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The Geneva Shore Report
The Geneva Shore Report by James Strauss

He That Goes a Borrowing Goes a Sorrowing.

April 13th, Sunday morning at around three a.m. Lake Geneva thawed and the ice covering it turned into pieces so small they could have been formed into over a million snow cones. How do we know this took place in the early hours of the morning? Our senior editor lives on the lake and his sleeping habits are similar to those of a hoot owl. His surveillance equipment is also better than that of the NSA. We could have written, "Trust us," but our reputation proceeds.

Potbelly's, the terrific sandwich shop located in the northeast corner at the intersection of Cook and Main Street (right where the new traffic signal is going in) has some outstanding live entertainment. The kid's name is Joshua Patterson. He's new in town and playing at Potbelly's from eleven to one on weekends (for the summer, if there is one). Josh is a natural on acoustic guitar and his voice is pure and clear as the melt water from our wonderful lake.

There are legitimate reasons for the City of Lake Geneva to borrow money. These include such things as major investment items like a new sewer plant or new city hall building. They should not include recurring expenses or repair and maintenance items. The reason city management wants to borrow money for routine repair and replacement items is because city management sees borrowing as simply another form of income for the city. Borrowing frees up money that should be used for budgeted items instead allow it to be spent on other projects. All city income is thrown into one pot (The General Fund), and borrowed money is effectively no different. For example: borrowing money to do road repair later in the year is a direct result of the city taking $600,000 dollars from the State of Wisconsin (paid for highway purposes earlier in the year) and putting it into the General Fund. The money then gets spent on other projects and the city has to borrow to cover obligations it should have funded to pay all along.

Borrowing money and paying it back for a municipality is little different from citizens doing the same thing using credit cards. There are things that need to be done or purchased when liquid funds are not readily available. Some capital projects fit into this area, as well as certain kinds of emergencies. However, it is vitally important to set budget priorities appropriately to cover the normal needs any city might have. Spiraling taxes and debt are serious problems for our nation, states and cities. We don't need to add to them by borrowing money to pay for things we should have disciplined ourselves to pay all along.

Hey, Wil-Surge Electric won the bid to build streetlights on North Broad Street. They've never done business with the City of Lake Geneva so they were required to get a bond, not to guarantee their work or the price or the quality of their work but to insure that they start the work on the contract date. How fitting in these times! A little company from Butler, Wisconsin, that underbids the next lowest bidder by $87,000 gets a bond that is, for all intents and purposes, virtually worthless. They're bid came in lowest, but where were Lake Geneva's representatives thinking when they accepted it?

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:23PM on April 16, 2014

Sympathetic Detonation

When the opportunity arose to attend Explosives Ordinance Disposal classes appeared before me it took no time at all to pursue attending with some enthusiasm. I had already heard that the "disposal" part of the course descriptor meant almost nothing. The classes were all about how to create, arrange, place and ignite all manner of off-the-shelf stuff as well as how to put together junk normally found under the sink to interesting pyrotechnic effect. I had little understanding at the time that the course would have a lot to do with life itself.

Sympathetic detonation is a useful side effect of intense explosive release. The shock wave caused by a powerfully explosive substance is so strong and sharp that the waves of force tend to make any other ignitable or explosive substance nearby go up only a fraction of a second following the initial blast (or charge, as it's properly referred to). Physical explosions of substances aside, I was to learn that sympathetic detonation occurs all the time in society. It also occurs to similar effect as in the ordinance world.

I write this article as the Bundy Ranch out west in Utah has just come out from under federal siege. It would appear that Mr. Bundy violated grazing rules over the course of the last twenty years. His guilt or innocence in feeding his cattle on federally leased land isn't an issue here. What is of issue is what's happened since the government, through the offices of Bureau of Land Management, stepped in and began confiscating his herd (about 500 head) to pay for lease violations. Mr. Bundy shut down his ranch and barricaded himself and some friends inside while militia groups around the United States began to rally to his cause. It would seem that the BLM, like many other governmental agencies, from the IRS, Department of Energy, Fisheries and even the EPA have created, trained and fielded full-blown military-style SWAT teams.

Barricading is prohibited by SWAT law, or at least by a macho male belief system whereby a response to anything in the least resistant shall be met by tactics and procedures honed to perfection by General Sherman during his march to the sea during the Civil War. What can be the result of such policy implementation? Overwhelming force to submission, shock and awe. What else can happen? Sympathetic detonation. Bundy and his small crew are subdued with Tasers, Remington 700s and Barrett .50 sniper rifles. Tanks and recoilless rifles were ready to be employed, as they are readily stocked by these peaceful, public-serving governmental agencies.

One of the fundamental teaching principals put forward and consistently repeated during EOD classes was one of recognition of the things you don't know in any chain of explosive events. In the physical world of explosives, unless you have a one hundred percent certainty of how each element of the explosive chain is set up and will respond to 'stimulation,' you do not pull the fuse igniter and begin the assembled chain of fire. Finally, when a set of explosives is ready for demolition an independent range supervisor is called in for objective analysis, conclusion and approval for ignition.

Was the fuse igniter almost pulled at the Bundy ranch out in Utah, seemingly so distant from the rest of America? Was the massed anger of the extremely polarized American public considered? Our country is quietly seething with grief, anger and outrage over treatment so egregiously unjust as to boggle the minds of every class of society. We've had the banking thefts causing most of the country to descend into a vast unchanging sea of unemployment, home foreclosures and dying middle class. Add the offshore sale and operations of what once were vigorous "made in America" businesses. Include outsourcing to the point where no telephone service of any kind is provided by anyone other than people barely speaking English in countries thousands of miles distant. The final pull on the fuse igniter might simply have occurred because of the public's new understanding that there is no real difference between political parties. It is the independents, libertarians, democrats and republicans arrayed against the true mass of the unassembled and unrepresented public.

In order for sympathetic detonation to take place a fuse must ignite a supplementary charge big enough to create a significant shock wave set close enough to the main charge as to cause it to detonate. Could the Bundy Ranch situation served to be that supplementary charge? Is society tipped far enough to slip over and capsize into total disarray over such an event? If it isn't then when and where will that charge placement occur? For certain, the main 'social' charge simply continues to build in size and potential explosive force. While our government continues to spend time, money and effort in qualitatively honing and shaping the chain of events necessary to cause detonation the main charge continues to grow into nuclear proportions.

Quite possibly it was the mass media reporting on the buildup to go to war with Mr. Bundy and the gathered militia forces that swarmed to his ranch in reaction. In Washington D.C. the leaders of the country might have met to consider the true long term effects caused by previous confrontations (think Branch Dividians in Texas and the Ruby Ridge incident) and ordered the BLM to stand down from this one. Where will the next hot spot make itself felt? Will the massed anger of the country's unrepresented millions of very unhappy citizens detonate because of some future risk of sympathetic detonation?

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:19PM on April 16, 2014

Look Honey, No Pension.

Terry O'Neill, intrepid reporter for the Geneva Shore Report, does what he does best; investigate, analyze and then report. Here's a first glimpse about a future problem sneaking up on the City of Lake Geneva very quietly and slowly: Unfunded OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits). City auditors have routinely commented about Lake Geneva's unfunded OPEB, which is based on a 2008 actuarial study and lists the city's current unfunded OPEB Obligation at $1,748,473 and UAAL (Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability) of $3,081,962. According to the auditors: "We believe that the actuarial assumptions and methods used to measure pension and OPEB liabilities and costs for financial accounting purposes are appropriate in the circumstances." Lake Geneva city leaders have bought into this kind of explanation even though these figures are inaccurate, outdated and currently handle these obligations on a pay as you go basis, rather than properly funding them. What the city management is doing is giving current employees a retirement benefit and obligating future citizens to pay for those benefits instead of covering them with principal and return from investment of such principal. We, as a wealthy lakeside community, owe our loyal retiring employees retirement payments based upon current invested cash value, not payments based upon future promises that can be changed at a whim.

Unfunded pension liabilities are denying worker's pensions across the country and this kind of activity needs to be pointed out and stopped. The city's auditors may be pushing the city in that direction by advising the city's comptroller Peg Pollit to recommend that the City Council hire a consulting firm to perform a 2013 OPEB study so that the figures can be up-dated. However, if the city's just going to continue on a pay as you go basis, then it'll be a total waste of time and money. On the other hand, if the city is going to start to address this unfunded retirement benefit, then we are all in favor of funding the study, and then taking appropriate action to begin to establish proper funding for the OPEB. Every year that this 'pay as you go' stuff continues, it adds another $300,000 burden on the future citizens of Lake Geneva. The way to stop this nearly universal injustice to workers, who bought into civic promises of a fair retirement benefit, is simply to do the right thing in the right way at the local level. Before Lake Geneva builds parking structures, more parks or other entertainment facilities, the workers need to have their pensions fully funded.

Gayle Gygax, the surviving spouse of Gary Gygax (of Dungeons and Dragons fame), gets approval to build a statue in Flat Iron Park and permission to sell custom personalized bricks to pay for 25 years of maintenance. We like this decision, made by the city council last Monday night, but we wonder how many bricks can fit onto the one hundred square foot plot she's being allowed. After considering the area necessary for a pedestal for the statue, how many feet are left? Fifty or less? Let's say fifty feet are left. Three to four bricks will fit per square foot. Let's say four. That means, giving everything a very positive slant, that Mrs. Gygax can only sell about two hundred bricks. Even though we will volunteer to buy the first brick, we wonder how much money she can really raise using this kind of extremely limiting device.

William Mott departs city council service. Monday night was Mr. Mott's last night as an alderman. We will miss him. He has performed with sincerity, honor and duty throughout his service to Lake Geneva. We've disagreed with him plenty but we've always admired him. His idea to install a free tram to travel around the city, and even the lake itself, during summer months was (and remains) brilliant even if the idea fell on fallow ground. Thank you Mr. Mott!!!

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:19PM on April 16, 2014

Stop. Go. Slow Down.

A new 'automatic' traffic signal is being installed at the intersection of Cook and Main Street. We were among those that championed this new addition to urban efficiency. The traffic needs to roll smoothly through Lake Geneva instead of turning the city into one vast oozing parking lot (as in summer's past). The people currently installing these devices, when interviewed, had no idea who will adjust the timing of this device in order to integrate with the existing 'automatic' sets running up and down Main Street. This is a classic situation wherein cutting edge hardware is installed, but the software sits there without the owner's full understanding, comprehension or proper adjustment.

A yet unsigned Hwy "H" Maintenance Transfer Agreement between the City Of Lake Geneva and Walworth County is being presented to the City Council without ever being presented to the Planning Commission. This agreement has been arranged between the county and City Administrator Dennis Jordan with input from Dan Winkler (Public Works) and Dan Draper (City Attorney). To the best of our knowledge, neither the Planning Commission nor the City Council has been involved in any of the agreement negotiations. Walworth County has tried on several occasions to get Lake Geneva to assume a "repair and maintenance" transfer of Hwy H rights. Jordan and Winkler have handled all the negotiations and bypassing the Planning Commission and the city council. Alderman Bill Mott, Chairman of the Planning Commission, addressed this problem, calling the matter into question. Mr. Jordan's responded by stonewalling Mr. Mott. Alderman Mott resigned. Where does the Mayor stand on this issue? We have requested and received documents that have never been sent to either the planning commission or the city council. How can that be?

What's really going on with H Street (George Street running east to west in the City of Lake Geneva)? Why have the planning commission and the city council been cut out of the negotiation process? We think it's because of Hwy 50. Have you driven Hwy 50 since they rebuilt it last year? The state rebuilt the highway by skimming a few inches off the broken concrete foundations, and then pouring a couple of inches of asphalt over the top. Less than a year later Hwy 50 is a total mess (again) and is going to need a ton of "repair and maintenance." Get it yet? The county wants to do the exact same kind of inadequate and incompetent job on Hwy H, except this time all the repair and maintenance will be the responsibility of Lake Geneva. Our city council can't let this happen.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:17PM on April 16, 2014

The Warrior, Chapter 4

"Daryl, come inside." Parlon's insistent call came from the dark hole he and Nado stood before. She spoke quietly with no sign of detectable distress.

"What is it?" Nado breathed across to Daryl from one side of the opening, his head swiveling around to take in the unnatural arch with Tagawan perched atop its center. The strange symmetrical opening Parlon's call radiated out of yawned darkly before them.

"I don't know," Daryl answered, even though he could tell from Nado's tone that he wasn't really in search of any explanation, at least not from him. Unconsciously, he lowered his throwing stick, leaning it against one side of the arch base, then placing the special stone next to it, mentally filing a thought not to forget the remainder of the tube he'd left back near the pedestal when they'd rushed off in near panic. Whatever was inside the opening in front of them gave no indication of being a threat.

Both boys began gingerly stepping down, from solid stone step to solid stone step, the darkness below and ahead too deep to fully penetrate although they shielded their eyes in order to see as far as they could.

"Look at these stones, " Nado whispered, his voice lowered automatically, as they entered the dim still space. The steps were made from single slabs of some hard stone. Daryl knelt and rubbed his right hand across the surface of one. It was as smooth and unnatural as the huge monolithic stones forming the laid walls crossing the plateau at both ends of the ruins.

"Parlon?" he called, keeping his voice as low and quiet as possible.

"Here," came back clearly from just ahead, from through a slot in the stone as wide as Daryl's shoulder, not much taller than he stood in height.

Daryl and Nado stood on a flat stone surface just before the slot, after making their way down the steps. Daryl saw Parlon first, as a hazy shadow through the opening. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the near darkness. After of few breaths of time he saw her unmoving in slight relief, next to a wall made of a lighter material.

Looking down he could just make out the impressions of her footsteps in the deep dust. Carefully, trying not to disturb the fine powder already adding to the gloom, he placed one foot after the other and slowly made his way through the slot and directly toward her. He could hear Tagawan's occasional squawks behind him, growing ever weaker as he moved through the slot and deeper into the room with Nado right behind.

"What is this?" Nado's reverential whisper was filled with awe, as the unnatural flatness of the walls, floor and ceiling became evident, even in the near darkness surrounding them.

"In here," Parlon whispered, her voice subdued to little more than a hush. Her back was to them as they approached. With one hand she stroked the lighter surface of the wall before her, the vague whiteness of the rock a faint contrast to the gloom and dust all around them. Daryl peered closer, leaning to follow Parlon's slowly sweeping hand. Ornate carvings suddenly stood out from the wall, and he reflexively leaned back from their alien feel. Small and large holes, broken by short straight lines connected by curves ran across the full width of the wall in rows, filling its entirety. Almost unconsciously, Daryl's hand reached out to hover over the carvings, not touching the wall but running close to its surface.

The three stood together, enthralled.

"This has some kind of meaning," Daryl said, his hand finally pressing against the cold strange surface, his mind so numbed he didn't even notice Parlon's upper arm touching his own.

"Yes, there's meaning," she responded, their arms still touching.

"I've seen something like this before," Daryl remembered aloud, no longer speaking in a whisper. "I know I have." He moved his hand to his right temple. He rubbed his head gently as he thought, and then extended it out again to again feel the alien carvings.

"You've seen carvings in stone like this before? When? Where?" Parlon asked.

"More light. We need more light. A fire. We need a fire to see more," Daryl breathed, excitedly.

Nado held his arms in the air and began exploring the low ceiling with both hands. He then brought them down close to his face and smelled the tips of his fingers.

"What are you doing?" Parlon asked.

"No smoke," Nado replied, sniffing his fingers noisily again.

"Smoke? What smoke?" Parlon inquired, turning her head to face him directly.

"There's no smoke stains on the ceiling of this cave. How else can one make light inside a cave?" He pointed at the wall. "If light is needed to see the symbols then how did it get here if it wasn't brought in by fire? There's no smoke collected so they didn't use fire to make light."

"There had to be another way to see in the dark. Other than fire, I mean. There had to be." Nado said the words as if no other explanation was possible. "But there's no other way to make light."

Parlon didn't answer as she observed that Nado was no longer really talking to her, but to himself.

Daryl retreated back to the strange steps they'd come down to enter the underground room. He stood at the bottom step, just outside of the slot.

"Nado, come here," he called, squatting down to feel about near the sides of the narrower opening. Tagawan cooed happily, able to see Daryl from his position atop the arch running up and over the very top of the entrance to the opening. Nado joined Daryl and they examined the huge rocks together.

"These are two single stones, big cut slabs, one on each side." Daryl spoke as he struggled to lift or move one of the imposing rocks. Nado leaned down to help, but even together they couldn't budge either slab from where it lay.

The three of them climbed the steps to sit on one of the facing edges almost under the arch that crossed from one side of the opening before to the other several man-heights above their heads. Daryl examined the base of the structure where the arch intersected it. His eyes moved from one side to the other, amazed by the fact that the arch stood at all. The whole thing was made of hewn rocks arched through the air itself. Only the center blocks, cut in such a fashion as to hold the pressure of the others, which could not then fall directly downward, kept the arch up. The base of each side extended outward and split down into two prongs of stacked stones near the ground. Each stone was cut almost exactly like the rest.

"Nado," Daryl said, pointing, "those are the other ends of the stones. "See? Sticking out below the split bases on both sides." Nado looked from one side to the other, as did Parlon. Once in full view, it was obvious that the slabs were far too heavy for them to move, even if they all worked together. It was also obvious that the slot could be opened by pulling the slabs away from each other to expand the size of the slot.

Tagawan plopped down from the arch to walk atop the step near where Parlon sat. Absently, she poked the bird in its soft belly plumage with one finger. Daryl saw the move and was about to warn her off when he noted that the bird didn't react at all. He frowned, knowing full well that his own hand would have been bleeding by now if he'd made such a bold move.

"Strange bird," Parlon intoned, scratching deep into the animal's tummy feathers.

"Strange bird, indeed," Daryl whispered, but only to himself.

"We need a pole," Nado said, his brow knitted with his good elbow leaning to support his chin, which was cradled in his one good hand. He examined the slabs intently, from his seated position.

"A pole? What kind of a pole? And for what?" Daryl asked.

"Come on," Nado exclaimed, jumping up from his place on the step and trotting off. With a squawk Tagawan took to the air and flew behind him with Daryl and Parlon getting up to follow. Daryl recovered his throwing stick and special stone as he went. They ran, only stopping to pick up their leather tubes filled with throwing stones at the pedestal before running on. Soon they were back among the great pines near the edge of the clearing where they'd topped to view the ruins. Nado worked his way among the older fallen trunks until he found the one he was seeking. Borrowing Daryl's flint knife, he began to work away at its branches.

Taking turns, the three worked into early afternoon, hacking and scraping away to create a long pole near three man-heights in length. It took all of their efforts, and some considerable consumption of their water supply, to first smooth and then haul the rough pole back to the arch structure.

After one last rest at the top of the steps, they shooed Tagawan from the pole, inserted it between the two opposing slabs and eased the slot slowly further apart, hauling down small stones to insert as wedges between the slabs and end of the pole. Working one side against the other, using several discarded blocks from nearby structures for more leverage, they got the opening nearly as wide as the room itself. Daryl called a halt to their work and entered the room. He turned to smile at his friends.

The room was lit by the afternoon sun to such an extent that the symbols emerged magically from all sides. Each of the three walls was filled with the carvings.

"I don't know what we've found," Daryl observed, as all three examined the many markings, "but we sure have found something." He ran his hand over a single curved cut cascading dust down to the floor where it billowed a bit before settling.

"We've got to clean the place out to see properly," Parlon concluded.

The climb, the discovery of the artificial cave and the work to uncover the carvings had quietly melded the three of them into a different group than the one that had met at Tagawan's perch earlier in the morning. Gone were any awkward pauses or unfilled uncomfortable silences among them.

Nado worked at building small stacks of stones near the outer ends of the slabs so the pole could be used to lever the slabs back together, while Parlon and Daryl cleaned inside the cave. It was Nado's idea that the slabs should be forced to close, thereby sealing the room and preventing more dust and dirt from collecting.

He stood in the slot as Daryl and Parlon gently brushed dust and dirt from the symbol lines, one at a time.

"Do you see it?" Daryl asked, quietly. They stopped their work to look up at his backlit silhouette.

"See what?" Parlon asked, shielding her eyes against the sun coming from behind him.

"Up here. The symbol. Just like on the arch, but I didn't notice." Without saying anything further Daryl turned and walked out of the cave and back up the steps. Parlon followed, frowning as she went with Nado joining as they passed him. Daryl stood at the top of the steps, facing the opening under the arch that swelled above it.

"The symbol," he said, matter-of-factly, leaning back and staring up to view the front of the arch at its highest apex.

"Yes," Parlon breathed. "I see it." Deeply carved into the very top of the apex of the arch was a symbol. They stared at it for many breaths.

"It's the cave," Nado said. "He pointed up at the arch. Tagawan returned to his perch only a handbreadth from the symbol. He was obviously pleased with the focus of attention, as he billed, cooed and cleaned himself.

"It's a small cutting that looks like the front of the cave," Parlon agreed, while Daryl nodded his head in silence. The symbol was a curved arch with cross lines running down beneath it. Under that was a rectangular shape. It was a very small representation of the arch, the stairs and room at the bottom. None of the three had ever seen a visual representation of such a thing before. They could only stare at the symbol, take in the things it represented, and then return their eyes to the small carving, again and again.

"We've got to see more," Parlon said, after a while.

Mid-afternoon arrived while they worked at clearing the debris from the walls and floor of the room. Finally, Daryl called it quits.

"We have to get back to the village. There's much work to be done there. We're warriors now and Parlon is a claimed woman. We'll be missed. It's not like before."

"Okay," Nado replied, brushing a last pile of dirt onto the bottom step for Parlon to carry up and discard. He peered up toward the direction of the waning sun. "We need as much light as possible anyway, for your first descent." He turned to face Parlon as he talked. "It's easier to go back down in the afternoon because the light shines full on the wall. There won't be confusing shadows like what we had to deal with this morning, and the rock will be warmer."

Parlon frowned back at him, a skeptical look coming across her facial features.

"It's not easier to go back down, is it? She asked, in her very direct way. Her stare was unblinking as she waited. Nado looked guiltily over at Daryl who made himself busy propping the pole against the outside corner of the one of the slabs. Nado shook his head, not meeting her eyes.

"You can't see footholds or cracks below you on the way back down. That's the problem." Nado went on, "It's okay though because I know the way, even in full dark, and I'll be right below guiding your every move."

Unexpectedly, Parlon beamed a genuine smile back at him. "I wasn't really worried," Parlon responded before going back to her final clearing chore.

Nado looked over and met Daryl's eyes. Without changing expression they silently acknowledged their mutual inability to understand the girl from one moment to the next. Nado's idea to bring the slabs together proved to be less difficult a chore than he'd originally thought. Levering the slabs slowly back and forth made them easier to move. Once the dirt and dust was removed they saw that there was a narrow slot in the rock running under the length of each huge piece. The pole could be inserted and the stone moved a hand's length at a time instead of having to lever using inserted rocks. It was slow but easy work.

"If we found this, then somebody else might," Nado had argued, trying to convince Daryl to protect the special place. Daryl remained skeptical, as the entire ruins gave no sign any animal, other than birds, had visited in many solstices, as guano was everywhere. Eventually, and grudgingly, Daryl gave in to Nado's persistent but illogical argument. Parlon worked away, never having commented one way or another, while Tagawan complained about everything they did.

They stood at the top of the steps to admire their handiwork, having closed the stones to the point that there was only a single hand width between them. There was just enough room for the pole to be inserted for reopening.

"If the slabs had not been partially open I would never have noticed," Parlon revealed, "we'd never know what was there."

Daryl nodded, and then shook his head. "We still don't know what's there." He looked up at the twittering bird sitting atop the exact center of the arch, right over the small carved symbol. "What does it really mean?" he asked, shading his eyes with one hand as the sun shone directly behind the carefully fitted stones.

"Maybe it's like the one on the island..." Nado started, but did not get a chance to finish before Daryl broke in.
"Yes," Daryl responded, "it's similar, but that one was entirely different."

"What one on the island?" Parlon asked with a frown.

"Daryl found a huge rock carved with symbols like we saw in the cave when he was trapped on the island with the baby Mur," Nado answered.

"That means the island's linked with this ruins," Parlon said, more to herself than either of the boys. "But how? Why? What about the others?" she went on.

"Others?" Nado asked, his mouth hanging open. "What others?"

"If there are symbols carved into stones here and on the island then there are probably other places where they exist too," Parlon answered in a flat matter-of-fact tone.

Daryl and Nado stood looking at her for several breaths.

"There's more. Right here," Daryl said.

Nado sighed deeply, looking away.

"More symbols?" Parlon asked.

"No, something different. Come on," Daryl replied.

Silently, they trotted together until they reached the pedestal. After they arrived Daryl gestured toward it. "This is the different thing."

Parlon examined the pedestal for a moment, before using one hand to remove a thin layer of deep green moss from the top of its flat round surface.

"What is this?" she asked, quizzically, turning her head to view the small marks that ran around most of the edge of the circle. Daryl and Nado looked at one another, unsure just how many of their secrets they should reveal.

"We don't know," Nado said, hesitantly, as Daryl reached behind the pedestal base and retrieved the hidden cylinder of shiny metal. He inserted it into the hole in the pedestal top's center and moved Parlon gently back.
"Nado thinks it has something to do with the movement of the sun. See where the shadow crosses the edge of the circle?" Daryl pointed at a thin dark line. "The shadow moves that way as the sun goes that way if you wait long enough." His finger waved first down at the line and then up to where the sun shone brightly above the horizon.

"Maybe it shows where the sun is during the day?" Nado said, his voice filled with enthusiasm. "See, the sun is right there," he pointed at the dark think line on the pedestal top's surface, "where it is right now. Every day you could look at the pedestal and the line would be in the same place at the same part of the day." He looked up at Parlon's face to see if she understood.

"But you can look up at the sun and see where it is. Why would you need the pedestal, if you have the sun to look at?" Her logic was unassailable, as Daryl's had been in making the same observation previously. Nado's face fell.

"Yeah, I know. I'm thinking about it." He moved to pull the metal cylinder from the stone.
"What is that?" Parlon asked, entranced by the object's shiny yellow reflection.

"We don't know. We think it's some kind of metal, but it's not like anything we've seen before. The warriors have a few metal pieces, but we've only heard them described, and we've never heard of any metal like this. They keep metals hidden for ceremonial purposes." He dropped the object into Parlon's outstretched hand.

Parlon's fingers closed over it and her hand dropped noticeably toward the ground. "It's so heavy," she exclaimed, hefting the small cylinder up and down. "I like it." Both boys smiled at her obvious enjoyment. Nado carefully took the metal from her and replaced it behind and under the back of the pedestal base.

"You're a council member now. Can't you get to see the secret metal things the warriors have?" Parlon asked, bending down to examine the cylinder's hiding place.

"I never thought about it, but yes, I guess you're right." Nado paced back and forth for a bit, before going on. "Yes, yes indeed. That's a great idea. Why didn't I think of that?" he said, his voice becoming more and more excited. "Why didn't you think of having me ask?" he said to Daryl, but then went right back to pacing.

Daryl rolled up his eyes in exasperation. "Come on let's get back to the cliff." He led them along the winding path through the pines. Tagawan flew out ahead, swooping and cutting back, as if hurrying them along. They didn't run, instead moving at a brisk walk. The run through the blowing pines on the way to the ruins had become a one-way ritual. They always walked back when leaving the ruins. The climb down was challenging under any conditions and demanded all available strength and endurance.

They sat down on the great pines main jutting root, side by side, eating the remainder of dried meat strips and pounded root Nado carried in his leather supply pouch. The last of the water supply was consumed with the small meal, shedding any extra unbalanced weight for the climb ahead. The view from their position, high above the falls, was breathtakingly panoramic. The village was further upriver and tucked into one of its many curves. From their height individuals would not have been visible even if they had been able to view the structure. Only a faint plume of brown smoke could be seen to mark its location, as most family fires were never extinguished, even in summer.

Tagawan played in the drafts rising up just beyond the lip of the escarpment, flying first up with the warm rising air and then along into the gentle wind that flowed across the top of the plateau. The scene brought a near inability to speak, as they looked out to take it all in, silently passing the remainder of food and drink among them.

"Thank you," Parlon said, looking out toward the far cliff across the valley. "Thank you," she repeated, and then went on very softly, "for the best day of my life."

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:11PM on April 16, 2014

Draped in Draper

Television Series Review. Madmen. This cutting edge show, brought to the public by AMC channel, has been a phenomenon ever since it was introduced back on July 19, 2007. The seventh season opened on Sunday night but it opened with no fireworks, a dreadful bleak darkness for little purpose, and the characters either indulging themselves in hedonistic escape or stark lonely isolationism. Dan Draper's character, as brilliantly portrayed by John Ham, is the everyman phony who escaped from Korea by passing himself off as an officer who'd been killed in combat. He's been caught several times in his continuing portrayal of the long dead officer but nobody ever cares because he's so productive and successful. This underlying duplicity plays out through the entire series, with none of the characters exhibiting anything like true moral qualities or any ethics outside of mean-spirited selfishness. The misery of the show's thematic structure is what saves it. We all feel better about our own situations, as we watch these characters living in agony while proceeding through the late sixties failing at everything except making money. The show, in many ways, mirrors what's happened to the American capitalistic system today. Religion is no issue whatsoever, nor is any concern for the violation of law or the ruination of long-term friendships. If there's money to be made then these characters dive right into the deep end without preservers. Cold, dark, bleak and at times difficult to watch, but definitely riveting and vitally interesting. Four stars for devilish delivery.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 10:27AM on April 16, 2014

Assault & Architectural Battery

There is an assault of correctional staff housing architecture going on in Lake Geneva. What we at first referred to as the Hahman Taj Mahal and later the Mold Mahal has seemingly become Lake Geneva's newest prison complex, or at least the warden's residence of such a hidden complex. In Provide Nya, Russia a gulag was built inside sewer pipes underground (see past issue chapters of The Bering Sea in serial form) running right under the Commissar's residence. We have no clue as to the complex of pipes that might be spreading out under this imposing Hahman facility on Main Street. The biggest indicators of its seeming new purpose are the gray metal roofing and bulletproof windows. We know they're bullet proof because when we tried to break in one night and our hammer kept bouncing off the glass. Seriously, what an awful look for a structure so close to downtown Lake Geneva.

The Hahman's must be Evangelical Lutherans, not that religion matters much these days. The 'tell' is apparent from the Lutheran's choice of roofing and glass. The new Lutheran church, opening on Edward's Boulevard near the car wash (church goers of this evangelical sect are known for their cleanliness), is using the same homogeneous armor plate, in the same color the Hahman's are using, for its roofing. We don't know about the glass in that structure, as our X-Files investigators live in fear of Lutheran's to about the same extent, as vampires fear wooden stakes, so we can't get them to move closer to the structure to test it.

Hooray, Tigger, the rescue dog from the Lakeland Animal Shelter, featured in our last issue, has been adopted! A wonderful woman adopted him. She's now a volunteer at the shelter. To go along with that story, a new dog has arrived in Lake Geneva. His name is Spanks and you may see him around one day soon. The owner of Spanks was down in Florida on vacation when she saw the dog running from its former owners. Spanks had been badly beaten. She stopped her car and backed the owners down. She put the dog in the car and took him to a vet where she paid six hundred dollars to stitch and heal him up. The owners called the police and reported her whereupon she was given a summons to appear in court. The judge turned out to be a fair woman and dismissed the case, but only on condition that the defendant (our Lake Geneva rescuing woman) takes ownership of the dog. And so it came to be that a woman who didn't want a dog and had never owned a dog now has one. Spanks, is doing fine. More reports will be published, as the dog fully recovers. If you see Spanks around, he lives way up Williams Street at the top edge of town, say hello and welcome. The Geneva Shore Report offered to reimburse the woman for the six hundred she spent fixing him up but the kindly woman wouldn't accept the money. The dog has won her heart and six hundred bucks is nothing compared to the size of this woman's heart.

What local bank? We don't need no stink'n local bank! And we don't have one. Talmer wasn't one, after going through today's normal amalgamation process of little local banks being sucked into big national banks and then acting local. Talmer now becomes Town Bank and Trust, another multi-billion dollar behemoth, out of Rosemont, Illinois. Town Bank considers itself a community bank. It's a community bank in the same sense that Chase or Bank of America are community banks.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 10:01AM on April 16, 2014

So Wrong It Was Good

The Lake Geneva "Pillar of Salt" investigation, without end. Otherwise known as the great black hole mystery. What happened to the investigation, as it was to be released by Wisconsin's Attorney General this week? Well, it was released. Released to supervisors. The A.G. didn't lie. They don't do that at the Attorney General's office in Madison. Nope. Never. Not one time. They released the investigation to supervisors, who have to review the charges and also just what of the investigation will be released to the public. The public part is where the Geneva Shore Report comes in. You come in there too. The supervisors are set to release everything (really?) next week. At least we have confirmed that there are going to be charges, even though that's not the part we're waiting for. We'll stand by in our next issue to report whom the supervisors are going to release the investigation to next.

So we were wrong, or is it that we were so wrong? What were we wrong about in the last issue?

1. We were wrong about the property housing the business called Bistro 220. It didn't sell, no offer was signed and nobody seems to know what the asking price for the place was because the realtors involved were too busy yelling at the Geneva Shore Report (about being uninformed idiots) to get around to discussing that. We apologized. We were wrong again. We take everything back we said about Mr. Kocourek. No, we can't do that because he's that nice a guy we described. However, we don't know if he's going to acquire that building. Secretly (shut up, or we'll be writing another awful retraction next week), Mr. Kocourek offered $570,000 for the place but hadn't heard anything about the offer being accepted yet.

2. We were wrong about the nursing/assisted living article we wrote dealing with Lake Geneva voting. That complex behind the Chevy dealership in District Three doesn't have 400 people housed, in residence, renting or otherwise occupying it. The number is less but such data is privileged and we are not the kind of newspaper that's going to invade a privilege. Those people vote and send their ballots in or go to voting places. Only two nursing homes have votes picked up by the City Clerk. There's nothing wrong with people in nursing homes voting. They have full citizenship rights, although we've heard there were six votes in this last mayoral election for FDR. Taft only got one. Make of that what you will. We still apologize.

3. Our photo of the Fontana police chief talking seriously to one of his officers was also wrong. He was not touching her cheek with his upraised right hand. He was pointing at something nobody else could see. That the officer in question is an exceptionally cute blond has no bearing on anything and we take all that back too.
The continuing saga of the new parking structure's date with referendum infamy coming to Lake Geneva late in 2014. The City of Lake Geneva came to us with some complaints about our coverage of what it's up to regarding the new parking structure. Apparently, until the referendum is in writing, we won't know all the details of how the city wants to proceed, unless we make things up. We reported that the new structure, if built, would pay for itself in about twelve years. The city claims less, but we don't know how much less at this point. We reported that the structure would cost six to eight million dollars but the city claims less. Although the structure would be four stories high it will not rise over other downtown buildings according to their preliminary plan, as we wrote. We scratch our heads over their conclusion on that one but are willing to wait for the referendum. We claimed that only 140 spaces would be added by the structure but the city claims over two hundred net new revenue producing spaces. We're also willing to concede that those in favor of the structure, as it's been loosely described so far, are indeed well aware of, and approving of, just how ugly such a centrally located behemoth will likely be. We firmly respect and apologize for their stand on that point too.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:50AM on April 16, 2014


The angle, the lean, the slant and the reality. Those things are all the same. We cannot know reality as other intellectually equipped creatures know it because we are creatures living forever steeped in our own perspective. To be color blind, living in a world where almost all other humans see many colors helps illustrate this point. A person who is not colorblind can accommodate one that sees no color merely by watching a black and white television set. The colorblind person can never see the other world of many colors however. Perspective is damaged by a genetic anomaly. Most of our views, beliefs and opinions are not generally so isolated by such genetic occurrence. Most or our neural development is based upon those things we've been exposed to, filtered by the different abilities we were born with. The color blind person isn't exposed to color, so can never truly understand a part of the world so influenced by it. This analogy helps to understand life.

Our lives are built up our own experience and those accepted experiences handed down to us in all the different forms of what we call the arts. We no more accept those things we experience as being 'true' than we do those things we read, see on television or other mediums. We filter the material using the entire body of our life experience gained to the point of such contact. The more isolation from life we experience the more our view of what is reality will become more limited than those living in and around active society. We see the results of this by watching the actions of very wealthy individuals in our own culture. The Koch brothers use their huge fortune to influence society in ways that seem totally selfish, cold and uncaring to most of the public. They don't do this because they are any of those things. They do it because they have lived in cocoons of self-imposed isolation so long that the definitions of cold, selfish and uncaring have become blurred and lost to them.

We observe phenomena (all experience) by possessing sensory equipment that measures vibrations. We only measure vibrations. Our eyes measure the wavelength of light in all its variations (giving us color capability because color is what our brains interpret as light traveling faster or slower), our ears measure sound waves, our sense of smell measures the number and type of atoms emitted by substances of all kinds, touch measures the movement of atoms in everything we physically contact around us and taste measures emissions very similar to smell but subtly different. How we measure these things varies only minimally. How we process the results of these measurements differs wildly. Did the car involved in the traffic intersection go through a green light or a red one? Ten witnesses will give many more than two opinions about that even though the car had to get hit going through one or the other.

Education is the most important element in helping us as humans to accommodate and recognize the 'real' world from the mythical construct formed accidentally by the effects of physics around us and deliberately by human beings with motivations not supportive of our own. Through formal and informal education we come to be able to accept life experience as communicated from people who've gone before us. Education gives humans raw data in amounts that could never be accumulated by any single living creature. By placing our nation's number one priority on education America could rapidly overcome the culturally damaging effects of anti-science, Luddite and creationist followers. If reality is left to be interpreted by our individual brains then those brains can make decisions based upon more than the input of complex waves and particles. The collective power of gathered minds expressing through the course of history can be used instead of the intentions of a controlling few isolated and wealthy intellects or the regressive applications of belief systems long found to be completely disproven and potentially terminal to our culture.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 11:21AM on April 09, 2014

Not a Chance

Spring has taken off its sheepskin coat revealing a wool vest. Cool weather replaces the frigidity of Southern Wisconsin's fiercest winter in forty years. One would think, at looking at the broad expanse of thick ice covering the lake, that all recreational activity had ended until the ice is fully melted. It's not thick enough to safely ice boat on, and it's not thick enough for boats to break through. Think that's it? Not a chance. The fire departments of Fontana, Town of Linn and Lake Geneva responded on Monday afternoon to save two people who were kayaking around the lake. Yes, kayaking. It seems that the waters of the lake are thawed from the shore to about ten feet out to the ice, some places more and two kayakers figured they'd have a go at paddling around. The Lake Geneva Police Department sent out the swamp boat at seventy miles per hour to the event. The event that turned out to be a non-event. The kayakers made it to shore in Fontana with more than fifty public safety employees waiting to greet them.

Another clerk working at the front counter at the City of Lake Geneva municipal building has quit. She stayed about two months before happily moving on. What is going on at the very center of our Lake Geneva municipal government? Why do we keep hearing rumors from that vicinity on a near daily basis? We have a huge investigation to consider (soon, we so hope), and the resignations of all the people who've left over the past six months.

Fontana has a TIF fund too. The four letters together (tiff) stand for "take it for free." TIF funds are actually additional taxes levied on top of regular taxes and are there to be used to fix 'blighted' areas. The actual use of TIF money all around the lake has been slowly but surely eroded away from that requirement. Blight can be the lack of a skateboard park in Lake Geneva! Yes, the half million dollars to build the park was TIF funded. In Fontana, the trustees sit there befuddled because TIF money was used to loan money to the owners of the Abbey. The Abbey? What sort of definition of blight is that? When queried, one of the trustees said we were in error about what TIF is for. The trustee said that TIF money was for distressed property. We got it. The Abbey is not blighted, it's distressed. Fontana is looking for a citizen to sit on the TIF board so they can extend the TIF collection period from twenty-seven years to thirty-seven. We heard that the next meeting of the Fontana TIF board is set for some time in May and will be held at an all- night session at the Oneida Casino.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 11:21AM on April 09, 2014

The Warrior, Chapter 3

Nado began the climb with his usual dexterous maneuvering, using his crippled arm, loosely strapped across his chest to steady or even sometimes grasp a corner or outcrop. However, rather than the usual unremitting drive upward, this time he had only gone a short distance before he stopped, peering down across the back of his left shoulder.

Parlon looked at Daryl who nodded. Stiffly at first, sometimes pausing for as many as two hands worth of breaths, then more smoothly and quickly, she worked her way up until she was just below Nado's soft leather foot wraps. Daryl shaded his eyes with one free hand and met Nado's glance. He waved briefly with a smile. Nado frowned.

They were in the mist. It would be several minutes before they were above it. The rock surfaces were wet to the touch but the stone was of such a nature that it wasn't slippery. The water seemed to absorb most of the moisture leaving no residue.

The three of them worked the face back and forth across the many ledges, most of which were created in the earth move that so changed all their lives. Prior to that cataclysmic event, the face had been almost unbroken throughout its nearly endless expanse, with little more than small vertical cracks on its smooth surface. Since the earth move vegetation grew atop the narrow ledges and pine trees took root in occasional deeper fissures. All of the plant growth helped them in their ascent, but the single greatest benefit they received was from what Nado and Daryl learned on previous climbs. Over time, Nado subtly changed the course of the climb to include more lateral moves wherever opportunities appeared. Daryl came to realize that such subtle changes added little, if any, time to the climb. It wasn't as necessary to stop and rest so often. The safety factor was also increased dramatically, particularly when coming back down the face, or when they climbed in low light. Nado was the true pathfinder of the final section of cliff face that led to the very top. He made an uncountable number of experimental small expeditions to each side of their original course, several times having to be assisted out of a difficult situation by Daryl and, for what it was worth, Tagawan.

The bird flitted back and forth around them, seeming to lead the climb, landing on outcrops or ledges just before Nado reached them, and then diving off in suicidal plunges before squawking into recovery and flapping back to where the three slowly continued to work up the stone face.

Once, when Tagawan squawked loudly right near Parlon's head, she stopped her progress and looked down with slitted eyes to where Daryl climbed just below.

"Yes, he can be a terrible pest," Daryl said, "but he means well."

A breeze began blowing, as they were midway through the ascent. The sun was a long way from mid-day so they continued working in the shade provided by the escarpment itself. Only one place, a ledge jutting out far enough to sit on and wide enough for all three of them, allowed for a true rest. Fortunately, it was situated not too far below the last difficult traverse and the final cleft to the top. Nado carried their water in a sweating leather sack. Parlon drank deeply. Both boys were accustomed to making the entire climb without rest or refreshment, but they were very sensitive to how difficult the first attempt had been for each of them. Daryl thought about how he hadn't been at all certain that he'd ever get back down the face on that first ascent, unless it was in a form similar to one of Tagawan's dives but with a much messier landing at the bottom.

They began the final ascent after their short break. Nado detailed their coming route to Parlon, repeating his warnings about never looking down while making the climb. The short remainder of the journey was the toughest, and Parlon had neither the conditioning nor the long practice afforded the boys.

Once well onto the traverse, moving from one thin ledge to another, Daryl realized with relief that Parlon was going to make it. Her long thin legs gave her a genetic advantage in climbing. Where Nado had to jump fissures across thin air and Daryl was forced to stretch mightily, Parlon took them almost as part of her natural stride. The trick in negotiating the cleft near the top, so long ago discovered by Nado, served her nearly as well. Where Nado had to jump up and twist around to catch an extended pine root above him, Parlon could grasp it while standing and turn her torso to accommodate the strange angle with a simple turn of her supple body. Daryl moved up behind her as she made her move, using his back and shoulders to boost from below until she was over the lip.

Once on top the three of them sprawled upon the soft needle bed formed by the single giant pine leaning out over the grand expanse of the valley below. They remained on their backs without speaking for many breaths. Parlon was the first to rise and approach the edge. She stood with one hand braced against the largest outthrust branch of the tree, her foot wraps curled over the solid stone edge of the lip. She peered directly down the face they'd just ascended. First Nado, and then Daryl joined her, standing a few hands back from the lip and looking at one another behind Parlon's back. Daryl saw the expression of surprise on Nado's face. They didn't have to say anything to one another, as they both knew that they were thinking the same thing. It'd taken quite some time, and several climbs, before either of them had been able to approach the edge so bravely and peer directly down into the great depths below. Parlon stood staring down with open pleasure and without fear.

"How do we get back down?" Parlon asked, quietly. Tagawan squawked from his position near the top of big pine, as if in response, and then fell to twittering happily to himself while using his beak to groom some of his wing feathers.

"Stupid bird," Nado whispered.

"There's only one way down," Daryl answered. "and it's the exact same way we came up."

"The way back down is easier than coming up," Nado lied. "After all, it's down, so you won't get as tired," he added weakly, glancing over at Daryl. The climb down was more difficult than the climb up because footholds had to be felt for rather than seen before using them. There was no need to inform Parlor of that until later, however.

"It's so beautiful," Parlon whispered, appearing to momentarily forget about the eventuality of their later descent. The three stood together shoulder to shoulder. Nado and Daryl knew well the hypnotic paralysis the panoramic view induced. They'd reacted identically to Parlor and they did so again. The very same words had come from Daryl's mouth that first time, and he'd been alone.

The day was perfect with the sun shining fully upon them. The wind blew lightly, as it almost always did on the summit, and the sound of the whirring needles of the pine was a calming addition to the experience. Below, the great falls, which had thundered so loudly below, was silent, too far down to be heard unless you put your ear to the stones near the lip. The huge cloud of white mist was a whitish ball no larger than two fists pulled together. But, from the high expanse of their position, something else slowly caught Pardon's attention. It had taken Nado and Daryl together to figure out what it was.

"The far wall," Parlon said, raising her right hand to point outward, "It's a far wall, like this one but so distant. What lies beyond it?" Nado and Daryl exchanged surprised looks. Viewing the expanse of the valley below, with its winding river, narrowing as one looked upriver and then expanding as one looked down river to near invisibility, eventually required the single conclusion Parlon voiced. Hunters returning from a distant hunt would occasionally speak of the valley as a true valley but the other villagers, unable to see the far wall from their side of the river below, only knew of it's existence from such stories.

"There are many surprises ahead," was all Daryl could think to reply. He knew that some of the coming revelations could only be shown. They were simply too unbelievable to explain and too difficult to describe.
"Lets go," Nado said, after they had stood staring back out over the valley for many breaths. As they turned, Tagawan leaped from his pine perch high and dived down to precede them. Nado broke into an easy trot and began their journey through the smaller, but still toweringly high, pines that formed a small forest running up and down the center of the top of the plateau. The weaving way through the gently swaying trees had become almost a beaten path. The bird led, flying down low, as the branches of the central pines didn't reach out until almost a single man-height above even Parlon's head. Tagawan squawked and flitted back and forth above them while staying just below the hanging branches. They ran lightly over the flat bough floor, cool wind and the whispering pines making their movement easier and almost magical, compared to such travel below.

After a few minutes they reached a solid wall completely blocking the path. The bird landed with a flaring squawk and sat atop one of the central carved stones. Just under a single man height, the wall was low enough for Daryl to leap atop it in one great bound, squatting down as he landed. He turned with a smile, as Nado scrambled up, and then from one knee, he extended his right hand down to help Parlon mount the substantial low wall. She allowed herself to be pulled up, but then dropped immediately to her knees and began to rub the lichen-covered smoothness of the flat stone top.

"What is this?" she whispered, her hands taking in the sharp squareness of the block's edges. She touched her fingers to one of the seams and let out a small sound of surprise. She tried to insert a finger into the crack, but the fit between the massive stones was too exact and tight for anything as thick as a finger. Nado and Daryl smiled at one another. Her reaction was more in keeping with the awe and shock they'd expected to see back at the top of the escarpment.

"Its a wall." Daryl said simply, knowing that the discussion would not stop there, and Parlon didn't disappoint.
"This isn't of nature," she started slowly, realizing the import of what she was saying. Her hesitation was only for a few breaths. "If it isn't of nature then villagers must have made it. But no, that just isn't possible. These stones were cut somehow. What can cut a stone this big?" The villagers used other stones to wear away at such hard rocks, but only to make things on the scale of hand hatchets or small grinding tools.

"Is this the ruins you spoke of yesterday?" she asked.

Nado laughed out loud. "No, this is only the first part of the ruins. Actually, it's a very small part. You'll see." He smiled down at her upraised eyes, but he could see she really didn't believe him.

"More, there's more?" asked.

"C'mon," Daryl said in response, as he and Tagawan leaped from the far side of the wall at the same time. The bird squawked while Daryl whooped, once more running fast among the lush pines. With Nado and Parlon following close behind, he didn't slow until just before the main body of the ruins. Although located high atop the slim plateau, the ruins occupied many times the size of the entire village proper located down in the valley.

Daryl approached the edge of the ruin area, looking out to the broad open expanse where the central pedestal stood to the right, while the old buildings formed debris covered mounds to his left and front. He stopped and waited. Tagawan flew right on to the pedestal, where he landed and began his normal cleaning ritual, as if he was on his own perch far below.

"This is the ruins," Daryl indicated to Parlon, sweeping his right arm from one side of the structures across to the end of the flat stone covered clearing he and Nado called the central area.

Nado started toward the pedestal but Daryl caught him by the arm.

"It's too soon to try to explain a mystery of that complexity," he whispered. Daryl led Parlon toward the robed stone figure that stood at the opposite side of the clearing, the same one the boys had used for throwing stone practice before they realized what it was. From a distance, the figure seemed only a high tree stump covered with many solstices of thick lichen and moss. The extended arm of the statue, holding the hanging stone ribbon, looked like a small branch sticking out of its side.

They approached the stone figure but Parlon's attention was on the large individual mounds that had changed from mounds to obvious structures made from the same, but much smaller, hewn stones she'd examined with such wonder on the wall blocking the path.

"Look," Daryl said, drawing Parlon's attention back to the statue. With one hand he cleared off some of the clinging moss, revealing the green stained, yet very smooth stone of the statue's outstretched right arm. Parlon leaned close, until her eyes were less than half an arm length from the surface. Her eyes widened, then she ran backwards a few steps, her eyes round and staring intently while her mind trying to take in the enormity of what she was seeing.

"What is it?" she whispered before answering her own question. "It's a figure of a person cut from stone. Why would anyone do that? How could anyone do that?"

"We don't know," Daryl answered.

"I didn't believe you, not really, until now," she said, at last.

"Why'd you come all the way up here then?" Nado asked, after a moment.

Parlon looked at Daryl. "I came up just to see if you could really climb the wall," she said, then her chin jutted briefly toward Nado, "you and your little friend. I can't believe you made the climb. I can't believe any of this. But I do."

"We," Nado murmured to Parlon.

"We?" she responded.

"We made the climb. You were with us."

"Come on Nado, lets show her the rest," Daryl said to Nado. "Let's not forget the first day we were here. Let her have some time." The boys had discussed many times the shock they'd experienced when they'd realized that the ruins had to have been built by beings much like themselves, only so far in the past that it was not possible to have any understanding.

Even worse, they'd concluded that the ones whom had gone before possessed a considerable higher form of expertise in almost every area of life. That this contradicted completely what the Shaman taught everyone in the tribe had created some of his or her first discomfort with the man. They never mentioned any of what they found with the tribe since those earlier days of childish revelations.

There was never any argument between the boys about the issue of the superior culture that had come before. The evidence just glared at them every time they were in the ruins. Not their village, nor any they had heard of, compare in the slightest with what existed on the plateau. The tribe had either fallen far for unknown reasons or not existed at all during the time when the ruins were vibrant and powerful.

They walked with Parlon in silence through a small portion of the shambling structures. Daryl explained that it was as if each person or family had had a structure all of his or its own. The thought of such grand capability brought silence between them. Finally, Daryl let her continue exploring on her own and returned to the pedestal device across from the statue, where Tagawan perched, waiting patiently, squawking a few times to welcome him back.

"Little friend?" Nado murmured audibly to himself, but couldn't get Daryl to respond to his complaint. "I'm tall for my solstices. I really am," Nado continued to grouse while Daryl took out his hollow stones and selected the lightest.

He mounted the special stone on the end of his throwing stick and then reared back and hurled it into the side of part of one of the abandoned structures they had laboriously stacked there on a previous trip. The noise caused Tagawan to depart in a flurried rush and take up a position in the one of the higher pines nearby. It also brought Parlon back to see what caused the sound.

Nado frowned at her presence, but then turned to place a stone at the end of his own stick. He extended his arm fully and then bent his body backward like a bow. The stick nearly touched the ground behind him before he let his am and body snap forward. The stone traveled the short distance to their makeshift target in an instant, shattering against the flat rock, sending pieces flying in all directions but leaving the larger ones in a small pile at the base.

Nado ran foward to the impact site, fell to his knees and sifted through the debris.

"I've got it," he breathed out in an excited voice. Tagawan replied with a distant squawk high from his overlooking perch in the pine. Daryl walked to Nado, while Parlon stayed back.

"What is it?" she asked, but made no move to join them.

Daryl didn't answer, as Nado dropped the largest crystal either of them had yet seen into his open palm. It was a clear crystal, as thick as a thumb, and filled most of his open palm. The large flat surfaces of the crystal's sides were divided by edges so straight and sharp that Daryl felt they might cut his palm if he closed his hard enough. The hand-length crystal ended with one jagged edge. The other end was exactly the same five-triangles-leading-to-a-point as the crystal that hung about Parlon's neck. The large crystal was almost as odd as some of the things they'd discovered among the ruins, but this object he knew to be of nature.

Daryl closed his hand with the pure clear stone still in it, and shook his head only very briefly when Nado looked over at him.

Parlon approached. "What is it?" she asked again, except this time her voice had recovered its more normal and imperious tone. Swiftly, Daryl scooped up a small handful of the smaller and shorter crystals.

"These," Daryl turned before opening his hand to display the small stones while his other hand casually inserted the larger crystal into his knife pouch.

Parlon didn't try to touch the objects; instead her hand immediately went to the pendant suspended by a leather thong at her throat.

"Yes," Daryl said, with a smile, "this is the origin of your own crystal. I gave you it to you because it was the most special thing Nado and I ever found."

Parlon smiled but said nothing, leaning down to examine the other remains of the hollow stone collision with the stacked rock slabs. She nodded her head, and then walked back toward the structures to continue her examination. They stood silent until she was lost to sight between two moss-covered walls.

"Why did you tell her anything?" Nado asked, but didn't wait for Daryl to answer, before going on. "Why didn't you show her the stone? And why did you have here come up to our ruins, anyway?" He squatted down beside the stone slab, shaking his head. "Disaster. This is going to be a disaster...and that's if we somehow manage to get her back down the wall. If she doesn't make it back down then we might just as well both jump from the top of the rim, because we'll never be able to go back to the tribe."

Daryl retrieved the large crystal from his knife pouch and held it up to the soft light shining down through the pines. Tagawan descended to land on the nearby pedestal, the sparkles bursting forth from the crystal causing him to twist his head back and forth, twittering softly. Daryl handed the brilliant stone to Nado.

"Well, at least Tagawan approves," Nado smiled as he said the words.

Sometimes the way Nado approached problems amazed Daryl. Almost as if there was no prospect for success or any kind of positive result. He himself was slowly coming to realize that each problem they were presented with usually had as much opportunity and adventure trapped within it as cataclysm and misery. Even the earthmove and great wave had affected many things in a very positive way. The tribe never worried about water anymore. The events caused them to build and move into the stone structure, where life was much improved. And the face of the escarpment had been slightly rearranged allowing for climbing and for their very presence there.

"Seems a waste to give this to Huslinth," Nado whispered. Daryl frowned and took the stone back from Nado's hand.

"She's here because it seemed right," Daryl said, gently, answering Nado's earlier question while tucking the crystal back into the pouch and double knotting its securing thong. "And if it wasn't the right thing to do..." he let the words hang for a moment, "then how did she come to be up here?" They hadn't spoken of the climb. Parlon, on her first ascent, had made the difficult passage without complaint; any real need of assistance and without expressing fear at all. "I didn't show her the big crystal because I'm not sure what we're going to do with it yet," Daryl went on, "and I think you know why I told her about the throwing stones." He stopped talking, having spoken his last words like a question, knowing that Nado wouldn't just let his comments pass without expressing one of his deep thought conclusions.

"Because we're already trusting her with so much more?" Nado answered, instantly. As usual, his answer surprised Daryl. He'd thought that his friend would conclude that the future marriage of he and Parlon might be more of the deciding issue, but after a moment of thought he had to admit that once more Nado was the deeper thinker.

They watched Parlon flit in and out of narrow corridors between the structures, the sun high, the pines murmuring and Tagawan occasionally taking flight to check on Parlon's progress, before returning to his perch with a squawk. Both boys sat down with their backs pressed into the stacked target slabs.

"What of our other problems?" Nado asked, trying to poke one fingernail between the flat stones upon which they sat, but having no luck. They were cleaved impossibly flat and straight and fit together with only a barely visible line.

"We're a poor tribe and, I suspect, a small one," Daryl said to his friend. "Compared to the other tribes upriver, we have little, if we're to believe our warrior brothers at all. We don't even have much of anything to trade, unless it's our own food brought in from hunting." Daryl turned to look at his friend when he finished, but Nado merely returned his stare with a quizzical expression, one eyebrow upraised.

"Our problems are greater than I would ever have thought before coming here, no matter what happened with the earthmove or even the Mur. Look around us." His arm swept quickly to take in the ruins around them. "We have nothing approaching what we see here, and we don't have any idea of how it was all made." He pointed at the line Nado had been attempting to penetrate with his finger. "How was this stone cut, because it was cut, and it was cut by someone like us, a very long time ago. And how was it carried? This stone didn't come from up here on the plateau. Do you know what that means?" Nado simply shook his head, his expression having changed to one of surprise at hearing his friend speak so long and in such an impassioned manner.

"And what of that statue? What does it mean? And why would anyone make a villager of stone? And the pedestal, with its unknown special metal at its top. What is it?" Finally, Daryl lapsed into silence, only the bird's constant self-attention to grooming making any sound audible above the wind. A moment went by before Nado responded.

Nado considered for a few breaths of time. "I understand that this is a wondrous place, but what do we do about our own troubles in the tribe?"

Daryl smiled. "These are our troubles in the tribe. We're warriors now. You're even on the council. The Tribe's troubles are now our troubles and we have to help it recover."

"Recover?" Nado almost yelled the question he was so surprised. "Recover from what?" He held both hands shoulder high, hands turned up in question.

"I don't know," Daryl said, quietly. "Whatever caused this place to be abandoned? Whatever caused the beings that lived here to either leave or forget the things that they knew. Whatever caused these villagers to lose everything is our problem and the Tribe's problem."

"But what good will that do?" Nado asked, perplexed.

"Look at us Nado," Daryl said in a low and forceful tone, and then looked deep into his friend's eyes. "Whatever caused this place to lose everything caused our Tribe to lose everything."

They sat looking at one another, unblinking for many breaths.

"I don't understand you at all sometimes," Nado said, after awhile. "With that girl...Parlon...you seem as dumb or dumber than that stupid bird. But then you talk about something like this..." he paused, obviously having a hard time either forming the proper phrase or in saying the words at all, " you seem smarter than me."

Daryl bit off a smile, somehow managing to keep a straight face. He doubted if he would ever hear his arrogant headstrong young friend ever again make such a deprecating admission.

"What makes you think the our village came from this one?" Nado went on.

"I'm not sure," Daryl replied, truthfully. "Its a deep strong feeling. A feeling like this is home. The village just seems like a place to stay, in comparison." He looked over at Nado for some kind of response and saw the boy nodding hesitantly, looking about, and then nodding faster and deeper.

"I don't know if you're right, but I feel as you do. Of course we are going to have just a little bit of difficulty ahead. The Shaman, the Chief, your father and the senior warriors. They aren't exactly easy to convince about anything, much less something as wild and strange as all this."

Before they had time to consider the import of Nado's words, there was a distant female cry from far within the ruins. Tagawan launched from his perch with a great flapping dive, squawking as he went. Daryl instinctively rolled to one side pulling loose the thong to his stone tube, slipping the belt of the throwing stick over his head and mounting a stone quickly into the weapon. He then followed Nado's darting lead, as they zigzagged through the broken down corridors, surrounded by the rubble and half-walls of the time beaten structures. Nado followed the flight of Tagawan right to a still standing, but ragged arch of mortared stone. A dark rectangular opening, slanted downward, lay just through the arch, and it was from there that another cry issued forth.

"Daryl," Parlon yelled, her voice echoing upward, as both boys stood poised to dive headlong into the opening. Tagawan squawked almost as loudly from the center of the arch above their heads.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:53AM on April 09, 2014

The Sinking of Noah's Arc

Movie Review. Noah. This movie sucks. On a quiet day you can hear it sucking all the way from Hollywood, California. To be honest, it might have been merely awful were it not for the rock monsters. You read that right. Following an introduction to Noah's backstory, it goes all supernatural and super strange as large talking creatures made of boulders are introduced into the creation story as "The Watchers." These are creatures that the Creator made to look over humankind until it had behaved so badly that He decided to just flood the world and start over. But a planet-destroying deluge was presumably not enough for the narrative arc, so a revenge tale was built in. We have a human to hate. Everyone knows no one likes religious dogma in lead characters. This film doesn't deal with God unless you intuit the Creator as some sort of ethereal construct to avoid using the word God. Viewers are simply left to imagine that He is dealing all the cards, while his vassal Noah plays them, while looking out for the rock monsters. The director and producers made this final version of the movie out of cowardice, quivering in fear from Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. Hollywood once again mimics the American culture in presenting itself with macho bravado while secretly cowering inside. The movie Noah has nothing to say except "give us your money and shut up." No stars. Not a single damned one.

Saint Jude Hospice is seeking volunteers who wish to help provide care and support to Saint Jude Hospice patients and their families. Please contact Sally Nimmow @ 262 725 7021 or nimmows@saintjudehospice.org – We would love to have you join the Saint Jude Hospice Volunteer Team!

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:38AM on April 09, 2014

Treasure Trove?

Musical businesses. Treasure Hut is coming to take over the space vacated by Germaine's on Main Street. Treasure Hut does flowers, plants and was the operation that did all the floral work at the Driehaus estate a few years back. Germaine's is moving over to the empty space next to Carvetti's Italian Restaurant just east of the Post Office, also on Main Street. In the space being carved off from the Board Shop, on Broad and Geneva Street, three shops are going in. A flooring shop (Kahle's), a tile shop and for purchasing window blinds. These three businesses will open soon to compete with Brick and Mortar going in on Center Street just across from Starbucks. To quote Mr. Fleming, head of the BID District, "hard goods are recovering and doing well in this economy while soft goods continue to trail behind." Is he right? It would seem so. His own store on Main Street (named after him) sells soft goods. If Mr. Fleming really means what he said then he's being honest with us because saying so doesn't necessarily help his own business. We applaud that kind of honesty even when we're examining the BID finances closely, and he's the leader there.

Lighting the trees of the downtown business district in Lake Geneva. This is a great idea. There is not enough light in downtown Lake Geneva to allow for evening shopping except a week before and after summer solstice. We need the kind of wiring and lighting usually only available during the holidays when the town is alight with Christmas decorations. Lake Geneva should consider lighting all the existing downtown trees with tiny white lights. It would add class, light and sense of warmth to all the merchant storefronts. It wouldn't necessarily be that expensive (we'll see if we can find the money in the BID budget somewhere!).

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:34AM on April 09, 2014

Undue Influence?

The Dick Peterson election ended with a six-vote deficit. Dick lost. Jan Peterson at Geneva Crossings (The Highlands), a nice woman if ever we met one, allowed Dick and his competitor for the 3rd District Alderman seat to come by and talk to the voters before the election. Both men went over and held court. Few people realize just how important the three big assisted living sites located behind the Chevy dealership (where Dick works) are in Lake Geneva elections. These three buildings house about four hundred people, almost all voters. Most local elections in Lake Geneva total less than that number, for all candidates running for anything. Allowing candidates to come visit and talk in is important. Important unless those votes coming from those assisted living citizens are not exactly independently decided by them. We think Ms. Peterson is a 'straight arrow,' so we are not alleging undue influence. We simply think the existence of this large voting-block in the city's back yard is pretty interesting and we are going to start delivering our paper there because Ms. Peterson said the people living there will read anything.

Terry O'Neill reports: About once or twice a decade, a good idea seems to come out of nowhere. One such idea was presented by Michael Slavney at the planning commission meeting. Unfortunately it was about a subject that is so boring that even Mike Rowe from dirty jobs would have difficulty presenting it with enthusiasm. Almost no one cares about zoning laws until they are personally affected by them. The City of Lake Geneva is looking at making a change to the zoning laws that will affect every building, structure and lot in Lake Geneva. Many or most would be affected immediately. The rest would be affected at some point in the future. After we read the thirteen-page document, we believe it's a good-common sense zoning approach to handle "Non-Conforming Situations". Zoning laws and building requirements are constantly being changed by federal, state and local agencies and governments. When your building or lot no longer meets all of those new requirements, it becomes classified as "Non-Conforming", which can lower its value and affect your ability to sell, repair, maintain, use or improve it. Simply put, the changes presented by Michael Slavney from Vandewalle & Associates Inc. eliminate or correct these problems by removing and/or replacing the "Non-Conforming status" with a "Blanket Conforming Status" for all legally created lots, legally erected structures and legally developed sites. This will allow for the ability to maintain and repair all structures without limitations. It even includes the ability to expand and build new structures, so long as the additions and new structures meet specific requirements. Although a few people may benefit more from this change than others, we see no downside to Michael Slavney's proposal and recommend its approval, simply because it brings older lots and structures into harmony with Lake Geneva's existing zoning laws.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:26AM on April 09, 2014

Living On His Own

Kathleen Fitzgerald, one of our intrepid investigative reporters, uncovered the story of Tigger, the lost dog, waiting to be found: Tigger was a normal happy dog not six months back. His master and life-long friend was with him while maintaining his independence by living on his own. The 'living on his own' came to an abrupt end when the eighty-five year old had a massive stroke. The stroke did not kill him although it may have well have done in Tigger. Tigger went through it all, the stroke, his master and best friend going down, the working paramedics, and the man's return in a wheel chair…there, but unable to take care of a dog. Tigger also was fully aware, as he was led away, that his best friend and master was giving him up. The Lakeland Animal Shelter came through, as they always do, with plenty of love, care and immediate assistance. Tigger is fed, dry and warm. Tigger saw it all and went through it all however. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is written all over his face. None of us handle such rejection well, particularly when we don't understand it.

The Lakeland Animal Shelter has stories waiting to be told and lived out. The animals they take in, waiting for human friends to come and get them, are the stories. The animals are waiting to live out their own stories with new fellow travelers through life. Don't go it alone. If you visit the Lakeland Animal Shelter in Elkhorn you'll instantly know you are among friends. They'll be calling to you from the pens in the back and the fenced area outside the main building. They have about forty dogs up for adoption right now, so if you are feeling the need for a real trusting relationship then don't go to Champs. Go to the animal shelter. You're less likely to get bitten and you can return your new companion if it doesn't work out without having to go on medication. We went to the shelter and wrote a check. Go out there and visit. Love and companionship is waiting.

Bistro 220 is selling. Not the restaurant, just the building. What mystery buyer is picking it up for more than half a million bucks? We don't know, so we went straight to where we go when we can't figure things out or confirm them. We went to the rumor mill. Is the purchaser Mike Keefe, who owns a whole string of business property in the city? Is the purchaser the Inland Real Estate Trust that just bought a huge chunk of stuff on Main and Cook Streets (do you know that they bought that property unaware a signal was going in at their corner!)? Finally, listening with our ears glued to the thawing railroad rails at the railroad museum park we heard a whisper coming gently through the iron. Mike Kocourek. The rail whispered into our thankful ears. He's the best of the best real estate owners around the lake. There's nobody even close. He buys property, gives the tenants fair deals, and then rebuilds their spaces at his expense. Bistro 220 is going nowhere but up, and we want to thank the caring work and investment being done by Mike Kocourek.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:20AM on April 09, 2014

Small Ponds Run Deap

A Writ of mandamus and the Attorney General of Wisconsin. We don't think the A.G. reads the GSR. We think he's too big, too far away, and we're too small and the 'pond' we serve too little. We can picture former mayor (of questionable repute) Chessen speeding to the capital, rapidly reading the GSR in the back of his polished black limo every Wednesday morning, though. We relish the thought. The A.G. is promising the results of the "Black Hole" Investigation by next week. We will begin holding our breath Monday morning. We have a feeling that might prove something like a situation discussed by Bill Cosby when he mimicked God: "Noah…how long can you tread water?"

The strange folly of the current parking structure set to go to referendum in Lake Geneva. 1. This planned structure cannot pay for itself in less than twelve years. 2. The location for this structure has been selected to go up where an existing revenue producing lot already exists. 3. The six to eight million dollar price tag would be almost every extra cent Lake Geneva possesses. 4. This structure would rise almost forty-five feet, well above every other structure around it. 5. This structure will only add about 140 parking spaces in a city with over a thousand. 6. No thought whatever has been given to the absolute ugliness of such a concrete structure set in the middle of the city. We'll campaign mightily against this referendum and appeal directly to the public to provide for a better location, a bigger structure and some form of financing that doesn't completely empty the city coffers.

BID District finances. We don't like what we've been seeing. A few years ago the BID District began using two checking accounts instead of one. One of the checking accounts is not audited. That account is used only to write occasional large checks to the other account. The other account is fully audited and transparent. So why the two accounts? Why does one account remain in the darkness? Where is the money coming from that goes into that 'distribution' account…Switzerland?

The new automated traffic signals approved and funded for the intersection at Cook and Main Street are ready to be put in. Work will begin April 9th with signs going up, and will continue with sidewalks and curbs. The whole thing should be done by the 23rd of April or Lake Geneva's City Administrator's got it wrong. We'll see. The city administrator presented the schedule to the city council on Monday night but then bowed out. The last words he said were "Dan Winkler." Our hard working Clark Gable without moustache, more adroit than any Civil War blockade-runner or opium smuggler in Hong Kong, will actually be responsible. To put this small project into proper perspective, one must use the phrase "you're it Dan."

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:16AM on April 09, 2014

The Warrior, Chapter II, By James Strauss

The book "The Boy," precursor to The Warrior is available for sale on Amazon ($83.00 uninscribed or from the GSR direct ($27.00 new and inscribed).

Both Daryl and Nado waited stoic but impatient through the long ceremonial dinner, then through several more recitations of their grand exploits about the epic 'conquest' of the Mur, the saving of the village and the personal courage each had exhibited. The culmination of events was the formal representation of their ceremonial spears by their fathers. Each man rose to describe the process of its manufacture and the symbolism denoted by each piece, from the needle sharp flint points, smooth stone polished hardwood shafts, and finally the very rare black and white predator bird feathers. That this event was a repeat of what they had already experienced the night before, only affected Daryl with a sense of deep boredom. Once again the boy noted that, while the villagers cheered and applauded during many parts of the festivities, especially when hearing again of the boys adventurous feats performed on their behalf, the senior warriors remained expressionless, seemingly unmoved, and to Daryl's viewpoint, cold as a midwinter morning. Possibly his father could explain their deadpan reaction at the celebration at a later time. One senior warrior, in particular, glared at Daryl throughout the ceremony. His name was Magabo, and he was the Chief's son. Daryl had never spoken to the warrior, although he knew that his father had no use for the 'headstrong and arrogant' man.

Although the evening seemed to last forever, in reality it ended early. The tribe was primarily ruled by the light of sun. Except for very special celebrations of summer and winter equinox, and for the return of very successful hunts, the village didn't spend its heating resources to maintain the central bonfire or the many torches necessary to occupy the gathering place late into the night.

Daryl had promised Nado he would meet with his mother right after the events and then get together with him just outside the village walls to discuss what they were going to do at dawn of the next day. True to his word, Daryl waited at the first bend of the path. The sound of the thundering falls was distant from there and could be more felt than heard. It was a cold windy morning so he paced back and forth a bit, but he didn't have to wait long. Nado approached quickly in his eagerness to know more. Neither of them carried their new heavy spears, although no other warrior ever stepped away from the village area without the hunter's greatest of weapons.

The boys crouched down without greeting, assuming their normal position facing one another about a full man-length apart.

"Well?" Nado asked excitedly, after a few minutes, and Daryl was once again surprised at the expectant enthusiasm Nado possessed whenever they discussed the formal rules that governed tribal members, no matter what their station. He smiled, wondering how he could have felt jealous of the other boy's appointment to the council. He knew, only a short time after the appointment was made, that he himself would be terribly bored in the position. Even the festivities in their honor had been uncomfortable. Part of that was having to sit through the lies about their greatness, he knew, but much of it was simply due to that fact that Daryl enjoyed movement and activity much more than long sedentary discussions held within large groups of people.

"Well?" Nado asked for the second time, gesturing with his one good arm. Daryl was always mildly irritated by such expressive demands made by his friend, but he never said anything. Nado's devotion, loyalty and wise counsel during the years of their outcast life would not allow Daryl to criticize him for such small annoying infractions.

"Its very complicated," he answered finally, pausing an extra few breaths simply because he felt pushed into answering when he wasn't ready. It was complicated, he thought, as he watched Nado raise one side of his upper lip in frustration. Both boys had been constantly inculcated all their lives with the almost never-ending series of small rules governing every area of tribal interaction, from cooking, building, cleaning, carrying, eating, right on into the time and manner of one's attendance. There was what was to be worn, how firewood was to be sought and in what size. It never seemed to end. On top of the ordinary things of life in and around the village, they also had to contend with the more secret activities, usually only alluded to and not directly spoken of, such as; hunting, warrior training and sexual activities. The claiming process fell under that last category. It was not so secret that it was never whispered about, like certain areas of the Shaman's practices, or the secret rites of passage to manhood or the birthing process, but it was not something anyone learned about because it was openly discussed. Nado was obviously disturbed about the claim Daryl had announced and the details of the claiming process neither of them really understood in any real detail.

"I can be with her during the process, but only when another member of the tribe is present," Daryl answered. "Always. We cannot be alone together. Ever."

Nado thought for a moment, his frown disappearing, his gaze unfocused as he considered the problem and their situation. Daryl waited, knowing that the other boy was much better at thinking through such problems of social complexity.

"Yes, I can understand that. We knew that," Nado whispered, almost to himself. "Then we have no problem. I'm a warrior. In fact, I'm a member of the council itself," he went on unnecessarily, completely missing, in the poor light, Daryl's visible wince. "My presence should allow Parlon to go wherever she wants with us, including up to the ruins." He nodded as he finished, his tone indicating how satisfied he was with his conclusion.

"That's not all," Daryl said quietly, pausing for another few breaths, but this time because of his own misgivings. "I can't touch her or come into contact with her in any way, and and here is the real problem, she can't speak to me unless I speak to her first."

Nado started to laugh, but Daryl didn't join him. He could only watch, with a rueful expression.

"Oh that's good," Nado said, choking the words out through his laughter, "we're talking about the same Parlon, are we not?" he went on. Finally, he got himself under control. "This is going to be a disaster for all of us. She's already broken the rules. What rules? She doesn't obey any rules I can see and we'll get blamed for whatever she does."

Daryl sat across from his friend, barely able to see him under the dim light, as the sun refused to peak over the distant horizon. There was no wind so the summer coolness of the departing night wasn't enough to cause real discomfort. Faint sounds from the not very distant village came whispering across the hard ground, as the tribe prepared for the activities of the day. Daryl tried not to think about the enormity of crushing pressures that had somehow fallen upon him.

"Does the sun really move slower across the sky in summer, and so the day's made longer? he mused half aloud, "or does nature punish us for half of the year by making its light colder because there can be no goodness allowed by nature that is not balanced by the bad?" Nado didn't answer. Daryl wondered if the other boy might think that he, the stable dependable one, might have gone completely crazy. Daryl's mind was inexorably drawn back to the matter at hand. It was true. There was absolutely no question that Parlon was riven through with a wild spirit. It was transmitted like a beacon through her eyes, demonstrated by her unbending erect posture. And when she spoke, the directness could be like a splash of winter-cold river water. But he also knew, without any sense of amazement, that it made her all the more attractive.

"What do you think is wrong with her?" Nado asked, pointedly.

Daryl took a minute to reflect before responding. "Wrong? Plenty. She's too much like you. That's her major fault."

Nado grimaced but didn't push the issue any further. Then he shivered and looked back in the direction of the village.

"Is there anything else of importance you got from your mother?" Nado asked.

"Parlon really hasn't broken the rules. Not really," Daryl mused. Ignoring Nado's question. "The claiming process doesn't begin until I present her father with a gift of appropriate value. Mother would not say what 'appropriate value' meant. I'm supposed to figure that our for myself." He paused a few breaths before going on. "We better think about what we're going to find for her."

"We?" Nado shot back instantly. "What are 'we' going to find for her father?" He shook his head in exasperation, and let out one long exhalation of air.

"What about one of the throwing stones?" Nado asked after a few moments of silence, ignoring the fact of his being included in the gift giving responsibility. They both sat in silence to think about the only real possessions of any value they had, and what it might mean to reveal the truth about the special stones taken from the island.

"No," Daryl finally replied. "The secret of the stones is one that we must keep, especially from Huslinth." The unusual and uncommon small stones they'd discovered for throwing purposes were hollow in the center, which made them light enough to heave at very high velocities. When one stone broke upon impact they found it's hollowed center was surrounded by large clear crystals. There was nothing like the crystals in the village or even in any of the trade materials the village received from other tribes located upriver, or at least not that the boys had been able to discover.

"No," Daryl repeated, even though Nado hadn't replied. "We'll break one of the stones and see if we can get a single crystal large enough to be considered valuable enough to be 'appropriate,' whatever that is." The throwing stone that had broken to reveal its precious interior had struck a larger rock with such speed that the interior broke into many smaller pieces, which Daryl thought might have a significant value but maybe not enough to meet the needs of the claiming process. Huslinth was going to make successful completion of the process just as difficult as was possible. Since he was the tribal Shaman, second in power only to the chief that would be a difficult process indeed. Daryl knew intrinsically that Huslinth wanted nothing to do with him and certainly didn't want him in his family in any way. He fingered the bottom of his knife pouch, where a few of the crystals formed a small roundish bulge.

"Tomorrow, up at the ruins, we'll consider," he said to his friend, "Maybe we'll find something else."

Nado shrugged his shoulders in reply. It was obvious that there was more than just the claiming process, and all its complexity in their lives, bothering him.

"Yes, up there. But she'll be there. And it'll be pretty hard to make sure she doesn't see what we are doing or what we're doing it to. She'll know," he went on, his voice so low now, that it was almost a whisper. "She may be a lot things but dumb is not one of them. Is it really safe to take her? Why did you agree? Sure she heard us talking but we could have covered that but no, you've got to blurt out an invitation. Sometimes I don't understand you at all. At all."

Daryl looked off into the distance without answering.

"All right, but I tried to warn you," Nado finally said.

"Tomorrow, first light from here. I'll tell Parlon.

Daryl woke early just before the sun rose, threw on his leathers and equipment, and then quietly made his way outside the structure to watch the far distant escarpment illuminate yellow with the first rays of the morning sun. It was his way in summer. He saw no one, which was normal. When he reached the bottom of the path, instead of turning toward the falls he moved briefly upriver, shedding everything he had on at the bank. The water was bitter cold when he dived out form the shore, and he was careful not to allow the voracious current to catch hold of him. Why the water was almost freezing, even such a warm time of the year remained a mystery unsolved by anyone in the tribe. Huslinth said that cold was death and life was warmth and that the river was more of death than life. It was true that the river had taken many lives, and was consequently never crossed. Daryl and Nado were alone in teaching themselves to swim and paddle about in its back eddies and few calm pools. At first, upon entering the water, the cold could paralyze muscles creating great fear, and it was fear Daryl knew to be far more dangerous than the effects of the cold. Once in the water he pulled himself hand over hand back through the mild current until his feet sank deeply into the semi-soft sand of the bank bottom. The sand could be scooped and used to clean body and hair, just as it was used by the tribal women to clean hunting garments or those for daily wear.

Daryl redressed himself, after dripping for many breaths to allow the water to leave most of his body. Then he crossed his legs, sat on the bank and watched the water flow by. It was hypnotic as it sped over hidden rocks on the bottom, sometimes moving them with deep bell-like sounds. The island, with its single huge tree hanging, sat offshore unchanged, as it had stood the three solstices since his first visit there. A time of seemingly small consequence, but also a period, as he thought back, that almost felt to be an entire lifetime. It was nearly impossible to think of the years before the earthmove and the great wave. Before those combined events, the river had still been a source of life to the tribe, but only as a trickle of vitally necessary water. There'd been no huge falls and the water had been warm in summer. All that had changed in an instant.

He stood, with a last wistful look out to the embattled little island, still feeling its strange draw. He would return to it soon he promised himself, strapping on his throwing stick and securing his stone carrying tube. His mother had packed a small sack of dried meat and hard ground roots the night before. That he carried over one shoulder. He would use thin cut animal skin thongs to secure it tight to his body during the climb.

When he leaned down to pick up his new heavy spear, he thought of Nado. Rare were the mornings that they didn't perform the early river washing and swimming ritual together. Nado, with his one crippled arm, was strangely more adept in water, just as he was in climbing. Daryl wondered if the new tensions brought about by their recent change in life would so deeply affect them so as to cause their friendship to be broken. Maybe Nado's absence was caused by his obvious distaste for 'the girl,' as he preferred to call Parlon. Daryl shook his head as he hefted the ungainly weapon and tried to properly balance it for running, his normal mode of travel. There was no choice but to carry the ugly spear, as no self-respecting warrior was ever seen without one. Making decisions about daily living had been so much easier just days before.

With his free hand he loosened a single leather thong, swept it back and up under his long hair, then wrapped and tightened it into a single bunch, leaving the end of the thong to hang forward over his left shoulder. He flexed his arm on that same side, the one he would use to carry the spear. He grasped it midway along its thick shaft and began a light easy run. He would never encumber his right arm, as that must always be immediately available for accessing his real weapon, the throwing stick. His gait was becoming longer as he grew larger with age, but he was also adding more weight, as his muscles developed. The cliff climbing seemed to add bulk to his body all by itself, or at least so Nado theorized in his daily constant musings. Still, thinking of the night before, he remembered Parlon standing before them earlier. She was measurably taller than either of them.

Deep in thought about such things he quickly made his way along the well-traveled path, the spear bothering his balance only marginally, not enough to interfere with his smooth languid gate.

Even before reaching the protruding bush near the falls, Daryl heard a soft voice speaking, barely audible over the increasing beat of the thundering water.

"You are a beautiful bird," he finally made out, slowing almost to a walk. Then he stopped, pushing his spear against the upper side of the bush to peer around, just as Tagawan caught the motion and squawked loudly in recognition. Parlon stood right next to the highest rock of the perch, not more than a few hand lengths from the bird itself. The animal seemed to be basking in the girl's attention. Without thinking, Daryl clapped his hands once and whistled softly at the same time. Tagawan launched from the perch in his usual awkward bustling manner, flapped his wings twice and thudded heavily onto the still damp skins that covered the boy's left shoulder. As soon as he performed the act of calling the bird Daryl was sorry. He hadn't meant to claim the bird from her, and that's exactly what he felt he'd done. He wanted to deny her nothing and couldn't really explain why her almost immediate acceptance by the difficult animal had affected him with a kind of possessive jealousy. At every encounter he seemed to have an amazing ability to find a new way to make himself look more ridiculous in her presence.

Parlon straightened and faced him directly, the look in her eyes a knowing one, but a small smile also played across her mouth. This time Daryl noted that she was perfectly attired for the day, wearing soft skin leggings and a thick leather top with long sleeves. The height of the escarpment was such that it was always colder on top, and the winds that swept the face would be penetrating. Parlon was properly prepared, impressing Daryl again.

Tagawan jarred him away from his thoughts by pecking him solidly, as his hand had strayed within range. Daryl jumped, and then quickly put the back of his hand against his mouth to stop the bleeding, his eyes never leaving Parlons. He couldn't think of anything to say, and wished with all his heart that Nado was there. He moved his hand down and broke contact with the girl's eyes by glancing at Tagawan, who was cleaning one his wings and cooing softly, which was his usual reaction to a good solid peck of a hand or shoulder. Why he never injured either Nado or Daryl by striking at their faces neither boy could explain. The bird was one of life's unsolvable enigmas.

"I guess he likes you, Parlon," he said, hesitantly, forgetting completely that Parlon was the name he and Nado created and used independent from the tribe, in case anyone might overhear their conversation.

"Parlon?" she asked instantly, her head tilting and one eyebrow rising high.

"Ah," Daryl replied miserably, and then went on, "its kind of the name that we, ah, call you for short." He looked back at her for some understanding, but could find only cool directness in her eyes.

"We? Who is we? And you discuss me? When, and why? The questions were snapped out so fast, one after the other, that Daryl couldn't think of which one to answer first, or whether to answer any of them. The questions were strung together more like a continuous attack than any kind of request for additional information.

"All the time," said a voice from behind the bush. The words were spoken simply but the tone was all humor. Nado stepped to Daryl's side, eliciting another single loud squawk from Tagawan, causing Daryl to wince again.
"When it comes to you, well, you just can't shut him up." Nado went on. Daryl reddened, immediately taking back his wish that his best friend be in attendance. He couldn't say anything so he simply stood there and looked at both of them.

"I see," Parlon said. Nado and Daryl exchanged a look. Nado shrugged and shook his head. He couldn't stop from enjoying Daryl's deep embarrassment.

"Ah, lets go," Nado said, after a few breaths, to Daryl's great relief. They headed at an easy trot downriver toward the falls. Daryl fell in behind Nado, after grabbing his spear from the bush, noting that his friend swung his easily but a bit awkwardly in his good right hand. Neither looked back to see if Parlon was following. They'd lived so close to the elements long enough that both boys could simply feel her close behind them. She ran lightly, although the girls and women of the tribe spent little time running anywhere outside of the village proper. Her long legs gave her a straight loping stride that seemed every bit a match for the boy's smooth path-eating run.

Tagawan had taken flight at Daryl's first move to depart, diving to where his body almost struck the earth before the lift of his mighty wings caused him to rise up and over Nado's moving head. He flew out over the falls first into and then out of huge clouds of whitish spray rising high above the water itself. The thunder of the falls grew louder with each step the running youths took until it was impossible to hear anything else, even the happy squawking of the playing bird. Tagawan practiced swooping out of the spray and then flying between two of their running bodies, until they reached a point where the path began its descent. Back and forth, they jumped more than ran from one patch of thick green thistle here, and then a well entrenched rock there. The descent was a single long snake-like path down the side of the wall right next to where the water plunged down. Nado tried to measure the depth of its fall the year before, but gave up when he'd laboriously placed a pebble into a sack for each full body length he measured, as he slowly made his way down the crooked path. At the bottom he'd been almost unable to lift the sack. Daryl looked behind him with worry several times during their descent, noting that Parlon had fallen back quite a bit, but not nearly as much as he might have imagined. He also noted that Nado was not holding anything back on her behalf, as he aggressively led their plunge down the steep slope.

There was no doubt that this was the girl's first ascent to the base of the falls. Even the hunters and senior warriors avoided traveling downriver. It was difficult travel, noisy, wet, and there was purportedly little or no prey to be found. Even the view, as one went ever lower, became more and more obscured by the incredibly thick mist. Daryl knew that if he had not been so despondent when he'd made the first traverse down he might never have found the very special place where they would start the climb, much less ever scaled the wall itself. Nowhere, along the known expanse of the great valley escarpment, was there any known place where there was even the remotest possibility that someone could make an ascent. Only Daryl's deep depression had allowed him to make the attempt, and only his trip to the base of the falls could have afforded the hidden opportunity to begin that attempt.

As they reached the base, the ground leveled out and the path ended. The only way to move around the expanded water pool at the bottom was to move back and forth among the saplings that clustered between the very rough slanted mounds of rip rap which littered the base of the escarpment and the thick, near impenetrable reeds that grew out from the water's edge. Only a person with a death wish would consider entering the broiling cauldron of the water pool itself.

The trees provided just enough room for their thin bodies to move through. Nado moved slower, as he led them, knowing that Parlon would have to remain in view to be able to tell which trees to go around, and which to avoid. Tagawan stayed above, squawking to let them know he was nearby, as he flapped, then rested near the tops of the trees ahead. With no warning, and not far from where the waters turned from a boiling mass to a thick, high and fast-moving surface, Nado turned toward the base of the wall and seemed to enter a thicket of the most tightly massed trees. Then he disappeared.

Daryl waited at the point of his turn, until Parlon, breathing heavily, appeared at his shoulder. Her long hair was slightly askew, but her expression still remained full of the enthusiasm she'd showed the day before after he'd invited her. He pulled a single thong from his belt and motioned toward her hair. There was no possibility of talking against the crushing sound filling the basin at the bottom of the falls. She took the thong and tied her hair into a single bunch behind her head. Daryl smiled to himself, always exhilarated by the tremendous power of the falls and the fresh vital nature of its uncontrolled traveling dominance over the landscape. Slowly, he pushed the proper saplings aside, leaning one way and then the other as he maneuvered himself and his ungainly spear through. Parlon followed closely. The trees closed behind them to form a wall that would seem impenetrable to anyone standing only hand lengths away.

At the base of the rubble pile, a few man lengths away, they came upon Nado and stopped. He was wedging his spear between two boulders where their abutment formed a natural 'V.' Daryl joined him, placing his own spear atop Nado's in the same hiding place. They would dispense with the spears until their return. He didn't need to discuss the point with his friend. Nado looked at Parlon closely, as if to ask here if she had had enough, but she simply smiled radiantly back at him. Nado pointed toward a point only a bit further downriver along the base of the pile, and then he moved quickly toward it. He approached what became a fold, or angled separation in the rubble that ran right back to the wall. Slowly they worked their way to the base of the seemingly solid vertical rock. As they approached, what had looked like a slim crack from back where they'd come out of the saplings, turned out to be an angled cleft of some width rising up until they couldn't see the top of it even by staring straight up. The inside of the cleft was lined with little breaks and many step-like protrusions. Daryl backed up and indicated that Parlon should stand as deep into the cleft opening as possible, which she did, with a quizzical look on her face. Daryl eased in after her.

"You can hear in here," he said, loudly, but not having to shout. Nado stood at his shoulder, as only one person could enter directly. Just before the cleft ended there was a nearly flat space. Barely having the room, Parlon turned to face him.

"Do you still want to go up?" he asked, hoping that he was showing no expression at all. He pointed up as he spoke, just as Tagawan could be heard squawking from some perch high above, waiting for them to appear.

Parlon nodded once. Daryl waited a full three breaths before turning his head to exchange looks with Nado.

"Nado will lead. You must follow exactly in his footsteps. This is very dangerous, but there are only a few bad spots. The hardest part is that it takes a long time and we'll be tired when we near the top lip, and that's the hardest part of all. I'll be right behind you to tell you where to grip or step if you get stuck."

Daryl looked at her for some expression that might indicate that she might change her mind. Suddenly he found himself hoping that she would change her mind. He still remembered the fear he had to overcome as he began his first ascent of the cliff face.

"Can you do it?" Daryl asked, regretting the words as soon as he spoke them.

"The bird's waiting," Parlon answered, following Nado's lead up the wall.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 9:54PM on April 03, 2014

Too Much Gas?

Kwik Trip isn't done with Lake Geneva. It's just beginning its relationship with the city. What's that relationship likely to grow into? Are we going to have this wonderful granduncle moving in to help out around the house, town and community or are we going to have this harmless little snake growing into a forty foot all-consuming Anaconda? What are they doing and how do we judge what they are doing?

Kwik Trip swallowed the Clark station next door in one very affordable gulp. It's going on to swallow the house behind Clark and is, no doubt (we feel) going to want the alley running next to the property condemned and done away with. Giant machines are on site ripping and tearing all the awful stuff that's lain around on the property for years, and we applaud this effort. It seems the single 'grand-uncle' gesture as opposed to the gobbling up going on around the property.

So build the monster gas, car wash, and fast food operation. We don't want the damned blinking digital sign telling us how much cigarettes cost or how great the lottery is doing. We don't want the sign at all and we don't want the precedent it would set in giving it final approval. No, Kwik Trip doesn't have final approval, as the council is thinking right this minute of re-visiting the issue. Hooray. Come on Kwik Trip but come under our rules, not your own. And then there is the natural gas refilling operation they are quietly planning to put in where the old Clark Station now sits. Yes, a huge refueling tank of natural gas in the middle of a residential neighborhood! Is this true? We're not really quite certain yet as we only have a single secret source with no ability to confirm. We'll continue our pursuit of such confirmation and report back.

Go back in time to a place in Southern California that allowed a company to build a natural gas facility in a residential area. The year was 1973 and the place was San Clemente. The losses? Nobody died, which was a hard fought for miracle. Seventy-seven homes were lost along with fauna and flora it would take another generation to replace. Brush fires moved from a forested plot near the town and started a home fire located next to the facility. The tank was never touched by actual fire. The tank exploded when heat from the nearby burning home raised the tanks temperature to the point where pressure caused seals to blow. The gas escaped and an entire neighborhood exploded.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 8:54AM on April 02, 2014

Electoral Loom

The election looms over all of our heads in Lake Geneva. Four city counselors plus the mayor and city attorney are up for re-election. True to our tradition (now) we didn't endorse anyone although we are intrinsically opposed to all candidates running unopposed. That simply makes logical syllogistic sense to us. A political process without opposition is a weak substitute for democratically contested positions being fought over and bitterly won and lost. Out of rivalry comes progress. Out of competition comes lower cost and higher quality. Out of opposition comes tolerance, understanding and change. Only one race of those six races is contested. There's certain sadness to that. Five of the six positions up for election have virtually no opposition.

Who wants to get picked on by us every week for less than four hundred bucks a month? We can see the result for ourselves and should consider the City of Lake Geneva lucky it has, at least, a single person running for every office. Our argument, advanced in front of the council time after time by our senior editor (in person at the council meetings) has gone unheeded. That the councilors would save us all money by being paid at least a thousand a month makes logical but not emotional sense. Nobody in Southern Wisconsin wants to pay for one cent more of anything they don't have to. That is merely the way the majority culture is established here. That paying less up front means a much-cheapened product down the road is not an argument that can be made or will stand in the face of such cultural stubbornness. The argument that good people should simply step forth and serve, giving time trouble and exposure to public ridicule and potential expense, is ably supported by the entries for Tuesday's election. All fine people in many ways but they are alone. Five of the six positions are unopposed, thereby diluting the quality of the result unless you write in a substantial result for blind luck.

Intrepid reporter Terry O'Neill, using our X-Files investigators, turned his significant intellect on: The Downtown Lake Geneva Business Improvement District abbreviated as "BID" or commonly called the "BID District." Recently our GSR X-Files investigators came upon a complete copy of the BID's banking records from 1995 to 2011. When comparing the St. Francis Bank records (where BID money was kept) from Dec. 31, 2006 thru Dec. 31, 2007 with the 2007 BID Audit, some questions arose. At the end the 2007 year Dec. 31, 2007 both the audit and the bank statements agree on the actual cash in the district's checking account; however, when our investigator's tried to trace the expenditures and the withdrawals backward they found the two most important months neatly excised from the report. The missing months were January 2007, which was needed to reconcile with the previous year, and March 2007 during which the $93,000 property tax deposit was made. Is that a coincidence? Had the balance between February and April increased about $90,000, then our investigators might have concluded that it was probably just a coincidence, but it only increased $60,025, which leaves $30,000 unaccounted for. Also in the audit the actual fund balance for Jan. 1, 2007 listed the fund balance at $24,125; whereas the bank listed it at $42,295, a difference of $18,000. Where did the thirty grand and then the eighteen grand go? Is this a Nixon tape kind of thing?

By JAMES STRAUSS at 8:54AM on April 02, 2014

Mutual Cultural Expression?

Band shell from Hell. Every once and awhile a tribal group, not unlike the City of Lake Geneva, should take the time to consider what it is doing in terms of art and mutual cultural expression. There is a pad of concrete laid down at the north end of Flat Iron Park. It measures approximately sixty feet long by thirty feet deep in a sort of abbreviated ovoid shape. The pad is set neatly snuggled up against a backdrop of old seasoned pines. The pad is perfectly situated to have a clamshell back and sheltering overhead designed and built to fit it. This would accommodate the Lake Geneva Symphony and the citizenry might get to hear this wonderful group perform more than once a year and with no need for artificial amplification. What is this tribe (Lake Geneva) doing in approving a pole barn type of solution to this small pad of valuable concrete? The symphony director spoke and asked for the clamshell. The city denied him. We call this a form of deliberative brain damage. Go back and approve a more agreeable structure. Like the Lake Geneva Symphony. Love the arts. Live in Lake Geneva.

Thunder reigns over her chipmunk realm. If you think a female cat shouldn't be have such an aggressive and seemingly male name then you know nothing about long-term marriage in the American culture and certainly nothing about cats. Female cats dominate the species and Thor has been cast down to roam the lower lake waters along South Shore Road. "There can only be one Highlander," comes to mind as Sage (Thunder's real name) sent Thyme (Thor) packing one cold Saturday afternoon last week. With the breaking of winter into small acceptable spring-like packets, the first chipmunk pelt was discovered a few days ago. Sage is on it. No doubt Thyme was cast down for lack of performance in certain unknown areas. Our environmentally friendly master (read future slave) of Sage has begun talking to the cat as part of her training. As we predicted.

Parking Garage Referendum: Sec. 2-345. Will this coming referendum actually be binding if it fails? Yes, but not really. City ordinances are always subject to change or repeal by the city council. In fact, on several occasions the Lake Geneva Council has done just that when city ordinances interfered with certain objectives:

1.) A Big Box ordinance was passed requiring a 6 vote (of 8) majority to approve large stores. After a non-binding resolution passed approving the Home Depot development, the project was blocked with the Big Box Ordinance by 3 aldermen. How did the council get around the blockage? Easy, they changed the ordinance. It only took 5 members (or 4 and the Mayor) to repeal an ordinance, so the disagreeables repealed it. Then the same crew approved Home Depot with a 5-vote majority. That's how Home Depot came to Lake Geneva by slight of hand.

2.) An ordinance set the maximum amount that the city could transfer to its General Fund from the yearly collected Lake Front and Parking Meter fees at 50%. So, to by-pass this restriction, the city council codified the city's ordinances and when doing that they quietly eliminated this nagging ordinance, so that in 2005 (by majority resolution) the city council raided the entire fund, leaving only $75,000 in each fund. Note: That money, which is now at $700,000 for each fund, is currently in the general fund and is listed as owed (interest free) to the Parking Meter and Lake Front funds. The idea for this had to come from our own U.S. Congress when they stepped in and gutted social security and Medicare the same way.

Why mention this? Well, the city council can approve a parking garage even if the referendum fails. If it fails, it may delay the project a bit, but ordinance Sec. 2-345 can be repealed, modified or voided, thus clearing the way for the Parking Garage. The council has done it before and it could do it again. The rules agreed upon and understood by the general public can only be followed and enforced if the public understands what's going on.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 8:52AM on April 02, 2014


Something that serves as tangible proof or evidence of truth. When we use the old-fashioned phrase "you can make book on it," we are talking about using the bible as a final example of the truth, and yet the bible is anything but a book of truth, either in old or new parts. To take biblical teachings as the truth is to wander off into a land of the loony and fringe elements of low intellectual gatherings. The bible was always intended as a series of combined historical documents coupled with a guide for future behavior, as it seems well proven by every fact gathering discipline covering the past that most members of the human species have had a very difficult time getting along. This applies to the present as well.

Confusion reins when discussions of the bible come up and the material bent, broken, and stretched by emotional forces so complex they cloak the murky social groups who use it for their own purposes. The Old Testament was declared to be historical in fact and application. Historical only. Jesus Christ is the person who made that so, or at least said it, or at least is said to have said it. The New Testament is the living document to be used as a guide for all human interaction but it's not to be adhered to for every element of every situation on this planet. Jesus Christ inferred this many times, or at least he is said to have inferred this.

What we see today in our mostly Christian culture when we consider this New Testament guide is like what we see when we look at a huge Pollock painting mounted up on a wall. It is pleasing in presentation but the meaning eludes us. Small parts of the painting may be carefully calved from the whole and then interpretations can be made from these. Once again the main focus is provided by one of those men behind the curtains kind of leaders. Pay attention to the "WORD" and not the man but then the man is the one saying this, as he reads the words he's chosen for the particular presentation. His interpretation, like with the analysis of a small piece of the Pollock painting, is going to be his interpretation but couched in a deeper understanding provided by God. Or so he says.

The New Testament is a great document and an even greater guide. It is so great that it's mostly ignored except for readings and interpretations at weekly church gatherings, or bible study classes. Feed the poor? As a cultural norm, you've got to be kidding me. Our Christian nation just cut food stamps for children and unemployed veterans! Visit the prisoners? More kidding. Our reality has all approaches to visiting prisoners in any American prison or jail interpreted as suspicion of the visitor's own criminal background and possible intent. Prisoners can't even call out using the telephone without paying hugely exorbitant rates intended to keep them from communicating with anyone including family. What of usury and Jesus clearing the church of the blood-sucking moneychangers? Good grief, but we have payday loan places legal in thirty-seven states charging two and three hundred percent annual interest to poor people. We have bankers stealing trillions and not even being named in the media.

America is caught inside the event horizon of a testamentary black hole. On the other side of the horizon, only to be stared into, are the manifestations in effect from following the teachings of the New Testament. Those manifestations are invisible because you can't see past the horizon as not even light can escape. Meanwhile, out in the normal universe, all Christians are meeting and talking almost every week about how great the New Testament teachings are while doing absolutely nothing to follow them. If anything is done it is to quietly slip backwards into the Old Testament, build models of Noah's ark, apply 'an eye for an eye' kind of actions and wait for everything to end so heaven can be reached in short order.

Christianity is a wonderful belief system. What America needs to learn, in applying the teachings of the New Testament, and in conducting all of its international and national affairs is that truthful action must follow truthful thoughts. We must stop our current common practice of lying about everything all the time. The New Testament is about living truth not talking it.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 8:51AM on April 02, 2014

The Jumping Off Point

Television Series Review. Cosmos. Physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson steps in where Carl Sagan left off. He steps into huge shoes and without the music. He's thrown some unattractive comic book characters in but also given the show a dramatically wonderful space ship. This show is about science and it's a direct 'thumbing of the nose' at creationist-befuddled drivel purporting to be science. To borrow one of Tyson's famous quotes, the good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it. In that sense, the show is a huge success. Cosmos is fantastic, fascinating, accessible to anyone and accurate as hell. You should watch Cosmos. Revel in its beauty and the wonder of the universe it presents. But, as any sensible scientist would tell you, don't simply believe in everything the show tells you. Use Cosmos as the jumping-off point to think about it yourself. We wandering busy humans running up and down fast moving escalators of our own making seldom take the time to consider the planet we live on, the solar system it lives in, the galaxy it exits in and the universe beyond that. For us to consider such things is for us to ever so briefly pay less attention to our own importance in whatever it is we are involved with. We humans don't do that well. Watch Cosmos and let it give you a meditative break from your smaller life of daily pursuit to a grand pursuit of God's unruly creation. Science will never allow for the proof of God while God will ever remind us to pay attention to science or join Him for a personal audience about our failure to do so.

Saint Jude Hospice is seeking volunteers who wish to help provide care and support to Saint Jude Hospice patients and their families. Please contact Sally Nimmow @ 262 725 7021 or nimmows@saintjudehospice.org – We would love to have you join the Saint Jude Hospice Volunteer Team!

By JAMES STRAUSS at 8:50AM on April 02, 2014

Blame Harvey

Smoki Joe, Amy's cat that went in for the rough expensive surgery has come through with flying colors. Smoki's like a kitten again and the people who keep her (put up with her, are owned by her, etc.) could not be happier. Cats are being constantly reviled by a very few deliberately misinformed 'experts' out there today, but one must give pause if one owns one. According to these experts, cats aren't really loved at all, they merely exude a special secret substance that addicts humans and causes them to do their bidding. We are not making this up. Here is the latest report from a scientist studying "Toxoplasma" and detailing what we are writing about: "Dr. Flegr believes the cat infection is making subtle changes to the human brain to manipulate the host's behavior - though he admits to being unsure how the parasite intends to use humans to this end. But from his own experience the Czech scientist claims that over the past two decades his personality has been changing, leading him to behave in strange, often self-destructive ways." There we have it. We, at the Geneva Shore Report, being infected by Harvey's (our difficult loving cat) particular strain of Toxoplasma know what end he's after. Total world subjugation and control. We gave up years ago and this newspaper is the result. Blame Harvey.

"Uncontrolled Growth Destroys Small Towns. Lake Geneva expanded its territory, added more and more developments and chain stores in the outlying areas, while at the same time, certain business practices were eliminated. Many locally owned and operated shops and restaurants in the downtown area were replaced with chain and franchised stores and shops. In the process Lake Geneva began damaging its local charm, small town atmosphere and the small town itself. The current direction of Lake Geneva's downtown development becomes more and more like a small replica of the Dells. Contrary to city planners, the atmosphere of Lake Geneva is not as they believe in the buildings, facades and advertised image of the town, but in its local people and locally owned and operated businesses and shops. We are not against growth. But we do oppose the type of growth, control and transformation that is occurring in our city. It's why we support local entrepreneurs and why we are trying to set up a local financial support system for them. We wish to help entrepreneurs to start, create and display our unique character in their stores and shops. Our vision is to improve and widen the small town atmosphere by encouraging; aiding and supporting locally owned and operated shops and business.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 8:41AM on April 02, 2014

Court for the Lake

Writ of Mandamus. Care for Lake Geneva, that selfless group of citizens and friends who've come together to attempt to follow and enter opinions about Lake Geneva's growth and development, are about to go to court…again. Their last battle, still tied up in Walworth court, was to uncover and make public a City of Lake Geneva violation of contract zoning between the city and the Hummel Corporation. Contract Zoning is illegal in Wisconsin (contract zoning is making secret favoring agreements with particular companies over others in the development of raw land and commerce). Now this same selfless group budgets tens of thousands to hold the city, county and state accountable for release of the longest employee/manager investigation of all time (in Lake Geneva's history). That report sits on the Attorney General's desk, and we would bet it's not going anywhere without motivation. We've already reported on the Attorney General's close relationship with a former mayor (of some disrepute) in Lake Geneva. This court filing of Mandamus, being prepared as this GSR issue is being written, is about to bring the entire matter of the investigation's unnecessary confidentiality to court. We are behind Care for Lake Geneva on this one. This investigation, which we call "The Black Hole," at over two thousand pages in length, is the best employee/manager evaluation tool Lake Geneva could be given. We intend to see that the results get published and used for wise evaluation purposes by Lake Geneva's City Council.

The coming Trevor Hotel…again. Think you know the story about this wreck of a hotel sitting there dormant on Broad Street right near the center of town? It's owned by a man named Keith Venturi. Keith runs a very successful construction business in Barrington, Illinois. He wants a half million dollars for the place but the powers that be say that his price is too high. We don't know but we do think that this man has been handed raw deal after raw deal in attempting to fix the place up. The former city building inspector would not approve a new paint job for the place or fixing the many broken windows. When Venturi replaced the windows anyway he was fined for doing so! The city would like to buy the place and then sell it!

Why would a city want to buy a private structure and then sell it? Think about how difficult a city can make it for an owner if it wants the property cheap and has another buyer at a higher price. Is that going on here? We don't know…exactly, so we won't make allegations.

The Venturi Plan. We've seen it and we love it. Venturi has expensively drafted plans to build a small four or five star boutique hotel on the footprint of the old hotel structure. We'll have the plans and present them to you in the next issue. Venturi is raising the money right now for this ambitious venture. What is his biggest obstacle? He's rightly afraid that every permit he applies for may be denied. Can he be denied legally? Probably not but then we've done some study of history in Lake Geneva to discover there has been a huge difference between ethics and law when it comes to building or development in the city.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 8:32AM on April 02, 2014

Lake Geneva's Finest

We ran a cartoon some weeks back that gave rise in some reader's minds that the front desk people working in Lake Geneva's municipal building were not performing at an acceptable level. That was a cartoon and the substance of that cartoon was intended to be entertaining, as well as a bit irreverent. It was not intended to be taken literally. The front desk people in Lake Geneva are some of the finest and hardest-working employees around, and we want to assure our readers that we understand and acknowledge that.

The Lake Geneva Lake Use Committee is back. This outfit, having representatives from every lake-touching community (Fontana, Williams Bay, Town of Linn, Lake Geneva and the Town of Walworth (they have 100 front feet of shoreline) was disbanded a few years back for lack of interest. The reinstitution of this committee could have positive impact on the lake citizenry, visitors and even the lake itself. The resource of Lake Geneva is the prime reason most people live and work around it. It is a great attractor of visitors and guests. This time around the committee needs well-chosen leadership to bring the communities together to make decisions about what's best for all of us.

The Lake Geneva City Administrator took some time to come up with a 'gifting' program, whereby interested citizens can donate money or stuff and maybe get their name put on it. The naming part of the administrator's plan is what came under fire and the program is going back for review. The City Council is very sensitive about who makes the final decision about the naming of anything in the city and we think that is a good thing.

By JAMES STRAUSS at 11:43AM on March 26, 2014

New Fiction by James Strauss

The Warrior

by James Strauss


The planet was done last December, if you heard. The Myans’ had it down. It was the end of everything. There were even specials on television talking about the finish of humankind. Nostradamus got into the...



The world according to two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Szep.


Living It

 Notice, the retail store formerly located on Main in downtown Lake Geneva, is gone. We get disturbed when we see storefronts for lease. Some of that is normal... 


Neat Stuff

They are fixing the traffic signals to accommodate slower, older and infirm pedestrians. Those people will have more time to cross the street now without extending the time the signal stays one color or the other... 


Small Junk

  What does it mean to ‘buy local’ and what price, responsibility and accountability does this phrase create in our mind?...


What's Normal

 Remember those? The city owns the riparian rights all along the southern shore of the lake. They have built piers and docks and put in moorings in order to rent those out and generate revenue. So far so good...   


The James Strauss Journal

Welcome to my forum, my symposium—my writing desk that I place before you in the middle of our world stage. From here each day I write with an impassioned hand and a caring heart. I write to learn and to teach—to illuminate those things that might prefer to remain unnoticed in the social darkness.


Original essays about the world we often don't see, the feelings we deny we have, and the truths some will do almost anything to prevent us from seeing. 

Op Ed

Opinions and rants about things so obvious we almost miss them; about things they want us to miss.


The newsstand is filled with lies, but some are more extravagant than others. Who and what should we believe? You must be the judge of that.


My fiction is not here to merely entertain you—it is here to offer deeper passage into the world, the people around us who we are not meant to see, and the challenges we face as we strive to survive in that harsh place that is our society.


The world according to the comics of two time Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist Paul Szep.


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