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Monday, November 30, 2009

"Anniversary of Milwaukee's First Baseball Game"

Today is an interesting day in Milwaukee history. It marks the 150th anniversary of the first baseball game played in this fair city.

According to the December 1, 1859 edition of the Milwaukee Daily Sentinal, "This game, now so popular at the East, is about to be introduced in our own city. A very spirited impromptu match was played on the Fair Ground, Spring Street Avenue... six on a side..."

Among those playing was the organizer -- newspaper editor, educator, U.S. diplomat, and Union Civil War general Rufus King, then age 45.

A very primitive box score of the game followed, with King's team winning by a score of, 85-40. Yes... 85-40. Seven players are listed for each side.

The same two teams met two more times before the end of 1859. All three matches were played at the old State Fairgrounds (what is now the Marquette University campus).

Over the years, seven more pro/semi-pro baseball teams would play in Milwaukee:

"The Drill: Anniversary of Milwaukee's first baseball game"


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"Thanksgiving Recap"

Well folks, I'm back in Milwaukee after a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend spent with family. Turkey, laughs, and hugs were aplenty, and my total distance traveled clocked in at a respectable 425 miles -- all of it by car and bus.

On Thursday -- to start the weekend, Kelli and I drove from Milwaukee to Cambridge (WI) where my aunt, uncle, and younger cousins live. We arrived in time for the morning church service (my uncle is the pastor there), and then hung around for the traditional turkey feast in the early afternoon. The food was great (as it is every year!), the atmosphere lively, and my aunt/uncle/cousins got to meet Kelli (in person) for the first time. It was grand!

Unfortunately, though, we couldn't stay in Cambridge for as long as I have in past years. This year, the next stop was in Tomah, WI -- where Kelli's family resides. Her family had already eaten their feast by the time we arrived a few hours later, but they did save dessert, so we enjoyed some pie. After getting settled in, we spent the rest of the day visiting.

On Friday we hung out around Kelli's parents' house (where we were staying while in Tomah), and in the evening drove across town to spend the evening with Kelli's younger sister, husband, and two young sons. We had pizza and watched the Tomah Christmas parade -- which just happened to go by in front of the house. It was dark by this time, so the parade floats (all decked out in lights) twinkled cheerfully as they drifted by.

On Saturday, Kelli, her parents, and myself returned to Kelli's sister's house, and again spent the afternoon visiting. We had spaghetti for dinner, I played with the older son (my 4 years old nephew), and we all enjoyed good company and conversation. By mid evening, we were back across town, and turning in for the night. Kelli wanted to leave early in the morning so as to avoid the inevitable post-Thanksgiving traffic later that day.

As a result, I was up at 4am Sunday morning, and we were on the road north (to Brillion, WI -- where Kelli lives) fifteen minutes later. We arrived at her apartment by early-to-mid-morning, and spent the next few hours relaxing. By 3:30pm, I was 20 miles east in Manitowoc, boarding my Greyhound bus bound for Milwaukee 80 miles to the south.

After an hour and a half on the road (which seemed to go by fast, as I was in happy conversation with a blind man the whole way), I was back in Milwaukee. I caught my city buses from the Greyhound station to my apartment, and was home by 6:30pm.

In the end, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. I'm not always a fan of long distances traveled, and 425 miles is a lot for one weekend, but the destinations were well worth it, and I had a beautiful woman there to keep me company. It's Monday now, and I'm back to work. But the memories of my last Thanksgiving as a bachelor will not soon be forgotten.

If you're interested, I'll be posting some photos within the next few days. I had my trusty digital camera with me over the weekend, and a few of those photos will go online. Stay tuned; I'll let you know when they're up!

For now, though.... it's time to resume my day.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too. Lots of food, family, and fun. Enjoy your last day of November, and I'll see you.... next month! ... [wink]

Your happily blogging friend,

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Gone Turkey-Eating"

Happy Thanksgiving all! I'll be spending time with family, so, no posts until I return on Sunday. Here's hoping everyone has a blessed holiday, enjoy your turkey, and I'll see you when I get back!


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Jon Baas Goes Public on Facebook"

For those of you who like to keep updated on things happening in my life, there are two new "websites" you may want to take a look at. Both of them are fan pages hosted on Facebook. And both of them are public. Anyone can access them.

The first is my new Twitter replacement. It's the Jon Baas fan page, and has been set up as a community for anyone interested in me, my work, or my public life. I used to post my daily status updates from my personal account, but only those connected to me on Facebook could read them. This new fan page reverses that trend.

Come take a look sometime! New fans are always welcome!

The Jon Baas Fan Page on Facebook:

And the other site is for those interested in the news and goings-on in regards to me and my fiancee, Kelli. No, we won't reveal the really personal stuff, but we WILL post photos, stories, links, and other fun details as we journey together toward marriage and beyond. It's your invitation to join us and follow along as our exciting little adventure unfolds.

The Jon and Kelli Fan Page on Facebook:

And of course, there's always my Jon Baas Designs fan page, this one dealing almost exclusively with my artwork, my online store, and the creativity that drives both.

I'm very active on Facebook... and you can be part of the fun. Come join me. Become a fan. I'll keep blogging here, as I have been since 2002. But now, there are a few more options to stay updated, and a few more opportunities to interact.


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Monday, November 23, 2009

"Star Trek: A Scene For William Shatner"

If you're a Star Trek fan, like me, you'll probably remember one of the biggest Trek debates on the net had to do with whether or not to include William Shatner (the original Captain Kirk) in the latest movie. The film makers tried, but in the end, they didn't feel it would work. Recently, however, it was revealed that the writers did indeed write a scene for Shatner.

If you're interested, has the details:
Star Trek scene written for Shatner


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Sunday, November 22, 2009

"The Decade in Seven Minutes"

Your history lesson for the day... peppered with snark and wit. Courtesy of NewsWeek magazine. Take a moment and relive the past 9.8 years in news stories -- condensed into just seven minutes. Intriguing stuff. A lot can happen in a decade. How much do YOU remember? ... [video]


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Friday, November 20, 2009

"Friday in Review"

Put out rock salt in preparation for winter. Transported 100+ lb. plastic tubs full of it to the vacinity of 32 apartment front doors. Moved four large blue plastic road barrels full of the same salt, but was grateful to do so with a wonderfully useful heavy-duty two-wheeled dolly. Helped pound 24 steel posts into the ground to support eight orange plastic snow fences. Physically exhausted. Enjoyed a tasty dinner at the local Golden Corral buffet. Came home. Talked to Kelli. Going to bed shortly for some much-needed sleep.


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"Movie Friday: "Pigeon: Impossible"

Another Friday, another movie. This week my selection is titled, "Pigeon: Impossible".

In this wonderful little animated film, a rookie secret agent is faced with a problem seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a curious pigeon gets trapped inside his multi-million dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase. How he solves the problem, and what becomes of the pigeon are well worth investigating. ... [video]

Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend all!

(Click link to watch.)


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

"When Life Becomes a Dump"

I find it interesting how some people choose to live. Case in point, the apartment I was cleaning earlier today. When you have so much stuff in your own apartment, that you have to live next door with your neighbor, that's not a good sign. And why the neighbor let those people live with them is beyond me.

See, the apartment I've been working on was formerly occupied by a young married couple (younger than myself) and their two children -- a rambunctious trouble-maker of a boy (more and more so as he gets older), and his younger sister. That's four people, a moderately-sized family by American standards. They seemed normal enough, yet always had trouble paying the rent, the mother swore up a storm in front of her children, she had no parenting skills, and they left debris and destruction wherever they went (mostly in the form of broken toys, trash, and cigarette butts).

They also had a serious hoarding problem.

I was in their apartment about a year back when the landlord and I were installing new ceiling fans. There was no floor, or, I should say, there was very little of it visible. Stuff filled every available corner, yet somehow, four people lived there.

Now, I should note, up until last summer (2008), I was one of their neighbors. They had moved in shortly before I did, and I moved into that building straight out of college. That means, they were tenants there for seven years. When I was in there replacing the lighting fixtures, things were already getting out of hand. Since my roommate and I moved out (and into the place we're in now -- also owned by the same landlord), things have apparently gotten far worse. More problems, more junk, more hoarding.

Recently, the landlord finally told them, "Hey, I've had enough. I'm not renewing your lease. It's time to move out." Apparently, they were very bitter, and when they vacated the apartment, they left it in really bad shape. Greasy yellow walls (from years of cigarette smoke), a carpet I wouldn't let a baby crawl on, mounds of stuff (mostly broken), trash everywhere, and... unfortunately an entire basement full of miscellaneous junk, including mounds and mounds of dirty laundry. Yes, dirty unwashed laundry.

Previous days were spent painting the apartment. Today's task -- for me -- was to clear out the basement, and dispose of the hundreds of items of clothing. By the end of the day, the landlord and I had filled a closet-sized trailer full of broken toys, kid's bicycle parts, piles of old homework papers and newspaper clippings, a number of unused carpentry books, old CD's, pieces of furniture, more cigarette butts, broken electronics, ratty stuffed animals, etc... all of which was taken straight to the local Milwaukee dump.

Later, when we returned with an empty trailer, I set to work bagging the mounds of dirty laundry. We saved that for last. By the end of the afternoon, I had filled six large black trash bags and two large boxes -- all of it with clothing. And it didn't help that the much of it was unwashed underwear and old lingerie. I felt dirty just being in the same room.

How do people live like this? And by choice? What compels people to degrade themselves to such a point that this is their standard of living? And with kids too no less! How can one family become so lazy in life that a dump is a perfectly acceptable place for them to live?

I think the word I'm trying to find is: "flabbergasted". I just don't get it.

But hey, the apartment walls (and ceilings) are now cleaned and painted. The old carpet is being ripped up and replaced with new. The basement is emptied of "stuff". Fixtures have been cleaned. And the once disgusting living space is being scoured, repaired, and renewed. When we're done with it, it'll be a whole new apartment.

I just hope the new incoming tenants have a much higher standard of living.


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"The 2009 Word of the Year"

Just Announced: This year's Oxford Word of the Year is: "unfriend".

unfriend (verb) -– To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Myspace or Facebook. As in, "I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight."


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"A Brief History of the Coca-Cola Bottle"

Here's something interesting: A photographic history of the Coca-Cola bottle.


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"Airline Tail Art"

Aircraft today are like flying billboards. How a commercial airline chooses to brand themselves can go a long way in distinguishing their image in an ever-increasingly competitive commercial market.

Here are 10 examples of airline branding through creative tail art.


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"A New Feature: I'd like to Interview You!"

I've been inspired to do a little something different here on my blog. Maybe a new feature even, who knows. Basically... I'd like to interview some of my readers. Anyone who reads this blog qualifies.

If you're interested in being the first Jon Baas blog reader to be interviewed, send me an email or leave me a message. It'll be fun. Educational. Different. And you could be the first! Send me an email... An interview is waiting!


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"Flight 1549 Reconstruction"

Here's something worth seeing. It's a 3D video reconstruction of US Airways Flight 1549 -- the plane that landed in the Hudson river on January 15, 2009. The recreation uses satellite imagery, elevation models, and GIS mapping methods to create a realistic vegetation model, terrain model and ground clutter. In other words, it's quite realistic. ... [video]

Of all the available audio tracks, only two are used in the video, La Guardia Tower and the New York TRACON Departure controller. Radar data as well as the onboard Flight Data Recorder were also used in reconstructing the plane's flightpath.

It's a fascinating look into a heroic event in recent history. Take a peek.


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Monday, November 16, 2009

"Guidelines For Cats"

Humans have three primary functions: to feed us, to play with and give attention to us, and to clean the litter box. It is important to maintain one's Dignity when around humans so that they will not forget who is the master of the house. Humans need to know basic rules. They can be taught if you start early and are consistent.

Guidelines for Cats.


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"Top 10 Homemade Remedies For What Ails You"

Toothpaste for bee stings. Duct tape for warts. Bacon sandwich for hangovers. Feeling under the weather? Here are 10 often overlooked remedies for illnesses, physical annoyances, and other things that might ail you.


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

"A Tiny Drop of Water"

Most of us have seen water drops falling before, right? They hit a puddle and create ripples. It's a rather mesmerizing effect. But did you know that something else happens too? When a water drop hits the surface of water... it bounces.

Take a peek at this clip and see for yourself. High speed photography at 2,000 frames per second can change your entire perception of the world! ... [video]

(video clip from "Time Warp", on the Discovery Channel)


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Friday, November 13, 2009

"Friday in Review"

Finished painting all but the kitchen of another apartment. Disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled some grimy ceiling fans. Called it a day. Enjoyed dinner and conversation at a Chinese restaurant. Came home. Informed that my friend Rachel was coming over. Spent the evening entertaining her. Watching "The Cutting Edge" with Scott and Rachel. Going to bed soon, while Rachel stays the night on my couch.


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Thursday, November 12, 2009

"From Sanity To Distraction, And Back Again"

Well folks, it's been a week since my last post, and that's not at all what I had planned. I hate it when that happens. I get caught up in things. Then time flies by, and before I know it, a week is gone. Very frustrating sometimes. But, I'm back. Time to fill in the blanks a bit.

Last week Friday, I went down to Chicago -- to see a billy goat. That sounds strange, I know... so I'll explain. Back during the 2008 MLB baseball season, my friend Tom made me (and another friend) an offer. If the Milwaukee Brewers made it into the Playoffs at the end of the season (which they did), he would take us down to Chicago. Our destination of choice: the Billy Goat Tavern -- the supposed source of the "Curse of the Billy Goat" placed upon the rival Chicago Cubs.

Perhaps a little history lesson is in order, though. See, back in 1945, the then-owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, Billy Sianis, was asked to leave a World Series game at Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs), because his pet goat's odor was bothering fans. He was outraged, and declared: "Them Cubs, they aren't gonna win no more," which has been interpreted to mean that there would never be another World Series game won at Wrigley Field. Ironically, the Cubs have never been to the World Series since.

So, since Tom and I are avid Brewers fans (and love to dislike the rival Cubs as a result), we went down to Chicago to visit the famous "source" of the Cubs curse. And they have great cheeseburgers too, so it just happened to be lunch as well.

Back to Friday, though. Tom, his friend Tom, and myself took the train down to Chicago early in the morning. It was an hour and a half ride; nothing fancy. When the three of us got there, we walked from Union Station through the downtown streets of Chicago (dwarfed by all the giant skyscrapers above us!) until we arrived at the Billy Goat. We stopped along the way, exploring some of Chicago's history, stopping in a few of the old buildings, taking pictures, that sort of thing. By lunch time, we were at the Billy Goat. A cheeseburger, beer (yes, I had a beer!), and some good conversation later, and we were back on the streets exploring.

As we killed time before catching our train back to Milwaukee, we stopped in Millennium Park, saw the big mirrored "kidney bean" as I like to call it, witnessed a fight almost break out in McDonald's between an employee and a bum digging in the trash, and explored historic Union Station for a while. It was a fun trip, and a great opportunity to play tourist in the Windy City.

On Saturday, I went to see a fun interpretation of the play, "The Mouse That Roared" at the local Wisconsin Lutheran High School. Scott (my roommate) helped adapt the 50's play to the modern day for his aunt, who was directing. And since it was also her last play as director there, Scott and I brought her mom (Scott's 95-year-old still-quite-spry-for-her-age grandmother) as well. Fun was had by all, and the play was well worth seeing.

The next few days, though, were just a busy blur. Sometimes frustrating too. Just work, some play, and lots of brainstorming. On Tuesday I discovered that Kelli (my fiancee living and teaching 100 miles north) has developed back problems. She's getting treatment to correct the problem, but has been in great pain since. So... on top of my sometimes frustrating work, brainstorming new ideas (and not being as creative as I would like), Kelli's health is on my mind as well. Definitely an emotionally frustrating week. Maybe I should have stayed in Chicago. :)

On the up side, though, today is Thursday. It's a new day, and I refuse to be pessimistic. Starting later this morning, I'll be painting one, maybe two, apartments -- both at the buildings where I used to live. I'll be working into Friday as well, so, it'll be a nice distraction from my office. After that, it's the weekend... and I could really use another weekend to unwind.

For now, though... painting. Roller, walls, and white-ish paint. After that, we'll see.


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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Jon Baas is going to Chicago tomorrow. By train. To see a billy goat.
(status on Facebook)

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"Jury Duty Recap"

Well, my jury duty today didn't turn out like I had hoped...

To start with, I didn't get much sleep last night. I went to bed with plenty of rest time to spare, but I just couldn't fall asleep. I was either too excited to do my civic duty, or, not tired enough to sleep. Whatever the case, when my alarm went off at 5:30am, three hours was the best I got.

Thankfully, I had some caffeine, took a warm shower, got my stuff together, and was ready to catch the first of my two city buses downtown by 7am.

When I arrived at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, I checked in as instructed, and found a seat in the jury assembly room. I think I was one of at least fifty randomly selected people present. At 8:30am, a jury orientation video began on the ceiling-mounted televisions at the front of the room.

We were half-way through the program, however, when it suddenly shut off. Moments later, an official came into the room, and informed us that all of today's cases had been resolved. There were no longer any trials, and thus, no need for any juries. We were all being sent home.

So, in short, I showed up at the massive courthouse on time, my bus tickets were free, I sat for half an hour in the waiting room, and then was sent home with a letter entitling me to $11 -- a half day's worth of jury pay.

According to state law, I cannot be summoned again for five years.

It wasn't quite the opportunity I had hoped for. No jury duty. No deliberations. Nothing exciting. Just a trip downtown, a short visit to a crowded waiting room, and a bus ride back home again. Very disappointing. Maybe next time I'll actually get to do something. ... [shrug]


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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"Tuesday in Review"

Finished painting another apartment. Slightly orange walls, now nice and white. Transferred supplies to the next two apartments on my list. Preparing to paint those next week. Went to lunch at Ponderosa. Came home. Took a three hour nap. Talked to Kelli on the phone. Had dinner while watching Country music videos. Heading to bed shortly. Tomorrow: Jury duty.


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Jon Baas is a big geek. But he's ok with that. :)
(status on Facebook)

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Monday, November 02, 2009

"Best. Costume. Ever."

I think I've just come across the most creative costume of the season. An artist from MAC Cosmetics went above and beyond, and painted a woman as a comic book character for Halloween —- right down to the dot printing style of old comics books.

Here are some photos, taken by publicist and photographer Tasha Marie. Enjoy!


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"A Bad Day At The Warehouse"

This warehouse incident didn't end well. I just hope the guys survived. ... [video]


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"30 Creative And Cool Candle Designs"

Before the invention of electricity, candles were used for illumination. Today they're used on birthday cakes, at candle light dinners, in aromatherapy, to set a romantic mood, etc.

Here are some creative candle designs. Take a peek, and enjoy!


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"Virtual Keyboard"

Here's a fun little diversion -- if you're musically-inclined. Play the piano on a virtual keyboard. Or switch to the organ, saxophone, flute, pan pipes, strings, guitar, steel drums, or double bass.


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Jon Baas

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