January 2009 Archives

Back to normal...somewhat.


Well, it would appear as though the worst of the ice storm is behind us. Power has been rather consistent, and people are moving around with a bit more ease than they were over the past few days.

The roads are still quite horrible - the traffic has created very deep "paths" on the roads, so much so that the "nose" of my car scrapes along the snow/ice ridge that's formed between the tire tracks.

Here are a few pictures of the ice on trees - there are a ton of downed trees as a result of the storm. One person here at work described his yard as looking like "a nest." I thought that was a perfect description.



Hopefully it'll start to warm up and melt some of this mess (which will create more of a mess, but at least it won't be a slippery mess). :-)

Ice Ice Baby


Looks like I returned from Wisconsin just in time to run head-on with what the experts are calling the worst snow/ice storm in Arkansas' history. It's supposed to be even worse than the storms they had in 2000 and 1978.

It started raining Monday at around 1:00pm, and from there, the air turned cold, which created a nice freezing rain. By about 3:30pm, we were sitting at work watching people slip, slide, and fall as they made their way out to their vehicles. I left at around 5:00pm, and my car was nothing but a huge sheet of ice. The roads were still warm enough that they weren't terribly slick, but you could tell that things were only going to get worse.

I woke up on Tuesday to find ice everywhere, and, it was still raining/sleeting - only harder than it was on Monday. I gingerly made my way to work - the rain was changing to snow, and trees were starting to succumb under the weight of the ice. I got to work, only to discover we were out of power, so I turned around and ran a few errands - I had to stop by the post office... here's what the roads looked like:



I made it around town without too many issues, but since Arkansas isn't prepared for this type of weather, things were a bit hairy at times. The worst part was watching the countless idiots in their four-wheel drive vehicles go roaring past, thinking they're invincible, and then watching them panic when they tried to stop for a light or another vehicle... hey geniuses - 4WD doesn't help with stopping, and the bald tires on your Tahoe or Escalade aren't doing you any favors.

The rain turned to snow late last night; the roads benefited from the snowfall - it helps provide a little traction compared to the huge sheet of ice that's coating everything. I'm sure the snow doesn't help with the trees and power lines... On my drive to the office today, I drove over several downed power lines and saw more collapsed trees than I could count!

Perhaps craziest of all, it's supposed to be in the high 50's by Saturday, so I'm guessing/hoping the snow and ice won't last for too much longer.



Wisconsin: Day 2


Today was a rather lazy day - not much happened, but I'll try to make it seem as interesting and exciting as possible. :-)

I woke-up and took a peek at the lake - yep, still frozen, and yep, still a bunch of people driving around on it and fishing on it...


My mom decided to have everyone over for lunch, and her plan was to make a prime rib. The prime rib had spent some time in the deep freezer, but she took it out earlier in the week and figured it would be good to go for today's lunch. I was tasked with preparing it and getting it into the oven for lunch.

After some quick math, I figured it would need about 2.5 hours in the oven (500F for 20 minutes to sear, then about 2 hours to cook at 325F), plus another 30 minutes of rest time. Experience has taught me that meat is best cooked when at (or close to) room temperature - it cooks more evenly, and there are generally fewer "surprises" to deal with. So, I took the prime rib out of the refrigerator at 9:00 so that it could warm up a bit prior to going into the 'ole hot box.

I seasoned it and inserted the temperature probe. Hmm - that's odd - the temperature probe seemed really difficult to insert, and the temperature read "Lo". Houston, we have a problem: the roast was still frozen in the middle...


So, we punted. We ordered some Culver's!! I enjoyed a cheeseburger and some of their limited edition spicy chipolte cheese curds. The curds weren't as good as I had hoped they would be, but the burger was as tasty as ever. We even ate it on fancy plates... :-)


The afternoon was spent hanging around the house with the family - grandma made it over for a visit, and we spent a fair amount of time sitting in the living room chit-chatting. At about 3:30 or so, my brother and his fiancee had to leave, so I decided to head back to my hometown and say hello to my good friend Dan and his family.

Dan and I have known each other since the first grade, and I always enjoy seeing him (and Tara and their kids). There are always a ton of laughs when you're with Dan - he can tell a story like no one else, and he usually has tons of great stories to share. Today was no different, although we enjoyed a few New Glarus brews...


Dan introduced me to a new offering from the New Glarus Brewing Company - it's called "Alt" and it was pretty good. Here's a picture of the limited edition Alt; no point of it, other than I liked how the photo turned out:


We sat around the kitchen, sharing stories (old and new) and generally having a good time. Tara broke out their new laptop, a nice 17" Dell widescreen, and we started checking out Failblog, LOLCats, LOLDogs, and Totally Looks Like. We also checked out their blog - have a peek and catch-up with the Topels. Here are some pictures of us at the computer:




Even the kids enjoyed the sites:


Tara, being the great hostess, broke out some cheese curds (not fried like the Culver's ones), and they were quite tasty. I believe they said these were "cajun curds"; the seasoning was good - not too bold, but just about perfect.


It was near dinner time, and they had some blue gilled fish that Dan had caught earlier in the week. I tried a few pieces and it was absolutely delicious. I really miss "normal" fish... in Arkansas, you're stuck eating catfish. Good 'ole lake fish like walleye, blue gill, bullheads, cod and perch is where it's at for me. Catfish is ok every once in a while, but it quickly gets old. Here's Dan's dinner (that's a potato pancake in the background):


Time quickly passed and I had to be on my way. I bid farewell to everyone (including their dog, Brady):


Temperature-wise, it was a regular heatwave today... hit almost 10F! Currently it's 1F.


Home for the Weekend


Greetings from Wisconsin, where the temperature is currently a balmy six (6) degrees:


Six degrees actually feels warm, compared to what it was earlier this morning. I made a connection at the Minneapolis airport where it was -11F without the windchill. That made for a chilly time while waiting for my carry-on luggage to arrive at the jet-bridge.


The flights were excellent - no delays, and we arrived early at both stops, so that was a pleasant change. It was also pleasant to not have any sleaze-bags on either flight. Here are a few shots from the plane as we passed over Madison. Here you can see the isthmus - Lake Mendota on one side, Lake Monona on the other (the lakes are frozen and snow covered):


Here's a shot of the capitol building:


Upon landing, I picked-up my rental car, which was c-c-c-c-c-c-c-collllld. It's not a bad rental - Ford Fusion, and thankfully, it warmed-up quickly. From the airport, I headed straight for a Madison favorite - the Greenbush Bakery.


The Greenbush is legendary for its great donuts, cheap prices, and for being open "after bar time." The place has the world's oddest hours - they're open from 2:00am until around noon. I was just able to sneak in and grab a donut - and it was delicious.


After scarfing down that tasty treat, I took the isthmus over to "the beltline" (a bypass), where I headed over to The Endurance House.

While there, I bought a nice thermal shirt and a pair of Saucony shoes. The Endurance House has a foot-strike analysis program and it's really quite interesting. I had taken advantage of a similar program from some folks down in Fayetteville, but wasn't happy with the shoe they recommended. The Saucony's from Endurance House seem like winners - as soon as I tried them on, they felt "right." A quick 5-minute stint on the treadmill proved it - they're comfy. I tried on several shoes - Brooks, Pearl Izumi, Zoot, New Balance, Mitzuno; the Saucony's felt best. I'll retire my current kicks, which have about 800 miles on them. That's hard to believe!

From The Endurance House, I made my way over to one of my favorite watering holes, The Capital Brewery.


I've been to the Capital Brewery several times before, but am always happy to stop in whenever I'm "in the neighborhood." The brewery had just opened for the afternoon, and there were about 40 people waiting to take a tour. Having experienced the tour myself, I decided to forego the tour and enjoy a Winter Skal.


From the brewery, I took a stroll past some ice fishermen - these guys are crazy to be sitting on a frozen lake... fishing...


And, since I was feeling nostalgic, I decided to cruise past my old apartment. I spent 3 years in this apartment, and really enjoyed it. The structure was built in 1931, and was designed from the start to be an apartment building. There are four units - two bottom units and two upstairs units. There's a full basement with laundry and storage, and four garages in the back. Inside, my apartment featured 10-foot ceilings, beautiful hardwood floors (original), crown molding (original), plaster walls, and the world's greatest shower. I miss that shower more than anything... (notice there's an apartment available for rent!)


I left Madison and headed north to my folks'. I never realized how different the farms are in Wisconsin - they have silos, and red barns, and are generally in much better condition than the chicken/beef farms that litter Arkansas... case in point:


And that brings me to now... I'm sitting at my parent's house, watching the Golf Channel in HD and listening to my sister's kid make a bunch of noise (he's 6 months old or something like that). There's talk of having lasagna for dinner tonight... I'll have to wait for Culver's until tomorrow.

More to follow...


Update: 8:45pm

After watching National Treasure 2, we made the obligatory Culver's run for some ice cream. I ordered a small concrete with Andes mint and brownie pieces. After a quick scan of the nutrition guide, I learned that this combination was good for 1,183 calories... and then they goofed-up and brought me a medium instead of a small... so, I ate about 5-6 spoonfuls and gave the rest to my mom. :-) Sorry about that, mom.

I'm so full, but oh so happy.


The diet can resume on Monday, I suppose. Oh, and it's now -4F with a windchill of -15F.

As if flying wasn't bad enough.


I had to take a flight last week, and had the pleasure of making a connection at one of my favorite airports, Chicago O'Hare (incase the sarcasm didn't come across, I hate O'Hare). While waiting for my connecting flight, I couldn't help but notice an older couple who were busy making a huge scene.

I'll attempt to describe them, but trust me, the description will do no justice to their actual appearance and behavior. The guy looked like a typical sleaze bag, only even more sleazy. He had to be about 47 or 48, stood about 5'9, had a bit of a gut (but no shame), had far too much fake tanner on (he looked orange), and sported some super bleached-blonde hair that peeked out from under a "Hooters - Dallas" baseball cap.

He was dressed in a tight black mock shirt that was covered by a bright tan sport coat. He had on some Levi's blue jeans that were 3 sizes too small, and just in case there was any doubt as to his level of sleaze, he had on dress loafers with no socks. UGH! He'd take off his baseball cap every so often, and it revealed a nice big bald spot...

His significant other was about the same height and similar build, although she was sporting some "enhancements" - I'm guessing she had at least $30k of plastic surgery - you can only guess where; but her lips looked like they were smuggling bicycle inner tubes. Fried hair, dressed all in black (and sporting a black "Juicy" sweatsuit that was anything but), and carrying the ultimate "poseur bag" - an obviously fake Louie Vitton (you can sort of see it in the photo below).

They were standing in the middle of our gate area making out and groping each other as if there was no one else around; nothing like watching two morons make out at 7:30am on a Wednesday... at an airport... in Chicago... Cheese and rice.

So we get on the plane, and guess who's sitting just in front of me? That's right - the super couple. I had a front row seat for their make-out session and all of their other antics. The "dude" ordered at least 6 Vodkas, and drank them straight - no juice, no soda, just the little Vodka bottles. The "chick" drank at least that many little bottles of wine... And every 20 minutes or so, they'd change seats, cover up with a blanket, and make out with each other. While I'm not excited about dying, I secretly wished for a catastrophic engine failure, just so we could spare the world of another day with those two oxygen theives... it would've been worth going down in a blaze of glory if it meant that they wouldn't possibly be able to (further) contaminate society.

Oh - almost forgot; the "dude" must have been a really important guy, because he refused to turn off his cell phone when the flight crew asked him to. He "had important business" that was "beyond their comprehension" and would "only take a minute" to resolve. I could see his iPhone's display -- he was chatting with someone named "B-Man." I'm sure the two of them were finalizing plans for a global economic recovery plan.

Why on earth do I get stuck witnessing every single annoying person and their antics? I swear I need a camera crew to follow me around and capture these experiences... I'm sure it would blow away any American Idol ratings if it ever aired on TV.

For proof of my experience with Mr. & Mrs. Sleaze, I snapped a photo... here you can clearly see his sockless loafer look.


Oh, and Happy New Year. Hope you're all doing well. Here's another great LOLcatz picture to get us back on the right foot for 2009. Enjoy!


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This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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