Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's All About Number Ten

I've been blogging for nearly two years now and I cannot believe that in all this time I've said practically NOTHING about the best soup on the planet and my favorite restaurant. Perhaps I did and just never bothered to give it a proper label so I could look it up. Anyway, you all need to know about Sawasdee in Indianapolis (corner of 86th Street and Ditch for those of you that want to give it a visit). Sawasdee means, "hello" in Thai.

My brothers-in-law and I or my friend Brian and I typically visit this place for lunch during work. Everything on the lunch menu is delicious and they even spell "lunch" correctly on the menu, unlike Thai Castle in Carmel, Indiana (also a good Thai place, but nothing comes close to Sawasdee--NOTHING!!!!!). But there is one thing on the menu that we almost always get. Other places in the Indy metro area and in other towns have their own version of it, but nothing comes close. In some circles, this dish is known as "Thai Noodle Soup". At Sawasdee, it's known as "Number 10" because it's the 10th and last item on the lunch menu.

I don't need to see a menu when I go to Sawasdee. I don't even need to order. The waitress (who is a member of the family that owns the establishment) looks at me and says, "Numma tehn, medium wit two spring rolls," and I nod in agreement. What makes this soup so good? Why can't other restaurants match it's complexity of flavors? Here are just some of the things that we know are in the soup:

  • white chicken
  • shrimp balls (don't even go there--you know what I mean)
  • hot pepper flakes
  • ground peanut (at one point spelled "penut" on the menu)
  • chives
  • cilantro
  • thin rice noodles
  • bean sprouts
The broth is at least partially chicken based. Based on what I've read about Thai food it is probably fish based as well. There's a sweet, sour and spiciness in this dish that is like nothing else I've tasted--and it's inexpensive (about $7.50 with two spring rolls and a slice of fruit to cleanse your pallet). What else could be in there?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bears Attacking Nationally

If you read my "When Grizzly Bears Attack" entry the other day, you know that it's important for business professionals to be on the lookout for bears in the office. Apparently, this is not exclusive to my office or even my part of the country (Indiana is known for Grizzly bears).

I got my copy of Information Week today and look what was on the cover...

...No, I'm not making that up. Bears are in your IT departments and I guess that the new thing to do is stare them down.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Price of Oil and Vacations

Just about every year our family ventures down to southern Indiana to attend the Holiday World/Splashin' Safari amusement and water park in Santa Claus, Indiana. That's right. It's located in Santa Claus, Indiana. In fact, the park used to be called "Santa Claus Land". I know that some of you Big Doofus readers are familiar with this place. It's an awesome park that's very family friendly. They have world-class rides and the water park is first rate.

But instead of spending all of our money on park tickets and gas, we decided to stay close to home this year. I'm sure that the kids will not let us get away with this every year, but it was great in '08. We visited the Plainfield Aquatic Center only ten minutes from our house. Sure, it's no Splashin' Safari, but the pools were huge with three cool slides, diving boards, indoor basketball and games, etc. If we lived in the city limits of Plainfield, we would have saved a few more bucks. But everyone had a blast with the exception of my 14 year old boy (and that was his own choosing).

We left the park at 4:30 and headed to downtown Indy for dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. When I first moved to Indy in 1991 this was about the only restaurant destination downtown. That's all different now with downtown being so incredibly vibrant, but The Old Spaghetti Factory is a nice, affordable place to eat. We had a reservation for all 16 of us so we didn't even have to wait for our table--perfect. I walked out to the waiting area for a bit and got to hold my youngest nephew for a few minutes while his daddy visited the bathroom. That's where this picture was taken. He's a very mommy-attached boy, so you take ANY opportunity you can get to bond with him--and I think we did that a bit. He was either REALLY interested in me here or just cannot get over my weird beard or big nose.

We ended the evening with the 10:00 pm showing of WALL-E. Yes, that's a very late time to start a movie, but we all managed to stay awake through most of it. I'd seen it already and loved it the second time (and didn't feel guilty about dozing off for five to ten minutes in the middle). You should all go out and see this movie. It's great for so many reasons, but I'll spare getting into it as it was covered very well by Timothy Power in his "Sometimes I'm Actually Coherent" blog (one of my new favorites along with Arby's Archives).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another TDJ

Here's another TDJ entry from ten years ago today...

July 27, 1998
I just remembered my locker combination from my senior year in high school! Isn't it amazing how our minds work like that? It was something like 22-something-something, I think. Wait, I know there was a 2 in it. It may not have been 22. Man, that's amazing.

Hey, it's Sunday and I cannot think of anything creative to come up with today. Besides, this was perfectly fine in 1998 when we had three readers. These days, I'm almost certain that I have four, sometimes five readers and only two of them used to write on TDJ.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

TDJ - Ten Years Ago

Here's a TDJ entry from ten years ago today...

July 26, 1998
My church is currently between pastors for the first time in eighteen years. The guy who preached today did a pretty good job, although I'm not sure that colonic irrigation is really prescribed in the book of Philemon. At least it was a refreshing alternative to communion.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Zucchini Conspiracy

I've been thinking about this for years now and I'm totally convinced that there is a ZUCCHINI CONSPIRACY in our country. It all goes back to when I was a kid and my parents started growing this strange green squash in our garden. I could appreciate everything else that we grew: corn, tomatoes, peppers, even the cabbage. All of these items had a purpose in the culinary world or served as terrific compliments to other ingredients. But based on the recipes that my mom used to incorporate these strange "cucumbers on steroids" they seemed to have no real purpose of their own.

We didn't eat a bowl of zucchini or baked zucchini or fried zucchini. And you never walked out to the garden to grab a zucchini to eat right off the vine (or plant--whatever it is). We had zucchini bread, zucchini cookies, zucchini meatloaf, zucchini this or that. In all of these dishes the zucchini never served the role of adding flavor or zest. It always played the role of a filler (sort of like lips and "you-know-whats" in a hot dog).

By the looks of 99% of the zucchini recipes I've seen, you could substitute just about any soft, flavorless vegetable, fruit or sponge for the zucchini and get the same result. Take the zucchini out of zucchini bread and do you know what you have? Great tasting bread. Take the zucchini out of zucchini cookies and what do you have left? Tasty cookies! What's a zucchini meatball without zucchini? The perfect spaghetti topper! Do I need to go on? It's the ZUCCHINI CONSPIRACY, folks. There's a group of zucchini seed sales big-wigs that are pawning off this vegetable to us by convincing Americans to cook with it in the most useless ways.

This is not to say that the zucchini shouldn't have a place in our gardens and kitchens. First off, they make great gag gifts for the neighbors. Fill your entire back yard with the plants and just keep giving away grocery bags loaded with them. They're never refused (because that would be rude, right). Most Americans don't want to throw away perfectly good "food" so they come up with ways to use them--and this is how all of those recipes get started. It's crazy!

So, I ask you, "What's next?"

Ten Years of TDJ!!!

I cannot believe that I missed a very special anniversary last month. Sure, I'm getting ready to attend (maybe) my 20 Year High School Reunion in a month, I've been married for nearly 16 years, my wife is turning [insert number here] in a few months, but this is important! Last month was the anniversary of The Daily Journal.

The Daily Journal was a blog before blogs were even invented by Al Gore. Back in 1998 my friend Jason (of Uvulapie and His Amazing Hillbillies) started up The Daily Journal (also known as TDJ) as a way to make fun of a few of the journaling sites that we had seen online. Back in those days, you did everything in HTML or you had some annoying web editing software like FrontPage to make your pages look sassy. It was old school Internets, baby. A few days later I joined in on the fun and some time after that Scott (of Java Jesus) became a regular contributor. We carried on this exercise in futility for about 8 years (although the last two were hit and miss and at one time we even tried to convert TDJ into a blog).

The good news is that it's still there. You can go back and read the old posts any time you like. Every so often I'll post an old entry on my blog and I plan on doing that more often. Why should I waste all of that creative energy when I could just steal something from the past so I can spend more time on the Oprah Forum.

For the life of me I cannot find the entry that goes with this picture (help me, Jason), but I thought I'd share it in light of yesterday's post about grizzly bear attacks...

Jason came up with this--based on an actual graph that he only modified slightly. It's subtle and yet it still manages to hit you in the face at the same time.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When Grizzly Bears Attack

There seems to be a lot of interest in grizzly bears these days. For some unknown reason, there has been a rash of attacks on humans--specifically bikers who are huffing it through scenic roads and trails in the western part of our country.

So, it's probably a good idea to make sure that you know what to do to keep yourself safe from grizzly bear attacks (and all bear attacks, for that matter). You might want to mosey on over to this short test to see how you do.

As for me, I didn't do so well. I got the first two questions right and then I stepped out of my office. While I was making my way back to my desk by way of the reception area, I was surprised by an office grizzly. You never know when one of these is going to jump out of a cubicle or break room and try to eat you.

Let me know how you all do on that test.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Little Girls Club

As I write this there are four little neighborhood girls in my house playing with my youngest daughter. We sometimes refer to this as "The Little Girls Club." It can get very loud and I have to admit that I was looking forward to having some quiet time to write, read and play guitar, but I realize that this is the right thing to do. Being hospitable extends beyond the people that I might invite over to hang out. Plus, it's good to know that she's here in my house where I know what goes on. I don't have to worry about what other parents may allow in their house.

Can I get sued if they get hurt jumping off my roof as long as I put my beer down when I try to catch them? Of course I'm kidding. I can catch them fine with one hand. :)

But seriously, this is some LOUD stuff. There's also a lot of moving around. It's almost running, so I'm closely monitoring it. And I admit, I just put headphones on. That helped a lot.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stuff We Gloss Over in Sports

If you know me or have read my blog for a while you know that I'm a big sports fan with a passion for the Indianapolis Colts, IndyCar racing, the Indiana Pacers, Indiana University football and basketball and the Cincinnati Reds. I also follow just about everything.

Even though I cannot make contact with a golf ball (which makes playing the game difficult, if not impossible), I still follow the game--especially when it comes to the majors*. Just a few days ago, Greg Norman made an impressive run at the British Open. At 53 years old, "The Shark" nearly pulled off one for the ages (pun intended--thank you) but had to settle for third place. However, even a third place finish in a major is quite an accomplishment at his age--considering the fact that he's been off the golf radar for quite a few years.

By his side the entire time was his new wife Chris Evert. Chris is a former tennis star and current commentator for tennis tv broadcasts. She's won a few majors of her own in her respective sport. As you can imagine, the press was really eating this story up: an aged pro trying to do what no man has done before with his beautiful new wife and former tennis star at his side. The two were inseparable in their love for each other.

But, as with most second or third marriages, there's more to the story. You can read about it via this link or read it below:

Evert admits affair started Norman relationship

Story by Reid Cherner & Tom Weir of USA Today's "Game ON!"

Chris Evert finally has admitted what long has been rumored about her marriage to Greg Norman: That their relationship began with an affair while both still were wed to others.

In an interview with Vogue magazine, Evert says the attraction between the two "was like an irresistible force," and that attempts at counseling couldn't save their longtime marriages to former spouses Andy Mill and Laura Andrassy.

The tennis legend and Norman, who finished tied for third in the British Open yesterday, were married in the Bahamas in June. When they separated from their exes in 2006 both publicly maintained there were no third parties involved,

Evert also told Vogue they are considering living in Norman's native Australia, and that they've been inseparable.

"That's one thing I've learned, you've got to do things together," said Evert of beginning her third marriage. "We've both been very independent in our lives, even with our partners. He likes to be involved in every aspect of my life and I've never really had that before."

She also says Norman could have excelled in other sports: "I tell him he's too good an athlete to have been a golfer, because he can really move."
Do the private lives of these people matter? I think so. They are looked up to by golf and tennis enthusiasts and they are well known even out of these circles. I'm sure they are very happy together. That seems to be all that matters to people today. Is it good to be happy? Yes. But do we pursue our own selfish happiness at the expense of others? It seems like the world is telling us that the answer to that question today is, "YES!"

I have to admit, I was sucked into the Greg Norman story just like a lot of people and then I got to thinking about the people involved who have been hurt. I'm no better than Greg Norman or Chris Evert, but I think we need to call this what it is and not glorify it. Certainly these two have excelled in their athletic careers, but they have also let many people down in their selfishness. Statistics don't lie. The chances of this couple going the distance are slim. Since they've already broken up one ore more marriages, what's it going to hurt to let another one go when the time comes? Right?

I believe that we can find happiness where we are. More importantly, I think we can be content with what God has given us which will lead to something better than happiness:

10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
--Philippians 4:10-12

We all struggle with the pursuit of happiness because we're born with it and it's taught in our world. Paul tells us that the key to breaking free from it is LEARNING to be content. This implies that we will be faced with times when we are tempted:

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
--1 Corinthians 10:12-14

I feel like I just preached a sermon. If you read this far, thanks for sticking with it. If you're married, tell your spouse how much you love him/her and that you'll never leave their side.

*Ok non-sports fans. This is just for you. Finally, you'll know what others are talking about when they say, "You know, that so-and-so is a great golfer, but he's never won a major." In golf, there are four BIG tournaments that are considered major tournaments (i.e. big money, tradition, prestige, etc.): The Masters (always held in Augusta, Georgia), The U.S. Open (moves from year to year), the British Open (held in various locations in the UK and also referred to as "The Open" since it's the oldest tournament of the majors) and the PGA Championship (various locations in the USA). The ladies have the Kraft Nabisco Championship, LPGA Championship, US Women's Open and Women's British Open. Tennis has majors as well. The men and women participate in the same tournaments and they are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. So, now you know!

Monday, July 21, 2008

From the "Eeeeewwwwww" File

Here's another archived cell phone picture I discovered recently. I took this in the dressing room at Target (which I like to pronounce "tar-ZGHAYY" because it makes me feel uppity) while trying on a pair of shorts.

I should stop right there and mention the fact that I rarely take pictures while in department store dressing rooms, locker rooms, bathrooms, etc. (I'm legally required to say that as a condition of my probation--heh, heh).

But seriously, what kind of person needs to be reminded of this? Plus, this was in a MEN'S dressing room. It's common knowledge that guys don't try on bathing suits. We just buy them. If they fit--great. If not, we'll go buy another one (without trying it on).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Target Practice

For a long time I could not get pictures from my cell phone to my computer. Thanks to a phone call I finally made to Verizon wireless, I can do it again. This can only mean good things for the loyal readers of big doofus blog (both of you). Now you can see the things that inspire me while I'm out and about.

So, here's one that I managed to save for quite some time now. Apparently, I must have cut off a bird while I was driving because he dropped one heck of a berry puree' on my windshield while I was sputtering down the road. It took a LOT of wiper fluid to get this spot off. YUCK!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Down With Mauve!!!!

I'm not a Lutheran, but I play one on TV. Ok, that's not true.

I'm not a Lutheran, but I stand with The Elephant's Child, my sister in Christ who is standing up against the color mauve in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). Graciously (and because I begged) she has allowed me to be an honorary member of The Anti-Mauve Movement Blogroll. So, I will spread the cause beyond Lutheranism to evangelical churches everywhere and my Roman Catholic friends like skypigeon.

Now that I think about it, the first church that I attended had awful mauve carpet on the stage and pews. They have since changed quite a bit with regards to their philosophy of ministry--to the point where I would no longer be comfortable there. My current church had mauve chairs but they were all consumed when the building burned to the ground in early 2002. Was it a sign? To my knowledge, we no longer have any mauve in the building which makes us a beacon of hope to other churches in the community.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Agriculture Amusement

Nope, you are not reading another post about my stupid garden or the bunnies who are waiting to take it over (give me a few weeks and I'll get back to it). I wanted to share something I read minutes ago in my local newspaper. This seems like just another story in today's newspaper about an amusement park shutting down a ride until you get to the part that I've highlighted...

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom has shut down a ride called the Rainbow after a ride like it collapsed at an amusement park in Sweden, injuring at least 40 people.

"We have temporarily closed the ride, as a precaution, due to what happened in Sweden," said Kentucky Kingdom spokeswoman Carolyn McLean. She said the ride will remain shut down until further notice....

McLean said Six Flags mechanics and technicians will inspect the ride thoroughly before any decision is made to restart it. She also said the state Department of Agriculture, which is charged with inspecting amusement-park rides, also will "look it over."
I'm not sure how they handle things down in Kentucky, but as a Hoosier, I'm a big supporter of agriculture and everything they do to grow and manage our food supply. In fact, that seems like it would be a full-time job all by itself, without the need to add other responsibilities (like inspecting amusement part rides).

Here in Indiana (at least in my part of the state) we actually ELECT a coroner. It gets better, folks. Some of these elected coroners have not been doctors. So, this is where it all comes together. We need to get these elected coroners who are not doctors down to Kentucky Kingdom so they can investigate these rides.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Baseball Season is OVER!!!! least for me and my boy. I ventured out into uncharted territory and was the head coach of a 13-15 year old boys team this year. In a 10 game regular season, we managed to win just 2 (plus a rain-out). We were close in a few losses and got drilled in the rest. It was a learning experience. We went into the tournament against the best team in the league and lost. Then we lost the second game against a team we should have beaten and we were out. Done. Season over. Well, almost. There was still the All-Star thing.

I called it a "thing" because we were not sure what we were going to do this year with All-Stars. Our league is made up of 13-15 year old boys. Our kids play because they love to play the game--that's it. The 7th and 8th graders are picked over to play on fancy travel teams with expensive uniforms and matching equipment bags (don't even get me started about travel baseball--maybe another post) and the Freshman can play on the high school team (which is a good thing). We get what's left--and I'll take them every time. Of course, I wish we could just get ALL of the kids together to see how they do and build up the community--but I just said I wouldn't get into it about why travel baseball sucks...the life out of a community.

There's a point to all of this. With our league being the way it is, having an All-Star team is a challenge because you can put together a team of great kids but then if you take them to area or regional tournaments, you're often playing travel teams or older kids because most leagues are not put together like ours. These teams have an advantage on teams like ours. It wouldn't be a big deal to just do it, but it's expensive, very time consuming and just plain humiliating for the kids. When you ask parents for a lot of money for uniforms (we're talking about over $100), league fees, travel, etc., they EXPECT something--even if they don't understand what their kids are up against.

I'm not one who feels like every playing field should be leveled (which is why I hate "class basketball" in Indiana high schools), but it's better for the kids when they at least have an avenue for success. During most years, putting our kids up against these travel teams and older teams is not an avenue for success. So, this year we split up our six teams into two divisions (East and West) and selected two All-Star teams to play each other in a best-of-five game series. It was a blast and boy did it build community. Everything was compressed into one week. During this time we had two massive downpours. That meant that the coaches ended up coming to the field to pump out the water and prepare the fields for game play--twice. We practiced Monday and Tuesday and then had games Wednesday through Sunday!! That's because we (i.e. the East All-Stars) lost the first two games and then tied it up by winning the next two which forced a tie-breaker game on Sunday (which was supposed to be the second game of a double header on Saturday but was moved due to RAIN). By the time we got around to the last game, our parents were throwing impromptu tailgate parties. We experienced community, played great baseball, and had a blast doing it.

I should also mention that we won the last game and, thus, the tournament. It was the best time I've ever had as a coach (and I've been an Assistant Coach quite a few times). Here's a picture of everyone after the big win. Since I didn't get permission to show everyone else, you can only see Big Doofus and Little Doofus. Trust me when I say that the rest of the kids and coaches had BIG smiles on their faces. You cannot tell, but I was drenched by several coolers filled with ICE COLD water--it was a feeling that I never want to forget.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just because I can

I am creating this post from an iPod touch (I.e. The one without the phone capabilities but allows you to use any wi-fi connection). I don't really have much else to say. This is a cool toy but it takes forever to type anything! That is all.

P.S. I am only borrowing this thing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Let it Hang?

I'm not a complete news junkie, but I stay on top of things by reading the news online. In particular, I read my own local newspaper every day to see what's going on in the world and in my community. I do a pretty good job of skipping over the stupid parts of the online newspaper, but I've noticed that over the past few days they've been promoting a story on a local "nudist" club in Indianapolis. First off, let me say that this is a scene that I just don't get. It seems like the most uncomfortable situation you could be in. I didn't read the story about the Ponderosa Sun Club (strange that they'd name a nudist club after a chain of steak houses), but I couldn't avoid the headline...

Are you serious? "Let it Hang" is the headline for a story about a nudist club...with that picture? What has happened to the news? This is funny and depressing at the same time. Sorry if I offended some of you, but this was right off of the main page of the only newspaper in a metro area of well over a million people. Good grief.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

One THING at a Time

There was an old 70's sitcom called One Day at a Time that I remember very well. I'm not sure why it had an impact on me. Maybe it's because it was based in Indianapolis which was just a few hours down the road from me or maybe I was smitten with Valerie Bertinelli. For that matter, maybe I secretly wanted to be Dwayne Schneider--the wacky building superintendent that spent way too much time in the Romano's apartment. But I've gotten way off subject here--sort of, which is what this whole post is about: FOCUS.

My job has a LOT of responsibility. On top of that, I don't have someone telling me what I'm supposed to be doing most of the time. It's up to me to figure out what's important and how to prioritize everything. When it gets REALLY busy, I tend to look like this...

Life can also get the same way with so many things going on and people (especially a family) depending on you. This is where I need to step back for a second and remember that God really is in control and that I can only do one THING at a time in HIS strength. My experience has been that when I allow myself to be overwhelmed I feel blind and powerless (see the deer above). As a result, I end up doing NOTHING.

Sometimes I wish I didn't have so much to deal with, but I know that I should also feel honored to have been given so much. It's my duty to deal with it.

Yesterday I spewed forth political banter and here I am today sharing some of my deepest thoughts and struggles. What is this blog coming to? Tomorrow I will get back to more serious subjects like Meow Meow Butterpants.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Isn't This Stuff Dangerous?

I don't usually get too political on my blog, but someone pointed me towards this little news gem today...

Iraqi Uranium Transferred to Canada

This was the part that I found to be of greatest interest...

The yellow cake was discovered by US troops after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Facility south of Baghdad, and was placed under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Yellowcake is a form of processed uranium ore that can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors, or if further enriched as fuel for nuclear weapons.

So, the US troops found at least 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium during the Iraqi invasion...but we've all been told by the press that there were no weapons of mass destruction...yet. Looks like we beat them to the punch.