Monday, April 30, 2007

A seven bean salad of topics!

Well, my first entry was deleted when my Internet Explorer v. 7.0 hung up. This browser has to be the most unstable piece of software I've ever used. Geesh. All to keep pace with Mozilla Fox Fire. At least Mozilla doesn't seem to crash randomly.

Let's try to remember what I wrote:

First I wanted to start off with a sports entry about the NFL draft. Normally I would write (or email as in the past) an extensive analysis about the Bears' picks. Unfortunately, I don't feel that it's really worthwhile. It doesn't appear, on the surface at least, that any selection they made will have anywhere near the impact on their success next year as their extremely difficult schedule will or their continued loyalty to their incompetent quarterback. As such, taking a tight-end was good, but they still need to get him the ball somehow. And I like Garrett Wolfe, the runningback out of Northern Illinois, but he's not an every-down back and is not really the answer for when Bensen goes down. You can find out about your favorite team's draft by checking out this link.

Today, while driving around, I heard a term that made me think a little bit. It's a common term that I wouldn't have even given two thoughts about if I didn't have a blog to write. If I'm not mistaken, it was mentioned during a car commercial. The term is horsepower. We really take this term for granted without knowing what the hell it means. It's the power of a horse to do what exactly? What's the difference between 100 horsepower and 1,000 horsepower? I have no idea what horsepower my car is, but it's in all the ads. After reading the Wiki entry, I find it hysterical that James Watt measured meticulously the power of a mule and then said, "Well, a horse is about 50% higher than a mule, so multiply those mule figures by 1.5 and call it horsepower." It's absolutely ridiculous!!

Thanks to for the next two stories and links which I had to pass along. The first one is a link to postcards from 1900 that predicted what the world would be like in the year 2000. The cards are pretty cool using somewhat futuristic (now current) ideas with old technology. Check out the rollers on the moving sidewalks.

If you like and use internet radio (not satellite radio like XM or Sirius as far as I can tell), then May 15th might be the last day for you to get your service. The RIAA is increasing the fees charged to these portals well above what is charged terrestrial stations (like AM and FM). They didn't kill the song downloading industry, but they might kill off this form of media.

Over the weekend, during dinner on Saturday I believe, my sister (poster Bee) commented on my dad's GERD acting up.

"You don't have a GERD." I said.
"Sure, look it up! And make sure you credit me on your blog!" She replied.
So and I did and while it's not an organ of any type, it is indeed a condition that can "act up".
I'm not sure I'm up for referring to GERD in regular conversations, but at least I know what it is now.

Finally, since I have a new T-Rex, which I bought at my local hardware store, I decided to deploy him in my backyard. Now, the rat hole is technically in our neighbor's yard (where Basra is located, but in their backyard) but the rat(s) have dug under the fence and the hole opens up into our backyard. I figured we might as well get an early start on the rat killing season!!

As you can tell from the pictures, T-Rex is on a slope and he often doesn't work as well on slopes. We'll give it a shot though. The bait of choice for tonight is ground beef (15% fat variety) flavored with taco seasoning (McCormick's hot flavor if you're interested). I'm looking forward to the hunt again!!

Update!!!! I came home from dinner tonight and checked T-Rex and he has a victim! Pictures tomorrow!!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Lot of Softball

Today was a loonnnnnnnggggg day. My softball tournament was moved from Saturday to Sunday, so the team was out on the field from before 8 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Now, if we didn't play so well, we could have gone home earlier!

Our team is generally a mixture of young players and older players (I'm one of the older players) and is the product of two teams that were merged. When we travel to Vegas, Tampa, St. Louis and such, we combine again. For lesser tournaments, we split up again to make sure we can get everyone playing time and at bats. That's what we did today and the tournament director put us in opposite sides of the brackets so we wouldn't play each other until very late in the day. The one flaw with this strategy is that towards the end of the day, both teams can get tired players as we normally don't get breaks like we do if we have 17 people on a team instead of 10 or 11.

Though the final game we played was very winnable, we were dead tired by that time and didn't have enough in the tank to get it done. If I'm not mistaken, we finished third out of 17 teams....not too shabby!!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

First Round and First Communion

After a late night in the bar and writing yesterday's blog, I had precious few hours of sleep before it was time to head out to watch the NFL draft. Since my softball tournament was pushed back a day, my morning and early afternoon were free to do with as I please prior to my niece's First Communion.

The guys that own the seats in front of me at Soldier Field (where the Bears play) were having a draft day party, so I headed out to the far southern suburb of Matteson to join in on the festivities. Unfortunately, unless the Bears traded up, I was going to have to leave the party long before the Bears made their selection. The company, food and drink were well worth the hour long trip even though I only got to see two of the four guys who sit in front of me. It was all good though!

The draft, in summary as it impacts the Bears, was they took the best tight end in the draft and the first one selected when they picked with the 31st out of 32 teams. The trade with the Jets for Thomas Jones, netted us the 37th pick as well (we gave up Jones and our 63rd pick to get the 37th pick and if you recall, I thought we got screwed). Instead of making a pick though, the Bears traded the pick to San Diego for their second round pick (#62), #93, #167 all this year AND their 3rd round pick NEXT year. Wow! That's a great deal in my mind. Oddly, does this imply that I think Jones was worth, essentially, the 93rd, 167th and 3rd round pick of San Diego next year? Nope, I don't think the transitive property of equality applies here. The Jones trade was still bad and we just got lucky screwing the Chargers!!

My niece, Sommer, had her First Communion service at 4:00. Here I have to apologize to my sister for blaming her for scheduling the First Communion on draft day. Apparently the day is determined by the church, which is now on my shit least temporarily (yes, I take my sports seriously). Fortunately, traffic was not bad and I arrived about 15 minutes ahead of schedule at the far western suburb of Aurora. One of the gifts I bought Sommer (thank you Lurker Brenda --not to be confused with my sister Brenda--for the store and ideas!) was a First Communion white purse with rosary beads, a First Communion book and a pin. I was able to get Sommer the purse before mass and she was thrilled! Good Uncle Joe. In addition to the purse, I bought her an Irish crucifix suitable for hanging on a wall.

Here are some pictures:

My niece, Sommer.

Godparents and Sommer.

Sommer and Priest.

Revisiting the bar scene

One of my most memorable bar nights of late involved the following: Naperville Greg, a fish fry, Newcastle beer, Jameson whiskey and three women (plus a dude that I'll just leave out for the most part).

The night in question was actually over a year ago, during Lent of last year. Naperville Greg and I went to The Irish Oak, a bar near more, for their $10 all-you-can-eat fish fry. The fish is pretty good actually and they give you highly edible coleslaw as well as American fries. During Lent the last two years, I've probably gone to the same bar for the fish fry three times each year. If you know me, you know I'm not going to go back if the food isn't good.

Anyway, N.G. and I were catching up, enjoying our beer and fish when two Newcastle representatives showed up at our table (the bar wasn't very full yet so they didn't have much choice in regards to talking to us). One of the two reps was a petite little gal and the other was this tall dude. They ended up giving us free glasses of Newcastle, which we were drinking anyway, for about an hour or so. Then they let us play these games to win Newcastle gear. We played and won hats and a deck of cards. Dandy!

So you think that would be enough, but then along came the Jameson whiskey reps! There were two hot women who gave us drinks made with Jameson (mostly just Jameson and ginger ale which ended up being my drink of choice last year) and then gave us Jameson t-shirts.

Free beer, free whiskey, an all-you-can-eat fish fry, shirts, hats and a deck of cards! What a night!!!!!

Tonight I was out with my ATF buddy and some guys on my softball team watching the Bulls game (we won) and the Cubs game (we won!!). Guess WHO should up? Yep, the very SAME Newcastle people, almost exactly one year later. Hysterical. Actually it was the guy and a different woman, but the woman from last year showed up later. This year I bought my Newcastle and since I had my Newcastle hat on just by chance, they offered me the choice of either a t-shirt or yet another hat. Oddly enough, I chose the hat again. I've received a lot of good comments on that hat by the way. Then they gave me a bottle opener/key chain!! Great! When the original woman from last year showed up, I finagled a t-shirt too! Outstanding. It wasn't the same kind of night as with N.G., but it was good nonetheless.

Hope you had an outstanding Friday night as well!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Last Turks entry!

True to form, writing slightly buzzed tonight. See why below.

In an incredible act of genius, I've decided to run my blog on two paths for a while: the Turks section and the "What's up today?" section. This way, if you're interested in the Turks comments, you can read them, or skip them if you're not.

The Turks

This is probably my last Turks entry as I've pretty much exhausted the people we met and activities experienced. First, Beth from NY, please send the scuba photos!!! Ken is pissing himself over not having any. Did your camera not end up working Ken?

My record of the trip wouldn't be complete without a few more notes though. Part of the reason for my face fuzz was not only one but two more references to J.K. Simmons being my look alike. Somehow I'm going to have to contact him and see if people ask him if he looks like me!

Two other groups of people we ran across are pictured below. The first is a group from Denver who actually work for Janus Funds! When they heard that I was previously the CFO of Morningstar, I received a mix reaction. Two of them were very excited and the third, remembering something negative Morningstar had written about Janus in the past, completely turned on me!! Prior to that tidbit of info, she was all nicey-nicey and "I just have to set you up with my friends" and then BAM, barely spoke to me afterwards. Oh well.

The other two women were part of a larger group of people from Boston who had that awesome, thick, Boston accent. Too funny. I love talking to people from Boston because you can only understand about half of what they say during a good conversation.

Kerry, Julie and Melissa, all from Janus!

Lisa and Lynn from Boston.

And thus ends my notes on the Turks. Other stuff happened, which are not recorded in this blog, but these stories are recorded because they are true. You have read the stories and have seen the pictures, so you believe. Blessed are those who do not read my blog, nor see my pictures and yet believe.

What's up today?
After Tivoing Saturday Night Live and finally watching the episode, I was reminded of a previous segment that I found incredibly funny. It was a segment attached to the SNL Update News segment called "Oh Really" with Seth and Amy. Very funny and the segment with Michael Vick was really funny. This Youtube is such a great tool for bloggers!!!

Oh right, I'm tipsy. Why? Well, after work, I went to the gym, had a great workout and headed home. Before I even got there, my good buddy Naperville Greg (he can change his moniker if he desires), called to say he was already in my neighborhood and ready for dinner. We had set this up earlier in the day so it wasn't totally unexpected, except that he was actually early!! The last time we got together (for a fish fry with him and his wife) he was also early. These events were in stark contrast to a funny story that took place back in 2003 when the Cubs were in the playoffs.

Naperville Greg and I decided to hit the bars around Wrigley for game six of the playoffs with the Marlins. The Cubs had the chance to go to the world series, but the infamous "Bartman Play" contributed to a loss. Anyway, Greg and I were to meet at a local pub, Goose Island. Unfortunately Greg was running late and he had to wait in line outside while the game started. After an inning and no progress in line by Greg, I went over to the bouncer and slipped him a Jackson to get Greg inside. I watched as the bouncer grabbed Greg out of line and brought him around back. Now Greg used to work in a bar himself, so he naturally asked if I had "taken care of " the bouncer. The bouncer, being big but not stupid, said "no" so Greg gave him another $20. That's $40 to get inside for the privilege of watching the Cubs blow the game, but it was a good night regardless.

Anyway, tonight Greg and I hooked up for Thai food and Belgian beer. The combination worked surprisingly well and I recommend it to anyone!!

Did you catch Lost last night? Wow, cool ending. If you watch it, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, it would take too long to explain.

Some predictions for the NFL Draft on Saturday: do NOT be surprised if Oakland trades out of the #1 spot. I really think they are going to land a veteran QB, possibly Trent Green or more likely Daunte Culpepper, so that at the end of the day they end up taking the WR out of Georgia Tech, Calvin Johnson. Detroit is sooooo screwed up that you have no idea what they are going to do, so I'm not even going to hazard a guess. Do NOT be surprised if the Vikings or Packers trade up to steal away the player the Bears want with their second pick, 37th overall. Who is that going to be? I have no idea because the Bears are almost as screwed up as the Lions!!! Grossman a Super Bowl quarterback.....puhlease.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Are you having a good day?

In an incredible act of genius, I've decided to run my blog on two paths for a while: the Turks section and the "What's up today?" section. This way, if you're interested in the Turks comments, you can read them, or skip them if you're not.

The Turks

Two more folks we met while on the big rock were John and Janet. John is a real estate mogul in Denver and I'm not sure what Janet did, though I do know she was from Canada (Ottawa I believe). We met them in the special volleyball pool. I don't think I've mentioned this, but it was the first time I've seen such a thing and thought it was a great idea. They had a separate little pool with a net that was used solely for water volleyball games. Except for errant shots (which happen often), you don't annoy the other campers around the pool. Sweet!

It was funny how we met, because neither wore wedding rings and Janet is pretty cute. Soooo naturally I'm ready to turn on the charm as necessary (alright, I don't have charm, but I was going to talk to her at least). During the game however, John was taking "liberties" with the rules of volleyball (as will happen during resort water volleyball is just for fun after all). However, Janet was on him like white-on-rice and a little snippy I have to say. At this point, I didn't know that they even really knew each other, much less that they were married.

As you know, Joe doesn't do well with "snippy" women, or men for that matter, so she was immediately moved over to my "try to avoid" side. However, in between games, they swam over to each other and gave a little hug and kiss to each other. Oooooohhhhhh, she's not bitchy, she's just his wife. THAT makes total sense.

At dinner that evening, we dined with John and Janet and found out they were just really great folk. They pretty much had to kick us out of the dining room (actually this happened often with Ken and me) and we almost closed down the bar as well. John and Janet were great company the rest of the week!!

John was all sunburned so he had to stay out of the sun.

Janet at the chow line.

What's up today?

Not often, but sometimes, things happen the way we plan them to, or hope they might, or something unexpectedly pleasant occurs. We call the sum of these events "good days". Sometimes just one event can make it a good day, but usually, for me at least, it's several little things.

Today, though unproductive for the most part, was a good day for me. Every nine months or so I go to see my allergist who writes my prescriptions for some basic allergy medication. As such, he gives me a little mini-exam to make I'm sure I'm generally healthy. My blood pressure was 110 over 65, pretty darn good for a 190 lb, 41 year old, so I was pretty happy. The doc is 74 and seriously moves slower than molasses, so the fact that I got out in about an hour is pretty amazing and also made me happy.

Unfortunately I missed my car wash special where it's $6 to have your car hand-washed if you're in by 10:30. It was 10:30 when I left the office. The car needed washing because my parking spot is under a tree and we had a lot of wind and rain last night, which colluded to dump all sorts of "tree shit" on my car. With the $15 car wash out of the question, I hoped for a space outside my condo where I could hose off the car. BAM! There it was, a spot right in front. Joe's happy yet again and the day is looking pretty good!

One of the errands I needed to run was to the hardware store to look at internal doors for my condo; I'm going to replace them all starting with my pantry. Unfortunately, the standard sizes for doors are 28", 30", 32", 34" and 36" basically every two inches, while my pantry door is 27 3/4". Crap. Now I have to custom order a door which is going to cost twice as much. So I ask this guy at the store about custom ordering one and he not only tells me, but shows me, that the 28" door is really only 27 3/4" and it's just a crazy industry thing (the 30" door really is 30", so it's all nuts!). The entire lumber industry is this way as even a 2x4 isn't 2" by 4". Yet another thing piling onto my good day.

On a lark, I walked down the aisle marked "Rat poison, Mouse traps, Automotive". Not sure what those have in common, though my Camry is credited with one rat killing. Much to my surprise, they have a T-Rex knock off for sale called the Tomcat. It looks just like the T-Rex and is 1/3rd the price. I had to buy one just in case the rats show up again as the weather turns nice.....if the weather turns nice. Still, another positive to my day.

Some pleasant conversation with the ladies from Montreal and having a consultant actually do what I asked him to do (albeit it three weeks late) and the day is a full-fledged "good day". Hopefully you're having a good day too!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

French Kisses

In an incredible act of genius, I've decided to run my blog on two paths for a while: the Turks section and the "What's up today?" section. This way, if you're interested in the Turks comments, you can read them, or skip them if you're not.

The Turks

The other women that we spent the majority of our time with on the trip were Sandrine and Diana. I'm not entirely sure how we first met them, so maybe Ken can help out in the comment section. I think we met them at dinner on Saturday night and played pool with them, but I'm not sure. Since the tables in the dining room seat eight and there is a host/hostess seating people randomly, you have a very good chance of meeting new people (especially at dinner) if you are interested in socializing at all. And what am I if not social? :-)

Diana and Sandrine are from Montreal and both have lived there all their lives. Take a minute to check Google Maps and see the location of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. They are much closer to the U.S. than I thought. Montreal is really just across the border from Vermont and not far from frequent commenter dejesus freak's parents home. Both women frequently commented about how nice of a town it is and a cultural wonderland to visit. Hopefully I'll find out sometime in the near future.

One of the highlights of the week was when all four of us hopped into two kayaks and a windy day. Sandrine and I jumped into one kayak and headed out to where the waves were breaking. Ken and Diana were motoring around too, but they had the sense to turn around sooner. I conned Sandrine to keep going out and we were fine until she unilaterally decided to turn back...just as a big wave was about to crash on us. I was able to maneuver us just enough to keep the wave from hitting us at completely parallel, which would have dumped us both in the water and who knows what would have happened to the oars. We didn't topple though and were able to make it back in unscathed. Good fun!!

Not only were the Canucks our pool buddies, but they also played ping pong with us and we took a long walk down the beach to check out other resorts and condos. Towards the end of the week, when we said goodbye, we'd do the traditional double-cheek-air-kiss. Normally, I can't stand this act. You're not really kissing, you're just pretending. But, it certainly beats a handshake and you're in close enough to make a move (like a hug or something!). Ha! It's really interesting how at ease you can become with people in the right situation. That's Club Med for you though!

Diana at dinner and Sandrine by the pool....not sure why the leg is up....just being silly I think.

Ken, Sandrine, Diana and I look fat here? Good Lord...time for another diet!!

What's up today?

My luggage has been returned!! Actually, I received it later in the day yesterday and then spent the evening doing laundry. Isn't that the way? You can't resist. There's a crap load of dirty clothes and you just have to do laundry, at least I do.

While my baggage was returned in tact, my non-golf bag piece was torn towards the bottom and will have to be put down. It was ripped a bit before as well, but in this particular spot, the zipper is pulling away and not really securing anything anymore. Time for new luggage....ugh.

As I'm getting caught up with a backlog of emails, regular mail and various tasks, there hasn't been much time for insightful topic gathering for my blog. However, this Saturday my niece is making her First Communion and I was looking for gift ideas. The leading gift idea currently is money, but I welcome all First Communion gift ideas for a 7 year old.

This Saturday is also the NFL draft. Why would my sister plan my niece's First Communion on draft day? My leading guess is "out of spite" but it just could be ignorance. She's not that big a football fan, but her husband is. Me thinks he was sleeping on the job. C'mon, the Bears have two picks at the end of the first round/beginning of the second round and that's just about the time the ceremony is to take place. Coincidence? I think not. Pardon me in advance if I have my headset on!!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Two, two, two entries for the price of one!!

In an incredible act of genius, I've decided to run my blog on two paths for a while: the Turks section and the "What's up today?" section. This way, if you're interested in the Turks comments, you can read them, or skip them if you're not.

The Turks

After connecting in Charlotte and hooking up with Ken there, we made it to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos without much problem. While in line clearing customs (about 45 minutes to an hour), we met Mark and Melissa from Denver who were there for a wedding. Apparently 76 people were coming to this beach wedding, which is a pretty impressive number for a Caribbean wedding. As it turns out, we met several more people from the wedding party, including the bride and groom. I was making a play to get an invitation, but didn't seal the deal. After their vows were finished and the turned to walk away, I just "happened" to be strolling by on the beach along the water with my orange floppy hat and received many congratulations for putting in an appearance at the event.

There were two other women in line at customs "of interest". Very attractive brunettes, but they were too far away in line to actually talk to, plus they didn't seem all that interested in talking. We finally cleared customs, grabbed our bags and meandered outside. The Club Med was there and was pretty helpful, if not a little confused. After waiting a few minutes, Mark and Melissa were brought over by the rep. A short while later, the two brunettes were brought over too! Bingo! Things are looking up. In the mini-van cab, we introduced ourselves and they are from NY City. They are a fairly abrupt and seem standoffish, so when we get to the resort, I told Ken we'd probably not talk to them again the rest of the week. I couldn't have been more wrong!

The rest of Saturday we didn't see the brunettes from NYC, but Sunday we did, down on the beach. They actually set up very close to us, maybe ten feet away, but they seemed content in their own world so we didn't try to talk to them. Absolutely beautiful women, so it was a shame they weren't more approachable. We saw them after dinner that night when they came over to talk to us....and thus started a week long friendship with Beth and Karen. Beth is married, as we found out later in the week, and it's easy to see why: smart, great sense of humor and drop-dead looks, rock hard body. It turns out Karen wanted to make the trip down to the resort but didn't particularly want to go alone, so she called up Beth to see if she wanted to go. The trip was planned only three weeks before they actually came down. Seems like a good friend thing to do.....dropping what's going on in you life, leaving you spouse for a week and heading off on vacation.

We had several meals together, played some pool and on the last night, after Karen went to bed early from a night of margaritas at local bars, we stayed up until 3 a.m. just chatting with Beth. Except for the 30 or so mosquito bites on each of my legs, it was a great evening. Outstanding women both.

Beth and Karen before dinner one night.

What's up today?

As I mentioned earlier, my luggage is in Newark, I think, and no word from the airline today. That means tomorrow I need to call and figure out what's going on. Ugh. Interestingly though, when you lose your luggage, you have to do without a lot of things that are comfortable: shirts, shorts, that favorite pair of jeans, underwear, shoes, toiletries, a razor.....oh so many things. In addition to that list, I had packed my electric toothbrush, prescriptions, my scuba dive log book, my golf clubs, scuba equipment, swim trunks and one of my beloved pillows. So now I'm managing without all of those things.

A question though, while I've missed a few of these things over the last 24 hours, what will I really miss come next week, or the week after? Right now I'm missing my toothbrush the most, but that's easily replaced. I think my shorts are going to be a big problem if I don't get my luggage back. Oh, and that pair of jeans. Like that sweater, they fit just right. My dive log of course has my scuba certification in it in addition to my logs on each dive I've made. That's actually irreplaceable. Makes you think about what should be in your carry-on bags and what is ok to actually place in the hands of airport baggage gorillas. Not to scare you in any way, but just think about it more carefully next time you travel.

Under the "someone always has it worse off" category, poor Ken went home to find his basement flooded. You might have heard about all of the rain they got in NJ (we heard about it on the island). There was all sorts of flooding and road closures right around Ken and apparently he didn't get away unscathed. Funny thing though, he gave his neighbor the phone number to the resort and said, "If the house burns down, don't call me." Guess they decided the same applied for floods!!

While in the Turks, I decided to relax the shaving a bit. Now I have the beginnings of a goatee (or a Hollywoodian actually) going and it seems to be getting a pretty positive response thus far. We'll see how it grows in and then make a call.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


There's so much to relate about my trip, it's hard to figure where to start. Normally, had I written daily, I would offer my activities, stories and anecdotes along the way. However, that sounds like maybe not so interesting reading (seven entries worth!) a week later. I think I'll just stick with some of the more general musings, but include some info on the people we met.

Ken on the plane....yeah, he just got out of the john. He was in row 5 while I was in row 25, so he decided NOT to move back and sit next to me. The other picture is us on the golf course. I bought the orange floppy hat to protect my ears. It was a big hit all week.

Club Med itself is an interesting concept in theory, but in reality it's not much different than other all-inclusive resorts which I've attended. Maybe the people working there are slightly more peppy than normal, but the atmosphere is relatively the same. This particular Club Med is an adults only club, which just meant no kids. It didn't seem like anything else was different (it's not like they ran x-rated movies in the lobby or anything). Half of the beach was top-optional, but the women were mostly just tanning with their tops off, not playing volleyball or running around (much to my chagrin).

If you've never been, I liken the atmosphere to that of Wrigleyville after a Friday afternoon's 3:00 Cubs/Cardinals game (with a Cubs win of course); everyone is happy, most are drunk or on their way to getting drunk, they are sunburned, tired, hungry, thirsty, dehydrated, some are single, some are married, some are looking to hook up and some are just there to get attention so they feel better about themselves. As a single guy, can you pretty easily hook up with someone? Sure, but how will you feel about yourself the next day? The women my buddy Ken and I spent most of our time with would have been a pleasure to wake up next to, but it wasn't an issue for either of us: one was married in NY, her single friend from NY who had other drawbacks and two who had boyfriends back home in Montreal. All of them were very bright, fun to talk to, great senses of humor and overall enjoyable company. I guess that's why we didn't feel a need to lower our standards any.

Pictures of: Karen and Beth (from NY) with Ken and me. Sandrine and Diana from Montreal with Ken and me.

But the week wasn't ALL about women, though today I had some bikini-clad-woman withdrawal by noon. Ken and I golfed three days (including 27 holes one day), took a refresher scuba class in the pool, went scuba diving at 60' on two dives, took kayaks out with the gals from Montreal, played a lot of water volleyball as well as billiards and ping-pong. It was really a full week and we both wanted to stay a few more days. Early in the week, Ken was still sort of recovering from his bout with pneumonia and on day two I caught my traditional "Caribbean cold" which is usually due to unclean air conditioning systems and happens to me just about every time I hit the Caribbean via cruise or resort. This time I started taking decongestant and anti-histamines pretty quickly and kept it from ruining my week. During my refresher scuba class, I was having trouble "clearing my mask" (briefly you clear water out of your scuba mask by blowing air out of your nose which displaces the water in your mask so you can see again) not because I lacked the skill, but because I couldn't blow through my nose!!

There's so much more to write, but I have to go play a double-header in the suburbs. More tomorrow!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Updates soon to follow

Hello all!!! Yep, I just got back from my week in Turks and Caicos. Briefly as it's late and I'm beat, it was great, met some very nice people, Ken and I had a blast and my luggage is somewhere in New Jersey as I write.

Softball tournament during the day on Sunday, but I'll start with the stories in short order.

Friday, April 13, 2007

How do you pack for a week long trip?

Tomorrow morning, at 5:30 a.m., there should be a car waiting to take me to O'Hare and off to my (hopefully) wonderful vacation. That meant a good chunk of today was spent packing. Question: how do you pack? I noted today that what I do is kind of odd, or at least it seems like maybe it's odd.

I started off with the most important thing: underwear. Check. Then I moved on to......guesses? Undershirts; need them for golfing and I hate sweating through my shirts. Next on the list? Socks. So not only is the order a little weird, but I laid everything out on the bed, actually two of them, before even moving to get a suitcase. Is that odd? I just don't have to pack often enough to be good at it, plus I'm very visually oriented so I need to see everything I'm packing in order to make sure it gets into the suitcase. Unfortunately this affords me the awesome opportunity to remember what I DIDN'T pack as I'm on the way to the airport. That should kick in around 6:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake, but I, just moments ago, realized that if I hit the "advance 30 seconds" button 6 times on my Tivo, that I'll miss all the commercials and pick up when the show starts again. Sweet. Sure, I know it's simple math 3 minutes divided by 30 seconds equals 6, but I would have thought the commercial breaks were more on the line of 2 minutes each. Well, it's working for me, so I'm excited! Interestingly enough, I discovered the formula during Raines, the investigation show I told you to watch if you could. How ironic!

Brats and Chorizo

Wednesday night I drove up to Milwaukee with dejesus freak to watch the Indians and Angels play as planned. Actually, dejesus drove so I was riding shotgun, which doesn't happen all that often (control issues don'tcha know). Though we were a little bit late, a baseball game in a dome is just what the doctor ordered with all the snow flying about.

One of the many things better about new stadiums versus Wrigley Field, is the food. In addition to six or seven different kinds of beer, they have five kinds of sausage! Since they weren't expecting as many fans though (16,000 versus 40,000), they didn't have all of the sausage stands open. I ended up in the line for brats and chorizos and bought two of each. If you want, you can get the chorizo in a tortilla as opposed to a bun, but I figured I needed something to soak up the mulitple kinds of beer that I would be consuming......including PBR by the way!!! The game was fun, mostly because the Indians lost which helps the Sox. Pictures to follow!

On the return trip home, we stopped in Kenosha at The Brat Stop, which is actually the name of the place though above the sign with the name on it is a much larger sign that just says "CHEESE" in big neon letters. I've seen the sign a million times, but never stopped. Turns out it's a pretty cool bar that also has a sausage and cheese shop associated with it. Pretty cool actually. Thanks dejesus!!

Today I received a letter that notified me of the discontinuation of the credit card awards program that I've been taking advantage of for some period of time. Every month they send me $25-$75 worth of store credits to use at my local computer store. It really comes in handy to not have to pay for toner, paper, other supplies or minor electronic equipment.

So, I turn to you, my loyal readers, to help me with selecting another award oriented card (especially since you were so helpful with the "what to bring to the Caribbean" question......condoms and sunscreen, gee thanks). So tell me about your favorite award program. Keys: I don't want to pay an annual fee, interest rate doesn't matter, bank doesn't matter. Let me know!!

Leaving for the Caribbean early Saturday, so I may or may not get a post in on Friday before I go. Hopefully I'll have access to a computer while I'm down there to provide periodic updates, but if not, I'll take plenty of notes!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wrigley Brick

If you're in Chicago today, the falling snow probably tipped you off that the game I was supposed to attend in the fifth row behind home plate was indeed postponed. Damnit!! dejesus freak emailed me yesterday though and posed the idea of driving to Milwaukee to see the Cleveland Indians play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who are playing in Milwaukee because it's snowing in Cleveland and Milwaukee has a retractable roof stadium. For a while today, I was going to have a double header in two different towns! We're still going to Milwaukee though, so at least we'll see one game.

Next time you're at Wrigley Field at the corner of Sheffield and Addison by the Harray Caray statue, you can see my small contribution to the park! Last year I had the chance to buy a brick paver that would be installed around the stadium somewhere and could write anything on it I wanted (subject to censors). There are supposed to be a lot of them around and the Cubs indicated that mine is near the section marked "Ron Santo". Not sure how it's marked, but I was going to find out today. Oh well. I have a replica of the brick in my living room actually as they sent all purchasers a duplicate.

Finally, here's the text of an email I sent regarding the Bears schedule. Non-sports folks can feel free to skip it!

The Bears schedule has been released!

I know I predicted a lonnnnnng season for the Bears last year (which it was in terms of games played, but that's not what I meant at the time). This year however, is going to be much, much worse. Why? Let me elucidate:

1) Grossman will be a year worser, I know it's not a word, but it fits Grossman who is not an NFL QB.
2) No Thomas Jones, man are we going to miss him in week 4 when Peterson is our RB.
3) No Lance Briggs
4) The entire offensive line is a year older.
5) Last year we started off with three patsy, divisional games followed by Seattle without their MVP RB, followed by Buffalo, Arizona, a bye, and SF before we hit the Miami buzz saw. We SHOULD have been undefeated. Those teams sucked! Whole different ball game this year. We start off against real teams: at SD, KC (and Larry Johnson) and Dallas before we hit our patsy games. We could easily be 0-3 or 1-2 to start off the year. That's going to put the players in a different mindset and it's not going to be good.

I can see us easily losing six games, but probably not more than that: at SD, KC, at Philly, at Seattle, one of Denver/Giants at home, and the Saints in week 17 (though who knows whether that game will matter). The Saints will be New Year's Eve-Eve, so maybe Grossman will focus on the game this year. Doubt it will help.

Joe says 10-6

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What Should I Bring?

As many of you know, I'm heading on vacation Saturday for a week to the Turks & Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. My buddy Ken from NJ has put together a list of things to make sure we bring. Here's my question for you: what would YOU make sure you didn't forget if you were me? Read the other comments and come up with something original! I should have the standard things covered: toiletries, golf equipment, scuba equipment, books, magazines, dvd player, razor, ibuprofen, Pepto-bismal.

In my picture from the bowling alley the other night, G-Man (who is changing his name) points out that I'm drinking PBR. Now, why would a self proclaimed beer snob drink PBR? Interesting question and there are a few answers. First, unlike Miller Lite and Bud/Bud Light and MGD and a bunch of other like beers, PBR actually has flavor. I don't know when the last time you actually had one, but they are pretty tasty in an ale kind of way. Go ahead, persecute me, but I'm sticking by my guns.

The other reason that I periodically drink PBR, which you don't find in many bars by the way, relates to my childhood. No, my parents were regularly serving beer with dinner. It actually goes back to visits to my grandparents' (mom's parents) house. Several times that I recall, we made home-made ice cream out of milk, sugar, ice, salt and who knows what else. It was pretty cool to put those things together and churn them into ice cream. Pretty tasty too. Well, after making ice cream, my grandmother would have the ice cream while sucking down a PBR. That's right, my GRANDMOTHER would drink PBR while eating ice cream. I'm fairly sure even I wouldn't do THAT. But it did provide a positive association with the PBR, which I'm sure I was allowed to try once or twice. So that's the rest of the story.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Writing drunk again.....damnit.

Thought maybe I had written my entry before I left this evening, but alas, I did not. However, I did make note of several topics so at least you'll be spared the rambling writings of a drunkard.

Not sure if you saw this article or not, but I found it fascinating. Most everyone is familiar with the use of cameras at intersections which capture motorists running red lights. These cameras are all over Chicago's busiest intersections and often I have seen them going off (they make a bright flash when they snap pictures so you know you've been nabbed). You run the red light, the camera goes off, taking a picture of your license plate and then they mail you the ticket. Well, the Supreme Court of Minnesota upheld the Court of Appeals decision that the cameras not only violated a state law on having uniform traffic laws, but also that they offered the accused fewer due process protections than the motorist who is actually pulled over. The key for me in the article though is this line:

"The court also struck down the "rebutable presumption" doctrine that lies at the heart of every civil photo enforcement ordinance across the country. The problem with the presumption that the owner was the driver is that it eliminates the presumption of innocence and shifts the burden of proof from that required by the rules of criminal procedure."

THAT'S the way the court is supposed to work! Fine, prove that my car was at that intersection and going through it illegally, but why do I have to prove that I'm not the driver? Why do I have to prove that I'm innocent! In Minnesota at least, you don't. God luv'em.

And now for something completely different......(Monty Python reference)

Once upon a time, a junior high student was given a project to contact someone famous by sending them a letter. The student could pick anyone, but they had to research how to contact the person through using the library (the point of the project). So this industrious student decided to contact of all people, a comic strip writer. The comic strip writer wrote not one but two nationally syndicated, very popular comic strips: B.C. and The Wizard of Id. That comic strip writer was Johnny Hart and he just passed away the other day at the age of 76. Mr. Hart, I like to believe, received and responded to my letter and sent me an autograph and personalized drawing of all of the characters of both comic strips on one big sheet. I still have it and obviously his simple act made an impact on me. Rest in peace Mr. Hart.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter Everyone!

Hopefully everyone had just a great day! Mine started off with church and then a trip to the 'burbs to see the folks and my sisters. As you know, annually, there is a big Easter egg hunt pitting me against my niece. Historically, my niece has taken me to task usually because of a combination of assistance from my family tackling me and my own limited amount of humanitarianism preventing me from taking out life's frustrations on a four year old.

That all changed a week ago at a restaurant celebrating my mother's 70th birthday. After sitting down next to my niece at the table (and getting an instant "oh great." comment from her), I brought up the Easter egg hunt subject. I asked her if she was ready and she said, "It doesn't matter. I win every year anyway." What?!?! The cockiness! She's calling me out in a restaurant!

So today, despite the cold, the Easter egg hunt was on again and my niece couldn't wait to get started. Bee and my mom set out to hide the eggs and this year they did just a bang up job. If you don't think it's hard, try hiding 17 colored eggs in your yard sometime. Trust me, it's not easy. When my mother gave the signal to start, my niece ran for the first egg, which I suspect she had seen moments before. In retaliation, I grabbed the hood of her coat to slow her down, to no avail as it came unbuttoned in my hands and I was down 1-0 just ten seconds into the hunt.

Fortunately for me, my arms are about as long as she is tall, so I had a distinct advantage during the hunt whenever we saw an egg at the same time. As a result, I brought home the bacon (or yolk as it were) with a 10-7 victory!! Much to the credit of my niece, she took the defeat really well and we had lots of fun the rest of the day. Mission accomplished.

Part of the fun the rest of the day was an auction set up by my mom. The deal was, everyone received $200 in play money that they could use to bid on any of a dozen or so gift wrapped items. Since it was my mother's event, she could "bang the gavel" at any time without warning. However, she didn't have a gavel. Instead, she made this seal-like honking sound that absolutely just made my day. Swear to God, funniest thing I've heard in a while. Anyway, in addition to the bidding and winning things, there was a lot of horse trading going on. Note to self, don't trade with either my father or any member of my niece's family. They're all swindlers! They would secretly look at their partially unwrapped winnings and then attempt to get me to trade something good to them for it. Everyone was a winner in the end though!!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Answer, etc.

In case you missed this story, a coyote wandered into a downtown Quizno’s sandwich shop the other day. Fortunately they were able to capture and release him into the wild. I love the picture of him sitting in the cooler! Ha!

The answer to yesterday's question about what I did on Thursday? It was bowling! Yes, even with my bad hand I gave it the ol'college try. At few times did it actually hurt my hand though and even then it wasn't when you might think. The pain would occur when picking up the ball as opposed to supporting, swinging or releasing it. Odd. I tested it out at first just to see and since it didn't hurt, I threw three games. Ricardo, Ricardo's wife and friend of Ricardo's wife all went. Here are some photos:

The Group and then me trying to make a crazed look....didn't work as well as I hoped.

Ricardo up close and me having released the ball a few seconds earlier.

The other night on American Idol, the only reason I was watching was eliminated. Gina Glocksen, from Naperville and the cousin of a friend, was voted off. It also happened to be the night that I was out to dinner with el supremo de NM, so I didn’t vote. So I’m officially adding Gina’s failure to the long list of things that I blame on el supremo de NM. Let’s take a look at that list as it currently stands:
1. The proliferation of CSI shows
2. My weight (when high)
3. Captain America’s death
4. William Hung’s decision to sing
5. My periodic alcoholism
6. The ferocity of wild bears (he hikes through the wild in NM pissing them off)
7. Most bad weather in Chicago
8. The Spartan loss at Thermopylae
9. The Osmond’s having a star on the Hollywood walk of fame
10. Gina Glocksen’s American Idol loss

As events transpire, I’ll take some of them off and put new ones on.

An interesting article in Discover Magazine; actually there were several. The article asserts that people get into more accidents in vehicles and generally take more risks when they perceive they are safe: cab drivers with anti-lock brakes drive faster and bicyclers with helmets get hit by cars more frequently than those without. So this group of urban planners called Shared Space is working with cities to rely on human beings’ intelligence and removing street signs and stop lights in various test areas. In ALL of the areas the theory is being tested, both in the U.S. and Europe (London and Drachten are mentioned), have seen reduced accidents (both with vehicles AND pedestrians) as well as reduced congestion and travel times. Seems pretty cool. It made me think about various places in Mexico where often no stoplights or signs exist. It seems chaotic at first, but then you realize that the drivers just know if they have the right of way and drive and stop accordingly.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday?

So let's play a quick guessing game. What did Joe do Thursday night? Here are you choices:

1. Went bowling with friends, despite his bad hand and drank PBR.
2. Went on a first date with potential gal-pal, drank wine for the 4th day in a row.
3. Went to heated driving range at Diversey to see if he can actually swing with his sprained hand and didn't drink at all......well, maybe a nip once back home.

Answer tomorrow!!

It's Good Friday, though I'm not entirely sure why it's "Good". Of course, Jesus was crucified on a Friday and in dieing, conquered death and relieved our sins, so I guess that could be the good part of it. It really should be Bad Friday and Good Easter though. On Good Friday now, we hear the reading of the Passion according to St. John. The other three Passion readings are rotated through on Palm Sunday, the week before Easter. Just a little Catholic trivia.

Easter Sunday is a gathering day at Chateau Sutton, my parent's place. Traditionally, I'm pitted against my niece in an Easter egg hunt and traditionally she wins through the assistance of my family. THIS year however, may be my year. Why? Several reasons:

1. It's cold outside. That reduces the amount of time any member of MY family is willing stay outside and help my niece.
2. She's 7 now and can take an egg beating now psychologically.
3. She actually talked trash to me about it at my mother's birthday party! Yes she did! When I asked her if we were going to have the hunt on Easter, she said "Yeah, but I always win." What's up with that? Talk smack with Joe and he's gonna get all up in yo'grill!!

Buddy Ken from NJ has assured me he's taking his meds and getting ready for our trip. You better be Ken!!!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tired of writing drunk!

This week has really been something with not small quantities of wine consumed every night. Tonight is going to be a similar situation, so I thought I'd give this entry a try sober......I'm already bored with myself.

Scary developments on the Turks & Caicos trip! As you know, I'm going on 4/14 with my boy Ken from NJ. About two weeks ago Ken told me he had a cold. Then a week ago he told me he felt like he had a bronchial infection, but wasn't going to take anti-biotics or anything because he didn't want to risk building up a tolerance. I called Ken today to check up on him to see how he was doing: pneumonia. Good Lord. We're only planning on scuba diving!! A little hard to do that while hacking up a lung. However, Ken's taking all sorts of meds now and his doctor has told him he'll be fine in time for the trip. I'm not so sure, but I'm hoping!!

Back to MY injury: my hand. Last night I decided to sleep with my splint on my hand (like the doc said I should do) and I'm happy to report that my hand felt much better today than yesterday. Maybe these doctors DO know something. Hmmmmm.....

The flood in the office continued to create a nasty, musty odor. After another call to the maintenance guy, action was finally taken. He actually rented a Home Depot carpet cleaner and went to town in the supply room. Tomorrow we'll see if it was successful. It's making work in the office really tough.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Saint Peter.....the Rabbit?

Not sure if you've been watching the current season of South Park or not, but if not, you really should. Sure, the humor is fairly sophomoric, but damn has it been topical this year. Good stuff. This week the writers put forth the proposition that St. Peter was actually a rabbit and was supposed to be the head of the Catholic church, not the Pope. In fact, the Pope's hat was the shape that it is because it was supposed to house the rabbit's ears. Very funny. The secret society that maintains the secret is called "The Hare Club for Men". Of course, there had to be clues in DaVinci's "Last Supper".

Last night, I went to dinner with el supremo de NM, Ricardo and Mrs. Ricardo. I'd mention the restaurant, but it was AWESOME, relatively small and pretty inexpensive considering the quality of food that we received. So if I tell YOU, then who knows if I'll be able to get back in three months from now. If you go with me, then you'll know. Sorry!

Dinner last night was followed this morning by....NO, not another meal. Thankfully. We actually met with a client for which we had completed our initial engagement. They are going to try and implement our action plan by themselves, as opposed to having us help. That's part of the deal with our services though: you buy what you want and we'll tell you what the fixed price will be. Then you can buy another piece of our services, or not. This client was the first one we completely finished in Chicago! It was especially important since one of the owners is the brother of one of our other clients!

Another hand update: I really think it's broken. Yes, yes, I had an x-ray, but I'm not certain they looked closely at the area that hurts which would have been at the edge of the x-ray. I don't know. I can press on it and it's ok, but I still can't shake hands well and it's sort of inflamed, but in a scar-tissue kind of way. Hmmm, maybe they left a sponge in there while I wasn't looking. Sounds like a lawsuit!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fighting a Flood

My day started off with even MORE food, as el supremo de NM and a client met for breakfast. Even though I was still full from going for wine and sushi last night, I managed to chow down a Denver omelet. Good Lord. What kind of hog have I turned into? Well, in a weak attempt to even things out, I only had half a sandwich at lunch. On to dinner!

After breakfast, we headed into my Goose Island office. We were welcomed with a very nasty, musty smell. I wasn't sure what was going on, so I opened a window and that helped a lot. After an hour or so, it was time to visit the washroom. The floor was wet and the toilet was not clogged but also not working. Hmmmm. So I went upstairs to the second floor and used the men's room there. Before leaving, I checked out the toilet just to see if it was working. There was an unholy mess in there!! Ugh!

So now I'm wondering what's causing the smell in my office if two toilets in the building are messed up. After looking around the hallway first and finding nothing, I checked out our supply closet. Bingo!! Water everywhere!! Damn it. We lost three or four reams of paper, some file folders, hanging folders, toilet paper, all sorts of stuff. After performing some triage, I called our landlord to complain and our maintenance guy to clean it up. The landlord was pretty understanding and immediately gave us a $200 credit towards our rent. The maintenance guy took a while to show up, but he cleaned up the room pretty well and promised to bring in a carpet cleaner. After he finished, I saw him at the bottom of the stairs outside of our office mopping up a bunch of water that was standing about an inch deep! Looks like we missed the brunt of the waterfall from the overflowing, constantly running toilet one floor above. Fortunately the water was relatively clean at least!! Just goes to show you, someone always has it worse off than you.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Occam's Razor

el supremo de NM is in town for the next three days which means client contact, too much alcohol and too much food. The former is the reason I work and the later two are unfortunate side effects of the job. At least they are unfortunate if you're dieting. Yes, I'm still trying to lose weight and have been hovering around 190. Yeah, I know it's down 10 pounds from where I was, but it really hasn't moved since the end of January. Oh well. I'm actually okay with this weight, but I'd be happier five pounds lighter. We'll see.

So with that information as a backdrop, I really wanted to come up with something interesting to illustrate Occam's razor and make the Wiki reference to it. However, as I write this blog, I'm relatively drunk, very tired and ready to hit the sack. Sooooo, if you have a good Occam's razor example, go ahead and share it in the comment section.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have more time to write and less alcohol in my system!

Happy birthday to Cleveland Kim by the way!!!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Catch Up on The World of Joe

Soooo, at last check, Joe was a big puddle of goo after he attended a funeral for the father of a friend. Much has happened since then, so let's dive in!

Friday, still a Friday during Lent for those unfamiliar, was actually a pretty relaxing day. Church at 8:30, some work, hit the gym from 11:30-1:30 and then I hooked up with a bright-eyed, happy looking dejesus freak for lunch. I mention his state of mind because we all go through good times and tough times and it's been a mixed bag certainly for dejesus recently. But he had just taken a trip to the Dominican Republic and while there got certified for scuba diving. Being certified myself, it's a fun accomplishment. Scuba diving is something I truly love, on par with golf (pardon the pun). Unfortunately, it's easier to go golfing around Chicago than it is to scuba.

After lunch, dejesus and I actually had coffee too since it's been so long since we'd gotten together and had much to talk about. After coffee, we bid adieu and I did some laundry prior to heading out to my first minor league hockey game, which in Chicago is The Wolves (though many people would argue that watching the Blackhawks is like going to a minor league game). My companion and I were on the jumbotron as soon as we entered the seating bowl as the mascot came over to question a youth about current players. Thankfully they didn't ask me as I noticed that the only player on the team that I knew, had his numbered retired and hanging from the rafters, so clearly he was no longer a player. It's a fun time though and I recommend taking a game in if you have time and interest. Lots and lots of kids there too.

Saturday morning came early as I had two softball games in Arlington Heights which started at 9:00 a.m. We took batting practice at 8, which meant I had to leave at 7 and get up at 6. After not getting to bed until shortly after midnight, it was going to be a tough morning. Despite periodic showers, we split the two games which were used to determine our seeding in the rest of the tournament on Sunday.

Friday was my mother's 70th birthday, so we planned a surprise for her on Saturday. My aunt flew in from D.C. and the three kids, went to a suburban restaurant to surprise her. It was a big success! It's always good to see the family at those types of events. I actually hung around in the burbs because I had another league softball game in a dome at 10:30!

Sunday morning rolled around, Palm Sunday, but no church for me in the morning at least. Under bright sunshine, I headed back to Arlington Heights for the rest of the softball tournament after 9 hours of very restful sleep. Unfortunately, many games from the day before were rained out and had to be played first, so by the time our first game started, the rains had come back. Ugh. We came out rocking though scoring 15 runs in the first inning and winning 20-9 after six innings (game was stopped due to slaughter rule). The fields were looking bad though and we finished one inning of our next game before the tournament was postponed. I may miss the rest of it since I think I'll still be in The Turks when they play it out. Oh well. In this particular softball organization, ISA (Illinois Softball Association), we have to play one level higher than we do in other softball organizations, because we won one of their tournaments last year. So against good competition, we were 2-1 and were winning 2-0 when the next game was called. That bodes well for us for the softball season upcoming!!!