Sunday, July 30, 2006

Reassessed II

No luck on trying to get our properts assessment down.

I spoke with the assessor's office on Friday. The average increase for this neighborhood from 2002 to 2006 was 49 %. Ours only went up 44%, so I suppose I should consider myself lucky. Wauwatosa used to reassess every eight years, but now will do it every four.

The City tax rate should drop significantly. However, the portion that the State, County and school district takes probably won't change. We will see how much more we will contribute.

Friday, July 28, 2006

University of Wisconsin, ChE 424 Summer Lab, 1985

Here is my Summer Lab group from 1985. Sue Cotey (front row, mugging for the camera) was my lab partner. I worked with Jeff Schilling for a while at American Biosynthetics in Milwaukee.

Who'd have thought that this would be on line. You gotta love the internet.

Here is my niece, Josienne Piette, in her Summer Lab, Session 2, 2003.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Backyard Biodiversity

In 1994 my sister Abbie redesigned our yard to include all sorts of bushes and trees to attract birds. We have great soil so everything really took off. We have six birdfeeders up and get a lot of birds.

I used the same landscaping company (All Seasons Landscape, Wauwatosa, WI) to do our yard work: aerating, fertilizing & weeding, Spring & Fall cleanup. Our grass looked great. However, it was like a grass desert. We didn’t have any birds that ate insects because we didn’t have any insects. No biodiversity at all. Just grass.

A few years back I stopped having them apply any herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizer. It has taken a while, but our yard has healed itself nicely.

We now regularly have grackles, robins, butterflies, bees, moths and a whole host of other plants and insects. Some may call them weeds, but to me they are the signs of a healthy ecosystem.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


The City of Wauwatosa has reassessed our house. The last reassessment was in 2002. Our new assessment is up 45%! That would be great were we planning on selling, but we’re not.

Our taxes won’t increase that much since the City estimated the ‘Fair Market Value’ annually and increases the taxes accordingly. I’m guessing that our taxes will go you about $750/year.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Da Vinci Code movie

Last Sunday, 16 July 2006, in an effort to escape the heat we went to see the movie The DaVinci Code. It disappointed. The movie was too long, uninteresting, and the movie house was too warm.

Despite the movie being pretty long (and it really dragged at points) it would be difficult to follow if you didn’t read the book. For instance, what was the deal with the banker? Who was he and what’s with the ‘escape clause’?

The character of Tiebing was different than the book. In the movie he came across as more of a misguided good guy who wanted to right the wrongs of the Church more than anything else.

The normally solid Tom Hanks’s performance was flat. He just didn’t seem to engaged in the whole deal. I liked the guy who played Fache, though. He had the lead in The Professional, an altogether more enjoyable movie

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Liberals Sneaking Into Canada

Manitoba Herald, Canada

The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The actions of President Bush are prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray, and agree with Bill O'Reilly.

Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.
"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. "He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left. Didn't even get a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields. "Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn't give milk."

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves.

"A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. "They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."

When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the Bush administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races.

In recent days, liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers on Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney hits to prove they were alive in the '50s.

"If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age," an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies. "I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"

In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals, a source close to Cheney said. We're going to have some Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might put some endangered species on postage stamps. The President is determined to reach out," he said.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Auto insurance

I got an insurance quotation from Geico, on Dan's recommendation as he got a much lower rate. For identical coverage, Geico was $25/mo, or 22% less, than what I am currently paying.

I believe that I will switch when it comes due in October.

Monday, July 10, 2006

My Uncle Pete

My Uncle Pete de Gravlles Jr died this past Saturday, 8 July 2006. Here is his obit.

France blew it

France blew it. They played a better game than Italy, but what in the world was Zidane thinking with that head-butt? That's what he'll be remembered for.

Oh, well. South Africa 2010!

Sunday, July 09, 2006