Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Ostriches are Red Meat

Today I’m going to have an educational post on this blog. Years ago, when I was in Paris with a group from my church, Ethel and I stopped by a restaurant that advertised ostrich and kangaroo. They claimed to be out of kangaroo that night, and when I asked what it tasted like, they told me, “Like eland.” I assume that would be red meat… Ethel and I both got the ostrich, and it was the most delicious red meat ever. 

Just now I was telling Toque McToque how at another restaurant in Paris I accidentally ordered veal instead of scallops (well, what would you think “escallops” means?), so who knew if it was horse instead of ostrich? After all, aren’t birds usually white meat? She sent me this article that explains what makes meat white versus red. It has to do with the type of muscle: slow-twitch muscles for extended activities are red meat, while fast-twitch muscles for bursts of activity are white meat, with the dark meat being muscles that are used more. This is why chickens have white meat in their breasts but dark meat in their drumsticks, since they run around but don’t fly much. So ostriches have red meat because they do a lot of sustained activity, running all over the savannah.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Light Bright: Allergic to Work

Yesterday my office mate Light Bright was sneezing and blowing her nose so much, I was sure I wouldn’t find her at work today.  Yet there she was this morning, sneezing and blowing her nose. “It’s allergies,” she assured me.  A doctor we work with had his doubts, but she was certain. However, when her allergy pills were not kicking in, she took some cold medicine and did start to feel better. “Maybe it’s a cold,” she conceded, but soon she was back to thinking it was just allergies. Light Bright asked a coworker who does the pollen count if there was an elevated level of anything out there, but she said no, nothing is really out there right now since we have had some hard freezes. She said, “Lots of colds happen right after Thanksgiving, since people get together,” and I said, “Oh yeah, you took a plane flight home, didn’t you?” and then our coworker was sure it was a virus. Later the doctor came by, and Light Bright told him that our coworker had confirmed it was a virus. The doctor said, “If you search online, you can find my CV, and then you’ll see that I graduated from medical school.” Doesn’t everyone get a second opinion on medical problems from a pollen counter?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

John Isn't Panting Anymore

When I was a small child, maybe around four, I knew the order of the planets but had no concept that we actually lived on one of them. They were just those things up in outer space. Therefore, I thought earthworms must come from outer space, since they came from Earth, or else why would people have to specify? However, I sensed there was something wrong with my logic, since people did not get excited about earthworms and since I wasn’t sure how they would get here. Little worm spaceships?

When I told Light Bright this story, she said, “Deep thoughts for a four-year-old. I’m not sure I know the order of the planets now! The first one is Mars, right?”

“Nope, that’s Mercury,” I said.

“Then Mars comes next,” Light Bright said confidently.

“No,” I said, “Next comes Venus.” And I taught her that old, racy mnemonic “Mary’s Violet Eyes Make John Stay Up Nights (Panting)” to remember the order of the planets. Of course, since Pluto has been downgraded from planet status, John must not be panting anymore.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another Lame DIY Post

Since I cannot think of anything to blog about today, you can Choose Your Own Post:

Today a funny/mildly amusing/horrendous thing happened at work/the pub/the gates of Hell. I/you/Toque McToque went to make copies/make coffee/make whoopee, but there was a problem with the copier jamming/a lack of filters/your mom. Luckily Light Bright/Hardingfele/the local Godfather came along and said, “It just needs to be cleaned”/”I have a secret stash”/”Don’t involve me in this!” I decided it was time to take a break/break a take/occupy Wolski’s, since it was getting late/I was getting angry/I always wanted to be an ornithologist. Downstairs they were selling jewelry/books/illicit drugs, and Light Bright caved in and got herself a lovely ring/erotic fiction/three grams of smack. I was more interested in the bake sale/the military surplus store/getting the heck out of Dodge. All in all, it was a very busy but not terribly interesting/highly successful/totally fatal day.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Ten Percent in Two Days

Travalon and I are continuing our pilgrimage to historic pubs and breweries in the state. Friday we drove up to Stevens Point and were disappointed to find we were too late to tour Point Brewery, so we went to Club 10, which has a big, beautiful dance floor in the back. Then we went to Marshfield to visit the Blue Heron Brewery, built in an old ice cream factory. Finally we went to the BS Bar in Amherst, where the friendly proprietor told us about his motorcycle travels. (His favorite state to visit was Arizona.)

Saturday I drove to Travalon’s house, then we went to Milwaukee and visited four more pubs. First was Wolski’s, famous for their free bumper stickers that say: “I closed Wolski’s.” We were there too early to get one, but the bartender did give us bumper stickers that say: “Occupy Wolski’s.” I put mine on the side of Erin Caitlyn O’Honda, where she is a little banged up from a pillar in a parking garage. Next we went to a beautiful but hard to spot gay bar called This Is It, with a very friendly bartender who told us the clientele is more than half breeders on weekends. We went to the spy-themed Safe House, where I had gone years ago with Tiffy and Ethel. Since I hadn't known the password, the bouncer had made me cluck like a chicken before letting me enter and revealing the password. I was hoping I’d remembered it correctly, but nobody asked for it this time. Then we had dinner at Old Towne, a Serbian restaurant that Cecil Markovitch loves, and finally we went to Bryant’s, a cocktail lounge where the Pink Squirrel was invented, so we each had one for dessert. The dim lighting and the delicious ice cream drinks made me think of the late, lamented Barber’s Closet, an old speakeasy with a secret entrance that burned down years ago. Maybe if it were still around, it would have made it into Bottoms Up. Wow, we got 10% of them done in just two days!

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Everlasting Stuffing

This year I spent Thanksgiving with Travalon and his family instead of Rich and the gang, as usual. I had a very good time, but I missed out on the everlasting stuffing. Here is a scan of the bag:

If you look closely at the expiration date, it is 500 years in the future:

September 3, 2513 - that is some long-lasting stuffing.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This Post Is for the Birds

In honor of Thanksgiving, I am going to blog about birds and our tenuous relationship with them. We do seem to enjoy eating them a great deal, which may explain why when a pair of purple finches built a nest in one of my Christmas cacti this spring, they abandoned it after they saw me come out on the balcony. I wasn’t sure what to do with the nest, so it remains nestled by the side of the cactus, which does not seem to mind it and is blooming happily. How could I assure the finches that I would not disturb their nest when I happily eat their cousins all the time? I think birds still haven’t gotten over the fact that they used to rule the earth as dinosaurs, but then we upstart mammals started getting into their nests (mmm, eggs!) so they had to develop wings to get out of our way, and that meant they had to lose bulk. Now we rule the earth and they are just the pretty things that sing in trees on spring mornings/delicious dinner. If Hardingfele is reading this, I’ll bet the birds especially don’t like you, since your cats are always outside, even if you don’t eat turkey.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Million Dollar Bill

A coworker gave me a million dollar bill. Check it out:

I love that the president on it is Rutherford B. Hayes. And why do we always refer to him that way? Never Rutherford Hayes without the middle initial. I mean, is there some other Rutherford Hayes we could get him confused with so we must specify the B?

The best part about this fake bill is that it is a bit of stealth evangelization, which my coworker didn’t notice when he gave it to me. (He thought it was a joke, but not that kind of joke.) Here is what it says on the back:

The million-dollar question: will you go to Heaven when you die? Here’s a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell. That’s not God’s will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. You broke God’s law. But Jesus paid your fine. That means He can legally dismiss your case. He can commute your death sentence – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please repent (turn from sin) today and trust alone in Jesus, and God will grant you the gift of everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.

Then it gives a website that I checked out for your convenience. It seems to be a website that sells religious tracts. So this million dollar bill is actually a sales pitch.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

My Famous Office Mate

Saturday Travalon and I went to the Badger game; it was a gorgeous day to be outside watching a game, but the outcome was sort of sad for us Badger fans. At least it was close, and we lost in overtime. It could have been so much worse. We were sitting in the end zone so we could really see all the overtime action. Lots of Ohio State fans were sitting near us, doing some cheer: “Oh-hi!” “Oh!!” They had gestures that went with it and everything. The ones lower down would do the first half of the chant, and the ones higher up would finish it. Of course the student sections had their usual chant going back and forth, which I won’t repeat on a family blog.

Sunday Travalon and I went to a bar from the book that was outside of Reedsburg and seriously in the middle of nowhere. Lots of hunters in bright orange were watching the Packer game, which had a much happier outcome than the Badger one. They didn’t have much selection out there, so I ordered a Miller High Life, since the free sample of it they give you at the end of the Miller brewery tour is so tasty. Of course High Life in a bottle wasn’t tasty at all, especially after all the microbrews we’ve been sampling. It was weak and watery, and I’m not sure why people drink it when there are such good beers in the world. Then Travalon and I saw my office mate Light Bright perform in a tribute show with her band to raise money for the Baraboo Zoo. They did tributes to Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash, and they were really good. It was at the Al Ringling Theater, which is beautiful and was decorated for Christmas, somewhat early in my opinion, but it was lovely to see. Afterwards Light Bright was surrounded by people who wanted her autograph, but that didn’t give her such a big head because she showed up for work today anyway.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

He Said WHAT??

In the OTHER choir I sing with, we are working on a gorgeous piece by Schuetz. We are planning to sing it a capella but still need the piano playing along with our parts, since it is a very difficult piece. Last night the OTHER choir director made a comment that we “only have two weeks to get our Schuetz together,” and I tried not to laugh, wondering if anyone else thought it was funny too. Here and there someone giggled, then pretty soon the whole choir was laughing. The OTHER choir director seemed puzzled. “What’s so funny?” he wondered. When an alto pointed out to him what he had said, he joined the chorus of laughter.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Poor Guy

My office mate Light Bright told me this story yesterday: as she was waiting in line to vote in the recent election, she struck up a conversation with the short white guy with an East Coast accent behind her. He was telling her that he was sick of all these rich politicians who only care about other rich people, and wouldn’t it be nice if they would buy his groceries since he couldn’t afford to. He went on and on about how poor he was, and how poor his mother out in New York was… and then he pulled out a Smart phone. Now neither Light Bright nor I have Smart phones. Hey! Maybe that’s why we can afford to buy groceries.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All About -us

Today my office mate Light Bright and I were talking about my pilgrimage to the taverns in Bottoms Up, and I wondered if it was all one pilgrimage or if each trip to a tavern was a pilgrimage in itself, and she said, “They’re pilgrimagi!” She was surprised to learn that you can’t just stick an i on the back of a word to make it a plural unless that word ends in –us. I gave her several examples, like syllabus – syllabi, or Christopher and his lesser-known brother Frank the Columbi brothers, and she tried to think of a word that ended in –us and could only come up with “horrendous.” I said it has to be a noun, and she said, “I don’t like all these rules!” She found a website that had this rule and some more examples, like asparagus – asparagi, and she said, “These aren’t as fun as my made-up words.” Then she wondered about Adidas, since it ends in –us. I said it may sound like it does, but it ends with an a and is already plural. She said, “This is why I’m so bad at spelling!”

Update: Light Bright and I have determined that the plural of bus must be bi.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eco's Bad Day

Last night when Hardingfele and I went to work out, she told me this blogworthy story: her daughter Rockstar Tailor recently got a pet walking stick bug from a classmate, which she named Eco. Hardingfele was on the phone the other night when she heard a bloodcurdling scream, and when she asked what was wrong, Rockstar Tailor told her she had accidentally broken one of Eco’s legs off so they had to go visit the emergency veterinary clinic. Hardingfele said bugs are not to be cuddled like cats, and the vet would just tell them, “Now you have a five-legged bug.”

After our workout, I stopped by to meet Eco. Hardingfele peered at the bug and said, “Now it only has four legs! Have you been cuddling it again?” Rockstar Tailor was nonchalant: “My friend says they will grow back.” So I am wondering how few legs this poor bug will end up with. When I asked Light Bright if this was a blogworthy story, she said yes and suggested I draw a rendition of Eco, so here it is.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Bottoms Up Pilgrimage Update

Travalon and I continue our pilgrimage to visit every tavern and brewery featured in Bottoms Up. (There will be a TV show based on the book showing tonight at 8:00 on PBS.) Friday we went to the Cardinal Bar and had a lovely chat with the couple next to us and the two bartenders. The Cardinal used to be open on Sundays with live Latin jazz, but just a month ago this stopped because they were having to pay the band more than they took in. The Cardinal spent Prohibition posing as a restaurant.

Then Saturday we took a road trip out to Potosi to their historic brewery. Potosi is a very pretty town, and the beer is wonderful there, but to our surprise two people came in and one ordered a Bud Light while the other ordered a Miller Light. What?? There is a History of Beer museum located in the brewery complex, and we enjoyed looking at century-old memorabilia and watching decades-old TV ads. Then we drove to Platteville to another historic tavern with jars full of candy behind the lovely wooden bar, adding to the old-fashioned feel. We ended the night at Dot’s Tavern in the town of Bosco, down in the basement of a house. The jukebox had lots of Elvis and Johnny Cash on it, and the bartenders and regulars were highly entertaining. The author of Bottoms Up is right – every tavern in this book is a pleasure to visit!

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Happening Tivoli Island

Do you ever feel like you missed all the fun? It was a common feeling for those of us who grew up in the 80’s and felt we missed all the fun in the 60’s, but it seems that the real fun was longer ago than that. First there was the Great Saltair, which you can read about here, out in Salt Lake City. In the 20’s it was a happening place with people going out every weekend to swim, and live jazz bands playing in the evenings. Now it is still a live music venue, but when Tiffy and I visited it last year, not much was going on, and the current building is not nearly as elaborate as the original one.

 The Great Saltair

Now I find out that back in the 90’s – that is, the 1890’s – there was a pavilion and a fountain on Tivoli Island in Watertown, as well as a bowling alley, and that all sorts of concerts happened there. Today the island is a very pretty wilderness park with hiking trails, but I feel a little sad to think I missed all the excitement on Tivoli Island. Here is a history of it, and here is a photo:

Tivoli Island

It does make me wonder what we have now that people one hundred years from now will look back and say, “If only I had seen that when it was a happening place!” Let me know what you would nominate in the comments.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rich's Bike Helmet

This morning as I walked to the bus stop, I saw a shattered bike helmet in the middle of a driveway. Who knows what happened there? But it reminded me of the time Rich needed to get a new bike helmet. The irony is that he was the one always telling other people to be sure to wear a helmet when biking, yet his ancient, moldy helmet would have been no protection in a crash. We all told him to get a new helmet, but he thought the old one was perfectly serviceable. It took an act of God to finally get him to buy a new one.

Rich had gone camping with a friend in a place called Thorp, which does not have much in it but does have a restaurant called Thorpedo.  They brought their bikes up, strapped to the back of the car, and left the same way. Once they got on the highway, the car behind them kept flashing its lights so they pulled over. Something had flown off their car and smashed on the hood of the car behind them, causing no damage to it, but the object had shattered completely. They were puzzling over what it could be when Rich realized that he had left his bike helmet on the handlebars of his bike, and that was what had flown off and smashed on the other car. When he told us this story, Kathbert and I said, “See, Rich? Even God thinks you needed a new helmet!” So he did get one.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sydney the Red Blood Cell

Today, as every day, I was agonizing over what to blog about as Light Bright and I went to the new building to deliver mail. I began telling her about a short story I’d written, based on my brother’s eventful wedding, in which the main character wrote children’s stories about Sydney the Red Blood Cell, like Sydney Visits the Heart and Sydney Visits the Lungs. When I had told Tiffy about this back in the day, she suggested the title Anemia: Sydney Goes on a Diet and also doubted that Sydney would enjoy much circulation. To my surprise, Light Bright thought I should actually write the series of children’s books about Sydney, which I had always intended to be a funny detail in the short story. “They would be very educational,” she said. So I leave it to you, gentle readers – should I actually proceed with this undertaking? Would children everywhere love to learn about Sydney’s travels throughout the body?

(I actually own this Giant Microbe)

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Tavern Pilgrimage Continues

Travalon and I continue to make our pilgrimage to the historical taverns featured in the book Bottoms Up. Friday night we went to Kurth’s Tavern in Columbus, which is only open on Wednesdays and Fridays. It is the hospitality building from the old Kurth Brewing complex, most of which burned down in 1919. They even still serve Kurth beer, though of course it is not brewed there anymore. Saturday we went to a book signing with the author of Bottoms Up and another author who did a coffee table book on the old Pabst Brewing Company buildings, and then we went to the old hospitality building at that complex. We also took advantage of Free Zoo Day at the Milwaukee Zoo and had affordable lobster at the St. Paul Seafood Company in the Milwaukee Public Market.  So now we only have about sixty-seven taverns left to visit.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Day at the Office

Today at the office I had to print out thirty PDFs for someone. Why he couldn’t read them on the computer instead of killing innumerable trees is beyond me, but mine is not to ask why, at least not at the office. He gave me the CD the PDFs were on… and the case was taped totally closed, so I had to remove six pieces of tape to get into it. Then I got him to let me print them on the ton of scratch paper we have around the office… but I used it all up and still had ten PDFs to go! The kicker is that this guy is retired and technically no longer works here. Isn’t that kind of like if I were to print my novel at work?  Or more precisely, asking someone else to print it out after I no longer work here and then making sure the CD it was on was nearly impossible to access?

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