We love the Wiener! (And Still Champion!)

My mom is visiting this weekend. Kate and I dragged my mom to Wiener and Still Champion in Evanston. My mom had a Dippin' Dog, WASC's name for their hand-battered corn dogs, which she loved. Kate and I each had a dog and split an order of fries. Afterward, we were still a bit hungry, so we went back for more, and I ordered three more dippin' dogs. Man, those were good. I love the batter on the dogs; it's very similar to corn bread. Yum. Definitely worth the train ride to Dempster.

Amazon EC2

Does anybody out there use Amazon EC2 to host their web sites and/or web applications? I'm intrigued by the concept, and am debating signing up, spending a few bucks, checking it out. No server to colo, yet you're not restricted with regard to what OS you can run and what apps you can run on it. So, I could have a custom Ubuntu box doing whatever I want -- hosting all my websites, running a bit of MySQL, etc. Is it worth the effort?

Heartland Cafe Reopens

Read about it here.

From reading the Channel 2 News Story, sounds like the owners have caught on to the fact that whining about their situation wasn't helping their case in the press (or on the blogs). Now I'm seeing Ms. Hogan talk more about the future, how they've fixed things, taking this very seriously, and not seeing any more "OMG, the city was so mean to us!"

We're trying to decide if we want to come check it out or not. We're glad to hear that things may be cleaned up and improved, but I'm also thinking that RoPa is much more deserving of our limited entertainment dollars.

Help My Friends Peter and Ericka?

My friends Peter and Ericka in Minneapolis are struggling under the weight of the sagging economy, and their home is facing foreclosure. I've known Peter long enough and well enough to know that he's not a screw up -- he's not secretly taking donations and using them for drugs or something. He's a hard worker who's been out of work lately. Ericka is disabled. Their home has been significantly modified to make life easier and more comfortable for her. That's the kicker. If they lose their house -- they're not only out the house, but wherever they end up next, they'll have to modify that place for Ericka, and that won't come cheap.

They were actually only about $9k in the hole, and they've already made up some of that through some hard work on Peter's part and through the kindess of friends and strangers. Would you consider donating a few bucks toward helping them save their house? Any amount would help.

Why not take that money you were going to donate to public radio this time around and donate it for this cause instead? The reward is that you're actively helping someobody to keep a roof over their head.

For more information, and a link to donate via Paypal, visit http://tinyurl.com/by9xot

Thanks for listening, and I'll stand down off my soap box now.

Heartland Cafe

I just saw this article linked from the front page of the Chicago Tribune. Was already aware, first heard about it on Twitter, and then on the blogs, but here's some more detail.

Heartland Cafe was closed for the following health code violations: mouse feces throughout; a slimy black mold inside its automatic ice machine that was dripping into the ice-forming tray; and 24 pounds of food that should have been stored at below 40 degrees Fahrenheit that was warmer, including shredded chicken, tofu and cut vegetables.

All together now.......EWWW.

Read the whole story here.

In the article, the owner complains that the city's response was harsh. I disagree. When somebody gets sick and the health department comes in and takes a look, it is standard practice to shut the place down until all violations are rectified. Why? So nobody else gets sick before everything is resolved. You don't get "a few days" to work that out while staying open.

Kate and I stopped going here long ago because the food never seemed to be hot enough, the silverware and glasses were always grimy, and the general environment of the place just wasn't clean enough to our standards. Is that related to the current issues? Hard to say, as I'm not an expert on these things. But, in my uninformed opinion, I guess this doesn't surprise me all that much.

Finally, I would point out that though I'm no longer a vegetarian, I was one in the past. I regularly eat vegetarian and vegan fare, and I really enjoy tofu. Ever tried a veggie burger with bacon and cheese on it? It's confusing, but delicious. So I really, really wanted to enjoy the Heartland Cafe. The menu seems right up my alley. So trust me when I tell you that I'm not trashing the place due to a dislike for the "granola nature" of this place. If they could actually pull it off, I'd be over there for lunch or dinner a couple of times a week.

RoPa Reminder

Have you stopped into RoPa on Wednesday night for a $4 martini yet? They make 'em right. And the food is good, too. My fave of late is the cajun tilapia.

RoPa is at 1146 W Pratt, just east of Pratt and Sheridan. Good stuff!

Uncommon Ground on Devon

Uncommon Ground over on Devon got a quick, but positive write up over on Chicagoist today. Read it >>