Monday, June 05, 2017

A little June update

So much going on today and this weekend that I had to make an entry. Let's start with the good things.

Marissa had her first ballet recital. She did pretty well for four years old. Quite frankly, even the high school kids were underwhelming for what I imagine to be years and years of training. The hip-hop kids seemed to have some good skills though. Anyway, the important thing is that Marissa enjoys it, despite getting up for class on Saturday morning. We'll see if that continues at older ages!!

Next up is young master Thomas, who, while mimicking Marissa's dance moves the night before her recital, took a tumble and broke his foot....on the carpet....without any collision whatsoever. Just a freak accident. Two to four weeks in a cast.

Other than not wanting to walk too far on it, he really didn't complain much. All the doctors mentioned what a great patient he was. 

Next up is the passing of yet another high school classmate: Terry Smith. Terry was a really nice kid with whom I played some sports as a kid. He had a dry wit, but was very funny and nice to everyone. It's a loss for all of us. My dad used to coach him in football and Terry always spoke highly of my pops. 

In the world of real estate today, I had not one but two agents set up inspections at homes I was listing, without telling me!! Who does that?? I always go through the agent when setting up inspections for my clients. This why I got into the business: incompetent brokers. Or more appropriately, keeping incompetent brokers away from my family and friends. One of them at least had a somewhat reasonable excuse; her father was hospitalized last week and she had to make an emergency trip out of state and just forgot to let me know. The other guy is just an ass. 

This summer I have three bachelor parties to attend....3!! But, when you're 51 and still playing softball, your 30-35 year old buddies start to get married. One though is only 25 I think...if that, but he's the son of a good buddy of mine that sits next to me at Bears games. So it's going to be a busy summer. Just need Joisey Ken to get his shit together so we can finalize our summer trip with the families! LOL!! Luv ya Ken!! 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bears draft 2017

As I sit down at my computer to type on this cold and dreary last day of April, I was faced with two topics: a letter to the 18 year old Marissa of the future or my thoughts on recapping the just held 2017 NFL draft. The former is not for public consumption, so that would have been in a Word document that would get printed out and placed with my letter to the 18 year old Thomas, in a safe place. Each year now, I plan to write one of those letters and maybe include my favorite pictures. Should be pretty awesome. While I'm trying to get family members to do it as well, they have not complied so far. We'll see.

So YOU get my thoughts on the Bears draft!! Lucky you.

As you may know, the Bears had the #3 overall pick and traded up to the #2 pick by giving away two third round picks this year and a fourth round pick next year. They were most likely bidding against themselves by making this move as SF, who had the #2 pick, had no interest in Mitch Trubiskey (he of 13 college starts out of NC, from where no Pro-Bowl QB's have hailed. The Bears WERE fielding calls from other teams looking to trade up though, but either those teams weren't willing to pay up (most likely) or the Bears didn't want to move.

Here's where it gets more interesting. GM Ryan Pace and the Bears didn't just give up three picks and the #3 pick for Trubiskey, they also TURNED DOWN at least two more picks if they would have moved down in the draft even one spot!! Probably more if they moved down to 10 or 12. So when you hear the Bears gave up four picks for him, it's really at least SIX. That's more than half of an entire starting offense or defense. That's incredible.

Instead, the Bears took Mitch the Bitch and gave up the picks. Then they chose a DII tight end who the scouts say is a "beast" and "demolished" the opposition. Yeah, well a guy who is 6'6" and 275 is going demolish anyone in DII. That's why those other guys are in DII?? Put me in Pop Warner and I'm going to score a 100 TD's too because I'm going to demolish much smaller players. We had a need at TE, though it was one of our lesser needs, but Pace, who worked in New Orleans with Brees and Graham and Sproles before coming to Chicago, is trying to surround his new QB with weapons. We won't be able to stop anyone on defense, but maybe we'll score. Not this year though.

The Bears first fourth round pick was a CB or S out of Alabama who broke his leg last year after tearing his ACL in the other leg two years ago. So he's basically a cripple. Who needs legs to play football??

Their second pick of the fourth round was Pace's "Darren Sproles guy"; small (5'6") sort of fast, who can a midget.

Their 5th round pick was a DII left tackle who projects as a guard in the NFL, but maybe he'll still play left tackle. Oh yeah, he's out of Kuntztown State. I'll let you look that one up.

So a cripple, a midget and two DII players added on to a QB that was passed up by two teams who also needed a QB, but understand that you build winning teams through defense first. Oh yeah, don't forget that NEXT year's crop of college QB's is actually supposed to be talented, unlike this year's. So now, when we are picking top 5 again because nobody we just added will start, we'll PASS on those talented QB's to give this guy a shot. That's terrible. And yes, I said none of these guys will start. The Bears are 3-13 and they just held a draft taking 5 players and none of them will start. Possibly, possibly the TE will, but that's doubtful too.

What they should have done was stayed put and taken Jamal Adams at #3. IF they needed to trade down, it would have depended how far down they went. Adams slid to #6 with the Jets, which was a steal. They could have added a Budda Baker type in the second round and really solidified their DB's. Two third round picks could have netted the likes of Duane Smoot at DE or Daeshon Hall at DE or maybe you take Deshone Kizer in the second round and see what happens. Davis Webb went in the third at QB, so he was an option.

As a season ticket holder who actually has to pay money to see the team play, unlike those Bears fans who can sit at home on Sunday, I want to see a better product on the field now. Not adding any starters in the draft will not get there. My draft grade: D-.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


It's been a while since I've posted and I should include pictures of the kids, but I really wanted to note the changes (mostly physical) that age has brought on over the last few years. While few folks, if anyone, currently reads my "blog" (and I use that term loosely considering the frequency with which I post), I'm hopefully that someone in the future will find these missives and determine them to be of interest. The main reason for my lack of blog posting over the last few years has been reduced amount of time available with Marissa and Thomas consuming time and rightfully so. Additionally, the increased responsibilities with my real estate career, now in it's third year, also eats up time that would otherwise be spent pondering solutions to the great problems of the world.

But I digress. Health. About two years ago my eyes started to change after being stable for the last 15 years since my laser eye surgery when I was 35. Though I have always had some haloing around lights at night post eye surgery, my day time vision was 20-10 for most of the 15 years. When my vision slipped a little, it went to 20-20. After turning 49 though, not only has my far vision slipped further (to the point of preferring glasses to drive at night), but I developed some presbyopia and found that, while I don't have reading glasses, reading up close is tough without very good light and even then it's a struggle. Both of these have just slowly gotten worse over the last two years, but not dramatically.

Last year (February 2, 2016), I had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus bestowed upon me by a negligent driver on 5/25/2015. The surgeon, Dr. Ho, also performed microfracture surgery which prolonged my rehab stint significantly. Physical therapy didn't stop until early May, so I was a bit off most of the summer while I regained knee and leg strength.

Then we sold the condo at 660 Roscoe and moved out to Mokena. The move took it's toll in the form of allergies, ear infection, sinus infection and colds. Most of the summer I was pretty miserable and the day of the move I almost couldn't get out of bed due to an attack of menieres. Later in the year I finally switched from Claritin to Zyrtec for allergies and have been good ever since.

Also at the request of my PCP, I started taking baby asprin at night, fish oil and niacin in addition to a regular asprin in the morning. After about three weeks of this new blood thinning regime, I was playing softball and caught a ball off the calf. With super thin blood, it blew up almost to the size of a softball!! Needless to say I cut out some of the thinning ingredients, but the damage was done and it took about 2 months for it to return to normal size. It took so long that I went BACK to the doctor a second time to make sure it was okay!

At the time of my blood thinning prescription, I was informed that it was time to get a colonoscopy. It wasn't a surprise by any stretch, but the reviewing the prep left me.....lacking in desire to get it done. Plus, I was sick or hurt most of the year anyway.

So back to the hurt part. Over the summer, after sitting in a awkward position while painting the kids playhouse outback, I managed to tear the meniscus in my left knee. Now it also could have been from the added stress of making up for the right knee not being healthy, so I guess I could relate that injury back to the car accident as well. Anyway, while I was initially incapacitated, the swelling and pain eventually went down enough so that I could play some softball. Running was a problem of course, but I could hit. It needed to be fixed though so I picked November 1st to get that done, just after the Bears-Vikings game on Halloween and during a bye week and an away game or two for the Bears. That allowed me to recover to the point of walking at least before the next Bears game. The Cubs though, after I lived in the neighborhood for 27 years, decided to win the world series, so I wasn't around for the celebration. Bah. I did get to one game against the Giants and one against the Dodgers though.

The impact of aging was not done though. Over the last year in particular I noticed more wrinkles on my face (around my eyes) and on my throat. Not flattering. Then the kicker came on my 51st birthday while in the midst of closing on the condo. After having two slices of deep dish pizza, I was severely bloated and had some acid reflux. Now, I've been taking Prilosec for about 10 years or so and it has really controlled my sour stomach, so well that I never really even thought about it. About a month prior to my birthday though, I decided to see if I really needed to take it anymore and found out quickly that yes, yes I do. It would appear that I developed a peptic ulcer, though my endoscopy has not confirmed that yet. Oh, did I mention I had an endoscopy AND a colonoscopy at the same time? Yeah, fun day. Actually, the day before (really 36 hours) of no eating and only drinking clear fluids plus some bowel cleanser was the most unpleasant part and even that wasn't too bad. The colonoscopy came back all clear and I'm waiting to hear on the endoscopy, though I'd bet dollars to donuts it's a result of H. pylori.

So that's where I'm at now and what I've been dealing with over the last few years (except for gaining about 10 pounds as well).  I'm hoping that this year I settle into some good routines, shed weight and get healthy!!

Now for those kid pictures!!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Random thoughts for an October Sunday

This morning I was up early to get some coffee at my nearby Starbucks and then go to church with my family (we go to different churches, but they are near each other). On my way, I saw this wonderful site from the road and had to stop and take a picture.

It just made me think of how beautiful nature can be.

In church, the gospel from a few weeks ago was Luke 16, 19-31 which I'll reproduce here:

Luke 16:19-31New International Version (NIV)

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Now, why would I bother with a gospel passage? Well, I did not remember ever hearing this particular passage and it's very compelling on several fronts. One is that we all have had "pacts" with someone that if they die first, we'll come back and tell them what the other side is like (hopefully while not scaring them). Per this passage, that won't be possible and based on this passage, it's unnecessary. I love the cynicism of Abraham here towards humans: even someone coming back from the dead won't convince people (and Christians believe this has already transpired once!).  There's also no way to help those in hell, even if you're in heaven at the right hand of the Lord. That's disappointing.
While at church, St. Rays in Joliet, I saw this display in the foyer of the church: 

That Cardinal, Daniel Kucera, is the one who presided over my confirmation. Just an interesting note.

While Marissa was at school one morning last week and I was on daddy duty, I sat out back with coffee while Thomas sat out back on the stoop with a snack. It was a good morning.

Another day this week, Thomas and I took in some TV while trying to get ready for the day.

It's Bears season and even though they aren't good, we do have fun tailgating!

Me, E-Money and Chrizzo at the Bears/Lions game....only our second win in the last 12 home games.

I've added a touch of class to the tailgate! A tablecloth!

Okay, it's not MINE, but I am able to use it regularly. Good advertising for the company!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Reversing time

This weekend we had our World Series of Softball in Columbus Ohio. The organization was GSL, I do not know what it means, but the USSSA World Series is in Disney, a much better but costlier trip. Columbus is only a 6 hour drive, so that’s not bad. All beside the point. I started playing with a new team this year as my old team went up in competition and I needed to go down. Also beside the point. Our team finished in 5th place out of 68 teams from around the country (though mostly Midwest). Also, beside the point.

The blog post is to document my year physically and set goals for next year to be better.

The year started off bad with knee surgery on February 2 that turned into microfracture surgery and had me in a bed for 22 hours a day for 6 weeks. I wasn’t able to work out in any normal fashion really until May, which was when we were buying and moving into our new home. Preceding the move, I developed a sinus infection that morphed into an ear infection by moving day and really didn’t clear up for almost a month. Though I played softball, I really didn’t have the time or energy to workout, not to mention that I have not as yet joined a gym locally. During one of those softball outings, I caught a ball on the ankle which shelved me for two more weeks, during which, while painting my kids playhouse in the back yard, tore my meniscus in my left knee. Again, no working out. So in total, since last November when my meniscus in my right leg was confirmed via MRI, I’ve probably worked out 3 or 4 times, and all very mildly. That’s not good for a man who turned 50 over that span.

So I have surgery scheduled for November 1, with explicit instructions to NOT do microfracture surgery. Hopefully come December, I’ll be able to resume workouts and hopefully hit a gym for some upper body stuff before the surgery even. That’s the plan. I want to really commit to getting into better shape for next year, even if I don’t play softball, so I can reverse the effects of this bad year on me physically. It’s doable!!

Monday, August 22, 2016

A day of accomplishments

I should probably add some pictures, so I'll see what's on the computer. Today was just a good day, full of accomplishments. These days haven't been frequent enough because of a number of things: moving, preparing the condo for sale, doing showings at the condo, selling another condo that's about 45 minutes away and helping someone buy a condo about an hour away from me. So all of those trips take roughly 3 hour chunks out of my day if I stay for an hour. That's a lot of time.

Today was not like that though. Today was "productive". Those other days are productive, but this is better productive. Things were done around the house that made it better to live in....THAT kind of productive. A gate I installed at the top of the stairs to keep Thomas from falling down them had come loose. Doesn't seem possible since I used toggle bolts (3 of them), but there it was...loose. So yesterday I realized the toggles never deployed! They were just sitting inside the hole in the drywall, unopened and provided some support initially. Eventually they worked themselves loose though. When I saw the toggles not deployed, I knew what happened. User error, which is usually the case in DIY projects. This time I did it right though and that gate is definitely secure now!

We bought two toilet seats with inserts that come down so Marissa can start using the "big girl" potty. I installed two of them today and she immediately said "I am NOT going to use them!" Fortunately, that was incorrect and she even used it before the night was out. Very happy. Laura is REALLY happy.

Downstairs we have many boxes left to unpack and put away. The thing with moving every 24 years is that you accumulate a LOT of crap. Or maybe just stuff. Some crap, but lots of stuff. So there's about 18 boxes of stuff that we have NOT unpacked at this point. Today I decided I would unpack one box a week until they were all unpacked. That was before I realized there were 18 boxes so maybe I'll do two a week. Today I did two or three, so that's a great start. I also put some carpet samples up in the attic storage in the garage, which made the garage a little easier to move around in. I moved some other stuff around and it was even easier. Then I pitched some things and it was even better! Progress!!

Due to some problems with our movers, we blew them up on different websites and got them to settle with us at a number 10x what they initially offered (a laughable amount). Today we got the release document signed and the last of the websites to take down the review I wrote. That paves the way for payment.

For work, I followed up on a real estate lead and dug for information from a website that paved the way for me to help them out in the spring. Good stuff!

Every day has lots of interaction with my kids and Laura, so that's always good. Today we took a nature hike after dinner along a paved trail across the street that winds through some woods and a few ponds. I try to point out nature things and animals. We saw three deer, some yellow finches and we found a few acorns, which I was able to secure a good shell and made a super loud whistle out of it the first time I tried! It was awesome.

This Saturday is our 5th wedding anniversary and also a Bears home game (preseason) so I listed the tickets on Stubhub. But I also emailed two buddies to see if they could use them in the event that they don't sell.

And now I've written a blog post. That's a good day!!

Before pictures of the playset in the back yard. I have some blue painters tape around some things I couldn't remove or wanted to protect. I didn't remember to take "before" pictures right away. 

The rusty rungs.

Now they are spray painted forest green!

Look how rich and nice it looks now! My neighbors had one that looked like my "before" picture and after I was done with mine, they just tore theirs down. Already improving the neighborhood!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Back to writing?

Ahhhh, back to writing, if only temporarily.

Lots to write about, but this entry is solely about looking at the bright side of things and recognizing the positive things that happen.

We bought a new house in the far southwest suburbs of Chicago and have had a few issues: one of the stoves suddenly didn’t work, the dryer wasn’t drying, the kitchen sink was clogged at 5:30 and wood boring bees had infested the play set in the back yard. That’s a lot to have happen while you’re trying to unpack and settle in. None of those things created the impetus for this entry though. Here are some pics FROM the house, but I couldn't load a picture OF the house. It will come. 

My car, a 2002 Camry, has had its check engine light on for about 6 months. Initially I thought it was due to topping off the gas, which has led to a sensor being tripped in the past (an ongoing problem with that model of car from that time frame).  It was time to change the oil though, so I took it to Pepboys to get that done and see if anything else was the matter. They wanted several hundred dollars to fix one of the oxygen sensors. This was a big problem as I couldn’t renew my license plates until my car passed the emission test, which wouldn’t happen with the check engine light on. Ugh.

Then, later that day after the oil change, the light went off! Yay! I couldn’t get to the emission testing facility for 3 or 4 days, but I went as soon as I could and the car passed. The next day, the check engine light came back on. Wow. That was really fortunate and saved me a bunch of money.

But what about the dryer, sink, stove and bees?? How are those things positive? It’s not so much that they are positive things in and of themselves, but you can look at them two different ways. I chose to see the bright side. The dryer didn’t work because it hadn’t been used in seven months and was 10 years old. Before I had the necessary part replaced, I pulled the dryer out to see if it was venting properly or if lint had clogged it up. I found the hose leading to the vent had fallen off and any lint making it past the lint trap was going under dryer, not to mention the hot air filling the upstairs. Did I mention our laundry is upstairs? It’s very convenient, but would be dangerous if not vented properly. Anyway, the dryer not working led me to find and fix that problem, which could have caused bigger issues. So that was a positive.

The stove worked at our inspection, but the next day the cleaning crew used the self-cleaning function and overheated the thermostat. Since the stove is built into the wall, it doesn’t vent quickly enough to use the self-cleaning function, which I don’t normally use anyway. Good to know! Fortunately, we have two stoves in the kitchen, so it was a minor inconvenience and now we know not to use that function. We’re fortunate to have two stoves and fortunate to not be entertaining when it went out. It’s all good!

The bees. Well, the bees are these wood boring bees who chose to take up residence in the playset that came along with the house. The guys are about the size of your thumb or maybe a slightly smaller. Like a flying smokey-Joe hot dog if you know what those things are. Formidable to say the least. However, they don’t sting, except for the queen. So you can use insecticide or a tennis racket to get rid of them. They make really cool, perfectly circular holes, which is kind of shame to remove them. I wouldn’t mind them if they were in someone else’s wood!!

So that’s my entry for today: make lemonade out of lemons, see the bright side of a situation, realize that sometimes bad things happen for a reason; you just need to take the time to figure out what that reason is. 

And now, some family pics!