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This government shutdown nonsense is hurting people

This letter is 100% sincere. The inflammatory name-calling aside, I don't see how an elected official can look at the *facts* presented in the article referenced and not see that they are doing the American people a great disservice.

I would love to get an answer from Mr. Sensenbrenner, but I don't expect to get one.


October 4, 2013

120 Bishops Way, #154
Brookfield, WI 53005

Dear F. James Sensenbrenner,

Regarding the ongoing federal government shutdown, you should read the Oct. 1, 2013 article from Esquire Magazine titled “The Reign Of Morons Is Here.”

I know it’s long, I don’t know if you have time to read things on the internet, so I’ll highlight one of the better clips for you:

"We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami, bagmen and outright frauds, a collection so ungovernable that it insists the nation be ungovernable, too."

Is that a fair characterization? I like to think its untrue, but I’m not sure. You are part of that system. You tell me.

Only you, Mr. Sensenbrenner, have the power to change that characterization. Only you, Mr. Sensenbrenner, have the power to stand up and shout: “No! You are wrong! I am not a snake handler, bible banger, ignoramus, bagman, or outright fraud! I am compassionate, intelligent human being, and I will do what’s right and end this government shutdown nonsense because it is hurting people and I am not a monster!”

Will you do that, Mr. Sensenbrenner? Or is the Esquire Magazine article right? You tell me. I’m not seeing evidence to the contrary, that’s for sure.

Please forward this letter to as many of your colleagues you feel would benefit to see it. I don’t even mind if you read this message verbatim and pass the words off as your own. I won’t tell anyone.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Constituent,
In love and friendship,

Gabriel D. W. Wollenburg
Watertown, WI

'This is not something you can experience on Facebook'

The speech given by John Greendeer, President of the Ho-Chunk Nation speaking during the powwow following the Penokee Hills Education Summit on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2013, is as good as explaination as any as to why my family and made the trek up to the Whitecap Resort to be part of the Penokee Hills Education Summit.


'It is our duty to protect her'


John Greendeer, President of the Ho-Chunk Nation, told the Penokee Hills community that the Ho-Chunk Nation is committed to supporting the ongoing efforts to protect the Penokee Hills from destructive and unnecessary mining.

“This place is not something you can experience on Facebook,” he said. “You have to travel up here and be part of this to understand.”

Every difference we have ever had is set aside while we get together to protect Mother Earth, Greendeer said. This is our grandmother. It is our duty to protect her.


Its about the water.

Posting this before the big summit this weekend.

Protect the Penokee Hills

This is footage I shot at Tyler Forks and Peterson Falls in Ironwood and Ashland counties a few weeks ago. The audio comes from the speech given by Mel Gasper at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources public hearing held at Hurley High School on Aug. 15.

If you can’t be at the Penokee Hills Education Summit this weekend, you should watch Indian Country News’ live announcements from the Summit at White Cap Mountain Sept. 20 and 21. The live broadcasts are planned for Friday and Saturday, or on their livestream.

In Memory of A Friend

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Many of us lost a good friend yesterday. I remember Ty, and what is remembered, lives.
To his memory, I offer this:


In Memory of Tyler


The D&D Games that will never be played
and the Pink Floyd songs that will never be the same
remind us of the struggle and the pain
that accompany talent and an almost limitless potential.

Escape comes too soon, my friend.

It was one of those sticky hot days of summer when you were young
that I held you on my lap to make sure you could breathe.
The air was thick on the island and we brought you water to drink and hid your shaking body in the cool shade of the willow trees along the river.
I was one of your many friends who held you that day.

If only we could have done it for you one more time.

Remember when you were young, you shown like the sun.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.






A tale of two camps

Tomorrow, at some point, I will have to wash the blood-red mud from my boots that collected as I wandered through the Penokee Hills this weekend.

I brought my Mother-in-law and her friend up to the LCO Harvest Camp on Saturday, August 10, 2013. We had two stops in mind. The first was the Harvest Camp itself. The second was to try to see, first hand, what the impact commercial mining interests are having on the land up there. It is a tale of two camps, really. Two different approaches to working the land.

The LCO Harvest Camp

It was my second time visiting the camp; I am not a local. I am not native to Iron County in any sense of the word. I’m a guy who believes in the healing power of nature. Both times I’ve stepped into the Harvest Camp I have been greeted warmly, offered dinner, and showed great hospitality. I meet people for the first time and I know that I am among friends.

Harvest Camp

The campers have made homes away from home in the woods, and are harvesting its bounty while doing healing work to the land and to our culture. Around every corner is a welcoming sight: a row of squash, a collection of firewood. A wigwam built just in case someone decides to stay overnight even though they didn’t bring any gear.


The Harvest Camps trails and pathways are sculpted using natural methods; putting the lay of the land and the method of ingress at balance with each other.


My daughter made fast friends with other kids at the camp.She learned how to identify at least six different types of edible plants growing in the camp itself. She and another little girl parked down the hill for some time and raided the raspberry bushes. My mother-in-law wanted to stay and talk politics and swap protest stories with the other folks at the camp. I wanted to wander off into the woods and see what there was to see.


We came to the camp as protesters, and we left it as human beings. There is magic in the camp; magic in its bounty and in it’s people. There is magic in the whispering winds and the lightening strikes and the pile of discarded cooking materials that the campers have cleaned out of the public lands and put on display.

There is a magic in this camp that comes from the union of people, tree, flora and fauna.

The site of the ongoing mining

A mile up the road is a site of another kind. Visitors are not welcomed with warmth and compassion, but by a gate bound with a lock and chain. Although both lands are public, this site is fenced and the only greeting a visitor receives from is a callous yellow sign demanding that visitors to this parcel of not ride motor vehicles, and do not stay overnight.

There is no face to great you. No name to welcome you. No friend to see that you are well. On this site, there is Only the cold hard path of destruction wrought with the carelessness that only a corporation can.

While we were on our hike our little family van was cased several times by men driving black trucks. We found walking sticks to help us up the incline and around the muddy trenches that have been carved in the side of the hills by heavy machinery. The path is lined with synthetic riprap and optic orange fences. At certain points the riprap funnels runoff into a couple of hay bales that do not seem to be doing much in the way preventing erosion.


As we walked, the mud grew thicker and the pathway became more torn up. The woods here is different. Not less beautiful, (industrial trenches notwithstanding), but different. Here, the woods is somber. Is it hurting?

And even still, life grows here. The aformentioned hay bales have sprouted, as if succumbing to the land’s great fertility. Mushrooms and toadstools take advantage of the disruption in the forest floor to grow quick and die young.

Toad Stool

I spotted a small prayer bag dangling from a tree. The ribbon was made from raffia and the bag was made of cotton. It contained wishes for healing, no doubt. It was certainly left as a gift from the human campers down the road. I stopped and silently added my own wish for an end to this unbalanced and unnessesary destruction of our natural resources.

Prayer Flag

My thoughts were interrupted when I hear a man yawn in the woods. I can’t be sure, but I am convinced I hear the sound of someone stifle a yawn and then a branch shake. I spun around to look at where I think the sound came from. I looked deeply into the woods. I did not see anyone. I looked deeper. Still nothing. But I am convinced there was someone there. We were being watched.

Turning back

At that point, I decided was time to return to our car. The path had become mostly impassable for foot traffic without doing some serious off-roading and I’m not sure I wanted to startle the sleepy spy over in the trees by accidentally treading on him.

It is a far, far better thing I do now

A tale of two camps. One seeks to build communion with the land and the
other seeks to take resources from it. One camp seeks to healing the rifts that separate flora from fauna, and the other seeks to dividing and conquer both.

Come to the land. Listen to it. See if with your own eyes. There is beauty there. It is public land. It is open to you. You owe it to yourself to set foot on the Penokee’s sacred soil and feel her sing beneath you feet as you hike.

A road that takes you home.

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There is a road that takes you home no matter which way you are traveling.

My friend Sgt. Pete and I are headed out on County Trunk X, northbound. The sun is setting in the west as I roll both driver and passenger windows down and let the springtime breeze throw my hair around and this song comes on.

The Long Winters’ Blanket Hog. It might not, thematically, be the appropriate piece of poetry for the moment I was feeling, but it certainly was the right song.

I’ve driven, bicycled, walked, and skateboarded down this road before. I have been traveling on this road betwixt my homes for 38 some years. Now I am at a stage in my life where I am literally driving both to and from home.

There are people in this world who will never come to this place.
And fewer still who find a good song playing on the radio when they realize this.

oh, you know, resting

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The plan was to slow down this weekend so Jenifer could rest and get ready for Tuesday. I'm pleased to report that we did a really good job of slowing down. We only did a ton of things this weekend instead of the shit ton of things we usually do.


  • Went rummange-saleing in Jefferson.
  • Danced a Maypole and hand a wonderful celebration at a friends
  • One load of laundry.
  • Introduced a friend to Sgt. Pete
  • Had a friend spend the night.


  • Three loads of laundry.
  • Assembled a four-peice patio set
  • Picked up some of the sitcks in the yard.
  • Recovered an herb garden in the back yard, and turned it into a cucumber patch.
  • Went to Ace and bought a huge bag of dogfood.
    *Introcuded another friend to Srgt. Pete.
  • Moved an upright freezer out of a friend's basement in West Allis.
    Put that freezer (temporarily) in my Garage.
    Made a butternut squash soup.
  • Made a quick stop for groceries.
  • Brought up all the garden stuff from the basement.

So yeah. Rest assured, it was a pretty slow weekend.

Struggling... and stuff.

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I have really been struggling with depression lately. It's bad. As bad as it has ever been. Whil Wheaton talks a good game about depression.

I, like Whil, have a hard time "reconciling my awesome life" with feeling shitty all the time. I have great friends, good support, an awesome kid. I wasn't on fucking Star Trek, but that's a pretty high bar.

I don't get suicidal. That's just never been on the table. But I walk around with this internal self-talk that whispers lies to me about what a terrible, incompetent, ugly person I am. And I know it's not true, but its still something I hear a lot. I'm not fishing for compliments here. Please don't feel the need to respond to that.

I am simply calling out the fact that I seem to be my own worst enemy, wallowing in the negative self-talk. Especially after surviving a summer that cost me my job, car, and home, in that order. It's easy pick up the pieces and say 'hooray! I get to start over,' and it's quite another to mean it.

Of course, there's power in that shadow talk, and I have it within me to harness that power. But, seriously, it's hard work. It takes working with a professional, and having a treatment plan, and sticking with it and stuff. It's not just a thing you can "buck up and get over."

When I worked in Mental Health, there was this chestnut that compared the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment to seeking medical treatment: "You wouldn't expect yourself to just snap out of a broken arm."

And it's true. You wouldn't. But at the same time, there's not an entire fucking culture and industry swirling around you that denies a broken arm is a "serious" thing to suffer.

Case in point: What kind of emergency mental health coverage do you have? Emergency mental health care isn't even a thing. A 72-hour hold isn't health care, it's a parking lot. Our culture doesn't have a way to address a mental health emergency, for the most part. That's fucked up, right?

I don't have any answers. I just want to enjoy the richness of my life and feel safe and content once in awhile.

Phase IV

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I have this artificial barometer for "How I'm Doin'" these days. It's called this here blog.
I started blogging a long time ago because I felt like I couldn't put everything I wanted to put into my Newspaper collumns into my newspaper, and I needed an outlet where I would write about videogames and movies and tv shows I liked. I did some podcasting and made some observations about life and culture.

Then, awhile later, I said that everything had to change. And I reinvented this here blog. I put up one of those Everything new is old again posts, and launched, Phase II: Now with Drupal.

it's time

The internet kind of grew up around that idea and became an outlet where everyone writes about video games and movies and tv shows they like. I like that. There's so many good places out there nowadays to read about what video games and movies and tv shows that people like. It's good.

Then, in a post that I'm pretty sure I didn't think was rambling and incoherent at the time, I launched, Phase III. Now with more of the same things.

I still want to write about things, I really do. But videogames, movies and tv shows are not really the things I feel compelled to write about anymore. I guess it's a sign of being not-quite 40, but I no longer care to compel you to like what I like. I guess I don't care if you and I have a difference of opinion on whether it is a good emotional investment to watch sportsball. Fandom comes in many flavors. Whatever makes you happy, I guess.

I wrote a letter today to my lawyer about the car accident I was in last June. It made me sad and upset. I wrote a release note for a piece of software that you'll never use but will impact the lives of 4 in 10 of you today. It did not make me sad and upset. Both of them created compelling writing. But neither of them was very satisfying.

That's what I'm getting at here. I'm done writing for you, dear reader of this here blog. (As if I ever did....) I'm writing for me now. I want to write in fucking markdown with links and in a CMS that I like, and I want it to be published immediately, and I want it to be ok if it has 10,000 typos in it because fuck you, guy who has to point out typos.


*ahem.* ... And so.

Here comes Phase IV.

Look the fuck out.

It's where I live now

People of Watertown! Hear my plea!

Its not you; it’s your children. They are ruining it for everyone. They are surly and obnoxious. They fear no man. They linger in the shadows, hiding in the dark places where old beer cans linger and trash bags stop swirling and rest. They sneer as you drive past, avoiding your eye, but challenging you from beneath their furrowed brows. Have you raised a city of feral beasts?

Shackle them! Shackle them, I say! Let them taste the willow switch! Help them to know how meaningless they are! For your dark places, dear people of Watertown, are overrun with these feral beasts. And they are not studying late at the library, as they have claimed. They are under a bridge by the river where the cops don’t come by and they can smoke their cigarettes in peace.

I am aware of these truths, People of Watertown. I am aware because I know of these children. I am one of them returned. I am a feral child sprung from your riverbed, loosed on the county trunk highways. I walk again through your garbage strewn alleyways. I prowl across the parking lots surrounding the parkways.

But it is different now. This time, Watertown, I stop to pick up the trash in those alleyways. I chase the rat-children back to their homes.

Help me. Help me. Help me to help you, Watertown. Let me in. Let me in. Let me in.