Karen Terrier

This is Karen.

Image credits: Generic Karen from Film Daily. Target Karen and Walmart Karen from the Daily Mail. Central Park Karen from NY Daily News. Pacific Heights Karen from sfist.com.

Karen Key: “Target Karen” destroyed a mask display while filming it. She doesn’t like to wear a mask and thinks you shouldn’t wear one, either. “Walmart Karen” blocked a parking lot and screamed profanities and racist insults at those (including police) who asked her to move her car. She was in Hawaii and yelling at Hawaiians. “Central Park Karen” called police to tell them an African American man was threatening her life – because he asked her to leash her dog in a bird sanctuary. “Pacific Heights Karen” called police because a man wrote “Black Lives Matter” in sidewalk chalk on his retaining wall. She insisted she knew the owner, who would not approve. Clearly the actual property owner’s skin tone was too dark for him to live there. Luckily, the responding officer knew him and knew it was his own house.

This is a bull terrier. It was bred to harass bulls.

This is a rat terrier. It was bred to harass rats.

This is a fox terrier. It was bred to harass foxes.

Dog images from AKC.com

As a child I learned about a breed called a Cairn terrier, but I heard it as “Karen terrier”. Why not? We could use it to let the above Karens know that their attitude is not wanted.

Why not?

image from meme-generator.com

Tales of Our Only President

The New York Times has revealed that Our Only President did not pay Federal Income Tax for 10 of the past 15 years. In the two most recent years in which he paid taxes, he paid $750. In 2018 he claimed an income of $435 million in a financial disclosure, while claiming a loss of $47 million on his tax return. There are two logical and not incompatible explanations for this: 1) He is a liar and a cheat; 2) our tax code is structured to favor the wealthy. He calls the story “fake news”. Unfortunately, many in his base will probably love him even more for this. Many consider taxes to be evil and think anyone who dodges taxes is smart and a hero. Income tax evasion ultimately brought down Al Capone. May we be so lucky this time.

P.S. He is also reported (in a new book by a supporter and convicted felon) to have tried to sell his campaign on the idea of Ivanka as his running mate in 2016.

When is a precedent not a precedent?
(A letter to Senator Ron Johnson. He declined to respond. This is a slightly abridged version, cut to fit a newspaper’s 200-word limit. They chose not to run it.)

Dear Sen Johnson:
Please explain why it is not the height of hypocrisy for you to have said, in May of 2016, “Let the American people have a voice in the composition of the Supreme Court…Instead of a lame duck president and Senate nominating and confirming, a new president and Senate — elected by the people only a few months from now — should make that important decision. I can’t think of a fairer or more democratic process”; and then in September of 2020 to say, “President Trump has indicated he’s going to nominate someone. Leader McConnell has indicated he’ll give that nominee a vote, and I’m very supportive of that.” Further, in 2016 you said, “In the politicized atmosphere of an election year, you probably shouldn’t even nominate someone. It’s not fair to the nominee, it’s not fair to the court.”

I agree with you that the situations are not exactly parallel. In 2016 we were 6 months away from a presidential election. Now we are 6 weeks away from a presidential election. Can you explain this as anything but a bald-faced grab for power? Say it ain’t so Joe. Show a shred of decency.

You may want to skip the italicized section if that made sense to you. If you’re not from around here, Senator Ron Johnson is from the same neck of the woods as Wisconsin’s worst Senator, Joe McCarthy. On June 9, 1954, Joseph Welch, General Counsel for the US Army, was being interrogated by Sen McCarthy. In exasperation, he finally asked McCarthy, “At long last, have you no sense of decency?”

In 1919 the Chicago White Sox allegedly threw the World Series in exchange for bribes from gamblers, in an affair known as “The Black Sox Scandal.”. While they were acquitted, several players were banned from baseball for life. Star player Shoeless Joe Jackson was indicted and Charley Owens, writing in the Chicago Daily News, ran a story headlined “Say it ain’t so, Joe”, asking him to deny the accusation. The line was misattributed to a child, making for this scene in the film “Eight Men Out”:

I’m not sure how much of this Senator Johnson understood. By urging him to show a shred of human decency, I wanted him to put himself above Senator Joe McCarthy. By calling him “Joe” I wanted to draw the parallels between him and Joe McCarthy, to be sure he understood the gravity of the situation. By adding “Say it ain’t so” I was asking him to disavow his statement. References to both the Black Sox Scandal and the McCarthy hearings (especially in the same sentence) may have made it a little dense. Also, Ron Johnson seems to be a little dense. Sorry, I don’t usually explain myself this much. And you’re not Ron Johnson.

Day of Atonement

While my wife and daughter fast, pray, and sing in the Temple of Zoom, I atone by cleaning our adopted highway. Gut Yontiv.

Mark Hirsch, of Platteville, WI, photographed an old Burr Oak every day for a year and chronicled it in the book “That Tree“. The tree blew down in a storm this summer. While I haven’t taken this photo every day, this is the same view from our adopted highway (County F by Brigham Park), that has appeared in this space multiple times, but never this photo from today. While it rained in town, and clouds stayed above me all morning, the valley to the west basked in sunshine.

Finally, happy birthday to my Big Brother who, as a young whippersnapper of my current age, sailed the Rolex China Sea Race, in the boat pictured. (Ask to see his dragon tattoo.)

The Belly of the Beast

I drove through what some might call the heart of Trump Country today; but that would require that Trump, or his support, had a heart. Hence, it was the belly.

Friday: I saw a car window sign that said, “God sent us Donald J Trump…” The rest of the print was too fine to read, so I’ll have to surmise that it said, “…to see if we have the moral strength to resist the temptations of the Anti-Christ.”

A pair of billboards in the Fox River Valley said “Turn America into a Marxist Sh*thole. Vote Democrat.” The accompanying picture was Mt Rushmore featuring Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Josef Stalin, Mao-Tse Tung, and Vladimir Lenin (left to right). Sorry, but I couldn’t take a picture at 70 mph.

I had to go through Hell to get to Heaven, and am now in Peninsula State Park, just outside of Fish Creek. Tomorrow would have been the Peninsula Century Fall Challenge. It was another pandemic cancellation. Since I already had a campsite reserved, and the roads are still here, I will ride the Door Peninsula tomorrow. More to come post-ride.

Saturday Morning: Do people still carbo-load? I did. Half a pound of pumpkin tortellini with pesto (made a few days ago) for dinner last night. This morning a 4 egg scramble with Italian frying peppers, Crimini mushrooms, Cotswold cheese, garlic, and a little more of that pesto for good measure. Toast and coffee. It’s still too cold to want to ride. If I had an internet connection, I’d know how cold. Suffice to say my fingers are chilly typing. Maybe I should have brought the winter tights and jersey after all. And maybe, once I get out of the woods, I’ll be dressed enough to warm up and be glad I’m not wearing tights and a wool jersey.

I contacted the ride organizers a week ago to see if they had a map and cue sheet. They said a map would be printed in the local paper on Friday. I picked up a copy in Fish Creek on my way to the park. No map. Oh, well. The ride might be more fun with no agenda.

Saturday Night: I was dressed just right. I never had to take off the leg warmers or the jacket, or the full-finger gloves. Good thing I had a long-sleeved jersey.

There’s probably a Chevy vs Ford joke in there somewhere

I started north through the park, then onto the state highway, figuring it wouldn’t be busy this early. I rode the highway to the tip of the peninsula (Death’s Door, or Porte des Morts, so named because of the storms that come up unexpectedly, driving ships onto the reef. To a ship’s captain, it probably looks like a sheltered passage between the mainland and Washington Island. There are three shipwrecks in shallow – 25 to 40 feet – water. I haven’t been diving in many years…My certification is still good; maybe time for a refresher course to catch up on the technology, and to find a dive partner.)

Washington Island Ferry

I worked my way back south, wandering back and forth across the peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. I looked at a map once. Otherwise I just wandered. It’s hard to get lost on a narrow peninsula – east you run into the lake, west you run into the bay, north you run out of land, south you end up in Sturgeon Bay.

Europe Lake
Summer is over

Lou and Peter Berryman taught me a strange geographical fact about the area. From Rock Island (just beyond Washington Island) you are surrounded by Michigan, even though you are still in Wisconsin. Due north, south, east, or west, you hit Michigan and not Wisconsin.

They also taught me that the town of Poniatowski, Wisconsin, is the geographical center of the northwest quadrant of earth – halfway between the equator and the North Pole (45 degrees N latitude) and halfway between the Prime Meridian and the International Date Line (90 degrees W longitude). Admittedly, this is an Anglocentric view of the world. While the location of the equator is pretty much set, longitude is arbitrary and was set by the English to make themselves the center of the world.

I walked in the sand at Death’s Door, waded in Europe Lake, had a snack in the marina in Sister Bay, and another snack while watching 19 Sandhill Cranes grazing in a post-harvest field. I was able to refill a water bottle at Newport Beach. I wasn’t willing to eat in any restaurants, so the ride length was dictated by how many bars I could stuff in my pockets. When I was down to the last bar, I aimed for home.

I saw two contradictory Trump signs – “Make America Great Again” and “Keep America Great”. It made me wonder if The Donald has ever explained when he thinks America was last great. If he thinks it’s great now, I wonder what he thinks makes it great – that the police can shoot Black men with impunity, that armed white vigilantes roam the streets, or:

After a post-ride beer in the hammock, a shower, a walk on the beach and through the woods, and a great dinner, I can’t find anything to complain about, Maybe he’s right – America is great.

The park had a lookout tower. They tore it down due to age. The replacement will be wheelchair-accessible via this ramp.
On the left is the top of the ramp. On the right, across the road, is the tower. Right now, it looks like a railroad trestle.

I have sung the praises of Kevin Kinney and Empire Wool & Canvas Company here before. He made my winter bike mitts. This time it’s to sing the praises of his Camp Coat, which had its maiden voyage on this trip. Wool blanket fabric, with a fleece liner, it was the perfect coat to stay warm around the campfire at night.

I celebrated Rosh Hashanah in my own temple – the woods and backroads; the vehicle being my bike. A few days early for the equinox, but not all holidays can come on the weekend. After the fire died down, I walked to an open area to look at the stars. I needed a light to find my way there, but after standing in the dark long enough, the starlight filtered through trees was plenty of light to find my way back.

Triplets of Belleville

After last week’s ride out of New Glarus, this week we rode into New Glarus, out of Belleville. As a teen, I rode here to dive in this lake. Where the building and pier appear in the photo, there once was a diving board.

The best place for feet after a ride

As a young diver, I was always on the lookout for another board. Our town pool had the worst board in the region, which gave us a home pool advantage when the country club teams came to us. One day on the way to visit my sister in Monroe, we took a wrong turn and drove through Belleville. I spotted the diving board at the lake and made plans to ride my bike down to try it out. As diving boards go, it was nothing to write home about, but the beauty of the lake beat a municipal pool and the smell of chlorine. 25 miles down, a couple of hours in the lake, and 25 miles home left me tired and happy.

Over the years, Lake Belle View silted up and became nothing more than a mudpit. It has been restored, though the diving board was replaced by a fishing pier. This Belleville has nothing to do with the French film The Triplets of Belleville.

But the film does have something to do with bicycling:

As this month features the ridiculously late edition of the Tour de France, Eddie Merckx climbing Mont Ventoux is timely.

It is century season in these parts. Last Saturday was a century for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (led locally by the Lymphomaniacs), Sunday was the Wright Stuff – through Frank Lloyd Wright country (in a pandemic “you’re on your own” edition with very limited support), this Saturday would have been the Door County Century (canceled) and the following week the Peninsula Century (same area, also canceled). We’ll have a report on solo riding on the Door Peninsula soon.

Chip off the old block

My daughter, a newly-minted grad student, put 50 miles on their bike last week getting to and from school and an internship. At 50 degrees and raining, with a north wind, they borrowed a spare pair of my rain pants for the 18 mile round trip rather than take the bus. That’s earl, brother.


I have turned into a curmudgeon who writes letters to the editor. They tend not to print them. Here are a few rejects, with context added as needed. Labor Day seems a fitting time to post this.

I used to belong to a union, until Act 10 banned it. Employees were NOT required to join the union or pay dues. They WERE required to pay their “fair share”, a calculated portion of what members paid in dues in order to pay for the cost of negotiating the contract from which they garnered benefits. No one was forced to join the union, despite the propaganda we hear. If “Right to Work” actually meant what it sounds like, I’d be a full supporter. Sure, we should all have the right to a job – but that’s not what it means.

This letter was in response to the myth that workers were forced to join unions and pay dues. Our governor advocated a so-called “Right to Work” law as part of his “divide and conquer” strategy. The letter was rejected because the editorial page editor didn’t realize that Wisconsin Act 10, which restricted bargaining for state employees to wages only (no bargaining of working conditions) and restricted wage bargaining to levels at or below the change in the cost of living, actually banned all union activity at one particular workplace – and named that workplace (University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics).

On this Labor Day, I’d like to revisit the real world results of WI Act 10. Due to changes resulting from Act 10, my take home pay (reflected by the total of the past 8 pay periods) has DECREASED by 6% (adjusted for inflation via the US Dept of Labor Consumer Price Index) from the same period three years ago. I am not a state employee, my wages are not paid by tax dollars, but I was (and am) subject to Act 10.

This letter was rejected because that same editor didn’t realize that Act 10 affected people who are not paid by tax dollars. I sent her the same citations I’d sent previously. She wanted an explanation that would take more than the 200 words allotted for a letter – so I could submit the letter (which would be rejected) or the explanation (which would have no context).

Open Letter to Sen Ron Johnson: Dear Senator Johnson:

Today’s (May 11) Wisconsin State Journal quotes you regarding your meeting with Merrick Garland as referring to President Obama as a “lame duck president”. I do not think this term means what you think it means. A lame duck is a president who continues to serve during the time between the election and inauguration of a new president. It does not refer to a president who is not eligible to run for re-election (as are all second term presidents for their entire second term) or to some arbitrary period of time of your choosing. 

We hired (elected) you to do a job. Please do it. “With the advice and consent of the Senate” in regard to Supreme Court nominations does not mean “advise the president not to make any nominations because we are going to withhold our consent no matter what.” Please follow your Constitutional duty by moving forward with this nomination. Otherwise, I hope we, the voters, send you back to your wife’s family company and make you a lame duck.

This newspaper doesn’t tell you why they reject your letters. I choose not to speculate. Re: the last sentence – Sen Johnson married his boss’s sister and became CEO of a plastic manufacturing company, thus becoming a millionaire. He claimed to be a “citizen legislator” who would serve for one term and return to the private sector. Surprise! That didn’t happen.

“Breaking news” is stretching it a bit. How many times has this been front page, above-the-fold news? Today, when he announces, yesterday that he was going to announce, last week when he accidentally announced and then deleted it, the week before when he filed with the Federal Elections Commission, and countless other times when he announced when he would announce and/or announced that he was not currently a candidate. Then there were the times that he formed a PAC to not be a candidate and when he formed another PAC to be a pre-candidate.

Contrast that with your below-the-fold treatment of Bernie Sanders’ rally in Madison which drew a larger crowd than any rally by any candidate anywhere in the country – and that encompasses a lot of rallies by a lot of candidates. That was news for one day. 

Now tell me again how editorial decisions and news decisions are completely separate and one does not influence the other.

This was in response to an e-mailed “news alert” to subscribers headed “Breaking News”, telling us that our governor had announced his candidacy for president. (For those not familiar with newspaper jargon, “above the fold” refers to the top half of the front page of a newspaper – the part that is visible in a stack of papers on a newsstand or in a vending machine.)

Governor Walker’s proposed budget includes “self-insurance” for state employees and others covered by the state insurance contract. Is this single payer/socialized medicine good for Wisconsin? It might save or cost the state money, we’re not sure. I’m confused, Governor. Do we want the state in or out of the health care business? This proposal would decrease competition in the marketplace and clearly hurt smaller HMOs, and we know small business is the chief engine for employment. The Governor proposes to let the big three HMOs split the administration of the program and cut out the smaller ones. This would include GHC, a health care cooperative and an HMO that is consistently ranked as one of the top in the country, not just in Wisconsin. Is this the way to improve health care, to hurt the best HMO in the state?

This was in response to the governor’s attempt to find a way to stop paying for health insurance for state workers, at the same time that he was opposing state supports for health care, including Medicaid expansion, for others. I thought it ironic that he opposed the “socialism” of a single-payer plan except when it was convenient and provided another opportunity to screw state employees. He had no cost figures to demonstrate that it would save the state money; but we knew it would decimate a small cooperative HMO. He also tried to privatize the state pension fund. He appointed a task force to study the notion. Of course it was dominated by big business interests. They rejected his idea, telling him that it was among the best-run pension plans (and investment systems of any kind) in the country and he’d be a fool to mess with it. His response was to appoint another task force. They also told him he was an idiot.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! I once thought Donald Trump was an idiot, unfit for the presidency. I have come to realize that he’s smarter than we think. While we agonize over his latest outrageous tweet, he puts the fox in charge of the henhouse and destroys our government. Every two-bit magician knows that misdirection is the key and they don’t call it illusion instead of magic for nothing. While Trump and complicit media focus on tweets, his Secretary of Labor formerly represented Walmart and UPS to fight worker rights. His Secretary of the Interior used to represent mining and oil companies. The head of the Bureau of Land Management used to sue that agency regularly. OSHA has cut staffing to where it would take 150 years to inspect all workplaces under its jurisdiction. The Secretary of Education funds (and supports government funding of) private schools. The EPA has rolled back pollution standards to the extent that even the auto industry opposes it. And, of course, the USPS is headed by someone who gave a lot of money to the president and knows that one way to keep the president in office is to destroy the Postal Service to prevent safe voting. While he is still clearly unfit for the office, who are the idiots?

I don’t think that one requires any further context or explanation, but it could have been a lot longer. It merely scratched the surface and didn’t even get to the outright corruption, felony convictions, and high turnover in the inner circle. 200 words can only do so much.

My most recent reject seems to have vanished – I don’t even have the receipt from them that I sent it. I will set the context and summarize instead. The State Supreme Court last spring rejected an extension of the public health emergency, ruling that the Department of Public Health lacked the authority to extend the order. The Governor, recognizing the likelihood that the court would strike down an order from him as well, took no action until the situation was out of control (and the day before a new Supreme Court justice would take her seat, so a new decision might be different). That’s when he finally issued a mandatory mask order in response to rising COVID-19 infections and deaths. The Majority Leader of our State Senate, Scott Fitzgerald, opposed the mandatory order.

Fitzgerald was quoted as saying, “I think things are going well right now. People are complying if they want to.” I noted wryly that he seemed to be advocating for an end to his own job; arguing that laws are unnecessary and people will “comply if they want to”. I ended by saying “Scott Fitzgerald, anarchist – who knew?” I guess they didn’t like my calling a Republican leader an anarchist.

Tweet Storm

It scares me that our national attention span has been reduced to 240 characters. If we want to say anything longer than that, we divide it into 240 character bites to make it digestible. I know that’s the limit to our president’s attention, but it scares me that that is becoming the norm for the rest of us. It made sense in the era of the Burma Shave sign. For those too young to remember, Burma Shave was a shaving cream that marketed with roadside signs composed as quatrains, one line to a sign, so you could read them as you raced past at highway speed. The fifth sign just held the brand. They worked like this:

If ya got no food

Don’t just bitch

Take up the fork

And eat the rich.

Burma Shave

Or, my personal philosophy: