Thursday, July 26, 2012

Some pics

Wow, just busy, busy, busy. Tomorrow morning I head up to Baraboo, WI for Bill the Bear's bachelor party.  My golfing buddies and Ricardo will be there, so it should be fun. There will be much eating and drinking and golfing. Good times.

Had the third and final walk through in the office today for potential movers. They come in and basically say, "Is this it?" Ha! Yep, it's not a lot, but it's all useful.

Here's my desk! Thought I should take a picture for posterity sake.  Lots of sunlight in our space. We have 8' windows lining both two walls in our triangular space. And yes, that's a safe door to the left!

Here's the view from my cube. You can see the windows and the triangular shape here.

Azure Stone Consulting!

 Saw this today at the store. It's an end-cap with the same problem on each shelf.

Here's the problem. The shaving cream is on sale from $2.19 for......$2.19.  Only through tomorrow though!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Closing up shop

Big things going on at work that are keeping me way too busy. We're closing our office of...boy...six years? This business is where Ricardo and I do the "back office" work for a software company and work has been slowing down for the past two years. It's unfortunate for all involved because it was a nice paycheck for us and of course the software developers were happily making money. Things change though, so the decision as made to close down our Chicago office. At first though, another company with whom I'm involved was going to take it over. Unfortunately, things have not gone as hoped there either, so they have had to back out. The only real problem is that the lease is up at the end of July. The landlord has recently agreed to extend us a few more days though, for $50 a day, that will allow us to get everything moved out. That was a relief as I couldn't get movers in by the end of the month to pack stuff up and ship it. They get booked pretty far in advance as you might expect.

But we're not just moving our stuff out, as that would be too easy. Nope. We're packing it up and shipping it to Oregon! Yep, Oregon. We outfitted the office with good furniture and such, so instead of just buying new stuff for this new office in Oregon (different but related company) it was decided to investigate packing it up and shipping it all. So now that the landlord has extended us, I've been scheduling moving companies to come in and provide a quote, as well as packing up personal stuff which I'm going to have to find a home for, much to LL's chagrin.

Closing up shop is easier than opening it up, but there's a lot of details that need to be worked out. It's keeping me busy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Problem solved

The last issue in my master bath renovation was the minor issue of the door not being able to be closed with the toilet seat down. Obviously that was very frustrating, especially given that it's only about 1/4 of an inch that was causing the trouble. Well, last Sunday while I was playing softball and LL was out of town, some waste backed up into the master bath tub (like it did before, but this time the toilet was in place) and some water wept through seals in the pipe (long story, but this is actually acceptable according to code) into our basement again through the same (unfinished) hole in the ceiling. So I called the plumbers back to discuss what happened and possibly to clear the line again. They wanted to jump right in with tearing out the master bath toilet, but I was very hesitant given the trouble that we had putting it on in the first place.

The plumbers weren't sure if the line was open or not, but the only way to find out would be to pull the toilet and send a camera down there to verify. I wasn't sold. Then I mentioned that the door wouldn't close because of the toilet seat and that it was difficult to get the toilet reset. One of the plumbers said he was 95% sure that he could reset the toilet and move it back about 1/4" so the door would clear the seat. Done! Moving the toilet back requires a flange that allows for it (which I had) and some skill with stacking wax rings. They did a great job though.

Now the line is clear AND my bathroom door closes! Good stuff.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

You were warned!

More people should be reading my blog apparently. From 5 years ago! And the story today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's a matter of scale

Today I had my second six week follow up doctors appointment with my cervical spine specialist.  The last visit went well and the doctor basically said that as long as my left triceps keeps getting stronger AND I don't feel pain, then I can avoid surgery.  If however, either my muscle doesn't get stronger or I feel pain in my neck (or related muscles) then it's under the knife for me.

In the short term, the surgery option is awful. Softball is going well. I'm practicing my new golf swing. We have tickets to go see Joisey Ken in August. Bill the Bear is getting married in August and we have his bachelor party planned out (which involves golf as well). So a lot of things would be changed for the worse if I had surgery. In the long term though, my strength would most likely come back 100% at some point down the road post-surgery. It wouldn't be guaranteed, but it was likely.

So, a lot was riding on my office visit today. The doc came in and started his assessment, first feeling my triceps for atrophy.  Afterwards he posited, "Now which one had the weakness?" "My left." I said, along with, "Well that must be a good sign if you can't tell!". He muttered about it not being conclusive and went through the usual battery of strength tests, though he repeated one of them several times. At the end he said, "Well, you were a 3+/4- early on; then a 4/4+ and now I'd say you're probably a 4+/5-." Oh, I thought to myself. That's not very good. We had a discussion about how I was concerned that my strength wasn't a plateau, but it's slope was very shallow and I'd hoped for a steeper improvement curve.  That discussion didn't seem to interest him much and I wondered if he's not into math.

Anyway, he agreed that I didn't need to do anymore formal physical therapy (a recommendation from my therapist) and that I should continue strengthening it on my own. I asked if golfing and playing softball could be impeding a quicker recovery and he said it shouldn't unless I was experiencing pain (which I haven't been). And that was it. We shook hands and out he went. Briefly I felt like Charlie at Wonka's factory when Wonka says good-bye to him and Grandpa Joe, before Charlie turns in the Everlasting Gobstopper and inherits the factory. A little confused.

"Should I set up an appointment in six weeks?"  I called after him.  "Nope. No need to come back unless you re-injure it."  Oh happy day!

After lunch, I went to my last PT appointment and discussed what the doctor said including how I was only a 4+/5-.  "Well, the scale only goes to 5 you know right?" said my therapist Lauren. "Um, no. I kind of assumed it was a 10 point scale. Who uses a 5 point scale??" Apparently therapists and doctors!

My triceps is by no means that close to 100% of what it was, but it is stronger and there's hope for a full recovery.  Much work ahead though.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend results

This weekend really started on Thursday night with golf with the boyz which bled into golf the next day.  While I played awful on Thursday (due in part I think to going to physical therapy in the morning), I played pretty awesome on Friday shooting an 81 (42-39). Have I turned a corner with the golf swing? Stay tuned.

Saturday was an early, early morning since I had to be Byron, IL by 7 a.m. and Byron is 90 minutes away.  Amazingly, I got up before 5 and was on the road early. There's no traffic at that hour of the morning, as you would expect, so I got to the highway in about 10 minutes instead of the usual 20+. Great start. Then, a screeching halt. An accident about 150 yards past the split of the highway at 90-94 was closing all four lanes. ALL of them!!  C'mon!! So I took 94, instead, got off on the first exit and tried to get on at the next entrance ramp past the accident. Nope. Cop blocking it there. Damnit!!! By the time I got to the next ramp, about a half an hour had gone by and now I was late. It didn't get much better after some missed turns and bad directions near the fields, so I got there about 15 minutes before the game. Ugh.

Anyway, we went 4-0 on Saturday winning three games by the slaughter rule. The fourth game we won 16-14 against a team a level above us in this organization (USSSA). Since they were a level above us, they had to give us 2 runs but they got to be the home team, supposedly making the teams equal. If that's true, then we were really equal as we would have tied without them.  Sunday was a later start as I didn't have to be there until 10. Fortunately there were no accidents this time and I was on time for batting practice.  All the teams left now were a level above us, and we played the eventual champion right off the bat. We had an 11-8 lead in the bottom of the seventh and they hit a grandslam to win it. Ugh. We won the next game though 14-11, again against a higher level team and got matched up with the same team we had just lost to with the task of having to beat them twice. We pulled it off the first game, 14-12, and then lost in the last game 13-3. The team was pretty well spent by the time the last game came around. It was toasty and muggy.

Upon my return, LL was home from her trip to Iowa. It was great to see her again as she had been gone since Thursday morning! I miss my Sweetie when she goes away.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Golf, golf and oh yeah, softball.

Busy couple of days, so I've missed my posts. Yesterday was golfing with the Boyz (Bill the Bear, Smitty and Markakis).  Unfortunately, I had physical therapy in the morning and my swing was crap the whole round. In fact, on the front nine, I only hit two fairways with my drive and both of them were off of trees!! Just awful. So when I got up to go golfing Friday morning (for business purposes), I had low, low expectations. On the practice range I tried to work on just a few shots, 3 clubs, and got them all to "work" the way I wanted. Out on the course, I played pretty well shooting a 42-39. The three over par on the back could have been two strokes better had I been able to hit two short, four foot putts. Ugh.

While we were merrily golfing, storms surrounded the area and enveloped Chicago proper. In fact, there was something like a 3 hour rain delay at the Cubs game. Nary a drop fell on us at the golf course though. We actually heard storm sirens, but decided to ignore them since nothing seemed imminent near us, though there was a quick confirmation of the radar using our cell phones.

The rain came down so hard and fast in my neighborhood, I'm told, that the street was covered sidewalk to sidewalk in water. Yikes! Fortunately part of the problem was debris blocking the sewers, and once cleared, the water drained pretty well. Happy to report there were no problems in the basement!!

Softball tomorrow and Sunday in Byron, IL at Byron Fest. Should be a good time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Anniversary!!

Three and a half years ago I went on a date to Starbucks on a Sunday morning. As I was now an experienced eHarmony customer and dater, meeting at Starbucks or for a drink at a wine bar or something was my initial meeting go to plan. Both options were relatively short in duration and an easy exit if they turned out to not be as described or there was no chemistry. This date however was very promising so I asked her if she wanted to go to brunch at a nearby diner.  She said yes, despite the extreme cold of that January morning and we enjoyed a thoroughly enjoyable meal as well as each other's company. She offered to pay, which I thanked her for but of course refused. We walked to her car said goodbye with an appropriately nice kiss. 1) nice to talk to, 2) offer to pay, 3) kiss. She met all three requirements for a second date....and as it turns out, much more.

It's tough to believe it's been 3 1/2 years since my first date with LL. Time really does fly when you're having fun.  It's been ten months since we got married, which seems like last month! Crazy.

 Anyway, it's our date-aversary today and we're both very happy!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Over the last 10 years, Redbox has really changed the face of dvd rentals (just ask Blockbuster and Netflix). If you aren't familiar with them, they have a limited selection of movies and games, maybe 50 per kiosk, and charge basically $1, depending on taxes and such. You get the movie for a day and can return it to any Redbox kiosk.

It's worked well for us over the last few years since they've been in the area, but I've noticed a disturbing trend.  When a new movie comes out (in the theaters), Redbox will offer a movie with a similar title or an earlier version of the movie (like Ironman if Ironman II is in the box office).  While there are certainly good reasons to offer the prequel to a current movie (some people just want background info on the current movie), it seems....a little underhanded. Do you really want a business model that relies in part on confusing your customer for sales?  Seems like a pretty bad idea.

Yesterday, after getting groceries for dinner, I texted LL to see if she wanted to watch a movie and presented her with two options. One of the movies was Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies and while it sounds awful, the commercials we've seen for it look pretty good actually and some people have reviewed it as good as well.  So what the heck, we'll take a flyer for $1.30.  Unfortunately, the movie we were thinking of was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and it's still in the theaters. Doh! A.L. vs. Zombies was absolutely AWFUL and we didn't even finish watching it. We got duped and I shot off an email to Redbox today. We'll see how they respond. NOBODY should watch this movie!! I would venture to say that nobody rents this movie because they actually think it's going to be a good movie or because a friend recommended it. The ONLY reason to rent it is by mistake. Can't be good for business long term.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Fish and crabs

It was a busy Monday filled with running errands and such, but when the end of the day came around and LL came home, I started cooking dinner. It was later than I wanted, since we've rented a movie, but we ate shortly after 7 which isn't too bad. Though I told LL I was making the trout with mushrooms and rice recipe I've mentioned before, I neglected to tell her that I was also steaming some Opilio crab that was on sale.  Both turned out very tasty and LL was very happy, especially since she changed clothes and took a little nap while I cooked. Yay!!

That's it for me today!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The bathroom project

The new master bath is indeed done! Sort of. Well, it's mostly done. Just some minor things to get done, but first let's go to the pictures. Oh, there's a video at the end if you'd rather go that route.

So let's start with the before. I almost forgot to take "before" pictures, as evidence by the tile removed.

There's the old vanity, medicine cabinet and toilet. Above the toilet used to be shelves, but I took them down a few years ago when I thought I was going to start the renovation.

And now the "after" pictures! Note that the tile extends around the room and well past just the bathtub area which is all that was tiled before.

The ceilings are 10' high, so I can't get everything into the pictures. These show you a good portion of it though. The floor tile is the same as in the guest bathroom. The color scheme is the same as well.

Those are towel rods sans the towels. The medicine cabinet is about the same size as the old one, but I put up a new storage shelf above the new toilet.

Oh, there is the storage shelf. Note the decorative switch plate that handles the light on the ceiling, the light above the vanity, the exhaust fan, the light in the exhaust fan and a night light in the exhaust fan.  Cool set up!

Here's the shower complete with curved curtain rod and I've raised the shower head about a foot or so.

I also put a towel rod on the back wall of the shower, where I had one before, just because I like to have it there. The two nooks provide space  for shampoo, soap and anything else you want to put in there.

 And here's the video tour.

In case you couldn't get the video to play, the only problem so far in the room is that the door won't close!! That's right. Actually, it DOES close, but not like normal. Remember that toilet that I had to pay $100 extra to get because it wasn't stock? Well, it added enough length from the wall into the room that when the toilet seat is down (which I also had to special order to get the color to match) the door won't swing past it. Ugh!!! We've decided MLM is going to use a router to round it out to match the edge of the bowl and not extend past it (which it currently does by about 1/4") and then we'll stain the cut area to match.

It's always something!!!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Sometimes, you need to take a step back and look at the forest

Things can always be worse. In general, I live a pretty privileged life and should count my blessings much more than complain about my woes. Yesterday for instance, I had some running around to do including a 9:30 physical therapy appointment and a 1:30 oil change appointment. Though I wanted to get some time at the gym in, I also have a 5:30 happy hour appointment with my buddy T-Rex Tim, whom I haven't seen since he had his second kid. The oil change takes 90 minutes, instead of 60 as promised, and then the weather went nuts dropping 25 degrees in about 3 minutes and the rains and wind swept through the area. So instead of going straight to the gym, I wanted to stop at home to get my umbrella first. In doing so, MLM informed me of a problem with the plumbing which required me stopping at Home Depot on the way to the gym. I also got an odd blocked phone call that I let go to voice mail.

Now it was about 3:30 and I was rushed if I was going to get a good workout in before happy hour. First to Home Depot though. Oh, I better check that message too. Oh no, I left my wallet at the oil change place. Ugh. Now I was really behind!

So again I cut down my run to 2 miles in just over 20 minutes and then lifted some weights before showering and heading home to change and then off to happy hour.

Seems hectic, and it was, but let's take a step back:
-I lost my wallet!! It fell out of my pocket in a room full of people and I got it back without anything missing.
-I was able to work out.
-The time pressure was self imposed to meet a social obligation.

All in all, that's not only not too bad, it's pretty damn good. Sometimes though, you just have to take a step back and look at the forest.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Odds and ends

The huge delay in MLM finishing our bathroom, which may happen on Friday, has been more than just an inconvenience of not having the bathroom to use. Noooooo. It's more than just having a contractor in your house for two months, one month longer than projected. Nooooo. There are side effects of the job, aside from the toilet issues which caused issues in our basement. Here's a few picks of the "other issues". Mainly it's the unavailability of our pool table and the area anywhere near it.

Organized chaos. The area is completely unusable, but it has to be staged somewhere.

On a happier note, to kick off the July 4th holiday, I made LL some lobster tails. I've never made them before, but they aren't difficult to make! Here they are on the pan, ready to be broiled. We bought them at Whole Foods and they were relatively inexpensive. Good eating!! I followed them up on July 4th morning with more fresh fruit crepes!! Yum!

While LL and I were out walking about, we saw this are piece on a corner not too far from the house. Pretty compelling. There's a figure inside the ball if you look closely. Pretty cool.

The latest entrant on OUR corner is this piece. Not bad. Actually, pretty cool. I'm happy that our Alderman is supporting this kind of work.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

More than Ruffled Feathers

Yesterday I went golfing with my buddy JC out in Lemont at a course called Ruffled Feathers. Probably 4-5 years ago, it was a pretty upscale course, and it's still good, but after a management change, the course has run into some disrepair. There are potholes on the cart paths that would make the city of Chicago proud. And the sand in the bunkers more closely resembles dirt than sand. Both are fixable issues, but they detract from the overall experience, which for $90 should be pretty good.

Bathroom update: still not done. We are now at week 8 and the bathroom isn't done, but the finishing touches are being applied. MLM is painting now and then the fixtures go on: toilet, vanity, closet, towel bars, toilet paper holder, etc. Hopefully by the end of the week we'll be good to go.

This is where we are at today. MLM's leg is in the picture on the left. The one missing tile is where the TP holder fits. Had to go online to find a special switch plate cover for that light switch.

Here's the back wall with tile going up about 3-4'.    The tile goes all the way around the room.

The shower, which I've already used BTW. The shower curtain had to be taken down while MLM finishes his work though.

Here's the new ceiling fan. It's bigger and stronger than the old one and will have a nightlight as well as a regular light. Not too shabby.

This picture is a little old as well (the ceiling is all painted now), but it shows the floor least most of it.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Ribfest? Why yes!

Every Fourth of July, my home town (at least since I was 10) conducts an awesome Ribfest with not only ribs, but good music and fireworks.  In the past we've seen Huey Lewis, Joan Jett (pretty much anyone from the '80's) and others. This year, on Friday, Steve Miller Band was going to be playing and we thought that would be the trip we'd make to Ribfest.  This year though, they upped the prices based on the day and the music, so Friday night was $25 pp!!  That's insane! Last year it was $10, which I thought was a bit much for the right to pay too much money for not enough ribs (a half slab was running like $18 or something). For those of you who don't know, you can get a rack of ribs for $12-$15 depending on the weight. So, instead of paying $50 just to get in on Friday, I went out and bought ribs and cooked them for us for Friday night. As usual, I made two full racks so we had plenty of leftovers for the weekend. They weren't my best effort, LL liked them, but they were decent. Between Saturday and Tuesday you could get into Ribfest for $10-$20 depending on the day, but with the heat, we felt it better just to stay home in the a/c and eat the ribs I a table....with our beverage of choice....and with sweet potatoes. We'll catch Steve Miller and "fly like an eagle" another time.

Saturday morning, the start of another weekend without softball, I made crepes again since I was able to buy some good looking strawberries to go with the blueberries, blackberries and Nutella we already had on hand.  Good eating!! 

Saturday afternoon was a gym day for me as I had a day of rest from my physical therapy and no softball to play on Sunday.  Unfortunately I also had a time crunch with a planned trip to Joliet with LL to hook up with her niece and nephew (and their parents).  So I did the best I could with the time I had: I ran two miles in about 20 minutes and then used the ten minutes or so that I would have used to run that third mile to go lift weights and do PT exercises. It wasn't ideal, but it was better than nothing!

Sunday I ran errands, which included a trip to Lowe's to return tile and drill bits. I tell ya, as bad as my experience was buying the stuff it was that GOOD returning it. They scanned all of my receipts (5 or 6 of them) and then everything I was returning and it matched them up and printed one return receipt (for about $200)! Very nice.