Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Lennon - Rest in Peace

Kicking back with a glass of wine listening to John Lennon via Power to the People - The Hits.

I came late to the I-get-the-Beatles party. In 2004/5, an album was released with various artists performing songs from the album Rubber Soul [This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul]. During an NPR interview with the modern artists who contributed to this album, I could hear the sheer adoration they had for the Beatles and this album. I did not run out and buy the tribute album (as NPR might have hoped), but I ran out and bought The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. And. I. Loved. It.

I started picking up the Beatles albums in the order that they were released from Rubber Soul. It gave me so much more perspective of their short career to listen to the albums in chronological order. And, as a hack basement guitarist, I burrowed into a massive Beatles sheet music tome that had been given to me as a Christmas present a year or two earlier. By playing along, I was stricken by the musicianship of the band and the wide variety of styles they were creating.

I don’t have a favorite Beatle. Like all great bands, they were greater than the sum of their parts. I can’t imagine the band without any single member. Each brought their signature, recognizable style: Lennon’s heavy, provocative lyrics; McCartney’s pop sensibilities and virtuosity; George, I mean c’mon, George could bend the strings in straightforward melodic solo manner in a way NO guitarists are doing even today; and Ringo, the rhythmic master. Ringo may have been the member whose style first grabbed me. The Beatles parted ways with Pete Best because of Best’s snare-bass-snare thuds, but Ringo added a smoothness to the percussion backbeat that - like George’s solos - remains unparalleled to my ears today.

I recall watching Monday Night Football when they broke in and announced John Lennon’s murder. I was stunned. I was shocked. I didn’t yet grasp a full appreciation of the Lennon’s artistic legacy, but I knew a very important person was gone from our world. Thirty years have passed and I am still saddened.

John Lennon, rest in peace. Thank you for the inspiration.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

#PushMike Anniversary

This was a strangely special anniversary in my running life.

A year ago there was a challenge going 'round on dailymile: Run 110 miles in the month of December. Anne M. (Munkwitz and/or @bananza) sent me the invite. Was I up to this task?! Probably not, but on December 1, 2009 I headed out the door on a cold morning and ran 4 miles. I remember it was 4 because I was proud to have "banked" about an extra half mile that day [I think it had to average 3.5 miles per day to get to 110].

After a few days of running I thought, how can I make this more fun and more motivating? I came up with the #PushMike idea - if my friends stayed on me and pushed me, when I reached 110 miles, I would buy $110 of beer and soda (well, mostly beer) and throw a party. [Read the text of the original post here: See pictures from the bash here:].

Well I got to 110 and we had the party, and oh what a party it was. I think I undid all the healthy running that I did in December in just one night, but it sure was fun getting to that point. The #PushMike concept worked perfectly and it was fun to get daily motivation from my Twitter and Dailymile friends. A year later, I still love see the hashtag #PushAnne #PushAmy #PushSanchez or #PushAnybody.

Thanks to super-duper human bean Anne Munkwitz for being the instigator of this fun challenge. Anne, 'til we run together again... your pal, Mike :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Raclette Roll!

It was a tough exercising tonight. Maybe it was 36 hours of the miniest of mini vacations one can take. We drove from Milwaukee to New Glarus for a day & night of fun and frivolity. Have you been to New Glarus? It's a small town with lots of character and a Swiss heritage.

The New Glarus brewery is the main draw, but the little pubs and restaurants in the town are the real stars. After the brewery we hit The Glarner Stube for some more New Glarus Brewing Co. beers and roasted red peppers with garlic in olive oil. This place is a Wisconsin classic; check it out when you can: Then we hit the New Glarus Hotel ( where I had one of my favorite things ever: Raclette! Raclette is actually a soft warm cheese, but dishes that use Raclette may also be called Raclette. The menu's description of it is as follows: Famous Swiss appetizer made with middle aged Raclette cheese melted over boiled potatoes and garnished. Let me tell you, if I had any inclination of ever becoming a vegetarian it would be because of this dish. My Jaeger Schnitzel that followed was darn near as good, but the Raclette...oh my. And it pairs well with beer too. A double-edged fitness killer, but one I can't wait to have again.

To further dig the hole, the hotel had homemade swiss pastries for their Continental breakfast. I am not one to ever pass up a pastry, but these golden delicacies were outstanding. I couldn't stop myself and I reasoned that I need the nourishment for the ensuing 18 holes of golf we were about to play at the Edelweiss Chalet CC ( What a fantastic day it was for golf too. Quiet, sunny, and warm. We breezed through 18 holes with a cart in just a little over 4 hours. And what do you after 18 holes? That's right. Lunch.

Lunch was at another ultra classic: Puempel's Olde Tavern ( This place is like stepping back in time. 150 years worth of time to be exact. Many of the pictures on the wall are over 100 years old of the same tavern! And what kind of classic food can you get at this historic establishment? Sandwiches. Simple, perfect sandwiches. My wife had the braunschweiger and I went with the salami. The salami was stacked about a half-inch thick on a couple slices of rye bread. Squeeze on a couple of the "squishees" (mayo and mustard) as the barkeep called 'em and I was in heaven. Sandwich served with a bag of chips and a pickle. Grand total: $4.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that tonight's run was a tough one, but despite all of the delicasies I enjoyed, I still have to blame the Raclette. Oh my lovely Raclette. I will dream about you tonight.

Last thing, dang I love the state of Wisconsin. There are so many cool, off-beaten-path places to explore and discover. And the natural beauty of this place is truly astounding. It crept up on me over the years, but now I can loudly proclaim that I am proud to call this state my home.

Oh, I almost forgot the fudge. (

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cal Higdon's 3-Miles Per Week Training Program

Who is Cal Higdon, you ask? Well he is none other than the younger, chain-smoking, beer-swilling, and under-appreciated brother of the famed marathoner Hal Higdon ( Cal's instructing methods are revolutionary. I've maintained his traing regimen faithfully all summer to maintain an at-a-moment's notice preparation for any 5K run occurring 6 months from now. Cal teaches one the value of time management. For instance, by running 2 miles instead of 4, one gains X * the number of miles not ran ÷ average mile running pace of beer-drinking time (Math. Don't be intimidated - Cal makes it easy in his book using a 6-pack as an example). Cal's program has saved me from countless hours of running with his straightforward approach.

And it doesn't stop there. I credit Cal with taking my 9:30 per mile pace down to 4:57 with his unique technique. Reading it, you'll think, "Why didn't I think of that?!" Simply, at the start of your run, find a nice, fresh pile of dog mess, step in it, and try to outrun the stink. No duh, right?! I used this method regularly for an entire week and rapidly dropped 4 minutes off of my average pace. Who knows how fast I could have gotten if it wasn't for my wife throwing out my shoes. She thought my foot odor was too strong and storing them under the bed just wasn't appropriate. Women.

And on nutrition - the guy's a friggin' genius. I've ate the biggest, most satiating lunches ever since discovering his simple technique: eat a lunch so big that you cannot possibly lose it all during the evening's run. Added benefit: the lunch you don't lose will serve as a necessary base for a night's worth of drinking. By beer #7, you'll agree - Cal is The Man.

Now excuse me while I begin Chapter 10 - Lose the Popsicle Stick; How to Use a Foam Roller to Remove the Excess Head Off of Your Pint.

Look for Cal's book wherever fine bathroom reading materials are sold.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Joy of Spectating a Marathon

Today I did something that I have never done before - I went to the finishing area of a marathon just to watch. Milwaukee’s Lakefront Marathon to be specific, and, to my delight, it was a genuine joy to witness.

My primary reason for going was to show support for many of the runners and friends that supported me at my first marathon last May [The Wisconsin Marathon May 1st in Kenosha]. However, I was caught off-guard by the spirit and encouragement I suddenly bequeathed to runners unbeknown to me. Smilers, groaners, high-fivers, limpers - all pushing themselves to their limit 100 yards from the 26.2 mile goal. It’s an impressive spectacle.

We watch televised sports to see extraordinary athletes do extraordinary things, but to observe average folks exert every ounce into reaching their Herculean goal is equally interesting. I saw one woman - whose time was quite impressive in the 3:40ish range - dragged across the finish line by 2 of her friends. She must’ve ran an impressive pace, but cramps, dehydration, or fatigue finally caught up with her just yards from the finish line. I couldn’t help but get a lump in my throat watching this - what an amazing sight! Another fellow looked about the same way I did - muscle fatigue finally caught up with him and placing one foot in front of another nearly became impossible. I gave this guy my loudest, “You can do this!!” because I felt like I was yelling at myself. I know EXACTLY how he was feeling.

Then there’s the smilers, laughers, and high-fivers - this breed knows that all of their difficult training over the previous 4 months (or longer!) is about to pay off. They’re pumped. They’re the ones who are going to pass the water, orange juice, and Muscle Milk and head right to the beer stand. They have a reason to celebrate. These people inspire me. I want to be one of them.

So the next time you get the chance, whether you know anybody in the race or not, check out the finish line of a marathon. It’s inexpensive and the range of emotions you will experience will surpass the biggest blockbuster showing at your local cineplex. Heck, you can even bring your own popcorn.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Night Madness

The date was Sept. 11, 1995. Three friends and I drove to Chicago for the Packer Monday nighter against the Bears. Due to Chicago traffic, we got to the game a bit later than we wished - we walked through the stadium’s gate right at kick-off. One of my friends - the one who got the tickets - is handicapped (paraplegic due to a collision in a high school football game).

We weren’t sure where to go as the Section and Seat numbers didn’t make sense according the usual stadium arrangement. We showed our tickets to an usher - he shrugged. “I have no idea where those seats are,” he said. We walked on. Saw another usher and asked again. We got the identical response. We continued on thinking, “This can’t be this hard!” We approached an area that - per our deductive reasoning - seemed like it should be the spot. Again, nothing. By this time we were getting rather angry.

At last found an usher who, again, couldn’t help us. This time I went GONZO! “What the bleep bleep is going on here!? We’ve got four $75 tickets and nobody knows where the bleep our seats are!” I yelled. I actually yelled more and louder than that and I did not say “bleep.”  The usher said, “One moment, I’ll get my supervisor.”

At last a helpful person appeared. She said, “Oh my. No wonder you’re having such difficultly. Your seats are not in the stands - they’re on the field!” She escorted us to an area where we actually entered the field from the south endzone tunnel. Because of my friend’s handicap, they let him wheel right up to the fence behind the endzone. For us, they had metal folding chairs. We were thrilled to finally have found our seats and were amazed at how good they were! Four Packer-clothes wearing cheeseheads under the south endzone goalpost crossbar!

To make things even crazier, the very first play from scrimmage we saw was happening, oh, about 110 yards away. The longest play in Packers history occurred just as we rested our butts in our seats - Brett Favre to Robert Brooks for a 99-yard touchdown! Man, did we go nuts. Four (just a little) drunken cheeseheads celebrating under the goalpost in front of 60,000 fibs. What fun! [No. 8 on Favre highlight reel below.]

The weirdness didn’t stop there either. Do you remember that mullet-headed goofball who jumped out of the stands and caught the extra-point ball as he fell into the tunnel? That happened right over our heads too. When it was national video, I could see us sitting under the goalpost. I was the only one of us four who saw this nutball. I turned to my buds and said, “Did you see that?!” They didn’t and had to wait until the next morning to see it on TV.

Well that was one great night I tell ya. One of us four got a little out-of-control by game’s end (despite your expectation, it was not me!). Not only was the Packers victory at Soldier Field a hell of a lot of fun, but we were also very fortunate to have made it out of there alive.

Here’s hoping for a Packers’ repeat performance in Chicago tonight.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Keep Smiling!

Good friends of ours - and friends to many of you - have had a year unlike any other. Saying it’s been a bad year is unjust - it has been a terrible year. The kind of year that you would think twice about wishing upon your worst enemy. As friends, we hope to do our part by showing love and support, but we're always wishing we could do more, and short of being a neuro or colorectal surgeon, there’s little we can do but wish for rapid and painless recovery.
However, we had an idea. Why not do something that we KNOW will improve the life of another and do it in their honor? There’s got to be some healing power in that, right? In the past year, we’ve donated to many different charities in order to help many well-meaning friends reach fund-raising goals [a noble and selfless endeavor to be sure!], but we’ve neglected a charity which is dear to our heart - SmileTrain (
Unlike many charities that do many different things, The SmileTrain mission is focused on solving a single problem: cleft lip and palate.
Clefts are a major problem in developing countries where there are millions of children who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. Most cannot eat or speak properly. Aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job. And face very difficult lives filled with shame and isolation, pain, and heartache.
The good news is every single child with a cleft can be helped with surgery that costs as little as $250 and takes as little as 45 minutes.
SmileTrain’s mission:
  • To provide free cleft surgery for millions of poor children in developing countries.
  • To provide free cleft-related training for doctors and medical professionals.
And do it until there are no more children who need help and we have completely eradicated the problem of clefts.
So with that mission in mind, we are pleased to make a donation of $50 to SmileTrain with our friend's rapid recovery in mind. $50 is enough to cover the cost of the medications used in the procedure. It is our hope that it will brighten our friends’ day knowing that somewhere, someday a person will be able to grow and proudly display a full, thick, well-groomed, waxed curly mustache on their fully developed upper lip! (A little inside joke to close this solemn message.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Old Tavern's Impact on the Landscape Considerable

A little about me. In 1974, my dad moved our family from Milwaukee to Spruce, Wisconsin to own and operate a little country tavern. Dad didn't remain in the picture for too long leaving Mom to raise me and my 2 younger sisters is this friendly establishment. It wasn't easy, but we made it.

Recently, the building - well over 100 years old - was put to rest. It was a sad and reflective day, but to my surprise, the home and tavern wasn't only important to us, but it was to the community too. My in-laws - who still live in the area - clipped out the following story from the local newspaper and sent it to me.

Old Tavern's Impact on the Landscape Considerable by Dave Polashek

   After a good dousing of rain that fell from the clouds about the path around the Falls during the last week or so, there was not even a hint of smoldering remains of what once had been the Goatsville Tavern. There is no doubt that walls of the tavern held countless untold stories about the generations of travelers who took a break from their many journeys to get a little refreshment at the two story, once stately building that stood a bit too closely to the intersection of Goatsville Road and County B.
   The establishment ceased operating as a business in the fall of 1993, as we recall. The daily commute to work went right past the business, but perhaps because of just having moved to the community that summer, there was no time to take a break for a refreshment before the "Open for Business" sign was taken down for the last time. Passing the establishment on an almost daily basis, there was lots of speculation about what might become of the building. We had a chance one time to interview a prospective employee who grew up in the apartment above the tavern and got a little history at the time. Several years ago, an item or two was printed in the local paper about some county action or consideration of the former business, but not much happened.
   Over time, one window was cracked and broken and then another as the ravages of time took their toll. Whatever stately beauty the old girl had, she lost it and was showing her age. The location of the building so close to the edge of the road made it a somewhat dangerous intersection. It was particularly bad for westbound buses coming to the stop sign right next to the tavern door. More than once, a driver would creep out past the edge of the building and hope that no one was coming from the north at a high rate of speed.
   Due to the dangerous intersection, the speed limit on that section of County B had been reduced to 45 miles per hour, although many drivers ignored it. Occasionally the residents in the area would complain about the excess speed of traffic and the county law enforcement would intensify the monitoring of the traffic flow along that stretch of county highways. Even as recently as a month ago, this observer had a chance to experience the higher priority of vigilance next to that landmark.
   A few weeks ago there was a little more activity at the building. Windows were removed, along with a number of other items. With no windows to block the view, there was a slowdown in traffic as people tried to catch a glimpse of what the interior looked like. Perhaps there might be an artifact or two connected with the history of the building and the generations of people who stopped to refuel themselves for the remainder of their particular journey that day. Over the years, the most valuable of those artifacts found themselves in new homes. We understand there were one or two beautiful examples of the woodcrafter's art over which stories will continue to be told even though the building no longer stands.
   As noted in coverage on one of the Green Bay television stations, the Internet, and the front page of a regional newspaper, the building went up in flames on a recent night, but the sorting done before the match was lit suggested that it was intentional and perhaps done with the blessing of some authorities.
The change in the landscape at that intersection is remarkable. An unnamed county librarian who lives on Goatsville Road was asked last week what she was doing with all her extra time, now that her commuting time had been reduced. At that, she had to laugh, because she knew just what the inquirer meant. She indicated she had been able to find plenty to fill her schedule, even with the shorter commute to work.
   Without the building blocking the view for southbound and westbound traffic, one might speculate how soon there might be a change in the speed limit on that section of County B, since the visibility hazard is no longer standing. The wheels of government tend to move slowly, unless the wheels belong to one of the vehicles of a county law enforcement agency monitoring the traffic flow. With that in mind, drivers will have to continue to throttle down on that stretch until a change is made, it is possible that a change might not be made, depending on the ultimate utilization of that piece of property that now is covered with three distinct piles, one an ash-filled building rubble, another with tin roof pieces and the third with an assortment of a variety of white fixtures that were once used in the building.
   Perhaps someday there might be another Goatsville Tavern. After all, how many in this world can exist with a name like that? Perhaps the upstairs might again be used as a family-home where a young couple might raise a family. One thing for sure if that were to be the vision, the establishment would need to be set back some distance from where the original building was located. This would allow for better visibility when that bus pulls up to the stop sign and even better, when the bus driver turns on those red lights and welcomes a student or two to climb onto the bus.

David Polashek is superintendent of the Oconto Falls School District.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Twitter Birthday

You know, it used to be that as you aged, there was less to look forward to on your birthday. And then twitter came along...

Even though the messages are simple, taken together, it made for a touching and very nice birthday present. Thank you all. I will toast each and every one of you tonight with a shot of tequila!

Sp0on @themosey Gah! It was @MRC58's birthday yesterday? I keep missing stuffs by not being on teh Twitterz! Happy Belated Birthday, Mike!
Rlwegner @MRC58 Is it 23:59 yet? If that pretzel-rolled brat didn't kill you, enjoy that last minute of your birthday.
ToddBrink @MRC58 Have a great 25 minutes left of your bday Mike!
krittabug @MRC58 omg HAPPY BIRTHDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!111!!!(one)11!!!!! :-)
mitch_j @mrc58 waiting till the 11th hour is kinda my thing. Happy Bday
ejbenjamin Happy birthday @MRC58! Sounds like you had a good one.
SarahHorvat RT @MRC58: Having a birthday on twitter is like Christmas. Only, it's totally different.~NO SOUP FOR YOU!! HAPPY BDAY!
sarandipity @MRC58 heyyyyyoohhhh! Happy Birthday to one of my fav-o-rite tweeps!!!! :)
jims1973 Well I guess I can't wait much longer to wish @MRC58 a happy birthday!! Happy Birthday Mike!! #FashionablyLate :)
DigidivaIsh Happy Birthday @MRC58 :) Hope the day has been treating you well! :)
keekerton Happy Birfday again @mrc58 ;) hope you and @kbctourcompany are having fun getting Blitzened ;)
Mserita @MRC58 I wanted to wait until the end of the day when the wishes started dying down....HaPpY bIrThDaY!!! Hope it was great:)
andyfrahm @MRC58 guess I'm a little late to the party... Happi Birthdae! Hope you got your Lederhosen on tonight!
mattjac Happy Bday Mike! May your beer be plentiful & of the highest quality.
steffeck @MRC58 Hey! Happy Birthday! You're two years younger than me, but I think I remember what it felt like to turn 29.
jeffmke When you move away from your family, it's great have someone like a brother to share music, beer, and laughs with. Happy B-day @MRC58!
MelissaSherman @MRC58 Happy Birthday!
Frankerin @MRC58 Happy Birthday!
KateBarrie Happy burpday @MRC58 !!!
chris_brink Happy Birthday, Mike. I hope it's a tremendous day and that sort of thing carries into the next year!
MeriFrahm Wait, it's @MRC58's birthday?! Bring on the beer! :) Happy Birthday!!
Milweb1 @MRC58 Happy Bday! What embarrassing image am I blowing up? @SaraSantiago
Stevejagler Hey happy birthday Mike!
mke_brunch Happy Birthday, @MRC58!
SaraSantiago Happy Birthday to one of my favorite human beings: @MRC58!!!
Mike_Thiel @MRC58 I think @blatzliquor owes u a dark lord as a gift.
Sluggirl @MRC58 Happy Birthday! Hope you are having a great day!
RocLobster @MRC58 Happy birthday!!!! Hope it's a great day:)
cjrahr  Happy birthday @MRC58!!!!!1111!!!one!!111!!!!!!!!
BlatzLiquor @MRC58 lol OK I get it
themosey I am sure @MRC58 is delighted that he shares a birthday with Hugo Chavez.
MKEmxp @MRC58 Happy Birthday. I was wondering what the number in your twitter name was for. :)
Keekerton @MRC58 ahhh touche :) I tried to hire Tony Danza to give you a BIG ASS birthday hug but he was stuck in a box :) @kbctourcompany
AJBombers @MRC58 Hey Mike, so, it's your Birthday? Hmmm.....what to get for the man with everything. -->> - Happy Bday :)
jungbow Happy birthday @MRC58!!! :)
warrior2011 Happy birthday. @MRC58
kbctourcompany Happy Birthday @MRC58! What did you get me?
keekerton @MRC58 Meh, we really don't like you much, actually, your wife paid us all off to make you feel important :) @kbctourcompany #bday
BlatzLiquor @MRC58 heeeeeey happy birthday! What are you 32 now?
Brianpmaguire Happy 28th Birthday to one of my favorite "tweeps" - @MRC58 - are you getting @AJBombers for lunch?
Robyrd5  @MRC58 Truer words for never spoken. Enjoy your birthday as well! #coolkidsclub
WTMJohn @MRC58 happy birthday old boy
hawtwife @MRC58 Happy Birthday Mike! I'm guessing you might celebrate with a beer or two?
Tiffanyannweber Happy Day! RT @tinmakeup: Happy Birthday @MRC58! I hope @kbctourcompany didn't get on that whole spanking machine thing... ;)
tinmakeup Happy Birthday @MRC58! I hope @kbctourcompany didn't get on that whole spanking machine thing... ;)
im_X1 @MRC58 Have a great day, Mike. :)
neonmeg @MRC58 I'm seeing from other tweets that it's your bday today. Happy bday! Hope it's a great one :)
RickGriffin Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!! @MRC58
keekerton @MRC58 Happy Womb Travelling Day fella!!!!
mkayjay @MRC58 Happy Birthday!!
JimGehrke @MRC58 happy birthday. Is @kbctourcompany not having a voice, your birthday present? 8-P
triveragirl Tonight let's do BIRTHDAY BOY @MRC58 :) RT @RickGriffin: @triveragirl who do you think I should leave in charge tonight if not @ToddBrink ?
triveraguy @MRC58 Happy Birthday old man... yeah, I know pot/kettle, but still. Celebrate the fact that you're not as old as me. :)
jregan @MRC58 Happy birthday Mike!
angrae17 Happy Birthday @MRC58!!
Peterepublic Happy Birthday @MRC58....many happy returns......
amykant Happy happy birthday happy happy birthday @mrc58!
tsand @MRC58 #happybirthday
bullmeister @MRC58 Happy birthday! Now to spend the rest of the day avoiding @themosey's spankings.
mjburian Happy Birthday @MRC58!
AgustinSantiago RT @bananza: Happy Birthday @MRC58 ! ~ *raises coffee cup* Happy Birfday. Yes, I said birfday
tmgessner Happy Birthday to one of my very first Twitter friends: @MRC58! Have a great day!
larsma @MRC58 Happy Birthday Mike!!!
BtotheD @MRC58 A birth-happy day to you, sir!
Einley Happy Birthday @MRC58!! Hope you have a wonderful day!
HeyJo1 Happy birthday @MRC58. Hope you have a great day.
themosey @MRC58 You want I should wish you happy birthday now, or save it for when I am feeling more creative?
MeatPants@MRC58 Happy birth anniversary day!!!
bananza Happy Birtday @MRC58 !
lakeicychill @MRC58 Happy birthday!
ColinDeval @MRC58 Happy birthday to you. Sure I'll bump into/meet you at some point. A good week, mine bday is Saturday. #LiveItUp
avanhizzle @MRC58 Happy Birthday, friend!
LilMsSpiteful @MRC58 Happy Birthday
StacySnook @MRC58 (Excuse my horrible voice) Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, dear Mike. Happy birthday to you! :)
flowersandfun Happy Birthday, @MRC58. Here's a birthday card we made just for you!
JaneSomers Happy birthday, @MRC58! It was fun to hear you play last night. You guys are great!
sawaboof Happy birthday,Mike!! @MRC58
im_X1 Happy Birthday, @MRC58!
Kcmeck @MRC58 Happy Birthday! July babies are the best.
Robyrd5 Thank you! :) RT @morganxclaire: It must be some hip new thing, being born on July 28th....Happy birthday @laurieosman, @mrc58 AND @robyrd5!
morganxclaire It must be some hip new thing, being born on July 28th. I want in on this... Happy birthday @laurieosman, @mrc58 AND @robyrd5!
blatzliquorjr  #bullshit RT @MRC58 @KatieFelten Thanks Katie. Not belated at all! As of 15 minutes ago, I'm now 28! :)
KatieFelten @bizymare hey Mare @mrc58 happy belated bday Mike
tapps @MRC58 congrats on another successful trip around the sun. :)
brianpmaguire @MRC58 happy birthday. At least you're not to old to wear a funny hat.
bizymare @MRC58 well happy birthday! I hope you turn another year older many more times!
WindLakeMusic @MRC58 Congrats... and, they say, another year wiser.
tinmakeup RT @kbctourcompany: It's @MRC58's birthday tomorrow. I should have set up a Spanking Machine Tweet-Up. Darn... **Still could be arranged!!
Tombetz Man, you keep going like the Energizer Bunny. Happy BDay Mike. #realgusto
ToddBrink Happay Bday Mike

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Schadenfreude. Defined.

Man. Last night was too funny and fun.

So on a beautiful evening we head out on the motorcycle to cruise the lakefront, downtown, and - most specifically - drive across the long-awaited, newly opened Humboldt Avenue bridge [closed for more than 2 years for God-knows-what reason]. Anyway, we stopped the Redroom bar where they were having a party celebrating the bridge's completion. As a prize, they were giving away a fixed-gear bicycle via a raffle. The winner was required to take the bike across the new bridge in full view of the party-goers.

A guy wins the bike, carries it out of the bar, and takes off across the bridge. Then, about 75 yards away from everyone's full view, he wipes out. Hard. Down he goes - new bike and all in a pile of flesh, rubber, and metal. After a moment of grave concern (I said, he went down HARD), he collects himself and gets back on the bike and returns to the bar to quell his humility by downing a few Pabsts. I don't think his ego was the only thing that needed salve - he landed bare-chested on the new concrete. He was wearing a huge scrape right across his entire chest - about 2" wide.

Now I'm not practicing schadenfreude, and he was okay except for a major scrape, but that was pretty damn funny. One moment he's on top of the world (I just won a new bike!) and the next he's splayed out on fresh concrete like roadkill in front of a large group of friends and strangers. Funny because once he returned he was able to down a Pabst and laugh at himself with others.

Also funny because usually that kind of thing only happens to me!

On second thought, I'm totally schadenfreuding. Oh well.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A "Good" Run - See If You Can Figure It Out!

Tonight's weather was most acceptable* for a nice run. I headed down to the local track where I saw ace* speedster Joe ripping it up. His pace was admirable*; despite the agreeable* conditions, mine was bad*. Meanwhile, Coach Marty was being the boss*. I saw him bully* Rochelle and Tracey around the track many times. He was spending his knowledge capital*. They're all trying to run faster, but that's not my choice*. Their efforts are commendable*; mine are congenial*. Training as hard as they were, I'm not sure they appreciated my (wise) cracks*.

By the way, the running track at Hart park is deluxe*. I think a track like that is excellent* for the joints and I'm sure speedsters could turn in exceptional* times on its soft surface. With a little favorable* weather and I'm sure a first-class* runner like Joe or Matt could turn in a first-rate* time. Gnarly* dudes, those two.

Despite the good workout, the most gratifying* moment was finally meeting the great* and honorable* Jackie and Tim. What a marvelous* treat, I had no idea they were going to be there. How neat*! They're nice* comments about my dailymile posts was most pleasing* to me. Positive* comments like that are precious* to me.

Marty likes numbers. His favorite prime* number is 7. (I'm only guessing, but it'd be rad* if I was correct, wouldn't it?)

To my surprise, I discovered Jackie and Tim are the parents of Kelly, whose taste for fine brews is recherché*. As a reputable* consumer of the suds myself, I find this very satisfactory*. Looking forward to the day Kelly returns home and we meet up for a satisfying* brew. [No Budweiser Select*!] Until then, we'll all keep running to keep ourselves in shipshape*. Sound* good to you?

Man, I'm getting old. My birthday is at the end of July. Trust me, all the spanking* will tire you out. But I think I'll go to Turner Hall that night where, I think, the Blitzen Trapper show will be splendid*. If you go, they only take American Dollars; not the British Pound Sterling*.

Well, this certainly won't be known as my most stupendous* dailymile post. It's far from super* for sure. If you haven't figured it out yet, I am using's synonyms for the word "good" in order (see I'm doing a super-eminent* job, but trying to use super-excellent*, superb*, superior*, and tip-top* in proper order isn't easy. I wouldn't blame you if you stopped reading by the time you got to this point. This post is not up-to-snuff*, even by my own standards.

Nonetheless, my dailymile friends are very valuable* to me. I always welcome* your kind comments and I think you are wonderful*. I'm not worthy*.

[* Words in order: acceptable, ace, admirable, agreeable, bad, boss, bully, capital, choice, commendable, congenial, crack, deluxe, excellent, exceptional, favorable, first-class, first-rate, gnarly, gratifying, great, honorable, marvelous, neat, nice, pleasing, positive, precious, prime, rad, recherché, reputable, satisfactory, satisfying, select, shipshape, sound, spanking, splendid, sterling, stupendous, super, super-eminent, super-excellent, superb, superior, tip-top, up to snuff, valuable, welcome, wonderful, and worthy]

P.S. Recherché? I never even heard that word before!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Wisconsin Marathon - A Retrospective

May 1, 2010 was a day I'll never forget. It was the day I completed my first - and possibly my only - marathon. The Wisconsin Marathon.

The morning was filled with the usual nervous anticipation any runner ever feels before a race. The run commenced in Kenosha, Wisconsin at 7 a.m. - roughly an hour from my house. My wife and I met other Milwaukee-area runners at 5 a.m. and we drove down in 4 cars. The effort to travel together was valiant, but failed as we didn't manage to keep the caravan together all the way into the downtown Kenosha. Still, we all managed to park and meet (mostly) everyone again before the start of the race.

As I made my way to the starting corral, I lost everybody again. I did run into my new friends Dan and Sherry Wilde just before the gun sounded. They were running the half - Dan's run 'em before, but this was going to be Sherry's first. If you ever met Dan, you wouldn't soon forget him. He has great energy and seeing him definitely settled my pre-run nerves.

Seven o'clock came. The gun sounded. The run was on. I separated from Dan and Sherry right away and set about finding a comfortable pace. About 2 miles into the run I saw Milwaukee runner Tracey Gessner ahead of me about 20 yards. I thought for a moment about trying to catch her, but Tracey's fast and I would never be able to keep up with her even if I did catch her. Somewhere around mile 4 - maybe 5 - I found myself running alongside Anne Munkwitz and Marty Burian. I think they started behind me, but at that point, I caught up to Anne. We ran together a mile or so, before separating again. Marty and I were pretty close in stride, but at a water stop, I got held back about 20 yards from Marty. That's okay. Marty was a on a pretty good pace and I didn't want to hold him up. Approaching mile 10, I caught up to Anne again. We ran 'til about mile 12 where she kicked in high gear to finish her half marathon strongly.

I can't praise the organizers of the Wisconsin Marathon enough for the energy and organization they put into this fine event; however, one oddity I'll note is this: the peeling off of the half-marathoners versus the full. I wish it wouldn't have been like this, but maybe it's the only way. I think around two-thirds of the runners were running the half, so when they separated, it left the full marathoners feeling in a strange and lonely place. After running with a large group for 12 miles, I was suddenly left with only 2 people near me in about a 100-yard span. Mentally, this added an unforeseen challenge. Nonetheless, the route journeyed south alongside some pleasant lakeside homes and some nice lake views.

I rarely broke my stride until around mile 17. There I walked a few paces here and there. The volunteers were excellent at providing motivation. Two girls cheered me on and ran alongside me for 40 or 50 yards; we high-fived. That was pretty cool. The residents of Kenosha also stood at the end of their driveways and offered support. I made it to mile 23 with intermittent walking and running - mostly running.

However, mile 23 is where it all went downhill. Running with my usual stride and pace was no longer an option. I felt like I had to "throw" my legs forward and use my upper body more than usual to get my legs to advance. No lie: miles 23 to 25.5 were the most agonizing miles and minutes of my life. I kept thinking "All you've got left is the shortest training run you've run all spring!" but it didn't make a difference. The body wasn't cooperating. I walked way more than I'd like to admit in these 2 and a half miles, but I was determined to hit the finish line running - or some semblance of running anyway.

Finally the home stretch came. I was able to summon one final push and ran the final half mile. It really wasn't running; it was more like waddling. Within 25 yards of the finish line, I saw the signboards of friends and family pushing me through to the finish. What a moment. Seriously. At the finish line my wife and Marty - who had finished 20 minutes before me - were waiting. I crossed the line and momentarily broke down. Anybody who has ever completed a marathon knows this hard-to-describe feeling. It's one of great pain, happiness, and highly emotional. I think I would have cried much more had I had the energy.

I have been on a high all week after this accomplishment. It is satisfying to look back and realize that what I once thought was impossible, has now been done. It took much effort, but I did it. However, what makes the day so special, is the people who shared and made this experience with me. I cannot thank them enough for the support. It was amazing that they waited hours to see my sorry self cross the finish line. There are many others who were not at the race that day who provided great support through dailymile, but to those that were there, I wish to dedicate this next section to each of them so that I may look back at this post someday and remember them so.

Anne Munkwitz - Co-founder of Fit Milwaukee and a huge instigator for pushing me from casual runner to marathoner. Anne is inspiring. I may have been one of her first subjects, but by the time I post this, I'm sure she has inspired a hundred more! Keep up the great work, Anne. Anne is also co-captaining the Team Challenge team for Crohn's and Colitis research.

Tracey Gessner - Co-founder of Fit Milwaukee. Tracey's drive and love of running is amazing. Late last fall Tracey ran alongside me on my longest 'til that point: 9 miles. She always is encouraging and is an excellent fitness role model. Tracey is running the Rockford Marathon next weekend. Join me in wishing her good luck!

Amy Kant - I'm having a difficult time summing up Amy in a few short lines. Amy is doing such great things and has more creativity in her little finger than I have in my whole body. Not only is she pushing herself to improve her fitness, she's raising money for Crohn's and Colitis. Please visit Amy's webpage: where you'll see any number of ways to have fun while helping Amy in her quest. You'll be doing it for all of the right reasons. Thanks Amy for your tremendous support. Please know that you've got mine too!

Anthony and Rochelle Van Hart - Maybe it's unfair to pair them up together in this post, but they're two peas in a pod! This super cool couple is always fun to hang out with before, after, and during any run. Tony and I could talk music and sports for an entire marathon I think - we have at least for an 8K, and Rochelle is just amazing all around. She's smart, funny, and fast. I love watching Rochelle compete. She puts a game face on like few athletes I have seen. She also keep can't keep a secret, but let's just keep that our little secret. ;) [Rochelle, you made my week when you told me about the sign-making party. I chuckled about it all week!] Rochelle is also taking place in Team Challenge to raise money for Crohn's and Colitis research.

Sarah Schwoerer - Sarah is also raising money for Crohn's and Colitis research. I've had the most fun watching Sarah quickly become a runner. Just a few short months ago, Sarah was running 2, 3, and 4 miles at roughly a 10-minute per mile pace. Now she's running half marathons and it's not uncommon to see her mile pace in the low 8-minute range! Keep up the good work Sarah. You know what's next, right? [Hint: it starts with 26.]

Lindsey Paulsen - What a trooper. In about mile 9 of the half marathon, Lindsey's knee failed and she struggled to make it to the finish line, but finish she did! And not only did she struggle through that, she waited to see me cross the finish line. Now that's amazing! Me? I might have said, "That's enough. I'm going home!" Thanks Lindsey. I appreciate it a ton and hope you heal well and soon and are out running another half this year!

Krista Ledbetter - Krista makes everything look so easy, but that's selling her short. I know she trains hard and puts a lot into it. I love looking at her dailymile posts and seeing how she runs double-digit miles often and has fun doing it. I see Krista more in the virtual world (dailymile, twitter, facebook), but whenever I see her, she's quick with the biggest smile you'll ever see. Krista, you're a great inspiration and I'm glad to know you.

Joe Phillips - Joe is a different league of runner than I am. I saw Joe in the race once. He was, oh, about 4 miles ahead of me. Joe ran the half and can really move. He is a swell guy and always - and I means always - makes me smile or laugh with his witty dailymile posts and commentary. Keep it up Joe. You make the social part of running a lot of fun.

Nicholas Crawford - Nick's an amazing guy. He volunteered at the water station at Mile 8 and took many great pictures of the marathon - including a bunch of me! Nicholas brought his one-year old son Jude along too and warmed everybody's heart. Furthermore, Nicholas claims that I've inspired him to start marathon training. That to me (I think) is a fantastic compliment. Either that or Nick looked at me and said, "Heck, if that guy can do it, anybody can!" Thanks for everything Nick. I look forward to joining you on some of your training runs.

Marty Burian - Nobody made this whole experience more fun than Marty. He signed up for it a few weeks before I did and was the one who really got me thinking about it. Once I signed up, I had no regrets. Marty and I encouraged and poked fun at each other the entire training period [Well, maybe I poked fun at Marty more than he did me, but he took it well (I think)]. There were so many nice things Marty offered along the way: he offered to bring me water along my 20-mile training run, he kept good beers in the trunk after his 18-miler (my 17.4 miler), and he gave me a life-saving Shot Blok along my first 15-miler. He was the first person to greet me as I crossed the finish line and immediately offered me something to drink. Marty, you are a hell of a guy and I'm so happy to call you a friend. I look forward to our future runs together.

My sister and brother-in-law (Christine and Jeremy McGovern) - they surprised me by showing up to the marathon's finish line. I had no idea they'd be there, but was it ever great to see them when I finally did! Thank you guys so much for the support. I can't tell you how great it was to see you at finish!

Last, but not least, my wife Kay. Kay was so supportive of me the whole time I trained for this. She was encouraging and listened to me complain when I was in a complaining kind of mood. She was there at the finish line and gave me a look that told me she was proud of me, and that's a look I'll never forget. Plus, she brought the beer. Thanks Kay. I love you.

P.S. - I mentioned Team Challenge's effort to raise money for Crohn's and Colitis research above. Please take a moment to learn more at or contact me and I can put you in contact with one of the team members. Thank you.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dailymile Brainwave Flux Capacitor 3000

You ever notice how frustrating it is that you can't post your dailymile workout while you're running? I mean, after your finally done working out, you have to stop, sit at a computer, and waste time scripting your run blog. What a waste, right? Well fret no more friends! For I've invented the Dailymile Brainwave Flux Capacitor 3000. Just strap this convenient little 14-pound device to your belt, affix the temple suction cups, and head out on your run. It will convert your running thoughts into text that you can download directly to your computer when you're done with your workout.
I used my beta model today as I ran 14 miles in the driving rain. It was so nice know that every thought was being recorded and that I wouldn't have to waste time recalling every excruciating step of my run. Here's the results:
"The it presidents what other The brewery beer from I’d a replies out American you says with me drinking from him I world Molson but Mountain HAMBURGERS The The and little gives bartender The off aback Festival me it down if Hey would go drinking The aren’t spring He water North a a and a president give a best The the Burian best ordered Budweiser like to the he Molson’s The him from PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA guy gets presidents to decided for like Coors the give guy would me one beer sits TACOS Budweiser Well is at says Corona taken guy Why I The bartender Beers a him King world’s guy beer over all a aren’t the dusts the gives ask from you of Señor I Coors BEER the gives Give neither from Molson sits and look Rocky him bottle made and the The like Corona guys Coke CHEESE I’d only a shelf says After beer beer down says bartender in brewery figured."
I know! Incredible right?! Why waste time standing in line for the Apple iPad? This is the must-have gadget of the year for every running geek!
Operators are standing by and ready to take your order. Buy today and I'll also include an extra 7-pound Li-Ion battery. That way, you'll never have to wait around waiting for your single battery to charge.
Available for 3, low, monthly payments of only $119.95 each plus tax.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Eat Hearty)

Headed out for a 9-miler while listening to the Beastie Boys. I was no more than a 1/2 mile from the start when it hit me: I gotta fight for my right to eat (and drink!) hearty.  So here it is, my running theme song: (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (t'eat Hearty)

(Power chord)

Stretch it!

You wake up late for runs, and there's ice and there's snow
You hit the snooze thrice, and your mate says, "Go!"
You ate two T-bones and deep-fried pork
And your trainer kicks your ass like you're some kind of dork

You gotta fight... for your right... t'eat hearty!

Your scale caught you cheating and it said, "No weigh!"
That damn gadget smells two feet a day
My knee is bundled up in some kind of rag
Now my wife threw away my 2-pound chips bag. Busted

You gotta fight... for your right... t'eat hearty!

Don't put weight upon that knee unless your asking for despair
One more step upon that foot there'll be some kind of tear
Your friends on the run chimed in, "What's that noise?"
Aw, dudes you're just jealous it's just techno toys!

You gotta fight... for your right... t'eat hearty!

Now enjoy the good version ...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Damn Red Meat!

Last night's run was preempted by a final visit to the soon-moving Bartolotta's restaurant Mr. B's. For those that don't know, Mr. B's is a steak joint and I greatly looked forward to dining with some new friends and enjoying a fine chunk of well-seasoned red meat. The meal was fantastic and the conversation engaging, however, whenever I eat a meal where more than 70% of the consumed mass is meat, I'm in for a long night of crazy dreams. Dreams if I can sleep at all, that is.

Last night was no exception, I constantly zoned into and out of consciousness. Dreaming continuously of rock-and-roll stardom, little green people, and the always recurring one where I'm stranded without clothing in my high school gymnasium. The problem is, sometimes, even after the alarm clock goes off and I'm out of bed, the wacky visions continue.

So this morning I headed out the door at 5:30 for a 5-miler. It was tough to get moving, but fortunately my cigar-chomping, big, pink panda bear friend Louis kept moving me along. He said that he could accompany only as far as the Forest of Forever, but after that, a band of Snotlings would lead the way. Those Snotlings are hilarious, but they're shit at directions. After wandering around the forest for a couple of hours, we finally came upon the Temples of Syrinx. At last - the Sun! But who knew this was also the lair of Manticore - the giant vicious lion-like creature, with a human features and a scorpions tail. Manticore charged me and was just about to impale me with his poisonous darts when an army of popsicle-stick men loaded me into their catapult and launched me many miles back to my doorstep in Wauwatosa.

Whew! What a run, but tonight, before bed, I'm just going to have a bowl of Weetabix and a glass of warm milk.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What a Great Run!

Commencing tonight's run, I was a little concerned about the onset of heartburn from this afternoon's chili. However, within a half mile of home, I was more concerned about the twinge in my left Achilles tendon. As I ran, the pain slowly crawled up my left leg, through my sacroiliac joint, up the my spine, before finally settling just below my the right side of my cerebral cortex. No matter, I just smiled and pushed through the pain on this gorgeous Wisconsin Spring evening.

After loosening up, I smiled, cranked the tunes, and let out my stride. Unfortunately, I was feeling so good I didn't notice the hole in the wooden bridge crossing the Menomonee River. Sure enough, my right leg went through the hole and I fell until my crotch halted my fall with contact against a loose 2x4. Happy that it wasn't worse - I could have fallen into the river! - I pulled my skin, scraped leg out of the hole, pulled out splinters, washed off the blood with my water bottle, and continued on my merry way.

I wasn't the only one enjoying this evening. Now that it's nice, the bicyclists are out. Unfortunately for me, I never saw the Floyd Landis wannabe crossing the trail in front of me and he collided with me at about 25 miles per hour. We laid moaning in a heaping pile of brush, metal, sweat, and flesh for a few moments before collecting ourselves. I pulled his rear Derailleur out of my left calf; he, my water bottle belt out of his helmet, we exchanged apologies, smiled, and continued on our journey in opposite directions.

I'm all for energy conservation, but these over-sized, 5-passenger golf carts (hybrid cars) are problematic. You can't hear 'em! My route took me through a church parking lot just as Wednesday night's service was dismissing. I never heard Father O'Malley as he backed up his Prius right over all 10 of my toes! Yeow! I yelped. I also discharged more cuss words in that church's parking lot than have ever been said before. Father O'Malley, due to his quiet Prius, heard every one. He shook his head and told me that he'll look forward to seeing me next Sunday. After shaking my feet to get my circulation back, I popped an energy gel and continued on my way. It was after all, still a gorgeous evening.

I never considered that my skinned and bloodied legs made me smell like a meat wagon to every carnivorous canine in the neighborhood. Brutus, well-known as the toughest dog in the pit, couldn't take it. I must've smelled like a walking Porterhouse to him as pulled free of his chain and made a beeline straight for my left leg. His teeth sank deeply into my left leg just below my knee. Fortunately for me I have strong bones and Brutus's owner was nearby to coax Brutus to release his powerful jaws from my limb. I thanked Brutus's owner as he scolded me harshly for leading his dog into temptation with my meat-smelling, medium rare legs. Again, I offered a short thank you, turned, and continued on my journey.

Pro-tip: tuck your headphone cord into your running shirt or jacket. As I was standing at an intersection waiting for the "Walk" signal, a speedy little Honda coupe blasting Salsa music made a ripping fast right turn right in front of me. My headphone cord caught on the car's right side passenger mirror and savagely yanked my ear buds from my head. At one point, I recall my left eye squarely looking at my left ear lobe before the bud released from my ear. My ears snapped back to the side of my head like a wet towel in the boys' junior high locker room. Fortunately, albeit painful, I was able to reconnect and reinstall my ear buds without missing a single verse of O La Paloma Blanca. Still, what a great night for a run.

But here's what really ticked me off: my shoe came untied twice! Each time I had to stop and tie it costing me valuable seconds on what was certain to be a personal record tonight! What a pain in the neck. Man, I'm gonna just tie them in a square knot next time.

Thanks for reading and your encouragement.

P.S. The bees are back. Don't ask...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Burl the Snowflake

Immediately upon departure from my doorstep, a pleasant, plump little snowflake named Burl introduced himself to me. He asked, "Do you mind if I accompany you on your run, friend?" I enthusiastically replied "Yes!" as I was running this one alone and figured the company would keep my mind off of the distance. As I ran, Burl danced happily alongside my right shoulder regaling me with stories of his life as a snowflake. He explained his crowning achievement was being the tippy-top snowflake of a child's snowman from the 1st week of January through the 2nd week of February. He chortled heartily when he saw the perspiration forming on my brow. He said, "Friend, looks like you've got some future snowflakes forming there!" We both laughed and laughed.

Sadly, at about mile 6, Burl said, "Mike, I'm sorry I have to leave you, but it's time for me to hit the pavement. But don't worry, my time there is short and soon I'll be resurrected as a snowflake again. Until then, safe travels my friend!"

Burl was laid to rest at the Greenfield Golf Course clubhouse just along the Oak Leaf Trail. I stopped for a short moment, shed a small tear, smiled about our good times, and turned and headed for home. Here's where the story takes a tragic turn...

You see, Burl was loved by many other flakes, and because I had befriended their beloved pal, they were jealous and upset. Even though it's 2010, I guess the snowflake world just isn't ready for snowflake/human relationships. As I progressed towards home, millions of angry snowflakes slapped, spanked, and swiped my eyes, nose, and cheeks. Battered was I; there were just too many of them for me to fight back. My only choice was to put my head down and plow through the little bastards as I forged my way home. I was fortunate enough to have one secret weapon: LCD Soundsystem. The little icy shits never saw it coming for LCD Soundsystem gave me the strength of 10 men! Finally, after battling the little jagged ice crystal creatures for 6 miles, I triumphantly returned home. My clothes wet and stained with the innards of the little vermin.

The moral of the story? Never make friends with a fat snowflake unless you're headed for home.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Best Monday Night Ever!

Anybody who knows me knows my last couple of Mondays haven't been the best, however, this Monday's night was one of my favorite evenings ever. I am trying to refrain from being over-the-top, but I really think it was. For tonight I had the opportunity to watch and listen to a fabulous songwriter/musician in the comfort of a living room. It wasn't my living room, but it was in friends' beautiful Wauwatosa home. Also got to share the experience with a bunch of new acquaintances and friends.

The musician? Strand of Oaks [or Timothy Showalter]. Tim writes simple, yet beautiful melodies and performs them with transfixing guitar work and fronts them with strong vocals. Together, in the intimacy of a candlelit living room, it was pure magic. Credit for promoting and bringing Strand of Oaks to Milwaukee goes to Ryan Matteson and Anthony Van Hart - some of the early Milwaukee believers in Strand of Oaks' powerful music. Strand of Oaks' next stop is SXSW in Austin, Texas - where I'm certain people are going to stand up take notice.

I also have to give a big thanks to many great new friends that contributed to this wonderful evening: C.J. #1, C.J. #2, Alicia Hanson, Rochelle Van Hart, Julie German, Eric Benjamin, and many others.

Now back to the man who contributed the most to this magical night: Timothy Showalter. My favorite song - among his many good ones - is 'End in Flames'. He performs it beautifully in this YouTube video. Watch and enjoy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hey, Shut Up Down There!

[Note: Extracted from my DailyMile post where I post my near daily efforts to train for my first marathon.]

Experts say you should listen your body, but my brain has such a big mouth it never lets anybody else talk. However, last night the din was too loud to ignore.

First, my left knee - with his usual abrasive tone - threatened, "Hey! Yo, Boi! Lay off or I'm gonna bust a cap in your cap. Got that, Holmes?!"

Then the nipsy twins in their inimitable sarcastic manner said, "Why don't you just take a rat-tail file to us? It'd be a lot quicker."

And lastly, Mr. Left Calf with his impossibly proper English brogue chimed, "Pardon me, old chap. I sincerely hope that I am not interrupting your endeavors, but I wish to implore you to consider my well-being. I realize that, of those that are calling your attention, I am the farthest distance from your intellectual center, however, I am under great strain and not feeling altogether well. If you could be kind enough to grant me a day of tea, crumpets, and a good book, I would be forever in your debt. Thank you for listening, kind sir."

OK guys. Tomorrow you get your way. Knee, imbibe whatever it is that you smoke, drink, or snort. Twins, the martini's on me; just don't be too flamboyant though; you remember what happened last time? Mr. Left Calf, my I suggest George Watt's Gift Gallery and Tea Room on Jefferson Street? Enjoy your Friday.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What'll You Have?

Friday afternoon, I asked the following question on twitter: 

Ethics question: Is it okay to only order water w/ your meal at a restaurant? Restaurants barely make $$ on food alone.

I got back many answers all defending water, and water only, as the beverage of choice to have with a meal. I only had one other person - a long-time friend - tell me that he too orders a drink with his meal. And by "drink" I don't mean a highball, I just mean something you pay for (e.g. bottled water, iced tea, soda, beer, coffee, Harvey Wallbanger, etc.). It wasn't my intent to ruffle any feathers, but by the replies, it seemed as though I had.

I've always felt an obligation to order a drink with my meal, but I have an example that I would like to set forth. This example is what spawned me to ask the question.

I met my wife for lunch at The National ( at 9th Street and National Avenue. It's a great place. If you haven't been there, please give it a try. They offer food good for the soul and it's a very cool, small place. It's the kind of place people lament that there aren't enough of and I'd feel a lot better about the world if there were more Nationals in it. 

I ordered a bowl of pea soup with ham. This was a 16-ounces of pure deliciousness. And for only $5. What a steal with a side of fresh-baked bread! If you examine what it took to get this bowl of soup to my table: the ingredients, the labor, the service, the rent, the utilities - if they made 50 cents on it I'd be surprised. Let's be conservative and say they made $2 on it, it's still a helluva way to make a few bucks.

Now here comes the quandary. I love this place. I want it to be around for a while. I want the owners to make a living and continue following their passion. Do I order water? Or do I show appreciation for their efforts and order a drink? If I buy a can a Coke from them for $1.50 that they paid $0.50 for, they clear $1. Granted it may seem like an easy dollar, but for their overall operation, they still are working their tails off for that measly buck. If everyone ordered only water, I'd bet you see a lot fewer restaurants in this world. It's a tough business.

I've seen colleagues eat at the Philly Way and order only water. And then, on the way back to their office stop at McDonald's and get a 32-ounce Coke for $1 because they got more sweetened, carbonated sugar water for their dollar. Lame. Really lame. 

And what about the service? If you drink water, your lunch bill may be $8; with a drink, it's $10. Respectively tipped at 20% it's $1.60 and $2.00. The waiter or waitress made just as many trips I'm sure, but they got stiffed, or do you tip 25% when you order only water?

I know it's your right and prerogative to order only water and I completely understand it. Heck, after air, it's the single most important thing required for our survival, but the next time you're in a place as independent and cool as The National, maybe give this post a little thought and help some hard-working brothers and sisters out.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Write a Bad Song

Of all the wonderful gifts I've received from my wife over the years, one of the best was songwriting lessons from the Milwaukee roots rock treasure John Sieger. Who is John Sieger? Mr. Sieger writes catchy tunes that serve as the backbone of what makes the Milwaukee music scene unique. He's partnered with Paul Cebar, rubs elbows Bodeans, and - OMG! - is friends with one of my personal music heroes: Robbie Fulks! I implore you to visit John Sieger's MySpace page at

Anyway, John's songwriting wisdom runs deep and he gave one of the best pieces of advice ever. Seriously. On day #1 of our songwriting class, he gave an assignment. The assignment? Write a bad song. "What?!" said I. "You haven't taught me anything yet! How am I supposed to write a song??" He followed with "Just start and don't stop. You'll see."

He was right. Before that assignment I'd start writing with the intent that I was going to pen the best song ever. Remember "Yesterday" or "Stairway to Heaven"? Yeah, those weren't good enough; mine was going to be better - or, at least, that was the initial intention. But then I discovered it was hard - real hard. So I gave up. After 10 years, how many songs did I write? None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

John's point was that you've got to start somewhere. Plow through one - it may not be great or good. Hell, it's probably going to be terrible, but at least you started becoming a songwriter. You can work on it from there. I suppose it's like a sculptor with a mound of clay - at first the nose on your Thinker looks suspiciously like a fist, but you can keep pinching and squeezing until it resembles a nose. And while you're turning that fist into a nose, you're learning.

After writing my first bad song, I couldn't wait to write the next one. The fire was lit. I understood what he meant! I took something that had never existed before and brought it to life! It was so cool. I  wound up writing 5, maybe 6, songs during the classes - every one successively better than the one prior. One of them I'm actually quite proud of. Once I get the chorus the way I want it, I'll probably sing it out loud, but it's not quite ready for prime time.

The lesson here doesn't only apply to budding songwriters, but to all disciplines. Do not stop yourself! Let it flow and just get started. This can be applied to so much: artistic endeavors, fitness goals, education, cooking - anything! Once you start, you'll be anxious and ready to take yourself farther. I have done this with my profession and fitness (running), and with very mixed success - singing.

To satisfy your curiosity, here are the lyrics to my bad first song. It is sports themed because the last thing I heard before starting was a sports report about an athlete being day-to-day. It was probably Ben Sheets.

Title: Aren't We All Day to Day?

Aren't we all day to day?
Aren't we all day to day?

Verse 1:
The star power forward
or the football champ,
the wealthy first baseman
with the deep leg cramp.

Starting QB
or the 3rd-string guard,
the pitching ace
with the healing arm


Verse 2:
The fast wide receiver
or the sporting chap,
the boxing contender
with the smarting back.

The first-round free agent
or goal defender,
the bullpen whiz
with an elbow tender.


This phrase has been stolen
by the sporting few
but even broken hearts
take mending too.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Free Beer!!

I did it! 110 running miles in December (114 actually). Now it's time for me to put up my end of the bargain - FREE BEER!! To commemorate the mileage and all of the support that the #PushMike campaign garnered, I'm buying at least $110 worth of beer (and soda) from the best place to buy beer in Milwaukee - Blatz Market & Liquor ( Please join me at the Blatz Condominiums' party room (just a few steps from Blatz Market & Liquor off the condo's main lobby) on Saturday, January 23rd at 7 o'clock. I'm going to mix it up with an easy drinking domestic (probably Lite) and a good mix of locally brewed craft beers. Come early for the good stuff! I'll have some soda available too. Once it's gone,  who knows?!?

If you can, please RSVP at See you there!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Beet Runner (A Beer Runner Sendup)

There's a popular misconception about the consumption of beets and a healthy lifestyle. Many think it's not possible to maintain fitness while regularly indulging in a few primo beets. Well my friends, nothing could be farther from the truth. As an avid runner and aficionado of good beets, I'll explain...

I've always been a big fan of beets. It doesn't matter the color: red ones, white ones, dark ones - even those strange orange ones popular in Chicago, but I wasn't always a runner. As I hit middle age, I realized all beets and no exercise made for one fat Jack. So I began to run. And run I did all though 2009. My weight at the beginning of 2009 was 208 pounds, but by year's end - without ever curbing my daily beets - I had lost 18 pounds!  I now feel the fittest I have in 20 years and I can enjoy fresh beets completely guilt-free.

Some activities are only enhanced by beets. Take one of my favorites: golf. Is there anything better than hitting the links on a summer Saturday afternoon with a couple of buddies, turning off the cell phones, and knockin' back a couple of beets? I think not. It's a blast! Every 4th hole is the beet hole. The loser of the hole has to pay for the next round of beets. Let me tell you: the beet cart girls LOVE us! I've seen beet cart girls actually get in fights over who gets our back 9, because the more beets we consume, the more we tip! Bowling is another activity made more fun with beets. But don't spill your beets on the lane or you could twist an ankle.

Of course, there are pitfalls with the consumption of too many beets. One common one is beet goggles: that belief that every member of the opposite sex is the most beautiful creature you've ever laid eyes on. This is a common affliction in Sheboygan - where downing a few too many beets is frequent. The first symptom of beet goggles is a purplish hue in your vision. If noticed, I recommend putting the beets down for a while and getting something to eat.

Amateurs often suffer from beet muscle disorder - one too many beets and they think they can take on the world. Usually they're wrong. On more than one occasion I've seen a beet-breathed rookie get the snot knocked out of him. One of the more notable beatdowns I witnessed was at a beet party in college. You paid $5 for a cup at the front door and then it was all the beets you could ingest until gone. I miss those days. < sigh >

It's been a long time since I've endured either of the above, but I have - more recently - discovered another pitfall: cheap beets. These are the kind of beets you usually see advertised during a NASCAR race; they're commonly available in large quantities - 18 packs or larger. They're okay when they're ice-cold, but as soon as they're warm they taste awful. I've got a buddy who keeps a chest full of cheap beets. Whenever he comes to my house, he heads right for my fridge a grabs one of my craft beets from the Pacific Northwest (you know these beets, commonly bitter with a strong floral essence). However, when I go to his house, all he's got is those sticky sweet, cheap beets. Oh man, one too many of these and you will really pay for it the next day. So, in fact, will your entire office! If you can afford it, it's my advice to spend a little extra on good beets.

Popular today are those light, low carb beets marketed towards people with active lifestyles. I avoid 'em like the plague. They taste thin and watery. Plus you've got to consume a ton of them to feel the slightest effect. Life's too short.

A British pal of mine keeps his beets at room temperature. "Whoa!" said I the first time I had one. "What's with the flat, warm beets?" He explained that we Americans kill the subtle flavor of our beets by chilling them to sub-Arctic temperatures. I've since come to understand what he was getting at and now regularly meet him down at the corner establishment for a couple of warm English beets and a bowl of root soup.

In summary, it is possible to possess an active, healthy lifestyle and consume beets regularly. Avoid common mistakes and enjoy beets in moderation. Until we see each other again, I nod my head and raise my beet to you!

Note: This blog post was inspired by Joe Woelfle's typo in a tweet to Tim Cigelske. If there's anyone to blame, it's Joe. I just picked the ball up and ran with it. For more information about Joe Woelfle and his fine selection of cold beets visit For more information about Tim Cigelske - The Real Beer Runner - visit


Monday, January 4, 2010

Looking Back at 2009, twitter, and New Friends

Well 2009 is in the rearview mirror. I know it was a tough year for many, but for me it was quite remarkable - I made a great number of new friends and actually kept a New Year's Resolution! What made it so significant? In a way, I'm embarrassed to say, but it was the social network twitter! twitter? How so? Read on...

I opened a twitter account in mid-December 2008. My wife was already using twitter before then, and I made a lot of fun of her for doing so. Like many uninitiated, I didn't understand how the communication concept - 140 characters at time - could be useful or expressive! Nonetheless, with my account opened, I started clicking around. I had no idea what I was doing, but with my interests in Milwaukee, golf, music, food, and travel, I started looking for people that shared my hobbies. Sure enough, I found people who I found interesting and, remarkably, they found me interesting back! I also discovered a new hobby or interest: composing funny, thought-provoking, or - at the very least - properly punctuated tweets.

For the first couple of months, my twitter friends were only virtual, but I didn't have a lot of interest in keeping digital pen pals. Meeting and getting to know real people is what life's all about! By year's end, my free-time and social life was significantly affected by the new friends I made on twitter. I hesitate to write the next part of this blog, for fear that I'll leave someone out, but there are some folks who have proven just too important to not mention.

First and foremost has to be the social media power couple Tom and Marjie Snyder (@triveraguy and @triveragirl). The reason I have to put them at the top is Tom is possibly the most responsible for unleashing the beast within! My wife dragged me to a tweetup where I met Tom and Marjie. Tom showed me twitter's ropes and how I could more easily access information and find people that shared my interests. Since then we've seen each other a number of times over the year and it always makes my day to see this übercool twosome. They even let me sleep on their couch when I got really, really tired ;). That couch is still available on Craigslist. It's nearly free and there's not even been an offer! It's like my drool is toxic or something...

Anne Munkwitz (@bananza) for helping me keep 2009's resolution and for being a lot of fun. Like many New Year's resolutions, I needed to improve my fitness in 2009. January 1st, I tipped the scales at 208 pounds! I started watching what I ate and began a regular regimen of running a couple of miles a week. I ran into Anne (figuratively) minutes before the East Town Association's Storm the Bastille 5K run - I recognized her from her twitter avatar! We ran the 5K with a group of friends and since then she has kept pushing me to continue running. The big boost came after October. October is typically a lousy workout month for me as it is usually dominated by business travel and tradeshows. I've fallen out of my workout habit on more than one October, but this time, Anne sent me a message on dailymile: "I miss seeing your workout postings." - or something like that. That was just the push I needed. Here's proof: 47 miles in September, 10 in October, 56 in November, and 114 in December! Without her reminder message, there's no doubt November and December would have been 10-mile months. She even challenged me to run 110 miles in the month of December. It was a challenge that I had a lot of fun accomplishing and even ran 4 more than I needed. Thanks Anne!! (BTW - Now 190 lbs.)

Sara Meaney (@SaraMeaney), Mike Brenner (@MikeBrenner), and the Raggle Taggle gang at Brocach. Sara and her husband Mark have organized a regular open music session on Tuesday nights at Brocach. I've been a basement guitarist and singer for many years, but have seldom played out. They welcomed me into the session and gave me the support and confidence to at least try. I am sure there are sessions when they regret it (my singing needs work - lots of work!), but I think my guitar-playing at least doesn't hurt anybody's ears.  And the session is always more fun when Mike joins in with his accordian, drum, and cuíca. Well maybe not the cuíca so much, but it's still a good time! Thanks guys. It's meant a lot to me and I'm really looking to future sessions. My goal is to be good by 2015. Hang on!

Joe Woelfle aka @BlatzLiquor. Joe is significant because just before I started writing the above paragraph, he tweeted me and we went out for a beer at Leff's Lucky Town. Well, there's other reasons too. Joe is an all-around good guy and sort of a Ground Zero for the Milwaukee twittersphere. I've had a blast hangin' out with him at a couple of different watering holes and somehow, with Joe's help, we're gonna celebrate those 110 December miles. I'll keep you posted. And Joe's got a big year planned with his upcoming wedding to his lovely fiancée Claire. Join me in wishing them a joyous wedding and a fulfilling lifetime together.

Bruce Dierbeck (@BtotheD). Bruce is one of the first people I met from twitter. Bruce got together with me and Kay on Memorial Day at the the Hi Hat Lounge and Garage. We were going to meet for "one". You can guess how that turned out! We had a great time and Bruce is just as funny in person as he is on twitter. Since then we've gotten together a number of times and it always winds up being a barrel of laughs. Bruce also has been a regular pusher of mine on Dailymile and I greatly appreciate it. I also greatly appreciate that he lets me make fun of Bread (the band). I'm not sure he really "lets" me, but he hasn't yet tried to maim me for doing so.

Sara Santiago and Agustin Santiago (@SaraSantiago and @AgustinSantiago). At the risk of plagiarizing Anne Munkwitz's blog, Sara and Augie are just two of the nicest people I'll ever know. We've only hung out a handful of times, but Sara's support of me and Kay after Kay's New Year's Day Asthma attack was just wonderful. We appreciated it so much. It's the kind of thing that'll put a lump in your throat and make you appreciate the power of good people and - it's really all owed to - twitter! I think if I heard somebody say something bad about the Santiagos I'd punch 'em in the throat. I'm looking forward to cigars and cook-outs in the summer of 2010!

Where to stop this blog is not an easy thing to determine. There are so many wonderful people I've met - and many more that I haven't - who have made 2009 a wonderful year. To those I've met, I look forward to seeing you again; to those I haven't, I'm looking forward to meeting you out for "one". :)