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UPDATE: These four have been adopted, but keep checking the site.  We are closed on Mondays, but check back every day to see the new pups available for adoption.

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As the political campaigns heat up, the foremost message seems to be that all of us voters are in the grips of the "special interests" and that their vice-like hold will be broken if we just vote for the "right" candidate. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been wondering about whom all these "special interests" really are and how do they control the country?

The conclusion which I reached, and on which I will expand is best reflected in a take-off from that famous comic strip philosopher, Pogo: "We have met the "special interests" and they is us!"

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What's Up With The English Language?

We’re all guilty of it. Shouting into the telephone when asked to press “2” for English or listening to the bus boys banter back and forth in Spanish or Mandarin and wondering why they just don’t learn to speak English. After all, this is America! Of course, we also get annoyed when traveling abroad and the desk clerk doesn’t understand our request for an extra pillow. The language we know and love is neither the easiest nor the hardest language to acquire, but it must be one of the most quirky and nuanced.

They say that Chinese is a difficult language to learn, but I’m not so sure.  After all, the phrase "怎么可以这样的措辞加以学习" can only mean one thing. How difficult can it be? Instead of agonizing letters, they use stick men. But here’s the rub: there are 47,035 such stick men in the Kangxi dictionary – we only have 26 letters and after parties we have a hard time reciting even those. I’d hate to see the Chinese eye chart.

They say that Polish is harder still to learn. With seven cases, seven genders and very difficult pronunciation, the average English speaker is fluent at about the age 12, while it takes the Poles until about age 16. Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian are also very difficult to learn, each with countless noun cases.

On the other hand, I am told that English at the basic level is relatively easy, but to speak it like a native is quite difficult because of the “dynamic idiomatic nature”. That is the understatement of the year.

Simple English sentences might stop a non-native speaker in his or her tracks:

 The bandage was wound around the wound so he could produce produce.
 He decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
 There is no time like the present, so he decided to present the present.

English can be strange. For example, there is no egg in eggplant, no ham in hamburger, and neither apple nor pine in a pineapple. English muffins don’t come from England nor french fries from France. Quicksand works slowly and boxing rings are square. My sons’ guinea pig is not a pig and not from Guinea. 

As a writer I write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham. The plural of tooth is teeth, but if I have more than one booth do I have beeth? It the plural of mouse is mice, should there be three blind meese? Does a homebuilder build hice?

When I offend somebody with my editorials, I can make amends, but I can’t make just one amend. In my Lutheran grade school teachers taught so I guess the preacher praught? It’s enough to make your head spin.
 Why do my kids recite at a play but play at a recital? We ship by truck yet send cargo by ship. Our noses run and our feet smell. How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same thing? How can the weather be “hot as hell” one day and “cold as hell” the next – and the temperatures be vastly different?  It makes no sense.

Christian Science is neither Christian nor science. We go “up north” to Rhinelander in the summer and “down south” to Florida in the winter, but never “left west” or “right east”. What kind of a language is it where flammable and inflammable mean exactly the same thing?

A lactose intolerant immigrant would probably avoid ordering head cheese, but he wouldn’t have to – it contains no cheese. He could also enjoy the “cream of the crop”, as there is no such thing as a crop of milk.

When the stars are out they are visible, but when the lights go out, they are invisible. We fill in a form by filling it out, and an alarm clock goes off by going on. Huh?

English is a crazy language, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other language in the world. It is not exact, and was not created perfectly by a computer. It reflects the creativity of the human race – which of course, is not a race at all. Otherwise, not wanting to be in crowds would make you a racist.  And if a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

In a country inundated with political correctness, I wonder how we end up (as opposed to “down”) with idioms which used to be ethnic slurs but have now become appropriate, such as “welshing on your debts”, “Indian-giver”, “Chinese fire drill”, or “he tried to gyp me”?

We get dressed to go “out” shopping, but to do so we must go “in” to town. Going uptown means going to the upper part of town so what does going downtown mean? The downer part? The dictionary says downtown is the middle part of the city, but isn’t that “midtown”? Some say “uptown” isn’t really geographical, but refers to the ritzy part of town. To go there you not only need to be dressed, but “dressed up”. If you’re not, some haute couture critic will verbally “dress you down”. I could really go to town about all these confusing idioms and expressions!

Speaking of “up”, it seems one of the smallest words in our language has by far the most meanings. We all know what it means, so how can waking in the morning be “waking up”? Why do we speak “up” when somebody can’t hear us and why are politicians “up” for re-election? Why do kids say they”re “down” for something when they want to do it – but they really mean they’re “up” for it? Why is it “up” to a policeman to write “up” a report when you’re mixed “up” in an accident? We call up our friends. We brighten up a room. We clean up the kitchen after we’ve warmed up the leftovers. We lock up the house and some of us fix up old cars. What’s up with that?

We hang up the phone by putting it down. When you’re mixed up you’re confused, but when you understand something, you’ve got it down. We can stir up trouble, line up for for a movie, and work up an appetite in the process. But why would we open up a drain? Because it is stopped up? Or because nothing goes down? The confusion over this word needs to be cleared up. When it is about to rain it is clouding up, and after the rain the weather clears up, and things dry up.

To clear things up perhaps we should look the word up in the dictionary. We would then find that it takes up nearly a whole page. It took up a lot of my time to come up with lots of confusing uses of this word, but I didn’t give up. I could come up with even more, but I think you’re probably getting fed up.

I could go on, but I’ll wrap it up. My time is up. I’ll shut up.   

Hiring a Marketing Firm: Your Rights Under the Inventor’s Protection Act

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Joint Meeting of the Mequon and West Bend Inventors Clubs
Brook Stevens Design in Grafton, WI  
June 17, 2008

"Finding Funds to Bring an Invention to Market"

Dan Steininger "Ten Commandments of Venture Capital" 
Dylan Morgan "Finding Funds to Fill a Purchase Order"    

Location: Brook Stevens Design
Brook Stevens
Wisconsin Offices
860 Badger Circle
Grafton, WI  53024
Click here for directions. 

Visit our Inventor's Club Homepage at

Hiring a Marketing Firm: Your Rights Under the Inventor’s Protection Act
By Jill Gilbert Welytok

Friday May 9, 2008

 If you’re an inventor with a promising idea where do you turn?  Many companies may offer to help you patent and market your invention.  They sound very enthusiastic about your idea.  It is tempting to hire an “experienced” company to get a patent, a prototype and do “everything” you need.  Especially when the company all but promises to land you a lucrative licensing deal for your invention.  Unfortunately, many aspiring inventors fall prey to consulting companies that charge large fees but don’t make a profit for anyone other than themselves. In 1999, Congress took action against invention promotion firms and enacted the American Inventor’s Protection Act.  

What the American Inventor’s Protection Act  requires

Under this law, invention marketing firms must disclose:

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Volunteer to Assist in Removing Invasive Weeds from Our Parks


“Citizen Stewardship of Our Milwaukee County Parks”.  That’s our mission statement; a nice concise phrase packing a lot of meaning in a few words. Stewardship means different things to different people, but one meaning is maintaining the health of our neighborhood parks - something that can not be accomplished by our dedicated park workers alone. That’s where you come in!

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ELECT or APPOINT? – The Supreme Court Brouhaha

The Butler/Gableman election may be over but the debate has just begun. Shall we support changing the process so that our Supreme Court judges are henceforth appointed and their elections abolished? Everybody is welcome to chime in with most of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday’s Crossroad section dedicated to the discussion. In addition, earlier in the week, the paper’s columnist, Eugene Kane, pitched in with the thought that Judge Butler did retain his integrity in a nasty campaign.

Mr. Kane and I conducted an E-mail debate over that contention.  My point was that Judge Butler’s integrity could be called into question when he accepted Governor Doyle’s appointment to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He had previously lost a contested 2000 election for that same seat to Judge Diane Sykes by a substantial margin. Certainly he knew that his liberal judicial philosophy differed by a substantive margin from Judge Sykes’s conservative judicial philosophy – and that the election result left no doubt which judicial philosophy the electorate supported.

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ADOPTED! Furry Olympian Seeking Coach

Meet Mae.  She's the kind of girl willing to throw all caution against the wind and propel herself through the air, across the room and into unknown territory simply to catch that sneaky catnip mouse.  Mae is also a very lovely feline with round emerald eyes and a dense tiger-striped coat.  She's a healthy weight and maintains her figure by practicing gymnastics. 

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UPDATE! Adopted...Yellow Dog, Heart of Gold

Mario met his match and went home last weekend with a great family!

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Mark Twain was quoted "Never pick a fight with a man who buys his ink by the barrel." I ignored this excellent advice the last few weeks. First, debating with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane by E-mail, over whether Judge Louis Butler would have better preserved his integrity by declining Governor Doyle’s appointment to the State Supreme Court after losing his first election against Judge Diane Sykes by a substantial margin. Anyone interested in more detail on this subject is referred to my previous blog.

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ADOPTED! Amelia the Gentle Giant

You may not be able to tell from her photos, but Amelia is nearly 100 lbs... of pure love!  She's what dog people call a "leaner," a dog who loves to brush up against you and lean into your body, wanting to be as close to you as possible.  Amelia loves to be cuddled, brushed, nuzzled and given belly rubs.  At 3.5 years old, this Labrador Retriever/American Pit Bull Terrier prefers praise over toys and slow walks over triathalons.  She likes to play with the occasional plush toy but isn't very fond of fetching or aerobic exercise. 

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