Saturday, May 15, 2010

The "I don't know what to write" post

Yea, you read that right. This is going to be the blog equivalent of a Seinfeld episode. There's really not that much to talk about...Sharks don't start until tomorrow...Cubs are being the Cubs...The big political stuff won't start for a few weeks yet...So what to do?

There is a lot going on internationally, but I really can't get too excited about it. Most of it is too depressing. Everyone knows about Obama pissing off the Israelis, so there's not much more I can say. The fact that the Japanese are getting more than a little upset about our military bases on Okinawa is a little disturbing. Granted, the base is over 1,500km from Tokyo, but I've always felt that our bases in that part of the world has kept the peace. China back in the day and North Korea currently have to take our presence in the region into account if they want to move against South Korea or Japan. Moving the bases out could be just the opening needed for things to get a little frisky.

Thailand has been an interesting situation and one that I admit I haven't followed as closely as I should. Martial law is about to be declared, a rebel general was shot and killed while talking to a reporter, and now the US is advising against travel and has closed the embassy in Bangkok. I half expect a civil war in the next few weeks.

The European economy is about to completely collapse. Greece is about to go bankrupt. What makes that worse is that the entitlement mentality that the workers have is not allowing anyone to make it better. Granted, the government isn't completely blameless. When you have an entire country that basically produces nothing (tourism and shipping are the biggest industries), it's really hard to stimulate the economy in tough times. Thanks to the close quarters that the European countries share and the other countries that are teetering on the brink, if Greece can't get the economy stabilized, Portugal will quickly follow suit and that could cause a cascade failure throughout Europe.

I know I should care more about this, but I don't. Yes, a economic collapse in Europe will send major ripples around the globe, but it's really hard for me to care about them when I cannot support myself right now.

Civil unrest in Africa and central Asia, economic issues worldwide, our usually crappy weather returns...Nothing really getting me motivated. Maybe the people who believe that the end of days is coming (or already here) have a point. Oh well...either way, it will get worse before it gets better I guess. Can we survive it?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I have to stop believing....

{sigh}

Really I did believe. Honest. After the Sharks took a 3-0 series lead the other night after falling behind Detroit 3-1 in game 3 I was ready to believe that this finally was their year.

Ohh...Too soon Junior. I'm sitting here, five hours away from the start of game 5 and I have no idea what will happen. After the 7-1 drubbing that the Sharks suffered Thursday night, my doubts came flooding back. Do the Wings have a huge mountain to climb? Yes. Do the Sharks have what it takes to close them out tonight? Absolutely. Will they? That's the $64,000 question.

It's hard to point blame or find highlights from that embarrassing loss. It was a team effort in every sense of the word. However, two things stand out to me on the positive side. Thomas Greiss. It's never easy coming into any game cold for a goaltender. A playoff road game is way more difficult. Having it be your first career playoff game in the NHL on top of it...it's amazing that Greiss didn't puke in the crease from the nerves. Instead, he goes out and plays two solid periods, giving up only two PP goals. Dan Boyle. It would have been easy to pack it in after the first period, and based on the box score, a lot of guys seemed to do just that. Not Boyle. He led the team with 8 shots, far exceeding anyone else. Add that to his nearly 25 minutes on the ice, the fact that Boyle gave it his all for all 60 minutes, he's the leadership the Sharks need right now.

Will the Sharks advance to the Western Conference Finals for only the second time in team history, or will we be forced to endure a game 6 on Monday? Only time will tell. God I hate the Wings.....

So much promise too....

Well, now that David Obey has run to the tall grass and given up his seat, you have to wonder what's in store for the rest of the Wisconsin representatives...

1st. District - Paul Ryan (R)

With the amount of national attention that Mr. Ryan is getting, coupled with the fact that as of this writing he's running basically unopposed, it's hard to see him out of his seat in 2010. There's a problem though. Despite what he may say, the RNC has to have him on the short list for presidential candidates in 2012. That would leave the first district wide open for the 2012 congressional race. If the Democrats are looking to pick up seats in 2012, this will be first on their list.

2nd District - Tammy Baldwin (D)

The problem with Wisconsin is that among the 8 current districts, three of them are so entrenched in their respective parties that it's almost impossible for the other party to make any headway. The second is one of these. The Madison area will stick with the incumbent Baldwin until she decides it's time to retire. With the $729,201 that she had on hand as of March 31st, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

3rd District - Ron Kind (D)

Kind, in my opinion, is the wild card in the state. He is facing a bit of a challenge from Dan Kapanke (WI S. - 32) for the seat, however with the issues that seem to be bogging down the Tom Barrett campaign for Governor, I still think that Kind is debating a run for governor. Kind is running out of time though. If we don't hear about Kind for Governor soon, he looks to be in a good position for another term.

4th District - Gwen Moore (D)

Short of Bob Uecker or Robin Yount setting up residence in Milwaukee and running as a Republican, Moore is another lifer from Wisconsin. It will be interesting to see where the census data ends up though. It does seem likely that Wisconsin will probably lose another congressman after this election cycle. Pair that with the fact that Milwaukee has been shrinking in population as fast, if not faster, than the rest of the state, will the 4th survive, or will it be absorbed by the 1st and 5th? Will be interesting to see.

5th District - Jim Sensenbrenner (R)

The third of the entrenched congressman from Wisconsin, Sensenbrenner is another lifer. Even if they redesign the 5th significantly, as long as Waukesha County is part of the fifth, this seat will be solidly Republican for many years. Even if a good chunk of the city of Milwaukee ends up in the fifth during redistricting (not a given by any means, but possible) there should still be a strong conservative base here.

6th District - Tom Petri (R)

The problem with the sixth is that most voters tend to be conservative and are rather apathetic towards their representative. This is partially due to the fact that this district is sandwiched squarely between the Milwaukee and Green Bay TV markets; too far away to be of any concern for the local news stations. Reasons enough to make the sixth the only truly unopposed race in the state. The district has been Republican since 1967, and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

8th District - Steve Kagen (D)

As a resident of this district for the majority of my life, it does pain me a bit to say this. This district is all about TV. If you have name recognition from any of the TV stations in Green Bay, you will win the election. That is the only explanation behind this district electing an allergist (his clinic sponsored the allergy counts on one of the TV station's local news) and a former news anchorman (Jay Johnson 1997-99). Kagen is by far the most vulnerable, but the bloodbath that will be the Republican primary (8 people listed at OpenSecrets.org as of this writing) will only serve to select damaged goods. All the mud will already be slung by the time the general election comes around in November. By that time, the electorate will be fed up with it all.

Once again, Wisconsin will be delegated to fly-over status. With one flip due to retirement (7th unless the Dems get a strong candidate quickly) and one and one hold for no good reason (8th), Wisconsin looks to be rather boring on the congressional side this November. It's a pity too...With the anti-incumbent tide that seems to be rolling in other parts of the country, Wisconsin could have been fun to watch. Well, if that's the case, I'll fall back on another Wisconsin tradition....I'll get another beer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bullied to death? WHAT?!

At work this evening, I noticed a recent copy of People magazine. It was the one that featured the cover story of a 15 year old girl from Massachusetts who took her own life because she was bullied. As a person who dealt with his fair share of bullying in school, I'm left to wonder, are the bullies getting worse or is it the bullied getting softer?

In my day (yes, I am aware that using that phrase makes me sound like an old fogey) it was considered a part of growing up. It was the price some of us paid for being forced into a controlled environment with a large group of people that, if encountered in the real world, we would have not been around.

I have a sure-fire way of reducing the stress of bulling. These hints, to some degree, allowed me to survive school as a member of the geek fringe of the mainstream. First is ignore and avoid. From my experience most bullies are out to get a reaction to make them feel better about themselves. If you don't react or if they have to hunt you down, they will move on to easier prey. Remember, your average bully is little different than the modern NBA 'superstar', an insecure little boy with a "look at me" complex. Second is join in. There is nothing more unsettling for a bully than a target making fun of themselves. This one is difficult for most high school students. In fact, I didn't learn to get good at it until I left school. Thirdly (?), change your routine slightly. Now this could cause a few issues. Like I said, most bullies are looking for a response. You just have to give them one they don't want. Sit a few tables closer to the lunchroom attendants. Start hanging out closer to the room of that 'rules are rules' hardass teacher that every school has at least one of. Pass by the school's offices a little more frequently between classes. Most bullies are insecure, but few are stupid enough to harass people in these situations.

A few things to avoid at all costs. NEVER get the school administration involved unless they have an anonymous way to report these things. All you do is make yourself a bigger target for squealing. Under no circumstances go to the bullies parents. You will get one of the following responses: "Who are you to tell me how to raise my kid?!" or "Oh, it couldn't be MY child. They are a perfect angel!" In either case, you get nowhere at best, and at worst you get an ass kicking.

It all boils down to this: your good friends and family are all that really matters. Everything else is crap. It's not worth taking yourself out over it. High school is the bottom. That's the point. Surviving it is what makes you ready for the world. There are always going to be assholes in the world. You can't consider suicide as the answer every time you have an issue with them.

Yes, I quoted a movie...so sue me. It doesn't matter. The message is still the same: