Thursday, January 4, 2018


It's tough to know what to get grown kids for Christmas.  They're not interested in toys so much anymore.  They don't really want Mom & Dad picking out their clothes.  But I got an idea this year.

A while back in my You Tube feed I saw a video for song called Dark Nights by a band called Dorothy.  I liked it. Watched some more of their music and thought, "How have I not heard this before?  Why do they not get time on the radio?  This is awesome!"

Then late in November I saw that Dorothy was kicking off their tour this season at The Rave in Milwaukee. Cool.  I am going to share this with my boys, I know what we're getting them for Christmas.

So yesterday we went to a concert.  Here are some photos from The Rave's website.

One cool thing Dorothy does is choose opening acts from local bands.  Or semi-local anyway.  For this show she choose a band called Rivals from Houghton, MI ... a small town in the UP.  They were a good opening act.  Dynamic.  Got the crowd pumped up for Dorothy.

The main act was the main act, though.  Dorothy was amazing.  Loud, fast, fun.  Kind of a small crowd ... small enough to play in the bar at the Rave instead of the main ballroom.  Made for a real intimate show with the band RIGHT THERE!!!  I mean Dorothy was literally right down in the fans' faces, interacting with us.  It was great.

You can actually see me & Ben in this picture ... the back of our heads, anyway.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Las Vegas

I feel like I have to start with a disclaimer that I don't hate guns.  I don't mind that people own guns. I've been shooting and it's fun, right? I enjoy it.  Not enough to buy my own guns, but I understand why some folks do spend the time and money on it.

I also feel strongly that right now is absolutely the right time to talk about our national problem with guns. It's not politicization of a tragedy, it's just that the tragedy is a very visceral example of the intersection of the American attitude about guns and the law of large numbers.  And that’s exactly what we need to talk about. Jimmy Kimmel made a great point in his very moving monologue after the shooting.  20-30 years ago there was a hotel fire in California that killed many people.  A few months later there was another one.  Nobody argued that it wasn't the time to politicize a tragedy.  Instead, the California legislature investigated the issue, identified the problems, drafted a fire code and there hasn't been a similar tragedy since.

It is absurd, especially in the shadow of the tragedy to try and claim that there is no problem. The claim "but those guns are already illegal. There is no regulatory change that can be made," That's just not acceptable.  Any politician who makes that argument is just too lazy to do his job.

So the law of large numbers ... for those who may not know, it's a cool math thing that allows us to derive probabilities from statistics. A simple example is rolling two dice. The likelihood of getting snake eyes is a simple to calculate 1/36.  Yet anyone who has played Settlers of Catan can tell you over the course of a typical game (approximately 60 - 80 rolls) you may not get the expected 1 - 2 2s. You may get 0. Or 5.  That's random statistics. 

However, if you roll the dice 36,000 times, you will get very close to 1000 2s.  Maybe not exactly 1000, but very close to the calculable 1/36.  And even closer to 1/36 if you roll the dice 360,000 times.

The inverse is that if you want to know a probability that is not so easily calculable as dice rolls, such as the likelihood someone will order pineapple on a pizza or that an accident will occur at an intersection, you can look at a large number of test cases and approximate those probabilities. Use them to stock a restaurant correctly, or build roundabouts in the right places.

A corollary to the law of large numbers is that if there is any chance something may happen, then if you perform enough tests, it eventually will happen. No matter how small the probability.  Eventually someone will ask for sardines on his pizza.  Eventually an accident will occur at any corner.  I mean, someone wins the lottery, right?

The intersection of the law of large numbers and American attitudes about guns is that it is too easy to get guns in America. We have proliferated them far too broadly. It is a certainty that eventually a crazy man is going to shoot up a country festival.  Or a baseball field.  Or a school.  And sure, theoretically, those things could happen even with strong regulations ... but it is far less likely and would be far less common and that is worthwhile.

I strongly believe we need to stem the flow of firearms. They should be harder to acquire.  It should require background checks, waiting periods, licensing and registration.  Certain types of firearms should simply not be legal to sell to civilians.

More than just an issue of gun numbers, though, we need to confront our attitude about guns.  We have let the NRA define the debate and that is a mistake.  They are not some valiant third party protecting our 2nd amendment rights.  They are a lobbying organization for the firearm industry.  They're not fighting for liberty or personal security, they are fighting to sell as many guns as possible.

One thing the NRA isn't lying about, though, is that guns don't kill people, people do, right? And then my entire life the NRA has been telling us that it is okay to shoot people. In fact, you should carry a gun with you in case you need to.  That's abhorrent. It is never good to shoot someone. It always, regardless of circumstances, means something is going tragically wrong. It should be treated as such. Not celebrated.

Culpability for this shooting, the one in Virginia, Sandy Hook, all of these mass shootings, in some measure lies at the feet of the NRA.  For their tireless work to inundate the USA with large numbers of firearms, every one of which is a test, "is this the crazy man that will go on a shooting rampage?" For their constant, callous devaluation of human life.  For pushing the propaganda that guns are a legitimate answer ... to crime, to social problems, to anything.

I don't know what the answer is.  I suspect there is no single simple answer.  But I strongly believe the answer needs to include those two elements. Fewer guns.  Confronting our NRA attitude about guns.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Summer pictures and more

Becky went to visit Sam in the Spring.  Went to the Milwaukee Zoo.

 I love this picture of Tabby.  "yeah, I got pig tails.  wanna' make something of it?"

Easter eggs!

Uncle Mikey's over spring break.  Lotsa' mud.  Some shooting.

Becky took Grandma & Grandpa and kids to Barkhausen when they came up.

Grandma & Grandpa took them on a boat trip in the Dells.

Santi & Philipe were still here! Seems like so long ago.

Aw.  Ben is such a good brother.

 Yay!  Spring!

 Testing for my blue belt.

Took a weekend trip to Wausau.  Mikey took us out on his boat.  Then we hiked up to an abandoned quarry on Rib Mountain.  The quarry had a pond with a bunch of tadpoles.  And a ton of turkey buzzards.

Graduation!  Congratulations to Ben!

Santi's parents arrived to pick him up.  It was nice to meet them.

 Goodbye Santi!  Good luck!

Becky and I spent our anniversary tooling around the Appleton area.  Including a trip to High Cliff State Park.

 Sam is growing a better beard than I have.

Becky & I went to an Oneida Pow Wow.  Super cool.

Becky took Ella and Tabby to the DeYoung Zoo.  Had a great time getting up close with wild animals.

Becky took a trip to New York to photograph Amanda's new baby. Tabby went along and had a great time with Amanda's niece, Hannah.

Welcome to Wisconsin Laure-Elise!

One of the first days we took a trip out to Wequiok Falls and Bay Shore Park.

Happy Birthday Tabby!  Double digits!

Trip out west! Stopping in  Dubuque, Iowa for lunch on the Mississippi.

We stopped at the Lewis and Clark Landing in Omaha and visited the Monument to Labor.

Met up with Bob and LeeAnn visiting Becky's grandparents.

Finally arrived in Laramie, Wyoming.  Spent a morning hiking at Vedauwoo.

Target shooting.  Even Laure-Elise decided to try shooting the .22.

Visited the old Territorial Prison turned museum on the way out of town.

Also visited a wayside stop that included a dinosaur/fossil museum?  Neat find.

Spent a morning driving and hiking out to Bloomington Lake.  Beautiful.  That is really snow still on the mountain there near the lake.  There were humming birds all over the meadows around the lake.

And there were cows on the road out to Bloomington Lake.  The road was awful.  We broke our exhaust system.

Playing at the rental.

Playing on Bear Lake.

More hiking.

While our van was being repaired in Montpelier, we visited their local museum.

We stopped at Rick's Spring along Hwy 89 through the canyon into Utah.  Becky took pictures.  Laure-Elise found a cave

First morning in Utah, we visited Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake, maybe 20 minutes from my parents' place.  There are no antelope on Antelope Island, but there's an old buffalo ranch turned tourist stop.  And some now wild buffalo roaming around.

The Great Salt Lake was as disgusting as I remembered it.  Brine flies, muck and stench.  But as long as you just look at the pictures .. the water, the light, the birds.  It's very pretty.

Picked up Zach & Katie and went hiking in Memory Grove Park.  I met a dog from Racine.  At least that's what it's tag said.

We also went to the mall and to Temple Square.

My parents took us to the Hill Air Force Base museum.

I thought the Minute Man missile was cool because my father tells me his Dad made the tools to work on it.

Got together for a picnic at Jeremy & Leah's.  Of course that included horse riding.


We got to meet Jeng, Joel's finace.

Stopped for a rest at Martin's Cove and hiked up to Devil's Gate.

Visited Crazy Horse that night.

Then Mt Rushmore the next morning.

We finally got back to Wisconsin after a loooong day of driving.  Becky took advantage of the next couple weeks before school started to tool around the state with Laure-Elise.  Starting here at home with a morning at Ashwaubomay park.  While Ben was on lifeguard duty.

Pamperin park.

Baird Creek.

Eau Claire Dells.

Where they found frogs!

Wait, what?

And Ben is off to MSOE!  Good luck to Ben.

Voyageur Park.

Another trip to DeYoung Zoo.

Roche De Crie and another boat ride at the Dells.

And Tabby starts her last year in elementary school!

 Laure-Elise joined the Ashwaubenon Tennis team.  For a fund raiser they went to the first Packer game of the season v. the Seattle Seahawks and handed out rally towels for the Packers.  I was even told that we could stay to watch the game after if we wanted.

 Which, duh, of course we wanted too.  We didn't have seats, but we hung out on the roof and watched. So here Laure-Elise is at half time.  Right before we got kicked out.  Because, no, really we weren't supposed to stay and watch the game.  Ah well. It was fun while we were there.