The Great Blizzard of 1978

One of my favorite inter­net stops is the Cub­by-Blue blog by Tim Souers. Tim is an excel­lent artist, a pas­sion­ate Cubs fan, and a cre­ative genius. Three days ago he post­ed illus­trat­ed instruc­tions for mak­ing Banof­fee pie. Part of the process calls for whip­ping your own whipped cream. This led to my post­ing the fol­low­ing sto­ry in the comments.

A long time ago…it was my first year out of Indi­ana U., liv­ing in mar­ried hous­ing (my bride still being in school) and work­ing as a super­vi­sor in one of the dorm cafeterias.

The Great Bliz­zard of ’78 arrived. I walked to work through snow up to my armpits. Giv­en the weath­er few (if any) oth­er full time employ­ees made it in. But the stu­dent work­ers were avail­able. My job was to trim the menu to what the stu­dent work­ers could pre­pare with­out the help of full time staff.

The desert menu called for zebra pud­ding which is choco­late gra­ham crack­ers lined up on edge with whipped cream in between and then cut on a diag­o­nal. The whipped cream was made on site. I gave the stu­dent the go ahead to make it and a bit of instruc­tion (not quite the blind lead­ing the blind…a few gal­lons of whip­ping cream and a bunch of sug­ar in the floor mix­er and whip til it peaks).

A few min­utes lat­er I returned to see how it was going. We shut the mix­er off and checked if it peaked and it just about did and I said “anoth­er minute” and we turned it on and I turned around from that huge bowl full of white fluffy whipped cream to some paper on a clip­board on a stain­less steel table and talked about some­thing or other.

I turned back around and the bowl was no longer full of white fluffy whipped cream. No, it had col­lapsed and was now a small­er (but still large) quan­ti­ty of butter.

No zebra pud­ding was served that day and the desert/​pastry chef had less need of but­ter or sug­ar for a cou­ple of weeks.

I Guess Sports Are Not So Important After All

The Fort Wayne Jour­nal Gazette ran an arti­cle recent­ly not­ing that Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty ranks in the top ten among all U.S. col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in pri­vate-sec­tor gifts and grants in fis­cal year 2010 (who’s fis­cal year is not clear, seem like there could be sev­er­al dif­fer­ent ones involved).

Giv­en that I attend­ed I.U., I think this is pret­ty cool. I must admit I find it a bit hard to believe, but hey, who am I to say.

The real­ly inter­est­ing part of this is that I.U. has achieved this lev­el of gifts while both the foot­ball and the bas­ket­ball teams suck (there is no oth­er way to say it).


Yes­ter­day I slept late. Late even for me. So I ate a late, light break­fast and made it through most of the after­noon with­out think­ing about food. By sup­per­time I was hun­gry. I could feel the empti­ness of my stom­ach. I was remind­ed of the first time in my life that I felt hunger.

I was 21 years old.

I had stayed at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty in Bloom­ing­ton for the sum­mer to take a cou­ple of class­es. I believe the dorms were all closed for the sum­mer so I sub­let a trail­er and spent what amount­ed to a most­ly mis­er­able sum­mer. I took a cou­ple of class­es, but I did not get a job so I was depen­dent on mon­ey from home.

I should point out that the U.S. Post Office rou­tine­ly scanned the mail from my par­ents to me. If the scan revealed a check to be in the enve­lope, then the let­ter was shelved for a few days before deliv­ery. When no check was present, the let­ter arrived in my mail box the day after it was mailed. I know this makes me sound like a con­spir­a­cy nut (which I’m not despite my belief that Oswald did not act alone) and a bit para­noid (but when every­one is out to get you, you won’t care what you sound like either).

Any­ways, checks always seemed to take awhile. Added to that was the prob­lem that I spent my mon­ey poor­ly. I blew it on, gulp, com­ic books and Coca-Cola. There, I’ve admit­ted it. Sad but true. I have box­es of com­ic books in the garage to prove it. Don’t wor­ry, I already gave the few that had any val­ue to my son.

Any­ways, I was dim­ly aware that I man­aged my mon­ey poor­ly, so I tried to delay ask­ing for mon­ey as long as pos­si­ble. At one point that sum­mer, I went though my mon­ey quick­er than usu­al and so I delayed the call home longer than usu­al. And just to keep the roll going the Post Office shelved the let­ter longer than usual.

I ran out of food.

If you’ve read this far, it is prob­a­bly not a sur­prise to you that I grew up in a rea­son­ably well to do house­hold and that my exis­tence had been some­what pam­pered (in spite of the part time job through­out high school) up to that point. As a result, I had no clue that I could have found some one will­ing to feed me (at least, I assume that is true).

The only edi­ble thing left in the trail­er was Cool Whip. I ate that.

I was begin­ning to feel a bit weak and I dreamed of stacks of pan­cakes, of which I am not all that fond.

And I thought about how I had nev­er expe­ri­enced hunger before. Sure, I had used the word, but only in the sense that it seemed every­one used the word: it’s been three or four hours since I ate so it is time to eat so I am hun­gry. That was all the word meant to me, that it was time to eat.

After a few days, the check arrived and I still had the strength to buy gro­ceries. For some rea­son, the urge to eat pan­cakes had passed, so I spared myself that.

And despite yes­ter­day, I have nev­er felt true hunger since.

Knock on wood. (I always hit my knuck­les on my head with that phrase since one can nev­er be sure of the com­po­si­tion of objects that once upon a time were reli­ably wood­en. I do not doubt the wood­en­ness of my head).

A Time I Spoke Stupidly

I can not believe I did not think of this a cou­ple of days ago.

My senior year at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty (1977), I man­aged a job as a part time super­vi­sor in the MRC/​LLC dorm cafe­te­ria. There were a few less than kind things that could be said of me back then (and to this day?), but the per­ti­nent info for this sto­ry is that I was a bit of a fas­cist in so far as that means I did not yet under­stand that rules were meant to be broken.

I was a hard ass, always try­ing to enforce every rule at all times. It is not beyond the pale that stu­dents were mak­ing fun of me behind my back (I don’t think they were, but it’s possible).

Of course, the stu­dents, being col­lege stu­dents, pret­ty much nev­er heard of a rule that they did­n’t think exist­ed so to be broken.

In spite of that set up, my mem­o­ry of that job is not dom­i­nat­ed by con­flict between me and every­one else. In fact, I only remem­ber a cou­ple of times that things got out of hand. Once was when some stu­dents were attempt­ing to smug­gle food out of the cafe­te­ria to eat on the ride home. In my mem­o­ry, one stu­dent attempt­ed to toss a bag of food over my head to anoth­er stu­dent wait­ing out­side the din­ing hall. I inter­cept­ed the bag, but the activ­i­ty led to the door (a beau­ti­ful old wood­en door) sus­tain­ing some damage.

I do not remem­ber what led to the sec­ond inci­dent. I remem­ber a cou­ple of stu­dents on the oth­er side of the counter and I was becom­ing exas­per­at­ed with what­ev­er the sit­u­a­tion was. After some “dis­cus­sion”, I final­ly said “You peo­ple!”, mean­ing “stu­dents.” The prob­lem was the stu­dents I was talk­ing too were African-American.

They under­stand­ably react­ed a bit neg­a­tive­ly to my state­ment and asked what I meant by it. I respond­ed “Stu­dents.” One of them start­ed accus­ing me of bring­ing race into the dis­cus­sion and I prompt­ly replied that I was not the first one to bring up race. Appar­ent­ly my sin­cer­i­ty shined through because they let it go pret­ty quick­ly (more quick­ly than I deserved…I may have been sin­cere, but it was still stu­pid of me).

I’m just hap­py that for talk­ing stu­pid­ly I did not have to pay the penal­ty of hav­ing to drink a Bud Light. Gaaa!


I have always been amazed at how easy it is to see a face in what is real­ly a ran­dom “pat­tern”. Clouds, tree bark, weird tex­tile prints are just a few exam­ples of where a “face” can be found.

Back in the mid-sev­en­ties, when I was attend­ing Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty, an artist vis­it­ed cam­pus. (Well, prob­a­bly a few artists over the years I was there, but I was only aware of one). I do not remem­ber his name, but I do remem­ber watch­ing him do his thing in the hall­way of the stu­dent union.

He had a table set up dis­play­ing a col­lec­tion of recent draw­ings. They were very small, maybe three inch­es square and there was prob­a­bly fifty of them. All but three or four were faces.

His schtick at the time was tak­ing a small piece of paper, lay­ing a cou­ple of con­te pen­cils on the paper, plac­ing anoth­er sheet of paper on top, press­ing his hand on the stack and rotat­ing his hand. This result­ed in some ran­dom marks on the paper. Then he would look at the ran­dom marks, see a pic­ture and add a line, some def­i­n­i­tion, etc. to bring the pic­ture out.

One can see why so much of his work turned out to be faces.

He did a demon­stra­tion while a group of stu­dents watched. He stacked up his paper and con­te, rubbed it with his hand, and pre­sent­ed us with the raw “draw­ing”. I clear­ly saw a small stone cot­tage with a gar­den in front and a stone wall in front of the gar­den with a gate on the right and a path to the cot­tage door. He asked the opin­ion of the attrac­tive girl stand­ing next to me who saw, sur­prise, sur­prise, a face!

Today Alt­house linked to Acci­den­tal Mys­ter­ies which has a post about a French artist who makes faces out of toi­let paper tubes. I find them more impres­sive than the artist I saw at IU thir­ty some years ago, even if too many of them look like a George Bush.