Thursday, July 30, 2009

Early to bed, late to rise

Feeling tired and like I'm potentially getting sick, so that's it for my entry today. Zinc lozenge in the mouth, vitamin c pill taken, Ibuprofen downed, had lots of fluids and plenty to eat today, so let's see what happens.

Oh, before I go, LL made me dinner tonight! A very nice dinner of chicken breast (spiced with oregano, lemon and.......shoot, forgot), rice and zucchini. Very tasty and hopefully just what I needed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some forgotten excess

When I went shopping yesterday and bought the milk (yes, I ended up buying the cheaper gallon size and will try to freeze some), I also bought cherries. Nice Michigan cherries? Nope, I don't even know if those are ready yet. If you recall, Michigan imports their cherries for their cherry festival just so they can have it around the Fourth of July (no wonder Michigan is in so much trouble as a State). Nope, these were Washington cherries. They were on sale for $2.50 a pound or something so I put a bag in my cart.

What a rookie shopper. Did I weigh the cherries to see how much was there? Nope. Just put them in my cart and off I went to buy shit-loads of milk. Turns out the bags are like 3 pound bags!! Great. Now I have three pounds of cherries to eat, which have made nice late night snacks. If I could somehow combine the cherries and milk.........

This evening I went golfing with Bill the Bear who was gentlemanly enough to make another tee time for us. This week we walked as the course was pretty crowded. If it weren't so crowded, we would take a cart which would speed up play a bit and help us finish the round before dark. As it was, we walked, played two holes in the dark and had to pass up the last hole completely. Still, it's good to see Bill and we had fun.

I also told myself that I would take pictures this week......and forgot. Damn.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Joy of Excess

So much going on, it's tough to figure out where to start. Well, I promised Ricardo that I would post a picture so here it is.

This is one of several Cicada Killer Wasps that were buzzing around my front yard while I was on the phone with Ricardo. Two of them even slammed into my window! Though I've written about them before, I still find them intriguing to watch as they seem so nasty and scary looking. It must be summer!

This afternoon I needed to get some grocery shopping done, so I headed over to my local Jewel. On the way, I passed my video store ("Flicks") run by the sole proprietor, Carlos, who used to be an employee at the store previously but bought out the owner. Unfortunately he had a big sign up saying he was going out of business. Very sad. He's a nice guy to have in the neighborhood and is quite friendly and willing to joke around. PLUS, he's the only nearby video store. Damnit. The Redbox station at the Jewel usually has decent movies.....guess I'll just have to go there.

Finally, I made it to Jewel after a long discussion with Carlos (and I bought the 4th season of The Office from him for $12 along with 40 year old virgin and Young Frankenstein for $7 each). One of the items on my list was milk. Big deal. Well, I got to the milk refrigerators and they have the different sizes: the Chugs (which are a quart I think), half gallon and gallon. Nothing special about that either, though I've been buying the Chugs lately so I can finish the milk before it turns (I hate waste). Oddly though, the gallon is priced at $2.39 and the half gallon is $2.69. Whaaaat?? How can this be? Guess they just wanted to move milk in large quantities. The expiration date was LATER on the gallon as well!

So here I am with a dilemma: do I buy the gallon of milk which I KNOW I can't finish before it goes bad or do I pay more for less? What would you do?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thank you. No, thank YOU!

Since mid last year, when I first found out this type of trading was allowed, I've been bitching about it not being reversed. Apparently my comments have been heard in D.C. In addition, I would love to see the uptick rule instituted as well. This well help weed out speculators who often work to the detriment of investors.

After my dinner with Ernie Harwell, I sent him a picture of the four of us which the host had taken. Several days later, I received a very nice thank you card from Ernie thanking us for the picture and for the nice dinner.

Around the same time, I received a thank you note from my childhood babysitter and her husband, whom we also took out to dinner while we were in Detroit. Very nice of them also.

So I refer back to my dating pre-requisites (or are they technically POST-requisites?) from an earlier post. Two sets of people whom I took out to dinner who both sent hand written thank you notes. All I was asking from dates in the past (as far as a thank you at least) was a call or an email, and people thought that was too much to ask. Bull crap.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Good times even in losing

This weekend was filled with softball one tournament Saturday and one on Sunday. The weather was beautiful.....and that's about all the good things I have to say. We played in an organization in which we don't usually play and last year did really well so they moved us up higher than any other organization, which means the competition is really tough. Both tournaments were using this organization's rules, so at least there was consistency day to day. Though we won one game against a good team and had seventh inning leads against two others, we went 1-4 on the weekend. Not good, but it was mostly just good practice for us. Personally, I had an awful weekend hitting. The last two weeks finally caught up to me and my bat was a little slow. Time to hit the gym.

One thing that did happen was that instead of heading straight home after the games (about 45 minutes or so), I hung out with some of the guys and had a few beers in the parking lot. We tossed the football around and generally bull-shitted (bull-shat??). It was good fun. Normally I head home because it usually takes me longer to get home than most of the guys who live in the burbs (and the beer is usually Miller Lite....yech). But with the games relatively close and our days ending early, I stuck around. Good times.

Friday, July 24, 2009

There's no free lunch

Yesterday I headed back from Podolny Palooza in Albuquerque after two days of productive meetings and lots to eat. As you might recall, I was flying standby on a buddy pass with Southwest which the very generous Kleveland Kim had given me over the holidays....or maybe my birthday. Anyway, the trip out there was fine, but the trip back posed problems.

The flight I wanted to get on at 3:30 was going from ABQ to Phoenix (PHX), but I missed by two people on the standby list and had to wait until 4:45. The flight from PHX to Chicago was at 5:20 and the plane was supposed to land in PHX at 5, which is cutting it close. "No problem." the attendant told me. And if I didn't get on that flight, there was another at 6:10. No biggee.

After landing in PHX and rushing to the nearby gate where the plane to Chicago was supposed to be, I found out it was moved into a different concourse. With only 10 minutes or so now before the 5:20 flight was supposed to take off, I decided to give it a shot anyway since they usually don't let standbys even know until 10 minutes before the flight takes off whether they are getting on. Much to my enjoyment, they were still boarding the flight when I arrived, but the enjoyment wore off quickly when they told me I wouldn't get on as it was already full and there were many standbys ahead of me.

So I got on the list for the 6:10 flight, only to find out there were about 20+ people ahead of me on that one too. In fact, there were people trying to get on the 6:10 flight who had been trying to fly standby since 4:30 in the morning!! They had been bumped from flight to flight all day!! They were the folks able to get on the 6:10, but I wasn't. So I inquired about what it would cost to BUY a ticket to Chicago.

I was really hoping she would start the sentence with "Two hundred.....".
"Three hundred....". Shit.
"....and eighty five dollars." Double shit.

Well, the ticket WOULD have cost almost $300 if I had bought it originally instead of trying to fly standby, so I was really only going to be out $100. If I stayed in PHX, where I knew no one (Blind Ryan, our softball ex-manager, had recently moved back to Chicago), I was going to have to get a hotel and then come back in the morning and get on the standby list. At first I was comparing the $100+ hotel room to the $400 ticket, but then thought about the cabs, dinner and airport food in the morning (not to mention having to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get to the airport to get on the standby list). Plus, if people waited all day on a Thursday, who is to say I wouldn't wait all day on a Friday?? So I bit the bullet, bought the ticket and got home around midnight. At least I was home though.

Also on the upside, financially, I'm able to make that decision and not lose sleep over it. AND I finished the Tribune's crossword puzzle on the trip home, which is awesome for me and quite an accomplishment!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Podolny Palooza

As I wrote yesterday, I'm in Albuquerque for an "all hands" meeting of the consulting group of which Ricardo, myself and ESDNM are members. Not too much to say about the day as we were in a meeting all day.

ESDNM amusing Agent Deforest with some kind of magic trick. Not sure, but it sure looks like that.

Ricardo is FOCUSED on what Agent Deforest is communicating. He didn't say anything interesting, so maybe Ricardo was just fighting off sleep. New recruit Tom is chewing on something, but God only knows what. He's a newbie.

Flying Ace Leslie and Agent Ken are trying to appear interested in ESDNM's comment. Note the star chamber drawings on the marker board.

Actually the meeting was pretty interesting and useful, but I have to make fun!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

End of days and I'm in freaking Albuquerque!

Headed to Albuquerque today for a two day meeting with our group from New Mexico and the L.A. area. As I had a free ticket (thanks Kleveland Kim!!) which was expiring on Thursday, I decided to use it for this trip and fly standby.

Flying standby is risky at best and not the way to travel on a regular basis. It can work well though if you are flexible and can find out the general availability on certain flights. The flight I was targeting ended up being completely full, but only AFTER myself and a few other standby folks got on board.

Upon arriving and leaving the airport, I noticed this huge rain storm in the horizon against the mountain, exactly where we had to go at some point as that's where ESDNM lives. As we dropped off two of our cohorts at their hotel, the runoff canal had little to no water in it. Twenty minutes later there was a category 4 rapids rushing down it. Quite the sight.

After leaving the hotel and picking up dinner to be eaten at home, we headed towards the rain and the road was wet. Out of nowhere, like bats out of hell, came three roaring fire engines headed towards a lighting strike no doubt. Our vehicle, we determined, has some braking issues (probably warn out pads) and ESDNM was barely able to avoid a collision.

Lightning, rain, fire engines.....end of days type of weather and events....and I'm stuck in Albuquerque.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Save the pork?

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted, but as you know, I headed to D.C. with LL to visit her sister and brother-in-law and see the Cubs play the Nationals. Though I could write for hours about what I did, maybe I'll just throw up some pics and let them do the talking. Tuesday I head for Albuquerque, but I'll have my computer so I should be able to post.

This is the Korean War Memorial. Absolutely awe inspiring and stunning. It really got to me, which is why I'm leading with it in the montage. A must see if you're in D.C.

The Washington Monument as seen through the WWII Memorial. The WWII is another great memorial; probably one of the few good things to happen under the Bush administration (and yes, his name is disrespectfully obvious).

Seinfeld's Puffy Shirt is in the National Museum of American History in the pop culture section. Just had to take a picture! All weekend we were all throwing out quotes from Seinfeld and many other sitcoms and movies. Good fun.

LL's sister lives near Dupont Circle and the Metro stop there. Our hotel was just 3-4 blocks away and there was a Starbucks there too. Look how nice the station is. Not to mention the trains were much quieter and more comfortable. The red lights blink as a train is approaching. Subtle, but useful. They also tell you how much time there is between trains.

And here are our hosts for the weekend. Since LL was sporting her Cubs jersey, they had to go get some inexpensive Nats gear to wear. TJ Maxx did the trick with good values for women found in the boys section.

The garbage cans have these decorative helmets on them. A nice touch.

The Cubs won the game! Here's the view from our third row, club level seats. Pretty awesome. We were close enough for me to catch a shirt out of one of those cannons they use between innings to get the crowd going. A picture I didn't get was of the foul ball that arrived in the row in front of just after we sat down. While I was on the aisle, the brother-in-law (Greg) was on the far inside. The ball came down in front of him, unfortunately, just after we got back from getting shredded pork sandwiches. Gregg lost his sandwich and possibly other foodstuffs as he tried in vain to get the ball. Maybe because I'm used to playing softball it was apparent to me that it would take a lot of effort to get the ball, so I sat back and saved my sandwich (and beer). We didn't have any more close calls until the shirt came our way.

Here's the crew!

We wondered through "China Town" on one of the days. All store signs have to be in Chinese at least (most use English and Chinese). It's a totally fabricated area of D.C. as not many Chinese actually live there. Obviously I got a kick out of the signs.

On Sunday, our hosts let us borrow their car and drive 20 minutes or so to McLean VA and visit my aunt, uncle and cousins. There was a surprise party for my uncle's 70th birthday, so it was nice to stop out and spend a few hours with them. Below is the cake just after being cut and my uncle's back and my cousin Theresa.

LL is a huge Eric and Cathy fan (local radio show) and they have a contest whereby you take their cut out faces and get your picture taken in interesting places or with interesting people. We saw McGruff, The Crime Dog, while we were driving down M street and pulled over for a picture. The woman with McGruff, Marsha, is also one of the gals who dance on the dugouts at the baseball game and get the crowd cheering.

We had big plans for the faces as we were getting a White House tour from a Secret Service agent, but it turns out you can't take pictures in the White House. Damnit. Also, you can't wear jeans or generally look trashy. I kind of like that though.

It was a great trip and we ate a ton! Now it's off to Albuquerque where, I fear, it will be more of the same.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Twittering.....yeah, Twittering.

Ok, maybe it's tweeting, but I like to say twittering. Today The Podolny Group Chicago(ESDNM, Ricardo and myself) after recommending it as a great form of potential "buzz creation" for a client, officially twittered for the first time. The messages were not particularly business like:

"The Podolny Group Chicago branch is going out for drinks this evening."

"PGCurmudgeon (ESDNM's name) is being a curmudgeon."

"Ricardo is withholding valuable information."

"Ricardo is a poopie head."

" bastards."

"At the Fulton Lounge."

"Where's my drink!"

Not very insightful, I know, but fun! We'll see who we add. Let me know if you're on Twitter. My name is "HugeBearsFan".

It wasn't all fun and games today, though mostly it was. We met with a client this morning and a referral source for lunch out in the burbs, Forest Park in fact. My loyal readers all know about my time in Forest Park. Anyway, the restaurant we were supposed to go to had switched to summer hours in which they don't serve lunch except for the weekend. So we ended up at Francesca's, part of the Mia Francesca's chain I believe. Good stuff.

On Madison street however, I saw these interesting signs:

I'm not sure I've ever seen the word "midwifery" in writing before. It seems kind of funny to be walking down a nice street with restaurants and bars and then come accross this sign. Two storefronts down was this sign:

It's a weird little street I guess.

Being still full from lunch, we opted to just have a few drinks for dinner, so we headed to The Fulton Lounge because we thought they might make good drinks there (they don't....very weak). That might have explained why there were only 5 customers for most of the time we were there. Even so, we stayed for several drinks....and a pizza appetizer.

ESDNM's Bush Mills Black Label....or what's left of it.

After three drinks, were they sleeping already? Right there streetside?? Nope, just checking emails. I thought maybe I had lost them though when I returned to the table and this sight.

Tomorrow I travel to D.C. with LL for the weekend. I'm not bringing my computer, but I'm sure I'll be able to get access at some point to post.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An exhausting day

Ok, I know I won't get any sympathy from most of my readers as you all tend to work much harder than I do (kudos to you!), but I'm exhausted from my day today. It started with a 6 a.m. wake-up that bewildered me so much, it was a good 45 seconds or so before I knew what day it was or why my alarm was going off. I hate that feeling.

The early wake-up was for my monthly financial council meeting at my church. The meeting lasts a little over an hour with a forced ending time as people have to get to work and because there's an 8:30 mass (the pastor attends our meeting as well).

However, ESDNM is in town as well and we had client meetings today. Two hours with the first client, a drive to the suburbs, lunch, an hour meeting with another client, a drive back to the city, some work at the office and then off to dinner with ESDNM and Ricardo. We finally got back home around 8. That's a long, exhausting day for me.

Dinner pictures from Erie Cafe (yes again!).

I had the shrimp de jonghe, which I asked them to put over a small bed of linguine. Very, very tasty. Ricardo had lamb chops......which look pretty good even though I'm not a big medium rare meat eater. I'll leave ESDNM's food for his own posting (but it was very good too!). And we had the wonderful grilled calamari again. Yum!!! The malbec on the menu is very tasty by the way and the second least expensive bottle of wine on the menu I believe.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Two weeks of hectic

The next two weeks will be pretty hectic for me, but it won't involve softball oddly. Tonight, ESDNM comes into town and stays through Friday morning. I'll be leaving on Thursday afternoon though to head to D.C. with Lovely Laura. Back for a day and then out to Albuquerque mid week. Just busy, busy, busy.

Speaking of LL, here's what we had for dinner on Saturday at Ram Brewery out by the airport. She had shrimp fajitas and I had grilled chicken strips....mmmmmm, oh and margarita's of course. The appetizer, pictured below, was bbq chicken quesadillas. Good stuff. The hotel at the airport was really nice too and cut down on the trip back home/to the fields by about 30 minutes each way.

Had a really nice call today from probably the best player on our softball team congratulating me on my play this weekend, especially my hitting. It was great to receive for a few reasons I guess. First, guys just generally don't do that kind of thing, though we should. Second, being a singles hitter and on-base guy, my hitting can go somewhat unnoticed compared to players who routinely hit doubles or homeruns. In fact, that's what happened here. He himself is one of those guys who can pretty much hit a double or homerun almost anytime he wants and hit a walkoff homerun in our extra inning game for the win, so he's used to heroics. He only found out how well I hit because I mentioned my average (.722) on Facebook. And third, my role on the team is to play solid defense and get on base. So this was some validation, which we all can use from time to time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Very busy weekend

What a busy, busy weekend that really started Thursday with golf with Billy the Bear. Friday morning, Ricardo and I had a networking meeting with a local accounting firm and then headed south to Joliet for some NASCAR racing!

I've never been to a car race, but after being invited by the very fun Punke (pronounced Punk-ee) family, I could hardly resist. The Punke's sit next to me at the Bears game so they are used to my rowdiness and I theirs. Not only did they have an RV, they had 5 spots, a bus and a tent! If you do happen to watch a race down there, you'll see a red and white tent in the camera shots of the cars as they come out of turn two. That's their tent!!

Now for the pics!

The tent set up.

Inside the tent (Hi Dougie Jr!) and the bus.

This is how close we were to the cars. Yes, it was loud. Yes, I wore earplugs. Yes I had a great time!

Saturday was a softball tournament up in Crystal Lake AND the happy six month dating anniversary of LL and me. The tournament was on what I think are the best fields in the state. They are artificially surfaced on the infield with little rubber pellets that acts as dirt. Sliding and diving are painfree and the ball takes very true hops. It's a real pleasure to play there.

The tournament combined teams from a level above us, our level and a level below us. If you played teams on a different level, you either received or gave runs, depending on if you were a higher level team or not. Our first game was at 3 on Saturday, so we were able to sleep in. We won against a team a level below us, 12-2. I was 4-4 including knocking in the game ending run in the 6th when we went up by 10 (a slaughter rule). That earned us a break until 7 against a team one level above us. Though I was only 1-4, we beat them 7-3 (they had to give us 3 runs so we really beat them 4-3). The team played pretty solid defense all weekend and our pitcher did a great job as well.

The victory earned us a late start on Sunday, noon, against another team one level below us who had beaten us last year, but didn't have to move up at the end of the year like we did. We took the game into extra innings (having had to give them 3 runs) after we made our third out in the bottom of the last inning with the bases loaded. We held them scoreless in the top of the 8th and with the scored still tied at 8-8 in the bottom of the 8th, our stud shortstop jacked one to make the final score 11-8. Again I went 4-4 and again, all singles.

The next game was against a team a level above us and the team which I think won it all. They gave us 3 runs and we lost 7-6. It was a tough game for us hitting and I didn't help by only going 1-3, but at least I hit the ball hard.

Our last game was against a team at our level and though we lost 14-6, I was 3 for 3 to finish the tournament at 13-18, a .722 clip. Pretty good. On Sunday I was 8 for 10, which is what you want to do on Sunday.

So we finished 5th overall out of 38 teams and one of our losses was to the eventual winner who plays a level above us. Can't really feel bad about that. We only had one sub on each day, something that will be different for the more important tournaments in August and September.

Saturday night, LL and I stayed at the O'Hare Hilton and went to dinner near there, so we were able to enjoy each other's company despite the tournament. LL was a trouper though, coming out to watch the second game on Saturday and all the games on Sunday. Yay!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, Friday. Whatever.

Yesterday afternoon (early evening really), I headed up to the nearby suburb of Glencoe to go golfing with Billy the Bear (pictured in the middle). Other than it happening to me (it is my blog after all), you wouldn't think it very special and barely worth blogging about, but you'd be wrong. While I've been in many different kinds of leagues (softball, bowling, volleyball, co-ed football, etc), I've never actually been in a golf league (though I did belong to a country club for two years and did play regularly....hmmmm, I guess I should count that). Now, Billy and I are certainly not in a league by any stretch, but he has taken it upon himself to schedule Thursday evening golf for the last month or so and I've been fortunate enough to join him twice.

Not only is it fun, but it has become part of my routine and I think I enjoy it better than just going randomly when I can. The course we play is one I would play anyway since it's pretty decent and costs less than $50 with a cart. The company is excellent of course, with Bill, Smitty sometimes and hopefully Ricardo at some point.

Though nearly retired as I am, I'm sure I wouldn't lead the charge to schedule something like this every week. That Billy does it is great and I feel fortunate to be included in the group. It is good fun and I'm looking forward to playing more the rest of the summer. A nice side benefit is that with the round being scheduled, I play at least once a week. That means I'm actually practicing too and getting repititions in which leads me to playing better. Finally yesterday I started actually hitting some putts with the new putter I bought in the Spring. Three or four holes I drained my putt or a decent second putt and at least twice I had putts "lip out" (where the ball starts to dip into the cup and then rolls around the edge, changing direction and doesn't fall).

So kudos to Billy the Bear!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Just a little somethin' somethin'.

It's another late night for me, so another short entry. You can thank me later.

A few weeks ago, I put the challenge to Lovely Laura to find Tommy Bahama wear at Marshall's like I found at Nordstrom's semi-annual Men's Sale. Well, find it she did. A nice, black linen TB shirt. Well done and I stand corrected.

On the way back from my parent's place in northern Michigan, we stopped at a small town, Tustin, to get some beef jerky at Powell's, a store my parent's had found (somehow). They have six flavors of jerky, all for $17 a pound, which is still significantly cheaper than what you buy it for in the bags at the store (over $20 a pound). Plus it's wayyyyyyy better. Awesome in fact. So if you're in the area (just south of Cadillac) stop in and get some!!

Finally, fellow-Podolny-ite, Santa Fe Craig, was in town the other week and we hit a great restaurant, Erie Cafe for dinner. Since I had steak the night before, I opted for veal, though they are known pretty much for their steak. However, if you go, make sure to get the grilled calamari appetizer....just freaking awesome.

Ricardo and Santa Fe Craig.....yeah, not the best picture...I know.

Craig and his prime rib.....Holy Shit!! Look at the size of that portion!!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Back to the present

Not sure why this didn't post yesterday as scheduled. Damn Blogspot.

A lot more happened the last two weeks, but I think I hit on most of the highlights. So instead of boring you with the past, here's some stuff from today:

All three pictures are from the same Methodist church which I passed on my way to get lunch. A "stop and smell the roses" moment.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Soooooo much to catch up on!!

My Lord am I behind in my blogging. Traveling 9 out of the last 12 days will do that to you. Let's back up first and then try to catch up.

First up, the Gay Pride Parade. Joisey Ken always talks about how he wants to come in for the parade and that he would do anything to march in it, but I don't have any ties in the gay parade world, so Ken hasn't made it out. Maybe next year Ken!

The parade was a week ago Sunday, so that tells you how far behind I am in blogging.

Yeah, there was a crowd. I heard close to 500,000. This pic is of "Dykes on Bikes". Always a hit at the parade...and loud.

The gay bars in the hood were insane. This year the parade folks put up railings all along the route to keep the crowds out of the street. One drunk lesbian gets run over by a float and they go overboard on security.

Not many attractive lesbians for my teammates to see and only one, that I saw, that was topless. Not a good showing from the lesbian crowd.

Crazy looking boots here though.

And I thought this was funny.

With any party, there is excess. This dude broke down early. Another woman was crying hysterically on my block. After some calming words, I found out she didn't have her asthma inhaler and was having an attack and just wanted to leave. Unfortunately, with the gates up, you couldn't cross the parade route to get to where her friends could drive and get her. Fortunately, the parade ended shortly thereafter and I told her to go west and have her friends meet her there. There's always drama.

And you always have a mess with a party. This is a mattress in the middle of the street outside my Starbucks. Not good. Next morning, all the garbage was gone. Everything just needed a good raining on to clean it.

So that was the first of three days at home, before I headed back north to Michigan. After spending the evening with my folks, I hit the links Thursday morning. The course I normally play, Treetops, raised their rates to $145!! Who increases their fees during a recession? When I played there earlier this year, it was part of a package and the two night stay plus four rounds of golf on various courses cost less than $300. Significantly cheaper.

So this time I went to play The Chief, near the Shanty Creek Resort if you know where that is.

Each hole had a nice rock indicating the yardage, but there were no signs showing the layout of the hole. If not for the guys playing in my group, on many holes, I wouldn't have known where to hit the ball, sometimes even generally which direction!!

Of course, fog like this didn't help!! Granted, only a few of the holes were like this one. Most were clear, but a damp mist fell the entire round. I was able to find my drive on this hole!!

After golf, I headed to Higgins Lake, about 40 minutes from my folks place, and spent the night there with Lovely Laura and her family (mother, father, sister, brother and his family). The weather was that week was the worst they've experienced in their 30 years of going to the lake. With the weather so miserable, you basically had to stay inside all day and night. The cabin was not nearly big enough and didn't have nearly enough distractions (read tv's and computers) to make that anywhere near enjoyable in my opinion. LL and her family survived, but when the weather was again lousy on Friday, they opted to pack up and head home.

We left to spend the afternoon and night with my folks on Friday. Saturday we started the trip home by driving several hours down to Grand Rapids. In GR is my buddy's bar and we also got tickets to see the Western Michigan Whitecaps, one of the Detroit Tigers A league teams. This crazy chick was sitting directly in front of our second row seats, right by the dugout. Her name is Whitecap Wendy and she wears a shirt saying so. She also mentioned that she lives in the basement (apparently still with her parents??) and can't afford cable, but has a really nice camera and goes to almost all the Whitecap games. Very, very odd. She was born in Flint, which explains a lot.

After the game, it was fireworks!! It WAS the Fourth of July after all. Hanging around to see the stadium's fireworks meant that we would miss downtown GR's fireworks shows. No big deal, they should be comparable right? Nope. It's Amway's 50th anniversary and they started in GR so they sponsored the fireworks show which was tremendous. Yes, we did get to see about half of it still as we drove to our hotel and then from our hotel room itself. Very nice.

John and Kim (I think) our bartenders for the day (and night). Good folks.

We had brunch at the bar, Hopcat, on Sunday before heading home. Kim makes a great bloody mary and the food was really quite good. Afterwards though, we drove hope, made a quick pitstop at home and then headed out to Ribfest in Naperville. Yes, this was the fifth straight day of driving and traveling and yes it was a bit hectic. It was also fun though and nice to relax at Ribfest.

After reading my reviews from the past few years, we opted for Fast Freddy's ribs. An EXCELLENT choice to start with. Plus they only charged me for half a slab ($12) instead of a full slab ($20). Nice! Then we had a full slab of Desperado's ribs with both the sweety sauce and original. I'd have to recommend the original sauce for next year.

Huey Lewis and the News played starting at 8:30, which gave us two hours of eating and drinking in anticipation of the start. When that time came, Huey just started singing. No "Hello Naperville!!" or anything. AND he didn't even start with one of his original songs! He covered The Drifters 1961 hit, Some Kind of Wonderful. Good song, but what about all of his original songs?? Sure, he sung it on his 1994 album Four Chords and Several Years ago, but he's certainly not known for it. I didn't even know what the second song was that he sang. He did sing: Do you believe in Love, Workin' for a living, The Heart of Rock and Roll, Heart and Soul, I want a new drug, If this is it, Jacob's Ladder, Stuck on you, and Hip to be Square, among some others. Good stuff. Oh, and it was Huey's birthday!

Finally we drove home and hit the sack. It was nice to finally sleep in my own bed!!