We're currently on a week-long road trip between Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Before we left, we mentioned our trip to Kari Lindstrom, proprietor of our favorite vintage and antique shop The Melamine Cup in Jaffrey, NH, and she mentioned there was a Lindstrom, Minnesota, so we decided we'd head up and see what's what.
So it was that at the end of a long day of Paisley Park, then the World's Largest Ball of Twine (as built by one man), we made our way for Little Sweden and made up there by around 4:00. Even still, we found a great antique store and got some fantastic handmade raised sugar and raspberry jelly donuts that took me straight back to when I was 4-5 years old getting donuts with my parents from a local bakery.
I did try really hard to get to The Sweet Swede to get something sweet for the sweetest Swede we know, but apparently it's not really a thing anymore. Fudge.
Natalie got some great pictures of this adorable vacation town:
For a couple years now, I've been telling Natalie that if I had a couple bucks and an inclination to build a thing or interact with people, I'd Do It Right. I'd make fresh donuts daily. If I worked at Red Arrow, I'd make the case that the absurd Milford, NH third shift should dedicate themselves to making bread for the rest of the day. Instead, they recently discontinued that shift.
So in that vein... I have a lot of music videos. To go with them, I've downloaded a bunch of '80s commercials for Nostalgia's Sake. Things like cereal, BMX bikes, Underoos, Schoolhouse Rock, and since you can guess I'm from the Boston market, Spags and Dunkin' Donuts.
At Spags, they'll save you money:
These old commercials, pre and post Fred, all tout the freshness of their product. It's the "Freshest you can buy". Then they stopped making donuts on site. There is no longer a fryer in the building at this point. I guess they nuke or salamander their croissant, bagel or muffin sandwich and formed eggs, I dunno they do something to make them hot, but none of this stuff could be mistaken for "fresh".
Sadly, I imagine that by and large, they were right. They /are/ the freshest donuts most people can get. Their 1980, Pre-Fred accusations that "most super markets donuts are made by machine" actually came about in my store in around 1994 or 1995. The day the woman* who fried and filled and decorated the donuts every day moved to Heath and Beauty Aids, which was coincidentally the day before /I/ learned to "make" donuts and muffins.
Muffins were from mix, + any other stuff like frozen blueberries, cinnamon apple chunks or cranberries or whatever else we'd mix in. Muffins were easy, but donuts were even easier. They came in frozen now, so all we did was heat 'em up, glaze them and put them out. We still glazed, filled, sugared, dipped them by hand, and the "baking" process wasn't that bad, they tasted fine, i guess. I never really ate them much. You tend not to want to eat muffins if you're covered in muffin mix for 5 hours every day. Now that I think of it, even though we were frying donuts daily, there's no way that wasn't just frozen dough that we bought in. Don't get the impression these were scratch-made, just rolled and fried on site. When I stopped making donuts and muffins, we had transitioned away form even making the muffins from mix, they now came in as frozen batter in muffin cups and plastic trays. We'd just move them to metal trays, bake 'em and serve 'em up. That was probably '95 or so at the latest.
The couple of times I've gone into Dunkin's (as it's now trying to rebrand itself officially) in the last 2 decades, I've come away with the impression that they don't even do that much anymore. I don't see that there's even room for a table to glaze and decorate anymore. Do donuts just come in all pre-filled and room temperature ready to put out? Like the Krispy Kremes at the convenience store?
There is still a good donut place in our town, but I imagine even they aren't actually scratch-making anything. It's just fresher than Dunkin's. Meanwhile I'm pretty sure the baker my parents went to in the '70s and '80s hand-made everything in his shop from scratch from donuts to birthday cakes.
* - Hey Millennials, here's some trivia: I remember the woman who made the donuts was about 23 or 24, and that she and her husband, who drove forklift as I recall, and with whom she owned a house, had managed to save enough in their water jug full of change to go on vacation in the Caribbean. Just sayin'.
There are so many things I do which are likely to suffer with Net Neutrality's loss.
I run my own mail, web and cloud sharing services on a VPS that I maintain. Owncloud syncs all my devices, I use IMAP and webmail. I also run lots of "consumer" stuff for myself. I own 2500 CDs which I've ripped and share for my own personal use. I have playlists. I can connect with DAAP from my phone, and listen to my own CD collection, music I have paid for, Spotify style. I know people are saying "Spotify will work just fine", but what if I don't want to use Spotify?
This is all encrypted, personal connections. Nothing illegal is happening here. I'm not filesharing or streaming Torrents or any other grey-area services. It's just all my personal stuff, owned and manually copied myself, sharing to myself. No one gets ripped off here.
I can plug my Amazon Fire stick or Raspberry Pi into any TV and use Kodi to stream my own MP3s or movies, etc. I can use it to watch Amazon Prime or Netflix as well. Kodi also has a wealth of plugins to watch content from sources such as the PBS website. We all can watch Nova, or Julia Child, or even Antiques Roadshow over the Internet, for free, legally. This may all suffer when backbone providers and local ISPs can both decide which packets have priority over other traffic. PBS could be QOS'd out of the budgets of millions.
(Note *)I don't own a Nest or any other IOT garbage, but I have toyed with the idea of building my own, running on infrastructure I build. I don't want Google to know what temperature my house is right now. And I don't want some mass hack of 500 Million Nest users or idiot IOT Lightbulbs to let some Romanian turn my furnace off in the middle of February either.
So yeah, losing Net Neutrality could effectively disable all of this. Small hosts like me could be QoS'd off of the Internet entirely, unless we pay extra /at both ends/. Pay my hosting provider to pay their backbone providers to QoS my address at a decent speed. Then pay my consumer ISP to QoS my traffic so I can reach "The Good Internet", like they have do in Portugal.
This is going to cut my lifeline to my own data, hosted by me on my own machines. Am I going to have to pay an additional "Get Decent Internet Access Beyond Google, Spotify, Facebook and Twitter" fee to the Hampton Inn just so we don't get QoS'd away from our own stuff? It's bad enough that the individual hotel can effectively do this already today, but the hotels are at least limited by the fact that they're in competition with each other and if they have ridiculously shitty Internet that you can't check your mail over, well people would notice that. Backbone providers pretty much have no such direct consumer accountability. No one's going to say "well, fuck that I'm not going to route over AT&T anymore", they might say "Hilton has shitty Internet, I'm going to Marriott".
Some of the most demoralizing part of this is that the rule-makers just don't get it. I already know they don't care, but former FCC Chair Michael Powell's statement, which boils down to "You can still use Facebook, (Amazon) Alexa, Google and Instagram, just like you can now" is missing the point either deliberately or purposefully. That most "consumers" will be fine isn't the point. The point is that everyone be equal, and all traffic be routed equally.
* The risk to my information is proportional to the value an attacker places on the information. Could a state actor target my email server and read my mail? Yeah, the Equation Group or Fancy Bear or some Eastern European ID theft ring could probably exploit some flaw in whatever software serves my VPS, or flat out order the ISP to give them access to my stuff, but why? What does the NSA gain by ransacking my mail server? Not much. How about criminal attackers? However they /would/ expose 1.5 Billion Yahoo accounts all at once, and have that entire corpus of mail to search against, plus passwords they could use to try and attack everyone's bank account all at once.
We've been going to sport-thing games since last fall, when we decided we needed a release valve on the wall-to-wall presidential election nonsense and started going to Manchester Monarchs games. Since that nonsense continued straight past the election, we've been going to more and more games, including three Fisher Cats games this summer. The Fisher Cats finished up their season this weekend, so I wanted to make sure and head out there and get some ice cream and put it on the list.
The stadium serves Hood ice cream, soft-serve only from what we've seen, as well as novelties like ice cream sandwiches. This week Natalie and I each got a hot fudge sundae, vanilla & chocolate twist, with everything they'll put on a sundae, which boils down to whipped cream, jimmies and a cherry, I guess it's just easier for them not to even try to have a walnut in the building than to deal with the inevitable nut allergies.
You can get these in mini-helmets, of course. We got a regular cup this time because we did the helmet thing earlier in the season.
This summer while we were out driving somewhere I decided that there should be a page for all the ice cream places on NH Route 3. Route 3 runs the entire length of the state from the Canadian border north of Pittsburg to the Massachusetts border at Nashua/Tyngsborough. The road runs through all of the larger cities in the state, and lots of pretty smaller towns. There's a lot of ice cream to be had here. I remember some of these spots from when I was a little kid, usually failing to get my mom to stop. Places like King Kone in Merrimack, and the Brick House in Hooksett.
This is going to take a good deal of time, and there's not really much summer left this year, but I'll be posting them as we can get to them.
So since the idea here is to visit these local institutions which have served generations of kids in this state, of course I'm going to kick it off with the biggest and newest one.
Because if people could remember what 100 years ago Earth was like, they'd know that the best things to happen in the last 100 years are based around the idea that if we all work together, then when we're old, we will take care of each other. And when we're young, rather than work like adults, we will teach our children with the collective knowledge of our species so we can continue to advance. We can afford to take care of those who can't work like the rest. Too much of the time, we choose not to take care of those people.
My family has a long and complicated history with Choc-Ola. My mother's family lived in South Indianapolis. She went to Southport and Beech Grove. Her family went to the same church as the Normington family, who gave Choc-Ola to the world. It was, therefore, at all church functions. At least one of my uncles drove semi trailers full of Choc-Ola across the midwest. I've been hearing about Choc-Ola for 35 years, seeing their logo everywhere, and never have had the chance to try a drop.
From this rather large family, I've never talked to one person who says "I enjoy drinking Choc-Ola". When Choc-Ola came back around as a product in recent years, the people I mentioned it to were kind of wishy washy about it, "Oh that's nice for them, hope it does well". Do you want some? "Nope, not really".
So now Choc-Ola is back and selling product, and thanks to the Wonders of the Internet, I have a case of it. And I can taste test it for myself, against a more Northeasterly drink, Yoo-Hoo
So let's start the hyphenated chocolate-milk-but-safe-on-a-shelf beverage test.
You can see right away that Yoo-Hoo is much lighter in color. It's also a thinner liquid. They're similar in odor, but Choc-Ola tastes much more "Chocolatey". Natalie also reports that Yoo-Hoo is more "Chemicalley".
Yoo-Hoo also seems to have had more trouble integrating its solids back into the liquid in a glass:
I promise in the name of scientific integrity that each of these products was shaken with great vigor, and drunk within moments of pouring. This photo also represents the residue from the "first pour" of each drink, the "top half", so that gack at the bottom of the Yoo-Hoo glass isn't gunge I scraped from the bottom of the bottle.
One thing Yoo-Hoo does have going for it is its much more complicated, modern sounding and exciting ingredients list. Choc-Ola makes one think of sitting on a porch at a farm, drinking chocolate milk. Yoo-Hoo lets your mind wander to men in lab coats and vast manufacturing facilites lined with vats containing palm oil, dipotassium phosphate and corn syrup solids.
Long story short, my family is goddamn nuts. It's at this point that I'll point out that my grandfather was a milk man. I believe a couple of my uncles were as well. Meanwhile, my mom grew up with no milk in the house, drinking Pepsi and eating Velveeta. This may account for some of the preference issues noted at the top there.
Choc-ola is great, and you should buy some of it. Bother your grocery store until they buy some. I successfuly annoyed my local grocery store into buying the frozen White Castles back in the '90s, so I know it can be done with persistence.
Unleash the Cow Power.
Edited: Natalie tells me I'd be remiss in not posting our own piece of Choc-Ola history:
csFlickr10 years ago ago by xrayspx. Some time ago, one of my cow orkers sent me home with some Chinese bitter melon in trade for some of our plums. Natalie fell in love with it immediately, but I can't really get past just how strong it is. I was knocking it down with hot sauce, as I do.
Yesterday I showed up and what do you know? Three more bitter melons ready for me to take home, including one /monster/ of the species which just couldn't have been natural. Fortunately I found the answer at a farm stand tonight. They had bhut jolokia (improperly "ghost chili") peppers.
This was like two titans doing battle on my tongue! I'm fine with the heat of the jolokia by now, but what I love from it is the powerful fruity, citrusy flavor that just crushes you when you put it in your mouth, before it even touches your tongue. It pretty much perfectly set off the bitter melon.
I must have eaten 1.5lb of stir fry and my mouth is very very happy with me.
Natalie and I have been booked for a tropical vacation for a few months. A while back I decided she should raise her tolerance for girly fruity island drinks ahead of the trip.
Luckily we found the perfect book in an antique store to help us out. Here's How, a wood bound book with awesome illustrations from 1941. It's got like 70 pages of recipes, and I wanted to take a few photos since it might be the most fun book we own. Excuse the thumbs here, but the way the binding is hinged (like with hinges) doesn't really allow it to lay flat for photos :-)