Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Sad State of Big Time Amateur Athletics

I heard this morning that Jim Tr*ssel has resigned from THE. I gave that news a hearty shoulder shrug.

They cheat like every other bigtime program in the nation. Whether it is turning a blind eye to PED's, booster gifts (cough, Auburn, cough) or whatever - there is not one program with any measureable amount of success that doesn't cheat.

Did my beloved Illini cheat on their way to the Rose Bowl a half decade ago? Probably. But the funny (or sad) part is that USC cheated MORE to get there. WAY MORE. And of course, rather than fall on the sword and take his punishment as head coach of Trojanus Maximus, Pete C*rroll takes the pro job in Seattle. Biggest display of cowardly behavior I may ever see in all my life of watching kollej football.

And that is why I am not exactly dancing in the streets over THE's current pickle. Sure, I hate them as much as the next guy, and wish their athletic program nothing but failure. But my Illini could be next. Or pretty much any program exept perhaps Northwestern. For some reason I trust that they run their program the right way. I could be wrong.

I am sure Tr*ssel will get a nice job eventually. Where he will talk all high and mighty, then cheat like everyone else. It is pretty lame that he preached about doing everything right, and now the evidence says all that Christian faith he had talked and preached about while wearing that dumb vest was just plain 'ol bullshit. He was a cheater just like all the rest and apparently knew exactly what was going on the whole time. I am not surprised.

So what to do about bigtime amateur athletics? Hard to say. The NCAA is probably one of the most corrupt organizations this side of FIFA. The rules are randomly enforced and there seems to be a wink and a nod to the big money programs. Anyone remember Maurice Clarett? Talk about sweeping some sh1t under the rug.

I sort of like what Auburn did last year when they came under investigation. Rather than circling the wagons and suspending players, they just pushed all of their chips in and told the NCAA to get f*cked. It has apparently worked! Sure, they can take back their trophy, but you can't take back those parties.

We will see if all of these new allegations about THE's football program are true. If they are, they should get the death penalty, plain and simple. But the truth is that money talks, and violations walk. Over and over and over.

Past Music

When music videos came out everyone watched them all the time. We sat riveted to the couch watching the same crappy videos over and over. Then after college there was a time where I didn't have cable and you couldn't just see videos on the internet so I missed out on an entire generation of videos.

Recently I heard a song by the band Garbage and I went back and looked through my MP3's and filled out some that I had lost along the way in the transfer from CD to digital. While a lot of the attraction of Garbage was the sleek mix from Butch Vig (who recently produced the new Foo Fighters album) of course their lead singer Shirley Manson was an even bigger piece of the equation. For Dan at least, the fact that they are a band out of Madison can't hurt, either.

I bought a compilation DVD that had all their videos in high quality because it is so cheap on Amazon now and it is better than watching the grainy You Tube versions. Of course Shirley still knows how to sell it...

Then speaking of older music I recently saw a video by WHITESNAKE when I was falling asleep on the couch and some things never change! There was David Cloverdale in all his glory clutching the mic stand like he always did and then... wait for it...

You need to have a girl 'on the pole'. Can't have a video for Whitesnake without some tail, can you?

One time when I was waiting for the bus at college some guy pulled up to a house right across from the bus stop in his Camaro and got out to go inside and pick someone up. He walked a few steps out of his parked car, then turned around, got into the car, and cranked up "Slide it In" super loud so that everyone on the block could hear it (remember, no one is in the car now), and walked past the porch and into the house. All of us at the bus stop just sat there and were treated to a deafening version of this Whitesnake classic. For no reason whatsoever.

I can't believe I am saying this but I actually like this tune. It was worth an investment of $0.99 on iTunes I even downloaded it.

If you have a couple minutes and want a laugh go to the wikipedia page and look at all the band lineups that Whitesnake has had over the last 34 years! It is amazing. I think David Cloverdale has fired everyone in heavy metal by the time you add it all up. He even married and fired Tany Kitaen who was on the hood of the Jaguar in all those videos; can't blame him for that one he got her good years she has had a hard ride as you can read here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

No Live 500 For Me This Year

First year in fifteen. Personal reasons. Should be back next year.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Beef Analysis

Well, we picked up Earl today in seven cardboard boxes. We even got the processor to save us the horns and plan on making a display with those. The breed we raise is the Scottish Highland. They are a slow to mature breed, and we add no hormones or grain to our cattle's diet, which makes them even slower to mature. Earl was at the two year mark when he was sent in. Most feed lot cattle are around 12 - 14 months. Our cattle only eat pasture grass and hay that we get from our farmland. The only artificial thing we use on them is a de-wormer.

Hanging weight - 528 pounds, which made this about a 950 pound steer on the hoof. Hanging weight is the side of beef that, well, hangs in the cooler for a few days with all of the usable cuts intact. Typically you get about 63% of the hanging weight as edible beef, which yields us approximately 333 pounds. There were a large variety of cuts. Everything from arm steaks to ribeyes to t-bones to sirloin strips. The tenderloins were looking great. There is a lot of ground beef, of course. We requested the organ meats. This was at the discretion of the butcher, who will not let them go if they look odd or funny to him. We received the heart, liver, tongue and sweetbreads. I am really looking forward to preparing the tongue and sweetbreads - two of my favorites.

Not being grainfed and being a different breed of cattle than the standard feedlot steer, we are not expecting well marbled steaks like you would find at Ruth Chrith. We are expecting beef that most likely tastes like it tasted to folks 100 years ago. Which is to say wild. Wild isn't the right word - just more "beefy". We will see. First burgers tonight, first steaks tomorrow.


Acqisition cost of the animal - $500
Feed cost - $0
Vet cost - $0
De-wormer - $10
Transport to processor - $100
Processing - $312.06

I can't really think of any other costs we have associated with the animal. This puts our all around cost of the beef at $2.77 per pound. Of course you can get ground beef much cheaper than this, but good luck finding a decent ribeye under $10 per pound (I have been seeing $15/pound around here).

In the future our acquisition cost will be lowered by approximately $450 as we have two females in our herd. One has yielded a calf already with one other on the way. Our other female gets knocked up for the first time next year. Typically you pay the vet $25 for the process, and $25 for the straw. For those of you who don't know, a straw is a vial of semen from a bull that you choose. Alternately we have been offered to send our females to a bull to do it au naturel for $50 including transportation. We went the vet way this year and it took (we are expecting a calf any day now) so time will tell if we send our females away this fall or have the vet knock them up.

Beef prices are at record levels right now, so our next steer (set to leave in a few months) may be sold outright - we will see. My wife reports seeing grass fed organic ground beef being sold for $5 per pound. Our farm is so small that we wouldn't have to get certified to be called organic, so along those lines a local butcher has expressed interest in our steers to sell at his shop. He can label and sell the product as grass fed organic and command a higher price, and also tell his customers that they can drive by our farm and see the cattle peacefully grazing on pasture.

Of course this is all pie in the sky before it really happens, but time will tell. This second steer will most certainly have to be sold one way or another as I honestly don't have any idea what we would do with another steer, unless we eat beef every day this summer (could happen).

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.

Bar Night or (Not The) J*onas Brother

I was out for a few drinks after dinner on Friday night and if I am somewhere that looks interesting I take out my cheap little blog camera, set it on something (hopefully) flat, turn on the 10 second timer, and see what comes up.


Here is a view of Pippins, a small wood paneled place on Rush Street. The place was packed with drunks but everyone seemed happy.


Later we went over to Streeters a couple of blocks away, billed as "The Best Bar Underground". I did my old point the camera and see what happens towards some guys playing beer pong.


Then something hilarious happened. The guy in the tie and his friend came over to us (they were friendly)and asked if we took their picture because we thought he was a J*nas Brother (don't want a billion hits) because he said that happens "all the time". I laughed and said I was just taking a picture of some people playing beer pong but that was completely unexpected. I guess he does look a bit like one of them - note how he is staying still for the shot. And if you wear a tie like that out on a Friday night it probably helps complete the look. Very funny.

And finally if you do go to Streeters and you hear a huge crash it is the giant Jenga game they have with huge graffiti encrusted wooden blocks.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum designed by Calatrava near downtown Milwaukee on Lake Michigan is so beautiful that it is difficult to take a bad picture. I recently went there for a great Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit (and the dedicated gift store had great items, too). Finally, we had lunch in their little cafeteria where the food was excellent and they had a good beer selection, to boot.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bottoms Up, Babe!

I did a post on this at Chicago Boyz, but it is worth reposting. Watch this incredible gaffe by our idiot in chief:

I have watched this video probably fifty times and will probably watch it fifty more. I just cannot stop laughing.

Either a) his handlers did not brief him on protol or b) he didn't listen. What a buffoon. Here is the kicker - the left controled msm will bury this enormous gaffe, where if it were a Republican, this thing would be on an endless loop on every msm site from here to under Chris Matthew$ desk.

I usually don't do politics, but this is funny stuff. He would have done better just saying "Bottoms Up, Babe!" and shut his piehole.

Planning An Automobile Trip This Summer?

This site shows current fuel prices by county. It's an interactive map that may help you decide a destination.

Looks like California, New York and Illinois are places to avoid. Not that I plan on filling up there anyway.

Saving 50¢ per gallon is a lot when filling up a 20 gallon tank. On this side of the state line I save at least 25¢ per gal over buying fuel in Illinois.

Firearm Insurance

As Carl pointed out in his entry below, guns in the hands of law abiding citizens deters crime, or at least can save your life.

This morning the wife and I paid a visit to our new insurance agent. He requested the meeting and we wanted to see if our insurance needs are excessive or less than what we needed.

Motorcycle. Sold the Harley. Saved $300 a year. Check.

Auto. Just fine. In fact he informed us that for $8 per year extra we would be in effect buying a $20,000 life insurance policy if either of us died in a collision. Cool. That’s a no-brainer.

Boat. I am overinsured. But for what we pay it's a bargain since the replacement cost of the boat is equal to what we paid for it 20 years ago. Good to go.

Home. As we went through his itemized list we discovered our insured home value is more than double what we originally paid, should a fire or tornado wipe out our dwelling. Hard to believe since there is no way it would sell for that amount in today’s market.

Then he came to the part about the value of possessions. This would be luxury items such as jewelry, furs, expensive artwork, family heirlooms, artifacts and firearms.

He looked at me and told me I was insured for $2500 worth of firearms, was that correct? I answered maybe. He looked at me and said, “my last job was working for an agent in Lake County, IN and it honestly shocks me how many people here in Porter County request firearm insurance in excess of $10,000.”

I just looked at him and said, “everyone’s well armed in Porter County, why do you think violent crime out here is non-existent?”

He nodded.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Baffled "Experts"

Today's New York Times had an article titled "Steady Decline in Major Crime Baffles Experts". The article describes how crime has fallen across the country at a time when the crime "experts" thought it would increase.

There was no immediate consensus to explain the drop. But some experts said the figures collided with theories about correlations between crime, unemployment and the number of people in prison. Take robbery: The nation has endured a devastating economic crisis, but robberies fell 9.5 percent last year, after dropping 8 percent the year before.

Interesting - you can see the three key elements of the "expert" model:

1) unemployment
2) number of persons in prison

Not mentioned above but likely another key variable in their model is the number of male individuals in the key age range for committing crimes - I don't know exactly what that is but I would guess it is something like 18-25.

Throughout the article, as is the norm in the New York Times, there is no mention of ANOTHER key variable that has been added to the equation over the last few decades - gun owner rights. The only time guns come up in the paper is when 1) there is some sort of sensational murder of multiple individuals and they want to blame the type of weapon used 2) someone who clearly should not have a gun like someone who should have been committed to a mental institution uses one to hurt someone.

But while it is not even a variable to consider to these experts OBVIOUSLY gun owner rights deter criminals. The presence of armed civilians who are able to defend their homes and now their persons in most states (only Wisconsin and Illinois have no form of concealed carry) is a form of deterrence that criminals would be aware of, since it is a factor for THEM to consider on the types of crimes that they commit. For example anyone doing home invasions in Texas would have to be insane; you'd need to be armed to the teeth and willing to kill the home owner in cold blood and face a death sentence for the chance to walk away with some home electronics?

The saddest part for me is that either all of their journalists have been actively trained NEVER to mention guns as a source of positive outcomes or, more likely, the journalists are all selected from the same pool of people that actually THINK that way. Certainly if you went to a private school out east somewhere or were educated in England it would never occur to you that guns could impact crime favorably, because these sorts of stories never occur in print.

When I am overseas I have fun talking to people about Indiana, a state bordering Chicago which is actually part of the metropolitan area, where you should assume that many people have concealed carry and the background checks are reasonable and yet it isn't the "wild west" at all. They really don't believe me, and part of it is that those stories just aren't told. Of course they don't even know that they are in a concealed carry state unless someone tells them. And from their perspective, the most dangerous places to be are those that have the MOST RESTRICTIVE gun laws, which also seems counter-intuitive to them but since no one explains this in more depth they just drop it and assume Americans are "gun crazy".

I don't mind newspapers having an opinion, even an opinion that I disagree with. What irks me is the fact that I genuinely believe that they have ruled out guns having a positive impact in all scenarios without questioning that belief and frankly it is sad. Whether it is stated policy or just something that comes with hiring the staff it is a clear fact.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Monday, May 23, 2011

One Last Run

She’s gone. Just a memory.

Breaking up is hard to do but this time it was rather easy. It took only ten days to sell my Harley and I was able to get what I wanted. The buyer didn’t even haggle.

When he stopped by Thursday afternoon it was love at first sight for this guy. The bike had just the right amount of chrome goodies but not too much, the custom paint is simple and well done, he claimed. When I cranked it up he went goo-goo over the bark from the Vance & Hines straight shot pipes.

He asked what I thought about adding saddlebags and a windshield. My response was, do you see any? I like my bike lean and mean. More motor and less cycle I say.

Here’s where I had some concerns. The buyer (we are the same age) had ridden dirt bikes for years and was now ready for his first road bike. We all enjoy our midlife crisis toys and this was to be his. He did not feel comfortable even taking a test drive. He put money down and then asked if I would ride it to his house to transfer the title on Sunday. He offered to drive me home after.

He is obviously afraid of it. Nothing at all wrong with that. It weighs about 500lbs., more than double that of any bike he has ever ridden, and while it is not a crotch rocket it’s definitely no slouch. This bike can easily get away from the rider. I fed his fears a bit.

His plan is to take it slowly, get used to the bike and take short spins around Chesterton, a small town about eight miles north of me, before getting out on the open road. Smart guy. Hopefully I will see them on the road again one day.

He’s happy, I’m happy and I know the bike is getting a good home.

Monday Morning Blues

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Man Mitch

Well he’s out. Not gonna' run. It’s best he doesn’t. Family comes first he claims. Honestly, I never thought he had a chance.

Here’s Mitch in the Indy 500 parade last year. I screamed out “My Man Mitch”, he looked, waved and smiled for a photo riding his custom Harley FXD, which displays a replica Indiana flag on the tank. Click to enlarge if you want to see.

Without getting into specifics Mitch was a great governor here in Indiana, I know first hand. We benefit from what he has done, especially gaining a billion dollar state budget surplus by slicing and dicing a lot of pork fat and shoving a hot poker up the ass of state employee unions before it became popular. The Indiana lefties just hate the guy, that’s all we need to know.

Sorry to see him leave the governor's office (Indiana has term limits) but on the bright side, Mike Pence will most likely succeed him so we’ll be in good hands for at least another eight years.

Sadly, Mitch is very sharp financially and a solid leader but he just has no charisma, which is so important in today’s pop culture obsessed society. On top of that he would be cannon fodder for the MSM, the likes of Comedy Central and SNL.

Don’t count him out for a cabinet position or some type of economic advisor position should the GOP guy win.

I hope that guy is Herman Cain, he jumped in hours before Mitch bowed out. Check out Herman's announcement here. He needs no teleprompter. Herman will chew up and spit out Zero as nobody else would dare. He's got me cranked up.

Herman is my dark horse candidate, pun intended.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

St. Pancras London

Recently on Chicago Boyz I saw a post about the re-opening of St. Pancras railway station in London. I was in London recently and was very impressed with the size and scale of the building as well as the renovation.

Upper left - patrons the bar in the train station. Upper right - the lights in the high vaulted ceiling. Lower left - the Eurostar train station connecting to Europe. Lower middle - the eerie faux-reflection in the glasses on the base of the statue in the station. Lower bottom - the view of the station from the side.

Highly recommended to walk through it if you are in London.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Friday, May 20, 2011

About Those NFL Helmet Designs

Dan tossed me a challenge I am willing to take up. First a little background.

As a graphic design professional with 35 years of experience in major Chicago ad agencies, working with the NFL on behalf of our clients happened to me at least once annually going all the way back to 1976. I designed executed many marketing campaigns for clients that had exclusive NFL sponsorships.

As a fan my partiality to helmet, uniform and logo designs for NFL teams has always leaned toward bold colors, contrasts and tradition. That’s always been my personal style preferences. To me, simple design beats convoluted designs and those that work way too hard.

In today’s glut of merchandising, helmets and emblems often undergo modernization and design upgrades. We are now seeing ferocious images of cats and horses and birds on helmets all in the name of looking good enough to entice the sales of gadgets, posters, stickers and apparel etc. to fans.

All that being said, here are my opinions and rankings of NFL team helmet designs, in order of the above chart.

49‘ers. Traditional and clean. Simple traditional emblem and great color combination.

Vikings. The horn screams Viking. They have an icon of a fierce looking Viking warrior that works well on merchandise but that image does not belong on a helmet.

Titans. This is an expansion team that picked a peculiar name and an equally peculiar emblem. Their colors just scream “we are running out of color choices, please help!” Boring is a compliment.

Texans. The colors are good and bold but the bull icon looks a bit too contemporary and could go out of fashion easily. I give them credit for a clean design tho.

Steelers. Since this was #1 helmet in Dan’s ESPN link here’s the reason according to this site. Why change it? The only thing I would do is put another emblem on the other side of the helmet. The link also provides a reason for not doing so

Seahawks. A real seahawk is neither ferocious or intimidating since it is a scavenger. The uniform colors have been upgraded and that is a big improvement over what they once had. The helmet needs an upgrade as well.

Saints. It is what it is. Good colors. Leave it be.

Redskins. The use of a native American head I like a lot because it’s delightfully politically incorrect. That has to get under some whiteskins in D.C. Colors are unappealing to me.

Rams. One of the very best helmets. It bears a solid and easily identifiable icon. Great colors. The updated metallic gold was a great move. No way to challenge this one.

Ravens. See Seahawks above. A raven is a crow. Who likes crows? But I do like the colors.

Raiders. Another old AFL franchise that is in despirate need of upgrade. Is this a cartoon of Daryl Lamonica with swords sticking through his head or what? Please. This helmet begs for a redesign with a mean looking skull. Can’t go wrong with the colors.

Patriots. Good move on the upgrade. Without staring at it the human head is barely noticeable. All I see is red white and blue. But if I were to upgrade it further I would design a stylized American flag and ditch the head.

Panthers. The cat head takes on the shape of the Carolina’s as states. That’s good. The cat needs a bit more contrast definition. The colors kinda suck to me because I am not a big fan of teal.

Packers. This is a classic and enduring helmet that will never change. They own green and yellow. When you see these colors there is no denying what team it is.

Lions. Another traditional icon is plastered on this helmet. But I would not put it past this franchise to upgrade to something more ferocious looking. I have no idea why they would, other than to answer declining merchandise sales.

Jets. This could be one of the worst looking helmets. With a name like Jets one would think of something simple but a bit more sexy than a green football shape with a word on it.

Jaguars. If you look at the above chart their helmet could easily be mistaken for the Raven helmet. Yawn.

Giants. It was a smart move for the franchise to go back to the NY icon. Having a word on the side of a helmet is dumb, like Illini. The color shades have changed over the years, I would prefer the blue to be more in the navy blue range.

Falcons. Not a bad icon IMO. The problem with this helmet is lack of contrast between the helmet color and the icon. Maybe a red falcon on black?

Eagles. Wings. What’s not to like? It’s nice and simple and very recognizable. Don’t screw with it. Colors are solid.

Dolphins. Now here’s a leftover from the old AFL days, a cartoon fish wearing a helmet. An upgrade is in needed. The colors are wimpy too. Why not a profile of a jumping dolphin? Or something. Anything but this.

Cowboys. The only thing I would change is the blue color. At a glance it looks too much like the Lions. They have gone to a deeper blue but I suggest they go even deeper.

Colts. I like the reference to the horseshoe being ‘good luck’. Don’t mess with it.

Chiefs. I like the arrowhead but it could lose the KC. It’s simple and clean and bold.

Chargers. By far this one of my favorite helmets. It has great visual energy. Blue helmet or white, doesn’t matter much to me, it’s a classic.

Cardinals. Another bird head icon, but what would be the alternative? Wings? A cardinal is not very intimidating but they’re stuck with it.

Buccaneers. My design compliments to this franchise. Once a strange gay pirate was plastered on this helmet. Adding the skull and changing the team colors was very wise. I recall they once looked like Dreamsicles with legs.

Browns. What to do, what to say? What exactly is a brown? Simple but boring. Just like Cleveland.

Broncos. Similar to the Buccaneers the franchise made a smart move in the design upgrade. What was once a light blue and orange color scheme with the icon of a “D” with a snorting horse head, their helmet now looks respectable. Colors are good.

Bills. Not great but not bad either. It is a huge improvement from the old AFL icon that was a silhouette of a standing buffalo begging to be shot by evil invading white guys.

Bengals. Another one of my favorite helmets. The stripes say it better than another cat head and make this one of the most creative helmet design to me.

Bears. Like the Packers it’s one of the most recognizable and traditional helmets. Don’t change a thing with the C design. Please, no growling bear heads. Please. Leave it alone.

So there you have it, my snarky commentary as the models have completed their walk down the runway. Why do I feel slightly gay after this entry?

My helmet design rankings - best to worst


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NFL Helmet Designs

Since the players and owners seem hopelessly stuck in their negotiations, the press really doesn't have much to write about wrt the NFL. In this vein, we get this article from ESPN ranking the helmets of the NFL.

I remember when I was a little kid and was getting my first taste of football. The helmets/logos were the first thing that attracted me to the sport. I utterly despise the helmets that my beloved Illini currently wear:

So f*cking ugly.
Lets go back to this:

Or better yet, this - really old school:

But I digress.

Remember the old Houston Oiler Oil Derrick helmets? Now THAT was a helmet.

As usual, the ESPN writers in the article above have everything wrong, so let me tell you who has good helmets and who has crappy ones. I will go by division, and rank them on a scale of 1 to 10.

AFC East:
Patriots - 4. The new patsy logo isn't bad, but there is too much silver in it. The old Patriot helmet with the guy on it Steve Grogan style was one of the best helmets ever, and scores a ten.
Dolphins - 8. Great action, and relatively unchanged for a long time.
Jests - 7. Much better now that they have gone back to their historical helmet.
Bills - 6. Pretty cluttered, but still good action. The old Bills helmets like OJ wore with the Buffalo grazing on the white background were awesome and score a 9.

AFC North:
Steelers - 4. I never liked this logo. Others will argue with me but I never liked this logo, and to boot it is only on one side of the helmet. Plus I hate the Steelers.
Ravens - 6. A bit cartoony, but still OK looking.
Browns - 8. Plain old orange. Love the classics.
Bengals - 1. What a disaster of a franchise and uniform.

AFC South:
Colts - 8. Another helmet basically unchanged from the Baltimore days. I love it. Very bold and instantly recognizable.
Jags - 3. Looks like total crap on TV.
Texans - 6. I used to hate this one but I am learing to like it. Too many curves in it though.
Titans - 3. Hate this one. They should just have stuck to being the Oilers.

AFC West:
Chargers - 5. I would like it more if they went back to their original color scheme.
Raiders - 8. Great helmet, and unchanged mostly. Even Al Davis can't screw that one up.
Broncos - 3. Terrible. You can hardly tell it is a horse on there. Elway's helmets sucked too with the big D on there. They need a do-over.
Chiefs - 9. Mostly unchanged over time, a nice logo with the beautiful red field.

NFC North:
Packers - 1. I hate the Packers.
Bears - 3. I never could understand why they didn't put an actual Bear on the side of the helmet. I know the C is historical, but it never did much for me.
Lions - 1. They just cannot get a nice lion helmet together. Scrap the silver and blue.
Queens - 8. I have always loved that helmet, although I have always hated the team.

NFC East:
Cowboys - 7. They really can't change their helmet, and if they did I am sure their fans would go ballistic.
Giants - 7. MUCH better since they went from the word GIANTS on the helmet to the NY old school.
Redskins - 10. My perfect NFL helmet with the exact combo I want of historical nod plus modern design. Although the old Redskin spear helmets were top notch too.
Eagles - 5. I know they could do better, but they have to keep somewhat historical.

NFC South:
Falcons - 4. Too much action with their new Falcon logo. The one in the previous generation gets a 7 from me.
Saints - 6. Fleur looks OK. What else would you really put on there?
Bucs - 2. Looks like a third grader designed that one.
Panthers - 2. See Bucs.

NFC West:
Rams - 8. I have always loved the Rams helmets too and I used to be a diehard Ram hater.
49ers - 8. They have maintained that nice SF logo and it looks great with the gold and red.
Cardinals - 10. I don't know what it is, I have always loved the Cardinal logo with the white helmet. They have modernized the Cardinal itself a bit which I don't like but so it goes.
Sea Chickens - 0. Forever and always, the worst helmet in all of professional football.

I am sure our resident graphic artist will have some good food for thought on this post.

A Farcebook Rant

This is way too amusing to me. I logged into Farcebook this morning. It happens every few weeks because that’s about how often I check into old bookmarks.

After being goaded into signing up for this social network wank a long time ago I signed up just placate some friends and to see what all the hoo-hah was. Just as predicted, not much there I could give a crap about.

When I checked my blog email this morning this message came up well after I logged onto my Farcebook site. There was no problem logging in at all.

So what does this even mean? I assume it means that since I do not log on more than bi-monthly (no sexuality jokes, please) they assume I am having problems logging on so their creepy autobot sent me a message. Nothing but a trick to get me into logging in again as if there was some problem.

They want me on it often so they can generate and update a marketing profile of me and my habits. Since I never use it and my name there is Gerry Fromvalpo they can suck it.

I don’t feel any need to let all my “friends” know when I blow a world record booger from my nose or announce that I “like” some type of commercial product. The blog is good enough for me.

Others my age have told me much of the same. The problem for them was they used their long form birth certificate names. Dumb da dumb dumb. People they know and have not seen for decades but don’t want any type of contact with manage to find them and bug the crap out of them.

What most users fail to realize is that Farcebook gleans tons of personal data about individuals and their habits and creates personal profiles of them. That data is then sold by Farcebook to marketing firms, consulting firms and the government.

That’s why Schmuckerburg is an insanely wealthy young guy. He gathers and sells personal information. He is also a good chum of President Zero. That’s all I need to know.

I also refuse to save a few cents by signing up for and using those saver club cards at the local grocery or any retailer for that matter. It’s one reason I use my only credit card sparingly. Information is power. Big marketers want that power. I know this from working in marketing for decades.

I know, I know, there is no way to keep all my information personal. At least I don’t have to just give it away.

Sell my soul to the devil? Give it away for free? None for me thanks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Crappy Beer Makes News

Dan’s and Carl’s Crappy Beer Challenge is fun reading. Dan actually placed at risk the only liver God gave him to test, taste and rank the best and worst of the worst beer.

While I appreciate a tasty import and the many fine craft brews available (including my own homebrew) there seems to be a welcome place for crappy beer in modern urban society.

Look no further than the “urban hipsters” to find newly dedicated crappy beer devotees. But there is a limit to their devotion according to this article.

"I like PBR because it doesn't taste like beer," said Brenna Ehrlich, 26, co-author of the blog "Stuff Hipsters Hate" and book by the same name. "It tastes like water. Dirty water."

Just because of my inquisitiveness, reading her blog was similar to slowing down to see an auto wreck in the opposite lanes on an interstate.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Check This Out – Hot Brass Magazine

Months ago an LITGM reader sent me a personal email. Her name is Lenee.

She read this entry where I wrote about my son Andy’s urge to buy his first handgun. It seemed to get her attention.

Lenee asked if she could republish the piece in a new firearms publication called ‘Hot Brass’, the official publication of The Gun Club of America. How she found our little blog, I have no idea.

I wrote back and gave her permission on two conditions, my last name could not be published and the LITGM blog was to get some mention. I did not request any compensation.

Today Lenee sent me a .pdf copy of the first issue of ‘Hot Brass’ with a reprint of my blog entry complete with images. She even gave some attention to Gunstock, our annual gathering of second amendment devotees.

I cobbled the single page .pdf files into book/spread form. You should be able to click on the images below to read.

Here at LITGM we do not write or publish for money or attention. We do not take ourselves too seriously. It’s simply a creative release and a fun way to kill some time.

Thanks Lenee. All the best to you and may your Hot Brass publication and Gun Club of America become a big success.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's Time

Yep, she's officially up for sale today.

A flyer will be posted at local stores and a craigslist ad will be placed.

My roadster convertible gives me enough thrills so it's time for the Harley to go. I just don't ride it as much anymore. But I did have it up to 110 mph and folded the mirrors a few times. This thing will scoot faster than any Road King, Fat Boy or FXD factory model. They have gotten a snoot-full of my fumes on many occasions.

All those poker runs we did were a blast but drinking and fast bikes is no way to go through life, son.

Plates, insurance and maintenance is not worth it. Selling it will also create more space in the garage.

With the price of gasoline so high, if I do not get my asking price or there is a lack of interest I'll keep her just for running around town on errands.

We'll see, who knows?

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Best Buggy Whip Around

I read a post by Trooper York a few days ago and it resonated with me.

A little background.

Trooper York is a frequent (funny as hell) commenter at Ann Althouse's blog, which I read about every day. Trooper came here and dropped a few comments a few weeks back when Gerry had some fun with Althouse and her husband's coverage of the protests here in Madison - Althouse was a good sport with it and linked us from her place.

Ann Althouse is guest blogging at Instapundit, probably one of the blogging kings measured by pure hit count. She linked Trooper York's post from there and he got some traffic that day, like we got when Althouse linked us.

Does the above make any sense to you? No? That means that you are not one of the .000001% of people that actually follow blogs, their authors and the protocol. Because blogs are basically the best buggy whip around, compared to toooter and faceblink.

Here is what Trooper York had to say in his post:
When I mention blogs to most people they have no idea what I am talking about. Even big time blogs like Instapundit or Althouse or Ace of Spades are not on their radar. They have no idea what I am talking about. When we went to the Thai restaurant last night I was talking about it to all the people there and not one of them had ever heard of Instapundit let alone my little pop stand. I think people take themselves and their opinions way too seriously.

This, my friends, is abasolutely true.

About once a week I get an email from someone who wants to "go into business" with LITGM. I typically forward these to Carl for a good chuckle. Always offers of linking, back linking, and more link whoring and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - which is a fancy way of trying to get Google to pimp you more. It is all complete and utter bullshit.

I have theorized that if I wanted to start writing about crap like current events and spent 100% of my time link whoring and working SEO that I could scrape out somewhere between $40k and $60k per year sitting at my computer terminal with LITGM. But I don't want to sell my soul.

In the end, all of us bloggers and most blogs for that matter are pretty unimportant. It is all done for enjoyment, friendship, and to perhaps give something back to the internet that is worthwile. I predict the medium won't even be supported on the software end within a decade or so. So we will have fun while we can.

And all the pompous asses that think they are really hot shit because of their blog should go to a mall sometime and ask people wandering by what they think of their blog. ZERO of them will know what it is.

Monday Morning Blues

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mothers Day

Goodnight Sal Marquez, wherever you are.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Mars Cheese Castle

This weekend I went north to Wisconsin to visit the Milwaukee Art Museum. As I filled up the car with gas I was astonished by the high price of gasoline; Chicago is up at the top in terms of highest cost / gallon in the US. At least we have that going for us...

But on the way is the Mars Cheese Castle! For some reason I am a sucker for the marketing of this tourist trap; it isn't enough to be a Castle - it has to be some sort of a "space" castle as you can see in the logo.

The Mars Cheese Castle has been totally rebuilt in 2011 in true castle style, with pennants and the main entrance in the appearance of a moat. Good for them! The old location didn't have even a fraction as much "castle".

In addition to selling beer, cheese, sausage and trinkets they had a variety of t shirts. I thought of Dan living in the tundra of Madison when I spied this shirt. At least they have a sense of humor about it.

This shirt is TRUE - while people here in Chicago drink themselves into a stupor to a degree that astonishes most out-of-towners (check out St. Patrick's Day or a Cubs bleachers denizen anytime) Wisconsin still out-drinks us by a wide margin. Every town has an incredible variety of bars and drinking seems to be mandatory.

I bought this (as a gift) at the Cheese Castle; it is cashew brittle and it tastes great. It may be the most unhealthy thing ever. I don't know of anything that comes close to it in terms of calories; 76 calories a serving and 24 servings in a tiny little box is astonishing.

REM Remix of Life's Rich Pageant

The first time I had heard of REM was when I was a freshman in college. That was the fall of 1986 and Life's Rich Pageant has just come out. I was literally blown away. Every single song on that album - and I do mean album - was fantastic. How had I not heard of these guys?

I remember having my record player (yes I am old) set up in my dorm room - I played this record until it started to get screwed up and I had to buy another copy. I think I might have the vinyl in my basement.

I specifically remember planning a night where I bought a bunch of beer and had a few friends over and the whole goal was to listen to the album ten times in a row. College.

I think I saw them twice or three times when I was at school.

I am hearing now that they will be remastering Life's Rich Pageant.

This is a tough sell for me. I still remember pretty much every note of this album and I am not sure I want it to change. Life's Rich Pageant completely changed the way I thought about and listened to music, and I bet that album affected scads of other people my age in the same way. I will probably listen to the remix, but I don't think it will give me the same feeling it did 25 years ago.

Of course after hearing Life's Rich Pageant, I had to get the rest of the REM recordings, which were also awesome. Those first four albums of REM are probably my favorite block of music put out by anyone, anywhere.

Then REM sucked. Out loud. Document was a pretty good album, but you could see the writing on the wall. Then Losing My Religion, Shiny Happy People and all that bullshit. It wasn't REM to me anymore. To me it will always be about the old stuff. I hope they do a good job remixing Life's Rich Pageant, but I don't think it will measure up to the old vinyl. Just hard to tinker with perfection.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Got Me Some Whatchamacallzits

Last Sunday I phoned my cousin-in-law to get a southwestern lower Michigan fishing report. He was at his cabin.

“Too chilly and windy”, he said. “Nobody has been out on the water, but we did go out in the woods this morning and found about three dozen whatchamacallzits (his term for morel mushrooms)”.

If I wasn’t in the middle of yard work a quick trip to the lake would have been in order. He called back later in the day and told me he had found a few dozen more.

Yesterday he called to ask me if freezing them was ok since he ended up with so many. No, I told him. The best way to preserve your whatchamacallzits is to dehydrate them and store them in vacu-seal bags. He then told me if I wanted to drive out to his main residence in Hobart IN he would give me a bag since he had too many and they would spoil. He didn’t feel like dehydrating them so this morning I went on a short morel mushroom rescue mission.

It’s been a while since I have eaten fresh morels. They are outstanding when sautéed with some sliced carmelized leek in a ton of butter and used as a topping for a yummy steak. This is serious eats, folks. It’s a real seasonal treat. While I never, ever top a steak with anything else but butter, morels are the exception.

Morels are in season during mid-spring for only a few weeks or so. A rainy period really brings them out. He told me this is the best year in memory for the delectable and rare fungi due to an unusually wet early spring.

Finding them isn’t easy. They grow in the dense woods and prefer to be near decaying trees. Last year’s leftover leaves conceal them well in the mass of monochromatic decay. As new vegetation sprouts it tends to cover them up further.

Morel hunters equip themselves with a long stout, straight stick, an old mesh onion bag, sharp knife and rubber boots. It is said that placing them in the mesh bag helps drop the spores along your path making the picker some sort of Johnny Morelseed helping to spread a bounty for the following year.

Morels are quite safe to eat since they look like no other mushroom. Holding the plastic bag of fresh morels up to my nose gave off an aroma that reminds me of a rich red wine. Other than using the term ‘nutty’, the flavor is indescribable.

If one is lucky enough to find anyone selling them at retail they go for well over $20 per pound dehydrated. This is the only way restaurants can get them because morels cannot be cultivated.

On my way back west to the bunker, in front of Johnson’s farm stand on route 6 near Portage I saw a sign that said: WOOHOO ASPARAGUS! Quickly turning in I found beautiful green shoots of fresh local grown asparagus, the first picking of the season. I asked the lady if the pile I was picking from was the woohoo asparagus or the usual garden variety (snark). She didn't get the joke.

Next stop would be the Valpo Beef Mart where I would pick up some thick beef strip steaks.

When I picked up the morels he had already soaked them so there was no need for me to do so, but I did anyway. If you pick some fresh morels the first task is to soak them in a mild brine for an hour up to overnight. This will draw out any insects or creepy critters hiding in the nooks and crannies (there almost always are). Another tip is to rinse them well afterward to remove the ever present earthen grit.

While eating sautéed morels in butter is safe eating them raw is not. This is not potentially fatal but it will give you a serious tummy ache. Breading and frying them is a waste, this makes them lose their delicate flavor and makes them taste as pedestrian as those fried button mushrooms they serve in bars. Do not waste morels by frying them.

Grilled steaks smothered in fresh morel and leek sauce, fresh steamed asparagus and mashed potatoes with leeks? This is nothing short of the very best the Midwest can offer.

Here’s a recipe I have used in the past, it’s a no fail way to prepare a perfect steak & morel dinner.

Springtime Steak & Morel Dinner

- Beef filets, strip steaks, porterhouse or venison chops.
- One leek the size of a Louisville slugger.
- Morel mushrooms
- Potatoes
- Half & Half or cream
- Fresh local asparagus

Bring your choice of meat to room temperature and coat with vegetable oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper.

Boil potatoes with peel on in pot and mash when cooked through.

In one pan, carmelize chopped leaks in butter. Adding a pinch of sugar helps.

Slice morels lengthwise (smaller ones in half) and sauté with butter in another pan.

Add half the leeks into pan with sautéed morels and the other half to the potatoes.

Steam asparagus until bright green, do not overcook.

Add desired amount of half & half into pot with mashed potatoes, leeks, and mix well. OK to add garlic powder if you wish.

Grill steaks (charcoal grill is best) to desired doneness. I recommend an instant read thermometer to check steaks, when it hits 140 degrees remove steaks from grill.

Fix your plate by topping steak with copious amounts of the morel/leek/butter sauce.

Add asparagus, mashed potatoes and top them with more butter.

As always, timing this all to come together at once is a challenge.

Good luck, and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Illinois Governor Quinn Denies Realities on Guns

Recently I saw this ad at a Chicago train subway line and of course the answer is... yes. Unfortunately Illinois governor Quinn, who barely won the Democratic primary and barely won the general election, views his mandate as unstoppable and refuses to recognize this reality.

In this article from the Chicago Tribune, Quinn says he will oppose concealed carry, making Illinois 1 of only 2 states that have no form of this in the United States.

"The concept of concealed, loaded hand guns in the possession of private citizens does not enhance public safety, on the contrary it increases danger for everyday people as they go about their lives," Quinn said.

It is immensely frustrating that a governor whose largest city leads in the nation in absolute number of murders (even though we are third in population) can't see that strict gun laws do nothing to deter criminals.

The state of Indiana, right next door to Chicago, in fact part of the metropolitan area, has a very flexible concealed carry law and they don't see that public safety is diminished.

It is hopeful that the downstate Democrats that support responsible firearms laws (by responsible meaning allowing responsible citizens to have firearms, rather than just criminals) will join with Republicans in passing this law. Quinn has proved to be a doctrinaire "classic" liberal Democrat, banning death row (I guess he would have rather had Gacy live out his life on the public's dime the same way Speck did), raising taxes 67% and siding with unions at every turn. Literally I cannot think of a single thing that Quinn has done that hasn't been straight out of the most liberal playbook, even though Illinois is a moderate state.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Never Heard Of Him

Back in the mid 90’s a co-worker informed me that I resembled an author of some books he had read. He handed me a book called Rogue Warrior.

As I glanced at the photos in the book there was this guy who resembled me somewhat, but so did many other men with beards and long hair. It wasn't the first time someone told me I looked like someone they knew.

So I read the book. It was one of those can’t-put-it-down books.

When I was returned the book Allan handed me a second book called Red Cell, by the same author. It was a good read as well.

Both were non-fiction books detailing the exploits of Richard Marcinko, one of the original Navy Seals in his own words. Demo Dick, he referred to himself. While we shared kind of a resemblance, the only thing Dick and I have in common is our fondness for Bombay Gin and Glocks and the HK MP5. Marcinko describes his experiences within and outside of the battle zone in graphic detail and in a very entertaining way. Yes, truth is much better than fiction.

Here’s Dick at the Shot Show engraving a machete patterned after one he took off of a dead V.C..

Having shrugged off the resemblance thing, on occasion, while working downtown, individual strangers would approach me and tell me I resembled this guy. It happened to me at least half a dozen times. Twice I was asked if my name was Marcinko. I should have been flattered but was in a hurry and too surprised to make any small talk with strangers so my reply was, "never heard of him" just to end the conversation.

I once wrote Dick an email after having found his address on his website and told him of my experiences.

Dick wrote back to me. His response was a simple “You poor bastard, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone”.

Since I shaved off my hair any confusion has ended.

I was reminded of Dick on Monday morning when word came out that Seal Team 6 was credited with killing OBL. Congratulations on a job well done by America's best of the best.

Dick initiated and trained the original Seal Team 6 after serving a few tours in Vietnam.

Read these books. It's the next best thing to being there, they’re very, very good.

That is That

Well, we finally got him and I am glad. I have seen a lot of navel gazing lately and people telling me we shouldn't celebrate too loudly, they will retaliate, etc.

I am not exactly taking to the streets and waving a flag like some, but I am pretty damned happy that we got him. Mockery and celebration are definitely called for.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Spring In Chicago

We finally had a nice sunny weekend day and it seemed like everyone was outside enjoying the weather, even though periodically a wicked wind would blow through. The flowers are out and straining for the rare sunshine peering through the clouds.

Our garden is from seeds and they are grown indoors until it is finally warm enough to put them outside. Looking forward to getting them out on the balcony!

Smart Marketing

Like most of the stores I shop at when I check out I use the key fob (or if I forget it usually is encoded based on my phone number) with my store ID in order to get a discount. The one that comes in most handy is Binny's (sadly enough). Recently I received a package which must have been based on my purchases at Jewel - it was a packet of "gourmet" instant coffee. I assume that this is based on the fact that I purchase the Starbucks "Via" instant coffee and they checked my sales records and figured that if I tried their product (which they sent to me for free) then maybe I'd switch to it, especially since it is far cheaper than the Starbucks instant coffee.

Generally I get coupons to try new products attached to the 10 foot long receipt that they give you when you check out but since that is never around the next time I am shopping for groceries this is probably a smarter approach.

A Rough Start

It is a bad start to your wedding day when the trolley that is carrying your bridesmaids needs a jump start.

Don’t Look Now But Ricketts Just Blinked

Far be it for me, a dedicated White Sox fan, to throw mud at the Cubs while we are in the midst of our own chronic suckitude. But I will anyway. Tee-hee.

Things aren’t going too well at the friendly confines these days. I don’t mean the play on the field, that’s to be expected. I mean a lack of butts in the seats.

Empty seats at Wrigley are unheard of.

For weeks I have seen ChiTrib and Chicago Slum-Times articles noting that there is a lot of green in Wrigley during games and they don’t mean that eco-friendly nonsense guilt.

This one caught my eye Friday.

A new promotion offers $3 beers and $1 dogs for anyone sitting in the Wrigley outfield bleachers. Is Seven-Eleven behind this promotion? Not quite.

Pigeons in the seats and seagulls in the air.

My gut tells me that most seats are paid for but the fans are sending a message.

Can it be? We’ll see if this keeps up.