Sunday, May 31, 2009

Long/short weekend

Have you had those weekends that seemed both long and short? The GF and I headed down to Troy Illinois, about a five hour drive, for a softball tournament. We left on Friday about midday and stopped in Joliet to have lunch with her folks. Then drove the rest of the way and made an early, restful evening of it.

We woke up on Saturday to a whole bunch of rain and a two hour rain delay to the start of the tournament. We were supposed to start at 11, but didn't get started until closer to 1. The one day tournament was now a one and a half day tournament.

Unfortunately we had another bad luck of the draw and played first the team which I think ended up winning it all (they were 4-0 on Saturday and blew people away). We won the next three games with only minimal breaks after our second game of the day and lost our last game around 10:30 at night to a team from Troy who plays on the (rather poorly lit) fields every week. It was a long day for 5 games. It got pretty warm and humid in the afternoon, at by the end of the day I was pretty tired. In my last two games I was 2-8 after a reasonably decent start to the day. By the end of the day, I was probably close to .500, which for me with this style of pitching (not what I normally play) it wasn't bad. You always expect to do better. So we went 3-2 and ended up maybe in fourth place.

Turns out I was 8 for 12 going into the last two games, pretty sweet. The second to last game, which we won, I was 0-4 and then 2-4 in the last game to go 10-20 for a .500 average. Not great, but good for a bad day, if that makes sense.


While I struggled offensively, I had a few nice defensive plays. On one ball smashed down the line to my backhand, I dove, gloved it, and threw the batter our from my knees. It was especially sweet as the next two plays were defensive gems by our pitcher and first baseman, so we sent them down 1-2-3 on three pretty good plays. I also started one double play and finished a second double play, which is tough to do at third.

With runners at first and second, the batter hit a slow grounder to short. The shortstop flipped it to the middle infielder who, instead of throwing it to first (where we probably weren't going to double up the batter) he threw a strike to me at third where I had just snuck in behind the runner going from second to third as he rounded the base too aggressively. I snapped the tag right on his noggin as he dove back towards the bag. Nice play!!

The GF was awesome all weekend, especially on Saturday. When we had three back-to-back games, she really helped with getting me beverages and running to the car for stuff I needed. On the way back on Sunday, we stopped in Springfield to have lunch with my college roommate Sam and his wife Diane. Their three kids were hopping all over the place too, just to keep things interesting. They were great hosts and had just had a grill out party the night before so we had plenty of leftovers. Good stuff and great to catch up!!

The GF has a new web name!! At least until further notice or she majorly objects. Sure given that her name is Laura, an 8 year old would have come up with "Lovely Laura" some time ago, but I'm not an 8 year old and might not be smarter than one. ):^)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Not much of an entry today

Last night I hit my first Cubs game of the year. The weather was really nice and the seats (upper deck 5th row down the third base line) were great. The game ended with two Cubs striking out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. UGH! We lost 2-1.

This guy is at the entrance to the Sheffield Bar inside the stadium. Something about him just creeps me out.

This weekend I'm heading down to Troy, IL (about 20 miles east of St. Louis) for a 12 team, one day tournament. Our first game is at 11a.m. and out last game could possible be at 11 p.m. Hopefully it will be a long day filled with good softball!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When I become dictator....(part two)

On with my dictatorship changes!

All highway roadwork will be done 24/7, weather permitting, and overtime will NOT be paid. You work an 8 hour shift; I don't give a shit if it's midnight to 8 a.m. or not. You work 8 hours, you get paid for 8 hours. Unions are done.

Teachers tenure is done too. If you don't do a good job teaching EVERY year, you don't get to keep your job....just like the rest of society. I will up their starting salaries though.

Ricardo really doesn't like my next change, which is to take a DNA sample from everyone born or entering the company, even if they are just visiting. If you commit a crime and leave behind evidence, you're going to get identified. God help you if we catch you!!

All government documents relating to the Kennedy assassination and area 51 will be made public, without any editing.

Flat income tax rate of 15% on all income over $30k. No deductions for anything. For businesses, there will be no differences between tax and book REVENUE. As a company you can do whatever you want with your expenses, I'm taxing your revenue. This will greatly reduce the need for public accountants and IRS agents.

Traffic accidents will have screens tossed up around them to prevent rubber neckers. Fewer delays! At the same time, I'm going to increase speed limits. It's so nice to be able to go 70 in Michigan.

Lawsuits against doctors will be capped. Doctors need to be better as well though.Attempt to eliminate frivolous law suits by setting better precedent. If you do something stupid and your life sucks because of it, I'm not letting you sue somebody just to get money.

NFL rookies will have their salaries slotted (no more signing for huge dollar amounts without having played a down and no more holdouts). Along those lines, all sporting event and movie ticket prices will be cut by 66%. Salaries of professional athletes will have a raised minimum and capped salary (capped somewhere around $5million a year). Entertainers will have their salaries capped as well. CEO's will be paid based on an algorithm relating their company's taxes paid, stock price performance and number of Americans employed.

And if all of that wasn't enough to make you stop reading, I have the coup de grace. I'd investigate a massive public works program to remove some mountains on the east side of California between San Jose and LA which is trapping rain and cloud cover from heading east into Nevada and AZ. If it works, it could be a model for solving desert conditions in other countries. Will it cost a bundle? Sure, but we just gave banks trillions. I'd be employing tens of thousands of citizens with that money.

That's pretty much it for now. Maybe I'll update my list as I come up with new ideas.

***Late addition***
Can't believe I forgot that I'd get rid of the designated hitter rule in the American League. That's an awful sports reality. Football would be much harder on quarterback's in my regime as well....and kickers. And icing in hockey would be automatic, no "touch up" rule.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When I become dictator.......

If you've spent any time with me at all, you've heard the title words come out of my mouth at some point. Some things that occur in our society seem so easily fixable, but you just need to have absolute power to overcome the objections from those with power and money. And yes, that implies that many of these things DON'T happen already because of people in power and/or the rich. That makes this entry a little less fun and a little more sad unfortunately. All of my suggestions are achievable.

Instead of categorizing these, I'll just start running off the action items....after all, I'm dictator on the move!!!

First and foremost, Superbowl Sunday will be moved to Saturday. It's just stupid to have it on Sunday and then have people go to work the next day. The site will be rotated around the league to ALL stadiums as well, not just warm weather and domed stadiums. That's bullshit. And No, I won't just give you Monday off. We will be in a productive society.

People who kill other people and whom would otherwise be put on death row will be publicly executed. They will be hung from a central area in town as a reminder of what happens to killers. And pedophiles, also publicly executed. We just don't need that kind of trash in our cities. And we used to do this! No I don't think it's too grisly. I think it sends a very strong message however.

Drug dealers are in for a rude awakening as well. I realize that if there were no buyers then there would be no market, but I also realize that people are easily tempted and are generally stupid. Dealers will also be publicly executed. Watch out gangbangers, I'm coming for you.

Marijuana however will be legalized and taxed. The drinking age will be eliminated. Not to 18, eliminated. The onus will be on the parents to teach their kids.

These next few aren't actually being prevented by the rich and powerful. We just don't do them and we should. Under my administration, we would!!

No one under 30 will be allowed to get married. You're young and stupid before then and many people remain stupid after 30.

Similarly, everyone will be implanted with those multi-year contraceptives when they are 13 or so. No teenage pregnancies. No unwanted pregnancies. No irresponsible fathers or drug dependent mothers. The contraceptives will be removed after they pass mental, physical and drug tests (and they are over 30): basically everyone will have to get a reproduction license whether you're married or not. Just getting married doesn't give you the right to reproduce. The economic and moral weight of this issue will free our country's minds to think about and focus on other issues.

Finally, for this entry, children born of illegal immigrants will not be citizens and will have the same legal status and rights (limited) as their parents.

Tomorrow: speed limits, taxes and changing the envrionment of some states.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tough Sports Weekend

It was a pretty bad sports weekend for me and Chicago. Though on Friday the Blackhawks won to start off the weekend on a good foot. Since I had a softball tournament in Joliet on Saturday morning (with a 6 a.m. wakeup call), I stayed in with the GF and watched the game. It was a thrilling 4-3 win in overtime with the Hawks scoring the first 3 goals and the Wings scoring their 3 in a span of less than five minutes in the second period. Overtime ended after only about 2 minutes or so. Great win!! It might have been for nought though as they lost on Sunday to go down 3 games to 1.

The Cubs have lost 6 straight too! And against teams they were supposed to beat. Ugh.

Down in Joliet, our softball team didn't fare much better. It got surprisingly warm down there, especially compared to the city....probably 20 degrees warmer. We lost the first game 20-8. It sounds like we didn't have a chance, but we hit into two double plays early, one of which I was part of due to a very dumb running mistake on my part. We also could have played better on defense, myself included. In our second game, against Amish Mafia whom we beat badly the last time we played them, we scored a grand total of 2 runs and lost 8-2. It was 1-0 through 4 innings though! Yeah, a real pitchers duel. Oddly, I scored both of our runs.

Not everything was negative though. For the two games I was 6-6, five singles and a double. Unfortunately I was one of the only people to even hit over .500 I think. Normally I get walks and have a higher OBP (On Base Percentage) than batting average, but this tournament had slightly different rules that led me to swing earlier in the count. Obviously it worked out.

So the loss in softball allowed for the trip to Mokena yesterday. By the way, here are some past trips to Mokena: 2007 and 2008.

Tomorrow's post: what I would do as dictator.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mokena: Friend of Children or Foe?

Happy Memorial Day! As I've tried to do the last few years, I headed down to Mokena to celebrate Memorial Day with my friends Terry and Sandie. They put on a great soiree every year. This year was no different! If you live in the Chicagoland area though, you might have heard about the child that was stabbed on Friday night by their 18 year-old half brother. Well, the GF had heard about this and mentioned it to me when I told her about the party. It turns out the stabbing occurred right across the street from my friends' house!!! The people rented the house though and had only been there six months, so don't hold it against Mokenians.

As an example of how much they like kids in Mokena, I offer the following:

This is just a sampling of the baby carriers at the party this year. There were about 20 kids there!! I couldn't count an exact number as they kept running around and were hiding all over. So I think it was about 20. After a few hours, a table was set up for the kids to make personalized visors and some other fun things.

Turns out I parked right in front of the house where the stabbing took place. Ugh.

As usual, the food was awesome and plentiful. When the GF and I arrived, here was the table set up. Not sure if I can describe ALL of the food, but it was pretty damn good. And this spread was just round one.

Here's host Terry working the grill containing the bulk of the second round of eating.

Look at this!! This is the second round of food. After the first batch of food and a bunch of beer, I came inside to go to the bathroom and that's when I noticed the second round of food was out. Holy smokes. Fortunately I forgot to take picture of the desserts which came out later. That would be unfair to you.

Here's my second (or third) plate. Pork loin, NY Strip Steak, chicken and veggies shish kabob, bratwurst and sauerkraut along with a nice green salad with dried cranberries among other things. Yum!!

Here's the crowd outside before it turned a bit cold.

Man down!!! These two potato(?) dishes caught fire in the kitchen while being warmed up!! Yep, actually caught fire and shot flames out of the oven. Fortunately the fire was quickly contained, though apparently Terry and Sandie, like most of us, have an old fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Give yours a check and see how old it is. It might be providing a false sense of security. No children were hurt in the fire, which is somewhat surprising with the number of kids running around.

When it got cold, we had a fire out back and the GF and I sat there for several hours. Very nice.

Prior to going to the party, we headed out to look at carpeting for the basement. Luna was the place of choice as they had a buy one room, get a second room free sale going on. Well, it's not much of a sale as their carpet seems as pricey as Home Depot's for what seems to be comparable carpet. Here are the two choices: the first is Fieldstone, a relatively neutral berber carpet.

This sample is sagebrush, a slightly darker color, but is one solid color and apparently almost stain impervious. Unfortunately, it's also about 50% more than the berber carpet above. While feeling softer, I'm not sure I can bite off the extra cost. Any thoughts on which way to go?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Morel Coincidence?

After being gone for five days and working for two upon my return, I was finally able to clean up around the house today. One of the tasks was laundry. Right outside of our laundry room, I had this vision:

Is that what I think it is??

Pushing aside some leaves I found that it is indeed a morel!! One solitary mushroom. Nothing else in the entire yard. Crazy.

Yesterday, I think I wrote that my mother found one while raking in the yard up in northern Michigan. Odd.

This weekend is a softball tournament down in Joliet and I have to be there by 8:00 a.m., so I stayed in tonight with the GF and watched the Hawks overtime win against Detroit. We were up 3-0 and gave up 3 goals in a less than 5 minute span. Ugh. They play again on Sunday and hopefully I'll miss the game because we're playing softball still. If we are, it means we're doing really well!!

I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend and that you take a minute with your families to remember why we have the day off.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Morel of the Story

Forgot to mention that when I went golfing up north that I was golfing with frequent reader Dry Dock. Good guy and we had fun. Solid roommate too: no snoring, not a slob, loves coffee, doesn't drink (which means I had a designated driver!).

At the restaurant we went to both nights in Gaylord, Big Buck, a very interesting thing happened. The waitress, Marcie, brought over my beer and Dry Dock's root beer in frosty mugs. Before putting the drinks down on a cocktail napkin, she poured some salt on the napkin. Have you seen this before?? Quizzically I asked her what she was doing and she said it keeps the napkin from sticking to the bottom of the glass. And guess what? It works!!!

Received a call from my mom yesterday who is still up north at their summer home near Traverse City, saying that she was raking the yard and found a morel mushroom! You may remember that last year I had a mess of them growing in my yard. Interestingly too, one of the bartenders at Hopcat in Grand Rapids, upon hearing that I was going up to Gaylord for golf, said that it was "good morel hunting country". Too funny. So I had to relate the story to him of my massive stock of mushrooms last year. We saw bags of dried morels for $60 at the local market near my folks. The stuff is gold!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Still so very tired today, but I had to work (see clients and referral sources). At the end of the day though, I was rewarded with dinner (with GF, Stef, Stef's friend Stacy and ESDNM) and a movie (Star Trek).

The movie was a hoot and everyone should go see it. Unfortunately I figured out most of it pretty early (which I hate about myself), but enjoyed watching the movie develop. Good stuff. Some of the character introduction seemed a bit forced. If the movie were longer and the introductions more natural, the overall experience would have been better. Some minor logic flaws, but a pretty good flick overall with pretty good casting.

It's late and there's another day of work tomorrow, so a short entry today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So very tired today!

Not much insightful to say as I was up at 5:50 Eastern Time (that's 4:50 CDT!!), played 27 holes of golf (9 of them in pretty chilly sub-50 degree weather) and then drove 6 hours. So I'm beat. Here are some pics from today though.

One of my favorite holes in all the land. There's a 200 foot drop on this hole.

And now a picture of the hole. Awesome.

Another cool hole, also a par 3.

I just love the scenery on these holes and the course in general.

And another par 3, without the signage. I do love playing up there.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Golfing Fool!

Here's a crazy story that makes you think about what's going on in people's heads.

Because I'm set to play 36 holes on Monday, I'm writing this entry in advance. The course I'm playing is called Treetops and is in Gaylord Michigan. Yeah, I know: Gaylord. Yeah, I know: I live in Boystown. Are you done chuckling now? Grow up.

Their Masterpiece Course (one of four in the complex I believe) is my favorite public course anywhere to play. It has elevation changes, island greens, uphill (blind) shots, blind shots around corners and it's all set in the wonderfull woods of northern Michigan. On the way to the course in the morning, I'll usually see pheasant and turkeys, sometimes deer. On the course, I've seen all of those AND a fox. Good stuff.

I'm back Tuesday night, so I may have pictures for Wednesday.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

No good deed goes unpunished.

Friday night was a mixed bag of enjoyment for me. On one hand, I made it up north in less than 6 hours, about 5 1/2, had seen my buddy Mark and had dinner with my folks. Then I tried to get on the computer, the very same computer on which I'm writing this entry. Unfortunately, I couldn't access hotmail or facebook or seemingly anything that I wanted to see. My folks were still using Internet Explorer 6.0, so I decided that part of the problem might be the old version of the browser. They needed to upgrade anyway, so I downloaded IE 8.0. Very reasonable right?

Well, after downloading it, I couldn't access the internet at all! Arrrrrghhhh! After calling the cable company's automated attendant and then live techie, I was referred to Microsoft's support group in India (southern India where it's very warm this time of year I understand). The techie there was VERY helpful and we determined the problem was the firewall from Computer Associates. We disabled it and everything was ok. My folks will have to reload it later. The whole ordeal took about 90 minutes though and was pretty frustrating, at least until I got to the Microsoft guy.

Saturday was spent working in the yard. Lots of pine cones, leaves, needles and sticks to be raked up and hauled to be burned. My mom raked, I shoveled the piles into the cart hauled by my dad on his tractor. It worked pretty well. After we filled a load, dad would drive it down by the firepit and I would unload the cart. Then back up the yard to do it again. It took abour four trips I believe. LOTS of stuff.

Here's some of the piles of needles and such. Some of it was already burning as you can see.

Close up in the fireplace. We filled it twice on Saturday as we decided to see how much more we could burn after letting it sit for a few hours while we got dinner.

Putting up the bat house was also on the agenda for me. It needs to be between 10-15' off the ground, away from too many branches and facing south. We found the perfect tree. Let's hope we attract some of nature's flying pesticides!!

Full length view of the yard. You can see the fireplace at the end and the bat house up in the tree.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hittin' the road

Howdy from the Great White North!! Ok, it's only northern Michigan and no, not the U.P., but it's definitely north, just about 6 hours by car from my humble abode. Instead of driving straight through, I decided to stop and visit my buddy Mark in Grand Rapids. His wife, Michele, was also on the "to visit" docket during my trip, but I missed her due to a scheduling problem. Damn time zone change.

Anyway, I did hook up with Mark and we visited his bar, Hopcat, which is ranked as the third best beer bar in the WORLD! Seriously! BeerAdvocate ranked it third in the world. And with good reason. Not only is it a nice looking place, it does have awesome beer.

The view inside. Love the door signage.

It's a good sized bar as you can see and has an outdoor area as well. Parking is metered on the street, 25 cents for 10 minutes, not much better than Chicago!!

The draft beer list. You should be able to click on the picture and read some of the offerings.

The owner and our waitress. What was her name? Crap, my memory is horrible. Notice the Delirium Noctornum on my table. Delicious beer.

My barbecue chicken sandwich with cheese and applewood bacon. Yum!!

Look at the sink in the bathroom! I can appreciate a good bathroom fixture.

I'm up here for the weekend with golf on Monday and Tuesday, possibly Sunday as well, though the Hawks play at 3:00 here (2:00 back home) which is when we were going to play 9. Damnit.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Core Competencies

As a regular reader, you know that I'm working on increasing my core strength by taking classes twice a week. The point of increasing my core strength, which is a good thing all by itself, is that it will take some stress off my shoulder when throwing. Combined with continuing my shoulder exercises and a cortisone shot, I'm hopeful that my shoulder pain won't flare up over the summer (if summer ever arrives).

But I also have pretty poor posture while sitting in chairs, especially my work chair. At times, I can become almost horizontal with the floor (which isn't all that easy if you think about it). So after reading that Terri has one at her office. After doing some research and talking to one of my core class instructors, I decided to go out and buy a ball myself.

And so I did. It's the 75 cm size and works pretty well. We'll see how I do sitting on it and getting work done. Today went well, but it's only day 1! While my posture may still not be perfect, I'm absolutely slumping less.

While I don't consider the ball chair a condo improvement, it will certainly be a positive thing. To refresh your memory, here's my list of condo projects that I made in September after the guest bathroom was completed. The items that are in bold have been completed.

Condo Projects

Fix hole in basement cement floor
Re-Carpet basement
Storm door for downstairs
Build-up water stop
Get new door for downstairs
New sofa cushions
Investigate water pressure and hot water enhancer
Install bathroom exhaust fan
Repair water damaged ceiling
New door for storage area
Take down mirror squares in workout room
Repair Jalousie window in bedroom
New glass for Jalousie window in bedroom
Repair bedroom ceiling fan or fix remote
Renovate master bathroom

So I've accomplished quite a few things, but still have some work to do. All are very doable this summer, but we'll see how far I get. The carpet is a toughy and not cheap. For a nice pad and berber carpeting from Home Depot, it's upwards of $25-$30 a sq. yard and I need 100 sq. yards. That's close to $3,000. Does that price sound crazy to you?? I might check out Luna who is doing buy a room, get a room free. Under $2,000 would be great, if it includes delivery and moving all my stuff.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some interesting topics, or things that I find interesting at least. Hell, it IS my blog isn't it??

Saw a graphic in the newspaper which I forgot to copy, which compared the calories, fat and sodium in a breast of KFC grilled, original and extra crispy chicken. Now, I LOVES me some extra crispy KFC. Loves it. Not so much after seeing this data. Here's some excerpts from the story:

KFC says each piece of its grilled chicken has 70 to 180 calories and four to nine grams of fat. By contrast, the Original Recipe items have between 110 and 370 calories and 7 to 21 grams of fat, depending on the piece. The grilled chicken contains from 160 to 440 milligrams of sodium per piece, as opposed to 290 to 1,050 milligrams of sodium per piece of Original Recipe chicken.

Unfortunately, the extra crispy info isn't in the story, but it's SIGNIFICANTLY worse than the even the original recipe.

The other day in a baseball game between Boston and Cleveland, Boston's first 12 batters all got on base and scored before the first out was recorded. Ugh. Imagine if you're a Cleveland fan at that game. Awful.

Last night, the Phillies Jayson Werth did a pretty amazing thing. He got on base, stole second, stole third and then stole home!! The last person to do that was Pete Rose in 1980. Interestingly, it's the 20 year anniversary of Rose's suspension from baseball. If he had only killed someone instead of betting on baseball, he would be out of jail on good behaviour most likely and would be in the hall of fame.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monitor results

My heart monitor results came back and apparently about 1% of the time, one of the ventricles in my heart beats a little early. This seems to coordinate with the fluttering that I have experienced.

So what does that mean? For now, it's something I have to live with. It's not life threatening and the doctor said that if I said, "Thanks for the info. I don't want to do anything." that she wouldn't argue. That said, if it were her, she'd go to a cardiologist and see how they can further analyze the monitor data and possibly do further testing.

So the latter is the route I'm going to take. The fluttering isn't uncomfortable, but it is annoying and not normal, so I'd like to resolve it positively instead of learning to live with it.

That's the latest. Some news, but not much really. It doesn't impact my workouts, playing softball or drinking. :-) So for now, it's on with my life.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The day after

After my exhausting day on Saturday, I was ready to sleep in on Sunday. No such luck though. I was up at 8:30, without my alarm, so I got my coffee and went to church. GF and I had brunch and headed over to wish my mom a happy Mother's Day a few hours later and take my folks out to dinner. It turned out to be another exhausting day and I was in bed by 11.

Today I would normally not have gone out, but the Blackhawks were playing game 6 of their playoff match-up against Vancouver. It was an exciting game which saw the Canucks go up 1-0, only for the Hawks to score three unanswered goals and go up 3-1. The Canucks wouldn't go quietly though and took a 4-3 lead on three unanswered goals of their own. We tied it up at 4 though and things looked good again. Vancouver scored with only 8 minutes left in the third, seemingly to ice the game, but we scored only 45 seconds later....and then 45 seconds later again!! We were up 6-5 and Patrick Kane scored his third goal of the night (a hat trick) with three minutes left to go up 7-5, the final tally. It was a helluva game! Ricardo, Billy the Bear and Smitty joined me in the revelery. It was a hoot!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What a day!

No post on Friday, my bad. GF and I watched our Tivod shows from the week after a nice dinner. Unfortunately, I had to get to bed early because I was rising early. Really early. Insanely early. 5:30 in the a.m. That's nasty early. But I had a softball tournament in Rockford, so I had to leave by 6:15 to make batting practice at 8 for our game at 9.

The weather wasn't cooperating too well either as it was blustery in addition to being about 50 degrees. We ended up playing five games straight with no breaks. We won our first game, lost our second, won our third, beat the team that beat us in the second game and then lost 10-7 in the championship game. It was a small tournament, but a world series birth was on the line, so it hurt to lose.

Part of why we lost was that our starting (and pretty good pitcher) caught a line drive off his head in the first game and had to go to the hospital. Turns out his orbital bone was broken and he had a severe concussion. It was pretty scary to see. Our backup pitcher had a tough time throwing strikes and walked, on average, about 10 guys a game. That's really hard to overcome, especially when we were cold and tired . By the fifth game, I think the 5:30 wakeup call finally took it's toll on me as I went 0-3, while having hit really well the first four games at a clip of .722 and with some big two out hits and RBI.

The day wasn't over after softball though. Not by a longshot. I left Rockford around 3:30 or so, got home, showered and changed and headed to Comiskey Park for the Sox game. Ricardo had secured four tickets from a client just two rows behind the dugout. It was the second inning by the time I got there, so no autographs. Sorry Stef! Here are some pics though:

Bill the Bear, Mark and Ricardo. From our seats in this shot we can see Dye batting, Thome in the ondeck circle and AJ Pierzynski on the steps to the dugout. They were awesome seats and the Sox won the game 3-2 to add to the festive evening.

Done now? Nope, now it was back to Ricardo's house to watch the Blackhawks play! Another exciting game which the Hawks won 4-2 to take a 3 games to 2 lead in the series with the series moving back to Chicago for Monday night's game. The game started at 9:30, so I didn't get home until after 1, thoroughly exhausted.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Hawks win! Hawks win!!

Big news of the day was the Blackhawks' victory over the Vancouver Canucks. It was a very tight game with the first period going scoreless. The Canucks scored mid-way through the second to put the heat on the Hawks. Finally, with about 3 minutes left in the game, the Hawks scored and the place went crazy!! The game went into overtime and the Hawks scored again about 3 minutes into the overtime period to tie the series at 2-2.

The shuttle bus ride over the game: Ricardo, Jodi and Aussie Deb.

Bill the Bear, Gal Nadine and Aussie Rick.

Tommy Hawk! The mascot before the game. GF and Aussie Rick with his Canucks jersey on...ugh.

The whole crew, sans me, during intermission. We'll see about getting tickets to Monday's game as well. Too much fun!!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Rain, rain, go away!!!

The big news for today was all about going to Comiskey with GF, Benny Baseball and E (another softball teammate) and getting to walk on the field before the game! Well, neither ended up happening. After struggling to get to the game early enough (only 2,000 people with advanced parade tickets would be allowed onto the field), the skies opened and it rained. And rained. And rained. In fact, it rained all the way until about 8:30 when they canceled the game. Just after the announcement, it stopped raining. Bastards.

The scene at Comiskey. It would have been fun to walk around the field for a bit. Oh well. As a legacy brick buyer (it's not installed outside the stadium yet), I was given the opportunity to buy discounted tickets to this game and get parade tickets, though I wouldn't be guaranteed of getting on the field. In the end, GF and I went into the stadium at least and had "Polishes with" (grilled onions) and a few good beers. Benny and E sat out in the car for a few hours sucking down beers Benny had brought. E managed to lose his ticket between last night and tonight, so he didn't want to buy a ticket and go in until the game was on for sure.

Big night scheduled for tomorrow with a trip to the Hawks game!! 300 level but row 6 which is good. We'll be sitting with Ricardo and wife Jodi. Also in the area will be Billy the Bear and quasi-wife and Aussie Rick and Aussie Deb. We're going to meet for beers before the game. Should be a hoot!!!

Saturday I return to Comiskey with Ricardo in great seats behind the Sox dugout. Good stuff!!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

Well, I got the heart monitor removed today. How did it go? Well take a look:

Looks like it hurt doesn't it? Yeah, that's because it did. My chest looks like an English corn field that's been the victim of crop circle pranksters. I was still at the doctors office when I took this picture.

It'll be three or four days before I find out the results.

On to other tidbits from my day(s). Recently I've changed parking spots, which doesn't sound significant but it has a big impact on my daily life. The old spot was under a tree that drops these sticky yellow seeds, which stick to the car and then this goo they give off hardens like sap. It's really annoying. For the last several years I've tried to move my spot to another lot which is at least relatively close and from which I can still start the car while in my house (important for the winter).

The old spot is next to the gray car in the middle of the lot in this picture, right under that big tree. Ugh.

The new spot is against the fence in this three car lot. It's 10% more than the other spot, but much closer and no sap producing trees!! Yay!!!!

Wednesday night I'm going to the Sox game and Thursday I'm going to see the Hawks playoff game!! Should be a fun couple of days!!

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Bionic Man

So today was the day I got my heart monitor, which I'm wearing right now actually. It sounded like a relative non-event: pick up the monitor, it fits in a fanny pack and you wear it for 24 hours. Yeah.....that's just part of it. First, they have to attach the electrodes and wires. But before then, they have to "prep" you. Prepping you means shaving an attractive little patch of hair first, then they scrub it with basically a piece of sand paper until it's raw. They claim it's getting off a dead layer of skin which impedes conduction. My epidermis is just fine thank you very much. At least it was, but after they were done with me, my epidermis was breached in several spots.

On to the pictures!

Good Lord. I look like Dr. Octopus from Spider-Man. Five or six wires were attached to a battery operated monitor. They scrubbed where four of the contacts were going to be made. Ugh. When he pulled out the razor, I thought he was going to shave my entire chest!

With a shirt on, I look relatively normal. The little fanny pack isn't too bad either. I just look like I'm from Wisconsin. :-) Fortunately, down by the lake, it was a bit cooler so I had a jacket on most of the day.

They gave me some slack in the wires as I told the guy I was going to the batting cages for some batting practice. The device didn't really interfere with my swing at all, so that was good. The doctor gave me a log that I have to keep as well. Any time I have a flutter or feel anything else heart related, I'm supposed to note when it happened and what I was doing. They'll analyze the data for a few days after I turn it in tomorrow. Of course I'm hoping it's nothing, but that they find out what it is that I'm feeling. We'll see.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Busy Saturday

Sorry for the missed few days. Busy, busy!! Friday, GF and I (I am working on a moniker for GF, but haven't come up with anything yet) caught up on Tivo from the week. We have very similar interests in television shows (except she doesn't like as many animated shows as I do, like Family Guy....what's up with THAT??) so if we have busy weeks where we don't see each other, the good shows build up quickly and we can have a nice relaxing night at home on the sofa.

Saturday though, we headed out early (well, early for me) to a swap meet held in the parking lot at Soldier Field. Haven't been to a flea market in a while and apparently Frank Fontana from Design on a Dime on HGTV was supposed to be there.

This might be Frank in the picture, I'm not sure. Picked up a couple of things, including a Christmas or birthday gift for one lucky individual.

GF and I headed to The Bagel for lunch, her first visit. A very filling meal as always.

On the way, we saw this restaurant. Stella is Joisey Ken's baby's name too! Thought I'd take a picture for posterity sake. So though I don't know any Stellas, I do know of a diner, batting cages and the beer (Stella Artois).

Appropriately, on the side of the building, is painted this picture. I see a future halloween costume for baby Stella!!

Saturday night we headed out to Schaumburg to meet friends of the GF. Oddly, they actually live in Naperville, but they like to go to Improv Chicago at Woodfield Mall to see comedians. We ate at Shaws Crab House, a bit pricey for what you get, but I can see why suburbanites would enjoy it, and then took in the 9:00 show. The comedian was Mitch Fatel who has been on Comedy Central and was pretty damn funny. The link above is about 6 minutes of the material that he did last night.

Since I was out and about, I obviously coulndn't watch the Bulls game 7 or the Blackhawks game 2 in Vancouver. So I Tivoed both of them and opted to watch the Bulls game first. Even fast forwarding didn't help the bad performance. A game they certainly could have won, but they pissed it away. Then I swiched to the Blackhawks, but could only keep my eyes open for the first period in which the Canucks held a 2-0 lead. Damn.

This morning though, I avoided news contact and even made coffee to avoid accidentally finding something out at Starbucks. The Blackhawks scored 5 unanswered goals and ended up winning 6-3. Very awesome.