Friday, August 31, 2007

Soo many topics, so little time!!

Seriously, my list of blog topics is growing exponentially!

First, Owen Wilson. Last I heard, the dude slit his wrists in a failed suicide attempt. His body of work is outstanding and I think he's one of the few people that I would actually pay $10 to see in a movie. Just a shame.

Lance Briggs. He's a linebacker for the Bears and said he was never going to play for the Bears again and yadda, yadda, yadda. They gave him $7.2million for one year and he showed up for camp. He was looking for about three times that in guaranteed money over four years or so. Anyway, the reason he's a topic again is that he drove his $350,000 Lamborghini into a light pole at 3 a.m. People are asking if he was drunk, was he driving, all sorts of questions. My interest is in the concept of just bailing on an accident if no one else is involved. If you're drunk and crash your car into a wall, get the hell out of there!! That's what Lance did, if he was drunk that is. He didn't meet with the police for 8 hours. 8 hours!!! Guess who was definitely sober by then? Guess who also could be sober by then? You. Hit and run is bad, so don't do it if you involve someone else, but it seems like a huge loophole in the law if no one else is involved.

Went to the Bears pre-season game with Naperville Greg and Kleveland Kim and a guest on Thursday. KK helped me prepare and shop (since I have no one else to help me) and it was a huge success. Four or five other folks stopped by and we tailgated afterwards with The Boyz (Darwin, Jason and Gar). Here are some pics:

Gar, Jason, Darwin, Jennifer (D's wife) and KK.

Almost forgot to take a group shot after cleaning up my tailgate and getting ready to go into the game!! Notice the setting sun and bag-o-garbage.

Finally for today (I have much more to write about, but not today), Manual Labor Mike has finished painting my living room so I thought I'd put up some before and after pictures.

So, before:

Yes, I had chosen this yellow color and did the painting. The white around the bottom is where the baseboard was torn up.

Note the distinctive lack of color around the fireplace and on the other wall. Goes well with the brick no? Thirteen years it's been that way. Really!!

And the after:

The flat wall looks a bit more yellow here than it really is. It's a lighter tan color. The red is very rich looking and it took three coats of paint to cover the wall with it (including a gray primer)! That's four coats of paint. Yikes.

The fireplace surrounded also in red. I'm really happy!! MLM did a great job.

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone!!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Update from yesterday.

Yesterday was a day of extremes for yours truly. At one end of the spectrum I was holding and bouncing a lovely little girl who was less than a year old, and on the other end I was drinking beer after beer with three married guys at the Cubs game. This is my life.

The day started off with an innocuous knocking sound. Well, it couldn't be a knocking sound intended to wake me up, I thought, because anyone who wanted to wake me up would either call or ring the buzzer. Well, I was wrong on many accounts. First, they HAD called not once, but twice. I missed both calls, which took place before 9:00 a.m., which is normally fine. But one of the calls said, "Hey Joe, we're here to do the plumbing work." Damnit, I couldn't even yell at them for not calling!! So my day started a bit rough with the plumbing guys using a jack hammer to dig up a drain and the cement around it. However, while I was showering, work was being done.

For lunch, two women who are cousins and who used to work for me at Morningstar back in the mid-90's were in town, one with her new baby and new (to me) husband and the other with her almost one year old baby. I met them downtown for lunch and caught up on their lives. It was fun and I was "very good" with the one year old baby girl. She was adorable too!! Many pictures were taken so if I get copies I'll post them.

After a much longer than expected lunch and walk around The Bean, I dropped off a package to some bankers for work and then headed home. That's when my drinking day began....about 4:30. It started at a local bar, The Houndstooth, and progressed to the Cubs/Brewers game. My compatriots, more intent on drinking and carousing than I since they are all married, wanted to leave and hit the bars in something like the 5th inning!! I forced them to stay through the 8th and then they would hear no more about staying, plus the Cubs were losing 6-1. On the way out we happened by dejesus freak's seats so I peered over to see if he was there and he was! I stopped to say hey to him and Lurker Brenda and then continued on with my drunken friends.

One of my buddies is from Mokena and loves (LOVES!) to play corn hole, or bags, so he wanted to find a bar that had the game. I told him no bar north of the Congress has bags and that he should also leave his denim shorts at home. Though he found this funny, I think he was also slightly offended because he WAS INDEED going to wear denim shorts! All night he kept saying, "See, look at that guy. He as denim shorts." To which I would counter, "Yeah, and he probably lives in a trailer down by you." To me, denim shorts on guys is like black socks and sandals, you just don't do it.

After unsuccessful efforts to find a bags game in the area, we opted for the next closest thing: sushi. Yeah, weird, I know. We had fun though and dejesus called and joined us half way through the meal. These guys were just done physically and mentally at this point though, so we broke up and headed home. dejesus lives down the street and was sober, so he gave me a ride home.

After getting some water I started on my blog entry and got through the first two paragraphs above. Then I made the tragic mistake of heading over to the sofa to "rest" before continuing to write. Next thing I know, it's 3:00 a.m. My short blog entry received plenty of comments though, so maybe I should indeed keep them more brief!!! Tonight is another tough drinking night with the Bears game and tailgating starting at 4!!!

Blog on temporary hold due to passing out.

More later.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So much to write about, such a short attention span of my readers.

Not a jab at you my faithful readers, but realistically, every additional sentence I write above a certain length starts to lose people.

Manual Labor Mike, my "contractor", stopped his painting a bit short today because the red I chose is not really looking as I expected. It's too red, not enough brown...if that makes sense. Back to the paint store in the morning.

Continued to watch Into Alaska with the insufferable Jeff Corwin. Probably four years ago, I made my way up to Alaska and the show I watched today was about Denali National Park. They even had the airport where I took a flight around Mt. McKinley. Pretty cool. How often do you watch the travel channel or National Geographic and say, "I was there!" Another episode is the Kenai Penisula, which is where I took a cruise and ran into this character from TV:

Recognize him?

Today turned out to be another good day. After making all sorts of calls to various banks and such for work and a trip to Menards to return items and purchase new ones, my afternoon and evening were much different than expected. I was expecting to be at home while the plumbers came to do their work on the building, but their truck broke down so now they can't make it until tomorrow morning. Instead, I met a new lady friend at a Starbucks and then took in a matinée. Afterwards, I was still able to get a workout in before dinner. Not bad!!

Relationships are soooooo interesting. In the last five years or so, heck maybe the last three, I've really learned so much about women specifically and people in general about how they think about relationships, the lasting impact of past relationships (AKA baggage), insecurities (remember the crazy Dallas chick?), identifying control issues, oh and I could go on and on. It really makes dating and meeting people somewhat intriguing. Even if they don't talk to you much, even the act of NOT talking is interesting. We are all so much the product of our experiences and relationships, it deals genetics a severe blow.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Joe is blind (less).

Though today was as busy or busier than any other recently, I feel like maybe my life is coming back under control. Maybe it's only a temporary feeling, but I hope not. Maybe it was doing some little things around the house to help get it organized that gave me this sense. Maybe it was finally being able to go back to the gym and running my 2 mile run again for the first time in a month. Maybe it was just being able to coordinate: work on my condo, work on the condo building (not for me), consulting work, a trip to the gym and helping some friends.

This latter event took place at the local Starbucks. Interestingly, it's not uncommon for me to be found there discussing personal financial or other issues with friends and acquaintances. Tonight, my friends were contemplating various housing options for them and their new child as well as how to finance a move, nanny, emergency fund and sizable down payment. They were very receptive, which is always helpful, and willing to talk as well as listen not only to me, but to each other. It was a good hour plus meeting.

Manual Labor Mike is on to painting! It appears that the woodwork is done at this point, at least everything that I had planned to have done. Since some of the woodwork involved MLM beating up some of the dry wall, the walls needed to be painted and with painting means the blinds need to come down. I took the opportunity to move away from a basic white in the bedrooms and to add some color to the hallway and front room. MLM has finished the hallway and the guest bedroom and is going to start on the front room followed by the master bedroom. For whatever shortcomings MLM has, the dude can paint. I may not like the amount of time he works in a day or the order in which he does it, but it's tough to argue with the finished product, now that I have at least some finished product to view.

The building needs its main drain line rooted out and a collapsed drain replaced. After calling and trying to get quotes from three different plumbers, I finally called a fourth on Sunday and they came out today to quote the job which they are doing tomorrow morning for a price I wanted. Another success.

This afternoon I had a meeting at, you guessed it, a Starbucks downtown with a bank who will be proposing a financing package for one of my consulting clients. It was a bank at which I didn't have any contacts, so I went through the internet and made the contact that way. This bank may or may not work out, but I feel like it was a nice little business victory.

Wilfred Brimley just showed up on a life insurance commercial. Is he even still alive?? As it turns out, he's only 72, but the dude looks like he's 98.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Those kids from Taiwan always kick the snot of us in the Little League World Series."

I'm not sure where that quote came from, but I'm sure I've heard it somewhere. At one point, from 1969-1981, the Taiwanese youngsters won the LLWS 10 out of 13 years (and in 1975 all foreign teams were banned, though the ban was rescinded the following year). Wow. Between 1986 and 1991, they won 5 out of 6. Another great stretch. Since 1998, the Japanese kidz have been first or second 7 times. Holy crap!

Today, the boyz from Warner Robins, Georgia beat the youngsters from Tokyo, Japan in extra innings with a walk-off home run to win the LLWS in Williamsport, PA. It was a pretty exciting game, but ended with one team jumping for joy and the other crying on the grass.

Saturday was a busy day with a softball tournament in Arlington Heights. Because of the large amounts of rain and bad weather, all the games were pushed back and then we started with a 2-2 count, though we were given one courtesy foul without it being a strike out (normally a foul in softball with two strikes is a strike out). There are tournaments that actually only have one pitch: you walk, strike out or put the ball in play. One pitch, that's it.

The day did not go well for us we lost a close game to a team we beat routinely and then lost to our arch rivals, Southside Connection, by the slaughter rule. We just couldn't get it done with the sticks and the opposition didn't seem to have a problem.

On the upside, the short day gave me a chance to make the Bears/49ers game at 7. I called Naperville Greg, who lives very close to the stadium, to see if he could join me (I had already sold my extra set). He couldn't make it because he had to go out with business associates who were in town, but asked if would want to go with his wife, Kleveland Kim. A fantastic idea! KK is a big Browns fan, so I said if she cheers for the Bears she could come along. She did and was great company to have. Everyone in the section liked her and as usual, they prefer to have her there to me. Bastards.

Before and after the game we crashed the tailgate of the guys who sit in front of me (Gar, Darwin, Jason and Russell), though Jason and Russell were replaced by Darwin's wife and her friend. Sorry, I didn't bring the camera. We didn't eat or drink much, but it was fun to hang with them. We played corn-hole too!! I felt like so much white trash, but at least it was an NFL set of bags and the board looked like a football field. Since KK is from Kleveland and throws left handed, it was a foregone conclusion that victory was mine!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Did Joe get to golf on Friday with all the bad weather?

The short answer is yes he did! The course we were playing for the Family Rescue charity golf outing was flooded on the back nine and wet on the front, but we were able to play at least. Actually we ended up playing a full 18 holes by playing the front nine twice. My foursome was the four-time defending champs and with a solid team back together, a fifth was looking pretty good.

And win again we did!! Steve-O, DD and Lil'Tim were my teammates and we all played pretty solid golf. Lil'Tim was inspirational the way he hit the ball. Using the various scoring gimmicks that you can buy (mulligans and strings), we were 14 under par for 9 holes, which is the number of holes they decided to use because not everyone could finish. We were -20 for all 18 holes (used up all of the gimmicks).

After the awards were handed out and the raffle prizes were awarded, the organizers announced that the shelter needed a new stove. Apparently for several months now, people were going out somewhere to heat up food or buy it and bring it back. They wanted to raise $5,000 for a new stove and to stockpile some canned goods, simply by taking cash donations from people who raised their hands. In doing so they raised roughly $7,500!! That was in addition to the close to $30,000 that they make off the event. Nicely done!!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Who did Joe meet today?

Rarely do I mingle with the social elite and tonight was no different. As crazy ass thunderstorms/flooding rain/tornadoes (50-80 mph winds) slashed through the Chicago area fucking with everything from me getting my afternoon coffee to el supremo and Ricardo leaving town, I was focused on hitting a fundraising charity event downtown. Granted, it was a pizza and wine event, but still it's fun and for a good cause.

After getting all dressed up and doing some computer work, I heard an all too familiar beeping sound. It was my moisture indicator that I have set near a door that stands between my downstairs and an outdoor drain. With all the crazy ass weather, somehow the drain got backed up and started flooding my unit, again. Fortunately I was right there watching what was happening and at what pace it was happening. Being on hand, I was able to control it very quickly with towels and my shopvac, but it brought to the forefront of my mind yet again the need to fix the problem, not to just find a band-aid solution. I really thought the flooding season was over!!!

Before I could even contemplate leaving, for my charity event, my buddy Lil'Tim (set for day three of his four day Joe-Palooza) called to say that he'd been on the road from Evanston for an hour already and was nowhere near downtown, so he was turning around and going home. Couldn't blame him. As it was, I decided to show up an hour late for the event just to make sure that the flooding was under control. Upon arrival, I was told that they would be having the event again, gratis, in three weeks or so. Whoo-hoo!!! Two events for the price of one and Lil'Tim can join me this time!! Always more fun when he's around.

So at this greatly reduced charity event there were probably only 25-30 people. Which is fine, but I was flying solo so more people is always better in that situation. However, I found some very interesting people to talk to. One person, an absolutely beautiful woman who lost her husband to cancer in 1992, was in attendance and it turns out her husband had written The Super Bowl Shuffle and she still had the rights to it along with a bunch of other things including something to do with the Grabowski's. Very funny and interesting. We chatted for some time but I never revealed that I had dressed up for Halloween last year as one of the Grabowski's:

Yes, I had a hula skirt on, but no coconut bra...the store ran out of them.

Anyway, this woman rubs elbows with football executives and stars on a daily basis. She's the type of person that I really don't interact with all that often, but she was fun. While I was checking to see if I had posted this picture, I realized that I used to call Lil'Tim, T-Rex Tim. I like the Lil'Tim reference better, but since he was mentioned in my very first blog entry, I felt I should make sure that you all know he's the same person. Here's a very, very, very unflattering picture that he would absolutely kill me over if he knew that I posted it. Ha!! That'll teach him to not read my blog!!!

Drunk and sunburned Lil'Tim. What an awesome freaking picture. I have no idea who took this for me. Wonder what I was contemplating?? Probably, "Who the hell is that with my camera?"

Another very attractive young lady that I met was helping out her sister in-law (who was pregnant) and brother (who had a bicycle accident and really screwed up his 9 screws and a replacement socket), even though she lives in Seattle. It was well worth risking further flooding and possible car damage to head downtown and meet these two women. As a side note, I bid on and won a Beer Bash for 49 of my closest friends at a bar downtown!!! For only $325, 50 folks can drink for some undetermined amount of time......that's a little more than $6 a person. Hell, guys on my softball team can drink that much in about 12 minutes. Finding 49 people other than me though will be an interesting task. Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why such a short post today Joe?

Well, the reason is that I had three softball games in two different cities that I left for at 4:30 and I didn't get home from the last game until 11:00, and that was only because the third game was called on account of rain in the third inning.

So I'm beat, dehydrated (it was humid and in the 90's until the rain came) and I have a breakfast meeting at 8 a.m. (that's about 4:30 a.m. to normal people).

Tomorrow should be another drunken post as I go to another charity event from 7-10 p.m. Did anyone see my liver??

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How did Joe get drunk today?

Yes, it's been a while since I wrote my blog a little tipsy, but here we go! Today, el supremo de NM came back into town which meant client meetings and prepping for other client meetings. Additionally, it meant a "networking" evening at Just Grapes. This month we had about 20 people there from various walks of life. Afterwards el supremo and I considered that the prices per sample were much higher than normal. What was different from last month when we met there? Since we had so many people coming to the event, we thought maybe we should call and let them know so the staff wouldn't be swamped. So did they, with full knowledge that we were coming, jack up the sampling prices? I don't know, but you can bet that next month they won't get a call.

After Just Grapes, we headed to Vivo, a nice little Italian restaurant on Randolph street not far from Just Grapes. Ricardo, el supremo, LiL' Tim and a new acquaintance Portage Park Michelle. We all had a very nice dinner even more wine. The scallops at Vivo were fantastic!! This is day two of four days in a week that LiL' Tim (not unlike LiL'Kim) and I get the pleasure of seeing each other: golf last Friday, tonight, Thursday at a fundraiser and Friday at a golfing fundraiser. Can't get enough of LiL' Tim though.

A special shout out to Ricardo who just had his birthday this weekend!!! I missed it somehow, probably because my life has been so hectic, but I'll find a way to make it up to him. Ricardo is a good man and a great business partner. I'm fortunate to know him!!!

Met Portage Park Michelle tonight who I'm sure is just full of stories, but regaled us with just one tonight about how she was chased by a black bear while camping in British Columbia.
(side note on the black bear entry: Winnie the Pooh was named after a Winnipeg bear an orphaned black bear cub originally from the Canadian city of White River, Ontario. During World War I, the bear was adopted by (then) Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, a member of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles of the Canadian Infantry. It later became the mascot for the company and was moved to London Zoo where it was seen by A. A. Milne and his son.) After running for a distance with the bear still in tow, PPM climbed a tree, even though black bears can climb as well. She got up about 20+ feet when a helicopter came and lowered a ladder to her. Apparently her camping friends had called for help and it arrived just in time. Wow!

The story reminded me of my trip to Alaska with an ex-girlfriend. We saw a wood carved black bear and I mentioned how black bears are relatively harmless and only eat fruits and nuts. The next day in the Anchorage paper was a lead story about how you have to be careful because a black bear can skin a person alive in a matter of minutes. Yowza!! I couldn't have been more wrong. I blame National Geographic!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Why is Joe pissed today?

Today I had a charity fund raiser golf outing benefiting the Chicago Youth Programs. A buddy of mine with whom I had done some work at Morningstar, needed me to fill in for someone at his company (Leopardo Construction) who had to back out. Who am I to deny a charity? Ok, I didn't contribute much to the charity in the long run, but I've played in this outing for most of the last five or six years. They really do good work.

Another cool part of the outing is that it's held at Ruffled Feathers Golf Course, where my buddy is the GM. So not only did I get to catch up with my construction friend, who is also in my fantasy football league, but also my golfing GM buddy! It was a two-fer.

So then why am I pissed off? Well, the answer is multi-faceted. First, it rained most of the day while we were golfing until they decided to close the course. About 20 minutes later the sun actually came out. Unbelievable. Being the boyscout that I am (ok, I'm not, but I usually am prepared), I brought a change of clothes except for another pair of shorts or pants. My thinking, and I actually did think about this, was that if it rained so much that my shorts got wet then we wouldn't be playing. Stupid, stupid Joe. Oh well. The shower and MOSTLY dry clothes helped a bit.

Then I got home in time, just barely, to see the start of the Bears game. I also had a bunch of emails to get to though from the day away from the computer. So while watching Rex Grossman fumble three times and throw an interception, I was paging through emails from everyone and their mother. This is where I started to get unhappy. Most of my unhappiness is due to Grossman and Lovie Smith, the Bears coach who refuses to sit Grossman's sorry ass despite tomes of evidence in favor of it. So his performance combined with a guy wanting all these condo documents from me because he is selling his unit, started me on downward spiral.

Next came the realization that our maintenance guy screwed up a relatively easy project because he didn't read the instructions on the box, "I never read the instructions on those things." Dumb ass.

Then I found out that Manual Labor Mike didn't do any of the woodwork today that he was supposed to do. While this was disappointing, it was the reason WHY that was upsetting. He couldn't find a place to saw. That's right. The place he LIKES to saw was unavailable because the maintenance guy was washing the back porch with a hose. So instead of moving to: the boiler room, my downstairs, the front stoop, the laundry room or the yard, MLM just didn't do the wood work. Arrrrrghhhhh.

Four or five more things contributed to my general unpleasantness at the moment, but I'll end on a happy note. Last night I went to the rained out Cubs/Cardinals game with dejesus freak, Naperville Greg and Kleveland Kim. Due to my schedule, I haven't been able to spend nearly enough time with any of them so even though there was a ninety minute rain delay after three innings before the game was called, we sat in the stands, dry, drinking beer and catching up. It was great fun. Also, on the way to the game, a really cute waitress from a local bar was working at a ticket broker when we walked by and remembered me! She called me back after I walked past her having made a comment about cute women being the best marketing ploy ever invented, gave me a nice hug hello!! Guess what bar I'm going to this weekend?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How did Joe end up in a barn last night?

Friday was a busy day with golf in the morning and then softball practice in the early evening as we prepared for the competitive state tournament on Saturday in Kankakee. Because of my golfing on Friday, I really wanted to move practice to Thursday, but we couldn't find free fields. The long day of activity Friday proved to be a detriment for me come Saturday morning.

We had to check in at the fields on Saturday at 8:00 for our first game at 9, so I left at 6:30 which means I got up at 6. Unfortunately for me, my golf bag decided to fall over at 5:00 and I struggled to get back to sleep afterwards. Bleary-eyed, I made the trip to Kankakee feeling a little tired, but not noticeably exhausted. That proved to be an illusion though as I started off only 1-3 in the first game hitting lead-off and it was a weak 1-3. My teammates picked me up though and we won our first game against Monkey Bash, a team we had lost to twice because of the home run penalty rule. The following game I went 0-2, again weakly, in another Brewdogs victory, this time over a team called Kensington's from Braidwood who had beaten our nemesis, Southside Connection.

Our third game was against a team called "Slumpbusters" (if you're familiar with the sports term then you can probably picture the logo on their uniform) for the finals of the winner's bracket and they absolutely thrashed us with great hitting. We then met Southside Connection in the finals of the losers bracket. We were tied 2-2 in the sixth when the guy in for me at third base (Gangsta we call him) launched a no-doubter home run giving SC one run and costing us an out. In the top of the sixth, still behind 3-2, I pinch hit Gangsta with runners on first and second and nobody out and rifled a single to center to load the bases. It was a big hit because we'd been hitting into double plays all day and I wasn't hitting horribly all day. The single lifted our team though and rolled over the lineup allowing us to blow the game open and score five runs. We held them scoreless in the sixth and seventh and won 7-3.

The victory put us back against Slumpbusters where we would have to beat them twice to win it all, but they thrashed us again and we finished in second again. Still, we had some good wins against tough teams and we didn't have three of our starting four outfielders!!

When in Kankakee for a tournament, we go to this local bar called Heather's. The primary clientèle of Heather's reside in a trailer park down the street, so the appeal is as much about people watching as anything. The bartender is usually a buxom, slightly heavy, very fun woman who loves to have softball players come into the bar. The woman we normally see there, Barbie who I think actually owns the bar, was having a party at her home north of town, so she wasn't working. Her replacement was a 22 year old woman named Alison who was, as you would expect, buxom, slightly heavy and very nice. Alison was going to Barbie's party after her shift was over, so six of us followed her to Barbie's house to experience a Kankakee party. How could we not??

I took some pictures of this place, but the party was outside and in the barn. The barn though had a band stage, sofas, a pool table, a refrigerator, I think a small bar, a volleyball pit outside and a Mayor McCheese playground thing which I can't describe but I took a picture it on my buddy's phone. Unfortunately there were a bunch of 19-22 year olds there interspersed with the bar's trailer home frequenters. Everyone was very nice and Barbie was happy to see us again. My teammates got hammered and I'm not sure what happened to them, but I took a break from the booze so I could drive back the hour and sleep in my own bed. No way I was ending up in my car, a Kankakee motel, or Barbie's barn for the evening.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Too busy to date??

So I'm a single guy living in Chi-Town and I'm looking for a nice woman to date, that much is pretty obvious to just about everyone who reads my blog regularly....though I do try to keep mentions of dates out of the blog. That said, since before August, I've had virtually no free time in the evenings to HAVE any dates even if they should pop up. How disturbing is that?

For instance, one friend wants to set me up with her co-worker. Fine, I appreciate the thought. But I can't even meet this woman for another 10 days at a minimum! That's not right. Another woman that I met on eHarmony and I haven't been able to work out our schedule since before August and I'm not sure I'll be able to make it work before Labor Day. Something is going to have to give. If I'm out there doing all this work trying to meet someone, why bother if I don't have time to actually go on a date. Ugh. Well, at least most of the stuff are fun things, but seriously, I need an 8th day in the week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's raining in Amsterdam and Chicago, coincidence?

For the second straight Wednesday it rained in Chicago and my softball double-header was canceled. This week, after making the hour long drive through rush hour, at least I made it onto the field for some fielding practice before the games were called. Of course the first ball hit to me in practice takes a hop off the heel of my glove into my protective cup. Nice. Welcome back after 2 1/2 weeks off. Actually I think I've played one game in the last three weeks and Saturday we have a big state tournament: 8 teams, all powerhouses who we have beaten and who have beaten us. Should be a real blood match of a day. Could be the best tournament we'll play all year.

The only good thing about the rain is that I was able to come home, talk to Joisey Ken for a bit, open a bottle of my favorite wine of all time (currently at least) and get to see the rain-delayed Cubs game. Not a bad consolation prize.

Today I went to see a friend of mine who is working in the accounts payable area of the new Batman movie- Rory's First Kiss, at least that's the working title in Chicago. In fact, she called me at work and the number popped up on our caller i.d. as Rory's First Kiss. I turned to Ricardo, "Rory's First Kiss. Are you calling porno hot lines again?" Ha!!

While I was on my various journeys the past few weeks, two large trees on my block were removed due to Dutch Elm Disease, the silent killer (well, have you ever heard a tree with Dutch Elm Disease scream? I thought not.). When was the last time that you even heard about Dutch Elm Disease? I thought it was over. It had that one hot string 20+ years ago, but then I thought it was basically done. Apparently not. In fact, my neighbor thinks most of the elm trees on the block actually have it, which is supported to some degree by how the disease spreads. Anyway, it's amazing how much sunlight those trees blocked. An entire area of the sky is opened up when I walk outside now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

An Epiphany.

Today at the office I discussed my Harry Potter entry with Ricardo over lunch and it went something like this:

So Ricardo, are you into Harry Potter at all?

"No, not really."

Never read the books or saw the movies?


So my blog yesterday didn't mean much to you did it?

"Nope. What was with that one character?"

Dolores Umbridge? It's a long story, but she was really unpleasant. She was heavy handed, over bearing, intolerable, unpleasant, unfair and close-minded to the facts.

"Sounds like a business person we know."

Yeah, that freakin' a-hole Tao. YEAH!! You're right!! That's why the story had such an impact on me. It's not that J.K. Rowling is such an amazing writer (no offense J.K.), but that I could relate Harry Potter to one of the more traumatic times in my life, leaving Morningstar. Plus, the more I thought about it, Albus Dumbledor, the great wizard, stood by and did nothing about Dolores Umbridge, much like Joe Mansueto, the billionaire, stood by and did nothing about Tao.

We are not so different you and I, Harry Potter.

After that epiphany, anything else I write today would be fluff.

Monday, August 13, 2007

How good are the Harry Potter books?

Went out and saw the latest Harry Potter installment in the theater, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The reason I really wanted to see it (and actually have wanted to see it for two weeks) is that I thought it was the movie based on book 6 and wanted to refresh my aging memory prior to reading book 7. Unfortunately, the movie is actually based on book 5, so it didn't help me with horcruxes at all.

The movie did remind me of what a terrible time I had reading book 5. The author did an outstanding job of developing the character and story around Dolores Umbridge. I hated this woman and hated just about every single chapter she was in. Imagine if you will, and maybe you had the same experience, reading the story and just hating what the character was doing and vocalizing "Why the hell doesn't someone do something!!" That was me and I'm never like that, with books at least. So when I found out the movie was about this book, my emotions became mixed about seeing it.

Fortunately the movie has less time to develop her character and while I still despise the character, it wasn't nearly as painful as reading the book. Yay!!

I spoke with Movie-Mate-Maria regarding one of the characters, Emma Thompson. MMM mentioned that we never saw Emma Thompson (playing Sybill Trelawney) again after her near expulsion. "Sure we did, she was Bellatrix Lestrange right?" Nope, said MMM, she played Sybill. "Really? I thought for sure Emma Thompson was Bellatrix. Wait, I'm thinking of Emma Samms. Is that right? Does Emma Samms look anything like Bellatrix?" Judge for yourself. I may still be right!!!

Helena Bonham Carter who played Bellatrix Lestrange.

Emma Samms who from Dynasty and General Hospital. Different people? I think not.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Whatever happened to economies of scale?

Very disappointing outcome to softball this weekend. The team, sans-Joe, went 1-1 on Friday night winning the first game and losing the second. We didn't have all of our regulars there, but ran away with the first game only to be run over in the second. That meant today we would play only one game. If we lost, that would be it and if we won, we'd play through the losers bracket on Sunday playing possibly 6 games. Unfortunately, we didn't even GET to Sunday. We lost 8-7 today. The game went back and forth as the score would indicate, but with last at bats, we didn't even get a hit in the last two innings. Ugh. After not having played in two weeks, I went 2-4 with 2 runs scored and played decently on defense at shortstop. I'm the fourth option at shortstop, so that tells you about our team today. Two of the first three options were there, but we needed them in the outfield. Our defense didn't really hurt us though, it was mostly our hitting or lack thereof.

So I came home from Joliet disappointed about our performance. I was going to head down the street to a friend's house with whom I haven't spent much time recently, but his daughter had a fever and then suffered seizures of some sort. She's susceptible to them apparently but is ok now. Instead of going over there I decided to order a pizza and watch the Bears preseason game.

As I ordered my pizza, from Pequod's one of my favorite thin crust pizzas in Chicago, something didn't seem right about the menu. Here's what I saw:

Small Medium Large

10" 12" 16"
Cheese only 6.95 9.25 13.25
Extra ingredient 1.35 1.75 2.4

Normally I order the large and then have extras for several days. Sounds pretty normal right? But I looked at the information above and instinctively ordered a medium instead (with pepperoni). Why? Well, it's $4 for an extra four inches (of pizza you sickos) which is $1 an inch. That would translate to $12 for the medium at that rate right? So screw that. If you do the math for a one ingredient pizza, the SMALL is actually the best deal at $.83 per inch, followed by the medium at $.917 and the large is the worst deal at $.98 per inch. Well what the hell?!?! How long have other pizza places been screwing me? And where's the economies of scale that we've come to expect? Don't we have an unwritten rule with businesses where they sell us a lot more than we need for a little more money? That's what Costco and Walmart are all about!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

The luckiest table of all time.

It may seem like all I do is golf and lately that's not far from the truth. Yesterday was an outing with a client and two auditors who are potential referral sources. Good guys, all of them, and we walked the course with caddies so it was really hot, but fun and good exercise. By the way, if you don't live around here, our weather has been really, really hot and humid (90 degrees or so). The course was very nice (Ridgemoor Country Club) and every time I play there I think I should join because it's very close and isn't crazy, crazy expensive.

Today the weather remained hot and humid and yes, I went golfing again! The event today was a fund raiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. While I was excited about playing and in particular shooting with my buddy Joe D. (I went to his wedding in Sarasota in May), I did have to make a trade-off since my softball team had two games tonight as well as part of a state tournament. Since I had already committed to the even though and the softball tournament was almost last minute, I stuck with golf (plus we had plenty of guys to fill in).

Joe and I were teamed up with Ken and Alan, neither of whom golf much as evidenced by their playing in tennis shoes. We were playing a scramble though where everyone hits and you play the best shot of the group. Everyone hits again from that spot and you take the best result again. Lots of fun easier to play than struggling with just your shots. Here are some pictures:

Had to start with this shot. A guy, now out of the picture, was supposed to hit the ball left and instead it went off the end of his club over the houses on the right almost perpendicular to the proper direction. Ha!

Me, Joe D., Alan and Ken, taken with the camera on a timer and obviously very low to the ground. Don't we look huge?!?!?

A nice dogleg left. Notice the clouds? They go away soon enough.

What a great looking par 3. Still some clouds.

A nice hole with no clouds in the sky!

Not a cloud in the sky by the late afternoon. This was an uphill par 5. Very scenic.

So we plugged away on the course, but we just didn't have the talent to get it done. We finished at -1 and the winner was at -10. However, I did hit a nice drive on the longest drive hole, temporarily taking over the longest drive lead. We were the second or third group though, so even though it was 280 yards, I was pretty sure it wouldn't hold up.

If you're not familiar with this part of the event, you write your name on the placard and move it to where your drive stopped if it's further than where the placard was previously. We started on hole 15 and this was hole 16.

But guess what? It did hold up!! There were two foursomes per hole for a total of 144 players and I won longest drive! Whoo-hoo!!! Not only that, my playing partner Joe D. won the closest to the pin contest. Another pic:

Ken, me, Joe D. and Alan. Joe and I won those trophies for our nice shots.

Joe and I winning set up the funny part of the evening. We both participated in a 50-50 drawing where you pay $10 and if you win, you get half the pot. Instead of a typical ticket though, they had a deck of cards and they would rip a card in half and give you half and keep half for the drawing. Well, because of the number of people they had to use three decks, all with different backs. When they picked the winner, they called four of spades, which Joe D. had!! Up jumps Joe, high-fiving people and heading up to collect his winnings. Nope, wrong four of spades. The winner was from one of the other decks. Doh.

Later, Joe's Uncle Frank announced the winning foursome and then followed with the longest drive winner, me, and the closest to the pin winner, Joe D. Joe and I were sitting right next to each other. Then they started doing the raffle and there were only a few prizes: a basket of booze, a golf bag and a trip to Cancun. First was the booze and they called out "370246" which was my number!! Awesome!!!

I'm going to have to keep this stash away from el supremo de NM. No doubt.

So then they call the second number, "370250". And Joe D. jumps up right next to me! "I won!" And again he starts high-fiving people and heading up to the stage to collect his prize. Ala Derek Zoolander though, Joe D. did not win. I knew Joe had 370240 and wondered why he got all excited after the number was read. I wasn't going to rain on his parade though as he'd already gone up once with no reward. Maybe I heard it wrong. Nope. Poor Joe D. Two trips up to the podium and no prize. We laughed hysterically though. And then the guy on the other side of me won the trip to Cancun!! What a lucky table!!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sunday and Monday, the final days.

Sunday brought another beautiful day and another day of golfing. Just look at these scenes of the course we played, Woodloch Springs:

Just a beautiful dog-leg right hole. Look at those trees and that sky. Not one green was even close to being flat. Putts were sailing all over the place. You were always putting up or down or across a hill.

Looking across a hole or two. Just great.

What a pretty hole and gorgeous morning!!

Here are the guys! Me, Frank, Joisey Ken and Captain Jeff. Took this picture with the timer feature. Not bad.

Fortunately my thumb injury did not impact my swing at all. That was one of two things that raced through my head while I had the hook in there. First was that if I just ripped the hook out, I might snag something and then not be able to throw a softball.

Sunday afternoon brought more boating, more jet skiing and more of Joe looking like a white Michael Jackson (I know some of you will be surprised that MJ isn't already white). I was actually allowed to drive the pontoon boat, which gave Captain Jeff a break. If I must say so myself, I did a great job through the many, many wakes generated by the other boats and jet skis. Maybe next time I'm up north, my pop will let me drive the boat. It's like I'm still 12!

Monday morning the weather turned cloudy and it was time to return the boat. Ken, Mark and me, again with the timer function on my camera.

Ken drove me Newark and the trip home on Monday was pretty easy. Next time, I'll try booking a flight into Newark and out of Scranton, which is a lot closer to the lake house.

A few last things: we lit fireworks every night, very cool. And then Monday morning Hoboken Dawn made pancakes with fresh blueberries. How awesome is that?

Some of the people staying there tried to convince me that the new Halloween movie coming out was Halloween 3. I tried to tell them that it was already made (years ago) and several additional sequels as well. Here's the list:
Halloween (1978)

Halloween II (1981)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) This is the one with the mask with a chip in it.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Halloween 5 (1989)

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

There may have even been another one since then.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Michael Jackson and the fish hook

Still trying to catch up on stories from last weekend. This entry is long and covers only Saturday.

When I left you last, I was happily sleeping on Friday night after the big rain storm went through, forcing Ken to grill in the rain. Saturday morning however brought a fantastic morning weatherwise and I slept in, being the second to last of the 11 people in the house to get downstairs for breakfast.....and that was 9:00. Some early risers up there let me tell ya.

Anyway, after "whacking down" a couple of bagels as Ken likes to say and a couple of cups of coffee, I prepared for a day on the lake. Two of the guys went to get the pontoon boat early in the morning (we were renting one for the weekend) and had it down at the dock by the time I had my coffee. The whole group was heading down and I was following. As we walked down to the water's edge, we saw Hedge Fund Mark looking on as a young lad of 12 or so landed a good sized small mouth bass. After applying some sunscreen, I was ready to hit the boat, the water and the jet ski. Loads of fun awaited. Then Mark came over and said, "This kid can't get the hook out of the fish. Can you help him?" Now, I'm not a huge fisherman, but I was a day camp counselor for two summers and we went fishing several times a week.

So sure, I went over to help the kid out. This leads me to my favorite saying, "No good deed goes unpunished." Upon examining the fish, I realized the lad had caught the bass with a lure that had two treble hooks on it. What I failed to recall was that all of my fishing experience has been with single hooks. HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!

This is a typical treble hook used in fishing.

Well, after grabbing the fish, I tried to get the hook out of the mouth. The back treble hook stuck my index finger on my left hand, but only went in a small bit. This, as it turns out, was a warning shot from the lure. The next time it stuck me, it stuck me good, burying a barb into the side of my thumb on my right hand. With the help of Captain Jeff, we were able to get the fish off the lure at this point, but the hook was still stuck in my thumb and it was deep. Ken got a pair of pliers (what I should have used in the first place by the way) to help pull out the hook. No matter how much I maneuvered the hook (pushing, pulling, pressing, turning, twisting) while it was in my thumb, I was not able to dislodge it. When Captain Jeff finally said, "I read somewhere that there's a trick to doing have to.....push it in and pull it back or cut the hook and then push the barb forward through the rest of your thumb." that's when I said, can someone please take me to the emergency room and we'll just get a doctor to take it out.

Unfortunately, who wants to volunteer to take my sorry ass to the hospital instead of going out on a boat and drinking and having fun all day? Well, I guess I was Ken's responsibility for the weekend, so he volunteered like the true buddy he is and off we went. I had the lure still attached to the hook which was obviously embedded in my thumb, quite a crazy mental picture. I would have taken a picture, but the camera wasn't the first thing on my mind. Clearly I couldn't drive as I elevated my hand with the lure to keep the bleeding to a minimum.

Once in the car, we realized we didn't know where we were going and had to ask some neighbors. The closest place was about 20+ minutes away, not much fun if you have a barbed hook in your hand. We made it though and after waiting for 40 minutes or so, I was able to get in and see the nurse:

"So what's wrong Mr. Sutton.....oh, I see."
"Yeah, I have a hook in my hand."
"Otherwise how are you today?"
"Well, the hook in the hand pretty much dominates my state of mind right now."
"Ok, let's take your pulse.......60 bpm."
"Not bad for having a hook in my hand."
"No it's not. Let's take your blood pressure.......122 over 80."
"That's a bit higher than normal for me."
"Well, you do have a hook in your hand."

The doctor numbed the thumb, made an incision and got the hook out.
"Ok Mr. Sutton, the hook's out. We're going to bandage it up. Keep it dry for the next few days."
"Um, no getting it wet?"
"That's right."
That obviously caused a dilemma for me as I was there to jet ski and such.
"What if I used those latex gloves over there."
"Hmmmm, that might be ok."
Boom, there it was, my answer to the weekend problems. I'd jet ski with a latex glove on!! Would I look gay? Absolutely. Would I look possibly retarded? Without a doubt. Would I be able to have water fun? Yes!!

The whole trip to the ER took about three hours round trip, maybe four after I had to get my prescription filled for antibiotics. Ken was great about missing the water time and was able to still get in a few hours on the water when we got back to the house. I went into the water as well, with the latex glove on and yes, I looked much like a Michael Jackson worshiper or boat happy proctologist ........ or in Kramer's terms, The Ass Man!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Kilts and hooks and fireworks, oh my.

Finishing up the weekend discussion:

Friday we got up early and headed to Ballyowen Golf Club in northern NJ. We were running a few minutes late but really wanted to take some practice swings. They were supposed to have range balls to hit, but they were out so we couldn't even do that. We headed up to the first tee and were greeted by a curmudgeon in a kilt who told us we were "on the tee". That meant no time for putting practice either. I dropped a ball on the practice green and hit a putt and the kilted ranger said, "You're on the tee!" This ranger nazi theme would continue throughout the day unfortunately.

The course itself was very nice with fewer trees and more high grass in the rough as it emulated a links style course. Links are originally Scottish, hence the kilts on some, but not all, of the rangers. I wonder if you have a choice....hmmmmm. Anyway, the rangers kept politely badgering us, but at one point I had enough. Some innocent older ranger (about 75 or so) came hobbling onto the green while we were putting. I shot a nasty comment at him in the vein of "Are you going to keep walking while I putt or stand still?" Now he had already picked up the flag for us and turned out to be a nice guy and all and probably wasn't going to say anything to us about our pace (which was well ahead of the group behind us), but my fuse was lit and he was too close.

Anyway, the rest of the round was fun despite our playing partners. One of the two guys must have spent several thousand dollars on his clubs and talked a blue streak about his sticks, but we routinely outhit him for distance off the tee. His putting stroke was good, I'll have to give him that. The other guy, also named Ken, was a complete hack. He took 4 shots out of one bunker and even turned to his buddy after one of the shots and said, "I wasn't even looking at the ball during that swing." What the hell is that?

After the round we headed up to PA and Lake Wallenpaupack. On the way though we stopped to get Ken some cigars. In the next building over from the cigar store was a store that sold little knick-knacks and "God bless this house" signs and the like, in addition to fireworks!! Too funny. I went in the there and bought this four foot high box of fireworks originally priced at $100 for $35. What a deal, post Fourth of July and all.

Then, finally, we got to the house on the lake. Here are some shots of the house:

Yes, that's a little waterfall in front of the house. It has a huge wrap-around porch!

Charlie was too tired to move out of the sun apparently.

Yep, that's one tired pooch. Did I mention it was about 95 degrees and extremely humid? Hoboken Dawn said the house had never been that hot. Oh, and where was Joe's room? The top floor. Ouch.

This is the yard and driveway looking up from the deck.

Finally the heat broke due to a cold front passing through. That meant heavy, steady rain for about an hour or so. Unfortunately Ken had already started grilling dinner. What to do? Simply move the grill under the canopy.....seemed to make sense to us!

After the heat broke, the upstairs room was as cool as any other in the house and remained that way through the weekend.

Tomorrow, the dreaded treble hook story and the near collapse of the weekend.
(that's known as a teaser by the way)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Back in the house!

Ooooooh, so many things to write about!! Where to begin? First, let me correct my last entry. In The Office, they visited Lake Wallenpaupack for the booze-cruise episode.

Since it's late and I'm beat, I'm going to post the pictures for Thursday and then hit what happened Friday through Sunday tomorrow.

First stop after getting off the plane? Bada Bing of course. It's 10 minutes from Ken's house. It's actually called Satin Dolls. The inside really looks like it does on tv, except the women have bikinis nudity. Weird.

This is the side door that one dancer, I think, was dragged out and shot. Or maybe it was Chris' wife? The "dirty who-o-r-e".

We had breakfast on Ken's back porch Thursday morning. His hot tub sits in the background.

Oh, and that's the New Jersey bagel breakfast sandwich....good eating. I'm not sure if a meal went by that I didn't have a bagel. Yum.

Charlie the 10 year old dog of Hoboken Dawn, Ken's girlfriend. This pic is inside Dawn's home.

The Yankee Clipper crew! Joisey Ken, Hoboken Dawn and Principal Natalie, Dawn's friend.

The Clipper makes three or four stops on the way, but they are really quick about getting people on and off. It's a smart way to get to the game. You can bring food and beer to have on the way!

Some views from the Clipper:

On to the ball game!! Here's the stadium from the boat.

The world series championships since 1950. Crap. No wonder I hate the Yankees.

Here's the lineups for the day. This pic is from our seats. Roger Clemens against Jon Garland. I think the last time the Sox faced Clemens was in the 2005 World Series game which I attended and the Sox shelled him.

The Sox shell Clemens again scoring 8 runs in the second inning. Hope you can see that on the scoreboard.

Nice job Garland. The Yankees come back with 8 runs of their own in the bottom of the second inning!! 16 total runs in one

The Sox did end up winning though.