Friday, December 26, 2014

Don't be the Asshole Neighbors

I live in a small-ish suburb of Milwaukee. Most of my neighbors are older people. I like that. They keep their house and yards up and don't do stupid shit. I talk to them, keep an eye out for them and help when they need it. But then there are the "others".

You know them. They are the ones who just move into the neighborhood and disrupt the good juju of it.

A new family moved in a couple houses down this summer. Mom, dad and two kids under the age of 5. They didn't start out very well when the first weekend they moved in their dog was running around the block. The dog is a bigger dog, maybe 60-65 lbs or so. They pretty much opened the door and let the dog out. They were never outside with the dog, so the dog would wander around to people's yards and poop. It would go across the street, they didn't seem to mind. I put a stop to that the 2nd day when I took the dog and the bag of poop and took it back to their house and asked that they keep the dog restrained and supervised or I would be contacting the police. I have three little dogs and one of them was attacked two years ago by a Pyrenees at the park. I didn't want a repeat performance. They were kind of taken back but said that they would. For the most part that has been taken care of. They now let the dog outside in the fenced in back yard. It is out there almost all day, every day. How do I know this, you ask. Well I work from home usually 2 days a week. I can't take my dogs outside in my back yard if the dog is out there because all it will do is bark and bark and bark. There are days when that dog barks almost all day long at the squirrels and other critters outside. I'm not sure if they are deaf or what but I'm two houses away and can hear it.

Last month, we got about 1.5-2" of snow. It was a wet, heavy snow. Well, these people didn't bother to shovel the sidewalk. I walk my dogs a couple times a day and use the sidewalks on my block. The first day I walked on the snow. By day 3, I called the city. You have 24 hours after a snow to clear sidewalks. By this time it was trampled down and because the sun was out it was melting a bit and now icy. I had to walk on the grass. The people were home, I seen them outside. They shoveled part of the driveway. Someone from the city must have stopped over there or something because it was about three hours after I called that they were out there chopping the ice/snow from the sidewalk. It took them the better part of the day to get it all cleared because they had to chop away at it.

Garbage pick up is on Mondays, usually by 8 am. Last week, they took the carts (two 85 gals one that were overflowing (how can people generate THAT much garbage??)) tot he street just before they picked the trash up. Then the carts sat there. and sat there. and sat there. Until Wed night. I seen them coming and going several times over the two days so it is not like they were not home.

Today I see them hauling out piles of trash to the curb. Not just a bag or two but boxes, chairs and quite a few bags

We are suppose to get rain/snow over the weekend and this will for sure now be a wet, soggy mess.  I am half tempted to copy this picture and tape it to their front door but doubt they would pay attention to it anyway. I should call the city on them.

I guess I just don't understand why people do stuff without regards for other people. I really don't want to look at their trash sitting there for the next three days. Once it rains I'm pretty sure the garbage guy doesn't want to have to pick it up. Don't make things harder than they have to be. Do what's right and don't do shit that will impact someone else.

PS. These are also the people who for the first month they lived here parked on the street and got a parking ticket every night for almost a month. How hard is it to pull your POS minivan into the driveway?

PPS.. as I've been writing this post their dog has been outside barking the entire time. I tried to get a sound clip but I'm not that stealthy. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Five Years Later

Five years ago today, my world was tossed upside down. You can read about it here. You don't expect to be 39 and wonder how will you go on.

Some days, I am still sad. Some days, I am happy. Some days, I am still angry. Some days, I find that there is something I want to share with you. Some days, I wonder what might have been. Some days, I don't think about you at all. I think that Rufus still misses you.

I look back over the past five years and think about  how my life has changed. The things I've done that I never thought I would or could do. The places I've gone. The people I've met. I probably would have never done any of that if you were still here.

I found out that I'm stronger than I ever knew could be. For that I'm so glad.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Big Eddy and the Angels

This post is a long time in coming. Just never got around to taking the pictures off my phone.

Last month, Barley's Angels was invited to the Miller Caves for a Leinenkugel's tasting. I had met the 10th and Blake representative, Lisa Zimmer about a year ago for a Beer Club event she hosted. We later found out that we are both space geeks and would have been at the same NASA TweetUp for the last ever shuttle launch. I had contacted her to see if she was interested in hosting an event for the Angels. She was.

The meeting was being held at the historic Miller caves. The caves are where Frederick Miller first stored his brews over 150 years ago. It was a pretty cool (literally) place carved into the hillside. The theme for this month's meeting was Leinenkugel's and their Big Eddy series of beers.
The Miller caves are carved into a hillside and is the original stone

When we arrived, we were treated with Honey Weiss or Orange Shandy paired with either spinach, mozzarella and tomato flat bread or roasted red pepper and basil flat bread. I liked mixing the two beers together and having what was called an Orange Blossom.

The first course was the Hoppin Helles paired with rosemary chicken breast stuffed with herb garlic and topped with a balsamic cream sauce and caramelized onions over pearl couscous. The sauce was made with the Hoppin Helles and really brought out the citrus flavors in the beer and food.

Hoppin Helles

Next up was the Snowdrift Vanilla porter paired with sweet potato puree topped with brussels sprouts with bacon and vidalia onion. The porter and sweet potato was perfect together. I even ate a brussles sprout an it was ok. Just not a big fan of them.

Snowdrift Vanilla Porter

The main course was the Big Eddy Baltic porter served with prime medallion filet mignon with the porter demi-glaze and fingerling potatoes. This was fantastic!! The steak was so tender you didn't even need a knife to cut it.

Big Eddy Baltic Porter

For dessert we had Bid Eddy Russian Imperial stout that had been aged a year. It as paired with a flourless chocolate torte with Door County cherry and raspberry melba sauce. OMG!! This was fantastic. The stout really was so good with the berry and chocolate. I could have had that every day and I would be happy.

Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout 2012
I was blown away by Lisa, Amanda and Chef Ernie. We had a great evening and I hope that Barley's Angles and 10th & Blake can pair up again for an event.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Cutting the Cord

Most everyone has cable. Every couple of months it goes up. Not a lot, a few dollars here and few dollars there. After a while you realize that your cable bill is damn near a mortgage payment.

It started almost a year ago when Time Warner (TW) started charging for "leasing" their cable modem. I've had the same modem for almost five years and now they want $5/month to lease it. After talking to a few people, I discovered that you can use your own cable modem. I went to TW's website and found a list of modems that are supported. I bought one on Amazon. Do your homework as prices can vary quite a bit. I wanted one that if I ever upgraded my internet speed the modem could handle it. It took about 15 minutes to set up. You have to call TW and give them the MAC address of the new modem. Make sure you return the old modem to avoid still being charged for it.

I work from home two days a week and some days spend 3-4 hours in meetings so having a land line is essential. Using my cell phone would eat my minutes up in a couple of days. So, I started doing some research on VoIP phones.  A few days later had a Ooma as one of their daily deals. I snapped it up. I liked that Consumer Reports gave them a good rating. An added plus was that when you register your device you enter your address and it can be used by 911 to determine your location. It is now $40 to port your existing phone number. They said it would take a month. More like a week and there was no loss of service. You get emails from them at every step and know when things are going to happen and are done. They even notified TW to cancel their phone service for you. The call quality is excellent and have never had an issue with it. All I pay for is taxes which comes to $3.71/month. That saved me $30/month

TV service is where things took a bit longer. I started out by making a list of what I DVR'ed. Everything I watched except Finding Bigfoot (which I may break down and get on iTunes, unless some kind soul will let me watch it at their house) is available for free. I can either watch most shows live or stream from the networks websites. 

I've had Netflix for years so I can use that as an option for some shows

I had a digital antenna I got when the gov't was giving them out for free several years ago. TW was giving them out for free, so you may want to ask them if they sill are giving them out. Otherwise you can get one at Target or Best Buy for $20. If your tv is newer it may already be built in. I already had a Roku player. That can get lots of channels including Netflix/ Hulu. There are several options available.

My DVD player was about 10-ish years old (it was a PJ’s raffle one from like 2002) so for $75 I bought a blue ray that has internet and Netflix built in. It can get several other channels as well. I have a Wii and stream Netflix from there as well.

My laptop is older and does not have an HDMI port so I bought a little converter on Amazon. I can connect the laptop to my tv and stream network shows from there if I want to watch something that has already aired.If you have an HDMI port on a laptop, you can stream using a cable to the tv without the converter

One of the biggest things I watched on cable was sports. Namely the Brewers games. Come next baseball season I can stream from any of the devices. If you are wanting to watch your local team they are delayed. So I found a website that will switch your IP address for $25/year so you can get the games live instead of on delay. The Brewers season ended on Sept 29th. I returned my cable box on the 30th. 

My last cable bill was $143/month. Next month it will be about $53. I call that a huge win to my pocket book 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

World of Beer Festival 2013 - Angel Style

Yesterday was the World of Beer festival sponsored by the Beer Barons of Milwaukee. It is a small, by choice, beer festival that boasts it is "By beer nuts, for beer nuts". The breweries in attendance were fairly standard but many brought out the rare and normally not available in this area beers. Lots of special casks and barrel aged treats to sample along with a whole section of meads.

The gathering crowd

The nice thing about the festival is that it is small and not a drunk fest like other festivals I've been to. One of the coolest things about the festival is that it had its own app. You could check off what beers you wanted to try. It then gave you a little map of where the beers were located. I would love to see this for other beer festival. It really helped me put a plan of attack in place.

 This year I went not as a participant but as an exhibitor. Barley's Angels (@BarleysAngelsMKE) is now a registered home brew club. We were invited to serve up our home brews on the patio with other local clubs.

Paula and Erin working hard. Don't you love the bright table cloth we had?

The weather was perfect. Warm and sunny. Erin and Paula arrived early to secure a prime spot on the patio. As women, we are naturally well organized and were so efficient that we were often mistaken for the check in table.

Paula is getting her taps ready

Erin is wicked with a mallet and a tap
We had seven different beers for folks to sample. A special cask of Natalie's British session ale, two versions of English Milds, a Wheat Ale, Black IPA, Hefeweizen and Paula's very popular cranberry cider called Candy Crush. Aptly named after the addicting game.

Natalie is tapping her cask of British Session Ale

The festival kicked off and our tent was always steady. There was even a crowd (three's a crowd, right?) waiting for the tapping of the cask at 2 pm. It was fun to talk with people about our beers while they sampled them.

With having four of us there, everyone had some time to go off and sample other beers. It was great to see Alex from Rustic Road, Scott from St. Francis Brewery and fellow Angels Meagan, Tallgrass and Joan, Oscar Blues. I didn't get to sample as many beers as I would have liked but made the most of the ones I did try. Some winners were Psuedo Sue from Toppling Goliath, Tounge Thai-ed from Blue Moon's Graffiti collection and the Fleur de Houblon from Ommegang

We got to meet lots of women and introduce them to Barley's Angels. I'm excited for our next meeting to see how many come out and enjoy a good beer with us.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

Over the past few weeks I have noticed some terrible driving around town. Are the drivers here just that dumb/ignorant/clueless or too self absorbed to actually drive decently??

I was coming home from the grocery store after work a couple weeks ago. Stopped at the light. Car in front of me stops. Sits there for about 10 seconds and then proceeds to drive thru the intersection. There was still traffic going the other direction. It is a miracle he didn't get hit. A couple blocks later another car did the same thing.

Brookfield is known for having a lot of speed traps set up along Capitol Dr. There will be five cop cars sitting in a spot and picking speeders off bing, bang, boom. The funny part is that they are sitting there in plain sight, in marked cars. Do people not see them sitting there??

Driving home from work seems to be the worst. Car will drive down Capitol Dr, turn their signal on and then proceed to drive past four or five driveways. Leaving people to wonder if or when they are going to turn.

Getting on the freeway is another tough task. Do drivers not know what the metered ramps mean?? Stop on red and when your light turns green, one car goes. It even says that on the signs. One car per green. People won''t stop or if they do, a couple cars will go at once. The worst part is that they were in such a hurry to go until it comes time to actually merge, then they fail to get up to speed before the end of the ramp.

Last night was another perfect example. I stopped at Subway on my way out to meet a friend for a drink. I have to do a left turn/half U turn to get in the driveway. Cars coming towards me had a red light. Do you think that any one of them would maybe stop before the driveway/median break to let me through. Nope! It was not like I was going to slow them down in any way.

Being in LA last fall, made me really realize how inconsiderate our drivers are. LA may have a lot of traffic but they were always driving smart. Using turn signals when turning or changing lanes, speeding up to merge, stopping at the crosswalk if you know you won't make it through an intersection before the light turns red. Nothing that is all that big of a deal but sure makes the other drivers around you less stabby.

So stop talking, texting, eating or whatever else you do in you car and just drive.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Things I've Learned today

It is barely noon and I've learned all sorts of interesting things today.

  1. The St. Francis recycling center does not take old garage door openers. 
  2. The St. Francis recycling center does take yard waste including grass clippings! I've lived here for 5 years now. How did I not know this? I always bag my grass clippings.
  3. I took my old garage door opener to the recycling place and I got $10 for scrap metal! Win
  4. Petco, where the prices on everything are crazy expensive, so I never shop there, price matches. Need a store ad or previous receipt.This will now save me the time driving over to Pet World and $18 on a bag of dog food. When you buy a 30 lb bag of dog food every month that adds up quickly. Now if they only sold the bird food in bulk.
  5. There is no 5 yet. But the day is early.