Thursday, April 27, 2006

Police blotter.

(Harvested as always from The Daily Press.)

Tuesday, 12:32 AM: Report of alarm being activated at vet clinic. Update, 12:46 AM: A cat had gotten loose.

Tuesday, 12:19 PM: Caller reported that someone had destroyed his daughter's swimsuit that was worth $25.

Wednesday, 3:02 PM: Report of vehicle suspiciously pulling into driveways. Update, 3:03 PM: vehicle driver found to be a mailman.

Thursday, 10:51 AM: Caller reported that someone is unlawfully depositing items in her dumpster.

Thursday, 6:45 PM: Caller reported that there was a yellow-jacketed person carelessly rollerblading in the middle of Engoe Road, disturbing the caller.

Thursday, 11:14 PM: Caller reported she was jogging on Main Street and a group of teens threw snowballs at her.

Friday, 1:29 AM: Report of several stray horses and a white goat loose on State Road 118 and Franciskovich Road.

Friday, 8:20 AM: Caller reported her sister stole $30 from her.

Friday, 9:28 AM: Caller reported finding two huge draft horses with white manes and buckskin coloring in her yard.

Friday, 9:38 PM: Caller reported a "questionable" online sale.

Friday, 10:09 PM: Report of a male who kept falling over while riding a bike.

Saturday, 9:30 AM: Report of a vehicle parked in the middle of the road.

Saturday, 7:04 PM: Caller reported an ATV driving on the sidewalk in front of a bar.

Monday, 10:53 AM: Caller reported that his neighbor's dog came onto his property and killed 13-14 chickens.

Monday, 8:45 PM: Report of a confused elderly gentleman at gas station with two flat tires.

Monday, 9:36 PM: Report of kids hanging out in cars shooting each other with BB guns.

And, from the week before the ice went out...
Friday, 6:52 PM: Report of an ATV in the water near the coal dock.
Saturday, 2:13 PM: Report of an ATV in the water.
Saturday, 5:47 PM: Report of an ATV in the water.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why I don't listen to the radio once I'm conscious.

I've never been a huge radio fan. Too much jibba-jabba, too many songs that suck, too many freakin' Brewers/Packers games on when I'm in the mood to ROCK.

It certainly didn't help that I grew up in an area with approximately three stations that I could tune in consistently:

1. The country station. (Have I ever mentioned that Hank Williams Jr.'s "There's a Tear in My Beer" was my favorite song from the ages of seven to nine? Yeah. It was.)

2. The classic rock station. (The infamous HOT ROCK, J96, which I swear to god used to just make mix tapes of songs and pop them in at the same time every day--literally, the Who's "Magic Bus" was on daily at 11:30 throughout the summer of '00, and I know because every day at that time I was scraping gum from underneath the desks & benches of the School District of Ashland. Ridin' that magic bus, indeed.)

3. And, what I guess you'd call the really "classic" rock station, AM 1400. (They played little else but Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streissand music, along with Brewers' games. In high school, when Emily'd give me rides home in her bitchin' 1983 powder-blue Chevette, the only station that would come in was AM 1400--so we'd crank up that "Music Box Dancer," roll down the windows, and get down with our bad selves. That's how we rolled.)

No clear winner in that bunch, is there.

But then, as much as the radio gets on my nerves, I've never been a big fan of cardiac arrest, either--so around the time I got to high school, I stopped using the terrifying "BEEP BEEP BEEP" setting on my alarm clock & made the big switch to the radio setting.

Of my three options in Ashland, HOT ROCK, J96 is the one most suitable to my listening palate. Yeah, they may slip some godforsaken Nickelback in there once in a while (which is neither "classic" nor "rock," thankyouverymuch), and maybe a few too many Rolling Stones songs (six per hour seems high to me, but then, what do I know?), but overall they do a fairly good job of living up to their name. There is rock, and much of it is indeed hot.

There is one major problem with HOT ROCK J96 and her sister stations, however (all three of the stations in town are housed in the same building, and I assume all owned by the same entity): the ads.

I'm not delusional, I know we live in a puny radio market and we're not going to get ads of the same caliber as, say, the ones in the Twin Cities. We're gonna get some Duluth spillover, maybe a few from down by Wausau and Eau Claire, a sprinkling from the U.P. and other than that, we're going to hear a lot of locally-made ads. That's perfectly alright, and kind of charming in a way. Many of them, especially the ones featuring local business owners talking about sales & such, are actually pretty good.

Ironically, some of the worst ads on our radio stations are the ones produced...BY THE RADIO STATIONS.

More specifically--they make ads featuring conversations about products/services...with the same DJ reading the dialogue from both sides of the conversation. Example:

DJ: Oh drat, my cell phone went dead.
SAME DJ: Hey, have you been down to Alltel Wireless?
STILL THE SAME DJ: No, do you think they could help me with my wireless needs?
SAME STUPID DJ: Yes, they feature the best wireless network in northern Wisconsin.
OH MY GOD IT'S THE SAME GUY: Do they feature the new Sprint Motorola RazR Cingular Wireless Catherine Zeta-Jones (whatever, I can't keep all these cell phone things straight) thingamabob?
LOOK AT THE CRAZY MAN TALKING TO HIMSELF: Yes, and this week they're offering free magic beans to the first fifty customers who come in and climb their wireless beanstalk.


(Especially to people who are just waking up???)

Some days the only thing that keeps me from switching my alarm clock back over to that hideous "BEEP BEEP BEEP" squawk of death (besides the fact that I don't want to die) is that every morning, they have some dumb call-in contest with a piece of trivia the average 12 year-old should know (proven by the fact that about 50% of the time, the winning caller is calling from a school bus on the way to town).

And every morning, the same guy calls in and regardless of the trivia question being asked, yells:


I love that he calls every day, and I love that the radio station puts him on the air every day. It's like clockwork. I could, quite literally, set my clock by it. Much like the "Magic Bus" of '00.

(I am starting to wonder if he's on Foreman's payroll, though.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The road, it was hopping.

About a week ago, it hit over 75 degrees outside one afternoon.
Then it rained.
Then the fog rolled in.

And then came the frogs.

It's an annual rite of passage--the frogs that went into hibernation in the fall come burrowing out of the mud and moss, and make a beeline for whatever body of water is closest. In the case of our yard, the closest body of water is a small pond about fifty yards from our house. That night, I went outside armed with a flashlight and my camera, theoretically just to snap a few quick pictures along the driveway (they're easiest to spot on the dirt, harder to see in the grass alongside it) and then to get back inside, since I'd been at work/at the hospital with my dad since 8 AM.

I wound up staying outside for over an hour. Because literally, every 5-10 feet, I'd find another one. It was like magic, or a horror movie, depending on your level of comfort with slithery things. Me, I'm quite comfortable with them.

I'd first noticed them when I was driving home from the hospital that night--little things jumping across the asphalt, catching in the headlights...I don't think I drove over 10 mph all the way home, I can't bear driving over the little buggers if I don't have to.

I'm the same way with turtles and garter snakes--if I see one crossing the road, I pull over if I can and try to whisk them across to the other side, to hurry them along to their destination. Ugh, especially the turtles, those poor things don't stand a chance anymore, the way people drive.

And it wasn't just frogs & toads out that night--the salamanders were bustin' out, too.

This has been going on for as long as I can remember. But this year, having been gone for over four years to a dry, dry place where I never saw a single frog, let alone dozens of them at once, the whole ritual felt new all over again.

You should hear them croaking at night--loud enough that it comes through the walls of our house. Amazing.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Rest assured, there will be no disruption to your meter reading service.

A little under two weeks ago, my dad went in for surgery to have his prostate removed.

He'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer back around Christmas, so we all kind of knew this was coming. Prostate cancer, we've learned, is perhaps the most treatable and survivable cancer there is--I think the survival rate is over 90%, especially for guys as young as my dad who are diagnosed with it (he'll be sixty this year). One doctor told us that virtually all men who live to a certain elderly age have prostate cancer and most likely don't even know it. After a point, unless the cancer's quite aggressive (which my dad's wasn't, really), most doctors don't even bother treating it--there's a "something else'll get 'em first" mentality.

Despite some mild side effects from the shots he was getting to hold the cancer at bay, he'd been feeling good the past few months, tending to his snow removal & Judge Judy rituals as usual. Honestly, if it weren't for the occasional doctor's visits and some new bottles of pills around the house, I would've forgotten entirely that he was even sick--and, as is my family's wont, the whole situation's been handled with our mix of Midwestern stoicism and humor that tends to propel us through most crisis moments into a highly functional sort of acceptance. A weird combination, I know, but then we are weird people so it fits.

Anyway, speaking of humor...the day of my dad's surgery the procedure took much longer than was anticipated. He was supposed to be in for about 2-3 hours, and it wound up taking over 5. When he finally got out of there & up into his room, and we spoke with the doctor, we found out why: once they'd cut him open and started fiddling around in there, they discovered that my dad had some kind of "superfluous tube" running off his prostate, which apparently isn't that uncommon. However, what was weird was how it was situated--in a way that neither doctor had "ever seen before," wrapped around a bunch of internal organs as it had likely been since the day he was born. Yes, we're talking phone calls to UW-Madison, people, to discover that my dad is a freak. (haha) :+)

Now my brothers are convinced that this superfluous tube is hereditary, and that it will be the source of mutant powers a la the X-Men...they aren't sure, however, if I'll inherit any of those, since I, uh, don't have a prostate. I guess we'll have to wait and see on that.

My dad will be home for about another six weeks, at least, before he returns to his post as a meter reader with the "local" power company. (It used to be "local," now it's run by a bunch of corporate whores in Denver, the source of endless bitterness from my father and consequently, the rest of us who have to hear about it.) His coworkers on the meter reading team there sent him a bunch of shut-off notices in his get-well card, the type that they hang on the meters of people who don't pay their bills--ahh, meter reading humor. :+) He's the last of the old dogs there, the one who's survived two or three company takeovers, and I won't be surprised if once he goes back, he's retired before the snow flies.

And finally, on an additional power company-related note: my boss opened our building's power bill this morning, and it said we owed $12,000 for March 29th through April 14th. Unless our building's providing power for the entire downtown of Ashland, I'm gonna mark that one up in the "error" column. :+)

Easy come, easy go.

Last week, it hit over 75 degrees outside on Tuesday.

And the ice never stood a chance.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Year 27

Monday, April 3, 2006: "Many of the hard lessons you've learned from the past will be put to good use in the year ahead, and they can become an advantage that you've never enjoyed previously. Use them well in both social & commercial affairs."

(The sun really hurts my eyes.)

Stickin' it to the man.

Courtesy of Emily, and her friend in South Dakota.

P.S. The cartoonist's name is Stephanie McMillan, and you can see more of her stuff here.