Thursday, April 30, 2009

Progress on a few fronts

As promised, I have pictures of MLM's latest work. This work is key to the whole preventing a flood and finishing the basement again concept. So on to the pictures:

Maybe you can see this screen/security door if you click on the picture. It's 2" steel, so it's a nice door and pretty secure. There was nothing there previously, just the door to the basement.

You can see how worn the wood door is from being exposed to the weather. I'll be replacing this door next before I put down carpeting. The cement step here is several inches high and was put in by MLM. It runs stone wall to stone wall. No water is getting by that bad boy. See the proximity of the drain? That's the problem.

A rare occurrence tonight, Naperville Greg was actually free to go out!!! And go out we did. One of my favorite spots, Jack's, is just a half block from my church so I can park in the church lot and walk to the bar from there. Good stuff. Yes, I do drive home after drinking from there, but it's not far and I don't get intoxicated, so don't worry.

Chris, the manager, and Keri, our barkeep for the night. Keri and Greg really got into some political arguments and I was hoping it wouldn't impact my ability to go back. She bought us a round and then Chris bought us a round as well, so I guess I'm still welcome. In fact, Chris and I are going to talk about them possibly sponsoring our softball team!!!

It was great fun hanging out with Naperville Greg tonight. Kleveland Kim was out of town, so he was free and seized the opportunity. I had my core class tonight since I couldn't go yesterday. Plus I hit the eliptical and lifted, another 1 1/2 hour workout for me. After picking up Greg at the train stop, we watched the Bulls thrilling triple OT win against the Celtics and the Blackhawks come back from 3-0 to tie the game 3-3 and then give up a goal with less than 2 minutes left. Ugh. Highs and lows.

One thing also worth mentioning that we discussed was good friends. How many acquaintences do we have versus really good friends? Who could you unequivocally call at any hour of the night and know that person would spare no expense to help you out? We both agreed that the number of those people for each of us is not as high as we would like, but we also agreed that we both qualify for each other. And that's why it's good to go have a drink with your friends periodically.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A day at Comiskey

Lots going on today, but the good news for you!!! After spending the morning working on insurance issues for a client, I headed out to Comiskey Park, where the Sox play, to take in an afternoon game in a skybox with a client. On a chilly April day, it's a great way to watch a game, though I might have preferred to have the windows closed or partially closed at least. However, if I stayed back in the room, it didn't get too cold. I did keep my jacket on though. Maybe I wasn't fully recovered from the night of softball.

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority is a not for profit organization that owns Comiskey. And we were in their box!! There's the view as well. Pretty sweet. Several foul balls fell just short of our window, one went into the box next to us and the box next to them and two hit windows on a closed box two boxes the other direction.

Random pics from inside the skybox. It comes with 22 tickets. Our host, TZ, is in the picture on the right along with a co-worker of his and a woman named Hela. Kelly is in the background. Not sure how old Hela and Kelly are, but they were going to the Brittany Spears concert tonight as well. No shit. I'm not kidding.

Hela and the dessert cart. I do love the dessert cart. I opted for the carrot cake and ice cream option. Now they have a guy who comes around with a cappuccino maker as well. Nice.

I also had my share of the Italian beef and sausage as well as kraut and brats. Good stuff.

When I finally did get home, I decided to hop in the jacuzzi tub and get my core temperature back up, which worked wonders! GF was cooking dinner, a curry dish, so I wrapped up the evening at her place. A good dinner!

All in all, a pretty nice day!! Tomorrow: the work of MLM.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where did all the hot water go??

Shorter post today as I'm pretty beat. This afternoon I went to the dentist (it's been a year!) and everything went just fine and that's not why I'm tired. Then I was able to see my folks and chat with them for an hour or so which was nice and also not why I'm tired. Then I headed to play softball in 20 mph winds and 40 degree temperatures. Ahhh, yes, that's why I'm tired. Ugh.

There was a good chance that the games were going to get rained out (for the fourth week in a row), but no, we played. Sort of. No one's heart was really in it as most of our energy was just spent staying warm. I was sooooo looking forward to hopping in my jacuzzi tub when I got home, but woe is me as there wasn't any hot water!! Not sure why as both water heaters were pumping away, but the water in my tub was only luke warm. Crap.

So Arlen Specter is switching from the Republican party to the Democrat party. Combined with the likely appointment of Al Franken as a Minnesota senator, Obama will have 60 votes and can overcome a filibuster staged by Republicans. Specter, after 29 years in office, was likely going to lose his senatorial seat in the Republican primary in Pennsylvania next year. However, by switching to the Democrat party, he will almost assuredly get the Democrat nomination and will at least be in the running to retain his seat by having all of Pennsylvania involved in the election as opposed to just Republicans. Pennsylvania has voted Democrat in the Presidential election for the last four elections and went back and forth since Eisenhower. It was a case of self preservation, no doubt, but I think a pretty smart move on his part.

Monday, April 27, 2009

No news news.

Still so much to blog about, but I need to write about one thing first. Over the last several weeks, I've been having some very minor heart "flutterings" I guess is the best word. Several times over the last few weeks, I've also woken up in the night (while having a dream) with my heart racing. Also about two weeks ago, I was working out at the gym and really worked the bench press hard. Afterwards, I went to my Core Training class for 30 minutes of core work. During that class, I felt like I pulled something or strained a muscle in my chest, just left of my sternum and I couldn't take a deep breath without pain. The combination are similar indications for a heart attack, though I don't think it was one.

However, if you look at all of the things together AND you have a girlfriend who was a nurse and suddenly you have a trip to the doctor planned. So that was today. Actually, I called my doctor on Friday and left a message on her voicemail. She called me back and fit me into a slot today. Pretty darn nice. This doctor is my GP and is also a dean at the medical school at the University of Chicago. Even though the flutterings continued even in the waiting room, they didn't happen while the doc had her scope on me. So she ordered a EKG which lasts you know?.....all of ten seconds!! Literally, 10 seconds!! WTF?? After you hook me up, why not listen for like 10 minutes or something? Nope. Just the short one. Now they want me to wear a monitor for 24 hours starting midday on Monday. I wanted to get one sooner, obviously, but that was the earliest time I could get one. They're going to have to live with 20 hours of data though. When I wake up the next morning, I'm taking a shower (which you can't do with the monitor on) because I don't go anywhere without taking a shower. If there's a problem, they'll have plenty of data in the first 20 hours.

Obviously I'll let you know if anything comes up. There's no pain involved or shortness of breath or anything. Tonight I had a great workout spending 30 minutes on the Eliptical followed by 30 minutes of my core class and then 20 minutes of shoulder exercises with weights. No problems at all. So if there is a problem, I'm sure it's minor.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Good and The Bad

As I mentioned in my last post, my softball team had a tournament down in Joliet this weekend, our first local tournament of the year. Two games were scheduled for Saturday, one at 11 and the next at 5. Those long waits before the next game suck. You'd much rather play three in a row. By the time the second game rolled around, we found out we were now going to play a third game and possibly a fourth!!! Ugh. Playing the games isn't a problem, but if you're mentally prepared for one thing and then have to do another, it's another hurdle, albeit a small one.

We won our first game after giving up 8 runs in the first inning. We started hitting and came back with 9 runs an inning later and went on to win 21-8. Personally, I started off 0-2 and I'm sure people were wondering if it's due to the GF being there. Nope, just swinging at bad pitches. I finished the game getting on base three times to end the game 4-6. Decent.

The second game was against Amish Mafia, who is a tough team which we've faced before. It was close the entire game and in the bottom of the sixth with the score 9-6 or 11-8 or something, I came up with the bases loaded two outs and hit a full count pitch for a single driving in another run. Big hit which led to another run when the guy after me singled. Now we were up by 5 and the Mafia was demoralized. They didn't score in the 7th and we won. I went 4-4 in the game so I finished getting on base 7 straight times. Things were looking good for us!

Shortly after the game, a cold front blew through and drop the temperature from 80 to 55 in about 5 minutes if that. I was changing out of my sweaty clothes into dry shorts and a shirt when the front came through and I was caught in a quandry of now being cold and dry or possibly wet and warmer. I opted for going to the car and getting some warmer clothes!

Rains came at 8 and prevented us from playing our third game, which meant we had to be at the fields early on Sunday morning to play that game. Our bats were still asleep though as we only scored 2 runs against Blackhawk (out of Rockford) and lost by the slaughter rule (either 12-2 or 17-2). My stats were simple, 0-2. Boo. That's how I started out Saturday though so I was hoping to turn it around in our second game an hour later.

The 46 degree batting practice temperature was 30 degrees ago by the time we played our second game though and my turtle neck had been retired for simple short sleeves. It didn't help me offensively unfortunately. Down by four in the 7th to Dave's Pizza (one of the teams that went to Arizona who went 0-2), we mounted a rally and had the tieing run at second with one out and the bases loaded when I came up to bat looking for redemption on the day. The umpire made a horrible call (again) on a pitch I could have more easily hit with a golf club than a bat, and I was behind the eight ball with two strikes. Though I tried to hit the hole between short and third, I pulled it too much and the third basemen was able to get a force at third, but he didn't get the guy who was already ON third base in an odd play (touched the bag, threw home, runner went back to third).

The next guy up lined out to center and the game was over, we lost 6-4. Ugh. I ended up 1-4 in the second game and a robust 1-6 on Sunday. Crap. Hitting .533 for the tournament after hitting .777 on day one, is not acceptable. Just a bad day and one bad ump (we were calling him "clown" behind his back during the game).

So we went 2-2, not nearly as good as we wanted. Lots of time to get better though. I'll choose to focus on Saturday's results. :-)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some thoughts for the weekend

Softball tournament this weekend down in Joliet! I'll probably write a summary on Sunday.

Here are two pictures I took from my seat at Wrigley on Thursday.

Look at that pretty blue sky. Deceiving.

We had a good view and had seats pointed towards home. Much better for viewing the game.

Of course, after the game, I HAD to go find my brick. Had I not been running late, I would have looked before the game. As it turns out, it's very near where it was before, just outside of Captain Morgan's. To make room, they took out all of the excess bricks and put only inscribed bricks in each section. Doesn't look as nice, but the brick is still there.

As I was looking down trying to find the brick, these two guys at Captain Morgan's were sitting near me and probably thought I was drunk (being after they game, they weren't THAT wrong). But I found the brick!!

So my thought for the weekend is this: did we learn any lesson from the Susan Boyle events? She is the relatively homely woman who can sing like nobody's business. A Chicago reporter wrote in her column, what if she couldn't sing? The reporter wrote,"In other words, without what we define as talent, Susan Boyle would be an object of mockery and pity." And she follows with, "The message? Almost everything about her is abnormal and unattractive, but let's overlook it because she can sing." Really, take a minute to read the article. I felt happy for Susan, but felt bad for me because I do judge people unjustly and I really shouldn't. Sigh.........

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday = Fun Day

Today I slept in after a long softball practice last night (3+ hours) and was only able to "work" for a few hours before heading to the Cubs game with a banker and lawyer (both potential referral sources). The game was much fun and our seats were in the sun, which worked out well as it wasn't 75+ as promised by weather forecasters and instead it was closer to 60ish, especially in the shade. But it was nice in the sun.

After the game, I picked up GF for dinner (Thai) and then headed to Zanies Comedy Club. Sausage King Andy was there with a mess of his friends, some of whom I know, as part of an MS fundraiser. Good fun!! The headliner was John Diresta.

Big softball tournament in Joliet on Saturday. That's GF's hometown...sort of. She's from Shorewood but went to school at Joliet West, which is where we're having batting practice before the games.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Signs of Spring

About a week ago, the ringing in my left ear started up again. Though the winter in Chicago is insufferable, it does bring with it a virtual elimination of the ringing in my ear that plagues me the other 8 months out of the year. The hearing loss in my left ear is already bad, but when the ringing starts, it acts as sort of another inhibitor for sound to get through. It's just a light ringing now, but as the mold, pollen and such kick up with the onset of warmer weather, it'll get much worse.

Another sign of spring is softball. Because of the rain (and snow) we've had three weeks of softball canceled which was supposed to be used as a sort of spring training for our first big local tournament this weekend. As a substitute, I was going to Stella's Batting Cages to do some hitting.

As I pulled into the parking lot, this sign greeted me. Cook County just raised their sales tax, leading to referendums to secede from at least four cities on the fringes of Cook County. Pretty funny sign though.

Another sign of spring is the increased rat activity in Basra (the southern region of my neighbors' yard). With the snow finally melting, I was able to put the traps back out. The bait this time was peanut butter and a small piece of a chocolate marshmallow rabbit that I got for Easter. Would the rabbit help me capture it's friend the rat? Yes, he would. One large dead rat. No picture though.

This sight, though not spring related, greeted me as I walked back into my workout room. One of the wall mirrors had fallen and broke all over.

Here's where it fell from. So I'm not going to get seven years bad luck because of this am I? It fell on it's own! Actually, I was going to take these down, but maybe this is a labor saving event for me. I can just wait for them all to fall off by themselves. Taking them down is not high on my list, but I will need to do it at some point....unless we have a small earthquake or something.

Things I'm grateful for:
#125 A softball team that is willing to practice.
#126 Cortisone, it's what's letting me throw a softball without pain currently.
#127 ice packs, I need them for the rest of my body after a three hour practice!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lost and Found

As I mentioned the other day, Saturday was dejesus freak's birthday. The GF and I took him out for a few drinks while we watched the first two periods of the Hawks/Flames game. PRIOR to going out however, he said he had something for ME. A few weeks late for my birthday, but that's when he wanted to give it to me. The gift? Well read this entry first, or at least scan it. Here's a picture of what he gave me:

Car keys? Did he buy me a car? What the hell is he doing buying me a car?? Ohhhhhh, wait. He found the keys!! The keys from the Keys!! Turns out they were in his luggage. Mind you, I searched MY luggage pretty damn thoroughly. He said he opened his luggage when he got home and they just flopped out. Dammit!!! Some wasted coin and effort, despite the story value.

Another found item is pictured below. I found two of these while cleaning up and consolidating some tailgating bags. At first I didn't know what they were because I certainly didn't buy them, but these things are awesome!! They are plastic and flexible.

That's right, a pocket shot of vodka. Turns out, the Pocket Shot company makes all sorts of booze available this way, but their distribution is extremely limited. There's only one place in the Chicagoland area that sells them and that's out in the burbs somewhere. They would be perfect for taking INTO a sporting event. You could buy a Coke and then have rum and Coke's all afternoon, just like we did down at U. of I. for the football games where we always had a woman sneak a boda (those bladders you can fill with liquid) into the game under her shirt. They never patted down the women. These pocket shots are awesome though!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Ape-shit" averted

My regular readers know that I have a legacy brick outside of Wrigley Field, as do thousands of other people. The brick as a fund raiser is a cool idea and I have one at Comiskey as well and bought one from my church, though my church MADE bricks out of their old marble front steps after they were replaced and that's what I bought.

Here's a picture of my baby brick.

And here's the location from out by the street before the new construction.

I wrote about my concern when I saw the Captain Morgan bar/grill being built right near my brick! Did they damage it? Am I going to have to order something to eat or drink to see it? Will I even be able to see it when the bar/grill isn't open? Is it still there at all?

To answer my questions, I headed over to Wrigley on Saturday with the GF to see what the story was. Well, here's what I saw:

From further back, this is where my brick should have been. See the tree on the right? My brick should have been between that tree and another one left of the new building. It's gone!! Along with hundreds of others.

It should have been pretty close to that post. Captain Morgan seems to be a staple at the restaurant by they way. Some women dressed as pirates seem to be hanging around as well.

So I asked the bouncer what happened to the bricks and he said, "They're over by the Banks statue."
Really? Where specifically?
"By the Banks statue."
Can you say anything else or are you as stupid as you sound and look?

Over to the statue (around the corner on Clark Street) I went. Thousands of bricks. No way you could possibly find yours unless you spent hours at a minimum.

I was seething!!! They have all of the sections named after players, I was in the Ron Santo section for instance, so you could find your brick relatively easily if you knew what section in which to look. But there's no way to search five or six sections and hope to find yours. As GF said, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Or a specific needle in a needle stack!!!

The more I thought about it, the more pissed I got. Someone was going to suffer my wrath and it was not going to be pretty. An insufficient response and I would go ape-shit on someone before going to the media (our papers have sections for things like this and anything regarding Wrigley would get a camera crew).

The Cubs have my name, what the brick says, and where my brick was located. That's all in a database somewhere because they sent me a letter stating all of that information. They did a mail merge to create the letter I'm sure, so the file exists. So now it's just them being lazy and inconsiderate!! Now I'm really pissed!!! Hell, maybe they decided not to go through the effort of relocating the bricks and just pitched them. If you can't find it, then you'd probably just think it's your fault. Not me though.

Fortunately for the Cubs, I've been busy with work and spending QT with the GF, but the first letter was already drafted in my head and ready to be put down on paper later this week. Then today, in the mail, I got this letter:

We're 12-13 games and more than two weeks into the season, and I just got this letter today. Seriously? You wouldn't want this sent out BEFORE the thousands of people whose bricks you moved showed up?

Well at least they sent it out, as they should. Note that my brick is no where near the Banks statue. I'll have to go over on the next nice day, find it and document it's location.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Breaking it down

So many topics are bubbling around my cranium, it's hard to pick what to write about. Some of them are timely though, so I'll start with those.

First, my shoulder finally feels awesome! The cortisone shot on Friday really worked wonders. I'm wondering if I could mix it into an energy drink and really have a helpful cocktail for softball players and athletes?? Tuesday is the real test when I start actually throwing, but it felt great on Friday night already.

Next up, Saturday was frequent poster dejesus freak's birthday! Not sure how old DJF is, but I know he's old. :-) I think he's a year younger than me....maybe two. GF and I took him out for a few cocktails at a bar by me called Rocks. It opened up where a nice Jewish deli used to be. This was my first time inside and it was decent. Good food for a bar, a little loud and televisions were a little small from where we were sitting. Could go back though.

Saturday was also a HUGE sports day in Chicago. The Bulls and Blackhawks are both in the playoffs. Bulls won their game first (in Boston!) which started around 11:30 or noon. The Cubs game started about 5 minutes after the Bulls game ended and they beat the Cardinals with a walkoff homerun in extra innings. The Sox were on next after a little break and they won as well! The Blackhawks capped off the day with a great victory in game two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A four bagger for Chicago!!!

Many other topics on the way later.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Big Guns

Today was a watershed day for my shoulder rehab. After six plus weeks of physical therapy with a small lessening of pain, it was time to bring in the big guns. I headed down to see my doc at University of Chicago. His office is the main doctor for the Chicago Blackhawks, though his junior partner handles more of the day to day needs of the Hawks players.

After an examination by my doc's latest lackey, I was examined by the doctor. We chatted about the injury, the Blackhawks and treatment options. We decided on a cortisone shot today as opposed to more PT or scheduling an MRI. The doc froze the shoulder with a spray after swabbing it down with iodine. The shot was painless! We'll see how the shot works out, but at a minimum it will help determine if there's possibly a laceration in the labrum. If the shot doesn't work, then we move to the MRI stage.

Here's hoping the shot works!! No activity in it for 48 hours (no throwing or lifting), so later on Sunday I might do a small workout and then Tuesday evening I have softball which is the real test before my tournament in a week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm Special!!

Yesterday, in the mail, I received an application for a Black Visa card. "Membership" is limited to only the top 1% of U.S. Residents (what is that...3 million people??), so it's pretty exclusive. Yeah right. To be a member only costs $495 a year. And what does this card offer? From what I can tell, a 13% APR and "24-hour world class Concierge Service ready to assist me with all of my business, travel and leisure needs". Oh and in the fine print it says the first day any payment is late, the introductory offer rate (13%) changes to the default rate of 27%. Yeah....isn't that nice. What a bunch of hooey.

Went to the Blackhawks game tonight and we won in overtime, 3-2. What a game. I didn't think we were going to pull it out!!
Here's the group I went with: Aussie Rick, Bill the Bear and Aussie Deb. We met at The Beer Bistro down on Madison, had a few brews and shared a pizza before taking the free shuttle bus over to the game. Then we walked home afterwards. Thank you Bill for getting the tickets for us!

During the game the guys in front of me were calling me "Pat" or "Foley" as I had my announcing voice going, which can sound like the BlackHawks announcer (when I'm at my best and he's at his worst). It helped that the Calgary goalie is Kiprusoff, which sounds awesome if you yell it with a little bit of soprano in your voice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Discussion of Death

The other night, GF and I watched Grand Torino with Clint Eastwood. I joked with Joisey Ken that Clint's character was like a meaner version of my dad on Red Bull. :-) It was a surpisingly good movie, despite Clint's overacting and comical facial expressions.

Joisey Ken and his new baby, Stella, are doing well!! We were able to speak finally the other day. The kid is sleeping 6-7 hours fairly often I guess. Pretty sweet for Ken and Dawn. Dawn got the flu or something only a week after they came home from the hospital, so Ken's been taking care of everyone. It was good to talk to my boy Ken!

Thursday I'm going to see the Blackhawks playoff game with Bill the Bear and Aussie Rick and his wife. Should be a hoot!! Drinking starts at 5!!

And congratulations to Dog Brian on surviving another tax season!!!

On an unrelated manner, the other day I started thinking about death. Not my death, or anyone's in particular, but causes of death in general. A hundred thousand years ago, "people" died just by virtue of being born. Both the mother and baby died all the time. Then those that survived got eaten by wild animals quite often. Death from infection due to cuts or bites or whatever, killed a bunch more people. Did people die from cancer? Probably not. They didn't live long enough to develop it I bet.

But then we did start living longer, but only a bit longer. More people survived the traumatic birthing process, but they still could get infections pretty easily. Not all infections are death sentences, but if you're too weak to hunt, or get food in some way or contribute, or help in the fields, I'm guessing you weren't around for too long. Then the wars started.

Wars were a big killer for the longest time. And there were periodic epidemics and even pandemics. But hardly anyone died of old age until recently in our history. People didn't get lung cancer, except rarely. People didn't get Alzheimers. People didn't get breast cancer.

As a function of living longer and surviving the basics, we opened ourselves up to other causes of death. So I was wondering: what are we NOT dieing from now, that we WILL be dieing from in the future? It's a fairly rhetorical question, but interesting to think about.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Early morning, late night

The alarm went off at 6 a.m. this morning (boo-hoo right?) as I had a meeting at 7 at my church. It was pretty early after a late night and I don't do well on limited sleep. That said, it was a busy, busy work day.

Fortunately, my softball was canceled for the second week in a row. Even if it wasn't canceled, I wasn't going to go out there in this awful weather for just a league game. That would be stupid.

So with the evening freed up, I hit the gym for a decent workout and then came home to finish my taxes. Normally, though somewhat complicated, my tax documents are fairly well organized and I use TurboTax to file. Most of the work was done already, but I had to figure out why 2007 and 2008 were very different on the taxes due level, but similar on the top line. I figured it out though, no worries.

The NFL released the 2009 schedule for all the teams today! Here is the Bears schedule:

1Sun, Sep 13at Green Bay 8:20 PM
2Sun, Sep 20Pittsburgh 4:15 PM
3Sun, Sep 27at Seattle 4:05 PM
4Sun, Oct 4Detroit 1:00 PM
6Sun, Oct 18at Atlanta 8:20 PM
7Sun, Oct 25at Cincinnati 1:00 PM
8Sun, Nov 1Cleveland 1:00 PM
9Sun, Nov 8Arizona 1:00 PM
10Thu, Nov 12at San Francisco 8:20 PM
11Sun, Nov 22Philadelphia 8:20 PM
12Sun, Nov 29at Minnesota 1:00 PM
13Sun, Dec 6St. Louis 1:00 PM
14Sun, Dec 13Green Bay 1:00 PM
15Sun, Dec 20at Baltimore 1:00 PM
16Mon, Dec 28Minnesota 8:30 PM
17Sun, Jan 3at Detroit 1:00 PM

At first take, I'm thinking it will play out like this:
GB Loss (on the road, prime time, Aaron Rodgers in year 2 for GB and game one for Cutler)
Pitt Loss
Seattle Win
Detroit Win
Atlanta Loss (on the road against a team that beat us last year in Atlanta even though Orton threw for 286 yards)
Cincy Win
Cleveland Win
Arizona tough game, it's here, early November, probably a loss, could be a win.
Frisco Win
Philly Win (tough team but it's here and Philly plays at San Diego the week before.)
Minnesota Loss (at Minnesota)
St Louis Win
GB Win (playing here this time with a more experienced Cutler, plus GB plays Baltimore the week before and Pittsburgh the week after. Ouch!)
Baltimore (tough game, probably a loss, they have Detroit before us and Pittsburgh after.)
Minnesota Win (I think a split with Minnesota is reasonable, plus we're between Carolina and the Giants on their schedule.)
Detroit Win (Benny Baseball, we might not be able to hit that game this year!!! New Year's weekend in Detroit....ummmm, no.)

So that puts us at 10-6 if the close games are losses. Another season on the cusp of the playoffs!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Paging: Dr. Howard, Dr. Sutton, Dr. Howard.

Last Thanksgiving, during a flag football game on the far southside of Chicago, I threw a pass and on the follow through, hit my index finger on some dude's noggin. At the time, it didn't hurt, but it's been aggravating ever since. It stiffens at night and I have to loosen it up during the day so that I have full range of motion. That part of the story is more recently though (last 3 months). Initially, I couldn't open doors or sugar packets without it really being painful, if I could do those acts at all. Though I went to a doctor, he couldn't find anything in particular wrong with the finger. Even an X-ray found no damage.

So I've been thinking, if it stiffens up at night and then hurts as I make it mobile in the morning, what if I slept with it stretched out (in this case clenched in a fist)? Since I was going to PT anyway, I asked the therapists there what they thought about it. "Probably not a good idea." Others asked had a similar response. Undaunted, I taped it last night in a way that kept the index finger bent(and should have taken a picture as it was quite elaborate). This morning there was no stiffness!! I'm hopeful that if I do this for a week or so, maybe it will be healed. We'll see.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!! Lent is over and it's time to celebrate!!! Whoop-whoop!!

First I'm going to catch up on my car situation. While I had a long dent down both doors on the passenger side, the bumper was also all scratched up due to years of parking on the street and one accident where a moving truck hit a car into my bumper. The body work guy I went to, Mario, was recommended by my mechanic, Dave (thanks Stef!). The deductible was only $100, but I don't have rental car replacement insurance, so I had to pay for that for 4 days. In retrospect, I could have done without the rental.

Anyway, look at the rear bumper!! It's like it came off the factory line!! Awesome. Sure, it won't last long, but at least it looks great for now.

Here's what GF got me for Easter!! Her mom made the chocolate covered chocolate cake eggs (that's a LOT of chocolate) and an Easter basket of candy. Yay for me!! My folks also got me a solid milk chocolate rabbit from a place in Altoona P.A. I'm looking forward to eating that as well.

Speaking of the folks, here they are!! Nice pic and great hosts!! (not to mention great parents!!!)

The early table setting. Paper plates again.....I'm concerned at this point.....

The table loaded up with: Honey Baked Ham (thanks Bee!!), creamed corn, potato salad, regular salad, beets and apple sauce. I was stuffed.

The auction items on display. We had good fun with the auction and even though I ended up with $100 in play money left, I also had a nice baking pan with a tight plastic cover and a pan I can use for grilling. Clearly these items were more than the regular $5 items. Saaaaaweeeeeet. I made out like a bandit.

While I don't have pictures from the Easter egg hunt against my now 9 year old neice, I can tell you that I regained the egg hunting crown!!! 18 eggs were hidden and I found 11 of them, though my sister Sue stole one from my basket, tossed it to her husband who then gave it to my neice, so the final tally was 10-8. Still, a W is a W!!! The family fought me valiantly, almost forcing me into a tree at one point, but I prevailed.

Things I'm grateful for:
#122 my body shop guy, Mario. What a great job he did. Sure, he got paid by the insurance company, but he's very detail oriented....pardon the pun.
#123 Easter egg hunts. Good fun.
#124 Easter Sunday, the holiest of days for my religion.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Twas the night before Easter and all through the house....

Tonight I wen to the gym, a bit odd for a Saturday night, and something unusual happened. For the first time ever, I was all alone in the weight room. It was a bit strange to be in a 2,000+ square foot room, all alone. It was also pretty nice as I could go to any machine or bench or bar whenever I wanted. Soon enough, the room had a half dozen people in it though and the moment was gone.

Many of my readers know that my posture is not the best. Some times when I'm working at my desk, I can become almost completely horizontal in my chair....not a good sight. The other day I read on Terri Terri's blog that she was using an exercise ball as her office chair. Hmmm, I don't think I could slouch if I used a ball as a chair. That could be good. I'm also pondering a kneeling chair. Both are outlined in this article. Not sure which way I'll go, but I'd love to hear your comments.

Happy Easter to everyone and I hope you have a safe and festive day!!!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

He's ba-a-a-a-a-ck!

Another funny thing that came out of the Hawks game last night happened while prepping the group for our initial meeting. In the email to the group, I told TZ that Aussie Rick would be the drunk Australian if TZ got there before us. I told Rick that TZ would be the drunk Irishman if Rick got there before we did. Sounds relatively innocent enough. Unfortunately TZ is not Irish. In fact, his last name ends in -ski and is very Polish. In my mind however, he's southside Irish. Why? I really don't know. I just think of him that way....he's pale like the Irish, drinks like the Irish and used to have a reddish/blondish tint to his hair. Alas, he is not one of us!

Manual Labor Mike is back in the house. Yes, it's true. As I've mention, MLM does great, very detailed work. No doubt about it. And he's reasonably priced. The cost of hiring him though is that he's on his own schedule and you never know when he'll show up (though usually he does call in the morning) and that he works a bit slow.

This project is taking out the small threshhold and putting in a larger one to block the water that could back up from the drain outside the door. Obviously keeping the drain clear of debris is key, but this is for big time rainfall. With a new threshhold, a screen door and a new wood door, then I'll finally be able to put down new carpeting in the basement.

So this means I need to buy: a screen door (or heavy metal security door), a new external wood door, a new internal door (to replace the last of the old doors) and new carpeting. It's going to be an expensive Spring!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Gettin' out of work

Tonight I went to the Black Hawks game, which they lost in a shoot out, so now I'm 1-2 for Black Hawks games this year. On a positive note, it was a good game and it was my first shoot out that I've seen in person. Attending with me were TZ, Billy the Bear and Aussie Rick. We met at Twisted Spoke before the game for some grub and beer, both of which were pretty good. When we got to the game, eating was completely out and we just drank.

So I left at about 4:45 to meet Billy at the train. He left work early, which made me start to think: was he going to enjoy the evening MORE than me simply because he got out of work early? Leaving work early is always fun right? Doesn't it give you a leg up on someone who, say, has a more flexible work schedule? And what about Aussie Rick who was going to meet us near 6:00, but then was there with a beer down and another underway before we even got there? He left work early unexpectedly. Is that even better than Billy? Just the kind of crazy shit I think about.

Topics that came up at the game: it's BATED breath, not baited breath. They believe the term comes from "abated breath". Chick peas and garbanzo beans are indeed the same thing and are used for hummus. And a dunnie is indeed the Australian word for toilet. We did not determine the origins of the word prior to the game starting.

On a completely unrelated note, the blue toilet disc has finally dissolved completely in my tank pipes and is gone. I've started to drop the discs in the other side of the tank, away from the flapper opening, in order to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Your baby is fat.

At least there's a good chance that your baby is fat.

The other night the GF and I had dinner with Jumpin' Joe and his wife K at Bhabi's Kitchen up on Devon, the place we ended up going when we found Hema's Kitchen was closed. Bhabi's is byob as well and Bhabi (pronounced Bobby) is ever present. He's just so damn nice and helpful. I should have taken pictures, but I forgot. My bad. Next time. And there WILL be a next time. Everything just seems sooooo good and Bhabi will tell you what's special about every dish. When he came up to take our order, he remembered what GF had the last time we were there (well over a month ago). He's quite the character if you take the time to talk to him and ask his opinion.

Latest in the "My Life is Awesome And I'm Above the Law" screwups from the NFL is Reggie Williams, a wide receiver from Jacksonville. Nice job multi-millionaire. Dumb-ass. First DWI and now getting tasered and caught carrying coke. How to kill your career in two steps.

And finally, the Cubbies won their opener!! Yay!!! Just wanted to say that while I really like the way this team sets up, I disagree with Lou's lineup. We'll compare:

Lou's lineup My Lineup
A. Soriano lf R. Johnson cf
K. Fukudome cf M. Fontenot 2b
D. Lee 1b M. Bradley rf
M. Bradley rf A. Ramirez 3b
A. Ramirez 3b A. Soriano lf
M. Fontenot 2b D. Lee 1b
G. Soto c G. Soto c
R. Theriot ss R. Theriot ss
C. Zambrano p C. Zambrano p

How Lou could put Fukudome in the two slot is beyond me. He was awful playing for Japan and hasn't done any better when he reported to the Cubs. He went 0-4 and hit into a double-play. D.Lee struggled last year and I'd like to take the pressure off of him and move him down in the order. Bradley wants to prove his worth in his new town, so move him up. Plus his OBP is stellar. There are a lot of good lineups that you could make with that talent and I think Lou picked a weaker one.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Some times, the good guy doesn't get the shaft

A busy day for me today as I hinted at in my post yesterday. PT at 8:30 was tough as I didn't had coffee or breakfast yet. It's sort of like waiting 30 minutes after eating to go swimming; I just don't like to have much physical activity on a full stomach. My therapist wondered why I was so much more quiet than normal. I told her she was lucky I was awake at all!

Then it was off to pick up my rental car after dropping off my car at the body shop. If this body shop guy does a good job, I'll pass along his name to all my Chicago readers. So far, so good. My rental is a Chevy something-or-other. It's ok, nothing special. $40 a day, no problems.

After trying to help land a client for part of the afternoon, doing some other work and doing more work on my taxes, I almost forgot about going to my core class. Fortunately I was able to get a 15 minute warm-up on the Elliptical before class. My class runs from 5:30 to 6:00. Doesn't seem significant except all of the parking restrictions in the area start at 6:00. I figured I'd be at my car by 6:10 or 6:15 and I've never even seen a meter-maid in the area of my gym.

Well guess who decides to patrol the area today? Yep. I turned the corner for where I parked and saw him in the street. Damnit!!! I hit my alarm/lock button on my remote key and started jogging for the car. Unfortunately, I hadn't put a guest sticker in my window since I planned on parking in my parking spot and didn't think I would need it down by the gym. Ugh!

As I walked up, the guy said "You can't park here after 6:00." I started to explain myself, but he cut me off and repeated, "You can't park here after 6:00." So I got into the car, and there was no ticket!!! Yay for me!! So I drove around the block, found the meter maid and told him thank you and that I just got this rental and that I really do live in the zone and have permits. This time he was much nicer and said I was welcome and had a big smile on his face.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Holy Week is upon us

Happy birthday to my sister Lori!! Not sure if she can remember the last white birthday she had....but it snowed again here today. Unbelievable.

Congratulations to Joisey Ken and his wife Dawn, who have finally named their little girl!! They named her Stella Vicki. Stella is not a family name, but Vicki is Dawn's mother's name. Since it was a cesarean, they stayed in the hospital a few days. Yes, THEY. Ken stayed there as well.

Today is Palm Sunday, which is slowly being also called Passion Sunday as the Catholic church has decided to read the Passion gospel accounts usually reserved for Good Friday on the Sunday prior to Easter. John's account of the Passion is still read on Good Friday, but the other gospel versions are rotated on Palm Sunday.

This week offers all sorts of good television too. Of course, "good" is in the eye of the beholder. I like the National Geographic and History Channel shows on "The Real Jesus" and documentaries on the period as well as anything to do with the Knights Templar. My DVR is warmed up ready for recording!!

Monday I have PT at 8:30 and then I'm off to the body shop for my car. I'll get a rental for three or four days while they are working on the side panels (and possibly bumper). I'm going to miss my remote starter during this cold spell!! The Sox have postponed their home opener already due to the snow. It always makes me wonder why money wins out over common sense when it comes to starting and ending the baseball season. Starting May 1 and ending September 30 seems like a much more logical idea.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Pictures from the past week or so

My weekend readership is greatly reduced; I'm guessing because you all have families and things to do!

However, I still like to write and had some interesting pictures to post from the last week.

This picture is from our seats at Rent. We were in row T on the main floor and have a pretty good view. For future reference, if you're at the Ford Theater, you could have seats even further back from row T and still see well.

This picture is from the Black Hawks and Vancouver Canucks game. Aussie Rick is the first guy and is sporting a Canucks' jersey. Bastard. Smitty is next to him, Smitty's friend is next, then Ricardo and Bill the Bear.

One of the few potential bright spots was this penalty shot by Patrick Sharp. A penalty shot is where a player is awarded a one on one attempt against the goalie due to the player being fouled during a break away. Unfortunately he was stopped and the Hawks were shut out.

As I drove down Addison the other day, I noticed this new construction outside of Wrigley. Apparently they are putting in some kind of eatery and/or entrance. Notice the tree positions relative to the new structure.

Here's a picture from my July blog entry where I show the location of my brick.

My brick is right in between the trees!! That's where the structure is going up!! I haven't been notified by the Cubs that they are moving my brick, but it better not be damaged or I'll be pissed!!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A day of ups and downs.

It started out as a fairly typical Thursday, nothing particularly exciting. My physical therapy wasn't until 11:30, so I could bum around the house in my workout clothes and do work on the computer. Good stuff. It was Kleveland Kim's birthday, so I called to wish her a happy day. More good stuff. I also had to call my car insurance company and file a claim on a nasty dent on my passenger side doors. That wasn't fun.

PT was really tough as I was pretty tired still from working out on Wednesday night with my core class, the eliptical and lifting some weights.

Then it was off to Calumet City (think far south side and near Indiana) for a wake. The faterh of my good buddy, Dotty (my gay friend from L.A.), passed away and the wake was today. Dotty and I worked together for many years at Morningstar and still have many mutual friends. It was good to see him, but sad to think about his father passing. Good to see his sister, whom I also know, but sad to see his mom lose her husband. Good to see some of those mutual friends at the wake. Sad to say goodbye.

The roller coaster day continued though as I met the GF for dinner at Trattoria #10 (a nice Italian restaurant downtown in the theater district) and then to see Rent. The lead in this production actually went to GF's high school, Joliet West, and she even met him once (he's 3 years older). Even in high school he was doing movies and such. My main comment on the show was that there was too much singing. Yes, I'm aware that it was a musical and don't be snippy with me. Wicked, Mama Mia, Spamalot and Miss Saigon were also musicals, but they didn't sing every single line. Everything through intermission was sung and it seemed a bit forced if you ask me. They should change some to dialogue and it would make it much better. In general though, a good show.

Finally, THE BEARS SIGNED JAY CUTLER!!!! Not to mention Orlando Pace (a future hall of fame offensive lineman). For Cutler and a fifth round pick this year, the Bears gave up a first round pick this year, our first round pick next year, our third round pick this year and Kyle Orton. A steep price, but I think he makes our offense much better and that will make our defense better.

You have to understand the context of this trade. We were bidding against probably 10 other teams for Cutler and five of those were very serious and had more to offer or money to spend (especially after Denver said they didn't need a QB in return). One of those teams was Detroit. If you're Denver and your QB demands a trade, what better team to trade him to than the 0-16 Lions? That would teach him. Plus the Lions had the #1 pick, the #20 and the #33 pick. It wouldn't be a great fit for the Lions though as they need MUCH more than just a QB. Minnesota with a bonafide QB would have been deadly though. The Jets? An instant contender for the division. Washington? They absolutely have the money to spend as they have shown in the past, but their lack of draft picks this year hurt their offer.

Does Cutler walk on water? In Chicago, he just might. Cutler is a bonafide franchise quarterback, the likes of which we have not seen since Sid Luckman. Mind you, I'm not nuts about throwing Orton in because I actually like Orton and pre-injury last year, he was playing pretty well, but it was the richness of our offer that got the deal done and done quickly. Kudos to Jerry Angelo. I ride Angelo like a pony for most of the stupid shit he does, but today was a great day for him and the Bears.

Isn't three top draft picks too much for one guy? You would think that wouldn't you? For MOST teams it would be. Why is it different for the Bears? Because our top draft picks suck. They're mostly just awful and they get paid a lot of money to be awful. At least this way Angelo doesn't have to worry about screwing up another first round pick for two years!! Other teams could have selected three quality starters with those picks, much like Denver will, but the Bears would be lucky to get one! Hell, our third round pick last year was a wide receiver and he couldn't crack the line-up on the team with the worst receiving corps in football! Turns out he couldn't learn the plays. Really?? That's unfucking-believeable. Our first round pick had to have surgery to fix his back. Really?? You spend your first round pick on an offensive lineman with a bad back? The guy who has to push 350 pound monsters away from your quarterback every play. Nice decision.

So while it might SEEM like we gave up a lot, the reality is that the Bears were only ever going to get a franchise quarterback by somehow taking someone else's, because we can't develop WR's and lineman here, much less QB's. And that's what Angelo did today. So good for him!!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Revisting the past

Happy Birthday to two people today! Actually, Joisey Ken had a baby girl on Wednesday at 10:30 in the a.m., so happy birthday to her (unnamed at this point)!! Happy Birthday, on Thursday, to Kleveland Kim!!**

Today my legs and ass were still sore from my core class on Monday and I had another core class to go to today! Fortunately I was able to get to the gym early enough to get 25 minutes in on the eliptical machine and warm up my lower body a bit. It seemed to help, but the core class was really tough.

While at the gym, in the locker room, I heard someone call "Hey Joe." As I often I do, I ignored the caller as Joe is a fairly common name and half the time they are really saying "No"or "Go" or something else that I didn't hear right. This time however, it actually was "Joe" and it was somebody that I knew! Now I've been going to my gym for......shit...I don't know...6 years?? I don't know any guy by name that works out there. Not one. Unfortunately, one knows me.

This guy and I were in martial arts school together and were both brown belts at the same time. His wife, Vicki, whom I actually DO remember, was also at the school and apparently at the gym tonight though I missed her. This guy is actually a nice guy and I really WANT to remember his name.

So when I got home, I went back into my electronic, password encrypted journal, to see if I made reference to him and or Vicki. Unfortunately I wasn't writing every day back then (hence my blog) so I couldn't find anything on him.

But I did find a treasure trove of interesting shit that I wrote 6-8 years ago. Good stuff that I sort of remembered or mis-remembered. And that goes back to why I wanted to have a blog in the first place: my memory is for shit and as you change, your perspective will change regarding the events that occurred. I even wrote some "Editor's Update" into my own journal (maybe it should have been an "Author Update") regarding some of the stories. Good stuff.

Things I'm grateful for:
#119 my martial arts training. Don't mess wid me homey.
#120 having started an electronic journal when I did.....though it would have been nice to have had it started even earlier.
#121 my medical insurance...especially this year. Unfortunately, I'm racking up the bills!

**(When are we getting together for dinner?? Tell Greg to get his ass in gear!)