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Our exciting city looks pretty good.
Our exciting city looks pretty good. (Photo:

Milwaukee is 7th most exciting city in the nation? Some not so sure

So exactly how did a little know real estate website determine that Milwaukee is the 7th most exciting city in the nation?

Some people weren't exactly sure why Milwaukee ranked so high although they'll take the compliment. 

(New York City, by the way, was No. 6.)

It says a lot when some residents who have lived here all their lives received the good news today in a similar fashion:

"Uh...'most exciting'? Exactly what did they mean by that?"

Or: "Most exciting? What were they basing it on?"

The source of the list was something called the Movoto real estate blog that used a number of criteria before releasing its "10 Most exciting Cities in America" list to the media.

Some of the categories used for determining the final list were things like park acreage for person, percent of the population between 20 and 34 years old, big box stores per square mile, population diversity and even number of bars per square mile.

(If it had just been bars, I don't think anybody would have questioned the city's high ranking.)

But because Milwaukee apparently was considered "more exciting" than places like Chicago, New Orleans or Los Angeles that didn't even make the list, some people had obvious questions.

On various social networks, the "most exciting cities" list was scrutinized with a cynical eye by some of my Facebook friends.

"They must mean 'terrifying instead of 'exciting'," wrote one friend.

Others wondered how a Midwestern city with sub-standard weather most of the year and daunting social problems could make such a list. Another raised questions about the lack of diversity in Milwaukee and high unemployment in some areas that seemed to go against the idea of an exciting metropolitan city with progressive attitudes.

"They must have only asked white people with good jobs," said another cynical post.

But several people reacted to the news with a fair amount of civic pride, saying "Way to go!" or "I agree! Milwaukee is a great place!" or otherwise congratulating th…

Jackie Robinson is honored today all over Major League Baseball.
Jackie Robinson is honored today all over Major League Baseball. (Photo:

Jackie Robinson more than just a day

I've always admired the legacy and lessons that baseball great Jackie Robinson taught us.

He's being honored in big league ballparks all across MLB today. It's hard to think of a better person to have such recognition.

This year, he's also the subject of a Hollywood movie and even a children's play in Milwaukee.

It's good that every generation gets to learn about the sacrifices Robinson made in order to be the first African-American to integrate professional baseball.

I know his story well; I've always respected all facets of Robinson's life but also doubted if I could have put up with the in your face racism he encountered  during his playing career without ever retaliating. As the story goes, Robinson knew he had to take whatever abuse fans, sport writers and even other fellow baseball players dished  out in order for another black athlete to get the chance in later years.

The real lesson from Robinson's life is very similar to that of another icon, Martin Luther King Jr., who also used non-violence to show the way to equality for future generations.

It's been well reported that there aren't as many African-Americans playing major league baseball today as 50 years ago. That's not due to racism; top black athletes have many other choices. MLB should take some of the blame for not doing enough outreach in some black communities, too.

But the true legacy of Robinson had much more to do with society than sports. It was about not letting prejudice and racism deny anyone opportunity if they were good enough to do the job.

That's why on this day - and every day - we should honor Jackie Robinson.

A Keurig to call my own
A Keurig to call my own

Sometimes, one cup of Joe is all you need

News flash:
I have a Keurig one-cup coffee maker.

(Thank you, thank you, please be seated.)

No, it's not that big a deal as home appliances go. The Keurig has been around for awhile and many US households have one. It's one of those new-fangled devices  that tend to define American consumerism during a certain time period.

At first, it's a novelty. Next time you look around, everybody's got one.

I bought a Keurig after having one in my hotel room during a recent trip to Washington D.C. It was the perfect solution for my mood that morning, not ready to get dressed to go hit the breakfast buffet just for one cup of java.

One cup in the morning is pretty much my limit, which is always a surprise to some some friends who are wired on caffeine pretty much all day. 
(You know who you are.)

I like the first cup minutes after hitting the kitchen and usually have to wait to get my coffee machine loaded and perking. The appeal of a quick cup within 2 minutes was certainly something I could learn to get used to having around most mornings.

The Kreurig I purchased in Milwaukee (not the one in the picture; that was in my hotel room) seemed the best buy for the buck ($79) although there are certainly cheaper one-cup models.

Something about the name suggests quality, but I guess we'll see.

Lots of my friends already had one cup machines at home and were excited to see me join the community. Most comments were like this: "I love mine!"

In the age of angry online reviews for any new product, the response was encouraging. 

So far, so good. I'm impressed with the taste of the eclectic group of coffees and teas provided with my purchase. I even made a trip to the discount place where they sell the one-cup packages in a 60 piece box.

I'll admit on a superficial level, it also makes me feel like a 21st Century Baby Boomer who is keeping up with all the latest consumer trends. 

FYI: The Caribou roast blend? Excellent!




No charges in death of Derek Williams angers some.
No charges in death of Derek Williams angers some.

No charges for officers in Williams case means same old same old

When a special prosecutor decided not to issue state charges against three Milwaukee police officers involved in the fatal arrest of Derek Williams, it wasn't a shock to some people in town.

No; that's not a good thing.

For decades in this city, there's been a list of civilians injured or killed in confrontations with Milwaukee police officers that qualified as an abuse of the officers' powers. It included names like Daniel Bell, Ernest Bell and Justin Fields who died after violent encounters with police along with names like Frank Jude Jr. who was brutally beaten by off-duty officers at a party.

When an inquest jury looking into Williams' death decided for the first time in 25 years there was enough evidence to issue charges against Milwaukee cops involved in a fatal shooting or in-custody death, some people were encouraged.

Others predicted to me that despite the inquest jury recommendation, they felt no charges would come out of it. After all, they said this is Milwaukee and Williams was a young black man suspected of a crime.

So his life didn't matter.

I was sorry John Franke decided not to charge the three officers involved even after saying he believed they were careless, used poor judgment and delayed getting Williams the medical help he needed.

According to Franke, there was probable cause to believe the officers committed an offense but not enough evidence for conviction. 

Most of all, I'm sad for the city and the enduring stain that hangs over these types of incidents involving some cops and members of the community they are supposed to protect.

Reports say the officers will be returned to active duty status soon. With no charges issued in his death, it's almost like Williams' life never really counted.

And that's hard to accept.