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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, April 21, 2014

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The mobile site of OnMilwaukee.com looks pretty good on the new iPhone.
The mobile site of OnMilwaukee.com looks pretty good on the new iPhone.

72 hours with the new iPhone 5

I've had three days now to play with the new iPhone 5. And, having owned every one of them but the first, I view this latest model as an evolutionary but not revolutionary upgrade.

By now, if you care about this kind of stuff, you've probably read countless tech reviews from mobile phone and PC experts. I'm not that guy. I'm just someone who uses his phone every day for work and for play. And, I would've written this sooner, but the upgrade didn't go so well. Migrating my old phone from iTunes failed after about four hours, and backing up from iCloud took a good 18 hours to complete. In essence, I've only had a working iPhone 5 for two days.

Here are a few of my early impressions:

Form factor: Pictures don't really do this phone justice. The new iPhone feels much thinner and lighter than its predecessor. After using it for just a few hours, the iPhone 4S feels and looks like a brick, as ridiculous as that sounds. The added height is interesting, and takes a while to get used to. So far, I don't love it. The screen is somehow brighter than the last one, too – almost too bright and saturated at its max. I'm sure in a few more days, I won't even notice. As usual, the build quality is excellent. Even if this new model is a little boring, it looks and feels nicer than any other phone on the market.

Camera: I haven't seen much of an improvement here, though the specs indicate that maximum ISO has been bumped up, and the aperture has been expanded. That's good for low-light situations, and in my first tests, those picture do look pretty good. The panorama feature is extremely cool, but that works with the older phone, too.

Battery life: Much better, at least for now. My old iPhone would be at about 40 percent by mid afternoon. On the new phone, it's easily holding a charge all day.

Speed: For typical tasks, the iPhone 5 doesn't seem blazingly faster than its predecessor. I'm sure it is, but for e-mail, the Web, Twitter and Facebook, it's just a bit snappier. Openin…

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You can't complain if you don't vote.
You can't complain if you don't vote.

The method behind our "best of" madness

The 10th annual Best Of Dining poll on OnMilwaukee.com is up and running, and based on the votes so far, it will break our record for most reader participation.

As you peruse the 50 questions and almost 750 voting options, you might find yourself asking, "Why did OnMilwaukee.com include this restaurant but leave out another?"

I love a good conspiracy theory, but in this case, it's pretty straightforward. To determine whether a category remains on the list from last year's poll, we consider how many people voted in that question, and how many skipped it.

If the question passes that test, we look to see if it was a blowout or a close race, since ideally, we don't want to include too many questions that have such an obvious answer that the same place wins every year (of course, sometimes that's inevitable).

Finally, we look for ambiguous, similar or outdated questions, and tweak them as needed. "Best Ribs" became "Best Barbecue," for example. "Best Breakfast" and "Best Brunch" were separated, and "Best Beer List" was dropped because being a dining poll, we didn't include stand-alone bars.

In terms of selecting the nominees on the list, we get a lot of feedback. Our editorial team selects our collective top 15 (unless a category literally doesn't have 15 options). We also look at last year's poll, and if we want to swap in a restaurant, we'll drop the lowest vote getter.

Similarly, we try to offer as few duplicates as possible, so even if a restaurant could qualify for many categories, we attempt to place it in just a few, max.

Of course, to those who say we got it totally wrong (and we hear that occasionally), we offer an "other" category. Notably, no restaurant has ever come close to winning as a write-in vote, though you can argue whether that's because people only vote for places they've heard of and can click on, or because our offerings are spot on. Probably a little bit of both.

And yes, we know it's a "popularity contest."

Finally, some ask why we don't…

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Hello again, for the first time: Andy's excited to see the "new" Lambeau Field.
Hello again, for the first time: Andy's excited to see the "new" Lambeau Field. (Photo: Jim Owczarski)

Back to Lambeau

This afternoon, I'm heading up to Green Bay for tonight's Packers game. I'm going as a fan, not as a working journalist, because my friend Eron won a raffle for two tickets and a bus ride to and from Lambeau Field.

I realize now that it's been about 10 years since my last Packers game at The Frozen Tundra. It was a Lions game in 2002, I think, and the stadium was in the middle of renovation.

It's not by design that it's been this long since my last visit. It just sort of happened. I used to go to games fairly frequently.

I've lost count, but I probably went to about 10 games from the mid-'90s until that final trip. They were big games, too. I was at the playoff game in '94 when the Packers held Barry Sanders to -1 rushing yard. I was at the Christmas Eve game in 1995 when Yancey Thigpen dropped a catch in the end zone to propel the Packers to the NFC Central title. I was at Bears game in the Super Bowl season of '96, and I was at the game when Antonio Freeman made "The Catch" against the Vikings in 2000 (see the clip below, and reminisce about that ridiculous season with Dennis Miller on "Monday Night Football).

Of course, I've been to a few less meaningful games, too, but this I remember: the Packers are undefeated in every game I've attended. I hope that streak continues tonight against the Bears.

So why has it been so long since I've been to a Packers game? A few reasons, I think.

First, while my Brewers fandom has continued to soar to new heights, my Packers loyalty has ebbed. I still love 'em, but the idea of spending huge money to drive up to Lambeau and sit in the freezing stands doesn't hold the same appeal as it used to (although there's definitely still some charm in that; don't get me wrong).

Also, I just love watching the Packers from my couch, or on occasion, at Palomino. Seeing a game from the stands is interesting, because you can watch a play develop like you can't on TV.

But you have to wear pants.

Either way, today is pretty much my dream …

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This is what a $100 mug looks like.
This is what a $100 mug looks like.

The mug

Every day, I drink my coffee at work out of the same mug. It's not fancy; just a plain white mug with teal writing that says, "COIN CASTLE – SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ" and a line-art drawing of some kids playing skee ball.

The reason this is significant is because I recently realized that this mug has just turned 20 years old. I keep it as a daily reminder that there are, in fact, no shortcuts in life.

Here's why:

At the end of the summer of 1992, my future college roommate and high school partner in crime and I took a trip to the Jersey Shore, one final hurrah before entering our freshman year. Bryan and I did the stuff that 18-year-olds do at the beach; gawk at girls, wander around the boardwalk ... and gamble.

Of course, we didn't have the opportunity to gamble at a real casino, but we did stumble across an arcade called Coin Castle somewhere on the boardwalk. They had video poker, slot machines and skee balls games that dispensed tickets one could redeem for fabulous prizes.

Behind the counter, we saw TVs, VCRs, lava lamps and other luxury items that we immediately imagined winning and stocking our dorm with. We would have the most pimpin' early '90s dorm room at Thurston Hall at George Washington University. We set down our French fries and got to work.

Bryan and I won all weekend. Hitting jackpots left and right, high fiving with every full house in video poker, we probably spent $200 of money that we had saved up from our menial summer job, literally digging ditches at Bryan's parents' house. At the end of the weekend, we brought an overflowing bucket full of tickets to the counter.

"We'll take the TV, VCR and pool table," we probably said in unison, while a bemused employee pulled out a calculator.

"You can have two mugs, some spider rings and a super ball," he replied.

We were crestfallen, swept up in the excitement of a get-rich quick scheme. Our thousands of tickets were worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.

But I took my mug to college, and wh…

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