Saturday, December 30, 2006

The 2007 Year in Review

The Chicken Dumpling Dinner for Derelicts has been canceled for the third year in a row. The culprit: a garbage can. Plenty of newspaper to burn, braised collie haunches are very appetizing, but the cheap plastic garbage cans melt. Foraging continues for an old fashioned galvanized aluminum one.

The Northwestern has bucked the national trend. Their resident marketing dept. genius dreamed up the perfect circulation builder. A free parakeet with cage for a 13-week subscription. Renewal comes with bird seed. While Gannett nationally continues to see a drop in circulation, the only thing dropping on The Northwestern is...well...droppings.

The Mideast crisis continues with no end in sight. Republicans and Democrats both afraid to back out while the death toll continues to rise. The strain is showing with the addition of new categories. War protesters now count their own. They are divided into natural causes such as heat stroke and pneumonia, accidental - such as tripping into traffic, and combat. No war protesters have lost their lives in Oshkosh thus far, but if the war goes on much longer old age might enter into it.

UWO Polk Library had such success with offering free coffee during finals last year that students demanded free coffee all the time. The library, quite frankly, hasn't been this busy since the advent of the laptop and wireless access. Students also demanded that the library be open 24/7 all semester and the line for coffee never ends. Parents are complaining that their children stay up all week and do nothing but sleep at home weekends. Some don't even bother to go home, preferring to study at Polk and drink endless pots of coffee. When asked about the brew, the Director of Acquisitions said only that it is "fair trade coffee from South America." He became irritated when I pressed him on this and muttered something about "what the hell else are they going to send us? Laced beans?" At any rate students are spending a lot more time cracking the books.

I promised Bob Poeschl that I would never again make him the butt of my cruel humor and that goes double after his garage went up in flames in early August. A large cooking fire in the back yard kindled the blaze around midnight. What is it that vegetarians cook that takes that big of a fire?

Dr. Tony Palmeri's winning a seat on the city council was small potatoes next to what the local Green Party did. The Greens, deciding to outdo the Kevin Barrett visit of last year, invited Hugo Chavez to speak at UWO. Who'd a thought that inviting a Socialist would become a Capitalist's dream. Every motel room from Green Bay to Milwaukee full, restaurants SRO, more overtime for cops. Much bigger than the Air Show ever thought of being!

To be continued...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Salvation Army Wrap-Up

Captain Johnny Harsh told me today that the Kettle Campaign netted about $124,300. He and co-Captain Yoley Harsh both said at the same time: "Thank you Oshkosh!"

Some background...

The 2005 goal was $100,000 with $120,000 actually collected. The goal this year was $120,000.

It's a group effort which includes everyone who dropped a coin in a kettle, bellringers, and people behind the scenes who placed and picked up those kettles and more. A cast of hundreds, maybe thousands, and I'll name a few today.

Jim Barthel

The Chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, Jim was the 'nerve center' of the campaign. He volunteered to arrange locations and schedule bell ringers. He coordinated this effort from beginning to end spending countless hours on the phone while eyeing a master chart which covered an entire wall of his temporary office. Thank you James Barthel!

Bob Hennick

Bob, an old hand at ringing bells, spent upwards of ten hours per day in the cold. Thanks Bob!

Helen Lloyd Burr

She's got her own special way of filling the kettles. She calls her friends and tells them to write checks. Helen came in with over $6,000 in one day!

Chuck Jones

Chuck decided to 'give it all' this year and rang bells for some ninety-one hours! Thanks Chuck!

...And thanks to everyone else who helped! Captain Johnny says "Praise the Lord! The 2007 budget is covered!"

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Clyde Stubblefield and James Brown

James Brown's death brings the name Clyde Stubblefield to mind. Clyde was the drummer on the classic "I Feel Good."

Clyde saw the country while doing gigs and chose Madison, Wisconsin as his place to live. Clyde has been a fixture in the Madison scene for decades and on occasion plays on Michael Feldman's Saturday morning show on public radio.

His health has not been too good of late. He has been treated for cancer and benefits have been held in his honor. I understand that Clyde will be doing a gig tonight (12/26/06) at the King Club, 114 King St., near the Capitol in Madison.

A little more about Clyde can be gleaned here.

I worked with Clyde one time. It was a Music Performance Trust Fund job a long long time ago. It was a hastily put together combo which entertained the Stoughton Senior Citizens at lunchtime. It was low key and fun, not the kind of job that made Clyde famous, just a routine job which proved to me that Clyde could play anything for anyone and do it well.

Salvation Army Kettle Drive UPDATED!

Preliminary reports indicate that the Kettle Campaign has reached its goal and then some. The goal was $120,000. Bell ringing ended over the weekend. I was told that Saturday was a record day for kettle collections. I will post more as I get the figures.

Collections now top $122,000. This number will rise through the week. Some kettles are not yet in and a lot of change has not been counted. Final figures should be out by early next week.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry and Happy

I will take a break for several days and then post: The 2007 Year in Review. A lot of amazing things happened in 2007. Please help me with this by giving me all the news that fitted to print from the coming year.

Feel free to submit items for this. Word of warning! If you don't submit items it may be YOU that I write about.

I've got to get going now. I promised that I would be one of the "Three Wise Guys."


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mass Murder Being Planned over Christmas

Murder, maim, torture: welcome to the American way. No joy at this blog today. No matter what I attempt to do, a very haunting blog post prevents me from thinking about anything else.

Dennis Rahkonen of Superior, Wisconsin wrote it. It's called "While we celebrate the birth of Jesus, mass murder is being planned." You can read it here and be just as depressed as I am.

I wanted to post this last night but thought I'd do the proverbial 'count to ten' first. Headlines everywhere are mentioning that Bush may increase troop levels in January. It's over. That's even coming from Republicans such as Colin Powell. U.S. troop deaths approach 3,000. The Saudis are funding one group in Iraq, with Iran funding the other, and U.S. troops singing "Stuck in the Middle With You." The U.S. can't even keep the Bagdad Airport Road open much less Bagdad, much less the entirety of Iraq.

Nancy Pelosi saying "impeachment is off the table." What I am hearing on the streets of Oshkosh is: "What are the Democrats waiting for? Impeach him."

I keep picturing in my mind that sign James Genisio is apt to carry: "No One Died When Clinton Lied."

I'll be at the sundial early in the evening the day after the U.S. troop deaths hit 3,000. Join me there.


Monday, December 18, 2006

The Salvation Army and More...

Bell ringing for the Salvation Army ends this weekend and more volunteers are needed in these last few days. Please call Jim at (920) 232-7660 to schedule a time and place. If you have never done this, here are some hints. Dress warm. The best you can hope for is a drafty store entrance. Ask a couple of friends to help you. An ideal number at a site might be three. Two can alternate ringing the bell while the third is warming up in the store. Ringing a bell constantly will be very tiring. Trade off often and keep the bell ringing! Note that the Salvation Army is a church but also a social service agency. Folks from many area churches are out ringing bells. Try something new. Call that number today.

Ya. Sure. Person of the year! That's my picture on the cover of Time magazine! It's your picture on the cover of Time if you are reading this. There is quite an interesting take on that which you can read about here. It was written by a UWO student. I have no idea who this person is but I enjoyed it. It forced me to think, which in most cases makes my head hurt, but that's good; the thinking part, not my head.

Why did I know about that person's blog? I'll tell you why. My trackback software told me that they lurk on my blog. They (or a friend) live in Malone, Wisconsin. I could tell you the coordinates of latitude and longitude too but it's not important (or maybe it is). Even weirder: If I know this much, how much do they know. After all, I'm 17yrs past the age of 40. People over forty don't understand computers. People under forty know a lot more. Scary thought.

Just in...

Rudolph will not be leading the pack Sunday night. He checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic. I don't care to explain but it's got something to do with the nose. He has friends there. Spuds McKenzie is there as is Mr. Ed. Mr. Ed says: "OOOH Wilber, it was the Duckweed, the Duckweed."


Thursday, December 14, 2006

What's Gary Smokin' Now?

There's been talk about freebies in higher education in return for a guarantee that the recipient remain in Wisconsin ten years. Come now. Ten more years of bratwurst and cow tipping? Whoa!

I've got a better idea. It isn't mine and it isn't new but it's progressive. Hold on! Here's my take...

Every human being that has graduated from a Wisconsin High School should be guaranteed a "free ride" to a Wisconsin university or technical college. That includes:
  • FREE tuition
  • FREE room and board
  • and FREE books

Any questions?

Oh yeah. How to pay for it. Okay! Watch this...

  • TAX the students

Cool. How does that work?

Joe from outer Eureka wants to learn metalworking. After one semester at the tech. he manages to learn how to drink but not much else. On Joe's next minimum wage job he contributes 5% for a couple of years to pay for his schooling.

Sally, on the other hand, goes into Nursing School at UWO, continues into post-grad at Madison and becomes a world class surgeon. When Sally finally takes a paying job she pays 5% of her pay for 20 years or more to pay for her schooling.

This would put the rich and the poor, black or white, all on the same plateau.

It would also benefit the MD who wants to work a rural area. The MD would still pay 5% of wages yearly just like his richer classmate in a large city. A social worker or a civil engineer working in a poor country would still pay 5% of wages while their much wealthier classmates in the U.S. would also pay 5%.

A program such as this would take 10-15yrs to become solvent. Who would finance the start-up? The State Investment Board.

As this program becomes solvent it would free up money for elementary and secondary schools.

To take this a step further...

I'm a great believer in doing either of two things between the ages of 6 and 70: Either a person works or is in training for work. No other answer is appropriate.

As jobs change, and/or the person's ability to do them, this same plan would guarantee free tuition, room and board, books, etc. no matter what the person's age.

Want to know more? James Jung, retired President of the Great Lakes Higher Education Corp. is a proponent of this. He was in the business of student loans. He's an expert. This is what he said in February 2003.

Please pass this link around. It's worth consideration.

Hark! The Hair!

Life's been pretty good for Carol Hunt and Jennifer Lloyd. Both grew up in Oshkosh, like it here, and some time ago partnered in a business venture. Business is good, no complaints there.

Carol and Jennifer are co-owners of CJ's Murdoch Avenue Salon located at 1302 West Murdoch. They offer an array of beauty services with basic haircuts at $17 for men and $20 for women. As with small businesses anywhere, Carol and Jennifer are interested in the local community. This fall, with a hat-tip to "something they saw on Ophrah", they decided it was time to do a 'give back' to Oshkosh. After some thought the answer was easy: "Do what you do best." Cut hair that is!

On Monday, December 18, they will be giving about 40 haircuts free of charge to low-income people. They enlisted the Salvation Army to assist them in distributing coupons. Each person must call ahead for an appointment. It is their feeling that a fresh haircut would be a nice present to give and to receive just in the time of Nick.

Questions? More information? (920) 651-0870

Civic minded people inhabit our town and now we know of two more...

Thank you Carol Hunt.

Thank you Jennifer Lloyd.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Adults Only Please, not for kids

In the interest of fairness to people not of my political or religious leanings I am turning this space over to others, just for today...

There are folks who are a bit to the right of my Unitarian Universalist leanings and I try to be considerate of them. Some of them even vote. Some of them even voted for Bush, the most moral.

I turn to Reverend James Rutz for food for thought today. Jim warns us to beware of the Devil's food. I trust Jim because he's the whitest ol' boy I read today and his whole story can be read here.

He sez the devil's food is soy. He sez "soybean products are feminizing."

More things Jim sez:
  • Soy causes homosexuality
  • Soy produces heart problems
  • Soy causes excess fat and obesity
  • Soy causes cancer in children
  • Soy causes breast cancer

Rev. Jim sez a bit more, with the last two words being: "avoid tofu."

Beginning tomorrow I go back to being a liberal and will again belittle stupid right-wing evangelical mind---ks.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Free Advice for Council and Mayor Wannabes

You can pay lip service or ignore this column and still get elected.

You can pay attention to this column and possibly make a difference.

The former will render you ineffectual. The latter will make you remembered as a true leader and someone who cared for the overall well being of Oshkosh.

There are three subjects to remember in leading Oshkosh into the future:
  • Poverty
  • Poverty
  • Poverty

There is a definite connection between poverty and crime. No matter what the official unemployment figures say, the percentage of unemployed is far higher. When a person no longer receives an unemployment check they are no longer counted. The situation in Oshkosh is not dire but could very easily get worse. Some areas of town look pretty drab. Wages are much lower now than a couple of decades ago and the cost of a roof, heat, and lights is through the ceiling.

It's a good idea to look around us to cities that are a bit bigger and observe their thoughts and ideas. Paul Soglin was recently asked what he thought of the mayor's race in Madison. Soglin, a student activist in the 1960's there, and Mayor of Madison several times over the years is convinced that poverty should be on the front burner. You can read the Capital Times article here and Soglin's own site "Waxing America" here.

He tells how Madison's crime rate has dramatically increased over the years and what might be done to change it. His ideas deserve careful consideration.

Oshkosh Truck will not be on an upward curve forever. Dependence on defense related industries is a recipe for disaster. For the community's sake they should diversify further into non-defense items but capitalism's ugly head will rear and the quick buck will take precedence over community needs. Jobs will disappear in coming years. Ed Garvey, writing at, says today that: "There really is no Iraq to save" and "Time to face reality. We have indeed lost in Iraq. Bring the troops home now!"

Timothy J. Bowers of Columbus,OH is a person who found a personal answer to poverty. He was three years away from collecting full Social Security. At age 62 partial S.S. payments wouldn't do it. He robbed a bank of $80, handed it to the security guard, and calmly waited for the gendarmes to arrive. He asked the judge for exactly three years in the prison system so he could then collect full Social Security. The judge obliged. You can find a number of articles here. Mr. Bowers was too old for a paper route and too young for Social Security. A lot of Boomers including me are toughing it out that way. Physical work is too taxing but we're not old enough to retire.

The Progressive Magazine (print edition) talks about Mr. Bowers. Over 2 million souls are now incarcerated in our country and the number grows every day. 1.3 million living units are covered by Section 8 housing and the number drops every day. The Progressive asks: "Could the prison system be the new Section 8?"

Ways to lessen poverty will hold down crime. Non-defense related industries would assist in lessening poverty.

Ignoring poverty in Oshkosh is a recipe for disaster.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Morton Pharmacy, City Center, Wins!

Anyone who knows me well knows better than to say 'boo' to me before I've started my third cup in the morning, not to mention my utter hatred of telephones. Friday morning I was jolted by the phone after only one cup. The voice on the other end said something like:

Me: Mall Wart?
Me: Mall Wart??

We went back and forth this way until I convinced her not to use nasty words. It was the Living Healthy Clinic. They were calling about my prescriptions and suggesting I go to Mall Wart. I reiterated that I don't go there. I don't do Mall Wart!

She finally got it across to me that she wanted me to take advantage of their $4 Rx plan. My reply was that Target has the same plan. She disputed this. I finally told her I would do the legwork locally and reminded her that the Target plan and Rx list is posted online.

Living Healthy Clinic...background...

Located at 510 Doctors Court off Bowen Street, it is the place of last resort among the uninsured. Many of its clients are low income working folk. It is an off-shoot of the UWO Nursing School and gives practical hands-on experience for students. There are no MD's there. NP's see patients, that is Nurse Practioners; nurses with extra training but below that of an MD. They are able to prescribe drugs. It is funded by Affinity, Aurora, and Theda Care Medical Groups. Funding also comes from Winnebago County (your tax money at work) and recently an 'earmark' courtesy of Sen. Herb Kohl.

I have used this clinic since losing group health insurance in 2003. I was Wal-Marted out of my insurance by the closing of Cub Foods after the Big Box Mall Wart opened. They have extra-ordinary people staffing the Living Healthy Clinic. They go the extra mile to help patients, a courteous and very professional staff.

I went to Target and spoke to a pharmacist. Of course they have the $4 program. It was introduced in Wisconsin one and one-half to two weeks before Mall Wart did theirs! The printout was front and center on the Pharmacy counter and I was given one. He referred me to the store manager who made it clear to me that they would contact the Living Healthy Clinic and provide them with the information.

When I got to the car I thought: I'll go price-check Mall Wart. I parked in the handicapped zone and made the short walk into the store. Saw a lady I know coming out. She said "Hi Gary." I replied "You shop in this rat hole?" With a quizzical expression she said "You're going in there". I explained that I was doing a price check and that I've never spent a dime there.

Price check in hand I went downtown to Morton Pharmacy, City Center. I did the same price check there.

DRUM ROLL.......................................

Hydrochlorothiazide 25mg. A simple water pill often used for high blood pressure.
30-count: $4 bucks at Target and Mall Wart.

Anyone knows that the best prices are often in even numbers such as a 100-count bottle.
Mall Wart 100-count: $11.36
(Note that I'm saving the best for last)

DRUM ROLL and RIMSHOT..................................

Morton Pharmacy 100-count: $10.95 !!!

Morton Pharmacy wins! Morton is no big chain operation. It's a small group of stores in northeast Wisconsin. I find the pharmacists helpful and at least one remembers my first name. They come in 4% cheaper than the "Always High Prices, Always, MALL WART.

That ends my price checking expedition but more detail follows...

Looking for a wonderful charity? Look no further than Living Healthy Clinic, 510 Doctors Court, Oshkosh,WI. 54901. Write them a check today. They do a lot of good in Oshkosh.

Pharmacists... First year grads will earn about $90,000 at Walgreens with a $20,000 'kicker' as a sign-on bonus. Mall Wart is paying $60,000 plus. Who do you want dispensing your pills? I certainly would not want the one at the bottom of the pay scale. That would be the Always Low Wages, Always, MALL WART.

Shop downtown Oshkosh when you can. Remember: If you can't find it at Fleet Farm and Target, you can probably get by without it.

Stay well.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Poverty in Oshberg

I sift through the blogs at Oshkosh News at least twice a week. Babblemur's title Turn Left at the Citgo is funny. We'll see if it's still funny when I steal it for a later post. I lurk at Jef Hall's site. I am very glad he alerted me to Bill Moyer's recent speech to the West Point grads. It was great reading. Thank you Jef. I highly recommend reading Moyer's entire speech. The one post that really lit a fire under my butt was at Lake Winneblogo. I thought about posting a reply there but hell, I got my own blog! Here goes...

Capitalism with a conscience? Fighting Bob LaFollette thought it was possible. Ask the clerks at our local Mall-Wart what they go through to see a doctor. How do they pay? I asked a greeter why she worked. She replied: To pay Medicare premiums. Others will spout Badger Care. Others use the UWO Living Healthy Clinic. All of these are government supported, i.e. tax money... your money.

I highly suspect that the Waltons who take up five of the top ten slots on Forbes Richest would stay firm on that list even if they paid the complete medical bills of every one of their million plus employees.

I saw a real M.D. for the first time in three years last summer. He ordered some tests done. The various lab tests immediately shot into the five-figure category. I couldn't afford the first office call much less any lab work. I am of the feeling that those with health insurance and taxpayers (meaning you) will pay more to help defray that $10,000 plus lab bill of mine and many other uninsured bills.

I firmly believe in forcing the obscenely rich to take some of the load off from our rapidly disappearing middle class. Matt Rothchild, writing half a block from the Capitol in Madison, lays out the story here, in that magazine inspired by Republican Robert LaFollette.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Father Carr's Place 2B

It has been my habit to post numbers concerning the local shelter. I generally limit myself to homeless issues at Father Carr's, and not to his medical clinic or food pantry.

These are current numbers from over the past weekend...

Men's Shelter
  • Number of rooms available: 75
  • Number of rooms in use: 12 (approx.)

Women's Shelter

  • Number of rooms available: 75
  • Number of rooms in use: 4 or 5

Note that several of the men are working and one or two of the women have jobs. That's encouraging.

Readers should note that shelters in Fond du Lac, Appleton, and Green Bay are running at maximum or near maximum capacity. The woman who runs the Appleton shelter is irate every time a person is brought to her from Oshkosh!

There is something wrong with this picture. What can be done?


  • Call your favorite Social Service Agency and ask questions.
  • Make a donation to the Appleton shelter?
  • Do not donate to Father Carr.

Note that Father Carr took in $1.1 million in donations in the last year reported.

Folks. Take it from there.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Oshkosh Peace Wreaths in the Denver Post

Babblemur talked about it here. The MSM and the blogosphere was buzzin' with the news. Nancy Lofholm from the Denver Post in the great state of Colorado asked even more questions and talked to someone from the Winnebago Peace and Justice Center in Oshkosh. She learned that a record 20 Peace Wreaths were sold on November 28. You can read the Denver Post article here.

Jenni Ryan, local peace activist, tipped me off about this at Saturday's Gallery Walk. Sales of the Peace Wreaths shot up with the hoopla in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

The Home Owners Association (HOA) in a subdivision of Pagosa Springs got their panties in a bundle over a peace wreath and threatened the homeowner with a $25 per day fine. The HOA suffered the wrath of the blogosphere and later backed off. Folks entering "peace wreath" into search engines soon found the Oshkosh based Winnebago Peace and Justice Center fundraiser which accounted for an immediate jump in sales.

This is where I toot my own horn. Over a year ago it was 'I' who suggested this as a fundraiser for WPJC. The idea took off and anyone who drove past the sundial at night a year ago got treated to a super large lighted peace wreath above the WPJC headquarters at 123 Market Street. Other people did all the work. I supervised. Sorry to say the large peace wreath didn't get put up this year. (Whatever happened to that oversized hula hoop?)

The wreaths are much better this year and sales are way up. There is still time to get one. Please contact:

Mention my name and they might give you a discount (just kidding). You can learn more about the wreaths here and here.

Peace on Earth!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

First Tuesdays at First Congregational

Tuesday December 5 at noon marks the last of this year's free concert series at First Congregational (UCC) Church, 137 Algoma. A lunch follows. Donations are appreciated but the concert and lunch are free! Everyone is welcome. This is a community-wide event.

This month's program is an opera, Christmas oriented, which was first broadcast on network television in the early 1960's. It was re-broadcast many times over the years, and most will find it quite familiar. It is called "Amahl and the Night Visitors." The singing will be done by Joyce Andrews, Frank Hoffmeister, and Elizabeth Thomas with Nancy Schmalz on piano. Don't let the word 'opera' scare you. Trust me. The music is wonderful.

For more on this the First Congregational website is here, the concert schedule is here, and wikipedia has a nice article on 'Amahl' which can be seen here.


I have had a number of comments regarding the fact that I link Al Jazeera News from this blog. Al Jazeera covered the Pope's recent trip to Turkey with four very nice articles. I have linked one of the articles right here. You can read the others by clicking on Al Jazeera on your left and entering 'Pope' on their search line.

Al Jazeera passes my litmus test for objectivity in reporting and I suspect you might agree. Reporting about Christians in the Arab world from an Arab news source is certainly a good test. Al Jazeera has passed this one with ease. Don't be afraid to go there!