Sunday, November 21, 2010


Time to clean the laptop with an antibacterial cleanser. Here's the result during the cleaning of the keys:

Your search - `Ahyuijokp]\ ZA Q2a TRaq'[;] \';lkjhgfaszxC,M /..,MN CZX ]\ ] \- did not match any documents.

So, it's easy to determine the order of keys cleaned.

Distinctive European

Golden Europe in Arvada is perhaps the most distinctive restaurant in this Denver suburb. Rita had the wienerschnitzel with that "wonderful" sauerkraut. I had the 1/4 duck with red cabbage; GE offers a 1/2 duck, too, but I found the 1/4 perfectly satisfying. Rita and I both agreed that the special potato and sauerkraut soup was fantastic; we may want to look for a recipe. GE offers a limited wine selection; I went with Estancia merlot which complemented the duck well. Rita went with a Warsteiner.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Size Matters

In Columbus, Nebraska, Rita found the following in the local paper (provided by the local Rodeway Inn, also found onlineemphasis added):

Breastfeeding class set today
COLUMBUS — Columbus Community Hospital will host a breastfeeding class at 7 p.m. today at the hospital in either the Pawnee room or Maternal Child Health Department, depending on the size of the class.
Classes will be held on the third Tuesday of each month.
This class is for those who are unsure about breastfeeding or know they want to breastfeed.
Stop at the second floor Maternal Child Health Department to check for class location. For more information, call 562-3266.
Yes, Rita found it, but Rex loves puns.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BIG Wind Farm

Extending across three state corners is the Alta Wind Farm (in Iowa) and MinWind to the north.
Along I-90 in southwestern Minnesota.

Framed by silos and crowned by sun-illuminated clouds.

Between Luverne and Manley, Minnesota.

It almost seems like the big wind farm east of Los Angeles.

After the Snow

More wind farms in southwestern Minnesota:
More blue (on white).

Don't you love the clouds? Note the Welcome(?) ethanol(?) plants in the backbround.

To the south.

Wind Farms - Northern Iowa

Hancock County (?), Iowa:

Ignore the insect streaks (oops!). Look for the small white towers on the horizon - those are the turbines.


Story County Wind Farm:
Along the left horizon (after zooming).

Click to enlarge. The wind turbines are along the horizon.

Unexpected smoke, no mirrors

While enroute to Minnesota, and watching for wind farms, we encounter a steam (coal-fired?) locomotive, west of Des Moines, Thursday, November 11:
Click to enlarge.

Smoke trail of the train. (This needs some research; is this some sort of historical reenactment?)

Aha, found it, cached (the paint-brushed background indicates what terms I used to search for):

November 11-13: Iowa Interstate QJ Steam Excursion
QJ 2-10-2 steam locomotive #7801 leads a round-trip from Des Moines to Council Bluffs, Iowa
For more information: Rock Island Technical Society

Clicking the last link:
Breaking News!
When did you last ride behind a steam Engine? You can have a chance to ride from Des Moines, IA to Council Bluffs, IA behind the IAIS No. 7801. This 2-10-2 was built in China and purchased by the IAIS in 2005. The IAIS has donated 20 tickets to RITS with the proceeds going to support the museum/company store in Savanna. The ticket price is $175 round trip and $100 one way. 
The train departs Des Moines at 10:00 AM on Thursday, November 11, 2010 and arrives in Council Bluffs around 4:00 PM.

So, that was indeed a steam engine with vintage passenger cars. How neat must that have been? Click for more pictures of the engine and train. And more.

A New Hobby

Collecting Wind Farms:
Lone turbine in Stuart, Iowa.

The "big" Adair farm on I-80, between Omaha and Des Moines.

Adair: A quiet wind day.

Adair: In the distance to the south. (Click to enlarge.)

Adair: To the north.

Adair: The empty car carrier is headed west while the turbine looks on passively.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Speaking of oil company logos and brands, Wikipedia has a collection as do other sources, from which I'm posting some US brands:









Kerr McGee:








*In the early-mid 1950's my father managed Frontier and Skelly service stations in Ogallala, Nebraska, for owner R. E. Searle.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Equilon - what a fun website...

While researching Fueling I ran across Here is the total content of the website (as far as I can tell):
Equilon, Motiva, Equiva Services and Equiva Trading

Welcome to the former home page of the alliance companies: Equilon Enterprises LLC, Motiva Enterprises LLC, Equiva Trading Company and Equiva Services LLC.

In 1999, Shell, Texaco and Saudi Aramco associates created this group of businesses to create and sell Shell and Texaco refined products. Additionally, their goal was manage the companies’ transportation, lubricants and trading businesses in the United States.

As marketers and sellers of two of the biggest and most recognizable brands, Shell and Texaco, the Equilon, Motiva and Equiva had the knowledge and experience to make it big as leaders in the petroleum products business.

In 2002, the Equilon and Equiva names were dropped by Shell Oil Co. and began doing business as Shell. From November 2003 to September 2008 oil prices climbed by a factor of almost three. In 2008, with oil prices reaching record highs, many owners of SUVs and other "gas-hogs" began to look for a way to get cash for cars that had become too expensive to operate, and replace them with "fuel-sipping" vehicles, electric cars or hybrids.

Although Equilon, Motiva, Equiva have since disbanded, we welcome you to this website and hope you have found your visit here interesting and informative.
Copyright © 2008 All rights reserved.

Yes, it has been "interesting and informative," if not hysterically funny. And, it's a bit mysterious, too.

The grammar and construction are peculiar to say the least:
"Shell, Texaco and Saudi Aramco associates created this group of businesses to create and sell..." (emphasis mine).
"As marketers and sellers of two of the biggest and most recognizable brands, Shell and Texaco, the Equilon, Motiva and Equiva had the knowledge and experience to make it big as leaders in the petroleum products business." What are the Equilon, Motiva and Equiva?

"Equilon and Equiva names were dropped by Shell Oil Co. and began doing business as Shell." But Shell was already doing business as Shell.
No mention of the Chevron-Texaco merger... And what's with the cash-for-cars link, in the middle of the post? Is it possible that the company behind the link "owns" the Equilon et al. web page?

In any case, it would appear that Shell and Texaco don't care much.

I recall when the Texaco at Kipling and I-70 (Wheat Ridge, Colorado) changed from Texaco to Shell, not too long after Chevron and Texaco merged. Across the street to the north was what originally was a Standard, then Amoco, then BP, and now Conoco station, while another Conoco persisted across I-70 to the southeast while all the other changes were occurring to the north. The last-named is still there.

There is a certain sadness when a brand name and logo disappear or represent far less than they used to. Think of Gulf and Sinclair, for example. And, what ever happened to Skelly? (When I was very small, my father managed a Skelly filling station in downtown Ogallala, Nebraska.) Texaco is now endangered, as are Mobil and either Phillips 66 or Conoco. There were Hancock (especially meaningful to USC alums, such as me, and KUSC listeners), Signal (in California) and AtlanticRichfield (Atlantic and Richfield and Sinclair even earlier, now ARCO, part of BP and also endangered, but given a reprieve, in light of the Gulf oil spill). Perhaps Amoco will be revived if the BP brand is not able to reassert itself. Standard, in all of its incarnations, is unlikely to be revived, however.


A drive through Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota provides changing options for available gas stations. In Colorado, for what ever reason, Conoco is dominant, with Shell, Phillips (licensed by a Canadian company), and Valero as other principal company options. Conoco continues across Nebraska and into Iowa, with occasional Shell, but Valero almost disappears -- a few in or around Grand Island and Omaha, very few in Iowa, and, apparently 1 (!) in the Twin Cities. We see Marathon in Minnesota and will be looking for what other major companies are represented. No Conoco (or Phillips 66) according to their (combined) website, at least within 50 miles of St. Paul or Albert Lea. We should find some Shell stations according to their web finder.


A filling lunch at Potbelly Sandwich ShopEagan, MN. I had the veggie on multigrain plus mocha malt. Rita had the chicken salad. Amazing -- all over the Upper Midwest and Texas(!) but we never heard of it before.* Thanks, Jeff.

*Reminds me of Eegee's sandwich shops in Arizona. We hadn't heard of them until we began visiting Tucson.

En route Minnesota, we visited a marvelous modern Italian restaurant in Omaha's Old Market neighborhood: Vivace. It was late in the evening, with most Omaha restaurants already closed and tucked-in. And, in the Old Market, most of the still-open establishments were the saloons (no kitchens, as one bartender told Rex).

We shared an excellent chicken pesto pizza at Vivace, accompanied by fine inexpensive pinot noir (Rita) and merlot (Rex).

What was intriguing about V was how many tables there were, each with a votive candle alight, plus many more on shelves scattered around the room. Only a couple of tables in the lounge area were occupied, so we could enjoy the candles pretty much by ourselves.

A more comprehensive review of the restaurant is here.

With our many trips to Iowa (and now Minnesota) we almost always stay at Omaha's Comfort Inn at the Zoo. This time around we had enough rewards credits to stay "for free". The rooms are always clean and comfortable, but this time around Rita had the treat of a Segway lesson (watch for her description).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Busy week...

It's been a busy, end of Daylight Savings Time, week, so we've eaten out a bit.

Saturday night, there's the familar Arvada West favorite: Randi's. After the vigil Mass, Andrew, Sarah, and Mackayla, Mary and Abbi, and Rita and I are joined by Matt and Kelly. How would the two little cousins behave?

For the most part the little girls were great. Mackayla loved the chocolate milk and was passed from hand to hand around the big corner table. We order a big pizza, shared by Rita and me, joined by Matt and Kelly. Mary and Sarah ordered entrees while Andrew went with a sandwich. A great time was had by all.

Earlier, Rita and I had lunch at Jus' Cooking, a fairly new (maybe five years or so), and one of our favorites, cafe on Simms in Lakewood. The menu had changed a bit (no more rainbow trout), so I ordered the mango salsa mahi-mahi while Rita had a veggi sandwich with salad. JC's serves wine and beer, too, but it was midday, afterall. Good food (and we had leftovers to bring home). I would have loved to order the chicken pot pie, but I need to keep fish in the diet.

Even earlier in the day, I rolled out of bed to take the Escape in for an oil change and tire rotation. While Midas was doing its thing, I walked over the Starbucks (64th and Ward) for Pike Place brew and oatmeal. What a crazy place that was. I suspect the fire marshall would have had problems with the number of people waiting for their special preparation. By ordering brewed, I avoided the wait. I still am wondering what was happening.

Earlier in the week we headed for Chili's, 88th and Wadsworth in Westminister. It was a late supper; we were joined by Matt and Kelly and my mother, Louise (who was enjoying time away from Colorado Lutheran Home). Rita and I shared the margarita chicken while M & K had their own orders, including really terrific chips and salsa. The chips are very, very thin and crisp while the salsa is fresh and tangy. A good time was had by all.

Potato Soup

While watching DDD, we see a description of a Rhode Island chowder and I'm reminded of a mild deception from ages gone past.

It's before Beth, so, by definition, we're still on the honeymoon. For some reason we find ourselves at Magic Mountain. I can't remember the rides, but I do remember the "Japanese" restaurant where we end up for dinner. As part of the meal, there is the soup and salad bar. Rita, who had previously indicated lack of interest in clams, "loves" potato soup. Sure enough, there's a white, thick soup on the bar. What is it? she asks. Potato soup is my, uh, answer. We're back at the table. How's the potato soup? Good, she responds, but... chewy. Those are the clams, I quietly admit.

That's right! New England clam chowder is merely CHEWY POTATO SOUP.