Thursday, February 28, 2008

An unusual day

Few of my days seem to be "typical", but today was particularly unusual. I've been pondering a fairly significant financial investment (think 6 figures) into an existing company that is being bought out and which a good friend of mine is going to help run. The catch is, it isn't just me investing, but also four other friends of mine to whom I introduced the venture.

While I performed due diligence on my own prior to passing along the info, now these friends of mine are (justifiably) asking their own questions. This morning that resulted in a two hour phone call and then I had a 90 minute meeting over dinner. That's a lot of meeting time for me in one day, especially with so much at stake and the high concentration level required.

In the end I think it's all good, but it was an exhausting day without a doubt.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I jumped back onto eHarmony. What I also decided to do was join as well and see how that service fairs. I wasn't a big fan of it 18 months ago, but I'm willing to give it another shot. As Joisey Ken said, throw a bunch of lines in the water and see what you catch. I just hope it's not cold, wet, limbless and scaly. That wouldn't be good.

Friday brings mass in the morning, no meat, another full body workout (similar to my training session on Tuesday) and then a 30th birthday party on the south, not for me, but how nice of you to think that!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Starbucks Closed!!!!

Yes, as you've probably heard, Starbucks closed for 3 hours yesterday from 5:30 until 8:30. Usually that's not a big deal for me, but I had my training session on Tuesday at 4 and was really looking forward to having coffee afterwards. No biggee though. I feel for all of the people who use them as their office (I'm looking at YOU el supremo de NM).

Not much going on today as Ricardo and I had a meeting with an attorney with whom we were consulting, but not charging. It's a good exercise since we don't often work on service sector clients. As an attorney on his own, he has some interesting market niche issues and some difficulty distinguishing himself in the marketplace.

One thing I did want to mention was an exercise that my trainer had me doing. There's two flights of stairs in the gym we train at (10 stairs and 8 stairs probably). So Joel has me run up the stairs, two at a time, while holding a 25 lb. weight over my head. On the way down I lower the weight and hit every stair. Four times. Later in the workout, I had to do it again...four times. Then towards the end of the workout, I had to do it again....another four times. Let me tell you, I thought I was going to drop. AND I thought I was going to be really sore since I was also doing other leg exercises. However, I think the stage 3 recovery Power Bar that I ate (within 30 minutes of finishing the workout) really helped and I wasn't sore at all! Nice.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Working out and working "IT".

The title is more interesting that what I'll write about, but I kind of liked the ring to it! Ha!

Tell me, is there anyone whiter than Tilda Swinton? I think not. Good Lord woman, go outside periodically.

Yesterday, in a dual purpose fulfilling act, I signed up for guitar lessons at the Old Town School of Music on Monday nights. I start next Monday!! I figured it will get me out and meeting new people, plus it will jump start me on something that I've wanted to do for some time. It should be fun and I'm looking forward to it.

Had yet another personal trainer session today, my third. We talked about recovery nutrition to help me be able to move my arms and legs the days after my training sessions. I had brought along a "Step 3 Power Bar" and he said they were actually pretty good things to eat after a workout. Nice! I might try some nutritional powders steroids, don't worry. We also talked about the types of exercises I do the rest of the week. I've always done more "rehab" type of exercises which isolate muscles: bicep curl, tricep extensions, leg extensions, hamstring curls and butterflies.....all one muscle at a time exercises. Joel, my trainer, wants me to do more multiple muscle exercises: bench presses. push-ups, pull-ups, lat-pulls, rows, squats and lunges. Makes sense to me.

We ended up only getting about 2-3" of snow locally, though O'Hare officially received 5". Some of it melted today and tonight it's all supposed to freeze......again. The cold and ice are getting old!!

Rented American Gangster the other night and am watching Michael Clayton tonight. It's amazing, if you're not focusing your time and efforts on someone else, the amount of things you can do for yourself. Plus, you have more time to write your blog!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Milestone Entry!

As I've mentioned before, part of the reason for me writing a blog is that my personal journal writing was severely lacking. Which the help of this technology, my journal has now reached 500 pages! Of course, that includes the pictures I've posted as well, so it's definitely less than 500 written pages, but still it's 500 pages. This entry starts my second journal document and hopefully another 500 pages.

Another snowstorm tonight in Chicago. There should be 6-9" by noon tomorrow. Yay! (input dripping sarcasm here) Thankfully I don't have to commute tomorrow and I feel sorry for everyone who does. A buddy of mine who is an auditor by trade, called me on his way home at around 10:00 p.m. and he said it was already/still terrible out.

Stef sent me this LINK to her friend's YouTube entry. I watched and it was very funny.

Very little else going on with me today, except that I'm back on eHarmony!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What to do after getting dumped??

Well, there are a bunch of different things you CAN do. Among them are unproductive activities such as sulking, eating a whole mess of bad food, getting hammered out of your gourd or trying to find a rebound partner. Fortunately (I think), I've done none of those things.

Instead, I hit a fish fry on Friday with Ricardo (my first bar visit in some time), played softball on Saturday night and had a few drinks at the bar with some of my teammates, and continued the demolition of my guest bathroom. Yes, it was nice to have something to hit and break without recourse. Might seem a little dramatic, but it's true. Plus there's the sense of accomplishment. Here are some pics showing the latest progress:

You can see the hallway as a reference point. Below is the same wall, but higher and up to the ceiling.

This shot is of the "window wall" next to my toilet. Behind this wall is a window to an air shaft that I'll be opening up with some glass block.

Here you can see where the window ledge is and where the insulation starts where the glass block will be. Pretty cool huh?

The unfortunate thing is that the window runs all the way to the ceiling. I don't want a window that big though, so I'll need to either cut it off at some point....maybe a foot below the ceiling, or do something. It would just be odd to run the window all the way up into the ceiling though.

If you go to Starbucks enough and one of the baristas has a crush on you, you can get your name up on a chalkboard and be customer of the week like me!! Note the Outback hat she drew which I like to wear. Too funny. The board is only about 18" to 2' high and is in the back of the store near all the coffee bags and such. It's not up front by the register, so I'm not expecting too much fame or notoriety.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thank you for your support! :-)

My sincere thanks to everyone who has reached out via email, phone and my blog. It's nice to know you folks care.

As an update, I'm handling the break up pretty well; a little hard to fall asleep last night and I woke up at 5:30 this morning, but got enough sleep in between. I worked hard at the relationship and did everything I could to make it successful. No regrets. It didn't fail through any fault of least any fault that I could do anything about (I'm not abdicating responsibility).

Thanks for all the offers go get drinks, coffee and/or dinner. They are all appreciated and don't be surprised if I give you a call this weekend!! Next week: back on eHarmony.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bad News for Lakeview Coffee Joe. :-(

Sorry folks, not much of an entry today. MWrigley, Melissa for those that don't know her real name, broke up with me today. Disappointingly, it was partially over email and then over the phone. After 5 months (almost to the day) I would have hoped for better. She's been physically ill the last few days in just thinking about this decision: crying during yoga, throwing up, only 10 hours of sleep the last three days......that kind of thing.

I started to write about why, but that's probably a little too personal.....even for me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lovely Lunar Eclipse

This was the site right here in good ol' Chicago. The cloudless sky contributed to the cold temps, but also allowed for clear viewing of this astronomical event. Thank goodness the wind was negligible. It was cold enough without the wind.

So MWrigley finally got her flowers yesterday (on our five month anniversary by the way) from FTD. As you know, they didn't deliver them on Valentines Day and were unreachable by phone or email. On Friday, it was the same story: I couldn't reach them by phone and they didn't return my emails. Saturday morning I got least to the point of being on hold for 20 minutes before I gave up. Finally, Saturday evening, I was able to get through and actually talk to someone. After a pain in the ass conversation about trying to find a new bouquet to send (she kept recommending really bad arrangements), I finally settled on an arrangement that was about 35-40% more than what I originally ordered. So the CSR tells me she's going to credit me for my original order and charge me the higher amount for the second order!! I don't think so.

It made me wonder what ever happened to customer service. FTD isn't the only game in town. There's, 1-800 and local florists. Next time I think I'm going to go with the local florist option. I suggest you do the same!! Remember, I ordered these flowers two weeks early!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What's in a picture?

You may wonder why I have a picture of this crazy goth chick on my blog. I certainly would. Actually, it was completely happenstance that I even came across the photo. I frequent a site call which is sort of a 'news of the weird' site. Periodically they have a picture like this, or some other obscure object, and ask people to photo shop it into some bizarre or interesting scene. Make no mistake though, this is the original photo.

So why did it catch my eye? See that yellow building in the background? If I'm not mistaken, and I don't think I am, this picture was taken in Nice France, not far from their outdoor market. Probably the best picture I've ever taken is of that yellow building, half covered in shadows and with a deep blue sky in the background. It's on display in my living room and I look at it everyday. What a coincidence. Actually I have an electronic copy.

Hmmm, what do you think? Is it the same building? I'm still thinking it is.

I remember that it was nice in Nice and pretty warm. Nothing like today in Chicago. Brutal weather today and even worse tomorrow. Ugh.

Tomorrow: The FTD update.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Some Bears Talk.....sorry MLB.

Here is the Christmas Card Wall of Fame, though I think it is from a few years ago so there have been a few more frames added. Plus MINE needs to be added now!!

Hope y'all had a nice President's Day. The weather her in Chicago took another nasty turn. Amy Freeze said, "If you think today was cold, tomorrow will be frigid." Freeze says tomorrow's frigid. Ha! For some reason I just get a kick out of that.

Just heard from Dry Dock that they've had over 75" of snow in Green Bay. That makes our 45"+ here seem like the Caribbean. Still, the cold and snow seems to be worse this year...maybe it's because we had such a mild winter last year.

I have to go into some Bears news as some significant things happened over the last few days. Darwin Walker wasn't given a roster bonus and was released, which I'm not nuts about because he added some nice depth on our defensive line when healthy. They did extend Alex Brown's contract two years though to help on the defensive line.

They also released Muhsin Muhammad, one of their two starting wide receivers. The other starting wide receiver is a free agent and the Bears might not be able to afford him. So if the Bears do miraculously find a quarterback, he'll have no one to throw to. Speaking of which, there aren't any free agent quarterbacks on the market worth a crap. What I love though is that there are some teams with really bad quarterbacks who are going to think that Rex Grossman just needs a change of scenery and then he'll be fine. They'll offer him a ton of money and the Bears will reluctantly let him go, allowing Lovie Smith to save face for having started the ass clown during the Super Bowl run.

So that will leave us with Griese and Orton. We still won't have a running game unfortunately, but now we won't have any receivers to throw to either! There is a possibility of picking up either Michael Turner or Julius Jones at RB. Either would be an upgrade over Benson. Two free agent WR's could help: DJ Hackett and Bryant Johnson. If they pick up Alan Faneca or him and another one of the several guards and tackles on the free agent market for the offensive line, they could actually have a reasonable offense. That's a lot of free agent moves though and it will take a few games to get the offensive line to gel, but it would be worth the investment. They'll replace the aging Rueben Brown and the 35 year old Fred Miller who was released with two years left on his $25M contract.

So it's February and football is still on the forefront of my mind.....just like the NFL likes it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Christmas Card Sweep for Lakeview Coffee Joe!!!

Saturday I was able to take down another wall in the shower, which means that part of the bathroom is all demolished. Next up, the other side of the bathroom. Think I should take the towels down yet?

Every year, about this time, my parents have the kids over (and grandkid) and we display all of the Christmas cards they have received that year and vote on the best one. The winner is sent a letter of acknowledgment and the card itself is framed on hung in the hallway referred to as the Christmas Card Wall of Fame. This tradition has been taking place since 1973. A few years back I even created a story for This American Life on NPR, but didn't submit it as my potential contact there left the station.

For 34 years, my entry has always failed to win. A few times I made it into the finals....maybe the final five or so, but have never won. My sisters have won, multiple times even, an ex-girl friend has won, even my (now 8 year old) niece has won!!

But this year, I finally won! It was a close vote. In fact, we had to re-vote once as it was tied at 4-4. Someone changed their vote in the final tally to make it 5-3. (An even number of votes is a problem if I don't have a significant other there, and MWrigley wasn't feeling well and had to work.) This is my entry, which didn't photograph all that well. It is a pretty card though.

This is what I was up against, my niece's card. By the way family, I think she picked her OWN card in the first round! We all know that's not allowed. Anyone else remember it that way??

Here is the third place card, submitted by Bee actually. While you might think it only ends up being the family in the finals, it doesn't happen often actually. We do try harder to send a nice card than most people though. Funny story about this card Bee, Ma was going to send the EXACT same card out this year before you sent it to her!! Ha! Too funny. It really was a nice card and now Bee is bitter about her loss.

Several years ago, after she got married some time I believe, my sister Sue carried on the same tradition in her house with the Christmas cards her family received. My entries have had much better luck in her competition and today I had the winning entry for her competition as well!

Here's my entry. Again, looks better in person with some of the snow shimmering and such. I call it "Rosebud". If I'm not mistaken, it's the first sweep of both competitions!!

This card was the runner up and I had actually picked it as one of my two favorites in the first round of voting (when you aren't allowed to pick your own card). A very nice scene.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Exhausting day.

On Fridays during Lent, I get up early and go to 8:30 mass at my church. There are many fewer people there than on Sunday (which I still go to as well) and due to construction during the week in the main church, we use a much more intimate setting in the basement of the church. I was literally 10 feet from the priest almost the entire mass. So that was kind of cool, but the getting up early was definitely NOT cool. After a late night on Valentines Day over at MWrigley's, it was tought to get up at 7 a.m. for church and as a result I was exhausted the rest of the morning.

At 4:00, I had my first personal training session with the guy who worked with Ricardo last year, Joel. He's a good guy and was even singing in my church's choir for a while. No, he's not gay. In fact he told me he had a date with a woman last night who has a great body and is a teacher (and is into slam poetry, which I think is the work of the devil).

Anyway, as expected, the workout pretty much killed me, though not in the ways Joel expected. Normally his students don't use their big leg muscles enough and when he works them out, the people crumble or experience a lot of pain the next day. But in playing softball, I know that my legs are key to my game (especially at my age) and have always worked them out pretty hard anyway. So today, my triceps are killing me, but everything else is ok. I'll probably hit the gym tomorrow if I can and then my next session is on Tuesday.

Still no contact with FTD. I've been on hold for another 20 minutes today. Ugh. These people suck.

Friday, February 15, 2008

FTD and why I hate them!!!

For all you "under rock" dwellers, yesterday was Valentines Day. I feel the need to point this out because apparently not everyone is aware of it. Even some people who are in the BUSINESS of delivering flowers for the holiday. That's right, I'm convinced FTD had no idea yesterday was Valentines Day. Two weeks ago I ordered a beautiful bouquet of flowers for MWrigley to be delivered on Thursday with some Godiva chocolates. I received my email confirmation that the order was received on the site and then on Wednesday received an email that gave me a tracking number with Fedex.

Great, everything was on schedule. And fortunately so because MWrigley was cooking dinner for us....and WHAT a dinner. I'll go into that in a minute. So noon rolls around and still no flower delivery and MWrigley informs me that she's going to the other building for a meeting as she has to do on every Thursday (unbeknown to me). Great. Now, even if the flowers DO come, she won't get them until Friday.

Well, they didn't come on Thursday and they didn't come on Friday either! I spent all day trying to reach FTD, but have not been able to get through. Once I was on hold for 20 minutes, but gave up. I've pretended to be placing a new order, checking up on an existing order, reporting a problem, even calling the number for international residents to call (non-toll free). Nothing worked. Even as late as 7:00 today I was not able to get through. Bastards. Use someone else in the future!!!

Now for dinner. Flowerless, MWrigley STILL wanted me to come over precisely at 6:00. At least I wasn't late, oh and I did bring wine and chocolate covered strawberries. She had candles on the table and two brand new place settings all set out (yes, brand new dishes just for the evening!). I was not allowed in the kitchen and basically just had to sit at the table and pour wine.

For an appetizer, we had a thinly sliced baguette with blue cheese, pistachios and drizzled with honey. So simple and so very delicious! The main dish was a rolled chicken stuffed with chopped olives and garlic. Very tasty. On the same plate was asparagus and pasta with a simple and flavorful tomato sauce. For dessert, she served a strawberry shortcake of sorts in a glass. The cake portion was actually pound cake soaked a little with amaretto. The strawberries actually were soaked in some balsamic vinaigrette. It wasn't even really noticeable, but the whole dessert was fantastic!!! The chocolate covered strawberries that I brought were horrible, at least the chocolate was. Ugh. Nothing I did was going right, but we still had a great night.

So I guess you don't HAVE to send flowers on Valentines Day, but me thinks I'll still try to get some to her in short order.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A few well placed swings with a hammer.....

....and progress is made. Tuesday I decided to make some more progress on the demolition of the shower and guest bathroom. This "before" picture doesn't show the wall above where the tile was, but that's where I decided to start. I basically made a line of hammer holes across the top of the wall so I could take the tile down below the line.

Then I did essentially the same thing with the wall on the right in this picture: a bunch of hammer holes creating a perforated line across the wall and the entire wall came off with basically one big tug. Pretty cool. Then it was just a matter of breaking up the wall into manageable pieces so I could throw it away incognito. Normally, when doing renovation work of this size, you should rent a dumpster and have it picked up by a service. I opted for the City of Chicago service!

Here are the after pictures from today.

The last part of this wall got stripped down.

These two pictures are of the wall to the right as your looking into the shower. It's opposite the shower head on the left. I took this entire wall down in pretty much one piece from the tile down.

This is the top portion of the wall in the picture above.

I've figured out a nice little routine for doing the demolition. I put on my ripped jeans, throw on a bad t-shirt, an old baseball hat, my goggles, my face mask and hiking shoes. Then I grab an old garbage can, close the bathroom door, turn on the exhaust fan and go to work. Once I get done what I want (several bags full), I pull around to the front of the building one of the city cans which has wheels. Then I only have to get the bags outside and the rest is easy. It's all about the process baby!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

There's Charlie Trotters and then there's Sapori Trattoria

Good news for me and my business and pleasure travels! As a Starbucks frequenter and AT&T user at home, it could help with my enjoyment of life on the internet.

Monday night, MWrigley and I went out for Valentines Day. Yep, Monday. A restaurant that I went to last summer, Sapori Trattoria, sent me an email advertising a Valentines Day dinner special on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. MWrigley was busy the other two days, so I booked Monday. Our table had rose petals on it and there was a piano player and a singer for ambiance. The pre-set menu was pretty amazing. I can't even begin to describe it, so I brought it home and scanned it for you. Each course had it's own bottomless glass of wine!

Hopefully you can read the menu if you click on it. The antipasti was pretty tasty with three kinds of meat and two kinds of cheese. MWrigley really liked the octopus. I liked the prosciutto. Good stuff. The pastry puff was really very tasty too. The wine served with this was by far my reflected in my consumption of at least three glasses!!

The tortelloni was really delicious and the truffle sauce was fantastic. The risotto was tasty though I have to admit, when they first brought it out I thought it smelled like ass. Seriously, I'm not even joking...ass. It must have been the taleggio cheese we decided. Unfortunately it was delicious too, so after we each had a portion of both, I had the waiter wrap up the extras to take home. We still had two more courses AND desert to eat!!!

The ossobuco was amazingly tender and just flaked off the bone with a fork. The quail was good, but seemed a little dry to me, which might be normal for quail. After everything else being so wonderful though, I wasn't going to force it down.

Dessert was the wide, fried, puffy pastry sticks in some powdered sugar for lack of a better description with chunks of dark chocolate and raspberries. Yowza, very tasty stuff.

Since everyone in the front of the restaurant had the same meal, there was one seating at 7:00 and everyone was served the same dish at the same time. We didn't finish until 10:30! That's longer than my meal at Charlie Trotter's!!! One person near me said it reminded her of being in Europe, which made me cringe a little as it reminded me of an annoying long meal I had in Paris.

The cost for this extravaganza? Only $75 per person. Pretty sweet deal.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When in Orlando, visit the Walmart.

My weekend wasn't just softball in Orlando. I completely forgot to talk about what we did on Sunday after we were eliminated from the tournament.

Since most of the team is in their early 30's or younger, most of them stayed up almost all night on Saturday night/Sunday morning and then slept in Sunday morning until 11ish. As they all headed out to the bars on Saturday night, I headed to the most obvious place.....the Walmart. Yeah, that's right, the Walmart. It was 11:30 on a Saturday night and I'm shopping at a Walmart in Orlando. Sounds a little pathetic doesn't it?

Here's the deal though, I was really tired from getting up before 6 a.m. and then playing four games during the day. So going out to the bars was not a great option for me, plus the team would have been looking for me to drive the van I rented and I didn't want to be herding cats at 2 a.m. when the bars close AND having to be sober to drive everyone back to the houses. No thanks. So why go shopping?

Well, on the flight in, Southwest opened one of my zippered pockets on my luggage and all of my chargers were lost: toothbrush charger, cell phone charger, DVD player charger....all gone. I was hoping that Walmart had some sort of universal charger that would maybe charge up at least the phone and DVD player. And they did! That enabled me to watch 3:10 to Yuma on the flight home. A good movie by the way.

Sunday, after a leisurely cup of coffee at the local Starbucks while the younger folks slept, we all headed to this boardwalk type of touristy area. There were carnies and rides and shops and bars, so a little something for everyone. They also had go karts which 10 of us rented and had a blast running into each other while going around this vertically oriented track (think parking garage structure). Then two other guys and I bought these little plastic bb guns and ambushed the team coach in cross fire. That led to many more exchanges of gunfire throughout the day and some drive by shootings from the cars. Good times.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Orlando update

First and foremost, it was 70 degrees warmer in Orlando that it was in Chicago yesterday. When we landed last night (almost the entire team took the last flight out of Dodge), it was -2 in Chicago. We were wearing shorts and t-shirts in Orlando all day. Ugh.

Why shorts and t-shirts instead of softball uniforms? Well, it's because we lost twice on Saturday. We also won three games and won a forfeit on a fourth so we ended up 4-2 and probably finished around 20th out of 40-50 teams. Now that our team has experienced success, we don't even consider it a moral victory of any kind unless we at least make it to Sunday of a tournament. We had some things going against us this trip, but we just hit very poorly. From my recollection, we had maybe 5 people hit over .500 (myself being one of them) and that's just not acceptable. You need almost everyone to hit over .400, 80% to hit over .500, maybe 5-6 to hit over .600 and then one or two guys to hit over .700 if you're going to have a successful tournament. I don't think we had but one person hit over .600. Ugh.

The problems we had were mostly of our own doing. Three of our starters/regular contributors didn't make the trip, but we still had good depth so this was just a minor problem. The association that governed this tournament allows stealing and we don't have great team speed, but this also wasn't a deciding factor in our demise, just a contributing one. Friday we were supposed to have practice, but couldn't find a field. This really hurt us I feel. A good practice could have allowed our swings to be better the following day. For the tournament you might only get 10-15 at bats (due to player rotation in and out of the games), so each one has to count. Finally, the houses we were staying at (not a hotel as I would have preferred), were 45 minutes to an hour away from where we were playing. That was just stupid. Even with a 9:00 a.m. first game, we had to get up before 6 to get everyone ready, grab food at McDonald's, drive the hour, and then check in. Just stupid.

The victories and one defeat were all very close games. We won each of the games by one run and lost the last game by two. Our first lost, to a team from Georgia, we were crushed 19-2.

So all in all it was just a mediocre weekend from a softball perspective. It's a good group of guys though and the bonding experience can't be overlooked. Hopefully it will pay dividends as the season heats up in a few months.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The slush has turned to ice.

The last few days have been messy with heavy wet snow falling and most of it turning to slush due to temperatures hovering in the 32-35 degree range. Last night though the temps fell into the 20's and everything turned to ice. Ugh. Driving is a pain. Walking is a pain. This weather is a pain!!!! I'm fine with colder and no snow. I'm so tired of cleaning off my car every time I stop for more than 5 minutes!!

Ok, enough bitching about the weather. It's Chicago in February, deal with it Sutton.

Tomorrow I head to Orlando for my softball tournament and won't have my computer with me unfortunately. As I don't return until late Sunday, a Monday morning post probably won't be available. Be sure to check back though as I'm bringing my camera and should have some interesting things to write about. (a nice change huh?)

Good news on the coughing front! Yesterday morning I made an appointment with my ENT just to make sure I didn't have an upper respiratory infection or something similar. No fever. Check. Blood pressure normal. Check. Pulse normal. Check. Use stethoscope. No wheezing, no gurgling, nothing to indicate abnormality in my lungs. Check and mate. So my doc just prescribed this super duper cough medicine which I can only take one teaspoon every 12 hours. That's right, one teaspoon. I guess the stuff goes up into your brain and inhibits the coughing function temporarily. Man does it work!! Crazy. I still cough sometimes, but I can talk several minutes without coughing and I don't have the spasmatic fits of coughing that I had before. Since my cough was "unproductive", I'm not concerned about turning off the coughing switch in my brain. Pretty cool.

See you all on Monday!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Heart Attack Snow

That's what fell in our area this afternoon: heavy, wet snow. Just shoveling a little bit from around my parking space was quite the chore. It's a complete mess outside with slush everywhere. It's much, much worse north and west of the city though. I heard they have white out conditions and 10 inches of snow!! To my Amsterdam readers, at least we get to see the sun periodically!!

Went into Starbucks today as I do every day and saw the new Jack Johnson CD on the counter. He sings a song that I like (though it's not on the new album) and so I picked it up to look and see if the song I like is on there. Nope. Down at the bottom was note though. It said: "This CD was recorded using 100% solar energy." You gotta be shittin' me. Really?? EVERYTHING was solar powered about it? From his website I found out that it was printed on 100% recycled paper as well. Good for him. That solar energy studio has to be pretty sweet though. You almost always see solar powered facilities actually using electricity from other sources and it's just supplemented by solar energy.

Monday I came home and had several messages on my answering machine. One of them was the following: "Hi, I'm Jack Darin, Director of the Illinois Chapter of The Sierra Club and I'd like you to consider voting for Dean Maragos for the Water Reclamation Board." Yadda, yadda, yadda. The thing is, Jack Darin and I went to school together!! In fact, he lived in the house behind a buddy of mine and we used to hang out periodically. What are the odds of that??

There's Amy Freeze again with a weather update. Every time I'm writing my entry, she seems to pop up on tv!

One last thing, I forgot to mention that last weekend MWrigley was over and we decided to order a pizza from Gino's East. It's my favorite deep dish pizza in Chicago, not that I've had all the varieties offered. So we order a pepperoni and giardiniera pizza. Spicy huh? Well the guy delivers it an hour later and it's a pepporoni and green pepper!! Only we don't realize it until we bit into the first piece. We're starving so we each eat a piece, but I'm also pissed that they got the order wrong (it was $25 with delivery and tip), so I call them up and they send over a new pizza with the right toppings. Now we had lunches for almost a week!!!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Just a mish-mosh

One of my readers sent this link to an ESPN story from a few years back that is now on YouTube regarding Rollen Stewart, the rainbow-afro-wig-guy. It's a good piece.

Read in the paper the other day that we had 9 inches of snow last year in Chicago and this year we are around 42 inches. That's the kind of winter it's been. Ugh.

Today I read that Yahoo!, in order to pay off it's $20 billion in debts, needs to fire 4,500 employees or 31% of their workforce. Doing the simple math means that each employee was saving them $4.4 million! Holy shit! Why aren't we all working for Yahoo! ?? Then the article said that in addition to the layoffs, they would have to sell $12.5 billion in investments. Oh, well that makes the number more reasonable right? Nope, it only drops the per-employee cost to $1.67 million. Now, you have to figure that some of the people are only making $50,000 a year right?? I mean there have to be SOME employees in that range. So for each one of those that there is, there's another employee making $3.3 million!!! Sure, the article is looking longer term than this year, but the numbers are still huge unless you're going out 10 years!!

Friday I head down to Orlando for a softball tournament and return on Sunday night. I haven't been playing much over the winter, in fact not at all, but I played last Saturday and did well so I'm expected good things. Next week I start my training sessions and am looking forward to it! Best case scenario is that I lose about 10 pounds over 12 weeks and maybe add some muscle mass. We'll see. The weight isn't a huge issue, but it should happen organically.

Well, the cough is definitely improving, but I still have some spasms when I try to have elongated conversations. Yet another reason to keep my mouth shut I guess!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Rainbow Afro Wig Guy John 3:16...oh where art thou?

Not too much to talk about today. My day was relatively short after sleeping in to see if I could kick this cough (didn't work) and going to the gym to see if I could work out the cough out. Though I had a decent work out, the cough lingers, though to a lesser degree. I was also tired still from Saturday night when I had an 11:00 p.m. softball game in the burbs about 45 minutes away. I didn't get to bed until after 1:30 and then had the big Super Bowl day to tire me out further.

There were some good commercials during the Super Bowl. Did you have a favorite? Here's one top 5 list that I sort of agree with, except in reverse order. The Doritos mouse trap commercial would be my number 5 probably instead of the Audi-Godfather commercial. Will Ferrell's was probably number one in my book. That was funny stuff. Chris Kattan's Pepsi Max commercial was good too, but I'm partial to SNL folks and his Night at the Roxbury movie.

Here's an interesting follow up story about that guy with the rainbow afro wig who always held the John 3:16 signs at sporting events. Wow.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday

Another Super Bowl, another winning bet! Hopefully you took my advice and snagged the Giants and 12 pts. If you did, good for you!! None of my Super Bowl squares came through, though I was just 2:35 away from winning $400! Damn.

We got dumped on with snow during and after the game (looks like another 4+ inches), so I'm sure the roads were just a nightmare with all the drunks out there. I had to drive MWrigley home through the mess. Ugh.

Speaking of which, we had a nice day today with me cooking and MWrigley consuming. Actually we both consumed, but I did all the cooking. We also had pina coladas in the afternoon as we watched the pregame shows and I prepared my chili.

Here are a few pictures:

Here are the pre-game ingredients. All the chili fixin's, a bag of marinating water chestnuts and a bag of marinating pineapple chunks. Mmmmm.

These are the bacon wrapped pineapple chunks. They were marinated overnight in sweet and sour sauce. Good stuff!! A first time creation for me.

The pina colada in a freezer Bears mug along with the second batch of bacon wrapped items: water chestnuts marinated in teriyaki sauce, figs and prunes (yes, prunes!).

A close up of the finished goods.

I'm sure you're thinking a few things: Why pina coladas?? And why prunes?? Well, MWrigley and I have been trying to figure out a warm weather vacation spot and I thought it might be fun to set the tone and whip up some pina coladas. Plus I have some leftover pineapple juice from draining the pineapple chunks.

The prunes are completely out of left field. I had dates too, but ran out of bacon so I opted for the prunes. Fresh prunes are really very juicy and I've always liked them so I thought they might be similar to a fig to some degree once wrapped in bacon. Success!! They were very, very good!!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Chicago + Snow = Postal Holiday

We got dumped on here in Chicago, looks like about 12 inches or so. Yowza! As it turns out, apparently, if there's too much snow, the postal employees unilaterally can decide to not deliver mail. Can't blame them too much though. Here are some pics from today:

Out in front of my house.

The first car in my outdoor parking lot. Cool how the snow has sort of melted away and such.

Just wanted to go on record as saying the Patriots will win on Sunday, but if I were a betting man, I'd take the Giants and the 12 points. They should be able to keep it close with that running back tandem they have. By the way, both players were available when the Bears took their two running backs, Ced Benson and Garrett Wolfe. Ugh.

For the big game I'll be making chili and various items wrapped in bacon (water chestnuts, dates, and pineapples).