The Saddest Sight in Milwaukee

Milwaukee, WI: home to America's Black Holocaust Museum. Now with fewer letters.


Anonymous Ursidae

In addition to poor reproductive skills, Pandas also have very sensitive eyesight.



I think my secret admirer might be getting desperate. They're trying the old writing-my-name-on-their-body thing again. At least they changed up their username a little bit this time.

The Secret's Out

It's never really made sense to me why some people have trouble parallel parking, it's a very simple calculation once you know the equation. Just make sure you keep those FOIL rules straight when you're reversing, one misplaced exponent and the jig is up.

What's my secret? Never get into a car without estimating its k value first.


Risking Your Yolk

Not a Double Egg-Flip, a Double-Egg Flip. 

When it does work out it's completely worth it. 


Why am I upset? Because I didn't win, the Beige Blizzard did.


The holiday season has begun.

I'm not a person who passes up the chance to wear a tie very often. That sentence seems ambiguous but I'm just trying to say that I like to wear a tie. This tie isn't appropriate for most events that I am interested in. It is appropriate for holiday parties though, which are always events that I am interested in. I am also interested in Kermit themed accessories, so this was really just a win-win.

I'll give you $5 if you can guess what this leg belongs to.


1A-70A: First Names

Are you getting a load of all those first name clues? Seems unfair, especially for a Tuesday, since you either know them or you don't. Luckily for me Allen Ginsberg once spent the night in the house I grew up in. Total gimme.

A Thursday Night

Just hanging out in my jeans jacket and sweater vest; with kermit, and a cat around my neck.


Brics Apartment

I got an email this afternoon. It's addressed to gsc-parents@lists.wisc.edu and consist mostly of Japanese characters. The Grad Student Collaborative (GSC) is a real thing, and despite not being a student anymore, I still get their emails. None-the-less, the high Asian character content and my non-parental status led me to label it junk almost immediately.

Then the replies started coming in. As of 7:54 8:35 9:57 PM there have been 79 101 115 in all. Annoying at first, but then, as they continued, amusing. By my tally there have been 73 requests sent to the entire list to PLEASE REMOVE ME FROM THIS LIST. Intermingled with those have been roughly 17 responses directing people to the unsubscribe link at the bottom. Neither tactic seems to have been effective. And then there're the 26 requests for everybody to stop using the Reply All button, sent via the Reply All button. Very meta. This internet, so fraught with challenges!

A couple of my favorite responses:

From Shang,,,,,,,,,Ma:

From Jennifer Moore—provider of wise, yet irrelevant advice:

From TIM MACAFEE, who can not write in English:

I didn't want to be left out:

It's a lie. I'm very interested in this event.

Geographical Graphs

Madison had a snow day today. I may not have had a job, a class, or any other commitment that got cancelled, but that doesn't mean I didn't have a scotch at 11:00 AM to celebrate the snow anyway. Later, after finishing the crossword, I practiced my U.S. map. Did you know that if you set the Four Corners intersection as the origin, your X axis should go from -3 to ˖4 and your Y axis should go from -4 to ˖3?

Maine, Texas, & Florida still never look right.


Still Not as Bad as Improper Recycling

Despite my habit of regularly getting out of town, I really do like the city of Madison. There's plenty of "60 sq. miles surrounded by reality" naysayers out there who rant against Madison's leftist politics, but it's hard to see their point when the city is always getting ranked as a great place to live, has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, provides pretty extensive municipal services, and has a great public education system. Not to mention how much people from Madison tend to love living in Madison. And really, if you're going for a derogatory nickname you might as well use "The People's Republic Of Madison", it sounds more menacing. That being said, there are two surefire ways to hear me rant against the city.

Madison doesn't actually have a parking problem. Maybe it's because downtown is stuck on a ¾ mile wide isthmus which precludes the archetypal Midwestern city's wide airy streets that makes people think  it does, but it doesn't. Regardless of that, and despite the ridiculously cheap parking ramps scattered around downtown, people still complain about the lack of parking. None of that bothers me though; I hate it when I can't find a spot right in front of the place I'm driving someone's car to also. This is what pisses me off:

Are you getting a load of that spot's dimensions‽ That CR-V may well be an SUV for beginners, but it's no Smart Car either; it shouldn't look comically small in a parking spot. I'm 100% positive I could park another one of them in there with only minimal bumpage. It's like the city designed all of its metered parking stock to make sure it's prepared for the unlikely eventuality of the entire metropolitan area's populace deciding to sell their Priuses and buy F-350s. Not in the PRoM. Add to that the excessive use of yellow curbs throughout the city and sometimes I get a little rant-y about it all. Take this classic Madison Double Yellow for example [see below]. Why there's a need for 5 feet of yellow curb between every two oversized parking spots all the way down the street I do not understand. Let me repaint the parking lines downtown and I guarantee at least a 68% increase in total parking spots.

View Larger Map

Annoyance level: -4 Ws

Height Limitations
In addition to it's pretty good politics, Madison has a pretty good looking state capital too. It's all white and get's lit up at night and is apparently the largest granite dome in the world. The badger atop Lady Wisconsin's head sits 284 feet above the ground, which makes it the tallest building in the city. That's largely a result of state and city's rules limiting buildings within a 1 mile radius of the capital to the height of the base of the columns supporting the dome. Which in practice means the Madison skyline consists of 1 big white dome, completely surrounded by 187.2 foot high buildings.

It's all in the name of preserving sight lines, which I think is idiotic. A couple of tall buildings nearby are not going to block out the view of the capital.  And it's not like you have to give up all control over what gets built. There's still zoning commissions and design committees that every new construction project has to make it through. It wouldn't even have to be some big office building that sits empty all night. People want to live in downtown Madison; mix that use up and practice some of the sustainable, public transport oriented, anti-sprawl development you're always preaching. And get more than 1 bright white building in your skyline.

My feelings on this subject are clearly related to growing up in Philadelphia, which by the mid-1980s was the 5th most populous city in the country but still didn't let buildings get higher than the brim of Billy Penn's hat on top of city hall. Then people realized that didn't really make any sense and One Liberty Place got built in 1987. Then over the next 20 years 7 more supra-City Hall buildings got built. City Hall continued to be visible from almost every direction, downtown was completely revitalized, and Philadelphia ended up with a real skyline. Suck on that Madison.

Annoyance level: -3 Ws

[Philadelphia 1976 v. Philadelphia 2008]


This Wireless!

I spent the afternoon borrowing things from the internet at some pretty high speeds. It turned out to be one of your classic win-win-win situations.

Win #1: The 'k' Barrier. Goodbye 1,000 k/s download speed, hello 1.1 M/s download speed! I'd never seen that 'M' down there before and it felt good. Real good.

Win #2: The CIF Barrier. Which is sort of like The 'k' Barrier, but with different letters and a lot more emotion. Dealing with the post-Napster world was pretty unpleasant. There was KaZaA. But KaZaA sucked. Or sucks? I don't know. Is it still around? It doesn't matter, nobody cares. Luckily Rochester had the Computer Interest Floor, words I really never expected I would say. But they did host the CIF Server, available only to IP addresses from NYSERNet institutions, and chock full of really cool stuff. At really cool speeds. The world was at our fingertips! That 1.1M makes me feel like I'm back in college.

Win the 3rd: 5 seasons of Dennis, Mac, Charlie, Frank, & Sweet Dee on the Command Station.


Welcome to Mustache Week

Every year, as November turns over to December, a great change occurs on our faces. Our beards of November are trimmed and shaved to become the mustaches of December. And so it has begun—Mustache Week is upon us again. Someday I'll finally be able to pull off the Jagged Edge, but not as a 28 year-old. Instead, December 1st - 7th, 2009 will feature The Double Swoosh: One swoosh, next to another swoosh.


Double Bingo.

Sunday night finished off with some hot chocolate and a Scrabble game with the elder Barnebeys. They may have been impressed when I played EDITION, but they were browbeaten by the time I laid down SQUALID two rounds later. Good thing they believed me when I told them that ET is a valid variant for the past tense of EAT.


I made it!

I'm not sure I even care.


Wall of Twine

A little bit more Birthday Art; this one a direct result of the Twine Flu Epidemic of Aught-Nine. Are you getting a load of that stuffing job KAtie did?


Mustache Week Approaches

Anna and I made a giant papier mâché mustache for my birthday party. At one point we claimed it was going to be a mustache-shaped piñata. Then we saw it in real life. And covered it with months worth of my completed crosswords. At which point we knew we could never actually part with it. And it came just in time for December, the week of the mustache!

Plane, Train, & Automobile

In my time off I've been touring some of the Upper Midwest's better known M-cities (Moline here I come!), but I took a break and jumped on the Hot Train down to Chicago last weekend. It turned out to not only be M-less, but also cell-less. Good news—it still is actually possible to rendezvous at an appointed time without the use of a cellphone.

That's just what I did with Jeremy and Rachel Sunday afternoon.

Then we went for a long walk down this even longer pier.

At the end, we found the place someone had decided was a good spot to lockup their bike. I want to know what happened after they used 2 u-locks to secure it to this rusty metal rod (double lock!). Where'd they go, and how did so many pieces of their bike manage to give them the slip before they got back?

Then I set my camera to it's 1930's mode for one more shot of the skyline.

Naps with Kermit


Frog Flights

We all know that kermit loves to fly, travels well, and has both functional and fashionable swimwear; but did you know he skydives too‽
Kermit, Wisconsin State Capital, On Wisconsin!

Luck, Leis, & Looks

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to get these two messages in short succession. By Friday we were headed up to Appleton, and beyond.

We took this canoe trip on Saturday and had so much fun we came back to The Beach Club again that night, this time by non-paddleable transportation. It was a double surprise party(!), which is 1 surprise party topped with another surprise party, not a party with 2 surprises.

Luckily someone was there to take our photo with our sweet, sweet swag on. Unluckily, we didn't follow the photographer's advice to take one medium-sized step to our left.

[Not pictured: W. Barnebey]

Katie was even lucky enough to sing a karaoke duet with The King/with her by herself. It would be untrue to say that the locals loved it; they tolerated it enthusiastically. The Green Bay girls couldn't get enough though.

Kermit, Frogsuits
Kermit sat me down in the morning for a talk. He wanted to swim, I wanted coffee. Luckily the lake was only 51℉; His frog parts wouldn't have survived. Instead we had coffee and huevos rancheros motuleños. They're a Barnebey Family tradition; if you've even been to a cabin with me I've probably made it for you.

morning sun

We were on such a high after that breakfast we took on the fire tower without ropes or harnesses. Gutsy, but worth it for the peeps from the top.


In Which the Comments Go Offtopic.

This old Desert Island post has started attracting spamments in the last week or so. I was going to delete the first one, but they said such nice things about how I have done really very good site I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it. And then there's this XRunner 5.0 Palladium. If I knew where to download it I would definitely recommend to all, but I've never heard of it. So I can't. I am hoping that by saying it again I get a lot more people looking for it though.

I can't wait to see what the next comment is going to ask for!


Like Twines Through an Hourglass

Twine Eyes

Ahh, the magic of Halloween. Those Old Celts with their crazy pagan traditions have really put together an all-star lineup of holidays for the modern American tramp. Remember when it was just about the candy? Lame-sylvania. Now it's about the costume. And the drinking!

My Celtic holidays have been good over the last couple of years. A couple of riots in Madison, an obtuse reference with 3-hole-punch Jim, a possibly insensitive bloody Steve Irwin (2 months might have be too soon), and then  a Don Draper and Joan Holloway a year before anybody would recognize Don Draper and Joan Holloway. This year, ripped straight from the headlines, the Twine Flu. Which is like the Swine Flu, but thinner and ropier.
Twine Flu

LobstoMom, Twined, Lolita LobsterIt's surprisingly contagious though. Luckily the lobster only caught a mild case, localized to her wrists. They are your prime twine exposure areas after all. Unfortunately, they're also your most important de-twining appendages. We can only hope that she's had that LobstoBaby of her's immunized, children and lobsters under 6 are the Twine's most susceptible demographic.

When it spread to The Frog though I started to get worried. Frogs don't even have wrists. That meant it was time to pull out the big guns—the penicillin of rope, the kryptonite of string, the Twine's only known cure—the box-cutter.
Kermit, Twine Frog, Box-cuttered

In conclusion, beware. The Twine is out there.
Twine Woman

It's watching.
Eyes, Masks

And it will entwine you.
Entwined, jumbles

If I could turn back twine, I'd only change two things:
1. Even more twine.
2. Skip the Vernors.