Car Wars Episode 6 – The Breakdown

My car is now over 12 years old.  And in car years, that's no spring chicken.  But, it's lived a sheltered life, either in a car port or in a garage.  And talk about pampered!  It only has about 62,000 miles.  But it's made it very clear in the last month that it is hitting a (hopefully) mid-life crisis.

So, as I was feeling the car acting a little funny in low speed corners, so the evening of the zoo trip, we took it to the mechanic to get looked at:

  • Engine mounts (The cause of the steering issue)
  • Rear shocks & struts
  • Brakes
  • Rear tires resealed.  (Aluminum rims = Slow leaks)

We pick it up the next day, pay our $1,200 bill, and get in the car.

It won't start.  Battery will turn it over, but it won't catch.

  • Timing belt.  Mechanic says if it had broken while driving down the road, the engine would have seized up and I would have been looking at a replacement engine.  That's another $400.

Then, 2 weeks later, we are driving around on a Saturday when I try to turn on the air.  It's blowing warm air.


So, we go to the calling hours for the husband on my mom's best friend from high school trying not to sweat in the car or get too windblown from the open windows and sunroof in the process.

  • A/C condenser.  That's another $875 into the pit.

So, on the drive home, we turn on the air, and it's blowing cool-ish air.  No way I'm dropping that kind of coin on cool-ish air.  For almost $900, I want the freakin' polar vortex coming out of my vents.  So back to the shop it went.

  • Gasket on new AC leaked out coolant – Free!

So far everything's working, but I'm keeping an eye on it.  With a book value around $3,000, I've basically bought the car again in the last month.  (A tank of gas made up the difference.)  With a daughter heading into college in a year, I'm really going to need this car to hang on another 5 years or so.

So, Memorial Day weekend, we drive down to Southern Indiana for a cousin's graduation.  We're 300 miles out of town on a hot weekend, and guess what?

The AC goes out!  AGAIN!

That was a looooong drive home.


Old Meme's Never Die

I've really been slacking recently after being on a slightly decent run, so here's a quick* meme for your Saturday.


* "Quick" – I probably spent about an hour finding the base template, determining the joke (I was originally going to go with the "Blue Beetle" but then realized that he might not be famous enough), and then getting the lettering correct (this is one of the few valid uses of Comic Sans, as it is a comic), and then ghosting in the "SCOPE-TECH" so if I see this somewhere else, I'll know.

And I thought I would give you, my blog followers, the chance to view this masterpiece before I release it to the plebs on Facebook.


The New Zoo Review

Over spring break, Cora and I needed to get "The Daughter" out of the house to prevent her bottom from grafting to the sofa.  So, I took a day off of work, and we headed to the Brookfield Zoo.  We've done zoo trips before.  We like zoos.  We've hit Chicago's other zoo, The Lincoln Park Zoo, and the zoo in St. Louis last spring break.

We hit the road early, so we could try to beat the crowd.  After all, it was spring break, so everyone would be taking kids to the zoo to get them out of the house.

I coaxed the car down there (it'd been behaving a little odd, and I'd planned to take it in later in the week.), and were a little surprised pulling into the parking lot.  There were a handful of school busses there, and some cars, but the place wasn't as slammed as we expected for the spring break week.

As soon as we got in the gate, we notice the giant carrousel, where the mantis appeared to be preying on the gorilla's arse.


The giraffe, overlooking the whole affair, is above this sort of behavior.


It was a cool spring day, but after the winter we'd just made it through, it was nice to be out in the sun.  And the animals felt the same way, too.  And that's no lion.

It's a tiger.


Since whenever we go any where, Cora usually is the one with a camera in her hands, I do try to sneak an occasional picture of her and The Daughter.  They were checking out the tiger.

Wanna see lions?


Sea lions! Okay, they're grey seals basking in the sun.  But that doesn't work with the joke.  But I did ask the grey seal how did it feel to be so wise. (Elton video)


A little later, I saw a sign warning me that the seals might not be the only things getting wet that day.


Luckily for us, the rhinos stayed along the back wall, and no "lemonade fire hose" action was experienced.


This guy was one of Cora's LEAST favorites.  I guess their weird heads and crazy necks give her the creeps.


Or maybe not, since this guy, with his crazy neck and weird head was her absolute favorite.  We stayed in the giraffe house for a good bit, watching them lick the tops of poles and whatnot with their insane Miley Cyrus tongues.


So I had to do my thing and try to take a picture of something framed by a foreground object.  This "little guy" was still HUGE!


And now we come to the part of the show entitled:




And we resume our walkthrough is a picture of me, taking a little break from all the walking we've been doing.


And The Daughter hopping and hoping for a prince.  Or at least that our pet frog was this sized.


And before we said, "after while" to the zoo, we had one more place to explore:


The planet of the apes.


But before we did, the girls had to ogle a colorful peacock.


We watched the gorillas fro a while.  I might be hard to see, but the mother ape that is sitting down, has a baby in her arms.


Yes, this is the same habitat where, on August 16, 1996, a 3 year old boy fell in to the gorilla enclosure.  One of the female gorillas protected the boy until zoo personnel could rescue the boy.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find an embeddable video.  So, click HERE if you want to see it.

But, since I know you want to see some monkey business, here's some video I shot.  With my favorite monkey putting in a cameo.

It was a really good day.  We'd taken a lunch and ate it in the car, so saved some serious coin.  And the crowds we were expecting never materialized, so it was like we had the place mostly to ourselves, which was awesome, too.

And after we got home, we took the car up to the shop to see what some of the weird things that it had been doing were and what could be done about them.

But that's a story for another day.


What Day Is Today?

My name is short,
  In letters on 3.
Say it twice,
  And a drum I'd be.

Who am I?*

On this day, May 2, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts was won by the forces of light.  So, if you see some oddly dressed people cavorting and galumphing about, relax.  Wish them a good day, and pay no attention to the nargles.


(These people aren't going to be happy much longer, trust me.)


* And the answer is "Tom".  That there is a genuine "Tom Riddle".


The New View Review

So, I've been sitting at my new desk in at work for a couple of weeks now.  There are some pros and some cons.

But a lot more pros than cons.

Our department has gone through a huge re-org, and so we were shuffling people all over the floor.  The 3 seats in this corner weren't really being used, so I petitioned the director doing the floor chart if my team could move it.  She and I have known each other about 25 years, and I ask few favors.

More than the windows and view, I really wanted to move out of the "cube and aisle" and into a more open arrangement.  The team can talk and interact without disturbing the rest of the floor.

But since this is as close to a "corner office" as I'm ever going to get, I must say, the view doesn't suck.


Now, I'm not sure if later in the summer, the setting sun coming down the street will super heat it, forcing me to draw a shade, or in the winter all the windows will freeze me out, but for now I have settled, more or less, and it is good.


The secondary computer is the one in the corner.  I rarely use it.  My primary one has the nicer screen and the shade behind it to reduce distractions.


Like this reflection of a flapping American flag in the building across the street.



So, yesterday, I'm heading into the office late.  I drove The Daughter to school because she wasn't feeling to well and fought to wrap up a work project that I'd been dealing with since Friday morning.  Successfully dropped off the daughter.  Failed to resolve the work issue.  (Finally beat the work problem around 7:20 pm, if you were wondering.)

Anyway, checking work email on my phone while riding the L, and there's an email from one of the secretaries in IT, congratulating "Matt D." on the birth of his first child.

"Man, am I out of touch, " I thought to myself, "I didn't know he was even dating anyone seriously, let alone expecting a child.  I really need to mingle more at work."

Then came the correction email.

"Matt J." and his wife had the baby.

Oooops!  (They are both tall, thin, used to work on the same team and sat next to each other.  People get them confused a lot, but still.)

As serious adults who work for a major law firm, we did the proper thing, and brutally hazed him all day.

So, when I thought my day was $hitty, I just looked at the Photoshopped picture of Matt D's head on a baby's body, and I felt a whole lot better.

What's the email you wish you could "un-send"?


Let's Talk For A Minnow

Many days when I go to work, I pass this sign:


Newton Minow.

Former Chairman of the FCC under Kennedy, who gave the famous "Vast Wasteland" speech back in 1961:

When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.

Nope?  Never heard of it?  Not a fan of 50 year old political speeches?  Neither was the TV producer Sherwood Schwartz.  Who named a boat after Newton.  You may recognize it.


Minow also was in the paper recently.  A life long Democrat (besides the Kennedy connection, he's also known President Obama since at least 1988) recently went public with the fact that he was going to support a Republican for Illinois Governor this year [LINK].  (I can't really explain the shape that Illinois is in to you here, just imagine that ship up there without the comfy isle to rest on.)

But what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?


Well, if you look at the building behind the sign, and follow the stop light pole up to the 11th floor (slightly out of the frame, I know), you will see the corner spot where my desk is.

I'll try to get a good picture of it and post it soon.

Hey, this regular blogging stuff is kind of fun.  Come on in, the water's great!


We're (sigh) People of Walmart

Last Sunday, (well, I'm writing this on Sunday, so a week ago today), The Daughter got a bee in her bonnet and really wanted to get an expansion pack for her Sims 3 game.  It's called "World Adventures".  We needed to run to Best Buy, so we checked there, and they didn't have it.  (It's one of the first expansion packs they put out, so it's really not surprising they didn't have it.)  We also tried GameStop, but struck out there, too.

Brick and mortar was given their shot, so we turned to the internet.  If it can find me the love of my life (see yesterday's post), it should be able to find a video game.

We found it on eBay, Amazon, and Walmart.  Walmart was way cheaper than it was anywhere else, so we bought it.


As an added bonus, Walmart will ship free to any UPS Store for free.  Which is cool.  There's a UPS Store across the street from The Daughter's school.  They delivered it Friday, but we didn't pick it up until Friday.

And we opened it up only to discover that it wasn't the game, but the guide to the game!  In my haste, I guess I failed to notice the "Format: Paperback" and the 1 x 1 star review that said, "I thought it was a game."



Okay, how do we return this thing?  We can return it to the store, but there's really no convenient store around here.  Fortunately, we were driving down state, and meeting my parents for lunch.  We each drove about an hour and a half and met about half way.  And what do you know, there's a Walmart right across the street from the place we chose to eat.

So, after a nice lunch with Mom & Dad, we all hit Walmart.  I returned the guide book, and then we walked around a bit.  Throwing caution to the wind, we went back to the electronics department to see if they had it on the shelves.

We could find the Wii & Xbox games, but there were no PC games to be found, nor was there a sales associate.  We finally tracked one down and he took us into the shoe department and showed us the half aisle of PC games and shoes.


And that's where The Daughter almost hyperventilated.  She found what she was looking for in a multipack, with another expansion pack that she wanted, too, for only $4 more.


So, Walmart managed to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, and we're the "Cyber People Of Walmart".


Throw Back Thursday–I'm 5 Years Old Today


Here's a throw back picture.  It's from about 5 years ago.  More correctly, 5 years and a day.

Five years ago today, I boarded an airplane and flew 2,000 miles for a first date.  Looking back on it, it might seem like we took a big chance.

Not really.

On our second date (part of which is pictured above), I was pretty sure I'd met "the one" and just had to figure out how not to screw it up.  And, despite all historic president, I didn't!

Cora, you are, without a shadow of a doubt, the most wonderful woman, and the absolute perfect one for me.  I kind of feel like I was born on the day we met.  You and our daughter have enriched my life beyond anything I could have imagined.  Thank you for taking this adventure with me.

And that's why I'm in the middle of doing something that I haven't done since March of 2011: Posting 5 weekdays in a row.  This blog is how we met.  I can't let it go.  Even if almost no one reads it any more.

You do.

Even if you are sitting across the room, and I can walk over and kiss you (heck, I just did), I also need to see you out here, too.  Because I love you and I love this part of us.

And here are the links to those posts from 5 years ago:

[Post 1], [Post 2], [Post 3], [Post 4]


Now That's Tight

*** Spoiler Alert ***

If you haven't seen 'Captain America: Winter Soldier' and/or 'Agents of SHIELD', stop reading now.

I don't know how may of you watch 'Agents of SHIELD' or catch the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies.  (Honestly, since I have about 1 regular reader, my wife, I actually do.)  But if you are even following it a little; you've heard of their next movie: "The Guardians of the Galaxy"

and are scoffed at the idea of Rocket Raccoon.


Even I was concerned until April 8th's episode of 'Agents of SHIELD'.

That's when, after watching "Cap II" on Sunday, with the fall of SHIELD, the TV show on 2 days later didn't merely reference the movie, but took place during the action of the movie.  And it was probably more intense than the movie, and kept you guessing right up to the last minute.

After seeing that, I don't doubt that Marvel has a map for the movies going out to 2028.

And if you are into the MCU movies, I would urge you to try to find one hour out of your Facebook time to add A.o.S. to you DVR.  They started off dealing with the repercussions of the "Avengers" movies and now are dealing with the fall out from "Cap II".  So it's really woven in.  But they also are dealing with their own plot threads and in house characters.  There are some cross-overs; Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and Lady Sif have already made appearances.  And they are digging into the Marvel character roster of their own, and have a long running thread with Deathlok.

You won't regret it.

(Hail Hydra!)


A Very Taxing Day


It's tax day (April 15th) here in the good ol' United States of America.

And it appears that if you can't pay your taxes, they may take your spleen in trade.

And the H&R Block "Get Your Billion Back, America" campaign if funny.  They said, that self filers left an average of $460 on the table.  We had H&R Block do our takes.  They charged us over $300.

Seems like they are less interested in you getting your billion back vs. them getting their grubby hands on the lion's share of it.

But, our tax man reminded us of "Piglet" from "Winnie the Pooh", so there's that.

I hope today isn't too taking my friends.


Fail to the Chief

Anybody running a "dead pool"?  If so, I want to enter in Keith "Chief Keef" Cozart.  He's an Chicago rapper that will STUN everyone if he makes it to 21.  I'm not sure a week goes by that he's not in the news somehow.


The Tribune just ran a Chief Keep timeline [LINK].  Since I know you are lazy, here's a recap.

1995-08-15 – Born

2011-01-27 – Arrested and charged with the manufacturing and distribution or heroin.  Well, he'd already dropped out of school.  Gotta do something, right?

2011-12-02 – Charged with 3 counts of aggravated assault with a firearm on a police officer.  Sentenced to 18 months probation and home confinement.

2012-06-16 – Signed a $6,000,000 record deal.  Money should solve all his problems.

2012-07-07 – Pitchfork Music Festival shows a video of Chief Keef at a gun range.  Oh well.  Boys will be boys. I'm certain nothing will come of this.

2012-07-16 – Chief Keef performs at the Pitchfork Music Festival.  It's a local music festival, not as big as Lollapalooza, but..

2012—08-04 – He performs at Lollapalooza.  Man, boom, boom!  He's on a roll.  Nothing can stop Chief Keef now.

2012-08-18 – Arrested and charged with possession of marijuana while riding in a stolen Ferrari in Florida.  And serving as a bad role model for Justin Bieber.

2012-09-15 – Banned from Instagram for posting a picture of him getting oral sex.  Well, I'm certain he won't miss use social media again.

2012-10-17 – Prosecutors seek to send him to juvie for the gun range video.

2012-10-19 – Police tell Chicago Tribune that Keef is being investigated in regards to the drive-by murder of rival rapper Joseph "Lil JoJo" Coleman.  Well, Keef did dis him on Twitter after after Lil Jojo was gunned down.

2012-12-18 – Chief Keef's first album is released.  Yes, all that happen before he release his FIRST album.

2013-01-02 – Keef is sentenced to home confinement at his grandma's house.  Well, grandma-ma will keep him in line, right?

2013-01-15 – Keef taken into custody due to the gun range video.  Well, that didn't last long.

2013-01-17 – Keef is sentenced to 2 moths in juvie and made a ward of the state.  Like Illinois needs those problems, too.

2013-01-23 – Florida issues an arrest warrant on the pot charges.  Getting an arrest warrant put out on you while you're already in jail is dope, man.

2013-03-14 – Released from juvie after 60 days.  This photo from the Trib shows the 17 year old Keef with his 2 year old daughter as he is leaving.  I'll pause while you do the math.

keef-released-20130314  Picture from Chicago Tribune.

And what are the odds that the little girl was put into a car seat before they drove off?

2013-05-20 – Arrested in Atlanta on pot and disorderly conduct charges.  Release that same day.  Hold on, things are about to get busy.

2013-05-27 – Got caught going 110 on a Chicago Expressway.

2013-06-17 – Fine $531, 18 months probation (again), and 60 hours community service for the speeding.  Then charged with trespassing at an old apartment on May 16.

2013-06-18 – In an oddly music related event, Chief Keef appears on fellow Chicago bad-boy rapper, Kanye West's album, "Yeezus"

2013-09-13 – Held in contempt to failure to pay child support.  Not sure if it is the girl pictured above.  With two cases going on, it's 50/50.

2013-10-15 – Sentenced to 10 days for testing positive for pot.  Released after 8 days on "good behavior".

2013-11-08 – And off to California "rehab" he goes…

2013-11-25 – The DNA comes back, and he's ordered to pay child support.  $2,500 a month for 10 month's (what's up with that?) and a $25,000 lump sum.

2014-02-28 – Released from rehab.  All's straightened out.  Nothing to see here.  Please move along.

2014-03-?? – Avoids eviction by paying $30,000 in back rent.  Understandable.  He's either been in rehab or jail, so it's easy to see why he would forget he was renting a place.

2014-03-05 – Charged with DUI.  Per the police, "There was an odor of burnt cannabis about his presence and in his vehicle and some admission of his use."  So?  It's not like he killed someone.

2014-03-26 – Keef was at his manager's house when a man as shot (but survived.)  Probably just a coincidence.

2014-04-09 – After signing a record deal and getting a $50,000 advance, Keef's cousin, Mario "Blood Money" Hess was shot dead.

My favorite line from his lawyer in another Tribune story is this:

"I think he’s absolutely learning and maturing.  He’s only 18 years old, and people seem to forget that."

Oh, I can definitely see that.


Boom Goes The Room

5:30 AM – That's what the clock says.

It's a Saturday, and I'm wake at 5:30 am?  Uggg.  Well, might as well hit the bathroom.  Cora's breathing deep.  Maybe if I roll out of bed, I can make it without waking her.

So, I roll to the side of the bed, and then… IT HAPPENED…

No, I didn't fart.

No, it wasn't a sneeze that makes you pee a little, either.

The top left corner of the bed gave way, and the bed and box spring and mattress obeyed the law of gravity and plummeted toward the floor.  Luckily the storage tubs under the bed BROKE part of the fall.

And Cora woke up thinking there was an earthquake.

And I was feeling like a fat-ass who just rudely woke his wife early on a Saturday morning.

After we peeled off the mattress and box spring, we discovered that the ledge inside of the side rail on my side had pulled out of the cheap thin nails holding it parallel to the side.  With nothing to support the slat…

So we tried to figure things out.  Who would you call to fix something like that?  We live in a condo.  Should we just ditch the bed and get a new frame?  What should we do for tonight?  Kick The Daughter out to the couch and take her bed?

Then I remembered something…

I walked into the bedroom closet, and behind the door, I grabbed the two 5 fool long, steel "L" brackets, and then went out to the storage locker and got 14 x 1" long wood screws.

With the magic of a (non-laser) level and an electric screwdriver, we attached the new brackets to the inside of the rails, put down the slats, and laid down the box spring and mattress.

I know what you're thinking?  How on earth, in a 2 BR condo, did you happen to have all the supplies you needed to fix this?

Well, the bed we fixed was the one Cora brought into the marriage.  My old bed is the one the daughter is sleeping on now.  Before the move, I thought that THAT bed was going to suffer the same fate, so I got the supplies to fix it.  But then, I decided to remove the screws from the ledge piece, move it down an inch, and re-attach it.  So, I ended up fixing the other bed, and not needing the supplies.

So, they got stowed away for later. 

And when I pulled the exact thing we needed to fix the bed from out behind the closet door, Cora had to make the "Mary Poppins" reference about her pulling things out of her carpet bag.

And that not all the action that we saw in the bedroom this weekend.

We also re-arranged some furniture and put up a shelving unit.

So, what did you break this weekend?


It's A Small World After All


In honor of Disney's "It's A Small World" celebrating it's 50th birthday later in April, I thought I would tell a "small world" story that recently happened to me.  (Yes, that is a picture of the Small World Ride at Disneyland that I took when we went there 2 Thanksgivings ago, thanks for noticing.)

A couple weeks back now, after a 6" snow, I drove The Daughter to school, because I'm a nice dad.  So, instead of my normal "school year" routine of riding the CTA bus with The Daughter, and then continuing on to the L to go to work, Cora and I followed our "summer" routine, where I walk to a different L line through our nice, quiet neighborhood.

As we were walking through the still falling fresh powder, Cora spotted a set of keys mostly buried in the snow.  I had a sneaky suspicion that these keys might belong to a police officer.  Or maybe the spouse of a cop.  Maybe it was the 3 different key tags and whatnots with "Chicago Police" written on them.  I'm not sure.


Not knowing what to do, we hung them on a tree branch, beside the sidewalk where we found them.  Surely someone would retrace their steps and come back looking for them, right?


A week later, they were still hanging there.

So, we did what we were supposed to do, and took them to a local police station.

And that's where the world got small.  Real small.

And here is roughly the conversation I had with the officer behind the counter.  (Names have been slightly altered.  I'm not sure why.)

Scope:  I found these keys in the snow about a week ago on North Cardwell.  Obviously, they belong to a police officer.

Cop (Turning to the two officers behind him):  Hey, doesn't Sweetin live on Cardwell?  Isn't he with the FBI now?

Scope:  Yes, that he lived by WGN.  This was further north.  And I think he moved a while back.  (And thinking "He's with the Secret Service").

Cop:  Maybe their his old man's.  He was a sergeant.  (One of the tags was for a "sergeant")


Scope: Doubt it.  Rod lives over on Melvin.

<End Scene>

So, to recap: 

  • I walk into a random police station.
  • They mention the last name of a guy who hasn't been on the force in 10 years.
  • I know who they are talking about.
  • They mention his dad.
  • I know him, too.
  • "It's A Small World" turns 50 on April 22nd, but will be celebrated on April 10th to avoid conflict with "Earth Day".

Now, this is the City of Chicago, not a suburb or something.  I've only lived in the city since 99, and only been in this neighborhood for 5 years.  My roots aren't that deep.  But I walk into a police station, and they mention the brother and father of someone who I've known since '83?  (Referred to as "The Blonde" in earlier blog stories.)

It is a small world, after all.


Catching Up On Things

So, what have I been up to recently?  I know I haven't posted often.  Heck, no one really has.  I've been kind of MIA since at least Thanksgiving.  Posting now and then, but not really anything.

So, in November, the family took a run down to the Museum of Science and Industry for The Daughter's birthday and saw the Disney Exhibit.  The exhibit had a lot of artifacts regarding Disney's early life (you know he briefly lived in Chicago, right?).  It was pretty cool.  Props and behind-the-scenes artifacts from the earliest years to the present.  LINK

There was a huge promotional drawing Disney made when he was trying to pitch Disneyland to the bankers.


And then there were the costumes from one of my favorite live action Disney movies, The Rocketeer, and one of Cora's, Mary Poppins.

The-Rocketteer MaryPoppins-01

Before Christmas, we had our work Christmas party at the Art Institute.  We actually got to wander around some of the exhibits in the Modern Wing.  I got to see the very interesting "Woman in Tub" and Chairman Mao looking FABULOUS!

Art-Institute-01 Art-Institute-02

We had a great Christmas.  Well, we had a bunch of Christmases (Christmasi?)  One celebration with our little family where I gave her (among other things) a Hedwig purse.  Yes.  That's a purse.  A backpack purse.  No.  She will never use it as such.


We then had a Christmas out in Seattle, where we went downtown and rode the carousel.  The painted horses weren't nearly as pretty as the gals who rode 'em.


Then we had a "snow" fight with this weird fake snow.  It claimed to be biodegradable, but all it really did was make the bottom of your shoes both slick and sticky at the same time.  And I found bits of it inside my coat pocket over a month later.  "Biodegradable"?  "Half-life" is more like it.


Later, we hit Salty's to see the nutcrackers (no, not that thing I did off the high dive in Jr. High.)  This is also the place where I took those Sound pictures of Seattle (LINK)


Then, we went shopping for a Christmas gift for my father-in-law.  You see, over the summer, it became URGENT that one of these be deployed, but he didn't have one.  Only two of those auger things.  Talk about "stirring the pot".


So I got him a good one.  (Yes, I'm a boy.  I have even licked a fly swatter in a store once.)  Needless to say, it was the HIT present of the party.  (No, he's not drunk.  He's English.)


Once we got back, The Daughter got into one of the monster sized peanut butter cups she got for Christmas.  (That's not the only thing she got, punks.)  As you can see, this isn't the peanut butter cup of your youth.


She was giddy with the awesomeness…


Then tried her best to be serious in her "Panic at the Disco" tee.  As you can see, this is a serious hunk of chocolate encasing the peanut butter.  She didn't eat the whole thing in one sitting.  She wrapped it up, and then, with a knife, would carve out an bit as needed.


Then came the Chinese New Year, so I took Cora and The Daughter out to our local "favorite" Chinese restaurant.  (It is our "favorite" but it is also really the ONLY Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood.  Thai?  There's probably a dozen within a mile or so, but only one Chinese joint.)  As you can see, while she's not blogging regularly at the moment, the wife is still taking pictures.


And now on to why I've had trouble blogging recently:  Work.  We've been working on a huge IT project for about a year that went live on 2014-02-22.  In the fall, I was working from 8:00 am to about 6:00 pm.  Then the leaving time started creeping upwards.  7:00 pm.  Then finally 8:00 pm or later.

One thing about leaving work so late this winter, you got to see how the city handled all the snow.  In the picture below, the Bobcats are scooping up piles of snow that the plows have stacked on the curbsides, and depositing them into a dumpster to get hauled off. Not sure where it goes from there.  Years ago, they would just dump it in the Chicago River, but the EPA has banned that practice.


But the place I've been spending most of my time recently is this:


Yes, my desk at work.  With these fabulous shades of grey and black and beige.  The walls do have a bit of faded weird khaki green.


We've been working on a year long IT project.  Over the course of the project, I think we had around 5 different managers, and the project lead was let go.  So my normal 8 – 4:30 job morphed into 8 to 6, then 8 to 7.  And for the last few months, 8 - 8+.  Finally, at the end of February, we went live.  I went into work around 10 am on Friday.  We started part of the conversion at 9:00 pm.  The major part of the conversion started at 11:00 pm.  At about 12:30, I managed to sneak a little nap for maybe 45 minutes while other processes were running.  We made our 7:00 am deadline to get things back up, and I left sometime around 12:30 pm.  Over 26 hours.  I went home and, **GASP**, passed out and took a nap.  And since the project was over, that meant I got to start going home at a reasonable hour.  Or maybe not.

But I  am glad to report that things have eventually mellowed and we've cleaned up most of the issues.  Now on to the next one.  No chance to breathe.  But, soon I will be moving into a new desk with a little different view.  I'll show you that soon.

Since I know all (both) of you trying to figure out what all stuff on the desk is.  Starting from upper left and moving clockwise.


  • Receipt from when I went to jury duty about a year ago.  I started a blog post on that day that is still in draft.  It still needs a few more hours of work.
  • A Venn Diagram on how to do inner and outer joins, some syntax crib notes, et cetera.
  • My sweet, super wide monitor.
  • A picture of Cora and I from our honeymoon.
  • My lunchtime meds.
  • A mouse the same shape as the one I have at home.
  • My reading glasses.
  • Some extra keys, including "PANIC", "EJECT", and "DO PROJECT".  You have no idea have many times I hit that "DO PROJECT" button.
  • My cell, to text the wife around 8 pm to let her know when I should be leaving.
  • A tiki cup that I use for water.  It used to look like THIS before the paint all fell off.
  • A flying monkey.  Yes, a flying monkey.