Thursday, January 31, 2008


Time now to talk of many things -- shoes, ships, sealing wax, cabbages and Choco-Pie. I don't remember the exact moment during my time in Japan when I discovered Choco-Pies, but discover them I did. A sometime treat for me in those days, because they were a bit expensive in their shiny boxes of eight (or was it 10?), I enjoyed them anyway, the MoonPies of the Orient. Just the name is fun to say. Say it with with emphasis on the "pie" and you'll see: ChocoPIE! It was years before I found out that they weren't native to Japan, but were rather Korean. Not that that matters to me.

Not long ago I read the Wiki entry on Choco-Pies. It's a fine example of multi-source writing, because it starts off in fully idiomatic English and then switches suddenly to English written by someone whose native language is clearly something else. I preserve the text here, because the Wiki entry might changed without warning, perhaps losing the charms of the fractured-English section.

As of today, anyway, it says: "Choco Pie is a confectionary treat created and manufactured since 1974 by the Orion Confectionery, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Similar to a moon pie, a Choco Pie consists of two layers of chocolate-dipped cookies, with a marshmallow filling.

"The Choco Pie is considered a quintessential Korean treat, similar to the status of the Oreo cookie in American culture. Lotte Confectionery makes an imitation which is priced below that of the Choco Pie in order to compete...

"In recent years Orion has used the Choco Pie to gain a foothold in foreign markets, and Orion now controls a 2/3 share of the Chinese cookie market, with a third of Orion's revenue now coming from outside Korea. Whole series of choco pies have been sold more than 12.1 billions all over the world.

"Orion company selected 4 main position - South Korea, Russia, Vietnam and China. In China, choco pie had a repuation of having a big success on whole market going through stable deal.

"In South Korea, choco pie has a strong image of Jeong which indicates closeness among people in Korea. Its advertisments stil have a large point on impressive relationship among family members, companions and so on. Its CM song is widely known.

말하지 않아도 알아요 (I can know your heart without your telling me.)

눈빛만 보아도 알아 (When I see your look, I can understand)

그냥 바라보면 마음 속에 있다는 걸 (Just look at you. It lies within your heart.)"

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ann at Five

Five times around the Sun for little Ann, who's not quite as little as she once was, nor as big as she will be.

Her chocolate birthday cake came from the industrial bakeries of a warehouse retailer: very dark and very round, heavy as a manhole, rich as Bill Gates. Among chocolate cakes, it's a Union Pacific steam locomotive. Gourmets would probably sneer at the chocolate overkill, but us gourmands cut our pieces, take forks in hand, and enjoy.

My plan for her presents was inspired. I told her that she could go to the dollar store and pick five items. Five! She was bouncing all over the place at the prospect of it, and in the end acquired a pink heart-shape pillow, one of those paddles with a ball attached by a string (is that called a paddle ball?), a keychain calculator, and a couple of other bits of the trade deficit with China.

My thought when I walk into such a place: Look at all this. Man, are they busy in China.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hardly a Blizzard

Sure enough, at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, unwanted cold air started blowing into metro Chicago, taking temps down quickly into the I Hate Winter zone. It is our duty to complain about this, maybe even write letters to Congress in hopes that the border with Canada will be sealed airtight, at least from December through February.

Actually, this cold front came with some wind and some snow, but it hasn't risen to the level of blizzard. Don't think we've had a blizzard worthy of the name since January 2, 1999. Still, today's snowstorm has been a nice show. Sometimes I'll look out the window into the blowing snow, which is moving more or less horizontally.

This pic was taken the morning of January 3, 1999. Fortunately, the 2nd fell on a Saturday that year, so few had to venture out that day or on the 3rd, when it was clear but intensely cold. I was on our street in Westmont facing south. Not a spectacular shot of cars or houses buried, but certainly a good illustration of more than a foot and a half of snow on the ground.

I don't have any photographic record of the Blizzard of '96, which hit New England in early January of that year. I do remember the heavy snow, and the people out in their four-wheel drives, probably on the road trying to justify having paid so much for their vehicles.

Monday, January 28, 2008

He Tied the Mark at 44, July the First You Know

More meltage today, leaving gray Slushee covering parts of the driveway. Or would that be dirty-ice Slurpees? Hard to say. Won't last, anyway. Cold front is on its way. Winter, bah.

I spent most of the day writing about the hotel I saw last week, so not much new to report in the seen category, which usually gets top billing in these postings. But I can report hearing new things, or rather some old things previously lost on me. Toward the end of summer last year, I visited an estate sale by myself one day, on impulse, following a hand-lettered sign posted next to the road, and left with a few cassette tapes of old popular songs. Set aside for a time, lately I've been listening to them. As the snow falls and then melts, I've been listening to a dead man's tapes.

The best of them is a collection called Let Me Off Uptown. Among other gems, it includes this song, to remind me of summer. But not just any summer, a particular summer 20 years before I was born. Few pop songs are so temporally precise.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Snows of Yesterweek

The snow started to melt today, uncovering a newspaper that had been buried by snow on Wednesday. Somehow I'd forgotten to go outside and look for it that day in the single-digit, windy weather. "Fed jolts stock market," the headline says. A real blast from the past, that.

Still, the three-quarter point cut did make me recast the following lyric -- and in this case, I might absolutely be the only one to think of it --

Who cares what banks fail in Yonkers?
As long as we have a prime rate that conquers.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Very Best Fly Fishing Guide

Despite subzero temps, I made it downtown today to tour a new hotel. A familiar brand for the wealthy, and I will say that it has some astonishing views of the Chicago River, parts of Michigan Avenue, Lake Michigan and other spots. The property is in the midst of getting ready for its soft opening next week, and in one suite I was treated to the sight of a bed stacked with about 500 towels.

Later, I was doing further research on the hotel market, and I came across the following, part of a recent column by the astute Laurence Geller, head of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, about the tastes of the "super-affluent" (his term). While I started off expecting a stereotypical description of the rich, the super-affluent are his company's demographic, and I think he's being fairly accurate about a subset of that demographic.

My italics added: "When it comes to vacations then flying first class isn’t that special anymore so private planes are used," Geller writes. "Aboard are not only the adults, but also the kids and the nannies and even the pets! The entire vacation experience is customized and personalized well in advance, from the pillows, to the personal trainer and, of course, yoga instructor, that very unique cuvee of champagne that is wanted in the suite, to the very best fly fishing guide... customization, personalization, exclusivity and only the best will do for this breed of consumers."

"Only the best will do?" Mostly meaning name-brand items acknowledged as the best because of their reputation, buttressed by high prices. People obsessive over such things, and some plan their vacations around them. Others, even more pathetically, dream in vain of them. How is it that wealth is often used to narrow experience, rather than broaden it?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Froehlich & Giocondo

Been getting a lot of requests lately from Paul D. Froehlich, local politico, for my vote in the upcoming Illinois primary. (What's the saying? All politics is local, especially around here.) He's looking to retain his seat in the Illinois House of Representatives. As near as I can tell from his circulars, he's running on an anti-pervert platform. Good one, Paul.

Last year, he switched from the Republicans to the Democrats. A somewhat understandable move in Illinois. I was pleased at this frank assessment of the move in, of all places, citing the State Journal-Register: "On June 26, 2007, Froehlich announced his switch from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, for self-enrichment and due to the fact that he wanted to make sure that his family could still obtain jobs with the State of Illinois." I expect that's exactly right.

His name makes me think like a 14-year-old, at least for a moment or two. In high school band, we had some text that translated common Italian and German musical terms, and the English it used for both froehlich and giocondo was "gay." Must have been an oldish text; these days it would probably be "cheerful."

Well, we had juvenile fun with that one. "Hey, so-and-so's acting giocondo today." "He's froehlich." Yuk-yuk. Funny, though, that's the reason I remember those terms. And Lisa del Giocondo was in the news lately.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Uses for Ceiling Fans

We have a ceiling fan, and I switched it on the other day, thinking it might circulate some warm air back downward. Almost immediately, my daughters had other ideas for the fan.

If you put small plush toys on one or more of the blades while the fan is still, and then turn it on, of course the toy will fly off, but you're not quite sure when and where to, until it does. Maybe that's the charm.

I cooperated with this entertainment a few times, putting the small bear or doll or Goofy up there, but naturally it didn't entertain me as much as it did them, and after two or three times, I was tired of it. So Lilly got a stool and managed the placement herself. I went to my office, next to the room with the fan. I heard: Click. Whooooooooosh. Thump! Thump! Hahahahahah. Click.


Some people worry that kids don't know how to entertain themselves any more. They worried about that when I was a kid, I think, and probably some time before that as well. Such people aren't paying attention.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

New Uses for Elmer Fudd

Had a MLK Day thought today, not strictly orthodox. Famous cartoon characters ought to do versions of "I Have a Dream" as a way of introducing it to children. Elmer Fudd came to mind. "I have a dweam, that wabbits and hunters will be able to sit down together at the table of bwotherhood."

Maybe not such a good idea. But I did know a fellow who did an Elmer Fudd version of "Are You Experienced." Wish I could do that. It was one of the funniest things I've ever heard anyone do, and it wasn't as a bit of professional comedy, just something that bubbled out of him one day in the car, on the way back from a press conference.

There was also the time he pretended his desk was under attack "by Charlie," screamed "hit the deck, Sarge!" and jumped under his desk. This was at an office I used to work at. So there are occasions, not many, when I miss working at an office, yet usually I think I've done so enough to last a lifetime.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Balloonist

As promised, Saturday and Sunday were bitter cold, down toward zero Fahrenheit by day, probably below that during the wee hours. But, as the weather nerds remind us, not as low as things can go. Luckily, I wasn't in town in January 1994 for the most recent below -20 F day in metro Chicago. I was in Osaka at the time. Come to think of it, however, that winter was the only one I saw snow in that city -- just a dusting one day, but enough to throw tiny snowballs.

So far The Balloonist (2007) by Stephen Poleskie, a book I picked up last week, is fairly interesting. With any luck, as I read on, it will evolve into damn interesting reading. That's what I'm looking for in a book these grim winter days, or anytime. With a subtitle like this, you'd hope the book would qualify: "The Story of T.S.C. Lowe -- Inventor, Scientist, Magician, and Father of the U.S. Air Force."

Chapter one is promising, beginning in medias res with an account of the first flight of one of Lowe's balloons, the mammoth Great Western, in the summer of 1860 from near Philadelphia to somewhere in New Jersey. Lowe and his two companions went so high they were lucky they didn't die of hypoxia, which wasn't understood at the time.

The lack of footnotes is a little troublesome -- nice to see them there, even if I don't examine every one in detail -- and you'd think there would be a few pages of photographs in a book like this. But anyway, so far, so good. A book about a flamboyant 19th-century balloonist is going to get my attention for a while.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Overall Sensory Experience

Snowed lightly most of the day, followed by a blast of intense cold air late in the afternoon. Word is that it will only get colder, and remain that way, for some days. We've slipped into the pit of winter.

But as long as ComEd keeps the electricity flowing to switch on the gas heater, we'll be OK here in our dwelling, which simulates temps on the African savanna over the last three million years. Or something along those lines. All I know for sure is that it's more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in here than outside the walls, and that spread is expect widen over the weekend.

Our electricity also powers various entertainments. Lilly and I are still working our way through the first disc of Newsradio. I have to like a show with heaps of throwaway lines like this (from "Goofy Ball"):

Dave: I don't think people are scrutinizing us as much as you imagine.
Lisa: I'm sure that's what the Rosenbergs said.

Natural gas, on the other hand, cooks our food, including the delightful Ajinomoto brand Chicken Gyoza Dumplings, made by Ajinomoto Frozen Foods USA Inc. of Portland, Ore. I wouldn't have thought that frozen gyoza would be so good. Also simple in preparation: put in a hot skillet, add a little water, cover with a lid, cook for five minutes.

Best of all, the package tells us the following: "It is not unusual to find batter coating chipped from the gyoza. This should not affect the overall sensory experience of the product." Which is absolutely correct.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mid-Week Product Notes

Asteroids now come in a convenient 100-calorie bag. Actually, they're a species of Cheetos -- small balls of Cheetos, so Cheetoids might be more accurate if not a better brand name. The strategy of buying them in portions of 100 calories is easily defeated by eating three or four bags at a time. More interesting, the bag promises that they are Dangerously Cheesy. And yet it also promises 0 g trans fats. Where's the danger in that?

Does anyone in the wider world realize that the US major drug store chains have been battling for some years like Guelphs and Ghibellines for retail dominance? The real estate industry, which has zero historical sense -- unless it involves an historic preservation tax credit -- prosaically calls this event "drug store wars." Getting your store on the corner of a couple of busy streets is something like capturing a strategic hill in this kind of war.

We were at one of these corner drugstores recently and came across Sipahh brand milk flavoring straws. A box of 10 cost $2, so it was a fairly harmless impulse purchase, egged on by the smallest member of the household. Here's the gimmick: tiny flavored beads made of tapioca starch are trapped within each straw by filters at either end. Eventually, the beads melt, but as you suck the milk through the straw, it picks the flavor as it heads mouthward. (This is called the Unistraw Delivery System.) Chocolate was the only flavor for sale, so we got that.

Ann was most eager to try them, and expressed the most satisfaction with the result. Lilly was positive, but less enthusiastic. In the interest of accurate reportage, I tried one myself. It was passable, but I have more adult tastes when it comes to chocolate.

Still, I admired the ingenuity. Crack American marketing know-how, I thought. Shows you how much I know. Turns out it was devised by an Australian, coming to the US only in 2006. Distributed, as it happens, by a company based in West Chicago. But if they're now sold at one of the major players in drug store wars, the concept is definitely on its way in this country.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Have Trunk, Will Travel

Speaking of movies, be warned about Bratz: The Movie. I need to pay attention to our Netflix queue more closely. It was made for little girls, so it went down smoothly with some of the residents of this house, and I will say that as live-action characters, the Bratz are rated G, at least during the moments when I could bring myself to be in the room with them.

G in this case also stands for God-awful. Exactly one thing made me smile, though. The ending credits tell us that the elephants in the movie -- not sure what use they made of elephants -- were provided by Have Trunk, Will Travel Inc.

It's but a Google search away, this entertainingly named company. Note that in the movie/TV appearances it claims for its elephants, Bratz isn't mentioned; but then again, it doesn't look like the list has been updated recently.

Even better, they will rent you an elephant for your wedding: "Imagine the groom carried high atop the elephant as friends and family dance around him. The elephants are beautifully decorated to fit any occasion and accustomed to taking part in Indian weddings."

Why should Indians be the only ones with elephants at their weddings? I'll have to suggest this to my nephew. It might not be too late for him to hire one for his wedding.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Der Untergang

Saw The Downfall (Der Untergang) on DVD not long ago, satisfying my periodic desire for high-verisimilitude historical fiction. It's another version of the oft-told fürherbunker Nazis at the bitter-end story, but unlike others I've seen in various ways. For one thing, it's in German, which is part of that verisimilitude I like. I don't care how great an actor Alec Guinness was, hearing him pretend to be Hitler in English was too distracting.

Der Untergang was billed as the story of one of Hitler's secretaries, Traudl Junge, but actually it was an ensemble movie. The fellow who played Hitler, Bruno Ganz, had the hardest job, and he acquitted himself well. I've read that some grumbled because Hitler was portrayed as a human being, instead of as a cartoon monster, I suppose. Of course, we all know it's the cartoon monsters of the world who do great evil, not the human beings. I'm not sure why people think it's impossible for a person to be a vegetarian, kind to animals and children, and a sympathetic boss, and also to be capable of ordering the industrialized murder of millions. Clearly, it is possible.

(And why doesn't PETA ever mention the fact that Hitler detested the exploitation of animals? The man had his priorities, and so do they.)

The real creep of the show was Goebbels, anyway, played by one Ulrich Matthes, who had a face perfect for the part. Interestingly, the movie played up the fun-loving side of Eva Braun, even in the grim days of the fürherbunker. Eva Braun, party girl. Who would have thought?

Boys my age, some of them anyway, knew about the fürherbunker. I remember occasional discussions at the lunchroom table in elementary school about how Hitler and Eva Braun did themselves in, and what became of their bodies. I don't think anyone at the lunch table actually thought that he escaped in a U-boat to Argentina, but the idea came up. It was a notion well enough known for Johnny Carson to do a parody American Express commercial in the mid-70s, with a Hitler-looking character claiming to have used his card in "Brazil, Argentina, you name it."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Someone Else's Drama

There's a bank I often go to that's is actually tucked into a corner of a supermarket, but I prefer it to the more sterile atmosphere of a standalone retail bank. The branch is staffed by an array of young employees of the bank -- let's call it Behemoth Finance Corp. -- because, it seems, such lowly outposts are reserved for those under 30. Some young bankers come and go, but I know about three of them by name.

Including P, a fetching young woman of more cheer than a bank job deserves. Young Behemoth employees, and grocery store workers as well, sometimes take breaks in an outdoor alcove not far from one of the main entrances to the store. It's partly obscured, but as you walk through the parking lot, you can see workers sitting on the alcove's bench, often smoking. Some months ago I noted that P, among all the young bankers, also smokes, but that's not the gist of this anecdote.

After dark one day recently, when it was really cold, I spotted P in the alcove as I crossed the parking lot toward the store's entrance. She was talking on her cell phone. I couldn't hear anything until right before I got to the door, and then only a few seconds' worth of unavoidable eavesdropping (not that I would have tried to avoid it, or stopped for more either).

So I caught just this fragment: "What I'm saying," P said in a tone of someone having to explain something one too many times, "is that I want you out of my life."

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I wondered: just how many varieties of poinsettias are there? We arrived at the Mitchell Park Conservatory, aptly known as the Domes, on Saturday just as the sun was going down somewhere behind a compete gray blanket of clouds. Inside one of the three domes, I saw a sea of poinsettias, the star flowers of the Christmas floral show, which was to be over the next day.

Milwaukee County's web site tells us that in the 1950s, "a design competition, won by a local architect, produced the plans for the new conservatory. Donald Grieb's winning entry called for three beehive-shaped (not geodesic) glass domes, 140 feet in diameter at the base and 85 feet high, offering 15,000 square feet of growing space for plant display. Each dome would have a distinct climate and exhibit plants in a naturalistic setting. These are the Arid, Tropical, and Floral Show domes. Construction began in 1959 and proceded in stages."

The damp gray outside made the interior of the conservatory that much more vivid, but it would have been vivid any time in the floral dome, with its hundreds of poinsettias of various hues and still-decorated Christmas trees, or the tropical dome with its lush greenery, or even the arid dome, with all its dozens of weird cacti and such dry-world plants.

In the floral dome, a small sample of the flowers, doing no justice to the subtle color variety that I experienced:

In the tropical dome, some elephant ears. That's what I call them, anyway:

In the arid dome, some of Milwaukee's few palms, plus skyscraper cacti:

I've long liked conservatories, as far back as a visit to the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, over 25 years ago, which I happened upon without any plan to visit. Glass domes are pleasing to the eye practically by nature, and plant diversity never falls to amaze, though botany isn't my calling, since I can never remember the names of very many plants. My reaction is more basic than informed: "Wow, look at that strange one."

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

George Webb's Clocks

George Webb is a Milwaukee restaurant chain of the basic and cheap variety, just my sort of place. We found one on Saturday, a small spot with five booths and counter seating for about a dozen, shoehorned into one end of a strip center that also sported a liquor store and a Kwikie Mart. The place was nearly full at 2:30 pm, which I took as a good sign.

Breakfast was a 24-hour option there, and a good one, too. Recommended: pancakes and eggs. Yuriko didn't say anything one way or the other about the coffee. There wasn't much to look at around on the walls, except the two clocks. Back in the back, I noticed two clocks, exactly the same, telling the same time, next to each other on the wall. Odd, I thought. Probably everyone thinks that. But then I forgot about it.

Later I learned that all of the chain's locations sport two clocks on the wall, telling the same time, next to each other. So not only did I enjoy the pancakes and eggs, but a George Webb distinctive detail as well. notes:

"Q: Why are there two clocks on the wall, right next to each other, at George Webb?

"A: This simple query has confounded customers at counters and in booths for decades. (It's particularly confusing for those patrons already seeing double after bar closing time).

"There are many theories as to how the two clock tradition began. The most common, and the one offered by a patient waitress during a recent visit, goes like this...

"Years ago, local law prohibited business from being open 24 hours a day. George Webb (yes, there really was a George Webb), announced that his restaurants were open '23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, seven days a week and on Sundays!'

"In order to avoid closing at all, the restaurants had two clocks installed with the time set one minute apart. Technically, the restaurant was closed one minute per day on one clock, but open on the other.

"This is the common theory and the one that you'll get if you ask someone on the premises. (They've heard it before, trust us)..."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The 14th Bobblehead of the United States

Today was to be more about Milwaukee, but I've been busy. In honor of the New Hampshire primaries, however, I'm happy to post a pic of my President Franklin Pierce bobblehead. WIth any luck, Blogger will actually keep the image visible, unlike some recent ones that I had to republish.

Pierce was New Hampshire's only native son to become president. I wanted to use him as a piece in a recent game of Monopoly with Lilly, but she protested the idea, so I used the cannon piece instead. Here he stands on Go.

Also, I've started a minor new blog, much easier than DPD.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Miller Time

I've made occasional visits to breweries or other beer sites over the years, such as the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen, a Stroh's facility in Memphis and the Sapporo Beer Museum in Sapporo, among others (see also BTST, April 8, 2005). But I'd never made it to the relatively close Miller Brewing Co. in Milwaukee until last weekend. Miller, the all-American beer with German ancestry. They don't bother to mention during the introductory video -- which was really mostly an eight-minute commercial for Miller Time -- or during the tour itself that Miller is actually part of the international beer conglomerate headquartered in London, with roots in South Africa, SABMiller.

Amazingly, we were up at 8 on Saturday morning and out by about 9, arriving at the Miller Brewing Company Visitor Center, which is next to the Girl in the Moon Gift Shop, in time for the noon tour. The tour video did hint that Miller was international in scope, but mostly focused on Miller Time. Then the group entered various building along State Street, which sports Miller property on both sides for quite a ways -- including some fine old facades in places -- and with signs built over the road letting you know that the company calls the area "Miller Valley" (the road does slope a little).

There's nothing like the whiz and motion of a bottling plant in operation, with the lines of bottles snaking along and gizmos spraying in the liquid, capping the bottles and slapping labels on. We saw that on video. Saturdays are cleanup days at the Miller plant, so the most motion and action we saw on the bottling floor were guys hosing the equipment down.

The brewhouse was more fun, with its enormous shiny kettles and intense yeasty smell, and even better was the beer cave. Herr Frederick J. Miller himself oversaw the expansion of these manmade holes-in-the-ground in the years before the Civil War, as cold storage for his wares in pre-refrigeration days. Brick lines the floors and walls, maybe 20 feet wide, just as tall, and stretching 50 feet or so to a back wall marked by the entrances to two other branches of the beer cave not on the tour.

Though lit with electricity these days, I figure you could have a fine keg party by candlelight in the beer cave. Beginning in the 1950s, displays about the history and lore of beer were installed, including small wooden figures behind glass serving as illustrations of old-timey beer production. It looked like hard work, like most physical labor in the 19th century. I was also pretty sure I saw a depiction of King Gambrinus, a figure that has been sadly neglected in modern times. Herr Miller's men, who made the brew and handled the barrels and hauled the ice to the caves, would have known him.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Milwaukee '08

Forty-eight hours ago, snow covered most of the ground here to the depth of more than three inches, in places. Like this.

A couple of days of 40-plus temps made liquid of it all, including a number of doomed snowmen on some of the lawns I regularly drive by.

We took the occasion of warmer weather to drive to Milwaukee for the day, making it the first trip of 2008. I can't call it a resolution, but I've decided to make my carbon footprint as large as possible this year through travel. Actually, I try to do that every year, with more or less success. Anyway, up north of the Wisconsin line we saw where beer is made -- macrobrew stuff -- ate breakfast in the afternoon, and lingered under glass domes as the sun set. I got misdirected at times while driving (lost is too strong a word), but I also came to a contrarian conclusion about a in-car GPS-based navigational aids as a result, namely that I don't want one. (In fact, I'd already decided that; yesterday was confirmation.) More on that later.

Some of the trip involved large, rounded shapes. Such as a brew kettle in Miller Valley:

And one of the Mitchell Domes:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Flashman of the Jungle?

One of the first things I learned this year was that Cartoon Network is airing a remake of George of the Jungle, a Flash animation version that doesn't remotely look right and, to judge by about 30 seconds, has none of the charms of the original. Looks like the writers' strike didn't come soon enough to prevent this pointless remake.

To balance that out, however, I also learned that the complete original George, all of 17 episodes -- along of course with Super Chicken and Tom Slick -- will be out on DVD shortly. Into the queue they will go.

For other diversions, it might be a good time to find the first Flashman book in the library and check it out, now that George MacDonald Fraser has died. I've heard of the series, but never read any of them.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's Glögg

AD 2007 is as gone as the contents of the bottle of glögg that Ann and I polished off last night. Not to worry, it was non-alcoholic glögg, picked up on the cheap last week from Ikea. It was too sweet for anyone else in the house to like, and probably the old-time Swedes didn't use a microwave to heat it up.

I quote from the bottle: "Herrljunga Glögg should be shaken well and heated before serving. Ready to drink. Can be diluted with water, wine or vodka to obtain the desired taste and strength... Ingredients: Water, 76%, sugar. 21%, apple juice concentrate, 7.6%, cherry juice concentrate, 6.7%, non-alcoholic red wine, 1.4%..."

I suspect that it's is a toothless version of the popskull and juice concoction that generations of Swedes have used to take the edge off Endless Winter. How to get through that Scandinavian winter? Glögg, or suicide.