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Half Life



half8If I Knew Your Were Coming, I’d Have Baked You A Cake


Like most of you, I would assume, I must have missed the meeting where several new, elusive and exceedingly obscure new elements were discovered and announced to the world. Some of these elements have half-lives that measure in tenths of milliseconds. I really and truly believed that there were only 103 elements in the periodic table…element 103 being Lawrencium, by the way for those of you keeping score down the hill from me at Marcene’s in bustling downtown Mt. Vernon, Wisconsin USA. That was it far as I was concerned…after all, Lawrencium is a synthetic radioactive element and is essentially useless for anything other than scientific research.

So when a lightbulb suddenly came on and illuminated the fact that there are now 118 elements, 6 of which do not even have names as yet, well I thought, “Bloody Hell…..”

Element 118 is called Ununoctium for now. It has a half-life of  ~.89 milliseconds. It is so unstable that the scientists are not even sure what element category it is. Solid? Noble Gas? I don’t know. You tell me. Everything from the boiling point of Ununoctium to the atomic radius is either predicted or extrapolated. No compounds of ununoctium have been synthesized….but you can bet all of your mother-in-law’s money that they’ve been predicted. But a better bet would be placed on the uses of Ununoctium. If you placed that bet on NONE, Other Than Scientific Research, you would be a big winner.

By the time youve read the first word of this paragraph, Element 118 has decayed into non-existence. Half-life of less than a millesecond. Compare this with, say, Uranium which has a half-life of 4.471×109 years. Time marches on. At least Uranium is real, and not artificial.

Anyway, what got me on to thinking of half lives is a comment my wife made to me the other night last week while I was in Milwaukee on business. I’d mentioned to her the latest news I’d found out about my old haunt, my old home-away-from home in Milwaukee, The Port Of Hamburg, where, up until this week I’ve been going for the past 29 years. And in the midst of our conversation she remarked, “…You’ve been going there for half your life…” 

Wow. Half my life spent at the Port of Hamburg… Bloody hell!! I never thought about it that way.

I’d received the news about the Port a few months ago from my buddy Jeff Graf. Jeff and I have spent many an hour and a day drinking and talking at the Port with our friends, pals, buddies and all that. But back in June he emailed me some distressing news that the Port was closed and the might never reopen. Most likely, it will be torn down and that will be that.

And this past week, when I went back to Milwaukee on business for the first time since late March ((late March was the last time I’d been in the Port)), I had to see for myself.




half1The Only Information Available For Public Disclosure


Rod Serling’s NIGHT GALLERY was and has been panned as a poor-man’s TWILIGHT ZONE, but I’ve never felt that way. In fact, Rod Serling’s best teleplay was episode 6 of season 1 of Night Gallery. That would be “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” starring the late great William Windom.

I was glued to the TV when this episode first aired on January 20th, 1971. It’s stuck in my memory and consciousness and soul ever since. It was that powerful of a show. Both Serling and Windom considered it their best work. There wasn’t a bit of the usual macabre or horror in They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar. Instead, it’s a different sort of horror….the passage of time that can never be recovered. Like the Port of Hamburg was for me, Tim Riley’s Bar was like home for salesman Randy Lane. Only more so for Randy Lane, as the all the major milestones in his life occurred there….he met his wife there, his welcome home party from WW2 was held there….and on the day his was fired from his sales job of 25 years, he returns to Tim Riley’s Bar, only to find that it’s going to be torn down…..torn down like his life up until that point and then gone forever….and his desperation in clinging to his past, the best days of his life…is what makes They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar so memorable as the wrecking ball inexorably swings in to destroy not just Time Riley’s Bar, but the best years of Randy Lane’s life. As Serling himself said in the introduction to the episode, “…the quiet desperation of men over 40 who keep hearing heavy footsteps behind them and are torn between a fear and compulsion to look over their shoulders.”

Unlike Randy Lane, I have no quiet desperation. When my wife and I moved from Milwaukee over 11 years ago, I’ve been back to Milwaukee a lot on business. And for me, The Port of Hamburg was home away from home. A place to go to that was comfortable and familiar. A place to go with and be with old friends, and new ones, to have a beer or three…no different really that what I do here at home….when I go to THE FIREHOUSE or THE GRUMPY TROLL.  At the Port, I could be away for 6 weeks, 6 months, and when I walked in the door, I was a regular…I was at home away from home.

But I’m not going to look back at that past right now, and chronicle all those 29 years, that half life spent.

I’m not going to detail or document the events, and speculation about the events, that has led to The Port of Hamburg’s current state. No need for that. Instead, I’m going to live in the present and hopefully take a hopeful look forward. And the present, for me, is a new world that will take some getting used to. What has happened to be honest, is nothing less than The Great Port of Hamburg Diaspora Of 2013.





half9eAmong The Refugees….


As I’d been hearing from my buddy Jeff Graf, the regulars from the Port of Hamburg have been starting to hang out at the bar next door to the Port of Hamburg….the Landmark 1850 Inn. So when I got to Milwaukee last week, and saw the empty lifeless Port of Hamburg sitting there in advancing twilight, I continued on next to door to the Landmark, not just  to see for myself, but to feel it for myself. Three nights among the refugees passed in this way.

One quick note: I did not take any photos of either the Port or the Landmark when I was in Milwaukee last week. The photos used here are merely  for information and review purposes only.

I’d been in Landmark several times before, of course, when I lived in Milwaukee, but I’d never made it a regular stop.

But now I guess it will become one….maybe the one…but it might be early to tell. But most likely it will.

In any case, despite meeting old friends and having a great time with them, it was, for the first two nights at least, disconcertingly different. Despite familiar faces and old friendships, everything was a bit off. Little details like seating, and other small tedious details like that, It takes to integrate a place and make it familiar and comfortable and comforting, And especially with seeing familiar faces in an unfamiliar context. It took and will take a bit of getting used to.

The first night at the refugee camp, I spend a bit of time talking with my old pal Jay Herriges ((and yes, Jay-Bird is still homebrewing,  has most of his Buicks and plenty of Buick parts that he still hasn’t set up a website to sell then on yet, BUT he has upgraded from Windows for Workgroups 3.1)) and his brother Scott. Hadn’t seen them in a long time so it was good to get caught on things. Jay, by the way is the one who informed me of Dale Earnhardt’s death as I wrote about previously on the 10th anniversary of Earnhardt’s death.

The second night, I walked in to The Landmark and there was my Serbian friend Danny Petkovic ((which reminds me…I wonder how other people refer to me?? Am I Danny’s Czech friend? His Irish friend? More likely Czech friend….since when we raised a toast, Danny toasted in Serbian and I toasted in Czech. Or may I’m just “That bloody piss-head soccer fiend??” Heh heh….well, probably best to not know what other people think…..Heh!)) and as per usual, we had a long and elaborate conversation that meandered pretty much everywhere.

And as lovely as those first two nights among the refugees were, it was still oddly disconcerting…I wasn’t quite as comfortable as I should have been. Quite likely because I hadn’t a chance to truly integrate the new place by myself, and on my own terms. Setup of the place, seating, where the mirrors are behind the bar, all sorts of little tedious things you don’t think about after awhile were different and unusual….after all, I’d spent half my life at the Port of Hamburg next door, so a lot that I’ve taken for granted over the years was jarred out place.

I finally had that chance to get a grasp of the new order of things on my own terms on Wednesday night. None of the refugees from The Port of Hamburg were there. And while I hesitate to say that that was a good thing, in fact it actually was. I could adsorb a bit of the the atmosphere, the feel of the place without any distractions. So we shall see.

It wont be the same, of course. It never can be. The past, after all is not a place to bury yourself in, not a place to cling to. And so I won’t. There won’t most likely be a half-life quite like the one that was. But I won’t judge the future. Instead, I’m going to embrace it.


half9aWe Have Come For Wayne ROONEY!!!


Now that the half life of THIS post has been reached, let’s caught on a few things. Chelsea vs. Man(U)re last Monday at Old Trafford. I fully expected Chelsea to win this 2-3. I also fully expected Rooney to march out of Old Trafford after the final whistle and on to the Chelsea team bus.

Instead, the match ended in a 0-0 draw which would have greatly pleased Fabio Cannavaro, but probably no one else. Still, to grab a point at Old Trafford on any day of the season is reason enough to be happy.

Anyway, Rooney has decided to stay with Man(U)re and Chelsea has moved on to Samuel Eto’o, probably as much as a favour to Abramovich’s Russian oligarch pal Suleyman Kerimov that anything else…but, if Eto’o can keep his head down, and his ego down, and play, well….then okay I guess.


half9bGo FOCK yerself Jimmie Johnson!!


If the Chase started this weekend, which it doesn’t, Matt Kenseth would be the top seed. His 5th victory of the season at Bristol last Saturday night leads all drivers this season.

Matt led the most laps enroute to his 5th win. Jimmie Johnson was caught up in a wreck on Lap 360 and finished 40 laps down. Let’s hope Johnson’s luck continues at Atlanta tomorrow night.

Speaking of the Southern 500 ((and yes, I do naught care a bit that it’s the AdvoCare 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway))….

Danica Patrick’s Boyfriend® will lead the charge with The Carl joining him on the front row. Matt tees off in 6th outside of Esteemed Winemaker Jeff Gordon. Danica Patrick rolls off 21st while her boss’s stand-in Mark Martin will punch the accelerator from the 24th spot.

As for who I think will win….well, I really don’t fancy chugging a MILLER Lite after race ((but since I’ll be watching this at home, no one will ever know that I wont’s)) but Brad Kesolowski is due for a win and needs one badly at this point if he wants to defend his title. So I’ll go with that. Bad Brad for the win, even though y’all know I’d rather see Matt win every race from now until the end of time.




half9cLovely Day For A Drive…


F1 returned after it’s summer break to the beautiful course at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Gran Prix. Lovely in the sense that it was beautiful place regardless of the weather. The qualifying on Saturday was more exciting than the race itself ((from standpoint of who was going to win, of course)). With seconds left on the clock, Vettel, Hamilton and Webber were able to get one final last gasp lap in, and when that little Saturday drive was over, Hamilton had the pole with Vettel 2nd and Webber 3rd.

As for the race, Vettel grabbed the lead from Hamilton on the first lap and never looked back. Alonso charged from 9th to 2nd, and for the rest of the race it was a Sunday drive to see who would join them on the podium. Kimi Raikönnen burned up his brakes by lap 25 and retired. Yeh yeh…the Jimmie Johnson of F1 ran away with it again, but Spa is such a beautiful course that watching the race there is always a joy. And when the checkers dropped, it was Lewis Hamilton who joined Alonso and Vettel on the podium.

Next weekend, Monza. The last track on the European portion of the tour. Vettel is favoured to win that one as well. And I don’t know about you, but I’m really getting fackin’ sick of Vettel and his damned ability and his insufferable sense of entitlement. I think they should make him play Richard Strauss’s French Horn Concerto No. 1 on the podium in lieu of chugging champagne.


half3Norwich 1     Southampton 0


3 games into the Premier League season, and there’s a two week international break for World Cup Qualifying. Liverpool is top of the table with 9 points on three consecutive 1-0 wins. They took down ManU(re) today at Anfield. I’m surprised to say the least, but I’m sure it won’t last. Chelsea is in 2nd place on 7 points.

Speaking of Chelsea, they played Bayern München on Friday in Prague for the UEFA Super Cup. They had the game won, leading 2-1 at the 120th minute of extra time. BUT….at 120+3, quite LITERALLY at the death, Javi Martinez dinked in the last kick of the match for the equalizer and it went to pens. Well….THIS time….it was Bayern who took that shootout 5-4 as Romalu Lukaku’s penalty kicked was brushed aside by Neuer. Lukaku is not the new Drogba just yet. And at least we WON the RIGHT penalty shoot-out with Bayern the last time we faced them.

Norwich rebounded nice from their ugly 1-0 defeat at Hull the previous Saturday ((a match that was decided on a dodgy penalty call…and a match Norwich should have won going away had they played Hull the way they played Everton to open the season)) with a well-play 1-0 defeat of Southampton. Young Nathan Redmond broke his Premier League duck with a resounding strike that left Southampton’s otherwise stellar keeper Allan McGregor sprawling on the floor. Bassong returned to the line up after being out with a knock and Norwich brilliantly sucked up all that Southampton could toss at them and took all three points. On The Ball, City!!

As for the relegation train, well….Hull based on their run of play, seems more likely to stay up. They’re not as bad a team as I’d have thought.

Crystal Palace, despite it’s 3-1 win against Sunderland is still on the train I think. But Sunderland definitely have their ticket booked. I think Jozy Altidore made a BIG ASS MISTAKE signing on with them.

West Brom has slipped a few notches in my view and could be on that train to relegation. They definitely are not the same team without Romalu Lukaku. Not even close.

And as I write the final words of this Arsenal leads Tootenham 1-0 at half-time. Nothing about this match will change my mind, or your mind, about where the two teams will wind up when all is said and done next May.

I will, for the moment, spare both you and me any further commentary since the half life of THIS post was projected, by both scientific analysis and political theory to be around 2,500 words or less, and we’ve already run by that threshold and are now well into stoppage time. So back to the drawing board and the slide-rules for the scientists. As for the rest of us, it is now 4:56PM in London UK, and that’s close enough to 5:00 for me. So time for a beer…a nice IPA,….I’m having a MILWAUKEE BREWING COMPANY Hop Happy IPA. Football, Bloody Hell!! Indeed!!!


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