Hey batter, batter!!!

Hit the local ballpark for some fun the other night. This was a worktrip, which is just about the only way I can justify going, what with being a lifelong Cubs fan and all. Of course, Miller Park can't hold a candle to Wrigley, but not many can and almost none try. The best thing about Wrigley is probably its history and age... which is the exact opposite for Miller Park.

This park feels brand-spankin new and has many features that you don't get in the old, comfy ballparks. Tailgating (including bbq-ing), TONS of food and drink choices with locations all around the park (did someone say "churro"?), super views from almost anywhere (see the pics?), fancy LED signage (oooh), cool "club level" and box seating (if you can afford it), etc.

But I suppose a baseball mitt makes a good analogy for baseball parks. Sure, you can look cool with your new mitt and break it in over the years, catching balls all along... but there's nothing like that totally broken-in, molded-to-your-hand feel of the mitt you've been using since you were a kid.

Who's planning a Wrigley trip with me?


For the birds.

In my never-ending quest to find highlights in MKE for myself and everyone, I have stumbled upon the Schlitz Audubon Nature Preserve. This is only about 10 miles from my apartment, with a very scenic drive (or ride) between.

As the name implies, this is supported by the Schlitz family and, as one would expect from "beer money", the place is very well done. Great facilities, 6 miles of hiking/walking trails, and wonderful way to be "in nature" right in the 'burbs. It's also right on the lakefront... could be a great way to explore for the day... after gearing up at Cabella's!


Results, Poll #18, CC Debt.

[remember these old things?]

I went onto Google to find a bit of background info for this post. I wanted to find out what an American's average credit debt amount usually is - this took a little bit of time, finding very easily that it's said to be about $8-9k. However, this figure is tossed out only by dividing America's total credit debt amount by the number of American's holding credit cards... not really the best average, or representative of normal folks. Googling a little deeper (that's what she said), I found these statistics, which came from much better reasoning (imo) -

  • Only 29% of households owe $1,000 or more on their cards.
  • 21% owe $2,000 or more.
  • 6% owe $8,000 or more.
  • 4% owe $10,500 or more.
  • 1% owe $21,400 or more.
About 55% of all households pay off their CCs monthly and do not carry a balance. Of those remaining people (~45%) that do not pay off their card(s), the median balance is roughly $1,900. This seems a lot better/believable than $8-9k.

And here's the results from my poll:

> 1 person (7%) chose "$1-999" - stay low, pay it off!
> 0 people chose "$1000-2499"
> 2 people (14%) chose "$2500-4999" - uh-oh, leave 'em at home!
> 1 person (7%) chose "$5000-7499" - put 'em in the freezer!!

> 0 people chose "$7500-9999"
> 1 person (7%) chose "$10,000+" - cut them all up!!!
> 9 people (64%) chose "None" - show offs.

All in all, t.c readers are ahead of the curve that America's drawing with spending habits. This is good news. And to all of you with no CC debt, I hate you (ok, not really).


Grab a latte with me, won't you?

Most of you don't have a sense of what my 'hood is like here in MKE. Well, if you wanted to grab a latte and take a walk, you could see everything below, on FOOT, within about 25 minutes from my place (one way, not round trip). Most of it is under 10-15 minutes from me. It reminds me a lot of Evanston, but also parts of CHI. You're also never too far from food (three spots on the lakeside) or beer. Beer is everywhere in the city... more than I see in most US spots and rivaling some European cities.

Tennis anyone? This is also a sled hill in the winter. I've not used it much for that though, parents give me funny looks.

This is (IMHO) the flagship Alterra Coffee Roasters location on MKE. MKEians flock to this spot (across from the marina) for coffee, chatting, sunning, etc.

This is a wonderful semi-public garden, coming down just about to the lakefront. I'm told one could rent it our for an event, like a wedding reception, but bring the $bling$.

Now they know how the birds feel.

One of the best spots (IMHO) on the lakefront. It's been given an unofficial name for the summer of "Bradford Beach House". It looks like Miller Lite has puked posters on it... but you can get food, beer, and watch the amateur volleyball players get sand in their shorts. Only about 10 minutes from my place, on foot.

Just a little garden nook on the lakefront. I'd never noticed it until this shot. If I hadn't been on foot, I'd have never seen it. Very "grotto-esque", in my eyes.

This believe this is part of a fancy french bistro style restaurant up on the hill. Great look, but lots of steps to the top.

See, lots of steps, but worth the view.

Just across Lake Memorial Drive from the beaches too.

See, all the sand you could want... even in winter.

And we come full circle back to the Alterra. After that, I deserve a latte... or low-calorie vitamin water.



I know most of you read t.c to find the best spots in MKE for dining, drinking, and donuts. So, with that in mind, I made my way to one of the youngest crowds in town at the BuckHead Saloon. For those of you not familiar with it already, it's pretty much a cross b/w the worst college bar you can think of and Cabella's (love plugging that series). It combines the cheap drinks, cheap outfits, and cheap personalities very well.

But you're thinking, "Gosh, mk, why were you there?" Moral support. It was a friend's friends' brother's graduation night, so I went along. I suspect I wasn't the only one standing in line outside the bar that was caught unawares as to what lurked inside (I know for a fact the guy's parent's didn't know what they were getting into), but we were in the minority.

The rest of the crowd loves it there, and I can't blame them. I mean, we've all been there... sitting in Kam's at the end of the night... or wondering how we got into the cab after drinking all day at Kinkade's... or wondering why 6 beers at Comet made you unable to ascend stairs and puke before being able to lie down (guessing the average 7% alcohol content of all the beers there)... or not understanding for days how we got mustard on our jeans, until we remember eating a burger at about 3 in the AM at Beaumont's. This is life.

While the night was sure eventful, including the young man dancing with a bar stool. Yes. Not on, or next to, but WITH the barstool, like a someone would dance with Julieanne Hough. But it wound up being way too long of a night, like these places often are. Luckily, Pizza Shuttle came through like aces with some basically leftover pizza, which by the time we got there, was well into Sunday morning.

Having read all that, I'm sure some of you are still thinking "mk, you're making this up!"... thank God I can prove you wrong with pictures. Enjoy.

Ahhh, come in by the fireplace and warm up at Cabella's - WAIT, Buckhead.

Enjoy a tasty Miller product next to the puma rug/wall covering.

Or a Leine's by the stag head.

Or by one of MANY hot-girl-hunters-in-bikini photos... I'm dead (bang bang) serious.

Just don't don't get tangled with your friend and fall down on the way out. Ouch.
You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.


Positive Thinking.

"Nothing is good or bad, that thinking made it so."
- Hamlet, Will Shakespeare

[snagged from a blog post I liked here]


Farah Fawcett.

No, this post is not about her, just poorly named. I wanted to ask the thousands of t.c readers for some help, at the risk of authoring my dumbest post ever - does anyone know how to use these faucets?

Yeah, it's the kind that has a hot and a cold "push-button". Sure, it's usually used in public restrooms and prevents people from leaving the water running (I don't know how many times I've done that at friend's places (?)). But, to me, this is like the sound of one hand clapping... or figuring out how to make one hand clap.

Isn't the washing of hands supposed to be a two-handed, thorough operation? Not one that you can skimp on and have a valid reason for poor results. "Yeah, that's e-coli, but I had one of those "push-button" faucets [shrug]". You can wet one hand at a time, then get some soap and make some suds, kind of, but then rinsing both hands at the same time is basically impossible with the millisecond of water that comes from each push. Maybe if you possess some kind of contortionist gene in your family, you're fine with these?

t.c readers, I implore you - if anyone has some quick tips for this kind of faucet, please share.
Maybe this is now just the greenest, vintage faucet anyone's ever seen.

Results, Poll #17, Global Warming.

So, with the weather finally (knock on wood) turning warmer-ish, I thought I'd see how many of us think it's now a different climate than it was just a few years ago, or even since we were kids. I'm not sure the results are what I was expecting, but I chalk some of that up to the poll's language... maybe it was a little hard to understand the differences. Consequently, the responses were a little all over the place:

4 people (36%) chose "Yes, I'd say it's clear"

3 people (27%) chose "Yea, maybe a little"

2 people (18%) chose "No, I think it's more than "influenced and has been going on much longer"

2 people (18%) chose "No, I don't buy it at all"

11 total respondents sort of shot-gunned all over the choices. I'm not sure what we can say about the climate from the results, but the majority do think the greenhouse effect probably has some merit. Hard to argue with science... unless you're a climatologist... or just like to argue.


1 World, 2 Wheels.

If you've been too busy getting bombarded by ads for the new Indiana Jones movie, May is National Bike Month. In honor of that, I thought I'd throw some interesting info your way about the benefits of local cycling. It won't take long to read and you just might be moved to action (after you swallow the vurp that comes up from reading some of it).

Why Bike? For your health, for the world, for our future, for 2 miles or less. With the world facing skyrocketing obesity rates, escalating traffic congestion and the concerns of global climate change, the bicycle is an underutilized solution.

For your health
> The average person loses 13 lbs. their first year of commuting by bike.
> Just 3 hours of bicycling per week can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%.
> A 140-pound cyclist burns 508 calories while pedaling 14 miles in an hour.

For the world
> The U.S. could save 462 million gallons of gasoline a year by increasing cycling from 1% to 1.5% of all trips.
> Each U.S. rush-hour auto commuter spends an average of 50 hours a year stuck in traffic.
> In 2003, cars idling in traffic wasted 5 billion gallons of fuel.

For our future
> In 1964 50% of kids rode to school and the obesity rate was 12%…in 2004, 3% rode to school and the obesity rate was 45%.
> Between 1960 and today the average weight of a 6-11 year old has increased 11 pounds.

For 2 miles or less
> 60% of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation, before pollution control devices can work effectively.
> 24% of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40% of all trips are made within two miles of the home, and 50% of the working population commutes five miles or less to work.

If you'd like to read more or get the fancy version, all of this info was found at http://www.1world2wheels.org. This initiative and organization was started by the Trek Corp.

Business +

Yesterday was a unique and satisfying day in the life of a bike industry employee. A coworker and I drove through the WI farmland to Trek Bicycle Corporation.

Now, unless you've been mezmerized by American Idol for its entire run, you've probabaly heard of Trek or maybe a guy named Lance Armstrong or wore a yellow bracelet for a year or so? Lance won all of his Tour de France races aboard Trek bicycles. This publicity and legitimacy pushed the Trek brand even further along in the minds of consumers.

A dreary start to the day gave us some concern as we made our way further into Cheeseland, but about 5 miles from the office, the sun came out, finally. And as we stepped out of the car, we were pleased to see the temps had risen, the winds got light, and all was right for mountain biking. Why? Well...

... we did our business with good results, but also were able to ride on Trek's private off-road trails. These are leased from a local farmer and only for Trek employees and their guests. The trails were built in conjunction with the International Mountain Bike Association and lots of hard labor. They are smooth, flowing, and downright fun. Of course, they have some MTB "stunts" sprinkled in as well, but I have my hands full just by being off road. All this is part of the good stuff that has come from almost a decade of winning the tour (Trek won last year with a Spanish cyclist as well).

It's a great day when people in the bike business can get some work done and go on a lunch ride.


Results, Poll #16, Golden Shower.

For much of this week, the results were 100% "Yes" and only within the last 2-3 days of voting time did two votes sneak in for "No". This is also a pretty popular poll, I guess, with 17 people voting. The impetus for this poll goes back to a bunch of conversations with friends about doing this very thing. Many of these friends I've been roommates with, so we had a vested interest in how the question was answered.

15 people (88%) chose "Yes" - so I'm not the only one... though everyone should watch the Seinfeld episode about gym locker room shower peeing.
2 people (11%) chose "No" - shower saints... kidney martyrs... bladder gods. I salute you.

I'd say it is now clear and almost unanimous that people pee in the shower... maybe not everyday, but at least once in their life. Ahhhhhhh, relief.

Bridges, we don't need no stinking bridges!

This is one of the most unique features for bike riders that I've ever come across, in any city. And it happens to be right here in MKE. This bridge spans the Milwaukee River near the Water Street/Downtown area. On one end is a condo/nightlife neighborhood, near Brocach, with a sweet session spot for skateboarders and on the other end is the entrance to Lakefront Brewery (great weekly combo fish fry and brewery tour) and more condos, with a good connected path.

What's unique is that his bridge had been hung directly under the bridge used by automobiles. The bridge for the cars isn't too bad to cross, but the one below for bikes and pedestrians is much nicer... and, I suspect, a lot less lethal.

These kinds of features in any city make cycling more accessible and fun.


License plates, Revisited.

I've been getting hundreds of comments and emails to "please do another license plate post", so after scouring MKE for more examples, I think I finally nailed down the right ones to post. In this edition, I have two - one I consider good and one I consider (very very) bad.

Let's start off on a high note, the good one:

Interesting? Possibly. Just what does "QUO VADI" mean? I thought you might ask, so I looked it up already. The plate means "where are you going?" in Latin, not too bad for a plate. I also found more than I bargained for when I googled the phrase, just to be sure. Plus, it's on an Audi - nice ride, Dude. It would pass the Council of Vanity Plates if I were a member - how 'bout you?

And let's end on a low note, the bad one:

[found the pic!]

How many of you want to put this vanity plate in the "good pile"? C'mon, be honest. Are you a baad boy too? If you can't read through the fine print and get the sarcasm, I hate this plate. It was already placed on an SUV (I know, I'm in a truck)... but can you just imagine the driver? I can only guess he was the definition of the phrase "dillweed".

Keep checking back as my camera phone is always at the ready for more gems.


Pizza Shuttle.

As anyone with half a brain will tell you, a good hometown has GOT TO have some good pizza. This goes double for anyone that grew up in Chicago (being the home of deep dish) or perhaps New York, but I can't speak for them. And if you don't know it already, I like eating in general. To be more specific, I've grown up with an eating contest atmosphere at most meals in a family of 4 boys. It was almost always unspoken, but there was something to be said for eating as much as or more than they guy next to you. It's still like that to this day, but we're all getting older and our feats of gastronomic fortitude are becoming increasingly rare.

I know, I know... "get to the post, Jackass!" Well, I had the opportunity in the last month or so to find what is actually regarded as one of the best pizza places in MKE. This title is not placed by me, but by some of the local publications I have read. Also, I suspect there are far fancier pizza places than Pizza Shuttle, but only they have such a niche carved out... carved out of mozzarella, dough, and pizza sauce.

Their niche, in my humble estimation, is semi-greasy, cheap, college pizza. This is not to say that it doesn't taste good, as they always get high marks in reviews. However, for those of us that are fans of Gumby's Pizza (ooh, Pokey Sticks), I would say this is very reminiscent of that style: a little greasy, a little cheesy, and a lot of volume.

This is the remnants of a dine-in only 28" pizza... Just barely held up by the table.

Not only that, but they have one of the biggest menus I've ever seen at a pizza joint. It's literally 8 full color pages, folded up like a small newspaper. You expect to be able to order pizza, but I did not expect to be able to order such things as: gyros, chicken fingers, wings, custard, beer, etc. This is a versatile place and also delivers everything. Yes, Margaret, you can get Brownie Fudge custard sundae delivered right into your grubby little hands.

Of course, the variety in people is almost as good as the variety of food. I saw lots of different people from all walks of life... and that's just the employees. Plus, we don't have to worry about the old saying "never trust a skinny chef"... trust me.

To top it all off, this is about 3 blocks from my place - totally walkable and they have a photo booth. What better way to end a gorging than to stuff yourself and all your friends in an enclosed space for pictures!?! "Say cheese!!"

Finally, I can write all this and I've not even had the pizza yet, just the custard. I'm saving the pizza experience for when I really need it - after a long, hard ride or long, hard night of drinking. I just know Pizza Shuttle won't let me down. Get on the bus, Gus.


Results, Poll #15, Amore.

Love seems to get a lot of press and often the rap for things that go wrong. Why are we fat? Because we're emotional eaters. Why do so many people get divorced? Because they lost their love. Why are strip clubs so popular? Because love don't come cheap. So, what did the readers of t.c have to say about being in love?

9 people (64%) chose "Yes, I know it with all my heart" - awww, sweet [barf].
0 persons (0%) chose "No, not ever" - phew.
3 people (14%) chose "No, but it'll happen" - that's good, stay positive... it's an attractive quality.
2 people (21%) chose "Dunno, how can I tell" - can we Google for more info on knowing if you've been in love?

I have to say, I'm not exactly shocked by the results, and maybe happy that the majority of us have been in love. "They" say you live longer when you're married and not single; I better get on the ball if I want to live as long as the rest of you.

And who's not filling the polls out now?!? We gotta get the total respondents back up there!

Cubs Forever.

I never really knew what I was getting into when as a kid of 7 or 8, I was taken to my first Cubs game. The only way one in a family of 7 kids could see the Cubs when I was growing up was to go with Grandma and Grandpa. For some years, my grandparents were crazy enough to host each of us, one at a time, at their house for about 5 days. We got to eat what we wanted, watch TV "during the day", and do fun things that weren't plausible with 5-7 kids at one time. I had to hear about my brother and sister's good times for a few years, but soon enough I was going on my own "summer vacation" and planning my own trips. I can't remember the year, opponent, or much about the first few trips, but I do remember my grandparents being about as excited as I was, the hotdogs, the chocolate malteds, the souvenirs, and also the general feeling you get from being in Wrigley. Did the Cubs win? I've no idea... but a Cubs game isn't usually about that.

The Cubs Forever program was a great show and I couldn't help but think about the stories I've heard about Wrigley from older fans (My grandma saw a Bears game there), the memories of watching games in the cool basement during the hot summer months (My uncle has the Pirates vs. Cubs playoff series on VHS still), the good times I've spent seeing games there myself (I have a foul ball on my bookshelf), missing games b/c tickets were too expensive (Yankees vs. Cubs), and all the great players and staff over the years. I suppose it's a sign of me getting older, but I can rattle off many names, all of which bring up some memory or picture: Caray, Cey, Davis, Dawson, Dunston, Maddux, Matthews, Ramirez, Sandburg, Sutcliffe, Santo, Soriano, Sosa, Wood, among many. These are players that we've cheered for over years and Cubs staff that have made the games more memorable.

If you consider yourself a Cubs fan and missed the original airing of Cubs Forever (fan status now debatable), set your DVR to catch a re-airing or find the book/DVD at your local (or mega) bookstore.


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