Archive for the 'Wisconsin Stuff' Category

Busy Weekend – Part 2

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

At German Fest – 2006

Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

I attended a bridal shower this morning.

Then Oma, Paul, Emma and I visited German Fest at the Summer Fest Grounds.

It was a scorcher of a day, but we enjoyed the sights and sounds at America’s largest annual German Festival.


At German Fest – 2006

Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

We listened to a musical groups large and small, wandered around the cultural tent and some souvinier pavillions.


At German Fest – 2006

Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

We heard people speaking German. We ate bratwursts and strudels and drank beer.

Oh yes and Cheerios. Emma ate Cheerios.

Yep, an authentic German experience all the way around!

Milwaukee Rated Safest From Natural Disaster

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Safe Milwaukee

uploaded by Koog Family.

More evidence in support of my personal and strongly held theory that Milwaukee offers one of the best places to reside in the country; that despite (or perhaps, in part because of) being a well-kept secret.

Todays’s Journal Sentinal Online has the full story.

Mother Nature might wave her finger and offer an occasional scolding, but it’s unlikely she’ll unleash her full fury on Milwaukee, according to a study released Tuesday that ranks the city No. 1 in the country in terms of safety from a catastrophic natural disaster.

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. 

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.”

Remembering Frank Zeidler

Monday, July 10th, 2006
Frank Zeidler

So long to a true gentleman who is being much remembered in the local and national news today – Frank Zeidler. He was the last of his kind – Milwaukee’s last “sewer socialist” mayor (the first was in 1910), and the last socialist mayor of a major American city. (He served from 1948 – 1960), and ran for president in 1976.

I’ve heard him interviewed on the radio and found him to be¬†a lovely, thoughtful fellow.¬† I’ve also seen him at local¬†German-American gatherings.

Under his watch, the parks system in our city, including the park that surrounds our neighborhood, flourished.  He also oversaw the annexation of land to be used for industrial development, which gave Milwaukee the tax and business base it needed to prosper.

We could use more politicians like him today. He focused on basic city services and infrastructure Рnot partisanship or currying lobbyist favor. 

Sadly, things aren’t run with as much integrity and cooperation these¬†days.¬†

And we were disappointed to learn recently that the public swimming pool in the park near our house is one of 43 [out of 47] park pools slated to permanently close next summer as part of the city’s solution to its pension-scandal-fuled budget woes.

I’m pretty sure that¬†Frank Zeidler would have been ticked-off about that.

Stingy Brewer

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Tiring of my usual lunch haunt, I decided to eat today at the 411 Building, the home of my former firm.

While walking there, I passed the Pfister Hotel, a historic hotel in downtown Milwaukee that lodges any celebrity of note during their stay in our fine city.


originally uploaded by benajp.

I was reminded, as I approached the northwest corner of Milwaukee Ave and Jefferson Street, near the Pfister’s entrance, that this corner is often the site of gathered would-be groupies and fans, who always seem to know when they might possibly be able to catch a glimpse of a beloved celebrity hotel guest.

There was a group of people on the corner today, but before I could wonder who might be gracing the Pfister’s halls, I saw a man sprinting in the street with curious determination. I couldn’t help but to stop and watch, along with the gathered people whom I had reached, to see whither he was running¬†and with what purpose.

As I looked on, the man reached his car and opened the rear passenger door. He dove in to retrieve an item with such energy and haste that I wondered if he had suddenly remembered that he’d left an infant or dear pet in there by mistake. After emerging with what seemed to be a paper in his hand, the man sprinted back toward where I stood — still moving quickly — to a grey vehicle stopped at the light in front of the groupie corner.

He approached the driver’s side door with what turned out to be an 11 x 14 photograph, in hand, apparently hoping that the driver, whom he recognized, would roll down the window and autograph it.

But, the driver would have none of it. The light turned green, the grey vehicle sped off, and the man was left, expressionless, in the middle of the street with nothing but the unsigned photo in his hands and, in his ears,¬†the conciliatory “awwws” and “heys” of the onlooking groupies – intoned to convey both sympathy for the fan and reproach for the vehicle’s driver.

Who was that driver, you ask? Why it was Derrick Turnbow РPitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. Just performing another bit of bad marketing for our hometown baseball team.

What I Did This Week

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

Can’t think of anything particularly inspiring to blog about just now, but I suppose I have an excuse.¬† Here’s what I’ve been up to¬†lately:¬†

On Monday, I gave a nearly two-hour presentation to some Wisconsin-licensed insurance agents on the finer points of HIPAA health privacy law.¬† It’s hard to know whom to feel sorrier for – me, who has to prepare these things, or them, who have to listen to something that they really don’t grasp at all.¬† This time around, I tried to make the topic more accessible by tying it more into their personal experiences, as health care patients, instead of addressing HIPAA issues that they might encounter in their work so much.¬† And I always try to throw in some cute graphics on the power point slides to keep everyone awake.

On Tuesday, we had a big meeting at work about some major benefit plan changes we need to do, ASAP, for a client.  This comes at a time, of course, when I already have more than one person can really handle.  Luckily, I get to delegate most of this project.  Found out that the Internet access at our house went out Рpart of switching our cable arrangement around because of the change of guard in the tenants, upstairs.  Realized that I have a bad addiction to the Internet. 

Wednesday:¬† Had a conference call, with just me on one end, and two clients on the other, to discuss some revisions needed¬†on their screwed-up, home-cooked¬†(those are¬†legal terms) health plan documents.¬† Found out that some relatives I don’t get to see very often will drive in from several states away for a little visit next month.¬†

Thursday: Attended a lunch presentation hosted by a local benefits group on the topic of the ‘latest benefits developments in DC’ from a Washington insider-type.¬† Decided to¬†do some power networking and invited a guy who sat next to me (and who once interviewed me for a job) to participate in a program my boss and I are¬†trying to line up for the¬†State Bar Association later this summer.¬† Dig it.¬†He said yes.¬†

Also spent two¬†hours Thursday¬†night at the church we belong to (cynics among you: note that I said ‘belong to,’ not ‘attend’) -¬†helping to assist them with revising their Employee Handbook.¬† I got recruited for a little pro bono “HR Committee” work.¬†¬†Missed Emma’s bedtime while I was there.¬†¬†):¬† Came home and proofread Paul’s final paper of the semester.¬†

Friday, I handled another conference call, solo, with two other clients with questions on the¬†health insurance premium differentials permitted under the proposed “bona fide wellness program”¬†regulations.¬† This evening, Paul, Emma, and I, Paul’s parents, my mom, Paul’s¬†brother and¬†his fiance made our second annual outing to the Lobster Boil at Arrowhead High School for the benefit of the many special needs programs the school offers.¬†

While there, three 11-year-old boys visiting from France for the week (Antoine, Thomas, and Maxim) were quite taken with Emma, and made friends with her.  Thomas even kissed her goodbye on the cheek when he left.  Europeans are so smart.  They love babies and give kisses to new acquaintences.  How can you go wrong on either of those?

And we have Internet again.¬† Yay!¬† Now I won’t have to expend my nervous, post-Emma’s-bedtime energy¬†on any other unhealthy compusions.¬†

I’m so swamped with work that I have to be in the office much of the day Saturday.¬†¬†

And then Sunday, will be my first actual, really, official Mother’s Day! I was pregnant last year, but I definitely have more to celebrate this time¬†around.¬†

An all-day nap would be a great gift, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.¬† But a short nap would still be great.¬† And while I’m wishing, I’ll just go ahead and hope for a vacation day, too.¬†¬†

What the H-E-Double Toothpicks !? (as they say in Wisconsin) 

City of Milwaukee Pleads: Please Don’t Flush!

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

View of Milwaukee from the North - Clouds move in from Lake Michigan

Immediate Release

May 10, 2006

Help protect Lake Michigan, use less water when there’s heavy rain

(Milwaukee, WI) – With more than two inches of rain possible between tonight and tomorrow night, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) reminds its customers that you can help protect Lake Michigan and reduce the risk of basement backups and sewer overflows by using less water when there’s heavy rain.
“If each of our 1.1 million customers cuts down by just 10 gallons, we would have 11 million gallons more room in the sewer system to handle all the rain,” said MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer.  “We each use about 65 gallons of water a day.  There are many ways to conserve some water without disrupting our lives.”The “Every Drop Counts” water-conservation campaign is NOT a magic fix that promises to end all sewer overflows.  It is one of the many solutions needed to help protect our rivers and lakes.

Some tips for conserving water:

  • Do the laundry tomorrow if there‚Äôs heavy rain today.¬†
  • Always wash full loads.
  • Take a short shower instead of a bath.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Fix leaks.¬† A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day.
  • Cut indoor water use by 1/3 or more by installing low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets.
    For more information on “Every Drop Counts,” visit:   




24 Wisconsin Communities Vote for Iraq Pullout

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

See the report here. The Wisconsin Green Party got the referendum on the ballot in 32 counties. There will be a similar referendum on the Milwaukee ballot in the fall.