Monday, June 30, 2008

Nice Jugs

They have redesigned milk jugs for a greener earth and to save money. “They” being Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Costco.
The redesign of the gallon milk jug, experts say, is an example of the changes likely to play out in the American economy over the next two decades. In an era of soaring global demand and higher costs for energy and materials, virtually every aspect of the economy needs to be re-examined, they say, and many products must be redesigned for greater efficiency.

However, they may take some getting used to…
“When we brought in the new milk, we were asking for feedback,” said Heather Mayo, vice president for merchandising at Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart. “And they’re saying, ‘Why’s it in a square jug? Why’s it different? I want the same milk. What happened to my old milk?’ ”

Mary Tilton tried to educate the public a few days ago as she stood at a Sam’s Club in North Canton, about 50 miles south of Cleveland, luring shoppers with chocolate chip cookies and milk as she showed them how to pour from the new jugs.

“Just tilt it slowly and pour slowly,” Ms. Tilton said to passing customers as she talked about the jugs’ environmental benefits and cost savings. Instead of picking up the jug, as most people tend to do, she kept it on a table and gently tipped it toward a cup.

Mike Compston, who owns a dairy in Yerington, Nev., described the pouring technique in a telephone interview as a “rock-and-pour instead of a lift-and-tip.”
If this had happened 30 years ago, I don’t know what I would have done for furniture in college:
But with the new jugs, the milk crates are gone. Instead, a machine stacks the jugs, with cardboard sheets between layers. Then the entire pallet, four layers high, is shrink-wrapped and moved with a forklift.

The company estimates this kind of shipping has cut labor by half and water use by 60 to 70 percent. More gallons fit on a truck and in Sam’s Club coolers, and no empty crates need to be picked up, reducing trips to each Sam’s Club store to two a week, from five — a big fuel savings. Also, Sam’s Club can now store 224 gallons of milk in its coolers, in the same space that used to hold 80.
I, for one, can get behind the jugs of the future. But how many gigs are they?

While on the Road

I was out of town for a few days last week and over the weekend but that does not mean I have already invalidated my staycation cred. This was a trip for a wedding in Minnesota that had long been on the calendar. About a dollar less a gallon of gas long ago, I’d guess.

Anyway, a few notes and observations from the road:

In Iowa, they can take away your driver’s license if you fill up your tank and drive off from the pump without paying. They have stickers on the pumps attesting to this. My guess is that they could not have taken away my Illinois drivers license. But I paid for the gas anyway.

The Cathedral of St. Paul is a truly magnificent structure that defines the St. Paul, Minnesota skyline. Say what you want about Catholics, but the sure used to know how to build churches. (And no, the wedding was not held there.)

I came up with a great energy conservation idea: Don’t allow any out of state students into the universities and colleges of any given state. That way you won’t have a boy from Illinois meeting a girl from Minnesota at a university in Iowa and then falling in love and getting married in Minnesota causing dozens or hundreds of people to have to drive long distances to attend said wedding. Just an idea.

If you have a wedding reception in an auditorium with escalators actually in the room, it’s really cool to have the wedding party enter two-by-two down the escalator to Booker T. and the M.G.s Green Onions.

Why have hotels gotten away from having fans in the bathrooms? Aside from the problem of having your mirror all fogged up after a shower, there’s the, well, smell issue. They don’t even provide candles.

I was pointed to a nice microbrewery in St. Paul that was just two blocks from our hotel. Full, exciting details in this week’s Friday Beer Blogging!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Beer Blogging: Acquisition Edition

I’m on my way out of town for a wedding this weekend, so I’ll be making this brief. Friday Brief Beer Blogging.

Although last I knew Anheuser-Busch was under threat of being acquired itself by a Belgian company, AH has purchased an Indian brewer.

ST. LOUIS (June 20, 2008) - Anheuser-Busch, a leading global brewer, will purchase the remaining 50 percent ownership of the Crown Beers India Ltd. joint venture from its partner, Crown International. The acquisition includes the joint venture's 500,000-hectoliter brewery in the southern city of Hyderabad.

"The Indian beer industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, and acquiring the remaining 50 percent of the Crown Beers joint venture reaffirms Anheuser-Busch's commitment to being a key player in this emerging beer market," said Tom Santel, president and chief executive officer, Anheuser-Busch International, Inc. "As Crown International looks to focus on its other successful businesses, this move will continue to best position the Budweiser brand for long-term growth in India."

In addition to Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch will continue brewing and distributing Armstrong, a premium strong beer developed specifically for the Indian beer market.
"As we continue to strengthen Budweiser's sales and distribution throughout the country, the best practices and knowledge Crown International shared with us will be a tremendous asset for Anheuser-Busch's India business moving forward," said Santel. Crown International and Anheuser-Busch formed Crown Beers India Ltd. in early 2007. The joint venture successfully introduced the world-famous Budweiser brand and Armstrong throughout southern and western India.

"Two years ago, Crown International made the decision to explore the brewing industry and bring a world famous beer to India," said K.V.D. Prasad Rao, chairman of the board, Crown Beers. "After building a state-of-the-art brewery and successfully partnering with Anheuser-Busch to introduce Budweiser to India, it's the right time for us to move on to and focus on our other business interests."
Have a great weekend! And acquire no Indian beers while I’m gone.

Bonus FBB: What's going on here; what's the message this ad is trying to send? I can't figure it out.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Grumpy Old Man

I realize high profile people can be (and often are) caught in unflattering photos on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s all in the timing. Have you ever randomly paused a DVD or stopped your TiVo-type device and laughed at the contorted face of the actor on the screen? (Yes, that still cracks me up sometimes). So while these goofy photos can be unfairly used against someone like, say, a presidential candidate, to make them look foolish, sometimes they can capture the perceived essence of that person. For example, this really bad picture of John Sidney McCain really serves to confirm my admittedly biased view of him.

It almost begs for a caption like, “Those meddling kids!” or “I’m cranky, take me home!” Feel free to add your own in comments.

Think Dana Carvey's "Grumpy Old Man" character from SNL (sorry couldn't find any video). What it really does is play up the “old man” stereotype that’s hurting him politically, fairly or not.

From the Do As I Say Dept.

I found this bit from Richard Roeper’s column today to be interesting:

When [Tim] Russert was felled by a heart attack on the afternoon of June 13, his family was vacationing in Italy. Within an hour, Russert was pronounced dead, but NBC News held off on the announcement as they tried to locate Russert's family.

Apparently, the other networks agreed to hold the news. Quite decent of them -- but you wonder if they'd enter into the same agreement if the person in question wasn't part of the news business.

But even as NBC News was trying to keep a lid on the news, word was spreading "via the text-messaging service Twitter and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia," reports the Times.

Russert was pronounced dead at approximately 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. Tom Brokaw delivered the news at 3:39 p.m. But Russert's Wikipedia page was updated to include his death at 3:01 p.m.

The entry was made by a "junior-level employee" at a Web-service provider based in St. Paul, Minn. The employee, who thought the news was public record, has been fired.

One can understand why NBC wanted to hold off on the Russert news in order to notify his family -- but unless the media are going to do that in the case of EVERY celebrity's death, we come across as hypocritical and self-serving.
Double standard indeed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Teachers’ Voice

Not that this shouldn’t be studied and remedies found, but I think the cause of the problem is sort of self-evident.
Scientists probe why teachers suffer more voice-related problems

Teachers give instruction out loud all day and mostly in a louder than a normal speaking voice. My voice goes even after giving brief presentations. Just training someone for an hour at my desk takes its toll, and on more than just my voice. I don’t know how teachers do it.

Routinely Making Time

Do daily routines make you boring and predictable, just going though the motions of life, or do they free up time to do the things that make life more enjoyable?

I briefly caught just a portion of this basic discussion on a morning radio show today and it reminded me that I’m sometimes accused of being too routine-based. Well, that observation comes mostly from my wife who should know I guess.

I admit it; I have some routines that allow me to get some uninteresting things out of the way as quickly and efficiently as possible. That, in turn, allows more time for things I’d rather be doing. For example, I usually lay out my clothes for the next (work) day. That allows me another five minutes of sleep in the morning. Sleep being what I prefer to do in the morning rather than gather the clothes I’m going to wear for the day. Yes, I’m expending about the same amount of time in the evening, but I’m not as interested in sleeping in the evening. AND it actually does take me longer to pick out clothes in the morning because I’m groggy and wind up standing there in the closet all indecisive and unfocused.

But having said that, I really don’t have a lot of micro-routines like the clothes thing. And those that I do are mostly time-savers for the workday morning. On a larger scale, yes, there are times of day I prefer to exercise and eat lunch and retire to my office to surf the net and go to bed. But those have some wide variances and aren’t really routines in themselves except that I routinely do them.

The bottom line is that while certain routines may appear to have all the life sucked out of them, they actually free up time to live life more fully. So all you improvisers of everything should just routinely leave the rest of as faux automatons alone!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Workers State

Lots of folks have little use for state workers, but many of them do jobs that most of us wouldn’t touch, like working in a prison or a facility for the criminally insane or caring for aging veterans. A flood of early retirements at the start of the Blagojevich administration has meant more work for fewer people, so mandatory overtime is taking a toll.

I’ve found over the years that the knee-jerk reaction that all state workers are lazy and overpaid is often just misplaced jealousy, or ideologically motivated, or ill-informed cynicism. My uncle, for instance, worked for the state until he took advantage of the early out plan, and I’m here to tell you that the man worked hard just about every day of his career. My mother at one time was a social worker at a
facility for the criminally insane. Not a great job.

I also have a tough time with this “race to the bottom mentality” out there. To some, we should just cut their pay, cut their benefits and slash payroll ever deeper, to mirror some real or imagined private sector trend. They say this as if it’s supposed to be a good thing, but how is making the lot of working people worse off a good thing?

“But they’re sucking off my taxes!” is often the reply. Well, we have one of the lowest state income tax rates in the country. State sales taxes aren’t hugely out of line. And state payroll per capita is by far the lowest in the nation.
Amen, brother Rich.

And that’s another shitty thing about Springfield. The state provides tons of jobs here, hugely pumping up the economy and providing employment for gobs of Springfieldians, yet all we hear from non-state workers here is how lazy and undeserving the state employees are, blah, blah, blah. Hey assholes, you try it. I put in nearly 10 years with the State and it wasn’t easy work. My current private sector job is much easier and I get paid more. Both my parents put time in at the state and neither of them was anything close to lazy. So suck on it you misinformed Springfield ingrates.

Truthfully, I haven’t found much difference in the quality of workers for the state and those in the private sector. In fact, it was at a large private sector employer where I found the most waste and idle workers of any place I’ve ever worked. And yes, that employer is still in business and making money. many of you are probably do business with them on a regular (usually semi-annual) basis.

I think the State does fall down a bit (in some cases a lot) with middle management because only really unqualified people are dumb enough to take the thankless positions. But to some extent that’s true everywhere.

So the next time someone you’re with starts in on state workers, give them a big but inoffensive eye-roll.

On Not Taking It Anymore

It’s kind of scary that there are actual human beings in our community who think like this. Wow. Talk about issues. Can you imagine walking around being that angry at strawmen all the time?
If we taxed the hyperbole from folks like this we could wipe out the national debt and have enough money left over to start a few more fun wars of opportunity. (LOOK! Typical scumbag worm-meat liberal! Wants to tax my hyperbole! Next, the jack-booted Socialist-Feminazi thugs are going to try to pry my analogies from my cold dead hands!)


What is the media’s fascination with this now apparently bullshit story about the Massachusetts high school girls allegedly having a pregnancy pact? Even if true, this is a national week-long story?

I have to think it’s some perverted voyeuristic urge brought on by the thought of teenage girls having sex. Reading the latest version of the story (linked to above) I also wonder if some folks aren’t perpetuating this for their own political reasons to highlight the ever-present problem of “pop culture” making girls want to have babies.

Update: Like I said, bullshit story.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Protest About Something

I guess if your protest is focused and sponsored by an activist group rather than a radio station, you get people to show up.

And the media was there too, but they were doing what they do best: covering the event.

Look Skywalker

This weekend, I was driving west on Jefferson and whet under the Abraham Lincoln Presidentail Library and Museum skywalk. I noticed the big advertisement they have for their “Packaging Presidents” display. I know, it’s been there for a while, but for some reason I hadn’t paid any attention to it before. Anyway, and this may sound really petty even for a blog post, I was kind of bothered that the ALPLM was using that space for what amounts to advertising.

Sure, it’s just the ALPLM getting the word out about a display, no big deal. But then I got to thinking about the new Springfield Clinic skywalk on Sixth Street. What if the Clinic starts advertising on that? I guess they would have the right to do so as much as the ALPLM, but I kind of consider that air space on loan from the city. Not the government per se, but the community. Isn’t putting advertising up there sort of abusing that privilege?

In both the case of the ALPLM and the Springfield Clinic, that’s prime ad space spanning two of the busiest streets in town. A billboard company would kill for something like that. I have no idea if there are any legalities involved here. I’m guessing both establishments are free to do what they want as long as it doesn’t create a safety hazard. Still, anyone else think they should leave that space advertising-free or am I being too communist here?

Bye, George

George Carlin dead at 71.

I can honestly say that no other comedian had a larger impact on me than did George Carlin. Carlin was the super-hip, underground comic of those who grew up in 1970s. Only Cheech & Chong even came close to Carlin in this category.

By the time I got to high school, I already knew a number of Carlin’s routines by heart. His bits about Catholic grade school were particularly funny to me at the time, having just experienced it myself.

Carlin is perhaps best known for the famous “Seven Words” bit where he discusses the seven words you can’t say on television. I remember hearing that played on a friend’s record player and it was indeed the first time I’d heard those words coming from an electronic device. There really was no saying those words on TV or radio back then. And, of course, when someone did try to play that bit on the radio it led to a famous broadcasting legal ruling.

Once, in 1977, I recorded one of Carlin’s HBO specials off my TV. Now, when I say recorded, I mean an audio recording since no one had video recording at the time. I played that tape back endlessly for years. I still have it, but I now also have the DVD of that HBO special.

Even my five year-old son has heard Carlin, but I’m sure he has no idea who he’s listening to. Carlin was the narrator for many of the Thomas the Tank Engine shows and he was a voice of one of the characters in the movie Cars.

I never saw Carlin live. I know he performed here in Springfield in later years but I didn’t take the time to go see him. I really should have.

RIP, George. Thanks for the millions of laughs.

Friday, June 20, 2008


With expensive travel costs and facing at least seven straight years of paying for college for two kids, we’ve pretty much dropped any notion that we will be taking any more vacations far from home for the duration. I understand that there is a new term for not going anywhere called “staycation”. Or at least it’s a new term for me. Staycation is defined as:

A vacation that is spent at one's home enjoying all that home and one's home environs have to offer.

As soon as I heard the word Staycation, my inner Weird Al took over and rewrote the chorus to the Go-Go’s Vactaion:

All I never wanted
Hard to get away
Meant to be spent at home

Friday Beer Blogging: Mothership Edition

A recent discovery in one of my recent field trips to Springfield's Land O' Beer, Brewhous, I discovered a delight in a large bottle: New Belgium Brewing Company's Mothership Wit.

It's served at Brewhous in a large bottle, either 22 or 24 ounces, I can't remember. But it also apparently comes in a 12 oz. variety.

The strangest part is that it comes with pouring instructions on the side. At first, I thought it was a joke. But no, there there is a technique for pouring the beer correctly to maximize its goodness.

As for the name, well, here's what the New Belgium folks have to say:
Our first venture into organically-produced beer, Mothership Wit Organic Wheat Beer elevates the zesty Wit or White beers of Belgium. Our far-flung Beer Rangers affectionately refer to our Fort Collins brewery as the Mothership, a name that conjures images of earth shot from space and the interconnectivity of it all. Mothership Wit is brewed with wheat and barley malt, as well as coriander and orange peel spicing resulting in a balance of citrus and sour flavors held in suspension by a bright burst of carbonation.
The New Belgium Brewing Company is located in Ft. Collins, Colorado and is perhaps better known for its Fat Tire brew (also quite good). The company itself seems to lean green. Aside from the organic aspect of the Mothership Witt, you are greeted with this image of the brewery on their home page.

Have a great weekend. And remember, never board the Mothership without your Wits about you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Obit Opining

I like to joke that I read the obituaries these days for the same reasons I used to look at Police Beat when I was much younger –sooner rather than later I’m going to see someone I know.
But reading obits regularly in at least a couple of papers for years now has gotten me to a point where I notice trends in obit writing and I’ve formed opinions on what works and what doesn’t.

One thing that used to bug me was when some 87 year-old died and there in the obit was a picture of them from their high school yearbook or, more commonly for men, a picture of them in the military. C’mon, I thought, they haven’t looked like that in 70 years! But over time I’ve changed my mind. I rather like the pictures from other eras of their life. And why not. An obit, a good one, gives a brief biography and tells this person’s story in an all-to-short and concise way. So who’s to say what picture should be used? I mean, let’s face it, most of us looked a whole lot better “back then” than we do at the time of our death.

I remember after my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer she, at some point, picked the picture she wanted used in her obit and gave it to my sister. She didn’t write her own obit like some people do, but she did want to pick the picture. It was a recent picture at the time –although she went on to live productively for another two or three years, well beyond what was expected.

The pictures that do kind of bother me are the ones that are from, say, a drivers license (seen it more than once) or obviously cropped from a family group photo. I know that deaths often occur unexpectedly and the survivors are sometimes left with few options when it comes to current pictures of the deceased. But that’s where the old photo comes in handy and I think they are more than perfectly appropriate.

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Russert Edition

So now we find out Tim Russert drank Rolling Rock.

RR is one of my favorite domestic mainstream beers too. FBB coverage of Rolling Rock here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Time to Telecommute

I’m not sure why, but I don’t hear much from the leadership in this country encouraging employers to move toward telecommuting as a means of conserving energy. I have no statistics at hand, but the amount of gasoline that could be saved by allowing workers to do their desk jobs from home must be astronomical.

I was listening to a story on telecommuting on NPR this morning and I get the sense that employees are no increasingly bringing up the idea to their employers as a way to cut down on their commuting expenses. Some employers are giving in to the notion rather than lose employees that can no longer afford to drive to work.

In the age of the internet, there really isn’t any reason many of us couldn’t be working from home. I’d dare say I could do all of my work from my home office. I can’t think of a single thing I couldn’t do with a computer, internet connection and phone line. I can say that because those are exactly the tools I use at my desk at work. I often email or IM the guy who sits right next to me.

Mrs. TEH already has a telecommuting job. She works full time for a large out of state employer from home. A few years ago we turned out largely unused front living room into an office. Her employer provided a desk, the computer, an internet connection and any office supplies she needs. She saves on gasoline and wardrobe and we can write-off a portion of our house expenses on our taxes. She has never even met most of her coworkers in person. And the work gets done.

I realize that for a lot of industries (retail, manufacturing, service, construction) telecommuting would be close to 100% impossible. But there are a lot of us cube rats that are wasting gas everyday driving to work we could do at home.

I think some employers are resistant to the idea because of the inertia of workplace “tradition:” and a distrust that workers would be doing their jobs as efficiently as they would at a central workplace. Some of that distrust may be warranted but if employers would focus more on task completion as a measure of productivity rather than operating from a clock punching mentality, that problem will work itself out. I suspect the lazy stay at home workers are the some one’s who are going to goof off at their desk in the office as well.

Another measure to consider is offering a four day, 10-hour a day, work week. I actually took advantage of this option way back in 1999 when gas was about $1.25/gal. I was commuting from Springfield to Bloomington and cutting 20% of my commuting time and expense was a great thing. And every weekend was a three day weekend! Again that’s not of everyone or every job but it’s another effective way to conserve energy.

It’s time for employers to become flexible in these matters. Even if they can’t practically have their employees at home full time, maybe one or two days a week would work. Or some combination of telecommuting and a 4 x 10 work week. There are lots of options and its time employees and employers start exploring them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bri-Bri Links That Make You Yawn

“Springfield” blogger BriBlog is very concerned, no check that –just being informative- that Barack Obama might secretly be a Muslim! Glad he brought it to our attention; I have received hardly any wingnut email forwards on the subject. Scary stuff!

John Dole

My predictions aren’t worth the pixels they’re displayed on but what the hell, here’s my early prediction for the final results of the 2008 election: Obama wins with 379-159 electoral vote margin. How did I come up with that? Well, I ain’t no Chuck Todd so I simply took the numbers from the 1996 election where Bill Clinton trounced the hapless Bob Dole.

I’ve said all along that John Sidney McCain’s candidacy reminds me all the world of Bob Dole’s fruitless effort. Of course some of the states that went D in ’96 will go R this year and vice-versa, but overall the numbers will be in the same ballpark.

Cool Beer Names

Got nothing on my mind this morning, so how about a Friday Beer Blogging teaser and a question. I had a New Belgium Mothership Wit this weekend and was impressed by the beer and the name. More on that Friday. Meanwhile, what do you think is the coolest name for a beer?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Track Spotting

Yes, it has sucked, and continues to suck, having Springfield cut in half by railroad crossing repairs. But admit it, the completed crossing really are very smooth to drive over.

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Quick Chill Edition

I’m posting this mostly so I know where to find the information when I need it. If it’s useful to you too, all the better.

This guy has the formula to quickly chilling beer:
Here is how he took beer from 80+ degrees to (seemingly) 40 degrees in about 3 minutes.

1. He took 6 hot beers from my garage and he placed them into a steel pot from the kitchen

2. He tossed in enough ice cubes to completely cover the beer

3. He then filled the pot with water

4. Next, and this is the trick, he tossed in (what must have been) 2 cups of table salt.

5. He took a large wooden spoon and stirred this thing up to be sure the salt dissolved.

6. He placed the concoction into the freezer and in 3 minutes we had ice cold beer.

... Apparently this works for wine, soda, or anything.

Saint Tim

OK, now that all the gushing over Tim Russert has begun to subside somewhat, I’d like to chime in and say I really never found the man’s work all that wonderful. Sure, it seems like he was a hell of guy to know or be related to, but some of his professional work was just awful. Here’s an example which I blogged about more than two years ago.

But the real news came when Russert asked Obama about comments Harry Belafonte made about George Bush being a terrorist. It turns out the only other person Russert ever asked about Belafonte’s remarks was…Colin Powell. Gotta keep up with what the brothers are thinkin’, eh Timmy?
Russert also specialized in the gotcha game, often digging up trivia to confound guests with. Sorry, I just never liked that sort of thing.

And as long as I’m raining on the Russet parade, I cringed when I saw this in the SJ-R about Russert’s “contribution” to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

I had forgotten that it was Russert that appeared in that video. Not that I blame Russert for that piece of crap, he did his part just fine, it was the whole idea that was dumb. And to Russert’s credit he resisted doing it, probably realizing just how stupid it was. Here was my review of the display right after the museum opened in 2005:
The thing I liked least was the mock TV control room showing a fake news show hosted by real news guy Tim Russert. Russert was, not very convincingly, trying
to portray the 1860 election on modern television terms. It was complete with modern looking TV political ads. I just wasn’t buying it. Introducing television in to the past like that just doesn’t feel right. We have Russert speaking and dressed for 2005 with pictures of Lincoln as he was in 1860. It just doesn’t work. Lose it and use the space for something else.
Like I said, this wasn't really Russert's bad, but I bet he had wished he had stuck with his instincts and not done it.

Update: As Nancy correctly points out in comments, much of the praise for Russert over the weekend included pronouncements that he didn't practice "gotcha" journalism. Hmmm. Try Googling "Russert Gotcha" and see what happens.

And to be clear, I definitely think Russert had great talent. I very much enjoyed watching him do election coverage. I just don't think he walked on journalistic water.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Beer Blogging: Father's Day Edition

In honor of Father's Day, FBB brings you Big Daddy I.P.A. (the I.P.A. stands for India Pale Ale.)

Big Daddy I.P.A. is brewed by the Speakeasy Ales & Lagers of San Francisco. It's awesome that they got the domain.

I've never had a Big Daddy I.P.A., mainly because I've never seen one around here. The company's list of distributors shows none in Illinois with the closest being in Ohio.

As long as we are going with the Father's day theme, Speakeasy also makes a brew called Double Daddy.

Have a great weekend! And have a happy Big Daddy's day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ball Talk

Well, look at that. The Chicago Cubs have the best record in the Majors. That other Chicago team is in first place in their division and St. Louis has a good record in second just behind the Cubs.

OK, that’s probably about all the baseball talk you’re going to get out of me this season. I’ll check in again with ya, next year!

What’s The Salary Got To Do With It?

I have no particular comment of the whole Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aliello story, but I find the SJR’s coverage odd in one respect. They find it pertinent to publish the salaries of the public officials who may have been involved in some alleged wrong-doing. However, they don’t publish the salaries of the other officials mentioned in the story.

I guess I don’t see the relevance of the salary thing. My guess is it’s to elicit even more outrage toward the accused. “We pay them THAT much and then they [ALLEGEDLY] do something bad like this!” The salaries, of course, are public record and this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this sort of thing in the paper, but it just strikes me as odd. Maybe there is some sort of good journalistic reason for it; I just don’t know what it is.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dude, I Should Have Used My Car

I've been posting about the poor state of bicycle transportation opportunities in Springfield and that I find the prospect of riding a bike to work too dangerous. But sometimes the infrastructure isn't the main hazard, rather it is the cyclist making things dangerous. I saw such a hazard on wheels today.

Coming home from work, driving west on West Washington, I came upon a cyclist riding in the street, going my direction, with a full golf bag on his back. It hung on him mostly horizontally, greatly increasing his width profile and making it harder to avoid hitting him. As I passed him, I was half in the left turn lane. I looked over and adding to his dangerous load was what he was carrying up front. He had one hand on on the handle bars and the other was balancing a CASE OF BUDWEISER on top of the handle bars.

I appreciate the guy's conservation efforts (or blind stupidity) but riding with that load on a busy street, up hill and into the sun no less, just seems to be a little over the top. I say it's still OK to drive a car under those circumstances.

Leadership for the Last Century

I agree with Atrios, the leader of the country should have at least some basic knowledge of computers and the internet. Or at least use them once in a while. But John McCain admits he has no idea how to use a computer and, I assume by extension, no practical understanding of the internet. This maybe doesn’t completely and totally disqualify someone from being president in the 21st century, but it sure should be points off. See the video of McCain’s remarks here.

The good news is we have photographic evidence McCain does know how to use, or at least talk on, a cell phone.

Grow Your Own

Tomatoes are in the news which is leading to other ancillary tomato discussions, some of which contain information I guess I’d rather not know:
Safeway is running ads declaring that their tomatoes are “robust,” a word that makes me think of strength and resilience, two qualities that should have nothing to do with burstingly juicy red orbs. These characteristics, however, are ridiculously common in tomatoes sold in the United States. Tomatoes need to be robust in order to make the long journeys required for year-round, nationwide availability, and so most are picked when green (and rock hard), put into storage, and when needed, gassed to change their color to something close to red. Of course, an alternative meaning of robust is full-bodied or hearty, attributes rarely found in grocery store tomatoes, especially out of season.

I rarely buy tomatoes out of season because they just aren’t all that good. But I suspect the ones I get with meals out year-round are almost always of the “gassed” variety.

Firmly Against the Beer Veto

’08: The Year of the Beer

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I remember the McDLT and even the commercials. For a McDonald’s sandwich it wasn’t too bad.

What I didn’t remember was Jason Alexander being in this ad from 1985. Or that there is a modern equivalent called the Big N Tasty. Also, who the hell knows this much about the lineage of a McDonald’s sandwich and why?

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Do Not Veto Beer Edition

John McCain wants to get rid of all beer! Or at least veto all of it, whatever that means.

(CNN) – John McCain issued a promise Tuesday that may cause a bit of unrest with a broad swath of voters:

He'll veto every single beer?

In a slip of the tongue while railing against excessive earmarks at the National Small Business Summit in Washington, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee inadvertently pledged to veto the popular alcoholic beverage.

“I will use the veto as needed. I will veto every single beer — bill with earmarks," he said, as rumblings from the crowd could be heard.
Sure, slip of the tongue. Or perhaps a Freudian slip? Does McCain have a secret agenda to get rid of beer? I don’t think we should even take that chance.

Barack Obama must now pledge that HE will NEVER veto beer.

"As Good As Gone"

I don’t know what there is left to say. I’ve blogged about this more than anyone over the years and now the day has come.
A federal judge on Monday denied Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s last-ditch attempt to block the removal of the 183rd Fighter Wing’s planes from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.

The first of the 15 jets is slated to leave Springfield today, with half scheduled for removal by the end of June. All of them are supposed to be moved by the end of September.
Although the Chicago-centric governor’s actions in trying to prevent the move should certainly be appreciated by the city that he allegedly hates and that definitely hates him, I’ve always thought it was kind of a waste of time. And probably a waste of money, although I don’t think it could have been much.

Just this weekend I was in my back yard and looked up to see a couple of the 183rd F-16s taking off. I thought to myself that might be one of the last times I see that. Man, I can remember being a young kid in the 1960s playing in a neighbor’s sandbox and being able to hear the roar of the jets from the 183rd. I’m not even sure what jets they were flying then. They’ve always been here. Just not anymore.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Internet Conspiracy Theory

So the internet is going to end in 2012 because all the big boys are going to gobble up all the cyberspace and charge you to look at it like a big cable service. Little bloggers like me won’t get any hits (becuse who would pay for this shit) so we will stop blogging. OK, I’m ready to believe it.

And what’s with the chick with the cleavage? I just don’t understand the internets sometimes.

Save Our Jobs (and Vote For Me)

C’mon, this was an ad to bolster Mayor Davlin’s own image with his constituents rather than a legitimate appeal to the governor. Davlin, unlike, say, the media, surely has access to the governor.
SPRINGFIELD -- The mayor of the capital city scolded Gov. Rod Blagojevich in a newspaper ad Sunday for trying to move more than 100 Department of Transportation jobs to southern Illinois.

Tim Davlin, a Democrat who has had friendly relations with the governor, argued the transfer would hit Springfield the same way a mine closing would harm southern Illinois or a factory closing would affect Rockford.

“Since the seat of government was moved to Springfield in 1839, government has been the industry of our city. It pays the bills, feeds the kids, puts roofs over the heads of our citizens,” Davlin said in the ad in The State

Money for the ad came from the Springfield chamber of commerce and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, among other groups.

Blagojevich’s press office didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the ad.
Look, I’ve said all along that the “these are our jobs, dammit!” line of argument isn’t going to garner any support outside of Sangamon County. The fact that the ad was in the SJ-R (and to my knowledge, only the SJ-R), says to me Davlin is simply playing to the local audience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but this ad does nothing toward advancing the cause of keeping the IDOT jobs here, but does put Davlin on the right side of the issue in the community.

In the end, this move will only be stopped if it proves to be a money waster and otherwise logistically difficult. In other words, on the merits (or lack thereof) not by virtue of Springfield’s claim to all post-1839 government industry.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Keep On Smillin'

One of my favorite songs from the mid-1970's is Wet Willie's Keep on Smillin'. It was a pop radio hit during the summer of 1974, the year I turned 14 and right before I started high school. At the time, the lyrics were somehow recognizable and something I felt I could relate to even though I was really too young to understand completely. The song both melancholy and hopeful (just like me!). Over the intervening years, I've lived enough to have this particular portion of the song pop into my head from time to time:
You're just hangin out
in a local bar
And you're wonderin
who the hell you are
Are you a bum
or are you a star?

Keep on smilin through the rain
laughin at the pain
Rollin with the changes
til the sun comes out again
I'm not sure why those lyrics stuck but they did and have shown up in my mind as a comforting backstop when the occasion called for it. Anyway, listen to the whole thing here. And here's some film of them from way back in the day doing another song.

One weird note: As I was looking for the lyrics to paste in here (even thought I thought I knew them by heart), I noticed that some lyric sites have the lyrics as "Are you a farmer or are you a star". WTF? If those were the real lyrics I would have lost a lot of respect for the song.

Friday, June 06, 2008

It’s The Water, Stupid

Thanks CWLP! That’s advice I’ve been taking since about 1979.

Cheaper Gas On The Way?

Speaking of oil prices, here’s an article that is super-duper optimistic that the oil price spike we are seeing now will collapse in short order and soon we will again be paying a lot less at the pump. I think the article is way too optimistic but I’ve believed for some time that the speculation bubble currently driving up the cost of oil will burst and prices tumble.

I don’t think we’ll ever see gasoline under $2.00 a gallon again but the $4.00 price soon may disappear for a while. However, we’ll all start using more gas again and the slow climb back up to higher prices also will return. In the long run conservation and alternative energy sources are what is needed to keep energy cost stable and affordable. Price shocks like the one we are experiencing now serve as good wake-up calls and spur innovation, and that may be worth the price.

Friday Beer Blogging: Schlitz Edition

Schlitz wouldn't normally be my first choice for blogging or much else except I found this article. It says Schlitz is an Illinois beer!

Chicago, IL (April 2008) - Schlitz®, long known as "The beer that made Milwaukee famous" and once the best-selling beer in the United States, makes a comeback today on the 75th anniversary of its return to Chicago following Prohibition. Pabst Brewing Company in Woodridge, Ill., which now produces the iconic brand, is re-launching Schlitz "Classic 1960s Formula" based on the original recipe and packaged in traditional "Brown Glass" - a packaging innovation that Schlitz introduced in 1912 to prevent light from spoiling beer before it can be served. Chicago is third in a phased re-launch of Schlitz that included Florida and Minnesota markets late last year. The initial roll-out of six- and twelve-pack varieties, priced comparable to other premium domestic brands, will be to select Schlitz accounts with a citywide expansion slated for 2009.
Well now. What ever happened to NIMBY (Not In My Backyard). It's all well and good to not want an oil refinery or nuclear plant, wait, we have those too. So Illinois is the best place for brewing Schlitz after all.

I also didn't realize there was a classic Schlitz. Perhaps the beer got a bad rep by not following the corrective actions Coke took after introducing the new Coke.

And who can forget the Go for the Gusto slogan...whatever gusto is.

I do remember this rather embarrassing match-up back in my college days:

Yes, The Who..brought to you by Schlitz. I was a huge fan but...gag.

Have a great weekend! And remember, give a Schlitz about Illinois beers. Oh, and don't get Schlitz-faced.