Haiku II: Weather, Beards and Teflon

I had so much fun doing my Insurance Haiku post that I decided to do a second installment. Writing a haiku is a lot of fun and I sometimes find myself counting syllables on my fingers at random times trying to make things fit.

My first haiku in this installment is inspired by the cold February we have been having here in Wisconsin. In the summer we say “It’s not so much the heat but the gosh darn humidity”. Right now for me it’s not so much the cold but the gosh darn wind.

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The icy wind cuts
to my heart. I am living
in a chest freezer.

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I have always tried to grow a beard. I do not seem to have the genetics for it. I haven’t shaved my face clean since at least November (although I have trimmed) but I can’t seem to fill in the holes and make my face look respectable. Continue reading

Insurance Haiku

I like the simplicity of the haiku – 5,7,5. I have two workplace related haiku. The first was inspired by insurance non-renewal notices. I have to type these out sometimes and to comply with legal requirements and for clarity they are pretty boring. I thought it would be neat to have a haiku version of a non-renewal. My Insurance haiku idea is:

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Your policy is
non-renewed. What losses! Find
a new policy.

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Much better then boring legalese. The second was inspired by a work meeting today. Our company had a slow January and management must be starting to worry. I think it can apply to most any company anywhere.

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Work meeting today:
you must work harder, faster.
Growth, unabated

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Do you have any office or work inspired haiku? It is kind of fun. Let me know what you come up with.

Spelling Bee Fundraiser Champ!

On Saturday January 24 I participated in the 2nd annual Spell Yeah! fundraiser for the Horicon Phoenix group that puts on Concerts in the Park, set up a disc golf course and does other initiatives in my hometown. I don’t mean to brag but my aunt, my cousin, my cousin’s friend and I were returning champs. So this year everyone was gunning for us – would we be able to stand up to the pressure? We may have had some confidence as our team name this year was “Do it again”

This year it was all team competition. The word would be said and we could confer but then a rotating “speller” would have to stand up and actually spell without help. If a team got it wrong another team could buy a do-over (this was a fundraiser after all). The competition was fierce and we purchased a few to keep our score up. Our team was really good again this year and out of all of the words I think we would have had 75%-80% of them correct. We went into the final “lightning” round with a score of 15 and a one point lead. The lightning round was new so we weren’t sure what to expect. One speller would get a chance to spell a word for 5 points. There would be no do-overs and no team help for this one.

Because the words were 5 points the words were very difficult. Team after team was getting the words wrong. However when it got to third place with 11 points the guy spelled flaccidity correctly and that put them a 16 points. This team was a dark horse and we were all surprised as we weren’t concerned because we didn’t know about the 5 point lightning round. The pressure was on. Second place spelled there word wrong. Then it was my turn.

The Queen Bee (not the actual name but the official were wearing antennas) gave me my word. She said something that sounded like “in-soo-shent”. I had no idea what the word meant and it was hard to picture it in my head. The game was on the line and I could feel the pressure and the eyes on me. I closed my eyes as I did every time I had to spell and said the letters out loud. “I-n-s-o-u-c-i-a-n-t”. The judges look surprised and to be honest I was too when they said it was correct. It was pretty exciting. Kind of like a three pointer as the clock expires or a Hail Mary in overtime. Except that this was not an athletic contest at all.

Overall I had a good time. I did feel good going in but you never know how these things go and what the competition will be like. Overall there were 8 or 9 teams and I think everyone had a good time. There were dirty rounds with suggestive words which kept the evening fun. This was a little awkward because both my parents were in the crowd. Some of the words I remember besides the winning one were sadomasochism, bratwurst, bankruptcy, promiscuous, pudenda, tumescence, intravenous, separate, frottage, and ukulele. (I guess the dirty words were a bit more memorable). It was a lot of fun and the money went to a good cause. Plus now I have two spelling bee trophies at home which would balance out my mantle place if I had one.

You can read more about the Horicon Phoenix at there website.

After a long hunt I finally found something on my list that I had been looking for:

My new Made In the USA can opener

My new Made In USA can opener

A made in USA can opener. It is an EZ-DUZ-IT can opener made by John J Steuby Co from St ouis. As you can see from the packaging they really play this up. I was delighted by the price – it was $11.95 – only one dollar more than the made in China one next to it. I did a “heft test” in the store between the two in the store.Plus I was able to purchase it a small local business on State Street in Madison. (Tellus Mater)

The can opener has a website but they must spend lots of time making can openers but not a lot on web design.

This thing feels serious in my hand and I am looking forward to using it to open chili, soup and other canned movies. I don’t plan on buying another can opener for years.

Film Review – Jack Strong (2014)

I had the chance to watch the 2014 Polish film Jack Strong thanks to the Polish Heritage Club of Madison and WUD Film and the UW. I really enjoyed the film. The movie is in Polish, Russian and English.

The film is based on the true story of Ryszard Kukliński (code name Jack Strong) who passed intelligence from Warsaw Pact forces to the CIA during the Cold War. It had some famous figures in it – some of who I even recognized (Jaruzelski’s glasses gave him away). It also referenced some famous events such as the uprisings in Prague in 1968, Gdansk in 1970 and the Solidarity movement. The martial law that was put in place in Poland was also in the plot.

I liked the acting – Kukliński was well portrayed. The character Ivanov, whose job it was to catch spies, was almost cat like and I would definitely not want him as an enemy. Leonid Brezhnev made an appearance in a somewhat humorous scene Marshal Kulikov (Brezhnev was on the red phone but there were so many other colored phones on his desk – how did he keep them straight?) I also liked all of the Polish names – Ryszard, Hania, Iza, Waldemar, Bogdan, Florian etc.

The filmmaker plays some tricks on the audience throughout the film so keep an eye out for that. Also the car chase in the streets of Warsaw was definitely not high budget but it was realistic!

Overall I liked the film. It had me invested in the characters, kept a high level of suspense and let me see a little of what Poland was like behind the curtain including the empty shops and family dynamics (Plus cigarettes and lots of vodka). If you get a chance to check it out I definitely would do so.

Carillon Tower

I did not attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison but I still have some favorite places on campus. One of them is the Carillon Tower. I don’t know exactly why I am drawn to it but I am. It is a sensory delight for the ears and eyes. Climbing up it gives some great views and listening to it is pleasing to the ears.

Carillon Tower
The ivy gives it a distinguished look.

Carillon Bells 1
Bells bells bells . . .

Carillon Tower 2
and more bells.

Carillon Tower clip
Click above for a short clip – enjoy!

Have you ever heard the tower play or gone up it? What did you think?

For information from the University about the Carillon tower click here.

For a good Cap Times article read this.

To learn more about carillon towers see this Wikipedia page.

Pitch Pizzeria Omaha

Pitch Pizza Omaha

My Dad and I ate here at Pitch Pizzeria when we were in Omaha this past June. It was the College World Series weekend and the place was hopping. We had two stools looking over the food area and could see the stove and the workers. The pizza was delicious and the drinks were refreshing. It had a nice atmosphere on the Friday afternoon we were there. If you are in the neighborhood I would recommend stopping in for some pizza.

Elk Horn, Iowa & the Danish Windmill

On my trip to Omaha this last summer we had a chance to swing through Elk Horn, IA. There is a Danish Windmill there. While we were too early to tour it I got some good pictures. My Grandma is Danish and proud of it so it was nice to be able to tell her that we visited.

Elk Horn Windmill 2

Elk Horn Windmill 1

There is also a Danish sister village called Kimballton. They have a copy of the Mermaid that is in Copenhagen. I got a picture with that as well.

Mermaid Fountain Kimballton Iowa

After we looked around Elk Horn and Kimballton we took the state highway versus the interstate. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon drive. We ended up eating in Grinnell, IA – it seemed like a nice college town. Some people give Iowa a hard time but I found it to be a beautiful drive with a lot of interesting things to look at.

Zesto

Zesto Pierre, SD

In 2013 on my trip to South Dakota with my girlfriend we were walking around Pierre, SD we stopped to eat at what I thought was a local little ice cream place called Zesto. (“Zesto is the Besto!”)

But when I was in Omaha this year I was surprised to see another Zesto. After some research on Wikipedia it looks like there are a few of them around but they are independently owned.

Zesto in Omaha

The word Zesto sounds bit like a medication or a 50’s cleaning product that you would hear on old time radio. Keep your eyes open – you never know what you will see when you are out and about.

Zesto Wikipedia page

The small town of Beaver, IA

Beaver Iowa is a small town off of Highway 30 in Iowa. It is pretty unremarkable to most but it holds some interest to me as my Grandma’s Uncle Morris used to own a tavern there. My grandma remembers piling in the car in the early morning in Menominee MI as a young girl. They would drive all day and get to Beaver. Her uncle let her have all the soda and candy she wanted. She has fond memories of these times. From what I gather he is buried in Ames, IA.

So when I was headed to Omaha this last summer I detoured through to see what was there. And besides the post office and grain elevator there wasn’t a whole lot going on. But the buildings my uncle used to own are still standing (kind of). He also owned the old bank building and I am told he used the vault as a closet. I took some pictures of them. The roofs have collapsed but I took some pictures from the sidewalk.

A few pictures

Beaver IA 1

Downtown Beaver

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