Monday, November 30, 2009
At that moment, I, a registered Republican, was overcome with a wonderful warm, happy sense as I thought, "George Bush (Jr.) is not our President any more."
I'm not writing this to be inflammatory towards my Republican friends. It was simply such a great feeling and I was really surprised by it in both the timing and the intensity.
Of course the smile didn't last long as the Bears game started shortly thereafter.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
On a lighter note, I now have 18 kills in Basra, though the rat holes have continued to emerge even though I fill them in after each kill. Filling in the holes will tell me where the rat was living and which holes are still active. Yes, I devote wayyyy to much time to this, but they haven't come back into our yard, so I must be doing some good. No troops were available at Fort Dix (translation: Menard's was sold out of T-Rex). Reinforcements are needed and will hopefully arrive soon.
One last topic: Games!
Do you remember the TV show? Very fun. "Big money and noooooooooo Whammies!!!" Can't imagine what this version is like.
And then there was this game. It was out at Yorktown mall in a toy store. It's called "Don't Drop The Soap" and is about going to prison. Yep, it's true. I can't make this shit up.
Friday, November 27, 2009
And shop I did. All told, I bought 9 gifts today. Not too shabby. Twice today though before I had completed my order, a message came up underneath the product I was buying "Only x left". That's just a phony sales thing right? But if it's not, what a great idea....though not ethical by any stretch unless it's true. They do that on those shopping network shows I guess though. They have that little total of how many are sold or countdown how many are left. Builds the drama....I like it! Sadly, it did make me buy earlier than I might have otherwise. One was a larger ticket item that I was pondering whether to get or not, but if they would have sold out, I would have been pissed.
One can imagine the internet queue might have looked something like this scene. Around dinner time, I decided to head out and see if there were any deals to be found in some stores. In a relatively short amount of time, I hit Menards (a regional hardware and sundry store), Home Depot and Micro Center (an electronics store). Target was on the agenda as well, but I ran out of energy. This picture was from the huge line at Micro Center. HD and Menard's had customers, but nothing like this.
As promised, here are some pictures from Thanksgiving:
The table getting set. No paper plates Jodi!! Only the good stuff for us this year. :-) It was quite the spread again.
Here's Pops and bro-in-law getting the turkey ready. We cooked a 17 pound bird this year I heard. Mmmmmmm....
Here's the whole family along with in-laws and my niece.
Earlier, there was a slight accident as some gravy spilled on the stove and filled the room with smoke. Doh! It's sort of hard to tell from the picture, but the smoke was pretty thick.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Went over to Ricardo's last night for a little soiree and took it easy on the drinking so I'd be ready for football this morning. Unfortunately, I should have probably spent more time drinking!! Football did not go well for my team and the cold and wet weather didn't help my passing game as QB. Still had fun though!! Anyway, at the party, Aussie Rick mentioned how he uses Windows Media Player to rip songs from cd's he owns to create MP3's . Though Rick would have no reason to lie, I was skeptical.....maybe I'm always skeptical though. Anyway, it's absolutely true and I was able to rip 20 or so cd's tonight without much trouble at all. It's very fast!!
Tomorrow, Thanksgiving pictures!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This story is very disturbing. Our modern economy and way of life really, has been based in large part on home ownership, building wealth slowly and having a house for retirement. It's no coincidence that 30 year mortgages are standard: buy when you're 30, have it paid off by the time you're 60 and mostly done working. Here's a blurb:
In a sign that more foreclosures could be on the horizon, 23% of people with
mortgages owe more than their home is worth, according to a report released
Tuesday. Almost 10.7 million U.S. mortgages were "underwater" as of September, said research firm First American CoreLogic.
So this Thanksgiving, if you're in the 77% of the fortunate people, remember to give thanks for it.
Before the game on Sunday, LL got caught cozying up to the Geico Gecko.
Today I went to court with Ricardo as his corrupt, stealing and lying developer was going through Federal bankruptcy court. The bank was trying to take over the four units the developer owns in Ricardo's building plus two others in hopes of recouping their money. Good luck. Even though this trial went well including Ricardo's testimony as the condo association President, it will likely be 6 months before they can get him out of the building....and that's if he doesn't actually make any more payments at all.
This was the judge and room the trial was in today. If you're scum, you could do a lot worse than getting her as your judge. She's ridiculously lenient to those who have run afoul of the laws. Geeez. Two and a half hours of detailing how this guy lies and doesn't pay his debts and has no way of repaying them unless he cheats someone else, and the judge throws him yet ANOTHER life line.....after three years of this crap. Unbelievable.
But I did like these urinals!! Those judges get first class treatment!
Monday, November 23, 2009
After cooking bay scallops and pork chops for myself and LL Friday night, it was go, go, go for the rest of the weekend. Saturday morning brought a trip out to Naperville for a family photo by a professional photographer. Always good to get together with the family, even though I'll be seeing them on Thursday.
Saturday night was a party at LL's prior boss' house on Ashland....that's right, a house on Ashland. Very nice place and the host, also named Laura, was very pleasant. She had a friend doing most of the cooking and it was quite the spread. Much to my surprise, the first dish out was bacon wrapped dates!! You know how I love things wrapped in bacon.
Sunday morning was church followed by grocery shopping for the tailgate for the Bears game at night. With just enough time to cook the chili, change clothes and load the car, we headed to the game around four. We had a good tailgate, which might be the last one I throw this year, pending how Joisey Ken feels about packing and setting everything up with my limited, one-armed help (plus depending on the temperature for that late December game).
Next thing you know, it's Monday morning and I'm cleaning up from the night before. Where did the weekend go?
Thursday, November 19, 2009
In addition, sleeping is apparently a huge issue. It's supposed to be particularly painful to roll over and move around (and ill advised in fact). One answer that people on the internet have found is to sleep in a recliner. A bed with lots and lots of pillows to prop you up can work too, but that probably won't work in my case. Soooo, now I'm looking for a recliner. While I would like to just rent one, I might not be able to do that, though I am trying. So if I need to buy one, which must have either no lever or a lever on the left side, since obviously I won't be able to use one on the right side, I'm unlikely to keep it long term. What would have a good resell value? Maybe one of these?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This client is a manufacturer related to commercial construction. For the last year or so, their sales have been drying up and competition has increased. The patriarch also started suffering dementia and now has Alzheimer's. The matriarch now not only has to deal with a flailing company, but a faltering husband. Ugh. Their eldest son is in his 30's and completely dependent on his parents due to poor health and drugs. Personally their financial situation has deteriorated as well.
We became involved while the patriarch was developing dementia and we were able to provide support for the matriarch as well as re-organizing some of the corporate documents to allow the company to run more smoothly.
Now they have a plan in place for making dramatic cuts in the company to survive on sales volumes that are 20% of what they were only last year. Personally the matriarch has a plan for creating liquidity and avoiding bankruptcy.
So today ESDNM and I met with this client and basically fired ourselves. We said, you have a plan in place for the business and a personal plan as well. Now you just need to execute and you shouldn't be paying consultants to do that for you.
That's what happens with my clients though. Interestingly, I received a message from a woman whose husband just recently passed away and left her with a 100 year old business to run. Now she wants to sell and get out. Hopefully we can help her out. Funny how one door closes and another opens though.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
"90% of life is just showing up." Commonly attributed to Woody Allen. One way to make your own luck, is to JUST SHOW UP. Do something at least. Make an effort! If you work hard and put yourself in the position to be successful, guess what? You might just end up being successful. But it's not guaranteed unfortunately. One thing is almost assuredly guaranteed though: if you don't put yourself in the situation to succeed, you won't.
Changing topics; Starbucks has decided to increase their prices. Oh, the recession MUST be over. Why else would a company pass along an over 5% price increase on a product that's 99% water and can be made at home? I, for one, am glad to see the recession end. I mean, it has to have ended right? Housing foreclosures doubled the number of foreclosures in the 3rd quarter last year? Unemployment has topped 10%? Oh.....maybe Starbucks is a dumb-ass insensitive company. With sales of over $10B, if we say half of that had a price increase, then they just increased revenues by $265M. Wow.
Lastly, how would you like to buy a 127 plot of land with a building covering half of that property and is located near a major city? How about if I told you that you could buy it for the cost of a house in some areas, $583,000? Now what if I told you that the building on the property cost $55 million to build in 1975 dollars? Sounds like a sweet deal huh? Well, it's true and it just sold. The Pontiac Silverdome was sold to a Canadian company for about 1/100th of the cost to build it. The catch of course is the $1.5 million in annual upkeep. Still, seems like a steal for a 80,000 seat stadium where the biggest indoor crowd ever saw Hulk Hogan beat Andre the Giant in a wrestling match.
Starbucks could have bought the Silverdome and paid for the repairs for the next 175 years based just on their 5.3% increase. Again, wow.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Just before my shoulder surgery in early December, I'll be going to Vegas for a last softball tournament. So that means at least weekly practice leading up to the trip. Tonight was one of those practices. It's been at least a month since I've thrown or hit a softball, so my shoulder was a little rusty to start. After 45 minutes or so, it had loosened up pretty well and I was back to be able throw decently again. The hitting came back pretty quickly.
ESDNM is in town, so that means work and gluttony over the next few days. We'll see how it goes though as his main accomplice, Ricardo, is sick. Tuesday is an 8 a.m. meeting, so it's off to bed for me!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The objective: fill this shed with split wood. There are two rows in this picture and the full shed has three. We'd have to move this wood out and put the freshly split wood in the back and then ensure that this wood was used first by stacking it in front. In retrospect, since the wood we were splitting was four years old, we probably could have left it there.
Three of the men for the job: Smitty, Bill and me. The brand new log splitter is about to be christened with a beer bottle.
And Ricardo is added in this picture....in all of his sickness glory.
But how exactly do we start it? Where are the directions?? Have no fear, we got it running in pretty short order.
The first big load we split, was the equivalent of one good sized tree.....about 75 feet long I'd guess. We gave that wood to Ricardo's 70+ year old neighbor who decided not to split wood this year because it was just "too much" for him. He has helped out Ricardo often over the years.
The other four loads were with a slightly smaller trailer, but still quite a bit of wood.
Though there was wood to split which had been cut last year, we opted to split all of these huge pieces laying around the bottom of this picture. The median piece of oak was 3' in diameter and 2' thick. they were big and heavy, which is exactly why they had been sitting in this wood "pile" for four years or so. We decided to have at them though and save all the stacked wood for splitting next year.
The after photo! What a difference!!
And of course the goal of filling the shed was achieved. Ricardo and wife (and guests) will not be cold this year!! Now if only I can get up there on a weekend OTHER than wood cutting weekend.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Last week's game for the Bears against Arizona was very telling historically. The Bears lost to go to 4-4. Since the advent of the 16 game season, teams that start 5-3 make the playoffs 65% of the time. Teams that go 4-4 make the playoffs only 36% of the time. Another sign that I'll be saving money on playoffs tickets this year.
Tomorrow I leave for Ricardo's cabin in Wisconsin, so I probably won't be posting over the weekend. Hopefully everyone has a great weekend though.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
LL and I went to dinner at Erie Cafe to celebrate 10 months together and had my favorite waiter of all time, Hugo. He understands what being a good, no great!, waiter means: don't interrupt, know the menu, be honest, know when to be attentive and when to leave the diners alone, get some extras when asked for and clean up a bit. Hugo gave us measures of a 20 year old port as an aperitif and it was tasty!
On a separate note, Ricardo, who spent Monday and Tuesday in Atlanta, is now sick. We were supposed to go up to his Wisconsin home and cut up trees and split logs for the winter. Since he is pretty sure it's just a cold, we'll probably still head up there, but maybe not if he doesn't come around.
Two more kills in Basra last night by T-Rex! That brings the total to 13 for the latest surge. The last 4-5 have been juveniles, but a rat is a rat. Not as many of the holes have been re-dug after I closed them up. You have to close up the holes to see which of the holes are still active. If the holes reappear, then they are active. You don't want to be baiting too far from the active holes otherwise the rats will never get to the trap: there is easier food to be had in the garbage can. Part of the problem now is that some of the active holes are in the middle of the yard and the traps work best near walls and where I can tie them down. Still, if the active holes are in the yard, then that's where T-Rex will go!
Finally, I was happy to see this story have some closure for the families. The murdered girl's sister is my age and was in my school at the time. Naperville was a much smaller town back then, probably less than half the size that it is now. The murder really impacted people throughout the town.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I guess this isn't catching up, but look what walked across the first hole at Glencoe Golf Club today. If you can't see it, blow up the picture. It's a deer. He walked right across the green (that picture didn't turn out as well) and was probably within 15 yards of me as he decided to head down the second hole. Later, I think I heard him scraping against a tree. And Naperville Greg goes to Wisconsin to hunt deer!
Here's most of the crew at the tailgate this weekend against the Cardinals. Bill the Bear is in the middle of the picture with the beard. Andy "sausage" is next to him in the Tillman jersey. The two guys right of Bill are Nick (a coworker of Bill) and Nick's brother. Suburban Sean and his crew are in the left side of the picture. What a gorgeous day for a game! Too bad we got crushed.
Bill had not been to the new stadium or to a Bears game since he was a kid. He was supposed to join me last year when I had my Meniere's attack but I had not given him his ticket in advance so he couldn't go. This year I gave him first pick of games and he chose the Packers game. Unfortunately, that will be post surgery, so I gave him the option to switch to another game and he did. It worked out well because LL couldn't make this game due to a baptism.
The Friday before Halloween, LL and I got tickets to see the Blackhawks play. They beat the Montreal Canadians 3-2 in an exciting game.
Lots of people were in costume, including the chicks that skate around during stoppages in the game and clean up the ice. Here's their pick with some guy.
Look at this dude!! Holy crap. The grim reaper with a hockey stick. Yikes. He's like 7' to 8' tall!
By the way, one more rat killed by T-Rex in Basra. That's 11 now. Making progress!!
Monday, November 09, 2009
CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #111
This is the official "I have nothing worth writing about" vanity card. It will run whenever I have nothing worth writing about. Don't be surprised to see it quite a bit. From now on, when our schedule requires me to deliver a new card and I'm empty, I'll simply say, "Run one-eleven." A check of the one hundred and ten cards I've already written will quickly demonstrate that I should have written this card a long time ago. Why didn't I? Vanity. I had become vain about my vanity cards. I was determined to write a new one each week because, well... I'm just that kind of guy. But I'm older and wiser now. I know when I have nothing to say. And that knowledge is freedom. Freedom from the constant need to win your approval. And more importantly, freedom from the obsessive and relentless need to end each vanity card on a joke. Glenn Beck is sober.I'm wondering if I should have a "I have nothing worth writing about" entry? Or maybe an "I'm to drunk to write an entry" entry? Interesting concept. Don't be surprised to see it!
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Friday, Ricardo, LL, myself and a client went out for happy hour at Emmitt's Pub. They cook a mean fish and have Goose Island Matilda on draft. Yummy! It was apparent that I'm getting old though because I was home by 9:30 and exhausted! We started at around 4:30 or so, but still.
Saturday brought preparation for the tailgate on Sunday and an evening bowling fundraiser with Ricardo and Ricardo's wife, who sits on the board of said charity (Kaleidoscope, which benefits abused children). The event was at Southport Lanes, a bar with four lanes on it. They actually have manual pinsetters still so you can only bowl on any two lanes at one time. The oil on the lanes was inconsistent so it was hard for me to control my finger tip hook ball, but it was fun nonetheless. I'm looking forward to maybe going bowling again here in the next month before my surgery.
Also, in the morning, LL and I drove up to Wheeling to this place where I get free bagels every month (something I won at a charity event). So it's a nice relaxing drive in the morning, which was gorgeous by the way, and we had brunch there too. A nice way to start the day!
Sunday was the Bears debacle and tailgating. Bill the Bear joined me as LL had a baptism to attend for a friend of hers. Benny Baseball and Andy "The Sausage King", were there as well. We had good fun and were joined by a guy who used to play softball with us until he got married and had two kids. Now he lives in the far, far, far, western burbs. He still makes a few Bears games though...good fun.
The war in Basra is going well with 10 troops killed so far. That's right, 10! In just under a week. Sweet. The holes I've collapsed have not reappeared, which means I may have killed their habitant. I'll keep at it and see what kind of progress I can continue to make.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
The Bears have many deficiencies this season and the game against the hapless Browns did nothing to alleviate concerns. This year, the Bears did not have a first round draft pick and they traded out of their second round pick for more picks later in the draft. Let's examine those picks:
Rnd 3 Jarron Gilbert, DE. Hasn't done squat or seen the field on defense. He's on the roster, but no one is sure why.
Rnd 3 Juaquin Iglesias, WR. Hasn't seen the field on offense. Seems like a bust if you can't break into the starting lineup with this weak receiving corp.
Rnd 4 Henry Milton, DE. On injured reserve, but didn't do anything worth talking about prior to his injury.
Rnd 4 DJ Moore, CB. Yet another player on the Bears from that great football powerhouse, Vanderbilt. Like those before him, hasn't seen the field on defense with virtually no competition to beat out.
Rnd 5 Johnny Knox, WR. Got the pick as part of the Cutler trade. He's been a great find in the 5th round.
Rnd 5 Marcus Freeman, LB. Not in football.....at all.
Rnd 6 Al Afalava, FS. A huge find for the 6th round. Starts and plays the run well.
Neither 7th round pick has seen the field and one was cut.
So why the analysis at this point? Next year the Bears again do not have a first or second round draft pick, however theyalso don't have the extra picks that they had this year (in the 3rd, 4th and 5th). How are the Bears going to fill all the holes they have if they continue to draft like they did above? You're not likely to find an impact defensive lineman or a lock down corner if you're not picking until the third round. Maybe you can find a solid offensive lineman that will be an upgrade, but that's questionable too. Can you find another Johnny Knox? Maybe, but that's banking on a hope and a prayer.
The Bears have a lot of holes and not much chance of filling them through the draft. Trading hasn't been successful for them either: Omiyale just got benched for the starter from last year and Orlando Pace gets beat by everyone not shaped like an elephant. Cutler is certainly an upgrade and would be even better if he had anyone to whom he could throw.
So 2 out of 8 draft picks are decent players (values based on where they were picked) and the two trades which weren't a can't miss (Cutler was a can't miss) both missed. That makes it tough to plug holes and get better.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Today was day one of bringing my own cup to Starbucks and being greener. By latest count, I spilled the coffee while drinking it three times. Argh. Fortunately, I missed my shirt all three times, which was good because I was headed to a client downtown.
October is over and good riddance!!! According to Tom Skilling at WGN, October was the 3rd cloudiest, 9th wettest and 11th coolest October in 139 years of official observations. Good Lord. After the lame-ass, cold summer we had and the really nasty, snowy and cold winter, 2009 is a weather year best forgotten.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Went back into Starbucks this afternoon for my second cup of coffee, decaf as of late for health reasons. They gave me the refill price, 55 cents as usual, but told me they had to give me a new cup due to recent health code interpretations by some health departments. If you've gone to get coffee with me, you know I normally have them double cup my coffee due to the temperature and the flimsiness of the cups. I've always felt bad about going through two cups each day due to the waste, but I really haven't found a good travel mug and I wasn't sure they'd give me the refill price in the afternoon. Now I don't really have a choice. Tossing out FOUR cups a day would not be acceptable from a garbage standpoint. Change is forced upon Joe once again.
The rat situation in Basra has gotten out of control. Basra, if you remember, is my neighbor's front (south) yard. It's an apartment building and the owner doesn't seem to care about the rats at all. So I decided to take a video to show you what's going on.
Due to the proliferation, I've launched a new T-Rex attack. We'll so how we do against this new generation of combatants.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Friday night the weekend was kicked off with a hockey game at The United Center pitting two original six teams against each other, the Blackhawks and the Canadians from Montreal. The good guys won 3-2 and I belted out the Canadian national anthem as I always do when afforded the opportunity. Good fun! We took the shuttle from The Beer Bistro where we had some dinner and then took the shuttle back after the game. Very nice way to get there and back.
It wasn't the usual rowdiness at The UC though as I had to get up at 6:30 a.m. to get out to Naperville for a golf outing/fundraiser for my softball team which had a shotgun start at 9. After surviving the cold (low 40's), wind 20 mph easily and general dampness on the course (cartpath only because it was so wet) for 4 1/2 hours, we were rewarded with a decent lunch and free booze for an hour. Lunch consisted mainly of the biggest bread bowl I've ever seen and ample amounts of chili. My bad for not taking a picture of the bread bowl. It had to be 8-10 inches high and 6-8 inches wide. Unbelieveable.
When I got home, it was time to shower and warm up, maybe get a little nap in. By the time I was ready to go to the grocery store to buy food for the tailgate the next day, the cops had blocked off my street so cars couldn't get through due to a Halloween parade. So I could either wait until 9 p.m. to get started on cooking, it was about 6, or I could walk and carry my grocerys back home, which I did. Fortunately though I needed a lot of stuff, it wasn't particularly heavy.
The cooking was finally wrapped up around 11:30. The additional hour of sleep because of daylight savings time change couldn't have come at a better time. It was a 6:30 wakeup call again, but this time so I could leave by 8 for tailgating.
Mission accomplished though and LL and I were at Soldier Field with the grill going by 8:30 a.m. We were visited by 17 guests over the course of the morning, the majority not making it in time for breakfast, which I cut off at around 9:45. The breakfast sandwiches were particularly tasty and the maple sausage links were a positive change from the sausage patties I normally cook. They didn't burn as easily and were delicious.
All things bacon wrapped were up next: waterchestnuts and shrimp which both were doused in barbeque sauce and figs. Yum. We ate about a pound of shrimp, two pounds of bacon, one can of whole waterchestnuts and probably half a pound of figs.
The homemade chile came next. The chili is made with a pound and a quarter of ground beef and a tube of spicy breakfast sausage. Combine those with an onion, three peppers, tomatoes and three kinds of beans and you have some damn good chili. It was good by itself, but after the game we put it on cheddar cheese filled brats. Yum again!!
Tomorrow, I have to deal with the clean up!