Wausaublog Podcast

Yes, I know that I said a week ago that I would be starting up again, and then nothing happened. It was a long week and there will be other long weeks as I continue my efforts not to find out firsthand what homelessness feels like.

I had the tremendous privledge of meeting Wendell Minor when he was here this weekend, and attended two of the events that he spoke at. Wendell Minor, for those who may not have been paying attention, is one of the two artists who create children’s books whose work is being exhibited at the Woodson art Museum.

You can read a little more about the exhibit and the background of Mr. Minor in tomorrow’s Buyers’ Guide.

While interviewing Mr. Minor, I was thinking to myself that he was saying some really wonderful things, things that went way beyond anything I could use in the paper. So, with his kind permission, I am posting the entire interview here on the Wausaublog.

Well, actually this is the first half of the interview, we talked for about a half hour, so I split it into two parts and added a bit of introductory material. I hope that you enjoy this and will tune in for the second installment, coming in the next day or two.

Although I do so in the audio, I will also apologize for the audio quality of the interview itself. It was recorded in the library on a simple voice recorder on the longest play (lowest quality) setting. Speakers might be a better choice than headphones on this one.

I hope that this approach will prove useful and doable and that there will be many more voices to be heard on the Wausaublog.

And speaking of new voices, just a quick comment about the music on the audio. I found it on archive.org under the netlabels. It was listed as having a Common Commons license, with attribution, so here it is.

It is by a group called emorej and you can find much more of their work, and even buy some if you feel so inclined, here.

Without further ado, here is the podcast itself. Let me know what you think.



Sledding, sledding, sledding

Even though it has been ages since I have posted here regularly, people seem to find the blog on Google. And the number one search term for the last week or so has been “sledding.” Wonderful! But where the heck are all you people?

I have been sledding a few times with the kids over the past 10 days or so, and while we are out on the hill, basically there is no one else out there. Is there some kind of virtual sledding experience I have missed somewhere? Go on out and hit the slopes.

Since it is not immediately obvious where this information is on the County Parks and Rec website, here are the “official” sledding hills at the Wausau area parks:


Sledding areas are open as soon as snow cover permits. Two hills have lights for night use. All hill close at 11pm (when parks close). There is no charge to use these hills.

  • Pleasant View Park; 1221 Sumner Street (lights on hill)
  • Riverside Park; 100 Sherman Street
  • Schofield Park; 606 E. Randolph Street
  • 3M Park; 405 Park Blvd (lights on hill)

You may have noticed that I did not include the Sylvan Hill Tubing facility.  First of all, it has its own page on the Parks site, so you can find it more easily, but secondly I am not a big fan of fun that you have to pay for and then stand (or sit) in line.  Nothing wrong with that kind of thing, just not my cup of tea.

My personal favorite sledding hill is Pleasant View Park, where we spent some time night sledding a while ago (one of the lights is misaligned so there is a huge dark patch as you go down — add to the fun!) and had a blast. I have been told by a long time resident that this hill used to a ski hill with a tow rope and everything. It is nice to dream about that tow rope as you trudge up the hill.

But here is the deal people. I need every single one of you to go sledding between now and Saturday. I need all of you, your kids and your neighbor kids to head up to Pleasant View Park and sled for hours and hours and hours. Especially you grown ups. Especially you Wisconsin sized grown ups.

Oh, you say you don’t have a sled?  Worry not!  Just truck on up to Fleet Farm.  The have a huge pile of the plastic “bathtub” sleds.  Nine bucks, holds two kids, goes pretty well on almost any kind of snow.  Can’t beat it.  If you have a big family and a few extra bucks, they have a plastic “luge” that looks like it will hold four people and a dog.  Eighteen bucks.  Cheap at twice the price.  Where else can you have that much fun for a sawbuck?

Now you say, “But Bill, what do you need me for?”  Because it is true, I need you and I need you badly.   You see, this last snowfall, the beautiful light powder that it was, is not the greatest for sledding. Piles up in front of the sled and slows it down. So, I need all of you to pack the snow down between now and Sunday. So that on Sunday afternoon, the kids and I can whiz down the hill with the greatest of ease.

I am counting on you Wausau, I know you can do it!

Watch this Space

Well try to anyway.  It would seem that circumstances that necessitated my moving away from blogging our fair city may once again be changing.  I think that very soon, I will be in a position to begin, once again to make daily posts here.

I think for the sake of my own sanity this will be a solo effort this time.  That is to say there will be no regular contributors, other than myself.  If you wish to comment that would be great.  If you feel you have a one time story to tell — please feel free to email me — and I will check it out and perhaps tell the story here.

Wausau is a great city in a wonderful place.  Yes, it certainly has its drawbacks, like any other city, large or small (I sometimes say would be a perfect planet — if there were no people on it.)  But for the most part, as I have in the past, I am going to choose to focus on the postive, the beautiful and things that work.  There is lots of that here.

I especially look forward to just walking around with my camera again, I think I miss that most.

If you get a chance, tune back in, I hope that you will enjoy your stay here.

Oh, and if you are just finding the blog, feel free to nose around the archives, once in a while something interesting bubbled up and some very good people contributed many good ideas.  They are still good and might just be something you can use today to make this place just a tad better.

Thanks for reading!

Blogging for All — Last Add

Apparently there is going to be another story about Citizen Wausau in tomorrow’s Herald.  And also apparently there is going to be some quotes from me in the article, or at least I heard the tapping of keys in the background as I was talking. 🙂  I have no idea why I was interviewed this time, I have nothing to do with CW and the story of how CW has come into being has already been told by them, me and Pat Peckham.  But for the record, I will say one last time what I have pretty much said in every interview about both CW and the Wausaublog.

Get your own blog.  It is simple and free here on WordPress.  But please, don’t just sit in your basement in your pajamas and spew opinion strung together with internet links.  Well, OK, you can do that if you want, it is a free country, but I don’t find that very interesting or beneficial.

Get out and do something.  There is TONS of stuff going on around town.  People are working with charities, creating art work, mentoring kids, putting on plays, dancing, playing music and on and on and on.  There is no way that any one person or even news organization can cover even a tiny percentage of these things.  But you can.  You are doing them or know who is.  Buy a cheap digital camera, take some snaps and write a little tidbit.  Citizen journalism.

I would love to see 50 blogs of Wausau, or even 5,000.  I am glad to see CW up and running finally, but will be even more impressed when YOU have a blog.  Just get out there and do it.  It will be good for all of us.

And this is the last thing I am saying about this.  Really.

Unidentified Dudley Object

So, L and I were driving back from the Wisconsin Englishes presentation at UWMC when she turns to me and says, “Do you see that?”

I did indeed. And I took pictures of what we saw. They are NOT photoshopped, if anything, the colors look even richer to the eye than they do to the camera.

Makes for an interesting skyline, that is all I have to say.

Click on any or all of the thumbs for the larger image, but you get the idea.



Blogs, Censorship and Conflict

This little post is inspired by the comment by Mr. Mentzer and also by the little brouhaha over at Citizen Wausau.

First let me say that there is no animosity, or really, feelings of any kind about the start up of Citizen Wausau. I have said many, many times that there is always room for more voices about anything and everything and another take on Wausau is a good thing. So, rock on guys and have fun with it.

I will go even a step further and say that everyone should have a blog or something like it. Writing is a tremendously valuable skill and one that is simply not exercised enough by most people. For years I have seen all the wonderful things that the library puts out encouraging reading (Readers are Leaders and so on) and have always thought, “Reading is great, but you need to be able to DO stuff too.” And one thing everyone should DO is write.

Back when Ken Burns’s first big war pic came out (about the oxymoronic Civil War — how can any war be civil?) I, like many people were amazed at the poetic beauty of the letters and diary entries that he found — written by ordinary people. Even allowing for the fact that over time only the best of such things survived and the he had the liberty to edit the heck out of them, the use of the language by ordinary people was quite striking. They obviously spent a lot of time both reading and writing. We don’t — but we should.

I am reminded of one of my favorite snarks, although I forget now who said it. At the time of the quote the various TV networks had various promos to encourage reading. I believe CBS had a thing after many programs telling people how they could “read more about it.” Which lead to this acid response: “Having a TV network combatting illiteracy is like a chocolate eclair manufacturer fighting obesity.” But I digress.

So, everyone should have a blog. Expressing yourself in writing often organizes your thoughts and gives you a very nice mental work out. I am not talking about spreading information here, though that might be useful — just expressing your thoughts on “paper.” It is a good thing for everyone.

Beyond that, more discussion of our town is good and more information is good. Citizen Wausau is a good thing. And so will whatever the next blog about Wausau be. I have always said, and certainly stand by the idea — “the more the merrier.”

I will say, however, that I sit here with a bit of bemusement at the brouhaha over at Citizen Wausau. Perhaps it was not intended, but there were some comments in the CP when the Wausaublog was going black (not permanently, apparently) that this new blog would be more wide open than this blog had been. I was perplexed by the comment at the time, hoping that perhaps it was a misquote or something.

Over the year or so that the Wausaublog limped along, there was exactly one post that I sort of declined to run. The author said it was satire, but it just sounded like an attack to me. I sat on it a long time and finally said, “Sorry, I am not going ‘print’ that.” The person apparently got their feelings hurt and never contributed again. Which is OK. There was one other time when I was sent a contribution and I asked the author whether they really wanted it out there in the form in which they sent it to me. I pointed out that maybe they might not get nice comments on it, and the author said not to run it.

And speaking of comments, I had one instance where I felt forced to cut off comments on an article. Some group from Texas found the blog because of a post that mentioned a band that used the Confederate battle flag as their symbol — and these guys from Texas wanted to post dissertation length comments on how the aforementioned oxymoronic Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. I just wasn’t in the mood for a flame war over a 4 month old post, so I closed the comments for a while. It was the only time I deleted comments.

I did also get into a bit of hot water when I tried to moderate a comment thread that had gotten a bit out of hand. One of the contributors felt that in doing so, I was taking sides and eventually declined to participate as a contributor any longer. Which is also fine.

But all that being said, I do feel for the guys over at CW. No matter what you are doing on a public blog that represents something (even if it only yourself) such as your city, your business or whatever, it is probably impossible, especially on the internet, to have completely free speech. If you did, your blog would be covered in spam comments leading to porn sites.

And, as I have said before, editors have value. Not posting something because it is not good enough or is way off topic or vile or whatever, is fair game for the owner of a blog. That is what an editor is for. The Herald (for example) is under no obligation to publish anything and everything that comes over the transom, and the same is true of CW and the Wausaublog.

So, here is where I can tie things together. If you want every word you write to be “published,” get your own blog. You can get a free one here on WordPress.com in about five minutes. I encourage you to do that. Writing is good for you. Everyone should do it.

The last thing I wil say is that to be a blogger of any kind on the net requires a bit of both thickness of skin and skull. Anyone in the world can post anonymous comments on your thoughts and opinions. Registration doesn’t stop that, only makes people more creative. So, you can’t take yourself too seriously and for the most part you can’t take the comments from others all that seriously, either. Unless it involves a spellchecker. I know from first hand experience that a copy editor is even more important than an editor.

Hunted Like Animals at UWMC

It is not often that a re-run is an important event, but this is one of those occaisions.

UWMC is showing again the film, “Hunted Like Animals” which is a documentary by Rebecca Sommers about the genocide of the Hmong people in Laos.  The film will be shown on October 10 at 7 pm in the college theater, and as usual, you can’t beat the price, it free.

Click for Larger ImageCheng Lee, Director at the Multicultural Resource Center at the college has arranged for Rebecca Sommers to be available by phone after the screening to discuss the film and answer any questions.  Lee said that last year when the film was show there was a panel discussion with a number of local Hmong Elders discussing the film.  That must have been fascinating, and I am very sorry to have missed that.

Most of us in Wausau are aware of the sad recent history of the Hmong people.  To make a long story short, the Hmong people sided with the US during the Vietnam War, and after US troops left Southeast Asia, the Hmong were persecuted by the governments of Laos and Vietnam.  Many Hmong people became refugees settling in Thailand, the US and other places.  But Hmong people still remain in Southeast Asia.  Their plight is still horrific according to Sommers.  Here is a quote from the press release for the film:

Over thirty years and a generation later the Hmong-in-hiding are attacked, chased, raped and killed by Laotian soldiers.  Those who surrender face an uncertain fate. “Hunted like Animals”demonstrates that the Hmong-in-hiding in the Laotian military training areas are going through.   They endure genocide, the reason why many escape to Thailand, and become refugees.  This story of human rights violations on the Hmong-in-hiding must be told. 

And for a story to be fully told, it must be listened to.  I hope that folks will make an effort to come out and see this film so that we can better understand the situation in Laos, and by extension our Hmong neighbors here.  The shared experience and the discussion period are an important part of building our community.

If you would like some previews of the film, Sommer’s site has a number of clips, which you can find here.

See you at UWMC at 7 pm in the theater.