>The Beltline Tops My Week

>I’ve been having one of those weeks. Its been a week where everything is just a lot harder than it should have been.

For instance, yesterday a welding truck flipped over ahead of us on the beltline. We were trapped between Verona Road and Todd Drive — for an hour and a half.

The best part was we did talk to the Sheriff’s department guy. At one point he turned to a Dane County snowplow driver (who was helping out) and yelled over to him, “Where are you telling people to go???”

The plow driver yelled back: “I told them to go up to your fricking car and go down the offramp.”

After spinning the car around we ended up going down the Verona Road onramp and then being directed up Midvale. We ended up going through downtown, which was an utter mess due to the extra traffic.

Oh hopefully next week won’t be so hard.

>Preach on Brother Schneier!

>A reading from the book of Schneier, Feb 15 Crypto-Gram:

“Since 9/11, approximately three things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back, and — possibly — sky marshals. Everything else — all the security measures that affect privacy — is just security theater and a waste of effort.”

“By the same token, many of the anti-privacy “security” measures we’re seeing — national ID cards, warrantless eavesdropping, massive data mining, and so on — do little to improve, and in some cases harm, security. And government claims of their success are either wrong, or against fake threats.”

“The debate isn’t security versus privacy. It’s liberty versus control.”

If only the public-at-large could understand even these three paragraphs…

>Yes we can.


I saw Barack Obama speak at the Kohl Center this evening.


He spoke to things I find very important. They include:

  • Getting us out of Iraq.
  • Iraq was a distraction from the real work in Afghanistan.
  • Hope is not unobtainable.
  • Having the same cast of characters in Washington won’t produce different results.

In terms of the event itself it was amazing. I will probably never in my life see as many people in the Kohl Center as there were tonight. The entire upper deck was (probably illegally) full… every square foot had a person… stairs, hallways, etc.

>It’s official: Madison sees snowiest winter ever

>It’s official: Madison sees snowiest winter ever

So they’re going to make shirts that say “I plowed through the winter of 07-08” for the staff? How long do you think it is before people add the word “was” between the first two words?

Oh well… off to start up the snowblower again…

>Winter strikes again

>For those of you missing out on all the Winter fun in Wisconsin:


That’s a shot of Campus Drive @ Randall Ave in Madison.

>My Grandmother

>My grandmother died today.

I am, of course, sad she is gone. However, my focus is on how happy I am that she was in my life. She wasn’t an ordinary grandmother.

She was extraordinary in many, many ways.

Lets look at a few:

The first way my Grandmother was extraordinary was her fondness of Mountain Dew. When I was in high school, my grandmother asked for a sip of the soda I was drinking. Since I started my Caffeine addiction early, the soda was Mountain Dew. After taking a sip, Grandma said, “MMm…” Somewhat surprised, my mother asked if Grandma would like one, which she accepted.

That was the first sip of what turned out to be a long run.

It progressed to the point that if you’d go over to her apartment, and the soda machine on the first floor was out of Mountain Dew, you’d know. Grandma would be grumpy, upset and needing her Dew! How many people have Grandmas hooked on Mountain Dew?

Upon reflection, it was probably a really good thing that I didn’t play any of my music for her… The neighbors at her retirement home probably wouldn’t have liked that much.

At our wedding, Grandma was a star. She danced the night away — even keeping up with a professional dancer! At one point, she went up to the DJ and said, “I don’t mean to be rude, but could you play something with a little more pep?”

In her later years, she had a problem keeping weight on. One Christmas morning a few years ago, my mother told me, “Give Grandma that gift there.” I went, picked it up, and heard a clank of bottles.

“What is this, a 12 pack of beer?” I asked sarcastically.

“SSSSShhhh!!” my mother exclaimed.

My shock at my mother’s statement was quickly overshadowed by the next, larger shock.

This wasn’t just beer, it was Spaten Optimator.

Floored, I immediately wanted to make some T-shirts saying:


Apparently my Grandmother’s doctor had suggested she drink this before going to bed to help her sleep, and to put some weight on. Grandma added in a whisper, “and it keeps you regular, too.”

Grandma was Grandma until the very end, including some of the words of wisdom I’ve shared so far. I plan to answer “How do you feel?” as Grandma did (“With your fingers.”)

In the end I’m reminded of words from a friend that passed a way a few years ago. He was writing about a piece of music (the Andante from the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Johannes
Brahms). He wrote:

“What a composer! What sublime and gorgeous music! But it also reminded me of a parallel with Life. In both, you follow along the progress, enjoying every moment, and when the end comes, it’s so gracious and inevitable and fulfilling that one doesn’t fret that it’s over but rather rejoice that it happened.” John Peter Gesinski, August 28, 2004

Grandmother, thank you for being in my life.