Planning Your Wisconsin Post-Spring-Birdwatching Drink

The Marsh of La Crosse, facing the bluffs of Hixon Forest. Jamie Peacock/2009

The Marsh of La Crosse, facing the bluffs of Hixon Forest. Jamie Peacock/2009 thinks your winter depression will best be defeated by standing in the cold, staring at geese, grackles, and other inedible poultry. But when your toes get numb, you need to know where to warm up:

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Iron Mining is “Back” in Wisconsin

colorcoatLast Friday, Gov. Walker officially signed a controversial iron mining bill into law. This law comes even as current iron mining giant and neighboring state Minnesota reconsiders its own lax environmental regulations on the practice.

Some very important things to note:

  • This legislation applies only to iron mining. Frac sand mining regulations, another hot-button issue in the state, remain virtually unaffected by this legislation.
  • The “guarantee” of jobs comes from a single company, Gogebic Taconite. Gogebic has not even begun exploratory drilling of the Penokee Range to which it owns mineral rights. But on that note…
  • Gogebic was a huge part of drafting this legislation.
  • Also key in fighting for, and drafting, this legislation was a man named Tim Sullivan. Sullivan formerly served as CEO of Bucyrus International, a mining equipment manufacturer. The full extent of Sullivan’s work passing this bill is unknown, as he is not currently paid by the government or a lobbying group. He is retired as a CEO. How he paid his rent in the last year is not entirely clear.

The Limburger Experience

To know whether you like something, you have to try it twice. I tried Limburger twice, and I still wouldn’t pick it in a lineup.

My wife tried it twice and fell in love.

Early in the aging process (right), Limburger actually resembles a chalky, bland feta. It only reaches the height of its pungency after five months (far left) (Jacob Bielanski/2012)

The story of limburger, though, is much more Wisconsin than meets the eye. Originally from Limburg, Belgium (not Germany), cheese makers all over Europe produce their own variation of the infamous fromage. But in the U.S., there’s only one place: the Chalet Cheese Co-op in Monroe, Wisconsin.

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Rookies and refs

This was written by Marc ages ago–during the preseason, in fact–and I chose to set off on a European journey instead of publishing it. Now I’m sitting in a cold flat in Leipzig, reading tweets from members of the Packers regarding last night’s *ahem* “touchdown.” This needed to be run, as it provides a good catharsis–or fuel for the flame war. I’m o.k. with either.

For those of you that were unaware, the “professional” referees (they work part-time, but still) of the NFL have been locked out over a contract dispute.  Most of us don’t notice trees until they fall, and the fact is most of us don’t notice NFL officiating crews until they make a mistake—except for this year. 

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Madison’s Workaday Performer: Epilogue

Lyle conducts an interview in his office--a dusty, century-old Carrillon tower. (Jacob Bielanski/2011)

Lyle is quick to brush off his jobs, as if they are simply a means to an end. He does not worry about the lights being shut off in the climatology office if he leaves, in spite of the fact that he is its only paid employee. He does not worry about being succeeded in the Carillon. He knows that one day, “Whad’ya Know” will end production.

But will he “retire”?

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Pay the Badger already!

(Author’s note: there is nothing in the NFL world to talk about.  It’s all training camp fluff pieces about how the “defensive line looks great” and “so-and-so has heart” and “we feel like we’re ready to go to a higher level.”  In other words, banal bullsh*t.  So, I thought I’d talk about college football, and give everyone a different reason to yell at me.)

(Editor’s note: Go Badgers. 😉 )

If it were taxpayer dollars sewing those ridiculous outfits, HEADS WOULD ROLL. (Photo: KDSwenson/Flickr, 2011)

As long as I can remember (about two weeks back or so, on a good day) I have always been fascinated with the game of football.  Not specific teams or players, but the mechanics, the nuts and bolts. But 45-0 finishes between powerhouses and Pop Warner league teams are one of the reasons I can’t get into college football.

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Madison’s Workaday Performer pt. 4: Playing for God

Lyle grew up on a farm in Abbotsford, Wisconsin. The son of Norwegian and German parents, he was confirmed into the Peace Evangelical & Reformed Church in 1958. It was the church which provided a meager sustenance for many of his years in Madison.[Myers] says that, of the two organists, he thinks Lyle is the better one.

On November 13, he is performing at First Church of Christ, Scientist, deep in Madison’s west side. He is warming up as people file in. Twenty-one followers will arrive on time.

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Madison’s Workaday Performer, pt. 3: The Tower

Lyle Anderson plays the Carillon. (photo: Jacob Bielanski/2011)

A carillon is an instrument comprised entirely of differently-sized bells. One such instrument sits housed in a yellow-stoned tower next to Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The bells sit in an open space at the top, open to a magnificent view of nearby Lake Mendota. A series of dusty wires connects the clappers of the bells to individual wooden handles below. The wooden handles are arranged like piano keys in a room below the bells. Only a tiny window offers a view of the rainy-slick Observatory Drive, where students scramble to classes in the surrounding buildings. In this castle-like room, Lyle Anderson sits and prepares for the weekday performance.


President Lyndon B. Johnson may have single-handedly steered Lyle towards a career in music. In the final semester of his linguistic bachelor’s, with the Vietnam War in full swing, Anderson was gearing up to pursue his master’s degree at University of Michigan. President Johnson then announced the end to the graduate school deferment—all master’s-degree-seeking students would remain eligible for the draft.

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The Packers’ Draft: Lipstick on a Super-sexy Pig

The Packers' offense huddles fruitlessly, as every play comes down to Rodgers being ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. (photo: Bjorn Hanson, Flickr/2009)

The Packers’ decision to go for a pass rush in the draft is puzzling at best and mildly retarded at worst.  Granted, A.J. Hawk’s numbers were less-than-expected (to put it mildly) and Clay Matthews was more of a factor in the run defense—but at least the Pack had a workable run defense and Hawk still has a lot of potential rushing from the outside (he’s fast, but a bit light).

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Madison’s Workaday Performer, pt. 2: The Worst Call Screener

Anderson (left) enjoys lunch alongside the late Jim Packard (right). (photo: Jacob Bielanski/2011)

When listing off his jobs, radio show host Michael Feldman refers to Lyle as a “weather guy.” Lyle sits amongst four others who work for the syndicated Public Radio International show “Whad’ya Know” at the Great Dane Brew Pub in downtown Madison. All of them, except for Lyle, work on the stage.

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