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!