This collection of entries is from the Category "Photos".
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Wolves 2 - Griffins 3 - Overtime
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Here we are, back at the Allstate Arena in what just seems too early for the hockey season to begin. The Wolves are celebrating their 10th season as a team. It's not bad to be around only 10 years and have 3 championships, all of which were under the same head coach John Anderson, who is starting his 7th season. There's been only one player that has been with the team since the beginning: Steve Maltais. The team has a new "lower" affiliate - the Gwinnett Gladiators in the ECHL. There was a looong pre-game ceremony for the 10th Season celebration.
Then there was a video tribute to former Wolves teammate Dan Snyder who died in that horrific car crash. He was buried yesterday up in his hometown of Elmira, Ontario. The Thrasher's had their tribute before their opener on Thursday - tonight was our turn. Not a dry eye in the house. The Wolves painted his Wolves jersey number (19) on the ice behind each net, where it will remain for the season. They're wearing "19" stickers on their helmets. There were posters and banners everywhere in the stands. He was a good guy with a great life still ahead of him. He's going to be missed by the fans here in Chicago.
It was nice seeing familiar faces again, both in the stands and on the ice. Most of the team is back. Our main goaltender, Norm Maracle, is now playing in Russia (if I understand this correctly, he replaced a goaltender that was found dead, presumably a hit from the Russian mob... go figure...). That being said, we had Frederic Cassivi in net tonight. The team had a pretty slow start, but there was something a bit different - there's a hint of aggression, of attacking and not just sitting back. We were down 2-0 at the end of 2. It didn't look too good (we could score on a 5-on-3), but there still was this more aggressive intensity there. In the third, we tied it up and out-shot the Griffins 12-6. Unfortunately, it only took 1:02 in overtime for the Griffins to score, and we lose the season opener 3-2.
Still, I didn't mind what I saw. I saw them play much worse last year, and this was just opening night. Let's see how the year progresses.
If you would like to see the tribute to Dan Snyder from the Allstate Arena, including the National Anthem, I have it right here as a Windows Media file (.wmv) - it's 720 x 480, 5:38, 15fps, and it's huge - 67.3Mb.
If you would like to see just the Wolves video tribute to Dan Snyder, I have it right here as a Windows Media file (.wmv) - it's 720 x 480, 1:53, 15fps, 22.5Mb.
(Boxscore - Gamesheet)
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Sunday, June 29, 2003
White Sox 2 - Cubs 5
Sunday, June 15, 2003
White Sox 0 - Padres 1
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So, how do you celebrate Fathers Day? Why, you go to "The Joan" for Willy Wonka Kid's Day! (Hey, at least it made more sense than yesterday!) Now, today is finally a really nice day. This is baseball weather and it only took us until the middle of June to get there.
But is was another forgetful, painful game. Jon Garland pitched a 3-hitter and lost. Why? Run support, my friend. In a nutshell - 7 hits (including 2 lead-off doubles in the 4th & 5th), but we stranded 9 baserunners. Ordonez had one of the doubles - it was his 200th of his career. Garland threw a good game. He deserved better.
Oh, and Frank Thomas? He DH'ed today and was 0 for 3 with a walk. Now, do you think we would have won the game if he played First Base with all of those opportunities?
Here's some more pain - former Cub Rod Beck (who joined the Padres just two weeks ago after winning his release from a minor-league contract with the Cubs), earned his first save since Sept. 20, 2001.
Here's an interesting stat for you - The Sox have used 60 different lineups in 68 games, and they have not used the same starting lineup in consecutive games all season. Consistency? Not here.
I can't wait for tomorrow when the Red Sox are in town and Pedro Martinez pitches against this team. Who do we have on the mound? That would be our "ace" - Mark Buehrle who is 0-9 in his last 12 starts (2-10 total in 15 starts, 5.18 ERA). What a great year this guy is having...
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Saturday, June 14, 2003
White Sox 6 - Padres 5
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So, how do you celebrate Flag Day? Why, you go to "The Joan" for Caribbean Night! (yes, I know, don't try to make any sense out of it). I knew it was going to be an odd game when we walked through the parking lot and saw two guys - one dressed in a parrot costume and another dressed in a shark costume. It's been 3 weeks since we've been to a game, and it's still not warm with that wind off the lake! We're at the trailing end of the Interleague games (or, as Carol calls them, "cross-pollination"). We finish-up with the San Diego Padres.
The game wasn't memorable. It was up and down, give and take for the whole game. It was a struggle. Three home runs tonight (Ordonez, Lee & Thomas), though. And Danny Wright didn't get a decision for his seventh straight start. "Jose Friggin' Valentin" (as our friend Janie likes to call him) got stupid again and was thrown out by about 40 feet when he tried stretching a double into a triple in the 3rd inning. Am I a happy Sox fan? Not in the least. The boys have failed me this year, for absolutely no explainable reason.
They, quite frankly, suck.
Let me vent on one specific issue: Frank Thomas. This arrogant bastard has just about downright refused to play first base, wanting to focus on being a DH. Two issues: this year; he's been crap as a DH. Then on top of that, statistically, he performs better if he's playing first base. It's like his head is actually in the game with each pitch and he involved, instead of being isolated in the dugout, maybe taking a few swings in the cage under the stands, and eventually going up to the plate and usually popping-out. Great. It makes me question where his loyalty really is - to the team or himself.
When we last saw Frank three weeks ago, he was batting .253, 18 RBI, 9 HR's 34 walks, 32 strikeouts. His slugging % was .487 and his on-base % was .403. Yeah, this is a good DH.
Jerry Manuel started playing him at first base a few games before and throughout Interleague play. Since then, he's hit in 15 of his last 16 games, going 22-for-57 (.386) with 17 RBI, 6 doubles, 7 HR's, drew 10 walks - his on-base % was .485 and his slugging % was .860. Just because his head is in the friggin' game. Thanks for contributing to the crappiness of our season. Any side bets that he doesn't remember any of this when he's back DH-ing and his stats slide again?
Anyway, tonight was Caribbean Night, sponsored by Jose Cuervo, who gave away White Sox beach towels and handled the fireworks. Lots of Caribbean music, everyone is dressed up (or I guess dressed down is more appropriate) and every one is a lot mellower. It's a Jimmy Buffet night. In fact, they're selling parrot hats at the souvenir stands, that I just had to buy for Carol. I don't think she was all that appreciative. (Check it out in this video (4.74 Mb AVI File - 320x240 15fps 18 seconds)) We had a calypso band concert after the game with the local Parrothead Fan Club supplying the dancers in the background. Odd, but fun.
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Sunday, May 25, 2003
White Sox 8 - Tigers 5 - 12 innings
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Back again at "The Joan", this time a bit earlier than normal. Carol and I had to drive into the city to pick up my mom on the way to the park. We're spending the rest of today and tomorrow at my sister's house in Michigan. Sort of a family thing. The main reason for getting to the park early was so that I could go on the field before the game to take some pictures. Today was Fuji Film Photo Day and the first 3,000 fans got to go on the field and take pictures of the players. We all just stand out on the warning track and the coaches and players go by and you get to take pictures of them (but, please, no autographs - slows the line down too much). Hey, I'll take any excuse to get onto the field legally. If you want to see them, are are my pictures from Fuji Film Photo Day. There were two guys that I noticed that were missing: Bartolo Colon who is serving a 5-game suspension, and Carlos Lee who got hit in the head last night.
Back in my seat before the game I had noticed that Carlos Lee was actually in the lineup! The game itself started out pretty well for Danny Wright, but in the top of the 4th he allowed home runs to Kevin Witt and Eric Munson on consecutive pitches in the fourth inning and it just felt like the nightmare was going to continue. Bottom of the 5th, and we're losing 3-0. Then Joe Crede gets hit by a pitch, Joe Borchard singles to right and D'Angelo Jimenez walks. With a 2-1 count against him, Carlos Lee launches a 439foot homerun deep into the stands in left, his second Grand Slam of the year (not bad for getting beaned in the head the night before!). Kelly Wunsch came in at the top of the 8th. He must have had too much fun during Photo Day, because he proceeds to give up a double, hit a guy, walk the next guy, strike out the next guy, but gives up a sac fly to right center scoring two of the runners. Tom Gordon comes in, gives up a single and the game is tied 5-5.
Because of family commitments, we leave the game after the bottom of the 9th and start our trip up to Michigan. We, of course, listen to the game on the way.
In the bottom of the 12th, Graffanino gets a hit, Konerko walks, and Joe Crede has a walk-off home-run, and the Sox avoid a sweep 8-5.
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Saturday, May 24, 2003
White Sox 0 - Tigers 1
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Back at "The Joan" on a blustery night. The temperature was tolerable out in the parking lot, but inside the park the wind is swirling and has a bite to it. This is the friggin' Memorial Day Weekend and I'm still freezing my ass off at this park! There's a good crowd - (if you call 27,535 a good crowd) - mostly here for the fireworks after the game and the free Wilson Fielder's Gloves for kids. The night starts as a pitching duel between Gary Knotts and Esteban Loaiza. What nobody expected was the Sox losing in a 1-0 shutout. To the Detroit Tigers. A one-run-loss for the second night in a row. This team is in serious trouble. The Sox were held to 3 hits. 3 hits and 5 left on base. (Nice to see that new hitting coach Greg Walker is working out so well - nobody on the team is now hitting over .286.) Carlos Lee got beaned in the helmet in the 7th (and went down hard - he was in pain) and even that didn't spark the team. Loaiza gave up 4 hits, only 1 run on 5 strikeouts - but had 4 walks - and his ERA goes down in the loss (to 1.92). Hitting? Forget it. Joe Borchard (called-up on Thursday and the 5th starting center fielder for the team) walked in 8th, and Jerry Manuel lets Frank Thomas (who was sitting out) hit for Miguel Olivo. Oooooo. Like that is going to help. Wrong - it's the 2003 version of Frank Thomas. He strikes out. And that summarizes the play of the team. The crowd was pretty upset from the 6th inning on, booing the end of the inning and getting louder each inning.
You know things are bad when, after the last out in the 9th (a double play thanks to my favorite player (not) Brian Daubach (.185) (why the hell is he on this team???)) a kid throws his fielder's glove out onto the field. A kid.
The fans are pissed. This is the friggin' Detroit Tigers. If the Jerry Manuel watch hasn't started yet, I thought I heard a stopwatch ticking after this loss. I know people are saying Fire Sale - I believe in the players. I know what they can do. I know what they're capable of - we've seen it in the past. I I just don't understand why they're not performing.
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Friday, May 02, 2003
Wolves 0 - Griffins 2 - Western Conference Semifinals - Game 4
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The team was up to the challenge. At the end of the first period, it's a scoreless tie. OK, we're not losing. At the end of the second period, it's a scoreless tie. OK, we're still not losing. It's a tough fight. The, with 1:57 left in the third, the Griffins score. We pull the goalie for the extra attacker, and the Giffins score and empty-netter.
The Wolves lose. The season is over. The Calder Cup leaves our hands for destination unknown. It was nice having it.
And now, we bid adeau to our friends at the Allstate Arena. Until next year.
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Sunday, April 27, 2003
White Sox 3 - Twins 1
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What and absolutely gorgeous day for baseball. It's the first Willy Wonka Kids Day of the year, so during the Twins' batting practice, the entire White Sox team was out on the field signing autographs. New this year - autographs for kids 13 and under only - no adults. That pissed-off some autograph seekers. We were at our seats, way before the start of the game, when our friend Teri came over! She and Mark and Joey and Danielle got company tickets for today's game (they were 3 sections over and 10 rows up). Teri looks great. We haven't seen her in a while (since the Wolves game). We have to get together again soon. The game started out with a rare occurrence: Jerry Manuel got thrown-out of the game for arguing a call at first base. Estaban Loaiza is still coming up as the surprise of the pitching staff - 7 innings, 6 hits, but only 1 run. He's 5-0 with a 1.25 ERA. And in another rarity - Brian Daubach stole home on a double steal - first time since '96 for the Sox. Sox win the series, so that's a good thing... though they're still 4½ behind Kansas City...
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Saturday, April 26, 2003
White Sox 7 - Twins 4
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Back at TPFKAC™ for our first official night game with fireworks. The fireworks, instead of being assembled on the asphalt in the player's parking lot, are now on top of scaffolding, about 5 or 6 sections high. The fire marshall allowed them to do that so the Sox could keep the outfield seats open (they had to "evacuate" and close them for the fireworks over the last few years). The game is moving along OK. Jon Garland is actually pitching OK after quite a few horrible starts. Yesterday, a few guys got hit. In the bottom of the 5th, Ordonez gets hit in the back (after getting hit in the 9th last night) after hitting a home run in the 4th. (BTW, Frank Thomas homered before Maggs, and had a homer yesterday. go, Frank!) When the top of the 6th comes around, Garland hits Doug Mientkiewicz, and gets immediately ejected - without warning. Well, that sent coaches running out of the Sox dugout, followed by the rest of the players, which was followed by the Twins dugout, and before you know it, the bullpens empty... no fighting, just a lot of yelling and posturing... but Garland gets thrown out as well as center fielder Armando Rios as well as the Twins' reliever Latroy Hawkins. haven't seen that many players on the field since the Detroit debacle a few years ago. Anyway, Garland did well - struck-out 5 guys on 4 hits (OK, 2 were home runs), so he was performing well for a change. This meant that we had to get someone from the bullpen, even though no one was warming-up. They brought out Tom "Flash" Gordon. You know this is a problem when a security guy on the field lays his head back and rolls his eyes when they announce Gordon. Well, he came out and pitched 2 1/3 1-hit 3-strikeout innings. A very nice performance. Then the closer - Koch - comes in for the 9th and gives up a 2-out 2-run homer from pinch hitter Cuddyer. He may be good, but damn this guy is scary.
the fireworks, well they're not as good. You can tell they're further away, and it just feels "bare" without any fireworks inside the park. I don't know, I just don't like it. The new sound system is a plus, but it's just the same old fireworks all from one location that feels further away.
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Sunday, April 20, 2003
White Sox 4 - Indians 7
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Ouch. Back at TPFKAC™, and in the first inning, our ace Mark Buehrle gives-up back-to-back home runs. I wonder if he's ever done that before? Well, I don't panic yet since it's only in the first. He hasn't given up more than two runs in any of his first four starts. Maybe he just needs to settle down. Well, he doesn't. He gives up 7 runs in 4 1/3, and his ERA goes from 1.57 to 3.27. Today was the day I wanted pitch count - and it's not on the scoreboard! The pitch speed is back. (I need to talk to somebody about this...) Our offense wasn't that stellar either, considering their pitcher Jason Davis had an ERA well over 8.00. Well, now it's down to 6.97. Ordonez now has a 16-game hitting streak, and Carlos Lee hit another homerun - he's hit one in his last 4 games. You can see it in his swing that he's got that mindset that he's going for the fence. 14,975 paid - was emptier than that for an Easter Sunday. We've never been to the park on Easter, but it does call to mind the opening of Bull Durham and The Church of Baseball:
I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshiped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball, and it's never boring... which makes it like sex. There's never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn't have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I'd never sleep with a player hitting under .250... not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there's a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I've got a ballplayer alone, I'll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. 'Course, a guy'll listen to anything if he thinks it's foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. 'Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball -- now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake? It's a long season and you gotta trust. I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.
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Saturday, April 19, 2003
White Sox 12 - Indians 3
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Back at TPFKAC™. We get to the park way early, but that's OK. Today is Dog Day, so we head over to Gate 1 to watch everyone arriving with their dogs. Carol just loves this stuff - she gets to see dogs, pet them, guess what they are (She's good) After an hour, we went inside. It's our first time in our seats, since it was so frggin' cold the last time we were here. We didn't know what to expect today, so we over-dressed a lot - it was 71 at gametime. The parade of dogs before the game was a blast. (Here's a quick video - it's a 13-second 3.91Mb AVI.) We got to experience another new item at the park - a new sound system. Louder, clearer, wider frequency response. Much better. During the game, we notice something else - a spot on the scoreboards in the corners for pitch count! Unfortunately, it replaced pitch speed (no more radar gun), and it's just a total pitch count - no totals for balls or strikes. Well, at least it's something. I want it all (total, balls, strikes, and speed).
The game itself is crazy. By the end of the first, we're winning 6-0. By the end of the 5th, we're winning 9-1, and only one of those runs are earned. Cleveland has 4 errors. We have one - a throwing error on Stewart, the pitcher, which was not even close to 1st base and went into right. (It was so bad, Konerko, on 1st, never made an attempt to try to catch it.) Carlos Lee looks like he's just swinging for the fences. He's not being patient at all. Of course, in the 8th, he meets Aaron Myette a former White Sox pitcher, and tags him for a 3-run homer.
We used to hate going to the Cleveland series. That was back when they sold out Jacobs Field and people drove from Cleveland to come to the game. Again, loud and extremely obnoxious and arrogant fans. Those days are gone - they don't sell out, they're not that good, and hardly anybody makes the trip any more. Now, if I can never see the prick of a Cub fan sitting in front of me that was obnoxious (who was giving customer service guys grief for having his ticket checked - get used to it asshole, that's the way it's gonna be from now on, thanks to The Ump Jumper), I'll be happy. His buddies were trying to apologize for him, but he just got louder and louder. Bastard.
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Sunday, April 06, 2003
White Sox 10 - Tigers 2
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Oh, this feels like it's getting old... straight to the Stadium Club again, as we wait to rescue more people from the cold. Janie and Jeff showed up and we rescued them and brought them upstairs for a little buffet, sandwiches, desserts and drinks in the warmth of the club to watch the game. Unfortunately, the end section of the upstairs area is dead - meaning no PA, no TV's. Hopefully, that will get fixed soon. Anyway, what a great start for Josh Stewart. It was his first Major League appearance, and he went 6 2/3 innings. He gave up 7 hits and 2 earned runs, and had only one strikeout, but it was a good start. Now, when he got pulled, it was 1-1, with one man on that scored to give the Tigers the lead. Well, when the bottom of the 8th came around, the Sox scored 9 runs in the inning and won the game 10-2.
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Saturday, April 05, 2003
White Sox 7 - Tigers 0
OK, so would you trade your 37 degrees and cloudy with light rain for 32 degrees and partly sunny?
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I admit it - I wimped out. We went directly to the Stadium Club once we got to the park, and parked ourselves on some seats with a view to watch the game. Just couldn't do it. Walked around briefly before the game to see all of our buddies in our section and let them know we were here but upstairs. It didn't feel too out there without my coat on, but game time temperature clocked-in at 32 degrees and winds at 15 mph.
I was disturbed yesterday that I didn't hear the usual stadium announcer Gene Honda. When I didn't hear him again today, I just had to go to Customer Service to find out what was happeneing. It turns out that Gene is doing NCAA tournements, so he was unavailable for the weekend. *Whew* - I mean, he's the "voice" of the stadium and not the person who was there that sounds like Tom Schaer (I think it really was Schaer).
The game was great. Mark Buehrle pitched a good game - 8 innings, 3 hits. Rick White cleaned-up in the 9th and we had a shutout - 7-0.
And it's off to go home and peel-off the layers of clothing we had put on so we can put on our jerseys and go to the Wolves game.
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Friday, April 04, 2003
White Sox 5 - Tigers 2
OK, this was NOT fun. The traffic was much lighter than I had expected, so we got to the park 1 hour before the 3:05 game time. It's cold, windy, raining.
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We go up the ramps and walk out onto newly rehabbed outfield concourse, only to find still more cold, wind, and rain. The tarp is still down on the infield. We walked around a bit, checking out the new signage over the aisle entrances, complete with plants in hanging baskets. The rehab looks good - all of the concession stands look better, with brick facade, aluminum counters, awnings and signage. The new Mitsubishi Diamond Vision in the scoreboard looks gorgeous. The even replaced the old matrix scoreboard in left with a new one, which now has a better display of the lineup and inning-by-inning scoreboard.
Carol & I part ways for a bit, as I want to take some photos in case the game gets called. I meet-up with our buddy Jeff, who's also walking around the outfield concourse. Eventually, we meet the rest of his group and all of us go huddle in the main concourse, waiting for the rain to die down. We wait. And we wait. Jeff & his crew split, and Carol and I finally meet-up with our other buddies Janie & Gary. Again, we go under and wait. We decide to see if we can find Jeff on the other side of the park, so we go over there and wait. And look. And wait. (I think by now, you get the picture.) It's dark outside, the lights aren't on yet, and there's this blinding flash of light and loud crack of thunder - like the lightning strike was just on the other side the park. This goes on for a while. It starts getting lighter outside. The grounds crew pulls the tarp back - just to empty it and puts it back. There is now a huge lake in short centerfield. But Roger Bossard knows how to build a drainage system for a park, and sure enough, within 10 minutes, the tarp comes off permanently, and the game finally starts after two friggin' hours. We're cold and uncomfortable before we even get into our seats in the outfield.
It's cold. At least it's stopped raining. But a two hour rain delay means an additional two hours of drinking for those absolute friggin' idiots of fans that only show up on opening day. You know the type - usually in their 20's, usually male, usually not giving a damn about the game, just having a grand friggin' time drinkin'-swearin'-spittin'-partyin'. I'm sure Cub fans are used to it - we don't see idiots like this at Comiskey... Ooops! Crap. I Mean - U.S. Cellular Field. Yes, their signage is everywhere. They even have a Cellular Store at the Park. Cripes.
Game time temperature was 37 degrees with 22mph winds. Yech. Esteban Loaiza looked really good in his start, giving up only 3 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The team really needed to play Detroit to get the feel back to what it's like to win (They were 0-3 after getting swept by Kansas City). Also Billy Koch gets a nice solid close, striking out the side in the 9th (after his really poor showing in Kansas City).
After the game, we all went over to Janie & Gary's for dinner and drinks. We get home way too late to start-off our 5-game weekend (Sox-Sox-Wolves-Sox-Wolves).
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Friday, January 31, 2003
Carol got off work early, came and picked me up so I could leave early and on an ugly, wet Friday we drove downtown to the Hyatt Regency Chicago to attend SoxFest 2003.
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We got there a half hour early and made our way to the event. We were in line, about 30 people from the front of the line, when we realized what had happened - there were people in front of us that had been waiting since 7am to get to the Opening Ceremony at 5pm. We were 30 people behind the cutoff to get into the ballroom. Now we had to wait for that entire event to be over and the ballroom to be cleared before they would let the rest of us go in. Now I know why the line was so long last year! We had been standing in line for almost half an hour one a gentleman walked up to me. He was Teddy Greenstein, the White Sox beat reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He came over to get my reaction to an announcement that was just made in the ballroom - Comiskey Park will be no more - it will be called U.S. Cellular Field, thanks to a 23-year naming rights deal that will pay the club for $68 million over 20 years. Oh, crap... NOOOooooo!!! Anyway, I give him a few quotes and then he moved on down the line. Damn. I'm more of a purist, I guess. U.S. Cellular Field? Like that company will be around for the 23 years of the agreement. Well, at about 5:50, we finally get inside. I check my coat and we hang around the front of the ballroom area waiting for our friend Janie, and Jeff and his sister Doreen. After about 10 minutes, Jeff & Do show up, but no Janie - she's home sick. Bummer. We just sort of wander around - checking out some All Star merchandise, and walk the show floor and actually doing some shopping. We get something to drink and we meet-up with some of Jeff's relatives. We kill a little more time and go to the only session that we are always interested in: the panel discussion with management. There were some great acquisitions this year, like Bartolo Colon and Billy Koch. There were a few things that came out in that meeting, one that I was actually hoping to hear. In a discussion on how sometimes you try to make player movements and they don't work, GM Kenny Williams said that the Todd Ritchie trade was a mistake that blew up in his face. Somehow, I needed to hear that. There was an awful lot of talk about the players still waiting to come up. One name never came up anywhere in the discussion, or anywhere else for that matter - Frank Thomas. Everyone is so focused on how good the other players are, it seems like Frank is just another player (they way it should be, in my opinion). We left SoxFest, had a quick dinner at Houlihan's in Illinois Center and made our way home. It was a long friggin' night.
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Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Well, that wasn't much fun...
OK, it was snowing a bit more than I had expected. Since it was coming down quicker, the salt on the streets really doesn't work, so, yes, it's accumulating on the streets. It was slow-going on the way home. Wasn't too bad, but it was a bit slick, and the traffic was moving a bit slower than normal, so the travel time to get home was a little longer than normal.
Saturday, January 25, 2003
Comiskey Park Update
Last month, when we were on our meat run to Michigan, we were on the Dan Ryan and passed Comiskey Park. That was the first time I noticed it - there was something different about the park. The Upper deck looked the same, so there was no structural change there, but something else was going on. So, since I had nothing else to do today, I drove down to Comiskey to check it out.
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I had heard some rumors that there would be another round of renovations at the park before this year's All Star Game in July. In the prior years, I've always heard about what was going on through our Season Ticket Rep, but nothing was released this year. I vaguely remember Hawk talking at the end of the season about a new scoreboard. At our last season ticket game and the last home game at the park last year, it was obvious they were doing some testing of paint.
The first thing I noticed on the drive to the park, as I was heading south on the Dan Ryan, just before that big sweeping turn at the Stevenson, you could see a crane inside the park. I didn't look too heavy, but it was definitely taller than the top of the stadium. I drove to the park and parked in the E lot and walked around the park. The sun may have been out, but it was cold out there. Well, there wasn't much I could see from the lot (the angles were all wrong) and I was getting a bit spooked-out by the security cameras panning around, so I got back in the car and drove around the park a few times and in different routes. The upper deck has definitely not changed in size or shape. There are temporary walls on the upper deck concourse. My guess is that they're doing renovations similar to the Main Concourse renovations of last year. The ramps outside the left field corner are now painted dark gray. the other ramps are still bare concrete. The inside of the roof on the upper deck that used to be white is now black. Even though we saw paint tests on the concrete facing of the upper deck at the end of the season, I couldn't get a good angle to see into the park to see if that had been done. All of the truss work above the outfield concourse (that held all of the advertising and the scoreboards) that used to be white is now painted black, or maybe a very dark gray. This includes the light towers as well. The backside of the scoreboards and ads are still white. There was a service door that was open behind the left-field scoreboard, and you could see that the scoreboard was gone - just support girders were left. The crane that can be seen inside the park seems to be positioned by that scoreboard. (I wouldn't mind seeing an upgrade to the scoreboards. The Sony display on the main scoreboard, though only 12 years old, sure isn't the latest technology. And the bulb density of the left field scoreboard could be upgraded a bit.) I'd like to see if they've changed the color scheme inside the park at all (I, for the record, am against the all blue crap used in the park - blue seats, blue scoreboards. blue padding on the outfield walls.) So far, in general, it looks like the park is going to look "darker", which, from a player perspective, is a good thing. You see, the players have always complained at Comiskey that they lose sight of the ball against the color of all the concrete used in the place. My guess is that they're painting the concrete to darken the background for the players. Maybe we'll find out more next weejkend at SoxFest.
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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!!!
Monday, January 13, 2003
Chicago Wolves Season Ticket Holder Party
Went to the annual Chicago Wolves Season Ticket Holder Party at the Allstate Arena tonight. Same stuff - not any different than last year. Saw all the team. Went in the locker room. Climbed on the Zamboni. Free stadium food. *yawn*
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Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Wolves 4 - Moose 2
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Our "puck boys" are back in town at the Allstate Arena. Today is the first game (of three) that the Wolves are wearing their special "College-Style" jerseys which, of course, will be auctioned-off of Sunday. I think they're nice looking, but this is the first promotional jersey that they've worn that I've felt no compelling drive to purchase. The "College Style" to me is just... bland. In the East Lobby, they had the Calder Cup on display (complete with the Wolves championship roster affixed to the appropriate location). The Calder Cup is just so... cheesy-looking. I want a tiered cup, like Lord Stanley's or even the IHL's old Turner Cup (which we won twice) instead of this style.
The Wolves are playing the Manitoba Moose tonight. We enjoy going to these games for two major reasons. The first is to be able to sing the Canadian National Anthem (which we think is the best National Anthem to sing, and Wayne Messmer does a great job of it. Oh, and it's in our key). I know it's a minor thing, but it's fun.
The second thing is because of one specific Moose player: Jimmy Roy (pronounced "Roy" and not "Wah"). We just hate this guy. He's been with the Moose since '97, back in the IHL, back when the Moose were still in Minnesota. He's just a punk. But for some reason, he doesn't act that way on his home ice, so his fans have no idea what he's like when he's in Chicago.
We started taunting Roy starting with the opening face-off. If he was on the ice, we taunted him. When I mean "we", I mean groups of specific fans all around the Allstate Arena. Specifically, it's a chant: "Ro-oy! Ro-oy! Ro-oy! YOU SUCK!!!" It started across the ice by Sock Boy, it went upstairs to The Rafter Rats, and then it would come down to us - The Penalty Box Police. (A side note - That's what our group is called. First, it's our primary responsibility to "police" the visitors penalty box and hassle them as much as we can. Secondly, there are some Chicago Cops in the group, so Penalty Box Police is a bit fitting. We even have patches to wear on our jerseys (yes, we all wear jerseys).) We were chanting in a round. Anytime he was on the ice, we all took turns and hounded him.
Jump forward - it's the end of the second period, Roy is in some kind of skirmish with Dallas Eakins, and the two are being escorted off the ice to keep them apart. It was reported later that Eakins said to Roy "How does it feel to be a career minor-leaguer?'' Well, that just set him off and he gets a 2 minute unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10-minute misconduct. He starts the 3rd period in the penalty box, and , for all intents and purposes, he's ours. We start laying into him, but this time (for a change) he's not really reacting to us (I think that's another reason why we hassle this guy - there was a few times where we got to him, he reacted to us, and we totally took him out of the game. He was ineffective on the ice.) We weren't paying too much attention to the game, we're focused on Roy. Then, at 3:47 into the period, Andre Payette gets a 10-minute misconduct as well. This guy has been in the ECHL and was signed on New Years Eve for a try out. Naturally, we have to get into his head, so we start our taunting - and he reacts. Oh, that's all we need! from then on, it was the hell with Roy, we're after Payette. He reacts often. He was talking to Roy in the box (who remained calm and just served his time), and it was obvious they were talking about the taunting. After it was all over, Jimmy Roy never played another minute in the game (we lost track of Payette).
The Moose goaltender Alex Auld was unfreakingbelieveable in net. He made saves that just seemed totally impossible. In the end, even though he lost 4-2, his 33 saves made him the #1 star of the game. (A great quote from the Winnipeg Sun: Chicago Wolves coach John Anderson summed up Alex Auld's performance as only someone from the Windy City so eloquently can. "He was playing out of his friggin' mind".)Our goalie, Frederic Cassivi did a pretty good job as well, considering he hasn't seen much action since before Thanksgiving.
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Monday, January 06, 2003
Wow! My first one!
After a too long day at work (a tape-copy operation that took way too long), I came home to find... a box from Amazon.com. Not a big deal as I had pre-ordered Cory Doctorow's "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" and it should be shipping around now. But then I opened the box to find... a wrapped present! Well, that was a new one to me! It had a card on the gift: "happy birthday (it might be a couple days past, but who says it can't be a birthday week or month!??!!) cheers!! hope all is swell!!!!" There's another envelope in the box, the front reads: "DON'T RUIN YOUR SURPRISE Open your gift before this envelope".
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So, naturally, I tore into the wrapping to find... the Special Edition DVD of Monty Python and the Holy Grail!!! Cool! OK, now who sent this??? So I opened the envelope and... it's just the packing slip. Wait... up on the Billing Address... it's my Blogmom Erin!!! This is my first gift that I've got from my Amazon Wishlist that wasn't from my family... and it came from my blogging family! This is so cool! Erin, thank you so very much! (So this is how it looks when you send an Amazon gift! Thanks!)
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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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Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Tonight, it's take the parents to my sister Diane's for a family Christmas Eve with our cousins and Uncle Jim. The weather is starting to turn nasty - very windy and snowing. At least the snow isn't of the big-flake variety, it's more of the real tiny not-necessarily-flake-but-maybe-pellet variety. We all show up at Diane's house at the exact same moment, causing chaos and pandemonium amongst the dogs and, well, everyone involved. The evening went well. Dad seemed a bit crabby, though. I think it's just hard on him to travel, and I just don't think he wanted to socialize with our extended family. Well, while cleaning the snow off my car, I fell in the street. Yep. My right foot started to slide out from under me. I remember thinking to myself "This is going to hurt" as I didi the splits. The splits didn't hurt, as I was able to twist my legs so I didn't actually do the splits. Hitting the asphalt hurt. I slipped again when walking my parents to the car.The ride home was bad. The Kennedy hadn't been plowed or salted. Addison was the same, so travel was just slow. After dropping off my parents, I slipped again going to the car. By now, the sudden flailing of my body is screwing up most of the muscles in my back, and now I have a headache like you would get in a whiplash accident. Ouch. The drive home was made worse only by the number of idiots on the street who just don't know how to drive in this weather. Actually, it has nothing to do with the weather - they're just driving like idiots. Like the guy in the SUV that didn't even stop to look that traffic was coming at a busy intersection (without a traffic light) and just pulls out and turns. (Of course, there was traffic coming, and this little event caused a van to swerve to miss the idiot, cross the center line and come right at us, only to swerve again, this time to avoid us. Nice, eh? Merry Christmas!) Or the people that just pull too far into an intersection, causing you to swerve around them. That has nothing to do with snow, and everything to do with idiotic driving. I feel more Pet Peeves coming on here... (The bad thing, is that all of the idiots looked Eastern European... pattern?) The tollway was clear and wet, as well as most of the neighborhood. At least we're home safely.
Saturday, December 21, 2002
Wolves 5 - Admirals 2
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The Wolves had a league-high 9 game winning streak broken last night, so it's time to start a new one. This was already the 8th game against the Admirals, and the 3rd Saturday in a row that we played them. I hate this divisional scheduling. Because of the loss yesterday and 3 games in 3 days scheduling (they play in Houston tomorrow), Coach John Anderson pulled goalie Milan Hnilicka for Norm Maracle. The game started out OK, and then gets a little scary when the Wolves let the Admirals get back into the game. Maracle stopped a penalty shot after a scramble in front of the net ensued, Norm lost the puck and Garnet Exelby jumps in and freezes it in the crease (which is illegal). The game was pretty clean, but there was a weird play in the 3rd. Simon Gamache charges and brings the puck right up to the net. A Milwaukee defenseman (didn't catch who) checks him and forces him on top of the net off his skates. Fortunately, Garnet Exelby happened to be around and he poked the puck in for the 5th goal of the game. By the end of the game, the Wolves had 13 power-play opportunities, but only scored on 2. Skates and his crew were dressed in their Christmas finery, and you know it's the holiday season when you see the Marines that are at the game manning the Toys For Tots collection areas are in the aisle dancing to "Cotton Eyed Joe". Our friend John was at the game for the first time since knee-replacement surgery the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It's was good seeing him again. So, it's time to start a new streak. We have another league-high streak going now: 8 straight home wins.
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Monday, December 02, 2002
I think the guys at the National Weather Service may want to yank their heads of their Doppler radar screens and look at the window. I'm seeing pieces of blue sky. It sure doesn't look ominous.
COOK IL-DUPAGE IL-LAKE IL-WILL IL-
945 AM CST MON DEC 2 2002
..SNOW ADVISORY THROUGH TONIGHT...
SNOWFALL OF 3 TO 7 INCHES IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE AREA BY TUES
MORNING WITH LOCALIZED HIGHER AMOUNTS NEAR LAKE MICHIGAN. 2 TO 4
INCHES IS EXPECTED BY THIS EVENING, WITH AN ADDITIONAL 1 TO 3 INCHES
Saturday, November 30, 2002
Wolves 2 - Griffins 1 - Overtime
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After still another lazy day of lounging and eating leftovers, it's back to the Allstate Arena for another Wolves game. A much cleaner game tonight compared to last Wednesday night. We had a bit of a noisy group next to us that was celebrating somebody's 50th birthday. Every time they flashed it on the scoreboard, the whole group would scream. Annoying. Anyway, the game was tied 1-1 in the first, and stayed that way until 35 seconds into overtime when J.P. Vigier scored the game winning goal. Norm Maracle stopped 35 shots and has been looking really good. An odd coincidence tonight - they showed a video piece from the Atlanta Thrashers on goalie Pasi Nurminen who was an absolute star on the Wolves last year and who is now the #1 goaltender on the Thrashers and now doing well. Right after that is when Norm gave up his only goal.
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Thursday, November 28, 2002
BLOG-A-TURKEY - Carve the turkey, enjoy the meal - 4:35 pm
BLOG-A-TURKEY - Take the bird off the grill - 3:35 pm
Another check of the temperature shows no change - so that's it. I take the turkey off the grill and bring it inside to my utility room which doubles today as turkey carving central. The washer & dryer is all setup with utensils and platters to help with the carving. The problem is - the turkey is done WAY too early. I grab aluminum foil and basically wrap the bird to keep the heat in. Normally, the turkey would sit about 20-30 minutes to complete cooking before we carve. Now, it's going to sit for about an hour. Hopefully everything will work out.
So, let's see: On the grill at 1:10, off the grill at 3:35, that's 145 minutes for a 16½ pound turkey, or 8 minutes 47 seconds a pound.
BLOG-A-TURKEY - Check the temperature - 3:10 pm
OH, CRAP! NOOOOOOOOOO!!! I went out and took the bird's temperature. I'm shooting for 180 degrees in the thigh and 170 degrees in the breast. Check one thigh - it's over 200 degrees!!! I pull the turkey off the grill to get it away from the heat and try it again. It's in the 190's. the other thigh in in the upper 170's, so the heat is uneven. I flip the bird around and leave it in just for a few more minutes, because I'm just not believing the temperature. I can't believe that a 16½ pound turkey would have been done that quickly. It doesn't feel right, but since this was a brand new chimney that holds much more coal, there's a possibility that there was much more heat and it just got done quicker. We'll see.
BLOG-A-TURKEY - Check on the turkey, start another chimney - 2:45 pm
Check the turkey, just to make sure everything is OK - and it is. Add another chimney of charcoal and more hickory. The bird is getting much darker and you can see that the skin seems to be drier and more "taut". This may cause the bird to "tear" the skin in some places (most likely near the wings, as these are going to get real crispy by the time we're done). Hold off on starting the next chimney of charcoal. We're in the home stretch now, and it's possible that this turkey is going to be done soon.
BLOG-A-TURKEY - Check on the turkey, start another chimney - 1:50 pm
BLOG-A-TURKEY - Transfer the charcoal, add the hickory, put the turkey on, start another chimney - 1:10 pm
BLOG-A-TURKEY - Transfer the charcoal, start another chimney - 12:30pm
BLOG-A-TURKEY - Prepare the hickory - 12:05 pm
BLOG-A-TURKEY - Start the first chimney of charcoal - 11:41 am
BLOG-A-TURKEY - The Start
Every Thanksgiving since we've moved out to Hoffman Estates we've held the family Thanksgiving dinner. At each of those YOUR'S TRULY has cooked the turkey. Actually, barbecued the turkey. On my Weber. Since this is the first year of my Blog, I'm going to Blog my way through the barbecuing!
Here's the subject of today's Thanksgiving dinner:
It's a 16½ pound fresh Butterball. Carol will be preparing everything else for tonight's dinner. This turkey is mine.
I went out to Walgreen's to pick up a pair of 'Ove" Gloves - made of Nomex and Kevlar. I need something to handle the hot stuff around the barbecue and my old gloves are shot. The only other things I need are charcoal, hickory (for smoking) and a charcoal chimney to get the coals going quickly and efficiently.
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Wolves 4 - Grizzlies 1
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We knew that there was going to be problems before the game when Mike, the AHL Official that runs the scoreboard, walked up the aisle and said "this is going to be ugly." By the first intermission, we all knew. In the first period, there were 90 minutes of penalties! Look at this:
First Period---None. Penalties---Jancevski, Utah (double minor-roughing), 0:29; Gosselin, Utah (misconduct), 0:29; Morgan, Utah (roughing), 0:29; Simon, Chicago (double minor-roughing), 0:29; DiPenta, Chicago (misconduct), 0:29; MacKenzie, Chicago (roughing), 0:29; Sim, Utah (roughing, misconduct), 0:54; Eakins, Chicago (interference, misconduct), 0:54; MacMillan, Utah (interference), 2:11; Ott, Utah (fighting, misconduct), 14:01; Sellars, Chicago (fighting, misconduct), 14:01; Eakins, Chicago (delay of game), 15:55.
There was something that happened that no one had ever seen before: at one point there were six
Utah players in the penalty box at the same time as five
Wolves players! Eleven players in the penalty box!
Things eventually settled-down. Yuri Butsayev
had three goals for the Wolves' first hat-trick of the season. When I was taking pictures of the penalties, I was surprised to see that that the Wolves are still wearing the "DC" stickers on their helmets in memory of NBC5 Sportscaster Darrian Chapman
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Tuesday, November 26, 2002
It snowed enough today that Ali Pozo called to see if he'll be plowing our driveway again this year. I said yes - he was already on his way over and was plowing the driveway within 10 minutes. Wow. I like this guy.
It's snowing again
I just noticed that it was getting brighter outside. No, not sun. Snow. Lake effect snow, all the way out in the northwest suburbs.
Sunday, November 24, 2002
Sunday at Diane's
We drove into the city to pick up my parents and went to my sister Diane's for dinner. (First, though, when we went to my parents' house, we had to go in to watch the Bears beat the Lions in overtime!) Dad was in surprisingly good shape for the ride and visit. It must have been one of his better days. Diane cooked a great dinner (a pork roast) and we annihilated the entire dinner. We must have been hungry or something, but there was only three pieces of pork left and absolutely nothing else. We had the dinner because we celebrated Mom's birthday (which was yesterday). There was one embarrassing moment, however. After all of these years, somehow Diane & I bought the same birthday card for mom. It started snowing while we were at Diane's, but the traffic wasn't bad going home. In fact, it was almost like people were off the roads, afraid of the snow.
Friday, November 22, 2002
Thursday, November 21, 2002
I gotta get out of this place...
Sunday, November 17, 2002
I guess it was a bit cold all day yesterday. When I woke up this morning, all of those "snow flurries" decided to accumulate on the lawns in the neighborhood! It's actually the first snowfall of the season.
Update: It all melted four hours later.
Saturday, November 16, 2002
Happy 15th Birthday, Sam
Today we went to my cousin Kathy's to celebrate a couple of family birthdays. Now, with Dad feeling the way he is, we knew he wasn't gong to go. He always had a low tolerance for kids, and that just advanced with his age. Now, with the Cancer, there's just no reason to put him through that. But what was surprising is that Dad said Mom should go. So Carol & I drove into the city to pick up Mom and drove out to Hawthorn Woods.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Looking out my front door this morning I noticed our crimson is gone. Our Burning Bush dropped it's leaves. There were three fat, fuzzy sparrows in the bush, slowly plucking the remaining leaves. I love the color of the bush and now it's gone for the season.
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.
Thursday, November 07, 2002
I live on a cul de sac. Actually, I live on a corner of a cul de sac. The corner is a school bus pickup/dropoff point for kids on out street. Since the cul de sac isn't that big, then why to parents have to not only drive their kids to the bus, but have to park in my driveway and in front of my house blocking traffic while waiting for the bus? Why? I'm not appreciative of having oil dripping from their minivans on my driveway.
Saturday, November 02, 2002
Wolves 0 - Wolf Pack 4
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Ewww... this game stunk. OH they were bad... This was the worst Wolves game I had been to in quite a while. There was no defense in this game. There's not much to say. It was bad. The only good thing had nothing to do with the game. The Wolves had a tribute to NBC SportsCaster Darrian Chapman before the game, as well as a raffle and a series of silent auctions to benefit the Darrian Chapman Children's Fund. He was one of two sportscasters in Chicago that really have a genuine interest in Hockey and the Wolves. The wolves wore little "DC" stickers on their helmets in tribute.
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Friday, November 01, 2002
Went out to grab a bite to eat for lunch, and there they were throughout the entire neighborhood.
It got cold last night - 27°, Wind Chill 8°. All (well, almost all) of the trees in the neighborhood had this huge drop of leaves. They're everywhere - streets, lawns, sidewalks. So I guess this it it. It's fall. It's cold, too. There wasn't much of a transition here, it literally just "snapped" and the temperature dropped. There's no relief in sight either.
Thursday, October 31, 2002
Halloween was actually a bit more quiet than usual this year. perhaps the cold temperatures kept kids away. Only a few cool costumes this year. The thing that struck me this year was that many of the kids were very polite and even said "Happy Halloween" when leaving. The tote board for today: 79 kids. We usually have over 100 (and yes, we actually count every kid).
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Looks like the leaves are starting to finally turn in the neighborhood (I can see it starting while looking at my WeatherCam). Chelby should be here any minute - We're going over some things that we need for her website.
Saturday, October 26, 2002
Another Lazy Saturday
A nice lazy Saturday - exactly what Carol needs. We spent the day watching the Breeders Cup from Arlington Park. It was great hearing so many people say how great the facility is. Too bad it was cloudy and cold - the place looks beautiful in the sun. A new event record was set for All Sources Handle for the Breeders' Cup - $115,523,156. $13,568,233 was handled just at Arlington. There were 6 winners of the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6, all purchased at Catskill OTB in upstate New York, with a payout of $428,392. Wow.
Just as the Breeders' Cup Classic was getting underway, paramedics pulled up at the house behind us. We never see fire department equipment in the neighborhood. Never. Looks like they took the homeowner away on a backboard with his head braced. I have no idea what happened.
Watched pieces of the World Series, Trading Spaces, and the Chicago Wolves hockey game on CLTV tonight, all at the same time (I love my remote). Wolves lost in overtime. Angels came-back and forced a Game 7. The jury is still out on Hilda Santo-Tomas (I think it was 1-1 tonight with Hildi - the huge dot portrait and the tall coffee table in Philadelphia: East Avenue just didn't work for me, but the kid's bedroom with the climbing wall and tent in Virginia: Gentle Heights Court was way cool)
Sunday, October 20, 2002
The "E" word
Friday, October 18, 2002
Wolves 4 - Mighty Ducks 3
So Carol says, "Do you want to go to the hockey game?" Of course, I have to ask "Why?" "So I can get a ring." Oh, jeez. The Wolves are giving out replica Championship Rings to the first 5,000 fans tonight. They're doing it on November 2nd, our next game (we have a 21-game Season Ticket package, and tonight wasn't one of our games), but Carol didn't believe they would give out rings on the 2nd (they are), so we go to the game. (They also are giving out Magnetic Schedules tonight, the same ones we got on opening night). So we get our rings (we have three of them now, one for each championship). They're pretty cool, but they're just not something you'd actually wear out in public. The Wolves play the Ducks again tonight (same as opening night). The teams play a much more disciplined game, but by 10:55 of the second period Frederic Cassivi stopped only 12 of 16 shots and got replaced by Norm Maracle, who stopped all 14 shots that he saw. Steve Maltais had two goals, but the Wolves lose 4-3.
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Sure enough, it started to rain pretty good - and the lawn service shows up to cut and trim the lawn. Figures.
Saturday, October 12, 2002
Raise the banner, hoist the cup
We returned to the Allstate Arena to watch the season opener of the Chicago Wolves playing the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. First off - lousy day outside - low 50's and rain. There was a big tailgate party outside with live entertainment, free hotdogs and drinks - that we just couldn't get ourselves to participate in. Walking into the arena, we noticed something missing - the AHL mandated the use of protective nets to be installed above the glass on each end of the ice. No nets. (Found out later that the nets are on backorder, and should be installed sometime next month.) Before the game, the entire team was introduced. Then, the captain, Steve Maltais skated out with the Calder Cup trophy. It was a bit weird though - they had stuck dry ice in it so it was smoking up a storm as Malts skated around the ice. The team was presented with their rings, we all watched a video of the Calder Cup playoffs, then they unveiled the banners and raised them to the ceiling. That's always a great time for a fan of any team - to watch them raise a championship banner. So, faceoff was about 27 minutes late. The game started out weak. We seem to handle the puck well, and skated well, but we were down 3-2 at the end of the second period. I don't know what happened during the second intermission, but the Wolves scored 5 goals in the final period to win 7-4.
The Chicago Wolves continued their association with the City of Chicago Department of Animal Care and Control with their Adopt-a-Dog program. They set up "Dally's Dog Pound" - named after Wolves defenseman Dallas Eakins, who is a team spokesman for the program - in the East Lobby by the Customer Service Booth during 8 games this season (last season 98 dogs were adopted). It's really cool seeing the people interacting with the dogs and making the commitment to bring one home with them.
After the game, we drove home to a pitch black neighborhood. No power! One of my computers at home had paged me that another device (not on a UPS) had stopped responding at 21:52:01. I hate having to fumble with locks in the dark, un-doing the electric garage door opener to get the car inside, and just stumbling through a dark, quiet house. The power came back at 11:20pm - no idea why it was out in the first place.
Friday, October 11, 2002
It was too nice outside today (clear skies, light breeze, 72°) to waste it - I went walking around Oakbrook Center today. Didn't buy anything, just enjoyed the weather and people watched (a good day for that). Tonight, back at home I saw the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile going west down Golf Road! I wanted to follow it to find out where it was going!
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
BAD, INDY! BAD!
BAD, INDY! BAD!
We've loved every bunny we have ever had. They make great pets, and great companions - once you realize that rabbits are not like dogs, not like cats... rabbits are like rabbits. They are not easy to communicate with. In fact, there's an entire website setup just to try to understand what they are saying through their body language.
But, what do you do when, out of the blue, your lovely pet rabbit decides that she doesn't like your carpeting and decides to tear it apart, hoping that her parents will get new carpeting?
I mean, look, after 18 years we need new carpeting. But, after being unemployed for so long, I've got no chance of replacing it. So, when we have guests over, I guess I'll have to cover the hole somehow...
Saturday, October 05, 2002
Wolves 3 - Griffins 2 - Preseason
A bright, crisp autumn day in Chicago. Carol and I had absolutely nothing planned for today, and somehow we felt like we needed to start to gear-up for hockey season, so we wound up driving to Bensenville to go to the last Chicago Wolves preseason game against the Grand Rapids Griffins. We've never been to The Edge before - what a nice facility! Two rinks, lots of parking, good refreshments, great sight-lines. The game was So much better than last Wednesday. It was refreshing to see the style of play was back to what we've seen in the past - lots of aggression, decent puck control, wonderful shot combinations.
Now, one of the aspects of these preseason games (other than seeing players that you will never see again after the next week), is that these are really community events at discount prices ($5 general admission), and a lot of families come out. The downside? Well, these are people who bring kids to the ring and don't really supervise them. So? Do you remember Brittanie Cecil at the Columbus Blue Jackets game? You go to the game, you MUST pay attention. There was a large group of 5-7 year-olds that were 7 rows up above the tunnel. There were NO adults with them. In the third period, a little boy (5 years old - maybe) got hit over the right eye with a puck. FREAKED OUT EVERYBODY. A linesman saw what happened and got upset about it, streaked across the ice to get a towel, and came back to get it to the people that were now trying to help the kid. When you see these many kids running around, and the parents not understanding what could happen, you just know that something like this would happen. It took quite a while to get some medical attention to the kid. Damn, I hate this. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!
Anyway, Wolves won 3-2.
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Wolves 1 - Admirals 8 - Preseason
OK, I'm back home. Dad's not going to the doctor - he doesn't want to. Admittedly, he's only had a little over 2 days of antibiotics to treat this thing, so it isn't changing much. He's got better color, better energy. I finally looked at the thing on his neck when the nurse was changing the dressing. Oh, Christ... I can't talk about it. It was something I've never seen before, and I just don't feel the need to discuss the gory details of what it's doing. Blech. Anyway, I think they were happy that I was there while the nurse was there - I guess it was just added support for them. Dad's still in pain, though. We'll see what's happening after a few more days.
I got home and went to get the mail, when I noticed something round and white in the middle of the front lawn. It looked like somebody had lost a ball. I went to take a look at it and it was a big, white mushroom! Had to take a picture of it - I thought it looked cool.
Monday, September 30, 2002
I can barely hear the phone ringing. I'm asleep and I hear the last ring before voicemail picks it up. I look at the clock - 7:22am. OK, that's not a damn telemarketer - who was it? I flip out of bed and look at my computer screen to see the last Caller ID message that was sent to the computers in my home network. It was Carol. OK, that means she's not home downstairs. The phone rings again and it's her. She has a flat tire and wants me to come help. So a throw clothes on, get in the car, meander through rush hour traffic to a gas station that has no air for her to use. We change the tire - first time on her Suzuki Grand Vitara, so we had to learn where all of the pieces are (jack, tire iron) and how to get the damn spare off the back of the SUV (including finding out that she has a key lock for the spare, which we didn't know about). As I'm jacking up the truck, you could see the problem clear as a bell - nail head. The entire nail is embedded in the tire. Anyway, change the tire, get her to work, get me home to collapse. Ugh. What a way to wake up...
Thursday, September 26, 2002
Last Home Game
I couldn't help it - I had to go to the White Sox game this afternoon. It was the last game of the season at home, and I felt compelled to go. Got a single ticket in the 11th row behind the plate. When I walked into the park (which was pretty empty at the time), you could tell the work on the upper deck was on it's way - all of the seats on the third base side had been covered in a blue tarp, and some scaffolding had been erected - looks like they're going to strip and paint the roof. Whoopee - new paint (too bad they don't have the money to fix the upper deck, like change the pitch, change the seating...). And speaking of new paint, the paint samples I saw Sunday night aren't the same paint samples that are there today - maybe they've gone from four colors to two in their selection process. I get some sausages (Polish with grilled onions and a Brat with kraut, which later I found out was an Italian Sausage instead) and go to my seat. Just before the game starts, this guy sits down in front of me with a bunch of equipment, and some other people are running an extension cord and some coax cable to his seat. He's working for NESN (the sports network that covers the Boston games) as a radar gun guy. this guy is definitely not a baseball fan, as he really acted like he wanted to be somewhere else all game. He must have got no more that 80% of the pitches on the gun, as he was fidgeting and bored and not paying attention. Oh, and it looked like he had pennies in his earlobes. Anyway, the game was great. Danny Wright held Boston to two hits in seven innings. Magglio Ordonez got a homerun off of first-time starter Josh Hancock. Keith Foulke got his career 100th save. Sox win 3-2. When Frank Thomas came up to bat in the eighth, the fans gave him a standing ovation - it could be his last at bat as a White Sox (because of the "Diminished Skills" clause of his contract (officially referred to as "revised payment rights") may be activated in the off-season). Then, the game was over, the season was over. I walked around the park almost by myself - there was only 12,304 in attendance and there were less people there now than when I was there last month for what could have been the last game before the strike. It was sad. I was sad to leave the place and I can't tell you why. I didn't want to leave. I just wanted to find a seat and just sit there - by myself. Me and the park. Me and Roger Bossard's turf. Me and the crappy blue seats. I felt safe. I felt comfortable. I couldn't stay - I had to go. And as I'm walking down the ramps, my eyes start to water behind my RayBans. Goodbye Comiskey. See you next year.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Well, $521.34 later, NTB installed 4 brand new Dunlop tires, balanced them and gave the car an alignment. The car rides a bit differently now - it rides better. Who woulda thunk...
Sunday, September 22, 2002
Birthday cake and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball
Went to my parents house for lunch. My sister Diane was over with Melinda so we could celebrate her birthday (remember, she was out of town on her birthday, though Carol and I already got her a present). Carol is driving this weekend since my car has that damn space-saver spare on it. I'll be getting new tires (yep, a full set) later this week. I think she's upset that she's driving, even though I've been driving to my parents and the ballpark all summer. She's pretty tired and stressed out right now. I didn't see too much of Dad. He didn't talk much, seemed tired and not as energetic as he has been. Hopefully, that was just today. His hospice nurse quit, and he has a new one - hopefully he wasn't the cause!
Hardly anybody in the parking lot when we pulled into Comiskey Park tonight, our last game of the season. The game time was moved to 7:05 just a few weeks ago, so ESPN can broadcast the game. They really bring out the equipment for the broadcast - they added 3 cameras around the plate, all remote control (one on the backstop, one at each dugout), one in straight away center, above the batter's eye for that special Strike Zone analysis shot. Plus three cameras in the regular center field position, a roving camera on the outfield concourse... Parabolic Mics everywhere in the outfield and camera wells - on guy in the camera well next to the White Sox dugout got hit with a ball - it went through the parabolic mic dish! I was looking around the park and noticed that they started test painting the concrete on the upper deck. There's four different colors, all gray. That's part of the off-season rehab. Nothing major - there's not enough money to really fix the upper deck. Did you know it would cost $4 million to replace the blue seats with green ones? It was Fan Appreciation Night - the team gave out gifts to some of the fans. We weren't one of them. The Sox SWEEP the Twins 8-2. It doesn't mean anything, as the Twins already clinched the division, but it was a show of PRIDE. Mark Buehrle got his 19th win (19-11), Frank Thomas, D'Angelo Jimenez, and Magglio Ordonez each had a home run. Afterwards, fireworks and saying goodbye to all of our Season Ticket buddies hoping to see them sitting somewhere around us next year. It was our last season ticket game this year, but I think I'll go to the Thursday afternoon game against the Red Sox, since that is the last home game. I just can't seem to let go of baseball this year...
Saturday, September 21, 2002
White Sox 14 - Twins 4
Saturday, September 14, 2002
A & W
I know this is pretty mundane (hell, that's why my Blog is named what it is), but this was just so enjoyable. Carol, late this afternoon, decides she needs to go shopping for a few things for the trip, and she invited me along (I was shocked!). Anyway, we went to Target and didn't find what she wanted, so I suggested Woodfield. So, we shopped around there and got what she wanted at, of all places, Brookstone. It was getting near dinner-time. Somehow we went over to the A&W All American Food place. We couldn't decide on the food (we had Mickey D's for lunch), so decided on just getting a mug of root beer. I WAS IN HEAVEN. I had forgotten what fresh A&W tasted like. They give you a chilled mug, and you just go over to a tapper (that's mounted on one of their old barrels) and draw your own. Wow. I remember how we used to drive just to get a gallon of Root Beer to bring home. I haven't done it since the 80's. By then, the closest A&W was up in Racine, Wisconsin. We drove up and brought back a few gallon for us. Now it looks like they have a deal at this store to get 64oz. of root beer. It's not a gallon, but damn it's a much quicker ride! I just had to sit around a bit and sip and enjoy. Just had to share that.
I got woken up by a large sound that seems to be coming from underneath the bed. When I abruptly sat up, Indy popped out from under the bed. It was after 8am, and Carol was downstairs cleaning Indy's cage. She must have lost track of Indy, because she decided to venture out into "BunnyLand" and came upstairs for a visit. I didn't sleep all that well - the skunk's odor didn't dissipate until after 2am.
Well, I got the car washed at Turtle Wax in anticipation of our little trip. Every year, since 1994, we've gone to Las Vegas either at this time of year, or in Spring, or sometime both. This year, with my unemployment situation being as bad as it is, there's no way we could go. Instead, we're doing a driving trip. We're going with Barry & Buffy up to my sister's house in Michigan, then driving over to Dearborn, Michigan to visit Greenfield Village on Monday and the Henry Ford Museum on Tuesday, then driving back to my sisters' and spending at least a day there, before driving home. Much much cheaper. We had to do Greenfield Village on Monday, since it is closing until June of 2003 for some underground restoration project.
Don't know how often I'll be able to Blog from the road - we'll have to see how this works out. We all need to get away for a while, though.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
Bulbs and mosquitoes
I really didn't want to write anything yesterday. It was just hard to be home and avoid the coverage. It was, however, a gorgeous day outside - low 70's, not a cloud in the sky. I needed to escape, but I waited for Carol to get home and we went out to Chevy's. I paid for it when I was trying to sleep last night, though. Urp... Today, another gorgeous day, but a little more clouds. Went to Home Depot to buy some lightbulbs for the outside lights. I only had 100 watt bulbs and that was over the rating for the fixtures. There are too many damn lightbulbs to chose from at Home Depot. Tonight, about 9 o'clock, the mosquito abatement truck was going through the neighborhood again. This time we didn't hear it (the generator on the back of the truck was noisy) - we saw the flashing yellow Mars light as he went by. Let's see how that West Nile Virus Tote Board stacks up - great, 314 cases, 13 deaths - both are highest in the nation. Why here?
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Getting oiled up
Since we're taking a trip next week (hey... I haven't told you about that yet, have I? I'll tell you later in the week...) I brought the car in for an oil change, change the wipers, fix a busted turn signal, top off everything, etc. at the local Jiffy Lube. Glad I did - I was a bit overdue (by about 7,000 miles)
Monday, September 09, 2002
Well, my lawn is no longer brown and "crunchy" as Carol would say. The rain that we seem to get once a week has turned the lawn nice and green and lush. Of course, that's helped by regular treatments from TruGreen - who happen to be outside right now applying... something. We were under contract for the year, so they come out regularly and do things to the lawn - fertilize, grub treatments, etc. Hopefully we can afford another year of that.
Sunday, September 08, 2002
White Sox 7 - Indians 6
Back at Comiskey. The Indians haven't had a 4-game sweep of the Sox since 1948. Great. It could happen today. The weather is hotter and hazier than yesterday. The park is emptier than yesterday - 15,067 paid. The game starts similarly - The Sox lead 2-0, only to go down 4-2, and the next thing you know, we're losing 6-3. Bottom of the 9th, 2 on, 2 out - who comes to the plate? Frank Thomas. This guy has done nothing this year. A DH with a .245 average. I can't remember the last time he's done anything in a clutch situation - strikeouts, ground outs, pop outs. What does he do? 3-run home run to tie it! Magglio Ordonez gets on base, and then Joe Crede - with two strikes against him - singles home Mags. Sox win 7-6! No sweep! And they gain a game on Minnesota
After the game, the Sox released Royce Clayton. So that's why Kenny Williams was hanging around in Jerry Reinsdorf's suite...
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.
Friday, September 06, 2002
Trying to watch the White Sox game tonight. Gracie and Indy are checking each other out - both of them really want to play with each other, not realizing how bad of an idea that really is. Gracie actually has been a good dog this week. Indy has only been out about 2 hours this week, so she's a little frantic. Tomorrow, Carol and I drop off Gracie at my parents' house on the way to the White Sox - Indians game. Diane will finally be back from her road trip out west on Monday, and she'll pick up Chelsea and Gracie when back in town. (Diane should be at Jackson Lake Lodge in the Grand Teton National Park tonight, if she's still on schedule.)
Thursday, September 05, 2002
I want to go to sleep. I can't. Gracie has decided to fall asleep on my side of the bed. On top of that, Carol has fallen asleep, remote still in hand, with her arm sprawled over my side of the bed as well. At least the TV is on TLC... there have been times when she's fallen asleep, and her thumb would twitch a bit and God knows what station would be on when I do to bed...
Monday, September 02, 2002
The Gracie Experiment
Sunday, September 01, 2002
Saturday, August 31, 2002
Season Ticket Party
Friday, August 30, 2002
Where are my feet...
I've been walking around the house with my new sunglasses on, trying to get used to this bifocal thing. I hate it. I never knew how much I've looked around without moving my head. Now I have to move my head constantly to keep things in focus. It sucks. I need to take these out on the road to see what driving is like. Think I'll go get something to eat...
Update... Well, I didn't hit anything, but these things are going to take some time to get used to. I'm just not used to having things in my field of view that are out of focus until I physically turn my head and line up the correct perscription for the distance to the object.
Thursday, August 29, 2002
Eye yi yi
It's been four years, and I've been having trouble reading - time to get new glasses. I went to LensCrafters at Woodfield to get my eyes checked and get some new glasses. I have never had my eyes dilated, so that was also in the cards tonight. That, and the god awful retinal photography that really does blind you for a while. Turns out my distance vision hasn't changed at all - it's just that closeup reading part. Think the amount of time I've spent in front of a computer all these years has taken its toll? The exams and doctor visit went well. the doctor put the drops in my eyes to dilate them and I went out to the front of the store to pick out my frames. I really didn't want to change my regular glasses too much, so I picked out a similar frame. For sunglasses, though, I wanted a change. I picked out some RayBan frames and made sure that I could get the lenses with the bifocal no-line thingy and they could, so I got my order in. I could get the sunglasses tonight (cool!) but my regular glasses would take at least 10 business days (bummer!) due to the coating I wanted on them. I went back to the doctor so he can scope of the back of my eyes while they're dilated. Then it was off to Stir Crazy Cafe for dinner while the sunglasses where finished.
On the way to Stir Crazy, we were passing a Gingiss Formalware place when I noticed this really familiar face staring at me from a poster. It took a while to figure it out, but it was Marcellas from Big Brother 3! After dinner, back to pickup my sunglasses and have Carol drive us home - having your pupils dilated is a trip and I don't think I could have handled the headlights in the dark on the way home.
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
White Sox 8 - Blue Jays 0
What an absolutely gorgeous day for a baseball game. I am so happy that I decided to go. Of course, I look like a lobster right now. At least the sunburn isn't hurting - yet. Not much of a crowd - 12,972. Saw something I have never seen before, but it's probably because I don't normally sit behind the plate - there was a bunch of scouts with radar guns watching Jon Garland and the Toronto relief pitcher Brian Bowles. I know that one of them had a Cubs logo on his polo shirt. Carlos Lee had a home run, and Magglio Ordonez had two home runs. I think I saw former Negro League's pitcher/catcher Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe sitting at the top of my section. I saw him throw out the first pitch on his 100th birthday last month, and I've seen him on TV, sitting in the same location. Anyway, Sox win 8-0. Jon Garland pitched a complete game shutout.
After the game, people didn't leave. They just slowly left, lingering in the seats, lingering on the concourse. These were the people that just didn't belive that this could possibly be the last game of the year if the players strike on Friday. The customer service reps weren't chasing anybody out either. It's as if they understood as well. I just hung out for a while and watch them shut things down. Then I slowly walked down the ramps to my car. I hope the idiots that are negotiating understand what a strike will do to the game. I'm worried.
And like I've said before, it's screwing up my clock.
Sunday, August 25, 2002
White Sox 8 - Devil Rays 3
Back at Comiskey for what may be our last game of the season (if there's a strike Friday). (Three days watching Tampa Bay was too much, so we gave away our tickets for yesterday). It was one of the Willy Wonka Kid's day promotions. One of the big things is that the entire team is available for half an hour before the game for autographs. Two or three players station themselves at the bottom of a section and people just line-up and get stuff autographed. The team does this about once a month. Oh, and kids 13 and under pay $1 to get in (day of game only) and they can run the bases (weather permitting) after the game. It's a good promotion, and does bring out the families. The game started out shaky. Tony Graffanino went down in the outfield after backup up a play. He heard something "pop", and the game ground to a halt. he was able to walk off the field after a while, but he was put on the DL. Ouch. Sox win 8-3. I know know how lucky I was on Friday to win the Sox Split Charity Raffle. Friday's pot (that I won) was $3,585, yesterday's was $2,146, today's was $1,643.
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...
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Carol - A survivor
Two years ago today, Carol's life changed, and, in turn, changed my life. We were one month short of our 21st anniversary (!). We've known each other for 25 years. During that entire time, we were never really sick. Never was in a hospital (well, I had surgery on my hand in the mid-80's, but that was just a day surgery thing).
Two years ago today, Carol had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery.
It was just LCIS - Lobular Carcinoma In Situ. Like the word "just" makes it insignificant. It was good that it was small, and in situ. The doctors kept saying it was "100 percent treatable".
The next sentence contained the words "mastectomy". It was not exactly what you want to hear, and I really fault the doctors for phrasing the entire conversation as "100 percent treatable" and getting your hopes up, when the treatment is a mastectomy. The cancer was in one breast, and LCIS is considered to be Stage Zero. It didn't spread - it was in one specific area.
Of course, we had another option - do nothing. but Carol's mom had died of breast cancer - a cancer that wound up being recurring and going undiagnosed until it was too late. Carol's had that hanging over her head her entire adult life. Doing nothing was not an option for her, she felt. She wanted the fear that she had been carrying to go away. For good. Doing one side made no sense in that regard. It had to be a double.
So, two years ago this morning, we were at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. Carol sat on the gurney in the Surgical Pre-op Area, her eyes were big like a deer in the headlights. She knew what was going to happen, she accepted it, and she was still a bit freaked out.
I had been in the surgical waiting room with Carol's brother and his wife, my bud Barry and my sister Diane during the surgeries. The surgeon came in to talk to us and reassure us that everything went very well, and very quick (just over an hour) and that the plastic surgeon was now doing his thing. We waited around a bit and sure enough, about two hours later, the plastic surgeon showed up and we talked briefly. She should be out of recovery and on her way to her room. I just had to find her.
I walked into the room alone (after I had found it). She was out but she knew I was there. She said "hi", and just kept sleeping. Well, resting with her eyes closed. She barely moved. It was good to be there and see her. Alone. It makes you realize where you are, where the two of you are. Makes you realize how lucky you both are.
The next few days were amazing to a lot of family and friends. Carol was fine. Better than fine - great. Everyone was shocked on how well she was doing. Everyone. So much so, that Carol's brother and wife were convinced she was in denial. They just couldn't accept how strong she was.
But I could. It was real.
So, life goes on. Here we are, two years later. Carol has had most of the breast reconstruction completed (the rest is "cosmetic"). We're both alive and thriving.
And I'm stronger for seeing how strong my wife has been throughout all of this.
I hope she finds the flower I left for her on the front seat of her car before she sits on it. I hope she knows how much I love her and how much I actually look up to her.
Tuesday, August 13, 2002
Well, I'm back in the middle of chauffeuring my parents to Loyola. Dad has a CT Scan scheduled for today, some blood work, and an appointment with the speech therapist.
Right now, I'm in the CT waiting area being tortured. in the corner of the small room is a TV set, blaring Jenny Jones. It's one of those shows with teens out of control - this one is about girls whose bodies have developed too soon and are just crazy for sex. Great. All I hear are teens screaming at the booing audience to shutup and bleeping. I don't know how long I can take this.
It was pouring outside. lot's of lightning. It just started in one big downpour as soon as I pulled into the parking garage here. I couldn't see outside of the garage, and the rain was blowing in sideways. It's like it's foreign - I feel like I haven't seen rain in quite a while. Our lawn at home is brown and, as Carol calls it, "crunchy". It's been a hot, dry summer. Today it's dark, windy, and pretty wet.
Thankfully, someone changes the station to a soothing "Ask Martha" instead of the screaming "Jenny Jones". Dad's CT scan is over, and we head over to Rachael, where we go through a whole therapy session on trying to get the best usage of his electrolarynx. They also work on paperwork for getting dad his own electrolarynx. Then it was a quick jaunt over to the lab to get some blood drawn.
The drive home was miserable. It had been pouring the entire time we were inside. Standing water everywhere. From the time we left Loyola to the time I got home after dropping them off was 2 hours and twenty minutes. During that period of time, O'Hare got 1.82" of rain. Oh, another little oddity: My car turned over 55,555 miles.
Symmetry. Catch it.
Sunday, August 11, 2002
White Sox 6 - Mariners 5
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.
Wednesday, August 07, 2002
Mmmm... cream puffs...
Tuesday, August 06, 2002
I just got back from the AMC 30 in South Barrington. I wanted to see a movie that Carol didn't want to see, so I caught a matinee of Austin Powers in Goldmember. I love walking into a theater just before the trailers start running and be the only person in the theater. Total number of people at the movie (including me): 6. The opening "Movie-within-a-movie" segment was hysterical. The rest of the movie really did have it's moments, but felt too much like there were specific gags just sewn together. There were two ladies sitting in the row behind me that I thought were going to wet themselves during the movie because they were laughing so hard. (It was funny, but not that funny).
Saturday, August 03, 2002
Sunday, July 28, 2002
White Sox 4 - Royals 2
Saturday, July 27, 2002
White Sox 9 - Royals 1
Driving to Comiskey today was rough - there was a ton of traffic because of Venetian Night at the lakefront. It was a hot night - game time temperature was 90°, but the official box score said 84°. After the bottom of the first inning, we're sitting in our seats and we head this hearing and applause coming from the top of the next section over. We turn around to see... a bride and groom walking down the aisle! Their whole bridal party was there, parents, everybody. The bride still had her bouquet, but even though the groom was in his tux, it was topped-off with a Sox baseball cap. Then, in true baseball fan form, the groom sat down next to someone in the next section so that he could fill out his scorecard for the plays he missed in the first inning!!! The game wound-up being a blowout - the Sox won 9-1 over the Royals. Magglio Ordonez had 2 homeruns, Tony Graffanino and Aaron Rowand each had a homerun, and Carlos Lee had 2 doubles. It was our first time seeing Willie Harris. He didn't do much tonight (1 for 4 and an error). But ever since he joined the team, they're doing well (they won 10-2 last night). Coincidence?
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.
Friday, July 26, 2002
Indy was looking cute again this afternoon. I had to post another pic. She's being a brat, though, and will be spending a bit more time in her condo tonight.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
One less second baseman
Nooooooooo!!!!! The White Sox traded Ray Durham to Oakland (along with cash!) for minor league pitcher Jon Adkins. They called-up Willie Harris to replace Ray-Ray. Damn. Sounds like GM Kenny Williams is starting to throw in the towel. Ray had the second-longest tenure with the Sox.
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Penalty Box Police baseball
Monday, July 22, 2002
Saturday, July 20, 2002
Friday, July 19, 2002
So, I was out and about this afternoon, looking for a few things. I noticed that the road construction is changing things around next week. That should screw-up traffic for a few days, at least.
Went to the White Hen in the neighborhood and was ecstatic that I found Green River in the cooler!!! I love this stuff - it caffeine-free (good for late-night drinking, when you don't have to be awake). You just don't find this stuff everywhere.
Carol just got home - her streak is broken. For the past 13 weeks, Carol has lost weight at each of her Weight Watchers weigh-ins. She's now lost 20.4 pounds! (She's upset that she was weighed-in on a different set of scales today that showed her up .2 pounds, breaking her streak). The woman that runs her meetings has this bead-thing, where you get a bead for each pound you lose. Carol strung together 20 of them and they're on the refrigerator as a reminder. (I guess the leader got a kick out of what one of Carol's co-workers did - when she gained a pound she put a bead back! Apparently, nobody had done this before.) Her whole group from her office has lost 157 pounds between 7 people as of this past week). Way to go Carol! I'm proud of ya!
Monday, July 15, 2002
Project Management from Above
So, after spending a long day traveling and watching baseball, I had to roll out of bed early (not as early as yesterday) and pretend I was a commuter again. I hopped on Metra and to the train downtown. My buddy Joe let me sit in on a Project Management class he was teaching for his company. I felt like I was exercising mental muscles that I haven't used in a very long time. It was an all day lecture (he even made me do the classroom team exercises!), with lunch. It was a great class. Reminded me of the times we worked together back at Brunswick. It was a bit weird being a "guest" in a class of 18 people, the rest being actual employees of the company. Project Management has always been my weakest skill. This helped me a bit.
After hanging around in Joe's office for a bit (with a very nice view of Millennium Park), I decided to start my journey back. I walked to Union Station because I wanted to stop by Millennium park to see the Earth from Above exhibit that everyone has been raving about (especially Dawn at a.lifeuncommon.org). Wow. This was really something to see. It's not just the individual pictures, which are from around the globe and very interesting to see, but it's the entire collection of the images that was so interesting. I must have spent an hour over there just looking around. Well, that and buying some postcards in the gift shop. Then, the long walk to Union Station, and the long ride home (that was lengthened by "switch problems). Feels long a long two days. I'm not used to this!
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 13, 2002
Gorgeous day for some bulls
GORGEOUS day outside. Did nothing all day (watched Big Brother feeds for a while and posted some transcripts). Drove to my parents for dinner. The Northwest Tollway is getting lanes reconfigured again during reconstruction. Good thing - construction is half over! Bad thing - construction is only half over. The new lane configurations typically throw off traffic for days. We'll see how it goes.
Back home, I'm watching the Running of the Bulls from Pamplona on ESPN2. Strange event, but it's a car wreck (or in this case, bull wreck) - you can't help but to watch!
Tomorrow is going to be interesting - Carol and I along with our White Sox Season Ticket Buds Janie, Gary, and Jeff are flying to Detroit to go to Comerica Park to see the White Sox play the Tigers. Sox have lost three in a row to the last place Tigers, and I'm not looking forward to the game itself, but we're going to see the park (We love seeing new ballparks. Janie & Gary have seen almost all of the new ones). We fly up there in the morning and fly back at night. Can't wait to see how the day turns out!!!
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.
Friday, July 05, 2002
A family vacation
Sunday, June 30, 2002
White Sox 2 - Cubs 9
Back at Comiskey. Hot. No, HOT! Game time temperature - 91°. Heat index 103°. Oh, this is bad. On top of that, we've got too many Sox fans getting cocky and bringing brooms into the park, hoping for a sweep in the series. And now there's way too many Cubs fans here today, and they're the mean, venomous ones that I always hate coming into my ballpark. Sure enough, Sox lose 9-2 (but, I have to hand it to Matt Clement - he pitched a great game). Sure enough, security is very active today and there are fights in the stands at the top of our section. Time to leave early to go to my parents for dinner. Too hot, too ugly.
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.
Thursday, June 27, 2002
Let's go to the zoo, Mom!
Time for another family outing. I picked-up my Mom, drove to my sister Diane's house again, and this time we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I haven't ben there in at least 20 years. It's a "quaint" zoo. It's really not as big as people think. We had lunch first at Café Brauer and watched the paddleboats on the lagoon. There were a lot of kids in the zoo, mostly from day camps and other organized summer programs. It seemed that anywhere we went, either we couldn't find any of the "larger" animals. They were either all sleeping, or they were just "somewhere else" (they weren't inside a building or outside a building). We went to see the seals - I think there were two. I somehow remember a lot more seals. What's the deal? Now, to be fair, half of the Great Apes were shipped out to do a staged rehab of their enclosures, and all of the elephants, rhinos, and giraffes are gone because they are rehabbing/building a new Regenstein African Journey, and the Farm-in-the-Zoo is all torn up and being rebuilt, so I guess there wasn't a lot to see. While outside the tiger exhibit, I saw some kids playing around one of those 25-cent telescope things that you can use to get close-up views of the big cats. Well, I thought I'd try it and sure enough - it worked! You can use those telescopes with your digital camera! Just Put the camera up to the telescope and zoom in (optical zoom, not digital zoom) and shoot! Cool. I'll have to remember this.
The most entertaining part of the day was watching the polar bears. There was an underwater observations area with a bunch of windows so you can watch the bears swim. There was one bear that was always swimming around the glass. Diane and I were watching him, because he was very active, constantly swimming around. We noticed that he was really looking at some of the people. Then we realized that he was really looking at the children and just passing by the adults. He would even stop and size-up the kids. I even saw him lick the glass by one girl's leg! That's when we realized he thought the kids were seal pups! He was sizing them up as prey! It was, um, entertaining. It was a nice day and we were at the zoo for hours. It was nice being out and walking in the sunshine and looking at the animals. A nice 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.
Sunday, June 23, 2002
Went back to Streets of Woodfield to go to the Loews theater there. It's not normally a place we go, but we have gift certificates, so this is perfect for being on a budget. We went to see Minority Report. Another great Spielberg picture. What did I like? Everything, but specifically for a film to be set 52 years into the future, the day-to-day technology used was (I think) very plausible (ignoring the existence of "pre-cogs" and the technology to "read" what they "see"). Well, except when I see Ed Witwer (Colin Farrell) sit down at John Anderton's (Tom Cruise) desk/cubicle... and realize that's the last cube/desk I had at marchFIRST!!! I'm not sure about retina scanning from the distances that were shown (like for the custom advertising, which I totally believe will come some day. I even thought the cereal box was pretty cool, too.) So, what do you do for a cheap meal after the movie? Why, popcorn chicken from KFC, of course!
Saturday, June 22, 2002
Thursday, June 20, 2002
The incredible edible egg
Carol doesn't let me go grocery shopping with her. Since I don't do it often, when I do have the opportunity to actually stroll up and down the aisles at a store, I'm always lagging behind her with a" Hey! look at that..." or a "Ooooo... that looks gooood....". We were going through a dairy section recently when I saw something that for some reason just made me confused. Eggs. Vegetarian eggs. Ok, some vegans don't eat eggs, right? So maybe that's why I feel "jarred" reading the carton. Vegetarian eggs? Then this week's Time Magazine (June 24, 2002) has one of their great graphics (page 75) demystifying - eggs! Sure enough, Vegetarian eggs are produced by hens whose feed has no animal by-products. OK. Apparently, there's also Natural, Cage Free, Free Range, Organic, and Nutritionally Enhanced eggs as well, making up a total of 5% of all eggs consumed in the U.S. Who knew?
Thursday, June 13, 2002
The "Family Outing"
Today was "Family Outing" day. I drove into the city and picked-up my mom, and then drove to my sister Diane's house in Bucktown. We are spending the day together. The first stop - lunch. We went a few blocks over to a corner bar called the Lincoln Tavern. Typical corner bar. We walk in and go to the back of the bar. There's a few tables there. But Diane doesn't stop - she makes a right after the bar, goes through this little vestibule area and we wind up on the first floor of the three-flat next door! There are tables, a fireplace, and it's decorated like a kitschy hunting lodge. We order lunch. I get a steak sandwich (which was surprisingly good!). When you order a Coke, you get a can and this little glass filled with ice - so little, you can fill it three times before you empty the can!
After lunch, we drive to the Garfield Park Conservatory. There is an exhibit there - Chihuly in the Park: A Garden of Glass by Dale Chihuly. Who is Dale Chihuly? If you have ever been there, he is a artist that designed the ceiling sculpture (called FIORE DI COMO) for the lobby of the Bellagio in Las Vegas. He is an artist that works in glass. I've never been to the conservatory, so I was an interesting walk. But it was really cool (almost like a Easter Egg Hunt) to walk through the whole place to find all of the Chihuly glass sculptures! Some are just out in the open, others hidden behind plants, some floating in water. Some pieces were actually designed for the specific plant and are almost integrated into them. Very cool! The exhibit runs through September 8. If you're in Chicago, this is a unique exhibit that you must see before it leaves.
Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Off to Woodfield tonight. Carol has an eye doctor appointment at LensCrafters and she's going to be buying glasses afterward. I along for the trip for supervision. She's getting her eyes dilated for the first time tonight, so I thought I had better accompany her. I mean, she could get into trouble wandering the mall by herself. I was apprehensive about doing this tonight. My unemployment situation has started causing a big money situation, and paying for glasses right now doesn't feel right. I just seems that it could be deferred for a while, though the both of us are struggling reading and doing up-close work. We've got coupons and there's $99 sale signs everywhere. Carol does the doctor and dilation thing and comes out a struggles to pick out frames she likes - one regular, one sunglass. The whole thing, appointment, lenses, frames, etc with discounts and coupons comes out to a whopping $788.34!!!!! We walk the mall for the regulation "glasses in an hour" timeframe. I'm stunned and a bit worried. Carol doesn't appear to be too worried. I'm thinking that my turn for glasses should really get deferred for a while.
While we're walking around, Carol still saying "cool" every once in a while when her dilated eyes catch some lights is a display case, when I hear somebody say, "hey! what's going on over there?" I turn to look and it's Victoria's Secret. A sign outside says there's a $9.99 bra sale going on. I've never seen so many women handling so much lingerie before. The place is mobbed. I can't divert my eyes. I'm entranced. Carol pulls me away saying her glasses are ready. Back to LensCrafters, pickup the glasses, get them adjusted, and we leave to go home and watch The Mole.
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.
Me on the tollway
My first Mirror Project submission - it's just something from back in March that I put up here in my blog.
Friday, June 07, 2002
Carol came home from work without any dinner plans. I had a hankerin' for some stir fry, so we went to my most favorite place near us - Stir Crazy at Woodfield Mall. I love going there (I love Flat Top Grill, too, but there aren't any out by us - actually I think I like it better, specifically the way they charge for the dishes, except when I was there they were missing one specific ingredient that I must have - water chestnuts). I love being able to pick out exactly what you want in the stir fry. And I always believe in one thing - if you don't like it, it's your fault since you put it together. Had some chicken pot stickers as an appetizer. Carol had garlic chicken, and I had a stir fry with steak and lo-mein noodles plus whatever I can scrounge at the vegetable bar (heavy on the water chestnuts, with a walk through some snow peas, red peppers, green onions and whatever hit me. Yum. We walked around the mall a bit for exercise afterward. That, and Carol had to go Payless Shoes for three pairs of shoes. Sigh.
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.
Monday, June 03, 2002
Chicago Wolves 2002 Calder Cup Champions
Let me start by saying - I'm glad I'm going to the doctor tomorrow to get back on my blood pressure medication! The crowd was even louder, up from 5,022 Thursday and 9,115 Friday to 15,132, the second largest in the 66-year history of the AHL. Steve Maltais get's two goals in the first period only 2:15 apart. It feels good. In the second period, Malts gets another goal for the hat trick. Ooo, this is feeling good. Then Bridgeport scores a goal. And then another. And then another. Crap - it's the end on two periods and it's all tied 3-3. The officials start letting the players go - the penalties are stopping and the crowd is going nuts. Third period - no penalties, also no scoring. We go into overtime, and then something ugly happens. No one sees it because it happens behind the play, but Dallas Eakins is laying flat on his back with his arms outstretched, not moving at all. AT ALL. And Nobody sees him in the corner. NOBODY. The officials never blow the whistle, no team member comes over, play is at the other end of the ice. Pasi doesn't even go over to him. The crowd goes nuts. THEN the whistle blows, and Bridgeport's trainer is first to Dallas with other Wolves team members. The place goes quiet. the team doctors come up the tunnel. Next thing we know, Dallas is up and going back to the bench! No penalties were called. In fact, again, no penalties that period. No scoring that period either! We go into the second overtime. Then, at 2:05 into the second overtime, Yuri Butsayev scores the winning goal and the Wolves win the Calder Cup during their first year in the league. Well, the place went up for grabs at that point. I've never seen so much hugging and high-fives amongst the fans before. The team is going nuts on the ice. Then, of course, the obligatory handshakes. And then the red carpet gets rolled out, a table setup, and the trophies are walked out. Pasi Nurminen is awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the Calder Cup Playoffs' most valuable player. The Calder Cup is then presented to the team captain, Steve Maltais. Then the streamers and confetti rain down, Queen's "We Are The Champions" starts playing, and the team takes turns, passing the cup around player to player to allow them to skate part of a victory lap around the ice and show the fans.
Yes, I know it's only a minor league team, but in a town like Chicago, you grab what you can. And having a cup is, as Martha would say, a "good thing."
Sunday, June 02, 2002
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.
Friday, May 31, 2002
Wolves 4 - Sound Tigers 2
Back for Game 4 at the Allstate Arena. Bridgeport scored first tonight, and it was just a real flat game. A lot of tickey-tackey penalties. It just was going back and forth, pretty evenly - it was 1-1 after the 1st, 2-2 after the second. Then things started getting turned up a bit. The crowd was loud, up from 5,022 Thursday to 9,115 tonight. Rick DiPietro showed that he hasn't been going to his "Wandering Goalies Anonymous" meetings. Somehow, the kid thinks he need to play every puck that comes near him. We just need to remember that - and I think we do - to see how we can capitalize on it. Brad Tapper tipped in a slapshot from the high slot by Dallas Eakins. Andreas Karlsson had an empty netter that he struggled to get working over a Bridgeport defender, and actually got kicked by Ricky, who was sitting on the wall and not on the bench. Pasi Nurminen saved 29 of 31 shots while Ricky only saved 14 of 17 shots. We lead 3-1 in the series and actually have a possibility of winning the Calder Cup at home on Monday! How unlike me - a bit too optimistic, but it'd be pretty cool.
Thursday, May 30, 2002
Wolves 4 - Sound Tigers 0
What a game - what a game - what a game! Back again at the Allstate Arena, this time for the third game of the AHL Calder Cup Finals. I'm still in shock that the Wolves are actually playing for the cup. The series is tied 1-1. I was hoping that the team can really take it to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (and what the hell is a Sound Tiger? The logo says Sound Tigers and not Tigers). I really wanted to see the team stick it to "Ricky". Ricky is Rick DiPietro that I talked about last week. As much as I thought Jean-Francois Labbe, the goalie for Syracuse Crunch was nuts, I think Ricky is just a punk kid whose ego is much larger than his current ability. Well, we got to him all right. He was making mistakes all night. Once, he went behind the net and half-nelson'ed one of our players, so he got a penalty for interference. Later, while there was a "fire drill" (Judd Sirott's words) in front of his net, Ricky was swimming and flopping around on the ice. He turned his back to the play to try to get up and yep, we scored on him. Later on in frustration, to clear the puck out of the zone, he threw it up in the air and took a full swing at it to send it down the ice - just a real cocky move. So we stuck it to them - the Wolves won 4-0. How sweet - we had a shutout, and we were able to score 4 times on Ricky. Aw, poor Ricky. Pasi Nurminen stopped all 28 shots (Ricky stopped 19 of 23). The crowd, though not as big I would have wished, was loud, and I know that helped the team (they've made a lot of comments in the press about wanting to play at home and having loud and involved fans. Guess we did our job tonight. I hope we can keep this up. (Boxscore)
Monday, May 27, 2002
White Sox 6 - Yankees 10
Went to Comiskey today. We suck. The Yankees beat us 10-6 (hey... this is sounding familiar...) OK, let's talk about the positive side of the night - there was a tribute to former White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura (it was his first trip back to Comiskey since 1998 - he's been in the National League playing for the Mets, and this year he plays for the Yankees). Everyone gave him a standing "o" and he came out to acknowledge the crowd. It was great. Oh, and Frank Thomas celebrated his 34th Birthday.
OK, let's talk about the bad side of the evening. We get there an hour & a half before the game - normally enough time. Tonight, the parking lots are full. Tonight's attendance - 43,781. We're not used to people actually being at the park! And the inflation in the attendance was all due to Yankee fans. Not just Yankee fans, those goddam sombitch arrogant friggin' big-mouthed Yankee fans. I hated every single one of those bastards. It's one thing to root for your team, it's another thing to antagonize the people around you, the friggin' bastards. Another way to tell that the increase in attendance wasn't due to White Sox fans? They were doin' the friggin' wave in the upper deck!!! You don't go to a damn baseball game in Chicago (even on the North Side) and do the friggin' wave!!!!!!!! Fights? Oh, sure. I saw a lot of people getting hauled out of the park - something we don't normally see. Screw you, you damn Yankee fans. Get the hell out our ballpark... Oh, and Carol almost attacked some blonde bimbo that was sitting behind us, but that's another story. She did lose it, though. I was a bit concerned. Anyway, Danny Wright gave up 6 runs on 5 hits in the first inning on 39 pitches. That was the game - if it wasn't for the first inning, the outcome would have been different. Jose Valentin twisted his ankle on a grounds crew hose when going after a foul ball. He's day-to-day now. The guy that's bothering me right now is Magglio Ordonez. He's not base running well - he seems to be giving up on double-play balls, making no attempt to get to first (in case someone bobbles the ball, which happened tonight) or at least attempt to take out the shortstop/second baseman. I don't know, it just doesn't feel right. Anyway, we were glad to get the hell out of Comiskey tonight.
Sunday, May 26, 2002
White Sox 2 - Tigers 9
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.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Today was the day that I took my parents back to Loyola to see Dr. Emami about the results of Dad's CT Scan that he had last week, to see how the radiation treatments went. The 3:00 appointment slowly turned into the 4:00 appointment. Dad, who at the ripe old age of 88, doesn't like waiting at all and it was aggravating him. When we finally got in, we found out his blood pressure was 160/92 - not good. He worked himself up pretty well. He says that the reason why it's so late is because there is bad news. I try to settle him a bit and say we don't know that. And you know what? We don't We have no idea if the radiation did anything.
Dr Emami comes in and looks at the report. He says the major tumor in the throat has been reduced by amount one half, and that all of the others have been reduced as well. Not only that, but there's no new growths in the radiation area, and that the tumors can actually reduce in size a bit more over the coming weeks or remain stable. This is good - the radiation treatments have achieved about 70-80% of what we were hoping for. OK, now for the bad news - "there are several new growths in the right upper lobe and right middle lobe" of his lung. Dad needs to see Dr. Clark for a consultation to see what can be done, if anything. Dr. Clark is both an Oncologist and internist and he should be able to figure out how to proceed. Makes sense - we're past radiation treatments (the growths are too scattered and radiation can't be done - it would probably "knock out the lung before knocking out the tumors").
All in all, a mixed bag. I feel good about the radiation treatments. I guess it's a matter about those other pesky growths. We'll find out a little more next month when we see Dr. Clark. On the drive home, we feel a little better. I know Dad can't handle chemo - that would be really hard on him at 88. I know he won't agree to it. But we need to find out options and figure out what's happening. Hopefully, we won't think about it until next month. In the meantime, Dad & Mom seem to feel better, and though it may be a bit misguided, I feel good that they feel good. It'll help them through the next month.
The drive home is a mess. I haven't driven in rush hour traffic in a year and I don't miss it a bit. I made a mistake on the way home. I took the Northwest Tollway. That wasn't the mistake. I took this new temporary express lane that has no exits until 53 in Schaumburg. It's a single lane with no shoulders. As I was standing still in the express lane looking over at the free-flowing traffic in the "local" lanes, I'm wondering why I did this. I won't do that again. It's nice having multiple lanes just in case some LAC (Law Abiding Citizen) is just moving a bit too slow. Sheesh.
Sunday, May 19, 2002
Wolves 7 - Aeros 0
Saturday, May 18, 2002
White Sox 10 - Angels 4
So it's, what, May 18? It's 48° at game time tonight. Mother Nature is screwing us yet again. Carol and I go to the park and head directly for the Stadium Club and get seats on the rail (not on the glass, but great seats anyway). This is why we spend the money for the Stadium Club - for shelter from cold, rain, and excessive heat. Around the 5th inning I take a trip downstairs and get our buddy Victor (otherwise known as The Diz on WGCI 107.5 FM) (who sits next to us) and Jeff & his date (who sit next to Victor) and rescue them from the cold with the warmth of the Stadium Club. As far as the game, well, Frank Thomas had two home runs, Paul Konerko and Jose Valentin each had a home run as the Sox win 10-4 over the Angels. Pitching was scary again. Gary Glover got the win. Kelly Wunsch made his first appearance after missing almost a year with arm surgery. He faced 3 batters and only threw 9 pitches with one walk and one hit. Rocky Biddle, Damaso Marte, Antonio Osuna and finally Bob Howry all pitched. Sounds and feels a bit excessive.
Friday, May 17, 2002
Wolves 2 - Aeros 1
I really don't know how Pasi Nurminen keeps doing it! The Wolves won 2-1 of the Houston Aeros and now lead the series 3-1. Officiating - crap, as usual for the AHL. Very uneven all season. Tonight, just 1:34 into the first period, Dan Snyder got mauled at center ice behind the play. Referee didn't see it. So Danny goes back, puts his stick between the aggressors' legs, and yanks straight up. Guy hits the ice. Referee didn't see it, but a linesman does. Danny gets a Five Minute Spearing penalty along with a game misconduct, because they think it was with intent to injure. Great, there goes one of out leading scorers, whose scored game winning goals in 4 playoff games. Somehow, we still survive. Pasi stopped 34 shots, and the one he didn't was a weird wrap-around where Pasi was down on the ice on the other side. Just looked weird. Finally had 7,035 people instead of the usual 2,000.
Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Wolves 4 - Aeros 1
Here we go again... Back again at the Allstate Arena, this time for the third game of the AHL Western Conference Finals. I'll be honest with you, and I think I've alluded to this a few times before, I am very surprised at being here. I didn't think a seventh seed team, that wasn't playing well, would make it this far in the playoffs. This is a best-of-seven series against our old IHL nemesis - the Houston Aeros. How much of a nemesis? In the old IHL, Chicago won the Turner Cup in 1998. Houston won it in 1999. Chicago won again in 2000 (after beating Houston in the Conference Final), and as far as 2001 is concerned - well, we lost the Turner Cup to the Orlando Solar Bears. But, the Solar Bears disbanded and did not make it into the AHL. However, The Solar Bears NHL affiliate was the Atlanta Thrashers - the new affiliate for the Wolves this year, so we have a few players from that Turner Cup team as well (like Turner Cup winning goaltender Norm Maracle, Dan Snyder and J.P. Vigier). The Wolves have met Houston in the Conference Finals three times in four years. Enough of the history. The series is tied at 1-1. The Wolves won tonight 4-1 with some brilliant goaltending by Pasi Nurminen. Man, I love this guy.
After the game, walking to the car, we got a little scare. The Allstate Arena is right under the approach to runway 22R at O'Hare - and I mean right under the approach. If you've ever been there, watching the planes coming in is great. I do it all the time when I'm there. It's something I've actually done all my life - watching airplanes. Plane spotting (as opposed to Train Spotting). When I was in grade school, I would take the O'Hare Express bus from Jefferson Park to the airport just to walk around and watch. (Now, of course, the Blue Line El goes there directly, but not back in those days). Over time, you know traffic flows. You know the airlines that serve ORD, you know their fleets. Just like any other hobby, or a fan of something, over time, you learn and you just know. I was watching traffic coming into ORD on the way to the game, noticing that they were using 22R and 14L. When we came out, I could see the traffic in the dark lined up. But something isn't right. There's and aircraft coming in, amd I can't recognize what it is because it's moving fast and it has only a single landing light. There's no strobes, only blinking red & green marker lights. Then as it flies very low overhead I can see it as light reflects up at it's underbelly... it's a damn F-15 landing at O'Hare... That's weird. And then I look down the approach path again, and I see another aircraft, this time no landing light, just the green/red lights. Another F-15... But this time, right over the Allstate Arena, it breaks right and pulls away... what the hell is going on??? I never found out. A few minutes later, a Continental 737-700 comes over and lands normally. The traffic around the airport looks normal. It was a little scary seeing military now a days.
Monday, May 13, 2002
Crabs, pretzels, pens and tears
Birthday Dinner tonight was just at Joe's Crab Shack. Carol felt that seafood would be good for points for her diet, so Joe's it was. Food was OK. Then it was one of those things that you've got a stop to make on the way home, and the next thing you know it's three stops. First - IKEA, looking for halogen bulbs for some under counter lighting we had bought there a few years ago. No dice - they didn't have any 10 watt bulbs that we needed (20 & 50 watt, no 10 watt). Then off to Costco, since it was near there for some pretzels (long story, but little boxes of Bachman Pretzel Stix are a childhood favorite) and Pepcid AC - no dice with the Pepcid. Then I noticed Carol is looking at the business supplies for some pens. She's very fussy about her pens, even buying them herself to take to work. Well, they didn't have anything to her satisfaction, so I offered that we should go to OfficeMax. Off to OfficeMax for pen shopping, then, finally, back home. I had bought Carol a couple of DVD's for her birthday and some cards, all of which I had snuck down to the garage last night and placed on the driver's seat of her Grand Vitara. Turns out, I made her cry, so I guess I did OK. Happy Birthday, Carol!
Sunday, May 12, 2002
We spent the day at my sister's (Diane) to celebrate Mother's Day. She lives in Bucktown and I just love her house. Since it's been raining this whole damn weekend, Diane couldn't grill-up anything on the barbecue outside, so we ordered Italian from Club Lucky, just a few blocks away. Again, more good food - just a bit too much of it. Had another good time just sitting around talking.
Saturday, May 11, 2002
Steak and Friends
Sunday, May 05, 2002
White Sox 2 - Athletics 3
Saturday, May 04, 2002
White Sox 10 - Athletics 2
Sunday, April 21, 2002
White Sox 11 - Tigers 8
Such a cold, windy, rainy day... let's go to a baseball game! 43°. Thank God we made reservations for a window seat up in the Stadium Club bar at Comiskey. It felt good knowing that we could go to the park and not worry about how to dress for the weather. We got there early and got a good seat. Had a great lunch (the food is always good - the facility is handled by Levy Restaurants).
The game was "iffy" again. Oh, sure, we scored 8 runs in the first inning (Jose Valentin had a home run, and Tigers starter Jose Lima only lasted 2/3 of an inning), but that doesn't mean anything anymore when you have a questionable starting pitcher. Today it was Jon Rauch (who is now officially the tallest player to ever play in the majors at 6' 11"). Well, those 8 runs weren't very secure as Rauch gave up 8 runs in 4 innings. I still don't know how a pitcher can feel the ball and control it in weather situations like this. Finally, in the 7th, Ray Durham came up to pinch hit with the bases loaded (he was out of the lineup with a chest cold - yesterday he had an ingrown toenail dug out. Ew.) and hit a single (which was misplayed by Tigers LF Bobby Higginson) that scored 3 runs and gave us the game. Whew. Watching the game from behind the glass sure made the game more enjoyable.
Went to my parents' house for dinner. I jealous again - my sister is going to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival next weekend. She always goes to great destinations for these great little getaways.
Watched the Wolves on cable TV and they won against Grand Rapids and advance to the Calder Cup Western Conference Semifinals! We never thought they would go further in the playoffs! They now play the Syracuse Crunch (the number 1 seed) in a best-of-7, but we don't know when.
Saturday, April 20, 2002
White Sox 12 - Tigers 5
Another weekend at Comiskey Park. Today, other than the game against the Tigers, was Dog Day. People (with advance paperwork) can bring their dogs to the park for the day. There's a pre-game parade, the dogs and owners all sit together in their own section of the bleachers, and the outfield concourse is loaded with tables from local humane and pet organizations. It really is a fun time. For the last few years, it was held in August. There have been days where the temperatures were pretty high, and the dogs didn't fare very well being out in all that concrete in this heat. The Sox decided to change the date this year to April to help with the comfort level.
April is not the correct month to do this.
The day was miserable. Gametime temperature - 45°. Wind - 20 mph. Windchill in the 20's. This is not baseball weather. We got there early to look at the dogs as they entered the park at Gate 1. We went inside and it was pretty empty. The pre-game parade was one of the longer ones that I can remember. I also used to remember a costume judging aspect to all this - they must have stop doing that since we didn't hear anything about the winners.
The game started out a little rough. Jon Garland didn't have the command of his pitches. But then again, how can a pitcher really feel the ball when you're pitching with windchills in the 20's? Again, the Sox offense was unbelievable. Jose Valentin, Frank Thomas, and Magglio Ordonez had home runs and Paul Konerko hit a Grand Slam.
By the end of the 6th inning we had enough of the weather and went upstairs to the Stadium Club to watch the rest of the game and get a quick bite. We made reservations for seats on the glass for tomorrow - the weather is actually supposed to be worse.
The Sox won 12-5. They now have the highest team slugging percentage in all of baseball at .509 and highest team batting average at .316. Pitching, well... 5th in the AL 18th in baseball with a 4.39 ERA., third in the AL in Fielding Percentage but 14th in all of baseball. It's obvious we're all offense. We need the pitching to come around, but that's something we saw during spring training. All I want right now is to either stay tight to the division leader or get on top and get some room between us and the rest of the division.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
Sorry. Not a winner.
7 10 25 26 27 +23... OK, time to look... since I have a bunch of old tickets, I went to the local White Hen and used their scanner (they have a scanner that scans the bar code on the ticket and looks up the numbers for you. Nuts. No winners. Not even a buck or two. The Big Game is being replaced by Mega Millions, with tickets going on sale May 15 and the first drawing on May 17. Hmmm... Mega Millions? Let's see... In Big Game you choose five numbers from 1 to 50 and select one Big Money Ball number from 1 to 3. Odds of winning: 1 in 76,275,360. In Mega Millions you choose five numbers from 1 to 52 and select one Gold Mega Ball number from 1 to 52. Odds of winning: 1 in 135,145,920. So, you have larger jackpots because they are harder to win so they rollover more often!
Monday, April 15, 2002
Do you remember our hot water heater replacement last month? Well, when that full hot water heater hit the lawn, the hot water and god-knows-what sediment poured out onto the lawn. I think I can now say that the lawn is officially dead. I don't know how I'll get it back since I'm not sure what caused it - the heat or the crud.
Sunday, April 14, 2002
White Sox 9 - Orioles 4
Saturday, April 13, 2002
Hey! It's Lisa!
White Sox 4 - Orioles 3
Friday, April 12, 2002
White Sox 5 - Orioles 2 - Home Opener
Another long day, but baseball started at Comiskey and I felt that "clock" that moves move life start ticking again. We were pretty excited to see what the new renovations looked like at the Park. There was four things that were done over the winter - the first we wouldn't be able to see, and that was the enclosure and rehab of the Club level concourse and concessions. Another renovation was minor, but was put to the test during the game - a new backstop. This one is a much finer mesh and it's just a vertical screen - there is no longer a net to cover the people behind the plate. If there's a foul ball behind the plate, people now must pay attention because the net won't save them!
The other two renovations were hard to miss. The old black aluminum "Batter's Eye" in center field was torn apart and rebuilt to include plantings (bushes and IVY). On top is a large plaza area that had a series of picnic tables. To block any distraction of the fans from the batters, is a large green nylon "screen" that lined the plaza area. It's difficult to see people moving behind the screen, so the batters shouldn't be distracted. The problem is that the screen is pretty hard to see through. You can sort of see the field, but it's almost impossible to see the ball.
The biggest renovation and the one that we were really excited about was the main concourse. Everything was redone in brick and aluminum, with new lighting, signage and new designs for all the concession stands - it totally changed the feel of the park when you were walking around. It was amazing. It's gorgeous, and it's in the right "direction" to change the over all look of the park. And then I heard on the radio the one thing that I've wanted for years that I think will be the biggest change to the look of the park: in the future, the seats and padding on the walls will be changed from blue to dark green! YES!!! You'll see more pictures of the rennovations in the next couple of games. For some reason, they've named most of the concession stands after former White Sox players
So, what about the game?, Oh yeah, the Sox won 5-2 over the Orioles. Mark Buehrle pitched 7 innings of 2-hit ball (he's now 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA). Home runs by Jose Valentin, Sandy Alomar Jr., and Ray Durham. Kenny Lofton was 3-for-3 with a walk. Keith Foulke got another save, but he's still looking shaky - he gave up 2 hits in the 9th, and his ERA is still high at 6.35, which isn't good for a closer. There were a lot of questionable calls from the entire umpiring crew, that almost made it feel like there was a conspiracy against us. Weird. And, in typical White Sox fan fashion - not a sell out, but 41,128 were there. The game lasted only 2:24, which was great. (ESPN Boxscore here)
After the game, we drove out to Riverside to have dinner with our Season Ticket buddies Janie & Gary (who we were sitting with during the game). First we made our flight reservations - we're going to Detroit to see the Sox play the Tigers at Comerica Park on July 14th. Should be fun, and I really enjoy seeing new ballparks. We went out to dinner at a restaurant called the Choo Choo Cafe in Riverside. Now, when I heard the name of this place, I had this thought of old women serving coffee in gingham dresses and aprons to patrons sitting at red & white checkerboarded oil clothed tables. Not so. This is a bit "upscale" and the food was great. Carol & Gary and lamb shanks, Janine had some encrusted chicken thing, & I had a New York Strip that was one of the better pieces of meat that I've had in a while.
Long day but a good day.
Thursday, April 11, 2002
Wolves 3 - Mighty Ducks 2
Wednesday, April 10, 2002
Wolves 3 - Mighty Ducks 2
Oh my God, this turned into a long night... Back at the Allstate Arena for the second game of this silly AHL Qualifying Series. It took two overtimes, but the Wolves won over Cincinnati 3-2 on a goal by Zdenek Blatny. The boxscore says there were 2,061 people there, which means the attendance was down from yesterday's game. There wasn't any "desperation playing" by either team. The game was relatively penalty-free. Both teams, though, looked pretty tired. It made me comment that the team that wins will win because of a mistake. Blatny's goal was on a slapshot that tipped off the glove of the Duck's rookie goaltender Joey MacDonald (who never played a game in the AHL before tonight). Frederic Cassivi actually looked good (and at times, stellar), stopping 43 shots (Last year, Cassivi led the AHL a 1.49 goals-against average during the playoffs with the Hershey Bears).
Oh, and I spoke too soon yesterday about "Chuck-A-Puck" - someone actually won the $500 tonight by getting their puck in the helmet!
On the downside, someone else was hit with a puck during the game. An elderly gentleman in the section next to us was hit in the side of the head with the puck. He wasn't watching the game - he was looking into a bag of candy that friends of ours offered to him. The security guys (like Rick who sits right behind the official scorers) responded quickly, and so did two paramedics who saw the incident from across the arena. Friends of the gentleman, who left with him, came back for the overtime periods. They told us that he got 4 staples to close the wound. (And to show how awkward this was, it turns out that this man has had 2 brain surgeries in the past). So between the candy, and the fact that the usher at the top of our section invited this guy to come to the game, there were a few people that felt bad about the whole situation.
Tuesday, April 09, 2002
Wolves 2 - Mighty Ducks 3
The Wolves first journey towards the AHL Calder Cup began tonight... and nobody cared. Not the fans, and surely not the team. First, this round is just weird. The season just ended Sunday, and two days later is a best of three qualifying series of games. The Wolves (the #7 seed in the Western Conference) play the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (the #10 seed). All three games are played here and all on consecutive nights (Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday). Well, there was nobody in the stands. The box score said that the attendance was 2,119, but that was paid. It sure looked empty inside the Allstate Arena. I think it was emptier than some of the severe snow days that we've had. The turnout was just bad. And then they decide to do their old stand-by charity event - "Chuck-A-Puck". This is where you purchase an orange, foam rubber puck for $2 (3 for $5) with a number on it. During one of the intermissions, a member of the Wolf Pack will go out to center ice and place a helmet (open side up) in the middle of the ice. Then all the fans throw their pucks onto the ice, trying to get their puck into the helmet to win $500. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever accomplished this. It's an easy fund raiser for the night's charity.
And the game? Well, the Wolves never looked like they were there. Pasi Nurminen was still a scratch (I wonder what really happened to him - he was "shaken-up" in a game last Wednesday). And then coach decides to bench Norm Maracle, so Frederic Cassivi was in the net. He tried. As usual, he had no defense to back him up. We had a 6-on-4 for the last minute of the game and we couldn't tie it up. The Wolves lost 3-2. Lackluster. No intensity. Poor passing. Mistakes. The words "they suck" just keep going through my head. They look tired and the look like they're not committed to this. Right now I feel that the Wolves won't make it through this crazy Qualifying Round, and I'm not sure they will win tomorrow. It's hard to root for a team that looks like they don't care.
Sunday, April 07, 2002
Wolves 3 - Aeros 4
Last Wolves game of the regular season. The Wolves lost 4-3 against the Houston Aeros. This is not the way to go into the playoffs. It looked like Norm Maracle didn't see any of the shots coming at him. I mean, Houston only had 17 shots! We need Pasi Nurminen back quickly (he got shook-up in a game last Wednesday). Instead - as our backup goalie, we've got a guy named Michael Garnett who was signed by the team as an Amateur Tryout! Oh, great! We now have the 7th seed in the playoffs. That means we don't get a bye in the first round of the "Western Conference Qualifier" - a best of three series against the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks on Tuesday, Wednesday (and, if necessary, Thursday). Great - a best of three series.
This was also the last day of Fan Appreciation weekend. They were still selling tons of old merchandise in the East lobby. After the loss, the team threw merchandise over the glass to the fans (which is always a cool thing). Then they had the "Shirts Off Our Backs" promotion - during the course of the season at selected games, the Wolves were wearing alternate jerseys (it's a cool black jersey, that looks similar to the Atlanta Thrashers (their Parent Club) alternate jersey). The jerseys were auctioned-off for charity (usually one or two a game). The winners came to this game and were escorted onto the ice after the game, where each Wolves player, one at a time, skated over and literally gave them their "shirts off their backs". Off course, they were a bit smelly and sweaty and may have blood on them, but hey - it's a game worn jersey! The downside to all this is the auction itself. Though it benefits charities, the average price for a jersey is $1,000. There are so many fans that cannot compete with this kind of money. Not only that, the vast majority of the bidders already have other jerseys that they have bid on and won!!!! Give us schmoes a break!
Wolves 2 - Griffins 3
The season is winding down, and the Wolves lost to the Griffins again 3-2. This was just a case of being outplayed. Period. The Griffins were swarming, and just seemed a hell of a lot quicker. Before the game, Steve Maltais and Rob Brown were honored in a pregame ceremony to recognize that each player surpassed 1,000 professional games this season. These guys are getting old - but here's Rob Brown who's second in the entire league in points (83)!
Today and tomorrow are Fan Appreciation games. Today, they gave away a 1986 Classic Porsche 944 (there were entry forms given out at each home game). There was also Scratch-and-Win cards for everybody to get giveaway stuff (today we got a team picture and a CD from The Verve Pipe). The first 10,000 people got a pair of Thunder Stix - basically they're mylar tube balloons that you blow up and seal, and you bang them together. Let's just say they were way more annoying than you would think. Tonight was the last night of the Chicago's Department of Animal Care and Control (ACC) "Adopt-A-Pet" Program - there were 24 dogs up for adoption, and they made an announcement during the game that 16 were adopted. Before today, there have been 77 dogs adopted. Dan Snyder has a web page on the team website for the adoption program.
Oh, I got hit before the game tonight. Not with a puck, but with a tennis ball that was thrown into the crowd. (It's part of a Max & Erma's giveaway - there's Wolves Players' names on the tennis balls - if the first goal is scored by the player whose name is on your tennis ball, you get something). Well, I got hit in the collarbone. I couldn't see what was going on - Brad who sits in front of me was sitting on the back of his seat, totally blocking my view. I never saw the ball. And it hurt like hell - it caught the bone just right. Oh, well. I'm happy it wasn't a puck.
After the game tonight, we went over to the Ramada for a private WolfPack party in a suite. It was a bit too empty, and then we found out why - there was an after-game skate around, so everyone was still back at the Allstate Arena. We didn't stay too long - we were bushed, and with the change in Daylight Savings Time, we thought it'd be a good idea to get home.
Thursday, April 04, 2002
Final Day of Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty
It's over. I have finally ended my Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty. Dad's last radiation treatment was today. No big fanfare, but he did get a ribbon from the staff and they let him take home the form-fitting mask that is used to lock him into the radiation gear. He's got a CT Scan on May 16th and an appointment on the 21st. The treatments took more of a toll than I had thought. The fatigue is pretty bad. He's really tired now. He's been pretty quiet in the car during our trips. We used to have conversations before. Well, as much of a conversation that you can have with someone who tries to talk but can't because of the laryngectomy, which means that you have to read his lips... which is extremely difficult when you are trying to drive a car. But at least they were conversations. It seemed that I was the only one that could read his lips well - Mom or Diane couldn't, and Mom would just give up and say to him in a frustrated voice "I don't know what you're saying" and that would just piss him off. I looked at his skin that was in the radiated area. Not only did it look leathery from a bad sunburn, there were areas that almost looked purple because the burn was so dark. Now he needs to just kick back and chill. It'll be weeks before his sore throat goes away. He's lost about 7 pounds in the last 6 weeks. I'm just hoping that his energy comes back.
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.
Sunday, March 31, 2002
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
Wolves 4 - Wolfpack 1
The Chicago Wolves played the Hartford Wolfpack tonight. It looked dicey early when Hartford scored first on Olympian Pasi Nurminen. They looked pretty strong. But somehow, the Wolves got back into it and wound up winning 4-1! And to top it off, the clinched a playoff birth with their win tonight! Very cool, but I hold no hope that they'll win the Calder Cup this year. Rob Brown tied it up in the first, and is now tied for the league-lead in scoring with 78 points. Guy Larose had two goals tonight. It's nice to see him back from the Augusta Lynx of the ECHL. (Simon Gamache is also back from the Greenville Grrrowl of the ECHL)
In the third, there was a very scary moment. There was someone from Hartford that took a shot on goal. It was a rocket. It went wide and ricocheted high off the tall glass on the end of the rink. The puck came off the glass and somehow cleared the glass on the side of the rink and hit a guy in the second or third row squarely on the bridge of his nose. Well, everybody freaked as this poor guy is streaming in blood and pain, so the Rosemont police guys (who work the Allstate Arena security) ran (pushed) through the crowd to help. It took way the hell too long for the medical teams to get to the guy (5-10 minutes maybe). The guys was in pain and even though Rick (one of the cops that sits by us by the Penalty Box) was the first to get to him and had a towel over his face, there was still blood everywhere. Smalley and Kenny O told us there was blood everywhere in the aisle and they moved some of the fans out of the area. All that we could think of is Brittanie Cecil at the Columbia Blue Jackets game. Hockey is quick, people. Pay attention. (even though, I don't think this guy had a chance - the shot was a rocket). He walked to a wheelchair so that he could get medical attention. Everyone gave him a round of applause.
Construction, a wash, and a carcass
What a gorgeous day outside. On the way to my Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty, I could see the start of the construction in the neighborhood. I was wrong earlier - this years construction is Higgins Road. Next year's construction is Golf Road. They started hacking apart the medians and anything else in the way at Golf and Higgins, though. Should be an interesting summer.
When done with my Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty, I decide to get the car washed. Though dark blue, it looks llight gray from all of the salt stains on it from the last few weeks of snow. So, it's off to Turtle Wax to get a Super Turtle.
Wednesday is Garbage Day. So I get home from my Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty, only to see that the old hot water heater carcass is still laying on my front lawn. Damn. What the hell is going on? And I've got family coming over for Easter on Sunday! Why didn't the pick it up??? (You, too, can watch the drama by clicking on the thumbnail of my live webcam on the left of the page to see if it finally disappears!)
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...
Friday, March 22, 2002
Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty
The weather, though it feels bitterly cold, is actually beautiful - bright sunshine, hardly a cloud in the blue sky. The traffic on the Northwest Tollway was "normal" - even though the construction is still there, it's like everyone knows what's going on and they're either taking an alternate route, or they're just blowing right through the construction area. Today is Dad's Radiation Treatment #22. Only two more weeks to go. We're in the Radiation Therapy waiting room. Mom is reading a book. I look at the floor - there's a piece of red yarn that looks like it's from Mom's craft work she was doing yesterday (Cubs logos and little guys). Got into the car to go bring them back home - there's a small piece of red yarn in the backseat. Sigh.
On the way home, we pass Skrudland's - a photo processing place in our old neighborhood. I look up at the sign. It's something I had never thought about! I'm unemployed, and short on cash - hey! I can get our pet bunny Indy to make some cash!!! Why didn't I think of this sooner!
Thursday, March 21, 2002
Tuesday, March 19, 2002
Well, the construction hasn't started on Golf Road (next week), but they're really scrambling to put up temporary traffic lights at Golf & Higgins. The Northwest Tollway also has no construction - yet. The Roselle Road entrance ramp has "Work Zone - Speed Limit 45" signs posted and they're posted in a few other places. There's small construction horses along the right shoulder from Roselle to 53, construction barrels from Golf to west of Arlington Heights, west of Elmhurst Road on right side, then onto left side east of the Des Plaines Oasis. There's some patching-over of the "rumble strips" in the left shoulder around Mannheim. That's it.
Found out that my dad passed his annual Driver's License test this morning! He turns 88 next Tuesday. (Drivers that age have to take an annual visual test and road test, just to make sure they're OK to drive.)
Proficient Heating & Cooling
8:31. He's here - Dan from Proficient Heating & Cooling. I remember him! He says it's the drafting motor and it won't be as bad as trying to replace "that board"! He's got one in the truck that can be used - for $498! What can you do. at least it's not as "that board" - it's a circuit board that controls the whole staging of the furnace - unfortunately, the furnace manufacturer is bankrupt and getting a replacement was quite difficult - we were without heat for two days in the middle of winter a few years ago.
At 9:26, I'm hearing the sound of a fan! Sounds like the furnace is alive! Yep, it has fully turned on. Dan's been carrying it on the truck for a year. He actually has to cut apart the housing of the old fan to reuse the flange because it's not an exact replacement fan. Dan leaves with his Merrit cigarettes at 9:36.
Monday, March 18, 2002
Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty
They didn't start on the Tollway construction yet. They were putting out barrels along the inside shoulder, but that's about it. Traffic was normal inbound & outbound during my daily trip to the parents and taking Dad to Radiation Therapy at Loyola. The waiting room was really crowded - overflowing out into the hall. Things just felt slower. So did Dad - he's just slowing down. I think the radiation is getting to him. Hopefully he'll tough it out.
Well, it's that time of season again. Construction season, that is, as my life is talking another step towards "hell-like". Golf Road by my house is going to be under construction for most (if not all) of the year as they make it three lanes in each direction (expanding what was already done east of here). And then the Northwest Tollway is being "rehabbed" as it gets stripped down and resurfaced. That also should last at least most of the year. Traffic should be horrendous and it's a bit difficult to avoid. I'm going to have to take side streets and other main arteries to get anywhere. Sigh.
Sunday, March 17, 2002
Wolves 3 - Admirals (Norfolk) 4
Well, 13,116 people saw the Chicago Blackhawks farm team, the Norfolk Admirals beat the Chicago Wolves today 4-3. The Wolves had some absolutely Brilliant play in the second period, but just couldn't catch-up. Norm Maracle actually looked bad, letting at least one of the goals go by him on a simple glove save. He gave up all 4 goals on just 19 shots - Frederic Cassivi replaced him in the second. For about a minute and a half late in the third, we actually had a 6 on 3 power play!!! And came away with nothing. Clean play, though - even with our new guy from Philadelphia Francis Lessard. He had 14 minutes in penalties last night in his first game with us. He set a franchise Record for the Philadelphia Phantoms in penalty minutes back in the 1999-2000 season with 416. The next year he had 330. He already had 251 with Philadelphia this year before we got him. Sigh.
The big crowd today could have been for the Coach John Anderson Bobblehead Doll giveaway. Or it was for the end of the St. Patrick's Day Jersey Auction. I didn't see a single jersey for under $700. There was a wedding during the first intermission. Both the bride and groom skated onto the ice (separately, of course). Too bad the groom couldn't stop well, and fell into a metal arch of balloons and flowers, toppling them and him. A bit embarrassing. Wayne Messmer came up the aisle afterward (he "hosted" the event) and muttered something about "Some people have no shame..."
Thursday, March 14, 2002
Wolves 2 - Phantoms 1
The Wolves met the Philadelphia Phantoms tonight. A very good game, and I was actually feeling good about the Wolves again. We beat Philly 2-1. The Phantoms had only 5 defensemen available for the game due to injuries and a suspension - a pretty clean game, though. It was weird seeing Jarrod Skalde playing for them (he was traded to them on March 5 for Joe DiPenta, and now Skalde is an Assistant Captain). We're not doing too bad since Atlanta called-up All Star J.P. Vigier on March 13. And Atlanta is not doing bad either - they won 2-0 against the Colorado Avalanche tonight with goals from, yep, J.P. Vigier and Brian Pothier who was recalled on March 9. I even felt good about Norm Maracle - he's been seeing the puck pretty well. Not a big crowd tonight - 4,609 - pretty typical for a weeknight.
The Wolves wore their St. Patrick's Day Jerseys which will be auctioned on Sunday (a silent auction). When the doors opened, somebody put a $1,000 bid on Derek MacKenzie's jersey. In case you haven't been to one of these things, $1,000 is about average to low for a jersey. And the whole team's jerseys are available. The proceeds from this auction go to Easter Seals.
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty
Another packed day at Radiation Therapy. This time, though, for some reason, Dad gets called in ahead of everybody else in the room. Everybody gives him the Evil Eye as he leaves. Had to stop at Walgreens on the way to their house to pick up some prescriptions. Dad's starting to look tired. His cough is still there, though it's hard to tell if it's getting worse. It's just a bad, dry cough.
Monday, March 11, 2002
Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty
1:25pm. Ah, another crowded day inside the Radiation Therapy waiting room. Standing room only. They guy that complained about & dropped his coffee is here, as well as the other older couple with the guy who also has a laryngectony like Dad. Both of these couples are cut from the same cloth, and I'm thinking my parents are in that group as well. There's an older lady sitting next to me, talking to another woman about divorce papers - I think it's about her daughter. There are not many secrets here - the room is too small, and most of the people here are old enough that their hearing is probably going, causing elevated voice levels. There's been a younger woman here that must have an appointment before Dad's since she's always here with the rest of us.. She gets called in to get changed - few people do, must be specific to the location of the tumor(s). She stands out from the others because of her age - she's definitely below the mean average of the room. Mom is doing her plastic needlepoint craft work that she takes everywhere (and I do mean everywhere), making some Cub players. Yech. There's an electrical equipment closet, just inside the entrance of the reception area. Whenever some gets their radiation exposure, you can here a very loud buzz come from the closet. It makes sitting in here a little odd - you can tell how much radiation the patients are getting, like you can tell who is getting high dosages because of the exposure time. I think that younger lady is in there now, and her exposures are relatively short - 5-10 seconds. I brought this up to my parents about a week ago, and now it's always on our minds as we sit here. Somebody get's an exposure of just under 60 seconds. To me, being just a Joe Schmoe, I equate length of exposure to severity of the tumor(s). Well, Dad's getting called in, so it's time for me to walk back to the Parking Garage to get the car to drive around the buildings to pick them up when he's done...
But my day isn't over - my Mom wants to go to the cemetery (St. Adalberts). Seems that as of March 1st, the wreaths that may be on the graves must be cleared off, so she wants to pick up the stuff she brought out there who knows when over the winter. So we drive all the way up there and wind our way through the cemetery - only to find out that one of the sections have been cleaned out of decorations. We go to another site where she picks up the wreaths at her parents graves - then proceeds to steal two more to make up for what she lost on the other graves! Needless to say, it was a long ride home...
Wednesday, March 06, 2002
Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty
My normal daily "taxi service" for my parents is different today. Today, Dad has a 1pm appointment for Dr. Bastian's office. Last week, Dr. Emami thought that there would be some kind of device - like perhaps a different trache - that Dad could get to help him "talk". I'm skeptical, but I feel that my parents aren't making use of any opportunity that's afforded them, so even if he comes away with nothing, it shouldn't be viewed as "time wasted". We just don't know what's available, and it's important to find out.
I'm sitting down in the Lobby of the Mulcahy Outpatient building with my little Toshiba Libretto - my parents are up in the office area of Dr. Bastian. Mom came down to let me know that nothing is happening upstairs and Dad is getting impatient - pretty typical for him when meeting a new situation. He's been very "calm" dealing with the process in Radiation Therapy. This kind of stuff drives him nuts - the older he gets, the more impatient he gets. He's going to be pretty upset. It's been over an hour, and we're late for our 1:30 Radiation Therapy appointment. They show up at 2:05 and I get them to the Russo building at 2:15. We're back on the road home at 3 o'clock.
Saw something I never saw before on the way home. We cross a couple of different Commuter rail lines to and from the hospital. This one crossing - near Lake and First Avenue - seems to be near a Metra station, because there has been a few time when I saw the crossing gates go down, only to go back up again a few seconds later. There's always a train to the east, probably at a station. Well, I noticed something today - at the railroad crossing, there is a second set of flashing lights - not the red flashing lights that go on when the gates go down when a train approaches, but there's a pair a blinking yellow lights - identical to the red ones - near a sign that says "DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS" - probably a warning that says "there's a train that'll be here in a few moments - stay off!"
Saturday, March 02, 2002
Wolves 3 - Americans 3
Well, we set off to the hockey game in the snow. The traffic was pretty light - not many people wanted to be out on the street. The traffic moved well, and we were there in no time. I was surprised at how many cars were in the lost an hour before the game. The Wolves played the Rochester Americans for the first time at the Allstate Arena. The referee (Dan O'Rourke) called everything, even Delay of Game. Lots of Misconducts, too. He wanted to be in control of the game, and for the most part he was. He was consistent at least - all you can ask for. The Americans have a guy (Andrew Peters) with over 300 Penalty Minutes. Well, they lit-up our goalie Frederic Cassivi (3 goals on 6 shots) so Coach Anderson replaced him with Norm Maracle, who stopped the rest of the shots. The game ended in a 3-3 tie after overtime. The official stats say the attendance was 13,119 - I find that a bit hard to believe because of the weather, though there really was a good crowd. In a nice gesture, the Wolves are allowing fans the opportunity to redeem last night's used or unused game ticket for admission to any other regular-season game, Sunday through Friday, for the remainder of the season. Aren't minor league franchises great? The ride home wasn't too bad, though the neighborhood wasn't too clean. Now, the temperatures are supposed to drop to zero tomorrow night...
Friday, March 01, 2002
Well, I went back to my old parish tonight (my parent's current parish) - St. Ferdinand's to go to their annual Fish Fry. They run it every Friday through Lent (except Good Friday). My Mom helps out, cutting cakes mostly. The turnout is always good - last week they had 650 people show up - and they do a drive-up business as well. Well, Carol, Diane, Melinda and I decided we were going today - Polish Day. You get a free Pierogi with every adult meal! It's always an odd socializing time - either meeting people from my childhood or meeting my Mom's friends. Had the Cod tonight (pretty good... and quick!) And, of course, Mom brought over some extra sauerkraut Pierogies for us.
On the ride home, we saw our first flakes of snow at 8:30pm. Let's see what happens...
Saturday, February 23, 2002
Wolves 3 - Grizzlies 0
Conference and Learning Center at Comiskey Park
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Radiation Therapy Chauffeur™ duty
It was 52° this morning. It's ugly outside, that drizzly pissy rain. Got the parents to Loyola Medical Center early for Dad's 1:30 appointment for a radiation therapy "practice" session. The Radiation Therapy waiting room is tiny - only a dozen chairs. I've always heard that these guys just crank through the patients - not today. Things are way backed up. This, needless to say, isn't "pleasing" to Dad, who, as he's been getting older, gets more and more impatient over these things. I walk around, just to walk around and get out of the room that seems to be getting more crowded and claustrophobic. While I'm out, there was a discussion with Mom & Dad and Dad wants me to go in with him - he thinks I can read his lips better than Mom (I can). I don't remember when he got called - it was a little before 2 o'clock - and we go in. Dad has to strip to the waist, so I've got to help him with his shirt & undershirt. He's so much smaller than me. It's the first time in my life that I'm doing something for him - for his care. He's got to take his glasses off and hearing aids. Then climb up onto a table that's is precision controlled to line him up correctly with the equipment. The techs - Jack & Lela - get a white, plastic mesh form-fitted mask (that obviously was molded sometime in the past, probably during his Simulation CatScan), but it over his head and lock him into the table. Then Jack puts a piece of plexiglass under Dad's feet with ropes tied to it. Dad has to hold onto the rope. I remember him telling us about it but we couldn't understand what the ropes were for. So I asked. The idea is for the patient to reach down and grab the ropes, but not to pull - this gets the shoulders low and out of the way of the radiation. Dad looks very uncomfortable locked into the table. There are laser lines all over the room to align his body correctly with the machine. The techs are taping things around him and are marking the mask and his chest in blue markers. The lights darken and we have to leave - everybody but dad, who's still on the table. Films are taken - three in all, all of which take time to load the films, rotate the radiation "thing" (I don't have a clue on what it's actually called - it's the thing that actually shoots the radiation). Jack doesn't think Dad is tolerating this well, and they get the last films but don't finish-off drawing on his chest. They get the face mask unlocked, and that's when dad tells me that he couldn't swallow with it on, so he was having some problems. He looks really weird - I had no idea that the mask was so tight against the skin - he's got marks from the mesh all over his face and head - he looks like a cheap alien from Star Trek or Babylon 5. We help him sit up - a bit too fast and he got dizzy & lightheaded. Then I help him get back together - hearing aids, glasses, and shirts. We finally shuffle out of the room, when a nurse - Dolores - says she wants to talk to us. I go get mom and Dolores talks to us about what to expect from the treatment. Basically, there should be no side effects except the sore throats and dad has no restrictions on his lifestyle - just keep doing what he's been doing. The side effects won't show up until about 10 treatments in. since radiation therapy is cumulative. Dolores gave mom some cream to help with skin care - keeping the skin moist. We look at the clock and it's 10 to 3. We're off. Tomorrow - the actual treatments start - every weekday for about six weeks.
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.
Sunday, February 03, 2002
Wolves 2 - Griffins 1
Went to the Wolves game today. It was originally scheduled for 4 o'clock, but they finally moved it to 1 o'clock to get it away from the Super Bowl. When we got there, before the skate around, they were playing the Bears Super Bowl Shuffle video on the scoreboard. We got a new goalie, Frederic Cassivi from the Colorado Avalanche. He won the last two games that he started, but he wasn't the first one onto the ice for the warmups (first goalie out is always the starter - today it was Pasi Nurminen).
Well, it was the 10th time these guys have met. Good, fast, clean game. The Wolves beat the
Griffins 2-1. The go ahead goal was shot by Rob Brown off of Steve Maltais' nose! Maltais got the credit!
Throughout the game, I had a drunk that sat right behind me. And when I say drunk, I mean drunk. He spilled beer in the back of my seat (though not too bad.) He spilled a fresh beer on his seat, so he had to sit in the row behind - he slept through the entire second period - even with fireworks going off after we scored two goals!. Then, when he was sitting behind me during the third, he fell asleep again, tipping his fresh beer and pouring it - slowly - into the aisle. The guys with him just said this was "normal" and it occurred "365 days a year". Great.
Our bud Scott who sits in from of us was in a 2nd intermission promotion on the ice. The object - stand at one end of the ice and throw a football into the net at the other end of the ice. There were 3 other people along with Scott trying this. They went through the group - no one got it, though Scott actually came close (the second guy had a GREAT arm). So since no one got it, they tried again. NOBODY GOT IT, so no prizes were awarded!
After the game, Pasi Nurminen was sent up to the Atlanta Thrashers and then off to Salt Lake City as Finland's Olympic Goalie.
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 31, 2002
Wet snow and no signal
pant... pant... pant... (gulp)... damn that snow is heavy... just shoveled the sidewalk to the front door... the snow is heavy and wet (it's 34° outside) - your typical "heart attack snow". So far, none reported on the news, but a guy in LaGrange lost two fingers in a "snowblower incident". Ew.
So I get up this morning and was watching the local news to see how bad things are outside. Then I decide to see what else is on - I flip over to BBC America, and... nothing. Black Screen. Hmmmm... I flip over to ESPN. Nothing. What the.... I have local stations and NOTHING ELSE. I have now experienced what is probably the single downfall of DirecTV - SNOW. The local channels are spot beamed down to the Chicago area and are at a high signal strength. It's getting through the snow on the dish (Normally I get 100% signal strength on these channels - I'm getting 78%), The signal strength on the other channels is ZERO. No lock on the satellite. I look out the family room window and see my dish covered in snow. Crap. I get dressed, grabbed a ladder and trudged through the snow to the side of the house. Only twisted my ankle once and went down in pain, but I'm OK. Got on the ladder and brushed the snow off - it just slid off. If I just waited longer, I bet it would have slid off by itself. Now, I'm back to 84% signal strength on the other channels and everything is fine. Got online and went to American Satellite to order what Carol calls a "sweater" for the dish - it's a cover to keep the snow off so I won't have to do this again.
Wednesday, January 30, 2002
CT Assisted Biopsy
So, I drive into the city. Not a flake in the sky until I get to Foster & Nagle, and then it's barely doing anything. Get to my parents house, walk in to the house in the middle of an argument about God-know-what. This whole health situation has been slowly effecting my family in so many ways. I can't imagine what goes on between my parents day-in, day-out... couldn't park in front of the house because someone has parked a dark gray 1990 Chevy Cavalier with no plates or sticker that they're trying to sell for $1200 right in front of my parents house. PISSES ME OFF. It's been there since at least Sunday. Anyway, the snow continues but never accumulates... the streets are just wet...
I love driving down Chicago Avenue in Oak Park. It's great just after a snow, to see the streets that are lined with the old-growth trees, just covered in snow. And there's a ton of great houses. BIG houses. Carol has a house that she loves that's on a corner lot. I think it was up for sale recently... can't remember how many millions of dollars it was going for... one of these days I'm going to have to go to the Frank Lloyd Wright house.. I pass it on these trips to the medical center...
Finally got to Loyola Medical Center. Still no snow on the ground - a good thing. Dad goes back to the CatScan lab in the basement. We were there for almost an hour, getting him signed-in and prepped. Then we have to leave - we're going to go to a separate CT lab back on the first floor. Typical of a super large medical facility, it takes a while to finally get there. We're in part of the hospital we've never been in before. We go down one corridor, and there's a brand new art exhibit hanging on the walls (it was new according to the nurse that escorted us to this CT lab). The exhibit was "The Ten Commandments - 10 pieces of canvas with abstract painting on each that is supposed to depict each commandment. We didn't pay too much attention, but I just didn't get it.
We finally make it to the CT Lab - "CT Scanner #4". We all wait out in a very tiny, dark waiting room. Eventually the nurse takes dad in. It's 12 noon. Mom and I ask if we could go to the cafeteria to grab something to eat & drink. The nurse says sure, it should take about an hour. Off to the VERY crowded cafeteria for a quick lunch. We sat by a window and watched the snow falling on the patio area. Still no accumulation, its just wet - puddles everywhere. We go back at about 20 to 1 and find out that the actual procedure hasn't started yet. They were just cranking-up when we had got there. Apparently, they had to confer with Dr. Bastian before they could do the actual needle biopsy. All of a sudden, Dad gets scanned, they look at the shots, another doctor goes in, gets the tissue sample, and walks out to go and make sure he's got a good sample. It just happened probably within the span of 5 minutes. I stepped out of the room for a minute or two, just to walk down the corridor to see what was down the hall (The Heart Failure Lab, actually) when I saw the doctor going back in. I started walking back and the doctor was coming back out and said "We're all done". When I walked into the waiting area, the was another doctor that was talking to my mom, in broken English. All I caught at the end of the conversation was something about the tumor had grown, and "wrapped around" something, and was now down below the stoma. This sounds bad. The tumor has grown since the last CT? Mom helps dad get dressed and we head on home. Still snowing, still no accumulation. I drop them off, and head home myself.
This is sounding worse than I what I heard from Dr. Emami just two weeks ago today.
I'm feeling scared. This is new to me. Mom had said to me in the waiting room that she "knew that people with 'this' never come out of it" and that she's taking it a day at a time and she's doesn't want to think about it much because it bothers her too much.
Holy crap... am I tired... I wanted to keep sleeping... must be the weather. No snow by us. but 1"-2" south of O'Hare. The city is literally split it half with this Winter Storm that's been going through since last night... 6"-10" by tomorrow afternoon! I've got to get myself together to drive my parents to Loyola Medical Center again...
it's Wednesday, so it's garbage day... nothing I hate worse is to be on your way out the door and remember "hey, it's Wednesday!" and have to drag out the garbage and recyclables...
Tuesday, January 29, 2002
Geese and Satan
The geese are back... now I'm starting to think they're inviting friends...
Got the mail and saw a letter from Unemployment... lots of things run through your head when you see a letter like this, all of which have to do with losing your benefits. Turns out, it's just a letter saying that the calculation changed for calendar year 2002. Unfortunately, I made too much money during my 6 months of work last year for that new calculation to make any difference - I'm still at the max allowable.
OK trust me, the next two things aren't related (I don't think...)
We have to sit through another State of the Union speech tonight by George the 43rd. Look, I'm behind the guy absolutely 100% when it come to the War On Terror, but I never liked his domestic policies. I hope we start turning up the heat in the Philippines, and, after seeing Black Hawk Down over the weekend, I hope that Somalia gets "cleaned-up" as well, but the rest of the policies? Fahgetaboutit.
Now - not related (I don't think), the Mayor of Inglis, Florida (Carolyn Risher) issued a proclamation that declared the Prince of Darkness persona non grata. "Satan, ruler of darkness, giver of evil, destroyer of what is good and just, is not now, nor ever again will be, a part of this town of Inglis." Think the ACLU is happy?
Monday, January 28, 2002
Another unemployment check to deposit into the bank... boy that's a slap in the face - looking at the envelope, it comes from the department of Employment Security. Employment Security??? Since when are jobs secure??? Boy, they're not doing their jobs! A quick trek out to the ATM, and we make it through another couple of days...
Saturday, January 26, 2002
Mogadishu on the big screen
Wow. Another 52° day.
Barry & Buffy came over to visit. We went out this afternoon to the AMC South Barrington 30 to see Black Hawk Down. The only negative: it runs 144 minutes. Wow. What a movie, what a story. It's the true story of the Battle of Mogadishu, the longest sustained ground battle involving American soldiers since the Vietnam War. 120 American Delta units and Ranger infantry were dropped into Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3rd, 1993, to abduct two of Somalian warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid's lieutenants. Instead, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, and what was expected to take an hour lasted 15, resulting in the deaths of 18 Americans, 73 wounded, and hundreds of Somalians dead. Great cinematography. Great acting. Ridley Scott did another great job.
But the real real story is even more timely and hits home even more - you see Gen. Muhammed Farrah Aidid's people were actually trained, funded, and staffed by - guess who - BIN LADEN! Yep, the same bastard we're still going after 8 years later. If you happen to see the movie, think about that and see how it "colors" your view of what was going on in Moga (as the Rangers call it).
Went to this Mexican place, El Mason, in Schaumburg for dinner. Haven't been there since the 80's. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and sounds like we'll go back. Everyone had combo platters (Carol, Buffy & I each had the same one, that came with a half of a strip steak that was very tasty and tender).
Friday, January 25, 2002
They mock me
They're back... they're mocking me... they're sitting on my driveway... time to go ruffle some feathers...
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
The cancer won't be cured
I leave the house at about 12:30pm to drive to my parents to drive them to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood. Dad had to see Dr. Emami, who's the chairman of the Radiation Oncology department at Loyola. Out in Hoffman Estates, it's been snowing big time - big flakes, too. On the way to my parents and on the way to Loyola, the snow was lighter and wetter. But the closer we get to the hospital, the bigger the flakes are becoming. Get there at 2:30 for a 3:00. Turns out that the big deal is not the lymph node that Dr. Bastian was concerned about. There's a mass behind the stoma that is probably cancerous. The MRI shows the mass and everyone believes it's cancer.
If dad would have gotten radiation treatment after his laryngectomy back in May, that mass would not be there. At that time, Dad didn't want to do radiation. Mom agreed. They both knew what could happen if he didn't get radiation. He was feeling good after the surgery. He didn't want to feel worse.
Now he's in trouble.
Dr. Emami wants to make sure it's cancer. He wants dad to get a needle biopsy to make sure. Dad was also supposed to get a chest x-ray, but now he'll get a chest CT instead, just to make sure the cancer didn't spread further down.
A resident (Dr. Paul Crossan) checked out dad, made sure he was OK.
The course of treatment will probably by 33-34 treatments, once a day, 5 days a week, so that'll be almost 7 weeks.
But there's a major problem: behind the mass is dad's spinal column. The spinal column can only handle about 25 treatments. It's going to be difficult to monitor - radiation treatments take weeks to actually work - (there's actually a delayed reaction to the radiation), so it's going to be tricky. Really tricky. And this won't be a cure. It's too late for that. It'll give him a bit over 2 years. If he doesn't get it, the mass will continue to grow, eventually cutting off his windpipe.
Wow, really started to snow... I gotta get going to pick up my parents... there're salt trucks going through the neighborhood. Damn! It's Wednesday and the crows have found our garbage AGAIN, like they do every week when we put it out for pickup...
Monday, January 14, 2002
Chicago Wolves Season Ticket Holder Party
There is something that happens around this time of year that pisses me off... it never fails, when there's no snow on the ground, usually when it's drizzling or raining, we have "herds" of geese that walk the neighborhood, always stopping to feed on our lawn. The hang around for hours at a time, refusing to leave, even if I go out there after them. They never fly away, they always just walk around. And, of course, there's a big negative spin on this - they're crappin' all over the driveway and sidewalks. It's gross. Why can't they just migrate!!!!
Sunday, January 13, 2002
Wolves 4 - Moose 5
Went to another Wolves game tonight against the Manitoba Moose. We lost 5-4. Same officiating crew as last night... and they still suck. More fights. One of our guys (Clark) elbowed a guy and got 5 minutes (he drew blood), but he also got a game misconduct. I hate these guys. They did a real crappy job keeping control of the game both nights. Lots of missed calls and wrong calls.
Today was the end of the patriotic jersey raffle and auction. There was a total of 60 jerseys up for auction (4 of them were up for raffle). I didn't win anything. bummer. They were great jerseys. And, of course, the prices at the auction were at the $1000 level for almost all of the jerseys. I think I heard they made about $71,000.
Saturday, January 12, 2002
Wolves 7 - Barons 3
Tuesday, January 08, 2002
Dogsitting, eBay, and marchFIRST
Nice quiet day dogsitting Katie. Replied to someone that saw my resume on Monster, but no reply from the EMail. Got my marchFIRST Microsoft Alliance shirt that I won on eBay. Watched a bunch of Hopkins 24/7 shows on Discovery Health. Great series.
Friday, January 04, 2002
Birthday dinner and DirecTV
My sister Diane and Melinda took Carol & me out to dinner for my birthday. Had some great baby back ribs at Bone Daddy. Yum. On my way to her house, I realized that I didn't eat a crumb of food all day. I think this DirecTV thing has got my adrenaline going and I just forgot!
All the DirecTV receivers are plugged-in - half are fully operational. I need to go out tomorrow and buy a new multiswitch - I think that's the problem. The picture quality is absolutely unbelievable! We got the Platinum package and can't believe the number of stations! 23 local sports stations! I can't wait for baseball season!
DirecTV - a very nice birthday present!
Working out the kinks in the satellite signal on the receivers...
Up on the roof (of the garage)
Ooooooo.... the dish is up...
Thursday, January 03, 2002
Wooooooo Hooooooo! UPS just delivered my DirecTV stuff! Three boxes worth. One box is the dish itself, another box looks like a self-install kit (cable, connectors, a multiswitch and a videotape), and the last box is the 4 receivers (much smaller than I thought). Now I just need to get it installed and activated...
Damn... installation is expensive! More than the equipment itself! But I got an installer to come out tomorrow.
Another Katie-sitting day again. I gotta tell you, I've been looking all over the house to see if Katie left a "present" anywhere. She didn't. Man, is she passing gas...
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.
Saturday, December 29, 2001
Wolves 3 - Moose 6
Monday, December 24, 2001
Another Christmas Eve at my sister Diane's house with her dogs, our parents, and my cousin Kathy's family. A nice night. Diane did a great job of cooking. It's great seeing the kids get their presents, even though they're getting older. For us, well a few "couple" gifts - gifts for Carol & me. I wound-up getting a wallet and a Best Buy gift card.
Thursday, December 20, 2001
7:26am. Katie starts howling. And she does this every 2-3 minutes for the next half-hour. I'm dog-sitting a friend's dog, who just had an eye removed due to glaucoma. She's got a cone around her head, and she needs to be leash walked. Since I'm currently unemployed and not doing anything, I'm watching her. I just wish she'd get over her separation anxiety. Then again, I should be awake and up and about. Checked my web job posting sites. Nothing new today.