This collection of entries is from November 2006.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
So, I'm chilln' my soft drinks at my desk at work, while I'm chillin' waiting for the chilly air to take over Chicago... and the snow. Yes, the Winter Storm Warning is up, and we're going to get dumped. It's been in the 50's for over a week now, and overnight the temperature plummeted into the 30's. The huge snowstorm is just around the corner If you believe the TV weather critters, we could get over a foot of snow in the next 24 hours.
Almost 60 degrees to one foot of snow in 36 hours. Welcome to weather in Chicago.
Now, as to my drink chillin'... I bought the CoolIT USB Beverage Cooler from ThinkGeek. Yes, USB Powered. it plugs into a USB port and chills the plate almost immediately down to 45 degrees. I want to keep my drinks cold at my desk... and I want to see if this works.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Carol got discharged late this afternoon. She drove herself home, since her truck was still in valet parking for the doctor visit on Monday. She's got 2 meds to take, one (Lisinopril) is the exact same dosage that I take for my blood pressure. The second one (clonodine) is only to be taken when her BP is high. So, we had to get a blood pressure monitor. We bought a wrist cuff. it's easy to use and very convenient. She can return to work Monday, so she'll take it easy for the rest of the week.
It was so nice having the bed to myself for two nights... I'll miss that ... but, she's out of the hospital and home.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Nope... not yet...
We thought Carol would be home today.
Nope... not yet... her BP went up overnight, so they tried all day to get it back down. By the time I left tonight, it had gone back up to 190/110. She's been having blood draws and there's nothing else wrong right now. The doctor said that sometimes there's no clinical reason to cause it... sometimes it just happens. So, now they have to see if they could just get it down and controlled with medication.
Carol's bored, watching TV being the only entertainment. And no guests, just me, and I'm only there in the evenings.
She'll be ok... I know it...
Monday, November 27, 2006
Carol scheduled a doctor's appointment today. She's been complaining about headaches, and she feels that her blood pressure is up. When she was at the gynecologist recently, her BP was up though she claimed it was because that she wasn't sleeping (hormone issues from menopause) and if she could sleep, she'd be better. Actually, she said if she could sleep for 5 straight nights, she would see her doctor about her BP. Well, she got a new med (Ambien CR) and now she sleeps great. So, she made the doctor's appointment.
Well, he takes her BP, and it's 240/150. They threw her in a wheelchair and rolled her next door to St. Alexius Medical Center.
So, she was admitted, and she's up in a room on the cardiac floor, as they struggle to get her BP down. By the time I left her tonight, it was down to about 140/100... so, we'll see what happens.
She's in good spirits, because high blood pressure is one of those things that don't effect how you feel, very much.(One of the reasons that it's so deadly... and i know, since I have high blood pressure and I'm taking medication for it).
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Shamed into lights
It's taken 22 years, but we finally got forced into it.
Carol is hosting the annual Christmas Club event this Friday. We had put up the 9 foot Christmas tree that we bought (looks really good), but the outside of the house looks so un-Christmas-y. And all of the houses around us just seem to have more and more lights. We've never had outside lights in the 22 years we've lived here. Never. But, now we are feeling shamed into doing something, both to meet the pressure of the neighbors and have something to welcome the club girls.
We decide the best and quickest thing would be to get net lights to put over the bushes. So, I had to go out shopping, and went to Walgreens to get some extension cords and a timer for outside, Lowe's didn't have any net lights (they sold-out yesterday), so I went to Home Depot. Twice. the second time to buy them out of the net lights, since they don't cover as much as we had thought.
So, we have multi-colored lights on the bushes, lit dusk-to-dawn. It's not bright (we wanted white lights, but there weren't any available), but it's colorful and at least it's something.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Long Lost Friend
It really is strange when the planets align...
Tonight, Carol didn't plan on anything to cook (still recovering from preparing thanksgiving), so we were trying to figure out what to do. On a lark, Carol decides on pizza from Giordano's. We haven't been there in years, and we could use a nice deep dish.
So, Carol called-in the order, and I went to pick it up. I walked up to the corner, not paying attention to the lady that was standing to the side. The girl behind the counter asked what she could help me with, I say I'm there for a pickup, and give my name. The lady next to me, who had her back to me, whips around.
It's our friend Teri, who we haven't seen in a year or two. She happens to be in the same place, picking up a pizza order to bring home!
We talked for 5, 10, maybe 15 minutes... trying to catch up with each other. While we were talking, her son Joey came out of the bathroom. He's taller than her now.
Damn I miss them...
I had this great idea for a wall in our family room... I've been cooking this up for a while... We went out an bought some picture frames from Ikea.
30 of them.
I am going to arrange them on one wall and show off some of the pictures I have taken. I am going to go through my library and produce some 5x7 prints of a whole bunch of stuff.
The frames are square (9x9) and the mattes inside are cut for 5x5 prints. I wanted to do something different, but with the same frame. My idea was to get new 9x9 mattes with 5x7 cutouts, and I can rotate the image to portrait or landscape, and the frame is still square, so all of the frames on the wall wouldn't have to rotate - everything stays the same, just the image inside rotates.. makes it easy to plan the wall. Also, the frames are deep (over an inch) and you can mount the mattes either forward (up against the glass) or back (to the rear of the frame, creating depth) which also adds to the variety on the wall, and yet keeping the same 9x9 square form.
Anyway... I needed 30 mattes to be cut. 9x9 with a 5x7 cutout. I sent to a Michael's to get the mattes.
The kid behind the counter had absolutely no clue what I was asking for... the whole concept that I was asking for a matte that wasn't one off the shelf was daunting... and then asking for a square matte with a non-square cut-out... I can't tell you how many times I had to explain it, even when I had one of the 5x5 mattes from the frames. He couldn't get it.
Thank God there was a guy who was actually working on cutting mattes at the time that could help out.
I ordered 6 extra with a 4x6 cutout. just in case I get a picture from someone in that size.
How long is it going to take to cut 36 mattes? They're going to be ready FRIDAY DECEMBER 8. Why would it take that long????
Friday, November 24, 2006
So, I had this great idea yesterday. I wore my binaural mic's and recorded some segments for my podcast, complete with sounds of the turkey sizzling on the grill, the wood being started in the charcoal chimney, crackling and popping. This would be so cool.. you could almost smell the smoke...
Well, you could if it recorded.
The 9-volt battery in the mic preamp was dead, and like an idiot, I didn't check any of the recordings.
I need sound for a podcast, and I screwed-up the only chance I have all year. Now, i needed something else to fill-in.
It's Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving. The day that everyone is going out shopping for the Christmas sales. I never leave the house on this day. The traffic from all the shoppers is bad.
But, I needed some audio. So, I ventured out. To Woodfield - home to nearly 300 stores and restaurants, including dozens that cant be found anywhere else in the Midwest, Woodfield is the Chicago area's largest shopping center and the number one tourist attraction in the state of Illinois.
On Black Friday.
It was bad, really bad. Somehow, though, I tolerated it, accepted it, recorded an open and close and ambient sounds of shoppers, took a few pictures, had lunch and left. I guess I was just in a good frame of mind and I could totally have done this (as a shopper).
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wicked Good Thanksgiving
Ah, yes... the time of year to give thanks with family and freinds...
It's also a big stressful day for me. I cook the turkey every year. Actually barbecue it on my Weber. This year, added stress: no more regular Kingsford CharcoalNo... I've decided to go with wood - Wicked Good "Weekend Warrior Blend" Hardwood Lump Charcoal. I just loved this whole idea of using wood charcoal instead of charcoal briquettes.
I heard that the wood burns faster and hotter, so I started the wood later than I have in the past - I started the first chimney at 1pm. The chimney lights fine (but I used 4 sheets of newspaper just in case), and seems to be completely involved a little faster, by maybe 5 or 10 minutes. and it's HOT... not just hot, but HOT. I threw the first chimney on the grill, started a second, added chunks to the first batch. The second chimney is done at the one hour mark from the start of the first, and both chimneys full of charcoal are in the grill, soaked hickory chips thrown over the top, and the turkey (18.3 lbs), in a rack, breast-down, on the grill at 2:05.
Pouring the chimneys into the grill was interesting. First, let me say that this is the best weather we've had on Thanksgiving in years.. and possibly ever... it's about 60 degrees. I don't need a jacket, and I had a fleece sweater on. Had. The charcoal was so hot, that when I poured a chimney into the grill and the heat so intense, my sweater started to smell as if it was starting to liquefy and melt. I really didn't need the sweater anyway.
2 hours and 10 minutes later, the turkey was off the grill and resting under an aluminum tent at Turkey Carving Central. Done.
Did the new charcoal work? Hell, yeah! Was the juiciest bird we had ever had... the meat was still moist putting the leftovers away after dinner.
As I write this, the charcoal is still burning in the grill. All the vents are closed, it should kill the fire. No. That's how hot the fire was.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Back in September, Carol and I along with our BBFs B&B, went to Las Vegas for a nice short vacation. We hadn't been to Las Vegas together in quite a few years.
While we were there, we took in a show at The Mirage called "Love" (I talked about it in Show #16 of my podcast). It's the only Cirque du Soliel show that moved me to tears. And I wasn't the only one from our group. To hear the original master recordings of The Beatles, remixed, blessed by the surviving members and spouses of the departed, and presented as a Cirque show was just so friggin' moving... shocked.. SHOCKED!!! the hell out of me.
THIS is the show to see in Las Vegas.
But the music.. THE MUSIC... all familiar, all known, all original recordings... but.. you're hearing them for the first time.. remastered... remixed...
I ordered the CD (and Audio DVD) from Amazon. It was released to the public yesterday, and sure enough the Amazon box was waiting at my door when I got home. I brought it to work with me today. I popped it into my laptop, jammed my earbuds in, and started to listen...
I just finished my first pass at the soundtrack, and I'm restarting it to listen to all over again.
It's like listening to the stage show... flowing song to song, no breaks.. standing on its own as a remarkable piece of history, as if the songs are all new again.
Like the Beatles? GET THIS ALBUM.
THEY DID IT!!!!!
I just got off a call from the hard drive recovery company that I talked about last week.
THEY RECOVERED MY HARD DRIVE
We walked through some of the directories to make sure that the information was indeed there... and it was!
The photos.. the documents.. the tax info...
The data is being copied-off to a MyBook external hard drive. I should have it Friday or Monday.
They hold onto the failed hard drive (or "troubled" hard drive, as it was called) for 10 days, after which it goes into a destruction program. I have about 48 hours for the copied data to still be spinning on their servers if there's an issue. After that, they have to go back after the original drive. They also are supplying a stack of DVDs that they're going to pull off selected data onto (just in case the drive has issues during shipping), so they're going to grab as much of the photos as they can.
You know how happy I am? I am dancing in my cubicle!!!! Thank God there is hardly anybody in the office today...
Yeah... sweet drive to work.. clear skies.. bright sun... and nobody on the roads. Yesss... sweet commute... everybody must have taken the day off to get a jump on holiday travel, getting to where they need to be before tomorrow...
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Buildin' the grill...
Rearranged the garage... and just got done assembling my brand new Weber grill, in prep for Thursday. Yeah, after 20+ years, it was time to retire the old one... it was pretty bad looking... what surprised me is that the whole assembly was done without a tool... well, except a hammer to hammer-on the end caps on the axles to hold the wheels on. All bright shiny new. Love the new addition - a removable ash bucket underneath... oh, and the grill itself has little doors built in so you could add charcoal after the fire's been lit.
I'm still SO worried about this year's turkey. Did I talk about this? Instead of using regular Kingsford Charcoal, I'm going to try Wicked Good "Weekend Warrior Blend" Hardwood Lump Charcoal. Yes, wood.
So, after 20+ years of barbecuing a turkey, I had it all down - how much charcoal to use, how long it would take to cook, how to monitor the bird, how the hickory chips should be prepped, when to add them, and how many... I'm switching to a new fuel that burns quicker and hotter...
and now I have to use all my many years of skill to adjust.. and save the Thanksgiving Turkey,,,
Sunday, November 19, 2006
We drove up to Wisconsin and spent the day at our friend Chelby & Damian's house, to celebrate Thanksgiving a little early. We've had the pleasure of being included in Chelby's Extended Family Thanksgiving celebrations for a quite a few years now. We went up slightly early, because Carol was asked to do her wonderful stuffing, and since Carol was looking for someone to shorten some kitchen drapes that she had bought, she made a deal with Chelby - shorten the drapes in exchange for teaching how to make the stuffing. Done.
It had occurred to me when we got up there, that they didn't know about me being diagnosed with Type II Daiabetes... which I sort of forgot about... The only soda they had was either the real stuff, that I shouldn't have, or... what I would consider "odd" flavors. White grape? Tangerine? I had a Diet Coke that was found in the back of the fridge. I had never had a Diet Coke in a can... it had absolutely no flavor.. .and tasted like I was drinking Alka Seltzer. I am SO happy that I've avoided Diet Coke so far, if that's what it tastes like... in a can, at least.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Wolves 5 - Griffins 3
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American Hockey League season-high 13,718 people at the game tonight.
First, the team: being away from home for a few weeks has really helped the team. We've had only 1 loss on the road, and they brought that discipline home. They played very well tonight... they're a lot faster than prior years, and they seem to setup plays a bit better... though goalie Michael Garnett needs to be chained to the net to stop him from roaming so much.
Now, let's talk about the 13,718 idiots at the game...
WAIT FOR THE WHISTLE!!!
All of the damn group sales people, sitting in the middle of our section, who just don't understand that YOU DO NOT STAND UP AND MOVE THROUGH YOUR ROW TO LEAVE TO GO... SOMEWHERE... WHILE PLAY IS GOING ON.
A steady, continuous stream of kids, parents, parents and kids, and 20-somethings needing beer developed thoughout the game... disturbing us... the people behind us... the people behind them... ad infinitum...
I am thoroughly surprised that we saw any of the game, let alone seeing the goals... oh, and that last series of fights all going at the same time (i have never seen a player give up during a fight)
(Game Summary - Gamesheet)
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Friday, November 17, 2006
I just got an email from the hard disk recovery company that opens:
"This message is to inform you that we have received your troubled hard disk..."
I guess that's one way of putting it for a crashed hard disk whose platters may just be dust...
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The slimmest of hope... at a price
I spent the morning searching the internet for hard drive recovery companies. None of these places has any online means of generating a price quote, but everything I'm seeing shows well over a thousand dollars to recover a drive.
My lack of backup has now officially begun to cost me. Real dollars.
I found a company in Madison, Wisconsin that wouldn't charge me for an attempt to recover, only if they recover data.
I called an talked to a tech... and found out that, because of the clicking noise, my 250Gb Maxtor MaxLine Plus II hard drive was 30%-40% likely to have had it's platters turned to dust and not have anything recoverable, based on the hundreds of that drive model that they have seen recently.
That left 60%-70% likely that SOMETHING could be recovered. It was worth a shot, so my hard drive is now on it's way to Madison Wisconsin, hoping beyond hope that SOMETHING can be pulled off...
... I feel like I lost part of my life when that drive went down... all of those photos, those memories...
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
It's gone... all gone...
I've been working on a project at home, to put up a series of picture frames in our family room that would hold selected images from the extensive digital photo images that I've shot over the years...
When my old computer died, and I got a new one, I transfered the old hard drives to external USB enclosures. this also upset the database I use to catalog the photos. So, I had to go in and tell the software that the image that used to be here on this disk, is now over on this disk and this directory structure. I had been tagging my images so that if I wanted to see something an image of a place or a person, I could just call it up.
I had been working on the database fixes all week. I got them all done.
I had just started to select the photos. I knew of a a few that I needed to include on the wall I was going to select more than the number of frames I was mounting, just so I can see what they look like printed.
I cam home tonight after work, went on my machine to do more photo selection. I thought I had smelled an odd odor in my den. It wasn't strong, but it smelled like ozone.
My machine was locked-up. Frozen. I cold-booted the machine, and logged back in.
And that's when I heard it... a clicking noise.
My one big, critical drive from the old machine is clicking, and not mounting.
It's dead. I lost it.
All 34,000 photos I've taken.
I've lost it. I've lost it all. All my photos, documents, spreadsheet, tax information...
Depression sets in...
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Fall to me has two parts.
The first is the wonderful colors of the trees and bushes as the weather changes early in the season. So bright, so invigorating with the first few chills in the air.
The second, is the bleak, gray cold days. The leaves are all gone, the trees are bare, the winds are cold and there's no sign of sun for days.
We went from almost 70 degrees on Thursday to the 30's on Friday. Wind. Rain.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Every year, I'm in charge of barbecuing the thanksgiving Turkey... I've only had one bad one in about 20 years... so, when I see things about turkey preparation, I have to read it.
This is over the top: Season Shot. For hunters.
For those guys that go out and shoot their Thanksgiving Turkey.
See, why bother trying to get all the metal shot out of the bird, when you can have shotgun shells made with "tightly packed seasoning bound by a fully biodegradable food product" ??? "The Season Shot pellets will melt in the oven seasoning the entire bird."
And they have plans for new flavors: Cajun, Lemon Pepper, Garlic, Teriyaki, and Honey Mustard.
I've got a feeling that it's not really available.. yet.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
You know... just like Jack on "Lost"...
I had to take off of work this afternoon. I had an appointment with a neurosurgeon downtown at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
What a gorgeous day, for November.. 68 degrees.. the drive downtown wasn't so bad, though not totally free and clear. It's maneuvering downtown that's a bitch. I had t go to the 675 N. St. Clair which is just east of Michigan Avanue... tight streets, lots of traffic, lots of peds. Thank Dog I had left early to compensate for the possibility of travel issues.
My buddy Barry knows Northwestern Hospital pretty well, but this is my first time. It's a sprawling campus in the middle of town. I had to go to the 20th floor of one of the pavilions and I was SOOOoooo impressed with the facility.. the people... The doctor is a spinal surgeon, so this is right up his alley...
So... again, another doctor that doesn't understand what's going on (MRI's do not show what the symptoms would indicate), but I'm at the right place... a teaching/research hospital. We've got another test on the books that would help the diagnosis... so I'll need to coordinate it with my neurologist and the new "Team"/doctor.
Thank God I had stopped at the oasis on the way into the city to buy snacks and drinks for the drive home... I left at the beginning of Rush Hour and it took me about 90 minutes to get home. So i listed to some Podcasts on my iPod on the drive.. and the time passed pretty easily.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
You have to wonder...
Here it is.. just a day or so after the elections... the Democrats have taken over the House and Senate... and the republican-led administration, with so many ties to "big oil", had taken a "thumpin'" (as George W. said)...
..and gas prices go up???
The whole world falls apart, with nuclear threats, continued unrest in the middle east.. .and gas prices fall... but... give checks-and-balances against big oil supporters and the prices go up???
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I never thought today would come...
I JUST WANT IT ALL TO END...
It's Election Day in the United States.
Campaign Advertising has just gone downhill over the years... I can't tell you what the hell any candidate stands for because it feels like all I hear & see is what is wrong with the other candidate... attack, attack, attack... and it's not just radio ads... or TV ads... our mailbox has been stuffed with material for the last week or so... and what about the damn pre-recorded telemarketing??? (I have to admit, Carol was ecstatic that Bill Clinton called and left a message... just for her...)
I strongly believe that there should be some kind of legislation passed to limit the length of time that candidates can run ads... like maybe 4-6 weeks, and that's it...
Update: I went to vote.. what a mess and it was because of our poling place, a grammar school a few blocks away. First.. the kids have the day off (and that's a great idea... you just don't want adults roaming the halls of a grade school). For some reason, they setup the voting stations in a back hallway of the school, which made it almost impossible to move around, between the voting stations, tables, judges, voters...
It was a choice of a paper ballot (connecting two halves of an arrow with a special pen, with the whole ballot being scanned when you're done) or electronic (touchscreen). Issues? They're were down to just 4 pens to mark the ballots if you used paper, causing long lines), and down to 5 smartcards for the touchscreens (again, causing lines).
I chose to use the touchscreen.. I had to - I'm a geek and wanted to experience this. I loved it... it's a very easy experience, easy to read and follow. The slowest part?... OH! BEFORE I FORGET!!! THERE HAS GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY TO HANDLE THE ELECTION AND RETENTION OF JUDGES! How many were there? It went on for pages and pages and pages on the touchscreen... anyway... The slowest part? Verifying your votes. When you use paper, well... by default, you are verifying what you're doing. On a touchscreen, it'll show you all of your votes, and if you under/over voted for anything highlighted in red. Your votes are stored on the smartcard that you use to activate the machine. But, as a backup and a physical record, there's a paper tape that is printed, and you must review it as it's printed after you have verified your on-screen vote. When you're done, the smartcard is ejected from the machine. You bring the card to a judge, who copies the data, erases the card, and hands it to the next person waiting in line. I enjoyed using the machine.. now I wish they had more cards/machines/pens.. and why the hell weren't we in the gum like the last time???
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Boy, the team looked BAD... and they had to lose against.. the Dolphins???
So much for 16-0...
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Picking a fake tree
We've had an atritificial Christmas tree for for all of our married life. On top of that, there are years where we don't even put up the tree. I know, a lot of you won't understand that, but since there's just the two of us, we don't need a tree to celebtrate the holiday. We usually don't have anybody over during the holidays, so theres no tree, no lights... just a wreath on the front door (and we're pretty sure that the rabbits don't miss a tree either).
But, the last few times when we've had to put the tree up, it's been a chore, and after 20 years... it's seen better days.
So, since we're putting up a tree this year, we decided to get a new one. We've seen ads for this online store, that has a warehouse in Barrington, that's open to the public only on weekends, so we took a drive to Tree Classics
The place was packed... the company took a cornetr of their warehouse and setup one of each style of tree, some of them at the different heights offered, and you can just wander through the "forest" and check out what you like. If you find something, you flag down a worker with a clipboard, who fills out a form, and you got to a cubicle to pay. Then you go to the dock doors and guys wil help you take your tree to your vehicle.
We chose a realtive thin (or at least on the thin side) tree that was 9 feet tall that would look great in house, not thinking about how big the box was. Thank god we had Carol's Grand Vitara... we had to put the passenger front seat down to get the box to fit. Thank God the rear seats are split, because I was able to sit back there. And then, we didn't think about how heavy the box was. Carol crushed her thumbnail as we tried to get the box out of the truck.
So.. it's in the garage... have no idea where we're going to store this thing... it's so much biger and heavier than we thought it could be.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
*nose wiggle* *nose wiggle*
It's the Frost on the Pumpkin reminder to say "Rabbit, Rabbit!" as your first words of the day to have good luck! (or, if you blew it, before you go to sleep tonight, you can still try to get some luck, your last words have to be "Tibbar! Tibbar!")...
And for other derivatives to this meme, check out the alternatives: "White Rabbit" or Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!.