Saturday, May 31, 2008

Starbucking in Greece

For those of you still following Winter - the Starbucks boy... he is now traveling Europe and was recently recognized from his movie - this from his blog ..."Had a brief break when a young man stopped me and asked if I was the Starbucking person and asked for a photo. I had not been recognized from the movie in quite a while."

Battle for Omaha is Underway

Three of our most followed teams are into the post-season in college baseball. Arkansas is out in Palo Alto, CA. Georgia Tech is in hated Athens (though it has been a good place for them to play this year) and Nebraska is hosting its own regional in Lincoln.

After Day 1 our teams are 2-1 with Nebraska and Georgia Tech winning their first games. Trouble for Arkansas though as both they and #1 seed Stanford lost meaning the two will meet in an elimination game today.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Tornado of '73

Strange thing about this tornado that hit 35 years is one my oldest memories. We went out Saturday night to a dog 'n suds type place for a root beer float. I remember being very scared of the weather and saying there was going to be a tornado.

- - - - -

Twisters ripped city 35 years ago

By Curt Hodges

JONESBORO — It’s hard to forget something that has as much impact on individuals and on a community as did the two major tornadoes that struck Jonesboro more than 35 years ago.

The second of the two occurred 35 years ago today, May 27,1973.

It struck in the early-morning hours of that Sunday after an evening of watching and uncertainty.

I remember well the uncertainty of what to do. The wind picked up a lot as the Saturday evening went on, and after midnight my wife Mary Ann and I were torn between grabbing up our 2-year-old and going down to Central Baptist Church (when it was at Main and Cherry streets) and getting into the basement.

At that time we lived at 1405 Overhill, a few blocks north of major damage in the Brookhaven Addition. We received no damage.

As the wind picked up, lightning flashed, and it rained. The whistling of the wind and constant lightning made us wonder if we had made the right decision.

After a while everything calmed down. We could hear voices, and soon a knock came on our front door. It was Leo George, a friend who lived on Westwood, a couple of blocks away.

He said there had been a tornado, and houses were damaged.

Grabbed camera, notebook

I grabbed my camera, extra film and notebook, and we took off on foot. After a while I got my car, and Leo and I drove around most of the rest of the night taking photographs and talking to people.

Debris was everywhere. Power lines were down from Wood Springs Road to past Caraway Road and in-between. Businesses in the 1800 block of South Main had been destroyed, including two automobile dealerships, and the historic Jonesboro High School was in shambles with its roof blown off, but the majestic white columns of the red brick building still stood.

Trees were down everywhere, roofs gone, entire houses leveled all over southwest Jonesboro.

It was an almost unthinkable mess.

Mirable of miracles

But miracle of miracles, no one was killed by the storm in Jonesboro, although many were injured, some seriously. One man, Guy Cobb Sr., apparently died of a heart attack. He lived on College Street, across from Jonesboro High School, where scientists who visited the city said the storm’s power was the greatest.

Many millions of dollars in damage was done, and many people were homeless in the storm’s aftermath.

As the sun came up that Sunday morning, the extent of the damage was revealed.

It really was a mess. One that would take months to overcome.

The Wal-Mart Discount City on Caraway at Wilkins was unroofed, walls knocked down and merchandise scattered everywhere. Across Caraway Road, Donald Furniture was on the ground, along with many other businesses in the area.

After driving throughout the night, I determined that something with two wheels would be better. So I ventured down Wilkins to the home of John Troutt Jr., editor and publisher of the newspaper.

Looking for a motorcycle

His son Bob had a motorcycle, and I planned to borrow it. But when Mrs. Troutt came to the door, she informed me that Bob had driven his father to the newspaper office, which at that time was still on the northeast corner of East Washington Avenue and South Church Street.

So, I headed that way to turn in my film and start writing my stories for the Monday paper so we had plenty of time.

There was lots of work to do for the rest of Sunday and Monday morning as well.

Everyone worked, and no one looked at the clock.

For the next several weeks The Jonesboro Sun covered as much of the cleanup and rebuilding as was possible.

There were many stories, such as that of the infant who was literally blown with his crib into his back yard, landing beneath a partially overturned car and was sheltered there until he was found by a neighbor who heard his cries nearly an hour later. The baby, Bart Dickinson, son of Jerry and Jeanette Dickinson, 1714 Broadmoor, was unhurt except for a small cut on his hand.

Otwell hit hard

To the southwest, in Otwell, the small community was nearly wiped out. A man was killed, and his wife badly hurt. Another woman was killed, and her husband injured when their homes were destroyed by the same storm as it made its way to Jonesboro.

The storm left a path of destruction from near Tupelo in Jackson County, close to Weiner and Waldenburg in Poinsett County before overturning a freight train near Otwell as it made its way to Jonesboro. As the storm neared Jonesboro, its path widened and broke into what appeared to be two separate paths.

One of the two storms was what took out Jonesboro High School, causing students to be relocated to the Craighead County Fairgrounds until a new high school facility could be built.

Other schools including South and Hillcrest Elementary were heavily damaged by the storm.

As May was near the end of the term, the 1973 school year ended not only abruptly but early.

The May 15, 1968, tornado virtually wiped out the Nettleton schools campus as well as many residences in the area.

Readiness built up

The fact that so few died or were injured in the 1973 storm could be attributed to readiness that was built up and emphasized following the killer tornado that rolled though the city and county in 1968.

Several kinds of warning systems had been instituted, including a citywide warning broadcast over the cable television service in the city.

Later, a system of large warning sirens would be bought and installed.

The 1968 storm cut a path of destruction and death from Valley View to east of Jonesboro in the vicinity of the industrial park, crossing the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad where Industrial Drive crosses today.

The storm’s path came up and across U.S. 49 (Arkansas highway 39 then) in the former Valley View community, skipped across Quality Gladiolus Gardens, down a graveled country lane known as Parker Road, across the Fairview Subdivision, through the campus of Nettleton schools, raked across residential subdivisions and across the railroad and on toward the community of Needham.

That storm left much death and destruction in its path. A total of 34 died when the storm swept through the area. Around 300 were injured.

Today, when the storm clouds start rising, most people tune their radios to one of several stations that carry warnings and keep everyone informed. Some turn to KAIT or another television station to watch the radar. Still others log onto the NOAA or National Weather Service Web sites for up-to-the-minute conditions from across the nation.

When watches are issued, a group of storm watchers fan out around the area. They are volunteers who are trained to know what certain cloud formations mean. They help keep the Craighead County Emergency Center informed.

When a tornado is spotted, the warning sirens are sounded.

It’s a startling sound if you happen to live near one of the sirens. The sirens let you know that if you haven’t taken precautions, you need to be doing so quickly.

The potential for severe storms exists in this part of the country. Arkansas has already experienced a few such storms in which people were injured or killed, and lots of property damage occurred.

The strong storms can strike at almost any time of year, if conditions are right.

The thing to do is be aware, have a plan and if a storm warning is issued and you hear the sirens, take precautions, go to a safe place and wait until it is over.

A basement is a good place. If no basement is available, take cover inside a closet or bathroom in the center of the house or building. Inside the bathtub is a good place, and if possible a mattress or other heavy cover should be placed over you.

Wii Fit

Erin and I have been looking forward to the Wii Fit for a long time. We finally got one last week and have been trying it out during the long Memorial Day weekend. As you would expect from Nintendo developed hardware and software, the Wii Fit board, and Wii Fit the game are both excellent. The board is very durable, and its balancing capabilities work almost flawlessly. The game has a large variety of activities under four categories: yoga, balance training, aerobic, and strength training.

Wii Fit also gives a nice graphical chart of each user's weight and BMI data. The first time I got on the board, it called me "very overweight" and automatically ballooned my Mii character to look much fatter than I had created it. This, along with my daily weigh-in sessions on the board, have served as excellent motivation. So far I've lost around 7 pounds.

Here are our Mii characters in Wii fit.

This is the Wii Fit board.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Start 'em Young

With a long list of things to do this afternoon we were forced to get Jack involved. He obviously wanted to help as he cut his naps short to make sure he could get participate. Funny thing...he seemed to enjoy mowing the lawn as much or more than the standard play/roll/crawl time he gets.

It is hard on the back though!

Two Teeth From the Top

Sunday, May 25, 2008

White Trash...?

At our first Memorial Day BBQ of the week-end we met up with friends in El Dorado Hills. It was lightly raining but that didn't deter a neighbor from trying to hawk his wares in his driveway. Our host complained, however, this is the third week-end in a row of these losers garage sale - and the don't bring the shit inside during the week!

Anyone need a great deal on a Santa - I've got a good idea where I can pick one up next week-end!

The Top of The Crib

Jack discovered the top of his crib today and was quickly able to pull himself up. Lowering the mattress has been added to my list of things to do tomorrow!

Here he is standing in his crib shortly after the pull-up.

Jack attended his second Memorial Day BBQ this week-end. Here he is with some of his friends.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tokyo Police Club

We got a chance to check out Slowdown last night. It's a new small concert venue near downtown Omaha that Esquire magazine recently named the 2008 club of the year.

We went to see a band called Tokyo Police Club.

The show was great. Tokyo Police Club has a very catchy pop/rock sound, and the tunes are very short. If you hate live acts that drone on with dull guitar solos that last for fifteen minutes or longer (as I do), then this may be a band you want to check out.
The Slowdown club itself was also very nice. It features a sunken main floor with lots of balcony levels and comfortable seats so that everyone can get an excellent view of the band.

I'm definitely recommending the new Tokyo Police Club album "Elephant Shell".

Sunday, May 18, 2008

22 Minutes

My friend Mullins is always looking for a better way to be more productive. His latest technique involves the pictured Polder timer. He sets the timer to sound off every twenty-two minutes. After each twenty-two minute interval, he does something different. So he might he might do push-ups and sit-ups of twenty-two minutes, then clean the house for twenty-two minutes, then work on writing haikus for twenty-two minutes, then watch a thirty minute TV show, which you can do in twenty-two minutes using Tivo. In his first few weeks using this technique, Mullins is claiming to have become ultra productive.
The Polder timer Mullins uses is interesting because it can alert you in three ways: beeping alarm, vibration, or with a flashing pink light.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Baby Birdies Arrive!

You may recall from previous blog posts, that we've got birds in the belfry. A mama Robin built a nest on top of our porch light and then proceeded to lay two eggs in the nest. Well the eggs have hatched, and it turns out there are actually three baby Robins.

Here, in the center of the picture, you can see mama Robin in the tree. She has been gathering food for the babies like crazy.

Here are the hungry babies in their nest. You can see two clearly, and the tip of the beak of the third in the crowded nest.

The nest is so crowded, that we were concerned the babies would tumble out and hurt themselves on the concrete porch edge, or the hard ground. To give the babies a hand, I built a padded landing area for the birds out of pine needles and leaves. I used gloves so as not to get too much scent on the materials. I also put padding underneath the door mat and hung it over the concrete edge, so if a bird falls there, it should have a cushier landing and then slide down onto my landing pad.

The Candy of Berkshire Hathaway

As mentioned in the previous blog post, we attended the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder meeting. There were booths and giveaways all over, but perhaps the best area was what I referred to as "Candy Alley". Riding high on the acquisition of the Wrigley's Gum company, the Berkshire boys weren't shying away from doling out loads of free Wrigley's and Mars/M&M products.

Here's the pile of candy Erin and I made off with. And mind you, we weren't trying very hard. This is just the stuff people handed us.

These M&Ms feature Berkshire owned candy company names, merger messages, and of course, there was the famous Warren Buffett face M&M. The candy wasn't actually pink, it's just a bad photo.

The most exciting treats they were handing out were these new Starburst Gummibursts. It's a liquid filled gummy candy. The flavor of the gummies are exactly like the flavor of Starbursts. It's very good for a gummy. The reason it was exciting is that these gummies are not available to the public yet. They should be available in stores before too long, but as of now, only Berkshire meeting goers have had the opportunity to try them.

Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting

We went to the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder meeting thanks to Robert donating his passes to us. The event was held at the Qwest Center in Omaha.

Here Yuki sports one of the passes we wore. Wearing the pass was the key to getting into the event and to all of the great Berkshire Hathaway discounts around town.

This is a painting of billionaire Warren Buffett done in Berkshire owned Benjamin Moore paint. As you can see Buffett signed it.

Here's a picture of the main arena where the meeting took place, just after it finished up.

Here's a Warren Buffet football stand-up. I think it is promoting Berkshire owned Fruit of the Loom sports clothing.

AOL Apparently Still Kicking

I stumbled across a stack of free AOL discs in the grocery store recently, something I hadn't seen in a long time. What I want to know is, why the heck would anybody still use AOL? In the early, unorganized days of the web, AOL made a little bit of sense, but now? Would you rather do an AOL "keyword" search or a Google search? I can only assume that AOL is preying on people who are very very ignorant. So how much does it cost to surf in the AOL lagoon? $25.90 a month, and you have to provide your own high speed access.

Recommendation: Avoid


Piezano's is a favorite Lincoln pizza parlor that puts out a very good pie. The skyline silhouette on the pizza box graphic combines Lincoln's famed State Capitol along with the Statue of Liberty. I'm not sure if silhouettes are scaled correctly, but I think it's pretty close. In real life, Lady Liberty is 305 feet tall, while the Capitol is 398 feet tall. Piezano's pizza is good, but it is definitely not New York style, contrary to what you might assume from the logo.

Strawberry Banana Extra Gum

This gum's banana flavor is much stronger than its strawberry flavor. That's a good thing. I don't remember ever having chewed a sugar-free banana gum.

Recommendation: Buy

Nilla Cakesters

Like their Oreo Cakester counterparts, these (va)Nilla Wafer inspired snack cakes are better than average. These taste kind of like Twinkies.

Recommendation: Buy

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Snickers Bars

The new Indiana Jones Snickers Adventure Bar wrapper claims the bar contains a "new flavor kick" featuring exotic spices and coconut. I could not detect any kind of exotic spice flavoring. The Adventure Bar looked and tasted exactly like a regular Snickers Bar, except that it had a mild, artificial, coconut aftertaste reminiscent of tanning lotion. Not bad if you like coconut, but if you like coconut, you're probably better off eating a Mounds Bar.

Recommendation: Avoid

Monday, May 12, 2008

Still No Teeth Shots

But here are a couple of recent pictures of flapJack. He is getting a bit more hair...

He likes his piano - "the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the music scale, he wanted to carry juice but he didn't have a pail" is one of his favorite songs it plays for him.

This is Jack before he heads off to school.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Baby Takes The Long Way Around

If you aren't an avid fan of baby Jack or perhaps the Dixie Chicks don't waste four minutes watching him go around his toy. If you do decide to invest the time you'll be rewarded with 2 sneezes and a couple of beagle sightings.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wing Challenge

A few weeks ago Erin and I ate lunch in a place called Buffalo Wild Wings. It's a sports bar chain that specializes in buffalo wings. They feature 14 flavors of buffalo wing sauce ranging from very sweet and mild to extremely hot. Their hottest sauce is called "Blazin", which is two heat levels up from their "Habanero" flavor, so as you can imagine, it's very hot stuff.
I discovered on our lunch trip that they have a wing eating challenge. The rules state that you must eat 12 wings flavored with their spiciest "Blazin" sauce in under six minutes without using napkins or drinking liquids. I vowed that day to take the challenge, and tonight I followed through.

Here I am before the challenge begins.

The wings arrive. I found it a little cheap that they literally drenched the things in the killer sauce. Plus, even though this picture doesn't really show it, the wings seemed much larger than what they normally serve. I was undeterred.

I began eating at a business-like pace as employees looked on with stopwatch in hand.

By the end I was feeling pretty bad, mostly from the volume of food consumed so quickly more so than from the heat of the sauce. At any rate, here I am holding up the bone of my final wing.

Sweet success! I finished all twelve wings in slightly under two minutes, forty five seconds, which is one of their best recorded challenge times (although the top time is nearly a minute faster). For my efforts I received the t-shirt pictured here and my picture and challenge time placed on the wall of fame.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Steel Cut Oats

What are steel cut oats? Basically they are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces. Normal oatmeal, like Quaker instant, is a rolled, steamed, processed oat.

Steel Cut Pros:
1. Eating foods in their most natural "whole" state provides nutritional benefits stripped by the processing of normal oatmeal.
2. Nuttier, chewier texture than rolled oats.
3. No sugar, unlike most of the microwave stuff. Add fruit for sweetness.
4. They only have one ingredient, oats.

Steel Cut Cons:
1. They take 30 minutes to cook.
2. No sugar, thus bland.

Apparently there is a quick cook version of steel cut oats in the Trader Joe's frozen section.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Best Hot Sauce

When I was in Mexico, there was usually fantastic freshly made hot sauce around. When there wasn't, they would usually pull out a bottled hot sauce called Valentina, which was also great. Back in the U.S., I have found Valentina impossible to find, until now. I wandered into a local Mexican grocery store and discovered the stuff on the shelves for $1.19 a bottle.

If you need a new hot sauce and no other hot sauce can help, and if you can find it, maybe you can buy...Valentina Salsa Picante!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bowl Saga Thickens

with 2 new bowls!

The NCAA has solved two of college football's biggest mysteries:
• Where will the ninth-best ACC football team go for the postseason, if it qualifies?
• What about the seventh-best team in the eight-team Big East?
The answers, in order, are the Congressional Bowl in Washington and the St. Petersburg Bowl, the two newest additions to what is now a 34-bowl postseason.
The NCAA licensed the games on Wednesday. There could have been 35 games, but the NCAA rejected a request for a Rocky Mountain Bowl in Salt Lake City.
The Congressional Bowl will be Dec. 20 between Navy, if it qualifies, and an ACC team. If the ACC can't fill the spot, a Mid-American Conference team would.
The St. Petersburg Bowl will be between Dec. 20-23, with a Conference USA team playing a Big East opponent.
There are 68 bowl berths and 120 Division I-A teams.

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