26 December 2010

Made in the USA: Three solid ways to start re-defining America as the Dominant Superpower

I:  Re-Calibrate the Unemployment Benefits Program

Attack the handout attitude and entitlement generation(s) head on.  The government needs to stop tacking on additional weeks that unemployment is provided for – pick a duration, whether it is 26, 30, or 40 weeks.  Stop creating extensions and just agree on a timeframe.  Those that are unemployed will have to finally take other jobs.  Regardless of how bad the economy is, there ARE jobs out there.  Many of the positions that existed during the last bubble may never exist again.  So, why should the rest of the taxpayers pay for the stubbornness of those that are waiting for positions that are not coming back for a very long time or opportunities that they may just be under-qualified for?  What ever happened to putting your head down, working hard, and moving up?

The Unemployment Benefits Program that provides money to those out of work should change in the following two major ways:

Community Service

All recipients should be mandated to complete 15 hours or more of community service within the last 28 days.  This requirement would be ongoing and recurring to require a new contribution of 15 hours monthly.  The time also needs to be reported and signed off to prevent false information, and would be required until they are off of unemployment.  Imagine the results and potential turnaround?  The current 15 million people that are unemployed would be dedicating 15 hours a month totally over 50 million hours a week to local organizations going forward.  The impact would be tremendous!  The networking alone would reduce the numbers on unemployment by connecting those looking with leads back into the workforce.  And the amount of service that would delivered to all of the good causes…America would genuinely be having a rebirth.

Enforcing mandatory community service would also drastically reduce the number of those that are simply cheating the system or that are just lazy.  Think about all of those individuals that are working ‘under the table’ type jobs.  It would no longer be as easy to work those non-reported jobs AND donate time.  Then there are those that are too lazy.  This group would either have to comply and donate their time to benefit their community like everyone else or have to step it up and finally get a job.

For those that are financially de-motivated because collecting their unemployment allocation pays more than jobs they would land – well, at least they are donating their time while trying to ‘beat the system’.

And for those that are legitimately unemployed - is 15 hours a month of volunteering really that awful?

Drug Testing
A real change that needs to be implemented is drug testing.  Americans receiving free money to help them while they are unemployed should be drug tested with the same strict tactics of those that have judge sentenced drug testing.  Got a problem with that?  Don’t take the handout!  Violation of civil rights?  Too bad.

II:  Launch Independence Month
There are currently well over 50 awareness months, weeks, and days that are recognized in the United States.  Why not create one more awareness situation to boost our Independence Day, July 4th, with an entire Independence Month?  The theme of all of July would be to advocate supporting local businesses and buying goods Made in the USA.  This component of recreating American dominance would be by no means a boycott of foreign goods or large organizations, but merely going back to our roots.

One guaranteed way to improve the U.S. economy and create jobs is to buy goods that were designed, created, shipped, and sold here within our borders by other Americans.

There would be no mandate to be absolute with this theme of buying all American - just to take recognition and adjust your decision making process similar to how we do with Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Earth Day.  Have Americans think about their decisions, reflect on their history, forecast the futures of their grandchildren, and support the cause for the whole month.

The results would surely be staggering.  Americans would eventually change after instilling this behavior amongst family, friends, co-workers, and peers to recognize who and what you are supporting with the purchase of goods and services.

III:  Fast Track Approval for Infrastructure Programs

This tactic of the larger initiative to re-establish American dominance would be a bit more challenging.  Initiating and fast tracking Infrastructure projects would make our country better as well as providing more jobs.  Even though this could be viewed as a temporary solution, the results become building blocks.  Not only would people be placed with new jobs to help build out or improve bridges, roads, railways, bus stations, etc..  The areas where travelers will end up in transit would improve over time.  Citizens would be able to travel safer and easier from place to place increasing the need for businesses and homes in both destinations:  to and from.

These ideas offer solid solutions to accelerate our country back to the top and Americans would be without a doubt more engaged with society after the implementation of these program modifications.  Enforcing volunteering would begin to re-install a sense of community pride.  Anyone not in agreement with this tradeoff should be embarrassed to participate in the unemployment program.  Improving the country’s infrastructure would minimally deliver necessary improvements to our great country.  And finally, solidifying the Independence Month & Made in the USA viewpoints will certainly put the right foot forward to getting Americans on the same page to solve our own problem with our economy.


Other Search Words (not mentioned):  99ers, employed, volunteer, check, money, free, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Extended Benefits, financial crisis, Americans Want to Work, legislation

Reshaping of the Big Ten Confernence

A little tardy to the party, but reinforcement can only do just that - reinforce the point.  The new Big Ten Conference Names and logos stink.  Ten or Twenty years ago...fine.  But for 2010 and the dollars they probably shelled out, no thanks.   The 2010 regular season performance of the NCAA Big Ten football teams really put them back on the map in the BCS conversation.  Not the #1 conference but finally the ability to have them in the conversation again.

The new logo

The Big Ten changed their logo from the creative Big Ten title hiding the number Eleven in the negative space in between the letters to the newer two in one "Big" "10" combination.  It retains a level of creativity, but added a level problem solving to understand the full logo.  No harm for the college graduate audience, but not much of a comparison to the revamped PAC-12 shield that will be going live.  Here are some links to more information about the changes:  Big Ten Artist comments and Big Ten artwork.

The new divisions

This is the one that demands a revision as the logo will probably grow on the fans.  What ever happened to North, South, East, and West groupings?  And who possibly came up with Legends and Leaders?  Was this some joke towards the teams who are in the Leaders conference?  Sure.  Leaders is an admiral title to be branded with, but compared to Legends it doesn't really match up.  What were these people thinking?

29 November 2010


Is it weird that I want a unicycle and a tandem bike for two? I love my cruiser and have been thinking about getting my wife and I a tandem someday. But we are just going to have wait until when have a garage. But more recently, my desire to have a new ride has been trumped by my new curiosity with unicycles.

I'm hoping Santa reads my blog.

13 November 2010

Football trips 2010, Alabama & Michigan

I can already say that I have attended two football games at renowned stadiums even though the NCAA football year is many weeks from over.  This year I was able to go to Florida at Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL and Illinois at Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.  Both were awesome adventures to log into my sporting venues journey.

The first game I went to this year was the SEC matchup of the Gators and the Tide.  This trip was the 5th for my annual away game crew and the 7th SEC stadium I have been to for a game.  Florida got whooped.  The final score was 31 - 6 and as far as I was concerned the game ended when we failed to convert for points from within the ten yard line on our first drive .  I do have to mention that the tailgaiting experience was the best I have witnessed yet.  I thought Ole Miss was going to be tough to beat, but the Quad did it.  I am going to leave that a bit open and not compare it to Florida, but there were several great things to talk about.

Below are some pictures from our weekend in Alabama.  I recall that this stadium holds 101,000+.  Don't quote me and feel free to comment the exact amount at this game or what the stadium holds.

Driving by the front of Bryant-Denny Stadium

Inside looking down from our near top row visitor section seats - at the band.

Again, looking way down.

One of the popular local eateries we went to.  Dreamland Bar-B-Que.  Apparently this was the original location as compared to the one farther out on the highway.

My order of ribs and beans at Dreamland.  I like to talk about food and present my findings here.  But I also still try to not say anything if I have nothing good to say.  Let's just keep it simple - I won't be headed back to Dreamland if I go back to Tuscaloosa.

This is a picture of our fried pickles from Bottomfeeders. Decent.

My 2nd trip this year was to the University of Michigan while I was up in freezing country visiting my in-laws. Another great venue to hit.  Let me explain.

The simpleness of the shape of the Big House doesn't make it feel like it holds 110,000+, but then you realize how close you are to your neighbors in the bleachers and it makes more sense.  The stadiums main seating areas are below ground.  So it is hard if not impossible to sight the stadium from afar - this has changed a little in the last 2 years due to the significant renovations to the sky box areas (see pics below).  I would only rate the noise level at this place as fair.  Definitely not overwhelming and arguably poor when you consider the quantity of people in the place.  Then again, they were playing Illinois, it was in the low 30's out, and both teams were bringing 3 losses to the table.  This matchup resulted in a triple overtime game with a final score of 67 - 65 and the total offensive yards were over 1230 combined.  Insane!  I believe this was reported as the highest Michigan scoring game against a BigTen opponent.

Here are my pics from that day.

The back of the south endzone sign looking up from the street.

Entering into the stadium gates - the south west corner.

A Hail to the Victors! Memorial, again south west corner.

Looking ahead from our seats.

Some game time action.

A look at the west side sky box (press section).

Another look at the field.

A pic of the east side sky box.

The visitor section.  If you look carefully you can actually see Illinois fans.

The attendance for the day:  111,441.  This is the largest stadium event I believe that I ever have been to thus far.

One more look at the field.

The final score.  It ended by Illinois failing to make the mandatory 3rd OT 2 point conversion.  Just Crazy.

11 November 2010


I entered a family Chili Cookoff last weekend.  It was a lot of fun - especially since I have never made my own Chili before.  After checking out a few recipes and techniques online, and getting some good tips from my mom, I came up with my very own Chili recipe.

I ended up coming in 2nd (out of 5).  The important part is that I actually like the recipe that I created on the fly. Check out a picture of my 'Gameday Chili'.  Yes, I took the pic and this was my very own concoction.

10 November 2010

Blogs to Follow

If you are a friend, one of my 2 random blog followers that didn't click the button on accident, or for some reason stumbled to my public journal to graze on the burger food porn....please check out some of the blogs that I follow.  I have been recently updating those links and some of these people have a lot of good thoughts to offer - way better than my randomness.

locked up

What are the things that you would want if you were locked up?  I don't plan on being locked up nor can I remember why this came to my mind the other day when I jotted down to make a blog post about it.  And of course these have to be things that you could actually have in jail.

My initial answer:  several journal notebooks for ideas, thoughts, and drawings.  Along with of course some pens.

My mind spins like crazy.  In fact I don't even know how I make it to sleep most nights.  If I was deprived of the ability to jot down ideas, make drawings, and work through thoughts on paper I would go crazy - crazier that is.  Of course a laptop work as well.  But I'm sure that wouldn't be allowed and the old school pen and paper does the trick.

10 October 2010

4 Burgers

I finally have taken some time to go through the pictures on my camera from the last few months. Having done that, I can now share burgers pics from 4 different locations. I'll display them oldest first.

First, some pictures from inside the new Shake Shack in Miami Beach. Sorry there are no burger pics. But I figured some of you may be interested in the interior. Especially since the original location has all outdoor seating. No need for further reviews on the Shack burger. I can assure you that it is as good as the one up north. Nice job on consistency guys...

This is a picture of their logo burned into each table that I edited.

The view from the front door.

The cash registers...

The Shake Shack menu on the wall up front.

A wall full of Shack gear.

Another shot of the Shake Shack logo burnt into a table.

A few weeks later I hit my own trifecta by eating at the latest Shake Shack in Saratoga, New York at the Sartoga Springs racetrack. It was a rainy day but we had a great time none the less. The same applies at this location, consistency.

The same logo and outdoor setup as in NYC.

Me enjoying my Shack burger and beer out of the rain.

Later on the tail end of this trip to upstate New York we were flying out of Ithaca. So why not try and get another burger? We tried a spot in the Ithaca Commons called the Mahogany Grill. Let's just keep it simple. Worth the money but nothing to boast about.

A view from across the street.

Table and Menu.

My burger and sweet potato fries.

And the last of the left overs was by far the best. Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Virginia. I was in the DC area for work a couple of weeks back and got a hold of some friends I hadn't seen in a while. We decided to all meet up at Ray's - boy was it worth it. Apparently it started years back as a location aside their steakhouse where they ground up unused steak to sell as hamburgers.

An edited picture of their front sign.

The front as we approached.

The inside. Note the world map for patrons to mark their origin.

The counter to order from - Cash Only.

The burger I ordered was perfectly cooked with the outside charred to seal in the medium rare juices. The bun was awesome; it had seeds on both the top and bottom and completed the perfect burger to bun ratio. It was in between a sesame/poppy seed and and everything bagel topping. The menu presented enough options to please nearly any burger fan and I opted to keep it simple with burger plus cheese (white Vermont cheddar). I of course went with the sweet potato fries...

07 October 2010


Zeke's Roadhouse is a great place to people watch in South Beach. It is located right in the heart of Lincoln Road and has the cheapest beer that I know of for this type of selection. They have literally hundreds of beers to pic from that are from all over the world. They sell draft beer, bottled beer, and few basic food items: hot dogs, popcorn, and something else. I believe any beer they sell is now at $4. Make sure each person in your party has their ID.

This is a picture a few months back just before they opened on a Sunday.

And this picture was a few minutes later after they opened.

04 October 2010

The Vortex Bar & Grill

I went on my annual away game trip to Tuscaloosa, AL this past weekend only to watch the Gators get beat pretty bad. Since we were flying back south from Atlanta airport we tried to bring some life back into our deflated weekend by trying out The Vortex, a burger recommendation I received a couple of weeks back.

The guys I was with opted for The Vortex location closer to the airport in Midtown. I bring this up because apparently the other location in the Little 5 area is the original. Upon arrival, this restaurant's character starting shining through right away. The entire inside of the Bar/Restaurant was filled wall to wall with cool signs, souvenirs, antiques, and knick knacks. Not like the layout and assembly that you might find at a T.G.I.Friday's either. The closest place that I can resemble it to is one of the three Barney's Beanery locations in the L.A. area.

I scanned the menu for their burgers and found a whole page long list. You can look up some of the others on their site. I am just going to tell you about my meal: the Coronary Bypass. I was going to go for the regular burger before I scrolled my eyes to the bottom of the menu and located this beast. It came with a half pound tasty sirloin patty, topped with a fried egg, three slices of American cheese, and what looked like 6 pieces of nice bacon. The bun was a sesame seed, with lettuce, tomato, and onion presented on top. I opted for the side of fried plantains and asked them to leave the mayo in the kitchen. I'm sure this may seem a bit weird for some of you a bit farther north, but for me, this is an tasty side often available in the Miami area.

As soon as it arrived I carefully placed the condiments atop the fried bacon and then folded over the bun top in order to get to work. I grabbed for my knife, stabbed the center of the bun, and cut it in half. I stuffed the edge of burger in my mouth immediately instead of wiping the drool from my face. The burger was great. Perfectly cooked, and tasting better than every component that my eyes just ran across.

I am so happy that I followed up on the recent recommendation. The Vortex Bar & Grill is a place I'd recommend as well. It looks like a great watering hole too.

30 September 2010

Another Nice Cruiser

It appears that Giant is still producing their Simple series of Cruisers. When I was shopping a few years back I was told these were discontinued. Apparently they are producing them again. Not only do they look sweet, they are aluminum with 3 piece cranks. You can check them out here.

23 September 2010


I am the DC area for work this week and met up with a friend in the Chinatown area (not much of a town, really just an archway) for dinner at Matchbox. We went there for some pizza and I inquired about the 3.6.9 on the menu and learned that you can order 3, 6, or 9 mini burgers as an appetizer.

The picture I have is horrible as I forgot my camera. But the burgers were awesome. The presentation was really cool with a heaping of onion strings in the middle. Each of the buns was sprinkled on the top with cheese too.

Matchbox was a great spot to meet up and eat.

Theater Square Marketplace

I had eaten at Theater Square Marktetplace in Louisville, KY a few times but didn't try the burger until recently. Note that I have been sitting on this picture for a few weeks so my commentary is quite short and no longer fresh.

About all that I can report is that the burger, restaurant, presentation, and server were all quality - I do remember that much. A great burger for lunch but not a top 10 in the country or anything to drive to Kentucky for. The place is more of a nice restaurant and far from a burger stand. Quality ingredients and quality staff. Did I mention quality?

These pics are over a month old and were taken from my iPhone.

22 September 2010

Habitat for Humanity

I recently transitioned jobs and during the time in between I was finally able to check something off of one of my 'lists'. I have wanted to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity for some time but just could never fit it in. So I finally did it. I signed up online and helped work on a local house in a Habitat community off of Oakland Park Blvd West.

Here are 2 pics that were taken with my iPhone at the end of the shift.

Me and the Site Manager.

Me and the 2 guys that I worked with.

Here is a link to the local Broward County chapter if you are interested in donating your time. Habitat Broward.

Big 10 or BigTwelve?

While I was on my honeymoon a few months back some of the more prestigious NCAA football conferences attempted some major adjustments. The PAC10 ended up adding 2 teams and is planning to rename and re-brand their conference so they can finally have a conference championship like the SEC and Big 12.

What I am very curious about is the potential renaming of the BigTen and the Big 12. I bring this up because the BigTen already had 11 teams and has now added one more. So will it now become the BigTwelve? And a bit down south, the Big 12 had twelve teams and now will have 10. Will they then change to the Big 10?

Overall, the changes for the BigTen and the PAC10 should definitely help college football.

06 August 2010

Gilbert's 17th Street Grill

Taking the recommendation of the recent Sun Sentinel Best Burger poll, we went to Gilbert’s 17th Street Grill in Ft. Lauderdale the other night for dinner. Gilbert’s is a bit different from the staple 'best burger' joints one might encounter when traveling around the country. The major differentiator here being the location's age. This is because this Gilbert’s establishment can’t be more than 5 years old; where most other burger classics have 30 years plus on this newborn.

Opening up the door and entering in you quickly realize this is a friendly establishment that probably caters to a busy business lunch crowd. When you complete your order you are given a number to post on your table so the food runners know where to drop your burger baskets off.

We arrived late, 8:30ish, marched right up to the area where the ordering line forms. We studied the menu and then went to the register to place our order. Behind the counter was Mr. Gilbert himself. We didn’t know that at the time, but his caliber of service indicated that this gentleman was probably more than just an order taker and it was confirmed later when we were waiting for our baskets and Mr. Gibert was working the room to make his guests feel more comfortable. During that time he introduced himself. I can’t remember a time in south Florida where someone delivered such premiere service.

I ordered their cheeseburger after salivating by watching the grill. I wanted one of the more deluxe burgers (bleu cheese or bacon) but figured trip #1 should be with the classic. Behind the cash register you could see these heaping burgers scattered all over the grill’s hot surface. They must roll out a sheet of angus meat about an inch thick and then use a round cutter to punch out the patties. I say this because of how loose and large the patties appeared as they were carried to the grill area. I completed my order with sweet potato fries and told the gentleman medium rare when asked about my temp.

A while later our baskets arrived. Mine was cooked pretty much perfect. The outside of my burger was charred to lock in juices. The inside had a cool, completely pink center. This perfect patty had 2 or 3 slices of American cheese tossed on top. These are the fresh kind of deli cheese slices that they probably sliced in the back themselves. Then on the other side of the open face bun was fresh lettuce and tomato. Sitting behind my burger in my basket was a handful of sweet potato fries cut in perfect strips and fried off in brand new oil. I also asked for a side of barbeque sauce to dip my fries in.

I cut my burger in half and worked through it like it was my job. The ingredients Gilbert’s uses are top notch. My cheeseburger could have used some more seasoning. I’m not sure if some salt and pepper would have done the trick or maybe some additional spices. But I knew ahead of time from the Sentinel article that they opt to keep the meat unaltered and not add anything to their Angus.

Overall, great service, good quality food, and a staple location. I’ll be back.

--Note all of these photos were taken with my iPhone. You can click on each of them for a better image.--