Thursday, May 31, 2012

Had some issues signing into my blog tonight and now it's getting late so I'm sure this will be short. Tomorrow morning I actually have to go into a client's office to work with a new accountant they hired. We'll see how it's going to work out as the guy is a college student home for the summer and they'll want him to do the work remotely when he goes back to school. Could be tough.

Anyway, it was a busy day with physical therapy again and arranging carpet cleaners to come in and clean up the pipe leak as well as organize with MLM about next steps in the master bath. I think I'll take a picture this weekend to document the process. It's going pretty well and hopefully will be done in two weeks. Next week the tiling starts in earnest. This week, not as much got done because of Memorial Day and calls from other clients of his that distracted him.

It actually feels like my left triceps is getting stronger! That's the good news. The question is will it be good enough to avoid surgery? I find out next Tuesday, as well as what rehab would be like if I did have to have surgery.

Went golfing on Wednesday night instead of Thursday with Bill the Bear and Nick Markakis. It's always fun to see them, but it's more fun when I shoot well. While I did ok for 8-9 holes, I struggled on the back nine. Not sure if I just got tired or if something else was going on (like neck irritation or something). Regardless, I wasn't able to execute some pretty basic shots and that was terribly annoying.

Softball tournament on Friday night! Single elimination though and only four teams.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pictorial post

With all the plumbing issues, I just did a phone picture dump (and added this first one) for my entry today.

Looks like this was a pretty good swing, though I'm concerned about the trajectory of the ball off the bat here. I didn't make many outs though, so it was probably a hit! Our team went 5-0 and nominated me for the all tournament team (one of four players on our team). Good stuff!

Just on a whim, I decided to take a picture of the brackets.  We are team Next, waiting for the championship game.

After the three games on Saturday, we had a team bbq over at the house where three of the players and the manager live. This was the nice little fire that we actually needed because it got a little chilly after a pretty warm day.

They also have a swimming pool and this cute as hell pooch who loves to run around the edge and then jump onto the raft! Too freaking funny.

After the games on Sunday, we showered and headed to Terry and Sandie's annual Memorial Day party.  It was awesome as always and I tried to get a picture of just SOME of the food, without even the desserts!!

I think these are the appetizers, but I'm not sure. There was soooo much food. We could only stay until 9 (that was after about 5 hours) because we were so tired from being outside for two days straight and Sunday was getting near 100 degrees. Yowza.

This picture I took just because it was such a simple, effective garden. Very pretty in it's simplicity I thought.

Here's our front yard garden. We're getting lots of people stopping by and smelling the multitude of roses.

Here's another picture of those roses and some purple flowers. Very pretty.

Finally, a progress report on the bathroom. Actually now the room is all insulated and backer board is up around the bathtub. What I like about this is that Manual Labor Mike secured all of the pipes so that don't rattle or anything crazy. The old pipes were just tossed in there.  Those two shut-off valves are pretty useless, except for when initially working on the piping, but MLM likes to use them. Tiling starts this week! Hoping to have it done the week after next I think.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Well that changes things..... I had a fine blog post scheduled for tonight, but we had....sort of a plumbing issue. Actually it was exactly a plumbing issue. Each side of our building has three main "stacks" that are pipes that run from the top floor to the main pipe that runs to the sewer. Previously, not sure how long ago now...maybe 9 months or a year, we had a stack back up. So what happens when a stack backs up is that the water will follow the path of least resistance as it backs up under pressure. In theory, if all of the pipe openings are sealed on the first and second floors (tubs, toilets, sinks) the water would back up to the third floor and come out either a sink or toilet or tub.  However, since OUR toilet and tub on the first floor are not sealed, waste water came into the master bath tub and toilet.

"But wait", you say, "you're renovating your master bath right?"  Well aren't you a smart cookie! Yes I am, however I'm not replacing the tub, so it did indeed gather some "unpleasantness". The toilet however was completely removed and was stuffed with towels, which was not enough to keep the waste from overflowing straight to the ceiling in the basement back in LL's dressing area and closets. Fortunately it hit mainly the middle of the room except for LL's travel bag. We were literally 5' away from the area that got leaked on but in the other room when it happened (by my desk). LL said she heard something like rain and we are expecting storms so I said it could be the storm hitting. Then we opened the door to the back room and panic ensued. We caught it pretty quickly and were lucky to even be home!

There were several lucky things: 1) we were home 2) we were downstairs 3) the toilet in the master bath was not hooked up; if it was, the waste would have spread all through the master bedroom instead of falling straight through to the ground floor.  So it sucks and it's dirty and it's going to cost the condo building some money to fix, but it all could have been worse.

Tomorrow, I'll get to the much happier post about the weekend and such.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Missed some posts!

Wow, sorry about that future self. Just a busy couple of days that caused me to miss some posts. Wednesday we went to dinner with an Indian friend of LL's (probably the friend of hers I like the best) at our favorite Indian place, Hema's Kitchen. It's always good food there and with the Indian guidance on hand, we tried some new dishes. Afterwards we went back to her place (she's apartment sitting for a friend for a few weeks and has since returned to her home down by St. Louis) and she made us chai tea from scratch. Good stuff and nothing like Starbuck's chai.

Thursday was physical therapy day and golf day. As I found out around the sixth hole, those two things don't mix all that well. After executing shots and playing ok, I really fell off the table and lost all control of the ball. That was unfortunate. It's always fun with Bill the Bear and Nick Markakis though.

After golf, I told the story about a mother and daughter in Punta Cana who thought I resembled Paul Giamatti. What?? How is that not an insult?  Mind you, I LIKE Giamatti, but I don't want to look like him.  Then Bill pulls out that he thinks I closer resemble Ben Stein. What?!?!? What the hell?  So now I hate Bill.

I'm at the bottom (with goatee) and on the lower right with JK Simmons next to me on the left.  Now, I'm pretty sure I don't resemble Stein and I'm hoping I'm not as puffy as Giamatti!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Surf and Turf??

So tonight I decided to make dinner since tomorrow we're going out for Indian food and Thursday I'm going golfing which means dinner on the golf course. Plus I really just had a hankering for burgers! Fortunately so did LL.  While buying the hamburger though, I decided to take a shot and buy......smelt! Yep, smelt. So I'm not sure if it counts as surf and turf since it's a fresh water fish, but I think it does.  I only bought a half pound of smelt because I wanted it to be an appetizer, but even that amount was more than we really needed. It's a good amount for 3-4 people for an appetizer though.

Cooking the smelt was pretty easy as I just followed this recipe.  They were really just delicious with a little ketchup. In the future maybe I'll have some cocktail sauce that isn't from 1999 on hand. Yeah, it was another one of THOSE finds that irritates LL and with good reason. Sigh. Speaking of LL, she really liked the smelt and was complimentary of me and my ability to experiment, but really it's only because she's willing to try things like this that allow me to cook them.  It's all good.

I also tried a new technique when cooking the hamburgers.  As a veteran Wendy's grill man of two years+, I know how to cook burgers, but the grills they use are flat and not like your grill at home. Some of my skills and ideas about cooking them have been influenced by flat grilling, despite owning a normal grill for 15 years. So today I decided to research what the experts say and just do it that way. You know what?  The burgers turned out pretty damn good.  The two changes were: after forming the patty, make an indentation in the top of the patties. This indentation will keep the burger from bloating up and becoming a "meat ball" of sorts. The second thing was to only flip the burgers once and no pressing.  Because of the indentation, the temptation to press was greatly reduced.  I only flipped them once, after about 5 minutes, and then actually checked the internal temperature to make sure they were done. Good stuff. You're never too old to learn!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Productive Sunday

With the long day of softball on Saturday, Sunday had little chance of being productive. I didn't get to bed until 2 and the hour plus drive home didn't relax me enough to get to sleep before 3. Still, I was up before 9.  So maybe I was just running on adrenaline still, but boy did I get a lot accomplished during the day.

It started off with cooking breakfast (an omelet for me and scrambled eggs for LL) and was followed up with:
   -getting DirecTv synced up after one of the DVR's wasn't being recognized
   -washed my filthy softball uniform
   -paid my bills and condo bills (I'm the treasurer)
   -bought new sunglasses
   -bought new t-shirts
   -rented a movie to watch later
   -changed the filter on the Shop-Vac
   -bagged up and took out the recycling
   -did my therapy exercises
   -put away a bunch of things that gathered by the pool table
   -ironed two shirts
   -took apart and fixed my car's remote starter
   -made caramelized plantains for desert after LL made a great dinner.

Not a bad day!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Long Day of Softball

Had a really long  Saturday playing softball. Our team was in Kankakee, which is about 90 minutes away and our first game was at 1:00....or at least it was SCHEDULED for 1:00.  We had batting practice at 11:30 so I had to leave at 10. Everything was fine until we got to the fields and found out our field was delayed about 2 hours!! Crazy. I also noticed that while I thought our last game would be at either 4:30 or 5, it turns out that if we were to lose either of the first two games, we would play at 9 or 9:30. Yikes. What REALLY happened was that we didn't play until after 3, lost that game and then played on another field at about 4:45.  We won that game and then had a break scheduled until 9:30, but we really didn't play until almost 11!!  That last game ended at 12:00 or so, which means I didn't get home until 1:30 a.m. and not to bed until 2.  Since we lost our last game, I didn't have to get up Sunday morning, but if we had won it, our next game was at 10 a.m. Ugh. That would have been tough to make.

So this tournament was an NSA tournament which has slightly different rules that favor the hitters and is the organization with which our team struggles. We do much better at USSSA, which we have coming up next weekend.

How did the herniated disc hold up? Pretty well. It doesn't impact my swing much, other than that without the injury, my swing would be better due to the strength I had built up during the off season. Still, my OBA was .777 (7-9). Interestingly, I came up with the bases loaded three times in the first game and was 2-3, but we still lost.

As you know, our team is the merger of two teams from last year. The season is still young, but players from my team last year are becoming a bit unhappy with the arguing and intensity with which some members of the other part of the team play/manage. To explain, we have generally played with intensity, but we try not to get too out of hand when the umps blow a call or the other team is doing something illegal. We'll certainly voice our opinion, but if it doesn't go our way, we drop it and move on. What can you do really?  Well, apparently you can continue to harp on it for the rest of the game, goad the other team/umps and generally act like babies. We don't want to be known for whining and complaining.  That's just not the way to play.  The length of the day didn't help, but it's a trend that needs to be nipped, or we may be looking for another merging partner next year!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Second opinions

Yesterday I went to Northwestern Medical Center for a second opinion from a cervical spine specialist. Unfortunately, he confirmed the original diagnosis of a herniated disc. More importantly, and unfortunately, he also confirmed that if there is not significant strengthening of my triceps muscle in relatively short order, I'll need to have surgery to repair the disc or there could be permanent damage to the affected areas of the nerve. Ugh.  The surgery is relatively uncomplicated and I would go home that day, but the recovery process would eliminate golf and softball for the rest of the year. So, I'm going to re-double my PT efforts at home to work on getting better over the next few weeks. We'll see.

Ugh, that's all I can write about today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bathroom pictures

More pictures!! I wanted to document the before and after pictures of our master bath renovation, though more will come as I document the work being done as well. Hopefully you get some sense of the scope of the renovation.

Here's the "before demo" pic. This bathroom was last renovated in the '70's and it looks like it!  Since no one other than LL and I, would see this room, we made it the last one to actually tackle.

Boy am I happy to see this tile go. As you can see, I had started tearing it up before remembering to take pictures!
So here is the corner above the vanity and the pink outline is where the medicine cabinet is in the picture above. Down to the studs!

And this is where the vanity was, just below the medicine cabinet.

This picture is of the wall next to the tub, which we are not replacing. It's fine, so why bother? As in the guest shower, we're putting in permanent shelves (really a niche) in the wall so you don't have to hang anything from the shower head. The shelves are 17" wide by 12" tall.

Here's the shower piping. It's going to be raised about a foot or two. I like having the shower head higher and it has worked well in the guest bathroom.

That's it for now. More pictures as progress is being made.

Monday, May 14, 2012

More Pics

What a busy last week it's been....although I guess a week ago we were in the Dominican still and I was maybe it's only been a busy last five days.

What's going on?  Well there's the bathroom renovation for one. Here's a picture of what we bought Sunday, it includes: a vanity, medicine cabinet, storage shelves, vanity top and three faucets (needed one for the kitchen too). Unfortunately the vanity was in one piece and didn't fit in the car, so Manual Labor Mike had to go pick it up in his Jeep on today.

Guess I could have just looked at this picture and realized it wasn't all going to fit into the car!

No matter how busy you are, you have to stop and smell the flowers...or at least take a picture of them. This one was in our front yard.

This is my dad and my mom's sister out to dinner last Thursday. My Mother's Day gift was picking up my aunt and uncle and driving them from downtown to Naperville, during rush hour....90 minutes. Ugh.

My very happy mom and my uncle. She really was happy that the whole family could get together before they left town.

How about some more Dominican pictures??  This pic was on the beach. Soooooo nice.

Our last day was spent with this view: under a cabana with a view of the pool. Ahhh, the blue sky.

Here's a great golf course shot. This is the round that I played well, hitting 12 of 14 fairways.

LL underneath the MOON light. Yep, that's the moon! It was that bright moon night last week.

This didn't turn out great, but it was cool glass pieces hanging from a tree in the Asian restaurant.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Wow, sorry to my future self for not posting over the last few days. It really has been crazy busy since returning from the Dominican. There always seems to be something to do and yesterday I had a crazy long list of to-do's, all of which were accomplished and then some. I still have to run our snorkel stuff to the storage unit and iron my cabana wear (Seinfeld reference for those familiar).

With the bathroom renovation going on, there's always SOMETHING to do; it's just a matter of where it is in the priority list. I'll upload some pictures of the demolished room so there's a before reference point. We're down to the studs for the most part and the tile is up off the floor. Today we're going to try and find a good vanity/shelving/mirror combo. Normally I'd have this picked out before I start demo, but this time we have to use standard sized pieces and don't have much leeway in that regard, so it shouldn't be tough to find something we like, plus we have a color scheme to go off of from the guest bathroom that isn't far away.

So my herniated disc is still a problem. It's been 10 weeks since the injury, so I should be significantly better and while I feel like I am better, I'm not back 100%.  My left arm is still weak, though I am just starting to be able to do push-ups again.  Still, it feels sometimes like some muscles in my arm and chest are going out of place and overlapping other muscles when I make certain motions. That can't be good right? Well, it is what is and I imagine some of the muscles have atrophied while muscles next to them have not and the size difference causes issues. Normally you'd grow or shrink at relatively the same pace. However the muscles controlled by this particular nerve have been relatively inactive for almost 3 months as they haven't been engaged very much (except for my PT sessions). I'll know I'm getting better when that is no longer the case.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Safely home!

Long day. Very tired. Home safely though. More tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Technology vacation

Our last day in Punta Cana has arrived. It's sad, but going home is always great too, if you have a great home life! This trip, more than anything, showed we can travel and still have a fair amount of internet connection and electronic fun. It's sounds a bit weird I guess, but really, we enjoy the heck out of our life at home, so traveling can be fun, but still needs to alllow for some of the basics in our electronic life to keep us happy. For instance, with our iPhones, we can use FaceTime to call friends and not only talk to them, but show them our surroundings. With Sling Box, we can watch our TV at home, even down on the beach like we did last night. How cool is that? With our iPads, we can also use FaceTime, more easily check emails and write blogs as well as play games for entertainment. It's a great time to be alive and not afraid of technology (or looking stupid trying to use it!). I tell ya, being able to stay connected electronically like this is going to make traveling in the future even more palatable to me. A final comment on the Dreams chain down here: they have it right. They know what they are doing. They are constantly lookng for feedback and by they I mean almost all of the employees. If you tell them something is bothering you or didn't go right, they fix it or make note of it to fix it asap. We told a host at breakfast that our dinner the night before wasn't great because our server was gumpy, and he made a note of the time and the restaurant and booked us at the place of our choice for that night right there. I messed up the combo to our safe and couldn't open it and the security guy was waiting for me outside our room less than5 minutes later. He beat me back to the room from 200 yards away!! Almost all of the staff is very friendly and happy, and it makes a difference! So if you're going to the Caribbean, you have my recommendation that your Dreams Resort stay will be as good as any other place in that locale.

Friday, May 04, 2012


Hello again from the Dominican!  The mornings here have been awesome (posted a few pics on Facebook but harder to get them to the blog), while the afternoons have brought clouds and rain (except for today).  It's probably for the best in some sort of responsible way, as it gets us out of the sun during what would be the most devastating time of day. As it is, we mostly stay in the palm tree provided partial shade with the sea breeze blowing on us while we either read or play word games on our phones (Word W.E.L.D. is our current addiction). It's tough to start drinking booze in the morning, but somehow we manage.

They have shows and things in the evenings here and even a casino, but the first few nights we've opted for retiring to the room early and watching our TV. Not THE television. OUR television. Our television at home! That's right, through the wonders of modern internet connections, we're able to watch either live or recorded shows from our TV at home. It's outstanding. It would be better if we were somewhere with a slightly more robust internet connection, but it still is pretty amazing. The channels they get down here are pretty lame...ok, not lame, but in Spanish, so a rainy afternoon or being tired and going to the room would be not great for us normally.  But on Tuesday before we left, I headed to the store and bought a Sling Box. You hook it up to your DVR and the internet and BAM! You can access your own TV, your own recorded shows, from anywhere. Awesome!  A little remote control pops up on your screen just like you have at home (the exact model!) and you control the DVR with a very slight delay (due to the internet here I'm sure).  It's pretty freaking awesome. We'll hook it up now anytime we travel. Even if we travel separately, we'll be able to watch the same show at the same time and use FaceTime at the same time and it will be like we're watching together. Good stuff!

We paid up (a little in retrospect) for the "preferred" guest package. If you ever come to Mexico or the Caribbean and are faced with this decision, do it!! Twice now we've done it and couldn't imagine how we wouldn't. Here the membership gives you free wifi anywhere, which is like $25 a day without the membership. That alone more than covers the initial outlay. Plus we have our own pool, computers to use and bartender. Not to mention we get to have breakfast and lunch away from the commoners. Excellent!!

Hey, I'm able to copy and paste images! Yay!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Quick post from the Dominican

LL is getting ready for dinner, so this is my blog time! Our trip down was fine and while the weather isn't awesome, it's pretty good. We spent some time outside and waded in the ocean and the pool. After my first glass of welcome champaign, I had a "sammy sosa" which had 3 kinds of booze and hopefully no steroids. That was followed with coffee and baileys. Nice start. ok, the power JUST went off! Not good. It's back on now, but that could have caused problems. LL is ready to go, so I'm off. Much technology to talk about, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.