Diary

What’s the point?

I love to eat. And I’m pretty open to what I eat. I’ll try (and in most cases really enjoy) just about any food short of insects which I struggle with mentally, not gastronomically. Eating bugs just creeps me out.

And I have lived through a lot of food trends in my 70+ years. Including nouvelle cuisine when it seemed that chefs were intent on not actually serving you anything to eat! Horizontal food, vertical food, food trends come and go. Duh….

I was looking at Tumblr this morning and came across the idea of Spaghetti Grilled Cheese sandwiches. And my brain just kind of exploded.

I LOVE spaghetti. I LOVE grilled cheese sammies. I love bread. But why, oh why, oh why would anyone bother making a grilled cheese spaghetti sandwich.

Of course that all brings me to a trend over the past few years of strange combination / and combinations for the sake of complexity.

Folks — sometimes more isn’t more. Sometimes more is excessive, unnecessary, and downright dumb. Not stupid. Just senseless.

Sloppier, bigger, more decadent is just … well… more decadent. And in case you haven’t noticed, “decadent” isn’t a sign of wonderful thing but a sad and negative thing.

I like to taste the things I’m eating. I know that chefs and foodies love to maximize flavor and give you a little flavor bomb in your mouth but I really do think that most of the time enough is enough. You don’t need flavor on flavor on flavor on flavor. I’m not even sure it’s “nice” getting more flavors. I can get more flavors by eating other kinds of food. But I love tasting whatever I’m eating when I’m eating it and too many combinations are just … TOO MANY.

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You’ve changed

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Quitting

Popular culture is filed with so much garbage. So often I hear people saying that quitting isn’t an option, or that the only acceptable outcome is to win. Not only is that attitude impossible, it is also harmful. One person cannot win all the time. It never happens. Eventually even the hardiest, the most skillful, fail or are overcome. And knowing when to quit has prevented uncountable human tragedies — it is a basic life skill whether fight or flee.

If you watch any contest shows on television — and there are plenty of them (athletic, romance, food, etc., etc..) — the introduced contestants are always the “best” and they always give 110% (which is actually impossible — you can’t give more than you have), and they are going to beat all the other contestants. By the end of the program you find out that all of the contestants save one have lied — they have all been beaten no matter their cockiness or arrogance.

Why do people think it’s so important to brag in that manner? Why do they insist upon making fools of themselves?

I’m sure you’ll hear some people say it’s all part of the game; that they are psyching out the competition. Personally I think they would be better served by being better prepared for the competition than filling the air with empty promises.

Then there are the people who lack training/experience/confidence who put up a bold front to hide their lack of credentials. Kind of silly when you think about the fact that no matter what you say at the beginning of the contest your actual ability will soon be on display no matter what you say — and if you brag and are taken down you only look the more foolish.

It’s also funny that so many of the eliminated contestants can leave the contest prematurely and still they claim to have accomplished what they set out to do — or have “won” as they are being eliminated from the contest having fallen short of the goal. I don’t get it.

I have pushed myself to the limit a great many times. Fortunately I’m not having to do that a lot anymore, but I haven’t forgotten the strain and the effort it takes to do what no one else thinks is possible. And I have to admit that I have never been a great advocate of the visualization technique — visualizing yourself “winning” or beating your opponent. Believe me, just picturing it in your own mind isn’t going to get the job done if you aren’t ready for the contest. Bravado alone won’t make anything happen. And you can say, “Fake it till you make it” but that only works if the competition is likewise ill prepared. If that really worked the world would be filled with more and more small successful companies instead of more and more multinational corporations. At some point, faking it falls short.

Learn to succeed. Learn to assess a situation. Count your resources. Count the costs of success. And then decide if this is a battle worth fighting, or one you’re better off walking away from in order to return another day for a more successful contest.

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Voter Suppression

It did not escape my attention that on the very day last week the nation was celebrating the lives of those brave soldiers who give there all to secure for this country the freedoms that we enjoy the media were focussed upon three states, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania where legislators were engaged in restricting and limiting the voting rights of oppressed and poor and disenfranchised parts of the population.

Democracy is a fragile thing. It requires constant vigilance to maintain. And a great many people in this country are demonstrating that they really aren’t all that much in favor of democracy if it jeopardizes their power.

I’m saddened by the virulent strain of white ascendency that the blot on our national character named Donald Trump has released on the world. Before him at least the worst of White Supremacy kept it’s ugly face hidden most of the time. But his in-your-face style made it OK for the worst parts of society to poke their ugly faces into the light and to make their presence known again.

Ideas need a face and he gave hatred a semblance of respectability. This nation surely isn’t the nation I thought it was. Bad on me for thinking any differently in light of 200+ years of history. I should have known better.

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A battle of wills

I spent most of last weekend with our daughter, son-in-law, grand daughter, her hub, and our great grand daughter. It was our first in person, maskless, meeting and extended visit in over a year. Need I say we loved it?

We met at our place in “The Dells” and the weather was cool — quite a switch in one week from the low 50’s to today’s 91º forecast. Mike cooked a brisket on the grill, we all ate more than we should, and laughed just the right amount, and hugged almost enough.

Our great grand one is approaching her 2nd birthday. I am not going to say anything about “terrible” twos, but I am fascinated by the way we humans come to terms with our individuality, and the concept of “personality.”

Drew & Melanie have been proactive about teaching and encouraging little Sophia. She’s learning lot of words and she’s using them, not always at times when they could help her get her way, but she is using them.

Therein lies the rub. We humans quickly learn that WE are the center of the universe — at least we are to ourselves. Infancy frequently teaches new borns that adults love nothing more than to care for and coddle them. And it comes as a great shock to most of them, most of US when WE were infants too, that at some point in time we are no longer our parents priority; that parents have wants and wishes too; that we infants are expected to meet some of those expectations, and that they are not always going to give in to our assertions of self, or our demands for things.

The battle of wills commences.

I was watching (and listening) to the parents trying to encourage a 21 month old to “use your words.” Such an easy thing to say as an adult, but making the connection in a 21 month old brain between the idea that speaking a word can change the world is really a huge thing. It’s no wonder that little ones struggle to get that into their head. There is no connection between what they want and the utterance of a syllable or two — why should I say something now when it’s always worked for me just to scream? They get the idea eventually.

Personality is, at the bottom line, all that we really are. Our bodies grow, and age, and regenerate themselves in a regular cycle of weeks, months and years. The cells that form my body have not existed for long snd soon they will be replaced by other cells — yet my personality continues pretty much unchanged except by experience.

I could get all metaphysical and say that the personality — that unchanging part of ourselves — is what people talk about when they refer to their soul — their uniqueness — but I’m not going to go there today. Because today is all about getting our way, or not; about expressing who we are or having who we are determined by another.

The “Twos” don’t have to be terrible. Our daughter had a period of learning; I don’t think either Peg nor I considered that time to be terrible though we’d be lying to say it was not without challenges. But we went into it aware that growth is difficult and when you are starting off with a blank slate you can write any story you want upon it so why not make it the best story you can.

Of course our desire for our daughter to grow up in one way had nothing to do with her desire to grow up the way she wanted to… and we had our parental/child disagreements — you bet. Learning to encourage controlled growth without stifling it was, and is still, a challenge. And each generation has different tools to accomplish their personal objectives; and each generation also has it’s own biases and beliefs (true or untrue) that factor into raising an infant/child who has only one priority — to express themselves and become what they want to be.

I’m going to enjoy the next year or so. As great grandparents who live 300 miles away we will never be able to have the same kind of closeness to Sophia as my parents enjoyed who lived in a different apartment in the same building. We accept that. But that doesn’t mean that our love for the little one is any less; just that it will be expressed in different ways.

I’m confident in the parents. They are progressive and thoughtful people. I’m sure they’ll do the best job they can. Still, this isn’t 1951 when I was at that point, nor is it 1974 when our daughter was there, more 1993 when our granddaughter faced her second year. At each point raising your children was a very different experience and so it will continue generation by generation.

At some point the child will assert themself and from there on it will be a battle of the wills.

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The Hinky Dinky or TMERLC

The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company. Predecessor or both Wisconsin Energies and the Milwaukee County Transit Authority, it was the brainstorm of early Milwaukeeans and the solution for getting thousands upon thousands of our grand parents and great grandparents to work each morning.

My dad worked for Wisconsin Energies back in the day when it was still called Wisconsin Electric Power. In those days there was a streetcar line that terminated at the Lakeside Power Plant on the Lake Michigan shore. Each month workers in the power plant took turns manning the controls of one circuit of the streetcar and did duty as an early form of car-pooling. The streetcar, which ran down Wells street for part of it’s route, picked up employees three times a day, and dropped them off again three times a day as an employee benefit.

On at least one occasion I left home early on a Sunday morning with dad to join him on the route as driver — though with the tracks the only thing the driver did was start and stop the streetcar, and tap the mechanical warning bell that was linked to a button in the floor at the driver’s feet. I felt like a prince doing that. Sitting on dad’s knee, in the driver’s seat, eager to tap the bell, watching other workers run to the streetcar stop, waiting for them to board, and then meeting my mom at the prearranged stop for me to get off when my tour of duty was over and dad had to get to the “other” part of his job inside the power plant. Fond memories brought back to mind when a friend posted these pictures from the TMRELC recently.

Headquartered in downtown Milwaukee’s Public Service Building, We Energies is Wisconsin’s largest electric and natural gas utility. The publicly-traded company serves eastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A subsidiary of parent company WEC Energy Group, We Energies’ 21st-century portfolio includes coal, natural gas, nuclear, oil, and renewable energies.

The firm dates back to The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company (TMER&L), which focused, as the name suggests, on transportation and illumination infrastructure. Organized under Henry Villard’s North American Company, TMER&L was America’s first integrated power utility, generating energy for lighting, power, and traction. A series of corporate mergers between 1938 and 1941 joined TMER&L with the Wisconsin Electric Power Company and North American Company’s Wisconsin Gas & Electric and Michigan Power Company holdings. However, anti-monopoly legislation soon forced North American Company to dissolve in 1946, rendering Wisconsin Electric independent. Its facilities included the Lakeside Power Plant, the nation’s first to run on pulverized coal, and another plant in Port Washington.

Wisconsin Electric’s capacity grew after World War II. Between 1953 and 1968, the company built eight generators at its Oak Creek Power Plant. Soon after, it began construction on Point Beach Nuclear Plant, ultimately gaining a global reputation for efficiency despite environmentalist concerns about radiological pollution. To reduce capital costs, in 1964 it joined the new Mid-America Interpool Network, a massive power pool that synchronized efforts to share energy region-wide. In 1975, the company announced a strategic plan to shift energy consumption away from peak demand periods, raising subscriber rates seasonally. This decision encouraged legal action from consumer-rights groups. The region’s growing energy demands encouraged Wisconsin Electric to install two new coal-fired units at its Pleasant Prairie Plant during the 1980s. With the addition of real-estate development, investment, and technological equipment holdings, Wisconsin Electric restructured in 1987 as Wisconsin Energy Corporation. In 2015, the company changed structure again, becoming the WEC Energy Group.

In 1996, Wisconsin Energy Corporation’s Wisconsin Electric and Wisconsin Natural Gas holdings combined, eventually rebranding themselves as We Energies in 2002. As We Energies, the company began to develop renewable energy sources and reduce emissions, building wind turbines at its Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center and Glacier Hills Wind Park and refitting coal plants to comply with Environmental Protection Agency standards. Its OAK CREEK expansion site and its Port Washington Generating Station continue to burn fossil fuels.

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Lichens

There are upwards of 30,000 species of lichens in the world; some 2000+ can be found in the UK, a statistic easier for me to find than the number of species in the US. I will forever be fascinated by lichens because of a nature walk conducted by a park ranger at Acadia National Park when I was…. goodness… not even 15 years old. These strange non-plant-plants, these “things” that take the first step in turning rock into soil by knocking off the tiniest bits of sand from a giant rock because of the heating and cooling and freezing of water in the organism — I wonder at them every time I see them.


A lichen (/ˈlaɪkən/LY-ken or, sometimes in the UK, /ˈlɪtʃən/, LICH-en) is a composite organism that arises from algae or cyanobacteria living among filaments of multiple fungi species in a mutualistic relationship.[2][3][4] Lichens have properties different from those of their component organisms. Lichens come in many colors, sizes, and forms and are sometimes plant-like, but lichens are not plants. Lichens may have tiny, leafless branches (fruticose), flat leaf-like structures (foliose), flakes that lie on the surface like peeling paint (crustose), a powder-like appearance (leprose), or other growth forms.


But now, in my 70’s, lichens are a very different kind of inspiration. They speak of longevity and simply being. There’s no grand flower, there’s no massive growth, but there is continued life. Kind of like getting older as a human.

I don’t know about you but there is so much about the world around us that gives meaning to the way we live our lives. So many things we don’t have time to think about when we are younger no matter how thoughtful or into our heads we might be. The world is filled with wonder and we only need look about us to find it.

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