Browsing "Wisconsin"
Aug 22, 2011 - Milwaukee, The Bier of Beer, Wisconsin    Comments Off

Yum-um! Crispy fried heart attack on a stick! Food at theWisconsin State Fair

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Inscrutable recreational foodstuff much admired in America’s Heart(attack)land.

Wisconsin State Fair, August 2010 and 2011. (It’s hard not to make snarky comments about the high cost of medical care due to obesity, heart problems and alcoholism in a state which has drastically cut services designed improve our lousy statistics in those areas–so I’ll shut up and we can enjoy the scenery now.)

“(c)2010 by Annie Alpert, Updated with new stuff 2011″

From Crispy-fried food on-a-stick, Wisconsin State Fair, posted by Annie Alpert on 8/09/2010 (17 items)

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Aug 21, 2011 - Milwaukee, The Bier of Beer, Wisconsin    Comments Off

Conning Wisconsin: News the Milwaukee Journal doesn’t report

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Perhaps they don’t read. Perhaps they don’t care–but don’t we deserve better?

The New York Times Gretchen Morgenson reports an in-depth story about five small Wisconsin school districts who were taken for millions by St Louis-based Stifel Financial. The S.E.C. sued Stifel because the firm advised the school districts to buy risky complex debt securities, whcih were clearly unsuitable for unsophisticated investors (even I knew that!)

My question is, why doesn’t our local paper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel cover this?

Read the whole story here.

Oct 10, 2010 - Getting old and stuff, parents, Wisconsin    Comments Off

JC Penny broke my mom’s heart!

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jcpenny logo

For 35 years my 80 year old Mom has been a devoted shopper at the JC Penny Outlet store on Silver Spring Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

They announced that they are closing soon and are having a “Closing Sale”. My Mom said “It just breaks my heart”–which breaks my heart to hear.

My personal taste is not JC Penny, and the outlet store is a collection of left over crap, factory seconds and polyester knockoffs–but to my Mombo the Outlet Center was a haven of low prices and ultra-returnability she could count on. The company is hurting, apparently. JC Penny closed their catalog distribution center in Milwaukee in 2002, and are planning to close their JCP Logistics branch along with the outlet center December 2010. They tried to get back on the fashion radar by opening a new store in New York City–but what about the midwest heartland that built their business, starting with James Cash Penny in 1902 Missouri?

As my ultra-conservative, Republican-faithful mom said today, “What’s wrong with Milwaukee that all the department stores are leaving?”

Aug 23, 2010 - Census 2010, Milwaukee, The Bier of Beer, Wisconsin    Comments Off

Census 2010 and unemployment compensation

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bread line

Hundreds of thousands of people are being laid off by the census bureau. Whether or not they qualify for  unemployment? It’s an alchemical art.

Even though federal employees are covered for unemployment insurance under the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program and you don’t even have deductions taken out to pay for it, they are bound by the eligibility rules of the state they worked in.

In Wisconsin, where I worked for the census bureau from March til August, the rules are really arcane. Now pay close attention:

Benefit amounts and eligibility are based on the first four of the last five quarters prior to the start of your claim — unless you don’t have enough wages to qualify for a claim based on that formula, in which case, you use the ‘alternate base period‘ method. The alternate period is the four most recently completed calendar quarters prior to the start of your claim,  where your wages must be at least 35 times your weekly benefit rate AND your wages equal at least 4 times your weekly benefit rate outside the highest quarter.

Got it?

It took four phone calls with wait times of up to 40 minutes to determine that I need to reapply in October (when the next quarter begins) to have my last quarter (July and August) considered as part of the formula.

And as my passionately-right-wing Republican,  Fox-News-Network-loving Mom noted: “What are people supposed to do if they need that money to live?