Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Healthy Wealthy and Wise

For 2008, my New Year's Resolution was to be Healthy Wealthy and Wise. The reasons for this "catch-phrase" I will try to explain and let you know how I fared this year.

Last year I got a membership to the YMCA and wanted to get back to my workout routine. Except for a couple of weeks where I had to go into work early, I have been going most mornings during the week. I also am very pleased that one time when I weighed myself I weighed the lowest I have been for several years— though I have not weighed myself lately to know if I kept the weight off.
At year's end last year I was struggling financially and wanted to get a second job to help make ends meet. After this didn't seem to pan out, I changed it and tried to have a wealth of friends instead. However it does not appear that I have an overabundance of friends either. In fact… I may have acquired someone who considers me their enemy— but I cannot be sure of that. I must admit that my financial situation has leveled off and I am not struggling anymore— so I guess I should have stuck to my original resolution after all.
It is hard to say if I have gained any wisdom. I guess it all depends on what you consider "being wise". I'm sure if I look back on the year, I know that I have learned something… but if what I have learned has made me wise is up for debate.

Though it may appear to me that I have failed many of my resolutions— I realize that it is a process and that it does not end once the year ends. I will continue to apply these resolutions in my life moving forward, and also have a new resolution for 2009.

Happy New Year!

Kichen Sink-Gate

The saga continues…

As a follow-up to my previous post I left you indicating that the plumber would be installing the common drain pipe— well… when it rains… it hails! Everything seemed to be going fine until my wife got home around 4 and we were debating if we wanted to go out to eat or order out (since there still was no sink to do dishes with)— when my wife smelled smoke. The plumber indicated that was probably the torch they used with the solder on the pipe. We took this to heart until my wife comes down the stairs in a panic telling me to call 911 and report a possible fire. By this time we could smell smoke upstairs as well as in the basement and I could not find out where it was coming from.

I quickly called 911 and reported that we have a possible fire between our two apartments due to plumbing work being done next door. Three minutes later we hear two fire trucks barreling down the street. How many firemen does it take to put out a fire… I counted at least 20 people milling around. The tricky part was that it was somewhere in between the two units making it difficult to figure out where it was. They were using infra-red detectors and pointing it at the walls trying to figure out where the smoldering was. The other interesting thing was that there was an extra vent that did not match up with any of the other unit's configurations and smoke was pouring out of it.

Most of the time the firemen were next door, but from time to time they came in our unit and poked around. By this time my wife grabbed the dog and camped out in the car waiting things out. She called her daughter who showed up and offered support. It was at this time that the firemen determined where the source was and was proceeding in hacking away at the neighbors kitchen to try and get at the fire. One fireman came in and told us that they might have to get at the fire from our side and suggested removing any dishes from the cabinets… (You don't know how many dishes you have until you have to remove them quickly).

Scrambling to try and get all the dishes out from above the sink we managed to get all of them out only to hear that they got at the source and did not need to rip our cabinets out after all. I should have taken pictures, but I'm sure some people would say "I don't see any difference in what your kitchen looks like anyway". Rather than try and put back all the dishes again, we opted to wait to allow us (me) to go through them and determine which ones can be given away.

Since the house still smelled smokey, my wife decided to invite us and the dog to stay at her daughter's apartment overnight. So, we packed up our sleeping bags, some PJ's, and some dog treats and proceeded to go over there. We left a set of keys with the neighbors in case they needed to get back in (wouldn't want the firemen to return and break down our door just to get in). The neighbors thanked us for calling and wished us a happy new year which choked us both up after seeing the aftermath in their kitchen.

Our daughter's family made us pizza (yes it wasn't delivery… but Digiorno's)— and we slept on their living room floor… (why does my back hurt). I think that the only one who appeared nervous afterwords was the dog who was panting most of the evening— probably because he never stayed there before.

My wife had to be at work at 6:30, so we left around 6 and left a thank you note for her daughter and family and went back home to assess the damages. Things were still a bit smokey, but not to the extent that we could have if we didn't catch it as soon as we did.

I'm currently trying to get all the dishes back, but thought I would at least tell everyone that we're OK and that we are very fortunate. What a way to end the year— so looking forward to 2009.

Wordful Wednesday - Puppet Hand

When I was a child my mother made a sock puppet out of an old sock, some buttons and a pom-pom and called him Cecil the Sea Serpent Sock Puppet. This year my grandson was using the "puppet hand" when we were playing board games and I had to pull out Cecil… we had so much fun I neglected my turn every time. I always find that the "puppet hand" has so many uses that I thought I would highlight on one of them to in order to participate in Wordful Wednesday.

In theater I tend to use the puppet hand as a marker— indicating where a given person is if they are absent. You just take your hand and bend it a bit closing the thumb with the upper fingers. You can pivot the wrist a bit and have the hand puppet look around "playing their part". You can even go so far as to say lines by opening and closing the thumb and upper fingers accordingly.

When I was in the play Deadwood Dick there is a scene where we have a hangin' and proceed to take Pong Ping out to the nearest tree and hang him. Because we had to have off stage voices during the scene— and because Pong had to have a costume change— the posse would act out the scene in the far corner of the stage and use the puppet hand for Pong. Because we couldn't risk a flash during a performance, I had someone snap this shot in the green room as proof of what we were doing.

No socks or animals were harmed in the making of this post.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Everything but the kitchen sink

Why is it that during the holidays I have problems with our kitchen sink. Several years ago during Thanksgiving a pipe in our sink broke. This was fine in itself… but because we share a common drain with our neighbors— every time they used their sink it leaked through our broken pipe. What a sight it was seeing my nephew and I scrambling to bail out the water from the aluminum roasting pan under the sink. I had to go next door, ring their bell and hope that they understood enough English to understand not to use the sink because it drained into ours.

Believe it or not, a few years later on Thanksgiving we had problems with the sink again— but this time it was the common drain pipe that was clogged and had to be rooted out through the connector that was only accessible from the neighbors side.

I know that turnabout is fair play— but when it effects you it's not so funny. Fast forward to Christmas Eve this year… I'm doing the dishes in preparation for our annual Christmas brunch when the doorbell rings. It's the neighbors telling us to not use our sink because they have problems with their sink and it's backing up into their sink. Twenty minutes later the neighbor comes with pipe in hand trying to explain to me that the pipe is cracked and they might not be able to get a replacement part because the hardware store is probably closed.

Hoping that they got to the hardware store in time, I proceeded to test the sink on Christmas morning. At first it appeared to work, but then started to back up. Thinking quickly, I bailed out the sink into a bucket and sucked the stuff I couldn't bail out with a turkey baster, then emptied the bucket into the toilet which thankfully shares a common pipe with our other neighbors. Knowing that a plumber could not get called on Christmas day, I proceeded in doing my dishes into a roasting pan emptying when it got dirty into the bucket and emptying the bucket into the toilet. If you ever wonder how much water you actually use— may I suggest you try this technique… you would be surprised as to how much you use (waste).

Hoping that things were to be fixed on Friday, I waited til evening to try again, and again I get a ring at the door asking that we don't use our sink since the common pipe is backed up again.

Saturday rolls around and I see the plumber asking that he check to see if the rooter is going down to the common pipe and not into our sink by mistake. Cool… things will be fixed by evening so we can prepare our roast duck… NOT.

As of today (Monday) it appears that the common pipe has corroded and needs to be replaced— probably from too much rooting. The pipe will not be replaced until tomorrow— so keep your fingers crossed perhaps by New Year's Eve we will have our sink again.

2009 Polar Bear Plunge

At noon on Thursday, January 1, 2009 I will be at Loyola Beach participating in the annual polar bear plunge. If you are curious and want to know why I do this— read my post here.

Depending on how many people come to cheer me on will determine if I have people over at my place for "hot" drinks— hot-chocolate, hot-apple cider, hot-toddies, etc.

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The best Christmas gift ever

I must admit that my wife knows how to get gifts that have a personal touch. This year she got me a stick which was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. She also included her own set of instructions:

I especially like the fact that she also included the 2007 Hall of Fame winner— Cardboard Box. Her cleverness never ceases to amaze me.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Paula falls into a pile of rocks

When I was at ISU I had a classmate who showed up to class on crutches. When I inquired about what happened, she proceeded to tell me the story of how she was with a group of friends who were carrying her and she sprained her ankle when they set her down. I forget the exact details of the story, but it did inspire me to write a poem.

Paula falls into a pile of rocks
was she drunk this time I say not

But careless she was while carried in sway
when we put her down her legs just gave way

And what is to be learned by this gracious tale
not to wind up in jail when put on your socks


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh go jump in the lake

Man jumps in Lake Michigan and exclaims: "it's bleepin gold"— is it Blogo??
…No, it's your friendly neighborhood blogger, and I probably said: "it's bleepin COLD!!"

Back on New Year's Day, 2007 my wife and I went down to Loyola Beach to cheer on some friends who were part of the Polar Bear Club. That particular year there was not any snow or ice at the beach and those who participated in the Polar Bear "plunge" just ran straight into the lake. I was pretty inspired to jump in with them… but felt that it would be better if there was snow and ice there so that you knew it was winter. Besides, I did not have my swim suit with me and did not want to be unprepared.

Fast forward one year to New Years Day, 2008. I do not know why my wife looked up where the plunge was going to take place, but she did and let me know the day before. I knew it was going to be cold, so I decided to be prepared. Besides my usual hat coat scarf, I dressed in loose layers so that I could quickly dress after I got out. The first layer was just my swim suit, followed by the heaviest jeans I could find, a sweatshirt and a zipper flannel sweater. I brought my sandals so that I would not have to worry about cutting my numb feet on all the beer bottles that are thrown into the lake. My wife made a thermos of coffee to to warm me up after I got out. After all our preparations, we were off to see the glaciers.

I don't know if you have ever seen Lake Michigan in the winter, but there is a big buildup of ice along the shore that resembles glaciers. Because of the buildup of ice, you cannot tell how deep the water actually is. This put my wife into a panic because she thought that the depth of the water had to have been at least 5 feet or more judging from where the edge of the ice was and where she felt the shoreline started. After some scouting by other members of the club a point of entry was determined and everybody was told to get ready.

All of us had to negotiate around a large puddle to get to the edge of the glacier. Once there we all posed for our "final" photographs before heading in. Probably the hardest part was stepping down off the glacier and into the water— after that it was very easy to wade out about ten yards, turn around, and dunk.

The trudge back to the edge seemed longer— are there hidden rip tides in Chicago??… but I managed to get out unscathed. Once out I noticed my feet getting awfully heavy and were caked with ice— I was worried that I would not be able to get my sandals off, but realized that I could always chip away at them. I was also covered by a thin sheet of ice all over my body which thankfully was a great insulator— I used to hate the fact my body is so hairy, but now I'm glad… that's another story…

A quick rub down with a towel while on a thermal blanket my wife provided to keep my feet off the ice— then I got dressed and we went back to the car. Unfortunately I was too "focused on the prize" to hook up with other polar bears to go to any warming parties afterwords— but was quite proud of my accomplishments… so you could say I didn't need to party.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Be true to yourself as your own self true

As a followup to my previous post Why can't my friends be friends with my friends— I would like to focus on being a different person when with different groups of people. This may not be a bad thing— but one needs to be aware if they are changing in order to "fit in".

People are never one dimensional— but rather have many aspects that make a person who they are. People are multifaceted like diamonds— there are many ways of looking at the stone depending on your perspective. Because of this, it is very difficult to "see" the whole person.

People are seen in the various groups that they participate in and are viewed as a reflection of that group. Your behavior in that group may influence what others see you as… which is sometimes a shock to someone when they see you in another locale and appear to act differently. What is a disappointment to me is that you can be pigeonholed as acting a particular way based upon what group someone sees you in— even though you are not acting that way… the seeds of prejudice have thus been planted. But what troubles me more is that some people will behave differently on purpose when in different groups.

I am reminded of the short story The Martian from Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles where the martian shape-shifts himself to death. I do not think that we will kill ourselves when trying to fit in with the groups we are in— but I know that it is quite stressful having to "switch gears"… especially if the behavior is dynamically opposed.

I believe that anybody who consciously and purposefully "acts the part" are not being true to themselves— but are fooling themselves. One needs to be aware of their self and how they can be perceived in the various groups they participate in. This way you can be true to yourself as your own self true.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

OMG I reek like BK

Mmm… Hamburger

There is a Burger King not too far from where our offices are at work. About three years ago a colleague and I were walking by this Burger King and someone came out and exclaimed: "Oh my God— I reek like Burger King". We both thought this was a pretty ridiculous thing to say and used the phrase whenever we got something for lunch from there. I don't know if this person was in on the ground floor— but the new Burger King® Flame™ just came out.

I saw the announcement on the news but didn't put the two together. Low and behold, I get a Facebook message from this colleague saying "I smell like BK". This really changes the meaning of this phrase significantly. I can just imagine the applications…

  • You could go into a Vegetarian restaurant and wear the stuff as a sign of protest…
  • If you are Catholic and are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays— you could wear it to see if anybody is paying attention.
  • If you are a known Vegetarian or a Vegan and have a warped sense of humor, you can always wear it and make people think…

I'm sure there are others… but I'll just leave that up to you…

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why can't my friends be friends with my friends

Every place you go you have the opportunity to make friends. From Pre-school, to High School— from the swim team to the planning team… you probably have made friends from each. Every place that you make friends has a different dynamic— each has its own set of rules, ways of speaking to one another, expected behavior, etc., etc. One would think that if you get along with one group of people— those people should get along with people from another group you know as well.

I recently made a comment to a co-worker that I felt I was always the same kind of person no matter who I'm with. They payed me a nice complement by saying "I can definitely see that in you"— after which they surprised me by following up with… "but I'm a completely different person outside of work…". I'm not saying that this person is a chameleon— but it made me wonder if people tend to act differently depending on who they are with.

Call me an idealist— but I tend to think that if I can get along with people from many different groups, they should as well. I fully understand the concept of group dynamics— and that even people within a group do not necessarily get along with everybody in the group… but I am still left to hope.

I did have one nice consolation where a former colleague from work struck up a conversation on Facebook with a theater friend over a topic that I never engaged with either beforehand. I'm not saying that we all should have the same number of friends and mutual friends on Facebook, but at least knowing that people can relate to one another even though they are from different groups is refreshing.

So, I will pose the question again…
Why can't my friends be friends with my friends?

Saturday, December 13, 2008


With inspirations from Mom…

This is a recipe that I found is very easy to make and is one of the cookies I make every Christmas. Caution… this recipe uses "real" ingredients— I have never tried substitutes, but if you are successful using something else, let me know.


1 lb. Butter (4 Sticks)
8 oz. Cream Cheese
4 C Flour
2 T Baking Powder
2-3 T Sugar
1 12oz. Can Cake & Pastry Filling
1-2 C Confectioners Sugar
  1. Soften the butter and Cream Cheese in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cut in the Flour, Baking Powder and Sugar.
  3. Mix with your hands until it becomes a dough.
  4. Chill overnight
  5. Preheat Oven to 350°
  6. Roll no thinner than 1/8".
  7. Cut out circles.
    I use a shot glass, or even a small orange juice glass to do so.
  8. Place the circles on a baking sheet.
  9. Place an indentation into the circle to hold the filling.
  10. Place a small spoonful of filling into the indentation.
    I like raspberry and apricot as flavors, but feel free to use what ever you like.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle Confectioners Sugar on top
  13. Enjoy

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Writers Workshop: Corn or Soybeans

Thought I would take on Mamma Kat's writers workshop today and talk about allergies.

I attended college in central Illinois— the heart of the corn belt. I found that I usually caught colds either in March or October— I never was able to get through either month without catching a cold. I felt that most of my colds may have been allergy driven because I noticed that I tended to get them at the same time of year. But there was a pattern to my colds that I found to be very interesting:

I realized that my colds were heavy one year and light the next. For example— I may have a light cold in March and a heavy one in October… but the following year I have a heavy cold in March and a light one in October.

This got me to thinking— the crop rotation in central Illinois is corn one year, soybeans the next… so I must be allergic to either corn pollen or soybean pollen depending on which crop was more in abundance that year. I know what you're thinking… why in March? I believe that this is because that is the time the farmers start plowing their fields and this stirs up the pollen from the previous year's harvest.

This was an interesting hypothesis, but I had no way of proving it. I had no way of determining what the abundant crop was for any given year. Further arguments to this hypothesis is that after I graduated and moved to Chicago the colds stopped… I went about 2 years straight without catching one. Now I think I get my colds from people… not plants.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Over the Blvd. and down the hill…

…to grandmother's house we go.

Before my mother-in-law passed, she used to live just across the street and down the hill. Being house bound she couldn't get out— so one Christmas morning my wife and I decided that we would go over to her house and wake her up to celebrate Christmas with her. Since we didn't feel like getting dressed, we put on our bath robes and ran down to see her. After this we decided that we would always celebrate Christmas in our pajamas.

Me in my PJ's… Coffee in one hand— dog in the other.

Lately we have held Christmas at our house and have cooked a Christmas brunch for the kids and their families. Even though they no longer live with us, we have insisted that they come in their pajamas and we all have a great time opening presents, eating brunch, and enjoying the day.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The birth of a flag— the "short" story

I was telling this story yesterday, but Life Liberty and the Persuit…'s post inspired me to retell the tale.

I was playing Judge Wilson in the musical 1776 and was getting fitted for my costume during one of the rehearsals. I was trying on various pants in another room when I heard my scene was coming up. I have been comfortable wearing boxers on stage since I played Tony in West Side Story— so going on without pants was not a bother. I didn't want to miss my entrance, so I went into the rehearsal room wearing my thick red and white striped boxers.

Being that the show was a comedy, I tried my best to stay in character and not crack up seeing all of the people giggling. But the real kicker was when the person who played Ben Franklin shouted out "Martha… I have a great idea for a flag" to which the entire room broke out in laughter and the scene had to stop.

Ever since that time, whenever I wore those boxers I had to giggle a bit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Multiple personalities

No, I'm not Sybil…

I must admit that I am my parent's child. Looking at some of my physical traits you can tell that I am genetically related to them— my flattened nose from my Dad, my crooked bottom teeth from my Mom, etc., etc. But I also know that I have inherited other things as well.

Besides the fact that Mom likes cream in her coffee— Dad likes sugar… and I like both cream and sugar, I know that I have inherited some distinct personality traits.

Sophisticated — Sarcastic
I get my sophistication from my Dad. He's the one who taught me how to order in a restaurant, how to tie a tie, and how to think logically. I think that he also influenced my "old fashioned" nature and my desire to wear hats, shave with a straight razor, etc. Not to say that he's a stuffed-shirt— he can also be quite funny— but this is what I notice to have gleaned from him.
I get my sarcasm from my Mom. We were always trying to top one another and usually wind up saying… "you won the smart alack of the year award". Not to say that she's always goofy, but she does have an interesting wit that I also have in abundance.
Personal — Professional
My mother is very personable. She's the one I always had those heart to heart talks with when in my formative years and I always appreciate her care and concern. I believe I got most of my parenting skills from her and know that I am thoughtful and loving towards others because of it.
My father— though retired now— has a lot of professionalism that I greatly respect. It's his work ethic that I admire and I try to emulate his dedication to the task at hand in the work that I do.

"First impressions are everything" they seem to say… but it may be that if I lean towards one of my traits, I do not get the acclamation or respect that I think I deserve. I may be quite sarcastic at times which seems to effect my being personal because people don't take me seriously. Or, I may be acting quite professional and later tell a very subtle joke that nobody gets. If you understand that I am a combination of these traits, you should be able to understand me better in the long run.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chocolate Cake

With inspirations from Per

Whenever our milk turns a bit sour, my wife always suggests making something with it rather than throwing out the milk. So, I pulled out her moms recipe for Chocolate Cake. I was surprised to find how easy it is to make Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate Cake:
4 Squares unsweetened chocolate (cut fine)
4 T Butter
1 C Boiling Water
2 C Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 C Sour Milk
1 t Vanilla
1 t Soda
2 C Flower
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°
  2. Boil the water in a small sauce pan with the butter.
  3. Sliver the chocolate and add to the boiling water.
    I like this step because I do not have to melt the chocolate in a double-boiler.
  4. Add the sugar to the water butter chocolate mix. (chocolate syrup)
    for lack of a better term.
  5. Once well mixed, turn off the heat and let cool.
  6. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the eggs milk and vanilla together. (wet)
  7. In a separate mixing bowl, add the Soda and Flower together. (dry)
  8. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.
  9. Add the chocolate syrup mixture to the mixing bowl.
    You do this last because you do not want to cook the eggs.
  10. Grease and flower a 9 inch baking pan.
  11. Add the batter to the pan.
  12. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a butter knife comes out clean.
  13. Cool.
  14. Enjoy!

Though we may not always want Chocolate Cake for Breakfast, I find this a great thing to eat anytime.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Double Dose of Turkey

Got lot's o' Turkey on Tap— want some…

For the past few years, my wife and I have been hosting two Thanksgivings— one on Sunday for the kids, and one on the day for family and other friends. One would think that because we just hosted two Thanksgiving dinners this year, there would be tons of stories— but this year was quite uneventful.

Unlike last year when I was outside the butcher's (cell phone in hand) trying to get a hold of the butcher who wasn't there on Sunday to pick up the Turkey— we decided to get a turkey from the grocery store for Sunday's dinner. Considering that we went to church, this put a dent into the amount of time spent prepping for dinner. Fortunately, we had help in the form of our Grandson who helped peel potatoes, arranging the crudité platter, and setting the table.

My grandson peeling potatoes

Luckily my Step-Daughter was getting off work late that day, so we could put the turkey in the oven after we got back from church. Call my wife Martha if you like, but she always tries to have some sort of theme when we give a meal— and this one was no exception. We got some wood trivets from our Rummage Sale this year and incorporated them along with our many squirrels into a "Fall and Squirrel Theme".

Sunday's Spread (Fall and Squirrel Theme)

On Thursday, because we wanted to be different— as well as use the China my wife inherited from her mother, we set the table differently. We tried to be more formal, but still wanted a fall feel. We got extra help from our nephew who stayed overnight to help make two pies, stuff the bird, peel the potatoes, cut and arrange the crudité platter, and help set the table.

Thursday's Spread

This year I think that we played it safe. My wife and I keep thinking that we should mix it up a bit and perhaps have the Sunday dinner more experimental and the Thursday dinner more traditional— but we forgot to brainstorm enough this year and didn't feel comfortable going too far outside the box… there's always next year. Now… time to get working on those leftovers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Coffee me silly

I must admit I love coffee. Unlike most people, I can have a cup before I go to bed and I am not effected. I used to have my own pot at my desk and sometimes had to say— "looks like it's a two pot day" after I finished off the first by myself. If anyone is familiar with Radiskull they can appreciate the affection that I have to the stuff— in fact I'm usually saying in a Radiskull voice: "Ahhh, hot brown liquid that makes my heart beat faster" whenever I see a new pot being made in the break room.

Much like the year I gave up soda, one year I decided to give up caffeine— not because… but just because I could. One would think that giving up caffeine I would go through withdrawal symptoms, but I didn't. I did falter unknowingly while drinking a Barq's Root Beer only to read the label and see that it had caffeine in it. Interestingly that same year was the year that Jolt Cola came out— so instead of toasting with champagne, we toasted with Jolt.

I never got much into energy drinks and the like, I just am a traditionalist and I stick to coffee. There is something I like about the bitterness in the taste that I find unique to coffee. However, there are those times when you get that burnt coffee taste when the pot has been left on too long— Yuck. And perhaps it is a Cardinal rule that church coffee never taste good— I never remember there being a time I just sat there during fellowship and commented "boy, this is a great cup of coffee".

I fear the day my doctor decides to tell me to stop drinking coffee… but until that time I'll just have to enjoy my two cups.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Follicle Holiday

When I was a sophomore in high school, I started to grow facial hair. Being an October child, I was younger than my class so I knew of the inevitable a year a head of time. I opted to go into theater that next winter instead of being on the wrestling team— not because I did not want to shave, but because I was better at it than wrestling… though I did tell some people that was the reason. When I did finally shave, I never touched my mustache and goatee because I liked the look. I managed to not have to be fully shaven for rolls that I played until I was nineteen and was playing Tony in West Side Story.

One could argue that because I was the same age as the character that I did not need to shave— but the director would not have it, he insisted that I be clean shaven. I held off as long as I could until dress rehearsal at which time I shaved off my goatee and half of my mustache to see if anybody noticed— nobody did. It felt very strange… mostly because my upper lip was sensitive— but it also made me think that my cheeks looked bigger.

After that point, I decided that I should grow a beard during the winter months. I opted to start growing my beard during Thanksgiving break so that I would not be looking like my (fictitious) long lost uncle Don, and would have a noticeable beard by the time I returned to class. I then decided to shave everything off on Valentines day— mostly because it is about the same distance from the new year as Thanksgiving, but also to be kind to the "ladies". I then start growing my mustache starting around Saint Patrick's Day and keep it until the cycle repeated itself in November.

I kept this cycle up for many years, even after I met my wife. I do not know why I decided to do a full shave on my birthday and be fully shaven until Thanksgiving— probably to look younger… but I do that as well. It must be very confusing to my wife, because many times when I forget to shave she inquires of me… "what follicle holiday is this?"— to which I must confess to her that I just neglected to shave.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Anonymity through Commonality

Given the Tyranny of Numbers in which more and more information is being added to the Internet, it made me wonder how that effects my Sphere of Influence.

I think that many of the search engines out there use some sort of formula in order to determine how to display their results. It is unclear to me why something makes it to the top of the list, but I would guess that it is based upon popularity. So, when you "Google" my name, you find an Alaskan hiker… or a Football Player.

Because of the commonality of my name, it makes it very difficult to find "me"… unless you know what to look for. This is either good or bad depending on what you want.

  • It is good in that people cannot find you based strictly on your given name. You have to know more about my Name—Category to know you truly found "me".
  • It is bad when I want people to actually find "me". You have to scroll through a lot of irrelevant stuff in order to find "me".

Much like your Carbon Footprint your Internet Footprint grows the more you add to it. So, hopefully I can add to my Internet Footprint and work my way up the results ladder by sheer numbers.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tyranny of Numbers

Even though the phrase Tyranny of Numbers was originally coined to describe an engineering problem with computer design, I tend to use it to describe the ever expanding Internet.

I do not have any statistics, but I know that the amount of information being placed on the Internet is always growing. For example, the fact that I am posting this blog adds more words to the Internet and makes it even larger. Since the amount of information is ever expanding— it is difficult to find what you are looking for, because there is more to go through to in order to find it.

Even though it may be difficult to find something, the fact alone that there is something to find will impact your sphere of influence when someone actually finds you. So, I do not feel as lonely because there is that possible chance that someone will find my work.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sphere of Influence

"How big is your bubble?"

During the course of your life you will be around people. If you could add up the number of people that you have ever been around– even those that you never even met– it gets to be a pretty big number. For example, if you went to a professional football game, all of the people in the stadium, the football players, and even the people watching the game on TV when the camera pans past you count. You do not even have to be see the other person in order to influence someone (the fact alone that you are reading this and may have never met me proves it).

Any time you come in contact with someone, you will influence them. Influence can be conscious, unconscious, or even subconscious in nature. If you notice someone, talk to them, or even read something they wrote– most likely it is conscious because you are aware of their influence. If you are not aware of the influence by someone it is most likely unconscious because you are employing unconscious communication to relate to something even though the person is not around. If you are unaware of the persons presence but are still influenced by them, then it is subconscious.

Because of the fact that you can influence people through many different levels, and the number influenced is very large— if you could quantify those numbers you should be able to see how big your sphere of influence truly is.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Home Remedies

Since this is the cold and flu season– and since I just got over a cold– I figured that I should reveal some of my techniques for fighting a cold. I must admit that I am extremely aggressive when it comes to my own prescriptions, and many times I may not always stick to my regimen as faithfully as I describe. Because of this, do not think that these are tried and true methods. They are, however, methods that I have found work best for myself whenever I get sick.

  • Drink lots of liquids. Try to avoid diuretics such as coffee that contain caffeine as it will pull out more liquids than you put in (you don't want that). I do find that tea is a good exception because most of the time it does not have as much caffeine as coffe, and I can put a cough drop in it– especially if the cough drop contains menthol (helps the nose).
  • Have a regimen of medicine that you take on a routine basis. I typically take an antihistamine during the day as it does not make me sleepy– then take a decongestant in the evenings so that I don't have to worry about things dripping down my throat when I sleep. If I have a cough, I will take an expectorant during the day so I can clear out my lungs– then take a suppressant during the evening so that I do not have coughing fits that keep me up all night.
  • Suck on a cough drop and candy. Many times either my nose is stuffed up, or I have a cough, so sucking on a cough drop helps. I have found that after many cough drops my mouth is either dry, or it tastes funny… so I switch from time to time to a hard candy such as a watermellon Jolly Rancher.
  • Gargle, brush gargle. There are two types of gargling that I do nasal and throat. Mix up your warm salt water in a cup. For the nasal gargle, take a straw and cyphon some into it and drain it into your nose. Don't swallow the salt water, but try and keep it in your nasal cavety. Blow your nose when you are finished. Then do the throat gargle as you normally do. Once you are done gargleing, brush your teeth. When rinsing after brushing, swish some salt water in your mouth. Repeat the throat gargle to complete.
  • Take vitamin A. This is good for the mucus membranes. Don't take too much as this vitamin is fat soluble.
  • Eat fruit. This gives you vitamin C as well as puts something other than liquid in your belly.
  • Take a hot bath. I always say: "Feed a fever and Kill a cold"… so raising your temperature actually helps (me anyway). After your bath, wrap yourself up to stay warm (you don't want a chill).
  • Drink Soup. This adds the necessary salt to your system as well as keeps you warm.
  • Keep a positive attitude. It is said that if you are not emotionally well, it is harder to get physically well. So, be positive you'll get better soon.

My colds typically last about five days (though this last one lasted twice as long). Day one is when I notice I have a cold. Day two is when I have a stuffy nose. Day three is when I have a cough. Day four is when I am finally clearing my lungs and nose. And day five I am just exhausted from the ordeal. Since I have not really neglected my own home remedies, I never know if what I do makes my colds shorter or longer in length.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

From the mind, heart, and soul

I have found that I tend to describe my opinions beginning with the following statements: "I think…", "I know…", and "I believe…". After pondering this through, I found that each statement carries a particular weight based upon my understanding of that opinion and where it originates.

This is based upon observation. So often we observe something and make an immediate comment about it. This type of opinion or comment does not hold much weight because it may be considered reactionary in nature. The phase… "Thinking off the top of your head" comes to mind.
This is based upon conclusion. After pondering something long enough, you tend to draw a conclusion. These conclusions are emotionally derived, which make these opinions considered more heart-felt rather than head-strong in nature. The phrase… "Speaking from the heart" comes to mind.
This is based upon integration. The things that you know can be grouped together into a belief. Opinions like these carry a lot more weight than thinking or knowing because they have been ingrained into your belief system. These beliefs— in turn— touch your soul because they are so deeply integrated, and also reflect your soul whenever you express those opinions.

Given these definitions, the following statements now hold a different perspective to me:

  • "I think I know what I believe"
  • "I know I believe what I am thinking"
  • "I believe I know I think"

I know that there are others, so feel free to add your own statements if you think you can.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2008 Pancake Breakfast

If you like pancakes, the Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church will be hosting their annual pancake breakfast. I will be flipping pancakes on our custom made griddle. I am including the information on how to get there if you like pancakes, or want to see me flip pancakes:

Saturday, November 1, 2008
9:30 am - 2:00 pm
$3.00 All you can eat!!!
Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church
4511 N. Hermitage
Chicago, IL

I look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Three Legged Stool

All relationships require balance and stability to be successful. Like any platform, a stool requires at least three legs to stand upright. I have found three key components that I believe are necessary for any relationship to work:

There has to be a reason for being in the relationship. You need to be interested in having the relationship as well as having interest in the other person.
There needs to be a dedication towards having the relationship work. Through commitment you are paying attention to the relationship and making the necessary adjustments to keep the relationship growing and strong.
You both have to have the other two components in order to fully balance the relationship. If you are interested in them and they are not, then it is unrequited. If they are committed to having the relationship and you could care less, then the relationship either becomes stagnant or falls apart.

With the presence of these three key components in place, a stable base is established which allows for a firm foundation for any relationship to be built.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Le` Moo

Last September, my wife and I went to Milwaukee and stopped at George Watts which is a specialty store that sells dishes silverware and other kitchen stuff. We saw a cute little milk pitcher in the shape of a cow that had some french saying on a card below it. After we saw the sign we started to speak with a high pitch French accent (much like a little kid) and kept saying silly things like: "Hello le` moo"… "le creuset", etc. for at least an hour after that. I secretly bought the pitcher and gave it to her for Christmas. Unfortunately, sometime this summer a plastic glass fell off of the dish rack and into the sink breaking the pitcher.

I was planning on getting a replacement for her for our anniversary, but did not have the time to check and see if the pitcher was on-line. Fortunately, my wife found the pitcher at Perennials and secretly bought me a replacement and gave it to me for my birthday. Now we can enjoy our coffee with our "little cow"!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Today on this date…

I was born. From what my mother told me, I was born on a beautiful fall Sunday morning at 7:30, so you can figure how old I am based on that.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Intangibles

Unlike the tangibles, the intangibles are something that are not perceived by the senses. Things like thoughts and feelings typically fall under this category because we can describe them, but they have no real reference that someone else can objectively observe.

I tend to think abstractly, so many of my ideas are intangible and very difficult to describe to others. This is a challenge, especially since the majority of the things we describe use tangible terms.

I try to bridge the gap by describing the intangibles using examples based on my experiences so that others can draw their own conclusions through the commonality of the experience itself. I do not insist that people fully understand the concepts and ideas that I present, but rather to ponder them and relate to them using their own understanding.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Tangibles

When we experience life, we typically describe it using terms that are easily understood. So often we use terms that are physical in nature and can be pointed out to others. Terms such as "tall", "bright", "smooth" are commonly used for describing a great number of things. I find these things to be the tangibles.

What makes something tangible? According to Merriam-Webster one definition of the word is "capable of being perceived" which to me means that it is observable and identifiable. Another definition is "substantially real" which means that it contains substance and is real to us.

I believe that the majority of what we describe to others is tangible because it is easily identified and shown as real.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2008 Rummage Sale

The Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church will be hosting their Rummage sale. There is a variety of items to get that range from clothes to furniture. I am including the information on how to get there if you like shopping:

Saturday, October 4, 2008
9 am -3 pm
Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church
4511 N. Hermitage
Chicago, IL

I look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, September 19, 2008

2008 Talk like a pirate day

"Aarrr" "Ayeee"

Today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. I never knew about this event until recently, so I may not be as great at it as others, but it does remind me of how "Captain Cup-Hand" came into being.

Ever since college I have typically had a large plastic cup that I always filled between classes. Sometime in the early 90's I got in the habit of cramming the cup on my hand as I went to the drinking fountain to fill up. Someone noticed and asked me if I was part pirate, to which I quickly replied "Ayeee, Capt'n Cup-Hand here" and proceeded to talk like a pirate whenever I went to refill my cup.

I have always known a smattering of sign-language, and in order to be fair to the deaf community I take the international signs for the letters R and I and use them. In order for them to "sound" appropriate for pirate-speak, I typically hold the letter firmly and shake my hand in the process ("RRRRRRR…", "IIIIIII…").

Feel free to join in the fray (ayeee) and talk like a pirate today.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Traditional Letter Writing

Author's Note: I have decided to rehash this post as a Spin Cycle Post. Be sure to check out other Traditions at Spin Cycle by Sprite's Keeper.

One semester in college I was fortunate enough to have a schedule in which I was done with my classes by Thursday at noon (I did have one class on Friday, but it did not require any homework). Because of this, I could finish my homework before the weekend began. The only unfortunate thing about this schedule is that when Sunday evening rolled around, everybody I knew was doing their homework. Rather than getting lazy and blowing off my homework till Sunday, I chose to write letters instead. What I found when I was writing my letters is that I have a lot of traditions that I always use when writing.

Hand written or typed:
What I found is that I type faster than I write. So, if you get a hand written letter from me it is thus considered more personal than a typed one— mostly because it takes more time to write. Also, with a hand written letter I cannot correct my mistakes as easily as with type written letters. Using that same logic, you could say that an e-mail letter is even less personal because I can easily delete something and there would not be any evidence of my edits.
It used to be clear cut in that if I had a salutation before your name— "Dear Name,"… then it was less personal than if I only had your name— "Name,". However, this only applies to written letters. For e-mail, it depends on if the message is going to a group of people in which case it would not have any salutation at all.
Close line:
I typically have a closing line or sentence which indicates that the letter is ending. My best one is one that I used in undergraduate school which is the following: "Looks like this could be the end… so be sure to tune in next time (same bat-time, same bat channel) for more exciting adventures of… Undergrad!!!" Many other times I just say "Be good and take care" instead.
For my personal letters I use a poem that I wrote which I try to relate to the overall mood of the letter. Sometimes the poem is only a one line quote, while other times it is a several line poem. When I typed my letters I tried to center the overall poem on the page which is when you look at my poetry originals you will see a number which was used to center the poem on the stationery that I used. Also, if you look at a typed or hand-written letter you will see that I use my trademark (C over J) followed by the year the poem was written to sign the poem.
Personal letters will typically have "With love," while more serious letters skip that part and only have my name. However, with casual e-mails I will typically use just my name ":-Chris" since it does not really require a formal signature.
If I hand-write a letter, or even sign a card, I will use the same ink (or pencil) to seal the envelope with my trademark. Even if I type a letter, I will seal the envelope with my trademark. I used to use red ink when signing a card, but nowadays I never have one handy, so that tradition is less strict.

Even though I have progressed from Hand-written, to Typed, to E-mail— I am glad that I still hold on to many of my traditions, otherwise my letters may not have as much personality as I would like.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Trios, Triads, and Triplets 1

So many things seem to appear in three's. My wife and I compiled a list of phrases that appear in threes that we call Trios. Here are ten trios from our list:
  • Coffee, Tea, or Me
  • Hook, Line, and Sinker
  • Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
  • Lions, and Tigers, and Bears (oh my!)
  • Lock, Stock, and Barrel
  • On your mark, Get set, Go
  • Pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, Start all over again
  • Ready, Aim, Fire
  • Stop, Drop, and Roll
  • The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

If you have others, I encourage you to comment to add to our list.

Trios, Triads, and Triplets 2

A triangle is a closed figure that uses the least amount of sides. My wife and I found that there are several groupings of terms that always seem to come in threes that we call Triads. Here are ten triads from our list:
  • Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
  • Earth, Wind, and Fire
  • Executive, Legislative, and Judicial
  • Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh
  • Height, Width, Depth
  • Land, Sea, and Sky
  • Red, White, and Blue
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors
  • Small, Medium, Large
  • Solid, Liquid, Gas

If you have others, I encourage you to comment to add to our list.

Trios, Triads, and Triplets 3

Three is a magic number. My wife and I discovered that there are a lot of names that appear in threes that we decided to call Triplets. Here are ten triplets from our list:
  • Balthazar, Caspar, and Melchior
  • Chico, Harpo, and Groucho
  • Crosby, Stills, and Nash
  • Curly, Larry, and Moe
  • Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe
  • Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
  • Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather
  • Huey, Dewey, and Louie
  • Shadrak, Mishak, and Abednego
  • Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

If you have others, I encourage you to comment to add to our list.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Attraction factors

So often we try to figure out what is it about that person that we are attracted to. I have found that there are three different factors that come into play when we determine attraction: Striking, Double-take, and Charming factors.

Striking Factor
Anything that catches your eye can be considered a part of the striking factor. These are not only the physical attributes– the broad shoulders, the curve of the waist, etc.… but also the non-physical attributes– "he's so funny", "she's so confident", etc.
Double-take Factor
Something that makes you look again can be considered part of the double-take factor. People who have a high double-take factor have something about them that makes them more attractive than the first time around. You may not even have a high striking factor, but wind up having a high double-take factor.
Charming Factor
This is the factor that keeps your interest– "I can't keep my eyes off of him", "she always looks great". It does not even need to be something physical– "what is it about him that is so fascinating", "I always enjoy being around her".

I do not think that these three factors are directly related and can be viewed independently. However, when determining someone's attractiveness, you need to look at all three factors to get a full picture of their overall charisma.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Let's Get Chalked

I have found that a lot of terms that describe being inebriated are quite graphic:
"Let's get plowed"–getting so drunk that you feel like you have been plowed under the ground.
"Let's get pissed"–getting so drunk it is as if your blood has turned to urine (probably due to the large amount of beer you have consumed).
"Let's get trashed"–getting so drunk it is as if your body has been thrown in a garbage can.
"Let's get chalked"…

When I was attending Illinois State University I noticed what appeared to be an outline of a person on a wall. It struck my friend and I as particularly funny because it looked a lot like a police outline. This got us to thinking… what if this is "real"? Then it got us to wondering… what if you are so drunk that you pass out and everybody thinks your dead, will the police draw an outline around your body?

Let's get chalked!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Loyola Beach Conservation Day

On Saturday, August 19th I will be at the Loyola Beach Dunes from 9:00 AM to Noon. I hope to learn about the beach dunes and their importance to the local environment while helping beautify the beach.

See the Chicago Park District's Volunteer Page for more information. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Giving and Forgiving

Once I signed up for a personal ad and in it I indicated that I was "both giving as well as forgiving". At the time I thought it just sounded good, but I later found that I was actually pretty profound. Just what does it mean to be giving as well as forgiving?

To be "giving" to me means that you are willing to give of yourself. It is a way of being selfless and sharing with others. So often we find ourselves taking– taking advantage of someone… taking charge… or even taking that last slice, that we forget how to give.
I believe that to be "forgiving" is not just accepting someones' apology, but to be able to let go of any anger and resentment you have towards that person in spite of what they may have done. It is also being able to ask for forgiveness as well. So often we think we can do no wrong, that we forget that we make mistakes too. And not only ask for forgiveness, but be sincere when doing so.

Interestingly, it is the combination of both of them that makes it really profound. If we can be selfless and ask for forgiveness when we find ourselves taking– or, even be able to forgive someone by giving of yourself to that person, when before you were only angry and impersonal towards them– then you have truly been "giving as well as forgiving".

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Name, Occupation, Health, Feelings

When I was in high school I came up with four categories that helped me describe myself– Name, Occupation, Health, and Feelings. These categories are typically used to define how well you know someone, or even yourself. I used to give a ranking to each, but later threw it out because some do not deserve a scale from 1 to 10. Given all of the categories, you can use them to try to know yourself a bit better or even try it on someone you know to see how thoroughly you know someone.

With name you are determining what you can identify about someone. Things like "What's your middle name", "Where did you go to school", "Where do you live", etc. This category is very tangible as everything you find you can point to and have some physical proof of. It is what most people think of as one's identity, and it is what people guard against when it comes to identity theft. It is interesting to note that many people tend to think that this is all there is to knowing someone because you are listing all of those interesting facts and figures about that person. This category is vast and never ending so there is no real way of quantifying it into a scale. It is a great way of proving to someone that you know them because you found that little tidbit that they thought you never knew.
Most people, when they hear this category tend to think that it defines what you do for a living. This is far from the truth. What you do for a living can be identified through name (she was a hotel detective). Occupation is the way in which you interact with other people. You know a person through occupation by how you "relate" to them… what kind of personality do they have; how well do they get along with different types of people; what types of communication techniques do they use. Since this category is intangible, there is no way of objectively ranking it.
With health, there are basically two types of health: Mental and Physical. I sometimes can include spiritual as well, but most people tend to group mental and spiritual as one. With Mental Health, you are looking to know how they are dealing with the world around them (are they stressed; are they depressed; are they having a great day, etc.) With Physical Health it is usually things that are tangible in nature (do they have a cold; are they dealing with a prolonged illness, etc.) Many people link the two together, and I agree that sometimes when you are not feeling physically well you tend to show it mentally/spiritually. Also, if you know that someone is ill, you try to cheer them up (Laughter is the best medicine).
Many people confuse this category with mental health. But, the difference is that feelings are fleeting and mental health is more permanent in appearance. Feelings only identify your current state– are you happy; are you overjoyed, etc. This one is very hard to identify because it is internal and extremely intangible. Many times you empathize with someone and can feel what they are feeling and know them that way. This phenomenon ties closely with Spiritual Communication because you are connecting with the other person.

With all of these categories, I am now able to summarize how I know someone at any given moment. I am also able to build a better picture of anyone, including myself.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2008 Grill Fest

The Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Men will be sponsoring their third annual Grill Fest this Saturday. All proceeds go towards replacing the old tables at the church which are extremely heavy and difficult to move around. I'm including the information about the event below in case you want to come:

Saturday, July 26, 2008
Noon-3 pm
Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church
4511 N. Hermitage

I look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The three Imp's

Many times for lent people try to give up something. I typically try to take on a challenge instead. One year I came up with one that I called "the three Imp's". At the time I used this to make myself more aware of my actions– but even today I find myself still using it to analyze how I come across to other people.

I do not want to be Impressive
Many times we like to show off to others. Sometimes this is just to get their attention to focus on yourself– other times it is just to make yourself look better than they are. No matter what the reason, being impressive makes you appear either boastful, or insecure.
I do not want to be Imposing
Forcing someone to do something that you want them to do is not very respectful. So often we want to "change" someone– but we need to realize that change comes from within and we cannot change them by imposing your will on them. Being imposing wastes time because you never accomplish what you want– and wastes energy because no matter what you do, you will never succeed.
…but rather be Imparting.
Being able to "share of myself" is important to me. I would like to be able to impart my knowledge and experiences to others. I know and have experienced a lot in life and would like others to know of my insights and observations.

It is difficult to try and concentrate on the final "Imp" and not fall back on the other two. However, once I was aware of them it made it easier to evaluate my actions and know if I was focusing on being Imparting.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Goin' down to Green G

Green G

Last weekend we went on our annual camping trip to O'Connell's Campground out in Amboy Illinois. My wife has been going there for at least 28 years– as I have only been going for the past 12. One would think that getting there should be a "no brainer" by now… but perhaps it is the fact that everything is changing all the time that makes getting there half the fun.

I always say "every trip is an adventure", and this one is no exception. It always seems that someone winds up getting lost when we go out there, and this year it was our turn. Much like the year when Matt missed 88 and wound up on 290 going into downtown, and Tiffany missed 39 and didn't realize that she missed it until nearly in Iowa– we missed 294.

While in the left hand lane on 90 heading for the exit onto 294, we saw the sign for the toll. Of course there was plaza construction going on to add new I-pass lanes to "ease congestion", so everything was unfamiliar to us. Blame it on my being an honest citizen– but I was so focused on getting in the manual lanes to make sure we could pay the toll properly, I proceeded to cross about 4 lanes to get there. I still don't know if the exit was before or after the toll, but we didn't suspect that we missed the exit until we saw Ikea. By the time we finally realized we missed the exit, we had to figure out how to turn around.

Being in the left hand lane to make the 294 exit, we had to ease over to the right. I missed one exit arguing about things and searching desperately for the change purse to pay the exit toll… but we finally exited on Barrington Road and pulled over at the Hilton Garden Inn to get our bearings. We were still hunting for the change purse when we pulled over and thought we had better call… but now we couldn't find the cell phone either. We had to pull out all the bags from the car and empty them to search the car and bags for both the change purse and the cell phone– both of which we knew was in the car when we left.

After finding our misplaced items, we got a call from Matt wondering where we were. We explained our situation, but still needed to verify that we can get back on 90, and if they wanted to still wait for us at the O'hare oasis. They said they didn't mind waiting, so we decided to park over by the gift-shop to ask for directions and take a bathroom break. We wondered why some passers-by were laughing at us until we noticed that two of our bags were still on the roof of the car.

Nobody was available in the gift shop to ask, and it appeared that there wasn't a bathroom in site. Luckily a few people came through what I thought was a back room to the gift shop… so I told Sara that the bathroom was probably through there, and she could go while I waited for the sales person to become available.

Sara came back and looked lost, so I figured I would accompany her and maybe ask someone in the restaurant instead. We went through the door, up a few stairs, and was at the bar for the restaurant. The bartender also appeared busy, so we went to the right, down a few stairs and looked around for a bathroom– nothing. We saw a small door and went through that and looked around and finally saw the bathrooms. "This reminds me of one of those nightmares", Sara told me "where you get further and further away from where you want to go." This seemed even more evident when we tried to leave the parking lot and could not go out the way we got in– but rather had to go to a frontage road and exit that way.

We finally met up with the rest of the caravan at the oasis and grabbed a bite to eat before we all left to head out on 88. We all made it on to 88, but got tied up in more construction which started at the toll and continued through past 30. It must have taken us an hour to go through the toll, which normally would only take about five minutes to go through. There were only three manual lanes, which narrowed down to one after the toll before merging with the automatic lanes.

After the construction it was all smooth sailing the rest of the way. It did rain a bit while we were traveling, but stopped long before we got to the campsite and had to set up our tents. We were originally glad that we left early… at least early as compared to other years. But, after adding up all the delays– with our being lost, as well as the construction on 88– we actually made it to the campsite just after the cutoff for early check in at 4:00. This meant that we did not have to pay the extra fee for checking in early… something we would have had to do if we were not delayed.

So, even though we all seemed to have an adventure getting to our campsite at Green G, the rest of the weekend was picture perfect.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Writers Block

When I was in college I was finished with all of my finals and was in the library with a friend. In order to pass the time, I decided to grab a piece of paper and write. Interestingly, when I was finished I had a great stream of consciousness example of what one may think when trying to write.

I sit and slowly fade into a meaningless nothing. No one around me seems to notice as I endlessly pass from one forgotten world to the next with the stroke of my hand, my next thought to come as unknown as the thought before.
The changes are slow as the clock ticks faster than my mind has a chance to get into gear. The sense should be lost and free form flowing like the passing tides, but I'm always returned to the halting problem of time elasped.
I shouldn't return to my place before to try and conjure up some new pathway, but rather to take a new path with each pen stroke as ideas form and are made real.
Each new idea is formed before and settles. Sometimes it is used while other times it is either discarded or forgotten but when forgotten perhaps the initial memory still prevails and forces me to continue on my never started, never ending quest.
Then the pen drops, the ink flows and all, if not most is made somewhat real.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Moving Daze

I was originally asked by my Sister-in-law to help prime their apartment on the last day of April before they moved. It appears that they agreed to cover over a few of the rooms that they themselves painted and needed some help. I'm not sure why they agreed to paint at all since the next occupants were expected to move in on the 1st of May. My guess is that they felt guilty for painting those rooms very bright colors.

The previous Monday and Tuesday I was in my basement taking apart our old hide-a-bed couch. Matt moved into the basement a few years back and wanted the old couch downstairs. I told him that he could have the couch but he would have to haul it downstairs himself. I was hoping that this would be a deterrent, since the couch is about 3 feet deep (the same width as the basement door, but wider than the bathroom door across the hall). This made for getting the couch down a real challenge. But a challenge he met quite cleverly by taking the door off its hinges and also the railing off the wall in order to get the couch into the basement. Well, he recently moved out and indicated that he did not want the couch anymore. I told him that I did not want to take the door off its hinges, etc. and would be cutting it up, but needed help getting the steel bed frame up the stairs. He agreed that he could swing by that Tuesday evening, but a desperate call from my Sister-in-law canceled those plans.

Even though they were having professional movers help (something I always regret not doing whenever I complete a move), the movers were not contracted to pack so they needed help packing. I always pride myself at being able to "pack more stuff into less space than is humanly possible", so having the opportunity to pack is always fun.

When we got there, most of the boxes they already packed were lined up in the hallway stacked from floor to ceiling. "What, there's more…" I asked myself; but like anyone who has ever moved, there's always more than you think. We tackled the kitchen and one of the bedrooms, but eventually had to stop around 11:30 because Sara had to get up early the next day for work and needed to get to bed. Even though I could have stayed overnight (since I was scheduled to paint the next day), I opted to go home with Sara and be her alarm clock. We all agreed that I would swing by around 8:00 AM the next day to help paint.

When I got there on Wednesday morning, the movers were in the process of removing the boxes from the hallway. It appears that we had to wait for the movers to finish taking all of the stuff from the rooms we were going to paint before we started, so we opted to finish packing while we waited. We finally started painting around 4:00 PM, but still the movers were not even close to being finished moving all of the stuff into the truck.

We started painting their Son's room first since it had paint on both the walls and the ceiling. The walls were painted fire-engine red and pencil yellow, while the ceiling was painted a royal blue with glow-in-the-dark stars painted (looked a lot like a flag). I think the first coat took the longest, because I did not get to the dining room until after 8:00. Luckily my wife showed up to help around 6:30 which made the work go a bit faster.

We opted to take a dinner break around 8:00 and also check in with my Brother-in-law at the other end of the move. It appears that the movers finally got everything in the truck around 7:00 two hours after they originally thought they would be completely finished. They thought that they could unload at the new apartment the next day, but had to unload that day since they had other moves the next day. This meant that we would be one person down for painting.

After dinner we moved onto the living room which only needed the walls painted (the yellow ceiling was not as noticeable as you would think). One would think that this would take less time since we only were only doing the walls, but I guess that the highlighter-orange liked to peek out from behind the primer more than the other colors and required three coats. Around Midnight, I opted to go back to the bedroom and start the second coat so as not to be overly frustrated. Luckily Dana returned from the new apartment around 11:00 so he could help paint in the living room.

Sara opted to go home around midnight so she could go to work the next day. Since they could not pick up the next day, I chose to stay the course and finish the job. I estimated that we would be finished around 3:00 AM, and may just sleep at the new apartment and return home on my own.

Growth Chart

I was correct in that we did finish around 3:00. The last thing we had to do was to transfer the growth chart on the doorway since they could not take that with them. Once that was done, we did a once-over to make sure that we didn't leave anything behind, then left. I decided that I would just go straight home rather than stay in a room full of boxes and finally got home around 4:30 AM.

You always know who your friends are– they're the ones who help you move. I'm glad I was able to help and would gladly help again anytime.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

2008 Artists of the wall festival

If you have not seen the wall at Loyola Beach, then you can meet the artists who paint it. The 15th Annual Rogers Park Event runs June 14th & 15th, 2008. I am considering going and will try and take some pictures, but I don't think that I can participate since I just found out about the event yesterday.

If you want more information about the event, you can find it at the Rogers Park Website.

–Hope to see you there.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Battle Scars

When I was in High School, our church choir was on tour in St. Louis. During the time we visited the riverfront, a downpour occurred and forced us to wait it out in the back of an RV in our shorts and T-shirts. To pass the time we wound up pointing out all of our scars and telling everyone how we got them. I don't know what it is about scars, but they seem to be something that most people enjoy sharing. One would think that this is a particular "Boy" thing, but the girls were equally pointing out their scars and telling everybody how they got them, no matter how gruesome the story.

There seems to be a leveling quality to scars in that if you know that someone else has a scar– this makes them more human. The willingness of pointing out ones imperfections shows a humbleness and proves that we are all fallible. Physical scars are easy in that you can easily point to something that you see, emotional scars are a different matter completely. You can't just say "Here; look at this depression, isn't it interesting…" then proceed to tell them how you got in such a funk. But that is always true about any intangible.

Even the tangible physical scars can have an interesting symbolism about them. There are several scars that I have found that I have to ask myself "now, how did I get that one…" then rack my brain and try and figure out how I got injured. Others I know I got, but have a tough time trying to find: such as the laceration on my left forearm– the only place I ever got stitches.

I was working at Knaack Manufacturing helping form job boxes. I was assisting the break-press operator with lifting the box top while it was being bent. I must have dropped my arms at some point, because I did not notice that I was cut until I started to lift the next piece, and saw the blood dripping down my arm. I am sure that if this were any other cut, I would not have to have stitches. But, since I was working with metal, it was required. For the longest time, I kept thinking that it was my right arm that was injured, since that was the arm closest to the piece. Interestingly, it was not the arm closest to the piece, but the other one– which probably explains why I could not find it on my right arm.

Much like the tree in the forest; if a scar cannot be seen– did the injury ever occur? I sure hope not because there are some injuries that I felt a scar should be visible, but went away. But, even though there is not visible scar, the story still remains. Like the time that I was playing baseball in a neighbors back yard in my bare feet and overran first base only to slip on a plastic drain pipe and cut my foot from the base of the big toe up through the heel. A great looking cut, but it actually went away in about 3 weeks (probably because most of the cut was through the callous skin). Perhaps this is also true of emotional scars that may seem to not be apparent, but the event that caused the injury still occurred.

The best scars are those that when you look at, you either guess wrong, or can't figure out how such a scar was formed. I'll forgive you if you stare at my forehead and try to figure out how I got the scar that looks like someone shoved their fingernail into my scull.

It is our scars– as well as our experiences that cause them that define our being. Having a scar allows us to reflect on our experiences and know that we are able to recover from our injuries and tell the tale.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

D. …Richard Nixon

Many times my wife wants something to drink, but is unsure what. So, with inspirations from: Whose Line is it Anyway - The Millonaire Show I then proceed to ask what she would like:

  1. …T:
  2. …D:
  3. …C:
  4. …Richard Nixon:

I know what each of these choices are, but do you…

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dichotomy of Chicago character

You can always tell a lot about a person based on the choices they make. Interestingly I found that living in Chicago there are several choices that are unique to the city itself. I have included some others that are more universal to round out the field. In order to not show any bias or correlation to the choices, I have placed them in alphabetical order. Here they are:
Burger KingMcDonald's
Cat LoverDog Lover
Cubs FanSox Fan
Dunkin DonutsStarbucks
Lou Malanti'sUno's
Sun TimesTribune
If you come up with some others, I welcome them as well. Enjoy

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Welcome to my Blog


I am trying to refine my writing style. I have always found that I have way too much information in my head and need a way of sharing it. Some things I know are quite long and would take too long to explain in a normal conversation. Other things are not the kind of thing that you can fit into a letter easily. This therefore becomes the place where I can just write.

I have divided my blog into several categories, each with a distinct flavor which I will describe below:

I want to be more involved in the world around me. This is to announce those events that I am involved in.
fridays feast
I have created my own meme called Friday's Feast. This is where you can see my feature posts as well as link to what others have contributed.
guest postings
Many times I let others post to my blog when I am away. These are those posts that my guests have submitted on my behalf.
miscellaneous musings
So many things strike me funny. This section is my take on those things that I find either interesting, weird, or just down-right amusing to me.
personal history
I never thought my life was very interesting until I payed more attention to the stories I wrote to others in letters. This category is for telling the stories about things that I have done and experienced in my life.
personal philosophy
I always believe that I have a unique perspective on many things. This is where I define my thoughts and feelings about the world around me.
Like many people— I have also written poetry. Here is where I will share my poetry and any explanation or interpretation I have about it.
I do admit that I am a foodie. But I also know that I love to cook. I think it is the reward that comes with giving that makes cooking for someone such a joy to me. This is where I will share those recipes that I enjoy making so that others may enjoy them as well.
Everybody has an opinion about things… I am no exception. This is where I will review things such as songs, books, movies, and other matters of interest.
I find that there are some things that I write that are not personal stories— but are more fictional in nature. This category contains those things that I have written that are not stories about myself, or things that I find amusing. This will also serve as a category in which I can discuss what writing is to me and how I write.

If there are others, I will also include them on this page, so continue to check this page for updates as they become available.

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