This collection of entries is from April 2002.
Tuesday, April 30, 2002
Blog on the move
It was time to grow up and move out of the house!
This blog is now in its new location here at this website.
PLEASE CHANGE YOUR BOOKMARKS FOR THE NEW LOCATION AT REALLANS.COM:
If you are still pointing to: http://mundanemidlife.blogspot.com/, please change your bookmark/favorite/link.
Thank you for joining us here at our new site!
Monday, April 29, 2002
Too much "schlameil"...
From the "Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should" Department - ABC does it again: "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT PRESENTS: LAVERNE & SHIRLEY TOGETHER AGAIN" May 7 - 8:00 p.m., ET/PT and "THAT'S INCREDIBLE: THE REUNION" TUESDAY, May 21 8:00 p.m., ET
Wolves 4 - Crunch 2
Back at the Allstate Arena tonight for the third game of the AHL Western Conference Semifinals. The Syracuse Crunch are leading the Wolves 2-0 in a best of seven series. The Wolves looked bad on TV, playing like, well, wimps. No aggression at all. Tonight - even though Andreas Karlsson got the first goal of the game, we're flat again. We're not finishing checks, we're not going after the puck. Next thing you know, we're losing 2-1 in the first period. Second period - same crap and we're taking stupid penalties like Brad Tapper cross-checking a guy in the back of the head. . Third period - something's different. They're finishing their checks. There's pressure in the attacking zone. All of a sudden, we're on a power play and Kamil Piros scores. OK, we're tied. We've got a chance. Then 10 minutes later J.P. Vigier scores. We get to the final minute, Syracuse pulls their goalie for an extra attacker, and Steve Maltais scores an empty netter. Wolves win 4-2, giving Syracuse their first loss in the playoffs. Game 4 Wednesday.
Damn... yesterday's Chicago Tribune had only 3 columns of Computer Jobs, and my web agents are finding little... time to fire up the Evil Plan Generator...
I am getting friggin' inundated with hits from Google searches looking for Laughlin, Hell's Angels and Mongols, just because I blooged about Harrah's Laughlin on Saturday (not to mention people looking for photos of Lisa Lopes dead). Weird. People, I just commented on these events - there's nothing to see here - move along, move along...
Sunday, April 28, 2002
Alan, Tommy, Charlie, Carol, Andy...
We spent most of the afternoon watching BBC America. Why? We are totally addicted to two particular shows. The first is Ground Force. This is basically a gardening show hosted by a great guy (and gardener) Alan Titchmarsh. The premise: people write in to have Alan and his team (of Tommy Walsh and Charlie Dimmock) transform their garden while their spouse/partner is away for two days with a budget of about £1,000. The cast is great and the transformations are wonderful to watch. The second show is Changing Rooms. This is the show that TLC's Trading Spaces is based on. Instead of Paige Davis, the host (or "presenter" as they call them on the BBC) is Carol Smillie, an ex-model from Glasgow. Now, I know that Trading Spaces has a pretty big following, but I think Changing Rooms is the better program (or is it programme?). Why? Because it's only 30 minutes long instead of 60 minutes. It makes for a faster pace and it just seems to hold your attention better. Today, there was a special Changing Rooms Marathon called Laurence Let Loose. Laurence is Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, a flamboyant designer who, at times, comes up with room treatments that actually bring the owners to tears. Well worth the watch for a laugh (Linda Barker and Anna Ryder Richardson are my favorites, and it turns out that they have a new show called House Invaders). I also like their carpenter, "Handy" Andy Kane better than Ty Pennington. (However, I also like Vern Yip.) Well, as part of the marathon, there was a hour-long episode titled "When Changing Rooms Met Ground Force" which was a hoot to watch since it was a melding of both of the shows. Alan hosted and had Tommy & Charlie remodel a bedroom of a couple. But when the wife was being interviewed by the Ground Force team ahead of time, she looked absolutely dejected that Alan and his team weren't going to do their garden. So, to make a cross-over episode, Alan had Laurence Llewelyn Bowen and "Handy" Andy Kane redo the garden, so both spouses wound up getting a surprise at the end of the show. A wonderful episode. I really want Alan, Tommy and Charlie to come to the US and do my yard...
Saturday, April 27, 2002
Trouble in Laughlin
A little digression... last September Carol & I along with our Friends Barry & Buffy were in Las Vegas for our annual (or last year - our semi-annual) trip. After spending 4 days at the Rio, we were off driving about 80 miles to a little town called Laughlin (population 8,000) on the Colorado River, next to Bullhead City Arizona. It's a very small gambling town. We stayed at Harrah's, right on the river, where we had tickets to see Patricia Yearwood at the amphitheater. Well, it was hot. Our room faced an asphalt parking lot. We found the rooms small, almost motel-like. The air conditioning just couldn't keep up with the heat. Then we find out that the amphitheater is outside and it was 105°. Well, after being really spoiled in a Rio suite for 4 nights, we decide that we're not going to stay in Laughlin the second night and we make reservations back at Rio. We also return our Yearwood tickets (the concert was oversold, so they were happy to get them back). We just didn't enjoy being in Laughlin - I guess it wasn't our "style". We're out of there at 8:30 in the morning and are back in our rooms at the Rio by 10:30.
Flash forward to today.
At 2:15 am this morning, 3 people were killed and 13 others injured when members of Hell's Angels and The Mongols started fighting in the Harrah's Laughlin casino, escalating into gunfire. The gangs were in town for the 20th annual "River Run," an event which annually draws 50,000 to 80,000 motorcycle enthusiasts. Police, who said it was the worst shooting incident in the history of Nevada casinos, actually locked-down the town while they searched for possible combatants. Las Vegas SWAT even went room-to-room in the hotel itself.
Friday, April 26, 2002
Oh my God, I had to try this... Posting to my blog from my brand new Samsung Sprint PCS phone!
Oh, God, this is sad... Robert Cringely of InfoWorld and PBS-TV miniseries "Triumph of the Nerds" fame writes this article about his son Chase Cringely, who only lived 74 days. The article is worth reading - maybe we can help.
XP on the iMac?
Man, I love the look of the new iMac, but my world is just so Windows-centric. But I really want to look into digital video, maybe even burning my own DVD's. I wonder if runing XP on the iMac would work?
No more TLC
Another celebrity death... I didn't follow her career, and I liked a few of her hits, but Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes (of TLC) was killed in a car accident Thursday in Honduras. I hate when famous (or semi-famous) people die.
Friday 5 - Hobbies
Time for The Friday Five...
1. What are your hobbies? Aw, nuts. Hobbies. Boy am I going to be boring for this Friday Five. Other than tinkering (and I do mean TINKERING) with a few websites of mine, I have no hobbies.
2. Do you collect anything? If so, what? I collect casino chips. I have over 300 of them right now, mostly from Las Vegas casinos, but I have some from the local riverboats around Chicago, as well as some chips from Elko, Nevada (a whole other story). I have enough chips that I had to get software to categorize them and special binders to put them in. However, though more of Carol's doing, we also collect Bunnies, usually little ones, though I think we have a Lladro and I think something from Tiffany.
3. Is there a hobby you're interested in, but just don't have the time/money to do? Hmmm... Model Railroading. I would like to have an absolutely huge layout, both passenger and freight, multiple controllers, all kinds of landscape and modeling. I've even wanted to do local commuter rail and even rapid transit (of course, this would mean a much larger house)
4. Have you ever turned a hobby into a moneymaking opportunity? Nope. Never did anything that I could make money off of.
5. Besides web-related stuff (burbs, rings, etc.), what clubs do you belong to? Uh, none. Damn, am I boring!
Thursday, April 25, 2002
Amanda?!?!?!??? Well at least he didn't give her an engagement ring... I feel bad for Trista for making it this far and not to get picked... actually feel bad for them all - on all different levels: for being rejected on national television, for having to go on national television to find a guy in the first place...
Survivor Marquesas - Episode 9
"Two Peas in a Pod"
Damn it, damn it, damn it... Since early in the show I've wanted Sean booted off the island. The he and Paschal win this huge reward challenge. Then you see when a young black man and an old southern white judge come together to share the moment and damn it I get choked up watching it. It was pretty damn moving and you see a totally different side of Sean. And the two of them smuggle out food for the rest of the tribe! Oh, and then after Tammy won immunity for the second week in a row, a unanimous vote booted out fishing boat captain Zoe "Lobster Lady" Zanidakis.
Wednesday, April 24, 2002
Amazing Race 2 - Episode 8 & 9
"I'm Not a Miner!" "No, You're An Idiot!"
Too much to watch, TiVo, or videotape tonight. TAR2 stitches together two episodes. Oswald & Danny (otherwise known as "Team Cha-Cha-Cha") were great in the Leg 8 episode. First they use a concierge at a hotel to get directions. During the first Detour, when they chose "Lion" (Teams had to carry a ceremonial lion-head through a course of narrow markets and steep stairs), I think it was Danny who was operating the head that said ""Believe it or not I'm actually window shopping"! They get the next clue, and ask a guy out gardening if they could use the phone in his house to make plane reservations! It's not over - they go to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (looks like a 5 Star) and ask what travel agency they use. They then go to that agency (located in the "Lucky Building") to actually get their tickets. They need an hour to process, so these two guys, in the middle of the race, decide to go shopping! They go to Starbucks for a Mocha Frappuccino and buy some cologne. The go back and pick up their tickets and get a black Mercedes that drives them to the airport! What an interesting tact to play the game! I didn't understand the confusion that Tara & Wil went through if they should take the Fast Forward or not. Blake & Paige get in a taxi that goes the wrong way to Murray House and have the presence of mind to call the Hong Kong Tourism Board from the driver's cell phone to get the correct directions for the driver. Gary and Dave (also known as "Itchy & Scratchy") go from 1st to 4th just based on their performance in the dragon boats. Next stop - the Sydney Opera House. Cha Cha Cha actually beats everyone to Sydney! Wil & Blake screw up and don't pay attention to directions, and have to redo the entire Roadblock - the Sydney walking tour via Australian slang clues. Cha Cha Cha gets to the end of Leg 8 first and win a 7 night Caribbean Cruise! For the start of Leg 9, the teams had to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge (but they had to wait for morning). Chris & Alex (also known as "Team Boston") decide to do the Fast Forward instead (by eating a Meat Pie at Harry's Cafe de Wheels in Woolomoloo) and get it. (Blake & Page decided to do this, too, but got there later and didn't get it). Chris & Alex fly to Melbourne that night, layover, and fly to Adelaide the next morning. Everyone else has to wait to fly to Adelaide directly, and then take one of three charter flights to a town called Coober Pedy, where it was 130°. The Detour was either mine for Opals or play golf in the desert. This is where the title of the episode come from: "I'm Not a Miner! No, You're an Idiot!" (the first statement is by Wil, the second by Tara!) (You know there is a Coober Pedy Experience Motel with underground accommodations?) The Roadblock is simple - stand in a circle, throw a boomerang, and have it land back in the circle. Well, again, Gary & Dave try one part of a Detour and change their minds and then do the other - and wind up being eliminated from the Australian outback (sounds like an old Survivor episode). Next week - Sheep!
POTUS - for real
Clip show, but what a great West Wing! Tonight's show was actually a documentary with people that actually worked in the White House, whether it's Dee Dee Myers, Henry Kissinger, Leon Panetta or former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Very cool editing - everyone discusses their experiences in the White House intercut with applicable scenes from The West Wing. Good show.
Survivor Marquesas - Epiosde *blech*
Clip show. Blech.
Tuesday, April 23, 2002
Too much Dill
How priceless is it to watch Ozzy trying to open up a new DVD? How could they just give Lola away? At least she's back again (though she did barf when getting out of the pool...) Oh, and even though I can't take credit for this, but Jack's friend Dill should be called Skato Kaelin. What an idiot, what a moocher. Doesn't even try to clean the damn stove after he screws it up. (BTW, he's pro skater Jason Dill) I'm not sure on what side to weigh in on with wanting Sharon to pee in the Jack Daniels bottle... can't wait to see Christmas Dinner on next week's episode...
Monday, April 22, 2002
That Braintrust at ABC
Let me get this straight... The Bachelor has been doing OK in the ratings (though not stellar), so the great braintrust that is ABC Programming decides to put the Series Finale on Thursday against Survivor and Friends. What are they smoking?
Sunday, April 21, 2002
White Sox 11 - Tigers 8
Such a cold, windy, rainy day... let's go to a baseball game! 43°. Thank God we made reservations for a window seat up in the Stadium Club bar at Comiskey. It felt good knowing that we could go to the park and not worry about how to dress for the weather. We got there early and got a good seat. Had a great lunch (the food is always good - the facility is handled by Levy Restaurants).
The game was "iffy" again. Oh, sure, we scored 8 runs in the first inning (Jose Valentin had a home run, and Tigers starter Jose Lima only lasted 2/3 of an inning), but that doesn't mean anything anymore when you have a questionable starting pitcher. Today it was Jon Rauch (who is now officially the tallest player to ever play in the majors at 6' 11"). Well, those 8 runs weren't very secure as Rauch gave up 8 runs in 4 innings. I still don't know how a pitcher can feel the ball and control it in weather situations like this. Finally, in the 7th, Ray Durham came up to pinch hit with the bases loaded (he was out of the lineup with a chest cold - yesterday he had an ingrown toenail dug out. Ew.) and hit a single (which was misplayed by Tigers LF Bobby Higginson) that scored 3 runs and gave us the game. Whew. Watching the game from behind the glass sure made the game more enjoyable.
Went to my parents' house for dinner. I jealous again - my sister is going to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival next weekend. She always goes to great destinations for these great little getaways.
Watched the Wolves on cable TV and they won against Grand Rapids and advance to the Calder Cup Western Conference Semifinals! We never thought they would go further in the playoffs! They now play the Syracuse Crunch (the number 1 seed) in a best-of-7, but we don't know when.
Saturday, April 20, 2002
White Sox 12 - Tigers 5
Another weekend at Comiskey Park. Today, other than the game against the Tigers, was Dog Day. People (with advance paperwork) can bring their dogs to the park for the day. There's a pre-game parade, the dogs and owners all sit together in their own section of the bleachers, and the outfield concourse is loaded with tables from local humane and pet organizations. It really is a fun time. For the last few years, it was held in August. There have been days where the temperatures were pretty high, and the dogs didn't fare very well being out in all that concrete in this heat. The Sox decided to change the date this year to April to help with the comfort level.
April is not the correct month to do this.
The day was miserable. Gametime temperature - 45°. Wind - 20 mph. Windchill in the 20's. This is not baseball weather. We got there early to look at the dogs as they entered the park at Gate 1. We went inside and it was pretty empty. The pre-game parade was one of the longer ones that I can remember. I also used to remember a costume judging aspect to all this - they must have stop doing that since we didn't hear anything about the winners.
The game started out a little rough. Jon Garland didn't have the command of his pitches. But then again, how can a pitcher really feel the ball when you're pitching with windchills in the 20's? Again, the Sox offense was unbelievable. Jose Valentin, Frank Thomas, and Magglio Ordonez had home runs and Paul Konerko hit a Grand Slam.
By the end of the 6th inning we had enough of the weather and went upstairs to the Stadium Club to watch the rest of the game and get a quick bite. We made reservations for seats on the glass for tomorrow - the weather is actually supposed to be worse.
The Sox won 12-5. They now have the highest team slugging percentage in all of baseball at .509 and highest team batting average at .316. Pitching, well... 5th in the AL 18th in baseball with a 4.39 ERA., third in the AL in Fielding Percentage but 14th in all of baseball. It's obvious we're all offense. We need the pitching to come around, but that's something we saw during spring training. All I want right now is to either stay tight to the division leader or get on top and get some room between us and the rest of the division.
Friday, April 19, 2002
Wolves 0 - Griffins 3
Oh, crap. I just got back from the Wolves game. To say the Wolves came out "flat" is an understatement. there was no scoring until Grand Rapids scored at 5:55 into the third period. It went downhill from there. Referee Ian Walsh didn't call anything and because of it the game play got out of hand. Quickly. There was one 5-on-5 melee that was pretty intense. So, the Griffins wind up on a power play to end the game. What happens? Somehow, the coach pulls Nurminen, just so there can be a 5-on-5 - only the rest of the team didn't know it - the final goal is an empty netter, with 1:20 left in the game. The real fight began when the Griffins' Wade Brookbank sucker punched somebody on the Wolves (it could have been Joe DiPenta), and a 6-on-6 donnybrook ensued - yep, goalie Pasi Nurminen skated all the way across the ice to go after Martin Prusek who was still in his crease. Walsh just stood behind the net with his notepad taking names. DiPenta went into the penalty box during the fight with a huge gash on his head and had to be attended to by the trainer. Somebody on the Griffins had his jersey stripped off and he was in the fight naked from the waist up (except for his shoulder pads). The linesmen were scraping the blood off the ice for a while after the gloves and sticks were picked up. Seven players got penalties, including David Van Drunen of the Griffins who got a game misconduct (you know - he must be the naked guy... I think that if your jersey gets removed, it means that you didn't have your fight strap hooked-up, and I think that's a game misconduct). I blame Walsh for all of this. He let it escalate throughout the game.
The Wolves lost 3-0, and now go back to Michigan tied 2-2 for a deciding fifth game on Sunday. (Boxscore)
Francis Lessard served his third game of a ten game suspension (a result of receiving a game misconduct penalty for physical abuse of officials last Saturday in Grand Rapids). Thank you so much for going postal.
All kinds of weirdness
The world seems upside-down.
It's the 7th anniversary of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing - the first terror attack on the US from within. Tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. We wind up accidentally bombing Canadians in Afghanistan. Thank you, Illinois Air National Guard. A single-engine private plane crashed into Pireli Tower in Milan, Italy. An Amtrak train derails in Florida.
The Seattle Times is reporting that the White House has said they are considering the use of "The Evil Empire's" (Microsoft's) Passport technology to identify citizens online - Sort of a Virtual National ID Card. Somebody is actually recording George the 43rd's (aka George W.) misspeaks at DubyaSpeak.com, where they do their best "to keep up with the gravy train of strained English."
Then in something that did not surprise me at all, Robert Blake arrested for murdering his wife.
Friday 5 - TV
Time for The Friday Five...
1. What's your favorite TV show and why? The West Wing. Writing, casting, cinematography... everything. And perhaps maybe the other intangible - the hope and wish that Bartlet could be our President. Second would be CSI. I love the cast, and, since I love Las Vegas, it was a perfect fit. But I am addicted to another genre of programing - Reality TV. Survivor Marquesas and all of the other seasons. The Amazing Race. Big Brother (not only the US show on CBS, but also I watch the camera feeds from the UK and Australia shows over the Internet if I have time - they're the only countries I can understand - sort of). I'm waiting for The Mole to come back on the air (the first season was good). I caught a few episodes of The Bachelor and like the production of the show, but I'm not sure how I feel about the premise. Then, there's the ultimate reality show - The Osbournes!
2. Who is your favorite television star? Hmmmm... dunno... I guess I don't have a "favorite"
3. What was your favorite TV show as a child? A local show - Cartoon Town. It was a puppet show (with cartoons) with this guy Bill Jackson. How much did it effect me? Read the response to question #2 in this prior Friday Five.
4. What show do you think should have been cancelled by now? Ally McBeal. Oops, too late. OK, how about Spy TV? Wait, I think that's gone. Touched by an Angel? I think Spin City has overstayed its welcome... Oh! Wait! Baby Bob and George Lopez! Oh, please cancel Jackass and The Andy Dick Show.
5. What new show do you hope escapes the axe this season? The Osbournes! Let's see another season of them!
Thursday, April 18, 2002
Survivor Marquesas - Episode 8 and Amazing Race 2 - Episode 7
You know, people just don't like arrogance, and the Immunity Challenge tonight really showed that. That's why Sean Rector lives to see another day while John F. Carroll, RN gets voted out 6-3 by a disgruntled Soliantu tribe. Yeah, the immunity challenge was done in "good nature", but, boy did ever lay out everyone's alliances right out in the open. Let's ignore the fact that people had to get the answers correct in the first place to hack down the other person's coconuts. And Tammy Leitner was happy with her immunity. It was nice to see people realize what was happening around them instead of being oblivious and just get picked-off. Pagong comes to mind. Oh, and John - no crying in the final confessional, bud. Kind of reminds me of Bunky. You know, this kind of reminds me of the "Chilltown" alliance on BB2. You've got to watch out for the underdogs.
"I'm Gonna Throw Up On Phil's Shoes"
Which reminds me, I have another reality show that I watch that I haven't commented on - The Amazing Race. The week, Mary and Peach go from First Place to Eliminated in one episode. What is it about guys named Wil(l) in reality shows? First it's BB2 and then it's TAR2. The "Two Stooges" - Gary & Dave are now in First after taking the Fast Forward. Oh, I have a fear of heights and there would be no way in hell I could could climb up into one of those container cranes in this week's Roadblock, though once you were up there it'd be pretty cool to move the those containers.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
Wolves 2 - Griffins 1
Sorry. Not a winner.
7 10 25 26 27 +23... OK, time to look... since I have a bunch of old tickets, I went to the local White Hen and used their scanner (they have a scanner that scans the bar code on the ticket and looks up the numbers for you. Nuts. No winners. Not even a buck or two. The Big Game is being replaced by Mega Millions, with tickets going on sale May 15 and the first drawing on May 17. Hmmm... Mega Millions? Let's see... In Big Game you choose five numbers from 1 to 50 and select one Big Money Ball number from 1 to 3. Odds of winning: 1 in 76,275,360. In Mega Millions you choose five numbers from 1 to 52 and select one Gold Mega Ball number from 1 to 52. Odds of winning: 1 in 135,145,920. So, you have larger jackpots because they are harder to win so they rollover more often!
Tuesday, April 16, 2002
Warm and webby
Two days of 88° weather. It got a little breezy today, though - but still, ain't this great for April? Of course it'll be down in the 50's for the weekend when we go back to Comiskey Park.
Spent most of the day working on my new website - (yes, this Blog will be moving within the next week or so to my own domain). Hey - anybody that knows PHP & MySQL got a few minutes to crank out a quick app for me for displaying images (my photo collection)?
Nuts. I hate hearing about celebrities passing on, especially if you enjoyed their work. Robert Urich died this morning of synovial cell sarcoma. He had his own website, too.
Monday, April 15, 2002
OK, this is a bit too political, but DAMN, THIS PISSES ME OFF.... Look at the photo. Look at where this is occuring. And remember, holding up two fingers doesn't always means "peace" - it also means "Victory". And who do you think she is trying to be - a "suicide bomber" or a "homicide bomber"?
More Blogging articles
More Blogging articles are popping up (other than Dvorak's stab at it) - MSNBC, and Ev's interview at Internet Magazine.
Googlematic and Segway
Wow, cool stuff... Googlematic searches Google via an Instant Messaging product (AOL or MSN). And someone actually rode one of those Segway things for a few hours and wrote about it.
Do you remember our hot water heater replacement last month? Well, when that full hot water heater hit the lawn, the hot water and god-knows-what sediment poured out onto the lawn. I think I can now say that the lawn is officially dead. I don't know how I'll get it back since I'm not sure what caused it - the heat or the crud.
How I remember Tax Day
Here it is tax day. Four years ago today I was released from Brunswick just months shy of 20 years of service. After a few consulting gigs, and one wonderful ride (while it lasted) at Whittman-Hart/marchFIRST, I'm still looking for a job. I hate this. It almost feels like the world is revolving without me, like I'm not plugged-in to the industry anymore. The job market is really bad, but at least a job posting or two pops up every couple of weeks. I can't imagine how many resumes these recruiters get for a single opening. Carol & I need to get me back in the stream of things. I feel like a cast-off.
Sunday, April 14, 2002
White Sox 9 - Orioles 4
Saturday, April 13, 2002
Hey! It's Lisa!
White Sox 4 - Orioles 3
The Great Chicago Flood
Today is the 10th Anniversary of what was called "The Great Chicago Flood". Remember that? That's when a construction crew on the Chicago River was sinking pilings into what they thought was riverbed, but turned out to be part of the vast underground tunnel system that used to be part of of a system that serviced many buildings downtown. Well, guess what? Yep, the tunnels flooded with 250 million gallons of river water (you could actually see a whirlpool in the river where the water was "escaping") - and many people and institutions didn't know about the tunnel system. Before you know it, buildings started to flood all over the downtown area, causing millions of dollars of damage.
Friday, April 12, 2002
White Sox 5 - Orioles 2 - Home Opener
Another long day, but baseball started at Comiskey and I felt that "clock" that moves move life start ticking again. We were pretty excited to see what the new renovations looked like at the Park. There was four things that were done over the winter - the first we wouldn't be able to see, and that was the enclosure and rehab of the Club level concourse and concessions. Another renovation was minor, but was put to the test during the game - a new backstop. This one is a much finer mesh and it's just a vertical screen - there is no longer a net to cover the people behind the plate. If there's a foul ball behind the plate, people now must pay attention because the net won't save them!
The other two renovations were hard to miss. The old black aluminum "Batter's Eye" in center field was torn apart and rebuilt to include plantings (bushes and IVY). On top is a large plaza area that had a series of picnic tables. To block any distraction of the fans from the batters, is a large green nylon "screen" that lined the plaza area. It's difficult to see people moving behind the screen, so the batters shouldn't be distracted. The problem is that the screen is pretty hard to see through. You can sort of see the field, but it's almost impossible to see the ball.
The biggest renovation and the one that we were really excited about was the main concourse. Everything was redone in brick and aluminum, with new lighting, signage and new designs for all the concession stands - it totally changed the feel of the park when you were walking around. It was amazing. It's gorgeous, and it's in the right "direction" to change the over all look of the park. And then I heard on the radio the one thing that I've wanted for years that I think will be the biggest change to the look of the park: in the future, the seats and padding on the walls will be changed from blue to dark green! YES!!! You'll see more pictures of the rennovations in the next couple of games. For some reason, they've named most of the concession stands after former White Sox players
So, what about the game?, Oh yeah, the Sox won 5-2 over the Orioles. Mark Buehrle pitched 7 innings of 2-hit ball (he's now 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA). Home runs by Jose Valentin, Sandy Alomar Jr., and Ray Durham. Kenny Lofton was 3-for-3 with a walk. Keith Foulke got another save, but he's still looking shaky - he gave up 2 hits in the 9th, and his ERA is still high at 6.35, which isn't good for a closer. There were a lot of questionable calls from the entire umpiring crew, that almost made it feel like there was a conspiracy against us. Weird. And, in typical White Sox fan fashion - not a sell out, but 41,128 were there. The game lasted only 2:24, which was great. (ESPN Boxscore here)
After the game, we drove out to Riverside to have dinner with our Season Ticket buddies Janie & Gary (who we were sitting with during the game). First we made our flight reservations - we're going to Detroit to see the Sox play the Tigers at Comerica Park on July 14th. Should be fun, and I really enjoy seeing new ballparks. We went out to dinner at a restaurant called the Choo Choo Cafe in Riverside. Now, when I heard the name of this place, I had this thought of old women serving coffee in gingham dresses and aprons to patrons sitting at red & white checkerboarded oil clothed tables. Not so. This is a bit "upscale" and the food was great. Carol & Gary and lamb shanks, Janine had some encrusted chicken thing, & I had a New York Strip that was one of the better pieces of meat that I've had in a while.
Long day but a good day.
Friday 5 - Dining Out
Time for The Friday Five...
1. What is your favorite restaurant and why? My favorite is Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian in Las Vegas. We've been there twice. The experience is wonderful, the food - to die for. To us, it's a must do when we're in town.
2. What fast food restaurant are you partial to? Portillo's. Love the Italian beef.
3. What are your standards and rules for tipping? I always start at 15%. You have to screw up bad to make that move down, but if the service is stellar, it goes to 20%, and, in rare circumstances, even higher. Make me feel good and you get more money. It's more service-related than food quality-related.
4. Do you usually order an appetizer and/or dessert? Normally, neither, but it depends on what I chose for an entree. If the entree isn't as filling as say 16+ oz. steak, I'd consider an appetizer. The dessert will be based on how I feel after the entree. There have been times when my eyes have been bigger than my stomach, and haven't been able to handle a dessert that I really wanted.
5. What do you usually order to drink at a restaurant? Non-alcoholic is always a Coke (Pepsi if I must). Alcoholic is usually a Shiraz or Merlot - it usually goes with everything I order, since I don't usually go out and eat foods that go with white wines!
Thursday, April 11, 2002
Survivor Marquesas - Episode 7
Well, after a quick check of my TiVo I found out that construction worker Robert Mariano was thrown out of the new Soliantu tribe. I'm going to have to sit down and watch the show sometime to see how this all came about. All I know is that both Carol & I are happier after seeing the results of the voting...
Wolves 3 - Mighty Ducks 2
75° in April
It's sunny, a bit breezy and it's 75° outside! This is a big deal! I had to go out for a while, just to be able to walk around in a short-sleeve shirt in the sun. I missed this. It really rejuvenates you. We need more days like this. Unfortunately, when I'm going to be outside for the next three days, the temperatures are going to drop into the low 60's (Spending time at Comiskey Park as the White Sox finally come home to start their first home stand).
Wednesday, April 10, 2002
Wolves 3 - Mighty Ducks 2
Oh my God, this turned into a long night... Back at the Allstate Arena for the second game of this silly AHL Qualifying Series. It took two overtimes, but the Wolves won over Cincinnati 3-2 on a goal by Zdenek Blatny. The boxscore says there were 2,061 people there, which means the attendance was down from yesterday's game. There wasn't any "desperation playing" by either team. The game was relatively penalty-free. Both teams, though, looked pretty tired. It made me comment that the team that wins will win because of a mistake. Blatny's goal was on a slapshot that tipped off the glove of the Duck's rookie goaltender Joey MacDonald (who never played a game in the AHL before tonight). Frederic Cassivi actually looked good (and at times, stellar), stopping 43 shots (Last year, Cassivi led the AHL a 1.49 goals-against average during the playoffs with the Hershey Bears).
Oh, and I spoke too soon yesterday about "Chuck-A-Puck" - someone actually won the $500 tonight by getting their puck in the helmet!
On the downside, someone else was hit with a puck during the game. An elderly gentleman in the section next to us was hit in the side of the head with the puck. He wasn't watching the game - he was looking into a bag of candy that friends of ours offered to him. The security guys (like Rick who sits right behind the official scorers) responded quickly, and so did two paramedics who saw the incident from across the arena. Friends of the gentleman, who left with him, came back for the overtime periods. They told us that he got 4 staples to close the wound. (And to show how awkward this was, it turns out that this man has had 2 brain surgeries in the past). So between the candy, and the fact that the usher at the top of our section invited this guy to come to the game, there were a few people that felt bad about the whole situation.
Symmetry. Catch it.
How strange of a sports coincidence is this??? Chicago is playing Detroit in Detroit today. So? It's the Chicago White Sox at the Detroit Tigers, the Chicago Blackhawks at the Detroit Red Wings, and the Chicago Bulls at the Detroit Pistons!!! All today!!! Weird, eh? Oh, and on a different sporting note, I heard that the Florida Marlins ran out of hotdogs in the fourth inning of their home opener! How could someone let that happen?
Tuesday, April 09, 2002
Wolves 2 - Mighty Ducks 3
The Wolves first journey towards the AHL Calder Cup began tonight... and nobody cared. Not the fans, and surely not the team. First, this round is just weird. The season just ended Sunday, and two days later is a best of three qualifying series of games. The Wolves (the #7 seed in the Western Conference) play the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (the #10 seed). All three games are played here and all on consecutive nights (Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday). Well, there was nobody in the stands. The box score said that the attendance was 2,119, but that was paid. It sure looked empty inside the Allstate Arena. I think it was emptier than some of the severe snow days that we've had. The turnout was just bad. And then they decide to do their old stand-by charity event - "Chuck-A-Puck". This is where you purchase an orange, foam rubber puck for $2 (3 for $5) with a number on it. During one of the intermissions, a member of the Wolf Pack will go out to center ice and place a helmet (open side up) in the middle of the ice. Then all the fans throw their pucks onto the ice, trying to get their puck into the helmet to win $500. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever accomplished this. It's an easy fund raiser for the night's charity.
And the game? Well, the Wolves never looked like they were there. Pasi Nurminen was still a scratch (I wonder what really happened to him - he was "shaken-up" in a game last Wednesday). And then coach decides to bench Norm Maracle, so Frederic Cassivi was in the net. He tried. As usual, he had no defense to back him up. We had a 6-on-4 for the last minute of the game and we couldn't tie it up. The Wolves lost 3-2. Lackluster. No intensity. Poor passing. Mistakes. The words "they suck" just keep going through my head. They look tired and the look like they're not committed to this. Right now I feel that the Wolves won't make it through this crazy Qualifying Round, and I'm not sure they will win tomorrow. It's hard to root for a team that looks like they don't care.
Monday, April 08, 2002
Ozzy in the House?
Was just watching Greta Van Susteren on The Tonight Show. She invited Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon to go with her to the White House Correspondants Dinner on May 4! Oh, man, I've got to make sure I TiVo C-SPAN that night!!!
Thank you for your timeliness
So today is April 8, right? Guess what I got in the mail today.
A W-2. From my prior company that went bankrupt - marchFIRST. I was hoping they'd finally get around to sending a W-2. I was hoping the bankruptcy judge would tell the trustee to get out the W-2's so all of us former employees. It's bad enough that the company went *poof*, but they were screwing around with the former employees as well. So maybe I'll get a chance and file a complete return electronically without having to file manually using IRS Form 4852 "Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement". At least it looks like a refund is in order... I won't know until I plug in all the number into TurboTax...
Sunday, April 07, 2002
When we got back from the game, I reset the GFI breaker in the garage and the thing reset. I haven't a clue on why I couldn't reset it before.
Wolves 3 - Aeros 4
Last Wolves game of the regular season. The Wolves lost 4-3 against the Houston Aeros. This is not the way to go into the playoffs. It looked like Norm Maracle didn't see any of the shots coming at him. I mean, Houston only had 17 shots! We need Pasi Nurminen back quickly (he got shook-up in a game last Wednesday). Instead - as our backup goalie, we've got a guy named Michael Garnett who was signed by the team as an Amateur Tryout! Oh, great! We now have the 7th seed in the playoffs. That means we don't get a bye in the first round of the "Western Conference Qualifier" - a best of three series against the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks on Tuesday, Wednesday (and, if necessary, Thursday). Great - a best of three series.
This was also the last day of Fan Appreciation weekend. They were still selling tons of old merchandise in the East lobby. After the loss, the team threw merchandise over the glass to the fans (which is always a cool thing). Then they had the "Shirts Off Our Backs" promotion - during the course of the season at selected games, the Wolves were wearing alternate jerseys (it's a cool black jersey, that looks similar to the Atlanta Thrashers (their Parent Club) alternate jersey). The jerseys were auctioned-off for charity (usually one or two a game). The winners came to this game and were escorted onto the ice after the game, where each Wolves player, one at a time, skated over and literally gave them their "shirts off their backs". Off course, they were a bit smelly and sweaty and may have blood on them, but hey - it's a game worn jersey! The downside to all this is the auction itself. Though it benefits charities, the average price for a jersey is $1,000. There are so many fans that cannot compete with this kind of money. Not only that, the vast majority of the bidders already have other jerseys that they have bid on and won!!!! Give us schmoes a break!
Before going to my parents for lunch, I went into the bathroom up stairs and realized that the clock we have in there was dead. So was the night light. The outlet was dead. It's a GFI outlet, and the reset is actually in the garage on another outlet. I hit the reset and couldn't get the circuit to reset. So all of the bathroom outlets and the outside outlets were dead - not to mention the power in the garage that is also powering the garage door opener. We decide to open the door manually and deal with the circuit breaker later.
I hate the beginning of Daylight Savings Time for only one reason - that initial shock of losing an hour that could be devoted to quality sleep. The longer daylight hours is cool, it's just that shock of the first morning that's a killer...
Wolves 2 - Griffins 3
The season is winding down, and the Wolves lost to the Griffins again 3-2. This was just a case of being outplayed. Period. The Griffins were swarming, and just seemed a hell of a lot quicker. Before the game, Steve Maltais and Rob Brown were honored in a pregame ceremony to recognize that each player surpassed 1,000 professional games this season. These guys are getting old - but here's Rob Brown who's second in the entire league in points (83)!
Today and tomorrow are Fan Appreciation games. Today, they gave away a 1986 Classic Porsche 944 (there were entry forms given out at each home game). There was also Scratch-and-Win cards for everybody to get giveaway stuff (today we got a team picture and a CD from The Verve Pipe). The first 10,000 people got a pair of Thunder Stix - basically they're mylar tube balloons that you blow up and seal, and you bang them together. Let's just say they were way more annoying than you would think. Tonight was the last night of the Chicago's Department of Animal Care and Control (ACC) "Adopt-A-Pet" Program - there were 24 dogs up for adoption, and they made an announcement during the game that 16 were adopted. Before today, there have been 77 dogs adopted. Dan Snyder has a web page on the team website for the adoption program.
Oh, I got hit before the game tonight. Not with a puck, but with a tennis ball that was thrown into the crowd. (It's part of a Max & Erma's giveaway - there's Wolves Players' names on the tennis balls - if the first goal is scored by the player whose name is on your tennis ball, you get something). Well, I got hit in the collarbone. I couldn't see what was going on - Brad who sits in front of me was sitting on the back of his seat, totally blocking my view. I never saw the ball. And it hurt like hell - it caught the bone just right. Oh, well. I'm happy it wasn't a puck.
After the game tonight, we went over to the Ramada for a private WolfPack party in a suite. It was a bit too empty, and then we found out why - there was an after-game skate around, so everyone was still back at the Allstate Arena. We didn't stay too long - we were bushed, and with the change in Daylight Savings Time, we thought it'd be a good idea to get home.
Friday, April 05, 2002
What's the deal with the snow? It seems that it's been snowing here for days - big, light flakes. No accumulation, hardly any wind, but everytime I look out the window or go out somewhere, it's snowing. I'm watching the Cleveland at Detroit home opener (on DirecTV) - and it's snowing. The Cubs home opener is just starting - is it going to snow there, too? This is Spring, damn it!!!
Oooooo... techno-geek alert - an interesting application of technology, if only someone can figure out how to implement it in a cost effective manner so that your local bar or club can use it - a drinking glass that can signal when it's almost empty. I guess it's called iGlassware.
Wait... I'm in Blogistan? Or am I in Lower Blogovia? I think Alex Beam in his Boston Globe article is a little bit off-base on blogging. "Welcome to Blogistan, the Internet-based journalistic medium where no thought goes unpublished, no long-out-of-print book goes unhawked, and no fellow ''blogger,'' no matter how outre, goes unpraised." Fortunately, others have replied. Of course, it happens to be a blog. And John Dvorak has decided he's going to blog, so he's written his Eight Rules for the Perfect Blog in his article Deconstructing the Blog.
Friday 5 - Your Day
Time for The Friday Five...
1. What are the first things that you do in the morning to start your day? Roll out of bed, throw on a robe and hit the morning EMails, first checking the job site EMails for any postings that my agents have collected from their respective job sites. Then put together a "Daily Diversions" EMail to my friends, consisting of quotes and horoscopes. Then read some stories online from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, ending with reading the sports stories of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Wolves. I do this seven days a week.
2. What are the last things that you do at night before going to bed? I never go to bed without hitting the computer first, for any last minute EMails and perhaps any last minute sports scores.
3. What daily routine have you recently added to your day? Well, the last six weeks I had my Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty, but as of today, I don't have to do that anymore.
4. What routine do you wish you get rid of? BEING AT HOME! A NEED to find a job!!!!
5. What's the one thing that makes you feel like something is missing if you don't do it some point within your day? Checking my EMail! I somehow need to feel connected to my friends and the world.
Thursday, April 04, 2002
Survivor Marquesas - Episode 6
Well, though Maraamu won the reward challenge, they didn't make it through the immunity challenge, so they had to do something they didn't want to - vote off one of the "family" - and it fell to nature guide Gina Crews, the last original member of Maraamu. Robert Mariano and Sean Rector live another 3 days to be part of the merge on next week's episode. Please, oh please. oh PLEASE don't let these two bozos make it to the finals...
Final Day of Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty
It's over. I have finally ended my Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty. Dad's last radiation treatment was today. No big fanfare, but he did get a ribbon from the staff and they let him take home the form-fitting mask that is used to lock him into the radiation gear. He's got a CT Scan on May 16th and an appointment on the 21st. The treatments took more of a toll than I had thought. The fatigue is pretty bad. He's really tired now. He's been pretty quiet in the car during our trips. We used to have conversations before. Well, as much of a conversation that you can have with someone who tries to talk but can't because of the laryngectomy, which means that you have to read his lips... which is extremely difficult when you are trying to drive a car. But at least they were conversations. It seemed that I was the only one that could read his lips well - Mom or Diane couldn't, and Mom would just give up and say to him in a frustrated voice "I don't know what you're saying" and that would just piss him off. I looked at his skin that was in the radiated area. Not only did it look leathery from a bad sunburn, there were areas that almost looked purple because the burn was so dark. Now he needs to just kick back and chill. It'll be weeks before his sore throat goes away. He's lost about 7 pounds in the last 6 weeks. I'm just hoping that his energy comes back.
Wednesday, April 03, 2002
Nothing new today - except I got a good night's sleep. That's the first one in at least a week. My insomnia was getting to me. I wound up spending hours on the couch scanning through DirecTV to find things to watch at 3 in the morning. I don't know what's going on. Is it the unemployment? All I know is that I finally slept well last night.
Tuesday, April 02, 2002
B&B back from LV
Our friends Barry & Buffy went to Las Vegas last Saturday. The four of us have gone together 6 times. This is the first time they've been there on their own (we just couldn't go - the money situation, you know). They were coming home tonight, so both Carol & I thought it'd be fun to meet them at the airport and surprise them, and then drive them back home - that way, we were still "part" of their trip. Their flight was well over an hour late (they said it was "ground delayed" in Las Vegas due to weather in Chicago - weather? what weather?) Anyway, we waited outside the security area in Terminal 2 at O'Hare. Carol made a little cardboard sign with their last name on it, just like all those people meeting co-workers - or fares - at the airport. Well, let's just say the surprise worked, and they were ecstatic to see us. They seem to have an OK time. They stayed at Harrah's (the four of us never stayed there before) and seemed pleased. It was 90° in Vegas today - about 20 degrees above normal. They said that Easter weekend was mobbed. They ate somewhere new - Postrio at The Venetian. Sounds like we'll have to go again when we're all together again, perhaps in September again. Well, it turns out that Barry drove to the airport, so we couldn't drive them home. We'll be seeing them again - after the White Sox game on the 13th.
I leave the trailer park...
Woooooo Hoooooo!!!! at exactly 9:30, a white panel truck pulled up in front of the house. Two guys get out and HAUL AWAY MY OLD HOT WATER HEATER!!! I feel part of the Village of Hoffman Estates citizenry again...
Monday, April 01, 2002
My Life-Clock starts ticking again
WARNING: In case you are new to this blog, please be aware that I'm a Chicago White Sox fan. Please - no flames - I wouldn't respond like that about that "other" team - please respect my opinions and allegiance.
That being said, my life's clock has begun ticking again - Baseball has started!!! It's going to be a rocky ride this season - the Sox have only one or two guys that I trust pitching - the rest are a toss-up. We saw that today when the Sox won 6-5 over the Mariners in Seattle. The bright spots: Mark Buehrle pitching 6-innings of two-hit ball with 5 strikeouts (one solo Home Run, unfortunately). Konerko and Alomar with 2 RBI's each. Tough win. Todd Ritchie starts tomorrow. Let's see how the series progresses.
Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty
Started the final stretch of Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty. After today, Dad has three more treatments. His skin is starting to get badly burned from the radiation - I guess it's starting to blister. He just needs to tough it out for the week and at least another week or two of recovery, and it should start subsiding.
The Northwest Tollway was down to two lanes eastbound when I got on at Roselle. I guess this is the lane configuration out here and it sucks. They haven't setup the new lanes westbound yet. On the way home it started snowing. By the time I got home, it was coming down in those really big flakes and the grass is covered. It wasn't supposed to snow today! This is April! What the heck is going on????
Hey! I called a waste hauler today to cart away the old hot water heater on my parkway! It's supposed to be gone by Wednesday, which is good since the Village is going to do another inspection on Friday to make sure I am in compliance of Village ordinances. It's going to cost me $28. I feel like I'm supposed to be living in a double-wide...