Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another long night.....of drinking....ugh.

Yes, it's nearly midnight and I'm writing my blog intoxicated once again. It el supremo de NM's fault once again due to a combination of events: he took me out for a great dinner last night with his family, we had a breakfast meeting this morning where we ate too much food which led me to eating only an apple for lunch before heading over to Just Grapes for wine tasting at 4:30. Nothing but wine and crackers for 2 1/2 hours!! Not ideal. More food and booze at Alhambra idea courtesy of Ricardo. I love Ricardo and his wife so them with el supremo and the boss of Ricardo's wife made it a great evening!!

While drinking at Just Grapes, I started setting aside bottles of wine that I liked. At the end of the evening, I had a case of wine. Since it was all on sale though, 12 bottles cost me $110 including tax. Not bad!!! Tonight was the first time that I really bought wines at Just Grapes. Normally I just drink and eat crackers!

Still no Cicadas. Damn them all!!

Ummmmmm, what else? I thought I had other ideas, but I'm drawing blanks. Tomorrow I have to get up early and take el supremo to the airport, then a client invited me to the Cubs game. If I'm still away, Alexis (from Amsterdam) will be up in Lincoln Square for German May Fest. Saturday is a softball tournament and Sunday is golf at 6:45!!! Yikes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Shut up. It's ok, I'm a girl."

Picked up el supremo de NM at O'Hare record time I might add. From my door, it took less than 30 minutes to get to the massive airport. With relatively easy traffic, we were able to grab a bite for lunch prior to heading to our first client.

After a successful meeting, we briefly stopped at home before heading to dinner at our new favorite restaurant, Scylla. Joining us for dinner was Alexis (of the blog Alexis in Amsterdam), fellow blogger (and sister) Motherrocker, John the Armenian (MR's hubby) and his parents Sourdough Al and Sandy (they specialize in putting together great cruise packages, so check them out if you're interested). We had a great time swapping tales as well as food. We sat upstairs, which was a first for me, but we had Alex as our waiter, a Scylla favorite. Chef Stephanie was there as well and even sent out some complimentary appetizers to us. What a great night!! In addition to the great food, I had a few Quebec beers called Maudite. Really tasty stuff let me tell you. For dessert, Motherrocker decided to order a Frangelico. She must have thought I was going to say something demeaning, because she made the quote which I used as the title of the blog today. Mind you, I didn't even know what Frangelico was, so clearly I couldn't make fun of her!!

Still no Cicadas anywhere near me downtown, but I've heard they are even up in Winnetka now. So now they are north, south and west (can't be east because of the lake). What the hell?
Show yourselves already!!

Finally, a baby binturong was born in Sydney's zoo. Here's a picture of the really cute "bear cat", the first born in captivity in Sydney.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ice Cream and Cicadas

Here's what I was expecting to see by now Re: the Cicadas:

Piling up around a suburban tree.

Crawling all over a plant.

What I have actually seen, downtown at least, is bupkis, squat, nada. "Well, we're waiting." --Judge Smails, Caddyshack.

Read today that the number one cause of accidental deaths for children ages 1-4 is the same cause as the number two cause of accidental deaths for children ages 1-14. Any idea what it is? Sure it's not a cheery topic, but hey, life isn't always a bowl of cherries. Check the bottom of yesterday's post for the answer.

A sure sign of summer? Joe going for ice cream. I don't eat a lot of ice cream...just the opposite in fact, but it's hard for me to resist a nice walk to an ice cream shoppe. Now I don't go hogwild or anything, but a single scoop in a sugar cone is just the answer many a day in Chicago in the summer. Today, after lunch, Ricardo and I went to a little spot called Margie's at Armitage and Western. The place is old and the women working there are even older. However, the ice cream hit the spot and they have a special that I'm going to have to get another time. It's a sundae with several scoops of ice cream, a banana, whip cream and I think chocolate sauce for something like $4. That's a pretty good deal since these scoops were pretty large.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Traveling to see Cicadas.

I promised that I would post a picture of the first grubs I see and here they are:

Unfortunately they were not in Chicago, but in Lombard where I spent part of Memorial Day Sunday.

Here's a cool picture of a Cicada hatching! I've never actually seen this in person until yesterday. Again, it was in Lombard.

It was really a tale of two parties. The first was hosted by a softball teammate, 25ish, living with his parents currently. There was a keg, Sloppy Joes and beef sandwiches. For entertainment, there was a "bags" tournament. I find it funny that Wikipedia calls the game "cornhole" as I've only heard people refer to it while reporting on it in the media. No guy I know would ever say they were going to play cornhole! Here's some pics from the first party:

People staying out of the sun. It wasn't even all that warm! Wussies.

View from inside the garage. That table in the left center of the picture is the "spread".

The cornhole tournament in the front yard.

The second party I went to was an hour south of the first in the rural town of Mokena. Since the area was mostly farmland 17 years ago, there were no cicadas in the development of my friends Terry and Sandie. In stark contrast to the first party, here's the spread at Terry's:

Let's see if I can list the food: four different salads (pasta, spinach, potato and broccoli), hamburgers, sausage, tacos, sloppy Joes, orange chicken (Chinese) and that didn't even include dessert!

It was a great day!

The answer to tomorrow's quiz: Drowning!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Water, water, water....oh, and when you get home, some more water.

Had a tournament today out in Arlington Heights. It was a nine team tournament where we were again playing with some teams a level above us. This time though, we also were playing with six of our regular players out for the holiday and only one extra player, which we were going to lose to a bachelor party at some point in the afternoon. Not bloody ideal. On top of all of that, it rained last night as well as this morning. I really didn't even think we were going to be able to play, but they did a bunch of work on the fields and started the tournament with just an hour delay.

Playing on a wet field is a mixed bag for us. While the wet field slows down the ball for our infield (aging and playing out of position infield today), it also slows down our ground ball hits which the majority of our team tends to hit (key in our offense at our level of play).

Since we were short-handed, I moved from third over to shortstop. Our other third baseman played second. One of our first basemen played third. Our first string shortstop played outfield. And to top it all off, our mostly blind coach (really, he is) was our designated pinch runner. It was crazy!!

However, despite all that adversity, we played a team at our level and beat them handily in the first game. Then we played a team that sometimes plays a level higher than us, depending on the organization rules. About a month ago, they slaughter ruled us.....which is not good (they stop the game early if your team is losing by a certain amount of runs after 5 innings). Well, it was a tough game, but we ended up winning 9-7. Even without our full team and a 41-year old shortstop!!

Then came a three hour wait for our next game against a long-time foe: Precision (that's their team name). We went to Chilis for lunch and the rains continued the entire time we were at the restaurant. Confident that we would not be playing anymore games today, several team members decided to imbibe a little bit. Unfortunately, despite the poor field commissions, we did play. Towards the end of the game, there was standing water on the infield. Precision ended up slaughter ruling us by scoring eight runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 10 run lead which they held through the fifth and won 17-7. Our game ended up being the last of the tournament and we tied for third I believe.

After changing clothes, I headed home and brought all my wet gear into the house to dry out. While preparing dinner, I noted the smell of my nemeses: the smell of something musty. As I checked under the sink, I discovered a pipe and threading directly below the sink had been knocked loose. Ugh. Most of the water continued down the drain, but some was spilling out the side. I tried to reattach the pipe and threading (as I do have some plumbing experience), but failed. I'm not sure how it even stayed in place this long!! So instead of going out to grab a drink at the local pub, I had to dry out the area under the sink and all of the cleaning supplies that were now, ironically, soiled. Hopefully, with the help of the internet, I'll be able to figure out how to fix the pipe.

Here's some holiday fun that I stole from another blogger. #44 and 43 are my favorites! Though I really like 24 and #11 is a classic. 8 is from a great movie too!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Somebody Got Hit

Barely getting the blog in on Friday and now most people won't read it because of the big holiday weekend. No sweat though. I had dinner with a female friend (she truly is as we talked about her out-of-town-boyfriend issues for most of dinner......I'm not a big fan of being that guy by the way) and then dropped her off and went to see one of my favorite bands play, Fly Williams.

Now Fly Williams (FW) hasn't played in almost a year, so it was a surprise to many of us loyal followers to find out that they were even still together. Once again though, they put on a good show.....they even honored my request for the last song Somebody Got Hit which has some really good lyrics. They reference U2's Pride in the Name of Love and have a refrain of "somebody got hit, somebody must be doing something right." It's an awesome song and I'm not a big fan of live music normally. It might be out there in cyberspace, but they lost their URL so I don't know for sure where it is. (By the way, URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. Thank you Wikipedia.)

So why would I go see this relatively obscure band if I'm not a fan of live music. Two connections keep me going back. First, an ex-ex-girlfriend was really good friends with the lead singer so that's how I was introduced to them. I've seen them so many times now that they know me fairly well. In case you didn't know, I'm always there at the end of the set of live music to offer my thoughts (positive and negative). If you want my opinion, it's there for the taking. If you don't, avoid me at all costs.

I found out tonight that my ex-ex-girlfriend moved to Houston after NOT marrying a less attractive version of me (he was overweight, smoked, didn't have the personality, but shared similar facial features). Good for her. I thought that was a bad move on her part anyway.

The other connection with FW is that they are the band I went to see after speaking to the Finance Club from Central Michigan several years ago. One of the people in the club was the daughter of my long-time babysitter and current friend of the family, which is why I agreed to talk to them. After my speech and a tour of the Exchange, we hooked up to go see FW at The Elbow Room. Now that young lady and her live-in boyfriend live less than a mile away and we always go see FW together. Oddly enough, a friend of theirs now plays saxophone for FW. They met him independently of the band and found out later that he played for them. Too funny! It's a small world.....but I'd hate to paint it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Better cut out stress now!!

Well, the Cicadas have appeared in the burbs, but still no sign of them downtown. Here's a cool slide show that a local TV station compiled when they asked people to send in pictures. They're pretty cool!

Heard an ad on the radio the other day with a mention of the new "fourth meal", which is apparently that late night "meal" you "need" to have between dinner and breakfast. Who is pushing this new found meal time? Yep, Taco Bell. That's what we need to help slim down the most obese society since the dawn of time: another meal of high fat fast food. Good job FCC.

Here's a scary story. A female Hammerhead shark in Nebraska gave birth without interaction from a male Hammerhead shark. They don't even have male Hammerheads in the zoo. Now why would Joe find this story scary? Well, while this is the first absolutely proven example of female reproduction without mating (using DNA analysis), it has been known to occur in species whose habitats, and thus the species themselves, are being stressed. So? Well, unless you believe evolution is a farce, we descended from animals. If female animals can reproduce without mating, who is to say human women can't too?!?! I don't like that prospect AT ALL!! If we're not needed for reproductive purposes, I'm fully convinced that most women would become lesbians and just avoid interaction with us altogether. Hell, some days I can barely stand myself!! So guys, we better do what we can to reduce stress on women, or we're screwed....or won't be as the case may be.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The End of Open Toed Sandals for a Month?

Day grubs yet, though apparently some have emerged in the burbs. Well, I wondered how the scientists could accurately predict the arrival of the Cicada grubs; it just didn't seem plausible. After 17 years, there has to be just a ton of variables. Apparently the soil temperature is an issue and maybe some of the cold days this month has caused a slight delay. Still, it's pretty freaking amazing if they even get it within a week. And when these bugs show up, I'm not going to be able to wear sandals with an open toe am I? Maybe I'll be able to in the grub stage, but once they start flying around and stuff, then I'm going to have to ditch the sandals. Ugh.

Not sure if you watched the most recent episode of Lost or not. It was awesome!! Best episode since the beginning. Things are actually happening and plot lines are evolving, which seems fairly basic for a two or three year old show, but it actually is progress!!! I don't want to ruin it in case you have it Tivoed, but watch it ASAP!

How cool is the internet? I mean it! It's freakin' awesome isn't it? We didn't have this shit when I was growing up. Ever since I downloaded Microsoft's Internet Explorer v. 7 (don't do this if you haven't already), I've been getting some weird error messages. Here's one of them: "GetProcessImageFileNameW is being called by Psapi.dll and can't be found". So today, I jump on Google and type this message in and find a website where a guy has the answer as to how to fix it. Sweet! Quick and neat sharing of information. From error messages to Barn Swallows, I love the internet!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cold Cranking Amps and a few God Bless You's.

Writing intoxicated again.....not sure why this happens so often. Anyway, today's reason is that I was working most of the day and then left to get a new battery in the car and then on to softball. After softball I came home, called dejesus freak, whom I haven't seen in a month, and we went out to Goose Island to split a burger and have some beer.

The battery was deemed a necessity since it was five years old and had two dead cells (of six). What I wanted to avoid was damaging the alternator, which can be stressed if your battery is bad. Plus I figure, I spend a hundred bucks now and it's the last battery I buy for this car. This particular battery comes with a seven year warranty, which is 3-4 years longer than the average battery even lasts!! Plus I have have 670 cold cranking amps (CCA) which is 100 more than I was expecting and about twice the normal amount. Not too shabby...especially for those Bears tailgates!!!

In our softball game, we were playing a team a level higher than us with not a full squad. We won 15-10 or so and I was 5-5 hitting in the three hole. It was a good night. On what could have been the last play of the game, I dove to my left to grab a line drive and caught and dropped the ball. We didn't get the guy out, which was no big deal, except that when I dove, I landed on my right knee which has a big wound on it from two weeks ago that still hasn't healed because I keep re-injuring it. Well, I opened up the wound yet again. Damn. I'm hopeful that during the tournament Saturday, I won't rip it open again....but there's little chance of that outcome.

After coming home and showering, I needed to go get something to eat, so I gave dejesus freak a call after picking a location. To get there, I took the #8 Halsted bus. Now the #8 can be a crazy bus, but it's never as bad as the #36 Broadway bus which has just about every crazy person in Chicago on it for some reason. There weren't many of us on the #8, so when one guy sneezed (3 times) he got about five "God bless you"'s. One woman came on the bus with two people who were clearly her parents. They sat down in a row in the first set of three seats. At the first stop, they got up and moved directly behind me in two seats with the daughter across the aisle from them. At the next stop, they got up again and the parents moved across the aisle and in front of me while the daughter moved parallel to me alone. Finally I leaned over and said, "If I'm supposed to get up and move each time the bell rings, let me know. I want to play too." She really didn't know what to make of me.

No Cicada grubs today...even though today was "hatching day". Guess they are supposed to be delayed up to a week. I'll keep a watch out though and have pictures of the first grubs I see!!

The picture of the day shows the old doors in my condo and the new doors. A grand improvement I think.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Flood and Fire in the Garden (State)

As I mentioned yesterday, I went golfing despite the not so great weather here in Chicago. The course we played is next to The Botanical Gardens in Glencoe. In addition to all the cool trees and plants around the course, there were tons of Barn Swallows diving around eating flying bugs. Here's a very representative picture of what we saw, had it sat still long enough:

As you can see, it definitely has a tinge of blue or purple about it. As the course was awash in Purple Martin houses, we concluded that these were probably Purple Martins as well. Seems like maybe we were wrong.

Then I come across this picture of a Barn Swallow, which is what I thought they looked like originally. So now I'm all confused over what we saw.

If you recall from earlier writings, when I was in the Turks, Ken from NJ was the victim of a flood. My luggage was temporarily lost, but he had real problems. Then I go to Sarasota for a wedding and half of the state of Florida seemed to be on fire. While there, I heard about fires enveloping NJ as well! How can a state go from floods to ablaze in one month?!?! With the 17 year Cicada's coming, it's like biblical plagues.......all centered on New Jersey. Why am I considering a trip there again?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My lunch with Peter Pace

Today I braved the weather, 50's and sprinkles, and went golfing. Having just taken my clubs to the Caribbean and Tampa, I was not equipped with my cold weather golf gloves or a knit hat that I often taken with me this time of year. Damn. Had to buy a headband from the pro-shop, otherwise I would have been in trouble. On the front nine I shot a 42 and had 20 putts. Twenty!! If you do the math, that's more than two putts a hole....terrible. On the back nine for instance, I only had 14 putts, which is pretty good. All in all, it was a good day, but like most rounds of golf, it could have been better!!

So on Friday, Ricardo and I went to the Hyatt downtown to see Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as take in a couple of seminars sponsored by the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. I didn't really appreciate who we were going to see, but others did as there were protesters outside supporting: homosexuals, veterans against war and immigration rights. An interesting mix. I wonder if they like each other at all?

General Pace is a pretty good speaker. I'm not sure dynamic is the word I would use, but he is effective. Here's an outline of his talk which is geared towards the college graduate:
1) Choose your parents well. If you failed at that, move on to #2.
2) Choose a company with good leadership.
3) Make decisions. Don't wait for orders. A leader can do 10 things well. A good leader with an organization behind him who allows them to make decisions can do 100 tasks of which 90 will go well and he's more than happy to clean up the other 10.
4) Grow where you are planted. Job hopping isn't the way to go.
5) Check you moral compass. You start your life and each day with your name and your integrity and no one can take either away from you. You can easily lose your integrity though.
6) Take care of those in your charge as they will take care of you at some point in the future.

Then he took questions from the audience. Interestingly, he moved out from behind the podium to take each and every question. This accomplished a couple of things in my mind: 1) he appeared more engaging 2) he appeared somewhat more intimidating 3) it gave him time to gather his thoughts before returning to the podium.

Here are some of the questions he answered:

First question: How do you reconcile taking care of those in your charge with the 10,000 homosexuals discharged under the don't ask don't tell policy? Yowza, nice first question! Ricardo and I don't really feel he answered the question at all. Our thoughts were: 1) it's a legacy policy that he couldn't change if he wanted to; 2) none of those homosexuals died in Iraq, so maybe they were being protected; 3) unfortunately, it's the policy of the people since the administration is elected and they made the rules.

Second question: Wouldn't your time be better spent dealing with your troubled recruiting and the war instead of talking to us? He very professionally dealt with this question, instead of just saying "You're right" and walking out, like I probably would have done.

One of the last questions he addressed was how and when will we know that the surge is working? He actually said that by September, we'll know if the military side of the surge is working. Baghdad will be the indicator for the military side. I was a little surprised by the mention of a specific month. He said the governance and economics evaluation of the surge will be analogous to how many people vote here in the states: am I better off today than I was yesterday? He also stated the party line that we won't be able to stop all the violence and that we have to come to grips with an acceptable level of violence. I'm not nuts about it, but it's probably the way we have to go at this point.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What the hell Joe? Where's my post?!?!

Sorry about being incommunicado my good friends. On Friday and Saturday I was gone or busy from 10 a.m. until after midnight. Tomorrow, Sunday, I'll write about my encounter with head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Four Star General Peter Pace. That's what we call a cliff-hanger in the biz.

Once again it's after midnight, so this too will be a short post. First, the Bulls lost on Thursday as you know. It was fun to watch even though I'm not a big NBA guy. The guards for the Bulls were 10 for 31 from the field, which included some garbage time scoring by Ben Gordon at the end of the game when the Pistons weren't playing defense anymore otherwise they were 8-29. Ugly!! Can't win with your guards shooting 27%.

Also though I blame the coach Scott Skiles. In the first half, the 37 year old PJ Brown came up huge scoring 20 points on 7 for 14 shooting as the Bulls led by 5 at the half. PJ missed a shot to start the 3rd quarter, was pulled and didn't shoot again the rest of the night. He played a few more minutes in the second half, but he was basically done. When your guards can't hit the broadside of a barn, shouldn't you let the guy whose on fire shoot? Nuts.

Mysteriously my car engine stopped vibrating! I'm mean it returned to normal really. It vibrates some, like all engines I imagine, but after getting the car jumped, it was really shaking. Today I could hardly notice it! What the hell is going on?

Another post tomorrow. I swear!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bulls/Pistons.....bring it on!!

The Bulls play the Pistons tonight, Thursday, and are down 3-2 in a best of seven series. The Bulls were down 3-0 after blowing a 17 point lead in the third quarter of game three. There have been 81 teams, if my stats are correct, that have been down 3-0 in the NBA. Only 9 teams have even gone to a sixth game. Of those 9, only 3 have gone to a game seven. Not one of the 81 teams down 3-0 have won a seven game series.

I mention these stats because I'm going to be watching the game instead of creating an awe inspiring blog entry for my wonderful readers. Dazzle your friends with the stats above!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Costly Cars

It's been a potentially expensive couple of days for ol'Joe due to my car. Since I was out in the burbs golfing, I took advantage of being in a lower gasoline tax county and fill up the tank. I still had a few gallons left in the tank, which is an 18.5 gallon tank, but thought it wise to fill up anyway. While filling up, 14.5 gallons worth, I cleaned some bird crap off the car with the window washer squeegee. After finishing with the crap, I turned to the pump since it stopped and there it was....the big 5-0! $50 worth of gas!! Holy crap!! You can't tell me that isn't going to take a huge toll on the economy. I'm NOT looking forward to repeating that event in the near future.

Somehow my car lights didn't turn off last night after I parked my car in my spot. A friend of my upstairs neighbors who knows me and my car, called my neighbors so they could call me and tell me my lights were on. Unfortunately, I got the message too late. Damnit. So today I spent WAY too much time waiting for AAA battery service to come jump my car. Then when they got there, they wanted to sell me a new battery. Now maybe I do need a new battery; in fact I probably do. But get this, they tell me I probably need a new one and I say "It's only five years old." They reply "ONLY five years old! You definitely need a new battery." The battery they want to sell me (and it was a very soft sell job really) comes with a three year full replacement warranty. Well if they have a warranty for three years, a five year old battery CAN'T be that old. I didn't argue with them, but I was pretty sure my battery would be fine for at least a little while. Their new battery was $125 and I just don't know if that's reasonable or not.

While I was watching them work on cleaning the battery, I noticed that most of the engine was actually shaking pretty seriously while the car was idling. That can't be good can it? Sure, parts move and all, but this was really shaking. I hadn't noticed it much before, but when I got in the car I could tell it was really vibrating even inside the car. What's THAT going to cost to fix, if I even need to fix it. Hmmmm, well, better address it now rather than later.

And I don't want to hear about how over in Europe you don't have these problems because everyone rides a bike!

I've been wanting to remember to mention It's a truly fascinating site that I like to visit periodically. People send in postcards with secrets on them and this guy posts them anonymously. It's pretty cool. The secrets people have are pretty amazing. Almost every time I check out the site, I start to well up....and I'm not afraid to admit that!

Finally, I have a faithful reader* in and around Slidell, Louisiana. I have no idea who you are!! My childhood buddy, Pete, is on the opposite end of the state, otherwise I would say it's him. Just so it doesn't drive me crazy, please toss me a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks!

*Google Analytics will report the location of viewers of your web pages if you like. They don't tell you who is viewing, but do provide the geographic location.

My apologies!

Sorry for missing a day folks....busy, busy, busy! Wanted to throw up some more pics of the wedding in Sarasota. Also had a couple of topics to write about. First the pics:

Look at the smoke from the fires raging in Florida! You hear about California, but there were only 5 counties in Florida that DIDN'T have a forest fire while we were there.

I had to take a picture of this sign. Someone did get stung while we were there, but I didn't know them.

The hotel pool WITHOUT the smoke.

The groom on his approach....tearing up. The happy couple after the nuptials.

Okay, two more things that I wanted to write about. I have more, but it's late and I'm drunk again!! Whoo-hoo!!!

Today I went golfing with a potential referral source and pretty good guy. We played at one of my favorite courses, Cantigny (the 'g' is silent). You're probably familiar with the term 'Shark' as it relates to gambling and such (a pool shark for instance). Well, I was the perfect 'Anti-Shark' today. Normally, I don't bet on myself playing golf...or any other sport really. But sometimes it's called for under the auspices of being social. Today was one of those days. Unfortunately, I played lights out on the front nine and shot a 40 and easily could have shot a 37, one over par. In response, my team was up 30+ points or about $10, actually a huge number over nine holes. So on the back nine, I have to give strokes to the other team and I proceed to shoot a 48! Brutal. Fortunately, I still ended up $5 which bought a beer!

While in the car during rush hour, I heard a commercial for Orkin. In the commercial, they say don't try to drown roaches because they can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. Are people really out there trying to drown individual roaches? Who are these people and how did they get so much damn time on their hands to try and drown roaches?

Two concepts that I'm going to let someone out there pursue and hopefully make a reality: Tivo for the radio and commercials that anticipate a DVR and communicates their message in such a fashion (like large block letters) that gets through to someone trying to skip commercials. The same message will be read by regular viewers, so it's a cool idea. The radio Tivo really needs to happen. How many times have you been listening on the radio and heard someone say something and then say, "What was that? Did they say what I thought they said?" How hard can this invention really be? Let's move people! Move!!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Wedding pics!

What a really fantastic wedding event. Except for the minor glitch of the groom's microphone going in and out during the vows, it went off without a hitch. The site of the ceremony, cocktails and reception were all the interior courtyard of the Ringling Art Museum.

Outside the museum and the courtyard.

The courtyard is broken up into three areas via the subtle use of to sets of five or six steps which transition between the areas. When we walked in, the first area is where the ceremony was held. The middle area is where the cocktails were served and the third area is where the dinner tables were set up. It worked really, really well.

The band....they were awesome!

Greeters Emily and Beth (two of the three single women at the event).

Nick and Terry.

My "dates": Jessica and Pouneh (Poo-nay), both happily married with many kids. Why are all the good ones taken?!

Pouneh just had a baby three weeks ago! Shame on all you women who blame childbirth for "letting yourself go".

The happy bride, Kendra, and the newlyweds.

The only downfall of the wedding....a freakin' mime!! They had a juggler too.

I have some hotel pics that I'll follow up with tomorrow.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Moving down the "B" list.

Sorry I couldn't post yesterday folks. After getting up relatively early for me for being out of town, I went golfing and didn't get back until it was time to go to the cocktail reception for the wedding.

The golfing day was long (10-7), because I took the groom and a buddy of his golfing to a course where they could rent clubs and pay for only 9 holes, which is all the time the groom had to commit to golf. After we finished, they drove me over to the course I played the day before and I played 18 more on my own. Good times. Unfortunately, there's all sorts of wild fires going on down here and the smoke basically blotted out the sun! Seriously, you could look directly at the sun with absolutely no problems. Except for it being a little tough to breathe, it was perfect for golf as much of the sunlight was blocked so it didn't get too hot. After we finished the first nine holes and went to our white rental car, we noticed a fine layer of ash on the car! Nice to think that was going in our lungs for the last two hours. I'm going to get Black Lung years from now and they are going to trace it to this weekend in Sarasota.

Sarasota has some interesting history about it. Every where you go you see things named Ringling this and Ringling that. Turns out all of this stuff is named after the Ringling of Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. John and Charles both seemed to be very active in the development of Sarasota.

Today I had breakfast with the bride, groom, two bridesmaids and another wedding attendee. It was a nice, very casual two hour breakfast outside by the pool and was very impromptu. When I look back on the weekend, it will probably be two of the best hours I spent. During breakfast, the groom told me someone (a relative of his I think) pointed at me the night before and told him that I looked familiar. "Is he on television?" Damnit. This story ends with a twist though. The person didn't mention JK Simmons, but instead went with Chris Elliott. Ugh. My goatee isn't working! Now I'm looking like less attractive movie stars!! When we talked about it at breakfast, the consensus was that I look more like JK though, who is apparently on the show The Closer.

The wedding is tonight at 6:30 and is at the Ringling Art Museum (yes, both the ceremony and reception). The cocktail reception was at the botanical gardens, named after someone who is not a Ringling surprisingly, and was really a nice place to hold the event. The food was good and I met all sorts of nice people. As in the Turks, I gravitated towards nice women, who were again married. Didn't really matter though because they were fun to talk to. One had just had a baby three weeks ago and you could barely tell!! Later in the evening, back at the hotel bar, she asked me if I would consider dating someone in Arlington VA because she has a friend there that she wants to set me up with! Ha! I told her thank you, but no.

Traveling tomorrow, so I probably can't make an entry. Happy Mother's Day to all my mom readers and especially to my mom!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Worst day golfing, better than best day working?

After sleeping in a little, though truthfully not as long as I would have thought, I hauled myself downstairs to make a golfing reservation. The course, with cart, is only $50, but it's a $30 cab ride. Well, it turned out to be a $35 cab ride and it was worth it. The course was nice and I was matched with a real nice local. At the end of the round he drove me back to the hotel!! What a guy!

The weather for golf was great and I shot reasonably well considering that I couldn't make a putt on the dreadfully slow greens to safe my life!! Everything in this town is slow apparently! Anyway, I played decently and had a good time. While on the course, as I do frequently to make sure I'm enjoying myself, I said, "C'mon Joe, you're golfing in Florida in May. Enjoy yourself you idiot." That usually works. I actually say it out loud for emphasis and my playing partner made the rather trite comment, "Your worst day golfing is better than your best day working!" I actually disagree whole-heartedly. When I play like shit, I'm miserable....mostly because I know I can play well. And work, at least my work, can be quite rewarding. That said, I'd probably choose golf over work on most days under the assumption that I won't play like crap. You never do know though.

Tonight we're going into "town" to watch the Bulls game and drink. I found out there will be a grand total of 3 single women at the wedding, including the one I've already been on a date with. Maybe I'll drink a LOT tonight.......

Arrived safely in Sarasota

It's now 1 a.m. in Sarasota and I'm in the lobby writing my blog. Is that dedication or what??

This town was absolutely DEAD tonight. Granted, it was a Wednesday night, but at 9:00 there should be more than one or two people out per bar. That's ridiculous. Seems like they all congregated around one location which is where the groom and four of us arrived, only to see the bride and one of her friends sitting at the same establishment. Not ideal, especially since the friend of the bride and I had gone out a couple of times on what turned out to be pointless dates. I'm totally fine with it, but she appeared to be uncomfortable, which then made me feel uncomfortable. Fortunately they left shortly after we arrived.....hopefully for better environs.

Had a smooth trip down here which included being on the same flight as a muckety-muck from Morningstar, my previous employer. Actually, the wife of this M-M worked for me directly for a few years and I attended their wedding. It was good to catch up, even if for just a few minutes. Once on the 1/4 full plane, I put in my ear phones and turned on SCTV on my DVD player. Funny stuff.

We're actually on Lido Caye, an island outside Sarasota. From what I can tell thus far, they feel that's justification for incredibly high priced.....everything! C'mon people, it's not like you need a passport to get to the island! There's a Whole Foods like 10 minutes away on the mainland. Puhlease. Don't tell my you need to charge higher prices because you're on an island. That's just crap.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The End of the Universe

Tuesday was another crazy day for me. My contractor was here working on the doors and trim again. Today's crisis: forgot to buy trim for BOTH the inside and outside of the door frames and of the four rosettes we bought, no two of them match. Nicely done guys. Oh well, they were only $1.50 a piece, so we'll get it right tomorrow.

Naperville Greg came through with delivery of my new knobs and matching hinges for the doors. He finalized the order and sent them UPS on Monday and I had them by 12:30 Tuesday. Nice!! Thanks Naperville Greg!!!

The other item I was waiting for today was the luggage I ordered from No luck on it's delivery though, so my trip to Tampa is going to have to be with my older stuff. It's not a huge deal, but I don't even know when my next trip anywhere is, so this trip was the primary reason for me buying the luggage now.

I hopped on the bus going to Michigan Avenue to buy a plain white button down shirt. My target was Nordstrom's and they came through with flying colors, after initially thinking that I was going to have to spend $100 or more! Ugh. Found the brand I liked for half that cost though, so I'm good to go. While there I noticed that a new Starbucks was opening up this summer right next to the Tribune Towers, where el supremo de NM and I have a client. That's good right? The crazy thing is that RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET is another Starbucks (the one we visit before going to the client)!!! Lewis Black has a routine where this is a sign of the end of the universe! Too funny.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Busy, busy Monday.

What a busy day! So much going on right now it's crazy. Today the hardware store, a smaller Home Depot type company named Menards, delivered six new doors and 48' of baseboard trim. I have a contractor who is going to stain and install of it. Unfortunately, "first thing Monday morning" does not mean the same thing to me as it does Menards. To them, it's 10:30 and only AFTER I call them to ask what's going on. It all finally showed up though and the work was able to begin.

A little back drop, two years ago I had my kitchen renovated, but they didn't do the trim around one new door and along the baseboard. Since the kitchen was renovated, it made the pantry door look bad, so I have to change it. Once I change THAT door though, then I have to change the baseboard and the doors in the same hallway....and so on....and so on as the project will eventually grow to consume my entire life. Sigh. Back to today's activities.....

Unfortunately, the stain I selected, Chestnut Red #232, was not what the contractor bought at the store. He bought Chestnut Red....without the number. Fortunately, he compared the two stains on a piece of wood and determined they didn't match. Great. Off I go to find a can of the matching stain......first one hardware store and then luck. We decide to call the maker, Minwax, directly and ask what the deal is. Apparently they just dropped the number for no apparent reason and the stains ARE the same color, but some samples can vary slightly. Waisted a few hours chasing THAT ghost.

Some emergencies happened at work so they had to be dealt with while also dealing with the stain issue and some other crap. However, at the end of the day awaited a trip to the burbs for the Chicago Rush football game with some friends of mine from a far southern suburb as well as my softball team. We had an outstanding evening and watched the Rush improve to 8-1. Good times.

It's weird. Wednesday I travel to Tampa for a wedding and I'm not even panicked about it at all. I haven't gone through the "laying out of the clothes" nor have I been concerned that I, in fact, do not yet have the set of luggage I ordered ten days ago from If it doesn't come tomorrow, I'm either using duffel bags or garbage bags. So why am I not really concerned? I think it has to do with having just gone on a real vacation and had everything go well. This one seems like a piece of cake. Hell, I'm even taking my computer!!

Okay, it's late and time to get some sleep.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Mixed Bag

Hope everyone had a nice weekend!! On Saturday, as I mentioned on Friday, I had a softball tournament out in a suburb of Chicago called Itasca. We finished second out of a pool of 13 teams. It was a different kind of tournament that mixed two different softball divisions; our level and the level above us. Normally divisions aren't mixed like this, but it happens sometimes. When it does, you play by the lower divisions rules. The only team we lost to, and we lost to them twice, was a team from the higher division. However, we did beat two teams from the higher division, so it's not like we were completely out-manned.

The second place finish granted us births into nationals and the world series! I don't think we've ever qualified for those events prior to July/August!! We're well ahead of schedule this year!

So that was the good news. On the other side of the coin, playing from 10 am until 10 pm, meant that I had to cancel a date, the second with this particular gal. Crap. Not sure she took it well, but I told her upfront what the deal was with the tournament and we spoke a few times during the day as I updated her. Oh well, I did what I could!

Today I visited Naperville Greg and his wife Cleveland Kim. They were great hosts....okay, truthfully it was mostly Kim doing the hosting. We watched the Cubs game and talked investments while downing fine beer, cheese and crackers and a delicious turkey sandwich. A fun time was had by all!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Random thoughts.

After work today, I went out to buy a beard trimmer. Yep, a beard trimmer. Who knows if it'll be a worthwhile purchase in the long run, but I need it now, so we'll see.

Speaking of which, I was explaining to el supremo de NM the other day that part of the reason for me growing my goatee was, in part, being told that I looked like JK Simmons twice while down in the Turks. Does anyone tell HIM that HE looks like ME? Anyway, I digress. So we had several meetings during the day including one new potential resource. What does this guy say half-way through the meeting? "You look really familiar. Anyone ever tell you that you look like an actor?" Shit.

On my most recent trip, I bought a pair of Phillips Noise Reducing Ear Phones to hook up to my portable DVD player. These things were awesome! I know Bose sells a pair and they are pretty expensive, but I don't think you need to spend that much for a quality products. These things worked so well, when the pilot came on to talk about whatever he was chattering about, I didn't even hear him! With my regular headphones, I had to crank the volume and still couldn't hear the DVD very well. With these, I had the volume set about a third of the way. Sweet.

Over the past few months, I've seen an ad on television for I'm not entirely sure how this scam works, but it sounds like a complete ripoff. You can even redeem gold teeth! That just ain't right.

Softball tournament on Saturday. It's out in Itasca, a suburb about 45 minutes away (which one isn't?). Hopefully we do well, but there's a lot of stuff going on tomorrow: Kentucky Derby, Bulls game, Cubs, Sox, De La Hoya/Mayweather

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Just not focused

With my business partner from Albuquerque in town (el supremo de NM), I haven't been focused on blog nothing all that exciting happens when you're focused on work or actually working which I guess is why most people don't write blogs!!

The goatee is coming in well though and I've received many positive comments about it. In fact, I think the only person to poo-poo it is my mom! Sorry Ma, I kind of like it. Now I need to find a beard trimmer.

Still no recommendations for credit cards with cool award programs. Please let me know if you have an interesting one that I should investigate. The evil empire known as Bank of America bought out MBNA, my credit card supplier, and are discontinuing my reward program at my local computer store. Any assistance is appreciated!!

The other day we lost yet another very recognizable actor, Tom Poston. I had no idea he was 85! I'll certainly remember him from The Bob Newhart Show but also from his role in Mork and Mindy. Look at his career credits!! He'll be missed.

This picture of the day is provided by one of my blog's "lurkers". I thought it was pretty cool.

The underside of a skate shimmers off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. Related to rays, skates look similar but don’t have the ray’s barbed tail and are harmless to humans.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The coming swarm

Heard today on the radio that this year is year 17 for the 17 year cicadas. Apparently, back in 1990, these little buggers were all over the place: swarming outdoor weddings, piling up on sidewalks, generally wreaking havoc. Even Ravinia has altered some performances this summer in anticipation.

People on the radio were relating stories about shoveling these cicadas from their driveways and crazy stuff like that. Ugh! And you thought my rat pictures were bad!

Three interesting tidbits about these cicadas: they are edible, there may be a justifiable reason for the 17 year cycle and only the males make the buzzing noise you hear. The reason for the 17 year life cycle hypothesized by some scientists pretty much follows Darwinian Theory. They had the best chance to survive if their life cycle didn't correlate to their predator's life cycles. For instance, there are 13 year and 17 year cicadas. Both are prime numbers. Cicadas with a 15 year life cycle would be exposed to predators who have three year and five year life cycles. Pretty intriguing when you think about it. Why no 11 year and/or 7 year cicadas though?

Thursday is a busy work day, so I may not have an entry at the end of the day. I'll try though!!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

T-Rex strikes again!!

Some of you know that the T-Rex played a big part in my starting a blog. Last Spring, prior to officially blogging, I would send out emails to people updating them on the progress of my fight against the rats under our front stoop under the subject line of "Rat Tales". Then, after writing far too many other comments on Alexis' blog, I opted to start my own blog last Fall.

So,without further adieu, last night's victim!!

Just like the good ol'days!! This guy was about 5-6" long or so, good sized in the rat world.

As you can see, T-Rex efficiently snaps the rat's neck as it reaches for the food in the bait tray. It's pretty quick, but whether it's painless or not, I have no idea. I reset the trap with more bait hoping to get a two-fer, but no luck. I've closed the one rat hole with newspaper to try and get the activity out towards another hole I discovered and set up T-Rex there. We'll see if there's any luck tonight. If it rains, that would be good for hunting! The rain washes away my scent and the scent of the dead rat, if any.