret entrance that burned down years ago. Maybe if it were still around, it would have made it into Bottoms Up. Wow, we got 10% of them done in just two days!

Famous Hat

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Everlasting Stuffing

This year I spent Thanksgiving with Travalon and his family instead of Rich and the gang, as usual. I had a very good time, but I missed out on the everlasting stuffing. Here is a scan of the bag:



If you look closely at the expiration date, it is 500 years in the future:



September 3, 2513 - that is some long-lasting stuffing.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This Post Is for the Birds


In honor of Thanksgiving, I am going to blog about birds and our tenuous relationship with them. We do seem to enjoy eating them a great deal, which may explain why when a pair of purple finches built a nest in one of my Christmas cacti this spring, they abandoned it after they saw me come out on the balcony. I wasn’t sure what to do with the nest, so it remains nestled by the side of the cactus, which does not seem to mind it and is blooming happily. How could I assure the finches that I would not disturb their nest when I happily eat their cousins all the time? I think birds still haven’t gotten over the fact that they used to rule the earth as dinosaurs, but then we upstart mammals started getting into their nests (mmm, eggs!) so they had to develop wings to get out of our way, and that meant they had to lose bulk. Now we rule the earth and they are just the pretty things that sing in trees on spring mornings/delicious dinner. If Hardingfele is reading this, I’ll bet the birds especially don’t like you, since your cats are always outside, even if you don’t eat turkey.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Million Dollar Bill


A coworker gave me a million dollar bill. Check it out:



I love that the president on it is Rutherford B. Hayes. And why do we always refer to him that way? Never Rutherford Hayes without the middle initial. I mean, is there some other Rutherford Hayes we could get him confused with so we must specify the B?

The best part about this fake bill is that it is a bit of stealth evangelization, which my coworker didn’t notice when he gave it to me. (He thought it was a joke, but not that kind of joke.) Here is what it says on the back:

The million-dollar question: will you go to Heaven when you die? Here’s a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell. That’s not God’s will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. You broke God’s law. But Jesus paid your fine. That means He can legally dismiss your case. He can commute your death sentence – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please repent (turn from sin) today and trust alone in Jesus, and God will grant you the gift of everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.

Then it gives a website that I checked out for your convenience. It seems to be a website that sells religious tracts. So this million dollar bill is actually a sales pitch.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Famous Office Mate


Saturday Travalon and I went to the Badger game; it was a gorgeous day to be outside watching a game, but the outcome was sort of sad for us Badger fans. At least it was close, and we lost in overtime. It could have been so much worse. We were sitting in the end zone so we could really see all the overtime action. Lots of Ohio State fans were sitting near us, doing some cheer: “Oh-hi!” “Oh!!” They had gestures that went with it and everything. The ones lower down would do the first half of the chant, and the ones higher up would finish it. Of course the student sections had their usual chant going back and forth, which I won’t repeat on a family blog.

Sunday Travalon and I went to a bar from the book that was outside of Reedsburg and seriously in the middle of nowhere. Lots of hunters in bright orange were watching the Packer game, which had a much happier outcome than the Badger one. They didn’t have much selection out there, so I ordered a Miller High Life, since the free sample of it they give you at the end of the Miller brewery tour is so tasty. Of course High Life in a bottle wasn’t tasty at all, especially after all the microbrews we’ve been sampling. It was weak and watery, and I’m not sure why people drink it when there are such good beers in the world. Then Travalon and I saw my office mate Light Bright perform in a tribute show with her band to raise money for the Baraboo Zoo. They did tributes to Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash, and they were really good. It was at the Al Ringling Theater, which is beautiful and was decorated for Christmas, somewhat early in my opinion, but it was lovely to see. Afterwards Light Bright was surrounded by people who wanted her autograph, but that didn’t give her such a big head because she showed up for work today anyway.

Famous Hat

Friday, November 16, 2012

He Said WHAT??


In the OTHER choir I sing with, we are working on a gorgeous piece by Schuetz. We are planning to sing it a capella but still need the piano playing along with our parts, since it is a very difficult piece. Last night the OTHER choir director made a comment that we “only have two weeks to get our Schuetz together,” and I tried not to laugh, wondering if anyone else thought it was funny too. Here and there someone giggled, then pretty soon the whole choir was laughing. The OTHER choir director seemed puzzled. “What’s so funny?” he wondered. When an alto pointed out to him what he had said, he joined the chorus of laughter.

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Poor Guy


My office mate Light Bright told me this story yesterday: as she was waiting in line to vote in the recent election, she struck up a conversation with the short white guy with an East Coast accent behind her. He was telling her that he was sick of all these rich politicians who only care about other rich people, and wouldn’t it be nice if they would buy his groceries since he couldn’t afford to. He went on and on about how poor he was, and how poor his mother out in New York was… and then he pulled out a Smart phone. Now neither Light Bright nor I have Smart phones. Hey! Maybe that’s why we can afford to buy groceries.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All About -us


Today my office mate Light Bright and I were talking about my pilgrimage to the taverns in Bottoms Up, and I wondered if it was all one pilgrimage or if each trip to a tavern was a pilgrimage in itself, and she said, “They’re pilgrimagi!” She was surprised to learn that you can’t just stick an i on the back of a word to make it a plural unless that word ends in –us. I gave her several examples, like syllabus – syllabi, or Christopher and his lesser-known brother Frank the Columbi brothers, and she tried to think of a word that ended in –us and could only come up with “horrendous.” I said it has to be a noun, and she said, “I don’t like all these rules!” She found a website that had this rule and some more examples, like asparagus – asparagi, and she said, “These aren’t as fun as my made-up words.” Then she wondered about Adidas, since it ends in –us. I said it may sound like it does, but it ends with an a and is already plural. She said, “This is why I’m so bad at spelling!”

Update: Light Bright and I have determined that the plural of bus must be bi.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eco's Bad Day


Last night when Hardingfele and I went to work out, she told me this blogworthy story: her daughter Rockstar Tailor recently got a pet walking stick bug from a classmate, which she named Eco. Hardingfele was on the phone the other night when she heard a bloodcurdling scream, and when she asked what was wrong, Rockstar Tailor told her she had accidentally broken one of Eco’s legs off so they had to go visit the emergency veterinary clinic. Hardingfele said bugs are not to be cuddled like cats, and the vet would just tell them, “Now you have a five-legged bug.”

After our workout, I stopped by to meet Eco. Hardingfele peered at the bug and said, “Now it only has four legs! Have you been cuddling it again?” Rockstar Tailor was nonchalant: “My friend says they will grow back.” So I am wondering how few legs this poor bug will end up with. When I asked Light Bright if this was a blogworthy story, she said yes and suggested I draw a rendition of Eco, so here it is.


Famous Hat

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bottoms Up Pilgrimage Update


Travalon and I continue our pilgrimage to visit every tavern and brewery featured in Bottoms Up. (There will be a TV show based on the book showing tonight at 8:00 on PBS.) Friday we went to the Cardinal Bar and had a lovely chat with the couple next to us and the two bartenders. The Cardinal used to be open on Sundays with live Latin jazz, but just a month ago this stopped because they were having to pay the band more than they took in. The Cardinal spent Prohibition posing as a restaurant.

Then Saturday we took a road trip out to Potosi to their historic brewery. Potosi is a very pretty town, and the beer is wonderful there, but to our surprise two people came in and one ordered a Bud Light while the other ordered a Miller Light. What?? There is a History of Beer museum located in the brewery complex, and we enjoyed looking at century-old memorabilia and watching decades-old TV ads. Then we drove to Platteville to another historic tavern with jars full of candy behind the lovely wooden bar, adding to the old-fashioned feel. We ended the night at Dot’s Tavern in the town of Bosco, down in the basement of a house. The jukebox had lots of Elvis and Johnny Cash on it, and the bartenders and regulars were highly entertaining. The author of Bottoms Up is right – every tavern in this book is a pleasure to visit!

Famous Hat

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happening Tivoli Island


Do you ever feel like you missed all the fun? It was a common feeling for those of us who grew up in the 80’s and felt we missed all the fun in the 60’s, but it seems that the real fun was longer ago than that. First there was the Great Saltair, which you can read about here, out in Salt Lake City. In the 20’s it was a happening place with people going out every weekend to swim, and live jazz bands playing in the evenings. Now it is still a live music venue, but when Tiffy and I visited it last year, not much was going on, and the current building is not nearly as elaborate as the original one.


 The Great Saltair

Now I find out that back in the 90’s – that is, the 1890’s – there was a pavilion and a fountain on Tivoli Island in Watertown, as well as a bowling alley, and that all sorts of concerts happened there. Today the island is a very pretty wilderness park with hiking trails, but I feel a little sad to think I missed all the excitement on Tivoli Island. Here is a history of it, and here is a photo:


Tivoli Island

It does make me wonder what we have now that people one hundred years from now will look back and say, “If only I had seen that when it was a happening place!” Let me know what you would nominate in the comments.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rich's Bike Helmet


This morning as I walked to the bus stop, I saw a shattered bike helmet in the middle of a driveway. Who knows what happened there? But it reminded me of the time Rich needed to get a new bike helmet. The irony is that he was the one always telling other people to be sure to wear a helmet when biking, yet his ancient, moldy helmet would have been no protection in a crash. We all told him to get a new helmet, but he thought the old one was perfectly serviceable. It took an act of God to finally get him to buy a new one.

Rich had gone camping with a friend in a place called Thorp, which does not have much in it but does have a restaurant called Thorpedo.  They brought their bikes up, strapped to the back of the car, and left the same way. Once they got on the highway, the car behind them kept flashing its lights so they pulled over. Something had flown off their car and smashed on the hood of the car behind them, causing no damage to it, but the object had shattered completely. They were puzzling over what it could be when Rich realized that he had left his bike helmet on the handlebars of his bike, and that was what had flown off and smashed on the other car. When he told us this story, Kathbert and I said, “See, Rich? Even God thinks you needed a new helmet!” So he did get one.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sydney the Red Blood Cell


Today, as every day, I was agonizing over what to blog about as Light Bright and I went to the new building to deliver mail. I began telling her about a short story I’d written, based on my brother’s eventful wedding, in which the main character wrote children’s stories about Sydney the Red Blood Cell, like Sydney Visits the Heart and Sydney Visits the Lungs. When I had told Tiffy about this back in the day, she suggested the title Anemia: Sydney Goes on a Diet and also doubted that Sydney would enjoy much circulation. To my surprise, Light Bright thought I should actually write the series of children’s books about Sydney, which I had always intended to be a funny detail in the short story. “They would be very educational,” she said. So I leave it to you, gentle readers – should I actually proceed with this undertaking? Would children everywhere love to learn about Sydney’s travels throughout the body?


(I actually own this Giant Microbe)

Famous Hat

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tavern Pilgrimage Continues


Travalon and I continue to make our pilgrimage to the historical taverns featured in the book Bottoms Up. Friday night we went to Kurth’s Tavern in Columbus, which is only open on Wednesdays and Fridays. It is the hospitality building from the old Kurth Brewing complex, most of which burned down in 1919. They even still serve Kurth beer, though of course it is not brewed there anymore. Saturday we went to a book signing with the author of Bottoms Up and another author who did a coffee table book on the old Pabst Brewing Company buildings, and then we went to the old hospitality building at that complex. We also took advantage of Free Zoo Day at the Milwaukee Zoo and had affordable lobster at the St. Paul Seafood Company in the Milwaukee Public Market.  So now we only have about sixty-seven taverns left to visit.

Famous Hat

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day at the Office


Today at the office I had to print out thirty PDFs for someone. Why he couldn’t read them on the computer instead of killing innumerable trees is beyond me, but mine is not to ask why, at least not at the office. He gave me the CD the PDFs were on… and the case was taped totally closed, so I had to remove six pieces of tape to get into it. Then I got him to let me print them on the ton of scratch paper we have around the office… but I used it all up and still had ten PDFs to go! The kicker is that this guy is retired and technically no longer works here. Isn’t that kind of like if I were to print my novel at work?  Or more precisely, asking someone else to print it out after I no longer work here and then making sure the CD it was on was nearly impossible to access?

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hedgehogs in Costume

What could be better for Halloween than photos of hedgehogs in costume? I don't know who took these photos, but Toque McToque sent me this one of a hedgehog as Thor:


Banjo Player sent me this photo of a military hedgehog:


I don't have any photos of bunnies in costume to share with you, but Hardingfele sent me this photo of a bunny jack-o-lantern that looks a lot like Charlie:


Happy Halloween!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Crazy Faces Make It All Better


You know how they say bad things happen in threes? That sure seemed to be true at work today. I called for a recycle bin for someone, but they brought a confidential shredding bin instead and said they didn't have a regular recycle bin. Then someone else had his key stuck in the lock of his office, so I had to call security to come free it. And then someone shoved what looked like an entire roll of toilet paper into one of the women’s toilets, so I had to call about that too. I told Light Bright they are going to ignore the next request they get from Famous Hat.

Light Bright is a new homeowner, and she had three bad things happen too. First the drain in the basement was clogged so the whole basement flooded. Then her internet connection stopped working, so she had to spend an hour and a half on the phone getting that fixed. Then there was a bad smell in the basement so she called a cleaning company, and they found a family of dead mice in the laundry room. “I don’t want to call the biggest one a rat,” said the cleaning guy, “but it was pretty darn large.” So she is hoping that is the end of her new homeowner bad luck.

How did Light Bright and I survive the day? We went to the coffee place and got Crazy Faces, which are two shots of espresso with a vanilla flavor shot, half and half, and whipped cream. So not good for you, but so tasty yet caffeinated. That perked us right up and we were ready to get back to work and home ownership. (This is why I own a condo.)

Famous Hat

Monday, October 29, 2012

Island Hiking


I hope all my readers had a good weekend. I went to a fish fry on Friday with my neighbors A-Joz and Jackie O, since we couldn’t go after our condo association meeting on Wednesday night. (That didn’t go well; we didn’t get a quorum so we couldn’t conduct any official business.) Saturday I went to a corn maze with Travalon, A-Joz, Luxuli and her husband, and Richard Bonomo, and we got official “Maze Master” certificates for finding secret punches. (There are different shaped hole punches that are not marked on the map so you have to hunt for them.) This is the first year in a long time that Tiffy was unable to go to the corn maze – if you are reading this, Tiffy, we missed you! Later Rich, Travalon, and I went to a bonfire and spooky walk hosted by some people who go to my church, and that was a lot of fun. Sunday Travalon and I went on another mini road trip, hiking on Tivoli Island in Watertown and by the mighty Crawfish River in Columbus and by Lazy Lake in Fall River. We tried to go to several of the bars in Travalon’s book, but can you believe they were all closed on a Packer Sunday? I guess we got there too late because the game was already over, and they must close up right after that. Oh well, any day I get to hike on an island is a good one!

Update: welcome to my Canadian readers! Travalon said I should have mentioned the Greek restaurant we went to in Sun Prairie called Atlantis which was really good.

Famous Hat 

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Equestrian Rick James

I don't know who to credit for this picture A-Joz sent me, but it's too funny not to post.



Famous Hat

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Famous Hat Shoe Fund


Today I wondered once again what to blog about as Light Bright and I went to deliver the mail to the other building, and after we passed some art for sale, she said, “Why not blog about your favorite artists?” To which I replied, “I guess I don’t have to blog every day,” and she said, “That’s just another way of saying, ‘Your idea sucks, Light Bright.’” Then we laughed really hard, and I said, “Now I do have something to blog about!” She said what I should actually blog about are my shoes that are falling apart, and how I should be taking up a collection for new ones. I said, “I know, I can’t throw anything away, and I didn't even grow up in the Depression,” and she said, “Those shoes look like they grew up in the Depression!” She says she is going to throw them away some morning before I get into work. (I wear my sneakers on my way to work.) So feel free to donate to the Famous Hat Shoe Fund.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Forgot to Title this Post


Today Hardingfele sent me an article about a Russian cat nursing some orphaned hedgehogs. (This story should appeal to my Russian readership.) The photos are cute, but it is the comments on this post that really make it noteworthy. Especially this rant about same sex marriage in Ireland, which one might argue has nothing to do with cats in Russia who adopt hedgehogs:

THIS IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN IRELAND IF WE LEGISLATE FOR GAY MARRIGE. WE WILL SEE THE COLLAPSE OF ALL MORAL CODES – PARENTS WILL BE ABLE TO MARRY THEIR CHILDREN. HUMANS WILL BE ABLE TO MARRY BADGERS. HORSES WILL BE ABLE TO MARRY TURNIPS. WEIGHTLIFTERS WILL BE ABLE TO MARRY TRAFFIC BOLLARDS. THIS IS WRONG WRONG WRONG. WE ARE ON THE TOP OF A SLIPPERY SLOPE.

I like the choice to write this all in caps. It drives home the writer's passion, or possibly insanity, about the subject. And for your convenience, I am including the photo that came up when I googled traffic bollards:




You're welcome.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A 420 Problem at 420 Henry Mall


Yesterday Toque McToque sent me a news item about a researcher on our esteemed campus who was busted for growing marijuana in his office. Judging by the photo of him accompanying the online story, he was doing some quality testing of the plants. The best part of the story per Toque was that the address of the building his office was in is 420 Henry Mall. (For those of you who don’t get this, 420 is slang for cannabis.) I thought this was worthy of a blog entry.

Famous Hat 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sweetest Day Disaster


Friday afternoon I took half a day off of work, and Travalon and I went to the Crane Foundation to see all sorts of cranes, some of them as tall as I am. (Granted, not that tall for a person, but really something for a bird.) Then we went to a cheesy haunted house and cursed temple, which was a lot of fun. We were laughing so hard, especially when this guy who was dressed like a shrub kept popping out and startling us. Travalon has a book of historic bars in Wisconsin, and our favorite place, Le Tigre, is on there, so we went there as our official start to visiting every bar in the book.

Saturday was Sweetest Day, which I didn’t realize since I don’t care about made-up holidays, but Travalon gave me a small box of chocolates so that was very sweet. (Pun intended.) We ate several of the chocolates, then we went to lunch with his very entertaining mother. She has a great sense of humor! We went to a beautiful harbor and walked across a scary walkway about the width of a regular sidewalk with sheer drop-offs on either side to get to a lighthouse. Then we went to Travalon’s old hangout and had scallops for dinner; Travalon dropped a scallop and the waitresses found it, so they brought him another one. Wasn’t that thoughtful? When we got back to his house, we discovered that his dog Rodney had gotten into the chocolates, but luckily there were only a couple left so no real damage was done.

Yesterday Travalon and I were supposed to go on our hot air balloon ride, but it was too windy. The pilot said the best time to go is midwinter to avoid cancellations, so maybe I will just go for my next birthday.

Famous Hat

Friday, October 19, 2012

Early Deep Question


I don’t have much to blog about today, but I am taking the afternoon off to go hiking (or antiquing , if it continues to rain) with Travalon, so after that I will have something to say. Sorry for the lack of communication yesterday, it was not a particularly busy day but then I had a meeting at the end of the day and just ran out of time to blog. Also, I have no good Light Bright stories, except maybe this: yesterday I was once again annoyed by someone who insists animals do not go to Heaven, and a woman at my bus stop agreed with me. Who wants to go to Heaven if there are no animals there? When I asked Light Bright this question when I got to work, she groaned, “Why do you always have to ask the heavy questions first thing in the morning? I don’t even know where I stand on people going to Heaven!” She isn’t sure she wants to see the cat she had to give away in Heaven.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Difference Between Henry the Eighth


Today as my office mate Light Bright and I walked to the new building to deliver mail, I told her how I had two songs stuck in my head: that stupidly catchy Korean hip hop thing “Gangnam Style” and the old standard “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” I said I should make a mash-up of the two songs:

“You must realize smoke gets in your eyes – Oppa Gangnam Style!”

She said that for years she has gotten two songs confused and began singing: “I’m Henry the Eighth, I am, I am, I’m Henry the Eighth I am. I’m getting married to the widow next door,” and I sang, “She’s been married seven times before.” Then I asked, “What’s the second song?” She said, “You think they go together too?!” Turns out she thought the first line was from one song and the line about the widow next door was a second song, but they seemed to have the same tune to her. She said when she had mentioned this to other people in the past, they hadn’t really responded, and I said, “Yeah, it’s kind of like asking them, ‘What’s the difference between an orange?’” She was very glad I had cleared up this mystery for her, answering the burning question of why she always wanted to sing those two songs together.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gradations of Spring and Fall


Summer is three months of sunny, carefree days and winter is an eternity of short, cold, snowy days, but spring and autumn have different parts to them. It almost seems like a misnomer to refer to spring as one season, since there is an early, windy, muddy part that is distinct from the later part when the flowers bloom and the air is soft. Autumn has at least two stages: there is the October part, when the leaves are beautiful and the night air is cool, and then there is the less charming November part when there are no more leaves and everything is bleak. Doesn’t it seem like there should be two different names for these seasons instead of lumping them all into “autumn”? Maybe the pretty part could be autumn and the bleak part could be prewinter. I think about this with my postponed balloon ride; I am hoping to schedule it during autumn, but if it keeps getting postponed, I might be flying over the prewinter landscape, and how depressing would that be? Maybe I’d have to wait for spring, and not postwinter but the real spring that starts in late April.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 15, 2012

Balloon Ride Postponed


Yesterday I was supposed to go on my long-anticipated hot air balloon ride, the one many of you readers contributed to for my birthday back in January. Of course I had all summer to schedule this, but my procrastination paid off because then I met Travalon, and he is willing to go with me. We tried to go two weekends ago, but there was no room on the schedule, so I booked it for yesterday. Then I woke up to a steady downpour that lasted all day, so it was no surprise when the hot air balloon pilot (who, according to his website, is also a photographer) called to say he was canceling due to weather. We are going to try it again next Sunday. Not sure how late into the autumn I would want to do this; soon the weather will get really cold, and the leaves will not be pretty anymore.  Of course, this pilot flies all winter so Travalon and I could always bundle up and do this for my next birthday.

Famous Hat

Friday, October 12, 2012

Light Bright Magic


The magical properties I ascribe to my office mate Light Bright never cease, apparently, judging by the question I asked her yesterday. We had a very busy day running around, taking candidates here and food for luncheons there, then around noon we had a breather and sat talking to each other. One of the luncheons finished up at one, and Light Bright was going to go clean up afterwards and see if there was any leftover pizza. I answered a couple of emails and then asked Light Bright if she had gone to clean up the pizza, and she laughed. “I’ve been sitting here the whole time!” she said. “How could I have gone to clean up the pizza?” I plead natural blonde. But who knows, maybe she can be in two places at once. Maybe she is just that good.

A big shout out to the French readership I seem to have gained this week. Merci!

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Closed Captioning


Last night I was bad and skipped choir practice to work out with Hardingfele at the health club. (Life is too short to spend every week practicing songs I know by heart, especially now that I am back to singing alto again.) (This is what happens to you when you can sing both parts – you get bounced around like a red rubber ball.) We did our usual workout in the pool with aqua barbells, but there was a class in the pool when we first arrived, so we spent some time on the stationary bikes. A TV in front of us was playing the “fair and balanced” news station, and they have the worst closed captioning either Hardingfele or I had ever seen. For example, did you realize Mitt Romney was at an autopsy rally yesterday? Really, that’s what it said. I don’t even know what they meant to say, since you can’t hear the TVs without earbuds. Our very favorite correction was a story showing a very tall tower that looked a bit like the Space Needle  tumbling to earth, and the closed captioning informed us that “workers imploded a 2-foot sh*t.” I couldn’t even make this stuff up.

Famous Hat 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Early Music Jam


Last night a member of my band invited a bunch of us over to play old instruments, but only I showed up. It was a little bit sad, like when a kid has a birthday party and only one person comes, except there was no cake. I played my rebec, which is like a small Medieval violin, and boy did I stink! It is held differently than a modern violin, so my technique was not very good, and I squeaked like a little kid just learning the violin. Also, because the neck was so small, I sometimes didn’t get my fingers in quite the right place, so my tuning was not perfect. That’s okay, the other lady is learning to play the tenor viol, and she was no better than I was, so we both squeaked along out of tune. The only person I felt bad for was her husband, when he came home partway through our squeakfest. Too bad the others didn’t come – I hope they weren’t worried that they aren’t very good at playing their ancient instruments! That was the whole point of this Early Music Jam, after all.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dinner Adventure


Sunday after going to the winery, Travalon and I went to get some dinner. This proved to be much more of an adventure than we had counted on. Our first plan was to go to a Cajun restaurant, but it was closed, so we went to the Italian restaurant next door. And it was closed. Undeterred, we went to an Eastern European bistro down the street… and it was closed. We walked to a nearby Italian café, and it was closed too! We ended up going to a new brew pub called the Free House which was really good, although it basically has sandwiches and burgers. We enjoyed the garlic and parmesan fries and the homemade peanut butter cheesecake, and I had a pear cider there. Yum! Sometimes when things don’t work out the way you expect, you discover something new and wonderful.

Here is a photo of Travalon, his dog Rodney, and me at Wyalusing State Park If you look closely, you can see a train going past down in the valley behind us.


Famous Hat

Monday, October 8, 2012

Autumn Leaves and a Beheaded Rose


Friday Travalon and I drove around the state: to Wildcat Mountain, through the Kickapoo Valley, over to Wyalusing State Park, then down along the Mississippi River to Dubuque. His dog Rodney came with us, and we stopped frequently to let Rodney out, but it was so cold out that we didn’t take any long hikes. The leaves were gorgeous, and I took photos which I hope to post soon. We went to a casino on a riverboat in Marquette, Iowa and a larger one in Dubuque, where we had a buffet dinner, and we also discovered a grotto in North Buena Vista, Iowa. (I have a photo of that too.) While it cannot compare with the Dickeyville Grotto, it was very lovely. We stopped in Mineral Point on the way back and had a drink at a bar that allowed Rodney inside. That’s the beauty of small town living.

Saturday Travalon and I went to the House on the Rock, which I had never been to before. The House itself has a very Oriental theme and really narrow doorways and low ceilings, and it has a really cool room called the Infinity Room which is long and tapering and all windows. The museum part had lots of dollhouses, carousels, and setups of instruments that played themselves. Practically every room had one of these spooky bands. There were maritime and aviation sections with historical documents and artifacts, like menus from old ocean liners and newspaper stories about the Titanic and uniforms like the one Napoleon wore. A lot of the stuff was from the 19th or early 20th century. In the evening we went to see a John Mellencamp cover band and then my office mate Light Bright’s band.

Yesterday Travalon brought me a red rose, then we went to a winery and sat outside in the autumn sunlight, drinking white wine. It seemed so wonderful and romantic… and then in the parking lot he accidentally knocked the top off of my rose. Typical Sagittarius – they’re known for being clumsy. I stuck both the rose top and the stem in a vase, since I wasn’t sure what else to do with the stem, and when I told Light Bright the story, she said, “You have to blog about that!” So I am.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Most Popular Post

Today the big excitement around here is that the President is in town. From my office window, I could see Air Force One landing. Tomorrow is going to be more exciting for me, because I'm taking the day off of work so Travalon and I can drive around the state and look at fall colors. So if you don't hear from me tomorrow, I'm busy admiring autumn leaves.

As promised, today I am going to talk about my most popular post of all time, which is this one. I'm not sure what the appeal is. It is one of my typical rants about the evils of equal temperament, and nobody bothered to comment on it. Yet it has been viewed almost twice as often as my next most popular post, which is the one I blogged about yesterday. (Of course, that one's catching up, thanks to all the Russians.) Are people finding this post because they are googling Messiah, I wonder? Or equal temperament? Maybe they are googling Bbb, which is not three B's in a row but B extra flat. It's a quarter tone we don't use in Western music, at least not in equal temperament. When will we realize the Faustian bargain we have made just to be able to play songs in ridiculous keys that nobody cares about anyway?

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why a Wasp So Popular?

I have begun looking at the statistics on my blog and was surprised to find that I seem to have quite the Russian readership. The last few days it has spread to Ukraine and Latvia too. And what post, you might ask, are they reading? This one. I am not sure what the appeal is of this particular post, or why its web address is something about todays-postito-diminutive-of-post when the title is Why a Hornet. Did someone imbed something fascinating in this web page? The post only merited one comment, from Hardingfele. It is about two encounters with wasps. I really have no idea why this would be so popular (although not my all-time most viewed post; I'll blog about that tomorrow) and am wondering if it translates into something hilarious in Russian. Hardingfele, your thoughts? If you are still commenting on my posts, that is...

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Name for Da Guy


Last night Hardingfele, Rockstar Tailor, and I went to the health club to work out, and as we lifted weights in the pool, Hardingfele said Da Guy needs a better name than Da Guy on my blog. Rockstar Tailor said that since he likes to travel, and his car is an Avalon, I should call him Travalon. This makes a certain amount of sense to me, so from now on Da Guy will be Travalon. It almost sounds like a name. Rockstar Tailor is learning to play the trumpet in band class, so after we got done working out and returned to her house, she demonstrated for us. She could actually make a pretty good sound on it so I was impressed, since I find the trumpet difficult to play.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Seattle Jewelry

Da Guy is back from Seattle, and I know people are going to ask what he brought back for me, so I scanned it for your viewing convenience. Actually, this is only part of it because there is a bracelet too, but that was impossible to scan. These are a necklace and earrings with Native American designs on them, which is what the bracelet is too, only it has seahawks on it, so you can imagine what it looks like. I am wearing all of them today, and I have gotten a lot of compliments on the necklace.



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Friday, September 28, 2012

Today's Deep Question

I would like to apologize, particularly to my Russian readership, for my silence the last few days. I was home sick with a bad cold and was reading a couple of the Harry Potter books. Since I am a complete Luddite with no internet access at home, there was no really good way for me to blog. I was too sick to use a free computer at the library, and besides, that would be really gross for the next user. Today I felt pretty lousy too, but it was a big day at work so calling in sick did not seem like a good idea. Indeed, as the day went along, I began to feel better. Now I am ready to go to a boy's choir concert tonight and not cough and sneeze through the whole thing.

Here is the Deep Question for today, courtesy of Toque McToque: if rabbits will eat chocolate (as mine do), and they eat a chocolate bunny, is that cannibalism?

Once again, thank you for reading my blog. спасибо! 

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Terrible Call

All anyone can talk about around here, no big surprise, is the terrible call that lost the Packers the game last night. I actually went to bed early and missed the controversial play, but it sounds like everyone agrees that Jennings had the ball, not Tate. Apparently this is happening because the regular referees are in some kind of contract dispute with the NFL, so there are substitutes and they have no idea what they are doing. Maybe if we all stop watching football until this contract dispute is resolved, that will finally make the NFL team owners pay attention. The referees are angry about changes to their retirement system. As a state worker, I can totally relate!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Blog Party


I apologize to any readers I don’t personally know for not inviting you to my blog party yesterday, especially my readership in Russia. Not sure why, but I seem to have a number of readers there. We had good pizza and a dizzying array of beverages, as well as Toque McToque’s delicious mudbars. Unfortunately, she could not attend, since she had a job interview today in another state and had to travel. Good luck with your interview, Toque! The party was at Richard Bonomo’s house, and he was there, along with Banjo Player and her husband (who called himself YRU39), Kathbert, Hardingfele, Luxuli and Mr. Lux, Mamastep, A-Joz, Jilly Moose, and Light Bright. Anna Banana 2 joined us via speakerphone too. I hope I didn’t miss anyone! If I did, please don’t feel offended, it’s just my advanced age causing my memory to fail. Banjo Player and her husband had a great story they wanted me to blog about, so here goes:

They were walking along a trail at a retreat center when suddenly a young man dressed like the Incredible Hulk appeared. He sheepishly told them, “I am Gollum, and I am looking for hobbits.” Banjo Player said she wanted to say, “No, you’re not – you’re the Incredible Hulk!” but her husband said, “I think if you go that way, you’ll find some.” I said the most likely explanation is that this was a participant in the Ring Games, an annual affair where people dress up like characters from The Lord of the Rings and run around sort of reenacting the book. Maybe the closest this guy could come to a Gollum costume was an Incredible Hulk one.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

No-Cash Machine Through Japanese and Back

Richard Bonomo has a houseguest from Japan, and he translated my blog into Japanese using Google Translate for him. His houseguest was laughing and said the translation did not really make sense, so we used Google to re-translate it into English, and this is what we got:


Today, the downstairs of Cash Machine, I, is my habit automated teller in the dining room in order to get some cash for the weekend, I've been doing. Doing trading in Spanish, to add some interest to life, just I was trying to get the $ 20 in cash fast, I automated teller machine, the transaction could not be used I said to myself. Given that that was not available in Spanish, I have tried it in English, it is probably the same message is displayed. There was a problem with the trade fast cash, maybe I'd try to periodically withdraw from my checking account just so. To my surprise, I could not even deal. So, why do not you be able to hand out cash in automated teller machine basically? Is there something like that purpose? If you do not want to adjust things anymore, it must work yet so I can not imagine, I refuse to give cash, I Cash Machine here yet automated teller I'd like to know what you are on. Because it says I have to have the $ 20 to spare enough, no online and it is not an account of me.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

No-Cash Machine


Today I went, as is my wont, to the cash machine downstairs by the cafeteria to get some cash for the weekend. I tried to get $20 in fast cash, doing the transaction in Spanish just to add some interest to life, and the cash machine told me this transaction was unavailable. Thinking maybe it was unavailable in Spanish, I tried it in English and got the same message. So maybe there was a problem with the Fast Cash transaction; I would just try to do a regular withdrawal from my checking account. To my surprise, this transaction was also not available. So basically the cash machine is unable to give out cash? Isn’t that kind of its purpose? I can’t imagine if I didn’t want to coordinate things anymore that I would still have a job, so I’d like to know what a cash machine that refuses to give cash is still doing here.  And no, it’s not because of my account, since online it says I have enough to spare $20.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

3 Debroom Appartment

The good news: my office mate Light Bright put an offer on a house and it was accepted! The bad news: her landlord will not let her out of her lease, so she has to find a subletter. Here is what she has to say about her apartment:

Our offer was accepted for the house on 123 Easy Street today! :) But... that means we have to sublet our appartment... tell everyone you know who may be looking for an apartment! :) It happens to be fabulous :) here is a brief description if you do know someone looking: 2000 sqft, 3 debroom, 2 full bathroom apartment heat and 2 stall underground parking included in rent 1050/month.

So there you go. If you know anyone looking for a 3 debroom appartment, have them talk to me and I will get them in touch with Light Bright.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cat Art

My office mate Light Bright plays in a country band that gets way more gigs than my band; for example, they played at the Willy Street Fair on Sunday. The leader of the band has a cat named Dave, and when Dave got done with his food, he had left some art in the bowl. Check it out.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pepper Spray

Every time I can't think of anything to blog about, Toque McToque comes through with something. This is a true story that happened to her and her husband:

Last night Mr. McToque was making dinner, a mix of potatoes, eggs, veggies - what we call a “garbage plate.” He thought he’d add a couple of jalapeños from our plant. We were both aware that this year the heat and dry conditions made for hotter peppers, but had no reason for concern as we love spicy food.  Mr. McToque chapped them up and tossed them into a hot pan…that didn’t have enough oil in it. What happened was that the oils from the peppers were released into the air instead of staying in the pan. The end result? It was like being pepper sprayed, we coughed and sneezed for several hours, even after we opened the windows.  

So thanks for pepper spraying yourself for the sake of my blog, Toque. I can always count on you!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Stream Crossing Adventure


Yesterday Da Guy and I went to Parfry’s Glen for a hike. This is a beautiful glen that used to have a wooden walkway leading to a small waterfall, but some flooding had washed out the walkway. I vaguely remembered hearing about that but thought surely they had repaired the walkway since then. We headed out on the trail, admiring the beautiful day and the lovely foliage around us. There was an area to the side that was blocked off, but otherwise things looked fine. Then we came upon a group of hikers who ominously told us if we were looking for a good hike, then we had come to the right place. We asked what they meant, and they said there were slippery rocks ahead. We went on ahead and sure enough, we had to cross the stream on some slippery rocks. Thinking maybe that was the worst of it, we continued on, over tree roots and large rocks, until having to cross back over the stream again. That was a little annoying – why cross it in the first place? – but we gamely crossed the stream… only to find that the trail petered out right after that. There was no good way to go any further, and we were still not that close to the waterfall. We looked around and decided there was no good way to get there, so we would just have to head back, crossing back over the stream two more times. Guess we got our practice in crossing streams!

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