Page Index
July - September 2008
The Kitchen Counter Archives
July 3, 2008
This Camel marketing piece for a new "it's not really snuff (but it
is)" product came in the mail today, compliments of a very
business trip with an unassuming British co-worker who just
happened to have deep ties to the Minneapolis club scene (yes,
there is actually a club scene in Minneapolis). His local connections
included bar owners, club promoters, DJ's, and
Tucker Max
wannabe's.  After the day's business was completed, we met up
with his odd assortment of friends, and thus set in motion one of
those nights which require a good deal of mental reconstruction
to figure out how a few drinks at an '80s themed bar eventually
led to being asked to leave the VIP section of a downtown club.

Somewhere in between was a stop at a huge loft/apartment
hosting a Camel marketing event. To get in, I had to provide my
name and address in exchange for coupons for free cigarettes.
Oddly enough, smoking was not permitted inside the loft, but we
were welcome to sit down with a group of artsy-types and use
the supplied paint and brushes to modify various pieces of
artwork into our own styles. It was that kind of place. The loft
was huge, with two levels, a DJ spinning relaxed tunes upstairs
and free food on the main level.

Fast forward to today, and my name on the Camel mailing list
generated the above piece of mail. I may now enjoy the tasty
tingle of a free tin of SNUS, in either the Frost, Spice, or original
flavor. All this because I know people who know other people who
can get me into private events in downtown Minneapolis, in the
dead of winter. I am so very special.
July 13, 2008
Just got back from a dirt bike trip in Michigan with Matt Sellers, in
which I proved that 4 days is not enough time to recover from an
over-the-bars crash at a hare scramble where the unpleasant
symptoms are remarkably similar to whiplash (the crash scared
me enough to peruse the
Leatt Brace website). In what little
riding I was able to endure in Michigan, I also proved that if your
motorcycle hits a tree in just the right position, the tree will shear
off your
Scotts steering damper. And if you don't realize said tree
chopped off your steering damper until you're 5 miles down the
trail, you'll most likely be shelling out some serious cash for a new
one. The pain of losing this expensive device was tempered
somewhat by the nearly 9 years it has protected me on 4
different motorcycles, but it still sucks.

I was in better spirits when I came home and found the above
jersey in my stack of mail. This was courtesy of my parents, who
seem as excited about
RAGBRAI as I am. It's the official jersey
for the ride, which begins exactly one week from today. So I now
own a "real" roadie jersey and, along with stretchy "
hot pants",
may just fool a few fellow riders into believing I'm hardcore...until
they notice my mountain bike shoes and pedals. Oh well.
July 26, 2008
A word of advice: if you're ever in Le Grand, Iowa, go slow over
the railroad tracks. Or, don't try to ride a skinny-tired road bicycle
over the Union Pacific main line. This destruction was a result of
my 470-mile tour through Iowa, which otherwise went off with no
major mishaps.
RAGBRAI is an experience like no other, a rolling
party through Iowa towns that remind me of where I came from.
It's one of the hardest things I've ever done, and also one of the
most enjoyable.
August 13, 2008
Ever wanted to see the inside of a graphic equalizer from the early
1990's? Of course you did. This was my beloved Kenwood
GE-7030 graphic equalizer, which finally went to equalizer heaven
recently. Fully electronic (no sliders/levers) with 14 channels of
equalization and spectrum analysis, the GE-7030 was a nice little
toy for a college kid when it showed up under the Christmas tree in

So what does one do with an audio component which no longer
functions? Most [normal] people would pitch the thing in the trash
and be done with it. Me, I take'em apart and salvage anything that
might be useful. Since there's no moving parts inside a graphic
equalizer, a few metal screws and a handful of other random stuff
was all I could harvest. All the internals, minus a metal screw that
rolled under the dishwasher, are seen in the photo above.
Circuitboards, anyone?
August 23, 2008
If you thought the good folks at Kellogg's couldn't possible
improve on the world's greatest breakfast treat, think again. I give
you the Mexican version of Pop Tarts, a side benefit of living in a
neighborhood full of south-of-the-border culture. In case your
last schooling in the Spanish language came more than 20 years
ago (like me), I'll help you out. These are in the flavor of Toasted


August 28, 2008
Five years ago I bought a compact flash card for my digital camera
with what seemed like a ridiculous 256MB of data storage. At the
time, I believe the flash card cost something north of $50 and was
about the size of a lunch portion at the vegetarian restaurant
down the street.

Fast forward to today, and we now have 2GB of storage on a
microSD card smaller than a penny.
Best Buy sold it to me for
about $20. It goes inside the cell phone I bought to replace the
one I destroyed at
RAGBRAI, storing such important things as
Dukes of Hazzard ring tones, photos of
lunch at Beefaroos, and
Carrie Underwood videos. The microSD card is so small, I am sure
I will be buying many of these as replacements whenever one falls
into the carpet.
September 10, 2008
I'll give you three reasons why voter registration is so low in the
United States: 1) we're lazy; 2) we don't think our votes make a
difference; and 3) we greatly increase our odds of being
summoned for jury duty. I finally got myself registered just in time
to vote for the presidential primary elections earlier this year, and
for that I was rewarded with an opportunity to serve the Cook
County judicial system.
September 18, 2008
This month I made a significant investment in my safety while
riding off-road motorcycles. In July, I took a nasty
over-the-handlebars crash at a
race near Morrison, Illinois. The
still feel the effects today). The above device is a neck brace
manufactured by
Leatt Corporation. After last year's impassioned
plea by David Bailey for riders to use protective neck devices,
many more of these have shown up on racers at all types of
off-road motorcycling events (Bailey is the
most decorated
American  to suffer a paralyzing motorcycle This month I made a
significant investment in my safety while injury). The brace is
designed to limit the helmet's range of
racer to suffer a paralyzing
motorcycle motion, in a somewhat similar manner as the
devicedesigned to limit the helmet's range of  used by motion, in a
somewhat NASCAR NASCAR drivers. The Leatt isn't cheap, but
neither is paralysis.drivers. The Leatt isn't cheap, but neither is
September 24, 2008
Yesterday I rode my bicycle to my home away from home, to bring
back my pickup truck for my upcoming move to Rockford, Illinois.
To do this requires a healthy dose of Chicago's West Side, which is
not quite as scary as the South Side and even less so at 6:30 a.m
on a Tuesday morning. I saw it as a cultural experience. The truck,
with 182,000 miles, a leaky rear main seal and a transmission set
for catastrophic failure at any time, had been parked on the street
in front of my building for barely 24 hours when I found the above
business card stuck to the window.

Those guys are good.