Another pot-luck entry: The break-up, Temperatures, and The elusive white whale

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Strap-in folks, this is going to be one heckuva long entry - don't say I didn't warn you.

Story 1: The Bitter Break-up

They say that all good things must come to an end - be it a meal, a vacation, or in some instances, a relationship. And, sadly, I must report the end of what was at one time a very beautiful relationship - my love affair with the Tyranena Brewery.

Yes friends, I've officially "broken-up" with that infamous Lake Mills microbrewery. After the events that unfolded last night, I've vowed to never patronize their location, never purchase any of their beverages (be it from the brewery, a bar, or the grocery store), rid myself of all Tyranena-branded clothing, and never participate in another one of their events.

Why? What happened? I believe that I, along with many other folks, were effectively cheated on by the brewery. Here's how the story goes.

The brewery has what's known as a "mug club" that is a fairly exclusive "club" with some cool benefits. Members of the mug club purchase a limited-edition, hand-made, ceramic mug for $50 from the brewery, and for the period of one year, can enjoy $4 refills from the brewery via their personalized mug. Your mug stays at the brewery, and any time you come in for a beverage, they grab your mug, fill it with your beverage of preference, and you get about 1.5 pints for $4. When you're done, they wash it and return it to storage. At the end of the year, you get to keep your mug, and you're given a 1-day window/opportunity to renew your membership for the next year by purchasing another $50 mug (new design and all of that fun stuff).

It's a pretty exclusive club, as I've mentioned. So much so, in fact, that they hold a lottery drawing for the few available slots that open up each year. To enter the lottery, you must travel to the brewery and officially enter your name into the drawing. This "registration period" opens on Thanksgiving and closes on New Year's Eve. You're allowed to register yourself once per day, and you must do so in person - you can't have someone else register you; can't do it online; etc.

When I learned of this club, I decided to register. So, I made many, many, many special trips to Lake Mills for the sole purpose of registering my name as many times as possible. All told, I believe I registered nearly 20 times between Thanksgiving and New Year's. And, it's not a short trip for me to travel to the brewery - roundtrip, it totals at just under 100 miles. That's nearly 2,000 miles that I put on, all with the hope of having a fair shot at gaining entry into this club.

Complicating matters even more, the brewery holds the club drawing on a Saturday night in January, and you must be present at the moment they call your name, or you lose your opportunity. The drawing was held on January 8, 2011 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. There were 9 slots available, and they drew the names approximately once per hour, on the hour.

Sounds like a fair system, eh? The more often you go to the brewery, the better your odds. And, since the names were to be drawn "at random," you should have a fair shot at getting in. Ah, but that's where you (and I) are wrong.

As 7:00pm approached, I watched the owner of the brewery get up from his table, navigate through the huge crowd, walk to his office, and return with a large mug that was filled with registration slips. I figured he would take it to the stage (where a band was playing) and begin the drawing.

But he didn't. He returned to his table and started fishing around in the mug, pulling out registration slips, examining them, showing them to his table of pals, and then either leaving them out of the mug, or placing them back into the mug. After fiddling through the slips for about 10 minutes, he carefully walked to the stage where the singer took the first few slips from the mug and "winners" were announced.

I turned to my friends, who were as dumbfounded as I was. We couldn't believe what we had just seen. We tried to justify it by thinking that the owner must have been "filtering" people that he knew weren't there. But, when the second drawing approached, he did the same thing, but this time, he kept digging through the registration slips until he found the slip that appeared to belong to someone sitting at his table... when he spotted it, he showed it to the girl who "owned" the slip, who nodded, and surprise - the slip went back into the "hat."

Wow. So much for a fair shot. We were all so upset by what we had seen that we debated an immediate departure, but decided to tough it out for the final drawing. And surprise, it went exactly like the other two... rifle through the slips, nod/shake your head as he looked at them, and "draw" winners... ugh. I felt as though I had been sucker-punched. It was simply unbelievable.

I can't confirm that he was actually "hand selecting" winners from the hat, but I can't figure out what else could've been happening... like I said, if he was pre-filtering non-attending folks, why? Why wouldn't the singer just reach in, fumble around, call a name, and if the person wasn't present, repeat the process until they found someone who was actually there? It all seemed pretty fishy to me (and my friends)...

We left, and I promised to never support, visit, patronize, or mention the brewery ever again. When I returned home, I rounded-up my brewery apparel and threw it in the trash. Seriously. Call me overly dramatic, or call it sour grapes, but that whole experience left a really bad taste in my mouth.


Story 2: Taking Temperatures: Is it that difficult?

After last night's fiasco at the brewery, I felt the need to get out this morning and run. Really run - like Forrest Gump run - to get some of that anger out of the 'ole system. So, after feeding the cats, I took a peek at my indoor/outdoor weather station and saw that it showed 15F. A little chilly, but not unbearable.

I then turned-on the television and tuned to the local weather station, which showed the outside temperature was 8F. Hmm - now, that's a variance... Confused, I fired-up the computer, went to, and saw that they were reporting 12F. Alrighty, then...

I decided to go with the "average" temperature and dressed for what I believed was going to be a run in 12F weather. Yes, it was sunny, and there wasn't any wind, but 12F is still pretty nippy, so I put on a wool t-shirt, a wool baselayer, and my very favorite Sporthill 3SP jacket. I put on cold-gear tights, my baclava, gloves, and then hit the road.

Within the first mile, I was sweating like crazy. Not good. I unzipped the jacket, lifted the baclava, and removed my gloves. That helped a lot, but I was soon too cold, so I put the gloves back on and pulled down the baclava. So that's how it was going to be... oh well. I soldiered through the cycles of being too warm followed by being too cold, but I almost fell over when I ran past one of two banks and saw that their temperature gauge was showing 32F. Really? 32F?

As soon as I returned home (9.7 miles later), I flipped on the television and the computer... here's what they showed (this was at about 11:30am).

My weather station is first - the outdoor sensor is on my deck, in the shade:


Up next is the televison - here's what NBC Channel 15 was reporting for Madison's current temperature as of 11:34am:


Here's what Weatherbug was reporting via my phone - this temperature sensor is about 2 blocks from the apartment:


And, to prove I wasn't making-up the bank's temperature reading, I hopped in the car and took a quick spin to document their temperature reading:


Followed by the other bank that I run past - look at the "swing" between the two banks:


And last but not least, here's what my pathological liar of a car was showing:


Really? With all of the technology that's available to us these days, we can't even take an accurate, consistent temperature reading? It's no wonder the weather-guessers have such a bad rap... I personally believe it was about 20-25F outside, based on how warm I felt on my run, but what do I know?

The Elusive White Whale & The Most Useless Signs in Wisconsin

Speaking of running, every so often, I've spotted an unbelievable vehicle that I've tried to tell people about but always failed to convey how impressively grotesque this vehicle was... words simply couldn't do it justice. It was my elusive white whale - a tale of lore - non-existent or under-appreciated without a photo to document its existence.

So imagine my delight when I spied the white whale while I was running around taking photos of bank temperature signs. :-)

Folks, I present to you what may be the most filthy car in existence. A 1990s Mercury Sable sedan, filled literally to the roof, with garbage - mostly coffee cups and mail.





As mentioned, I've seen the car several times over the past 1.5 years, but it's always been while I was running and didn't have a camera with me. I've seen it mostly at fast food restaurants, gas stations, and parked alongside the road. And, believe it or not, but I've seen the driver, who appears to be an otherwise "normal" looking person - if I saw him in the office, I'd never dream that he was driving around in what is literally a dumpster.

The last time I saw the white whale (my nickname for it), the garbage was about "headrest high" - there was still a gap between the garbage and the roof. But today, it appeared to be almost completely filled. I wonder what'll happen when it really does run out of available space?

And finally, I present to you the most worthless road signs in all of Wisconsin:


I swear to you that not a single person in this state believes in following any posted speed limit. Everyone speeds and tailgates like the dickens... there's a school zone near the apartment that has a "your speed is:" radar thing, and I've never once seen it show less than 33 mph (speed limit is 25; 15 when children are present). I see it every day - cars fly through there without regard for the speed limit... and if I'm in front of them, traveling at 25mph, it's guaranteed that I'll be tailgated, flipped off, brighted, and on two occasions, passed.

The kicker? I was running through the school zone area yesterday and I saw the radar thing show a speed of 38mph. I turned to look, and sure enough, here came a minivan, barreling through the school zone. I kept running and saw a cop was sitting in the school parking lot, radar gun in hand. "TAKE THAT!" I thought to myself, certain the cop would bust the speeder.

Wrong again. The cop just sat there. The van slammed on its brakes as soon as it saw the cop, nose dived, and then crept past the cop as if it hadn't been speeding. The cop was sitting literally 10-15 yards "beyond" the speed readout sign, so he HAD to know the van's speed.

As I ran past the cop, I held both hands up in a shrug and said, "REALLY? NOT SPEEDING?" The cop looked at me, then looked back down the road. Nice. I'm going to wager a wild guess that had the speeder been anyone other than a suburban mom in a minivan (like say a kid, or a person of color), that there would've been a citation issued.

Gotta' love it.

Oh, and speaking of love (and irony) - as I was taking the picture of the speed limit sign this morning, I spied this sitting immediately in front of the sign:


Perfect. Speeding + drinking + a major city street = WIN. You've got to love Wisconsin... or at least the awful drivers.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on January 9, 2011 4:00 PM.

Is it 2011 already? Seriously?! was the previous entry in this blog.

Cleaning up is the next entry in this blog.

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