Photography 2006

Do you see what I see...

At work yesterday, the graphic designer (GD) and I were checking out a photo collage. We were trying to figure out who from a particular group was missing and if we had any photos in our archives we could use to fill in the blanks.

We found one photo for a guy that piqued our curiosity.

Robert Murray

GD: Gah! Kevin, you have to come check this out.

Me: What?

GD: It looks like there is another person in this photo with him.

Me: Oh cool! Yeah, there's his eye and his nose.

GD: That's just creepy.

Me: I'm going to darken it and increase the contrast in Photoshop to see if that makes it any clearer.

Murraycloseup By the time I finish, another coworker has joined our examination of the photo. I'll call him B&B.

B&B: That's pretty sweet. I wonder if he's being haunted? Maybe we should send the photo to CSI.

Me: I think Cold Case might be a better fit.

GD: Look at that spot on the ghost's head. Bullet wound?

Me: Totally.

B&B: Suicide.

Me: Nah, not fun enough.

GD: And there's even a mottled spot on the main guy's collar that you can see if you look closely.

Me: I think that's a blood stain from when he murdered this other guy by shooting him in the head and then tried to wash it out.

B&B: Oooh a duel!

Me: Yeah, like Hamilton and Burr. He's a rival or something. So he snuffed him out.

B&B: We need a third person in this story line.

Me: His wife. The ghost guy was sleeping with the main guy's wife so he murdered him in a vengeful fury. Assassination all the way!

GD: And now he's haunted by his spirit forever. I wonder if any other photos of him have this ghost behind him.

Me: Damn I wish we had more photos to look at. This is so cool.

B&B: You two have way too overactive an imagination. You're actually enjoying this.

Me: Yeah, this coming from you. You're having just as much fun as we are. So can you blame us?

B&B: No, not really.

To the family of the guy in the photo... this is just us having fun. No, we do not really think your ancestor murdered someone or that his wife was screwing around on him or that he was haunted by a spirit.

Unless you have evidence to the contrary, of course.


Pieces, pieces, pieces of me...

Not quite my traditional mystery photo ID game, but still something interesting all the same.

The following photo shows (pick one)…

A. A visual representation of James Frey’s profits and future earnings potential after Oprah had her way with him and his book A Million Little Pieces.

B. A new strain of melanoma contracted by metallic surfaces.

C. The drain in our kitchen sink after two nights of making Christmas cookies.

Drainage

If you answered “A,” you would be correct.

Nah, it’s actually “C.” Yeah, we’ve spent the last two nights rolling out and baking four different types of Christmas cookies. Of course, Katie did a vast majority of the work. But I tried to help. Dunno how much help I really was, but I tried. And that’s all that truly matters, right?

Right?


I can cheat you blind...

Dispenser A little more than two months ago, new hand sanitizer dispensers were installed in each and every office at work.

The dispensers resemble spheres that are approximately seven inches in diameter (I think). The bottom half is opaque plastic while the top half is transparent plastic. Inside the sphere is a transparent plastic pouch in which the sanitizer is held. Basically, you just put your hands under the dispenser and it automatically outputs a predetermined amount of sanitizer.

At first, people were pretty weirded out by them.

For one, they tend to drip a little on the floor underneath where they're installed. The fear was that this could either result in slick spots on smooth floors or discolored carpeting.

Then, of course, there was the fact that the pouches in the sphere look like a saline breast implant. Yeah, I've watched Nip/Tuck, I know what they look like. However, people were even able to get over that.

Now, people have adapted to them. Some have even gone so far as to give them some personality by customizing them. They do this by popping off the upper dome and taping images inside them as though it were some twisted little picture frame.

At first, I thought it was pretty stupid. People were doing some odd, and incredibly unfunny, things to them.

Then I heard from someone in one department that they had put in a picture of the northern hemisphere of Earth. When I heard this, I became inspired. I had to compete and come up with something cooler.

But, being me, it had to have a little touch of, well, "me." This, of course, translates to "creepy" or otherwise "odd." Hence why I came up with...

Look into my eye...

I can't wait to hear my coworkers' responses.


Wii are the champions, my friends...

They told me I was foolish.

They laughed at me.

They mocked me.

I was #25 in a line of 24. Thirty people had come between #24 and myself but had been scared off. They were told stories of the futility of their efforts. They were convinced that their's was not the noblest of causes.

But I was not the only one to refuse to listen. Another thirty people came after me and stood in defiance of the inevitable.

When sympathetic friends and family members arrived with deliveries of food and hot beverages, they taunted me by saying that it was only for those who stood in the "real" line. I was the headmaster of the loser queue.

Even the Man in the Yellow Jacket (make all the Curious George references that you want right now) told me it was pointless. That the man in front of me was the last one with any hope whatsoever.

Then came the announcement...

"All of you must clean up all your garbage and break down all tents, chairs, and other apparatus you have with you. It cannot remain on the sidewalk. It must be in your cars and you will have to stand in line for the next hour. Anyone who leaves the line will not be allowed back in regardless of the reason why. You have 10 minutes to pack it in!"

We raced to our vehicles to put away our equipment and then continued to stand shivering in the cold for what turned out to be an additional hour and a half.

The Man in the Yellow Jacket gave us no hope of ever achieving our goal. We were still just second-rate citizens.

Then it happened...

Four people jumped out of line ahead of me. Suddenly there was a glint of hope. Were they actually in line waiting or were they just friends of people officially waiting in line? Nobody knew for sure. They weren't telling. The Man in the Yellow Jacket wasn't changing his tune either.

The doors opened and we began to slowly file in to our own personal Mecca in pairs. Only two at a time like animals herded in Noah's ark. It was an attempt to control the forecasted madness. It was an arduous process. We all still stood shivering in line wishing we could just get a taste of the heat. But we stood strong nonetheless.

As the man ahead of me approached the entryway, the Man in the Yellow Jacket flashed the final ticket. It read a machine-stamped "24." He made sure I could see it and then gave me a pathetic head shake. Then he handed the ticket to the guy ahead of me.

I looked the Man in the Yellow Jacket in the eyes. Defiantly I proclaimed, "but you have another in your pocket."

"Do I?"

"You do."

He stared at me through squinted eyes as though judging just how much I believed my own ridiculous statement. Then he pulled his hand out of his pocket with another ticket. Like Charlie, I beamed knowing I held what amounted to a modern-day admission pass to Willie Wonka's vaunted chocolate factory. The Man in the Yellow Jacket gave me a proud smirk knowing the hassling I had endured for the previous three-and-a-half hours. He was impressed by my tenacity, my unwillingness to budge.

And I wasn't even the last. The man behind me, also suffering from the snipes of those ahead of us, wound up a winner. He was the real #24. I was #23. I was Jordan. Sandberg. Hester.

My prize?

Wii are the champions

Sooooo worth the wait. Got Excite Truck in addition to the Wii Sports that came bundled with the system and ordered an extra controller that should be in sometime today or tomorrow. I think our next purchase will likely be Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz as Katie said it sounds like fun. If it's a game she can get behind, then we'll get it.

A big "thank you" to Katie for putting up with my childish geekiness the last several weeks and also waiting in line with me the last hour. And another big "thank you" to my parents who decided to buy this for me as my birthday present. When they couldn't find it themselves, they just gave me the cash, instead, to buy it on my own.


Thy leaves are so unchanging...

Well, let's just say if these "leaves" do change, there's something very wrong happening in my townhouse because this is a fake tree.

As stated over on Flickr, it's taken us two weeks, but the damn thing is finally done! YAY!!!! Now we can stuff all the storage containers back in the attic... only to have to take them back down in a couple more weeks.

*uncontrollable sobbing ensues*

Well, enjoy it anyway...

Christmas Tree

In case you're interested, about halfway up the picture, to the left of the white bear in the red vest and just above the small green knitted wreath is our Bananas For You ornament. Right smack dab in the center of the tree where it belongs!

Oh, and a big ol' "thank you" to Dustin who bought me Firefly: The Complete Series on DVD for my birthday. I am sooooo looking forward to watching the rest of this series. And, yes, I do know and love the theme song very much. Damn fine one. Been a part-time earworm for some months now.


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!


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

While, technically, our first snow of the season came well over a month ago, we got our first real "snowstorm" the night before last. And it made my commute to work yesterday absolute hell.

I find it funny because I woke up yesterday morning and looked outside at 5:15 a.m. expecting several inches. What I saw only really amounted to about an inch. And nothing else was coming down. As per typical, our weathercasters misjudged it. So I showered, got dressed, and went downstairs to plant my lazy butt in front of the iMac to blog and check e-mail. I even told Kim we only got an inch.

At about 7:50, I got my stuff together to go to work. When I opened the garage, I saw about five inches with more rapidly pouring down.

And, of course, our association had yet to plow.

So I broke out a shovel and began to dig my way out of our driveway.

45 minutes later, I was on the road.

By 9:00 a.m., I finally made it to work, the roads were that bad. My 45-minute commute took an hour and a half. At a few instances during the drive, I questioned whether or not I'd even make it to work. Hell, I even called a coworker to warn him I may not be in.

Here's how bad it was, photographically. This first shot was taken on Thursday afternoon from a building near where I work.

Before the snow

This second one was taken from nearly the same vantage point the next day.

After the snow

Some random shots from my commute and a walk I took during my lunch hour are in the extended post.

Continue reading "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow..." »


Don't fence me in...

It's been somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 since that fateful night. The night my brother and I attempted to, and failed miserably at, construct a gingerbread house.

It was an horrific experience. One that, to this day, makes FHA assessors cringe. The walls never stood upright, the roof cracked and collapsed, the candies ran amok.

Simply put, it was not pretty.

So imagine my horror when my mother and father gave Katie and I a Gingerbread House Kit when they came over for Thanksgiving. The memories came flooding back. I tried to make them return it, but they refused. And, despite my better judgment, Katie and I decided to break it open earlier today while decorating for Christmas.

And now, our photographic retrospective...

The Gingerbread House Kit, pre-opening
Do note the sledgehammer at the ready

The Gingerbread House, after opening
Everything is opened and ready to go.

Continue reading "Don't fence me in..." »


Until I touch the midnight sun...

It's another snippet kinda day for me.

Where the Hell in Google Earth is...
It suddenly dawned on me that I never revealed the answers for the latest installment of Where the Hell in Google Earth is? Maybe I was holding out hope that more people would guess and those final few would be figured out. Anyway, here are the answers...

  1. Universal Studios, California, USA - good call, Dave.
  2. Paramount King's Island, Ohio, USA
  3. Six Flags - Great America, Illinois, USA - good rationale, Kilax, wrong picture, though.
  4. Epcot Center, Florida, USA - good call, Dave.
  5. Hershey Park, Pennsylvania, USA - I'm kinda shocked Dave didn't get this one.
  6. Sea World - San Diego, California, USA - the prize goes to SJ.
  7. Disneyland Resort Paris, France - good call, Dave.

Photo ops
This was pretty cool. Late last week, I received an out-of-the-blue e-mail from a local park district official saying that she was searching through online photo repositories when she found mine. She really dug my photos and my blog and asked if I would be interested in teaching a class on personal Web site design and basic photography.

Um... heck yeah! Sign me up.

Bear in mind that nothing is set in stone. She was just throwing around ideas for a spring course booklet and, when we talk, it may turn out that nothing will come of this. But one can hope all the same.

I don't need Cialis, really
Have any of you Gmail users out there been receiving an inordinate amount of spam in the last week? By "inordinate" I mean "a helluva lot more than usual." Just over the course of this past weekend, I tallied 175 spam messages of which I'd say 90% have been about Cialis. Already today I've received 30+ spams. Thankfully, they seem to have moved beyond the Cialis push.

Dear God, does it ever end? I pray for a day when all the governments of the world give us "shoot on sight" freedom regarding known spammers. Again, one can hope.

Go Bears!
That's all I want to say. It's their first Monday Night Football game in some time, so I wish them well as they go to pound the everloving crap out of Arizona.


Latest Fun With Dead Trees reviews - Claire returns with reviews of Setting Your Genius Free: How to Discover Your Spirit and Calling by Dick Richards, Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere by Michael Kimmelman, and Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding & Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier.


You can take a picture of something you've seen...

I'm just in a photography kind of mood lately. So here are some teaser photos from three new photo sets I have up on Flickr. In case you haven't already been to my flickr site and seen them, you can click through to view the rest of the photos in each set using the link in the captions.

I hope you enjoy...

sunset weather vane
A trip to Kuiper's Farm in Maple Park, IL, that Katie and I took with my brother and his fiancee on October 8.

Neighbor's House 2
Halloween shots for the season. Check back on this one as it may be updated as the month progresses. These few were taken on the way to work on October 12.

campus snowflurry
And the start of the winter season apparently occurred in upper Illinois this year less than a month after fall began. We had our first snow on Thursday, October 12. Freaky. This one may also be updated with more snow shots as the season goes on.


Well, it's a free for all...

After yesterday's mental and emotional drain, I think today will be a snippet post... yep, a little fun for everyone!

911 is a joke in yo' town . . .
Walking across campus today, I observed a campus security officer getting out of her golfcart (nice!) and pushing one of the emergency alert buttons. Now I realize she was just testing it to make sure all was good, but when you see a cop pushing an alarm button, doesn't it unnerve you a bit?

I'm strong to the finish . . .
Can somebody please tell me when the damn spinach recall/ban is going to end? I miss my spinach pizzas and spinach on Subway sandwiches and spinach salads.

I'm truly suffering here, people!

Film processing . . .
I know I'm a couple weeks late on the stormwatch photos, but they are in the process of being, well, processed. And, thanks to Dariush for the head's up on Wal-Mart's great $5.88 prints/CD deal. Actually, when I took them in there (along with a third roll of shots from a trip to Kuiper's Farm in Maple Park, IL, this past weekend), I discovered that if I only have a CD made and no prints, it only costs $1.98 per roll. That's pretty flippin' awesome.

Chinese Democracy?
Listening to the radio on the way to work this morning, they announced that tickets will be going on sale this Saturday for the Guns 'n' Roses Chinese Democracy world tour. They will be arriving on the "Nightrain" in Rosemont, IL, on November 27.

My first issue, clearly, is that only one of the original members of Guns 'n' Roses is in this band and that would be Axl. They also have Dizzy Reed from the Use Your Illusion era of the band now, too, but he doesn't count. He was just a keyboardist. Seriously. Check out this lineup... W. Axl Rose on vocals, Richard Fortus and Robin Finck on guitar, Tommy Stinson on bass, Bryan Mantia on drums, and Dizzy Reed on keyboards. Actually, G'n'R have two keyboardists, having retained the services of Chris Pitman in addition to Reed. The only person in the bunch I've heard of is Stinson because I worship The Replacements. Otherwise, Fortus and Finck are known for giving the "bluesy chops" to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful." Hmmm...

My second issue is that they still haven't released the damn album. It's more than a decade in the making and it's release date has been pushed away more times than Mark Foley in the YMCA of Greater D.C. Do they have a drop date for the album yet? The G'n'R site doesn't even mention the album.

My final issue is that this is Axl. How many tours has he personally sabotaged? How many shows have been canceled in the past due to his antics and volatile personality?

Okay, I'm not buying into it. It might be cool, but that's if the concert defies the odds and actually goes as planned.

Meme/list/whatever . . .
I have a meme, or is it a "list," in the extended post for anyone interested.

Continue reading "Well, it's a free for all..." »


Darkness falls across the land...

And yesterday started out so beautiful. A cool start to the fall. Bright and shiny.

And then it all went to hell.

About a half hour before work was to end, I got a call from my father-in-law that the western edge of the suburb where I work all the way north to where Katie works was under a tornado warning.

Of course, being me, I left work instead of seeking cover. It was still decent enough out so I hightailed it to my truck and got my cameras ready.

Within about five minutes, everything around me was covered in swirling grey clouds. Occasionally, I experience a fast-moving scud cloud of pure white whipping in front of the more ominous clouds above. By the time I got home, the rain was coming down in sheets and tornado sirens were blaring everywhere. Katie was hearing sirens up by her and was also getting hail during her ride home.

We both made it home okay. Obviously.

But, damn if it didn't make for great photo ops. Unfortunately, my digital camera only took one good shot. The rest, I hope, are on my Minolta. I'll have to wait and have those processed to see how they turned out.

For now, though, check out how Batavia and Geneva, IL, looked at about 5:00 p.m. last night...

Storm clouds
Click for a larger view.


But everybody's watchin' TV...

To fulfill a challenge thrown out there by Ninja Poodles, I present you with the contents of my TiVo Now Playing list as it stands on Thursday, September 21, 2006, at 7:00 a.m. (or thereabouts).

Here is her description (yeah, Wife Swap is her shame, not mine)...

Got TiVo?  Or any other DVR? Go, right now, pull up your "Now Playing" screen, and snap a photo of whatever is at the very top. No cheating, just whatever is the top page of your recorded (or currently recording) shows.   Come on, show your shame.  I did--"WIFE SWAP," people!!

Post the result on your site, and leave a link in the comments here, OR send it to me in an email, at ninjapoodles@gmail.com. If we get a decent number of responses, I've started a flickr group (where you can either add your dares yourself, or, if you don't have a flickr account, send them to me and I'll add them), and perhaps the "dare" will become a regular feature, and maybe eventually evolve beyond the "show and tell" phase. 

Yes, we do have a second TiVo in our bedroom that has some interesting stuff on it. But Katie is asleep and I wasn't going to wake her up for this. Sorry.

Here you go...

TiVo

So we have last night's Tonight Show because we want to see the interview with The Office's Steve Carell, Kidnapped, Justice (one of our current addictions), Miami Ink (I love this show), Ebert & Roeper (the podcast wasn't doing it for me), three episodes of Psych (one of the best shows on TV right now, IMHO), nine episodes from last season of The Office (even though we now own the season on DVD), and the car dealership/Twix episode of Seinfeld.

What's on your TiVo?

Oh, and don't worry, I have not forgotten... the fourth and final lyrical challenge will go live later today. Promise!


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
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..." »


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


We are the Bears Shufflin' Crew...

Hey, I finally had a relatively decent eBay experience buying a jersey.

A couple weeks ago, I decided on a jersey I wanted to represent my favorite football team on Earth... the Chicago Bears. And that representative jersey would be Mike Singletary. "Samurai Mike" is da man and, shockingly, despite the love for him that Chicagoans have, you don't see that many people donning the famed #50. So I got one from some guy in South Korea, which, I'm sure, means it was mass produced in a sweatshop. But, c'est la vie.

A week ago, I got the jersey in the mail. Well, it should have been the jersey. Instead, I got an Oakland Raiders jersey for Otis Sistrunk. Wha??? I e-mailed the seller and told him of the mistake. Then, since the package actually contained the packing slip for the person who really ordered the Sistrunk jersey, I tracked her down and gave her a call.

The eBay seller told me that he had, in fact, made a mistake and would send me out a new one. In the meantime, the actual buyer of this jersey called me and told me she would like it if I sent it to her as it was intended as a gift for her husband for his birthday yesterday. So, this past Tuesday, I did just that. Although we both figured she would probably receive my jersey, she had not gotten it yet to know for sure.

On Wednesday, she called to confirm that she did get my jersey in the mail. She also said she'd put it in the mail to me on Thursday. That day, I also got an e-mail from the seller in South Korea telling me to keep the jersey he had mistakenly sent me as it would cost him too much to pay shipping to have me send it back.

And, on Thursday, I got the replacement jersey from the seller in South Korea (much quicker about this shipment than the original; he must really want a positive review on eBay).

So, in summation, I'm receiving two Mike Singletary jerseys for the price of one. How sweet is that? This almost makes up for the Mark Grace debacle last year.

Here is Mike Singletary back in the day...

Singletary

And here I am doing my level best to look like Samurai Mike. However, I really look more constipated than anything...

Kapgar Singletary

But, hey, it's a damn nice jersey!


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.


Tell me darlin', can you picture this...

Just when I thought I had actually discovered the end of the Internets, or at least the end of the useful Internets, SJ sends me this little doozy. It is fd's Flickr Toys.

The site allows you to apply different cool effects such as borders, speech bubbles, templates, etc. to existing photos. And, as the name would imply, it plays quite nicely with Flickr. However, despite being able to directly upload the results of my fd fun to my Flickr site, I really don't want to give them my username and password. I'll upload manually.

Oh the hours of joy that can be had here.

Here are a couple of the images that SJ made with my photos (my lawyer will be contacting you regarding the copyright infringments... heh) to introduce me to the site...

Frame Within a Frame Within a Stamp
This would be my frame within a frame now within a stamp out on Hawk Hill.

Golden Gate Bridge stampified
Here we have a Golden Gate Bridge shot stampified.

Continue reading "Tell me darlin', can you picture this..." »


Mr. Jones and me, we're gonna be big stars...

God it's been a long time since I've visited the Jones Soda Web site.

In all fairness, it's not as though I was ever much of a frequent visitor, but it is a fun site. They have all kinds of kitschy little interactive bits and pieces such as a fortune cookie reader, customizable music player, full nutritional content labels for every single one of their hundreds of drinks, magnetic words game, etc.

LauralabelI first discovered the site a couple years ago when I was at a Panera Bread and picked up my first Jones Soda and saw the cool photo on the label. Turns out that they ran a contest with Panera Bread where photos taken by PB employees were selected to appear on the labels.

I thought it was pretty cool and checked out the site to find out more information about the promotion.

Soon after, I discovered that an old college friend of mine, Laura, was one who had her photo on a label. It's the label at right, save for the fact that mine came on a bottle of root beer, not diet black cherry soda.

Actually, after conducting a search on Jones' photo gallery just now, it turns out she has more than a dozen photos posted in all. And they're all really nice. I'm not sure, however, how many actually made the cut for labels. I know of two offhand.

I was thinking how cool a thing this would be to try out. But I want some input from all of you.

You've seen the many photos that I've posted here on the site and over on my Flickr site. So, if you have a moment, check them out again and let me know in the comments or via e-mail which ones you think I should submit. It doesn't appear that there is a limit to the number I can upload to the gallery.

Oh yeah, and they make some pretty killer drinks, too.


It's Independence Day this time...

It was definitely a good Independence Day. Well, for the most part, anyway.

Katie had to work from 9-5 at her job, which sucked. However, being a holiday, she gets time and a half, which doesn't suck.

Instead of sitting at home on my duff, my dad came over and we went to a relatively new disc golf course in St. Charles that I've been wanting to try for some time. However, I really had no idea where it was and the online map provided by the St. Charles Park District really blew chunks in terms of accuracy. A half hour after starting our search, we found it.

All I can say about this course is WOW. It's nine holes of pure hell. Instead of just being a straightforward disc golf course, this one involved a real physical workout. You were hiking up and down hills and driving both up and down ravines. In many cases, your disc might get stuck halfway up a ravine and you have to climb to get it. And these are not graceful slopes, either. One of them was a fairly severe 55-60 degree slope and it had rained the day before making it quite slippery. None of the holes exceeded a par 3 and all were really short distance, but the difficulty was second to none.

We loved it! It was a really nice, new take on disc golfing. I'm not expecting my brother to actually read this post so, hopefully, the next time we all go out to play, the difficulty of the course will horrify my brother. And I'll be there with my camera waiting to snap shots of his expressions. May have to do some audio as well.

We left the course drenched in sweat and covered in dirt. Instead of going out for lunch, we just went back to my place. I jumped in the shower while dad grabbed some food and drink. Then we settled down in the living room to watch Kelly's Heroes. Nothing like father and son enjoying some quality time with Clint Eastwood.

He left shortly after that and then Katie came home. She changed and we jumped in the truck to head over to Fox Valley Mall in Aurora for the city's fireworks display. Actually, we first visited Hooters for dinner. Katie is not one to quibble over scantily-clad waitresses when the wings are as good as they are at the Hoot. Me? I'm just not gonna quibble, period.

I pointed out to Katie the irony that I was wearing a Bad Monkey shirt (what do you do when your monkey's been bad?) and a Horny Toad hat in a Hooters restaurant. I swear the overt sexual connotation was completely unintentional.

After our wings and the pitcher of Blue Moon, we decided to check out what few stores were open as we waited for dusk to arrive. Then we set up shop in the bed of the truck. Back in the day, Katie and I used to have picnics in the bed. However, once I got the hardtop tanneau cover on it, those picnics ended. It's a bit awkward trying to sit up in the bed when there's a hardshell lid hanging right over you.

But for fireworks, it was ideal. We spread out some blankets and laid back in the bed with the lid up as far as it would raise.

And what did we do? We slept. Intermittently. The beer was hitting us as was the long day we'd had so far. If someone were to walk past us, they'd have found at least one of us sleeping at any given time. Here's the photographic evidence...

Napping

Should I worry that Katie's hand is covering the monkey on my shirt? Would that constitute "touching my monkey" as Dieter repeatedly attempted to con people into doing? Hmm... And, hey, that's twice recently that I've been photographed shilling Dave's shirts. What the hell?!?!

We did wake up in time for the fireworks, though. And I'm glad we did. It was an awe-inspiring half hour of skybound explosive glory. Our parking spot had a nice view, but wasn't quite close enough to allow for great photos. But I took some anyway. This is probably the best of the bunch...

Boom goes the dynamite

How'd you all spend your holiday? Clearly more a question for my U.S. readers, but anyone is free to chime in.


Latest Fun With Dead Trees review - Dangerous Affairs by Kelle Z. Riley


Hot shoe burnin' down the avenue...

I'm really behind on some of the photographic retrospectives I've been meaning to post about. They've all been loaded to my computer, but I tend to slack about uploading to Flickr. Oh well. They're uploaded now, so I can post them. I hope you all don't mind a couple photo posts this week.

The first one is from the Swedish Days festival in Geneva that happened on the weekend of June 23-25. We went down there with Brian and Jen on Friday and had us a good ol' time. What with two local wineries having a lot of tastings going on and all of us being of age... how can you not have fun?

Katie and I
Even though this photo of Katie and I is dark, I still like it. Some of you may recognize the shirt.

Hot dogs
Thankfully, not a Chicago-style dog.

Continue reading "Hot shoe burnin' down the avenue..." »


Lady in red...

Just one quick thing for you today... something I haven't done in a while and I miss terribly.

... my first Mystery Photo Contest in months!

Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure several of you weren't even readers of kapgar the last time I did one of these.

So tell me, what is this?

Mystery Photo

Okay, have a good rest of your weekend.

I told you it was a quickie. Please don't feel used and disregarded. I'll be back for lengthier and more meaningful fun tomorrow.

Promise.


I'm talkin' about devil crabs...

Sorry, no meme today. Taking a Saturday off so I can catch up on some fun posts after this week's current events charge into the Blogosphere.

I pray I'm not the only one out there who watches My Name is Earl. It's a great show and one of the few sitcoms that NBC is still showing. It's also been renewed for next season, so either I'm not the only one who watches it or I hold far more influence over NBC execs than I previously anticipated.

Yeah, okay. Anyway, I was driving to Panera for lunch yesterday when I looked in front of me and suddenly exclaimed, "Holy crap! Crabman's flinging rubberbands at me! And he's enormous!"

The Mobile Crabman

Alas, it was merely an old OfficeMax truck with their spokesperson of a couple years past, Eddie Steeples, who now costars as Darnell "Crabman" Turner on My Name is Earl along with Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee.

But what makes this vehicular encounter even funnier is that, down in the bottom left of the truck's backdoor, someone finger scrawled in the grime, "Hey Crabman". It's not the easiest thing to see, so I blew it up a bit. Hope it helps.

Heycrabman_1

I used to love those old OfficeMax commercials. Steeples made me laugh to no end. Before Earl started, I always wondered what happened to those commercials, then I found out... their star moved on to bigger and better things.

I really wish they'd re-air those commercials. Or maybe make fun of them in an episode of Earl. That would be a great nod to his past.


Don't make me cry for a piece of the pie...

DaveCago 2006 was a rousing success!

While one person (Chanakin) was unable to attend at the last minute, we had two late additions to our motley crew (Steve and Susan).

The entire attendee list includes Ariana, Dave, Gary, Jenny, Kelly, RW and his wife, Steve, Susan, Katie, Brian, Jen, and I.

Katie, Brian, Jen, and I headed downtown after running a couple errands and grabbing some lunch. Then we did a bit of shopping in the area and hit a great T-shirt shop called T-shirt Deli (recommended by Jenny) where we each got a shirt for Brian and Jen's wedding next June in Vegas. I also picked up a vintage remake (a bit oxymoronic, eh?) of a Donkey Kong shirt. Very nice. I wore it that day. Dave met up with us after we finished with our T shirt order.

Piecepizza The evening officially started at Piece and people slowly trickled in over the course of a couple hours. It got to the point that we had to steal a couple extra tables to add to the end of our already long table. The crew at Piece put up a bit of a stink about it as they had a reservation for a birthday party at those tables for a set time. However, these people didn't show up for their party until well over an hour later. Pissed us off considering how snotty they were being about it.

But, the pizza at Piece was incredible! Jenny did a great job picking out the place. I would've helped more, but, to be honest, I've never been to Wicker Park/Bucktown and had no idea what was there. But Jenny did great!

Afterwards, we headed out to a tequila bar called Salud. Unfortunately, Katie, Brian, Jen, and I had to head out shortly after we arrived at Salud. But, from the sound of things, they had a good time with multiple mojitos.

But we all had a lot of fun while we were together and I hope to meet up with a bunch of them again in the near future.

Oh, and I do have some photos...

Jenny, Ariana, and Kelly
Jenny, Ariana, and Kelly.

Katie and I
Katie, her tongue, and I.

Continue reading " Don't make me cry for a piece of the pie..." »


You've been thunderstruck...

Can anyone explain to me why it is when you're sitting inside, alcohol has a much more decisive effect on you than when you're sitting outside in the heat?

The other night, I had three beers at a bar, and it hit me pretty nicely. Yesterday, however, I had three beers and three mixed drinks at a cookout at my friend's house and felt nothing. Of course, it was 90-something degrees out at 99% humidity and I could barely feel my skin let alone the alcohol attempting to soak into my bloodstream.

The weather was absolutely horrendous yesterday. Those temperatures are no exaggeration whatsoever. Then, in a matter of 10 minutes, it dropped about 15 degrees when the clouds finally added that final degree of humidity necessary and opened up to pour out cats and dogs. Possibly literally in some areas.

Yes, 10 minutes was all the time that elapsed between blue and cloudy skies and an impenetrable grey blanket saturated with rain.

But the storm certainly made for a nice photo op.

Clouds roll in

Lightning

Continue reading "You've been thunderstruck..." »


Pictures of the friends you used to know...

As much as I like digital photography and the convenience factor of being able to carry around our little Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P92 point and shoot, there's just something about using my good, old fashioned Minolta Maxxum 400si 35mm SLR camera that still appeals to me.

And it's been quite some time since I've used it. The poor boy has been sitting on the shelf in our closet since the summer of 2003 when I last used it on our cruise.

A couple weeks ago, I broke the 400si out of the bag, popped in a fresh battery and a roll of hi-res film, and started snapping.

Can I tell you how good it felt to use that monster again? For a camera that's nearing 15 years old, it still runs like it's fresh out of the box. I was alternating between both the 35-70mm lens and the 70-210 mm lens and just hoping for the best. I have no formal photographic training and, taking that into consideration, digital photography really is the best option for me as I can delete what doesn't turn out. But damn if that big ol' SLR camera body doesn't feel good in my hands. It just fits.

I really need a digital SLR. But that's a purchase planned for down the road a bit.

Here are some of the resulting shots.

James Street
The corner of James and 3rd Streets in downtown Geneva, IL.

The clouds
Driving down a street near our house in Geneva.

In an attempt to save my homepage from being too long vertically, I've put some more photos in an extended post...

Continue reading "Pictures of the friends you used to know..." »


A little bit is better than nada...

I may be spending the majority of this week doing nothing but Lost Blogging, but I still miss my regular posting. I just haven't had the time to do it each and every day this week. I thought taking the week off would allow me more time to blog. Well, it really hasn't. Yes, I've spent an inordinate amount of time at the keyboard (an amount Katie is not happy with), but I still feel like there is so much more I need to do here. It's insane. As much as I love doing this, I can't wait for this week to be over and I can return to my regular schedule.

But I do have another non-Lost Blog post for you all to read. It regards the Christopher Moore book signing I attended this past Sunday.

Since I had my place in line secured as well as my new copies of his book, I waited a bit to go in. I wanted to spend some time with Katie since I had to open the gym that morning and would soon be going in for the signing without her (she didn't want to go).

I finally left at about 12:45 p.m. and arrived at the bookstore at 1:30. It was mayhem. First, it was a sunshiny weekend in Naperville, so people were everywhere and parking was practically nonexistent. I should've known better after living there as long as I did.

The bookstore itself seemed sedate from the outside. Only a few people waiting in line to buy their books. So I went inside rather happy. Until I realized that the lack of people up front was because they were all already in back listening to him. He had been out amongst them all for nearly a half hour. It was his "informal" portion of the day.

Already finding a good place to stand and listen was shot.

I finally found a spot to stand and this was the view I had.

Christopher Moore at Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, 2006

Not bad, but it could've been better. At least I caught a video of his entrance. A little too large to post here without killing my bandwidth allowances for the month. Oh, and am I the only one who thinks he bears a passing resemblance to George Mason (Xander Berkeley) on the early seasons of 24?

He spoke to us for quite a while and was hilarious. Most of his talk was about the research he put into defining the "Beta Male" in society. Yes, we all know about the "Alpha Male," but how much do we know about the "Beta Male." Apparently, not enough. He found nothing surfing the Web, so he defined it himself. This is important because this concept is the focus of his new book, A Dirty Job... a book I still have yet to read since I only purchased it that day. So I was a bit lost, but still able to laugh all the same.

Then came book signing time.

Christopher Moore signing

I was #16 in line and that was incredible considering there were over 200 people in attendance. I had two books with me in addition to my two copies of A Dirty Job that I purchased. I do own two more of his books, but I didn't want to be hogging his time having him sign a half dozen books. So I opted out of the two new books I received for Christmas (The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story) and had him sign my out-of-print copies of Lamb and The Stupidest Angel. I think he appreciated seeing the old covers of both books. I just wish I had an old hardcover copy of Lamb like the guy who was two ahead of me in line. Very cool cover on that one. C'est la vie.

Well, here's the inscription on my copy of Lamb...

Lamb

A little blurry, sorry. But it works and I'm too lazy to take a new photo.

And here's one of the copies of A Dirty Job I had signed.

Belinda's book

Yes, Belinda from Ninja Poodles, this would be your copy. I had it inscribed to "Belinda from Arkansas" just like you wanted. Moore laughed when I explained why you wanted it inscribed this way and agreed that there's no way he's coming to a signing in Arkansas simply because you are his only reader there. He also jokingly implied that literacy is a marginal requirement for living in Arkansas.

You're supposed to laugh at that last comment.

So, how should I get this to you in semi-decent shape? E-mail me. You know the new address.

Oh, and for any fans of Moore, the next book he's working on is the sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends. That announcement was met with great applause.


Oh, oh, oh, oh, sweet child o' mine...

Here's one I'll bet many of you never thought you'd see...

Kevin and Sean

Okay, no. That's not my kid as the photo and the title may imply... nor is it Katie's by some other father... and we did not go on a childnapping spree at the local NICU... or whatever other twisted thought you may be harboring right now.

Say hello to Sean. He's the newborn son of our friends, Jen and Brian. He was born at some ridiculous hour like 5:30 in the morning or some such on April Fool's Day. Kid must've been thinking, "Hey mom! Bet you thought I was gonna stay up in here until that April 12th date we originally discussed. APRIL FOOL'S!!! And I'm wakin' you up reeeaallll early! HA!"

But, seriously, he's a cute kid and he seems to dig me in that he's one of the first babies to not immediately start crying in my presence. I must have that effect. Oh well.

This is also the first baby I ever remember holding. I may have held my brother when he was born. But I was only three years old at the time; you can't really expect me to actually remember that, can you?

Here's a picture of Sean and his real dad, Brian.

Brian and Sean


And many mo-o-o-o-o-re...

Now that it's all over and I've got the photos uploaded and caption at Flickr, I can finally talk about what happened this past weekend.

Although the actual event does not occur for another month and a half, we held a surprise 60th birthday party for my Mom on Saturday night at Traverso's, an Italian restaurant in Naperville. It was a lot of fun and we got a lot of pictures to show for it all.

Traverso's
The scene of the crime... Traverso's Italian restaurant in Naperville. Both my brother and I worked there one summer.

My Mom's seat
My dad saved all these things from his 60th birthday party last year for my mom to wear this year.

Mom walks in
The trap is sprung. My Mom's on the left and that's her friend, Lynda, on the right.

The attire
And wear all that stuff she did. All night long.

The floating heads
Three of the co-conspirators. I was manning the camera and my Dad was working the crowd.

Mom and Dad
My Mom and Dad.

The speech
Lynda delivering the first toast while my Mom hides her face. Brian, Jen, Katie, and I delivered a toast/roast as well, but I don't have those photos. I hope someone does.

Blowing out the candles
Thankfully for her, we didn't make her blow out 60 candles.

The aftermath
It was quite a good cake. No leftovers. My Dad was a bit upset.

The teeth
And who to blame?

Opening our gift
Mom opening the gift from Katie, Brian, Jen, and I.

The gift
It was a charm bracelet that Katie had custom made with the birthstones of all four of us (and, as she likes to point out, room for charms of the grandkids, when they happen).

The hug
My Mom's reaction. Yes, she did cry.

Lemon Drops
One final photo of how the four of us spent our evening while setting up. God bless lemon drops.

It was a fun night. Nearly 35 people showed up and we took up nearly the entire event room at Traverso's. The bill? Yeah, I think my Dad would prefer I not talk about it. Quite a few more photos are available for your perusal on Flickr.


It was a graveyard smash...

I have always been fascinated with graveyards. In fact, they have never, that I know of, been a source of fright for me. I live for the serenity, the beauty, the photography. I even like visiting them at night.

I think my brother knows of my love for cemeteries and, therefore, has been trying for years to freak me out regarding them. This has led to him suggesting a few times over the years that we visit so-called "haunted" cemeteries in the area.

The concept of a haunted cemetery amuses me a bit. While I believe in spirits and ghosts, I'm not sure I actually believe that there is such a thing as a haunted cemetery. I mean, why haunt a place that most people fear visiting anyway? Don't ghosts want to make their presence known? Isn't the primary theory behind hauntings that a ghost has unfinished business on Earth? Well, if they have unfinished business, I somehow doubt that it's getting done hanging out in a cemetery (unless they were gravediggers when they were alive).

However, haunted cemeteries make for great stories and some that I'm more than willing to share with friends and family. So, of course, I've been up for going along on my brother's jaunts through Chicago haunting lore to see if I could come up with a couple stories of my own that I could share.

Thus far, we have visited Benedictine University's cemetery once (supposedly, some blue orb will appear in the cemetery) and Bachelor's Grove Cemetery twice. Bachelor's Grove is considered one of the top 10 most haunted cemeteries in the U.S. although I don't know who develops the criteria for rating them.

The results? Decidedly negative. Not "negative" in an evil way; more a "nothing happened" sort of negative.

But we did get some pretty cool photos from our (Katie, Brian, Jen, and me) most recent trip to Bachelor's Grove a couple weekends ago...

The Gate
The gate to Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

Grave 1
I think the freakiest thing about the cemetery is the fact that almost every tree is barkless. Why? I don't get that. Am I wrong for thinking it's weird?

Grave 3
Some of the photos are a bit blurry, but that's due to the sheer lack of lighting. It does add to the effect, though. And this headstone was just too beautiful to not shoot.

A fallen branch
Not entirely barkless, but toppled. The first time at Bachelor's Grove, we encountered a ton of overgrowth and damaged trees. It seems the Parks Department must've cleaned up quite a bit because the ground were pretty wide open save for the occasional fallen limb like this one.

Grave 5
Okay, I take that back, the freakiest thing about the visit was this yarn doll. Creepy. And it would practically glow while everything else was nearly pitch black.

Litter
Gotta love the litter. Sad, but eerie as well. Makes you start to wonder what was going on here.

Grave 7
Jen examining another naked and toppled tree that actually knocked over a really large headstone.

Grave 7.2
A close up of the toppled headstone.

I really should start scanning some of my old day-time cemetery photos that I've taken over the years and maybe try to get out some more with my camera. There was a time when I was taking cemetery photos on a very regular basis. Of course, that could also have to do with the fact that my master's thesis was about cemeteries.


It's not easy being green...

Yes it is. Or, at least, this past Friday, it was pretty damn easy.

Katie and I met up with my brother, Brian, his fiancee, Jen, and their neighbor, Josh, at a bar called Venice Tavern in Batavia, IL, for a night of festivities. Considering it was the first time Katie and I have ever been able to celebrate St. Patrick's Day together, we were taking full advantage of it.

We ordered up a couple pizzas in the dining room and downed them. Then we made our way to the bar and drank for several hours. It was crowded, smoky, restricting, loud... everything you would expect from a bar on St. Patty's Day.

Here's a photographic retrospective of the night...

Katie and me
A little blurry, but I like the photo too much to not use it

Josh, Jen, and Katie
Josh, Jen, and Katie... I wonder if Josh can get any redder?

The double lip lock
Yes, yes he can.

Cheers!
Brian and me toasting in the evening. I know, I know... Bud Light... he was paying, not me. Can't argue when it's free.

Prada or Prado?
Katie and I spent the night decorating Jen's faux Prada purse with Bud Light stickers... both sides.

Jen and Brian
Awwww... aren't they cute?

Katie and me
We're cuter.

The Kiss
Told ya so.

These are just a few of the photos. More are available in our Flickr photo set.


Sometimes I feel like the lucky one...

Happy St. Stitch's DayFirst, what better way to chime in the holiday than with an uber-celebratory Stitch?

So from me to all of you... a happy St. Patrick's Day! This is the first one that Katie and I have ever really been able to spend together without having work or classes interfere. And damn if we're not going out to enjoy it!

On the topic of luck, have you ever had an article of clothing that you considered lucky? Or maybe it's just that perfect piece of clothing?

I have a sweatshirt like that. It's a hoodie that's about six years old. I have no idea where I got it, but it's the first pullover hoodie that I ever owned. I don't think Katie bought it for me, per se, but I'm sure we bought it together, just don't ask me where. It's dark blue a band across the chest comprised of a yellow, white, and light blue stripes. This thing feels almost like fleece it's that soft.

Yet, recently, this sweatshirt almost wound up in a pile of clothes going to Goodwill.

It was intentional at the time. It had been a couple years since I'd worn the hoodie and I had gotten some kind of stain on the stripes that I couldn't seem to get out.

When Katie saw the hoodie on the pile, she looked at me with one of those "are you nuts?" sorts of looks.

"You can't get rid of that," she said. "It was your first hoodie!"

"But I never wear it any more."

"So? You will. Trust me. You always return to the clothes you feel comfortable in."

"We'll see."

Sure enough. I've worn it about three times in the last couple weeks. Yes, it was washed and we even got the stain out of it. I kick myself for nearly getting rid of it. What the hell was I thinking?

Now, I'm convinced I wouldn't be complete unless I'm buried in this hoodie.

We're off for some beers. Well, in about seven or so hours, that is.

Have a happy one!


Is there a letter in your bag for me?

A few weeks ago, I mentioned in a meme that I was completing that one of the great things about blogging is the people that you meet.

So many bloggers have become friends as a result of this wonderful blogosphere (yeah, yeah, stop cringing at my use of an overexposed, cliched catchphrase) and you read about these meetings rather regularly.

For example, last November, Katie and I met Dave for a Depeche Mode concert.

This past weekend, Alissa flew out to San Francisco to meet up with Sandra, Jacynth, and Elliott and also met Sizzle.

There are many others. But these are just off the top of my head.

I'm hoping to meet some more of the people whose blogs I frequent sometime in the near future as well. There are several that I know Katie and I would have a good time with.

What I'm trying to say is that we, as bloggers, become part of a community. If you are genuine in your caring of these other people, they care about you as well. It may sound sappy, but I've met a really great group of people and I meet more of them every day.

We're a bit like a family that rarely ever physically sees each other. So, you make up for it by taking care of each other in different ways. You comment on their blogs, you e-mail each other, etc.

But, one of the bloggers who reads my site really went the extra mile for me recently.

Remember my post about loving black licorice a couple weeks ago? Well, my currently Roma-bound blogger pal, Kilax, who is also a black licorice fan, offered to send me some true Italian licorice. Just out of the clear blue. I didn't prompt it in any way, shape, or form.

There was no way I was going to let her fork over cash to send a package of food overseas to me. But she insisted and, today, I get a call at work from Katie.

Katie - "So I'm upstairs getting ready for work when the doorbell rings."

Me - "Okay."

"It was the mailman and he had a package. I thought there was no way my replacement PajamaGram could possibly be here." 

Misccandybox

(note: I had purchased Katie a PajamaGram for Valentine's Day, but bought the wrong size, so we're currently awaiting an exchange from them).

Me - "What was it?"

Katie - "Well, it was a pretty beat up box with some other language on it that I didn't understand."

"And....?"

"Inside was a bunch of candy. It looks like a lot of black licorice along with some chocolate and lemon cookies and pasta."

Misccandy

Me - "KIM!"

Katie - "There was also a note inside. Hold on, I'll read it for you..."

"Dear Kevin & Katie -

I hope you enjoy these treats! Watch out - the black licorice is a bit... strong.

I threw in my favorite kind of cookie here - hope you like lemon. I also added some funny 'Italian architecture' pasta - I expect you to name all the shapes to me!

Take care!

Kim Ilax --> Kilax"

Rock!

To Kim, I know you said I don't owe you anything, but I will find some way to repay you for this. I don't take this kind of generosity for granted. Believe you me.

Maybe when you hop back to our side of the pond and finalize your move in with Steven here in the 'burbs, the four of us can go out for dinner or whatnot. Oh, and it won't be Italian food as I'm sure nothing you can possibly eat here will ever compare to what you're eating now.

How's that sound?