Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Some Christmas Pics

Oh what a busy few days!! Saturday morning we had brunch with Naperville Greg and Kleveland Kim down by their house out The Bongo Room. Great food again! That was our only meal until dinner with my folks for my dad's 76th birthday at Allgauer's in Lisle. The food there was pretty good, but the soup (which I normally avoid BECAUSE of the sodium) was loaded with sodium and it wasn't inexpensive by any stretch. Mind you, it served the dual purpose of pretty good food and relatively quiet, but I think we can do better in the area. We just need to find it!!

On Sunday, LL went to wrap gifts with her family (including cousins) in Joliet while I watched the Bears game and wrapped gifts at home. On Christmas eve, after a hearty breakfast pictured below and a trip to the gym, we headed to Joliet to spend the day with LL's parents, her uncle and aunt, their daughter and her boyfriend (who is from Uzbekistan!!).

I saw this dish as a post on Facebook from Pintrest. You make a ring (or four) out of a pepper and cook an egg inside of it. The pepper acts like an egg ring of sorts, but it's edible! We decided to throw it on an English muffin with some cheese and had some Bob Evans links with it. Awesome.

Last year we went to LL's church in Joliet, she's Presbyterian, so this year we went to my church.  Being pretty worn out from the day and the last two weeks really, we opted to get up in the morning for church instead of going to midnight mass, which actually starts at midnight at my church as opposed to ending at midnight; big difference.

Christmas day then, after we opened gifts to each other, we headed out to my folks to spend the day with them and my sisters and their family. The highlight of my gifts to LL is in the attached picture. It's a Joe Sutton original!! I purchased a ring from my folks which had this emerald and 6 marquis diamonds and changed the ring into this beautiful turtle necklace. LL loves turtles and loves the necklace. Pretty awesome!! I was concerned that maybe it wouldn't turn out well, but the jeweler to whom I took the ring said yeah, he could make it work and it should look pretty cool. Awesome!

 One of my many gifts, is this hardcore, work-site boom box which I plan to take to tailgating with us next year. It's got it's own roll cage!! Sweet.

And this is just a picture of me and Molly. I have no idea why I took this picture, but why not share it??

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Details, pics, useful information to follow. For now, Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crazy Eyes

In an ongoing effort to use up our FSA funds before the end of the year, I went to the optometrist today; the first time in a decade. Though I knew I needed to go for a check up, there seemed to be little reason. It seems less meaningful than a dental visit, but it really shouldn't be. So today I went and got the full battery of tests done. On top of it all, they took a picture of my eyes (with the blood vessels and all) so we have a baseline for how my eyes look physically now, when they are healthy. If there's a problem in the future, they'll be able to take another picture and tell where the changes have occurred. Good stuff.
 The problem with having your eyes dilated is that you can't focus on anything up close. Oddly enough, driving is no problem, if you have sunglasses. So at a stop sign, with no traffic around me, I snapped this picture of my pupils. They're huge! I couldn't tell if the picture was focusing on my eyes or not, but it turned out ok. Funny stuff.

I saw this sign while going to pick up LL's car from the mechanic. Seems redundant.*

*I always thought a Trojan WAS insurance. :-)

Monday, December 17, 2012


Whoa, another long drought between posts. Ugh. So tough during the holidays with everything going on. Thursday night we saw Jeff Garlin do stand up and he was okay. I found him funnier than LL did, but we both liked the theater a lot. We were in row C after having bought the $25 tickets rather late and we really were in the third row. Though we were on the side, we were so close it didn't matter. Very awesome. Good to know for future shows: neither of us had ever been to Steppenwolf!!

Friday night we had my client's, and good friend's, company party at a swank restaurant, Belly Q. Silly name right? But the place was PACKED and NOT cheap. The location is where Jordan's restaurant used to be: One Sixtyblue. Jordan actually teamed up with a chef on this Asian BBQ concept. Interesting. The food was pretty good I have to say. I had the pork chop and it had to be 3" thick, which of course led it to not being cooked as thoroughly as I like, but I survived. Afterwards, karaoke was in order! They reserved two rooms that connected so we had appetizers and drinks in one room, ate in the other and then came back to the first for karaoke. Good times. It's a smaller company, so there was maybe 25 people there or so.

Saturday morning, I drove LL to the airport (very early unfortunately) so she could go visit her sister and new nephew for a few days. On Sunday, the Bears played at home against the Packers so I couldn't join her. The rest of the day I shopped and cooked and prepared for the tailgate early Sunday morning. The weather wasn't too bad and it was fun, though most likely our last home game of the year.

LL was supposed to come home tonight, but weather has stranded her in D.C. As such, I can write my blog without being harassed about doing so. :-)  It's not her fault though, she just wants me to spend more time with her snuggling. Seems acceptable. Anyway, I'm taking advantage of the time by doing Christmas cards, finally, and wrapping some gifts (still arriving daily).

I now have four pieces of Tupperware that are not mine. Why am I randomly stealing Tupperware? I'm not. People have brought it to my tailgate, when it contains food, and then have no desire to take it home or leave right after the game instead of stopping by to continue tailgating (crazy people and their "lives"). So now I have a bag of Tupperware to return "at a later date" since it's not the cheap stuff.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas tree time

Another crazy week this week with: dinner with neighbors, infant CPR class, Season Ticket Holder Advisory Group meeting for the Bears, Jeff Garlin doing stand-up and a great client party this week. Throw in taking LL's car to get fixed and there's not much time to blog. So here are some pictures of our $17 tree from Home Depot.

The lights are red this year!! We ran out of white lights and the upstairs neighbors have a white light tree in their window. LL did a great job with the decorations.

I HAD the tree looking like this, but LL moved the Bears helmet to a lower branch.

My favorite ornament though!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart was on TV the other night. It used to be that you could watch it pretty much at anytime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but not since NBC became the sole licensee in the US to the movie. I joined the movie after George Bailey realized he was $8,000 short and was very rude to his family and daughter's teacher. He got clocked by the guy in the foreground of this picture for yelling at the teacher, this man's wife.

Shortly thereafter, George contemplates suicide and his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody A2 (Angel 2nd class), jumps in the river. You know the story.
Whenever I see this movie, I think about how the world would be different if I were never born. It's an interesting exercise. You can never figure out all of the ways you have impacted people, but I bet there are a few things you could identify.  First, if you have kids, they wouldn't exist. Would your spouse have married? Would they have been able to have kids? How about pets? Parents?

I can only think about sections of my life at a time before I normally move on to something else, maybe I have ADD, but this time I thought about my professional life. What would have been or could have been different? Well, there's that one company where I found a secret checking account used by the controller while I was an auditor. That certainly would have gone on for some time most likely. I'd like to think Morningstar's development would have been delayed by a bit at least. I hired quite a few good people there and recruited at least one person from Morton Salt who is still there and his life would be completely different, since he met his wife at Morningstar and they had triplets. The other folks I hired certainly fared better I'd like to think because of me.

The real estate agent who collected $500k in commissions (over time) for being our broker at Morningstar certainly appreciated my existence and selecting him. Similarly, the architecture firm I chose was on the verge of going out of business as it turns out and our job really helped save them. One of the owners eventually started another company, which employs about 20 people, so that's influenced by me as well! The two companies I helped turn around and sell probably would have been sold anyway, but for not as much money.

My current business partner, ESDNM, would certainly be poorer since our Chicago business wouldn't exist. And the clients I've helped here wouldn't be as well off I'd like to think.

Okay, my ADD is kicking in and as usual my thoughts turn to my personal life instead of work. LL would probably be better off without me, but she might not be pregnant!! And if she was, the baby would obviously be different than the one we are having. And of course, you wouldn't be reading this blog!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Newspaper returns

Yesterday I called the Chicago Tribune to cancel my $400 a year subscription. The longer the call went on, the more they were willing to concede on price. We finally settled on a $15 credit towards the money I "owed" for November (no way I was paying this anyway) and a rate of $130 for 6 months instead of $195. So I'm paying $.71 a day, which seems acceptable. It's certainly better than $1.10!!

Friday night was a great party with a client and included four people who came down to our wedding in Puerto Rico. It was held at a local restaurant called Sola. They serve American fare with a hint of Hawaiian goodness. Good times were had by all. It's hard for me to remember all of the people's names at the company though as I only see them once or twice a year. They know me of course, because I'm the one outsider whose name they have to remember. It's not fair. It's too fun to turn down the invite though!!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Party week!

Yes, the holidays bring about parties galore and they kicked in with full force this week. Unfortunately, ESDNM was in town as well, which meant I also had to call on clients and generally be professional during the day.  Maybe it was actually fortunate as I basically HAD to be good and not consume too much alcohol or other bad things that would hinder my ability to work.

There was a party Tuesday night, Wednesday night, tonight and tomorrow night, not to mention Saturday.  Next week our nightly schedule is dinner with neighbors, baby cpr class, Bears season ticket holder advisory group meeting at Halas Hall, going to Steppenwolf to see Jeff Garlin do stand-up and then wrap it up with a client party before LL goes to DC for a long weekend. Wow.

The first party was thrown by a bank in a building lobby. The bank was the one I recommended to two of my clients, before they were taken over by the current bank. Still, they are good folks it seems and throw a heck of a party. Lots of suits and ties, but a party in a lobby doesn't get me into a suit and tie or even a tie. ESDNM couldn't handle two nights of these events in a row, so he set up his own networking dinner and got loaded with him in a quieter environment.

Next up was our annual trip to a private club downtown for a law firm's party. For THIS party, I put on a tie, but I still shied away from a suit, which I'll save for funerals. The food and drink were very good and we even networked! One of the attorneys we knew was awesome at setting up people who could actually help each other in business. Then he would quietly dismiss himself.  What a skill. Anyway, it was good fun, but LL couldn't join me and ESDNM.

No pictures from the church party tonight, but it was fun as well. The boyfriend of our choir director used to work with me at Morningstar and we have the same hatred for a now ex-employee, Tao (yes, I have no problem mentioning him by name!), who was the primary reason both of us left. A story for another entry.

But the party introduced me to the new Beaujolais which was delicious!

And none of this has anything to do with our December calendar picture which is here on the left.

Here's the new bed our pooch Molly has claimed: my softball bag complete with jerseys and such. Molly has really aged this year, including turning 14, and doesn't jump up on her chair as easily. We've purchased little steps for her to get on the sofa and have steps on the way for her chair. Poor gal.

This was most of my dinner one night: a huge bottle of Delirium Noel, their winter brew. Pretty tasty.

Finally, happy 15th anniversary to my sister Lori and bro-in-law Steve.

Monday, December 03, 2012


In 1979, my dad won a television as part of a sales promotion. It was one of those bigger TV's with speakers at the bottom and stood about 3' high, maybe 4'. They STILL use that TV every day. Yep, 33 years later, the TV still works like a charm. It got me to thinking about the last time I had a TV go bad. The things are pretty amazing when you think about it; snatching signals from the sky and converting it to a picture. Does anybody REALLY know how these things even work anymore? How many people on the planet could actually build one and know that it's going to work? And what about creating the images that the TV decodes? Guess that's a whole other entry.

Currently I have four TV's in the house and they are all new flat screens. They replaced bulkier TV's that still worked and are currently working for my parents in their house in Naperville and up in Michigan. The technology is just crazy to me and how dependable they are. Granted, I've probably just jinxed my entire family, but after owning probably 8-10 TV's over my life, not one of them has broken down. Way to go TV industry!!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Tired tonight, post coming tomorrow.

Sorry, it was a long day of eating and drinking at the Bears game. More tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where were you 4/20/86?

Sort of a crazy topic for my post today, but there's actually a reason for it. Today while driving around listening to sports radio, the date above was mentioned as the date the Bulls took on the Celtics in the playoffs and Michael Jordan scored 63 points. He would later say it's the game that really made him feel like he belonged in the NBA and could dominate. 

In Chicago, it was a rainy, cold day. How do I know that? Because while verifying the date on Google, I came across this bit of awesomeness. While I'm writing this entry, I'm listening to the audio of the Cubs game. Tremendously awesome. I love technology. The game was suspended after 13 innings due to darkness since the Cubs didn't have lights for over 2 more years. 

So I thought about what I was doing that day, a Sunday in the second semester of my sophomore year in college. Somewhere I'm sure I have my schedule for each of my semesters, but I don't have them on hand so who knows for what I was studying.  Studying I was though I'm sure. Not being a huge basketball fan, I probably wasn't too concerned about the Bulls and I'm not sure I would have been watching the Cubs if there was studying to do. 

Just a little flashback. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

The rest of the story

Friday morning came lazily after our Turkey Bowl victory and way too much food on Thursday. What's for breakfast after Thanksgiving? Around our house it's potato pancakes made from leftover mashed potatoes from my mom and dad's homemade applesauce. Very good stuff, though not incredibly healthy.

It wasn't long after breakfast that I needed to race to the airport to pick up Joisey Ken. Fortunately he was arriving (and departing) at times of the day where traffic isn't too bad (around noonish both times). But his flight was 30 minutes early and I was barely out of my neighborhood when he said they just landed! Doh!  Isn't that the way?

After we got back home, we gathered ourselves and LL and headed back to Kuma's Corner for another great burger. This time, the waitress said it was a 2 hour wait!! She must REALLY not want me there as the waiting time escalated from 90 minutes, which was really only 45. As it turns out, we were back home in 2 hours, so her time was off again. This time though we snuck into the seats at the bar, so our wait was only about 30 minutes or so.  Even if we wanted a table though, it was nowhere near 2 hours. Anyway, the burgers were delicious again and we were very full...a theme repeated most of the weekend.

Friday night was the Party at the Punke's, the guys who sit next to me at the Bears games. They had their company party and invited us down. It's at a bowling alley and they have music and food as well as a ton of booze. The catch? It's a solid 90 minute drive to get down there to Dwight, IL. Worth the trip though. Not only did I bowl a 204 and 211, but they had the "ring of fire" again!

Here you go! The ring of fire around the horseshoe shaped bar. It really got warm in there!!

And yes, I did indeed try to get a 600 series by throwing a third game even though my thumb was swelling and my elbow hurt (I haven't bowled in a year). I just remembered my grandpap, my mom's dad, bowling well into his 70's and telling us about his most recent 600 series over the phone. This was my first legitimate chance at one (at least I think) and came up well short throwing a 159 in the third game. I missed a 7-pin spare three times, which was brutal.

By the time we got home from the Punke's, it was after midnight and we were beat. We were beat most of Saturday as well, but had to go shopping and start prepping for the Bears tailgate the next morning. But first, more potato pancakes!! Then we had some leftover chili from my last batch and just decided to stay in and have Pequod's pizza for dinner.

Sunday morning we were up at 6:30 and packing up the car to get to Soldier Field by 8 a.m. We were a few minutes late, but not too bad. Mr. Heater was out, but it was borderline whether I needed him there or not. People seemed to appreciate him. Benny Baseball and Sausage were at this game, as they are every time Ken comes to town. Great fun.
I took this panorama shot with my iphone. Not bad.

And here's the four of us in the early morning with Mr. Heater on the left, Sausage, Benny, me and Ken in the Vikings gear. I made cheesy, sausage bread again along with hogs in a blanket. Someone brought donuts and we had bacon wrapped shrimp, dates and a few figs courtesy of LL. She also made the corn muffins to go with the new batch of chili I made on Saturday. We ate it all!!!  I weighed myself when I got home and then the next morning and I lost 4 pounds over night. Ha!

The only dinner we had was leftover pumpkin cheesecake from Thanksgiving. Delicious!

Monday morning, Ken and I went to breakfast at Ann Sather at the end of the block and then I took him out to the airport to catch his noon flight. It was another great visit with Joisey Ken and he again showed up bearing gifts; this time a Bears knit hat, two Bears shirts (actually Decatur Staley shirts, the Bears predecessor) and two boxes of Pro-V1 golf balls. What a guy!!! Thanks Ken!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Part one of two for Thanksgiving

What a long week and weekend!! It's all good, but busy and included Thanksgiving as well as a Joisey Ken visit, which is part of why I haven't posted in a bit. We're beat after the Bears win today though, so while he sleeps on the sofa, I'm writing here.

The holiday weekend started with dinner at a new local establishment that specializes in Mexican fare and steaks. The steaks seemed a bit pricey and the meet I did have was a bit salty, but the plantains were fantastic, so we'll probably go back again. Wednesday was also the 21st which was our two year engage-a-versary; celebrating the day we got engaged in Vegas. After dinner we met the gang out for drinks, the gang being Ricardo and Jodi, Smitty and Beth, Bill the Bear and Nadine. They were eating there as well, but we went just for drinks, or A drink as it turned out.

The reason it was only one drink was that we had to get up early Thanksgiving morning to head out for the Turkey Bowl! The weather was nicer than last year, but there were also a LOT more people, so instead of the 7 on 7 we had last year, we had 11 on 11 with subs!! That's too many people. I played QB in the first half and threw a TD and a pick as we went into half tied at 6. In the second half, people from another game joined our game and each team probably had 4 subs each, which really was a pain. I switched to defense and got a big sack on the second to last play of regulation, but on the last play the other team threw up a prayer and it was answered to tie the game. We went into OT, playing college rules, and we won. Here's the new coach's trophy!

Thanksgiving at my parents' house was great as always! Another auction was held, but this time we couldn't open our won items until the end of the auction. An odd change, but no problem. So the bidding goes on as normal until the last gifts are won. My dad opened his first gift and it was baby shoes! Ha! Very funny. My niece opened the next gift and it was another baby item. Then my sister opened up a gift and it was another baby item. The jig was up then! ALL the gifts were baby items, except for a random stapler that's decidedly NOT a baby item, and they were all for us! It was a non-baby shower. Thanks family!! They planned and kept the whole thing secret.

So that gets us through Thursday. Tomorrow I'll cover Friday and the weekend with Joisey Ken!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend results

 It was quite the woodcutting weekend. We started off with lunch at Kuma's Corner where I opted for the original Kuma's: a great burger with an egg, bacon and cheese on it. Delicious. When we arrived at 12:30, I was told there was a 90 minute wait, but it was only 45, which was fine since it's a bar as well. Great way to start off the weekend, though we ended up scrapping our dinner plans for Friday because we were still full!

This picture was apropos for our Saturday morning as the fog outside matched the fog from our drinking Friday night.

Here's the "before" picture of the non-existent wood stacks. Guess you need to check out the other pictures to make more sense of these.
It's harder to see, but the wood piles were starting to take shape and lots of wood was being prepped. It was my hope that I would have many more pictures and do sort of a time-lapse thing, but I only took three pictures. Doh!

 And here's the finished product. Lots of wood!

The weekend was not without it's crazy events though. It started when Ricardo need the tractor jumped and was convinced that the labeling on the battery was actually backward because of an "event" a few years back where it almost blew up. So we hooked them up like he wanted.....and it melted my jumper cables. Awesome. Fortunately I had my jumper box with me that also inflates tires and acts as an outlet. I hooked it up the way I wanted to hook it up and the tractor started right away. 

That helped us in the short term as we were using the tractor to drag logs to the splitter. In this picture, Bill the Bear, on the left, drove the tractor down in the ravine and while trying to turn it around without driving it backwards over the ravine edge, hit the gas and drove it up the other side of the ravine and wrapped the wheel around a tree, which we had to cut down (you can see the stump in the foreground). Eventually we had to get friends of the neighbors who have a pick up truck (after their four wheeler couldn't do the job) to pull the tractor out of the ravine. The oil pan was damaged and all the oil drained out, so we couldn't drive it out once it was eventually straightened out. Not often that you end up treeing a tractor! We were smiling in the picture, but mostly because nothing happened to Bill. It was close as the tractor got closer and closer to a 90 degree angle. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Paperless society

Earlier this year my credit card expired and the bank diligently sent me a new one. That seemingly innocuous event caused much havoc as there are a bunch of automatic charges on my credit card that go through every month or periodically, like most people. Fortunately I keep pretty good records and making the changes wasn't too bad.

About a week ago though, I received a call from The Chicago Tribune asking for the new card number to renew my subscription. The guy on the phone was somewhat suspicious sounding though, so I said just mail me an invoice and I'll re-up through there. It was completely fine and I was just being overly cautious as I got the invoice the other day. The cost? $180 for 6 months for seven day a week delivery. That's $360 a year and almost a buck a day! Do I get $1 a day of enjoyment out of the newspaper? I really don't. Maybe I read the sports page and check out the front page, but that's about it (I do save the comics and puzzles for later).

So the decision was made to stop delivery! No more newspaper. LL and I used to do one of the puzzles and read the comics while laying in bed, but now we watch TV in bed (and are much happier since LL can fall asleep). I will miss the comics and puzzles, especially when taking airplane trips since I use them during take off and landing. I'll get over it though. It also means no more paper to recycle, which means more space in the pantry. We'll see how it goes. Subscribing online is an option and cheaper.......maybe I'll go that route eventually.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Long weekend

A little health update: I've been able to workout pretty well and run 3 miles without much pain in the neck and shoulder area. The heat, stretching and PT exercises go a long way to mitigating the herniated disc.

I'm feeling if I get a start now on buying presents for the holiday season, it will all be less stressful. Yet another day passed by though and I didn't buy any. Ugh. I really don't want to wait until after Thanksgiving to make progress. Tomorrow doesn't seem to be a promising beginning either as I'm heading up to the cabin in WI on Friday for a wood cutting weekend with Ricardo, Smitty, Bill the Bear and Markakis.

Wood cutting weekend involves two or three days of hauling fallen trees, cutting them up and then splitting them into firewood. Then the wood is stacked so it will dry before it's used next year. It's a lot of work that ends up with a sore lower back usually, some nicks, some scratches and possibly some weird other ailments. It also means lots of food and drink. The Bears game isn't until Monday night so we'll probably all stay until Monday and then drive home. Plus we are starting the weekend with lunch on Friday at Kuma's Corner, one of the best burger places in Chicago. Should be fun!

Pictures to follow I'm sure.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Where have all the giraffes gone?

Last night was the Bears game and the weather (and the result of the game) was a little rough. Tailgating started around 3:30 with JC subbing for LL. We had dinner with JC just Thursday, but he won the sub lottery.  Unfortunately, around 5:00, it started to rain and kept raining for most of the night. On top of it, the temperature started to drop during the game. It got a little uncomfortable, but not too bad. Our seats are shielded from the rain for the most part as you can see in this picture. 

The overhang shields the last two of three rows, so it's pretty nice. Nothing shields you from the cold though!! Games in December can get a bit chilly, but this year the temps have started to fall early.

The Bears lost, but they had three turnovers in the first quarter, dropped a touchdown pass, hit the upright with a field goal and lost their QB to a concussion in the first half. With all that, they lost 13-6. Ugh.

These giraffes are on the corner of the street next to our condo. They stand probably 8'-9' high and sit on a 4' cement base. Apparently they are owned by the guy who owns several of the apartment buildings in the area. Unfortunately, he just sold those buildings to another company, but that shouldn't impact the giraffes should it? They've been there for at least 20 years.

Well, we were surprised on Sunday when they came and hauled them away!! 

Now we just have the cement bases. Yech. 

On a happier note, this pretty red tree is in our backyard. Wish I could have a more lifelike shot though. Such great color.

And this disturbing image was taken at a local hardware store last week. Christmas trees!! Already!!! A little early in my opinion.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Changes afoot?

Been reading some interesting things the last few days. One of them was in regards to the passing of  marijuana legalization laws in Washington state and Colorado. By my count now, there are 16 states where it has been decriminalized to possess it (meaning you just get a civil fine) and two states where it's just flat out legal. Whatever you stance on the subject, Mexico is up in arms. At least they claim to be. They are stating they have been good partners in fighting the war on drugs being shipped to the US and now one of the very drugs they've spent a ton of money trying to prevent from being grown and shipped to the US (unsuccessfully I might add), is legal in two states and just garners a slap on the wrist in 14 others. Needless to say, they aren't happy. The recession hit Mexico too and marijuana can add billions to their economy if they reversed course.

A concern that I have is that 65% of cocaine in the US comes through the Mexico border, though it's created in Columbia. Cocaine is currently cheaper and more easily accessed than 25 years ago, so the war on drugs has pretty much failed. I just wonder what the vote will lead to in terms of our border with Mexico. Will Mexico temper their enforcement efforts on their side?

On a lighter note, LL and I went to our favorite Italian restaurant last night with our pals JC and Carol. They have a 13 month old baby and we were talking about babies a good chunk of the evening. They also offered us plenty of baby paraphernalia, which is always welcome!! And the food of course was awesome as always and we had our favorite waitress, Jenna, who is studying to get her masters in nursing and only works there one day a week. We used our Groupon, so the meal was going to be pretty inexpensive for us, but JC and Carol picked up the tab anyway! What a nice surprise. It was the first time in a while that I've had wine and boy did I feel it later on. Not so much in the sense of being drunk, but the histamines caused a sneezing fit and runny nose! Benadryl to the rescue fortunately. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Cans for Joisey

They make crap beer, but they can make a great can of water. Kudos to Anheuser-Busch.

Joisey Ken is getting back to normal after the storm cut his power out for several days. Fortunately he purchased a generator and it seemed to at least "take the edge off" the misery. They still have long lines for gas, but not as bad as they used to be. Glad you made it through Ken!!

The Chicago Bears are 7-1 but have played teams with a significant losing record when combined. The really tough team they played, the Packers, mauled them. Next Sunday night they take on Houston at home in a huge, nationally televised game. Can't wait!!

Friday was our 20 week ultrasound, though now we're at 21 weeks. Here's a pic of our baby girl!! I have some videos too, but they wouldn't load. Her tiny little hands are up by her face already. She was a bit camera shy and was doing her best to hide from the ultrasound.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Softball in November?

Yes, I played softball this weekend. Yes, for most of the day the temperature was at or below 44 degrees, mostly below. We were out there for batting practice at 1:30 and we finished up around 9:30. It was an hour plus away, in Waukegan, so I was gone from noon until almost 11 pm. Mr. Heater was out in force to help us warm up a bit in between innings and save the people on the bench from frostbite. It was indeed the last tournament of the year for us, the world series for a new organization called GSL, Global Softball League. Different rules than other organizations of course, but the only thing that really impacts me is the pitch height: 5'-10'. Pitchers generally pitch to the lower end of the height limit which I like, but most hitters don't. When the pitches come in higher and slow, I tend to get my weight going forward too soon and am just swinging with my arms. I know it happens, but it's tough to correct. The tournament before Halloween when I hit so poorly was a 6'-12' tournament which really threw me off and led to a 5-18 hitting performance. Ugh.

Saturday's games started off similarly with me going 1-3 in the first game and only hitting the ball hard once. Not good. The second game I was 1-2 before being pinch hit for in a game we lost. So when the third game came around, I needed to show some improvement. The game was tight and the 7th and final inning rolled around with us trailing 14-13.  Up to that point I was 1-3 and had hit the ball hard once and walked. We tied the game up and then had runners on first and second with two outs and I was on deck. The batter before me walked to load the bases. Dramatic huh? Since the pitcher walked that last batter, I was taking a strike before I would swing. We start with a 1-1 count and he threw ball two first. Then strike two. Now I was swinging if it was a good pitch, and it was. I laced a single to right field and knocked in two runs. That's all we would score, but we held them in the 7th to win 16-14. Felt good to end the season with a game winning hit!! Or almost end the season as we played another game and got shellacked. Still, it was a good memory after some not so good hitting.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Shower thinking

At some point last night I heard that W. Bush won the election against Gore by "stealing Florida". I'm not sure if it was a setup for a joke or what, but it didn't really register with me, or so I thought. This morning while in the shower, where I do my best thinking even though oddly it's before I have coffee, the thought popped up in my head again: Bush stole Florida. Here's what went through my head:

How did Bush steal Florida? Well there was that dangling chad issue. And all those elderly Jewish voters in that one district that were confused and voted for Buchanon of all people. The courts decided the election, probably because it was getting close to inauguration and then who knows what would have happened. Jeb Bush was governor of Florida, so it wouldn't surprise me if he purposefully made the ballot confusing. Those Bushes....Sr., W. and Jeb. Why didn't Jeb run for office? Maybe too many skeletons in his closet. More than W. though? That clown was drunk and on cocaine for the entirety of his 30's! He ran an oil company and couldn't find oil in Texas! He owned and ran a baseball team under monopoly protection and LOST money! I wonder how the Kane County Cougars got so close in proximity to our baseball team in Chicago when there's monopoly protection? Shouldn't Chicago have two baseball teams like New York.......oh wait, we do. That's silly. How did I forget that?? 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Delayed post

I started this post on Tuesday and then all heck broke loose with work and other things. One of those things was going over to Pam's new apartment (LL's good friend who just moved into town and took LL's old job) for dinner on Wednesday night. While Pam cooked dinner and talked work with LL, I was to put together an IKEA TV stand with drawers. The only thing I dislike more than IKEA furniture is putting together IKEA furniture. But Pam is less than 5' tall and weighs about 75 pounds, so it was a pretty daunting task, plus she said she had a hammer (which is almost never needed with IKEA furniture) so I was afraid she was going to hurt someone or trash the stand.  So I put it together pretty well, one screw up which happened in step 4 of the 30 steps so retracing was out of the question. It was more of a cosmetic issue so Pam was fine with it. By the time we got home, around 10, we were ready to hit the sack.

Do you remember Mr. Taco?  It opened up around the corner in what used to be an Italian restaurant last and a Einstein Bagel before that. We've eaten there several times and the food isn't bad for fast food Mexican.

Yeah, they closed up shop this week. Ugh.  Not sure what's going in there next. Hopefully something.

On another taco note, did you get your free taco on Tuesday from Taco Bell? They gave them away because someone stole a base during the World Series. The taco shell is made out of Doritos and it was pretty tasty actually. First time I've ever had one.

Here's a sculpture that sits outside of a marina and is entitled Windsurfer. Doesn't it look like a boat that's sinking? Just seems odd to point outside a marina!!

I shot this video off of Belmont Harbor on Tuesday during the rage of hurricane Sandy. Pretty crazy. The spray of water would get 30, 40 sometimes 50' high and go 75 yards down the water's edge. Pretty awesome to see, but very, very cold. I had to have my winter coat on with gloves and a wool hat!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Businesses I want no part of

First I want to post this picture from the Monday night Bears game. It's great because it encapsules a ritual that we have at my tailgates: the grill stand race. In this race (Sausage against Benny Baseball), the participants each have to completely lower one leg of the stand before the other person. Seems easy, but it's harder than you think.  This was a qualifying race to see who would get to race me at the next game when the three of us are there which is in two weeks on Sunday night. Should be fun!

So I've been thinking about this next topic for a while: businesses that I want nothing to do with. Mostly I don't want any investment in them because they are going away completely or mostly. For your consideration I present: Businesses that Suck to be in.

1) Pay phone manufacturers. I'm not even sure who does this, but you KNOW someone still does and it's a crappy business that will go away. Heck, I wouldn't even want to be in the handset business. Those are going away as well.  Everyone has a cell phone.

2) Watches. I'm sorry you watch wearers, but you are a dying breed. Women may wear them for a bit for the jewelry aspect, but even those are going to be fewer and fewer. There's just no need. Again, cell phones.

3) PC's. Specifically desktop PC's. Their sales are already down this year and the need continues to slow as, again, cell phones do more and more. Then through in a tablet here and there and you really don't need a PC at home much anymore. Maybe for a while still, but your definitely investing on the down slope if you buy into these companies.

4) Newspapers and magazines. Yeah, couldn't be more obvious right?  At least with the newspaper part of it.  But what about magazines? Newsweek just stopped printing their magazine and went solely digital. That's going to happen more and more. Newspapers are already consolidating and going under and the trend is going to continue.

5) Cigarettes. I have no problem investing in these companies and collecting the dividends, or at least I did about 10 years ago.  Now though, with the anti-smoking campaigns, sin taxes even foreign countries starting to ban cigarettes in public places, this is an industry in trouble going forward.

Those are a few, but I feel like I'm forgetting some. Thoughts?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's never too late to learn

However it does seem like it's too late to learn to blog on a regular basis! I have been in a serious blog writing void. Not sure why to tell you the truth. Yes, I'm busy, but I've been busy over the years and have never been this bad at updating. Oh well. I'll just try to do better.

Today was another Bears game, a short week after the Monday night game, and the game was at noon which meant we were at the parking deck at 8. LL did not feel like she could enjoy herself over an 8+ hour period while fighting off nausea and the cold weather. As she has been feeling nauseous over the last few weeks and getting along in the pregnancy (20 weeks today), I realized I was going to have to find alternate company to the Bears games. But who? And what if LL actually got over the nausea and is fine to go to the game? Substitutes were definitely needed, but they had to be last minute substitutes potentially. Markakis filled this role for me last year quite admirably, for at least two games, but I wanted to spread around the invites this year so I sent out emails to 9 friends and asked if they were interested in being on the list to be a last minute sub. Eight of them said yes, which led to another problem: how do I choose? To the internet! 

It's amazingly easy to find a random number generator on the web, so I gave each friend a number and ran the program. It spat out Ricardo as the first candidate. Unfortunately for Ricardo though, he was going to be in Wisconsin at his cabin this weekend. On to number 2! And the winner was: Markakis! Too funny. And as an added surprise, Benny Baseball and George bought tickets from E-Money and joined the shindig today. Here's the pic!

That's Benny Baseball, George, me, Markakis, E-Money, Dougie Jr. and Jonathan (his brother) with John in the background there in the gray hat. Good times!

Part of the good times was due to the booze of course, but it was also the food. Today, since we were there early in the morning, I went with the Hogs in a Blanket (sausage links wrapped in a croissant), cheesy-sausage-bread (recipe from Blind Mender's mom) and the traditional egg McMuffin like sandwich. Good stuff for the morning, especially when mixed with hot cider and rum. It was my first time making the bread and I had to cut down the recipe (to only a third of the batch) to make it more manageable for the tailgate. One pack of sausages (14) for the Hogs worked out perfect as well. I mention the numbers because I'll probably forget next year! For after the game, it was bacon wrapped dates and figs (one pack of bacon worth only) and then hamburgers. 

One of the guests brought jalapenos stuffed with chorizo and cheese and wrapped in bacon. They were awesome, but they gave me the hiccups! How crazy is that? Apparently not crazy at all. So that was something else I learned (in addition to making the bread for the first time). In addition to those things, I realized that I could clean my grill more easily if I brought my metal brush scrubber from home that I use on my big grill and clean the portable grill's grates while they were hot. It worked like a charm! Cleanup was sooooo much easier! Forty-six and still learning!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MNF Bears!

In an effort to not miss a crap load of days in my blog again, I submit the following: BEARS!!!!

My last post was Monday and I have no idea how I had time to post it. Work was busy including a 90 minute conference call around lunch and then off to the Bears tailgate at 3. The tailgating started at 3:30 and I was the first of our group to get there. The day and evening threatened rain with a relatively warm and humid outlook. It's the kind of warm and humid that you just KNOW in the fall is going to turn into rain and cold at some point. We were lucky though and except for a brief drizzle during the game (our seats are out of the rain so we didn't even notice it at first) there was no rain until we were on our way home 8 hours later.

It was great fun as it was an Andy (aka Sausage) and Benny Baseball game. They buy half the season from me for my two extra seats and it's always fun when they come out (which is why I sell to them!). E-Money (Eric) also was there though along with his girlfriend Little-E (Erica). Since LL was in New Orleans still, I invited one of my clients, Tom, to join me. He came down for the wedding as well. Some of Eric's work mates also made an appearance and of course we were next to our buddies the Punke's and across the aisle from Gar and his posse (literally 20 people).

A mini-highlight of the pre-game was when the Bears Chairman of the Board, George McCaskey, walked by and I flagged him down. Of course he didn't remember me (even though we've met three or four times, I can totally relate to not remembering names!) but stopped and chatted for a bit as I re-introduced him to Punke Sr. whom he had met before as well. It was a fun little break and I didn't make an ass of myself, which is always possible! George was just out taking a walk through the Waldron Deck and into the South Lot and then back. Sounded like he does it for a lot of the games, so maybe we'll see him again!

The food of choice this time was chili, the first appearance of the year. It was all the first appearance of bacon wrapped shrimp, dates and figs. Good eating! And good drinking, which had to happen outside because INSIDE they allowed Miller to buy out the beer rights. Yeah, Miller. Ugh. So no more Sam Adams inside the stadium. Crap. They do have Leinenkugels Oktoberfest though, which wasn't awful. Actually it was even good, but not REALLY good. That's probably for the best anyway though. Nobody wants me looking like this before I head home:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Missed posts!

Wow, what has happened to my posting?? Crazy. Sorry, I need to be better.

LL's been out of town since Friday in New Orleans for a conference and I played softball all weekend, though not very least hitting. It was a different style of pitching than we played all year and my timing was off. While I played well on defense, it was my worst outing in memory on offense.

The highlight of the weekend was a visit from Naperville Greg and Kleveland Kim on Saturday night (Sweetest Day of all days). They were in the neighborhood and gave me a call to go out to dinner. Actually, I think they wanted to go out to dinner with LL, but she was gone so they took what they could get! We went to a restaurant called Deleece on Clark and enjoyed, among other things, lobster mac and cheese. Yes, it was as good as it sounds!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A little less pain

Yesterday I went to the gym again and went through my normal routine: 2 ibuprofen, 10 minutes in the dry sauna laying on my back, shooting some baskets or throwing a 10 pound ball up in the air and catching it, then stretching on a foam roll for 2-4 minutes before lifting some weights and doing exercises prescribed by my physical therapist. It has done wonders for the pain from my herniated disc. I guess the two weeks I went without going to the gym is what contributed to much of my pain. It wasn't all my fault though as I was supporting Ricardo every afternoon in his court case. Totally worth it.

It may be a little boring to read, but it's important for me to keep track of my health here on my blog. At least I'll be able to go back and reference something.

Time for pictures!

On Friday and through Sunday, we had Pam visiting us. As I think I mentioned, she moved up here from Carbondale and was getting set up in her apartment but didn't even have a bed yet! So she stayed with us while getting some things done and before her trip to Geneva Switzerland for work on Tuesday.  Minnie is the woman on LL and is one of the owners of Rollapalooza. We love Minnie!

Then Saturday morning we went to the Bongo Room in the south Loop to have breakfast with Pam's brother. I don't think my pictures do these serving sizes justice. I had a chorizo omelet that was delicious.....

 .....and Pam and her brother had these pancakes. That's white chocolate and blueberry sauce on one and white chocolate with caramel sauce on the other. That was just too much sugar for us, but we did our fair share of sampling!

Last year, LL's mom made a calendar of wedding pictures for us and it's been a nice reminder of our fantastic week every month! Here are October's pictures. My folks, sister and brother in law are the top pic, LL's aunt, uncle and cousins are the bottom left and our friends from Ann Arbor (who just visited two weeks ago!) are the lower right.

Here's another Halas Hall picture. We had another season ticket holder advisory group meeting at the Bears HQ. As usual, it was pretty productive and I think they got a lot of value out of our contributions.

We meet in the special teams room, which is pretty interesting. All sorts of boards and stats line the room. I decided to take some pictures this time.

This is an Offensive Game Goals board. Interesting.

Here's a special teams board which I think delineates good tackles or plays for loss. All the ones in the endzone are of the kicker, Gould, for when he kicks it out of the endzone.

Crap, I didn't get a title for this one. Oh, I think it might be a summary of the board above.

During the meeting we got to see a bunch of the new add campaigns going on. This was our favorite as a group and my personal favorite as well, so much so that it's my computer wallpaper now!