Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Farm To Table

Could it be that eggs that were free to roam the countryside may taste superior to eggs that were imprisoned in a tiny nest with many other eggs?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

First Of The Season

Nothing says Life In The Great Midwest better than the first picked sweet corn on the cob of the season. I live for this stuff.

Today I drove to our farm to check on the trail cams. Nothing on the cams so more bait was placed out in order to get some of the whitetails interested in a few summer scout season snapshots.

Here in Northwest Indiana there has been way too much rain especially about 20 miles to the south. A continuous pattern of rainy days for weeks falling on the same geographic area caused big problems. So much rain had fallen that our farm will be an estimated 80% loss for the year.

For two months the Kankakee River has been at flood stage. The farm is far enough away from the river but all the drainage ditches flow into that river. After crops sprouted they spent much of the time below water especially the low lying areas that there is no way for it to come back no matter what the weather.

Alfalfa is about the only crop on our farm worth a crap.

Driving along down and back I noticed many farms in very bad condition. What should be green as far as the eye can see is some green and a lot of yellow.

The local sweet corn is one of the many crops suffering. I drove to the farm on one route and back on another. My intent was to buy some fresh picked sweet corn. Nothing doing. Two farm stands had no local sweet corn and workers told me they did not know when they would be getting any.

Not one to give up I drove eight miles east of the country bunker to a classic local farm stand. The stand  structure sits on the farm where the produce is grown. It's called Coulter's and they live in a home fifty hards away from the stand is located. Today they had the gold. She told me they have been picking for three days and will have no problem offering 6 ears for $2 and 12 for $3.50 between now and the first frost. Northern LaPorte county seems to have been spared from the recent stalled weather pattern of localized downpours.

Looks like some of the mileage saved getting to and from the new job will go to my every-other-day sweet corn shuttle. It's well worth it.

Sweet corn is good cooked in the microwave and on the grill but my favorite is boiled, swimming in butter with copious amounts of salt drizzled on.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Here We Go Again

"I yam what I yam and its time to scram" - Popeye The Sailor Man

One rule of life I tried to imprint in my youngsters mind was to take advantage of each and every opportunity that comes along. When no opportunity presents itself then make your own. Time for me to follow my own advice again.

Having a hobby job turning into a second career has kept me occupied, insured along with being educational and fun all at the same time. Working at the World's Foremost Outfitter has been one heck of a resume enhancement. It led me to a sweet full time hourly job (30 hours per week) with good healthcare benefits managing a small outdoor department at a small regional sporting goods chain just 19 miles from home instead of the 34 saving me fuel costs, wear and tear on the vehicle and more free time.

A few months ago I became aware that a major sporting goods retail chain that shall remain nameless was opening a free standing unit much closer to the old country bunker. 16.5 miles closer. After checking out one of their existing locations I noticed they also had an outdoor department but with a higher quality of merchandise in a contemporary, upbeat environment compared to my current employer. It was no brainer time.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Oregon Road Trip Part I

Recently I went to Oregon for the first time. In my past work as a consultant and during vacations I'd been to 48 states - but not Oregon or Hawaii. We started out in Portland and traveled around most of the state and it was a good time, with a lot of odd insights.

The architecture in Portland was spectacular. I am a fan of the "Dwell" type house; a modern look with lots of glass. Portland had many older houses (Victorians) along with a lot of great new construction, especially in the downtown area.

Oregon in general had many older cars, often in pristine condition. I saw a lot of older pickup trucks off the main roads, still working hard for their owners. Not sure why but generally it must be that they don't salt their roads.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Today being Bastille Day is a good time to write this post.

I took French in high school and a few years in college and was somewhat surprised at how much I remembered when I took my cycling trips to France some 20 years later.  I couldn't really speak it, but I could understand basics (when people spoke slowly) and could read a menu, street signs, etc.  I amazed my cycling buddies when I was able to help poke our way through a menu in France.  In the back of my mind I decided that someday I would be fluent in French.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I saw an ad on TV for DuoLingo, an app that teaches you a language.  I loaded it onto my phone (free is a great price) and it is really fun.  You can login under multiple devices.

Your "goal" is 20 points a day.  You earn points by completing lessons.  You also earn these things called "lingots" that you can use to purchase extra lessons and do other fun things. 

The lessons are a combination of typing what you hear, speaking (it has voice recognition), multiple choice, translating French to English, and translating English to French.

I am pretty awestruck at how fast my brain has remembered how to conjugate verbs, and how much vocabulary I remembered.  You can test out of sections if you think you know it well enough, otherwise, you just keep plugging along lesson after lesson until completed.  Over time, each passed lesson "weakens" if you are having issues, so you also have the option to go back and practice it to "strengthen" it back up.  I have no idea how long it will take me to complete the French "tree".  Many other languages are available in DuoLingo.

If you are in an area where you can't speak, you can select the "no speaking" option and complete lessons that way.

It isn't perfect, but it is free and I have found it to be very entertaining.  I don't have to commit to some huge lesson plan, or to a class that is on a certain hour of a certain day.  If I find 20 minutes, I just sit down, open up the app and do a few lessons to get my 20 points (this is the highest level, you can set the bar lower if you like).

The app says I am 40% fluent at this point.  I would argue with that assessment, but I guess I will take it.  If lauguages interest you, I would highly recommend this app.

Of course, being curious, I decided to find out how this company makes money.  When you get to very high levels, they ask you if you want to try to translate a CNN story, or an article, etc. and they grade you.  Well, while they are grading your work and you receive that benefit, they are also selling your work back to CNN and other media outlets for translating the stories.  Pretty ingenious, I thought.  So them making an app that interests you and holds your attention benefits them - taking you through the course all the way up to fluency will eventually net them an employee that they can cash in on and not have to pay.

Friday, July 03, 2015

The "Amazon-ification" of Retail

A while back I was talking to a friend of mine and he said
A package from Amazon shows up at my doorstep every day of the week
At the time I thought my friend was exaggerating, or perhaps a little bit crazy. But now it has moved to the point where I usually receive 1-2 packages each week from Amazon and now the yellow "minion" boxes abound in my condo.

What happened? I started to realize that with free shipping and the fact that my iPhone is usually nearby, whenever I am "out" of something around the house or need something that is unavailable, I just pick up my phone, type in a description in the App, and buy it immediately. Then I typically forget about whatever it is that I bought until I open up one of the regularly arriving Amazon boxes and go
Oh, that's what I needed
You can buy pretty much everything that isn't immediately perishable on Amazon, except for a few things like liquor. Thankfully I live near an enormous liquor store (but unfortunately not a high end grocery store, River North lacks a Whole Foods or Mariano's) so that's covered.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Another Indiana Business That Is Booming

Independence Day is synonymous with fireworks. It gives me an excuse to blow stuff up and nobody can do anything about it. With two days to prepare it brings back memories.

Today the local news reported how well the fireworks business is in Indiana especially in locations directly adjacent to the Illinois border.

Every summer the Illi-No residents flock across the People's Republic of Illi-No border to buy a little slice of freedom to celebrate what little freedom and independence they still have over there. And each year the Chicago media reports on Illi-No State Police undercover spies hunkering here in Indiana parking lots relaying license plate information to road block partners on the other side where the cars are stopped and searched then passengers arrested after confiscating the illegal booty and then fined. Revenue generation at it's best. I suppose any Illegal Mexicans caught crossing the border back to Illi-No are allowed to go free since Illi-No has declared itself as a "sanctuary state".

We did a lot of dumb things with fireworks as kids such as…

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Optimal Gin and Tonic

Recently I wrote about service sector productivity... and my inability to get a Gin and Tonic the way I wanted.  Tonight I went to The Betty - a bar in Fulton Market - and got a first class gin and tonic!  It was like a build-a-Bear with some sort of bitters (the red eye-dropper), grapefruit (the other eye-dropper), custom tonic water, high class gin, a silver tray, and some sort of advanced stirring spoon.  It was $16 but it was quite a lot of fun.

Perhaps like Kramer I should do a coffee table book about my elusive quest for a correctly made gin and tonic...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Service Sector Productivity

Recently I went on a diet and began ordering specific drinks ordered a specific way - generally gin with a "splash" of tonic (because tonic has carbs and I want to minimize carbs, but need something to cut against the alcohol). This order, however, has become a running joke among my friends because no matter what I order I usually get the same drink every time - which is a "standard" gin and tonic (see below, the wrong order per usual).

Unlike most people who would shrug it off or get angry, to me this is really an economics issue and not just a "bad order". When you work with bars and restaurants and other similar industries, if you do anything "outside the norm" your odds of getting it "right" are often less than 50/50. Which leads us to the title of this post...

Margie's Candies Is Highly Recommended

Recently I was on the "606" Trail and visited one of my favorite spots in Chicago - "Margie's Candies". Margie's makes incredible ice cream sundae's that must be seen to be believed - and they come with an actual silver pitcher of hot fudge that you can pour on the ice cream yourself. Usually I would start with a photo of the restaurant but I wanted to make sure that the "money shot" is above the fold.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Black Flag Art

Recently I was walking past the upscale furniture store Minotti in River North in Chicago when a print immediately caught my eye.

Why did it catch my eye? Because it was the iconic "4 bars" of the Black Flag logo, of course!

I don't know if they paid for rights or not but a blogger right here at LITGM has contacts who can find out. You heard it here first...

On a similar note, I saw an interview with Rob Halford of Judas Priest where he noted that the gap had "borrowed" the iconic front cover of "Screaming for Vengeance" for a t-shirt.