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30 posts from January 2007

Carry moonbeams home in a jar...

Starlight, Starbright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may
I wish I might
Have the wish
I wish tonight

I wish Chicago only had one baseball team... think you can make that happen, universe?

At this point in the game, it could swing either to the Sox or Cubs side and it would make little to no difference to me. I just hate how divided our city becomes as a result of baseball.

I say this because, right now, I'm sick to death of hearing White Sox fans whine about why the city is standing so proudly behind the Bears in their Super Bowl charge, yet they didn't for the Sox two years ago. And these Sox fans are absolutely correct.

These days, everywhere you go, you see stuff like this...

go bears

Support for the Bears in Chicago and the suburbs is pretty much unanimous. Everyone gets behind the Bears (save for the occasional Packers fan here and there). And the reason for this is because we have one football team. A singular pigskin entity to stand behind, to represent us, to make us love it, to make us feel pride.

Baseball... not so much.

With the Cubs on the north side and the White Sox on the south side of the city, sports fans are forcibly separated into two camps. In Chicagoland, you are one or the other. According to the diehards, there is no feasible way you can support both, which I find to be a load of crap.

I count myself as a Cubs fan, but I was pulling for the White Sox in their title run two seasons ago. I was happy they were doing so well. I wanted them to do even better. I knew it was good for the city considering it had been 88 years since we'd seen any baseball championship title. Yes, I even bought AL and World Series penants to hang amidst my collection of penants from my childhood.

However, Cubbie loyalists thought I was betraying them while the Sox faithful didn't want my support.

WTF??? So you're telling me I can't be a fan of the city?? Why the heck not? That makes no sense and is just ludicrous. I hate that baseball separates us even more so than bipartisan politics. And it's even been known to erupt into physical confrontations.  It's stupid.

So if you're going to be such extremists, here's the one and only solution to all your whining... LEAVE CHICAGO! I don't care who does it, but one of you must. It will be the only way to solidify support behind a single team.

Nobody wants to face it, but these are the cold, hard facts behind the situation at hand. Kentucky, where I used to live, had the simplest, yet most perfect state motto and I feel it is applicable here, "United we stand, divided we fall." It is the truth. A city divided cannot stand. Even if for only baseball.

Ed note: Do I actually expect this to happen? No. Both teams have been here far too long for either to turn tail and run. I'm simply making a point to all the whiners out there. Just shut up and deal with it.

On a much less vitriolic note, the recipe for Katie's cookies, as mentioned yesterday, is in the extended post.

Continue reading "Carry moonbeams home in a jar..." »


Mas tequila...

Sometimes I swear that Katie and I are of one mind.

Last night, I was heading home from work. Since I couldn't get a hold of Katie on her cellphone, despite the fact she was supposed to get off work at the same time as me, I knew she was going to be home late. So I started formulating a menu of things to cook for dinner.

Lawrys My menu included pork chops cooked in Lawry's Tequila Lime Marinade, mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli with cheese melted on top.

However, I never had a chance to go home and cook.

While on the highway, I suddenly remembered that I had agreed to visit my old workplace and help train the new Web designer. You see, at my old job, there is not a single person left that knows enough about the site and how to maintain it that they could effectively train this new person that they just hired a week ago (I've been gone since October 23).

So I reluctantly veered off course and headed to the old place to do a couple hours of training.

When I left, I called Katie who informed me that she was in the process of making dinner... pork chops in Lawry's Tequila Lime Marinade, mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower with cheese melted on top. No joke. I swear to God. The only difference being that she added cauliflower to the mix.

Oh, and she planned out a dessert as well... her grandma's Rice Krispie and raisin cookies. Oh man I love those cookies and Katie baked them up to perfection. I'm eating a couple as we speak. I don't care if it's morning and I should be eating breakfast food. Cookies should be allowed any time of day, period.


More than words...

I'm assuming there is no such thing as Quality Control when testing batteries, is there? Heck, I think it's also a safe assumption that testing batteries doesn't exist, right? After all, if you test a battery to see how long it's going to live, then you've effectively killed it and cannot sell it. Or so I would think.

In my quest for the perfect battery to power up all my varied electronic devices, I decided to take the Rayovac Power Challenge.

Rayovac

Powergrid_1

I'm a lifelong user of Duracell and Energizer batteries because those names have always implied durability and long life. So if Rayovac, a brand I've come to mentally associate with "one step above generic," is going to make such a bold claim and offer up wonderfully colorful and highly scientific charts such as the one at right, why not give it a go?

Oh yeah, the price point was pretty good, too. I got 24 batteries for the price of 12 Duracells.

Perhaps that should've been the first sign.

I don't care what they say, but the Rayovacs I've used so far in my digital camera have been for crap. I put two of them in my Sony DSC-P92 last Thursday and, by Friday, they were failing to open the shutter. They kept reading that they were dead. And this was my first shoot using them. That can be more than a bit annoying.

But to rub salt on the open wound, they showed full battery life when I put my camera on viewer mode to offload the pictures to my computer. What the???

So I flipped it back to camera mode and, just like magic, they were dead again.

On Saturday, I put in a new deuce of Rayovacs since I still had so many left, and, so far, they're working fine. But I haven't turned the camera on today at all. Wouldn't surprise me if they, too, died.

And I still have yet to mention the fact that a pair of them lasted a meager week in my bluetooth mouse. Most batteries last a minimum of a month. If you go for those E-squared batteries, those tend to last for three to four months. But those cost an arm and a leg.

I'm getting frustrated here. I don't know what to buy.

Is there such a thing as a "good" battery in this day and age?

I want to find the creator of this challenge and pelt him with dead Double As. Can you imagine the headlines? "Rayovac founder mortally assaulted by dead batteries." That would make this worthwhile.


It was a very good year...

Wow, Dean Martin yesterday, Frank Sinatra today. Must be a Rat Pack kinda mood I'm in.

You know how I said yesterday that maybe the return of my bowl was my karmic payback for my kitchen mishaps a few days back? Well, not quite. Yesterday was awesome! Simply put, Katie and I spent the whole day together and we had a blast.

It started by sleeping in really late. Like 11:00 a.m. late. Then we got up and went to the gym for a long workout, which felt fantastic. It's nice being able to work out and not worry about clockwatching the whole time. Afterwards, we showered and got ready.

We then drove into Naperville to hang out and do some shopping. We're still trying to find a new entertainment center for our living room and tried a few places. Nothing. This is both a bad thing and a good thing. Bad in that we didn't find something to replace our current entertainment center that has taken to falling apart on us. But good in that we didn't spend the exorbitant amount of money I'm eventually anticipating needing to spend.

We tried to do some shopping in downtown and had a little fun at a spice shop sniffing the wares (how can you go wrong with lemon extract that has 77% alcohol content?? The almond extract was 76%). We also hit a candy shop and picked up some good stuff. However, it got so cold, we didn't want to walk around anymore.

So we jumped in the car and headed to the local AMC theater to see Catch and Release. Not a great flick, but decent and enjoyable enough. Still strange seeing Kevin Smith in a major role in a movie in which he neither 1) played Silent Bob, nor 2) directed himself. But it's a movie Katie wanted to see and it's hard to say no to both Smith and Jennifer Garner.

After that, we drove into Geneva and tried a new pizza place called Sanfratello's. It just opened up in downtown by the river and it was fantastic. Busy as all get out, but worth the wait. It was some of the best pizza we've had in months.

Finally, we went to Dick's Sporting Goods (I really hate that name!) to find a hat to go with Katie's new jacket she recently bought. Of course, while there, we perused the Chicago Bears goods. It's so nice having such a great selection of quality Bears gear. God love the NFC champs!

We then returned home.

It may not sound like much to many of you. But just having a day to ourselves was heaven. We never seem to have the time for these anymore, so when they happen, we're taking advantage of them. And that's exactly what we did yesterday.

It was great!


Retorna me...

Hey all! Guess what decided to make a return visit yesterday, just before the blog-imposed deadline...

my bowl!

Yes, as Hilly said, it is the prodigal bowl! And, as Neil said, it's one ugly photo. And, as Bre said, it is really beat up. But I told you it was. And that's really why I like it so much! It's like a favorite pair of socks. And, considering the person who returned it clearly didn't wash it, it kinda smells like a favorite pair of socks as well. Ick. It's festering in our dishwasher now. Our dishwasher.

So celebrate!

And if this is my karmic payback for the crap that happened yesterday, well, I guess I can handle it.


Ain't no runnin' from karma...

What did I do?

What did I do?

WHAT DID I DO????

I just don't get it. I do something nice and I get poopied on (hey, I'm still trying here). Apparently in much the same manner as Dave has been lately. Yes, I do find it odd that it is happening to both of us at the same time. Things work like that for us. Just ask him. It's scary.

Last night, I spent three hours working on a Web site for Katie's cousin who is opening her own yoga studio in Chicago. I put together a pretty nice splash page as a stand-in until I get the rest of the site done. I'm really quite impressed with how it has turned out. Katie likes it, too.

Her cousin, however, has no knowledge whatsoever about how things work on the Web in terms of design, hosting, etc. The very fact that I got her to register a domain and hosting services on GoDaddy using her credit card amazes me. However, she's now in Massachusetts for some big yoga convention and doesn't have the time to call in to GoDaddy to figure out how to FTP files to their hosting server. I've been searching their site and it's not exactly the most intuitive site in the world to use.

So I talk to her dad (Katie's uncle) and get all the pertinent information so I can call in to GoDaddy and get what tips I need. Her name is one that could, in some circles, double as a guy's name, so why not? I get her full name, birthday, address, phone-in ID#, home phone, cell phone, and her mother's maiden name. Everything you could possibly need for an ID check.

I call GoDaddy's non-toll-free customer service number and sit on hold for nearly 10 minutes. When a rep finally picks up the phone, what does he ask for? The last four digits of the credit card used to reserve the URL.

Oh WTF??? (that's not a quarter, is it?)

Then I decided, because Katie was "asked" to work late, that I would make dinner for her. This was actually my second night in a row making dinner. I'm getting good.

So I'm standing at the oven taking a well-deserved break for my Webly duties, making some chicken with mozzarella and red sauce and steamed cauliflour on the side. Not a big deal meal, really. But I figure it's better than Katie having to cook when she gets home.

With the chicken sizzling in one pan, the cauliflour steaming in a pot, and the pasta sauce simmering in another, I make one wrong move. Just one. But that's all it took. Suddenly, the spatula that I've been using to flip the chicken, which just so happens to be covered in cooking oil and seasoned bread crumbs, goes spinning in the air and flops against my slacks. No, I hadn't changed yet from my work clothes. I didn't think anything like this would happen.

I shrugged it off and ran for the laundry room to grab the Tide Pen and blot out the rather large stained area right by my crotch.

A few minutes later, my pants are drying out quite nicely and the meal's nearly done when, it would seem, I make the same disastrous maneuver, again sending the spatula in orbit and striking my pants IN EXACTLY THE SAME FRAKKIN' SPOT IT DID BEFORE!!

Why???

Did I do something wrong by cooking for Katie??? I didn't hear her complaining about it so why are the Gods???

Can someone clue me in here???

But I would like to mention one good thing... Tide Pens? Heaven sent.


Head like a hole...

I was an odd child. I actually enjoyed going to the dentist. In fact, I never once had a problem with the dentist or the checkups or the smells or the sounds that come with a dentist's office.

Until last night.

It's been a year since I've been to the dentist simply because I wasn't able to get an appointment scheduled considering how much I work and how restrictive my dentist's availability is as well.

I left work and went to the gym for a quick workout. Then I showered and drove to the dentist's office. I guess I should've considered it a (bad) sign when, as I chewed on a piece of gum to freshen my breath a bit, I bit through my tongue.

When I got there, a new dental hygenist introduced herself to me and showed me to the chair. I sat down and she went to work cleaning my teeth. Of course, like any dentist or hygenist, she tried making small talk with me about where I came from, what I do for a living, and what the Bears' chances were in the Super Bowl. And, like any patient, I mumbled what little I could through my pried-open mouth that had a mirror and scraper sticking in it.

The first of my in-office pain came as she scraped down into my gums. For some reason, my gums were incredibly sensitive this week and every little nudge with that stupid prongy scraper thingie resulted in an intense wave of bone-grinding agony. Then she found the really sensitive spot. And she kept cleaning and scraping and cleaning and scraping over and over and over and over again all in that one spot. MOVE ON ALREADY!!!

When the hygenist finally did as I willed her to do, the dentist came in and told me what I knew was coming... I have a cavity in a spot that already has a filling. She would need a second appointment the day before the Super Bowl to pluck out the old filling and replace it.

Oh yay.

I haven't had a cavity in more than a decade. Bummed out is a bit of an understatement. I always thought I took decent care of my teeth. I brush regularly. I floss nearly once a day. Heck, there was a five-year span that I didn't visit a dentist because I could never find one I liked. When I finally did go back, my mouth was in great shape. Not a thing wrong with it. So what made this one year such an act of oral regression? I was ticked. And I'm sure my demeanor wasn't exactly helped by the fact that I had discovered the dental hygenist equivalent of Nurse Ratchet.

Okay, maybe that was a bit mean. She was a nice woman. But, seriously, enough is enough.

That spot in my gums still hurts this morning from her incessant poking and scraping.

If there's one upside, it's that licking my wounds is an easy task.


Oh, here it goes again...

I have a bad habit of having a cyclical style of music listening. I don't know why it happens, but it does.

Let me paint a picture for you...

As any of you who have read my posts or checked out the "Hear Me" feature in the sidebar know, I listen to a wide variety of musical genres and artists. Very little is safe from my prying ears. And I've received many comments to this end.

But this interpretation of me is not entirely true.

My musical listening tendencies come and go in cycles. One year, I'm totally into country music, and the next I won't be. I listened to a ton of country in my later undergraduate years, and then I stopped for nearly a decade save for say The Dixie Chicks. Then, last year, for whatever reason, I start to listen again. Nothing triggered it. It just happened. I picked up a country CD, and then another, and then another. And now I'm into it again to some degree. And this after years of bashing country music to my friend Allison. Go fig.

It's not limited to just genres of music, either.

At some moment, I may listen religiously to one band, and then I'll swear them off. My high school and early college days could be defined by my love of Pink Floyd. Then I got so tired of them, I sold every single album I had. This happened almost eight years ago. I haven't listened since. I even change the station when they come on the radio, that's how bad it has become. In my defense, several Chicago radio stations have an obsession with the Pink and play them every friggin' hour. You can only take so much of it.

Ozzytribute A month ago, though, one artist I had sworn off about four years ago due to an insipid MTV reality show that he starred in with his family, suddenly found his way back into my good graces. I don't know how it happened.

One day, I was at the library and I saw one of his CDs -- Ozzy Osbourne's Tribute, one of the finest live albums ever recorded -- so I shrugged my shoulders and checked it out.

Ohmilord, how I've missed the Ozz. Not that I've been playing it nonstop since I checked it out, but anytime it happens to come up in shuffle mode on my iPod, it gets cranked. Coming home from the gym last night, I was rocking out to "Steal Away (the Night)."

But Tribute, and a few songs from No More Tears, are all I have on my computer. Since I've redeveloped this appreciation, I don't want to overdo it. Gotta crawl before you walk, right?


Someone to watch over me...

I've uncovered a funny thing... how my day turns out is determined by my watch of all things.

Since starting my new job, I've been pretty easygoing about things that happen. I don't stress out like I used to. I've been able to take things more in stride and simply shrug off problems that happen. I just do what needs to be done and that's it. It really makes professional life nice.

But one day, a couple weeks ago, the fit hit the shan, if you know what I mean. All kinds of stuff was being thrown at me and it was just generally not a good day. I just couldn't get things done the way I wanted to and there were not enough hours in the day.

This happened again yesterday. It started with me accidentally leaving a tie at home and not thinking much of it. Of course, when I got to work, I realized we had a pretty big deal event happening for which I needed to wear a tie. I had completely forgotten about this event as I never put it in my Palm Pilot. So, instead of looking like a shlub (sp?), I went out and bought one. The only tie I could find that I liked that went with the shirt I was wearing was the only brand of tie not on sale where I was shopping. And, of course, as a result of running to the store, I missed out on a meeting with someone that I also forgot to put in my Palm Pilot.

There were a few other little things that happened as well that I just don't want to bother listing. Suffice to say, they happened.

What do both blech days have in common?

I forgot my watch at home.

I always wear my watch. I'm naked without it. It's one of those items that just "brings it all together," per se. Kinda like The Dude's rug in The Big Lebowski. WIthout it, everything just goes to crap.

Lesson to be learned here? Don't forget your watch (or whatever item it is that helps keep you from falling apart at the seams)!


Further on down the road...

Behind where my parents live, and where I spent most of my teenage years, is a tiny little connector street. It connects the incorporated part of our subdivision with the unincorporated part. It's maybe a hundred or so feet long and has one house along it. For the longest time, it never had a name.

Then, when I was back from college for one summer or another, I believe, I was driving by it and saw that there was now a street sign up for it. And the street was named for the one family that lived in that singular house. I went to school with the kid and never really cared much for him. I didn't hate him, but I wouldn't have supported him if the naming of this street in his family's honor was put to a vote.

Call it jealousy if you will.

At work, I have maps of the city on the wall. They are there more for reference than anything. One of the maps includes all the subdivisions in the city. I love maps. Always have and always will. So I find myself looking up at them all the time.

One day recently, I just happened to look up from my computer and a name caught my eye. It was one of the subdivisions and it bore the surname of someone I knew. Since the name, while unusual to most, is actually pretty common in this city, I didn't really think much of it. Until I looked at the streets within the subdivision and saw that one of them bore her first name, as well.

What the?!?!?

Curiosity got the better of me and I e-mailed her. Yep, it was named for her family because her father owned the farmland on which the subdivision was built.

I want a subdivision. Heck, I'll settle for a street. Maybe even a court or cul-de-sac.

What do I have to do to get one? Please tell me. And without resorting to farming, thank you very much.

Kapgar Court has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Streetsign
image courtesy of Street Sign Generator

Am I aiming too small here? Should I just go balls to the wall and try for the United States of Kapgar?
 


Tenth Avenue freeze out...

I didn't realize it had been nearly two months since I'd posted photos. Then again, it's been that long since I've actually gone out and taken any new shots. That's so unlike me.

I think these are from Wednesday when I was heading out on a lunchbreak. I started walking, realized that there were a lot of great shots to be had, and doubled back for my camera.

So here you go...

icicles
Still just a bit cold.

bolts
These bolts are bigger around than my thumb.

Continue reading "Tenth Avenue freeze out..." »


We're just here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle...

I'm in mourning.

I weep for an old friend I lost on Monday.

That friend being my favorite plastic bowl.

Yeah, yeah, big lead up, heckuva let down, right? Well, I weep all the same if that's okay with you.

Rubbermaid Nearly 14 years ago, I purchased a Rubbermaid Servin' Saver bowl. It was one of my first purchases for college. One of those things you know you're going to need when you live in a dorm that has no kitchen and you will need to cook things every once in a while in a microwave or store things in a minifridge. So I bought it.

It went with me to two colleges, four dorm rooms, three apartments, two states, five cities, and three jobs.

It was beat to death, stained by pasta sauce, and pock-marked where heated contents melted away the inner protective coating.

But it never once gave out on me. I used it for cooking, storage, and eating. And I loved it for its tenacity.

And now it's gone.

At my new job, we have a dishwasher in one of the breakrooms. And, once in a while, when I use it to cook something that I have difficulty washing out by hand, I'll put the bowl in the dishwasher. So I did just that this past Friday.

On Monday, I went in to grab my bowl to use for lunch... and it was gone.

I checked cabinets, the microwave, the sink, even the garbage can and recycle bin. Nothing.

I pray somebody just decided to use it and will eventually return it. But, for now, I can only assume the worst.

It may seem like just a stupid bowl, but it's been many places with me and I planned to use it until the day I die... or it dies... whichever came first. I actually had a slightly sentimental attachment to it.

Even Katie knew exactly what I was talking about when I came home Monday night and told her "my bowl is gone." Her eyes widened and even she got a weepy look in her face. She's known the bowl for our entire relationship and used it herself many times back in college.

I can't bring myself to buy a new one.

Not yet.

It's too soon.

I need to know, for certain, what became of my Rubbermaid friend.


We can start a company and make misery...

My sinuses won't drain.

Therefore, my nose is plugged up.

Therefore, I can't properly breathe.

Therefore, my voice is rather raspy and a bit higher pitched than normal.

Yet, somehow, I manage to find a positive amidst all this feeling-bad crap... I can sing Soul Asylum songs and sound exactly like Dave Pirner!

The silver lining on this grey cloud just gets brighter and brighter, doesn't it?

Oh, and I know this meme is like a week old, but I've got one for you in the extended post.

Continue reading "We can start a company and make misery..." »


It's a free for all...

Johnny thinks I've blogged too much about television so far this year. At the heart of his claim is his belief that I watch too much television. In fact, he has developed a rather extensive post in support of this claim.

I'll water it down for you as it's pretty long... I create a New Year's Resolution to give up swearing as a cover for my real problem... too much television viewing, which, in turn, is resulting in too much television blogging.

I think what Johnny fails to realize is that, aside from my witty insight into the craft of television, I'm actually quite boring.

All joking aside, yes, Katie and I do watch an awful lot of TV. It's a fact we've realized for some time and have been slowly whittling away the number of shows we watch. We don't watch nearly the number we used to. We're a good 30% down on how much we used to watch. So I don't really think his claim is as substantiated as he may think. I blog pretty much about the same shows over and over again. Not hundreds of different shows. Heck, several of his examples of my "overdoing it" are just pop-culture references and don't represent recent viewing habits at all.

But, don't think I haven't noticed that an inordinate number of my posts fall in the Entertainment 2007 category.

However, when you're suffering from a minor creative blockage like I am, you tend to write what you know to keep you going. In my case, I like to think I know television. I studied it in college, after all. I have a master's degree in media studies.

But you know what, even though he didn't word it as such, I accept the challenge inherent in his post. Since we're already paring down how much we watch, I'm going to focus on trying to not blog about television.

That's a bit too broad a challenge, though, isn't it? I can't completely give up on something I love like that, right? I just need to scale back a bit. And that much should be done in baby steps. So I'll start with a week. No blogging about television for one week and we'll see where it goes from there. If it winds up longer, more power to me.

But rules must be set, boundaries drawn, clarifications made.

Unlike in Johnny's post, which applies a very liberal interpretation of what constitutes a "television" post, I will be much more clear about it using several of Johnny's "points" as a launchpad.

  • "Movies" do not equal "Television" when they are watched in a theater
  • "Music" is not "Television" even if the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is televised
  • "Stand-up Comedy" is not "Television" regardless of if the comic shot to stardom on his own series
  • "Sports" are not "Television" despite being aired on TV, that's just programming
  • Likewise, "Politics" are not "Television" even if they are reported on the news or covered on C-SPAN

I can talk about movies I've seen on the big screen, music I listen to, comedians I hope to see live in Vegas, how the Bears are doing in the playoffs, and what jagoff is doing what in D.C. I will not be as loose in my interpretation of what is "television" as Johnny was in his post.

Besides, what better way to overcome some mild writer's block than with a challenge? I accept.

And I'll come up with something for you, too, Johnny. Don't you worry.


See you in the funny pages...

I gave up reading the "funny pages" section of any given newspaper on a regular basis years ago. Basically, it's because it's been years since any comic strip, other than Dilbert, has consistently lived up to the name "funny." But, since I subscribe to Dilbert's RSS feed, there's no reason to look at the paper to see the strip.

I think I can trace my disdain back to the official retirement of Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes, Berkley Breathed's Bloom County (his subsequent strips have been terrible), and Gary Larson's The Far Side, all of which occurred in eerily short order as I recall.

Yet, every once in a while, I will open to the comics page of a newspaper mostly because I'm hankering for a Sudoku, Cryptogram, or crossword puzzle. While there, I may read a strip or two just to see if any of them are even remotely decent.

Yesterday, during my lunch break, I actually did attempt to read all the funnies in one paper. Yes, all of them.

And my eyes haven't stopped bleeding since.

Shall I recap?

Continue reading "See you in the funny pages..." »


It's better to burn out, than fade away...

Sorry to give you a post so late in the day (relatively speaking, of course), but I felt like the floor of a taxi cab (my enduring love to whoever catches that reference) when I woke up this morning. I'm not much better right now, but at least I'm awake. I think.

Like my blog buddy, Nicole, I'm going to spend today doing a bit of a recap of the first night of the two-part season premiere of 24. Only the greatest flippin' show on TV. Sorry to all of you who lend your support to other shows, but nothing compares to 24. Nothing.

If you haven't watched it, continue no further. That's right, steer clear. Don't click on the link for the post continuation. Move on. Nothing to see here. Er, "read."

And we all know this won't be my only post about the show, so I recommend you start watching so these posts make more sense. Deal? You won't regret it.

Continue reading "It's better to burn out, than fade away..." »


You are my sunshine...

Hey, Katie and I finally saw Little Miss Sunshine yesterday. We decided to have a lazy morning and afternoon before going to a game night at our friends' house and we watched it during lunch. Holy cow! That was a fantastic film. While I'm glad I finally did see it, I only wish I saw it sooner so it could've been on my top movie list. And it would most certainly have been. Can I just say how refreshing it is to see how well done a movie can be without reliance on special effects? Just to see some really nice ensemble acting carrying a movie into a greatness. Why does that always seem to be the exception to the rule these days?

But that was not all we watched. Yesterday, we finally finished the remainder of our Thursday night viewings off TiVo. Somehow Ugly Betty managed to be even better this week than last (how a show so good can keep improving is beyond me), and all Grey's Anatomy needed to do was to just air a new show to be good, which they finally did for the first time since November 30. Why do they wait so long between episodes?

Do you remember how I complained about all the NBC shows last week? I said they were all very subpar by my standards (despite changing my tune about The Office). This week, they were all great right out of the starting gate. The Office aired what had to be one of my favorite episodes of the season. Seeing everyone paired off in sales teams was incredibly funny and then seeing Angela at the end of the episode. Yikes! She scares me. Typically, I don't care for her much, but now I can't wait to see what she does next. My Name is Earl with all its multiple personalitied intros and the different narrators... we couldn't stop laughing! And even Scrubs was great. Probably the best episode in two seasons.

For game night last night, though, it turned into more of a situation in which we watched as opposed to played a game. That watching, of course, being the New Orleans Saints beating the Philadelphia Eagles. Wow, what a great game and it came out the way I wanted. And today we have my beloved Bears facing off against the Seattle Seahawks. It should be interesting to watch.

Right after that game, though, I'll be heading to a friend's house. It's a guy I know from my gym, actually. We placed a food wager on the Bears vs Patriots game earlier in the season. Since he's from New England, he wagered on his Pats while I took the Monsters of the Midway. He won. But we opted, instead of just paying the food to each other, to cook out for some game later in the season. We chose the Patriots/Chargers game. It'll be a lot of fun.

And then the night is capped off with the first two-hour premiere episode of 24!!!!! Jack's back tonight, baby!!! Oh God we can't wait! Katie's practically drooling in anticipation. Hard to believe it was just a little more than a year ago that she couldn't care less about the show. Now she's so horribly trapped in the web that show has woven, she can't escape. Nor does she want to. 20 straight weeks of one of our favorite shows on television. No off weeks. Why can't all shows plan their programming schedule like this?


If I close my eyes forever...

I wonder if this sort of thing happens to all couples.

For Katie and I, sleep seems to be trade off. One of us can go a stretch of several weeks where they can just drop off into slumber by doing nothing more than having their head hit the pillow. At this same time, the other person will struggle to find that level of comfort necessary to achieve the same feat. It could take the second person hours if they even manage a semi-decent night's sleep at all.

Then, after those several weeks, the roles will shift. No warning whatsoever.

Right now, I'm the one who's sleeping without a problem. This, of course, means Katie is sleeping for crap. And she's tried everything... TV, reading, Tylenol PM, NyQuil, and several other methods short of knocking herself unconscious with a sledgehammer (although I'm sure she probably considered it at some point). Each thing may work once or twice, but never for more than a couple uses in a row before a temporary immunity is developed.

A couple weeks ago, though, we seem to have found something that will work. It's our old humidifer. We hadn't used the thing in more than a year, if not longer, but it was still alive just waiting for us to break it out and clean it, which Katie did.

The difference is incredible. She's been sleeping so much better since we started using it again. And, just to test our theory that this is indeed the cure, we didn't use it from Sunday through Wednesday night. Well, it was less us testing a theory so much as it was that we were too lazy to refill the thing. All the same, though, Katie had trouble sleeping.

I don't know if it's the moister air, the constant humming of the machine, or perhaps the dripping sound it makes as the water reservoir leaks out into the humidification unit. Whatever it is, it seems to be working so I won't complain.

But I would like to make a recommendation before you decide that this may be the cure for you... make sure you're near a bathroom and you have a direct and obstacle-free route to get there. 4:30 this morning I awake after having a dream in which I'm in the bathroom. I'm off and running for our toilet. Nope, no accident. But given just a little more time...

When you dream about peeing, you know it's time to go.


No phone no phone... summons me with just one beep...

On a quick aside, just so none of you worry, despite our little game of Comment Pong (tm) yesterday regarding the new iPhone, Dave and I are cool. It was just a healthy debate on technology. We're back at a place in our relationship where he tolerates my existence, I still worship the ground he walks on, and Bad Monkey has stopped flinging poo in my general direction. Although this last bit may have more to do with the fact that Bad Monkey is all dried up after flinging handful after handful at the TV during Bushie's Presidential Address last night.

*splat*

Ah! Why you little...

Oooh oooh oooh eeee eeee!!!

While I clean the excrement off my face, I'd like to take a moment to tell you about something that happened to me recently that both made me crack the heck up and feel exceptionally bad all at the same time. That's quite a feat actually.

So I was on the cell phone with a friend who was explaining something that happened to them (no gender qualifiers here) when I heard a beep in my headset that a call was coming through. I looked at my caller ID and saw it was Katie.

Since I'm still not entirely familiar with how my phone works, I decided to flip it open to see what on-screen options presented themselves. I'd never even used the call waiting feature on my Razr so I didn't know what to do. What I didn't realize is that, by flipping the phone open, I'd clicked over to Katie.

I apologized to Katie and said I'd call her back because I had Friend X on the other line. She said cool and I clicked the "flip" button.

When I got back to the original call, Friend X was still talking away completely oblivious to the fact that I had left the conversation. Sadder still, I was even able to pick up on what X was talking about even though I'd missed out on about 10-15 seconds of the conversation. I could even answer a question that came up just then as though I hadn't missed a beat.

I never told Friend X what happened. I would've felt too bad about it. But I was laughing hysterically as I called Katie back. When I described what happened, Katie started laughing, too. It was almost like that scene in How I Met Your Mother a few weeks back where Robin could just put the phone down during a conversation with her mother and the mom never realized she was gone. Of course, Robin's actions were intentional whereas mine were purely accidental, but with similar results.

Friend X, if you happen to read this and put two and two together to realize I'm talking about you, then allow this post to serve as an apology. I really do feel bad. Although you did give me great blog fodder.


Yeah rock me all night...

If told ahead of time that this post would fall in my "Toys 2007" category, you might assume that I'd be all over Apple's recent iPhone announcement, wouldn't you? Not a bad guess, but you'd be wrong. The thing, while cool, has far too many issues in my mind to make it a worthwhile investment.

But, yes, this post is about cool stuff, just not the iPhone. Now on to the real meat and potatoes.

Good things come to those who wait. And I waited.

I've been searching for a while for a good piece of software that would allow me to take ripped DVD content and decompress it so I could burn copies of DVDs for myself. My purpose here, of course, is to make legal back-up copies of my own DVD collection.

Plus, I've also been wanting to find a way to take shows that Katie and I have saved on our TiVo and get them on our computer to both burn DVDs that we can watch on our DVD player as well as pare them down to work on our iPods. The best way to do this would be TiVoToGo, which allows for transfers from a TiVo unit directly to a computer of your choosing. However, this little software gem is only available for Windows users. And you all know which way my operating system swings.

I've tried to uncover other ways to achieve both these goals of mine, but to no avail. Some of the software I've tried is either too complex or just doesn't work.

Now, however, comes my savior!

Roxio_logo Roxio Toast 8 Titanium!

Not only does it allow for DVD decompression and burning, but it also supports Blu-Ray discs. That's a good thing.

But the big news regarding the most recent version of Toast is that it has TiVoToGo for Mac built in!

This will be the first time in a long time I've willingly and readily dished out $80 for software. Soooo worth it!

(for the record, you'll pay $100 off the bat, but there's a $20 mail-in rebate)

Ahhhhhhhh!!! Roxio, you rock my world!!


I drive all night just to see the light...

I'm not sure if it was the news that Van Halen is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that motivated me or not, but, on the way home from work last night, I finally stopped off at a local guitar store that I've been eying for more than a year. It's just a little place tucked inside an old downtown building in the town next to where we live. We pass it all the time on the way to our friends' house, but I've never gone in.

For those not familiar, I used to play guitar. Heck, I used to own three or four of them. But, as is often the case, things are done in college to earn a little extra cash. Some steal, some starve, some sell plasma, some strip (that would be a friend of mine). In my case, I wound up selling off all my guitars and equipment. It's a decision that helped at the time, but I often regret.

I should have sold plasma.

So I stopped in this place to have a look around.

I knew a little bit about it because a guy who was in the M.B.A. program with me is a fan of the shop. In fact, one of his class projects was a business plan and a Web site for this store where he often helped with servicing of the instruments they take in. Yep, in addition to new guitars, they do sell used as well. And their prices are not bad at all. That was what intrigued me... a small shop, in-house service, used equipment. Three good things.

I set my eyes on a slate grey Squire Stratocaster, grabbed a pick, and sat down.

This isn't the first time I've done this, just sat in a guitar shop and played. But it's been a while. And the fingers get rusty, as does the memory. Heck it's been nearly a decade since I owned and played regularly. So all I could remember right there on the spot, and with the teenaged employee watching me from behind the counter with a mixture of curiosity and late-shift boredom, was two songs... Skid Row "18 and Life" and Cinderella "Gypsy Road." Two of my favorite songs and fun ones to play. I attempted to plunder the depths of my memory to force out the fingering for Van Halen's "Runnin' With the Devil," but it wasn't happening. Bummer.

The guitar had a few nicks and surface scratches, but they were love marks, you could tell. This axe was loved by someone. And, sadly, it likely wound up the victim of necessity much like my beloved Ibanez... the need to get some money in a tough time. I prefer to think it was sold back to the store in order to give some other new player the chance to learn using a relatively inexpensive instrument while they traded up for something more expensive. Call it the musical romantic in me. But it was fairly well restored by the shop and played quite nicely.

It felt good to play again. It really did. I miss it.

I wanted it. But I walked away. Heck, I hardly have time to play my video games or read books on a regular basis, how can I justify a guitar?

But I'm sure I'll go back and play in-store again. Dunno if the Strat will still be there, but I can find another to play. Of that I'm sure.


We have all the time in the world...

I'm suffering from severe blogger block right now, so I think I'll give you some snippets if that's okay. I'll give you more than just TV ones, though. Hopefully, there will be a little something for everyone.

Bathroom Blog
My friend, Diane, has started up a new blog dedicated to the best and the worst of toilets that you've encountered in your life and travels. If you have some cool (or nasty) photos, send them her way.

The first bloggapotty comes to us via another friend, Kilax, showing some Euroingenuity. It's interesting. But, as I stated in my comment, far too pretty to ever want to poop on.

The Office
Okay, as per your suggestion, Katie and I have watched last week's episode of The Office again and, yes, it is much better than the first watch through. Still not as great as past episodes this year, but our disdain is much more minimal. Be happy.

Netflix
I looked at our rental history on Netflix last night and discovered that we've rented a grand total of 13 movies in the last 90 days. That's pathetic. It's hardly worth it. But we simply don't have the time we once had.

Thankfully, we finally did get a chance to watch the three we had here this weekend. They included Ice Age: The Meltdown (not bad), Invincible (very cool), and On Her Majesty's Secret Service (niiiiiiiicccceeeee, one of the best Bond flicks ever).

Should our next batch come in the way we've queued it, we'll be watching Little Miss Sunshine, The Fantastic Four (in anticipation of the sequel this summer), and Entourage season 2 sometime this weekend. Good stuff. Maybe I can even get Katie hooked on Entourage. Hey, it could happen.

Football Playoffs
Well, the NFC playoffs turned out just as I predicted with the Seahawks over the Cowboys and Eagles over the Giants. The AFC didn't, however. I was really pulling for the Jets and Chiefs. But it didn't happen. Instead, the Patriots and Colts will move on to the next round. Sad.

Many Bears fans wanted to see the Giants beat the Eagles so the Bears would wind up facing the Giants in next week's game. But, being the Grossman-fearing Bears fan that I am, I'm afraid we'd be screwed regardless who we face. Both the Giants and the Seahawks will be out for revenge for losses to the Bears earlier in the season and I don't know if Grossman is up to task. Not that he ever was. We'll see.

Firesale
I'm not sure if this is allowed or not by Typepad. Should one of their admins read this, please weigh in. But can I use my blog to sell something? Not like I'm going retail whore or anything. Just a one-time deal.

I'm asking because Katie and I realize that we have far too many CDs, DVDs, and books and not enough room to store them all. And, since resale shops give you jack anymore and e-Bay can be a hassle, we thought we may open up the list to all of you. Cheap prices, good quality, great sellers (if we do say so ourselves).

Would anybody be interested? We have yet to weed through our collection and pick out what will go, but it should be a fairly long list. Let me know.


Cupid only misses sometimes...

Woo hoo! Happy day!

Ugly Betty is now available for both individual episode and season pass downloads from the iTunes Store!

Uglybetty

I swear it's just a matter of time before Apple rules the Earth. Well, they might have to fight Google for it, but still and all the same.

Oh, and help out my buddy, Dave, get his favorite show, Cupid, released on DVD by voting at sonypictures.com. He makes some strong arguments as to why it needs to be released and I'm dying to see it, too. So help a brutha out. It'll take you a whopping ten seconds, if that.


I got a strange disease...

I hate this.

No, not my New Year's Resolution, although I have had to pitch in another 50 cents for Crimes Perpetrated Against the English Language.

It's the fact that Katie's sick. She's been sick all week. Sinus congestion, headaches, sweating, all that good stuff. And there's nothing I can do about it. I want to help, but I don't know what to do. She can't tell me what I can do to help, either, because, in all honesty, there's nothing that can be done. Considering what's wrong with her, it's basically a waiting game... wait and hope it goes away on it's own.

I don't like waiting. I just want it gone.

And I blame her job. She was perfectly healthy those two weeks before this past week when she was on vacation. The day she goes back, she gets sick. Our theory is that she's allergic to work. Can you get workman's comp for that? Heh.


Hey Betty Betty, hush your mouth...

Some TV snippets for you today as I'm not feeling particularly original.

Must-See?
Was it just us or did last night's NBC sitcom offerings just blow? Scrubs had one or two decent scenes, but, like the whole season so far, was just not good. Maybe it was simply my lack of familiarity with House that made it a waste to me. My Name is Earl was uncharacteristically boring. I liked the idea of having Cops in Camden County, but I think they just took it a bit too far. Even The Office was off last night. The only time I really got into it was the scene when Dwight is trying to comfort Pam through her crying bout. That was stinkin' hilarious. But, otherwise, just not good.

Oh yeah, still not watching 30 Rock. Sorry.

We're going to try to give them another chance likely this weekend. Maybe it'll take a couple viewings to truly appreciate these episodes. Here's hoping.

Dreaming Betty
Thankfully we had a good episode of Ugly Betty last night that was also new. New is good. And seeing a little more of the background in the love triangle between Betty, Walter, and Henry was nice. But it just makes it more difficult for me to decide who I like better.

This indecision has even carried over into my dreams, sad as it sounds.

I was having an Ugly Betty-inspired dream in which Betty is being comforted through her two-man dilemma by her father, Ignacio, in the front yard of their house (what little front yard there is). Then, in a scene reminiscent of Sixteen Candles, a vehicle moves to reveal a car on the other side with a guy leaning against it waiting a la Jake Ryan. We don't see who it is initially, but the camera of my mind cuts over and starts to slowly pan up from foot to head (I apparently dream like I'm a Director of Photography, go fig) with occasional cuts back to Betty and her dad or over to her nephew, Justin, who is dancing maniacally to the car's sound system. Finally, when the camera was about to reveal his head, I woke up. So even I don't know who it was.

I hate my dreams.

Death to Brian
Katie and I really like What About Brian. It's a pretty decent and underperforming show that even the President of ABC seems to enjoy standing behind. It started off all about a guy who is still single amongst his six friends that are all in relationships with each other. Two pairs were married and the third pair were engaged. That dynamic has changed a bit with certain goings-on this season, but it's still an enjoyable watch.

However, I think we can now say it's about to jump the shark. The female Ted McGinley (also known as the TV show killer) is about to join the cast. That would be Tiffani Thiessen. Yes, cute Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell seems to have become the jump-the-shark punchline for many a show. Let's see just how many shows can mark their downhill descent with her arrival... Beverly Hills 90210; Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place; Just Shoot Me; and Good Morning, Miami, for starters. Did I miss any?

And now she will cast her kiss-of-death ways on a show we really enjoy. Gahhhh!!!

I'm crying inside.


Got it right this time...

For some strange reason, I had an inkling I was going to regret having posted my Best Albums of 2006 list.

Why? Because I just listened to another 2006 release that would have made the list. And not just the Honorable Mentions. This one would've been in the top 10. Heck, it would've been in the top 5, it's that good.

Keithurban It is Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing by everybody's favorite Nicole Kidman-loving, rehab-junkie* Keith Urban. This is one that I never considered buying nor even really listening to. But, I picked it up from the library for whatever reason and it's fantastic.

But what scares me about this discovery is that I now have three country albums on my top 20 -- The Dixie Chicks, The Wreckers, and Keith Urban. Well, technically, you can argue that the Mark Knopfler/Emmylou Harris album is also country, so it's now up to four. That's 20% of my list populated with country. I haven't listened to this much country music since I was trying to impress a girl in college. It worked for about a week.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this new-found appreciation of country. Do I embrace it and listen to more? Do I just accept it and go on with life? Do I nab a ten-gallon hat, some Levis, and boots and start signing off e-mails with "Yee haw, buckaroo"?

No, it's me you're talking to. I'm fighting it tooth and nail. I went to the library during my lunch break yesterday and picked up the new albums from Three Days Grace, Hoobastank, Jurassic-5, Disturbed, and Ghostface Killah. YEAH!

* Would the words "rehab" and "junkie" used in tandem effectively cancel each other out? They seem rather diametrically opposed, don't they?


And I swear...

I know it's a couple days after the fact, but better late than never to report to you all on my New Year's Resolution. Mostly because I'm going to need your help with it.

I resolved, as per a request from Katie, to curb my swearing. Yes, I do tend to swear here and there. Alright, I'm a flippin' truck driver. And I told her I would try to tone down my language a bit. We have friends who all have kids who, much like the tyke from Meet the Fockers, have brains like sponges. God only knows what wonderfully flowery language they might pick up from Uncle Kapgar.

It ends here and now. Well, actually it ended two days ago at 12:01 a.m. And, when I violate the resolution, a quarter goes in our swear jar. I've already put a buck in so far.

But, and here's where I need your help, I'm extending this resolution to include my blog and comments I leave on other blogs as well.

NyresolutionI'm placing a button in the menubar on my homepage that reads "Report a New Year's Resolution Violation" that will link back to this post. Feel free to report legitimate violations of my New Year's Resolution here or elsewhere that date after January 1, 2007, in the comments to this post. If possible, please link to the specific violation as proof. No forging comments that are "from me" as I will know.

Here are the specifics...

  • H-E-double-hockeysticks -- no no
  • Dam that is not of the beaver (animal) or Hoover variety -- nuh uh
  • The four-letter, fecal-related word beginning with "s" -- nope
  • The A, B or F words -- not allowed
  • I can't even use beyo$%^

I can, however, use ones that come from, say, Johnny Dangerously (fargin', icehole, somonabatch, etc.). Those are allowed as per Katie. I can also use "heck," "darn," "dang," "shiznit," "Shiitake Mushrooms" (thank you, Spy Kids), and any number of other less-fun words and variants in the English language.

Speaking of "English language," I may have to get a ruling on Spanish cursing. I do have a degree in that language, after all.

So hold me to it, will ya? This will only work if people call me on it.

Good thing the NFL season's almost done. That's a big source of my rampant swearing.


Jerry was a race car driver...

I've never been to Las Vegas and, to be honest, I never really had much desire to go. If I died not having ever gone to Vegas, it would not have bugged me much. Katie's been there before, however, and is looking forward to going again.

Now my brother is getting married in Sin City this June so we're committed to going considering I'm the Best Man in the wedding and Katie is one of the Bridesmaids.

So, not only are we on a New Year's quest to lose weight and look dead sexy in our tux and gown (I'd hope you can figure out which one of us is wearing what), but we are working on figuring out things to do in Vegas.

And tonight, we found the ultimate show to see... Jerry Seinfeld. Yep, he's doing a 2007 run of stand-up shows in Vegas and I WANT TO GO. His schedule has not yet been announced so there's no way to know if he will actually be performing when we're there. And then, of course, there's the looming price barrier. But I still want to go, dang it!

Please be there when we're there, Jerry! And don't charge an arm and a leg. I only have two of each and have offered them up as collateral for our airfare and hotel stay in Vegas.


Y nuevo ano felicidad...

Would you like to hear a recipe for a great New Year's weekend? Here you go...

1. A showing of Wicked at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago. This is our second time seeing this musical and it has not failed to impress us either time. It's fantastic. But, this time, we were able to introduce my brother and the FSiL to it. Both of them loved it also. If you ever have a chance, we highly recommend it.

2. An Ugly Betty marathon on ABC Family. The entire first half of the season replayed in order. How can you go wrong? That is such a fantastic show and one of our favorites of the season.

3. Watching the Bears v. Packers game despite the fact that the Bears did lose miserably. Notable comment from the game...

Me: "Do we have a quarterback we can rely on?!?!"

Katie: "May-nard! May-nard! May-nard!"

But I will say that the only way to watch football is to TiVo it and then tune in a bit later. You get to fast forward through all that insipid announcer commentary. God I hate sports announcers.

4. Tear apart a gingerbread house that miraculously survived the entire holiday season. Couldn't eat a bit of it as the gingerbread was stale out of the box, though.

5. Have some fantastic food like a homemade taco dip courtesy of Katie and a dessert of Edy's Vanilla Bean ice cream covered in rum-glazed bananas courtesy of me (using a recipe book we own, though) and chocolate sauce courtesy of Katie.

Yeah, good weekend. Check that... great weekend!

Hope your's was great as well.

Happy 2007 to all of you!