Thursday, January 31, 2008
A huge snowstorm is hitting Chicago today, tonight and tomorrow. I've heard anywhere from 3 to 10 inches. Ugh. I hate snow. This is the fourth snowiest winter in the last 25 years and this snowfall could push us up to third. Enough already!!
Today I signed up for a personal trainer for the first time in my life. This guy is the trainer Ricardo used last year about this time and so that's how I know him. He's a good guy who has moved to a gym that's actually closer to my condo than my current gym. The rate is about $60 an hour, which is a bit less than I thought I would have to pay but right about where I wanted to pay. We'll see what kind of shape I end up in after 12 sessions. I consider it off season softball training....plus I need to look good for MWrigley!!
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
This morning, despite my annoying cough and general lethargy, I headed for my office at Hooker and Halsted. It was something like 2 degrees and -15 wind chill, which, needless to say, sucks. But I had a client meeting this afternoon so into the office I went. Upon my arrival, Ricardo told me to keep my coat on as it was 45 in the office and the heat wasn't working yet. Again, no heat. Our damn thermostat is a programmable beast that takes about 15 minutes to reset every time something goes wrong with it and you're never really sure that you've done anything to get it working anyway.
Finally today, Ricardo went off on the maintenance guy (Curious George) who came into the office and replaced the programmable beast with a manual basic thermostat. Unfortunately, but exactly in line with our expectations of Curious George, the thermostat was a heat only thermostat instead of heat and air conditioning. He swears he'll come back and change it. Sure, right.
My meeting was at 2 in the afternoon and by the time I got back at around 3:30, the office was back up to 72 degrees.
So, needless to say, my cough isn't much better today. :-(
Tomorrow is the last day you can vote early for the primaries! I'm going to head over to the advance polling place in my neighborhood and get it out of the way.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Now to my main topic: my guest bathroom. Unable to concentrate much, but wanting to accomplish something, I decided now was a good time to start tearing up my guest bathroom. Here are some pics!!
Here's the shower door after it's been removed and the stand up shower.
This is as far as I could go today as it filled up the garbage can. Not a bad start though.
The floor was already partially ripped up. Obviously much more to do.
The "before" picture of the wall that's going to be ripped out. Behind the frames on the left is a walled up window! I'm going to open it up and put in glass block. Should be cool.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Then the governor of Kansas gets on and starts talking about the President joining the Democrats to "get things done." Well why don't the Democrats join the President? And why didn't she actually offer solutions to anything? All she called for was unity, which won't happen unless the Dems win the White House. Instead of saying join the Dems to make the tough decisions in Iraq, why not offer what you think those tough decisions should be? I was very disappointed.
OMG, I just saw a clip on John Stewart of Mitt Romney with a group of black people saying, "Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?" You've gotta be shittin' me. That guy's a douche.
Temps hit in the mid to upper 40's in Chicago today! It wasn't sunny, but at least the temperature was nice. Most of the snow has melted. Sweet!
One week to the Super Bowl. In the past, I've had groups of people over to watch the game, but this year I think I'm going to be more reserved. Why? First, my basement is still half torn up from my August flood. Second, I still haven't bought a replacement television for the living room upstairs, so I'm down to two watchable tvs. Finally, I've had this really, really annoying cough that just won't go away. Last thing I want to do is annoy people during the commercials!!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Since there's no football this weekend, I've been catching up on Tivo. Sure, I could have done something productive around the house, but what's the point in that? Anyway, one of the shows I Tivoed is March of the Penguins. Some interesting facts about Emperor Penguins:
-There are many more female Emperors than males.
-Emperor Penguins walk and slide nearly 70 miles (taking 2 weeks of almost constant movement) to the mating grounds.
-Females that can't find a male, simply return to the see.
-After laying her egg, the female passes it to the male who will incubate the egg at 95 degrees (on top of his feet and under his fat, for nearly two months.
-The female doesn't hang around after passing the egg. She bails and heads back to sea, having lost almost 1/3rd of her body weight.
-Only 66% of eggs will hatch in any given year on average.
-When the storms come in, thousands of males will huddle together and slowly rotate who is on the outside of the pack and who is on the inside, thus insuring as many eggs as possible survive.
-When the male finally leaves the hatched egg (by passing it back to the mother who returns after feeding), he marches back to the sea with only about 1/2 of his original body weight in tact. They think this is why there are so many fewer males; many perish on this return trip to the sea.
It's a good movie by the way. Very informative.
Friday, January 25, 2008
I received an email today and instead of forwarding it to 10 people, I thought I'd post the information here on my site.
A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke. The trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions (STaR):
S Ask the individual to SMILE.
T Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE
(Coherently)(i.e. It is sunny out today)
R Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.
Another stroke indicator is to ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other , that is also an indication of a stroke.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
At first, you have to answer 6 questions for $10,000. If you get through those, you have to answer 4 more for $25,000. It continues like that until you play for $500,000. You can stop before any question is ASKED and leave with what money you've earned. Once a question is asked though, you have to answer and answer it truthfully (based on your polygraph test).
To add stress to the matter, they bring in a friend, your spouse/significant other and possibly someone from work or a relative.
While I said I would totally do this show in a heartbeat previously, now I'm not so sure. The questions they ask are really tough and possibly hurtful. This guy had his wife of two years sitting 20 feet away and the question was, "Have you put off having children with your wife because you're not sure she is going to be your life partner?" Ugh....he said yes. Double ugh. The polygraph confirmed that he was telling the truth. Triple ugh. She was crushed. Oddly, the three people watching can stop one question by hitting this buzzer. The host will read another question, which could be worse. She chose to hear that question. Needless to say, she wasn't particular warm towards him at the end of the show.
The next guy, we found out, belongs to the Hair Club for Men (actually no surprise, it's a terrible weave), has had perverted thoughts in church, believes he has a gambling addiction (he works at a race track!), has looked through his co-workers personal items without them knowing it and that he has padded his underwear to look more well endowed. Unbelievable. They really struck it rich with this clown. In the next show, it appears, his son asks him (not the host) if he has ever gambled away one of his children's college funds.
So no thanks! I thought it would be an easy $500,000, but now I'm not so sure.
Hey, there's Amy Freeze on Fox32 again! Yay!
Just found this video clip on Youtube. The guy has a series of them and he's very funny. It's sort of like Wallace and Grommet if you're familiar.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Up on Montrose, a huge pipe burst causing a sink hole. If no one else is interested, I know Alexis will be as I believe she lived right around there some time ago. Quite the scene.
It was another crazy day in the markets today with the Dow starting down almost 200 and then ended being up 300. THAT's some volatility! While taking a look at various financial sources during these turbulent times, I came across the following info from the very respectable Lou Dobbs. The discussion is regarding the huge tax refund package in the process of being approved.
Courtesy of Lou Dobbs:
Bernanke endorsed the concept of a short-term economic stimulus package, but he cautioned that the money must be spent correctly: "You'd hope that [consumers] would spend it on things that are domestically produced so that the spending power doesn't go elsewhere."
Just what would you have us spend it on? The truth is that consumers spend most of their money on foreign imports, and any stimulus package probably would be stimulating foreign economies rather than our own. Imports, for example, account for 92 percent of our non-athletic footwear, 92 percent of audio video equipment, 89 percent of our luggage and 73 percent of power tools. In fact, between 1997 and 2006, only five of the 114 industries examined in a U.S. Business and Industry Council report gained market share against import competition.Can you believe those numbers?? Good Lord, no wonder we're in such trouble economically.
Last year, my buddy SpringfieldSam contacted me after a rather precipitous drop in the Dow from around 13,500 to about 12, 700 or so over the course of a week. He was concerned about whether the market was in a free fall or if it was a buying opportunity. I told him, I don't know if it's either (if anyone says they DO know, they're a liar), but at the beginning of 2007 the market was roughly about 12,500. If it fell below 12,000, then I'd be a bit concerned. The market rebounded to above 13,000 again. Well, it went under 12,000 yesterday and then jumped to almost 12,300. Without any technical analysis at all, this feels like a good floor....at least given a certain set of economic data which seems to be changing. If we go into a recession, the floor could be something closer to 10,700 which is about 13% below the current level. If you're in the market, you have to be able to accept corrections in the 10-15% range periodically. Just don't sell!!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The government, more accurately the Fed, stepped in early this morning and cut the Fed funds rate by 3/4% from 4.25% to 3.5%. In addition to being unexpected, it was a huge cut. It's the first time that I remember the Fed meeting outside of the normal quarterly meeting to cut rates.....and they did it over the phone.....on MLK Day!! Very unusual to say the least.
The market opened down something like 450 points, or about 4%, but recovered quickly (supposedly due to the rate cut previously mentioned) and ended up down "only" about 128 points or 1.1%. So did the Fed save you while you were sleeping? Well, it's tough to deny that the move did limit the damage today or at least enhanced the recovery after the initial sell off. That said, do we really want the government to be this reactionary? It seems to me that the last time they were reactionary, we lost 3,000 soldiers in Iraq. No, I'm more for measured, well thought out, decisive and timely action from my government. I know we can't get that all the time, but in the financial world, you'd think it would be achievable.
So while the Fed saved you (or at least your retirement funds), it's only a short term blip. The market could deteriorate further this week and it wouldn't be unexpected at all. Just remember the long term. In times like these, think to yourself "Will the market be at this point in 5 years?" "How about 10 years?" It's really not likely. So sleep well and try not to panic. Keep on your investing regime.
That was the end of my entry and then I read the following in Newsweek online. If you read it and think about what it's saying, it should make sense even to those non-financial types out there:
Still, Bernanke's gamble isn't guaranteed to succeed. Since World War II the Fed's greatest blunder was to unleash double-digit inflation. In 1960 consumer prices rose 1.4 percent; in 1979 the increase was 13.3 percent. With hindsight it's clear that Fed policies were too loose, creating too much money chasing too few goods. But that was not so apparent at the time, when the Fed responded to public pressure to minimize recessions and keep unemployment down. It loosened money and credit, and the effects on inflation showed up a couple of years later. There was a steady upward creep; that is the risk Bernanke is now running.
Similarly, we have too few goods in the form of scarce commodities. Corn is short. Oil and refined gas are not keeping up with demand. Copper has gone up 420% over the last three years. It's the same story for almost all building supplies and most commodities. India. China. The entire world is competing now for resources. It's part of the reason why the dollar is crap now. Hopefully Bernanke is not repeating the mistakes of the past.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Hopefully you'll take a minute today to reflect on the life and times and influences of the late Dr. Martin Luther King. One of his more popularized moments is his "I have a dream" speech. You can't really help but getting pumped up while even reading his speech, much less actually listening to it. Here's a link that provides both for your viewing and listening pleasure. Take a moment today to relive the part of that day in August of 1963.
Feeling even better today! The weather seems slightly warmer, though no end to the seasonable cold is predicted. Oh well, that's January in Chicago I guess. Even got a little dusting of snow this morning.
Ricardo shot me an email from the office today telling me not to bother coming in as the thermostat is broken and it's 38 degrees in the office. Ugh. Well, looks like I'm working from home today!!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
No worries though, we hung out and watched football (she mostly read the paper) and then we had some Greek carry out food. Not terrible actually.
Hopefully you're not depressed today. According to Time, and several other sources, Monday is the most depressing day of the year. If you feel bad, think about what Packer fans feel like.
A few weeks ago, I helped out a young woman I used to work with in making some financial decisions in an effort to pay off some debt, refinance and make some other financial decisions. She took my advice, has given me progress reports and is making great strides. Friday she sent me this card:
Inside was a very nice note and two Black Hawks tickets! Very excited about going to the game.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday I slept in, did some work, went back to the gym for a second day and then right to the store to pick up food to take to MWrigley's for Friday evening. Once there, we finished a bottle of wine and two that were partially opened, further dehydrating me. This morning after waking up and fixing breakfast for us, I came down with something that just completely exhausted me. I could barely eat soup and so our long day together was called off. Crap.
Once I got home, after braving the 3 degree, -22 degree windchill, weather, I was able to keep down a little food and then took a jacuzzi bath. Another small meal and here I am, starting to feel a little better and a little more energetic. Tomorrow will most likely be spent on the couch though watching football.....which, truthfully, would probably have happen anyway.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Made a big switch today. I decided to go with skim milk in my coffee instead of a mixture of skim and whole milk (which translates into 2%). I'm not sure I'll be able to go this route, but I'm giving it a shot. Little changes like this really add up over a year, so I encourage you to do something similar. Maybe replace one can of coke with a diet coke or even a glass of water or cup of hot tea. The changes are pretty dramatic over time.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Ok, now I'm rambling. Time for bed.
First though, I had three meals today...real meals. I feel bloated. It started with a 7:30 breakfast meeting at the White Hall Hotel and consisted of French toast with pears. The pieces of toast were huge and I maybe got through 1 1/2 of the 3. The rest had to be tossed, despite how good it was and because lunch was not far away. Lunch was at Red Light on Randolph. Great food. I had a lighter, red fish dish, sort of like snapper supposedly. Pretty tasty. The big hit was the side dish of green beans that we got for the six of us. It was absolutely outstanding. The wait staff will remind you to order them if you forget, which is a good thing because they are not to be missed. Dinner was at a Frenchy place in the Hotel Soffitel called Cafe des Architects. It was a little odd and maybe not the best place to bring three people from Iowa, but wealthier, presentation oriented foodies would probably love it. I almost assuredly will not go back, but the Red Light is already on my list to hit again!!!
Cold weather is coming folks! Be prepared.
Monday, January 14, 2008
That said, my entries may be shorter for the next few days and may be non-existent tomorrow entirely. Starting with a breakfast meeting and ending with a dinner meeting, there isn't much slack time in my schedule tomorrow.
The weather is getting colder in Chicago and today's high is only in the 20's. As the week goes on, it's supposed to get colder so that by the weekend the high is only about 15. Ugh. Good snuggling weather. Good building a fire weather. Good sleeping in late to make up for a bunch of early mornings weather. Me thinks I'll be doing all of those.
Forgot to mention that last Saturday MWrigley and I recycled her Christmas tree. I'm a big fan of doing that and the city actually has a fair number of convenient locations that make it easy to get it done. That's what I like to see: government making it easy for me to be a good citizen!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Though the regular season is over for football, I joined a playoff fantasy football pool with a buddy and he and I and another guy bet $100 each. There are a bunch of rules about changing players and such(which I'll spare you), but the upshot is that yesterday I could hardly have had better stats. I had the best QB, Brady, the best RB, Grant of Green Bay, the best WR, Jennings of Green Bay, and probably the second best WR in Welker of New England. And I still have one running back, a tight end and my defense to play today! Very exciting for me. Which made me think why?
It's not the money....I could really care less. It's not that I want to thump these two guys I'm competing against, because they are pretty nice guys and I enjoy hanging with them. The nature of the rules allows for a lot of combinations of players and one isn't obviously better than the others prior to game time. You have to make tradeoffs. If you want the "best" QB, you're going to have to take someone lesser at RB or WR or K or Defense. I probably went through 5-7 combinations of players before settling on the one I used.
And there is an added twist with the league which I will tell you about. You can only change four of your eight players after this week and then only two of your players prior to the Super Bowl, so you need to make all of your decisions with the end game of having a full squad playing in the Super Bowl.
So with all of that going on, I made some pretty outstanding selections. If one of my buddies did better than I did this weekend, God love them. I was very happy with the decisions I've made after a very thoughtful process and THAT'S why I'm excited about the competition.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Pictures from the Olan Mills Photography Studio:
Those glasses came free with a purchase of Brut cologne.
Thoughtful Lance. Mirthful Lance. Just waiting to come out of the closet.
Drake won Bitchin'est Senior Mullet by a landslide.
That dude wore a tie for nothing.
The Purvis family made several stops along the Oregon Trail to document their six-month journey. This photo was taken just two weeks before the dysentery took Momma to Jesus.
Wanted a shot like this for my wedding. The Mrs. said no. Apparently the "focus" button wasn't working that day.
It's called a leisure suit, ladies and germs, and if you didn't have one in the early 70s, you were a big fat loser. Mine was teal. I wore it with a silk floral shirt and a long necklace with a football player pendant that we all got at that year's team banquet. I was THE MAN.
Once they had two or three, how did they ever find enough time alone to make more?
Olan Mills backdrop #4: Bucolic Meadow with Split Rail Fence. Is that an animal carcass behind her?
(Joe: I really did laugh out loud at this one.)
A pose like this will get you kicked right out of the Convention.
What better way to capture the charm and innocence of a child than to plunk him down amid the coarse trappings of a life lived in pursuit of wealth -- oversized bills, an adding machine and the Wall Street Journal -- and make him sit inside a briefcase? The finishing touch is the globe, which completes the portrait of the young Antichrist in Chess King vest and Red Goose loafers, plotting his takeover of the world (insert maniacal laugh). That is, as soon as someone changes his poopy diaper.
Bobbi isn't the first waitress to fall for her manager, but she and Dale both got fired from Shoney's.
Rejected Toby Keith album cover.
Just a typical afternoon down on the plantation. In a business suit. Y'know, for a budget meeting with the slaves.
(Joe:This was another one that killed me.)
Dawn and her recently exhumed sister, Gorgotha, pose with Scraps.
This photo isn't discolored. The 70s really were that Orange .
And don't miss the First Presbyterian Players as they perform "Godspell" next Wednesday night in the Fellowship Hall. Childcare will be provided. Please bring a covered dish.
At the Southern Baptist Convention?
Olan Mills Backdrop #11: The Library, one of their most popular themes, as seen in this photo of the young Unabomber and his wife.
The Library might be more believable if the shelves weren't sloping downhill
Olan Mills is all about versatility. The simple addition of a column turns this generic plantation into Tara, where, apparently, someone opened a Hair Cuttery.
Patrick broke ranks and chose drag over the bow tie
You'd think Pearle Vision would throw in another two pairs for free.
Grapefruit smuggling isn't a crime, but posing while doing it in profile should be.
Kenneth and his prom date
I got a 20 that says he drives a Camaro.
Hiroshima , 1945. The last known photo of Kelli and Senor Loco .
(Joe: another backdrop gone awry. Too funny.)
Someone spent money on this.
It's so cute when couples have matching hairdos
Talk about a third wheel...
(Joe: this reminded me of the Queen album cover. Anyone remember that one?)
Nothing says 1973 quite like denim and helmet hair
I'd hide my face, too, little girl
B-52's, the early years.
She's looking for the speaker that's piping in "Muskrat Love" so she can blast it with her laser eyes.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Tuesday I was finally able to head over to see how the new facility laid out. Below I've laid out my thoughts:
-Huge open area at the entrance with many pleather chairs and sofas. Looks like a great start!
-Men's locker room is downstairs. Nice. Put the guys in the basement. Whatever.
-Lockers already have combination locks installed and you reset the four digit combo. Unfortunately, this makes it tough to find YOUR locker when your done. They all look exactly alike. My blue Master Lock stood out for me a little.
-Dry heat sauna is wayyyy too small for a newly constructed facility. Shoot. I can't even lay down to get the heat evenly distributed on my aging back prior to working out. Big issue here.
-Steam room is too small as well. Ugh.
-Up two flights to get to cardio room. Hmmm, pretty big, lots of equipment.
-When I run on one of the treadmills, the video screen is moving around like a building in a San Francisco earth quake. I have to look away from the screen periodically otherwise I start to get motion sickness. Ugh.
-Up another flight to the weight room. No televisions anywhere.
-No clocks anywhere.
-All of the hand weights, and there are ample, are at about knee level. Why wouldn't they make the racks waist level at least? The last thing you want is to have people bending over to pick up heavy weights because most of them don't do it properly. Poor design.
-Not all of my favorite machines are there. Crap.
-Three flights back down to the locker room. This trip will get old in a hurry.
-Where's my locker?
-What four digit number did I use?
-There's literally 5 people in the entire facility and two of them have lockers right next to me. Isn't that the way??
-The showers are awesome! Individual stalls with floor to ceiling opaque glass and a shower head mounted both on the wall and directly over head. You can choose either shower head or both! Sweet.
So, unless I want to go there specifically for a shower, I'm probably going to have to take a pass on the facility. It really was disappointing.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Unfortunately you can't see the smaller lighthouse scene below the main picture. Very nice. Thanks to Synergy Law for this entry.
A simple, but very nice card with nice colors from The Petro Family in Louisiana. Go LSU!
This nice card is from el supremo de New Mexico and is a three dimensional card. Very cool card.
This card is from Katie and Dan and is also three dimensional. Another really nice card, though I got it late because it went to the wrong zip code. 60657 Katie!!
This card is from Joisey Ken. Nicely done!
A simple, nice card from DogBrian. Thanks!
This is one of my top two favorite cards. It's from Sellers Capital, my hedge fund manager. It's really sparkly and takes the light very well.
This card you might have to click on to see why I like it. Thanks T-Rex Tim!