Thursday, April 24, 2014

Grackles be gone / an interview with The State Journal

Ya gotta love Grackles

No you don't, what am I thinking!  I know the Grackle population is shrinking fantastically and is now down to 73 million from a high of 190 million which I'm sure farmers appreciate.  

Grackles are one of the few birds that love humans and their messiness.  I caught this image under my feeder yesterday as this dude was checking out an old sesame bun I tossed out.  He looks pretty happy with his catch.


I had a meeting with the Police Chief yesterday . . . on purpose . . . . and all went well.  One of the things I was really hoping for was to be in a high speed chase with hopefully me behind the wheel.  I've played enough Need for Speed so I figured I knew my way around chasing someone.  

Well, we were talking about stuff and I heard a siren and I got all prickly and excited, here we go I was assuming!  sigh.  . . . but alas it was the fire department.  DAMN IT!  bad timing.  Perhaps next time.  I was thinking about asking the Chief if next time there was a high speed chase if they could pick me up. 

This morning I had a meeting with the City Engineer which is always nice. I totally love that stuff.   

Yea yea yea there are all sorts of misleading emails being forward to anyone who will listen which really have no relevant value except for the love of poking the bear for absolutely no reason at all,  but that is fine,  free speech and so forth. Not going to worry about it.

I tell ya - I honestly did not know how much fun being in city government would be. Soaking up knowledge every day and my brain is loving it. It's like I'm on a knowledge rush. 

One thing that has been proven which seems to be a typical government thing, the lowest bidder is not ALWAYS the best choice. Case in point are the contractors who put the new metal roof on the police station and promised that there would be no problem with receiving radio waves.   

Well, perhaps not for typical office buildings but it's a little more important for police stations.  There were some lessons learned and that is what we can take away from that experience.  Cheapest is not always best. 

OH - there was something really cool in the station that looked like an electric chair but it was for holding really violent people.  

I don't have any real entertaining takeaway from our talk, it was a good talk and I was allowed to leave whenever I wanted too. 

Seems to be how things go in my life with police anyway.  I was kicked off an elevator at the Department of Justice by an officer for absolutely no reason except he did not like the way I looked.  Oddly a year later I was allowed to sit in the Attorney Generals office and look through his binoculars at bullet holes in Miss Forward (yup, bullet holes). 

 I was kicked out of a squad car once, actually pushed out by an officer for some unknown reason when a call came in.  

Then there was the incident in County Stadium where a bachelor party got crazy and the guy sitting next to me felt that since Tommy Thompson was only 600 yards away on the field it was the best time to moon him.  Seems some people thought that was inappropriate and I was collateral damage.  I was asked to leave the little jail place under County Stadium.  BTW - I have a photo of me and Tommy Thompson and he has his arm around my shoulder . . . .and he is wearing lycra.  I cannot unsee that image.

But I digress.  I'm just adding fuel for the email misinformation "police".  This IS a "leftist blog" you know, can't be trusted, just like the State Journal can't be trusted I was told. 

OH OH - I was interviewed by that leftist newspaper and I gave Sentry and Columbus a shout out advertisement. I was asked on camera if I considered the recession over.  I asked "technically" or a "personal observation".  (Technically it ended YEARS ago).   

Long story short, I said in Columbus there are houses being built after a few years of no building and a developer was about to build a new Sentry and Hardware store so I thought that if the developers were building again money must be starting to flow again.  We shall see how much reaches the paper.  

That's all I got - I have to emotionally prepare myself for Milo goign to the vet this afternoon.  ;-(

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Give teens a voice. / Brewers Bull Pen / Lorde

A very cool website I frequent every day is call Daily Baseball Data and what I like is being able to see how all the other bullpens in baseball are behaving.

As we all know bullpens account for typically 1/3 of the game pitching-wise and when pens get overworked teams suffer on the back end.

The Brewers pen this year has been outstanding but this last week as really REALLY been tough for the pen, except for the Red Sox and White Sox the Brewers pen is overworked, not from ineffectiveness of the starters but from close games and extra inning games.

The past 7 days the bullpen has pitched basically 3 full games (27 innings), HOWEVER - except for Wei-Chung Wang and Rob Wooten who pitched 4.67 of those innings the bullpen has a 0.80 ERA which is OUTSTANDING.  Their Component ERA* is 1.54 which is still really really good.

*Component ERA (or ERC)= invented by Bill James. It attempts to forecast a pitcher's earned run average from the number of hits and walks allowed rather than the standard formula of average number of earned runs per nine innings. ERC allows one to take a fresh look at a pitcher's performance and gauge if his results are more or less than the sum of its parts.

For those following along . . . . .

PTB = 0.89×(1.255×(H − HR) + 4×HR) + 0.475×(BB + HBP)
ERC = ((((H + BB + HBP)×PTB)/(BFP×IP))×9)*0.75
Now "we" just need to get some clutch hits!

I'm trying to figure out how to get high school people more involved with the city.  One way is to have some sort of High School government organization to attend city council meetings which would probably be hideously boring.

Another way is to form a high school governing body that will meet and discuss what THEY need out of the city. How can we help the young people of Columbus.  Then once a month or when needed they could present their idea to the council. Colville Washington has a Youth Commission that informs their council.  How we can improve THEIR quality of life (not Colville but our youth).

This would help Columbus long term by teaching leadership and how city's work and build future leaders of Columbus. 

Another thing we should do is if have an article written by a High Schooler in the Columbus Journal once a month. Give them a voice. 

Our society is doomed! 

Really?  we need instructions for counting?

I've had this song in my head for two days and it's a GOOD song.  Not like "The Boys Are Back in Town" .   Lorde is so different from any other female vocalists I have heard.  DJ purchased her CD and the whole thing is pretty nice.

This was her performance at the Grammys.  17 years old?  COME ON.
This song just blows me away!

I'm sort of bumbed - While driving home yesterday I was pushing a button on my CD played in teh car and a bump made me hit multiple buttons and now NO buttons work.  The whole thing is frozen.

My manual makes no mention on what do do in this case.
And then there is Milo  - I'm afraid Milo, my cat my buddy, is losing his battle with a brain tumor.  He was/is the James Dean of cats.  Living life for all it's worth.   sigh!  sad.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The hobbit-like Fire Station

Planning Commission  April 17th

I see that Madison Alders have their own little area on the city website - for instance, this is David Ahrens site on the City of Madison website.  This would be a great way for people to stay in tune with his or her alder.  There is also a way to subscribe to Mr. Ahren which is excellent.  I will have to look into this.      

One thing Columbus REALLY needs and something I have had more then a few calls about is transparency and the need to know what is REALLY happening in Columbus.  When meetings are and what were the results. Hopefully the Columbus Calendar can help to fill some of that void.    

NEWS - this is what the new American Packaging will look like with their 37,000 square foot, $22.6 million expansion on West James.  

BOOM - THAT'S what I'm talking about! 

I took a tour of the Fire Station last week and I did not get a helmet or get to take the hook and ladder truck for a spin. sigh!! So much for THAT bucket list check off point.

When I was a tiny kid and a grown-up asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I said I wanted to be a fire truck.  Well, that dream was certainly dashed when reality happened (unless I'm Johnny Depp in Transcendence).

So I toured the hobbit-like structure of our Fire Station and the big thing I came away with was - WOW - we really do need a new fire station.  Not just because a fancy station would be cool but because the one we have now is dangerous.

For instance - there is a fire and there are 14 rather large muscled firefighters running around putting on 80 pound of equipment . . . . all in this row.  Now remember I'm using a 10mm lens for the below photo so it looks a lot wider then it actually is.  And look out for those power cords hanging from the ceiling for every truck to stay charged. It's probably about 3 feet wide.

 Did I mention that there are no back up generators if the power goes out?

And once a fire is over and things need to be cleaned their washing machine is smaller then the one I have at home.

Gotta dry your hoses???  If you drive by any REAL fire station they have a drying tower where they hang hoses.  In Columbus, wet hoses lay on the floor slowly rotting because . . . where else can you put them.   

Notice how close the trucks are to each other.

You know that game with the tiles where you have to move the back tile around all the other tiles to get it to the front?

Yea - that is what the Fire Chief does every fire.  I have heard he is a puzzle master (I've never actually heard this).   OH - and most REAL fire Stations have two sets of doors, front AND back.

We have one back door.  And if for some reason the hook and ladder (hook???) has to go out the BACK door because the front door is blocked? it will have to squeeze through that tiny gray door.

This is the Lake Mills Fire Department. 

Since there is no room at the current location and thinking outside the box I came up with a multi-story (perhaps 4 or 5 stories) fire station with the trucks in the top 3 or 4 stories and a handicap accessible entrance on the ground floor (currently there are no handicap entrance for pancake breakfasts and so forth).  What could possibly go wrong  :-) 

We really need to come into the 2000s and get a new larger fire station. 


Next up is the Police Station where I'm hoping I can be involved in a high speed chase of some sorts.

Here is a problem that I believe ALL Police Departments have.  If you are doing a great job and there is no crime, politicians will say "Why do you need so may officers" when it's BECAUSE you have officers that the crime is low.

This year, compared to ALL of last year Columbus is down 36% in Criminal Incidents, but, holy cow what happened the last 2 weeks.  Weather related??  Ne'er-do-well's are not afraid to go outside anymore?

I like seeing the Police Reports in the paper and I appreciate the Cops and Coffee thing.  I personally would love love to see a patrol officer walking the downtown area twice a day.  Not that he or she would catch bad people but if you were in a car driving through Columbus the vision of a walking officer would be outstanding.  Being visible is a good thing.   

Like ALL government departments, by doing a good job you get your budget cut.  People always say treat government like a business but you can't.  It just doesn't work that way. In government if you do not use all of your budget, politicians seem to think you don't need it.  Wrong.

According to Baseball Prospectus the Brewers now have a 60.3% chance of making the playoffs and will end up 86 -76. We would be 1/10th a game behind St. Louis at the moment.