Clipping a Snowbird’s Wings

Sometime last winter I began thinking about how nice it would be someday when I’m older to spend the colder months of the year in a warmer climate.

When I started casually thinking about where, I got it in my head that Flagstaff, Arizona, would be the perfect place. No logical reason, just the beautiful landscape and access to medical care and a college campus and other cool things like the Lowell Observatory. Arizona is warm, right? Don’t lots of people spend their winters there playing golf? Plus you can get to Flagstaff by Amtrak, and I’m a huge fan of rail travel.

So then I started following Flagstaff on Facebook and Twitter, etc. And guess what? It turns out that Flagstaff isn’t quite the “warmer climate” I envisioned.

Flagstaff’s first snowfall of the season was October 7th, while Milwaukee’s first real snowfall this year (not just a few flakes in the air, but actual snow on the ground) didn’t come until the end of November. According to an article in the Arizona Republic, Flagstaff averages 101.7 inches of snow every year, while Milwaukee gets less than half of that (only 46.9 inches, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center). In fact, Flagstaff has had several snowstorms this season already, but Milwaukee has seen mostly rain. We have no snow on the ground in my neighborhood, and it’s raining today.

While at an academic conference in Chicago last week, I checked the local forecast to see if I needed to wear my scarf and gloves outside my hotel. On a whim, I also took a look at Flagstaff’s forecast.

Flagstaff was colder than Chicago! As proof, here are the screenshots from my phone last Friday.

The moral of my little story? Well, just this, I guess: It’s important to do your homework and NOT make big decisions on the basis of assumptions. I do look forward to spending time in Flagstaff at some point. But I don’t think it’s ever going to be my winter home 🙂

Posted in Life, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Saving the Environment

Two items seen in my hotel room (I’m attending an academic conference in Chicago). We humans are a remarkably flexible species. To wit:

I repeat:

So . . . an ethical dilemma. Chicago sits right on Lake Michigan, one of the largest sources of fresh water in the world. If I drink from the tap instead of this bottle shipped literally halfway around the world, is it okay for me to use a clean towel? 🙂

Posted in Life, Nature, Political Analysis, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Milwaukee’s Forecast: No change in view

The Wisconsin Gas Building’s flame was such a pretty shade of blue beneath the overcast sky this afternoon that I had to stop and take this picture.  The flame changes color to announce the weather forecast:

When the flame is red, there’s warm weather ahead!
When the flame is gold, watch out for cold!
When the flame is blue, there’s no change in view!
When there’s a flickering flame, expect snow or rain!

Today was gray, dry (after the morning snow fizzled out), and seasonably mild (highs in the low thirties). For a December day, that’s not bad. A little blah, but very livable. “No change in view” sounds good to me! 🙂

Posted in Milwaukee, Photography | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Paw Paw Incident: James McCoy Deposition (1889)

Paw Paw Incident: James McCoy Deposition (1889)
— Read on

This is an eyewitness account of an incident related to the infamous feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. From Brandon Ray Kirk’s excellent blog, where he posts lots of primary source materials on West Virginia history.

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Little Free Library #10 – Samson & Delilah Salon

Stopped by Colectivo at 68th and Wells Streets today to pick up a latte and some of their fabulous Hot Cocoa Mix for home. (Truly, their cocoa is the BEST! And they don’t pay me for this endorsement😄) I was lucky to get a parking spot right across the street on Wells and noticed this Little Free Library box outside the Samson & Delilah Salon.

Isn’t it clever, the way the box mimics the architecture of its parent storefront?

And speaking of Little Free Libraries, it has been a while since I posted one of these photos. (Obviously, as this post is #10, there are nine others I’ve written about so far😄) Either I’m not noticing as many of them lately, or they’re not springing up as frequently as they once did. Anyway, a few weeks ago I saw that Todd Bol (the Hudson, Wisconsin, man who founded the movement in memory of his mother) had died. What a rich legacy he left behind for the world!

Posted in architecture, Art, Books and reading, Creativity, Life, Little Free Library, Milwaukee, Photography | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Michael Caine on life as a never-ending audition

While doing some background research for the academic article on movie trailers that I’m writing with a psychology professor in my department, I stumbled across a book by Michael Caine titled Acting in Film: An Actor’s Take on Movie Making (published in 2000, Amazon page here).

In its “Introduction,” Caine says that actors should always be auditioning. Every moment of their lives is basically a screen test, because you never know who in the film industry the people around you may be connected to. “If you wind up on the screen,” he says, “it’s because you’ve done something right since the cradle—and long before you ever made it to a producer’s office.” If you have a drink at a bar where no one has ever met you before, if you pass the “screen test,” the bartender may remember that some random guy who comes in on Tuesdays is married to a woman whose sister is a makeup artist on a sitcom. That kind of thing. Caine’s philosophy is that you need to be “on” all the time—even after you’ve “made it”— basically doing the right thing, being a nice person, and always finding a way to make some lemonade when life hands you lemons.

Then he recounts a story from his own life to illustrate the what-goes-around-comes-around karma of these random life encounters. I liked it and thought I’d share.

I remember doing a film with Shirley MacLaine: Gambit. A tour bus pulls up pretty smartly as the actors are crossing the studio lot. Fans come piling out of the bus. The driver is trying to corral the actors into signing autographs on our way in. Most of the actors escaped the crowd through a side door. I, on the other hand, knew the bus driver had a job to do, and I was going to make him look good. I signed every autograph on that bus. No big deal, right? Until I tell you that the young driver of that bus turned out to be Michael Ovitz. See what I mean?

Oh, yeah. Not only can I imagine Michael Ovitz never forgot that small act of kindness, but I also have no doubt that earning the lasting gratitude of a major Hollywood mover-and-shaker might give one’s acting career a boost.

I’ve always liked Caine as an actor. His book looks intriguing, and even though I have no plans to pursue an acting career, my “to read” list just got a little longer 🙂

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Sorry about that!

WordPress used to have a nice “rebloggung” feature, and maybe they still do if you’re on your computer, but I tried to reblog a neat post on the Armistice earlier today using my phone and was not happy with the result. My WordPress app’s reader has also given me trouble here and there over the past few months. Anyway, the Armistice post, reblogged from Ici & La Nature, is about the end of WWI and the spot in a French forest where the train cars of the German envoys and French general met and the armistice was signed. Here is a link to the original post.

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