African Connection links are now in the sidebar to the right, just below the My Travel section.

Click here to see a La Crosse Tribune article about the mission in Uganda.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

X Rated

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Duane Purvis? "Huh?" is probably the number one response, unless, perchance, you are a Purdue University aficionado. Or if you regularly watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Channel. There is this redundantly and somewhat contradictorily named drive-in in West Lafayette, Indiana, just a few blocks down from the Purdue campus, the Triple XXX Family Restaurant. As the owners put it, "Indiana's First Drive-In," (it opened in 1929) and, in all modesty, I'm sure, "Still Indiana's Finest!" And yes, Guy Fieri did bring his Triple DDD road show to the Triple XXX, the episode running in August of 2007.

I've had the experience of dining at the Triple XXX during my many visits to Purdue over the years. They serve hamburgers, fries, milkshakes and the world famous Triple XXX Root Beer. Food items are named for Purdue athletes, including one Duane Purvis, pride of Mattoon, Illinois and an All-American halfback in 1933 and 1934. It is a classic burger with a twist - one side of the bun receives a generous coating of peanut butter. I have, over the years, sampled a number of dishes using peanuts to flavor meat dishes, but it was in this small, western Indiana drive-in where I first encountered the combination.

If I were to ponder the nutritional implications of lunch at Triple XXX, which I don’t by the way, but IF I did, I would have to conclude that the X in the name is taken from a list of medical abbreviations. And that it stands for "bypass." But sometimes you just have to pay the price if you want a real culinary experience.

It was another form of Triple XXX that I sampled on my ride this last Saturday. The day was cool and gray, making it a really good day for a ride. Not too hot, not too cool, but, to quote the well-known Ms. Locks, "...just right." So right that I decided to take on climbs up Bliss Road, County OA and County FO - the big three nearest town. And, on the side, I opted for two trips each to the ends (or tops, as the case may be) of County FA, Ebner Coulee Road and Old Vineyard Road, the latter providing short but intense climbs to begin and end the ride. Sometimes you need to pay the price to have a ride as good as this one.

Monday, September 20, 2010

All the News That's Fit

"What did I do today?" you ask. Well, among other things, I checked the various news services to take the pulse of the nation on this momentous occasion. Here’s a smattering of what I found...

'Genetically modified' salmon?
Recipe for a new Catholic priest

I think these two may be related. We've known for years what little girls and boys are made of: Sugar and spice and all that's nice and Frogs and snails and puppy-dogs tails, respectively. Now, it appears, someone has cracked the codes for salmon and priests. But the code for engineers - that's another story altogether.

Murder defense: Too much caffeine
I’m going to have to remember this one. You know, just in case.

Paris Hilton admits cocaine was hers
Ok, how is this news? Or a surprise?

World leaders to discuss poverty
And then they'll think they've done something about it.

GOP's feminine side playing catch-up
I DON’T want to know!

5 billionth photo uploaded to Flickr
I just love my new 10,000 terabyte card! Hope you enjoy my pictures. It was the least I could do for you all.

Corvette ZR-1: Great body, iffy face
Just like me. Except for that first one.

Gaga to speak at 'don't ask, don't tell' rally
Don't ask.

Can Vikings, Favre be fixed after 0-2 start?
When coach Childress calls in the vet, those guys better lay low.

How much corruption is too much?
If you have to ask...

Your iPhone, Blackberry can double as hotel key
So can your hammer.

Why men talk like pirates
Johnny Depp. No brainer.

As you can see, it was a pretty slow news day. And not ONE mention of my birthday. [sigh]

Well, there are all of you well wishers on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks. I appreciate it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


What is it about me, a bike and what passes for wild animals around here? In 2007, there was the now famous encounter with a cow on County Road X. Unable to decide what to do about my presence, this considerably larger-than-my-bike bovine proceeded to lead me up the hill in a dance to which only she knew the moves. Except I’m not so sure even she knew them. It was a low speed affair, however, and as such, more entertaining than frightening.

Things were a bit more exciting last weekend. Mohawk Valley Road provides one of the many enjoyable climbs that are available around here. A rolling uphill section gives way to a fairly gentle climb. Wooded slopes rise up on your left while to the right, the hill falls away into an open valley. A sharp bend to the left puts you at the beginning of the steeper part of the climb. And, approaching the top, there are three short stretches that push up even more, reaching grades around 11% to 13%. A scenic climb with enough challenge to be rewarding.

On this day it was only a short stay on the ridge - every bit of 20 yards to Proksch Coulee Road which drops away suddenly on its way back towards Stoddard. You come quickly to a sharp bend that makes you glad you had Dan check the brakes during the last tune up.

It was here, just coming out of the curve, that I encountered two squirrels trapped in a crisis of indecision. In the brief time I had them in my sight they skittered back and forth, apparently captured by some mysterious gravitational force that always pulled them back towards the middle of the road. Then, just before the crash that might have done as much damage to me as to them, they made a decision and disappeared into the woods to my left.

Sometimes you have to do that. Decide. Left or right. It’s better than the middle of the road. Last night I gave a presentation to a local professional society about our work with schools in Uganda. It just reminded me that there is more to do. And decisions to make in order to move on.

There’s this quote I stumbled upon today: “To say that you care is one thing. To show that you care is quite another.” Those squirrels really cared about getting out of the way. But they had to finally make the decision to run off the road to have it make any difference. To them and to me. Left or right; maybe neither are perfect; but either preferable to skittering about in the middle of the road.