April 2006

I travel backroads quite often. There are virtually no cops or traffic, and the scenery is almost always better than that seen from an interstate. This past October we were driving around Cadillac, MI and decided to hunt down an old cemetery for some genealogy research. The route took us on some serious backroads. I’m talking no-pavement-lotsa-dirt backroads here. I had just acquired a Bluetooth GPS receiver, so I was game for some “let’s get lost” backroad fun. We found the cemetery easily, but what was more amazing was the incredible scenery. The foliage was almost at peak and the cornfields had yet to be harvested. Here’s the result.


So next time you’re out and about, get off the interstate and check out some backroads. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you may find.

The site tracking gizmo I have running on this site keeps track of referring pages, and when that page is Google, it keeps track of the search terms used. Figuring out why certain search terms lead people to my little corner of the internet has become an amusing and interesting diversion. To wit:

the toolshed restaurant in illinois  – Ok, I can see this one. In my “review” of Gunner Buc’s, I referred to the tool shed atmosphere there. Close enough. Maybe my lauding GB’s burgers will bring them some business.

historical importance of the measels  – This one caught me by surprise, especially since my site turned up on the first Google page. But after some quick investigation, I found that I had inadvertently misspelled measles and missed that faux pas on review of my post. As the person running the Google search also misspelled it, the match was easy. There just aren’t that many sites misspelling “measles” I guess.

champaign run bmw –  Hmm, I’d love to know what this person was looking for with these terms. Even more interesting is that this person is from the UK. I’m tempted to believe he/she meant Champagne, although that still doesn’t make any more sense overall, unless he was thinking about running his BMW on bubbly. 🙂

The other aspect of this is how dependent we’ve become on search engines. How did we ever get along without them? And you’d think with all this knowledge available at the tap of a few keys, we’d all be geniuses by now. Not so much, eh?

Ask a hundred people what their idea of a classic, ageless car design is and you’ll likely get a variety of unique answers, most of which would make perfect sense. The early Mustangs and Corvettes would certainly qualify, as would the ‘57 Chevy and T-Bird, the Jaguar XKE, and any of a dozen other great cars. But if you ask me, the greatest car design of all time is the BMW E24 6 Series. This car just has all the right stuff. It looks aggressive, yet sophisticated. It’s instantly recognizable and its appearance was changed very little from the start of its 14 year run in 1976 until the last model rolled off the line in 1989. Having owned a 633 CSi while stationed in Germany, I can attest to the incredible power and agility of this car. Its nickname was “Autobahn airplane” for good reason; driving it felt like flying a jet fighter. At its top speed of 149 MPH, this car was as stable as granite. It could stop on a dime and change directions without hesitation. And always it turned heads. But don’t take it from me. Judge for yourself. Is this a beautiful machine, or what? I just wish it were mine.

BMW 635

I’m a big fan of Wine Spectator, both the magazine and the web site. I enjoy wine immensely and I enjoy reading about famous restaurants and the various cutting edge meals being prepared in them. I’ve been to a few really good restaurants in my time and have had some outstanding meals. But the stature of a restaurant needn’t always be rated by stars in a guide book or the pedigree of the chefs. Case in point, Gunner Buc’s in Mattoon, Illinois. By anyone’s standard it would be considered a “hole in the wall.” It’s a sports bar with the atmosphere of a tool shed. It sits along a main road surrounded by soybean fields and natural gas pumps. You order your meal at the grill and then find a seat. You must order something to drink with dinner, be it a soda or a beer.  You can hardly look in any direction without seeing sports on a TV, unless you’re looking at the bar or the wall of slot machines. But, atmosphere aside, Gunner Buc’s makes the best damn hamburgers you’ve ever eaten. I’ve had burgers all over the world, and none can match the burgers at Gunner Buc’s. Just goes to prove that you don’t need to look in a high-end cuisine guide to find memorable food. Sometimes you just need to head down to the corner bar.

Germans really know how to have fun. Until you’ve been to a beerfest, you just can’t fathom how much fun they are. Even if you don’t like beer, the atmosphere is contagious. You cannot help but have fun. 🙂

Ever look back at a period in your life and think, “That was a great time. Wish I’d known it then”? The trouble is, you never know a “great time” when it’s happening. You take life as it comes and often fail to appreciate just how good it is. The opposite is true of bad times. Very often, bad times seem much worse as they’re happening than they do in hindsight. You always know a bad time when it is happening and you rarely want to remember it later.

I think this is all because the good times are never 100% good, and the bad times aren’t all bad. It’s the percentage of one over the other that places the period in one camp or the other. I remember times when I was stationed in Germany that I consider very good times now. Yet if I really think about it, I can certainly pull up some bad memories mixed in with the good. Likewise for the bad times in my life. There are a few good memories to be mined there as well.

“Lost time” is another one of those things that slip by unnoticed, yet always stand out in hindsight. I think of all the chances I had to get something done or accomplish some goal which would be beneficial to me now. Yet at the time, it didn’t seem so important to do anything differently, or it seemed there’d be plenty of time to do it later. Either way, the time slipped by and was lost.

I guess this is all a part of growing older. You reach a point in your life when you have less ahead than you have behind, although I’d like to hope that I’m still at the mid-point. And maybe it’s the desire to have more good and productive times in the second half of my life that’s prompting this line of thought. I just hope I recognize them when they’re happening.

I finally got around to reading it. My wife’s library got a bunch of the paperbacks in, so she grabbed one for me. Pretty good yarn, although I wasn’t thrilled with Brown’s writing style. Too many of his very short chapters ended in a mini-cliffhanger. That got old. And his name dropping of Zimmerman and Schneier as crytpographers of historical note was a bit far-fetched and may even have been an inside joke. But it is his book and he can do want he wants.

All in all I’d say it was a good story, but seeing as the book is a work of fiction and was meant to be so, I don’t understand all the hubbub surrounding it. The world didn’t end and the Catholic Church is doing a fine job of destroying its own reputation with no help at all from this book. At least part of the success of this book is owed to the attempt at negative publicity by people who should have had much bigger things to worry about.

Max and Tortie are brother and sister. Best friends, too.

Max and Tortie

It’s good when it’s hot and it’s good on ice. The only time it’s bad is when it’s weak or burnt. It’s ok to drink it at any time of day, too. Pretty close to the perfect drink. 🙂

…because sunrises are really spectacular.



And Nürnberg, Germany.


Glad we have webcams to record such things. 🙂

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