Monthly Archives: July 2004

So, when did the term “RPG,” or “Role Playing Game” get stolen from the family of paper and pencil games that started with Dungeons and Dragons, to be used on video games featuring characters?

As a long time player of D&D and its kin, I’m always a bit startled at how many people use the term exclusively in relationship to video games.

Trip Report, as promised

As a subvacation to our trip this week to visit my parent’s in Albuquerque, (who aren’t at home until tonight, so we’ve been house sitting) Tara, Derrick and I spent part of three days in Northern New Mexico, largely so that we could ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

Continue reading

Coming Soon (maybe): C&TSR Trip Report

Tomorrow, if I’m up to it, I’ll write up a report of my family’s trip on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

Tonight, I’m too tired after driving back from Chama to Albuquerque (about 175 miles) and walking around the Santa Fe plaza for 3 hours.


This afternoon, I returned to a place I haven’t been in about 25 years, Hummingbird Music Camp near Jemez Springs New Mexico. I was last up there when I was a camper in the years before my 7th and 8th grade years, 1978 and 1979 (if my math serves me). This afternoon I went up to see the end of session concert, a weekly event in the summer, and to visit with my Brother-in-law, who has spent the last eight summers up there teaching or directing (last week he directed the intermediate band and the choir).

In the intervening quarter century some things have changed at the camp. Perhaps most noticeably was the passing of one of the camps founders, K.L. Higgins a few years ago. There were a few other changes — such as the creation of ensembles for the piano and guitar students, and the fact that some of the guitar students were playing electric bass — and a few new buildings.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the visit was when my sister took me over to make sure that I was introduced, or at least reintroduced, to Wanda Higgins, K.L.’s widow and the other camp founder, who had just celebrated her 84th birthday. When my sister mentioned that I’d been a camper there twenty-some years before, Wanda looked at me and said “I think I remember you.” And, I believe her.

Memories of the old Marvel RPG

Just now, while reading the paper in the “reading room,” I glanced at a brief discussion about the recent Spider Man 2 movie, from the perspective of a spider expert at the Field Museum. This got me thinking about Spidy’s powers and which ones were from the spider bite and which ones were from gadgets. When listing the natural powers, one of the ones I listed was his “incredible strength.”

Since 90% of my knowledge of the Marvel Universe comes from playing the Marvel RPG in college (circa 1984-1989), this thought instantly made me smile. I had to think back and couldn’t remember if Spider Man in that game had “Incredible” strength, or if he had “Unearthly” strength. For that game, the designers used adjectives instead of numbers — actually for the “advanced” game there were numbers which were banded into the various adjectives — from “Poor” to something other than “Godlike.”

While this may have been a good idea for gamers in the 8-15 year-old market that I’m sure TSR thought the game would target, for college kids this tended to turn at least part of every gaming session into a serious pun-fest.

Continuing the Fast Food discussion

Continuing on with my thoughts and memories about Fast Food…

Oddly enough, my first post had to do entirely with places where the primary menu items are Hamburgers of some sort. Most of these places, at least the ones that survived into the 1980s, did offer some sort of a fish or chicken sandwich, and often some sort of chicken nuggets, but none of them are chicken or fish specialists. This is kind of odd because I have not had a hamburger in over nine years.

In 1987 or 1988 a blood test reveled that I had a naturally high uric acid level. This makes me highly susceptible to gout. I had my first gout attack in 1991. By 1995 they had gotten regular enough that I removed red meat almost completely from my diet. (Red meat, red wine and shellfish are some of the biggest dietary contributors to high uric acid, and I’m not terribly fond of either red wine or shellfish). Unfortunately, by 1998 my attacks had continued and I’m now taking medicine to control the uric acid.

So in this section I’ll focus on some places that aren’t hamburger places

Chicken Places

  • KFC

In my early years fried chicken meant one of two things, my mom’s oven fried chicken and buckets from KFC. I still fondly remember ads featuring “The Colonel,” and was saddened when he died. I don’t fondly remember the recent cartoon creation, although I believe that Harlan Sander’s would have approved or at least understood. After all, The Colonel was mostly a character he invented to help him sell chicken. He was a real Kentucky Colonel, but so is my aunt.

I still enjoy KFC original recipe, and like some of their sandwiches and their wrap, but I’ve enjoyed other chicken more over the recent years.

  • Church’s

In high school and college Church’s was where to go to get fried chicken if you couldn’t get to a KFC. Need I say more?

  • Golden Fried Chicken

Golden Fried Chicken was a small chain in Albuquerque when I was in college. They were owned by the same people as the Frontier restaurant across Central from UNM. (I’ll have to write about the Frontier later).

Since I left Albuquerque, Golden Fried Chicken has renamed itself Golden Pride Chicken. I don’t know if their food is the same or not. In my last few years in college, Golden Fried chicken became one of my favorite place to get fried chicken. In part it was because they had a store adjacent to the UNM campus which was not too far out of my way if I had to head to the North Campus. But I really liked their fried chicken. It was juicy, with a crisp but not too crisp crust. They also used finely crushed ice in their Coke, which gave it a unique feel to drink. (Its possible that it was drinking Cokes from Golden Fried Chicken is part of why I rarely use a straw today). I’ve not eaten at one since 1989, or possibly a year or two later.

  • Brown’s Chicken

Brown’s Chicken is a Chicago regional chain. In many ways their chicken reminds me of Golden Fried’s chicken. It is juicy and crisp, and has a good flavor.

However, as a resident of Palatine in 1991, I will probably never be able to completely think about Brown’s without remembering the murders that took place in the Palatine store that I had, prior to that, eaten at with some regularity.

  • Other Places

Over the last few years, I’ve had quite a few meals at Boston Market. I like their chicken, and their sides; and have enjoyed some of their other entrees as well. I think that they are starting to recover, and hope that they stick around.

However, to me Boston Market is a poor substitute to my original favorite grilled chicken. Around 1985 or 1986 I discovered (and I’m going to slaughter the spelling now 🙂 El Pollo Assado. They, and the very similar El Pollo Loco, served marinated grilled chicken. But the secret was in the marinade. It added a special flavor to the chicken that Boston Market and Kenny Rogers never managed. El Pollo Assado started to go downhill when they lost the use of their name after loosing a lawsuit with the owners of El Pollo Loco, Denny’s. They renamed themselves Assado’s Mexican Café, but they were pretty much gone after that.

Holding no serious grudge, I’ve comforted myself with meals at El Pollo Loco a couple of times. The first time was in, believe it or not, Sapporo Japan. (This was my second business trip in 1991. My first trip a year or so before took me to Sacramento. While in Sacramento I drove up to the mountains and past the entrance to Squaw Valley. Then my second trip took me to Sapporo. Being a bit of an Olympics geek I realized that I’d been in or near the sights of the 1960 and the 1972 Winter Games. This was worrisome, since if the trend continued my next trip would be to the site of the 1984 Winter Games. I had no desire in the early 1990s to visit Sarajevo). The next time I was at an El Pollo Loco was in 1995 in Scottsdale. I was on an extended business trip — I spent 4 months in Phoenix, from July through November, before returning to the Chicago area. I spotted the El Pollo Loco and went in for lunch. Unfortunately, I was a dollar or so short of cash. When I started to pull out my credit card, the cashier told me not to bother, she’d just ring it up with the Motorola discount. It was then I pulled out my Motorola badge to show her that I was a Motorola employee. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that this particular El Pollo Loco was catty-corner to the large Motorola facilities in Scottsdale.

I’m still new at this, I hope I didn’t just cause trouble

I just finished starting to set up my “friends,” by trying to find my friends, acquaintances, and others that also have LiveJorunals set up. I’m just hoping that I didn’t end up accidentally forcing them to read my stuff.

If I did, first let me apologize. Second, can someone help me fix this?

RonO (New to Blogging, well versed in netnews and e-mail lists)

Some thoughts and memories about fast food

One of the thought processes that led to me setting up my LiveJournal was going over some memories and other thoughts related to fast food.  I got started thinking about this yesterday when I read an article in the Albuquerque Tribune online (  This article was a “Cheap Eats” article about Wienerschnitzel.  This led me to their website seeing if they had anything about their failed, or so I thought, experiment with the $0.49 Hamburger Stand.  (In my later investigations I found that the owners of Wienerschnitzel still run Hamburger Stand restaurants, so I guess they just failed in Albuquerque).  Following through with this got me thinking about fast food restaurants and my memories of them over the years.

For reference, one site I found that helped me collect thoughts is tesg’s guide to big chain road food consumption (

Now for my random thoughts…

  • McDonalds

By most measures McDonalds is not the first fast food restaurant, but it is by nearly any measure the most successful.  However, I don’t know anyone over the age of about 15 or 20 who thinks of McDonalds as their favorite.  While not my earliest memories of McDonalds, perhaps my best come from my trip to and from the 1981 Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill Virginia.  Between Albuquerque and Virginia we drove for about 36 hours, over a 48 hour period.  More than half of our meal stops were at McDonalds, starting when we picked up the last scout in Tucumcari.  Few of my friends that were on that trip had any great desire to stop at McDonalds for sometime afterwards.

Until the mid 70’s, Albuquerque had only two or three McDonalds.  One was located on Menaul, on the Southwest corner of the intersection with San Pedro, or just west of there.  Another was located somewhere on North Fourth, probably near Montano.  Therefore we didn’t go to them too often when I was growing up.  I have vague memories of graduating from eating a hamburger or cheeseburger to eating a Big Mac.  I am fairly sure that I was never in the age bracket (at least as a boy) where I would have gotten a happy meal.

Sometime around 1974-1976, McDonalds began a rapid expansion in the Albuquerque area.  By the time the one opened at Coors and Corrles around 1978-1980, my older siblings and I observed that there was about a one-to-one relationship between public high schools and McDonalds, so there would have been about 10 in Albuquerque.  I suspect that there are now 20 or more in Albuquerque, and only 11 public high schools — 12 if you take into account that much of Rio Rancho was part of the Albuquerque Public Schools district until sometime in the 1990s.

  • Burger King

At this point Burger King is the second largestHamburger fast food chain, probably the second largest fast food chain overall.  However, according to some of my reading over the last couple of days, it is poised to loose this position. 

My first memories of Burger King are from 1976.  I can date this very well, because these are memories of ads I saw for Burger King during the 1976 Summer Olympics.  However, at that time there were still no Burger Kings in Albuquerque.  In that era, some live programs would have the distinction of showing ads for products and businesses that weren’t national. (I don’t know how many times I saw nearly identical ads for Helman’s and Best Foods Mayonnaise for this reason).  Burger King chose to advertise their “Have it your way” message during ABCs broadcast of the Olympics, even though they were not in every market.  The ad I remember best featured Fosbery, who had won the Gold in High Jump four years earlier by going over the bar upside down — a move now known as the Fosbery Flop (A quick google search to confirm the spelling of “Fosbery,” with hopes of finding his full name, resulted mostly in sites about intellectual property rather than sports).  In the ad Fosbery wanted his hamburger upside down.

It was sometime in the next year or two that the first Burger Kings opened in Albuquerque.  I remember thinking that they were better than McDonalds, but not enough to go out of my way to eat there.  This has remained pretty much my opinion until recently, the quality has begun to slip.

  • Blake’s Lota-Burger

Blake’s is a local New Mexico chain.  Until the McDonalds expansion in the mid-70s, there were probably more Blake’s in Albuquerque than any other Fast Food place.  However, we didn’t eat there much.  Their hamburgers came with lots of onions, and my brother really disliked this.  In my late high school and early college years (circa 1983-1987) two things caused me to patronize Blake’s a bit more.  First, one opened in the food court at Winrock, replacing Barney’s Beef and Things (or some such name).  Second, we discovered that Blake’s had real shakes.  Just after I had my wisdom teeth out in 1985 I survived on Blakes shakes and pudding for about a week.

  • Burger Chef

Now we get to what really prompted me to post this — and to create my LiveJournal in the first place.  Yesterday I rediscovered Burger Chef.  In the early 1970’s, and I’m not sure exactly when, there was at least one Burger Chef, and probably two, in Albuquerque.  One was on Menaul near Coronado Center, not too far from Albuquerque’s first McDonalds.  I think that there was one on Gibson near the Truman gate to Kirtland as well.  There may have been others.  I am, however, not sure when they closed but I know that they were long gone by 1980.

I only have one vague memory of eating at a Burger Chef, which is why I think there was one on Gibson.  I seem to remember eating at Burger Chef with my Dad.  Most likely this was because I accompanied him when he went to work some Saturday.  On the other hand I know that Burger Chef is somehow ingrained into my memories.  In my mind I cannot hear “Burger Chef” with out completing it “and Jeff.”  I also could clearly remember the Burger Chef “Kite Look” buildings (see as being Burger Chef restaurants.

Looking over the websites I found about Burger Chef leads me to think that I should have a clue when they left Albuquerque.  Burger Chef, as well as Burger King, had tie-ins with the original 1977 release of Star Wars (a.k.a. Episode IV: A New Hope).  However, I cannot remember which, if either, were in Albuquerque for the initial Star Wars release.

  • Jack in the Box

My first memories of Jack in the Box were the incongruous ads on the radio in Albuquerque around 1980.  Jack in the Box first opened in Albuquerque about the same time that they were getting rid of the drive through clowns.  So we had these new fast food restaurants running ads talking about blowing up clowns, that the new stores didn’t have.  Over the following years, Jack in the Box was the place to get cheap, and not that good, fast food.  But they had stuff that McDonalds and Burger King didn’t.

Then, overnight, all of the Albuquerque stores — four or five of them — became Monterey Jacks.  The food improved a bit, and the menu became more adult and upscale.  They remained Monterey Jacks for about a year and then, again overnight, they went back to being Jack in the Box.  I know that they were still around when I was in college.  One of my friends one day said that he wanted a “Taco real bad” and then went to Jack in the Box where he considered the tacos were “real bad.”

In 1989 I moved to the Chicago area and out of Jack in the Box’s region.  It was about that time that they left Albuquerque.  I remember hearing about their problems with e-coli in Seattle, and other things so I knew that they were still around.  In 1995, when I spent several weeks in Seattle and then about 4 months in Phoenix, I first saw the ads featuring Jack.  I think I again ate at a Jack in the Box on one of those trips.  What I discovered was a Jack in the Box with a Monterey Jacks menu.  And it was very good!  When I moved to San Diego in 1998 (it didn’t take and I moved back to Illinois 14 months later) I became a fairly regular patron of Jack in the Box.

  • Carl’s Jr

I think it was in Seattle in 1995 that I first tried a Carl’s Jr.  But, it may have been in Sacramento in 1990 or in Osaka in 1991.  All I know for sure is that I’ve never had a bad meal at a Carl’s Jr. 

  • Hardee’s

I’ve tried Hardee’s all over the US, during the era before CKE (Carl’s Jr’s parent) bought the chain.  I ate at the one in Albuquerque (I think it was on Montgomery between San Mateo and Carlisle), one in Kansas City, one in Delta Colorado, one in or near Galena Illinois and one somewhere in Kentucky.  I don’t think I ever got sick.  But I don’t think I ever found them that great.

On my move back to Chicago from San Diego in 1999, I took a bit on consolation when I found the small town Hardee’s was sporting a Carl’s Jr Star.  However, I’ve only had one or two opportunities to try a “Star Hardee’s.”  As with other reviews I’ve seen on the web, I never found that the Star Hardee’s had transformed themselves into anything as good as a Carl’s Jr.  From what I read today, it seems that CKE is still trying to make Hardee’s a success.

I also know that my impression of Hardee’s is still better than many other people’s, including my wife.  I don’t think she’d set foot in a Hardee’s unless there was nowhere else to get food, and maybe not even then :-).  Years of trouble have left a bad taste in people’s mouths (not literally).

This afternoon after reading a bunch of fast foodrelated web sites, I had a thought as to what CKE should, or at least could, do Hardee’s.  They should close them all, help their franchisees remodel the stores and reopen them as … Burger Chef 🙂

I could go on, and probably will at some later point.  But for now I think I’ll stop here.


(Entry prepared by Semagic, Spell Check by TextPad)

Why I am here

This afternoon when I had to walk to another building for a meeting, I got thinking about a bunch of stuff I want to write but don’t have any place to put it. I then realized that that was, more or less, what LiveJournal (and Blogging) is basically for.

So when I got back to my desk, I decided to take the plunge and start an entry.

Who am I?

I am RonO, or Ron Oakes. I’m a resident of the Chicago area (Bartlett) in Illinois. I’ve been involved with Science Fiction Fandom for about 10 years, and have been actively involved with Christian Fandom and DucKon both for about 6 years. I own, if not run, the website for Christian Fandom (, and am the chair for the upcoming ConSecration I ( I am a past Chair for DucKon (, and serve as their Registrar — a term I prefer to “Registration Head,” and a completely accurate and usable one — and as a member of the Board of Directors of the parent corporation. If you know me, or at least who I am, it is probably from these.

I am also a Software Engineer for Motorola (one of the survivors :-). I also work on the Tech Crew for my church, The Wheaton Bible Church (, mostly running PowerPoint (actually Easy Worship), but I’ve recently started running the audio monitors and doing the service recording as well. (OK I’ve run monitors and recording once, so far).

I am married with one kid (actually my wifes nephew), and two cats.

Later, I’ll have some random thoughts about random subjects to put here.

Bye for now