Monday, June 30, 2008

If you don't practice, you don't get better.

Last week with el supremo in town meant that I didn't have much time to practice. Throw in a Cubs game Wednesday, a date on Thursday, softball practice and the Cubs/Sox game on Saturday and finally the Pride parade on Sunday.....and there's not much time for practicing the guitar. So guess who sucked ASS in class tonight? Yeah, that would be me. Thanks el supremo. I blame you. BTW, I'm trying to play Wonderful Tonight, by Eric Clapton. Great song....played by people other than me.

For no particular reason, I decided to track the history of my Blue Cross, Blue Shield monthly premiums. For tax purposes, since I'm self employed, the premiums are deductible so I keep close tabs on them. Here's what they've been:

2003

$282

2004

$305

2005

$327

2006

$425

2007

$448

2008

$504


Is it me or does that seem excessive? Anyone got a good plan? My deductible is pretty low, $250 I think, and I can go to just about any doctor. Thoughts?

And if you missed it, the wonderful Amy Freeze from Fox News (the weather bunny!) commented again on my parade pictures entry. Good stuff. I'm thinking I like the "weather bunny" label. Amy, your thoughts? Weather chick? Weather gal? You're not going to get away with a label that's too flattering...just FYI!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Pride Parade

Didn't have much else to do today (other than see to Spain's goal against Germany on their way to victory), so I checked out the Gay Pride Parade in a little more detail than normal. Usually I just glance around while getting my afternoon coffee, but today I stuck around and took pictures as well as a short movie clip. Enjoy!!



The 39th annual parade..... so the first one was in 1969!













Dawn Clark Netsche, some government official, looks to be the Marshall.













The mounted cops.













Apparently the parade "Queen".

















Crazy like 'nawleans.


































Outside Hydrate, you're at least getting misted and provided some relief from the heat. It wasn't too hot today though. Some cloud cover helped.










Now THAT'S a hat!












Even the pooches are showing their support.












I didn't realize so many Iowa Hawkeyes were gay. Maybe it's just their alums. :-)













Local ABC news folks. I didn't see the Fox float, so I didn't get to see if Amy Freeze was on there or not.










The WGN float had Tom Skilling AND Bozo the Clown!! Who knew?!?













Chicago's police and firemen.












There's always a political agenda as well. There were a bunch of other thoughts expressed as well.
O'Bama's supporters were out in huge numbers as you might expect. No McCain float for some reason.










Some crazy headgear and outfits.












Look at this action shot!! Those two women were smokin'!!!












If you put up with gay guys in thongs, you get to see gay women grinding on each other! Whoo-hoo!













Oh, yeah, and nipple pasties! They were a hit with everyone seemingly. Not as many women as I thought would be wearing them actually were.









I tried to document as many as possible....












....at least what I could find.....

















......you know, for my readers.......











.....who couldn't be there to see the happenings....

















.....for themselves.










This lesbian gal was cute! Damnit.













Some people dressed up for the event though.












The blond in the foreground was all dressed up, while another gal just has a bikini top on. All are welcome.












I thought this was one of the neater dresses.













Not everyone looked in the mirror before heading out though. Ugh.












While others clearly did check a mirror....and have been busy at the gym.











One of the best shirts I saw.


















Another good shirt. It says, "Hawaiian Girls grow nice coconuts." Another shirt said, "I don't like people who take drugs.....like cops and customs agents."








This dominatrix was the only person in the parade I knew. She's a Starbucks barista!















Another shot, pre-dominating.












It's not all fun and games though. You have to go to the bathroom at some point. Usually someone else will go in with you. I didn't ask questions.











Someone in the parade overindulged and passed out on the float. This is the curbside scene as the paramedics were attending to her/him/it. I think the paramedics had to be called three times while I was watching, which, of course, caused the parade to stop for a bit each time.








The whole day is too much for some people, so they just pass out.













Not everyone was lucky enough to grab a chair though. This girl's "friends" were nearby.









Hopefully this Dikes On Bikes video will show up complete with the sound. They are always a big hit with the crowd.

video

Friday, June 27, 2008

International Triggers

Google owns Blogspot, this blogging site, and they have some cool tools you can use. One tool is a map that will show you from which cities around the world people are reading your blog. It's pretty cool to see the periodic new city in some country I've never visited pop up on the map, often times due to frequent poster Alexis' international travels.

However this week there has been a big jump in my international readership. Hopefully they will stick around and post, but history indicates otherwise. Here is a quick list of those cities:
Vincente Lopez, Argentina
Curitaba, Brazil
Casablanca, Morocco
Oxford, UK
London, UK
Manchester, UK
Dublin, IRE
Sydney, Australia (probably the ex-coworker)
Calgary, Canada
Vancouver, Canada
Ottawa, Canada

All in the last week! So which of my postings might have drawn such an international crowd? Maybe it was the roadkill table post. Possibly the pictures from northern Michigan post? Who wouldn't like a nice picture of a bull frog? The mention of tapas? Whatever the reason, hopefully some of the international readers will stick and add their wisdom to the site.

The Dow is getting whacked again, down to 11,350 after a horrific week. Earlier this year I wrote about a potential bottom around 10,700. I'm inclined to stick with that number, another drop of about 5%. There are still some stocks to buy, but buying the MARKET is probably still not the best idea. Dollar cost averaging though and disciplined investing would dictate that you stay the course and don't alter your investment philosophy based on short term swings.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How busy am I....let me count the ways.

The last three days have been busy, busy, busy. I know I sound like I'm beating a dead horse, but I have to have a reason for not writing insightful, witty commentaries here on my blog.

On top of the workload, the heat and humidity have set in here in Chicago, adding just a little bit to my tiredness. Friday is going to be another fairly long day catching up on emails, doing a phone interview for a potential business partner, meeting a potential referral source and hitting the gym.
The weekend should prove to be at least interesting with the Cubs playing at Comiskey and the gay pride parade marching through my neighborhood on Sunday.

Hope you're planning a great weekend!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

So busy with el supremo in town.

Probably should have just left my picture post up another day, so if you didn't see them yesterday or the Roadkill table from the day before, check them out.

Busy, busy, busy times for ol'Joe. Starting with coming back from Grand Rapids on Monday, working out with Sadist Joel and taking guitar class. Tuesday breakfast meeting followed by a long day of meetings with potential and current clients (closed one sale already!) and then a wine networking event on Tuesday night. After that event, we went to Nia for tapas. We were actually headed for sushi at Izumi and then changed to Italian at Vivo before settling on the new kid on the block, Nia.

Normally I'm against tapas because I never feel like you get what you pay for. The portions are small and the dishes are pricey. You HAVE to go here though just for the sangria...and make sure to get the red. Unbelievable, but again, not cheap.

So this morning it was back at it with an 8:00 a.m. breakfast meeting and then meetings from there until I left at about 3:30 to meet up with folks to go the Cubs game. I hope to have pictures tomorrow from the game. The folks I met with were ex-Morningstar co-workers of mine, though they all still work there. One works in Australia and one USED to work in Australia but has now moved back.

Actually, the Australian is responsible for the my whole tie-in to el supremo de NM, Alexis and Motherocker. I went to her going away party when I met Alexis who was there prior to leaving for Amsterdam (originally supposed to be Spain I believe).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Weekend trip, the pictures!

First, if you didn't check out the roadkill table in its new table form, see entry from a few days ago, you should take a look again. It makes more sense now. When I posted it I didn't check out the final product.

Now for pictures!!!



My parents' second home!













The split pine in the back yard from which the property draws its name.

















The front "yard" with another "twin pine".













More trees in the back yard.


















The back of the house with the patio. The patio and the connection between the house and the garage were added by my folks.












The driveway and the big pine in the front yard.

















The 'rents! Along with "Bubs" on the left. Yep, Bubs. That's his name....at least that's what everyone up there calls him. He fixes everything! That's his truck too.










This is "The Cove" which is one door down from Twin Pines Cottage. It's where I went every morning to get my coffee. Nice folks there.









You HAVE to click on this picture and blow it up so you can read the sign. This is the dumbest sign in the free world. Only in Michigan. I swear, how stupid do you have to be to be warned about this??

Yeah, I took this while driving!!










A stand of trees. Just thought it was cool.














How much more "Americana" can you get than this??










A robin's nest and egg found by ma. She's saving it until my niece comes to visit for the Fourth of July.











Our Friday night dining destination.













My cavatappi diavolo, boy was it good!!













Saturday's dining destination, but I forgot to take a picture of the escargot and walleye that I had....mmmmmm.










My favorite golf course and probably my favorite hole. It has a 120 foot drop to the green.













Here it is. Wow, what a view. There's actually a sign that says if you want to enjoy the view, let the group behind you play through.














Another beautiful hole.














So pretty.















Yeah, that's my shot from 150 about 3' from the pin.









Another great par 3 from the green looking back.












This hole is a par 5, 510 yard hole. See the blue stripe? That's the 200 yards to the hole marker.
See my ball? It's sitting about 190 yards out. That means my drive was about 320! Yeah baby! Seriously, the best ball I hit all day. Drove the shiznit out of it.











Another view of the drive. I think it's looking back towards the tee like the last picture was. I hit a four iron into the green short and into the trap. Damnit!! Ended up with par.















Now for some wildlife. This is a turtle on a waterhole sunning himself.














One of the many bullfrogs around the green in the pond.












Here's one on a lily pad.














Blow this up and see if you can see the big fish underwater! (where else would it be??)