This collection of entries is from the Category "Mundane".
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The roller coaster
I'm getting tired of this... I'm just not sure of what yet...
At one time late yesterday, I had heard a forecast that said the upper end of the snowfall could be as much as 13 inches.
This morning... MAYBE it was 3"-5".. and the alerts were all cancelled... and the storm was over.
So... am I more tired and fed up about:
The snow storms piling-up the snow in big batches...
The roller coaster temperatures that never seem to get warm enough but sure seem to plummet at the drop of a hat...
The weathercritters who just can't get it right... they can predict the temperatures pretty well... but snowfall? When? Were? How much? NO WAY...
Monday, February 25, 2008
Oh, here we go AGAIN...
Still another storm rollls in later today with possibilities of up to 9 inches of snow...
I am SO over this...
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URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO IL
345 AM CST MON FEB 25 2008
...A WINTER STORM WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR NORTHERN ILLINOIS AND NORTHWEST INDIANA...
.LOW PRESSURE DEVELOPING OVER NORTHEAST COLORADO THIS MORNING WILL INTENSIFY AS IT MOVES TOWARD THE MID MISSISSIPPI VALLEY TODAY...THEN MOVES ACROSS SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AND INDIANA TONIGHT. GULF MOISTURE BEING PULLED INTO THIS SYSTEM WILL CAUSE RAIN TO DEVELOP AND SPREAD ACROSS NORTHERN ILLINOIS AND NORTHWEST INDIANA AROUND MIDDAY. RAIN IS EXPECTED TO QUICKLY CHANGE TO SNOW ACROSS FAR NORTHERN ILLINOIS...WITH THIS CHANGE OVER SPREADING SOUTH AND EAST ACROSS THE REMAINDER OF THE REGION DURING THE AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING HOURS. SNOW ACCUMULATIONS IN EXCESS OF 6 INCHES CAN BE EXPECTED ACROSS MOST OF THE AREA...WITH HEAVIEST TOTALS ACROSS FAR NORTHERN ILLINOIS WHERE THE RAIN TO SNOW CHANGE WILL TAKE PLACE EARLIEST. AS THE STORM CONTINUES TO INTENSIFY TONIGHT...WINDS WILL INCREASE FROM THE NORTHEAST WITH GUSTS OF 30 TO 40 MPH RESULTING IN CONSIDERABLE BLOWING SNOW AS TEMPERATURES DROP AND THE SNOW BECOMES MORE POWDERY. THE SNOW WILL GRADUALLY TAPER TO FLURRIES BY TUESDAY AFTERNOON...THOUGH SOME LAKE EFFECT SNOW SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE TO AFFECT PORTIONS OF NORTHWEST INDIANA INTO TUESDAY NIGHT.
WINNEBAGO-BOONE-MCHENRY-LAKE ILLINOIS-OGLE-LEE-DE KALB-KANE-INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...ROCKFORD... WOODSTOCK... WAUKEGAN... OREGON... DIXON... DEKALB... AURORA
345 AM CST MON FEB 25 2008
...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 12 PM CST TUESDAY...
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHICAGO HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 12 PM CST TUESDAY. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.
MIXED PRECIPITATION IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP EARLY THIS AFTERNOON...THEN QUICKLY CHANGE TO SNOW. SNOW...HEAVY AT TIMES WILL THEN CONTINUE WELL INTO TONIGHT...WITH TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 TO 9 INCHES BY TUESDAY MORNING. THE SNOW IS EXPECTED TO DIMINISH TO FLURRIES BY MORNING...HOWEVER...STRONG NORTH TO NORTHWEST WINDS GUSTING TO 35 MPH WILL CONTINUE TO CAUSE CONSIDERABLE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW.
A WINTER STORM WARNING MEANS SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. THIS...COMBINED WITH BLOWING SNOW WILL MAKE TRAVEL VERY HAZARDOUS.
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Sunday, February 24, 2008
Another trip into the city for the annual Academy Awards party at B&B's.
I just didn't like the evening... wait... that came out wrong... I loved being with our friends and having a good time...
It's just the Red Carpet.. and the Awards... meh
No stellar dresses... STUPID people doing the coverage of the Red Carpet....and with SO many "dark" movies nominated, it was just kind of depressing, and since we don't see those kind of movies, we had no vested interest with anything in the show.
On top of that, no contest this year at the party because "because Michael always wins!!"
Well... not ALWAYS...
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Performance by an actor in a leading role
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
Best animated feature film of the year
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) Brad Bird
Achievement in art direction
“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti
Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
Achievement in cinematography
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Robert Elswit
Achievement in costume design
“Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
Achievement in directing
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Best documentary feature
“Taxi to the Dark Side” (THINKFilm)
An X-Ray Production
Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
Best documentary short subject
A Lieutenant Films Production
Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
Achievement in film editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal) Christopher Rouse
Best foreign language film of the year
“The Counterfeiters” An Aichholzer Filmproduktion, Magnolia Filmproduktion Production
Achievement in makeup
“La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
“Atonement” (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Falling Slowly” from “Once”
Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Best motion picture of the year
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
Best animated short film
“Peter & the Wolf” (BreakThru Films)
A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production
Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman
Best live action short film
“Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)” (Premium Films)
A Karé Production
Achievement in sound editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal)
Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
Achievement in sound mixing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal)
Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
Achievement in visual effects
“The Golden Compass” (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Diablo Cody
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Saturday, February 23, 2008
This is so cool. I don't know if a national chain of movie theaters has ever done this before....
Today, starting at 11am, select AMC theaters will start a marathon of movies nominated for Best Picture at tomorrow's Academy Awards.
Michael Clayton 11:00 a.m.
There Will Be Blood 1:20 p.m.
Atonement 4:20 p.m.
Juno 7:00 p.m.
No Country for Old Men 9:00 p.m.
For $30, you get a free large popcorn with unlimited refills all day. Oh, and there's this "collectible pass" for the event.
I think this would be SO COOL... but... if I have problems sitting through one movie, how am I going to sit for 5 movies over 12 hours?
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
OK... sunset.. creating long shadows over my front lawn...
Does NOT make the situation more... ummm... "palatable"
Changes in the city
As my memory seems to have been going haywire over the past months, it's nice to find things that jog the memory.
I was reading this post I wrote back toward the end of 2005 that referenced a list (and VOLUMINOUS comments) at Eric Zorn's blog at the Tribune of stores, shops, buildings, institutions that have left the Chicago landscape. (I think this was in reaction to MARSHAL FIELD'S leaving the landscape, a move that I STILL think is WRONG... but... I digress...)
I was SHOCKED to find out that people are STILL commenting on that blog entry for things that they remember that are no longer around...
But what a GREAT way to reminisce about ... "the old days"...
... and, are you old if you talk about "the old days"?
Monday, February 18, 2008
The sun is out.... I open the drapes on our patio door...
and there it is...
They've laid waste to the backyard too...
My blood is boiling...
Sunday, February 17, 2008
OK... I'm am SO NOT HAPPY... and I'm not sure how to go about talking about this, but let me summarize:
Neighbor. 2 Golden Retrievers. Neighbor lets the dogs out, while he either stays inside the house or stands in the garage and smokes.
Dogs do not stay on his property - they go to the neighboring properties...
... and proceed to... ummm... dump... their waste.
Neighbor calls dogs back inside...
DOES NOT CLEANUP AFTER THE DOGS. EVER.
So, during the snowfall season... they've been crapping on my lawn... and now that the snow has melted a bit... I can see them... everywhere...
We've had this issue for years now. During the summer, our lawn mowing service would come weekly to mow... and ... well... that would.. umm... dissipate the issue...
We've had TruGreen ChemLawn come out to fertilize and treat the lawn and leave us messages that we should clean-up after our dog.
Do you have any idea how ANGRY I am right now?
Friday, February 15, 2008
OK... saw this today... and it just FEELS like it's something out of The Onion... but... could it be true?
Somebody is floating the idea of a reality show that can actually produce - as a winner - an Olympian.
So... what kind of sport would work for that? How about... curling!
Now, it has turned into a American Idol reality thing with five male and five female slots to produce the entries to the Olympic tryouts.
The cool thing, that was unfortunately false, is that at one time they were talking about "closet curlers" that are rockstars would be involved - specifically John Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. How cool would that have been? How cool would it have been for those guys to expose more people to the sport?
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The color of roses
You know... Valentine's day.. make me think of roses... and just how damn confusing they are when you try to buy flowers for someone and have to be worried about the damn color of the rose so that the gift doesn't get misconstrued... and not only color, but how many as well. It's not like everybody agrees on all the colors, too. It's insane.
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According to the "language of flowers", certain rose colors carry specific symbolic meanings.
Red: love, used to say "I love you," but also stands for courage and respect.
Red & White Together or White Roses with Red Edges signify unity and togetherness.
Pink: symbolizes grace, sophistication and elegance. Also symbolizes gentle feelings of love and friendship.
Dark Pink: Gratefulness and appreciation.
Light Pink: Admiration, sympathy
White: Innocence, purity, secrecy, friendship, reverence and humility.
Yellow: Often akin to joy and deep friendship or platonic love. In German speaking countries, however, they can mean jealousy and infidelity.
Yellow with red tips: Friendship, falling in love
Orange or Coral symbolizes enthusiasm and desire
Black: used to signify death (black being the color of death) often of old habits. In a positive light it signifies rebirth after death. Also, slavish devotion (as a true black rose is impossible to produce).
Purple: protection (paternal/maternal love)
The rose also has various supernatural and literary attributes.
Pale Colors:convey warmth and friendship.
A Dozen Roses: stand for "there are dozens of ways I care about you."
Two Dozen Roses: stands for the 24 hours in a day and tells that "you think about them every hour".
Three Dozen Roses: signify a romantic attachment unlike any other.
Four Dozen Roses: mean unchanging and unconditional love.
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Shot through the heart
It's Valentine's Day... meh.
But I thought it was interesting to hear about what I would think would be another "shot through the heart" that is being planned, though not from cupid... or Bon Jovi for that matter.
There's this Spy Satellite (identified only as USA 193) that was launched on December 14th, 2006 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a Delta II rocket. Shortly after reaching obit, ground controllers lost the ability to control the satellite, and have never regained it.
So, this thing is in this decaying orbit. Since there was never any contact, 1,000 pounds of the maneuvering fuel (hydrazine) is still onboard. So, the United States is concerned that this huge thing is not going to burn-up completely when it finally dives into the atmosphere. The hydrazine is deadly, so the United States is going to shoot down the satellite first. With an anti-ballistic missile. To make sure the tank gets ruptured and the hydrazine gets dissipated.
Let's look at a few things. this satellite is about 5,000 pounds. The government is worried about the debris. Larger things have re-entered with little damage, like Mir (clocking in at about 274,000 lbs). Even Skylab, that had major pieces survive didn't do that much damage (about 169,000 pounds).
I'd like to believe the government is worried about the hydrazine, but... come on... truthfully... don't you think it's because they're worried key technology components may survive reentry and be recovered by other unnamed countries? I mean... hello!... Spy satellite!
Still... kinda cool if they could actually hit the thing.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
This is getting tiresome
I knew there was more snow this season...
Snowfall this season up through today: 45.2 inches
Snow up to this date last year? 13.5 inches.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
This is ridiculous...
-6°F (about -21.11°C)... -30°F wind chill (that's about -34.44°C for you international types)
It's becoming obvious to me that I've accepted the past mild winters as normal, because this winter is just weighing hard on me...
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Early shutdown.. and a struggle...
The snowstorm is actually here... heard a rumor that the building actually shutdown around noon. I looked out the window and saw the frontloader moving snow piles around and the parking lot was empty. My office is more of a branch office - nobody is really here to say go home.. and since my manager is actually located across the country, I had to contact her to let her know about the local weather. Needless to say, I left a few hours early.
The trip home was terrible, but actually moved better than I had anticipated, but it was still a struggle to get there.
Perhaps this will be the biggest one of the season... maybe...
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Super Fat Pączki Tuesday
Who's bright idea was it to schedule Super Tuesday on the same day as Mardi Gras?
I mean... there's too much scheduled today... it's Fat Tuesday... which really is Mardi Gras... which is the last day of Carnival... (that started on Twelfth Night, which is the 12th day after Christmas, January 6, or as the dictionary says "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking"... which also marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows (also known as All Saints) Eve — now more commonly known as Halloween)... but it's also Shrove Tuesday... but that's also Pancake Day? ... and then, in Chicago, it's Pączki Day... but that's only for Chicago, Detroit, Hamtramck, Milwaukee, and South Bend... because it's really supposed to be on Tłusty Czwartek or Fat Thursday which would have been last Thursday... which is also Fettdonnerstag, or Schmutziger Donnerstag in Germany... or Giovedì Grasso in Italy... and all of this is because of Ash Wednesday tomorrow...
THERE IS JUST TOO MUCH HAPPENING WITH TODAY...
... and I'm supposed to go out and vote today?
But... it's only a Primary election... and I don't exercise my right to vote on those days... because it requires me to officially declare a party and I refuse to do that. I always rather vote for a candidate that I believe in regardless of the party affiliation.
I'm just looking forward to the end of all the damn political advertising... at least until we do this all again later this year - for "real".
Monday, February 04, 2008
Wow... the fog rolled in today.. and it's sticking around... and it's not our usual fog - this one is thick. Tonight the visibility went down to one-tenth of a mile.
I love fog. I love walking in it. And, if the traffic is light, I love driving in it. I loved driving home after work tonight.
It was thick, but it didn't feel dangerous... and it felt great.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Went to my sister's house to have an impromptu Super Bowl viewing party. What was REALLY great was that B&B were also invited, and picked-up (and dropped-off) my mom. It was great having them at Diane's.
Now, you know, I love watching the game. There is just so much surrounding it, between the pomp and circumstance of a championship sporting event and then there's the great commercials that are rolled-out just for that event. That means that you really can't take much of a break from watching anything. But that also means that everything could be interrupted with talk... usually loud... at any time. And my family is all about the socializing and between B&B.. and Jack.. and my mom... well, there was a lot that was going on.
I feel that I REALLY never heard the game. I'm pretty sure i saw most of the plays (and I have to tell you, this was a wonderful game to watch... and I found out I was the only Patriots fan in the house...) Really really enjoyable game.. close, well fought, well played. And you gotta love a game - inside a dome (well, the roof was closed) - on grass.
OK... favorite commercials? Bud takes them all again, with FedEx Carrier Pigeons being up there. Oh, and screaming animals in a Bridgestone tire commercial (even a little screaming... grasshopper?)
The surprise of the evening? It was that while we were enjoying the game, eating pulled pork from Sweet Baby Ray's... it was snowing the whole time and we didn't know.
There was 3 inches of snow on my car when we were getting ready to leave. The streets were plowed in places. The expressways were not really clear. A treacherous, slow drive home - I felt the back end slide-out once... made be back off a bit and I wasn't doing anything bad.
Update: You know, I can't complain with this year's USA Today Ad Meter rankings of this year's commercials.
Update: It's official.. .and WOW. An estimated 97.5 million viewers watched the game. It was the second-most watched television program of all time, behind the 1983 finale of "M*A*S*H," which was viewed by 106 million people. The previous most-watched Bowl, with 94.1 million viewers, was Dallas vs. Pittsburgh in 1996. The game scored a 37.6 rating among adults 18 to 49, making it the highest-rated Super Bowl in that target demographic in eight years. The 1996 Super Bowl remains the highest rated with a 41.2 rating.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Over 6 inches as of this morning. Our area was supposed to be around 4". Somebody didn't see this coming. The snow distribution is nothing like they said it would be. At least it doesn't feel like it to me.
At least the traffic was really light. People must be staying home, schools must be closed.
A good thing, too, since the roads weren't cleared. The plows couldn't keep up overnight.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Crazy drive home
It was snowing all afternoon. Something tells me the Weather Critters got this wrong - we weren't supposed to get hit this hard north and west of the city.
The drive home was a mess.... We barely moved during the entire trip. In fact, the needle on my speedometer never actually moved - I have no idea how fast I was traveling. The road surface was a mess.... no one was out plowing either.
And this is to continue until noon tomorrow...
Office etiquette rule #421...
If you happen to see a coworker who is walking - with a purpose - toward where the restrooms are located, DO NOT stop this person to chat...
If you notice this coworker shifting slightly back and forth with their eyes pretty wide open... STOP TALKING TO THEM...
If you notice the co-worker's knees subtly move toward each other...
STOP TALKING IMMEDIATELY...
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
OK... now this is crazy...
Man... Chicago weather can be really extreme at times...
Case in point:
High yesterday 48°F (almost 9°C). Woke up this morning and it was -2°F (almost -19°C)... that's a 50 degree swing in about 18 hours.
Add into that the Wind Chill: -22°F (almost -19°C)... this is crazy.. because it'll be in the 30's for the weekend...
It was like a blizzard outside last night - the snow was blowing sideways. Looked like hell. More snow to come in the next couple of days.
Traffic was terrible this morning - slow moving. The salt just doesn't work at these temperatures.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Here we go again...
The weather is going to go crazy again... another "the sky is falling!" weather report .. and alerts... and warnings...
Was actually in the 30's this morning... and I found it refreshing...
Monday, January 28, 2008
Carol pointed out something in the neighborhood that I have never seen before. I guess I never paid attention.
For as long as we've lived out here, we are constantly seeing "For Sale" signs in front of houses.
One in front of a house looked quite normal... from a local RE/MAX realtor. Except.. it was night.. and the sign was lit. It has solar panels on top and, judging by the color of the light, white LED's lighting the sign!
Then I noticed another sign on the bottom, hanging off the main sign... it was a website address for the street address of the house. Great idea... and cheap... it just redirects to the realtor's page, but then you can pick the homes that she's brokering, like this particular one...
I like seeing the use of technology creeping into things we've used to take for granted.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Setting the stations
Remember that radio we bought yesterday for Carol's truck?
Well, we had it installed today...
Actually, first I went online and pulled the most complete list of radio stations and frequencies in the Chicago area. I'm saying "most complete" because trying to find a complete list of stations that you can receive in the area is damn near impossible. There were always stations missing or mislabeled.
OK... so... programming a car radio...
while in motion...
while reading a manual... and associated frequency lists...
trying to press VERY TEENY program buttons...
while wearing a restrictive seat belt (that locks frequently)...
driving bouncing and swerving over, through - and perhaps dodging - the ever-growing fields of some menacing potholes...
trying to find something to fill 6 selections in the AM band...
not to mention filling 3 bands of 6 selections in for FM...
All on the way driving to my mom's house for dinner.
My head was BUZZING by the time I stumbled out of the car. I wasn't in good shape at all... but at least Carol is happy with having a radio with a display that she can actually read... though I have to admit, it looks great and has a great sound (something she's been sorely lacking)...
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
This writers strike is just nuts... nothing to REALLY watch on TV except Reality and Game Shows...
..and now, a new word to describe how the strike is manifesting itself - TiVorexia.
See... when you setup a Season Pass to record your favorite shows, typically you set the Show Type to "First run only", so you only get the first showing of an episode of a show, and not the reruns. Great feature.
Now, with the strike, there's no new episodes of many of the shows we watch... and you look at the "To Do List"... and all you see is the Show Name... and "None scheduled" instead of the list of shows coming up to be recorded...
Carol actually thought ahead, and TiVo'd shows that she wasn't going to watch until later sometime... well... later is coming around sooner, and our TiVo still has things to watch.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Wow - what a mess driving this morning.
It had actually warmed up (if you can call it "warm") to 29°F (almost -1°C) and it lightly snowed during the course of the night.
I mean lightly.. .covered everything, but barely... maybe an inch or so...
...and yet, it was one of the worst drives I've had in the morning recently. The side streets weren't plowed. the main streets weren't plowed. I was going down Higgins Road and I saw a police car up ahead on the right shoulder. When the traffic made it up toward him you could see a car down in a steep ditch along the road.
I can't figure out why - if the snow had already started last night during my drive home at 5pm, and it was only an inch or so since then - why were the streets in such bad shape?
At least it's not as bad as the 36" water main break in the city this morning that produced a huge hole and flooding up to 4 feet deep in the area, flooding nearby houses and stores.
Hey, on the positive side... sometime overnight, our driveway got plowed... and it must have been from the plowing company and not like last time.
Monday, January 21, 2008
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an odd experience because, for me at least, it's not a holiday - it's just another work day.
You can tell, though, by the amount of traffic that many people have the day off. You can tell by the number of open parking spots in the garage at work that many people have the day off.
Not only a day to celebrate the life of a monumental civil rights leader, it's also a day that is used as a call to service for the community.
The origin of the day is not only his birthday, but it's also rooted in labor rights and unions...
So... today i work.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
A cold night.. .was down to -6°F (about -21°C). We knew we were going to have problems last night going to the hockey game.
Other than the obvious when we couldn't get the garage door to open (it would only travel between 6 inches and a foot even after stopping, reversing slightly and restarting it, taking several attempts to open the door all the way), it was on the shelves near the utility room door that we saw the issue.
We store soda on the shelving unit. Several of the bottles were freezing, so we had to get them inside so they wouldn't get screwed-up.
Too late for some of them, though.
The glass bottle six-packs of IBC Root Beer weren't surviving well.. in fact, 3 bottles were frozen and shattered.. and there's frozen root beer all over the shelves and other bottles.
We cleaned up the bottles, but we'll have to wait for a thaw to cleanup the shelves.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
OK.. .another in what seems to be a series of small things that make you happy...
It is absolutely great to pull into a parking lot, or in my case - a parking garage, and find a parking spot... that you can pull through! You know the ones, where you're in one aisle and the spot that you pull in is open... but so is the one in front of you... allowing you to pull forward into that space.. so you can just pull out at the end of the day instead of having to back up! And you don't have to go through the effort of backing up into the space either!
This ONLY works when the parking spaces are straight, and not on a diagonal, because either the opposite spot is angled the opposite direction, or if it's not, that means that aisle is one-way the wrong way... and I HATE HATE HATE people that pull forward into those because it takes them FOREVER to swing their car around to pull out... .or even worse, just drive down the aisle the wrong way.
See? Small things...
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
You know... sometime you're just thankful for little things...
... little... odd... things...
It's winter here in Chicago, so I wear button-down shirts to work (no suits, thank gawd)
Being a geek, I not only love having a pocket on my shirt, but I also use it, holding onto whatever I would need.
But, you know what's cool? Having the style of pocket that actually has a separate little sleeve that holds a pen, so that the pen doesn't flop around the pocket... it's all self contained, snugly holding my pen...
Monday, January 14, 2008
OK... I've been having this problem for at least a year now, and I have absolutely no explanation for this.
My left shoe constantly unties.
It doesn't matter at all which pair of shoes I have on. The left one always unties.
I have no explanation to offer. And it just pisses me off having to continually stop and tie my shoe.
Doesn't make any sense....
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The Last Place
OK.. just a small Pet Peeve here... but...
Carol said something and... do you ever have something that all of a sudden triggers something... or at least reminds you that you have something that bothers you?
Today, it was something that was innocent that everyone says, but it just riles me up when i hear it.
"It figures... it was in the last place I looked..."
See? innocent... but... my brain just goes...
OF COURSE IT'S IN THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOKED! IT'S ALWAYS IN THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK, BECAUSE WHY WOULD ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND CONTINUE TO LOOK WHEN YOU'VE ALREADY FOUND WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR!!!!!!!
Friday, January 11, 2008
The new words of 2008...
I think I'm getting tired of two words that are all I hear the last few weeks...
"change" - if you've been listening to all of the political events... and...
What does this mean?
I always worry when I leave the house in the morning for my trek to work, and, as I drive through the neighborhood, all I see are squirrels everywhere, standing upright, eating nuts...
... what does this mean?
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Things that are scary, and yet piss you off at the same time...
OK... look... I'm getting upset at all of our liberties and freedoms being encroached upon... America is not the same place that it used to be... not that I'm saying that we should be EXACTLY where we were 8 years ago, but... I don't know... I just get pissed-off at things...
like... oh... Federal wiretapping... especially those of the warrant-less variety...
But, when you have a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation (which is used in the government's most sensitive and secretive criminal investigations, and allow eavesdropping on suspected terrorists or spies)... when THOSE wiretaps get CUT OFF because the government didn't pay the bills to the phone companies....
something REALLY SCREWED UP is happening in government...
Phone companies cut FBI wiretaps due to unpaid bills
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
I can't imagine a car crash like this...
In Florida, on I-4, imagine not being able to see in front of the hood of your car. Normally, in fog or smoke, you could see pavement at least a little bit in front of you. In this case - no. I never heard that there are "Fog Warnings" that have a scale to them - 1-10. Anything over 7 is supposed to be risky for driving. the alert was for a 10.
Now, add to that a wildfire that started as a controlled burn that got away from the Florida Division of Forestry.
Sometime after 4am is when it all hit at the same time... and the horrendous collisions began.
I guess it wasn't just one crash, but rather 10 crashes involving 70 vehicles. 38 injured. 5 died. In a 2½ mile stretch of road.
Responding fire crews had to walk in front of the engines to guide them through the smoke & fog because the drivers just couldn't see.
There were reports of people hearing erie sounds of crashes, screams, people calling for help all around them... popping of tires from the vehicles engulfed in flames... and not being able to see any of it.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
HB, EP, wherever you are...
Ummm... ok... could be all those times going to the annual Elvis Night at U.S. Cellular Field (you know... I'm still having problems saying that... I STILL call it Comiskey... I mean, how long do I have to refer to the place as TPFKAC™? It's going to be 5 years already...)
...but.. .Happy 73rd Birthday, Elvis Presley... wherever you are...
Monday, January 07, 2008
OK, this is crazy...
It was 64°F (a bit over 17°C) today. If that's not crazy enough, let's add-in tornadoes, up by the Wisconsin border. Homes blown apart, 12 cars of a freight train blown over. Saw cell pone video of the actual tornado that was seen. There's a question if there was one, two, or three... but they have finally figured out that it was an F3 tornado (on the Fujita Scale... oh wow... they decomissioned the scale.. now there's an Enhanced Fujita Scale... with enhanced damage indicators... hmmmm... may have to read-up more about this...)
Anyway... it's January. Tornadoes in January.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Surely the polar ice caps are melting...
Now we're up to Flash Flood Warnings from the Winter Storm Warnings because it's so warm today, all of the snow has melted and it's got nowhere to go...
High today: 61°F (a bit over 16° C). Stepped outside today to... ummm... turn off our Christmas lights... almost felt "balmy"...
Sorry, I would rather have this than a typical Chicago winter weather.
Watched American Gladiators tonight. I was so pumped-up to watch this show. Carol and I used to love the original - in fact, we went to a live show at the Rosemont Horizon (now Allstate Arena) back when the show was originally airing (can't remember when.. must have been in the early 90's)
Though the show still holds a sense of nostalgia for me, perhaps... I am over with it? I can't help but to feel like there's a faint smell of "professional wrestling" with this, which just taints it for me...
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Another day of birthday...
You know, no matter how old you are, you have to like it when you get to extend your birthday bay a day or two, just so you can celebrate it with family... or whoever.
So, went to my mom's for dinner today instead of tomorrow, since she is playing social butterfly tomorrow and going to a party herself.
Carol had stopped earlier today and brought along a great cake from Deerfield's. - Double layer chocolate cake, covered in chocolate mousse, with a layer of ladyfingers around the outside. Oh, man... wonderful... and it wasn't really sweet, somehow, which is what made it wonderful.
Woke up today to ... green grass. All that snow? GONE. Why? It's warm today, finally... even warmer tomorrow...
Friday, January 04, 2008
Happy Birthday to...
Finding birthday cards strewn around the house... on my pillow (after I had gotten up to ... ummm... go... to the bathroom), on my chair by my computer... on my dashboard covering up my spedometer... and then one in my backpack under the Velcro strap holding in my laptop...
... and a wrapped DVD case (you just know it's a DVD by the size and weight).
So... still another year has passed... and I'm still here to see it.
Which is all good.
At least it's warmer today when I woke up: 25°F (about -3°C).
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Came home tonight to find two interesting items...
The first, in the mail, was a CD from the neurologist's office, of the brain MRI that I had a week ago Wednesday. It has software on it that autoloads and you can browse through all of the images of each series that was taken. A very odd journey through my brain...
The second was hanging from my front door, in a clear plastic bag.
It was the English Translation of the Message of the Quran .
Yes, a paperback version, distributed by the Book of Signs Foundation, with a cover letter.
Not something I would have gone out and bought (probably ever), but... I don't mind having a copy around.
Just a tad bit worse...
Woke up to find the temperature is 0°F (about -17°C).
There is heat out there somewhere that is supposed to be coming this way.
Oh, who am I kidding... it's not "heat"... let's just say "warmer air"... I mean, this is Chicago.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
I got home after work today and as I pulled into my clean driveway I realized I had forgotten to mention this yesterday.
In the middle of the Rose Bowl game, the doorbell rang and it looked like a family of 4 that wanted to know if we wanted our driveway and sidewalks cleared.
Since we hadn't seen "hide nor hair" of our plowing service, we said sure... and they did a wonderful job with shovels and a snowblower. Looking out at the snow they had to cut through, it was a lot deeper than I had thought - maybe 9 inches to a foot (in places).
And, as anybody knows, it's not the snow on the driveway that's the killer - it the mound of snow that the village snowplow leaves at the end of the driveway when they come along and plow the street.
Wonder if we'll ever hear from our plowing service ever again, or did Carol's incessant phone calls to their voice mail scare them off?
Plunged into the cold...
Great way to start the shortened work week... the temperature is 3°F (about -16°C). Going to be cold all day.
And then I thought I saw 50°F (10°C) later, like maybe next week?
And the climate isn't changing?
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
OK, a lazy way to start the new year...
So.. what have I done to start 2008? Let's see...
- Woke up
- Watched the 119th Tournament of Roses Parade on HGTV (only thing better would be to watch this in HD, but all we had was the KTLA feed, and I'd rather have a commercial-free viewing experience with commentators that talked about what was used in the float construction, and the advantages of certain pieces, rather than the pre-written inane banter of major network coverage)
- Watched The Winter Classic from Buffalo... first time ever in the United States... imagine... an NHL hockey game - a regulation in-season game - played on a temporary ice rink built between the 16-yard lines on the football field in Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY where the Buffalo Bills play. An NHL-record 71,217 fans watched in the middle of a snow storm (with the vast majority staying to watch the entire game) (best sign that a fan held up: "Look Mom, no roof"). And, it has to be settled in a shootout. What a GREAT event for the NHL (oh, it was Pittsburgh 2, Buffalo 1)
- The 94th Rose Bowl Game. uggh... how friggin' embarrassing... another Big-10 fiasco at the hands of the Pac-10, with the Illini losing to USC 49-17.... ugggh...
And basically, those few things took up my whole day, outside of Carol cooking-up a wonderful breakfast and dinner...
Welcome to 2008...
Happy New Year all!
ugggghhhh... just got home after a HORRENDOUS drive from Wrigleyville out to the suburbs. The weather just wasn't right today/tonight/this morning... whatever this time period was...
ooops... so much for that "Rabbit, Rabbit" thing.... there must be a way around that for New year's celebrations
It started snowing while I was at work (yes, I had to actually work today). The drive home wasn't really treacherous yet, as I stayed on the most traveled streets... thank God for the lack of regular traffic.
Picked up Carol and made our way into the city to Barry & Buffy's. The Tollway and expressway were wet and slow... no traffic tie-ups, just a constant slow speed, which, in the long run, was not bad at all. The snow by us was deeper, heavier than what we experienced by them. I felt good, though, knowing that the weather-critters were predicting the snow ending my 11pm, which gave the plows/salt trucks a few hours to work before we had to make it home.
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Don't remember what was on TV all night... with all the conversation, ummm... some of it, ummm... LOUD... it was difficult to figure out what was going on anyway. That snow? Just kept comin'. Kenny kept leaving throughout the night, about every half hour or so just to keep on top of it by shoveling the sidewalks.
Had Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on, as usual. It just seems like the right thing, somehow a tradition...
..ummm... even though Buffy's birthday was just Sunday, somehow I wind-up always getting a cake (mine is Friday), which I always feel awkward about, but... turn down cake? Are you crazy?
11pm came and went... the snow kept coming... changing from light snow, to big heavy flakes, to smaller flakes blowing around...
Midnight came as we watched another tradition of our - putting on Channel 7 (the local ABC affiliate - for "Countdown Chicago") to watch Janet Davies make a fool of herself again. She didn't disappoint. She didn't seem as drunk as we've seen in prior years, but still an awful lot of fodder for our comments (thank you You Tube). The local events that were being covered were just... subdued. The Willowbrook Ballroom’s 68th annual Big Band New Year’s Eve Party? After "Dancing With The Stars", the local experts didn't live up to what we're used to seeing.
Well... it was finally time to call it a night... and we made our slow drive home. Snow stopping at 11pm? No... it's after 1am and still snowing. The side streets were bad. Southport was a little better. Addison was almost a little better. the competition on the streets of revelers attempting to get a cab was fierce - we've never seen so many people hailing cabs on New Year's before. The Kennedy - well, not so bad, though we did see a car spin out in the left-hand lane that wound-up pointing toward us (perhaps a New Year's Eve amateur?) The Northwest Tollway - still not great. I wasn't comfortable even doing the limit, though apparently idiots in SUV's were.
From the Tollway home was actually a bit treacherous.The plows were nowhere to be found. We slowly made our way home - to find our driveway still unplowed. Think we're gonna have to find another service, because this guy isn't doing this well, if at all.
So, we're home safe and sound.
Another year starts, still with all the unknowns awaiting ahead.
Here's to a better 2008!
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Saturday, November 03, 2007
In lieu of an "Away Team" trip up to LaValle like we've been doing, the guys that are down here got together for lunch today... OK... it's just me and Barry and Joe. Not a big deal, but it turns out that the place we went to both Barry & Joe have been to before. In fact, Joe used to go there quite often in a prior life when he worked in the area.
We went to Manny's deli on Jefferson in Chicago's "South Loop" area... an area that didn't look ANYTHING like it does now just a few years ago. Huge developments, both commercial and residential.
And then there's Manny's. Who ever heard of a cafeteria style deli that's been around since 1942, a place that politicians STILL do business there in the seating areas, a place that STILL has a GOOD selection of cigars in the humidor at the checkout cash registers, a place that has... COMPLIMENTARY VALET PARKING?
Had a Reuben (Barry and I were standing around for quite a while waiting for Joe and smelled that sauerkraut so... had to have the Reuben). Haven't had that quality corned beef in quite a while... so tender and moist...
Man... Carol was jealous that we were going after seeing it on Check Please! I'll going to have to bring here there some weekend...
Friday, November 02, 2007
No no no no... this is *TOO* early...
A long story, but one that NEEDS to be told, becuase... THIS IS GETTING REDICULOUS...
A few weeks ago, I was at Lowes... and they had started displaying all their Christmas merchandise... I went to Home Depot - same thing.
At Walgreen's this week, you could find Halloween candy in one aisle, Christmas candy - and decorations - in the next aisle.
Today, I'm reading a great Chicago blog - Gaper's Block - and found something even more disturbing.
There's a station here in Chicago - WLIT 93.9 FM - that, every year, switches to 24 Christmas music during the season. They are scheduled to do it next Friday - November 9!!!!
There's a rock station here - WCKG 105.9 FM - that is a talk (sorta rock) station. They are actually pulling the plug on their format, dumping their on-air personalities, and starting something new... someday soon... and... they're not saying what it is... (rumors are saying that it will be "adult-contemporary music format for women between 25 and 54")
So. sometime later today, WCKG is going to start playing Christmas music until they figure out what they're doing! Today!
So... what does WLIT do? They want to get the jump on WCKG, so they start their 24-hour Christmas music format THIS MORNING - FRIDAY NOVEMBER 2!
TWO RADIO STATIONS IN CHICAGO - PLAYING CHRISTMAS MUSIC - 24 HOURS A DAY - STARTING TODAY, NOVEMBER *** 2 *** ?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!
This is CRAZY!!! Whatever happened to No Christmas Until After Thanksgiving!!!!!
UPDATE: WCKG didn't go Christmas... at least not yet... interesting idea: if they get WLIT to move off their regular Adult Contemporary programming earlier than they were going to, then perhaps they can make a grab at the WLIT audience when WCKG changes to a format similar to what WLIT NORMALLY has
I've been hearing the news over the past week or so... and I kept seeing the prices go down... now I guess they're trying to catch up...
Gas prices are up 33 cents a gallon today compared to what I paid on Monday...
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
So.. it was - what I thought - a very nice day. Sunny. Low 60's. A bit breezy, though.
And ... thanks to our screwed-up government, Daylight Saving is still in effect for an extra week, just to allow the Trick or Treater's out there one extra hour of daylight.
So, I was disappointed in the turnout - another downturn in visitors. You know I keep track of the kids.
So... here we go... here's the look of the numbers over the years:
and... drumroll... this year's count: 46
And that doesn't count the 3 kids that came back (they were in my first group - at 4:21pm).. .and.. it doesn't count the dog dressed like a devil, either.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Stealing a Taco
On the way home from work today, I had to stop by Taco Bell.
Now... why would I do that... and why would you care?
Because everyone in the United States is getting a free taco today. Now... again... why?
Because Taco Bell ran a promotion that was called "Steal a Base Steal a Taco". In a nutshell, if anybody in the World Series steals a base in a World Series game, America gets a free a free crunchy seasoned beef taco .
So - there it was: last Thursday, Game 2, bottom of the 4th. - Thank You Boston Red Sox rookie center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (he walked after two out, and stole second in a 2-1 win by Boston over Colorado)
The place wasn't crowded at all... you could only cash-in today from 2pm-5pm. I can't imagine what the chain's 5,800 stores were like during all of this.
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EVENT: Taco Bell Corp. ("Taco Bell") is tapping into the national pastime with a completely outside the bun idea: During any game of the 2007 World Series (the "Games"), currently scheduled for Wednesday, October 24, 2007, Thursday, October 25, 2007, Saturday, October 27, Sunday, October 28, 2007, Monday, October 29, 2007 (if necessary), Wednesday, October 31, 2007 (if necessary), Thursday, November 1, 2007, (if necessary), Games or event dates and times determined in the sole discretion of the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, and/or Major League Baseball Properties, Inc., as applicable, and are subject to change, Taco Bell will offer the prize identified below for ANY "stolen base" as determined by Taco Bell in its sole discretion. For purposes of this event, an eligible "stolen base" is defined as a base stolen during regulation or extra innings play and is subject to the determination/designation of the official Major League Baseball scorekeeper as an official stolen base. Any attempted stolen base which does not result in an official stolen base as defined herein, will not be eligible for the "Free Taco" as outlined herein. If a base is stolen during regulation or extra innings play by any player for either team, Taco Bell will offer every person in the U.S. the opportunity to obtain one (1) free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco (Approximate Retail Value 77¢, prices may vary) ("Free Taco") at participating Taco Bell® restaurants in the United States on the date designated herein. No product substitution, cash redemption or alternative will be allowed. Only one (1) Free Taco will be permitted per person, regardless of how many eligible bases are stolen during the Games. In the event the Games are not played on October 24-November 1, 2007, the offer will be good during any Games of the 2007 MLB World Series to be announced.
ELIGIBILITY: No Purchase Necessary. This offer is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia only. Void in all other territories, possessions, commonwealths and all other countries. Void where prohibited. MLB Entities (as defined below) and employees thereof are ineligible.
SPONSOR: Taco Bell Corp., 17901 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92614.
HOW TO OBTAIN A FREE TACO: If an eligible base was stolen during the Games, Taco Bell will make an announcement through selected media channels, including a press release and its web site (www.tacobell.com), that eligible consumers can obtain their free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 (if base is stolen in Games 1 or 2 on October 24 or October 25, 2007) OR November 6, 2007 (if base is stolen in Games 3-7, October 27, 28, 29, 31, November 1, 2007) ("Redemption Date") only. To obtain the Free Taco, consumers must visit any participating Taco Bell® restaurant in one of the fifty (50) the United States or District of Columbia between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. (local time) on the Redemption Date only and request a Free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco. Free Taco's will not be offered on any other date or time, regardless of circumstance. Limit one (1) Free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco per person. Participating Taco Bell restaurant manager reserves the right to deny Free Taco to any person he/she reasonably believes has already received a Free Taco or has engaged in any other fraudulent activity. All eligible consumers: Everyone in line at a participating Taco Bell restaurant before 5:00 p.m. local time will receive a Free Taco, even if it is provided after 5:00 p.m. Free Taco offer is subject to store availability and Taco Bell reserves the right to substitute an item of equal or greater value if due to unavailability. All restaurant managers decisions are final regarding to Free Taco offer. As a condition of the offer, consumers agree: (a) to release, and hold harmless Major League Baseball Properties, Inc., Major League Baseball Enterprises, Inc., MLB Advanced Media, L.P., MLB Media Holdings, Inc., MLB Media Holdings, L.P., MLB Online Services, Inc., the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, and the Major League Baseball Clubs, and each of their respective shareholders, employees, parents, directors, officers, affiliates, representatives, agents, successors, and assigns (hereinafter,"MLB Etities") and Sponsor and their affiliates, subsidiaries, retailers, sales representatives, distributors and franchisees, and each of their officers, directors, employees and agents ("Promotional Parties"), from any and all claims, demands, losses, promises, causes of action, and liabilities, in this contest/promotion or any use/misuse of the prizes awarded hereunder including a Free Taco, (b) under no circumstances will entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and participant hereby waives all rights to claim, punitive, incidental, consequential, or any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses; (c) all causes of action arising out of or connected with this Offer or any Free Taco or any advertising, marketing, promotion or publicity materials in connection therewith, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action; and (d) any and all claims, judgments, and award shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, excluding attorneys' fees and court costs. By participating, consumers agree that all issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, participant's rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of the Sponsor in connection with the Sweepstakes, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of State of California, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules. By entering, entrants consent to the jurisdiction and venue of the federal, state and local courts for Irvine, California.
Taco Bell is an official sponsor of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. Major League Baseball trademarks and copyrights used with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. Contest not produced or executed by any MLB Entity.
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Yep... it's cold
Woke up this morning to 39°F outside... yeah.. the season has turned...
It's been a disappointing fall, though... it's been warm for so long, that the trees REALLY haven't changed colors as well as they used to. Add to that the high winds we had recently, and the trees are becoming more bare than retaining colorful leaves.
Well, at least I won't be staying in the house this morning, having to go to work. yesterday it was 61°F in the house, and that just made a bit too uncomfortable.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Another season over
Boston sweeps Colorado in the World Series... and thus brings to a close another baseball season...
My heart goes into hibernation until the spring...
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Went to see Gone
Drove into the city to pickup B&B to drive to the Evanston Century 12 theaters to see Gone Baby Gone.
Well, I have to say lately that I think I've decided that "my kind of movie" is one that entertains, it could be "light", it could be "action"... and this movie doesn't fall into that genre for me. I was reluctant to go, but as Carol pointed out to me, I seem to have been steering our movie going in that direction when the four of us are together and it was time to see one of "their" movies.
A bit dark... a bit disturbing (the subject matter)... but.. I MUST admit, well performed... and enjoyable in that sense.
And, to top it off, my legs didn't twitch at all in those seats, and I haven't the foggiest reason why.
After the movie, we drove back to their neighborhood to hit a LITTLE restaurant that we love going to - El Tapatio. The food was great, as always, but tonight our issues were 1) sitting under a speaker that was JUST TOO LOUD... and 2) since when do all these toddlers love Mexican food? the restaurant is TINY and the tables really close together, especially in the back where we always seem to sit, but I don't like have to scoot my chair as close to the table as possible (up against my stomach) to stay out of the way of the lady sitting behind.. .and the toddler always running into my chair... the amount of kids in such a tiny restaurant was startling...
We went to their house afterward to watch Game 3 of the World Series (there's no way Boston is gonna loose this series... sorry Colorado...) and had some yummy hot apple pie from Dinkel's (complete with a great vanilla bean ice cream, too).
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Elevator Entrance Etiquette
Am I off-base here? Is there some kind of cultural thing going on?
When I'm in an elevator and when I reach my floor... the doors will open...
WHY OH WHY OH WHY.. am I sensing that certain people of certain ethnic decents... have this... compulsion.. to enter the elevator before you can get out?
That's why I'm asking if it's a cultural thing that I'm just aware of... or are these individuals just discourteous?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Welcome to Chicago Weather
So, the official high temperature on Sunday was 87°F.
Today, I woke up and it was 48°F. The high was only 53°F - 34°F colder than Sunday for the marathon. Today's temperature would have been so much better for that event - more seasonal, I suppose.
That's why they scheduled it at this time of year.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
It's October. Baseball is over. It's fall...
it's not supposed to be 87 degrees outside.
That's why the Chicago Marathon is scheduled at this time of year.
The race started today at 8am. At 11:30, for any runners that didn't make the half-way point, they were diverted to the Finish Line.
The organizers shutdown the marathon.
It was already too late. A 35-year-old guy from Michigan died after 19 miles.
24,931 of the 35,867 that started actually completed the race (about 4,000 finishing under 3½ hours) - when the officials stopped the race. And about 10,000 registered runners took the heat warnings to heart and didn't even start the race.
Still, over 300 were hospitalized.
On top of that, there were many reports of the water stations were depleted... many runners not getting any water until mile 8... or mile 13, depending on the reports I was hearing.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
50 years ago today the world changed
It was 50 years ago today that life on this planet changed. The Soviet Union launched the first satellite to orbit the earth - Sputnik 1 (or "Спутник-1") On October 4, 1957 at 19:28:34 UTC. It was 22.8 inches in diameter, 183.9 pounds, orbiting on an elliptical orbit that took about 98 minutes. It took until January 31, 1958 for the U.S. to even fight back in what has always been described as a "Space Race" by launching Explorer 1 (ummm.. after Vanguard TV-3 explodes on launch pad on December 6, 1957). NASA was created on October 1, 1958 from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) by the congress's National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (commonly called the "Space Act") Public Law #85-568, 72 Stat., 426. Signed by the President on July 29, 1958. Sputnik-1 orbited 1,440 times and lasted about 3 months. The transmitter batteries ran out after 22 days.
It all REALLY started 50 years ago today, 9 months to the day after I was born.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
What a great foggy morning. It's mornings like this that I am reminded about how much I love fog... and I really can't tell you why. Fog usually means no wind - not even a breeze. For some reason, too... it seems quiet. So mysterious. Driving is always a heightened experience... not knowing what's ahead of you... an enjoyable drive to work, for a change.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Man... I'm exhausted.. and even though I know that part of it was the week I was busy and the time up in Michigan, I'm thinking it's my allergies. I know that when I feel like this, it's because my body just seems to be reacting to fighting something. I'm not giving in and saying I'm sick, but ... maybe.. the allergies are just zapping the energy from my body... I'm just not used to being outside of air conditioning for extended lengths of time... it's that Michigan pollen, I tells ya...
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Back to the grind...
Oh man... between my week of being an Ambassador of Chicago to my friend Ali... and this past weekend going up to Michigan and attempting to relax, today I'm back at work... and I don't wanna be...
I'm feeling really fatigued.. could be all that pollen up in Michigan that I'm not used to.
So... bobbed in the pool for only a while... the BUGS up there are CRAZY... worse than I have ever seen.. SWARMING mosquitoes.. and BIG ones.. that you can SEE from a distance... they're crazy...
So... where did we spend a bit of time? Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo. This place is BIG.. no ... B - I - G. How big? At 130,000 square feet, there are only three casinos in Las Vegas that have more casino floor space - MGM, Caesar's and Mandalay Bay. Four Winds is bigger than The Venetian, Bellagio, Luxor, Rio, Wynn... well you get the idea. Went when we got up there on Saturday - BIG mistake... MAN there were a lot of people there.. idiots.. asswipes... I've NEVER been BUMPED so much in a casino... as if these people didn't care... and were just oblivious... I mean... people just stepping in front of someone waiting for a slot machine? It ALMOST got us turned off from being there and going back... well, that and what appears to be the total lack of smoke handling systems to scrub the air from all the damn smokers... but.. Tuesday - TOTALLY different... so it had to be the weekend.. and a holiday weekend at that...
So, now I'm back at work... no days off until Thanksgiving... depressing... the days are getting shorter, too... and may baseball team is in LAST PLACE...
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Severe weather alert
Never, in my... ummm... 29 years in my career, have I EVER had to evacuate my office due to severe weather... until today.
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Carol called me... from the stairwell of her building. They heard the tornado sirens going off outside, so they evacuated to the interior stairwells in the building core (sounds right, knowing how these buildings are built... keep away from glass, and the concrete core for the elevators, stairs, and God knows what gives GREAT protection if something happens). So what do we do? Get up and look at the window!
She called me a few minutes later saying they heard about funnel clouds being sighted in Elgin coming straight this way, through Hoffman Estates. Great. Don't like hearing about funnel clouds passing through the town where we live.
I told everybody in the cubes around me what was going on... where she was (not far away at all) and what they were doing.
And then the announcement over the building PA:
May I have your attention. May I have your attention please. This is a severe weather alert. All personnel should immediately move to the center core of the building, restrooms, stairwells, and inner core offices, away from all glass or mirrors until the all clear is announced.
...and then the alarm went off along with strobes.
Off we all went, first to the conference room suites in the center of our office space, with all the full length glass... Well, we were shagged out of there and told to wait in the stairwells...
... and you know.. when the staircase next to the elevators is just a step or two from the railing that overlooks the lobby with it's glass windows... it's just too hard to resist staying in the stairwell... you know, you could EASILY get into the stairwell if something would happen...
...so that's where I stood... with at least a dozen other people.. including others from meetings in the conference rooms, with their laptops and wireless connections, constantly checking radar and NWS reports...
The sky was turning black... you could see the underside of the clouds getting lower... but no rain, which made a bunch of people walk outside to see what they could see. Reports of funnel cloud sightings in Schaumburg, where I work, started to trickle in. It looked NASTY outside. The radar showed a really bad cell skipping through directly west-to-east with us in the way. Then it got dark, quiet...
...pretty soon the skies got lighter.. and lighter.. and then they just opened-up... a deluge. needless to say, nobody stayed outside.
After a few minutes of continued deluge, the internal alarm systems sounded the all clear and we went back to our cubes.
Hard to get motivated after that, though.
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I opened the garage door and glanced outside, It was gloomy, but I could see a fine drizzle coming down. I took off my glasses and left them on the roof of my car. I walked out onto the driveway. The neighborhood was perfectly quiet, rare for a weekday morning. I looked across the street to my left and saw a bunny sitting in the parkway, getting wet. There wasn't a breeze at all. Quiet and calm. I looked to my right and I saw a squirrel standing up watching me, just taking in the drizzle.
I really enjoyed that rain.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
I wanted to go get some audio to use in my podcast, so I drove up to the Wisconsin State Fair.
I really do enjoy going up there. The drive was pretty crappy this year with all of the highway construction in Illinois, but it was tolerable.
It's been a few years since I've been there, but it just seems that things change and yet they stay the same. Obviously the permanent buildings don't really change, but all of the other food vendors (as well as the other "non-food" vendors) may have different setups.. or are new to the event. What a wonderful place to just graze on food.
Which lead me to the destination of my pilgrimage: The Cream Puff Parlor.
83 Years at the fair - they are WONDERFUL. I wanted to bring some home for my family to eat tomorrow, but... whipped cream? Summer? long drive home? How am I going to pull this off?
I bought a 6-pack and this year a special add-on: a special soft-sided cooler the same size as the 6-pack box, that has 2 re-freezable ice packs that slip into the lid and the base of the cooler! Sweet... and they cooler is made with insulted reflecting mylar so you could use it as a warming bag, too, when not transporting cream puffs.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Ahhhhh... a chance to ... relax?
Carol took off this morning to drive up to Diane's in Michigan for the annual "Summer Club" weekend with the girls.
The house is mine... all alone... until Sunday night...
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Do you remember a show on Showtime called "Dead Like Me"? It was a favorite of ours, a great show about... grim reapers. The concept is the reapers must take the souls of people before the actually die so they can "move on". I know, it sounds grim, but the show was anything but.
Anyway, there was an article published in, of all publications, The New England Journal of Medicine about a cat that lives at a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island. I thought it was odd that a nursing home would own a cat, but then I remembered that animals do have a therapeutic affect on the elderly. And I thought it was VERY odd to have a story about a cat in The New England Journal of Medicine.
But, you see, Oscar lives on the third floor - the dementia unit.
Oscar goes on his own rounds each day... he has his own schedule, and he MUST visit each patient. If a door is closed, he waits to go in. He jumps onto the bed of each patient and surveys them. Most times after his survey he will jump down and move on to the next bed.
But, there are times when Oscar will curl up beside the patient.. and wait.
The staff knows that if Oscar is found laying next to a patient, they have to act quickly. The staff will start making phone calls. To the family.
Because, within about 4 hours, the patient will be dead. Oscar keeps them company until they pass. The staff calls the family to inform them that the time has come and gives them the opportunity to be with the patient for the last time.
When the patient takes his last breath, Oscar gets up, looks around, and leaves.
Coincidence? Look, I would say that... but if it happens a few times, you start to wonder.
But this cat has done this... 25 TIMES.
If anyone ever saw "Dead Like Me", you'd be convinced Oscar was a reaper.
The New England Journal of Medicine - A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat
Thursday, June 21, 2007
SUMMER IS OFFICIALLY HERE
Yes... Finally... Summer is here... well, at least astronomically speaking... longest daylight day of the year...
and the daylight gets shorter from here...
Monday, May 07, 2007
Ummmmm.... a bit too mundane...
To those people that actually contacted me (and there was more than one, so that SHOCKED me...) about my lack of postings... I don't think I can come up with an excuse. I just got a bit busy, a bit burned out, and... well... guess it was time for a bit of a break... I even got behind on my podcasts (and I'll be fixing THAT soon...)
I am OK, Carol (my wife) is OK... I have a thing or two to tell you that I haven't really blogged about before (I think).
I hope that the one... or two... or three people that actually read this blog weren't disappointed by my absence. I just got a little burned out... happens to bloggers after five years... and on top of that, had website issues (oops... people rushing to my website to read things and I went over my bandwidth allocation for the month)
I think I'll back-fill a few things, just so that I can make a note of a few things... nothing earth shattering, just sports stuff... a few other items... you know...
... so, I'm back.. just in enough time to probably go offline again... cause we leave for Las Vegas on Sunday! woot!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Ides of March
CAESAR Ha! who calls?
CASCA Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!
CAESAR Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry 'Caesar!' Speak; Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Soothsayer Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR What man is that?
BRUTUS A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
CAESAR Set him before me; let me see his face.
CASSIUS Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
CAESAR What say'st thou to me now? speak once again.
Soothsayer Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.
Julius Caesar Act I Scene II
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
SPRING IS HERE!!!! ... oh wait... no it's not...
It was a record high temperature for this date today... 73°F (for you people outside the US... it's about 22°C)
This was exquisite! It wasn't just a warm breeze that still had that cold bite behind it after the breeze was gone... no... I felt... warmth... it smelled different.. .oh, such a tease... it's going away, I know... but... now I just want days like this when baseball starts next month...
Monday, March 12, 2007
OK... this is a dumb move...
Woke up at my normal time... but it was dark outside. Pitch black. It was that damn Daylight Saving thing. It was cloudy... and dark. this is going to be hell for a few weeks... my body feels like it's just not supposed to be up right now, feeling awfully groggy... So, we get more time of sunlight in the evening. I'm starting to think "big deal" and what goos is that when you don't have sun to wake you up in the morning...
...though I have to admit, traffic didn't feel all that bad this morning...
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Yes.. I Time Traveled last night. Well, actually this morning.
I was a bad boy an stayed up way too late, playing in Second Life, talking on Skype with some friends... before i knew it, it was 2am... but wait... suddenly I time traveled! I went ... to the future!
OK, not exactly, but I can't remember the last time I was awake for this event, when it is 2am, but, suddenly ... it's actually 3am! That's when I knew that it was a mistake staying up late...
Yes, it was the magic of Daylight Saving, under the new laws... all of my Windows XP machines made the transition just fine... for the first time, none of my Windows 2000 machines did not. are there patches available? I'll need to see... even my TiVo's transitioned correctly... my Treo 700wx was fine... then there's all the clocks, both in the home and in the car, watches, the microwave, the stove, the DVD recorder, the VCR... which, I come to find out, won't even listen to the remote...I can't get it to change the time! Perhaps it's time for the VCR to be pitched... the Infoglobe needed a phone call to pick up the new time from the caller ID...
What makes today so much nicer, is that it's getting warm outside... in the 50's... and having the patio door open was just so refreshing...
Friday, March 09, 2007
Daylight Saving Hell
Thank you so much, Congress... moving Daylight Saving just makes no friggin' sense... how much is this going to cost businesses, let alone how much this is going screw up home life.. I am NOT looking forward to being in my house on Sunday... there's just too many gadgets in the house, and I've just got this feeling that the next few weeks will be hell trying to get everything to sync-up correctly..
Y2K again? Daylight time may baffle computers
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Mega Millions. Who will win it? Someone has to in it tonight... otherwise, it's going to get a little crazy around here...
Mega Millions jackpot swells to record $370 million
Update: Lottery waiting to hear from $370 million winners
Winning numbers were 16-22-29-39-42; Mega Ball number was 20
Two winning tickets: one sold at Campark Liquors in Woodbine, New Jersey and the other at Favorite Market in Dalton, Georgia.
The largest previous multistate lottery jackpot was $365 million in 2006, when eight workers at a Nebraska meat processing plant hit the Powerball lotto. The Big Game lotto, the forerunner of Mega Millions, paid out a $363 million jackpot in 2000.
Monday, March 05, 2007
25 years removed from the funny
It was 25 years ago today that John Belushi was found dead at age 33, in a hotel room at the Château Marmont on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.
I loved his Saturday Night Live characters, especially the Samurai character (my favorite - "Samurai Delicatessen" and "Samurai Stockbroker" where he accidentally hits Buck Henry in the forehead), his Joe Cocker impersonation - even in a duet with him - is priceless.
And, if you grew-up in Chicago at that time, "The Blues Brothers" is the pinnacle of Chicago films.
Casimir Pulaski Day
Are we the only city that celebrates a Polish Revolutionary War hero?
Chicagoland still boasts the 2nd largest population of residents of Polish descent (behind only Warsaw) in the world!
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Making of a Legend?
We did something totally out of the ordinary/mundane today... We drove into the city and picked-up B&B and drove downtown (South Loop) to Buddy Guy's Legend’s.
read more of this entry »
Now, there is so many reasons to do this and I'll tell you the primary one in a little bit. But a major contributing reason is that this is a very important blues club in Chicago since 1989, the most famous, I think, and it's the club of blues legendary Buddy Guy.
He's a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a chief guitar influence to rock titans like Hendrix, Clapton, Beck and Vaughan, a pioneer of Chicago's fabled West Side sound, and a living link to that city's halcyon days of electric blues.
Another contributing factor is that the club is being evicted - Columbia College
owns the building and it's turning it into a student center and the lease expires on May 31.
Now, the real reason that we went is because Buffy has a coworker that is singing tonight. Old Town School of Folk Music has classes - Blues Band - Live!.
Work out the blues with your own Old Town School band. The first meeting will include a jam session, ensemble selection and band placement. Eight weeks of practice will land your band a gig! Final performances will be at Buddy Guy's Legends or another Chicago blues club. Class time depends on student's ensemble designation.
They serve very good food
there, so we were there early to eat. We were all VERY
pleased with our food.
We had to sit through 3 bands before we saw the band that had the singer we were there to see. At times, it was painful... no, really painful, that we were actually checking our ears to see if they were bleeding... 1st band (Lady and the Tramps), very capable, but the lead singer had... ummm... a very poor choice of clothing - she was heavy, and wore a spangly red tube top, and... you know, we really didn't need to see her belly roll actually move as she gyrated on stage, not to mention she had to keep pulling the top up. (I wound up listening, but not watching - I just couldn't do it). Second band (The Rubber Duckies), all guys, keyboard was lead vocalist, a very good sound. Third band (The Carrie Yoko Blues Machine?), female lead much larger than the first, though she dressed so much better. Problem with her - she yelled her vocals. She was the one we had to check our ears for blood.
Two obvious thing taught in class - you must name your group, and you must introduce the bad during a song.
Then came the the fourth group - The Taildraggers, with the person that we came to see - Becki Gartner. OK, now, I'm not saying this cause she's a co-worker of a friend, but... she was definitely the best of the evening. Great voice, good quality, not overpowering. The group was good, too... they even had a guy playing a dobro lap slide guitar, which adds a lot to the sound.
Great, different evening... better than going to a hockey game that we were supposed to go to tonight...
« hide the extended part of this entry
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I know that, on the surface, this may not seem disastrous - Honey Bees Vanish, Leaving Keepers In Peril
They're calling it "Colony Collapse Disorder" With CCD, most adult honeybees abandon a hive and disappear, abandoning the queen and a remnant of younger bees. It is causing agricultural honeybees nationwide to abandon their hives and disappear.
They just... disappear. No bodies to autopsy to figure it all out. It's happening in at least 22 states..
So what? A third of our diet and billions of dollars in the agricultural economy relies on honeybee pollination. No bees, no fruits, nuts, vegetables...
"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years left to live." - Albert Einstein
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
There was an election?
Somehow, I lost sight of the fact that there was an election today. Maybe it was because it was local, and we were BOMBARDED by political ads. The only ads I saw were for the mayoral election in Chicago (Dailey won by 71% for a 6th term). Our own village had elections, too tat I somehow didn't know about ... so.. I guess I didn't vote.
For me, that is what an election should be... quiet.
Now, If I could just get this GM President's Day sale with the "Hail to the Chief" music off the damn TV, I'll be soooooo much happier
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
woot! Break out the spring jackets!
42°F yesterday... BALMY... before yesterday, we had 24 days under freezing... this feels so good.. I mean, it's STILL cold, but... I guess it's all relative.
But... I have been to White Sox games when the temperature was worse than 42°F... again... it's ALL relative...
Monday, February 19, 2007
The Double-Edge Sword
On one hand, the drive to work was great - nobody was on the road.
On the other hand, it's a holiday - President's Day. Carol is off work, I am not.
I think I'd rather have the day off...
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
It started Monday night and had been snowing all day. Final total at O'Hare: 8.6". This was a pretty big deal, disruptions everywhere. The travel to and from work yesterday was a mess... almost 3 times the length of a normal commute. I heard on the radio yesterday that the commute on I-290 from downtown to basically next to my office was 2 hours and 30 minutes. And, although they had all night to work it, the commute this morning was pretty severely impacted, too. It's a cold snow, to, meaning that you can plow, but salting the streets won't work, since the temperatures are in the teens and salt is not effective.
Still... it's still better than upstate New York and the Lake Effect Blizzard that's been going on for over a week.
I still can't imagine having - within the course of a week - snowfall of up to 141", That's almost 12 feet of snow. In one week.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Cars .. cars.. cars.. cars.. oh, and kids
Had a few hours I had to take off this afternoon (comp time for overtime), so I drove downtown to the 2007 Chicago Auto Show. I haven't been to the show in years... and this time was the perfect time to do it - during the week, and during the day... though.. I was there for four hours - four hours of non-stop walking, no sitting, no eating, no drinking. In retrospect, this was a huge mistake. I can't do that anymore... my legs were twitching.. and almost flopping by the time I was trying to make my way back to the car...
Anyway, the day & time meant that the crowds were non-existent. You could walk the floor, look at the cars, sit in them if you'd like, without being jostled by so many people.
Great seeing all the cars... I was pleasantly surprised that you could actually find cars for under $20,000 that I wouldn't mind TOO terribly owning... And, of course... there were cars that I wouldn't mind owning in spite of their price. Oh, and another surprise was how nicely priced some of the hybrids were.
Now, unfortunately, it still wasn't a great experience being at the show for one specific reason -
Maybe it was because it was during the day. Maybe it was because they were free (to get in), but the amount of families with kids was pretty much unbearable. It wasn't that they were there - I am sure that mom & dad were there looking at possibly a new car for the family. The problem was that at a minimum 75% of the parents let their kids run rampant throughout the show floor, frequently having the kids leave the sight of the parents. They were everywhere, running, jumping in front of adults to open a car door, jump in and close the door behind them and sit and screw with the car for 5, 10, even 15 minutes at a time. It was unbearable. A lot of the vehicles have working batteries to be able to show-off their navigation displays, which means the radios are active... so let's see what hip-hop station we can pull in off of FM and how high we can crank the volume... I was at the Inifiniti exhibit, and had a kid almost push me out of the way to climb into the driver's seat of a GX35, only to close the door behind him, and, after some flailing at the switches and flipping the wiper and light stalks on the wheel, proceeded to stand up on the leather seats so that he can get outside the open sunroof, to yell at the rest of his family at the Hummer exhibit. No one stopped this kid, even when the family finally came by. How fed up was I? I was standing next to a Nissan 350Z convertible that I wanted to get in, but I was behind an elderly couple .. a little girl pushed her way ahead of us, climbed in and slammed the door shut. She then proceeded to immediately start playing with the power seats... pushing the seat as far forward as it could go, and then she played with the tilt.. to tilt her face damn near into the steering wheel... I let her, and prayed that she would just crush herself... the elderly couple eventually told to little asswipe that adults want to see the car and she reluctantly left, leaving the seat in the fully extended position, requiring the man to lean in and get the seat fixed before he could sit down... and it was 4 hours of this...
Friday, February 09, 2007
Has Global Warming forced us to...
I know we had a GREAT "heat wave" a month or so ago, and we're now going through this HELLACIOUS cold snap, but.. has the fear of Global Warming forced us into action?
Work starts on Arctic seed vault
...within a year the first seeds of what will eventually be home for samples of all 1.5 million distinct varieties of agricultural crops worldwide will be tucked safely inside the vaults deep in a mountain on the archipelago of Svalbard.
There, at the end of a tunnel 120 meters into the side of a mountain, 80 meters above estimated sea levels even if all polar ice melts, and 18 degrees Celsius below freezing, they will stay like a bank security deposit.
The Norwegian government is footing the $5 million construction bill and the Global Crop Diversity Trust is providing the estimated $125,000 a year running costs.
The function of the Arctic Noah's Ark will be to hold samples of all the food crop varieties in case disaster strikes any of the banks -- like the typhoon that wiped out the Philippines agri crop gene bank in October.
The vaults on the remote archipelago 1,500 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle should have been dug and lined with meter-thick concrete by October ready for systems installation and a formal opening early in 2008.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
6 straight days
6 straight days of temperatures under -0°F
I know Mother Nature seems to average things out, so this is probably payback for the 37+ days over 32°F a month or so ago...
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Hey! It Warmed up!
It's only 0°F outside! woot! Heat Wave!!!
Of course, it's now snowing... hearing that it's over 2 hours to drive on the Edens from Lake Cook to downtown.
Craziness in the astronaut corps
I woke-up, put on the Today show... and was shocked at the breaking story overnight that led the cast...
So bizarre... so... foreign... what causes someone to do something like this? Especially, a shuttle astronaut????
CNN Stories (Updated)
Astronaut to face attempted murder charge
Astronaut's star appeared to be on rise at NASA
Astronaut flies back to troubled Houston home
NASA wants to know if there are 'lessons to be learned'
No attempted murder charge for astronaut Nowak
NASA chief: We didn't recognize Nowak was troubled
Sexy e-mails shed light on astronaut's bizarre behavior
NASA fires astronaut Nowak
Orlando Sentinel Story - Astronaut charged with attempted murder
I heard that.. and immediately thought about some guy going nuts, 'cause after all... the astronaut corps is mainly men... but, no... not a guy... a woman... Navy Capt. Lisa Marie Nowak - a Mission Specialist on STS-121 (July 4-17, 2006)... you know, a flight that was a return-to-flight test mission and assembly flight to the International Space Station, responsible for operating the remote arm during scheduled EVAs. She's married, with three children
You know... somebody driven, intelligent, skilled... under significant scrutiny to make sure she is physically and mentally fit for spaceflight.
Oh, such a strange tale... more bizarre the more I hear of it...
read more of this entry »
OK... ALLEGEDLY... this is what is "known":
Nowak drove over 900 miles.. from Houston to Orlando International Airport.
Nowak wore a diaper during the 14-hour drive so that she wouldn't have to stop for bathroom breaks
Oh, yes... now, while that sure doesn't appear normal, let me remind you...
Astronauts wear what NASA calls maximum-absorbency garments to collect their waste during space travel.
Now, why would she drive to Orlando? She was going to... "meet"... NASA Engineer Colleen Shipman who was on a flight, coincidentally from Houston to Orlando, who arrived at 1am.
After waiting 2 hours for her luggage, she walked to her car:
As Shipman walked to her car she noticed a woman in a trench coat who appeared to be following her, the police report said. She quickly jumped into her car and heard "running footsteps" behind her, Shipman told police.
Nowak slapped the window of the car as Shipman locked it, the report said. Nowak then tried to open the car door, saying that her ride had not arrived.
Shipman told Nowak she send for help, but when Nowak said she couldn't hear her and started to cry, Shipman cracked her window, the report said. The 2-inch space in the window was all Nowak needed to send pepper spray into the car, police said.
Her eyes burning, Shipman drove to a tollbooth and reported the incident.
OK... now.. Why did Nowak do this?
The charges against Nowak stem from an alleged love triangle in which Nowak and Shipman were competing for the affections of astronaut Bill Oefelein, police said.
...Commander Bill Oefelein
, the pilot of the last Shuttle Mission - STS-116 Discovery (December 9-22, 2006).
Charges? Attempted kidnapping, battery, and attempted vehicle burglary with battery... and destruction of evidence.
Yeah, destruction of evidence...
When an officer found Nowak at a bus stop, she was wearing a different coat, and the officer observed her putting items in a trash can, the police report said. The officer retrieved a wig and a BB gun from the trash can, the report said.
Police found in Nowak's bag a tan trench coat, a new steel mallet, a folding knife with a 4-inch blade, 3 to 4 feet of rubber tubing, large plastic garbage bags and about $600 in cash, the report said.
...police found diapers, six latex gloves, directions from Houston to Orlando International Airport, e-mails from Shipman to Oefelein, a letter indicating how much she loved Oefelein and directions to Shipman's home address in Florida, the report said.
She also was initially charged with destruction of evidence, but the judge said he found no probable cause for the charge.
So... there's an alleged romantic triangle between these people... allegedly.
According to the report, she told police that her relationship with Oefelein was "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship."
UPDATE: Looks like she's also going to be charged with Attempted First Degree Murder...
Navy Capt. Lisa Marie Nowak had already paid her bail on three other charges when she learned that she would not be released because Orlando police were planning to add attempted murder to the list, said Allen Moore, a spokesman for the Orange County Corrections Department.
Nowak will remain in protective custody until her first appearance on the new charge, which will likely come Wednesday morning, Moore said. The additional charge is likely to be filed Tuesday afternoon, Moore added.
One legal analyst said police and prosecutors likely added the new charge because they were miffed the judge granted Nowak bail when they requested she be held without bond.
A family statement said Nowak had recently separated from her husband of 19 years, who works at NASA Mission Control. They have a teenage son and young twin daughters.
The Associated Press reported that there had been signs of problems before Nowak's arrest. In November, police were called to Nowak's home near the Johnson Space Center after a neighbor reported hearing the sounds of dishes being thrown inside, AP reported.
Michael Coats, director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, issued a statement saying Nowak "is officially on 30-day leave and has been removed from flight status and all mission-related activities."
« hide the extended part of this entry
Monday, February 05, 2007
Oh, crap... how can today be colder?
Woke up this morning... and we've got new records for the last 11 years...
-9°F (or for those from elsewhere in the world: -22°C)
Wind chill? Even worse - (there are Wind Chill Warnings out until 1pm today) Current Wind Chill: -30°F (-34°C)
Sunday, February 04, 2007
The world is frozen
Woke up this morning...
-6°F (or for those from elsewhere in the world: -21°C)
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Holed-up in the house
Spent the day holed-up in the house... it is officially the coldest day we've had in 11 years. It's bad outside. Nobody went out to get the mail.
We have to make ice for the game tomorrow - and I came up with the idea of taking our extra ice trays, fill them up, and just put them in the garage.
Worked like a champ.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Thank God I have 55 inches at home
I don't believe... or maybe I should believe... that the NFL are such... ummm.... asswipes...
I read today in Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn's column about something that they are doing that just doesn't make any sense to me...
According to an article in The Indianapolis Star, the NFL is screwing with the definition of copyright, forcing places to cancel their Superbowl Parties.
The NFL considers big gatherings -- whether in churches, movie theaters or casinos -- to be a huge no-no if the game is being shown on TV screens bigger than 55 inches wide or if the host charges admission to watch
How could this be?
...the NFL is being quick to point out that federal copyright law bans public exhibitions of NFL games on sets or screens larger than 55 inches.
This is written in the federal copyright law?
Well, thank God for my Sony 55 inch TV at home..
Oh, one more Superbowl item, courtesy of the folks at The Onion - yes, the Bears are awakening the city of Chicago... "Bears Inspire A City Still Reeling From Great Chicago Fire Of 1871"
Early Spring? Way to go, Phil!
Punxsutawney Phil did NOT see his shadow this morning, which, according to German folklore, means we can expect an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter.
Since 1886, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, hasn't seen it 15 times and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.
Now wait a minute... was it Phil?... or was it the handlers? Phil talks to the handlers, who transcribe what he says so that it can be proclaimed... hmmmm...
Longtime handler Bill Deeley retired and was replaced Friday by Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle members John Griffiths and Ben Hughes.
Oh wait... from the official FAQ at the official website:
Phil's forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2, he speaks to the Groundhog Club president in "Groundhogese"(a language only understood by the current president of the Inner Circle). His proclamation is then translated for the world.
And, in case you wanted to know...
The Germans believed that if a hibernating animal cast a shadow February 2 -- the Christian holiday of Candlemas -- winter would last another six weeks. If no shadow was seen, legend said spring would come early.
And if you really really really wanted to know...
Gobbler's Knob is located at the following coordinates (these readings were taken with a GPS unit placed on the stump on the stage at Gobbler's Knob):
N40.93027 W78.95772 (hddd.ddddd°)
N40 55.816 W78 57.463 (hddd°mm.mmm')
read more of this entry »
Phil's official forecast as read 2/2/07 at 7:28 a.m. at Gobbler's Knob:
El Nino has caused high winds, heavy snow, ice and freezing temperatures in the west.
Here in the East with much mild winter weather we have been blessed.
Global warming has caused a great debate.
This mild winter makes it seem just great.
On this Groundhog Day we think of one thing.
Will we have winter or will we have spring?
On Gobbler's Knob I see no shadow today.
I predict that early spring is on the way.
« hide the extended part of this entry
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Defending commercial jets against...?
I had heard talk about this, as an option for the future, but I had thought it was going to be expensive. It turns out, they are actually doing commercial flight tests of ananti-missile system. The tests, though on commercial MD-11's , are all on freighters from FedEx, so no passengers are involved.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Christmas Number 2
Up until this past Christmas, the "extended family" celebrated Christmas Eve together. This year - just us. Today was our regular Christmas Eve.. actually, a little bit better because everyone could be together... and today was the only time that everyone was available...
Was a little dicey, though... with the Bears in their first playoff game after a bye... and they BARELY won.. as everyone was traveling to my sister's house in Bucktown.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
We went downtown and met B&B to go to the Ford Center for the Performing Arts (also known as the old Oriental Theatre on Randolph) to see Wicked.
Boy, do I have mixed feelings about this experience.
On the plus side, gorgeous venue, and it was really great and refreshing to be around people (mostly women that actually dressed-up to go to the theater... they way it always has been.. and should be... (in my opinion).
The script for the show... is ok... good, even. The cast - first rate.
The seats sucked. We were in the "Dress Circle" which is the first level above the main floor. But - way in the back on the theater. What made it worse, is that it was easily 20 to 30 feet underneath the balcony, so your view was clipped at the top, and I could see the very top of the stage. I had no idea that having that clipped effected the way I enjoyed the performance... but it did. I guess I just need to see the whole proscenium, even maybe the ceiling as well, to feel that I was actually in a legitimate theater, instead of a drive-in theater. The audio sucked. It was fine for dialog and solos, but put a full orchestra and full chorus up, and it was mush. Hated the frequency envelope that was used - made the orchestra sound small, canned.
Did I like it? Let me see it again and I'll tell you.
Afterward, in the rain, Carol & I walked around the corner on State Street and caught the end of the 10 o'clock news at Channel 7 (WLS - the local ABC affiliate, where I worked 30 years ago), who has a glassed-in studio right there on State Street underneath and sort of to the side of where the regular studios and offices are at State and Lake.
I even made a prominent spot in the crowd shot at the end of the news!
Monday, January 08, 2007
Philosophical differences of Rock?
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum announced the inductees for 2007.
I've got an issue...
Museum name? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Rock and Roll.
Using that as the MAIN focus... why, oh why are they inducting Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum???????????
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THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES ITS INDUCTEES FOR 2007
January 8, 2007
For Immediate Release:
THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES ITS INDUCTEES FOR 2007
New York -- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation today announces its inductees for 2007. The inductees are:
- Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (Kid Creole, Cowboy, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Mr. Ness, Raheim)
- R.E.M. (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe)
- The Ronettes (Estelle Bennett, Ronnie Spector, Nedra Talley)
- Patti Smith
- Van Halen (Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar, Alex Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth)
The five inductees will be honored at a ceremony on March 12, 2007 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Presenters and performers at the induction will be announced in February, 2007. “We couldn’t be more proud to honor this unique, diverse group of rockers, rappers, singers and poets. This is what rock and roll is all about,” said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President and C.E.O., Joel Peresman.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on March 12, 2007 will also honor Ahmet Ertegun, legendary founder of Atlantic Records. Ertegun, who was a crucial figure in the careers of artists ranging from Ray Charles to Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin, was instrumental in founding and was the Chairman of the Foundation. The Rock Hall Museum in Cleveland’s main exhibit hall is the Ahmet Ertegun Exhibition Hall.
The 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., The Ronettes, Patti Smith and Van Halen were chosen by the 600 voters of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. Artists are eligible for inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after their first recording is released.
In addition to being honored at the ceremony on March 12, 2007, each artist who is inducted is commemorated within the I.M. Pei-designed museum in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame displays the signature of each inductee inscribed in glass. In addition, there is an exhibit of artifacts from this year’s inductees, and a multi-media film presentation with highlights from each artist’s career. The exhibit on this year’s inductees will open in March, 2007 and will run for one year.
For more information, please contact Tristin Aaron, Ken Sunshine Consultants at 212 691 2800.
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Sunday, January 07, 2007
Why do I feel devastated?
I recorded all of the events of my party last night, dinner, cake, gifts.
I transfered the files off my iRiver this morning, and listened to it...
I listened to dead air... hours and hours of dead air... I had cabled the in and out of the mic preamp backward, and it didn't record a single thing.
Even though I wanted to use pieces on my podcast, I really just wanted it for myself... a record of people coming out and being with me, celebrating my birhday...
...and GOD did his hit me hard. Suddenly, the new year felt a thousand times worse... I wanted a copy of a part of my life, and I lost it... and then - I lost it. I actually started to cry... well, bawl actually. It was just another log on the fire... and the sense of loss was just so real to me... a recording of a one-time-only event, never to be reproduced. Gone. Only to be locked away in my brain, as a memory that lately seems to fade all too quickly. Maybe that's why I wanted the recording... a a backup to my failing memory.
It hurts really bad.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Regardless of how this year has started for me, tonight it didn't matter.
We hosted a small party of family and friends at the Weber Grill in Schaumburg. It was wonderful - the food was good, the company was great... Janie & Gary had just come back from their home in Santa Fe which was buried in the same snowstorm that hit Denver... but no one has heard about how bad it was in New Mexico.
We had everyone come over to the house for cake.. (and to open presents, as well). Carol got the cake from Deerfields bakery. It was chocolate with an off-white fronsting... with black pinstripes and the White Sox logo! GREAT GREAT cake... one problem though - we have NO idea what the black frosting is made of, but it stained our teeth.. it stained our skin (and yes - we could not was it off!) and stained our clothes. Gave us a good laugh.
Lots of great presents (mostly new shirts(?!)) and a great gift certificate from my sister Diane - City Segway Tours - Chicago! I get to ride a Segway around the museum campus this summer!!!
It was a monumental birthday for me, and it was wonderful to have people together... for me. It meant an awful lot to me. I don't think anyone really knew, but.. it REALLY touched me, even though it was just a small dinner, and cake, and a few gifts.
Friday, January 05, 2007
I do not like 2007
Every single day this young year has sucked for me... loads of bad luck... the bifold door on our pantry fell off, our nice new-ish gorgeous patio door was dripping water during a rain storm,.. I had a significant birthday (OK, that really shouldn't be a sucky thing), and then i went to my neurologist today as she was giddy that she actually found something in the cerebral spinal fluid they sampled a few weeks ago - now giddy, is not good, it just means that something was found ad so many possibilities exist, and most of them aren't good ,and most of those have some nasty treatments...
Is it too early to want the year to be over?
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I could say that this is going to be the high temperature today, which it is... it's been unseasonably warm for a while, with about a month straight of above average temperatures... No White Christmas for 2006.
I mean... I could say that for today...
...but, no... the 50 is up there for a reason.
Today is my birthday and I turn <shudder> 50 today.
I am no longer in my 40's... now I am viewed as being old. I think I become eligible to join AARP today.
Over the past years, I have actually started to come up against instances of ageism. I have the issue when I'm in Second Life. It doesn't matter which life I'm in, I've seen it and experienced it.
I have to rationalize that - overall - I am happy, and that I'm still alive, without any major medical issues and that I am still working full-time (which, trust me, I wouldn't do if I could find some means of support).
Happy Bitrhday to ME.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
I hung the pictures on the wall tonight.
I had this grandiose plan to put some of the ~40,000 digital photos that I have on a wall in my family room and have it done in time for Thanksgiving. We bought picture frames at Ikea that fit what my design vision. I had mattes cut to fit the frames. Then, as I was just beginning to choose the pictures for the wall my hard drive crashed. It took a while, but I had the drive recovered and I got my photos back. Over the weekend, now that the holidays are just about over, we started the work. I had selected 61 photos. We whittled it down to 30. We started assembling the frames, hanging the picture frame wire (which SUCKS - thank you so very much Ikea), traded the existing 5x5 mattes with my new either 5x7 matte or 4x6 matte, and mounted the photos.
I bought a laser level and marked the wall. What I had hoped to have was 30 photos. They really wouldn't fit in the space available in the wall - we had to cut down to 24. Then I decided a design change, where instead of 3 rows of 8 frames, I decided for 3 rows with 8-7-8 frames, cutting the group down to 23 pictures. It was hard to come up with a final cut, but we did. (oh, and in the process of marking the wall, I dropped the laser level about 5 times, all of them barely missing Indy The Bunny's head, who was crawling around the floor at my feet wanting to know what I was doing. The second to last crash did the level in - it no longer auto levels, and I then just took measurements and manually adjusted the level. I LOVE the laser level! Too bad I broke it...)
The frames we bought are about an 1¾ inches deep, and there are two mounting positions within the frame for the matte - forward against the glass, or back against the back of the frame. i decided to alternate each picture in a row - front, back, front, back... etc So I had to go through the frames and set the spaces for front mount or back mount...
Then Carol cleaned the glass, sealed up the frames, and I hung them on the wall tonight.
A once empty wall now holds 23 pictures of family and friends. It was startling to see this once empty wall now filled with frames and photos.
And now... we're thinking about other walls...
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Rear view mirror
Driving to work this morning... and there's more traffic than the last few weeks.. (duh)... clear skies... sunrise.. low on the horizon...
Nothing I hate more than, as I'm driving, traffic comes to a stop in front of me, I apply the brakes in a safe fashion... and you HAPPEN to glance in the rear view mirror, seeing the car behind you careening toward you... only to have the driver jerk the wheel at the last minute, throwing the car onto the shoulder to avoid plowing into your trunk... because the driver isn't paying attention to the traffic in front of him...
Monday, January 01, 2007
Happy New Year 2007
Hey there everyone... a new year is upon us...
We spent the evening last night at B&B's, with friends... ringing in the New Year... after SUFFERING through watching the Chicago Bears LOSE to the Green Bay Packers... which.. the WHOLE thing, about the NFL MOVING the game from noon to 7pm... on New Year's Eve, causing chaos in homes, restaurants, and bars around Chicagoland, (do you have/go to a party? do you open your business instead for Bears fans to watch the game?)
We watched the local coverage of New Year's celebrations around Chicago, and heckle the people being shown, whether they are the local hosts doing a poor job transitioning from remote to remote... or the choice of clothing that everyone being shown is wearing... and... perhaps the sad state of decent music being played at these venues
So... that was last night.. celebrating with friends...
This morning, it was the Tournament of Roses Parade. We caught the KTLA broadcast in HD on Discovery HD. We normally watch the HGTV coverage, because of the different approach to it (all bout the float decorations and materials), but... it's just damn hard to pass-up HD broadcasts...
And George Lucas as Grand Marshall... an Ewok float... a Naboo float... original costumes from the movies... The Grambling Marching Band dressed in Empire Officers uniforms playing Star Wars music... and 200 marching stormtroopers, in uniform and all variations of them, all of them fans from around the world. Way cool...
Well.. it's way too late in the day 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!")... But.. I wonder what happens on a day like this? I mean.. are we supposed to say "Rabbit, Rabbit!" as our first words after midnight, instead of "Happy New Year"? or... is it the first words to utter after you awake for the day?... I'm so confused...
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The only time of year that I truly enjoy going to work - the week between Christmas and New Year's. There's nobody on the streets on the way to work. There's nobody in the parking garage. There's nobody in the office.There's nobody in their offices calling this office. Quiet. Peaceful. Relaxing.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Merry Christmas everybody!
It's hard to shake the feelings of Christmas Morning.. and the expectations when you were a kid... when you become an adult... and adult with years under your belt... Though you love every gift you get, somehow you feel like you're chasing the elusive excitement and joy of receiving toys as a kid on Christmas morning.
So... this year brought Jackson's first Christmas he could react to (last year, he was 14 weeks old, this year 15½ months). It's great seeing Christmas through his eyes... I can't wait 'till next year when he should be more excited.
An odd Christmas Day for us, part of the odd Christmas season I suppose - Diane, Melinda and Jackson took off after opening presents to drive to Melinda's family in downstate Illinois. The house was empty, except for me, Carol, and my mom. It felt... empty...
...except for my stomach, which feels bloated, tight, and cramping...
Sunday, December 24, 2006
A smaller Eve
We've always celebrated Christmas Eve with our extended family - aunts, uncles, cousins.
This is our first year together where - it's only immediate family. We went to Diane & Melinda's for just a buffet of appetizers, very low key, no present exchanges (that's tomorrow morning).
Still... it felt odd... small... something I wasn't accustomed to... and I'm not sure I like it. I don't see that extended family much,, and I just missed them somehow.
The concept of an appetizer buffet is very bad for me. The appetizers were all setup on an island in the kitchen, and we spent our evening in the back family room.
Me - I spent my time in a continuous slow walk... around and around the island... using just a napkin and no plate, I grazed for what seems like hours, taking a bite here and a piece there... over... and over...
I know I'm going to pay for this somewhere along the line...
Friday, December 22, 2006
I had something happen today, that quite frankly... I'm not comfortable talking about.
Why? Because I can't believe I had this done...
A girl in the office came up to me this afternoon (after I was walking around trying to figure out what a loud noise was that we had heard... it was thunder!). We went into a larger, empty management-size cubicle and she asked me if I was having back problems. I explained my situation.. that for years my legs have been spasming... I had no pain, but the spasms can get severe... and it's not fun trying to drive if your right leg twitches, causing your foot to tromp on the accelerator...
She then told me that she is a practicing healer.. and that she can help me with a "treatment" as a Christmas Present...
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We spent the good part of the next half hour to a nhour with her rubbing her hands together in a circular motion, as if to gather heat and energy.. she would direct her hands at me, occasionally stationary, occasionally sweeping over me as I stood in the cube. She never physically touched me. Yet, I did have sensations of cold, heat, and occasionally a movement somewhere inside of me.
OK, look... she's a very attractive girl, probably the best looking woman in the office. Who wouldn't want to spend private time with her in a cube? But.. this was different... she proceeded to tell me about what she does... and the people that she has helped over the years. How she is trained in 6 of the 9 healing techniques that are used at Children's Memorial Hospital. How the power of prayer works, even long distance over the phone.
I sat down for the last half of the session, and she continued to work on me... standing in front of me, behind me... to the side... she touched me once, to put her hands on my left shoulder to apply downward pressure.
I sat in that chair, one that should have triggered my twitching. It didn't happen. I went back to my cube. My legs were still the rest of the day. As I write this, I haven't even felt the slightest sensation in my legs.
WHAT THE HELL DID SHE DO??? HOW DID SHE DO IT??? WHY AREN'T MY LEGS TWITCHING?
Look.. I'm a geek... I believe in science... what the hell happened? What's going on?
UPDATE: 31 hours. It took 31 hours before I felt the slightest bit of a twitch, and then it was muted, subtle, no where near what I've experienced for years. I have NEVER had a 24 hour period in years without twitching... what is this???
UPDATE: One week later, the twitching has returned, no where near as severe as it has been, no where near as frequent.
She did something to me... what she did, how she affected me, I have no idea. All I know is that she did something and for me there was a change.
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Wednesday, December 20, 2006
...huh?... what did I need to do???
The day after a myelogram, I was told could be hell, because of headaches. I had one last night, but I took Tylenol (not Advil, not aspirin) and it helped.
Today - no headache...
I really feel like I had a side effect. I was loopy - my short-term memory was shot. I couldn't remember things that I neded to do, that I thought about just minutes earlier. Let me give you the final example of the day...
I went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription and I bought 5 containers of Dibbs ice cream nuggets (mmm.. mint... love these things...) I came home, put the Walgreens bag on the counter. The first thing I do when I get home, is bunny-proof the family room and let the "kids" (bunnies) out o fthe cage so they can romp and exercise. I prepped the room, turned on the TV... and went upstairs to sit down at the computer and login to Second Life...
About an hour to hour and a hlaf passes when Carol finally came home, and I can hear her yelling at me downstairs. I cam edown to find 1) the "kids" ar still in the cage - I had prepped the room, but never opened their door to let them out, and more importantly 2) I never put the ice cream away in the freezer - it was still in the bag on the counter.
That's what my whole day was like.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
A needle into the spine...
My little medical journey to finding the reason why my legs twitch changed today from hands-off to my first "invasive" procedure.
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I was downtown at Northwestern's Intervention Radiology department. Radiology? Yep. I had two procedures done - a spinal fluid draw (for testing the fluid) and a myelogram.
It all starts with a lumbar puncture - inserting a needle into the spinal canal. Yep. Needle. Into the spine. So, do do it accurately and hopefully pain-free, not to mention avoiding having to re-stick you, the insertion is done under the guidance of using a fluoroscope. I was face down on a table, with a doctor, nurse, and tech (an all female crew!) working on me. The worse thing was the local anesthetic. THAT hurt. After that, though, I didn't feel a single thing. So, they drew a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. That takes some time, since, it's not really drawn, but the container fills by itself i gathered. When the fluid flow slowed down, the table I was on tilts, so I was tilted onto my feet to get the fluid to flow better! When that was done, they injected a contrast dye into the spinal canal. The sensation was of cold filling your spine - a VERY weird feeling. Obviously, the sensation was confined to the spine, unlike contrast dyes that are used for MRI/CT scans, where they are injected intravenously the sensation being heat and it radiates through your body as it follows the arterial blood system.
The doctor was quiet, professional, and quick. When she was done, the nurse and tech took over to produce about a dozen reference xrays of my spine using the fluoroscope system, which required a bunch or table tilts and contortionist positions for me to flip into. The only almost-accidents that almost happened were due to... umm... the oversized parts of my body - my shoulders (I have really broad shoulders, even for somebody not as short as I am, so when I lay on my side, I'm a bit "taller" than regular-sized people) and my nose (yes, it's a bit oversized) and they tech didn't look when she swung the emitter around.
Then I had to roll onto my hospital bed and they wheeled me back to Intervention Radiology. Not the only time I had to roll. When back in my curtained space, somebody came to draw some blood. That's when I realized that I was in for some bad time. I was starting my stay in a hospital bed - flat on my back (well, I don't have to be on my back, but have to be flat - head even with feet. For THREE HOURS. Then.. it started. My legs started to twitch. it started pretty suddenly, and the twitches were severe
I was wheeled in for a CT scan (hence the spinal contrast dye) and I had to roll off my bed onto the scanner table. Found out something i didn't know about the GE Lightspeed CT Scanner - the scanner can tilt! Very scary to see this massive thing tilt. the tech put a cushion under my legs and taped them down to try to dampen the twitches. It was TERRIBLE. But, somehow, she was able to get shots that weren't blurred.
When I was done, I was told I could crawl back onto the hospital bed. Wait.. I could crawl? Why did I have to roll before? It turns out that they have you roll - to mix the dye in the spinal column!!! I was taken back to another curtained area and that's where i stayed until I was released. Carol was able to be with me when I was back in the curtained areas, which I was thankful for, because i was a mess. The twitching was worse, and I was so uncomfortable having to have my head flat against the bed. I was able to get a nurse to get me a folded-up blanket to put under my head. That half-inc to inch of material was just enough to change the way my head felt, and still kept it flat.
We had arrived at the hospital at 10am for a 10:30 appointment. The lumbar puncture was over by noon, the CT scan done by 1pm. I am flat on my back... and realize it's been 19 hours since I had something to eat. And I can't eat on my back. The next two hours were hell, and passed slowly.
When I was sprung at 3pm, we went directly to the cafeteria.. and I chowed-down (Carol had eaten when I was having the procedure done)
Then, I drove us home. 4pm. Rush hour. Downtown Chicago to the NW suburbs) my twitching was terrible.. I had started to feel bad, all because of me not eating. I pulled-over at the Des Plaines Oasis and we changed duties, with Carol driving the rest of the way home. When we got there, I went to bed for about an hour. I felt bad. It wasn't until about 9pm that I started to felt slightly better.
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Thursday, December 14, 2006
Super Bowl Mumble
The Bears advancing into the NFL playoffs has got the city all giddy again. Chicago Magazine has posted the lyrics and a video for "The Super Bowl Mumble," this year's "smash-hit update" of the now famous (in Chicago anyway) "Super Bowl Shuffle."
Oh, yeah... not to mention that at the beginning of Monday Night's Bears game, Senator Barack Obama came on to address viewers
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Huge steaming piles of... snow?
I had a doctor's appointment over lunch today, and it was just a short ride from my office.
I was driving down the road next to the WGN radio tower, when I noticed something I have never seen before.
There were large piles of snow along the banks of the road. They appeared to be steaming.
The weather has been so strange, with the temperatures in the 50's, that the cold piles of snow were generating a local fog (hence, the appearance of "steam"), that would roll off and collect on the road.
This weather is just out of control - It's supposed to be warm until Christmas, negating a possibility of a White Christmas.
Friday, December 08, 2006
It's been bitterly cold recently... in the teens and single digits overnight... and yet we wound up traveling to Zanies in St. Charles (at Pheasant Run) to catch a comedian/story teller/great guy that we saw last May, TV's Craig Ferguson.
He was in-town to do 3 nights, one at each Zanies (Chicago last night, St. Charles tonight, and Vernon Hills tomorrow night).
He seemed to enjoy Chicago back in May... this time: not so much...
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How Craig opened the show:
I am SO glad to be here, I cannot tell you... I don't mean St. Charles, I mean here, in the warm. Here...
I don't know you are still alive... any of you!
I never experienced anything like this in my... I KNOW cold! I nver been around anything like this in my LIFE!
I KNOW what cold is! I was married to a Scottish woman! I KNOW COLD!
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Mashups are all the rage... audio or video...
Now, what would happen if...
Mary Poppins was recut into a horror movie???
Friday, December 01, 2006
One week of above average temperatures, in the 60's... and overnight all hell broke loose.
We're getting hit HARD with a snow storm in the northwest suburbs. We've got about 6 inches of snow, that has sleet buried underneath (probably a few inches). The street looks like it was plowed hours ago. It didn't start snowing until after 11pm last night. I was worried that I wouldn't get out of the driveway, but I plowed through it (of course, the garage door didn't close, probably because of snow falling underneath the door and the door couldn't hit the floor.
The drive was slow, but not treacherous. The snow was coming down so hard that the rear defroster couldn't melt it, and the windshield wipers couldn't keep the window clean.
The commute was just under an hour (it's normally 15-20 minutes). The garage at work was empty. So is the office itself. There are a handful of people here. Quiet.
They're expecting another 6 inches by this afternoon (whoever "they" are...)
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.
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???
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.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
This year's count: 57
We always keep paper and a pen at the door to tally the Trick-or-Treat'ers.
Today, it was sunny, but the temperatures went from 62 degrees down to 44 by the time the kids showed-up. Speaking of which, the first ones came to the door at 4:52, which seemed late to me. It was barely still light out (wonder how the new daylight Saving is going to fix that next year).
I was disappointed... hardly any inspired costumes, just your run-of-the-mill football player (Go Bears!), LaCrosse player (OK, that was a little surprising), cheerleader, princess, and only one Captain Jack Sparrow, that was an older teen-ager.
Today's count: 57
We took count the years before, but never kept the information - 2002 was the first year I had my blog up and running (I know one year was over 100).
Not as impressive as you may think
Saw a photo set at Flickr or the annual ILM-Lucasfilm-LucasArts Halloween Party.
Not as impressive as I would have hoped. Now, don't get me wrong, there are one or two costumes that are pretty inspired... but it just looks like a "normal" (yeah, like there's a normal one) Halloween Party.
But... you have to like the Trojan Rabbit complete with a some Monty Python Holy Grail knights inside (apparently, this won Best Costume of the night). The runner's up, or honerable mention,or.. whatever went to a Marie Antoinette (decked-out in all handmade clothing and wig), a digital camera that took real images (complete with tourist hanging onto the strap) and (you gotta love this) a Wack-A-Mole with companion walking mallet)
(In case you don't look at the photo set, you'll miss not only those costumes, but also Bride of Frankenstein, a Stick Man, the Stephen Colbert Greenscreen Challenge, Britney Spears (which actually looks pretty good/accurate), K-Fed, a cardboard stormtrooper (finally! A Lucas-tie-in), Chinese Take out, a sugar glider (what? You don't listen to Dawn and Drew?), some Katamari Damacy characters, an R2 unit with an oompa loompa, a Deviled Egg, replica ILM Security Badges, the Starbucks mermaid and (yawn) Spiderman, A burrito (looks like Chipotle), characters from Serenity (!), a chef, an attempt at Lucille Ball , A real stormtrooper (as opposed to cardboard), Flavor Flav (oh, God), ... even Borat showed up.)
Monday, October 30, 2006
I love/hate my phone
I bought a new cell phone back on the 11th - a Palm® Treo™ 700wx with Windows Mobile 5.0, not Palm OS. I love this thing. It's come in handy. having access to email, my contacts and calendar, even the Internet.
So, this morning, I noticed that it was acting really sluggish... it would take many seconds to delete an incoming email. Then, I couldn't delete the email before by the time the phone turned off from not being used. Then I couldn't turn the phone off/on. I pulled the battery, and the unit would just boot to the Palm splash screen. I tried hard reset. Nothing. No change.
It had been under 30 days since I purchased it, so I went back to the store tonight. The same guy that sold me the phone waited on me. I went to the store with just the phone, in an attempt to just say "Phone broke - fix", but the "tech" had gone for the day. Will told me if I had the box, they'd just swap the phone.
I left, drove all the way home, gathered the box, cables, software and a receipt and drove back to the store.
Will had already pulled a box from inventory, and we started processing the work order/exchange. that's when we found out that the phone was already on someone's account, as a defective phone, and that was the last phone they had. So, he called another store in the area. They didn't have the phone. He called another store and they had one, so I had to drive a while to get to the store.
So, I have a new phone, now covered under an insurance plan so that I can get a replacement/repair after my 30 days are up. After having the phone die, and going to a store that had another defective phone, I'm not feeling comfortable with the hardware, though I really do like it, so... I might as well be prepared for another excursion in the future.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Last time we save time in October
So, we did the annual Fall Back thing at 2am this morning. We forgot to change any clock in the house before we went to bed.
Now, starting next year, the whole Daylight Saving (yes, it's Saving not Savings) rules change next year.
It used to be the first Sunday of April to the last Sunday of October. Starting next year it's the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.
Of course, this is somehow supposed to save energy. I think it's a conspiracy with the Candy Companies, so there's more light when kids go Trick-or-Treating.
Now, how much software and firmware has to be changed to accommodate this? I know Windows does the adjustment automagically at the correct times, so some fix has to be out in for that change, but what about other things, like VCR's? Automated thermostats? Think about the items that you don't have to touch when the time changes... all of them won't change correctly starting next year...
Saturday, October 28, 2006
W had B&B come out to the house just to hang out... it's been a while since they've been out. It's a windy day outside - High Winds Warning all day, though it's sunny and chilly... we've been averaging about 10 degrees cooler than what the average for the day. Carol cooked a pork roast, that was cooked over a bed of root vegetables, and we had egg noddles and corn... it actually turned out really well. We hung out and checked out a movie that we've never seen before - Inside Man, a better movie than we had thought.
We love having them out here..
Monday, October 23, 2006
Taking a header - Part II
Today was the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, and was won by Robert Cheruiyot from Kenya in 2:07:35. It was lousy weather - temperatures hovered around 40 degrees, but the wind gusted to over 20 m.p.h. (so there was a typical Chicago Wind Chill) and it misted on and off...
... affecting the runner's footing.
Sure enough, as Cheruiyot reached the finish line, he thrust out his right arm and briefly wagged a finger signaling that he was No. 1, spread both arms wide and seemed to lean back. His foot stepped on a race decal, skidded and went down on the red finish mat, hitting the asphalt hard while sliding forward across the line. He never broke the tape, but tapes are ceremonial, and his body crossed the line.
So he celebrated in the hospital with minor bleeding on the surface of his brain, and he has also been told to rest for up to three months to give the brain time to heal.
According to a spokesperson, the decal is made of non-skid, non-slip material and is designed specifically for outdoor sports in all-weather conditions.
Ummm.. guess not.
Taking a header - Part I
About 1 o'clock this morning, I woke up, having to go to the bathroom. No big deal, this is what my life has been for the past couple of years.
I rolled out of bed, placed my feet on the floor, and then...
I never had my balance when I rolled out of bed. I was never dizzy, no sense of vertigo. My legs seemed to support me, but I must have planted my feet waaaayyyy off balance...
..and collapsed into my nightstand, tipping it, sending things to the floor, including myself, and along the way scaring the hell out of Carol who was silently asleep (at least, I think she was silent).
I was awake, but I just remember realizing my body isn't in the position that I think it is just before I crashed. So, I wasn't dizzy, but maybe this is vertigo?
I've been unsteady on my feet for the last few years, and, come to think of it, I've had this sensation MANY times before,where I'm not where I think I am. When that happens, I'm not dizzy, it's almost like a type of disconnect when I finally realize "Hey! I'm not supposed to be here!" and then try to compensate.
Even though I am frequently off-kilter, I have never lost my balance and fallen.. up until this morning. But, take it with a grain of salt.. .I had been sleeping, and was barely awake when I rolled out of bed. (It's not like I rolled out of bed onto the floor either... I had swung my legs underneath me... I just never got vertical.
I think I'll partially blame that new 4-inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper... making the bed too tall to easily get in and out of for us Height Challenged individuals.
Gotta blame someone.. or something...
Friday, October 13, 2006
Friday the 13th.
So far, the world hasn't exploded/imploded, and in general, doesn't seem any stranger today than yesterday.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Too early for this...
I'm at work. In my cube. yes, actually working.
Pam - my next door cube neighbor - is suddenly hanging over the wall between the cubes, and says "Michael... look".
I stood up... looked out the window across the floor from us... to see...
SNOW. BLOWING SIDEWAYS left to right. I went to the window... looked down and saw the snow accumulating on the grass, the bushes, the trees, lamp posts...
Holy crap, it's actually snowing... sideways....
NOOOOOooooooo!!!!!! I'm not ready for this!!!!!!
Update: O'Hare registered 0.3" of snow - a record earliest snowfall
Saturday, October 07, 2006
The best day outside
Today was the day.
Today was the day where it was warm (70's), sunny, not a cloud in the sky...
... when the leaves have all changed, and they're all still on the trees. Color everywhere. Gorgeous. It'll probably all be gone by the end of the week, so today was the day to be outside and pay attention to the color all around you.
Autumn is here (baseball is over - at least for me - , so I can finally talk about this), and the temperatures haven't plumeted... so today is just a perfect day.
Monday, October 02, 2006
A fall storm?
Huge huge huge thunderstorms going through the area tonight. We had a power blip that wasn't long, but, damn, there was lightning and thunder. It's also pretty warm, so this is like a late summer thunderstorm... in autumn.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Back to civilization
Just got back from our Annual "Away Team" trip to little LaValle, Wisconsin with Barry and Joe to what is now John's permanent home.
Man.. .I guess I'm just a City Boy at heart... that's just WAY too far off the grid for my comfort. I mean, I had no cell service the entire time I was up there... good ol' Spring just didn't have the coverage.
Late yesterday afternoon, we were on the deck, overlooking the lake, eating some salmon fillets that John had smoked... just watching life on the lake pass by.
We did that for two hours. Maybe more. I couldn't tell. I just watched and ate and watched... and time just passed... so relaxing, and yet not boring.
I guess that was the whole weekend... relaxing and not boring. Good to get away every once in a while to do this.
And... I blew the whole "Rabbit, Rabbit" meme thing, along with "White Rabbit" or Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! today... just too relaxed.. and, being away from home, you kind of forget things...
Friday, September 29, 2006
Terror in a small town
Our buddy John (the guy that retired a few months ago) lives in a small town in Wisconsin called LaValle.
6½ miles to the southwest, is a small town called Cazenovia that we've driven through a few times, even when we were up there back in July.
Just over the wires is a story about a kid (15 years old) that shot and killed his High School Principal today, the day of their Homecoming.
Update: We found out after we got up here that another kid from the high school was killed in a car wreck 15 minutes before the shooting. The two things weren't related - this kid was running from a police traffic stop, lot control of his vehicle, ran into a ditch and flipped the car a few times. His passenger wasn't hurt - he was wearing a seatbelt, the driver wasn't.
This is going to send small town, rural America into a turmoil up there... and we're on our way up tonight...
Friday, September 22, 2006
What the hell was that?
The tornado sirens went off, which is startling because they're about a block away, so they're pretty friggin' loud.
Jeez did it rain.. I think I heard it was up to 2" an hour. Schaumburg police are reporting rotation in the clouds (hence, the reason for the sirens). Man... hardly any wind... but jeez did it come down...
There's no debris anywhere... just rivers of water rushing down the streets. I have standing water on my lawn.
This was bad... I really feel like we dodged a bullet.
And to top it all off - we're just hours away from the Autumnal Equinox - the beginning of Fall...
Homes have more TVs than people
OK. Example: Our house:
Number of Occupants - 2 (well, 2 human, 2 rabbit)
Number of TV's: 4
Researchers: Homes have more TVs than people
Thursday, September 21, 2006
What the hell is this?
Just got home from Midway Airport... ready to go to sleep...
We've just returned from Las Vegas where we've been for a couple of days...
We left, and the temperatures were going to be in the low 90's yesterday.
We got off the plane, and the temperatures are almost in the high 40's.
SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM - not ready for the... "absence"... of summer...
Friday, September 08, 2006
To Boldly Go... 40 Years Ago
Where were you 40 years ago tonight?
Sitting in front of your TV?
Star Trek premiered on NBC 40 years ago tonight, on September 8, 1966
Take a moment and stop to think... How many thing has Star Trek, its 4 spin-off television programs, its 10 motion pictures, its thousands of novels and millions of fans have affected every day life... whether you have noticed or not... whether you liked it or not.
Monday, September 04, 2006
A popular day for birthdays for us!
Happy Birthday to my sister Diane!
Happy Birhday to my buddy Barry!
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Beers, dogs, and friends
Labor Day Weekend - the traditional end of summer.
Time to spend it with friends. Went to B&B's for the day. We were all going next door to Kenny & Pat's for a barbecue. Debbie came over. And then - before we went next door - Diane and Melinda brought Jackson over, so B&B could finally meet him before he turned one years old. Jackson was a big hit. It was a great visit. We went next door, sat outside in the backyard, I had a couple of beers (!) and we had some hotdogs from Falatic's Meat Market in Michigan.
Celebrate the "End of Summer"... a time that came and went too quickly.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Rabbit Rabbit? SCREW THAT TODAY...
This is where I usually post the "Rabbit, Rabbit" meme thing, along with "White Rabbit" or Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!.
DON'T HAVE ANY.
I have a back hoe sitting in the middle of my front yard.
I the middle of the Most Perfect Lawn I have ever had. In the 22 years we've been here, the lawn has never never never looked this good.
Now I have a back hoe as a lawn ornament.
I blogged about this once, but it's been happening every once in a while ever since.
Today, it pushed us over the edge. Anytime we took a shower, flushed a toilet.. the drain in the utility room backed-up, flooding the room. And this time, it just wasn't a little. Carol called the plumbers that we have use before, had them come out on an emergency.
We have a blockage. In the sewer line. It has to be dug-up and fixed (hence, the back hoe). We were lucky in the respect that - YAY! - they didn't have to tear-up the lawn. They tore-up our landscaping that my sister Diane slaved over. So now... the plumbers got enough of the work done so that we could use water in the house. Emergency Call fee? $850. But they have to come back Tuesday to do the rest of the work.
The back hoe is staying on my lawn until Tuesday. Burning out the lawn.
The cost of the whole sewer replacement? Just under $7,000!
Then I got a weird call at work yesterday just before I was leaving. A doctor's office called, telling me that the doctor needed see today.
I found out that this is the doctor that reviewed the results of my sleep study. And I was upset that - without knowing anything - that this doctor wanted to see me that quickly.
So, I went to the doctors. What a great facility. Big. What a great staff. Here's a few tidbits from the sleep study: I have significant sleep apnea - 90 events an hour. My blood oxygen level - which should normally be in the 90% range, drops and stays in the 70% range overnight. I am oxygen starved, screwing up my brain and organs. I need a CPAP machine, I need it now, and I need to get this under control and breathe normally overnight. The doctor and nurses all seamed really concerned when they saw the results.
I now have a prescription for Flonase and a loaner CPAP machine (until I get clearance from the insurance company and I'll get my own). I have to start using it right away with the mask tat I have from the sleep study.
And probably use this every night for the rest of my life.
The third thing that happened today, and perhaps the saddest, is about Diane's beagle Chelsea. All of us love this dog. But she's 12 years old, and has had a major problem develop that required Diane to take her in to the Vet...
Chelsea has some form of a very aggressive cancer... and the vet gives her about 6-8 weeks. If she got chemo, she would probably have 6-8 months.
This is going to devastating to a lot of us... Chelsea has been a major part of our family and has a place deep in our hearts.
So, screw any lucky "Rabbit, Rabbit" crap.
Welcome to September.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
the weather - in my opinion - has been great lately. After such a friggin' hot heat wave, the temperatures have been cooler that the average temperature for that day. It's been around 75 degrees (average is supposed to be 80).. and you know? 75 - in my opinion - is perfect. 75 and sunny. Perfect temperature. Perfect environment.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Indication of the beginning of the end
I left the house this morning and saw something that I didn't realized i hadn't seen in a few months... kids waiting for a school bus.
All over the neighborhood.
That - to me - signals the beginning of the end of summer.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Spent the weekend at my sister Diane's house up in Michigan with B&B.
We left on Saturday morning, drove up to Harbert, stopped at Falatic's Meat Market (butcher.. for meats for our meals, since Carol shopped for other groceries on Friday and packed them into the VERY crowded trunk)
The weather wasn't great when we got there.. we were there early enough for pool-time, but no sun.. and it had been raining, so we went to Redamak's for lunch. Took off for Indiana.. stopping first at Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets mall for Buff to do some quick shopping, then over to Blue Chip Casino, where I sat down and played Blackjack for the first time since... well, first time this decade, I think...
Had a Prime Rib dinner at Skip's. Crashed at home, pool the next day with fresh chicken brats and hotdogs. B&B took the car and went to New Buffalo to get some fresh corn on the cob for dinner and some Sweet Baby ray's barbecue sauce... for the ribs that Barry prepared for dinner. Great meats, great cooking, great meals, great company.
Today, B&B took the car and went back to Lighthouse and Blue Chip, Carol bobbed in the pool and I did some podcasting.
The drive home late this afternoon was a breeze, with the exception of the hour we spent on Lake Shore Drive from Soldier Field north.
We love going up there just to "get away"... and we acually travel well together...
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Eewwww... I didn't need to see that...
Why the hell am I even sharing this with you?
Just went into the men's room at work...
and it looked like... someone... didn't make it to the urinals in time....
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Broke down and ordered a new Dell to replace the old machine. I REALLY didn't want to do this, but I don't have a choice. It's doesn't even boot anymore... it would show the Safe Boot menu and then.. never boot. Now, it's not even getting that far. New machine doesn't ship until next Wednesday.
I HOPE TO GOD THE DRIVES ARE STILL OK.. OH, PLEASE LET THEM BE OK...
Monday, August 07, 2006
The total costs of car repair - $2,134.
OK, that wasn't just to fix the electrical problem..
The alternator had a bad diode that charged the battery - sometime. OK, that needed replacing. That fixes Saturday's problem.
I complained about road noise coming from the rear. Well, yeah.. the tires are cutup and cupped and have tread issues... OK, new set of tires
Well.. why did the tires degrade? Well, the rear struts were worn and shot. Replace the rear struts.
Braking seems week? Yep... rotors are fine.. but needs brakes both front and rear. Replace brakes.
Original belts on the car? Well, we're replacing the alternator so... replace belts.
$2,134 later, I have a car that rides better and quieter.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Not moving it
Carol and Diane were coming back home today, and I was to meet them at my mom's house.
I started to think about this as the time came closer to me leaving. I was totally ignoring the sick car in the garage. I started to think about the car - if it starts - dieing again, God knows where, on the way into Chicago, or in-town... I realized that this is a stupid thing to do.
So.. I talk to Carol for the first time... fill her in... talk to my mom, and let her know... then Carol calls back saying she doesn't want to go to my mom's, then... so I call my mom and let her know about Carol... and then my sister calls and YELLS AND BERATES ME about how I should have made the decision earlier and then if both Carol & I would go to my mom's, then she would have just stayed in Michigan (like I knew that was an option)
This weekend had all the earmarkings to be good... and turned into a private hell...
Saturday, August 05, 2006
I had a wonderful day, just goofing off, copying some things off of TiVo, exploring and playing in Second Life...
Then dinner time rolled along.. and passed... and I got hungry and I jumped into the car and drove to Portillo's to grab an Italian beef.
It was a gorgeous night, had the window open, and I pulled into the drive-thru. As usual, the place was hopping, so they had guys outside taking the orders and delivering food to the cars to help expedite the process.
A guy comes over and I complete step one of the process - give him the order, and in-turn radio's the order inside. He walks away to process other cars.
I'm sitting there, listening to the radio...
when I look down and see my ABS light go on.. I panic, yell "NOOO!!!" and start playing with the brake pedal.. I don't need brake problems now...
And then I realize... my tachometer is at zero. The car had died. No noise, no rumble, ... it just faded away. I never heard it.
I turn the key, only to hear "click...click...click...click"
Dead battery. WTF?
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I see the guy walking down the line again, to service the cars behind me. Well, as the line moved, two guys working the line (the order guy and the money guy) push my dead car along... until we get close to the building where a second lane exists. Directly in front of that second lane - in the distance - an aisle and a parking space directly ahead. the guys start pushing and get up a good head of steam...and I roll past the other line of cars and stop in the parking space.
I try the key again. "rrr.... rrrrrrrr....click...click...click...click"
I grab my beef sandwich and go inside to get a drink and sit down to eat dinner. There was almost enough power to get the engine to turn over. Maybe the battery will recover enough after I eat.
I called Sprint 411 from my cell phone and got the number of a towing service in the area that they connected me to and even Text Messaged the name and phone number to my cell. The guy on the phone says it's probably the alternator.
He shows up 20 minutes later, jumps the car which turns over effortlessly, and I drive home... with the tow truck right behind me... just in case.
I made it into my garage... my lights never dimmed along the way. No electrical issues whatsoever.
Cost of the tow - $50.
I no longer like my weekend.
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Friday, August 04, 2006
Not as much fun as I had hoped...
I was hoping to have more fun than this at home...
My computer has been Blue Screen-ing. The old BSOD. It's not software. It's not a driver.
I can't keep the machine up and running for more than a few minutes at a time.
This could get expensive...
Thursday, August 03, 2006
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this time of year!
Carol took off for my sister Diane's house in Michigan this afternoon for the Annual Summer "Club" function with the ladies... and isn't coming back until Sunday!!!!
I'm alone for the weekend!!!! YES!!!!!
Monday, July 31, 2006
Heat and Water
Friggin' oppressive heat over the Chicago Area... over the United States.. hell, Europe has it as well... WTF?
I have been REALLY lucky so far... we've had some really nice sized thunderstorms rolling through the neighborhood every other day or so... until recently.
I've avoided watering our plants.. can't avoid it any longer...
So.. since I spend no time around the outside of our house, I was shocked and appalled to find out something going on.
We had to get a new lawn mowing service this year, because the one we've used had to close down.. due to some family thing...
So our new guys are.. well, OK. Not stellar, but OK.
I left the hose out behind the house for at least the last month, maybe longer... like I said, it's been a while since I last watered. The hose is on one of those plastic hose mobile cart things. Just siting there.
So I go out there and start unwinding the hose... and I'm HORRIFIED to find out that the lawn crew... has never touched the hose mobile when they cut the grass. They NEVER MOVED IT. The grass under the hose mobile was over a foot tall. So I moved the damn hose mobile, forcing these idiots to cut the damn grass!!! The feed hose that goes to the cart was buried in the grass and I had to rip it out of the grass clump to move the cart!
Saturday, July 29, 2006
The White Sox threw a party for season ticket holders today (actually, on Thursday and Friday, too). They used to do this almost every year. They suspended this or a few years, because the park had renovations being done, almost year long. Now, that the season ticket base has grown so dramatically, the team decided to throw another party.
I LOVE these things. There's something special about being in the park - when the team isn't there playing ball. I took my buddy Barry to share this unusual event.
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We're in the middle of this god awful heat spell, so the first thing we did was get wristbands to be allowed out onto the field. HUH? Yes, we were allowed to walk out onto the field...
You know how special it is to walk out onto center field of a major league ballpark? Feel the unbelievable grass at your feet.. level... no holes... no weeds... look around and get an idea on how much room a centerfielder has to cover..
We strolled around the field... went into the Sox bullpen, both the dugout and mounds... then off to the Sox dugout... the phones were live.. if you opened-up the box and pulled the phone off-hook, the opposite phone (bullpen-Dugout) would ring automatically... we walked to the visitor's dugout... watched people playing catch in the outfield... we stopped to watch a woman throwing to.. her husband? no arc to her throws, good mechanics, zip on the ball.. she's played... we lapped the field... and we went inside to get something cold to drink in the patio area...we made a mistake by not getting any of the free food (chicken, ribs, dogs, burgers, potato salad, cole slaw)... we walked the tunnel underneath the stands and visited the Visitor's Clubhouse.. looked at the lockers, and ALL OF THE SNACKS AND DRINKS... we walked across the tunnel to the Conference Center, the big conference room still setup for a Post-Game Press Conference... and then we checked out the Scout Seats food and beverage café (REALLY nice)... then we went out of the tunnel, walked up a ramp, onto the main concourse of the park, where we waited.. and waited.. and waited in the heat (no breeze, but no sun either) to look at and get our pictures taken with the World Series Trophy.
That was long and draining for me.. let alone barry, who is still not up to 100% healthy. We walked the outfield concourse.. and got to Fundamentals, which was open. Barry didn't feel comfortable climbing all of those stars, so I went up alone, and saw the batting cages, pitching cages, training field, and the Scott Podsedik Run.
I came back down, we walked into the Patio area for lunch and.. NO FOOD. They had shutdown for the day... we were able to get a cold drink..
It really felt special to be there again. I miss the park. I know I'm there each weekend, but this is sooo much more special.
It makes you feel special.
So.. we left the park.. hungry.. with nothing to do.. so.. we went to Horseshoe to gamble for a couple of hours!
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Friday, July 28, 2006
This Batty Heat
OK.. so.. I KNOW it's summer... I KNOW it's supposed to be hot...
But this is rediculous... nationwide record heat? Europe?
A week at a time? And then, another week? Another week in the 90's? Hear index over 105?
And then, on TV this morning, hear that in Sacremento, bats are falling out of trees because of heat and dehydration.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Hurdle to Bed
Our friends B&B told us about this mattress cover they got from Overstock.com. The love it. We tested it on their bed and loved it - reminded us of the mattress at the Venetian. So I went online and ordered a Serta® Ultimate 4-inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper and it showed up yesterday. It came in this little box, all 37 pounds of it. So, we found out that we have to unroll it and let it air out. No way the size of the roll is a full-size bed mattress topper.
So we unroll it and unfold it on top of our bed and... sure enough it's the right size... and within seconds, any creases and folds are gone.
Now... it's becoming clear... we have a more significant problem...
Box spring... mattress.. new 4 inches of foam...
We're short, and the top of the bed is now belt high. How are we going to get in at night?
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Maybe on the right path?
I finally had an appointment with a neurologist today. It has been months and months, and because I was a new patient, this was the first opening I could get.
So.. it's the same thing.. "I don't know"... because like all my problems and all my doctors, it's all the same.. "I don't know".. and whatever I have, it doesn't "fit" with test/scan results.
But, now with her, it's like.. OK, let's go down this path and start eliminating. I have another series of blood tests to take.. eliminating Vitamin deficiency, Lyme Disease.. stuff like that..
Oh, and she wants me to go in for a sleep study... my fatigue, coordination issues... it all fits sleep apnia... along with - believe it or not - high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
I feel comfortable with her.. great attitude... I think maybe, SOMEDAY, we'll figure this out.
Monday, July 24, 2006
I don't know how a woman, who is CLEARLY intolerant of heat, has been driving around in an SUV that doesn't have working air conditioning during the oppressive heat wave (that may be rearing its ugly head again this week).
We brought her truck in to get serviced today (along with, oh, a RECALL that had to get fixed).
She should feel better now. At least while she's driving.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
myesetrdamy, I accidenallmy spilled mmy Diet Pepsi all ovtetr mmy desk. MUnftotrmunatelmy, I gtot a little on mmy laptop keyboatrd, and now... well, you can see that I'm gtettingt extra key ptresses. I can't logtin because I'm gtettingt invtalid passwotrds.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Back from the weekend
Just got back from a weekend trip to the small-town America, central Wisconsin style.
Carol and I along with Barry & Buffy traveled almost 200 miles to a small town called laValle - population 329 - in south central Wisconsin
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Our friend and former co-worker that retired recently (that Barry & I went to his retirement party recently) and there was another party for him, this time for friends and family, at the house he's retiring to in Wisconsin - 200 miles away in LaValle.
We left Saturday morning, drove to Rockford and had breakfast at Cracker Barrel. We drove up and stopped 19 miiles short in Reedsburg to check into a motel (Super 8! Free wireless internet! (yeah, try getting a good DNS) more friggin' channels on the Tv than any other hotel I've stayed in anywhere!) and then drove to the house.
Life is different up here. This is small town America. There is NOTHING here for miles. No cell service! NOTHING here. John lives on a man-made lake and we were hoping that somehow it would be cooler there... WRONG..
It's a scorcher - high humidiy, 97 degrees on the sign at the bank in town. John was genuinely srprised at all of us that came up to visit and party. We stayed about three hours... outside the whole time (in the shade).
We left, drove into Reedsburg and got some ice cream, in enough time to go to the movie theater to catch Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. (really enjoyable). Drove through the drive through at the mcDonald's across the parking lot from the hotel and retired for the night.
This morning, we drove back to LaValle to eat breakfast at Granny's (a tradition). and we took off afterward.
We stopped at the Ho Chunk casino so Barry and Carol could play some blackjack. THen, we were off... Carol drove most of the way, thank God... the traffic was terrible. we had multiple areas that we were STOPPED on the tollway. It was a full hour longer to get home trhan to get up there.
All-in-all, a great weekend. The 4 of us seem to travel well together.
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Friday, July 14, 2006
Hardly anything to say
I feel I've hit the summer doldrums... nothing much going on, every thing the same... why write about it?
We at the beginning of a real significant het spell that will last a week. Temperatures in the mid to upper 90's... high humidity. Heat index 105 and above.
Tomorrow B&B and the two of us drive up to Wisconsin for the weekend.. more on that some other time...
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
This is NOT NOT NOT the best time of yesr driving to work in the morning.
Actually, it's not he drive to work. It's not the parking in the parking garage.
It's walking from the car to the building.
In the humidity. If there's heat, God help us.
We're downwind of a waste treatment plant. Human waiste treatment plant. Vile. Nausiating. Disgusting.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
MY DAY OF FIRSTS
OK, I'm thinking of posting this entry later, sometime after I can tell my family about what happened today before they read it here first.
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I don't want to spend a lot of time on this... since I'm tired and it's been a long day...
Around noon today, I ate a Cobb Salad from White Hen. Around 1:45, I had to go.. to the bathroom. Things were moving around inside, and I had to... ummmm... get rid of the salad... so I was off to the bathroom...
While there, this WAVE of nausea came over me, and a pretty good pain - belt high on my left side. I was getting sweaty... but I had a teleconference at 2pm, so I... ummmm... finished up as much as I could and got back to my desk...
I was feeling worse... tingly.. sweaty... lightheaded... the pain, like a cramp, was barely subsiding... The telecon was over and I put my head down on my desk...
The next thing I knew, Pam in the next cube was calling my name.. I was OFF off my chair, kneeling at my desk.. feeling TERRIBLE... she looked at me.. I guess I was pale white and my arms were glistening in sweat... Pam got on the phone and started calling 911.
Yep - it was 2:30 and a Schaumburg Engine showed-up (they were close by) and started assessing my situation... which was getting better... the nausea was subsiding... the disconnected-ness was gone... my hands slightly tingled.. and - most importantly - the pain was subsiding.
The paramedics showed in in my cube with a gurney... so at 2:45, i was being hauled out of my cube on a gurney, being taken to a local hospital. At this point I didn't know why, because all of my symptoms eased and vanished - no pain, no nausea...
It was a REAL TRIP getting wheeled-out through your office area. It's hard to say "hi" to people as you're being wheeled-out. I mean, I was waving to people, joking about the White Sox... I mean, I felt fine... Security people holding doors... cafeteria people in the lobby saying "good luck".. WEIRD
the got me outside... in the rain. Strapped to a gurney in the rain. Had to joke about that with the guys..
So.. it was time for MY FIRST AMBULANCE RIDE. Somewhere along the way, I remembered my digital camera in my pocket (I DON'T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT IT).. So I took a few P.O.V. pictures from the gurney for the blog... and then one of the paramedics offered to take my picture!!! (that's also included in this post)
You see? I felt fine! I have the picture to prove it!
We got to the hospital a little too quickly.. they were still on the radio with the hospital when they where backing into the bay... they wheeled me into the E.R... and since I was feeling SOooo good, i had to get off the gurney and walk into the Waiting Room and get triaged just like anybody else off the street.
Carol showed up about a half hour later.. ( I had called her earlier from my office to let her know what was going on). I was finally in an E.R. bed after about an hour.
And then... the long wait began...
Things done in the meantime: Got int a hospital gown (HATE THESE FRIGGIN' THINGS)... had an EKG... had blood drawn... had an IV port put in (Woo Hooo! FIRST I.V.)... And then... wheeled-in for a CT Scan (Woo Hooo! FIRST CT SCAN) (It's weird when a machine talks to you "Breathe in" "Hold your breath" "Breathe") The IV Port was used here.. to get hooked-up to some kind of contrast dye solution... so that a few scans were taken.. and then the dye was automatically injected into the port by the machine... and then another series of scans are taken.. had this WEIRD sensation of HEAT in my groin and a metallic taste in my mouth...
And then got wheeled back to my bed.. IN ENOUGH TIME TO WATCH THE BEGINNING OF THE ALL-STAR GAME.
OK, this is taking TOO FRIGGIN' LONG. I feel FINE.
So after FIVE AND A HALF HOURS in the ER, I FINALLY get released with prescriptions for two antibiotics.. and a diagnosis of the POSSIBLE start of diverticulitis. The E.R. doctor contacted my doctor, and I have to see him in a few days.
We just wanted to go home... and FINALLY get food.. and eat takeout at 9pm....
AND I FEEL FINE.
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Friday, July 07, 2006
Oh, man - I love weeks like this...
Commuting traffic is just non-existent. The holiday just fell in the right spot that people took off the whole week instead of just the weekend.
Sweet, easy, commuting...
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Back to work - only three work days this week.
It's gorgeous outside - sunny, blue sky, no clouds, 70's.
Where was this weather this past weekend? Why is it here NOW when I have to work?
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Back in town
Carol and I are back from our little vacation. It's always great getting away to Michigan.
Even this weekend when the weather sucked. Hot, humid, overcast, thunderstorms. WE had a gorgeous pool in the back and we couldn't use it until today when the weather finally broke!
And then - horrors! - The DirecTV satellite dish got moved by the roofers laying a new roof and - gasp! - we could only watch local stations! We had to rough it!
We had one lunch out (Redamak's) and one dinner out (Red Arrow Roadhouse)- the rest of our meals my sister Diane cooked for us and they were all good. It's just nice to get away...
The best part.. the drive home! Why? Because no one was on the road and we were home in 2½ hours, including a stop for gas in Indiana, driving into the city to drop-off my mom, and stopping at 7-11 for newspapers!
Friday, June 30, 2006
I've got a doctor's appointment this afternoon and then... THE LONG WEEKEND....
We're all going up to Diane's house in Michigan... hopefully to do nothing.
I am SOOOOoooooo looking forward to this....
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Life has been explained
I just got an email from Barry that had a joke in it.
Now, you know that I usually don't republish that kind of stuff in my blog, but this one, somehow, just summed up my life experience...
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It's all so clear now.
On the first day, God created the dog and said: "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."
The dog said: "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"
So God agreed.
On the second day, God created the monkey and said: "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."
The monkey said: "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?"
And God agreed.
On the third day, God created the cow and said: "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."
The cow said: "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"
And God agreed again.
On the fourth day, God created man and said: "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."
But man said: "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"
"Okay," said God, "You asked for it."
So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.
Life has now been explained to you
Now go forth.
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Hail still there?
I walked outside the garage this morning to look around to see if there was any damage after that HORRENDOUS storm on my way home last night.
We have the plastic trays that we placed under our downspouts to help divert water away from the house.
In this one tray - a pile of hail from last night.
A pile of hail from last night - 10 hours later there was STILL a pile of hail in this downspout tray...
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
After John's Retirement Party, Barry and I stopped for dinner, and then I drove back into the city to drop Barry at home and then drove home. When I got off the Northwest Tollway, I could see this huge cloud wall coming toward us - dark menacing. The winds were picking up. There was lightning everywhere, and a lot of it was strikes to the ground... close to where I was driving.
About 2 miles from the house, the skies opened. The rain was a deluge. Traffic crawled because we couldn't see in front of us... windshield wipers TOTALLY INEFFECTIVE as they wouldn't get rid of the rain fast enough. We couldn't see the lane markers for the rain, the standing water, the darkness and the headlights.
The deafening roar of the rain hitting steel in the car got LOUDER as I pulled into the neighborhood. I got the car into the garage as quickly as possible.
I jumped out to see HAIL coming into the garage...
Hail everywhere. hail was starting to coat the driveway.. so intense and so dangerous,
It didn't last long, but the coating of hail on the concrete lingered....
Worst micro-storm of the season....
2004 finally came
I left work early to drive into the city to pick up Barry, and the two of us continued to the northern suburbs.
A friend of ours, a co-worker from one of our former employers was having a party.
I've known John for a couple of decades. OK, since I started at the company in 1978. Almost the whole time I knew him, he always talked about retiring in 2004. He would be the right age... whatever the pressures du jour on the job would push to hard... he would just mumble "2004... 2004..." and we all knew what he meant.
It was a few years late, but, for John, 2004 had finally come.
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Barry and I went back to the building that we worked at... what seems like... a decade(?) ago...
And yet, walking into the building... it felt the same... it felt like a REAL comfortable, familiar jacket, as if wraps around you. The company was hosting a Retirement Party in the Executive Dining Room on the 3rd floor.
We went up the same familiar elevator, walked across the atrium to the dining room...
A small group of people outside the room were gathered around a drink table... maybe one or two looked like someone I used to know...
We went inside the main room and just stopped. John was mingling with people across the room. Most of the people were around the periphery - John was toward the center of the room.
So, when Barry and I turned the corner, John was busy, but everybody in the room could see us turn the corner...
I DISTINCTLY remember hearing an "Oh my god!" from a woman across the room. John may have heard that and started looking around and saw Barry and me and let out a large "ALL RIGHT!!!" and came over to us... of course everyone in the room wanted to know what was going on and we could feel the eyes on us and the whispering going on...
After John bear-hugged us, we talked for a while.
I started looking around the room...
I had been gone 8 years, Barry has been gone a little less...
I was utterly amazed at the number of people still with the company.. UNHEARD OF in this day and age. There were people from "My Class" (people that started the same year as me in 1978) that were still with the company! Barry and I mingled for over an hour, talking to people that we never thought we'd talk to again... let alone see again... in the same building where we worked...
When the party was winding down.... and it was time to leave.... I knew then how much John was pleased to see us...
On the way out... I snuck down to the second floor.. to look at the old department... look at my old office... the same pieces of art still on the walls...
It was so surreal... but I'm glad we were there for our friend...
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Monday, June 26, 2006
Love this time of year where it's sunny one second and dark clouds/thunder/lightning/torrential rain happens the next only to revert back to sunshine afterward. The storms can really be intense but only last a few minutes.
It just got finished raining in one of those storm cells that flies through the neighborhoods. This morning, the sun was out when I got into the shower. There's no window in the bathroom, so I was startled when I heard rolling thunder through the exterior walls of the house!
I don't know why, but I love these storms...
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Summer - Astronomically, at least - has officially arrived.
Darkness... tunderstorms, hot...
Gonna be a good day!!!!!
Longest Day of the Year!!!!
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Saw this today at Gaper's Block...
Here's an interesting list of things apparently only heard/spoken by people who live in Chicago.
Is "Soup-to-nuts" a regionalism???? I find that hard to believe that we're the only ones that say this...
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Carol and I went to my mom's house like we normally do on a Sunday. But, we haven't been there for a week or so, and Diane,Melinda & Jack weren't going to be there, so we went out to dinner.
Today is Father's Day, so we went to a place that we always went to on Father's Day - Russell's Barbecue in Elmwood Park. We thought it would just be a nice way to remember dad, and with it being a Sunday night, we shouldn't have a problem parking or finding a table..
We had to circle around the lot twice to find a place to park. The lone was so long, it almost went out the north door.
My dad used to come here in the 30's when it opened and always came here since. I remember being a kid and coming here. It was different back then - there was no patio area, just the main building. They had tables outside the building as well as across the parking lot in a grassy area, with canopies. The main building inside and out was a cream color, with what looked like finished pine booths. The big thing for me as a kid was the metal Juke Box selector at each table, that accepted coins, and you flipped pages, like a menu or book, to find out what selections were available and made your selection by pressing alphanumeric buttons below the glass display of the flippable menu pages.
I remember the booths, the coat racks attached to booths. I remember a logo on the wall of a very happy hamburger that appeared to be dancing.
The place has changed a lot over the years, and yet it never changes. It's all dark brown now with a western motif, the tables outside replaced with an inside patio with skylights. (read the overview at CenterStage).
I waited in line almost half an hour to place our order, but it was served quickly in traditional Russell style.
While I was waiting at the counter, there was an older gentleman, perhaps in his mid 70's, more likely older. He was about the same height as my dad was. Balding as my dad was. He leans over to me, and in a raspy voice (like my dad had) says to me: "you picked a bad night to come here."
I just laughed. And then he said "I've been coming here since high school, and I an't never seen it this busy."
Just like my dad, coming since his childhood.
It felt good to be there, and the food was the same as it ever was.
Friday, June 16, 2006
My Mundane Second Life
I have made a significant blunder.
I heard about this "Virtual World" "thing" on a podcast (OK, it's Adam Curry's Daily Source Code...) and I was intrigued. I wanted to know more about it.
So, I signed up.
I am now a resident in Second Life.
Probably the biggest mistake of my life.. my First Life... My Real Life (RL)...
This Virtual World is so immersive... whatever you wanted to do in an alternate universe, you can do here. Buy land, build a home, furnish it.... open a store, make money... go to an established club and spend money... buy a suit or a casual outfit, buy new shoes.. spend money.. meet people, build friendships and relationships... I've even been to a wedding (of two people in SL not RL). It's just so open ended... think of it and build it... sell it for money, make a profit... find a partner... anything...
So, I'm meeting new people from around the world... and I feel like I'm actually meeting them, just not "chatting" with them... we all have "avatars" in SL (Second Life), so when we meet, we actually vitually meet. It's so interesting to see how people construct their avatars, and how they look and dress. The only restriction in this world: the beings are humanoid. I've met all kinds of people, mostly human... some have fairy wings... some are animals, like a bi-ped fox complete with bushy tail. Some people pattern their avatars like some fantasy character, others just like anybody else on the street... few, like myself, try to represent themselves exactly how they are in Real Life... perhaps we're looking for "validation" as ourselves in the alternate universe...
I've even been able to get more listeners for my Podcast, probably more than I personally could do by word of mouth...
I stay up late... talking and interacting with people around the world that I've "met" but never have met, from Australia, Canada, Belgium, The UK, the Netherlands... and not knowing that, because no one has accents when you chat... doing things I just don't do in Real Life (RL), like go dancing at clubs to DJ's spinning music... yeah, like I'd do THAT in Real Life...
It's pretty addictive.... no, VERY addictive... that's why I haven't posted much here... everyday is the same... go home, jump on the computer and hit the daily dance party at a certain Podshow venue... break for dinner... and back on again... talking and having a great time, exploring the world well into the night...
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
A new season of Watering Zen
Well, we've been having several sunny days with no rain, so that signals to me that the hose has to come back out and I have to resume my "Watering The Plants" duty. The plants this year look different - the came up so much fuller and healthy looking, minus one hosta underneath our hawthorne tree that looks healthy but just really tiny, and the three Black-Eyed Susan's. So, looking back at last year, it's around the same time of the year, and we got our first bloom - one of the daylilies in front of the garage, just days before a year ago.
So, I guess I'm back to my Watering Zen time... the soil was drier than I thought, taking an awful lot of water. Our lawn service comes tomorrow, so I may set up my sprinkler and timer tomorrow evening to make sure the plants are taken care of. The lawn looks OK, but just may be on the verge of fading.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
The "Extended" Baseball "Family"
I may have talked about this before, but I believe there's a phenomena that happens between Season Ticket Holders to a sporting event. Over many games, you start recognizing some of the people around you that show up in the sames seats, game after game. After a while, you may exchange pleasantries about the game. It may take years, but you may find out their first names. You may never find out their last names, but you start to learn non-sporting things about them - usually about family and maybe friends.
And then, rarely, you step outside of the sports arena and may see them "outside". And then there's the really outside.
Today, we were invited to a wedding... Sunday Jim's - a guy who has tickets behind us was getting married, so I felt we had to go, if not for the sense of friendship (which is tenuous at best since your only link is through your tickets) than for the shear curiosity of it.
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So, we went to Saints Volodimir and Olga Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukrainian Village in Chicago. Very nice, ornate, small church. The bride - Oksana - is from the Ukraine. The groom - Jim - Greece. We were shocked to find out that the man we've called Jim, or referred to him as Sunday Jim from our little "White Sox Family" was not named Jim! His real name is Dimitrios, or Dimitri! And yet, he's "Jim".
The wedding was scheduled for 2:30. SCHEDULED. Jim's limo and Oksana's limo pulled up outside the church at 3pm. The priest didn't look all that happy. The service was... interesting, as very few words were in English - basically just the vows. The rest were sung in Ukrainian (This has to show up in my next Podcast).
The service ended a little after 4pm.
The reception was at 7pm.
How could we kill the time? By driving up to Wrigleyville and visiting the remarkably recuperative Barry and Buffy. They were kind enough to offer us a haven to kill the time. We talked and snacked. We weren't too much in a hurry to now drive to Greektown to a restaurant called Venus. Other than "Jim" and Oksana, there was going to be nobody else that we knew - except Janie & Gary who had another wedding to go to but would try to make it afterward.
The reception was inside the restaurant - there's no "banquet" facilities there, so the wedding easily took-up 3/4 of the space.
We got there at about quarter after 7, thinking things would be in full swing.
Jim & Oksana got there a little after 8pm.
We started getting appetizers. We were seated at a table for 6, with two chairs empty for Janie & Gary, and we were joined bu Alexia - Jim's cousin, and her brother - Jim. The appetizers were fantastic.
The music started with a keyboard player. All Greek - no idea what was being played. Eventually, during the course of the night, he was joined by a guitar/mandolin/Greek-Stringed-instrument-thing player who doubled as vocalist. Alexia said that the guy sounded exactly like some big Greek star. We'll have to take her word on that. Eventually, they were joined by a percussionist.
Janie and Gary showed up at about 9 or 9:30. I can't recall. Between the loud music (we were pretty close to the stage) and the fact that WE HADN'T EATEN DINNER YET, it was all a blur. Jim (Alexis's brother, not the groom) made a comment that after all of this, he doesn't want to eat anymore.
We were served our dinners at 10pm, almost on the dot. And, to our disappointment, didn't live up to the appetizers. maybe a mjor issue was - it wasn't hot.
Needless to say, we ate and didn't stick around. On the way out, the bride and groom grabbed the four of us (me, Carol, Janie, Gary) for some formal pictures with them.
And then we escaped.
As we always say - we're going to have a good time or a good story, and I'm leaving out SOOooo many pieces!
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Tuesday, May 30, 2006
A garage door and Indy
Carol stayed home today to be there when we FINALLY receive delivery of something we've been waiting on for a few months (if not really a few years) - a new garage door.. we both love it and I think it's a HUGE improvement over the old one. The whole concept of natural light inside the garage is just mind boggling.
As long as she was home, Carol called the vet to see if we could get Indy into the vet today. Indy still wasn't really eating - she'd take a few bites of lettuce and stop, take afew bites of carrot and stop, take few bites of hay and stop, but drink as much water as she wanted. She was also getting "quieter" and Chip was really bothering her. Carol couldn't get an appointment until 5:30, so I got home after work and immediately took off for the vet. This was the first time we visited the new facility. It's not all that easy to get to for us, but at least we know the area, so we can take shortcuts depending on traffic.
So, the doc checked her all out, put her under anesthesia to xray her (and clip her toenails) and then did... a dental exam. Out of all the years we've had rabbits, non of our bunnies ever had dental issues - until now. She had problems with her molars having grown "unusually" and were probably hurting her gums or cheek, so the doc worked on them (probably with a dremmel).
A tech brought her back to the exam room, still a little woozy. She went right back into her carrier and settled down. After a while, we could hear her grinding her teath. She looked different. On the way home, she looked much more relaxed than the trip into the city. Sure enough, first thing she does when she gets home is eat.
Monday, May 29, 2006
I can't believe I'm bitching about this...
We had NOTHING scheduled for today - a perfect way to spend Memorial Day. It was a day of laying around and doing something I haven't done in months - just goof-off on the computer. I used to spend time on the computer every night... until we bought that damn 55" HDTV.
I'm a slave to it - when it calls, I must obey. It shows us wonders of the world, like cooking shows, reality shows, crime dramas... but when it has something special it needs to show, it has our full attention - primetime crime dramas on the networks, certain sporting events, travel - oh, the travel... we don't use our dining room anymore, it's now tray tables in front of the TV...
We never went outside today.
It's too hot.
Actually, I think it's not the temperature, but it's been so damn humid lately, that the heat just kills you. Today, it didn't last too long - a whole bunch of little, tiny really intense thunderstorms moved through the area. The kind where it went from sunny to pitch black in under a minute and the rain came straight down - no wind - soaking everything.
The plus side? The temperature dropped a bit. But everything is just so green outside.
This is my favorite time of year - late spring, when everything is deep, healthy green, before summer when the lack of rain and scorching sun turns the lawns brown.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Indy, Indy, Blinds, MI3
Well, our older bunny Indy seems to be having problems - she's not eating much at all and she just wants to be alone - a good indication that she's sick. It's almost like at the end of 2004, but she was really in distress and really hiding. This is like she's a little... off. She wants to eat and she eats a little, but then just stops. She's urinating with a good stream, so we're not sure what's going on.
Speaking of Indy... there's another Indy on TV today - the Indianapolis 500.
WHY THE HELL CAN'T ABC BROADCAST THE INDY 500 IN HD? Hell, Fox broadcasts all of the NASCAR events in HD, and this is a special event! What the hell!
We had to get new blinds for the bedroom - the one on my side of the bed actually started to fall apart from all that exposure to the sun after all of these years. Carol went to Lowes and had some blinds cut to size... too bad they were the wrong size. At least she had them cut too long so she could go back and take some more off. After she struggled with that, then we had to change the mounting hardware... Let's just say the task took way longer than either of us thought. Then, when everything was done, we rushed to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch a 3:10 showing of Mission: Impossible III.
It was OK (I got over my Tom Cruise issues quickly), and there was a LOT of action, but... I don't know, it seemed a little implausible (what? an IMF Mission being implausible? Well, it wasn't the mission - it was the fact an IMF agent would get married to someone that doesn't know what he really does for a living - I think that was my problem)
UPDATE: On Thursday night, ABC broadcast the Scripps Spelling Bee. LIVE. IN HDTV
Friday, May 26, 2006
TV Cheeky Monkey
It's been a long time since I stepped into a Comedy Club (sorry, Erin), so making the pilgrimage to Zanies in St. Charles (at Pheasant Run) was a bit of a trip. We bought these tickets as soon as it was announced and we've been waiting to see somebody that we've been dieing to see - a man, not known for stand-up, but for his story telling skills, and just all-round funny man.
TV's Craig Ferguson.
As in the man from Glasgow, you know - the boss Mr. Nigel Wick from "The Drew Carey Show (from 1996-2003), the writer of this wonderful little movie "Saving Grace", and currently the host of CBS's The Late Late Show and the author of the novel "Between the Bridge and the River".
(God, I hope by now you know who I'm talking about)
Zanies is an odd place - it's like the attic (or closed-in loft) of a barn - so it's narrow and long (in fact, you enter through a silo). The show was a sellout, and that was just the 8pm show, he had a 10pm show to do as well - also sold-out! Interesting crowd - all ages. And I mean, ALL ages.
What a GREAT show! He's really great! What you see on the Late Late Show is him. His act is actually in the same style as his monologue - no set-up jokes, just stories that all fit together and flow well.
You know it's a good show when it feels short when an hour and a half passes (OK, there were two other comedians as well) and you still want to hear more stories!
read more of this entry »
It's Hard to Stay Up
It's Been a Long, Long Day and You Got the Sandman at the Door
But Hang On, Leave the TV On and Let's Do It Anyway
It's OK, You Can Always Sleep Through Work Tomorrow, OK?
Tomorrow's Just a Future Yesterday
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Thursday, May 25, 2006
We had a few lines of small, intense spring thunderstorms last night. While laying in bed, trying to fall asleep, the bedroom was constantly being lit-up by lightning. No thunder, just tons of lightning (I always thought they were together - or maybe the thunder wasn't significant - there was a constant rumble because of the constant lightning.
This morning: overcast, but hot and humid. Well, no so much hot as warm, but humid as all hell.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
How could I have slept through this?
Something wasn't right today. I felt tired. My blood sugar levels are a little "up" (just a few points, but up nonetheless). I feel really fatigued. I guess this is my life now. Just feeling horrendously tired.
So, I was all excited to sit down in front of the TV and watch the Season Finale of The Amazing Race. (Those of you that have been here before know that this is my absolute favorite reality show right now. I've been longing and yearning to try-out for the show and be on it... Why don't I? I need a partner and NOBODY I know wants to do it...)
So, I'm all geared-up to watch the show and...
I fell asleep.
At least I woke up at the very end to see who won.
Thank God for TiVo. I'll probably watch it sometime this weekend and get caught up and enjoy it. Awake.
I LOVE THIS SHOW.
Monday, May 15, 2006
I'm looking at the current month calendar over in the right-hand column, and I'm feeling a bit disappointed.
Has my life become so mundane and boring that I can't post every day?
Apparently. This stretch of time is the worst in the past four years of this blog. I mean, I always published something.
Man, I'm going to have to force myself to write something. Even if it's nothing.
I guess, sort of like this entry... only maybe better...
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Got back in enough time to watch the Survivor: Panama - Exile Island finale & Reunion.
Sorry, Terry should have had it, not Aras.
We spent yesterday & today at my sister's house in Michigan, where - due to the crappy weather, we didn't do anything.
Which, I must say, is not a bad thing. Sometimes it's just nice getting away some place else, any place else, and she's got a great any place to be.
We had lunch yesterday at the Red Arrow Roadhouse, which you can't beat for price and quality - and it's now no smoking!
Diane grilled dinner (fillet's!) and celebrated Carol's birthday, and Carol made breakfast/brunch this morning (since she was the only non-mom in the house for Mother's Day).
The travel wasn't too bad yesterday on the Dan Ryan. Today we got off at Stoney Island and took Lakeshore Drive up since we had made a "Meat Run" to Falatic's and had to deliver some goodies to B&B in Wrigleyville (thank God the game was over, traffics was bad enough on Addison).
I really enjoy being up there - really want to do it again soon - with better weather, though...
Friday, May 12, 2006
We've had a lot of rain and high wind warnings both yesterday and today and its' supposed to be this way through Monday. It's in the 30's at night and daytime highs are only in the mid-40's. There's a Low Pressure system parked around Lake Michigan and all of the great Lakes states are getting this crappy weather. And the low isn't supposed to move-off for days.
And we'll all supposed to go up to Diane's in Michigan for the weekend. Travel should be terrible, and then we can't spend any time outside for the weekend.
It's always nice being up there, but I think we may be stretching it a bit this time...
Monday, May 08, 2006
E.W. has C.O. as #1!
I was reading this weeks' Entertainment Weekly and flipped over to the issue's The Must List and there it was - Number #1 was Cute Overload!
This is a great website. I know Carol goes there often. She says that if she's having a bad day, she goes over there to see all of the damn cute pictures there, and you always feel better.
Go check it out - it's got the world's best cute animal pictures!
Friday, May 05, 2006
Super M Mode
Wow, I sure haven't been writing here very much.
I think what's happened is that my life has phased into Super M mode - as in Super Mundane. Nothing of note is happening. At all.
I'll post something about baseball games I go to, but that's because it's out of the ordinary for me. Everything else is everyday stuff.
So boring, so mundane. Why share? It's not interesting - at least I don't think so because it's just everyday life.
You get up, you go to work, do your job, go home, talk to the wife when she gates home, play with the kids (OK, bunnies in our case), watch some TiVo, watch some TV, go to bed.
lather, rinse, repeat.
I mean, nothing is standing out to talk about. I blinked and this week passed by me.
Maybe I just need to find those mundane things "of note", just to write about it.
Then, there's my attempt at podcasting. It's hard to put together a show on a regular basis. What? You didn't know I had a podcast? Well... I do. It's just not published anywhere yet. They're coming. I'm stockpiling them. I can tell you that it's nothing special - just an extension or "supplement" to this blog. And it looks like I've finally set a schedule - twice a month. And I'm starting to have problem with lack of content - similar to here.
It'll all break through - someday.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
I have a feeling that there are people out there that totally understand this...
I woke up this morning and walked into the bathroom, turned-on the light, and looked into the mirror.
The first thing I see is not the excessively screwed-up hair, the squinting, wrinkled eyes, the crappy body shape and condition...
No, it was this tiny white spot, about
double quadruple the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
The zit at the end of my nose. It looks like a personal headlight, like it should be illuminating my way around the bathroom.
I've been getting zits all over my nose ever since I started using Breathe-Right's, and this one stirred-up front-and-center.
And you have at least a day before it'll go "down" and become a bit invisible, because after you decide to... ummm... remove the white spot from the tip of your nose, then you have to worry about the red flesh that sticks around, that still call attention to the area. And, during the day, you feel like you have to look into any reflecting object, just to make sure that it doesn't "grow back".
I feel like I've been hiding my face all day... I feel like I can't hold a conversation with anyone, as the zit is going to be the only thing they're going to notice...
Sunday, April 30, 2006
I haven't had one of these kind of days in a long, long time...
It's when you get up in the morning, put on your robe, and don't take it off until you go to bed at night.
Came in handy, too, as I napped on the couch, trying to watch the White Sox/Angels game. I'd drift off an inning at a time and check out the scores and pitching when I'd wake up.
I love days like this... days of nothing. It's a great way to recharge.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Two Ongoing Complaints
There are really only two complaints I have lately, and I think everybody else around here has the same two:
The Weather and Gas Prices.
We're going from 60's in the afternoon to the low 30's (complete with frost and freeze warnings) by the time we wake up. The house was 61 degrees this morning because we don't have the heat turned on any more. Why should we? It's late April! Not only that, but we have one of those houses that - to get the optimum balance of heating OR air conditioning requires the opening or closing of certain vents around the house, and they're mutually exclusive to the function that you need them for. That means that if we decide that it's getting too cold in the house, we have to flip all of the vents that we opened/closed for air conditioning when it's been near 80 and house is just cooking.
And Gas Prices? Don't get me started... We're just pennies away in our area when hit hist the $3.00-mark for regular. I've been over $3 for a few weeks now using Premium. The whole situation is just pissing me off. I can't help believe that if the Iraq war didn't happen that we'd be involved somewhere on this planet with anybody that wasn't producing all the oil they could. I can't believe that we're looking at $3, with the possibility of $4 actually happening in the not so distant future.
Yes, America is addicted to oil. Yes everyone is complaining., even the damn SUV drivers which are sucking-up more gas now than 10 or 15 years ago. Are they cutting back their use? No, they're just paying more to live the American Way.
I don't know, I'm just so pissed off at a situation that has no "silver bullet", no easy fix, no short-term fix, and maybe not even a long-term fix...
...and then you hear things like an executive leaving Exxon Mobile and getting $400 million in a retirement package?
How insane has all of this become?
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Wait... some details...
It's Exxon Mobil's CEO Lee Raymond.
He has called global warming a hoax.
His total compensation package is worth $398 million. That brought his total compensation during his 13 years as chairman to $686 million.
Last year Exxon Mobil had a world's record profit of $36 billion. Profit. It is now the largest corporation in the world. That retirement package is only, what, 1 percent of profit?
C'mon, how 'bout taking one for the country and doing something with gas prices?
Now, admittedly, back in 1999, when Exxon acquired Mobil, oil was at $10/barrel. Looking through my gas records (I only use Mobil gas, and yes, I have records going back that far), the year started at $1.19.9 in January and ended at $1.53.9 in December (with the initial big jump in February/March), a steady rise all year for Premium grade.
$1.19. Ah yes, I remember those days...
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Monday, April 24, 2006
Update on Carol
Carol went to the Emergency department this morning.
She's got fluid behind the knee, a badly bruised kneecap (no breaks) and strained ligaments. They gave her crutches to use to try and stay off the leg, she has to ice it and keep it up and she should see a orthopedist (which, my guess, she won't do).
Friday, April 21, 2006
This is not a rodeo, this is the PBR
I mentioned back in February that we got tickets to the PBR.
Well, tonight was the night.
The crowd was very disappointing. Our seats we upstairs, almost even with the chutes, which was a good vantage point. However, it was just a bit too far away. It was a good angle to view the bull and what they do, but it would have been nice to be closer - but that's what you get when you spend $35 a seat instead of $100 a seat (boy, that's steep).
This is the first time the PBR has been to Chicago. Tonight's event was Round 1 of The Jack Daniel`s Invitational of the Built Ford Tough Series.
They did something different with the structure of the event, which sounded new as well. Tonight was Round 1. Tomorrow afternoon at 2pm is Round 2 and then just 6 hours later at 8pm is Round 3 and then the Short Go Round. That's a lot of riding within about 27 hours.
Tonight, out of the 45 riders that competed, 15 got scores. The lowest was a 60.00 (Rogerio Ferreira on Salty Kisses was offered a re-ride and declined), the highest was an 89.00 (Helton Barbosa on Sports Machine).
All and all, it's much more entertaining to be at the event than watching it on TV This has a lot to do with the stadium announcers, but even more so the Barrelman (who is dressed like a Rodeo Clown, not to be confused with a Bull Fighter who are key components to the safety of the riders out there in the ring) Flint Rasmussen. Flint did a wonderful job keeping the crowd entertained.
Speaking of Bull Fighters, the best around (who's been out due to what I would call significant injury) was introduced before the event, as the first event that he was appearing at after the injury - Rob Smets.
Speaking of injuries, of the riders that we wanted to see, one of them was sitting out due to injury - Adriano Moraes of Brazil (out with a sprained right hip sustained in Detroit, but it sounds more like a stress fracture of the pelvis).
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
My own house is trying to kill me
Carol has been off work for the last three days. She's been tackling a piece of household work that we've never had the time to try - cleaning up the "Second Bedroom".
Our house is built on a slab - we have no basement. I'll bet you every house like this has one of these rooms. You know, a room that you don't use that you just store old crap in.
Well, she's tackling it with a vengeance and she's done a great job. The only problem is that she's kicked-up so much duet from the last 20 years.
And who is allergic to dust? Yes, moi. The sneezing and runny nose all last night has put my throat on fire. I was fine all day (except my throat) until I walked into my house tonight. Now, it's happening all over again. Maybe if we can air-out the room it would be better.
She really did a bang-up job. We had built two shelves yesterday and they're holding storage bins from the Container Store and everything is organized.
Now, if I could just breathe clearly without the runny nose or cough, I'd be all set.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Carol and I met with a diabetic dietitian today. My doctor seems to be trying to get me into a program at the hospital to support newly diagnosed diabetes patients. She worked with us for well over an hour, trying to get a feel for our lifestyle and then figuring out what I should eat, based on both my diabetes and cholesterol (yes, that's bad, too).
So, she came up with a 1600-calorie per day plan that gives me about 60g of carbs for lunch and dinner. The great news (as far as I was concerned) is that it really seamed that no food was off the table - it's just a matter of portion control and realizing that I may have to sacrifice one food for another to make my 60 carbs. I can't go over, and I can't "save" like you could do in Weight Watchers. you use or lose it.
Then we went to a local Jewel and spent another hour and a half, doing a lot of reading to figure out what had what. We bought some good things and figured out quite a few things, not to mention finding the error of our ways on a few items now that we read the packaging in relationship to the diet.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Happy Tax Day!
Monday? The 17th? Oh, the weekend...
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
A Kick in the Pancreas
I was fearing this.
Official diagnosis: Type 2 Diabetes.
Yeah, the tests are in from last Saturday. A normal fasting glucose level is between 65-99 mg/dL. I was 137. The kicker was the two-hour test. The glucose level should be 65-139.
I was at 327.
Time for regular glucose testing during the day. Have an appointment to see a dietitian. the doctor wants me to go through some education (classes) as well.
I'm scared to death. I feel helpless because I just don't know what to do with myself. I guess it's the fear of the unknown, but, damn, this feels scarier than that.
Life changing. Great.
What kind of life will I have? Maybe that's the unknown that I'm not looking forward to. I don't understand the mechanics of the disease and the treatments and how things all work. When I think hyperglycemia I think "no sugar" at all, but I know there's much more to it than that.
And then I start thinking about all those foods I will never eat again, probably.
And I think about eating out with friends and family and how I'm not going to be able to eat what is prepared. I don't know, it's a bit of paranoia as well I guess.
Monday, April 10, 2006
A Kick in the Wallet
I came home after work today to find the bill for all of those MRI's from 2 weeks ago.
Patient Services Provided
MRI / Brain - Quantity 1 - $4,146.00
MRI / Spine - Quantity 3 - $12,679.00
Drugs Requiring Det Code - Quantity 1 - $561.00
Total Charges - $17,586.00
I hope insurance will cover this!
On top of this, I'm having an uncomfortable situation with my doctor. When I first went in for the EMG/NCV, he wanted my to see a neurologist. Now that he's seen the MRI's he wants me to see a neurosurgeon.
I feel like we've jumped a step along the way. I feel that we're thinking of surgery and that might not be the only thing wrong to fix my "twitching" legs (Oh, the diagnosis was Cervical Spinal Stenosis and moderately advanced degenerative spuring in my thoracic spine).
I said I still wanted to go to the neouraologist first, so I maid an appointment - for first-time ("new") patients, the earliest I can get was July 26th at 2pm.
Apparently this is too long and now the doctor wants me to see the neurosurgeon.
I've got to get this cleared up.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Carol & I went Home Improvement shopping this afternoon.
We were looking for a new garage door to replace the one that's falling apart after 21 years. We have a brand new Lowe's in the area and we've never been to one before. Loved it. But, when it came to garage doors, they didn't have any samples to look at, so we went across the street to Home Depot and got what we wanted.
Unfortunately, it'll be 2-3 weeks before we see it. We were hoping to get it in a week, because Carol is taking some time off to do some housework and it would be great because she'd already be home, but no luck.
So, we'll see what kind of stories we'll have to tell in 2-3 weeks.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Just got back from the Glucose Test.
Had my blood drawn, then had to drink this flavored drink that had 100 grams of dextrose (i think it was dextrose) in it. Then I sat around for two hours. The office was empty (it was 8:10 on a Saturday morning) but there was a young woman that came in about 5 minutes after me - for the same test. I got the last Lemon-Lime drink, she had an Orange.
The magazine selections in the office sucked (I mean, they actually had a magazine I've never seen before -"Cheerleader"). So I watched the fish in the fish tank for a while. I brought my bag from work, so I had my laptop with me, and I used it like a big black iPod and listened to some podcasts. I actually read Green Eggs and Ham cover to cover (actually, I liked it, Sam I am).
Then the two hours were finally over and I got out of there. A few people came and went in the meantime, but overall it was quiet.
Friday, April 07, 2006
I'm fasting again.
No, it has nothing to do with it being a Friday during Lent.
I have another blood test tomorrow. This is a glucose tolerance test, so I have to stay at the office for two hours with nothing to do. Not looking forward to it.
These fasting things really aren't so bad. I don't have a big snacking "drive" in the evenings - I just have to drink water when I get thirsty and nothing else.
So, yeah, that's my big "secret" from the blood test from before. I guess the normal fasting glucose level is about 100 and I was at 149. And this is the one thing that's scaring me.
I immediately dropped any sugared soda I was drinking and started drinking diet soda. I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate the taste, but what can you do? Hopefully, i can correct this all with diet... I'm hoping...
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Not for another hundred years...
I had to post this, since I won't have an opportunity for a hundred years...
Know what time and date it is locally (based on how we write the date)?
Saturday, April 01, 2006
The Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago is undergoing some major reconstruction that started last night.
Normally, this would not impact our lives at all. This time, however, it does, because even though this expressway is no where near us on the South Side of Chicago, it's a main artery that we take to get ourselves to White Sox games.
Carol had this great idea that we should drive down to the park and check out how we should get there, coming up with alternates in case the traffic gets really bad, as they are predicting for the summer.
So, we spent the afternoon driving around the park, actually taking the Dan Ryan to get an idea of what's being blocked-off and how traffic is being funneled. I think we're going to be OK for Sunday day games. Forget Saturday games - we'll probably have to take alternates.
Of course, if we drove all the way down there, we had to stop at Grandstand to do some White Sox shopping. I think we were lucky - we got out of there without spending a hell of a lot of money. It could have been so much worse.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
MRI's #3 & #4
OK, today's experience was totally different, and not in a good way.
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Gowns. I hate gowns. The metal in my zipper was too near the scanning sites, so I had to take my pants off and put on two gowns, one reversed of the other. Over my long-sleeve shirt. And, of course, no pants but my socks & shoes! I look like a dork, and this is going to be warm as hell...
In a nutshell - No Truck. I was in the MRI unit inside the hospital itself. That implies: older machine, older machine = "more used" = maybe not as well maintained or has more "miles" on it = LOUDER.
Holy crap, the machine was loud. I had ear plugs. Didn't help. Better sound quality headphones, less sound absorption from outside noise. Not that I could hear the music while the machine was running. I could only hear pieces of songs in the gaps between scans. And what am I hearing? "King of the Road"? WTF?
OK, so on top of loud, let's add heat. It was 69 degrees outside today, so you know that mechanical plants just can't keep up with a 30 degree swing in outside temperature, so the room was warm. Now, when you're inside a tube in a warm room, and the only means of air circulation is an internal flan blower that's just blowing room air, you know it's not as comfortable.
So lets talk comfort. I learned something about MRI's, and that they use a "coil" in their process to help... with something, I don't know, focusing the impulses... probably something like that. Anyway, the MRI's tonight were for my Thoracic and Lumbar spine sections (last night - Brain and Cervical spine). Last night, I had a whole cage that surrounded my head and sort of "locked" me into the table, It had this nice mirror arrangement so that if I looked straight ahead, instead of seeing the inside of the tube that was just inches from my face, it acted like a "periscope" and I was able to view down the length of my body, toward the door to the room. It made me comfortable and not claustrophobic. Well, tonight, no head "thingy". I had to go into the tube without my little "periscope". Great. So, they gave a bulb device to squeeze to alert them to get me out of the tube if I start to panic. Fortunately, they guy tonight (who was the tech last night that gave me the contrast dye, so we're like buddies now) did the lumbar scans first. That put me the furthest into the tube, which was good because I was almost poking out the back-end, so I could actually see parts of the ceiling behind the machine. That calmed me down, and scan proceeded without a hitch.
Except for the noise.
Then, as the scan progressed, I realized my left leg was spasming (twitching). I tried my best to stop it, but I just couldn't. I'm lucky that it started during the thoracic part, so that any movement isn't being translated to my spine. The scans are good. The tech knows it's happening, so he's checking the scans as we go. I stopped counting after 20 twitches... and it's close to double that. Then the scan were over and it was time for the contrast dye. He used the same vein in my hand and did a great job. I mentioned that I thought the pads under my knees were higher when I was out in the truck, so he built a series of cushions to get my knees higher, and we start the final scans, starting with the thoracic this time. As he's moving me, slightly, further into the tube for the scan, I realize that my knees are hitting the front of the machine!. As the scan completes and he gets on the little intercom to tell me that lumbar scan is next, I frantically try to tell him not to move the bed because all I can envision is getting jammed into the tube. He came out, pulled a few cushions out, and we finished the scans.
Did the additional pads help the twitching? No. Well, barely. It turns out that there was some movement on the scans, but it was "within limits", so the scans weren't garbage. I was soaking wet when I got out of that machine.
I made it. My head was still buzzing from the sound, something I couldn't shake for an hour.
I had to wait in the Men's Gowned area for someone to take me XRay to get the supplemental XRays, which was no issue at all. I went and changed and met Carol out in the Radiology Reception room. The room was empty - except for Carol - and basically dark. They'd shut down! Carol's watching TV alone, waiting for me! Nobody manning the desk - it was dark.
So, that's it. Done with all 4 MRI's. Glad it's over, but all of my nervousness about the process was just not knowing what it was like. That, and the fear that my legs would twitch, ruining a scan and we would have to do it all over again.
Hope I don't need to do this again soon.
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Wednesday, March 29, 2006
MRI's #1 & #2
I have four MRI's scheduled over two days.
Today is my first day of two scans. And I've never had an MRI. And I'm... nervous.
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I've heard multiple stories from people who have gone through this experience, all seem to focus on the sound and claustrophobia. I don't know if I'm claustrophobic - I mean, how tight could this thing be? And, as for the sound, how loud could it be?
My worries, in general, all center around the unknown, and my fear that I'll be in a laying in a bad position and my legs will start twitching, ruining the scan and having to rescan or worse, reschedule for another time to do it again and insurance not cover the cost.
I decided to "self-medicate" myself. I've got a cold and my nose is running, so I took some Sudafed and then, since I was a little "anxious" about the whole "tube" experience, I thought if I could relax (and maybe even nap), it would make things easier, so I took a couple of Tylenol PM's. So, Carol came with me just in case I was a little sleepy when it was all over.
We drove to St. Alexius and went to registration. The guy was sharp to realize I was here for the same tests over two days so he basically pre-registered me for tomorrow as well, giving me all the paperwork we needed and then he walked us back to Radiology. They have their own waiting room, behind these dark wood-trimmed windows with fabric hanging from them. Like a small library in the middle of a sterile hospital. Filled out a questionnaire and just waited... all of about 5 minutes.
The elderly lady was the MRI Tech and started walking me to the testing. We kept going down corridors and turning. It was a labyrinth or corridors and doors. Next thing I know, we're going out an external door through a temporary covered walkway (sidewalk, actually). We were going to a leased trailer, parked behind the hospital. There, inside, was a brand new GE MRI unit in the middle of this air conditioned trailer, which had a small "office" in the front that the Tech worked out of - with soundproof door and glass between the two rooms.
I was lucky - because of where the scans covered tonight - Brain and Cervical Spine - I didn't have to change clothes - I just had to make sure I got rid of any excess metal - so I dumped my change, and my belt on a counter and went into the scanning room.
She lowered the scanning table and I hopped on, and then we maneuvered my head into the what felt like a brace of some sort. She put on some headphones that sounded all mid-range and lousy and loud. She was trying to talk to me, but even though she was right next to me I couldn't hear her for the radio in the headphones and this constant "washka-washka-washka-washka" sound that the machine made at all times, even when idle. I hoped that she wasn't telling me anything important.
Then she put this cage-like thing over my head. The cool thing is, that as I lay on my back, I was actually looking into a series of mirrors that worked like a "periscope" and I could look down the length of my body, toward the door to the room. Hey, this wasn't bad! I didn't have to worry how "tight" the tube was, I could actually just look out and everything was great.
I was flat on my back, but had some kind of pad/cushion under my knees that was really comfortable. I could feel right away that I could hold this position for quite a while.
It came time to be "inserted into the tube" and that's when I realized just how tight it really was. I've always had very broad shoulders (some think it was from swimming at the YMCA when I was a kid, but maybe I was just built this way), so I had to pull my arms in and slightly lift them up to get into the tube. Still, not all THAT uncomfortable.
The Tech came on the headphones and let me know that the first scan will take about 4 minutes and don't be alarmed by the noise.
Then came the noise. Yes it was loud, but I could tell that the headphones where blocking a lot because the sounds were slightly muffled. It was still damn loud. I really can't describe the sound. I can't at all. The closest sound is a klaxon, a fire alarm. Not a bell, a horn. Going off. Next to my ears. Either every second, or continuously. For four minutes. The radio cannot be heard at all, just the sound of the machine.
And that was just one part of the scan. The scans were anywhere from 30 seconds to four minutes, and there had to be at least 5-6 of them. That would be for the brain, and then the bed would slide in, reposition, and then next series of scans would commence for the Cervical Spine. I could barely hear the radio in between scans, as I think my head is buzzing from all of the noise.
It was tedious. It was also hard to try and relax and "drift off" because of the machine that's inches from my head. And I was in good spirits because my legs were calm!
Next, the lady comes into the room and slides me out. The radio is turned off. That's when I realized that what she did was pull the plug on the cable to the headphones. But, the cable isn't a cable at all, it's just tubing. The headphones where like what are used on airliners, with the old entertainment systems that just use hollow tubes to get the sound to the earphones from speakers buried someplace else. A cleaver way to not use metal around and inside the machine!
It's now time to be injected with some kind of "contrast" dye. So, she begins the effort on trying to find a vein. In vain, unfortunately as she sticks me twice in the left arm and can't come up with a good vein. She tries my right arm, but at least doesn't stick me, She tries my right hand and fails, so she gives up and goes to find another tech.
A young guy comes in, introduces himself, shakes my hand, and starts to work on my left hand, finds a good vein, does the old alcohol swab and sticks me and feeds whatever this stuff is into my vein. It actually feels cool as if travels up my arm. Other than that nasty pain of the initial stab, I'm good to go. The table is slid back in the tube, about 3 or 4 more scans are taken in total, and I'm sliding out the tube, all finished.
Sitting up was a little rough, but I eventually got my wits around me and I gathered my belongings and walked back into the hospital. I had one more stop to make - XRay. Apparently, they get an xray of the same area that's scanned so that a comparison and reference can be made. That was just as easy as walking into a room, standing sideways against a plate, firing the xray and walking out. Simple. Fast. Of course, not as high tech as my last hour was.
Yes, the scans lasted about an hour, total. They had scheduled 2 hours for me, one for each scan, just in case something happened or a scan had to be redone.
I met carol in the waiting room and we went home. I still felt a little "wired". Those Tylenol PM's had NO effect on me, as I was just too "up" and "alert" for all of this.
This wasn't a bad as I had feared. If it's the same tomorrow, I think I would even consider calling this a "cakewalk".
Let's see what tomorrow holds.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Winners and losers
And so my Curling season comes to a close, with a romping 7-3 victory in 7 Ends. The team finished 4-1 for the tournament, tied for First Place!. But, alas, we did not win the tournament because our only loss... was to the team tied with us. Therefore, they're the "winners".
So, in retrospect, what did I think of Curling?
Other than being resigned to the fact that it's much harder than it looks, other than having no coordination at all is a hindrance, other than being fully incapable of delivering a rock and having to rely on "The Stick" for delivery, other than not being able to master "The Stick" in just 5 short weeks...
... it was very enjoyable.
Would I do it again? Maybe. Talk to me in the fall.
Still fighting something...
Got home after work last night and was a mess. I felt drained and then i started getting the chills. Carol thought I had a fever, but we couldn't verify that because we couldn't find our thermometer. Carol made dinner and I got through that and I felt better, but then I was sweating my ass off, so who knows what's going on. I slept pretty well, so, other than an occasional cough this morning, I'm certainly better than I was last night.
Carol, in the meantime, isn't. She's been pretty uncomfortable since the surgery and the pain is just a little too disturbing her normal activity. She called the Day Surgery center and they're recommending for her to take a day off and keep her feet up. So, she's staying home today and following their recommendations.
We're a mess. We'll be fine some day, but right now - we're a mess.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Taking the next step(s)...
I mentioned sometime earlier that I'm starting a new adventure in my life - actually visiting a doctor and getting myself "fixed". No, I don't mean neutered, I mean fixing whatever is broken.
I had went for my EMG/NCV tests, now it's time for the next steps - MRI's.
I have never had an MRI before, so I'm not sure what to expect. I'm hearing everything from it's nothing, just noisy to people freaking out because of claustrophobia. I have absolutely no idea if I'm claustrophobic or not, so I'm not sure what to expect.
I called to schedule two MRI's - Brain and Spine (cervical, thoracic, & lumbar). That's what the Doctor's Orders say. What I found out is that it's actually 4 MRI's Brain, Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar! And they schedule an hour for each! 4 HOURS TOTAL!
We broke it into two pieces, and I'm going in Wednesday night for the first two and Thursday Night for the next two.
I don't know what to expect - anybody have any real-life experiences that want to share them with me? Enter a comment or send me an email.
I think what's worse is my blood workup that I had done last week. I have to go in for a follow-up blood test because, well, let's just say something is "askew" and I don't like it and neither does my doctor, but it's something I suspected. I just hope I can manage the whole thing with diet... here I am being fatalistic about something I don't even know what I have exactly... Crap... exercise and diet....I mean, c'mon, I haven't seen a doctor in a while and I don't exercise and I'm overweight... is it a shock that I have to exercise and diet? Well, no... I guess...
Still, I knew I would have to do something to get back "in line". It's just I'm so friggin' lazy it's hard to reconcile. I mean, potentially, changing my diet dramatically and forcing myself to carve-out some kind of time for exercise. It's life changing, I guess.
So, it's time to get my act together. Will I blog about it? Probably. Will it become a major focus of this blog? God, I hope not. It's supposed to be part of my life, not my whole life. There better be more to life than diet and exercise!
I don't need to be berated and/or hassled about this. I know I got myself here. I'm not happy about it. I don't need to be reminded of it. When I need it, Carol will take care of the motivation/admonishing/teasing, etc. All I ask is support. Actually, that goes for the entire readership out there (HA! All, what, 6 of you?) - all I ask is for your support.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Yep... I'm coming down with something...
I've slept on and off all day. That's my body telling me something's not right. Actually, something is not the same as my normal operating status.
Yeah, the throat's gone. I've got something that's in my throat that I can't clear, so I'm just coughing all the time.
Went over to my mom's house and saw Diane & Melinda and, of course, Jackson.
I haven't written about a few things, like I haven't written any new letter to Jackson recently. Don't know why. He's changing and, up until today, I've been very paranoid that he just didn't think of me as an OK guy. Every time he looked at me, he had an odd look on his face. It wasn't a frown. He didn't look scared. He just looked confused and he just really didn't know about me - good guy or bad guy? I've seen this look before, I just can't explain it.
Today was the first day that, when Jackson looked at me, he didn't have that "look". In fact, he looked at me like anybody else (well, like Carol or my Mom at least... I mean not like Melinda or Diane). And that was the first time that I felt that he wasn't "rejecting" me... then again, I didn't really want to get too close to him since I wasn't feeling too well.
My Mom was finally feeling better. I haven't written about it here, but she's had bronchitis and pneumonia. She's been week and not eating, but she's storming back. She's taking her medication and she looks and sounds SOOOoooo much better. She hasn't been back to church - yet - to do all of her volunteering, whether it's counting the money from the weekly donations at the masses, or being on the board of the Ladies of St. Anne, or working the parish Fish Fry on Friday nights (My guess is that this is something we're not going to participating this year) She's been getting sick around this time of year for the last few years, and we think it's just because she's doing too much and is getting worn down, which drops her immune system and she just gets sick. Easter and Lent is a big time of year, so she just overextended herself. She's just having a real problem realizing that - even though she feels good "in the head" that her body is aging and it just doesn't do the things she wants it to do anymore.
Jackson started eating rice cereal, so he's starting to "grow-up". It looks like he enjoys eating, he just needs to get the mechanics down, and not unintentionally push the food out of his mouth. Practice, practice, practice.
He still has this WONDERFUL laugh, and me like an idiot, forgot my iRiver to record some of Jackson's meanderings.
He's also, umm, "squawking" a bit, where he obviously wanted to say something, and he says it out loud... dang, if you can tell what the hell it is. He thought it was important.
We all left a little early, since I was "off my feed" and Jackson's bed time was just the right time to [pack him up and get him into the car for the drive home.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Baked Ziti with Friends
We got a last minute invite, and Carol & I headed into the city tonight to hang with our friends B&B. We enjoy just sitting around and talking and finding out what's new in our lives. They made Baked Ziti, so we can sit around at talk Soprano's for a while - along with other things going on in the world... and in our lives. I think I've said this before, but if we were to classify us, B&B are "Movie people" and Carol & I are "TV People", so when we're over at B&B's, you can bet they've planned a movie for the night, either a rental or a cable On Demand, or, if the stars align correctly, a movie on cable. Tonight, there wasn't much of a pick, and for some reason B&B wanted to watch a movie from one of our favorite production companies - Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. We love Aardman films, and B&B never saw a Wallace and Gromit flick. I think it's safe to say that they enjoyed it.
By the time I got home, though, my throat is burning and sore. I'm coughing a bit. Oh, crap I'm coming down with something...
Thursday, March 23, 2006
I actually had an opportunity to walk around outside yesterday afternoon, and I did so without a jacket.
It was 49 degrees and the sun was out.
I didn't walk very far, just around a parking lot at Northwest Community Hospital (Long story... Carol was in for an outpatient/day surgery kind-of-thing ...no big deal... and I had to wait around, so that's one of the things I did)
I bring this up because it's Spring. That 49 degrees is also the average for this day.
I've been bitchin' and moanin' that the weather sucks and I'm tired of it.
It's supposed to be in the 30's with snow today and the next couple of days.
See? THAT'S why I want this over with. I just want it to be AVERAGE. It doesn't have to be SPECTACULAR SPECTACULAR, just AVERAGE. That's all I want.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Our little curling team is now 3-1 in our competition. Going into tonight, I didn't expect that. In fact, the game was back and forth all game, with us pulling into the lead with 3 points in the 7th end. Then - I think - we had another two in the 8th and that was it. It was down to the last rocks, too.
So now we're tied with another team. I don't know what's going to happen next week. All I know is that we can't have a playoff - that would be the week after and that's my first White Sox game! And - in my life - certain things take precedence!
We've got Primary voting today in Illinois (thank God... I couldn't take the political ads anymore, let alone the autodialiners with recorded messages, leaving them in our voice mail...)
I'm not voting.
I never vote in Primary elections because you have to declare a party and you can only vote for candidates in that party. I don't believe in that. I vote for candidates that I want, regardless of party. And I don't want to be pigeon-holed as a Republican or Democrat.
I know it's my civic duty, but it's more important to me to be free of party politics.
Monday, March 20, 2006
I had my physical today - first time in at least 4 years. It was your typical thumped-prodded-poked-and-pricked type of physical, not to mention, um, coughing and bending. I've got orders for two MRI's and a referral to a neurologist. Drawing blood wasn't a big deal today - peeing into a cup was. I had nothing - I guess I didn't drink enough water during my 12+ hours of fasting.How embarrassing. I had to drink as much water as I could, waited around the reception area reading magazines for at least half an hour before... I could leave.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Yes! It's finally here!
The last FULL day of Winter!
Going to be in the 30's all week, though. Crap. Winter - astronomically - will be over, and yet it still hangs around. It's been sunny the last couple of days. It's taunting. It's teasing. Sun. Blue Sky. I hear it calling... "Come outside... it's nice... and cold..."
Can you tell I want this over?
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Ahhh... alone on a Saturday...
Carol decided to take off and go up to Gurnee Mills (after visiting Jiffy Lube) and give me most of the day to myself. I've got some audio recording and editing to do today (hint hint), so this is just a wonderful feeling. And the "Ball Boys" (Chicago White Sox) (as we call them, as opposed to our "Puck Boys" being the Chicago Wolves") are on TV this afternoon.
What a nice day. Thanks, dear!
Friday, March 17, 2006
White, no green
Since everything was covered with a crust of snow, nothing came close to looking green on this St. Patrick's Day. Cardinal George has given general dispensation so we can eat corned beef and cabbage... as long as we do some other penance. It may be easier to lay-off the meat than to figure out a good penance.
It's going to be a cold weekend here. When the hell is spring going to show up?
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Friday, March 17, 2006: Optional Memorial of SAINT PATRICK: The optional memorial of SAINT PATRICK, March 17, 2006 falls on Friday of the second week of Lent. Because of this, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., has given a general dispensation from the norm to abstain from meat on this day. Please note that this dispensation is for Friday, March 17, 2006 only. On this day (Friday, March 17, 2006) Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago who choose to make use of this general dispensation are asked to substitute another form of penance for the Lenten Friday abstinence.
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Thursday, March 16, 2006
Just as I thought - no teeth
The snow stopped. Not even an inch outside. Oh, and the only reason I saw the snow blowing sideways is because of the slight wind that was being funneled between two buildings and it looked like hell. When I actually left work, the wind wasn't bad, and the snow was those big flakes. It covered all of the tree and bush branches everywhere, while the streets were wet (thanks to ample salting by the local municipalities) and traffic wasn't really all that bad.
I had a feeling that the weather critters were just pumping-up this storm up for our area and nothing happens. Again.
OK, the ground is covered now. That was quick. OK, maybe this is not going to be very nice...
All day log - nothing.
I've had my head deep into my work and just looked up and looked out the window at the end of my row of cubes.
The big snowflakes outside are blowing sideways, left to right. I can see the start of accumulation down below in the grass and the dirt around the trees and bushes.
And so it starts...
Where is it? Bring it on!
Where's the snow?
Where's all this stuff that's supposed to cause havoc today?
C'mon, bring it on! Let's get it over with!
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Still another piece of sky falls
Oh, God, here we go again...
Apparently we've a Winter Storm Warning for tonight and tomorrow. Up to 6" of snow north of us, but I'll betcha we get 1"-2".
We have had too many nice days recently that I'm done. I want this over. It's almost "Spring", for cripes sake.
C'mon. Screw the snow. Where's the sun and 50 degree temps?
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
We smoked our opponent in curling tonight. They conceded after 7 ends. I think the final was 10-2 We were missing our Vice Skip, Craig. His sub, though, probably could be classified as a "ringer". Yeah he's been curling for 23 years. And he's only 26. Yeah, he started when he was 3 - he's from Canada, what would you expect? I knew something was up when he walked onto the ice and - without warmup, just crouched in the hack and pushed-off - and when halfway down the sheet in perfect form.
After the game, I found out that the bar has a Canadian satellite feed (as well as DirecTV). we watched curling from Canada on TSN for an hour or so. Very entertaining.
I'm starting to fall into the game. things are very slowing starting to work the more I play.
Couldn't study for this test
Was St. Alexius Hospital this morning for my first series of test on my legs to try to figure out why they twitch so much. I was scheduled for a Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) and electromyography (EMG) test.
For the first time since this whole thing started years ago, somebody actually said something that made me feel "better", because at least it was something.
She (the neurologist) was doing a quick physical before we started to prodding. She started manipulating the soles of my feet to measure my reaction when my left leg twitched. She was able to recreate the twitch on command. She stopped, thought a second, and said to me "I'm going to do this test, but this test isn't... it's probably a problem higher up, in the spinal chord". (I asked later about what could it be and she said something like a disk out of line or even a vitamin deficiency, and she recommended a full spine MRI.)
So we started the NCV. I had forgotten how painful/upsetting that test is (yes, I've had them before), because they are applying POWER to the nerve, with increasing voltages. Holy crap, I just LOVE that feeling, plus having your extremity involuntarily flailing all over the table. Though the doctor always apologized for dong it, she kept doing it. The EMG is no fun as they put needle-like sensors into the skin, into the nerve, and you have to move your leg/ankle/toes to measure how well the nerve is firing. To top it off, they also have it amplified on a speaker so you can hear the nerve firing. Great. I was glad it didn't last long and I went back to work quickly.
The report should be at the Doctor's next week, in time for my physical.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Checkin' the Doppler 3000...
Let's see... it's Chicago and the weather has been changing just about every friggin' day for the past week.... Today, it's High Wind Warnings with winds up to 50-70 mph (according to a news tease I just saw on television). Saturday, the temps were in the 60's. Last night, huge storms blew through the area. A week ago yesterday was 1-2 inches of snow. Our sinuses are going nuts. Headaches galore. I just want the temperatures above, oh, let's say 47 as an arbitrary number. I'm done with Winter - give me a full-on Spring, as long as it's warm.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Right under our nose
I had a very odd thing that happened last night at the Wolves game during the First Intermission.
There's a phenomenon that happens to season ticketholders at sporting events. Over time, you start developing a new "clique" of friends. At first, this new "Sports Family" may be just people that you may not have started talking to, but may be made of people that you recognize game to game, and perhaps you've made nicknames for. Over time, because of your connections as fans of the team you are watching, you start talking about the team. This could take months or even seasons before that start happens. Eventually, depending on the people involved, you may start talking about other things, outside the team and the sport - maybe even personal things. It's usually by now you may learn the person's first name. It's rare to eventually find out their last name, unless your relationship starts to transcend just your sports relationship and they actually become friends.
I had one of those things happen as I was standing around with two other guys, Joe and Bob, part of the "extended family". That's when I found out that all three of us went to Gordon Technical High School - Joe graduated in '73, Bob in '78, and I graduated in '75 - which meant I was in school with both of them.
Do I remember them? Hell, no. The school was too big (the year I started - 1971 - we had 2,770 students).
Too bad my yearbooks are buried in a closet in the 2nd bedroom, impossible to get to. I need to see some pictures!
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I went to the Country Club tonight, with hopes of just practicing and just cheering-on the team while my substitute plays for me.
Wrong - no substitute showed up.
I was dieing out there. My stomach acid was really stirring up stuff. I'm getting better on my rock delivery, but I just can't get the weight correct. It's only my 3rd time on the ice, so what can be expected of me? More practice time?
Anyway, we lost big (9-2 maybe, I don't recall), and conceded in the 6th end.
At least that meant I had less rocks to sweep.
You know what, though? Sitting around in the bar area after the match - I actually felt better. Go figure.
Man, I'm not feeling right today... I feel a little light-headed, a little "disconnected". I even feel a little week. It feels like my blood pressure medication is screwed-up.
How the hell am I going to sweep 48 stones tonight? I'm never gonna make it. I'll fall over or passout. I need a sub.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Let the good times curl!
It may be Mardi Gras.
It may be Fat Tuesday.
It may be Shrove Tuesday.
It may be Paczki Day. (or is it?)
For me it's the first night of a 5-week "Spring Fling" in-house Curling Tournament at the North Shore Country Club.
If you read this entry about my last time out on a sheet you never would have believed that I was doing this.
read more of this entry »
Dreams die. Some die harder.
Well, this is no longer a dream of mine. If I can't deliver a stone in the conventional manner and have to use "The Stick", I will never be in the Olympics. With that in mind, now it's more of a curiosity. Now, I'm seeing if this sport can last with me and not a flash-in-the-pan thing... though I've always been interested in the sport.
Everyone has been divided into 6 teams (A through F), so we were on 3 of the 4 sheets. It turns out the the guy that "introduced me" to the stick at the open house is the Vice Skip on my team. And my cousin - who got me into this to begin with - was on the other team we played. The game will be up to 8 Ends (instead of 10 Ends).
OK, one lesson learned: When you're a second, you have to sweep up to 6 of your 8 stones (because the other 2 you're delivering). That's a lot of sweeping. SUCKS. MUCH more physical than I had thought.
On the plus side, I had purchased some grippers to go over my shoes for traction. Never slipped once - worked like a charm. The Stick? Well, i need some work. My issues: Speed, arm position, aiming, and releasing, in that order I think.
The game takes about 2 and a half hours, the other team concedes in the 8th and we win 9-4.
OK, this is something that I need to do for the 5 weeks and see how this progresses.
« hide the extended part of this entry
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Twilight Zone at the Oasis
We were on our way to the Wolves game from Chelby & Damian's and had to make a pit stop at the Lake Forest Oasis on the Tri-state Tollway. While we were there, we decided it was cheaper to eat at McDonald's than to try to buy food at the Allstate Arena.
Let's just say that the Oasis turned into the Twilight Zone.
First, there were about a half-dozen school busses parked on the northbound side. Looked like High school kids, but it was a weird group - normally dressed kids mingled with kids dressed-up. What's that all about? What kind of event were they at?
Then we saw something that we just couldn't figure out:
2 Amish Families. Eating dinner at McDonald's. At an Oasis.
Think about it. (For those of you that don't get it, here's the question: how did they get there?)
Let's put the cherry on the top - how about Bill Kurtis stopping for Ice Cream, something from Panda Express and a drink from Subway? (He was going southbound, so maybe he was going home from somewhere).
Actually, maybe it wasn't two Amish families, but it was one woman with 4 kids... without a man being around? Or maybe it was just extended family of the first family...
Great people watching while we eat...
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Back on the meds...
So, I started re-taking my blood pressure medication after yesterday's doctor visit.
The problem is that it's a mild diuretic.
Great. All day at work, it's work-work-work, go to the bathroom, work-work-work, go to the bathroom, work-work-work, go to the bathroom, ... rinse and repeat...
Hope it doesn't last long. I don't remember how long it was when I was finally back to normal last time on these. Also, this is half the dose I used to be on.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
The next step to make things right
I visited another someone today that I haven't seen in a while - my doctor.
I haven't been there in 3 years. This is probably worse than my dentist, though. Why? I have high blood pressure and during this time I haven't been on medication for it.
I've been slowly and slowly feeling worse. I don't exercise. I've gained weight. I don't exactly eat well.
Blood pressure? 144/100 - 144 is better than I'd thought it would be, 100 is worse than I thought it would be
I need to try and fix the things I can before "something" happens from neglect.
So, I'm back on some medication - the same drugs, though in half of the dose I used to take. Things change, I guess.
I'm getting older. I want to... be around longer.
There are places to go, things to see, things to do, things to be.
I've got to turn this around. Back in a month for a physical.
Monday, February 20, 2006
A couple of things about our cars and commutes.
We have only one gas card - for Mobil. We both have Speedpasses - the best little piece of consumer payment technology out there. So, needless to say, when we get gas, it's been exclusively Mobil.
there are quite a few Mobil stations in our area, and in what may be some collusion-thing, they all change their pump prices at the same time, always to the same price. When somebody doesn't, we always joke and say "they must not have received the fax".
So every station near our house has the same gas price. Further away, you run into different municipalities that could (though I have never checked this out) tax rates, so the prices may be 1-2 cents off.
Now, another thing to share is that I have only used one grade of gas in the lifespan of my 1997 Infiniti I30 - premium. I started it out that way, it's always run GREAT, so I'm not changing it, even when the damn oil prices were skyrocketing.
Now that I'm working in a different building, my commute takes me a different route, past a different Mobil station.
It took me a few weeks to verify that this was indeed happening - the price changes at this station were different.
It turns out that - for the last 4 weeks, at least - this station would drop their premium pump prices by 4 - 6 cents, while keeping the other grades the same price - each Monday. The next day, the prices would all be back in order.
Needless to say, I've been stopping each Monday on the way home to fill-up, whether I needed to or not, to take advantage of this odd pricing scheme. I really would like to know what the "why?" is behind this. I really don't care, since this fits my needs very well! I'm just curious...
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Pain and frustration
Oh my God, I'm in pain today. Things that didn't hurt last night hurt today. My right knee really hurts to the touch - because I fell twice on it as I jammed it into the ice last night. It's got a nice bruise on it and it's swollen. My right thigh is killing me. The whole leg feels "odd" since the falls. But, I think I just figured-out why the thigh hurts - I think kit's from my several attempts on pushing-off the hack last night. I'm so out of shape that I hurt myself. Great.
My left thumb tip is a little discolored after I jammed it hard into the ice on the first fall. I thought it was interesting that when one of the people from the club came over to me after the fall, the first thing he asked was "how are your fingers?" which I thought was odd since my knee was killing me. It must be a common injury.
My abdomen hurts, too. It's like a muscle pull. Like I twisted rpidly trying to get my legs underneath me one of the time I fell (or even all the times.. .I'm thinking back and it was at least 3 times)
I slept pretty well, considering. I still have pain around my right eye, exactly opposite where my head hit the ice. Deceleration injury. that's the only thing I could think. I'm not a little "foggy" today, but something isn't the same as 24 hours ago. Nothing feels wrong but something doesn't feel right. But, I keep checking myself and there's nothing major wrong or different. I'm not concerned. Perhaps I should be.
I realize that there's an emotion that's present that explains how I feel about last night.
That's how I felt about my total lack of ability to do something that everyone else (at least, oh, 60-70 other people - based on ticket numbers to go out onto the sheets to "try it") was somewhat able to do. It didn't matter age, sex... maybe height. It didn't matter - I couldn't do it.
And no one would actually get down on the ice and help me, show me, put me in the proper position. I was left to flounder - in front of everyone, leading to frustration and now what I think is embarrassment.
That's why I feel so awful about last night. I'm depressed and hurt and hurt.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Another dream shattered
It's that time of season. It's the Olympic Winter Games.
Ever since I was a kid, watching Wide World of Sports with Jim McKay on Saturday afternoons, back when the show really presented the wide range of sport, I always watched curling.
I really got sucked-in 4 years ago watching the Olympics in Salt Lake City.
I really felt this was a game I could play. It had simple rules, and simple skills to master. I could really dig playing this game. Maybe I could get somewhere playing it, even. How cool would it be to get good enough at it to play in the Olympics?!
Let me tell you the story of how I could have died tonight, playing a sport that looked so cool and so easy to play.
Yes, I went curling tonight.
read more of this entry »
My cousin joined a country club that has one of the few curling houses in the area, and once I found out that 1) he was curling and that 2) they were having an open house, I think the phrase he used is that I "freaked".
I had to do this. How cool was this going to be?!?!!
So, we show up at the club, and there was got to be almost 100 people there, almost all were new to the sport. It was great! The members were going to take groups of 8 out onto one of the 4 "sheets" they have to learn the fundamentals - how to push off and deliver a rock, and how to sweep.
Part of our 8 were family or friends of ours (theirs) that we knew through the years. This was going to be fun.
We learned how to push off the "hack" - the toe-thing that you push against to get your body moving down the sheet the deliver the rock (stone). We first learned without a stone, just to understand the mechanics - place the right foot onto the hack, just like a starting block for a running race. Stand straight up, and squat straight down. You would hold the rock in your right hand (you wouldn't be picking it up - it's over 40 pounds!) and you'd hold on to a stabilizing brace with your left hand (or a broom - that's how your supposed to do it) and just push-off with your right leg.
Piece of cake.
I'm the only one who can't do it. I can't control it. I can't stay straight. I can't stay level, I start to roll... what the hell is going on? I just can't get stable. And everyone in the group is doing fine. Everyone can do this - except me. I look down the other sheets. Everyone is doing this - except me.
Frustration sets in. My joy has gone away. It's not fun being here any more.
We learn how to sweep. Turns out it's a little awkward - the best way is to face the direction of your movement, but the rapid brushing takes a lot out of you and I feel totally uncoordinated. Some ties the rocks just fly by - it's hard to keep up.
We break up and go back inside where after a Short wait, we're going back out into new groups to play at least one end of a game.
I'm first to throw.
Let's just say that I'm allowed 2 tries since I rolled over on my back and the rock didn't make it past the 1st half of the sheet. The second throw, same thing, but the stone makes it into the house somehow! Still don't feel good about this - how can I compete if i can't control what I do!
Now it's my turn to sweep. You know what's going to happen.
Yep, my legs come out from underneath me, and I slip and fall forward, my right knee hits the ice hard, my arms are flailing and I hit the ice jamming the tip of my left thumb. Hurts like hell. Difficult to stand - the lower half of my right leg feels week. I hobble back to our team's end.
Obviously, my shoes suck. I'm not gripping the pebbled surface of the ice well enough. I'm loosing my balance trying to move with the stone and sweeping at the same time.
We eventually change ends.
Still can't deliver worth a damn. No one really helps me - they don't understand what I'm feeling or what's happening. In fact, everyone thinks this should be a piece of cake and no one offers a clue on how to correct this in a way that makes any sense to me. Nothing seems to fit. I can't get myself into any position that looks like anybody else. Weird.
then I go out to sweep and it happens.
I'm moving down the ice. The stone is a bit quicker than I was ready for. I'm trying to stay with it. I'm feeling like I'm reaching too much...
when my feet slip out from underneath me
This time, I'm flying backwards. Fast.
I hit the ice. Hard. With the back of my head.
I know I stopped, but I swear that the rest of the place stopped. It got quiet and too many people are starting to try to get to me. I hear them yelling to stay down, but I feel intact, and instinctively sit up. I can feel -no, taste - something in my nose, it's a weird sensation. I never lost visual, I never saw stars - just felt like this was a crazily hard whack to the head like I've never experienced before. People got to me and started asking me the same questions that I expected them to, how many fingers, follow the finger, just sit there a while (I really wanted to say "I'm... Batman!! but no one would have understood the inference to the Snickers commercial of a few years ago.. ("Not going anywhere?")). One of the guys that is with me came from down the sheet because of the sound my head made hitting the ice. I could feel something dripping off the back of my head. Fortunately, it was cold and not warm - water from the ice and not my blood. I didn't crack my head open like so many feared.
I got up. I was shook. Everything just added-up. I needed to go back inside, sit down, get something to drink (non-alcoholic!) and try to get back to normal.
i didn't want to play anymore. I couldn't do this. I'm too frustrated. What I thought I could do, I couldn't.
It looked simple, almost easy. I could have cracked my skull open hitting the ice and never had another thought again. It really shook me and scared me.
I must have sat there for over an hour. Dejected. Watching my cousin and his friends and the rest of the party having fun on the four sheets of ice.
When my cousin's game was over he started talking to some people. Before long, Two things happened. First - and importantly, i was introduced to a guy named Craig who introduced me to "The Stick". This little device - allowable in the club and even in some tournaments - allows a person to clip this stick over the handle of the stone, the person then WALKS toward to hog line and delivers the stone from the end of the stick, in a manner not too different from shuffleboard, but with a twist of the wrist at the end.
Now all of a sudden, I'm delivering stones pretty near like everyone else. the stick is typically used when people have back of leg trouble. One problem - I would never be able to be in Olympic Competition - the stick is not allowed.
I think I can live with that.
The second thing that happened was I was able to use my cousin's wife's (oh, hell.... Myrina's) "grippers" or foot coverings. It's a soft rubber crepe shell that you put over the sole of your shoe.
Let's just say the traction was like night and day. I might be able to sweep with these. If someone just would have done this two hours earlier, the night would have been so much different.
And thus, my problems were solved. Except for my extensive pain, my bruised well-being, my shredded ego, my staggering disappointment.
I'm spent and upset. I haven't felt this since... I wasn't able to fly on NASA's KC-135 "Vomit Comet" in Houston decades ago with my friends, to do zero-g experiments for some high school students... but that's another story.
Nonetheless, it was a feeling of another dream shattered.
Something that seemed so simple, wasn't.
I hope I can sleep OK tonight. I hope that nothing got screwed-up in the gray thing inside my skull.
But, I just can't think of the disappointment right now.
« hide the extended part of this entry
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The start of making myself right
You know where I went today? Went to see someone that I haven't seen this millennium?
What's the big deal?
He's my dentist.
Yep, had x-rays, teeth cleaning and a discussion of what to do next. For the first time this decade.
Feels good getting the "sweaters" off my teeth. Yes, there was some discomfort during the cleaning since he had to work a bit to get everything done.
What's next? I have to get all four wisdom teeth pulled. I knew this before.No surprise. No new cavities. That was sort of a surprise. No gum problems. That was a surprise. I just need these teeth out. I'll do it - all at once, if possible.Don't know when... let's see how much my procrastination kicks in.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Well, I have to admit... I might be bummed about the White Sox tickets, but I just got this Happy Valentine's Day picture from Jack, and how could you not feel good looking at a picture of that little guy!
Monday, February 13, 2006
It's time for the annual plop down on the couch and watch the 130th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on USA Network.
yes, it's Carol's favorite time of the year.
Except it got even better because we found out that Universal HD is re-broadcasting the USA feed - IN HIGH DEFINITION!
Yes, puppies in Hi Def.
Actually, I'm having trouble with it - the dogs look a bit more, how can I say this, mucous-y? Even their eyes look weird.
Maybe it's just me - Carol is just digging this...
Friday, February 10, 2006
The "guys" that I go down to the deli every morning for coffee (or whatever) showed up at my cube. One of them, quietly, fake yells "Yo-ooooooo, Mike!"
And immediately I was taken back to my childhood, when Paul and Albert would come to my house, stand in the gangway between the houses, and yell my name, just the same way. It was a kids-style doorbell, specifically for me. They'd alway come over before we walked over to Steinmetz to play ball on one of the diamonds (or even fast pitch against the stairs at the front of the school)
It was a wonderful, if not brief, trip back in time, to a time of warm sumer days, no school, and baseball for hours with your friends.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
For a few years now, Carol & I have been watching Bullriding on TV.
Then we started to watch the PBR and paying attention to some of the riders.
Then we started watching Beyond the Bull on TLC, a reality show about three riders toward the end of the 2005 season.
I think we got pushed over the edge, and started researching the PBR's Built Ford Tough Series in town on April 21,22 - The Jack Daniel`s Invitational (presented by Johnsonville Brats!) We have baseball on Saturday, so we could only go to the first night on Friday the 21st.
Then came the next hurdle: ticket prices. $100/$50/$30/$20 $100 for downstairs! We had to go to the balcony to get $30 tickets! For our first PBR event, we weren't ready to pay $100 a seat!
So, we got our tix and we're looking forward to this. Last time I went to a rodeo, I almost died from my allergies and sudden onslaught of asthma. It wasn't fun.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
It's Super Bowl Sunday!
Super Bowl XL!
I am the proud owner of a 55" Sony HDTV!
What am I doing today? Going to my mom's with Carol and Diane, Melinda and Jackson... to watch on her old, out of focus 27" Zenith. The focus is so bad, that a couple of weeks ago, Diane - who doesn't know ESPN's Suzy Kolber doing sideline commentary at a football game - wanted to know why her first name was "Buzy". The "S" had bloomed so much on the screen it looked like a "B". Since then, we just call her "Fuzzy Kolber". The scores and clock is always a problem because you can't really tell the difference between a 3, 6, 8, or 9.
Compare that to HDTV. *sigh*
Why am I not home? Well, we did invite the family over, but 1) Jack's a little young, 2) Melinda has a big presentation first thing tomorrow, so let's chalk it up to "family harmony".
The game was... OK The officiating was THE WORST I HAVE EVER SEEN FOR ANY FOOTBALL GAME. Ridiculous. Oh, yeah, like Roethlisberger actually scored that touchdown. No wonder Holmgren was upset at the half.
Commercials: OK. Some were good, none were absolutely great. Budweiser (specifically, Bud Light) takes the day in general. Pepsi? No, not this year. Best Network Commercial? Robert Palmer and "Addicted to Lost". For some reason, I've been pissed in past years - especially when the game is on Fox - at the amount of commercials the hosting network airs. Somehow, ABC didn't bother me. Maybe it was the shows.
Of course, earlier in the day, we had to watch Puppy Bowl II, this year with the Kitty Half-Time Show. Goofiest idea ever. A three-hour long show, started at 1pm CST, and was repeated 3 times in a row. Pretty damn cute, but... no way in hell I could watch reruns. I thought the half time was a little long.
Speaking of half-time, sorry folks. Rolling Stones didn't do anything for me. I expected them to kick ass. I've never seen them in person. If this was indicative of their live shows... then I guess I don't have to see them in my lifetime... or theirs.
We left early and we were able to see the last 5 minutes at home in HDTV. At least it was 5 minutes.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
We've had over 40 consecutive days of above average temperatures. The average temperature has been around 10 degrees above the normal average. that's all over. They're using the word "blustery", and it's been snowing for a while.
It's not as bad as Detroit. I mean, they're getting hit with snow. That's gotta screw-up traffic for Super Bowl XL tomorrow.
I've been enjoying the temperatures. Next week, the forecast is showing single digits overnight toward the end of the week. I've always said that Mother Nature always wants balance. I've seen it too often during baseball season as we (usually) freeze in our seats, but just depends what happened over the winter and even the summer before. Everything just seems to average itself out.
Friday, February 03, 2006
A guy at work brought in his "son's" Pinewood Derby car. Finished 3rd, but placed 1st in Creativity.
Yeah, like his son made the car. Still pretty damn cool, though.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
six more weeks of winter, if you believe the German superstition.
Even though there was no sun (but there's a shadow???), it was supposed to get up to 48 degrees today in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Now, I wonder how large Phil's "domain" is? Is the prediction just for that region or the nation? If it's not the nation, then why do we have to see the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle roust this little guy out of his hibernation, lift him into the air for all to see, and basically scare the crap outa him?
Do we need regional groundhogs for more accurate predictions? (Phil's in a rut - according to the Groundhog Club, Phil has now seen his shadow 96 times, hasn't seen it 14 times and there are no records for nine years.) (Holy Christ, he's been doing this since 1886!). Shadow = 6 more weeks of winter, No Shadow = Early Spring.
A bit off-topic, but did you guys know that the movie Groundhog Day was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois? (Oh, and Bill Murray's character is named Phil, too)
Update: This just in: Cloudy Groundhog, Brookfield Zoo's resident meteorologist, didn't see her shadow.... Early Spring!
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Flooded Kitchen, Take 2
those of you who know me, know about the time when I was in my first unemployment run, I had ran some water in the kitchen sink... and never turned it off. I went upstairs and was on the computer for an hour or so, then came downstairs only to find out that the sink was clogged and it overflowed, flooding the kitchen, moving water into the family room and dining room. I had to go buy a shop vac to try to get the water up in the kitchen and try to dry out the carpeting in the other rooms.
Let's jump forward a couple of years now. To last night.
We had bought a Rubbermaid drink jug that holds about 2 gallons of water that we filled-up with filtered water and put into the fridge. It has a plastic spigot on the front to pour out the contents.
I went into the fridge last night to grab a glass of ice cold filtered water. I played with the plastic spigot handle "thingie" and spun it around so the "paddle" faced out, to make it easier to hit when filling up a glass.Big mistake.
I closed the fridge door, set my drink down in the family room, and went into the powder room to... use it.
I came out and then I heard it. Carol had been sitting on the couch but didn't notice.
It sounded like running water - like the faucet in the kitchen sink was dripping. It wasn't.
The sound was coming from the fridge.
I ripped the door open and saw that the shelf on the door had depressed the "paddle" on the spigot of the water jug. Opening the door lets go of the paddle and the stream stops.
It just gushed over a gallon of water all over the inside of the fridge, which really doesn't contain the water all that well, and have released more than half of the gallon onto the floor. Our brand new, Brazilian hardwood floor.
We scrambled. I grabbed a ton of towels that happen to be dry, still sitting in the drier. The bunnies freak and just go home to stay out of the action.
Carol, swearing and upset, takes charge and dries out the floor - all the way under the fridge and in the main part of the kitchen. She empties the fridge, shelf by shelf from underneath the path of the streaming and splashing water.
So, the kitchen didn't flood. The hardwood was saved. And we got rid of a lot of old stuff that we'd never eat... or shouldn't eat. It only took about an hour and Carol is still talking to me. The bunnies came out of the cage and went into the kitchen - together - to check out what had happened.
It sure wasn't as bad as the first time, but it sure came up in conversation a lot.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I found my answer - Robert Ferguson
I knew I would find my answer to avoiding tonight's speech in my TiVo. It's just that it took me by surprise. It was, by far, the most moving, remarkable, real moment of television that I probably have ever seen.
It was last night's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
I've come to really enjoy this show and specifically Craig. He's a wonderful host. I mean it, this guy should be the next host of the Tonight Show, not Conan O'Brien. He's a wonderful interviewer. He really listens to his guests and doesn't work off of cards with scripted questions. He researches the guests and really engages them. It's for these reasons we set a Season Pass on TiVo for him - it's worth it.
And then, this show happens.
Lately, when he comes out, he's been wearing a jacket but no tie. This started happening when he stopped doing a monologue and actually started telling stories, something unique and more effective for his style. Tonight, he's in a black suit and tie. He's not the same. He doesn't even sound the same. His Scottish accent is noticeably thicker.
He warns the audience that tonight's show won't be the same. Tomorrow, everything will be back to normal. But for tonight, he had a special thing he had to do.
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On Sunday, his father died. The show was in reruns all last week (so were other late night shows, so it wasn't unusual). Craig had gone back to Scotland with this young son, to effectively say goodbye to his dad who had been struggling for a long time with cancer. He was 75 when he died.
The rest of the open was, in effect, a wake for his dad, with Craig telling many stories.
I friggin' cried like a baby throughout the whole friggin' show. I mean, snot oozing from my nose, ugly crying.
Craig - never once shed a tear. He broke once, though - pausing a long time to compose himself - telling a story... "When I was watching television with him, I used to sit in front of him and he would sit behind me and he would put his hand on my head. And I loved that. And he did it last week in the hospital."
Craig picked his guests just for tonight, "friends" he called them, because it's in times like these you just want to sit with friends and talk.
First guest - Dr. Drew Pinsky. The two talked about the grieving process and you learn more about the inside of Craig than any interviewer could have.
His second guest - Amy Yasbeck (you know, the wife of the late John Ritter) - also, perfectly selected to talk about loss, grieving, and how they don't want "closure".
The musical guest - yes there was one - was the Wicked Tinkers, a rockin' Scottish pipe and drum band, that Craig joined in at the end of the show (he plays drums as one of his many talents), playing a tune that I think is called "Highland Laddie."
(See TV Squad for more info about the show.)
If you get a moment and have Real Player, go to the CBS website and watch his tribute. See and experience what I'm talking about.
It's worth it.
Rest In Peace, Big Scrubber
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Monday, January 30, 2006
When did that happen?
I was brushing my teeth this morning when - for some reason - I noticed for the first time that my two front teeth have been wearing-down. The edge isn't straight anymore, like I've been gnawing on a piece of wood for the last few years.
Damn it. Time to go to the dentist. Last time there? 1998. Next time there? Feb 16th.
Crap. I hate needles and pain and... dentists. I mean, our guy is great, but... I still don't want to go.
Time to pay the piper.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
I have a certain special event coming up 2 weeks from today and I need to be presentable for it. Really, I need a suit and the ones I have, though they've served my well for the past decade or two, finally... *sigh*... don't fit.
It's bad enough to be short. It's worse to be overweight as well. Leaves your shopping options pretty limited.
So, Carol & I headed off to a special store, just for me - Napoleon's Tailor in the city. It caters to anybody under 5' 8" (yes, I'm only 5'3" on a good day).
Walked in the door, nobody in the store (well, there's not a lot of "us" out there). As soon as we got a salesman, he had me take my coast off, took one look at me, went to a rack, pulled a jacket of of a hanger and held it up so I can get into it.
Fit like a glove. This guy's been in the business for a while - he knows what "we" look like.
The unfortunate thing what just gets to me now, was not that it was a 46 (I have some pretty broad shoulders - always have). It really wasn't the "Extra Short", though the "extra" was a little startling. It was that last word - the word that I have not come to accept. The one that I've rejected for too long, ignored for too long.
46. Extra Short. Portly.
Made me want to spend lots of money getting pants that fit right (alterations are free here).
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Flying with B&B
Went over to B&B's house tonight. It's been raining all day, and sometimes pretty heavily. They both worked on a great beef dinner (not to mention slaving-away on... Eli's cheesecake).
They rented a movie to watch - Flightplan. I'm not sure liked it. Don't know why, just feel odd about it. Moved slow. Found some things implausible. Tried to be entertained. Nope. Didn't like it.
If you've noticed, that's something Carol & I don't do - rent. We may - MAY - do a Pay-Per-View on DirecTV, but hardly ever. I also think that's the main difference between B&B and us - They're cinema, we're television. Those are the things we seek for entertainment. They rent movies, watch movies on cable/on demand. They even enjoy the long-form British miniseries (you know the type, 2 hours long, 4 shows to a "series"). Carol and I are just television people. Perhaps due to the skewing of our ages? Don't know.
There's a small bar that we pass driving to their place, on Addison almost under the Ravenswood "L" tracks called Tiny Lounge. We've always wanted to go there because 1) it looked cool and 2) looked intimate 3) looked retro 40's/50's. On the way driving to their house we saw it.
Empty. Sign gone. On the way home, I pulled the car over to take a look in the rain. I piece of paper - stationary from the bar - hung on the door.
"Thanks for your patronage. We look forward to serving you at our new location. Please visit us at www.tinylounge.com"
No indication of where the "new location" is. The stationary is from this location.
Website doesn't help, either.
Monday, January 23, 2006
But I don't want to go to school today, Mommy...
Nope, can't do it.
Have got this pain, in the middle of my stomach. Sharp, stabbing pain. Spent too much time in the bathroom last night.
No, not going to work. I don't want to suffer there - especially without a badge that won't let me in anywhere. I figure that would be a real bad thing. I could lay around and sleep and recharge for the week.
Hmmm.... this is pretty close to what it felt like back in September, though the pain overnight was pretty bad, it doesn't feel as bad in the daylight.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
The snow came all right. We gt at least 6" overnight. It was really coming down during the "thundersnow" (though we only had lightning and not thunder).
The plows came through the neighborhood and salted behind them. it's so warm out that the streets have no snow or slush on them - they're just wet.
Diane and Melinda bought a new Sony Vaio, so today I drove into the city to get it unboxed, setup, and - wit any luck at all - talking to the old machine. After setting things up and making sure that the machine did function, we drove to a Micro Center in her neighborhood. I've never been to one and I really enjoyed the place - I like the way it was laid-out, like the book section (thought it was pretty big and complete) like all of the D.I.Y stuff (Ditto - thought it was large and complete). I don't know, I just liked the place. We bought a crossover cable, a new LCD monitor (hey, Diane wanted it), a few other things, then drove over to Fat Willy's to pickup barbecue for lunch.
It was great seeing little Jackson in his "native environment". You can tell he's more comfortable and he's more animated and ... well, it's just his "natural setting".
Well, after working the crossover just fine and getting the machines talking to each other, Diane and I had a more detailed conversation and we weren't on the same page. While I was loading some software on the new machine, she went back to Micro Center to pick up a router. I was amazed on how quickly we got both machines up and running with a PPPoE connection with Earthlink over the router. That was the quickest thing that happened all day - too bad we didn't do it earlier.
Anyway, I got them up and running for a while before leaving for home (we have a hockey game tonight). Very nice new machine at a good price - again, from Micro Center.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Temperature Hump Day
According to the Tribune's Eric Zorn, in his blog, yesterday was the date where the average daily temperatures at O'Hare start to go back up.
Tonight we're supposed to get 3"-7" of snow overnight.
I know that temperatures do not necessarily equate to snow, but it just sucks anyway.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Slept most of the morning. Carol made a late breakfast that we called brunch and then we slept some more. We're not recovering from this trip at all.
Went to my mom's this afternoon. Got there in time to watch the the beginning of the Bears game. Jackson was on my mom's knee - watching the game. He watched the game all evening. He was glued to the TV. OK, here's not yet 4 months old and I'm sure it was just the colors and moving pictures, but he was watching. In fact, he kept making noise anytime Carolina was on screen. I don't know hoe to interpret it. I got a chance to hold him for a while and talked to him and described what was going on. He watched and seemed interested. Again, remember - not yet 4 months old.
Jackson has grown since the last time we saw him - which was Christmas - he's getting stronger, can hold himself erect, can even support his weight on his legs, he's vocalizing more, drooling more. He's great. He's leaning toward left-handedness as that's the hand/arm he's really moving around. Ooooooo... Left-Handed pitching is always in demand....
We celebrated my birthday since we all weren't together since Christmas. I got my first "Uncle" card from Jackson. It's so damn minor, and I know that it really wasn't from him, but it's still important to me.
Well, the Bears sucked. They just didn't show up to play. No offense. Defense - not complete. Never felt good about our pass coverage this year, and somebody figured that out. So much for football this season.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
This was a long day. We were pretty well packed and ready to go since we were in the room less than 18 hours when the wakeup call came at 6:15am. We didn't want to leave the room - it was the best room we've had - by far - throughout our visits to Las Vegas. The bed was phenomenal as well. I did a video checkout, but the bill never got sent to our fax machine before we left. The sprint to the Hertz drop-off at McCarran was easy and the bus to departures was half empty and prompt. United/Ted check-in wasn't bad either, as was security and the shuttle to the D Gates. Waiting for departure was rough just because my legs twitched and hurt.
We were delayed in leaving by about 20 minutes - and, according to the pilot, it was due to a "medical situation" at the gate. We have no idea what he was talking about. The flight was uneventful as both Carol & I slept on and off all the way in. It was a sunny day and cool and actually a bit refreshing (if not "bracing"). Baggage Claim - no issues. We rode the "peoplemover" to Remote Parking with a guy I knew years ago at a former job - he was the head of HR for a while, then the head of Training for the company. We briefly chatted about people we knew and parted ways at the end of the ride.
Again, nothing unusual at the parking lot or the drive home. We stopped at Pompei to pickup dinner since it was almost 4pm and we hadn't eaten all day. The "kidlettes" (a.k.a. Indy & Chip, the bunnies) seemed to like the fact we were finally home.
The time at home felt... "milky" and just passed in a haze.
We were home. The trip was over. The time had passed. It's over.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Jay and the Deli
We got up with the sun and started getting ready to leave. I popped downstairs to the "food court" at the Luxor (and I use the term loosely) to get Egg McMuffins and Krispy Kremes to make it through the morning. We eventually got packed, worked our way downstairs and checked-out. We made our way to the back of the casino and out to the parking garage. It was getting late, so I attempted to get Carol to the Mandalay Convention Center - too bad I never found the entrance. It was getting later and Carol was getting more and more frustrated at my rare inability to find the entrance. I finally gave up, drove into the Mandalay parking garage, and dumped her off at valet parking for the hotel - which used to be the entrance to the "restaurant row" right outside Rumjungle. (I found out later that I was exactly where I thought I was even though the signage had changed)
I drove back up to the Fashion Show Mall, still again. This time, though, I wanted to go across the street to the Wynn. I wanted to see what it was like outside the property and how the entrance looked. First thing I noticed (other than what I saw the other night - the sign moves) was these great waterfalls that you can't see from the street. They were really tall and were just outside of the Esplanade entrance to the property. The Esplanade is not unlike the shopping area the brings you into the Bellagio. Same concept, just outfitted to Wynn specs.
This time around I found more places within the property - like the Buffet (Champagne and Bloody Mary brunch. I was able to get a picture or two of a hole on the golf course by walking through the Country Club Steakhouse. The lake that we saw at night looks different during the day (gee, no lighting effects. Duh.) It's still amazing how all of these things are hidden from the "great unwashed" in the street.
I took a chance and drove to our next hotel to get registered for the evening: The Venetian. OH. MY. GOD. What a room. And it's just like all the others in the hotel - all suites. In fact, the living area is a two-step down from the sleeping area of the suite. We did spend an extra few bucks on getting a view - this meant 31st floor and facing the Strip. Well, it didn't face the central strip - we had a view of the Mirage right across the street (handy for tonight), Treasure Island, the Fashion Show Mall and the Wynn. (Oh, and a big construction space next door that I think is going to be The Palazzo). This wasn't a bad view at all from this height. What a room. We're going to get spoiled. Too bad is a bit expensive.
After taking pictures of the room and the view outside, as well as getting the luggage and things moved into the room, I had to take the car to get "gassed-up" (i.e. replace the gas that was used before returning it to the rental company). Since I only have a Mobil gas card, I tried to find one nearby. Nope. I wound-up at a 76 south of the strip paying cash. oh well.
Got the phone call from Carol and I swung over to Mandalay to pick her up. I took her back to the Venetian and right to the room to show it to her, because I know she would love it (she did). We went back downstairs to the Grand Canal Food Court to grab a late lunch/early dinner knowing that we'd have to find food later tonight.
Afterward, we split up - she went back to the room, I had pictures I wanted to take at Paris and Aladdin before the sun set.
I should have drove over there. It would have been faster.
Instead, I walked out to Las Vegas Boulevard, and went south, passing Casino Royale, to Harrah's, where I walked the entire depth of the casino and out the back to go to the Las Vegas Monorail stop. I took the Monorail to the Paris/Bally's stop. Through the stop is directly behind Paris, I had forgotten that the stop actually services Bally's, and I had to walk through the god-awful Bally's shopping area below the hotel, then up into the casino and then into the shopping area of Paris and then through the entire Paris property to get to Las Vegas Boulevard. And by the time I got there, the sun has already started to sunk behind the buildings and mountains to the west. Crap.
This damn Las Vegas Monorail - though a great idea - is doomed to fail because it only services the backs of the properties. Who the hell wants to walk through an entire property to get to an overpriced monorail (cost me $9 for a round trip ticket) - just to have to do it again at your destination? And they want to expand it to the airport? Could you imagine doing this whole trip with luggage?
I grabbed whatever exterior shots I could of Paris before I lost the sun. I didn't care about the exterior of the Aladdin. I went inside to check it out - it's in a transition this year to become the Planet Hollywood Casino and Hotel. It used to have a large airy feeling with a tall ceiling over the casino. They've managed to kill that by chopping-up the place with full floor to ceiling walls, walling off... what? Can't tell. Looks like hell.
There were workers outside laying Red Carpet on the stairs - tomorrow Mayor Oscar Goodman was doing something with the Miss America contestants (yes, Miss America will not be in Atlantic City this year - it's at the Aladdin. Go figure.)
I had gone down to Paris because I wanted to show how they screwed -up a nice piece of land next to that great fountain they have outside. They've added a new restaurant - Ah Sin - that has outdoor seating that goes up to - and a little bit around - the fountain. I don't like it. I just love the area at the fountain, and they just kind of hosed that.
I retraced my steps back to the Venetian and soaked my now ravaged feet and legs and hell, my body, too, in the tub in the great bathroom. It was a valiant attempt, but I was just too sore and twitching too much - only drugs could knock that down.
Eventually 8 o'clock rolled around and we got dressed and walked across the street to the Mirage.
We have tickets to see Jay Leno, one of the very few performers doing something in town this week. It fit our budget and actually sounded like it could be fun. He was in the Danny Gans theater (who also was not performing - I think he's out for shoulder surgery). We waited in a long line to get some drinks before we went in. Theater was nice and was a nice size - one level, not too big). Jay actually had an opening act - a country music guy Derek Sholl. Good music with funny, cleaver lyrics. He did a little over half an hour, then Jay came out and did an hour and a half (this after flying up from L.A. after taping his Friday night show). He was actually a lot better than we had thought. It was like the Tonight Show, but not. He could talk about things - for a while - that he couldn't really talk about on air. And never swearing once in the act. Refreshing. Good stories, good jokes about a wide range of topics, whether current events (more like what he would do on the show) or things about cars and family. A very good show.
On the way out, we hit the Carnegie Deli and got one corned beef on rye to share (and a piece of cheesecake). We took it back to the Venetian and ate it in our hotel room around midnight - not a great idea if you want to sleep well to travel the next day. DAMN that sandwich was HUGE.. GOOD, but huge.
But, this it it. Our last night in Las Vegas. Tomorrow, it's back home to the grind.
Boy, I wished B&B were here this week. I can only wish that we will all do this together like we used to.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Paris at night
After Carol left for the day, I wanted to go just a bit north, so I took the tram to Excalibur. God, I hate this hotel/casino. I hate the theme, I hate the way it looks. I walked across the ped bridge to New York New York and went down to the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard. NYNY has made a permanent memorial area of display cases that hold rotating items that were left right at this spot back in 2001. For some reason, many Americans felt the need to memorialize and remember anyone involved in the events of 9-11 and they picked this spot, at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, to leave notes, letters, drawings, paintings, Fire Department t-shirts and patches back in 2001. NYNY saved all of the material and now displays some of the items in permanent glass cases. It's something that needs to be seen. It's not big, but it somehow feels important.
I went inside and walked around the faux-cityscape floor of the casino. I was getting hungry so I stopped at Jodi Maroni's Sausage Kingdom. Great Polish sausage, but they don't have a friggin' clue on how to make a Chicago Style Hot Dog.
I walked back across the street and took the tram to Mandalay Bay and walked to the convention center, put on my fake persona (Carol had, ummmm, found a badge laying on the ground during booth setup so I was able to get in to the show). I went over to Carol's booth, hung out there for a while and Carol went on break for lunch. We found a table in the snack area of the convention center and carol relaxed as much as she could.
We split up after the break and I drove to one of our favorite casino's: Hard Rock. The place hardly changes year-to-year, and this year is no exception. I just love the look of the place (the use of hard wood everywhere) the music, the vibe... oh, yeah, and the cocktail waitress outfits...
I drove around a while afterward. I drove back to Green Valley Ranch and realized they were building a new parking garage and it screwed-up the current drive to the main hotel entrance. Found an actual rush hour traffic problem on I-215 by Green Valley due to construction.
I figured-out the main traffic problem that we've been hitting daily on the Strip - almost doesn't matter what time of day it is, though it's much worse in the evening. The strip northbound is at a standstill between the M&M's Store and Harmon Avenue. One reason is due to the extreme right lane having to merge into another lane. But the real culprit is at Harmon itself, just about killing the right lane: it's the pedestrian traffic crossing Harmon - it's slow and at times extensive, stopping any traffic try to make a right turn eastbound on Harmon. the whole block or two could delay your travels up to half an hour.
I briefly saw the Las Vegas Premium Outlets and the World Market Center during my tour around town. Anyway, I headed back to the Luxor and waited for Carol.
Carol has been wanting me to have a nice sit-down dinner this week, so tonight we drove over to Paris. We walked up without reservations to Mon Ami Gabi and got a very nice table for two overlooking the the strip and the fountains at Bellagio. The food here is always great and the atmosphere is as well. And - if you're close to the doors or actually sitting under the heaters al fresco on the patio - you have the entertainment of the music and fountains from across the street.
By the time we finished dinner, it was definitely dark, so we did something that Carol has never done - we went upstairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower to see the view of Las Vegas at night. The winds were about 10-12 mph (according to a wind gage I found near the elevator upstairs). this is really the only way to see Las Vegas at night - forget the Stratosphere. It may be taller, but it's too far north of the central strip area. Carol was really tired from the show, so she stayed upstairs to watch one Bellagio fountain show and she went back to the casino to sit down. I stayed upstairs for almost another half hour taking all kinds of pictures from up there. Eventually, I felt I had to get going to get Carol home. I went down and found her sitting at some slots - she couldn't find an open blackjack table (with the correct minimums) for her to play.
We slowly walked to the car and drove back home. The show closes tomorrow and we're staying an extra day - but at a different hotel - which means packing. Tomorrow, not tonight. We're too messed-up to attempt to do this tonight. We'd fall asleep gathering stuff.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Venetian Taxi Service
I was up and out the door at 6:05 am, still fully dark (the sun doesn't come up for almost an hour here in the valley), As I drove up Las Vegas Boulevard, it looks like there was a crunched-up bicycle and an ambulance (and Metro Police, of course) in front of O'Shea's - no idea what happened.
I drove Sahara and then out to Boulder Highway. I saw three squad cars parked along the side of the road at the Walden Motel, so I parked in their parking lot and joined the handful of very cold people, sipping on the hot coffee's in the dark, just talking and waiting.
I met this woman from Chicago (I'm a target with my White Sox jacket and hat) who claims she was on Jenny Jones as a Karaoke Queen, and that she just moved out here a year or two ago and how great Elvis Night's were at the White Sox games. We actually talked about that for quite a while and how she would dress-up and really get into it (she used to date an impersonator) and picked-up the nickname of Elvisa. We met another woman, a native American by the name of White Dog. There's quite a collection of humanity out here in this small group of people.
Now, what the hell were we doing all together?
Well, if I went to a brand new casino (South Coast) and if I shutdown an old casino (Boardwalk) there's only one more thing to do with a casino.
At 7am, just a few blocks north of us, the Castaways Casino (formerly the Showboat) was being imploded. I've never been to an implosion and didn't know what to expect. The only thing I planned for was to have the sun - when it finally rose - to be behind me (even Channel 8 here got that wrong, so you just see something like a silhouette). Well, they pushed the plunger at 7:5am (5 minutes late) and - though the explosions were startling - that sucker dropped within seconds and was just... gone (except) for the cloud of dust. We shared our goodbye's and I took off for home, getting there at 7:35 hoping to share the video with Carol, but she was already gone for the day. I mean, implosions just need to be shared.
Time to go back out and start my picture taking. I took exteriors at the Luxor and then drove to the Bellagio - my favorite parking place for access to the mid-strip. Had an embarrassing experience - I accidentally set off the car alarm as I was fumbling with my keys just as I entered the Bellagio. Glad I decided to go back to the garage to see if that was my car making the noise (it was). The Bellagio Conservatory was closed and being converted for Chinese New Year coming up. I took shots of some of the restaurant exteriors and then went outside to get shots of the hotel exterior. The sun today is being weird - there's a lot of high-level cirrus clouds that are filtering the sun, so it's not a crisp light. As I walked out front along the "lake", I noticed still another ambulance and police in front of the entrance to Paris - another accident, perhaps one with a cab.
Walked over to Caesars - they were working on the fountains out front, but there appears to be a huge fountain right in front of the building that i don't remember before. I was upset to see that there was no Ice Skating going on out front like last year. Of course, it's warmer this year, so I'm not sure if that's why there's no ice. Inside, there's not much new (I don't remember the registration area looking like that). The Forum Shops are always huge and there's always something a little different as stores move around and come and go. I needed some water after all of this, so I bought a bottle from a kiosk... obviously a problem with the refrigeration unit, because as I was drinking that great, cold water I realized that there was ice in it! Refreshing!
Time to eat. I walked back to Bellagio and drove to In-N-Out Burger. The place was so packed, I ate outside at a table, which was actually the correct choice on a somewhat sunny day. Got a Double-Double and coke and just watched the world go by... until I saw a guy, sitting with a girl a couple of tables away, reach down and - one handed - picked-up a pigeon and held it up to the girl. She wasn't pleased about it so he put the bird down. Six of their friends came out of the "restaurant" (can you really call a fast food place a "restaurant"?) and the girl immediately starts telling them when the guy did. Sure enough, the guy walks up to another pigeon and picks it up and holds it up to his friends. Just a weird little piece of life.
Since I was in the area, I drove over to Rio to see what's new over there. I saw a new game - Rapid Roulette. It's a live, standalone roulette wheel surrounded with sit-down video terminals. People make their own bets on the video screens instead of on a felt layout. Saw my first "bevertainer" - as I was entering the main casino, Shania Twain's "I feel Like a Woman" started-up and a cocktail waitress took a small stage in the middle of some slots and danced along. Nice, but eh?
Had to go back to the Fashion Show mall to go to LensCrafters to get my glasses adjusted - the damn nut on the right lens keeps loosening. I love the way these frames look, I hate the maintenance headache they've become.
went back to the Luxor about mid-afternoon to wait for Carol. After the show today, they are all going to dinner at Delmonico's at The Venetian and I was volunteered for Taxi duty. I didn't mind at all, but the traffic on the strip has been getting a little "hinky" around Harmon. I got them there only a few minutes late. After I dumped them off, I parked the car in the Venetian garage and decided to shoot evening exteriors tonight. I walked across to the Mirage, down to Caesars, across to Flamingo and back to The Venetian, taking up most of the evening. I hung around the Venetian for a while, thinking they would be getting out soon - wrong. I gave up and went back to the Luxor. Just as I was opening the door to our room, the cell for rang. They just got out. Sorry, I'm staying in - the girls took a cab home. We're all exhausted - I could imagine how the girls felt.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
End the day with Jack-In-the-Box Tacos
Carol had to go register and actually setup the booth for the show, so she was out of the room by 7am. The local morning news shows were showing police activity at the Gold Coast - some guy robbed one of the cashiers and when he went running through the parking lot he shot at a security guy, hitting him in the leg. The robber got away. (They showed videotape later in the day - the guy shot at the security guy 3 times - you can actually see the muzzle-flash on the tape).
I was busy working on a finger problem this morning - for some reason, my left ring finger is a little swollen, discolored and a bit sensitive just to the left of my fingernail. It's almost like the nail is growing into the skin. I'm cutting and digging and I can't see anything (though there was a little puss that came up - *eewwwww*) Carol has me looking for Neosporin and hydrogen peroxide to clean this up.
Since we closed a casino yesterday, I thought I should go to visit the most recently opened one - the South Coast. It's miles down Las Vegas Boulevard. In fact, I think Las Vegas Boulevard further south of the casino goes down to 1 lane in each direction.
The casino is Brand New - it opened on December 22 (after opening ceremony fireworks set the roof on fire! No major damage was done) It's nice and roomy - and even though it's in the middle of nowhere, there were quite a few people there. In fact, the largest line I've seen on this trip so far was at the buffet at this place (I heard a worker pass by saying "what the hell are they still doing here? haven't they figured out that it's crap?") Checked-out the brand-spanking-new 64 lane bowling center (all VERY new Brunswick equipment). Another big highlight that wasn't completed yet - an equestrian center.
I made my way all the way back up Ls Vegas Boulevard to the Mirage to pickup our tickets to Jay Leno this Friday. I was getting thirsty again so I actually went to the Bonanza General Store, up at Sahara and the Strip. It had to be one of the most armed and secured general store I've seen in this town. Not only did I grab a Coke, but i grabbed band-aids and Neosporin! I sat in the car & doctored-up my finger. Now it hurts a hell of a lot more now that I put the damn band-aid on.
I have something planned for tomorrow morning, so I had to drive along Boulder Highway to "scope out" some possible locations to take pictures. As i was passing Boulder Station, there was another huge police action going on. there were cops, ambulances, TV cameras. Found out later that some guy shot a guy he knew at a bus stop - at Boulder Station (something about allegedly molesting his daughter).
I was getting tired and needed to crash, so I went back to the Luxor - only to find the room not made at 2 in the afternoon. So, I walked over to Mandalay Bay and went into their Convention Center to get an idea of how the show that Carol is exhibiting at was laid out. Note to PPAI: your signage SUCKS. Enough of that - I walked back to the room. Now and hour later, the room was done. I nursed my finger some more and took a nap. Carol was exhausted when she came back after the setup, so she soaked in the tub (quite deep and formfitting and very nice, apparently). She didn't want to go out for dinner, so we made this little side bet - who would get their food first. She ordered room service. I jumped into the car and drive down the street to Jack in the Box to get 6 regular tacos (only $3.20!). I stopped in the store on the first floor and got a Michelob Lite (available here in aluminum bottles), and then I ran into Carol's co-worker Teri near the elevators. Well, let's just say by the time I got to the room, room service has already came and carol had finished eating! Well, I still had my tacos and beer to drown my sorrows...
Monday, January 09, 2006
Carol had to go to the Mandalay Convention Center to oversee the startup of the booth area for her company at this week's trade show (the real reason we're in Las Vegas - she's here for work, I'm here because it's cheap for us!)
She was there for only a few hours, so we met-up and drove to the Boardwalk casino on the strip. This place is very small and old. There's only one reason to come here today - it's closing forever at noon and will be demolished to make way for MGM-Mirage's master project for the property between Bellagio an Monte Carlo. The parking garage was pretty empty, but people were still walking their luggage to their cars having stayed for the last night at Boardwalk. The pit was open, with only 2 blackjack tables and one craps table operating. The Race & Sports book looked like it closed days before. This place is so small, this is probably the only place on the strip (or many other places) were the they use half-sized craps tables (it's basically half a craps table). Employees came in and signed farewell messages on some of the walls. TV crews were interviewing people, and MGM-Mirage itself was there to document the shutdown. I walked around, took pictures inside and out (Carol wont go outside because of the signature piece outside on the building - a huge, friggin' clown face).
We went back to Fashion Show Mall to grab a quick lunch at the Food Court, bought some cheap binoculars at Sharper Image (hey, I forgot to pack ours and i just gotta watch operations at McCarran!), and bought some cologne at Nordstrom (Armani Mania - I ran out).
I was exhausted and had to go back the Luxor for a nap. Carol went to the free 2pm Hold 'Em Poker lessons here. 2½ hours later, I was up and Carol was back having lost her shirt. She loved the experience, but realized that she pays attention to her cards exclusively to the action happening on and around the table.
Dinner was at Cravings Buffet at the Mirage. There are a lot of changes happening inside at the Mirage. New bar areas around the central "jungle", new restaurants (including a real Carnegie Deli - probably the only one that had a hostess stand in front of it), a newer look to the casino (with new signage), gorgeous new High Limit areas (like we would be able to play in there) and a huge nightclub opening this weekend called Jet ("3 rooms, 3 Sounds").
There's something that's been pissing me off on this vacation - the amount of children here, almost all running out of control - through casinos, through restaurants. They don't belong in this town, let alone actually in the casinos. It's wrong. I bring this up because of a family of 6 at Cravings, where there was one of the girls (2-3 y.o.) was running and screemin through the restaurant, without the parents trying to control her (then there was the time where the mother went to one of the stations to get something to eat, the young girl was doing her run/scream, the toddler is crying her eyes out while being held by dad who was on a cell phone and walking around the table area - this one event cleared-out everyone sitting within 2 tables of them - until dad had to run after the 2 year old who by now was dishing out food for herself at the salad station)
Great dinner at Cravings, though. I highly recommend it (dinner buffet $45 for 2 plus tax) WIDE selections of food.
After the Mirage it was time to visit the new gem of town - the Wynn. (Yes, named after Steve Wynn, the man that built the Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio - to name a few).
WOW doesn't sum it up. Can't. It's unbelievable. Better than Bellagio (his last resort). Richer, lusher. And, as we walked around the casino, I stopped to take a picture of one of the restaurants (the Chinese "Red 8"), there came Steve Wynn himself, alone, on a cell oohing, dressed absolutely impeccably. Wow - our Brush With Greatness™
for the trip. This man - for a period of time - shaped the gaming and hotel industry of Las Vegas itself.
Carol was pretty exhausted by then, so we went back to the Luxor and crashed for the evening.
There's one thing that makes or breaks your feelings on your hotel room, whether it's a good room or not:
The shower. Specifically, the shower head, both the coverage/spray pattern and even more importantly - the water pressure.
Yep! We got a good one! Refreshing!
Side note - odd. The mirror in our bathroom refuses to fog. Does it have something to do with desert humidity in a 19th story hotel bathroom?
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Trying to be cheap
So the $2 20-oz bottle of Pepsi from the vending machine down the hall pissed us off, so we went to Walgreen's on the Strip and bought our soda for much cheaper ($1.29) and snacks for the week. Actually, we went to a 7-11 first that is also on the strip in a place we've never seen before but they just didn't have the selection we wanted.
Afterward, we went to the MGM Grand. Carol hadn't been there for a few years, so I wanted to show her the new restaurants along the Studio Walk all look wonderful (and ranging from a little pricey to "Oh-My-God!")
But we couldn't find anyplace to eat. We didn't want extravagant and we weren't dressed for some of the places, so we went to the Studio Café where a Reuben (me) and Eggs Benedict (Carol) cost $45. Whoa.
Back to the hotel and crash for the night. Carol's been snoozing for a while and I'm turning-in right now. 'Night!
Finding the Sun
Got up at 4:15 this morning, finished packing, showered, dressed, drove to O'Hare to catch Ted 1485 to Las Vegas. Upgraded the seats to Economy Plus just to get the extra 5 inches of legroom. Worth every penny. Still couldn't open the laptop due to idiot in front of me reclining in my lap. Saw Just Like Heaven as the movie westbound. Got to Vegas on time to be met with 47 degrees and sunny and not a cloud in the sky. FELT GREAT.
I FOUND THE SUN.
Went to Hertz Gold and had a Ford 500 waiting for me (much nicer car than I thought it would be), complete with the Neverlost system. We drove to Green Valley Ranch in Henderson (the subject property of The Travel Channel show American Casino) to have the Feast buffet. More expensive than I thought but really worth the money. Would definitely go back. Walked across the street to walk around The District. Got in the car and drove to the Luxor, where we checked-in and crashed. Crashed hard. Enjoying the downtime - already a long day, with hours yet to go.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Carol and I are all packed. We're skipping town tomorrow morning.
I always say I'm going to blog from the road. I usually write a post or two, then I get caught up in the vacation, enjoy it, and spend my time away from the computer.
So, for the next week, I'm not guaranteeing any postings. It's a vacation for me, so if I post - good, if I don't - good, I'm enjoying myself.
Oh, and where are we going?
Viva Las Vegas, baby!
Man, I loved this man's voice.
Lou Rawls died this morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, where he was hospitalized last month for treatment of lung and brain cancer.
He sang the National Anthem at U.S. Cellular Field for Game 2 of the World Series, just over 2 months ago on October 23, 2005.
I was already anticpating startng a podcast back then and I recorded everything I heard from our seats at the baseball game.
You may hear my MP3 recording of Lou Rawls singing the National Anthem at U.S. Cellular Field for Game 2 of the World Series by clicking here.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Sometime around the weekend I remember commenting that gas prices went uo 5 cents.
Tonight, on the way home it went up another 10 ents?
15 cents in a week? What the hell brought that on?
Trying to Breathe Right
Well over a year ago, I started noticing that I'm not really breathing through my nose as much as I should. My sleep has been off for the past year as well. So, I thought I'd try a quick remedy to see if it would help overnight - Breathe Right nasal strips.
The first night, they worked really well. Not great or perfect, but really well. Now, I've developed this weird problem:
Sometime, during the course of the night, I wake myself up as I'm pulling off the Breathe Right strip.
Mind you - I'm fully asleep, and I only wake up because of the pain as I'm ripping the strip off (and oh, BTW, what the hell kind of adhesive IS that? Pretty friggin' powerful, if you ask me!)
It's happening every night at different times - I take of the Breathe Right strip with no knowledge of me doing it - until it comes off.
So what is my sub-conscious telling me about these things? They seem to work - why pull them off early? How does it interact with a dream (which I don't remember)?
Maybe they're too high or too low and my subconscious knows that and is taking them off because they were installed incorrectly...
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Happy Birthday to me.
Yes, I turned 49 today.
It's turning out to be a bit scarier than I thought. Carol gave me a card this morning (well, she didn't give me one, she gave me 5, and she didn't give them to me but rather hid them for me to find like on my desk chair, in my bag I take to work, in the medicine cabinet, on my steering wheel) and in one of them she said that "1 more year and you can join AARP!"
Oh crap... when the hell did this happen!!! I'm a year away from qualifying for Senior Citizens discounts! I'm not even a Senior Citizen! What the hell! I'm still in my 40's!!!
Oh, dear Lord, help me...
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
To hell with the darkness
I'm getting tired of the darkness.
No, not at night - the daytime darkness.
It's been cloudy and rainy for what seems to be a week. I haven't seen the sun in days. Some mornings we have fog to go along with the dense overcast. It's really screwing with my ability to function. I have an intense desire to... hibernate. Sleep, under a warm blanket. Somewhere. Anywhere..
I need to get my energy up - I mean, I wasted 2 days in a row - now I need to work (oh, yes, the first day back at work is always so wonderful). Caffeine only helps so far. I need sunlight.
Where the hell is it????
Monday, January 02, 2006
Wasting - Day 2
Well, watched the Tournament of Roses Parade in HD for the first time (coverage courtesy of KTLA in Los Angeles, broadcast by WGN here in Chicago). REALLY great seeing the detail. REALLY crappy seeing the detail of everything washing of the floats because of the torrential downpour.
Then, some of the Bowl games in HD - gotta love HD for sports!
Anyway, back to wasting the day.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Wasting the New Year
Yep. Slept all day.
I haven't been up for more than an hour all day. Except now. I've been awake for 4 hours and it's time to go to bed. Think I've screwed up a good night's sleep. Maybe I need to "assist" the sleep a little bit.
Ushering in the New Year
Well, we made it home. Carol had to drive the last half - I was getting too tired.
A subdued evening, but still a good time. I love our New Year's get-togethers. I love to see (and taste!) everything that everyone made for the evening. It's always good quality, it's always well thought out (never just slapped together thoughtlessly at the last moment). Good eatin'!
One of the major differences this year is that we never watched a movie - we actually put on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve at 9pm, way before anything was happening.
Of course, we had to wait to see the return of Dick Clark. He had a stroke on December 6, 2004, just weeks before last year's show.
He sat at a desk inside the ABC studios at Times Square. It was a bit startling to see. He looked great, but his voice is impaired and he didn't gesture with his right hand at all. His voice isn't exactly the same and his breathing is forced. But, later in the show, as he relaxed a bit, you can here the quality of his old voice was still there, but his enunciation just wasn't there. As he said "Last year I had a stroke. It left me in bad shape. I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It's been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I'm getting there."
Being on the show tonight was clearly a goal he set for himself and he made it. As he said: "I wouldn't have missed this for the world."
The question is - should he continue on? His speech is nowhere near where it should be for an announcer... and it just felt... "uncomfortable"... to listen to him. At times, he has almost impossible to understand. At others, clear as a bell, just raspy.
And I don't know if anyone else caught this, but I thought that during the countdown he skipped a bunch of numbers, like he couldn't count backwards.
Well, after the East Coast celebrations, we turned to our next annual item: making fun of what people wear on our local coverage. None of the women at Channel 7 looked good. None of the women at any of the events Channel 7 covered looked good - except for all of the women that were at the bars up and down Clark street in Wrigleyville (just blocks away from where we were!)
Buffy got a small birthday cake for me from Dinkel's (oh, Yum!) (yes, my birthday is coming up on the 4th)
I love hangin' out and celebrating the New Year. I'd love to see the new year being better than the last!
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Saving my energy for the end
Another easy, snoozy Saturday... have to save-up my energy for the annual party at B&B's. Will blog about it when we get home... tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
The look back
You know how you can tell that Christmas is over? Every friggin' broadcast television network has started airing their year-end retrospectives. Other than the White Sox winning the World Series, there's nothing that I want to look back on. The tsunami aftermath. Katina. The war. Political scandals.
I'd rather forget it.
Update: Ooops. My nephew Jackson was born in September. Can't overlook that. Ok, So Jackson, the White Sox, and that's it.
Monday, December 26, 2005
What a crappy day. It's kind of dark out all day. No motivation to do anything at all today - just recovering from the last 2 days.
I seem cheated somehow - not about what presents I got for Christmas, it's about time. I mean, you get all set for a weekend, but both days of a weekend are a holiday, so your weekend was actually really active and it was a holiday, so you at least get an extra weekday that you don't have to work, but the one day doesn't offset the two days. Do you get it? Where's my weekend!
I got one trip out to CompUSA today - we almost lost our TiVo today. While I was copying something to DVD, the TiVo all of a sudden shutdown and through a Blue-Screen error saying it shutdown because of a thermal problem. I went out and bought some compressed air (I was out) and blew-out the fan on the TiVo as best as I could and opened the door on that side of the cabinet for the rest of the day. I can't really tell if the fan is turning or not - I DON'T need to fry my TiVo....
Thursday, December 22, 2005
A EULA-tide Greeting
I saw this at lotusinthemud. I wish I could find out where the original was. It's a typical End User License Agreement for the holiday season
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Please accept -- with no obligation, implied or implicit, on behalf of the wisher or wishee -- my best wishes for an environmentally-conscious, socially-responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice, practiced within the traditions and/or religious or secular belief(s) of your choice and with respect for the traditions and/or religious or secular beliefs of others or for their choice to not practice traditions and/or religious or secular beliefs at all; and for a fiscally-successful, personally-fulfilling, medically-uncomplicated recognition of the onset of what is generally accepted as the new Gregorian calendar year, but with due respect for calendars of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Britain great (which is not to imply that Britain is necessarily greater than any other country, nor that it is the only 'Britain' in the Northern hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or choice of computer operating system of the wisher.
By accepting this greeting you are accepting the terms of the greeting and all responsibility associated with it. This greeting is subject to clarification and/or revocation at any time at the discretion of the wisher. This greeting is non-transferable without the express written consent of the wisher. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for him/herself or for others.
This greeting is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one Gregorian calendar year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. Warranty is limited to replacement of this greeting or issuance of a new greeting at the sole discretion of the wisher, who assumes no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress this greeting may bring to those not caught up in the holiday spirit. Reading of this disclaimer constitutes your acceptance of the greeting.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Yes! The days get LONGER from here!!! WOOT!!!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
How can Matt Santos win the presidency without Leo McGarry?
West Wing's John Spencer died of a heart attack just days before his 59th birthday.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I'm at home, cleaning out the "trays" in Indy & Chip's cage, when Carol calls from work to let me know she's on her way home.
We have to keep the patio door curtain open when the "kidlettes" are out (Indy & Chip) because a certain elder rabbit (Indy) won't stop chewing on the brand new drape. She's chewed-off a strip of fabric about 3 inches long vertically in a pleat. Not visible at night, but sure is visible during the day since it's a solid dark cranberry color.
The weather outside today is a little odd.It feels balmy, even though it just got into the 30's for the first time in what seems weeks. The snow was actually melting.
Anyway, As I got up to answer the phone, my jaw hit the hardwood (floor) when I looked out the patio door. The snow was coming down. Thick. Big flakes. Can barely see out the door. (I would have used other adjectives, but "coming down hard" only applies to rain and not snow). It was bad out there.
So, I told Carol about it and then we started to discuss what we wanted for dinner and if she was willing to pick it up.
By the end of the phone call, Carol asks if it's still snowing.
I look out the door again and... no snow. It stopped.
I hate when Mother Nature messes with you.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Better sleep though medicine
Have been having some issue with the quality of my sleep the last few nights. I just can't get the mind to shutdown and relax and get some good rest.
I whole heartedly recommend Tylenol PM. Does the trick and doesn't leave too much crap in your system the next day so you can at least act like a normal human being.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Starting to go through all the drawers/cabinets/overheads in my office and separating, organizing and boxing-up stuff.
A week from today I'll be in a brand spanking-new office with slightly less storage.
But it's a MUCH better facility. I'll even have a VoIP phone and a Unified Messaging center (I can get my voicemails in my email... If I wanted)
Oh! And a great looking deli that I'm hoping will be as great as it looks!
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Where the hell was my soap!!!!
I rolled over in bed this morning and get a HELLACIOUS cramp in my right calf.
I'm rolling around in bed, yelling and swearing at the top of my lungs. Carol was downstairs and she came upstairs once she heard me swearing. I just couldn't even point my toes to try to stretch the muscle. Carol grabbed my foot and started pivoting it and rubbed my calf, but it had to be at least 5 minutes of excruciating pain before I just decided to stand on it and walk around to warm it up and stretch it.
DAY-AMN that hurt...
Haven't walked the same since...
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Silence is... scary
The last thing I remember as I was sitting on the couch last night was seeing about 5-7 seconds of the Scottie Pippen number retirement during the Bulls Game. Next thing I know, it's 3 in the morning, the TV is still on, and I'm alone sitting on the couch. I had fallen asleep while watching TV, sitting up, resting my head on my right hand, while my right elbow was on the armrest of the couch. I hadn't moved in hours. I sat up, taking my hand away from the side of my head and realized I had a problem.
I couldn't hear anything with my right ear. ANYTHING.
the whole side of my head felt weird as I must have stop proper blood flow to the skin on my scalp, and my earlobe was tingling. And there was this slight ringing in my ear.
But if I put my finger in my left ear, I can't hear a dam thing.
As the house started to wake-up, I could "work" on my ear and if I tug on it a certain way, I can get some partial hearing back. But it would go silent again.
I made it through lunch, thinking maybe eating something will get the jaw movement to move something around somewhere to get my hearing back. I just couldn't clear my ear.
It's not getting any better, so it's time to have it looked at. There's no Immediate Care places around us, so we decide to go to the Emergency Room of our local hospital.
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The hospital has been in a steady state of construction for a few years now. The new emergency facilities were great. There was hardly anybody there in the waiting room. Just jackets and baby blankets... why do people just leave their stuff there, thinking it will still be there when they eventually leave.
The triage area was nice and the tech there did an efficient job and worried me enough about my high blood pressure to maybe get me back on my medication. The insurance person was efficient as well.
When I finally got called-in - about 90 minutes after first arrival - we went to an ER room with a tech - who had me strip, get in a gown, and promptly hooked me up to a 5 lead EKG. Great. I HATE those friggin' patches because they stick to my fur and hurt like hell when I attempt to get them off of me!
A doctor came in and took a look in the ear and new IMMEDIATELY what was wrong - my ear canal was impacted with wax. The other ear - pristine. He also was a bit concerned about my heart rate (not blood pressure) and wanted to see me after the nurse has her way with me.
The doctor leaves, a nurse comes in and starts to work on irrigating the ear with hopes of flushing out the gunk in the ear. Nada. Nothing happens. Another nurse comes in and is upset the first nurse was already working on me. Seems like the both of them like doing this kind of stuff - getting stuff out of people's orifices. the second nurse leaves as the first nurse really gets into her work. Then she has to go leave to get a different catheter. She comes back, and still another nurse comes in saying that the nurses are fighting over me to get this thing out of my ear. The first nurse if irrigating the hell out of my ear canal and all i can say is two words - wet and pressure. Nothing is changing and nothing is coming out. The nurse sends the third nurse to get some q-tips! We had this nice conversation about how she was a professional and can use q-tips in ears, while us civilians are amateurs and should never put objects in our ear canals.
The q-tips show up and she starts to dig. I feel a pressure change and clear sound as she pulls out this grotesque amalgam of ear wax and God knows what about the size of a very large raisin that was the diameter of my ear canal.
I've never had a wax issue before... and now I'm feeling significantly older, because this is just like what had happened to my dad and even my mom has had wax issues. Hell, hell my sister who is younger than me has had this before... does wax run in the family?
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Thursday, December 08, 2005
Alright! it's 15 degrees warmer today than yesterday! Still below freezing, though. So, since it's warmer, let's mix it all up and get some snow, too.
A STORM SYSTEM DEVELOPING OVER S. MO WILL STRENGTHEN AS IT MOVES ACROSS S. IL & S. IN TODAY.REACHING NW OH BY LATE THIS EVENING. ON THIS TRACK.THIS SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO BRING SNOW TO N. AND CNTL IL & NORTHWESTERN IN TODAY & EARLY TONIGHT.
LAKE IL-LEE-DE KALB-KANE-DUPAGE-COOK-KENDALL-LAKE IN-PORTER-INCLUDING THE CITIES OF.WAUKEGAN.DIXON.DEKALB.AURORA.
400 AM CST THU DEC 8 2005
SNOW ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT CST TONIGHT.
SNOW HAS BEGUN TO DEVELOP & SPREAD NORTHEASTWARD ACROSS CNTL AND NW IL. THE SNOW WILL INCREASE IN COVERAGE AND INTENSITY LATER THIS MORNING.& WILL OVERSPREAD MUCH OF NORTHERN IL & NW IN BY AFTERNOON. SNOW SHOULD REACH THE CHICAGO METRO AREA AFTER 900 AM.MAINLY AFTER THE MORNING COMMUTE. THE PERIOD OF HEAVIEST SNOW WILL BE FROM MID AFTERNOON UNTIL EARLY THIS EVENING.WHEN SNOWFALL RATES MAY REACH 1 INCH PER HOUR. TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 5 INCHES ARE EXPECTED BEFORE THE SNOW TAPERS OFF TO FLURRIES BETWEEN 6 & 8 PM THIS EVENING.
HEAVIEST SNOWFALL IS FORECAST TO OCCUR DURING THE EVENING RUSH HOUR & MOTORISTS SHOULD PLAN FOR EXTENDED COMMUTING TIMES.
A SNOW ADVISORY MEANS THAT SNOW WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW COVERED ROADS & LIMITED VISIBILITIES. USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.
THE NEXT SCHEDULED UPDATE TO THIS ADVISORY IS AT 1000 AM CST.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Living the season
Tonight, on Comcast Sportsnet Chicago, they ran the 2005 White Sox season show that goes on sale tomorrow. It's narrated by Hawk Harrelson and spans 2005 from Opening Day through the parade and rally after the World Series. Well produced, but I'm upset that one particular play wasn't anywhere to be found. It was short, quick and could have been stuck in any montage during the show. It was Paul Konerko and Aaron Rowand turning third and running home and Rowand almost runs past Paulie.
Carol and I both agree that it was great watching the show and it felt like it just lengthened the season just a little bit, like it just ended yesterday. OK, maybe last week. Still feels good, though. It just makes it harder to get behind hockey and the Chicago Wolves with the crappy season they're having.
Monday, December 05, 2005
From WGN's Weather Blog:
Chicago’s 18.3° Dec. average is more than 15° below the long term average temperature and has moved from 9th to 6th coldest on record since 1871.
This week is supposed to be hell, with lows near zero and the highs in the teens. Sucks. This doesn't happen around here until January/February, and it just sucks the life out of you. I'm not ready for this... baseball season is lingering in me and - even though the last game we were at was Game 2 of the World Series when it was raining and in the upper 30's and was really hell, but Damn! It was the World Series! so it didn't matter. Now - it matters.
Maybe that's the reason I've been thinking about Las Vegas lately...
Friday, December 02, 2005
Rash? Hives? Allergic Reaction?
Carol broke out this afternoon. She felt itchy last night/overnight and now she's got this red stuff on her skin like a rash or allergic reaction on the inside of her wrists, around her waist, on the inside of her upper arms. She said she changed laundry detergent recently so it might be that. I went out to Walgreen's to get some Benedryl lotion and pills. She's been asleep all evening due to those.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Tonight was Carol's company's Christmas Party. We were trying to figure out why we weren't at last year's party. It turns out that last year's party was sometime during when Indy got sick and we didn't go because we needed to shuttle her around the doctors. This year's party is at the same place as last year's, which we frequented for out friends holiday party - Magnum's in Rolling Meadows. I feel almost uncomfortable going to these things because you really don't know anybody. And then there's the slight apprehension of not knowing exactly what your spouse may have said about you around the office. So, you spend your time socializing but not saying too much (depending on the topic). We had filet's for dinner - unfortunately they killed the meat. I guess - on the average - people don't want their meat red or pink. I think it just ruins the meat and you run into the possibility of the meat going dry - which it did. Damn, they had good food there.
After dinner was a raffle and Carol won a Magnavox DVD/CD player. Great. Another DVD player. Still, it was a nice raffle gift. By the time we got out of there and got home it was too late - somehow, I over-ate and now I'm just really uncomfortable. Hopefully I can sleep on with the bloated stomach...
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I found something that I like better than Red Bull - it's a new product: Mountain Dew MDX Energy Soda. The taste is a lot better than Red Bull, and it's neon green. It's a soda (probably a Mountain Dew base) with ginseng, taurine, guarana, d-robose and maltodextrin... whatever the hell those are.
Yeah, much better.
My fear? It's a test and it's not in full production. In fact, I can't find it anywhere around me except for one Jewel on Roselle Road, and then only in a cooler at the checkout and not in the soda aisle or mixed-in with the other energy drinks. Hard to find. Pretty expensive, too - priced like an energy drink: $1.75 for a 14 oz. bottle.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Back to Bull
I used to drink coffee in the morning when at work. But then I noticed that the sludge at work wasn't always the greatest, and sometimes I'd get a flavored coffee if there was something left, then I had to put milk or cream in it and I never really counted the sugar packets... all in all, I was doctoring the coffee everyday and it was never the same day to day. I started to think about what I needed. It was just caffeine, so I started drinking Coke in the morning. At least that way, it would always be the same, never changing in content. I drink it over a full tumbler of ice in a Thermos™ tumbler - and the ice that I get at 8 in the morning is still with me at 3 in the afternoon.
For the last month or so, I've been getting these bouts of fatigue, sometimes so severe I almost - just almost - fall asleep at my desk in the middle of doing something. The caffeine wasn't helping.
So, I tried something I used to drink - instead of Coke, I had a couple of cans of Red Bull in my cabinet. Now, it's only a one day trial, but, yeah, that did the trick. I'll try it the rest of the week. Oh, and I'll watch my sleep, too.
I just wish the Red Bull had a better taste... sometimes I think it's just the taste that keeps me alert.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Went out at lunch to grab something to eat since there just isn't any food worth buying in the building any more. We had thunderstorms and heavy rain overnight. The rain eventually ended sometime this morning - without a window near my cube, I couldn't tell you when that happened.
I walked out of the building and didn't realize that, though it was sunny and 60º, the winds were hellacious. They were blowing from directly behind me as I walked toward my car.
For the first time in my life I almost got blown over. Almost. The wind was directly at my back so it pushed me along, but the scary part was when the wind actually blew my legs forward. In fact, the wind blew my leg forward twice. Thank God that I was balanced on my opposite leg as I walked, but it was actually really scary to momentarily lose control of you leg when walking and have it move forward by wind-power. Weird.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Slept the day away
Today was Sleep Day. That's all I did. Carol left to go to work for a few hours before the Bears game. I went downstairs and slept most of the morning, occasionally waking-up to watch TV, but usually falling asleep while I was watching. Fell asleep during the Bears game (something I usually do anyway. I always fall asleep somewhere in the second half). Found myself dosing off the rest of the afternoon and into the evening when Carol and I were watching TV together. All of a sudden, my eyes are closed and I don't remember drifting off. It's like one minute I'm engrossed into the story on TV, and the next moment, I'm waking up, not realizing how much time had passed. OK, so it wasn't a productive day from the standpoint of getting anything done, but my body sure thought it was productive...
Friday, November 25, 2005
Wonderful day off. Other than going to the Hoffman Estates skating facility this morning, it's been a day of sleep. Also, a day of snow - we got our first accumulation. It's not even an inch, though. I guess there's more up north and toward the lake.
So, I fell asleep on the couch, and may glasses fell off - again - while I was sleeping. I didn't know that when I woke up, and shifted around on the couch - that's when I heard a "ping" and my glasses shot across the room. I picked them up and put them on and they looked intact. I was wrong as within an hour I was getting a pain on the side of my nose - sure enough, I had lost a nose guard.
Damn, that means I have to go to Lenscrafters for a quick repair at the busiest mall in the state - Woodfield Mall - on the worst shopping day of the year - the day after Thanksgiving. Great.
The streets were slick, but there wasn't a lot of traffic going there. The parking lots looked full, but on closer examination you could see holes everywhere - it's late enough in the day that people were going home (I mean, the mall opened at 6am this morning), so I got a spot 4 cars from the door. The mall was full, but nothing more than a really bad Saturday. I really wasn't a bad experience at all. Totally tolerable. Oh, and service was quick at Lenscrafters, so the trip didn't take long at all. Thank God.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Wow. Great dinner.
read more of this entry »
Something happened to the turkey this year. I didn't really change anything, but it turned-out totally different. More moist (not that it wasn't moist these other years). Oh, and it didn't look like a piece of charcoal itself when it was done - it was nicely browned. Only change to the bird: stuffed an onion in it. Only change to the cooking: decided to make little smoking boxes for the hickory out of aluminum foil instead of throwing wet chips onto the hot coals, perhaps cooling-off or extinguishing some charcoal. Oh - change of venue, too. With Wind Advisories out from the weather service, I moved the grill inside the garage, though I still prepared the chimneys of charcoal on the driveway.
Well, you can tell another stage in Jack's development - his lungs are bigger because his cries are much louder. He was fussy and a bit tired.
Everybody was in good spirits, and everybody actually went home at a responsible time!
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Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
It's turkey time here in the house and I'm way behind schedule. I'm not going to blog the doings this year - just too far behind and not enough energy.
Check out the prior years - 2004, 2003, 2002. If you want to see a video on my technique on barbecuing a turkey on a Weber Kettle Grill, be sure to check out the video in 2003.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Why am I still here?
Counted cars out the window.
10-story office building.
59 cars in the parking lot.
Nobody is here. Why am I???
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Reiterating - I am NOT a hardware guy...
I'm not just talking computer hardware either. If you know me, you know that I can't swing a hammer, I can't build anything, I can't install anything.
Exhibit 1: Ceiling Fan. Resolution: Hire an electrician.
We purchased a new curtain rod for our patio door back when we had the house repainted back in the beginning of May as House Project #2 (#1 was new flooring end-of March/beginning-of-April).
I looked at the instructions and I turned numb. It's just a friggin' curtain rod - how come I can't figure this out? I struggled looking at the diagrams and the text and trying to correlate the two and project how this works over our patio door. Nothing. Frustration builds.
Carol sensed the frustration and immediately offered to hire a handyman. She heard of a great organization and she had a coupon. She talked to the organization - they thought it should take about an hour.
The guy came today around lunchtime. Carol left work to meet the guy thinking she'll just take a long lunch.
After 4 hours and after the guy almost burst into tears trying to figure out how to do all of this, the curtain rod is actually finally installed.
If the handyman took 4 hours, imagine what I could have done... and the damage i could have made...
Too little or not enough?
When I roll around while I sleep at night, I always check the clock to figure out what time it is.
Something struck me this morning - if you you wake up and you feel that time passed quickly (like it's later than what you expected), does that mean that you had good sleep or not enough sleep?
Monday, November 21, 2005
OK, really, The last one... I promise...
A Chicago Reader story about the story - yes, another take on the A Taste of Heaven story.
Friday, November 18, 2005
So much for the thighs
Can't... walk... down... stairs... muscles... in... thighs... not.... working... well... need... medicine... NEED... EXERCISE... body... gone... to... hell...
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Friggin' Fire Drill.
It's not the drill itself. It's not the damn alarms going off. It's not that it's cold outside.
IT'S THE 10 STORY DESCENT DOWN STAIRS TO STREET LEVEL.
Back upstairs after the drill, my legs ar all wobbly. I look like adrunk when I'm walking down the aisle behind the cubicles.
14º this morning. I know it's only been 6 weeks, but in my head I went from sitting in the stands at U.S. Cellular Field watching baseball on a sunny 85º day to this crappy 14º wake-up with nothing in between. (I know that there was an autumn in there somewhere - I just don't remember it). We had a great lengthy summer and such a mild autumn that this transition is a killer.
I hate this time of year.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Where did everybody go?
The evening rush hour was non-existent. It was dark, with very high winds and our first snowfall, though it wasn't accumulating anywhere, just blowing around. What I can't understand is the traffic. There was nobody on the streets all the way home. Did people really freak-out about the snowfall and leave work early? Where did everybody go?
Nope. It won't die.
Tribune columnist Eric Zorn was sent this picture from an unknown local restaurant.
The story that won't die.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Let's close this up...
I didn't know that Tribune columnist Eric Zorn has a blog! So, here's a great, all encompassing stab at the "Inside Voice" brouhaha in his blog entry. Great opinions, different views. Check it out. All good. Be sure to read the comments, too, as people just go medieval on some of the parents.
His blog entries about this are here, here and here
Monday, November 14, 2005
Who Is The Moron?
Click on the thumbnail above to view the picture.
It is a pickup truck this afternoon in the parking lot of the Schaumburg CompUSA
Read the large bumper sticker on the vehicle. Read it closely.
Question: Who is the moron and why?
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Inside Voice follow-up
That event that I blogged about a few days ago about a café owner on the North Side that asked via a sign on his front door that all children behave and use their "inside voices", has created an awful lot of exposure in print, radio and TV around town.
read more of this entry »
Two Chicago Tribune columnists wrote about the situation and both came down squarely on the side of the café owner.
John Kass compared café owner Dan McCauley to Mr. Belvedere just looking for some level of decency and common courtesy. This just pissed-off a whole bunch of moms to the point of boycott. And they took their rants to the local airwaves. Then the backlash started, with other parents putting the malingering moms in their place.
And A Little Taste Of Heaven's business TRIPLED.
Eric Zorn replies to a quote in the NYTimes article:
"kids scream and there is nothing you can do about it. What are we supposed to do, not enjoy ourselves at a café?"
by basically saying "What you're supposed to do is place proper supervision of your little curtain-climbers above personal enjoyment when you take them to a restaurant, movie theater or any other public accommodation. What you're supposed to do is be mortified when your best efforts at supervision fail. What you're supposed to do is translate this mortification to your children so they learn proper behavior in such settings. What you're supposed to do is pack up and leave immediately if your children don't obey such a simple, obvious, necessary demand as "use your inside voice."
He also included replies from readers, including: "When you have children you lose at least some of the ability to come and go as you please. Your freedoms are largely in the hands of a small, unpredictable person. And because your small person is unpredictable, that means either you have control over their public behavior, or they have control over your ability to go where you wish to go."
"There are many other places to eat and shop, so those of you who protest the establishment of behavior norms should pick up your misbehaving kids and take them to a place that will welcome you. The rest of us, who actually parent and try to teach our children how to act in public, will enjoy the relative calm created by your absence."
Then there were the polls:
At the Chicago Tribune website, 88 percent of more than 3,000 respondents to an unscientific click-poll said the complaining parents are off base.
In a WGN-AM click poll, 81 percent said they wished more restaurants and coffee shops would post signs asking parents to keep their kids quiet.
At the Channel 5/Daily Herald site, 97 percent said they thought McCauley was right to post his sign.
Hurray for somebody to stand up against unruly kids and bad parenting!
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Saturday, November 12, 2005
Jack's Family Debut
Today is the annual birthday event to celebrate Sam's (Samantha's) birthday. But here it is - she's turned 18 and this must be the last family party for her. The big deal today: it's Jack's first family event.
read more of this entry »
What a trooper. He turns 8 weeks tomorrow and barely sleeps in 2 hour segments, but there he was - awake and alert and tolerating the perpetual holding and being handed-off to all of these "strangers" (not to mention the amount of flash photography that far exceeded the amount I was chastised for by 10 to 20 fold). He finally started to get hungry/tired/cranky around 8 or so, but he was just great, really great. And he was just the hit of everyone because of his demeanor and just his damn cuteness.
Good job, Jack. Hope you didn't balance it all out with a Nephew-from-Hell bit with Melinda and Diane on the way home and overnight.
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Friday, November 11, 2005
Is this right?
I came home from work tonight and I saw something that Carol told me about that I didn't believe.
Today is November 11th (Veteran's Day). Almost mid-November. One of the Daylillies in front of the garage is blooming and has some additional buds that look like they could open. It was getting dark already so I had to use the strobe on the camera to see the flower.
Is this normal for this time of year? All the others have bloomed and have dead stalks. Why did this happen? And it looks like another on the other side of the garage looks pretty green and has buds, too. What's up?
Thursday, November 10, 2005
The uproar over the "inside voice"
Big thing in Chicago. Many people, mostly moms are pissed. And, if true, then I'm pissed as well - at the moms.
Here's the deal. Imagine if you will, a bakery and coffee shop (in the Andersonville area called "A Taste of Heaven"). Imagine that one day the owner (of 14 years) puts up a sign on the front door, at kids height:
"Children of all ages
have to BEHAVE
and use their INDOOR VOICES
when they come to
A TASTE OF HEAVEN"
Now, I have no problem with this. He's just asking EVERYONE for some RESPECT for himself and his customers. It's obvious that - after 14 years - something has pushed the owner over the limit and forced him to put the sign up. Sure enough, owner Dan McCauley got pushed.
"We were surprised at how many times we would see children really out of control," McCauley said. "And we actually had people leaving the bakery because the children were so out of control."
"We thought it was just a friendly reminder to people that when they come here, just be considerate of the people around them. We had no idea the kind of controversy that was going to explode out of this," McCauley said.
RESPECT and CONSIDERATION.
Now mothers are boycotting the store, taking offense to the sign. They don't want to be told how to handle their kids. And then, get this quote from some of the mothers: The angry mothers said there are plenty of places in the Andersonville neighborhood where they can take their kids, even if they're acting out.
So, instead of disciplining their kids, they'll just go somewhere else where they don't have to do the work of a parent and let the kids disturb the customers of an establishment to the point where they may leave said establishment, causing a loss of revenue to the owner????
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU IGNORANT PEOPLE?!?!?!? WAKE UP!!! DISCIPLINE!!! OR DON"T TAKE THEM OUT IN PUBLIC WHERE WE HAVE TO PUT UP WITH YOUR INADEQUACY!!!
read more of this entry »
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Too early to dream it.
Had a dream last night that I was shoveling snow. It's too early for that, isn't it? Please say it's too early...
Monday, November 07, 2005
My head feels lighter
I'm not a guy that schedules when to get a haircut. The other attached action: no beard trim without a haircut. Neither have been done in many many many months. Took care of that tonight.
On Halloween, I wore a red shirt along with my long hair and my long white beard. I mean, the beard was longer than normal, not like long to my knees.
Part of our (OK, actually my Halloween ritual is to allow the kids to take whatever they want from the bowl. No one just grabs and runs - everyone looks through the bowl and chooses whatever they like (it's always a mix of candy, usually chocolate related). Then I tell them they could take another if they want and sometimes they take the same kind and sometimes they'll choose something new.
Anyway, I had a little girl, 2-3 years old and her mom came to the door. The girl was quiet and just slowly picked her candy. But she was also really looking at me and checking me out.
She took her second piece and went running down the sidewalk, looked up at her mom and yelled "SANTA!"
OK, time for the trim...
Friday, November 04, 2005
Itching for a change
I feel the need to change the way this blog looks. But if I change the way the blog looks, then it doesn't match the rest of the site.
So, if things start looking a little "wonky" around here, you'll know what I'm up to.
Now if there's somebody out there that would like to quickly redesign the site with a fresh, clean look that fits the content of this site, please let me know...
Monday, October 31, 2005
Left the office a little early to get home and setup for the neighborhood trick-or-Treat'ers. It started out well, but at about 4:45 it started to rain and it went downhill from there. Total for this year: 56 Last year: 61. 2003: 69 2002: 79. I guess its been slowly going down year-by-year. (Yes, we keep tally on a pad of paper near the door.)
read more of this entry »
Oh, one more thing. It's a thing I've been doing for the last couple of years. I let the kids take whatever they want from the bowl. Our kids are just so damn nice, they only take one or two and never grab whole handfuls out of the bowl. They REALLY seam to enjoy being able to pick and chose the ones they want. I don't know, it's all about Customer Satisfaction.
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Saturday, October 29, 2005
The weather is really changing around. The mornings are really crisp, with frost on the grass (before the sun comes up and melts it). The leaves on the trees in the neighborhood are almost all on the ground. It's like I've been into "baseball mode" for so long, that I refused to believe it was fall (it wasn't until last weekend when I bought a World Series pin that said "Fall Classic" on it that I was able to actually say the words "Fall" and "Autumn.". All this time I felt that, as long as my team was still playing, then it was summer. And then it it kept being summer. We were at Game 2 of the World Series in the low 40's and upper 30's in the rain - it was still summer. Now that baseball is over, it's fall. In my head, it was like it went from Summer to Fall in the blink of an eye. It was Summer, and then it wasn't. I look around my neighborhood, and see the leaves on the ground and I feel like I missed something. I actually missed the changing of the leaves, and the appreciation of the beauty of it all. It went from green to brown. But this year, I'll let it go. This year I didn't want to have it any other way.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Woke up and went to the bathroom to get a drink of water. Turned on the faucet, filled my cup... couldn't turn the damn faucet off. We've got an old one-touch faucet with an acrylic handle and the handle feels messed up. But I can't get it off. So, we hit the cut-off for the cold water. That way, we can turn the faucet to cold to turn off the watre, and if we need hot water for washing, just turn it to hot. And, in the morning, for cold water either get the first drips out of the faucet when you turn on the hot - which always wind-up cold for the first few seconds - or use the faucet in the bathtub.
Damn. Will have to call a plumber.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
We're at that real dangerous point of the year. The point that the sun - when out - is very low on the horizon during the time of your commute. And I'm lucky to commute on a "diagonal" road that eastbound (or actually, slightly southeastbound) points right into the sun. You need sunglasses. You need a working sun visor. You need a clean windshield. You need to pay attention.
I had an old lady tailgating me all the way to work. I'm convinced she did that because she could actually keep an eye on me. If I got too far ahead, I'd be in the sun and she couldn't figure out what to do. A bit nerve-wracking.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Taking it's toll
Lack of it.
A little bit (HA!) of excitement about getting to the World Series. I think I'm a little pumped-up but the fatigue is easily taking over. Hard to stay awake at work (very embarrassing... not a good idea).
Friday, October 14, 2005
Sorry that I haven't been regularly posting anything around here lately. I've been SWAMPED at work.
On top of that, Carol and I have been wiped from putting in extra hours at work... just so that we can go to the ALDS and ALCS baseball games that we have tickets to (through our White Sox Season Tickets).
On top of that, I couldn't ignore the "call" of a friend who was looking for help when her MovableType blog went absolutely kablooie (ka-bloo-ee? Kablewie?) . It didn't look like anybody was going to help her out and, well, she's a good egg and I just felt I needed to help her. So, I upgraded Erin's site from 2.6x to MovableType 3.2 and got all posts to work again - now she's got comment problems (which may have started this whole mess), so I still have some work to go on her site. But at least she's posting again.
I promise, I'll write something here again soon, and fill in my empty days... sometime.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Runny nose, sneezing, congestion, watery eyes and itchy throat. All the time.
Guess if I didn't know before, I now have definitive proof:
Chicago is #1 in a list of Fall Allergy Capitals according to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America The rankings were based on each city's pollen counts, the amount of allergy medicine used per patient, and the number of allergists per patient.
Wonder where we rank in spring. It ain't too pleasant now and I seem to remember a whole mess of unpleasantness back in the spring.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
20 bags of cypress mulch
20 bags of cypress mulch on that wonderful area that Diane worked on this summer means it's finally done. Carol & I went to Home Depot and bought and transported the mulch home and just went though and covered everything we could the best we could.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Carol and I are just both wiped-out from the events of the last two days and the hours we're putting in to be able to get time-off to get to these games. The word "fatigued" doesn't come close. But, ya know, it's a "good" fatigued? I mean, we can barely walk and talk, but I wouldn't have given up a chance to see those games.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Blackout in the darkness
Damn - the power went out at quarter after 2. In the friggin' morning .No storms, no rain, no nothin'. Couldn't sleep when that happened so I got up, jumped in Carol's truck and drove to Walgreen's to get some flashlights. The power was back by 3am - the time I got back home.
Screwin' with my sleep...
Sunday, October 02, 2005
The heavens opened
Freaky little thunderstorm that just caused havoc in the neighborhood with heavy rain high winds, and hail. There's debris all over the neighborhood (we even lost a plactic downspout drain pad - we found it down the driveway almost in hte street).
The storm followed us all the way to my mom's house. We had standing water on Golf Road that I haven't seen in the 20 years we've been out here. Couldn't take the tollway - too backed-up. The traffic on Higgins flowed, at least, though it was a bit dicey going through standing water or when the clouds just opened up and you couldn't see very far in front of you.
Still hot & humid afterward. And summer is over, right?
Thursday, September 29, 2005
I have to break down and admit it
I have to admit Fall is here.
47 friggin' degrees this morning going to work... I should have worn a jacket... only going to be 62 for a high today...
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The sun has crossed the equator. Fall has begun. though today has the same amount of daylight as night, the nights now get longer than the days.
Summer is over.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Screeching to a halt
WHOA!!! What do you mean today is the last full day of summer?
I'm not ready. Baseball isn't over (yet). I hear the NFL has started already. I can't get my head wrapped around football yet... I haven't changed my body-clock from baseball yet... can't... give... up... baseball... yet...
Pre-season hockey? The Wolves have their first preseason game on Monday, blocks from my house in their new facility... I have to go just because it's the first game over there... but... I'm not ready for it...
The days are soooo much shorter now. We're getting pretty good temperature swings as Mother Nature screws with Chicago again.
I'm not ready for this.
How can I make it stop?
Monday, September 19, 2005
Arrr, me mind's been failing me... been waitin' all year for this day...
And perhaps this feels better, now that I've got a tiny Captain Jack in the family....
Like the song says:
Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho,
It's "Talk Like A Pirate" Day!
That time in September when sea dogs remember
That grown-ups still know how ta play!
When wenches are curvy and dogs are all scurvy
And a soft-wear patch covers your eye,
Ta hell with our jobs, for one day we're all swabs
And buccaneers all till we die!
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Went out to Centre East Theatre in Skokie to see Kathy Griffin. She had 2 shows tonight. It was Carol and Diane and Melinda and I.
I've never seen her in person. I've caught her Bravo reality show and a couple of her performances.
Funny. Good laugh riot. Distinct two parts of the show - the first over an hour of just dishing celebrity stuff (though, it started with all the crap we've seen on TV about Katrina, the federal response, and the media coverage - including Larry King and Celine Dion. Here it was - the night before the Emmy's - and she's her back in town doing a show, before she has to fly back to LA early in the morning to do red-carpet coverage for E!. Of course, she went into where she would be doing the coverage from (NOT the red carpet) and Star Jones.
She's straight, to the point, and makes you laugh at everything she talks about - even if it crosses a certain imaginary line. You still wind-up laughing about it.
The last 20 minutes was a story about he going to Pal;m Springs with her dogs to stay at a hotel and do a show in-town. Part of the story is about letting her dogs outside on her hotel room patio to, um, "relive themselves" in the morning. She talks about going on the patio and hearing the door close behind her, standing her outside wearing a big t-shirt and underpants...
...which she decided to demonstrate on stage.
No flash photography allowed? HA! You should have seen the strobes going off! I think it caught her off guard (not that it happened but by how much happened)
Great performance. I'd see her again. It was just a good time.
Had dinner at L. Woods Tap & Pine Lodge afterward. Good food there in this great Wisconsin-woods-supper club-lodge setting.
Friday, September 16, 2005
What??? OH NO YOU DON'T!!!!!
I went to Woodfield to walk the mall, looking for something light to eat.
I was walking across one of the ramps and looked over at saw the front of Marshall Field's that faces the Grand Court.
I froze. My blood curdled. I got pissed - pissed enough that I just got the hell out of there.
What's today's date? SEPTEMBER 16.
THE WERE SELLING CHRISTMAS STUFF. TREES. DISPLAYS. CHRISTMAS.
We just barely got past Labor Day (September 5) and Grandparanets Day (September 11).
We still have to get through:
Citizenship Day (September 17)
Columbus Day (Observed - October 10, Traditional - October12)
United Nations Day (October 24)
(Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, 30 October, 2005)
Halloween (October 31)
Election Day (November 8)
Veterans' Day (November 11)
Thanksgiving Day (November 24)
Bill of Rights ( December 15)
before we get to Christamas! WTF?????
Hell, let's throw in some Christian ones, too:
Mass of Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (September 29)
All Saints' Day (November 1)
All Souls' Day (November 2)
Feast of Christ the King (November 20)
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8)
The celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12)
again, all of these before we get to Christamas! WTF?????
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
We were getting a little "tight" with our DirecTiVo and available space. the programs we were recording were expiring pretty quickly. We were just running out of space.
So today, I took our TiVo and dropped it off in Hisndale and had a hard drive added. It only took one hour and was well worth the drive. My skills are so crappy, that I'm willing to spend money to have people do the skill work for me. And I'm so happy about the service, I'm almost ecstatic.
Instead of about 40 hours of available space on the TiVo, we now have about 160 hours of available space.
Yeah, that should last a while.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Note to self re: Andre
When attempting to go to sleep early, and successfully accomplishing that, make sure you don't attempt this on a night that Andre Agassi is playing tennis late at night into the early morning, so that when wife decides to go to bed after sitting on couch watching match after match, that she doesn't put on the match on the bedroom TV to watch her boy Andre win in 5 sets. (3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (6) that ended at 1:09 a.m. ET.)
Gas Price Extremes
After holding some pretty damn high prices through the Labor Day holiday weekend (cause, you know, a lot of people drive so the oil companies want that extra money), I drove by my gas station yesterday to find that the prices dropped 21 cents overnight.
Can you say "gouging"? No way you just get 20+ cent swings overnight.
Heard something on NPR yesterday - do you know how much a gallon of gas costs in Baghdad? Now, mind you, they've had to ration gas there, too, because of the "emergency" (not sure what the hell they're talking about). Also, to ease the horrendous traffic problems, the ruling government has said that only even-numbered licenses plates can drive on certain days, and odd-numbered plates on the other (This means that people are buying black market plates so they can drive their cars anytime)
So - how much is a gallon of gas in Baghdad? 5 CENTS. It's the cheapest in the region and it's causing a whole slew of black market problems.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
It's coming to an end...
Summer is almost gone. I know that Labor Day Weekend is sort of a traditional "End Of Summer".
Tonight, Carol and I are in the family room, big screen HDTV glowing in the other half of the room. We turned the lights off after we finished reading our stack of daily newspapers and realized we can't see outside.
It's dark. The sun has set. The days are rapidly getting shorter.
I'm not ready for summer to be over.
Baseball is still around. I won't let it be over... yet.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Enjoying a day away from laboring at my job...
...and being thankful that it's been about 72 hours since the last increase in gas prices at the local station
Friday, September 02, 2005
US Open Tennis - in HD.
HD - very cool. I'm diggin' the whole HD thing. Sports in HD - the best!
Letterman started broadcasting in HD this past Monday - both Carol and I agree - Dave looks creepy in HD. Actually, he only looks creepy during the monologue. When he sits down at the desk, he looks fine. i think it's the angle that they're shooting him center stage in the monologue that just creeps us out. Paul and the band always look great.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Really digging staying at home on Sundays - when we don't have anywhere to go - just to "decompress" and take these wonderful, deep-sleeping naps...
...and let the whole day slip on by...
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Wait Wait-ing again
Went back to the Bank One Auditorium tonight - this time with B & B - to see another taping of this week's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!. Unfortunately, the host - Peter Sagal - was on vacation. Taking his place this week was Adam Felber. (I must say - the show was even "looser" tonight than with Peter at the helm!) Of course, Carl Kassel (NPR newsman and the show's Official Judge and Scorekeeper) was there along with panelists Mo Rocca, Paula Poundstone and Charlie Pierce. The show ran a lot longer than last time. There's got to be a lot of editing for this. It sounded like they were even changing the order of the show due to... well, the personalities of the callers. Tonight's special guest: Tim Zagat of the Zagat Survey. (Did you know that no restaurant gets a perfect 30 in Zagat?)
UPDATE: Listen to the show here.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Time is just passing...
I just realized that I haven't been writing much here.
It's been a weird few weeks... I feel like nothing is going on. I mean, nothing. I feel myself sitting at home with nothing to do, knowing damn well there are things that can be done. In the middle of all this, nothing happens and I just can't anything to write about. I want to write, but there's nothing that I can somehow mash together for an entry.
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There are a few things in my life that I could talk about, but I've chosen not to. It's either the time isn't right, or it's getting into areas of my life that I don't feel right talking about right now.
I feel that everyone out here that blogs has their own personal blog "governor" (ooo... lets call that a PBG™) that throttles how much you want to say, or are willing to say. Some people have that PBG™ set a little more open than I do. They'll talk about intimate things about their family, friends, work. Sometimes that PBG™ is wide open, and those are the people that suffer some personal ramifications of being that open to the world. Sometimes that'll get slammed via comments and email about their choices in life - whether it's just a certain political stand, their favorite team, or maybe it's about writing how they feel while trapped in their daily commute. Something innocuous like that, that readers - mostly people that just skim by their site every once in a while - that compel the visitor to comment. And sometimes those visitors have NO FRIGGIN' CLUE who the blogger really is and perhaps misinterprets what the writer says, and just goes off on them in the comments. It usually spins into an argument with anger and venom.
Ah, the life of living publicly on the web.
Or maybe the writer talks candidly about work and coworkers, and *poof* - they get "dooced" and lose their jobs. (Dooced? Yep - look it up in the Urban Dictionary)
I wish my PBG™ was a bit more open than it is. I feel I have responsibility to my family, friends, coworkers and whoever that I come across to determine how much - if anything - should be divulged to the public. I'd never do it without their permission. It's a trust that I hold with them. Unspoken.
Maybe someday I can open up a little bit, but I just can't do it right now.
Which leads to God-awful boring rhetoric about "what I did today" and what thing I'm interested in today. Hell, if you noticed - I don't even really swear or use obscene language here. I don't know who's reading my drivel - why offend them? It's not like I get a lot of visitors here - so why turn anybody away?
Now, those of you that know me also know that, in actuality, I'm not writing for you - the visitor/reader. I'm writing for ME. If you like what I say and stick around - THANK YOU - if you don't, well, "no skin off my nose" as they say. I wasn't writing for you to begin with.
Does that meandering make any sense?
Anyway, no post doesn't mean nothing's happening. It just means I didn't write, for whatever reason. I just didn't write.
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Sunday, August 14, 2005
This was the first weekend that we've had in a very long time where we had NOTHING planned. No places to go, no people to see. What did we do?
In fact, I just got up about an hour and a half ago. I got up after 7am, went downstairs, started to watch CBS Sunday Morning, fell asleep, Carol woke me up to yell at me about having a battery from my digital camera in my pants pocket that she just washed and dried, fell asleep, Carol went to get lunch at - of all places - Arby's. Had lunch, fell asleep.
Weird. My body must be telling me something - though it must not be talking very loud, 'cause it's not keeping me awake...
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Tweaking the garden
I've paid attention to watering the lawn and garden.
Best looking lawn on the block.
I need to pay attention to one other things, though.
I happened to look over at the hostas that Diane had planted along the garage...
They blended in so well that I hadn't paid attention to them... they were leafy and, well, looked like they belonged...
damn weeds are taller than the plants. Gotta do something about that.
Friday, August 12, 2005
It's been raining on and off for almost a day now. The rain has been really steady and I can't express how badly we've needed this rain in this area. We are many inches away from the average rainfall and this rain, being strong and steady (and not very breezy at all) has been a nice soaker.
Overnight we even had a line of thunderstorms move through. The thunder, coupled with the high rains and a bit of wind (that - in our bedroom - sounds like we're inside a dishwasher as the rain hits the aluminum siding) actually woke us up a little (just for a while - faded back to sleep after a while).
Carol this morning said that the sound of the rain and the thunder was actually "foreign" to her - it wasn't a sound the was easily recognizable - it's been so long since we've heard it.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Guess what we did for dinner? I took Carol out to a grand opening!
...of the Des Plaines Oasis over the Northwest Tollway.
We've been waiting for this thing to get rehabbed for years and now it's finally open. So we had dinner at Panda Express.
I know - I really know how to show a girl a good time...
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Well, there it goes...
On the way home from work tonight, I had to pull over to take a picture of my odometer - my Infiniti turned over 100,000 miles.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Go Karts and the lakefront
I decided to take a drive down to "The Cell" this morning. I'm going to the game tonight, but today the White Sox are holding their First Annual Go Kart Grand Prix and I wanted to see what was going on.
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They took over Parking Lot B. All of the teams that bought into the event had hospitality tents along Shields Avenue. The pit area was pretty big and the track was the parking lot, with the track outlined in chalk (or lime or something like that) and stacked tires. There were other vendors there, like Route 66 Raceway, Volo Auto Museum, and other companies like that.
I was hoping to that it was going to be cool. It was, but it was totally disappointing. I think it was very poorly attended. It looked like everybody that was there were either participants, sponsors, or family members of either. The weren't any real announcements to keep everybody informed about what was going on. I saw two races - basically one and hour. I never saw a celebrity race that was supposed to happen at 1pm (when I think the final race actually took off).
The last race was pretty good. As the laps ticked off, the drivers were getting a better feel for the karts and the track and they started driving more aggressively. I camped out on Turn One and after the initial laps, there were a lot of guys taking the turn wide, some taking out a series of orange cones, some spinning out, hitting tires, clipping each other. The races ran about 15 minutes - I have no idea how many laps there were. I guess that's part of my disappointment - I had no idea what the hell was going on.
Well, at about 1:30, I realized that I probably couldn't drive home and then drive all the way back into the city to pickup Barry and go to tonight's game. I decided to drive to the planetarium. I wasn't going to go in, it was just this absolutely gorgeous day and I felt like enjoying it, maybe taking pictures of the skyline.
(NOTE TO ANYONE COMING TO CHICAGO - If you want the ABSOLUTE BEST photograph of the Chicago skyline along the lake front YOU MUST go to the Adler Planetarium and take the shots from there DAY OR NIGHT. THAT is the place to be.)
I was floored at how many bridal parties were showing up with their photographers down by the planetarium, just to get that perfect shot of the bridal party and the skyline. It was a constant stream of limousines and rental shuttle buses dropping off and picking up brides, grooms, bridesmaids, groomsmen... and others, too, that were dressed-up in other ethnic garbs so I couldn't tell what they were celebrating because they didn't necessarily looked like wedding dress.
I actually did go inside the planetarium - into the café to have a snack and drink and watch all of the sailboats on the lake. When I came out, in front of the planetarium was a group of people with bicycle helmets on... and a whole bunch of Segways! It was the City Segways Tours group getting training on how to ride/drive a Segway by the tour leader. I heard about this last year and it's great seeing that they actually are still doing tours! I stood around watching for quite a while. Though - in concept - they are easy to maneuver, it does take time to get used to balancing on the platform and trusting the unit not to throw you off when you lean to make it go.
Eventually, about 3:30, I headed back to the parking lot to get heading north on Lake Shore Drive to go pick up Barry for the game tonight. It took an hour just to get to the Belmont exit. The Fullerton and Belmont exits were backed-up and stopped on the drive, not to mention that the car 2 cars ahead of me in line waiting to get off at Belmont erupts in white smoke and steam as he blows a hose. The other oddity on the trip north was the area on the lake that's just north of the treatment plant and south of the break walls south of Oak Street beach. It looked like it was wall-to-wall boats, that looked like they were parked or even lashed together, and all you can see is flesh - people in bathing suits everywhere,. It looked like one big community party. Really odd.
At any rate, it took a long time to get to Barry's. But - I've got to tell you - it was the best day to be out in that gorgeous weather and just enjoying the sights of this wonderful town.
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Friday, August 05, 2005
Yeah! Carol left this morning to spend a weekend "with the girls" up at Diane's in Michigan...
...leaving me all alone for the weekend! YES!
Well, I've got 3 baseball games this weekend, so that'll keep a big chunk of time occupied, plus I want to go down to Comiskey (I STILL can't call it U. S. Cellular Field...) during the day tomorrow to see the First Annual White Sox Go Kart Grand Prix that's going on from like 10 to 4 in one of the parking lots, and then on Sunday the Sox are unveiling a statue to Carlton Fisk, so I need to get there early for a good spot for pictures, not to mention Elvis Night tonight at the park...
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Hacking the elevator
I've been upset at my daily elevator rides lately, but then I stumbled onto this link on Boing Boing that talked about putting an elevator into "Express" mode.
Hmmm... an elevator hack? So, I tried it. It worked. Did it two more times - it worked? Is this a good sample? No. I need to do this as often as possible, since there doesn't seem to be any "feedback" that you're in Express mode - other than the fact the elevator didn't stop on any other floor than your destination.
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The designers of some elevators include a hidden feature that is very handy if you're in a hurry or it's a busy time in the building (like check-out time in a hotel). While some elevators require a key, others can be put into "Express" mode by pressing the "Door Close" and "Floor" buttons at the same time. This sweeps the car to the floor of your choice and avoids stops at any other floor. This seems to work on Most elevators that I have tried! Most elevators have the option for this to work, but on some of them the option is turned off by whoever runs them.
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Monday, August 01, 2005
Long way home
Well, we're home. The vacation is over. Well, at least mine is - Carol is still on vacation for another week which includes a trip back to Michigan for the weekend (leaving me alone for the weekend! Whooohoooo!)
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Yes, we're still here - and not packing to go home. I made my contacts (thanks to my cell phone, Bluetooth DUN and a VPN connection). I didn't like all of the email traffic that I saw, though. My backup had too many messages for backing-me up during a time I should have seen zero activity.
That means something's up. And now, I'm feeling a little guilty.
Still, I'll enjoy this full day away and whatever time we''ll have tomorrow.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
The plan hatches...
The day way too wonderful. Lots of pool time, great dinner (Barry made a beer can chicken with a great rub).
And we have to leave tomorrow.
Or do we?
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B & B both took Monday off. Carol is off still another week. That leaves me. What could possibly have happened in the course of this past week where I would REALLY be needed on Monday? That's it... I'll contact (email/voicemail) my boss and my backup tomorrow - I'll be back to work Tuesday instead. I need this extra day. Need it.
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Friday, July 29, 2005
Long day, but we're where we want to be
Woke up at 4am. 4 in the morning. Awake. Went downstairs and tried to sleep on the couch. The morning I could sleep-in, and I'm not. Eventually the morning unfolded, Carol got up, we did our last minute packing slowly. Fed the rabbits so they would survive the weekend - Indy knew what was up as soon as she saw the size of the bowl of carrots.
We hit the road. The caller ID software at home paged me with another call from St. Joseph's. We quickly drove back home, no voice mail light blinking. Found the number to Barry's room and found out that he's been waiting around a few hours, waiting to get discharged. We decided to leave and sure enough, he was home by the time we got there.
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Vacation officially began! We're off to Michigan. The weather was great, the traffic - other than getting on the Skyway - was good. We stopped in Indiana at a Denny's for lunch (actually was good - was not "Denny's-like").
We've spent out first day at the house (went out to dinner at the Red Arrow Road House so we didn't have to worry about food today).
The pool was cold - it was 82 degrees, but was just way too uncomfortable. I'm not sure how to operate the pool heater, so I kinda faked it, turned not just one but two unmarked knobs, and hopefully it would warm up for tomorrow.
But we're up here. Relaxing. looking forward to... nothing. Just more relaxing.
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Thursday, July 28, 2005
The phone rang around dinner time. I looked at the Caller ID and froze. STJOSEPH HOSP. Oh, oh, this isn't going to be good... I only new one or two people that would go to that hospital... and both of them were leaving with us early tomorrow morning to drive to my sister's house in Michigan as a nice weekend getaway...
So, I answered: "I don't like the caller-id on my display." Sure enough, it's Barry. Long story, short - Barry went in for some tests today and they wanted to keep him overnight for observation totally as a precaution.
Well, let's see - that'll cut down or even eliminate pool time tomorrow, and cut down on the vacation decompression time...
... but, damn it it's my bud, so we'll pick-up B&B after Barry gets released in the morning. Not a big deal - at least he's OK and we're going to get away. Now, I'll have to get more info out of him tomorrow...
Hey! we get to sleep-in a bit in the morning!
Yes, that's where I am right now. Sinuses full, sneezing 8 or 9 times in a row, lungs filling up with post-nasal drip (oh, yuck...), wheezing, coughing...
Oh, this just sucks...
it started a few days ago when I was locked-in the house during the power fail. Then opening-up the doors yesterday just seems to have stirred up god-knows-what in the air.
Kill me now.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Well that wasn't worth it.
We still have a cable TV feed into the house. We keep it as a backup to the satellite and it's only Basic Cable - just local channels. I had Comcast come out and install a CableCard into the new TV. It's a PCMCIA card (just like you would use in a laptop computer). It replaces a digital cable box, but you don't get any interactive functions (like On Demand video and a Guide - big deal). I did this so that I could get local HD channels (since DirecTV doesn't have that ready yet).
Well - I'm not impressed. We got 8 more stations on cable - and that doesn't cover all of the local digital transmissions that are available.
I'm not sure it was worth it. I mean, I'm getting the digital signal for Channel 2 which I can't pull in over the air, but... eh... We've got a couple of HD local channels now.
Now we're talking!
It's GORGEOUS outside!!! That rain yesterday afternoon was the long awaited cold front! The sun is out, just a slight breeze, hardly a cloud in the sky, and the temperatures this morning are in the 60's!!! We opened up all the doors and windows to get air out the place - it's wonderful!
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
It wasn't over!!!
So, at around 3:30pm, while I'm on the phone with Carol, THE POWER GOES OUT AGAIN! It starts to rain as well. So the installers (Tom and Erik) went ahead and installed the dish and tested as best as they could with their equipment without any power. They ran an additional cable around the house for the HD receiver (I wanted a clear shot of new RG-6 without any connectors between the receiver and the multiswitch, just to keep the signal intact).
So, they left and left me their phone numbers and offered to actually come back and tweak it some more when the power comes up.
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I couldn't take it in the airless house, so Carol & I went out to dinner (and took a side-trip to the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin - we haven't been there in ages and wanted to check it out. It hasn't changed).
We were home by 8 o'clock and the power was back on, so it was out about 3 more hours on top of the 17.
Powered up the house and found out that I had **NO** signal from the new dish. Not a bad signal, **NO** signal.
So, I called Tom. He actually came over in about 20 minutes - he seemed shocked that there was **NO** signal, so he went on the roof - in the almost darkness - and got the dish kickstarted as best as he could. We got our old channels and our new HD stations as well. Tome will come back some other time and fine-tune the dish.
So... is it over??? Will we have power???? And it's still raining outside - steady rain.
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Monday, July 25, 2005
17 hours without power
We had a major storm go through the neighborhood yesterday. High winds, torrential downpour. We had standing water outside our patio door - which is rough to get when the backyard slopes-off almost 5 feet. In fact, my lawn turned into a swamp.
Then around 8 o'clock the power went out.
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I couldn't take the suspense after about half an hour, so I took Carol's SUV that's parked in the driveway and tooled around the neighborhood. There is debris everywhere - leaves, plants, branches, entire branches broken-off trees, siding missing on a house a block away. This was so much worse than I thought. I drove around to get an idea of how large of area was involved. I head on the radio that an American Airlines hanger at O'Hare lost most of a wall in the wind.
I got home and there was still no power. Around 10:30, we noticed that the people across the street behind us had power. But history told us that our little corner of the world has had bad power problems.
Now, we're still in the middle of the heatwave. It's still in the 90's outside. the air conditioning had been off for a while and you could feel the air stagnate and get warmer. We can't open the doors or windows, because even though it had finally stopped raining (though the lightning still continued for hours) we didn't want to warm-up the house. We attempted to go to bed.
What a lousy night of sleep - or lack of - that was. Woke up this morning. Still no power. Carol got up and showered by flashlight. I went and sat on the couch and let our "kidlettes" (Indy & Chip) out to romp around. Carol went to work. I called ComEd a few times, first to open trouble tickets (because they had NO RECORD of an outage in my area!). AT around 10:30, I called ComEd again, and this time I got a status saying that I should have my power back at 1:15pm today. At around 11am I got an automated call from them saying that I should have power by now, Uh, WRONG! So I had to call to re-open the outage ticket.
I was having a new DirecTV dish installed today so that I can get HD signals for that big screen TV in my family room that has been a ton of fun to watch... too bad it was just sitting there, powerless, and totally un-enjoyable. The installers called earlier saying their morning call had canceled, and wanted to come over now. No, not without power.
Around 1pm I noticed ComEd trucks in the neighborhood, wit guys running around looking at the pedestals in the backyards (our power in underground in our development, like most - if not all - of the more modern developments that have been built in the last 20 years - which just pisses me off even more, because when this happens due to high winds, you know it has nothing to do with the immediate neighborhood - it has to be some place where the feeder lines are above ground - so they can blow down and cause havoc). the installers called - still no power, so we'll have to reschduled... DAMN!!!
Then, around 1:35, the power comes back up! I call the installation company and get them to come over! I liked the guys - a father and son subcontractor team that pointed out everything that was bad with my old setup and explanations why I haven't had good reception that I had expected. We also had discussions on my poor choice of antenna for the new system (fortunately, I had purchased two - don't ask) and had them on my garage roof, deinstalling the old dish and installing the new one in a more solid location).
Now other than a fight with some wasps that were living in a downspout, things are finally progressing. The air conditioning is starting to cool the house back to acceptable levels,the refrigerator is cooling and chilling our food again - nicely insulated from the heat and we're not going to loose anything.
I hate these outages - you feel so helpless and today, I just felt trapped - waiting for power, waiting for installers.
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A couple of days off... I LIKE it... No money, but I'm liking it... gonna take it easy and decompress, ending the week with a drive to Michigan with B&B and we'll just bob in the pool, barbecue and just crank-up that decompression to a new level...
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Yesterday's storm only produced .6" of rain, and that was at O'Hare. Again, the rainfall was very specific to certain areas, so the storm was a non-event around here. I didn't help the plants, the grass, or the drought.
What's even worse, is that we've got the local meteorologists crying "the sky is falling! the sky is falling!" about this weekend, specifically about Sunday - again, a day of baseball for us at "The Cell" against Boston.
Sunday it's supposed to be 97 degrees with a heat index of 105. There are all kinds of warnings up to basically, don't go anywhere outside on Sunday. As the days have been passing and we've been getting closer to Sunday, the predicted high temperature has been slowly going up a degree at a time - a few people locally are saying that we can break 100 degrees on Sunday... and possibly break the all time high on the same day it was set - 105 degrees.
This is nuts...
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Yes! FINALLY! We've gots ourselves a cold front!
Nice, heavy thunderstorms moving through the whole Chicagoloand area.
"Severe Thunderstorm Watch Number 651 Remains Valid Until 6 Pm Cdt"
But will it be enough? Not a chance! The front is too "thin" - the storms won't be soaking enough.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
My new elevator pet peeve
Well, I've been on this job now for over 6 months.
I'm developing a pet peeve that I cannot control. A totally, irrational pet peeve,
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I work on the 10th floor of the building. The "cafeteria" (or what's left of it) is in the basement.
Going from the 10th floor to basement in an elevator non-stop is damn near impossible. People have the audacity to actually call for an elevator on another floor and ride until still another floor, delaying me in my daily travels. Don't they know I'm hungry? Don't they know that their travels are delaying me in mine?
The ones I hate the most? The ones that take elevator ONE FLOOR. Ever hear of The Stairs???
Oh, I like the new thing that I'm starting to see - groups of people that interrupt your travel by calling your elevator to their floor. And then - because they're gabbing - take their precious little time getting in to the elevator, punch a button for still another floor to again interrupt your journey, continue on in their conversation, and then, when arriving on their destination floor, continue talking - not moving - as the doors open, and start to close again.
I know, I know... I'm being irrational... but when you travel only top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top, any other stops at all delay you. And the stupidest things about it? 1) You have no control about it 2) you're a friggin' nobody, just like any other numnutz in the building and who the hell are you to be so put out because others use your elevator? (yeah, there are 5 elevators that could be used and the rumor has it that there are no engineers in the building that still know how to program the elevators - which is why most of the elevators return - not to the 1st floor, but to the 10th floor where a prior occupant had their executive offices).
Just another pet peeve that I must learn to deal with.
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Sunday, July 17, 2005
OK, now we're just sitting around the big screen TV, finding HD feeds to watch and just watching things because they look good and not because they are good.
OK, I'm diggin' the big screen...
Saturday, July 16, 2005
WOW and Beef
We had Barry & Buffy meet us at Streets of Woodfield this afternoon so that we could all go to see War of The Worlds at the Loews theaters there. We haven't seen them in a while. We got there almost 45 minutes before the movie started - just to make sure we got seats (not a problem with that much time before the start)
I'm still not sure how I feel about the movie. Effects - SUPERB. Technology is really getting effective. I guess I'm still stumbling around the plot, or story line, or how I feel about it. I guess I have to just look at it as "a day in the life" (or many days in the life) of a divorced dad and his kids... when aliens invade the earth with the intent of wiping out all of humanity and succeeding easily with NO HOPE of being able to fight them off, even just a little, to just save a small town or city, only to slowly realize that perhaps they cannot save the entire human species from genocide. The ending scenes... sucked, I think. I wasn't expecting resolution, but surely you would think that something changed in the family relationships by the end... (and why the hell did those few blocks in Boston look surprisingly untouched?)
So, even though we initially talked about going to Big Bowl for dinner, Buffy mentioned she needed meat. So. we made dinner reservations at Chicago Prime Steakhouse, which we haven't been to in years. Had a WONDERFUL wait-person named Cindy who was one of the better servers that we've had in years (If you go - ask for her - you won't be disappointed). We had wonderful meals - though it was quite a bit pricier that we were prepared for.
Afterward, we went back to our house so that we could show them the landscaping that Diane had done, the new rugs that they haven't seen in the living room/dining room, and of course, to take a short spin in front of the big screen TV for a while.
In just two weeks we're heading up to Diane's house in Michigan for a mini-getaway. We're all looking forward to that.
Friday, July 15, 2005
They're following me
As I'm doing my evening watering of the plants outside, I've started to notice that I am not alone.
I don't know how they know it. I don't know if they know it's me.
Or maybe they just know that a human is walking around outside with a big long fat worm that has water that comes out of a strangely-shaped head.
I now have robins that follow me around while I water. They must know that after I water, the soil is moister and the worms must be on the move and perhaps easier to find. Sometimes it just a single robin, sometimes two. I could never tell if they're the same robins, or just whoever was in the area that sees me sprinkling.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Big Screen TV
Well, it's here! Carol and I now have a 55" HDTV in our family room, sitting on the media cabinet that we got recently.
Here's the thing - I have no good digital signals to view. We're almost 40 miles NW of downtown Chicago, and the antenna is an old 20 year old non-digital one that's actually in the attic and not mounted on the roof. He don't have the new dish up yet for DirecTV HD signals and we don't have digital cable - yet.
So, I'm really disappointed. I'm really disappointed in how bad the DirecTV signal is. It all depends on the station (transponder), but some - including locals - are pretty "blocky" and just don't have the resolution that I thought we should have. Buyer's remorse? I don't think so - I think it's just stuff I need to work on and tinker with as the new pieces are added.
But, I did view my first HD event - The Cubs - Pirates game this afternoon (I don't want to hear it about me watching the Cubs - It's baseball and it was a test). I can't wait to get a better signal so it doesn't break-up as much during motion. The picture quality has the potential of being something awesome.
Carol loves it. We're getting used to the remote and how it fits with all of the other remotes and all of the other equipment we're hooking up. I was up until 1 AM this morning recabling , labeling the cables, and making sure the other equipment (amp, TiVo, DVD, Computer, UPS, etc) all worked before the TV showed-up. All I have outstanding is the optical connection from the TV to the Amp - I've got no audio... which I don't really care about right now beacuse the internal speakers in the TV are the best I've ever experienced. - They're only Left & Right (no Surround), but they're pretty effective.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
It's Christmas Eve!!!
I don't think I have felt this way since I was a kid, the day before Christmas, all wound-up and just giddy over the presents that I would getting the next day.
Well, it's here again.
Tomorrow, I'm working from home so I can be there to accept delivery of our new Big Screen TV!!!!!
I can't wait!!! I feeling like bouncing around the room!!! And giggling!!!
I can't wait!!!
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Wow. OK, so not having any service on your car for 8 years can be a little pricey.
But you know, $2,232 over 8 years isn't bad...
Monday, July 11, 2005
Well, I'm about 2 weeks away from having my license suspended for not getting an exhaust check on my car. It was die in January, and my "Service Engine Soon" light has been on for a few years now.
It used to be that it you went in to get the checkout and your engine line was on, they would perform the test anyway and I would always pass.
Now, the light cannot be on - the tests are all though the on-board computer and sensors.
So, I went in to get the car serviced - FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE EIGHT YEARS SINCE I BOUGHT THE CAR.
Yes, I've done oil changes, brakes, new tires. Just not the regular maintenance.
This is gonna cost a fortune.
But, in the meantime, I have a nice silver 2005 Infiniti G35 as my loaner. Who doesn't love driving a new car? The smell, the quiet, the pickup on the accelleration... the new gadgets that aren't on your old car...
Friday, July 08, 2005
Am I going to lose it?
I've come to the conclusion tat I'm going to lose my finger nail - the one I smashed in the Stadium Club doors at "The Cell" back on May 1st. I can see the bottom of the nail, and that's not good. Actually, not only do I see the bottom of the nail, but I feel like there's another nail underneath.
I'm a little squeamish about this, havening never lost a nail before, and my right index finger just seems to be used for so many different things... I wonder how it will all fall out? (No pun itended...)
Had to go back to Home Depot today. That fancy timer I bought last month failed. It ran a couple of good cycles and hasn't run since. So, instead of digital, I went to a digital/mechanical version. Hopefully, the lawn will come back.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
The long journey to HDTV
This has been a long journey...
Back on February 19th, Carol & I were at an appliance store in Kenosha, waiting for new tires to be installed on my car (now, that is a long story...) We were tucked away in the corner of the store, watching their HDTV's.
That's when it happened - a guy's dream came true: my wife fell in love with a big screen HDTV!
Now, other than the cost of the TV (which Carol was pretty damn close to actually buying on the spot before we had to leave that day), we're DirecTV customers, so this just isn't something we could do quickly.
First, you need the TV. But, to get the HD signal from the DirecTV satellite, you need an HD Receiver. Now, the DirecTV HD channels are on a different satellite, so we need a new dish that will pick-up signals from multiple satellites simultaneously. To get the signal from the dish to the receiver means that we need a new amplified multiswitch that will take the multiple satellite feeds and pump-out the signal to the receivers in the house.
Fortunately, you can take all of these steps one at a time and gradually rebuild your infrastructure to get HD signals.
Last Thursday, we took the first step - buying the TV.
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After a lot of research, and even though we were sucked-in to the quality of DLP, we opted for a Sony LCD 55 inch projection system (KDF-55WF655). It's going to be a while before it shows up - it's coming from Los Angeles.
The second step we took today. I purchased and FINALLY received today a Sony SAT-HD300 receiver. I got it off eBay and saved hundreds of dollars (though this particular auction was one of the worst I've ever been involved with). The receiver has not only component outputs, but regular S-Video and composite outputs, so we could hook it up to our existing 27-inch TV. The picture quality seems even better than the original (a Sony SAT-B55).
This receiver not only has satellite inputs, but antenna and cable inputs as well. There are internal tuners to accept off-the-air signals, both analog and digital. So, on a lark, I hooked up the antenna that I installed in our attic 20 years ago.
Before I knew it, I was pulling-in the DT signals from the local TV stations!, Now, I can't see them in HD yet (since we don't have the HDTV yet), but I can see the 4:3 version of the signal! I had no idea that the TV stations in town had these "other" stations! For instance, both Channel 5 (local NBC affiliate) and Channel 7 (Local ABC affiliate) have separate channels for broadcasting local weather info and radar - in HDTV - 24 hours a day! Also, Channel 7 and 11 (the local PBS affiliate) broadcasts their own HD programming on still another channel. This is so damn cool!
Next step: Replace the multi-switch (which I already own). I can do this any time and need to do this soon.
The final step is replace the dish - I'm getting a replacement dish off of eBay, so when that comes in, I will need to find an installer.
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Monday, July 04, 2005
What a wonderful weekend. I didn't blog at all - didn't have an internet connection, had audblog problems, and frankly - was too "in the moment" relaxing in the pool for three days and enjoying Diane and Melinda's cooking.
Sigh. Need to do this again... in a couple of weeks...
Thursday, June 30, 2005
We finally got a thunderstorm! We haven't had any rain in weeks and we finally got our own little storm - complete with high winds and torrential downpour.
The bad news is that it lasted all of 10 minutes.
10 minutes doesn't make up for weeks of no rain.
Back to square one.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
The lawn is just about burnt-away. We haven't had rain in weeks, and if we did, it sure isn't a soaking rain.
Time to break down and start watering the lawn. We got a grub treatment for the lawn and it needs to soak in, so since it's not raining, we've got to water. I went out and got a sprinkler that I can move around the yard, but it's going to have to run quite a while to try and soak it as long as possible.
So, I went out and got a fancy digital timer today. I'm sure it'll work - at least once. I just hope I can come up with a schedule that makes sense that the timer will understand and execute faithfully.
Otherwise, all I will have is straw.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Heat, Cold, Gas, and Plants
This week is shaping-up poorly.
It looks like this whole damn week is going to be a scorcher, hitting the high 90's by the end with high humidity. Oh, and no rain either.
I'm coming down with something. My lungs are filling up, I've lost my voice. Feels like a cold. A summer cold. I don't think it's my allergies this time around. I feel really funky.
On the way to work this morning I passed my neighborhood gas station that I always fill-up at. I filled-up 6 days ago for $2.35/gal (OK, it's the premium stuff). Today it jumped to $2.52/gal! 17 cents in 6 days!
Just as we hear that gas prices are falling! HA! Damn Independence Holiday! The demand is going to go up the next week or so because of the holiday travels and this just feels like price gouging! Damn the oil companies!
Diane stopped by again today to finish-up her planting. She added more hostas and daylillies to some of the empty spots in front of the house and put down mulch on the other planting areas. That should help some of the daylillies in front of the garage - because of the pitch of the soil, some of the dirt would was away down the sidewalk when I watered. This should help retain the dirt and even the water.
The last big step is to lay down a fabric weed barrier in the front before we put down the mulch. Diane is pretty much against this, but it's something I insist on. I've used this stuff before, and it's great to 1) keep the weeds out and 2) keep the decorative "topping" (in this case - cypress mulch) out of the dirt. I've used it with stone in the past and it worked well. It's just hell to install, so I volunteered to do it next week while on furlough.
Just hope a cool front moves through so I won't die laying the fabric next week!
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Welcome to Summer
So, they days all run together and they all feel the same, only the season changes. Today is summer - another hot, muggy day that we've been having for a while now.
Seems my allergies must be kicking-in again - it's all settling in my chest. I love having - as they say - a "productive cough". Yech.
Looked out the front window this morning and 2 of the 3 Black-Eyed Susan's look like there's absolutely nothing wrong with them - it's as if someone came and replanted new ones overnight.
The third one? Not so much. Wilted and whithered. Will water again tonight.
Hey, make sure you wander over to say Happy Birthday to Erin when you get a moment.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Damn. I killed 'em.
Because of the ballgames over the weekend, my watering schedule got out of whack. I watered early on Saturday and skipped watering yesterday.
The three Black-eyed Susan's that Diane planted are toast. Actually, one of them is really toast - it's all shrivelled up, worse than the other two. It was the only one that had a flower on it when Diane planted it.
God, I feel bad. I didn't think it would make much of a difference to skip that time. Everything else was just fine, just not those Susan's.
I watered them anyway. Anything can happen. I'm still too new to this watering thing.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Wearin' the new ones
I know I shouldn't be doing this, but I've been wearing my new RayBan's all day. Even at the computer, I haven't been taking them off and I can see fine. All this time I'm usually in my office without my glasses on because I can see the screen better without them. Today, I can see the screen fine. In general, I can see pretty well today, so I guess the prescription is correct after all.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
That explains a few things...
Earlier this week, carol get fed-up about not seeing well and made appointments for the two of us at Lenscrafters to get our eyes checked. It's been almost three years, so I guess it was time.
The tests went fine. What happened next I wasn't ready for.
The technician brings me into the exam room and dials up what she thinks is my rough prescription into that wild contraption that you stick your head into... you know the one, I just don't know what they call that thing... ("Now which one is clearer.. one... or two..."). he doctor comes in, and we get to work, first on the right eye. I'm looking at a projected target on the wall behind me through a mirror on the far wall. There's only three letters projected: "L F O". No problem - we go through the whole fine-tuning thing and get that all set for the right eye.
Onto the left eye. Wait a minute... something's not right.
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I struggle through the first couple of tweaks, as it's difficult to actually see the changes between them. I'm starting to think that the tech dialed-in the wrong starting point. I tell this to the doctor, and as I'm describing what I'm seeing, she says not to worry about it right now, do my best and we'll go in.
The problem was I could see the "L" and the "O" clear as a bell. I really couldn't discern the two horizontal lines of the "F". It never got clear. It never looked as sharp as the the "L" and the "O". Something was wrong and I could just feel something was up.
On top of all this, my left eye is a mess - it has been discharging mucous for the left couple of days. It's read and irritated. On top of that, it also tears a lot and that's been going on for years.
Time for dilating the pupils, take some pictures, and do some close-up study.
Result? The doctor thinks that I may be developing a cataract, right in the center of the lens. It looked a little cloudy, and that's why I couldn't see the "F" like I used to.
Damn. Like father like son. Cataracts. It's just starting though, and who knows how it will progress, so it's going to have to be something to watch going forward.
I also got a prescription for some eyedrops for the left eye. It might be allergy related, so she wanted me to try this for two weeks and see how it goes.
Picking out frames sucks. Now, it's hard to tell what's a Men's frame and Women's frame - in fact, they're going unisex now, so I just can't tell.
I pick out a pair of rimless frames, smaller than I used to have, and another set of RayBans for my sunglasses. The sunglasses will be ready tonight, but my other glasses will take 10 days. (what happened to this "done in an hour" crap?). The sunglasses, when ready, don't feel right. I mean, they feel OK, but the prescription doesn't feel right. I'm told to wear them a while and make sure. I can always come back. Maybe it's these damn dilation eyedrops. I mean, things look s little "wonky", so maybe, even though they're wearing off, it's not back to the way they should be.
Well, we'll have to see how this whole vision thing goes...
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005
My sister Diane stopped by the house this morning and continued her hard labor at making our plot of clay and construction debris into something that would actually grow green plants, some flowering.
I still don't know how this all started. I think she's just really into gardening and has been doing it both their house in the city and the house up in Michigan. She's befriended the local landscaper up in Michigan, so she must be getting tips and has just really found something she just likes to do.
On top of that, the idea that we have property that has absolutely no plants on it (well, no living plants on it), must have sent her over the edge, I guess.
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I just can't remember Diane ever saying that she was going to step-in and takeover our sad situation. But she has. And I'm not going to stop her.
I mean, let's face it. Between Carol and I, we don't have any interest at all in gardens. Carol's got that whole bee-phobia thing, so flowing plants were always out, and even though we had a landscape architect start us down a path at least 10 years ago, we never really kept up with it. That, and certain areas in front of the house that must have had issues with the soil, just made anything we planted in certain areas just die.
So, even though I've been talking about this in recent weeks in the first person, Diane's been busting her butt out there trying to get the soil right and trying to come up with ideas that fit our lifestyle (i.e., low or no maintenance). Planting doesn't appear to be too much of a problem - it's trying to prep the soil that sucks. Our soil is REALLY bad, and the closer you get to the house, the more construction debris and rocks you find, embedded in that thick clay. It takes a lot of work getting the crap out of there, replacing the soil with something good, adding peat where needed.
So, she was back out there today (I could tell because I could see her SUV in our driveway through our WeatherCam). I knew when she got there and I knew when she left. And - now that I've worked alongside her - I know that she really doesn't take breaks so she was out there digging planting and transplanting today.
Sure enough, when I got home, I saw what the next phase was - more hostas and daylillies, as well as some Black-Eyed Susan's. She's got all kinds of hostas, one that actually flowers (which I didn't know).Then in the really big effort, she transplanted a pretty sad burning bush from the front of our house to a spot near where the yews sat only yesterday, along the side of the house. That's not where she wanted to go - she had a spot all picked-out next to the garage, but as she started digging there, she just hit a tangle of roots from a nearby ash tree... not to mention being really close to the gas line going to the gas meter on the outside of the garage.
TRANSPLANTING BUSHES SUCKS. I know - I did it when we transplanted the two yews to the side of the house from the front of the house about 10 years ago. (I think it was longer). I don't know how she did it by herself.
She's come up with some great, simple ideas that seem to work... except for those transplanted hostas that aren't dying but aren't exactly flourishing either. I'll keep watering and we'll wait until next year to figure out what their condition really is.
All of this writing is just to make sure that I say Thanks to my kid sister. I sort of don't know why you're taking your precious time to do it, but do you realize how much we appreciate it? The whole front looks a lot better than, well, ever I guess. I like it better than what the landscaper did years ago. It fits our lifestyle better. It make the place a bit more inviting.
You put in an awful lot of labor and I have to honor that work with my Zen Watering to make sure that it lives on. I just have to remember to do that, since I've never really done it before.
Thank you for taking your precious time and driving all the way out to our house to toil in the soil and making our place look better.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Those are gone...
I mentioned back in April about the two yews on the side of the house.
I have been in denial for too long - the one bush is more than dead and the second one - though it looks healthy - started to turn yellow on some selected branches underneath.
Time to start over.
My 20 year old yews that I originally planted with my dad and transplanted to the side of the house are now gone. Just empty dirt is left, just begging to have something done with it.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Caught a broadcast of the Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! on NPR that we attended of last Thursday.
It was actually edited more than I thought it would. There was an entire game cut out (a Limerick challenge, that Mo Rocca chimed-in with the caller that produced some great laughs).
The editing was great, though. You really couldn't tell the edit points. I was impressed!
Saturday, June 11, 2005
I was excited to see that something good has become of my watering. I went out tonight to do my daily watering when I saw it - one of the daylilies in front of the garage actually bloomed! It was just a nice yellow flower, standing up tall where nothing has bloomed in years... OK, maybe decades... guess the watering is helping something...
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!
I've been a fan of NPR for a few years now. Don't know why I started listening, but on long drives I really enjoy listening. Their news stories are much longer and full of information you just don't get anywhere else. Some of the shows are great, too. One of our favorites that Carol and I listen to every week is produced by Chicago Public Radio and usually airs multiple time over the weekend - it's a "game show" called Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!. This year, they're broadcasting in front of a live audience all summer. So Carol and I along with Diane & Melinda went down to the Bank One Plaza Auditorium to watch the taping.
Now, mind you, this is a radio show, so the stage was sparse (2 podiums, a table, and... a multicolored disco light). It's a nice little auditorium that seats about 500 people. At about 7:30pm, the lights dimmed, the unmistakable sounds of the Allan Parsons Project started up, along with the disco light. Yes, they introduced the cast like the Bulls intros.
Today's show had Carl Kassel (NPR newsman and the show's Official Judge and Scorekeeper) Peter Sagal, the Host, and tonight's panelists Mo Rocca, Paula Poundstone and Richard Roper.
The broadcast is just under an hour but the session lasted about an hour and a half. As Peter told us up front, things will have to be redone, either immediately just because of speaking flubs, or later after the show was complete, to "fix" bad readings of lines or somesuch. We were asked to stay for the "redo's" so that we could absorb sound and match the original content!
The cast was great - Paula was quick-witted in her great, odd style, with great one-liners that probably won't make it to air. Even though she was hot, Mo beat her to the punch in his own way and was drawing huge bursts of laughter throughout the show. I'm sure a lot of his stuff will wind-up on the cutting room floor, but it was great for the show. Richard had a few great lines as well, as one of the running jokes going throughout the show had to do with Anne Bancroft, The Miracle Worker, and not being recognized for her best dramatic role.
There's a segment of the show that's called "Not My Job", where they ask someone well known to answer three questions about a subject they know nothing about. Tonight's call-in guest was S. Epatha Merkerson (Lt. Anita Van Buren of Law & Order fame) and questions had to to with the production of what may be the worst movie of all time - 'Manos' the Hands of Fate. Unfortunately, she went 0-for-3, so the contestant didn't get Carl Kassel's voice on their home answering machine.
We'll have to see if some of the running gags/lines make it into the final edit: Anne Bancroft, Millard Fillmore (and East Aurora and his Noodle Roller), and "it's just us here" - Paula's line after being reprimanded for swearing between segments because there are kids in the audience (which everyone questioned what kid would ask their parents to go to a radio gameshow about current events!)
GREAT TIME, fun time. We want to do it again this summer!
UPDATE: Listen to the show here.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Well, my Zen Watering is also helping our Hawthorne tree - it started to bloom.
OK, key point to Zen Watering: has to be a bug-free night. Feel like I'm twitching to spray the bugs out of the air too often. Nice and quiet in the neighborhood. Hmm... another important note: - become one with your equipment. Learn it. Embrace it. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting enough water pressure out the nozzle. I lost track of how the nozzle worked. There's a thumbscrew type of adjustment on the back that adjusts how the valve opens. It's wasn't tightened, so I didn't have full control of the water flow. Must always have full control for Zen Watering.
Went to Home depot and have replaced all of my hose connections with brass quick-connect fittings. Once I did that, every leaky part of the hose and hose cart stopped leaking. Yes, become one with the equipment...
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Was driving to work this morning when I realized that a house across the street and 2 houses down was TP'd over night. Haven't seen that in a while.
Tonight, while watering the plants that Diane planted, I realized something: 1) I hate gardening, but 2) I love watering.
I have obviously picked-up the watering gene from my dad, who used to love to water the plants and water the grass - by hand at times - just because he could. He'd be out there for hours. I'm starting to see what he saw in it. It's just... peaceful. I don't know, you stand around, hose in hand, and just spray. Oh, and if you get a good nozzle, oh, that's the best. It's not the old brass, straight nozzle. I've got a fancy one that has multiple patterns on it that you just rotate into position to suit your need. Mostly for me, it's "shower" mode - you want a nice gentle shower for these plants and bushes. Some of the plants are doing well, so you don't want to injure them. Then, sometime, you just have to use the "jet" setting to put out a high-pressure stream, not to water but clean up the concrete or decorative landscaping brick. Well, OK, I use it when the hose doesn't reach - I set the nozzle to jet, squeeze the trigger just a bit, and arc the water onto some plants that I just can't reach any other way. But, it's satisfying. Peaceful. Relaxing. If the night is bug free, at sunset, oh... that's just perfect. I'm really digging this...
Monday, June 06, 2005
It better be good
We went back to Ethan Allen tonight to order the media cabinet we looked at about two weeks ago. I guess we got a little spoiled working with La-Z-Boy and others, because when the lady told us it may take 6-8 weeks we were shocked and appalled. That long for a piece of furniture? I piece of furniture that we NEED to have so that when we buy our big, wide-screen HDTV projection TV, we have something to put it on? How can we watch TV without that? HOW CAN WE WAIT 6-8 weeks to watch HDTV? Then we started rationalizing that we were in a "real" furniture store and things had to be made to fulfill the order and we were just used to companies having warehouses full of stuff to sell...
We felt better when we found out that our piece should be in the local warehouse in two weeks.
I guess our negative feelings about the delay had nothing to do with the furniture, but rather we've been pumped up for weeks about actually going out and getting a big, wide-screen HDTV projection TV, and our feelings were just amped-up after going to my cousin Kathy's over the weekend and seeing their new big, wide-screen HDTV projection TV.
It's all about the HD that I'm missing with my TV...
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
I didn't think I looked that bad...
Went to a place near the house to pick up some sandwiches for dinner. Gave the woman behind the counter my order. She punches-up the list into the register. Saw the total amount go down before she said how much it would be. Didn't pay attention to it. Stood in line, waiting for the order to get assembled. Picked-up the order and left.
As I walked across the parking lot to my car, I looked at the receipt.
I got a 10% discount!
I'm only 48 years old - did I look that bad???
Monday, May 30, 2005
Nah, I just don't think they're going to make it
Nope. No change. How long do you wait until you give up?
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Day 3 of Hostas Watch
I don't know... the hostas don't appear to be getting any better.
Spent a long time this evening trying to kill a wasp nest inside the cable demark box on the outside of the house. Took a while, and I soaked the mother and every damn wasp I could see.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Furlough - Day 5
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Furlough - Day 3
Diane's back at the house today. I finished with the border in the front garden, and built another along the garage, where Diane had reworked the soil. More Home Depot shopping where we picked-up and then planted some Day Lillies on either side of the garage door. We got some pea gravel and we worked some areas around the downspouts. Diane also dug-up some large groups of hostas out of her garden, split them up, and replanted them under our hawthorn tree. Um... I don't know - they're not looking so good. I'll water them every day, but... I don't know...
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
So, the phone call that I took at the movies was that Carol wanted to go shopping for her chair. It's a chair for the family room that matches the couch. When we got to La-Z-Boy, they no longer had the couch on display in our color, so it was easier to look at alternatives (Carol didn't like the color of the chair - it matched the couch pillows, and it may look good on pillows but not on an entire chair). We found a chair that she liked and it was significantly cheaper than anything we were looking at before, so we ordered it. We then took a ride to Ethan Allen in Arlington Heights to look at a media cabinet. It's part of a much larger entertainment center, but all we wanted was the low cabinet to replace the base of the TV we have now, and in preparation for acquiring a much larger TV in the near future. We didn't buy the cabinet - I had to measure the shelf areas and make sure all of the equipment fits. It looks like it will.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Furlough - Day 1
It's my first day off in months, and my sister Diane comes over to work on our front landscaping. After a trip to Home Depot (Where I had a bird take a dump on my head, thank you very much) we started working on our tasks. For me - trimming out the area with decorative brick. It's not quite as easy as it looks, but it's looking great. Diane's trying to rework some of the dirt in the corner by our second burning bush. The dirt around the house is absolutely terrible - clay and construction rubbish, loaded with rocks. We had another trip to Home Depot and called it a day. It's starting to look real good.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
It's that time of year again when we get together and celebrate Carol's & Debbie's birthdays'. This year, Carol came up with the idea of just going to Chinatown, walk around, shop, and just find a restaurant to have dinner at. So that's what we did. I drove everyone down to Chinatown, parked, and walked down Wentworth. We stopped in a few stores to look around. We walked a few blocks, and finally settled on a restaurant at the end of the street, with the un-Chinese name of Evergreen. We went inside and it was more than half empty, with many tables of 10 just sitting there idle. Our hostess struggled to find us a table, as it sounded like they were going to be busy tonight. The cobbled together a table for 5 in a corner of the room( Which actually blocked-off serving traffic to some of the tables). We ordered a Deluxe Dinner for Five with an additional order of roast duck. We COULD NOT BELIEVE the amount of food that showed-up at the table! No, really! The table was covered in serving dishes and we barely had room to maneuver anything around. LOTS of food came home with us? Oh, and those empty tables? FILLED! A Bus pulled-up outside and people poured-in. They all had ID's from the National Restaurant Show! Guess we picked a good place... the food was wonderful... all of it.
We "waddled" back up Wentworth, stopped in more stores, and drove back to Barry & Buffy's for desert - a birthday cake from Dinkel's which was great as well. A nice, fun evening.
Friday, May 20, 2005
We've seen a new rug store open up in the area. I'm always leery about these places. Then we got a flyer in the mail and it looked like it had promise. Tonight, we went shopping at the store - Capel Rugs - and we were really surprised. The store was huge, the selection was huge, and the prices were damn affordable. We wound-up coming home with not one but two rugs, identical except for size, for the dining room and living room. (How the hell we got the big rug home in my car was a damn miracle - my car has a small pass-through hatch from the trunk into the back seat and the rug was tightly wound enough to fit through the hole, with the rug resting just 6 inches short of the stick!)
Monday, May 16, 2005
We'll be poppin' soon...
Carol and I went out and got a new microwave tonight. What's wrong with the old one? Nothing, really. It's just 20 years old, has a manual wind-up turntable, and it's huge and doesn't have the cool settings that the newer ones have (you know, like throw in a bag of popcorn and just press the "Popcorn" button - it's times it out correctly with its internal sensors). Also, you can make the beeper quieter - great for the real late night snacks where you're trying not to wake up your spouse...
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Oh, oh... Sick Chip?
Back to long sleeves and coats.
Figures that we have White Sox games this weekend - we're back into what appears to be annual cycle of "if the White Sox are in town and are playing on a weekend, the weekend is going to be crumby".
Since the Chicago Wolves lost the other night, they have to play Game 5 of this round tomorrow night. Big deal, right? It is when it's your wife's birthday. So we went out to dinner tonight (nothing fancy - she had a craving for meat, so we went to Outback).
We seem to have a problem - our youngest bunny Chip is not acting right. He was fine this morning, running, jumping and zipping around the family room. Tonight - he's not moving much, if at all. He looks uncomfortable. When we pet him, he "vibrates". Based on our history of rabbits, that's a strong indication of pain or discomfort. He's looking for a place to be by himself. We're going to have to watch him.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Always get the latest weather
It's been in the 70's for days now. This morning, we've got a major thunderstorm coming through (cool!) which is already forcing the temperatures downward. It's supposed to be in the 40's by the time I leave to go home...
and me, dressed in short sleeves and no jacket...
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Didn't even last a week!
We have barely had the fresh paint on the walls for, what, 5 days?
There, on the stairs, I can see where a certain older female bunny has satisfied her urge to chew by chewing on the fresh paint on the outside corner of the wall! I guess we setup the gates a bit too late.
Time to break out some touch-up paint!!!
Monday, May 09, 2005
Carol took today off to try to start putting the house back together from our pre-paint pre-flooring days.
Today - in what I consider a smart move - she hired some movers to move furniture from the garage into the house. Took less than 30 minutes and saved us pain and agony of a few days, not to mention a drastic reduction in yelling and arguing on how a certain piece of furniture fits/does not fit through certain doorways.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
I know I'm going to somehow wind up complaining about this, but it's actually hot outside! It's humid and almost in the 80's, sunny, not much of a breeze.
We drove into the city to pickup my Mom to bring her over to Diane & Melinda's so we can go out to dinner. Diane told Mom to have me get off the Kennedy Expressway at Fullerton just to see "Underpass Mary" or "Our Lady Of The Underpass". Well, we did, but we didn't know that the image is actually on the north side of the underpass and we were going southbound. We couldn't see it at all - all we could see is a crowd of about 50 standing around where the image would be. Odd - very odd. Yet, somehow, I feel compelled to see this before it gets defaced again or changes due to rainfall or whatever.
We went out to dinner at Tufano's Vernon Park Tap, which is pretty decent Italian food - nothing fancy at all, but good. We went back to the house and did the present thing. There was a fire truck and ambulance down the block at the nursing/retirement home. They're there so frequently, that they don't even use sirens anymore - just lights. Sad.
We didn't stop on the way home. Still have a need to see this... icon?
Friday, May 06, 2005
House Project #2 - Day Four - COMPLETE
That's it - John and his crew have completed and are we happy about the quality of his work (You need a painter in the Chicago area and we'd be more than happy to give you a recommendation). It's hard to get the feel of the place - it's way different and looks great, but it's different, too, compared to the last 20-some years. It takes getting used to.
Went to Expo Design Center tonight and looked at area rugs. Fell in love with one that's on sale. I mean, it called out to me from across the room. Alas, we don't have the money - even at 50% off - to buy it tonight. Who knows how long it will be there.
Followed that up with dinner at Fuddruckers and a trip to Home Depot for new paint-able switch and outlet plates, a piece of Plexiglas for the rabbit cage (long story - let's just say it's about neatness and protection), and some knew door pulls for the foyer closet bi-fold doors.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
House Project #2 - Day Three
The walls are done and most of the trim. It's really great walking in for the first time and seeing the color - everything is just warmer than before. Our accent color is not what I expected. The swatches made it look as if the colors were further apart than what they're looking like on the walls. Looks like it's an optical illusion, though. It depends on lighting and the angle that you look at the wall. The third accent color is even better than I thought, turning out slightly lighter and redder than the swatches (actually, all of the colors are slightly redder, but that could just be lighting). That color as an accent is like the best move yet with the painting. It's a small wall, but it just punches it up so well, we're both pretty psyched about it.
And it's just damn paint.