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.