A Cuppa Hot Joe: TeaBagger Joe Walsh Melts Down, Yells “Don’t Blame The Banks…That Pisses Me Off”

Too funny. The wheels are coming off of Joe “Deadbeat Dad” Walsh’s bus. He’s not doing anything for the district, he’s been redistricted into a primary with another GOP Congressman, and he doesn’t deal well with critics. He prefers the “way to go, Joe!” sycophants on his Facebook page – there mostly fromfrom the Cro-Magnon Wing of the Republican Party.

I hope this teaches people in the district a lesson: “VOTE. Or the crazies win.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) met with some constituents in the Chicago suburb of Gurnee Sunday — and apparently didn’t like what some of them had to say about the role of big banks in the financial collapse.
The “Cup of Joe with Joe Walsh” event was held at an UNO Bar & Grill in the northern suburb, and “a number of topics were discussed,” according to Round Lake Area News. But, as ThinkProgress reported Tuesday, Walsh did not like when the conversation turned to big banks and their power within government. (Watch the conversation above)
After one attendee grilled Walsh about the lack of regulation which ultimately allowed banks to bet against their own customers, another pointed out the presence of bank lobbyists in Congress and other financial regulatory agencies.
Walsh cut off the man, and screamed at him: “Don’t blame the banks … that pisses me off” before telling the calm constituent that he was going to ask him to leave if he didn’t stop talking.

Link: Joe Walsh Meltdown: Screams At Constituents, Dont Blame Banks VIDEO – The Huffington Post

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Pay Cash For Your Cars – And Buy Used, Not New

This article reminded me of the time Mom dickered with a car dealer on a price for a car, got a firm quote (after discussing loan terms more favorable to the dealership than herself) and then pulled a wad of cash out of her purse to pay for the car on the spot. She meant to pay cash all along, as it was from an insurance settlement — she just wanted to string the guy along and see how low he’d go.

The suggestions in the article are pretty good; however what we’ve done with our vehicles is pay them off with a home equity loan that offered us a significant tax advantage. That strategy might not work for everyone, especially in these tougher times when you don’t want anything against the equity in your home unless you’re certain your savings and employment are rock-solid.

First, the insurance costs in the second scenario are lower as well. For those first five years, the person owns a used car which will have lower insurance costs than a new automobile.Second, considering used cars in your buying decision can save you money. When you run the numbers on your car purchase, always include used cars, particularly ones from model years with a good reputation. Sometimes, those cars can save you significant money over the long haul through insurance savings, plus they allow you to retain some of your cash savings for your next car purchase.Finally, having the money in the bank puts you in control. If you can buy the car in cash, you’re no longer worrying about your credit history or about whether a bank will offer you a good rate. You have your cash, you find the best deal, and you buy. Simple as that.

via Should you pay cash for cars? Yes! Here's the math to prove it. – CSMonitor.com.

Guck, Bucum, and Scrud

In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten pretty obsessed with the A&E reality show, “Hoarders,” which if you can get past the piles of junk, “treasures,” and poo, is compelling. In the season preview clip above, the newly famous Possum From Hoarders makes her (not his) daring leap for freedom after being poked with a stick. This little clip apparently kept the other obsessed fans talking all summer, but the actual appearance of the Awesome Possum did not disappoint; she hopped in a handy Pet Taxi and lit off for the bright lights of the big city. You can read all about her adventures on her Facebook fan page. Seriously, comic relief like this makes watching “Hoarders” bearable; otherwise it’s just one horror show after another. So fans focus on silly things like possumbombs and kitchen rakes to keep from shouting “NO, THROW IT OUT, THROW IT OUT, NO DON’T SAVE IT, IT’S GARBAGE” at their televisions.

Since then, I’ve been cleaning and organizing stuff pretty much every time I catch an episode, and today I’m cleaning out the guest room, which has been “the room where all the snorkel stuff is in the middle of the floor” for many months now. At the moment, the luggage and snorkel gear is now neatly stacked in the closet, which has been cleared for my guest, but after my lunch-tea-and-blogging break I need to get the freshly laundered sheets on the bed (fancy new dryer just beeped happily) and sweep the floor, vacuum, and damp mop with the wooden floor cleaner.

I already cleaned a lot of guck, bucum, and scrud in the kitchen, but there’s more to do. Definitions to follow…

Continue reading

Christmas Disasters | Padre Mickey’s Version

Padre Mickey tells the thrilling tale of one memorable Christmas, when a flaming dessert burned itself into the memories of everyone present (also the carpet, furniture, the kitchen floor) before being kicked back into the kitchen). He promises 2 more visitations of this memory, as recalled by other, saner heads. It’s a Rashomon Christmas! You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing: I nearly coughed up a lung laughing at it.

We had a wonderful meal; lots of good food, and the children opened presents, and oh, what a wonderful Christmas it was! Gramma Connie had prepared a lovely Plum Pudding (Gramma Connie can bake like nobody’s bizness!). And, as is normal with any foody and creative cook, she wanted the presentation To Be Perfect (we were all unaware of Martha Stewart, and quite happy about it, I might add!). Grampa Jim splashed some clear rum on the pudding. Gramma Connie splashed some clear rum on the pudding. Aunt Sally splashed some clear rum on the plum pudding. I don’t think any of them had discussed this rum-splashing with the others. Then, Gramma Connie artistically placed the holly on the pudding, Grampa Jim lit the rum, and, with it all flaming, our hostess, Aunt Sally, slowly walked into the living room carrying the pudding-laden platter into the living room while we all sang, Now bring us some figgy pudding, now bring us some figgy pudding, now bring us some . . .OH MY GOD!!!!

Via Padre Mickey’s Dance Party: Christmas Tales Of Padre’s Family: Rashomon Kurisumasu: The Flaming Pudding Toss.

I’m trying to think of a comparable Christmas Disaster from our own family’s collective memory; there’s photographic evidence somewhere of one from the last Christmas I spent “at home” with mom, before I got married. Mom was making a batch of “disappearing cookies,” which had to be started in a double boiler to melt butter and brown sugar together. She somehow bobbled the transfer of the stuff (I think she was bending down to retrieve something from the dishwasher, and knocked the bowl on herself from the counter) and was covered with warm, sticky, buttery goo. Fortunately, it wasn’t hot enough to burn, but it was in her hair, down her front, and all over the kitchen. She was laughing so hard she couldn’t talk. Scratch one batch of cookies.

This Is Not Your Father’s Little Red Wagon

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This is just WRONG. I had a red wagon that wasn’t a Radio Flyer, and I was always embarrassed because it wasn’t the classic square shape and brand. It was kind of a weird streamlined shape that was actually ideal for coasting down hills because you could sit in it and dangle your legs over the curved lip while steering.

This? It’s just too much. You can’t coast in this thing, it’s designed for a jogging or speed-walking parent to drag two little kids along on a workout. With tunes.

Safety belts? Cupholders? GAH!

But then, I did break my arm coasting downhill in my wagon… got run over by Billy Noel, who was speeding on his tricycle right behind me. Still, seat belts would not have prevented me from having to wear a cast when I started kindergarten.

Cupholders. Mp3 player. Good God.
Classic Radio Flyer wagon updated for 2.0 world – CNN.com

“We approached this product much like an automotive company might with a concept car,” said Mark Johnson, Radio Flyer’s product development manager.

Outfitted with 5-point safety harnesses, padded seats, cup holders, foot brakes and fold-out storage containers, the sleek, curved Cloud 9 has every family covered for a ride through the park. But that’s just for starters.

There’s a digital handle that tracks temperature, time, distance and speed — just in case energetic parents want to track their split times around the playground. And there’s a slot for an MP3 player, complete with speakers, for some cruising tunes.

That’s right: The little red wagon has gone 2.0.

Blogyear In Review

While putting off the task of adding a personal note to holiday cards that MUST! GO! OUT!, I decided to review My Year In Blogging.

January:

Today, at Holy Moly, we had some excitement too. I ended up staying for both services just because there was a rehearsal for the big day after the second service. There was lots of laughter, a little girl threw up in front of the choir, Pat Kalicki stood in for Bishop Katharine in the run-through wearing a paper bishop’s mitre, and there was lots of chaos and general anarchy.

Later on in February, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori visited Holy Moly. A good time was had by all and sundry.

Via My Week: Cold, Busy, Cold, Busy, Cold

February

One of the blessings of a “mixed” family heritage is that you get to eat comfort foods from more than one buffet line. Case in point: yesterday’s family confab and lunch nosh, which was held at Max’s Delicatessen in Skokie.

I knew going in that on a bitterly cold day, fighting a “bug” and trying not to cough too much, I needed lots of chicken soup, STAT. Probably with kreplach (dumplings) or matzoh balls (actually, one ginormous matzoh ball). But I’d never seen anything like the menu item under the various listings for chicken soup extras – underneath all of them, it said “Mish-Mosh Chicken Soup.” It was a lot more expensive, and my rudimentary knowledge of Yiddish told me it was a mixture or a little of everything. Good enough, and then I saw that the 1/2 soup, 1/2 sandwich option for lox and a toasted bagel included a note: “$3.50 extra for Mish-Mosh.”

Sold. I ordered. The waitress asked “Nova, or regular?” and I knew to answer “regular” because Nova Scotia lox is more expensive. David ordered mish-mosh for his half-and-half, too. My nephew Josh chuckled “Mish-mosh, it’s brutal.”

Presently, a tremendous bowl arrived, with all kinds of stuff sticking out of it. A giant matzoh, made with dill weed. A couple of kreplach, including some broken ones. A bunch of little bitty thin, flat noodles like the kind that come in Lipton’s dried onion soup mix, but longer and curlier. A ladlefull of rice. And finally, a whole bunch of loose crumbled corned beef, that must have falled out of yet more unseen broken kreplach.

Oh, man, was it good.

The lox and bagel arrived after a few minutes’ work on the soup. It was a disappointment, with two thin strips of lox, barely enough to put on each half of toasted bagel. I’m used to sandwich places that give you FOUR strips and CAPERS, but no. And the onions were the super-hot kind, not the mild sweet kind that goes better with smoked salmon and any kind of plain or savory cream cheese (I had plain).

But the soup more than made up for this deficiency of lox. I finished most of the solid stuff out of it and didn’t leave much liquid behind, either. MMM, yummy.

After we’d all mostly finished eating, the announcement to the family was made. Somebody will be going through chemo after surgery again. This was a surprise to a couple of people, and just at that moment, all kinds of service people descended on the table offering bills, more coffee, more new pickles, and offering to box up uneaten food. Argh! Go away! But it was the most convenient place to meet the busiest subset of the family, so that’s where we were instead of at one of our homes.

So we listened, and we pondered, and we offered help and casseroles, and expressed hope and love and support.

My mom-in-law Leah came through with flying colors and again sports a full head of hair. YAAAY!

Via Mish-Mosh of the Soul

March

My husband David and I – as he noted on his blog – were finally seduced by the Light Side, the Forces of Brightness, the White Lord of the Pith, the Core of All Good, etc. etc. We both got iPhones as we’d previously warned.

Stupidly, we went to Woodfield Mall yesterday, rather than driving to the brand new AT&T store on Algonquin in Rolling Meadows, which as of March 17th had 16G iPhones. The Apple store was out of the 16G’s and didn’t expect to get any for some time, so we shrugged and said “Okay, we’ll take the 8G phones, we won’t need the extra capacity, it was just a thought.”

We may yet have cause to regret this impetuousity.

Plus, this timely link:

You can have my iPhone… when you pry it from my cold, arthritic, obsessively clutching fingers.

Via We Drank The Kool-Aid

April

Wow. I still can’t believe that I had a chance to see the McDades at the Abbey Pub, a well known Chicago institution. And that my husband David and I got to see them gratis, a fact that makes me absurdly grateful and humble. Hell, this blogging gig is pretty cool if people contact you out of the blue and give you free stuff and invite you to all the best parties.

Okay, enough about that, I’m a mere amoeba on the Great Evolutionary Chain of Blogging Being.

The thing I REALLY can’t believe that there were only about 10 people at the show. I feel bad about this, because that means that at least 20% of the crowd was there for free. So the next day, I went to the The McDades – Music website and bought their latest CD, Bloom. No, I could have downloaded it from iTunes for less, or I could have gone to Borders and rooted around in the Celtic/World Music bins until I found it, but no. I freaking felt compelled to pay Canadian funds and Canadian shipping, because I felt terrible for the band and for their mom, who was nice enough to contact me in the first place.

Via The McDades at the Abbey Pub 22APR08

May

A selection of photos from our trip to Maine and Washington DC

I Heart Maine

Can I just say, I “heart” Maine?

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This looks like a nice place to stay, right?

Well, not exactly:

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It’s probably a bitch to get to in the winter, but you’d never have to worry about sightseeing rubberneckers trying to poke their noses into your business.

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Or maybe not.

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Local color, to better lure the tourists into the restaurant

After some more wandering, we decided to give Hyannisport a complete miss and found our way to a beautifully serene nature preserve dedicated to Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring.

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It was a nice walk in the woods, very quiet.

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Sunset

Boothbay Harbor at sunset

Via The East Coast Trip Part I

June

Perhaps the most telling endorsement of Obama is something I just heard an NPR “In Character” piece on Mr. Spock, the Classic Star Trek character played by Leonard Nimoy. After a discussion of Spock’s intriguing hidden qualities and his half-human, half-Vulcan heritage and how that translates to contemporary issues, we find out that Nimoy is an Obama supporter, too.

Actually, I bet someone’s already done a parody of the candidates as Star Trek characters. McCain would have to be late-stage Kirk, perhaps from one of the odd-numbered movies. Although I’m also tempted to see him as Commodore Matthew Decker

Ron Paul might make a good lesser commander, probably one of the insane ones with fanatical followers, like Capt. Ron Tracey.

Hillary Clinton? the best she could hope for is as a wannabe Janeway, in my opinion. She runs the ship, but doesn’t really get anywhere, is literally tossed around the galaxy by events beyond her control, is in permanent damage control mode, and everybody is relieved when it’s all over in a confusing jumble.

It seems I missed a bet on re-casting Kirk

Via I Am A Demographic Anomaly

July

My husband David and I are well on the way to fogeyhood: without consulting each other’s schedules, we made doctor’s appointments for the same day within 15 minutes. He’s up first, then me.

By way of illustration, I see the large-type Readers Digest has a relevant article.

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As you can see the Readers Digest large type edition has an article about the Things Your Doctor Isnt Telling You.

Via Officially Middle-Aged

August

“He who is tired of London is tired of life. “

We’re not tired of London, and are already plotting a return trip. But it’s time to move on to the Cotswolds for five nights and we won’t miss our cramped little hotel room near Paddington.

On Sunday, I made good on my threat to attend services at St Johns-Hyde Park. Met the Rev. Margaret Legg, who presided while the Vicar preached. Very diverse, progressive people – they’re looking forward to the Blessing of the Horses Sep 21, where the vicar will don cope and split cassock and bless the cavalcade (I believe there is a pub visit as well). Terrific young female soloist, plus a young man who played classical guitar.

Before church David and I walked in Hyde Park, with all the dogwalkers and riders on horseback. We paid several appendages to eat breakfast at the nearby Hilton. After I returned we headed out and wasted a lot of time on the Original Bus tour on a boat to Greenwich; took too long and the museum was closing by the time we got done with lunch and then had a terrible time getting back on the tube.

Also encountered: an old gentleman feeding his squirrel friends in St James Park, and a polite young Peruvian bear named Paddington, who we met at the station as we were leaving London. We gave him a lift and he now lives in Mt Vernon, IL with our niece Melissa. She calls him “PB” and is always fussing over him.

Via Horsies and Squirrels and Bears Oh My!

September

Flickr

The story on this image: David and I were doing something we rarely do – watching TV more or less “live”, and even more unusually, we were watching a network show and not bothering to zip through the commercials. This one came on for a product called Botox Cosmetic — with the tagline “it’s all about freedom of expression!” We had to pause the TiVo just to laugh. Apparently, the makers are quite proud of their product and address the troubling question of “Will I be able to make facial expressions after using Botox-Cosmetic?”

Yeah, right. Aaaaanyway.

My husband David said “there is something so wrong about a product ad that says “toxin.” I said “I thought botox gave you freedom FROM expressions.” As we looked at each other, we both made the same facial expression… the “I’m so blogging this” expression.
We both dove for a blogging appliance.

Via Botox: Freedom From Expression

October

Flickr

I have to say, early on it was a thrill, because I got to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden in the Presidential race at last. At last! Great God almighty… well, two more weeks until we know for sure. But I decided it would probably be inappropriate to burst into tears, song, or both, so I sucked it up and kept on voting. I was happy to vote for Sen. Durbin, who’s kind of been on fire the last two years what with suddenly being one of the highest ranking majority members and being able to get a lot more bills through committee and passed than ever before. And I voted for Bean, who’s done all right and also benefited by becoming a majority-party U.S. Representative in her second term.

There was definitely electricity in the air, though, and we overheard the village hall guy say that on Friday and Saturday, the first days of early voting, there was a wait of 35 minutes, with people out the door waiting to vote. Earlier today, I was reading about how Utah’s doing early voting, and today was the last day to register. So in Salt Lake, they had so many people show up that they set up a drive-thru outdoors, with extra staff deputized to hand applications to drivers, who filled them out in their cars (or on their motorcycles) and handed them back. A number of people then were able to vote early. A TON of people have been registered in Utah; many of them are Republicans who never bothered voting for the last decade because in Utah it was either a waste of time (Clinton) or safely in the bag (Bush).

But there are a lot of Democrats in Salt Lake, and Salt Lake County. Also not a few in the Park City area; I think that’s Summit County. They might be electing a few down-ticket candidates, else why would Hillary Clinton bother to show up for a couple of fundraisers in that reddest of red states?

And we pretty much know how that turned out, thank GOD. Also, Salt Lake County went (barely) for Obama. The Democrats in Utah are feeling good.

Via V is for Voted

November

Palin fakes admirably and fails irrevocably, trying to not let on that she has absolutely no clue who the people are that “Sarkozy” is raving about. She doesn’t even drop to it when “M. le President” notes that he can see Belgium from his ass. Sarah laughs uncomfortably, perhaps not wishing to embarrass the gentleman over his poor command of English idioms. Too bad Palin’s never bothered to glance in the direction of Canada from her bathroom window, or bone up on the name of its premier.

UPDATE: Okay, he may have said “from his ‘ouse” in his strong Quebecois accent, but it sounded like “ass,” same as what he made of Palin.

You get the impression that Sarah is listening for those dog-whistle phrases to which she knows the answers. She knows enough about Sarkozy to gush about his beautiful wife and family. And finally she is told she’s been pranked by the Masked Avengers comedy radio duo from Quebec. The background discussion between Palin and at least two aides after she repeats aloud “Ohhhh, we’ve been pranked… what radio station?” is worth the toe-curling agony of listening to Palin. At the very beginning, she can’t even take the call with aplomb, starting to talk to the prankster who’s playing the part of the aide to the French President. She bobbles her greeting and then hands the phone back to her aide, saying “I always do that!” before getting back on and saying “Hel-LO” to the fake French leader just like she did to the “aide.”

Funny stuff. I doubt they’ll have much success with Obama’s people.

Good times, eh?

Via Daily Kos: Palin Pranked AAAAAH!!!! SO FULL OF WIN

December

We went to the holiday party last night for David’s office. In recent years, it’s been an enjoyable enough affair, especially after they stopped booking the DJ nobody liked… but the experience we had was somewhat beyond our wildest expectations of a nice evening.

Meson Sabika was the setting, a large mansion in Naperville, which is one of the few Chicago suburbs with a sense of its own history. First settled in 1811, it’s set in gently rolling country, with a vibrant and architecturally appealing downtown, with public space and art everywhere. We drove down after work, and I was in my typically grumpy “I HATE GETTING DRESSED UP” frame of mind on the way. All that changed as soon as we walked in the door.

Via Meson Sabika Flamenco Holiday Party

The Feast of Saint Nicholas

St Nicholas is special to me. Not only do I attend a church named after him (he’s our “patronal saint” in liturgical churchspeak) but he’s indirectly responsible for my 20-year career in travel. As he’s the patron saint of children, sailors, and travelers, this seems more than mere coincidence. How’d this happen?

When I was still living in Eugene, I was drifting along at a dead end job after I left college, working at a dry cleaners. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or what I could do to improve my circumstances. More schooling seemed impossible; I had no more veterans’ or Social Security benefits left that paid tuition, and I’d pretty much wasted several years of my life goofing off and having fun, with no degree to show for it.

I’d become friendly with Eveline Elliot, a travel agent who worked down the street at the old Eugene Travel (which closed years ago). She was the person who got me started in the exciting and glamorous world of travel (oh brother) by hiring me to deliver tickets to her many clients on the University of Oregon campus. As a former student, I knew exactly how to find my way around the various office buildings on campus; I knew what “508 PLC” meant, where the building was, and that it was likely an English Lit. professor. After a short paid gig, I was asked to become an unpaid intern for 6 months, take all the free SABRE self-guided lessons in the computer system, and even travel to Dallas to American Airlines’ training center for weeklong classes, from the most basic to more advanced. The catch was the “unpaid” part, and since I didn’t wash out in the first month or two, they had a free employee with the understanding that if I got up to speed quickly enough, I might be offered a real job. Well, I couldn’t have gone 6 months without a paycheck, without Mom’s help. When I told her about it, she said it was no problem if it was what I really wanted. And my expenses were really, REALLY low: rent at the time was $125.00 a month, plus groceries and phone. Utilities were included.

As it happens, I got offered the paid position, but something had gone horribly wrong between h the owner of the agency and Eveline, and she was no longer working there (long story, owner was SO in the wrong: prison ensued on a later issue). But I was offered a better deal at another agency down the street because Eveline let them know I was available (an Apollo shop, so I had to totally re-learn some formats) and I was set for a year. Eventually, I got laid off from there (at Christmas, naturally; Eveline’s departure the year before was also at Christmas). More than a decade later, I was working in Seattle, not happy, and had met David, who lived in the Chicago suburbs. After a Christmastime trip with David to Colorado, I came home to the news that my employer was firing me (well, I really didn’t know what to do about that one big debit memo and put it off, can’t blame them). So I ended up working in travel here in the Chicago area, and now attend a church named after St Nicholas. It’s weird how it worked out that way. I just hope that my big job change (switching to another team sometime in the next week) is just another Christmas work-life development and not the harbinger of yet another holiday-time interruption in my continued employment in the industry. But I remain thankful for my job, which I suspect I may owe to the machinations of a Turkish saint who is very popular in Holland.

Eveline was Dutch, the seamstress at the dry cleaners was of Dutch extraction, and Eveline included me in her circle of friends. Eventually, this led to my participating in her annual Sinterklaas parties with other local friends. These were a lot of fun; the gifts could be quite modest, or even dug out of the trash and re-used, but they had to be elaborately wrapped and presented with a satirical poem that contained clues about the gift secreted somewhere inside the package, which could take any outlandish or mundane shape.

I remember Eveline one year had to work her way through a meticulously built cardboard steamer trunk, that opened on hinges and had little drawers and construction-paper clothes on hangers. It was lined with wrapping paper, and contained an itinerary that had the sprocket-holes along the sides just as the SABRE printers in her office produced for her clients. Eventually, she found something simple, like a luggage tag… that was the gift! Another year, an avid runner got a Nike running shoe, about the size of a breadbox. After reading the clues and taking it apart in the prescribed manner (there were several more installments of snarky poetry giving him clues) he eventually discovered a half-used tube of Shoe Goo.

You weren’t supposed to know who gave you the gift, and had to call out “Thank you, Sinterklaas!!” once you found your gift. Every now and then, someone would throw a handful of ginger nuts (also called pfeffernuessen)into the center of the group. This was to commemorate St Nicholas’ penchant for tossing gold and money bags through the windows of poor orphans and impoverished lovers.

Earlier today, I found the candy boxes from this years Fannie May fundraiser stacked on the front porch, dusted with snow. I knew UPS would be delivering it to the door, rather than to one of the St Nick’s parishioners, but I forgot to check the porch for it yesterday before the snow started. It should be fine, a little cold won’t harm fine chocolate. But as I brushed the snow off and brought it in, with David’s help, I couldn’t help calling out “Thank you, Saint Nicholas!”

From Benjamin Britten’s
St. Nicholas Cantata (1948):

Nicholas:
Across the tremendous bridge of sixteen hundred years
I come to stand in worship with you, as I stood
Among my faithful congregation long ago.

All who knelt beside me then are gone.
Their name is dust, their tombs are grass and clay,
Yet still their shining seed of Faith survives-

In you! it weathers time, it springs again
In you! With you it stands like forest oak
Or withers with the grasses underfoot.

Preserve the living Faith for which yours fathers fought!
For Faith was won by centuries of sacrifice
And many martyrs died that you might worship God.

Chorus:
Help us Lord! to find the hidden road
that leads from love to greater Love, from faith
To greater Faith, Strengthen us, O Lord!
Screw up our strength to serve Thee with simplicity.

Benjamin Britten’s St. Nicholas Cantata (1948) – The Saint Nicholas Center

Via Madpriest

Zenith | Well, that’s where they make ’em

Chicago Public Radio just broadcast an amazing documentary about the old Zenith manufacturing plant, which closed 10 years ago. They interviewed several former employees and intercut them in a really compelling, evocative way. I was transported to another time and place as I listened. Somehow, I managed to keep enough attention on the road to get home safely. You’ve got to hear this, because it’s not just people talking about where they used to work. They’re talking about who they used to be, and what this country used to do.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of a historic plant closure in Chicago’s western suburbs. For more than 3 decades the Zenith plant in Melrose Park turned out millions of picture tubes. Those tubes were installed in televisions and sent around the world under the slogan “the quality goes in before the name goes on.” But after years of struggle, the company decided to close the plant and lay off the last 1,200 workers making a living there. 10 years ago to the day, employees at the Zenith plant worked their last shift and said goodbye to the massive facility.

This is a documentary produced by Chicago Public Radio’s Ben Calhoun. He spoke to three Zenith employees about their time at the plant, what it meant to them, and their feelings about the decline of American manufacturing.

A few years ago Chicago photographer Ken Burkhart was asked to document the Zenith facility before it was demolished. He spent days exploring the plant with little more than floor plans and a spotlight. He found parts of the enormous building in disrepair and some rooms so intact they looked like they were still in use.

Via City Room™ – Metro – A Big Time Hurt: Zenith Closing 10 Years Later

30 years ago or more, I came to Chicago as a wide-eyed teenager by train from Utah with the rest of my high-school church youth group. We were from First Congregational Church in Salt Lake, and we were headed to Waukesha, Wisconsin for an annual meeting called NAPF. The organizers of the trip (youth leaders and so on) had arranged for us to spend the night in suburban Naperville after taking an overnight train to Chicago’s Union Station, and the pastor of the local Congregational church would pick us up, show us around a little, and then take us to the church for a sleepover. The next day, they put us on commuter trains to get into Union Station and then on up to Waukesha.

I don’t remember anything about Naperville, or the church. All I remember was a kind of giddy hysteria; none of us had slept, the train was hours late, and the pastor was unintentially hilarious. As he showed us around downtown Chicago, on foot, and then in his big old station wagon, he’d point at large buildings or industrial plants and declaim loudly “Hey! Have you ever heard of Florsheim Shoes? Well, that’s where they make ’em!” or “Kids! Do you ride a Schwinn bike? Well, that’s where they make ’em!”

We drove endlessly. The pastor was one of those “leadfoot stompers,” the kind of driver that’s always tromping on the gas or punching the brakes, sometimes in quickly alternating succession. We were so tired of traveling, we just leaned against each other in the back like sacks of potatoes, trying not to think about carsickness. Some of the boys leaned more purposefully and furtively on “their” girls. It had been a long night on the train.

At some point, giggling helplessly, we all looked dutifully as yet another large factory building was triumphantly pointed out. I remember seeing a big, familiar lightning-bolt logo. We all chanted along in the infuriating way that only teenagers can, when they think the adult in the car isn’t bright enough to know when they’re being mocked.

“Hey, kids, have you ever heard of Zenith Televisions? Well, that’s where they make ’em!!”

Teppanyaki Woo-Woo!

Oh, yeah! PvPonline! I used to read the strip a lot more consistently. I should try and get that set up in Google Reader, I had it when I was reading via Bloglines.

This reminds me of a wacky experience we had at our favorite sushi-teppanyaki joint, Kampai (which is conveniently located close to O’Hare, visitors stranded at the airport!). They have a very large location, with the floaty-boat sushi bar at the left hand end (with its own entrance) and the steakhouse/”hibachi place” restaurant at the right hand. They actually had two full-size dining rooms on the main restaurant side, one of which has now been converted over to a more expensive “Asian Fusion” style restaurant. But about 3 or 4 years ago, my husband David and I managed to eat in both dining rooms in the same evening.

Our friend Steve wasn’t with us for this memorable dining experience; it’s kind of become legendary in the telling and re-telling in our small circle of friends and it’s hard to separate fact from embroidery. But the gist was this: we decided to eat on the steakhouse side and were seated in due course. The restaurant had just done a big remodel on that end of the eatery, and it was all freshly redecorated and repainted, with fancy new fans over each cooking surface to deal with all the smoke and vapors that result from doing stir-fry on big, flat, hot cooktops. There were even silk flowers wound around the brand-new fire retardant-spraying nozzles situated at each corner of each table-sized griddle – and there were probably 8 or more full-size tables in the main room, each seating 8 people.

All the tables were full that night, with chefs cutting and slicing and making salt shakers go clackety-clackety, and doing the flaming volcano/smoking choo-choo trick. They were clearly competing with each other, showing off to see who could get their volcanoes to flame up higher and higher. And that’s where the problem lay, because they weren’t used to the new smoke units. Just because they were actually “hoodless,” without a low-hanging flange around the fans, didn’t mean that the fire-detection sensors were thus farther away from the surface of the cooktops. No, the new units must have been more sensitive, to make up for the increased distance between the peak of each Onion Volcano and the intake grille of the smoke fan.

Fwoosh! Fwoosh! The crowd was loving it at each table as the flames reached eyebrow-endangering heights. Several tables were at roughly the same point in the meal, so there was some serious competition, and the guests were egging them on with shouts, laughter, and yes, people overdoing the jocularity and making with the “woo-woo!”

Which is when the fire alarm went off.

And then the fire-retardant foam sprayed out of the delicately flowered nozzles from the table at Ground Zero, and from several of the other nearby tables around it. It went all over partially sliced, diced, grilled food, including some sad little Onion Volcanoes. And all over the unfortunate chefs, and their guests. Oh, calamity!

We were a couple of tables away, toward the door, so our foam-nozzles never went off, and we were just going through the “fried rice” part where the chef does the tricks with the egg on his spatula.

Everything stopped and we waited to see what would happen next. Nobody ran for the exits or anything, there was just this crowd sound that was a combination of dismay (people whose food and clothing got doused) and hilarity (people whose food and clothing were unscathed).

The fire department came, made us move outside for formality’s sake (it was darn cold) and then waved us back in when they determined there was no fire, once the smoke cleared.

The amazing thing was that the restaurant had enough room in the secondary dining room (which they used for overflow or catered parties, I guess) for everyone to pick up their drinks and move in (although the heat wasn’t turned up and it was really cold at first). The crew brought out fresh set-ups for everybody’s dinner orders and within about 10 or 15 minutes of moving over, the chefs were starting everybody’s dinners. Everyone got free drinks in the meantime. The manager, rather than tearing his hair out and firing the flamebug(s) on the spot, remained calm and philosophical, even laughing at the absurdity of his situation, as he had a huge mess to deal with in his brand-new main dining room. It was all very organized and there was very little chaos.

Everyone left smiling and talking about the experience, and I’m sure lots of people told their friends about how the new dining room at Kampai got… “seasoned.” So they probably made up for it within a week or so. And every time we go back, we make with the “woo-woo” and watch to see how high the volcano flames go.

Shriner Go-Karts: Unsafe At Any Size

4 people were injured when a large older man in a fez lost control of his tiny ’57 Chevy Bel-Air at a Fourth of July parade.

Okay, I’m making the assumption that the car was driven by a large older man in a fez, based on my vast experience with Shriners (my brother-in-law Frank is a member) and the headgear they wear at public events (I happen to know that lady Shriners have white fezzes, and have special travel cases for them when going to conventions).

Medinah Temple owns a golf resort in the area, but I don’t know if the membership consists mostly of older men – that’s the pattern I’m used to seeing from my days as a Job’s Daughter in Utah decades ago, where the local temple was called “El Kalah.”

Shriner loses control of go-kart, 4 paradegoers hurt — chicagotribune.com

Four spectators including two children were injured Friday after being struck by an out-of-control go-kart during a 4th of July parade in north suburban Niles.

Niles Police Sgt. Vince Genualdi said a 9-year-old girl watching the parade from the curb was struck by a go-kart decorated to look like a ’57 Chevy and driven by an unidentified Medinah Shriner.

The car then turned and struck three more spectators—a 64-year-old woman, 33-year-old man and 9-year-old girl—before landing in nearby shrubbery with the woman still on the hood of the vehicle, Genualdi said.

That’s too bad about the injuries, and I’m sure the gentleman driver feels just awful. Shriners are all about caring for kids and supporting the Shriners’ orthopedic hospitals and burn units, and I will bet you that everyone will get their medical care taken care of gratis. I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Salt Lake Shriners’ Hospital when I was a teenager, and had some unforgettable experiences working with some of the kids.

It sounds like the little car had a stuck accelerator, or maybe the steering went out and the driver had trouble with the controls.

On a recent trip to southern Illinois, we noticed a couple of vanloads of Shriners who stopped at the restaurant where we were eating breakfast – a typical highway interchange chain place called “Bob Evans.” How did we know they were Shriners? They weren’t wearing fezzes, but both vans had gaudy graphics on the side announcing the names of the temples, with the Shriner sword-and-crescent logo, from two different towns in nearby Southern states. So there must have been a Shriner convention going on somewhere, drawing grand poobahs from all over the region.

No little go-karts were in evidence, however.