Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Step Up Foodies and Family members

LL was over tonight after she went to Whole Paycheck to pickup some dinner for me to cook (which I had offered to do). At the end of the evening when I was putting things into the dishwasher, she said "Maybe you should clean your spoon rest." Spoon rest? What the hell's a spoon rest? Oh, that thing. That's's it called? "A spoon rest." No it isn't. It's a....a.....errr...c'mon.... Wait, I'm going to call my folks. They'll know what it's called.

After a brief description to my father, who relayed it to my mother, they both responded, "Spoon rest." NO!!! It's called something else. WTH!!!

So now I'm in search of another name for spoon rests and even Googled "spoon rest AKA", but came up with nothing. Help me out people. What's another name for it?

On a completely unrelated note, some time ago I installed a site tracker on my blog that allows me to see general info about people visiting the site. Though I can't see who is reading, I do get the city, duration and also how people found my site. Here are some recent phrases that led people to my blog:

Rainbow afro guy (as well as "wig" guy and John 3:16 guy) (over 30 in the last two months!)
Bears in the shower
Full court french press
Joe a palooza
Derivation of Towhead

Interesting. I didn't know there was such an interest in Rollen Stewart. And I REALLY want to know why someone is searching on "bears in the shower".

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To Olympic or to not Olympic?

Can I tell you how happy I am that the network shows are back on the air for the new season? Hanging out at home on the sofa, with the new carpeting on the floor and a slight chill in the air while watching three or four Tivoed shows. Good stuff.

So what do you people think about the Olympics coming to Chicago? For it? Against it? Originally I was VERY much against it. With the corruption in Chicago, there doesn't seem to be anyway we could pull off the Olympics without a massive tax hike. Many of the Olympics over the last 30+ years required the host city to go into massive debt. That said, the 1984 Summer Olympics is considered the most financially successful of the modern era. So maybe we could pull it off without huge debts.

And the Australian Olympics attracted 45 new companies to the area holding the Olympics. That means employment. Not to mention the use of existing services and companies. I'm starting to think that maybe getting the Olympics wouldn't be a bad thing. Maybe......

Monday, September 28, 2009

Worth watching

Instead of reading my blog, watch this short video clip. It's Anderson Cooper with two short completely unrelated videos. Good stuff.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The leaves, they are a'falling.

Though the leaves have been coming down in dribs and drabs, today the wind was blowing a little bit and I became acutely aware of how many leaves were out in the street and on the sidewalk. Of course that means cooler temps are right around the corner....something I'm not too excited about. The start of football season and end of baseball season probably should have been indicators as well. It's just not a fun time of year for someone who loves to play softball and golf.

So what to do? Well, plan a trip to Mexico!! And so I have. LL and I are going to head to Akumal for a week in October and enjoy one last bit of fun and sun. There's also a chance that I might push off the surgery for another week and go to Vegas with the softball team for a Fall/Winter world series in early November. Plus I have three golf outings left this year, so there's still fun to be had!!

After running the 5k yesterday and hanging with LL's family, I was a bit tired today and mostly hung out around the house. My church was having their Oktoberfest though, so I did go have lunch there. With the Bears playing, I headed out to meet JC at a bar to watch the first half. The game was too close, so I came home to watch the rest of the game with my trusty Tivo for rewinding plays. The Bears won, so it's all good.

Out on Broadway, the area was putting on an art festival of sorts. The only real thing of interest to me was how a landscaper opted to landscape both sides of the street. All of her work is in the actual street. She didn't go up on the sidewalk at all. Pictures are below. Pretty cool!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Losing sucks!

In brief, we went 0-2 in Sterling Heights Michigan, losing on Thursday (17-9) to a team from Battle Creek and then again on Friday in extra innings 5-4 to a team from Houston. Personally I only had four at bats, which kinds of sucks when you play all year to get to this point. Though I had one hit, I had two RBI's, including one of our four in game two.

Why did we play so poorly? Well, in our first game we just swung at the first pitch WAYYY too many times and refused to work the count into our favor. Then the other team just hit the piss out of the ball. In the second game we were better at taking pitches and obviously the game was close since we went into extra innings, but it ended up being two big double plays that killed us. The second one happened in the last inning when we had the first two batters on via the walk. The next guy hit a line drive which the pitcher got a glove on, but didn't catch. The guy on first fell down trying to get back to first thinking the pitcher caught it initially. The second baseman got the out at first and then there was a run down between first and second on the runner who fell. Ugh. So with a runner on third, two outs and probably our best hitter up, we still had a chance. Unfortunately he flew out at that was it.

So I drove home Friday night and joined LL and her family as they ran in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a 5k to benefit breast cancer research. I actually ran, despite not having actually run any distance in recent memory and having a typical traveling dinner of two McDonalds hamburgers and an iced coffee. Not the best pre-game running meal. For exercise, normally I use the elipitical machine, which is good exercise, but isn't running. The first mile and a half was ok, then the next mile was tough and the last 1/2 mile plus I ran pretty quickly.

LL's crew was a top 5 per capita fundraiser and even got mentioned at the podium at the start of the race. Cool!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Magic......just an illusion

Turn an egg into a dove. Pull a rabbit out of a hat. Turn a 5 hour drive into a 10 hour drive. No, not quite the same, but still quite a feat. Somehow I managed to pull off the later on my drive to Detroit on Wednesday.

Everything was going well in the morning: all packed, car ready, coffee in hand, already ate lunch, full tank of gas. Good to go. But I was a bit warm and I had athletic pants on, so I decided to stop at the already locked up condo and change into shorts. Ran inside, changed, brought the pants with me to the car and took off.

Normally I'll stop an hour or so into my trip (usually once away from the city) to get gas, go to the bathroom, get food, get something to drink, whatever. But this time I was all set and wanted to get to Detroit in time to hit some batting cages for some extra swings. During the trip I called Joisey Ken and Lovely Laura and all was good. Finally, because I was making great time, I decided to stop in Battle Creek Michigan and safely check email and such instead of doing it in the car.

At this point I was about 2 1/2 hours into the trip, about half way. There's a Starbucks just off the highway and I can get 2-3 hours of free internet there with a registered Starbucks card, so that's a fine place to stop. So I start to get out and quickly surmise that I can't find my wallet. When did I have it last? When I stopped at Starbucks before the trip just before changing into shorts. Well, it's probably in my athletic pants still. Pop the trunk, open the wallet. Check the floor and side doors of the wallet. It was still on my table in the condo, 2 1/2 hours behind me. Unbelievable.

A decision has to be made: drive 2 1/2 hours FORWARD towards Detroit and then 5 hours home without a license, credit card or AAA card, or drive back home and get the wallet. I opted for the latter. After 5 hours of driving though, I needed a break and it was now 7 o'clock, so I grabbed some dinner, LL came over and we watched two sitcoms. It was a one hour break that was much needed. Back on the road at 8 which put me into Detroit at 2:20 in the a.m. Ugh. We didn't have practice until 9 though and the game wasn't until 11:30, so I had plenty of time to wake-up.

After our loss though (did I forget to mention we lost 17-9?), we grabbed lunch, a few drinks and I showered and took a nice nap. We're back at it on Friday at 3:30 with another game Friday night if we win. Hopefully we can string a few wins together now and make a good run.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sorry, sooo busy!!

Hi all. Very busy with work prior to heading to Detroit for a softball tournament....really THE tournament, 192 teams from around the country. Busy, busy, busy!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How I love to be wrong

Da Bearrrrrssssss!! Yes, my Chicago Bears knocked off the Super Bowl Champion Steelers today, 17-14 in an awesome game to be at....probably top 5 for the new Soldier Field, all things considered.

3:15 start time for games is just great as it allows tailgaters to party for 4 hours before the game without getting up at the crack of dawn (the problem with noon starts) and party in the lots afterwards as well without getting home at midnight (the problem with 7:00 starts).

Today, LL and I hooked up with the guys who sit in front of us (Gar, D, Neil and Russel) and we drove in right behind each other so we could park next to each other for the tailgate. We put our tables out in a long row with our grills on either side, forming a nice box in which we could relax and eat and drink without being interrupted by people walking by. Good stuff.

The menu included: guacamole, bacon wrapped shrimp, bacon wrapped figs, grilled corn on the cob, some crazy Indian sandwich with meat that Russel brought (very tasty) and butterfly pork chop sandwiches. We were stuffed come game time.

Once inside the stadium, my buddy and his father (Lopes and dad Lopes) sat right next to us, out of the rain by the way, and we had a good ol'time hooping and hollering with every play. Granted, when Pittsburgh was geting 9 and 10 yards at a time on their first drive, we were pretty unhappy, but gradually we came around and cheered more than jeered.

Northwestern Jeff and his wife Beth had my seats across the way and enjoyed their trip to the stadium. Smitty was golfing earlier with Bill the Bear, so they got to the stadium just before the game and were hoping to tailgate afterwards. Unfortunately the wet weather put a damper on the post game tailgate, though I did fire up the grill during a dry spell. Good times!!

I had predicted an 0-2 start for the Bears and am ecstatic to be wrong!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Busy Friday and early Saturday

Tomorrow brings an early call for softball down in Kankakee, so here's how I ended the night tonight.

Front row of the Sox game. It was the "Half-Way to St. Patrick's Day" game and they gave out green hats and had green beer for sale. Good fun.

Left center field, front row. Very nice seats.

Me and LL taken with my phone. Not bad!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

All over the board today

A busy weekend lies before me with a Sox game on Friday night (first row outfield), softball in Kankakee on Saturday and then the Bears home opener on Sunday. Come Monday, I'm going to be ready for a break. Unfortunately, I only have Monday and Tuesday to work before having to drive on Wednesday to Detroit, sans LL, for a softball tournament that could begin on Thursday morning.

The tournament next week is the biggee for the year: 192 teams from around the country. An event worthy of the World Series title which it dons. Last year we played in the World Series in Florida and went 3-2. We hope to do MUCH better this year. A lot of it depends on the draw though, if you get a top 5 team, it's a much harder to advence than if you get a bottom 5 team. We're excited though after our success in St. Louis.

From a CNBC article: Here's the entire list from sales on from the NFL's first four months of the fiscal year.
1. Brett Favre, Vikings new team
2. Jay Cutler, Bears new team
3. Troy Polamalu, Steelers Super Bowl
4. Michael Vick, Eagles new team
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Super Bowl
6. Tony Romo, Cowboys
7. Mark Sanchez, Jets new team
8. Tom Brady, Patriots
9. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
10. Eli Manning, Giants
11. Terrell Owens, Bills new team
12. Peyton Manning, Colts
13. Hines Ward, Steelers Super Bowl
14. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
15. Jason Witten, Cowboys

So why would I reprint this list? It's just interesting to note that it's not necessarily popularity of a player or how good they are that determines new sales. This stemmed from a conversation with LL today. Three of the top four and four of the top seven have switched teams or are new to the league, so if you want to support them, you need a new jersey! The other two in the top five played for the Super Bowl winners. Interesting.

Finally, I saw this recall notice pinned to a board at Menard's (regional hardware store).

You really need to blow this up and read it. How much suction is really created that can cause you to be trapped in the tub?? I can't imagine how much suction would be required to trap me in a tub, but it would have to be industrial strength suction I'm thinking.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Maybe I shouldn't golf when healthy

First, have to give props to Anonymous for finding the origins of the picture in this post of mine. Check out their comment and link. Good stuff.

Next, sorry about missing my post yesterday. While I thought I was going to have time to post, I did not. In the evening, I had two softball games and I didn't get done PLAYING until 11:30 and the fields are at least 45 minutes away. Of course after playing at 3 in the morning, this should have been a piece of cake. We split the games in the double elimination summer league playoffs, so we go back next week too.

Today was a gorgeous day, which was convenient because I had a golf outing set up at a course called Waters Edge with Jumpin' Joe and Auditor John and a new guy. Did I take a picture? Nope. But it was fantastic weather. Mind you, my knot behind my left shoulder is still present and painful (how did I play softball last night? I have no idea.) and my right shoulder tears obviously haven't healed. Yet on the back nine I shot a 36 with three birdies. Pretty damn good, especially given my physical issues!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Short but sweet

First, I corrected my entry on the Bears schedule which should have come out to 10-6, not 9-7. Without Urlacher now though, we might be hard pressed to get to 8-8.

Saturday afternoon I hit the gym and I think I strained something in my left should/neck/upper back as it hurt all day yesterday and today as well. Despite massive amounts of ibuprofen, it's still tough to turn my head in either direction, so I'm a little bit cranky today.

Friday night, after the rooftop event, LL and I entertained Ricardo and Mrs. Ricardo. We had some booze and I set out: cheese with crackers, skewered/grilled pesto shrimp, grilled corn on the cob, rice pilaf, grilled prime ribeye steaks and grilled pork chops. We topped it off with a French Silk pie that LL picked up at Bakers Square. Very tasty. We had nice conversation too and Ricardo was able to see my place, which I realized he hadn't seen in at least a year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Double-Stuff Sunday

Even though I made my Bear predictions earlier today, I wanted to make another entry for the weekend.

On Friday I had to head into the office to do some stuff there and finished up pretty quickly (Ricardo was at a client). On my way home, there's a trolley stalled in the middle of Halsted, just a block north of my office. The trolley stalled just south of Division, which, if you know the area, is right next to Cabrini Green (not a good neighborhood). After I pass the trolley, I see a bunch of people standing on the corner trying to hail cabs. They were all in business attire; khaki pants and mostly in blue, button down oxfords.

It didn't take much to figure out that these folks had been on the trolley as it's not a real "walking" neighborhood and there isn't much call for that many people to be dressed like that there.

So I pulled over and asked if they were on the trolley. "Yeah, it just broke down in the middle of the road."
"Where are you headed?", I asked.
"To the game."
"Well, I live up that way and can take four of you if you want."
After some hemming and hawing, four people jumped in to my Camry. The eldest guy sat up front and expressed their gratitude. As we drove along, we introduced ourselves and talked about our businesses. When they found I used to be the CFO at Morningstar, I was their best buddy. One of them worked for a financial printer, Bowne, and the other worked for a middle market private equity group.

When we got by Wrigley, they asked for my business card and invited me up to the rooftop which they were attending. I had errands to run (I was cooking dinner for LL, Ricardo and Ricardo's wife that night), but said I might stop by later.

After completing my errands, I decided, what the hell, and headed over to the rooftop building on Sheffield. One of the guys came down to meet me and introduced me to everyone as "this is the guy I told you about who rescued us!" I was almost royalty: free beer, free food and good converastion. Karma didn't screw me for once!!

Bears Schedule Review

Time to go through the Bears schedule and make my prediction for their record for the year.

at Green Bay Unfortunately, a Loss most likely
Pittsburgh I don't like starting 0-2, but they are good.
at Seattle Need to have the W.
Detroit They're not that much better. Win. 2-2.
at Atlanta Tough game in a dome. Probably a loss.
at Cincinnati Back on track with a W to go 3-3
Cleveland Two in a row gets us to 4-3.
Arizona Last year was a fluke. 5-3 now.
at San Francisco Short week, but a W. 6-3.
Philadelphia We're on a roll and feeling good. Iffy game. 6-4.
at Minnesota Tough to beat them on the road. 6-5.
St. Louis Cake walk. 7-5.
Green Bay We can beat them at home 8-5.
at Baltimore Tough, tough defense and on the road. 8-6.
Minnesota Can we beat them at home this late in the season? It means more to us 9-6.
at Detroit For the playoffs, 10-6.

Games that could go in our favor: opener at GB, Steelers at home without Polamalu gives us a shot, the Philly game could go our way. I think they are overrated.

(Author's note: I miss added these when I went through the first time and had us at 9-7. It should have been 10-6.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Coolie Hats

Fog wasn't limited to St. Louis over the weekend. When we left on Friday, we snapped these pictures below as we approached downtown along LSD.

Look at that wall of fog!! We couldn't see any buildings from this stoplight at Chicago Ave.

Just a few blocks further though, the fog started to clear.

And then down in Grant Park, the fog was gone. Crazy.

On the way to St. Louis, we passed Pekin, Illinois, at which time LL noted that her father said a school there used to be called the Pekin Chinks. "Shananigans!!" I yelled. However, according to the all knowing source of knowledge, Wikipedia, he was right. Unbeliveable that it didn't change until 1983. And WHO let's their high school student body decide on what the school name should be? They are lucky it didn't end up being the "Retards" or "Pot Smokers". What dopes.....pardon the pun.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A little more softball

There's so much to write about when you have an entire weekend with 15 guys and 4-6 girlfriends/wives traveling together.

The trip down to St. Louis was uneventful, but we arrived at our hotel to awful disappointment. We were staying at a Super 8, which we've stayed at the chain before without a problem, because that's what our sponsor booked. We were welcomed by Najam, the surly Indian counter guy to start off our Super 8 adventure. You weren't going to get much out of this guy that was going to be helpful. After passing: a goncha-smoke-filled stairwell, several seemingly homeless people and sticky carpet (yes, carpet), we made it to our room. As it turns out we had one of the nicer ones and it was pretty awful. I should have taken pictures, but I was too focused on getting us out of that hotel and into a new one.

While it wasn't necessarily "my job" to get us out of there, I think the team manager isn't quite comfortable with how to interact with the sponsor all the time (which I am) so I was on the horn pretty quickly. Since it was already almost 7, we stayed there one night and had reservations at a Holiday Inn Express for the rest of the weekend. Those rooms were palacial in comparison.

As it turns out, this was one of the most important things for the entire weekend as a day long rain delay meant that we were at the hotel most of the day on Saturday. The lounge area off the lobby was often filled with Brewdogs playing cards or some form of drinking game. The swimming pool allowed for a small distraction as well.

Unfortunately, after playing 9 games, I have no idea how well/poorly I hit. Though I hit a few balls hard in the first game, after two games I was only 4 out of 8. Not awful, but not great. If just one of those hard hits got through, I would have been 5-8 and things would be cheery. Well, we'll see how the stats turn out.

Because of the rain and fog delays, in addition to playing all night, Monday's games in the loser's bracket (teams who have lost one game, but not two) were playing what's called "one pitch" rules. It works like this, the pitcher throws the ball and if it's a strike and you don't swing, you're out. If it's a ball, you walk to first. Otherwise you hit it and see what happens. Games under this format go about 25% faster, so they could fit more games in compared to the rules being used in the winner's bracket (which were already playing revised rules to speed up play). The game moves really quickly while you're hitting and that's part of why I don't really remember how well I did personally.

In one of our one pitch games, we faced our local rivalry called "Fury". In the bottom of the second, they were up 10-1 on us having scored 6 and then 4 runs. But we had the best half inning of the weekend in the bottom of the second and batted 16 consecutive batters without making an out and scored 15 runs (I got on twice that inning). We ended up winning 20-10, I believe.

My arm still feels like it's hanging on by a thread, but the rest of my body is relatively pain free. Yay!!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

House of Rain and Fog (St. Louis style)

Before I launch into a more detailed synopsis of the weekend and because I'm still pretty exhausted and running behind schedule, I thought I'd shoot everyone a relatively quick summary.

Saturday was completely rained out, so LL and I lounged around the hotel room, swam, found a place for ribs and generally relaxed. The tournament gave an update at noon and then at 6 as to whether they were going to play or not, so we couldn't do anything elaborate since we didn't know if we were going to play in short order or not at all. It turned out to be not at all on Saturday.

Sunday morning though, we were off and running, so we thought. Another delay while final prep work to the fields took place. We played at 11 finally though and won. Then played at 5 and won again, earning us the right to play at 3 a.m. Yeah, amazing. They had games going ALL NIGHT LONG. Every hour on the hour, four games.

Have you ever gotten up at 3 or 4 in the morning because you were traveling out of the country or driving somewhere with your parents on a car trip or something? Remember that feeling? That's how I felt and then we had to go play a softball game. Strangely, I was 3-4 in that game with some big two out, RBI hits. I barely remember being awake.

That allowed us to get a few hours of sleep and be back for a 9 a.m. game, or so we thought. It turns out that fog rolled in and delayed games further. We ended up playing 7 games on Monday with 6 of them back to back and we finished in third place out of 58 teams. Though called a "National" tournament, it was really a Midwest regional event. Teams were from Minnesota (there were several teams from MN, but the team we beat were whiners, so we were happy to beat them), Illinois (we were the highest finishing team from our State), Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The two teams that finished ahead of us both hailed from the St. Louis area.

The five hour drive home was a bit of a bear on top of playing all of those games. It made for a long evening. More to come and hopefully some pictures!!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Some rain in St. Louis

For the first time in about three months apparently, it rained a ton down here on Saturday. Pretty much all day in fact. No softball games at all were played, so they've now crammed the 58 team tournament into two days: Sunday and Monday. So we played at 11 this morning and then again at 5 after we won. We won at 5 as well, so now we play at 3 a.m.!! Yes, 3 a.m.!! I'm not even sure when to eat and when to sleep if at all. If we win at 3, we play again at 9 a.m. It could be a long day.....let's hope!

Thursday, September 03, 2009


It was the final preseason game for the Bears today and my final chance to prepare something new before the regular season tailgating starts. The game was fun to watch, 26-23 Bears, even though the starters didn't play much at all. Other players are trying to make the team, so that was interesting.

As far as the grilling goes, I cooked some corn in the husk for the first time while tailgating. It turned out really good!! Benny Baseball's gal, brought the corn and had soaked it in water all morning. She was going to get it from a relatives farm and it was going to be sweet corn, but she missed the window and they ran out. What she brought was fine though. Good stuff.

Now I need to hit the sack before driving to St. Louis tomorrow for the USSSA Nationals. These fields are probably the best grass fields in the Midwest. The team is looking forward to playing there again. It's been a few years since we last had to go down there.

Hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend!!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Too tired to write tonight

Wednesday night was my fantasy football draft and after cleaning up and everything, it was late. A good time was had by all, but I'm exhausted!!

Mr. One Arm

Out of the blue today I decided to try some things with just my left hand, since after surgery I'll be in a sling for six weeks. It was pretty frustrating, let me tell you. I was in the shower before I thought of undertaking the exercise and even do that was difficult. Getting shampoo out of the bottle with one hand was tough. Lathering under my left arm was basically impossible. Drying off was no piece of cake either. Ugh. It's going to be a tough six weeks.

Very busy this week with softball Tuesday, fantasy football draft on Wednesday, Bears game on Thursday then we drive to St. Louis on Friday for a weekend softball tournament, one of the biggest of the year. All of this while LL is moving apartments. It's going to be a busy few days.