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!