Have a good New Year celebration, whatever it may be. I’ll be checking out for the rest of the year.
I leave you with this, enjoy and see you in 2010!
Have a good New Year celebration, whatever it may be. I’ll be checking out for the rest of the year.
I leave you with this, enjoy and see you in 2010!
While I was out shopping for the kids the other day, I caught myself thinking about all the toys I wanted when I was a kid myself but never got.
As many know, when I was growing up my family was, well.. poor. One of my most vivid memories I have as a kid is waiting in line in the Carson City community center for Government issued cheese and powdered milk. The memory is stamped into my brain as clearly as the plain black letters on the white background of the packages of the food we were waiting for. Despite our station in life at the time, we were able to have a good education through the miracle of Catholic charity which allowed me and my brothers to attend a parochial elementary school.
One of the more interesting things about going to St. Theresa’s Catholic school at that time was we were in classrooms with a lot of kids who very much could afford to go there. Several of my classmates had parents who were doctors, orthodontists and one of my friends was the son of the Lt. Governor (later Governor after we moved) at the time. The great and terrible thing about this is we had access to some of the greatest toys of the time, which is how every 4th grade boy rates his existence, but only while visiting friends houses.
On Christmas mornings back then, my friends were getting new Diamondback or Hutch bikes, opening a new Nintendo Entertainment System or ripping open the packaging of the latest Transformer.
At the Cody household, we would instead be opening up Go Bots (or their knockoffs) and other toys that were more affordable and three boys could share. Not that I have any regrets or am complaining by the way, I wouldn’t trade the memories of those Christmas mornings in for anything, and I appreciate things now later in life as a result of not “having it all” as a kid.
The one exception to the “I never got any of the ‘awesome’ toys as a kid” rule, is the one year my brother Scott and I got real Transformers under the tree. They weren’t Go Bots or Dashbots, but real Transformers just like on the cartoons! Mirage and Bumblebee.
Of course the irony was that we were so eager to play with them, we opened them weeks before Christmas and when we were caught opening empty boxes Christmas morning, they were taken away for good.
So we got by as kids tend to do, and like I said, I don’t regret it a bit.
But I walking down the toy isle the other day, I did feel some of that old nostalgia coming back, especially when I saw the G.I. Joe toys.
Again, for most boys my age, G.I. Joe toys were where it was at. On top of tapping into the natural fascination of all things military that young boys often have, we would always make it home from school to watch the cartoon at 3:30 where the slogan “Knowing is half the battle” taught us in a tough, cool way things like the importance of staying away from downed power lines.
Luckily for us, G.I. Joe action figures were also moderately priced, which meant that around Christmas time and birthdays we could expect a few under the tree to play with. If things were going well at work, or we had made a few extra batches of “Wisconsin Bell” flags on the side for my moms company (A whole other story…) we might even get an accessory like jeep or tank to go with our G.I. Joe action figures. Most of the time, we would end up taking our action figures and jeeps over to the friends houses who’s parents could afford the more expensive toys.
So in the interest of Christmas and keeping things on the lighter side for the next few days, I share with you my top five toys that I lusted after but never received as a kid. Maybe you’ve got some of your own to share?
The “Jetfire” Transformer. He was massive and shiny and huge and sold from the top shelf at Mervyn’s.
Star Wars AT-AT – Again, another huge toy that we probably didn’t have the action figure manpower to operate, but very desirable none the less!
G.I. Joe “HALO” Parachute Pack – I actually did get this for a birthday, but was only able to use it once as Duke and his HALO parachute were never recovered after their initial launch. Weather conditions were good, but looking back, the model rocket engine we strapped him to may have been a bit too powerful. He was last seen accelerating out of my backyard and towards Lake Tahoe, much to the initial delight of my friends and I.
The U.S.S. Flagg – Another massive toy. Looking back, we probably didn’t have enough Joes to actually man the ship.
1984 Diamondback dirt bike. Dirt bikes were a big deal in Nevada in the mid-80′s. This is a good example of a classic 84 Diamondback, although I would have preferred some axle pegs on the front and back. And check out the links on that chain. Awesome.
So what are some of the toys you look back fondly? Have a great Christmas!
As 2009 draws to a close (whew) and Christmas draws near, I thought I’d share a few videos that pretty much sum up both.
The first is a fun video that uses Google Wave to look back on 2009:
The second is a video that makes the case – which needs to be done every year – about what Christmas is really about.
On a completely separate note… Dear video producers: Please put the morphing 3D title text plugins and generators made famous in the movie Valkyrie and the Ford truck commercials away now. They have become the 2009 video equivalent of the drop shadow in Photoshop; overused but rarely done well. Every time I see this effect in use lately, I cringe.
Republic Airlways CEO Bryan Bedford must have taken the same “foot in mouth” public communications class as his colleague over at Associated Bank.
“Milwaukee is not a destination market by price. I don’t care how cheap you make it, you don’t go there unless you have to,” Republic chief executive officer Bryan Bedford said at the Next Generation Equity Research Airlines Conference in New York City Dec. 9.
The comments drew laughter from the audience, but Milwaukee business and travel leaders didn’t find much humor in Bedford’s assessment.
Bedford also told analysts that Milwaukee-area travelers are willing to pay more to book a flight on Oak Creek-based Midwest Airlines, which Republic purchased in July for $31 million.
“We have 1.1 million frequent fliers in Milwaukee and they will pay a premium to fly on Midwest,” he said. “They love that cookie.” Milwaukee Biz Journal
I have to question what kind of cookies Mr. Bedford is eating if he’s claiming that there are 1.1 million frequent fliers of his airline in Milwaukee. Considering that there are about 1.5 million people in the entire metro Milwaukee area, I would doubt that 80% of them are frequent fliers of Midwest Airlines.
While he may feel it’s funny to mock a city and the people who live here, but it’s just part of the bigger reason that his airline is struggling in Milwaukee and elsewhere.
The Milwaukee County Board will hold a vote today to either authorize or kill a study to look into the possibility of providing benefits for domestic partners of Milwaukee County employees.
True to form, my County Supervisor Lynne DeBruin decided to flip flop on the issue and voted against recommending to move forward with the study on Tuesday after originally supporting it. It’s frustrating to be represented by someone who folds under the pressure of a few special interest phone calls instead of doing the right thing for Milwaukee families. If the vote today is to kill the study, there will be a single person to blame for it, and that’s Sup. DeBruin. While some conservatives will praise her for the decision, she’ll lose a lot of support from those on the other side who see this issue as just another that she’s out of touch with the residents of her district about.
Despite the best efforts of those on the Right to brand it as such, this isn’t about economics or cost. It’s about doing the right thing and ending discrimination within Milwaukee.
I imagine a similar debate took place 30 years ago to decide if employees in inter-racial marriages could have their partner covered by family health insurance. Just as today, I can imagine the same short sighted – and frankly, bigoted – people trying to recast the issue as one of economics instead of one of equality.
As others have mentioned, if the County Board and County Executive aren’t willing to give same sex domestic partners the same rights as those in “traditional” marriage, those people should ask that the share of taxes they pay to the County be withheld. If you’re going to treat them differently when they’re on the receiving end of benefits, they should be allowed to be treated differently when they’re asked to pay their fair share of taxes as well.
If you had to name any single talking point for conservative Wisconsin politicians and their fan-boys on TV and radio, it would almost assuredly have to be the one about how “Taxes are out of control” or something similar about Wisconsin and Milwaukee bleeding jobs and business because the taxes here are just “too high!”.
In fact, there was quite a push at the County level over the last six months to make the case that any increase in the County property tax levy would force people into bankruptcy, they’d have to sell their cat to pay the property tax bill, etc. Many of you who read this blog on a regular basis made that point yourself, despite the fact that even a 3-5% increase in the County property tax levy would only raise your property taxes by several cents a day.
So imagine my surprise upon opening my own property tax bill today to see that not only could we keep our cat and stay in Milwaukee, but our property taxes had actually gone DOWN! And they went down by almost $300, a 6.1% decrease! Just imagine how big a deal that would be if my taxes went UP 6.1%? You’d have tea party patriots calling for recalls and refusing to pay their taxes because a 6.1% increase isn’t mentioned in the Constitution and would therefore be infringing upon their “freedoms”.
How could that be I thought? As long as I’ve been living here, I’ve been told by those on TV, in the paper and on the radio that sooner or later, I’d get fed up with high property taxes and just get the heck out of Wisconsin, and to boot, I had only my own liberal self to blame because I wanted a high quality of life, roads without pot holes, and the fire department to pick up the phone if I needed them.
So sarcasm aside, my property taxes went down this year, and I know a lot of other people’s did too. Not everyone, but a lot of folks in Milwaukee County will be paying less in property taxes this year than they did in 2008. In my case, it’s because our property value went down as a result of the continuing slide in the housing market. The point is that despite all the rhetoric and chicken little talk from certain people, property taxes can and do come down, and that not everyone in this County is facing an increase in taxes that will force them to sell their house and move to Arizona.
My latest column for milwaukeemoms.com is now available: Combat the “Winter Break Blues” in your Milwaukee County Parks
Sometimes over winter break, it can be hard for parents to find fun activities for their kids. I the latest column, I point out some of the options for fun winter activities the whole family can enjoy in one of your many Milwaukee County Parks. Take a read if you get a chance and keep the winter break blues at bay!
How’s that for timing?
A day after I made the connection (thanks to a commenter who corrected me about who the contract was awarded to) between a recently awarded County cleaning contract to a company owned by a man who contributed $1,000 to County Executive Scott Walker’s campaign, the Journal Sentinel decides to run a similar story.
Yesterday morning I pointed out that Edward Aprahamian, owner of MidAmerican Building Services, made a $1,000 contribution to Scott Walker’s campaign for Governor on June 30th, 2009. Last week, his company won the new contract to provide janitorial services to the Milwaukee County Courthouse, a move the County Executive had been pushing hard for since last year.
In tomorrow’s Journal Sentinel, there will be an article (linked above) that highlights exactly that.
Now I can’t say with absolute certainty that the journalist who wrote the piece for the paper sourced my blog without giving credit, but I can tell you it’s happened several times before and that yesterday there was an abnormal amount of traffic to my website from a network registered to “Journal Communications”. To be honest, it’s awfully coincidental.
I don’t have a problem with “journalists” sourcing blogs, or those who write them, for their material or leads. That’s great. What I do have a problem with is “journalists” trolling well known local blogs for stories that might have legs so they don’t have to do the hard work of doing the initial investigation and then presenting it as their own work.
How hard would it be to just include a simple line in that, or any article, that acknowledges that fact?
When they don’t, or can’t, or won’t you have to ask yourself why. Perhaps the continuing reluctance of the “traditional media” to acknowledge that many of the “citizen journalists/blogs” are beating them to the punch on many stories is exactly why the “traditional media” continues to bleed subscribers while the same blogs they’re ripping leads and ideas from are more popular than ever for local news and happenings.
The contract for recently privatized cleaning operations within several Milwaukee County departments has been awarded to “Mid-American Cleaning Contractors” by County Executive Scott Walker.
“Mid-American Cleaning Contractors” is based in Columbus Ohio, not in Milwaukee County or Wisconsin for that matter. If this sounds familiar, it is. Last summer, Walker caught some heat from local businesses for outsourcing his campaign website to… you guessed it, Ohio!
Never mind all the talk about creating jobs in Wisconsin, which is one of his primary campaign talking points. Twice now Walker has chosen to give work to companies outside Wisconsin instead of awarding the privatized contracts to local companies in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. He may be creating jobs, but they’re in the wrong state.
It’s unfortunate that instead of keeping our tax dollars here in Wisconsin, the County Exec is using the opportunity to help the economy of Ohio instead of the State he’s running for Governor of.
A good question from Bruce Murphy of Milwaukee Magazine: why do “virtual schools” get the same amount of money per pupil that other “choice” schools get from the State? “Virtual schools” have no building to pay rent or a mortgage on and none of the normal expenses you’d expect from a more traditional school. In addition, since they have more students “per class” than traditional schools, they should need less staff – the largest single expense for any school – right?
Yet, they get $6,000 per student that’s enrolled. The average choice school gets $6,600. Why does it cost so much to educate students in a “virtual” environment, and where’s the extra money going?
We taxpayers pay nearly $6,000 per pupil for the 3,635 elementary and secondary students who attend virtual schools in Wisconsin. This is one of just 18 states that pay for students who take all of their courses online. That seems odd from several perspectives.
To begin with, why is it so expensive? The major cost at any school is personnel. But as a January 2009 story in Milwaukee Magazine reported, just 37 percent of tax money going to virtual schools is for teacher compensation, and that figure comes not from some outside analysis but from the coalition representing the virtual schools. The coalition claims its schools have a 50 to 1 student/teacher ratio, compared to 20 to 1 for a traditional school.
I question the priorities here. The state’s per-pupil payment is just over $6,600 per student for choice students in Milwaukee. These are mostly small schools, probably with smaller-sized classrooms. They are personnel heavy. I’ve questioned before why we spend so little on choice schools compared traditional public schools ($11,981 per pupil statewide), but the choice payment seems all the more absurd when compared to what we’re spending for online schools. – Bruce Murphy
I think the idea of “virtual schools” is interesting and should be explored and utilized by those who want to go that route. But in this case – and with any “choice” school – my main problem is the lack of accountability.
The answer of course is easy. There is little if any accountability with these “virtual schools”.
And that’s just the way they want it.
If you’re tired of listening to the TV stations who are on DEFCON 1 because we’re about to get snow – in Wisconsin! in December! – you might want to take your mind off that and enjoy the a time when commercialism went hand in hand. Disco Star Wars!
Yes, it’s Monday.