Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fun weekend

September exited with some good fun this weekend. Friday night LL and I just hung out on the sofa and watched shows we had on the DVR from Thursday night. During the day I had watched some Ryder Cup golf and everyone to whom I speak firmly believes they'd watch more golf on TV if it were more like what we saw this weekend. The format, if you're not familiar, is the US vs. Europe in different formats: alternate shot, best ball and head up. Going into the head up matches on Sunday, the US was up 10-6 and then choked it away to lose 14 1/2-13 1/2. That means in the one on one matches, we lost 8 1/2 to 3 1/2. Brutal.

But it was FUN to watch! Seriously!! People were cheering wildly for the US (and even while one guy was teeing off) instead of the traditional, very quiet, laid back, be polite type of golf. If a guy on the European team hit it in the water, wild cheers! The Englishman chokes on a putt: wild cheers!  The Spaniard hits it into the trees: wild cheers! Just a hoot to watch.Even LL wanted to know what was going on and asked about updates.

On Saturday we headed to Morris, Illinois for their Corn Festival. Oddly, it's actually not easy to find corn there! There was only one stand with corn and then one with kettle corn, which only kind of counts. Lots of beer though and pork! I had two pulled pork sandwiches and part of LL's pork chop on a stick. Delicious.

The folks with whom we tailgate and who sit next to us at the Bears games live in Morris, so we decided to stop in and see them as part of the trip. Doug Sr. has a great house!

Here's the entrance to his finished basement.

And here's the other wall. Very cool!! His house is huge and awesome and includes a ginourmous back deck with a swimming pool and everything. It's pretty great!!

LL had to work Sunday morning and then headed out to have lunch with her friend Nicole in Naperville. Meanwhile, I watched some football, some Ryder Cup, dug a trench in the back yard, got on the roof and cleaned out the gutters and hit the Oktoberfest at my church. Another busy weekend!!! Tomorrow night: Bears/Cowboys!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Planning for winter already?

While at my Starbucks today, I saw that they had K-cups on sale for essentially 50% off. Since I have a Keurig machine, but don't often use it, I decided to buy some K-cups and prepare for winter. Now, when the weather turns nasty and I don't feel like going outside, I'll have a nice cup of Starbucks coffee for which I did not overpay. Good for me!

LL is having some nausea problems that are more commonly associated with the first trimester of pregnancy even though she's at about 15 weeks or so now. She's also developed some carpal tunnel like symptoms in her wrists that are also attributed to the pregnancy. It really kills me that I can't help her or that she can't take the medicine that exists to solve these issues. Ugh. It's the way guys are wired right? I'm here to solve shit: kill the bugs, fix the whatever machine and solve the little problems. Having to sit by and not do anything is tough.

ESDNM is off to Spain for several weeks, just as we got a new client. Nice work if you can get it!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How do you get Joe to not drink (so much) at a Bears game?

 It's Sunday night, about 9, and I'm beat. We've been home for more than three hours and have cleaned up (LL is a HUGE help cleaning up). We've both taken nice warm showers and are in our comfy clothes. What a fun weekend. It truly was exhausting though.

Everything started off on Thursday night with my client's 25th anniversary party at the office of Mark Anthony Brand's, the creator of Mike's Hard Lemonade.

Here's some sort of proof that I was actually there. It was a lot of fun as almost all the people with whom I worked to move Morningstar into their first real office space 20 years ago, was at the party! It was a huge reunion for me and LL was very impressed that I knew so many people....most of whom had very nice things to say about me! In addition to the architects who designed the space, was the flooring guy, the contractor, the real estate broker's assistant, the furniture gal and her assistant (who is now repping 5 lines of office furniture herself) and the engineer. Great fun!

And here are the men of the hour: my clients and the current owners of the firm.  Look at those cupcakes on the right! Yum!

Friday, though it rained on and off all day, I was invited to golf with a friend who is a member at nearby country club. Great fun despite the cool temps and a bit of rain.

Here's a picture from the seats we had on Saturday for the Cubs/Cardinals game. It was sunny, but cold so we were happy to have extra seats on either side of us (and a blanket and gloves!).

After a brief respite and a hot shower at home, I headed out to meet Ricardo, Markakis and Ricardo's buddy Mitch at a brewery for their Oktoberfest. Now, the bar sponsoring it, Revolution Brewing, is right next door to Ricardo's house, so I was going to drive over there and just park on the street. Then Markakis called me just before I left to ask for a ride. Unfortunately, he lives on the west side of Wrigley and I leave east of Wrigley, and after a game all the traffic is moving west. But I fought through traffic, picked him up and then headed south to Ricardo's. As I pulled up, there was Ricardo on the street. He was looking for a cab. But why if the festival is next door? Well, it wasn't next door; it was at their actual brewery which was back up north actually at the end of my street, but west. Ugh. So I played cab driver and drove us all up there.  It was fortunate that I DID drive because cabs were tough to find when we left and Markakis would have been stranded had he taken the bus to Ricardo's.

Here's what we were rewarded with when we arrived. Holy smokes is this place huge!

And the beer steins are huge! This is not an optical illusion. It was tough to hold these when they were filled. You can see my cheeks are still a bit red from being out at the Cubs game.

 Another picture where I'm trying to show the size of the beer glass. That's Markakis in the black jacket and Ricardo is in the background to the left with the ball hat on.

Everything ran on tickets, which were 5 for $20. A full stein was two tickets, but you could buy a half for one ticket. A big Bavarian pretzel was one ticket and a brat was one as well. Then a side of German potatoes was also one, which is $4. A little steep. Anyway, it was all delicious. At the end of the night, when Markakis was finally hungry, they actually GAVE us some potatoes and brats because they were out of pretzels and everyone was going home anyway. Nice!

 And then came Sunday morning. Good Lord did it come quickly. Here's a picture of the tailgating crew. The highlight was definitely my guests, George and his girlfriend Dena, though not because they are nice people, which they are. No, it was the massive amounts of food they brought!! A cheese and sausage plate, a bowl of pasta salad and big container of pulled pork. Yum!! Then Blind Mender brought his mom's sausage and cheese roll, which is delicious and Liz and her boyfriend Jim, brought cheddar-bacon biscuits. Again, yum! Then some other people, friends of friends, brought sausages. It was crazy how much food there was. That was all in addition to the food we brought.

With all the food, you'd think I could drink a bunch more, but because of my splurging at Oktoberfest, I was not up for drinking too much booze...unheard of during a Bears game. I did have a bloody Mary (actually bloody Maria as it was made with tequila not vodka) and a few spiked apple ciders (with Captain Morgan) to get me going. Eventually I did have a few beers, but only one during the actually game instead of the usual 3-4. Still, fun was had by all....but I'm happy to be going to bed!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Busy now, busier next week!

Work and my life continues to be pretty busy.  Fortunately I've been able to at least get to the gym a few times in the last three days: once to run and once to lift. I say "fortunately" not only because of my time constraints but also because I have had some pain (or bad aches) in my left neck/shoulder area related to my herniated disc.

Another weekend is going to go by pretty quickly. How can I be talking about the weekend already you ask? Well, Thursday night is a client's 25th anniversary party at the headquarters of Mike's Hard Lemonade. Yeah, like I'd miss THAT! Friday is a noon tee off at a country club which I enjoy. No chance of missing that either. Saturday I have tickets to the Cubs/Cardinals game in my really good seats and then am going to an Oktoberfest celebration near Ricardo's house with Ricardo and Markakis....and possibly Smitty I think. Then Sunday morning at 8 a.m. is the Bears tailgate for the noon game against St. Louis. Wow....I'm already tired....and behind in my work!!

We just added another client too and on cue, ESDNM is going on a long vacation to Europe. Way to go slacker!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mish Mosh

This morning I heard on the radio that as of Friday, Apple's market cap (it's number of shares times the price of the shares) is higher than the GDP of Denmark, Finland and Hungary......combined. Wow. Things like this always surprise me. Like California, if it were a country, would have something like the 10th highest GDP in the world. I don't remember exactly where it is, but it's up there. Crazy.

Remember this future headline?  I hope you went long the Dow!

Yesterday was my sister (and sometimes blog poster) Bee's birthday. Happy Birthday again Bee!! The family got together at my folks' place to celebrate the way we do: eating a bunch of food. In addition to Bee's birthday, we celebrated LL being 13 weeks along now and talked about how my 13 year old niece has a boyfriend. Good for her!

I thought about this weekend's games a bit more over the last few days, though I wouldn't say I OBSESSED, I did at least dwell. Even though I was 3-5, I was really only happy with two swings and that's disappointing. Anytime you're playing at Disney, you need to get up there and really have good swings. Granted the pitching and defense on the other side are better than normal, but I feel I could have done better. Anyway, our team gave up 22 and 26 runs. That's a lot of runs. In the second game, we actually did give away some runs on defense and could have won that game, but still it's a lot of runs. So why?  Our pitcher has been hurt the last month with some sort of elbow injury (possibly tendinitis) and sometimes even runs with his arm completely extended and straight. So though he continued to go out there and try, the results seem to indicate to me that he couldn't move the ball around at all. We didn't give up 20+ runs to teams a level ABOVE us during the year and then we had two straight games that way? Not to mention the poor showing at nationals two weeks ago. Our backup pitcher did come into pitch in the second game and didn't give up too many runs (the runs he did give up were more of the unearned variety), so I tend to think I'm on to something. That said, we were actually leading both games 1-0 after 2 or 3 innings which would mean our pitcher would have had to just lose it after a certain number of pitches, which is certainly possible with a muscle/tendon issue.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Another short weekend

Wednesday I headed down to Orlando with our softball team for a softball tournament with 160 + teams.  Thursday was our first game and was actually on the Disney complex.  Unfortunately we we were outplayed and lost 22-1. It was 1-0 inour favor after 2 innings and then 6-1 after 3.
Unfortunately the top of the fourth came and they scored 16 runs and the game was ended after 4. I only got to bat once and I was in the middle of the lineup! Awful.

Since we lost, we only had one game on Thursday, but were slatted to play 6 on Friday. That is we would have had we won the first one which we did not. It was at 9 a.m. after theteam was out for the Bears/Packers game on Thursday night. We went up 1-0 again, but were quickly down 6-1due to some poor fielding.  It looked like trouble for us again but then I came up to bat with a runner on second and two outs. Unfortunately I hit ground ball to second that looked like it was going to be an easy play. I ran it out though and the second baseman threw wide of first and took the first baseman off the bag. After a discussion by the umpires, they ruled me safe. The next batter tripled scoring two and we went on to tie at 6-6. Soon we were down  by double digits, and came back again. Eventually we lost 26-21. I ended up getting on 3 out of 4 times and was 3-5 for the short tournament and had a double with a couple of RBI. 

One of the great things about flying southwest is that they allow you to change flights without an extra charge. So as a precaution, I booked two flights coming home, one on Saturday night and one on Monday morning.  I was looking forward to NOT using the Saturday night ticket, but sadly it will be the Monday ticket that earns me a credit. The team we first lost to was from Alabama and they have won at least one more game. 

Anyway, I hope that things around the house and office will be a little less busy over the next few weeks. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No time to write

Hello!! Boy, it's been tough to keep up with my blog lately.  It's not for a lack of things going on or topics; quite the opposite. Work has been very busy and then there's the Bears game and talking to everyone about the baby. Super busy. ESDNM came into town on Monday afternoon and we went straight from the airport to a client. Tuesday was busy again with a client meeting downtown at 9 a.m. and then a dinner meeting that went until 8.  Tomorrow morning I have to take ESDNM to the airport at 7:15 a.m. and I go to a different airport around 4-5ish to head down to Orlando for a 176 team softball tournament. My biggest concern: staying at a house with softball players. I may still end up in a hotel, but we'll see. I'll give the house a shot, but the last time I tried to stay at a house in Orlando, there were ants running up and down the bedpost and the towels were like paper towels. Not acceptable.

Look how early we were in the lot! 8 a.m. sharp for a noon game. We were back in the spots where we parked all of last year thanks to the Punke family! We have a much better time hanging out together before the game and then sitting together at the game. Good fun.

I could go on about the game, but it's bedtime and I haven't gotten to see much of LL the last few days.

One funny thing that's happening is that lots of people, upon finding out about the baby, are asking me if they can have my Bears tickets. I'M NOT DYING! I'm just having a baby! Lots of parents still go to Bears games and I plan on being one of them.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Still busy

It seems like I'm constantly trying to keep up these days, which is fine I guess since it's mostly fun things that continue to keep me busy. Granted, work is also a bit busier than normal, but mostly it's fun stuff.

For instance, Monday, Labor Day, the Bears did a one hour radio show from their indoor training facility at Halas Hall which was for season ticket holders only and for only a limited number of people. Fortunately I was able to get two tickets and took Andy, aka Sausage, with me. We met for dinner beforehand at Tilted Kilt, a Hooters knock off, and then headed over for the festivities. This was the first time I'd been inside this particular facility (our meetings are usually at the main building) and it's pretty cool.

Interesting that they chose to do all the supports in wood. Had I known it was going to be in this particular portion of the complex, I would have brought a football to toss around!

Here's the stage with coach Lovie Smith, the GM Phil Emery, President Ted Phillips and the Bears announcer Jeff Joniak. During commercial breaks they fielded questions and did raffles. Good times.

Also on Monday, during the day, LL and I headed up north to an outdoor mall to do some clothes shopping for her. I thought it was the least I could do since she made the trip to Rockford for one stinking game (yes, still stings) and I enjoy our little trips together. We found a pancake house online that's not too far from the mall called Walker's Brothers Pancake House and decided to try it for breakfast. LL got some flat crazy European pancakes which she said I would not like (I had to agree) while I got this ginourmous apple and cinnamon "pancake" that was as big as the plate and probably an inch and a half thick. It was insane. I ate less than half of it and brought the rest home. Good eating!

Last night we had a hankering for some middle eastern food so we headed down Broadway a few blocks to Zad's. We really like their hummus and tried some new dishes and realized we like pretty much all of their food!

Monday, September 03, 2012

My stardom has begun!

Here's the link to a video where I won $130. It aired last night on Chicago Sports Net. Yes, I had been drinking, in fact, I still was as you can see the beer in my hand!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Short weekend

Well, my long softball weekend was cut dramatically short. We were playing in a 33 team regional tournament, though it was called a "national" tournament.  We played teams from Iowa and Minnesota and beat them both, but then lost to a team from the area whom we've beaten several times (they ended up taking 2nd place) and then to a different team from Minnesota by a score of 8-7 (Terri will be happy to know that I talked to the other team's third base coach about their state fair). So we went 2-2, a huge disappointment for us going into our Orlando tournament in two weeks. A small consolation was that I hit almost .700 and 4-5 in our two losses. Our first loss had a lot to do with a 6 hour (partial) rain delay between games due to the remnants of hurricane Isaac. We just came out flat after that break. Then we just didn't hit again on Sunday in our only game and trailed 8-5 going into the last at bat. We scored two and had a guy on when one of our better hitters absolutely ripped a ball that the third base managed to snag to end the game. Tough loss.

It was particularly bad because LL made the 90 minute trip out to Rockford for the game and was hoping to see more than just one.

On our wall in the kitchen is the calendar LL's mother made for us of wedding pictures. Here's the September grouping. It's one of my favorites!! Joisey Ken and his wife Dawn are in the first picture with good friends of LL. The two smaller pictures are clients of mine who are also good friends. Naperville Greg and Kleveland Kim are in the bottom left with Ricardo and wife Jodi in the lower right. Excellent! It lifted my spirits as soon as I walked by.

Here's the view I had at the Cubs game on Wednesday. They are my client's seats, the second client in the smaller picture up above, and  he offered them up last minute. Front row upper deck not far from the camera. Great seats, but we lost 3-1.