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23 posts from April 2007

I can see all obstacles in my way...

Have any of you seen that new commercial for Lowe's Hardware featuring the two neighbors who seem to be constantly engaged in a game of home repair oneupsmanship? One guy does something, the other guy does it, but better. Well, even if you haven't seen the commercial, I'm sure you know what I mean.

Well, Katie is convinced that she has now identified our neighborhood competition. There is a guy across the street that seems intent on doing all the same things to his garage that we have done to ours.

Reorganizing all the crap on the shelves? Oh yeah.

Paint the walls? Check.

Seal and fleckcoat the floor? Yep.

Put up a screen door? You betcha.

We're not sure if this competition will extend to other parts of the house, but if we see a carpet company at his place any time soon or see him assembling a new grill like we were yesterday, we will then know for certain.

But you should have seen Katie this weekend as we were working on the garage. Every so often, she'd stop in the middle of a task and just glare across the street at the neighbor doing his thing in the garage and make snide comments under her breath like "we did it first, and better" or "that screen door looks like crap." Too funny.

TUA: Was it brighter than normal this morning when you all woke up? I got out of bed at 5:30 to go take my shower and it was as bright outside at that time as it usually is at 7:00 when I leave for work. I freaked out thinking I overslept and started checking every clock and watch I could find to see what was up, but they were all showing the time it was supposed to be. Right now, I have 8:30 a.m. levels of brightness coming in my window. What's going on? What did I miss?


And we got nothing to be guilty of...

Oh I feel guilty. So flippin' guilty.

There is a woman I know (no, don't go there) who is in awe of me because she thinks I've lost a ton of weight over the last couple months (I told you not to go there). She swears that I've lost upwards of 25 pounds. And she is constantly complimenting the "new svelte me."

Flattered? Sure I am. Who wouldn't be? It truly feels good to be complimented.

But I've had one of those weeks where I just don't feel like I deserve the praise.

Katie and I got some Chinese food on Monday night. We had a craving that we just couldn't get rid of. And, although we didn't really get the worst stuff on the menu, nothing on a Chinese menu is particularly fantastic on a diet. Oh yeah, the leftovers lasted for a few days.

Yesterday, I forgot to take my lunch in to work. I had reconciled myself to going to Subway and picking up what amounts to a seven-point sandwich. Not bad. And I like Subway, so it's good. However, I mentioned to a coworker that I forgot my lunch and he told me he didn't bring one either. So I said, "you wanna go grab something?" He said yes. Then he recommended Portillo's. Oh sweet Portillo's. Again, I didn't have the worst thing on the menu, I had a grilled chicken sandwich. But I also had fries with it. Cheese fries at that. And a big mutha of a root beer.

Clearly I'm not feeling like I deserve this woman's praise. Add salt to the open wound with her saying that I've become her inspiration to go on a diet of her own.

Oh God.

I need to get back on the wagon.

TUA (Totally Unrelated Aside):
Katie and I have discovered some pretty cool new products that we both like and felt like we should share. After all, one of my favorite things about this whole blogging phenomenon is the ability to share ideas and recommendations with all of you.

First up is my Crystal Light To Go Immunity - Pomegranate Cherry. These are the little mix ins that you put in a bottle if you're sick of just plain old water. Crystal Light is a bit hit or miss with me. Some people will argue it's a little sweet for their taste, but I absolutely love this one and recommend it to those who have a sweet tooth. I wish I could link you up somewhere to find it, but the Crystal Light site is not connecting and Amazon doesn't carry this one yet (not in To Go form, anyway).

Crestvanilla Katie, on the other hand, has discovered a new toothpaste she loves. It is the Crest Whitening Expressions Refreshing Vanilla Mint. In her own words, "it's like brushing with a Tic-Tac." And, after using it for the first time this morning, I have to agree. Plus, how many toothpaste boxes have a scratch n' sniff patch on them so you can tell what they smell like? That, alone, earns Crest some props.

Ah the hunt for cool, new products in the great American marketplace. There's nothing quite like it, is there?


Throw it up...

A couple days ago, when I posted about my disc-golf induced injury, I received comments from Geeky Tai Tai and Nat asking what disc golf was. I promised them a post describing the game and that is exactly what I plan to do here.

Of course, not everyone is necessarily going to be interested in reading about disc golf. So, if you are not one of them, click on the link for the extended post to catch my response to a new meme floating around out there.

And off we go...

How best to word this... disc golf is pretty much just that, a game of golf using discs.

Many people would better recognize the game by the name "Frisbee Golf" or "Frolf" as it's referred to in the infamous "Summer of George" episode of Seinfeld. The only problem with this name is that Frisbee is a trademarked name owned by the Wham-O! company and, while they're renowned for making Frisbee Flying Discs, they have never -- until recently, apparently, according to their site -- made one of the types of discs preferred by disc golf enthusiasts.

Golfdiscs Disc golf uses a type of disc made of much harder plastic than a standard Frisbee. They have a smaller diameter and a shorter height to them. The edges are also typically denser and sharper ended (bottom example, at right). These differences allow the disc to fly much farther and faster than a Frisbee. You can also do some pretty wicked aerobatics with them. The one thing you don't want to do is play catch with it. You will be in pain. Intense pain. (image courtesy of disclife.com)

Basically, you start with your disc and tee off from a tee box just like in golf. Sometimes these boxes are just dirt or gravel patches while, other times, they are a nicely defined box using wood planks to set them off from the rest of the terrain around them.

After teeing off, you continue throwing your disc until you make it in the cage which is basically an upright metal pole with about a six-inch deep, two-foot diameter basket at the bottom sitting about three feet off the ground and a foot-and-a-half diameter disc at the top. Loose chains connect the top to the basket and serve to catch and hold the disc when you throw it in.

The goal is to get the disc from the tee box to the cage in a certain number of shots, or "par." Most pars range from three to five shots. The par is determined by distance from tee box to cage as well as the overall difficulty of the hole. Pros may play all holes at just three shots regardless of distance because they are insane and like to challenge themselves. I am not a pro.

Once you get into the game a bit more, you can expand your collection of discs by buying more specialized ones. Just like in real golf where you have different clubs depending on distance and terrain, in disc golf you have discs for long-distance driving, short-distance approach, and putting. They even have some that will curve right or left or stay straight based on how they're shaped and how you throw.

It can be an intense game depending on who you are playing with. But it can also be a lot of fun and some good exercise as you're constantly moving and hiking around the course. I love the game and have taken Katie with me a few times. Most of the time, though, I get together with my dad and brother or some friends and play a round.

The best part is that most courses are free since they are owned and maintained by park districts. The only cost you'll incur is the onetime price of your disc, which can range from $8-25. The PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) Web site lists courses around the U.S. I'm not sure what sites exist for disc golfers outside the states, but I'm sure there are some.

Give it a try sometime. You might enjoy it.

Continue reading "Throw it up..." »


No one said it would be easy...

My dearest Sheryl,

Since you first appeared on the scene back in my undergrad days of college, I've had a crush on you. Your penetrating eyes. The long, curly brown hair. Pouty lips. Soulful voice.

And I know I wasn't the only one. Half the guys on my floor had your album or a poster of you up on the wall. And I was fine sharing you with them.

Through the years, the love remained strong despite such relationship breakers as you losing weight, going glam, dying blonde, straightening the hair, and *GAH!* getting engaged to that bicycle guy. I was willing to forgive you these transgressions.

But this latest act of yours really has me wondering, am I man enough to be your man? Can I do what you asked on your blog? Can I really limit myself to one square of toilet paper per visit to the john?

I want to save the Earth as much as anybody does. Katie and I recycle as much as possible. We shop at Trader Joe's. We use (and then reuse) paper bags when available. All the new cars that we've been pricing for that day when one of us must buy a new one have been either high mileage or even hybrid, if at all possible. We turned the heat down a few degrees in the cold months and the air conditioner up a few degrees in the warm months, when it's too unbearable to open windows and use fans, that is. We've even started switching over to CFLs.

However, this latest call to action may be going a bit over the top, my dear.

Do you really not have any better suggestions? Something more significant? Something more realistic?

If not, and if you really stand by this statement, then, much like the tree I'm using to obtain my TP, our love is dead. I'm sorry, but you can kiss my lily-white, well-wiped butt.

Because, if you're only using one square of toilet paper, I'll be damned if I'm kissing yours.

Sincerely,

kapgar

P.S. I have a meme for you in the extended post. Probably not very environmentally friendly either. They require factories to create and, in two out of three cases, electric power to operate. Sorry.

Continue reading "No one said it would be easy..." »


Pistons poppin', ain't no stoppin' now...

Yeah, kid, I see you there. Lookin' all cool in your shades. Gunnin' the engine of your shiny new 'Vette. It's so new it still has TEMP plates.

You look over your shoulder and see me in my truck in the lane next to you, set back a few feet.

You gun it again. I'm not taking the bait. Why should I? You're in a 'Vette, I'm in a Ranger. You'll wipe the street with me. You know it. I know it. Why bother?

Now I see and hear you gradually notching up the volume on the Treo that's hardwired to your stereo. If I won't take you up on one challenge, you think I will on the second?

Yeah, you're right. This time I'm biting.

My iPod and I are matching you decibel for decibel, kiddo. And I will win.

I see you looking back at me. You know what's going on. Even you realize that the nouveau crap schlock rock du jour leaking out your meager sound system pales in comparison to the king. My stereo's pumping out Sabbath's "Iron Man." You have chosen... poorly.

You take off from the line as the light turns green. You may think this is your chance to claim victory by showing vehicular dominance. But all I see is someone running away.

I own you.

Bow to the king.


I, I feel so alive...

I think I suddenly understand the appeal of fight clubs.

I don't remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of how being battered and bruised and seeing those marks and feeling that pain coursing through your body every time contact is made with it, you feel alive. Some strange appeal to it. Some might argue that it's sick. Me? Not so much.

No, I did not get in a fight over the weekend. In fact, I haven't been in a fight since junior high save for the occasional wrestling match with a friend.

But I did injure myself pretty badly while playing disc golf with my dad and brother. Yes, it sounds a bit wussy, admittedly. How can my wiping out while tossing a disc compare to people who fight for fun? It can't. But it's the resulting injuries and that subsequent feeling of "life" flowing through you every time a new wave of pain engulfs your body that is the comparison point.

I am Jack's cold sweat.

I misstepped as I tee'd off on a hole. I lost my balance and jammed my foot in the four-by-four plank at the front of the tee box and did a header. I then rolled into a pile of loose rock and dead branches and wound up on my head. My body balanced in a ball in the air for nearly a second before I completed the tuck and roll.

I tore up my right knee. I've also got minor scrapes on both elbows and my right forearm. There was also that headache that wouldn't quit. All I wanted to do was lie down and sleep the rest of the day. Mild concussion? Perhaps. But I'm still alive today, so it's all good.

I am Jack's smirking revenge.

But it was the pain that I still feel this morning in my leg that has me intrigued. It's not like the pain you feel when you cut yourself or you land on your knee after a fall. This is a searing pain that I only feel when it's touched. There's nothing otherwise. But the smallest thing can set it off. As I slept last night, I rolled on it several times and I woke up ready to scream. I took a shower this morning and was attempting to wash it out and I just couldn't take the water hitting it either directly or indirectly. Heck, the fan in our bedroom blew on it and that set me off.

And the pain felt good. I feel like I'll actually miss it when it heals.

I am Jack's raging bile duct.

How sick am I?

If you care to see it, you can click over to Flickr. I don't recommend doing this while eating. Some of you might not appreciate it. I'm sure many of you have seen worse, but some of you still aren't fans of this sort of thing. Hey, just be happy I'm not posting the picture here thus forcing you to look at it.


And I've got to get that message home...

I think the Chinese may have been on to something. Or, at the very least, those fortune cookie companies that purport to be from China anyway.

The other day, Katie and I pulled in front of Home Depot so she could run in and pay our Depot credit bill. She took my wallet since she didn't have her card on her. When she handed my Depot card to the cashier, the cashier peered down with a puzzled look on her face at the small slip of paper that was stuck to the back of the card. "You might want this back," she said, handing Katie a fortune cookie fortune that I forgot I had in my wallet.

After forcing down a sudden desire to devour some sesame chicken, Katie asked why I had a fortune in my wallet. I told her the truth... "it's not the only one."

I thumbed between a couple cards in my wallet and pulled out seven different fortunes that I had collected over the years from what appears to be three different restaurants (or cookie manufacturers, as the case may be, based on the different design styles).

I'm not typically superstitious or a big believer in the seer-style of living my life, but, for some reason, I dug these and held on to them. And these, I felt, were pretty decent. Check them out...

"Listen these next few days to your friends to get answers you seek"
I received this one about the time I was interviewing for my current job. And I actually did call some friends for help with it (you know who you are and I thank you).

"You will soon be on a secret mission of the heart"
Not nearly as adulterous as it may initially be interpreted. I thought it applied much more to an unbenownst-to-Katie project I was undertaking to try to fix a broken necklace I gave to Katie as a wedding present.

"It's okay to slow down and smell the roses"
Advice moreso than a fortune. But just something that I think many of us forget to do.

"Appreciate the caring people who surround you"
Katie, my family, her family, and all of our friends (including all of you)!

"Your talents will be recognized and rewarded"
Work related. I'm not going to go into it. ;-)

"Your leadership qualities will shine soon"
See above. But I suppose both of these could work when considered along with the class I was supposed to teach and will probably be teaching this summer.

"You will discover something wonderful about yourself"

As much as I'm hoping this will translate into me finding a large cache of cash that I forgot I horded as a child, I somehow doubt it. This is the one that I have yet to realize, but if the first six are any indication, it should be pretty nice!

Really, I'm not a junk collector. Honestly. It was just a matter of considering how many fortunes anymore are complete crap. So these few were pleasant surprises. And, apparently, worthy of being slipped into my wallet. Heh.


No more, no more...

Wow, after receiving a comment from my brother in law, Scott, yesterday congratulating me on two days in a row of what he deemed "perfect posts," I really feel bad that I'm about to lay the schlock down on you today. But, oh well, my streak had to come to a crashing halt sometime, right? And what better way to do that than with snippets!!!

Hang Up
Do I exude "poverty"? When you think about me and what you know about my life, does the concept of "destitution" subsequently pop in your head?

At home last night after work, I received a call identified on our caller ID as my alma, "Northern Ill. Univ."

"Uh oh," my brain said. "They want money. Do I pick it up? Do I not? I already know I'm going to say 'no' but should I at least let them talk and then practice my repertoire of denial methods? Yeah, let's practice." So I picked up.

"Mr. Apgar," the telemarketer said. "My name is Susie Jonesingforyou and I'm calling on behalf of Northern Illi..." and the line went dead.

Did she realize who she was talking to and suddenly just know that there was no money to be had? I can just envision her supervisors in the background... "Crap! It's that Apgar bastage! Hang up! Hang up!"

Wow, I've got a reputation. Or I'm just reading into this too much.

Reading into it is so much more fun, though, isn't it? ;-)

Cancelled
Sadly, my two park district classes were cancelled. Apparently, there was a general lack of registration across the board on their classes and several were canned as a result.

I'm bummed about it and, at the same time, a bit relieved. An odd mix, I'm sure. I was looking forward to teaching, but I was simultaneously anxious about my ability to do it. I felt wholly underprepared despite the classes being about topics I know fairly well (blogging and photography).

I think they're going to try again this summer. Cross your fingers for me. Please?

Lunch
I've blazed myself a path down a slippery slope. This past week, I packed Katie a lunch. Sandwich, apple sauce, and a piece of fruit. I put it, complete with a little note, in her ladybug lunch bag (yes, we both have lunchbags; her's looks like a ladybug because she likes them) and stuck it in the fridge for her to find when she left for work.

She was caught completely off guard and absolutely loved it. That's great, right?

Yeah, until she starts to give you the "pouty, guilty eyes" when you don't do the same every day thereafter.

Help! I'm slipping!

All Dolled Up
Oh, and speaking of birthdays, as I was yesterday, it turns out that while on a shopping trip with Katie, my mom bought a gift for our not-yet-even-conceived daughter. It would seem she's dropping not-so-subtle hints in our general direction, wouldn't you say?

And the gift? A doll... GAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

I guess it could've been a ventriloquist dummy...

Painted like a clown...

That suddenly comes to life and eats my flesh...

But this is pretty darn close.

My mom's response to Katie when she -- God love her -- expressed concern on my behalf regarding it being a doll... "He needs to grow a pair."

Love you too, mom.


And party every day...

I find it odd that I know two people who share a birthday. For some of you, that may not seem like so big a deal, but to me, it just is. Plus, they're both really cool people. And this birthday puts one of them at 34 years old and the other at 33.

You all know the first. She is the wonderful Miss Sizzle. If you don't know her and absolutely love her, clearly your head is on backwards or it's shoved in a very dark, tight, smelly place. When you figure out what's wrong and remedy the situation, go over to her site and wish her a happy birthday. She's very deserving of your well wishes. Plus, she's been plugging her birthday lovefest, so join in the shenanigans.

The other is someone you don't know except maybe for one post I put up some time ago that you may or may not have read.

His name is Mike and he is one of my best friends. Ever.

The only problem is that I cannot really say "happy birthday" to him. At least not in a physical sense.

Mike died back in 1993 while I was a freshman at Iowa State University. I believe it was some kind of cancer that killed him.  A guy that liked everyone. A guy that everyone liked.

I haven't been able to speak with him in nearly 14 years. The last time I really saw him was on a road trip he and I took to Cedar Rapids, IA, to visit some of his family and check out a record store he loved.

So, today, I'm spending my lunch break hanging out with him in the only way I can think how. By his grave, chilling out, sharing a KISS mix with him via my iPod.

God, he'd love iPods.

Happy birthday, Sizzle and Mike.


Mama, you been on my mind...

We don't get to travel nearly as much as we would like to or that we may have at one point in our lives thought we would. We've got rather normal, sedentary jobs. We have a home. We have bills. All that good stuff.

What this means is that we tend to remember our few trips very fondly. We take time to talk about them and think about what we'd do when we go back. We also like to think about how a place we've visited may have changed in the years since we've been there.

Katie is a big fan of colleges. She likes to visit them just to see what they're all about, see if they fit her "ideal" of what a college campus should look like, and also buy a sweatshirt. She loves her college sweatshirts.

Together we've been to Northern Illinois (our alma mater... go Huskies!), Stanford, UW-Madison, Illinois State, University of Hawaii-Manoa, UC-Berkeley, and some others that I can't quite recall.

And I, during my own personal travels, have been to a few additional campuses. In all these travels, I've only ever seen one college that fit my ideal of what a campus should look like. Big, beautiful buildings that looked like pieces of art. Large, open expanses of grass with students laying out doing homework and playing frisbee. A student union that was unlike any I had seen up to that point. A garden of flowers that, when viewed from afar, formed the school's logo... an orange-bordered burgundy V connected at the top to the letter T.

It wasn't just the campus, either. The surrounding town was beautiful as well. And it was one of the first towns to be completely wired to the World Wide Web, with a company setting up Web sites for every little mom 'n' pop shop in the 'Burg. It was so ahead of the curve that you couldn't help but love it, admire it, and wish it was your own town.

I longed for the day I could take Katie there to show her what my brain and heart had forever internalized as the "perfect" college campus.

Sadly, due to the incomprehensible madness of one idiot, that ideal is forever ruined. Katie's first view of this beautiful locale is now through the lens of a video camera capturing the aftermath.

Of course, I'm talking about Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, more popularly known as Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, VA, the site of yesterday's armed slaughter that took the lives of around 33 people.

There's no need to go into details as they're all over the news and will be for weeks to come. But I would like to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives and offer my condolences to their friends and families as well as to those who work there and live in the neighboring town.

It's going to be a rough going for some time, Hokies. And it's a shame that you, or anyone for that matter, should have to endure this kind of pain. But my heart goes out to you all.

I love you, VT.

Vtlogo


I'll always love you, though, New York...

As much as I was trying to avoid taking part in this "interview" meme that's raging its way through the blogosphere, I still felt guilty about pussing out on Alissa's "I Believe" post. I guess that's why I agreed to let Hilly interview me.

I'm scared.

Here goes...

1.  Who is your favorite Superhero and why?

As tempted as I might be to try and quote Brodie Bruce from Mallrats, I shall refrain. I've kinda waffled on superheroes throughout my life.

Bixbyferrigno As a child, I loved the Incredible Hulk. I blame the late Bill Bixby for this as he was a fantastic David Banner. Well, Lou Ferrigno was pretty cool as the Hulk, too. And I met him... in full Hulk makeup, BTW. I still dig on the Hulk because he's such a flawed and misunderstood superhero and, as odd as Ang Lee's film version was, I dug Eric Bana in the Banner role (although he was correctly named Bruce Banner).

For the longest time, I was also a big Spider-Man freak. Loved him. But, for whatever reason, he kinda fell out of favor with me. I don't dislike him; but he's just not a favorite anymore. Not exactly sure why.

Daredevil was a fave until the Great Ben Affleck Fiasco of '03. Or was it '02? Ah, who really cares? It was a fiasco, period.

Batman's pretty dang cool and I've always dug him.

But, I think my fave of the moment is Superman. I've liked him for some time now. I even have a Superman action figure that has been with me since college and has graced all the desks at all my jobs since grad school. That's so Seinfeld of me. So, yeah, Supes it is.

2.  If money were no object and you had tons of vacation time from work, where would you like to take Katie for a dream vacation?

A winery tour of Europe. Start in Italy and cruise through every vineyard we can find trying every varietal of wine we can get our grubby mits on. Then loop up through France. Bear in mind that cheese and chocolate are an important sidetrip on this one. Then, of course, we would loop back into Italy and buy ourselves a little house in Tuscany and just never leave. Because, like you said, money is no object. I'll just telecommute. ;-)

But how could it get any better? Cheese? Good. Chocolate? Good. Wine? Goooooooooooooodddd!

3.  You seem so calm and sweet.....do you ever lose your temper and yell or are you pretty even-keeled? If you don't now, have you ever had a temper?

For the most part, I think I'm pretty even keeled. But I do get easily frustrated by stupid people and poor cellular service and have been known, on rare occasion, to throw things in desperation. Plus I pulled an Andy Bernard on the drywall in my parents' garage many years ago. So, yes, it's been known to happen. I try my hardest to avoid it, but, every so often, the beast rears its ugly head, believe it or not. You don't see it in my blog posts (usually) because blogging calms me. It's my grounding force in those rare instances when my temper flares up so bad that my regular calming force, Katie, has run for cover. And I can't say I blame her, in all honesty.

4.  Right now, in this exact moment, what song is really making you groove?

I've had "Feelgood Inc" from the Gorillaz stuck in my head since I heard it as somebody's ringtone recently. I love that song and have yet to get sick of it. So I don't mind that it's jammed so deep in my head right now that my brain is pulsing the bass line.

However, I've got that switching out with the Pretenders' "Talk of the Town" and I have absolutely no idea why. Good song, though.

5.  If you could switch lives with one FEMALE blogger for a day, who would it be and why in the heck would it be that person? (cussing deleted for your NY Resolution)

I think you people are missing the point of my New Year's Resolution. I can't swear here... but that shouldn't stop you. In fact, I want you to swear!!!! Please!!! I need it!!

Anyway, I think I'd switch with Sandra. I've always wondered what it's like to live in the big, bad city and she's doing just that in NYC after having also lived in San Francisco and Chicago and Sydney. I admire her adaptability and willingness to take on a new challenge. I know she sometimes complains that it may seem like a lonely existence, but she handles it with such grace and poise that you cannot help wondering what it would be like to be her for a day... and consequently envying her for doing it on a daily basis.


Now it's your turn. Do you want to be interviewed by me? I know many of you have already taken part in this through other people's blogs, so there's no need to offer yourselves up as sacrificial lambs again. You only need to be raked across the coals once.

If you are interested, just follow the instructions below.

    1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me, big guy!"
    2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions. I get to pick them, and you have to answer them all.
    3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
    4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
    5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Good luck, Navigator.


And we'll keep on fighting, 'til the end...

And a hush enveloped the crowd. Everybody's attention was diverted from whatever they had been discussing previously. All eyes turned to the large plasma TV hanging on the wall above where the bartender stood. Her attention also focused on the suited gentleman on the screen.

Chicago2016logo "May I have the envelope," requested Peter Ueberroth, USOC Chairman. "Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, I am proud, very proud, to announce the United States' applicant city for the two thousand and sixteen Olympic and Paralympic games is... Chicago."

And the facade of silence broke away erupting into rancorous applause.

I know we face some potentially steep competition in the form of Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo and Prague. But I don't see why we can't win. Why we, as one of the greatest cities on the face of the Earth, should not be given the right to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

How cool.

I'm proud to be a Chicagoan. Even if I am, technically, a suburbanite and not a city dweller. But who cares? You can come from Chicago, Geneva, Naperville, Winnetka, McHenry, Zion, Tinley Park, Springfield (I wasn't going to leave you out, MochaMomma)... it doesn't matter. Today, we're all Chicagoans.

Sorry, Los Angeles, but it's our turn. Finally.


Don't stand so close to me...

I truly cannot believe that I have to do this, but, here we go...

Kapgar's Rules of Gym Etiquette

1. If someone is in the middle of what looks like an intensive workout, do not try striking up a conversation with them. They are there to work out, not talk. When a person is in the gym with the intent of talking or flirting, you'll know. They will be halfassing it on machines, sashaying (not walking) around looking at everybody and everything... pretty much anything but really working out. Focus in on those people if you wanna talk, 'kay? When I'm working out the way I normally do, it's a struggle just to put together "hi... how... you... doin'... to... day?" Just nod or wave and move on and do your own thing.

2. It's understandable to smell a little bit after a workout. That's what sweating does to a person. But when you come into the gym smelling like you've spent the entire day rolling around in cow patties and you haven't even worked out yet, you might want to consider new workout clothes and a pre-workout shower. This is more for our sake than yours. The next time I have to sit in close quarters with someone that smells like rhino dung again, I'm going to club them with dumbbells.

3. Talking in a locker room is fine. I know some people have a problem with being naked and talking to other people of the same gender in a locker room. I'm okay with it, though. But, please, do not stand there naked in front of me dripping wet because you just took a shower and then attempt to show me yoga positions. Wrong on more levels than I care to count.

4. Some people do go to the gym in an attempt to work themselves out of cold or flu symptoms. So I can understand that, once in a while, you may be hacking up the proverbial lung while exercising. I don't like it, but I can accept it, so long as it's more of a rarity than the norm. However, when you've been doing this every day for more than two years, it might be time to see your doctor. And, for God's sake, make sure you cover your mouth every time you hack and bring your own towel and stop using the ones that the gym provides if it's going to be your personal gag rag! Those get washed and reused, dammit!

5. If you see several people in line behind you waiting to check in to the gym and there are only a couple towels left, please just take one. I am a big guy and I somehow manage to dry off after my shower using a single towel. So it kills me when I see some stick figure of a human being taking two neck towels for their workout and two body towels for their shower consequently leaving nothing for anyone else.

6. Stop trying to watch my video iPod over my shoulder as I'm working out! Get your own, you nervewracking sonsabitches! (to adapt a line from Billy Bob Thornton in Tombstone).

Soapbox dismounted.


We'll stand by you...

Seeing as how I now work for a company in Naperville, IL, I've made it a point to, once again, become somewhat ingratiated into the wherewithall of the town.

A little history... I moved to Naperville in 1987 with my parents. But I "left" in 1993 when I went to college and didn't come back full time until the summer of 2000 after I finished my M.A. Of course, I was back during most winter and summer vacations, like most people. After graduation, I stuck around for a year with my parents while saving money for my wedding to Katie. Then, in September 2001, we loaded up the truck and moved to... Geneva. So, other than the occasional visit, I was pretty well removed from Naperville.

So now I'm making amends by spending time in the city at stores, restaurants, events, etc. It seems like the right thing to do and I'm nothing if not a good citizen.

That was why I decided to take part in Gina Glocksen Day yesterday.

For those who don't know, Gina Glocksen is the self-proclaimed "Rocker Chick" American Idol contestant who was booted off the show last week. For the last couple years, she has lived in Naperville. And, even though most Napervillians realize that Gina was raised in Tinley Park, they've embraced her as one of their own. So they gave her a welcome home party at North Central College.

And I was there.

Even though I'm not an American Idol fan.

But, despite this fact, I know everything that is going on in the show. It's the water cooler topic du jour where I work and I can't help but hear it. I try. Believe me, I try.

Plus, working in a media-related role, I read a ton of local newspapers. And she's been one of their favorite topics of discussion for weeks now. I honestly feel like I've known her my whole life.

Sad, eh?

Well, the event was fun anyway. Nearly 1,000 screaming tweeners shouting out "we love you, Gina" and "you're our American Idol!" Thankfully, Gina was a good sport and threw the love right back. I give her credit for that. I know I could only handle hearing those sorts of things shouted at me once or twice before I would likely throw the wireless mic into the crowd hoping for vicious skull fractures. But she didn't. That would've made for a great picture, though.

Instead, I settled for some of the following...

The twirl
This is one of my favorite "accidental" photos ever. I feared the shutter was snapping with her turned the other way, but she spun at exactly the right moment just like in a classic fashion shoot. And this is what I got.

Gina and the press
The media swarmed her. As would be expected

There are a few more shots on Flickr if you're so inclined.

Oh, and there's no guarantee of this actually happening, but footage of this event was shot for a show called American Idol Extra that is set to air sometime in the future on Fox Reality Channel. If you find out when it's on, let me know. I may be in it.


Make me SCREAM...

First of all, it's snowing. It's April 11, and it's snowing. I swear to God! I'm looking at it as I type. I think we've got a good half inch at least. And it's the wet stuff. The kind that's great for a snowball fight.

Oooohhh... snowball fight!

Anyway.

I think my future sister-in-law (FSiL) nearly had a coronary yesterday.

She and Katie went in to have their dresses resized the week before last (yes, Katie's dress does need to be sized down... good news!). At the end of this session, they both had to sign up for one last fitting about two weeks prior to the wedding in June.

However, Katie and I discovered the other day that she will not be able to make the scheduled date due to a prior commitment. So, yesterday, during her lunch, she called to reschedule her final fitting. During this call, the imbeciles at David's Bridal told her that they had no record of the bride having come in for a fitting at all. Katie insisted that, yes, she did come in for a fitting at the same time and with the same associate that worked with Katie and, well, they had record of that one so why not both?

Katie decided it might be a good idea to call the FSiL to inform her of the snafu.

Now, I wasn't actually privy to this phone conversation, but I swear I heard what sounded like the detonation of a small nuclear device coming from the general vicinity of Sugar Grove, IL.

I pray I'm wrong, otherwise I suspect I'll keel over dead any second now from oxygen-suffocating nuclear fallout.

Maybe this snow we're having is actually a nuclear winter. The things that make you go "hmmm."


You're such trash...

For the last week or two, up until the end of this past week, Katie and I have been using our iPods to play catch up on the TV series Friday Night Lights. It had been a race of sorts to see who could get through them first. But, at the same time, we'd both been walking on eggshells trying to contain our excitement for fear that we might accidentally reveal a plot point to each other that one of us had not actually yet viewed.

Well, the viewing frenzy has come to a close and we both absolutely love the show. Our favorite drama of the year, by far.

And, now that it was over, I could also finally catch up on a couple weeks worth of podcasts and music that I had collected from iTunes and the local library, respectively. I had a metric ton of music. It was actually a bit scary to look at all the albums that had built up in my personal music library.

So I made it simple and took all the new albums and threw them in a playlist I called "New Stuff" and started playing it in the background while at work. I think I made it through nine albums worth before the end of my workday yesterday.

I know that I have mentioned many times in the past that I love the library because of all the music I have at my fingertips. But have I mentioned how I love that, by having obtained this music from the library, I feel far less guilty about also having the "delete" key right at my fingertip?

It was a busy button yesterday. Poor guy needs a vacation.

Only two of the albums I listened to are still "on the island," per se. Paul Westerberg's Mono and Scissor Sisters Ta-Dah! (one of the best albums I've heard in a long time, just as a side note). Got another five to weed through today. Should be interesting.


Bringin' ev'ry girl and boy a basket full of Easter joy...

As per usual with most major holidays, Katie and I spent the weekend with two different families, Saturday night with mine and Sunday afternoon with her's.

No, this is not going to be a recap of all the events that went on at both celebrations. Actually, it's more of a decrying of a family tradition whose time has passed. Sadly, too.

The Easter Egg Hunt.

For years, we've been doing Easter Egg Hunts with Katie's family simply because there were young kids around that enjoyed being a part of such a vaunted event. Some of us adult-like people would hide the eggs in the yard and then let the younger ones go find them. They would then be treated to a bag full of chocolate and, perhaps, money.

However, I think it may be time to officially kill this tradition. At least until new "young-uns" are brought into the fold.

You see, currently, the youngest of the bunch is E, and he's 12 or 13 right now. At yesterday's celebration, not only was it a struggle to get some of us off our butts to go hide the eggs, but we also had to "wait until the end of the inning" of the Cubs-Brewers game and then pick E up by the collar of his shirt to make him go out and find them. Then, when we realized he was pretty much the only one taking part, all of us 20- and 30-somethings had to go out and search for the eggs as well just to make it look good.

And we were the ones that hid them in the first place.

So somebody tell me how wrong that is? Time to kill it, you think? Yeah, I do too.

But at least Katie and I found four bucks. That's my allowance for the week, baby!

Got a meme for you in the extended post, BTW...

Continue reading "Bringin' ev'ry girl and boy a basket full of Easter joy..." »


You make me feel like dancing...

Is there such a thing as an unlucky number?

Yesterday, my officemate and I were talking music like we normally do. It's one of our bonding points. We segued, and don't ask me how, from a discussion of the lack of musical merit of Audioslave to the greatness that is Jeff Buckley.

Granted I don't know much about Jeff Buckley, I was pretty convinced I knew he was dead and asked my officemate (MyOM) if my memory was correct.

MyOM: Yep, he died swimming in the Mississippi River down near Memphis.

Me:
Swimming? Not drugs or suicide like so many others?

MyOM:
Well, drugs were involved. Heroin, I think. I'm pretty sure he was 27. Bad number.

Me [looking at Wikipedia]:
Actually, Wikipedia says he was 31. Why's 27 unlucky?

MyOM:
Lots of musicians died at 27.

Me:
Like who?

MyOM:
Kurt Cobain...

I look on Wikipedia. Sho 'nuff, he died a little more than a month after his 27th birthday.

MyOM: Jim Morrison...

Yep, five months shy of 28.

MyOM: Janis Joplin...

Three months ahead of her 28th.

MyOM: And Jimi Hendrix.

Two months to go for Jimi.

Me: Geez. I had no idea. Guess you simply need to make it to 28 to really "make it" in the music industry.

MyOM:
No kidding.

So, clearly, 27 is some seriously bad juju for musicians.

And, to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what I find more disturbing, the fact that they all died at such a relatively young age or the knowledge that I've outlived all of them by five years and, yet, they achieved such exceptional levels of success.

But I'm still alive. And happy as hell to be out of that 27-year-old bracket.

TUA (Totally Unrelated Aside):
So, um, I've got this, er, "friend" who will be starting to take ballroom dancing classes with his lovely wife tonight at their local park district. Don't worry, it's nobody you know. Yeah, well, the two of them have this wedding coming up and they don't want to look stupid. And, being the good friend I am, I don't want them to look stupid either.

Well, anyway, he is a bit freaked out about it as the most experience he has with dance is grade school square dancing and watching a couple seasons of Dancing With the Stars. So, I am... he is nervous. Really nervous. He has two left feet and all that jazz and is not quite sure what, um, he should wear both in terms of clothes and shoes. And I just thought I'd be a good friend, yeah, and pass on what you all say to, er, him... and his lovely wife, of course.


Don't you worry 'bout a thing...

As you all know, I'm a Mac Whore (tm). Not quite Dave's level of whorishness, but I'd still make a good product spokesman all the same (hint, hint, clue, clue, knock you over the head, Steve Jobs). For this reason, I've been happy to see how Mac proliferation has been slowly on the rise. I don't want it to take over, mind you, but we are no longer a negligible minority. We are now a minority to be reckoned with.

As a result of this increasing fame, I've been seeing stores other than just the Apple Store carrying Mac computers and other Apple products.

This makes me equal parts happy and terrified. I'm happy to see that the products are becoming more readily available for people who are interested in buying them. Yet I'm terrified because sales of these products are being left to people who know little to nothing about them.

That's just not good in any way, shape, or form.

Seriously, go to your local Best Buy. When you stop in front of the Macs and look at them, the salespeople avoid you like you've got visible signs of small pox. Or, in some cases, they may try to sway customers away from their initial desire. However, the second you move over to the PCs, they're on you like white on rice.

This speaks volumes for both the ignorance of the employees who have been selling nothing but PCs their whole "careers" as well as the inability of corporate trainers to properly inform and motivate their employees.

And I seriously doubt their tech support would do anything to help. You really think the Geek Squad is going to lift a finger? Perhaps to thumb their noses at you.

Yet, when I took my father-in-law to the Apple Store in Woodfield Mall a couple months ago to buy his first Mac, the TWO salespeople who helped us weren't just attempting to make the sale. They actually spent nearly an hour talking to him to make sure that a Mac was the right choice based on his computing needs (he runs a small business) and explaining how to make it all work properly. He even went back in there a week later to buy Boot Camp so he could run Windows (some IE only browser issues with his vendors) on his computer and, even though many of us consider putting Windows on our lovely Macs to be a disgrace, the salesman helped him with that process as well. And quite willingly.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if you are considering buying a Mac, please make sure you do so from someone who knows what they're talking about... true Mac salespeople. I know you may not have an Apple Store locally, but if it's within driving distance, please make the trip. Otherwise, use their Web site or call them. They will help. More than you may realize.

Papa A goes Mac!
Once you go Mac, there's no goin' back!


But I'm running out of time...

How many of you take part in freelance work aside from what you normally do as part of your job?

If you do, I would like to ask if you have any personal policies in place regarding turnaround time for a project or just how you prioritize, period. If it's a good policy, can I steal it?

I do very little freelance work, in all honesty. Not much comes my way and, many times, I'm kinda happy about it.

But when it does come in, it's like a tsunami. It just floods in and seems to engulf my world. And, as would be expected, it happens at the most inopportune times. I can be sitting around for weeks with nothing to do just wishing for it. Then, when my personal and FT professional lives are inundated with things to do, *BLAMMO* the freelancing strikes.

I don't want to say no because that can be a death sentence for future projects. I opt out and the word gets around that I'm not willing and able and the well dries up entirely. So I take them, but I'll be darned if I've figured out a good time during which to get this stuff done.

Unfortunately, the personal pursuits always seem to suffer first. Time with Katie? Gone. Sleep time? Zippo. Gym time? Nuh-uh. Blogging opps? Nil.

This has been my life since Saturday. Some big updates to a site I manage came in and I've been trying to take care of them. It's not easy. Katie's been in bed and asleep well before me lately. I haven't been to the gym since Saturday. My blogging feels rehashed (c'mon... a recap of my Friday stats and an April retrospective? Not exactly teeming with originality... sorry).

I just want this project done and I want future ones to come in when I say so!

And to quote the great Wayne Campbell, "Sheeyah, right. And monkeys might fly outta my butt."


Just one year of love...

I'm not really sure why this happened, but posting yesterday about the artificial spiking of my stats (get it? "artificial"... cheerleaders... breast implants... yeah, okay) made me get a little nostalgic. Well, I guess it was a little bit of that and the realization that I just recently passed my nine-year anniversary of the first time I started keeping an online journal (March 15, 1998) and I forgot about it to boot.

I've always liked how many other bloggers like Neil have the "on this date last year" feature on each of their posts. So, to wax nostalgic even further, I went back a year and started rereading some of my April 2006 entries.

I never realized what a milestone month it was. Briefly...

Okay, okay, I'll stop patting my own back. I'm developing a crick in my shoulder anyway. 

But it is amazing to go back and reread where you were one year ago. Have you bettered your place in life? Are you worse off? Or are you simply maintaining the status quo? How has your writing evolved? What kinds of things were you doing a year ago?

How is it possible that a whole year has gone by since all this happened?

Hmmm... I'm thinking I may have devolved a bit in terms of writing ability. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.

And I just realized I have only seven or eight weeks left until my brother's wedding. Where'd that come from? I guess I'd better start writing that Best Man speech. Anybody got any good ideas I can steal? Please?

Oh yeah, got a meme for you in the extended post...

Continue reading "Just one year of love..." »


Sex sells...

Some of you may be disappointed I didn't post on April Fool's Day. But after how guilty I felt over last year's prank, I told you I wouldn't and I stuck by it. Now on to the real post...

I know Dave has noticed it, but has anyone else figured out what a fickle mistress blogging can be?

One day, you can pour your heart into a post and be so incredibly proud of what you've written and you wind up with record low site hits and even fewer comments. Yet, the next day, you can write complete tripe that you just know you're gonna be flamed for, and yet you wind up with a ton of positive comments and hits.

Why is this?

I'm asking because Friday's post constituted a record day for me in many respects.

I hit an all-time high in single-day page loads and unique visitor count as per Stat Counter. These high counts continued throughout the weekend, which is normally a dead time for me since I don't regularly post.

I hit an all-time high in single-day subscribers as per FeedBurner.

And, yet, I had a pitiful number of comments. One of my lowest of the month, in fact.

I'm not trying to guilt anyone. Honestly. It wasn't a particularly good post. But, usually, my hits show a positive correlation to my comments. I'm not sure if that's the proper statistical term I'm intending to use as it's been years since I took my college stats class. What I'm trying to say is that as one goes up in number, so does the other. High hits = high comments. It's not exactly rocket science.

But not on Friday.

Even Brandon had noticed an odd trend on his site lately and he e-mailed me about it. He is apparently receiving an inordinate number of hits on his site that are being directed from my post about fantasy football from 2006. This made no sense to me, so I checked it out. Yes, there are two or three links alone to his site in that single post. But why would anyone care about a fantasy football season that's dead and gone?

Oh wait, it's the cheerleaders, isn't it? I post a picture of cheerleaders and suddenly I get the perv factor going on my site. Somebody's searching for pictures of them and they get this totally random shot of three Miami Dolphins cheerleaders on my site that I picked up off Google Image Search last year.

I check my own stats and, I'll be damned, that's exactly what it is! Not just for Brandon, but for me as well. I'm not getting a high number of hits because I'm particularly witty or hip or just downright cool. It's because I posted a picture of short-skirted, pom-pom'd sex, isn't it? And Brandon's getting them as castoff from my site. They think they're going to find even more of the same over on Down With Pants! Well, with a name like that, what would you expect?

Well, if that's what it's going to take, fine!

cheerleaders

I can't believe it's true. Sex sells. Even in the Blogiverse.