This collection of entries is from December 2002.
Monday, December 30, 2002
Michael Robert Lans, Sr. 1914-2002
I just got home tonight from my Mom's house. It's been a long, stressful evening.
This afternoon at 5pm, my father died.
He was at home with my mom. She found him, but he was already gone. He died quietly and from what we can tell peacefully. He had been getting weaker over the past weeks. I've talked about his problem eating here. We don't know what really happened, we only knew that his time had come.
My Mom seems to be fine. My sister Diane seems to be fine. I think I am fine. We all knew what life with Dad could be like as the cancer progressed. He didn't suffer. Even through his surgery back in May of last year, he never really had any pain at all. The only pain he had was when he had that huge abscess on his neck a few months ago. That was it.
What more could you ask for? A long life (he was 88 years old), no pain, and to die in your own house with your wife of 48 years.
Sunday, December 29, 2002
Oh, please, just get it over with...
The Chicago Bears (4-11) have had 46 different starters this season. 46. Injuries have decimated this team. It's the end of the season, a Sunday Night game on ESPN against Tampa Bay (11-4). The Bucs have never won a game (0-21) if the temperature is under 40. It's 35. Something tells me that really won't make a difference tonight. They've got the #1 defense in the league, and they're going after our third string quarterback with a fourth stringer as backup. There's no way the Bears can win. Let's just get it over with...
Update: End of the 1st: Buccaneers 0 Bears 0
Update: End of the half: Buccaneers 6 Bears 0
Update: End of the 3rd: Buccaneers 6 Bears 0
Update: Final: Buccaneers 15 Bears 0
Carol and I wanted meat. Barry & Buffy wanted meat. It was time to do something about it.
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We drove into the city to pickup B&B. First stop - breakfast at the Salt & Pepper Diner on Clark Street, in the shadow of Wrigley Field. Filled up with omelettes, bacon and coffee, and then it was time to hit the road. We drove all the way from Chicago through Indiana to Sawyer, Michigan to hit our favorite place for meat - Falatic's Meat Market. We've been there before - it's not far from my sister Diane's house in Sawyer. We think this is a quality place. For us, it may be an hour and a half ride, but it's worth it. It really all started because we needed filets for the New Year's Eve party at B&B's, and, well, we all just wanted meat. So, combined, we must have been there for half an hour and spent just shy of $400 on beef, veal, chicken, lamb, and sausages. The owner (Ron) is just really a nice guy. They even helped us out to the car (it was a lot of meat). Then after a quick stop at the Truck Stop in Sawyer for a potty break, we drive all the way back to the city, but to Costco over by Damen and Clybourn. We've stopped for lobster tails (about 9-10 oz) to go with the filets for the dinner. Of course, there were a few other things to pickup for B&B (like brie for the party and other things). Then it's off to Binny´s Ivanhoe Castle on Clark for wine (the champagne has already been taken care of) and some paté. Finally, it's back to B&B's. But we're not finished. We brought with our FoodSaver, so now it's time to vaccu-seal all of the meat we bought today. B&B's freezer is now full of meat. Carol didn't bring enough of the plastic material to make enough bags for everything that was bought, so we brought home our chicken to seal it at home. Long day, but damn it - we got our meat!
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Saturday, December 28, 2002
Wolves 5 - Rampage 3
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Tonight was the first game that we could see the AHL's newest team, the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers. The Wolves played them last night and won 4-2. Tonight, we win again, this time 5-3. Not exactly stellar play, but San Antonio really had some very nice plays. Nothing much to really talk about. Boring game? No, just a normal game with nothing standing out to talk about. Oh, well.
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This is Hospice care?
My dad is under hospice care for his cancer. He's at home, and my mom's been doing a good job taking care of him. Today, while doing normal daily maintenance on his stoma, some mucous (ew) dislodged a bit a went down his airway. Well, he was coughing and you could hear it. Mom freaked a little, and called Loyola Hospice Care because , though dad was OK, she's just like to have someone come out and maybe suction out the mucous. Not a big deal, not a big request. After four friggin' hours of telephone calls, and finally a nurse coming out, he's declared fine and they won't do anything. There's so much more to this story, a story about quality of life versus what appears to be a corporate inaction and even indifference, using that old "well, you know, he is going to die" line that we're starting to get real tired of. I'm pissed. My mom's pissed, a little freaked out, and quite a bit overwhelmed. We'll get through it. We have to.
Friday, December 27, 2002
When I came home tonight, Carol was just smiling from ear-to-ear and almost bounding around the house. It's Weight Watchers day, and she's down 2.2 pounds, making an even 35 pounds total. That's not bad, considering it's the holidays! She out of the house tonight, going to a bachelorette party (complete with p*nis-shaped pasta - had to clean that up a bit, I don't want Google searches here for damn p*nis-shaped pasta!). I'm proud of her weight loss - she's doing a great job and has these little goals for herself (all clothing related, with certain pieces of clothing that are still in the closet). Somehow, I need to get on the bandwagon...
I am holding something that seems... familiar... I seem to recall having something very similar to these things some time ago in my past... it looks foreign... it has my name and address on it... I seem to remember those other ones having that, too... the lettering in the corner seems really familiar... Arial, italic... wait... it's... it's... it's a paycheck!!! Oh, my, how long it has been!!! And there's two of them!!!
Friday 5 - New Year
Time for another Friday Five...
1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year? Finally getting a job after 20 months.
2. What was your biggest disappointment?
Not being able to get a job in my field (though at least it's a related field). Finding out that my Dad's cancer came back with a vengeance and can't be cured.
3. Will you be making any New Year's resolutions? Nope. Never do. Too hard to keep.
4. Where will you be at midnight? Do you wish you could be somewhere else? We'll be at our friends' house - Buffy & Barry. And no, we have no desire to be anywhere else.
5. Aside from (possibly) staying up late, do you have any other New Year's traditions? Lately, it's just going over to B&B's, drinking champagne, and eating and eating and eating...
Thursday, December 26, 2002
Nuts... I couldn't Call-In "Rich"
Well, as they say, "you've got to play to win." So we did (play). And we didn't (win). You know how you call-in to your boss to let him/her know that you're not going to be in? Normally, you call-in "sick" or some such thing.
Barry and I have always wanted to be able to "Call-in 'Rich'" instead. ("I'm sorry, I'm not going to be able to come into work today. I'm rich.") I've also heard it called something else: if someone gets the big prize, the people at work would refer to them as being "Lottery Terminated." (Wow... I would have been able to buy 376,254 TiVo's. Or 225,450 Handspring Treo's. Or 22,727 Segways. Or 6,849 Cooper Mini's. Oh! Even better! 5 trips as a tourist to The International Space Station!)
Doctor, Doctor, It hurts when I do this...
Hmmm... OK, so the little fall that I took on Christmas Eve is starting to show itself in the form of pain in my back where I hit the pavement. Fortunately it's just muscle pain, and it seems to only effect me when I stand up after sitting in my chair. I guess it could have been worse, so I can just tough this out.
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Indy's view of the season...
Spent the day at my parents house. Breakfast. Gifts. Naps. Dinner. Trading Spaces marathon on the TV. In a nutshell, that was our day. Dad is miserable. He's got an appetite. He really wants to eat. He's just so friggin' frustrated at having his food come up and out his nose. He's embarrassed. It upsets him. He wants to eat like normal people and he should be able to. It's just so damn difficult to see him go through this on Christmas. It's killing me. At any rate, we enjoyed our Christmas together. It's a long day, though. We needed to just get home so that we can hit the sheets for work tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Tonight, it's take the parents to my sister Diane's for a family Christmas Eve with our cousins and Uncle Jim. The weather is starting to turn nasty - very windy and snowing. At least the snow isn't of the big-flake variety, it's more of the real tiny not-necessarily-flake-but-maybe-pellet variety. We all show up at Diane's house at the exact same moment, causing chaos and pandemonium amongst the dogs and, well, everyone involved. The evening went well. Dad seemed a bit crabby, though. I think it's just hard on him to travel, and I just don't think he wanted to socialize with our extended family. Well, while cleaning the snow off my car, I fell in the street. Yep. My right foot started to slide out from under me. I remember thinking to myself "This is going to hurt" as I didi the splits. The splits didn't hurt, as I was able to twist my legs so I didn't actually do the splits. Hitting the asphalt hurt. I slipped again when walking my parents to the car.The ride home was bad. The Kennedy hadn't been plowed or salted. Addison was the same, so travel was just slow. After dropping off my parents, I slipped again going to the car. By now, the sudden flailing of my body is screwing up most of the muscles in my back, and now I have a headache like you would get in a whiplash accident. Ouch. The drive home was made worse only by the number of idiots on the street who just don't know how to drive in this weather. Actually, it has nothing to do with the weather - they're just driving like idiots. Like the guy in the SUV that didn't even stop to look that traffic was coming at a busy intersection (without a traffic light) and just pulls out and turns. (Of course, there was traffic coming, and this little event caused a van to swerve to miss the idiot, cross the center line and come right at us, only to swerve again, this time to avoid us. Nice, eh? Merry Christmas!) Or the people that just pull too far into an intersection, causing you to swerve around them. That has nothing to do with snow, and everything to do with idiotic driving. I feel more Pet Peeves coming on here... (The bad thing, is that all of the idiots looked Eastern European... pattern?) The tollway was clear and wet, as well as most of the neighborhood. At least we're home safely.
Gee, I wonder why there's no traffic...
Got to work in record time today - 20 minutes. Wonder why? Yes, that's the downfall of working here - you don't get Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve or the day after Thanksgiving off. I was thinking back and realized that I have never worked Christmas Eve in my career. Advantage? Light traffic. Disadvantage? Forget being able to get anywhere on time for any Christmas Eve celebrations.
Monday, December 23, 2002
To the friggin' idiot on I-294...
To the absolute moron in the black Ford Explorer that just had to be in the left-hand lane on the Tri-State Tollway after 1pm, tailgating, crossing the yellow line, then getting off the Tollway at Dempster going East, still not paying attention to traffic: DO YOU HAVE TO READ A FRIGGIN' FORBES MAGAZINE WHILE GOING 80 MPH?????
Crash and burn
Major failure at work.
With me, that is.
There's nothing I despise more in my career than to show up at work on a Monday morning and find the system down. And not knowing why. And being the first person there. And having to handle the avalanche of Help Desk calls from around the country from users not only wanting to know what's wrong, but demanding to know how long it will be until they're up (without even knowing the extent of the problem). I handled the whole triage miserably. I failed. I failed so badly that there were calls about my performance. I haven't had to handle pressure like this is in quite a few years and I wasn't ready for it. I should have been more professional, I should have known better. I just let the emotions build and I mishandled the calls. (Thank God I took my blood pressure medication today!!!) All of this because a WINS service goes nuts on a server (not to mention a VPN issue because of a PIX box reconfiguration, but that's a whole other story). So, I've been told, I need to step away and let the phone ring for a while to gain my composure. I have this need to answer the phones and provide quality service, but I guess if you can't deliver quality, then just step away...
Saturday, December 21, 2002
Wolves 5 - Admirals 2
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The Wolves had a league-high 9 game winning streak broken last night, so it's time to start a new one. This was already the 8th game against the Admirals, and the 3rd Saturday in a row that we played them. I hate this divisional scheduling. Because of the loss yesterday and 3 games in 3 days scheduling (they play in Houston tomorrow), Coach John Anderson pulled goalie Milan Hnilicka for Norm Maracle. The game started out OK, and then gets a little scary when the Wolves let the Admirals get back into the game. Maracle stopped a penalty shot after a scramble in front of the net ensued, Norm lost the puck and Garnet Exelby jumps in and freezes it in the crease (which is illegal). The game was pretty clean, but there was a weird play in the 3rd. Simon Gamache charges and brings the puck right up to the net. A Milwaukee defenseman (didn't catch who) checks him and forces him on top of the net off his skates. Fortunately, Garnet Exelby happened to be around and he poked the puck in for the 5th goal of the game. By the end of the game, the Wolves had 13 power-play opportunities, but only scored on 2. Skates and his crew were dressed in their Christmas finery, and you know it's the holiday season when you see the Marines that are at the game manning the Toys For Tots collection areas are in the aisle dancing to "Cotton Eyed Joe". Our friend John was at the game for the first time since knee-replacement surgery the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It's was good seeing him again. So, it's time to start a new streak. We have another league-high streak going now: 8 straight home wins.
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Friday, December 20, 2002
Those "other" people
Part of the interesting thing of being employed again, is that I get to work in an office building that supports many companies - something that I haven't been in for quite some time. So, like the walker I had mentioned the other day (who I now see everyday), there are "other" people in the building that I feel free to talk about! Like today, in the men's restroom on our floor. A gentleman walked in to brush his teeth. At 10 in the morning. Now, for some reason, I feel free to discuss him because you just don't see people brushing their teeth at work. And then, after watching this, you starting to wonder - "Why?" Can't stand his breath after some coffee? (one hopes that it wasn't because he was eating onions or garlic at 10 in the morning). Was he being considerate to a fellow coworker, perhaps a young lady that he works with very closely? Or perhaps it's medical, having to keep his mouth and teeth as clean as possible because of dental or gum issues. Or maybe it's just OCD? (I had never seen him before, but today is only Day 8 on the job). Just one of those observations that make you wonder...
Friday 5 - Holidays
Time for another Friday Five... (Hey! It's back!)
1. What holiday or holidays do you celebrate this time of year? Well, Christmas, of course, with celebrations Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
2. What was the best gift you have ever received? There could have been better, but recently the best gift sounds weird - it was a Herman Miller Aeron chair from my sister that I have at my computer at home. It's the world's best chair. When I worked at marchFIRST, that was one of the many extravagances that they had purchased. Why is it the best present? A few reasons - it's comfortable and my butt and back enjoy it, but most of all it was a bit pricey and and it was a very generous gift that I'm much appreciative of.
3. What was the worst gift you've ever given? OOOoooooo... I just don't to talk about some things in public... I have received some pretty bogus things over the years from people that may have been trying to be considerate, but just don't get it.
4. Where will you be celebrating the holidays? Are you hosting? Going away? Christmas Eve will be at my sister's house, Christmas Day at my parents.
5. If you could spend the holidays with someone who isn't around, who would it be with? Why? I guess it depends on the definition of "someone who isn't around". If it refers to geographic location, all of my family is local to Chicago. If it refers to someone who is no longer with us, well that's a whole different story. I would love to go back to the Christmases of my childhood, with everyone alive and vibrant, when the extended family was big, and loud.
Thursday, December 19, 2002
I'm OK with Brian...
At least I'm not throwing things at my TV tonight like last night. I think it may have been different if Clay won...
Well, Carol is home with Indy. Indy bounded out of her carrier, made a beeline for her condo - which she found locked - and then spent quite a while in her clubhouse of boxes. She's fine. The vet can't find a thing wrong with her, though the blood work is still pending. She got x-rayed, got her teeth checked, and nothing looks wrong. Great. To me, that means that, somehow, right around Thanksgiving, she went crazy. At least she's home, and I feel better.
It's one thing when you come home from work and your wife's not home. You can accept that - she's working late, she's out shopping. Whatever it is, it's fine. You can handle that. No problem. Why is it then, when you come home and your pet is not there either, the house just seems REALLY empty?
Ah, the depths of sleep...
Well, so far, I've found another benefit of finally being employed - sleep. I've been getting great nights of sleep. It's not that the job is tiring - I'm fine when I get home. It's just that when I sleep now, it's a deep, sound sleep. The kind of sleep that you actually enjoy. The kind of sleep that, when you wake up, you don't want to end. The kind of sleep that, when you do wake up, you realize that you haven't moved much through the night. Ahhhhhhh...
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Amazing Race 3 - Episode 11 - FINALE
"They're Slithering to the Finish Line Like the Rest of Us!"
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Damn it, I just can't do it... I wanted to do a whole recap like I've done in the past for tonight's 2-hour finale. I just can't. I wanted to tell you about the teams leaving Ho Chi Minh City to take a four-hundred-mile train trip to Hue and find the Imperial Palace. But, you see, this is just the beginning of the madness that is Flo. By the end of the first hour of tonight's finale, Flo will have actually declared defeat and/or intent to quit no less than nine times. The teams go from Ho Chi Minh City, to Hue, to Nam O Da Nang for the first Detour - "Basket Boats" or "Basket Bikes" (where Flo - honest to God - looks like she has, in reality, "lost it" and has - at a minimum - a "meltdown"). The teams to the town of Hoi An, find the Boat Guay, choose a sampan, and travel to the middle of river for their next clue which is a Road Block (to choose a traditional Vietnamese fishing platform and use the wooden winch to raise a net out of the water, where either they or their partner could grab the clue dangling from the net). Flo & Zach have done parts of their Detour at least once. It's painful. I am compelled to throw objects at the TV. Carol and I are screaming at the TV to make the whining end, but Flo, though she says she will, never quits the race... or quits whining, for that matter. The teams travel travel 15 miles to China Beach. Teri & Ian are first (and get a a seven-night Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska), Oh Brother is second, and Flo & Zach are - of course last... Flo is almost smiling... BUT - Phil chimes in "The good news is that this is not an elimination...". Oh crap, I've got to endure another hour of Flo... So the next leg of the race begins with the teams having to make their way across the city of Danang to a buddha at the Guange Mihn Temple, where their next clue tells them to fly 6500 miles to Honolulu, Hawaii to receive a blessing from the Big Kahuna. A small problem first - Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi requires that all persons entering the airport must have a ticket, so they have to stop at a travel agency to handle the ticketing. This is where Ian shows his true colors again, and becomes the prick that we know. (I mean, he goes behind the ticket counter to help the agents!) So it's flights from Hanoi to Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan. From there, the teams have two different flights to Hawaii, but because of rain, the flights depart within 15 minutes of each other. When in Hawaii, teams drive Mustang convertibles twenty miles along the Oahu North Shore to the secluded Kaiwana Point, get their blessing, and find out they have to fly 100 miles to the island of Kauai, drive a car 25 miles to a ranch gate and follow markers to the next clue - a Detour: "Quick Drop" and "Slow Walk", where everyone including - Shock! Horrors! - Flo opt for "Quick Drop", a 160-foot tandem drop to the Wailua Falls below. The next stop: Kerry Park in Seattle. After the flight and finding the park, they have to use their feet to get to the International Fountain, which sent them to the west side of Seattle and Lincoln Park - the location of the final Roadblock: it's a totem pole with animal faces. The person needed to spin the faces in the same chronological order they appeared in the race (which was "donkey, dolphin, horse, goat and manatee"). When they were lined-up, a little door opened up and spit out the final clue - get to Gas Works Park. Lots of editing. Lots of cabs (including cabs running red lights and cutting through corner gas stations).
And then comes the shot of the park. All the eliminated teams are there. And in the distance, you can see the trees at the edge of the park... and then they appear...
The winners are Flo & Zach. Now the objects are being hurled at the television. Now comes the swearing and yelling at the TV.
Flo and Zach are the winners of The Amazing Race 3. In second, Teri & Ian, and in third, Oh Brother - Ken & Gerard.
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I'll publish my little synopsis some other time - I'm too wrapped-up in throwing things at my TV right now...
So, I get home from work tonight, Carol is making dinner, and Indy is out running around. "Our bunners" is just having a grand time running around, shaking her head, and jumping up in the air. What she doesn't know, yet, is that she's going to the vet tomorrow. She's still not eating everything she should be, and she's just too "wired". It's best to just get her put up on the rack, rotate the tires, check the fluids, and make sure she's OK anyway. One of the things we noticed is that she stopped eating her hay, which isn't a good thing. I look down at her on the floor, and there she is, parked next to her basket of hay that we leave out for her, just having a nice chew on some fresh hay. Great. She'll eat hay when she's outside her Bunny Condo, but not when she's "home". We'll have to see what happens tomorrow.
1 Year Blogiversary!
I started "My Mundane Mid-Life" one year ago today
, with a comment about the damn Bowl Season being too early (and I still think it is!). It's been an interesting year - hopefully this "thing" will get more interesting and more entertaining as time goes by. I had every intention on keeping this thing going when I started it. So far, so good! Thank you all for stopping by and reading and nosing around my website. I do appreciate it. Hey, if you come around regularly, why not leave me a comment or sign my GuestMap
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Misdemeanor Corporal Injury to Spouse
The Smoking Gun has more twisted Survivor news. This time, it's about Misdemeanor Corporal Injury to Spouse charge... against Charmaine Ann Heidik who, allegedly, punched her husband Survivor Brian Heidik in the nose. She was jailed for two days and was released on her own recognizance. Trial started yesterday. In the meantime, the court has ordered that the "Defendant shall stay at least 100 yards away from the person, place of residence, place of business and/or schooling of Brian Heidik." and "not own, use, or possess any dangerous or deadly weapons, including firearms, knives, or other concealable weapons." Charmaine was also known as C.C. Costigan in adult films, and has appeared with her husband Brian in at least two films: 2001's The Regina Pierce Affair and 2000's Scandal: Passions Obsession.
If H=human population, and V=vampire population...
A mathematical model of predator-prey population dynamics in Buffy's Sunnydale by a PhD candidate in ecology at Stanford University: Vampire Population Ecology
"And we're walking... we're walking..."
The building that I work in is not very big. Each floor is a series of office suites connected by a main corridor. On my particular floor, a few suites are empty due to companies going out of business. So, in general, it's quiet ot there. There's a guy that walks the main corridor, from end to end, reading a book. Just walking back and forth. He's got walking/running shoes on, and he's walking and reading from one of the floor to the other. I guess it's one way of taking a break and getting some exercise.
Da Bears Anthrax Scare...
This showed up in this morning's EMail:
LAKE FOREST,IL. (AP) - Chicago Bears football practice was delayed nearly two hours today after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery substance on the practice field. Head coach Dick Jauron immediately suspended practice while police and federal investigators were called to investigate.
After a complete analysis, FBI forensic experts determined that the white substance unknown to the players was the goal line. Practice was resumed after special agents decided that the team was unlikely to encounter the substance again.
Monday, December 16, 2002
Indy is still not herself. She's lost weight - which, in the grand scheme of things, is not necessarily bad, as she was just a little bit pudgy. Ever since Thanksgiving, she's been... "different". She's been chewing everything in sight, but she's not eating. She's franticly wanting "lovin's" from her Dad (me). She wants to be petted, but then she wants to lick. A lot. She's just starting to eat her lettuce, and today she started eating her "chow" (It's not really "chow", but Kaytee Exact Rainbow for Rabbits). She's not eating any hay, though, and that's not good. She's still got energy, though, and this past week she's been "flopping" on the floor, a signal that she's content. We may have to get her to the vet pretty quick.
Update: Appointment with the vet
Wednesday at 4:00pm Thursday at 6:00pm.
The coffee situation...
OK, I've got a serious situation that I need to take control of. When I get to work at 8 in the morning, there's no coffee. No one on the other side of the floor even makes coffee during the day. That leaves us drugs of IT Discontinued Operations" to fend for ourselves. Now, my new bosses and coworkers have a drip coffee machine about 12 feet from my cube - but no one makes coffee when they get in. So now, I've got to take that over because I made my first pot at 10:30 and that's way too late to jump start my day. And do we have coffee? Not ground - beans! You have to pick your bean (there seems to be a bit of selection) and grind your own and then drip your own pot. Time to "own" the coffee duties, or else I'm not waking up before I start answering the phones!
Sunday, December 15, 2002
Carol & I go over to my parents' house just about every weekend. It's a nice way to keep in touch - Diane is almost always over as well. We don't feel too guilty for having our own lives and having to skip a weekend because of other commitments. This week, though, is different. We're getting into the Christmas season with heavy hearts and skirting a real big issue. This will be Dad's last Christmas. I really felt it this week. This was the first dinner we've had where Dad wasn't at the dinner table with us - he took his dinner in the back room, in front of the TV. He's having this really odd problem that I've talked about before - he can't keep some of the food he eats "down". It seems to come up (and for you squeamish people out there - jump to the next sentence) out his nose. The hospice nurse (and I think doctor as well) believe that the massive infection/abscess that he had in his neck a few months ago may have formed a "pouch" that's collecting some of the food he's swallowing, so this thing he's experiencing isn't acid reflux. The major downside to this is that, though he's hungry and wants to eat, this condition is making eating extremely difficult. He's losing weight. Fast. I really noticed it this week. He's so much thinner. It's putting a strain on my Mom and I can't imagine what Christmas is going to be like. It's scary and disturbing and we just don't really talk about it. In our family, if you don't talk about it then you don't have to face it. At least you don't face it in "public". But you sure do face it when you are alone...
Saturday, December 14, 2002
Dinner with friends
Just got back from Magnum's in Rolling Meadows where we had our holiday get-together with Barry, Buffy, and Debbie. We love this place. We were there last year and back again in May. We even had our favorite waitress, Char (who, if you ever go there, you must ask for her - you won't be disappointed). Food was as great as ever. I had the same sea scallops wrapped in bacon for an appetizer, but for dinner I had a horseradish encrusted New York Strip that was wonderful. The night was too damn short - we hadn't seen Debbie since Labor Day weekend, and Carol hadn't seen Buffy since our Museum Campus day.
Cat's in the Kettle
I have to admit, I laughed out loud at this. Harry Chapin must be spinning in his grave. (Snagged from Quinn).
Friday, December 13, 2002
GROUND FORCE AMERICA
I think this is so cool! My favorite show on BBC America is Ground Force. They are going to shoot a new series - Ground Force America! Yes, they are coming here for surprise garden makeovers! They are planning to film this February in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and this May in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, D.C. The potential problem that could kill the viewership of the show? No Alan Titchmarsh! That's just not right! On the flipside, you will get Charlie Dimmock, Tommy Walsh, and Will Shanahan. They are accepting applications now to be one of the gardens!
So, it was quiet most of the day today as everyone in the company was at a company Christmas party. There were only half a dozen support calls... until the Internet connection burped and VPN failed. So, I panicked for just a short while, got some colleagues on the phone and the line came back up - by itself. Must have been a problem with the provider, since there wasn't any errors on the CSU/DSU. Based on my first week, I think I could do this job for a while.
Starting to feel the whiplash of not working for such a long period of time - I'm groggy a lot of the time. Just not used to this, though it's getting better day-by-day. Driving to work is not bad at all - I'm doing it in about 35 minutes, and I can take Higgins Road the entire way (I love direct routes). The surprise this morning was that the road construction eastbound on Higgins is finally over (didn't look like westbound was finished, though). There were unmarked police cars on the shoulders just waiting for the people to speed along the newly-opened lanes.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
Survivor Thailand - Episode 12
"The Tides Are Turning"
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The tribe received a special Tree Mail, which accompanied a full-length mirror and pictures of themselves taken just before the game started. Everyone took time to gawk at themselves in the mirror. Actually, the men took the time and the women couldn't even get to the mirror! Later Ted and Brian had a discussion about their "alliance", leaving Ted skeptical about Brian's loyalty. On the way to the final Reward Challenge, the tribe is almost run over by Jeff Probst driving a Chevy Trailblazer. He picks up the tribe and they ride together the rest of the way to the challenge site. They are playing for the Trailblazer (this year's SUV of choice), as well as a full Thai dinner, a shower, and massage. The challenge was to retrieve a series of placards with English letters on them (mixed in with Thai letters), and then come up with a two word answer from the letters that spell "an activity". An odd thing happened at the beginning of the challenge - all of the tribe members were standing on a small platform. The first letter was underneath the platform. Jeff told them that they were standing on the first of eight letters. When the challenge starts, everyone starts running to the next station. No one checks underneath their little platform to get their first letter. Jeff has to run after them yelling "You're standing on the first one! Guys!" You're standing on the first one!" Eventually everyone hears Jeff and goes back to the start and the rest of the collection goes normally. Brian figured it out first, but misspelled the clue. He said the clue out loud - "Road Trip" - giving Ted the correct answer. Ted rearranged his tiles correctly (Brian had flipped the "o" and "a" in "Road"), and Ted won the challenge. Because of being saved in a prior Immunity Challenge, Ted chose Helen to join him on the reward. Ted got to drive the two of them in the Trailblazer to the reward site, where there was a feast setup. Neither Helen nor Ted drink, and there were about a half dozen bottles of wine. They decided "what the hell" and started drinking while enjoying their meal. Well, needless to say, Ted got drunk. He was slurring his words, had that "droopy-eye" look, and was just getting loud and obnoxious - hard to enjoy a soothing massage when a big black man is yelling out loud in the shower and yelling in ecstasy when getting his massage. The next day, Ted and Helen go back to camp - with the rest of the unopened wine and food stuffed into their canteens. There were some private discussions on who to vote out. The Immunity Challenge was to build pieces of a 10-step staircase. First one to the top is the winner. Brian wins immunity again. At Tribal Council, Ted Rogers, the 37-year-old software developer from Durham, North Carolina, was voted out of the Chuay Jai tribe 4-1. Next week: The Sole Survivor!
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OK, second day and I'm more on my own than yesterday (tomorrow is the real test - I will actually be alone as I man the phones during the company Christmas party that I'm not going to). Finally got my laptop configured late this afternoon. Now I have to figure out why I can't keep the master volume level up - if a try to set it, it actually moves by itself to 0. Weird. Didn't have lunch - worked instead while everybody else went out, then I had to do the HR orientation and fill out paperwork. *blech*
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Wolves 5 - Ice Cats 4
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Well, it feels like a long day, with it being my first day of work and all. It's weird, though - you can see my building from the parking lot of the Allstate Arena (not that I'm going to be walking there anytime soon). This was the first time we saw the new goaltender (from the Thrashers) Milan Hnilicka. He gave up three goals that he had no chance of getting - all re-directs off of our players. He's 3-0-0-0 since coming to the Wolves (better than his 0-11-0 while in Atlanta). Mark Hartigan had a goal and two assists. This was also the debut of Bob Nardella who looked rusty, had a few penalties (all dealing with grabbing the puck) and, unfortunately, he's one of our guys that deflected a shot with his stick for an Ice Cat goal. A couple of good fights tonight. At the end of the game, they announced a Gross Misconduct penalty on Sergei Varlamov, but it didn't showup in the box score. This was the Wolves' sixth straight win, but they're still in last place in the division.
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Amazing Race 3 - Episode 10
"Don't Try to Play the Moralist Now!"
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The teams leave the 10th Pit Stop at Mount Faber overlooking Singapore. Teams have to fly 700 miles to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and make their way to Rex Square and find the statue of Bac Ho (we know him as Ho Chi Minh, the military leader). The crew had to change the flags from Yellow & Red to just Yellow so there would be no confusion with the official colors of Vietnam's flag. There's a little mix-up with a cab that lands Oh Brother at the airport ahead of The Twins. The Twins try to go to Ho Chi Minh City, but can't find a flight, while Oh Brother flies back to Kuala Lumpur. The other teams get to the airport, to find out that Flo & Zach made reservations for The Twins! The teams take different flights, but everyone now goes to Kuala Lumpur, and winds up on the same flight to Ho Chi Minh City, leveling the playing field still again. Flo & Zach's relationship looks like it's unraveling. The Twins get to the square first. The teams must travel 70 miles into the Mekong Delta and find the town of Cai Be and a route marker at the edge of its famous floating market. Teri & Ian pass The Twins in their cab, and literally they start a little race between the cabs. Flo is crying to Zach about the way they're playing the game. Ken & Gerard arrive in a very windy Cai Be first, and find that the next clue is a Detour - "Easy Buy" and "Hard Sell." Teams choosing "Easy Buy" had to choose a sampan, enter the floating market, find the one stall that sold water coconuts and buy one for any price they could. Between the boat travel and the rareness of the fruit, finding the stall could have taken a long time, but once they found it, buying one water coconut would be easy. Teams choosing "Hard Sell" had to choose a shoulder basket filled with fruit, enter the land market, and attempt to sell enough fruit to earn 40,000 dong, or two and a half dollars. With a small area to cover, getting around the market would be easy, but selling $2.50 worth of fruit to the locals when the going rate for one piece is 6 cents could be difficult. When they finished selling, they had to take their earnings to a woman who verified the amount and gave them their next clue. The rain starts to come down. Hard. The three lead teams hit the water looking for the water coconuts, but it becoming impossible to find - the rain is coming down so hard, that the vendor are covering the fruits with blankets. Ken & Gerard head back to do the "Hard Sell". Flo & Zach arrive and decide to do "Hard Sell" as well. Teri & Ian finally find the vendor and purchase their water coconut - that has a clue attached to it. They have to go back to Ho Chi Minh City and find the Route Marker at 2A Ton Duc Thang District 1 at the edge of the Saigon River. The Twins buy their water coconut. Oh Brother still tries to sell their fruit, as well as Flo & Zach. Teri & Ian and The Twins get taxis and head back. Oh Brother finally sells 40,000 dong worth of fruit and gets their clue. Flo & Zach check in with the lady and find out they're 500 dong short and have to go back out to sell, which Zach does. Teri & Ian find the Route Marker from their cab as they pass by it. They get out and find that it's a Roadblock. In this Roadblock, one Team member had to hop on a bicycle taxi, called a cyclo, and transport their Teammate along a course marked by yellow flags, to a ferry, across the river, to an end point. From there, Teams had to run a short distance to the Pit Stop at the Café Thu Thiem. Teri rides as Ian drives. Ian this whole time has been reminiscing about being in Vietnam during the war, and really seems pumped from the whole experience. The Twins see the flags and get out of their cab, but can't find the box. Ditto with Oh Brother. Flo & Zach actually see the box, and get out of their cab to get the Roadblock clue, jumping into 2nd Place. Flo rides as Zach pedals. The Twins and Oh Brother are totally lost and can't find the box. Teri & Ian wind-up at the Pit Stop and step on the mat in First Place. They also get a 7 night cruise vacation in Europe on Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas (which they can enjoy after the race). Ian is different - he's actually really mellow from his Vietnam experience. Flo & Zach get on the ferry. Oh Brother gets to the ferry and Flo & Zach tell them to follow the flags back. The Twins see Flo & Zach on the boat, and then stumble on Oh Brother running away from the ferry. Oh Brother lies to The Twins saying they don't know where the clue is and they go in opposite directions. Oh Brother finds the clue box. Gerard pedals as Ken rides. Unfortunately, Gerard cuts a corner too sharp and dumps the cyclo, but they get up and keep going. The Twins, however, thing the clue is across the river, so they hop on the next ferry. Oh Brother makes their way onto the ferry. Flo & Zach get to the Pit Stop as Team #2. The Twins make it to the parking area of the cyclos and wind up on the mat with Phil who tells them that they have not completed the Roadblock and that they need... The Twins are off the mat before Phil can even finish a sentence and they try to find out what's going on. Flo & Zach had seen The Twins go to the mat and Flo yells to them to go back to the other side. As they get to the ferry, Oh Brother is coming off. Gerard tells them to go back all the way to the end. The Twins realize that they are in last and that "everybody is over there (at the Pit Stop)". The Twins worry and hope that it's a non elimination leg of the race. Ken & Gerard hit the mat as Team #3. The Twins get their cyclo, Drew drives the course, they get to the Pit Stop as the last team, and are eliminated from the race. Next week: The Finale!
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Not used to working... falling asleep... need to get my act together
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
The long nightmare is over
I start work tomorrow at 8:30am. It's really a temp job, as it's a position that will be going away, but they are going to sign me on as a full-time employee - with benefits! That will be the first full-time job I've had in 20 months!. Excited? Yes. Sort of, though. It's not what I normally do. It's actually a Help Desk job - something I've never done before (lately, I've been doing 3rd Level support, not 1st Level). And it's tens-of-thousands less that what I used to earn, but it's a full-time paying job and I get to stay within the industry (which I think is a plus!) There's another little thing, too - my buddy Barry got me the job - it's at his company! So, I'm indebted to him for saving our broke asses! Thanks, Bar. I need to do something for you!
Monday, December 09, 2002
MNF x 3
Another year of this?
Since Fall was the Fall that wasn't - more like a long preface of Winter - the damn geese are back in the neighborhood again, crapping all over the place. And it's not just a pair of geese. No, whole flocks are walking the cul-de-sac. Great. Another season of this. Why couldn't the West Nile virus get these guys instead of the blackbirds?
My favorite airline filed for Chapter 11 this morning at 6:19am. I've always tried to fly United. I've enjoyed their service and aircraft. I've loved the company, too. Since I was a kid, I have wanted to work for the company. After all, it is "Chicago's Hometown Airline". THe headquarters is just a suburb or two over from ours. Now, it's in Chapter 11. I'm hoping, like a lot of other people, that they can fix it and not destroy it. Our other airline favorite - National - our favorite airline to Las Vegas, didn't make it and folded. Both airlines were rejected by the Air Transportation Stabilization Board for a guaranteed loan.
Sunday, December 08, 2002
Getting old is a bitch
I love waking up in the morning and realizing that you slept so soundly that, to the best of your fleeting recollection, you never moved during the night. The downside of that is if you had worked yourself into a comfortable position, you have stayed in that position for a very long time. If some body part, though comfortable, wasn't exactly in the right position, you pay for it the next day. That's where I am right now. I woke up with my right wrist in terrible pain. I feels out of position. The little finger and ring finger are tingling a little, which means there's a nerve out of place, too. All I'm trying to do is watch Michael Vick get his hat handed to him by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ("Where do you keep your buccaneers?" "Under your buckkin' hat!") He sure doesn't look like the quarterback everyone's been raving about. I'm continuously shaking my hand in the air, straightening my elbow and shaking my hand toward the ground, trying to get whatever is out of whack into correct alignment. Not happening. Pain. Sucks.
Saturday, December 07, 2002
The Big Hurt
So, Frank Thomas returns to the White Sox after he can't find a team to take him. No big surprise. I have mixed feelings about this guy. Yes, he's a great power hitter - but he hasn't been that way recently. There was a time where he led the league in walks because he was so feared. Not any more. He's too moody. He's had some injuries over the last few years, leading to some pretty bad stats. An, even though I'm a White Sox fan and follow the American League, he's now just a Designated Hitter and, well, that's just not right. (Even though, in the past, if he played First Base, his stats went up, though he always denied it.) So, the Sox have actually torn-up his contract and reworked it for a couple of years with both sides getting to exercise "mutual options" for renewal. So, Frank, if you're back, you better start doing something and become the leader of that team - something you have never done in the past 13 years on this team.
Friday, December 06, 2002
Eliminate the asswipe
I am appalled, sick, outraged, enraged... Robyn is bringing up a situation where there appears to be a guy in Tampa who is - for lack of a better term - stalking female bloggers. It's happened to about four bloggers so far, including Robyn, and something needs to be done, as it looks like he may have latched onto a 14 year old blogger. Look, I write personal stuff about my life in my blog. Many people do. There's a sicko out there who is preying on this information and actually showing up at places where these women have said they were going in their blogs. With regularity so you just KNOW it's not coincidence. That is just SO wrong. There's other comments, too, about "inappropriate" things this guy is doing. Support Robyn, Sara, Sarah, Dania, and everyone else that has had to endure this asswipe's actions.
UPDATE: Dania outed the guy, so now he is known to the rest of us. Details about this guy are in the coments of Robyn's entry.
Face-to-face interview on Tuesday morning for a temporary job on a help desk. There's more detail, but, again, I don't want to reveal it yet - there's potential jinxing involved and someone else is involved. It's been 14 months since my last contract (that only lasted 9 days), and 20 months since I had a permanent position.
Thursday, December 05, 2002
Survivor Thailand - Episode 11
"A Big Surprise... and Another"
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After Clay throws a hissy-fit about what Jake said at the last Tribal Council, the tribe heads out for the Reward Challenge. The big surprise waiting them (as alluded to in the title of the show) was that each tribe member had a loved one on the island and they were brought out one by one. Unfortunately, the tribe members couldn't go to them - they had to sit in their bleachers. The winner gets their loved one to spend 24-hours on the island as a tribe member. But Jeff explains: "For the losers - nothing. Hear me clearly - not a kiss, not a hug, not a handshake. You been out here for over a month. And so far, you've been able to find enough coconuts, and clams and edible plants that you've been able to avoid having to live off the bugs and the insects that are out here. But, what I'm curious about is, would you eat those bugs and those insects if it meant getting to spend one full day with your love one?" Everyone chimes in with what they would do. They're pumped. But then Jeff continues: "You know what? I believe you guys. I believe all of you would do just about anything to win this reward. But that's not the question. this question is: would they? Yep, it's this year's gross-out challenge and the loved ones compete! So they endure eating a spoonful of red and flying ants, a huge water roach (that Helen yells at her husband "Don't you dare!" when he starts choking on it), three live grubs, a boiled tarantula, and finally a boiled scorpion. Helen's husband Jim wins over Jake's wife Jenny in the final. Jim spends the next 24 hours as a member of Chuay Jai. There's nothing too exciting to his stay, just a gut-wrenching goodbye when it was over. Later at the Immunity Challenge, Jeff asks Helen what it was like to have Jim in the tribe, then asks Jake about Jenny and how well she played the game. Jake says "She tried so hard." So Jeff says "She didn't want to leave. Well, look. None of them wanted to leave. Funny thing is - they didn't." And sure enough, the loved ones run out of the brush and attack their tribe member. Jeff says they're going to stay and they'll help each of the tribe members with the challenge. It's a cube puzzle - be the first to put together the pieces to make a cube with all of the colored faces facing outward. Everyone tries hard (the couples are tied together at the wrist), but Ted and his brother finish first and win Immunity for Ted. After the necklace is put on Ted, the loved ones have to leave and the tribe goes back to camp. At Tribal Council, Jake Billingsley, the 61-year-old land broker from McKinney, Texas, the "elder" of Sook Jai and the last remaining tribe member of that tribe, is voted out 5-1.
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It looks like I just might be earning some money starting next week... it won't be what I used to earn, but it would be something... More info to follow - don't want to jinx anything.
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
Just got back from Carol's company Christmas Party at Maggiano's Little Italy in Schaumburg. We were in a nice, private, dark banquet room upstairs. We had a great time. Her coworkers are great (some loud and boisterous!) and though every once in a while conversation turned toward work, people really tried to steer clear of it. Carol has been overwhelmed, swamped, frustrated, overworked over at least the last month. Yes, it's her busiest time of year and she has days where she comes home (like yesterday) an emotional puddle of goo. But it was interesting to hear how some of her coworkers are trying to help her out and everyone - to the letter - said that they had no idea how busy she really was and how impossible it is to keep up with the constant orders and phone calls. Too long of a night, too much drinking - I have no idea how these people are going to function tomorrow.
Amazing Race 3 - Episode 9
"Why Did You Have to Take Your Pants Off?!"
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TWO HOUR EPISODE! Actually, it's two episodes in one package, so strap yourselves in - it's going to be a long entry....
The teams start at the last pit stop - the Chalet Arnika in Grindelwald Switzerland. The Twins start first - the teams must go to the gletscherschlucht - a 260' deep glacier gorge. They have to figure out how to find a key at the bottom of the gorge to open a mercedes to get the next clue. The Twins pair up with Flo & Zach and decide to back to the chalet to rest during the 4 hours they have until the gorge opens. John Vito & Jill get to the lodge at the gorge first and are surprised that they beat everyone. At 9am, all of the teams take off down the gorge. The keys are on a pole next to a river that everyone passes up. Zach realizes they just past them and they go back, grab the keys, run back to the lodge's parking lot and open the car. The clue is on the windshield - drive 36 miles through the swiss countryside (absolutely gorgeous) to the town of Kandersteg, load the cars onto a car train, and train across the alps to a place called the Sports & Adventure Park in Niouc (Val d'anniviers) in the Valais next to this little tiny red bridge over a huge gorge for the next clue. John Vito & Jill - the only team that hasn't used a Fast Forward - decide to go for it. They have to drive themselves to a traditional cheese making cabin in the Swiss countryside. They'll find a large wheel of cheese that has been slices into cubes with toothpicks in the cubes. They'll have to eat as many cubes as it takes to completely uncover the Fast Forward reward hidden underneath. Jill worries that the cheese may smell bad - like feet! John Vito worries that the cheese is too big and that he can't eat it all. The teams reach the car train, and after asking around, they find out the red bridge is bungy jumping. Ian is in a nasty mood and decides to go over to Flo to make sure she knows that the red bridge is bungy jumping (so that she can worry about it!) Back at the farm, John Vito & Jill finally eat the first piece of cheese that uncovers part of the Fast Forward. They eventually eat the cheese and uncover it, and made their way to this leg's Pit Stop - drive 54 miles to Montreux, find a pedal boat and paddle it to the steamship Savoie floating on Lake Geneva, the largest lake in western Europe. The other teams load their cars onto the train. Flo hopped-in The Twins' car to flirt during the ride, leaving Zach alone. (I had no idea that you ride in your car on the car train). The train pulls in, and the teams try to find the bridge. Teri & Ian look like they get lost. The teams find the clue box and find out it's a Detour - "Extreme Swiss" or "Very Swiss". in "Extreme Swiss", the team must go out onto that little red bridge and take the longest bungy jump in Europe - 620 feet, but it's a quick drive to the next destination. In "Very Swiss", teams drive another 8 miles into the Alps to a farm, to search for a key hidden in a traditional Swiss bell around the necks of 75 goats to open a box to get the next clue. The Twins decide to do the bungy jump, everyone else decides to do goats. The goats are definitely harder - it's not like they're going to cooperate when you run after them to see if their bell has a key in it. Ken gets a key first and runs to the boxes. Each team has their own specific box, and when they open it, they find a clue and a cell phone. Zach is next with a key. The clue says to drive to the banks of Lake Geneva and find the route marker at the Château de Chillon and "as you walk to your car use this T-Mobile phone to call your loved ones at home." They must complete the call before getting into the car and driving to their next destination - the longer on the phone, the later they leave. Gerard calls his wife Jennifer - Ken & Gerard's parents are there, too. Zach calls his sister Ariel, and Flo's best friend Lindsey is there. The Twins do their jump, though Drew was a little skittish about it (oh, lot's of bumper stickers for www.bungy.ch around). They get a phone, too, and call Rebecca, Derek's wife (he's a newlywed of just a couple of months) and their mom. Teri & Ian are still going after the goats, and Teri finally gets a key. They call Teri's sister Phyllis and their sons Brandon and Seth. John Vito & Jill get to the peddle boats on Lake Geneva and paddle out to the steamship, and arrive as Team Number 1. They win a 7 night Caribbean vacation on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. ("and you can enjoy that after the race.") Hey, did John Vito & Jill get to make a phone call? Oh Brother (Ken & Gerard) get to the Château de Chillon to find that the clue is a Roadblock. The task is to assemble a Swiss Army bicycle from a pile of parts. There's an identical bike to use as reference. An expert has to inspect it and make sure it's assembled correctly, then teams will ride their bikes to the next destination. The Twins are second at the Roadblock, With Drew assembling. The inspector is strict, making sure things are safe. The teams then ride the two bikes 3 miles to the Bassett Marina, where they pickup the peddle boats to go out to the steamship. Ken & Gerard take off, Flo & Zack just get there with Zach doing the assembly. Teri & Ian finally get there, and Ian assembles (though he seems put out by having to do it). The Twins take off. Ken & Gerard make it to the marina. Flo looks very upset. Oh Brother is hysterical with Phil, chiding him to finally tell them they're Team Number 2. Ian gets his bike completed and he and Teri leave, leaving Zach to build his bike. The Twins make it to the steamboat as team #3. Finally Zach is done, they get the clue, but Zach decides to take time to unzip his pants legs to make them into shorts. Flo is furious as they are now not going to catch Teri & Ian. However, Teri falls off her bike. Teri says the bike is broken, Ian chides her with "oh, Teri", to which she says "I fell off on purpose". Ian fixes it and they continue on. Flo, realizing they are last, doesn't want to exert much energy. She's crying. Teri & Ian are peddling out to the boat, and Flo just wants to walk to the boast since they're losing anyway. She doesn't want to get exhausted and she's humiliated being beat "by two retired people". Teri & Ian make it in as Team Number 4. Flo is mad at Zach for taking his pants off (the title of the show), and they get to the mat. Phil tells them that they are the last team to arrive - "The good news is that this is not an elimination. this is the second of three predetermined non-elimination points and you're still in the race". Apparently, no one is paying attention to the clues to see if they say that the last team is eliminated. So now the teams rest at the Pit Stop until we get to the second part of the episode.
Teams now travel over 50 miles to geneva to the base of the Jet d'Eau the largest fountain in Europe at 450 feet. The clue box is on a stone pathway in the fountain. The clue tell the teams to to go to the Petronas Towers, "in the country of represented by the enclosed flag - which means a 7000 mile flight the tallest buildings in Asia located in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. On the way to the fountain, The Twins remember that it's their birthday! The airport appears closed. Flo & Zach are the only team that knows where the Petronas Towers are - everyone else has to ask anybody standing around. In any case, the airport finally starts to open up - but there's not a lot of flights to Kuala Lumpur. Teri & Ian leave at 7:50am on a Swissair flight that goes Geneva-Zurich-Vienna-Kuala Lumpur. The Twins get 4 seats (including Flo & Zach of course) because they don't want to see Flo cry. So all four of the other teams fly Air France at 9;00am Geneva-Paris-Kuala Lumpur. Teri & Ian are in front of the towers at 7:30am. The clue there is to get a local to take their picture using, yes, a Kodak EasyShare digital camera in front of the buildings. They then have to walk a mile to the Ampang Park Shopping Center to develop their pictures (huh?) at a Kodak Picture Maker kiosk to get their next clue. There's no timestamp so there's no way to tell when the rest of the horde gets to the towers from the airport (via train, BTW). Teri & Ian, though in the lead, can't find the shopping center and get side tracked to a train station. They can't find too many people to help them. Somehow, the stumble into the shopping center and the Quick Photo shop. They read the instructions to get a print from their digital card. When they print the photo , the back of the print has the clue printed on it. They have to take a train 200 miles to the Singapore National Orchid Garden and find Margaret Thatcher (an orchid). John Vito & Jill get to the Quick Photo second, followed by Flo & Zach, and then The Twins. They're all in the store and find out that Teri & Ian are actually ahead of them. Flo can't believe it - the entire group was making fun of Teri & Ian on the train trip from the airport. Teri & Ian get to the train station and get tickets for the 11:15 train. The rest of the teams catch up and they are all on the same train. When they get to Singapore, they find out that the Orchid Gardens doesn't open until 8:39 the next day, so the teams have to crash for the night. Teri & Ian get a recommendation from a European couple. Though Zach wants to stay at the YMCA, Flo doesn't want to stay there. They and The Twins find a hotel to split a single room for the four of them. John Vito & Jill find a boarding house. The next morning everyone hits the gardens. Though they are all waiting outside, no one is talking to one another. The Gardens open, and teams are running everywhere, since the Margaret Thatcher orchid isn't on any maps of the facility. Zach finds the clue box first, only to find out that its a Detour. The choices "Dry" or "Wet". In "Dry", teams choose a car to drive to an apartment complex known as Choa Chu Kang Central to find Block 229 at the housing development and apartment 10-137, where Singapore television's biggest star, Phua Chu Kang, would hand them their next clue. There's a hitch, though: all of the roads in this zone of the city are named Choa Chu Kang (they're looking for Choa Chu Kang Way). Once the teams find the correct building, they'll find out that the elevators don't stop on consecutive floors, and apartment numbers flop around from wing to wing. In "Wet" teams still chose a car but go to the Singapore Zoological Gardens to search for mermaids - which are actually manatees. They'll have to don wetsuits and goggles to swim across the manatee enclosure to get the next clue. Flo & Zach are following Ken & Gerard to the apartment complex. The Twins are going to the zoo, along with Teri & Ian. Oh Brother and Flo & Zach find building 229, take the elevator to the 10th floor, but it stops on 11. The Twins make it to the manatees ahead of Teri & Ian. Back at the apartments, the teams are still trying to figure them out, John Vito & Jill are lost and haven't found the complex yet. The teams stumble onto the apartment (gee - the door is decorated and sort of stands out) they get their clue from the very odd looking gentleman. The clue says to "get one step closer to great wealth by finding a clue at the Fountain of Wealth" - driving to Suntec City in downtown Singapore and find the fountain whose waters - locals believe - bring good luck and fortune. The clues are actually inside the fountain. Meanwhile, The Twins are starting to swim across the manatees while Teri is still struggling to get her wetsuit on. There's a flight over a map as Zach doesn't want to give up a map to Ken so they can get to the fountain together. Flo, of course, won't stand for this, grabs the map, and Flo & Zach follow Oh Brother to the fountain. The Twins get directions as they drip all over the people helping them. Flo & Zach are in a big argument as it's obvious that the team is fracturing. John Vito & Jill finally get to the apartment (they don't show them struggling to find the apartment). The Twins hit the fountain first to grab a clue - a route info: "perhaps this ritual will bring you wealth at the end of the race. Now drive yourselves to the next pit stop on top of Mount Faber" - a peak overlooks the city. Flo & Zach hit the fountain next followed by Oh Brother. John Vito & Jill are having problems with directions. Teri & Ian get to the fountain, followed by John Vito & Jill. The Twins hit the Pit Stop as Team Number 1 - they win a a 7 night cruise in Europe (haven't they seen enough of it?) on Royal Caribbean Splendor of the Seas "which you can enjoy after the race". Ken & Gerard are team 2 and Flo & Zach are team 3. Teri & Ian are team 4, John Vito & Jill are team 5 - the last team and are eliminated from the race.
Next week - Vietnam, rain, and Zach may want to quit.
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But I've never worked retail...
I'm panicking. We're panicking. I went to the local CompUSA to see if they're hiring - they are but the didn't have any applications! I left my resume with a Customer Service person. I have never worked retail in my life. Sales there is base-plus-commission. Yuck. I don't know if I can do this... someone out there please HELP!!!! I don't want to abandon my 20+ year career! Help! At least they were hiring - I stopped by Best Buy and they're not. Help!
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Duplo the bunny
That's it... Indy is nuts. Ever since Thanksgiving, it's like she's in her Terrible Two's. To save out walls, I went to Toys-R-Us and bought a couple of buckets of Duplo blocks and built some small walls to block her off from the real walls. I didn't buy enough buckets, but I think this will work...
My old boss has decided to "pare down" his website starting next month. If any of you out there remember Cartoon Town on Channel 32 in Chicago, go to his website now at DirtyDragon.com to order videotapes because he won't be selling them anymore after the first of the year.
Bill always had a page on his website called Memories where he reminisced about things that have happened with the shows that many people didn't know about. Great stories. A few of them I remember from the days of Gigglesnort Hotel. In his final installment, however, he thanks those that he's worked with... and he took the time to tell the story about replacing a puppeteer that had left...
Finding a replacement proved difficult. Auditions were held at Columbia College, but no one had the experience the show required, nor did they display the heart necessary for the intense training that would be necessary--no one except a determined, diminutive young man with the shortest arms I've ever seen on a puppeteer--arms that appeared far too short to hold a puppet high enough so that the camera didn't catch the puppeteer's head. Michael Lans auditioned with the Dragon, the largest puppet I had at the time, and showed so much energy and desire I decided that if heart could make you a puppeteer, Michael could do it. He proved me right, somehow magically removing his head from his body during shoots. With Nancy as his instructor, Michael trained long and hard and became a superior puppeteer.
I can't help it - I'm all teary-eyed. It was my most favorite time in my life and my childhood and now adult idol remembered and took the time to thank me. I will always be grateful to Bill Jackson for the time and fun and opportunity to work with him. Always.
Me Groggy, Indy Fuzzy
I woke up at 10:00, trying to figure out why I was still sleeping. Ever have one of those? Checked on Indy and she seems no worse for the wear. She's not eating much. She's laying around in her meatloaf pose, so she seems content. She's not asking to come out of her cage, so I'm wondering if she feels OK. It's snowing again outside - lake effect. (It's cool - The flakes are really big and you can see it on my live WeatherCam.) Going to be cold tonight - single digit temperatures.
Monday, December 02, 2002
Indy is driving us nuts. Ever since Thanksgiving, she's been acting different. She's been trying to eat the walls. We've been chasing her around, trying to get her to stop, and we just can't get her to stop, let alone associate our yelling and screaming with her chewing on the walls.
Well, tonight we all got scared. I chased her around still again after catching her chewing. When she got into her bunny condo, that's when I saw it - blood. Blood all over the lambskin we have on her second floor of her condo. Something ripped up her right rear foot. She's not in pain at all. In fact, she's totally oblivious to it. I grabbed her and Carol and I worked on her foot to clean it up and try to stop the bleeding, which we did. She's going to confined to her cage for a while. Damn bunny.
I think the guys at the National Weather Service may want to yank their heads of their Doppler radar screens and look at the window. I'm seeing pieces of blue sky. It sure doesn't look ominous.
COOK IL-LAKE IL-
256 PM CST MON DEC 2 2002
..SNOW ADVISORY CONTINUES THROUGH TONIGHT...
A COLD FRONT PASSED THROUGH THE AREA FROM THE NORTH & PROVIDED A
BROAD AREA OF ONE TO TWO INCHES OF SNOW THIS AFTERNOON. RADAR &
SATELLITE TRENDS CONTINUE TO SHOW LAKE EFFECT SNOW IS SETTING UP FOR
THE OVERNIGHT HOURS. AN ADDITIONAL TWO TO FOUR INCHES CAN BE
EXPECTED WHERE THE LAKE EFFECT SNOW BANDS SET UP. THIS WILL MAKE
DRIVING DIFFICULT IN SOME LOCATIONS DURING THE EVENING & OVERNIGHT
Well, Fox has a new Reality TV show starting on January 6 at 9 p.m called Joe Millionaire. The setup: 20 single women who fly to France in order to win the affection of a handsome American they believe to be worth $50 million. The key word here is believe - You see the guy is actually a construction worker with an annual income of $19,000. Ouch. There are eliminations like The Bachelor, with the last woman finally finding out the big secret - only if she decides to continue the relationship.
COOK IL-DUPAGE IL-LAKE IL-WILL IL-
945 AM CST MON DEC 2 2002
..SNOW ADVISORY THROUGH TONIGHT...
SNOWFALL OF 3 TO 7 INCHES IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE AREA BY TUES
MORNING WITH LOCALIZED HIGHER AMOUNTS NEAR LAKE MICHIGAN. 2 TO 4
INCHES IS EXPECTED BY THIS EVENING, WITH AN ADDITIONAL 1 TO 3 INCHES
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Chariot Race 2002
Imagine recreating Chariot Racing from 500 B.C. in 2002. TLC is running a short documentary series Chariot Race 2002 where they actually do this - setting up a Circus, building chariots and training drivers and horses. Way cool.
We just got back from our second Thanksgiving dinner - this time at our friends Chelby & Damian. Chelby's parents are in Mexico a this time of year - until May, so she's without family and needs to extend a tradition to her important second family, which we are blessed to be part of. It was a nice dinner again (Carol made the stuffing, which seems to be in high demand - Me, well, I'm official turkey carver!) We tried watching the Bears-Packers game on TV, but it was just too painful.