Sunday, December 30, 2007

While on the Subject

Here some more info on the movie "A Christmas Story." This being my all-time favorite Christmas movie.

Ralphie was in the quest for a Red Ryder air rifle.

Although set in Hammond, Indiana, the film's exteriors were shot in Cleveland, along with the store scenes at Higbee's department store.

Jack Nicholson was considered for the role of Ralphie's father. Now, that would have been really weird.

Movie fan Brian Jones bought the house used in the movie for $150,000 on e-Bay and invested another $250,000 in it before opening it to the public last year.

You can order your own major awards, the infamous leg lamp, including full-size ones at

There is also a lot of other "A Christmas Story" information at this site, including information about Higbee's department store.

From December Midwest Living Magazine.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How Many Times Can You Watch "A Christmas Story" Before You Go Nuts

I watched it three times during TBS' 24-hour marathon starting at 6 PM Christmas Eve. To the best of my knowledge, I did not go crazy. Liz and Kora, however, thought I had lost it. Hey, I really LIKE this movie.

Not only do I like what transpires, but also, it was just in another time and era. I liked the old city, the overloaded electric sockets, old schools. Everything. The spoken lines were great too.

If you're a fanatic, you should be able to answer these questions with ease. Answers Below.

1. What is the ultimate dare for a kid?

2. What was the name of the bully?

3. Who had the Old Man's greatly-hated hounds?

4. What was the Old Man's "major prize?"

5. What happened to it?

6. Where did they end up having Christmas dinner? Why?

7. What did Ralphie want more than anything else?

8. What happened when Ralphie got his chance to ask Santa for the object of his desire?

9. After Ralphie used the "F" word, how did his mom punish him?

10. Ralphie lied to his mom about where he had head the "F" word. Who did he blame it on?

Three Times, and I Didn't Go Insane. --RoadDog

1. I Triple Dog Dare You

2. Farkus

3. Bumpus hounds

4. a leg lamp

5. it mysteriously got broken. Mom was the biggest suspect.

6. Chinese restaurant, Bumpus' hounds got in and ate the turkey.

7. bb gun

8. He forgot what to ask for.

9. soap in the mouth

10. Schwartz

Just Some Stuff-- More Snow--Day-After Shopping--Randhurst--NTN

Just Some Stuff--JSS:

1. Received about a half-inch of snow last night. That's not much, but after the mess from Dec. 1st, I'm out soon to clear even this little amount off. No more chopping ice for me, I'll leave it to the icebreakers.

Real bad news, Liz just told me, as did that confounded chirping Weather Bug, that we have 5-7 inches of that white stuff scheduled to arrive tomorrow. Dadburn snowmobilers. Hope they're happy. They should have to come over and clear off my driveway and sidewalk before they go out and have their fun.

2. Went out Day-After Christmas Shopping yesterday. I wasn't the only one. Big crowds, especially at Wal-Mart. Then there were the lines waiting to check out. Fortunately I found a check out back by the record/electronic department with no one in line.

Hard to beat those half-prices Christmas items. Bought some red and white rope lights for use on the pillars next year. Also bought some button lights for the Christmas village under the main tree.

Saw some other neat stuff, including those new Christmas trees with the white ball lights that change colors synchronized to music. Those were neat, but I managed to avoid buying them. We have way too much Christmas Stuff already.

3. We're getting ready to make one last visit to Randhurst Mall in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, later this afternoon. This mall was built in 1962, and was a major hang-out for Liz and myself during high school and college. That applied to most high schoolers and young folks in Chicago's Northwest Suburbs. It will be torn down after the start of the new year because of declining business.

4. I'm almost ready to crack the 3 million mark in NTN at Hello Folks with 2,998,500 points. I Play NTN Way Too Much, but enjoy it, so reckon I'll continue. I use the Roadog handle there as you can only get six letters in your handle. Meanwhile, at Donovan's Reef, in Twin Lakes, Wi, Parrot is getting close to ten million points. This was my very first of my many handles.

NTN stands for National Trivia Network. It also goes by the word Buzztime now.

Sure Gonna Miss Randhurst. --RoadDog

No Movies for Me

Well, I had hopes of seeing 40 movies at the theaters in 2007. Last Friday, I saw "I Am Legend." This will be my last one, because those that work for a living and go to school are flocking to the theaters this Christmas season.

Yesterday, I was planning on seeing the new "National Treasure" movie at the McHenry, Il, Indoor Theatre, but the line was out the door. Then I drove by the Fox Lake, Il, Theatre to see"Charlie Wilson's War" and the parking lot was full. Guess a lot of people must have taken this week off, and I'm sure parents are shuttling off their loved ones to the movies to get them out of the house.

Guess I will stay stuck at 38 for the year and wait until Jan. 7th to resume seeing the shows.

By the way, "I Am Legend" was a very good show.

It's kind of strange, but sometimes there will be a month or longer stretch where I don't have any movies I particularly want to see. Then, all of a sudden, there are a whole lot released at once.

Other movies I want to see now: Charlie Wilson's War, PS I Love You, Waterhorse, Golden Compass, National Treasure, and Walk Hard.

Hey, Let's Hurry Up and Get Back to Work and School So Us Old Retired Coots can Get Back to Normalcy. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Jimmy Buffett's Birthday Today

Egads, Jimmy Buffett had his 61st birthday today. Can we all be getting that old?

He is one of Liz and my all-time favorite performers. I have all of his studio albums and many of his live efforts. Many of them are actual LPs. We've also seen his show at least four times. Absolute bedlam and big-time party.

We named our home Key North after Key West and the downstairs bar is named Margaritaville for some reason.

Jimmy Buffett, the Patron Saint of Boaters. --RoadDog

A Good Christmas

Liz and I opened the gifts last night and had eggnog. Watched "Santa Clause 2" and I watched "A Christmas Story." Liz doesn't like this movie at all. I, on the other hand have now seen it three times on the TBS marathon.

We're going over to visit Frances at the nursing home in just a little while. We'll stop back by Kora's for some Christmas cheer before coming home for Christmas dinner.

A Mighty Good Christmas. --RoadDog

Took a Drive to Lake Geneva, Wi.-- Part 2

After playing NTN, we took a ride west to the town of Lake Geneva. It looked like a town right out of the early 1900s with all its pine garland, ribbons, and lights. We were a bit disappointed with the lack of home decorations in the residential section by the downtown. Those old homes would have looked great with decorations, but only a few homes had them.

A highlight was a drive through Grand Geneva Resort, which had its usual massive decorations up. The entry way was great with the barn outlined with lights and a giant wreath. Then there were lights all over the small evergreens and the three beautiful poinsettias over the entry arch.

The drive was lines with the Twelve Days of Christmas, a Garfield Goose castle, and various lighted animal;s and Santas. Always enjoy Santa playing golf.

The buildings at the resort were outlined in lights, plus the trees were completely wrapped in white bulbs.

We normally like to take a walk through the resort, which is also majorly decorated, but both of us are having foot, leg, and knee problems so just stayed in the car.

Stopped at Donovan's Reef in Twin Lakes to wish everybody a merry Christmas.

On the way home, we stopped at Wilmot Farms subdivision to look at the lights. I give my award for best-decorated subdivision to this place. Three of the homes have to be on my all-time list of sights. A majority of the others had also gone all out. Well worth a visit to this area.

The subdivision across the road was not very good.

Lastly, we drove through our home subdivision. It was average, but still have to say our street was the least decorated.

Bah-Humbug, Pine Street. --RoadDog

Top Christmas Movies

Two other sites I visited with top Christmas movies and rankings.

Yahoo top searched movies 2007.

#3 A Christmas Story

#15 It's a Wonderful Life

#16 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Moviefone's top 25 all-time Christmas movies

#21 Gremlins-- forgot about this one. Definitely hilarious.

#10 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation--1989

#2 It's a Wonderful Life--1946

#1 A Christmas Story--1983

On my Third Viewing of A Christmas Story Now. --RoadDog

Monday, December 24, 2007

Didn't Want to Do It...

Well, I sure didn't want to do it, but, I just had to do it.

And that was to buy some more Christmas stuff. Liz and I are about to get Christmassed out of the house with our (well, my) ever-expanding collection. I fully intended not to buy anything this year, but, like I said....

1. Last week, I was forced to buy a house with lights that are synchronized to three different Christmas songs including "Carol of the Bells," " Deck the Halls," and the one that is used in the Miller Lite commercial this year and made the internet rounds last year. I bought it at Walgreens and it would have been worth the $20 they originally wanted, but at $13--too good of a deal to pass up.

2. This past Friday, I went to Big Lots in Round Lake Beach, and found an animated penguin with a chick in an egg that sand duets on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside." That was just too cute to pass up. And a deal at $10 marked down from $20.

3. Also at Big Lots, I found a three piece lighted porcelain set that is just what any roadie needs. It has an old motel, gas station, and diner along with people and vehicles.

I Didn't Want to Have to Do It. --RoadDog

JSS-- Ice Gone--Windstorm Yesterday-- Bears Party-- Grape Crush

Just Some Stuff:

1. All that ice on the driveway and sidewalk is finally gone thanks to the warm weather Thursday to Saturday. I helped it along with a LOT of chopping, chopping, and chopping. Boy, are my wrists and hands ever sore.

2. Yesterday, we had ten friends over for a Bears-Packers party. And DaBears won!!! As horrible as this season is going, if you beat DaPack, things are good again. However, I'll be backing the Pack in the playoffs. I would like to point out to Kip that the Bears beat the Pack both games this year!!!!

3. We had major wind yesterday, with gusts up to 55 mph around Spring Grove, Il. We were lucky not to lose electricity as we usually do in any sort of inclement weather. It blew down my spiral Christmas tree, lost a red ribbon, and put out one strand of lights.

4. Grape Crush--Earlier last week, I bought a six pack each of Orange and Grape Crush in 12 ounce bottles. Getting a pop in a bottle anymore is rare, but I haven't had Grape Crush in a long, long time. It was as Good as I remembered it Being.  Wasn't that what Radar drank on "MASH?"

Life Just Goes On. --RoadDog

And, My Top Three Christmas Movies Are...

I generally like all of the Christmas movies, but I do have a Top Three.

#3 is "It's a Wonderful Life"-- that ending always gets to me.

#2 is "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"-- I can't help but thing of old Clark Griswald while trying to connect all those lights and then not having them go on.

And my all-time favorite Christmas movie is....

"A Christmas Story." I can just watch this over and over and over. Come to think of it, TBS has just started the 24-hour marathon!!!! I'll see it at least twice. And I won't put my eye out!!!

I Triple Dog Dare You... --RoadDog

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Now, Here Are Some Folks Who REALLY Decorate

The December 16th American Profile Magazine had an article by Marta W. Aldrich about some REALLY DECORATED HOUSES with some really beautiful pictures.

Glenn and Christina Barber of Spring Hill, Tn, put up 35,000 lights on their home topped by an eight-foot lighted cross. "It's all about the kids. I love the look on their faces," said Glenn. He has become an amateur electrician and starts mapping out the next year's lighting in April, then spend a full month preparing for the Thanksgiving lighting. He uses more than a hundred extension cords and six circuit breakers.

He's happy to do all this despite the $300 jump in his December electric bill.

The article then goes on to say that outdoor lighting really came into vogue in the 1950s. Over the last 50 years, the displays have steadily grown, especially with the introduction of inexpensive lights. Today, some are even computer controlled.

Chuck Smith, an electrical engineer in Franklin, Tn., had massive lighting displays at his home for thirty years. At its peak, he had 130,000 miniature lights connected by seven miles of wire controlled by a computer and nearly 400 circuits.

Unfortunately, he had to stop in 2003 after traffic in his neighborhood got to be too big of a problem. He now puts up his display at a local shopping center.

He has a website devoted to people who light up their homes . If you like majorly-decorated Christmas houses, you've got to check out this site.

The article closes with two other big-time decorators. Anthony Volpe who put up 90,000 lights last year in Monroe, NY.

In Scottsdale, Az, Michael Anderson has 35,000 lights synchronized to "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, "The Chipmunk Song" and eight other Christmas songs.

"Let it glow!" by Marta W. Aldrich.

Now These Are Some People with Big Christmas Hearts. --RoadDog

The RoadDog's Guide to Outdoor Christmas Decorating

I've been able to cut decorating down considerably from the early days.

I keep the lights, garland, and wreaths in specific labeled boxes. This makes it easy to get the lights out.

I usually start with the deck and sunroom. White icicle lights go up along the eaves. Then I drape green pine bough garland all along the deck and place two strings of white lights run along the garland. Then two strings of C9 multi-colored lights run straight across. A lighted wreath hangs in the middle. Red bows provide color for the daylight.

I also decorate the gazebo with green garland and red bows along the side. I run white swag lights along the garland. I trim in red and green miniature lights. Inside the gazebo, I have a cascading lights.

The front has two small wreaths by the garage, a huge lighted green wreath between the bedroom windows. This has an eight-way lighting system set on continuous for different lighting. The brick pillars are wrapped in green garland and lighted. A green pine garland also is around the doorway. All of these are also lighted and have red bows as well.

Then I have lights in the bushes all the way across the front. I have multi-blinking lights in the crab apple trees at either end.

There is color from the garland and red bows during the day, and then the lights for the color at night.

I figure that I put up about 4000 lights, probably down from 10,000 at one time.

Even if I do say so, it looks good, and is by far the most decorated house on Pine at night and one of the top ones in the subdivision.

So, let's bring on Chevy Chase and Tim the Toolman.

Gettin' the Christmas Spirit. --RoadDog

Bah Humbug Here on Pine Street

I don't know exactly what happened to the Christmas spirit here on my street, or at least what happened to the outside decorations. At one time, just about every house was ablaze from one end to another as well as all over the yards.

This especially applied to my neighbor Juan who moved in the year after us. That first year, I held my own with him decorating. It got to be sort of like Home Improvement's Tim Taylor and his competition. But, by the second Christmas season, he buried me. I surrendered and let him have the decorating crown for the block and was content to be second best.

However, the last three years he has put less and less up. And this year I see nothing.

My neighbor Dan across the street also had lights all over as well as reindeer and a sled on his roof. But, Not No More. He has a Christmas tree in the window, but that's it.

Perhaps, it is advancing age. I notice that ladder climbing isn't as easy anymore. Maybe, it's the increased electric rates? Maybe the spirit just isn't there anymore?

Anyway, old Pine just isn't as colorful anymore. However, the next street over to the south, Elm, is a Christmas wonderland.

My Stocking Hat is Off to Elm, No Longer a Nightmare. --RoadDog

Sad Mystery in Johnsburg, Illinois

Johnsburg is just south of Spring Grove, where I live. I do the majority of my grocery shopping at Val's Grocery store, so this story hits home.

Five years ago, Dec. 20, 2007, 17 year-old store employee Brian Carrick disappeared. To this day, no knows for sure what happened, but foul play is suspected by Johnsburg police.

Brian was one of 14 brothers and sisters and a junior at the time of his disappearance. He left his home and walked across Johnsburg Road to Val's to pick up a $150 paycheck. He bought a pizza and was going to walk over to a nearby video store and rent a movie.

He never arrived at the video store or returned home.

The next morning, his parents found out he did not report to his job which alarmed them because he never missed work. His mother went to the Johnsburg police department and urged them to start looking for Brian.

The next day, police found blood inside Val's produce-storage space and on a trash compactor. It was later determined to be Brian's blood. An extensive search did not turn him up.

This past June, Mario A. Casciaro, 24, who worked with Brian, was arrested on nine counts of perjury for lying 9 times to a grand jury about the disappearance. He is out on $5,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 24, 2008.

Dec. 21st Chicago Tribune "Another Christmas without answers" by Amanda Marazzo.

Let's hope that something comes of this. You just don't expect stuff like this to happen out here. I usually even leave my garage doors open when I'm working out in the yard.

A Real Mystery Out Here in Eastern McHenry County. --RoadDog

Caught Them!!!!

On December 8th, I wrote about the boys who destroyed a man's Christmas decorations and then tried to run him over while fleeing. See "These Boys Should Get Coal in Their Stockings."

I'm happy to report that they have been caught. I'm unhappy to say that three were from my old alma mater, Palatine High School in Illinois. The other three were from Fremd, also in Palatine and our arch rival.

However, the homeowner, Phil OBrill DECLINED to press charges saying that he was convinced of their remorse. He said that they hadn't been in trouble before and that "Kids make stupid mistakes."

OBrill gave a description of one of the vehicles and it was found in the Palatine High School parking lot. The tags were traced and the boy was interviewed and gave the names of the others.

About $1000 worth of damage was done, but everything was replaced and repaired within a few days thanks to help from the neighbors. The parents said that the teens would face discipline at

Dec. 21st Chicago Tribune "Charges dropped in lights prank" by Jeff Long and Mark Shuman.

Hopefully, these kids learned their lesson and are truly remorseful, and not just sorry that they were caught. I say they should have to do at least 100 hours of community service. A great thing would be to have them put up Christmas decorations for elderly who can not do it themselves.

Teens Getting a Big Break. --RoadDog

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Took a Drive Up to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin-- Part 1

Yesterday, Liz and I took a trip to Lake Geneva to see those beautiful lights at Grand Geneva, close by Wisconsin 50/US-12. We like to do this every year, and it is a magnificent display with over a million lights.

In keeping with our 40th Anniversary "Trip Down Memory Lane," we stopped at Dilar's in Richmond for lunch. We stopped at this place many times while dating in high school and college. At that time, and, until about seven years ago, it was Mr. Sitka's. They had some excellent pizza and very reasonably prices for modest high school and college budgets.

At the time, we were living in Palatine and it never would have entered our minds that one day we would be living only about six miles from it. That drive north on US-12 seemed to go on forever.

Still has excellent food, especially their broasted chicken, and a whole meal with chicken, potatoes, vegetables, rolls, and salad came to $8.25.

We then drove past the Wisconsin border on the four lane US-12 speedway. Speed limit is 65, but you'll get run over if you adhere to it. My favorite place along this stretch of road is where they have signs for "Airplane Crossing" and "Watch for Low-Flying Planes." This is not what you'd expect to see on a road. There is a subdivision at this point where one of the roads is a landing strip. These folks fly to their jobs.

It was still light, so we stopped at the Lake Geneva Lanes on Wi-50 and played NTN. It has 12 lanes and a great little lounge done up north-woods style with exposed timbers.

More Tomorrow. --RoadDog

Been Ice Breaking

I spent some time Tuesday and a lot of time yesterday breaking up ice and snow on the driveway. It finally got over freezing, the first time since Dec. 2nd.

Usually, you can count on above freezing enough days to help, but not this go around.

December 1st, we had three inches of snow and then rain as it got up to the upper 30s on Sunday. Then we had the deep freeze and it all became ice. Then we had 6-8 inches of snow on two different occasions and several other days of multi-inch accumulation.

I decided not to use the snow blower Dec. 2nd and, judging by sore muscles today, surely regret that decision.

I'll be heading out shortly to break up some more ice. I try to make holes and that helps speed up the melting.

Aching Back Fun and Times Here in Illinois. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Forty Good Years-- A Trip Down Memory Lane

This past Saturday, December 15th, marked the 40th anniversary of when I gave my wife Liz my ID bracelet on December 15, 1967, marking the beginning of a long relationship, that now has 34 years of marriage to boot.

Despite forecasts of, and snow coming down, we drove back to where it all started in Palatine, Illinois.

Liz had just transferred to Palatine from Madonna High School in Chicago. She took the Chicago & Northwestern train to Palatine every day until her parents got a rental house on Boynton Street while their home was being built by Winston-Muss Corporation on Patricia Lane.

We were both juniors and had first met at a party back in November when I mistook her for a girl I kind of liked and, along with another guy, picked her up and put her into a trashcan filled with ice. How's that for an ice-breaker? It's a wonder she ever had anything to do with me after that. But, that did not come to pass.

More on the Trip Later. --RoadDog

Just Some Stuff-- JSS

JSS--  Just Some Stuff

1. Still waiting for some above-freezing days to get the snow/ice off the driveway and sidewalk. We've only had one day above freezing since Dec. 1st. Yesterday, I went out and chopped holes in the ice as well as the 9 inches of snow/ice pack at the foot of the driveway. I'm hoping that will help do some melting as it is supposed to get over freezing the next four or five days.

2. Sunday, Liz and I went to Twin Lakes to have some of those great $3 Bloody Mary meals at Main Street, and play NTN at Donovan's. We had four top tens in the course of the afternoon. Alfons, Tomas, and George played with us. Watched the Packers defeat the St. Louis Rams (still should be Los Angeles Rams to me) in a close game until the second half. Brett Favre keeps rolling on and set the NFL career mark with most yards passing. Too bad DaBears don't have him. Green Bay, my second favorite NFL team, is now 12-2 (with one of those losses coming from my favorite NFL team, DaBears!!!).

3. Speaking of the DaBears, this has been quite a come-down this year after going to the Super Bowl last season. Watched them play Monday Night Football last night at Margaritaville, our basement bar here at Key North. They played well in the first half, but definitely have to find a qb for next season. The three we have now are not the answer.

The Bears loss drops the record to 5-9. Believe it or not, they were still mathematically in the running for the playoffs until last night. There is no way this team deserved to go.

4. Going over to see Frances at Alden Terrace Nursing Home in McHenry. Later today, I'll stop by Round Lake Middle School to congratulate Hollis on 30 years of coaching 8th grade girls basketball. This is his last home game.

Then I will stop by the White Castle in Ivanhoe and have some sliders before deejaying at Santa Maria School in Mundelein. I have been deejaying there since about 1984, now, that's a long time to be doing something.

5. While getting the stream for 94.9 FM the Surf out of Myrtle Beach, SC, earlier this morning, I saw that the temperature was 27 degrees, the same as here in Spring Grove, Illinois. After all of Billy Smith's bragging about the 80s they had last week, I had to e-mail him and let him know. He announced it on-air and called me a loyal listener as I have been e-mailing several times a week the past several weeks. He is one of my favorite deejays.

Keeping On Keeping On Down Da Road. --Cooter

Where Were You November 25, 1968?

Bob Stroud did his Rock and Roll Roots Time Warp back on Nov. 25, 2007, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Since Liz and I are doing "A Trip Down Memory Lane" these days to mark our 40th anniversary of "going together", I will list all the songs Stroud played.

These were all being played on Chicago's two major young people's station at the time. Both were AM radio as FM was just starting to get going. Those stations were WLS and WCFL. These are the charts Stroud used to compile his playlist.

I was a senior at Palatine High School, in Palatine, Illinois, slinging Whoppers at the Burger King on Northwest Highway for a buck an hour and having a great time with the other employees and boss, Bob Galloy, who was just about a kid himself. Didn't much like the other boss, Jerry, but did like their father, Mr. G.

I was sports editor of the Cutlass, the school paper (we were called the Pirates, get it, Cutlass) and sports editor of the yearbook as well.

Liz and I had been going together almost a year by then. She worked part time at General Finance Corporation in Evanston, Illinois, during breaks and holidays. Her dad, Amby, also worked there and they carpooled it from Palatine.

Both of us were living in different sections of the huge Winston Park subdivision. I was at 1102 Anderson Dr., across from St. Thomas School and church. Liz was living at 44 Patricia Lane.

Stroud's comments accompany as well. If in parentheses ( ), it is my comment. I didn't get any of Bob's comment the first thirty minutes as I was asleep. The songs:

Elenore-- Turtles-- (how do you beat that great harmony?)
Nobody-- Three Dog Night (a favorite blue-eyed soul group of mine.)
I Heard it Through the Grapevine-- Marvin Gaye-- (the definitive version of the Gladys Knight & the Pips version. I still can't hear this without envisioning those raisins doing their best soul moves.)

Shake-- Shadows of Knight-- (a local northwest suburb group more famous for "Gloria." This one, for some reason, is regarded as a Bubblegum song, even though it is a great rocker.)

Son of a Preacher Man-- Dusty Springfield--(Nashville song from British songstress)
White Room-- Cream--(second hit after "Sunshine of Your Love." One of my favorite groups and one where I immediately bought every album they released after Ronnie Creel let me listen to his "Fresh Cream" album on a trip to Goldsboro, NC.)

Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)-- Kastenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus--Bubblegum music becoming the rage. (I always liked Bubblegum even though most of my friends didn't. How's that for a group name? I still have these original albums as brother Bob evidently did not like them and didn't wreck the albums.)

For Once in My Life-- Stevie Wonder-- has achieved standard status
Shame, Shame-- Magic Lanterns-- British group
Abraham, Martin and John-- Dion--hadn't been on the charts in a long time, then comes out with something completely different from his "Wanderer" type music.
Cinnamon-- Derek-- Top Ten song a long time before Neil Young had his "Cinnamon Girl."
I Can't Turn You Loose-- Chambers Brothers-- follow up to "Time Has Come Today." (Two of my all-time favorite songs.)
Things I'd Like to Say-- New Colony 6-- "B" side of "Come and Give Your Love to Me." Legend has it that Larry Lujac, dj at WLS, turned the 45 over and played this song. He immediately decided this would be the hit. (The Great Chicago Sound of the 60s. Former member Ronnie Rice still performs solo around the Chicagoland area as the "Human Jukebox." He sure knows a lot of songs.)

Kentucky Woman-- Deep Purple--Neil Diamond song and follow up to "Hush." (How to make a pop song into a heavy metal one.)

Both Sides Now-- Judy Collins-- written by Joni Mitchell
Magic Carpet Ride-- Steppenwolf-- (Nothing takes me back to Senior Lounge at Palatine High, right off the cafeteria, more than this song. Hey, is that a junior trying to sneak in?)

Run to Me-- Montanas-- Second hit after "You've Got to Be Lonely."
Love Child-- Supremes-- The Number 1 Song in Chicago by Cindy, Mary, and Diana. (A socially conscious song.)

Man, Did These Songs Take Me Back a Long, Long, Long Time Ago. --RoadDog

New Blog: Cooter's History Thing

Last Friday, I started my fourth blog here at Blogspot. This one will be devoted to history. I've been trying to clear stuff out of RoadDog's Roadlog and keep that devoted to roads and travel.

This one will be called Cooter's History Thing blog.  It will cover anything history not related to my other blogs.  Why Cooter?  Why not?

I've established one on the Civil War as well as this one. -- HOMI- History of My Interest--the new one. --Civil War

Definitely Blogging Way Too Much. --RoadDog

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Fed-Ex Guy Thinks I'm Crazy

Our cold wave continues and is forecast calls for it to stay sub-freezing until next week.

Anyway, when we were iced in this past Tuesday, I decided to replace a timer out on the front porch that wasn't turning the Christmas lights on and off in a timely manner.

I was in my athletic shorts and tee-shirt and too lazy to put on a pair of pants so went out to change the timer. There was ice, but the temperature was 30 degrees and no wind so wasn't too bad. Plus, it would only take about a minute.

Wouldn't you know it, the Fed-Ex guy picked that very moment to pull up. The first words out of his mouth were, "Are you crazy."

The sad thing was that I had just given my neighbor Dan across the street the same treatment this past weekend when he did a similar outdoor trip. Payback, I reckon.

Perhaps I Was and Still Am. --RoadDog

Don't That Just Burn Your Butt

You're cruisin' down the road, and see a gas station with prices at least 10 cents lower than the others. Wow!! Lucky Day!! Or so you think.

You pull in, get up to the pump, and see an extra ten cents on the price. You have just fallen for a new bait and switch ploy. That ten cent lower price is If you also get a car wash!!! Boy, I really hate when that happens.

Then, you look back at the sign and in small print you see with car wash.

They must have caught some grief for it as I now see those words in considerably larger print.

Washin' My Car for 10 cents a gallon. --RoadDog

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chicago Cubs Ripping Off Fans

The December 1st Chicago Tribune sports section headlined it "Holy Cash Cow!" What would ol' Harry Caray say? Only the really rich can afford to see the Cubs anymore. And, if you're not wealthy. you can take out a second mortgage, or sell your second-born.

The Cubs HIKED ticket prices a whole lot. I mean, a whole-a-whole-a whole lot. Prices for the 2008 season went up between 12 to 23 percent!!! But, management says they have signed expensive players and up-graded the playing surface. That's their excuse anyway.

Prices for an infield field box are $33, infield club box $50, upper deck infield box $26, upper deck reserved outfield $10 (more my price), and the bleachers will set you back $22. And, that's if you can get them.

Wait a minute, those prices are for the six value games!! Then there are 25 "regular" games and then there are another 50 "premium" games!!!!!

They just don't miss a shot at parting you from your hard-earned buck. As you might guess, the "regular" and "premium" games are considerably more.

Prices. Premium, regular, value:

Club box infield-- 80, 70, 50
Field box infield-- 66, 58, 33
Terrace box infield 52, 44, 26
Upper deck box infield 52, 44, 26
Terrace Reserved infield 36, 28,16
Upper deck reserved infield 22, 16, 11
Upper deck reserved outfield 20, 16, 10
bleachers 45, 36, 22

Let's see, family of four at a regular game in Terrace reserved infield: $112. Parking probably $20. That's $132 and we haven't even begun talking about souvenirs and food.

Ridiculous. Looks like another year without seeing a Cubs game in person.

But, I haven't been out to Wrigley but about twice since they got lights. I kind of doubt that I'll ever see another game in person at this rate.

To read about the Cubs in the good old days, read the entry below.

Gonna Get Along Without You Now. --RoadDog

Let's Go Out to the Ballpark--Wrigley Field, That Is

Gone are the days when Liz and I, back in the 70s and early 80s would, on a great summer day, get up and say, "What do we want to do today? Hey, why not go see the Cubs play." We'd drive over to Evanston, park in the General Finance Corporation lots by Dyche Stadium (now Ryan Field), home of Northwestern University's football games. (You remember GFC's Friendly Bob Adams who was anxious to give you a loan.)

Liz worked at GFC for awhile before becoming a teacher. Her dad, Amby, worked there from 1964 to 1981.

We'd then catch the El at Central Avenue and take it to the "Friendly Confines" which were truly friendly back then. You never had a problem getting a ticket, even on the day of the game (except, as we found out once, when the dastardly Cardinals were in town). Other than the Cardinals, there was rarely a sell-out. And, we could get a good seat for around $5 and drink reasonably-priced beer. Food was also reasonable. Now those were the days. We thought they'd never end. We'd sing and dance...Oops, sorry Thelma Hopkins, that's your song.

I've been keeping a written journal since 1978, and found an entry from May of 1981 saying that they'd raised the price of a cup of beer to the astronomical high of $1.50. My comment was, "I can't drink here anymore."  Too expensive,

I doubt that we had too many beautiful people in the park as people liked the Cubs in Chicago, but it wasn't the place to go to see and be seen. Of course, not cell phones either, and you never saw people get a phone call and start waving madly at the camera.

Sitting in the bleachers was around $3. And they were crazy back then as well.

Those Were the Days, My Friend. We Thought They'd Never End. --RoadDog

Guess Who Figured Out How to Use Bold?

You'd probably never figure out who accidentally learned how to use bold in these entries. I'm so proud of myself.

Who says you can't teach a very old dog new tricks?

I am, however, having a problem figuring out how to turn it off.

Learning New Stuff All the Time. --RoadDog

Don't That Just Burn Your Butt

Usually, things don't bother me. But, sometimes, things happen that do. When it does, I'll tell you what really Burns My Butt!!!

Don't you just love it when you're watching a good show and then comes commercial break, and as if by magic, the volume goes way up. What's that all about? I sure didn't turn it up. Perhaps the networks think louder will get us to buy what they're shilling. Do I REALLY need to hear the Menard's guy, Billy Mays, or the Empire guy telling what a great deal they have, that loud?

And besides, I don't Save big money at Menard's. I always Spend big money at Menard's. A trip there usually costs a minimum of 50 bucks. However, that Empire number is catchy-- 588-2300 Empire. There is NO excuse, however, for Billy Mays.

Come on networks, and especially cable ones. Give our ears a break!!! --RoadDog

Don't That Just Burn Your Butt

I really hate it when the networks promise "All New Shows" and then put on "Reruns." That just burns my butt.

Last night, I settled in to watch CBS' great Monday night lineup as we awaited the "Great Ice Storm of '07." That would be: How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Rules of Engagement, and CSI-Miami. I was looking forward to it as they were advertised as all being new. Because of the writers' strike, new shows are just about over.

I must admit, I didn't remember the first show, so that might have been a new one. But all the rest were definitely reruns.

Come on networks. You're worried about all the people watching cable stations. How about treating us with a little more respect!!

Try to Fool Me!  --RoadDog

Iced In and Loving It

This major ice storm that has come up through the Midwest through Oklahoma has us staying at home today. One of the great things about being retired is that you don't have to go out when it's bad. So, we're staying home today.

Just about every school in the area was closed today, even my old district, Round Lake, which NEVER closes. That was always alright with me because we had to make up "snow days." I'd much rather have to go to school on a bad weather day than make it up when it's nice out in June. By them I was ready to "get out."

We have some ice, but nothing nearly as bad as along Route 66 in Tulsa and OKC. Actually, it's very pretty and the trees, bushes, Christmas lights, garland, etc.

We've had quite the sorry weather ever since Dec. 1st. We had ice/snow, about three inches then. Wednesday we got about 7 inches, Friday about 2 inches, Sunday an ice storm was predicted, but was a no-show, but enough to keep us home. Yesterday was nice, but we had winter storm warnings starting at midnight. I've about given up clearing the drive way.

We fully expected to lose our electric power last night (we lost it for 5 hours on the 1st). Whenever a storm comes up, we usually lose it despite the fact that all subdivision lines are underground. Unfortunately, that is not the case of them coming INTO the subdivision. You'd think that after 15 years, any tree that even remotely was considering dropping limbs, would have lost them, but NO!!!!

At one time, we would lose our power on THIS side of the street, but the other would still have it. Now, that was a bit more than maddening. Now, we all have to suffer.

My three Bradford pear trees still have their leaves, so they are suffering, and one of the clump birch trunks is bending over a ways. Hope they pull through.

All the Pleasures of Home at Home. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 8, 2007

New Blog--Cooter's Illinois Preservation Alley

I have too many items in my RoadDog's Roadlog Blog and am "farming" some of them out to other blogs.

Last month I started a Civil War one .

Last night, I started one on Yahoo 365 that will feature preservation here in Illinois. So far I've only had one posting, and that is about Pearl Harbor, which I posted on all the blogs.

You can go to this new one at .

(July 22, 2019--  This one didn't make it,but the Civil War one is still there with current postings.)

Getting TOO Hooked on These Blogs. --RoadDog   That is an understatement.

These Boys Should Get Coal in Their Stockings

A disturbing story out of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, involving a man, his Christmas decorations, and a group of teenage boys.

Phillip OBrill is recovering from injuries sustained when he tried to stop a group of 7 to 8 teenage boys from destroying his extensive Christmas decorations a week ago.

About 11 PM, Mr. OBrill heard a commotion in his front yard and discovered the group stomping on and smashing his decorations. When he ran out to confront them, they ran to their cars. He stood in front of one, but the driver ran him over, injuring his foot and arm that got caught by the windshield wiper.

The cars then sped off into the night. Unfortunately, OBrill did not get the license numbers of either vehicle.

For the past 17 years, OBrill's yard has been a highlight of the Christmas neighborhood and he has won numerous awards. He vows to put the decorations back up and his neighbors are going to help him.

Hopin' Santa Got the Boys' Names. --RoadDog

Friday, December 7, 2007

December 7th, 1941, a Day That Shall Live in Infamy-- Pt 2

For years, my students would have a two or three day mini unit on Pearl Harbor this time of the year. Too many did not know anything about it or its significance. This included readings, maps, a careful look at pictures, and so forth. The excellent Junior Scholastic magazine for students had a very good article on it and I kept the issue for use.

Today, I did my bit to say thanks to our veterans when I helped out at the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion Post 703 when we hosted 71 people from the North Chicago VA Hospital.

There was a lot of history in our banquet room with veterans spanning back to WWII all the way to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would have liked to talk especially with the WWII vets and perhaps record their memories, but they were having too much fun.

They were treated to a full turkey dinner as prepared by our bar manager John, a really great cook. Pumpkin squares topped off the feast. Then we had a raffle.

Both before and after lunch, we had karaoke. The guy who ran it donated his services. We had some great efforts and moves, especially on the Temptations' "My Girl" and Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of my Tears."

One young woman got up and sang a rousing version of Michael Jackson's "Bad." During the instrumental break, she got out on the floor and did a Michael Jackson dance routine to the standing applause of the people. Two people at my table said she was usually a very quiet and reserved person. But, put a mike in front of her and, presto, a wild woman.

I believe these folks truly enjoyed themselves and none wanted to leave at the end.

Bless Our Veterans and Current Armed Forces. --RoadDog

December 7th, 1941, a Day That Will Live in Infamy

This date, 66 years ago, shocked the United States and plunged us into WWII. I was not yet alive (born 1951), but this battle has been a major point of interest for me ever since reading Walter Lord's book "Day of Infamy" way back in the 60s.

I also enjoyed the movies "Tora, Tora, Tora" and "Pearl Harbor.  "I'll always remember being more than a little uncomfortable when Liz and I went to the Northern Illinois student union theater to see "Tora, Tora, Tora" back in 1970 or 1971. My Japanese history professor was sitting right in front of me and Liz got mad at the Japanese and started making all sorts of comments about them. I was sure I was going to have some very poor grades as a result, but didn't. "Hey, Liz, that's my prof in front of us. Ssshhhh."

In 2003, my mom was nice enough to take the whole family to Hawaii. I've always wanted to go to that state, and there was no way I'd ever not visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona. We went to it. The USS Missouri is now berthed about a half mile away from the remains of the Arizona. These two ships mark both the beginning and end of WWII for the U.S..

The drops of oil drifting up from the Arizona gave me the chills. After all these years to still have this really takes you back to December 7th.

This was a benchmark of my parents' generation, much like JFK's assassination was to mine, and 9-11 is to today's.

A Salute to Our Armed Forces, Both Past and Present. --RoadDog

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Toy Train and Village Under the Tree

About seven years ago, I bought a toy train set at Walgreens, the great usurper of classic corner buildings, for $20 marked down from $60. This is a Lionel-size train with a short track. It consists of a steam engine, coal car, cattle car, and a caboose.

What I really liked about the train was that the caboose and coal tender both had the logo of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad (C&N)' a famous line from our area. Dad took this everyday into work when we lived in Palatine and he worked in Chicago at Quaker Oats in the Merchandise Mart.

The cattle car has a Milwaukee Road insignia on it. That railroad provided service out to Round Lake and Fox Lake before Metra replaced it. Metra also replaced the C&N.

After putting it up around the base of the tree, it was decided that a village was needed. Over the years, it has grown to occupy just about the whole area with a barn, lighthouse, winery, tavern, church, a house, blacksmith shop, two bridges, a covered bridge, lots of trees and people.

Making for a Real Christmas Feeling. --RoadDog

Just Some Stuff

Just Some Stuff--JSS

1. This past Sunday to Tuesday, I watched the SciFi Channel's "Tin Man" miniseries. It was an update of 1939's "Wizard of Oz." I'd say they did a great job on it. I really liked they way they portrayed the elements of the original in new context, The witch melted, the Tin Man was a police officer in Central City (Emerald City), the cowardly lion was a man who could read thoughts and the past, and the Straw Man was the former queen's advisor who'd had his brain removed. Toto was a shape shifter who had been DG's (stands for Dorothy Gale) tutor before she went to the other side. Tutor-Toto, get it. This took place in the Outer Zone, Oz, get it.

They did an excellent job.

2. Playing NTN- National Trivia Network. Sunday played Appeteasers at Donovan's and had a competition with Hello Folks in Fox Lake. We won five of six games. Monday, I played a few games at Hello Folks, after I found that Famous Freddie's was closed Mondays and Tuesdays for the duration of winter. Played with Tomcat, who is very knowledgeable.

Tuesday Liz and I went to Pug Mahone's and while having their great half price pizza special, managed to have 10 top twenty finishes.  Paintr was there and again we played Hello Folks until Bill, Jeff, and Larry came over from that place. People must have wondered about seeing two places from Fox Lake ranking in the top twenty all those games.

3. Been to the movies four times the last couple weeks.

BEOWULF-- all animated and quite an action flick. Could have used some clothing on Beowulf while fighting Grendl, though. I don't know if that is how the original tale had it. However, his private parts were covered the whole time sort of like Wilson's face on Home Improvement.

AMERICAN GANGSTER-- based on a real story of a black man who comes to control New York's Crime families with his cunning, planning and daring.

LAMBS FOR LIONS-- three intertwining stories about the War in Afghanistan featuring Robert Redford as a college professor with a slacker student, two idealistic students who joined the military and were serving in Afghanistan, and a senator and journalist discussing US war strategy.

DAN IN REAL LIFE-- a very funny Light Romantic Comedy starring Steve Carrel, one of my favorite funny guys from "The Office" accidentally falling in love with his brother's fiancee and then having to spend a holiday weekend with her at a family gathering.

I liked all of these shows.

See You at the Movies. --RoadDog

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This Card's for You!!

Sunday's Chicago Tribune has a Flashback page at the end of the magazine. It always features an old picture and interesting facts.

This one was a photo from 1931 of a bunch of girls from Bowen High School practicing for a Tribune-sponsored Bridge Tournament.

It goes on to say that today, when people hear the term bridge game, it conjures up genteel old ladies playing the game, but back in the 1920s and 30s, it was the HOT game.

Bridge can lead to arguments and even loss of friends on occasion. But here's a good story. In 1929, Myrtle and John Bennett of Kansas City, Mo., were partners in a game with another couple. His play in a key hand led her to call him a "bum bridge player." He hit her and she went into the other room, returned with a gun and shot him dead. And, she was ACQUITTED!!!! I'd sure like to know how she got out of that one. What a bum's rush. The Tribune wonders how many bridge players were on the jury.

Then, some interesting facts:

Number of bridge books on the NY Times Best-Seller List in 1938: 3

Billionaire bridge players pushing the game: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates

Number of weeks the Tribune discontinued its bridge column back in 2005 before reader protest brough it back: 1.

Liz says her mom Frances was always trying to get her to play, but that never happened. Frances and her friends Vivian and Kay were major bridge players.

My mom plays bridge about once a week as did my grandmother. My cousin Joe is a big-time player in the Virginia/NC circuit.

I do not think I've ever played.


However, in college I used to play Hearts and Spades a lot. I had never played them before I got there. This caused me to miss a lot of classes. I signed up for early morning classes as a freshman. I didn't know any better. How was I to know that the Hearts games at Northern lasted until 3 or 4 in the morning. That made it VERY difficult to get up a few hours later for that 8 AM class.

Hearts were popular at NIU. The year I went to Georgia, the game was Spades.

Remember Who You Don't Want to Get in Hearts Unless You're Running? --RoadDog

Well, It Must be Winter--Snow and Christmas Decorations

Woke up this morning to 6-8 inches of snow. Between that and the 2-3 inches of snow/ice we got Saturday night, I'd have to say Old Man Winter is HERE.

Glad to report that the snow blower worked well and did its job, even though I'm pretty sure I didn't get the oil-gas mixture just right. I somehow lost the instructions.

Just enough wind so that I had plenty face fulls of the white stuff. My right knee, which was already sore for some reason, got even worse when I slipped a couple times on the ice under the snow.

We're listening to our favorite two Christmas albums, well, CDs, today as we put up the decorations. Those two would be The Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffett. If you play JB, let it go past the last track as he tells the Night Before Christmas.  That is a bonus as it is not listed on the tracks.

I'm on this right now as Liz changes EVERYTHING I put on the tree. If she is just going to move it, perhaps she should put it up herself.

Most of the outside lights are up now. I put all of them up on the deck and gazebo Friday and yesterday, just as the snow was starting, I put them up along the west side of the front of the house.

Oh, the Joy of the Season. --RoadDog

Don't it Make Your Feel Old?

The old cipherin' guy himself, Max Baer turns 70 this week. Son of a boxer, he was Jethro in the "Beverly Hillbillies."

Bob Stroud always features rock birthdays on his show. Other birthdays this week to make you feel too old.

Harry Chapin, "WOLD" and "Cats in the Cradle" would have been 65.
Jim Messina, of Loggins & Messina fame, is 60
John Desmond, the Doors' drummer, is 63
Mike Smith, lead vocalist of the Dave Clark 5 (I always thought it was Dave Clark as the lead singer) is 63.
Dennis Wilson, drummer of the Beach Boys, would have been 63

Talking 'Bout My Generation. --RoadDog

Monday, December 3, 2007

"Anyway You Want It" --First or Second Single?

Yesterday, Bob Stroud played Dave Clark 5's "Any Way You Want It" on his Rock and Roll Roots show and said that it was released in December 1964. The lead singer of the group, Mike Smith, will turn 63 this week.

This single brought back some memories for me. This was either the first or second single I ever bought. If it wasn't the first, then "Look Through Any Window" by the Hollies was. I bought both about the same time in 1964, but kept the purchase secret from my dad as he believed records to be a waste of money.

On the subject of the Dave Clark 5, two weeks ago, Little Steven played "Glad All Over" on his Underground Garage radio show, here in Chicago at WXRT FM and streaming world-wide. The show is syndicated so might be in your market as well.

He had Mike Smith introduce it and said that this song was a few minutes of pounding. It was the DC5 who dethroned the Beatles on the top of British charts back when anything the Beatles did went straight to number one.

According to Little Steven: "Go make a record better than 'Glad All Over'. Go ahead. I'll give you an unlimited amount of money. Go make a record better than that. You can't do it. Dave and Mike Smith were a fantastic combination." Little Steven, like myself, believes that it is a shame that the Dave Clark 5 have not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Maybe 2008 will be the year.

At one time, the DC5 were told that they couldn't play "Bits and Pieces" at concerts as promoters feared the crowd's jumping up and down would cause damage to the dancehall floors.

I always thought drummer Dave Clark was the lead singer. He did provide vocals, but Mike Smith did most of the singing on their big hits. But, we didn't have anything like an MTV back when they used to play videos, so I never got to see who was singing.


Sure Wish I Could Remember Which One I Bought First. --RoadDog

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Goodbye, Coach Novak

I was very sad to see that Northern Illinois' football coach, Joe Novak, retired this past Monday. He was one class act. I wish he had been able to do so with a good season under his belt, but that wasn't to be. This year's team ended up 2-10. Even so, he could have kept the job if he wanted it.

He brought Northern up to the level of competition it now enjoys. Before this year, Northern had 7 straight winning seasons and finished tied for first in the Mid-American Conference's Western Division four times to go along with a tie for 2nd and tie for third. Now, that's some good football.

He took over a struggling Northern football team with antiquated facilities, a lack of morale, and a losing tradition, and turned it around. Our previous coaches either didn't work out, including Lee Corso, or, if they had any success, were immediately gone to a bigger name school--Mallory and Pettibone. To Joe Novak's credit, even after success finally came under his regime, he did not leave. He stayed to build the program.

Six words that apply here: Toughness, Leadership, Accountability, Teachering, Learning, Winner. Joe Novak was all of these.

After playing collegiate ball at Miami of Ohio, he started coaching football at Warren Western Reserve High School in Ohio. He also had stints as assistant coach at Illinois, Miami, and Indiana.

His first three years at Northern, starting in 1996, were especially hard with records of 1-10, 0-11, and 2-9. At one point, there were 23 losses in a row. I was beginning to wonder about him. But, he stayed the course. He wasn't just interested in good ball players. He wanted men who had high morals and who strove academically. It finally started to turn in 1999 with a 5-6 record.

The 2003 season was special. NIU knocked off Maryland and ALABAMA who were both ranked in the top 25 at the time, and then went on the defeat Iowa State. We made our first-ever appearance in the top 25 and eventually got to #12!!!

Then came those seven straight winning seasons and finishes in the top rungs of the MAC West.
2000- 6-5 Tied third
2001- 6-5 Tied first
2002- 8-4 Tied first
2003 10-2 Tied second
2004- 9-3 Tied first
2005- 7-5 Tied first
2006- 7-6

I hope Northern will be able to find a coach willing to commit to continuing Coach Novak's plan. I also hope we can find one who won't bolt to a bigger dog as soon as he has any success.

Enjoy That Retirement, Coach Joe. --RoadDog

At Least the Snowblower Works

I'm happy to report that the snow blower works.

I usually wait until the last minute to see if the snow blower works. This year was no different.

I went out to the gas station about 30 minutes after the snow started. I had to get a gallon of gas, $3.06- such a deal, and mix it with oil as I have a two-stroke engine (it was cheaper). If I ever have to get another snowblower, I'll spend the extra money and get one I only have to add gas. I am never quite sure what amount of oil to put in per gallon.

I had to wipe snow off the gas can before I could put the gas in, now that's waiting until the LAST minute.

Once home, I poured the gas in and tried unsuccessfully several times to start it. It has an electric start, but I can't find the cord. Then, I broke down and read the directions. I find that is a good move when all else fails. Oh, yes, I have to set the choke. Once I did, it started right up.

I Fear No Snow as Long as the Snowblower is Working. --RoadDog

Happy Dec. 1st --Snowstorm and Ice?

Liz said we had a big storm last Dec. 1st, about ten inches, but I wasn't here, just enjoying 75 degree weather down at Topsail Beach, NC. Unfortunately, this year, I'm here. Guess where I'd rather be? I'd say we have a two inch accumulation right now at 2:09.

They've been predicting this all week. Normally I find weather forecasts pretty accurate when they are calling for bad weather. It started snowing about 11:15 AM and immediately stuck to paved surfaces. It usually melts for awhile before doing the mean thing (sticking). It's supposed to turn to sleet and ice a little later.

Wouldn't it be great if snow would only fall on places that didn't need to be shoveled or driven on? Someone should pass a law or something. I know snowmobilers are getting all excited and expect to be hearing some in the not too distant future. We're located by several trails. In a fair world, they should have to clear off my driveway and sidewalks before they get to go out and enjoy themselves.

I'm not real fond of driving when the roads have snow on them.

Stuck in the House. --RoadDog

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It Was a Dismal Season

Northern Illinois' 2007 football season finally came to an end this last Saturday with a loss to Ball State. The Huskies' final record was 2-10.

I had figured this wasn't going to be a great season. Hey, last year wasn't that good either, but we did have a winning season and went to a bowl (even though we were hopelessly outclassed).

I figured we'd lose to Iowa and Wisconsin, and probably to Toledo, since we just can't beat those guys. By the third game, I knew this was going to be a long one.

Our excuse was injuries. I doubt that any other team has ever had as many injuries. We lost 12 players for the entire season and 13 others were out for multiple games.

Plus, Northern lost five games by a combined total of 17 points: 3, 2, 1, 4, and 7. Hey, that would have made us 7-5. There were only two blowouts: Wisconsin 44-3 and the worst of all, Toledo 70-21.

We did have a couple consolation prizes. A Northern rusher again cracked the 1000 yard mark, even though he was not the starter at the beginning of the season. Justin Anderson ran for 1,245 yards in 274 carries and 7 TDs. He made second team MAC (Mid-American Conference).

He follows talented NIU rushers Garrett Wolfe and Michael Turner, both of whom are playing in the NFL.

Defensive end Larry English won the MAC Vern Smith Leadership Award as the league's MVP. He led the MAC in sacks with 10.5, and also had 17 tackles for a loss of yardage and 67 overall.

This was our first losing season in 7 seasons, including the great 10-2 season in 2003 when Northern ranked as high as #12. This included wins over then-top 20 teams Maryland and Alabama as well as Iowa State. That was one great year, EVEN though we didn't go to a bowl game (thanks a lot Toledo).

Here's Hoping for a Better One Next Year. --RoadDog

Saturday, November 24, 2007

New TV Show to Watch: Eatin' Down the Road

Yesterday, I watched the "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives" marathon on the Food Channel. It is hosted by Gary Fieri who is quite a character.

He did one whole show featuring three places along Route 66. We've eaten at all three: Holland Burger in Victorville, Ca, Rock Cafe in Stroud, Ok, and Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs, Ks.

The Rock Cafe's owner was the inspiration for Sally the Porsche on the movie "Cars."

For more on these places:

I will definitely start watching this show. In January or February, he will be doing another show featuring Charlie Parker's, one of our favorite places to eat in Springfield, Illinois.

I don't know if I'd rather cruise down the road, or eat down the road.

Very Jealous of Gary Fieri's Job. Wait, I'm Retired. What Am I Saying? --RoadDog

Hey, Mom, Welcome to the Real Internet

Mom just might get on the internet today, and I'd like to be the first to welcome you. Make sure you thank Bob and Judy for getting that laptop for you, ESPECIALLY after all they went through. Hopefully Annsley and Julie taught you enough about using it to get you started.

No more Web TV for you, or excuses as to why you couldn't get something. Make sure to send along your new e-mail address.

My blogs: this one Civil War the road, history, and preservation.

No More Web-TV for Mom. --RoadDog

How Do You LikeYour Meat?

Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune ran an article about how people like their steaks cooked. For a source, they used Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse & Bar in downtown Chicago. They based the numbers on 80,522 steak orders. Of them:

3% Rare
31% Medium-rare
49% Medium
14% Medium-well
3% Well-done

I used to like mine done rare, but as I get older, I prefer Medium-rare.

I have a favorite place around here where I like to get a steak called Freddie's Roadhouse. On Mondays they have a special on a 10 ounce NY strip for $5.99. That's a great deal. Throw in two big scoops of mashed potatoes for 99 cents and an order of mushrooms for 50 cents and you've got a pretty good meal. However, their cooks are notorious for overcooking them, so I order it rare and hope for at least medium.

There is a story that in some parts of the South you can order your steak "Shermanized" which means it is essentially burnt. Some people just don't get over things!!  Some folks can't forget the Civil war, but Sherman and his hordes sure did burn a lot of Georgia back in 1864.

Gettin' Hungry Now for Some Reason. --RoadDog

Black Friday, I Didn't, But Bob Sure Did

Here it is, Saturday, and I am proud to report that I finally lived up to my promise and did not go to any stores yesterday.

However, my brother Bob is either a fool or the best son that a mother could ever wish for. He pulled himself out of a nice warm bed and stood out in the shivering 30 degree weather Friday morning to wait for the Goldsboro, NC, Staples to open. I should also mention that his wife, Judy, did as well. Their purpose, to get a great deal on a laptop for my mom, $700 marked down to $350.

Well, he got it and also got a case of laryngitis. It will probably cost him $350 to cure.

I Am Not a Worthy Dog/Son. --RoadDog

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Ship Hitting an Iceberg in 2007

Strange news today, bringing back thoughts of the ill-fated Titanic. The M/S Explorer hit an iceberg earlier today in the Antarctic Ocean and started sinking.

They were taking in water from a hole the size of a fist. About 150 passengers and crew boarded lifeboats and were picked up with no loss of life, fortunately.

Let's file this under things you wouldn't expect to hear in 2007.

I unsuccessfully tried to look up a list of ships sunk by icebergs. I did find out that in 1875, the schooner Caledonia hit one and sank off Newfoundland. All of the crew survived by climbing onto the iceberg and waiting to be rescued.

When Will They Make a Movie of It? --RoadDog

Love My TV Icons-- Part 2

Continuing with TV Land's Top 100 icons list. I'm picking out the ones I like.

78. Art Carney-- Ed Norton was absolutely hilarious on the "Honeymooners." Who can forget his "Hello...ball" address to the golf ball, the laying out of snacks as he watched Captain Video, and, of course, "poloponies."

77. James Garner-- always reminds me of Dad when I see him with both his sense of understated humor and looks. Plus, "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files" were favorite shows. Even if Angel wasn't on the list.

76. Candice Bergen-- Loved that "Murphy Brown." Who will be her secretary today? Then there was Eldon.

68. Don Cornelius-- "Soul Train" Great place to hear the music and watch the dancing.

67. Tom Selleck-- Another great understated humorist. "Magnum PI"

More to Come. --RoadDog

Well, It's 10:40 AM on Black Friday

It's 10:40 AM, and I have not yet been out to any store. Perhaps I will live up to my promise to myself not to go to the stores today.

But, there's still a lot of time.

As They Say, Time Will Tell. --RoadDog

Black Friday

An article in the Nov. 21st Chicago Tribune "Black Friday turning pale" by Sandra M. Jones

Black Friday is typically the busiest shopping day of the year. This year, foot traffic is expected to be 2.5% less than last year. Plus, retail sales for the past two months are disappointing.

Economic pressures like surging gas prices, higher prices in the grocery stores, the fall of home equity will be keeping a lot of people out of the stores.

Stores themselves are not doing themselves a favor as far as Black Friday is concerned. Many have been offering Black Friday promotions for weeks. You can also go online, order, and pick up your purchases. Two stores around here, northeast Illinois, K-Mart and Meijer's were open yesterday. Plus, Value City opened at midnight. Kohl's and JC Penney's had 4 AM openings this morning.

The first time I heard the term Black Friday, I thought it was a term connoting something bad, you know, the stock market fall, or something like that. I didn't know that it marks the day when retailers go from losing money to making a profit.

Let's Hope It's a Good Day for Retailers. --RoadDog

Perhaps the retailers are overdoing it a bit.

Americans Worrying About America-- RoadDog's News and Observation

A recent AP/Yahoo News poll shows that 77% of Americans are worrying about the state of affairs. With all this inflation and surging gas prices, only 30 % approve of the job the president is doing, and that number drops to 19% when it comes to Congress.

As far as political party alliance, 88% of the Democrats think the country is on the wrong track, That number with Republicans is 62%. A huge number oppose the war in Iraq.

I don't know about anyone else, but I can't see that Congress is taking any steps to alleviate or even address the oil problem. And I hold the Democrats to blame for that. I don't expect much help from Republicans on this issue. Democrats hold the majority in both houses. It is time to do something.

Time to Walk the Walk, Not Just Talk the Talk. --RoadDog

On $100 a Barrel Oil-- RoadDog's News and Observation

The Nov. 21st Chicago Tribune had an article about the impending $100-a-barrel oil. It says that investors at the New York Mercantile Exchange are fearful because of the declining value of the dollar, refinery problems, and the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates. Because of this, oil-bidding is just going up.

Crude oil for January delivery climbed to $99.29 a barrel on Tuesday, the day before.

Hey, guys, let's get it over with and hit your milestone today. Get it out of your system. Then rejoin the real world and let the prices come down. This is nothing short of ridiculous. Prices do NOT have to be this high.

Folks here in the US are being hurt badly by this whenever they go to the gas pump or buy groceries. Plus, we have the winter heating season facing us. We need a break.

Haven't you fellas made enough money on this grave situation? Exactly how MUCH do you NEED?

Certainly, you speculators at the NYME, have done enough damage to your fellow Americans and I'm not even going to talk about the aid you're giving our enemies as they rake in these oil profits.

In school, if a child can't play with others in the sandbox, we take them out of that sandbox. Perhaps it would be in everyone's best interest to close the oil futures part of the Mercantile Exchange for awhile until sanity returns.

Paying $3.07 here in Fox Lake, Illinois, now. Last year, I was paying $2.20!!! This is not your much ballyhooed "Summer Driving Season" excuse. It's almost WINTER, for crying out loud.

Come On, Give Us a Break!! --RoadDog

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Think I'll Sit Out Black Friday Tomorrow

For the past six years, I have gotten up early, by 5:30 AM and headed out for the annual battle with the hordes of bargain-hunters like me.

Each year, I swore that I wouldn't do it again, and then, the next day after Thanksgiving, there I'd be, right where I said I wouldn't be. Two things I really hate are crowds and above all else, lines.

Well, this year I'm planning on sleeping in. That is, UNLESS I see any REALLY good deals in today's paper, which I have yet to look at.

Then, there's dumb old me standing in a line and wondering why I did it again.

No Black Friday for Me. --RoadDog

Going to Visit Frances: Oops, My Mistake

In just a little bit, Liz and I will be going over to McHenry to visit Frances, Liz's mother, at the nursing home.

Last Saturday, I was visiting her and while helping to feed her, mentioned to an employee at the home that she was 92 years old after he inquired.

About two minutes later, I was quietly informed in no uncertain terms, that I was not to tell ANYONE how old she was. I didn't even know she was listening to me. She was always one to keep her age secret, but even at this time of her life, she means to keep to it.

Quite a Character, that Frances. --RoadDog

A Perfect Snow

Awoke this morning to an inch, or possibly a little more, of snow on the ground. Just enough for everything to look pristine, even though the grass is still green. Even more important, none of it stuck to the roads driveways, or sidewalks. Anytime it snows and I don't have to shovel or use the snow blower, that's alright with me.

On top of that, we have our first sun in several days. What is that bright stuff?

It is still on my evergreens, which makes for a beautiful sight.

Reckon I'll have to fire up the old snow blower if I can figure out how to mix the oil with the gas. Hopefully, I'll be able to afford the gas. Lousy speculators. I just buy a gallon though, which should get me through the season.

Over the River and Through the Woods. --RoadDog

Happy Thanksgiving

On this 386th anniversary of the "first" one back in Plymouth, New England, I'd like to wish everyone a happy.

Actually, there was a day of thanks in Virginia two years earlier, and who knows if the Lost Colony might ever had had one? The only difference was that the one by Jamestown , at the Bereley Plantation was a religious one, where a group of new-comers knealt in a prayer of thanks.

Also, this must be a great time for the three US towns named after the turkey. The most populous one is good ol' Turkey, Texas, with a bustling population of 429. I wonder if it has a high school. What would its name be: The Turkey Turkeys, The Turkey Gobblers, The Turkey, The Turkey National Birds?

By the way, when the search was on for a national bird, Benjamin Franklin suggested it be the turkey. Glad he didn't get his way on that one even if some of our politicians would appear....

More on Thanksgiving at

Gonna Get My Turkey, How About You? --RoadDog

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Love My TV Icons

This past Friday, TVLand, one of my wife Liz's favorite channels, had a two-hour special featuring TV's Top Fifty Icons. They picked these people as having the greatest impact on TV. They actually had a list of the Top 100. I checked out the bottom fifty and then chose my favorites from the list (by the way, if you go to the TV Land site, you can also make your own Top Fifty). Perhaps I will have to do this. Just off hand, I noticed they didn't include Lorne Greene.

My favorites:

#94 Melissa Gilbert--Half Pint, Laura, on "Little House on the the Prairie." One of my all-time favorite TV shows, even though some of my friends think it is stupid.

#91 Dennis Franz-- Loved him on "NYPD Blue" other than the naked shot of his rear, and "LA Law."

#88 Gavin MacLeod-- Murray on "Mary Tyler Moore Show" and Captain Stubbin on "The Love Boat." Just a regular guy.

#86 Jerry Mathers-- "Leave it to Beaver" back when a kid got into trouble, it wasn't for bringing weapons and guns to school. His buddy Whitey was the real bad guy. I also liked Wally and his parents.  I too shared a room with my  brother while growing up.

#83 Isabel Sanford-- Louisy on "The Jeffersons." Always admired her, and she had to put up with George.

#82 Ted Knight-- Ted on "Mary Tyler Moore Show." Despite his many flaws, you had to like the guy.

More Later. RoadDog