Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kick-Butt Chili

With inspirations from Sis and m2I

My sister had a recipe for Kickass chili— but I never got it from her. I instead modified a standard chili recipe to make it hot. I am currently going to make this recipe for our Chili Fest this year but will be using a larger quantity to try and feed around twenty plus. The recipe below should cover about 4-6 servings. Enjoy.

Kick-Butt Chili:
1 lb of Hot Italian Sausage
1 Yellow Onion
2 Jalapeno Peppers
1 Large Can Crushed Tomato (28oz)
1 16oz Can of Kidney Beans
1/2 Jar of Hot Salsa
  1. On Medium Heat, crumble the Italian sausage and cook in a large pot.
  2. Chop the onion and peppers and add to the pot.
    you may want to use latex gloves while handling the peppers.
  3. Once the onions are transparent, add the can of Crushed Tomato.
  4. Add the Can of Kidney Beans.
  5. Add about half the jar of Salsa.
  6. Simmer on Low, stirring occasionally.
  7. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Writer's Workshop: OK Bridgford

When I was in college I wrote a poem for our poetry professor just for fun. This is another example of one of my six lined poems where the first two pairs of lines rhyme— the fifth line rhymes with a word in the sixth, and the sixth line rhymes with the first two. I am using this poem for Mamma Kat's Writer's Workshop

2.) Write a poem for your favorite teacher of all time.
I don't know if she was my favorite teacher of all time— but at least I wrote a poem about her.

Oh— K Bridgford is her name
passing out tons of paper is her game.

She makes us stuff our folders so thick
we wonder if her real name is St. Nick.

But keep the classes going with fun and wit
so we can sit and share in your fame.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The night the lights went out in Georga

I guess the Decepticons are on to me

It appears that once I edited my last post to clarify a few things, the power went out at the office. Theories abounded from "a garbage truck that just pulled out before the lights first dimmed" to "perhaps the city couldn't get their snow plow started and they had to get a jump". The latest rumor was that a transformer blew and knocked out power for several blocks. Oh oh… I think the're on to me.

You find some interesting things when the power is out. Going to the bathroom was like entering Mammoth cave in pitch black— having to feel around for everything. I went into the break room to get a glass of water from the cooler and had to gauge how much water was in the glass based upon the pitch being generated by glass being filled.

Later we were told that we had to evacuate— which wound up not being much fun either because the emergency lights in the stairwell were out. Luckily the firemen where there with their flashlights to guide the way to the lobby.

Eventually it was learned that it would be several hours before the power went back on and we were told to go home. I don't know… what with Kitchen Sink-Gate and now this— CaJoh doesn't lead such a borring life after all.

Wordful Wednesday: Optimus Primer

When I went sailing on Lake Michigan with a friend last summer I looked at the old stove that they had in their cabin. To my amazement I noticed that one of the buttons was labeled Optimus. I got a chuckle out of that and had to take this picture.

If you are familiar with the Transformers then you may get the joke. Optimus Prime is one of the main characters (a semi truck that can transform into a plane or something). Why then would Optimus Prime transform himself into a button on a boat… I ask you?

Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 Chili Fest

If you like chili, the Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church will be hosting their annual chili fest. I am including the information on how to get there if you like chili:

Children 10 and under $5.00
Hot, mild or vegetarian

Saturday, January 31, 2009
4-7 pm
Ravenswood Fellowship United Methodist Church
4511 N. Hermitage
Chicago, IL

I look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Familiarity Factor

Don't I know you from somewhere before

Do you ever notice that there are some people that you recognize and never bother to learn what their name is. These embarrassing situations are not entirely your fault. Sometimes you get to know someone and never ask their name. Other times you may recognize someone but never talked to them. In either case— the term "Familiarity Factor" comes into play.

So often I find myself seeing people in other locals and wonder… "where do I know them from"? The sense of recognition is so strong that we must tell ourselves that we know them well— but then are perplexed when we can't think of either their name or where we know them from. What is even more embarrassing is when you have to introduce someone— but have forgotten what their name is as well as where you know that person from. Sometimes our pride gets in the way and we neglect to pull the person aside and ask… which makes it even more embarrassing.

I have taken public transportation for many years now. Because of this I tend to see people standing on the platform or riding on the train— but never speak to them. One would think that you would know the difference between someone you have spoken to and someone you haven't— but I think that the more you see someone the stronger the familiarity becomes. This gets you into trouble when you "think" you know someone and are forced to introduce them. You are then convinced that you do know them and then realize that they don't know you at all… (or never bothered to notice).

I wish that I could have some "personal-assistant" by my side whispering in my ear… "That's Jane Doe— you never ever spoke to her and don't know her real name because you only saw her on the train platform twenty years ago when you were in college".

Friday, January 23, 2009


When I first wrote this poem I was completely unaware of ASCII Art. The original is on a piece of graph paper with numbers next to the letters to indicate how many spaces to use when typing out the poem. I really love the fact that it spells out the word LOVE.

Love is a magical word
It can take any broken heart and make amend

It's a good word anyone can use
to be a good friend.

   ItC   anT
    a   keAny
       Br   ok
       en   He
       ar   tA n
        dMak  eI
         tMe  n
             I    t's
             a   Go
             odWo   r
                 anU  se
                ToB e  AG
                 oo    d


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inspiration and Motivation

We live in a time of inspiration
but without motivation our dreams will never be made real


I used to use the words inspiration and motivation interchangably. After some pondering I realized that they are related to one another— but are quite different from one another.

So often we are inspired to do something either by something we hear or witness. This is the spark that makes us realize that something is a possibility and that we could actually do it. I am inspired many times by the posts that I read to write a post myself.
No matter what others may say— you cannot truly motivate someone. You can teach them to be responsible and self reliant— but motivation comes from within. We are all self-motivated in that we choose to do what we intend to do when we choose to do it.

All of us can be inspirational to others— but we never know if we inspired anyone. Being an educator we were told that you may be an inspiration to your students, but you may never know who you inspired or to what degree. Perhaps a student may come back and tell you that you inspired them to become what they are— but that is usually rare.

What may be even more rare is that your inspiration actually motivated someone to do something. I know that many people indicated in my recent post about Warm Milk that they would try making it. I am now curious as to if they were motivated enough to go through with their inspired intentions and made it.

Yesterday many were inspired by the speech made by our now 44th president at his inauguration. We now have to motivate ourselves to follow through with our inspirations and make those inspirations real.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday's Tribute: The Lampworker

Since Tuesday's Tribute is NOT about me— I have chosen to highlight on my wife the lampworker. Now… before you think that my wife fixes lamps I need to clarify what lampworking is. According to Wikipedia: "Lampworking is a type of glasswork that uses a gas fueled torch to melt rods and tubes of clear and colored glass".

My wife has a love for glass. Many times she told me that she would love to learn glass blowing— but she never knew of a place that she could afford to take classes at. Once she found out that the Lill Street Art Center had glass bead making classes, she jumped at the chance to get her hands on it (not literally of course). I asked her why she likes glass bead making and she said it is very similar to other forms of glass making— but glass bead making allows you to work in miniature… and she loves miniatures. You can finish a bead a lot quicker than other forms of glass— so there is more of an instant gratification because you can take home your creation without having to wait overnight for the piece to cool as you would with larger pieces. Glass is very organic to her in that it flows and has a life of its own in its molten state. Working in a 3D medium is a challenge to her because all the other mediums that she has worked with up to this time is 2D (pen and ink, charcoal, watercolors).

Rather than explaining her work— I thought I would let her work speak for itself. Below are a few pictures that I found that represent some of the pieces that she has created over the years:

Beach series— from Beads

Beach series—from Beads

Bottle series— from Beads

Blue bottle— from Beads

Icicle— from Beads

Unfortunately she now has a full time job which means she doesn't have the time she would prefer to be at the studio and create more beads. It would be nice if she could work at home, but we don't have a place set aside in our townhouse for her to work at home— besides she may be a bit weary of torches after our recent Kitchen Sink-gate fiasco.

Tuesday's Tribute
Yet Another Jay and Deb Production.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hey… do you need a ride

Inspired by Three Boys One Mommy's post about 6 degrees of separation— I have decided to talk about our connection to Mandy Patinkin.

Living in Chicago, my wife and I don't see as many celebrities as people we know in New York or Los Angeles. The only time we may see someone is if we go to a book signing. We have an inside joke amongst ourselves that we should be more sociable and offer the person a ride or something just to actually meet them— but being the shy people we are we never do.

When visiting my wife's sister and brother-in-law in LA, we stayed two blocks from Hugo's— one of the restaurants they own and run. One morning when we came into visit, our brother-in-law sat us down and proceeded to point out the celebrities dining with us at the time.

"Over there" he began… "is Susan Anton— and over there is Mandy Patinkin. We proceeded to finish our breakfast and just hung around (because we had no where else to go)— when we saw Mandy out in the parking lot looking like he was waiting for something. One of us said to the other "Perhaps he needs a ride"… how apropos is that.

Shoot… why is it when we have a golden opportunity— something has to stop us (we didn't have a car, nor could we steal our brother-in-law's car to actually give him a ride). We were pretty sure that he secured a ride anyway since we saw him on his Cell phone at one point— so we let it go.

After I got back from LA, I told this story to one of my co-workers when they asked me how my vacation went. Upon hearing the name Mandy Patinkin they added "Oh, Mandy Patinkin— he's my uncle"… what a small world. I never bothered to ask if they talked to Mandy and relayed the story— but it is nice knowing that you know someone who has an uncle who is famous.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Writers Workshop: Profound Innocence

With prompting from Mamma Kat… I have decided to go with the following:
1.) Describe your significant other's most attractive quality (on the inside)

I don't know what it is about my wife— but there are times that she can make a statement about something that is apparently obvious that I find most endearing. Every now and then I hear her exclaim things like: "I have feet!"… or even: "I'm moving without moving!". It is not so much the statement itself— but the conviction that she uses when she says them that I find so great. It's as if she discovered something for the first time and needs to exclaim it to the world to make sure that they know that she knows.

The statements themselves are innocent enough… but then you realize just how profound she can be without even trying. This profound innocence is something that shows the depth and beauty of her that I always found fascinating to which I cannot help but smile every time she does.

Sending warm thoughts your way

Since it is predicted to be one of the coldest days in several years in Chicago— I thought I would tell the story of how I fared during the heat wave of 1995.

By the time Friday, July 14th rolled around I was used to the routine of having to deal with the heat. I always tried to be resourceful and stay in any air conditioned places as much as I could. That Friday, I decided to go to Jewel and do some grocery shopping, then perhaps catch a movie at the nearby Davis theater. By the time I got home I noticed that the power was out. Thinking quickly, I put the meat I just bought into the freezer in hopes that it will remain cold— then proceeded to go see a movie.

On my way over to the movie theater I noticed the Daily Bar & Grill and decided that I would go there for dinner after I saw the movie. I do not remember what I saw… I guess it doesn't matter what you watch— if only for that few hours of cool. After the movie I went to the Daily to get a bite to eat. I was worried that the power wouldn't be on there as well, but I did not have to worry. I bellied up to the bar and ordered my usual drink combination of a glass of beer and a shot of Amaretto— I do this as a gauge to myself to determine how much drinks cost… besides, if you pour the shot into the beer it tastes like Dr. Pepper. I also ordered a burger— then proceeded to finish all of it and went home.

You have to realize that I lived on the third floor of a three story walk up and I did not have air conditioning in my apartment. Because of this, there was never a day that my apartment was cooler inside than out— EVER. Luckily the power was back on and I could take a quick bath, lay out some bedding on the floor in the living room, adjust the clip-on fan to point towards my feet, and call it a night.

Sometime around 3 am I woke in a sweat and realized that the power went out again. Without my cooling system I was dying and couldn't sleep. The only place that was cooler was out on the back porch— so I grabbed a pillow and proceeded to sleep on the porch.

I was gently awakened around 5 am by the rattling of the El train as it curved by where I lived. Suddenly a light bulb went on and I realized I could sleep on the train. The train line that is by my apartment goes all the way downtown and around the loop and comes back. I then proceeded to catch the train and sleep for the entire round trip.

I stopped by Jewel before I got home to just walk the aisles and delay the inevitable. By the time I got back to my apartment I noticed that the power was still not on. Being concerned I called a friend to see if I could store my newly bought meat in their freezer until my power got back. They were shocked that I was without power and offered for me to stay the day at their place so that both me and my groceries could get cool.

By the time I got back to the apartment in the evening the power was restored. I called my friend to let them know the power was back and to bring the meat by on Sunday— (I didn't want them to eat my meat). I then proceeded with my typical evening routine and went to bed.

Sunday afternoon I went back to the Daily to see what it is like when it is not so crowded. The same bartender was working that day and he immediately asked if I wanted a glass of beer and a shot of Amaretto. I must admit that this is the sign of a great bartender— to be able to remember a drink that a customer ordered two days afterwords is pretty amazing.

From what I understand the power was out for 18 hours strait— thank goodness I had my backup plans. All in all I think I was pretty resourceful and managed to make it through one of the deadliest weekends in Chicago History.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Warm Milk

Tuesday's Tribute
Yet Another Jay and Deb Production.

With inspirations from Mrs. Mackinac

There are times when the beverage of choice is D. …Richard Nixon— and my wife wants a warm mug of milk before going to bed. Here is how I usually make warm milk:

Warm Milk:

1 Good size Mug
Enough milk to fill above mug
1 t Vanilla Extract
1/2 t Ground Nutmeg
1 Spoon (optional)
  1. Find a nice comforting Mug.
  2. Pour enough milk into the mug to fill it well.
  3. Place mug into the microwave and heat on high for 55 seconds.
    don't ask me why I choose weird numbers like that for heating times… that's for another post entirely.
  4. Remove from the microwave.
  5. Pour the vanilla extract into the now warmed milk.
  6. Add the ground nutmeg to the top
    I usually grind it fresh.
  7. Place the spoon into the mug for possible stirring.
  8. Enjoy

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Photo Tag

I got an e-mail Friday morning from Clark Kent's Lunchbox asking to participate in a tag. Even though I don't normally participate in tags (they remind me too much of chain mails)… I figured I would give this one a try since I was already on iPhoto this morning collecting pictures of our dog and could easily do so again. Below are the instructions he gave along with my altercations— since my photos are stored on our Mac and the instructions are for PC:

  1. go to your documents
    launch iPhoto
  2. go to your 6th file.
    go to your 6th Album
  3. go to your 6th picture.
    no changes here… sorry
  4. blog about it.
    or here either
  5. tag 6 friends to do the same.
    I have opted not to do this step. If you want to know why—see below.

OK… great! Here's what I found…

This is a picture of my Step-son Matt (on the right) and some of his classmates at his graduation from Lincoln Tech where he learned to be a mechanic.

Matt has always liked cars. My wife tells me that when he was little he used to line up his toy cars along the window sill and play with them for hours. When I met him he wanted to be a navy pilot— probably because he loved Top Gun. By the time he moved out of the house he was working in the food industry as a line cook. I am sure that he always wanted to work with cars— which is why I was so glad that he took his own initiative and got into Lincoln Tech on his own. He also was resourceful enough to be able to figure out how to pay for his education and be able to graduate on his own with out any assistance from my wife or myself. I am very proud of his accomplishments and staying with what he loves.

As I indicated before, I am not much into taging people— mostly because I do not know my fellow bloggers enough to know if they like to participate in such things— but also because I do not want to feel guilty "breaking the chain". However, if you like this game and want to participate— feel free to do so. If you do because of this post— be sure to mention it on your post by linking back to this one, and let me know so I can feel good about increasing my Sphere of Influence.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Without my love

I didn't write this poem when I was going through a breakup— but I believe that it portrays the feeling one gets when it does. This is a good example of one of my six lined poems— even though the rhyming scheme isn't the way my others are. I particulary like the way I tie the end of one line logically with the next. I'm really proud of this fact— so much so that I attempted this technique in future poems as well.

Without my love my body weeps
within my soul my heart sleeps

Awakened again by cold pain
my body shivers without restrain

I hold my head still to hear a sound
but I only discover there's no one around

I've found my place, I've won no race
I only wish they'd see my space

So who's to say I can't go on
my love is gone… I'm not the one


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wordful Wednesday - Spikester Diddly Dog

In order to fulfill Mamma Kat's Wordful Wednesday Assignment I have chosen to talk about our dog Spike. I don't know what it is about our dog— but I swear he's part Cat, part Mountain Goat, and part Kangaroo. Let me explain:

Part Cat…
Spike loves milk. Whenever I make a warm milk for my wife in the evening, he's right there begging for some. Many times we just pour him a small cupful and he laps it up.
Part Mountain Goat…
One would wonder how a dog can balance on the arm of the sofa— but he does. Because of his prowess we have to wonder who his parents actually were… since we got him from the pound there is no record as to what actual breed he is.
Part Kangaroo…
I have not seen this in many dogs— but when Spike is excited he will get up on his hind legs and thrust his front paws in a circular motion much like a boxing kangaroo. He will also hop if he is on a leash which makes us wonder…

With all of these strange traits I would like to know what creatures his parents were…

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday will be your lucky day

When I was in High School I was riding with my sister who upon seeing a car with one headlight turned to me and said: "pick a day of the week"— to which I replied: "Tuesday", then she said: "then Tuesday will be your lucky day". I don't know why… but every time after that I've always picked Tuesday as my lucky day.

Being the detail oriented person that I am I have to try and quantify the ritual and determine if the right or left light being out has any significance on the luck granted— or if the slate gets wiped clean after a lucky day occurred. The same adherence to the ritual I also apply to fortune cookies— does seeing your fortune immediately when you open the cookie make any difference if your fortune comes true or not.

I don't consider myself to be a superstitious person, but I always wondered if any Tuesdays were lucky for me. Looking back on the lucky days in my life I never saw any that occurred on a Tuesday— meeting my wife (Sunday)… proposing to my wife (Saturday)… marrying her (Saturday again)… you get the picture. But now I can say that both my luck and fortune were granted on a Tuesday. That was the day that we were fortunate to not have our townhouse burn down… and lucky enough to not have any damages because of it. If you want to read the details you can read my post Kitchen Sink-Gate which hopefully explains things better.

I will still wish on cars with one headlight out and still say "Tuesday" to myself even if all of those previous wishes were granted that particular Tuesday.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Moving without moving

One day while I was driving my wife turns to me and says: "look at me…" at which point she freezes with her eyes wide and her mouth half open then says: "I'm moving without moving!" At the time it seemed very much in jest— but I am amazed as to how profound she actually was. Besides the fact that we were driving along while she froze her pose— there was a lot of other moving without moving going on.

Even if we stopped and she froze her pose, you have to realize that the earth is rotating. Then you have to take into consideration that the earth is orbiting around the sun— the solar system is orbiting around the center of the galaxy— the galaxy is moving relative to the super-cluster— the super-cluster is moving relative to other super-clusters and the overall shape of the universe. And if you believe in the concept of multiverse, our universe is moving relative to other universes. That's a lot of movement… but wait there's more…

All of the blood in her posed body is moving around the body nourishing the cells which are growing constantly. The blood itself is made of molecules which move around within the cell walls of the blood cell— the molecules are made of atoms which move within the molecule— the atoms are made of sub-atomic particles which move about within the atom… etc., etc. And if you believe in the cyclical nature of things— then those sub-sub-atomic particles could also be universes… things that make you go hmmm.

So… no matter how hard you try you will always be moving without moving. My wife and I heard the term "stillness illness" which is the nauseous feeling you get when you have been moving for a long time then stop. I wonder what would happen if everything really did stop moving— how ill we all would be…

Friday, January 2, 2009

Looking ahead and back

Look ahead— but not to reminiscently…
…and look behind— but not to dreamy-eyed…
And your present will be truly fulfilling.cj85'

Looking at what I have lined up in my drafts— I need a bit of a push to get started on some of my proposed topics. I have decided to present them to you to give you a look back and a look ahead. Those which have a URL are those that I have already covered— don't worry if the actual name of the post differs from the topic listed, I kept it that way so you can see how I proposed the topic to myself. The first list without a URL (-Visual, Audio, Physical, Spiritual Communication) is one I am currently working on that will be five separate posts. All the rest I want to write about, but would like to know what sounds interesting to you so I can focus on those you want to hear.

Looking at what I have lined up in my drafts— I need a bit of a push to get started on some of my proposed topics. I have decided to present them to you to give you a look back and a look ahead. Those which have a URL are those that I have already covered— don't worry if the actual name of the post differs from the topic listed, I kept it that way so you can see how I proposed the topic to myself. The first list without a URL (-Visual, Audio, Physical, Spiritual Communication) is one I am currently working on that will be five separate posts. All the rest I want to write about, but would like to know what sounds interesting to you so I can focus on those you want to hear.


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