Monday, Jul. 6th, 2015

Super Kubb Tee

Just in time for the US National Kubb Championship – held every July here in Eau Claire – The Local Store has released what we feel is one of the very coolest kubb shirts in the world – yes world! By city decree, Eau Claire is the "Kubb Capital of North America" and The Local Store has always been a huge supporter of the sport, so we just had to produce a great tee to back all that up. Designed in-house, the new shirt is screen printed by the fine folks at Ambient Inks right here in town.

Kubb is one of the fastest growing lawn sports in the country, and Eau Claire is well known for it's love of the game, which originated in Sweden. The shirt features all of the game's playing pieces. 

Grab your own kubb tee in the shop or online! $22.

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Wisconsin's Most Distinctive Cause of Death Isn't Exciting Enough

Every state is different, and in them, people die in different ways like special, accident-prone snowflakes. The CDC has issued this map charting the most "distinctive" causes of death in each state. I expected Wisconsin's to be something like "snowmobile collision with deer while eating cheese." But no; we're part of a boring six state cluster that dies of "other and acute lower respiratory infections."

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Actually, when you look the map, we seem to be just about as boring as everyone else. Most of the entries are boring diseases like Tuberculosis and even Influenza (that's the freaking flu). Two of the more interesting entries are Arizona's "discharge of firearms, undetermined intent" and Idaho's "water, air and space, and other unspecified transport accidents and their sequelae." Idaho sounds like it might have a Bermuda Triangle-esque problem. But seriously; no "impact from falling piano?" No "mauled by saber-toothed tiger?" No "angered local baron and lost in a duel?" You disappoint me, America. 

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Friday, Jul. 3rd, 2015

Fat Albert Packs a Punch

Photo: Chippewa Valley Air Show
Photos: Chippewa Valley Air Show

When people think of the Blue Angels, most people think of the F-18 Fighter jets. While they aren’t wrong, a big, blue C-130 jet-assisted cargo plane is also part of the Blue Angel entourage. While not as sleek or stylish as its more recognized counterparts, Fat Albert still packs a punch.

I was one of 9 media passengers and about twenty members of the National Guard and Navy on Fat Albert when it flew a demonstration over Eau Claire earlier today (Friday, July 3) in anticipation of the Chippewa Valley Air Show (July 4 and 5). While I’ve been on several dozen commercial flights in my time, this was nothing like anything I’d ever experienced before.

After several briefings on the runway and ten minutes of exploration time onboard, we were instructed to buckle up and enjoy the ensuing ride. While your typical commercial airliner ascends at approximately 10 degrees, Fat Albert does so at a 45-degree angle. During takeoff, we experienced two G’s, pushing us back into our seats and were then quickly subjected to negative G’s, launching us into the upper limits of our harnesses.

Don't worry, they didn't let me drive it.
Don't worry, they didn't let me drive it.

As I was strapped into the sides of this vessel and familiarizing myself with the se extreme physical forces, the crew members chose to stand the whole time, only holding on when no other option presented itself.

While the ups and downs of this flight were certainly stimulating, the sharp turns are what really made me nearly lose my intentionally light lunch. This plane turns at about sixty degrees and then immediately does so the other direction, while your typical airliner rarely does so at more than 15 degrees.

The big turns, steep climbs and intense dives went on for nearly ten minutes, until we made one last dive toward the runway, touched ground; and then the pilots immediately slammed on the brakes, bringing us to an abrupt stop. We were all thrown forward again as we skidded to a burnt rubber-scented stop. It took me a few minutes to reacquaint my legs with the ground, but I was happy to be back on land.

NOTE: The guy sporting the aviator shades is NOT a pilot.
Fun fact: The guy sporting the aviator shades is the only one who isn't a pilot.

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Thursday, Jul. 2nd, 2015

We Stuck an Intern in a Stunt Plane

Photos: Chippewa Valley Air Show
Photos: Chippewa Valley Air Show

Editor's Note: Volume One was lucky enough to be offered a ride in a sweet-looking stunt plane, courtesy of the Chippewa Valley Air Show. So we stuffed our intern James into it and said, "Good luck, man!" 

Modern flight can seem a mundane, if not tedious affair. After my flight with Mike Wiskus, I have a new appreciation for flight and the machines that make us do it.

Intern James, shown here heading right into the Danger Zone.
Intern James, shown here heading right into the Danger Zone.

When I got my first look at the aircraft I’d be riding in, I half-thought it was a remote-controlled plane. Mike showed me how to climb into the plane – a two-seat craft called a “Pitts” – which required a minor balancing act, and strapping into a straight jacket-like seat and parachute. Hearing the “p-word” made me almost trip into the cockpit, but thinking of it as more of an airborne life preserver made the experience seem less dire.

See? It's really James in there.
See? It's really James in there.

But what about the stunts?

We did tight rolls, barrel rolls, steep banks, climbs, and a whole assortment of stunts that I can only describe by sweeping my hands around in front of me while making airplane sounds.After two vertical loops had left me literally breathless, Mike told me to “look up” and I saw that we were bulleting straight towards the ground. Mike pulled us back into a gentle glide and by then it was time to return to the Earth. My stomach agreed with him.

Mike is the kind of guy who, despite flying and doing aerobatic stunts for decades, bursts with enthusiasm for sharing it with people. You can watch him do his aerobatic stunts on July 4th and 5th at the Chippewa Valley Air Show. You can learn more about his air shows at Lucas Oil Air Shows and visit his Facebook page for more information about upcoming events.

See this thing in action!

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Wisconsin loves frozen pizza. A lot.

Yep, thinking about it.
Yep, thinking about it.

America might be an increasingly sedentary culture, but that doesn't mean we need to see the numbers to prove it. The Washington Post's Wonkblog put together an index of American couch potato habits. The index features charts calculating everything from which states are the worst at exercise, watch the most television, talk about soap operas, buy Laz-E-Boy chairs, and other unflattering things to measure. Like what, you ask?

In most of the charts, Wisconsin ranges in about the middle of American laziness. But, according to Google's metrics, we search for more information about frozen pizzas online than anyone else. Our nearest competitors are Minnesota and Illinois, both behind us by 16 pizza points.

I get it, Wonkblog. I need to exercise more. But don't judge us; we spend four months out of the year without sun. Of course we're going to stock up on pizza.

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Wednesday, Jul. 1st, 2015

Wisconsin Drinks the Most ... Hooray?

Filed under "statistics that surprise absolutely no one." See a bigger version.

It's common knowledge among Wisconsinites that we're the biggest drinkers in America. What with the state's surplus of bars and breweries and its strong German heritage, this should come as little surprise to the rest of the country. But, in case there are any doubts that Oregon's menagerie of microbrews, Texas's beer-guzzling cowboys, or California's rolling hills of wineries might have us beat, we've got you covered. did a study of drinking in America with statistics ranging from 2011 to 2013, and the results reinforce everything that I ever knew about drinking in Wisconsin. Both good and bad.

What on Earth is going on in the midwest? See a biggie.

Wisconsinites take the lead in percentage of drinkers, heavy drinkers, and binge drinkers. The runner up in all of those categories is Washington D.C., which I suppose says something about the people running the country. In terms of number of drinkers in Wisconsin, we come statistically close to states in the upper northeast (like Massachusetts and Vermont) and upper west (like Montana and North Dakota). Heavy drinking is distributed pretty evenly across the country, while Wisconsin sits at the center of a cluster of midwestern states that have a lot of binge drinkers. Heavy drinking and binge drinking both carry the risks of severe health problems, so not all of these statistics are worth celebrating.

 Click over to to read the full story.

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Monday, Jun. 29th, 2015

Fowl Behavior: Giant Duckie Stages Adorable Aquatic Invasion

Photos: Ann Sessions
Photos: Ann Sessions

On Saturday (June 27) a large, adorable duckie appeared floating in the Chippewa River, right at the Confluence, off the tip of Phoenix Park's tube landing. From what we're told, this is the work of infamous longtime L.A. street artist “Wild Life.” Wild Life, as you may remember, was responsible for a bovine invasion on the (then closed) 'High Bridge' over the Chippewa River in 2012. Read all about it:

The artist behind the sculptures was Wildlife, a street artist from Los Angeles who has gained some notoriety in a city known for its public art. And it turns out Wild Life – who remains anonymous to keep the focus on his art and due to his "career choice" – grew up right here in Eau Claire before moving to L.A. in 1992. 

It's gone now – we assume the city (or a tuber in desperate need of a seaworthy companion) removed it. A big thanks to Ann Sessions for sending us these duck-tastic photos! 

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Brewers Fans Ranked #6th in Nation ... At Grammar

As a follow up to Grammarly's previously published ranking of grammar proficiency among NFL fans, the grammar-check website has put together a new list that's sure to hit home. This time they've ranked grammar proficiency among MLB fans and while Wisconsin isn't top of the class this time around we are pretty close. 

Fans of the Cleveland Indians take valedictorian with only 3.6 errors per 100 words. Brewers fans hedge out Twins fans at 5.3 and 5.8 errors respectively. Fortunately, most midwest teams are well ahead of the bottom of the class: New York Mets fans. Mets fans make 13.9 mistakes per 100 words.

You can learn more about Grammarly at

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Saturday, Jun. 27th, 2015

America: Messing with the Lines

At the intersection of three of my great loves—maps, fiction, and American history— sits this map. Neil Freeman, artist and urban planner, developed it in 2012 as part of a suggestion to redraw the state lines of America. No joke.

Freeman’s America consists of 50 states with equal population. He used 2010 census data, so each of the newly formed states has roughly 6,175,000 people within its borders. The result is that densely populated metropolises became their own state (or two) while areas where people are more spread out morphed into bigger states.

Each state with roughly 6,175,000 people. Get a closer look!
Each state with roughly 6,175,000 people. Get a closer look!

Freeman took some artistic liberties in naming new states — not one carries over its birth name — but I quite like them. The names are taken from important towns and cities, counties, mountain ranges, bodies of water, people, plants, ecological regions, or even songs.

Let’s take a look at what became of Wisconsin ...

Goodbye La Crosse and Racine. Hello Michigan.
Goodbye Racine. Hello Michigan.

Eau Claire now sits on "Menominee’s" western border with Mesabi. Our new state has reclaimed the upper peninsula (about time) as well as absorbing about half of what was once Michigan. Menominee’s southwestern border moved down while giving up Racine County to the newly formed state of Gary (for the greater metropolis area of Chicago).

This map is a fun way to look at the American population a little differently. It’s an art project and shouldn’t be taken as a serious proposal, but state lines have changed before. Maybe its time to take back the upper peninsula, hand over a couple towns, and fly the "Menominee" state flag. 


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