This collection of entries is from the Category "Friends".
Tuesday, January 01, 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...
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).
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.
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...
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...
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.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
We drove up to Wisconsin and spent the day at our friend Chelby & Damian's house, to celebrate Thanksgiving a little early. We've had the pleasure of being included in Chelby's Extended Family Thanksgiving celebrations for a quite a few years now. We went up slightly early, because Carol was asked to do her wonderful stuffing, and since Carol was looking for someone to shorten some kitchen drapes that she had bought, she made a deal with Chelby - shorten the drapes in exchange for teaching how to make the stuffing. Done.
It had occurred to me when we got up there, that they didn't know about me being diagnosed with Type II Daiabetes... which I sort of forgot about... The only soda they had was either the real stuff, that I shouldn't have, or... what I would consider "odd" flavors. White grape? Tangerine? I had a Diet Coke that was found in the back of the fridge. I had never had a Diet Coke in a can... it had absolutely no flavor.. .and tasted like I was drinking Alka Seltzer. I am SO happy that I've avoided Diet Coke so far, if that's what it tastes like... in a can, at least.
Saturday, 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..
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...
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.
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...
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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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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Saturday, May 27, 2006
Another Chinese Dinner
We drove into the city tonight to have another Chinese dinner with friends. that's two Saturday's in a row, but in doesn't matter - it's all about being there with your friends.
You see, Barry actually came home yesterday, 9 days after his liver transplant.
I can't believe how good he looks, how good he sounds, and it's amazing to see him up and about walking through his house.
There's just something about the technology of modern medicine that sometimes just astounds you.
We ordered out Chinese, Buffy rented a movie and we just had a great time - oh, and the movie was pretty damn good too: Mrs Henderson Presents
Saturday, May 20, 2006
After the ballgame, we drove downtown. Well, after the big traffic jams from all the Cubs-Sox traffic, we finally got downtown. What an incredible day - driving up Michigan Avenue, though slow-moving, was just your typical, wonderful, great, Chicago Experience. Apparently there were tons of other people that felt the same way judging by the number of peds everywhere.
We got to the hotel and went up to Barry's room, not knowing what to expect.
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There was Barry, sitting in an office chair, looking like... Barry!
Holy crap did he look good! I didn't know what to expect, but there he was, in a shirt and sweat pants, watching TV, and other than the central-line connections flopping out of his neck, he was just... Barry! He didn't move around, much. I mean, here's a guy that had a liver transplant a few days ago, already out of the hospital, sitting in a hotel room watching golf!
The ONLY thing that was different - again, other than sticking to the chair and not moving around much - was that he was actually 30 pounds heavier than when he went into surgery (they pumped his body full of fluids during the 6 hour+ operation), so he's not "swollen" from the surgery itself, all of his tissues are full of fluid.
We talked for quite a while. We were kind of worried about his stamina, but this is how it went:
We stayed for dinner, ordering out from Ben Pao (using CEO Deliveries) and then stayed around and watched Batman Begins on HBO.
Stamina? Yeah, he's got it. He's great. It was almost... shocking. He said something that just kind of hit me from so many different angles.
Here it was Saturday - he had transplant surgery on Wednesday. We were talking about how a doctor came to talk to them about what was going to happen, minute by minute, through surgery and post-op. They prepared Barry and Buffy for what Barry was going to "look like" when he came out of surgery - bloated, tubes, the incision, etc. They just wanted to make sure B&B were prepared.
Anyway, Barry says "I got up to take a shower..." and that little phrase just hit me. Just days later, he's getting up out of bed to take a shower... so soon? Up and about? taking a shower?... (He went on to say that when he saw himself in the mirror, he thought he looked pretty damn good compared to what they said he could look like).
I believe that B&B said that there was only one other patient to leave the hospital this early after a transplant. We all believe that Barry is where he is because he never was "significantly" sick from his liver failure, which was just on a path to slow failure. He was in pretty good shape going in, and he's in great shape coming out.
This is just a great start to his recovery. He's got a way to go, but damn he's on the right path...
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Friday, May 19, 2006
I just got off the phone with my buddy, Barry.
Yeah, the same guy I talked about just 48 hours ago.
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Yes. THAT guy. Not only was he awake and alert, but he was already out of Intensive Care.
Now - get a load of this:
HE'S LEAVING THE HOSPITAL TONIGHT.
He was just getting out of surgery 48 hours ago with a brand new liver through a transplant, and he's leaving the friggin' hospital.
OK, he's not going home. He's going to a Residence Inn suites hotel near the hospital for God knows how long. Because - after all, from an insurance standpoint, a Residence Inn room is cheaper than a hospital room.
I guess that's the arrangement the transplant team has. He'll be seen by a nursing service and he'll probably have to go back for tests that they can't do at the hotel, but that's got to be a much better way to recuperate.
We're invited to come over tomorrow (after baseball) to visit and even order out and maybe just stick around and just visit, depending on how everyone feels.
He sounds tired, but good. Happy, even, if you could say that.
I think he really knows today how lucky they are. And that's just gotta make you happy.
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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
There are an awful lot of things that I don't discuss here. I have a built-in filter to not blog about some things in my life. There are some things that are personal, and then there are things that are PERSONAL, and I happen to know where that line is in regards to my life. Then, there are things that are personal to you that actually based on something happening to someone else - family member or friend - and my built-in filter knows not to talk about it. Unless, of course, I seek permission and get it, limited or not.
So, there's been something that's been going on for quite a while now that I haven't talked about here. It's something kind of scary and it's effecting friends of ours, one very directly and severely. And, in deference to their privacy, my filter automatically kicked in and I've kept it quiet. This time, it was actually hard to do. I know people that actually read this blog, albeit it's only once in a great while, that actually know the person involved personally. I just don't know who "knows" and who doesn't, so best to play it safe.
Well, the filter is coming down for this instance, and I just hope to God that it's OK, because I haven't had the opportunity to seek permission to do so.
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I've known Barry for over 15 years now. I met him interviewing him for a position and he was hired soon after. We worked in the same department for 6 or 7 years. We occasionally disagreed on things, sometimes significantly, but we always had a good relationship. The relationship grew over the years, and he and his wife and Carol and I have become best friends. We've traveled together to our favorite town - Las Vegas - quite a few times. We try to see them every month (it's hard to coordinate schedules a lot of times, plus coming into the city (into "enemy territory" - Wrigleyville) is difficult, but we're always passing emails in-between.
Now, the filter is being only slightly removed so that I can talk just a little about this.
Barry has been sick for a while now. He's had some liver problems over the years, that have slowly turned worse.
It advanced enough that it actually turned a corner - it had started to fail.
We got a call from Buffy this morning at about 6:30 (that's in that "Time Period" where you don't want to hear the phone ring, because - if it's not a wrong number - it's going to be something significant that requires your attention.
Barry is in surgery as we speak - getting a new liver. A transplant.
He's been waiting for one for a while, but he's been in good-enough health that, even though it was failing, it was still working - though just not as well as it should.
He's had at least 4 "False Alarms" over the past few months - where they get the call, go to the hospital, and the transplant team tests the donor liver (sometimes requiring them to travel to... "wherever" the liver may be) only to find out after hours of testing that the donor liver wasn't viable due to things that weren't found until it was physically examined and tested, like it being "too fatty", or has signs of cirrhosis or fibrosis.
So, imagine getting these phone calls, rushing to the hospital, waiting for what is significant, major surgery that will - in the big picture - save your life, and waiting for hours only to find out that the donor liver is viable.
And have this happen more than once - what kind of toll does that take on your life? Your well-being?
Well, anyway, Barry is under the knife, getting a new liver. More details to come.
UPDATE 12:35: Just got the phone call from Buffy - Barry tollerated the surgery really well, the new liver looks "gorgeous" and they didn't find any surprises inside when they started. She isn't able to see him for another hour yet. He's going to have a lot of tubes and drains and he may look bloated, but he got through it pretty well.
Hopefully, we'll get to hear a bit more later.
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Saturday, April 29, 2006
Nothing tastes better than food cooked on a kettle
What a lousy weather day. Rain. Lots of it. Dark. Thank God we're not doing anything today...
... oh, wait... B&B and The Debster are coming out to our house to go out to dinner to celebrate Carol's And Debbie's birthdays (in May). We went out to dinner at the Weber Grill Restaurant out here in Schaumburg.
Everything tastes better when grilled on a Weber kettle, and that's what the restaurant uses. I mean, we got the barbecued shrimp appetizer and - holy crap! - that just sells the whole concept of a kitchen of nothing but Weber kettles.
After dinner we went back to the house and found... NOTHING to watch on TV. We watched the absolute worst movie that we've seen... perhaps ever. The movie? Bewitched. Nicole Kidman AND Will Ferrell? Puh-lease. This may have just put me against any Will Ferrell project.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Annual Oscar Party
We actually started the day by picking-up my mom and taking her to Diane & Melinda's for lunch. Of course, it was for a Jack visit, too. Diane made some beef stew that was actually very good. Melinda made a cake that looked great, tasted fabulous. Something happened along the way, and it was the densest cake we've had - like the yellow cake turned into pound cake and the frosting turned into this wonderful almost fudge-like consistency. Too bad it was so damn heavy, because it tasted fabulous.
We left early to go to B&B's for the annual Oscar party with the usual suspects. The difference this year is that we sort of laid-off the food. It seems like we've always made too much food for this event. This year, it was pizza and some snacks and it actually worked-out well. I was really surprised at that. Maybe I didn't care because of the food we had at Diane & Melinda's.
We watched the preshow on E! and were underwhelmed by the coverage. It felt that we didn't see everyone on the red carpet. Turns out we didn't, because as we watched the ABC preshow, we saw people that didn't stop by Mr., Mizrahi (were they avoiding him, maybe? or was the director at E! just stupid enough to not even shoot these people from a distance, instead of showing us the same damn people over and over and over).
We felt the show was great. Jon Stewart did a WONDERFUL job and really looked comfortable throughout the show. Extremely happy Clooney got an award, shocked but happy the Crash got Best Picture.
Even more shocked that the show moved quickly and ended at a time that actually seemed EARLY compared to prior years. And why the hell do they have to play music throughout every speech? Maybe I wouldn't mind it as much if it wasn't as hot as it was - it needed to be under a little bit more compared to the speaker's volume.
The show is STILL TOO STUFFY. I want something more Golden Globe-y. Maybe they need to go back to the dinner party atmosphere of decades ago.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
We drove up to Wisconsin to our friends Chelby & Damian's to celebrate their son Connor's 2nd Birthday. it was a nice family and friends gathering, that - believe it or not - was actually scheduled earlier in the day so that we can go there and take off to drive to the Wolves game tonight. Wow! Thoughtful! So we had sloppy Joe's, talked about everything, watched Connor open his presents. Oh, the cake was cool, too - it was a construction site.
It's a bit of a ride to get up there, but it was just nice being with them.
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.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Every year - thereabouts - our friends Chelby & Damian throw a Thanksgiving dinner for friends. I think it stemmed from Chelby's family always being out of town at this time of year, so what better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to share it with friends?
This year was a bit small - just Chelby/Damian/Conner, Carol & I, and Pam & Tony - friends of their's from the Renn Faire. First thing you notice when walking in the house is the extreme humidity as our glasses fogged severely immediately, since Chelby has been working all morning in the kitchen.
Tony had brought with a few (a couple... hell, it had to have been a case or two) of mostly empty wine bottles left over from a wine tasting yesterday at his store. What a WONDERFUL time!!! Carol & i just had a great time tasting a whole bunch of very nice wines.
Dinner was absolutely great - so much so that I had to take a picture of Chelby... sucking-up gravy from a gravy boat with a crazy straw. Yes, things were that good.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Great evening, crappy ending
Went to B&B's today for some take-out Chinese and just some good conversation. Barry still seems to be hanging in there, but it's just odd seeing him without energy in his own home. I love the guy, but the medications are just screwing him up. At least, I pray it's the meds. He's a bit quieter, finding it hard to concentrate on some things. Still, he's a trooper. So is Buff, and life continues to go on... which leads me to the entertainment of the evening. First, we watched Ladykillers On Demand. Odd, quirky movie that was pretty enjoyable. I had no idea how much of a major part Irma P. Hall had in the movie - great job.
Now, comes the vile, disgusting, uneasy part of the evening - watching HBO for George Carlin's new show, Live from New York, Carlin: Life is Worth Losing.
Sorry. I've seen Carlin on HBO. I've seen Carlin in person. I felt like I needed to take a shower before killing myself. In fact, the whole show felt like something out of CSI where the comedian would be found dead in his dressing room after the show. Way the hell too dark, touching on things that needn't be touched. I'm actually using the word vile. Laughter? Hardly.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Big Screen World Series
We had Bary, Buffy, and Debbie over this evening to watch the first game o fthe World Series on the big screen in HDTV.
I can't tell you how happy I am that Barry was feeling well enough to leave the house and come out all the way to our house. And I'm happy that Deb was able to get out here, too.
So, we called-up our new PF Chang's at Woodfield and placed an order for pickup, and the "girls" went out to pick it up before the game started.
What a great time - they stayed for the whole game, the food was great. Oh, and we won the first game. How cool.
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Saturday, October 01, 2005
Went to B&B's tonight. Originally, we were going to go out to Mon Ami Gabi for dinner to celebrate our anniversaries, but Barry wasn't up to it.
Instead we had a nice homemade ham dinner and a movie afterward - Crash. Dinner was great. Conversation was great. Movie was disturbing. Great cast, great script, great movie - just disturbing.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Lots o' Chinese
Since the game was so early today, we headed north in the city to Wrigleyville to visit Barry & Buffy and see how barry is feeling. He's really fatigued, looks like he lost a little weight, but other than that, he seems just like his normal everyday self.
We watched and talked extensively about Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath stories while watching extended coverage on MSNBC.
We ordered Chinese food for delivery and, well, you just can't order the right amount of Chinese food. We had 4 entrées, extra white rice, big order of fried rice. And this was good Chinese, no matter what you ate.
Watched Ladder 49 on Starz after that. (Actually, a decent movie). then a cheesecake sampler afterward.
Man we just love eating and talking...
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Since the ballgame was so early (thanks to Fox), we went over to B&B's house for the rest of the day. Plans called for us going over to El Tapatio for dinner. Normally we'd just walk over, but it was just too humid out (and Buff was a little fatigues from driving back and forth to Joliet - twice), so we drove. we really like the food there - very traditional, good prices. Our service today was a little... off. I think that Carol and I were the only ones that got exactly what we ordered, as opposed to wrong drinks and wrong meat selections on some of the platters. Odd. (The waiter did go and take some enchiladas off the bill though, for the mix-ups).
We had lots to talk about - family, health. Back at the house,we took-in a showing of Be Cool on On Demand. (funny movie - I think we need to see Get Shorty (which Carol & I have not seen). Had a desert of cupcakes from the Southport Grocery. Great sugar frosting.
Love spending the evening like this - friends, talk, drink, food, movie.
Gotta love it.
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.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Nothing is better than spending the day with your friends, barbecuing, drinking, eating, talking and having a good time. That's what we did at Barry & Buffy's today. Barry grilled some pork chops (and a chicken breast for Deb), Carol made a salad, Buff made some corn on the cob. Wonderful. Pat made a great blueberry bundt cake for desert. Yummy. I love days like this. Wish we were together hours earlier and stayed hours later.
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.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
and "Rabbit, Rabbit
So, last night we drove into the city to our annual celebration at Barry & Buffy's house with Debbie and Kenny & Pat. The drive was great - except you had to be alert for all of the idiots speeding, tailgating, and slaloming down the tollways and expressways. It took me half an hour to find a parking spot in their Wrigleyville neighborhood. Let's just say the area was jumpin'. I wound up getting a parking place 2 doors down from B&B. Go figure.
*sigh* We're getting old.
I think everyone fell asleep at one point or another during the evening - and this was before 11:30! Poor Debbie is just absolutely wiped-out from working overnights at Fields from Thanksgiving to Christmas. We ate like fools again. This year it was all appetizers and desserts and there was a lot to go around. For some strange reason, though I had every intent to do it, I didn't take any pictures this year. Did we stay long? I think we were on our way by 12:30.
Yes, we're all getting old.
P.S. I got an early birthday gift from Barry and Buffy (they always try to do something for me since my birthday is just in a few days - the 4th - and Buffy just had her birthday on the 30th).
Anyway, it's a really cool little radio controlled Mini Cooper. Wonder if Erin would be jealous? (even though it's a little plastic RC car and not the convertible Mini Copper that she wants...)
Saturday, December 18, 2004
We went to B&B's house tonight for our annual Christmas Dinner. Unfortunately, Debbie is still slaving-away at Field's at Water Tower and just couldn't get away to join us. She was missed.
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The drive to their house was probably the worst drive yet - an hour and a half. There was a ton of traffic - had to be Christmas shoppers. There were accidents, too. Idiots.
We had some hors d'oeuvre's and talked a while. Barry had made is own cocktail sauce for the shrimp which was the deadliest thing that I think I ever had. I just wasn't ready for the severity of the horseradish - it was strong.
Barry had picked-up a beef tenderloin at the Paulina Market for dinner. It was wonderful - a bit rarer than I would like (I'm a medium rare guy, while this was right up Carol's Rare alley...).
We watched pieces of Love, Actually before dinner and watched a Travel Channel special on a Royal Caribbean Cruise's 12-day Mediterranean tour (something that we're interested in doing in 2006).
All in all - as always - it was another great night just talking and enjoying friends.
The weather changed while we were at their house - the temperature dropped and we were getting battered with lake effect snow, which meant the trip out of the city was a bit dicey, but it was better when we got closer to home (well, except for the roads icing-up).
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Saturday, November 27, 2004
Boboli & Friends
We had Barry & Buffy over tonight, just to hang around. For dinner, we made our own little pizzas with Boboli and our own ingredients. It's a great little fun thing to do with friends. Then, we spent the evening making a game out of the list of 400 Quotes that American Film Institute has submitted to it's membership to come up with the 100 Best Quotes of All Time (which will be next year's - AFI'S 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes, a three-hour TV special in June 2005). The quotes are great, but what makes one quote better than another?
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Lunch with a friend
Barry drove out to the 'burbs today and we had lunch at Stir Crazy in Woodfield. We used to have lunch somewhat irregulary while we were both out of work, but this is the first time we did it (I think) this year. Talked about all kinds of wierd things. Enjoyable.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
To lick our wounds and gnaw our teeth over dinner
We finally had all of our schedules aligned so we drove into the city to have dinner with B & B and Debbie. Again, a wonderful evening. Most of the time, however, when comisserating over the election results. I think that was the most we've talked politics ever (for one period of time). It was nice to "comisserate" with friends.
I had a moment to talk to Barry & Buffy about a plan I have up my sleve - to celebrate our 25th anniversaries together (ours was just this past September, their's is in September of 2006). It will give us enough time to save up for my idea: a Mediteranean Cruise. I think it's safe to say they were intrigued about the prospect.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
B & B's anniversary is on the 23rd.
Ours is on the 15th - and it's a BIG ONE this year (Silver, my friends).
So, we took today (a different kind of anniversary) to celebrate our anniversaries.
The four of us went out to Mon Amí Gabi to celebrate our anniversaries tonight. We keep forgetting how much we love the food there.
We really do enjoy these people - they really are our best friends, and it's just great being able to be together, drink, eat, and celebrate our anniversaries.
Afterward, we just drove around downtown. It was such a gorgeous night, I didn't want to go home. I just wanted to drive and see the beautiful city we live in. We've got one of the best skylines around, and that view from the Adler Planetarium is indeed the "Money Shot" of the city.
What a nice night. I miss going out to dinner with them. We need to do this more often... of course, we'd need some money to do that...
Sunday, August 15, 2004
A wedding to remember
We had a a wonderful, unique experience tonight.
Our buddy Victor (whom some of you know as The Diz evenings on WGCI, and may have seen him in a few pictures around this blog) who sits right next to us at our White Sox games got married tonight.
The ceremony was something to see. First off all, the wedding was at 5pm. On a Sunday Night.
Now Michelle, Victor's lovely wife, had won a special "thing" at a Bridal Fair - she was selected to become a "Buff Bride". She (and Victor) got personal trainers, dietitians, etc to get them in shape for the wedding. Oh, and this whole process was shot by a crew for NBC's Dateline (and it's supposed to air sometime in September). So, let's add in a Dateline crew, plus a crew to videotape the wedding for Victor & Michelle, the official wedding photographer(s) and the place gets a bit crowded.
Now, another aspect of the wedding is that it's actually a Black and White Ball - everyone was to wear black and/or white and Black Tie was invited (which I did - yes, I got a tux for the wedding). This whole thing just upscales the wedding dramatically. And speaking of dramatics, it just begins.
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We saw Victor just before the wedding and realized that everyone that was standing up had boutonnières that had gold masks of comedy and tragedy. Odd? The lights in the room went down dramatically and the ceremony started. The groomsmen walked in, all in tuxes, taking One. Step. At. A. Time. The lines the aisle, Then Victor walked in the same way. When he reaches the front, the Groomsmen bow to each other and cross to the right side of the aisle. The bridesmaids enter the same way, each carrying a masquerade mask on a stick. The women are also dressed in black. They all enter, turn to their partner across the aisle. Then men bow, the women curtsy. The walk hand in hand to the front of the room. We then have the regular Ring Bearer, Broom Bearer and flower girls. Then Michelle enters. Holy Cow. If this is a Black and White Ball, the Bride and Groom must different, right? Well, victor had a black tux, red vest, black shirt, red tie. Michelle's dress was all read. And flowing. And long. And gorgeous.
(Now, I have to admit, that for a split second, in the dark, with all of the candles, seeing all the guys in tuxes, all the girls in black dresses with masks, the bride in red... I had this flash that I was at the secret party in the middle of "Eyes Wide Shut"...)
The Ceremony was wonderful, the ministers fantastic. Toward the end of the ceremony, was another piece - they christened their daughter Chloe (who, just like Victor, you would have seen in pictures in this blog from the White Sox games). A bridesmaid took a header and we didn't know it until the minister asked for someone to call 911 (as far as we know, she was OK, even though the Arlington Heights Fire Department came out to make sure).
The ceremony started at 5:45 and was over by 6:30. Time for cocktails and appetizers. The room was on the second floor, but now we had to go to the basement, to a Jazz Club called The Boiler Room. We had free drinks and I never did see the actual appetizers - for an hour and a half. We were finally invited upstairs to dinner at 8pm. The room looked great. The Bridal Party was introduced, and when Victor and Michelle were introduced and entered the room, the first thing that went on in the front was cutting the cake. Again, this looked like a media circus. Then we had the toasts, not only by the best man, but by Victor, his radio on-air partner, and their boss. Eventually we started eating. The soup arrived at 9pm and the entrée somewhere around 9:50.
So we're eating dinner at a wedding reception at 10 o'clock on a Sunday night.
The thing is, the food was great, the room was great. Masks were given out to all of the women in the room (they had little "Michelle and Victor" ribbons on them). Eventually, there was a first dance and as I had thought would happen, Chloe had to join in, and they looked great as a family.
Being radio people, the DJ was great and what people were left were finally dancing at around 11pm)
Well, we had to finally go. This was late for us! We found Victor and Michelle outside on a balcony getting some air. They looked great and just so damned happy!
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Saturday, August 14, 2004
Dinner with friends
Went to Barry & Buffy's tonight to have a quick barbecue and yack with friends. Debbie was able to squeeze in some time and come and join us. We sat out in their backyard while Barry grilled some chicken and ribs. The sun was actually hot and there wasn't much of a breeze either. The neighborhood was quiet, which was odd since they're just blocks from Wrigley and the game had only been over for an hour or so.
After the great dinner, we watched whatever was on the Olympics, making snide comments about the male divers' outfits, as well as the build of a lot of the swimmers. I'm telling you, watching the Olympics with friends gives you another perspective of the games!
Again, I know I say this a lot about them, but we enjoy the company of the three of them and miss them terribly.
Sunday, July 18, 2004
I am sitting on the deck of my sister's house in Michigan. It's not completely dark yet, so I'm taking what little time I have just to sit back and enjoy the semi-quiet.
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This morning, Carol & I picked-up our friends Barry & Buffy to enjoy a quick (read "cheap") getaway for the week - staying at my sister's house. The drive was totally uneventful. As soon as we got up here and unloaded the car, we went to Joe Jackson's Fruit Stand in New Buffalo to get some particular things we needed for the week. Then it was off to Martin's to do the major grocery shopping, and then finally to Falatic's for all the meat shopping. It was back to Diane's and then out to lunch at the Red Arrow Road House. On the way back to the house, we stopped at at a jewelry store that, well, we were told we had to see. It was Abigail Heche. This was some seriously gorgeous jewelry in this place. Yes, pricey, but damn the quality is there... (Oh, and yes, that's Ann's sister... we met Abigail and her mom and she was showing us a gorgeous necklace...). It was back to the house and we're all zombies.
Diane & Melinda must have left sometime after 4 I think. I just grilled some hotdogs and hour ago, just so we could eat something tonight.
We really have no schedule to meet, no times to keep. We're away from the city and just enjoying the time.
Of course, there's a ton of mosquitoes buzzing around me right now as the sun sets. I have a Black & Decker Halo™ Mosquito Inhibitor System sitting next to me and not being very effective.
It would be a perfect evening other than that... oh, yes, and the "hooligans" (as we call them) that are next store. They're just outside and being noisy. Hopefully that won't be S.O.P. for the week.
Just nice being out here... Have I mentioned that yet?
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Saturday, June 19, 2004
Dinner with friends
It's been a bad year for friends. Well, at least for us. We haven't seen them hardly at all this year. That's why we had Barry, Buffy & Debbie over for dinner today. Carol whipped-up some ribs, chicken, corn on the cob, salad, and apple pie for dessert. I whipped-up to photo books of pictures that I've taken over the past 5 years of the 5 of us. I had them 4-color printed, bound and sent to us by
MyPublisher. I got the 6"x8" books and I really recommend them. I need to do try one of the large 9"x12" hard-cover books and see what they look like. The one's that I produced were 36 pages and only cost $17.70 each.
After dinner it was DirecTV Pay Per View time with Last Samurai, a better movie than I thought it would be.
I miss these guys. I enjoy the times we have together. Fortunately, Carol & I and B&B are going to spend a cheap vacation at my sister's home in Michigan next month and getaway, relax, and enjoy the company.
Saturday, February 28, 2004
"2004... 2004... 2004..."
A little over 25 years ago, when I joined a company (that I was at for almost 20 years), I met a guy that worked in the data center. Over the years we were coworkers and we even went out of town a few times on business trips. All these years later, we're still friends and we see each other occasionally, mostly when we take a weekend and go up to his house in the middle of Wisconsin, where he hosts "The Away Team" (I have no recollection on why we called ourselves that.
Anyway, for as long as I've known him, he's always talked about 2004. That was his goal - 2004. Through heart attacks and hip replacement, he always focused on 2004. When things weren't going well at work, we could always hear him muttering "2004... 2004... 2004..."
Why? Because he'd turn 65 and be able to retire.
Tonight, all of his friends and family got together and threw him a surprise 65th birthday party. Yes, he was surprised (and you know, when you know a guy has had a few heart attacks in his life, you get a real uneasy feeling yelling Surprise! at a guy as he's walking down some stairs into a dark basement where he thinks there's a flooding problem that he's going to help out with...), and he was doubly surprised since his birthday is actually on March 7.
We got a chance to meet his extended family and friends that we didn't know. What a wonderful group of people.
He's still working at the same company (since 1972), and John tells us that he's thinking of staying around with the company until 2005... and that just seems wrong.
Happy 65th Birthday, John!
Monday, January 05, 2004
Sadly, it's not "What is Electricity?"
Well, my buddy Joe returned as 1 Day Champion on Jeopardy today after his $14,800 win on Friday.
He was in second place throughout the game, and just couldn't pull it out in Final Jeopardy, so he reign as Champion only lasted a day.
Anyway, good job, Joe! It's still pretty damn cool even being selected to be on the show, let alone winning!
Friday, January 02, 2004
What is Playing Banjo?
Back in October, when I was up in Wisconsin with "The Away Team", My buddy/former co-worker/former boss Joe told us he was going out to Culver City, California back in October.
So what, you may ask?
Well, he was going to compete on Jeopardy!
The show aired today - and he won! Took him to Final Jeopardy to do it, but he did it! Next week I think is Kid's Week, so he won't be back for another week. Of course, in accordance with his agreement, Joe can't talk about it. But, how cool is that?
Here's a link to his "Hello to Chicago" video from the Jeopardy website.
Here's an MPEG video (6Mb) of Alex Trebec and Joe talking during the intoduction segment.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Damn good food...
We went to B&B's last night with Debbie for our Holiday Dinner. Normally we would celebrate at a nice restaurant like we have for the last couple of years, but we can't afford it and Barry has been out of work for months as well, not to mention Debbie had to go to work at 10 pm. Barry made a great beef tenderloin that we were fortunate enough to bring the leftovers home with us. I really enjoy getting together with these guys - something we just don't do as often as we'd like.
Sleeping last night was another thing entirely. I didn't, basically. I may have overeaten just a little bit and my stomach told me that all night long. I'm a wreck this morning. But the sun is out and it's in the 40's, so how bad can it be.
Saturday, December 13, 2003
Chelby @ 31
Our friends Chelby & Damian moved up to Wisconsin back in... oh... April? We haven't seen them since. We went up to see them (they're barely in Wisconsin, between Genoa City and Pell Lake) for Chelby's 31st birthday (which is today). The house is, well, a bit of a mess right now as they're still in the middle of painting/decorating, and considering the Chelby is 6 months pregnant, they're running out of time to get a nursery ready - I hope they make it!
Today was billed as a "Stitch-N-Bitch", where people come over (sort of Open House style) with sewing projects and everyone just sits around and sews and yacks and sews and drinks and sews and eats. Actually, it was a great time - even though Carol & I didn't bring anything to sew. (Hey, I did my part - installing some software on their computer).
Carol & I were the only "hockey friends" there - everybody else was from the Renn Faire circle of friends. It's always interesting going to a party of any sort where there are multiple circles of friends that are centered around a couple. The union of the two sets is interesting - they're swell people and there are so many similarities and it's just all comfortable.
It was a good time and I miss those guys. I'm surprised my allergy medicine lasted without incident!
Saturday, November 15, 2003
B & B & the movies
Barry and Buffy came over this afternoon. We caught the 3:30 showing of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World at the AMC South Barrington 30. The theater was packed - I should have realized that it had great buzz and it had just opened yesterday. thank God for MovieTickets.com!. For once, I almost felt like complaining over the amount of Trailers before the movie (now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Trailers, but there were more Trailers before this movie than there are in E!'s Coming Attractions show!) Everyone raved about this movie. It was spectacular on the big screen (I would consider this a MUST SEE on the big screen), but I'd give it 3 stars, not 4. It ran 139 minutes and - to me - it felt it. Now, don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful movie to see, but I just wasn't "sucked-in". Don't know why. Wonderful to watch, though. The ships, the sea, the storms, the battles, the details. Wow.
We went back to our house afterward. Caught a showing of Dinner for Five on IFC. B&B have never seen the show before and this was a good one to catch. They seemed to enjoy it (we always do, though sometimes there are people on that are not our favorites) and hopefully they'll catch it on a regular basis. Carol made a dinner of orzo and shrimp with a salad and garlic bread. We talked about everything as we always do. Then we tried to find something to watch on TV for the night and it was slim pickings. We wound up watching Don't Say a Word, which Carol & I have never seen before. A much better movie than the advertising pitched.
It's great having friends over for dinner and movies...
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Dinner and a DVD
Went over to B&B's tonight. We haven't seen them in over a month and we just needed to get together! We talked for hours, had drinks, snacks, dinner (steaks!) and they picked-up the DVD of Bend It Like Beckham . Not only a good movie, especially for such a "small" movie, but I've fallen madly in lust with Parminder Nagra! That face, those eyes, that hair... (why oh why did she cut it for ER????) We discussed her at length about how gorgeous she looked. Anyway, a much better movie than I had expected. Oh, and then... tiramisu for dessert!!!
Sunday, October 05, 2003
Weekend with The Away Team
It was that time of year again - time to get away and spend a weekend with the guys, just like last year. Time for the 230 mile trek up to Dutch Hollow Lake in LaValle, Wisconsin.
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It's nice that we've hung out together for all of these years. I was the first to leave the company back in 1998, but the team that we had at that company was solid, and our friendships seemed to have lasted all this time.
I haven't been sleeping well, and this trip didn't help matters. Both nights I was up in the middle of the night, on the deck outside, just looking up at the stars (even trying to take pictures of them with my digital camera). We watched TV (Cubs, you know), went out driving around the place and int town, took the boat out for a spin around the lake, checked out the Harvest Fest at the clubhouse. Oh, and we ate and drank.
We were away from the city, away from the spouses and just... away. Sometimes, even when you're unemployed, you have to decompress. I love these guys. We need to do this a little earlier next year (this was already earlier than last year) so that we have more sunlight, more boat time - probably do some fishing...
This was a nice time.
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Saturday, September 27, 2003
Dinner with our bestest buds
Barry & Buffy drove out to our house tonight for dinner and just talk. We haven't seen them in quite a while. They just got back from Las Vegas and we had to year about the trip and what's new in our favorite city. I, of course, had to tell them that if they'd looked up in the sky at about 8:20 in the morning on Thursday, they would have seen me on my way to Los Angeles. We talked all evening. We missed them a lot. We'll see them again on Thursday when we go to see Eddie Izzard, and Barry & I will be together this weekend as we go up to Wisconsin for a guys weekend.
I did, however, have to endure ever so politely watching the Cubs clinch the National League Central Division Championship. My boys are out of it and here was my arch enemy making it into the post season. Well, good job boys. I've got this really weird feeling that they could actually get through the NLDS. I'm not sure if I can handle this. Die Hard Cub Fans have a tendency to be a bit mean and pompous when it comes to their team's superiority. It's going to be a long off-season...
Saturday, August 16, 2003
Ribs & Sausage
Drove into the city to hang out with Barry & Buffy tonight, as well as Debbie who stopped by. We don't see each other as often as we would like. In fact, we haven't been together since Orlando in mid-June. On the way in on the Kennedy as well as Addison we could see the Thunderbirds performing over the lake for the Chicago Air & Water show. I love the military jet teams. It's just hard to watch them and drive on an expressway or on city streets at the same time. We love B&B (well, and Deb, too. A "good egg" as some would say). But B&B always goes out and "entertains" us with food when we're over. Lots of snacks, drinks (fresh mojitos (YUM!)) and then Barry grilled-up some ribs and some italian sausages for dinner, along with some corn on the cob and salad and a fruit torte for dessert. Love the food. Love them. Neither B nor B are Reality TV fans, but I think we got them hooked on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy". Bravo ran a bunch of them back to back tonight, so we were able to get them to sit down and watch the episode with Andrew, a cameraman for the show. After that, we watched "Sweet Home Alabama" on Starz and then it was time to venture home.
I miss the three of them.
Thursday, July 31, 2003
Penalty Box Police baseball
Tonight, Carol & I went to the Schaumburg Flyers game with a whole bunch of "Penalty Box Police" friends from the Chicago Wolves games. We did this last year and had a good time.
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It's not Minor League baseball - the Flyers are in the independent Northern League. Just like last year, the Flyers played the Joliet Jackhammers again. The game started slow - 3 innings in an hour. We were on the first base side and we could see lightning out in the distance to the north all during the game. Finally, in the 6th, it started to rain. You know that I just don't leave games, but tonight we did. I just wasn't into it. I was listening to the Sox-Royals game on the radio (I brought a color LCD TV with and watched a few innings, but with it being on a UHF station (26) and being far from downtown, the signal wasn't the greatest), and couldn't handle some of the bad fielding, pitching, running and hitting that I saw. I didn't feel too bad leaving early - we'll be here again in two weeks for Carol's company outing. We left when the Flyers were ahead 5-3. They went on to win 8-3.
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Saturday, July 12, 2003
Annual Chicken Burn
It was time for the annual "Chicken Burn" at our friend's Janie & Gary's place. This year, however, wouldn't be chicken, it was a great marinaded pork hunk-o-meat, and there wasn't any burning. We sat out on their deck for hours, and never really got bothered by mosquitoes - only gnats that we got rid of by burning these tiki-torch candle things (that were probably made of citronella). So we sat outside, talked baseball, jobs, cars (Gary is leasing a new Volvo S60 this week). Learned an interesting grilling technique for corn - wrap the ear with a quality piece of thick bacon (yum). Janie made Key Lime pie for dessert (double yum!) that had lime zest on the top of it. Wonderful! IO like being able to sit around and just talk and drink. Of course, later we turned-on a radio and listened to our beloved Sox lose another one... This was a long day, and there's a few long days ahead of us.
Saturday, March 08, 2003
Friends and movies
Barry & Buffy came over this afternoon and we finally got out to see a movie. We went over to the AMC South Barrington 30 and caught the 4:30 showing of Daredevil. Good movie. I don't know why I can't call it a great movie - I think it has to do with the Daredevil vs Kingpin scene. I'm not satisfied on how that played-out. Good action, though. The temperature outside must have dropped at least 20 degrees. The driveway was slick from the rain turning into ice, so getting into and out of the car was a bit daunting. Back at the house, Carol cooked-up a great dinner of beef tenderloin with tarragon butter, the scallops that she made for me last month, new potatoes in olive oil, garlic and onions, and a nice salad. To top it off, she actually baked a gingerbread cake. (She's more of a ersatz chef, not a baker, but this turned out pretty well.) After dinner, we did a DirecTV Pay-Per-View of a movie that we hadn't seen - Signs. OK, now that was a great movie. The surprising thing to us was the use of humor in telling the story. I think I would have liked to have seen it in the theaters. Anyway, it was nice having B&B out to the house.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
A new Michael!
Oh! I forgot! My former coworker Peggy had a baby! (You remember Peg - I've got some pictures of her and the family at Comiskey Park last year on Elvis night and the year before.) She and Rob and daughter Madison welcomed little Michael Jacob on the 12th. Congrats, Peg! Great name!!!
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Wolves 4 - Aeros 5 - Overtime
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Nothing to really say about the game tonight. Hardly anybody was there (probably because a) it's a weeknight and b) it's friggin' cold outside). There's no way there were 3,994 people there. Wolves were up 2-1 and let the Aeros back in the game, losing in overtime. Blech.
On a somewhat unrelated note, Chelby & Damian finally came to a game tonight - they hadn't been there since mid-December, and it's their first game since Edwin, Chelby's dad, died of cancer last week Wednesday (just weeks after diagnosis). It was surprising and sudden and the family his having a tough time handling the loss. They only stayed 2 periods, but it got them "out and about", and hopefully they enjoyed some time watching the game that they love. Too bad it was a bad game...
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Sunday, December 29, 2002
Carol and I wanted meat. Barry & Buffy wanted meat. It was time to do something about it.
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We drove into the city to pickup B&B. First stop - breakfast at the Salt & Pepper Diner on Clark Street, in the shadow of Wrigley Field. Filled up with omelettes, bacon and coffee, and then it was time to hit the road. We drove all the way from Chicago through Indiana to Sawyer, Michigan to hit our favorite place for meat - Falatic's Meat Market. We've been there before - it's not far from my sister Diane's house in Sawyer. We think this is a quality place. For us, it may be an hour and a half ride, but it's worth it. It really all started because we needed filets for the New Year's Eve party at B&B's, and, well, we all just wanted meat. So, combined, we must have been there for half an hour and spent just shy of $400 on beef, veal, chicken, lamb, and sausages. The owner (Ron) is just really a nice guy. They even helped us out to the car (it was a lot of meat). Then after a quick stop at the Truck Stop in Sawyer for a potty break, we drive all the way back to the city, but to Costco over by Damen and Clybourn. We've stopped for lobster tails (about 9-10 oz) to go with the filets for the dinner. Of course, there were a few other things to pickup for B&B (like brie for the party and other things). Then it's off to Binny´s Ivanhoe Castle on Clark for wine (the champagne has already been taken care of) and some paté. Finally, it's back to B&B's. But we're not finished. We brought with our FoodSaver, so now it's time to vaccu-seal all of the meat we bought today. B&B's freezer is now full of meat. Carol didn't bring enough of the plastic material to make enough bags for everything that was bought, so we brought home our chicken to seal it at home. Long day, but damn it - we got our meat!
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Saturday, December 14, 2002
Dinner with friends
Just got back from Magnum's in Rolling Meadows where we had our holiday get-together with Barry, Buffy, and Debbie. We love this place. We were there last year and back again in May. We even had our favorite waitress, Char (who, if you ever go there, you must ask for her - you won't be disappointed). Food was as great as ever. I had the same sea scallops wrapped in bacon for an appetizer, but for dinner I had a horseradish encrusted New York Strip that was wonderful. The night was too damn short - we hadn't seen Debbie since Labor Day weekend, and Carol hadn't seen Buffy since our Museum Campus day.
Sunday, December 01, 2002
We just got back from our second Thanksgiving dinner - this time at our friends Chelby & Damian. Chelby's parents are in Mexico a this time of year - until May, so she's without family and needs to extend a tradition to her important second family, which we are blessed to be part of. It was a nice dinner again (Carol made the stuffing, which seems to be in high demand - Me, well, I'm official turkey carver!) We tried watching the Bears-Packers game on TV, but it was just too painful.
Monday, November 11, 2002
A dog in the night
We got to John's house at around 9 o'clock on Friday. I had never been up there before. John had to scurry around the house to get it up and running - heat, water, etc. He called me out to the back deck.
It was dark and cold. But once my eyes corrected, I saw the sky was full of stars. THere was no light pollution - we were a long way from any large city or town. It was perfectly quiet, except for a dog barking somewhere in the darkness, across the lake. There wasn't a single other sound to be heard. The amount of low magnitude stars was so amazing, it was almost confusing. You get used to seeing constellations out in the suburbs - you see the primary stars in the constellation an nothing else. Out here, there's so many stars, it's hard to really see the constellations.
We're on the deck for 10 minutes. The dog, in the meantime, has been continually barking. I turn to John:
Me: "Isn't there anybody over there to shut the dog up?"
John: "They shot the dog!"
It got quiet across the lake. We're laughing because we can't believe what we thought we heard.
We never heard the dog the rest of the weekend. We have no idea what happened.
Sunday, November 10, 2002
The Away Team
I had a nice time this weekend. I was part of The Away Team - the group of coworkers that go up to John's house in La Valle Wisconsin to spend the weekend. They've been doing this since we worked together, about five years ago. It's been an annual trip, and, even though I had been invited, I've never gone (scheduling conflicts). Well, this year, we worked around the schedule. In fact, we had to reschedule for November, just to make sure we all got up there together. It was worth it. We were about 230 miles away, 4 miles outside of a town with a population of only 446. I lost cell phone connectivity 15 minutes before we hit town. It was a typical guys weekend - sat around, ate beef jerky, drank beer, watched TV, smoked cigars, talked about fishing (it was too late in the year and instead of being out on the lake in boats, we were putting away boats for the season). Fortunately, the weather was around 60° so it was enjoyable to be out on the deck, day or night. We didn't cook - we ate at the local establishments which were... interesting. Had some great prime rib on Saturday night. All in all, a good time. I miss these guys and it was so weird being together again. I can't wait for the next visit. Really. I want to sit out in a boat and fish. I want to sit on that back deck and drink and just watch the birds at the many bird feeders that John has. I want to sit around and just talk - about the old days, about what's going on in the world. I just want to be one of the guys. Like it used to be.
Monday, October 21, 2002
Out to lunch
Had lunch today with my bud Barry. He and Buffy are going to Playa del Carmen in Mexico (actually south of it) this weekend for 5 nights at Gala Resort Playacar, an all inclusive. Sounds like a great time. Had a nice time talking over lunch - wonder what the fortune from my fortune cookie means???
Friday, September 20, 2002
Museums, Fish, Pearls, Fish
Well, the big vacation really isn't over. We drove back into the city to pick up Barry & Buffy to go to the Museum Campus. First stop - Shedd Aquarium. We hadn't been there since the Ocenarium opened. We caught one of the Dolphin Shows. Had lunch at the Bubble Net Food Court (which was actually good food for a food court). Watched the feeding at the Caribbean Coral Reef (where the rays really cool because they didn't have any tails - "some (unnamed) fish ate them off!!!" Then it was a walk over to the Field Museum to take in the special exhibits of Chocolate and Pearls. Alas, the girls couldn't get through the Pearls exhibit without buying some! The museum was closing-up, so it was off to dinner. We were going up on Lake Shore drive, when my passenger-side front tire blew out. We made it over to an emergency area and the pit crew changed the tire in about 7 minutes. Then it was off to Clark Street and Atlantique for dinner. THIS PLACE HAS MY HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION! GO. NOW. EAT. ENJOY. Service was impeccable. The food and presentation were phenomenal. Pricey - $200 for the four of us with appetizers, wine, and dessert. Worth every penny.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
Sleepy drive home
Last day in Michigan. Woke up and packed to get on the road early (do you belive Carol has to go to work today?). Drove to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. and then drove home - got to our house around 11:15am. Carol went to work and I crashed hard on the couch, with Indy wanting to lay next to me (she missed us!).
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Gambling, shopping, snoozing and eating
This morning, we made breakfast. Buffy wound up doing the eggs (good omelette). Eventually we got ready and went to Falatic's Meat Market. Spent over $100 on meat (though Barry & Buffy spent about $42 and looks like the have more meat than we do). The quality of meat at this place is wonderful. We dashed back to my sister's and put the meat in the fridge for later. Then, it was off down Red Arrow Highway, to Michigan City, Indiana. First stop - the Blue Chip Casino. Buffy put a $20 in a $1 Read White and Blue Wheel of Fortune and won $300. She cashed out. The rest of us did diddly. The boat is OK, but I think we got spoiled by going to the MGM Grand in Detroit. Next stop - Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets mall where much walking and shopping ensued. Getting tired, so drove all the way up to Stevensville to go to Cracker Barrel for lunch. Went back to D&W's to buy Brie and bread for dinner tonight. Crashed back at my sister's. I decided to drive up to St. Joseph to go to Best Buy to buy Monsters, Inc. on DVD for tonight's entertainment. On the way back, stopped at A&W on Red Arrow Highway to get a half gallon of root beer. When I got back, everyone was vaccu-sealing their meat that was bought this morning (we brought our FoodSaver with us to vaccu-seal the meat). Barry cooked pork chops and steaks (that we got at the butcher this morning). Watched last season's finale of the West Wing and then Monsters, Inc., and off to bed.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Henry Ford Museum and drive to Harbor Country
Checked out of the hotel this morning. Has breakfast at a Big Boy's down the street. Had to stop at CVS again to get Barry some different meds (he sounds terrible), the off to the Henry Ford Museum. Somehow, even though the museum is significantly smaller than Greenfield Village, it's a harder day. We're walking on wooden floors, and never changing texture, so our legs and feet are killing us. After the museum, a quick refreshment in the Michigan Cafe, then into the car to get some gas, and then we streak westward across the state back to my sister's house. We make the trip, including a stop, in about three hours. We can't go to the restaurant that we wanted to for dinner tonight because we have started the winter season in Harbor Country and many places aren't open all week. We decide, instead, to celebrate our anniversary at Schulers Restaurant in Stevensville. Great food and a great looking place inside - sort of prairie style. It was back to my sister's to crash. We watched ABC tonight (Diane's TV can just barely pull-in WLS-7 from Chicago). We watched 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter (eh), Life with Bonnie (enjoyed and will probably watch the season) and Push, Nevada (got sucked into and need to watch more). Then we just crashed and went to bed.
A very good night's sleep. On the agenda for today - check out of the hotel, spend the day at the Henry Ford Museum, drive back across the state to my sisters' place, and out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary (hey, I guess I never mentioned that this past Sunday was our 23rd Wedding Anniversary?)
Monday, September 16, 2002
Back at the hotel from the MGM Grand Casino. The buffet had a nice, wide selection of items, but - WORST. PRIME-RIB. EVER. Dry. Over-cooked. The meat shredded like in a pot roast. Blech. Put a $20 bill in a quarter Five Times Pay Wheel of Fortune slot and walked away with $100. The casino is much bigger than I anticipated. Wasn't crazy about the look of the clientele. Barry sounds really bad. Hopefully the drugs we got him at CVS this afternoon will help.
Back at the hotel. Breakfast at IHOP (oh, what a THRILL that was. *gack*) Spent all day at Greenfield Village. Had lunch at the Eagle Tavern. Took in the Space Station IMAX movie in 3-D. Wow. WOW. WOW! Breathtaking. Absoloutely. Breathtaking. Must see. Anyway, back at the hotel. Barry is coming down with something. He's been hacking-up a lung for the past hour or so. Think we'll try the buffet at the MGM Grand Casino tonight.
Not as bad as I had thought...
Well, the beds at the Quality Inn were better than I thought they would be. Got a good night's sleep after the champagne and The Sopranos. Looks like it'll be a good season - Tony's life should become unglued, I think. Wonder how many guys will still be part of "The Family" at the end of the season?
Off to breakfast and Greenfield Village.
Sunday, September 15, 2002
Well, we went down the street to a BD's Mongolian Barbeque - a chain that we don't have around Chicago. Nice vibe, great service, good selections of meat and seafood. Would do it again. Back at the hotel now, waiting for The Sopranos to start...
Well, here we are in Dearborn, Michigan. The drive was a breeze. We stopped in Sawyer to get some groceries for Wednesday, stopped at the Swedish Bakery in Harbert for snacks, then drove to my sister's house. All of us had lunch at Horsefeathers, then back to Diane's for a Pit Stop. Back on the road to D&W's to get some champagne & brie for tonight, and then on the road. Took us less than 3 hours to get here. We're going cheap - a Quality Inn. Clean, nice, and has HBO for The Sopranos season premiere tonight. Now, it's time to figure out dinner...
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Just got a call from Damian - Chelby's husband. She made it through 6 hours of surgery, but the bones didn't break they way they wanted to, so Chelby now has a titanium plate in her jaw - permanently. She was going to have her jaw wired shut for over a week and then some kind of rubber-band contraption for 3-4 weeks afterward. Now, with the plate - she's going to be wired-shut for six weeks. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch...
Well, our friend Chelby is in for surgery this morning at the hospital that I've known a bit too well over the past year - Loyola. She is having her jaw broken and reset into a different position. She's been wearing braces for about a year now, and this is just another step to re-align her teeth and jaw. She's going to be wired-shut for a while. I don't know how I'd be able to tolerate that. Hopefully she'll get through the surgery fine and this whole process works for her. Ouch.
Saturday, September 07, 2002
White Sox 2 - Indians 4 (Oh, and Gracie, Greeks and B&B)
Time to pack-up Gracie. She looked a bit confused this morning, almost like she knew something was up but couldn't figure out what it is. But, then again, I think that Gracie's just not wired right. We got her packed up in the car and she just wouldn't settle down. She also didn't seem to recognize the neighborhood around my parents house. Odd. We got there and as soon as we walk into their house, she went nuts. Chelsea and her started wrestling as soon as they saw each other, like they missed it other. We couldn't stay long, since it's a baseball day and Fox has the coverage, so it's an early start.
At Comiskey, it's time to play the Cleveland Indians again. Seems like we just saw them, but that was back at the beginning of July. I mentioned back then how I didn't like their fans, but they didn't show up to cheer their team. This time, nobody showed up to cheer either team. The place was empty - 16,622 paid. It was hot and humid. We had to drink lots of fluids to stay on top of things. The shade didn't get to us until 2 o'clock, which is at least earlier than in June/July when it's 3 o'clock. Anyway, Carlos Lee had a home run, but that was it for the team - Sox lose 4-2. Sad. Jon Garland didn't look too good, not like the complete game shutout I saw him pitch a few weeks ago.
After the game, we went up Lake Shore Drive to Wrigleyville. I'm not getting used to seeing the construction at Soldier Field. It just doesn't look right. The seating "bowl" is huge. It looks pretty damn awkward, sort of out of place. Anyway, we went to pickup our buddy Barry. We met Buffy up in Evanston to go to the Evanston Century 12 to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding. What an absolute fun flick! A Must see! The other cool thing is that it was only made for about $5 Million, and it was the 2nd highest grossing film this weekend! I didn't know it was filmed in Chicago.
After the movie, we went to the Davis Street Fishmarket. OK, this was a delight (I'm starting to sound like James Lipton...). I really loved this place. Loved the service, loved the food. Our girls got roses on the way in (have no idea why). Need to go back again. Highly recommended. Between the movie and dinner, it was a great evening. When we got home and picked-up the mail, we noticed we got out check from White Sox Charities! Thank ou again, Elvis! Except for the Sox losing, it really was a great day.
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Happy Birthday to my buddy, Barry, and to my sister Diane - who is going fly fishing today in Big Sky, Montana!
Sunday, September 01, 2002
Saturday, August 24, 2002
Bobbing in the pool
A long day, but a good day. We left at 10am to drive into the city. We picked-up our buds Barry & Buffy, and then it was off to Michigan to my sister Diane's house. It looked pretty crummy when the day started, but by the time we got up there the sun was out and was gorgeous. Melinda ran to the butcher and picked up some fresh hot dogs and chicken brats for lunch. Wow. We're going up to Michigan next month for a couple of days and we're going to be bringing coolers and our vacu-sealer and hit the butcher before we leave so we can smuggle some quality meat back to Illinois. Diane's birthday is coming up next week, but she and Melinda will be driving out to Yellowstone and back for a cool road trip, so we brought out birthday gift over early - a Remote Control Shark for the pool! Lots of batteries, though - 4 AA's, a 9 volt for the receiver in the shark, and a 9 volt for the tranmitter (which floats!). And the AA's don't last too long. But the shark was way cool. We played with it all afternoon. For dinner, we drove down Red Arrow Highway into Union Pier to go to Miller's Country House. Very good food - in fact, way better than I had expected. There's something that does defy description, though... the room we were in had large windows that overlooked a garden and woods. During dinner, we looked up, and there was a tree moving in the garden. I mean, moving - like walking across the lawn. Sort of like a performance art piece. Odd. Strange. Weird. After dinner, back to Diane's to pick up our things and then the long drive home, which was traffic-free but with patches of fog. I love going up there.
Friday, August 23, 2002
Thank you. Thank you very much...
THANK YOU ELVIS!!!!!
We were back at Comiskey Park tonight for what is always the strangest promotion night of the year- Elvis Night. Tons of Elvis impersonators - both professional and wanna be. There were three stages outside the park with impersonators performing. At least 5% of the people appear to be wearing Elvis-style sunglasses - with fake sideburns. Before the game, The E-Team - The Elvises of the Sky flew in the American Flag. (I was bummed - the weather was pretty weird and they couldn't jump after the game. They wear electric lighted jumpsuits, just like the Flying Elvises in the movie Honeymoon in Vegas.) The National Anthem was sung by impersonator Rick Saucedo. The only reason that I bring that up is a bit convoluted and "off topic" - over 20 years ago, we went to see a magician (who was a relation to our friend Teri) who was opening for Rick Saucedo. Teri brought her friend Kathy, and we went with my long-time friend Rick. They sort of "hooked-up" that night, got married, had 4 kids, and are still together. And to top it off, Kathy stumbled onto my website this past week (Hi, Kathy!). I'm going to have to find an old picture of us to put with this entry...
Anyway, during the game, there's Elvis trivia on the scoreboard. Some people perform in between some of the innings from on top of the dugouts.
The last time I saw my friend Peggy was two years ago, At Comiskey, on Elvis Night. Tonight, she was back with her husband Rob and daughter Maddie. It was absolutely great seeing them again. I knew they were at the game and went to visit them out in the bleachers. We sat around and talked and ate for an inning or so. Then they came over and visited us (our seats were along the third base side, pretty far down the line).
The weather is oppressive - it's not hot, it's in the low 70's, but the humidity is 94% and there's barely a wind. If feels stifling.
After the game, the Steppin' Out Dads do a little routine, then Shawn Klush ( a good impersonator) does a concert behind home plate. The E-Team was supposed to do their jump but FAA regs wouldn't let them. The night end with fireworks sponsored by Miller Lite.
Now, let's flash back a few innings... the White Sox have a charity raffle called Sox Split during the weekend games. Basically, you buy a ticket. The winner gets half the pot with the other half going to White Sox Charities. We actually won $804 back on June 28, 1998. Carol and I are both gamblers, so we always buy Split tickets when we go to the game. You never know.
Guess what? Yep, WE WON AGAIN. WE WON $3,585 !!!!! Thank you White Sox! Thank you Elvis!
Oh, the game? Sox lost 8-2. Against Tampa Bay. Against Tanyon Sturtze, who was 2-13 before the game and wound up pitching a complete game! We suck. One cool thing - Joe Crede hit the 1,000 home run by a White Sox player in new Comiskey Park (Frank Thomas was the first against Baltimore on April 22, 1991).
Sunday, August 18, 2002
Chihuly in the Park
Hmmm... Had a nice day, but feeling a bit funky right now... Carol and I drove into the city today to go see our buds Barry & Buffy. Why was it a mess? Well, they do live in the Wrigleyville area and it was less than an hour until gametime, and on top of that was the Chicago Air & Water show. When we were still on the Northwest Tollway, a C5-a Galaxy took off from O'Hare to go and fly in the show. It's the largest military aircraft that we have. Cool. Then, when going down Addison, we saw the F-117 Stealth Fighter. Even cooler. So, when we finally finished our struggle to get to B&B's house, we picked them up and headed to the Garfield Park Conservatory to see the Chihuly in the Park: A Garden of Glass exhibit by Dale Chihuly. I had gone to see it back in June with my Mom & sister, and I thought that Carol and B&B would enjoy it. It was a glorious day outside, and we had a great time at the exhibit. We got there at the right time, though (about 1:30) - when we came out about and hour and a half later, the line to get in wrapped around the building!
We drove back to B&B's house - fortunately I was able to use their garage for parking, as the game was still going on and there wasn't a parking spot to be had anywhere near their house. My sister Diane called while we were there watching baseball on TV. She was driving back from Michigan and was passing the Gary airport when the Blue Angels took off from the airport and buzzed her car! Sure enough, within 10-15 minutes, we can hear them in the show at the lakefront. We went out on the front porch for a while and talked, and watched the planes buzz the neighborhood. Even cooler yet.
The four of us left and walked up Southport to go to dinner at Tango Sur - an Argentinean steak house. Debbie met us for dinner. It was another great time at dinner (there's no doubt about it - the 5 of us really enjoy food).
We were on the road back home at around 7 o'clock. That's when I was starting to feel funky. I need to go to bed...
Saturday, August 10, 2002
White Sox 3 - Mariners 7
Back at Comiskey again. I hate Fox games - they start earlier and the breaks in between innings for commercials just makes for a long day. The Ichiro bandwagon rolled into town, and the place with crowded, mostly with his fans, not only Japanese-American but Japanese-Japanese! He has a very large and loyal following, and it's very interesting to watch. I've bitched and moaned about other team's fans coming to the park and being arrogant. these fans are nothing like that. Polite but boisterous. You can't help but be respectful of that. It's always something to see. Last year was the first time we witnessed this - and it was just so interesting. It was amazing how many people had come to the park with bento boxes and coolers, eating sushi (which is just something you don't see around Comiskey). It was a night game last year and there were many more Japanese-lettered signed than this year.
Anyway, the game was great... for 6 innings. Jon Garland was fine, with a 3-0 lead in the seventh and then he was left in just a little too long. We wound up losing 7-3. Frank Thomas, as usual, did nothing for us, going 0-4. He can't do anything in a clutch. I'm not happy with him.
After the game, we went over to Janie & Gary's for the annual "Chicken Burn" - the title refers to what Gary does to the food on the grill. It's usually the group of people that sit around us at the game, but due to conflicts, it was just the four of us. Gary didn't burn the chicken, and it was a very nice night, just sitting around and talking.
Saturday, July 27, 2002
Carol's 70th (not that Carol)
This morning, we went to a 70th birthday party of our "Penalty Box Police" buddy, Carol. It was held at a banquet hall in Des Plaines, and the bar opened at 11 am. We didn't know what to expect, but we hooked-up with some of our other Chicago Wolves buddies and we had a great time. Carol asked that, in lieu of presents, to bring donations for Toys for Tots. By the time everybody showed-up, there was a mound of toys, including 2 bikes. The lunch was good, and afterward, Carol's son entertained with music and singing. Actually, it was weird because he was singing a bunch of songs from the 60's and 70's and I knew the lyrics to every single song. It's amazing that the human brain can store that crap for such a long period of time only to be able to spew it out accurately decades later. After the entrainment, Carol & I had to make tracks out of there to go home, change, and get on the road to Comiskey.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
Temp Bach planning
Had lunch with Barry again today at the Chinese buffet place near his office. Carol is going up to my sister Diane's house up in Michigan next week, and I'll be a bachelor Thursday-Friday-Saturday nights, and Barry & I need to figure out if there's something we can do during that time. Got a good fortune in my fortune cookie, though!
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Penalty Box Police baseball
Saturday, July 20, 2002
Sunday, July 14, 2002
Carol and I get up early, drive to Riverside to pickup Janie & Gary, and then it's off to Midway Airport, where we meet Jeff and we're on our way to Detroit. I've never flown on Southwest before, and getting an "A" boarding pass, I'm told, is good, but it doesn't matter - plane is empty. The flight is really short - just barely enough time for the complimentary juice & coffee service. The Detroit airport (DTW) is... well, let's just say, now that Midway has started it's remodeling, this airport is the pits. We get on the Hertz shuttle to get our Crown Vic and drive into the city.
Finding Comerica Park was actually a bit difficult - you can't see it from a distance. Heck, you can't see it a block or two away. It's tucked into a small area downtown. We got to the park pretty early - somehow we lost sight of the fact that the game started at 2:05 (we thought 1:05). So, we slowly walked around the outside of the park to see what it looked like.
We went in as soon as the gates opened, and proceeded to walk around the park. The food selection was a bit pitiful. It wasn't until later did I find the better food at "Big Cat Court", and that made things better, but within the normal stands it was a bit plain & boring (though I had a Kielbasa that was very tasty).
Our seats were 28 rows behind the plate - great view, but in the sun all through the game. This caused a major problem for Carol, who got what seems to be minor heatstroke even before the game started. She had to sit in a different area in the shade and we had to help her out with wet towels, lots of water, and some ice cream to help her cool down. She was better by about the 4th inning, but we kept in the shade for the whole game.
The game itself was OK. It looked like the Sox were going to lose again, but Carlos Lee had two homeruns, and then Jose Valentin hit a triple in the eighth that scored two and then scored himself when the throw to third went wild (sort of an in-the-park homerun, but not really). Sox win 6-4.
After the game, we walked (!) over to Greektown to have dinner at Pegasus. Well, I wasn't hungry after being out there all day, so Jeff and I took a walk through the Greektown Casino while the others ate dinner. It was weird being in Detroit and being in a land-based casino. It was a nice place, two floors - larger than I thought it would be. Sunday afternoon, almost every single table game we saw were $10 tables. I think we saw one $15 table.
Back to the restaurant, the group finished up, and then it was off to the airport. This time we all got "B" boarding passes - not a good omen. Sure enough, the flight home was packed. We got in 10 minutes early, and had to wait 20 minutes for a gate. Then we drove Jeff home, drove Janie & Gary home, and finally drove home ourselves. A very long day. Would we do it again? You bet!
Saturday, July 06, 2002
White Sox 7 - Indians 3
What a gorgeous day! It never did rain. There were some clouds for a while, but it turned into something pretty nice. Back at Comiskey for a series against the Cleveland Indians. This used to be the one series we used to loathe to go to. When Jacobs Field opened in Cleveland, the games were always sold out. The Sox took out ads in the Cleveland papers to invite people who couldn't get tickets at "The Jake" to come to Comiskey. Well, it filled the place, but God it was awful to sit there with all these Cleveland fans, who just about out-numbered the Sox fans. those days are gone - The Jake is no longer sold out, Cleveland is not in the pennant race and is trading top players, and now Comiskey is not filled with their fans. What a nice day! Game time temperature - 81 degrees. Interesting confluence of promotions today - Kellogg's Kids Week and Extreme Day sponsored by Mountain Dew with rock climbing walls, mechanical bulls, bikes, skateboards... The game was good, too, a nice close give-and-take game (the kind I like). Sox won 7-3.
After the game, we drove up Lake Shore Drive to Barry & Buffy's (another glorious ride up the drive on a gorgeous day). We decided to do a movie and dinner, so we drove back up to Evanston, to the Evanston Century 12 to see The Bourne Identity. Wow. good flick. Great car chase... in a Cooper Mini!!! (I'd love to get one of those cars). After the movie, we walked over to Merle's Smokehouse for some barbecue. Hey, I was surprised - this was good food and we had great service as well. You know, even though I feel like I'm living in my car the last few days, I really enjoyed today.
Saturday, June 29, 2002
White Sox 5 - Cubs 4
Back to Comiskey Park for a weekend series that I always dread - Interleague play against the Chicago Cubs. The game was sold out months ago. It's gong to be hot. It's not going to be fun. I mean, let's face it, both Chicago baseball teams suck right now. Game time is 12:15 for Fox. The parking lot opened 4 hours before game time to accommodate all those tailgaters that can't tailgate at Wrigley since there are no parking lots up there (all the lots that exist are "private"). Gate opened 2 hours before, and that's when we got there. We were successful in avoiding traffic and crowds, but we get inside the park... and there's no batting practice. Great. Nice PR move. get everybody there early and bore them to death. Great. The park fills just before first pitch. It's hot, but fortunately cooler near the lake - 86° at game time (it's going to be hotter tomorrow). The sun is a scorcher. The bottle water vendors are plunging their hands into the ice water that they're carrying and shaking their hands over the crowd to help lure them to buy more water. It's like they're baptizing the fans. Somehow, during the course of the game, there's a healthy give-and-take on the field and even in the stands. The Cubs fans that are here are good, and the Sox fans are on their good behavior around us. It turns out being a great day. It turns out to be the second-highest attendance ever at New Comiskey - 45,942 (yesterday, the first game in the series, was the highest ever - 46,027). Sox Win 5-4. A good day.
After the game, it's off to Barry & Buffy's to have a nice barbecue with Debbie. We leave the park, head east to Lake Shore Drive and head north. What a gorgeous day at the lake. People - believe me when I say this - driving north on Lake Shore Drive today reminds me of how beautiful this town is and why I live here. The new "bowl" is starting to take shape above the south rim of Soldier Field. Buckingham fountain looks great, Grant Park is full of people thanks to Taste of Chicago. Tons of people jogging on the bicycle path or riding their bikes... WAIT!!! HEY!!!... THAT WAS DICK BUTKUS THAT JUST DROVE BY ON HIS BICYCLE!!! OK, This is a great Chicago day! Had a nice dinner with B&B and Debbie - Barry grilled-up some pork chops on the grill. It was a very long day, but it felt like a good day.
Wednesday, June 26, 2002
I've been spending my spare time making parasols. No really. Parasols. Well, not the whole parasol, just the frames. You see, our friends Chelby & Damian have decided to make parasols, mostly for the Renaissance Faire circuit. The have a shop that opens this weekend at the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Wisconsin, which runs weekends until August 25. They've started the business, Piccadilly Parasol Shoppe, with hopes of traveling around the country next year selling their wares. Well, I'm one of a few people trying to help them out by getting the parasol frames, or carcasses, or whatever you call them, assembled so that the fabrics and accessories can be sewn on them. Hey, they need the help. They want 1,000 made, and I'm only cranking out one every 20-30 minutes... when I don't make a mistake.
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Destructive bunnies, cool chimneys and road construction
I came downstairs this morning to an odd little "surprise". Our bunny Indy has been hanging around Carol's slippers lately. Well, apparently Indy has taken to a real liking of the slippers - she's chewed passed the terrycloth covering into the foam rubber. I'm sure carol is not too happy about this. Indy has been acting up lately. It's weird. Actually, she's weird. She's been very demanding of my time lately. She wants her "lovin's" - which is just a very long session of petting. Maybe all of her Live BunnyCam time is too much pressure for her.
Drove back to Galyan's at Streets of Woodfield this afternoon. We're going over to Barry & Buffy's on Saturday after the Sox-Cubs game for a little grilled... something (don't know what yet). Barry needs a new charcoal chimney and I saw them at Galyan's last week, so I picked up one for him and one for me, too. At $10.99 I thought they were a good buy.
The Higgins Road reconstruction is progressing. Last Tuesday they laid new concrete. I guess they're letting it cure before they do anything else. The thing that's bothering me is the installation of temporary traffic signals along Golf Road. According to the Hoffman Estates website, a PDF brochure about the construction says the Gold Road construction isn't until 2003. If that's the case, I'm not understanding the traffic lights.
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Chinese lunch fortune?
I had lunch with Barry today, back at the Chinese buffet near his office. It was actually a cheering-up lunch for me. Carol & I had come to the conclusion that we just can go on our annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas this year with Barry and Buffy. There is just no way, even if I got a job right now, to be able to do this. I'm bummed. No, really bummed about this. First, I love the town. Second, I love travelling together with B&B. Third, I just feel the need to getaway. Fourth, and most importantly, I feel like it's all my fault. We could go if I was working. But, after a year, it's not looking too good. Finances are bad. It's just not feasible. I feel like I let everyone down. Barry took me out to help make me feel better. And, to a certain extent, I do. We talked a bit about the job market. First, I haven't seen many job postings in my field this past year. Secondly, with the amount of people out there, recruiters are getting inundated with resumes, and I'm just getting lost in the pile. I don't have a chance, and I'm getting really depressed about this. So, it's a Chinese buffet, right? Out come the fortune cookies (with the bill, of course). I crack mine open and say "Good one. That's coming home with me."
It read "New and rewarding opportunities will soon develop for you."
I get home, and there are three (count them, three) voice mail messages from recruiters. I think I'm finally getting down through that stacks of resumes, and somebody is noticing. Well, it's a start. I am extremely pessimistic, so let's see how this all pans out.
Sunday, June 09, 2002
Party at Joe's
Saturday, June 08, 2002
White Sox 1 - Expos 2
Back to Comiskey Park. Tonight, Barry is with me - Carol was at my cousin Jane's surprise Bridal Shower this afternoon at Cog Hill. First thing we did was to go upstairs to the Stadium Club to watch the Belmont Stakes. It was 70-1 long shot Sarava the winner (a record $142.50 for a $2 bet) - War Emblem didn't get the Triple Crown, finishing 8th (but was in first for a while, after stumbling out of the gate).
Anyway, it's Interleague time again, or as Carol calls it - cross-pollination. The first inning starts good - 3 up/3 down. Then we're up. Kenny Lofton triples to right (Vladimir Guerrero dove to his left and didn't come up with the ball, and Kenny just kept chugging). Ray Durham sacrificed to deep right and scores Lofton. OK, Good start. Frank Thomas strikes out - nothing new. Magglio Ordonez singles to right, Jose Valentin singles to right, Carlos Lee walks. BASES LOADED, Jeff Liefer steps to the plate. What the hell is he doing in the game? Where's Paul Konerko? Must be a lefty-righty thing. Sure enough - strike out. That summarizes what the Sox have been doing for the last month. It looked like we would get to Tomo Ohka, but it never happened. Jon Garland looked pretty good - retiring the first 12 batters. Expos tied it in the 5th. Both teams struggle the rest of the game, trying to do anything. Keith Foulke come in to pitch the 9th. First pitch to Vladimir Guerrero - home run. Thank you, Keith Foulke. He's caused more pain than good for the Sox lately. Bottom of the 9th, Frank Thomas flies out then Magglio Ordonez walks on 4 pitches. OK, we have a baserunner. On the first pitch, Jose Valentin hits into a double play. It's over. Ordonez, again, made no attempt to break it up, like I said during the Yankee game.
Thursday, June 06, 2002
I received an EMail recently that just made me feel warm inside. A former coworker of mine has been reading my blog quite regularly. It was something I hadn't thought about, but she said "I feel like we are still working together and seeing each other everyday." I hadn't thought of a blog giving that kind of connection to people that you used to work with. Even though it's a bit one-way (even though there are options on each post to make a comment for feedback), it feels good to know that there's a connection. On top of it, since Barry is mentioned a bit in my blogging, she's vicariously keeping in touch with him as well. I really enjoyed my time working with Peggy. She's a great woman and a great worker. I've missed her dearly since my time at Brunswick. One of the last times I saw her was at Comiskey Park almost two years ago for Elvis Night. She had her daughter with her, so I snapped some pics. These are for you, Peg! Hope you keep reading.
Saturday, June 01, 2002
Jasmine and clones
We decided to spend the day with our buds, Barry & Buffy (or B&B as we sometimes to refer to them), taking in a movie and having some dinner. We dove into the city, into Wrigleyville to go and pick them up. When we called them from the car (we were just going to wait outside and have them come out), Buffy said to double park the car and come in. B&B's brand new granddaughter, Jasmine, was over for a visit. We had to go in and see her! She was beautiful - all sacked out taking a nap on B&B's bed. Of course, mom Kim was there, too, so we had to chat a bit. And, well, I had to take some pictures because she was just so damn cute! What a gorgeous little baby. Well, we had to get going, so Jasmine got "packed-up" and all six of us left - well, only four of us drove back up to the Evanston Century 12 again, this time to catch a matinee of Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones. I'm starting to like the theaters - good concessions, good seating (gotta love that Stadium Seating), and free parking (with validation). The movie was great. There's something about seeing those famous little words at the beginning of the movie, those same words that we saw 25 years ago. I think that you couldn't tell that the film was shot using digital video instead of film. The special effects were very good, and even though there were a ton on digital sets, they were well done. There seemed to be a lot of pieces that reminded me of other movies, like Blade Runner for the city/planet Coruscant, a little bit of Gladiator, and I thought that I saw a little Mr. Miyagi in Yoda at least once... There was a large group of pre-teen girls that were sitting in the row behind us, usually chatting throughout the movie. Fortunately, they were pretty quiet, but every once in a while you can hear what they were say. For instance, when Anakin would show a bit too much anger for a young padawan, I could hear one of the girls say "What is his problem?" And then there was the scene with Anakin and Padmé - wearing that black corseted dress - that was dimly lit in front of a fire. As soon as the scene started it was really quiet in the theater and then I heard from behind me this quiet "oh oh". Carol and I struggled from laughing out loud. After the movie we went to Sam's Club, so B&B can do some shopping. Then back to Wrigleyville (which was a bit of a mess since there was a 3:05 Cubs game), and then a brief walk down Southport to go to Red Tomato for dinner. On the way there, we passed a toy store with these cute ladybugs in the window. We had to stop, as Buff wanted to but one for Jasmine (it wound up having a chime ball inside of it - pretty cool). Dinner at Red Tomato was great. We all had to get the carpaccio for the appetizer - we had been thinking about it all day. Had a good meal - I had something that was actually called a "stir fry" which was beef and potatoes - it was very good. We walked back to B&B's and watched most of Jurassic Park III on cable, had some apple pie (from Sam's) and finally left about 9 o'clock. I don't know what it is, but I love having friends that we could just spend the day with and have a good time the whole time.
Saturday, May 25, 2002
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Lunch and planes
I went out to lunch with my bud, Barry. We went to a Chinese buffet and just sat around and talked for a while. Actually, we mostly talked about Barry doing a financial system upgrade at where he works. It was weird - I really enjoyed talking about it. It's the first time in almost a year where it felt good talking about typical corporate IT things. I know, it's petty, but it felt good! We'll be going over to their place on Saturday, hopefully to sit outside and barbecue something.
After lunch, since I had passed it to and from the buffet, I ducked into the Allstate Arena parking lot to watch some airplanes land at O'Hare. It's something I haven't done in a long, long time, and it's just one of those things that I enjoy. I wish I had my scanner with me.
First thing I noticed was the banner that's still on the building for the Chicago Wolves. It's a banner advertising that "The Playoffs Are Here". Well, they've been using the banner for a few years, and that's when I realized that, well, things have changed. The Wolves are now in the AHL, not the defunct IHL. The banner depicts the IHL Turner Cup, not the AHL Calder Cup. I guess they didn't want to spend the money, and/or they didn't think they'd be in the finals. I watched a couple of arrivals. I wanted to get a picture or two to show you how close the aircraft come over the top of the building.
I drove around the airport some more, watching the air traffic. I just love watching the planes. I don't know why. I've done it since I was a kid. O'Hare has a great diversity of aircraft and airlines, so it's always interesting watching the traffic. Then I remembered this store that's in the O'Hare Hilton that I love and haven't been to in a few years. I was looking for a model airplane to add to my collection - a National 757-200 - Our Favorite Airline to Las Vegas™. So I went to the airport, parked in the garage, and took the elevator down to the underground terminal level. The ORD Chicago Store is on this level, underneath the Hilton, near Elevator Center 4. I browsed around a bit, looking at all the aircraft. The last time I was here, National wasn't flying to O'Hare and they didn't have the model. Now they did, so I paid for it, walked around a bit more, and went back to the car and went home, where I promptly put it together and added it to my collection.
This was a weird afternoon. I was doing stuff as if I was decades younger, and I felt good.
Saturday, May 11, 2002
Steak and Friends
Wednesday, May 01, 2002
Wolves 3 - Crunch 1
Back at the Allstate Arena tonight for the fourth game of the AHL Western Conference Semifinals. It's not a good omen when, in front of your own net, your own player who is charging the net to help out on defense winds up actually scoring a goal for the opposing team before he gets buried into the net (thank you Mike Weaver). However, the rest of the game was very good. Very strong play and we finally figured out one thing - to score on Jean-Francois Labbe you have to go top shelf. The Wolves beat Syracuse 3-1. Pasi Nurminen has been very, very, very good in net. Oh, another thing - Syracuse doesn't like to lose. They seem to be a bunch of sore losers, so Friday's game should be interesting.
A note: watching the matrix boards during the game for announcements has been interesting, but two items caught my attention tonight: Happy 30th Birthday Petey. Clearly, if you're 30, I think it's time to stop everyone from calling you Petey. And then you have to wonder what this person is like: Happy 34th Birthday Demonella.
On a totally different note note related to hockey or birthdays, we heard from Barry late this afternoon. He's back home from the hospital. He went through 6 bags of IV antibiotics and he says the swelling has definitely gone down, and that the throbbing pain has also subsided a bit. He's in that "uncomfortable" feeling zone right now. We hope he recovers well.
Blogging, Barry, and Bucks
Got to bed late after franticly switching the blog away from Blog*Spot on onto my own website. I was on a roll, and had the adrenaline pumpin' and just couldn't let it go, so I just went through it and got it up and running here. To those of you just finding me again, welcome! And, oh BTW, I didn't plan to be part of the May 1st Reboot, but it looks like did (but let's be honest - I ain't no designer, and the site is just a personal website, so no biggie, right?)
Been trying to find out out my buddy Barry. He called me yesterday morning to let me know he was going into the hospital for "intravenous antibiotic therapy". Huh? Well, it turns out that his right hand has swollen-up (really bad) from what is being speculated as a spider bite. He had it lanced and packed (Ew and OOUUCCHH!!!!) and his hand is more swollen now, so off to attack the infection. We haven't heard back from him or his wife (Buffy), so we're a bit concerned. Left voicemail - hopefully we'll hear what's going on.
Made my bi-weekly call to IDES (the Illinois Department of (Un)Employment Security) and the automated guy didn't tell me when my next call date is. This probably means that my unemployment benefits have officially run out.
Saturday, April 13, 2002
White Sox 4 - Orioles 3
Tuesday, April 02, 2002
B&B back from LV
Our friends Barry & Buffy went to Las Vegas last Saturday. The four of us have gone together 6 times. This is the first time they've been there on their own (we just couldn't go - the money situation, you know). They were coming home tonight, so both Carol & I thought it'd be fun to meet them at the airport and surprise them, and then drive them back home - that way, we were still "part" of their trip. Their flight was well over an hour late (they said it was "ground delayed" in Las Vegas due to weather in Chicago - weather? what weather?) Anyway, we waited outside the security area in Terminal 2 at O'Hare. Carol made a little cardboard sign with their last name on it, just like all those people meeting co-workers - or fares - at the airport. Well, let's just say the surprise worked, and they were ecstatic to see us. They seem to have an OK time. They stayed at Harrah's (the four of us never stayed there before) and seemed pleased. It was 90° in Vegas today - about 20 degrees above normal. They said that Easter weekend was mobbed. They ate somewhere new - Postrio at The Venetian. Sounds like we'll have to go again when we're all together again, perhaps in September again. Well, it turns out that Barry drove to the airport, so we couldn't drive them home. We'll be seeing them again - after the White Sox game on the 13th.
Saturday, March 30, 2002
Lasagna and Wolves
Went to Chelby & Damian's tonight for dinner and, of course, watch the Wolves game on CLTV. Good dinner - lasagna. I love Italian food. Good lasagna. Later, during the game - a root beer float. Oh, yummmmmmmmmmmm... Of course, I had lost a few pounds just before going over there. I got on the scale and realized that I gained it all back. Nuts. Oh, the Wolves lost 5-1 (they're in Utah). They looked terrible and were outplayed.
Monday, March 25, 2002
74th Academy Awards
We went to Barry & Buffy's, like we do every year, to watch the Oscars. We got there at 4:30, and we left at 11:30! We always have a good time, starting with watching the red carpet stuff. We have food, lots of drink, and take our shots at Oscar fashions . Then of course, there's the balloting, Every year, B&B go out and buy a present to be won. we all vote - most correct wins. This year, Barry just reproduced the ABC ballot that they had at the Oscar website, which meant we had to vote in all categories. We only had 8 people this year - Buffy keeps changing the mix to get it just right for entertainment and fun for all - including her. A few years ago they had about 24 people and that was really difficult to listen to the show, serve food and refreshments, and have a good time. We're still having problems actually listening to the show - there are times when people are socializing and not paying attention, causing others to get a little irate. The year of the big party was bad and may have strained a few friendships.
Since this is the first year that I'm blogging, I didn't think about blogging during the Oscars - I'm going to have to add to the post later!
Saturday, March 23, 2002
New Hot Water Heater
Just four days ago, we had to have someone come out and service our furnace - a fan stopped working and thus, no heat in the house. That wasn't planned. Unfortunately, today was planned - by Carol. After almost 18 years in the house, she decides we need a new hot water heater. We were still getting hot water (though she claims not as much as we used to), and let's face it - 18 years on a hot water heater is just asking for trouble. So today, we're doing a preemptive strike by replacing it. Our friend Damian in coming over with his dad and they're going to handle the swap. They're over at about 8:30 and start working on the disconnection. Well, we knew we were in for a problem when: 1) when disconnecting the feed into the tank, you look at the inside of the pipe connected to the tank and it's full of gunk and crud, and 2) when opening the tank's drain, nothing is coming out. The means the tank has to be moved out to the curb full of 40 gallons of water and God knows how much sediment. That wasn't easy, but we finally got it out to the parkway, where Damian just tips it over. The thud of the tank hitting the lawn actually bounced me in the air (admittedly, just barely). So at 9:30, we're off to Home Depot and find a tank that looks almost identical the the old one (meaning - the piping doesn't have to be redone!). We're back to the house by 10. Damian says they have about an hour of work ahead of them.
The tank finally goes "live" at 2 in the afternoon. Yes, everything fit, but apparently sweating the joints and getting the whole thing leak-free just took a bit longer than they thought. It didn't help that everytime they lit the torch to heat the pipe the hard wired smoke detector right above their heads would go off. Since it's hard-wired to the house, there was no way to disconnect it. Anyway, we're now have drip-free hot water coming from a tank that should last at least 9 years...
Saturday, March 09, 2002
Pay per view
Barry & Buffy just left. We had a great evening with them, just sitting around and talking. Carol made a great pasta dinner, and we did our first Pay Per View movie ever (either DirecTV or cable) - Rush Hour 2. Fun movie. The four of us were in Las Vegas a year ago Monday, and they were still finishing shooting at the Desert Inn - which was transformed into the Red Dragon Hotel & Casino for the film. Just seems a short time between shooting it and watching it on Pay-Per-View. Spent a lot of time on the IMDb trying to figure out who was in what movie. The house was making a ton of noise because of the wind. Had a big candle wax problem - had one of those big 3-wick jobs sitting on top of one of my Bose speakers break open an pour hot wax down the front. Crap. I have no idea how to get this wax of the speaker material.
Speaking of Las Vegas, B&B are leaving for a short vacation on the 30th. They're staying at Harrah's and flying Our Favorite Airline to Las Vegas™, National. I am so jealous and envious! We've been going to Vegas together every year (sometimes, twice a year) for a while now (since May '97) and it just feels weird not going with them. I mean, we'd go together, but it's really my fault - I don't have a job, so we don't have any money. Crap. Well, I hope they have a good time. Seriously. And I hope that they won't feel guilty about doing things there just because we're not with them. We talked a bit about this, and I know they, too, feel weird about us not being there with them, but they should have a good time on their own. We'll be there together again... someday...
Saturday, February 16, 2002
Wolves on TV
Carol & I went over to Chelby & Damian's tonight for dinner and to watch the Chicago Wolves on CLTV. The Wolves lost to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins 2-1, with all of the goals coming in the first period. Boy, this one was nasty. We were at the game when the Penguins came to town last month. It was ugly then and it was ugly tonight.
So, in-between periods or when there were breaks, we kept flipping over to Olympic hockey to watch Chicago Wolves goaltender Pasi Nurminen in net for Finland in the game against Belarus. Finland won 8-1. Not a lot of shots on goal - Nurminen stopped 20 of 21. The one goal was on a Belarus power play.
Why does it seem that I've been leaving friend's houses when the Short Track Speed Skating has been on this week? I wanted to see this, especially tonight when I heard the there was a four-person pile-up in the last lap in the Men 1000 m Finals. I'm watching curling now (The Men lost to Denmark 9-7 in an extra end (they're in 7th place now), and the women won against Russia 11-4 and won against Germany 7-6 and are now tied for 4th), and I don't think I can stay up and watch the Men's Hockey tonight...
Thursday, February 14, 2002
Went to lunch with Barry today at a Panda Express by the Allstate Arena. Had my favorite - Black Pepper Chicken. Had a nice discussion on the Olympics - in retrospect, we really didn't talk about much else. I think Barry is pro-snowboarding compared to my curmudgeoness stand against.
Looks like that water main break at Golf and Higgins got fixed - it's just a bunch of mud now, and they were putting up the telephone pole - a day later. There was a lot of salt on the road to make sure people didn't go sliding through the intersection.
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Well, I spent almost all day at our friends Janie & Gary's house. I spent all afternoon working with Gary, getting his PC skills "upgraded" a bit and help him out with his "new" Dell. Then I spent some time with Janie, getting her setup as a seller on eBay. She wants to sell some artwork. Boy, this was harder than I thought today. And longer. Carol drove down to them and Janie made a great chicken stir fry for dinner, along with ginger bread for desert. The food was great. Then I went off to try to take some digital photos of the artwork - very hard to do when some of the pieces have glass in the frames. Carol & Gary were watching the Olympics and then I realized that I missed the Olympics today! Bummed me out! I need to figure out what's going on! I heard that the IOC went after the ISU to get it's act together and do it fast! I guess the Olympics are getting mired in this whole skating controversy. Anyway, finally got back home after 10 o'clock. I'm trying to get some Olympic Pins on eBay and I keep getting outbid. Some of the pin prices are getting outrageous, and I just can't seem to get a winning bid that I feel comfortable with.
On the way to Janie & Gary's, I was at the corner of Golf & Higgins at a stoplight. I looked over, and saw the work crews that are working on prepping the area for the construction that's coming over the next two years to widen both roads and try to fix the intersection, one of the worst intersections in the state. There were some telephone poles on the ground that they must have been installing, probably for additional lighting, but also maybe for video cameras (they did that further down the road on Golf when they were widening Golf and Roselle).
And then I saw it, the water gushing out of the ground. Yep, they were digging and hit a water main. The intersection started to flood. When I drove by tonight, there was a lot more heavy equipment and night lighting and a much bigger hole, trying to fix the problem.
Saturday, February 02, 2002
B-52 and a movie
Carol & I left to go get some Chianti (which we've never shopped for before) to bring to Barry & Buffy's house. I pull out of the driveway and look up into the sky and see something I have only seen on television.
Over the skies of Afghanistan.
I remember seeing perfectly circular contrails in the skies over Afghanistan being made by B-52 bombers as they circled, providing cover. And now, over Chicago. The same circles are in the sky. Perfect, large circles, about six of them, the older ones dispersing and moving east with the wind. Perfect circles. We watched the last circle being completed, when the aircraft broke it's pattern and headed straight west, right over my house. Commercial aircraft don't do this. Not at this altitude. I've always heard about the military flying cover over the major cities. It's just something I've never seen. After thinking about this - I'm trying to rationalize what I'm seeing. When the plane came overhead, I couldn't identify 8 engines - a typical B-52, but they're 4 pylons of 2 so it would be difficult to see that from that altitude. I'm starting to believe that maybe it was a KC-135 providing refueling services for the aircraft flying cover. That would make sense. I mean, a bomber over the city? I hope not!
Headed over to Binny's to buy the Chianti. Found a good "end of bin" deal, and took off to go to B&B's for dinner. Buff's mom is recuperating there from knee replacement surgery that she had about two weeks ago. She's in her 80's and was moving around great (even though it was with a walker). You almost couldn't tell that she had the surgery. This joint replacement stuff is amazing. Had a nice homemade Italian dinner, and watched the movie Memento afterward. Wow, what a flick. I'm still not sure exactly what we saw, but we all loved it.
Friday, February 01, 2002
Well, we left home almost two hours before SoxFest was supposed to begin. We barely got there in time, due to the traffic. We were meeting our friends and season ticket holders Jeff & Doreen, and Janie & Gary at 5pm, when the doors opened. Well, when we got there, we had to go to a different floor because the line was so long. We knew that there was a security bag check before ewe went in, but had no idea what we were in for. We met everyone else while we were standing in line. The line started to move around 5:40pm! We went straight to the first (and only) scheduled seminar - a discussion session with General Manager Kenny Williams and Manager Jerry Manual, hosted by radio broadcaster Ed Farmer. The first thing we hear is something that literally just happened probably minutes before - we get Kenny Lofton as our new Center Fielder!!! Got him as a free agent with a one year deal. This is big deal!
Well, Jeff gets in line to ask a question of Kenny Williams, the General Manager. It's long, involved, loaded with pointed questions. Kenny rolls his eyes and asks Jeff for his cheat-sheet that has the questions on them, so he can answer the whole thing. It was priceless. Kenny signed the questions for Jeff and gave them back. The audience seemed to like it. The thing about SoxFest is that you see management types like this and they don't dodge questions - they answer honestly - how many major league teams of any sport do that???
We went downstairs to the main floor. Jeff & Doreen get into line to get an autograph from Paul Konerko (her favorite), so Carol & I with Janie & Gary go over to the Fox Sports Net stage where they broadcast live from 7-8 tonight. They were interviewing players throughout the show. Pretty cool.
We walked through the exhibitors, picking a few trinkets along the way (hats, pins, signed baseballs, etc).
There was always a White Sox Training Academy clinic going on - we watched a bit of the pitching clinic with pitchers Jim Parque and Jon Garland.
We finally pick up Jeff & Doreen toward the end of the night from their autograph session, take a last walk through the exhibitors and then go to the Hotel lobby (Hyatt Regency Chicago) to hit their coffee shop for dinner. Dinner took almost two fricken hours!!!! Severely understaffed! Kelly Wunsch came in and sat down in a corner by himself for dinner. It was amazing how many people went over to bother him!!! Anyway, it was a great time at SoxFest. It hard to believe that the first pre-season game is 4 weeks from today!
Thursday, January 10, 2002
Tag - you're it
Had lunch with Barry at a Chinese buffet by Manheim & Oakton - no idea the name of the place.
While at lunch, my mom called and left a message at my house - the alarm company called and said the alarm is going off at Diane's house. She doesn't know what to do. I call her when I get home (around 1:30). No answer. I keep trying every half hour. No answer. i bet they drove over to the house to make sure it's OK.
I EMailed Melinda to find out what's going on. She doesn't know - she's not on the call list. (I think they need to fix this). We'll try to keep each other informed. Diane is in her New York office. Melinda will try calling her on her cell.
I feel helpless.
Tuesday, January 01, 2002
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Spent the evening at Barry & Buffy's with Debbie and Kenny & Pat. As usual, everyone brought appetizers to eat. Things from brie & pear slices, toast points with creme fresh & caviar, cucumber slices with salmon, creme fresh, capers, & dill, walnut dried salami, Kenny's special shrimp (very yummy), barbecue chicken wings, Italian meatballs, a great Reuben mix that you put on miniature rye slices, baklava... and I'm sure I'm missing something... Watched the ABC 2002 coverage, even with the 30th Anniversary of Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve. Was very disappointed in the local coverage. The phone rang at Barry's just after 11. Barry answered and talked for a while. We couldn't figure out who he was talking to. The he turns and hands the phone to me - it was Diane! Her and Melinda were at their Michigan home - where it was midnight (the New Year) and she had to call! The drive home this year was uneventful - dry roads and hardly any idiots.
Sunday, December 30, 2001
We were taken out to dinner by Chelby & Damian tonight in thanks for dog sitting Katie (who we get to see again tomorrow). We went to Shaw's Crab House over by Streets of Woodfield. Good company. Not great food. I think there stuff is OK, not stellar. We found lots of things that were either OK or just not to our liking at all. Creme Brule? More like custard pudding. Au gratin potatoes? Didn't expect jarlsberg cheese being the dominant flavor. Crab cakes OK. Filet Mignon - had much better elsewhere (but then again, what should I expect of a seafood place?) Saw an older gentleman knock a glass off his table as he was leaving. NEVER saw anyone bring a broom to clean it up. Just people every once in a while kicking pieces of glass around. Saw a person seat another couple at the table get on her hands and knees and try to pick up some of the glass. When we left, there was still glass around the table even after telling Tina, our waitress about it. No one seemed to care about it.
Saturday, December 22, 2001
Friends and beef
Carol finally called Teri this afternoon and talked to her a good while. It's good to know everything is well with them. Found out that Rick & Kathy really did move to Wisconsin. Joey played football this year instead of baseball. Sounded like everything went well with that. They finally had to put Cocoa down - she was 11 years old.
On our way out the door this evening I see a breaking news story on ABC about American Flight 63 from Paris to Miami being diverted to Boston with an F-15 fighter escort. A guy with a British passport was trying to set his shoes on fire, because they had detination cord and C-4 in them!!! Two flight attendants were hurt and the guy was subdued. Great. I really feel safe. Jeez.
Carol & I had dinner at Magnum's in Rolling Meadows with Barry & Buffy & Debbie as our holiday get together. Definitely a carnivore night. Very good Green Apple martini's. I had a great appetizer - sea scallops wrapped in bacon (yum!) and had my first escargot (I'm almost 45 and never tasted snails). I had a char-broiled 24oz ribeye that was like buttuh with a side of roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Unbelievable. Barry had the same. Debbie & Buff had London Broil and Carol had a filet & lobster tail. Great waitress (Char). Actually had a piano bar at the end of the room. The bar actually had a piano built into it. A guy sang & played all night. Was great. The room was great. All in all, I'd definitely recommend this place if you're a carnivore.
Buff filled us in on her cousin TJ's wife Patty. She had gone back to France quite a few months ago. They had separated and she was allegedly back in France to try to get treatment for her MS. TJ wrote her about 2 months ago and told her that he wanted a divorce and wanted to start the process. She never contacted him about it. Buff talked to hear on the phone around thanksgiving. She was moving out of her parent's and into her own place.
Buff found out this past Wednesday that Patty was found dead in her bathroom in her apartment. She had been dead 1-2 weeks. An autopsy was being performed, since there was no indication of why she had died.
Needless to say, this was a bit of a shock to all of us, not to mention Buff's family and especially TJ. I'm Shocked. I'm stunned. I don't now what to say. I don't know how I feel. It's just a numb feeling. I had met her a few times - great french accent. It's just weird knowing that she was found dead in France. Weird.
Same day - Buff finds out that her sister Karen's place had been robbed - jewelry only. Very specific. Karen's house is just 5 blocks away from my parent's house.
All in all - Wednesday December 19 was not a good day for a bunch of us.