The Search for the Perfect Tenderloin

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 8th, 2011 by MadDog
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I have but two days left here in the heartland of America. Three weeks of acclimation to the Hoosier culture has had little effect on me, except to remind me that I normally dwell in a place that might be taken to be on different planet. After living in Papua New Guinea for thirty years, I inevitably feel out of place in the USA – as if I am a foreigner. Of course, it’s natural that I still experience that same feeling while at home in Madang, since I am  a foreigner there. My conclusion is that I don’t really fit anywhere now. I am, in a sense, a man without a country. I won’t complain about that. I chose the life and it has been a great ride. I will have to live with the feeling of being a Stranger in a Strange Land for the rest of my life, no matter where I am. There are worse things . . .

I got only one decent sunrise shot while here in Hoosierland. The weather has been mostly miserable, causing huge floods south of here. In this shot the prevailing cloud structures are aircraft contrails, something never seen in Madang:

My search for the perfect tenderloin is being rudely interrupted by my departure for Illinois on Tuesday. I’ll be there for a few nights and then off to Wisconsin for the last of my meetings with supporters. Then I’ll be heading for Canada for three weeks of genuine R&R. I am very glad that my son, Hans, is picking me up  in Brownsburg and shepherding me through my last adventures in the Midwest.

I did manage to find an excellent candidate at Green Street Station in Brownsburg. They had a choice of “beer battered” or “crispy”. The waitress suggested that the crispy was less oily. As is the Hoosier tradition, the tenderloin was fairly thick and twice the diameter of the bun. There is plenty of protein there, kiddies. The fries were so-so:

As with most food in this genre, it’s best consumed with a rich, full-bodied brew, chock full of vitamin B. It this case it was a Killian’s Red Ale. The sandwich tasted just as I expected. Despite my shaky sense of smell, I could tell that it fit the tradition. It was a good feed. I could consume only half of it, so I had another good lunch the next day, thanks to a microwave oven.

Another candidate for a good sandwich feed can be found at Squealers with locations in Indianapolis and Mooresville. Though the meat in this sandwich can be found in other parts of the world, I don’t think that there is any place else where it is called pulled pork. That sounds vaguely disgusting to me. There are may different ways of serving it. In this case it was “sauce on the side”, which is my preference:

The pork at Squealers is excellent, very tasty and tender. The baked beans were also very good, but might be too sweet for some. As with the tenderloin I washed it down with a Killian’s. (Hey, I’m on holiday.)

That pretty well covers my culinary adventures in The Crossroads of America. I probably won’t be reporting what I eat until I hit Canada. I’m sure to make an appearance at Rebel’s Rock in Hamilton. Eunie and I have always gone there for a great evening of live music while in Canada. You’ll just have to wait. I’ll have pictures such as these and these. Oh, goody – available light shots.

Speaking of birds . . . uh . . . okay, now  speaking of birds, I had a very nice couple of hours at the Eagle Creek Park Ornithology Center a few days ago with my friend and host, Steve Hassfurder. I have enjoyed a wonderful time here with Steve and his very pleasant wife, Marta. Steve and I have some significant life experience in common. It has been very helpful to me to talk to him about this. Some of it has been stressful for him, I know. I see it as a mark of friendship that he was willing to give me the benefit of his experience and convey to me some of the wisdom he gained along the way.

Hmmm . . . was I talking about birds? It seems so:

That’s a shot of one of the observation stations. Both stations are indoors, so winter viewing should be reasonably comfy. The other one looks out over a special conservation area of Eagle Creek Reservoir. It’s my understanding that Eagle Creek Park is the second largest city operated park in the world.

I got this shot of a Common (or Northern) Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  from the window in the image above. In Indiana it is usually called, simply, a Redbird:

This is a male. The female is rather dingy in comparison. I was told that if I sat in that room for a year I would very likely see over 270 species of bird life, but I would starve in the process. I had no idea that Indiana hosted such a huge number of species. Some of those, of course, would be migratory and not permanent residents. You know – like me! I am very migratory these days.

I can’t leave Hoosierland without showing you this very peculiar image. No, kiddies, this is not an up-and-coming executive treating his precious V-Dub to a little pre-wash tickle. This is the “greeter” (and cashier) at Mike’s Car Wash, a very popular vehicle grooming establishment in central Indiana. I’m serious, folks:

The basic wash is five bucks, a reasonable price these days, I suppose. The nice fellow will, of course, attempt to sell you all of the optional waxes, shiners, protections, glazes and tire glosses that trick out your ride and make you feel as if you have moved up a couple of income brackets. These last until the next rain. Be frugal. Your car is simply dirty. It needs no pampering. Pamper a human. It’s much more rewarding and the results last longer.

As a public service I will now brave the possibility of a take-down notice to expose one of those obnoxious As Seen On TV rip-offs which poison our minds with false dreams of ease and comfort which will enrich our lives and allow us to achieve the true happiness guaranteed by our beloved Constitution.*

UPDATE: My son, a student of political science among other things, pointed out to me in a comment that it is the Declaration of Independence and not the US Constitution which hints that we are free to knock ourselves out in the pursuit of happiness. My embarrassment falls short of acute. Like many other bits of information, I used to know that, but it has long been displaced by data which is more crucial to my survival. Thanks, Hans.

I have been disgusted on numerous occasions by the stupid, frivolous and apparently misleading TV commercial for an utterly ridiculous product called EasyFeet. If you have not already been offended by viewing this you can torture yourself here. (I’d be interested to know if anyone else is shocked by the much-too-old boy and girl in a bathtub together.)

I admit to being suckered by this product for about ten seconds. I spend very little time thinking of my feet or tending to them and I have absolutely no problem reaching them. However, the idea of simply slipping my tootsie into such a cute scrubbing device . . . hey, wait! My feet are insanely ticklish. Want to reduce me to spasms of raw panic? Just tickle my feet. I bet you can’t wait to try it, eh? No, this thing is not for me.

There are two web sites which purport to report about “As Seen on TV” items. One, As Seen On TV On Sale, seems to be legitimate. You can see its page about EasyFeet here. When I looked at it there were 303 reviews. I could find few which were complementary. The other “As Seen On TV” site seems to be purely promotional. There are also many sites that seem bogus to me and may be part of a web campaign to flood the Google result pages with glowing reviews and opportunities to purchase EasyFeet.

Why did I waste so much of your precious time with that? Sorry, I have no amusing excuses. “The dog ate it” is not going to work on this occasion.

I’ll try to do better next time.

* I should add a disclaimer here. The US Constitution does not, by any stretch of the imagination, guarantee happiness. What it does seem to imply is that we have an inalienable right to pursue happiness, which is an altogether different thing. Any fool can see that we are, with supreme effort, pursuing happiness with the vigor of a pack of bloodhounds. We are absolutely relentless in our pursuit of earthly bliss. The glitter of terrestrial Nirvana (not the band) glows like a beacon in the distance. Alas, few of us actually get our fingers through the brass ring.

I’ve stopped praying for happiness. I’ve switched to praying for wisdom. I reckon that some happiness will come packed inside.

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Warp Speed in Indy

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 2nd, 2011 by MadDog
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Today the news is dominated by the execution of Osama bin Laden by a team of US Navy Seals. I’m trying to think of a time in history when so many people celebrated a death. I’m sure that some are grieving and many others are angry. I suspect that they are outnumbered by those who rejoice. This seems to be a pretty sad comment on the man’s life. Few will note my passing, but I’d like to think that fewer still will celebrate it.

I am desperate this morning to devise some trickery to make this post interesting. I feel flat and listless. The weather here has been miserable. Sad, grey days with no hint of the warm, cheerful light of the sun. It’s depressing weather and it’s not helping my mood one bit. At least there is no snow. I’ve seen one sunny day since I’ve been here in Indiana.

I’ll toss out a few random bits from my so-called adventures of the last few days and see if anything inspires me to vocalise.

My cousin, Jack Stephenson, hauled me around a few days ago for some sightseeing. While we were at lunch he showed me some images he had stored on his phone. Understand that this is still a new thing to me, a phone which takes pictures and stores them. What will they think of next? Anyway, he had two very nice images of a red fox. He got them at Yellowstone National Park. I asked if I could show them. Here they are:

They are both nicely composed.

Thanks, Jack.

We had lunch at an ancient tavern in Indianapolis, The Workingman’s Friend:

I remember the place from my childhood and high-school years, but I’d never been inside.

Much is made of the quality of the food at TWF. I chose unwisely. I was expecting a huge, hand-breaded Hoosier-style tenderloin sandwich when I ordered, smacking my lips. What I got was this:

A soggy, manufactured bit of unidentifiable meat covered by some kind of crumbly substance. Don’t order the tenderloin.

If you’re looking for a down-home American working class cultural experience, stop by here:

Try the smashed burger. It looks better than the tenderloin.

We also went to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. I’d been there before with Eunie, so I once again got that weird feeling and found myself turning my head to see where she had gone. I took a few snaps of esoterica. This is Harry Jackson’s, The Marshall, a coloured bronze of John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn:

I snapped many interesting items, but the collection of images is too rambling, even for MPBM. Here is one more which I found fascinating – a 2,000 year old duck decoy:

The Eiteljorg is a place which inspires cultural introspection. The history of indigenous Americans is not full of joy. Hopefully, the long sad era of human history which was characterised by conquest is over. There is hardly any place left to invade and dominate, one would hope. There will be, of course, petty thieves who will hop borders to pillage and loot, but these will be mere fly-specks on the pages of history. No, we’ve simply run out of profitable targets.

I have but a week left here in gloomy Indiana. Maybe the weather will clear. My son, Hans, will drive from Canada to retrieve me from Brownsburg, haul me to Illinois for a few days visiting with Eunie’s family and thence to Wisconsin for a meeting with a supporting church. Then it is off to Canada, Hamilton, Ontario, to be exact. I’ll be there for two weeks. I’ll then fly away to Sedona, Arizona for a while. All of my meetings and stressful obligations will be finished when I arrive in Canada. I plan to allow myself to unwind and rediscover some joy.

Some have asked when I’ll return to Madang. I can’t answer that exactly at this time, because my time here is doing me a lot of good and it’s limited only by the number of couches I can crash on. I’ll spend not a dollar on a hotel, so I’m looking for hospitality. I’ve been given leave to take as much time as I need. I know my work is waiting for me when I return and I am more grateful for that than I can express.

Healing comes month-by-month. I’m infinitely grateful.

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