Sunday, January 31, 2010

Party for Four Days

The other day on the radio I heard a spot for Pizza For Patriots. What a nice idea. This group is getting pizzas at cost or donated from Gino's East (my favorite deep dish pizza in the city) and Edwardo's and flying them over to Afghanistan and Iraq in time for the Super Bowl. It's a great idea and gives the troops a little taste of home and reminds them for what they are fighting. So what company is flying the pizzas over there? Federal Express? Nope. UPS? Nope. USPS? Nope. It's DHL. Now, I've had NO positive experiences with DHL domestically, but I'm happy that they are donating their services. Good for them.

It's been a busy four days as LL celebrated a birthday on Sunday. On Thursday, I surprised her with her gift and took her out to lunch. Friday night we went to dinner downtown and went to see Jim Gaffigan. That dude is nothing but freaking funny. AND clean humor. Go figure. On Saturday we went out to dinner again with Softball Paul and his wife Gretchen. They made at least two blogs in pictorial form already here and here. We went to a very nice restaraunt called Glen Prairie on Roosevelt and Finley. Highly recommended, but call for a reservation. After dinner, we went to a softball teammates 29th birthday party at his house. Though I knew about the party, I didn't tell anyone that I was coming so it was a fun surprise. We had a good time seeing everyone for the first time in two months and everyone was interested in how my shoulder was healing. Today, on LL's actual birthday, we went to Wildfire with her parents for dinner. It's been a festive four days!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gordian Knot

Today I read an article on Obama's State of The Union speech last night with discussion from both sides. Evan Bayh (pronounced Buy) said, "No speech can untie that Gordian knot" -- referring to the complexities confronting Democrats as they consider how to untangle far-reaching bills passed separately by the House and Senate now that they lack the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate.

My education was light on literary references (thankfully I say!), so I looked up Gordian Knot on Wikipedia, the source for all information great and good. While I understand Bayh's reference, I'm not sure I agree with it. It seems that if Obama put forth specific compromises instead of just "we will try harder on healthcare", he might have actually been able to make significant progress and possibly undone the Gordian Knot that is healthcare in congress. At least it would have been nice to see him try.

An interesting study was done regarding NFL games. On average, over the games studied, there was only 11 minutes of actual playing time where the ball was in play. Eleven minutes a game. And this is what, a trillion dollar industry? Certainly in the many hundreds of billions. Unbelievable. About 60% of the non-commercial telecast shows players milling about. So football is a bunch of people on their sofa watching a bunch of people standing around. And I still love it!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shoulder update

It's been 7 weeks since my surgery and under the original timetable, I'd just be getting used to not having a sling on. Fortunately I was out of the sling after just about two weeks and definitely by three. Though it was a bit early to start physical therapy (PT), I started going once a week at week five and just continued my stretching and very light strengthening. Over the next two months, I'll be working on strengthening in earnest.

At night I'm sleeping much better, though still not on my right side. The pain from it getting stiff is nowhere near as bad as it used to be and for the most part doesn't wake me up anymore. During the day I can lift my arm up over my head and rotate it around pretty well. There's still work to do, without a doubt, but my progress has been really great. Friday morning I go see my doctor for a check up and we'll see what he says.

So far, so good.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Christmas gifts

Via Facebook I've found out that some people are just now taking down their Christmas trees, which I think is fine. Leaving them up until the spring seems a bit excessive, but why do you have to take them down by NYE? That seems to be the conventional wisdom. Bunk I say!

So has everyone put their Christmas gifts to good use? Have you put them away? Worn them? Washed and ruined them? This year is particular bad for me as I have yet to do anything with about half of my gifts!! I like them all, but I just haven't either put them away or worn them. So I don't internalize my angst, I blame my shoulder surgery. Clearly that's not true, but I'm not sure of the real reason. I guess if I'm not using it everyday, it's just not a priority right now. Though some of them I COULD be using if I just unpacked them. Well, maybe tomorrow.

Also, I found out today that at least 91% of your American Red Cross donations for Haiti will actually make it's way to Haiti. That's a pretty good number.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where have I been?

My title poses an excellent question. Why would I go four days without posting? Well, it wasn't intentional. Until today, I thought my last post was Thursday. So my bad.

On Thursday, ESDNM was still in town and after doing my physical therapy exercises, I headed out to dinner with Naperville Greg and Kleveland Kim. The destination was Cafe Bolero, a nice Cuban restaurant on Western. When LL and I got there though, NOBODY was in the place. Since we had our choice of tables, we (really LL) selected the table furthest from the front door. This was about 7:00, so I was wondering about the quality of food since my last visit over a year ago. About 10 minutes after we arrived, a homeless looking guy wandered into the still empty dining room and sat down at the head of a table for six. After a few minutes, he moved to a table for two....RIGHT next to us. Ugh. As it turns out, he was probably just down on his luck as opposed to homeless. Still, it was very odd and he did not smell nice. We did have a nice dinner though with some great plantains and sangria. The whole meal took over 3 hours! So that's why I didn't write on Thursday.

Friday was another office day for me and afterwards we drove to the suburbs for dinner with LL's parents. Their restaurant choice? The Olive Garden. If you know only one thing about me, it's probably that I'm against chain restaurants like Applebys, The Olive Garden, Chili's, etc. Why? Mostly it's because I have a bunch of great restaurants around me that are local, enhance the neighborhood's appeal and charge just about the same as those chains. Seriously, if you can't spend $18 on a good entree at a restaurant in Chicago, you're not even trying. But that's what they charge at these places. Fine, it's not my choice but I'm going along for the ride.

It was much larger than I thought. It seemed like several hundred people could eat there. Next surprise, salad served family style. Want more? No problem. Next surprise..want cheese? How about fresh grated parmesan? Really? Nice. Chianti on the menu? Not bad. Then my dish, short ribs in a chianti sauce with portobello mushroom risotto. The short ribs were tender and awesome. The risotto was maybe a little underdone, but not enough to ruin the dish by any means. I was pretty impressed. Maybe I'll have to rethink my chain restaurant position......

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Conflicts, conflicts

Many of you know that I support and do a fair amount of work with Family Rescue here in Chicago, a shelter for women and their children who are trying to escape abusive relationships. Not only do they receive shelter though, they also get job training and legal assistance. It's a great organization that could be 10 times larger and still not be able to service everyone who needs help unfortunately.

Anyway, their big golf outing in which I've participated for the last....12 years I on August 27th, the day I need to be in Detroit for a big national softball tournament. And not just ANY softball tournament, the World Series.

Ugh. How narcissistic is it for me to ask them to move the event one week earlier? Probably no more so that writing a blog about what goes on in my life every day. :-) I do contribute a fair chunk of change each year though, so I don't feel too bad about asking.

ESDNM is in town so we called on some clients and met with a prospective client who runs a restaurant down in Lincoln Park. Afterward, we returned to the office to where the internet connection was down. That took about an hour to fix, but fortunately Ricardo dropped off ESDNM at a Starbucks near the office so he could get some work done and download emails.

After the internet got up and running, we headed to The Publican (in the west loop) for dinner with Ricardo and Ricardo's step-father-in-law (really, really long story). The food was good, sort of American tapas. We had: cured ham slices, fries with two sunny side up eggs on them (delicious!), smoked chub, suckling pig, coutry ribs and sweetbreads. All good stuff!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting all political on your asses

Quick post tonight as ESDNM is in town so that means client meetings tomorrow. Plus I haven't been feeling great the last few days, so I need to get some sleep. Though I've been taking care of the symptoms as best I can, my throat is still sore and my mucous is a bit heavy. Yeah, gross, I know.

Any who, I did want to talk briefly about the Massachusetts vote which was won by a Republican, Scott Brown. So now the Democrats do not have a super majority and can't stop a filibuster. I say, so what? Bush never had the majority that Obama has and that ass-clown started two wars!! WTF? Obama better put on his big kid pants and get some negotiating and compromising done. It's called checks and balances and is supposed to keep crazy people like Bush from doing the dumb shit he did. Not sure why it failed in his case, but I don't like too much power resting with any singular individual or group, so this might actually be a good thing in the long term.

BTW, how bad of a candidate do you have to be to lose to a Republican in freaking Massachusetts?? The Kennedys have ruled that state for decades. Good Lord. Nice job Democratic party. Did they really think they could run just any ol'retard and win?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Will the Bears be able to find anyone?

As usual, here's a link to MLK's "I have dream" speech.

Gaines Adams, a 26 year old defensive lineman for the Bears, passed away from cardiac arrest. The Bears had traded a second round pick next year for him. It was stunning and I feel bad for his family. It's an unfortunate lead into my main topic.

Why would you become a coordinator or even a coach for the Bears? The head coach, Lovie Smith, almost got fired but instead was told to fire his offensive coaches. Last year he was told to fire his defensive coaches. He has two years left on his 4 year deal signed in 2007. They finished 7-9 and next year they have 8 games against teams that made the playoffs this year. They don't have a first or second round draft pick. There will be several hundred fewer free agents on the market this year if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached by March. So without much chance for improvement, there's a very good chance that he'll be fired after next year. If Lovie goes after next year, a new head coach will be hired and he'll bring in all new coaches. So there's a 90% chance that you'd be taking a job for one year.

So if you could go join a team with a more secure head coach, regardless of the type of talent on the team, you'd be much better off. That means either other teams don't want you, or you're already unemployed're just not that smart.'d take the job as a promotion, however slight, but even that would be dumb. The smart man would stay in their job and wait until next year. New coordinator positions open up every year. Even for a college coach it would be stupid for the same reasons.

So who is going to accept the open offensive and defensive coordinator jobs for the Bears? I have no idea.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I really want to know.....

So much going on in the world to think about. Haiti for one. Haiti, before the quake, was a shit hole. It is still, a shit hole. People were living in abject poverty, dieing every day because they don't have access to food or clean water or basic medicine. Gangs rule their territories because the government is too corrupt, disorganized and scared to do anything about them. That was Haiti on Monday before the quake and it's Haiti today. Instead of raising tens of millions of dollars to help people in these situations AFTER a tragedy, why can't we get people to care enough to raise that much money before hand to help with the basics of life? If there's a reason to help them now, shouldn't we have been helping them before? Whether you are suffering from the oppression of a building block on your chest or from an intolerant, corrupt regime or from the oppression of not being able to get drinkable water for your children or food for yourself, is it really any different?

On a lighter note, nobody can find this guy. Seriously? He's 18, 6'5" and 210. How hard can it be?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mixed Bag

So some good news for the world despite the events in Haiti. The Doomsday Clock has been moved and it was actually moved BACK one minute! Apparently it's only been moved 19 times since 1947. It's an interesting article.

Whether or not you've donated to help Haiti, like I did, one way to do it is through the American Red Cross. They really put together a good program and made it easy to donate. You just text the word "Haiti" to 90999 and they add $10 to your next phone bill. That's easy!! They send you a follow up text to make sure you really wanted to do it and then another text to see if you're interested in receiving ARC texts on a regular basis (4 a month or so). That's well executed. Someone has been thinking and I like it!

Every night before I go to bed, I read the comics. I love many sitcoms. Comedians in general are awesome. LL got me tickets to see Jim Gaffigan. I love to laugh. So then when I read a story like this, I have to ask myself what the hell were they thinking? That guy is really pretty funny and while I don't listen to his radio show, I have seen him do stand-up on TV. He's a funny guy, but obviously has some serious issues. Can you even imagine trying something like that??

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where did all my topics go?

The other day I probably had 20 things to write'. Where did those thoughts go?

Oh, one thing I wanted to write about was a new list of mutual funds for this year. The last list that I could find was from October of 2008 with their 2009 returns:
Weitz Hickory WEHIX ( 36.5%)
Dodge and Cox Income DODIX (16.1%)
Mairs and Power Balanced MAPOX (21.4%)
Mairs and Power Growth MPGFX (22.5%)
Stratton Small-Cap Value STSCX (17.9%)

All of these funds are 4 star funds according to Morningstar except for Weitz Hickory. The fund underperformed it's benchmark by 5.5%. That said, it did finish in the top third of comparable funds. Still, it's the third year in a row that it's underperformed it's benchmark, so I have to drop it from my recommended list.

Stratton, though up as well, underperformed it's peer group by 14%. After finishing in the top 3% of similar funds in 2008, it finished in the bottom 5% in 2009. This fund isn't for everyone.

The other funds are pretty solid.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sooo much pain

Yesterday was my PT day. After an hour with my therapist, my shoulder was literally just hanging from the socket down my side. It was exhausted, but it didn't really feel like it hurt per se. Then I went to bed.

Ugh. It hurt so bad it woke me up again (after having already taken 2 Tylenol PM's) and in the morning it hurt so bad I think it gave me a headache. As a result, I took 3 ibuprofens and slept in until about 10. By then the shoulder finally felt tolerable. It's going to be a looooonnnnngggg couple of months of rehab if this is what I have in store.

During the day my power went out, actually the power went out from Belmont up past my street and from Broadway to Halsted at least. So I headed into the office, which was fine because I was going to see T-Rex Timmy after work for a few drinks anyway. As usual, it was a productive couple of hours at the office and a very good time hanging with Tim (and Ricardo who joined us later on).

Unfortunately I didn't have time to sit down and think about the next 20 years of my life, but I'm not forgetting about it. So much to ponder.....

In other news, my heart "flutterings" are back. Boo. They showed up again two days ago. Nothing serious, but it was nice to have them gone for such a long stretch. I'm not actually sure that they do "go away", but I certainly haven't been noticing them if they were still there. Not so anymore though. Sigh.....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

3D translation

Yesterday someone using the name "cutie" posted a comment in Chinese that I deleted because it was clearly spam plus I didn't know what it said! Then, this morning, I remembered Alexis turning me onto Google's translate function so I recovered the deleted comment and put it into the translator. This is what came out: The best way to foster healthy child is the parents first become able-bodied person. I couldn't agree more!!! Next time maybe I'll translate it first before deleting it.

Last night, LL and I had a celebration and went out to dinner downtown (Vivo on Randolph) and then to Navy Pier to see Avatar in 3D on Imax. Wow. If you have access to Avatar at an Imax, you HAVE GOT TO GO. It's unbelievable. The movie is great probably at a regular theater too, but at an Imax, it's just crazy awesome.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Every 20 Years

The other day Ricardo said he was going to be staying home and thinking about the new year, his career and his future. This made me think, albeit not right away, about what I've done, what I'm doing and what I want to do.

But that's a huge task right? So let's narrow it down.

How about in 20ish year chunks? Why not?

How did the first 20ish years go? Let's go to 23 when I graduated college. Well, I survived childhood without any broken bones, made friends, became educated (at least in terms of our society and for the relevant time period), never smoked anything and was generally well adjusted. Sort of I guess. Still a little immature at that point, but it didn't stop me from getting married, but that leaks into the second 20 years.

It would be difficult to say the next 20 year period was less than pretty successful and happy. Professionally I was successful enough to be financially independent at 35. Turned around two companies and helped sell them. Now I own two businesses. So that's pretty darn good. Personally, I realized that I got married too young and had the strength and decency to get divorced and move on. Fortunately I followed up my marriage with a few long term relationships with good women and I grew as a person and potential spouse as a result. Also from a personal perspective, I've found great enjoyment with three hobbies: softball, golf and working out. And beyond just me, I've been active in my church including the $3 million renovation as well as the Red Cross and Family Rescue (an organization that helps abused women and their children). For most of that 20 years I've lived in my condo, so I guess I did an ok job with buying real estate.

Now I embark on my third 20 year segment, sort of like a regeneration of Dr. Who. What do I want to do professionally? What do I want to do personally? With whom do I want to do those things? What hobbies do I want/will I be able to continue? Maybe I'll set aside some time this week to ponder these and other questions. No decision yet on whether I'll present my ponderings here in the blog.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Snowy Days

We're locked into the heart of winter in Chicago and most of the country. In downtown Chicago, it means snow and snowy sidewalks. There's something I've noticed and wonder if you have too. After it snows, some brave soul or souls, who get up way before me, trudge through the new fallen snow on the sidewalk and create a trail. The next person, striving to conserve energy, follows the same path. As does the next person and so on. Eventually there's just a well trodden narrow path down the middle of the sidewalk that makes it passable. All of this presumes that your neighbors do not shovel their sidewalks or that you are outside before they are able to do so. In my case, most of my neighbors have indeed shoveled before I get outside, but there's always someone who doesn't.

Anyway, so you have this path in the snow and all is grand as you trudge along to wherever you're going, until at some point, someone comes from the other direction. What happens now? There's only room on the trail for one person. You never have a discussion with the person to determine who started walking on the trail first, so "first come, first served" is out the window. Clearly if they are old or infirmed, you'll yield. If you're a guy, you might even yield to a woman, though when it's a balmy 2 degrees out, it's hard to tell what sex you're dealing with sometimes. So what happens? It's been my experience that we both abandon the trail and trudge through the deeper snow on either side. Can't there be a better solution? We both lose out currently and I'm not happy about it. Somebody optimize this for me!!!

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Yeah, it's hard for me to go too long without writing about the Bears, even if I'm enamored with watching the Blackhawks play now. However, you can find some solace in the fact that football season is coming to an end and I won't have much Bears topics to write about for a while.

The teams the Bears are playing next year have been determined already. The NFL bases the schedule on where a team finishes in their division and a rotation of divisional play. As such, the Bears have 8 games against playoff teams from this year. Eight!!! Granted, four are against Minnesota and Green Bay, which they would play regardless. But they also play Dallas and Philadelphia (in addition to Washington and the NY Giants who are not playoff teams but are in the NFC East), New England and the Jets.

It's going to be tough to make the playoffs when you can't make changes through the draft (we have no first or second round pick), can't make changes through free agency there will be 200 fewer free agents due to an impending failure to agree on a collective bargaining agreement with the players union, AND on top of it, half of your games are against good teams. Ugh. 2010 might not be as much fun for Bears fans as I had hoped. Sigh......

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Little Deja Vu

So last night I take Tylenol PM in an effort to sleep through the night and deal with shoulder pain that sets in after about four hours of sleep. While I still woke up about four hours in, the pain wasn't severe, so it could have been something else that woke me up. All in all, the Ylenol PM was a success.

At some pint while I was trying to fall back asleep, I had a "what ever happened to...." thought. Do other people have these thoughts regarding people on TV or in movies? This particular one I had thought of before but never researched. Do you remember the Seinfeld episode called "The Busboy"? This busboy sets a menu too close to a candle, it lights on fire, George puts it out, the manager comes over and George mentions the busboy put it there and the busboy gets fired. Hilarity ensues. Anyway, I remember from watching the Season 2 DVD with the commentary on (this was probably two years ago) that Jerry was making fun of the guy a bit saying he had thought he was the next Marlon Brando or something and then said "Whatever happened to that guy?". Nobody knew.

Well the guy's name is David Labiosa and if you look at his filmography, he seems to have been in every single show that I never watched. It's truly amazing. He's been in a lot of stuff (the page lists 46 different shows), but the only one I watched was 24, where he was in four episodes but before I started watching 24. To come clean, I guess I did watch Hill Street Blues and he was in one episode as well as I vaguely remember watching White Shadow.

So today I got home from work, turned on the TV, switched to TBS and guess what episode was on?? The Busboy!! How freakin' weird is that??

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Doctor Who?

In junior high, and some of the years one either side, I spent many a Sunday night watching PBS, Channel 11. What in God's name was a 10-15 year old kid doing watching PBS? Well, at that time, PBS was running a fair amount of BBC programming on Sunday nights: Monty Python, Benny Hill, No Honestly and Dr. Who. Though the special effects were terrible, the actor playing Dr. Who, Tom Baker, did a masterful job in the role in the late 70's. As a huge fan, I was very excited to see the series regain traction in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston playing the Dr. and then under the current Dr., David Tennant (since 2006).

Thank goodness for Tivo as I've been able to avoid missing a single episode over the last several years. So it was with great dismay that I heard the good Dr. was dying!! Ugh. It seemed implausible and nonsensical that they would end this character who has been around since 1963! But twice they stopped the shows, 1990-95 and 1997-2004, so it was certainly possible.

So I watched the last two episodes with great earnest and sure enough, Dr. Who died. BUT, like the 9 doctors before him, he regenerated into a new, slightly younger doctor played by a different actor. Somehow I misheard or was misled into believing that the Dr. was dying when really it was just David Tennant leaving the show. He's been a good Dr. and he'll be missed, but at least the character is still around. Yay!!!

Monday, January 04, 2010

It's Elementary

LL and I had a nice dose of Ricardo and Mrs. Ricardo over the last week. After NYE, we decided to hook up on Saturday, get pizza at Pequod's (best thin crust in Chicago) and then walked across the street to see Sherlock Holmes. The company was as good as the food and the movie!

This was only the second time that I can remember in my life that I've had to wait in line for a movie. The other time was for The Blair Witch Project, in 1999, which was only playing at a limited number of small theaters. There was not a recession evident at the movie theater or Pequod's on Saturday as both were packed. When we left the theater, there was another line for the next Holmes showing. Nicely done movie industry.

The movie was very good in my humble opinion: compelling characters, good villains, a little boy-meets-girl, great action, some thought provoking sections and a relatively unpredictable ending. Well worth $11. Then again, $11 doesn't go as far as it used to.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

So that's the end of that!

The Bears finished their season with their second straight win and another 4 touchdown game from Cutler. Not bad, but still many, many, many problems with the team. The offensive line is pretty much crap, but Chris Williams seemed to do pretty well against the Vikings, so maybe there's hope for him on the blind side yet. Tim Shaw on special teams is da'bomb!! I love the way that guy plays. He always seems to be making tackles and today even stripped a ball while making the tackle and just took the ball for himself. Nice. With no first or second round pick next year, there won't be too many big changes, but here's hoping we can grab someone in free agency that can make a difference. Until next year, Go Blackhawks!!!!

It's been a while since I gave an update on my shoulder, so I thought it would be as good a time as any. The pain in my shoulder still wakes me up at least once a night as the shoulder muscles stiffen. If I get up and move the shoulder around, the pain subsides for a bit and allows me to get another 3-4 hours of sleep. Though I could continue to take Tylenol, I'm trying not to for various reasons. Unfortunately, I can only take Ibuprofen in limited doses and irregularly and it's my preferred anti-inflammatory.

The mobility in my shoulder improves every day, though the strength doesn't really. The passive motion chair has about served its purpose and on Tuesday I go to my first physical therapy session. At times I wonder if I've overdone the PM chair and that's why I have pain at night. In response, I was just on the chair briefly today to try to loosen it up a bit and then iced it twice. Hopefully tonight will be a sounder night's sleep, but I'm not too hopeful.

All in all though, as I approach the 4 week mark after surgery, I haven't worn my sling for almost two weeks and can raise my right arm much higher than I would have thought. So I have to think I'm definitely ahead of schedule and am looking forward to some hands on PT.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!!! 2010 Version

I hope everyone had a great and safe NYE! Last night we ended up at Ricardo's after some scheduling mishaps, but all was better than fine as Bill the Bear and Manual Labor Mike joined us (as well as Mrs. MLM, though Mrs. BTB was sick). We had good fun with lots of food and drink. With not a cloud in the sky, we were able to see the blue moon clearly (and were drinking Blue Moon and Full Moon beer by the way), but the temperatures dropped quick and far without cloud cover. Brrrrrrr.

For the new year I bring you a big sale!!! These maple, brown sugar flavored boxes of Life Cereal are being cleared out for a huge savings of $.01!! Go get them at Jewel while you still can!!