The good, bad, and the jerks

Back a long time ago when I used to be a fan of the Green Bay Packers — long before I realized the majority of their championships (11 of them) came in their first 50 years and they haven’t done shit these last 50 — back when they were going through their 25 year drought before they hired Ron Wolf and stopped being a laughing stock, I was asked the question, “Would you rather have a team filled with players who were classy, believed in good sportsmanship but had average skills, or would you want a team filled with assholes who won consistently and took you to the playoffs?”

My response was, I’d prefer the team filled with players I can look up to, who I can be proud of as human beings, and who don’t embarrass me or the team.

I still believe that. Luckily, skill and good sportsmanship aren’t an either/or proposition. There are quality athletes who are also quality human beings.

None of them are playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it would seem.

Until the playoffs, I had never given the Dodgers much thought. The Milwaukee Brewers had played them a few series during the regular season, but none of their players triggered my Asshole Meter.

Not like players on some of the other teams we play, like Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals (who pegs the needle on the Asshole Meter), Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds, and Jose Bautista of the Philladephia Phillies, for example.

But now, closely watching the NLCS, I can see upclose how many assholes they really have, not only on the Dodgers team itself, but in the stands, as well.

Manny Machado — Milwaukee was in talks with this guy before the Dodgers acquired him. I did not want him as a Brewer and his play with L.A. is proving that point. He has deliberately tried to take out two of our players while he was running the bases. Twice he tried to injure our shortstop sliding into second, and he kicked the leg of our first baseman as he ran past.

Breaking News: MLB has fined Manny Machado for running into Jesús Aguilar.

Rich Hill — He literally had a temper tantrum in the dugout that would have made any two-year-old proud, kicking and throwing containers of candy because he failed to strike out a batter.

Yasiel Puig — Another hot head who breaks bats over his knee when he strikes out. Someone needs to get him a pacifier STAT.

Clayton Kershaw — OK, I take it back that I didn’t notice any assholes on the Dodgers. Kershaw triggers my Asshole Meter with every pitch. Why? Because he balks every single time. Also, his hair is greasy and his hat is stained with grease. You can’t tell me he isn’t doctoring the ball. But because he’s the great Kershaw, he gets away with it. It was nice to see him crying on the bench after we knocked him out early in game one. I hope we can do the same today.

The Fans — Yes, the fans. When our pitcher injured his ankle and walked off the field their fans did nothing. Nothing. I guess being from the midwest, I found that to be terribly rude. If an opposing player gets injured at Miller Park, we stand, clap and cheer when he is taken off the field to show our support. He may be an opposing player, but we still show that we care and hope he gets better. And seriously. L.A. is still booing Ryan Braun? It’s been ten years. Get over it.

I don’t understand fans who can cheer for assholes, and understand even less those who actually admire these types of players. I can’t condone dirty play, immature outbursts, or downright cheating.

“But you guys have Ryan Braun.” See above. Get over it. It was a decade ago. He’s guilty of making a poor decision, then compounded the situation by lying about it, but that doesn’t make him an asshole. Stupid, sure. But he’s been clean since. He served his punishment. And taking PEDs is a far cry from being a spoiled, entitled, little jerkoff asshole, like Bryce Harper. Braun is a good clubhouse leader, a good representative for baseball and the Brewers within the community, and has even been in the running for the Alberto Clemente Award.

Anyway, the thing is when the Brewers finally do get past the Dodgers, they’ll more than likely face a team filled with even more assholes when they play the Boston Redsox.

The sad thing is the national media, as well as Major League Baseball itself, would prefer a World Series where the L.A. Assholes face off against the Boston Assholes.

Go figure.

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It’s random Friday

A Friday Haiku

Government shutdown

Trump was nowhere to be seen

Where are the adults?

It’s hard to write a haiku about a government shutdown because Continuing Resolution is eight syllables.

Weigh-In Friday

Let’s start out the week in review with some good news (to offset the angry rants toward the end).

The scale says (say that like Richard Dawson doing “Family Feud”), I lost 1.7 pounds! Yowza!

And that was all done through exercise. My diet lately is less than ideal. A homemade egg and cheese McMuffin for breakfast. Ham and cheese or PB&J sandwiches for lunch, a Siggi’s yogurt and an apple or clementine for a midday snack. And then our normal overly processed dinner, although this week was probably worse than normal, which is why that weight loss number is rather surprising.

Here’s a review of our evening meals:

Monday — chilidogs and chilifries

Tuesday — pizza from Jet’s Pizza

Wednesday — a boxed dinner similar to Chicken Helper only Velveeta’s version

Thursday — since my wife was at a work-sponsored event and it was just my teenaged son and I, we had Jeno’s Pizza Rolls (a 90 count and 40 count bag, if you’re keeping score).

Yeah, I probably just gave any nutritionists reading this nightmares.

Run, Ferret, Run

It was a good week for running. I ran last Friday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

After a sporadic November and December and then being laid low by bronchitis for two weeks, I’m taking it slow to get back into proper running shape. I don’t want to rush it and end up with a stress injury.

My runs at this point have been for 15 minutes at 5 mph. An easy pace that doesn’t leave me gasping for breathe.

The last three runs, I increased the time to 16 minutes, and the average pace was slowly increased by 0.1 mph increments to 5.3. Last night’s run, after I hit a mile, I increased the last five minutes of the run to 6 mph.

Tonight, I’ll increase the time to 17 minutes and set the pace to 5.5 mph.

I’m way off my personal bests of last year where I was running 5k in about 29 minutes. But as I said, although I’m impatient and chomping at the bit to get back to that faster pace (which is why I finished last night’s run at 6 mph), I know it’s best for my health if I keep taking it slow for now.

Government Shutdown and another C.R.

As a Federal employee, I’m really getting fed up with not knowing if I’ll have a job at the end of each of these Continuing Resolutions. I really wish Congress would agree to a real budget instead of kicking the can down the road every few weeks.

It’s ironic because I took my Federal job for several reasons. First, I believe in serving my country. I was a Boy Scout, in the U.S. Navy, worked part time in college for the local school system, and now I’m a Fed. Second, my work history was rather woeful. I worked for close to a dozen private companies that all folded underneath me, leaving me unemployed. The last one happened at the start of 2009 during the recession and I was unemployed for nearly two years. The longer I was unemployed, the less employable I became because my job skills were no longer “up to date.” So, I applied for a Federal position thinking it would provide job security.

Job security! That’s funny in retrospect since every end of the fiscal year we go through these rounds of failed budgets and Continuing Resolutions to keep the government funded for just a few weeks more. We’ve suffered through threats of shutdowns and actual shutdowns, the one in 2013 lasted 19 days. This one, three. And we’re looking forward to another threat on February 8th, when this C.R. ends.

Join the Federal workforce they said, it’ll be fun they said. Right, the pay is low, the benefits are shrinking, the GOP demonizes us, and there’s always the threat of losing our jobs.

Good times.

Winter Wonderland?

I don’t know how your winter is going, but ours is all screwed up. We live in Wisconsin, Milwaukee specifically. Our annual average snowfall is about 52.4 inches (133 cm) per winter. And our average high temperature in January is 28 °F (-2 °C) and the average low is 13 °F (-11 °C).

This winter, we’ve experienced a few weeks of subzero weather (Fahrenheit-wise) alternating with unusually above average temperatures.

Earlier this week it rained all day Monday, it turned to snow on Tuesday, and today they’re predicting temperatures near 50 °F (10 °C).

At one point, South Carolina had more snow from that one freak snowstorm several weeks ago than we had received all winter long.

I’m not complaining, mind you. I hate shoveling. And I have yet to need our snowblower.

Granted, we still have plenty of time. March of 2017 we were hit with a record setting snowfall totalling nearly a foot and a half of snow in some parts of the city.

So, I’ll shut up now before the Fates hear me.

Milwaukee’s Racing Sausages

For more than 25 years, the Milwaukee-based Klement Sausage Company has been synonymous with the Milwaukee Brewers’ world famous Racing Sausages.

But this year, that all changed. The Milwaukee Brewers abruptly, and without explanation, broke off negotiations, and then signed with another company. Furthermore, the Brewers completely denied Klement’s any chance to make a counter-offer or renegotiate.

It was a dick move on the part of the Milwaukee Brewers. That isn’t how you treat a 25 year working relationship.

Many fans began to speculate who the new company might be. There are a lot of great sausage companies in Wisconsin, including the other Milwaukee-based sausage maker, Usinger’s, which already has Bob Uecker, the Milwaukee Brewers’ radio announcer, as a spokesperson.

There’s also Cher-Make Sausage based out of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the Sheboygan Bratwurst Company, and Old Wisconsin Sausage Company, just to name a few.

Did the Brewers select any of those?

Nooooo. They went with Johnsville.

Yes, that Johnsonville. The one that donates tens of thousands of dollars to the campaign fund of our crazed conservative governor, a puppet of the Koch Brothers, who slavishly passes their ALEC-influenced agenda that is ruining our state.

The Brewers couldn’t have made a worse choice. Combine that with how wretchedly they treated Klement’s in doing so, makes this a decision that will leave a bad taste in the mouths of Brewers fans for years.

To show our displeasure with the backstabbing treatment of Klement’s, Brewers fans should collectively turn their backs on the Sausage Races this year.

I know I will. They’ll always be the Klement’s Racing Sausages to me.

Last word

And that brings another week to an end. Hope you have a great weekend. Go support Klement’s sausages and boycott Johnsonville.

I think tonight I’ll grill some Klement’s sausages in our 50 °F weather to show solidarity.

I leave you, as always, with a song. Enjoy.

Resist.

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Friday week in review

A Friday Haiku

First day of Autumn

Someone needs to tell Summer

Ninety-five? Really?

Edited to Add: Milwaukee reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit today. Broke the 1937 record of 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here we go, Brewers, here we go!

Only 10 games left and the Milwaukee Brewers are still in the thick of the National League playoff race, despite losing two crucial games that would have tied them with Denver for the final Wild Card berth and brought them a game closer to the Cubs.

Win or lose, if they make the playoffs or don’t, this is already one of the Brewers’ most exciting seasons.

For one thing, no one expected this (except us true blue fans). Every so-called experts predicted the Brew Crew would be cellar dwellars, battling it out with Cincinnati for last place. After all, they had that fire sale, getting rid of all their star players, except for Ryan Braun, and filled their roster with farm club no-names. The Brewers were essentially fielding a Triple-A team, or so the experts claimed.

Did the Brewers even see the script for this season? It’s doubtul because they immediately surprised everyone by jumping into first place in their division from the very beginning and didn’t let up until the All-Star Break. Not only that, they led the league in home runs, RBI, and several other stats. For a time, they were the best team in baseball.

In other words, this lowly small-town team of Triple-A ballplayers dared to disrespect the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs as well as the perennial playoff contending St. Louis Cardinals by beating the pants off of them.

And here we are, on the final lap of the baseball season and the Brewers are still in the thick of it. Second place in the division and still within reach of a Wild Card.

True fans couldn’t be happier and even if they miss the post-season, we can’t complain. They did more than exceed expectations, they knocked them out of the park. They’re a very young team and as they’ve shown, very talented with a lot of heart. They have fun and are just plain fun to watch.

Brewers tear off Erik Thames’ shirt to celebrate his walk off home run against San Diego in June 16, 2017.

This season was all about team-building and gaining valuable experience, especially on how to deal with the intense pressure of a playoff race.

Whatever the outcome of the season is, this team is no longer is a bunch of no-names. In a short time, everyone now knows Domingo Santana, Zach Davies, Eric Thames, Travis Shaw, Josh Hader, Corey Knebbel, Manny Pina (Lucroy who?), Orlando Arcia, nerd boy Eric Sogard, Keon Broxton, Brett Phillips with his 80-grade arm and they’ve put the rest of the league on notice. These guys are going to be contenders for many seasons yet to come.

It’s a great time to be a Brewers fan.

Weigh-In Friday

I’m up again by a couple pounds. Sometimes a little cheating is fine, but losing track of how much you cheated isn’t. It’s like trying to keep a mental tally of your finances instead of writing it down in a ledger, then veing surprised when you get an overdraft notice from the bank. “I could have sworn we had more money!” Our minds like to play tricks on us.

I take some solace in the fact that despite gaining weight, my fat percentage still went down and my muscle percentage went up.

The never ending edits

You’ve heard of the Never Ending Story? Well, I’m trapped in the never ending edits.

I would have hoped I was past the creation stage and well into the pokishing stage of my manuscript, but that isn’t the case.

As my editor side goes through my story to correct flaws in tense, fix passive sentences, and so on, my writer side is also going, “Hey! I have a great idea to add here! How about if…”

And it isn’t just one or two scenes the writer side is considering. It’s every crucial scene. New ideas for dialog, for subplots, and setting as well. Some minor, some major. Not edits, but actual rewrites.

Shut up, writer side, you aren’t helping.

Worse, now I’m worried I might have fallen down the research rabbit hole, that never ending time suck where you go to verify one thing only to have that topic lead to another topic and another and another. None related to what you started out researching, but all addictingly interesting enough to draw you in and hold you there. A prisoner to your own desire for more knowledge.

Help me.

The GOP wants to kill us

There is a lot of buzz going on about how scary the recent release of the remake of Stephen King’s It is. But there’s something even scarier on Capital Hill. It’s a two-headed monster called Graham-Cassidy and it wants to kill us all.

Millions will lose their health insurance. Many due to pre-existing conditions (which they say are covered but they really aren’t), necause the bill has no guarantees they can get coverage.

States that accepted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, would lose their funding, but more importantly and scarier, there will be complete changes to how Medicaid is funded to all states. This is the GOP saying “Fuck you” to the elderly and disabled.

This is the worst of the Trumpcare repeal and replace bills yet!

Call your Congressperson. Complain. Give them an earful that we’re tired of their conservative bullshit. Save the ACA.

Unless you want to die.

TheRump wants to kill us too

If there is one thing this week has shown, it’s how much of a divide exists between the deplorables and the rest of the world.

The great orange turd addressed the United Nations in his own inimitable style. In other words, he appalled all civilized people everywhere with his ignorant and bellicose rhetoric, threatening to destroy another nation.

But not everyone was shocked or appalled by TheRump’s insane patter. On the contrary, my Twitter feed exploded with praise for King Cheeto. “It’s about time we had a real President who stands up for Murica!” They want him to destroy a nation. Any nation. Do they look different from us? Speak some funny language other than English? Kill ’em! Kill ’em all! They think going to war should always be our first option in negotiations. Diplomacy is for wimps.

It should come as no surprise the trumpettes admired his angry posturing, his childish namecalling, his chest pounding and threat displays and saw them as something to be proud of. And that’s why Hillary appropriately named them deplorables.

Currently reading

Last night I was digging through my To-Be-Read pile of books and came across “Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies,” an anthology of short fiction that had appeared in that magazine over the years, edited by Marvin Kaye. I picked it up and started reading and couldn’t put it down. I’ve always enjoyed pulp fiction and Weird Tales had some of the best by some of the great writers of the day, like Ray Bradbury, H. G. Wells, Fritz Lieber, August Derleth, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert Bloch, Tanith Lee, H. P. Lovecraft, and Richard Matheson to name a few.

I leave you with a song

For your listening pleasure, a song with which to start your weekend and also to ring in Autumn.

So fell Autumn rain, washed away all my pain, I feel brighter somehow, lighter somehow to breathe once again

So fell Autumn rain, washed my sorrows away, with the sunset behibd somehow I find the dreams are to stay

So fell autumn rain

From “So Fell Autumn Rain” by Lake of Tears

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Opening Day brings new foods, beers

Today is Opening Day. It should be a National Holiday.

If you just said, “Opening Day of what?” please exit now.

Today, Miller Park will be jammed with people, the majority of whom don’t care anything about baseball; they’re there for the shenanigans and heavy drinking that goes on. 

It’s sad because to real fans, Opening Day is a religious experience, a special day, like Christmas. A day to celebrate the annual return of the greatest sport in the history of forever. 

The boys of summer have returned like the swallows to Capastrano.

We went to the last preseason game on Saturday, April 1st at Miller Park. We were among the first to see the revamped food concession areas.

Before this remodel, there were just a few “name” vendors in the mix. I can’t recall the names because they were mostly for the snooty food snobs, in my opinion. Those of us with families went to the generic food concession counters where we could get slightly overpriced hamburgers, bratwurst, Italian sausage, hot dogs, popcorn, and selected Miller Brewing Company beer products, as well as sodas.

But those stands, and those prices, are gone now (unless they still have some generic concession stands hidden away).

Now the have food provided by AJ Bombers (hamburgers), Zaffiros pizza, the Smoke Shack Barbeque, J Agave’s Tacos, Holey Moley donuts, as well as a whole skew of Wisconsin craft brew offerings.

We tried J. Agave’s Tacos. My wife and I ordered two tacos and two drinks. The price was what you would expect if you were dining out, not at a ballpark!  To put in perspective, last year we could have ordered a cheeseburger, a bratwurst, a Polish sauage, a chirizo, fries and sodas for four for the same price!

And the service? Well, I hope they were still working out the kinks, because we had to wait 15 minutes after we ordered to get our food. One problem is, although it carries the restaurant’s name, they still use a volunteer food service staff. 

They were disorganized and confused to say the least. One issue was the window to the kitchen was also the counter where the servers had to access drawers to complete the orders and make nachos. In other words, they were all on top of each other, getting in each other’s way.

As I said, it was a preseason game, so I can’t imagine what kind of bedlam there will be for a full house, especially a standing-room-only Opening Day crowd. Seems like a disaster in the making. 

When we did finally get our order and made it back to our seats, the tacos were going cold. It was then I realized how messy a taco was to eat without a table, trying to balance everything in your lap.

And to be honest, I’m not a foodie, so all those contrasting flavors–spicy and sweet–probably work in a situation where I’m there to concentrate on the food and dining experience, not while I’m trying to satiate my hunger while yelling at the ump for a bad call.

So I was disappointed, to say the least.

Baseball was the last major league sporting experience that was still affordable to the average family. Now however, Miller Park, in revamping the food experience, has taken that away from us.

I don’t know why they felt it was necessary to do so. Most hometown fans were quite happy with the food selection and the prices. Milwaukee is a city known for searching for a bargain. We like tradition. The revamped food area is neither. 

Maybe they’re trying to lure a whole new crowd, one that isn’t there for baseball, a bunch of yuppies who want some sort of foodie “experience.”

That would also explain the game show host-like idiot they had on the Jumbotron during every lull asking trivia or playing some other sort of guessing game with a fan contestant for a chamce to win prizes.

I found it intrusive and annoying. 

If they want to do that silly shit at football or basketball games, have at it, but leave baseball alone.

Real baseball fans don’t need all that distracting shit to “enhance” our experience. Nor do we need any fancy foodie crap. Just give us some peanuts, popcorn, and cracker jacks and we won’t care if we ever get back.

Stop ruining baseball.

At least they haven’t replaced the Klement’s Racing Sausages

But baseball is back! And despite a long-winded rant, I’m happy.

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