Sunday, September 13, 2009

Good Weekend

We had a TCU football party. Now if we were anywhere in Texas this would not be an unusual event, but in Wisconsin – they have not heard of TCU or horned frogs. So for those that came to our party we spent time teaching them about horned frogs and confirming that horned frogs are real. Our guests were good sports but more they are becoming good friends.

Good weather, food, game, and friends, makes a good weekend.
Elaine H.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What if...

I have finished reading Atlas Shrugged. It took me about 4 months but then again I was only reading it during my lunch hour until this last weekend when I decided it was time to finish it.

Now what to say about the book, it is long and wordy. I have read several of the James Michener books, and Ayn Rand is more given to long drawn out descriptions than Michener. (Wonder if she was paid by the word?) But like the Michener books, Atlas Shrugged is a good read – you must have the right attitude when tackling a book with more than a thousand pages.

Atlas Shrugged explores the question of what would happen to a civilization if all the inventors, entrepreneurs, the creative, the problem solvers, and the “doers” went on strike. What would happen if the people, who see a problem and then look for an answer, were suddenly removed from society? What if the only people left in a society were the ones that needed to be told what to do – not necessarily bad people but people who lack imagination, willpower, or courage to resolve problems. If the world was made up of followers, what would it look like?

The premise starts innocently enough – there was a need for everything to stay the same for a period of time to allow everyone to get caught up, for work to be completed, for no change. The government steps in and declares everything is frozen as it is on a certain date. Frozen – no one can change or quit their job, no jobs can be created or eliminated, no new inventions may be made, no new ideas may be introduced, and no new businesses may be started or businesses closed. As the government takes over control of businesses, the industrialists begin disappearing. Horrible accidents begin happening destroying mines, factories, etc. No one is left to run, repair, or solve simple problems, such as how to repair a motor, or take on the national problems of ways to deal with rising crime, food shortages, transportation, and economic woes.

Under the new economic structure, everyone is entitled to work even if the company is bankrupt. Those people who are capable of doing more work are required to do more work, while those that cannot do as much are expected to do what they can. After all, there are others that can do the work.

Everyone is entitled to whatever they need. For example food even if the farmers cannot harvest the crop for lack of workers, working equipment, or trains to move the crop. The idea is because I need it, it will be provided by someone – no idea who or how but it will happen. Everyone should provide for everyone else because we want to – to want to be paid for your services, knowledge, training, and time is to be guilty of being a capitalist. The book points out that being a capitalist (someone who wants to be paid for doing a job or providing a service) is selfish.

In this story, the capitalists win out because the civilization collapses and is returning to an era before machines and central governments. People become roaming bands in search of a place, a leader. The government leaders at the end have trapped the strikers’ leader. They resort to using physical torture to make him accept the role of leader/dictator so he will think, resolve the problems, and tell people what to do.

Today we see people who want everything provided to them – education (but not have to pass all those silly tests or pay the teachers), healthcare (but not have to take responsibility for what I do to my body or pay the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.), a home (but not pay the fair price for it), or transportation (but not have to pay the cost of the vehicle, maintenance, or fuel), etc. What would happen to us if our inventors, entrepreneurs, the creative, the problem solvers and the “doers” went on strike? What if the only people left were the greedy and the needy? Who would provide all of the things we need?


Labels: ,

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Pro Football Game - First Packer Game

We went to a Packers game over the weekend. It was my first professional football game - well OK it was a preseason game - but it was great fun. I was given the tickets by my employer, I felt quiet flattered to have been chosen for the tickets. The kickoff was 7:05 pm, we arrived shortly after 4:00 and there was already a big crowd in the parking lot. There was a large “tent” set up for a tailgate party - food, beer, and a band.

Our seats were on the club level-outside. This means we did not have to sit on metal bleacher seats and we were outside so we could feel and enjoy the ambience of the game. The game appeared to have been a sell out - preseason sell out. There were about 70,000 people in the stadium Remember this game is played in Green Bay, Wisconsin where the population is just over 100,000. So it is pretty amazing support for the team.

We enjoyed the game, the fans, the food, and the fun. I would love to attend another game but I don’t see that happening any time soon - but then again, I didn’t see this happening either.

One comment about the stadium and the fan support. I think that since the cheap seats are the ones closest to the field this helps maintain the fan support the team has enjoyed for years. In many stadiums the cheap seats are in the nose bled section and you need binoculars to see the plays. Green Bay has it right - the most loyal fans should have the best prices for the seats - the loud and rowdy fans that make the best TV shots. Of course, the seats are metal bleachers but the fans did not seem to mind - you brought a cushion and enjoyed the game.

During the half-time there were 4 very young football teams playing on half fields. When one of these young players (I would guess they were about 8) would score, the player would run over and do the Lambeau Leap - they had a little help to make sure they made it all the way above the wall - and the fans were faithful to pat them on the back & helmet in congratulations. It was fun and another way to build the community/fan spirit.

If you get the chance to attend a Packer game in Green Bay I would strongly recommend it.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Julie and Julia

This weekend we went to see Julie & Julia. It is a good movie – I would like to see the actresses be considered for Academy Awards. But as I think on it, it is a movie about so much. There are the relationships, aspirations, disappointments, blogging, and cooking. This is a movie that may be considered a chick flick but my husband enjoyed it so much, he is looking forward to seeing it again and owning it.

The movie does inspire you to want to accomplish something … to finish something … to find yourself. But I took away a couple of different thoughts. The first is the need in humans to accomplish things. Some people desire to accomplish great and public things – find the way to peace in the Middle East, be president, own a Fortune 100 company, find the cure for some dreaded disease, etc. – but most people desire to accomplish things that will impact their smaller circle of influence, their family & friends – be a caring person, raise children that love the Lord, pay all of their bills on time, etc.

In the film, Julie wanted to finish something and she decided to attempt cooking her way thru Julia Child’s cookbook. She set a goal – realistic but ambitious, found support for her idea, and it was something that at the heart she enjoyed doing – cooking. When we set out to accomplish a goal, we need to make sure we have these simple but vital steps down.

The film also set the premise of her keeping a public accounting of her progress using a blog.

I work in an industry that is going through great change and much hand wringing over the death of print media. In this film I am reminded, that print media will be different in the future, but the desire to write is not dead or dying. The desire to write is amplified by the web – blogging, online opinions, Twitter, etc. If you have any questions about people’s desire to write – just look at all the blogs, forums, commentary, etc. Look at me – a blogger.

Why do we blog? There are as many reasons as blogs. Reasons to blog include keeping in touch with family & friends, to influence our readers (all 5 of them), to express our opinions, and to explore our interests. Blogging is therapeutic – we vent our frustrations, “say” aloud our concerns, and want to hear back from our readers (all 5 of them). We can try out ideas for a story or a political thought. For some blogging is a way of spreading the word about what they are doing, writing, or projects they are involved in. Others find it a way to be in touch with the world.

But what is it that all bloggers have in common - the desire to write and the hope to be read and understood.

Go see the film. You may not become a blogger but you will be inspired.


Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 04, 2009

What do the phrases “Happy Fourth of July” and “Happy Holidays” have in common? Thy are both phrases used in place of the name of the holiday. It has become politically correct to wish people “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” This is to keep us from offending someone who celebrates Christmas, or Kwanza, or Hanukah, or other holiday, or nothing.

“Happy Fourth of July” is to replace “Happy Independence Day.” Why the substitution? I don’t know but am concerned about it. Jay Leno once asked people when is Independence Day, and the people he showed on his show had no clue but worse many did not why Independence Day is celebrated.

Are we afraid to recognize that as a country we made a declaration of independence - a statement that we are a free people with the right to govern ourselves. Those that signed the Declaration of Independence knew the cost - their livelihood, families, wealth, and even their lives -- could we do it today. Are we a people with enough backbone to make a declaration and be prepared to defend our declaration even with our wealth and life? I like to think that as a nation we are. I know there are people who believe that life is about getting along, nothing right or wrong, and those people could not have signed the Declaration of Independence. Those people say they support our troops but are first to protest when paying and supplying those troops is discussed. Those people welcome foreign leaders as rock stars even when then verbally attack our country and leaders. Those people lack backbone. Those people would wish you a Happy Fourth of July and have no idea what Independence Day is about.

Today is July fourth, our Independence Day. Have a safe and happy Independence Day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Remember Your Mother - all of them

Mother’s Day 2009. What does this day mean to people in the US?

For young children it means an opportunity to show off your creativity - paper flowers, pictures, clay objects, plaster of Paris hand prints, cooking abilities, etc.

For older children it is a sentimental reminder of what our mother has done for us, yet not wanting to be too sentimental or our mother will wonder what are we up to.

For husbands it means walking the fine line between showing appreciation for your wife, the mother of your children, and not alienating your own mother.

For women who are not mothers either by choice or nature, the day can be a mixed up mess of emotions.

For women who have outlived their children it is a day of sadness.

So on this sentimental holiday it can be very confusing to try and figure out what to do. The Bible says "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.Exodus 20:11-13 " You may not know what is the right thing to do on Mother’s Day but you know not to do anything is absolutely the wrong thing to do.

So, to the mothers that gave us life, to our “other” mothers that helped us live life , to our aunts that help us keep a perspective of our parents, to future mothers who give us hope, and to past mothers that gave all they could - I wish you the happiest of days!

Elaine H.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Community Event

I have been reading a book on the history of Wisconsin. Since I now live in Wisconsin I should know something about its history. Some of the stories I have read are so funny but the stories also help me to understand some of the reasons communities do the things they do. But nothing I have read so far, prepared me for Trivia Weekend. It is happening now.

This is the weekend when over 400 teams (there is no limit on the number of people that can make up a team) compete for a trophy and bragging rights – there is no prize money given. The university radio station emcees the event. There are questions asked 24 hours a day starting Friday at 6:00 pm with a great amount of fanfare and end at midnight on Sunday – 54 hours. I think there are about 10 questions an hour from just about any topic you can imagine. (Examples: ingredients on cereal boxes, the dimensions of a canopy downtown, the name of a copy company in one scene of a movie, a professional basketball player that became the sheriff of his home county, etc.) After a question is asked the team calls the radio station and gives their answer. A team may only call once – so get it right the first time.

Then there is the stone trivia which is sort of a scavenger hunt. Each team is assigned a group number and these group numbers are given clues on where they must physically go throughout the competition. They are to acquire 3 pieces of paper which will give them additional points to go with their points for answering the trivia questions.

The radio station is playing a wide assortment of music between the questions. They strictly enforce the time limit the teams have to answer the questions. Points are awarded to the questions based on how many teams called in with the correct answer. Some questions may be worth 200 points and other 0 points.

This year there are over 12,000 people participating. Some are not in the Stevens Point area and even though it is almost impossible to win the competition without participating in the stone trivia, they are trying. The newspaper reported an area soldier in Afghanistan is participating since the radio station is doing a live stream of the program.

Around town there are signs posted to indicate the headquarters of the teams. The pizza places have ordered twice the amount of dough they usually order for the weekend. A local ice cream hang out is open extra late to feed the cravings of these trivia players. More beer is ordered by everyone that sells beer – by the bottle or the keg. The convenience store is brewing flavored coffees until 1:30 am. An automobile repair shop put out a sign saying they could repair stone trivia wrecks. It is reported you cannot find a hotel room in the area during this weekend and that on Monday there will be a lot of people missing from work.

With the advent of the Internet I am sure it is easier to find answers to some of the questions than when it started 40 years ago. We had dinner with a couple from the area. She participated on a trivia team during high school and college. She said one year a question was what is the Pope’s telephone number. Long distance operators were flooded with requests for the Pope’s phone number – in about a 10 minute period. A question was asked about who was the all time money winner on Jeopardy. Our friend said she got the phone number of Alex Trebec and called him. He took her call, did not know the answer, but was flattered that she had called and thought it was great fun to be part of the Trivia Weekend.

I carpool with a man who said they had a pink dog house in their yard and became part of the stone trivia. When they figured it out by all the cars driving slowly by their yard, the children sat outside and waved to the competitors.

Since we moved here, we have been very impressed with how much of “community” feel there is in Stevens Point. This Trivia Weekend is just an example of it. Maybe we will put together a team for next year – does anyone want to join us for the party?

Labels: , ,