Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Police Beat: When Use of Deadly Force is acceptable

On Wednesday, Dec. 22 I attended the Dane County Sheriff’s Department Use of Force seminar at MATC West in Madison. Due to the high number of fatal shooting in the state this year (23), the Sheriff’s Department decided to hold the seminar to educate the general public about the decision process officers use and when to use deadly force.

According to Deputy Kelly Rehwoldt, officers can use five different modes to try and control a situation: officer presence, dialogue, control alternatives, protective alternatives and deadly force.

Rehwoldt said roughly 99 percent of the time, a situation can be brought under control through an officer presence or dialogue.

Control alternatives include empty hand control, pepper spray or a Taser, and are used to overcome active resistance or threats.

Protective alternatives are a step above control alternatives and are used to overcome continued resistance, assaultive behavior or threats. Alternatives include focused strikes, diffused strikes and batons.

Finally, officers may use firearms in deadly force when a suspect is exhibiting behavior which has caused or imminently threatens to cause death or great bodily harm to the officer or another person(s). Appropriate instances include when a suspect has a firearm or is charging an officer with a knife.

Rehwoldt stressed that it is up to the officer(s) to determine what mode is appropriate to control the situation.

One part I found interesting was that officers have to make split-second decisions. I mean I know things happen fast, but Rehwoldt said there can be as little as 10 seconds between the time a police officer makes first contact and when the guy goes down in deadly force situations. And a lot can happen in those 10 seconds.

I know a lot of civilians think “oh, can’t the cop just shoot him in the arm or knee? Why kill the person?” I was guilty of thinking that exact thing. But Rehwoldt said an injured individual can still shoot from the ground, which is why officer don’t shoot to kill or harm, but to stop the threat.

The other thing to bear in mind is it takes longer for an officer to react than a suspect to act. So if a man pulls or is holding a gun and the officer perceives a threat, the officer can shoot him/her, because if he/she waits for the suspect to take first action, the officer or others might wind up dead or seriously injured.

Officers can also use deadly force if the suspect gets ahold of their Taser, which makes sense. I definitely wouldn’t want to have the bad guy shooting me with the Taser and taking my gun while I’m down.

Now onto the fun stuff....

After the presentation, we moved on to the participation part...beginning with the Taser. Initially the officers asked if anyone would volunteer to be shot with a Taser. Well since all the other media personnel in attendance were silent, I raised my hand and was like “I’ll do it.”

Course then when I was getting ready to sign a waiver, another guy said he would. Funny, he wasn’t dying to get shot earlier. My theory is he was like, dude, a chick is the only one getting hit with a Taser gun. I can’t let a chick show me up, I need to man up and do this. Course, that is just my opinion.

A couple other people went ahead with the alligator clips instead of the Taser. So those two had clips on their clothes and it lasted three seconds.

Myself and the other guy were actually shot with the Taser, which pierces through clothes, and it lasted five seconds. It’s hard to describe the sensation of a Taser. It was definitely the most painful experience of my life so far. It is like a complete shock to your whole body, a paralyzing pain. The electricity just resonates through your entire body.

Now I’ll admit, I would like to be able to say I was stoic, I was tough...but that would be a lie. I didn’t back out, I didn’t whimper, I didn’t cry, but there is quite a difference between saying you will man up and get shot with the Taser and when it is actually happening. I don’t remember the pain, it was like I was outside of my body, but I do remember screaming at the top of my lungs and yelling “Stop!” I wasn’t the only one who screamed or made noises, but I was definitely the loudest, lol.

And even though I screamed at the top of my lungs, that officer kept going. I asked him afterwards and he was like, “No, I didn’t stop. If I’m paying $25 for a cartridge, you’re getting the full experience.” Sounds cold, but I’m glad. It is a point of pride that I lasted the whole time, even if it did suck.

And afterwards? While once it is done, it’s done. If I had wanted to, I could have gotten back up and fought, not that I would want to. I also felt this tingling all the way in my toes for a good 15 seconds afterwards.

The second and final stage was this armed force simulation. We went into a separate room and they let us try our hand at the FireArms Training Simulator, or FATS.

The simulator is used for police training so trainees have a chance to experience the numerous scenarios and different actions a suspect may take.

For instance, in one simulation, an officer responded to a robbery in progress. When the officer arrived, a female and two male suspects emerged from a store. The female, in the lead, is carrying a gun, and after looking around, raised it to shoot, and the two male suspects dive to either side of her. After she is shot and goes down, the male suspect on the left turns, revealing a gun, and shoots.

The same simulation has two other endings. In one, both the female and the male suspect on the right have guns and fire shots. In the other, all three suspects give up and there is no need for the officer to shoot.

“This is the place where the mistakes should be made,” Rehwoldt said. “We'd rather have an officer see this scenario in training first, then encounter it on the street, rather than having never seen this type of situation before and encountering it for the first time of the street.”


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Warhawks Continue to Second Straight Title!

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks extended their winning streak to 30 straight games with a 31-21 victory over the Mount Union Raiders Saturday. Ironically, that score was the same when the Warhawks captured their first national title against the Raiders back in 2007.

The Hawks got off to an early lead and ended the first quarter 7-0 over the Raiders. The ‘Hawks then extended their lead 10-0 a couple minutes into the second quarter. Unfortunately the ‘Hawks hit a patch of bad luck, beginning with Hicks' removal from the game due to a torn ligament in his knee with 12:11 left in the quarter.

The Raiders then continued on a three touchdown streak, making the score 21-10 with a little over six minutes left in the game. But when push comes to shove, the Warhawks have proved they are capable of buckling down, and despite Aaron Rusch also being temporarily removed due to an ankle injury, the Hawks responded by scoring two touchdown, making the score 24-21 Hawks at the end of the half.

Although the second half of the game proceeded with multiple interceptions from both sides, as well as a Mount Union fumble, both sides proved to have difficulty capitalizing on turnovers. Finally, the Warhawks managed to score another touchdown with 2:34 left in the game, making the score 31-21 Hawks.

The Hawks secured their win with an interception with 1:01 left in the game, and sent the Raiders home packing for the second year in a row. In addition to a second straight national title, and their third overall, the Hawks’ Levell Coppage was named game MVP. Coppage led the team with 299 yard rushing.

Game Stats:

Whitewater: 121 Mount Union yards passed: 323

Whitewater: 312 Mount Union yards rushed: 45

Whitewater: 4 Mount Union interceptions: 3

Possession time:

1st quarter Whitewater: 6:46 Mount Union: 8:14

2nd quarter Whitewater: 9:05 Mount Union: 5:55

3rd quarter Whitewater: 8:32 Mount Union: 6:28

4th quarter Whitewater: 6:45 Mount Union: 8:15

Strip Club Owner says "No Negros Allowed"

Please sir, may I have some more?

Alright, alright, I admit, it’s not quite saying that we are on our way back to forcing African Americans into slavery and submission, but it’s heading that way.

To bring you up to speed, an Abbotsford business owner, Mark Prior, recently posted a sign in the building that will be his future strip club that reads “No Negros Allowed.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I thought the year was 2010, not 1961. Has my time machine worked?

The owner said that he has had problems in the past with African Americans, and he has a right to serve who he wants. Well, that is a point. Correct me if I am wrong, but that rule applies to disorderly customers, or people who are causing problems or making others uncomfortable, but should NOT be used to generalize across an entire race. If said patrons are being disruly, then I belive the owner has every right to bar them from his establishment and even post signs saying not to serve said individuals, but to put a sign up permanently barring all African Americans is plain wrong, and illegal, and I for one am glad segregation is dead.

I think it will be quite interesting to see the direction his actions will take, and if his establishment will even be around in the upcoming months. I personally think the entire African American community has a right to sue Prior, and if he doesn’t admit wrongdoing and change his policy, I can see the legal fees and litigation sending him on his way to financial ruin.

Another question that crossed my mind when reading this was, so has he never had an issues with whiteys? Because if you are going to bar complete races due to the bad actions of a few, well pretty soon you won’t have any customers.

Another interesting thing to keep an eye on will be if he decides to hire any African American employees. Because if not, there will also be justification to sue based on the claim of discrimination of race in the job market. You’re on a slippery slope mister. Better watch your footage before you slip and completely wipe out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas really does bring out the best in people....

So last night, I was ringing bells for the Salvation Army in the middle of the blizzard. There I was, with numb fingers and toes, shaking those bells with a huge grin on my face. And even though I was standing outside Walmart in the middle of it, I was actually OK with it. And I’ll admit, my heart just about broke when a little girl, looked no older than three, came up to me and gave me $1 to put in the kettle. She has definitely been nice this year, so Santa better bring her a whole bunch of toys!

And the manager of the store was nice as well, and lent me a pair of gloves when mine were soaked through from the cold and snow.

Even though it was quite chilly, and I needed sufficient time to warm up afterwards, I’m glad I finally found a good use for my cold-bloodedness. Anyway, Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Four Loko: Actual Concern or Too Much Government Control?

You guys have probably be hearing recently about the whole Four Loko thing. The drink is a combination of alcohol and caffeine and people are putting up a stink saying it is dangerous because people are more wide awake and think they are OK to drive - the caffeine makes them make bad decisions. Well, the drink will be pulled off the shelves Dec. 13, so in one week.

Now, my question is, do you guys think it is more dangerous than other drinks, or is the government trying to overstep and micromanage companies? How is it any different than making a mixed drink with Monster, or any other energy drink for that matter? Anytime you have alcohol, it can be dangerous. My own opinion is you need to hold the individuals accountable. When someone shoots and kills someone with a gun, do you go after the individual that did the shooting, or the company that made the gun? Or even if you make the argument that yes, it is more dangerous than other alcoholic beverages, should it be completely banned and pulled, or perhaps place a warning label on the bottles?

And according to one of my coworkers, we can expect the same thing with the new (and seems pretty hot and ingenious to me) alcohol infused whipped cream. That’s right, alcoholic whipped cream, now does that seem fun or what? But it’s in a shiny, youthful can, and it can be abused...well so can a lot of things. I mean you have to show your license to prove you are 18 to buy a can of compressed air because teens have been using it to get high. There aren’t many things that can’t be abused if you put your mind to it.

So feel free to post on here and let me know what you think. I’d love to get some input.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Great Balancing Act

While in college I wrote an article for a class called “The Great Balancing Act.” It was about a classmate of mine, who was balacing going to college, working, and raising a child with his long-time girlfriend. When talking with him, it made me realize that in order to succeed, we need to prioritize. And not just with our time, but money as well.

It’s quite funny, actually. When I was in college, my electric bill was all I had to worry about paying, and a $250 debt on my bank credit card seemed like a huge deal. Now, here I am, six months laptop I had for five years started crackling and breaking down, and I had to buy a new one. I’m paying for all my bills, and have $1,300 still to pay off on my new computer, which will hopefully last me for at least another five years.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here, $1,300 in debt for my new computer, need to save up for a car, and the skydiving certification I desperately want will cost another $2,700 and take me weeks...but at least I can do it on the weekend. At least the skydiving is seasonal, and I don’t even need to think about that again for another five months. Then once you take into account half of my income is used for rent, well, there is not a whole lot left for “fun” spending money. I actually crunched the numbers last week, and figured out that after taxes and rent, I’ll have about $8,000 a year to spend on gas for the car, my electric bill, food and spending money. Bigger job, bigger paycheck...but bigger bills.

Priorities. Priorities. Priorities.

And even though I’m sure my mom wasn’t too crazy on my many, MANY extra-curriculars growing up, it sure has come in handy lately, since my schedule is so crazy. For instance, Monday I work 8-5, and then have just enough time to chance, eat and watch a little TV before hopping in the car around 7 to head to Whitewater for Karate Club.

Then on the average Tuesday I work from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. As a matter of fact, if you are looking for me during the week, you’ll usually be able to find me at one of four places: The Star, covering city meetings at the municipal building, UW-Whitewater in either the gymnastics or wrestling room, or at my asleep.

Every week is kind of the same, with small variations, but just as insane. And I’ll admit, I don’t always make it to club, sometimes if I have just worked a long day or am tired, I take it upon myself to skip the one-hour commute there and back again.

So for all you guys out there who are fooling yourself into thinking the real world will be less hectic and crazy than your college’s not. It’s just as crazy, just as insane...but at least you are getting paid.

Well, got to go. Time to hop into the car and join those amazingly insane guys in Whitewater to practice the art of ass-kicking. Kihap!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What are you thankful for?

Well, it’s here again. Thanksgiving. Turkey day. The annual stuff-your-face-with-turkey-and-pumpkin-pie day. So while I’ve got your attention, how about letting me know what you are thankful for on this wonderfully fattening holiday?

Here are some thinks I am thankful for:

• My friends, Tim, Jake, Britney, Noor, all you oldies, but the new ones too: Jena, Ryan, Sara, Amy...everyone.

• My parents, my brother (who just turned 21 last week), my aunts, uncles, cousines, grandparents and everyone else in my crazy, zany family.

• My job, and all my interesting co-workers. I know how lucky I am to have a job in this economy, and the learning never stops. Seriously, I thought I was done with school when I graduated college...(;

• All the teachers that have helped and encouraged me along the way - you’ve taught me well and I appreciate it....

• and the teachers that were less than helpful and left me feeling discouraged - you’ve taught me never to give up when someone says I can’t do something or will never succeed, and how to get along with less than amiable people.

• My pets that keep me young...Calvin is quite the trouble-maker

• Chris, who didn’t let me back out of skydiving. (I was having second thoughts and didn’t want to leave the plane so he just kind of just jumped out, and since he was strapped to me, I had no choice but to go along, lol)

• Jordan, who has taken two amazing skydiving videos for me

• And the rest of the AtmosphAir staff, who has been very helpful and informative with the article I wrote. They are all such a nice and fun group of people.

Basically, I am thankful for everything and everyone in my life. I may not necessarily get along with everyone all the time, but my life is richer because of everyone. Thank you guys for everything!

Now unbotton those jeans a little and enjoy a second piece of pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rachel Wittrock

Monday, November 22, 2010


Typed up Nov. 15....posted Nov. 22

I’m not sure if skydiving has turned me into a thrill-seeker, or if a part of me is just trying to face my fears and life’s challenges with courage, but I keep finding myself doing nerve-wracking things...such as holding a ball python in my hands. It may have only been a baby ball python, but it was still about a foot and a half long.

It definitely was an interesting sensation, feeling his body writhe and tense on my hand. And I’d like to say I was brave, and in a way I was, but I definitely had to try and force myself to relax on the few times he actually turned his head around and faced me.

As long as it was facing away or to the side, it could writhe and wiggle all it wanted and I was perfectly calm and able to pet it, but the moment it turned around and faced me with those beady eyes, and went hissss with his tongue, good Lord did I tense up like a spy in disguise at a nemesis convention.

And the nice PetSmart employee was ever so reassuring, letting me know that the ball python is a constrictor snake, using its body to squeaze its prety before devouring it. But it was OK, I needn’t worry as the snake was winding itself around my fingers - if the snake was going to try constricting on my hand it would be darting in and biting me first.

That made me feel SO much better and reassured. (;

And then for some reason Rey’s voice entered my mind, going “they can sense your fear....”

As much as I don’t like taking advice from him, I had to admit defeat in that instance. So like I said, I forced myself to take those deep breathes, calm down and ignore that primal fear that said this [little] creature wants to eat me.

Hard to imagine what is next for me. In the past five months I have gone skydiving (four times), rapelled 13 stories down the Hilton Hotel in Madison, asked a guy out [and got rejected...again] and held a ball phython. It might not seem like a big deal, but for me, facing two of my biggest fears, it was earthshattering.

On a playful side note, I'm typing this as I watch Toy Story 3. And Calvin, my kitty, is watching it with me. I’m totally not kidding, he is sitting next to me on the couch, staring intently as Andy’s toys try to escape the garbage man. Silly kitty.

P.S. Lotso is quite the meanie considering he’s an overstuffed pink teddy bear who smells like strawberries.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hypocrisy in Government

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Sound familiar? Oh how rote those words are. They were so hard to memorize when I was little, yet now I can recall them at a moment’s notice. Those words, those 11 words, though few, carry a giant load. One nation. Under God. Indivisible. With liberty and justice for all.

But what does it really mean? How will we ever be able to know? We’ve traveled so far away from that path over the years, that it is hard to imagine the meaning and the sentiment that our Founding Fathers first put forth when penning that Declaration of Independence, and later, when Louis Bowman amended Francis Bellamy’s “Pledge of Allegiance” to include the words under God.

We’ve traveled so far, in fact, that we have taken pains to separate ourselves from our roots. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly the most religious person at the moment, far from it, in fact. But I am sentimental. I do think we should honor our ties to our past, and remember where we came from, lest we forget.

Or at the very least, stick to our convictions. Have you noticed that we, as individuals and a nation, tend to pick and choose what we want to believe when it best suits us? Our nation, at its inception, was founded on religious conviction, a solid belief in a not-so-solid entity: God, with that capital G.

Yet here we are, roughly 250 years later, and we have taken it upon ourselves to separate chuch and state - religion and government. But only when it pleases us.

We supposedly keep the two separate, allowing people to complain when a baby Jesus appears on public property, yet we still say the “Pledge of Allegiance” and “one nation, under God,” and the phrase “In God We Trust” appears on all our change.

Now don’t get me wrong, even though I’m not the most religious person, I don’t have any beef with the pledge or our nation’s currency. And you will never hear me bitch if baby Jesus shows up in the park at Christmastime. In fact, I think it is great that we maintain our roots.

One thing I do NOT think is “great” however, is....the gay marriage ban. There, it took me 397 words to say it, but it’s finally out there, the horse in the middle of the dining room.

I know how controversial gay rights is in this day and age, but I do believe this issue is important, especially in light of the recent stories about children and teens committing suicide because of their sexual orientation and being bullied. So I am here to ask you this simple question: for you naysayers on gay marriage, where does your basis come from for denying two people the right to get married?


That’s right. Because in the Bible God tells us homosexual relationships are wrong, they are a sin. Worse, they are an abomination. Something we need to apologize, confess and repent for. Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a wife, so they can have children. Right?

And while I respect those opinions, I feel the need to point out that saying no to gay marriage from a religious or secular standpoint is not only wrong and unethical, it is unconstitutional.

So put aside your personal convictions for 10 minutes, and actually think about the issue at hand. Becuase from my point of view, if we follow the constitution and separate our religious views from the issue, the case is pretty cut and dry: abolish the gay marriage ban and grant homosexuals the right to marry anyone they wish.

I’ve heard people say that states should have a say. Well, I disagree. The constitution is nationally binding. It doesn’t matter if it is a state, county, city or municipality - the constitution is like the Supreme Court of law documents - smaller laws need to bend and come into compliance.

As a country, we need to mend the rifts that have formed between what is written down and what actions we actually take. And yes, I realize that that means we will most likely have to re-evaluate the whole “Pledge of Allegiance” thing and possibly look at some new mints (although honestly I don’t think that either of those things will ever happen), but so be it.

And for those of you that don’t agree with my separation of church and state argument, here is one more little argument for you.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Banning gay marriage takes away liberty, or the freedom to choose who we want to spend our lives with. It makes life harder, not easier, and only serves to encourage and ensure prejudice and bullying in future generations. And finally, it strips away that pursuit of happiness, leaving it as bare as a tree put through a wood chipper.

And take it from someone who was bullied growing up, the bruises may fade and the tears dry up, but the doubt, the sense of insecurity and the fits of depression? They linger, lurking beneath the skin, hiding someplace where nothing can penetrate, and the seeds get sown. And as the years go on, those seeds grow and nourish, spreading that doubt and that blanket of insecurity to every nook and cranny.

We have the opportunity to make a difference, to set a precedent and have a direct and long-lasting effect on the lives of millions of people. My only hope is that the world I was born into changes for the better, not worse.

Thank you for listening.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Congratulations Ben!

I just wanted to congratulate my friend, Ben Bryden, on earning his third degree black belt. I wish I could have been there to see it, but alas, that is the downside of living 2.5 hours away. Anyway, Ben has always done such a great job with helping me and everyone else out at Halama's Martial Arts, and I just wanted to recognize him and everything he does. Congratulations Ben and keep up the good work!

Halama's Martial Arts is located at 267 Chellis St. in Wausau, WI.

If you live in the area and are interested, call Master Nathan Halama at 715-432-0431 or visit the website, at

Friday, October 15, 2010

Birthday Thanks!

I would like to thank everyone who helped make my 24th birthday a raging success, because I honestly had a completely amazing time!

First off, my brother and parents. They took it upon themselves to drive 3.5 hours down to celebrate, and took care of manning the grill and bringing all the food. They were also pretty good sports even when we were lost in the Mayr Family Farm Corn Maze. Thank god someone came along who actually knew the way, otherwise we might STILL be wandering around in there, lol. And I would also like to commend my mom for not freaking out too much with everyone skydiving, I know she hates the thought of me jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 10,500 feet - but the plane door was open! And Zach was there manning my digital camera, snapping pictures of everyone. Without him I wouldn't have nearly as many great and memorable photos to keep the day's activities fresh in my mind forever.

Secondly, my grandparents. They drove all the way down in their RV just to spend a few hours with me, which meant a lot. I rarely get to see them apart from our annual family reunion and holidays, so it was a treat. They have done so much for me over the years and always supported me, and I am grateful for everything they do. I also get my inner strength and stubbornness from my mother, who inherited from her mother, so in an indirect way, my grandma is responsible for my successes. Thank you so much.

Thirdly, my amazing friends, especially Jake, who showed up with the rest of the skydiving posse. Jake went ahead and invited the rest of the people who showed up to skydive, and collected the deposits, so kudos to him for helping take initiative, having everyone else there just made the day even more fun.

Last but not least, everyone on the amazing AtmosphAir staff! This was my fourth time jumping, and every time I have gone there, they have exceeded my expectations. The owners, Alex and Bo, have been amazing, allowing me to come and visit and watch even on weekends I was not scheduled to jump, and feeding me great information for my upcoming article. Both of them bring an amazing energy and atmosphere to the place.

Chris, Jon, Patrick, Dan and all the other tandem instructors…I haven't had the pleasure to jump with everyone yet, but no matter which instructor I have had, I have always had a great time. I've had the chance to do some backflips, line taps and even pull the cord and deploy the canopy a couple times. Every time it just gets better and better and I wind up wanting even more.

Jordan, who has done both of my videos. I love both DVDs I got, and love showing them off to anyone who is interested. He has done a great job with filming and gotten some really good shots. I get a kick out of my first video every time I see it: the plane door opened for the first time and I don't even think, just shout "Oh no!"

I have talked with almost everyone there, and know some better than others, so if I haven't mentioned you by name, don't feel slighted. Everyone at AtmosphAir is responsible for the fun and friendly atmosphere, and a part of me is sad they will be closing for the season in a couple weeks.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

RI football team forfeights...before even playing!

To read the article, go to:

OK, my personal opinion on this is that it is just ridiculous. I mean, yes, you want students to be safe, but saying, there is no way in hell you can beat a team? How demoralizing is that? Yes, nine out of ten times, they will probably crush you, but anything can happen out there. They could have an off day, have slippery butterfingers and fumble the ball, interceptions - there is always a chance for victory.

What if the 1980 U.S. men's Olympics hockey team had said "man, those Russians are going to crush us, let's give up right now," and walked away? They never would have won the gold, that is what would have happened. (Plus we wouldn't have the inspirational movie, "Miracle")

Or what if UW-Whitewater had thrown in the towel? My freshman year there was the start of their five-year hot streak (and they are still on a roll). We were scheduled to play Linfield in the playoffs and everyone, including my father, said we were going to lose. And you know what? It was close, but in the end we won 44-41. And we continued to go on a winning streak until we lost to Mt. Union at the 2005 Stagg Bowl.

Mt. Union is also an excellent team, and we have faced them every year at the National Championships since 2005. And yes, they are good - they have won 10 titles since 1993. (They were national champions in 1993, 1996-1998, 2000-2002, 2005-2006 and 2008) But still, we managed to defeat them twice in the past five years - first in 2007, and then again last year, in 2009. Don't get me wrong, they were close, down to the wire, but we beat them 31-21 in 2007 and 38-28 in 2009.

So come on coach, give the kids a shot. After all, what kind of message is that sending to the kids? If you don't think you can win or succeed, don't even try? Personally, I think that is a pretty poor lesson. Besides, it's not life or death - it's football. So let them play, let they try. After all, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Remembering 9/11

To celebrate and commemorate 9/11, I decided to go skydiving…again. This makes for my third time, and it was the best to date. I'll admit, I had a moment of panic similar to the first time I did it. There I am, riding in one of their Cessna aircrafts, decked out in a hot pink skydiving suit, yellow goggles and an altimeter on my left wrist, so I am consciously aware of the increasing elevation. The plan is to do a couple line taps and then have me pull the cord to release the canopy.

As we get higher and higher, I remember looking out of the plane and thinking that the clouds looked to me like floating landmasses. They looked so solid, yet there they were, floating at 8,000 feet. Maybe it is the thinning air, but everything seemed clearer up there.

I remember being a nervous wreck my first time, and nervous yet calm the second time. However, when that door opened, panic set in, almost as bad as my first time, and I remember saying "oh no!" and thinking "I don't want to do this, put me down!"

I know, ridiculous, right? I survived twice, so why the panic attack? After all, I rappelled down a 13-story building for fun a couple weeks ago. But no, the moment that door opened, panic set in. So I hung on to my harness, put my foot out on the metal step outside the plane, and leaned forward out of the tiny plane with my eyes screwed shut. And the next thing I know, I'm faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaling………..

Keeping an eye on the altimeter, my tandem instructor has me do a couple line taps. Then, when my altimeter reads about 6700 feet, I reach back and slowly pull the line, deploy the parachute's canopy! And if that wasn't enough, I got to steer the canopy part of the way down too. I absolutely loved the speed when spiraling!

AtmosphAir will be closing for the season at the end of October, but before than I will be going once more, for my birthday - I turn 24 on Friday, Oct. 8.

I want to do some crazy stuff next time around - backflips out of the plane and whatnot, but we’ll see what happens.

If anyone else feels like joining me for some good, old-fashioned, crazy-ass fun, you're welcome to join. There is a $50 deposit due before the date, and then it will probably be around $150 due the day of, so roughly $200 total, depending on how many people will be jumping. Interested parties can also purchase a video of their skydive for $79.

Mark the date: 10.10.10.

Start time: 9 a.m. for jumpers - they only have one class in October, so be prompt!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Over the Edge

Given the chance, would you rappel 13 stories down the face of a building? That is exactly what roughly 40 people, including Cottage Grove resident Michelle Schmidt, did Wednesday, Sept. 1 and Thursday, Sept. 2.

Individuals had to raise a minimum of $1,500 each for Special Olympics Wisconsin for the opportunity to rappel down Madison's Hilton Hotel Sept. 2.

The unique event is the first new major fundraiser Special Olympics Wisconsin has initiated since the World's Largest Truck Convoy fundraiser in 2004.

Special Olympics Wisconsin President and CEO Dennis Alldridge said one challenge when putting the Madison and Milwaukee Over the Edge events together was finding a building where owners would let them set up the ropes system.

"Whenever you say 'we are going to have people up on your roof and we are going to have them rappelling down the side of your building,' we got a lot of 'oh really? I don't think we're going to do that,'" Alldridge said.

"The reason the Hilton here was very willing and accepting is they do training for the fire departments to rappel down the back of the building."

Although the main event was held Sept. 2, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Bucky Badger and various media personnel were invited to go Over the Edge free of charge on Sept. 1.

Van Hollen was the first to rappel down the Hilton Hotel for Over the Edge Media Day. Van Hollen is the former chair of the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, and his Department of Justice has volunteered to help with one of the activities or sports at Special Olympics since he was appointed attorney general.

"I have a great affinity for the athletes and all that they believe in and all that the Special Olympics does for them," the attorney general said. "So anything I can do for their cause, be it give them encouragement or publicity, is something I am very eager to do."

Other rappellers joining Van Hollen for media day included UW-Madison's own Bucky Badger, Karin Swanson of WISC-TV and Dan Simmons of the Wisconsin State Journal, among others.

Schmidt, a local agency manager for Special Olympics and one of the last rappellers Thursday, began her descent at 4 p.m. Despite signing up less than three weeks before the event, she managed to raise $1,775 for Special Olympics.

Schmidt has been involved in Special Olympics by volunteering and coaching for eight years.

"I just have way too much fun," she said. "I have more fun than the athletes, and it's something that just really keeps me grounded."

She said watching the athletes participate and the fun they experience when they learn and master a new skill is her favorite part.

"It's just really exciting to watch," she added.

Although she said the fist step off the edge of the hotel seemed unnatural, she felt good once she started her descent.

"You have no concept of time," she said. "I didn't even notice my fear of heights."

Alldridge said planning for next year's Over the Edge event started right away after the Sept. 8 Over the Edge event in Milwaukee. Next year he plans to go after sponsorships with other companies.

One possible idea is trying to work out a promotion with Ford's Ford Edge vehicle.

"We think there is a way that they could have a Ford Edge out here and maybe people who raise $2,500, they would get a Ford Edge lease for a month," Alldridge said. "Any corporations or entities that have anything to do with "edge" in the name we are going to go after next year. We identified them this year, but just didn't have a chance to do much with them."

Alldridge is looking into holding the event in mid-October next year, with the possibility for a toss your boss promotion. He expects the event will grow in size and be very large.

"It's going to be ginormous. These events, once you get the word out, people will see this and go 'holy cow, I would really like to do that. How do I get to do this?' Every event that has happened, the second year is the growth year, because it is so new and unique," Alldridge said.

"Plus, unlike the Polar Plunge, this event is a success with 50-75 people," he continued. "It might not be for everybody, but we'd say for cause-conscious thrill-seekers."