Friday, April 29, 2005

in like a fool, out like a tool

i'm finding it really hard to compose this post when i know there are homemade oatmeal raisin cookies down the hall. i might not like the ice cream, no matter how hard todd bribes me with free massage sweepstakes information, but i do love those cookies.

but it's time to take a quick look back at the major news story of april -- no, not jonathan's birthday-- the great ms. wheelchair wisconsin debate.
Published: April 01, 2005 10:35 AM ET
Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin has been stripped of her title because pageant officials say she can stand -- and they point to a newspaper picture as proof. Janeal Lee, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a scooter, was snapped by The Post-Crescent of Appleton standing among her high-school math students.

"I've been made to feel as if I can't represent the disabled citizens of Wisconsin because I'm not disabled enough," Lee said Thursday. Lee, 30, of Appleton, had planned to go to the national pageant with her younger sister, who also has muscular dystrophy and won the competition in Minnesota.

Students at Kaukauna High School, where Lee teaches, raised $1,000 for her trip to the national pageant. The move by the state pageant officials, led by coordinator Gina Hackel, is supported by the national board.

Candidates for the crown have to "mostly be seen in the public using their wheelchairs or scooters," said Judy Hoit, Ms. Wheelchair America's treasurer. "Otherwise you've got women who are in their wheelchairs all the time and they get offended if they see someone standing up. We can't have title holders out there walking when they're seen in the public." Hackel said Lee should have been aware of the rules.

The crown now goes to first runner-up Michelle Kearney of Milwaukee, who will travel to New York.
after a month of media attention,

The Kaukauna teacher who had her Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin title stripped away from her has a new honor -- Miss Disability International. Janeal Lee is the charter titleholder of a new competition the World Association of Persons With Disabilities is launching. A group official said the association is focusing on abilities.

hmm. anything i'd have to add to this conversation would probably make me feel a tool. for example, i'd like to point out that i was a little surprised by the lack of people-first language in the articles on this story, i.e. "people with disabilities" versus "disabled"...and nowadays i tend to just say "people with different abilities" because some of those different abilities--like being able to roll yourself around in a chair--have led to inventions and accomodations that have benefited all of us, like curb cutaways! see, i am a tool.

want to know if you're a tool too?! take the wisconsin media review quiz:

1. Wisconsin attracted national attention and became the butt of jokes because of a controversial proposal to legalize the shooting of these wild, free-roaming mammals, estimated at a million-plus statewide.

2. The University of Wisconsin held a daylong celebration for this 4.4 billion-year-old object. Under the watchful eyes of a police guard, spectators used a microscope to inspect the guest of honor, which measures less than two human hairs in diameter.

3. What have thieves been making off with in Portage and Waushara counties? Hint: They are sometimes used to make jewelry, watchbands and belts.

4. This Wisconsin Democrat, who has made a name for himself nationally and is often mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2008, announced his plans to divorce his wife of 14 years.

5. Judge Scott Woldt ordered an Appleton woman convicted of theft to make a heart-rending decision: Either spend 90 days in jail or donate this to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation as part of her overall two-year period of probation.

6. One was spotted near the Manitowoc-Sheboygan county line, one in Cedarburg and yet another was nabbed in Wauwatosa, miles away from their natural Wisconsin habitat.

7. Why did Janeal Lee, a 30-year-old Kaukauna high school teacher with muscular dystrophy, have her title as “ Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin” taken away from her?

8. Wisconsin school districts took five of the top 10 spots in Expansion Management magazine’s 2005 rankings, “Best Metro Areas for Overall Quality of Public Schools.” The monthly magazine, which looked at 362 metropolitan areas, targets executives that are actively looking for a place to expand or relocate their companies. What district ranked second best in the nation behind State College, Pa.?

9. Why did “Late Night with David Letterman,” “Good Morning America” and at least 20 radio stations interview University of Wisconsin-Whitewater student Johnny Lechner in April?

10. After a 15-hour standoff at his home on French Island near La Crosse, a man who had shot his neighbor in the shoulder surrendered to police. What did they find in his freezer?

if you bothered to read upside down, YOU ARE A TOOL!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

quandairy - we all scream

it seemed to me that everyone had ice cream on the brain today. three different coworkers left the office in search of it (granted, i work with middle-aged women so it's not that unusual), and then, bananners and i were sitting there after lunch contemplating our unsatisfied hunger and our conversation went a little like this:
bananners: i'm still hungry.
me: me too. i am kinda in the mood for ice cream.
bananners: ice cream good mmm...
me: good yeah mmm. there's that stone cold creamery place i suppose.
bananners (making face): it's not very good, it's overpriced.
me: yeah, i heard that.
bananners: yeah.
me: too bad that ben & jerry's on chicago closed. it closed, right?
bananners: yeah.

me: too bad.
bananners: it closed a long time ago.

me: too bad.
imagine my surprise when i returned to my desk to find the following email from todd the bod:
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 11:55:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Scream
To: "gwendolyn p."

> If ya didn't know, today is free scoop day at Ben and
> Jerry's.
> I recommend Oatmeal Cookie. I know what you're
> thinking: "I don't really like oatmeal cookies. And
> 'cinnamon ice cream' doesnt sound that good." Well
> stop listening to your brain and start listening to
> ME. Get it.
> todd
> --
todd does not tell a lie (though he'll obnoxiously correct your spelling of the word "quandary" at the drop of a hat)--april 19th is free scoops day 2005, the 27th annual free cone day to be exact. did you notice how he mentioned the brain and ice cream?

his essay alludes to the clearly misguided notion that the consumption of ice cream, and one might presume that misconception encompasses all dairy products, is somehow in conflict with the exercising of intellectual powers. we must work to overcome these assumptions, as time and time again a direct link between a diet high in dairy and superior intelligence has clearly been demonstrated, or has it...
We didn't find any Web pages matching the following criteria:
  • Containing this query term: "dairy and intelligence"
Suggestions:- Check your spelling.
- Try more general words.
- Try different words that mean the same thing.
- Broaden your search by using fewer words.

but i digress, the point of today's post is that everyone was thinking about ice cream, and while some people might note that it was the first warm day in awhile, i've got my own theories. and sadly yesterday the owner of the first dairy queen in wisconsin passed away.
APPLETON — Merlin Liebzeit of Appleton, the owner of the first Dairy Queen in Wisconsin, died Monday. He was 84.

He opened the state’s first Dairy Queen June 4, 1950, at 2000 S. Oneida St. in Appleton. Liebzeit’s second Dairy Queen, on N. Richmond Street, opened Aug. 29, 1953. Nationally, the first Dairy Queen opened in Joliet, Ill., in 1940. Liebzeit is survived by his wife, Erna, two sons and two daughters. His son Steven continues to run the Dairy Queens in Appleton.
merlin! how magical and how tragic, but i think a little bit of his passion was released into the ether and perhaps we're all a little bit sweeter today for it. may he rest in peace, and i'll be pouring out a melted quart for him tonight.

i can only take heart that we have the next generation to look to as beacons of light in these seemingly dark times. the torch will burn bright.

Friday, April 15, 2005

the cat takes the cheese

dear readers, you do know that it's actually the rat that takes the cheese (after the farmer takes a wife, the wife takes a child, the child a nurse, the nurse a cow, the cow a dog, the dog a cat and so on and so forth until the cheese stands alone, seriously check it out on am i right - misheard lyrics, and that's derry-o, not a dairy-o)? well, a similar game of telephone has been playing out in the media this week.

everyone is up in arms about how wisconsinites want to shoot cats. while i'll not begrudge the animal activists using this as a springboard to raise awareness on the issues, can we please take a moment to remember what the news (as opposed to the numerous op/ed pieces it spawned) story actually says. notably:

Outdoor enthusiasts approved the proposal 6,830 to 5,201 at Monday's spring hearings of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, a citizens' advisory group. The results, released Tuesday by the state, get forwarded to the Natural Resources Board for its consideration. Ultimately, though, any measure would have to be passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jim Doyle.

Two state senators -- Scott Fitzgerald and Neil Kedzie -- are promising they'll do everything they can to keep the plan from becoming law. Kedzie, who chairs the Natural Resources and Transportation Committee, called the issue "a distraction from the main tasks we have at hand."

"I don't see a whole lot of momentum for it," Kedzie said. "It's not the responsibility of the DNR to regulate cats." Fitzgerald, co-chairman of the Legislature's powerful Joint Finance Committee, said he will "work against any proposed legislation to legalize the shooting of feral cats."

At least two other upper Midwestern states, South Dakota and Minnesota, allow wild cats to be shot -- and have for decades.

futilely, the original AP release even included a quote by Gov. Jim Doyle:
"I don't think Wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats," said Doyle, a Democrat who neither hunts nor owns a cat. "What it does is sort of hold us up as a state that everybody is kind of laughing at right now."
thanks to Mikey Ivey for reporting
on the coverage of this story in the national media, and to Tom Still for his efforts. even if he isn't a famous art director and set designer, i appreciate his attempts to set the stage:
Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, recently bemoaned the state's national reputation for weirdness.

"Once again, Wisconsin is being portrayed in the national news as the Land of the Odd," he said, bringing up recent stories about the mass killings in a Brookfield motel doubling as a church and the confused kangaroo found huddling in a dairy barn in the dead of winter.

Still said he dreams of the day when the national press will focus on the state's SAT scores, its recent job creation success or the beauty of the Wisconsin outdoors - rather than "the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field" and over-served Packer fans sporting plastic cheeseheads.

amen. now for something really juicy! be sure to check out the video footage.