Monday, March 31, 2008

Worst day of the year for baseball. Huh??

That's right. I said it. Opening Day is the worst day of the year to go to a baseball least at Wrigley. In particular, opening day of the season as opposed to just the home opener, which could happen a week or two later.

Why my opposition? Three things really: weather, women and bathrooms. The last two are actually related though. First, the weather is going to suck to watch a baseball game on March 31st. I'm sorry, it's just too damn early to be watching baseball. Push it back two weeks and start playing doubleheaders on Sunday again. Or take 10 games out of the schedule, I don't care. Let's just revert back to 1965 all around!! Seriously though, it's cold. Though it got up over 60 today after the game started, it was 42 most of the morning and I think at game time.

Women. They don't go to opening day. Maybe they go hang out at bars AROUND the stadium, but few actually go to the game. Why? To be honest, women are in the vast minority when it comes to season ticket holders of Cubs tickets, so to start with there are more men than women all around the stadium. Second, women are smart enough to say, "No thanks, I'll just meet you AFTER the game." Third, on this day, and during the playoffs, guys tend to invite other guys to the game as opposed to their wives or girlfriends.

Bathrooms. Because of the preponderance of men at the game, the lines at the bathrooms are unrelenting!! If more women were there, fewer men would be there to go to the bathroom and I wouldn't have to miss an inning and a half just to relieve myself. Sadly, the bathroom is the only warm place in the stadium, so it's almost a nice break to go there!! It's really just a horrible thing all around.

Plus you know the Cubs are going to they did today. Thanks Kerry Wood.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

No rats, plenty of at-bats.

The troop surge produced no kills on day one, but I've sent them back out for round two!

So today was day two of the tournament and it was single elimination. While the temperature got up to 48 or so on Saturday during our two games, it was 38 on the way out to the fields Sunday morning and 42 when we finished, three games and eight hours later. The entire day was cloud filled and even a bit drizzly in the morning. It made the day exhausting, regardless of how many games we played. You spend most of the time just trying to stay warm and loose.

A little back ground on the team, last season we played what is called E ball, or the lowest level which run from A to E. This year we've been moved to D level in all three of the organizations in which we're playing. In this particular tournament, a bunch of D teams were playing which have probably beaten us more in the past than we have beaten them, they having moved up either last year or this year like us.

But we played some awesome softball with solid defense, great pitching and some timely hitting. In only one game were we ever down significantly (9-2) and we came back to win that in the last inning after having tied it up earlier in the game.

While I played middle infield and first base on Saturday, I played exclusively at third on Sunday due to personnel. In the semi-final game, I actually made a key play that could have swung momentum towards the other team. With a runner on first, their batter (who was also their pitcher) laced a ball to the game in left center. Our center fielder hit our shortstop with his throw and he threw the ball high to me in an attempt to get the guy going first to third. I grabbed the throw and fired the ball to second to get the batter who was trying to move up a base. The throw that I made though was right on the money so the second baseman literally didn't have to move his glove as the batter slid right into it. Nice.

Offensively I was 13 out of 19 for a .684 average. The best part was that I was hitting the ball with much more authority and in the last game I was 4-4 and still had some hop in my legs. The training seems to be paying off!!

Anyway, we went 5-0 on the weekend, 3-0 today and won the tournament!

Here's the core of our team this weekend. The guy in the back row on the right is the only non-regular. Benny Baseball is right there in the middle in black, JC is on the far left standing up and our blind coach is kneeling, second from the right.

This picture includes three of the rookies who didn't get to play with us because we put them on another team to get them playing time. They'll play with us during the season though and go on trips and such.

The big trophy is what we won from our rival SC Softball. Anytime we play them in a tournament, the winner gets the trophy (which is a big bottle of vodka) until the next time we play. It's good fun. They were the team which had us down 9-2, but we came back to win.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Troop Surge!

What do you think of the new blog template? Alexis gave me the idea with her green template, so I thought I could try to usher in Spring by offering some green in my template. We'll see. My readership drops in half over the weekend (shame on all you work-bloggers!) , so I thought it would be as good a time as any to shake things up.

Today, against my better judgment, I headed up to Crystal Lake for a two game round-robin which provided seeding for a single elimination softball tournament tomorrow. We won both games which earned us two extra hours of sleep!! Yay for us! No one will want to drive 90 minutes to play and then turn around and come home another 90 minutes if we lose. That would suck. Hopefully we'll put a string of wins together.

Part of why I wanted to play was to see how my six weeks of training translated into the field. It was so cold though and I was so bundled up that it was tough to tell. My first two at bats though I did hit the ball pretty hard, but both times the balls were caught. I rebounded though to go 4-7 I think.

As it appears the rats next door have gotten out of control, I decided it was time for a troop surge in Basra!! That's right, I've added three more T-Rex's to the one already set for deployment. Because of the constant snow and ice, I haven't been able to deploy even the one T-Rex I have.

These aren't technically T-Rex's; they are Tom-Kats. They look EXACTLY the same though, so I'm expecting similar results. My deployment strategy was to use peanut butter and put one on the west side of the stair well (let's call it the Euphrates) and the other three along the banks of the Euphrates on the east side.

I'm very hopeful for success of my troop surge in the war on rats!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Post drinking out clients!!!

Ok, I didn't really do any client work, but I did do some work around the house after successfully downing three Jameson's and ginger ale during a networking event. The work, of course, is bathroom related. Here are some pics:

This is the target "crap" that was suspended above the old, old ceiling. This all had to come down because it would have come down when the new ceiling was put in anyway. It just would have been a time delaying mess. Those two little boards are the only thing supporting the crap.

Post crap look!! Nice! I cleared it all out. Yes, it sucked and got me filthy, but I got a good chunk of it to fall either into a garbage bag or can.

Near the wall here between those last two boards was a bunch more dark, concealed debris. I wasn't sure if it was discolored bricks or what, but when I poked at it, it all started coming down. Ugh. Just when you think you've gotten all the crap, you find more. Isn't that the way.

Look at this! This is up on the ceiling and I should have rotated the picture but I went over to Ricardo's tonight and got drunk and now I'm too tired to rotate it and reload it. Anyway, the wire going from this old, old outlet is like from the 30's or something. I'm afraid to touch it!! Another job for Manual Labor Mike.

The cleaned out ceiling!! Yay!! Now all I need to do is remove some two by fours, the vanity and the wall behind the vanity. Piece of cake!!

Softball in the cold in Crystal Lake on Saturday.....not really jacked about that!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March 27th, V-Day!

Ten year's ago today, Viagra was approved by the FDA. Question: should it be a national holiday? I have yet to have need for it or take it, but I'm almost looking forward to it. A four hour erection...are you kidding me? Who wouldn't want that?!? Maybe some wives/girlfriends might not want to put up with it....but I'd bet they'd get used to it.

Speaking of which, there are some promising leads on eHarmony with whom I'm communicating. I don't want to write too much about that aspect in case they end up reading this, but the situation is much more promising than it was even ten days ago.

Mom's birthday is Sunday, so happy birthday early Ma!!! For my birthday last weekend, she made a Christmas wreath pastry all for me (normally I only get to take part of one). I brought it into work when we had a couple of clients in the office and we made short work of the entire thing! Nicely done!!

El supremo de NM is leaving bright and early in the a.m. after unsuccessfully trying to get me to eat and drink myself into oblivion. Actually he did no such thing and we hardly had any meals together of significance. He was staying with Ricardo though and they ate well, but not the usual over-the-top meals and drinking that one has come to expect with el supremo.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Forgot to post!!

Unbelievable, but true. I literally forgot to post anything yesterday.

After guitar class on Monday night, I stopped to have a drink with a date from After having a second beer, it was close to 11:30 by the time I got home. That led me to sleep in as well as question whether I should go to my personal training session with Sadist Joel (moved up to 2:00, due to dinner with lawyers). I dragged myself to the gym though and actually had a good workout. In our new exercise, I have a weight bar across my shoulders and I jump, land and go into a squat position and jump again. Then he put 20 pounds on the 45 pound bar. Then he put 40 pounds. In combination with everything else I was doing, it was pretty exhausting.

Later on Tuesday, I headed out with Ricardo for dinner with some attorneys and Avenue M. It's a great new restaurant, but it does have a very limited wine list. Otherwise it's a great environment and the food is delicious.

No pictures! Sorry about that. The Avenue M website tells it all though.

For the record, it's clear to me that Top Chef is sexist!! No way Eric should have gone home after his corn dogs. They were held for two hours before being delivered and that's the only reason that they weren't one of the best dishes. Zoe made a miserable pasta dish which, quite frankly, I probably could have made. So do you penalize the guy who made a great dish but had transportation issues (a common and unrealistic theme with this show by the way) or do you penalize the person who couldn't make a simple dish? But could the judges send home three women on consecutive weeks? No, bad for ratings. Grow some balls judges. Jeesh. I was left wanting for the third episode in a row.....the only three I've seen. C'mon producers. I like the concept, but the execution is not up to snuff.

Go Stephanie Izard with her second win!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring or Winter? Depends on what side of the street you're on.

Guitar class was a bit of a disappointment today. In doing some basic chord changes, I failed miserably. Shit. I practiced very similar chord movements and even this particular chord movement, but when I was trying to execute them in class, it just wasn't working. That can happen, so fine, but then I just couldn't recover from my mistakes at all and that just bugged the crap out of me. Need to work harder this week.

Stark contrast on Roscoe today. Take a look:

Here's our tiny front yard looking pre-springy. Some bulbs are starting to come up.

Here's the rest of the block. Looks pretty nice and warm. It isn't warm, but it LOOKS warm.

Here's the other side of the street, literally. It's the dead of winter over there. As you can see, that side of the street (the south side) is cast in the shadows of its buildings. On my side of the street (the north side), the sun actually reaches the ground and the snow is all melted. What a contrast though.....separated by mere feet!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Faberge Egg Hunts

First off, thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes! Very kind of you all. I received many cards and even a few presents (special thanks to DogBrian!). Yay for me!! Heck, even MWrigley texted me a happy birthday message.

On my birthday I opted for a non-traditional celebration: pain and sweating. Several guys on the softball team have elicited the help of a trainer who had been working for the New England Patriots over the last five years or so. He's been working with us and them on speed training. Basically every thing we do is to increase our leg strength, enhance our running form or improve our agility. It's an awesome work out and at the end of the workout I really think I am a bit quicker....or maybe it's just quicker than last season. My work with Sadist Joel has been paying off as well.

Afterwards, our coach and sponsor, Paul and his wife Gretchen, took me out for pizza. It was a nice wrap up to the day. Here are pics:

This is where we went.

And these are the good folks who took me there!

This morning I hit 7:45 mass before heading out to my folks' place. On the agenda: the annual Easter egg hunt pitting me against my 8 year old niece. Last year I won 7 eggs to 5 to have bragging rights for the year. Pity her if you will, but it's basically me against the entire family. This year, I tried a slightly different strategy. Instead of following her around and trying to beat her to the eggs she sees too, I went around the other side of the house entirely. It looked like the strategy was going to pay off with two quick finds, but the second one was in the mouth of the drain pipe from the eaves. Unable to get the egg out, I wasted valuable time removing the drain pipe and trying to forcibly shake the egg out. After that debacle, which Bee found quite humorous, there wasn't enough time or eggs for me to recover. Even so, I only lost 7-5, but I've lost bragging rights. Damn.

My mom made me my own pastry wreath for my birthday! There goes any hope of weight loss.

The really big news today though is that Joisey Ken got engaged!!! Congratulations to him and Hoboken Dawn. They're an awesome couple. Ken hid the ring in a Fabergé egg and gave it to her to open after their Easter egg hunt. Nicely done!!

Busy week for me with guitar, dinner with lawyers, and a visit from el supremo de NM later in the week. Yowza!

Friday, March 21, 2008

I'm more prepared for that warm weather trip now!!

So I went to Target the other day to get a new gym bag. My old one, a free bag from trying Forbes Magazine without subscribing, has finally toted its last. After making due for some time with that bag, I wanted one that was durable as well as spacious, but not too big. Eddie Bauer had the answer! Good old Eddie Bauer: classic style and durable at a reasonable price! I'm a billboard for them.

But then it got even better. I've been looking for new luggage for some time....possibly before I went to Turks last year. After trying to buy some luggage from didn't work out (ironically they were sold out of what I wanted), I haven't tried to even LOOK for any other luggage. So, I had picked out my new gym bag and was on my way out when I saw some Eddie Bauer luggage for $180. The largest bag is exactly the size I wanted and the next biggest piece was perfect too. Plus it's olive colored and not black! That'll make it easier to pick out on the luggage carousel.

Here's what I got for my money:

Can you believe it? It was like opening those Russian nested dolls. They are all expandable and the wheels look solid.

This is what they look like inside. Tough to get any depth perception, but one thing I wanted to note is that each of the three big pieces has its own plastic zippered bag inside secured by two buttons. I thought that was a cool feature and will be nice for toiletries and such.

Not bad for buying it on a whim!!

Had another great workout today. This I time I did three sets of five exercises: pull-ups, bench, squats, rowing and stairs. In all, I did 18 exercises in almost exactly an hour. That's a decent pace.

As it was Good Friday today, I went old school and fasted from noon until 3:00, the time my religion believes Jesus was on the cross. Going and working out from 1:30-2:30 made it easier.

Mass tonight at 7:30!

Had an interesting eHarmony date last night with a woman who is also on We'll see how it evolves. Big points for her though as, now pay attention ladies, she emailed me and thanked me for the drinks we had and coming to her section of town. See?? Is that so hard?? Just be polite. It goes a long way.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

From 52 to 6 inches of snow. Welcome to Chicago in March.

Headed out to the burbs today for a dentist appointment and to take my folks to lunch. The appointment went well, despite not having been there in over a year.

It ended up being an eventful day though. For lunch, we headed to Heaven on Seven, a restaurant that I've boycotted in Wrigleyville until they closed the location. Now, I'm not saying they closed it BECAUSE of me, but I contributed!! Once upon a time, the staff there didn't bring me my jalapeño cheddar muffin when I wanted it with my meal (after asking nicely), so I never went back. Seems dramatic, but with soooo many good restaurants in Chicago, it's pointless to patronize one with bad service or food.

It was good to see the parents, as always, and the weather was really nice, 52 degrees according to my car. On the way home, I heard that, despite the cloudless sky, we were going to be under a winter storm warning. Nice, it's not even winter for the duration of the warning!! Six inches of snow expected downtown and 10-12 near Wisconsin. Unbelievable.

Made some exciting progress last night on the guitar. I was actually strumming something that resembled a song that I was actually trying to play. The song was Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver. It only has three chords.....I say only, but I shouldn't. That's more than I think is reasonable for someone who has only been playing for three weeks. I'm sure I'll look back and think "what a dope", but it's fun to make progress!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Workin' out the kinks

As you know I've been struggling somewhat with my whey protein shake, specifically, consuming it. While I'm sure it tastes better than a lot the competition, that doesn't mean it's enjoyable to drink. And enjoyable is what I'm looking for. So I added strawberries and that helped a lot. Still, after putting it in a blender and mixing it with the strawberries, it was too much like a shake. I want it to be a "drink" that I can slam down in a few gulps.

Relative success has now been achieved! I blended up ALL of the frozen strawberries and put them in a Tupperware container. Now all I do is take some milk, the whey powder and some pureed strawberries and mix them in a glass with a spoon and I have a fairly tasty, chuggable beverage.

After some prodding by a friend ("where is this sentence going?" I bet you're asking yourself), I've signed up on Facebook. It's fairly interesting. It's different from a blog in many obvious ways, but still can be updated daily. It actually reminds me a bit of an eHarmony page of information, but with a much different focus obviously. It's kind of cool to check out friends' friends though. Just to see.....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Personal Trainer. Good. Whey Protein Drink Morning of Workout. Good. 15 Minute Steam Before Workout. Bad.

Today was my usual Tuesday workout session with Sadist Joel, but unfortunately I didn't have the energy during the hour session that I hoped. In trying to figure out why, we determined it probably had to do with the steam I took before the workout. The only reason I took the steam was to warm up. I think now I'm going to restrict my warm up sessions to the treadmill or elliptical.

Even though I was tired, I did have a decent workout. Nothing spectacular though.

To get my spirits up, I decided to have my first grilling of the year! A nice strip steak marinaded in some A-1 Tabasco Sauce was an excellent choice. Some aged white cheddar and Parmesan cheese on crackers were my appetizer. Nothing elaborate, but enjoyable.

The eHarmony dating cycle is starting to kick in. Nothing this week, but I'm moving along in the process. It's interesting with eHarmony where you go through a guided process (after finding potential matches) and it takes several weeks usually to go through the questions, exchange emails and then set up dates. It's definitely a thorough process.....but you always have some that sneak through. I'll definitely let you know about those!!

In case you missed SNL this week, here's the highlight for me.

And one more link to the Sam Smith story in The Chicago Tribune on Monday. He rates the top college basketball prospects. Take a look at what he says about #22 Hasheem Thabeet. Thanks Pops for the link.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Old St. Patty's Day!!!

If you're reading this, that means you survived the St. Patrick's Day celebration in your area.....or you fell into a coma and are now catching up on my entries a year or two from now. If the later is your case, CONGRATULATIONS on coming out of your coma!!

Is gas $5 a gallon yet?
Is the dollar worth less than the peso?
Is McCain still President?
How many banks did your relatives have to move your money into because they kept failing/getting bought/bailed out? The average should be two by then I'm guessing.
Is my basement finished yet?

Busy 10 days or so coming up with: a trip to the dentist, four workouts, Good Friday, my Birthday, Easter, another visit from el supremo de NM, dinner with lawyers and a softball tournament....and another guitar lesson.

Speaking of which, Mrs. Moore was back teaching our class today....thankfully. For you players, I'm working on D, A7, A, E, E minor and starting this week.....G. As you can imagine, learning the chords is one thing and changing between them is quite another. Baby steps, baby steps.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Gettin' My Drink On

Hope everyone had a great St. Patty's Day!! Observed on Saturday due to the 17th falling during Holy Week, St. Patrick's Day is a huge event here in Chicago. You see people out at 8 a.m. wearing green and carrying a beer. There's definitely a different energy on this particularly day.

For instance, while riding a pretty crowded train into town, three fine young and very drunk 20 somethings decided it would be a good idea to relieve themselves between the train cars while the train was moving! Yep, you can walk between the cars, but you're obviously not supposed to do it, much less take a leak while it's moving. Unbelievable.

So now that you have THAT visual in your head, I can tell you the rest of the day was much more enjoyable. I hooked up with Ricardo and his posse to start with at D4, a new bar east of Michigan Avenue on Ohio. I was only there for about 45 minutes before we headed to Howl at The Moon around 2:00. Here are some pics:

Ricardo up close. The flash was supposed to go off, but it didn't. Damnit.

Ricardo and some of his posse....actually everyone in this picture is part of the posse. A pretty good sized crew. Most of them remembered me from last year and I, uh, well you know me an my memory.....

The bartenders at Howl At The Moon. Apparently the chick in the foreground has long brown hair....nice job hiding it though!

Gratuitous butt picture of the shot girl. Clearly her best me. Yikes.

Me with Beverly from Windsor Ontario! She's a black jack dealer at the casino there (which I've been to by the way). I told her I was there for a bachelor party and that maybe she dealt me black jack. She said, "No, I would have remembered you." Nice!! I'm a big hit with the middle-aged female population north of the border.

After leaving Howl (and Beverly and her friends), we headed up to the new Harry Carray's which opened where High Tops used to be. Here are four of the lovely Irish women out and about. No stories, the picture was on my camera though.

Finally, after leaving Ricardo and his posse, I hooked up with JC and his gal Carol as well as Dejesus Freak (who was getting over a nasty bout of flu) at Johnny O'Hagans. Once a very ethnic and smokey, smokey bar, it's now just a nice ethnic Irish bar! Yay no smoke!!! Not sure why I took this picture since nobody I know is in it. Of course, I think I was in hour 8 of drinking at this point. Only had another hour left in me.

Sunday morning came pretty early, but since I stopped drinking at about 9:30 or so, I wasn't too bad off, just tired. After Palm Sunday mass at the under renovation St. Alphonsus Church, I came home and chilled in front of the tv for a bit to regroup. Oh, there was some excitement during mass as one of the servers passed out and fell over up on the altar. I guess she's going to be ok though. Must have had 20 people run up there from all of the church. My head was down in thoughtful prayer, so I didn't even know what happened. Then I thought, ok, 15 people are already up there, what the hell are you last 5 people doing?? You're just going to get in the way.

Anyway, after I got my energy back, I decided to tackle the bathroom ceiling again. That stucco old ceiling needed to come down and it was a bit harrowing in getting it down. It was about 4 to 5 feet long and 2 feet wide at least. Turns out it's also almost a full inch think. Ugh. It was heavy and wanted to come down in one piece. I'm glad I got it down though....despite all the nasty debris that came down with it. Here are some more pictures:

This one is a shot of the ceiling above the shower that had some of the old, old ceiling and debris before I cleared it away today.

This is what is ABOVE the old, old ceiling. So there was the ceiling of the bathroom, which I took down and then there was a stucco/plaster ceiling above it (see the pictures here). So now THIS is what is above the stucco ceiling. Crimeny. It's never ending. At least I got that RC Cola can and crap down. By the way, it was from the time when RC used to put baseball players pictures and stats on the can. Unfortunately, the 'Star' on my can was Dave LaRoche. Even in mint condition, which this one wasn't, it doesn't seem to be worth much.

So, as you can see, I still have a bit more of debris to clear away before the ceiling is where I want it to be. Getting there though....slowly but surely.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Indian Summer

For Dinner last night, el supremo, Ricardo and I went to Hema's Kitchen up on Devon and Oakley. Great restaurant by the way and it's BYOB. Have you noticed a theme the last two nights? When el supremo is in town, you're going to drink, so you might as well go BYOB and save some money!! I think I'm on to something. Although last night, el supremo picked up the tab as well. Thanks el supremo!! Normally, Ricardo or I pay for dinners and such as el supremo flies in from Albuquerque and pays his own way. It's only fair. Here are some pictures from last night:

Our three dishes that we shared, with the bottle of crazy bubbly Duvel. Apparently it should be served at 40-50 degrees and it was a bit warmer than that I fear. As such, it was like pouring a soda that you've shaken for a few minutes. Very little beverage and a whole lot of head (which this is the rare instance that saying "a whole lot of head" is a bad thing). Tikka Masala (chicken) is next to the Duvel. Lamb and okra is at 12 o'clock. at 9 o'clock in the picture is a spicy veggie dish...I think with lentils.

Look at that Duvel!! That was after 10 seconds or so too. Yes, I tilted the glass and poured it vvvveerrrryyyyy slowwwwllllyyyy. It didn't matter. The stuff was just off.

Here's Navus (sp?). What a nice waiter. Fun guy to have at the table. He was a good sport while I made fun of the desserts. Have you ever had a good Indian dessert? I have not. The one el supremo had (fried dough in some kind of honey or sweet glaze) was barely edible and the frozen(?) mango dish Ricardo had was just foul. Ugh. The streak continues.

Today, after dropping off el supremo, I hit the gym again. It was another solid workout with three reps of: pullups, bench press, squats and running/briskly moving up the stairs with 2-25 pound hand weights. There were some other exercises thrown in there too, but that was the core. I was beat.

However, I mustered up the strength to go meet Naperville Greg for our annual fish fry trip to Irish Oak. It's amazing how many of the world's problems can be solved by two guys with a few beers and some fried fish.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Democracy or Republic? Which are we??

This question came up in discussions with Ricardo yesterday. I know we are a republic and people talk about us being and spreading democracy, so what's the deal? Well, a quick trip to Wikipedia provides these succinct answers:

A republic is a state or country that is not led by a hereditary monarch, where the people of that state or country (or at least a part of that people) have impact on its government. The detailed organization of republics' governments can vary widely.

In political theory, Democracy describes a small number of related forms of government and also a political philosophy. A common feature of democracy as currently understood and practiced is competitive elections. Competitive elections are usually seen to require freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and some degree of rule of law. Civilian control of the military is often seen as necessary to prevent military dictatorship and interference with political affairs. In some countries, democracy is based on the philosophical principle of equal rights.

Majority rule is a major principle of democracy, though many democratic systems do not adhere to this strictly - representative democracy is more common than direct democracy, and minority rights are often protected from what is sometimes called "the tyranny of the majority".

Very interesting reading for a Thursday.

El supremo de NM is in town for the rest of the business week, so tonight we went to Adesso for dinner. It's a nice little Italian BYOB around the corner from me. I can't wait to take a date there! And no, el supremo does NOT count as a bastages.

Here's the tile design they have on the wall. Very nicely done.

Here's Kristi, our waitress, and the chef, who ran away and hid in the kitchen before I could get his name.

El supremo had pasta with a pesto sauce (and some green beans). He liked it except for the green beans.

This was my dish: lasagna. But it had something like three kinds of meat in it. Awesome!! I also had the caramelized onion soup....mmmmmm.

Stephanie Izard won the first week of Top Chef!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hypocrisy, the bane of my existence.

Everyone else is writing about Spitzer, so I will too. While Attorney General for New York, he led the charge against many, well established organizations and companies and brought about tremendous reform. The entire time he spouted off about bringing people to justice and doing what's right. He even levied charges against Morningstar at one point and it made front page news. When it was revealed that the charges were unfounded, you could find THAT information buried page 32. He constantly employed that tactic: throw a bunch of shit on the wall and hopefully something will stick. So I couldn't be happier that this ego maniacal hypocrite got busted. Personally, I don't even think prostitution should be illegal, but in this country it is so I love that it brought Spitzer down.

Next to being falsely accused of something, hypocrisy is second on the list of things that really irk me.

Another tough workout with Sadist Joel yesterday. We switched things up and worked on dead-lifts in addition to some new exercises. They are tough to describe, but most of them revolved around strengthening my grip and my forearms. It's sort of a new tactic that we're going to work in to the routine. I'm not looking to be Popeye or anything, but some improvement would be good. I'm definitely feeling much stronger as a result of these workouts and my intensity is much better during the workout. This week I finished all of the exercises he had planned with 5 minutes left to spare. As a "reward", we went to the gymnasium and I ran sprints. Fun for me.

The worst part of the workouts is trying to consume this whey protein (you were right Tim, none of it's good) so I can recover easier. It doesn't taste horrible. It just doesn't taste good. Next, I'm going to mix it with milk and frozen strawberries and see what happens. Here's hoping!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

We do not accept Visa, Mastercard or American Express. Discover? Sure. Personal Check? Absolutely. Welcome to the State of Illinois DMV.

This morning I went to get my drivers license renewed and with taking the written test, the entire process took less than an hour. The key apparently is to get there as close to when they open as possible. This will serve you in two ways: 1) the people are still relatively friendly and 2) most people who don't work are lazy so they don't get up early and those that have to work are AT work. All resulting in fewer jack-asses for me to deal with. :-)

Everything costs money and to renew your license costs $10. No big deal, but how surprised was I to see the sign that is the title of my blog today? It reminded me of this episode of Futurama that I saw not too long ago. The main character, Fry, is frozen accidentally and is unfrozen 1,000 years in the future. So he goes shopping and wants to use a credit card.
"Do you take Visa?"
"No sir. Visa went out of business 800 years ago."
"No sir. Mastercard went out of business 500 years ago."
"American Express?"
"No sir. American Express went out of business 300 years ago."
"No, I'm sorry, we don't take Discover."

Ha, that cracks me up just thinking about it. Discover exists but they still don't accept it.

Anyway, back to the DMV. Apparently all of my studying paid off as I was the first person with a perfect score (hopefully she was just talking about today!). Passed the vision test and got that restriction removed from my license too. Good stuff. Even took a decent picture!

Then I headed over to the auto repair place to have them check my car which is running "rough" since they changed my oil last week. Even Ricardo agreed that it was a problem. After talking to the guy there about the problem and having him listen to the car, he started going through the potential problems. I said which of those are likely to be related to the oil change? He said none of them. So why would the noises start only after the oil change? He says it's probably "Irodict". Hmmm, now I'm not the most versed person in auto care (though I just had a perfect score on my driver's exam), but I do know some things and I've never heard of "irodict" as a car problem. So I said, what's irodict and what's involved with fixing it? He said that he didn't know, it was just irodict that it happened after the oil change. Ooooooooh, on goes the light bulb above my head. "You mean it's a coincidence." I said. And with that, I took the car and left as they had no interest in taking responsibility for the noises. It's tough to find a good mechanic anywhere, much less in a big city like Chicago and it appears that these folks are no better than anyone else. Time to move on.

Fingertips hurt a bit from guitar last night. We had a substitute teacher, Nathaniel, who supposedly teaches intro classes but treated us as much more advanced. I think he gave us four new chords (on top of our two) and then had us try to use three to four of them in songs. Ugh. That's too much for an hour long class. Especially just the second one.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Chinese Irish

Sunday I ordered Chinese food for dinner, which is not unusual for me at all. They always give you a fortune cookie with it and here's what my fortune read: "Next week, green is a lucky color for you." So of course, I'm thinking they made these up just for St. Patrick's week. But how do they know how many to order? If they have extra, do they use them up AFTER St. Patrick's Day or do they hold on to them until the following year? Did I just eat a year old fortune cookie?

Here's an update on the bathroom.....pictorially.

Took out a bunch of the old insulation that was behind the shower pipes. Manual Labor Mike is going to have to have access to the pipes, so the insulation had to come out.

Here's where the old ceiling USED to be. I took out the rest of it on Sunday. Notice the old ceiling up above the electrical outlet. That's my next task for removal.

And here's why I want to take it out. Notice the RC Cola can? I wonder what else is up there!

Here's a close up of the old ceiling. It just looks awful and moldy and such. Better to just get rid of it and start anew with just the studs.

Speaking of studs, lesson number two on the guitar is tonight! Tomorrow is going to be busy too. I start with a meeting at church, followed by a trip to the DMV to renew my license, a trip to the mechanic to figure out why the car is running so rough after my oil change and then a trip to Sadist Joel. Should be an exhausting day!!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sposmodic contraction of the diaphragm

Friday night, for the first time in four years I believe, I had the hiccups. They would just not go away. Clearly it was related to my alcohol consumption, but they were annoying none-the-less.

Dejesus Freak and I hit an Irish party/fundraiser put on by an old buddy of mine with whom I've played on several co-ed softball teams and have attended several of his events. Coincidentally enough, Forest Park Kim (who I flew to see in Dallas a year ago), was in attendance. What a great gal as she introduced me to all of her very attractive friends. It was really nice to see her again and she continues to look absolutely awesome. Good for her.

The hiccups didn't go away until I got home, which meant that I had them the entire time that I was at a new bar on Clark. Can't remember the name, but Dejesus Freak and I went there after the fund raiser and they have a crap load of micro-brews. More importantly, they have both Goose Island Matilda and Piere Jacques. Both, excellent beers and what Dejesus Freak and I partook in two of as it turned out.

All that drinking made Saturday morning come really early and it was a busy day in deed. Around noon, I was meeting Naperville Greg and Kleveland Kim out by Woodfield Mall to help celebrate Greg's 40th birthday. As a surprise for my long time buddy, I got him the Joisey Ken Special, an automatic car starter! While it was being installed, we went to see No Country for Old Men, a movie we all wanted to see. It was pretty good, but it had sort of a Sopranos ending. We had lunch at Big Bowl before the movie and by the time the movie was done, so was the car. Good timing. Then we grabbed a cup of java from Caribou coffee. It was a pretty good day.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sadist Joe

It's full body workout day for me, basically the same workout that Sadist Joel does with me on Tuesday: three sets of pull-ups (I topped my personal best), bench press, squats, stairs with weight over head (four times for each set), shoulder press, row, then just one leg extension set and one butterfly. On Tuesday we did some different things, but these are the basics that I'm working on. There's a good combination of pushing and pulling exercises, arms and legs. Good stuff.

Manual Labor Mike made it over and he really likes my plan for the bathroom. He gave me the "all clear" to keep tearing away at the ceiling, which I hope to finish this weekend. Like Joisey Ken, he said there's no reason to remove the old ceiling if I don't want to do it. I just don't like the idea of a deteriorating nasty piece of dry wall up there above the ceiling. I'll feel better cleaning it all out and insulating the heck out of it for noise reasons.

Today I also picked up my whey protein isolate from the gym where Sadist Joel's buddy left it for me. Tomorrow I start using the supplement to make sure my body is getting the nourishment it needs. Yay for my body!!!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Whose blog is this anyway?

Another day, another black cloud for poor Ricardo. Normally he parks in off-street parking. Unfortunately, all of those spots were taken, so he had to park on the main street in front our building. Also unfortunately, he hasn't yet replaced his City of Chicago sticker, though he has it sitting on his kitchen counter. The police, who never go by the off-street parking, decided today would be a good day to check stickers on the main street in front of the building. So after going for a cup of coffee (I drove), he found a ticket on his car from the sticker which expired just 5 days ago. Ugh.

But then it all got worse. While checking my eHarmony account, I asked him to come over and give me his thoughts on one of my "matches", as I often do. He's a decent judge usually. So he spun around in his chair and spilled the coffee all over his desk....see the picture. All over his papers, business cards, everything. Unbelievable. Needless to say, I closed out the woman on the eHarmony site because clearly she had bad karma. JK.

I'm watching my third movie this week, Disturbia. The other two were The King of California and Transformers. Clearly the new episodes of the shows I like aren't running yet!

Friday is: church, work, the gym and then a drinking social event (more of a meat market thing disguised as a fund raiser). If I'm lucky, there will be a guest appearance by Manual Labor Mike too. He's going to look at the bathroom to see if there are unforeseen problems. Should be a good day. Plus I pick up an all natural protein mix recommended by my trainer, Sadist Joel. It should help me with my recovery from workouts, which can suffer a bit while I'm trying to lose weight as well as build strength. We'll see. I've never used one before.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

He failed on his Save vs. Death spell throw.

The deep down, never heard from geek in me was hurt just a little bit today by this news. The game was a significant part of my life for a few years during my pre-high school years.

Received an email from Ricardo today. It was a blog entry in waiting:

"Left my gym bag in the rental car.
No problem.
Just call and tell them and I can go pick it up.
Monday a.m. I go and they tell me they’ll look for it and call me.
They call a couple of hours later and say they have it, a green gym bag. “Great” I say. I’ll come get it.
Don’t go yesterday since the wife has the car. The bag's not going anywhere.
I go today and here’s what I’m told:
“We don’t have your bag. The attendant was mistaken. We have a black bag, not a green one. And the car was auctioned off on Friday after you dropped it off. So we no longer own it.”
I walked out in disgust."

I have to tell you, if anyone ELSE had sent this message I wouldn't have believed them. But I totally believe that it happened to Ricardo. The dude has a black cloud the size of Texas following him around.

As you know I'm on eHarmony and While some positive communications have been going on with eHarmony, Match, mostly, has been a bust as it was 2 years ago. There has been one promising lead from Match, but that's it. We'll see though. The game is still young!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Free Big Mac's for Everyone!!!

Had an interesting day today which involved: going to the car shop to get my oil changed and new wipers, going to see Sadist Joel (my trainer), dinner at Carmichael's Steak House and then to the Bulls game. A full day by all accounts.

The good thing about the car shop I go to is that they have free wifi. So while they are taking entirely too long to work on my car, I can actually get emails and do work in a relatively comfortable setting. The news is on the tv in the background, there are donuts and they serve a bastardized version of Starbucks. They SAY it's Starbucks, but it's not like any Starbucks I've ever had. Ugh.

My workout with Sadist Joel (my new name for him) was really tough. Did the stairs with the 25 lb weight again, pull-ups, bench press with dumbbells instead of a bar (works on your stabilizer muscles), squats, seated rows, lunges (basically until I couldn't do them anymore), and then hops up the stairs. The later was a bit odd. First I hopped up the stairs one at a time. Then I did them two at a time. Then three at a time! Those who know my issues with stairs, especially at my parents' house, might think this feat somewhat extraordinary. I kind of surprised myself actually.

My conditioning progress is most easily reflected, in my mind, by the number of pull-ups I can do. The pull-up is a function of both your strength AND your weight. If you think about it, you can be strong as hell, but if you have to pull up 300 lbs, it's going to be tough. If you weigh nothing but have no strength, again it's going to be tough. The reason I mention this in detail is that Sadist Joel said he was barely helping me towards the end of the reps. He said it felt like he was picking up a five pound weight or less. Which means, if he's not lying to me, that a little more strength or dropping a few pounds and I could show some real progress.

After my workout, I had some time to catch up on work and then off to dinner at Carmichael's Steak House down near the United Center, prior to going to the Bulls game. The invitation was extended by a banker with whom one of our clients just started banking, as well as several people from auditors that we have placed with two clients as well. The group, ten people including myself, was a good mix and also included a commercial insurance guy with whom I really struck it up and may get some business. If an insurance guy knows ANYTHING about their clients and their financial performance, much less personal issues, then they are someone I want to know. Good business guy. I'm going to set him up with a meeting next week when el supremo is in town.

AND the Bulls scored more than 100 points and won, so everyone gets a Big Mac. Interesting fact about Lakeview Coffee Joe, I've never had a Big Mac or a Whopper. Add that to the having never seen E.T., Rocky and have never smoked anything and maybe you can understand a little more about why I'm single. :-)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Good Lord that didn't sound right.

Another short entry today after going through my last one. It came across in entirely the wrong way I think. I'm not depressed or left wanting. My breakup was a bit of a shock, but I'm absolutely moving on. The concept of knowing someone intimately for five months and then never seeing them again in my life just seemed noteworthy.

Ok, 'nuff said. Just wanted to clear that up.

R.I.P. MWrigley

Kleveland Kim, as well as some other folks, have asked me if there's any chance of reconciliation with Melissa. Those who have known me for a while know that I keep in contact with almost all of my ex's. But to tell you the truth, I can't envision a scenario where Melissa and Iwould even talk to each other again.

It's not that the break up was so horrible or anything though. We don't have common friends. We don't hang out at the same places. We don't work together (though she is down the street, it's all industrial). Our paths are just very unlikely to ever intersect. I have no reason to call her and I can't think of a reason that she might have for calling me. So, somewhat interestingly, I doubt that I'll ever have contact with her again. Isn't that odd? After five months and spending the holidays together, she'll just be gone. It's a little weird.

For those who haven't met her in person, here are two of Melissa's eHarmony pics:

Tonight is my guitar lesson and I'll write about it tomorrow. Should be a good time, though I wish I had gone over the basic chords again yesterday. The weekend was sort of a loss for me as I get used to drinking socially again and building up my tolerance. In the last few months, I've really turned into a light weight from an alcohol perspective.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Another Sunday, more demolition.

An absolutely great day in Chicago today with temps somewhere near 50 and melting snow everywhere. Yay!! Unfortunately, I read that 21% of Chicago's snow falls after March 1st. Ugh. Temps are supposed to fall during the week and probably more snow by Wednesday. WTF!!!

So I did some more demolition today in order to be able to toss it out with the Monday garbage. As you recall, I want the demolition to be done in a way that I can still use the bathroom for as long as possible and also not overload our garbage bins. I opted for taking down the ceiling above the shower instead of the wall behind the vanity since I didn't have time to deal with the electrical. Here are some pictures:

Look how high above the old ceiling the floor above is! There's another three feet or so! I have to contemplate how high I want the ceiling to go. I might make it higher outside the shower and keep it at the same height in the shower. That will also create the illusion of more space.

Here's a picture from the shower looking back above the ceiling in the rest of the bathroom. That inspired the following two pictures.

This is above the ceiling looking back into the bathroom towards where the new window will be. The black larger pipe is an air vent. No big deal to move that. That other pipe, I think, is electrical. Look at the condition of the faux ceiling!! That has to come down.

Ugh, that's horrible. I definitely need to take that ceiling down too.

I tuned my guitar yesterday! I'm ready to go on Monday night!!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Such a different evening

As I mentioned on Thursday, I had a birthday party to go to for a softball teammate last night (Gangster Larry). It was held in Westmont which is down 55 to Cass and then north a bit. During rush hour it took me 90 minutes to get there.....ugh. The event location was a local pizza place/bar with a party room in back. Wings and nachos were the appetizers before the pizza was brought in. Here are some pictures from the event:

Here's the table with pictures and memorabilia from years 1-30 for Gangster.

Tino is in the foreground (congrats to him and his wife Laurie on being pregnant again!) and Gangster is talking to his dad in the middle of the picture.

The Dime brothers flank Sausage while they down Blue Moon. Yep, there was actually a decent beer available!! One half of E-Squared is in the lower right corner of the picture.

The "chick" table. Jenny and Kim, with their backs to me, are regulars at the games.

Afterwards, around 10:30 or so, Benny Baseball, Gangster and E-Squared decided to head to North Beach Bar at 355 andButterfield. Normally, I would have gone home at this point since it takes so long to get home, but NORMALLY I have a significant other in my life. So this night I opted to go out. Unfortunately for me, the bar was mostly filled with 20 somethings, but it was still fun to be out and people watch. Heck, just watching Benny Baseball work his magic on the dance floor like a python pretending to be a hypnotized cobra emerging from a basket was worth the trip itself. But my relatively early night turned into a 2 a.m. bed time and a slower start this morning. Such is the price one pays.

Yesterday afternoon I had another great work out. More stairs with 25 lbs over my head, bench presses, squats, pull-ups and rows. Very solid workout. Took another recovery bar after the workout and my body seems to be doing fine today. I love those things!!