Monday, June 23, 2008

"Check your excuses at the door..."

"...cuz I don't want to hear 'em."

This coming from our Fitness Center's director at the staff meeting in June. It said in reference to the center's latest lunch time offering of a class called Boot Camp.

For those of you unfamiliar with the army (and thus living under a rock for the past 7 years of the Iraq war), boot camp is a favorite past time of drill sergeants who highly enjoy making life hell for hundreds of out-of-shape recruits.

In this example our Fitness Center is the army base; Amanda, the director, is our drill sergeant; and we masochistic schmucks are the out-of-shape recruits.

That last bit is more true than we'd all like to believe.

The class is only offered Mondays and Wednesdays, but the inevitable soreness and muscle paralyzation one experiences the day after a class adequately explains why we need 48 hours in between to recover.

Boot Camp, unlike its army predecessor, does not include razor wire or wall climbing. It does, however, include Pilates, cardio, weight training, and altogether too many squats and lunges.

Yours truly has taken part for the past two weeks and is already feeling the results in her quads, and seeing the results in her waistline, biceps, triceps, and glutes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she also has a hard time climbing stairs and standing up from a seated position.

An old drill sergeant adage: No pain, no gain.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

WASPs, Winos, and White Trash

Or, what some people call, Jazz in the Park.

This Milwaukeean gem hosted by the East Town Association is a rare snapshot of the socioeconomic makeup of our fair city.

College students wandering down from campus to enjoy a free activity. Bored housewives from Whitefish Bay dining on the grass with fine china and crystal stemware. Homeless winos meandering through the crowd and acting crazy.

What more reason do you need to attend this most eclectic evening of auditory delight?

When: Every Thursday evening June - September
Where: Cathedral Square Park
What: All the jazz and people watching your ears and eyes (respectively) can take

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Slow Pitch by Professional Athletes

In honor of Father’s Day, my immediate family made plans to attend a sporting event to which all fathers (dad, stepdad, brother-in-law) would be invited. Sidenote: Turns out my brother-in-law had to work, but my sister brought his son, my adorable nephew, along instead.

The event? The Donald Driver Celebrity Softball game (benefitting The Donald Driver Foundation)

Started by Michael Bolton (note: this author does not think this is really true. She merely remembers a softball game with celebrities at the same stadium hosted by one no-talent, a$$-clown, Michael Bolton), and reinvented by Brett Favre, the softball game features Packers players having a good time on a diamond rather than a field. The future of this fundraiser looked uncertain, what with Brett Favre retiring, but all anxiety was for naught as DD took up the mantle and hosted the game for all fans to enjoy.

The weathermen predicted rain, but the one black cloud to make an appearance was more for show than any precipitating action.

My mom, sister, and I spent most of the time shuttling the little nephew back and forth to the playground. The fathers (dad and stepdad) didn’t seem to mind.

This year, in an incredible effort almost lost in overtime, the defense beat the offense, effectively ending a five-year losing streak. Good job, defense, good job.

In between innings, radio personalities and Packer wives took turns embarrassing themselves with mock sumo wrestling and human hamburger making (each lady wore half a bun costume, and a relay race to top the fake meat patty with condiments ensued).

Brat gun and t-shirt slingshot aside, it was an enjoyable day (because who really wants a brat shot out of an automatic launcher).

Photos at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Egads, it’s Armageddon! (Part II)

On Sunday I awoke not so bright and incredibly early. Arriving at the festival grounds before any sane person deigns to roll out of bed on a Sunday, I saw that our maintenance and grounds crews had been working throughout the night to get us in tip top festival shape. I scanned the park whilst taking a mental inventory.

One tent met its end, many a woodchip from our landscaping beds was now never to be seen again, and several tons of mud was now cleverly disguised as our park.

We began the clean up process in what can only be called a worthless effort, as not three hours later it began to downpour. Our sound engineer royally fed up, quickly packed up the equipment on stage he had only just finished setting up.

The Man In Charge decided to play the rest of the day like a baseball game, and we were told to stay on call until early afternoon where we would assess the situation and decide if we would open or stay permanently closed. After an all-too-brief nap, the call came that we were commencing with the Fiesta, and we sadly trooped back to once again assess the damage, take stock, and plunge headlong into festiveness.

This time parking my car on higher ground (fool me once, and all that), I proceeded to spend the next five hours enjoying a delightful outdoor party. Needless to say, keeping the show going was a good idea and everyone was enjoying himself or herself immensely.

Then the rain came, and once again I was on stage packing electrical equipment in a lightning storm. The night ended much the same as the previous, only without the flash flood (thank goodness). I suppose it was a blessing in disguise as, all told, I ended up only working 24 hours in two days as opposed to the 32+ originally planned.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Egads, its Armageddon! (Part I)

Number of hours I worked at an outdoor fundraiser this past weekend? 23
Number of times I was on stage frantically packing sound equipment in a lightning storm and torrential downpour? 3
First time seeing a flash flood as my new car is submerged under four feet of water? Priceless

This weekend we held our annual outdoor fundraiser, which also happened to coincide with the worst storm to hit Southeastern Wisconsin in fifteen years (not including the 28 hours of blizzard we experienced in February).

Saturday started bright and breathtakingly hot. The festival was going great, event goers were enthusiastic, the atmosphere electric, when at 5:00 p.m. a black cloud came on the horizon and a tornado siren screamed in the distance.

The festival was temporarily closed and all volunteers and staff were ushered inside. Those of us running the show rushed to the stage and frantically covered the sound equipment with tarps and garbage bags as lightning flashed in the torrential downpour. Our work hastily completed, we braved the elements and ran to join the others inside.

Enjoying an open bar in the restaurant (cleverly located in the basement), not thirty minutes passed when security ran down to alert us of water gushing down the stairwell. Yes, as fate would have it, a flash flood the likes of which I have never seen, was barreling down the street and destroying our hopes of dry, working vehicles.

This photo is us enjoying ourselves in the basement Cafe whilst waiting out the storm - gloriously unaware of the flash flood about to hit.

The waters crested at approximately five feet, and then almost immediately began to recede. Assessing the damage, we waded to our cars and most of us were happy to note that they started when we attempted to move them to higher ground.

The festival grounds, meanwhile, still resembled a whitewater-rafting course, and our sound technician was unhappy to see the stage submerged in four feet of water. With rain still falling, we no longer kidded ourselves about getting soaked as we slowly traipsed over to help pack up the cables, monitors, speakers, and such.

The evening a total loss, we left together (1 route closed due to a collapsed building, several others closed due to flooding), we made plans to arrive early the next morning and assess the damage.