Sunday, May 27, 2007


I've been travelling quite a bit for work and vacation lately. Went to Cleveland to do an audit on a company that is going to take our special waste and recycle it. Which would be a lot better than the current practice of landfilling it. I dig it when I can work in some personal goals with the career ones. Nice to see that overlap.

Met up with Uncle Rukes in Cleveland. Rukes is a friend from the past, one of the people I refer to as THE MARQUETTE CREW. I hadn't seen him in probably 11 years - the last time was during one of my infrequent visits to Chicago when I lived in NE Iowa. We had some beers and waxed nostalgic. It was nice.

I drove to Cleveland because the guy from the company had to cancel the original date, and it would have cost double to change the flight. It was only 4.5 hours, so I drove it. Not a real exciting drive.

Then on Monday, I was supposed to fly out of Chicago to Columbus, OH and meet up with 5 other guys from my company to drive to a conference in West Viginny. I had been planning for months to take the South Shore Line into Randolph Station, walk a couple of blocks to the CTA and then take the blue line to O' Hare. Here's a helpful hint for those of you wishing to do this: Make your flight 8:00 a.m. at the latest. Even though I took the earliest train from the Duneland station (4:22 a.m.), I missed my 7:36 flight by minutes. The plane was still hooked up to the tunnel, but they had "closed the door." I tried getting a later flight, but they would have put me in Cleveland or Columbus at 11 p.m. at night, then I would have still had to rent a car and drive another 2 hours.

In hindsight, I probably should have rented a car and then used my ticket for the return trip out of Columbus. I only thought of this once I was back on the train to home. So I drove my car 7.5 hours to West Virginia instead. Did the conference, which consisted of about 3 bad nights of sleep in a strange bed. Went to Columbus with the group, spent another night in a strange bed, actually managed to get about 7 hours of sleep, then drove back to Indiana, went to work for about 4 hours, then came home and drove to Franklin, Kentucky all in the same day.

I figured in the past 2+ weeks, I will have slept in 6 strange beds by the time I get back to Indiana. Good times.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Seven Inches You Wish You Had - "Sometimes It's Pancakes For Days"

Since I've been moving the records over to the digital format, I thought it would be neat to share some of the old treasures I've been uncovering, specifically, the seven inch, 45 r.p.m. records that aren't available anywhere BUT on the original 7" they came out on.

The first one of these is Minneapolis' own RUN WESTY RUN. In the early 90's, these guys were Kings of the Twin Cities' rock scene. We loved 'em in Ames, as well. Buncha skinny guys with big noses, bringing all the goodness back from 70's rock and no one really knowing where to pigeonhole them. Are they punk? Are they alternative? How about just straightforward rock? Of course, the same thing happened to the Replacements.

This seven inch record was released on a dark, blood red vinyl with an orange label. This one was released by Big Money Inc. The band had two earlier albums on SST and their masterpiece, "Green Cat Island" was released on Twin Tone records. The cover is probably one of the most sweetest seven-inch record covers ever. I have no idea why they called this "Plowed Into God." Those words don't appear in either song on this record.

This fine outing consists of 2 songs: "Flappers", and the feelgood hit of the summer of 1992, "The Creeper". "Flappers" reminds me of Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak." The lyrics made my friend Brian wonder if the band was on heroin. When you read "Yeah, I'm jonesin' to channel 9, Sometimes it's pancakes for days and selling everything you own" you think maybe he had something there.

"The Creeper" could have easily come off of The Stooges first two albums. More likely "Funhouse" since there's a sax on it. This tune appears to be about jazz greats. We actually got to meet these guys a few times when they came to Ames. The guys in Funky Thermos were especially big fans. They would act all pretentious and say they weren't really interested in rock and roll. They were more interested in Thelonius Monk. Whatever.

I totally recommend this seven inch as well as the "Green Cat Island" release. The only good song on the SST releases is "Mop It Up." The rest of those songs are just too weird for me.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Wrigley Field Should Be Torn Down

Last week, my company had a Plant Manager's meeting at our place, and one "activity" I got to be involved with was a Cubs game on Wednesday night. We actually rented two of the "skyboxes" where you have a room, food, and beer, as well as 15 seats per box. What a way to see Wrigley for the first time, right (or maybe you think sitting in the bleachers is the way to go? More on this later)?

All 30 of us took a bus to Chicago from NW Indiana. The bus driver, however, got off Lake Shore Drive WAY before he should have. You can roll off of Lake Shore right on to Addison and go directly to the game. This guy took us basically through the heart of the north side, passing the water tower that is the only remnant left after the Chicago fire.

We passed a place I had a burger at around 1:00 a.m. one night back in 1995. It's close to Barry Avenue, where a few of my friends used to live. This is the cool part of Chicago. Lots of great restaurants and taverns. I wrote about my visits here in my zine, The Sh!tty, back in those days.

We get to Wrigley, and it's the 3rd inning. There's a guy in the street with a glove and a ball he said was Soriano's lead-off homer in the first inning. It would be the only run of the night for either team.

As we wind our way to the boxes, I'm amazed at how old and open looking the ball park is. My first thought is, "This reminds me of John O'Donnell stadium when I was a kid." Since then, JO'D has had a major facelift. And it's a Single-A, minor league ballpark.

It's basically a maze to get to the boxes. You go up some stairs, wind your way backwards, down some stairs, and up some stairs again to get on a catwalk that goes to the doors of the boxes. As you walk along this catwalk, under a roof, you can look down into the seats of the people below you. There is NO WAY these people can watch pop up flies because of the roof and the skyboxes in front of them. Made me want to get my guitar and go out on the catwalk. "Hi there. I wrote a little song I'd like to play for you right now. Goes somethin' like this..." It was just bizarre.

I guess it didn't always used to be this way. They put the skyboxes in to make more money, along with the lights for night games, that started in 1988.

The skyboxes were a bit crowded for 15 people. Once people got a beer and some food, they rambled out into the seats and it eased up a bit. The guy I went to Dark Lord Day with switched one of the TVs to the White Sox game. We ended up watching the end of that one after the Cubs game was done.

One of the guys I was with was asking about the netting above us on the roof. I said, "Don't worry, that netting is there to protect us from large slabs of concrete falling from the roof." Unless I was down on the front row, I couldn't see any pop-ups. The folks in the bleachers looked like they were having fun. They were yelling stuff in unison during the late innings. Sort of reminded me of line dancing for some reason.

I was looking for the pitch count at one time. It finally showed up on one of the 3 electronic score boards. That big green monstrosity in center field needs to be updated. There was no place to see the lineup.

I was asked by one of the Plant Manager's, "Isn't this great? Think of the history here." I just wasn't impressed. Now, Yankee Stadium, with it's 26 World Series championships, that's pretty amazing. How many championships have the Cubs won in Wrigley? None. Yet people still keep coming, and I really don't understand why.

I want to go into a rant about mediocrity and apathy right about here, but I don't believe I will. I understand some of the appeal with Wrigley, but I also think that if Yankee stadium and Lambeau field can undergo successful renovation, then Wrigley can as well, without "losing the charm." People tell me it's a great place to watch a ball game and drink beer on a summer day, well, great. There are probably other outdoor places within Chicago where you can get a beer and it won't set you back $5.75.

Anyway, if anyone wants a seldomly worn, fitted Cubs hat, size 7 and a quarter, I'll give it to you. I'm sticking with the south siders from now on.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Safety Guy Steps In

Okay, I don't care about this diaper-wearing, space shuttle-flying Nowak person or the wacky situation she's involved with, but I really don't care how the media paints her in this article, particularly this sentence:

Fellow astronauts described Lisa Nowak as smart, hardworking and a good mother, but also selfish and unwilling to perform tasks for which she hadn't trained, according to documents released Tuesday by the state attorney's office.

Is someone selfish for being unwilling to perform tasks for which they aren't trained? Technically, yes, but as a safety guy, I'm okay with that. Especially if the task might be asked of you while you're floating in space. Fuck if I'm going replace a Fetzer valve if I've never seen the thing before. You know what it is, you fix it! I'm not going to end up orbiting the earth forever if I put that thing in backwards.

I didn't really read the rest of the article. After that line, I couldn't care what the opinion was or what was being said. It appears that although she was a safety-conscious, but still CRAZY.

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