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Bonus photo: Rain so hard the Hoan almost disappeared
Bonus photo: Rain so hard the Hoan almost disappeared

8 things I saw at Summerfest, presented with minimal commentary

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then sometimes it's best to let them just speak for themselves. Here are eight photos I took that made me look twice during Summerfest's 2017 run.

1. Huey Lewis’ expressive eyebrows

2. People actually buying airbrushed T-shirts

3. The original Summerfest logo that looks a lot like pot leaves

4. This woman’s stenciled Summerfest hair

5. This man’s dapper white suit with Summerfest pins

6. Victor DeLorenzo’s sweet hand-painted lapels

7. Boots and butt cheeks (and an excited friend)

8. Huey's expressive eyebrows, part 2

Does this little girl in "Airplane" seem like a psychopath? Maybe don't answer that.
Does this little girl in "Airplane" seem like a psychopath? Maybe don't answer that.

If you take away my black coffee, I will kill you

I drank my first cup of coffee, black, when I was 19. It tasted like poison, but it seemed like the right time to graduate from tea to coffee, and it’s held my hand for 24 years and counting.

I’ve never put cream or sugar in the beverage that I've consumed almost every day since June of 1994, and, to the best of my knowledge, I’m not a psychopath.

That’s why I took a little umbrage to a new study published in the journal Appetite, which cited a connection between black coffee drinkers and sadists, psychopaths and narcissists.

According to the University of Innsbruck research project:

"In two studies, we investigated how bitter taste preferences might be associated with antisocial personality traits. Two U.S. American community samples (total N = 953; mean age = 35.65 years; 48% females) self-reported their taste preferences using two complementary preference measures and answered a number of personality questionnaires assessing Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, everyday sadism, trait aggression, and the Big Five factors of personality. The results of both studies confirmed the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are positively associated with malevolent personality traits, with the most robust relation to everyday sadism and psychopathy."

Apparently, the study also found a connection with antisocial traits and people who enjoy radishes, tonic water and celery. Fortunately, I don’t really like those three things, so maybe I’m not as evil as some others.

However, if you try to take away my black coffee, I will kill you.

Just kidding, although I might get a little grumpy. I mean, save for a few road rage incidents, I’ve never actually wanted to kill anyone – at least, not for more than a few seconds – and I don’t think I was under-caffeinated when any fleeting homicidal ideas crossed my mind.

I just think cream and sugar make coffee gross. I like it strong and black (insert joke here). So, I don’t know; this study of only…

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Beautiful Bayfield at night.
Beautiful Bayfield at night.

Nope, we don't border Canada. I checked.

This morning, Donald Trump tweeted something peculiar.

I know, big surprise, right?

But this time, I'm not annoyed in a political way, just in a factual way. Wisconsin does not border Canada.

I checked, just to make sure, and then I remembered a blog post I wrote from 2011, when I started wondering just how much of Wisconsin I've seen over the course of my life. I downloaded a map and started drawing on it, and really, nothing has changed in the last six years. At no point did I touch Canada without leaving the state.

Anyway, the results – to the best of my recollection – are illustrated by the red lines. While it's possible I traveled outside these lines as a child and don't remember it, I think this is a pretty comprehensive list.

What's interesting (or not so interesting, depending on your perspective) is how relatively little of Wisconsin I've seen. I mean, I feel like I've seen almost as much as I care to see, and while there's much more that's blank than is red, I surely can say I've covered more of Wisconsin than anywhere I've lived or visited ... unless you count those five years I spent in Rhode Island, which you really can't.

Obviously, I've hit all of the major cities and towns and many of the smaller ones, too. But there are huge swaths in the central and northern part of the state that I have completely missed, too.

What else am I missing? Lots? Nothing?

How do you compare to my travels? Is your map "redder" than mine?

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Familiar faces. Kind of.
Familiar faces. Kind of.

Who are these guys?

Here I am, in the Miller Park press box, just like Opening Day last year, and every year since the early 2000s (and before that, I sat in the stands as a fan).

Now I’m watching the seats start to fill up, as Robb Edwards announces this very new Brewers team. People are clapping, of course, but of the 44,000 people in attendance, not many know who these guys are.

Consider this: After Ryan Bryan, the longest-tenured player on the Brewers is Wily Peralta. For position players … it’s Hernan Perez.

There are nine players playing their first opening day.

Sitting next to me is my old friend, Mario Ziino, who has worked for the Brewers in several capacities since 1978.

I ask him if this kind of Brewers rebuilding is unprecedented in the team’s history. He says yes.

"It’s phenomenal," he says, shaking his head.

But think about it. The Brewers lost 89 games in 2016, finishing 30.5 behind the Cubs. Then they got rid of Chris Carter, Martin Maldonado and Tyler Thornburg.

Is there anywhere to go but up?

For me, a fan who’s been pretty die-hard since 1994 – one who went to 18 consecutive spring trainings – I took a little break from following the team last year. It was kind of nice, actually. I had an unusual amount of time on my hands during the 162 games I’d otherwise be watching or listening to.

But now, it’s a fresh start. The Brewers had a winning record in the Cactus League (and that matters more than you think). Will they win more games than last year? Mario says he doesn’t know. "It’ll be tough. Everything is going to predicate on the pitching."

But does it matter? This is baseball, and it’s back.

Now … a polite smattering of applause for Eric Thames. It’s almost a little funny. The seats are filled, and it’s pretty quiet.

Hey, winter is over. Baseball will hold our hands for the next six months. Let’s not overthink it, and just enjoy it for what it is.

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