Archive for July, 2006

Melting in Milwaukee

Monday, July 17th, 2006

We Milwaukeeans are delicate creatures. 

Oh, cold weather?!¬† That’s nothing.¬† And don’t believe everything you hear about how cold it gets here, either.¬† It’s all part of a conspiracy to keep our lovely state all to ourselves.¬† When it is cold, though, we know what to do.

But¬†HEAT -¬†”Oh Jeez”, as they say in the local parlance.¬† No one likes it when the mercury rises.¬†¬†A typical Milwaukeean transplanted to more southern, tropical climes would wilt and fail to thrive¬†much like¬†a Norwegian Spruce transplanted to Death Valley.

And we’ve had a Milwaukee heat wave this weekend.¬† That means that temperatures have reached levels that are quite normal for other parts of the country, but for which we are ill-prepared.

Temperatures have been in the mid-90s Saturday, Sunday, and today, with heat index readings in the low to mid 100s. 

That prompted the National Weather Service to issue the year’s first Heat Advisory warning for our city, while the municipal authorities set up 21 cooling centers – stations in which both inside air conditioning, as well as outdoor “industrial strength spinklers attached to fire hydrants,”¬†are available.¬† This has been paired with public pleas for citizens to refrain from opening fire hydrants, on their own,¬†for relief.¬† City pools also extended their weekend hours to 7:00p.m.

Luckily, the local paper is promising an end to the madness:

Today’s high could reach 94 with a heat index of 102, according to the Weather Service; tomorrow’s high is expected to be a refreshing 79.¬†¬†

Happy Bastille Day!

Friday, July 14th, 2006

Eiffle Tower

Originally uploaded by aymanshamma.

I celebrated by exiting the lobby of my office building and crossing the street,¬†which meant that I¬†entered the grounds of this year’s version of Milwaukee’s annual¬†3-day “Bastille DaysFestival.¬†

Not a bad Friday switch up to the usual sandwich-down-the street routine.

Over my lunch break, I meandered through mini gay Paris - 43-foot Eiffle Tower replica included. 

I ordered a Cafe au Lait from a booth where the vendors were native Francophones (and called me Madame).  I enjoyed the distant live stage music as well as a lively performance by a roaming Milwaukee-based-New-Orleans-style brass band.  I saw Bassett Hounds wearing berets.  I saw co-workers pretending not to see one another (the better to further the illusion of being in France, instead of just on a street nearly in the shadow of the workplace).  And, most satisfying of all, I played the contrarian by ordering my lunch not at a French-themed booth, but from a German one. 

Oma’s Lap

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

4th of July with Oma, originally uploaded by Koog Family.

Oma’s lap is a fun place to be on the 4th of July. (And on lots of other days, too).

From Sheboygan to the World

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

Well, alright. 

The largest front-page story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today related to the announcement that ESPN will be airing the 2006 Johnsonville Bratwurst-Eating Contest on August 5, 3:00 p.m. CDT. 

The event will be part of the Sheboygan Brat Days 2006.¬† And just in case you were wondering what they’re up to these days, the native Milwaukee group,¬†the Violent Femmes will be performing at the Brat Days.¬†

Even better is the news that Japanese native, Takeru Kobayashi, will be participating in the chow-down. 

Paul and I happened to see him win a hot-dog eating contest that was broadcast on the 4th of July.  That Kobayashi can eat. 

(I even had to call my mom to tell her that we had been amazed, and a little horrified, to see the guy eat 54 hot dogs AND, as required, 54 buns.¬† Apparently, these pros know that it’s easier to eat so much if they soak the buns in water as they go).¬†

When you think about it, a brat-eating contest is just a glorified hot-dog eating contest.¬† So my money’s on Kobayashi.¬† I’m sure he’ll do Wisconsin proud.¬†(To say nothing of what he’ll do for Johnsonville’s¬†market share in Japan).¬†

Takeru Kobayashi

Takeru Kobayashi,
originally uploaded by Koog Family.

Rox is Porn

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

BlockedOriginally uploaded by Koog Family.

I know it’s a no no. But I needed a break at work yesterday and tried to visit my blog. I have done the same thing at other times in the past with no incident.

Bust as of yesterday, to my surprise,, and, in fact, the whole family, is “Pornography.”

I wonder if this is a result, somehow, of the infamous genital-oriented episode (and related publicity) from Season One.

In any event, I will be visiting rox blogs from the confines of my workplce no more.

Hats off to the IT department for this rather ingenious and subtle way of boosting productivity.

More odd Wisconsin news…

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

Paul and I know this theory isn’t true.¬† The most-vacation-ing-est president in the country’s history wouldn’t have purposefully set up this much extra work for himself.¬†

UW Instructor Defends Plan to
Teach 9/11 Conspiracy
Theory in Class

“Why would our government do this? To trigger a War that will not end in our lifetime.”¬† Says Kevin Barrett, a lecturer for UW-Madison who will teach a course on Islam this Fall.
Barrett is the founder of a group called the Muslim Jewish Christian Alliance for 9/11 truth, that has about 1,000 members worldwide.  He says after three years of studying the evidence, he came to the conclusion 9/11 did not happen the way the government says it did.  He believes the Bush Administration planned and executed the attacks on the World Trade Center.
”The physics of those collapses clearly could not have resulted from plane crashes and jet fuel fires with office materials.”¬†Barrett says jet fuel does not burn¬†hot enough to melt steel, and says recent tests on melted steel from the building prove his theory that it was wired to collapse, by the Government.¬†
¬† Barrett says the Bush Administration is fooling the American public with the Adolf Hitler ‘Big Lie Technique’… ”Tell them a little lie and they’ll wonder about it – weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a relatively little lie – and people are getting called on it.” Barrett says.¬† ”Tell em a big lie like 9/11 and they have a huge resistance to questioning it.”
Barrett quotes from Hitler’s book ”Mein Kampf” in which he writes ”In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily.¬† It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths and they would not believe that others would have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
That theory is now part of the curriculum for an Introduction to Islam class Barrett will teach this Fall at the UW.¬† He says 14 of the 16 weeks will have nothing to do with politics, but in the remaining two weeks, he will cover what he calls the ”so-called war on terror”.
”And I will present different interpretations of the war on terror, In¬†I think a pretty detached way and encourage students to debate those interpretations and to support whichever one they personally find most persuasive and let them make up their own minds.” Barrett says.
Governor Jim Doyle questioned whether someone with ‘this total irrational idea” should be teaching students at UW, and Rep. Steve Nass called for Barrett to be fired, but Barrett says his students don’t have to agree with his theory about 9/11.
”Of course not!” Barrett says, ”I certainly wouldn’t expect them to… At least not all of them. On the other hand I would expect some of them would once they look at the evidence because the evidence is overwhelming.”
Barrett said he is not surprised, or concerned about the UW’s request to discuss the curriculum of his class.
”These people (his critics) are welcome to their opinions, but we have a tradition of academic freedom here in Wisconsin of sifting fearlessly in pursuit of truth because our motto has it- The truth will set you free. ”¬† Barrett says.
Barrett says a meeting with Provost Patrick Farrell and two others from the UW went well.¬†He says the¬†University officials said they were not interested in his opinions outside of the classroom, just what he planned to teach in it.¬†¬†Farrell will release the UW’s decision about the class in about a week.

View from the World Trade Center, 1996

Thursday, July 13th, 2006
Paul visited the World Trade Center Observation Deck and took these pictures in June, 1996.¬† I visited, too, in January 1997, but it was foggy that day and I didn’t bring a camera.

World Trade Center

World Trade Center,
originally uploaded by Koog Family.

Emma’s First Drawing

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

First Drawing    Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

Paul and Emma made this before I got home last night.

(Paul drew the circle).

Ferch’s is a Cool Treat

Monday, July 10th, 2006

Paul’s Auntie B.¬†
by Koog Family.

Next time you come to Milwaukee, be sure to let us know. We’ll take you to Ferch’s Malt Shoppe and Grille – a 50’s style malt and burger shop run by some of Paul’s relatives.¬† It’s THE place to go¬†for some fine Wisconsin Frozen Custard! (That’s what people eat here, basically instead of¬†ice cream).

Here’s a little write -up¬†on Ferch’s:

Malt Shoppe mixes a million flavors of memories

Special to the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Nov. 10, 2005

Who: Betty Ferchoff

What she does: owns Ferch’s Malt Shoppe & Grille, Greendale

In an age that now seems as distant as a world inhabited by Hobbits, dwarves and dragons, there was a place where time briefly stood still; where a child, confronted by a limitless array of delights, might pause to contemplate the wonders of a universe of his or her own choosing.

“I think I’d like a cherry cola,” the child might say, plunking down a sweaty quarter on a gleaming countertop. “No, make it a chocolate soda – a chocolate phosphate soda.”

When the soda fountain disappeared from the corner drugstore to make way for more racks of beauty aids and over-the-counter medicines, something dear to a child’s heart went with it.

Almost. Betty Ferchoff, Greendale girl from birth, whose grandparents helped pioneer the FDR-created village in 1938, held on to her memories of a magical place called Des Jardin’s Drug Store, where her aunt-to-be worked the soda fountain until her uncle, a doctor, wooed her into marriage.

“I wanted a place that brought back those warm, fuzzy memories,” Ferchoff says of her decision to open Ferch’s Malt Shoppe & Grille, at 5636 Broad St. in the historic Greendale Village. That was in 1988, and Ferchoff went into business with high hopes.

By 1992, she had given up, as had many a small-business owner in Greendale.

“The landlord lived in Illinois,” she says. “We all had absentee landlords. They took no interest in the place; it was just a tax write-off.

“Then, Roy Reiman (of Reiman Publications) bought the village and did what I had always dreamed.”

Reiman completely remodeled the village and personally asked Ferchoff to return to her downtown malt shop.

“So I had to come back and do it all over again,” she says.

In 1995, she reopened Ferch’s and began resurrecting her vision – an up-to-date, innovative restaurant that pays gentle homage to the past without trying to replay it note for note.

Take frozen custard, for instance.

At most places, you’re offered vanilla, chocolate or one or two featured flavors.

Ferch’s, thanks to a device call the “Marble Top,” doesn’t bother with a flavor of the week; rather, on any day of the year, you can have any one of just about any flavor you can dream up.

Here’s how it works: Ferchoff drops an ample scoop of vanilla frozen custard onto a slab of frozen marble and makes a few shallow slices in it with a spatula.

Then she drizzles in a few drops of any combination of the 48 flavor extracts she stocks. With a few deft paddling strokes, she mixes your instant flavor-of-the-moment.

Want candies, nuts, fruit or chips? There are 36 of those to choose from, just as quickly blended into your concoction.

“My son did the math,” Ferchoff says, “and it came out in the millions.”

Ferchoff brought in another son, Jeff Ferchoff, who has a degree in marketing, to help with the business. He built up the menu with wraps, salads and pasta dishes. She slimmed it down with low-fat, low-carb and zero-sugar choices – including the first sugar-free frozen custard on the market.

Still, she holds to her course on keeping Ferch’s a reflection of a time of innocence. But it isn’t simply about reliving the past.

As she puts it, “We’re a place building memories.”

Bad Poem – Nice Weekend

Monday, July 10th, 2006

 I neglected the blog, but my closet looks good.
 I sorted and laundered like I knew that I could.
 I’d ignored closet crowding since Emma’s been here.
 But with renewed strength and vigor, all’s now ordered and clear.
 I also turned my attention to packing.
 Seven cush’ days at sea is a challenge worth tackling.
 For the Yukon and AK we should bring some warm clothes.
 But also some summery garb, ‘cause who knows?  
 We attended the baptism of a friends’ tiny guy,
 Paul and Emma had to leave due to her little cries.
 They sat in the back and missed all the action.
 But cheerios provided her some satisfaction.
 Sunday night was an exciting one on our street.
 There was thunder, and rain, and mixed in with that, sleet.
 Then the rain came down harder.  The street started to flood.
 Then thunder shook the house with a thud.   
 The power went out while the street river raged
 The neighbors all gathered to examine the stage
 that was our strange street; but nature’s sly ploy
 did nothing to dampen the neighbor boy’s joy.  
 He pulled up his shorts and ran through the water,
 and every few seconds, let out a glad holler.
 Emma, for her part, was intrigued by the rain.
 She stood up to bang on the window pane.
 Candles and a flashlight guided the rest of the eve’.
 In the morning we discovered the outage reprieve.
 The lights were back on, but the real light of the day  
 was the pointing and smiling Emma sent just my way.