Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fun Friday Night

Friday night I was supposed to do something fun with Ricardo and wife, but my buddy from Morris, Doug, got invited to a special Bears pre-draft event. They were trying to sell four suites that have available (only 4 out of 133 are available!!!), the cheapest of which goes for $125,000 a season without food or beverage. Doug has 10 seats throughout the stadium, so that's why he was included in the relatively small group of fans. As his guest, I got free parking, a Bears hat, a locker room tour, a trip around part of the field, a rally towel, two autographs and free food and drinks for the evening. Good fun!

Afterwards, I met up with the Brothers Mathews, whom I have written about in my offline blog but not on my online blog. There are four brothers, Colin, Brendan, Devin and Kiernan. All of them are successful and smart. Back in my Morningstar days, I worked with Colin and Brendan and Devin's buddy Simon is Bill the Bear's boss at Northwestern. Small world. Anyway, I met them out at around 10:30 or so at a local bar and hung with them for two hours while we caught up. Very good fun and I miss hanging with those guys.

Here are some pics!

Me on the field and Doug going into the locker room.

Me at Julius Peppers locker (I'm sure that's NOT his jersey) and Briggs and Urlacher's lockers.

Cutler and Hanie's lockers right next to each other. And the schedule still up from the last game played, the NFC Championship game against Green Bay. Very detailed.

Just a picture of the bathroom in the locker room. Interestingly enough, in a professional football team's locker room, they still have handicap stalls. Not sure how often a handicapped person gets on the football field, but whatever.

A sign on the mirror in the bathroom. Do you really need to tell people this??

Now THIS is a jacuzzi. A big walk in tub....awesome.

This is the tunnel that leads to the field that the Bears use every home game.

My seats are in this picture as taken from the field.

Doug Chowing down at the buffet in the party suite. Have another shrimp Doug!!

Here are our guests in the suite: Jim Morrisey and Keith Van Horne.

Here's Tom Thayer and the soon-to-be Chairman of the Board, George McCaskey.

Here's the Lombardi Trophy for Super Bowl XX.

The field from the 100 level. Can you see what's wrong with this picture?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Late post

The whole day was messed up for me from the start today. For some reason I slept in until 8 again and so my day started late. Contrary to popular belief, I don't actually LIKE to not be productive in the morning, but sometimes it's necessary because I stay up late. Last night however I was in bed relatively early and STILL slept in. Crap. Anyway, despite my late start I was indeed productive.

But everything was on a different time schedule: breakfast was later, lunch was later (almost 2!), the gym was at 6 (30 minute run) and dinner was at 9. Just a crazy freaking day.

Lots of wedding things going on now. LL made the flight and hotel reservations for our honeymoon (yay!). Various people are telling us whether they can or can't go and which hotel they'll be at and what days they will be there. It's an emotional roller coaster with each call! Another topic is what I'll be wearing and what my groomsmen will be wearing. Not quite sure what direction I'm going to go, but I'm making progress.

After I ran at the gym, I couldn't help but go into the weight room and try bench pressing and curling (even though studies have recently indicated you should lift weights first and then do cardio). Both exercises went well, but I'm certainly not 100% on my left side. We'll see how it goes at the therapist tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wine and SNL

Tonight, after sushi and wine, we watched last week's SNL. Maybe it was the wine, but we just could not stop laughing at the Update skit about Southwest Airlines. Maybe it's because Kleveland Kim is a flight attendant for them that made it funny....I'm not sure. Here's the full SNL Update link. The Carville skit was funny too....raised by eels....Ha!

After cooking the last two nights and staying up till midnight last night watching the Blackhawks lose in overtime, we were a bit tired today so we visited our favorite sushi shop around the corner which is BYOB. Minnie (the waitress) and Eric (the chef) always take good care of us and give us something extra either before or at the end of the meal. Tonight, again, it was these little ice cream balls that were pretty tasty.

Maybe it was the bottle of wine we split that made the SNL skits so, they were funny!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Deeper than normal thinking

This past Sunday, Easter, I said grace at our meal. With our father joining us at the table, still weak from the antibiotics, it seemed appropriate to remind those at the table about things for which we should be thankful and the blessings we have no matter the situation we seemed to be facing.

In our case, among the many blessings of employment during a recession, bountiful food and housing, we still had our father. Nobody lives forever and my parents are 75, so we need to cherish the time we have together as we all should everyday.

My church hands out little black books at the beginning of every Lenten season and there's a reading every day that talks about the history of the church or the significance of the day and then provides a portion of a reading from Holy Week, usually a least. Because of our trip to Europe, I have fallen a few days behind in the readings and last night's was the Good Friday topic of death and funerals. One thing struck me in particular. They wrote of the three stages of a Christian funeral: the wake (mourning), the service and the burial. The burial represents finality. Nothing is the same after the burial. Life for all of those who knew the deceased will never be the same.

I couldn't stop thinking about that.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Friday morning I went to the doctor's office to have them check out my left shoulder that has been causing me agony over the last two weeks, even though it's been a decreasing amount of agony. After a pretty thorough examination and no fewer than 9 x-rays, yes 9!!, it would appear that I have a pinched nerve. It should just take some anti-inflammatories (Ibuprofen), some physical therapy and made some time off of weights to let it heal. I'm hoping with a week of PT I'll be able to lift again towards the weekend....we'll see. When I called my PT office to schedule an appointment, the woman actually started chuckling at me since it seems that I'm in there every year for one thing or another. Such is the life of a somewhat athletic, aging guy.

With all of the shoulder pain while traveling, I totally missed that the hard beds in Europe actually seemed to help my lower back pain, despite all the walking around. (what is this, the old guy ailment entry??) It may not be the bed that's the problem though, it could be my sofa. While comfortable, it's relatively soft and I watch a lot of TV with LL on it. That's a tough trade-off to make though. I don't think my back hurts enough yet.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Sorry folks, not much of an entry today. It was Easter Sunday of course, so I was up early for mass at 7:45, had a few minutes at home and then headed out to Naperville. LL left early as well and went to service with her folks and came out to Naperville afterwards. Lots of good food and fun, though Pops' presence was more limited than normal due to his cycle of antibiotics. It will probably be another week or so for him to be back to normal. Still, it was great to have him home from the hospital and he did join us for both dinner and our gift auction.

Remember the gift auction? We use fake money, but when you're out of it you're done. Ma wraps a bunch of stuff that today ranged from flyswatters to ceiling fan cleaning brushes to shampoo. Good fun since you have no idea what you're bidding on. Trading is allowed after the auction, so I ended up with a fly swatter, a cookbook and a ceiling fan cleaning brush. LL got some shampoo....and some other stuff too, but I don't remember what.

Anyway, big Blackhawks game tonight at 6:30 that went into overtime and ended with a Hawks win!! They were down 3 games to 0 and have tied it at 3-3. Now we play game 7 on Tuesday in Vancouver. Should be a great game.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Final Leg, Amsterdam

After two days in Leiden we took a late afternoon train to Amsterdam where we would spend the last day and a half of our European trip. Before we could take off though, we had another test of our patience at the hotel. We called for a cab. Thirty minutes later, it hadn't arrived yet. We had just decided to cancel the cab as the free shuttle from the hotel was going to start running in 20 minutes when the cab pulled up. He wanted to grab our luggage and go, but I said wait a minute, you took so long we're deciding whether to go with you or not. After a solid minute of debating the merits, we hopped in the cab and took off. Had to make him sweat a little at least.

We bought our tickets and hopped on a train to Central Station in Amsterdam, which cost more than just going to the airport because it's further. Makes sense. Then we cabbed it from the train station to the hotel, which you wouldn't think would be meaningful except this guy was a NY cab driver in a sea of Des Moines drivers. It was fun and scary at the same time as we almost took out several bikers along the way. Amsterdam, though there are bikes a plenty, seems to have adopted bikes as an afterthought instead of planning the roads for them as we saw in Berlin and Leiden. For instance, when I got out of the cab in front of my hotel and was waiting for LL to exit, two mopeds whipped past my back at about 30 mph. WTH? There's a bike path down the middle of the sidewalk! There's pedestrian space, a bike path and then more pedestrian space! Crazy.

If you're not familiar with Amsterdam, you can visualize it in your head by starting with a train station at the north end of the town behind which is water. Emanating to the south are a series of semi-circles that have the train station at the center. Each semi-circle is accented by a canal and there's about six of them that span the semi-circle. Pretty interesting.

Anyway, we got there and instead of going straight to dinner with Alexis and Rob, we were welcomed with a private canal cruise with their friends first!! How awesome is that??It was probably 90 minutes on the canals just puttering up and down them and looking at the buildings, eating cheese, chips and drinking wine. Good stuff!! Dinner then was awesome too, in no small part due to the company but also the ostrich I had was amazing and we had not one but two PITCHERS of water with just a little bit of ice. You bet we drank all of that water too!! Good fun. Time for some pictures:

The captain and boat owner, David, his buddy to the right and Rob to the left. LL snuck in on the left as well.

Not sure what Alexis is doing in this picture....maybe skeptically considering a point Rob made. Co-boat owner, Claire(?) is on the right. Very fun folks were the boat owners!

Some typical homes along the canal. I think I liked the hooks at the top of these buildings which are used to haul stuff up through the top windows. Sweet.

A cool tower shot from the boat.

Some more canal pictures:

This was our vantage from the bar across the street from the hotel. Not bad.

A fairly typical intersection of sorts.

Not sure why, but the Europeans are big on charging you to go to the bathroom. Those that don't actually charge have a tip plate where they want you to leave money. I took this picture in a McDonald's! Yes a McDonald's!! They were charging to use the bathroom and had an attendant collecting the money. Unbelievable.

We ate these bad boys at a street market. They are olives wrapped by anchovies. Pretty damn tasty! We also had chicken satay (on a stick with peanut sauce). Good eating.

Some shout outs to my boy Benny Baseball!! Scenes from the red light district. Oh, did I not mention the red light district? We walked around there twice, once in the afternoon and once at night. The smell of cannabis is pungent as you walk the streets. This fine "coffee shop" is one of those that sells mostly pot, but maybe some coffee too.

The district gets it's name from the lights surrounding the windows that house the many prostitutes who work in the area. Here's a video that shows the area (SFW).

Businesses there either sell: women, food, pot or a bed. That's pretty much it.

Benny Baseball!! They have a hotel for you!

Ok, there are some other things sold in the red light district, like this.....T-shirt. Ha! The area is not for the feint of heart but I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Houston, we have a problem

Taking a break from my European trip to talk about real time events.

Monday night, without my knowledge, my father was admitted into the hospital ER with flu-like symptoms. Tuesday night I found out about it and I'm going to go see him tomorrow. The preliminary diagnosis was some form of pancreatitis. His pancreas enzymes were really high, which is why they kept him overnight initially. Fortunately the level has been dropping steadily so now he's mostly sleeping, so that's good.

Today I hit the gym to work out some of the stress from a router/modem completely shutting down at the office and my dad's condition. The work out was going ok until I got to the bench press. I really struggled with my warm-up weight amount and especially in my left arm. Yep, the muscle basically shut down. If you're not aware of why this happens, it's actually pretty common. If a muscle suffers some kind of trauma, the other muscles around it will shut down in order to prevent further injury. A few years ago I pulled my groin and my thigh muscles just completely shut down so I couldn't run.

Anyway, I'm off to the doctor on Friday morning to have him take a look. Ugh. Not a good week for the Sutton men!!

Tomorrow, on to Amsterdam.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This time of year, between Leiden and Amsterdam, is a big outdoor area where tulips and all sorts of other flowers are grown in groups and designs. It's pretty cool to walk around and see them all, even though probably 25-30% of the tulips hadn't opened up yet. I took a bunch of pictures so I'll just let them do the writing.

What area in The Netherlands is significant without a windmill?

These discs were pretty cool to walk on. They are really solid and don't move at all, but it's still cool to walk on them through the lagoon.

LL did not think they were as cool as I did, but she did pose for a picture before being very happy to hit dry land again. It was kind of funny because all I could think about was how it would just absolutely RUIN your day if you fell in. It was a solid 30 minute bus ride from Leiden and a little chilly.

Here are some orchids that were on display in a building on the grounds.

Here's a real tree hugger. Ha!

These tulips have sort of a rag like quality to their edges...very cool.

And this vendor was selling herring with pickles and onions either on a bun or without. With a bun thank you. And it would have been nice to have some mustard. The woman was appalled at the thought, but I'm telling you, if you had some good spicy mustard that would have been salable in the U.S.!