Lake Effect

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Between the recent Israeli elections to the deteriorating situation in Yemen, the Middle East is in the news again.

Our foreign policy contributor Art Cyr spoke with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich to put things into context, starting with the root problems creating a potential path to civil war in Yemen:

Lake Effect contributor Art Cyr is Professor of Political Economy and World Business and the Director of the A.W. Claussen Center for World Business at Carthage College in Kenosha.

Jessica Z Schafer / RAM

Take some sugar, some corn syrup, gelatin, and potassium sorbate and you have…art? 

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Even before Hurricane Katrina changed just about everything in New Orleans, the state of Louisiana had started the process of reshaping the city’s public schools, creating an entity known as the New Orleans Recovery School District.  But the storm sped up the process and was used as the catalyst for nearly a wholesale state takeover of control of schools there.

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Last week was a great one for fans of the aurora borealis.  The Northern Lights were visible far further south than normal, thanks to increased solar activity. Ambient light made seeing them basically impossible in metro Milwaukee, but out in the country, there were lots of sightings.

So what’s responsible for the shimmering, colorful atmospheric magic?  Astronomy contributor and director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at UW-Milwaukee, Jean Creighton, explained to Bonnie North exactly how they work - starting with two basic ingredients: the sun and the earth's atmosphere.

Imagined Reality / Flickr

In the past, Lake Effect's "It's a Material World" segment has looked at what happens to beloved objects when their owners passed away.

However, contributor Gianofer Fields is flipping that question on its head to find out what happens to a collector when her collection of objects has disappeared?

Fields' good friend and fellow Wisconsinite Jen Jeneric says she isn't much of a collector and the state of her precious collection of playing cards proves that point. 

"Probably about 20 years ago I went to Niagra Falls and I bought a set of playing cards there that was round and had pictures from Niagra Falls, and I loved those playing cards. And I started noticing other playing cards when I went out places, so I started collecting playing cards. I have probably twenty decks of playing cards, but I have no idea where they are," says Jeneric.

Jeneric says that doesn't mean she doesn't miss the pieces she hand-selected, but she also doesn't feel any anxiety over her lost collection.

"I don't feel like I need to know where they are. Knowing that I have them and that one day I'll see them again is really all I need."

Ed Schipul / Flickr

Many of us collect things - from stamps to movie ticket stubs, glassware to baseball cards - and our collections vary in intensity and size. For the past couple of weeks, material culture contributor Gianofer Fields has been exploring the lives of collectors and their connection with the objects they love. But she found herself wondering, what happens to a collection when the collector is gone?

The question was inspired by the collection that Wisconsinite Sam SanFallippo kept in the basement of his funeral home – a collection that Fields calls the best kept non-secret of Madison.

The basement of the Cress Funeral Home was home to hundreds of taxidermy specimens. You could find everything from stuffed sail fish to red eye squirrels driving a pink Cadillac on a freeway of love in the afterlife.

SanFallippo passed away last year. His funeral home was sold and the collection needed to find a new home. In this installment of it's a material world, Fields sets out to discover what happened to his collection.


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There are three basic things that people need to survive food, shelter, and, clothing. How we choose to fulfill those needs gives others in our communities clues about who we are. But contributor Gianofer Fields says it's the stuff we don't need, the non essentials, that tell the bigger story. She paid a visit to the home of Madisonian and avid toy collector David Pouncey. 

"Once I had two or three of them, then you can't just have two or three. So then I just start looking around for them, and it just grows and sometimes it gets out of hand," says Pouncey.

wisconsinhistory.org

Our Radio Chipstone series explores the place of objects in our lives - from the mundane to the remarkable.  So it's perhaps no surprise that producer Gianofer Fields found herself at an organization that is the repository for significant objects spanning the history of Wisconsin - the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Lee Grady, the senior reference archivist, gave Gianofer a tour to give us a sense of the scope of the Society's collection, and to take a closer look at an original Thomas Jefferson letter.

"It makes you feel more in the moment...you  see an image of a Thomas Jefferson letter or you see it quoted in a book, that's one thing. But to actually see the handwriting, see the letter that the person held in their hand...there is something special about that," says Grady.

The Wisconsin Historical Society's headquarters is located at 816 State St. in Madison, WI with hours available for the public to visit in both the library and archives.

Gianofer Fields

Art has always been a way for artists to express and expel deep emotions - think Picasso’s blue period.

Madison artist and schoolteacher JoAnn Jensen also puts her feelings in her pieces. But her medium isn’t canvas – rather her works are made from objects she finds.

Contributor Gianofer Fields wanted to know if these objects have their own story, if they can inspire emotions on their own - or if Jensen uses the object to her own devices.

"Sometimes when things get bleakest, that's the therapeutic version of art where you dive into your guts and yank 'em out and throw 'em around on a canvas or build something out of them. But even with that, there's an aspect of humor to the things that I do," says Jensen.

Anthony Gavin / Flickr

Contributor Gianofer Fields, host of Lake Effect's Radio Chipstone series, has begun a kind of series within a series she’s calling Curator’s Choice. She asks a curator at a museum or historical society to pick a favorite object from the collection and tell us a little story about it. This week we meet Joe Kaplan, Curator for the Division of Museums and Historic Sites at the Wisconsin Historical Society. His favorite thing is an object that promotes what many consider to be a vice….gambling.

"Where's 'one-armed bandit' phrase come from? Comes from the draw, arm, pull, on the side of the most common gaming machine - the slot machine. It takes your money, it robs you and you don't realize it's robbing you," says Kaplan.

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