Monday, February 28, 2011

Soooo sore

Boy, I thought I was sore yesterday (and I was), but today it's a little worse and the plane ride didn't do anything to help. Oddly, my shins hurt a bit and so does the arch on my left foot. It's the first time that I can remember for those two things.

While we want to go to AZ and play games and win, six in one day and five in a row without a break starting at 8:00 a.m. is a bit much. Fortunately it was overcast all day so we didn't have to deal with sunburn or severe dehydration.
This pic is of the sunrise. Yeah, sunRISE. Ugh.

My entry from Saturday summed up the softball day, 4-2 with one hour off over a seven hour span. After starting 6-6, I went 5-14 to hit .550 on the day. In the last game the shortstop made a nice play on a ball I hit up the middle otherwise I would have hit .600, which is sort of a benchmark for me. Not bad for the first tournament of the year.

Thursday and Friday we went golfing though and played a course on Friday called The Stadium, which is a TPC course and where they held a pro tournament just three weeks ago. Here's a look at the famous Stadium Hole par 3.

I guess it takes 2 months plus to take down the stands that encircle the hole. Pretty cool.

I really liked the little cactus. Cacti? The little spikey things.

Here I am on the picturesque par 5 15th hole. It was a great weather day and a beautiful course. The temps were in the 60's, so I opted for a long sleeve shirt under my golf shirt.

This rock is famously called Tiger's Rock. His ball was behind the rock and he solicited the help of the gallery to dig it up and move it. They have since changed the rules on moving "loose impediments" to limit it to you and your caddy.

Look at this beautiful fairway and hole!

I just thought this was a cool picture.

The very nice sunset.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Long day of softball

Since I'm traveling tomorrow and I don't get in until 10:00, I thought I'd post today.

It was an early, but fun day. We were one of two games at 8:00 in the 19 team tournament. Clearly the early start hurt us as we were down 14-5 after 3 innings. The GOOD news was that for the first game I was 4-4 with three runs scored and two RBI (2 of the first 5). After the slow start though we came back hard but ended up losing 19-18 and had the tying run on third base. Ugh. So close. That meant we were going to have to play something like 10 games during the day to win it all. Tough task.

We made a good run though by winning the next 4 games, 18-0, 14-12, 19-16, and 16-11. We played and beat teams from Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque and I'm not sure where the other team was from. Then we played a team from Illinois who is in the same weekly league and we lost 14-7. For the day I hit .550 and made some nice plays at first. One play was on a foul ball by the dugout in which I slid and made the grab just before the dugout fence. That got quite a few "attaboys" from the guys.

Six games anytime of the year is a long day, but it's especially tough in February when we haven't played a tournament yet or even league play! The team we lost to in the first game was from Phoenix and already played in two tournaments plus play every week on the fields we were playing on.

Still, all in all it was a great trip. Two fun rounds of golf and six games of softball. For someone who had a nasty back spasm last Sunday and had two trips to the chiropractor and masseuse just to get ready to play, I can't complain.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What a day

The morning alarm came ungodly early today: 5:00 a.m. The early hour was compounded by my lack of sleep, even though I went to bed at a relatively early hour (before 11). Just tossing and turning and thinking about getting up early and did I have everything or not. Ugh.

So I got up at 5 and was ready to leave the house by 5:30. LL was awesome enough to drive me to Midway. She's unbelievable!! That's why I love her.....or at least one of the reasons. My 7:15 flight to Phoenix left a little late and we got into Phoenix a little late, but overall a fairly painless trip.....oh yeah, except for the absolutely AWFUL movie I rented from Redbox and watched: Machete. You may think it was a hacker type movie, which it was, but it starred the likes of: Robert De Niro, Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson and Lindsay Lohan. Seriously! And the movie SUCKED!! You can see why I thought it would be worth a dollar though.

Brian the Pollack picked me up at the airport (he took an earlier flight so while I was arriving he went and rented our car). We headed straight to the golf course, thanks to me changing into my golf attire while waiting for my bags. The course, like most of Arizona, was pretty dry except for the fairways but played really nicely. We really enjoyed the course and ended up playing with a guy from Chicago and in fact near where Brian lives! Weird coincidence.

Not only was it my first round of the year, but I was also trying out three new clubs and a new putting stroke. Though I struggled with the distances on the clubs, my putting stroke, courtesy of a Phil Mickelson instructional DVD, was working really well. On the back nine holes, I only had 13 putts on my way to four over par. The front nine was more of a struggle, but it was mostly my new clubs going a lot further than I was expecting. It was a fun round and I shot 85 while Brian shot 87.

Tomorrow is a TPC course called The Stadium. The pros held a tournament there just last month, at least I think it was last month....well, recently at least.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting Better

Sorry about missing yesterday. Not much to report unless you're interested in my use of tissue and the products with which I fill them. Yeah, it was that kind of day. After 11 hours of sleep on Monday night though, I felt a bit better this morning. The medicine for the day was 3 ibuprofens and icing my back. Oh, didn't I tell you? I hurt my back on Sunday night.

How could that possibly be? You're sick. What the heck were you doing?

Well, the team with whom I'm heading to Arizona later this week had a practice on Sunday night in a dome. The practice didn't start until about 9:45, so around 7 I sucked down some Dayquil and headed out. The Dayquil kept my symptoms under control, but unfortunately, towards the end, my back started to spasm. It was awful and I couldn't even bend down to pick up a ball. So around 11 I had to call it quits and head home. Fortunately I already had a chiropractor appointment and massage scheduled. Serendipity!!

Before my appointment in the afternoon, I took some more Dayquil because all I could think about was how my sinuses were going to be during an hour of having my face down on a massage table. Again, Dayquil came through for me! The stuff works!

After my adjustment, I sat waiting for my massage therapist. Then this guy shows up and says, "Joe?"
"Hi, I'm so and so (I don't remember his name). I'll be doing your massage today."
Um, where's Rachel?
"She doesn't work here anymore."
Now I've only had 4-5 massages in my life but they've always been by a woman. If I have a choice of someone rubbing their hands on me, I prefer it to be a woman. But I was in pain and I have a big weekend coming up with two rounds of golf and a softball tournament, so I needed relief.

Well, the long and short of it is that the guy did a great job. More than half the time was spent twisting my legs like a pretzel to stretch out my lower back in various ways. By the end of the massage my back felt great. It was a little sore this morning, but I've continued the ibuprofen and ice treatments. Wednesday I'll go back for an adjustment and probably electric stim since the masseuse is booked already.

Hopefully tonight I'll be able to sleep well again and at least my cold will be gone. First thing Thursday morning, I'm off to Phoenix!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cold has settled in

Two straight nights of little sleep for me as my cold has taken root. Ugh. Being sick sucks.

Last night though was a good night as my parents and LL's parents got to meet for the first time over dinner. We met up at White Fence Farm, a big restaurant specializing in fried chicken. Seven of us, including LL's sister, sat in a huge booth and chowed on chicken and corn fritters. Even though I was sick, my symptoms were under control with medication, so I didn't feel awful. Today though I feel much worse, probably due to another night of fitful sleep.

LL is staying out in Joliet with her folks as she goes through a weekend of wedding dress shopping. Since I've been up coughing and hacking all night, it's probably for the best. Here's hoping tomorrow brings some relief.

Friday, February 18, 2011


The changing weather caused a flare up in my allergies and gave me a sore throat which has made me feel a bit under the weather the last few days, hence the limited posts. Hopefully it will clear up today and my energy will recover this weekend.

The average temperature for all of February is about 38 degrees and we're running slightly ahead of that mark for the next few days. After a day or two in the 50's and 60's, I don't think I can go back to weather in the 20's anymore. It would just be too deflating.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Random Thoughts

The other day, just after the gym, I looked down at the odometer in my car and it said 111,333. Not significant in any other way other than an interesting number. The car continues to run well and I'm hopeful of getting another couple of years out of it, maybe to 150,000. I really like not having a car payment!!

February 4th, which was two weeks ago, has the most number of below zero days of any day all winter, at least in Chicago. Today it was 52! On February 4th here it was again close to zero, but probably closer to 10 degrees. Still, a nice two weeks which included two feet of snow!

Someone commented on Facebook about seeing a robin the other day. Some time ago I remember telling a buddy of mine that it's no big deal to see a robin in the winter because they stick around. Then I found out that they actually migrate south. Now I find out that while many migrate, many also don't. Seems kind of odd behavior for a bird. Shouldn't they do one or the other??

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

V-Day in Pictures.

Sorry about the delay in getting my post up today. Just too damn busy. Guess that's not a bad thing with this economy. Part of my being busy was due to going to softball batting practice at some cages in the suburbs (about an hour away) and a church meeting this morning at 7 a.m. That early morning meeting is only once a month and it totally messes me up. Fortunately I was able to take a 20 minute power nap which seemed to catch me up.

On to Valentine's Day pictures! We went to Yoshi's Cafe, right around the corner and where we went for our first Valentine's Day dinner.

They had a fixed price deal going where you get to choose from various dishes and dessert is included. Also included was a rose! They have them right up front and give them to the ladies (or the guy who seems the most feminine) on their way to the table. It's a nice touch.

Here's the menu. Hopefully you can click on it and get a better view. We chose the sushi and shrimp tempura as an appetizer over the Japanese dumplings under a dome of Parmesan cheese. Seemed like we made a good choice.

As an appetizer, LL chose the duck with little round potatoes like eggs in a nest of fried noodley things. Pretty cool display and it was delicious. She couldn't finish so I got some!!

I had meat and meat! Beef ribs and sirloin steak. Delicious!!! The veggies weren't really good, but they were a minor part of the dish.

And here's our dessert! Chocolate cake in a bed of raspberry sauce with a white chocolate covered strawberry. Awesome!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Christmas Card Picking 2010 version

First things first, Saturday night LL and I hit the Ditka Dome in the suburbs to collect money for the Super Bowl squares fundraiser my team had (I was the big winner!!) and to play in the dome for the first time this season (which started in November I think). Anyway, I sucked in the field, which is why I don't like playing in the dome. The lighting is awful and at third base the light is directly in your eyes so the ball is backlit which makes it look like it's in a slightly different position as it approaches you. So I didn't make a single play at third. Ugh. My shoulder held up fine and I throw with very little discomfort now.

The second batch of ribs which I made on Saturday didn't turn out quite as good as the first batch on Friday. The problem, I think, was that I put in a bit less juice on Saturday because there seemed to be too much on Friday. Why mess with it when you have something awesome? I'm not sure. They were still better than anything I've done on the grill though!!

Sunday was Christmas Card Picking Day at my parents' house. If you don't recall, this an annual event they've held since 1973. The family gathers and we vote on the best Christmas card that they received that year. Family picture cards are eliminated and usually cards with writing on the outside are eliminated. The winner receives a letter of congratulations and the card is then framed and hung on the wall at my parents' house. Yes, they have 37 or so cards hanging on the wall.

Bee, my sister, talked some smack last Monday in my blog about winning this year. As it turns out, Bee was the runner-up. My other sister has started her own competition and Bee was runner-up with a different card there as well. Always the bridesmaid.

The winner this year was the card Laura and I sent! Laura separately picked out and sent them a nice card too and it made the final 11 or so, but didn't make the cut to the final three. Since we both signed each other's names in the cards, we really had two entries. Perfectly legal by the way.

So here were the final two combatants. The card I sent is on the left, the picture of the dog. Dogs always beat deer Bee!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Now THAT'S the way to spend a Friday.

It was a pretty good day I must say. Some work was scattered through the day, as usual, but LL works from home on Friday, so those days are always better. We had a nice, high protein breakfast of eggs, a little meat, beans and cheese. The usual, but still delicious. Lunch was a high protein bar to give me enough energy for my workout, which followed in the late afternoon.

Before I left for the gym though, I prepped and started cooking a slab of ribs. It would be hard for me to tell you how good these ribs were tonight. Fall off the bone delicious and clearly the best ribs I've made by far (the track record is rather short however). The recipe I used combined three or four recipes including my mothers of all people who was hiding her recipe from me for some reason. More on the ribs later.

My trip to the gym was great because it started off with taking the buckets from someone who was trying to save their parking spot because the poor baby shoveled it out a week ago. Don't worry, I was responsible though: I put the buckets in a recycling bin down the street. Ha!

The protein breakfasts and lunches have given me some pretty good strength at the gym. Last week I bumped up my bench pressing 10 pounds on my first rep of 10 (after 5 reps at a lower weight to warm up) and 10 pounds to my second rep of 10 as well. Overall I do 35 reps and I've really gotten stronger in just a few weeks! The weight loss has come along yet, but if I have more muscle mass, the weight loss will come.

Back to the ribs. So I cooked these bad boys in the oven and cooked a sweet potato as well. The spud went along with the ribs very well. So here's the recipe:

Cut slab of ribs in half.
Apply your favorite rub (I kept the same recipe for mine).
Place each half in it's own pan (bones up to start) with enough apple juice to just cover the bottom of the pan with the ribs in it. Yes apple juice. You can use water, but I like AJ.
Cover the pan with tinfoil.
Cook for 90 minutes at 250 degrees.
Flip ribs and check fluid level in the pan.
Cook for another 90 minutes.
Flip ribs. Apply barbecue sauce liberally to the ribs.
Take off the tin foil if there's still a significant amount of liquid in the pan.
Cook for another 30 minutes but up the temperature to 300.
Flip ribs. Apply barbecue sauce liberally to the ribs.
If there is still a lot of liquid, drain some off, but not all of it.
Cook for another 30 minutes but up the temperature to 350.

That should be it! Fall off the bone deliciousness.

Now the Blackhawks are on TV!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Every once in a while I think of this song and just crack up. Today someone posted on Facebook that it was running through their head. Love it!

Today I had a business lunch downtown with a banker and made a fatal mistake: I ordered the lentil soup. See, it's freezing here so soup was a natural. And the soup was good, that's not the problem. What I failed to think about was the sodium content. Ugh. My tinnitis has been going CRAZY this afternoon because of it, to the point where I'm not motivated to work....or do much else. Sigh.

The day was jinxed from the get go as I received a call from Ricardo telling me that the heat was out in the office. That's twice this week, so a call was made to the landlord instead of just the maintenance guy. We'll see if the problem is solved, but I'm working from home tomorrow anyway.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Mad Greek

Not sure if you're a fan of Zack Galifianakis or not, but I find his dry humor absolutely hysterical. Well, I just found out that he's got a short series of internet episodes called "Between the Ferns with Zack Galifianakis". Absolutely hysterical. If have a few minutes, watch a few of these. There's nine of them I think.

It's super cold in Chicago again today with a high around 15 or something. Ugh. This evening I'm heading out to Naperville to see my folks and have an indoor softball practice, though it's mostly just batting practice. In two weeks I'm heading to Phoenix for a tournament, so the swing had to be down.

Just a short entry today. I think the cold is numbing my noggin' a bit.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Family Jewels

Not sure if you saw this video or not, but it took me by surprise. It's one of those CBS Cares commercials, for a somewhat odd topic: testicular cancer. Now, there's nothing funny about testicular cancer, but this commercial was a little over the top. When the guy says, "Why give a diamond when you can give the family jewels?" I almost lost it. There had to be a better way to deliver the message.

For her birthday, LL got one of these alarm clocks. I have to say, it's pretty damn sweet to just have to open your eyes to see what time it is. No need to turn your head or focus; it's all there on the ceiling. Now we need one that will tell us the temperature outside too!

There haven't been any signs of people trying to save their shoveled out spots with chairs or anything in my neighborhood. However, there was one woman over by my gym who did it. I parked across the street in another free spot, went over to the two spots that she saved (possibly someone else saved the other spot, I'm not sure) and I tossed away the buckets and 2x4's she used to save the spots. I've gone on record as calling this an indefensible position. Show me your permit from the city. Can I just block the street in the summer too? Where's the line drawn and what's the logic behind it? Indefensible. If you don't want to deal with shoveling snow and losing your spot, either A) get a parking spot in a lot or B) don't move your car or C) move somewhere where it doesn't snow. After my workout, I saw the woman put a bucket on the car that was parked there. My only regret was that I didn't take the buckets!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Super Bowl.....yech.

Had a fine gathering over for the Super Bowl yesterday, 15 folks altogether. There was plenty of food, but not a ton of leftovers. Plenty to drink, but less than a 12 pack left at the end of the day. Excellent! Here's a picture of the gathering with the overhead lights on so the picture would turn out. It doesn't look like I got everyone in the picture, but let's see if I point folks out: left to right, my neighbor Emily (her husband Henning was just left of the photo I think), Ricardo in the back, Smitty next to the sofa and his wife Beth next to him on the sofa, Nadine (wife of Bill the Bear) in the back and it looks like Bill was upstairs on a beer run, JC next to Beth on the sofa and his wife Carol was gone too, then Kleveland Kim and Naperville Greg on the sofa on the right. Fun times, but I'm moving slow today!

And boo Green Bay. I've said it before and said it yesterday too, Jordy Nelson is awful and if your defense can't cover him, you don't deserve to win. Aaron Rodgers was simply en fuego yesterday and for the final 6 games of the season. Just unstoppable.

Christina messed up the national anthem, the Black Eyed Peas were mediocre during halftime, the commercials were pretty uninspiring with only a few somewhat funny ones. Overall, meh.

But it all ended on a very happy note as 10 minutes after the game, someone suggested I check the squares numbers for the final score to see if any of us won. The pool is run by my softball team as a fundraiser and I think I sold the second most squares on the team and many of the people in attendance had squares. As I traced the numbers, 1 for Green Bay and 5 for Pittsburgh, I realized I had won!! $500!! Sweet. There are other squares that are winners as well and I had one of them for $200!! $700 bones!!! Laura had already won $150 on past playoff games so we did pretty well.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Snowy update

Good news!!! Finally yesterday, after I called the city 4 times for a collective 40 minutes, the car in front of our building was towed and the street was plowed! I'd like to think I had something to do with the towing, but since it happened about an hour after I called, me thinks my call was just overkill.

Better news!! After visiting the company who runs my parking lot (all three spaces in this particular "lot"), my lot was cleared of snow!! Yay!!! Unfortunately, the path to the street was NOT clear, so I bundled up, grabbed a shovel and headed out. Actually, I didn't know the lot was done, so I was going to clear that snow and then found out it was already done. Since the alley to the street wasn't done, I started working on that. Fortunately, the front loader that was clearing the lot across the street (and owned by the same people that run my lot) saw me and came over to clear the remaining snow. Nice!!

As I walked back home, I saw a neighbor and his wife clearing some snow from their driveway to the street. Since I was dressed for the job and these folks were nice, I went over and lent a hand. Interestingly enough, the husband (a big, burly guy but older) was all, "Oh no, we're fine. Almost done." But the wife kept saying,"Thank you! We'd love the help!" Too funny. They thanked me again today when I saw them. Good folks.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Old Snow

The snow thing is getting old now. My car is still stuck in it's lot and the street in front of our house still has not been plowed. A car, with Arizona license plates, is still stuck in the middle of the street, preventing the city from plowing. The side street near the parking lots has been plowed once though, so except for a 5' berm of snow on each side, it's passable. LL's lot finally was plowed so I think she can get out if need be. Not so for me though. The people responsible for the lot, and several other properties in our area including lots and buildings, were out working all day and cleared away a big lot (mine only has 3 cars in it), so I'm hopeful that I'll be freed tomorrow.

Most of the sidewalks in the area have been cleared finally so walking around isn't too much of a problem. Sunday though is the Super Bowl and since I'm having people over, I need to go get supplies. Some of the stuff I can walk for (food) but other stuff (beer) is going to be too heavy to carry....oh wait, LL can drive me. Sweet!

So did you see The Social Network? Though I thought Jessie Eisenberg did an outstanding job, I was intrigued by another character...actually two: Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, collectively the Winklevie. Turns out that the character twins were played by the same actor: Armie Hammer. Now I have to watch the movie again with my new found knowledge. One of my favorite lines was from one of the Winklevie: "I'm 6'4", 220 lbs and there's two of me." Outstanding.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

OK, this was some crazy ass snow...even for Chicago.

Yesterday I was somewhat belittling those that were running around like chicken-little's thinking the sky was falling, stocking up on food and generally panicking. My bad.

We got a shit storm!!! Yeah, it was crazy. Third worst blizzard in Chicago history. Here are just some of the pictures:

Over by my car, it was about 20" of snow. Actually on my car though, because of the wind I think, there was only about 5 1/2". The wind was sustained at about 35 with gusts up to 70. Absolutely freaking crazy. If you were in any of the multiple wind tunnels around the city, you weren't there for long. Your ass was gonna get blown over in a hurry.

In front of my house this morning. Doesn't look impressive because there isn't much reference except for the car. The snow plows STILL haven't made it down our street yet.

So this is on Lake Shore Drive. Yes THE Lake Shore Drive. In the early stages of the storm, during rush hour, a large bus (with the accordion section) jacknifed and completely blocked traffic. In a span of about 20 minutes, there were two more accidents within 6 blocks of each other. That led to these cars still being stuck on LSD today!! Yep, these picks were from noon today.

Look at this! Basically 300 plus cars and at least two buses. All of the people were running out of gas so they abandon their cars and LSD was shut down. Most of the people were taken away by the police, firemen and some warming buses that were brought into the area. Just crazy.

Tonight and tomorrow is supposed to be absolutely awful cold: negative 20's windchill. So guess what's going to happen to all of the snow? Yep, turning to ice. Yikes.

Today I dug out my car and LL's. Our parking lots aren't plowed (yes, we're in separate lots) and the street attached to the lots aren't plowed and the street attached to that street isn't plowed. But the streets attached to THAT street ARE plowed. Three degrees of separation from being able to drive our car. Ha!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Some of you already know, but Amy Freeze's contract has not been renewed by our Fox affiliate. She is going to be replaced on air buy some gal from Tampa who used to work in Chicago both at NBC and at Fox. The chief meteorologist position is being filled by a guy from Phoenix. Phoenix?? Really? How freaking hard is it do predict the weather in Phoenix? I have no related education and could get the weather right probably close to 90% of the time there. Ridiculous. Anyway, I'm wishing Amy well in her future endeavors wherever she may go. Good luck!!

We're supposed to get a crap-load of snow tonight and tomorrow and then plunging temperatures on Wednesday night and Thursday. Should make it pretty miserable, but some people are going a bit crazy and actually stocking up on supplies! LL was just at the store, in the burbs, and pretty much all of the meat has been snatched up except for some pork chops. Nice suburbanite panic. Now I'm kind of hoping it gets crazy.