Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dog Lovers, Beware of This Product!

If you love your dog, do not buy or use this product. In the span of less than 30 hours, I've had the string or tape break on two units. The consequences could have been tragic, fortunately, we were able to avoid serious consequences.

The product is the flexi retractable leash.

Unit #1, the one with the string. This unit is about 5 years old. It was only used a time or two since the passing of our dog, Bailey, who left us two years ago. We adopted sweet Neala three days ago and immediately began using Bailey's former leash. On my second morning with Neala, around 6:00 AM, she ran to the leash's fully length. However, when she got there, I felt nary a tug and she just kept on running. The string at its termination point within the product's body, snapped. Because it was early and quiet, there was little traffic and I was able to run down the loose string still attached to Neala's harness. Disaster averted, I scooped her up and hand-carried her back into the house.

Unit #1 - the old unit; note the string break
I imagine the folks at flexi would say something like, "Well, the leash is old. You should replace the leash once per year to avoid the string from weakening." It doesn't say this on flexi's paperwork and, even if that was their approach, I'd call it BS. I've got a nylon tie-our rope that Bailey used that I tested with all my might before trying it with Neala. That 5+ year-old rope is plenty strong enough to support my full 200 lbs.

To replace the broken flexi, my wife headed to our local pet store and purchased a new one (Unit #2). The string has now been replaced by a ribbon or tape. Apparently the string was causing rope burn injuries to people and the hazard was lessened by used of tape-like rope. The unit is said to be good for dogs to 33 lbs. Neala is 10. I took her to a park today and gave the new flexi its first good test. Neala spied a squirrel and took off running. I pressed the button on the unit to halt her progress and SNAP, the tape broke right near her harness. Again, I ran like the wind to catch up to her and scoop her up before she had a chance to enter harm's way.

Whew. Again, tragedy averted.


Unit #2 - the new one; tape snapped within 20 hours of purchase
This flexi has only been out of the package for less than 20 hours and has already broke. What has me most upset is only five minutes before breaking, I had her near a busier street and I had my full faith in the leash to hold her from crossing it. I shudder to think what would have happened had it broken then. I would have dashed after her -- traffic be damned -- just the same as I did when it broke in the wooded park.

This is a faulty and defective product and in my opinion should be recalled from the marketplace immediately. If you use this product on your small dog, you are taking an unacceptable risk. Right after authoring this post, I am returning to the store with the broken leash and my story and will urge them to take the product off of their store shelves.

Sweet Neala in my niece's arms. She is NOT 33 lbs -- 11 tops!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Columbus, Indiana

Inside Eero Saarinen's North Christian Church;
picture by me, Sept. 5, 2017
I'm totally freaked out right now. Three days ago we never even HEARD of Columbus, Indiana and we "discovered" it while flipping through the pages of NUVO Indy -- Indy's Alternative Voice -- while sipping a beer at Fountain Square Brewery in Indianapolis. NUVO was highlighting an exhibit of pop-up art on the streets of Columbus, home of Cummins Engines about 45 miles south of Indianapolis. On our return from Cincinnati, we decided to take a detour to check out the exhibit in Columbus. We had no idea what we were in for. COLUMBUS IS A MECCA OF MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE. I. M. Pei, Eliel (dad) & Eero (son) Saarinen [Milwaukeeans, you know Eero's work: he designed the War Memorial; he also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis], Myron Goldsmith, Romaldo Giurgola, César Pelli, Gunnar Birkerts, Harry Weese, Robert Venturi, and many more designed buildings for Columbus. We wandered the streets for hours admiring the architects' work and the vision of magnate Joseph Irwin Miller. Now here's the really freaky part: a friend of mine let me know that a selection in the upcoming MKE Film Festival takes place in Columbus. It's called, appropriately, Columbus. The trailer shows many of the same structures that we visited only yesterday and it starts out with the interior of the North Christian Church (Eero's design) which was the very last building we visited! [Side story: the people of Columbus were so friendly. We were peering into the front door windows of the church when the pastor came out. She said, "We're closed, but I'll show you how to turn out the lights and you can come in and have a look around." She did just that and let us to ourselves inside this architectural jewel. So trusting.]

If you're Jonesing to see something different, hop in the car and visit Columbus. It's about a four and a half hour trip from Milwaukee and totally worth it. Now here's the trailer...


Monday, August 14, 2017

It Only Takes a Spark...

... to start a fire.

This morning I’m ablaze with fascination for an event I’ve long known about, but never studied. Upon our return home yesterday from the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Bristol, Wisconsin, we stopped at the Bristol 45 Diner. Overlooking our booth was a poster reprint of the advertisement for the Winter Dance Party -- the traveling showcase of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Ritchie Vallens, Big Bopper, and Dion and the Belmonts. The date of the show: Monday, February 2nd, 1959. The fateful last performance of three of those performers as the plane they were to travel in crashed minutes after take-off on the morning of February 3rd.

That poster was the spark that provided this morning’s fiery interest.

I’ve long known about “The Day the Music Died.” Any person my age long knows about the Don McLean’s song “American Pie” and of its origins. A person born by 1970 has heard the song at least a thousand times. The Day the Music Died was February 3, 1959.



All I ever knew was that a plane carrying Holly, Vallens, and The Big Bopper crashed in an Iowa cornfield and terminated the lives of these three rock and roll stars. That may be all you know, too. There are tomes written about this black day in rock ‘n’ roll history so I won’t get into deep details here, but I’ll just tell you about the few things that I found unusual or surprising.

  • I never realized that the Winter Dance Party tour started out at Milwaukee’s Eagles Ballroom on January 23rd (then called George Devine’s Ballroom). The next day the tour played at Kenosha’s Eagles Ballroom. 
  • I also never realized that the tour stopped at the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay on February 1st -- only two days before the Day the Music Died.
  • What an insane tour route! Any tour promoter/scheduler that would do this to a group today would be fired. It’s like a crisscrossing web of travel of the midwest. I mean, Milwaukee to Kenosha makes sense, but after that it’s nuts. There had to have been a better, easier way to route this tour. 
  • Closely related to the crazy tour route was the insane schedule. They played every day and were scheduled to play every day throughout the tour!
          January 23 - George Devine's Ballroom, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
          January 24 - Eagles Ballroom, Kenosha, Wisconsin
          January 25 - Kato Ballroom, Mankato, Minnesota
          January 26 - Fournier's Ballroom, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
          January 27 - Fiesta Ballroom, Montevideo, Minnesota
          January 28 - Promenade Ballroom, St. Paul, Minnesota
          January 29 - Capitol Theater, Davenport, Iowa
          January 30 - Laramar Ballroom, Fort Dodge, Iowa
          January 31 - Duluth Armory, Duluth, Minnesota
          February 1 - Riverside Ballroom, Green Bay, Wisconsin
          February 2 - Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake, Iowa
                     *** CRASH ***
          February 3 - Moorhead, MN - The Armory
          February 4 - Sioux City, IA
          February 5 - Des Moines, IA - Val Air Ballroom
          February 6 - Cedar Rapids, IA - Danceland Ballroom
          February 7 - Spring Valley, IL - Les Buzz Ballroom
          February 8 - Chicago, IL - Aragon Ballroom
          February 9 - Waterloo, IA - Hippodrome Auditorium
          February 10 - Dubuque, IA - Melody Hill
          February 11 - Louisville, KY - Memorial Auditorium
          February 12 - Canton, Ohio - Memorial Auditorium
          February 13 - Youngstown, Ohio - Stanbaugh Auditorium
          February 14 - Peoria, IL - The Armory
          February 15 - Springfield, IL - Illinois State Armory

  • The tour continued even after the crash! This one leaves me speechless. I mean, I know the show biz mantra is “The Show Must Go On,” but what the heck is left after three of the four major performers are no longer on the bill? I guess The Crickets sans Buddy continued to play.
  • I had no idea Waylon Jennings was Buddy Holly’s bassist on this tour. How I ever missed this fact is amazing. Jennings even missed Holly's funeral because he was still on the Winter Dance Party tour.
  • Jennings was supposed to be on that plane, but he gave up his seat to J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) because The Bopper was suffering from a cold and could benefit from the hastened travel. 
  • The tour buses were unheated. These guys are driving around the Upper Midwest in late
    Waylon Jennings, 1958
    January and early February in unheated tour buses! Can you imagine? It was so cold on the buses that Holly's drummer, Carl Bunch, suffered frostbite to his toes (while aboard the bus) and was hospitalized! No wonder Holly sought a charter, right?
  • Tommy Allsup was also supposed to be on the plane, but he flipped a coin with Richie Vallens to see who would get the seat. Vallens “won.”
  • It’s been said that, teasingly, making light of the situation, Waylon Jennings said to Buddy Holly, “Yeah, I hope your plane crashes too!” Apparently, this last statement haunted Jennings throughout his entire life. 
  • The small Beechcraft took off at 12:55 A.M. in 35 mph, snow-swirled winds at 13 degrees Fahrenheit piloted by a pilot unlicensed to fly by gauges only. Yeah. Bad idea. No wonder the entire flight length was four minutes.
  • Forty-eight years after burial, The Big Bopper’s corpse was exhumed and examined. Rumor was that a gunshot may have been the culprit of the tragedy. It was thought that the perhaps The Bopper’s body would show signs of foul play. Upon examination, the foul play theory was rejected -- Richardson’s cranium was crushed but sans holes. He died immediately despite his body being a greater distance from the others.
  • Upon exhumation and study, The Bopper’s surprisingly well-preserved body remained impeccably dressed and perfectly coifed. Ew.
  • The Bopper’s son wanted to sell the casket his father was buried in for 48 years. Again, ew. 
  • Holly’s trademark glasses were not found until the snow melted in April. At that time they were given to the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff where they were placed in a manilla envelope and marked “rec'd April 7, 1959.” They resided in that envelope and office for 21 years until opened and given to Buddy Holly’s widow. They can now be seen in the exhibit at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas.
  • The stainless steel memorial at the crash site was crafted by a Portersfield, Wisconsin man. Portersfield is a small town in Marinette county not too far from where I grew up.
  • There is a similar memorial at the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay. (Note to self: see the memorial the next time you’re in Title Town.)

There’s probably a lot more that could be discovered about this tragic day, but I found all of the above to be surprising revelations. Not only were these stars live’s sadly shortened, but we, too, were shorted of a lot of great music. Especially from Buddy Holly. I get the sense he was just getting started and could have been an artist mentioned in the same breath as Elvis. He’s darn near achieved that anyway, but can you just imagine what he was capable of?

RIP.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mile 5, Random Musings

Now that I’ve had one day to normalize after four days at Mile of Music, it’s time to document a few of my random musings from this amazing musical festival. In no particular order, here they are…

  • Most of the time we hear recorded music first and then later, once we become fans of the artist, see them live. Good artists really make their recorded music come alive while performing. Mile of Music is a bit the opposite. In many instances our first interaction with the artist is seeing them live and then acquiring music from their recorded catalog. I saw a few artists at the Mile who blew me away and then I listened to their recorded music and the recorded music fell flat. It didn’t even come close to matching the energy of the live performance. So if you’re a band reading this, I cannot emphasize enough that your recorded sounded should somewhat match your performance sound. I know it’s not an easy feat, but often this is the primary means to piquing our interest in seeing you live. (This musing was written with one band primarily in mind. Nonetheless, I know it can pertain to all to some degree.)
  • Milwaukee’s Tigernite needs to be on the schedule next year. Energetic performances to all-original music that goes toe-to-toe with most of the rock bands at Mile 5.
  • The unsung heroes: the sound people. On the final day I really began to pay homage to these folks. Outside of Mile of Music, it’s not uncommon for a band to take an hour to properly set up the sound. At the Mile, it’s usually done in minutes and the best ones can make changes quickly and dial it in by song two. I saw a great example of this on the final day for the The Kernal’s show at the Radisson courtyard. Song one came across a little to guitar heavy and light on the bass. By song two it was dialed in and guitar, bass, and vocal could clearly be heard in equal measures.
  • Related to the prior musing, the sound people needed to remain attentive and responsive during the performance. The most common phrase uttered at Mile 5 was “Can I get a little more guitar/bass/drum/vocal in my monitor?” Often this was said during a song or even with a quick hand gesture. Again I marveled at how quickly the correction could be made. 
Graham getting the shot
  • How many Graham Washatkas are there? Twins? Triplets? Man, it seemed that everywhere I was, Graham was there. Lots of people worked hard over these four days, but few probably worked harder than Graham. His photos, though, are proof that hard work pays off. They’re great!
  • Fast Romantics. How are they not mega-famous yet? I know all performers at the Mile are good to great, but Fast Romantics’ big, catchy, and polished pop songs embed earworms that I cannot shake. They look good live and lead singer, Matthew Angus, is a captivating performer. And related to my first musing, their recorded versus live music are within about 10% of each other, i.e., their latest album pretty much capture their live energy. I’ve got a feeling this band is on the cusp of something big, but it won’t be an overnight success story… they’ve been at it since 2009!
  • If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times: Appleton is the friendliest place. Performer after performer made this comment between songs. I found it to be true, too. People seemed genuinely concerned about blocking another’s view, personal space was available at most shows in ample supply, and in quieter venues, a pin dropping could be heard hitting the floor. 
  • Holy highballs, Batman. People sure get drunk in Appleton! On Friday and Saturday nights I made my way back to my room at the Radisson along College Avenue after 1:00 AM. While I, too, had a few beers in my system, I could not believe how staggeringly drunk people were. I mean, I bet there was one block I walked where I didn’t see a single person who could walk a straight line. I saw one dude vomiting off the curb and another walked right into a wall. Another bizarre one was where one big dude picked up another and started spinning him. I thought, “This won’t end well,” and it didn’t. They soon crashed down onto the sidewalk in pain, but managing to laugh. They’re lucky they didn’t split their heads open. Sheesh, have a good time, people, but don’t hurt yourselves.
Smooth Hound Smith packed the house
at Outer Edge
  • Did you see Smooth Hound Smith? DID YOU SEE THEM?? Zach Smith could be a carnival act he's got so much talent. Drumming while playing the guitar and harmonica. I can't pat my head and rub my belly at the same time yet Zach seems to be only lacking more extremities to make even more music. Amazing.
  • While people may be super nice in Appleton, inebriation does cause them to lose good manners and etiquette. I was at a few earlier shows where people would be standing near quieter, more performance attentive people and just blabbing loudly away. I recall one performer commenting, “Thank you for letting me disrupt your normal drinking time.” It was said in good humor and not acerbically, but I really do think it was meant to be snide. This said, most people don’t behave this way, it’s just that the disrespectful are so easy to notice.
  • Calliope Musicals. Wow. I never got to see the early 80’s Tubes, but the 20 minutes or so that I got to see Calliope Musicals (their 2nd show was shortened by a storm), I imagine this is what it must’ve been like. I feel like jumping in my car and heading to whatever town they’re playing in next to see the rest of the show!
  • Another Milwaukee-area band that needs to be at Mile 6 is NINETEEN THIRTEEN. They last played at Mile 3, but at Mile 6, they need to play in the Chapel. I’ve seen them numerous times at, but the Chapel would be the perfect place to see and hear them. Janet Schiff's 105-year old cello just begs to be heard there.
All in all, just another great Mile of Music. I'm a fan for life and can hardly wait for Mile 6.

Peace. Love. Music.

Mike

Monday, August 7, 2017

Oh What a Mile It Was!!

Oh my gosh, Mile of Music. Where do I even begin to describe how special your 5th edition was? I can’t. It was overwhelming. In four days, in this order, I caught the following performances:

Levi Parham at the Chapel
August 3, 2017
The Kelson Twins at Rookie’s
Beth Bombara at Rookie’s
Morning House at Cleo’s
Ron Gallo at Radisson’s Grand Ballroom
Diane Coffee at Radisson’s Grand Ballroom
Brother O’ Brother at XTRA 920
Sun Parade at The Bar on the Avenue

August 4, 2017
Smooth Hound Smith at Fox River House
J.E. Sunde at McGuinness Irish Pub
Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers at McGuinness Irish Pub
Terra Lightfoot at Outer Edge
Erika Wennerstrom (Heartless Bastards) at Outer Edge
Levi Parham at Lawrence Memorial Chapel
Molly Bush at Dr. Jekyll’s
Swear and Shake at Washington Square
The Noise FM rock Mill Creek
Motherfolk at Houdini Plaza
Boom Forest at Radisson Courtyard
The Artisanals at Appleton Beer Factory
Fast Romantics at Spat’s
The Kernal at Appleton Beer Factory
Dusk at Appleton Beer Factory
Trapper Schoepp at XTRA 920

August 5, 2017
Morning at the incredible Appleton Farmers' Market
Strange Americans at Fox River House
The Harpooners at Fox River House
Terra Lightfoot at Spat’s
The Ghost Wolves at Chadwick’s
Arts Fishing Club at Riverside Bar & Grill
PONCÉ at Riverside Bar & Grill
Motherfolk at Washington Square
Fast Romantics at D2 Sports Pub Patio
The AMAZING Calliope Musicals
Bishop Gunn at Radisson’s Grand Ballroom
The Noise FM at Mill Creek

August 6, 2017
Megan Slankard, Jamie Kent, Bascom Hill & SZLACHETKA at the Chapel
Warbly Jets at Houdini Plaza
Desert Noises at Washington Square
Smooth Hound Smith at Outer Edge
The Kernal at Radisson Courtyard
The Hawkeyes at Chadwick’s
Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts at Spat’s
Me Like Bees at Emmett’s
Calliope Musicals at Spat’s

Most of these 41 were full performances too; only in a few cases were they not (Sunday we had to make some compromises). And the range of music is extensive: from heart-felt singer/songwriter acoustic ballads to full-on frontal assault sonic rock and roll. Mile 5 had it all. I’ll likely follow up later with further ruminations about this year, but for now, let me just say… WELL DONE and SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mile Five -- 15 New-To-Me Artists I Must See

Photo credit: Post-Crescent
It's here. It's here. It's finally here. My favorite festival of the Wisconsin summer: Mile of Music! These are four days where Appleton,Wisconsin welcomes artists from around the globe to perform along the funtastic mile that is College Avenue. Musical revelry rules the first weekend of every August in the Fox Valley's most forward-facing city. I spend weeks (months) annually preparing for it since discovering the festival three years ago.

To that end, I have scoured the interwebs and streaming services to further discover artists that are performing at Mile 5. There are so many great performers that it is impossible to convey in written form the quality of musicianship scheduled for Mile 5. They're all deserving of note. However, with only four days to take it all in, I've had to prioritize the new-to-me artists that I am most hoping to see. Without further delay, and roughly in order of priority, are the bands I'm most hoping to catch at Mile 5.

Terra Lightfoot. Her song "Never Will" is probably my favorite song of all from artists performing at Mile 5. I'll absolutely lose it when Terra picks those first few jangly notes of "Never Will" on her Gibson SG.

Never Will


Smooth Hound Smith. I listened to their entire online catalog three times just to see if they had a song I didn't like. Nope. Not one.

Stopgap Woman Blues


Fast Romantics. Anthemic riffs taking me back to the 80's. Plus, they're Canadian and we like Canadians, eh?

This Is Why We Fight


Julia - I've got to post two videos from Fast Romantics because this one with Fred Astaire, holy shit.



Oops. They don't offer a lot of internet optic candy. But they do box your ears with sonic rock and roll!

Dope Dreams


Swear & Shake. Missed 'em at Mile 3. They couldn't make it to Mile 4. I'm not going to miss them at Mile 5.

Brother


Desert Noises. Kind of a big deal to see these guys since I was a fan of theirs before Mile of Music was even conceived. Rock music from Provo, Utah. Did you even know that that existed? It does. Desert Noises proves it.

Shiver


Boom Forest. Local boy makes good and comes home. Boom Forest, "the spiritual wailings of John Paul Roney" grew up and learned music near Baraboo, Wisconsin, he's now a Nashville-based artist producing ethereal folk and haunting melodies. Beautiful stuff.

Splitting Wood


Strange Americans. Denver rock and rollers that captured my attention at first power chord.

No Punches


Arts Fishing Club. When I explored the list of new artists performing at Mile of Music this year, Arts Fishing Club was the first one I thought belonged on this list. Their video selections on YouTube are so-so, but I was captivated by their self-titled debut LP. Check it out here.

I See You | Around The House


Calliope Musicals. Winner of the Band of the Year Award at the 2017 Austin Music Awards during SXSW, I cannot watch videos of this band and not think they'll be extraordinary.

Live Experience Album Trailer


I Am The Polish Army. Not too different of a story from Boom Forest, only instead of Baraboo, Appleton, and instead of Nashville, Brooklyn (singer/songwriter Emma DeCorsey grew up in Appleton). This band is all sorts of intriguing.

David Bowie


Bishop Gunn. When you here it, you immediately think, "These guys must be from Natchez!" and you're absolutely right.

Bank Of The River


The Blisters. Alright. I'll confess. I'm intrigued by The Blisters' drummer: Spencer Tweedy, son of Jeff and co-member of Tweedy. But I've listened to The Blisters enough to know that they don't need the help of anybody to make it on their own.

Through You


Good Night, Gold Dust. Hard for me to pin this band down. Their sound varies from folkish to glam rock. No matter, labels need not apply. I like them (even if they are from Minnesota).

Towards The Sun


GGOOLLDD. You might be thinking, "GGOOLLDD? Surely, Mike, GGOOLLDD is not new to you!" and you'd mostly be right. But the problem is I've never seen GGOOLLDD well. I always see them from a quarter mile away at Summerfest and even then only for a few songs. I'd really like to at least once see them well and I think that will be possible at Mile 5.

Dance Through The Winter


I know there are many other worthy artists to catch at Mile 5, and we'll see as many as we can, but these 15 are the ones that have caught my attention and I'm greatly looking forward to catching their shows.

Peace. Love. Music. ROCK! See ya.

Monday, July 31, 2017

I'm Totally Bummed

I'm down because of something that occurred this morning. I had an appointment to donate plasma at the Blood Center of Wisconsin and things didn't go exactly as planned. In fact, it was an abject failure and no fault of anybody.

I was one of the first appointments of the day. I arrived a few minutes before 7:45 and completed the usual preparations. Hemoglobin check, blood pressure, weight, height, and no, I have not had sexual relations with an HIV-positive prostitute since my last donation. I also answered no, too, to the all of the questions that pertain to the female gender. (This must confuse a lot of men, because every time I donate they tell me how to answer these questions in a manner that tells me these questions baffle other dudes.) I make my way to the chair and get hooked up. Made it right through the "light bee sting" pinch of the needle entering my vein. I glance over, the clear plastic tube is flooded ravishing red. I'm good to go. Just settle in and read a book for the next 30 minutes and my donation will be complete. Right? Right...

After about five minutes, Tiffany -- sweet, friendly, and cautious Tiffany -- asks me if I feel okay. Yep, I said. I'm good. Let's donate some plasma! But she said that she noticed something odd on the digital graph she was watching. I flat-lined for a moment, meaning, apparently, that stuff was either not going out or coming back properly.

She remained on standby while I kept squeezing the spongy green squeezing thingy.

Suddenly I yelped, "Ow. Oww! Owww!! OWWWWW!!!"

Everyone looks. What's with that dude?? Tiffany says I infiltrated. She shuts down the process and pulls the needle from my arm.

"Infiltrated? What the heck is that??"

She apologetically explains that it means the fluids, i.e., the red blood cells and stuff, that are being returned to my body are not reentering my vein. Instead they are being pushed into the tissues surrounding the vein. Hence the reason for the pain.

I can only describe the pain as an increasingly intense sting or pinch. Almost feeling like the needle was plunging further into my arm. Of course it wasn't, but because the flesh and nerves around the needle swelled, it probably made the needle feel larger.

She cleans me up and applies gauze. There would be no plasma donation today.

Thus, I am bummed. I went through all of the steps including the one that makes me the most woozy -- the needle insertion -- and nobody benefited. My instructions are to ice my arm and not do anything overly strenuous today. I can also expect a significant bruise on my arm.

Son of a gun. I can take the wooziness. I can take the bruise. I can take the pain. But dammit, I wanted somebody to benefit from it!

I can attempt donation again when the bruise and swelling disappear, but next time I thinking of only donating blood -- which is a one-way only process -- and skipping the plasma. Furthermore, I believe in vital fluids donation, I really do, but this is the second time in four attempts that the extraction has gone awry. It's so frustrating.

Lastly, please try to donate if you can. I was the poster boy for needle or syringe insertion panic attacks. The mere thought of it would make me woozy and I'd nearly faint, but I just kept going to overcome it. I mean, what's a little sting to save another's life? ("little sting" for a normal donation; today's donation attempt defied normal)

But I did get a free ticket to the Wisconsin State Fair! So that lessens the bum. :)