Me & Mine 2005

The best things in life are free (or close to it)...

Two tickets to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: free (birthday passes)
One medium Cherry Coke: $3.25
Two burritos at Chipotle: free (ticket stub redemption)
Chips and salsa at Chipotle: $1.35
Watching After the Sunset on cable: free
Sipping blended drinks using alcohol we already have: free
Date with my wife for under $5.00: priceless

Lazy days can be the best.  For everything else, there's...

Nah, I'm not taking it that far.  I used cash.


To Tell the Truth (part 2).

Editor's Note: Some of you may not be receiving notice of this post until Saturday, December 17 via Bloglines or whatever aggregator you use despite the fact that it's dated the 16th.  Typepad went down pretty much the entire day on the 16th.  And I had this written early in the morning on that day.  It's been sitting, waiting, wishing to be posted.  So I postdated it.  Hope that's okay with all of you.

Since I'm on the topic of admitting personal inabilities, I guess there is one more little quirk of which I'm completely incapable... I cannot wink.

Yes, of course, I can blink both my eyes to moisten my corneas or brush away dust or, best yet, fall asleep.  But I cannot wink a single eye.  The whole "knowing wink" thing has always eluded me.

Back in high school, I was part of a group that was dedicated to drug and alcohol awareness (the "STAR Program," maybe? I don't really remember the name).  One day, we had a big group activity for something like 200 of us where we would all walk around in the gym and one of us was to wink to everyone else as we shook their hand.  Five seconds later, the person who was winked to was supposed to fall over and play dead.  This activity was meant to simulate how diseases can be spread amongst populations of people.  A few people standing off to the side had to guess who the disease carrier was based on "death" patterns.

Of course, I was chosen to be the disease.  No jokes, please.  I know you wanna.

And, I couldn't wink.

So I had to walk around and whisper to people, "I can't wink, so pretend I did and fall down dead in five seconds."  I actually had to explain it some people a couple times. 

Somehow, I made it through about half the group's population before being nabbed.  Maybe the judges were actively looking for a winker and, since they never found one, I was safe.  Can't say for sure.  However, if I was actually able to wink, I may have had the opportunity to kill a larger percentage of my fellow students.  A wink is far more efficient than a verbal explanation of what to do next.

And not being able to wink is annoying when it comes to those shared tidbits of knowledge amongst people.  When a secret is shared, one person may wink their acknowledgment or understanding of the information with the other person.  I got a lot of those winks.  All I could do was nod or give an eyebrow raise back to let them know I was hip to it. 

Not nearly as cool as a knowing wink.

Oh, and don't get me started on people who can raise a single eyebrow.  That's something else altogether.

It really annoys me that I can neither wink nor read lips. 

Does it matter that I can snap with every single finger on both hands?  No. 

Does it matter that I can whistle three different ways (pursed lip exhale, pursed lip inhale, and smiled exhale - great way to annoy teachers as they can never tell who's doing it)?  No. 

Because I can't wink or read lips.

And these inabilities make me feel like an outcast.

Why God?  Why can I not do those things?  Just let me wink.  Once.  Just once.


To Tell the Truth.

Confession Time:

I cannot read lips.

I know, I know.  It's a travesty, isn't it? 

This fact becomes glaringly obvious in staff meetings when people try mouthing messages to me while someone else is talking.  I sit there with a blank stare on my face and mouth back to them, "I can't read lips."  To which they respond, "huh?"

So, apparently, I'm not the only with LRD (Lip Reader Deficiency). 

I'll admit that there are several times that this has probably been a bad thing.  For all I know, there could have been some random person across the room trying to mouth that they had a million dollars for me, but I'd never have known.   

Perhaps this is why my dating life, P.K. (Pre-Katie), was so haphazard.  I never consistently dated.  Just little patches of dating here and there.  Now that I start to think about it, that girl mouthing something across the bar in college could have been telling me she wanted to jump my bones, but all I got out of it was, "I like to eat scones."

I never understood how one learns to read lips.  Honestly, these people must be considered some of the worst listeners in the field of one-on-one communication.  I say this because, in my eyes, the only way to become adept at lip reading is to sit and watch someone's lips constantly and keep attempting to comprehend what is being said.  This requires a complete tuning out of what is really being said by the speaker.  The speaker then becomes frustrated by the fact that the recipient of their verbal message always hungers for triangular pastries over sex, and they move on to a more receptive listener. 

And thus the lip-read learning cycle begins anew with a different subject.

Honestly, I don't think it's too terrible that I do not know how to read lips.  It does have its moments of inconvenience, but overall, I can deal with it.

At least I'm not in a 12-step scone addiction program.


Why don't you come with me, little girl, on a magic carpet ride?

Bang, bang, bang go the hammers...

A crew from one of Home Depot's many outsourced installation companies is now banging around our house (and likely pissing off our neighbors as it's only a little after nine in the morning) as they install the padding and carpeting in our stairs and upstairs hallway. 

MisccarpetWe ordered some replacement carpet a little over a month ago and we're finally seeing its installation.  The old carpet was... okay, so "well worn" might be the understatement of the century.  I can't even imagine what the original color may have been.  Some kind of cream, I think.  But now it has become a hodge podge of different stains and scuff marks through years of life with two children (the people before us) and then some moving in, moving out, and moving around.  I'm sure that doesn't necessarily bode well on the lifespan of carpet.  Plus, it was buckling in a couple areas.  That can be very annoying if you tend to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or get a drink and drag your feet out of sheer laziness.

But, hey, it's being replaced.  That's the good thing... one good thing.  The other is that the people at Depot told us the installation crew would be here "sometime before noon."  Yeah, you could say that.  They were here at nine.  That's well before noon in my book.  Wish SBC and Comcast were that good.

Shame we didn't finish taking out all the old carpet, padding, and tack strips last night when we started.  As it happened, we were woken up at 7:45 this morning by their call center telling us they would be here in "45 minutes to an hour and a half."  So much for sleeping in. 

We jumped out of bed and started tearing up what was left of the old carpet.  We finished the hallway and the upper flight of stairs last night, so we didn't have much left to do.  But making sure all those stupid staples were out was a major pain in the arse.

So, while most of the crew is installing new tack strips in the hallway, the rest are measuring our "upgraded" padding (hey, when we buy carpet, we go all out, or so it would seem); Katie's upstairs watching, ironically enough, Home Improvement (the eldest son, Brad, is serving as Tim's assistant on Tool Time in this episode); and I'm here chronicling all the goings on.

I need a nap.

UPDATE: Two hours later and they're done.  Now Katie and I are walking around in our barefeet recreating the Die Hard "roll your toes in the carpet" scene.


Baby, it's cold outside...

Last night, as we drove home from working at the gym, Katie and I were placing bets as to whether our association fees were actually paying off and they were plowing and shovelling around our townhome.  Believe it or not, they were digging us out of the five inches of snow we were hammered with yesterday (Midway Airport, where the plane skidded off the runway, got nine inches).

Well, maybe not at that exact moment, but they had been working on it.

When we were driving up to the turn on our street, two plows were blocking our chances at straight-ahead movement while a third plow was blocking half the road we wanted to turn on.  So I had to make quite a wide right turn. 

In the middle of the turn, Katie yelled to me to stop.  There was a yellow lab that had ambled out in the street from a driveway and didn't even care that a car was coming right at it.

For some completely inexplicable reason, I flashed it with my high beams (yeah, a dog's gonna know what to do with that, right?).  He turned and walked up to my door and just looked at me.  I started to pull forward very slowly hoping he would back up.  He must've because I didn't hear any howling or feel any bump.  Thank God.

Upon arrival at our home, I noticed that the bush by our driveway, which we had covered in white lights, was now also covered in a layer of snow resulting in a very eery glow from the lights trapped under their frozen blanket.  Katie knew what I wanted to do, so she ran in and grabbed my digicam so I could snap some shots.

As I took some photos, I noticed the dog trotting up the middle of our street.  I slapped the side of my thigh and whistled for the dog to come over.  He did so quite happily.  After I scratched his back and head a couple times, he bolted for my front door.  When I walked over to the garage, he ran in after me and started rolling around on the floor and wagging his paws in the air.  I figured he must've been cold so I grabbed a couple shop towels and patted his paws dry.  He seemed to really appreciate it and just kept wagging his tail and following me whereever I went in the garage and out in the snow.

Katie and I own no pets... for a combination of reasons, really: 1) we're not sure our place is really big enough, especially for a dog the size of a lab; 2) we both have minor allergies, nothing terrible, but enough to mildly aggravate our sinuses when we visit the homes of people that do have pets (I have had pets before -- two cats -- and been able to deal with the allergies, though); and 3) we just don't have the money to take care of pets.

We weren't sure what we were going to do about this lab.  I'm sure if I opened the door to the house, he would've jetted his way inside.  In fact, he almost did when Katie opened the door to watch me take photos.  She got the door closed just in time as a flash of yellow and white fur tore in her general direction.

I walked back outside and started playing with the dog again in the snow.  He was soaking up the attention.  However, as soon as one of the plows rolled by, he ran off after it.  I dunno if he was bored with my attention or maybe he actually belonged to one of the plowers and was allowed to run around for a little while as they did their work.

I guess we'll never know.  We didn't see him again. 

We slept like crap last night worrying about this dog.  And, if we happened to see him again or heard him outside, I'm pretty sure we would've let him in, allergies be damned.  But we never did.

This morning, I looked around outside our place and saw no fresh pawprints.  Ideally this means he found his home or one of the maintenance guys was his owner.  Either one of those options are the only ones I want to consider at this point.


That's my beer, not his.


Fizzy, fuzzy, big and buzzy...

I've gotta tell you all something... there's nothing like sledding in the dead of night.

My brother, Brian, and his fiance, Jen, came to our place tonight because Jen and Katie were going to go to some purse party while Brian and I played video games and whatnot.  Well, when they got back, it had been snowing pretty well (sorry to rub it in, SJ), and Jen wanted to go play in the snow.  You see, she's from SoCal and has never experienced snow in all its natural glory before.

So we did just that.  We went outside and had a snowball fight and made snow angels.  We also made some meals of the snow and took a few photos.

Then, despite it being 9:30 at night, we opted to head to Wal-Mart and pick up sleds so we could go to a local sledding area and enjoy the snow.

And, boy, did we.  Nobody was there (although it was obvious someone had been earlier in the night).  Three of the four sleds we bought were useless.  But the fourth, an inflatable triangle that we have since dubbed "Bermuda" (because, once you get in it, you "disappear" like the Bermuda Triangle), was incredible.  We were setting land speed and distance records on it.  We sledded for about 45 minutes soaking every square inch of our bodies.

Sopping wet, we went straight to our favorite watering hole and picked up some chips and salsa, beers, and lemon drop shots.  Finally, we ended the night with some take-out McDonald's and Die Hard on cable.

How can you top this night?  I don't think it's possible.  It was just too much fun.

Yeah, the holiday spirit is coarsing through me now in full force.


Can you picture this?

Key Wester
MisckeywesterIf you're ever in the western Chicago suburb of Naperville, might I recommend a cozy little restaurant?  It's called Key Wester and it's a seafood place that is just spectaculah.  Okay, "cozy" is not the right word as it's a pretty big place, but it's really nice and comfortable inside.

We went there last night as a co-celebration of mine and my brother's birthdays.  And we had fun.  Good food.  Good liquor.

I told my friend, Brian, that we were going there and he gave me a few words of advice when I informed him that my parents were paying.  "Kevin... Surf & Turf and a $90 bottle of wine." 

I took that advice.  I had me some Surf & Turf and damn was it good... 9 ounce cold water lobster tail and an 8 ounce filet mignon.  To die for (sorry, Dave, I know you're a vegetarian).  But we also had a new wine that they were stocking in-house.  It was a pinot noir and I can't remember the name of the winery it came from.  I've got it written down, but not on me  Sorry.  If anyone's interested in knowing the brand, I'll look it up for you.  Just let me know in the comments.  No, we did not get the whole bottle, but Katie and I each had a glass.  This was in addition to the 7/7 that I had before the meal.  Yeah, a good time was had.

Now I just want to know what Katie got me for my birthday.  She's been torturing me with it since Tuesday.  And I don't get it until either sometime this weekend or on my actual birthday.  She hasn't decided yet.

Flickr Update
I felt I should let you all know that I finally got off my lazy butt and did something I said would happen nearly a week ago.  That's right, I posted the Chicago photos from last Friday.  Yikes.  I completely forgot about them.  I loaded them to iPhoto on our Mac, but overlooked Flickr entirely.  So check them out and let me know what you think (you can leave comments there as well).

#200
What I'm having trouble believing is that I've only been doing this TypePad thing since the middle of June and I'm already at post #200.  Yep, you're reading the big 2G.  Yikes.  How long can I keep this up without burning out or going insane?  Stayed tuned and find out, folks!

"I've got somethin' to say.  It's better to burn out, than fade away"
--The Kurgan, The Highlander (and Neil Young and Def Leppard)

Final Thought to Ponder
If you had the qualifications and an opportunity to have any job you wanted in known history, what would it be?  Oh, and money and legality are not an issue (have fun with this one, Johnny).

I'm still pondering.  I had an answer, but then I decided to expand the question to include all "known history."  Oh the possibilities!


I can't stand to fly, I'm not that naive...

I don't know why I started pondering this one today, but, if you could be any superhero or have any superpower, what would it be?  Each character has his positives and negatives and each ability has its merits and pratfalls.

So, let's examine some of the most common...

Superheroes:

MiscsupermanearthSuperman
(image courtesy of www.capedwonder.com)

  • pros - flight, super strength, x-ray vision.
  • cons - big aversion to Kryptonite and apparently surrounded by stupid people who cannot tell that he's actually Clark Kent.

Spider-Man

  • pros - webslinging and wall crawling.
  • cons - that costume that you're forced to wear under your everyday clothes has gotta be rank and itchy; your powers are all superficial, you lose your webslingers and you've got nuthin'; if there are no buildings around, face it, you're useless.

Batman

  • pros - all the cool toys and his brooding attitude must get all the chicks.
  • cons - much like Spidey, everything is a toy meaning that your abilities are nothing without them.

The Incredible Hulk

  • pros - strength up the yin yang and, if the movie has any truth to it whatsoever, the ability to jump very long distances.
  • cons - you're green and you have to wear torn purple pants, 'nuff said.

Wonder Woman

  • pros - sexiest. female. superhero. ever.  Magic lasso, invisible jet (no need for air traffic clearances).
  • cons - running in those heels has gotta be a bitch; otherwise, nada that I can think of.

Aquaman

  • pros - the ability to communicate with sea creatures and hold your breath for an inordinate amount of time.
  • cons - not too many human "companions" would be able to spend much time with you in your primary place of residence... that leaves... oh gawd.

Wolverine

  • pros - adamantium endoskeleton assures rapid healing and those claws rock.
  • cons - hope you never need to go to an airport or government building

Superpowers:
I think you can each figure out the "merits and pratfalls" of each ability on your own

  • Invisibility
  • Ability to fly (whether on your own or with the assistance of an invisible jet)
  • Immunity to bullets or other physical harm
  • Webswinging/wallcrawling
  • Holding your breath (doesn't sound so cool when you read it like this)
  • The Batmobile (not really a superpower, per se, but worthy of mention)
  • Superstrength
  • Superior butt kicking skills (not necessarily the same as "superstrength" in my book)

Yes, there are many more superheroes out there and I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of abilities as well.  But, what do you think?  If you could be any one of these superheroes or have any of these superpowers, which would it be?  Feel free to list something that's not here.

Typically, and despite the post title, I'm very much in favor of flight.  But, right about now, I think I'd prefer either invisibility or superimmunity.  Just my current state of mind.


And welcome to the terrordome...

Just a few minutes ago, I coined a new phrase that I think might catch on quite big.  It is...

Nuptial Terrorism - 'n&p-sh&l 'ter-&r-"i-z&m - noun - the act of inflicting pain and sufferring, whether mental or physical, on one spouse by the other.  May be done out of spite or hatred or, in some twisted instances, as a term of endearment.

I came up with this phrase while Katie was curled up on my lap on the couch in our living room.  We had the movie Stealing Home on in the background (one of our personal faves) and we were talking, cuddling, etc. 

Then she started to pinch me.  No, no, no.  You don't do that and not expect some kind of retaliatory attack.  Hey, what goes around comes around, right?

So I coined this phrase and informed her that it had been immediately committed to the law register and is punishable by tickling. 

I really don't think she appreciated the efficiency of our legal system in judging on this matter.  In fact, she cursed and swore as I tickled her sides.

Bear in mind, this phrase can be applied to either member of a relationship.  Man v Woman, Woman v Man, Man v Man, Woman v Woman, etc. (hopefully, you do not fall into an "et cetera" category).

Feel free to employ this legal precedent the next time you are the victim of nuptial terrorism.  Should you need more reference material, contact the law offices of Kapgar.com, Esq.  We will be more than happy to provide you with the necessary documentation of this new legal measure.

You do not need to be afraid to report instances of nuptial terrorism.  In fact, hiding these despicable acts will only make matters worse as those who commit N.T. once are likely to do it again and again until they are stopped.

Do not allow yourself to become a victim of nuptial terrorism.


It's the most wonderful time...

Today could not have been more perfect in oh so many ways.

Today was our day with Katie's family for our annual Black Friday Chicago trip.  Each year, we dare the crowds and shop on our own with no real agenda.  If we're actually good and have our shopping finished for Christmas, we go downtown and laugh at all the other shoppers.  Unfortunately, Katie and I are not done with our shopping, so laughing was not an option.

But, Katie and I began the day much nicer than we usually do.  Instead of waking up for the Black Friday early morning sales at Best Buy, et al, we slept in.  Yep, we decided to say "screw it" to the lines and the headaches and the early morning crap and just sleep in.  There really wasn't anything of interest to us in these sales.  Well, that's not entirely true.  If all goes well, my brother will have picked up seasons 1-3 of The Shield for me on DVD at Best Buy.  He was going in to buy Jen one of the Motorola RAZR phones that were on sale for $39.99 and I told him that, since he was already going to be there, he could buy me those as my birthday gift.  Saved us some headaches.  And, each season was priced at only $19.99.  We'll find out if he actually did it.

We then went to Kohl's and bought me a new winter coat.  I do have one nice thick winter coat, but I've been wanting to replace the black car coat I had a couple years ago.  So she helped me pick out a slate grey driving jacket that is just sweet.  Afterwards, we headed downtown.

Traffic was pretty easy, which is a severe rarity.  We found where Katie's family was at and got some parking.  Then we hit a few stores.  Including, of course, The Apple Store on Michigan Avenue.  This is one of the "flagship" stores, or so I've read.  And, every time I enter the place, I want to drop to my knees in hushed worship.  I drool.  Well, not literally; that would just be embarrassing.  More on this visit to My Personal Mecca tomorrow.

After hitting some more of the stores on upper Michigan Avenue, we headed to lower Michigan Avenue (south of the Chicago River) for places like Marshall Fields, Old Navy, etc.  Katie and I got our picture taken in front of the soon-to-be defunct Marshall Field's (they were purchased by Macy's parent company and will be changing their name soon) and I think that picture may be used for our holiday cards.

We met up with Katie's aunt, uncle, and cousins and hung out a bit for lunch and some shopping.  Then we went our separate ways with plans to meet later that night for chili at the condo of Dana, one of Katie's cousins.

However, our meeting time was several hours ahead and we didn't know what to do to fill the time.  So we wandered to the Germanfest that is sponsored annually around this time near Daley Plaza.  Little did we know that today is the day they light the big Christmas tree in Daley Plaza.  Great way to fill the time and we did.  You want to make it even better?  As we stood there waiting by the tree, it started snowing.  Not just a little bit of snow, either.  It built up consistently until it became a pretty strong snowstorm and was actually sticking to the ground. 

How much better can it get than to witness the lighting of Chicago's official Christmas tree in the middle of a mini snowstorm?  In my humble opinion, it would be hard to top that.  There is no better way that I can think of to fire up the Christmas spirit and Katie and I were both feeling it after that.

We then went to Dana's condo and ate chili and played games.  Doesn't sound like much, but we had fun.  An excruciating game of Taboo pitting the men against the women and I still say they cheated.  There were seven of them against five of us.  How is that fair?

Yes, I have pictures from today and I will post them, likely, tomorrow.  But it's pretty late right now and I think I'm going to bed.  I just wanted to get some of this information up today so you don't think I'm bailing on you.


We're a happy family...

Happy Turkey Day everyone!!!

And would you like to know one thing that I am thankful for?  In addition to my own wonderful family and friends and the great (albeit very big) family I married into, I am thankful for a new addition to my family.  Yesterday, my brother proposed to his girlfriend, Jen, and she said yes.

So, I'd like to congratulate Brian and Jen on their pending nuptials.  If there's one thing I did not have up to this point, it's a sister-in-law.  And, now, my brother has changed that.

one hint: Run Jen, run.  Before it's too late, run like the wind!!!  You don't know what you're getting yourself into.


One, two, Freddy's coming for you...

What are your biggest fears?

MiscdollI'm asking because it looks as if another C.S.I. show will be capitalizing on a fear of one of the people living under this roof.

A couple years ago, Katie got more than just a bit freaked out by an episode of the classic C.S.I. (read: Vegas Version) in which a woman was stalked by a cable guy that was hiding in and videotaping her from her own attic.  No, she's not afraid of cable installers, but the idea of someone hiding in one of the many deep, dark crevices of your home terrifies her to death.  Closets, attics, cubby holes, you name it, she doesn't like it. 

And I can't say I blame her.  I hear weird stuff in our attic all the time and never know what the hell it is.

This coming week, however, C.S.I. New York will be playing on one of my fears... dolls.  No, not Barbie dolls or that sort of doll.  I'm talking those big, cutesy baby doll sorts of dolls like that vile looking witch on the right.  The ones that have the eyes that open or close depending on if they're upright or laying prone.  Maybe they spit up or make weird noises.  Or, worse yet, they even talk.  That saccharine-sweet, giggly, freakfest of a voice.  And, for some reason, these dolls play a big part in the episode.

But, not watching it is not an option.  I'm addicted to the show.  It's my favorite of the C.S.I. family right now.  Last year, it was only so-so.  But, since Hill Harper became an investigator and they replaced Vanessa Ferlito with Anna Belknap, it became oh-so-much better.  I dig it.  It's one of my few "must-see" shows this season.

I'm screwed.  I'm not sleeping well that night at all.  I just know I'm going to have visions of ceramic-headed evil prancing around pentagrams in my R.E.M. sleep. 

I have a bad feeling Katie and I are going to have nothing but daughters.  And they're going to love dolls.

Oh, the horror.


Oh, you were a vampire and, baby, I'm walking dead...

Is it really going against the status quo to do something nice for a person in this day and age?

MiscivvampireLast night, despite leaving work early because I was sick (and am still home sick today), I trekked in to my fave book seller, Anderson's Bookshop, in Naperville for a signing by the famed Anne Rice.  Yes, she of The Vampire Chronicles fame, was in the 'burbs signing books and promoting her new novel, Christ the Lord.

Well, in all honesty, it was more "signing" and less "promoting" ironically enough.  You would think that there would be a big push on the book and her talking about it to lend it some credence.  Alas, she did not.  They had plenty of the book on hand and the requirement was that if you want her to sign copies of her past books, you must purchase a copy of Christ the Lord and have it signed as well.  That was pretty much it for promotional push.  She never spoke word one to the audience as a whole.  Over 200 people showed up and she said squat.  Both Ted Allen and David Sedaris had pretty nice speeches and Q&A sessions.  Heck, Sedaris even read a couple of stories he had just written.  Yet, not even a Q&A for Ms. Rice.  C'est la vie.

If I had known there would be no pre-show, I would've waited away from everyone else in order to keep from spreading my diseased aura to the masses.  However, since we didn't know she wouldn't be speaking until just before she came out, I had positioned myself as close to the front table as possible. 

To anyone who comes down with a sinus infection, my heartfelt apologies; but I was not missing this signing.

My only intent was to pick up her new book for signing.  It sounds interesting as it is Rice's take on the missing years between Christ's childhood and adulthood.  Not quite like Christopher Moore's perception, I'm sure.  But I would think it would be interesting, all the same.

When they finally got around to calling me up in line (I was #166 of 200+ people waiting), I was in line behind a girl roughly my age who had a paperback copy of one of Rice's books to sign.  When she got up to one of the Anderson's staffers, they informed her that it was unlikely that Rice would sign that book without having a copy of CtL to sign as well.  The girl was upset as she had been waiting nearly an hour and a half and was having the book signed for her boss.  The staffer told her to wait anyway as Rice may change her mind. 

I turned to the staffer and asked, "Rice will sign paperbacks so long as you have the new book to sign, too, right?"

She said, "yes."

I pointed to the girl in front of me who was also looking back at me curiously regarding my question as I clearly had no paperbacks to have signed, and I held out my hand to take her copy of the book.  Both realized at the same time what it was I was offering to do and were immediately grateful.  The girl kept saying "thank you so much" while the staffer said "that is so sweet of you."  Both comments were made with a tone of voice that made it readily apparent that what I was doing was not the normal thing you encounter from your fellow human being.

All I was doing was ensuring that her book would be signed.  Is this really all that big a deal?  Is our world really that numb to common decency that making the offer that I did is deemed that grandiose a gesture?

I'm really happy that I was able to make her day the way I did.  But, in all honesty, it just struck me as the decent thing to do.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Now if only I had her e-mail address... she snapped some digital shots and I forgot my camera at home.  Dangit!


So happy together... (part 3)

Continuing Kevin's roommate chronicles...

Sophomore year, semester two
After Jeremy left and moved into, I think, an apartment with his girlfriend, I played the waiting game through Christmas break until my new roommate showed up.  His name was Joe and he was a girl's ideal mate... tall, dark, and handsome.  I felt rather inadequate in his presence, but, like an old car, I'm sure my personal value may have gone up a buck or two just by rooming with him.  Yep, he was about 6'1", very athletic and into eating healthy, and had the whole slicked-back hair thing going.  Not quite like a bad mafia flick, but still back all the same.

We ran in completely different circles.  Even though this was his first semester at NIU, he already had his cadre of friends because both of his brothers were students there.  We got along pretty well when we were both around but it wasn't one of those ideal roomie situations.  But we survived the semester, was introduced to some good new music, got some workout tips, and he then moved into an apartment with his brothers.

By this time, I was getting a bit fed up with the floor I had been living on for three semesters and took advantage of the offer made to me by a friend to move up to his floor.  I was going to turn 21 the next semester and I felt that living on an alcohol-free lifestyle floor would not be quite as much fun as being able to drink without having to hide it (there are ways around any college rule).

I'm movin' on up... to the east side... of the sixth floor. 

Okay those revised lyrics don't work that well, do they?

I'm going to write up something a bit different tomorrow.  I'll continue with these stories in a couple of days.


So happy together... (part 2)

Sorry everyone.  I really screwed the pooch on the first part of this post.  I meant to click "save as draft" and actually published it instead.  Dang it.  Sorry.

So here's part 2...

Freshman year, semester two
I was in heaven when I left Iowa State and moved in at Northern Illinois University.  Don't get me wrong, ISU as a school was spectacular.  Gorgeous campus, great profs (the few I had), incredible Campus Town.  I just had shit roommates that made the experience unbearable.

So I moved into Grant Towers North 3C in January 1994.  I was going to be living with a guy named Cornelius who was from Rockford.  I had no idea what to expect because there was so little time between the semesters that I never had a chance to contact him.

When I met Cornelius (or "Corn" or "Corny" -- Cor-NAY -- as he insisted everyone called him), I discovered one thing that would have made my ISU roommates seethe... he was black! 

I loved it.  Corn was a great roommate.  He was a quiet guy like I tended to be, but had no racial predisposition whatsoever.  I think he may have been caught a little off guard at first, but that melted away pretty quickly and race never became a concern at all after that.  We shared stuff and talked and watched TV and whatnot.  Every so often, his girlfriend, Vanessa, would sleep over and she and I got along great.

Such a switch from the first semester.  I loved it.  I got along well with his friends and he got along well with my friends.

However, when the end of the year came nigh, he told me that he wasn't surprised that I was white at the beginning of the semester as I had thought.  He was surprised that I existed at all.  He had been under the impression that he was going to get a single room and was just disappointed that he was assigned a roommate.  He was really delicate about it as he knew that it would be easy for me to misinterpret what he was saying.  Then he told me that he was signing up for the room as a single for the next year, which I was fine with.  However, this would mean finding a new roomie.

One of my friends on the floor, Jeremy, asked if I wanted to move into the corner room with him.  The corner room is just that... in the corner connecting the hallways.  The floors of the towers at NIU were triangular in shape with three corners.  One corner was the floor lounge, a second was the R.A.'s room, and the third was another room the same size as the R.A.'s room but intended for two people.  It's pretty much a palace compared to the other rooms.  I said yes, and we got the room.

Sophomore year, semester one
On paper, Jeremy and I couldn't have been a better match as roommates.  Same age, similar likes and dislikes, a love of movies and music, same taste in women (although he had a girlfriend and I did not), and we both worked out together.

It was very cool. 

This was the best year of my undergrad in all honesty.  I had friends on the floor now as I had been here for a semester and no longer was the "new guy."  I was a sophomore and was looked up to by the freshmen.  And we had fun with that status.  Oh, yes we did.  Basically, though, we just had fun.

Jeremy's girlfriend had a roommate that was an interesting girl, to say the least.  She was an attention whore and did some odd things to get people to notice her.  She was a really pretty girl and should not have had to do any of the things she did to get attention, but she did anyway.  I'm not talking that she whored herself out or anything.  Not nearly that self destructive.  Just weird.  For example, she let Jeremy, who was an art major, draw the Guns n' Roses logo on her thigh in marker.  He did a spectacular job and the thing was about six inches round.  I have a photo somewhere.  I dunno, but if I was Jeremy's girlfriend and I saw him drawing on a very cute girl's thigh (and pretty high up to boot), I might be a little weirded out.  Michelle was not.

Another time, this girl (I can't remember her name) walked around the floor all day with nothing but plastic grocery bags as clothes.  Where the idea came from, I have no idea.  But she did it.  Yes, another photo.  And, finally, she decided one day to wrap the entire length of her legs in duct tape.  Not together, but individually.  And she walked around for a while like that until she couldn't stand the lack of flexibility and cut the tape off.  I'm just glad she shaved her legs.  It could've been real ugly.  Oh, and I have photos of this as well.  She was very photogenic.  She lived for it.

One of the funniest things Jeremy and I did involved Byron, the guy in the room next to us (well, one of the rooms next to us; Corn was in the other one).  He was a towering black guy with a heart of gold and a great sense of humor.  We always picked on each other.  He was 6'4", I was 6'0", and Jeremy was something like 5'7", maybe.  So you would think Byron would be a tough guy, but he only acted the part.  Jeremy and I saw right through it and took full advantage of it. 

One day, Byron and his girlfriend were having... er... some "fun" and we could hear them through the wall.  We jumped onto my bed which was on the shared wall with Byron and started listening.  When he was done, we started smacking the wall and yelling, "woo hoo!  Go Byron!  Two minutes is your new record!!!"  He nearly killed us.  His girlfriend was laughing, though.  Byron was a bit more discrete from that point on.

As the semester wore on, however, the friendship between Jeremy and I wore a bit thin.  He and his girlfriend got tired of the parties and the late nights that the rest of the floor liked to keep and were going home every weekend just to get out.  This doesn't exactly make it easy to hang out.  Just before the end of the semester, he announced he was moving out.

Yeah, okay, whatever.

And I spin the wheel again...


So happy together...

I think this post was inspired by both Sandra and Kilax (scroll to November 8) and their obvious love of this sort of thing (still looking forward to some more info about it Sandra), but it's something I've wanted to discuss.  So, why not here?

And that topic is... ROOMMATES!

A dreaded word to many, I know.  But one that is all too prevalent in our lives at some point or another.  And it's not always a bad thing.  Some roommate experiences can be great.

I had a seemingly never-ending, lazy susan of roomies throughout my undergrad and grad years.  I never had a roommate for longer than a year (unless you count Katie although she's my family now and not a "roommate," per se).

Freshman year, semester one
I started my freshman year at Iowa State University in Ames in what could not have possibly been a worse living situation.  I was in a triple room with two guys I hated more than anything I have ever developed a distaste for in my life.  Both were from small towns in northwestern Iowa and their ignorance for anything that was not small-town in nature was quite apparent.  They constantly bitched about all the Indians in their engineering courses (NO!  Not that!) and the occasional black person they came across while on campus (the heavens shudder). 

I wanted to say something to them about it, but our room had become very clique-y.  In other words, it was the two of them against me.  I figured fanning the flame would have not been such a good idea.  So I stayed out of the room as much as humanly possible.

My goal, by about a month into the semester when I knew I was going to transfer out, was to avoid them and stay out of their business.  But at the same time, keep them out of my stuff.  However, if I could get a jab in edgewise on occasion, I would.

The semester I was in Ames was the same time that the Beavis & Butthead Do America movie and its soundtrack came out.  I purchased the soundtrack because it was actually pretty decent.  By this time, we stayed out of each others personal possessions, but this soundtrack was apparently too much temptation for them.  I came home one day from class and heard the CD being played in the room.  As soon as I turned the doorknob, it stopped.  So, what did I do?  I went straight for the CD case and feigned my surprise at it being gone.  Then I went to their CD player and hit "eject."  They were embarrassed and a bit pissed.  The CD remained in my backpack the rest of my time out there.

But my fave was when I was moving out.  Another guy on the floor knew I was leaving and wanted out of his room situation.  He asked if he could move into my part of the room.  I knew my roommates hated him from their limited experience with him, so I said "yes" and made the recommendation to my R.A.  The final turn of the screw.


Come on, get down with the sickness...

Today, I'm going to try blogging on a theme.  And today's theme is "sickness."  Interpret that as you will; soon you'll discover that I have loosely interpreted that one as well.

Katie
Misckleenex...is home sick today.  She rarely ever gets sick and tends to work through any minor illness that she gets.  So when she actually stays home from work, you know it's serious. 

Judging by how she sounds and feels, she may even stay home tomorrow.  We shall see.  It's an annual thing for her to get a sinus infection that evolves into full-blown bronchitis when the weather starts shifting.  This is Illinois and the weather here tends to shift a lot.  Thankfully the infection is a one-off deal.

I wanted her to stay home yesterday because she was pretty bad even then.  But she couldn't find a replacement at work.  I felt horrible for her and still do today.  If I didn't have so much crap to do at work, I likely would've tried to stay home with her so I could take care of her.

But, staying at home without me is better than her still going in to work.  Until she told me she actually went out in the garage and was staining some boards for our entryway.  Girl!  Lay down and relax.  You are supposed to try to stay warm and inactive.  Don't go out in that frigid garage!

Marina's Pandemic Podcast
This is one of those utterly ridiculous news items.  I was listening to Adam Curry's Podfinder Podcast this morning on the way to work and one of his higlighted p'casts was Marina's Pandemic Podcast.  Basically, this woman is giving advice and offering professional outlooks at what she deems to be the impending pandemic of Avian Bird Flu.

All I've got to say about this is "oh great."  Yet another loon buying in to this and blowing it out of proportion.  I know some of you might think I'm nuts.  But this lady is saying that we should've been planning for this for a few years now by stockpiling dry goods and canned food and water because we will be homebound under quarantine for anywhere from a few months to a few years. 

I'm sorry, but I just don't believe it's going to be as bad as everyone is making it out to be.  They're likening it to the Black Plague and the Spanish Flu, both of which thrived in eras or populations that didn't have the access to vaccinations and other medicines that can cure it.

Ironically enough, there have been liberal media and conspiracy theorist reports that a cure (or maybe it's just a helpful deterrent) for Avian Bird Flu called oseltamivir (trade name: Tamiflu) does exist and is sold by Hoffman-La Roche.  Tamiflu was originally developed by Gilead, a company that was, in 1997, chaired by current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  Hmmm... Republican politicians linked to corporations that are intricately tied to the current affairs of the world seems to be a running theme these days, no?  (Dick Cheney and Halliburton for those of you not making the connection).

Oh well, I'm only a part-time conspiracy theorist.  There was a second shooter on the grassy knoll, dammit!

Rafael Palmeiro
MiscpalmeiroHow does he tie into my theme of "sickness," you might ask?  I argue that he is a cancer on the sport of baseball that needs to be excised, once and for all.  Yet, despite standing in front of the U.S. Congress and declaring "I have never used steroids. Period" he has not been found guilty of perjury even though he failed a steroid test earlier in the year.

In a statement yesterday, Palmeiro seemed to dispute his own earlier testimony by saying "I have never intentionally taken steroids" [my emphasis].

So, let me see if I understand this correctly.  Just because he decided to play a game of CYA ("Cover Your Ass") and declare that his positive steroid test was possibly the result of a bad vitamin injection, he's getting off on potential perjury charges.  The guy steadfastly declared that he never took steroids, "period."  There is very little room for interpretation in that comment. 

Looks like spin-doctoring is not just for politicians anymore, eh kids?

Blockbuster Video
Yes, another loose interpretation of "sickness" that also falls in my cancers-that-need-to-be-excised category.

Many media outlets are reporting that Blockbuster Video is struggling for existence right now.  They are losing money hand over fist and may have to file for bankruptcy.  Yay!!!

I have always hated them because of their late fee policies and, even though they "eliminated" these practices, I still don't rent from them.

Maybe this will mark the return of the ol' mom & pop video stores.  Oh, how I miss them.  They may not have had the selection of a Blockbuster or a Hollywood Video, but they were so much nicer to rent from.  Good people who love what they do instead of the feeble corporate mentality and non-existent customer service of a market giant.

Yes, some of these stories relied on a very loose interpretation of the word "sickness," but it worked for me.  Did it work for you?  Please don't expect me to do this all that often.  "Blogging on a theme" was fun once.  Once.  (That was for you, Pauly D).

Get well, Katie!  I love you.


Wake me up when this music ends...

Some snippets for you this morning...

Sport's Illustrated:
Tell me what's wrong with this picture...

Miscsisoxlarge

This is the cover to last week's Sports Illustrated.  And I am quite disturbed by it. 

Take a careful look at it.  The main image is that of the Indianapolis Colts' Quarterback Peyton Manning and New England Patriots' Quarterback Tom Brady who will be facing off against each other tonight in Monday Night NFL action.

Okay, that's cool and all.

Miscsisoxsmall_1But, why is it that the World Series is relegated to nothing more than a tiny little circular call-out in the top right corner of the page?  I don't care how big a match up the Monday Night game is, we are talking about the flippin' World Series!  The championship series of Major League Baseball!  This is what the 162 games of the major league season was building up to and it gets a corner of the cover in lieu of a regular season NFL match up!  And it was the announcement of the winning team!  A team that hasn't won the Series in 88 years!

SI... you should be ashamed of yourself.  I'm not a Sox fan, but they deserve more respect than this. 

I was looking forward to a nice big cover photo that I would be proud to hold on to as a keepsake. 

This cover is barely fit to grace my recycle bin.

Culver's To Go:
I am an idiot.  Yep, that's me, your fair blogger, admitting that he's an idiot.  Why, you might ask?  I pulled into the drive-thru at Culver's yesterday to get some custard for Katie and I.  When the kid came on the system asking me what I wanted, I said, "a quart of red raspberry to go."

"To go."  Yep.  That's what I said.

WHAT THE HELL ELSE WAS I GOING TO DO IN A DRIVE-THRU?!?!?  EAT IN?!?!?

I'm a moron.

Failed Dream Recall:
I woke up with quite a start this morning at about 3:30 due to a fairly twisted dream I was having.  But what's truly killing me is the fact that it was a very vivid dream that I can't remember that well anymore.

The dream started with me waking up to go to work and it was still pretty dark outside.  However, I looked out the window anyway and could see that we had our first snowfall. 

For whatever reason, I wanted to take a picture of the snow so I went to grab my camera which I had left in my truck in the garage.  As I grabbed it, I heard another pick-up truck pull into my drive way and saw the headlights from it shining through the little arced windows in the garage door. 

I couldn't possibly fathom who it could be so I decided to try to sneak a peek through the corner of one of the windows.  It was a truck just like mine driven by someone I had never seen before.

When the garage door started raising, I bolted to the door back in to the house.

All I remember beyond this is that the "person" in the truck, despite the cramped quarters of our garage was able to pull in and walked right through the door into our house.  Yes, that's right... right through it.  While it was closed.

I know there was much more to this dream than that.  But I can't remember it for the life of me.  I do remember that when I woke up after the dream, I wanted to blog about it while my recall was perfectly intact.  Shame I didn't.  But it was just so damned early and I was sooooo comfortable in bed despite my rapidly beating heart.

Damned Earworms!:
Even worse than dreaming about a haunting at our house, I woke up with an earworm that still isn't gone.  It's that damned "Wake Me Up When September Ends" song by Green Day.  I hate it!  I hate it!  I hate it!

Isn't this song dead yet?


Too much, too much...

I feel that human beings need to have their internal clocks reset a bit both by God and by Mother Nature (unless you consider them to be one and the same).

Why?

Because I feel it's unfair that: a) when you don't get enough sleep, you're tired beyond all comprehension; and, b) when you try to make up for that lack of rest on a given day by sleeping in, you often times wind up even more tired than you were before.

That's just not right.  I don't think we should be punished for too much sleep.  We should feel like we're floating on clouds... soaring through the open skies... dancing in fields with dandelions 'twixt our toes... [take your pick of these similes or create one of your own].

I am so exhausted right now that I'm in pain.  We went to bed the normal time last night, but I woke up this morning, after having slept an extra two and a half hours, with a raging headache (no, I did not drink last night), a case of dragon breath that would make an ogre turn and run, and... well... I just wish I didn't sleep that extra time.  Let's just leave it at that.

I've been awake for about an hour now.  Katie has yet to wake up.  When she does, I have an inkling that she's going to feel roughly the same as I do.  And with one helluva case of bedhead to accompany it (she sleeps all over the place and her hair shows it).  I guess that's one thing I should be thankful for.  Yes, I am a restless sleeper, but with the cease-and-desist order that genetics has imposed on my hairline, I never have to worry about bedhead.

Silver lining?  Nahhh...


Tell me am I wrong?

Select a timely article from an important business publication. The local newspaper does not qualify. For the most part, no daily publication qualifies (although The Wall Street Journal is an exception). Business Week, Forbes and so forth are good choices. Do not repeat usage of a publication in submitting articles during this semester. Each should be drawn from a different publication.

With these instructions, I and my fellow MBA students were sent forth into the world to uncover two articles per week to summarize as part of our homework. 

For the first week, our articles were to revolve around the topics of "leadership" and "competency modeling" (if you are not familiar with the latter, do not ask me to explain it as I'm still attempting to understand it as well).  Looking online for these topics can be a chore when you don't really have a firm grasp either of where to take an idea as broad and generic as the former or how to define the latter to know if an article is truly related or just "related" in the way that web search crawlers make it.

So I decided to hit my local Borders and check the periodical racks for related articles.  The only ones I could find were, of course, not in decently priced mags like Forbes and Money (~$2-5/issue), but, instead, in such "high-scale" rags like Harvard Business Review ($17.99/issue).  Since I couldn't fathom spending nearly $20 on a single article (that's my Revenge of the Sith DVD fund!! - no I have not picked it up yet), I decided to hit Google one more time.

The instructions listed above say nothing about online sources, right?  No qualifiers at all.  And if there is any "news" entity that deserves qualifiers, that would certainly be the Web.  So many pseudo/quasi/demi publications just spring up out of the shallow end of the credibility pool these days that it's hard to know what to trust and what not to.  So I decided to e-mail my prof and ask for some clarification.

My initial e-mail to Prof:

I’ve got a pretty good idea from the BlackBoard information of what constitutes an “appropriate” article in print. But what about on the Web? What Web sites are good for obtaining articles? What criteria should we use to determine good v bad?

I’m curious because I found what I feel is a pretty interesting article on nwlink.com all about how to implement Competency Modelling within an organization. Seeing as how last week was the first time I’d ever heard of C.M., I figure I need to start with the basics.

Would this be appropriate? How do I determine appropriateness in the future?

His reply:

Is the article credible, relevant, fresh and would it be meaningful for your classmates? If you're not sure about the credibility issue, find other articles to support or refute it. Hope that helps.

Yeah, gee, thanks.  That helps a lot.  Still doesn't help me know what is "credible."  Heck, if I didn't already know better, an article on leadership style from The Onion qualifies because, without the prior knowledge that I have of this wonderful parody rag, I could just find the article as a standalone on the Web and not realize that it's not real.  Are there any sources that you think are really good for online business news?  Obviously, I can't go ahead and use something like Yahoo Business News or Reuters Business News because you already declared that "daily" news sources don't count (or, at least, I would think that caveat would carry over from print to web).  Given this confusion, how would I know if the articles I find to "support or refute it" are credible in and of themselves?

My follow-up e-mail:

I'm just wondering because my interpretation of "credible" may be wholly different than yours and you give the grades, not me.  Just playing it safe.

That comment about the grades was intended to be cutesy and a jab at his almighty power over us lowly students.

His reply:

Okay. You're becoming compulsive. Do the best you can and we'll fine tune it. That's what "education" is all about. See ya tomorrow night.

"Compulsive"?  Excuse me?  Don't go insulting medical conditions.  I realize this is what "education is all about."  But it's also about being willing to admit you need help and then asking for the necessary assistance, isn't it?  Doesn't the "real world" applaud such initiative?  I would think that asking for clarification is better than doing it wrong and then having to redo it (if we'd even be given that opportunity).  In the "real world" that's called "inefficiency."

I'm taking an eight-week class.  That is a ridiculously short amount of time in which to learn this stuff and definitely not long enough for us to be able to take the time to wade through this ambiguity. 

Am I being compulsive?  Please let me know.  I'm dying to know.


Wake me up before you go-go...

After a late night playing games with friends, the one thing I wasn't looking forward to this morning was getting up to open the gym.

But, on second thought, I kinda am.

Mostly because I want to see how many morons showed up to the gym at what they thought was 7:30 in the morning to work out or play racquetball (a surprisingly popular early Sunday morning activity; don't ask me why) and actually have been sitting there since 6:30 because they forgot to set their clocks back an hour.

Oh, please God, make this morning worth my while.  I need some idiots to scorn.

Please?


I can't stop this feelin', deep inside of me...

Oooohhh, today is not going to be good.  I just know it.

When the first thing you do upon waking up is to flick off your alarm clock... well, it's just not a good sign for things to come.  It's an inanimate object, for God's sake.  The sacred middle finger should be reserved for stupid people or select inanimate objects that portray stupid people: TVs, radios, movie screens, caricatures/photographs of George Bush, etc.

I'm just not going to like being awake today.

And I blame one thing... our TiVo and the CBS Monday night sitcom lineup.  Katie and I weren't home until just before 10 p.m. and yet we still watched our way through King of Queens, How I Met Your Mother, and Two and a Half Men.  Bed by 11:45 p.m. and awake at 6:00 a.m.  Ouch.

Was it just me, or were HIMYM and 2.5M absolutely hilarious last night?

MiscnphHIMYM is not the greatest show I've ever seen, but it has gotten progressively better with each episode.  And, damn if it isn't good to see Neil Patrick Harris back on the small screen.  The actor formerly known as Doogie Howser, M.D., steals every scene he even remotely occupies in that show.  And he's not even the primary star.  He's definitely a frontrunner in the Best New Comedy Actor category of the Kapgar.com Primetime Awards (fourth annual awards due out in May, maybe April).

While 2.5M started out a bit slow and weird, the last ten minutes more than made up for it.  I couldn't stop laughing when the coven drugged Charlie (Charlie Sheen) and were carrying him into the altar room chanting "anoint him... anoint him..." and he broke into a chorus of Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling."  And then seeing their mother (Holland Taylor) dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West -- and playing out the role quite well I might add -- was just classic.

To the outside reader, it may indeed sound like we watch a lot of TV.  And, by comparison to a lot of other people, we probably do.  But, Katie and I have cut nearly six hours of shows out of our weekly TV viewing schedule, and we even officially cut one more last night by axing The Biggest Loser (sorry, but it just sucks this season).  So I don't really feel that bad about it.  Heck, depending on how they play out over the next few weeks, we may cut a few more out of the regular viewing lineup.  We shall see.

And to our alarm clock, I apologize.  You are just doing your job.  Please don't take my outbursts personally.


People are strange...

What is it about sports that makes people so crazy?

Driving and walking around Chicago and the suburbs and watching local TV programming the way Katie and I have and you cannot help but feel Sox fever.  Hey, Chicago has a team in the World Series, what'd you expect?

But with all the fan fever come the idiots as well. 

I was talking with my marketing management professor from last semester and he told me that he is really excited about the White Sox in the World Series and has been watching the postseason, as a whole, pretty intently.  However, he has two kids in his Tuesday night class that are diehard Cubs fans and they are not at all excited about what is happening.

I have a single-word question for this dynamic duo... how?  How can you not feel it?  I know it's not the Cubs in the Series.  I know you wish it were.  Heck, I wish it were.  But I'm not going to deny the White Sox this shot in the Fall Classic.  They played some tough-nosed baseball and deserve to be where they are (could you give the Cubbies a few tips?).

This is Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.  A town starved of World Series titles for 88 years.  If it were the Cubs in the Series instead of the Sox, I would like to think that Sox fans would be rooting for us, albeit with a bit of envy in that cheering much like we are now, but it's cheering all the same.

Heck, even Ryne Sandberg, Hall-of-Fame firstbaseman for the Cubs and an avowed Cub fanatic, is rooting for the South Siders.  If he can shrug off the South Side/North Side rivalry and root for the Sox because they are a CHICAGO TEAM, then so can you. 

Guess what?  The Sox are in the World Series (and are up two games to none) and the Cubs are not.  Wanna know why?  The Sox played like a team that wanted to be in the Series and the Cubs did not.  So stop bitching about the Cubs not being in it and root for the Chicago team that is and place the blame where it belongs... on the players and coaching staff that comprise the Chicago Cubs organization.

Another idiot I heard about comes courtesy of film critic and White Sox nut, Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times.  When interviewed on the Eric & Kathy Morning Show on WTMX 101.9 FM, he said that he heard (I don't know if it was in person or not) gripe about how the city's skyline buildings were not lighting their windows up at night in "White Sox colors" to celebrate the fact that the Sox were in the World Series.  He claimed that, if it were the Cubs in the Series, the windows would be blue and red as far as the eye can see.  "Why can't Chicago support the Sox the way they do the Cubs?"

This would be about the time that Roeper pointed out the obvious... the White Sox colors, for those not in the know, are black and white.  By having the lights on at all, you therefore have the white, but to have black, you must turn off the lights entirely rendering the skyline a major hazard for incoming flights.

Yes, this was an audio podcast, but I could just feel Roeper shaking his head in disbelief for this poor schmuck as he explained this on the air. 

If you are interested in hearing this one for yourself, subscribe to the Mix's free podcast using this feed (http://www.wtmx.com/podcast.php) and select either the October 20 or 21 podcast.  I'm pretty sure Roeper was interviewed in one of those two.

How Darwinism misses some people is beyond me.

No_evil
Image courtesy of ffitz images & design

To all you morons out there, please crawl back in the woodwork, under your rock, or whereever else it is that you came from before I am forced to hide out there in utter shame.


Mr. Jones and me, tell each other fairytales...

Here is a quickie Sunday post.  Done while watching the Bears/Ravens game and while Katie is lying dead asleep on the chair next to me.  Here is my first attempt at a photo ID contest. 

Having been inspired by the queen of photo ID contests, Jen at Run Jen Run, and by the fact that nobody other than SJ has attempted this mystery photo ID on my Flickr site, I figured I would open it to a bigger audience.  This will never compare to her originality nor range of photos per contest.  But I had taken this picture for kicks while down in Florida and I thought it turned out cool enough to post, abstract enough to leave people guessing, but not too terribly difficult that you cannot get it.

I haven't decided how long I will give you all to attempt it.  I guess it all depends on how many people take a stab at it.  So post your guesses in the comments.

Whatever could it be?  Well, it's not that difficult, in all honesty.  Katie got it the first time she looked at it with no prompting whatsoever.

Random Act of Senseless Thought:
I'm sure many of you have heard about the exploits of a couple weeks back of the Minnesota Vikings regarding prostitutes, strippers, and boats on a lake in Minnesota, haven't you?  Well, don't ask me where this came from, but if Chicago Bears runningback Thomas Jones (affectionately known as T.J.) were in on the party, could these women be called "T.J.'s Hookers"?  Guess you'd have to be a child of the 80s to catch this reference.


So long, farewell, auf wedersehen, goodbye.

... to our money, that is.

Whoever said wholesale clubs are a good thing?

In concept, they are great.  Find a bunch of stuff that people use on a regular basis and offer it in bulk amounts at a slightly reduced overall price.  When examined on a per-unit basis, yeah, you definitely save money.

But that certainly doesn't lessen the blow when your total is rung up at the register.

MiscsamsclubI swear you always go to these clubs -- such as Sam's Club and Costco -- with an agenda.  Katie's and my agenda today was to get me some deodorant and also get some more laundry detergent.

Did we walk out with what we hoped for?  Not exactly.

We found some great stuff in there that we never intended to shop for in the first place.  That's what kills you in any store in which you might shop.  I call it "Shopper's Doubt."  You walk in thinking you only need a few specific items, but then you see something else and you start to question whether you need it or not. 

Hmmm... do I have enough dryer sheets, kitty litter, Tootsie Rolls, printer cartridges, Razr Scooters, nosehair clippers, etc., to get me through life until my next visit? 

Well, better safe than sorry.

And you load up.

And they love you for it.

As if bulk pricing weren't enough, those evil wholesaling bastards then hook you with samples.  Oh, the Saturday samples.  * drools *

Today, we picked up a few more items than we probably should have.  Yes, we did get our laundry detergent.  But, we also got dishwasher detergent, bottled water, bar soap, canned corn, salsa, and more.

Oh yeah, we did not get my deodorant.  We didn't exactly forget.  But they wrap their bulk packages in so much cellophane that I couldn't smell what they had in stock to see if I liked it or not.  Actually, it's more a case of Katie couldn't smell it to see if she liked it or not (she has a thing for my deodorant; me, I just pray it keeps me from sweating).

I'll talk at y'all later... I've got a 1.75-liter megabottle of Jose Cuervo leering at me and I swear I can hear it taunting "yo gringo... soy tu amigo Especial.  Ven a papi."


Oh-oh, wait a minute, Mister Postman...

Have you ever wondered what would happen if just one little detail in your life had happened just a bit differently?  If you had stayed home instead of going out one night?  If you had made a left turn at the light instead of a right?

My friend and I were discussing this the other day.  We were talking more in terms of bigger decisions such as college choice (for him) or studying abroad (for me).

But what about the smaller, seemingly insignificant decisions that we make on a daily basis?

Take a moment to think of one such decision that would have irrevocably altered your life.

Miscemailalert_1For me, that would be as simple as an e-mail.  If I hadn't opened an e-mail that was sent to me back in December of 1998, my life would be so immensely different than it has turned out.

Back in December '98, I was a Hall Director at Northern Illinois University.  I wasn't your regularly detached Hall Director as I had just received my B.A. degree a mere year and a half earlier, so I wasn't too far removed in age from the students in my charge.  Heck, in some cases, they were older than me (I had a 21 and over floor in my building).  Being so close in age meant that, in a few instances, I was actually pretty good friends with my residents and R.A.s.

One person, in particular, I had become relatively close with.  We would talk about many things outside the scope of normal Hall Director-Resident conversations.  Family, friends, hobbies, TV shows, personal likes and dislikes, you name it.

Come December and Christmas Break, this person was going home for the month.  Just before leaving, they stopped by my office to leave me an e-mail address and get mine as well so we could continue "talking."

A week or so had gone by and I went into my e-mail account and read through my inbox.  Nothing worthwhile.  Then I jumped into my junkmail folder. 

Typically, I just delete them all without a second thought given.  But, every once in a while, I will actually look at the sender name and subject line to see what kind of funky new scam is happening in the Web world. 

This time, I saw one that said "Remember Me?" in the subject line from a sender I couldn't identify at all.  For whatever reason, I opened the e-mail.  Call it morbid cybercuriosity.

Turns out the e-mail was from this friend of mine whose own e-mail was inaccessible and was using her mother's e-mail account to try to get a hold of me.

Now that I knew from where to expect the messages, I was able to set my account to deliver these particular e-mails to my inbox. 

And we kept in contact.

And, two years and ten months later, we were married.

Moral to this story:
Yes, e-mail can be a wicked curse, ridden with spam, viruses, Trojan Horses, bad jokes, and the like.  And, while I'm not advocating opening every single e-mail in your junk folder (please God, don't do that!), take a second to look at the list of senders and subjects before you empty the folder out of principle.  Who knows what kind of good stuff might have been sent your way.


Another one bites the dust...

"Congrats man! Have a good time at the show and game.
Da Bears!
They should rip the Vikings the new one. They're weak this year!"

With these well wishes left in the comments about my anniversary post, Johnny C delivered the luck necessary for the Bears to win 28-3 over the sad sack Viqueens.  To Johnny, I say thanks!

The game was great once the scoring started to kick in full gear, which didn't really happen until the second half.  The first half was pretty boring otherwise.  It ended at 7-3 and could've used a bit more juice.  Obviously something was said in the Bears locker room during halftime to fire them up.  Or maybe the cruise ship prostitutes made a visit to the Vikings' locker room during halftime and further removed them from a "gameday mentality," if you know what I mean.

Clearly, yesterday was a good day for Chicago sports fans.  The Bears win and so did the White Sox in an ALCS win over the Team Formerly Known as the California and Anaheim Angels.  Yep, for the first time in 46 years, Chicago has a team in the World Series.

As much as I wish it were the Cubs, I'm just glad that a Chicago team is in it.  And I hope they win it.

And this is where my rant begins...

The wife of one of my friends is a diehard White Sox fan.  Has been her whole life.  The other day, we were all together watching the fourth game of the ALCS and Katie and I said we were rooting for the Sox to win because we want them to go all the way.  As big a Cubs fans as we are, we were still wishing the Sox well and pulling for them.  We made clear that we are not Sox fans, per se, just supporting them for the sake of our city, which desperately needs a World Series title (we haven't had one since 1917 when the Sox won it; the Cubs last won the Series in 1908).

She was offended by our support for her Sox.  She made allusions to us being bandwagoneers.  Rooting only when the getting is good.

Okay, I had made it clear that we are not fans, so the bandwagon claim is bullshit.  We were rooting for them because they might be able to do what the Cubs are clearly incapable of doing... bringing a title home for the city.  We are not suddenly wearing Sox paraphernalia and jumping the Cubbie Ship.  No no (even though I still own a White Sox shirt that I've had in my possession for nearly a decade; back when they still sucked).

She said that if we wanted to be true to our team, we should be rooting against the White Sox.

MiscwhitesoxMe: "Why?  How is rooting for the Angels being true to the Cubs?"

Her: "Because you would be rooting against your team's rivals."

Me: "What?!?!  The White Sox are not the Cubs' rivals."

Her: "Yes they are."

Me: "Like hell they are.  The Cardinals are our rivals."

Her: "No, the White Sox are because they're both in the same city."

Me: "But we're in different leagues.  We play each other in interleague play, but that's it."

Her: "But we're rivals."

Me: "Ummm, okay, whatever."

Not the best concluding comment in a debate, I admit.  And, in retrospect, I should've mentioned that her "logic" would dictate that the Mets are the number one rival for the Yankees.  Although, we all know that the Red Sox are the Yankees biggest rival.

Maybe I'm missing something here.  Is it wrong to support a team (but not suddenly become "a fan") that is not your favorite within your city if it is more for the sake of the city than anything else?  I know tons of people who are Cubs fans that are rooting for the Sox right now for the same reason that Katie and I are.  Since when is it "jumping on the bandwagon" for a city to show solidarity?  Would I bitch if the Cubs were in this situation and she pulled for the Cubs?  No.  Cheer away.

I've also checked with several diehard sports fan friends of mine who agree with my assessment of the situation.  Their conclusion was that Sox fans are afraid to claim a good team like the Minnesota Twins as their rival.  These friends are all Cubs fans as well but are rooting for the Sox to win for the same reason, to bring a championship to Chicago. 

And, they also want to see it happen to put more pressure on the Cubs next year.  For decades, as our "loveable losers" fell short each year, they had the ineffectiveness of the White Sox and the Red Sox to fall back on.  The Red Sox, who, before 2004, hadn't won a World Series title since 1918, obviously do not work as a crutch for the Cubbies anymore.  If the White Sox win it this year, the Cubs have no one with who they can compare their losing ways.  And the pressure will be on. 

Hmmm... another reason to root for the Sox.

 

The First Four Years.

First things first... happy fourth anniversary, Kate!

Yep, four years ago, today, Katie and I were married.  I know I say this each year, but how she continually puts up with my antics year after year is beyond me.  I'm certain that living with me is an exercise in patience, grace, and love.

Since Katie and I are going to see Wicked tonight, we decided to not spend a lot on gifts for each other.  Her gift to me, aside from the tickets to the show, is my ticket to go see the Chicago Bears take on the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday with my friends.  No, she's not paying for each of them as well.  Just me. 

I do feel bad about going since this is our anniversary weekend.  But she said to go.  The other reason I feel bad is because this is the weekend of the Adams Family Octoberfest (Katie's family).  I love Octoberfest and was banking on it being on the 22nd, which is when it was originally planned.  Then my friend, Brian, invited me to the game and Katie said to go.  It was only after I agreed to go, and Brian banked on me buying my ticket, that we discovered that Octoberfest had been moved up a weekend.  In the immortal words of Rex (Wallace Shawn) from Toy Story, "Great!  Now I have guilt!"

Note to readers: I am a big fan of Wallace Shawn and find him to be one of the most easily quotable actors ever.  Therefore, whenever the opportunity arises, I do (quote him, that is).

I gave my gift to Katie last night because I wanted to be able to gauge her reaction at a time when she wasn't rushed getting ready for work.  My gift to her was a sterling silver, heart-shaped locket.  I even managed to put photos in it.  I love the locket and Katie says she does, too.  Now that I know she likes it, I'm going to take it back to the store and have it engraved.  Nothing like having it engraved and then find out she doesn't like it.  That would be just my luck. 

I also want to take the photos in to a fotomat to have them printed.  I used a color laserjet printer and some glossy Kodak printer paper.  But it's still just that... paper.  When you try to get it inside the grooves of the locket, the edges fray a bit and it looks somewhat cheap.  I figure if I can get the pictures printed on good photo stock, the edges should hold up better when I put it in the locket.  Thankfully, the maker of the locket included a handy dandy little template that allows you to cut out your photos to the proper size.  No guesswork needed.  Yay!

Here are the photos I chose...

Misclocketphotos

My other gift to Katie was to have roses delivered to her at work yesterday.  I chose yesterday because we are leaving straight from work to go see Wicked and I didn't want her to have to stop at home to drop them off.  Good thinking, right?  Well, guess what?  She never received them.  I had completely forgotten about it until we were laying in bed last night and I asked her if anything happened at work today.  She said, "no."  So, this morning, while she was on her way to work, I called her boss and confirmed that nothing was delivered.  Her boss even called the front counter to see if any had come in yesterday.  Nada.

I called up the customer service department at FTD.com and complained.  They said they'd look into it and call me back.  A couple hours later, Katie calls and tells me that they found the flowers in the cooler at work.  They were delivered nearly two hours earlier and not to the pharmacy as I had requested when I ordered them.  Nobody left a note that flowers were delivered and nobody remembered anything at all about the actual delivery.  So she got them... finally.  A day later than I had planned, but still in time for our anniversary, which is a good thing.

Guess I owe FTD a follow-up call, eh?


And I hate everything about you.

Hello.  My name is Kevin.  I have a problem...

I hate ladders.

It all stems back to my desperate fear of falling and killing myself.  Funny thing is that I don't hate roller coasters or ferris wheels.  I do get a bit uneasy up in big skyscrapers like the Sears Tower.  If I'm standing back a bit from the windows and just looking, I'm usually okay.  But if I pull a Ferris Bueller and stand with my head against the glass, my stomach does topspins.

I've gotten better with A-frame style ladders.  Probably because they are relatively short and have four legs of support.  I've been using them pretty regularly lately doing work around the house.  I can handle those.

But extension ladders... oh, extension ladders.  The bain of my existence.  My Achilles' heal... how I loathe thee.

We bought our first extension ladder this past Thursday because we have fairly high ceilings (17 footers) and we needed to paint the ceiling in our stairwell while Katie worked on the walls.  So we went to Lowe's and purchased a 20' extension.

Let me tell you, that first wobbly step...

I have seen my father-in-law pull gymnast-like feats of balance and grace on extension ladders.  Stuff that should never be done on a ladder, he has done.  It's like watching the little Chinese guy go to work in Ocean's Eleven.  Freaky stuff. 

And you'll never see me do it.  In fact, I'm going to try to avoid using that ladder with every ounce of my being.  Well, when the ceiling is done at least.  I was working on it on Thursday night, last night, and even this morning.  So the stairwell ceiling is finally done,  pending any touch-up work. 

But I think I'm going to have do the living room ceiling now.  And that's not going to be fun in any way, shape, or form.  The problem lies in that the stairwell ceiling rolls into the living room ceiling because both are vaulted to the same height and now we have this horribly uneven cutoff line between the two.  Our paint is very pure white while it seems like the original paint is anything but.  It's as though the previous owners intentionally used off white or even a light cream, the difference is that noticeable. 

Damn myself for starting this bitch of a project.  Damn, damn, double damn.

And, to think, my life's ambition was to be a firefighter.  That would've gone over well.


C'mon ride the train... ride it.

As of this posting, I am 30 years old.  Well, actually, I have been 30 for almost 10 months now.  I'm just trying to set the scene.  Bear with me.

My brother is 26.

However, yesterday, we may as well have been 11 and 7, respectively, or thereabouts.

Katie and I met up with my brother and his girlfriend, Jen, yesterday to go to the Kane County Flea Market.  Katie and I were looking for a wrought iron wall hanging for our newly painted entryway.  Brian and Jen were just... well... looking.  Hey, agenda-less shopping at a flea market can be fun.  Sometimes.

Being October, I'm in a Halloween mood in a bad way.  Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and October has always been my favorite month (never hurts that our anniversary is a just a little over a week away).  And, now that we own a place, I am really looking forward to actually having trick or treaters come by.  We lived in our apartment for four Halloweens and never had a single trick or treater.  Sad.

So, to help me get in the mood for the season, I found a booth at the flea market where a guy was selling burned copies of classic B-rated horror flicks and I picked up a copy of the original The Blob with Steve McQueen as well as an 80s classic called Alligator with Robert Forster.  I've never seen The Blob, but I did see Alligator when I was a kid and it had me scared of both toilets and sewer covers for a while. 

After finally finding the wrought iron piece that Katie wanted, we all came back to our place, which Jen has never seen and Brian hasn't seen in quite a while.  Before many of our renovations, at least.

While sitting around talking, Brian heard a train go by in our backyard and came up with what, in retrospect, may not have been the best idea, but it sounded great at the time.  We would hike through the weeds over the berm in our backyard and tape quarters to the train track to get ourselves some good ol' flattened coins. 

MiscpoisonivyHe and I put on shoes and trekked through the weeds praying there was no poison ivy.  Being as far removed from my Boy Scout years as I am, I don't even remember what poison ivy looks like.  To be honest, I never knew what it looked like... even when I was a Scout.  I just constantly hoped I never walked through any while on a troop hike.  Hence why I was never first in line to go out in the woods.  I figured I'd let those who were good at flora spotting head us up while I played it safe a few kids back. 

Looking now at the picture featured on Wikipedia and others I found on Google Image Search, I still wouldn't be able to tell it from Adam.  It just looks like any other three-leaved plant.  And it's not as though poison ivy is the only three leafer out there.  Truly, there is nothing particularly distinguishing about it.  Even Science U admits it can be difficult as it changes it's look based on season.  Just try and tell me that the plant in this photo doesn't look like any of thousands of plants you encounter throughout your life.

Well, a day later and I'm not itching.  So I obviously got lucky.

While back there, we taped down our quarters, hoping against hope that it would hold up.  Sheeyah, right.  Apparently, as we digressed back to our childhood years, so did our common sense.  Tape holding up against a line of over a hundred train cars?  Gimme a break.

We did it and then we started climbing around on a train that was stopped on an adjacent track.  That was a kick.  I'd never really crawled around on a freight train car.  We also hid down in one of the gaps between the freight container and the flatbed as the target train passed by.  Wished to hell I had my camera.  Also hoped to hell that the train we were hiding on itself didn't start moving.

It was quite exciting to be doing this again.  Being a mere three feet from a speeding locomotive is a heckuva rush.  Then walking the tracks looking for the quarters wondering if another train would soon be coming by was cool, too.  We also collected several railroad spikes that I'm keeping out in the garage for the time being.  And, of course, we were constantly kidding around bitching about how we'd never find that damn Ray Brower kid.

We lost one of the flattened quarters entirely.  We actually almost lost both until i just happened to look back over a spot I'd already been by and caught a glimpse of it shimmering up at me in the sunlight.  It was a Texas quarter and the state detail was practically flattened out of existence.  However, much of the image of George Washington was preserved, albeit a bit elongated, by the fact that this was the side covered in tape.

Next time... duct tape.

And, yes, there will be a "next time."


While my guitar gently weeps.

This morning, instead of getting up for a walk/run like I had hoped, I went for a golf cart trek around my grandmother's country club with my dad.  We went around everywhere and even down this wonderfully creepy dirt road that bisects some swamp land.  The sort of stereotypical swampy area with the floating green moss and trees growing right out of the middle of the water.  Standard Scooby Doo mystery sort of locale.  As freaky looking as it was, I find myself able, as I usually do, to suppress my internal fears and brave it out for the sake of photography.  Amazing what I can do under the protective shield of photography.  Kinda like my own little Superman cape.  More photos that will be posted on Flickr, I'm sure.

We jumped in the rented minivan and, for whatever reason, made our way into a Beall's Outlet Store.  While there and looking at the discount store equivalent of a CD selection, we met this girl who was also looking at the CDs and asked if I saw any good rock discs.  I pulled out a copy of Black Sabbath's Master of Reality and handed it to her.  She said she was the singer/guitarist in a local band that, like any other band, was trying to break through to the "big time."  Well, she may not have actually used those two words in tandem like that, but you get the point.  She started explaining that her band was a mix of Metallica and Slipknot meets Evanescence.  I think it impressed her when I was able to ask "but do you have pipes like Amy Lee?" (the lead singer of Evanescence).  Confidently, she said, "yeah!"  This acknowledgment that I wasn't too old to not know who these bands were resulted in a pretty good conversation about music. 

She started explaining her band's history (they all played in their high school band together); where the band name, And More, came from (they were watching a commercial for a Now music CD and, at the end of the list of artists featured on the CD, it said "and more" and they liked it); that her cousin is the former bass player for Papa Roach; and that the Leesburg Wal-Mart had copies of her band's demo disc.  She had none on her so I actually made a concerted effort to find this Wal-Mart because I was pretty intrigued at the idea of being able to listen to a band that was just getting started. 

I haven't had the opportunity to listen to an "up-and-coming" band since buying a couple albums from a high school buddy's band, Midian, and seeing them play live both at our high school, in a local music hall later in high school, and again at the college we both attended where they opened for Local H.  Pretty cool to watch the evolution, but they broke up soon after that.  A shame as they were pretty good.

Unfortunately, after traipsing around greater Leesburg and finding the Wal-Mart, I discovered that nobody in either the audio/video section nor up at customer service had ever heard about carrying demo discs for a local band named And More.  Dangit!  I was looking forward to hearing their music.

I don't know your name, girl, but don't go sending me on some wild goose chase.  I was willing to plug your band for free here if the music was good.  Now I've got nothing to go on nor any way to really recommend you.  Heck, I can't even link to a Website for you as "And More" brings up a heckuva lot of possibilities in Web search engines.  Not a good way to start building a fan base.  If you happen across this site while Googling your band's name and would like to rectify the situation by sending me the demos, e-mail me and I'll send you my address (the link is near the top left of any page on this blog).

Somewhere in the mix of going to Bealls and finding Wal-Mart, my dad and I visited a local pawn shop.  Nothing too spectacular.  Actually, a bit of a letdown.  I've never been to a pawn shop before and I may have built my expectations for a selection of cool things up a bit too high in my mind. 

Miscex160However, I did find one spectacular thing... an old Ibanez EX160 electric guitar. 

This was one of the first guitars I ever owned in my high school and college playing days.  The only problem was, being a college student, I needed money.  Since I never really had the time to play in college like I had hoped I would, I found my guitars expendable.  Most of my instruments (three electric guitars, one acoustic guitar, and one electric bass) were not that big a deal to sell.  But my Ibanez was gorgeous and I regret selling it to this day.  It's not an easy instrument to find either.  Ibanez doesn't run the EX series anymore and, from what I've heard, Ibanez's quality of craftsmanship went downhill in the mid 1990s.  My old 160 dates back to the latter half of the 80s or maybe even 1990, at the latest.  Not even eBay has had any of them that meet my mental specs for this particular axe.  I just now found a site that sold one for $90, but, according to them, it needed "some work."

But the one at this pawn shop was almost my old guitar to a T.  The only differences were some superficial scratches and a missing pick guard.  Otherwise... perfection.  And it was only $135.  Well, I shouldn't say "only" as I can't currently afford that price.  After playing around with it a bit and realizing that it had the same smooth action as my old Ibanez, I hung it back up, wept internally, and left the store.

Yet another of those painful "so close, and yet so far" moments that occur in your life.  I wanted it soooo badly, but could not justify spending the money.  I know I will be kicking myself for years to come.  $135 for a guitar is not a bad price, really.  But I just couldn't do it.

I want to play again so badly.  And I want to play my old Ibanez.


À la Mode

Katie and I actually have some live entertainment to look forward to in the coming months and I am so stoked about both.

First, for our fourth anniversary in October, we will be going to see the far-off-Broadway Chicago tour of Wicked.  This is the story of the witches of Oz before Dorothy comes into the picture.  My mom has seen it and loved it and Katie's mom loved it as well.  I've been wanting to see it and have had the opportunity in the past, but scheduling wouldn't allow for both of us to see it together, until now.  So we're going as part of our anniversary gift to each other.

MiscdepechemodeAnd, if you've been reading Blogography for any amount of time, you know Dave's a big Depeche Mode fan.  When the band announced their tour to support the upcoming new album, he was stoked.  Until he realized that the show nearest where he lives is scheduled to happen when he's away on business.  On that post, I commented saying that he should come to Chicago when they are in town. 

Little did I know that, when DM is scheduled to be in Chicago at the end of November, he was going to be in Milwaukee on business.  Ideal, no?  He preordered the new album from iTunes, which included a special code to allow purchasers the opportunity to preorder tickets for the DM tour.  He did.  And now he, Katie, and I will be rocking out to the Mode on November 29.

It's going to be so cool.  I've never seen DM live before.  And I've never met Dave live before, either. 

Hey Kazza, you've met Dave before.  What's the best way to deal with a Dave that's gonna be so hopped up on adrenaline that he would likely be illegal in 48 states and several foreign countries?


Naughty girls need love too.

After closing the gym last night, Katie and I went out with our friends J and K (no Men in Black jokes, thank you; just trying to maintain some semblance of anonymity here) to eat at a place called McNally's in St. Charles and we followed that up listening to some live blues music at Chord on Blues also in St. Charles.

MiscjolieWe were talking about anything and everything at McNally's -- sports, politics, video games, family, friends, getting drunk.  Typical barroom banter.

Then J told me that he and K (oh yeah, to clarify, J is male and K is female, husband and wife) were listening to sports radio the other day and the DJs recited some statistic about how 57% of women polled said they would cheat on their male significant other for a chance to "be with" Angelina Jolie. 

57%... women... with... Angelina Jolie.

Woah.

That's when K chimed in saying that she would, too.

Again... woah.

J said he'd let her.  So long as he could watch, videotape, etc.  I think that's the typical male response to something like that. 

That would be my response if Katie said that. 

Of course Katie, not being much of a Jolie-camp supporter, said she would be part of the 43% minority.  But if Jennifer Aniston were to make the offer... just kidding.

Oh yeah, according to the poll, Britney Spears came in second at 23% (that's just sick and wrong, ladies; have you no taste?), 12% with Paris Hilton, and a mere 4% with Beyonce (only 4?!?!).

Aside from the actual results of the survey and the reponses by our respective female counterparts, the one thing that makes me curious regarding this whole thing is... who thinks up these things?  Is there actually a job title for these people and they get paid for it?  "Lesbian Love Survey Coordinator" or some such?  And after thinking up a question such as this, who actually has the cojones enough to go out and ask random women their opinion regarding it?  Are women that open to suggestion anymore that you can just walk up to them randomly and ask, "would you sleep with Angelina Jolie given the chance?" without risk of bodily harm, permanent or otherwise?

Okay, yes, these were current college students that were polled, and the survey was conducted by Playboy magazine, but I still think it would take some cojones de piedra to ask the question. 

I don't want to be the one to find out.


Why don't you build me up...

I'm pondering some more cosmetic changes here on kapgar.com.  I'm wondering what you all think.

  1. I'm a bit sick of how long my sidebars are becoming.  I hate how the categories are stacked, one per line, in a nice, long column.  And, while the archived months are not that long a list, yet, it will grow as time goes on.  So I'm thinking of stealing an idea that I've seen on Blogography and on Run Jen Run, that being the use of dropdown menus that contain all the archived months and categories.  For Dave and Jen, the dropdowns are a feature that come with their use of Moveable Type.  Since I use Typepad, which doesn't offer the dropdowns as a feature, I would probably have to plug in the code manually.  This is not a big deal as dropdowns are a simple matter of code theft.  Did you really think I would code them myself?  Yeah, I've coded them before, but why write when you can steal?  Even if I do steal the code, I would need to customize it for my site and update it by hand.  So I am being kept somewhat honest in my illegal maneuvering.  But the only one that would really need to be updated would be the monthly listing and that only would have to happen once a month.
  2. I want to bring more emphasis to the fact that I do have other portions of my site available for people to read and I don't think having four simple text links under the heading "Kapgar.com" is really helping to get the word out.  Yeah, I do have some people who find my other sites -- which include a fairly extensive photo album, movie review site, and book review site in addition to seven years of handcoded blog entries (pre-Typepad) -- from Web searches.  But my blog readership has increased a lot since I switched to Typepad and it's these new readers I don't think realize those sites exist.  So I'm thinking of throwing together some badge-style link images to make them stand out a bit more.  Now that I know how to incorporate HTML into sidebars, this is going to be easy.
  3. Better yet, if I'm going to create dropdown menus, maybe I should just incorporate my archived blog entries into the new dropdown as well.  Not a bad idea.  If I decide to get really ambitious, I could even create dropdowns for the movie and book reviews.  Okay, maybe not.  I'm not that motivated.

I also like when you tool around on someone else's site and find handy little links that can help you out as well.  On Run Jen Run, she had a link to a site called Chicago Blogs which is a list of bloggers from the Chitown area.  Heck yes.  I'm not exactly in Chicago proper, but I live in the recognized suburbs.  So I registered and now have the code under "Visit Me" in the right sidebar.  It would be cool to receive some visits from other Chicago bloggers and be able to rant and rave with them about all things Chi. 

I am already listed on *beep* which is a blog host and link repository for bloggers in the Chicago area (who use other blog hosting services) run by the Daily Herald.  Funny thing is, they found me and asked if I wanted to be linked.  Cool.  I read the blogs on their site from time to time.  Some pretty good stuff from their regular contributors every now and again.  I'm thinking I should add them to the "Visit Me" typelist as well, wouldn't you agree?  If they're gonna link to me, perhaps I should return the favor, eh?  Hmmm...

Now to find a site that compiles all amateur movie and book reviewers.  All the old webrings I've belonged to in the past have kinda gone by the wayside.  Webrings are so hit or miss.  Once in a while you will find a person who really keeps the ring alive and maintains it fervently.  But for every one ring admin that is good, there are 20 or 30 that just don't give a rat's patootie.  Most of the ones I've found have fallen in the latter category, unfortunately.  Any suggestions?


Gimme fuel, gimme fire...

I'm keeping this one short to make up for yesterday's mammoth entry.

This is a real conversation that Katie and I just had on the phone and it really threw me for a loop.

Katie - "I've gotta stop and get some gas.  It's $2.85 up here at the Jewel!"

Kevin - "Wow!  $2.85?!?  That's great!"

Katie - "Yeah it is!  So I'd better stop now."

Kevin - "Ohmigod, we're talking about $2.85 like it's the second coming of Christ."

Katie - "We are, aren't we?"

My dad said it a few weeks ago, as did Katie, and they were both right.  Prices would get well up over $3.00 per gallon (I saw it as high as $3.31) and then settle back down under $3.00 and we would go running for the gas stations like it was a great deal.  Never mind the fact that it's still $1 more per gallon than it was last year.

I know that there are enough people complaining about gas prices, but I just find it to be ridiculous.  OPEC and gas companies can gouge the hell out of us and get away with it so long as there is turmoil in the Middle East that can be used as a referent when "justifying" the increase.

It's time for a motorcycle.