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Wide White: March 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Final Four: 3/4

My bust was Wisconsin, but I picked the other three. Not that picking three number one seeds was a stretch, but hey, it worked out.

I'm still far behind in my office pool thanks to numerous early mistakes. However, after losing my first round lead to my wife with her solid second round performance, I've pulled to dead even. She has 40 correct picks to my 39. On a 1:2:4:8:16:32 scoring format, we're tied at 77. However, my final match-up of UNC-UCLA remains possible. Her match-up of UNC-Texas (with Texas winning) eliminates her chance of beating me, though it's possible we could tie.

Forget the brackets, this should be the best Final Four ever!

Lay off the root beer!

Not all kegs are full of beer.
Cops bust high school root beer kegger

WAUSAU, Wis. - Cars lining the street. A house full of young people. A keg and drinking games inside. Police thought they had an underage boozing party on their hands.

But though they made dozens of teens take breath tests, none tested positive for alcohol. That's because the keg contained root beer.

The party was held by a high school student who wanted to show that teens don't always drink alcohol at their parties. It has gained fame on [NOTE: offensive language used a few times].

Dustin Zebro, 18, said he staged the party after friends at D.C. Everest High School got suspended from sports because of pictures showing them drinking from red cups.

The root-beer kegger was "to kind of make fun of the school," he said. "They assumed there was beer in the cups. We just wanted to have some root beer in red cups and just make it look like a party, but there actually wasn't any alcohol."

Zebro purchased a quarter-barrel of 1919 Classic American Draft Root Beer, and by 10 p.m. Saturday, the scene outside his rural Wausau home had all the makings of a teen drinking party — cars, noise and kids.

Kronenwetter Police Chief Daniel Joling said an officer was dispatched to the home March 1 on a complaint of cars blocking the road.

Juveniles began coming out of the house after the officer used his squad car's loudspeaker to warn that cars would soon be towed, Officer Jason Rasmussen wrote in his report.

Nearly 90 breath tests were done, and officers even searched locked rooms for hiding teens.

"It was a tremendous waste of time and manpower, but we still had a job to do, and our officers did it," Joling said. "If one kid had come there, even hadn't drank there, but had come there and had been drinking and had left and crashed and burned, then what would the sentiment be? Why didn't the police check everybody out?"
Was what they did juvenile? Yep. Did it make me laugh? Yep. I guess that makes me a bit juvenile.

(And yes, it's pure coincidence that this is my second straight post from Wausau, WI. Both stories were national news stories. Who knew Wausau had so much to talk about?)

Friday, March 28, 2008

But wasn't that God's will?

This is so unbelievably sad and underscores the danger of failing to use the brains and science God gave us in tandem with our faith. Based on the content of this story, I hope the parents are prosecuted with negligence at the very least.
Parents pick prayer over docs; girl dies

WESTON, Wis. - Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl's death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor.

An autopsy showed Madeline Neumann died Sunday of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that left too little insulin in her body, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said.

She had probably been ill for about a month, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness, the chief said Wednesday, noting that he expects to complete the investigation by Friday and forward the results to the district attorney.

The girl's mother, Leilani Neumann, said that she and her family believe in the Bible and that healing comes from God, but that they do not belong to an organized religion or faith, are not fanatics and have nothing against doctors.

She insisted her youngest child, a wiry girl known to wear her straight brown hair in a ponytail, was in good health until recently.

"We just noticed a tiredness within the past two weeks," she said Wednesday. "And then just the day before and that day (she died), it suddenly just went to a more serious situation. We stayed fast in prayer then. We believed that she would recover. We saw signs that to us, it looked like she was recovering."

Her daughter — who hadn't seen a doctor since she got some shots as a 3-year-old, according to Vergin — had no fever and there was warmth in her body, she said.

The girl's father, Dale Neumann, a former police officer, said he started CPR "as soon as the breath of life left" his daughter's body.

Family members elsewhere called authorities to seek help for the girl.

"My sister-in-law, she's very religious, she believes in faith instead of doctors ...," the girl's aunt told a sheriff's dispatcher Sunday afternoon in a call from California. "And she called my mother-in-law today ... and she explained to us that she believes her daughter's in a coma now and she's relying on faith."

The dispatcher got more information from the caller and asked whether an ambulance should be sent.

"Please," the woman replied. "I mean, she's refusing. She's going to fight it. ... We've been trying to get her to take her to the hospital for a week, a few days now."

The aunt called back with more information on the family's location, emergency logs show. Family friends also made a 911 call from the home. Police and paramedics arrived within minutes and immediately called for an ambulance that took her to a hospital.

But less than an hour after authorities reached the home, Madeline — a bright student who left public school for home schooling this semester — was declared dead.

She is survived by her parents and three older siblings.

"We are remaining strong for our children," Leilani Neumann said. "Only our faith in God is giving us strength at this time."

The Neumanns said they moved from California to a modern, middle-class home in woodsy Weston, just outside Wausau in central Wisconsin, about two years ago to open a coffee shop and be closer to other relatives. A basketball hoop is set up in the driveway.

Leilani Neumann said she and her husband are not worried about the investigation because "our lives are in God's hands. We know we did not do anything criminal. We know we did the best for our daughter we knew how to do."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My house is worth how much?

We got our tax assessment from the county. They appraise our place at a full $25,000 more than what we paid for it. We headed to an open meeting with the county this evening to appeal it.

The advantage of having just purchased the home (and the fact that it wasn't a foreclosure or short sale) is that we have evidence to support our claim. The home was originally listed at $50,000 more than what we paid for it and sat on the market for 9 months. They dropped the price $10,000 to $20,000 every few months and we still offered under the list price at the end. Of course, as part of getting a mortgage, we had to have an appraisal. That appraisal includes the value of three or four other similar homes purchased in the area in the past year. None of them were more than around $10,000 more than what we paid for ours (though ours was, admittedly, the cheapest, but prices have also continued to drop over the past year). She almost seemed surprised that we were actually prepared with a 19-page copy of the appraisal that we were able to hand over to them for their records.

They agreed to review our assessment and have someone come out to take a look at the place. I'm not holding my breath, but at the same time, we DID just purchase the place, so I think we have a pretty good case. Yeah, it's "only" what, $250 that we'd be saving? But I can think of a lot of other places that $250 can go...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Home prices nose dive

We put our offer in at the end of January. The home had already been marked down $40,000 from its initial offering and we offered significantly less. On top of that, we asked for and received another $1500+ worth of add-ons.

Point is, if you're selling, the market is rough.
US home prices drop 11.4 pct in January

NEW YORK - A widely watched index of U.S. home prices fell 11.4 percent in January, its steepest drop since data for the indicator was first collected in 1987.
Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis both slipped into negative double-digit territory for the first time in January, recording 10.9 percent and 10 percent drops compared to last year.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Not exactly dead...

Man declared dead, says he feels 'pretty good'

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (AP) -- Zach Dunlap says he feels "pretty good," four months after he was declared brain dead and doctors were about to remove his organs for transplant.

Dunlap was pronounced dead November 19 at United Regional Healthcare System in Wichita Falls, Texas, after he was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. His family approved having his organs harvested.

As family members were paying their last respects, he moved his foot and hand. He reacted to a pocketknife scraped across his foot and to pressure applied under a fingernail. After 48 days in the hospital, he was allowed to return home, where he continues to work on his recovery.
Dunlap said one thing he does remember is hearing the doctors pronounce him dead.
His father, Doug, said he saw the results of the brain scan.

"There was no activity at all, no blood flow at all."
Dunlap now has the pocketknife that was scraped across his foot, causing the first reaction.

"Just makes me thankful, makes me thankful that they didn't give up," he said. "Only the good die young, so I didn't go."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

NCAA basketball update - it's not pretty

My wife, who made her bracket picks by taking mascots into consideration, has a considerable lead on me.

In other words, it's not real pretty.

Office pool standings: 48/84
Consolation: all 4 Final Four teams still in (Jamie has lost Duke)
Elite Eight busts: Clemson, Marquette, Duke
Sweet Sixteen busts: St. Joe's, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Purdue

My Final Four of UNC, Memphis, UCLA, and Wisconsin remains intact. However, the only other Elite Eight prediction alive is Tennessee.

I need perfection from here on out or I'm hosed. I'm probably hosed anyway.

Here are Jamie's Sweet Sixteen showings:

East - perfect 4/4 (she has UNC and Tennessee winning the next round)
South - perfect 4/4 (she has Michigan State and Texas winning the next round)
Midwest - 1/4 (Kansas, who's in her Final Four)
West - 2/4 (UCLA losing in the Elite Eight and Xavier losing in the Sweet Sixteen)

I wonder who she would have picked if she'd known that Michigan State is the Spartans and not the Wolverines...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Barack hypocrisy?

I just came across an interesting story that I think is worth posting. Barack's years of support for his pastor are very concerning to me and are only contributing to my opinion that he is more beatable than Hillary. I absolutely don't believe that he had no knowledge of his pastor's teachings and his church's positions. When you consider someone to be part of your family, you know them inside and out.
Obama demanded Lott resignation

WASHINGTON – While Sen. Barack Obama said he couldn't throw over his friend and pastor of 20 years for racially charged and divisive hate speech, he had no trouble calling for the head of Sen. Trent Lott, the Republican Senate majority leader, for embracing a colleague with a segregationist past on his 100th birthday.

On Dec. 12, 2002, Obama, then serving as an Illinois state senator and filling in as host of the Cliff Kelley radio show on WVON, challenged the Republican Party to demand Lott's resignation.

"It seems to be that we can forgive a 100-year-old senator for some of the indiscretion of his youth, but, what is more difficult to forgive is the current president of the U.S. Senate (Lott) suggesting we had been better off if we had followed a segregationist path in this country after all of the battles and fights for civil rights and all the work that we still have to do," said Obama.

He added: "The Republican Party itself has to drive out Trent Lott. If they have to stand for something, they have to stand up and say this is not the person we want representing our party."

Eight days later, Lott of Mississippi stepped down as majority leader – not president of the Senate.
I just can't see what it is about him that would make him a good president. I've tried and will continue to try, but I've gone from rather passively opposing him for his political views to more strongly opposing him for his character.

Don't tell anyone!

I have lots of friends who are either pregnant or have had babies in the last year or so. Inevitably, the topic of baby names comes up.

I applaud those of you who refuse to tell anyone the names you're considering. Stay strong! No one else needs to know. Who cares if they hate the name you choose? If you wait until you have your baby, then tell everyone the name, NO ONE will ask you, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You're joking, right? That's a horrible name!" No, they'll say, "Oh, she's so cute!" Sure, they'll change the subject from the name of the baby to the baby itself, and you might get the hint that they're not nuts about the name. And when they leave, they'll whisper to one another, "Can you BELIEVE they used Delilah?!?" And you'll still love your little Delilah.

However, there are those on the other end of the spectrum. You decided on a name just as soon as you discovered the baby's gender, and now you're telling everyone who will listen the name you've chosen. "His name is going to be Donald."

Hold the phones. Never mind that you've now told everyone that you're picking a name that most people associate with a cartoon duck or an obnoxious billionaire with awful hair. You've also given them the opportunity to give you their opinion. All but your very closest friends may keep their mouths shut, but what about your family members? They WILL say something. They won't say it to you at first. Your brother will tell your brother-in-law, who will tell your sister what your brother said. Your sister will tell your mother, who agrees with your brother but doesn't want to tell you. So she'll break it to you by telling you what your brother said.

The fact is, once the birth certificate is signed and you've sent for the social security card, chances are this will NOT come up to your face! And isn't that how is should be?

When a baby name makes me gag, I have two responses, depending on if the baby has been born or not. If the baby has been born, I wait until we're alone and look at my wife in disbelief and say, "Can you believe they picked that name? There MUST be a story behind it! A great-great-great-grandma, perhaps?" And normally, there is. Or there are just eclectic tastes that I don't quite share.

However, if the baby hasn't been born, we'll wait until we're alone, look at each other in disbelief and say, "Can you believe they're TELLING people that they're using that!? Do you think we can convince them it's a bad idea?"

Be smart people. Stay cool and lay low. If you think your little white girl should be LaShaundra, go ahead and name her that. But don't open the flood gates of responses. Unless, that is, you'd like to know what I think about your use of LaShaundra...

Friday, March 21, 2008

NCAA round 1 damage

Office pool standings: 9/84
Record: 25/32
Elite Eight loser: Clemson
Sweet Sixteen losers: St. Joe's, Connecticut
First round losers: Vanderbilt, USC, Temple, St. Mary's

Tough times on the border

While the U.S. pushes for crackdown on the border, Mexico is rife with problems.
Mexican police chief requests US asylum

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The police chief of a Mexican border town racked by smuggling-related violence fled to the U.S. seeking asylum after his deputies abandoned him, federal officials said Friday.

Emilio Perez, the chief of Palomas, Mexico, showed up at the international port of entry in Columbus, N.M., late Tuesday, saying his two deputies had left the department and that he now needed protection, too, according to Doug Mosier, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman in El Paso.
Perez's village, just south of the border with New Mexico, was once a relatively quiet town. But violence has increased in the last few years, as it has elsewhere along the U.S.-Mexico border, and appears to have spiked of late.

On Thursday, the bodies of two people were found wrapped in blankets and dumped along a road near Palomas, and several other people were seen taken hostage over the past few days by heavily armed men, the newspaper El Diario of Juarez, Mexico, reported Friday.

Last month, two men were gunned down at a gas station near the international checkpoint, officials said.
Palomas has had a spate of drug-related violence as Mexico's ongoing crackdown on powerful cartels fuels turf wars among traffickers. The area also is a common meeting point for migrants heading north.

6th of 84

This position will likely crumble if years past are any indication, but I'm currently sitting at 6th place in my office pool. Miami beating St. Mary's is my only bad pick so far today.

Yes, that means I got Davidson AND Western Kentucky's upsets right. Gotta feel good about that!

3 mis-steps so far. However, Clemson has yet to play...I have them in my Elite Eight and need them to shine! I also have St. Joe's making the Sweet Sixteen.

The day is far from over...


After one day of March Madness, I'm 14/16.

My goofs were picking Temple to upset Michigan State and the 50/50 matchup of USC and Kansas State. I had both winners losing in the next round anyway, so there's no long-term impact regardless.

I picked Duke for the Elite Eight, but I have to admit that, as happens every year with Duke's given opponent, I was pulling for Belmont...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Where is everyone?

My wife and I lead a small group in our church that meets every Thursday night. Tonight, no one showed up.

Now, at first glance I'm willing to ignore that fact. People are usually pretty good about calling if they can't make it. It's Maundy Thursday and a number of people were at that service.

However, everyone was here last week. Everyone discussed whether or not to cancel small group because of Maundy Thursday. The consensus was that we wouldn't cancel small group.

One couple said they were going to the service anyway, which we left obviously open to everyone. One couple called this evening ahead of time to say they couldn't make it.

Now, I'm sure the other three absent couples had very good reasons for not being here. Everyone needs a week off occasionally. And hey, it's the NCAA basketball tournament. I have to admit, I'm glad I've been able to watch the games tonight!

But my wife had made rice crispy bars for everyone. I had practiced a song and prepared a Bible study. I wonder sometimes if people realized the effort that goes into leading something like this on a weekly basis. It's good to at least know that we don't have to prepare!

Again, some of these people are some of our best friends and I know they probably had good reasons. I'm just irritated right now. I'll get over it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

And the champion is...

My wife has Texas winning the national championship game. I haven't figured this out yet since she has North Carolina playing Duke in the championship game.

Should have had her fill it out online...

UPDATE: "Duke" has been replaced with "Texas" as North Carolina's opponent in the championship game.

Gotta know the mascot!

My wife just asked for a NCAA March Madness bracket. "It's the only thing that has a chance of getting me interested!"

I printed a bracket with the school names and seedings. There was a problem though.

"I need to know more than this! This doesn't have their mascots!"

Of course. Silly me!

When pressed for more information, she added that she didn't know where they were from or how well they're doing (I guess you need more than the seeds to know that...).

I'm just going to tell her to pick the turtles...

UPDATE: Apparently she needs colors too.

No Sox on the field

Walking off the job without the direction of a union leader? You mean you can do that?
Red Sox refuse to take field for game

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Boston Red Sox refused to take the field for their final spring training game in Florida on Wednesday and threatened to boycott their flight to Japan for their season openers unless their coaches and other staff are paid for the trip.

Fans filled the stadium, the national anthems were sung and Boston and Toronto lineups were announced, but the game did not begin at its 12:07 p.m. scheduled start.
Manager Terry Francona and his players were upset after learning staff members are not going to get a $40,000 stipend. The Boston Herald reported players insisted part of their agreement to make the trip included the fee — for them and the coaches.
The team voted unanimously earlier in the day not to play its final spring training game or to board the plane to Japan later Wednesday.
How's that for making a statement?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Test your awareness

This is just cool.

Hat tip: Dustin

Fire away (if necessary)

The Supreme Court is getting closer to making its first ruling on gun control since 1939, and it's looking more and more like it's going to be good news for those of us who interpret the Second Amendment as protecting the individual (and not simply collective) right to keep and bear arms.
WASHINGTON - Americans have a right to own guns, Supreme Court justices declared Tuesday in a historic and lively debate that could lead to the most significant interpretation of the Second Amendment since its ratification two centuries ago.
Inside the court, at the end of a session extended long past the normal one hour, a majority of justices appeared ready to say that Americans have a "right to keep and bear arms" that goes beyond the amendment's reference to service in a militia.

Several justices were openly skeptical that the District of Columbia's 32-year-old handgun ban, perhaps the strictest in the nation, could survive under that reading of the Constitution.

"What is reasonable about a total ban on possession?" Chief Justice John Roberts asked.
The court has not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The basic issue for the justices is whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

A key justice, Anthony Kennedy, seemed to settle that question early on when he said the Second Amendment gives "a general right to bear arms." He is likely to be joined by Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — a majority of the nine-member court.

Gun rights proponents were encouraged.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Middle East woes for Facebook

This is kind of funny.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Complaints by Jewish settlers angry at Facebook for listing them as residents of "Palestine" prompted the popular social networking Web site to allow users to switch themselves back to Israel.

Facebook users living in Maale Adumim, Ariel and other large Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank protested when the site automatically listed their hometowns as being in "Palestine." A group of settlers accused the California-based company of having a political agenda.

"I was surprised and disappointed to find that my hometown of Ariel is listed in Facebook as being part of a country called 'Palestine,"' wrote Ari Zimmerman in a posting on Facebook. "I am a citizen of Israel, as are all of the other residents of Ariel. We do not live in 'Palestine', nor does anyone else."
Not to worry though, Facebook to the rescue!
Brandee Barker, Facebook's director of communications, said users living in major settlement blocs can now choose between being listed as residents of Israel or Palestine.

"Facebook users in the Israeli West Bank settlements of Maale Adumim, Beitar Illit, and Ariel can now choose between Israel and Palestine," Barker said last week in an email to Reuters.
"We also offer Hebron in both Israel and Palestine," Barker said, referring to the major West Bank city which is home to about 150,000 Palestinians and some 400 Jewish settlers.
Apparently the designation of a geographical region's nation status is pretty important.
In a posting on a Facebook page used by settlers, Channah Lerman wrote: "Be aware! Should you restore the cities of Judea, Samaria (the West Bank) ... people will get more enraged than they are already. Palestine is not a country."

Palestinian users have set up their own Facebook group whose members threatened to cancel their accounts if Palestine was removed from the site. Called "If Palestine is removed from Facebook, I am closing my account," the group has over 4,700 members.

"We created this group to let our voices be heard not only among Facebook's management but all the users, and to tell everyone that Palestine is and will always be a country," Saif Qadoumi, the group's 20-year-old founder, told Reuters.

Sara Al, a group member, urged users in one entry to join a group called "It's not Israel, It's Palestine," saying it was a response to another group set up by Israeli users advocating the opposite message.

"Please join to beat another group called 'It's not Palestine, it's Israel' which has 13,000 members," she wrote.
I say in lieu of war, they have a 60-day Facebook-group-off. The group with the most people gets to be a country!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I just doubled the RAM on my computer. It's 4 years old and it's about time! It's still woefully inadequate for the video editing I'd like to do, but hey, I'm on a budget. One step at a time...

I also finally broke down and bought an external hard drive to backup my computer. That's also 4 years overdue. Jeff's hounding finally sank in though and thanks to Craigslist, I got a great deal!

Friday, March 14, 2008

My sister is awesome!

Check out her creation. How great is that?

I could do it if I really wanted to...

Cuts require sacrifice

To think that you can bridge a $1 billion budget shortfall without making cuts is crazy.

Minnesota educators would like to think we can though.
Top officials, including University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks (BROO'-nihks), are pleading with state lawmakers to make shallower cuts than Governor Tim Pawlenty has proposed.

Pawlenty's plan for closing a nearly $1 billion budget gap slices state aid to public colleges by about $54 million.

Bruininks says the university fully expects to face some aid reductions. But he says it will be tough to absorb a $27 million cut without laying off workers, stifling new investment in research and technology or raising tuition.
We can argue all day where cuts should be made, but when you're talking $1 billion out of something like a $18 billion budget, everyone - including education - has to get cut, and the fact that the cuts in funding for public colleges is such a small percentage of the overall cuts is saying something for the universities.

So how are you going to cut education dollars and not lay off workers, cut back on research investment, etc.? You can't.

Unless, of course, you use an alternative.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities executive Laura King also told a House panel that tuition increases would be a last resort, but could not be ruled out.
If budget cuts are made and spending isn't cut, you've got to raise the money somewhere. Raise taxes, raise tuition, or raise fees. We pay for the services we get...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blatant Reuters bias

My dad emailed me earlier today to say how interesting he thought it was that the media never mentions that fallen NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat, while they couldn't get enough of the fact that Idaho Sen. Larry Craig is a Republican.

I decided to put his theory to the test and went to Reuters (I didn't want to pay for the AP's archives and Reuters' archives are free). I randomly searched for 5 Larry Craig articles related directly to his scandal and 5 Eliot Spitzer articles related directly to his scandal.

Here's what I found.

Larry Craig

Article 1 - "Republican" is the first word
Article 2 - "Republican" in the second sentence
Article 3 - "Republican" is the first word
Article 4 - "Republican" in the second sentence
Article 5 - "Republican" is the first word

Eliot Spitzer

Article 1 - "Democrat" in the 3rd sentence
Article 2 - "Democrat" is not in the story
Article 3 - "Democrat" is not in the story
Article 4 - "Democrat" is in the 8th sentence
Article 5 - "Democrat" is not in the story

Obviously my search is not exhaustive. However, it's also not very far off. I scanned through a number of other articles on Spitzer and couldn't find ONE article with "Democrat" any earlier than the second sentence. However, I don't think I found one article on Larry Craig that failed to mention he's a Republican.

If you have a good argument for why this is okay and that this doesn't help prove media bias, I'm all ears.

MN legislators trying to pinch more out of us

I can't tell you how mad comments like these make me.
People come to Minnesota from all over the region to buy clothing, in large part because the state charges no sales tax on clothes.

But now two state lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle at the Capitol have introduced bills that would repeal that exemption. In exchange for that unpopular move, they would cut the sales tax rate for all taxable items.

"Monies from the sales tax are shrinking," State Representative Ron Erhardt, a Republican from Edina, told KARE 11.

"This would be a way to broaden the base we tax on and reduce the rate as a matter of fact." [I don't care how much you "reduce the rate", if you're adding more items to tax, you're raising taxes!!]

Erhardt's bill would repeal the sales tax exemption clothing currently enjoys, and at the same time reduce the rate on all items from 6.5 percent to 5.96.
Representative Erhardt says he realizes it won't happen soon, but he wants to get the conversation going in the Legislature to bring some fiscal stability.

"I don't know if mine's a good idea," said Erhardt, "But that was the lowest we could come in at and the biggest pot of money readily available. So let's start here and start talking about it. ... [Let's recap: you don't know if you have a good idea but you're still proposing it. Additionally, you see anything that currently isn't being taxed as a big "pot of money readily available"?!? That's pure lunacy!!]

"I certainly don't want to be tagged with raising taxes!" Erhardt laughed, "After this last mess with the transportation bill." [Well, when you raise taxes, you get tagged with raising taxes. That's kind of how it works...]

Erhardt was one of six Republicans who crossed party lines to support the highways bill which increased gas taxes, license tab fees on new cars, and sales taxes in the Metro area.
The more Ron Erhardt talks, the less I like him.

H/T: Nihilist

Spitzer takes a bow

The inevitable happened.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Gov. Eliot Spitzer said Wednesday that he will step down from the state's top office, saying he cannot allow his "private failings to disrupt the public's work."

"I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me," he said in a brief news conference announcing his intention to resign, effective Monday. "I will try once again outside of politics to serve the common good."

He added, "Our greatest glory consists not in never falling but in rising every time we fall."

The announcement came as the New York governor faces allegations -- but no charges -- that he is tied to an international prostitution ring ensnared in a federal probe.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

California court gives home schoolers a beating

This should infuriate you.
Home-schoolers reel from California court blow

Oakland, Calif. - A court ruling that California parents "do not have a constitutional right" to home-school their children has touched off anger and bewilderment throughout America's home-schooling community and prompted a denunciation from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

For a movement that has gained greater accommodation in recent years, a state appellate court decision last month is a setback that, if not overturned on appeal, could force some 166,000 home-schooled students in California to enroll in conventional schools. It may also prod California and other states with vague or nonexistent laws on home schooling to be more specific about what is allowed and what is required of home-schoolers.

California's education statutes, for instance, do not mention "home schooling," but officials have allowed the practice for decades. The appellate court, however, found that the state's laws have not been changed to allow home schooling since a case back in 1953 erected a major roadblock to the practice.

Governor Schwarzenegger said Friday he would go to the legislature if the ruling is not overturned.

"I could see this [ruling] being a real strong impetus for home-schoolers in California to get the legislature to change their laws.... Or I could see it being perhaps the beginning of other states wanting to look more closely both at their laws and current enforcement," says Kimberly Yuracko, a professor at Northwestern University's Law School in Chicago.

The number of students nationwide who are home-schooled is not known because 10 states are so hands-off they require no reporting at all, nor do parents always comply with reporting requirements. Estimates range from 1.1 million to 2.5 million home-schooled students, and the numbers are rising.

About half the states require more than simple notification from parents or guardians, such as testing, curriculum approval, or home visits. But such rules are dwindling – either explicitly or by lax enforcement, say experts. Home-school advocates worry the California case could bring more regulation or enforcement, or both.

"The overwhelming trend [among states] has been, home schooling works, OK, we'll release the reins a little bit," says Darren Jones, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). "California is a bellwether. Other states might look at this [case] and say this is something we might want to consider."

The case grew out of a home-schooled child's complaint of physical and emotional mistreatment by a parent. A lower court refused to remove the child to a school outside the home, arguing that parents had a right to home-school. The three appellate judges rejected this reasoning unanimously.

California law stipulates two main exemptions to compulsory public school: enrollment in a full-time private school or instruction from a credentialed tutor. Some home-schoolers enroll their children in independent study programs at private or public charter schools that allow students to work mostly from home. Officials have also allowed parents to declare their home a private school, a process requiring once-a-year filing of a short form.

In this case, the parents had enrolled their children in a private school under an arrangement that kept the kids at home except to take year-end tests. School officials said they visited the home about four times a year.

Writing for the appellate court, Justice H. Walter Croskey derided this arrangement as a "ruse" and also rejected the notion of home private schools by citing a 1953 California case.

"That case is older than dirt," says J. Michael Smith, head of the HSLDA. Subsequent California laws have tacitly acknowledged home private schools, as do 11 other states – three of which have fended off legal challenges on the issue, he says.

The bottom line for him is that California has no laws specifically mentioning home schooling and has in practice treated it as a form of private schooling.

"If you are not prohibited from doing something and you can fit it within a statute, that makes you a legal operator. We've operated this way for 20 some odd years," says Mr. Smith.

Many lawmakers – and home-schooling advocates – would prefer to keep home schooling out of the education code.

"If this goes to the [state] supreme court and it upholds it, this opens up this big Pandora's box. The state is going to have to define family rights, and to define to what extent [lawmakers] have to regulate," says Luis Huerta, a professor at the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Columbia University in New York.

The prospect of Sacramento sorting out family rights won't warm many homeschoolers' hearts.

"Many of those people believe – usually based on a philosophical worldview, and often Christian – that the state has no authority over their children's education and upbringing," says Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, a nonprofit group in Oregon.

Already, California home-schoolers are suggesting resistance would be widespread to any sort of enforcement by local school districts.

"We'd have to open Alcatraz [state prision] to hold all of us," says Loren Mavromati, a homeschooler and spokesperson for the California Homeschool Network. "Even if we all rolled over and complied and enrolled in public schools – how? They are laying off teachers during this budget crisis left and right."

As the movement has grown, its autonomy has become worrisome to some. Concerns center mostly on the need for state accountability in ensuring that children are educated to a certain standard. But, as in the California case, the potential for child abuse is also becoming an issue.

In a January report on a mother's murder of her four children in the District of Columbia, The New York Times framed the case around the isolation of homeschooled kids and the limited opportunity for checking on their well-being. Cases in New Jersey and North Carolina have produced similar coverage.

"If I were a state legislator, I would be worried about having legislation overseeing home schooling that is not being enforced at all, and the potential for bad child-abuse cases happening and the state being sued for, in part, not taking care of its obligations," says Ms. Yuracko.

Lawmakers in California and elsewhere are already tightening oversight of charter school arrangements with home-schoolers. In some states, charters have sprung up to service only home-schoolers, offering parents a free computer, DSL hookup, or textbooks. The schools can then collect public per-pupil funding while paying little for instruction or oversight.

California has enacted reforms to limit the per-pupil funding to up to 60 percent for some nonclassroom-based setups. The reforms have stopped the profiteering, says a spokesman for the California Charter Schools Association.

Not everyone agrees. "Even at 60 percent, it's still a cash cow for districts. You literally get a warehouse, put five or 10 teachers in there, and enroll 1,000 students. Do the math," says Dr. Huerta.
My dad sent this story to me a few days ago and I neglected to post it then. I came across it again today and had to share it.

I home schooled and may do the same with my kids. If I do and my state decides to play hardball, I'm willing to move to another state. This is about a LOT more than where our kids go to school. It's about the government's role in our families' lives.

California judges are overstepping their bounds. Let's just hope the state legislature goes to bat to defend parents' rights.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Unleashing guns in national parks?

Having worked in a national park for a summer in college, this story particularly interests me.
Gun advocates pushing for review of ban in national parks

A 25-year-old ban on loaded firearms in national parks, including Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, is in the crosshairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior and 51 senators, including Minnesota's Norm Coleman.

Senators have written two letters to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne asking for the ban to be shot down "in the interest of Second Amendment rights and consistency in firearms policy across federal public land management agencies." Kempthorne has instructed his staff to develop new rules and propose them for public comment by April 30.
Coleman, through a spokesman, said the present rule needs updating. "Sen. Coleman believes the current system governing firearms in national parks is confusing and outdated because it does not reflect the vast changes in state gun laws enacted over the past 25 years," said Luke Friedrich, the Republican's Minnesota press secretary. "The federal government should be consistent with the laws of the states in which these parks reside and it should also respect 2nd Amendment rights."

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., did not sign the letters to the Interior Department.
I remember thinking when I lived in the park how ridiculous it was that no one living in the park was able to own a firearm. There are thousands of people who permanently reside on federal property and have to abide by this law. I see no justified reason for it, especially considering the danger presented in a few parks by some of the wildlife. Wildlife interactions are fairly uncommon, but still, pepper spray just doesn't always cut it.

I also couldn't disagree more with this statement.
Not everyone thinks this change is on target, including the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. "Terrible idea," retired park superintendent Doug Morris said in a conference call. The no-loaded-guns rule, which dates to 1982, protects wildlife, he said, adding that relaxing the restriction would jeopardize the safety of park employees and visitors.
Take my one summer against Morris' numerous years for what they are, but I see no reason that anyone's safety would be any more jeopardized due to this than not. Of course, that all changes if you believe that banning guns actually reduces crime...

Chuck Norris is a WMD

This is great.
Chuck Norris the only WMD in Iraq, say U.S. troops

FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - Hollywood action star Chuck Norris, known for his martial arts prowess and tough-guy image, has become a cult figure among the U.S. military in Iraq and an unlikely hero for some in Iraq's security forces.

A small cardboard shrine is dedicated to Norris at a U.S. military helicopter hub in Baghdad, and comments lauding the manliness and virility of the actor have been left on toilet walls across Iraq and even in neighboring Kuwait, soldiers say.

"The fastest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris's fist," reads one message at the shrine, which consists of a signed photo of the actor surrounded by similar statements.

"Chuck Norris puts the laughter in manslaughter," reads one and "Chuck Norris divides by zero," reads another.

Known as Chuck Norris "facts," the claims have already become an Internet phenomenon, and scores are featured on, including "Superman wears Chuck Norris pyjamas," and "There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Chuck Norris lives in Oklahoma."

The actor has visited Iraq several times and was made an honorary Marine last year. Some 20 U.S. military personnel and support staff spoken to by Reuters could recite at least one Norris "fact," despite many having not visited the Web site.

U.S. troops in Iraq say his support for them and Norris' invincible image has made him their idol and insist the exaggerated and satirical claims are not meant to mock him.

"The jokes all add to his legend. They're not derogatory. He's an icon," said Sergeant Joe Lindsay at a base in Falluja in Iraq's Western Anbar province, which Norris has visited.


Bearded and muscled, Norris shot to fame fighting kung fu legend Bruce Lee in the 1972 film The Way of the Dragon, and later films show him devastating groups of men with one kick.

"Norris visited Iraq when violence was its worst and other celebrities were skittish. He's one of the guys," U.S. military public affairs officer Specialist Mark Braden said in Baghdad.

"The Marines love him. He's like a mythical legend," Staff Sergeant Amy Forsythe in Falluja said.

Soldiers cited many reasons for his appeal. Some appreciated his films and fighting ability -- Norris is a martial arts guru, and many of his films have military themes.

Others said the masculine and plainly dressed actor was an antidote to the preening and moisturized metrosexual male.

Some praised his Christian and political values. The actor recently endorsed Republican Party presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, though in the spirit of the Norris "facts," Marines argued it was Huckabee who endorsed Norris.

"He's helped us a lot. The appeal is also his martial arts, and sheer physical presence ... I don't think I go a day without hearing a Norris joke," said Corporal Ricardo Jones in Falluja.

Norris' appeal is not restricted to U.S. troops either. At an Iraqi police graduation ceremony in Falluja, graduates called out for their "Chuck Norris" to pose with them for photos.

"Truthfully, I didn't know who he was. I asked the Americans, and they said he was a great fighter, and that's why they named me after him. They showed me a video, and it's true, he's a great fighter" said police trainer Mohammed Rasheed.

With his handle-bar moustache, Rasheed has a vague resemblance to Norris.

Another police trainer said Chuck Norris was a role model for the police in Falluja, which until 2007 was an al Qaeda stronghold and the scene of fierce battles with security forces.

"I've seen his videos, he's a hero. He saves the city, he protects women and children and he fights crime wherever it is. We should all be like Chuck Norris," Khaled Hussein said.

Spitzer's not so clean

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was a media darling who made a name for himself bringing down big, mean corporations as the attorney general.

Apparently, he was a darling for more than just the media.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer scheduled an abrupt announcement Monday from his office as news reports were breaking that the governor told staffers he was involved in a prostitution ring.

Spitzer, who was especially tough on corporate crime as New York attorney general, told his staff Monday that he was involved in the ring, according to The New York Times' Web site, citing an anonymous administration official. No further details regarding his involvement were immediately available.

Just last week, four arrests were made in connection to a high-profile prostitution ring involving big-dollar clients.

The Times reports that a source with knowledge of the governor’s role believes the governor is one of the men identified as clients in court papers in the prostitution ring.
I'm anxious to see where the media takes this one...

(CNN) -- Gov. Eliot Spitzer said he "acted in way that violates his obligation to his family," speaking hours after the New York Times reported he told senior administration officials he had been involved in a prostitution ring.

"I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public, to whom I promised better," he said.

He did not elaborate on the paper's claims and did not take any questions after making his statement.

"I am disappointed that I failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself," he said

The paper's Web site cited an anonymous administration official and said the New York governor met with his top aides before making his statement.

"To say this is a shock is an understatement," said CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who went to law school with Spitzer.

Spitzer served as New York's attorney general for eight years before being elected governor.

Time magazine named him "Crusader of the Year" during his two terms as New York attorney general.

Tabloids labeled him "Eliot Ness," after the hero in the crime drama "The Untouchables," because of his reputation for rooting out corruption, busting white-collar criminals and tackling organized crime.

He was also known for prosecuting several prostitution rings.

He also worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and worked for three New York law firms after receiving his law degree from Harvard.

The first-term Democrat had been considered a rising star among his party.

Spitzer is married and has three daughters.

Facing likely charges, Fox News reports that he's going to resign. (Hat tip: Power Line)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Criminal on one side, fire on the other

I talked earlier this week about our little meeting with a bounty hunter who's after a criminal who's apparently living next door to us.

I left for work yesterday morning and saw a car outside of the townhome on the other side of us that had something about the fire dept. written on the side of it. When I got back from work, there was a business card for the fire marshal with instructions to call him "about the fire next door". Throughout the evening we saw people going in and out of the place with ashes on them. Later in the evening there was a garment restoration van that stopped by.

I'll take a petty criminal over a fire!

Later yesterday evening, the bounty hunter stopped by again. He let us run copies off of the mug shot and some other information on the criminal they're after. He's wanted for giving false information. Not that bad, right? Right. (Never mind why he gave false information in the first place...I'd probably rather not know.) And the criminal doesn't really live next door. His mom does and he stays with her sometimes.

The bounty hunter is a nice enough guy. He told us about how he got into what he's doing and how much he doesn't like Dawg from that A&E series. He gave us his card in case we happen to see our neighbor's son around.

Happy one week of home ownership!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Word to Abeler: this is NOT a test!

Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), who voted to override Governor Pawlenty's veto last week of the transportation bill that jacks up Minnesota taxes and fees, made an asinine statement to MPR.
"One wrong on a test is not an F, if it was even wrong," he said. "And I did well in school, but 95 was an A when I went to school and I've certainly done that well by my people. I hope they recognize that. I hope they see that," he said.
Where do you get off thinking that voting to raise our taxes is okay because, hey, it's just one wrong question on a test!?

Tell all of us who will be paying higher taxes for our gas, higher sales taxes, and additional fees to register our vehicles, among other increases. Those are a lot of real dollars out of our pockets.

No, this is NOT like getting a 95 on a test. It's like giving the wrong answer on a test question that's worth 95% of your grade.

I've been pretty calm since getting out of politics a year and a half ago. But this latest round of insanity has oddly re-energized me.

Name your kid after Brett Favre. Or both of them.

This doesn't strike me as being a good decision.
Twins go by 'Brett' and 'Favre'

It may be the end of the Brett Favre era in Titletown, but for Brett and Favre Kinsaul of Palatka, Fla., life has just begun.

The twins' parents, David and Emily Kinsaul, agreed when they married that they would name any sons after the legendary Packers' quarterback.

But they didn't know they'd have twin boys the first time around. Or that Favre would retire days after their birth.

"I was hoping we'd have at least one year of him still playing," David said. The twins were born Feb. 22. The Packers confirmed Favre's retirement Tuesday.

"The last couple years it's come up year after year, but this year everyone seemed to think he'd come back."

Not that his retirement would have changed the Kinsauls' plans to name any boys after his hero.

"Oh no, they'd still be named after him," he said.

David Kinsaul is a relatively new member of the Favre fan club.

He grew up in Florida and moved to Madison in about 2000. He lived in Wisconsin for about three and a half years, and during that time didn't consider himself much of a Packers fan. But when he moved to Houston, and then back to Florida in 2005, he discovered he had some green and gold in his blood after all.

"I missed it terribly," he said. "There's a whole culture up there, watching the games and being interested in the Packers. I just really missed it.

"And I loved watching Brett play. You could just really tell he loved the game, and he was fun to watch."

Kinsaul and his wife subscribed to satellite TV so they could watch Packers games, and he started reading about the history of the Packers and Lambeau Field. When he and his wife discussed marriage, they agreed on the names Brett and Favre for boys. His wife isn't a super fan, but adopted the Packers because of him, David Kinsaul said.

So when they found out they were expecting twins, the names were set. Brett Aaron was born at 7:55 a.m.; Favre Moses made his entrance at 7:56 a.m.

The names weren't revealed to friends and family until the boys were born, David Kinsaul said.

"They were a little surprised," he said. "They really liked the name Brett. They weren't so sure about Favre.

"They didn't have a problem with Favre personally, they just weren't sure about that for a name. But now it's grown on him."

Kinsaul made sure Favre's name is correctly spelled on the birth certificate and insurance papers. He hopes someday his sons might be football players like Favre.

Kinsaul never made it to Lambeau Field during his time in Wisconsin, but intends to bring the boys for a visit to the Packers' holy ground when they're older. And he plans to tell them plenty about their namesake.

"Brett is just so excellent at what he does, and yet he's extremely human," David Kinsaul said. "He's had so many things he's gone through personally and he's still gone so far."
What really boggles me even more is they obviously want to call Favre by his first name. If they didn't, they would have given him a middle name of Aaron, but instead they give Brett a normal first AND middle name and they name the other kid Favre Moses. The kid can't even use his middle name if he wanted to! Who do you think got the shaft?

I love the Packers and I love Brett Favre, but if I were Brett Favre I'd be groaning right now.

Hat tip: my wife

Use a shovel next time

Really. It's not that hard.
Using torch to clear snow, he sets shed on fire

By Mike Hoeft

LEDGEVIEW -- A man using a torch to clear snow in front of a garage door accidentally set fire to a shed on Sunday afternoon, causing $20,000 in damage.

The fire occurred at 2:26 p.m. Sunday at 1751 S. Broadway. No one was injured. Several people were standing outside.

Flames were coming from the structure when firefighters arrived.

A 23-year-old man who rented the property for fixing vehicles was using the torch when the garage door caught fire. He was unable to put it out. Two vehicles inside were damaged.
Hat Tip: my wife!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

No Republican love for Norm Coleman

According to a disgruntled Hutchinson resident, the people over in the McLeod County Republican Party aren't happy with Norm.
From Gary A. Glaser

I just attended the McLeod County Republican Convention in Silver Lake, and I regret to report that a “dark cloud” seems to be descending over the McLeod Republicans. The first thing I heard about at the convention was a vendetta by some of their leaders and followers against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman. These people seemed to be looking for ways to not endorse Coleman.
I'm sparing you the rest of his letter to the editor because it's not worth reading. The guy has bad grammar, rambles, and has trouble stringing together a coherent argument. I have no way of knowing if he's even a Republican or just went so he could write a letter ripping on them.

Regardless, if his point about their lack of support for Coleman is true, I wonder how this will affect him in November. Coleman is more liberal than McCain is and if people think McCain will have problems with conservatives, how much more is Coleman going to have problems?

Personally, I think Coleman will win, but he's got his work cut out for him. I don't see a lot of blogospheric love for the guy.

No equity in America

This is crazy.
Home equity slips below 50%

NEW YORK (AP) -- Americans' percentage of equity in their homes has fallen below 50 percent for the first time on record since 1945, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.

Homeowners' percentage of equity slipped to a revised lower 49.6% in the second quarter of 2007, the central bank reported in its quarterly U.S. Flow of Funds Accounts, and declined further to 47.9% in the fourth quarter - the third straight quarter it was under 50%. That marks the first time homeowners' debt on their houses exceeds their equity since the Fed started tracking the data in 1945.
Ouch. That's a scary reality.

In fairness, I have no equity in my home. In my defense, I closed on it less than a week ago. I hope to have a different outlook 10 years from now.

If this continues, we're in for a real economic treat...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Minnesota ranking low

Minnesota Monitor has a breakdown of the latest Congressional Power Rankings, showing where legislators rank in power in Congress, Senate, and overall state delegation.

Minnesota is 38th out of 55 (Guam, D.C., the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico are included).

Minnesotans seem to think that's low, and I suppose it is. However, if I'm not mistaken, the federal government has gone to bat for us with I-35W bridge funding and light rail transit funding, just to name a few big-dollar projects.

Maybe it's not a problem of us not getting our fair piece of the federal pie, as some would argue, but a case of us taking our fair share instead of porking federal dollars we don't have to spend into our state.

Great political ad

This ad comes from Scott Walker, the conservative Republican Milwaukee County Executive and former gubernatorial candidate running for reelection.

I got to meet him numerous times on the campaign trail in 2006. He's a great guy and I hope the cheeseheads elect him to statewide office at some point in the near future.

H/T: Boots & Sabers

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Huckabee out, McCain wins, Clinton wins, Obama rambling

The fastest political roundup you'll read.

Huckabee has bowed out and did so with class.

McCain has won and we just hope he doesn't die before November.

Clinton has won Ohio and likely Texas, having run a brilliant campaign over the last week.

Obama is currently speaking about kids reading instead of playing video games (not sure what that has to do with government or the presidency) and a lot of other things that make absolutely no coherent sense.

I'm going to bed.

The sun sets on Favre's career

I may have been born in and now live in Minnesota, but I grew up in Wisconsin and will always be a Packer fan (despite my wife's purple inclinations). As such, this news is easily the top story of the day week.
Brett Favre to retire from Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Brett Favre era is over.

The man who has been the Green Bay Packers' starting quarterback for all but three games of the last 16 seasons, the only quarterback an entire generation of Packers fans has known is retiring.

The Packers officially announced Favre's retirement Tuesday morning.

"Brett Favre has informed us of his intention to retire from the Green Bay Packers and the NFL," general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. "He has had one of the greatest careers in the history of the National Football League, and he is able to walk away from the game on his own terms — not many players are able to do that.

"The Packers owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. He has given Packers fans 16 years of wonderful memories, a Super Bowl championship among them, that will live on forever. Brett's many accomplishments on the field are legendary. He leaves the game holding virtually every career passing record, plus his consecutive starts streak, which may never be duplicated.

"The uniqueness of Brett Favre — his personality, charisma and love of the game — undoubtedly will leave him as one of the enduring figures in NFL history."

Favre's brother, Scott, was the first to release the news, telling the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald that Favre planned to retire.'s Chris Mortensen said on ESPN Tuesday morning that Favre had left a voice-mail message for him, confirming his retirement. "It sounded absolute," Mortensen told viewers.

Mortensen said Favre, 38, told him his decision to retire was based on the "mental wear and tear" of another NFL season, and that he couldn't commit to it again. He said Favre was "mentally worn down" from the intense game preparation demanded during the course of an NFL season.

According to Mortensen, Favre also said he and his wife, Deanna, agreed that "anything short of winning a Super Bowl would be a disappointment" and not worth the time.

Favre said his relationship with Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson is good, and played no role in his retirement decision, Mortensen reported.

"It's more about the mental wear and tear," Mortensen said.

Fans were sorry to hear the news, but happy to have had Favre for as long as they did.

"Brett Favre doesn't owe us anything," said Lee Nelson of Seymour, Wis., a season-ticket holder since 1965. "Last season, he went out on a high note. It's a shame his last pass was an interception."

The Packers acquired Favre in a trade with Atlanta on Feb. 10, 1992, sending a first-round pick to the Falcons for the little-used rookie from Southern Mississippi.

Favre emerged as the Packers' quarterback after Don Majkowski went down with an ankle injury in the third game of the 1992 season, stepping in and rallying Green Bay to a 24-23 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on a sunny Sept. 20 at Lambeau Field.

Favre started the next game — a 17-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field on Sept. 27, 1992. No one else has started at quarterback for the Packers since. He has started 255 consecutive games, an NFL record for quarterbacks.

He also helped end Green Bay's 29-year championship drought, leading the Packers to a 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI on Jan. 26, 1997.

Favre ends his 17-year career as the NFL's career leader in several passing categories, including 61,655 passing yards, 8,758 passing attempts, 5,377 completions, 442 touchdown passes and 160 victories.
We'll miss him on the field.

Good luck Aaron Rodgers, you've got big shoes to fill!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Welcome to the neighborhood! Now, what can you tell us about your neighbors?

My wife and I bought our first home and made the 9-mile move this weekend. The move went smoother than either of us could have imagined and within three hours we had loaded the moving truck from the apartment, driven to the new place, and unloaded the truck.

Macy's Furniture was delivering a couch we'd purchased two weeks ago in the evening and they called at 5:30 to say they'd be there in 10 minutes. 5 minutes later, Jamie's dad, who was rebuilding a closet for us, came in from the garage. The next 10 minutes played out something like this.
Dad: Joey, the cops are here for you!
Me: Is he joking? It has to be the furniture guys...
Dad: I'm serious!
I walk down to the entryway and a plainclothes officer (maybe bounty hunter? no...we'll go with officer!) with a badge around his neck and a lanyard sticking out of his pocket that says "Special Agent" walks in.
Officer: We're not here for you! What do you know about your neighbors?
Me: We just moved in here today.
Officer: Do you know the family next door?
Me: I saw them out with their dog earlier today.
Officer: Is it a colored family?
Me: Yes, they are. I didn't know the term "colored" was still used to describe black people...
Officer: Pulls out a folder and out of the folder presents a 8 1/2 X 11 mug shot. Can you ID him? Is this the guy you saw?
Me: Yes, that's him.
Officer: Over the radio: We've got a positive ID. Turns to me: How sure are you that this is the guy?
Me: 90% sure. I mean, I only saw him once, so take it for what it's worth, but I'm sure that's him.
The officer proceeded to ask a number of questions about when I'd last seen him and where the exits on the house were. Then he asked if I'd be willing to knock on the guy's door to try to get him to come out. Jamie and I agreed and started to head over. He started giving us instructions on what to do if the guy answered the door ("Just ask, 'Is ______ here?', then step to the left and we'll come in from the right and take it from there"). Thankfully, Jamie's dad was on the same page as I was and stepped in to say that since we'd have to be their neighbors and live next to them, maybe it was better if he knock on the door. Boy do I love my father-in-law! I don't mind helping an officer out, but I'd also prefer not to deal with harassment from my next-door neighbor.

As this was happening, the furniture truck pulled up and we had to address that as well. I never did hear what happened, though I do know the guy didn't answer the door and as far as I know he wasn't apprehended. I was simply assured, "He's not a violent, dangerous criminal, but he does need to serve jail time." Well great, thanks for the assurance and peace of mind! I emailed our police department today for more information, just to be safe.

Once the police had left, Jamie's dad summed it up well. With a pat on Jamie's back he declared,

"Nice neighbors!"

UPDATE 3/3 3:24 PM

I emailed the BPD about the incident today and got a call back from a sergeant. He left a voicemail for me and I left a voicemail for him. We'll see if anything comes of it.

UPDATE 3/3 3:33 PM

BPD called back. Nobody from their dept. was over here and they haven't had problems at either our address or our neighbor's address in years. He thinks our neighbor is probably someone living with a friend or relative and the guys who showed up were probably bounty hunters. I guess that's a good thing?