Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Arkansas Observations

Three things jumped out at me during our recent trip to Arkansas. Cheap Gas, the volatile weather and the number of banks. First the gas because it is easiest to explain.

Now I understand that gas is cheaper in most parts of the country than it is in California. But the prices in Jonesboro, AR seemed surprisingly low. There was indeed some healthy competition among gas stations - good 'ol fashion gas wars - and it makes for cheap gas. The prices actually fluctated several times a day as stations tried to one up each other. Makes driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee bearable! When we got back home the cheapest place in Sacramento was $1.73.

The weather was pretty nice during our trip all in all. There was a fair amount of rain but some sun too. The thing we saw that we don't see much at all in CA was a real thunderstorm which even included a tornado watch! We were walking Jake and Jack as the storm approached. It was 77 degrees just before the front crossed over. Moments after this picture was taken it immediately started dumping rain.

The next morning the temperature was 34 degrees.

Finally the banks. It just isn't explainable. Jonesboro is a town of ~50 thousand and there are over 20 different banks in town with 130 branch locations between them all. Further, and this is the stranger thing, there are at least 10 bank buildings that can be described as monuments. I haven't seen anything like it unless you go to banking centers like Charlotte, New York or San Francisco. Here's a sampling...

Bank One

Bank Two

Bank Three

Bank Four

You get the picture...I could go on and on... Some sort of weird slowly growing ponzi scheme???

Finally, I leave you with a photo from my friend Carol who also went to AR over the holidays and snapped this picture (for her Blog) of the increasingly rare Stucky's gas station / store. Home of the famous Pecan Log. This is on I-55 a few miles before crossing into Tennessee....unfortuantely we didn't have time to stop but it made me yearn for the pecan log.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in Arkansas - Round One

We've made it through Jack's second Christmas - this time from Arkansas. This marked the first time Jack actually show some interest in opening packages. He made a good elf in helping his Dad deliver presents to everyone.

Here he proudly displays his empty box.

Jack's Grandpa prepares for the action - while Christmas Story airs on TV...

Jack proudly displays his horse - which he appropriately named "Socks".

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

Jack's Santa experience was a bit scary for him but the picture turned out pretty well.

Merry Christmas to all!

Mom's Famous Peppermint Stick Pie
1 piecrust shell, baked and cooled
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon peppermint flavoring
3 egg whites
1/3 cup of sugar (granulated, not powdered)
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1/2 cup crushed peppermint stick candy
2 tablespoons crushed peppermint stick candy

Have baked piecrust shell ready. Soften gelatin in water in 1-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture bubbles and gelatin is dissolved. Take from heat. Cool. Stir in peppermint flavoring. Beat egg whites in 3-quart bowl with electric mixer at high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar gradually until stiff and glossy. Beat in gelatin mixture at low speed until mixed. Fold in whipped cream and 1/2 cup candy. Heap into shell. Chill 2 hours, or until firm. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of candy just before serving.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Little A's Fan...or just a green hat for the season?

Jack is starting to recover from his various illnesses. He still enjoys stealing my hats and pulling junk out of the closet regardless of how he feels.

Here's a snap of his unbeatable smile...

and then he quickly dives into the closet - his hat flipped around so he's extra cool! At least he's avoiding the wine!

Heading for Airport...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bowl Game Swag

I saw an interesting article about what college football players get in their gift bags for playing in various bowl games. Here are some examples:

Gator Bowl -- Nebraska vs. Clemson
The haul: Oakley Split Thumps (electronic sunglasses)
Mercury luggage set
Bulova watch

Chick Fil-A-Bowl -- LSU vs. Georgia Tech
The haul: $300 Best Buy Gift Card
Bowl watch
Souvenir football
Autograph football
Logo travel bag
Logo ski cap and visor

Insight Bowl -- Kansas vs. Minnesota
The haul: 26-inch Visio LCD HDTV
Bulova game watch
Game hat
Snack pack

National Title Game -- Florida vs. Oklahoma
The haul: Sony Gifting Suite (player's choice of up to $300 worth of Sony electronics)
New Era 5950 fitted hat
Tourneau watch
BCS Championship Game customized Crocs
Ogio duffel bag
Customized luggage tags
Blockbuster video movie rental subscription

Pumpkin Spice Milk

As I was browsing the holiday eggnog offerings in the grocery store, I stumbled across an apparently new product called pumpkin spice milk. There were also two other flavors of this special milk, mint chocolate and candy cane, but I decided to go with pumpkin spice. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's the thickness or eggnog, which is to say, nearly as thick as a milkshake. The pumpkin flavor is powerful and almost too sweet. It's a tasty twist on classic nog, but like nog, you wouldn't want to drink it more than once a year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Subway's $5.00 Ripoff

It's no secret that Subway's $5.00 Footlong campaign has been a raving success. You can probably even sing that hellish five-dollar footlong jingle from memory. But as anyone who enjoys the footlong veggie sub can tell you, the five-dollar campaign has made the best sub on the menu MORE EXPENSIVE. It used to be that the veggie sub was well under five dollars, as it should be because it doesn't have any meat! But Subway just had to lump it into their five-dollar category. Now, a sandwich without meat is exactly the same price as a sandwich with two giant processed chicken breasts on it. The veggie eaters of the world are being screwed! The only way to get your moneys worth now is to order the chicken breast sub with THE MEAT ON THE SIDE. That way, you get your veggie sub and you can give the dog the processed chicken.

FlapJack Ready to Travel

Aside from the fact that he is battling strep throat and pink eye the little pancake of ours is ready to travel as evidenced by his climbing into our suitcase to "help" Mom.

Fortunately, with snow blanketing the midwest our trip takes us through Phoenix rather than Denver or Chicago.

Here's another snap of him holding a graham cracker while eating his socks! You can tell he isn't quite 100%. He's looking better today though as the medicine is kicking in.

Craftsman Warranty Holds Up

My 3/8" socket stopped socketing earlier this year and we finally made it to Sears where I was able to invoke the lifetime warranty and claim a new one. They handled it quickly and efficiently which is somewhat surprising given their association with KMart.

Here's the new wrench - which retails for ~$30+.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Strange Xmas Gift

Perhaps the strangest Christmas gift of the season came in the mail yesterday. It's the Bud Light VIP Personal Assistance card. It showed up as a result of my apparent membership in the Bud Light "Blue Crew" Club.

The card has a toll free phone number on back with an access code good for 10 minutes of conversation time with my very own personal assistant. They say I can call up and have an assistant help me with anything, like: flight gate info, dining recommendations, get restaurant reservations, event ticket procurement, driving directions, shopping info, weather reports, business services, emergency assistance, phone numbers, sight seeing info, tee times, entertainment, and city guide.

I'm going to have to think up something really weird to do with this. Any ideas?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Super Saver Andy

I stopped by the Super Saver grocery store tonight for a few items. As I walked through the parking lot, I noticed a folded note on the ground and picked it up. Looks like it was a bad decision to give Andy that extra responsibility! (click on the picture for larger view)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tangeman Blog Bowl Pick'em Challenge!

Come one come all! Join our Tangeman Blog Bowl Pick'em Challenge! Winner will be hailed champion on this blog!

The group name is Tangeman Blog Bowl Picks.
The group ID# is: 43073
The group password is: tangeman

To join, follow this link to the Yahoo Bowl Pick'em Challenge, click the "Join Group" button, put in the above information, and start picking!

Good luck! Root on Georgia Tech, Kansas, and Nebraska to victory!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Canadian Geese Walking, Honking

It's not unusual to see waterfowl on the small lake behind our house, but I figured once the thing had frozen over for the winter, the 'duck, duck, goose' show was over. As we discovered this morning, that's not the case. A gaggle of Canadian Geese have somehow landed on the icy surface and are just walking around and maybe drinking a little of the top-surface melt. Of course I can't let Yuki free back there for fear that the dim-witted animal would charge the geese and crash through the ice.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Banana Bunker

Will recently recommended the Banana Bunker to Erin and I, so we decided to pick some up to try. The simple and innovative bunker works just as advertised. It forms a hard plastic shell around the banana you're hauling so that the fruit doesn't bruise.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

I took a detour down the ice cream aisle hoping against all hope for an unlikely holiday miracle: the return of Ben & Jerry's "Festivus" ice cream. While the Festivus flavor was not present, I did stumble upon a different new flavor, pumpkin cheesecake. I was a little concerned that I wouldn't enjoy this flavor since I had consumed three pumpkin pie blizzards in recent months, but it turned out not to matter. Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake flavor, complete with its graham cracker swirl, is fantastic. A must try for any pumpkin fans.

Speaking of Festivus, if you've let your Festivus knowledge slip, I found this nifty YouTube movie reminding you of the 5 things you should know about the alternative holiday.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Money press as investment vehicle?

Stocks are tanking. Banks are failing. Brokers are floundering. Interest rates are bottoming. Car companies are begging. Bonds are dropping. What to do with your money? Many readers of this blog are familiar with the money press, invented a decade ago but perhaps never more appropriate than now as an investment vehicle. I am going to produce a limited run of these presses in the classic design, to be sold at under $40 each including shipping. To inquire, send me an email at:

When I get a measure of the quantity needed, I will finalize the design and price. It may not be exactly as illustrated, but will keep your cash very flat. Delivery before Christmas is doubtful but may be possible for quick responders. I will report total sales to this blog after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Missouri Fan Magazine

Robert's recent "Caveman" post demonstrated the nature of the Georgia Tech / Georgia rivalry. The following helps demonstrate how Kansas feels about Missouri. KU's besting of Mizzou on the football field last Saturday was very gratifying!

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