The Awareness Series: let’s move on, already.

From fall of 2012 — I still feel this way. The first in a three- day series, Awareness Encores.

Breast Cancer Awareness is all over the networks – at least it’s all over ESPN, NFL Network, NBC, CBS, and Fox Sports. Guess it yet? The NFL is blowing the horn to the tune of Pink – massive pinkness in the most macho of arenas.

Pink Gatorade towels. Pink shoe covers. Pink wristbands. Pink cleats, chin straps, and ribbon decals. Pink whistles for the (real) referees, for heaven’s sake. And why?

The purpose of all this pink on the turf is supposed to make all NFL football fans think about breast cancer. Be Aware. Know it’s there.

I can’t help it. My inner cynic is screaming “Enough with the pinky dances already!” My inner cynic, for those who don’t know, is very tuned in to breast cancer in the realm of early detection through mammograms. I’m more than aware of radiation studies, chemo, reconstruction – you name it, friends and family in real life have lived it. Yes, Mom, my latest mammogram was once again normal.

Before readers denounce me as a Bah Humbug, my inner cynic must look into its own wardrobe for two (at least two) pink t-shirts designed by an art teacher who was raising money for the Avon Walk in Chicago. I also own a pink polo shirt with the Green Bay Packers logo on it and the famous pink Packers baseball cap pioneered by Deanna Favre. Both of these items sold out quickly, and not just for Deanna. We still liked Brett back then, but we who bought pink knew a significant portion of our purchase money would go toward breast cancer research.

Well, readers, you might recognize my tone already. I have contributed to breast cancer research through purchases of t-shirts, baseball caps, and just simply by donating to sponsor my amazing friends who walked the walks. So why, why would I complain about the wealthy NFL putting its pink on parade to bring attention to breast cancer for Breast Cancer Awareness?

I complain because awareness is the lowest form of knowledge. Awareness means we know it exists. Awareness means, hey, look at that guy, he’s man enough to put on pink wristbands. This pink thing must be important. What does the pink stand for again?

Awareness doesn’t mean understanding, public support, private support, or personal support. The biggest anticlimax is that all that pink doesn’t mean financial support.

I’ll pose a few questions.

The NFL plans to auction off pink gear to raise money. How much will they raise? How much do they hope to sell? What percentage of the proceeds will actually become donations? And to whom will those donations go?

How much did Gatorade spend on those towels? I’d venture a guess that it could have funded many mammograms for women who don’t have medical coverage. Those dollars might have made up for some of the bucks that Susan B. Komen foundation tried to pull from Planned Parenthood – money that funded just that.

How about those pink whistles? Cute, huh? Cute, however, doesn’t pay the bills when a woman is recuperating from reconstructive surgery. Putting the bucks directly into a fund for follow-up care would go much further than the whistle-stop campaign.

The hot pink shoes, wow, they really show up well on TV hoofin’ their way toward the end zone or during a dramatic kickoff or punt return. But again, at what cost? How much good could that money do if it were used for research toward saving lives?

Okay, NFL, you know I’m a fan. I’m a true blue green and gold cheesehead shareholder type. I’ll keep watching games, pink or no pink. The token pink, though, still irritates me.

Let’s see the teams and their officials and their coaching staff wear the regular colors and have the organization instead make a more-than-token donation to breast cancer research. Maybe when public groups like football teams move beyond the pink ribbons and towels we as a society can admit that research and treatment will gain more from a sizable infusion of cash than from muscular young men sporting hot pink shoelaces.

Until then, maybe I’ll stick to listening to my beloved Packers on the radio for the rest of October.

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Prepping for the Cold

Be Prepared! It’s the Girl Scout Motto. It’s also part of what we do in Wisconsin and other Northern realms of the U.S. Let’s see how this played out so far.

Friday we heard the forecasts. Minnesota’s governor ordered the entire state’s schools to close. I won’t go into the responses circulating our office or the Internet regarding the likelihood of our anti-education governor actually doing something positive for children. Oops, I just did. At first the smaller, rural districts announced they would close Monday. Then the Big Cities of Madison and Milwaukee announced they planned to stay closed through the dangerous wind chills starting Monday..

The vast geography of Packer Nation started calling out “Ice Bowl II! Ice Bowl II!” Ticket holders and the intrepid people who work on the sidelines stocked up on long underwear and fleece lined jeans. People who could stay at home stocked up on – milk, bread, and eggs, along with a bottle of wine or a case of beer if they didn’t get any for Christmas.

Facebook was full of calls for more schools to plan ahead. Local papers ran Internet polls asking “Should schools close on Monday?” Families sent letters pleading for at least an excused absence should families decide to keep their children safe from frostbite and hypothermia.

Survival comments from Wisconsin and Minnesota ran like this —

  • There’s nothing about this weather a box of Triscuits and can of Easy Cheese won’t remedy.
  • Cabin Fever is already in full swing for me, and we have only just settled into winter. It’s going to be a LONG winter!
  • Lawrence University in Appleton ranks as one of the top 20 coldest colleges in the country.
  • Sage advice from a ski patroller and stagehand re: frigid cold. Take this very seriously. A person can go from fine to needing an ambulance ride in a few minutes.
  • Today will consist of Netflixing Dexter & making warm things out of yarn.
  • Grocery stores are packed as people prepare for the frigid temperatures that are set to hit.
  • I have plenty of coffee. Bring it on!
  • I am ready for the deep freeze. I have tomato soup & fixings for cheddar/swiss grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • We’ve got more warm gear than you can imagine, though. We’ve got common sense. Together we’ve got over 100 years of experience with Minnesota weather. 
There are those who panic, and those who make fun of those who panic.
snowstorm panic
Here at the O.K. Chorale, we’re a bit calmer. We took precautions, stopped off at a grocery store, charged the phones and laptops, and then we settled in. Well, Amigo and I stayed home. Dear darling “Chuck” put on his fleece lined jeans and headed north to work (with a visiting crew from San Francisco!) at the NFL venue known for good reason as the Frozen Tundra.
Tell me, readers. Did you need to prep for the storm or the cold? How did you handle it?

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Captions are Entertaining

The NFL sees protests across the country asking that the Washington Redskins change their name to eliminate the demeaning racist image their current name and mascot portray.

The team and the NFL should have a talk with the people who add the closed captioning to their broadcasts. The scene was this: Washington at Green Bay, kick-off at noon on Sunday, with a protest outside the stadium at the Oneida gate. Elsewhere, as people watched the game on their home or bar television sets, those with closed captioning saw the visiting team referred to as The Washington Red Cross.

Chuck kept channel surfing through his own station to make sure they were still on the air with their Christmas Eve mass. I noticed the captioner didn’t quite get the gist of it when I read, “…father, sun, and holly ghost.” Protestant caption-writer? Not Catholic, for sure.

Then I was watching NFL football with Amigo, and the live captioning referred to Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton as Cam Putin.

Let’s examine the possibilities here. 1. The network could have borrowed a captioner from the news staff, one who knows current events in Russia better than he or she knows the NFL starting quarterbacks. 2. The auto-correct feature (not unlike that on cell phones) may have grabbed the basic sounds and missed the first consonant. 3. Closed captioning technology hasn’t evolved as the need for captions and widespread us of captions has grown.

I didn’t include “All of the Above” as an option, but that’s probably the best answer. Captioning technology does have automatic fill-in-the-blank features. The people trained to write the captions that appear on our TV screens may or may not have knowledge of the main topic – in the last example, NFL football.

I expect transcribing live captions must be a challenging job. There’s no rewind or DVR when the announcers are commenting on fast-breaking action of a football game. However, it’s time. It’s time for networks and local stations to get serious about closed captioning. It’s time to go beyond just meeting the bare minimum requirements of disability laws, and time to provide a quality product for consumers.

Meanwhile, captions or no captions, it’s time for My Packers to rally around their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers!

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Decorating Cubicle Nation

We’re elementary teachers in my section of the office, and it shows. Seasonal “ugly” sweaters were the norm in December. We may not have four walls and a chalkboard for decoration, but our cubicles do express our personalities and the season.

Packers' Stocking

Packers’ Stocking

Dear Santa; now that the holiday rush is over and you have a little time to spare, please bring Aaron Rodgers a healthy and strong collarbone. He needs it, and we need him.

Packers' Hat

Look closely!

Santa, if you look closely, my red and white hat has a hint of green and gold, too I knew you wouldn’t mind.

Let it snow!

Let it snow!

Across the aisle from my place of employment, my coworker set up a theme she can keep up beyond Christmas. Like it or not, we will get snow, so we might as well celebrate the weather.

Not a tree

Not a tree

It’s not a typical tree, but with a few painted pine cones and a felt snowman, my plant can look festive, too.

So Santa, we keep working hard and making the place look homey and bright. Please give some thought to that little favor for the green and gold clan. Really.

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Eating the Opponent Once Again

Go! Pack! Go!

Last week we served Crab Louis salad in honor of Fishermen’s Wharf. Chuck also did his best to replicate a fancy flounder dish and found that flounder is simply not widely available in Wisconsin in the fall.

The Packers lost to San Francisco.

We had a wild week in between games with little time for research into foods of Washington, D.C., home of the team called the Redskins. We joked about serving pork. We suggested turkey. We attempted a play on words for fiscal cliff or gridlock. Finally, I did a search or two on my smart phone as we drove to visit La Petite in Lake Geneva.

We found the half-smoke. The half-smoke is a sausage served on a bun, covered in barbecue sauce, sometimes half pork and half beef and sometimes sliced in half lengthwise before cooking. It’s as close as D.C. comes to having its own indigenous food.

A stopover in East Troy took care of everything. We picked up a turkey pot pie at The Elegant Farmer and planned to cook it for Sunday lunch. A few miles down the road we bought our own travel lunch from a BBQ truck and found already cooked and seasoned sausages that looked perfect for our version of the Half-Smoke. A pot pie, a pound of sausage, a bag of ice, and our cooler, and we were in business.

We made it home from Lake Geneva Saturday night just in time to cook the half-smokes and listen to Prairie Home Companion on public radio. Sunday lunch, the turkey pot pie, was delicious. Bonus: it left several leftover pieces for lunches later this week.

But the best bonus: Green Bay beat Washington, 38-20.

Cincinnati, bring it on. We’ll be ready. We’ll serve – so, readers, what kind of foods do Cincinnati residents call their own? Help me out with suggestions, please. We Cheeseheads are hungry for another Super Bowl.

 

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Packer Nation goes On the Road

The setting: Chuck drove a television satellite truck to Kansas City for coverage of an NFL preseason game between the Packers and the Chiefs. Preseason, mind you. These games count for nothing.

Actual text message conversation:

Chuck:

  • Green Bay is freaking out the Arrowhead stadium folks.  Normal game would have two trailers and a satellite truck.
  • Playoff game they see three trailers with uplink.
  • Packers preseason game = 6 trailers and 3 satellite uplink trucks! This includes Telemundo which they’ve never seen before.
  • Heaven help them if there’s ever a GB playoff game.

Daisy responds:

  • It’s what we do! Green Bay loves its team. Do they anticipate a lot of cheeseheads attending?

Chuck replies:

  • Dunno. They seem to be more focused on baseball.

A little later Chuck adds to the truck tally

  • Couple more Wisconsin satellite trucks have arrived. We now outnumber local stations x2.

At kickoff, Daisy comes back:

  • Go! Pack! Go!

Chuck

  • Sent you email with pic of media compound.
  • Does it suit your bloggy needs?

Daisy (laughing):

  • Ha! You read my mind.

Chuck:

  • A little PJ  (a.k.a. Amigo) told me.

closer to halftime, Chuck comments on the game itself. 

  • Are Packers self-destructing?
  • Lunch in press box includes burgers with no cheese.

Daisy, aghast at the thought:

  • No cheese?!

Chuck reassures her:

  • They do have brats with kraut.

So, readers, you want to see the media compound, don’t you? Or do you? Well, here it is.

Media Compound for GB at KC

Media Compound for GB at KC

Chuck’s description:

Here’s the cluster of production trailers and sat trucks. 2 trailers and 1 sat truck at bottom right are norm. 2 little trucks on far left with masts up are local stations. All other trailers and sat trucks are GB. Oh, and a small one for Telemundo. Or as one guard put it, “They’ve even got Tele-effing-moon doh here!”

The guard didn’t know that certain cable subscribers in Wisconsin are getting their preseason games from Telemundo because the regular station hasn’t settled its deal with the cable company. Cheesehead Nation, ever creative, has taken to watching their Packers in Spanish. Those who do not speak the language mute their TVs and listen to the radio broadcast instead. Telemundo’s ratings must be skyrocketing.

Call us Packer Nation, Cheesehead Nation, or a little bit crazy, we love our team. The score was disappointing, but due to the overwhelming media coverage, we didn’t miss a single green and gold moment.

 

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Flat Stanley visits Lambeau Field

Yesterday one of my students read aloud to me from a Flat Stanley story. I was immediately transported back to a time not so long ago when a Stanley came to visit me. I brought Stan to school with me, but Chuck really made Stan’s visit to Wisconsin; he took him to work on a long day at Lambeau Field. In the spirit of Super Bowl Weekend, here’s Flat Stanley’s stadium tour.

When Flat Stanley arrived in my mailbox from Irving, Texas, we knew one place we needed to go: Lambeau Field. Chuck folded Stanley into his wallet and headed off to work.

Stan’s first stop was the Lombardi statue at the entrance. He held onto Vince’s left shoe; that first step would be a doozy.


The best place to start any tour is the Lambeau Field Atrium, including the entrance to the field itself. Can you see the lines on the floor? They line up exactly with the yard lines on the field itself. “Impressive,” thought Stanley.


Stanley’s first stop was the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame where he saw the collection of Lombardi trophies. He felt a lump in his throat as he viewed the most recent addition to the collection, the trophy from Super Bowl XLV.


Then Stanley considered his choices. Locker Room or Field? The locker room was locked, so on to the field it was.


“Wow,” thought Stanley. “This is hallowed ground, not frozen tundra.”


Flat Stanley had the good fortune (and the connections) to sit on the sound board during the evening show of Larry McCarren’s Locker Room. The studio audience overflowed the place for this guest: Aaron Rodgers himself.

Stan was exhausted after his Green Bay adventures, so he climbed back into his envelope in Chuck’s wallet and went to sleep. After all, tomorrow would be another day. There were places to go, people to see, and adventures galore awaiting his flat little self.

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Dear World: your sense of humor escapes me. Kinda.

Dear Clinic That Shall Not Be Named; We’ve discussed this in the past. I’m growing steadily more disillusioned with your system. Like many teachers, I do my best to avoid taking sick time unless the situation is urgent. Assigning me to a medical professional who only sees patients from 9:00 to 3:30 just isn’t working.

Dear Replacement Referees; If nothing else, you have reinforced what most of the world already knew. Green Bay Packers fans are awesome. We didn’t riot in the streets (much), we didn’t tip cars or blow up dumpsters. We took to the social media instead. Tweet, tweet!

Dear Union Buster Walker; Did you really suggest that the NFL negotiate with the officials’ union? Really? Hell must have frozen over. First Favre really retired, and then Walker found a union he liked.

Dear city crews; Wisconsin has two seasons: winter and road construction. If you keep delaying the project on our street, road construction season will be over and it’ll be – you guessed it – winter.

Dear zebras; We’re sorry you lovely gentle animals are getting harassed by association.  The replacement referees do not deserve the nickname Zebras. We’ll call them… readers, what do you suggest? Flying pigs? Mockingbirds?

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Voters and Packers and Bears – oh, my!

When do Green Bay Packers fans line up for hours to see a fan of their arch-enemy, the Chicago Bears?

When that Bears fan is President Obama, that’s when.

There were some scattered rain showers, and the temperatures were cooler by the lake, but nothing stopped this crowd from seeing the President, hearing the President, and cheering him on.

Tammy Baldwin opened for him – now she can say she was an opening act at Summerfest! – and helped energize the crowd. Not that the crowd needed much encouragement; there was a hum and a buzz as the fans, er, voters waited for the headline event.

POTUS_MKE_09222012_JOSH_POTUSCROWD

Add a few cheeseheads hats, and the scene could resemble a game at Lambeau Field.

POTUS_MKE_09222012_JOSH_HEADON

“We are not Bears fans first or Packers fans first; we are Americans first.”

I’ll add to the playbook. The election is coming up quickly. Before we know it, it’ll be voting day. There’s no overtime in elections. Let’s consider summer to be training camp, and September the preseason. Now it’s the real thing, and the final score will be, well, final. Are you in?

November 6th is coming all too soon.

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>Super Bowl Monday, Monday

>The last time the Patriots met the Giants in the Big Game, I wrote a post the next day. I pulled it up during halftime (sorry, Madonna fans) and reminisced a little.

My excuse for Starbucks went something like this: I’d sure like to get a New York Times to see their sports coverage, so I might as well buy one where I can get good coffee.
I’ve been walking to school more often, but school isn’t far from the downtown Starbucks. I could still do this.
I didn’t see much of Peyton Manning. Last time these two teams met, Peyton was in a box (with camera on his every move) to watch his little brother. This time they’re in his team’s home stadium, but Peyton isn’t there. His injury, potentially career-ending, is a factor, I’m sure. But not cheer on the brother?

What’s it like to be Mom Manning in a household with that much testosterone? Or is she just kind of like Wisconsin women, who know football and cheer as loudly as the men? If her older boys, Cooper and Peyton, are home with her watching the game, I hope they brought the beer.
Last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl, the Patriots had gotten into some trouble earlier in the season for stealing signals by taking video of their opponents. They should have just stuck to Eating the Opponents like we do. We ate both last night, with a New York dish (Chicken Riggies) recommended by one of the reporters covering the Bowl for NY, and our standard New England clam chowder.
Last time I wondered if Belichek was in a hurry to leave the field thinking, “Oh, well, now I can wash that filthy sweatshirt I’ve been wearing superstitiously all season. Might as well get at it right away.” My students recently read and discussed a story about superstitions. I can’t believe I didn’t bring up Bill Belichek’s ratty sweatshirt on the sidelines. Does he ever wash that thing? No, don’t answer that.
There were a lot of flags this year. Super Bowl being the best of the best in the NFL, I didn’t expect to see so many errors. Tom Brady, a safety? Twelve men on the field or in the huddle? By the time a team arrives at the Big Bowl, this kind of penalty ought to be over and done with.
Last time I also predicted that the Giants and Packers would meet again. They did meet in the postseason this year, with an outcome that was sad for those of us around Lambeau Field. Eli, we may meet again. But look out; next time the Packers are bringing their defense.

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