Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Getting up earlier and earlier. "Damn it's dark at 7 a.m."

Yesterday I got up at 7 and this morning I was up at 6:30. At this rate, by next week, it will be pointless for me to even go to bed. Actually I'm already bailing on my morning meeting tomorrow so I don't have to be into the office until 10. When you're used to being somewhere by 10, having to get somewhere by 8 or 9 can really throw you off kilter. I know, I know, no one's crying for me. That's ok though.

Today the Fed cut their interest rate by 1/4 of a point. This did not cause a rise in oil to above $95, but it does have an impact on the price of oil. Here's an interesting, short article explaining how the rate cut impacts the price of oil. One interesting comment in the article though is that the price of oil already reflected the rate cut, which, since the cut was expected, seems logical. The drop in crude inventory is what compounded the impact on the price of oil. Interesting stuff.

This weekend the Patriots and the Colts will be playing each other in the game of the year so far. Two undefeated teams (both 7-0 I believe), both with Super Bowl aspirations. The Patriots are 5-9 to win the Super Bowl as the odds on favorite and the Colts are second at 5-2. The Bears by the way are now 50-1 after starting off the year at 6-1.

Anyway, the Patriots and Colts used to be in the same division and I heard on the radio today that they play so regularly now (in the playoffs because they both win so regularly and during the regular season because the NFL matches up division winners almost every year) that it's almost like a divisional rivalry again. So that got me to thinking: who is currently in the Colts division? That's my question to you. Don't cheat, but the answer is at the bottom of yesterday's entry. It actually took me about 5-10 minutes to come up with the teams....and I play fantasy football!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Up way too late for having a breakfast meeting.

Busy, busy, busy day today. After getting up at the ripe ol'hour of 7 a.m., I was at the office by 9 to hook up with Ricardo and el supremo. We had a seminar that we were putting on at 4 and potential clients in the office at 3 and much drinking and eating from 6 o'clock on. So prior to 3 I had to do a prep work for my client meetings tomorrow as well as set up three additional lawyer meetings over the next two days.

In addition, I had a long conference call with a third party administrator of a client's 401(k) plan and then another conversation explaining my previous conversation to the client.

It was all good and useful, but I was beat by the end of the day. Now it's off to bed because I have a morning breakfast meeting.

The highlight of the day however was obtaining Dane Cook tickets off of Craigslist for face value for the nearly sold out show this Saturday. MWrigley was very excited and surprised. It was a doubly good day for her because I sent her flowers today as well.

Here's a picture of me, BB and Larry from dinner last Thursday. This was at the third Frenchy restaurant that I was at in the last month or so if you remember. Yeah, it's grainy, but it was a cell phone and I had forgotten my camera. Beggars can't be choosers!!

Answer to tomorrow's question: Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans.

Monday, October 29, 2007

All over the board today

Greetings from my computer, which I didn't have access to for a good chunk of the afternoon due to walking out my front door without my keys. While I do have a back up plan in place for just such an event, that was thrown asunder after I had temporarily given my extra keys to Manual Labor Mike. Ugh.

Gar, one of the gents who sits in front of me at the game, took this picture of MWrigley and me on Sunday and sent it today. We had stopped by Gar's tailgate on the way into the stadium (we just happened to see his crew by pure coincidence) and they adorned MWrigley with the purple beads. It's a nice look I think! She was a hit with the guys in the section and they made sure to make light of me at every opportunity. When the public address announcer came on with the phone number for obnoxious fans, no fewer than 8 people in my section pointed at me as they started looking for their cell phones. Bastards.

The metal girder right behind my head makes a great thumping noise if you hit it with your hand or fist. It's our own noisemaker! Sam Adams Oktoberfest was the beer of choice at the game by the way.

El Supremo de NM is in town tonight and for the next several days, so you know what that means kids: lots of eating and drinking. To be fair, I could refrain from doing either to excess, but to lay blame, I usually only go to excess when he's in it's fun to rib him about it!!

(sports talk)
Griese was not particularly good on Sunday, but not as bad as the untrained eye (or drunk eye) might think. He threw four interceptions, three of them in the endzone. Certainly not good. One ball was tipped though and the defender made a nice play. One was just a really bad "Grossman-esque" throw. The third seemed to be the receiver's fault as he looked at Griese on the line of scrimmage and shrugged his shoulders and held up his hands like he didn't know where he was supposed to run. The ball came his way, generally, but he was definitely not where Griese thought he should be. The fourth interception was a weak effort by the receiver to either catch the ball or knock it down. Two of his throws were with defensive players in his face or at his feet which prevented him from stepping into his throws. Not an excuse, just saying.

I do think that Griese read too much of his press clippings this week though after winning offensive player of the week last week. Instead of managing the game, he tried to do too much and win the game instead of just not lose it. If just the endzone interceptions are turned into field goals, the resulting 9 points would have tied the score.

What I'd like to see is Orton named starting QB now. Why? Grossman isn't the guy, we all know that. Griese isn't the long term guy either; we all know that too. So why not see what Orton can do with a reasonable amount of talent around him on offense? At 3-5 now, you really have nothing to lose this year. Making the change now gives him an extra week to practice with the bye week off.

Finally, Danieal Manning had an absolutely horrible game. The guy couldn't tackle Stephen Hawking and had a miserable pass interference call for about 35 yards on a critical play. Boooooo Manning.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Shopping and Tailgating

Saturday did indeed turn out to be a pretty sweet day. It started with me heading down to MWrigley's around 10 and we headed to brunch at Flo, where I had a chorizo scramble that was really tasty.

After eating our fill, we headed to Hoffman Estates to the new Cabela's store out there to find some warm tailgating clothes for MWrigley in case the weather on Sunday was as cool as the weathermen predicted.

On the way home, we stopped at Woodfield Mall to do some light shopping, or so I thought. We ended up and Nordstrom's where MWrigley displayed her shoe shopping fetish. Fortunately I had my Starbucks and a comfy chair, so I just sat back and watched. Though externally I was supportive, internally I was definitely happen when she passed on the $250 pair of European flats that the sales person brought out for her to try on in addition to her requested, more reasonable pair of Steve Madden's.

Once we got home (after a quick stop at White Castle for a snack to tide us over until dinner), we headed to Jewel and Whole Paycheck to get the ingredients for Sunday's tailgate. On the menu: the usual breakfast sandwich (English muffin, Candian bacon, cheese and egg), bacon wrapped barbecue shrimp, bacon wrapped figs, and cheese filled hot dogs topped with, for the first time, three-pepper three-meat chili. Yep, THREE kinds of meat: beef, Italian sausage and bacon. Mmmmmm, it was delicious.

Today started early with the extra stop to pick up MWrigley, which was only kind of on the way. As it turns out though, we got to the tailgate about 15 minutes earlier than I normally do. So at 9:15 a.m., we set up the grill, chairs and table. The weather was a little nippy(mid 50's), but not as cold as the weathermen predicted (mid 40's with a high of 51).

We started with the breakfast sandwiches (which were delicious) and then moved onto the bacon wrapped shrimp and figs. It's been a while since I've had the figs and damn were they good!! Wow! Since that was already a ton of food, we opted to hold off on the chili and chili dogs until after the game. When we finally cooked them up though, they were great too!

The group in our little corner of the Waldron Deck parking structure.

The ladies, Kleveland Kim and MWrigley. Not sure what they were talking about, but I'm sure it wasn't good for me!

Naperville Greg and me after the game as we wait for the chili to heat up.

I'm holding off on any discussion of the game as I'm wayyyyy too unhappy about it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday Golf

Friday was much fun as I was able to go golfing and enjoy the beautiful day with three good friends: T-Rex Tim, Joe D (who got married in Sarasota earlier this year) and my ex-upstairs neighbor Mike. We tried a new course, Glenview Park Golf Club, because I had won a free foursome there at a charity outing at some point this summer. The course wasn't bad at all and we walked it since the weather was so nice.

While we played relatively well on the front nine, we really sucked it up on the back. It was the first time most of us have played in a while.

(camera resting on a divot repair box)

After golf, we headed to a bar called The Yard which has 170 beers on tap, or some outlandish number like that. Pretty cool. Appetizers were half priced, so we got a barbecue chicken pizza for $5 and woofed it down.

MWrigley was out late on Thursday with co-workers, so we didn't see each other on Friday. Big plans on Saturday though with brunch, a trip to Cabela's and then preparing for the tailgate on Sunday to which I invited her, Naperville Greg and Kleveland Kim. Should be a great weekend.

Friday, October 26, 2007

"I kicked him three times and he didn't move." Alternate Title: Another Frenchy Restaurant??

Yes, Amercian Lakeview Coffee Joe ended up at his THIRD Frenchy restaurant in the last month. Wow. Who would have thought? Fortunately my dad doesn't read my blog every day. Whew.

The first restaurant was Cafe Matou on Milwaukee and I went with Ricardo and el supremo. The food was quite tasty and, with the exception of the sommelier who I thought I might punch at any moment, the experience was very pleasant. Then, while in Albuquerque the group of us went to Le Cafe Miche. The food was again very, very good. So the odds of me going to a third Frenchy restaurant that actually had: 1) good food 2) reasonably priced 3) not girl portions; was slim and none. I was wrong.

Yeah that's right, I admitted I was wrong. Enjoy it.

So this restaurant was Bistro Campagne on north Lincoln in the Lincoln Square area of town. While not inexpensive ($20-$25 entrees and $7-$10 appetizers), it wasn't too bad. I had the French onion soup (couldn't help myself, I just love it) and then baked chicken over a mushroom sauce of some sort. It was a huge chunk of chicken and very, very good. All three entrees at the table were almost licked clean. Good stuff. Wine seemed expensive, so I went with beer.

Pictures to follow soon.

Ricardo went over to Dominick's yesterday to pick up lunch (I brought mine) and on the way back in he saw a guy passed out/unconscious on the sidewalk down the street a bit. After coming inside and telling me about it, he went back out to check on the guy. Apparently, in an effort to determine if he was sleeping/coherent/(un)conscious/dead, Ricardo kicked him three times to see what would happen. Garnering little response, he came back in and called 911 (and in Chicago I'm sure they love these calls). The police and an ambulance came fairly quickly. The three cops who should up first were just kind of standing around him as if to say, "I'm not going to touch him. You touch him. " "No sirree, I'm not going to touch him." Pretty comical. Won't know what happened to the guy, but at least Ricardo did something!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dinner Report

Well, good news on the dinner front. The catfish turned out great!! The recipe called for pecans, but while at the Whole Paycheck, I realized that I wasn't sure I even LIKED pecans all that much. So instead of pecans, I used crushed pistachios which I already had at home. MWrigley had cornmeal, which I was going to substitute out for crumbs since I couldn't find them at WF, but that would have been a bad move on my part.

The side dish is my signature acorn squash with a brown sugar, butter and raisin sauce. Mmmmm was it good.

The wine was a Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Carmenere (30%) from Chile. It was pretty tasty.

(You can click on these pics to blow them up.)

As an appetizer, I bought some Dolmehs (rice and spices wrapped in grape leaves) and then made some Caprese, but added sliced Italian salami. Both were delicious.

Someone has to clean up right? Actually I think I was still cooking at this point.

The catfish was cooked at 500 degrees and I didn't flip it like I normally would. It came out really tender and tasty and fully cooked.

Post dinner was pool lessons for MWrigley. All in all, a good evening!

Tonight I'm hooking up with some ex-coworkers and heading up to Lincoln Square for dinner. We try to get together every couple of months just to catch up. Should provide good fodder for tomorrow's entry!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

As the weather changes, so do The Days of Our Lives.

Big change for me today!! As most of you know, I read the comics every night before I go to bed. Unfortunately, I travel, sometimes I get drunk or am way too tired to read and just plunk down and fall asleep. All of which causes me to miss days of comics. However, I save the comics so that I don't miss a single day if possible. This practice has led to me being over two months behind on comics!! Yes, I have them stacked up next to my bed on the lower shelf of my nightstand.

To combat this ever growing pile of paper, I've decided to read the current day's comics in the morning and then read a back issue at night. In two months I'll be all caught up! Just in time for Christmas!!

MWrigley and I had a great evening together last night eating Thai food and laying on the sofa watching t.v. She's trying to get me into watching Bones and Law and Order: SVU. These are shows that I typically don't watch because: 1) they don't really "entertain" me in the way that The Simpsons or Family Guy does. 2) unless they create some really weird-ass scenario (like the victim was buried in a compost pile that generates internal heat of 175 degrees), I figure out what's going on in about 15 minutes leaving me with 45 minutes to say, "Really? No shit. Where were you 30 minutes ago when I figured that out?" 3) dramatic television acting is HORRIBLE! Freaking Ice-T is God awful and that blond prosecutor broad (Yeah, I said it!) is the worst.

Tonight I'm cooking for us and am making Pecan Catfish. Seems fairly simple. I'm hoping that my acorn squash with brown sugar and raisins will go well with it. We'll see. Of course, MWrigley just appreciates the effort.

In order to make dinner, I had to head to the grocery store and today I opted for the new Whole Paycheck right around the corner from me. Under ground and heated parking was a nice start to the trip, but clearly there isn't enough and it will be a zoo once people realize the store is there and is open. The trip should have been short since I really only needed three things: catfish, pecans and corn meal. A trip to WF's is never short though.

Here's my mental dialogue:
Where's the meat counter? Oh, back there. Ok....meat....pork....chicken...more meat.....even more meat. Where the hell is the fish? Oh, there's a whole OTHER counter for fish? Geesh. Ok, one ingredient down. Corn meal next. Couldn't find the corn meal. Looked everywhere, no corn meal. Screw them, I have something at home. Next is pecans. Every freaking kind of nut on the PLANET and no pecans. Oh, there they are. Hmmmmm, not sure I like pecans. Maybe I'll use the pistachios I have at home. Yeah, that should work. What should I serve as an appetizer? How about mozzarella balls and tomatoes? Mmmm, sounds good. Are those Dolmehs? They are!! Sweet, I'll take a few of those too.

What I left out of my dialogue is all the stuff related to organic food selections. Good Lord people, get over yourselves. Do we really need four kinds of organic egg plant? And the doofis hipsters that are running around that place are absolutely retarded! Not to mention the ultra-pretentious J.A.P.'s. Ugh. Made me reconsider holding the stock.....until I paid for my stuff.....$25. Good Lord. I'm going back to Jewel.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who am I? Who are you? (not a kid friendly entry)

If the Steelers don't blow their game against Denver on a last second field goal, I would have won my confidence pool two weeks in a row!! Thanks black and gold. Bastards. That doesn't count as a sports entry. It's more of a gambling comment.

Here's an article on a study of identity theft. They researchers studied 517 cases that were closed by the Secret Service between 2000 and 2006. The FTC claims 3 million people have their identity stolen each year. So you're going to tell me that these researchers can legitimately claim a sample of 74 cases a year is statistically significant and can be extrapolated out over a 3 million person population size and relevant conclusions can be drawn from that data? You have to be fucking kidding me!

First of all, why only 517 cases in seven years? Please don't tell me that's all that were actually solved out of the 21 million cases of identity theft. The real conclusion should be that if your identity is stolen then you're fucked because apparently nobody in any position of authority can stop the thieves. Unbelievable. Don't even get me started on tearing apart the other conclusions they drew. For example, 80% of the cases involved the thief working solo......or with one other person. Well then they aren't fucking solo are they, so why even mention it?!? Good Lord. I hate researchers. Maybe I should devote a blog just to ripping them.

Seems like maybe I'm a bit ornery. Not entirely sure why.

In the spirit of Motherrocker, I'm going to go through my closet this week and toss stuff that I don't or won't wear. Actually I'll take it to my folks' place for a garage sale or drop it off with the Salvation Army. Either way, it will be out of my closet!! Look out malls!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend wrap up

(Sports discussion first)

Saturday was the final local softball tournament of the year for our team. It was actually with competition a level higher than we normally play. We ended up going 2-2 in the 10 team tournament having lost to the second and third place teams as it turns out.

The big moment on the day for both me and the team, came in the bottom of the last inning of our last game. We were trailing 10-9 and got our first two batters on base and I was up to bat. A base hit and we'd tie the game. On the day up to that point I was 5-8 with a triple and two doubles, so things looked good for us. Unfortunately I didn't deliver and instead hit a fly ball to center field. The runner on second tagged up though and went to third, putting the tying run 65 feet away. Also unfortunately, the runner on first decided (late) to tag up and try to make second as the throw went into third. He was called out though he was actually safe from my point of view. So we went from runners on first and second with nobody out to a runner on third with two outs. Our leadoff hitter was up next and he continued his struggles on the day (5-13) by flying out to left. Shoot.

Not delivering in that situation really made me feel terrible. Sure, the runner on first shouldn't have gone (or shouldn't have delayed) or the guy after me could have delivered and there were plenty of other opportunities in the game to get a run (I was left on third once at least for instance), but I still felt like I let the team down.

(end sports discussion)

Sunday was a pretty great day. All weekend the weather was phenomenal with not a cloud in the sky and warmer than normal temperatures. After going to mass, I headed out to pick up MWrigley to go to a bar/restaurant to watch the Bears game at a location near the United Center where Bruce Springsteen was going to be performing. We were out there at about 2:30 and were met by my friends from Mokena, Terry and Sandie, at about 5 or so. The Bears game was pretty remarkable culminating in a 97 yard drive by Bears QB Brian Griese. And yes, he's the same guy who I said should have been playing the last half of LAST year. The Lombardi Trophy would reside in Chicago if he had been tabbed as the starter in week 9 of last year.

Regardless, the game was great to watch and the food, drink and company were all outstanding. We headed over to the UC at 7 and decided to hop in a cab, which turned out to not be the best idea because parking in the lots was only $15 and the cab ride was almost $10, plus we had to walk back after the concert because there were none to be found.

Our seats, $95 each but free to me, were behind the stage. I'm not entirely sure that mattered all that much though. Bruce still really puts on a show and Sunday was no different. Unfortunately I don't know much of his rather copious discography, but he did play several songs that I knew. Hints for going to a concerts:

1) if the entertainer has 15 albums over 25 years, try to know more than just a few songs.

2) try not to drink alcohol for the six hours before the concert (two bloody mary's, several beers) unless you have a huge bladder or one of those crazy astronaut chick diaper systems set up.

3) if you bring a camera, turn off the red-eye reduction light. If you don't know how to do that, don't bring your camera because you're probably an idiot and the picture won't turn out anyway.

4) unless you are within the first four rows of the stage, Springsteen is NOT pointing at YOU. Don't be stupid.

5) don't make the "horns" hand sign unless the band you're seeing is akin to Metallica.

In addition to Bruce, it was pretty cool to see the likes of Max Weinberg, Clarence Clemmons and Steven van Zandt aka Silvio on The Sopranos.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pics from Albuquerque

Here's a nice, easy post. Pictures!!! These are from my trip to Albuquerque. Thanks to Ricardo for remembering HIS camera, which I apparently couldn't.

Off we go:

Straight out of birds! The sun comes up behind the mountains in Albuquerque, so there is indirect sunlight for some portion of the morning while the mountains throw shade on the city. Makes for great pictures though!

The specs are balloons in the distance. The whole week was balloon fiesta week. Fun stuff.

Look at that blue! More balloons are in the distance.

The sun rising over the mountain. Seemed interesting to have the Chinese restaurant in the foreground. Not sure why I thought that....

Day one meeting. Notice Joe at the end of the table....probably blogging.

A view of the room from my end of the table.

Dinner time! A Frenchy place?!? Joe is not happy.

Ok, fine, I'll make the most of it. At least we had the Chef's table!! Nice job el supremo!! Craig1 in the foreground, Ricardo to the left, Mrs. el supremo, then el supremo and new recruit MH is next to me.

Our hosts for the three day excursion!

See!! Told you it was the Chef's table. Here's the Chef. He did a great job.

The food was sooooo good, that I draped myself in the french flag momentarily.

Ricardo actually went to the Fiesta fairgrounds for these balloon pictures. I woke up 45 minutes later and el supremo and I went to a nearby Starbucks to watch what we could.

Here's Ricardo with a cool balloon being inflated in the background.

Look at all the balloons!!

Cool pic from right underneath one as it rises.

They aren't all typical balloon shapes.

I don't even WANT to know what the hell this thing is. The red/pink striped thing is a lizard though.

"So I go to the balloon fiesta with my new bumble bee balloon and don't you know that bastard Nate had to bring HIS bumble bee balloon. I was so embarrassed."

Many balloons have corporate sponsors.

Look at them all in various stages of inflation and flight. Seems like anarchy.

But they are actually lined up pretty well.

You need to have a truck/van to own a balloon apparently.

This would be MY balloon if I had one.

Day two meeting room. Not as nice as day one, but still good.

Recruit MH, Craig2, me, AirForce Leslie, Ricardo, Craig1, el supremo and Mrs. el supremo.

Tighter meeting quarters=more productivity.

Me and AirForce Leslie. She's a commercial pilot, shes in the reserves, is a single mother and wants to do more. Good Lord.

Dinner at el supremo's. Notice my soup. One half is Vichyssoise and the other half is like tomato basil cream or something. It was a great mix.

Cheers to the end of the meetings!!

We decided to get up a little early and hike this trail before we headed to the airport. One hour out and one hour back.

Looking back from whence we came. The sun was in our face while hiking out and at our back while hiking back.

Just some piles of rocks. Cool pic though.

The main trail with Ricardo's shadow.

el supremo and I. We used ski poles as hiking sticks. They really work well and I was ready to use mine to fend off bears!!

Ricardo and el supremo.

Me trying to get a signal so I can text MWrigley during a water break. I wanted to let her know that I hadn't been eaten by bears yet.

Soon I would fly home!