Friday, October 30, 2009

The Paperboy, 5 (Jobs v. Life)

It's strange: looking back on it, my memories of the paper route end, in my mind, with Jim killing himself, even though I'm sure that the two endings did not coincide. I'm positive that they didn't coincide because I worked on the paper route until I got my second job, and I didn't get a second job until after I was 16 and my dad ruled that I could no longer do the paper route because I was now 16 and could work.

But in my mind, the two ended at the same time: Jim's life and my paper route.

We went over to Jim's house that night, my Mom and I and maybe my Dad. Dad might have been included, but I can't remember and I'm divided on whether he would have gone or not. On the side of "Dad went with us," is the idea that this was a big deal in our neighborhood, and a big deal for me, but memories of growing up in Hartland are always mixed in with not only thoughts of what it meant for me, but also what it meant for us and the neighbors and what people would think. My parents were obsessed with what people would think. When I fought with my brothers, or yelled at my parents, or got in trouble with the law, my parents would ask what would people think? They were friends or at least acquaintances with almost everyone on our block: we had dinner at times with the Sommerfeldts and talked with the Barquists next door, until they divorced and the Riedis moved into their house and put a turtle pen in the backyard and took down Mr. Barquist's giant radio antenna. My sister Katie played with the girl across the street and the Meyers, whose son Marty was the greatest athlete of our generation (in our suburb, at least), lived in the cul de sac just around the corner. We knew the Wizners and their jobs: She, a prison guard or cop or something, he a blind man, that being all we needed to know. We disapproved, for some reason, of the Hug's lifestyle, two doors down, talking about Jim being allowed to eat pizza for breakfast.

Whenever anything happened, from a fight among brothers to a story in the Lake Country Reporter, the twice-weekly local paper, a major question (if it was about us) was what will people think? A major question (if it was about others) was what do we think?

I don't really care, anymore, what my neighbors think. Not much, anyway. I don't even know many of my neighbors. I've lived on my street for 7 years now, and I know the names of exactly three people around us: Sally, our next-door neighbor, whose last name I don't know, and Karl and Terry on the other side, who I constantly refer to by using the first name of their son, who's best friends with The Boy. Otherwise, I have nicknames for the remaining few I recognize: The Professor. Mrs. Professor. (Neither The Professor nor his son, who lives on the same block and who I call Professor, Jr., are actually professors.) Beyond that, I don't know my neighbors and I don't want to know my neighbors.

At the last place we lived, we had a neighbor named Frank who had a little boy about The Boy's age. I would come home and want to sit in the backyard and have a cup of coffee, maybe read the paper. Frank would see me, and would come over and talk, thereby interrupting my paper reading and forcing me to make small talk with him, until I could find an excuse to go inside. Because I knew my neighbor, Frank, there were dozens of beautiful summer nights that I spend sitting inside at our kitchen table, looking longingly at.

It's fine with me if I don't know my neighbors, because then I can't get roped into conversations with them when I go out to get the paper, now, the paper that comes at 4:30 in the morning and sits there in its plastic wrap on my driveway among the leaves I only rake once a year, in the spring, doing so because I don't care what people think, I only care that I don't want to spend my weekends raking. I don't have to worry about my neighbors seeing Oldest's name in the local paper's police reports section for speeding, or, once, for underage drinking, because I don't know if they know my name or what I do, and I don't know that they'd associate Oldest with me and Sweetie. It makes life easier.

Dad might have gone with us to Jim's house -- the house that was no longer Jim's - -because it was a big event about which neighbors would think, but he might not have gone because there would still have been Matt and Katie at home, and Katie would have been a toddler. My parents almost certainly would not have brought a toddler to a crime scene, or to the closest thing to a crime scene Hartridge would see for decades. (Jim's suicide would not make news, so far as I knew back then. Hartridge, our subdivision in Hartland, did not make it into the biggest paper anyone read back then, the Milwaukee Journal that I delivered every day, all that often. Two notable occasions that Hartridge did make the Milwaukee Journal were when former Green Bay Packer Mark Chmura, who lived in Hartridge long after I did not, was accused of sexual assault, and when I had a going away party for my friend Bob and over forty people got arrested by the police for underage drinking and taken down to the police station.)

(And, during the many lectures and punishments stemming from that, I was frequently asked what the neighbors would think. But we didn't plan on it being that big, and we didn't plan on it making the papers, certainly, and we didn't plan on having the party the same day as the Milwaukee Journal ran a story on underage drinking in the suburbs and how it was out-of-control, making the news of the busted party very timely.)

Dad also didn't go to things, when I was a kid. Dads, as a rule, didn't go to things. They coached teams, and they lectured and did yardwork, but they didn't go to parent-teacher conferences or help with your college application or meet with your friend's parents or any of the things that I do nowadays. Dads back then worked, and showed up at school-related functions like the annual Christmas concert for 5th graders, wearing slacks and a shirt and tie that you saw them wear only on special occasions, like the Christmas concert, and Christmas. Moms were the ones that were involved, who did back-to-school shopping and made sure projects got done and reminded you about Cub Scout meetings (and then who yelled at you when you forgot to tell everyone the Cub Scout meeting was cancelled, and Danny came home with you on the bus and Mom had to drive him home, but Danny's mom wouldn't be home for a while, so Danny had to hang out with us while Mom tried to boil dinner.)

I'll go ahead and say that Dad didn't go with us to Jim's. I don't know why we went to Jim's house. I didn't get anything out of it. I didn't want to see his house, and didn't want anything to form concrete memories in my mind of that day, or that night, but I went because it was decided that we should go over there, it being the "right thing to do" or something the neighbors would think was good, or something. I don't know who ever decided that it's important, when someone dies, to get over there and talk to the people left behind as fast as possible. After Jim, I haven't yet had anyone superclose to me die yet -- just grandparents or more distant-- so I'm not an expert on it, but when bad things happen to me, the last thing I want is a bunch of people hanging around and talking to me. Then again, that's always the last thing I want, regardless of whether it's bad things, or good things, or no things, that are happening to me, so I may not be the ideal test subject for this.

When I see people on the news, though, who have had something bad happen, and when I hear of others who have had someone close to them die, I only have my own experiences and my own thoughts to gauge them against, and that night when we went to Jim's, I didn't want to see anyone or talk to anyone, especially not immediately after I'd heard it happened. I wanted time to think it through, to process it, to try to fit this new and strange and alarming occurrence into my life: People can die, I'd known, abstractly and once, concretely, as my grandma had died by then. People close to me can die, I'd now discovered, and they can die hours after you last saw them. When you'd blown them off. And they can do it themselves. That's the kind of information that needs to be mulled over, sorted out. The new hole in your life that is there but which you don't really realize is there, the hole created by a person's absence, needs to be assessed and contemplated, and that can't happen until you realize that the person is not with you anymore. The hole created by Jim was there already as we drove over to his house, but I hadn't realized it yet because that night wasn't a night that I'd expected to be talking to or about Jim.

My ordinary life was being jostled around and there were cracks and fissures in it, gaps in my existence that needed to be filled in or patched over, and we ended up at Jim's house before I could even know all that. What I knew then was I don't want to go over there, but I had to, because my Mom made me. What I know now is that it would have been better to not go, to not have any actual memories installed of that night, to just have speculation and imagination and second-hand information, so that eventually the memories would fade away and in their place would be something else, something about flag football in the 8th grade or a girl I liked sophomore year or more memories of Washington.

Imagination and ideas and second-hand news are easily tossed out by the mind. Over the course of any given day, I can have a million different ideas, for a song or story or an invention like the Toy Scoop, the Steam Shovel-Shaped Toy Box with the bottom that opens up to let you scoop up the toys, then close the bottom and they're in the box, cleaned up easier than ever. No more bending over to pick up all those blocks, no more chasing balls around on your hands and knees. With the Toy Scoop's molded plastic and easy leverage action, you'll just Open, Scoop, and Store! The Toy Scoop (TM): Makes clean up easy for parents and fun for kids. I can have all those thoughts flit through my head and they're transient and gone. If I don't make an effort to store them by writing them down or photographing them or telling Sweetie or putting them on a blog, they may disappear for weeks, months, years, or forever, even: I might have had phenomenal ideas when I was 16 that I can't even remember now.

Memories are different. Nobody can control what experiences get stored in their mind. I sit every morning and try to remember three good things that happened to me the day before, and each morning I'm amazed at what pops into my head from the previous 24 hours. If pizza was involved in the prior day, it's always the first thing. Sometimes, I can only think of how terrible the traffic was, and I have to work at remembering what I had for dinner. Sometimes, I sit there and think what was it that was so funny last night that I wanted to remember for today, something so funny that as I was sitting through it I thought: I've got to remember this for the blog tomorrow?

And I can't remember the Funny Thing, but I can remember that in the middle of the night, it was exactly 2:17 when I got up and had to console Mr F, who had woken up crying, and I can remember that the DVD I almost stepped on in doing that was the first season of Fraggle Rock, episodes 1-3.

But some things you know will stick in your memory, and I knew as I stood outside Jim's house and saw the police lights flashing, red on the light-blue one story house with the white garage door, that I would not forget how that looked, police lights on a house I'd played Dungeons & Dragons in, police cars parked in that driveway not because someone got a speeding ticket but because someone was dead.

We went inside, and I saw Jim's mom, a large woman with long black hair. I think she was crying, but I can't remember that. I remember looking around the living room and seeing the floor where we'd spread out the games and dice and character sheets, and seeing the nice couch that we never sat on (every house, back then, had a room that nobody used except for special occasions. That's another thing I've done away with: the room that's never used. We just go ahead and use all the rooms we've got, and all the furniture we've got.) I remember Jim's little sister, Merry, most of all. She was sitting and watching TV. Merry was younger than Jim, maybe 5 or 10 years, I'm not sure. Younger enough that we never included her in anything we did and she was generally a source of irritation to us.

As my Mom talked with Jim's mom and the police did whatever police do, as I tried not to imagine what Jim's room, where he'd done it, looked like -- something I did, successfully, wiping that image from my brain so well that I can't remember any details about Jim's room now, or about his house, beyond the sights I saw that night -- I tried not to focus on Merry but I couldn't help it. I got more and more upset with her because she was watching TV and laughing, looking around at others in the room and laughing about something on TV.

I realize, now, that probably nobody had told her what had happened, that she was too young to really know what was going on and that it wasn't in any way her fault that she was not reacting the way I wanted her to, but that's the thing about memories: You can't control how they get fixed and what gets fixed. So I remember, about Jim and his house, above everything else, the way the police lights looked on the outside of the house, the way the living room looked with no Jim in it but with my Mom and Jim's mom and me, and the way Merry looked, in the other room, watching TV and laughing, and I remember thinking how wrong it all was.

Facebook, leave Sweetie alone. (3 Good Things From 10/29/09)

Three times in the past week, Facebook has suggested to me that I help Sweetie find some friends on there. I'm tired of Facebook picking on Sweetie, so I'm giving 3 Good Things about Sweetie from yesterday to prove that she's cool.

Also, I won't link to her Facebook because she says that Facebook puts too much pressure on her and she doesn't like it.

1. Sweetie made excellent pizza burgers for dinner yesterday.

2. Sweetie did the grocery shopping for the week even though I was taking today off and would have done it for her today -- so she gave me a day off as a favor.

3. Sweetie looked superextrabeautiful. But that's true of every day.

Hey, Joe Namath wore pantyhose, so I'm in good company.

I don't do a whole lot of standing or walking at my job, and yet, every day my legs are tired and sore and worn out and I feel like they've been rode hard and put away wet. So I'm going to get myself some support socks from juzo.

Here's my way of thinking. Even though I don't walk that much (only 400 steps, according to the pedometers Sweetie and I wore one day to see who walked more in the course of a day)(It was her, by a factor of about 100), and even though I sit a lot, I still have to wear dress shoes to work, and walk on tile and cement and stuff, all of which is tiring to my legs because I'm walking in shoes that have less support and less padding.

Juzo, which is this online seller of hose and stockings and surgical support items, has these "Juzo Cotton Support Socks," socks I found looking for something to help with the way my legs feel achey and worn down when I come home from work, and the socks are comfortable, high-cotton content, nice looking socks that do more than my usual socks: They'll provide support for my calves and help my muscles keep from sagging and getting tired, while letting my feet and skin breath, too, while compressing the muscles a little to make sure that I can have fresh legs at night, like I do in the morning.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Being bad at games is good... (3 Good Things From 10/28/09)

1. I suck at Donkey Kong, still -- I always have been terrible at the game. Sucking at Donkey Kong wouldn't seem like a good thing, but it is, because last night, I decided out of the blue to see if I could find the game Mario Bros online, having seen that game at the bar Sweetie and I went to Monday night. (Still with me?) I couldn't find Mario Bros, but I could find Donkey Kong, which I played a couple of rounds of while Mr Bunches sat on my lap and helped me, with Mr F looming over the laptop and watching closely. If you have to suck at a video game, it helps to suck at it while you're playing it with your kids.

2. Mr F is terrible at Hide-and-Seek. After their bath, Mr F wanted to play hide-and-seek. I don't know how he learned to play it, since nobody has ever taught him it, but he knows how to play... badly. He'd run from his room and hide in my room, next to the dresser we don't use. I then had to walk from his room to my room, where I would look for him in a couple of places (Is he under the remote?) while he'd stand in the corner and giggle. As soon as I turned my back, he'd go running and I had to yell "Hey, where were you hiding?" and chase him.

3. Mr Bunches is bad at the Ball Fight game. Sweetie and Mr Bunches invented a game the other night that involves Mr Bunches trying to throw balls out of the playroom while I try to throw them back into the playroom. (At the time they invented it, Sweetie was throwing the balls at me, but Mr Bunches didn't know that.) He wanted to play it again last night, and we did, but he kept throwing the balls and hitting the door, the wall, the floor-- anywhere but out of the room. He solved that dilemma by taking the balls in his hand, walking out of the room and pushing me out of the way, then walking the ball to the other side of the next room, where he'd drop it and go back to get another good one.

It was at least 15 different attachments.

I had to, the other day, send a large, large file to a client. Mailing it wasn't an option because the client's too far away and it needed to be there right away.

I ended up sending about 15 different attachments in a couple of emails, because of the limitations on how much I can upload to an email. That meant that I had to laboriously go ahead and open a new email, type the address, put in the subject, attach the newest portion, and then send them -- and my client will have to do the same on the receiving end.

That, along with some other experiences I've had, have convinced me to sing up for the Miss Upload Free File Hosting, a service that lets me load files, pictures, word documents, music, you name it, into their sit for free, and then download it.

But I don't have to do it all on my own, either, like some other file-storage sites. I'm not that computer savvy, and I need to do stuff fast and right, which is why I like Miss Upload's tech support. They've got people who are excellent at working out technical issues (not that there are many, but you want help when there is one).

And it's FAST. Way faster than open-email, type-in-stuff, attach, etc. It's click-and-go type of fast, with minimal download delays for the free service and no download delays for the pay/premium service.

I also learned that Miss Upload offers points for downloads, so the more downloads there are on a file, the more points I can get, and the points can be exchanged for cash -- so I can make money WHILE I'm working...

(Arrested Development reference!)

...but the real benefits, to me, are in the speed and ease of the service. Files need to be moved around and made accessible in different places, and nobody wants to take a long time doing that -- let along haul around a hard copy. With Miss Upload, I can have my files available easily and quickly whenever and wherever I want them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Forty-Six

46. Quit Cell Phone Charger Thinking.

There have been, recently, commercials running in which a little kid goes around the house chiding people like his sister for leaving a cell phone charger plugged into the wall.

Recently, I read an article on Slate magazine that brought up that exact issue, too, and so I asked it to Middle: Should I worry that I leave my cell phone charger plugged in all the time? "Yeah!" said Middle, heartily, and chided me for wasting electricity.

But, ...the total energy used by a cell phone charger, if it were plugged in continuously for an entire year, is 2.3 kWh, while the total energy used by a person existing during that year is, on average of 4,000 kWh. (Source: Slate.) While it's not a bad thing to unplug your cell phone, the expert quoted in the article noted, you could achieve the same effect by skipping a single hot bath a year.

Here's what's wrong with the focus on unplugging the cell phones. It leads people to focus on fake, easy, feel-good fixes that don't, in the long run, make a real difference. It's like those people who argue about whether it costs more money, over time, to switch a light off and on when you leave the room and come back, or leave it on: It's a pointless argument, because either way the effect is the same -- but in arguing about pointless matters, we miss the real issue and the real fixes. "Of course!" Middle told me about unplugging my cell phone, seeing that as a problem but not seeing as a problem the fact that she'd driven home for the weekend, from Oshkosh, in an SUV that carried only her.

Obsessing about tiny little fixes is seen as helping people keep in touch with the problem and help fix the problems, but it doesn't do that; it makes things worse, because people can pat themselves on the back about how they're doing something for the environment/world/political system/children, and in fact they're not only doing very little, but are often harming it.

How many people who make sure they unplug their cell phone charger also replace their (perfectly good) cell phone every year or two for an updated model? I can only speculate how many kilowatt hours of electricity went into producing and shipping and advertising the new, updated phone... but the people with that new phone will feel okay because they unplug their charger.

It's that kind of muddy thinking that leads people to buy into the idea that planting a tree offsets carbon emissions from doing other stuff -- like Coldplay wanted you to believe when they announced they'd plant 10,000 mango trees to offset the carbon emissions from their album A Rush of Blood To The Head. Not only did at least 40% of the trees die, but the trees had get to their destination, as did the (limited and insufficient) water and fertilizer and the rest of the supplies to support the trees.

How did those trees get to the fields? Walking? Coldplay created more carbon emissions and burned more fossil fuels in "solving" the problem of carbon emissions -- but because they had cell-phone-charger mindsets, they no doubt felt good about the "solution."

That focus on the small, easy-to-implement, but pointless solution, kept people from looking for a better way to actually make an effect... like, say, not offering CDs of the album at all, but instead simply requiring that people download them.

Doing that would have completely eliminated the carbon costs and fossil fuel usage of producing the 7.2 million CDs sold so far. Picture the plastic used in a stack of 7.2 million CDs. I estimate that a CD is 1/4 an inch tall, so a stack of 7.2 million of them would be 150,000 feet -- or 28.4 miles tall. The Empire State Building is 1,250 feet, so Coldplay's CD stack is 120 times the height of the Empire State Building.

In other words, Coldplay produced, and then shipped around the world, 120 (very thin) Empire State Buildings... while planting 10,000 trees and thinking they were doing something good. Would even a fraction of that energy have been used in just making the album available for download only? No plastic covers, no album inserts (both could have been made available online for people to print if they chose, and most would not have done so, I bet), no trucks and boats and planes hauling around all those Empire State Buildings.

That's the downside to Cell Phone Charger Thinking, though: By focusing on the easy, visible, feel-good fix, Coldplay, and the kids in the commercials, and Middle, avoided focusing on the harder, more complicated... but actually effective fix. Don't get new cell phones until your old one isn't working anymore. Don't drive home all by yourself in an SUV and then lecture about unplugging cell phones. Don't ship 120 Empire State Buildings around the world.

Those are all big thoughts that were avoided by people thinking small, and we do it everyday. President Obama took over GM for a while there, and in doing so, implemented Presidential Cell Phone Charger Thinking: He used the government's control over a major automaker to require... that the automaker produce slightly more fuel-efficient cars. (Obama also Unplugged His Cell Phone Charger when his administration increased fuel fleet efficiency standards and again when he used government funds to help spur another hybrid car plant.)

Again, there's nothing wrong with trying to be more fuel efficient -- but there's nothing too right about it, either, because it's all (to use the Slate expert's phrase) bailing the Titanic with a thimble. Why aren't we producing hydrogen fuel cell cars? If plug-in electric cars are going to cost double what cars do now and still use fossil fuels, why are we bothering to make them?

Because we focus on Unplugging Our Cell Phone Charger: We'd rather do something small, and maybe-helpful, than something large and actually helpful.

I'll just say this: I don't care if you unplug your cell phone charger or not. I don't care if you plug in thirty of them simply because you like the way they look. Plugging, or unplugging, your cell phone charger isn't going to matter, at all, in the long run. It's all a bunch of Coldplay mangoes.

Instead of asking what tiny, easy thing can I do to maybe improve the world a marginal amount at no real cost to myself? ask yourself: how can I really make a difference. Then do that, instead: Take public transportation whenever you can. Use your old cell phone until it disintegrates. Only download music instead of driving to the mall to buy CDs. Drive your old car until you can buy a hydrogen fuel cell car instead -- and send emails to politicians and automakers telling them that's what you're going to do.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

The Boy's aphorisms need a little work. (3 Good Things From 10/27/09)

1. The nice kids at the Mall let Mr F play with their toy. Last night was a workout night for me (every day divisible by 3 is) and for my incredibly strenuous exercise, I opted to take the Babies! to play at the In-The-Mall Playground, where the "workout" consisted of chasing Mr Bunches around, mostly. While there, Mr F saw a little toy that he liked, and wanted to play with it, but it wasn't his. When the older kids whose toy it was found out, though, they said he could use it while we were there. That made Mr F very happy. Then, he dropped the toy somewhere and we couldn't find it before we left, so I paid them back by just sneaking out.

And why don't all malls have playgrounds in them? Even in nice-weather-areas, it's a great idea, because while we were there, Sweetie bought a shirt, thereby helping keep our local economy going.

2. I got to listen to the end of The Dan Patrick Show on my drive home from court, and therefore was treated to Dan Patrick and Darius Rucker (Hootie!) dueting on Take On Me.

3. The Boy had all his homework done, in advance, of asking to go watch the Middleton H.S. football team's playoff game. It's rare that he thinks ahead like that; The Boy has always believed it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, and even better to complain about stupid rules than to ask for anything.


Did you know that in addition to writing and blogging, I write on a blog about writing and blogging? Check out AAAUGGGH! for my thoughts on getting published, writing, books, and related stuff,

TV ranks, in my life, just below the Babies! and just above oxygen.

We spend probably over a thousand dollars a year on TV, what with the satellite dish costs, and our Netflix subscription, and what do I get for it, besides weekly episodes of Glee? Very little -- I'm not home all that often, and when I am home, more often than not, the TV show I want to watch isn't on, or there's nothing on that I want to watch, period.

I was going to just scrap TV altogether and not watch it anymore, but then I thought "live without TV? That's like living without processed cheese." So instead, I looked for alternatives and came across

Live TV 4 Me offers over 1,000 channels for a ONE TIME, low fee. And it's completely easy to set up, unlike everything else in the world.

All you do is download the program (it takes about 3 minutes) and that program allows your computer to work like a TV receiver that gets over 1,000 channels worldwide, channels you can watch anytime on your computer with no monthly or ongoing fees.

I heard about this and checked out their website, and it's all true: no monthly fees, no contracts, no obligations at all, other than the obligation to just watch TV anytime and anywhere I want.

Can YOU take your TV under your arm and watch it while you wait outside a school to pick up your kids? I can, now, and I can do it for the super-low cost of $39.95 for a short period of time.

The program gets high-quality, full-screen TV with sports, news, music videos, and more, even local channels.

And even better, if you can connect your computer to your TV, you can download the program, watch on your laptop when you want, OR watch your computer-TV-shows on your TV, replacing cable and the dish and all that other junk you've got hooked up.

Another cool thing: I get a TV of my own, so I don't have to battle Sweetie and the Law & Orders anymore to watch my shows.

Check out Live TV 4Me yourself, and see if you're not sold on it, too.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Save A Kitten, Nuke A Whale?" What's up with kids these days? (Awesome Covers of Already Awesome Songs.)

I realized, today, that I use the word awesome unironically. I don't know when that began.

I used to, as a kid, use the word awesome because that was kind of the way people talked back then. I was a kid in the 80s, when kids were cooler than kids in the 90s or 00s were, and kids in the 80s, while not talking like "Kids in Movies And TV Shows In the 80s," talked pretty cool anyway. We didn't talk exactly like the kids in The Breakfast Club, or Valley Girl, but we took enough of their language and made it our own to be reasonably cool.

Or as reasonably cool as people can be wearing cuffed blue jeans and Docksiders without socks.

That's a look I miss. Seriously. I would like to wear cuffed pants and Docksiders without socks because I think it was a good look. It was better than the too-long, "bell bottom" jeans that Sweetie buys for me and the kids insist I wear. Sometimes, when I'm at home, alone, and left to my own devices, I go ahead and "cuff" my pants anyway, and then relax and feel all 80s -- or even better than the 80s, because while I've got cool 80s cuffed pants, I pair them with my blue Crocs.

Anyway, when I was a kid, I wore cuffed pants and Docksiders without socks and I said Awesome because that was how we talked back then. As I got older, I started not saying awesome because I was a grown-up, but then, I started saying it again, kind of in an ironic way, a way I attribute to two characters:

Mike, Phoebe's boyfriend on Friends, and Barney on How I Met Your Mother.

said "awesome" only once that I can recall, but it was a singularly good moment, a moment when Phoebe had met Mike's parents and embarrassed herself over and over, including one moment when she began discussing their sex life with his Mom, after which Mike looked at her and said, quietly: "Awesome." I liked the way he said it, and tried to do that myself, throwing an awesome quietly at people where it was sarcastically appropriate.

Barney, of course, says awesome all the time, and as I watched more and more of How I Met Your Mother, I realized that more and more, I was saying awesome, too, mimicking him. (Which you'll have to forgive. I was short on heroes just then, with Brett Favre having retired.)

Which leads me to now, when I say things are awesome and I mean it, saying it without even thinking about it, using it in business conversations, which worries me, because it means that I'm constantly in danger of saying, in a final argument to a jury in a court case: Here are five awesome reasons to totally rule in favor of my client.

That all has almost nothing to do with the awesome cover of today's already awesome song. The already awesome song is "Blister In The Sun," which I've loved since I was a teenager (thereby providing the connection to that overly-long lead-in). Here's the Violent Femmes version:

And here's the Awesome Cover, by Nouvelle Vague:

And here's Awesome Cover number two: The Ukulele Version, by BobbThompson:

And here's Handsome Alvin's cover of that song:

And here's The Cliches:

That was a long intro, but I really like those kids. I'm going to make Mr F and Mr Bunches form their own band and be clever and likeable like that. Plus, that kid really shredded that guitar at the end. Awesome.

I want this poster. (3 Good Things From 10/26/09)

1. I got to be on TV...
on "The Dan Potacke Show," Halloween episode, which was filmed last night and which featured me as the final guest. The entire show was great, and made me more of a fan than I already was.

2. Sweetie showed me where she'd hidden the peanut butter cups. Sweetie's got her bowl of Halloween candy ready, and I thought all we had were M&Ms -- but way underneath the M&Ms were Mounds and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, a secret Sweetie didn't let me in on until late last night.

3. "You're not getting a catch phrase!" -- the funniest line in a hilarious episode of How I Met Your Mother last night. Sweetie said it was one we'd seen before, but it wasn't -- instead, it was a phenomenally clever episode in which Barney is revealed to have been, for years, paying actors to pretend to be his family so his Mom wouldn't die disappointed in him. People who downgrade "watching TV' as entertainment don't know what they're talking about.

Monday, October 26, 2009

One percenters, Day Three: There is no free market for health insurance, stupid Republicans.

What's a One Percenter? Click here for more information.

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid recently announced that they'll back some form of public option. Did they cave to pressure from my blog? Or just realize that they were tired of letting insurance companies laugh while children die?

Either way, now is not the time to let up on Congress. Keep telling them: I will pay one percent of my gross income in higher taxes if it means saving lives. Here's the two to contact today:

Representative Jo Bonner, a Republican from Alabama, supports giving you tax credits to pay for health insurance, but is against universal health care. That is, this "Republican" "Conservative" would like you to give your money to the federal government, and then the federal government would give it back to you, and you could then spend it in the "free market."

Call Jo Bonner at 202-225-4931, and explain to Jo that we don't have a free market for health insurance. A free market assumes that the seller and buyer have a choice, to get something or not get something, or to shop around.

But health care doesn't work that way. If I am having a heart attack, I will be taken to the nearest health care facility, period.

And, health care is not an option in the first place; I can't replace "health care" with something else, the way I can replace "buying a house" with "renting an apartment" or "living at home." I have to have health care, or I'll die young (like Nikki White, who tried to buy health insurance on the "free market," but couldn't, and so she died.)

I don't have a choice of what insurance company to go through, anymore: once I get sick, I have to stay with my health insurer, or I'll be denied coverage for any "pre-existing conditions."

Hopefully, Jo will get all that. But if he's as dense as most politicians, you could simplify the message by just saying: Jo, vote for a simple plan that (1) requires all insurers to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, but lets them charge for it, and (2) lets anyone buy the same plan that you, as a Congressman, can buy, but means-test it so that they pay what they can afford.

But don't expect Jo to vote the right way anyway; he's already been bought off by the $276,000 he's taken from health professionals, and the $85,000 from insurance companies.

Then, there's "Senator" John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming. Tom is not just a Republican, but a doctor. (Ooohhh!) He apparently is a specialist in distorting the truth, suggesting in one press release that health care reform will result in "a government takeover of our health care system." As the Republicans always say: If at first you don't succeed, lie, and then shoot people in the face.

"Senator," nobody's saying the government should take over health care, and you know it. But the $503,000 you've taken in contributions from health professionals, added to the $96,000 you took from pharmaceutical and related industries, plus $80,000 from insurance interests, and $42,000 from hospitals, can buy a lot of lying, can't they? Too bad that money couldn't have been used to, say, buy health care for children.

Call John at 202-224-6441 and ask him if his Hippocratic oath ever bothers his conscience when he's voting down real reform. Then tell him Vote for the public option.

Want to Contact "Senator John" via the Web? Click here.

Want to email Representative Jo? Click here to go to his Facebook Page.

I'll keep shamelessly plugging me being on TV until it's over. (3 Good Things From 10/17 and 10/18)

I already put a couple of things up from Friday, but there's no shortage of Good Things from the weekend to help me get up and go on Monday...

1. Friday, late at night, Sweetie and I got to watch Drag Me To Hell, and it was better than I expected -- I'd give it a 7 out of 10. Maybe an 8. I especially liked the twisty ending.

2. Saturday, I went three miles, in only 27 minutes, on Saturday, jogging the track at the health club. I might have been spurred on by the song Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith, a song I don't ordinarily listen to, but for October I've given up listening to songs I've heard before, expanding my musical horizons.

3. This video, from my old friend Ross. It's VERY good, as all of his stuff is, and I'm glad I saw the link for it on Facebook Sunday, so that it could keep me laughing even though Brett Favre was losing for the first time this season:

Don't forget: I'm going to be on TV tonight!

I'll be interviewed on The Dan Potacke Show, talking about how I wrote a book, and how I published a book, and how I hope that all the people who are there getting drunk will somehow remember all that and will then go out and BUY the book.

Click here to find out more about The Dan Potacke Show.

Click here to find out more about The Frequency.

Look at this video to see what book I'll be talking about:

Or click here to go buy the book and see my other books for sale.

Until Congress gets going, here's the next best thing.

We get a little closer, each day, to the possibility that America will live up to its promise and start providing true national health care. Until then, though, you still need health insurance, and a great way to get it is through Tonik Health Insurance.

Tonik Blue Cross Blue Shield Georgia includes medical, dental, and vision, and provides the best rates on health insurance in Georgia and pretty much everywhere else it's offered. Almost as good, the plan is meant to be understandable as well as affordable, which is important because once you HAVE health insurance, you want to know what's covered and what's not and how to figure out how much things will cost you.

Health insurance is about the most important thing you can spend your money on; a little money spent now on a premium can save you lots later on, as well as your life. You just can't afford NOT to have health insurance, so click that link and find out more now.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Packers Fans Are Stupid (Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

The Green Bay Packers are my 4th-favorite team in the NFL right now. (Behind, in order, the Vikings, Bills, and Denver Broncos).

But Green Bay Packer fans are my least favorite people in the world. They're stupid and short-sighted and deserve to be even more insulted than that, but it's hard to insult a Packer fan.

Here's a riddle:

Q: How do you insult a Green Bay Packer fan?

A: Slowly, and using small words so they can understand.

All week long -- all year long, but especially this past week, and this coming week, I've listened to Packer fans -- mumbling through their jowls, with mouths full of beer and bratwurst -- badmouth Brett Favre and make stupid jokes about how they're going to "welcome" him back this week when Favre, wearing Minnesota purple, returns to Lambeau Field for the first time since being ignominiously tossed out by soon-to-be-fired Failed Coach Mike "Mike" McCarthy, and shortly-after-to-be-fired failed GM Ted "Mike" Thompson.

By the way, Packer fans, "ignominiously" means "disgracefully" or "dishonorably." I'm sorry I couldn't find any one-syllable words to help define it, but maybe someone smarter than you can help you figure it out. It shouldn't be hard to find someone smarter than you; just look at pretty much anyone not wearing a Packers' jersey.

Please, put on a jersey. Any jersey. Dear God.

The anti-Favre fervor is being stirred up because of next week's Vikings-Packers game, a game that is anticlimactic because the Packers and Vikings already played each other, and Favre whooped the Packers, handily. (Which isn't surprising, because almost everyone whoops the Packers, handily.) But it's been around all year, and it was around last year, too, as Packer fans turned on their former favorite son with a viciousness that was surprising not just because of how nasty it was, but because of how stupid it is to hate Brett Favre.

But, as Forrest Gump should have said, "Stupid is as Green Bay Fans does," and the crescendo of idiocy will reach its high point this week -- or, its high point until Favre makes it to the playoffs and wins a Superbowl wearing Vikings purple, at which time Packer fans will have nothing better to do but make derisive comments about him, as the Packers will be sitting at home after battling to a 7-9 record.

So far already, Packer fans have been making suggestions for welcoming Favre back to Lambeau Field, suggestions ranging from "A giant waffle shaped like a number four" to "Boo him," (Clever!) to "Stand up and turn around when he comes onto the field." It's doubtful that Packer fans have the coordination to pull off that last one -- standing up and turning around -- but showing Brett Favre their giant butts would certainly punish him, and remind him why he's better off out of Wisconsin.

He's got the remainder of the comment
shaved into his rear.

As you might guess, I'm not one of them, and I'd be disappointed in Packers fans for treating the greatest player ever to grace their team this way, except that would be giving them too much credit. Instead of disappointment, I've hit on resignation: Packers' fans turning on Brett Favre is about what you'd expect from people stupid enough to continue to root for the Packers even as they labor under a "coach" and "GM" who are rapidly dismantling what had been nearly two decades of excellence, while rooting against one of the all-time greats.

Packer fans in general, when they can muster up enough wit to answer questions, give a couple of reasons why they now hate Brett Favre. Let me debunk them for you, and, Packer fans (if you're still reading this)(and if you can read), print this up and take it to someone to help explain it to you.

1. He plays for the Vikings now. That's Complaint Number One from the muttonheads who hate Brett Favre. He's a turncoat! He plays for our hated rival! He's in purple!

Way to not be colorblind, morons. But you're wrong wrong wrong to hate Favre just because he plays for the Vikings.

In the first place, the Bears are your hated rivals, not the Vikings. The Bears. When Lovie Smith came to coach the Bears, he famously said that job number one was to beat Green Bay. He's 7-3 against the Packers since then, and, not coincidentally, has also gotten 40 wins in four seasons, winning the division in '05 and '06. Bears-Packers is a great rivalry, going back to 1923.

Packers-Vikings? It's a "rivalry" dominated by Randy Moss almost-mooning Green Bay -- a move that sent stupid Packer fans swooning like so many 1930s housewives. He pretended to take down his pants! OMG! Vikings-Packers goes all the way back to... 1961. Herman's Hermits have been around longer than the Vikings-Packers "rivalry."

In that same span, while the Bears have been kicking Green Bay around, the Packers have been 7-3 against the Vikings, even though during that time they've l
argely been under management that makes the brain trust at AIG look smart. The Vikings in that time span won one division title. Tying the Packers.

But, aside from that, going to play for the Vikings isn't that bad.

Let's remember that Brett Favre didn't want to leave the Packers. He retired, sure, but then he tried to come back, and he specifically tried to come back to the Packers.

Here's how the Packers responded, in case you Green Bay
idiot fans forgot:

First, they had "no reaction." Then they told him he absolutely would not have a chance to compete for the starting job. Absolutely would not. Everyone else in camp that summer would have a chance to start. The 3-time MVP, Superbowl Winning Quarterback would not.

After that, and only after that, Favre asked for his release, and instead got traded to the Jets, where he played magnificently until he hurt his arm -- and even without his throwing arm, still played better than many other quarterbacks in the league. (Favre finished 11th in passsing yards in 2008, 9th in touchdowns, and, despite the many cracks about his interceptions, threw only five more interceptions than Drew Brees, who nobody seems to hate even though Drew Brees, after being driven out of San Diego, went to play for the Saints.)

That landed Favre in retirement again, but he was pursued by the Vikings -- a team that wanted him -- and he decided to come back.

So, Dumb Packer Fans, remember: you drove him away. The Packers got rid of Favre, not the other way around.

As for going to other teams, ask yourself this: If you were let g
o from your job, right now today, a job that you love, but got offered a chance to work for a competitor in your field, would you do it?

Of course you would, and the fact that you for a moment thought No, I wouldn't, and maybe even said that, shows what a bunch of liars you Green Bay fans are. You lied, for a moment, because you'd sell your soul if it meant selling Brett Favre down the river, just so you could
continue to feel loyal to a team that is rapidly declining while still charging you full price for your season tickets. But you know you'd do it, because you would want to keep doing what you love.

But you still do hate Brett Favre, right, because he went to play for the Vikings?

Then you also hate Reggie White, Vince Lombardi, and Curly Lambeau.

Don't you?

Reggie White left the Packers, retiring, only to return for a season with the Carolina Panthers. Do you hate him?

After Vince Lombardi stopped coaching, he spent time as
Packers' GM, but then, when he wanted to return to coaching, he went to the Washington Redskins. Do you hate him?

There is an actual Saint Vincent, patron saint of vintners,
brickmakers, and sailors. He also didn't leave the
Packers to go coach the Redskins.

But, you say, through mouthfulls of cheese, those guys didn't go to our hated rival! (See, you already forgot how I showed you that the Vikings aren't your hated rival. Try to keep up with me, here.)

Fine, though. They didn't go to your "hated rival." But Curly Lambeau did. You know Curly Lambeau, the guy who you named the field after? The revered Lambeau Field? The eponym for the Lambeau Leap?

"Eponym." It's... never mind. I can't keep explaining all this to you.

Curly Lambeau, the man who lent his name to most of Green Bay lore, the man who threw the first pass ever thrown by a Packer, the man who threw the first touchdown pass ever for Green Bay, eventually left off coaching Green Bay (where he'
d grown up), and, after he left the Packers, went to coach for Chicago.

So you hate Brett Favre because he wanted to keep doing what he loves, but couldn't do it for the team he wanted to play for? Because he plays for a team that's not your hated rival?

Smart, Green Bay Packer fans. Smart.

I hope we see Curly Lambeau burning in effigy outside of "Soon To Be Renamed Field" next week.

2. He waffles around about what he wants to do. That's another big complaint Packer fans/morons have about Brett Favre: He can't seem to make up his mind about whether or not he wants to keep playing football!

Because, of course, all major career decisions should be easy, and quickly made. That's the way I do everything, certainly: If it's important, I don't spend even a single second pondering it. I just decide and go, and damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

"Not thinking before you act" is how one ends up a Green Bay Packer fan; "not thinking at all" is how one remains a Green Bay Packer fan.

Favre has twice retired, and has twice come out of retirement. For a couple of seasons before that, he flirted with the idea of giving it all up, but didn't.

Let's tackle -- ha!-- that latter one, first. For the last couple years before his first retirement, Favre talked occasionally about retirement. I remember it well, because I never wanted him to retire.

But why was Favre talking about retirement? Did he call a press conference to say "I wonder if I should maybe pack it in?" No. He was asked, by reporters, whether he was going to retire, and he tried to answer the questions that were asked of him.

Reporters, game after game after game, would find Favre and say "Are you going to retire now? How about now? Now? Now? What about now, Favre?" I don't recall a single instance of Favre raising the issue first, and I bet you can't, either.

So now it's Favre's fault that people asked him a question? I'll keep that in mind when I run into you, Packer fans: I'll say "Are you going to cheat on your wife?" and wait for her to leave you because you talked about whether or not you'd cheat on her.

It's true, then, that Favre retired, and then unretired, twice. But retiring, and then unretiring, is an American tradition, going back at least as far as Grover Cleveland, who retired from being president and then came back after a four-year layoff to preside over whatever it was that happened during the Grover Cleveland era. Teddy Roosevelt tried that, too, retiring from politics to go shoot wild animals, only to return and start his own political party in 1912.

When Lance Armstrong unretired, he was heralded in the press and followed avidly by both people in the world who care about cycling. Garth Brooks recently announced he's coming out of retirement, and he got booked on Jay Leno. Junior Seau just came out of retirement, for the second time, and nobody's "sick" of him. Rapper Jay-Z, singer Tina Turner, writer Stephen King, all have retired and been welcomed back -- returning because they loved what they were doing (and wanted money.)

Want to talk waffles? Michael Jordan unretired three times. Nobody's turning their back on number 23.

Brett Favre was undecided, at the end of the 2007 season, whether he wanted to return for a full year. That's not surprising, given that he'd just had a long, tough season, and that he was facing the prospect of coming back to play for a team whose management had made very clear that they did not like him.

Then, at the end of the 2008 season, Favre again was uncertain about whether he wanted to come back and play, an uncertainty that was compounded by the fact that returning to play would mean surgery on his arm, and more and more pounding and banging on a body that had been getting hit for decades.

But you go ahead and blame him for not being sure. Blame Favre for not being sure that he wanted to come play for a GM who would toss him out the door soon, and blame Favre for not being sure, at nearly forty, whether he wanted to have surgery to try to play some more.


3. He's selfish.
That's the newest one. Packers fans, in their brainlessness, accuse Favre of being selfish, or lazy, and claim he didn't help mentor his teammates, and that he didn't want to be in training camp.

If -- if-- Favre didn't want to be in training camp, then (a) I don't blame him, and (b) Packer fans, can you even walk downstairs without wheezing? Don't accuse someone else of being lazy until you see how your next angioplasty turns out.

This Packer fan is not reacting to the game;
he's reacting to seeing himself on the Jumbotron,
which, ironically, was not large enough to
picture his entire belly.
"Sweet! Look at how many chins I've got!"

So is Favre selfish? I think not. Since the first time he retired, we've heard stories now about how Favre was standoffish in he locker room, how he never really helped Aaron Rodgers much as a backup, how he didn't pal around with the guys.

Packer fans, listen up: It's not his job to mentor Aaron Rodgers. How would you like to train your replacement? How would you like to train your replacement when you're working for a boss who has made clear he doesn't like you? Since Ted "Mike" Thompson arrived in Green Bay, he and Mike "Mike" McCarthy have overwhelmingly decided that Favre was not their guy, drafting Rodgers and doing what they could to hasten Favre's departure.

And in the face of that, you want him to help make Rodgers better? You expect Favre to groom his own replacement? Who does that? Why would you expect someone to do something that goes so completely against human nature.

"But," half-witted Packer fans protest, "He's supposed to think of the team!"

Exactly: He's thinking of the team by focusing on making himself play better. Favre was, and is, a better quarterback than Rodgers. That's no knock on Rodgers; it's not an insult to say that Rodgers is not the equal of the Greatest Quarterback Ever To Play The Game. It was Favre's job to make sure the Packers -- and now the Vikings -- are the best team they can be. That meant playing him, not playing a quarterback who wasn't as good, and who needed Favre's help to be better.

As for palling around with teammates, those teammates are half his age! Back in the 1990s, when Favre was playing with guys his own age, he did hang around them -- and that was something that caused no small amount of trouble for him. Since then, Favre has grown older while his teammates have stayed the same age. The Packers, under Ted "I'm packing my bags" Thompson have fielded among the youngest teams in the NFL. Favre, though, was a near-forty married man with teenage daughters. He's supposed to go play Playstation 3 with a bunch of twenty-somethings? I think not. He's supposed to do what nearly-forty-year-old married men do, which is go home and try to help their daughters with their homework.

Have you talked to someone who's in their 20s? Oldest is 22, and her friends are 22, and I can't talk to them at all. Just hearing about their lives makes me tired. The thought of spending a night at a bar with them, texting and dancing and drinking, makes me want to go watch CNN and doze off while listening to Dylan albums.

I don't blame Favre for not "mentoring" Rodgers. I don't blame him for not hanging around his teammates, with whom the only thing he has in common is where they work. I know you blame him, but you're a dunce.

There's three reasons why Packer fans, in their sluggish simplemindedness, hate Brett Favre -- three reasons proven to be, well, stupid. Let's look at a couple more reasons why it was so dumb to let Favre go.

Football-wise, things aren't working out so well for the Packers, are they? Since leaving, Favre is 15-7 with his two teams. The Packers, meanwhile, are 9-12 -- even though they have the exact same personnel they had on the 13-3 team that was one play away from the Superbowl, the team Favre led to the NFC Championship.

(I note, on that subject, that Favre, in less-than-ideal conditions, was 19 of 35 for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 2 interceptions, against the Superbowl-bound Giants in his last game as a Packer. Tom Brady, playing in the Giants' next game, was 29 of 48 for 266 yards with 1 touchdown, despite playing in perfect conditions.)

Favre had a better completion percentage in 2008 than Rodgers -- 65% to 63% -- and, while he trailed Rodgers in yards and touchdowns (and, to be fair, threw more interceptions) last year, Favre's numbers were respectable, especially considering he was playing on a team that had been 4-12 the year before, while Rodgers was playing on a team that had been 13-3. Rodgers inherited a good team; Favre inherited a bad one.

This year, Favre is ranked third in the NFL, trailing only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees when measuring by QB rating, and he's tied with Brady for third in touchdowns. Rodgers, meanwhile, is 5th in rating, 12th in touchdowns, and 9th in yards.

Again -- not a knock on Rodgers, who is struggling playing for the increasingly-sloppy, ill-coached Packers, a team whose most recent personnel moves were to re-sign two over-the-hill players their GM had previously let go.

Not all of Favre's success can be attributed to playing with Adrian Peterson, either. Peterson leads the NFL in yardage, but he's only 22 yards ahead of number 2 Chris Johnson (who plays for winless Tennessee.) Peterson is second in touchdowns behind Maurice Jones-Drew, who plays for 3-3 Jacksonville. It no doubt helps that Favre has a quality running back, something Packers' "GM" Ted "I'll leave quietly out the back door" Thompson hasn't bothered to get for his own handpicked quarterback Aaron Rodgers: Packers RB Ryan Grant is ranked 18th in the league.

So it's bad enough, Packer fans, that you are obtuse enough to hate Brett Favre, even though he's playing at a high level, instead of hating your team's coach and GM for tossing out a perfectly good quarterback. In doing so, Mike & Ted's Not-So-Excellent Adventure doomed you to mediocrity, if not worse, in football terms.

But, Money-wise, the impact of losing Favre is even more hurtful to Green Bay. This year, the NFL schedulers planned for only five national games for the Packers. Those five national games were against Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas, Baltimore, and Arizona. A sixth national game was added when the Vikings-at-Green Bay game was moved to 3:15 Central Time next week.

What do those national games have in common? They're all teams that people want to see. Chicago and Dallas are big media markets. Arizona was in the Superbowl last year and has media darling Kurt Warner. None of those games were picked as national games because of the Packers, who people no longer want to watch. (The Baltimore-Green Bay game is a toss-up; I don't know why that was picked as a national game, except maybe that Baltimore was a playoff team last year.)

The Packers, at the start of the season, ranked 8th in merchandise sales in the NFL, with no Packer player in the top 25. (Aaron Rodgers, the sole top-25 player from the year before, had dropped out.) The teams ahead of the Packers included not just the big markets, but also the San Francisco 49ers.

You know, the 49ers who were 7-9 last year.

The 49ers who were one game better than your Packers last year.

Why does that matter? I don't expect Packer fans to understand fully, but you have heard of revenue sharing, haven't you?

Here's how the NFL shares money: It gets TV money, which is shared equally among all the teams. It gets merchandise money for sales through the NFL, which is shared equally among all the teams, too. So when I watch Brett Favre play as a Viking, the Packers get a little of that money (even though they, and their fans, don't deserve it.)

The teams don't share money from sales at their stadiums -- tickets and concessions -- and don't share money from some licensed products. Particularly, teams keep money they sell from their own Pro Shops, in person and online. When you buy a jersey from the Packers' pro shop, that money goes to the Packers, not the league, helping your team compete.

But the NFL doesn't let teams sell jerseys for players who aren't on their roster, so the Packers can't sell Favre jerseys anymore, which is too bad, since Favre's jersey was (for the second year running) the number one preseason seller... which generates a lot of money for the Vikings, and costs the Packers a lot of money. (Aaron Rodgers came in pre-season at 19, trailing Hines Ward, and just ahead of the 49ers' top draft pick, Michael Crabtree, who didn't even play until this week.)

Packers GM Ted "Mike" Thompson, wearing
his usual office attire.

On the subject of money, let's talk a little bit about charity. You remember what that is, don't you Packer fans? Sure you do -- because you're all about charity.

For example, you're burning perfectly good things for "charity." I'm not sure I see the "charity" in taking things that have value and burning them, but that's what one Eau Claire bar is doing, promising to burn your Favre gear for a $10 charitable donation to an as-yet-unnamed charity. (I'm betting the charity is "Our wallets." But I could be wrong.) Of course, with Favre gear selling at an all-time high, you could sell your Favre stuff and donate the proceeds to charity -- but why do that? Why sell your Brett Favre jersey for $275, and donate the proceeds to charity, when you can burn it and donate just ten bucks to (an as-yet-unnamed) charity?

Another "charity" Packer fans are stupidly supporting is the "Mourn 4" armband, a not-so-funny black armband which claims (falsely) that "100% of proceeds from the sale of every black ‘4’ armband goes directly to support the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition."

That is a false claim because I heard the guy who came up with the concept on the radio, and he said that some of the money is going to pay their start-up costs and that the charity is only now "in the black" (so to speak) -- so, people who have "charitably" bought a black armband, you've raised thousands to cover... start-up costs, and very little to help out breast cancer. You'd have done better to send $5 directly to the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition and get over it. (Click this link if you want to donate to the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition directly, instead of covering "start up costs.")

(To be fair, there is one charitable drive that's actually working well: The Wisconsin Guys on WTDY collected up old Favre jerseys and donated them to a homeless shelter in Minneapolis before the first Packer-Vikings game. Good for them, and they're exempted from this tirade.)

Those idiotic, and wasteful, charitable efforts pale in comparison to Favre's own charities. Favre's "Fourward Foundation" has donated $3 million over 10 years to disadvantaged kids in Wisconsin and Mississippi. Yeah, that's a pittance compared to what he's earned -- but it outshines Packer fans' own uncharitable, dumb efforts. (Favre's wife, Deanna, also runs the "Deanna Favre Hope Foundation," which helps fight breast cancer.)

You get what you deserve, Packer fans, and you get what you asked for. You allowed your team to throw out excellence, and now you've got mediocrity. Your bitterness towards Brett is dumb, and undeserved. The only thing you should give to Brett when he comes back next week is a hearty welcome, if not a plea for him to throw off the Purple and put on the Green and Gold. He won't -- I hope, ever -- but you could at least ask him.

As for me, I'm going to proudly wear my Favre Vikings' jersey, and I'm going to root for Brett and his Vikings against the Packers, and I hope that when he finally does retire, and enter Pro Football's Hall of Fame, that he does it as a Viking.

Because it'll serve you right, you bunch of stupid fairweather fans.

What To Watch & Why: It's obvious, isn't it? Next week Sunday, at 3:15 Central, Favre returns to the formerly-friendly confines of "Did he really coach Chicago/Yes, he did" Field, where moronic Packer fans will do something inane, and where Favre will continue his dominance. If you look closely during long shots of the field, you'll see Ted "I can't read or write" Thompson hanging his weird-shaped head in shame in the luxury boxes. For a fun drinking game, do a shot each time the Packers commit a penalty or give up a sack -- but quit after the first quarter or you'll die of alcohol poisoning.