Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How to save $2.8 billion......doing nothing.

The other day I read that if everyone would turn off their computers at night, we would save $2.8 billion not to mention the huge reduction in c02 emissions required to produce the energy to run the computers. That's relatively small potatoes compared to what Wall Street f$#@ed us out of recently, but it's not a bad start.

The big news today was that Joisey Ken's wife is having contractions!! JK could have an April Fools Day baby, which would give me an endless supply of joy and ribbing for years to come.

Really, other than JK, it was a slow day. Ricardo was at a client and ESDNM has been busy, so I've been left to my own devices to work. My buddy Joe D. came over today and we talked for about an hour and a half about a new venture that he'll be starting. Nothing revolutionary, but it's a new business to him. He'll be successful I'm pretty sure, but it's a matter of how best to start the business. Always an interesting discussion.

Later in the day, instead of working out which I couldn't do because I was still sore from yesterday's core class (oddly enough I was sore in my legs and butt, two areas that I don't think of as "core" but which we did work on), so I reviewed a batch of resumes for the operations manager position at my church. I'm helping out with the hiring to take some of the stress off the Pastor....plus, how good at interviewing and saying no do you really think a Pastor would be? I on the other hand, am quite proficient at it. :-)

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Jig is up!!

The cat is out of the bag. The horse is out of the barn. Hmmm, I couldn't think of another trite expressions. That's a shame. Seems like there should be more than those three. Maybe I'm just having a brain cramp. Anyway, the young lady I've been seeing, as mentioned here, has fessed up to reading my blog though it didn't all really go according to plan nor was it as funny as I hoped. It was a valiant effort though so thanks to those who played along.

Not sure if you watch the show Two and a Half Men or not, but they are really on the vanguard of FCC permitted dialogue. Don't get me wrong, it was funny as hell, but I was surprised they got some of their dialogue through the sensors. I'm sure you can watch the episode at CBS.com, or will be able to in a few days.

Today I saw an article that talked about what Play-Doh was originally used for. Any idea what that was? I'm assuming it wasn't called Play-Doh, but the answer is here.

First peanut butter and now pistachios?? I don't even think I understand how salmonella can be spread through pistachios. Kraft found them in "roasted pistachios". How the hell does it survive what I assume is a very high temperature involved with the roasting process?? Oh wait, the article holds the answer: "For nuts, roasting is supposed to kill the bacteria. But problems can occur if the roasting is not done correctly or if roasted nuts are re-contaminated. That can happen if mice, rats or birds get into the facility." Ugh.

And last, but certainly not least, a public Happy Birthday to my mom!!! Her birthday is today, Monday, though you will read this on Tuesday at the earliest. Happy Birthday to my good friend Liesl too, though I don't think she reads my blog. Covering my bases though!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chicago punked!

Welcome to Chicago at the end of March. Good Lord. Very sloppy, very wet snow....probably about 3 inches of the crap. Made it really nice to just walk down the street as periodically you'd get a slush ball on the noggin from an overhanging tree.

These first two pictures were taken out my window.

On my way to Starbucks, I saw this unfortunate bike. No where to ride it today!!

The other night on Jimmy Kimmel (or possibly Jimmy Fallon) two guests were Streeter and Amir, the authors of Prank Wars. These guys just set up the funniest pranks ever on each other. The two I've seen were hysterical. In the first one, Amir flashed up a proposal from Streeter to his girlfriend at Yankee Stadium while Streeter and his girlfriend were there. You see the end of that prank and the next basketball contest prank here. Good stuff.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mr. Blue Fingers

Isn't it odd that we put those little blue disks into our toilet tanks just so we have blue water in the bowl? They also disinfect the bowl, though it's not like you're going to drop something in the toilet and be all "hey, don't worry about it. I disinfect the bowl!" Nope, you're throwing it out regardless.

Like many folks I trust, I too use these little blue disks. They're easy to use and pretty inexpensive. All you have to do is rip open the seal and drop them into the tank. No biggee right? Well, the other day this rather simple task became much more involved than I would have liked.

The first part went well: rip open, drop in tank. Dandy. The disk floated down to the bottom of the tank, but landed on the flapper which covers the hole leading to the pipe which flows into the bowl. Shouldn't be a problem, I thought.

Later, I flushed the toilet and noticed that the water was still running. Instead of the disk flipping off the flapper, it got wedged under the flapper. Damnit.

So I reached in to free the disk by using the handle of a blue hairbrush I own. No worries right? Wrong. All I did was jam it further down the hole. Damnit again!!!

Now I was going to have to use my hand, which I did. Unfortunately, the disk had already started to decompose and was mushy. Enough so that my efforts to grab the disk were futile and all I ended up accomplishing was to push the disk further down the pipe and getting blue stained fingers. Ugh.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lots of food

How much is $22 worth of sushi? Since I went back to the byob all-you-can-eat-for-$22-sushi place tonight, I know the answer: two Dragon rolls and a piece of unagi maki or a Dragon roll, a Caterpillar roll, a piece of unagi maki and a some miso soup. That's a lot of food either way, so if you want to eat MORE than $22 worth, you really have to pig out. Which I did. :-) I really need to stop doing that though.

When I get sick (with a cold) I focus on, in addition to breathing, food. It's the exact opposite when I have the flu, which goes along with the saying, "feed a cold, starve a fever." So despite being sick, I managed to gain weight this week, though I imagine ESDNM had something to do with it as well.

My softball team has our first outdoor Illinois tournament of the year this weekend, but I won't be playing as I'm still repairing my shoulder. Unfortunately it's supposed to be pretty nasty softball weather this weekend, 40's with some rain and chance of snow. Ugh. Though my shoulder feels much stronger, being stronger might not help with the impingement. Apparently it CAN help, but there's not guarantee. Well, another two weeks and then I get a cortisone shot if it's not better.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Feeling much better thank you very much!

So last night I went to bed as early as each of the two nights before and slept as much as the previous few nights and woke up NOT sicker, but almost completely better!! Good thing too because I had two client meetings today in addition to several networking meetings.

When you're working all day, I've found, it's much more difficult to come up with blog topics. I don't have the exposure to the radio or internet, so the topic potentials seem to be more limited.

That said, I did find this article on Yahoo! that rips into the worst restaurant menus in terms of how healthy (unhealthy) they are.

A half day of work on Thursday and I should be back to my, hopefully, interesting writing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gonna sick like it's 1999.....

To bed early. Sleep in a bit later. Lots of fluid. Nyquil at night. Dayquil during the day. And I end up feeling WORSE!!!!

It was an awful day and hopefully I was able to avoid getting Ricardo or ESDNM sick. I avoided any physical contact with my clients and told them I was sick which is why I didn't shake their hands. Interestingly, two of the people we met with were sick as well!

So last night I was making some hot tea and thought about all of the references to lemon juice that I had seen lately. People emailed me to drink it in my tea.....CNN had an article on detoxifying yourself using hot water and lemon juice. So I thought I would put some lemon juice in my hot tea.

Where is that lemon juice?
Do I even HAVE lemon juice?
Sure I do...I think.
Yep, there it is. Third shelf on the door.
Hmmmm, did I buy this?
How old is this bottle?
Maybe I'll just have the tea without lemon juice today.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Getting my sick on

Ugh, me with a cold is no fun. After going to bed early, taking Nyquil and sleeping well, I was worse off today that I was yesterday. Not sure how it worked out that way.

I fought through the day though (kudos to Ricardo and ESDNM for surviving it) and even made it to dinner (check ESDNM's blog for some pics). Hopefully tomorrow will go better.

Things I'm grateful for:
#116 Nyquil and it's lovely day-time companion, Dayquil.
#117 Puffs Ultra.
#118 1/2 price wine night when ESDNM is in town.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!!

Big number 43 started off on Friday while I watched NCAA games with some friends: Ricardo, Billy, Smitty, JC and new wife as well as two friends I haven't seen in a long time from my co-ed football days. There were good games on so the night was a big success.

Unfortunately, when I went to bed on Friday night, I had a bit of tickle in my throat. It seems that maybe St. Paddy's Day and working out on Wednesday and Thursday was a bit much for my aging body. Or I just picked up a germ somewhere. Who knows? Saturday I slept in a bit and felt good enough for the day's adventures: a trip to Woodfield Mall, a movie and dinner.

At the mall I bought myself a bevy of birthday presents! Most of what I bought was softball related stuff, but I also bought new jeans and some stuff for the condo. Another packed day at the mall though. No recession there!

Then I went to see I love you, Man. It was a pretty good movie, nice premise, but Rudd's character is a little over the top at times. One thing that struck me in the movie is how much Sarah Burns looks like Alexis!! Here's her pic:

If I had a comparable pose with Alexis in it, I'd post it here next to her. If you see this movie and know Alexis, you'll know what I mean.

For dinner I headed down to Blue Island to a place I haven't been in about four or five years: the Maple Tree Inn. They specialize in Cajun style food and plenty of good beer. It's a really good, local-feeling place to go, though it's not too local for me.

Today I continue to recuperate basically moved from my sofa to go to church and work at the computer. I'm hoping I feel better tomorrow.

Thank you to those who serenaded me this weekend! My sister, Sue, and my niece Sommer, called me at 12:02 a.m. on my birthday to sing me happy birthday.....the grade school version with "...you live in a zoo...."My folks showed off their vocal skills at a more reasonable hour of the morning, and it was the nice version!! :-)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Memory coming back....How? I have no idea.

At some point today I remembered what my topic from yesterday was. As you recall, I had this idea and then went into a four plus hour meeting and forgot about it. Does that mean my synapse repaired itself? Possibly I'm growing new connections?? Wishful thinking.

You're 21 or 22. You're graduating college. In this economy. You're screwed. Seriously, if you're an MBA coming out in this market you have $100k+ in debt and NO job prospects. There's what...seriously....250,000 MBA's out there in the market place who HAD jobs already. Isn't that a decent guesstimate though? Given the millions of unemployed and the layoffs on Wall Street, I think it's a decently accurate number. You're just hosed.

Or if you're just graduating college and you have to find a job in this market. Again, you're screwed.

It's so freaking arbitrary!!! What if I were born 20 years later?? What if I were born 20 years earlier? Or in a different socio-economic family?? Or as the oldest child or the middle child instead of the youngest? Life is soooo freaking random. Yeah, you have control over some stuff, there's no doubt. But for the really big things in your life, it's random!

Now some people will argue that hey, if you're a hard worker or intelligent or whatever that you'll succeed no matter what. I counter with, what if you graduated high school or college in 1931? What if you were born in a very rural town with limited schooling? Or in the inner city where you had to fight off gangs and drugs AND had teachers that were more interested in surviving day to day than in your education? It's random folks.

So it reverts back to the things I'm thankful for.
#113 that I was born in the great country of the United States of America.
#114 that I was graduated just prior to one of the longest bull markets in history.
#115 that I was born into a great family which instilled great values in me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Much less compelling entry

This morning, on my way to a long (4 hours) afternoon meeting, I came up with a GREAT blog topic. Then forgot to write it down and completely forgot it during the meeting. Damnit.

So not much exciting to write about to send you into the weekend other than Sunday is my birthday so I'm looking for all sorts of gifts and candy. Or at least a Happy Birthday!

If I remember that topic, I'll be sure to post it. Sorry. :-(

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who is to blame for AIG bonuses?

Actually had this conversation (or a variation on it) with both Naperville Greg and Joisey Ken recently. AIG, as just about everyone knows by now, is one of the largest insurance companies in the world and they were bailed out to the tune of $170 billion. And everyone knows that they paid bonuses to execs to the tune of $165 million. And we have all seen that both Republicans and Democrats were outraged in addition to President O'Bama.

Most of what I just wrote, which the media has shoved down your throat, is wrong or at the very least misleading.

First, use of the term bailout is misleading. The implication is that the company was given money to save them from going under. The reality is that AIG essential sold a good chunk of their company to our government. Back in September, yes under the previous administration, the Fed lent $85 billion to AIG in the form of a two year note in return for 80% stake in AIG in the form of warrants and secured by their profitable insurance business (note that their financing arm is what caused the losses, not their insurance arm). Since then we've injected another $85 billion into AIG. So did we bailout AIG? No, we BOUGHT AIG, unless their business turns around. If that happens, then we just loaned money to AIG and they paid us handsomely for it (LIBOR plus 8.5% on the loan....so over 10%).

AIG paid bonuses to execs. Well, what they did was fulfill their CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS to employees. Unfortunately, those employees' bonus metrics were NOT tied to the solvency of the company. Those contracts were put in place by Robert Willumstad, a two year AIG vet who was previously with Citigroup as their #2 guy and who was fired after the first intervention mention above. Liddy came in but could do nothing about the contracts. Renig on the contracts and the employees can not only sue AIG, but they could now sue the government. How much MORE than $165 million do you think that would have cost? Everybody's hands were tied.

Republicans and Democrats were outraged when the bonuses became public. Really? That implies that the members of Congress who are irate didn't read any of the documentation on the $85 billion action provided by the Fed, except possibly the dollar amount. What's the threshold in dollars to get them to read? Maybe it's $100 billion.

At least it looks like today that Obama is saying, "Hey, my bad. I should have known about this." Yes, he should have been briefed on it by someone, but truthfully they have a lot of shit going on right now and missing this point is an excusable error. Not saying "the buck stops here" would have been, which was his stance until today.

So if you look at the whole picture you'll see AIG took a loan from the Fed which they have to pay back or turn the company over to the U.S. Government. AIG owed money to employees which were supporte by contracts. Should they stop paying rent or their utility bills? Same concept. And finally, this should not have been a surprise to anyone. If you're going on tv and complaining now, it just means you weren't doing your job before. And the chief jack-ass in Congress? Senator Grassley from Iowa who wanted the AIG execs to resign or commit suicide, ala the Japanese. Unbelieveable. Instead of going out for blood Grassley, try doing your job for a change.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Paddy's Day

Ohhhh, I knew I should have written this entry earlier today. Now it's after midnight, I'm tired and a bit tipsy.

Today I had a grand old time with no PT and no trip to the gym!! Yay!! In the morning I did some work and then headed over to Ricardo's for an afternoon of festivities. I thought he was making corn beef and cabbage for lunch plus whomever came later in the day, but much to my dismay, he had only just started the crockpot when I arrived around 1. Fortunately we were able to go to the bar across the street which had a very decent cornbeef sandwich. No cabbage, but the sandwich was tasty.

Around 5, just when the cornbeef and cabbage was ready, I headed down to Jak's Tap to meet Doug and Doug Jr. from the Bears games as well as my guest, Sausage King Andy. Benny Baseball was supposed to go with me, but he couldn't find anyone to cover his shift so I snagged Andy.

Pre-partying at Jak's was fun and the game was good too. The Bulls beat the world champion Celtics (albeit without one of their best players, Kevin Garnett) and we won a Big Mac since they scored over 100 points. Actually, Sausage won all the events on the game cards: tic tac toe, Hinkley Schmitt water truck race and the Dunkin Donuts Race (damn you Cuppy Coffee!!!). It was fun and good to see Doug and Doug Jr again as well as Sausage. Though he lives right across the street from my church, I don't see Sausage all that often....or at least I haven't in the last few months.

Monday, March 16, 2009


The primary topic of the homily at church on Sunday was "zeal". It was actually an interesting monologue on how zeal can be a very good thing, but being a zealot or over-zealous is not. There's a line. But the pastor postulated that most of us do not even approach zeal for our religion or most things in our lives.

It made me think, what am I zealous about? For what do I have zeal? It's an interesting question. After personal relationships, which I won't delve into, Bears football was one of the first things that jumped to mind...is that wrong? Softball clearly is something I'm zealous about. Writing, for pleasure, and watching television are things I do with some zeal. Having nice, affordable meals are certainly a passion, but dare I say a zeal as well?

Am I zealous about helping small businesses? At times, I definitely have zeal for it. Can you have part time zeal? Or are you only zealous about something while you're doing it?

Do I have a zeal for helping people in general? Acts of charity? I certainly try to do those things, but do I do them often enough to count as having zeal? Probably not. Though I am very interested in my church and my church community, I probably am not zealous about Catholicism as I do not agree with several of their teachings.

I could meander through this conversation, so instead I'll ask you to have it with yourself. For what do you have zeal?

BTW, thanks for your responses yesterday, even those which I deleted. Helpful comments to read....except for ESDNM whose comment was just funny!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


As I've posted in the past, I try not to talk too much about my relationships on my blog. The problems caused have been well documented, so we'll just leave it at that.

However, in breaking with my own rules, I'm announcing that I am indeed seeing someone now. Keeping with my rules however, I have not mentioned my blog to her. As such, I look to you, my faithful readers, for some assistance.

You all remember that it's been about three years since....well, that event happened. You know what I'm talking about so I'm not going to go into details about it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then maybe you should just skip this entry. So I'm wondering what the proper timing is to discuss this topic with her? I mean, should I do it now? Wait until like, six months or something? One year? Never? I would appreciate your feedback.

Things I'm grateful for:
#110 What little cooking skills I've picked up over the years.
#111 Similarly, having developed up a small appreciation for wine at least. I used to only drink beer.
#112 The ability to worship as I see fit.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day...celebration.

The river was green and so were the drinkers...wearing it and facially. It was a beautiful day to be out and about and many revelers were. Joe, however, slept in until 11:30. Three days this week I had to get up early and last night I was up until 2 a.m., so I turned my alarm off and just slept away.

When I finally did get up, after breakfast/lunch and a little work, I decided to take advantage of a mostly deserted gym and had a great workout. Of course that meant I had to ice my shoulder when I got home and I did just that. A trip to the grocery store and a movie and that was my day. Not much you can do when you sleep half of it away!!!

Things I'm grateful for:
#107 Friends who invite me out drinking with them!! After posting on Facebook that I wasn't going out and that I'm Irish, four people invited me to go out with them!! Very nice!!
#108 Sixty degree days in March.
#109 Birds singing on a crisp, cloudless morning.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

The President signed a $410 billion Omnibus Bill the other day. He signed it behind closed doors and without much fanfare considering it was one of the largest (in dollar terms) things he's done since being inaugurated. Why?

Several reasons. First and foremost, it has almost 9,000 "earmarks" totaling $5.5 billion, less than 2% of the total Bill. One of his platforms for election was to stop doing business "the old way" in Washington and to remove "pork" and earmarks. Clearly this bill does not support those beliefs at all.

Any other reasons? Well, the Omnibus Bill was actually written many months ago and the primary purpose of the bill is to keep government running. The bill is actually for the government's fiscal year that started in October, so it's been delayed five months already.

Is that justification for allowing the earmarks? I say profoundly NO, it is not. Guess what? If you make it part of your platform and then don't act on it after only two months in office, you're a freakin' hypocrite. It's offensive.

What are some of the earmarks for? There's the Mormon Cricket, a very destructive insect that ravages our heartland. Bee research. We need bees, no doubt. $2.9 million for Shrimp aquaculture. $1.8 million for swine odor and manure management. $6.6 million for Formosan subterranean termite research. There are, as I indicated, many thousands more. Could any one of them be justified? Probably. But to allow this bill to pass without sending it back to the House and the Senate at least once (and he should have sent it back many, many times) as a show of your disapproval was pretty dumb and not what we signed on for as a country.

Did this kind of thing happen under other presidents? Absolutely. Take your pick. They all do it. What pisses me off is that Obama stared us in the face and said he WOULDN'T do it. At least the other presidents didn't run on the platform of reforming Washington and not allowing pork and earmarks. Well, none that I actually remember. I'm sure someone at some point has used that platform as well.

Would the earmarks be more bountiful under McCain? Almost undoubtedly they would. Again though, that's irrelevant. Barrack has basically lied already and his presidency is only two months old. And lied in a big way.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What a dumb ass

Today I had PT at 2 which gave me a little time to recuperate and get prepare for my Core class at 5:30. It was all good. So I got to the gym at 5, warmed up in the dry sauna, hit the elliptical for 15 minutes to warm up further and then went to class in Studio 1. Much to my chagrin, the class wasn't IN Studio 1. It was in Studio 2, which is just down stairs, however as I've never had a class in Studio 2, I always forget that it's even there. So I assumed the schedule I have at home was wrong and just did my weight lifting workout. About midway through I realized my potential error and then verified it on the way out of the gym. Damnit.

My punishment for being stupid/forgetful: make up class is at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March of the Crazies

Every Saturday morning, I Tivo a show on Fox News called Bulls and Bears. The channel, in general, I find pretty appallingly slanted to the FAR right, not just the right. Obviously I'm not alone in that thought and it's not an original belief. This Saturday Ann Coulter was a guest on the show along with some Democrat stump. As an aside, I think Ann is smoking hot, though I'm generally alone in that thought. People seem to be blinded by her irrational beliefs and don't notice that she's an attractive woman. Anyway, at the end of the show (which includes my buddy Pat Dorsey from Morningstar) they mention that Ann will be debating Bill Maher in three cities including Chicago. The Chicago date is Wednesday and is at the Chicago Theater. Tickets, get this, start at $35 and go up to $160!! Seriously?!? $160 to see two whack-a-doodles try to out-crazy each other? No thank you.

My morning workouts are NOT going well. I started out strong, but they have just not happened. Mind you, I've been working out, but just not first thing in the morning as I wanted. I'm not giving up, but I need to work my schedule a bit better. They do offer a 7 a.m. Core class, but that might be a bit too early for me. Which means that I either go to the gym EVERY day (weights one morning and core the next evening) or go twice in one day or lift weights in the evening after the core class. Tough decisions. I'll figure it out though. Maybe the answer is to get there by 7......wow, that seems early.

Things I'm grateful for:
#104 The start of baseball season.
#105 Year-round football conversation.
#106 Retractable umbrellas: mine both opens and closes at the touch of a button.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Busy day today

That "spring ahead" bullshit is the worst isn't it?? Screwed up my entire day! It actually bled into today as well as I had to sleep in after staying up until the new 2 a.m. Ugh. So 8:00 rolled around and I STILL couldn't get out of bed. Finally, at 9, I pulled myself out of bed and hit the shower.

At 9:30, my folks called to tell me they were coming downtown and wanted to know if I wanted to hook up for lunch. Absolutely!! However, I want to take a minute here to scold them because I know and they know that I know that they knew about this appointment WEEKS ago. Let's plan ahead....I would have felt bad if I scheduled physical therapy or something for noon.

We ended up going to our favorite resto, The Bagel. Here's what my mother ordered, Mish-Mash Soup.

Here is what was leftover from her bowl!! $8 for all that food. It's like three meals.

As it was, I scheduled PT for 10:30, so I barely had time to suck my coffee down before my session......which was really tough on my shoulder. My new strategy with the shoulder is to do PT through the end of the month, stop throwing softballs until then and then get a cortisone shot in early April if the shoulder isn't better. I'm running that strategy by my doctor to see what he thinks. My PT therapist is getting married on Saturday and then going on her honeymoon for two weeks, so I'm the least of her concerns.

Then I had several business calls including a catch up call with a client. Next thing I knew, it was 4:30 and time for me to head to the gym. Today I started a "core" class which meets several times during the week and is 30 minutes of working just your abs and core related muscles. Good stuff. I spend a lot of time on my arms and legs, so this class should help even things out.

One final bit for today. I was at Woodfield Mall on Sunday and saw this in the men's room:

I couldn't figure out what the hell it was for! I was going to put a dollar in just to see what would happen.

Here's a close up. Money in, pull knob....then razor blades come out and hack your arm off. Hell, it could happen!!!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Some interesting research(?)

If you missed my Friday post, take a gander before you leave my blog today.

Something unusual happened in the sports world the other day. The University of Pittsburgh had never before beaten a #1 rated team in basketball. It happened on Saturday, for the second time this month (!) when they beat the UConn Huskies, which was also rated #1 earlier this month when Pittsburgh beat them. Twice in a month Pittsburgh beats the #1 rated UConn Huskies after never having beaten a #1 rated team. Pretty cool.

Did you watch The Simpsons tonight? They mention Bart's actual birthday! He was born two days after Homer's Mardi Gras party, which is on the eve of Ash Wednesday. So we now know he was born on the first Thursday of Lent. The Simpsons debuted on The Tracy Ulman Show in April of 1987 at which time Bart was, and remains, 10 years old so he was born in 1977. With Easter on April 10th of that year, by my calculations, Ash Wednesday should have been February 23rd and Bart's birthday February 24th. Research is fun!!

Things I'm grateful for:
#101 Malls, for when the weather is nasty.
#102 The World Baseball Classic........just kidding. Damn that thing is stupid. How about no flooding in my basement despite a ton of rain this weekend?
#103 My cell phone more and more each day. Not only did I call Joisey Ken last night, but it helped me find IKEA today.....ok, maybe I shouldn't be so grateful for it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

What do you see?

Ok, I'm sure my readers are tired of hearing and seeing about my weekend and as luck would have it, I was planning on getting all philosophical on your asses today anyway. Well, only mildly philosophical. At least it will make you think, maybe.

We all know that we're in a recession....hell, borderline depression from an equities market standpoint at least. We see our 401(k) statements cut in half. We see the Dow dropping every day. We hear about tens of thousands of people losing their jobs every week and 8.1% unemployment. We hear about the number of foreclosures setting all sorts of records.

Over the winter I was in Vegas and it didn't look like a recession. Lots of gamblers. Lots of people on the strip. The hotel wasn't dirt cheap. Lots of people at the airport.

I also went to Key West for a wedding. Certainly lots of travelers at the airport again.

Just got back from Phoenix. Hotels weren't cheap. Car rental wasn't cheap. Airport was packed at 5:00 on a Wednesday with people LEAVING.

There's still a line at Starbucks in the morning.

If I didn't see my financial statements and didn't listen to financial news, would I even know that we were in such trying economic times? Would you? There are basically no foreclosures in the Chicago area to speak of (certainly not significantly higher than any statistical norms). Even if I knew someone who lost their job DUE TO THE RECESSION, it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for me to know someone who is unemployed anyway. Hell, lots of my friends have been unemployed for various periods of time.

So if you didn't hear about the stock market or see your 401(k) statements, how would you know we're in such dire economic straits? Would you know?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Cubs and Sox Spring Training

As promised, here are some more pics from Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Sunday was a recovery day from the five games on Saturday. We went over to Blind Mender's apartment complex (with hundreds of apartments) to grill, swim, play bags and generally relax. Mender was a solid host!

Dogs in the pool (Brewdogs that is).

What happens to a dozen burgers when you A) have the grill set to high and B) step away for a few minutes.

Monday tailgating at Camelback Ranch, the Sox new stadium. Not much going on in the parking lot of a preseason game.

Monday's attendees: JC, Benny Baseball, Me, Carm, Deb and C-Biscuit.

Carm and Deb sporting their autographs.

Camelback outside.

And another photo of the ranch. The facility is huge!

Camelback Ranch stadium. Very little shade provided....seems like an odd thing to forget about IN THE DESERT!

Picture from first base.

Picture from third.

Thome at bat, just before he went yard!!

One woman's answer to a lack of shade....that's a cup tray on her head.

It was cool being at this particular game because with the small venue and only about 2,000 fans, EVERYTHING you yelled was heard by the players. Sweet.

Look at this creepy leprechaun! He's what you see on your way to the bathroom at one of the bars in downtown Tempe.

What to do with three fellas and one free drink? Three straws of course. How cute.

Tuesday we met at a bar called the Dirty....something...can't remember, had a burger for lunch and then walked from there to the Cubs stadium.

This is the canal between the bar and Ho Ho Kam. It's a nice walk lined with orange and lemon trees....oh and a cemetary.

Ho Ho Kam from the outfield. There's a nice grass area in the outfield for like $8 or something. I'd suggest buying tickets there and then just wandering into the regular seats if you want to sit in a seat.

Ho Ho from first base.

Our seats were in the front row behind third!! Sweet. Third, left field and the coach could hear us pretty well. I was on the umps too.

These guys were signing autographs: Jon Warden, George Foster, Bert Campenaris, Rollie Fingers and Fergie Jenkins. For $20 you'd get a ball and one autograph.

Ok, wok fired noodles at a ball game??

The lineup for the day!

On a practice field behind the outfield. D. Lee and Milton Bradley are practicing running from second to home.

C-Biscuit and Milton Bradley....yeah, that's his name.

Matt Holiday from the A's.

Jason Giambi from the A's.

C-Biscuit re-enacting how he got a ball. Not really, the left fielder threw him a ball on his way in from the outfield.

Aramis up to bat......

....just before HE jacked one too!!! I was enfuego with my player pictures before they hit home runs.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Travel Day

Left to go to the airport at 9 a.m. Phoenix time and got home around 5:30 Chicago time and I'm really, really tired. Sooooo, check back later on Thursday for another entry choc-full-o-pics.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Another beautiful day in Phoenix

It was a bright and balmy upper 80 degree day for our Sox game yesterday and the same is expected for our Cubs game. The Sox game had so few people at it, maybe 2,000, that you could yell at anyone on the field, if you had my voice at least, and they would hear you. Pretty funny. For the record, we like the third base coach for the Sox, Cox was his name, what a good sport. I was getting on everyone. I'm not sure the fans knew what to do with me, or C-Biscuit, our team manager who was just going nuts. Since we "tailgated" in the parking lot before the game, we didn't have a chance for many autographs. Sorry Stef! Tailgaiting involved just sitting the drinking beer and putting pictures of each other on our phones. Ha!

You'd think these games would be cheap, especially since the regulars, if they play at all, only play half the game. But nope. Parking is $5, but really it should be free. Water is $3.75, a beer is $6.50, a margarita is $8. It's insane. Same prices you would pay at any pro ballpark. We hear the beer at Ho Ho Kam where the Cubs play is $11!! I'm not going to be drunk if that's the deal.

Here is a rendering of the complex with all of the field names.

Ebbets Field, at least in center field.

Left field at Ebbets Field, the old Brooklyn ball yard.

Left field at the Anaheim Angels stadium. I guess they included this in order to attract people from California with the possibility of playing there.

Here's a better shot of the rock formation in center. Pretty cool.

Again, The B.O.B. was included for obvious reasons. "The B.O.B." was short for Bank One Ballpark, though now it's Chase Field anyway.

The center field home run line at The BOB caused many problems. Unless you look at a ball hitting there from the side, you can't tell if it's above or below the painted yellow line, just like in the real thing!! Since we only had one ump and he was the furthest person from the play, it wasn't good. He was 50% on his calls though. I'm sure they strive for a higher accuracy than that!!

Left field in The BOB.

Tomorrow I should have pics from the Sox game and the Cubs game.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Some more softball pics

In my post yesterday, I forgot to mention my new nickname for when I make a nice play: "Benjamin Sutton", a play on the reverse aging Benjamin Button movie. Pretty funny actually. Last year, the coach would yell "40 is the new 30". Now it appears to be "Benjamin Sutton!!"

Today we're going to see the White Sox play in their new facility. It's supposed to be 90!! Beats the heck out of 25 and snow in Chicago. Ugh. It's March second for cripe's sake!!!

I found out that we officially did tie for 7th and the teams that beat us finished 3rd and 5th respectively. One guy, Jack-in-the-Box, on our team had an on base percentage (obp) of something approaching .900, which is outstanding. Yours truly was humbly in second at .631, well, I guess not so humbly huh? Our team was over .500 though, which is pretty good. If we hadn't hit into so many double plays in that last game, we might have been able to advance further.

Yankee Stadium sign.

Yankee Stadium. No Memorial Park though....a little disappointing. We played on this field and there were two inside the park home runs. Some crazy bounces.


The big Green Monster. I don't know how far away it was, but you do have to clear it for a home run.

Right Field at Fenway.
Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. It looked cool, but like Fenway, we didn't get to play on this field.
Another game was going on when I shot this pic of the outfield at Sportsman's.
The old Polo Grounds of NY.
Nice scoreboard.
I think the field was bigger than the others, but not by as much as the real Polo Grounds was bigger than regular stadiums.
Have to go watch some baseball. More pics tomorrow!!