Me & Mine 2006

Whoo, black diamond...

Okay, several of you asked, either in comments or e-mails, what it was that I got for Katie for Christmas, so I figured I'd do a bit of a gift round-up.

Diamondpendant For her from me:

  • A collector's copy of Marley & Me by John Grogan
  • A ladybug necklace from Red Envelope
  • A floppy-eared dog stuffed animal
  • And the piece-de-resistance, a diamond loop necklace

I would've taken a picture of the actual necklace itself either on Katie or off, but she's asleep and I don't want to wake her up right now. So you'll have to settle with a representative image of it from

For me from her:

  • A Chicago Bears Tradition "B" hat
  • A Chicago Bears NFC North champion long-sleeve T-shirt
  • A Chicago Bears Devin "Windy City Flyer" Hester jersey
  • A copy of the Chicago Bears edition of Monopoly (don't see a theme yet, do you?)
  • A Hallmark chihuahua Christmas tree ornament (not that I'm a big fan of chi-hoo-a-hoo-a's, but it's part of the series of Puppy Love ornaments that I had been buying for her over the years; she just beat me to the punch on this one; so it has sentimental value to us as a couple)
  • And, of course, the Palm TX that I detailed a bit yesterday

I love everything she gave me and, thankfully, she liked all that I gave her, which made for a great season of gift giving.


So how the hell do I top it next year?

Latest Fun With Dead Trees reviews - It's been a while, but we're back with a few new reviews. I stop by with a review of Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys while Claire chimes in with both Richard Avedon's Evidence 1944-1994 and Augusten Burroughs' Running With Scissors. I will, hopefully, return soon with a review of Daniel Clowes' Ghost World, which I read yesterday.

We wish you a Merry Christmas...

I am absolutely dying to give Katie her Christmas gift. I mean it. I’m dying. I’ve had the thing in my grubby mitts for a couple weeks now and it’s killing me.

However, the fear of her not liking it is balancing out the equation a bit.

Do I want to give it to her, or do I not want to take the risk?

Do I?

Don’t I?


The thing I’ve got going for me is that everyone I’ve either shown or described the gift to has absolutely loved it. That’s a plus. But Katie is certainly not “everyone” and that’s why I’m still worried.

Can I just give her the damn thing (well, “things” would be a bit more accurate although it’s only one of the gifts that I’m truly worried about) already?


Well, anyway, just in case I don’t get a chance to post again (we’re going to be traveling all over the place and I can only hope I will find a chance to sneak on the Web a bit, but I make no guarantees), I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and whatever other holidays are happening around this time that I may be overlooking right now.

Tune in soon for my end-of-year wrapup.

Stop the world, I wanna get off...


*cough cough*


Sorry about that. Had to get it out.

It's been a while since I ranted about bumper stickers, like a really long while. And many of you know that nothing frustrates me more than hypocrisy, so you'll forgive me for delving into this again.

I was behind a vehicle last night on my commute home when I was assaulted with stickers bearing messages such as "Live simply that others may simply live," "Kill your TV," "The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth," and "Think Green." There were others, but he would neither stop long enough nor turn in the same direction as I was, so this was all I could get written down in my trusty Moleskine.

Clearly this guy is an environmentalist and would like to see life simplified. Noble pursuits, in all honesty. There is nothing wrong with wanting to simplify things, perhaps go back to a time akin to Little House on the Prairie. We'll all wear bonnets and ride around in horse-drawn wagons and actually sit down together at the dinner table before blowing out the flames in our hurricane lamps and going to bed.

But are you going to be willing to part with your gas-guzzling SUV to do so, you imbecile?????

That's right, our fair lover of all things natural was driving a 10-mile-per-gallon SUV!

You friggin' moron.



For the record, I am not opposed to SUVs so don't think I'm crusading against you. I am merely opposed to stupid people who say one thing, yet do another entirely.

And all this a day after I post about a guy telling me I'm not snide. Well the fairy tale had to end some time, right?

I always feel like somebody's watchin' me...

I know a few of you are convinced my townhouse is haunted because of some of the strange noises I've reported over our couple years living here. Well, I'm not so easily swayed to this seemingly menacing perception.

However, this morning I heard some more inexplicable noises that left me wondering.

When my alarm went off, I smacked the snooze bar. I haven't slept well the last couple nights and I thought that ten extra minutes couldn't hurt me.

Then I heard the "footsteps."

These ones were not inside on the stairwell like ones I've heard in the past. They were on the roof... on the outside. And they sounded like they were crunching through snow.

Then I heard the "scraping."

It actually sounded like a snow shovel on concrete clearing the detritus away after yet another snowfall. And this is what I was convinced it was.

You see, it's been a week and a half since that first big snowstorm of ours and the snow is still here. However, the temperature has risen above freezing and the rain has started just in time to give us a nice, muddy brown Christmas (yay). So I was under the impression from those two noises that the temperature had instead dropped and we got a ton of snow overnight.

I freaked out and jumped out of bed to look out the window to determine if I did, in fact, need to shovel.

Nothing. It was still raining.

And I missed out on prime snooze minutes. Damn noises. I think I could almost feel my house laughing hysterically at my misery.

I took my shower and grabbed a laundry basket of clean clothes and pulled them into the closet so I could sort through and find clothes to wear without waking Katie.

Then I heard the "creaking."

Of course, from my vantage point, looking up at all my newly installed shelving, the only thing I could think was that my closet was going to collapse in on me burying me in piles of clothes a la Michael Keaton in his mom's closet in Johnny Dangerously.

Nothing happened, thankfully. But how long until something does? I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

On a completely unrelated aside, the rules for Reveal Your Blog Crush Day have been posted. Plan accordingly.

Little ditty 'bout Dave and Diane...

Dealing with traffic on I-88 east: absolute hell.

Putting up with the Hillside Strangler on 290 east: even more hell.

Coping with no traffic flow whatsoever on 90 west: the worst kind of hell.

Being able to meet up with Dave and Diane at Chicago's Pizza and Pasta and then having drinks at two bars afterward: friggin' priceless!

Me, Diane, and Dave

I've raved about meeting Dave before (opportunity #1 and #2) and having a chance to meet up with him again was great. But Diane is a new blogger buddy of mine and far too cool for words. If you have a chance to meet either, do so. By all means.

Oh, and the redeye could be a combination of the flash and the drinking. Who's to say for sure?

I also need to give a big thanks to another blogger buddy of mine, Hilly, who sent me a belated birthday gift. My gift to her was late as well so she need not feel guilty. Plus she fed my craving for all things David Sedaris by gifting me with Holidays on Ice and Live at Carnegie Hall. Sweet!

Bought a one-way ticket to hell...

Katie and I spent the early part of yesterday helping a friend prepare her house to host a surprise 30th birthday party for another friend. My job was to keep their four-year-old son, P, busy. So I took him out to get him a haircut, go buy some snackies for the party, and pick up the cake.

At some point in the drive, I was asking him what he had been doing that morning...

Me: So did you watch cartoons this morning?

P: No. I watched The Polar Express.

Me: Did you like it?

P: Yeah, it had a guy on a train and, when he took his hat off, he had no hair on top and a lot on the sides like you.

Me: ...

Four years old or not, I'm throwing down the gauntlet, kiddo. Bring it on!

They call me the whore...

There's a girl I met recently. I don't really know her other than as a relative acquaintance. I see her from time to time and we say "hi." Not much more.

That should do well to establish our "relationship."

So when you really don't know someone any better than this, is there a "good" way to tell her that her excessive use of facial makeup results in her looking like a dime-store hooker?

I'm not saying she's quite up to Tammy Faye standards just yet, but she's getting dangerously close.

I tread dangerous ground.

Hey! Got a meme in the extended post...

Continue reading "They call me the whore..." »

We make plans for big times...

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

Derived from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse"... “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

Such an eloquent statement. And one that applies to our weekend quite well.

Katie and I had such grand plans for this extended holiday weekend and yet it seems as though we completed only a fraction of them.

1. Clean up our house entirely.
Done for Thanksgiving, but it went all to hell yesterday.

2. Clear both our TiVos' "Now Playing" list of the two weeks' worth of shows that had built up on it.
Almost. We have one show left from those two weeks (last week's Studio 60) and whatever was added to it last night. However, I, personally, have about eight hours of Veronica Mars, Heroes, and Day Break backed up. Sometime on Saturday, I kinda decided there was no way I was ever going to get to all of it and simply deleted the first two episodes of Day Break and killed the Season Pass. As much as I like Taye Diggs, it was too much to catch up on and, since I never saw a single episode, I wasn't going to be missing much. I'm already pretty well invested in the other two and would like to finish them up.

3. Decorate for Christmas.
We certainly pulled out all the containers of decorations. Hence why #1 somewhat undid itself... the containers and decorations are now strewn about our home cluttering up what was once a beautifully clean homestead. We did get the tree assembled and got it all plugged in, as well. However, none of our ornaments are up at all. That will likely kick in tonight when we get done working out at the gym. Wish us luck.

4. Shop for Christmas presents.
We actually did a big chunk of this. Okay, maybe not that much. But at least we have about a quarter of it actually purchased and a list of what we will be buying for the other three quarters nearly complete. Just figuring out what to buy is a majority of the battle each year. Some of our relatives are not easy to buy for, let me tell you.

5. Do something with the leftover Thanksgiving food.
Katie made cream of turkey wild rice soup, a la Panera's cream of chicken wild rice, and it's damn good. She also made a turkey boullion base (sp?) that can be used for any number of other things. So, at least the turkey carcass is now gone from our fridge and we have room to put stuff in there.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Make such big plans only to watch them die upon attempted execution? You would think we'd learn. But we don't.

All the love gone bad turned my world to black...

Here are a few practical life lessons learned today...

1. Hosting a Thanksgiving get together with family results in garbage and recyclables the likes of which are not seen at any other time in a calendar year. Jeez!

2. There are no Black Friday sales that can quite compare to sleeping in next to the person you love. And then laughing at all the suckers who are complaining about having been awake since 4:00 a.m. Heh.

3. Before hanging up your outdoor Christmas lights, plug them in to make sure they still work.

4. Even if you're a militant looking woman dressed in camouflage pants shopping with a friend dressed similarly, the "she-mullet" is dead. Give up the ghost. Cut it off. Please.

'nuff said.

They say it's your birthday...

No, it's not my birthday, not yet anyway.

However, when I made my BSP (Birthday Self Promotion for anyone who missed it) announcement last week, Suze left a comment that made me think maybe this crazy little concept could be taken a step further.

So I'm hereby taking this opportunity to take the BSP notion that I first read on Sandra's site some time ago (and many other sites after that) and bumping it to the next level.

Let's take a moment to welcome the BSPCP. No, that's not some new kind of illegal drug or medical insurance plan. It is the Birthday Self Promotion Cross Promotion!!!!

What this means is that you can take advantage of this post to start seeding interest in your own birthday. Of course, I get to announce, yet again, that my birthday is on Tuesday, December 5, and that I have a link to my Amazon Wishlist in the sidebar. But you, as my valued friends and readers, can also post your own birthdays in the comments to this post. I don't care how far off your birthday may be, it's never too early to get people interested. And considering Sandra's obsession with BSP, I'm sure she'll be all over this.

There is, as with anything I do around here, a catch. When your own birthday begins its approach vector (why I'm talking in aeronautical terms, I don't know), you must write your own BSPCP post and open it to anyone else who would like to promote their birthday, regardless of how far in advance it may be.

So let's hear it, people! When's your birthday?

I've got you under my skin...

I have seen the face of true evil.

Carpet tack strips be thy name.

The pair of us injured ourselves so many times last night while prying these devil strips out of the floor that we lost count. Katie punctured her hands so many times, you'd swear she was stigmatic.

Pain, agony, anger, hatred, fear, frustration, ruin... all words associated with the Dark Lord of the Underworld himself. Thus I feel correct in making the following equation...

tack strips = Satan.

Any nonbelievers?


Whatever you want, I'll give it to you...

How well do you all remember Lethal Weapon 2? That was the film that introduced Joe Pesci's character, Leo Getz ("Whatever you need... Leo Getz!"). His big claim to fame in the movie was his tirade against drive-thru restaurant service. As you may recall, it went a little something like this...

They FUCK YOU at the drive-thru, okay? They FUCK YOU at the drive-thru! They know you're gonna be miles away before you find out you got fucked! They know you're not gonna turn around and go back, they don't care. So who gets fucked? Ol' Leo Getz! Okay, sure! I don't give a fuck! I'm not eating this tuna, okay?

Last night, I actually wanted the damn tuna.

I went to Panera Bread and ordered a tuna salad sandwich (singularly the best tuna salad sandwich that's not made by Katie) to go. I was on my way to class and in a hurry so I'm sure you can see where this is going.

I get to school for class and open the sandwich. Lo and behold... turkey. Not that I have a problem with turkey, but it was not tuna salad!

And my reaction lends complete credence to Leo's theory... I was too far away to turn around and head back. They fucked me.

At least they got the apple right.

Bastards. I'm checking next time.

Click for Cans
Hey, to all you Bears fans out there, click on over to Campbell's Chunky Click for Cans and vote for our Monsters of the Midway. If you're not a Bears fan, don't read this. The other teams need no help.

I wish I was a radio song, the one that you turned up...

Here's a snippet of a conversation Katie and I had with a gym goer last night...

Gym Goer (GG): God I remember when I was younger and could do all these exercises without a problem.

Me: Enjoy it while you can, right?

GG: You bet. [doing bad Cranky Old Guy voice] Back when I was your age. [normal voice] Ummm, what are you two, like 21 or 22?

Me: Heh heh. 32 in December.

Katie: 29.

GG: You've gotta be kidding me. I thought you were both still college students. You must really take care of yourselves. Just wait til you two get to my age.

Me: You're now our favorite gym member.

Never underestimate the power of a compliment. As offhanded as it may have been.

I guess now is as good a time as any to start the official countdown to my birthday. Yeah, I'm pretty bad at this whole Birthday Self Promotion thing. I really need to take lessons from Sandra, Alissa, Karl, and Chase. I am but a mere 20 days away from my 32nd birthday. And I know it's ballsy to say, but I do accept gifts (anyone in my family who is reading this -- all two of you -- that is looking for a birthday or Christmas list from me can refer to my Amazon Wishlist as well - oh hell, I'll even put it in the sidebar to make life easier)!

Tie me up and tie me down...

I own a tie rack.

Five words. Twelve letters. And yet a statement so brief suddenly makes me feel 5-10 years older than I've ever felt before.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very nice tie rack. Works as part of our closet organization system and it's quite handy. It's just the implications inherent in owning one. It implies that you have a number of ties that you wear on a regular basis and they need to be sorted. And I do.

Granted I've owned ties my entire life, I just never wore them except on very special occasions. I could get away with keeping them on a little hanging loop with my belts. No big deal. Now, though, I need to keep them nice and easily accessible.

It's quite different.

I think I'm becoming Barneyfied. Pretty soon our spare room will be converted into living quarters for my suits and I'll be shouting comments like "Suit up!" to my friends.

Shoot me now! Before it's too late!

To the soul's desires the body listens...

Dear Body,

I know you think you know what is best for me. When I acquire some kind of disease, you will shut down unnecessary functions to concentrate your efforts on eradicating the illness. When I don't eat enough, you tell me. When I eat too much, again, you tell me. When I'm cold, you maximize your heat production. All kinds of great automatic functions that I would better understand if I had stuck with a science-related degree program in college.

Alas, I did not. I have two degrees in the arts and not the sciences. Perhaps that is why I don't understand the miscommunication we had last night. And I'd like to give you this opportunity to clarify matters to me.

You and I woke up early to go open the gym and stayed there until noon. We did 20 minutes of cardio exercise and another half hour of lifting. We then came home to finish painting the closet we had torn apart the day before. We also hung a new closet organization system. We also rehung and reorganized all our clothes and installed three new doorknobs complete with chiseling out the door to make the components fit properly.

These were hefty tasks, but we went into them with gusto and we finished them.

To top it off, Katie shared a bottle of wine with us. Together, we downed half a bottle of traminette. That consumption alone would typically be more than enough to fell most beasts.

So why did you insist on waking me up at 3:30 this morning and then every 15 to 30 minutes after that? You should have wanted to stay dormant. Nay, you should've needed to in order to recover from that.

But you didn't. Instead, for some God-forsaken reason, you opted to not sleep knowing that we had a wake-up time of 5:15 this morning for work.

Can you please explain this to me?

Your overworked and underslept soul,


P.S. Katie appeared to be sleeping pretty soundly last night. Can you take a cue from her tonight?

And I feel fine...

Hey all. Sorry this post is coming to you so late. However, I didn't need to have one done before I left for work today simply because I have the day off! Yep, it's Veteran's Day and I'm sitting at home right now. I haven't had this as a holiday since grade school or high school. Somewhere around that time, I'm pretty sure. So this is odd for me.

Something really good came of this day off, though... I got the gig with the park district teaching people about photography and blogging. Yes, I'm teaching a class on blogging. And they're PAYING ME. Suckers. (Rachel, if you're reading this, you're not a sucker. Seriously.). I think it may really be time for Karl and I to revisit the blogging book idea.

But this could also turn into more classes in the future. It's up to me to come up with some cool ideas down the line.

However something strange happened at this meeting as well. I sent Rachel, the woman at the park district, my resumé via e-mail just before the meeting because my personal printer is on the blink. She checked it out before I got there to talk to her and then she revealed some odd bits to me.

For one, she does a lot of work with the other PD's in the tri-cities' area (Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles). One of her responsibilities is to manage the pool for the Geneva Park District. That pool is right next door to the GPD building where I work in the fitness center.

Not entirely out of the ordinary. But, it gets weirder.

As some of you may know, I have a B.A. in Spanish business and an M.A. in communication - media from Northern Illinois University. She has a B.A. with a double major in Spanish literature and corporate communication... also from NIU. She graduated with her B.A. the same year I got my M.A. We know a lot of the same people. And, although we cannot prove it just yet, we are positive that our paths have crossed at some time during that period. Hell, I taught in that department when she was taking courses.

We are now left with three options...

  1. This is just a complete coincidence
  2. Cosmic forces are colliding in order to drop me the not-so-subtle hint that this is a good thing
  3. I have a stalker

Honestly, I don't think all this could be sheer coincidence, so I'm ruling out #1 right off the bat. I tend to lean toward #2 as it seems like there is some higher power at work here. But I'm totally cool with #3. I've always wanted a stalker. To quote Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds), "Are you stalking me? 'Cause that would be cool."

Oh, and I totally expect she'll read this. And probably laugh harder than I care to acknowledge.

Feed me all night long...

Instead of depressing myself with a post about how pathetic Halloween was this year compared with last, I'm going to just give you a story about something that happened to me over the weekend. Is that cool with you?

Lady at the Jewel Deli Counter: How can I help you today, sir?

Yes, I’d like a pound of the Chef’s Choice American cheese.

How would you like that cut?

Ummm… I’m not sure how to answer that for cheese.

Well, I can give you a sandwich cut or you can have a giant one pound brick.

Yeah, let’s go with slices.

You look hungry, would you like to try a sample?

Okay, sure. Why not?

Here’s an end piece. It wouldn’t make for a full slice anyway. I always get in trouble because I do my grocery shopping when I’m hungry.

That’s not a good idea.

I wind up buying all the stuff I don’t need and don’t want.

Correction… you want it, you just don’t need it.

True. So do you like the cheese?

Yep. It’s good stuff.

[Katie walks up with a perplexed look on her face.]

LatJDC: Oh, here’s another end piece you can eat.

Me: Um okay.

[I hand the second piece to Katie as slicing ensues.]

LatJDC: Here’s your pound of cheese. Would you like anything else?

Me: How about a half pound of the Sara Lee honey ham?

LatJDC: Sure. Would you like a sample of this as well?

Me: Yeah, okay.

LatJDC: Here’s two slices for you.

Me: Thanks.

[I eat one slice and hand the other to Katie. Katie walks away to continue shopping. Slicing commences.]

Me [looking in the deli case]: Oh wow, you carry jalapeno poppers?

LatJDC: Yes, we carry them on occasion

Me: I’m going to have to remember to try those some time.

LatJDC: Here, try one.

Me: Oh, okay. Thanks.

LatJDC: What do you think?

Me: They’re very good. I’ll have to remember to get those the next time I have friends over.

LatJDC: Well bear in mind that we don’t carry them all the time. And when we do get them, they go fast.

Me: Okay, I’ll remember that. Thanks.

LatJDC: You’re welcome and here’s your ham. Have a great day.

I walk away and find Katie. She eyes me suspiciously and asks, “Is your new girlfriend finally done flirting with you?” I roll my eyes.

And thus begins my apparent affair of the stomach with the deli counter girl at Jewel/Osco.

Latest Fun With Dead Trees reviews - *lynne* chips in with Jesse Kellerman's Sunstroke, Claire's back with Barbara Watterson's Introducing Egyptian Hieroglyphs and David Rakoff's Don't Get Too Comfortable, while I throw in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

I'm too much with myself...

Main Entry: 1snow
Pronunciation: 'snO
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English snAw; akin to Old High German snEo snow, Latin niv-, nix, Greek nipha
1 a : precipitation in the form of small white ice crystals formed directly from the water vapor of the air at a temperature of less than 32°F (0°C)

Nothing like stripping such a beautiful natural occurence of all its romantic glory.

We had our second snowfall of the season last night. It was rather meager and there was no accumulation whatsoever. Just the knowledge that it was falling on me from above. I could tilt my head heavenward and watch as these little shards of crystalline beauty fluttered down toward my face.

One fell on the roof of my truck as I was leaving Katie's workplace. It was almost too perfect. Even from a distance of a foot, I could see that little one millimeter squared piece of purest white had taken the form of a perfect Star of David. Each of its six points reaching out the same distance from its center. Each having a perfectly honed tip. Despite the lack of light around my truck, its brilliance shone against the red paint.

I almost doubted its authenticity. How could anything so random appear to have been crafted so immaculately? Was it a piece of confetti that had drifted down after being blown out of a nearby garbage can? I looked at it a bit more closely. My confirmation of its validity was immediate... as I continued my examination I exhaled through my nose and it melted on contact.

I took a moment to examine several other flakes as they fell on the roof of my truck. Each one different. Each one spectacular in its uniqueness. But as the theory goes, no two were even remotely the same.

I never take the time to just enjoy moments such as these anymore. I always feel so rushed through life. What happened to the days of lazily watching clouds float overhead? Plucking a blade of grass from the earth, splitting it up the middle, and whistling through the opening? The mundanity of life?

Why do these things become less important as we get older?

And why am I waxing nostalgic right now?

Is this it?

What are you supposed to say when one of your good friends calls you up and announces, "I'm getting divorced"?

Is there something that can be said without it coming across as cliché?

It's been a strange day. Clearly not just for me.

Side by side...

I'd like to take a break from my normal bloggity tripe to wish my one and only true love, Katie, a happy fifth anniversary. I love you, hon. I always have and I always will.

So in the spirit of this being a blog avowal of my love, I will create a meme about my wife...

Five Things (hey, it is our five-year anniversary)

Five things that turned me on to you:

  • Your sense of humor
  • Your smile
  • Your eyes
  • Your intelligence
  • Your willingness to keep dating me despite our need to do it in secret early on

Five things that made me know I wanted to marry you:

  • The fact that you were the first person I dated with whom I could imagine my future
  • The fact I was more than willing to go ask your dad for his permission to marry you
  • The fact that, despite disagreements we may have had, I never once thought about breaking up
  • The knowledge that I would always wake up next to you (even if you're not a morning person)
  • The knowledge that you were the first person who made me understand what "love" truly meant

Five things that continue to impress me about you:

  • Your ability to roll with the punches (and not in a spousal abuse sense of it)
  • Your dedication to keep working to achieve your goals
  • Your willingness to try something new (my fair readers, get your minds out of the gutter)
  • Your steadfast resolve in still not having seen all the Star Wars movies despite my begging
  • Your continued ability to love me in spite of my obvious flaws

Five things I look forward to with you:

  • An expanding family
  • Continued happiness
  • Undying love
  • More vacations and adventures
  • Five more years... and then a whole lot more

I love you with all my heart, Katie. Happy anniversary.

Oh, and here are a select few photos from our wedding for your enjoyment...

Weddingshot Weddingaisle


Oh, and thanks to SJ for the well wishes (albeit a bit freaky, but I guess that's allowed since our anniversary falls on a Friday the 13th in the month of October).

Roll the bones...

Make a mental note...
If your spouse or significant other is anything like mine, she (or he) does not like it when you get a Yahtzee on your very first roll of the game.

Trust me on that one.

Top Ten...
From the home office in Geneva, IL, the Top 10 Reasons I'm Glad It's October:

10. The leaves will change

9. This has always been my favorite month

8. The weather is cooling down

7. Apple picking and apple cider

6. Pumpkins

5. Decorating for Halloween

4. We're coming back to Cingular today!

3. Billie Joe Armstrong can finally be woken up and radio stations will no longer have reason to play that insipid Green Day song

2. Halloween, baby!!

And, finally...

1. Our fifth anniversary is on the 13th

I'm too sexy for...

I'm becoming slightly disturbed by a trend I've been noticing lately. My sleep-borne alter ego is a nudist!

Yep, I go to bed in my pajamas and wake up the next morning in either my underwear or -- the horror! -- nothing at all.

I don't get it. It's happened twice this week alone. And I even find myself embarrassed when I get up out of bed and discover my current level of fabric discontent. Embarrassed despite the fact that nobody is around to see me. Go fig, eh?

I don't know where this tendency comes from or why my sleep self would think it is socially acceptable even if it is a purely somnambulist social state.

Is there a 12-step program I can join? Some sort of Sleep Strip Support Group?

I need help! And I need it before I wake up some morning wrapped naked around a stripper pole.

Perhaps I'm just upset at the glaring lack of dollar bills stuffed in my skivvies when I wake up. Not a single greenback. Damn. You'd think if I was going to strip in my sleep, I'd at least make a show of it.

Latest Fun With Dead Trees reviews - Claire chimes in with You Can't Win by Jack Black.

Now go away, go away, go away...

Hypothetically speaking, of course, should you ever spill red wine -- say, perhaps, a Robert Mondavi Merlot -- on light-colored carpeting, cover it with table salt immediately. Do not bother mopping it up with a rag or paper towels. Just cover it with salt. Big heaping amounts of it.

Scoop off as much as you can and vacuum up the remainder of the salt. Then hit what little bit of red is still there with Resolve Spot Magic.

Blammo, good as new. Not that it ever happened or anything.

Take the word of the hypothetical guy who did not knock over his hypothetical wife's glass of wine. Katie, errr, the hypothetical wife of that hypothetical guy was quite on the ball when she came up with that solution. And she has no idea where she learned it.

Way to go, Mrs. Hypothetical Wife.

Crazy, just like me...

I finally got 44 of the 215 photos I took of the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour posted on Flickr. Yes, it was Chicago and I had a camera in hand, would you expect any less of me? I'm just happy I bought a 1 GB card out in California or I would've risked running out of space. I hate when that happens.

Suffice it to say, we had a blast and I highly recommend this cruise to anyone who lives in or just visits this great city. You learn a lot about the city's history and the sights are second to none. And at about $25 per person for a little over an hour (there are options for more expensive cruises), it's very reasonable. That, alone, shocked the hell out of me.

Flags on the bridge crossing the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue

Wyland defaced
I wanted to bring attention to the fact that some asshole developer decided to build a parking structure that would eventually completely cover this beautiful humpback whale mural by the famed painter Wyland. Just not right.

Continue reading "Crazy, just like me..." »

After the boys of summer have gone...

For those of you wondering what some of those photos from yesterday represent, aside from the obvious Chicago connection, we went on an architectural boat tour of the city and it was a blast. Yes, more photos and a more in-depth description is forthcoming.

For now, though, some random thoughts...

The end of the summer
I was opening the gym this morning and processing some new memberships when I looked at today's date and realized we are now in September. Would somebody care to explain to me when the hell this happened? Where did August go? What about May, June, and July before that? This summer was just way too friggin' quick. And I don't like it. How'd I miss it all?

MySpace is actually kinda cool
I know I was hesitant at first about joining MySpace. But, all in all, it's been a pretty cool experience. Not only does it give me a different way to connect with people I know, but I've rediscovered some people that I had long since given up hope of ever hearing from again. In recent months, I had an old roommate from college contact me. We have on-again/off-again communication, but we're both not the best about keeping in touch. And now we have another way to publicly harass each other. It's great.

But the biggest surprise came this weekend when I received a Friend request from yet another old college roommate that I hadn't heard from, literally, in 10 years. He graduated and dropped off the face of the Earth. None of us who were friends with him knew how to get in contact with him. Then, after a decade, I receive a MySpace message with his name asking to be my friend. Woah! Very friggin' cool! I was pretty stoked to see that he was still around and wanted to get back in touch.

Fortune cookies
This was my fortune from Ben Pao Chinese restaurant in Chicago yesterday...

Listen these next few days to your friends to get answers you seek

Is there something you all aren't telling me?

Maybe you're crazy...

I'm not going to give you a full-blown post just now as we are still in the recovery phase of our evening. We've been in downtown Chicago with Brian and Jen just spending the day doing a lot of nothing and enjoying every minute. So I will leave you with some photos to tide you over until I can get them all posted on Flickr with descriptions (if I can remember what the hell they all are).

The uploading will take a while considering I took more than 200 photos just on my camera. Katie probably took about 50 on hers. We won't upload them all, of course, but we do need to weed through them all.

Dsc02572   Dsc02621

Dsc02740   Dsc02715_1

There's somethin' wrong with the world today...

I need to make some changes here at kapgar. Something's gotta give.

Scrat Have any of you ever watched the movie Ice Age? Remember that squirrel-like character, Scrat? He spent the opening sequences of the movie scouring the frozen tundra for acorns that he could horde for the coming, well, ice age? That was all he did. He ran around collecting the nuts to protect himself from future events unknown. And each nut was a prize to him, something worth risking it all for. Damn the consequences.

That's who I've become as a blogger. And I hate it.

Yes, I just compared myself to an animated representation of an animal that we're not even entirely sure existed. Ever.

In my quest to ensure that I have some sort of product here on kapgar on a daily basis, I've become a post whore. I'll find a good idea and write it up and then horde it for that day when it may become needed; that hypothetical future date when I may wind up with nothing to say at all. So I sit on it and save it as a draft post until such a time.

And what happens? It becomes stale. Yep, much like Scrat's acorns, it becomes old and worthless to others. However, much like Scrat, I'll still treat it as important and throw it out there on the web as some sorry excuse for a post for that day.

I've become more worried about my own personal quest to maintain my blogging streak than I am about being a good blogger. One who writes for the sake of writing. A person who blogs simply for love of the art.

I think this became most apparent when Katie and I went to San Francisco. I prewrote a bunch of posts to fill the days that we were gone. I was more worried about keeping you reading than I was about being true to myself as a writer. If I had been a good blogger, I would've just taken the time off (or found some way to blog from California). Since that time, it has seemed like a descent into the abyss of bad writing. Yes, many of my posts have been somewhat fresh, but several have been old, stale acorns. Clunkers.

This is where I need to change. I need to stop worrying about running out of things to say and just be more timely about my posts. I need to live in the moment. I need to stop planning for my own ice age... the hypothetical writer's block.

If there are days when I have a boatload of things to say, I may give you multiple posts. Other days, it may wind up being just a single entry. I may even miss a day here and there. Well, that last one may not be as big a problem. When have I had nothing to say? Heh.

All I know is that I need to be truer to myself as a writer. I need to allow myself to just write as I feel the urge. Instead of hording my words, I need to let them flow. That's one of the things I admire about Karl. He writes. It's more about the craft than some personal goal for him. I need to find my inner Karl. No, I'm not trying to thief his methods or his style. I just want to redevelop the passion that I once held so dear when it came to this site.

But would you all still be willing to read if I give you several posts in a given day? What if I miss one? Will you still come back?

If I've alienated any of you with my bad blogging practices of late, I truly and wholeheartedly apologize. But please give me another chance to make things right.

Oh that's what dreams are made of...

First off, happy Blog Appreciation Day! If you want to check out the photos I made for others as well as the ones that were taken for me, check out the Flickr album I dedicated to the cause. I really loved doing this and can't wait til next year to do it again. I want to officially thank Neil for coming up with it.

Oh hey, SJ created a Blog Appreciation Day user pool. Cool! Now we can all share!

And now for the meat of the post...

Talk about your childhood flashbacks. I was checking out Karl's site yesterday and he posted about being a child and taking advantage of his first girl-given set of digits by calling her early one Saturday morning.

No, I was not reminded about calling a girl. I usually just went to their house, but at a more human hour. I was not a phone sort of person then and I still hate them with a passion now. What sparked my memory bank was his talk about being a child who is awake really friggin' early on Saturdays.

I was the same way.

While I may have hated waking up early during the week because of the whole "time to go to school" aspect of it all, I was more than willing to dash any hope of sleeping late on Saturdays in lieu of my cartoon schedule.

I woke up at the buttcrack of dawn to make sure I didn't miss any of it. To be honest with you, I cannot even really remember what shows I watched on a regular basis. I only recall the desire -- nay, the need -- to get up early so as not to miss any of it. There is nothing more shameful or sinful than being a child who missed one of the hallowed Saturday morning animated gems, and then have your friends find out.

The kicker was that I never set an alarm clock to wake me up. I don't even think I owned an alarm clock at that age. If I needed to get up, say, for school, my parents were expected to wake me. Back then, there was no way you could possibly expect me to willingly get up for something I didn't want to do.

Saturday morning was something else altogether, though, for despite my lack of a physical alarm clock, I had the oddest internal alarm clock. And I remember him vividly. Yes, my internal alarm clock was a he. Not an "it," not a "she," but a "he."

No matter what I was dreaming about during my slumber from Friday night to Saturday morning, my internal alarm clock would show up at exactly the right time.

WoodytoystoryHe was a cartoon looking guy with a big toothy grin and wide brown eyes. Oddly enough, thinking about it now, he looked an awful lot like Woody from Toy Story. Sans the ten-gallon hat, boots, vest, badge, plaid shirt, and jeans. No, he was not naked. I was not a perverted child despite how I may be now.

Anyway, he would slide in from what amounted to stage left of my dream and he would be wearing a bad 70s/80s brown sportcoat with shirt and tie like so many other reporters or news readers of the day (don't ask me about pants as I only ever saw him above the waist) and he would have one of those ceiling-hanging microphones much like the announcers in boxing matches. And, while my dream was still happening behind him, he would look at me and say, "Kevin, it's time to wake up for cartoons!"

But his voice was so real, unlike anything else in my dream.

I've found that dream-based audio has a sort of faraway feel to it. It's muted and a bit ethereal. This voice, however, was booming and in-your-face. Almost as though it was a person speaking to me in real life to wake me up. But this was never the case because nobody else in my house was ever awake at this time of day.

Until my alarm clock awoke me, that is. My eyes would shoot open and my body would bolt upright in bed. Then I'd run downstairs in my pajamas, grab a bowl and spoon, pour some cereal and milk, and plop my ass down in front of the TV for my four-hour cartoon marathon.

It was childhood heaven and I have my dreamscaped alarm clock to thank for not allowing me to miss a second of it.

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

As Katie and I were driving to her grandparents' 60th anniversary party yesterday, I relayed a bit of a conversation that my friend, B, and I had on the way to the Bears game on Friday.

me: So B pointed over to a Camry in the other lane and asked me what I thought of them. I said I liked them and was considering one as my next car.

Katie: Wait. So you want a Camry now?

me: Well, it's under consideration.

Katie: What about your Escape?

me: I still really like the Escape. But if I decide to go for a sedan, then it would probably be a Camry. You know that.

Katie: What about a Highlander?

me: That's the car that you want, though.

Katie: So we can't both have one?

me: There can be only one.

Katie: Huh? Why?

me: Never mind.

Anyone? Anyone?

Okay, fine, I'm a geek. We all know it.

But it was a good weekend overall. Snakes on a Plane was schmaltzy, but fun; the Bears won 24-3 over the San Diego Chargeless; Katie and I saw Talladega Nights: The Ballad of RIcky Bobby with Brian and Jen on Saturday and it was much better than we were expecting; and the 60th anniversary party was a big hit. Yep, a damn fine weekend.

Latest Fun With Dead Trees review - Cast of Shadows by Kevin Guilfoile

Lady Luck, c'mon give me what I want...

Before I post this, I must make clear that I really feel bad for my friend who had this happen to her. Now that I've posted my disclaimer...

A friend of mine recently had something wonderful and, at the same time, terrible happen to her.

She was at a golf outing with her husband this past weekend. I don't know if he was actually participating in the outing or not or if they were just there. I know she wasn't playing as she's about six months pregnant. Something tells me a belly that size wouldn't agree with the motion necessary to swing a driver. Color me crazy.

Being pregnant, she was getting pretty tired and, when they thought the raffle ended, they left to go home.

Apparently the raffle was just getting started. They found out a couple days later that they had won a 30" plasma TV and a $100 gift certificate to Best Buy. Great news, right?

Wrong. You had to be present to claim your prizes.

When her husband told her this, she was almost in tears. I sat there with saucer-sized eyes as she related the story to me. Wow.

Yes, the raffle had rules and everybody knew them, so the rafflers (?) are covered. But it doesn't make it suck any less.

Everybody come together...

I had something slightly freaky happen to me last night.

I was at home waiting for Katie to come home from work when I received a phone call from a 715 area code. According to Area Decoder, that's a northern Wisconsin locale. The caller ID showed a personal name and, even though that doesn't necessarily mean it's not a spam call, I decided to answer it anyway. Usually, if it's a number I don't recognize, I won't pick it up at all. Why I did this time, I'm not sure.

The guy on the other end initially sounded calm as he said that he was making a strange request but he needed my help. He gave me his name and said he was from northern Wisconsin. So far, everything was matching the information on caller ID. Yet my internal alarm bells were sounding.

Apparently, he has a friend who lives down here on my street (he never said what the street was and I didn't offer up the name as confirmation). He's been trying to contact her for a few days, but there is no pick up and all he ever gets is an answering machine.

Then he asked if I knew the person by name. I could hear the desperation coming through in his voice and I knew his next question, should I say "yes," was whether I could stop by to check on her.

However, I didn't know the name and I told him so and that I was sorry.

Nobody on my street or any other street in this townhome association has names on their mailboxes or doors. We do not have a community directory. Unless we have run into each other and made a conscious effort to get to know one another, we really wouldn't know each other at all.

He gave me the first names of several other people that she had mentioned in conversation with him in the past. I had not heard any of them in my neighborhood either.

I realize I could've looked her up in an online phone book, but he never offered up her last name. And he never gave me her address either. I would assume that if he knew her that well, he would've had her address and could offer it up for me to check in on her.

I suggested the police and he said he didn't want to take it to that level. Then he asked, "what's the name of the hospital down there in Geneva?" This was the first direct indication that this call wasn't someone illegitimately phishing for information. So I gave him the name of the local hospital. That was about all I could do.

He then said he wanted to cross off my name from his list so he didn't accidentally call me back. I did not offer up my name, but the last name he gave was actually one for my nextdoor neighbor. I played along and said that was me. If nothing else, she would not wind up being called and I knew what number would show up on the caller ID so I wouldn't have to pick up the phone again.

I really don't know this person and don't know whether or not his request is legit. He did manage to clear up some question as to the validity of his call by confirming the city name and my neighbor's lastname. But I had no way of looking up information on her that he probably should have had anyway. And, if he truly was concerned and wanted me to check in on her, why not just give me her address or phone number or even her last name? I could do a lot more with that little bit of information that he, as her friend, should have.

Jealous ex or legitimately worried friend? How should I have interpreted that?

I guess if ever there was a reason to get to know your neighbor, this would be it. Whether to be able to check in on them or to warn them that someone has been asking about them.

In between I drink black coffee...

Throughout your high school and college years, you may have any number of part-time jobs to fill the time and give you that necessary extra cash to buy the little luxuries that you'll never be able to afford again (God bless rent-free living with your parents at that age).

I had a boatload of jobs: waiting tables, register jockey, customer service, telemarketing, slave labor, you name it.

Starbucks But one of the most interesting experiences I had was working at Starbucks Coffee.

I know many of you live and die by the caffeinated sea nymph (sorry to steal back a line I used on your site, Alissa). I was a late bloomer when it comes to coffee. I didn't discover this nectar of goodliness until my sophomore year of college when a friend took me to Gloria Jean's for my first real taste. I never became hooked, but I enjoy it once in a while. It's a great wake up call when you need it. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like a grande double-shot red eye, no room.

One summer, I decided to get a job at the world's finest purveyor and it was quite a learning experience. No, not the interview process. That was actually relatively normal despite my comment on Pauly's site.

The interesting part was the learning process when drawing espresso shots.

True coffee connoisseurs will tell you that there is, in fact, a perfect shot of espresso. People are quite picky about it: the age and temperature of the beans, the grind setting, the way the grounds are tamped in the filter, the temperature of the water, the length of time taken to pull it. Considering how much people will pay for a simple shot of espresso, I guess they have the right to be picky. So learning how to pull the perfect shot is essential to your employment at Starbucks.

And the learning process involves drawing repeated shots until the supervisor watching over you is sufficiently impressed with all the above listed features. Everything must be perfect. And no one-off shots, either. If you do it once, you must be able to do it several more times to make sure it wasn't just some fluke.

Oh, and did I mention that we are required to drink every single shot we pull to make sure it tastes right?

Yes, they start strong. Shots one and two can be rough if you're not that familiar with espresso. Three and four just slide down your throat like candy. You become a bit numb after five and six. And I truly doubt you'll have any memory of numbers seven and eight as you won't even be sitting still long enough to realize that you're drinking something. Anything after that may as well be embalming fluid. You'll be dead from caffeine overload. All the while your fellow baristas are snickering behind your back.

I really don't know how I pulled through that particular day. It was rough. No, not the imbibing of liquid crack so much as the subsequent caffeine crash. That was horrible. About 45 minutes after my final shot and my bout of floating in tightly wound circles eight inches off the ground, I hit rock bottom.

You remember when Wile E. Coyote would fall off a cliff after chasing the Road Runner? The long fall, the crash, the puff of smoke? It all happens during a caffeine crash. I swear I even remember Porky Pig waving me off with a "B-dee, b-dee, b-dee, that's all, folks!" It wasn't pretty.

I do not recommend it. If you never listen to another thing I say... er "type"... just trust me on this one.

Let me introduce to you the one and only...

Considering how much writing I've done in the last week or two in anticipation of our trip out to the left coast, you'd think I would have gotten sick of it. You'd assume that I might just give in and call it a day and just recruit a whole motley crew of guest posters to cover for me.

But I'm just me... little ol' Kevin. Who the hell would want to guest post on this rat trap?

I considered Dave. But he's just too damn cool. While it might up my net worth in the blogging world, it would severely destroy his credibility.

Perhaps Karl. But he'll likely still be in intensive care after all the women at BlogHer discover his bedpost notching intentions.

I'd feel bad if I took away from Sizzle's job search time.

SJ? Who knows if she'd even be able to with her spotty broadband connection. ;-)

How about Hilly? Nah, she's still recovering from having Karl visit for a two-week stretch. She deserves sainthood.

Chase is probably in jail for lewd and indecent public acts perpetrated at BlogHer.

Kim, Eve, Sandra, Mikey, Jacynth, etc., etc., ad infinitum? They're all either too good for this hole or have better things to do with their time. Like watching corn grow. Or paint dry.

Who could I sucker... er "nicely persuade"... to take over blogging duties here on kapgar for a day?

Is there anyone left? Hello? Is there anybody in here?

Dustin Well, I scrounged and searched and begged and pleaded. All that remained was Dustin.

And he was excited to do it.


I kid, I kid. Dustin's a great guy and one whose blog I've been frequenting for a few months now. However, since he's a Blogger user and not familiar with Typepad and, well, I'm just too lazy to teach him the ins and outs (mmm... In-N-Out Burger) of this system, I'm posting it for him. It's in the extended post. Unless you're reading this in your feed aggregator in which case you're seeing the whole thing. C'est la vie.

So, let me introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears... er... Dustin of Cotters In My Tummy! YAY!!!!

I'm off to find an In-N-Out Burger.

Continue reading "Let me introduce to you the one and only..." »

For I have seen the face of love...

In case you're wondering why in the hell I'm online at three-freakin'-o'clock in the morning, it's because we're getting our ungodly selves ready to head out to the ungodly airport for our ungodly flight scheduled at this ungodly hour.

My brain is scrambled, so this post is gonna be a simple one. I just can't take deep thought at this moment.

Actually, I can't even think up a topic, so I'm letting Johnny C. do it for me, as this was a request from him.

People like to receive gifts. It's true. Admit it.

Yes, you may argue that you like giving gifts more. That's all fine and dandy, but that doesn't take away from the fact that you do like receiving them, right?

So what's the most creative gift you've ever received (or given)? Could be a seriously well thought out gift that you didn't realize you wanted and love as a result. Or it could be some gag gift that someone gave you.

One of the coolest gifts that Katie and I ever received was a wedding shower gift from her coworkers at her old job. It is more of a gag gift, admittedly, but the level of thought and creativity that went into it are second to none.

Allow me to set the stage a bit...

Katie worked in a place where her coworkers loved stupid slapstick humor. Bad movies, bad TV, etc. And they would talk about this stuff incessantly. One of her coworkers, Mikey (not the one we know here in the Blogiverse), was the worst. Or "best," depending on how you looked at it.

One day, he went on my old Web site and downloaded one of our engagement photos and had a little Photoshop fun with it. He turned it into a hangtag that he then attached to a bottle of Courvoisier. It was then given to Katie and I at one of her showers.

Check it out...

Courvoisier   Courvoisier tag

If you're not getting the joke, you clearly are not well versed in all things Leon Phelps, A.K.A. "The Ladies Man" played by Tim Meadows. So read up.

We still have this bottle. It's proudly displayed.

Lord I'm no thief but a man can go wrong when he's busted...

If I learned anything from my commute home yesterday, it is:

  1. We are nearing the end of the month, and
  2. The Batavia (IL) Police Department is sorely behind on their ticket-dispensing quota

As I was driving up Randall Road, I noticed a cop who had pulled a vehicle over on the side of the road. No big deal. Cop is talking to him through the window; kid in the car is pissed. Yeah yeah, we've seen it all before.

However, a mere 500 feet up the road, tucked back in a side street are two other cops. I've seen this before, as well. But, when they are both together like this, they are typically turned in opposite directions because they're talking to each other. Instead, both of these cops were pointing nose out waiting to suck in some prey.

But to top it all off was yet another traffic bust only a half mile up from that.

So, to tally things up... one stretch of road less than three-quarters of a mile long, four cops, two busts.

Remind me to take the backroads home for the rest of the week, will ya?