Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Another busy day!

After starting off the day waiting for Manual Labor Mike so I could help install some closet doors (the 9 footers!), which we didn't do for one reason or another, I headed for the office. Ricardo and I have been ships passing in the night for most of the last three weeks, so it was good to catch up. You'll be relieved to know (as I was) that many GOOD things have transpired for Ricardo: his old computer hard drive has had almost all files recovered, his new drive is working like a champ and his house sale went through!! Yay for Ricardo!! Unfortunately his cell phone is still on the fritz and his building's developer is still on the lam, but the latter is a longer term problem. Still, some victories.

Work was busy in anticipation of me not being in the office and el supremo de NM coming out next week. Since I won't have much internet access, it means I need to have the schedule at least mostly solidified before I leave. Plus I had a bunch of documents to mail out including August invoices. It's all good though and I'm just awaiting one client's response.

Studied some more for the PA boating licensing exam (chapters 4,5 and 6). Tomorrow is the test exam and then the 75 question test. I need to do that before I hit the airport.....nothing like waiting until the last minute. If I pass (80%), I'll be able to print out a temporary permit. Whoo-hoo!! In my studies I found out that 1/3rd of boating fatalities involve alcohol. Unless there's a big bottle of beer going around to lakes and rivers whapping holes in boats, it's not a good statistic for me. Few people can say I'm irresponsible though, so I'm sure I'll be ok. If not, I'll definitely have my Type I Personal Flotation Device wrapped around me at all times!!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Boating and Alaska

Since I'm leaving for Joisey on Wednesday, I only have a few days of work this week so today was busy, busy, busy. Many emails, calls, copies and print outs were made. Good progress today.

Which makes it even more surprising that I was able to make progress on my Pennsylvania boating license exam. Why am I studying for this exam? Well, the Joisey trip is partially in Joisey and the rest of the trip is in Pennsylvania, except for a side trip to NYC and Yankee Stadium for the White Sox/Yankees game on Thursday. Where we are staying in PA is on a lake and if you want to drive a PWC (personal watercraft.....yeah, I know, the abbreviation doesn't work but I didn't create it) you have to pass this test and have proof of it. Fine. I haven't had the best luck with the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) who tend to be a little overly aggressive with the tiny, tiny little bit of authority they possess, so I'm going to try and avoid them entirely.

By the way, you'll be interested to know, if you're a Sopranos fan, that I'm going to go to Bada Bing! with Joisey Ken. Should be a hoot.....or at least sentimental.

I watched a new show called Jeff Corwin's Into Alaska. The subject matter is infinitely appealing to me since I've been to Alaska, but Jeff Corwin is annoying to a similar degree. For instance, he started off with this scene of him watching a bear fishing in a river not 100 yards away from him. So he says, "In this harsh environment (don't mind the wooden banister in the shot where Jeff is standing which rings the patio set up along the river), a kill like this could make the difference between life and death for this Alaskan Brown Bear (it was larger than a typical grizzly and it was one lousy salmon)". C'mon Jeff, stop playing to the camera. Jeesh, talk about over acting. Ugh. Great footage though. Still, not sure I can hold out for the entire series with with his lame-ass hosting.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

First Cicada of the Year.

Yesterday was another softball tournament, this one a combination of teams at our level and one higher. In order to "equalize" the competition, the higher level team has to use the lower level team's home run rule. Our level in this organization is limited to 2 home runs per game and a level higher than us is limited to 4 per game. If you hit a home run after you reach your limit, it immediately ends your offensive inning regardless of how many outs there are at the time. It's really not much of an equalizer, though in one of our losses the other team had already hit their two home runs and on the first pitch of their half inning, they hit another home run which ended the inning for them. We won our first game and then lost against two higher level teams.

Just shot this today! This is the only cicada I've seen in Chicago proper this year and it's on the stairs on my back porch. The grub shell is on the right and the newly hatched cicada is on the left.

On my way to Michigan I heard a radio spot that I found somewhat disturbing. It went something like this:
"Looking for that once in a lifetime anniversary gift? Want to show her how much you love her? Give her the gift of a vasectomy! Is your family complete? Get an incision free vasectomy at the Vasectomy Clinics of Chicago "
What?! Are they serious? Is this really considered a "gift" to a woman? Good Lord.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pictures as promised!

Sorry about the sporadic entries this week. The internet connection at the cottage is dial up and sometimes is very slow and problematic. I'm home now though after a 6 hour drive today, so here are the golfing pictures that I promised!!

Upon arriving at Olympia Fields on Monday, this sight welcomed me. There were two outings at the same time. My outing's table is the one without the three pretty women at it. Damnit.

Here's the majestic main building at Olympia Fields Country Club.

The famous clock on the practice green. When televised tournaments are held here, they always show this clock.

My teammates!

Right off the first tee we saw this feller looking down at us. Foreshadowing of things to come? Let's hope!

(you may need to copy the picture and zero in to see him well. He's on the end of the limb in the middle of the picture.)

A nice looking par 4 with our fore-caddy in the light rough on the left. He had a busy day chasing our errant shots all over the course!!
Yes, we tipped him well.

The winners!!!! The tie breaker was decided by who scored better on the back nine. We started on 12 and if you recall, I played well for the first 7-8 holes, which helped secure the victory!!

If you know anything about Chicago politics, the name on the locker that I was assigned for the day will ring a bell.

On to Tree Tops, one of my favorite courses anywhere. This is how the first hole starts. It's a dogleg left.

This is the end of the first hole. It's what you see when you get around the bend in the last picture. Pretty, but daunting.

This is my favorite par 3 in golf. It's 120' vertical drop. You hit your shot out and it drops straight down. If it's rained in the last week, you ball ends up half buried in the green. What a view though.

This might not look like much, but the purple heather in the background was really neat in contrast to the greens in the foreground and the dark green trees.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Golfing day-one and a disturbing sighting.

Another good day in the great white north…..coo-loo-coo-coo, coo-loo-coo-coo. Hopefully someone will get that reference.

Hit the golf course at a reasonable hour this morning, my favorite golf course to play, Tree Tops in Gaylord, MI (no jokes please). It’s $120 to play, which is at the top range of what I’ll pay to play outside of charity outings, but it’s worth it. Unfortunately today I had putting issues. On the front nine I shot 41 and had 20 putts!! Barely seems possible doesn’t it? Trust me, it is. On the back I shot 44 and had 19 putts, hardly any better. Not really sure what to do tomorrow when I play the same course again. The course was very pretty and I took some pictures, so check back this weekend when I’m back home and can download and post them.

The computer connection I’m working with is very primitive (think monks and scrolls), so even my blog gets written in Word first and then copy and pasted during moments of “clarity”.

As I drove up a hill towards the club house to return my cart, who should zoom in front my path very black-cat-like? None other than one of the few people on the planet that I have met and really just don’t like.
Can you guess who it is?
My mother did.
Give it a minute……………..
Got it? Yep, none other than the incompetent one himself, the coo-COO in person, Tao Huang. Unbelievable. I was “this” close to ramming him with my cart, but recognized him too late and he was off to the first tee (he was just starting so that he could enjoy the twilight rate I’m sure, like he doesn’t have enough money to play in the morning the ass-face). Anyway, it was almost comical and almost homicidal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's just a cup of coffee for cripes sake.

After a very nice night’s sleep in a Super 8 (yes, that’s right, a Super 8), I was off for the remainder of my drive to my parent’s cottage. Needing the sleep, I didn’t get on the road until about 11, so I missed the hustle and bustle of Hudsonville’s rush hour. However, my traffic issues were not negated completely.

I’m not sure if you’ve driven in Michigan before, but many cities here abhor left turns and simply make them illegal. It’s a total pain-in-the-ass. MOST of the time, they have a little place past the intersection where you can make a u-turn. Why? No fu@#%#$ idea. It’s fairly retarded. All you do is move the turn light down 50 yards and make everyone wait there. Whatever.

The problem in Grandville, where I needed to go for a Starbucks which is about 5 miles away, is that there are no u-turn areas. So they just have no left turns and then say to hell with you.

So I hit the highway and head towards Grandville getting off at exit 67 and headed east. On my left, of course, I see the Starbucks. As I neared the intersection, I realized there was no left turn. Fine, I’ll just go to the next light and turn there. Same gig, no left turn. Well what the hell? How can I get there? So I cut across traffic to my right so I can make a right hand turn. Now I need to be going the other way to get across the street so I go to make a u-turn in an un-trafficked intersection and I see a cop in my rear view mirror. So I interrupt my u-turn (essentially turning left, but this was one of the rare places it was allowable) and make it into a side street to turn around. Cop passes by. Whew. Go back out and turn right. Now I just need to cross the intersection and make a left. Guess what? No left turn there. Damnit!!!

After going straight through the intersection, I start to make another u-turn and, you guessed, another cop. What the hell? Leave me alone! I just want a damn cup of coffee!! So another side street and a two right turns later and I’m finally at the Starbucks. Guess what? It’s not even built yet, but they have the sign up. Still no fu@#%$# coffee!!

So I need to head east to go back down the strip, but that, of course, involves another left turn which I can’t make there. I hear what you’re saying and trust me, at this point I really am considering just getting back on the highway. But I stick it out and make it down to a Meijer’s which has a Starbucks inside. Their pastry selection sucked, but at this point I just wanted my coffee and to get the hell out of Dodge.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and even included a little White Sox vs. Tigers baseball. After arriving, my folks and I caught up on the nice little patio. It’s been a good day (despite the Fiasco in Grandville as it shall be known) and a very slow dial up connection.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Whoa-a, I'm half way there...whoa-a, living on a prayer.

Got up this morning (even though I screwed up setting my alarm) feeling relatively ok. Left later than I wanted too, but I got to the golf course in plenty of time, especially considering that they closed their practice range TWO DAYS AGO!!! Nice. Playing one of the tougher courses in the Chicago area and no warmups.

Well we made do and I actually played well for the first 8-9 holes. Then I just got tired and my game off the tee fell apart. Unfortunately we weren't playing a scramble (where everyone hits, you take the best shot, everyone goes there and hits from there, repeat). Instead, everyone played their own ball and the two lowest net scores (we used handicaps) would be your group's total for that hole.

My buddy, Young Tim, who is really good, shot a 78 and just smoked putts from all over the green. He basically carried the team with the rest of us contributing when we could. I was the #2 guy for the first part, like I said, and the other guys split the rest. We ended up tied for first and won in a tie breaker!! Yay for us!! No trophy, but a bottle of wine. I also won the closest to the pin contest, beating one of my teammates by about a foot, to capture a free foursome at another golf course. Sweet!

I have pictures, but might have to wait until I return home to post them, depending on the setup my folks have at their cottage. Hell, I may be lucky to have internet access at all!!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Still gots the fever...but I feel a little better

After more than 10 hours of sleep, during which time I'm not sure I even moved, I wakened to find that I still had a fever of 100.3. Crap. Before I went to bed, my fever had gone down from 101 to 99.9. That was a huge difference in how I felt believe it or not. Seems like a minor fluctuation, but I felt a ton better. Today I actually feel pretty good, but can tell I have a fever.

The softball team went 2-2 yesterday. They won 10-0, lost 9-6, won 15-0 and lost 12-11 against a team we've beaten already this year, but we gave them 6 runs on the progressive penalty home-run rule (we hit three). If you told me would would give up 0,9,0 and 6 runs, I would tell you there was a 95% chance that we went 4-0. Instead, I'm at home resting instead of jeopardizing my vacation time next week by playing softball today....which I would have!

So my focus is on getting healthy today so I can golf in a Make-A-Wish charity outing tomorrow in Olympia Fields Country Club, home of the 2003 U.S. Open. After the event, I'm going to head towards my parents place in northern Michigan. I won't make it all the way, so I'm going to have to get a room probably in Grand Rapids. That will get me out of traffic Tuesday morning and make it a short trip to their place.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I've got the fever.

It hit me about 9:00 on Friday night, started as a small chill and then blossomed into a full on fever. Though it was the middle of July, I had socks on, pajama bottoms, two shirts and a sweatshirt AND I was laying underneath an Afghan blanket. When I went to bed, I kept it all on and even moved the Afghan to my bed. That seemed to help, but within the first hour of sleep, I had to change my clothes because of all the sweat. That would happen again one more time during the night.

I'm not sure what my temperature topped out at originally, but this morning it hit 101 several times. That of course ruled out me playing softball today: a beautiful day and a state tournament. Damnit. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be better and can play the second half of the tournament, if we're still in it.

Can't really think straight, so that's all I have to offer today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rib Fest Part Deux

Oooooohhhhhh, what a day. Got up at 6:00 yesterday over at my buddy Principal Chris' house, showered and headed out to the Quad Cities. The night before, I drove through the rain and lighting to get out to their place so I didn't have to get up at 4 or 5 to make it out there in the morning. The drive to the Quad Cities was uneventful, but we arrived only shortly before our 9:00 tee time and it was raining, something that would actually work in our favor. We hit some balls, putted and as the rain halted, we teed off shortly before ten.

(Insert picture of beautiful golf course here, if I had my camera with me.)

As it turns out, the tournament was only last weekend, not two weeks ago as I thought, so the gallery stands were still up surrounding many of the greens and the course (The TPC at Deere Run) was still very much in great shape and playing like the pros played it. The rough was really, really rough, probably close to four inches deep and wet because of all the rain. Essentially if you hit the ball off the fairway, it would be a wasted stroke just trying to get your ball back into the fairway. Also because of the rain, we had to keep the carts on the paths which meant a lot more walking than normal. That was fine with me, but with the humidity and warm weather, we were soaked with sweat by the end of the day.

(Insert picture of deep rough, stands around the green and the Mississippi River.)

We finished our first round in under four hours, but then were caught up in the local crowd who decided the weather was good enough to play and the second round took us almost five hours.

Another shower and off for grub! First stop: Jim's Ribs. While not in the best part of town, it's not far from the other places we would go for food as well as where Chris grew up. After $40 worth of food and drinks (sodas only as we still had to drive home), it was off to Harris Pizza next.

This place is one of Chris' wife's favorite and last year we couldn't return without a pizza for her either. It's a thin crust pizza and they have grated sausage instead of the chunky sausage that you get around Chicago. The cool thing they do though is that they will half-cook the pizza for you so you can stick it in the fridge and cook it at your leisure. Pretty smart. We didn't actually eat any pizza this time, just picked up a pie for Mrs. Chris.

Our final stop was at Whitey's Ice Cream Shoppe. Chris worked there as a youth and was very funny with his "back when I worked here...." stories. With a name like Whitey's, I wonder if it could make it in Chicago without being picketed on a regular basis. Apparently they tried to open one in Peoria and had to close it. We did partake in a shake and it was indeed good.....better than any other place?.....maybe some, but not unbelievable. Lots of choices though and some interesting ingredients.

As we drove from neighborhood to neighborhood, we saw a house on 12th and 16th street in Moline that I just loved. It was a big white house with a wrap around porch, but the porch not only wrapped around, at the corner it bowed out and was rounded like a half circle. It needed a little work and the hood isn't all that great, but I would probably buy it in a heartbeat anyway.

Finally it was time to head home. We were at Chris' just before midnight and I got home just before one. It was a long, long day. It was very analogous to going to Rib Fest in Naperville: a ton of ribs finished off with ice cream. A good day indeed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Time Travel Paradox

I was reading the comics last night before bed, like I always do, and there was a reference to a time travel paradox. The concept in the comic was that if you could time travel to undue a mistake in the past, you would undue the mistake and, along with the act, the memory of it. Without the memory of it, you would make the same mistake again. This is something I've espoused for some time: if you had to do it all over again, you would do everything the same way because at any point in time you do what you think at that moment is the best thing to do given your knowledge and set of circumstances. You don't consciously make bad decisions, you make decisions that turn out badly. No where else to go with that topic; I just thought it was interesting.

Tomorrow I'm going golfing with Principal Chris out in Silvis, IL at The TPC at Deere Run. There is a huge golf tournament there (it was two weeks ago I think) so Chris and I go play it every year. After 36 holes, at least last year, we went out for ribs and then malts at some local haunts that Chris knows (he used to live there). Should be a good day, but it means I have to go sleep over at his house tonight so we can leave by 7 a.m. Hopefully his lovely wife won't mind!!
My golf trip means that I may not have a post tomorrow. If not, I'll have pictures for Friday.

****update on Ricardo: Things are looking up. The city he was dealing with actually tried to help him out so it looks like he's going to be able to close on the sale of the property. His phone replacement arrived so he's up and mobile. The Geek Squad is working on his new hard drive installation on his pc. His old drive has been sent out for recovery. In a sense, Ricardo is being recovered too!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tap dancing soda cans

Remember when you were a kid and had an empty soda can? What would you do with it? Recycling wasn't an issue really yet (if you're my age at least) so you could just toss the can away. But you didn't. No, if you were like me, often (not always) you'd lay the can down on it's side and stop your heel into the can so if stuck to the bottom of your foot and formed to it very securely. Hell, you could do your own Bojangles impersonation with the right Pepsi cans!

Every so often I like to remind my readers to visit this site. It's pretty intriguing and I hope you find it interesting.

Though I've tried to refrain from commenting on some close friend's lives, I have to add a note about poor Ricardo. My business partner and buddy has had a tough week or so. Last week, a house he's owns in the suburbs and has been trying to sell, failed some obscure local village ordinance. Unfortunately, the guy doing the inspection wasn't the final authority on the issue; he was just the assistant and needed to have his work reviewed by his boss. Sadly for Ricardo, his boss was on vacation, so Ricardo's closing is now in jeopardy. Ugh. Dealing with a city is bad enough, but when they have information or anything you need, it's twice as bad since these people LIVE to hold their little bit of authority over any and all comers.

In addition to the real estate issue, Ricardo's cell phone died. It just wouldn't hold a charge anymore, so he is phone-less. Fortunately though, his phone is under warranty. On top of that, his dishwasher stopped working. Not bad enough of a weekend for you? His home PC crashed too!! The hard drive just died and of course, just as he was making a backup to an external hard drive! No freakin' joke! You can't make this shit up. He was in the process of making an external backup when the PC just fried. Ugh. Man, I sooo feel for you. Hang in there buddy.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Do you Dew?

Without a young lady to go with, I haven't seen many movies recently. Today I looked on Metromix to see where Spiderman 3 was showing as I thought it might be good to see on the big screen. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be showing anywhere. Am I THAT far behind on things? Don't big time movies stay around for a while? Maybe it's been longer than I thought. Anyone know where Raging Bull is playing?

On my Lean Cuisine that I had for dinner, I noticed that it said "With 30% more food". Ok, even if it's lower calorie food, is this really sending the right message? I'm not sure, but I'm going to look and see if they have a meal with Doritos.....hopefully cool ranch!

Here's an interesting link to something that I read about in the paper: Dew Point. From that page I pulled what I thought was a useful nugget: The dew point is associated with relative humidity. A high relative humidity indicates that the dew point is closer to the current air temperature. If the relative humidity is 100%, the dew point is equal to the current temperature. Given a constant dew point, an increase in temperature will lead to a decrease in relative humidity. It is for this reason that equatorial climates can have low relative humidity, yet still feel humid.

Humans tend to react with discomfort to high dew points. Those accustomed to continental climates often begin to feel uncomfortable when the dew point reaches between 15 and 20 °C (59 to 68 °F). Most inhabitants of these areas will consider dew points above 21 °C (70 °F) to be oppressive.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cell phones ARE actually useful!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a softball tournament up in Antioch, Illinois or more precisely, we stayed in Antioch and the tournament was in Salem, Wisconsin, just across the border. About half a dozen of us went up Friday though so we could spend the night closer to the fields instead of having the hour plus drive prior to batting practice at 8:00 a.m. As it turns out, the drive would have been the better option.

In order to avoid traffic, I left DURING the Cubs game and was able to miss most of some very bad local traffic. Going north on 94 that far though is rarely an easy trip. It wasn't too bad though and I arrived much earlier than my teammates. That allowed me to take test drives to the fields and to where we supposed to go out that evening: Blarney Island. You actually go to Port Blarney bar and then they take you on a pontoon boat to the island (for $7). If you live on the lake (or have a boat to toss in the water) you can motor yourself out to the island and dock yourself at one of many slips. The place was pretty crazy as you can see from the pictures if you go to the website. A la Mardi Gras, the staff would get up on the top deck and throw beads down to women who flash their boobs. As usual in those situations, 95% of the women who were flashing, you wish wouldn't. A few of them KEPT flashing their chests or just took off their tops entirely and I had to find something else to look focus on. Ugh. Some were cute though and it was very much a party atmosphere so it was all good.

As in Vegas though, I was basically herding cats since I designated myself the driver, you can't drink that much at 41 and get up at 7 to play a day of softball in 85 degree weather anyway. Unfortunately, you can't really drink that much and be 30 either if you're going to do that kind of activity effectively. As in Vegas, my teammates could not restrain themselves. When I finally got them rounded up, we just missed the ferry back to land. Almost an hour later, we were finally back at the hotel. It was about 1:00. Ugh.

The morning came early and several of the guys were dragging from the night before, including myself (though for me it was just lack of sleep!). One of our starting outfielders went out in CHICAGO too and missed the first game. His brother, who also plays the outfield, was definitely a notch below usual for him as well. But not all was lost. Though we lost the first game, we won three in a row (including beating the team that beat us to start the day) and went into the championship game with a Super World Series bid on the line against a team that we have beaten often, but who has beaten us the last two times we have played them (Southside Connection). We jumped out to an early lead and only briefly trailed during the game by one or two runs. Going into the seventh and last inning, it was tied 13-13 after one terrible call by the umpire going against us(which actually involved me while playing third) led to several runs and then some silly errors by us also leading to runs for them. In this organization, at our level, home runs over the fence are not allowed and you are penalized heavily for doing so: it's an out for you and the other team gets a run. I could go into the reasons behind this, but I don't want to bore you further. Anyway, a guy on our team, with two outs, hit a home run which not only ended our half of the inning, it gave them the game 14-13. Clearly it wasn't his fault as we had plenty of chances to not screw up.

So we took second place, played 5 games and were headed home by 5:30. That's how you run a tournament. Next week, Arlington Heights I believe. It's supposed to be 95 degrees!!

I was planning on a relaxing day today and after biking to church and back, I went to one of my favorite haunts called Hamburger King for brunch. For some reason I decided to take my cell phone with me. Fortunately I had it as some softball buddies called and invited me to the Cubs game, which turned out to be a 7-6 thrilling victory over Houston and a series sweep for the Cubs. Several beers were imbibed during and after (at Bernie's) so it was a much better day than I had planned. Hope you had a great weekend!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Off to Softball Tournament

Saturday morning is a softball tournament up in Salem, WI, just across the border from Antioch. We're going to have a pretty good team and it's only a six team tournament, so we should do well. We're looking to win it all and second is not really an option. Our first game is at 9 a.m. and the championship game is at 4:30 so while I'll sleep in a hotel on Friday, I'll be back in my own bed on Saturday night.

Last night I saw the new worst game show ever: Don't Forget the Lyrics, hosted by, of all freaking people, Wayne Brady. I'm not sure which was worse, the format of this lame-ass show or Wayne Brady pretending to be entertained by the contestants. Ugh. It was really, really horrible. The contestants do karaoke (with the words) for a song in a certain genre and then the lyrics just stop and they have to sing the next 10 words to the song. Sometimes Wayne gets involved too....it's just horrible. It's almost like a train wreck though, tough to take your eyes off of it.

A gorgeous day for traveling, so I'm off like a prom dress. Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

So who bought FAST?

Back in mid-June I recommended a stock called Fastenal, based on several pieces of data and valuation methodologies. Well if you bought it then (under $42 a share), today was a pretty good day for you. Their second quarter earnings beat estimates by a penny on increased revenues and the stock jumped almost 10% to over $46 a share. Hopefully you bought lots of it like I did. Oh, and they announced a dividend for August too, so you get even more money!!!

In case you missed it, do not go out with your iPod in the rain or during a thunderstorm!! Apparently people are getting fried left and right while wearing headphones and such. Of course, these instruments do not attract lightning, but they can make the injuries a lot worse if lightning even strikes NEAR BY including burns and burst ear drums. Take caution......reason #38 why not to use an iPod outside.

Today I made mention of the Mason-Dixon Line while chastising someone from the south...it's just what I do. Afterwards I had to look it up on Wikipedia, just because, again, it's what I do. Interesting shape to the line and not what I would have expected.

Finally, Naperville Greg called last night to discuss, of all things, a political candidate. I was at softball so I did some research when I got back home and found this incredibly interesting and seemingly independent website. I highly recommend it for doing research on candidates from both parties. They list out all sorts of issues and then group quotes or statements from each candidate about those issues. One page of issues/quotes per candidate. Good stuff. Need to know what Mitt Romney thinks about gun control? Obama's stance on abortion? Giuliani on family and children? Easy to find.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Beautiful Day!!

Today is one of the two days, according to urban legend, during the year that there is no professional sporting event played that you can bet on in Vegas. The other day? Christmas? Nope. It was Monday, the day before the All-Star game. The day before and day after are the two days: no NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL...nuthin.

The weather in Chi-Town was outstanding today. Probably one of the 10 best days we'll have all year: upper 70's, low humidity, barely a cloud in the sky. This is what el supremo de NM experiences all the time in Albuquerque, or at least frequently. You could do anything today and be comfortable: softball, run, golf, layout, bike.....just a great day.

Hope the weather near you was just as nice!!

****Late addendum, it clouded over in the afternoon, but is still very nice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Africa hot again....and more rain!!

When my basement flooded the other week, I was sitting at Starbucks while the rain game dumping down and into my downstairs. It was a frustrating feeling because I needed to take my car to the dealer for repairs and I didn't want to get soaking wet and I kind of thought my basement might be having issues. Well, today I was at Starbucks again and down came the rain, again. It only came pouring down for about 15 minutes or so, unlike the last time when it was almost 45 minutes of solid "end of the world" rain. No water in the basement! Yay!!

Holy crap.....Conan O'Brien is on in HD on my 50" plasma.....good Lord is that a good picture. Wow.

Met Ricardo for pizza at Pequod's this evening (after the rain). If you haven't been there, the pizza is really good and they have Fat Tire beer on tap. Much happiness for Joe.

While my day ended well (pizza, beer and watching the All-Star game almost go into extra innings.....can I just say that I absolutely freaking love to watch Ichiro Suzuki play baseball?), it did not start off so hot. Manual Labor Mike was supposed to be at my house at 9:00 for a delivery of 9' solid oak two panel closet doors...not the lightest things in the world. Two people can easily carry them but they are a struggle for one guy. Well, of course, ML Mike was late and Menards had come and gone by the time he showed up. Really tried my patience this time. Fortunately the Menards guy needed to pick up the doors they dropped off last week which were the wrong size, so he had to come inside already (paying for delivery only gets it to the sidewalk, not in your house). We struck a deal so I helped him carry the old doors out and he helped me carry the new doors in. Damn MLM.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Where will Joe be??

Once last chance for your guess at the sculpture below. This view really helped solidify the subject matter for me:

It's a new piece called The Dancer. Really, I walked by this thing for three weeks before figuring out what the hell it was. Originally I thought it was a hideous, abstract Picasso-type piece.....yech. Nope, you tell me it's a dancer and now I love it!! That probably makes me culturally shallow.

Still Africa hot today, but some storms went through and cooled it off a bit. I guess on Wednesday it's supposed to be in the 70's for a high!! Whoo-hoo!!

Found out today my softball schedule could take me to these exotic places over the next two months: Joliet, Rockford, Sterling Heights Michigan, Lake Buena Vista Florida, Aurora Colorado, Salem Wisconsin and Owensboro Kentucky. Can't beat that with a big stick......um, ok...you could beat it. The Florida location is actually supposed to be nice and I've been all of the other cities except Aurora Colorado. They're no Vegas, but not terrible. Missing, ironically, is Indianapolis Indiana. Normally they hold a tournament that we need to play in or hold the finals. Apparently this year that is not the case. I like mixing it up with my redneck brethren!!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Africa hot. Or outback Australia hot.

Yes it was hot and muggy today in Chicago. Africa hot. The other day on Man vs. Wild the guy in the show got dropped in the middle of the outback in Australia (the only continent with the same name as a country by the way). According to the show, it was like 110 degrees with 100% humidity. With that level of humidity, not only does it feel like 150 degrees, your sweat can't evaporate to help cool you. Virtual hell. Unlike the host, I could go to the refrigerator for cold beverage. He had to save and the drink his.....well.....bodily fluids. Ugh. Interesting series though, you should check it out.

It was so hot that lethargy settled in (though softball from yesterday contributed somewhat). In order to accomplish anything today, I set little goals and did small things: bought three much need door stops and installed one of them, collected up the garbage in the house, did some laundry, ironed, removed my old parking stickers and put on the new ones, went to Golfsmith and tested some new drivers. Actually not too bad a day really.

Yesterday, as I'm sure you know, was 7-7-07. In my delirious, heat-exhausted state today, I thought that if I were still dating my ex-girlfriend, we would be in our seventh year of dating. As I know now, she wanted to get married two years ago (though she had an odd way of showing it), so I wonder if we would have picked yesterday to get married if we were still together? Maybe I'm still delirious, but I'd put the odds at better than 50-50. So when people ask you on Monday what you did this weekend, you can say "I didn't go to Joe Sutton's wedding, which didn't happen but might have." :-)

Pictures of my neighborhood artwork follows. Tell me what you think it is. Tomorrow I'll include the name of the sculpture, which explains what it is.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Softball and classic cars

Well, the softball tournament went somewhat as I mentioned, except we went 1-2 and could have won all of the games we played. We were clearly not outclassed by the competition, even with our undermanned team. Depending on the breaks in the games, we could have gone 3-0 or 0-3. While I hit ok from an OBP perspective, .600, I hit into two double-plays, one with the bases loaded and nobody out. Ugh. Definitely a rally killer. My next time up to bat after that play, there was a runner on first and I ripped a single to left that got past the outfielder and I rounded the bases. Technically a single and three base error, but for us, it's as good as a home run.

On the way home we saw an older car, something from the early '60's I'm sure. It was pretty cool and could really move. Cars from that era ran on leaded gasoline though. Now, even the word "lead" is usually dropped from gasoline descriptions (Regular, Premium, etc). So how does this car run on unleaded gasoline? Well, to determine that, I went to my friends at Wikipedia to figure out what leaded gasoline is and then maybe how a car can run on different types of gas.

As it turns out, the lead was an additive that helped reduce knocking, pinging and other engine noises. The leaded gasolines have been phased out now (since 1996) and we've all seen classic cars, so what's the deal? Well, the Wikipedia entry mentions this: "Many classic cars' engines have needed modification to use lead-free fuels since leaded fuels became unavailable. However, "Lead substitute" products are also produced and can sometimes be found at auto parts stores." There you go!

One other question came up is what a catalytic converter does. Wiki has the answer again and discusses how the converter is used to reduce noxious emissions.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sooooo Full

Actually made an interesting realization today regarding a new piece of art in my neighborhood. Once I get some pictures, I'll post them and discuss my realization. Hopefully tomorrow or Sunday.

dejesus freak and I went to dinner at a Mexican place around the corner from me that I've walked by a thousand times yet never ventured in to. While sitting at the Starbucks across the street with some Buckies*, the restaurant was given high marks as far as Mexican places go. While the chips and salsa were good, little else was truly tasty. The chili rellenos was actually chopped up peppers and meat stuffed inside some flat, fried dough. Really not appealing. Actually, while the rest of the food was decent, it wasn't anything to write home about (or on a blog really). Yet, I managed to eat a good chunk of it and was completely stuffed (mostly on chips and salsa I fear). After dinner we went to a local pub and were both barely able to drink one beer before having to call it a bloated night.

Before going home though, we took a hike around Wrigley where Sting was playing in front of a huge crowd of 40,000+. Outside the stadium and at the surrounding establishments within earshot, there were several thousand other fans hanging around. It was decent people watching, but we were both so freakin' full, we were just trying to walk off the bloated feeling in hopes of going back to the bar. No such luck.

Softball tournament on Saturday and Sunday, which means only 2 or 3 games on Saturday with Sunday's games (if any) based on how we do. Again we have an undermanned team due to conflicts and this tournament is supposed to be pretty competitive, so if we win any games at all I'll be amazed.

*Buckies are people that hang out at Starbucks while drinking their coffee and reading the paper. You have to do this almost daily to be a Bucky.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Early to bed for me tonight!

I was a little tired today, but had just a crap load of things to do. Part of the reason I was tired was that yesterday Menards called at 6:30 a.m. to schedule delivery of some custom made closet doors (nothing fancy, just abnormally tall). Yes, they were actually making deliveries on the 4th of July. They called several times in the morning actually, until they woke me up, but anyone calling before 9 gets pretty much the same treatment; me ignoring them. The interruption in my sleep was not appreciated though and made me tired all day.....plus after I did get up and got the messages, having to deal with the delivery people and making them realize that the delivery was actually supposed to happen today was also exhausting.

So today they brought the doors, but didn't call until they were about 10 minutes away. Nice warning. Again, I was in bed, but was expecting their call this time, so I turned my phone on the night before. They dropped off the doors (outside, as the $40 delivery doesn't include moving anything inside) and after Manual Labor Mike got there to help, we moved these beasts inside. Unfortunately, they were the wrong doors!!! They made them each 12" wide instead of 18" wide. Great. Custom ordered doors that have to be reordered. Another phone call to Menards....ugh. Finally got it straightened out and hopefully the doors will be redelivered next week.

That was all followed by an hour+ long conference call. Then a laundry list of other tasks for the day. Actually I made much progress, as did Manual Labor Mike since he was up and over at my place hours before he normally arrives.

My neighbors actually asked me who I got to rip up my carpeting and padding. I said "Me." Now, these folks have two kids: a girl in college and a boy in high school. Are you telling me that they can't do this work? Shit, my folks had me in the crawl space digging a trench for a sump-pump during the John Wayne Gacy murder discoveries....and I was like 12 or something. C'mon, they can't rip up some carpeting? How spoiled can you get?

Maybe I'm just a little grumpy from being tired.

No matter how tired I am though, I would be able to answer this question from Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?: Which continent has the same name as a country? This question was for $200,000 (moving her from $300,000 up to $500,000 and a chance at a million dollars). So what does she say? "Well......uh......um......there's North America....that's a country. South America....that's a country. Asia, Europe, Arctic, Antarctic and......Australia. I guess all of them are country names." Unfreakin' believable. She SAYS THE ANSWER and still fucks it up. That's so sad. At least she was smart enough to know she didn't know the answer and take her $300k and went home. Are we allowed to shoot stupid people yet?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

How many ribs can one person eat?

Oooooooooooh, it's Ribfest time of year in the 'ville (Naperville). For the two previous years, this being the third, I've headed to Ribfest with my good friends Naperville Greg and Kleveland Kim. Greg and his family (six siblings) grew up right down the street from me in the 'ville. His mother still lives in the house Greg grew up in and my parents still live in the house I grew up in. Fortunately for us, the houses are about 1/4 mile away from Ribfest and are just about as close as you can get from a parking standpoint.

Since Greg and Kim had guests last night and had to drive them home to the suburbs at around midnight (train problems, ugh!), I decided to scoop them up and that we'd all go out together. It was a very nice drive and it went by pretty quickly. Awaiting us in the 'ville was one of Greg's older brothers, Monopoly Denis (so named due to his prowess at the game when we were young). I've seen Denis probably twice in the last 13 years, which is absolutely ridiculous considering how close we were growing up (he's two years older than me). Anyway, we had a great time drinking beer and eating ribs, while Greg also had a great time listening to Randy Travis. The rest of us listened to Randy as well, but we're not as big fans.

The ribs we tried (and really enjoyed) were Desperado's (first place best ribs and sauce), Mojo's (spicier ribs that we also had last year and enjoyed) and Fast Freddy's Ribs (only Denis and I had these tasty, sweet ribs as Greg and Kim were stuffed).

No Ribfest is complete without a Black Cow, which is vanilla ice cream and root beer, basically a root beer float. Soooooo good.

Finally, the fireworks display was outstanding as usual. Growing up in the 'ville, we always had good fireworks displays which I always have claimed rivaled Chicago's. Actually, about 15 years ago or so, I'm sure Naperville's were BETTER than Chicago's, but the city has stepped it up over the last decade or so and put on a nice show. Maybe it's how close you are to the fireworks at the Ribfest too compared to how close you can actually get in Chicago. Maybe.....

Me feeling up a very out of place statue. Boy was it bright looking back into the sun!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Life is good again.

Sorry about missing my post yesterday. As I mentioned on Sunday, I was gone golfing all day from 6:30 a.m. until after midnight. We played 36 holes of golf and had a great time, but the course was about two hours away. Afterwards, we headed out to a favorite haunt for dinner and drinks.

Today was a bright sunshiny day (to steal a line from The Brady Bunch) and I was up relatively early after an exhausting day. I couldn't find my sunglasses, which made for a less pleasant walk to Starbucks. Upon my return, the search for my sunglasses began. After scouring the house, car, golf bag and laundry, I called the golf course to see if anyone turned them in.
"I have like 50 pairs of sunglasses between the pro shop and the lost and found. If you want to look through them, be my guest." said the less than helpful attendant.
But I'm in Chicago.
"I don't know what to tell you."
Great. I went back out to the car to check yet again to see if they had somehow escaped my initial search. Finding nothing in the trunk yet again, I was beginning to really feel unhappy. I like the glasses, but not only that, I had just recently ordered replacement lenses for the frame. Ugh. Then, in a stroke of common sense, I checked under the driver seat and there were the glasses!! My whole mood changed! One silly little thing like that changed my day around. Funny.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Circular reasoning

Yesterday, I was too tired to write about anything requiring much thought, hence the softball entry. However, I owe you some detail on a conversation Naperville Greg and I had on Friday over Thai food and Duvel. Now, we discussed many, many things, but this one I can relay. It involved personal relationships, how we define them and how we manage them. The idea was to think of yourself at the center of concentric circles. Then determine if and which friends fall in the closest circle and then the next circle and outside the circles. Here's a visual:

For those having difficulty visualizing concentric circles.

The thought is that you should focus on (i.e. communicate, spend time with, etc.) those people in the closest circle. They should take a priority in your life. Now, the tough part is defining how far out that first circle goes (the circle being defined as importance to you). I haven't had time to conduct the exercise yet, but I will. It should be interesting.

Just wanted to note that I have one less reason to visit Europe: NFL Europe has been disbanded by the NFL after 16 years of operation. A few years ago, the league had their Super Bowl (the World Bowl) in Glasgow, Scotland. Had I found out about it sooner than a week or two before the actual game, I would have made plans to go see it. Since then I've considered going to the "next one" but never did. Oh well.

Last two thoughts for today (tomorrow I'm golfing all day with Ricardo so I probably won't have a Monday entry). As I meandered down the personal hygiene aisle at the supermarket today, I noticed Close-Up toothpaste still existed. Does anyone else remember this stuff? It was big like 30 years ago and was the first flavored toothpaste that I really remembered. It was a gel and was red, as opposed to the traditional white paste. Brought back many memories....

Since it's warm enough to eat ice cream again, you might like to know what causes "brain freeze". Some interesting reading I thought.