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Day 4. Food comes to the foreground. October 25, 2006

Posted by Bill Carroll in casinos, Chemistry, Evansville, Extreme Farewell Tour, national chemistry week.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
11 PM
Aztar Casino Hotel, Evansville, IN

Breakfast came at the bountiful breakfast bar of the Casino.  They had a unique dish; kind of their own version of “Toad in a Hole.”  Take a piece of toast, cut out a 4 inch diameter circle, drop in an egg and fry it in situ.  Then put the little 4” toast piece back on as a hat over the egg.  Nice, but no match for the elegant simplicity of the Egg McMuffin.

Today we were all over Evansville.  First off, I spoke to a group of HS students from a number of schools in the Evansville area after they had participated in a Mole Day chemistry bowl.  Of course, it was a sub-optimal situation; I had to follow longtime ACS activist Marie Hankins who did a great demo show.  Marie is the first person I’ve seen who will use dry ice to blow up a soda bottle…indoors.  She does it inside a 50 gallon polyethylene waste basket and stuff still goes flying, to say nothing of a huge report.  She says she has to be careful or the ceiling tiles suffer.  These types of experiments outdoors typically draw police from ten miles away.

Turoni’s For - Get - Me - Not - InnThen it was time for lunch.  An ACS staff member, Rebecca Achurch is a former resident of Evansville and a fellow DePauw alum.  She wrote us to make sure that we knew that a trip to Evansville was not complete without a meal at Turoni’s pizza parlor.  So insistent was she that LaTrease, Dennis and I decided to go there for lunch instead of Corky’s Bar-B-Que, which initially brought tears of joy to LaTrease.

Once in Turoni’s we ordered the house special, augmented by anchovies.  I can’t get anchovies on pizza at home because Mary says they will crawl over to her half of the pizza, but that’s just wrong.  If you just put them more than an inch from the border there’s no problem because they’re so slow you have the pizza eaten before they can crawl that far.

Dennis and LaTrease also had a House Salad.  LaTrease was sorely disappointed by the Lettuce Salad at the Root Beer Stand yesterday, and declared that for the rest of the trip she would be ordering House Salads.  I didn’t understand.  It was billed as a lettuce salad, and she got a bowl of lettuce.  By analogy, what would you get when you order a House salad?  A bowl of houses?  And that’s better?
I’ve had a hard time with salads on the road lately.  Lots of fast food salad places only have “Lite Italian” dressing as a fat free option.  Lite Italian has the taste and consistency of a rather thin NCW slime recipe.  However, it can be retrieved.  Squeezing a packet of ketchup into it and mixing thoroughly turns it into kind of a sundried tomato vinaigrette.  Peppercorn Ranch is harder to synthesize in the field using the materials at hand.

By this time, our trip to Evansville was turning into a Rachel Ray restaurant review.  We even started making the “mmmm” sounds she makes for the camera during her Food Network show close-ups.

The house salad showed up with slices of peppers and pepperoni.  The vote was mixed.  Also, the Root Beer was not up to the standard set yesterday, but to be fair, it’s not Turoni’s Salad or Turoni’s Root Beer, it’s Turoni’s Pizza, and it did not disappoint.  Thin crust, lots of stuff including pepperoncinis baked right in.  Mmmmm.

Southern Indiana StudentsIn the afternoon I had an hour with students at the University of Southern Indiana, and we talked about the state of chemistry in 2015.  I was hosted by Marie, section Chair-Elect Mark Krahling and Jeff Seyler, acting department head.  A good crowd; bright kids and an interested faculty working to grow the department and the university.  I did better this time because I didn’t have to follow fire and explosions.

Indiana-Kentucky Border Section at the Western RibeyeDinner with the section was more oriented to the University of Evansville, and the section officers.  Conversation at one time turned to that regional southern Indiana treat, fried brains.  Brains can be had as a sandwich on a bun or, in some places, as a side order with eggs.  The BSE scare of a couple of years ago moved the standard brains from beef to pork.  One observer noted “it just isn’t the same.”  Yo Rachel: Can I get a “Mmmmmm” to that?

At the Indiana-Kentucky border section meeting it was great to see Rama Konduri, who is a ball of energy for the Younger Chemists Committee, and Ihab Odeh, current section chair, both from GE.  Brian Lynch from U of Evansville introduced me at the section meeting, which had a number of business majors as well as upper-level chemistry students.

It was also nice to see Ken Miller, eminence grise of GE’s polycarbonate technology group.  Ken and I were grad students together back when there were only 67 elements.  There are too many stories.

After the seminar, LaTrease and I went to check out the Casino.  Casino marketing is wonderful, leading you to believe that such places exude non-stop excitement.  There is a huge wall of winners who pocketed unheard of sums—literally HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS.  It’s difficult to resist getting some fuel for the gaming expedition by stepping up to cash a check, obtain a credit card advance, or pawn the rental car you came in.

I have to go every now and again just to remind myself what it’s really like.  We put $2 in a nickel slot machine, and it took about 10 minutes to lose it.  I suspect that the result would not have been markedly different if we had put $2000 in a $50 slot machine.  We were too tired to attempt the experiment at the blackjack tables.

Maybe it’s just that having had a statistics course ruins the idea of success at a game of chance, wall of winners notwithstanding.  I had hoped to have some pictures of us at the slot machines, but my camera was flagged, stripped of pictures and impounded.  It was for my convenience and security, you see.  Apparently what happens in Evansville stays in Evansville.  Perhaps that’s best.

So tomorrow is a 5:00 call and off to Cleveland.  There will be no casinos, but there may be pizza.  Mmmmmm.  Thank heavens I have my elastic waist pants.