Hells Angels News

Hells Angels News is the keyword for today.

A surprising number of people search the web for HAMC news.

I have been watching "Sons of Anarchy," the show about a CA motorcycle club. The premise of the show seems fairly unbelievable, but the characters might be based on real world motorcycle clubs.

I wanted to do a little research on the subject.

Hunter S. Thompson wrote a book about the Hells Angels (see upper right thumbnail). Tom Wolfe also wrote a book that touched on the relationship between the Angels and the hippies in the 60s.

I might check these out, just to be a little more informed about the HAMC and motorcycle clubs in general.

My understanding of motorcycle clubs is that they are non-conformists and freedom loving people who can't accommodate what they see as the corrupt values of the modern world. What are your thoughts?

Disdain for Health Insurance Industry Unabated

Since Obamacare came to be, my hatred for the health insurance industry has remained unchanged, as have their chaotic and insane practices. In fact, my angst may be even greater than before.

I recently had a single doctor visit for a simple checkup. I can't really blame the health insurance company for the fact that I received two (2) separate bills for the same doctor visit, from two (2) different organizations, for two (2) different amounts of money.

That kind of mediocrity just leaves me speechless.

But what I can blame the health insurance provider for is not properly taking care of the bills, forcing me to figure it out and complain.

I wasn't even supposed to get these bills, much less bills asking for huge sums of money. My HMO covers basic checkups with a $25 copay.

Anyway, you don't need to know the details. All you need to know is that my hatred for this industry is pure and remains unabated. I will take every opportunity (legal, of course) to undermine and undo them completely.

I will advocate for a single payer system that puts these charlatans out of business. I will advocate for sane billing practices and sensible medical coding so that patients are not erroneously billed for simple checkups and procedures. I will vote for politicians who run on platforms of completely regulating and/or decimating the private health insurance industry.

These goals will change when the health insurance industry cleans up their act and improves their service.

That's democracy. I am an informed consumer and private health insurance gets a solid F grade. I vote against them. You do not have to join me, but I hope you will.

Leave a comment.

Hello Dalai Lama

The DL says all people are equal and valuable. Upper management thinks some people are more equal than others. This is why they often behave arrogantly.

My team used to have a meeting on Thursday mornings. Right before our meeting, some upper managers had a meeting in the same room. They would totally ignore meeting etiquette often running over and cutting into our meeting time by 15 minutes or more, unapologetically. You can bet if the tables were turned, we would have heard about it from upper management.

I was about to give them an earful when it kept happening repeatedly, but my boss saved upper management from my brutality by changing our meeting time to a different day. Upper management was very lucky that time. But they are on notice and I have zero tolerance.

I am also not as peaceful as the DL.

Which Wich - Middleton WI

The first time I had lunch at Which Wich in Middleton WI, I was not terribly impressed. It wasn't bad but it was average.

However, the second time was much better. In part this was because it was less crowded. But the food quality was also better. I got a black bean bowl both times, but the second time it had a lot more food.

For under $8 bucks, it was a good and healthy feast. Approved for my friends and fans.

SNL Cowbell Skit - "I Need More Cowbell!"

It is hard to find the full length SNL "More Cowbell" Skit online.This is pretty good...

Who doesn't need more cowbell.

Everything needs more cowbell.

Your job needs more cowbell. Your significant other needs more cowbell.

There is nothing that more cowbell cannot solve.

Say it with me: I NEED MORE COWBELL!

Boston Terrier Adoption

I adopted a Boston terrier last Christmas. His name is Foster and he lives to please.

I have friends in Oshkosh WI who host foster dogs for the Wisconsin Boston Terrier Rescue.

Foster was one of these dogs, although he did not get his name because of that. After I met him, via my friends, I was in love. He chases tennis balls like crazy and this was one of the things that attracted me to him.

I don't really know how people can give up or abandon these sweet little dogs, with their smooshed in faces. Boston terriers have a friendly and playful disposition and they are remarkably intelligent. People have their reasons, I suppose.

Boston terriers shed very little and they do not require a lot of baths. If you want a small, clean dog that does not shed much, a Boston might be right for you. Foster is very diligent about cleanliness.

When you adopt a Boston terrier from a place like the WBTR, the dog is quite often house trained. This is because they often lived with people before they were given up for adoption, for whatever reason. But even if they need house training, these dogs are eager to please humans and they are fast learners.

Boston terriers live 12 to 5 years and seldom exceed 30 pounds, unless they are a mixed breed.

Foster is 22 pounds and he has this delightfully wavy coat of fur. He loves to snuggle and get attention. But if there is a tennis ball around, that is all he cares about. Sometimes he will try to snatch the ball from your hands, so if you are not careful, you might accidentally get nipped.

Foster's only health problem seems to be excessively long nails with quicks that extend almost all the way to the end. This means they are difficult to clip and sometimes he will crack one when it gets too long, and this is very painful.

So periodically, he needs to go under anesthetic and have his nails cut way back and cauterized. A bit of a hassle, but once cut back, he does not have any problems for weeks or months.

My vet said that Bostons have a tendency to overheat with too much exertion, especially in hot weather. This is because of their smooshed in faces, which shorten their airways, used for cooling.

I never knew much about Bostons and thought they were yippie dogs for the longest time. They can be yippie when excited. Foster can barely contain himself when I get the leash out for walk time. But most of the time, he is mellow and quiet. Lying about or begging for some affection.

Now that I have a Boston, I think they are the best dogs ever. I would highly recommend one as a low maintenance and easy to train family pet. You can check out the WI Boston Terrier Rescue (or the one in your state) if you are interested in finding out more about adopting one. There is a feee associated with adoption, which covers the vet bills and care that the rescue has to conduct before they find a home for the dog.

I highly recommend adopting a Boston terrier rather than getting a puppy. There are far too many dogs that need a loving home out there.

This is Foster. Isn't he cute?

Red Wing Blackbird - A Summary

In Wisconsin, red-winged blackbirds are an indicator that spring has finally come. Redwings in Wisconsin mostly migrate in winter, to warmer southern climes. It is rare to see one in winter in Wisconsin.

When red-winged blackbirds are here, they are ubiquitous along rural roadways, especially in marshy areas where cattails are present. Cattails are their favored nesting ground. You'll see the males with their red and yellow epaulets staking claim to territories and trying to attract mates into their realms.

During the mating season, male redwings defend their territories aggressively from intruders, not just other redwing males, but other birds and even humans. Size does not matter to redwing males. They will chase off birds much larger than them, including raptors. Perhaps you've seen a hawk or a turkey vulture getting hazed by a redwing? It's a spectacle.

The mating behavior of redwings is called "polygynous." Males may mate with and defend up to 10 females that chance through their territories. However, females are known to mate with other males as well and may lay eggs fertilized by multiple males in the same clutch.

Female red-winged blackbirds are relatively bland in color compared with males. Usually just a plain brown with lighter streaks on the underside. They are entirely responsible for building the nests, made of plant material and mud, attached to surrounding vegetation and usually situated above water, which helps reduce predation.

Red-winged blackbirds eat mostly seeds and grains, as well as berries in season, but as much as 25% of their diet can be insects, molluscs, worms, spiders, and even frogs. They will also feed on carrion sometimes.

Their omnivorous diet may explain why red-winged blackbirds do so well and have a vast range in North America (from Alaska down to Mexico and from east to west coasts).

It's probably good that these blackbirds are so populous and successful, because a lot of other animals eat them (especially the eggs and juvenile redwings). Even barn owls, which normally specialize in mammalian prey, will dine on redwings.

Redwings often swarm predators and utter alarm calls when threats are present, to warn other redwings.

16 years is about the longest a red-winged blackbird will live.


Core Incompetencies

Did you ever come into work on a Monday and find that your boss had placed a mind blisteringly gigantic sack of flaming poo on your desk? That happened to me today. It was looking to be a really positive Monday too. It’s not even worth going into, but suffice to say, management does not know what they are doing. It’s sad.

They have this plan for documentation that is ass backwards. I told them as much. They don’t much like hearing from subject matter experts though. I don’t really care. I go to my happy place. If they want to pay me the big bucks just to ignore my input and expertise, OK. Totally fine. I do my part. I speak my mind, for the record. If they think they can do it better another way, I am open to try it.

What I can’t do is say nothing. That would be irresponsible. My team could passive aggressively let them try out their inefficient and cockamamie scheme and not raise any red flags. They would learn their lesson, but it would be too late then to fix it. It is always better to be honest up front. It sucks to tell your boss he is doing it really backwards and inefficiently, but in the end you can always come back afterwards and say “I told you so.” If you say nothing and passively go along with it, you don’t have that backup, and might even be blamed for the failure. Don’t shoot the messenger, I say.

I do what I can. Management always wins, even when it loses.

My boss is actually a bright guy. It is pretty clear upper management is putting the screws to him to implement this new plan. I think he is losing the battle against the incompetence from above.

Upper Management Truly Sucks

My boss is a smart guy. So when his latest cockamamie scheme crossed our transom, we knew it had to have trickled down from the morons in upper management who are clueless and completely out of touch with reality.

Our new CEO asked management to look for ways to streamline processes and simplify the way we do things.

So management, of course, came up with an inefficient and totally cumbersome way to do documentation.

Par for the course.

I Wish We Could Help Them

I play in a band.

It is an awesome band.

It is not an especially musically proficient band, though it is not bad.

But the performances are amazing, and that's the point of this post (the thesis, if you will, and you will!).

The mistake a lot of rock-n-roll bands make is to focus on the music rather than the presentation of the music. Rock-n-roll is not about the music per se. I know that sounds like a strange thing to say. But rock-n-roll is really about the meaning of the music. Rock-n-roll is about sex and partying. Some might say it is about sex and drugs, and that's fine. But drugs are just a proxy for partying in people with poor imaginations. You can say rock-n-roll is about whatever you want. That's not the point. What is the point is that it is NOT about the music. It is about what the music conveys, emotionally. The music is just the medium to convey emotion and excitement and energy.

And that is what many rock musicians overlook. There are a lot of musically awesome bands out there. But often, the music is sterile, because it is focused only on the virtuosity of the musicians and the raw emotion is lost.

Consider cover bands. They are playing other people's songs. They didn't write the songs and more often than not the songs are fairly simplistic musically. You don't have to be a great musician to play in a cover band.

But if you want to be a great cover band, you need to be an awesome entertainer. The music is secondary to the performance and the performance transcends the music and the words. The performance is the raw energy and emotion conveyed by the band. Cover bands play other people's songs, but they spray them with their own love juices and present them in a special way that is unique to the cover band. This presentation is only "good" when it is all there. A cover band that stares at its feet and plays every song note for note like the original is completely boring.

My band knows this. We actually kind of suck at playing covers note for note. We biff a lot. But we present the rock-n-roll in such a way that the biffs are often not even noticed by the audience.

And we have taken it a step farther.

My band has a few basic guidelines.

1. Put on an uber entertaining show.
2. Perform only the most rocking venues.
3. Provide good beer and food, preferably for free.

As you can see, #3 kind of precludes us from playing at most venues that make their money on booze, not bands. These are guidelines, not strict criteria. If the venue is extraordinarily rocking (#2), we are OK with not having free beer, but it still has to be good beer. That is why we sometimes play Capital Brewery in Middleton WI. It's just designed for a killer rock show and the people there want to party.

But more often than not, we host our own house party shows, which allow us to hit all three criteria. We set the date and the venue is usually someone's house. We ask that everyone bring some food or some beer to share, as the price of admission. No money changes hands. We have a low volume stage setup that involves electronic drums to control volume. Loud rock-n-roll is not a substitute for energetic rock-n-roll, another mistake many bands make.

We throw down an incredibly theatrical and entertaining performance and it is augmented by the fact that people come to house parties to party and have a good time with friends. It is a captive audience custom tailored to having maximum fun. Sad, boring, unhappy, depressed people typically do not come to house parties. There is too much happiness at house parties. These people tend to go to dark and gloomy dive bars to drown their sorrows with booze, and more often than not, if there is a band at one of these sorry venues, it is more of an annoyance than a benefit to the sad sacks patronizing the place.

So my band rarely plays bars. We do parties and festivals and sometimes benefits for a good cause. All of the latter venues exude positivity and fun, and that is what our band does too, so it is a match made in heaven and there is a powerful synergy between band and audience. It blows minds.

Lockdown is the New Normal

Yesterday, portions of Madison WI were locked down as the FBI pursued an ex-convict in violation of his parole.

The social media exploded with accusations that this fellow had just murdered someone in Chicago and was on the run. He was described as armed and dangerous. Schools and businesses were locked down with no one allowed to enter or exit.

But according to the WI State Journal article on the event this morning, it was way overblown.

The man had simply violated his parole for a robbery and battery conviction by coming to WI (from IL) to visit relatives. That’s it.

So is this the new normal? Lockdown entire communities to manhunt minor parole violators?

Object. This is not freedom. I call bullshit on that.