Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eleven and a Half Hours

December 23, 2008 will go down as a day of infamy for the Nasty family.

That's the day we drove west to Indianapolis to stay the night before we flew to Florida. We gassed up at Casey's on the east part of town and left the parking lot at 11:45 am. Eleven and a half hours later we finally arrived at the Hyatt Place near the airport.

It was the ice storm. A damn ice storm. 

When we left Chucktown, freezing rain was coming down, but it wasn't too bad. But as we drove farther, it got horrible. 

On I-70 we went slow, with me driving in the range of 25 to 40 mph depending on the nature of the road. It was slick in many spots, and it was apparent that the salt trucks hadn't been out much, if at all.

As we ventured into Indiana, Mrs. Nasty called her work friend who has connections with the tv station based in Terre Haute. Her friend relayed that she had been told that part of I-70 had been shut down because the interstate was so icy that the big rigs could get up the hills. So the friend suggested that we take Indiana highway 40 East and then cross over to I-70 at Plainfield. 

Terre Haute's roads weren't too bad, but past Brazil, IN it got really messy with frequent stops as cars and semis went up hills in packs. Some couldn't make it up the hills, and cars dotted the ditches. 

After we passed over a number of gauntlets of ice-slicked hills, we stopped for good at the top of a hill right next to the Putnamville Correctional Facility. We sat there for a good two hours. Most of us just sat, but some cars crept up and u-turned. After we got confirmation that I-70 was "open," we turned around also, ventured back to Brazil, grabbed some grub, and headed south to I-70.

But is was deja vu all over again. We went for maybe a mile until we hit gridlock. We sat on I-70 for two and a half hours. And then the our icy journey went forward in spurts and pervasive tension.  

When we finally got past the Cloverdale exit, things opened up. I-70 East was like much easier sledding with less traffic. But as we drove though, I noticed that I-70 West was packed, bumper-to-bumper, from Cloverdale exit to I-465, which is 32 miles. 

It was the worst driving experience of my life: constant stress and tension as I drove a car that I seemed to control, but occasionally it slipped and slid depending on the road as I had to worry about those in front of me and back of me. I've never seen so many semi-trucks in one day.  

Monday, December 22, 2008

Music Friday (Tuesday): "It's a Wonderful Life (Gonna Have a Good Time)"

PlannedOb's usual Music Friday post will be early since this week since the Nasty family is heading down to Florida. My Mac will stay behind. 

But click HERE for a classic song by Fishbone, one of the best "alternative" bands in the 80s and early 90s. The Reality of My Surroundings and Truth and Soul are two excellent albums when Fishbone was at its musical apogee.

This video, however, comes from their earlier days if I remember correctly. 

Happy Yule season, folks.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Ancient Origins of the Holiday Season

For all the nitwits who decry "the war on Christmas," the first two pages of this concise description of the development of Christmas should be instructive.

The early Christians simply capitalized on the time of the year for Yule time (the Norse) and Saturnalia (the Romans). 

Click HERE for holiday reading.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Music Friday: "Wonderwall"

Click HERE for a song that in a couple of decades will get heavy rotation on "classic rock" stations.

Brought to you by Oasis...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Porcine Goodness

The cuisine of the deep South is known for fried food. You got okra, chicken, and the ubiquitous chicken-fried steak. Those people will fry almost anything. Heck, even ribs and candy bars.

But one item you don't see in most parts of the country is the pork tenderloin sandwich. That delicacy is especially a favorite of my home state, the great state of Iowa, and other parts of the Midwest. 

This afternoon I did myself a favor and ordered a pork tenderloin sandwich from McHugh's, a fast food joint whose slogan is "Famous in Coles County, not the World." A smattering of pickles atop the patty coupled with adequate amount of yellow mustard on the bun is an accompaniment that befits this noble sandwich.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Justice After Bush"

In December issue of Harper's offers a detailed proposal about the possible methods by which the Bush administration can be investigated for its torture policy. A bipartisan commission similar to the 9/11 Commission seems to be the prudent move.

The article is from Scott Horton, and by clicking HERE you can read it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Life without College Football & Man in the Box

Well, I was going through withdrawal last Saturday, so I watched part of the DII Championship game and part of the DIAA Semifinal (Richmond vs. UNI). Imagine that, college football with a playoff system.

Since college football is one of the wonderful diversions of my life, the dead time between the regular season and bowl games is painful. But I seem to be more efficient at work. And, boy, when spring semester hits, I'm a working machine. 

As I was fooling around on YouTube the other day, I discovered a YouTube series that's a lowbrow, often ribald, and sometimes sketchy version of Office Space. The series is titled Man in the Box.

Click HERE to watch the "Star Wars vs. Sports" episode.

One of my favorite characters is Terry, who is featured in this episode

May the force be with you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Music Friday: "Rusty Cage"

Click HERE for the best band to ever come out of Seattle. Pearl Jam is a close second though.

This clip is circa 1992, possibly the apex of the grunge movement. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I find it amazing that Blagojevich is so stupid that he makes it known on phones that he was selling the US Senate for the highest bidder. He's either really stupid or really arrogant. Or both.

Click HERE for a link to a concise rundown of some of his statements in the affidavit via "The Fix." 

If he doesn't resign, impeachment proceedings will begin pretty soon. If there's one thing that most Democrats and Republicans agree on in Illinois, it's that they detest the Pay-for-Play-In-Chief.

Unfortunately, my bid of $5 didn't make any headway. I'll still be a professor.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sweet Gum Balls

If any of you have had the displeasure of stepping on one of these balls with your bare foot, you see this image, and it brings up painful memories. 

But in the current Outdoor Illinois, which is the magazine of the Illinois Department of Conservation, a writer talks about how people can use sweet gum balls as natural packing materials when shipping packages around the holidays. You just should microwave them.

That's right. As Joe McFarland, the author of "Send them Packing," relates, "The use of plant materials for shipping filler isn't new, and there's a long and notorious history of disastrously invasive species outbreaks linked to such practices" (17). He states that "while the sweet gum tree isn't known to pose an invasive species risk in North America, zapping the gum balls for about 90 seconds in the microwave before piling them into a box effectively kills the tiny seeds" (17). 

I have a very tall sweet gum tree in my front yard, so if you ever get a package from me expect some balls, baby. 

Of course, the best solution to the regular mass of sweet gum balls that one tree produces is one of the favorite tools in my shed out back: The Nut Wizard. One of the readers of this blog turned me on to that great tool. If you have a sweet gum tree, the Nut Wizard is a great purchase. And, hey, it's a tool made in America.

And, as McFarland recommends, you can also share the wealth.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Hangover: SEC Championship

Well, that was a disappointing game.

The offense never seemed to get in a rhythm, and Florida had short fields to work with most of the day. In addition, there was a marked contrast between the Tide's rushing game when Coffee ran the ball and when Ingram rushed.

Regardless, I'm confident that Saban and the Tide will back in Atlanta for the SEC Championship soon. It may not happen next year because of the loss of Caldwell and Smith from the OLine along with a green QB to break in (Greg McElroy or Star Jackson), but we'll see.

The Tide is number 4 in the AP and will probably take on the Utes down in New Orleans.

Here would be the match-ups for an 8 team playoff using the final BCS standings:
1. OU vs. 8. Penn State
2. Florida vs. 7. Texas Tech
3. Texas vs. 6. Utah
4. Alabama vs. 5. USC 

Friday, December 5, 2008

What Made Milwaukee Famous

I've forgotten to mention this, but when I was home for Thanksgiving I had the pleasure of coming across the authentic recipe of Schlitz. Waterloo is one of the markets for the new brewers of Schlitz who are using the old formula.

And there are changes. 

The six pack I bought was $5.99. Back in Kirksville during the college days, I bought twelve packs for that same price.

But the brew is better. A number of us "discovered" Schlitz in Des Moines on weak-ass pledge skip, and that Schlitz recipe had a somewhat astringent hoppy aftertaste, a taste I got used to.

The new recipe, however, is more balanced. It's a heavier lager without the twang but with appropriate hoppiness. 

I wish we could get it here in Chucktown.

The Rise of Southern Football

Click HERE for an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about the sociopolitical influences in regard to Southerners and their love and use of college football.

Tuberville to State?

As is reported HERE, there are rumors that Mississippi State is interested in hiring Tommy Tuberville.

I find that very interesting since Tubs left Ole Miss after denying that he met with Auburn officials at an Atlanta hotel a decade ago. The fan base of the Rebels still haven't forgiven for jumping to Auburn, so it would make sense if "Wingnut" (called that because of his large ears) heads to Starkville. Tuberville going to the in-state rival of Ole Miss would make the Ole Miss fans hate him even more, which is hard to do. 

And State hiring Tuberville would be a good hire for them. As much as I hate to admit it, he's a very good coach.

Music Friday: "Home in the Woods"

One of the grad students I work with told me about this band from Appleton, WI. They started out as "The Wandering Sons," and now they're "Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons."

Regardless, they've only done two EPs, and they might have an album out soon.

Good stuff, people.

Click HERE for "Home in the Woods." 

Have a good weekend.