The Early Halloween Crowd On The Madison Isthmus


We enjoyed Halloween for the first time in our new home.  The young folks…..and not so young…….were really creative and lively.  What a nice evening in Madison!

Two little princesses showed up at our door, and after they had taken some candy I offered some to their mom.  One of the small girls looked up and said most sincerely, “Oh, no, she can’t eat corn.” (Say again?) The mother smiled and ushered the children on to their next stop.



Technorati Tags: , ,

CQ Has New Site For Political News

If you are a news and political junkie like I am you are aware that the internet is loaded with sites for information and useful tidbits.  But to use our time more constructively we opt for the sites where the content is fresh, and the writing punchy and laced with facts.  We also want the writers to care about their topics. 

So I was pleased today to learn that Congressional Quarterly (CQ) has now started a free web based service.   CQ has been one of the best sources for the inside stories of Washington and Congress in the past, and now many more will have access to their work with this new site.  With the largest team of 160 reporters covering Washington one expects excellent coverage, and that is what they provide.

So as the Editor and Chief of CQ Politics stated on the opening page this morning, the new site is for those of us who care about politics and the future of the nation.

Welcome to CQ Politics, CQ’s new and expanded free Web site designed to provide the latest and hottest political information for people like you, intently focused on where our country is headed. If it’s about American politics, you’ll get it here — straight up.

Technorati Tags: ,


I had never heard of this idea until a neighbor who is also a great long time friend, told me that people around the globe are going to commit to writing a novel in the month of November.  The whole idea is to write 50,000 words starting on November 1st and ending at the end of the month. 

As NaNoWriMo explains it, the idea is to let the inner ideas flow without self criticism.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel.

Technorati Tags:

3D Worldviewer Everyscape

I am continually amazed at the ability of the internet to provide information in a user friendly fashion.

The latest site that has captured my interests is one that takes 2D photos and 3D-fies them to create an immersive street-side experience.

For instance travel the streets of New York City and view a 3D’d streetside view in a Flash player that is in sync with a normal street map.  Other cities are also available, and there is no doubt that this feature is coming to a city near you.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Dane County Farmers Market Ends Season On Saturday

Another great year of getting up for donuts and friends around the statehouse square comes to a close on Saturday.  While there will be other venues for the market in the weeks to come, there really is nothing to compare with the sights and sounds of walking around the Capitol Square buying fresh produce.  So as a way to say farewell for this year take a look back at a memory or two from this spring in Madison, Wisconsin.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Porter Wagoner Made It To Fame With A Satisfied Mind

And the world’s richest person is a pauper at times,
Compared to the one with a satisfied mind.

When my life is over and my time has run out,
All my friends and my loved ones I’m gonna leave them no doubt.

But there’s one thing for certain, when it comes my time,
I’m gonna leave this old world with a satisfied mind.


I hate the need to write this blog post. It is late.  I am tired.  But we need to think about this man tonight.

Not only is this post about the passing of a country music legend and Grand Ole Opry Star, but it is also about the continuing footsteps that lead to the end of an era.  The death of Porter Wagoner, the best ambassador the Opry had, is sad in and of itself.  The tall singer with flashy clothes and a strong sense of humor was an essential part of the Nashville story.  But with his passing we are also witnessing the turnover of the Opry to the new faces.  The old way of making it to stardom and decades of fame is nearing an end. The traditions that made the Opry what it is today are slipping away.

Porter Wagoner made it to the top the old fashioned way.  One song at a time.

In the Ozarks where Porter was born in 1927 came a down to earth way of living and talking.  His music never strayed far from the basic themes of how he lived life.  Those same themes are common to traditional country music.  While working in a meat shop in West Plains, Missouri he delivered his hopes via music over KWPM.   


  His small band played over the airwaves from the store!  When I talk of an era passing this is part of what I mean.  One can image the Ken Burns imagery of black and white pictures showcasing the way singers once found their niche in the music industry.  No slick promotions or well-heeled promoters.  Only real talent and ambition were needed, along with a dose of luck.  With limited money, but boundless desire, Porter moved to a radio station in Springfield, Missouri where an RCA recording contract soon followed.  Even then sales were sparse, and it was not until 1957 that he first stepped on the stage at the Ryman Auditorium. 

The other reason the Porter Wagoner story is important is the many ways he proved his talent.  From those butcher shop radio shows on the one hand, to 19 years on television with “The Porter Wagoner Show” on the other hand, he proved he had the knack for entertaining.  There were nearly 700 thirty-minute shows recorded from 1960-1979.  Doubtless many of my readers have seen at least one!  The ease that Porter demonstrated as an entertainer is most evident in these TV shows, as it was each weekend on the Opry stage.  I am sure if one could hear the old radio shows from the early 1950’s there would be the hint of assuredness and raw talent that were perfected in the following decades of his career.

Perhaps many know Porter best for his famous duets with Dolly Parton on the RCA label.  At times the personal nature of their professional relationship transcended the music, but late in the 1980’s the two patched up remaining differences.  In fact, it was Dolly who inducted Porter into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002.


The style, flash, and smile that Porter brought with him to the stage was reflected back to him with warm applause and appreciation night after night on the Opry stage, and other venues around the nation.  When he appeared in Wisconsin about 15 years ago he bounded on the stage wearing one of his famous Nudie suits that was his trademark.  After a long performance he lingered and met the fans.  One by one they shared a memory with him and took home an autograph and snapshot.  I still recall that night how he seemed utterly content to stay as long as his fans kept talking. I left with an old album cover signed and a deeper appreciation for the man behind the music.

He never forgot how hard it was to make it in the business back in the early days of his career.  And because of that he never took his fans for granted.

There are a dwindling number of the old style Opry members, and with each one that moves on to the biggest stage yet, we are left with only memories.  So today I write not only about Porter, but also about the larger loss for the Grand Ole Opry.

As the final days approached Porter displayed the side of him that we knew existed all along.  As the Washington Post reported he was thankful and satisfied with life.

Country singer and Opry member Dierks Bentley visited Wagoner in the hospice over the weekend and said Wagoner led them in prayer, thanking God for his friends, his family and the Grand Ole Opry.

We will not see one like Porter grace the Opry stage again.

Porter Wagoner Slide Show

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Prayers Needed For Porter Wagoner


A couple hours after this was posted, I learned that Porter Wagoner died. 

Just weeks ago Porter Wagoner was on late night TV singing the latest single from his new album, that has received amazing reviews.  On “Late Night With David Letterman” he performed music from “Wagonmaster”.  This year he celebrated his 50th year at the Grand Ole Opry, and had his old singing partner Dolly Parton show up and sing for him.

When Parton ended her serenade to Wagoner, who was sitting on a stool during the song, she had to wipe away his tears and said, “You can get up now, I’m done hollering at you!”

Early last week Porter was admitted to a hospital.  According to WSM DJ Eddie Stubbs, Porter’s lung cancer is moving aggressively, and on Friday was transferred from the hospital to a hospice care facility.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Freakfest Billboard On Madison Beltline

I was on the beltline in Madison this afternoon and saw a huge billboard promoting Freakfest on State Street for this evening.  I am a bit confused.

From my perspective this event is one that we need to contain, in order to insure that safety is maintained, and costs kept in line with dwindling city budgets.  In other words the ability of the taxpayers to pay for drunken parties should be a priority.

So who paid for the large billboard to promote and lure even more people to an event that taxpayers will foot the bill for?

Might the cost of the billboard have been better used to pay the city for police and emergency protection services?  If a student group paid for this ad then I suggest they talk with some city taxpayers about real world economic realities.   I argue all the time for the best quality of programs and buildings for UW-Madison.  I feel lucky to live in Madison and am glad to pay my taxes, knowing that some of it goes to this fine institution.  But events such as Freakfest should not be the burden of Madison taxpayers.

Last evening at about 11:00 P.M. we were walking with friends down State Street.  In one block alone were 15 police officers.  That was not counting the ones on horseback that walked by, or the personnel that followed picking up horse droppings. 

And taxpayers get to pick up the tab for all this so people can dress up on Halloween and get drunk?

As I said I must be a bit confused.

I might add that thousands of folks attend Concerts On The Square in the summer where the Chamber Orchestra pays for the setup and cleanup each week.  The city is not stuck with the bill!

Technorati Tags: , , , ,