Friday, December 29, 2006

Well, I haven't done that in....17 years!!

The other night a lady friend called me up to ask me out to dinner and to do something I haven't done in my 17 years of living in Chicago......yep, go to a blues club. Odd isn't it? We're probably the second most well known city in the U.S., possibly in the world, and I have never gone to a blues club. In fact, I've never even gone to one of the outdoor festivals downtown. Now, I don't particularly like blues, but I don't dislike blues either. You would think that I would have gone to Kingston Mines or some place like that at some point. Nope.

The place we went was called B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted and on Tuesday nights, if you live or work in one of two area codes that surround the bar, you get in for free (normally a $7 cover). Nice! It's called good neighbor night. I love the idea!! The bar is tiny and the stage only really fits three band members comfortably, but if someone is willing to lean against a wall, then you can get four. These guys had five people in their band, so they had the keyboard player off stage. Too funny. It was a pretty fun time and I'm glad I went. Turns out they have live blues every night of the week and have since 1979.

Yesterday I pulled the trigger on my television and bought a 50" Pioneer plasma for $2,500. That's about the best price I had seen for that quality. Delivery to my stand is only $60! Nice. Now I have to work with Direct TV to make sure I'm getting all the HD signals and such. Another project! I'm going to go get on the roof to take a look at my dish and see if it's HD or not and actually take a picture of it so I know what I need to upgrade from if I need to upgrade at all.

Christmas at the Sutton's, like Thanksgiving, means turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, the works. It's gluttonous, yes. As you might expect, there are usually leftovers and this year was no exception. So yesterday I decided to eat some leftover turkey in a nice turkey and mayo sandwich. Hmmmm, should have been delicious. Where's the mayo.....oh, there it is in the back of the refrigerator......huh, I wonder how old it is because I don't remember buying any recently and I only use it on turkey sandwiches. Smells OK. Oh, here's the date, "best if used by June 2005". Shit. Do I risk it? No, my immune system is already down from my marathon of parties. I ended up just putting gravy on it like an opened faced sandwich you get at a diner. Not a bad option. I bought a new jar of mayo today, so I'm good on the mayo front until mid 2007.

Lastly, I saw a great bumper sticker today: "My Rhodesian Ridgeback is smarter than your honor student. " Ha!! They must really lovely Ridgeback's because their license plate was "RIDGBAX".

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Productive Day

Hello my vigilant readers. I apologize for not posting yesterday; there just was not enough time to accomplish everything on my list yesterday. The 27th, for me, is Boxing Day where I return gifts and then buy more it can be a very productive day. Yesterday was no exception.

It started off innocuously enough with responding to emails and making a list of what I needed to do: stop by church to drop some stuff off, go to Cost Plus World Market to look at chairs, go to Home Depot to look at vanities and hit Target....a full day by any measure. Since I was buying furniture and fixtures (and because I enjoy her company) I asked my ex-girlfriend to accompany me. We had lunch first and then started the shopping marathon. It all went fairly well actually as the chairs I had already picked out matched my new table (which was confirmed by the ex) and the vanity set was actually stylish and would work well in my small guest bathroom. The rest of the trip went exceedingly well (including two trips home to drop off the six chairs and new vanity set), so to celebrate we rented a movie and I bought sushi for dinner. The ex even helped me put the chairs together (very sturdy chairs with 11 bolts each!).

Over the holidays I heard a disturbing story about a town in Texas that is being terrorized by a rapist. The twist is the guy is raping other guys!! In TEXAS!!! Yikes. Turns out, according to the Justice Department, 1 in 33 men are victims of rape or attempted rape, while 1 in 6 women are victims of the same. First, that's 3% of the men and 16% of women....and both numbers are probably low because the victims fail to report the crimes. So what, 5% of guys are raped? Where the hell is the education in our schools about that? Holy crap, I didn't my ass was in such high demand.

A follow up to Christmas at The Sutton's. During dinner, my niece decided she was done eating and wanted to go play. My youngest sister, and my niece's mom, said,"You haven't even touched your turkey!" Without missing a beat or saying anything, my niece calmly placed her finger on the turkey on her plate and walked away. Ugh, that one's going to be trouble. It reminded me of a story of when I was 5 (back in 1971) and I was sitting in front of a half plate of food with a full stomach. My father said, "Eat your food. There are kids starving in China." I replied, "Name three." What do you do in that situation? As a parent, your bluff has been called. You're done. All you can do is laugh and let the kid go.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy New Year.....unless you're a Bears fan.

An odd, but relevant title. This morning the NFL moved the Bears/Packers game on New Year's Eve from noon to 7:30 pm!! If you do the math, going to the game means either: leave early to get home by midnight, celebrate in the car in traffic, or ring in the new year in the parking lot outside the stadium. There's a very outside chance of making it home in time to head back out somewhere, but it's not bloody likely. The NFL really screwed us. The game means nothing to the Bears and the Packers only have a remote chance of making the playoffs, so why move this game? Ugh. I had three parties to figure out how to attend and now I have another problem thrown into the mix. Crap.

Apparently the registration process on the site is a little more time consuming than I thought, so I've taken out that requirement to post comments. Fire away!

Two somewhat funny stories came out of the Sutton household on Christmas. First, my seven year old niece got a Nintendo something or other from Santa and was already playing with it when she arrived at her grandparents house. What she was playing with was an electronic dog program. So you have to do everything with this dog that you would have to do with a real dog: pet it, feed it, get it to learn it's name, etc. The last item was my point of humor: getting an electronic dog to learn its name. I guess there's a microphone in the game and a voice recognition program because you actually have to say the dogs name like a million times apparently to get it to learn. So all day my niece was walking saying, "Rose............Rose...........Rose...............Rose.........." ARRRRRGGHHHHHHHH!

The other humorous moment was not actually humorous to me at all, or my eldest sister. I'm not sure how you all open gifts on Christmas morn', but we usually have one person distribute all the gifts they bought and then the recipients open them one at a time. When it came to my turn to distribute my gifts, I did and then they were each opened as planned. However, when it came to my eldest sister, she said, "You didn't give me one." UUGGGGHHHH! What did I do? Did I leave it at home? Is it in the car? I don't remember wrapping a gift for her. What was I supposed to get her? Did I get it? Where did I go? Where's the @$#@%#@@ present?!?!?!? She was very calm about though and said, "Well, when you get it you can send it on to me." Finally, my mother leaned over and whispered to me reminding me that I went in with my parents on her gift, a very nice and expensive camera. Since all I had to do was write the check, I totally forgot about it! Everyone else in the room, except my sister, knew what I had given her though, but they just wanted to see me sweat. Nice family on Christmas huh? :-) It's all good though. I would have done the same thing.

Happy Boxing Day!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Nostradamus I am not, but almost

The party marathon is over! When this long journey began back on December 5th, I remarked that come Christmas I would either be dead or a father. Well, I'm still alive and to the best of my knowledge, I am NOT a father. It has been fun though and not only did I meet some new people, I renewed many friendships and even found a new bar to hang out in. So it was a pretty good 20 days.

Last night was the final event, this one with my softball team. After rolling home from the suburbs at close to 3:00 a.m., it's amazing that I'm capable of typing and we'll see if I stay awake for midnight mass or not. Two interesting things about last night. First, I was never more aware of the age difference between me and my teammates that actually go out drinking. Not because of stamina or drinking habits or anything like that, but because of their frugality. Now, they are mostly in their 20's, so I can completely understand. They haven't had 20 years of working behind their bank account like I have so things like a $9 cover charge is a slightly more significant expenditure to them than it is to me.

Second, I found a new food to snack on after drinking if you don't have chips or pretzels or the like: mission figs! Yeah, I know, sounds insane, but they were really good. The figs were in the house because I wrap them in bacon for my tailgate. A pretty good late night snack let me tell you!

Hopefully you were able to watch the Bears game today because it was a good one. The Bears won 26-21 over a very bad Detroit Lions team. If you recall, I predicted a Lions victory and they almost pulled it out. The Lions wide receiver had the ball in his hands in the endzone with no time left and dropped it.....again.....for the fifth time in the game. Ugh for him.

Since there hasn't been any comments on my last two postings, I fear my readers are happily celebrating the holiday weekend as opposed to reading, so I'll keep this entry short. Merry Christmas to all!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

'Twas two days before Christmas and all through the house....

....nobody was home because it was my dad's 70th birthday and we were taking him out to a late lunch (either linner or dunch) and then I had my softball game out in the burbs plus our softball Christmas party afterwards. So if anything is stirring my house, call the freakin' cops!!

Eddie Bauer came through for me yesterday with my 30th catalogue of the Christmas season!! Whoo-hooo! I hit 30! It's like Jerry Lewis' telethon; next year I want to get 31.

Another bit of good news, my last gift arrived via the United States Post Office today. A huge sigh of relief from yours truly. However, it made me think that maybe the gifts that person was receiving from me were a little light anyway. I might have to throw in a nice dinner to compensate; I'm sure they won't mind.

Last night I was out at a bar, Jack's, with my buddy Rich and his friend Bill (whom I also know fairly well). We were having a light dinner before they went to see a band play and before I was set to return home to get some much needed sleep. Before leaving however, we noticed a cute young lady sitting alone at the bar. Now normally I wouldn't do anything about the situation, but she'd been there for about 45 minutes all by herself in a fairly empty bar. So at the urging of Rich and Bill, when they left, I went over to the bar near her.

After some failed attempts on my part at polite conversation and another 15 minutes of her sitting alone (I was talking to the bartender whom I had befriended the night before), she finally decided that I was harmless enough and we had a very pleasant conversation. She was waiting for an old college friend (a guy) who was very late. She grew up in Laporte Indiana and went to both Purdue and Indiana University. Her father was a cattle farmer and she wanted to get out of the small town so she moved to Chicago. After working with a family run non-profit for six years, she decided to move into the corporate world and started a new job two weeks ago. Unfortunately, she already hated her job (after 2 weeks!) and corporate America to boot. I counseled her to give it a few months at least before giving up, especially if she didn't know what she really wanted to do.

About this time her friend called to say he was finally close by, so I bid her adieu, after telling her it would make her friend feel worse if she was sitting all alone when he walked in.....thought she could milk the guilt a bit. I went to shake her hand and much to my surprise she shook my hand, but then gave me a nice kiss! How 'bout that?! Now, if I were a player, I would have asked for her number I guess, but I'm either not a player or just stupid and left without it. Coffee's for closers right? Oh well.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The mall isn't sooooo bad

The Friday before Christmas and the last place you want to be, but the second to last place you want to be is the mall. Well, that's right where my buddy Rich and I found ourselves. Now, all of my shopping is done so why exactly would I be at a mall on the Friday before Christmas? Here's the story:

Yesterday I gave Rich written, cryptic instructions about how we were spending the day today. Simply, they said: "Be in your car at 9 and take I-90 west. When you get to 290/53, promptly call my cell phone." That was pretty much it. At the time, my thought was that I was going to be at our destination by the time he got out there and I would just give him directions. However, due to drinking Thursday night with my gay friend from LA (and several straight women!), I was running a little late.

So, as it turned out, luckily, when Rich called to tell me he was at 290/53, I was right next to him in my car!! He calls as directed and says, "Okay Sutton, what do I do now?" "Look to your left Rich", I say, ".....No, immediately to your left." Scene of Joe waving to Rich while we're going 70 mph's on I-90. "How did you do that?" Rich exclaimed. "Because I'm goooooood. Now follow me." I responded.

Too funny. The great Christmas gift that I was excited about in my 12/14 entry was indeed for Rich and his wife, so the rest of you can finally exhale. The gift was a remote car starter and installation! To me, these types of gifts are awesome: something really useful that makes your life better, but that you wouldn't necessarily buy for yourself.

While one car was being worked on, Rich and I went to Woodfield Mall and went shopping for a few gifts for his wife and generally people watched (my shopping was done) Since each car was going to take about 3 hours, we spent the whole day at the mall. It was fine though. Even on the Friday before Christmas, malls really aren't that bad, if you don't actually have to buy anything.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

...if you're in Denver, but certainly NOT in Chicago. A balmy 40+ today with rain. I'm very excited about global warming and the possibility of my Chicago condo becoming beach front property in the next 20 years or so. Sweet!! Seriously, if it got down into the 40's in Chicago in the winter and never snowed, I really wouldn't have a problem with that at all.

Two gifts have still not arrived! Arrgggghhh! Sure, I bought them online last weekend, but I'm starting to get a bit antsy. They are the last two gifts and, of course, they are both for the same person. Crap. Well, I still have today, tomorrow and Saturday to receive them. Here's hoping!!!

A fun night last night with a young lady, though poor planning on my part led us to a Mexican restaurant with a carafe of margaritas. What am I having tonight? Basically the same thing at a different restaurant. Oh well, no one ever claimed I was bright. The food, company and service were all pretty darn good though.

Football predictions are not my forte, but I'm going out on a limb this week and picking against the Bears who are playing at Detroit. I'm sure you're thinking one of two things: "Joe, you traitor!!" or "Joe, the Lions suck. How can the Bears lose to them?" Well, in response to the first thought, no, I'm a big fan but also a realist. In response to the second thought, yes, the Lions do suck 2-12 I believe. However, the Lions have nothing to play for so this is their Super Bowl. They also have a guy at QB who, while not stellar, throws the ball all over the field, a weakness of the Bears exploited last week by the leagues worst throwing team. With the Bears only playing 100% healthy players and already having wrapped up home field throughout the playoffs, this game has "trap" written all over it. Additionally, Lions fans are planning to leave their seats sometime in the fourth quarter, meet in one designated area and then start chanting "Fire Millen", the general manager of the Lions. The players may banned together and try to play well since Millen is an ex-player and generally seems like a good guy.

Due to anonymous comment postings, I changed my settings so you have to register to post comments. Registering isn't problematic I don't think and shouldn't take but a few seconds. You'll save time by having your screen name dropped in automatically when you post comments.

Finally, I made the comment to someone the other day that they would know about a particular topic in my life if they would only read my blog. They actually said, "I would, but there are so many words."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Back in the saddle....the writing saddle

Hi folks! Sorry for missing my usual Learning Tuesday. The reason I didn't write was that I was feeling sick Monday night and slept in until 10 Tuesday, which put me behind the 8-ball since I was going to meet people for drinks at 5 before seeing Wicked. Just didn't have enough time! So that's my reason.

Interesting commentary in The Red Eye today in the social section I think about 'reasons' versus 'excuses'. Reasons, the author posits, are what innocent people use when they don't call to cancel a date in advance. Liars use excuses. It's really a decent article for being in a free publication. Here's the article:,0,1377692.column?coll=red-frontheadlines

Did you guess the "man-o-lantern" quote from last Friday? A very funny line from The 40-Year Old Virgin.

Thanks to Victoria's Secret, the catalog count has gone up to 29 now! On Monday I received another catalog....can't remember from whom though, oh Lord and Taylor. Anyway, one more to go and three more days of mail before Christmas. It's going to be close!

Most of my thoughts are a bit scattered today, so my blog will be scattered as well. For instance, this picture doesn't relate to anything at all that I'm writing, but it's cool as hell!!

It's a picture from space of "lake effect" snow coming off the Great Lakes.

Today is day 15 of the marathon and I'm not doing too bad, despite the random hacking cough. Tonight shouldn't be bad, but tomorrow is Mexican food with a group of folks headed by a gay ex-coworker and friend from L.A. (you know who you are!! Like I have a second gay friend from L.A. right?) Anyway, the Mexican dinner means margaritas, most likely, and then we are going to a gay bar around the corner from me (remember I live in the heart of boystown?) for my one gay bar visit of the year. It's fine actually, except you focus more on talking to the people you are with when 90% of the people around you "play for the other team" and the other 10% are gay women who aren't looking at me! Too funny. Anyway, they have Kettel One Purple slushies that are just killer.

Finally, I Tivoed the Northern Illinois versus TCU game from last night and I haven't seen that kind of domination since the Bears of 85-86. Ugh. Northern just got hammered. TCU would have two or three guys in the backfield before Garrett Wolf even got the ball and just stymied him. And this running back is no slouch. He leads the NCAA in rushing and is 9th all-time in college rushing yards. The score ended up 35-7 though in favor of TCU and that was WITH Northern blocking three kicks! Yikes.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's only day 12....Good Lord, I may not make it!

Alive and kicking, yes, but barely. Ugh, the things that were coughed up from my lungs this morning should not be viewed by any human and I probably should have saved them for donation to the Smithsonian. A day off today was helpful, but talking on the phone is almost impossible (as much a product of yelling at the Bears' lousy defense yesterday as it was from coughing).

As you know, I am in the midst of a 17 day marathon where I don't have two consecutive days without a social activity of some kind that involves alcohol. Well, the 17 days has now been extended to 19 days with a party on the 23rd proposed by my softball team which plays on Saturdays. It's also my father's 70th birthday! Should be quite a day! Anyway, I thought I was making progress, but I just added two days to the marathon. Oh well, at least people like me enough to invite me places. How's that for staying positive? :-)

Tuesday night I'm seeing "Wicked" again. Should be fun. The person ultimately responsible for me meeting frequent poster Alexis and her dad (one of my current business partners) is back from Australia for the holidays and organized the night. I'm looking forward to seeing her again as well as the show.

Here are two pics from the tailgate yesterday. A lot of good food the beverages were tasty. Had a little scare when the car wouldn't start after we packed it up including stuffing four guys in the back and two women (they work the beer stand near my seats) in the front who needed a ride to their remote lot parking. Fortunately, one of the three or four cars left in the lot was willing to come over and give my car a jump.

A television decision was been made!! Like "that sweater", the television I've selected isn't the cheapest or even a mid level really, it's a higher priced, higher performing set that should really "fit" me well. The winner is the Pioneer 50" Plasma PDP-5071HD. It's well regarded and I saw one at Best Buy that really blows the other options away. Now I can see if I can find it for less money somewhere!!

Today I ran out of gift options and am running out of time, so I had to go with some gift cards. I apologize in advance! I know, I'm a bad person.

What are you doing on New Year's Eve? I'd like to hear how normal people are spending the night. I've been invited to three parties and have Bears/Packers tickets during the day, so it's going to be another crazy day!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Still alive and kicking!

Three tough days of celebrating the holidays and the Bears' overtime victory against a decidedly pathetic 3-10 Tampa Bay team. The Friday night party at my clients' (yes, two of them) was fun, though I was the only single person there. The party was at one of the client's homes and it was catered. The food was really good, but the desserts were really, really good! The main dessert was small cheesecake, dipped in either white, milk or dark chocolate and on a lollipop stick for easy consumption!

Saturday night I trekked out to the suburbs for a party at one of my childhood friend's house. Since the trip out there is about 45 minutes to an hour, I picked up two of my good friends and became the designated driver for the evening. Now, since we arrived at 8 and didn't leave until 12:30, I was still able to drink a little, but the last hour or so was nothing but water for me. We were even playing a drinking game and I was doing "shots" of water. Too funny.

Part of the evening was a gift exchange that allowed "stealing". It worked like this: each of the 15 people brings a wrapped gift and then draws a number. Whoever has #1 goes first and picks a gift. Then whoever has #2, yours truly in this case, can either steal the first person's gift or pick one of the remaining wrapped gifts. I opted to select a new gift and came up with these two games plus a set of glasses:

Kind of fun! Anyway, they weren't mine yet since ANYONE drawing after me could still steal my gifts and force me to pick something else. The woman who ended up with the Tera Patrick porn DVD, probably wished she had stolen my games! Nothing says Christmas like a porno! Ha!! And that wasn't even the most risque of the gifts.

My Saturday before going to the party consisted of doing some work, shopping for the tailgate on Sunday and then prepping the food for Sunday. There was going to be six of us at the tailgate, half of whom hadn't been to my tailgate before, so I wanted to make sure I made some good grub. It was pretty much my standard fare for a tailgate: egg, ham and cheese sandwiches, chili and appetizers wrapped in bacon (figs, dates and shrimp). Good eating again if I say so myself.

Unfortunately I didn't get to bed until almost 2 on Sunday morning, so the seven o'clock alarm came pretty early, intoxicated or not. One of my fellow tailgaters whom I was giving a ride, who shall be named (Ben the Bastard) was 30 minutes late and suffered my wraith the rest of the day. Don't screw with the tailgate!!! Once we arrived though, the food and alcohol flowed freely in the 50 degree weather. If you've never been, tailgating is much more enjoyable when it's warm and not windy. Today was both, so we had a great time.

Have a great week all! Don't forget, one week until Christmas!! Oh, and happy day three or four of Hanukkah! Keep those candles burning.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Day 10 of the marathon and am I a player?

Yes, it's day ten of the socializing marathon and the next three days should prove to be some of the toughest. Tonight is a party in the 'burbs with two clients at one of their houses followed by another party in the 'burbs tomorrow with childhood friends. If I survive all of that, I have the Bears game on Sunday with mild weather and what should be a strong tailgate.

The other night, at one of the marathon events, I was accused by a woman half-in-the-bag of being a "player"! Me? Really? Should I be happy or pissed? Obviously the six year marriage and two four year relationships unknowingly qualify me for "player" status. Now, at first, I looked at it positively and as a compliment of sorts....sort of puffed my chest out a bit, ya know. But then, I thought about it a bit and quickly moved to the insulted realm. At no point in the past have I ever thought like I believe players think, especially about women. If I found a woman tomorrow that I was into and that was into me, monogamy here I come!! That doesn't seem like a player's thought....does it?

Who recognizes this movie quote? "You look like a man-o-lantern." A very, very funny relatively recent movie.

And finally, in the "boy don't you feel old" category, on this date in 1994, the web browser Netscape Navigator 1.0 was first released. Holy crap! At that time, I think I was still wondering if the whole "internet" thing was just a flash in the pan or here to stay. I actually had a robust discussion with someone about it! Another instance of me being completely wrong. Won't be the last time, sadly.

Oh, picture of the day, which has been delayed about a week. Couldn't NOT post this picture:

Good ol'Rip Torn after his DUI.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gifts and boxes

The catalogue count is up three more to 27! Nordstroms and Williams Sonoma sent another catalogue yesterday and Fresh Seafood sent their first of the season. Three more baby!! Three more!!

My mother, God bless her, accumulates many things: teapots, books, buttons, plastic bags and boxes just to name a few. The last of these causes constant consternation with my father and was always a source of humor growing up. But once again I find that good ol'mom isn't as crazy as one might first think. Last year for Christmas, I actually had to go out and BUY boxes for one of the few times in my life in order to wrap gifts. Again this year I find myself in need of at least a few boxes and I have none. Sure, I know mother knows best, but do I have to constantly prove the saying?

Every few years, or possibly longer, I come up with a really GREAT gift idea. Now this kind of sucks for you guys reading because I can't tell you what it is this year until after Christmas, but I have an awesome gift for someone this year. Has that ever happened to you where you just get completely jacked about getting a particular gift for a particular person? Let me, and the other readers know.

A few years ago, I came up with a really great gift idea for my dad. He had about half of the set of 1949 Bowman baseball cards that he had collected as a 13 year old kid. Really big names in that set: Stan Musial, Warren Spahn, Duke Snyder, Satchell Paige and Jackie Robinson just to name a few. Anyway, in the '70's while he was working two jobs and taking college classes and my mom was working the third shift in the accounting office at the A & P, they needed the money and sold these cards (about 100 of them) for $1 a piece (actually a fair price at the time probably). My mom had made a list of those cards in order to help sell them. I found that list several years ago. Over the next 18 months, I proceeded to find and buy each and every one of those cards my dad had sold and gave them to him for Christmas. Probably the best gift I've ever given anyone just due to the sheer amount of work involved.

I'd like to hear what your favorite gift, given or received, has been. I couldn't answer what the best gift received was, but the story above is the best gift I've ever given.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Turn to the skies.....and your mailboxes

December 13th....I am now officially in a state of denial as to how close we are to Christmas. Last night I was shopping on line and saw a whole mess of products with a little note underneath the product description that said, "Cannot deliver by Christmas." Arrrggghhh! I didn't want any of those things, but that's irrelevant.

Hey, if you're a astronomy freak like I am, look to the heavens tonight/early tomorrow. I don't think we're going to have clear skies in Chicago, but there's a great meteor shower tonight. Nothing better than taking that special someone out late at night, snuggled under a blanket, sipping hot chocolate (spiked of course) and watching an active meteor shower. It really is cool. Let me know if you get to see any of them.

In a very Krameresque move, I've decided to keep track of the number of catalogues I receive this holiday season. The catalogue season is probably coming to an end and I'm up to 24. Hoping to reach 30 before Christmas, but there aren't many days left!

Try not to get stressed out these last two weeks before Christmas. That's NOT what the season is about!!! Oh and thanks to JJ for making me feel better about my tree with a picture of her tree. Granted, she's Jewish and shouldn't have ANY tree, so it's not completely a fair comparison.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Welcome to 1995 Joe, part deux!

In a fit of trying to catch up with the rest of the world, I now have caller i.d.!! Yes, no more randomly picking up the phone with my usual, "Joe Sutton" statement. The funny thing is, I've had a phone capable of using caller i.d. for some time, I just never subscribed. The blame for my recent purchase falls squarely on the devil I call the "cell phone". The more I use that damn thing, the more convenient it becomes: text messages, caller i.d., constant communication. Ironically, those were all the things I hated about cell phones. Now I love them. Ugh.

It's a Learning Tueday and since the topic is phones, I lifted some interesting information out of the comic section of the Tribune a few weeks back. The comics page is the last true bastion of reliable journalism in my book. First, two easy questions: What two letters do not appear on older phone keypads? For you texters, this is not an easy quetion because the phone makers added the letters with the advent of cell phones and text messages. Second, what two digits do not have ANY letters associated with them? Also fairly easy.

Before I reveal the answers and the "why" behind them, you might need a little history. First, letters were originally added to the keypad to help people remember phone numbers. Back in the day, they, obviously, didn't have cell phones with memory chips that could remember the numbers dialed and such. So in order to help out the citizens, and paying customers mind you, they added the letters. For some reason, they figured seven digits were too many to remember, but they thought five digits was easy. So the phone company came up with "exchanges". I remember a commercial back in Detroit that used an exchange in it, but I'm not sure of the exact number any was something like KLondike3-2700....and there was a little tune that went with it. The exchanges actually consisted of the first three numbers, but used the first two letters of the word and then the first number; in this case 553.

That's all fine and dandy, but why were there no Q or Z on the keypad (the answer to the first question by the way)for decades? Well, zero was used to call the operator and one was used internally by the phone company, so they had eight numbers to work with and 26 letters in the alphabet. Putting three on a pad got you close with 24 letters, but two would have to be left off. The two least used letters in the alphabet? Q and Z. So there you go. Cell phones added Q to the 7 key though and Z has been added to the 9 key. Had the phone been invented in Greece, their alphabet would have fit just fine:

The weather has turned decidely warmer here the last few days and most of the snow and ice have melted. My Bears are 11-2 and have clinched a first round bye in the playoffs. All is good.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Quick post for you non-believing tree critics!!

I'm tired of all the crap I'm getting about my tree!! It's a perfectly fine tree and it is indeed 6' tall! I'm 5'11", so to my drunken' packer fan to the north....pffffttttt!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Up and down Sunday

Before I launch into my Sunday, here's my $20 Christmas tree:

Not bad, but I should have bought a slightly taller one I think. Oh well, next year maybe.

Non-Bear's home game Sundays means church at 10:30. Today was going to be more interesting though because my buddy Rich and his wife were going to be there which is rare indeed! Their reason for attending? They have a cottage up north and their neighbors (whom I've met) were in town and they are pretty religious. Anyway, I digress. So after mass we all went for a very nice lunch/brunch at The Harmony Grill, which I highly recommend.

So that was all positive. This afternoon, while putting something away in my storage closet, I opened the door and it hit a floor lamp, knocking it over and breaking it. Ugh. One for the negative side.

After doing some grocery shopping (kind of a negative), I came home to find a brand new drill outside my door (like Christmas!). My upstairs neighbors had borrowed my drill and then it got stolen from their friend's car, so they bought me a new one.

Then I wrote out some Christmas cards (nice to accomplish something today!), but realized after an hour or so that I was only halfway done! Ugh again. (yes, I realize that I'm blessed to have so many friends, so it's not completely lost on me.)

Finally, I checked on my fantasy football team since this is the first week of playoffs. I had two defenses to choose between, and I picked the wrong one. But the wide receivers I picked were top notch! But then I had three good quarterbacks to choose from and the one I chose, performed the worst of the three. Ugh. But my worst one, was still as good as my opponents quarterback, Peyton Manning! So good again. My opponent has Desmond Clark going for the Bears on Monday night, so cheer for the Bears, but not Des Clark!

I'm telling you, it was just a roller coaster day. Hopefully your Sunday was slightly smoother.

Oh, one last thing since a commercial just came on the TV. Have you seen this crazy-ass Playstation 3 commercial with a baby doll sitting in an empty white room except for a Playstation box sitting on a chair? It's just freakin' scary. The baby starts crying and the camera focuses on its eyes and they light on fire and then the baby gives off this crazy, demonic laugh. Yikes. I hate that commercial.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Lunch with dejesus......freak

Yes, I had lunch with a poster yesterday. Is that allowed? Can I be sued for sexual harassment? Clearly not as dejesus freak is one of my buddies who lives around the corner from me. We went to my favorite little Jewish deli, The Bagel. Good eating as always. We even had my favorite waiter, whose name I still don't know. Bad Joe.

One thing dejesus freak asked me, early on in fact, was "How do you come up with interesting, well not really interesting, but at least a topic to write about every day?" He almost complimented me there, but not quite. It is interesting though, when you write everyday like this, you start to think about things you can write about as they happen to you and then actually look forward to trying to make it interesting....or funny.....or to convey a potential tidbit of knowledge.

dejesus freak and I haven't spoken in some time, before Thanksgiving, so one of the topics was relationships we've been in since we've seen each other last. On my end, we revisited my trip to see Lonestar, that's the young lady's screen name, and the subsequent events. The conversation led me to make contact with Lonestar again, which was nice.

On a completely different topic, today I returned to the softball field! After a two month layoff due to a pulled hamstring, groin and strained hip flexor, I was able to hit and run again finally. The physical therapy has paid off! I hit leadoff and went 5-5. At third base, I was able to move pretty well and made the final out by cutting in front of the shortstop in the hole and threw out the runner at first. The coach gave me the game ball! Seems silly, and it sort of is, but everyone was happy to see me back on the field again. After the game we had some drinks in the bar with some or our female fans which was good too!! An all around pretty good night.

Another victory today for me was buying a Christmas tree! As I have done some times in the past, I went to Menards and bought one of their trees for about $20. Seems simple enough and today it was, but the last time I went there the guy working the tree lot actually had only one hand. Now, I'm all for hiring the handicapped in any capacity, but are you telling me that this was the best position for someone who needs to use a hand saw to cut the base off the tree? The dude didn't even have a chainsaw! He was literally using a regular hand saw to cut the stumps off of these trees, then would help some people load their trees in or on their car. Think about this guy cutting stumps and doing this like 50-60 times a day. Unbelievable. I assumed that no one else was working and this poor guy had to do it, but no, I went into the store and there were a bunch of employees just standing around staying warm inside. Didn't seem to make much sense to me. Today was a different story though: two guys, two hands each and using chainsaws. Went like clockwork. Maybe tomorrow I'll post a picture of my little tree!

Bears are playing on Monday night, so enjoy the other games that are on Sunday.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Welcome to 1995 Joe!

Okay, I'm tired of my own blog ripping on me for the seemingly endless dumb things I do and now it's for doing something smart....or at least efficient....albeit a bit late. Finally, I was able to generate labels for my Christmas cards!! Yes, while you have been printing these out for the last decade, I've been hand writing the addresses on nearly 50 cards a year. Pretty sad, I know. That's all done now though! I'm back in the game, though a decade late.

Tonight was quite an adventure. I met my buddy "T" for a some food before our main party. Unfortunately, I was late since the normal 20 minute train ride took an hour! It was very similar to the last time he and I hooked up, but it took him 2 hours. Once I finally got there, our server, Joe (no relation), turned out to be not the brightest star in the sky. So that was another hour. Ugh. Finally we made it to 311 south Wacker and the site of our party, Winter Garden.

Before I go on, see if you can answer this question: What did Joe have more of?
1) whiskey and ginger ales
2) beers
3) crab claws
4) white chocolate covered strawberries
The answer, later in the blog.

In going to this party, I really only knew one person. That one person however, is married with two small children, so he left before we even got there!! That was disappointing. On the positive side, there were many other people that I knew there that didn't actually work for the company. Talking to me and T at one point were: a lawyer, a messine financing guy, a banker, a consultant and real estate tax guy, all of whom I knew. Pretty crazy for a relatively small party!!

In addition to the drinks, there were great appetizers: oysters, shrimp, crab claws, some kind of meat and the desert table. Good stuff. Since T had done an internship at the company throwing the party, he made plenty of introductions and knew lots of people too. A good time was had by all.

You probably heard about the Kim family in Oregon that took a wrong road and ended up trapped in the wilderness. The husband, James, decided to go look for help after a week of staying in the car and waiting for help. James walked 10 miles before collapsing due to hypothermia. If you're in a such a situation, remember the rule of threes:
You can survive for three hours without shelter
You can survive for three days without water
You can survive for three weeks without food

Fortunately the wife and two children were subsequently rescued. A tough, tough situation. James is certainly a hero in my book.
Finally, the tally on what I consumed:
1) 4
2) 2
3) 3
4) 5, and they were absolutely delicious.

Day two is over. I think I'm passing on a party on Friday, but I'll be back at it on Saturday!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Day One of the Marathon: From Sweats to Suit

Today was the first day of my marathon of events that extends the next 17 days....sort of an elongated Chanukah. It started off however, in a suit and tie. Yes, I do own several suits and a multitude of ties, however I realized that I don't own many plain, white shirts. Another thing for the Christmas list Bee!

My buddy "R" and I met at the office and went to see three economists from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business speak about 2007 and beyond. Most of you probably are thinking....snore....but I have to tell you, it was pretty interesting stuff. They were not only three of the more dynamic economists I've ever heard speak, but two of them would have been at home in a night club. Good stuff.

For instance, one guy made predictions about who was going to die in 2007. Last year he did the same thing and was wrong on all accounts. This year he chose the leaders of these countries, for various reasons, as the most likely candidates to not see 2008: Nepal (reasonable given the coup), Malaysia, the Monarch of Thailand and the king of Saudia Arabia and the crown prince (for the second year in a row by the way). See? That's fun!

After our economics lesson and death notice, we went back to the office to get some work done before the first of my events. R was supposed to go with me, but he's had the plague since Friday and is still not feeling well. So I was on my own, which meant a prime opportunity to NOT get out of control. The law firm's event was held at the very swank Standard Club in the south Loop. Even my valet was paid for! Sweet. The appetizers were great: shrimp toast, artichokes in a little bread cup of some sort, smoked salmon and capers on bread, chicken wrapped in something and fried, oh and sushi. All good stuff. The main food items were things like: pasta, carved beef, salmon inside something, aw, hell, I don't know. There was a lot of good food.

I ate plenty and only had two drinks (a rum and coke and a Jameson and gingerale). Not bad for two hours. Two of the three lawyers that I knew there were very accomodating with their time and we had fun catching up on each other's businesses. The one guy and I have known each other for about 12 years, so it's always good to see him.

After some good food, conversation and just two drinks, I decided to call it a night and was home by 7 or so. Not bad for day one. Tomorrow: a large consulting and valuation firm is having their party. One of my other buddies is joining me, so it could prove to be a bit more dangerous. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Uh oh, is that a tickle in my throat?

Stressful work and the bitter cold (along with some alcohol) might have weakened my defenses a bit going into my holiday "marathon". I'm taking preventive steps, but we'll see how it all goes. If need be, I can always take a night or two off (gasp!).

So the other day when it was bitter cold (pick one), I threw on my lounging sweat pants. It was at that point that I realized the drawstring was thinning and had been broken and repaired twice. Now, as you know, I certainly have the means to own a decent pair of sweat pants, but honestly I haven't even thought about getting another pair. In fact, I tried to figure out how old this pair of Timberland sweatpants actually is. I'm afraid to mentally go back past four years, but I guarantee you it's more than that. Funny how we get attached to things. Funny too, how while you're laying in bed you think a paragraph on your blog about your sweat pants might be interesting. Or that a cookie sheet will do the job of a broiling pan.

I saw on the tele (I think that's how the Brits spell it) the other day that Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are dating/living together/married, I'm not exactly sure. Really? Does that strike anyone else as just a bit odd? I know Jenny isn't the prize she used to be before she lost her "human face" and normal body shape for the airbag and starvation look, but Jim Carrey? Okay, the guy's funny, I'll give him that....but he kind of looks like a sewer rat now with his new hair style. Anyway, it just caught me off guard. Here's the young Jenny if you don't recall her appearance. Actually, I'll put up a new one too.

Young Jenny. Newer Jenny.

Will the "real" Jenny please stand up?

My buddy from Jersey recommended CNet for checking out info on the big tele. Looks like they have some good info and they even rate them. Nice.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Broiling versus.....just being stupid

As it's a learning Tuesday, or will be when most people read this, I just wanted to let everyone know that not all pans do well with broiling. Joe-the-cromagnon-chef thinks, "Umph, cookie sheet good. Broil pork chops on cookie sheet. Good. Umph." Yeah, it didn't really turn out all that well as you can imagine. The pork chops were fine, but they were the only thing emerging from the oven unscathed. So now my cookie sheet is screwed up....just in time for the holidays. Crap. Well, another lesson learned: use the broiling pan when broiling. "Idiot."---Napolean Dynamite

The topic of the day on Wikipedia is Down Syndrome. Unfortunately, I know several people who have children with Down Syndrome and still I was surprised to see that it afflicts every 1-800 to 1-1000 births. That's pretty frequently. Look at that graph in the middle of the page showing the risk of incidence of Down Syndrome related to maternal age at birth. Wow. Powerful stuff.

Okay, sports rant here. Feel free to ignore.
The Bears currently have a two game lead in the conference for the #1 seed. The are 8-0 in the conference with four games to play. Four games.....if they blow this and don't retain the #1 seed, I'd have to vote for Lovie Smith for worst coach of the year. If such an award doesn't exist, I'll have to start one. Lacking evidence to the contrary, such as interference by the GM (Angelo), I'd put the blame squarely on Lovie's shoulders. One more bad game by Rex and there's no reason to not start Griese, just to see what he can do. I mean, hell, he can't do worse! Seriously, you can't be worse than Grossman was yesterday. Brutal.

Okay, the rant is over.

At least 5 more shorehouse references today before I got my buddy from Jersey on his plane home. He's a great guy and I enjoyed having him over. He bought me a Tommie Harris (#91) jersey as a thank you for having him in town. Guess who sprained their knee on Sunday? Yep, Tommie Harris. Just my luck. A nice gesture by Jersey guy! Get it? Jersey guy bought me a jersey? Ha! I crack myself up.

It was even colder here today than it was yesterday! After the game, I really didn't think I would say, "Wow, we got lucky with the weather." But that's exactly what I said this morning when the wind chill was zero degrees instead of 7. I need to go somewhere warm..........

Sunday, December 03, 2006


You'd think that's two words, but it appears to be only one. My buddy from Jersey finally arrived late Friday (11:30 and at Midway instead of O'Hare), but at least he got in. We met some folks out and closed the bar, tried to hit a 4 o'clock bar, but there was a long line. I'm way too old to stand in line for a 4 o'clock bar.....probably way too old to even THINK about it, but hey, I was entertaining my buddy!

Saturday, as you can imagine, was a little slow....again. We went to the grocery store to shop for Sunday's tailgate and then went to Morton's Steak House for an outstanding dinner (not cheap!). We timed it beautifully to show up at the Burwood Tap for a birthday party from 9-12, $30 all you can drink of anything except Red Bull. We had a lot of fun there and hit another bar afterwards.

Soooooo, Sunday morning came pretty freakin' early. Not to worry though, we were only a half hour later than usual for tailgating. It was a balmy 14 degrees when we arrived, but it climbed to 20 by game time, though the wind chill made it feel like 7. Ugh. The food was great (I made chili in addition to my usual cache of food). Unfortunately, Mr. Heater had mixed reviews at best. Both heaters were working only part of the time and would make an unsettling noise. We think the wind was blowing out the flame, but we're not sure.

For the first time that I can remember, we bailed on the tailgate after the game and headed home to warm up and get some coffee. We ate the tailgate food for dinner though, but heated in or on the oven as opposed to the grill. It was still all good! Oh and the Bears won despite an absolutely pathetic performance by Rex Grossman, the Bears quarterback. Sorry folks, we can't win the Super Bowl with this guy playing this poorly. Either bench him now and see what the back up can do, or fix his problems. Easier said than done. Another buddy of mine made a good point though: Bill Parcells (the head coach of Dallas) released his multi-million dollar kicker and replaced his multi-million dollar qb with a guy who hasn't kicked regularly in two years and a qb from Eastern Illinois University. The qb, Tony Romo, is 5-0 as a starter I believe and has been making great throws. That kicker was 3-4 today including the game winner. C'mon Lovie, it's your turn to make the tough calls.

Regarding the shorehouse, I didn't count the actual number of references to it, but there had to be 30. Pretty funny since I never heard this term used before. Obviously it's a house on the Jersey shore that you either own or can rent out and it sounds like fun. It's probably much like having a place up in Wisconsin or Michigan.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Heart attack snow!!

You've all heard that term I'm sure. It's wet, heavy snow and a lot of it. That's what we had in Chicago overnight. There was probably 2-3 inches on the ground, nowhere near the 4-12 inches they were predicting. Fortunately, all I had to do was clean my car off. :-) Unfortunately, my buddy flying in from NJ for the Bears game, changed his flight from arriving at 2:15 to the one arriving at 8:30. The original flight landed at 3. His later flight is now looking at being 3 hours late. Isn't that the way?

Just looked at the calendar on the wall and between 12/6 and 12/23, there aren't two nights in a row where I don't have some kind of party or event going on. If I weren't writing this blog, I'd just say "See you on the other side!", but I'll be in touch as usual.

As you're preparing to be all materialistic about Christmas, don't you think if you give a gift, it should be more about the effort put into the gift than the value of the gift card you buy? I firmly believe it, but some people look at me like I have three heads when I say that. It's almost like getting a gift from a little kid; that macaroni picture frame is much more valuable than the $25 gift card to Home Depot. The wife of one of my friends doesn't want him to try and buy her clothes for Christmas. Now what would be better if he went out, spent time trying to figure out an outfit that she would like, know the sizes she wears and then wrap something up? Is a mall gift certificate or a piece of jewelry better? Of course if it's a big diamond-anything it's better, but I'm talking comparative pricing here! Anyway, this year, give a little more thought to your gifts if you're going to spend money. Food for thought.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

If you weren't paying attention, you might think it's a 1940's spy novel.

The cold weather has arrived in Chicago, but not the snow....yet. It's supposed to be pretty nasty. Tomorrow I have a buddy flying in from Jersey to go to the Bears game with me and generally party all weekend. Should be plenty of stories to write about next week!

I'm sure you've heard of this ex-Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, who was a critic of Putin's, getting poisoned and then dieing just before Thanksgiving. Another prominent critic of Putin, journalist Anna Politkovskaya, was shot dead in Moscow in October and no one has been arrested in the killing. As if that wasn't enough to write a bad '40's set spy novel, an ex-Prime Minister of Russia, Yegor Gaider has seemingly been poisoned. However, he wasn't a critic of Putin's. Is poisoning coming back into vogue?

Fantasy football is winding down and yours truly is finally in first place in his own league. The league has been together for about four or five years, and I've never won it.....really not even close. So this year is quite a coup. This week is the last week before playoffs start and I'm pretty pumped. All the early season smack-talkers have taking a fall from grace and are oddly quiet now. Speak softly and carry a big stick.....that's what I say!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I've seen the future of garage sales and it is The Family Dollar Store.

--Have you ever been into one of these places? It's not a Dollar Store, where everything is a dollar. No, this is just the crap store. Unbelievable. Some classic items:

  • Really cheap looking wrapping paper

  • Witch Hazel (16 oz, what the hell is this stuff anyway and why do I need 16 oz of it?)

  • Sweat pants, sweat shirts, sweat underwear and I think sweat-spaghetti, but I'm not sure

  • Jesus clock (wall mounted)

  • Jesus clock (mantle)

  • Jesus and Mary clock (wall mounted again)

  • Many, many copies of a DVD of Bela Lugosi versus The Brooklyn Gorilla (I swear, even I couldn't make this shit up)

I wandered in there while my car was being serviced....never again.

--Last night I went out to see my folks and my visiting aunt ($59 airfare one way!). My mom served up some Stuffed Green Pepper Soup. Really, really tasty stuff. Here's the recipe:

That last line is Boil and simmer for 30 minutes. That's it! Gawd is it good.

--Buy your tickets to Sweden everyone!! According to a report I heard on the radio, they (whoever they are) are building an ABBA museum in Stockholm to be finished in 2008. Sweet. I'm a huge ABBA fan and I'm not afraid to admit it......however, it doesn't help my street cred any.

--Does anyone remember the television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. or The Prisoner? Came up in conversation yesterday. Good stuff, though I don't remember UNCLE as much as I do The Prisoner. When that rover started coming after him.....just chilling.

--Many people ask me why all the links to Wikipedia and do I have some relationship with them. Nope, they are a legal not for profit entity which accepts donations and operates due to the support of several privately funded grants and donations from every day people. No ads on the site, but a wealth of information. I love them!!

--Finally, it's 60+ degrees and rainy in Chicago today. Tomorrow, mid 30's and snow. Ugh. Hello winter.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My old friend, how could I have forgotten ye?

A pretty great day in Chicago Monday: 65 degrees and no precipitation. Nice. Thursday it's all supposed to come to a screeching halt as the high is only supposed to be 35. Ugh.

My picture of the day is an autographed photo from the Big Red Machine era in baseball: Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose. Recently aquired on Ebay, I bought a frame and matting today and hung it up.

It's another Learning Tuesday, so here we go:

My old friend Wikipedia has some good information about DLP, Plasma and LCD televisions. I bypassed the history portion and went to the pros and cons sections. Good stuff. I'm going to head out to a new Grand Appliances (on North Avenue) which is advertising a 50" Plasma, LCD and DLP. Hopefully they'll be physically sitting close to each other so I can compare them. Here are the links:

And where are all my readers? I expected a throng of comments on things from televisions to Christmas trees to my mysterious black paper. Are you all shopping online instead of visiting my blog? Can't really blame me something nice!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Quick TV follow-up

The upshot of the Fox news report:
Plasma, LCD and DLP.
Plasma can have a brighter picture, has a glass screen and is more available in the 42-60+ inch size

LCD's are good in the mid-range sizes (42 inches and under) and are better if you have a lot of overhead or natural light in a room because it doesn't have a glass screen, hence no reflection.

They didn't cover DLP well, except anecdotaly to say it's expensive and you should check to make sure you have a fair number of HDTV programs from your provider otherwise it's not worth it. Hmmmmmm, mildly helpful. Still interested in your thoughts.

Calling all technofiles!!

A blog, or at least my blog, is all about give and take.....much like a relationship. And I feel like I have a relationship with my readers, mostly because I do in some way. But additionally, I try to add something interesting to your day (maybe a interesting fact or a humorous story) and appreciate your comments which can illuminate my thoughts as well. Sometimes, I ask for your assistance and this is one of those times.

After much deliberation (and spending several nights at home for the first time in a while), I've decided to get a big-ass TV. Currently I'm thinking something along the lines of 50+ inches. Does anyone have a TV in that realm that they like and would recommend? How about just comments on TVs that you've seen? It doesn't have to be flat panel as the place I'm putting it has plenty of room and it wouldn't be along a wall.

As I write this, there's going to be a story on Fox news about HDTV's, so maybe that will help. I went to Best Buy's site and found some helpful information. It seems like the problems with "image burning" in the plasmas is no longer an issue, but I'd still like to hear your thoughts.

Also news related, there's a story on how to sell your house faster by using an "accredited stager". These people basically just rearrange your furniture and stuff to make it more appealing. Fine, whatever works, but who the hell is "accrediting" these people? Please don't tell me they have an actual organization or something. Good Lord.

Bears lost today, so I'm feeling a little down on this Sunday evening. On top of that, the weather is supposed to turn sour later this week, which is going to mean a very, very cold tailgate at the Bears game on Sunday. I'll be able to counter with a brand new heater that you throw on top of a propane tank though. Here's a pic:

I bought the double heater top. Picture courtesy of Cabelas.

The double can throw off 28,000 BTU's of heat! Sweet.

Do you have your Christmas tree up (or Festivus Pole )? I was wondering when it's appropriate to put it up and if this week is too early. I've seen a bunch of cars with trees strapped to their roofs though, so it's probably all good. Just curious: real or fake? How much did you spend if you chose real?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Promises, promises

As promised, I've done more research on the Button Gwinnett autograph issue. Turns out that his autograph is indeed extremely valuable (somewhere between $100k-$250k based on references I've found) and mostly it's because there are only 36 known autographs of his and because he signed the Declaration of Independence. Here's a link to a copy of his autograph:

However, his autograph is no where near as valuable as Julius Caesar's ($2million) check out #252

or Shakespeare (probably in the same ballpark since only 6 copies exist).

Compare those to this link which has the cost of autographs from living people:

Ok, now on to a selfish item. My mother, you can see her on yesterday's blog, dug out a pack of these sheets that are half the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. I have no idea what they are for, but they are from the Revell company back when they were in Valencia, CA. Revell makes model cars, planes, etc. now, though I'm not sure what they used to make. Here's a scan of one of these sheets:

Anyone recognize what it's for? My first thought was a Lite-Bright sheet for the older models, but it's too small. Both sheets combined are the size of half a sheet of notebook paper. Even if you don't know what it's for, let me hear your guesses!

Searching for the answer led me to this link:
make sure you look at the full window, not just what pops up. To help you out with designs, check out this link:

Back when games were much simpler......enjoy.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!! Urrrrrrrrrrrp!!

Uhhhhhhhhhhh, so much food! Hopefully your day was filled with food and festivities as well. Below are pictures of some of the food we had. In addition, I'll list it out: Salad with lots of garlic, mashed spuds, sweet potatoes, 2-kinds of filling, turkey of course, gravy, pumpkin and apple pie. Appetizers were deviled eggs, chips, dip, veggies and a Christmas wreath strudel-like-thing.


Sweet potatoes. Was I the only one eating the sweet potatoes? I don't care, they were great!

Christmas wreath strudel pastry.

Notice the disposable plates. We Sutton's are nothing if not lazy about dishes!!

Ma making the spuds! Always a favorite.

I could go on and on about interesting statistics (including the first Thanksgiving being attributed to a meal held in 1621 between the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims), so instead I'll just show you a link and let you adventure yourself:

Bee mentioned that she heard on the WBBM radio that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers. I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to why.

Two interesting Friday references I've come across the last two days: Black Friday and the possible origins of Friday the 13th. Black Friday is the name for the Friday after Thanksgiving in which stores have their busiest shopping day in terms of customer traffic and is so named some speculate, because their performance on this day will determine if they will end up in the black (good) or red (bad).

Second, the possible origins of Friday the 13th, can be found with this link:

Sounds cool at least! You should actually look up Knights Templar on Wikipedia prior to seeing The DaVinci Code if you have the time and inclination. It's out on DVD now and a decent rental.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dream Police

It was the day after a long weekend and I was in college. My car had been stolen just before I left for the weekend, so I had to find an alternate way to and from home. Even though I had a motorcycle, it was a three hour drive on not the safest roads, so I hitched a ride with other college students as so often happens. That was behind me now though and I was late for Monday class. Had to get over to the motorcycle and get across campus. Unfortunately, the motorcycle wasn't where I left it. In fact, the motorcycle too had been stolen! Great. My dad's going to be really pissed now. I have to call the police and insurance company to file the paperwork. What kind of motorcycle was it again.......wait.....I don't know how to ride a motorcycle.....hell, I can't even drive a stick shift. But my motorcycle was stolen and I need to report it.....but I don't own a motorcycle......wait, is this a dream? Yep, wake up dumb ass. Can't you dream about something worthwhile?

A side note about someone we all lost: Maurice Graham. Don't worry, I didn't know him either, but he's a king! That's right, during his life, Maury was named King of the hoboes five times at the annual hobo convention in Britt, Iowa (which has a hobo museum by the way) and in 2004 he was named Grand Patriarch of hoboes. Maury started riding trains at the age of 14 in 1931 and didn't stop riding trains and living in hobo camps until 1980. Maybe you think this is kind of a silly thing, but there is no modern equivalent of the true hobo and I wonder if there ever will be again.

One last thing, since my fun evening plans fell through last night and since I didn't get invited to TomKat's wedding (another thing Oprah and I have in common), I rented MI-III. It was the first action movie that actually fast-forwarded through a good chunk of. Ugh. At the end though, Cruise stops his heart with electric shock and has his wife restart it with no significant side effects. Ok, fine, I was fast forwarding at this point, so it wasn't that long. Wait, how long was it? I went back and timed it, yes, this is the crazy shit that I do, and it was 2:35. That led me to the web to look up hypoxia, lack of oxygen to the brain. Apparently, you can go 5 minutes before brain cells start to die. Good news for us as real people, bad news that we may have to put up with another Cruise MI film.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I finally have "THAT" sweater

Pretty much most of my life, I haven't exactly been a clothes model. Until about 10-12 years ago, pretty much whatever I threw on was going to be it for the day. Now, you'll see pictures from before then and from the last decade and I'm dressed nicely, but those were picture events (weddings, holiday party) and anyone can get dressed up for one of those. Throw on a suit and tie and least you don't look ragged.

Something changed though, not entirely sure what event triggered it, and I started to care more about my day-to-day clothes and appearance. Suddenly I'd find myself shopping at Nordstrom's or Marshall Fields and considering buying nicer, more expensive clothes. Nothing too noteworthy for a blog though huh?

Well, I recently went shopping on Michigan Avenue and stopped in at an old and new favorite store, Eddie Bauer. They've gone through some changes there and actually have some pretty nice clothes. Immediately upon entering the store, my eyes were drawn to a sweater sitting on a table. Relatively simple: crew neck, light blue, 4-5 horizontal stripes crossing the chest varying from white to gray to black. Perfect for me to wear with turtlenecks. Great. But these things never look as good on you as they do on the mannequin. Never. Except once in a while, you'll find something that just looks awesome on you, like it was made just for you. As it turns out this sweater was THAT sweater. Couldn't be happier. My closet has about 25 sweaters in it and this year, I'll be lucky to wear half of them. Especially now that I have this one.

Ok, time for learning Tuesday:
I was reading the paper and since the Sudoku was a level 3 and the main clue in the crossword puzzle was "Olin Miller quote"(seriously, who the hell is this guy? I found one freakin' quote attributed to him! Hardly justifies a crossword clue.), I decided to actually read some of the articles before going to bed.

There was an article on Papua New Guinea and how they want to attract tourists. It's worth checking out some info on this group of islands in far eastern Indonesia.
The thing that jumped out at me was that they have 582 airports! They only have 5.6 million people and it's been called one of the least visited tourist spots in the world. So tell me, if they don't have that many people and no one goes there and unemployment in urban areas reaches 80% (wow!), why the hell do they need all of those airports? And why doesn't some of that 80% move their asses over to one of the airports and get a job?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Charity+wine+whiskey-food = a tough Saturday

My plans changed this weekend due to our wonderful airline system, so instead of being responsible and staying in on Friday, I decided to coerce my buddy Rich (whose wife was kind enough to acquiesce) into going to a charity wine tasting event with me. Sounds promising right?

Wellllll, the event was nice (business casual, but we had blazers on) and I'm sure much money was raised. They had silent auction items and Rich and I were bidding on all sorts of things including: autographs of Reggie Jackson and Tank Johnson (no not together!), a White Sox package, Cubs tickets, bottles of wine and a seven day rental of a ski lodge in Jackson Hole Wyoming that sleeps 6 (thought we were going to win that one, damn). It's amazing what a little wine will do to loosen up your wallet. Ok, a lot of wine.

And even more wine. And then some more. They had appetizers and even a little spread on a table, but nothing that would (or should) replace dinner, which both Rich and I neglected to eat. Not good. Fortunately, we were still in good shape.....until the after party (actually part of the charity event by the way) at La Passage. The unfortunate thing is that I don't really remember being there, so I had to have Rich fill in the details for me today.

Apparently, Rich went up and bought us Heineken's, which I really don't like. So back he went to buy a whiskey and Seven. Had I been sober at this point, I'm sure I wouldn't have mixed wine with whiskey, but clearly I was three-sheets-to-the-wind already. A couple of drinks later and it was time to go least that's what the security guy thought.

Next thing I know, it's 7 a.m., my radio alarm is going off, the lights in the hallway are on and the bathroom faucet's on. Not a pretty picture. All of my clothes were hung up though! Still not sure whether I took a cab home or the bus.......ouch.

Friday, November 17, 2006

New template!

As I tried to walk my dad through my blog last night, I realized that the template I selected wasn't all that user friendly for anyone with any visual impairments at all. I'm going to try a few different ones here and see how they look. Any feedback is appreciated.

Today's entry is below!

Button, button, who's got the button?

First off, a moment of silence please for the passing of Milton Friedman, long-time influential economist who has impacted your life financially whether you realize it or not. He was not only a great economist, he was a great citizen and patriot.

A nice segue into my topic for today. If you watched The Colbert Report the other night (as I do every night), you may have caught a very quick reference to my blog subject, so I want to make sure I credit him for the idea. How many people signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence? 56.

Nobody should really know that, but some might.

But one thing you REALLY shouldn't know is that Button Gwinnett signed it. Yes, THE Button Gwinnett.

I know, I know, you're sitting back with your cup of coffee thinking, "Really? Ol'Button signed the Declaration of Independence? I thought he was just an English Reverend's son turn plantation owner in the U.S." Nope, he actually achieved some notoriety (and not just for invading Florida). In fact, according to Wikipedia, ol'Button's signature is one of the three most valuable signatures in the world (along with Shakespeare and freakin' Julius Caesar). Caesar for crap-sake!!! The Roman ruler who lived from 100 b.c. to 44 b.c. YES, B.C. That's 2000 years ago!! It's not like they had a ton of Bic pens laying around for people to use. And this Button freak's signature, who lived between 1735 and 1777 (a mere 230 years ago), and of whom you had no knowledge until you read this blog, is worth almost as much money! Unbelievable.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ahhh, those memories

It was the Fall of 1973 in a home near Ann Arbor Michigan where a little boy of 7 years watched with his father a college football game that paired the top two teams in the country who were both undefeated and bitter rivals. They were the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes. On the line was a trip to the Rose Bowl, where the Big 10 conference had lost the last five trips against the winner of the PAC 10 conference.

The game was very close, though OSU was up 10-0 after three quarters. Michigan tied the game in the fourth and even missed a field goal late as the game came to a conclusion. In an event that couldn't happen now because of overtime being instituted in college football, the game ended in a 10-10 tie.
"Who gets to go to the Rose Bowl?", the little boy asked.
"Well, we'll have to wait and see.", said the father.
And they did.
The next day the Athletic Directors of the 10 schools voted, anonymously, and it was determined that Ohio State would represent the Big 10 by a vote of 6-4.
When the little boy heard of the news, he asked,"Why does Ohio State get to go?"
"Because they had fewer players carried off on stretchers.", the father answered.
For years that comment stayed with the little boy, not really knowing what it meant other than to take it literally. At the time, he also didn't know about the vote of the Athletic Directors.

It only took 33 years and a blustery November morning for me to figure it all out. This morning I read a recount of the game and circumstances in the paper and finally understood. The Michigan quarterback, on the final drive which ended up in a field goal to tie the game, broke his collarbone and had to leave the game. So the decision on which team to send was much more clear: between equal teams, do you take one with a healthy quarterback or one with a second string quarterback (potentially, assuming the collarbone wouldn't heal)? In an era where it was the Rose Bowl or nothing for Big Ten Champions, it seems obvious that the vote for OSU would emerge.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Full court French press

Am I the only person on the planet who hasn't had coffee made with a French press (prior to this weekend)? I brought it up today during some meetings and people looked at me like I just remarked about how wonderful flush toilets are. Well I'd only used coffee makers before, so I how was I supposed to know? I blame my parents and their lack of coffee consumption during my formative years. Instant Sanka was as much caffeine as my dad had for breakfast. No French press needed with that!!
Had a great picture today, but it wouldn't upload. Damn. Let's try something else:

One of my favorite pics. Ha!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Tuesday is "learning day"

In 1975, I was all of 9 years old and living near Detroit, outside of Flint, when the Edmund Fitzgerald sank. The church, The Maritime Cathedral, was near where we lived a few years prior when I lived in Detroit and I’m sure I would have heard the bells tolling for the dead from our house. In addition to Gordon Lightfoot’s song, there are many books about the wreck as well. Very much worth learning more about:

And here’s the helpful hint of the day:

I’m just here to make your life easier and, perhaps, a little more interesting.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Did I say SOUTH?

Back to work everyone.....hey, don't shoot the messenger.

Supposedly I went south over the weekend (to Texas), but the temperature sure didn't feel like it! Brrrrrr. At night the temps were in the 40's, which was great for sleeping and sitting by a make-shift fire, but it made me glad that I packed a sweater and some warmer clothes. During the day it was in the 60's, but sunny and that made a difference. A very nice weekend though and I thank my hostess here on my blog. Thank you!!

What is going on with the Bears? They played like crap for almost the entire first half, looking lethargic and giving the ball away like Halloween candy. Then, as if Virginia McCaskey herself threw a switch, they drive the ball down the field and score a touchdown to pull within 13-10 by halftime. So even though they were completely dominated in the first half, they were only down by three. In the second half, the Bears outscored the New York Football Giants, 28-7 to win 38-20, including the longest play for a touchdown in NFL history (a 108.4 yard return of a missed field goal). Unbelievable. Many pundits had this game penciled in as a lost for the Bears and if I were a pundit, I would have penciled it in too. Now we're 8-1 though and we go right back to NY next week to play the Jets. Should be another good game. The Jets beat a very good Patriots team 17-14 in the slop in New England.

Food of choice for this game: thin crust pepperoni pizza from Chicago's Pizza. Good stuff.

So how was YOUR weekend?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Doing the geese thang

Another busy work week draws to a close! Good for us. Hopefully you have some great plans for the weekend. I'll be following the geese and heading south after all, so I'm pretty excited about the weekend. It's nice to be able to just pick up and head off for a weekend like this and, while most people CAN, they rarely do. This isn't a rehearsal people!! You've got one life, do it right!

On a completely unrelated and much less philosophical topic, has anyone noticed that virtually all of the Seinfeld story lines fall apart if they just had a cell phone? It's bizarre. Next time you watch an episode (before season 7 certainly...1995/96), just take note of what wouldn't happen if the characters had cell phones like they do today. You'll be surprised.

Decided to have a big breakfast today since I'll be traveling and had to get up early to get some work done. No yolk incident this time. See, even someone like me can still learn! Lower heat for a longer time. I'm constantly setting the heat too high while cooking. Is "charred" technically a flavor?

Oh, and the picture of the day (not that this is going to be a regular segment, though who knows?):

They are going to tranquilize him and take the bucket off. The story's on CNN.

Next week, after Monday, my posts might be a little sporadic, but back to normal by the end of the week.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rat Tales Basra: the epilogue

Some of you received my email story of my fight against the rats that moved under our front porch from our neighbor's yard. In the lengthy saga, 20 emails probably, I recount the daily battles, the heartache of soldiers lost (long live T-Rex and T-II!), the frustration of dealing with superior intelligence, the carnage of war and finally the jubilation of victory in a hard fought battle.

When we last left Rat Tales: Basra, T-Rex II was killed in the line of duty, fighting them over there (in the neighbors yard) so I wouldn't have to fight them again at home (just like Bush!). Well, two days ago the landscapers came back to the neighbors yard to clear out all the brush and flowers in Basra where T-Rex II was deployed. I never mentioned it, but I only ever found half of T-Rex II. It haunted my dreams to know that the other half of T-Rex II might be down one of the many rat holes in the area (never leave a man behind!!). After the landscapers came in though and raked up the dirt and debris, there was the other half of Rex. I buried him alongside his other half in a tomb fitting of the successful fighter he was.

But that's just part of the story. That was two days ago and there have been no new rat holes over there. All the dirt is still finely matted and there are no obvious exit holes. Odd. If they fail to show, then I'll have to assume that they've moved back to the bunker between our buildings where they all seemed to come from initially. Or my preferred belief, is that T-II, in one final death THWACK! killed the last rat left standing in the southern part of the yard (hence the Basra reference for those late to the game). Here's a picture of T-Rex.

In loving memory

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Where is everything?!

For those interested, my day didn't get any better after the bad start, but I was at least productive. Sad when that's the best thing you can say about your day.

Back to what I was going to post yesterday. As I mentioned, my cleaning lady came in on Monday (a sweet 60+year old Guatemalan woman) and did her usual thorough job. However, in her thoroughness, things get moved around and "put away". The toothpaste, in my mind, is "put away" when it's in the bathroom. I use the shit 2-3 times a day, so what's the point of tossing it in the medicine cabinet (which is a total disaster by the way)? That's the least of my troubles though since I know where she puts the toothpaste. The bigger problem is when bills get stacked with magazines and other documents. And my shoes. Who puts shoes in their closet? How the hell am I supposed to find them in there? That's the last place I'd look.

The day after my cleaning lady comes in is spent, in part, straightening all of the pictures in the house. For some reason, maybe it's to let me know she dusted them, every single picture frame is askew. Is this a common thing for cleaning women? Are picture frames on the walls in their own homes askew? Is it a cultural thing? I don't know....all I know is it was tough enough for me to get them straight in the first place.

Another beautiful fall day in Chicago......crappy day to be inside working. Yech.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

So it's going to be THAT kind of day huh?

Pretty decent day in Chicago from a weather standpoint, though overcast and a little misty at least it's warmer (62). That's what I woke up to, along with election day, a bunch of work, physical therapy and a newly cleaned condo.

Since everything seemed positive, I decided to cook a nice breakfast instead of the usual cereal, mostly out of leftovers from the tailgating event on Sunday. Maple sausage, egg mcmuffin sandwich and a big cup of coffee. Finished cooking it all (but not before being interrupted by the Fedex man with MORE work for me to do) and went to read the paper and receive guidance on for whom I should vote. Took a bite into my sandwich and hot yolk shot not only onto my hand, but up my arm a good 4-6 inches! It somehow managed to get under the cuff in my shirt. What the hell?! Guess I didn't cook the egg as long as I thought. The rest of the meal, thankfully, concluded without incident.

Then I came downstairs to hop on email and squelch any fires before voting and to write this blog (which had an entirely different topic only an hour ago). Only to find that a really nice weekend I had planned with a young lady (from out of state) was being cancelled. Ugh! Me thinks I'm going back to bed. I can't risk going to physical therapy. My freakin' leg might fall off or they might diagnose me with Lupus or something. (Seinfeld reference for those who missed it)

Get out and vote!!