Sarah was sick most of last week with a really nasty cold. In my usual understated fashion, I took to calling it "The Plague."Before either of us would leave, I would make sure to collect a "Plague Kiss" from her. Unfortunately, I must have collected too many Plague Kisses, because I got the Plague last Wednesday. Delightfully enough, I still have the Plague today.

In addition to rubbing our noses raw, Sarah and I have been busy. Last Saturday, we started dog sitting while some friends of ours went to Spain for two weeks. Maya, a six year old reddish Golden Retriever is staying with us through next Monday. She's a different personality than Dalla. While Dalla couldn't care less about chasing Frisbees, Maya lives to grab Frisbees out of the air. Dalla generally doesn't care much for toys unless they have some value to another dog. Maya places a very high value on toys. So, for the next week-plus we'll have two dogs to follow our every move in the kitchen.

Friday night, I sold programs for the UW/Alaska Anchorage Men's Hockey Playoff game at the Dane County Coliseum. The building was built in the late sixties or early seventies, so it's definitely past its salad days. Compared to the Kohl Center the Coliseum looks especially dated. My initial thought as I walked around the building was, "What a dump." That thought was shared, out loud, by many of the people entering the building. After a while, I realized that the Coliseum isn't really a dump, it just isn't as new as the Kohl Center. In fact, compared to The MaracanĂ¡ in Rio de Janeiro, the Coliseum is actually a marvel of modern American sports construction. For instance, let's compare a men's room in the Coliseum to one in the The MaracanĂ¡:

Dane County ColiseumThe MaracanĂ¡
UrinalsRelatively clean, ceramic, individual urinals with electronic flushOne long, none-too-deep concrete trough
SinksCeramic sinks with cold waterNone
SoapLiquid hand soap in wall dispensers; one per sinkNone
Hand Drying TechnologyNo-touch, warm air hand dryers None

What I realized was that all these people probably had no basis for comparison. They probably thought, "Compared to the Kohl Center, this place isn't very nice." But, most of them probably don't realize just how nice they have it.

At most the Coliseum holds 10,000 people in climate controlled comfort with concessions regulated by a health agency and a surrounding neighborhood that would never be described as a slum.

The MaracanĂ¡ holds upwards of 175,000 in tropical heat and humidity with concessions dispensed by random guys wandering the aisles and a surrounding neighborhood so rife with crime, drugs, and poverty that a platoon of Marines might think twice about entering it.

Perhaps some of my fellow Wisconsin residents could use a healthy injection of perspective.

Sarah went to the game there Saturday night with one of her friends, and they both agreed that it is a better place to watch hockey than the Kohl Center. The building is older, but the sightlines are better, the fans are closer to the action, and the piped in music is less obnoxious.

We also jumped into the world of satellite radio last week with our acquisition of a Delphi Roady2 XM Radio receiver. During the six months of the NFL offseason, we just don't watch much television. We mostly use our DirecTV service during those months to listen to commercial free music (especially jazz since there is no Madison jazz station). Rather than pay over $40/month for a handful of radio stations, we decided to pay less than $15/month for a hundred or more stations. So, for six months, we'll just have broadcast television and satellite radio. The first year we won't save much money (though we'll save some) because of the equipment costs, but the next year we'll save a fair amount.

The weekend before last we had some gorgeous weather here in Madison. On Sunday, it even got to sixty degrees. That day really awoke the gardening bug within us. Unfortunately, we've had nothing but cold, snowy, windy weather since.

Ira is still in the vegetable crisper in the fridge. He is holding steady at 12.1 ounces. I'm ordered him a new heat lamp, and when it arrives, I'll wake him up for the spring and summer.