Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Southern Travels

Hello, everybody!

A month ago I finally landed myself a job!  Just when it was starting to feel like I may be a statistic for another few months, I got myself a gig for which I get paid for driving across state lines!  For those of you who know me, you may recall that I have been bitching about needing a road trip for years now.  Ring any bells?  Well, now I get those road trips, and I'm getting paid for it!  I was more or less happy slinging pizzas, but that never really scratched the travel itch I've always seemed to have.  Those of you who know me well, also know that one thing that I really enjoy about traveling is trying the local foods as I go.  The small places.  The places the locals go, off the highways and bi-ways.  I will admit that the fact that I am driving a company box truck now, and I have timed deliveries, and I spend most of my time on said highways, I don't get to stop every place I'd like to.  I do, however, have time between runs to seek out new lights, and new travelers stations, and to boldly eat where others have eaten before!  Ummm, yeah, couldn't help myself...

Last week I was in a small town in southern Alabama, south of Montgomery by about 70 miles.  I got to my destination just past noon, and I asked the guy who signed the paperwork if he knew where I could get some good barbeque for lunch.  He told me he knew a place, and gave me simple, yet effective directions.  When I got to the place, I saw that they had a drive-thru, I thought to myself 'What kind of bbq place has a drive-thru?'  But being hungry, and the smell coming out of the building made me stop questioning myself, and find a place to park.  As I pulled my truck around back, I saw something that cinched the deal, so I parked.  I would like to give you a traveling tip now.  If you are driving along, and you like good, slow cooked meats, and you see something like this, stop to eat!

Seriously, do it.  My first attempt at getting good smoked foods was thwarted by my nemesis, road construction.  But this time around, I got to eat!  And eat I did.  The name of this place is Hooks, and I wish I had more pictures of this place, but I didn't bring my camera in with me.  Not being a t.v. travel show host, I don't really feel that I should.  It was a cool little local place, with a southern country feel, and as I was in the south, in the country, that seemed okay.  Their menu selection consisted of pork, and some more pork, and they just introduced the hamburger (don't ask me why).  I couldn't decide between the pulled pork sandwich or the ribs.  Upon asking, I was told to go with the ribs, and I am happy to say that I did.  They were, well, incredibly good!  I got coleslaw, sweet potato fries, and a Pepsi.  It also came with a piece of bread, and what they called cake.  The cake was similar in texture to pound cake, but tasted more like corn bread.  It was good too.  All this came to $10, and it was a great way to spend that! 

Okay, I am done playing food critic wannabe.  In other news, something happened to me twice, last week.  Something that hasn't happened much in the last few years.  I got pulled over!  Once, in Detroit, because I was making a delivery at 1:30 a.m..  Yes, that's right.  I was told that I was pulled over because they don't normally see delivery drivers at that time of day.  I then came to find out that there had been a shooter in Detroit, that had shot 24 cars, a couple of people, including one guy who was shot in the ass while driving.  How crappy is that???  The guy was caught the same night I was in town, so that's good.  And no, it wasn't me.  The second time I got pulled over was in Tennessee, while going down a mountain, doing 79 in a 70 mph zone.  That highway patrol man was nice, but I did get searched for drugs, weapons, and any other contraband.  None was found, as I'm not a mule, or a runner, or a smuggler, or anything that might allow a cop to find contraband in my vehicle.  He let me go, with nothing but the universal hand gesture to slow down.  Then I complimented him on his speed trap location, and he told me that he liked it too, and he had just found it a couple of days before.  I found this amusing mainly because I wasn't being arrested, or ticketed.

That's all for now, folks.  I hope everyone is doing well, and that you're all finding time to spend with friends, and enjoying some good eats, and still laughing!  Until next time, peace out, y'all!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Work, Animals, and a Boat!

Hello, all!  I know, I know, it's been a long time again.  I would tell you that nothing much has happened since my last posting, but then I'd be lying, and I'd have to flog myself.  I am not much a fan of such activities, so I won't lie.  The nut of it is that I still don't have a good writing space, and I still live with my P's, so I haven't been in much of a mood to blog.  It's not writers block, it's lifers block (yes, I still make up words.)  As of a couple of weeks ago, I finally got something I felt was worth blogging about, and I will now get to it.

First, a study of man.  So I am not a trained anthropologist, sue me.  I am a bit of an observer though.  One thing I have observed for well over a decade now, is that people seem to have this nagging urge to inform me that I have a deeper than average voice.  Most commonly it's along the lines of 'you should be on the radio!', or 'you should learn how to sing' (which I already do, but they need not know that), or simply 'dude, you have a really deep voice!'.  As though I've never heard any of that before, ever.  That changed during a temp job I worked for a couple of weeks, at a factory.  During the two weeks I worked ten hour shifts, doing a job that a chimpanzee could do.  Oddly, nobody offered me any bananas, or bamboo, or a rope swing, or any bugs.  I found that to be a bit rude.  What I found slightly more strange was that nobody mentioned my voice.  Not even once.  I heard it a couple of times on the weekends, but never at work.  This was a very odd thing to me.  So after the first few days, I started trying to figure out why this might be.  I came to a plausible theory.  It is possible that people working in a factory  have lost their own dreams.  Not their weekend warrior dreams, but more the loftier ones like 'I've got to get myself a better job for myself' dream.  In losing such dreams, perhaps they stop seeing the potential of others around them.  I watched everybody rushing around, and there seemed no spark of life in their eyes.  The only people who had that flash were the people who worked first shift, in the offices, where there was ample air conditioning, and no scent of sweaty workers, hot paper, and potent glues to suck the life out of them.  The office personnel also had no worries about one thing the factory workers had looming over their heads.  Mind you, that I was employed there for two weeks by a staffing agency, and though I was offered full time employment I turned it down.  And I'll tell you why.  At the end of week one, I was standing by the time clock, waiting for a minute to clock out.  I took notice of the glass encased bulletin board, and the contents within.  One document caught my eye, and I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I wasn't seeing things.  In short, it was a memorandum to all floor employees, that informed them that if they were ever offered a promotion to a different area, and turned it down, they would have their shift changed, and be fully demoted to the bottom of the production line, losing any seniority in the process.  That did not sit well with me, and I'm guessing it doesn't sit well with you either.  Feel free to re-read that bit, and notice the word "offered".  Well if it's a choice, why would you be punished by making a choice?  I've been offered promotions before, and turned them down for any myriad of reasons, yet I have never be demoted for turning one down.  Have you?

So, on to slightly less craptacular topics.  I dusted off my digital camera, and took some pictures in the last few months.  I figure I will share a couple of those, in case anybody is still checking this blog, and misses the pictures.  A couple of months ago, we had some lovely flooding from a torrent of rain, mixed with inadequate culverts, and soils that are mainly heavily iron laced clay and rocks about two inches below the top soil.  I found a local duck (who seems to have lost his woman sometime over the winter) who seemed pretty stoked to have a new body of water to wade in.


About two days later, I was out in the driveway after the waters had receded a bit.  I spotted something near the end of the driveway that looked like a piece of washed up debris.  I walked over the pick it up, and was shocked to find out that it was a living thing, not a piece of trash.  So I went inside to grab my camera, and this is what I found:

I have no idea what happened to this little guy.  I got him to the culvert, so that he wouldn't get run over by any car coming into the driveway.  However, we have an couple of owls in the neighbourhood, as well as some hawks, and ravens.  So he may have become a snack.  I looked around for mother turtle, but could not locate one.  Speaking of owls, I built my mom an owl house last summer, and over the winter, we finally got a resident.  Want proof?  Well here you go:

I would have liked to get pictures with its eyes open, but this owl didn't seem to like the mid afternoon sun in Northeast Wisconsin.

Back in January, I did something I'd never been able to do before!  I became the pinball champion score holder on a Family Guy Pinball machine, at my old place of employment, Glass Nickel Pizza Co..  Not once, but twice!

Since then, I have lost my champion status, and now reside as first and second place holder.  This is because, Jon, the owner, and my former boss, beat my score by a measly 2 million points.  Now, of course, in the kind of manner that seems to follow me in life, the machine is not in fully operational order, and it's damn near impossible to get a score above one million.  Oh well.

In much more recent events, I helped out with something really fracking cool, if I do say so myself!  I helped to build a boat!  But not just any old boat, a beer can regatta!  Okay, so ours was made out of pop cans, as at Glass Nickel Pizza Oshkosh, we have no beer in cans, tap or bottle only.  It was made by volunteers, a couple of us, and we were supplied food and beer for our services.  Food and beer as payment?  Hell yeah.  The only thing to top that would be room to go with the boarding, but I'll take food and beer any time.  After several hours sitting in a garage, taping cans together with a deluge of tape, and the first time we put it in the water to make sure it floated (the neighbour let us use his pool, how cool is that?), and then taping of countless more cans, we ended up with a finished product.  There was an opening night party, with music and other festivities.  The next day was the big race.  It was on the Oshkosh River, and not only is there a north flowing current, yes, north flowing, but the river is used by many other full sized fibreglass boats and yachts.  The between the current, and the wakes from rude boaters, the race was quite successful.

The race, called the Ya Gotta Regatta, was set up as a bracket style race.  It took several hours to complete.  Our team was made up of a group of totally inexperienced rowers.  They did manage to kick some royal ass in their first two races, but then, being unpracticed, and inexperienced rowers, they hit the wall.  However, our team did end up taking 4th out of 12, which is pretty darn awesome!  The let down came at the trophy ceremony, in which ten trophies were awarded, and we didn't get one.  This wouldn't have been all bad except for one little thing.  One team had built a boat that failed them in race one, and they nearly sank, and didn't even finish the race.  Somehow, they ended up with the best sportsmanship award!  How does that work???  What can we do though?  In the mantra of a true Cubs fan, I can only say that there is always next year!  And yes, designs for next years boat have already commenced.  It has also been rumored that this was the first event of its kind in America.  This event was started in Australia.  I know there are several amature boat builder races across this land, but as far as a 12 boat fleet made out of beer cans, I don't recall ever hearing of such a thing before.

That's what I have to share for now.  I hope you enjoyed my first blog in many many months, and a several full moons.  As always, I hope you are all doing well.  Don't forget to have some good times with your friends, some good laughs, some good eats, and if you partake, some good drinks!  Until I find my way back here again, peace out y'all!