Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Road Trip to Franklin Grove, Illinois- Saturday

Finally got out on the first road trip of the summer, thanks to Big Oil's Greed and my desire NOT to make them any more wealthier than they already are.

We left Spring Grove Saturday and drove to Franklin Grove, Illinois, a small town of under 1000 population about 90 miles from us, that at one time was the National Headquarters of the Lincoln Highway Association, but now is the Official Tourist Center after we were able to get a full-time national director who is based out of South Bend, Indiana.

The reason we went there was to meet and greet with Michael Wallis and Michael Williamson who are on a coast-to-coast book tour for their just published book "The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate."

They gave a short talk and then signed copies of the book. I also had Michael Wallis sign a copy of his Pulitzer Prize nominated book "The Mother Road" about Route 66. He is probably the best known Route 66 author and served as an advisor in Disney-Pixar's "Cars" movie last year. He was also the voice of the Sheriff on it. He has authored about 15 other books.

Michael Williamson is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning photographer for the Washington Post and he took the pictures.

As an added bonus for us, another noted "road" author was there as well. Brian Butko is one of the foremost authorities on the Lincoln Highway and roadside attractions. I had him sign two books, "Greetings from Lincoln Highway" and "Roadside Attractions."

Boy Am I Getting Some Culture. What Next, Opera? --RoadDog

Saturday, July 28, 2007

To Walk or Get Driven to School?

The July 14th Chicago Tribune reports that, according to a study, fewer American students who live close to school are walking to school, especially kids in the South.

This, coupled with computer games and schools cutting physical education classes and recess due to budgetary restraints, has led to a major obesity problem with kids.

The study, which is being published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is based on a random telephone survey of 7,400 families with children ages 9-15.

In 1969, about 90 percent of children who lived within a mile of their school, either walked or biked to it. In 2004, just 48 percent did that at least once a week.

There are quite a few reasons for this. "Many suburbs and newer cities lack sidewalks so safety is an issue. Also, many families have extra cars and some parents aren't concerned about exercise for their children. Plus, some children think walking is 'uncool.' "

I would like to add that children today have to be the most-spoiled kids ever. They expect their parents do to everything for them- and RIGHT away.

Many kids are driven to school these days. A very common parental excuse is that they fear for their safety. I don't hear of many kids getting shot or abducted on the way to school among those who still do it under their own power.

Kids being driven to school, even when they can get bus service has become a major problem at the Round Lake, Il, schools, especially since 2000. Coming to school and leaving means doing battle with a major traffic jam. I don't remember it being like that when I started teaching back in 1973, or for that matter, up until the last six years. Existing schools have a great difficulty provided a way to do this and it becomes a major factor in the construction of new buildings.

Then, again, with these high gas prices due to Big Oil's excuse of increased usage, one would have to wonder why parents insist on driving their little darlings?

To the best of my memory, I always walked or rode a bus. I remember definitely walking to Cardinal Drive School in Rolling Meadows, Il, for 6th grade, and for two years at Winston Park Junior High in Palatine.

Let My People Hit the Pavement. --RoadDog

A Last Vestige of the Famed 2007 Cicada Invasion

The cicadas have been gone for several weeks now. For the most part, many people did not even see any. It was sort of hit and miss.

One major place they were was in Bull Valley, Il. On Wednesday, we drove down Bull Valley Road between Woodstock and McHenry, one of the great scenic drives in Illinois to my way of thinking. I noticed that the majority of the trees has dead leaves at the ends of the limbs, the result of hungry and pressed-for-time cicadas.

We were told that this would happen, but it was not a danger to mature trees, which would easily recover. It was suggested that people with newly-planted trees wrap the leaves in fabric, but usually this was not necessary unless there was a heavy infestation.

Say Goodbye Cicadies. --RoadDog

Ronco's Been Sliced and Diced- So Much for Those 50-Year Guarantees

The June 16th Chicago Tribune Business section reports that Ron Popeil's empire has filed for bankruptcy in California. Good old Ron sold Ronco two years ago for around $55 million, and the new owners still owe him almost $12 million. Other major creditors are the Food Network, QVC, and Court TV, where much of the advertising was done.

Over the years, Ronco, based in Simi Valley, Ca, has sold $1.4 billion worth of products, $19.99 and $39.99 at a time, "but wait, there's more..." Ron started it in 1964.

It also went through another bankruptcy in the 1980s.

Thanks to Ron Popeil's personal sales pitch, such terms as Ronco, Popeil, and o-matic have become a part of pop culture. "...how much would you pay now?"

He first sold inventions of his father, S.J. Popeil: Veg-o-Matic and Popeil's Pocket Fisherman. Then, in the 70s, he developed products of his own: Ginsu Knives and Armorcote non-stick pans. Obviously, he got big into the infomercial scene in the 1990s. Other products were the compact rotissiere, food hydrators, the bagel-cutter, and Dial-o-Matic.

I believe that at one time, they sold collections of popular music similar to today's NOW CDs, but, of course, they were albums. This was in competition with K-Tel. Anybody remember those good old K-Tel albums with ten songs on a side.

You can watch classic Ronco spiels at www.biography.com.

Hey, Ron, How Much Postage I Gotta Pay? --RoadDog

Hey, That Was My 100th Posting

That was my 100th post. I'm doing this way too much.

Buy, enjoying it a whole lot.  I love to research.


Is BP the Baddest Guy?

Gas prices around here continue to slide toward the $2.99.9 a gallon mark, read it as $3 a gallon. Again, $2.99.9 is really $3 and should not be called $2.99.

This is a welcome drop, after that 26 cent spike right after the Fourth of July, July 9th and 10th. It is STILL, however, a big rip-off intended to make Big Oil RICHER. Prices here in the northwest part of Chicagoland jumped the 26 cents in two days and it has now taken it 18 days to get back to the the $3.12 level. Let's see, two days to jump 26 cents, and 18 days to drop 18 cents. Could this be why Big Oil continues to post their mega-earnings?

I did see a station in Woodstock, Il, yesterday at $3.08 and a Mobil station in Johnsburg at $3. However, the British Petroleum station in Woodstock was still at $3.30, and the one in McHenry was even higher, at $3.40!!!!!!! Then, we have all the problems with the BP refinery in Whiting, In, which is dumping mercury into Lake Michigan, and I believe I heard it was a "scheduled" shutdown for repairs. Why would you do this during the vaunted excuse of SUMMER DRIVING SEASON?

BP even had the gall to use their GAINS to take out a whole page ad in the Tribune to explain their side. YEAH, RIGHT, as Ricky Ricardo would say to Lucy, "You've Got Some 'Splainin' to Do!"

We Deserve a Break Today! --RoadDog

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fremd and Palatine High Schools


For freshman year in high school, 1965-1966, I went to William Fremd High School in Palatine, which involved a long bus ride to the other side of the village. All Palatine freshmen and sophomores went to this fairly new school. Back in the 60s, Palatine was experiencing a building boom, much of it coming from the huge Winston Park subdivision where we lived.

It was named for William Fremd who had been a member of the high school board of education for 30 years and had served on other school boards as well.

In the fall of 1966, the first juniors came and they made up the first graduating class.

Fremd is one of the largest high schools in Illinois with 2800 students. The class of 2006 had 727 graduates.


I went to good old Palatine sophomore through senior years, 1966-1968.

The school was founded in 1875 and was the first public high school in what was to become Chicago's Northwest Suburbs.

The old Palatine High School was built in 1928 and remained in use until 1977 when a new school was built.

Much of the 1928 building was then torn down with the exception of Cutting Hall, which is still used today for plays and concerts.

A big addition was put on during my sophomore year, and that was left and today is used by the police department, village hall, and the park district. Many a class was interrupted because of construction noise my sophomore year.

Unfortunately, my class got to be the lowest class at school for two years in a row with the move from Fremd to Palatine when both were to become four year schools. Not surprisingly, a big rivalry developed between the Fremd Vikings and the Palatine Pirates.

We're Loyal to You, Palatine. We're Scarlet and Gray Palatine. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More on My Schools- Emma Conn School- Raleigh NC

Come to think of it, I didn't go to Fourth Street School in Greenville, NC, for fifth grade. I went to a lab school for East Carolina University named Wall-Coates. We had quite a few student teachers that year, as well as Mrs. Fennel, a teacher I really hated, but the best I ever had as it turned out. She MADE me change my ways and improve my grades.

I did not know who Emma Conn was, so I went on the internet and found some really interesting stuff about her and Emma Conn School in Raleigh, NC, where I went from 1st to 3rd grades. It was named for a Raleigh city school educator of 50 years, 20 as a teacher and 30 as a principal.

Emma Conn had an interesting philosophy on discipline. She would always give a student three choices when they did wrong: 1. sent home with a note- the absolute worst thing that could happen to a kid back then, let the beatings begin, 2. get a switch, and 3. go back to the room and behave. I'm sure most students in trouble chose the last one. She felt that corporal punishment should be done at home. "School discipline consists of guidance, understanding, and patience," she once said.

When she found out the school board was going to name a new school after her, she said, "I will have to be really good for the rest of my life." The new school was to open October 15, 1954, but due to construction delays, the first actual day was January 3, 1955. It cost $390,000 and had 505 students in grades 1-7, 15 teachers and 20 classrooms.

One stipulation from Emma Conn was that her name was not to appear on the outside of the school while she was alive. She died in May of 1970 at the age of 90 and is buried in Raleigh's Oakwood Cemetery. A sign was put up immediately after that. I attended first grade starting in 1957 so it was still a new school.

Tomorrow, I'll do Fremd and Palatine high schools.

Quite a Remarkable Educator. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How Do You Name a School?

An editorial in the July 20th Northwest Herald was titled "The school name game". It said that the Manhattan Institute had done a study and found that the naming of public schools after US presidents and famous people are on the decline. New "schools now tend to be named after natural features- mountains, rivers and so on."

The Herald finds this "troubling."  Students should have role models, and naming a school after a distinguished public figure whose work generally is regarded as having made life better helps to perform the civic mission of public education."

I agree with the Herald completely. Schools exist to move students on to a higher level, both in knowledge, problem-solving, and giving back to society what has been spent for their education.

I taught for 31 years at John T. Magee Middle School in Round Lake, Illinois. It was named for a school board member. The last two years I taught, I was at Round Lake Middle School in a new building, but, believe me, I wanted to keep the old name. Actually, I would have been very happy to have stayed my whole career at just the one school. But they closed Magee and I had no choice.

Liz taught at Beach School, named for the Village of Round Lake Beach, and at Ellis School, which was named for a school board member as well.

Thinking back to my elementary and high school names, I went to Emma Conn School in Raleigh, NC, first through third grades. I have no idea why it was named that. Fourth grade was spent between a school in Jacksonville, Florida that I don't remember the name, and Fourth Street School in Greenville, NC, named for its location. I also went there for fifth grade.

Sixth grade, I was at Cardinal Drive School in Rolling Meadows, also named for its location. Seventh and eighth grades, I was at Winston Park Junior High School, named for the builders of our subdivision.

High school was at William Fremd in Palatine for freshman year and Palatine High School for the last three years.

That was a lot of moving around as Dad worked for Quaker Oats and whenever he go a promotion, he had to move.

That's a Lot of Schools in My Younger Days. --RoadDog

Monday, July 23, 2007

McHenry Fiesta Days, Taste of Antioch, and Captain's Quarters- Sunday

SUNDAY- Listened to Bob Stroud Root Salute the Summer Stones on WDRV, the Drive. He played Rolling Stones songs that were released during summers. He was doing this in honor of the Summer of Love's 40th anniversary and Mick Jagger's 64th birthday. Mick Jagger is 64!!!! Are we really getting that old? They played my all-time favorite Rolling Stones song, "Honky Tonk Woman". I love that cowbell.

We drove over to Veteran's Park in McHenry and went to the the Jaycees foodstand. We were a bit disappointed as they didn't have bbq chicken, which is fantastic. This year, they were selling hotdogs, burgers, and roast beef sandwiches. We both had the roast beef which was piled high and delicious. People were already putting chairs and blankets out to stake places for the parade which is one of the busiest in the area.

Liz had found a new way to get to Memorial Medical Center in Woodstock using some backroads through the Village of Bull Valley. I would recommend that the whole village be places on the list of really beautiful drives. It is just one great view after another. Just be extra careful of the speed limits as the police there are very quick to pull over speeders.

Frances is there having tests for pain that she had this last week. After visiting with her, we drove to Antioch for the last day of their Taste celebration. This crowd was almost as big as the one on Riverside yesterday. The Beatles tribute band American English was playing and this is a very popular act in the area. From a distance, you'd swear you were watching the real thing. Of course, not only is this the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, but also "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", the album that essentially defines that period.

We had hoped to get there for American English's early Beatles show as that is both of our favorite period of the band, but we were too late. We did see their Sgt Pepper's show, complete with the colorful band uniforms. We stood by a fence that we thought was out of the way, but it turned out to be a major pedestrian thoroughfare as people kept walking and bumping into us as there was only 2 feet between the fence and a flower bed.

Next, we stopped at Sunday favorite summer spot, Captain's Quarters to hear another good band called Cirrus Falcon, who play all over the Chicagoland area and have been coming to Captain's for a lot of years. As usual, they put on a great show.One Busy Weekend.

You Just Can't Beat Fun Out on the Chain and This part of Illinois. --RoadDog

McHenry's Fiesta Days- Saturday: Lotsa Beer, Food and People

SATURDAY- We went over to McHenry's Fiesta Days and checked out the Art in the Park at Veteran's Memorial Park. There were lots of crafters with interesting stuff, but I'm happy to report, none got richer because of me. Walked back to Riverside Drive which was wall-to-wall people, many of whom had been enjoying the $1 for 14 oz. draft beers since 10 AM (and this was about 3 PM). It was almost like human pinball to get through.There was a band playing as well. People were in a good mood.

We don't call this Saturday of Fiesta Days Art in the Park as they do.  We call it Drunk in the Park, though the "drunk" is primarily on Riverside Drive.

It was WAY too crowded for me, plus you had to get a wristband and wait in long lines to get a drink, so I was out of there. (I usually will not get a wristband as I feel I'm obviously a little over 21 years of age, perhaps 24 or 25. Plus, I avoid lines anytime I can. Young people today tend to believe something is not worth their time unless they stand in line, but not me.)

Went over to Green Street, which was also blocked off and with far fewer folks meandering about. Much more pleasant. I had a great burrito from a Mexican place for $3. This thing was huge. I also checked out the Gambler and watched part of the Cubs game. Cub fans have been crawling out of the woodwork now that the team has been playing so well.

Next, I met Liz and Kora at a new place called Bambino's. It has only been open a week and had $1 16 ounce beers and $2 pizza slices. It used to be a popular Chinese restaurant called China Light and is located right on Illinois Highway 120. They have great pizza, so we'll get back there again.

Watched Barry Bonds go 0-4 in his quest to surpass Hank Aaron. Actually, everytime he came up to bat, Fox Sports switched from the Sox game to show it. It will be too bad when we passes Hammerin' Hank because of his steroid use.

Came home and enjoyed the deck.

Next Time, I Think I'll Skip Riverside Drive. --RoadDog

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lots Going On Here in the Chain of Lakes Area

Yesterday, Liz and I went to Taste of Antioch and enjoyed bbq sandwiches (I highly recommend Herm's BBQ by the train station. It isn't really Carolina BBQ, but pulled pork in a sweet sauce-mighty good eating.). Then we listened to a favorite band from DeKalb called Mr. Myers, which does what is called Caribbean Rock, complete with steel drums, lots of other percussion instruments. Obviously, they play a lot of Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley. Mighty fun group. We have followed them since when they began playing at Andy's in Dekalb back in the 1980s.

Today, after yardwork, I did some boating. Tomorrow, the choice is between McHenry's Fiesta Days, Fox Lake's Fireman's Days, or Taste of Antioch. McHenry will have bands playing out in the streets as well as at the gazebo in Veteran's Park. There will also be an Art in the Park and old wooden boat show on the river. Sunday, there will be the annual chicken bbq at the park and the famous, hour-long parade.

Antioch has bands, sidewalk sales, Little Nashville (a country band) and Od Tapo Imi, which bills itself as Jimmy Buffet meets the Blue Man Group. Then, Sunday, it's American English, one of the country's premier Beatles tribute bands. From a distance, you'd swear you were seeing the early Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Beatles, and later Beatles.

Fireman's Days have the fire hose competition, Las Vegas-style gambling, and a band.

Decisions, Decisions, Where to Go, What to Do. --RoadDog

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dumb Baby Robins

This has definitely been the year to have problems with robins. First, I had the mama robin who built her nest on a deck floodlight. I couldn't even go near that part of the deck without a big fuss. Then, there was another mama robin out by the southeast corner flowerbed. Then, another robin tried to build a nest on another deck light, right by the main sliding door we use to come in and go out. I was OD (on deck) enough that she gave up the idea.

Now, I am having problems with young robins while working in the yard. These are ones right out of the nest who don't quite have their wings yet and can't just fly away. They normally manage to slam into something, occasionally me. Their sudden movement also startles me a bit. Then, of course, mama and papa robin start their squawking.

Three times in the last week, I've had these young robins fly into the garage, panic, and then flutter around and making noise. Even with the garage doors wide open, they don't seem to grasp a possible escape route. Today, I had to get an old tee shirt and actually grab it, which got quite noisy. I took it outside, released it, and the dumb thing flew right back into the garage. I had to catch it again, and this time it stayed out, but I did have the parents swoop down on me.

Nothing Like a Dumb Robin to Make Your Day. --RoadDog

Every Bloomin' Thing- Mid July

Currently blooming perennials are the tall phlox, black-eyed susans, purple coneflowers, gladidoras, and bee balm.

About half the daylillies are still blooming as are about half of the various heights of daisies. I even have some mums blooming.

I have been doing work on a retaining wall by the gazebo that had partially fallen down. I also have been working on a flagstone leading to the gazebo that had slipped as dirt has settled.

Always something to do in the yard.

Lately, I have been pulling out or trimming the many marguerettes (like a yellow shasta daisy). They are like the shastas as they reseed themselves all over the place. I have also been dividing my irises.

My low-growing ground covers are covered in blue flowers and the chameleon plants, so called because of their multi-colors, are doing well.

Always Something to Do in the Yard, Right Mom. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Where Are the Nearest Places to Chicago for That Great Food?

The Tribune had a graphic and of the US and a table showing 8 different food places, closest location, miles, what they're known for, and if they are planning on coming to Chicago. I added my comments at the end.

CHICK-FIL-A- Racine, Wis.- 75 miles- chicken sandwiches, nuggets, waffle fries- around Christmas 2008.
I have eaten at a Chick-fil-A in Goldsboro, NC. They are good, but I like Popeye's better.

MAID-RITE- Rockford, Ill.- 80 miles- loose meat sandwiches (like sloppy joes, but less sloppy)- by Christmas.
I've had one at the Amana Colony in Iowa. This is a great sandwich. There is also one in
Springfield, Ill, that I plan to visit the next time we're there. A great Midwest tradition.

SONIC- Champaign, Ill- 136 miles- slushees drinks and Toasters (burgers using Texas toast)- within two years.
I've eaten at the one in Clinton, Oklahoma on a Route 66 cruise. Great food and slushes-very retro.

JACK IN THE BOX- Litchfield, Ill- 245 miles- Sourdough Jack sandwich, tacos, curly fries- no plans at this  point. We've been to this one many times. Both Liz and I are big fans of the Monster
Taco. We had Jack in the Boxes in the Chicagoland area at one time, but they've
all since pulled out. We got hooked at the one in Palatine, Ill, at the corner of Pala-
tine Road and Northwest Highway (US-14).

I remember a Jack in the Box opening at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb my
sophomore year. George, my roommate at the Delta Sig house, got a job there. It
was great excitement at the house when he got home after his night shift, as he
would bring home any leftovers. I, as first roommate, always got first choice. It
was a sad day when he quit.

We've eaten at the Litchfield one, even if we were full from eating at the Cozy Dog in
Springfield, about 50 miles away.

FATBURGER- Southfield, Mi.- 277 miles- the Fatburger, a one-third pound burger with all the fixins- fall
of 2007. Never had one of these.

WHATABURGER- Ridgeland, Ms.- Whataburger with cheese, Whatachick'n with bacon- no plans beyond
ten Southern states. I think we had one along Route 66, but can't remember for sure.

CHAROCHICKEN- Las Vegas- 1,760 miles- Fire-grilled chicken with lemon garlic butter--not for a long
time. Haven't heard of this one, but sounds like a place to check out next time
we're there.

IN-N-OUT BURGER- Las Vegas- 1,747 miles- the double-double- no time in the near future.
This chain has been around since the 50s, but only has stores in California,
Arizona, and Nevada. I'd never heard of them until I came across an obituary
on the co-founder and found it of interest. We ate at one in California on last
fall's Route 66 trip. Then, we ate at one of three located in Las Vegas. Well
worth a stop!!!

Gettin' Hungry Just Typing This. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

When is It Alright to Stop at a Restaurant Chain While on the Road?

If you're really, really hungry. Or if it's 10 PM and nothing else is around. But especially if you can't eat at that place around home or you've never seen the place before (which means it is not around your area).

When we're on the road, it's mom and pop joints for us, or any place featuring regional cuisine. Quite often we will have a meal in a place that has NTN/Buzztime. We always stop at new NTN sites while traveling and have been to almost 600 places across this country from Hawaii, California, Texas, New York, North Carolina, and Florida, but that is another story.

The July 5th Chicago Tribune ran an article titled, "Would you like some nostalgia with that?" by Kevin Pang. Most of the article was taken up talking about the Brown family of West Chicago who drove 75 miles to Racine, WI, to get Chick-fil-A sandwiches. They were living in Virginia when they got hooked on them, often eating at Chic-fil-A two to three times a week.

It went on to discuss that, as children, your brain translates anything that is high caloric as delicious. Plus, food leaves indelible imprints on your brain that will stay with you throughout your life. That cream pie that Aunt Mary made, Uncle Buck's steaks. Those will take you right back.

When Krispy Kreme finally got to the Chicago area in 2000, this was the "Big Thing". Lines formed of people who had fallen under its spell while visiting other parts of the country. Two years later, when one opened in the Loop (Chicago's downtown), "college-age students camped out literally- with lawn chairs, portable TVs and grills."

Eatin' on the Road, Ah, There's the Rub. --RoadDog

Monday, July 16, 2007

Now I Done Seen it ALL- $55 Bottled Water!!!

Who'd have figured that it would or could come to this. There is a bar in Chappaqua, New York, near NYC and hometown of the Clintons, that sells bottled water for prices from $3 for the common stuff, all the way to $55 for a 3/4 liter of Bling H2O. Yes the Yuppies now truly have their drink. You could save some money and ONLY spend $35 for a liter of 10,000 BC. Such a Deal!!!

Why these brands demand so much money is due to a wine term they call terroir. Don't ask me what it means. I'm not much of a wine drinker and I definitely wouldn't spend even $2 for a bottle of water. Why someone would charge the same amount for water as for a soda, where they actually had to do something with it is beyond me.

Business is so good, they're opening a second one.

Americans spend $15 billion a year on bottled water!! That's shocking. Has anyone ever heard of the tap or drinking fountains. While I was growing up, we'd drink right out of a hose. Nothing like that special taste, but when you were thirsty from playing ball, that was good enough. To my knowledge, no one has ever died by drinking out of a hose. But, I know people who think they'd die if they drink any sort of water other than bottled.

There is a big article in Wikipedia about bottled water. Some interesting things I found were that it should be at 55 degrees, kept out of the sun, and absolutely NO ice. You never know where the ice has been. Hey, until we took a trip through Europe back in 2000, I thought I could only drink iced down water, but did find I could drink it at room temperature on the bus. This was one of the hottest-ever summers on record. I'll never forget the 100 plus degrees it was in Venice the day we visited and the Death March along the River Arno in Florence.

Bottled water can be glacial, spring, well, or purified water. Sales are increasing 7 to 10% a year. In 2004, the US consumed 25.8 billion liters. Profits to the water bottling companies are at $11 billion a year (Hey, how much do they actually spend on the product. I imagine most of the cost is in packaging and delivery.).

Twenty-five percent of the bottled water sold is reprocessed municipal water. Pepsi has gotten into the fray with its Aquafina brand which debuted in Wichita, Kansas, in 1994. Coke's bottled water is Dasani which came out in 1999. One of the first bottled water was Evian mineral water from Lake Geneva, Switzerland. It was brought to the US in 1978.

What really galls me is that they usually sell a bottle of water for the same prices as a bottle of pop.

I know that more than a few members of my family are rarely seen without a bottle of water in their hand. You might even see me with a bottle of water out on the boat. but only because it eliminates the need for a cooler of ice to keep the pop cold. Again, I have learned that I can drink water at room temperature.

Water, Water, Everywhere, but How Much Do I Gotta Pay. --RoadDog

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Boating, SCV,Captain's Quarters, The Only Sons, Free Tickets to Country Thunder

FRIDAY, I boated over to McDonald's for breakfast, did a float, visited Frances, my mother-in-law, and met up with Kora, Ed, Laura, and Gail at the Legion. I did some yard work in between. Yard work just never stops. I am of the opinion that I planted too much.

SATURDAY I went to Des Plaines for a Sons of Confederate Veterans meeting. Always have a good chat with like-minded people over breakfast. I was shocked to see my breakfast, that cost $6.80 with coffee had a 66 cents tax on it. That is 9.5%!!!!

Did some yardwork at home. Then Liz and I went to Donovan's Reef in Twin Lakes, Wi, and played NTN. Out of 3000 or more places playing across the US and Canada, we had three top twenties, not bad for just two people playing against about 9000 other people. They show the top twenty scores, both by site and individual. Liz had a 14,567 out of 15,000 on one game, not bad. We ranked #4 and she was #3 on that one.

Came home and had a bonfire out on the Grand Strand. The Grand Strand is the lower patio between the gazebo and the deck.

SUNDAY, I listened to some of the radio shows OD, On Deck, and worked on my retaining wall by the gazebo, part of which had fallen down.

We went to Captain's Quarters and saw The Only Sons and were lucky enough to get seats at the bar. Usually, you can't even get near it. All the bands that we've seen at Captain's (which is located on Fox Lake) are good, but The Only Sons are our favorite. As usual, they put on a great show and had the people up and dancing most of the time.

We won four free tickets from Chicago's US 99 FM radio to see Country Thunder in Twin Lakes this coming Thursday. Trick Pony, Keith Anderson, Carrie Underwood, and Dierks Bentley are playing on the main stage. Now, that causes two problems. One is that I was already planning to see Mr. Myers do their Caribbean/reggae music Thursday at Taste of Antioch. Also, Dierks doesn't start until 10:30 PM, a bit past the old guy's bedtime. I'll have to think about it. Hey, we didn't go to Waukegan's Scoop the Genesee car celebration this past weekend because the bands started at 10 PM. Friday they had Chicago's own Cryan' Shames and Saturday it was Flo and Eddie from the Turtles. It used to be called Scoop the Loop, but the name was changed this year.

Decisions, Decisions!! --RoadDog

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Asleep at the Wheel

Here is what the Woodstock Opera House had to say about Asleep at the Wheel:

"Asleep at the Wheel, the nine-time Grammy winning Kings of Western Swing, is on the road and out touring behind their latest record, Reinventing the Wheel; the follow-up to the critically acclaimed, Grammy-winning, Gold-selling album, Ride with Bob.

The band's newest member, Elizabeth McQueen, brings her acting, vocal and guitar-playing ability to the fold and truly gets the Wheel back to band-leader Ray Benson's original "revue concept". Asleep at the Wheel's live set features everything from traditional Western Swing, country, blues and jazz with a cool retro edge and a good dose of humor. This is one ride you won't want to miss."

Setlist- June 29th- Woodstock Opera House

1. Miles and Miles of Texas
2. Get Your Kicks on Route 66
3. Don't Fence Me In
4. I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine
5. Eliza Jane
6. Sitting on Top of the World
7. Take Me Back to Tulsa
8. (I'm an) Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande
9. Your Mind is On Vacation and Your Mouth is Working Overtime
10. The Cape
11. This Old Cowboy
12. Pancho & Lefty
13. I Guess My Heart Just Settled Back to Earth
14. You're My Sugar (But, You're Never Sweet to Me)
15. Am I Right or Amarillo
16. San Antonio Rose
17. Faded Love
18. We're the Texas Playboys from the Lone Star State
19. Wonderful World
20. Choo Choo Ch'Boogie
21. Hot Rod Lincoln
22. House of Blue Lights


1. Big Balls in Cowtown
2. Happy Trails

Mighty Good Show!

That Pretty-Well Sums It Up for Me. --RoadDog

Prices...Ouch!!! : Now Milk

Just went shopping and was taken aback by the $3.50 a gallon for milk!!! Our dairy farmers must be getting like the good ol' boys in Big Oil. That $3.50 a gallon for milk is just about the same as a gallon of gas. However, I realize that the increased gas prices have sent the cost of everything up. Strangely, I don't hear much about inflation, but it is evidently here.

Went to Des Plaines today and saw gas in that area at $3.40. It is still at $3.30 (that's $3.29.9) around here. A friend I was driving with said that Mobil-Exxon had posted a whopping $500,000,000,000 in earnings this last quarter. He said something about that being the biggest earnings any US company had ever made. How can everybody be hurting as badly as we are, and some people are making profit off that hurt?

Who do these guys think they're fooling? I, for one, do not believe any of their excuses or reasons. How much longer must we endure this ridiculous situation?

Gettin' Burned at the Pump and at the Dairy Section!! --Poor Ol' RoadDog

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wings and New Invaders

Yesterday, after boating, I went to Steitz's  on the hill overlooking Bluff Lake and had chicken wings for 20 cents each, now that is a great deal, and they weren't the very little ones they serve at BW3 (or B-Dubs as it is sometimes called. Actually BW3 (Buffalo Wings & Weck)  is what we old-timers call it, you younger ones call it Buffalo Wild Wings. How they get that small of a chicken is beyond me. Those wings are little-bitty.  We call 'em parakeet wings.

This is a historical business, dating back to the 1920s. A lot of people there enjoying the wings, plus a new Anheisser-Busch offering called a Land Shark beer, something to battle Miller's new Chill beer.

Then, I went to Antioch, where they were having an "It's Thursday" band at the beautiful new outdoor stage that is set up to the east of Main Street. The New Invaders were playing. I've seem them before at Fox Lake's Oktoberfest. They play mostly 60s music from British Invasion and American bands. This is a talented six piece group, eight if you count the go go dancers. They even did Crosby, Stills & Nash at Woodstock. Everyone took turns singing and playing each other's instruments. They definitely looked the part of a 60s band. I'll have more on them later.

Afterwards, I checked out a new tavern on Main Street called the Sequoit Creek Lodge which is done up in a true north woods style. I'll have to go back some time and get a meal. The place was packed.

Good Times Out Here in the "Sticks". --RoadDog

New Words in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Here's some news from one of those Springfield's which did not win the right to host the world-premier of the new Simpsons movie, see roaddogsroadlog.blogspot.com. Evidently, this is where the Mirriam-Webster dictionary is published.

The fall edition will contain about 100 new words. See if you know what some of them they mean:

1. Crunk
2. DVR
3. ginormous
4. IED
5. Bollywood
6. sudoku
7. speed dating
8. smackdown
9. gray literature

I knew 2, 6, 7, and 8. I guess I'm just not WITH it anymore; retired you know.

1. a style of southern rap music
2. digital video recorder
3. combines "gigantic" and "enormous"
4. improvised explosive device
5. India's motion-picture industry
6. number puzzles
7. a different way of meeting people
8. contests in entertainment wrestling
9, hard-to-get written material

I'd like to add this one, Ripemoffus. Big Oil's continuing efforts to rip off the American public.

Always at a Loss for Words. --RoadDog

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hey, $3.29.9 is REALLY $3.30

It always get me how almost everyone I know calls the price of a gallon of gasoline $3.29 when it is $3.29.9. Why do they do that?

If you bought ten gallons at $3.29,9, you'd save a WHOLE penny. With these ridiculous Big Oil prices today, 1 cent doesn't amount to much.

I always like it when stations post $2.99.9 so as not to look like they're being too mean.

It's like buying something for $99.99. Hey, isn't that really $100.

Let's Call it Like it Is!! --RoadDog

They're Back!! Big Oil's Doing Their Thing Again!!

Gas here in the Fox Lake area was at a ridiculously high $3.04 on Monday. Tuesday it was $3.15. Yesterday, it had risen to $3.30. What is up with that?? Today, THEY were nice and left it at $3.30. It was supposed to continue falling for the rest of the summer as it did last year. Not what I expected.

Is this one last gasp at obscene profits? Hey, they still make a profit when oil prices decline because of how slowly they drop the prices. Their EXCUSE is that they are selling oil that they bought at the higher prices. What about when the oil price goes up. Then they raise the price at the pump within hours. These guys are something else. The old Rocket/Feather bit. Prices go up like a rocket and down like a feather.

Are they really shooting for the "magic" $4 mark?

And what about the huge profits? Isn't it about time for the quarterly reports to be released?

What is to be Done with Big Oil? --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dad and Quaker's Snapple Fiasco

The June 16th Chicago Tribune business section had an article about the world's largest confectionery company, Cadbury Schweppes PLC, is trying to sell their US soft-drink business which would include Dr. Pepper, 7 Up, Canada Dry, and Snapple.

They're expected to get as much as $16 billion for it. Possible buyers might be Hershey, Tootsie Roll Industries, or Kraft.

I have never seen Dad as mad as he got when Quaker Oats spent what he considered to be way too much for a business which at the time was on the downswing. Dad would bleed Quaker if you cut him. His loyalty to that company was tremendous. He was livid with CEO Smithberg's decision, against all advice, to buy Snapple. He said, it would bring about Quaker's downfall, which it did.

Smithberg kept selling off parts of Quaker to prop up Snapple which was hemorrhaging money. Finally, Quaker ended up being bought by PepsiCo which had always wanted Gatorade. They came up with their own Gatorade-type products, but just couldn't break its hold on the sports drink segment of drinks.

Smithberg, in true CEO fashion, golden-parachuted his way out the door. I'm sure that if Dad had been Quaker's CEO, they would still be their own company.


Headquarters in London, empolyees about 60,000 worldwide, some major US brands: Trident, Dentyne, and Motts as well as the drinks already mentioned.


Started in 1972 by childhood friends Leonard Marsh, Hyman Golden, and Arnold Greenberg who began selling their pure fruit drinks to health food stores around Greenwich Village in NYC.

The name Snapple comes from a discontinued carbonated apple soda that had a "snappy" apple taste.

In 1987 they began making teas with Snapple Lemon Tea the first effort. This continues to be the best-seller even now. Currently, Snapple makes 30 different juices, lemonades, and teas.

Somehow, I Need to be a CEO. Imagine getting to Screw Up and Walk Away with Millions. --RoadDog

Asleep at the Wheel- Part 3- Western Swing Ain't Dead, It's Asleep At the Wheel

They then did a song by the Blind Boys of Alabama called "The Cape" and dedicated it to all who have at one time that all they had to do was tie a cape around them and fly. There was then an extended jam on their jazzy take of "This Old Cowboy".

AATW had recently been out on the road with Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price in an oldies revue. They did a great take on Willie and Merle's "Pancho & Lefty" and a new one by Willie called "I Guess my Heart Just Settled Back to Earth". PBS will be airing the show of these country stalwarts in August. Ray Benson said they just backed them, but he thinks they did a pretty good job.

Next up was the hilarious "You're My Sugar (But You're Never Sweet to Me)" which was sung by the girl, Elizabeth McQueen and the fiddle player. One line went, "That new fur coat you bought me just got up and walked away."

From the new album came a great play on words song, "Am I Right or Amarillo". The fiddler did a lot of playing on this song. Ray said this was a big hit in that panhandle town. They then stayed in Texas with "San Antonio Rose" complete with Bob Wills-style "Oh Yeahs". You'd almost swear the Texas Playboys were there in the house. Then came "Faded Love" sung sad enough to make tears well up in your eyes. Shivers down my spine on, "I miss you darling, more and more each day."

Next was Bob Wills' theme song "We're the Texas Playboys from the Lonestar State". Ray said you can check out some cuts from their "Ride With Bob" album at ridewithbob.com, but doubted that Bob Wills ever had a .com.

Then Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World" and Choo Choo Ch'Boogie". That's right, "Take me right back to the track, Jack!" This was all calls, boogie-woogie piano, and sax. One of their best songs.

Next to last song of the show was "Hot Rod Lincoln" Ray did a long solo guitar play and later there were flashing lights and sirens at the point where they got pulled over. Ray went into an account of what happened at that point. And it just continued to get worse. Everything he said just got him into more trouble with the cop. "Busted in Mundelein again" brought a big laugh as that is a nearby town. But occifer (trouble), I was operating this vehicle Asleep at the Wheel (more trouble). Here's our latest CD in form of a bribe (even more trouble). Then he got thrown into jail and his dad was called to throw his bail. And he said, "Son, you're going to drive me to drinking if you don't stop driving that hot-rod Lincoln." This brought down the house.

The last song was the "House of Blue Lights".

The first encore was "Big Balls in Cow Town" and then "Happy Trails".

I went to the table where they were selling souvenirs at near the end of the first encore so as to beat the rush. I wanted to buy the new album "Reinventing the Wheel" but didn't when I was told it would be $20, a bit too much. I did buy two bumper stickers, including one that said "Western Swing Ain't Dead, It's Asleep at the Wheel".

Listened to AATW's greatest hits CD on the way home.

I partied with AATW. --RoadDog

Listening to the Surf for the Last Time?

Well, perhaps the last time.

If the government has its way, the days of live broadcasts over the internet might just come to an end on the 15th of this month. The rates they are demanding will put these small guys out of business.

The last time they did this several years ago, The Surf went to a pay arrangement, and I lost my Billy Smith for a long time until I saw that they had gone back to free listening.

This will also affect Live 365, and other great outlets like Fessa John Hook's Endless Summer station.

I sure would miss my Beach Music. There is No station here in Chicagoland where I can get a dose of what I need.

Don't Let 'Em Take my Music Away!! --RoadDog

Got My Headlines Back

Went to the Help Section here and saw a note that some people were unable to get their headlines to work. I must, then, be special as a "some people".

It said to click onto the middle of the headline field until they can straighten it up. This immediately worked. Thanks blogspot.

I am NOT a big techno guy, and just the smallest thing can really throw me off.

Before seeing the notice, I did find a way to put a new header on the site. Sometimes you just back into things.

Dazed and Confused in a Computer World. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Asleep at the Wheel Part II- cont. from June 30th

The band came on the stage, and with no banter, launched immediately into "Miles and Miles of Texas", one of my favorites. Ray Benson looks a lot like current country star Trace Atkins, both are tall with deep voices and long pony tails. Besides Benson on lead guitar, there was an upright bass, a steel guitar (also played the sax), a woman on guitar, drummer, and another man who played mandolin, fiddle, and guitar. They were very tight in their sound.

The second song, we boogie-woogied down the Mother Road with "Get Your Kicks on Route 66". Ray, the fiddle player, and the girl took turns singing it. This really got the crowd going. AATW 's (Asleep at the Wheel) version is, to my way of thinking, the very best of all of the seven or eight hundred versions of the song. If it doesn't get your toe to tapping, you've got a dead toe.

Then, they played "Don't Fence Me In". From their newest album, "Reinventing the Wheel", they played "I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine". The girl took the lead on this one. Ray still calls them albums and he talked about a new play he and the band were involved in about Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. They're still looking for someone to play the role of Bob Wills. Ray says he's too old and doesn't look like Bob so he can't play the part.

Next song was "Eliza Jane" with the fiddle player doing the Bob Wills calls. Then, Ray showed his guitar chops on the bluesy "Sittin' On Top of the World." Watch out Buddy Guy! Roy can do his licks.

Then "Take Me Back to Tulsa"-one of my favorites and, off the new album, "I'm an Old Cow Hand from the Rio Grande". AATW put a lot of songs that'd been wanting to perform on this new collection. "Your Mind is on Vacation and Your Mouth is Working Overtime" was hilarious as the title would suggest. With lines like, "If silence was golden, you couldn't raise a dime," how could it not be. At one point, Ray was singing as deep as the member of the Oak Ridge Boys on "Elvira".

To Be Continued.....

Western Swing Ain't Dead, It's AATW!!! --RoadDog

Who Da Best Pickles--Mt. Olive Pickles

Well, Dad definitely thought so, but he was just a bit prejudiced about the whole thing.

That article about the Mississippi pickles yesterday got me to thinking about my dad and his FAVORITE pickles, those from his hometown of Mt. Olive, NC. Those were pretty-much the only pickles we were allowed to eat while growing up.

He had a long-standing "feud" with my older cousin Graham as to whether Faison Pickles, located about 15 miles away, or Mt. Olive had the best. Dad would say that he knew a Mt. Olive pickle when he tasted one. Then Graham and Dad would have a pickle taste, where they compared the pickles from the two companies. Of course, they wouldn't know whose pickle was whose. I don't remember who won, perhaps a family member or relative can fill us in? Dean Foods has since bought Faison Pickles, but Mt. Olive Pickles remains and today is the LARGEST independent pickle company in the US.

Every trip back to NC would involve taking several jars back to Chicagoland as you couldn't get them here at the time. Airport security would look strangely at me. However, a few years back, I was looking at a flyer for Jewel, a major area grocery store, and was shocked to see them offering Mt. Olive Pickles. You can now get them at most of the grocery stores in our area.

Mom has since bought 300 shares of stock in the company, which are only offered privately. So now, not only is our family a big fan of the pickle, but part owner in a small way.


It's 110 acre, 675,000 square-foot facility is still located in Mt. Olive, NC, and at the corner of Cucumber and Vine streets. (I kind of like that.)It started back in 1926 with a 3,600 square foot facility and $19,500 in capital. Like I said before, it is the largest independent pickle company in the US. Over 90 million jars of pickles, relishes, and peppers are sold annually.

You can find their products all along the eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida, in the Midwest, and in Texas, Colorado, and California. It is the number 1 pickle brand in the southeast.

They can store over 40 million pounds of pickles at a time and have 500 year-round employees and 800 at the busiest part of the year during the summer.

Of course, the company was named for the town where Dad was born. In April, Mt. Olive has the NC Pickle Festival and New Year's Eve they have the Pickle Drop at 7 PM, which is midnight in Greenwich.

Wonderin' if Graham has Come Over to the Other Side? --RoadDog

Monday, July 9, 2007

It's a Pickle Thing- Mississippi-Style

The July 7th Northwest Herald had an Associated Press article about strange pickles in the state of Mississippi. I mean, some of these are marinated in Kool-Aid and some are battered and deep-fried. They really love their pickles in that state, and the whole south for that matter.

An overly large number of them are consumed south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The South "has always been a pickling culture. Pickled okra. Pickled watermelon rind. Pickled peaches and fruits," says William Ferris, professor of Southern Culture and folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Double Quick chain of convenience stores has begun selling these pickles after they noticed independent grocers having brisk sales and often kids would sell them at fundraisers. The Kool-Aid marinated ones are called Koolickles. Their 30 stores each sell about 25 a day at 50 cents a pop.

In case you're wondering how to make a Koolicle:

Take a 46-ounce jar of whole pickles, a cup of sugar, 2 cups of water, and two packets of red Kool-Aid. Drain and discard the juice from the jar. Remove the pickles and cut each in half lengthwise.

Mix the water, sugar, and Kool-Aid until the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour enough into the jar so that the pickles are covered. Cover the jar and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

Easy enought to make even for a non-cook such as I. I guess I'll have to try one if I ever come across a Koolickle. Hey, I'll try anything once.

"Mississippi's culture finds itself in a pickle" by Kathy Hanrahan.

Would You Like a Koolickle with that Steak? --RoadDog

Sunday, July 8, 2007

One Massive Fireworks Display- Good Times Out on the Chain

Last night, we had one of the best fireworks displays ever out on the Chain of Lakes here in the northeastern part of Illinois. This was billed as the second biggest in the state and I wouldn't doubt it. They were going off three and four at a time with a big halfway display, and then the end covered the whole sky for a good five minutes. You couldn't have counted the explosions if you had wanted to do so.

Of course the several thousand boats and their anchor lights was quite a sight as well.

The day started for me at 10 AM with what probably was the Village of Fox Lake's longest-ever parade that went on for a little over an hour. This was part of the Celebrate Fox Lake party in honor of the centennial of incorporation.

I lost count of all the firetrucks at the beginning of it and their sirens and air horns were deafening, causing little kids to cover their ears and great discomfort among the dogs. I was surprised to see that the old Mineola Hotel, our answer to the Grand Hotel in Mackinac, Mi, had two old fire engines itself dating back to the era before Fox Lake was incorporated one hundred years ago.

The kids were very disappointed at first as it is the tradition around here to throw candy from the cars and floats. No one was throwing anything. However, after about twenty minutes they were able to start loading up their candy bags.

After about 30 minutes, there was a break in the parade, so I walked over to the vendor/food area and talked with some friends at the American Legion booth and had an excellent bratwurst from Freddie's, a favorite lakeside tavern of mine where I like to play NTN.

Drove over to Woodstock to visit with my mother-in-law Frances and enjoy that great old square and farmer's market.

I came home and then Liz and I went over to Baja Benny's on Fox Lake and enjoyed an oldies band playing on the deck overlooking the water. Then it was on to Rick's, where we keep our boat on a channel. Matt had spent quite a bit on fireworks and they were setting them off. We then went to Rick's Turkey Bar (he is known as the Turkey Man because he caters a lot of parties with his deep-fried turkey) on the channel and listened to the Michael Lescher Band playing several doors down the channel at Kevan's. Later, Rick brought out two deep-fried turkeys. Now, that is some good eatin'.

Last stop was over at the Kellehers where we enjoyed the fireworks. They have a place right on Fox Lake. It was almost deja vu at the start. One group of fireworks went up and about two minutes later, another group. Then, we had nothing for twenty minutes. However, the numerous parties along the shore had their own fireworks shows going on, and some were almost as impressive as some small towns. They must have spent large amounts of money on them.

Two years ago, we had the infamous L-O-N-G fireworks display that went on for four hours, a little at a time. That was the most boring one I've ever seen. (The company had a computer glitch, but put on a free one later in August to make up for it.) We were just packing to laeve, when the show went on. I guess we should've gotten ready to leave sooner. It was worth the wait.

We also found a reasonably fast way to get home as all the cars leave at the end. Last year, I spend about an hour going absolutely nowhere on Grand Avenue as they were letting all the Mineola peple go through first. There were hundreds of boats line up going under Beer Can Bridge and the other US Route 12 bridge. That was quite an impressive sight.

Today, we went back over to the Kellehers for the Day After Party I. We had planned to have Ribfest I, but it was too hot (temps in middle 90s). We were forced to make do with roast beef sandwiches. Well, some people just have to make sacrifices sometimes.

Finally Finished with Fourth of July Celebrations. --RoadDog

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Happy 7-7-07

It doesn't happen often, but it did today. All the numbers are the lucky seven. I understand that there will be a lot more weddings today than usually happen in July.

Must be a guaranteed way for men to remember their wedding day. I wouldn't bet on it, though.

Let's see, the next triple number will be August 8, 2008.

Rolling Them Sevens. --RoadDog

The Really Big Shoooow!

Fireworks over Mineola Bay in honor of Fourth of July and Fox Lake's Centennial Celebration.

Pete Jakstas, Sr., the owner of the historic Mineola Hotel dating back to the 1880s, says he remembers back to the first couple of years when he put on the show for boaters and landlubbers with a budget of $4,200. This year's has $65,000 worth of fireworks and is considered the second biggest in Illinois after Chicago's $100,000 show on Tuesday.

He promises it to be the biggest show ever. Also, it will be his last as he is retiring. About 30,000 are expected to view if from several thousand boats anchored in Fox Lake as well as many parties along the shores. Of course, there will be a big celebration at the Mineola. The show will last 28 minutes.

J & M Fireworks Display of Burlington, Iowa, will put on the show.

"There will be surprises and a finale that no one will ever forget," said Jakstas.

We're headed out for a couple parties in a few minutes. However, we will view it from shore. It is too much of a madhouse out on the water. But all those anchor lights bobbing up and down is impressive in itself.

Oooohin' and Ahhhhhhin' Again. --RoadDog

Good Times at Beach Fest 2007

Headed over to Round Lake Beach's new Cultural Center last night to see one of my all-time favorite Country Rock bands, Heartsfield. This was the village's third annual, although they didn't have it last year as the center was still in delayed construction.

There is a permanent stage on the east side of the building and a natural amphitheater. Great place to have a concert.

I had some time to kill so walked the grounds. WRLR FM, the area's low wattage radio station (but they broadcast over the internet) was there and doing a fundraising project. The deejays are not paid and get to do pretty much what they like. There are all sorts of shows from sports, talk, morning zoo., new country, old country, head music, polka, Big Band, and so forth. I enjoy listening to this station and can get it over the air here in Spring Grove, about ten miles away.

About twelve vendors were offering food. I went to one of my favorites, Sammie's, and had a $2 hot dog I'd put right up there with Nathan's. It came grilled to perfection and the bun was as well. Then there was a full array of condiments: sliced and chopped onions, pickle wedge, tomatoes, relish, mustard, and ketchup (no ketchup for me as I had the tomatoes). After my second one, I wasn't too happy to hear the owner say their Sammie Burger was a quarter pound of black angus meat. I wish I'd known that before the second dog.

Sammie's started in Chicago, then moved out to the northwest suburbs with one in Round Lake Beach on Rollins Road (they were formerly at the corner of Rollins and Cedar Lake, but that site is now occupied by a Walgreen's- now who would expect a Walgreen's to build on a corner?). There were four locations, but they sold one recently.

Good Times in My Old Town Where I Lived for 17 Years and Taught for 33. --RoadDog

Where are My Headlines?

Sure Don't Know Why I Can't Get a Headline Anymore. Perhaps Andrea can do some 'splainin'. and configurin'.


Bringing the Record Home!!! The Hot Dog-Eating Record, That Is!!

Date: July 4, 2007; Place: Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, Coney Island, New York City; Event: 92nd Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest; Winner: Joey Chestnut.

In a stunning upset this past Wednesday, Californian Joey "Jaws" Chestnut upset six-time defending champion Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi of Japan by eating 66 dogs in 12 minutes to Kobayashi's 63. Tsunami even broke his old record of 53.75, but to no avail. It just wasn't his day in the face of that gastronomical onslaught.

This was an IFOCE (International Federation of Competitive Eating)-sanctioned contest. I guess there has to be an official organization for everything these days.

However, Jaws, is no johnny-come-lately upstart. Some of his world records:

18.5 eight ounce waffles in 10 minutes at Waffle House
47 grilled cheese sandwiches in ten minutes
8.4 pounds of pork rib meat in 12 minutes
6.5 pounds of horseshoes (a great Central Illinois treat) at the Illinois State Fair in 2006
9.6 pounds of pulled pork ( a NC treat, Wilber's anyone?) in ten minutes
182 chicken wings
7.05 pounds of chicken wings in 12 minutes
and now, 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes

This boy can sure eat!!!!!

Nathan's Famous has been in business at Coney Island since 1916, and that is a LOT of hot dogs, even those not eaten by competitive folks. What began as a small nickle a dog stand has now become a much-beloved New York institution and you can get them nationwide. Now, 1,400 businesses are able to sell the products without the upfront franchise fees. There are also restaurants in many states.

Some important dates in Nathan's Famous history (more on the website):

1892- Nathan Handwerker, founder, born in Poland

1912- He immigrates to the US and finds work at Feltman's Restaurant on Coney Island

1916- according to legend, four European immigrants have a hot dog eating contest at Nathan's to determine who was the most patriotic. The one who ate the most would be the most American. Irish immigrant James Mullen wins by eating 13 in 12 minutes. Thus began the annual tradition. That Joey must be SOME American!!! I wonder what James would have thought about this one, and ESPN covered it.

You can go to Nathan's website at http://www.nathansfamous.com/

Takeru Kobayashi also has a website at http://www.takerukobayashi.com/

The first Nathan's I ever had were at Topsail Beach a few years ago when Mom bought a big pack of 'em while we were at Hatch Haven, the condo by the beach. I'd always heard how great they were, and I'd have to say that was no lie.

I also had them at a tourist trap in the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, but was not impressed with these. A month ago, I had them again at buddy Phil's 50 plus 1 birthday, and these were great. He claims that you have to grill them to be proper, and I'd have to agree.

If I ever get to New York City, a trip out to Coney Island and Nathan's is a must.

Forget the Statue!!! Gimme a Nathan's Famous!!! --RoadDog

Friday, July 6, 2007

Off to See Heartsfield

Heartsfield, one of my favorite country rock bands of the 70s are back together, and I'm leaving in an hour to go see them at the Round Lake Beach Fest. I have never seen them before, but really liked them on the FM radio back then. I thought I had at least two of their 70s efforts in my record library, and I had four: Heartsfield, The Wonder of It All, Foolish Pleasures, and Collector's Item. They were on major labels for those: Mercury and Columbia.

Perry Jordan and JC Hartsfield formed the band in 1972. They were a couple of southern boys living in the Midwest and avid fans of the country-rock genre. They broke up in 1986 and reformed in 2000. Only Perry Jordan remains of the original group.

Counting the first run, they claim to have performed for millions of people and have released 9 albums, one of the more recent ones a live performance from the House of Blues in St. Louis.

They also will be playing Sunday at the Arlington Heights Frontier Days.

Their website: www.heartsfield.com

Some of my favorite songs by then, and, as far as I'm concerned, their self-titled debut album is a greatest hits compilation: I'm Coming Home, Hushabye, Music Eyes, Understandin' Woman, and the great The Only Time I'm Sober is When You're Gone (talk about your great country titles!!!). You can hear some of their songs on the website.

I'm Coming Home to Some Great Country Rock. RoadDog

Goodbye Cicadas...We Hardly Knew Ye, Well, Some of Us

The great infestation of Cicada Brood XIII has come and gone here in the Chicago area. Some people really got to see them, some, like me, saw some, others saw none. It just depended where you were.

I saw a couple at the historic Woodstock Square, and a couple in the yard here in Spring Grove. I did come across large numbers in Bull Valley, especially along Thompson Road. I had to wash the car after a couple encounters there. The last one I saw in the yard was flying for his life with a sparrow in hot pursuit.

Those people who were in areas heavily populated by them had quite a cleanup to do, as well as a battle with the stench of their decaying bodies, which were in the thousands in some spots. That smell was described as a cross between dead raccoon and fresh-mown grass. Personally, I like the smell of fresh-mown grass, but could do without the dead raccoon.

The Chicago Tribune ran an article on June 23rd, about the scientists and observers who were frantically running around the whole area gathering information about them. If the cicadas were busy this past month molting, mating, laying eggs, and dying, these stalwarts were just as occupied.

Reporter John Blemer went along with University of Connecticut entomologist John Cooley, who, along with a dozen others, fanned out across four states listening for that unmistakable buzz. I found that individuals sounded more like a crying, screaming mix. However, along Thompson Road, the chorus almost hurt your ears.

On the 24th, Cooley had driven out to Fox Lake (by us), Woodstock, and as far west as Rock Cut State Park near Rockford. His mission to collect new data on the cicadas. He was sponsored by the National Geographic. Hopefully, we will have a better idea where they'll be in 2024 when they make their return. Modern technology such as cell phones, global positioning, and interactive web maps will help.

Sometimes, he would stop every tenth of a mile and listen. In Bull Valley, he didn't have to as it was so loud. He had gone as far south as Springfield, to central Iowa, and southern Wisconsin. All together, he went about 7000 miles.

Sure Would Have Liked to See Some More Cicadas, but Maybe that was for the Best. Now I Have Those Very UNWELCOME Japanese Beetles. --RoadDog

Bill Pinkney 1925-2007

The Chicago Tribune ran an obituary from AP. He died at the Hilton Daytona Beach where he had been scheduled to perform for the Fourth of July festivities. Not bad for an 81 year-old.

He was born in Dalzell, SC, and wasn't a member of the Drifters when they made their biggest hits. He had left the band in 1958 after an argument over money. However, his bass voice was featured on early recordings, which I like just as well as the 60s hits. The obit mentioned that it was his voice you heard on their classic rendition of "White Christmas" which I like even better than Bing Crosby's.

The obit also says that he fought for the right of former performers to continue with the name of the band. I liked his new Original Drifters "Move Across the River".

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Beach Music Loses Another Great Performer

Last month, while listening to the Surf, 94.9 FM from Myrtle Beach over the internet, I heard that Dink Perry, a founder of the Breeze Band had died quite suddenly. The Breeze Band is one of today's Beach Bands with a big following. Dink Perry had left the group to pursue a solo career.

Today, while listening again, I hear that Bill Pinkney (also spelled Pinckney), age 83, of the Original Drifters died yesterday. He was a member of the first group of Drifters when they formed back in 1953. He was still out on the road performing when his death occurred,

I was fortunate to get to see him do an excellent show in Las Vegas about ten years ago. He still motivated the crowd. He had spent a lot of years battling the large number of groups that claim to be the real Drifters. Over the years, the band had gone through a lot of changes. There biggest hits were probably "There Goes my Baby", and "Under the Boardwalk" although I like a lot of their other songs even better including "Sand in My Shoes" and "Don't Go".

Somewhere in Heaven, that Great Beach Band in the Sky, Just Got Better. --RoadDog

Those Illinois Fireworks- Ours is Bigger than Yours

Yesterday's Chicago Tribune had an article in the Tempo section titled "Who has the best fireworks on the 4th?" by Colleen Mastony.

It started off with "GREAT DEBATES- Happy 231st bithday, United States! It's a day for flags, parades, fireworks and community spirit, softball games and horseshoes, speechifying and celebrating summer on the day our nation got its start. Dissent and debates are cherished American traditions. In that spirit, we look at two deeply divisive questions: Who has the best fireworks on the 4th?"

Colleen pretty-well summed up the Fourth with those words.

Her article was primarily about the competition between towns in the state to have the biggest and the best fireworks display. Along with that goes the bragging rights. Some towns approach this with a fervor. She mentioned a long-standing competition between downstate (all places in Illinois outside of Chicago and environs are called downstate, even areas out to the west) Streator and Pekin.

Murphysboro says it has the largest display in southern Illinois and Carbondale disputes that.

The Quad Cities (Moline and Rock Island in Illinois and Bettendorf and Davenport in Iowa) says it has the largest two-state display.

Arlington Heights, Lisle, and Bolingbrook claim the best in the Chicago suburbs.

I guess you'd just have to visit each one to make your own subjective choices.

Chicago, of course, is considered to have the best display with $100,000 worth of explosives, but it only lasts 20 mouth-dropping minutes and is accompanied by a live orchestra. Other city shows go longer.

Of course, these days, the common theme is extreme. You have to top last year's display and have to impress the kids, with their short attention spans, with more and more, faster and faster. That is one reason why the displays are shorter than in the past, when one firework would be shot off and then there'd be a wait. Now, they go up much faster and in combinations. Usually there are one or more pre-finales as teasers.

"Melrose Pyrotecnics, the largest fireworks display company in the Midwest, shoots 800 shows the first week of July."

Bob Kerns of the company explained the differences in shells: "European-made shells are favorites for the way they move and spin. Chinese shells resemble flowers , opening up like dahlias and chrysanthemums and peonies. Japanese shells explode in glittering sprays that linger in the sky. Putting it all together is like painting a masterpiece or choreographing a ballet."

When those wave on wave start, that is a sight to behold. I am especially fond of the Chinese ones, especially the sky-filling, gold glittering ones.

Indoor fireworks are growing in popularity and fireworks sales have nearly doubled from 2000 to 2006, partly because of the growing competition between towns. I'd like to add that I have noticed neighbors having growing competition as well.

There was a comparison table between Illinois towns as to date, expenditure, numbers of shells, crowd estimate, length, and music accompaniment:

Chicago- July 3-$100,000- 5500-1million- 20 minutes- live symphonic orchestra
Peoria- July 4- $50,000- 5500- 175,000- 22 minutes- radio broadcast
Rockford- July 4- $60,000- 6000- 125,000- 30 minutes- radio broadcast
Itasca- July 4- $60,000- 5000- 40,000- 24 minutes- speakers
Streator- July 7- $35,000- 3500- 20-30,000- 24 minutes- radio broadcast

I guess a person could make their own observations about who has the better display in the Streator-Peoria confrontation since they are on separate days.

I believe most town displays are now put on by professionals, which is for the best.

Oooohing and Aaaahing. --RoadDog

Flashback 1936-- It's About the Fireworks

The Chicago Tribune Magazine's back page always features an old photograph and then some information about it and then an expansion on the topic with all sorts of interesting facts. Nancy Watkins compiles the information.

This past July 1st, the photo was from 1936 of some children at a fireworks stand in the Chicago area. Back then, you could buy any sort of fireworks in Illinois. In 1942, just about all fireworks were banned without a permit. Judging from last night's displays by neighbors here in Orchard Bluff Subdivision in Spring Grove, a lot of folks defied that ban and are eligible for a trip to the old hoosegaw.

Chicago Tribune editorial, July 4, 1875:

Ninety-nine successive years have we set aside one whole day for killing small boys, putting out eyes, rending limbs [and] scaring horses...as a glorification and symbol of the American idea of freedom."

So, it goes back that far.


1. #1 injury-producing firework in Illinois June 23-July 20, 2006: Bottle Rockets

2. #2- sparklers

3. Typical length of fireworks show 1977- one hour

4. Today- 20 minutes

5. Pounds of consumer products used by Americans in 2000- 102 million

6. Today- 255 million

Jose Can You See by the Rocket's Red Glare. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

It Was 231 Years Ago Today

No, Sgt. Pepper did not teach the band to play. And no, it didn't have to do anything with THAT British group, but definitely it had to do with another British group.

This document called the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress and it declared that the 13 colonies were henceforth free and independent of Great Britain. It was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson and borrowed heavily from other writings and political thought of the time. It was not signed on this date as most Americans believe.

"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another...."

And, of course, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

I am not sure I would have signed the document or even approved it. These men, mostly wealthy, were putting everything, including their lives on the line. Failure would have meant the hangman's noose and there was no real reason to believe they could beat the strongest country in the world. Mighty brave men.

A few misconceptions of the event:

1. The famous John Trumball painting is not actually the signing of the document, but rather the presentation of it by the drafting committee. This gathering never took place.

2. The Liberty Bell was not rung as its tower was in disrepair. It's name "Liberty" was more from the abolition movement.

Even with all the problems, I's definitely rather live here than anywhere else.

Happy Birthday USA!!! --RoadDog

Is it Summer Yet? According to the Stroud Crowd It Is

Yes, Virginia, it's summer and the good old deejay, Bob Stroud, on the Drive has said so. He said so in his annual Rock and Roll Roots Salute to Summer, always the first Sunday after the event. He does not play the same songs every year, but does include some favorites.

This past June 24th, the three-hour playlist went like this with Bob's comments, mine in parentheses. See if any of these bring back memories, or, are favorites:

1. Beach Baby- First Class--from 1974
2. Sea Cruise- Beach Boys- their cover of Frankie Ford's classic, unreleased until 1980 (Ooowee, oohwie, baby)
3. Summertime- Buckinghams- their cover of the classic- Chicago hometown heroes- (personally, I still like Janis Joplin's version the best. Talk about your blues!! Oh yes, also Billy Stewart's skat version)

4. Daydream- Lovin' Spoonful- (just stretch out on the grass under a tree. Put your hands behind your head and let the world float by)
5. Popsicle- Jan & Dean- Bob is partial to the red, white & blue Bomb Pops himself. (This is a great doo-wop number.)
6. Come on Down to My Boat- Every Mother's Son

7. Summer Song- Chad and Jeremy
8. Car Hop- Exports- instrumental surf song- (never heard it before)
9. Summer Rain- Johnny Rivers

10. (You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth) Hot Summer Night- Meatloaf- from "Bat Out of Hell"- (great album, especially with "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" a song that always reminds me of a little bar right across from Preservation Hall in New Orleans where a female bartender and I sang the song, and might not have sounded too bad. Who needs no stinkin' karaoke!!!)
11. Margaritaville- Jimmy Buffett- (Does it Get any better than this. Kids today just don't understand the pleasures of stepping on a poptop. We named our basement bar after this song.)
12. Sunny Afternoon- Kinks- a jaundiced look at the season. The taxman took everything!!! Poor Ray. (I got a big fat mama trying to break me.)

13. Good Day Sunshine- Beatles
14. Summer Side of Life- Gordon Lightfoot
15. Hot Fun in the Summertime- Sly & the Family Stone- 1969- (Probably my second favorite song with summer in the name)

16. Dancing in the Streets- Mamas and Papas- (Loved the talking at the end)
17. Mr. Blue Sky- Electric Light Orchestra- off the "Out of the Blue" album
18. Live for the Sun- Sunrays- produced by the Wilson brothers (of the Beach Boys) father, Murray Wilson.

19. Summertime- Billy Stewart- from 1966. (He took Buddy Holly's "hiccups to a whole new level.)
20. Do It Again- Beach Boys- (Always reminds me of being a freshman at Northern Illinois. Kind of a sad look back at the glory days.)
21. Summer Breeze- Isley Brothers- featuring the screaming guitar of Ernie Isley- (The old Seals & Crofts song would never be the same.)

21. Summertime Blues- Blue Cheer- San Francisco psychedelic band
22. Racing in the Street- Bruce Springsteen- (Kind of boring if you ask me)
23. In the Summertime- Mungo Jerry- 1970- (My favorite "summer" song. How would you spell that shoo, shoo shoo sound they made through the whole song?)
24. Hot Summer Day- It's a Beautiful Day- from 1969

25. Summer in the City- Lovin' Spoonful- 1966- (Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirt and gritty.)
26. Under the Boardwalk- Drifters- 1964- (If you've ever been under a boardwalk, you'd know this is a very distasteful place to be. Where do you think everything they drop does. Plus, sand that doesn't have the sun shine on it--yuck!!)
27. Grazing in the Grass- Hugh Masakela- 1968

28. Summer Sun- Jamestown Massacre- from Chicago- 1972
29. Turn Down Day- Cyrkle
30. School's Out- Alice Cooper- 1972 (My official retirement song last May and the name of our boat!!!)

31. Spill the Wine- Eric Burdon & War- (War's big break. "Imagine me, a long-haired...")
32. Summer Means Fun- Bruce and Terry- written in 1964 by PF Sloan where the girls are 2-1 over the boys.
33. All Summer Long- Beach Boys

What, no "Summertime, Summertime" by the Jaimes!!! My third favorite, oh well.

Mighty Good Listenin' and Rememberin' this Day. --RoadDog