Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brown Deluge

Kind of a gross sounding title huh? Brown deluge. Yikes. No flooding, don't worry. Nope, it's regarding the Bears/Browns game on Sunday at noon. As of now, it's looking like there will be something along the lines of 13+ people at my tailgate! Yikes again!!! So what am I going to cook for all of these folks?

Well, I'm thinking about starting with the traditional breakfast sandwiches and sausage links instead of patties. Then I think we'll ease into some bacon wrapped products....shrimp, water chestnuts and maybe figs. Not sure if I'll break out the chili then or go with meat sandwich products of some sort: burgers, cheddar brats and/or sausages. Some sort of pork sandwich or chicken nuggets are an option too.

It should be good fun, despite the numerous Browns fans! Not too happy about possibly being outnumbered at my own tailgate!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Post Vacation Stress Syndrome

Been so busy trying to catch up with work and things this week. It makes me wonder if vacations are worth it at all!! Then I remember the nice time I had down in Mexico and realize I'm being silly. However, it has been pretty stressful and finally today I was able to make it to the gym for the first time. After 10 days of not working out and some type of flu-like disease though, my workout was lethargic at best. Still, it wasn't awful.

Anyway, so I'm a bit stressed and tired and staying up until midnight tonight isn't helping!

After my trip to the gym, I made tacos for dinner for LL and myself. Good stuff that hit the spot.

For Bears fans, Omiyale has finally been benched for Beekman!!! That over paid jack-ass is done being a turnstyle at left guard for now. It was the classic situation where the GM didn't want to be shown up for making what turned out to be a bad offseason move. Beekman started all 16 games for us last year with no problems. Omiyale gets the big contract, so the coach feels like he HAS to start him. He does for 5 games and the guy is awful. Thankfully they pulled the trigger this quickly.

If you recall, I had the Bears starting at 3-3 and ending up at 10-6. So they are 3-3, but some games left on the schedule are looking a bit more difficult for us and if we ended up 8-8, it wouldn't be a huge surprise.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A little more Mexico

Ahh, now THAT'S the kind of deal worthy of a sale sign. Same product that was only $.16 off last week. Ha! Maybe Jewel reads my blog too.

A little more about the trip to Mexico. The lagoon at which we snorkeled on Saturday is called the Yal-Ku Lagoon. The water was very calm and the fresh water/salt water mixture was pretty cool to be snorkeling through. You could really feel the cooler fresh water springs as you swam over them.

Sunday morning, when we left Mexico, was a little crazy. First, Mexico fell back an hour Saturday night at midnight. Unfortunately, our Apple representative told us to move our clocks FORWARD an hour. Fortunately I thought about it and realized he's a dope.

Though our flight didn't leave until 9:30, the same Apple rep (Arturo H.) told us we had to be in the lobby at 4:30!! There were only 5 of us going from the resort in a van, no stops at other resorts and the trip to the airport only takes 70 minutes. I was livid , but couldn't find Arturo in person or by phone. Fortunately for him, he called while I was in the shower and the much calmer LL spoke with him.

So this van picks us up and we go to get the other three people in a different lobby and they are all screwed up (also because of Arturo) so we're delayed 20 minutes. Even so, we got to the airport by 6:15. The trip to the airport was not without incident either though. The van driver kept falling asleep!!! He was drifting all over the road and then would almost come to a stop as his foot came off the peddle and then he'd speed up again as he woke up. LL was pretty freaked out by it, but he was doing a surprisingly good job and keeping the van between the lines, so I was intrigued. Then he called someone to help himself stay awake.

That part of the trip ticked me off though, so now I'm filing a complaint with Apple. We'll see how it goes.

Finally, here are some pictures I took with my underwater camera. Not bad for a $25 camera!

Monday, October 26, 2009


So much to talk about for the week, but I'll try to hit the highlights.

We left by limo at 4 a.m. on Sunday. Did you know that limos are 30% more before 4 a.m.? Flight was at 6 and we made it to O'Hare in about 20-25 minutes. The limo was actually 10 minutes early, so we were all good (he didn't charge us more).

Arrived at the NEW Cancun airport: air conditioned, more booths to check your passport, just a much smoother, nicer process. Two hours after landing we were at the hotel, the Gran Bahia Principie in Akumal (about 75 minutes south of Cancun).

Here's our villa. We were on the second floor on the right end. We agreed that it's the best villa on the nearly mile long resort grounds. Though there isn't a beach right outside our villa, there is the ocean. I think they ended the property here because the beach becomes large rocks, which of course means no tourists! Nice. It's very quiet and away from the main pool areas.

Our room from the porch looking in. You can see our towel origami, a new one of which was presented every day.

The rocky area outside our room. See those waves? It was pretty windy most of the trip while right at the beach. They made nice background noise for sleeping!

Here's the view out our porch. Notice the lack of people? Eggscellent.

Part of the actual beach where we would sit when not at the pool.

Typically we would get down to breakfast by around 9:30 or so. Often we didn't eat lunch, but would still have dinner at a relatively normal time somewhere between 6:30 and 9. Part of the reason for no lunch is the amount of food we would eat at breakfast and then we'd be sitting around the pool have mojito's or something all afternoon. Still, I went to an all inclusive for a week and lost 4 pounds. Very odd. And I drank LOTS of water.

On Tuesday night, after two days just like the above description, we had dinner and decided to do some tequila shots.

Outside of the restaurants are seven bottles of flavored tequilas with salt, limes and shoot glasses. So we tried three flavors: strawberry, lemon and coconut, by doing just half shots of each. Unfortunately, that led to my worst bout of heartburn in the last two weeks. I barely slept at all on Tuesday night and that led into me feeling bad on Wednesday.

After breakfast on Wednesday, I headed back to the room for a nap and LL went down to the pool. Unfortunately, I was not just tired, but about to be sick too. A fever hit me hard and fast, a symptom of the H1N1 as I've recently discovered, so there I was under the covers with socks, sweat pants and two shirts on when LL came to check on me. That night, my fever broke and the Thursday I felt pretty good, but we took it easy anyway. Friday and Saturday I was back snorkeling: Friday in a cave and Saturday in mixed water lagoon where fresh and salt water met.

This is the dining room we ate in most of the time, or at least the ceiling of it.

This is one of the restaurants we ate in at night. There are three buffets, a 24 hour snack bar and at least 6 restaurants to choose from every day.

One of the lit up lobby areas. There are three of them which are all about this size. Below are the other two with LL in the pictures.

These fellas were a common sight, including one that would visit the pool area and scared the bejesus out of LL. In fact, this guy isn't far from the pool.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back in the City

Well, we're back from Mexico and there's much to write about and pictures to post. Since I've been up since 3:30 this morning though AND because the Bears were blown out, I'm exhausted and will leave you with this tremendous bargain I found at my local Jewel.

Yes, a savings of $.16 or 1.1%. Tough to pass up those kind of savings! That's a $1 item becoming a "Bonus Buy" at $.989. Swell.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Radio Silence

Next week, most likely, my posts will be limited to non-existant due to a trip to Mexico. Here's a link with some really cool photos of the area in which we'll be staying. There's even a beach cam! Here are some other pictures:

The resort from a distance. Pretty huge!

Ahhhh, down on the beach.

The sand is one of the things I remember from the beach on the Riveria Maya. So soft and fine.

Fortunately the Bears play Sunday night on national television, so I should be able to get that game and then we return in time to see the game against Cincinnati! Sweet.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In Denial

My heartburn was much better today thank-you-very-much. I'm not sure if it's the Prilosec starting to work or if it's that I'm taking various medication to reduce the acid and those actions alone are tempering the affliction or what. Regardless, I'm feeling much better!

So today I went golfing with a business associate from Albuquerque. We were the only two golfers on the course. We were sort of in denial about the weather and whether golf is appropriate or not when it's 44 degrees, some wind and drizzle.

Golfing with heartburn and my shoulder issues, seemed a bit odd too. More denial?

Hell, I'm delaying my shoulder surgery to play in one more tournament, despite the inevitable pain and discomfort. Definitely denial.

Even that I'm playing softball as a 43 year old "adult"with guys almost half my age, screams denial doesn't it?

If you're aware that you're in denial, are you in denial?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Heartburn update

Since my heartburn entered day four, I decided it was time to call a doctor. I've never really had heartburn before, which I guess is pretty fortunate. Still, it's a bit disconcerting since I feel like I'm a generally healthy person. The doctor doesn't think it's more than acid reflux, which is good, so I started a 14 day cycle of Priolosec, which is now OTC. It doesn't start working right away, so you have to take other medicine for immediate relief, but when it kicks in after a few days, it's supposed to work wonders. Here's hoping as my Mexico trip is coming up. How is my stomach going to react to all of that Mexican food and booze??

Today I bought phone and data plans for Mexico so that it's not sooooo expensive to get calls or texts and emails. Plus I won't have to bring my computer as I'll be able to access email through my phone.

Tonight at dinner I was able to tell and relive my Ernie Harwell stories. How our meeting came about and the second dinner this summer are two of the neatest things to have happened to me. Interestingly, during dinner, my heartburn didn't bother me at all. On the way home though, it kicked in again. Ugh.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Well that didn't work out

Busy day today starting with a meeting at 7 a.m. with the finance council at my church. Followed that up with two more meetings and then several conference calls and a fruitless trip to the bank to get a wire transfer completed. The bank was unbelievably un-helpful.

Anyway, it was almost 6 before I knew and LL was on her way over for dinner. So all you get today is another short entry. Hopefully I'll have more time tomorrow.

Briefly, I'm heading to Mexico soon. Not NEW Mexico, it's OLD Mexico. Very excited. The countdown is on.

Battling crazy-ass heartburn the last few days. I'm taking one of those pills that helps prevent it if you take it before a meal and also slurping down Mylanta. Though I'm not sure the cause, I fear that it's the food at a great new lunch place called FalaFill which serves, you guessed it, falafel. I've been eating it a lot recently since it opened, and I've noticed a correlation between the heartburn and the lunch trip. Tomorrow I'll test something different and see what happens.

Monday, October 12, 2009

More tomorrow

So busy with the upcoming vacation looming and a busy day of work tomorrow. I'll get y'all some interesting stuff to noodle tomorrow.

A little bit about Detroit: Did you know,

The unemployment rate in Detroit is 30%?

Functional illiteracy in Detroit is approaching 50%?

And most astonishingly to me, that the unsolved murder rate in Detroit is approaching 70%? Seriously, 70%! That's what you get when you fire the cops and the ones left can't read. (rim shot)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy Columbus Day!

Were you aware that Columbus Day celebrates his landing in America and not his birthday? Seems like something that I should have been aware of actually.

Today was the Chicago Marathon. Two years ago there was record heat and they had to cancel the race. Last year it was 85 by noon. Today, it was in the low 40's. WTF??

Friday we were supposed to be playing softball in Indianapolis, but it rained all day and the fields were unplayable. Since we pulled the first time slot in the blind draft, we had to play at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. It was cold, the sun was directly behind home plate and the field was in miserable shape. At least four guys wiped out running the basis in that first game. It was dangerous, but the tournament director didn't seem to care. Still, it was a close game until the sixth inning when we were down by 2. They had two outs and a couple of guys on when they hit a lazy looper to center. One of our best players jogged under it and just as he was making the catch, he lost it in the sun. By the time we got the third out, 8 runs had scored. Ugh. As Bartman was not to blame for the Cubs collapse in the NLDS in 2003, neither was our center fielder. There were many chances for people to make plays and get out of the inning, but we just couldn't make a play.

The weekend started off ok though as we were welcomed on the hotel lobby chalk board. Next to it was this map of Indianapolis. For some reason I thought it was cool.

As we entered the park, this welcomed us. Nice.

Our second game started at 4 and the fields were much better by then, but still had some puddles of water around them. Definitely more playable though. Unfortunately we only scored 5 runs in a 9-5 loss. Just an awful tournament for us. The little consolation I can take from it is that I was 3 for 3 in the first game and 2 for 3 in the second game for a robust .833 OBP. A small sample size, but still good. My defense was a bit shaky though.

Do you remember the Billy Joel song "We didn't start the fire"? Very fast paced song with a bunch of images and historical references. Check out the Wikipedia page on it for further information on all of the references made in the song. Pretty cool.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Bail Education

Through an unfortunate turn of events, my knowledge of which is very limited, a guy I know was arrested and is sitting inside a Will County prison. Bail was set, due to some prior indiscretions, at $75,000. His bail was confirmed today and he has a trial date set for a month from now.

So if I wanted to help him out, what could I do and how much would it cost? Obviously this isn't something I do every day. Per Wikipedia, "Bond agents generally charge a fee of 10-12% of the total amount of the bail required in order to post a bond for the amount. This fee is not refundable and represents the bond agent's compensation for his or her services. As the practice of paying a 10% cash premium for a bond became widespread, some courts have recently instituted a practice of accepting 10% of the bond amount in cash"

However, in Illinois, according to Wikipedia, "Four states—Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin—have completely banned commercial bail bonding, usually substituting the 10% cash deposit alternative described above." The alternative is the posting of 10% of the bail in cash with the court. The deposit is usually returned if the case is concluded without violation of the conditions of bail. So apparently, you can then get the cash back after the trial is over, regardless of the outcome, as long as the person being charged shows up for the court appearances.

As a basic tenet in life, I avoid doing anything that would lead me to being imprisoned. Sounds simple enough right? The thought of it is pretty disturbing. By the same token, don't do the crime if you can't do the time, right? It's a nice thought as long as it's not someone that you actually know being put behind bars. This particular guy is nice enough, but has had some bad breaks.

Where's my compassion?? Maybe I'll do a little more research first though, before doing anything rash.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The leaves are turning

On my way to the post office the other day to drop off my taxes, I took these pictures with my phone. The colors are nice, but it still seems early! Now they are calling for snow potentially on Monday.....ugh. I'm supposed to be golfing!!!

Southwest helped me out and made it hassle free for me to change my flight from mid-November to early-December. Though I'm not sure I'm going on the trip yet (softball tournament in Vegas if you don't remember), I want to book the flight and leave my options open. It looks like I might go though and then have surgery the 8th of December. My alternative is to have surgery the 10th of November, so it's a whole month later at this point. The month of softball I might miss in the summer though, would involve tournaments not nearly as interesting as Vegas however, there may be more than one during that month.

It's a tough call. Plus Joisey Ken is coming to visit at the end of December so I'll either be in a sling with the late surgery or not in a sling with the early surgery.

Then there are the holidays to think about: sling or no sling?

Missing Bears games seems like a wash. But I would be able to play football on Thanksgiving morning if I delay the surgery. So many things to consider.....

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Well ain't that a kick in the ass?

After this weekend, my softball team has one more big tournament this year and it's in Vegas. In anticipation of playing, I put off my surgery for a week and booked my flight just the other day and sent a confirmation to the guy organizing the teams activities.

Turns out, the tournament ISN'T the second weekend in November, but is actually not until December!! WTF?? Fortunately I think Southwest will work with me on using the ticket another time and I've tried to move the surgery back a week to the 10th. We'll see how those things turn out.

Foodie Alert!!
Yes, I did some cooking. Both yesterday and today in fact. Yesterday I bought some bay scallops along with four flounder fillets (which totaled less than a pound). The scallops were sauteed in some butter with garlic and a little salt and pepper. They were fantastic!! First time I've ever made them. Two of the flounder fillets were breaded and two were just broiled with some light seasoning. Both were delicious!!

Today I bought some sauerkraut (Frank's of course), some knackwurst and some Yukon Gold potatoes. After slicing and browning the knackwurst, I dumped it in with the sauerkraut to finish cooking. The potatoes I quartered and put in a pan in the oven with some olive oil. As they browned, I added some Parmesan cheese, per Ricardo's recommendation. Good stuff.

To top off both meals: pumpkin pie and fat free Cool Whip. Yum. No booze since tailgating on Sunday. Always a good idea to give the liver a break.

Bonus early entry for Albuquerquians

Some cool video footage of the balloon festival mishaps yesterday.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Officially the senior member

My next door neighbor in the six unit condo building in which I reside, just left yesterday to move to Houston. They had lived here since the building went condo in 1978 (while I moved in in 1993). Like myself, their unit is on the first floor and is a duplex with a finished basement. The units on the second and third floors have turned over several times even since I've been living here. What does this statesmanship garner me? Nothing. In fact, as the other owners become slightly crazier by the day, I'm wondering why I live in a condo at all!

Out in Forest Park on Saturday night while dining and chatting with four other couples, I noticed how much parents talk about their kids. Granted, I was sitting closer to where several of the women were sitting, but throughout the evening, regardless of who sat where, there was plenty of kid talk going on. It was odd too that the couples didn't all sit next to their spouses. How odd. Granted, they certainly didn't HAVE to sit next to each other at the primary table which was crescent shaped. But I digress....let's get back to kid talk. While this talk was going on, I couldn't relate almost at all to what they were talking about and I didn't find it particularly interesting. However, in retrospect, that's how several of the women knew the birthday girl (through their kids) and the long-time friend had kids of roughly the same age as well.

It's just interesting to me and I think I felt like some people feel when I get on a rant with other Bears fans.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Fun weekend round-up

Today was a Bears home game, against Detroit, which started at noon. In anticipation of the next home game (not until November 1) which will have a ton of Cleveland fans in attendance, I dragged LL down to the tailgating parking lot an hour earlier than normal....8:30 instead of 9:30. We had about a dozen people show up and it was good fun. Plus the Bears won!! So we tailgated for three hours before and then another two hours afterwards. It made for an exhausting, but fun day.

Pictured here is the Punke clan with myself and LL. Last year the Punke's bought me this cool leather helmet replica of what football players used to play in many decades ago and today I wore it into the game and during the tailgate. At least a half dozen people commented that they thought it was cool and wanted to know where I got it.

The early Sunday wake-up call was especially difficult because we went to a surprise 40th birthday party for an ex-coworker of mine from Morningstar. They held it in Forrest Park at a place called Flavour Cooking School on Madison. There were 5 or 6 couples all around a large cooking table where the chef worked and prepared a salad, a soup, a carrot cake, along with a white bean side for flank steak. Good stuff. There was plenty of fun conversation, catching up, wine and good food. Unfortunately, maybe a little too much wine and too much fun. We got in a bit later than optimal for a well rested day of tailgating, but we managed.

Saturday morning was supposed to be a softball tournament in Kankakee, but it was rain/colded out. It would have been nice to get in some swings before the big tournament in Indianapolis next weekend. There's something like 70 teams going, so it's another one of the big ones.

Time for bed!! I'm exhausted.

Friday, October 02, 2009

When the party's over......

So Chicago got eliminated in the FIRST round of voting for the 2016 Olympics. It was a bit surprising to me, though having Daly and Kennedy kick off our final presentation seemed like a significant downer. The rest of the presentation went well. Rio got the bid, as I predicted on Facebook this morning. They are holding the 2014 World Cup and it's going to be used as a dry run for the Olympics. They'll have two years to work out any kinks, such as multiple murders and kidnappings, before the Olympics arrive.

Biggggg tailgate this Sunday and the first of the "morning tailgates" due to the game starting at noon. Instead of the usual 9:30 start time, I think I'm going to try to get there closer to 8:30 and have a little more time for relaxing. For those who don't remember, we actually cook breakfast on griddles and then swap out the griddles for grills and cook a little lunch before going inside. After the game we cook up some more grub while waiting for traffic to clear. Good fun!!! Should be a whole slew of people there: LL, Benny Baseball, Sausage, Tom Z and guest, Gangsta and friend, Blind Mender, Softball George and guest, and Pope John and guest. Should be a hoot!

Softball in Kankakee tomorrow morning! Three game round robin so I can get some swings in before heading down to Indy next weekend for another big tournament. Whew!!!