Yearly Archives: 2014

After a long hunt I finally found something on my list that I had been looking for:

My new Made In the USA can opener

My new Made In USA can opener

A made in USA can opener. It is an EZ-DUZ-IT can opener made by John J Steuby Co from St ouis. As you can see from the packaging they really play this up. I was delighted by the price – it was $11.95 – only one dollar more than the made in China one next to it. I did a “heft test” in the store between the two in the store.Plus I was able to purchase it a small local business on State Street in Madison. (Tellus Mater)

The can opener has a website but they must spend lots of time making can openers but not a lot on web design.

This thing feels serious in my hand and I am looking forward to using it to open chili, soup and other canned movies. I don’t plan on buying another can opener for years.

Film Review – Jack Strong (2014)

I had the chance to watch the 2014 Polish film Jack Strong thanks to the Polish Heritage Club of Madison and WUD Film and the UW. I really enjoyed the film. The movie is in Polish, Russian and English.

The film is based on the true story of Ryszard Kukliński (code name Jack Strong) who passed intelligence from Warsaw Pact forces to the CIA during the Cold War. It had some famous figures in it – some of who I even recognized (Jaruzelski’s glasses gave him away). It also referenced some famous events such as the uprisings in Prague in 1968, Gdansk in 1970 and the Solidarity movement. The martial law that was put in place in Poland was also in the plot.

I liked the acting – Kukliński was well portrayed. The character Ivanov, whose job it was to catch spies, was almost cat like and I would definitely not want him as an enemy. Leonid Brezhnev made an appearance in a somewhat humorous scene Marshal Kulikov (Brezhnev was on the red phone but there were so many other colored phones on his desk – how did he keep them straight?) I also liked all of the Polish names – Ryszard, Hania, Iza, Waldemar, Bogdan, Florian etc.

The filmmaker plays some tricks on the audience throughout the film so keep an eye out for that. Also the car chase in the streets of Warsaw was definitely not high budget but it was realistic!

Overall I liked the film. It had me invested in the characters, kept a high level of suspense and let me see a little of what Poland was like behind the curtain including the empty shops and family dynamics (Plus cigarettes and lots of vodka). If you get a chance to check it out I definitely would do so.

Carillon Tower

I did not attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison but I still have some favorite places on campus. One of them is the Carillon Tower. I don’t know exactly why I am drawn to it but I am. It is a sensory delight for the ears and eyes. Climbing up it gives some great views and listening to it is pleasing to the ears.

Carillon Tower
The ivy gives it a distinguished look.

Carillon Bells 1
Bells bells bells . . .

Carillon Tower 2
and more bells.

Carillon Tower clip
Click above for a short clip – enjoy!

Have you ever heard the tower play or gone up it? What did you think?

For information from the University about the Carillon tower click here.

For a good Cap Times article read this.

To learn more about carillon towers see this Wikipedia page.

Pitch Pizzeria Omaha

Pitch Pizza Omaha

My Dad and I ate here at Pitch Pizzeria when we were in Omaha this past June. It was the College World Series weekend and the place was hopping. We had two stools looking over the food area and could see the stove and the workers. The pizza was delicious and the drinks were refreshing. It had a nice atmosphere on the Friday afternoon we were there. If you are in the neighborhood I would recommend stopping in for some pizza.

Elk Horn, Iowa & the Danish Windmill

On my trip to Omaha this last summer we had a chance to swing through Elk Horn, IA. There is a Danish Windmill there. While we were too early to tour it I got some good pictures. My Grandma is Danish and proud of it so it was nice to be able to tell her that we visited.

Elk Horn Windmill 2

Elk Horn Windmill 1

There is also a Danish sister village called Kimballton. They have a copy of the Mermaid that is in Copenhagen. I got a picture with that as well.

Mermaid Fountain Kimballton Iowa

After we looked around Elk Horn and Kimballton we took the state highway versus the interstate. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon drive. We ended up eating in Grinnell, IA – it seemed like a nice college town. Some people give Iowa a hard time but I found it to be a beautiful drive with a lot of interesting things to look at.


Zesto Pierre, SD

In 2013 on my trip to South Dakota with my girlfriend we were walking around Pierre, SD we stopped to eat at what I thought was a local little ice cream place called Zesto. (“Zesto is the Besto!”)

But when I was in Omaha this year I was surprised to see another Zesto. After some research on Wikipedia it looks like there are a few of them around but they are independently owned.

Zesto in Omaha

The word Zesto sounds bit like a medication or a 50’s cleaning product that you would hear on old time radio. Keep your eyes open – you never know what you will see when you are out and about.

Zesto Wikipedia page

The small town of Beaver, IA

Beaver Iowa is a small town off of Highway 30 in Iowa. It is pretty unremarkable to most but it holds some interest to me as my Grandma’s Uncle Morris used to own a tavern there. My grandma remembers piling in the car in the early morning in Menominee MI as a young girl. They would drive all day and get to Beaver. Her uncle let her have all the soda and candy she wanted. She has fond memories of these times. From what I gather he is buried in Ames, IA.

So when I was headed to Omaha this last summer I detoured through to see what was there. And besides the post office and grain elevator there wasn’t a whole lot going on. But the buildings my uncle used to own are still standing (kind of). He also owned the old bank building and I am told he used the vault as a closet. I took some pictures of them. The roofs have collapsed but I took some pictures from the sidewalk.

A few pictures

Beaver IA 1

Downtown Beaver

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Bumper Pool table at Buddha's Still in De Pere

Bumper Pool table at Buddha’s Still in De Pere

When my brother graduated from De Pere this past May my family was up the night before to save a drive in the morning. Naturally we headed out to see the nightlife when we stumbled upon this blast from the past in Buddha’s Still. It was my first time playing bumper pool and if I remember correctly I lost every single game I played.

Have you ever played bumper pool? Do any bars that you have been to offer unusual games?

45×90 Club

The ground was wet from the morning’s April showers. My shoes were slipping in the muddy cornfield. Looking around I didn’t see much – the drive here put me further north than I had been in a while. I took another glance at the GPS – We were getting close.

One early spring day as I gazed at a map of my fair state in the comfort of my apartment I noticed two lines crossing at a point west and north of Wausau near a town called Poniatowski. It was the 45º north line and the 90° west line. “I wonder if there is anything there?” I thought to myself.

A quick Google search planted the seeds for the adventure to come. Not only was there something there but going there entitled you to become a part of the 45×90 Club. This was going to happen.

A visit to my girlfriend’s in Stevens Point was the perfect jumping off point and also provided a fellow adventurer. (Adventures are generally more fun with company). We left on an overcast morning. We hit a few patches of rain on the drive north but it stopped by the time we pulled into the small lot with the information board and ceremonial marker.

The informational Marker at the 45x90 point in Poniatowski, WI

The informational Marker at the 45×90 point in Poniatowski, WI

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Cost Per Mile

After about 3 years of not having a car I jumped back into ownership in the spring of 2014. I have a 2003 Ford Taurus. Since I bought it I have been tracking what I have spent on it in a spreadsheet to get my cost per mile. I have all of the behind the scenes stuff hidden.

A few notes –
I drive a 2003 Ford Taurus. I bought it in March of 2014. I rarely drive around town (because I try to bike to work as much as I can) so that helps the mileage. I change my own oil and (knock on wood) I have not had any major problems yet. Insurance is paid in full for the year to avoid installment fees and I also check my tires regularly.

Let me know if you have any questions or if you would be interested in the breakdown of spending.