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My husband is a non-believer.

I don’t mean to say he isn’t religious. At least, I don’t mean to just say that he isn’t religious. There are lots of things that Rand doesn’t believe in or ascribe to. Here is a short list:

  • Tarot cards
  • Palm readers
  • Any type of healing that involves crystals
  • Putting sugar in your tea/coffee/booze
  • Using coupons
  • Pre-rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher
  • PUTTING DIRTY CLOTHES IN THE GODDAMN HAMPER INSTEAD OF LEAVING THEM IN A PILE OF THE GROUND (Ahem.)
  • The afterlife
  • Taking vitamins
  • Holding your breath while driving through tunnels
  • The existence of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or any other awesome and totally real creature
  • Listening to the nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach
  • Obeying the GPS

He’s perfectly respectful of people who do believe in those things. I’ve never heard him ever disparage the views of those who think differently than he (as long as those views aren’t intolerant in and of themselves).

But despite being open-minded, he remains a skeptic and a devil’s advocate; the first one to scream that the emperor is naked, to pull the curtain back and reveal that the Wizard of Oz is just a small, skinny man.

Rand doesn’t really believe in anything. Except for the Green Bay Packers.

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Then he’s about as devout as they come.

I don’t quite know how it happened. Rand’s family is from New York and Jersey. He’s lived in Seattle for practically his entire life. He’d never even been to Wisconsin.

But he loves their football team. Quietly, intently, and occasionally accompanied by a little dance. He gives a variant of reasons why (most notably, he loves the fact that the town owns the team. The Packers aren’t backed by some massive investment group; there is no aging billionaire in a suit watching home games from an executive suite. Instead, they are a non-profit; concession stands at the stadium are run by volunteers, with more than half that revenue going to local charities).

Like all great loves, I don’t try to dissect it; I just accept it. And eventually, in some small way, I inherited it. That seems to be a common trait with fans of the Packers. Their devotion is handed down to them from generations before them, and passed along to younger ones.

I don’t mean to suggest that I’m one of the Green Bay faithful. Hell, football in general still boggles my brain. I need Rand to occasionally clarify penalties for me (the subtleties of pass interference escape me), and I secretly wish that the signal for holding was this instead of this. (Also, how cool would it be if a little puff of smoke erupted every time someone threw down a challenge flag? The NFL should totally hire me.) But I’ve grown to really like watching football – especially when I get to watch it with my husband.

Plus, I get to say positively obscene things about the physiques of the players, and he just quietly smiles and shakes his head. Some examples:

  • “I think that Eric Decker needs to play either shirtless or pants-less. At this point, I’m pretty flexible. I’ll take either one.”
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  • “So … they only call Donald Driver in for special plays? Like … when they need a bit more excessive handsomeness on the field?”
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  • “I think that all of the Falcons players should rub Tony Gonzalez’s abs for good luck prior to every game. I’d be happy to demonstrate .”

See? I’m awful. I kind of owe my poor husband for all he puts up with.

And so, when we were in Milwaukee, and realized that Green Bay was a mere two hours away, there was no question as to what we’d be doing with one of our days in Wisconsin.

I was taking Rand on a pilgrimage. We were going to tour Lambeau Field, home of the Packers.

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You know the old and tired expression about a kid in a candy store? I think it should be officially retired. From now on, I’m using “Rand at Lambeau field.”

This is his “stop taking pictures so we can go inside and also, OMG” face.

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I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him happier. Maybe on our wedding day. Maybe.

The drive was flat and straight, the sky hazy until it gave way to sunshine.  Rand took a few business calls, while I drove and eavesdropped on his conversations.

I wave to the camera.

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I’d never been in this part of the country before. It was beautiful.

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Just under two hours later, we’d arrived.

Green Bay is not a big town – about 100,000 people live there. But the scope of the Packers extends far beyond city limits; the stadium seats 70,000, and every game is sold out. The waiting list for tickets is a few hundred thousand people long.

I wondered if the town would be crushed by the presence of the Packers, but it embraces it wholeheartedly. There isn’t even ambivalence. Only love.

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There is a huge parking lot at Lambeau – a small but significant detail that I liked. Even on a non-game day, there were quite a few cars out front. Clearly, the tours are popular.

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To understand the significance of football to the town, you have go back in time a bit.

The Packers are one of the oldest franchises in the NFL – they started in Green Bay in 1919, back when football was populated by a bunch of sepia-toned men running around in leather hats. One of the founders was a gentleman by the name of Earl “Curly” Lambeau (parenthetically, I wish that grown men could still run around with nicknames like that. The world would be a better place if we had people like François “Curly” Hollande and Silvio “Crazy Legs” Berlusconi.) The field where the Packers play was renamed in his honor.

At the time of the Packers’ founding, there were lots of similar small town teams. They all had delightful old-timey monikers like the Muncie Flyers, The Columbus Panhandles (“HOW IS THAT A MASCOT?” – my brain), and my personal favorite, The Kenosha Maroons.

The Maroons apparently had just one awful season before disintegrating. Consequently, I want a Kenosha Maroon jersey.

A few NFL teams can trace their origins back to that era, though their names have changed. In the 1920s, the Chicago Bears were known as the Decatur Staleys (named after the Staley Food Starch Company. This might be the greatest fact in the history of facts). The Detroit Lions were, in the 1930s, called the Portsmouth Spartans.

Only the Packers have remained in the same town, with the same name, for nearly a century. Naturally, the locals have grown quite fond of them.

But NFL teams are notoriously expensive (those little under-eye stickers are not cheap, it would seem), and so the team has had to raise money several times. They do so by selling stock in the team – literally – with the understanding that the stock won’t appreciate in value. Owners have no voting rights, and the stock can’t be resold to another party (though it can, like one’s allegiance to the Packers, be handed down from family member to family member). Oh, and there’s a limit to how many shares you can by, ensuring that no one party can have a controlling stake in the franchise.

If the team is ever sold (a near impossibility, given that it belongs to its many shareholders) the Articles of Incorporation state that the proceeds will go to a number of non-profits and charities across the state of Wisconsin.

In short: the Packers will always belong to its fans.

Our tickets included a stadium tour and a trip to the Packers Hall of Fame (which is self-guided, so we left it for later).

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As we waited for the tour to begin, Rand was so excited, he couldn’t sit still. He kept jiggling his foot nervously.

Even with a quick shutter speed, it’s blurry.

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And yes, we coordinated our footwear for the occasion.

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There were about 20 or so people on our tour. Our guide took us up to one of the luxury boxes, and then down past the locker rooms (which we couldn’t actually enter), and through the same walkway that the Packers take to head out on to the field.

Okay, so now imagine it filled with about 100,000 people all dressed in green and gold and wearing foam cheeseheads while screaming.

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Lambeau field was renovated just a decade ago, but these bricks were taken from earlier incarnations of the stadium, and placed on the walkway.

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It’s so that the players of today can cross the same ground as other Packers before them. I found that rather beautiful.

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Like I said, my husband is not a religious man. He doesn’t believe in much. But seeing him out there on the field, touching the wall where the Lambeau leap happens? It was clear that in his world, this was no small thing.

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We had our moment there, on the field and in the sun.

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This is not to say that there was no levity or joy amidst all the reverence.

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There was boatloads of that.

He is my goober.

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The other visitors eyed us somewhat warily. We visited Lambeau the week after Green Bay’s loss in Seattle, the result of a call so misguided, it was a turning point in bringing the striking NFL refs back to work.

Each time we mentioned where we were from, eyebrows would raise. We did receive less ribbing that the lovely old man from Minnesota who was on our tour (the Vikings and the Packers have a loong rivalry), though. So I guess there’s that.

And you know what? The field goal posts are waaay narrower than they look on TV. I need to stop giving poor Mason Crosby such a hard time. It’s not like he gets a lot of practice.

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After the tour, we made our way down to the Hall of Fame. There, on display, were tons of relics from Packers’ history.

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Telegrams to Vince Lombardi from the 1950s …

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Packers stock certificates throughout the years …

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Old iterations of the uniform …

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And all four of Green Bay’s Super Bowl trophies.

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Also, whatever the hell is going on here:

Me: “That looks obscene. Go stand in the middle of it.” Rand: “But-” Me: “GO STAND IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. And smile.”

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\Before we left, we did something my husband has wanted to do for years (no, I don’t mean making out in front of the stadium. But that happened, too). We got him a Donald Driver jersey from Lambeau field. He wears it once every weekend during the regular season, and twice as often during the post-season.

Gah. My heart.

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It’s funny, what you learn from your loved ones. They pass on to you things that may seem arbitrary or silly to someone else. But in your home and your life, they are important.

Rand taught me about the game. He helped me master the art of screaming at the TV, “HOW IS THAT NOT A HOLD?” He instilled in me a love of the Packers (and an even greater love for my Seahawks), and an appreciation for the simple pleasure of sitting in front of the TV, eating wings, and heckling Tom Brady.

He taught me that football can bring people together.

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He made me a believer.

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The Essentials on The Lambeau Field Tour and The Packers Hall of Fame

  • Verdict: Are you a Packers fan? If so, then you don’t need me to tell you to visit. And if you aren’t a Packers fan? Well, you’re missing out.
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  • How to Get There: We drove – it’s about 2 hours from Milwaukee, and makes for a nice day trip.
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  • Ideal for: Packers and NFL fans, as well as anyone who loves American sports history.
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  • Insider tips: Tickets regularly sell out, and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. They run often – about once an hour on weekdays, and once every half hour on weekends. There are no tours on gamedays. We called ahead (before we left Milwaukee) to check availability, and were told that it was a slow day (Tuesday), so there wouldn’t be any problems. Still, we gave ourselves enough time that if we missed one tour, we had a chance of getting into the following one.
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  • Nearby Food: We ended up eating at Curly’s Pub, inside the stadium. It’s what you’d expect from bar food, but still pretty damn good. The fried cheese curds threatened to clog our arteries. And yet, we continued to eat them.
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    Oh, and across the street from the field is Kroll’s West. According to Gary over at Everything-Everywhere (who’s a native Wisconsinite), Kroll’s is a bit of an institution in Green Bay, having been in operation for more than 70 years. The food isn’t necessarily stellar (think greasy spoon/diner-type food), but it’s supposedly a fun place.
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  • Good for kids: Not really. There’s a lot of sitting and standing, and it’s not what I’d call stroller-friendly. However, if you have an older kid or a teenager who’s a big Packers fan, they will love it.
Full list of categories:  Attractions » City Guide » Loving the Entrepreneur
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Comments (27)

  1. 23. Jan, 2013 / erin fryauff:

    This might be my favorite post yet! My husband is also a devout Packer fan (from NJ, though his Dad is from Wisconsin). I did not watch football growing up, so I was a little lost when we first started dating. So, you guys sit around the TV every Sunday from September to December, wearing foam cheese hats, eating junk food (copious amounts of cheese here also), watching handsome men prance around a football field in tight pants (Donald is my fave!), and its acceptable and actually encouraged to shout expletives at the screen?! COUNT ME IN! We haven’t made it to Lambeau yet, but it’s very high on our list. And I imagine that when it does happen, my camera will be filled with pictures much like yours. Thanks for the great post! And Go Pack Go (next year :-/)!

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  2. 23. Jan, 2013 / Kyla:

    Thank you for finally getting to Wisconsin and the Packers. I have been waiting in anticipation of this post since I heard you were here. And thank you for giving some love to this oft-neglected state, people don’t often realize how beautiful it can be, especially in the fall when the leaves are turning. Also, I thought Rand was pretty awesome before, but now that I know how much he loves the Pack…he’s definitely gone up a level in my book. Thanks Geraldine!

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  3. 23. Jan, 2013 / Gary Arndt:

    That Rand is a keeper.

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  4. 23. Jan, 2013 / Naomi:

    This has to be one of my favorite posts! I am a “cheesehead” from Wisconsin. I am pretty sure I was probably a Packer fan in the womb =) I am so glad you got to visit Lambeau – it’s almost mind boggling the first time you visit and as a Packer fan, every time I step foot into that stadium, I just about cry. Having been to many many games, both in the skybox and the actual seats, I cannot tell you how electric that stadium becomes during a game. My family is one of the many who has season tickets handed down from grandparents, to aunts to uncles and now the kids. I am next in line and I just cannot believe it. I will be able to hand these down to my kids and my grandson will one day get to experience this awesome stadium and team. Thank you for sharing your visit and thank you for watching our team!! I am just sad now that the season is over – I miss putting on my jersey every weekend and screaming at the top of my lungs – which of course is very embarrasing to my husband who is not a football fan, but puts up with my antics anyway. I hope you get to come back and visit and actually get to see a game someday. Thank you!

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  5. 23. Jan, 2013 / Carmel:

    What a fun tour! Boy, does he look happy.

    We’re Broncos fans, but my husband is from upstate NY and lived in Denver for a whopping 2 months once later in life, hoping he would like it. Everyone has their reasons. His is John Elway.

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  6. 23. Jan, 2013 / Sareena:

    Lovely post! I’m from England and the only football I know about is European! Nonetheless, this was an insightful read. You ought to get the picture of Rand and yourself in front of the stadium framed :)

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  7. 23. Jan, 2013 / Laura:

    Rand’s awesomeness level just rose about 1,000%. I’m one of those generational Packers fans… though I live in L.A. now, I still don my cheesehead proudly every Sunday. This post made me so, so happy.

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  8. 23. Jan, 2013 / englishcan:

    Rand’s shoes have brightened my day. And now, even though I’m female, I am on a mission to acquire a pair for myself.

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  9. 23. Jan, 2013 / Alexandra Shiels:

    Oooh, I loved this post so much, especially the part about the intense, infectious love that Packers fans have. My boyfriend and his brother passed it on to me. If you would’ve told me that I would’ve been interested in football a few years ago, much less become a Packers fan, I would’ve laughed heartily in your face (I grew up in a nerdy, non-sports watching family in New York) but now I’m happy to say I really enjoy it and have learned a lot, even though my boyfriend, his brother, and his wife have to explain a lot to me. I am excited to go to Lambeau Field when we finally get around to going to WI.

    Driver is a handsome gentleman, but there’s something about Clay Matthews. I’m not even into guys with long hair, but hot damn—that mane is gorgeous!

    Awesome pictures too, you guys look like you always have so much fun together :)

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  10. 23. Jan, 2013 / Alexandra Shiels:

    Also, speaking of football bringing people together, have you seen Friday Night Lights? Such a great show and that is one of the main themes.

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  11. 23. Jan, 2013 / Boopsie:

    I’m stoked that you and Rand went to Lambeau Field! My father has been a Green Bay Packer fan all of his life because he is from Northeastern Wisconsin. While my father was the one who raised me and got me hooked on football at an early age, I am a forever and ever die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan. Most likely because my father moved to Minnesota after he married my mother. I love my purple and gold. We’ve been to Lambeau Field and the Packers-Vikings game a few times. While it is fun to visit Lambeau Field – the Packer fans are a hit and miss. We can handle a good ribbing any-day but some are downright rude and we managed to avoid them. We’ve been pretty lucky so far. Funny, my husband and I live in Wisconsin now and we hang our giant Minnesota Vikings inflatable in our front yard with pride. One of our friends also lives in Wisconsin and has his house decorated with Minnesota Vikings stuff. For every game the Vikings play – about 1 hour before kickoff, he goes to the end of his driveway and blows his Vikings horn (http://www.hark.com/clips/kjkwchsbsp-minnesota-vikings-horn). Awesome! I leave you with our fight song. SKOL VIKINGS! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgRjBIcFz5o

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  12. 23. Jan, 2013 / Cindy:

    Ahhh… the love of the Packers! You made me tear up! Awesome Post! You really captured the essence of what is a Packer Fan… Thank You! Cindy

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  13. 23. Jan, 2013 / Andi:

    Even though I’m a HUGE 49ers fan (Yes Super Bowl!!!), still enjoyed this post. Looks like an interesting tour and I would go, while wearing a 49ers jersey of course.

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  14. 23. Jan, 2013 / Just One Boomer (Suzanne):

    How did you manage to write an entire essay about Lambeau Field without once using the phrase “frozen tundra” as in “the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field”? Next season when you watch Packers’ games, count how many times the announcers refer to the “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field”. Or, you could make up a game, like Rand has to kiss you every time they say that. You will be well kissed.

    Now, about those fried cheese curds — OMG!!

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  15. 24. Jan, 2013 / riyas:

    Now you guys instilled the love of Packers in me too. Awesome post :)

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  16. 24. Jan, 2013 / Adrian Meli:

    Gotta love the Pack! What a great post….I already can’t wait for next season :-)

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  17. 24. Jan, 2013 / Katie:

    This was really fun to read! As a Wisconsinite I am a lifetime Packer fan. And I went to college in the Green Bay area so Lambeau Field is just a part of everyday life which is really cool (my roommate in college also saw AJ Hawk in Festival and he is often seen at the coffeeshop near campus). I also think it is so cool how so many people from around the country love the Packers. Even if the Packers aren’t a person’s favorite team, they are so many people’s second favorite team. It is practically impossible to hate the Packers. They are just so great.

    Also, it makes me excited to know that you drove past my hometown (Sheboygan, WI) on your way to Green Bay.

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  18. 24. Jan, 2013 / The Young Bigmouth:

    What’s football? In India, we know only cricket and it is no less than a religion. So, yes, I understand.

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  19. 24. Jan, 2013 / Mike:

    This was one of my favorite posts that you’ve written (among dozens and dozens)! I’m not a Packers fan but I’ve heard about these tours and all the history they have there. And I’ve always really liked that they are a publicly owned team. I absolutely have had a Lambeau tour on my sports bucket list things to do. I’ve heard that restaurant across the street is where the players will come sit down with the fans and chat with them. As I scrolled through reading the post and looking at the pics I was hoping to see one of Rand doing a Lambeau Leap in the endzone!

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  20. 24. Jan, 2013 / Shelby:

    So glad you were able to post about Lambeau Field! My boyfriend and his entire family was born and raised in Wisconsin before moving to Arizona. Two summers ago we went on vacation there and it will be an experience I will never forget. I was born and raised a die-hard Cardinals fan (I know, I know), but my dad has also been a high school football coach since before I was born, so lets just say football is huge for me. It was really hard for me to root for the Packers, but as soon as I stepped onto Lambeau field, I got it. My boyfriend had a similar reaction to Rand, and being a football fan, it was definitely once-in-a-lifetime. I even bought a Packers shirt! It was fun seeing your pictures from the tour because I have very similar ones. And you’re right, the cheese curds are AMAZING!

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  21. 24. Jan, 2013 / Erin:

    I love you. I love your husband. I love Donald Driver. I love Wisconsin. And I love me some cheese curds (If you thought they were good at Curley’s, you should have tried them at Krolls!)

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  22. 26. Jan, 2013 / Sylvia:

    Wait… thoseare stckers under their eyes. Merde alors, I’d always thought it was eye make-up. I some how find this news unsettling.
    Oh, and his real nickname is Flamby. Flamby François Hollande. Although its enough for me that his name is another country. Imagine it… President Barack Omexico!

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  23. 26. Jan, 2013 / Sylvia:

    Wait… those are stckers under their eyes? Stickers? Really? I’d always thought it was eye make-up. I some how find this news unsettling.
    Oh, and his real nickname is Flamby. Flamby François Hollande. Although its enough for me that his name is another country. Imagine it… President Barack Omexico!

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  24. 28. Jan, 2013 / Mike:

    What they need for the challenge flags: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFJGLkANJ_M#t=35s

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  25. 30. Jan, 2013 / Gillian:

    The progeny of his love for Greenbay comes from his dad, oddly enough. His dad is passionate about the fact that the city of Greenbay owns them… and equally negatively passionate/angry about the fact that following the public purchase of the team, the other team owners made it impossible for any other team to also be purchased by a city/locality, thereby protecting their nasty little club of ‘rich men only’ owning teams.

    Passion for being straight-up, transparent, honorable, and good runs so strong in both their veins.

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  26. 14. Mar, 2013 / Sylvia:

    I thought of this post and your (not sarcastic) appreciation of Milwaukee today, when at work in France, a French person told me to check out the über cool website of the Milwaukee Police Dept.
    I thought maybe they were being sarcastic, or puling my jambe, but no, its very hip.
    Check it out on a lap top (the parallax design doesn’t work on mobile devices).
    http://www.milwaukeepolicenews.com/#menu=home-page

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  27. 04. Oct, 2013 / Zach F.:

    Soooo…I’m a little late to comment on this post, oh well. It’s a fact that everyone who reads your blog thinks, “OMG we would be best friends in real life” (somehow implying that you exist in something other than “real life”) But after reading about your and Rand’s shared affinity for all things Green and Gold, I can confidently say that we WOULD be best friends (my wife already has a girl-crush on you). Even if you hated our guts, we would no doubt set that aside on Sunday afternoons in the fall.

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