Saturday, May 31, 2008

Outrunning a Tornado

Friday, on my way to a tournament in wonderful Troy, Illinois, about 20 north east of St. Louis, I and two teammates raced through funnel cloud producing thunderstorm fronts. First though, Sausage King Andy and I went golfing at Cinder Ridge golf course, about 90 minutes outside of Chicago. Golfing first allowed us to miss traffic in the afternoon and not arrive in Troy too early……there’s nothing to do here.

Anyway, after golf I called my buddy Sam from Springfield to see if he might be able to hook up on my way there or the way back. He mentioned that he was going to have a barbecue for his daughter’s birthday, but the tornadoes might cause them to change plans. The Tornadoes?? Yep, storms were supposed to be moving through. Aw crap. Shouldn’t be a problem for us though I’m sure.

Wrong. After listening to a Police album, I decided to turn on local radio and see what was going on with the weather. The radio folks were talking to a reporter who was in the basement of the state capitol with reporters, politicians and everyone else in the building as they wait for the tornado warning to pass. Yikes.

“If you along I-72 or I-55 between mile markers 80 and 108, you should take cover immediately.”
Shit, where am I?? Mile marker 115. The weather is fine though. Hmmm, better tell the other car I’m driving with about the impending bad weather.

Sure enough, as we approach 108, it’s starts raining and raining hard. Now there were reports of quarter sized hail and larger in various areas along the I-55 corridor. Shit!!

After torrential rain and very hazardous conditions, we decide to pull off at a McDonalds and let the weather system pass.

As it turns out, it’s coming in waves with about 20 minutes between waves. When the rain stopped, we hopped in our cars and hoped we could make it the 20 miles or so past the storms. Unfortunately, the front did something funky and another wave hit about ten miles into the journey. It was another torrential downpour and people were stopped left and right on the highway. We could drive about 40-45 mph, but no faster really. It was pretty hazardous. So we pulled off again and this time decided we’d wait a significant amount of time and have dinner at this bar, Fieldhouse Pizza and Beer.

Though they tout their pizza, I had the walleye fish special and it was really good! The pizza was like cardboard with some sauce and cheese on it. Sausage King Andy and JC got the pizza and were very unhappy with it.

The rain stopped again and again we hit the road. And again, the rains came and came hard. This time we decided to plug through as we didn’t hear about any hail (the real issue with driving).

Finally we arrived in Troy though and after a quick shower, hit the bar across the road for a much needed beer. Tomorrow, the softball tournament.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Syphilis is Back. When was your last test?

That's the sign on a medical facility near my house that I see when I walk back from my training session with Sadist Joel. Syphilis is back?? What, did people think; it's been on vacation since taking out Al Capone? Though I guess you don't hear about stars having syphilis in the news rags like you do with other diseases like hepatitis. And are people getting tested for it on a regular basis? "When was your last test" sort of implies that people are getting tested regularly. Odd.

Just read that Harvey Korman has passed away at the age of 81 due to complications of an aneurysm. The dude was DA BOMB when it came to sitcom humor back in the day. What he did on the Carol Burnett show impacted me for years. His work as The Great Gazoo on The Flinstones was pretty memorable as well. And don't even get me started on High Anxiety, Blazing Saddles and History of The World. As Mel Brooks said, "It's a more serious world" without Harvey Korman.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Softball and Golf

So many things to write about, but I'm going to split them up. Tomorrow I leave for St. Louis for an eight team softball tournament on Saturday (just one day). The winner (and only the winner) qualifies for their World Series in Florida in September. We're sending a pretty good team down there and start off at 11 a.m. against a team from Missouri. Those things bode well: later start against a local team (might not be as good because they didn't have to travel to get there).

On the way down though, Sausage Andy (from my softball team) and I are going to play some golf at a course called Cinder Ridge. I played there just after they opened several years ago and I thought it was nice and would only get better. We'll see. It's pretty far down hwy 55 so we'll be far away from any rush hour traffic after we finish.

The big question is do I stay over Saturday night in Troy, IL at the Super 8 or do I drive home? It really depends on how well we do, how I feel and the weather conditions. I'm inclined to come home and spend all of Sunday back here, but I don't control all of the variables.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Success!! The Window is in!!

I couldn't wait to post these pictures! The glass block window installer just finished installing the window in the bathroom and I couldn't be happier!

First he knocked out the rest of the frame and the wood covering from the old window opening using a small sledge hammer like tool. It's a cross between a sledge hammer and a regular hammer, so about the size of a regular hammer but it brings the pain!!

Anyway, then he started the installing of the new window in two pieces, which means less grout and chance for leakage than if he built the window block by block here on site. He also cemented in all around the block frame, including the ledge which had huge gaps after I removed the wooden ledge. Then he took all of the old wood and crap with him!! Whoo-hooo! Bonus! Throwing away an 8 foot piece of plywood with nails sticking out all over is not fun in the city.

Here are some pics.

Rich from Linear Glass Block using his fist to hit the block to move it into place.

The finished ledge area. I'll be drywalling and tiling all of this.

The finished top. Very clean lines!!

The view from the hallway with the light on in the bathroom. I'm not sure if I'll expose that top line of glass with the vent pipe or furrow it out with dry wall. TBD.

Picture from the hallway without the light on and no flash. Natural light!! Whoo-hoo!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Relaxing Memorial Day

Monday was a return to my post-Morningstar and pre-sort-of-working life. I got up relatively early and headed down to Starbucks to get coffee and read the paper......and watch people go by. The weather was very nice and the tables outside were partially in the sun and partially in the shade. I nimbly moved between the two and straddled them as necessary to secure the right temperature.

A nice trip to the grocery store followed where I purchased my grilling grub for the rest of the day. For lunch I opted for Italian sausage. Then I took a long walk around the neighborhood.

Dinner was a strip steak and a portobello mushroom marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with crumbled feta cheese. I ate it with a glass of pinot noir on the back porch in my quiet retreat. It was very nice.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Softball in the burbs, baseball in Houston.

Forgot to mention that we had a softball tournament in Arlington Heights on Saturday. Not sure why we were even entered into this particular tournament as we have already qualified for this organization's world series in Tampa in September. That's one of my issues with the way the team is run: unnecessary tournament play as if we have nothing else to do on a weekend. We have tournaments 3 out of the next 4 weekends. So what's wrong with a weekend off? At least play in a meaningful tournament, which was happening in Rockford and was run by a different organization.

Anyway, I hit pretty well (probably close to .700) but blew a chance to win the last game with a runner on second and two outs by not getting a hit. Crap. Though I made some plays in the field, I also made some bad errors. Our entire team did actually. We haven't been as sharp defensively since our 15-0 tournament start. In four games I played 3b, 1b, middle infield and then back to 3b.

For you Cubbie fans out there, you have heard about Ron Santo's comments during the recent Astros series. Apparently this fan was holding up a sign and it just happened to block poor Ron's vantage of home plate. Boy did it irritate him. At one point he talked about going down there and punching the guy!! And this is on the radio!!! When the guy leaves in the 8th inning as the game is in hand, Ron says something to the effect of "Yeah, good night. Sorry to see you go." Too funny. Cubs won 7-2. I was at guitar class so I didn't hear any of it or watch the game on TV. Here's some pics though:

Perfect shot of what Ron saw. He really got worked up!

Apparently he could hold the sign by either end. Too funny.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day in Mokena

If you don't know where Mokena Illinois is, you should look it up on Google Maps. From me it's about 45 minutes mostly south and a bit west. At least it's only about 45 minutes NOW that construction is done on three major highways that I need to take to get there: 94 (Ryan), 57 and 80. The odds of having one construction free highway in Chicago are pretty infinitesimal much less three of them. But both the trip down there and the trip back were uneventful.

Here are some pics from the event:

Sooo many cars and soooo many SUV's. That means kids a plenty.

Very nicely landscaped front yard. Fresh fertilizer made it smell funk-a-licious.

The hostess with the mostess, Sandie, and hubby Terry. My bad on not getting pictures of the food. From memory there was: ribs, chicken etoufee, beef satay, four or five kinds of salad, crap loads of appetizers that I can't even start to describe and a ton of desserts. One dessert that I had was two chocolate chip cookies with ice cream in the middle and half dipped in milk chocolate. Holy crap!!

The primary outdoor party area. Spacious!

Another party area with a table of regulars. Let's see how many I can name: on the left is Brian McCaskey (yes of the Bear ownership McCaskey's), his gal whose name starts with an 'A' but escapes me, Uncle Tim, someone I don't know in yellow, Terry, the dude in yellow's wife, another gal I don't know and her beau in green who was from Atlanta I think.

Buddy Kels, single mother of two Cathy and someone else's baby.

Kels giving a shot at guitar hero. Terry was showing him how. Joe was smart enough to avoid the game.

Bathroom update! I took out some more of the window frame and afterwards contacted the window installation guys to see how much of it I should remove. After looking at these pictures, they said they could handle the rest. Now it's just a matter of when they can get in to do the work.

The bottom of the window frame. I'm going to need to fill in these gaps with some cement I think.

The top of the window currently. The new glass block window is going to have an operable air vent and a special glass block with a round hole in it for the exhaust pipe. Should be cool if it all works.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend......

.....and at least give a little thought to those who gave their lives in defense of our way of life.

Another beautiful day in was so chilly and cloudy, I lit a fire!! Yep, a fire. Ugh. Unfortunately, I only had two logs to toss on the fire, but my Christmas tree limbs were plenty dry and ready to start the fire off right. It was nice and toasty while it lasted and I was even able to take a little nap. Mmmmmmmm, a nap........

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chrysler will save you from the high price of gas!!!

That's what their most recent commercial screams at the viewer.....playing on the masses' fears. A nice marketing ploy to tell you the truth, but here comes the numbers!!!!

It's good for 3 years.
Each year it covers the first 12,000 miles.
It allows you to buy gas for $2.99 a gallon.

Now some assumptions:

1) Gas will stick at about $3.75 a gallon on average. Currently it's a little higher, but all indications are that it will go much lower later in the year. So let's just take this as an average. You'll see that it basically becomes irrelevant.

2) The average Chrysler will get you 25 mpg with a mix of city and highway driving.

So 12,000 miles/25 mpg= 480 gallons of gas a year. Big number yes??
Average saving per gallon: $3.75-$2.99=$.76 per gallon.
Average dollar savings per year for each year: 480 gallons x $.76= $365 per year.

Now, if I'm spending $25,000+ on a car, $365 per year for three years is NOT going to sway my decision making. You're barely even getting $1,000 cash back and it's paid over three years not up front. BTW, I'm not discounting the savings into present day dollars which makes the deal even worse. This just goes to show you that people will take advantage of you if you're not careful and don't do the math!!!

Math Part Deux

As some of you know, I've had trouble with my lower level getting flooded when it rains about 4" in an hour (which has happened two of the last three years). Due to the frustration of tearing up my carpet and replacing the padding, I have not replaced it and will not until a few things are accomplished to help prevent the flooding. We need to reroute the down spout from the roof into the yard instead of the main sewer line and I need to build some sort of barrier outside one of my a big step. One of those things is took place yesterday. We routed the downspout from the roof out of the main sewer line of the building and out into the yard. When it rains really hard, this will move a lot of water out of our catch basin. How much water? Here comes the math again!!!

My building roof is approximately 45 feet wide by 80 feet long.
4" of rain equals .33 feet of rain.
There are 7.48 gallons in a cubic foot (got this off the web).

So the catchment area of the roof is 45 x 80 = 3,600 sq. ft.
The formula for the number of gallons in my catchment area when it rains 4" is:
3600 sq.ft. x .33 ft x 7.48 gallons/cubic foot= 8,976 gallons of water!! Can you freaking believe it?? No wonder everything floods!!!! I get maybe 20-30 gallons of water downstairs in the worst of flooding conditions....paltry compared to what is trying to move through my sewer line.

Now that's a big pipe! (That's what she said.)

The extension from the metal downspout is a plastic tube which runs further into the yard.

That clay stand pipe on the ground USED to come up from the catch basin to meet the downspout. We took that out because it was just sitting there. They then put a two metal covers over the top of the hole the stand pipe was resting on.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spending more time on the playground would save me $75 an hour!

Had my training session with sadist Joel today. Two of the exercises he had me do, I could have perfected on the playground, supporting once again that most of what you need in life you had as a kid. The first exercise was basically the old "monkey bars". There are 3 sets of two grips used for doing pull-ups. My objective was to move between the various grips as quickly as possible in no particular order and altering my over or under grip. It was pretty interesting and I'm much better than I was a month ago. Then he had me jumping up stairs as quickly as possible: first two steps at a time, then three at a time and then trying four. I could have done all of this on the playground....or near a playground at least. Though it might look odd for a 42 year old to be hanging out at a playground.

So a few non-regular readers have found and commented on my blog including the manager of The Stratton Funds and Amy Freeze at Fox by using high powered search engines. Apparently more often than I realize, companies will search on their employees names and the company name to see what's out there. Well, it happened again, this time with poor T-Rex Tim and that awful picture I posted with him after a Cubs game. During his meeting with HR, they brought out the picture and questioned him about it. Ugh. My bad. Have to be more careful about what I post if it includes friends and their companies!!!

You gotta be kidding me?! Dale gets sent home because Lisa can't take direction OR cook and Andrew is a total loser?? Please. He has more talent than both of those ass-clowns put together. Sure he was obnoxious. I'm not denying that at all. That butterscotch scallop dish sounded awesome and the judges thinking it was too sweet makes me think it was just right. Even giving the judges the benefit of the doubt, having Lisa in the kitchen is a huge, huge barrier to success to overcome. Her and the hat freak are clearly the weakest links left and really those two could have been justifiably eliminated in any previous week. Yet Dale gets sent home. Puhlease.

Steph won again though! Whoo-hoo!! Her and Richard on the same team are unstoppable. My new rankings:
Dumb and Dumber.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Not a stimulating day today

No pictures and not much going on today. My alarm went off at 7, but I was really exhausted so I turned it off and slept in until 9:30!! Yowza! I wasn't expecting that! The golfing with potential clients (which went well) followed by guitar class must have tuckered me out.

My Starbucks continues to enforce their refill policy, so I haven't been going back there in the afternoon. Other Starbucks are not enforcing the policy, so mine happens to be a rogue store....or they don't want me to come back in the afternoon! Not sure. Well, I'm adapting with either not having the afternoon coffee or going to another store. So far no other store has asked me to pay full price in the last ten days or so.

This weekend I have a one day local tournament on Saturday and Sunday I'm headed for Mokena, my annual pilgrimage to the far south side. It's always a good time down there with great food, good drinking (not too much because of the drive home) and some fun folks.

Good news on the cell phone front! I've decided to get the new Blackberry Bold when it comes out in July. Just seems to make sense to wait for it as opposed to getting a Curve or a Pearl, unless they go on sale for really cheap.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Golf and Guitar

Today I went golfing with an insurance agent ( a really good business insurance guy) who knew one his clients is in need of my consulting services. The day of business went very well, but my day of golf was much less so. On the front nine I three putted 4 holes in route to a 46 and on the back I had 6 penalties in route to a 46. Unbelievable. I did birdie one hole and had another birdie rim all the way around the cup and come back at me. Nice.

My new driver performed pretty well as did my new hybrid. Yes, I went shopping on Saturday at Dick's Sporting Goods and walked out with two new clubs, pants, two hats.....geesh, I don't even know what else. It was a good excursion.

After taking a quick shower when I got home, I raced off to my guitar lesson. It seems no matter how much I practice, I feel pretty stupid in class. Today I was sitting next to a gal from the Tuesday class who was doing a makeup and she was pretty damn good. That didn't help me feel any better about myself. I like sitting next to bad players!!

While in class, I got a call from Portage Park Michelle (the gal of "chased by a black bear" fame). She was going to schedule some sessions with Sadist Joel, but apparently she's been in a head on car crash!! She said she's beat up, but ok. God speed PPM!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Congratulations to El Supremo de New Mexico!

El Supremo's kidney donation went without a hitch and he's recovering at a hotel near his hospital in Hartford. His sister, the recipient, is also doing well. Whoo-hoo!!!

Here are some pictures of the white morels I picked from my back yard. Apparently there are indeed "hunts" that take place for these little buggers, but all I had to do was go out into my relatively shady and damp back yard. Perfect mushroom growing conditions!! Here are some more sites about morels and morel hunting. Thanks again to FP Kim for the links and info. By the way, one site posted my pics!!

I'm going to dry them on a pan in the boiler room.

The biggest is about 6" tall!! Nice!

Many of you know that I've considered shaving my head for about 9 months or so. Though I've come very close to making the call, I haven't done it yet and after seeing this picture in a magazine, I may not!! I asked Ricardo if I would look like this if I shaved my head. He confirmed my suspicions that I probably would....without the glasses of course and I'd have a goatee. Still, not as appealing as I had hoped.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Notes and Oil Rant

Another quick TC4 note, did anyone else think that even Judge Tom thought a boxed lunch was a ridiculous challenge? It really was a stupid idea, so I wouldn't blame him.

Meanwhile, this is the scene that happened today on my way to work:
I turn to WBBM radio to get some news while other stations are at commercial.
A car turns onto Halsted in front of me....a slow moving old man driving some old guy car.
Shit. C'mon your f#$!%&$ car or get off the road!!
"Fatality figures have been revised up due to the devastating cyclone that ripped through Myanmar."
Ok, maybe the dude in front of me isn't really that big a deal. sigh.....

In this day and age of high gas prices, there are many emails floating around on how to save gas. I refer you all to this website provided by Hopefully they have not been influenced by the oil companies.

Speaking of oil, I seriously hope that Bush is in Saudia Arabia trying to get them to pump more oil as a way to placate the masses here in the U.S. and not as a move to actually reduce the price of oil anywhere. It's generally known (by those who need to know) that Saudi oil is pretty "dirty", more of the Budweiser of the oil world, where light sweet crude is what is really needed. Though that's only part of the whole story. What we really needed was more gas refineries here in the U.S. and they needed to be built 10 years ago. Instead, through consolidation of Big Oil during a time of low gasoline prices, facilities were being leveled. Their thought, as with any industry with few players, if you reduce or control the supply, given a constant demand, the price will increase. Well, that worked!! Combine that with oil actually going up 3x-6x in price and you have some huge, huge profits. It's good to be king.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Golfing etc!

Today I played in a golf outing benefiting a group that goes down to Honduras to build homes and other buildings (this year it will be a orphanage). Two of my regular three partners in my golfing team were playing and one of them paid for our entire group! It's up to the rest of us to buy drinks, enter the raffle, bid on stuff....basically spend money on other things. It's also a competition though and we won! It was our first team victory of the year. The weather conditions were tough, but we fought through it and we had a great time.

For winning, we each received a free round of golf and cart rental at this particular club (about an hour away). The three guys I was playing with though are all members at a "sister" club, so they can play for free already!! So they generously gave me all four rounds. What nice guys!! And here they are:

Left to right: Me, Stevie "wonder", Dan "the sponsor" and Jake "the pro" (he actually is a pro by the way). On the longest drive contest hole, I blasted one past the then current longest drive by about 10+ yards and it managed to hold up under a severe attack by Jake. Unfortunately, even though almost the entire field of players had already hit, someone came along and bested my drive. Damn.

TC4 was a pretty good episode last night. My fantasy lineup (Dale, Stephanie and Richard) did well again and none of them were in the bottom three. In fact, both Dale and Stephanie were up for the win and Dale took home the W. Still, a fine effort by Stephanie.

The bottom three were Spike, Andrew and Lisa. They could all get sent home for all I care. Apparently Andrew failed to include all of the food groups in this challenge. Lisa narqued him out!! The hypocrite bitch!! Just what, two shows earlier?, she completed ignored the rules in a challenge and didn't get sent home. But here, in front of the judges, she throws Andrew under the bus. Nice. She totally has to go next.

The challenge was to cook a nutritious boxed lunch for some policemen or firemen or something. A boxed lunch! How retarded is that?? I mean seriously, is this really a challenge fit for top chefs? Once again, the show disappoints in their challenges. All of the catering challenges have been too much and now this? This one has to be the worst......except for making a nutritious dinner for four on $10 while shopping at Whole Foods. That was really, really weak.

Here's my ex-boss doing good! Thanks to Ricardo for the link.

An interesting link from FP Kim regarding my mushroom entry. Hmmmm, maybe I SHOULD eat them?

Finally, one of my business partners, el supremo de New Mexico, donated his kidney to his sister on Wednesday. Everything went well and both are recovering nicely.

TC4 Comments

I'm going golfing today on a charity outing, so I'll have to make an update late tonight. Sorry all!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Three shower day....four if you count the rain.

I know Joisey Ken will get a kick out this entry, because he's always giving me shit when we travel about how many showers I can take in a day. Today I took my normal shower after waking up. Can't do anything before that shower.

Then I did my workout with Sadist Joel and even though I could barely walk afterwards, I managed to hit the showers. Much needed I must say as it was a nasty workout including doing squats with weights until I couldn't do anymore and doing the same thing with pull-ups using two different grips and resting in between doing jumping jacks and/or push-ups. Man am I beat.

Finally, I needed to start tearing out the window casing as I have a quote on the glass block window which should be installed in the next three weeks. Sweet! Below are the pictures of the event, though I'm by no means done.

This is what the window looked like at the start of the evening.

I had taken some of the installation out before I realized I wanted to take pictures.

Here's all of the wood that I took out from the frame, or at least most of the wood.

Look at the pulley window!! The wheel is still in tact at this point. It's next on the list though. The glass block guy wants me to go to the brick.

And look at these pulley weights!! They are 8 lb weights each. Let me know if you have a use for them. Blow up the picture if you want to take a closer look.

Finally, after all of this dirty work, I had to take my third shower of the day. It can be really dirty work.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Missed my Monday Post!

Sorry for missing my post late yesterday, but hopefully I'll still catch you this morning. A few phone calls surrounding my guitar class and it was 11:30 before I knew it. This morning I had a 7:00 a.m. meeting at my church (the exorcism didn't work!!), so I couldn't stay up late writing last night.

Decided to change the color and format of the blog. Let me know what you think.

These mushrooms are growing in my back yard. Common sense says, don't try to eat them. Everything online says they are "choice"! Damn me and my sensibilities.

They are all over one portion of the yard and I've never seen them there (or anywhere in the yard) before. Very odd.

I thought maybe they were growing above a rotting tree root or something, but here you see them growing up through pavers. They are in the yard, in the gardened area and in between these pavers. Guess that doesn't mean they aren't sprouting from a tree root, but it seems less likely.

Here's is one cut open and splayed. They are basically hollow. Interesting.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Like school on a class.

Quiz: how many people form The Police and what instruments do they play? Answer below.

So many things to learn, so little time. During the day Saturday, I was able to hit the Edward Hopper Exhibit at the Art Museum. Soooo many things that I didn't know about him and his works. First, the dude was 6'7". I tell you what, there are NOT going to be any more 6'7" painters/artists coming out of this country. How can I say that? Just think about it. Your kid is 6'7" or on his way to it. Are you shoving a basketball in his hands or a paint brush. If you said the latter, ask your husband what HE'S going to do. I guarantee you the basketball will win.

Most of the time, Hopper's wife was the model for his paintings, but he would make the woman much more attractive in the painting. Interesting.

Though he painted telephone poles frequently in his paintings, he almost never painted the wires. Very odd.

So that was the trip to the Art Museum. If you're going to do the audio tour, like I did, bring your own headset (like I did). No headphones for me where I don't know what freaky tourist was using them. Yech.

But my day of learning was far from over!! The Allstate Arena was hosting The Police and I was going! First, I didn't realize Sting was back playing with them on this tour. Yeah, obvious I know. I'm not that bright. Second, I had no idea that The Police only have three members and that they play the drums, bass guitar (Sting) and lead guitar. Wow. All of that music and only three members. I don't know how often you'll see THAT it the future either. Their concert was inspirational. Absolutely amazing.

Friday, May 09, 2008

My world is changing

A huge shock was heaped upon me today. As you know, I enjoy my coffee. Yes, I do. Possibly a little too much? Possibly. And almost exclusively Starbucks coffee.

A little background on my coffee consumption life. When, Joe, did you have your first cup of Joe? High school? Nope. Surely college? Nope. It wasn't until 1993 at the ripe ol' age of 27. During high school and college I was taking allergy medication that was loaded with caffeine so a cup of coffee, hell, even a few Cokes or one Mountain Dew would get my heart literally fluttering. It was pretty scary actually.

But a very stressful time at work triumphed all and I ventured across the street to the local Dunkin' Donuts for my first cup. Enough milk and sugar and I was hooked. Having a Starbucks at the end of my street AND at my train stop didn't help....not to mention that back then they had mostly cute baristas!

So back to the present day. My current addiction consists of two 20 ounce cups of 1/2 decaf a day, though sometimes I throw in a third cup that is either 1/2 decaf or all decaf. My first cup costs me $2.03 currently and my second cup, for the last 10 years or so, has been granted to me at the refill price of $.55. The official Starbucks policy on refills is that you can get the refill price if you either are still in the store where you purchased the first cup or it's within an hour of your purchase. Starbucks in general, not just mine at the end of the street, would waive the technical details of the policy as long as I had my cup. Apparently the original policy is going to be enforced again starting on Monday!!!

Arrrrghhhhhhh!!! So, am I going to pay the increased cost or alter my drinking habits? The cost would be about $550 a year extra. Seems a small price to pay to actually change my afternoon coffee habit. Hmmm, I will think about it though. Taking some caffeine out of my diet might not be a bad thing. What do you guys think?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Football and Food. Hand in hand.

Boy did I rack it up on TC4 last night!! Having Stephanie and Richard along with Dale on my fantasy chef lineup racked up 28 pts for me!! Whoo-hoo!! I'm still in 99th place, but I missed a week at least early on. Top 100 for Joe!!

The retard Nikki finally was sent home.....only about 8 shows too late!! Argh. It can be so frustrating watching this show. Steph's cake looked AWESOME and Richard clearly is one of the best on the show as well. Both of them along with Dale are the top three most talented chefs on the show in my opinion. Antonia follows up fourth as she has come on pretty well as of late.

Now, regarding "cry baby" Dale. You can't tell me that Gordon Ramsay wouldn't act the exact same way as Dale if not worse. They are both overly emotional (most likely immature) perfectionists. It's a competition, he adds color and clearly the dude has mad skillz. I cut him some slack.

On a completely different note, I had a question in my mind about NFL drafted rookies. The weekend after the draft, for most teams, the rookies and others head off to a mini-camp with their new team. There they go through drills and get worked out. Mind you, the vast, vast majority of these players have yet to sign a contract. What happens if they get hurt? If you're the number one pick, you might have $15M-$20M in guaranteed money coming to you and you could blow a knee running drills. What happens?? Why would a rookie agree to do take this risk?

Well, as it turns out the players and teams agree to Letters of Agreement (LOA's) which state that if the player gets hurt, the team will still give him a contract (or pay him) commensurate with his drafted position. I mention this because it's something that really bothered me after Benson held out from the Bears camp after he was drafted. He went to these mini-camps, but didn't go to training camp because of a contract hold out. My thought is, why not go to the regular camp with the same LOA in place and at least you won't be so far behind the rest of the team because you've been to the practices and the training camp? Aren't you even MORE valuable to the team then?? If the contract isn't agreed to, sit out starting with the regular season, but don't miss the training camp! Again, seems so obvious that something must be wrong with it......or everyone in the NFL is a moron.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wear your seatbelt!!

Feeling much better today thank you very much. Another nine hours of sleep and lots of fluids have done the trick for me. Whoo-hoo!!

Felt good enough to go into the office today and on my way home I heard the following bit of information. The state police are strictly enforcing the seatbelt laws and want to make a big public to do about it as we near the first major driving holiday of the year. Because of drivers using seatbelts (the story said) there were only 1250 auto related deaths in Illinois last year, the least amount in 83 years. Wait. What?? In 83 years? So like since 1925? What the hell kind of traffic was on the road in 1925? Horses pulling wagons? I mean seriously, if there were more than 1,250 auto related deaths in 1926, wouldn't that mean that just about every car in Illinois had an auto related death associated with it?? The Scopes Trial was that year. The Chrysler Corporation was FOUNDED that year. The NFL added five teams that year: New York Giants, Detroit Panthers, Providence Steam Roller, a new Canton Bulldogs team, and Pottsville Maroons. It just seemed like an unbelievable statistic to me.

A sad note about Baskin-Robbins. Irvine Robbins passed away at the age of 90. Go grab a cone for poor guy.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Still fighting....might be winning!

Decided to sleep in today and got to bed relatively early last night to make for 9 hours of zonked out sleep. It seemed to help, along with the massive amounts of fluids I had during the day yesterday. So today I was actually feeling pretty well except for a little sore throat. In fact, I was able to do my workout with Sadist Joel and perform pretty well, though we didn't do any endurance work really (one could argue it's all endurance even when I'm strength training). After the workout, I hit the steam room for 15 minutes or so to get my core up and try to sweat out anything that might be trying to reproduce inside me. Didn't seem to hurt, so hopefully it helped!

No details on my workouts with Sadist Joel lately because we're doing various exercises that would take far, far too long to describe. I've made the decision to toss in some treadmill work during the week though in addition to my two other workouts. My goal there is to help shed some weight while I'm getting stronger. We'll see how May treats me.

Kudos to T-Rex Tim!! He has finally found employment.

Anyway, kudos to Tim for finding employment. He starts Monday. Good luck my man!!!

Finally, I love this story....except for the guy dieing. I'm just picturing this scene with this woman, drunk, driving her car and saying to herself "I'll show them Red Sox fans. I'll scare the shit out of them. Here we go......hey, that one guy isn't moving"....thud. Meanwhile the Yankees fan is saying, "I'm not moving......I'm not moving......She's going to stop......She's going to stop....."...thud. Unbelievable. Now the driver gets a free trip to the pokey for second degree murder. Let me know how much you love Derek Jeter in 5-9 years.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fighting off a little something

Maybe it was the cold, windy six hour day outside on Saturday. Maybe it was the three hour drive afterwards. Maybe it was a dirty air conditioning filter at the hotel. Who knows? Either way, I'm fighting off a little tickle in my throat today.

In addition to being a little tired, I got too much sun and or wind on Saturday and Sunday. My thinly protected scalp is a nice shade of pink. I didn't think the sun was strong enough to do anything, but I was outside most of both days and now the old noggin' is a little sensitive.

The Hopper Exhibit is leaving the Art Museum this week, but I'm going to try and see it before it leaves town. If you haven't been to my house, you haven't seen the two Hopper's that I have hanging up. I'm a pretty big fan.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

...and boy did we suck.

Unbelievable how bad we played this weekend. Wow. We totally sucked. In three games, my OBA was 6-9, for a .667 average, but I didn't play well defensively. The team hit MUCH worse than that as we got SHUT OUT in the first game, killed a team 18-0 or something, and then were getting killed and shut out again before scoring two runs in our last at bats and losing 21-2. It was horrible. In our first game we had the first two guys on in an inning twice and didn't score. Another time we had the bases loaded with one out and didn't score (and didn't hit into a double play!). Unbelievable.

So the three hour drive home wasn't as pleasant as I would have liked, though it was today as opposed to tomorrow!!

If you didn't see this article, you should really read it.

And congratulations to Joisey Ken who set a wedding date, July 12!!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Sucking across state lines.

Ahhh, the best laid plans. Leave Chicago early. Get to Indy early. Go somewhere and have a nice meal. Watch the ball game and grab a beer. Nice and relaxing.

Well, MOST of that actually happened, but the restaurant/bar recommendation we received was terrible. It wouldn't have been sooo bad if there wasn't a really nice place just across the street!! We actually asked them about the place across the street and they said this other place was better. I'm not sure what kind of world they live in, but clearly they haven't actually been to the place across the street. Unbelieveable.

I was able to hit the hot tub after we arrived and I feel pretty good. Early to bed and then up at 7 or so in the a.m. First game is at 10. All of the teams are from Indiana, which actually bodes well for us. Usually only good teams travel. If you suck, the last thing you want to do is spend several hundred dollars to go suck in another state!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Heading to Indy

This weekend is a softball tournament in Indianapolis. It's supposed to just be Saturday, but the weather could push it to Sunday. In order to alleviate stress and any potential mishaps, I'm heading down early on Friday, leaving around 1:30 or so. This way I can clear Chicago's traffic and get a decent meal in Indy. Leaving later might lead to a fast food meal which might not be the best for playing on Saturday.

This tournament is our third World Series qualifier in three weeks. They have all been for different organizations and we qualified for one and lost miserably in the other. We're hopeful for this tournament, though a lot of our success is going to come down to our pitchers and how well they can field their position in addition to throwing quality strikes. The strike zone is higher in this organization, so our hitters may have a tough time adjusting. I should be ok though as I can take the higher strikes to right field pretty easily.

I feel like I'm finally getting caught up after my trip to Myrtle.......most of the time at least. The bathroom still needs work done and so many other things, but I'm making progress. My business partner, el supremo de NM, was in town for work so I've been busier than normal anyway. In case you don't know the story of what el supremo is doing in two weeks, you should check out his blog. Truly remarkable.

Time to practice guitar before my trip tomorrow. Have a great weekend everyone!!