Nawabdin the Electrician?

I’m reading a collection of short stories for a Facebook Book Group called In Other Rooms, Other Wonder by Daniyal Mueenuddin.

The first short story is Nawabdin the Electrician and is set in Mundal, a rural community in Punjab, Pakistan.

Might this be what he looked like when planning how to ask his patron Harouni about getting a motorcycle?

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Tim the Tool Man moving sale–and furniture too!

Man using a chainsaw with all recommended safe...
Image via Wikipedia

From Laura W.–

Friends from the USM family are getting ready to move to their new place. They are having a moving sale this Saturday, August 1st from 9am – 4pm at 2602 E. Newberry Blvd. They have a lot of great items: furniture, household items, sporting equipment, patio furniture, clothing, power tools, etc. including:

Homelite 24″ Gas Chain Saw (w/ extra chain)
Craftsman Scroll Saw
Black and Decker Finishing Sander
WorkForce 7″ Wet Tile Saw (never opened)
Makita Router 24K-RPM
6.5 HP Craftsman Chipper/Shredder
4 HP Craftsman Edger
Ariens Snow Blower ST524
Large Ladder
Large Wheel Barrow

If you know of anyone who would be interested in any of these items, please pass this information along to them.

Thank you!

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Try chocolate peanut butter cookies

Photo of Peanut Butter Cookie Balls
Image by foodistablog via Flickr

Our daughter has decided this summer that she likes to “experiment.” So she’s decided that making up her own cookie recipes is a great way to explore science!

Last week she and I, with inspiration from a church cookbook from Rockdale Lutheran Church near Madison, made chocolate peanut butter cookies.  Here’s the recipe:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 cups flour

1 t baking soda

1 t salt

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs.  Add vanilla. Mix in melted chocolate.  Add peanut butter and mix.  Add flour, one cup at a time, and salt and baking soda.  Drop cookies on greased cookie sheet and bake for 13-14 minutes.

Tonight, we added chocolate frosting.  We used 1/4 cup butter, melted.  1 T cocoa power.  About 2 cups powered sugar.  1-2 t milk.

They are pretty and you only need one!

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Citizen Journalist: Adopt-a-Stimulus-Project

Road Construction
Image by ahhyeah via Flickr

Last week, I signed up to participate in ProPublica’s Adopt-a-Stimulus-Project.

I adopted a portion of State Street from 17th to 27th Street.  My first task was to find out when the project is supposed to start.

Turns out that the project is still out for bid so we don’t know yet who is going to do the work and when they’ll start.

Turns out that’s also the case for another nine projects approved for the city of Milwaukee.  Two of them are in the bidding phase; the other seven don’t yet have the specs done yet so can’t yet go out for bid.

So while there are some people working as a result of this “Surface Transportation Allocation” from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, they are mostly people who are working anyway (city engineers, regional and state legislative staff, web masters trying to keep the information available to the public).

Still none of the $15.2 million allocated from Wisconsin‘s stimulus funds to pay for resurfacing and repairing roads in the city of Milwaukee have been spent.  So no jobs created there.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has provided some coverage of the decision-making process.  A look at what might be characterized as a “tortuous” process and you begin to understand why money allocated in January for the express purpose of putting people to work ASAP has still not been spent.

However, when I talked to the city engineer, Jeff Polenske, he made a reference to the process going through “quickly.”  And perhaps it has.

I haven’t looked long enough at this (I’m volunteering after all) to come to any conclusions about whether or not stimulus funds meant for other road projects in Wisconsin are moving ahead. Northern Milwaukee, southern Ozaukee, and southern Washington County residents are seeing some projects moving ahead.  There, the decision-making process was accelerated by DOT:

The state Department of Transportation, by contrast, focused on another stimulus priority: selecting projects that could start quickly and put people to work right away. As a result, state officials started pushing to spend $7.5 million immediately on two highways in Germantown and a bridge in River Hills. They later broadened their list to cover $8.8 million in Milwaukee projects and $17.7 million in suburban projects, including those in Germantown and River Hills.

The ProPublica project is trying to answer, on a national scale, what’s happening with the stimulus funds.  Stay tuned.

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Ladies Lunch on the Lake

Sweet corn, tomato and kidney bean salad
Image by bluepoppy6 via Flickr

I attended the Pewaukee Lake Volunteer Service Club summer picnic today and brought this great summer salad.  It’s from “Reading, Writing, and Recipes:  a cookbook from the University School of Milwaukee community.”  A true hit!

Chopped Vegetable Salad

2 ears fresh corn, husk and silk removed

1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and deveined, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 small yellow pepper, seeded and deveined, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 small red onion, chopped

4 dill cucumbers, peeled (I used one regular cucumber), seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces

3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, c hopped

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

2 T rice wine venegar

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

Prepare an ice bath in large mixing bowl; set aside.  Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil.  Add corn and blanch until tender, about 6 minutes.  With tongs, remove from water, and plunge immediately into ice bath.  Continue to boil water for green beans.  when corn is thoroughly cooled, removed from ice bath.

Using a large knife, removed kernels from cobs.  Transfer kernels to a large bowl.  Add green beans to boiling water.  Blanch until tender, about 1 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, removed from water, and plunge immediately into ice bath.  When beans are thoroughly cooled, drain in colander.

Add green beans, tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, onion, cucumber and cilantro to corn.  Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, mix olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Adjust for seasoning.  Pour into bottom of salad bowl.  Pour salad mixture and toss salad with dressing.

Can be prepared a day in advance.  Serve at room temperature.

(Thanks to Pam S. from USM for putting this recipe in the USM cookbook!)

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Lead a school. Change the future.

Many of you know of my work in Milwaukee’s education reform community and my involvement as a board member of Milwaukee Renaissance Academy, a public charter middle school in the City of Milwaukee. Volunteering with MRA has been a great experience because I know the school is making a difference for our students. Our website is “under construction” but provides a glimpse of who we are as a school community. 

We are seeking a new school leader who wants to join us to close the achievement gap and who has the requisite skills and leadership to accomplish that goal. If you know of any highly qualified candidates, please forward this blog post which contains much more detail on my Milwaukee Renaissance Academy page. The deadline to apply is June 19th.

Milwaukee Renaissance Academy (MRA) is a public charter school completing its second year of operation. MRA will serve approximately 125-150 students in grades 6 – 8 during the 2009-2010 school year, with anticipated growth to 250 students in successive years. The school was founded on evidence-based best practices and the trustees are committed to the continuation of best practices, a standards-based curriculum and data-informed decision-making. Parents and students come to MRA with the expectation that they will be challenged and supported in academic and social progress. Thanks so much for your assistance.

Thoughts on a coach

Milwaukee Winter Club Wildcat

For those of us whose kids play youth hockey, we’re used to the response when we talk about how much time we spend at ice rinks.  Basically, non-hockey parents think we’re crazy.  

But, at least for our family, the commitment to a youth sport comes with the promise of  coaches like Bob C.  

Parenting is a demanding job and you’re more likely to do it well if you don’t go it alone.  Youth sports has been one of the ways we connect to great adults who can help us raise our kids.

Milwaukee Winter Club, where our two hockey players compete, is full of  dads (and some moms) who have lots of experience playing hockey.  Bob was not one of those dads.  

But what made Bob a good coach–what makes any coach who signs on to coach children “good”–is the joy they take in teaching children the life lessons that competitive sports can teach.  Sportsmanship, teamwork, hard work, disappointment.  The nearly seven months that most families commit to youth hockey means that the “fun” is no sugary sweet cotton candy version.  When you win, you know you earned it.  And when you lose,  you know you gave it your best.  

And with coaches like Bob, kids learn that they are valued for who they are and what they bring to the team.   The joy Bob took in coaching his son and his son’s team mates was evident in his relationships with the kids.  He was no polly-anna where people were concerned.  While I never heard him say a negative thing about a child, he was always honest–and, it seemed, delighted by each kid’s quirks.  

That perspective served him well in coaching my “charming” daughter in the net.  I emailed him about a month before he died to say that he was one of the few coaches who could keep up with her “sense of humor.”  He responded:

Tell L. I’m very proud of her. Tell her to always keep her beautiful smile. And tell her (if you feel it is appropriate) I always tell [my kids] when they can’t get the answer they need from family or friends — get it from their gut. I consider the gut the combination of heart, mind and soul and that combo will keep us sane and happy with our choices in life.

If you allow YouTube — Dream Big – Ryan Shupe & the Rubberband — is a pretty fun song. Keep smiling.

We’ve been fortunate–a lot of our kids’ coaches have been like Bob.  That doesn’t mean we won’t miss him.