Category: Wisconsin

“Lane Courtesy”—what a concept

Via The Capricious Commuter: The National Motorists Association has declared June National Lane Courtesy Month. I’ve written about how Minnesotans don’t relinquish the left lane to people who come up behind them who are driving faster than they are. (Californians are even worse, and Wisconsinites are completely unpredictable.) So here it is: a group that believes, “The lane courtesy ethic must be reinvigorated, promoted, and recognized for the contribution it can make toward safer, faster and more enjoyable travel.” Yes! (I’m not sure I agree with everything they stand for, but I’m certainly in favor of more “driver-to-driver courtesy.”)

Of course, I think it’s extremely unrealistic to expect people in this country to truly understand the ripple effects of their individual behavior. But we can dream.

Mary Driscoll’s number

Instead of bringing you up to date on what’s been going on in my life, or finishing cleaning my apartment (my mom is visiting for 11 days and is arriving late Friday night—yay!), I’m going to tell you one of my favorite true stories. The below is taken almost verbatim from my written account at the end of March 27, 1998 (though I’m editing for clarity).

Pete, especially, is going to love this.

the Buffoon Governor Trifecta (TM)

It occurred to me, after the recall election, that very few people have probably experienced the Buffoon Governor Trifecta(TM) that I have. 1986-1999: Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin. 1999-2002: Jesse Ventura, Minnesota. 2003-?: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California. The mind reels.

Cops and Breeders

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet.

My absolute favorite show on the radio is This American Life, hosted and produced by Ira Glass since 1995. It is what it says it is—people talking about life in this country—and defies further description, as their website acknowledges:

One of the problems with our show from the start has been that whenever we try to describe it in a sentence or two, it sounds awful. It’s a bunch of stories—some are documentaries, some are fiction, some are something else. Each week we choose a theme and invite different writers and performers to contribute items on the theme. This doesn’t sound like something we’d want to listen to on the radio—and it’s our show. . . . It’s a weekly show. It’s an hour. Its mission is to document everyday life in this country. We sometimes think of it as a documentary show for people who normally hate documentaries.

Anyway, it’s really good—in my opinion, the most enjoyable hour of radio produced anywhere today. I thought to mention it tonight because I was looking for this past weekend’s show online (it’s not there yet, but each show is archived in streaming RealAudio. Give it a listen).

Incredibly, I found out in my search for archived installments that Ira Glass is going to be here in Minneapolis, two weeks from tonight. Not only that, but he will be having a conversation with Chris Ware of Acme Novelty Library fame (also brilliant) about alternative forms of media! So if you’re anywhere near Minneapolis on February 18, 2002, at 7:30 pm, don’t miss this. It’s sure to be extremely entertaining and edifying.

ornamental divider

Unfortunately, not having done any writing of note in the last week-plus, I now have two weekends to summarize instead of one.

As promised, Cops and Breeders: On January 26th I went home to Hartford to hang out with my mom and see the new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. On the way out of town Saturday morning I realized, “Hmm, it might be a good idea to get tickets to the Breeders concert at the 400 Bar on February 20th that Amber and I plan to go to (the first really good 21+ concert after her 21st birthday), since I noticed they weren’t on sale online anymore.” Though I haven’t checked with the 400 Bar box office, I may have gotten the last two tickets available to that show. How do I figure that? Well, the Electric Fetus (record shop) was sold out. Ticketweb was sold out. Global Village, a store next door to the club, was my second-to-last hope. The woman at the counter, after I asked about the show, checked the outside of the ticket envelope to no avail. “We must not have gotten them in yet,” she speculated, not seeing the name of the concert written on the envelope. My heart sank, assuming that since Electric Fetus had gotten them and sold out of them, Global Village had as well. Then she searched through the envelope. “Wait,” she said, as she pulled out exactly two tickets to the Breeders show, with a rubberband doubled around them. She remarked that it was strange that the name of the show wasn’t on the envelope. My first thought was that someone who worked at the store was saving the last two for themselves, but I kept quiet about that. After I ran to my car to get my checkbook, the tickets were mine.

With that triumph, I left town on Interstate 94, heading east. Much like many other drivers on that route, I tend to drive at a high rate of speed. Some, such as those who nobly assume the awesome responsibility of enforcing the laws of the land, might consider that rate of speed excessive. However, I’ve been extremely lucky that, most times that I drive in excess of the posted limit, I don’t get caught.

A little over a third of the way through my trip, about a half-mile from a rest stop, I was preceded and followed by drivers of similar hasty inclination. I noticed, as I often do, a police cruiser on the side of the road after pulling over some unlucky offender. Seconds later, I saw another one. After that, I saw a third cop. This was all within a quarter of a mile. I decided to stop at the rest stop. I hung out for about 10 minutes or so, doing the usual rest stop things. When I left, after I pulled back onto the freeway, I saw another cop with another (probable) speeder. Unbelievable! Four speeders caught by four different cops within a half-mile, and I was none of them. I lead a charmed life.

Anyway, the museum was great, and I had a good time hanging out with my mom and stepdad, as I always do.

This past weekend, February 1-3, I went to Madison to spend time with some friends from college (Pete, Todd, Gief, and Jess). We went to see Lord of the Rings (me for the 3rd time, Pete for the 6th!), had reasonably good Chinese food, and played lots of Simpsons Road Rage (almost reason enough to buy a Playstation 2. It was for Pete, anyway). Also saw the incredible new office that HBG moved into after I left and played a little Quake (a very infrequent indulgence, which explains why I sucked so much). Good times.

Top Ten of 2001

As this very strange year comes to an end, I believe it’s entirely appropriate for me to compose my year-end Top Ten List. I’ve decided to end the year focusing on the positive. Maybe I should break it out into categories, but I’m just too lazy.

  1. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring twice in one weekend, with Nick and the gang on Sunday
  1. Surviving the year despite one or more incidents in which being in a car could have gotten me killed
  1. Hearing that my brother was hired as a police officer in North Carolina
  1. Seeing a baseball game in Milwaukee with my brother (and spending time with my mom, and my dad, and the rest of my family, the rest of the year)
  1. Enjoying the Land of Evermor in Baraboo, Wisconsin with Amber
  1. Discovering new (to me) music by Built to Spill, Quasi, Death Cab for Cutie, Guided by Voices (um, and, oh yeah, seeing the Minders and Of Montreal in separate shows)
  1. Visiting Seattle in the summer, and seeing Jonathan (and going to the web design conference, at which I got to meet Zeldman briefly)
  1. Launching
  1. Trekking out to Ohio for the Sloan shows in Detroit and (especially) Cleveland, and road-tripping with Will
  1. Enjoying a sunny, lazy day at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in early April with Amber

Barely missed the top 10: my summer road trip to Chicago and Columbus; the end of the state employee strike; finishing the design, though not the production, of the new Minnesota DNR web site. Fairly far off the top 10: shaving off my six-month-experiment full beard (but that was a good thing—believe me).

Happy new year, everyone. See you in 2002.

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