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Need some puppy love?

Ariel, Bruno, Brownie and several other adorable, sweet puppies are looking for homes at the Wisconsin Humane Society! All dogs are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. All adopters also go home with an adoption handbook to help their companions make a smooth transition. Interested in adopting a puppy?  We also offer several excellent training classes and seminars based on positive reinforcement.

Not ready to keep up with the energy of a young pup?  Meet Bella, a sweet 4-year-old Beagle who has eyes that melt your heart, or Zoe, a 6-year-old Chihuahua who would love to curl up on the couch with you and a good movie.  There are also other wonderful adult dogs, cats and small animals looking for great homes.

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Perspective. Get low

Just about any sports photo will look better the lower you, as the photographer, are to the ground. It's all about perspective. Any vertical movement by an athlete will be accentuated the lower your camera is to the ground. A good sprinter's feet will both be off the ground at the same time during his stride, but from eye height that's just not visible. The sprinter's feet are only a couple of inches off the running deck and from eye level that's just not readily visible, but with the camera on the ground/floor that little two inches of flight looks much more pronounced. Add in a determined and straining game face and it's makes for a dramatic photograph.

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There is a progression in the minds of men: first the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and then it becomes an orthodoxy whose truth seems so obvious that no one remembers thinking any differently. By the time the water in the pot starts boiling, the frog is dead.

 Some 18 years ago at a political luncheon I posited the serious possibility that one day the government would ban SUV’s and tell you what type of cars you had to buy. I was laughed at, diagnosed as extreme, and it was suggested I stop listening to Mark Belling on the radio. One of the liberals in the group – a Clinton supporter at the time – mocked my comment by suggesting that I would next claim the government would one day also tell us what color of car to buy. Everybody laughed at the absurdity of the comment, including me. The very next year a non-profit organization named Coalition For Vehicle Choice was founded. The name alone ought to bring a chill to the spine of every lover of freedom.

 Even the unthinkable has now become thinkable. In California, the government has recently proposed legislation to outlaw incorrect colors on your automobiles. Gone is basic black, with all dark hues waiting in the on-deck circle. I wonder if my Clinton friend is laughing now.

 When do all television sets just eventually default to the Obama channel? Two weeks ago during the Supreme Leader’s all-channel press conference Obama unveiled how the government will begin it’s creep into your homes. In a rare off-prompter moment he said:

 We could, um, set up systems so that everybody in each, uhh, house have their own smart meters that, uhh, will tell you when to turn off the lights, when the peak hours are, can help you sell back energy, uh, that you've generated in your home through a solar panel or through, uh, eh, other mechanisms.

 This is, of course, the prelude for never having to set your own thermostat. The government will do that for you [polite laughter by my Clinton friend at such an extreme and absurd suggestion by the editorialist]. The next thing Gary will suggest is that the government is going to send up spy planes to take infra-red pictures of your home and put them on the internet to show the world how much energy you are wasting. Oh wait, that’s already been done in the U.K.

 Big Brother is knocking on our front door. The grim but unthinkable picture of Western society that George Orwell drew for us 50 years ago has become quite thinkable and increasingly orthodox. We laughed then at the absurd mental picture of Big Brother, his face, stern yet somehow compassionate, gazing down from every wall upon a thoroughly browbeaten and helpless populace – reticent under threat of repercussions from uttering politically incorrect speech. The nation is held together by a chilling fear - the Thought Police prowl the streets, censoring and removing from the radio waves talk show hosts harboring dangerous ideas; children are indoctrinated in the universities and spy on their parents, reporting suspicious conduct to the authorities. Party members pass laws they didn’t read and spend money they don’t have, as directives blare at the citizenry from the television screen. It’s beginning to sound a little less absurd, isn’t it?

 American political life is a constant struggle between tyranny and anarchy. Too much government control and we have tyranny; too little and we face anarchy.

 Tyranny inevitably has its beginnings out of a sense of the oneness of community, a noble belief in mutual responsibility for helping the “least of these”, and a faith that our governmental institutions and elected leaders can, if given enough power and support, construct a strong and just society. It becomes inevitable when Armageddon-like natural disaster hoaxes, class warfare, socialist notions that one person shouldn’t make more money or live in a bigger house than another, and the demonification of the Christian traditions and free market capitalism on which this country was founded rule the political day. The audacity of false hope and the encouragement of Americans to ask what their country can do for or give to them, lead not only to tyranny, but to statism, a war on success, and the complete destruction of the American way of life.

 19th Century French historian Alexis de Toqueville described what we are witnessing in America today - a soft tyrrany which becomes increasingly more oppressive and eventually transforms into totalitarianism. Because we are born into a freedom which permeates our daily life, we take it for granted and do not notice its gradual disappearance.

 Anarchy, on the other hand, has its beginnings in a blind passion for liberty at all costs, trickle-down progress, and a hope of success-through-freedom which can easily degenerate into a distrust of all authority and a society of dog-eat-dog individualism. It becomes inevitable when even the most benign regulation or government mandate is viewed as an abuse of government and an unconstitutional violation of our right to be free from confining laws and regulations.  

 Political parties may differ on the size of government but they must agree that we need balance in our society. In my humble opinion, we we are wildly out of balance. From a complicit liberal media to Obama-supporting children posting their conservative parents’ names and addresses on the Obama Forum, we are perilously close to the Orwellian world which seemed so unthinkable 50 short years ago.

The government has developed technology to use cell phones as bugs, using the phones’ microphones to listen in, even when the telephone is turned off. Bombarded by messages of negativity and economic doom from our leaders, Americans remain either blithely ignorant or ignorantly supportive of a mammoth new bureaucracy – the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, which will now monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what Big Brother deems “appropriate and cost effective” and urges seniors to “accept conditions that come with age.” There will also be a new Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research modeled after a U.K. board that divides the cost of treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Now we’re talking Logan’s Run and Soylent Green. Assisted suicide and euthanasia are here – by choice today, perhaps without a choice tomorrow.  

The Orwellian warning is one that many Americans are not in the mood to hear. Statesmen must find balance and a way to bridge the gap between the noble impulses of both community and freedom. Politicians need to craft a happy medium between altruism and liberty – and being in the majority shouldn’t give either political party a license to throw the other into the dumpster of history. I believe we’ve long ago crossed the line of mutual responsibility and are well on our way to tyrannical centralization. Emerson's notion that man should stand erect, go alone, and possess the universe, is, of course, a long way from the Orwellian society we are becoming. It seems the universe may soon possess us.

Weed Out! Rooted in You! Volunteer Opportunity!

Family, Group, Invasive, Milwaukee County Park, Volunteer, Weed Out, Youth

LogoThe Park People Spring Weed Out focuses on the removal of Garlic Mustard, an especially aggressive weed that is native to Europe. Since its introduction into our ecosystem, Garlic Mustard has spread at an alarming rate and has been displacing native woodland vegetation. It is imperative that Garlic Mustard is controlled in the Milwaukee County Parks before it causes long term degradation to our public green spaces.

Throughout May Garlic Mustard is an easy pull for volunteers of all ages. This is a great opportunity for families to volunteer together. This is much more than pulling weeds. The volunteers are surrounded by positive people that live and work in our community. Our volunteers truly care about our city, our environment and enjoy teaching and working with youth.

There are multiple Weed Out opportunities available throughout the county.

To learn more about Garlic Mustard here are a few links
Garlic Mustard Identification and Control A short, well produced video
Wisconsin DNR Fact sheet on Garlic Mustard

Below are the specific dates and locations.
The Weed-Outs do not take place at the Park People office located on N. Farwell.

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History made

I've read that photojournalists are witnesses to history, but I disagree. We are all witnesses to history, I just get paid to photograph it as it happens. 

This past week history was made in the field house of West Allis Central High School as Wauwatosa East's Hannah Weinberg-Kinsey cleared 5 feet 5 inches in the high jump event of her team's Greater Metro Conference track and field meet, breaking the old conference record of 5 feet 4 inches.

It was my second day in the Central field house after covering the boys GMC meet the day before and I was there to cover six schools, one of which was Tosa East.

Let me back up for a second and tell you my thoughts on covering track and field. I love to photograph track meets - period. There is just so much going on and so many different opportunities to make photos it's impossible to get bored, the access is great, and I don't have to worry about a sliced golf ball hitting me in the head.

That said, indoor track is a challenge from a technical point of view. The light, or lack there of, pushes my cameras ability to to both record the action and stop what ever motion there is to the stops. It's dark and people are moving fast, two things that never work together to make a good photo. 3200ASA f/2.8 at a 1/320th of a second dark. That's when the light is reflecting off faces, not the shadows.

To maximize my chances of making photos I tend to concentrate on the high jump and pole vault field events while covering indoor track. In the pole vault event the athletes are 9 feet closer to the lights and because of that I can raise my shutter speed to 1/500th of a second, thus upping my chances of stopping and motion. In the high jump event the competitors go over the bar with their faces facing right at the lights - lending me a hand as the light reflects off any exposed skin, again making my job easier.

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The Queen of Spices

You have patiently waited several weeks to determine what the queen of spice is!  Well, here is the answer: Cardamom! This spice, also referred to as the “Grains of Paradise”, is known to man since ancient times. In India some people even carry tiny silver boxes of cardamom seeds as a mouth freshener. After dinner cardamom is chewed to clean the palate. Cardamom adds an appealing flavor to foods and aids in digestion.

There are many varieties of cardamom, the true one being the green cardamom. Indian rice and vegetable dishes, desserts and Indian tea (known as Chai) are often flavored with cardamom. A cardamom pod is really a dried fruit. Cardamom pods are all oval shaped capsules containing between 10 to 40 hard dark brown seeds that cling together. Cardamom is available in the form of whole pods and in powder form. (Grind the seeds from the pods in a small food processor to make cardamom powder.)  Store cardamom in a clean, dry jar.

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Controlling the sun

This past week I had an assignment to make a portrait of an athlete for a story one of our sports reporters is doing. I really don't like these jobs because they involve making an interesting photograph of someone to illustrate a story about a very active person -- the best baseball player of the year is an annual example -- but in this case my subject was in injured athlete.

The idea is that my photograph will somehow match the reporters story in tone and flavor, so a very happy looking subject in a photograph that will run with a story about a young lady who suffered a concussion and had her athletic career cut short would make no sense. Thus I have to make a moody/somber looking portrait of my subject which usually involves deep shadows and a somber/serious facial expression. 

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I watched several talking heads this past weekend expound in two areas that I felt crossed the line in presenting opinion versus fact. First there was a discussion regarding the release of the CIA memoranda concerning interrogation techniques used in the past against captured terrorists to extract information that allegedly kept our country safe from another 9/11 attack. Whether that is true is hard to confirm but we do know that there were no post 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. We do know that these aggressive techniques, including water boarding, have not been used since 2003.

Now, President Obama has decreed that these memos be made public over the serious objection of the current CIA Director Leon Panetta and four of his immediate predecessors. The rationale expounded by the talking heads supporting the President’s decision went along these lines.

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Feasting for Fido!

In celebration of our 130th Anniversary, the Wisconsin Humane Society is thrilled to announce Feasting for Fido. This fun evening on Thursday, July 16, 2009, will include restaurant tastings of creative cuisine, inspiring wines, locally-crafted beer, festive music and a silent auction. Learn more and get your tickets now !

Lola's smile is contagious

Lola's smile is contagious and so is her enthusiasm for life!  This happy-go-lucky girl enjoys the outdoors, long walks on the beach and playing frisbee on a summer day.  Her unique pattern of markings is very distinctive, and she has the most gorgeous brown eyes.

Lola is a 1 year old St. Bernard/Australian Shepherd mix who is looking for an active family or guardian who would enjoy teaching Lola new tricks and skills. She LOVES to learn and is a very smart student. 

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