Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Random Thoughts at 10:30 P.M.

Hopefully you all had a chance on Tuesday to spend time with the most miserable people on the planet. Yes, election judges. Now, THEY aren't miserable people to be with, they are just miserable doing what they are doing. They have to be! A decade ago I performed that civil service for the princely sum of $100. I had to be there at 6:30 a.m. I think and didn't get to leave until about 9 p.m. When I am on my deathbed I will remember time wasted in my life doing two things: being an election judge and watching Soul Plane. Someone has to do it, but now I leave it to the bagger at my local grocery store who can probably use the money and has to deal those ungrateful bastards anyway. Ugh.

Today, out of the blue, I received a call from a good friend. He and his wife want to meet me out for a fish fry on Friday, have a few beers and catch up. Seems simple enough, but it was a real pick up for me. They're fun people that are great to be around. In a similar fashion, I went into my office today and it was really nice to see Ricardo again after not seeing him for a week or so. Even though I was off having fun in Tampa, I missed my friends! They're cool and I enjoy hanging out with them. Unfortunately Ricardo's wife was already going out with some people, so he an I hit Jack's Bar, conveniently located a block away from my church.

Maybe you heard about this raid on a pharmacy in Florida that was selling various drugs to pro and minor league athletes over the internet. I saw a story that mentioned attention was drawn to the pharmacy because its sales went from $200k-$300k about 7 years ago to over $30 million in sales last year. I mean c'mon. How are they NOT going to be investigated?

Have you seen this show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? It pits an everyday person against questions that fifth graders or younger can answer. The show is actually pretty interesting and even more so to me since I essentially had the idea about 30 years ago while watching Jeopardy! Oh well, yet another million dollar idea I left on the table. Just for grins, here are some questions they asked:

1) In what month does Columbus Day fall?
2) T/F In the wild, polar bears typically feed on penguins.
3) A trapezoid has how many sides?
4) Who was the first U.S. President to be impeached?
5) If a triangle has an area of 16 square inches and a base of 8 inches, how long is its height?

Answers at the bottom of yesterday's column.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

C'mon Meat, hit me the ball.

Going into the tournament weekend our team had some problems already.
1. Just a week before, I hurt my throwing hand
2. In the same game, a teammate caught a ball with his face leaving a nice gash on his chin.
3. The day before heading to Tampa, one of our best hitters and a good utility player, had to back out as his father had a heart attack.
4. The day before the tournament started, but while down in Tampa, our starting pitcher spilled cologne in his luggage. Not a big deal right? Well, some got into his contacts case so when he went to put the contact in his eye, instant chemical burn and subsequently a scratched cornea. Unbelievable.
5. Our backup pitcher was only going to be there on Saturday as he is a teacher and doesn't have a ton of days available to take off.

We were definitely behind the eight ball going into games on Saturday.

In addition, the tournament was supposed to start on Friday, as early as noon, but Thursday night we found it wouldn't start until Saturday morning and even then we'd only play two games. That meant Sunday would be a long day with potentially eight games and the championship wouldn't be played at 3 or 4, but 8:30 p.m. Unfortunately, we had 5-6 people leaving on an 8:00 flight, not to mention our only pitcher now wouldn't be there for the majority of the games!

One last bit of bad news, they changed the field we were playing on from one that was 10-15 minutes away from our hotel to one that was 30-40 minutes from our hotel. Thanks guys!!

Despite all that, we showed up at 7:30 a.m. for game one against a team (actually called Team 727) from Florida who had more than one guy who looked like Barry Bonds. Though we went up 12-5 after four innings, our bats went silent and we lost 17-14. Then came a four hour break before our next game, which we won to provide us a little momentum going into Sunday morning's 7 a.m. game against a team from Georgia.

Fortunately, due to the bad weather in Chicago, our #2 pitcher couldn't fly back on Saturday night, so he changed reservations to later on Sunday in order to pitch for us. He turned out to be our MVP for the tournament.

So Sunday morning was our third game of a three game minimum tournament. With one loss already, if we lost again, we went home. When we showed up to face our first opponent at 6:30 a.m. for our 7 o'clock game, they were already on the field taking batting practice. Looked like we might be in trouble. However, we hit well and rolled through them something like 17-6. That gave us one hour off until we would have to play four in a row, provided we kept winning. Our fourth game of the tournament and second on Sunday was against a team from Maryland and we handled them as well in a close game...12-7. Our third game of the day was against a team from New Jersey and we shut them out 3-0 in a pitchers duel as the wind started blowing in from left field and kept all fly balls up in the air forever. In one moment of self-glorification, I turned a key third to first double play on a ground ball late in the game to kill their rally.

At the level of ball we play, you're not allowed to hit home runs over the fence. I know that seems odd to some people, but there are a ton of guys who can hit a softball out of a major league baseball park with regularity, so they divide up the levels of competition into five levels and at our level no home runs are allowed. To put an exclamation point on the rule, if you hit a home run, your team is charged an out and the other team is given a run. The next time you hit a home run, the other team gets two runs, and so on. Very strict. On with the game summary.

Our fourth game of the day was a rematch against Team 727 from Florida to whom we lost in the first game. We jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first half inning and maintained a lead into the top of the seventh when the score was 10-6. We were the visitors for the game so we were hitting in the top of the 7th and last inning. With two on and one out, our starting pitcher (with the scratched cornea) hit a bomb over the right field fence for a home run and a second out for us. It killed our rally and made the score 10-7 going into the bottom of the 7th. For brevity, I'll jump ahead to the score being 10-9, two outs and runners on first and third. It looked like they were going to come back yet again to at least tie us if not beat us again. Their third baseman was up to bat, a leaner kid about 25 who had good pop in his bat and a great glove.

Here's what I was thinking:
Where is he going to hit it? He's a pull hitting right handed batter. He hit up the middle yesterday, but that was game one. He's played three games today and might be getting tired. He's going to pull it. He won't be able to get his wrists around fast enough to hit it on the line though. With the runner at first, the shortstop is a step over towards second. He's going to try and hit the hole between me and the shortstop. C'mon Meat, hit me the ball.

Less experienced players usually don't have these thoughts, quite frankly because they don't need to. They can react quickly enough to get to balls hit in their direction. Older guys like me have to think more to get the first step edge. And this time it worked out.

The batter hit a screaming two hopper into the hole between me and the shortstop. I dove to my left and gloved it; popped to my knees and hit the second baseman covering the bag at second to end the game!! I was immediately mobbed by my teammates. It was a huge win and put us one win away from a top four finish. We couldn't have been higher going into what would be our last game of the day.

The opponent was a team from Taylorsville, North Carolina (pretty much an hour or two from all of Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Asheville). We again started off hitting well and playing solid defense as we jumped to a 8-2 lead by the fifth inning. In the sixth though, two errors by our first baseman (a line drive in his glove that somehow got away from him and a ground ball double play ball that he kicked) led to an 8 run inning and a 10-8 lead and eventual victory for the NC team. Our tournament finally ended.

We were 5-2 though and these out of town tournaments have a way of pulling the team together. We'll be better for having gone and are looking for bigger things this year.

Answers to tomorrow's quiz:
1) October 2) False, they live at opposite ends of the globe 3) 4
4) Andrew Johnson 5) 4 (2 parallel and 2 non-parallel)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Still in Tampa, thankfully.

Monday is a travel day for me, but I thought I'd fire off a quick update on the weekend. The weather was gorgeous here in Tampa....mostly in the upper 70's and sunny during the day and a little chilly for sleeping at night. Good stuff. Chicago is experiencing some snow and a ton of flight delays and cancellations. Looks like we picked a good week to hit Florida!!

The short story on the tournament is that we only lost to one team that we didn't also beat and that we ended up tied for 5th place out of 25 teams from around the country and Canada (one team). We were 2-1 against Florida teams, beat a team from New Jersey, a team from Maryland and then won one more game. We lost to a team from Taylorville, NC 10-8 in which they scored 8 unearned runs in one very bad defense inning for just one or two people on our team. It was our fifth game on the day, which combined with the sun, heat and humidity made our tournament pretty respectable. More on the games tomorrow!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Illinois (and Arkansas) vs. The World!

It's a travel day for me (heading to Tampa) so my entry will be shorter today. The day already has a bit of bad news though as Ben, one of the nicest guys on our team (and resident drunk---see Bears playoff entries), called the coach this morning to let him know Ben's father had a heart attack so he was heading to Michigan to see him instead of to Tampa with us. Not only is this traumatic for Ben because of his father, of course, but he has also been working like a dog (as a plumber) and was really looking forward to the time off. Being only 24, I can't even imagine what he's going through right now.

Yesterday I was looking at ESPN's website as I often do, just to see what's going on in the sports world. If you don't go there often, they have a poll of the day and you can see how people voted on the question based on geographic location. The question of the day was whether the Bears defense would be worse off without their defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Personally I feel a big part of last year's playoff loss and this year's Super Bowl loss fall on his shoulders, so I don't think they'll have any problem without him. Heck, he took a demotion to be linebackers coach in San Diego after the Bears didn't renew his contract. Every state in the Union, except for Illinois and Arkansas (who thought they knew football?), and the world collectively, said 60-40 the Bears defense would be worse off. Arkansas was basically split, but teetered over the edge at 52-48. Illinois was 67% that the defense would NOT be worse off. I guess the rest of the world just thinks Rivera is "da'bomb", but they haven't had their hearts broken by his inability to adjust his defensive scheme. Good riddance I say!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Hey, you have something on your.....oh, right, Ash Wednesday."

Today is Ash Wednesday for us Christians and is the start of the Lenten season which last until Easter (through Holy Saturday). While I could easily go off on the religious significance and all sorts of religious facts, I'm only going to touch on one aspect before moving on.

Many people equate Lent with some form of fasting, giving something up (like chocolate, alcohol or coffee). While fasting is one part of Lent, it's actually just one pillar of a trilogy. The other two Lenten pillars are charity and prayer. So if your are Christian and taking part in Lent this year, when you fast, donate the money that you would have spent on whatever it is that you're giving up to a charity of your choice. For the prayer pillar, my church provides a free little booklet with a different story for each day of Lent and I read it before bed. Going to church an extra time during the week is also a goal of mine every year.

Chicago is warming up and the snow is melting away. Prior to the 8-10 inch snow storm that we had, there really wasn't much snow, if any at all, accumulated. In regular (non-global warming) winters, we receive layers of snow and interesting things accumulating during the cold months. When it all melts, it's a bonanza of gloves, shoes, hats, all sorts of things. This year is proving much less interesting however. The only interesting thing I've seen is several properties and bills from a Monopoly game. Have you ever found anything really odd or interesting after the thaw? How about just laying in the street while not associated with a thaw? My best "find" was a $100 bill that I found in Anchorage. A few years ago, across the street, I found the wallet of someone from Minnesota and was able to actually track them down even though their license wasn't in the wallet (thanks AAA).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Self-serve wine, just like a gas station.

Went back to one of my favorite Chicago places last night: Just Grapes. Here's the link. While relatively inconvenient for foot traffic and cars, you can indeed get there with minimal effort if you know the 'hood. There are usually spots on the street a block in either direction which only cost you a buck for an hour and you only have to feed the meter until 6. So after work, driving's absolutely a viable option. And that's what I did last night and what two of my "guests" did as well. It is close to the Metra station, so it is convenient in that sense. Being located west of the Loop and the river, not a lot of people are going to be walking by though.

Anyway, one of the reasons I like this place is that they have a self-serve tasting machine set up. It holds probably 24 red wines and doles out a 3 oz serving or so for a price that varies based on the cost of the wine (normally $.40 to $2, but one bottle of $150 wine had a $7.50 sample price). You charge up a prepaid card, insert it into the self-serve machine and choose a wine. It's just that easy to get all liquored up. And the best part is on Monday nights, it's half price!!! There's also a machine that dispenses white wines that holds 12 bottles I believe.

So last night it was me and two lawyers with whom I work at one of my many jobs (guess I'm only down to two now though since I fired the one client) and my buddy T-Rex Tim. After getting good and snookered on wine, we headed over to Izumi restaurant for sushi, a patterned I've repeated more than a few times. The food was great as usual and a fun time was had by all.

Now I have to get serious about what I'm packing to take with me to Tampa on Thursday. We're playing in a softball tournament down there and I haven't decided if I'm going to take my golf clubs or not. It's a three game minimum with the first game on Friday. There are 22 teams, 18 from Florida. We should be able to finish in the top five, but if we don't for some reason, the golf clubs might come in handy. Maybe I'll just rent them if I need them.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Free at last, free at last....from my car and a client!

Sorry about missing a few days here folks. No real excuse available other than a hangover and mucho lost time in my car this weekend. Some of the lost time was worthwhile, but most of it was not.

My first battle with the roads came on Thursday with a second date out in Geneva with the woman with the beast of a dog. A normal 60-70 minute trip took over two hours! Ugh! There didn't seem to be any accidents (or reports of them) just a crap load of traffic. It was a brutal trip, but a lovely lady awaited at the end of the adventure, so it didn't seem so bad. The dogs seemed more friendly towards me too since it was the second time I've seen them.

Friday brought another battle, but this time it was just a long trip, not bad traffic. It was a semi-traditional game night whereby I get together with a couple of women that I used to work with (MJ and Monique), a friend or two of theirs, my ex girlfriend and possibly another friend or two. At this particular event, it was me and five women! Turns out six is a really good number of people for game night and we had a blast (two teams of three for a few games worked well). The kicker was that we were having it at MJ's newly purchased abode in Tinley Park (about an hour plus south and west). Her house was really nice and she has two of the cutest puppies you've ever seen.

Here's one of the games we played: We followed that up with Celebrity Taboo Finally we played a game that was a cross between charades and password. Combine all that with pizza and booze and it's a fantastic evening! Another hour plus drive home afterwards though.

Saturday brought another trip to the burbs, this time to meet softball guys to discuss the upcoming season and then to play a double header. First lower Wacker decided to grow a big hole in the middle of it causing traffic to be rerouted and then an accident on 290 backed up traffic for miles. After taking a local road (Roosevelt), the trip ended up taking almost two hours again!! Normally it would be a 45 minute trip most likely. Ugh.

Guess what I didn't do on Sunday? That's right, one trip to church and that was it for me and the car!!!

The last few days also saw me become free from a client that I've for over a year and whom I had to fire at the end of November. Unfortunately I tend to live up to contractual agreements, so I had to give them 60 days notice as well as finish the work scheduled through that time. That all finally happened on Thursday!! Yay for me!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Guns Galore

Coolest pictures you'll probably see today. G-Man sent these from the great white north....or close to it. They were taken from a tree stand, but not by him. He sent them in response to my comment about him needing to park close to his destination for fear of being attacked by wolves.

I was thinking about what I would do, if anything, if I'm up in a tree stand and saw this going on. What would you do?

a. shoot in the air to scare off the wolves.
b. shoot the moose to put it out of it's misery
c. shoot the alpha-male wolf
d. sit and watch

Legally I'm not sure what I would be allowed to do, but given that all of the options are available and legal I would probably either try to scare off the wolves or do nothing. Is that wrong? It feels wrong to do nothing, but it's just nature doing it's thing. Happens everyday somewhere (everywhere in some regard), but this time you just happen to be watching. This is what National Geographic photographers have to grapple with all the time I bet.....except when dealing with naked pygmies.

The other day I received my Firearm Owners Identification Card or FOID (yes, I know it should be FOIC, but they existed long before I knew anything about them so it's not my fault). On the card it says, "Caution: this card does not permit bearer to UNLAWFULLY carry or use firearms. This does not authorize the carrying of a concealed weapon." Don't these statements seem kind of obvious? Are people out there thinking: hmmm, if I get my FOID, I can go out and shoot people! I'm pretty sure they are not. Though after watching those "village idiot" clips that I sent around via email the other day, maybe that's what people ARE thinking.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Not on my block buddy! Part deux

Thought I should explain further about my anti space saving policy. There's so much to say about it, that I thought a follow up entry would be warranted.

Let's start with the cone-bastard themselves. They park on the street, in the winter, in Chicago. And lo and behold, in snows!! Really? You don't say? And now they have to dig their car out? My goodness. The poor souls. WAKE UP PEOPLE! They know the situation. They know what's going to have to happen if it snows. It's their own damn fault. Don't park on the street if you can't or don't want to dig yourself out and then lose the spot.

Next, let me relate a story to further explain my position. Long ago, but while still living in my current condo, I double parked outside in front of my house while I ran some things inside. While inside, the police came up behind my car and gave me a ticket! They hadn't finished yet when I returned to the car and I got into a little verbal argument with them. They said, "You didn't even have your hazard lights on." Which I didn't because they weren't working that particular day. So I said, "Oh, so as long as I have my hazard lights on it's ok to park anywhere in the city that I want? That's good to know." They didn't take too kindly to that. So back to the cone-bastards. If I can save my parking spot just because I was foolish enough to park on the street during a snow storm, why can't I do it during a lighter snow? How about no snow? Why not year round? Can I then bequeath the spot to my children as long as they have cones? Does the spot then become part of the deed to my condo? The logic is there my friends. You go down that slope at least as far as year-round saving by allowing someone to save it just for shoveling. That's unacceptable and you know it.

So why do I, who is USUALLY unaffected by this whole process, remove the furniture and cones? Other than because I don't like the process for the reasons above, I also park on the street in front of my condo quite often. Being able to drive around during the day, if I can find a spot closer to my condo than my parking spot, I'll take it. Even though I might not be using it right then, spots are relatively limited (at least spots that I might use), so removing it now opens up a spot that might remain there when I DO need it.

But I'll toss furniture and cones anywhere I see them. Why? I guess I feel bad for those people who want to park there, but feel that someone else has some right to the spot, when clearly they don't. Often in those situations I'll think to myself, "What if my mom was trying to find a parking spot and passed this one up because of these cones?" It may not be my mom (ok, I KNOW it's not going to be my mom), but it could be someone else's mom. Someone else who didn't see the cone-bastard's attempt at annexing public thoroughfares.

Wax nostalgically if you wish with your "practices that make Chicago, Chicago" or with your quaint tales of "how it was when I was a kid..." or justify it by somehow blaming mother nature for your bad decision, but not in my neighborhood buddy. Not in my neighborhood.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Not on my block buddy!

If you're alive, and in the country, you know that Chicago and the Midwest was socked with a crap load of snow and some nasty wind conditions last night and today. It's Chicago though right? You kind of have to expect it a bit in the winter.

That said, I have a 7 a.m. meeting one day a month at my church and GUESS what day the meeting was this month.....yep, today. Ugh. Fortunately it was worse just getting up at 6 and on the road by 6:30 than actually driving through the snow and such. Tell you what though, today was another great day to have a remote starter! Thanks again for the idea Kenny from Jersey!!

As the snow was piling up today and minimal traffic was going up and down the street, I looked out the window and saw the one thing that irritates me to no end when the snow falls: someone had put orange cones out where their car was parked as if to save their spot. First of all, we had a bunch of snow but it was on top of nothing so it's not like they had to dig out. So, as I tend to do at least once or twice every winter, I went out, picked up each cone and threw them into the deepest snow banks that I could find. And not just one snow bank, three different snow banks. You should see what I do to furniture that gets left out there to save spots!!

Thanks for the picture Ricardo!

Now, I realize there can be some faults with my actions: 1) the person who eventually takes the spot has no idea the cones were there; 2) the cone-bastard who set out the cones will eventually return and be unhappy; 3) the cone-bastard may exact revenge on a perfectly innocent person. I figure, for every cone-bastard that does exact revenge on an innocent person, another one, somewhere, gets beat up by said innocent person who happens to be returning to their car while the cone-bastard is exacting revenge. Most of them just move on though and find a spot like the rest of us (though I do have a rented spot).

That's my winter fun though. On really good days, I'll just walk down the street tossing cones and furniture left and right opening up spots for everyone!! I'm like the candy man.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Does it always have to be work?

Ok, taking a risk putting this entry out there, but I guess I can always delete the entry if necessary. It just seems that maybe there aren't any women left who are easy to date based on the various dates that I've come across lately. There's one particularly amusing story about a near relationship that I had back in the fall, but that one gets saved for the bar......a little incentive to take me out for a drink!

My last date originated when my friend's wife emailed me (and God bless my friends that set me up because they are great people, I mean it if you're reading!) to ask if this description sounded good:
"okay, how does this sound? 36. adorable. petite. blond. fun. career woman. educator. never married. no kids. lives in the burbs but wants to move back to the city. great conversationalist. "

Well, what? Am I gay? How does she not sound freakin' awesome?! What, do I suddenly NOT like adorable women? Do fun people suddenly suck? I was all over this seemingly fantastic opportunity.

Well it did involve an hour plus drive to the suburbs, which I knew going into it, but that was pretty much the only downside. We spoke on the phone first and it turns out that her work day is 6 a.m. until 3 and then she calls it a night relatively early (around 9). Ok, I can adapt possibly. We had a great conversation and set up a date. She was exactly as described....minus two huge dogs and two cats. No big deal though right? Well one dog is a large English bulldog. No sweat, I owned one and they are, despite their appearance, harmless. The other dog however, is about 120 pounds if it's an ounce, part American bulldog, part boxer and ALL huge. Holy crap. This monster was happy to meet me and wanted to play, but I was concerned whether "playing" meant "leave a limb behind". The dog was chewing on a femur for cripes sake! This bone was enormous. I asked my date if it was from the last boyfriend or date. She just smiled. Not the reassuring response I was looking for!!

We went for dinner (which was very nice) and then back to her place. What seemed like her "safety" call came at 8. This theory was actually proposed by my friend Judi and with whom I rarely agree on anything, however I think she's right in this case. A safety call is a call from a friend who gives you an excuse to bail on a date if it's not going well or you just want it to end. I have a feeling it was closer to the latter, but that's only because we have since talked and set up another date. She really is adorable, nice and fun, so if I can survive, it will be well worth the effort. More to come....until she starts reading!!

On a separate note, here's an outstanding website that none of you would think I would visit or put on my blog. Ha! You're wrong. I have an artistic side you bastards. Every day people send in postcards with a secret written on them and this guy posts them on his site. Pretty cool stuff. Please visit. Especially with Valentine's Day coming up, there's some interesting posts.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Multiple firsts, this time in church!

Not everyone will follow part of this entry, especially if you're not Catholic. Sorry about that.

After not getting back from the suburbs last night until 2 a.m., I opted to sleep in instead of going to 10:30 mass as usual. Fortunately my religion is flexible in scheduling services, realizing that many of my kind are nothing if not lazy. So 5:00 mass it was. As I walked in I was recruited, by the Pastor no less, to help distribute some information, collect the responses and then help take in the collection. Though I've been to mass thousands of times, I've never helped in the collection. As usher, you walk down the aisle with a basket on the end of a stick and collect peoples' weekly contributions. Normally, I think, there's a whole group of volunteers that are "trained" in doing this kind of thing.

Apparently the 5:00 mass is very understaffed with volunteers. For the first time that I can recall, there were no alter boys or alter girls on hand. Not that they are particularly instrumental to the mass, but it's a little weird when you expect to see them and they aren't there. Just odd. But the weirdest part of the entire mass, besides me running laps up and down the aisle, was that while the priest is presiding over the occurrence of the transubstantiation an alter boy/girl is supposed to shake the alter bell(s). This was the first mass that I can remember that didn't have any bells. Seems like a simple thing, but again, when you are soooooo used to hearing it and then you don't, it's a little weird.

While perusing Wikipedia, as I'm oft to do, I had to back track a page because I could have sworn I saw a familiar name just as I clicked a link to another page. It's an unusual name, so that's why it stood out. Turns out to be a pretty interesting Wiki entry. I wonder if my buddy is related to ol'Hipolit.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Light weekend entry

It's a busy Saturday for ol'Joe. After working a good chunk of the day, instead of being up at Rich's cabin, my church is having a fundraiser that starts at 6:30 and goes to 11. Unfortunately I also have a softball game at 11 in a dome in a suburb which is about an hours drive away. I hate the late games!! It means I won't get home until probably 1:30. That makes for a long Sunday. So I'll go to the church event for a few hours and see what's going on and then come back and change for softball.

To top it all off, in an effort to get a little warmer I turned my portable heater on high. Well, that led to blowing a fuse. If I had a little more wood and wasn't leaving in an hour, I would have built a nice little fire. Instead, I had to reboot my computer and tv (yeah, my tv) and I was hooked up remotely to a computer in Connecticut at the time of the fuse going out, so now that computer needs to be reset as well since it thinks I'm still on it. Ugh.

That's about it for me today. I refuse to mention the whole Anna Nicole Smith thing and the idea that any of three men could be the father of her child, including a prince married to the 90 year old Zsa Zsa Gabor. Ugh.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cool Advertising That Ends Up Annoying

Here's a billboard that was recently up at the corner of LaSalle and Ontario in Chicago:

It's been circulating now in an email as being legit. Unfortunately, you can go here to find the REST of the story:

Damn, that would have been cool if it really happened.

Due to your demands, I put a picture of me up on the Tuesday blog next to JK Simmons. Judge for yourself if we look alike!

This weekend I was supposed to go up to my buddy Rich's cabin in Wisconsin with three other guys for a weekend of gambling and winter activities (skiing and snowshoeing). However, I was feeling a little rundown after last weekend and a few long days at the beginning of the week and opted to stay home instead. Now, in addition to softball on Saturday and my church fundraiser also on Saturday, I have a crap load of work to finish by next week otherwise one of my clients won't get sold. Oh well, with the cold weather, it's probably for the best.

Today I reconnected with a buddy of mine that I used to work with, I'll call him Big C. Big C is out east now and runs his own company, but back in the mid-90's, he was working with me at Morningstar. One night, after a company party I think, a whole bunch of us headed out to The Vic for nickel beer night at Brew-n-View. That's right, beer was a nickel a piece and they would play 2-3 movies on the big screen. Tables were set up, but you could sit in the regular theater seats too. People were talking during the movie and such, but it was still very, very fun.

Well, on this particular night, most of Big C's department went out with us, including one person who just started (I think, the day before, but certainly that week). This girl didn't know a soul and, as we found out, didn't live downtown. So we're drinking and having fun and this girl gets more and more drunk until she's throwing up all over the place (in the beer pitcher, in the bathroom, on some guy's shirt). So Big C and I try to take control of the situation, mostly because we didn't want to go home yet. We get her wallet and it says she lives in Calumet City, a freakin' life-time away from downtown Chicago. Then we went to a pay phone (watch Seinfeld and you'll see cell phones weren't readily available as they are now) and called information looking for relatives of hers in Calumet City. Getting lucky, we find her parents, take $40 out of her wallet and pour her into a cab with an empty popcorn bucket. In retrospect we shouldn't have left her incapacitated with a cabbie, but it seemed ok at the time and we were much younger.

Now think about this girl though: first week of work, doesn't really know anyone she's going drinking with, doesn't know anyone downtown and drinks for like four hours until she gets drunk and passes out. So if you think Big C and I used bad judgement putting her in that cab, what about her?!! Maybe Big C can fill us in on whatever became of that drunken filly.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Plot to Keep Us Fat!

I have stumbled upon a plot, an international conspiracy as it were, the likes of which we have not seen since Pearl Harbor or Iran Contra. The plot has probably been in development for years, as near as I can figure, but I stumbled upon it only recently during my current weight loss exercise (still down about 10 pounds by the way).

As many of you know, I've been on a reduced calorie diet: burn off more than I take in is the plan. The core of that plan are Lean Cuisines. For breakfast I have cereal usually and then a LC for lunch and one for dinner. The diet started in early January, when many diets start. The LC's I bought were $2 a piece (though advertised as 5 for $10). So for $20, I'd have lunch and dinner every business day for a week! Not bad. If only it would stay that way.

The other day I went to the store to buy some LC's for lunch. However, the cost was now $3.66 a piece, almost twice what I was paying!! So after Nestle (a Swiss company) hooks you with the low price right after New Year's resolutions, they double the price. Naturally a good chunk of people are going to stop buying the LC's and gain back all of the weight they just lost. What a scam!! The Swiss are not as neutral as they first appear.

Game time! Today I went up north to get my car's brakes replaced and some other stuff done. It was going to take a few hours, so after doing some work in the waiting room (free wi-fi), I headed out for lunch. Which place did I go to and why? Pick one place and one reason why. The answer is at the bottom of yesterday's blog:

a) Taqueria El Norte
b) White Hen
c) Hella's Gyros
d) Habeebi's Middle Eastern Cuisine
e) Franko's Pizza

1) looked clean
2) seems like the ethnic fare of the neighborhood
3) next door to the dealership
4) diet friendly
5) had a two for one special

Pick one letter and one number!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Commercials and getting falsely accused in front of 1 billion people

Long title today, but it's not all about length....right? Sorry, easy joke. Half the people who watch the Super Bowl are watching for the commercials and normally I take a keen interest in them as well. Even with the Bears playing, I was still very interested in the commercials (and not just because we had a pool for the first commercial after various events). Now I don't have a list of the commercials in front of me, but some definitely stand out to me. Here's a link to watch them again. The Dorito Check Out Girl ad, which I believe was produced by a small time independent creative team, was probably my favorite. The Federline ad from Nationwide was pretty funny. Tell me, was the guy working the register JK Simmons(who more than one person thinks looks like me):

The quick Letterman/Oprah spot was funny, but you had to know the history. The NFL's It's hard to say goodbye ad wasn't bad. I kind of liked the Sprint Connectile Dysfunction bit too. Nice take off on the copious drug ads we have to endure. Oh, and I almost forgot the Sierra Mist Comb Over ad with Jim Gaffigan. Too damn funny.

Now, imagine 1 billion people (or so) are watching around the world (130 million in the U.S.) and the broadcaster blames a key touchdown on you, only it's not your fault. Ugh! That would suck. Sure the team loss sucks too, but this is like salt in the wounds. On the wide open pass play by the Colts that Reggie Wayne caught to make the score 7-6, Phil Simms came on several plays later to "analyze" the play and make a special point to mention that Chris Harris blew his coverage assignment. Unfortunately for Mr. Harris, he didn't blow his assignment. If you watch the tape (like I did.....and yes, I have a problem), you'll notice that Chris Harris was on the other side of the field and that it was rookie Danieal Manning that broke up from his safety position to cover a running back who was already covered by Urlacher. Blown assignment by a rookie.....well, that will happen. Just a bad time...much like Grossman's turnovers.

Tomorrow's quiz answer: location A and reason #2.

Monday, February 05, 2007


That's about the 30th time I've written "ugh" today (31). It's really the only word to describe how I feel after the Super Bowl showing by the Bears. It would be easy for me to wax on and on about stats and reasons why, but that's not going to change anything and will only make interesting reading to a few of you. That said, if you told me Grossman would be 20 of 28 passing for 165, Jones would run for 112 yards, Hester would return a kick for a touchdown and it would rain pretty much the entire game, I would have bet you just about anything that the Bears would have won. The interceptions and fumbles came at inopportune times though and they really weighed on the defense in the end.

Yesterday was quite a busy day with all the cooking I had to do and making sure I had some last minute things. Here's a bit of advice, don't go to the grocery store at any point on Super Bowl Sunday. It was a madhouse! Fortunately I only had three things or so to get, so I was able to go through the express self-checkout line. Since I was putting everything together myself (cooking, cleaning, setting up the betting games, etc) I needed all of the time to prepare before guests started showing up. As it was, I barely made it!

On the cooking front, we had my three pepper chili (not as hot as usual though) and beef sandwiches as the main courses. As appetizers, I made bacon wrapped shrimp, dates and figs, mini bagel dogs, guacamole and chips, and vegetables and dip. Almost everything was eaten! I forgot about the bag of wings that I had and was going to heat up. Probably better off for everyone.

Again I forgot to take pictures, but someone was snapping them at the end of the evening so I'll try to get a hold of them. 261 days until the season starts again and I think 10 days until pitchers and catchers report. This loss will hurt for a while though.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Holiday Heart

A good name for a movie or a novel huh? Not the case though. Much to the chagrin of my dinner friends from last night who chastised me mercilessly, Holiday Heart is indeed a medical condition. Here's the reference:

I expect to see the apologies in the comment section of this blog!
The topic came up when discussing staying up all night, a feat which I have only undertaken and accomplished three times in my life and they were on consecutive days at a bachelor party in Vegas. Upon my arrival home, my heart would beat uncontrollably (not that you normally have control over it) and it felt like maybe I was going to have a heart the ripe old age of 38. A few days later I was at a fundraiser and met a heart doctor. After determining that he was a nice guy, I asked him about my potential heart ailment. He said it was probably just Holiday Heart and since it seemed to be mostly better already, if it wasn't completely gone by the next week to give him a call. It was so I didn't. However, my dining partners last night thought this was the craziest thing they've heard (until I told the stories about some recent dates I've had) and were convinced that the doctor was just placating me. Ha...looks like I got the last laugh!

Yesterday I read on the web somewhere that Halle Berry's father was Fred Berry. Anyone remember Fred Berry without checking out the picture below? That's right, he was Fred "Rerun" Stubbs from the hit show "What's Happening?" I thought that seemed unlikely, but they did have the same last name. After a little research, very little in fact, I found out it was not true. Interesting proposition though.