Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Ballpark Village 2023
Kiel Opera House might be redeveloped sometime soon:
    A downtown landmark took one step closer to new life Tuesday, though it still has a long way to go.

    A city board declared the Kiel Opera House blighted, a key in making it eligible for redevelopment incentives that could eventually bring shows and concerts back to the grand but long-empty hall on Market Street.
Remember, citizens, the Blues organization was supposed to rehab this venue as part of the agreement when the city built them a new arena in 1995.

You think the local government will learn a lesson about public/private partnerships and how they are the "mark" in these deals? Who cares, so long as the elected officials and unelected commission or committee members get to sit in the boxes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Police Chief: You Cannot Do Legal Things With Impunity
Wisconsin's Attorney General has said open carry is legal in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee's Police Chief says he will not abide by people doing this legal thing:
    "If my officers see someone walking around the City of Milwaukee with a firearm openly displayed, it borders on irresponsible if I were to communicate to members of my community that they can carry that firearm with impunity," Flynn said.
Embrace the arbitrariness of law enforcement. If we don't like what's legal, we enforce our own standards.

Good for paperback fiction, bad for a civilized society.

State Treats Stimulus Like Taxpayers
Stimulus money paying Illinois bills:
    More than $1 billion in federal stimulus money is winding its way toward Illinois school districts. But don't expect any major changes in local education efforts.

    Rather, the cash — approved by the U.S. Department of Education on Monday — will largely go toward paying bills the state already owes to school districts for items like transportation and special education services.
Isn't that what taxpayers did with their stimulus checks? Instead of running out and buying consumer goods, they paid bills?

Unfortunately, at the state level, this is a real problem if states spend that one-time (hah!) windfall to pay ongoing expenses because those expenses will still be there when the funds are gone.

But it keeps state officials from having to make difficult decisions, hopefully until such time as the state officials become Federal officials, leaving a new crop of leaders to deal with the mess.

Monday, April 20, 2009
Homeowner Panic: Averted
So this afternoon, I went into my workroom, the utility room in the finished basement, to get some supplies for an outdoor project. And I heard this strange rattling coming from the water heater or the furnace.

So I got closer, and I isolated the rattle to the water heater. Crap, I thought, I don't know who to call when I have problems with a water heater. It's true, I have a furnace guy, an electrical guy, and a drain guy, and I know who to look for in the white pages if I need concrete work or plumbing. But water heaters? Crikey, I don't know who to call.

The rattling was accompanied, sometimes, by a weird trill. Almost bird like. I assumed I was hearing something else.

So I grabbed my supplies and did my outdoor chore. While outside, I heard the bird trilling that I'd heard in the basement. I didn't hear the rattling.

When I got downstairs, I put away my gear and heard the rattling again. I moved close to the water heater to listen closely. Then, I heard the rattling and the trilling with the same locus. Essentially, the duct leading to the chimney.


I went outside and moved until I was in front of the neighbor's house. There, upon my roof, upon my chimney, sat the neighborhood woodpecker, a recent immigrant whose better-thought-out knocking I'd heard upon trees in mornings and early afternoons for recent days. He trilled, and then he drummed upon the metal cover on my chimney, as though to challenge the other birds in the area.

Or perhaps just to make me wonder and to fret just a bit.

Sunday, April 19, 2009
Geeking on a Sunday Night

Book Report: Warriors of the Way by Harry Harrison and John Holm (1995)
This book collects the first two books in the trilogy, natch. A featured selection in the Science Fiction Book Club, too, I learned from the ephemera that came with the book--namely, the flyer for the month where the book was featured.

I like Harry Harrison. I read his Planet of No Return in middle school, and I've dabbled with the Stainless Steel Rat series (see also The Stainless Steel Rat for President). I've even discovered that I read another alt history book of his recentlyish (Stars and Stripes Triumphant, July 2006). I characterized this as an alt history book as well when I bought it, but it's more fantasy than straight ahead alt history.

The books center on Shef, a thrall raised by the local karl (minor royalty figure) who kept Shef's mother. As a bastard, he's mistreated of course, but he learns some smithing. When a band of Vikings invade to avenge their father, Shef becomes part of their army to rescue his captured stepsister. Then he rises in the ranks and becomes a lord in his own right, guided by a mysterious god-figure who thwarts even Othin.

It's a fantasy book because it does feature Norse gods as real people, includes a lot of visions and stuff. The two books clock in at 800 pages, so I felt my bottom in the chair, so to speak, although the books were good enough reading as I went along. Although the battle scenes are more Patick O'Brian than Bernard Cornwell in that they're rather anti-climactic and a bit of an afterthought, with much of the book coming in the in-between things going on. A bit of a knock, but I guess I did end the reading experience with the end of the middle part of the trilogy. If I stopped watching the first Star Wars trilogy after A Empire Strikes Back, I'd been left a little hanging.

Of course, if that's the metaphor that holds, I'd better not read the third in this series, or I'll find that the Ewoks keep the Norse gods from winning at Ragnarok.

Books mentioned in this review:

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."