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00h UTC; SATURDAY, 6 APRIL 2013: Some random observations and thoughts, mostly from Mein Innkeeper Friend, vis-a-vis the annual road trip to Austin, MN yesterday (mostly to accomodate the innkeeper's annual tax-related accounting session):
  • What kind of long-haul truck driver (cf. The Weather Channel's current reality-driven series Loaded) would have the right mind to break at an adult bookstore thus targeting (as in the Pure Pleasure such located at I-90 Minnesota exit 209A&B)? Is it really essential for long-haul truckers to waste time on curiosa as actually excuses violence against women?
  • Just west of the aforementioned Exit 209A&B, Your Correspondent noticed some wild-growth trees as may be a little too close to the I-90 westbound right-of-way. Enough to wonder what the minimum setback therefor in this respect is, especially before the tree(s) in question, thanks to rot and age, fall onto the traffic lanes and cause serious traffic disruptions which budget cuts and/or sequestration could make all the worse.
  • Given that The Hormel Institute's offices and laboratories are located at the same exit for the SPAM Museum (i.e., I-90 Minnesota exit 178B), and next to Hormel's Corporate Offices, Mein Innkeeper Friend wondered what exactly they're involved in. (It turns out they're involved largely in cancer research, and is a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic, with the Hormel Foundation providing initial financial support.)
  • Out of curiosity, how many of the Hormel Girls (as in Music With the Hormel Girls, as aired on radio and TV from 1947 to 1953; an offshoot of SPAM Post 297, The American Legion, such evolved into a sampling and demonstration force for Hormel's products) are still around 60 years following their disbanding? And would they have some sort of a "Last Girl Club" to toast the memory of the last few such remaining, if and when the time comes?
  • If you visit this website I did for The Motel I Do For here in Winona, kindly take note of where such was recently improved with its distance (expressed in driving terms) relative to a number of particularly popular and campy "shoobie traps" as include The SPAM Museum; Mall of America; Wisconsin Dells; Wall Drug; Cedar Point; Breezewood, PA; Cabela's flagship store (Sidney, NE); the L.L. Bean Store (Freeport, ME); Weeki Wachee Springs; Sea Lion Caves; even Disneyland and Walt Disney World. To which Mein Innkeeper Friend suggested incorporating distances to, among other Interesting Places, Key West and the northwesternmost, northeasternmost, &c., corners of the United States. (Including, for good measure, what turns out being the westernmost point of the entire United States, as in Attu Island in the Aleutians chain out Alaska way.)
  • As a pace-changer, it was decided to drive back part of the way on what used to be US 16 easterly out of Austin (now Mower County 46) before I-90 opened in that general area in the early 1960's, essentially supplanting US 16 as far as Dexter (I-90 Minnesota exit 193; in 1979, with the completion of the last I-90 segment in Minnesota, US 16 lost its Federal routing status in Minnesota and Wisconsin, reduced thus to state highway status).
  • Sargeant, MN (Mein Innkeeper Friend's ancestral hometown, as it were) isn't exactly what it used to be: Its current population is down to about 65, the Post Office was closed a few years back (mail therefor now goes through Hayfield), the railroad has since been torn up and a local general store has closed. (But they still have a bank and grain elevator.) Still, though, Mein Innkeeper Friend can't help but imagine the general area being populated by "crazy" types for the most part.
  • Out of curiosity, Mein Innkeeper Friend would like to know, what would be a typical lease offered farmers for the installation of wind-power turbines on his property, particularly from the standpoint of income? (In a somewhat irrelevant vein, how exactly does renewable energy, as in the windpower farm near Dexter you can't help but notice driving along I-90 in that general area, threaten the economy, let alone Our National and Sovereign Identity as a Peculiar Among the Nations or even morals, decency and common sense, as "Tea Party" prolefeed wants the Real American to believe?)
  • Anyone visiting The SPAM Museum will definitely want to stock up on a few cans of the old SPAM in its gift shop adjunct, especially where certain varieties aren't easily available "back home" (including SPAM Garlic, SPAM Jalapeno, SPAM with Bacon and SPAM Lite). And it turns out that buying SPAM from The SPAM Shop may actually be a better value than buying it at the supermarket, what with its being an ur-outlet store. (Historical Sidelight: In the early years of the Hormel company, an important sideline was the Hormel Provision Market in Beautiful Downtown Austin, which took pride in offering the best values on meats, hams, bacon and sausage--and paid the best prices for butter, eggs, wool and hides.)
  • Interesting sidelight on the SPAM menu at Jimmy's Skillet, just a short walk from The SPAM Museum and offering several SPAM specialities: The unisex restroom in back has as a planter for the ivy therein an old 50-lb. can for Hormel Dairy Brand Lard (for years, Dairy Brand was Hormel's top line brand for hams, bacon and sausage, and it was Dairy Brand Ham that was the subject of Hormel's first national advertising in Ladies' Home Journal back in 1911; the name coming from the fact of its pork being produced from hogs fed on skimmed milk from the southern Minnesota/northern Iowa region where Hormel procured most of its hogs.)
  • The old meatpackers' maxim about their "processing everything except the squeal" inspired Hormel to name its employee house organ The Squeal, since restyled The Hormel Newsmagazine and still coming out monthly, AFAIK. (Any Hormel employees who know otherwise will kindly let me know.)
Otherwise, trying to recover from a head cold with raspy-sounding voice.

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