Happy New Year!


I hope you all have a great New Year's Eve.

2010 set a high water mark for me that will be hard to beat, so 2011 has it's work cut out for it. But then I think, "My life gets better every day," so maybe 2011 will be filled with more awesome than 2010.

Sorry I've been out for the last few weeks, but I'm catching up, and I have some great posts planned for ya'll in the coming weeks. Thanks for sticking around and doing your part to make 2010 a year I will always treasure.


A Moving Tale of Trust for Boxing Day*


In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.

As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.

Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty four years later, Mbembe was walking through the
Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing.

The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant looked at Mbembe as if could see straight into his soul.

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

* Yes, this is a repeat of from the last two Christmases
. But I have to keep up the tradition.
I hope you are had / are having a very merry Christmas.


The Bond Of The Rings

He gently stroked the golden ring on his left hand. An outside observer would think that he was doing it absentmindedly; a nervous tic.

They would be mistaken.

About the ring. About the man. About everything.

The Mage sat in the restaurant among "the Norms" caressing his ring and eating his French onion soup. None would guess that the golden band was Elvin made, imbued with magix by rites, runes, and rituals that were ancient when this world was young.

Along with it's mated pair, the rings bound the wearers in a far more profound way than merely as symbols and tokens. Thru "the Bond of the Rings" as it was known, they were truly soul mates. Able to sense each others' moods and feelings even when separated by a vast distances.

And she missed him. Deeply. She longed to simply be held by him. But those feelings were comingled with feelings or excitement, and of anticipation with the knowledge that soon he would be joining her. So he caressed his ring, sending her calm and reassurance thru the very resonance of the Universe.

He was going to be a little late, but they would be together.


And, through the "Bond of the Rings", they were never really apart.

I had to settle for texting Cora, to tell her I loved her, and that my flight was an hour late taking off.

Sometimes, this Universe sux just a little.

FYI – My plane has landed, and Cora and I are together in Seattle. Merry Christmas!


This Cannot Be Unheard


I know this is old.

I know this is politically incorrect.

But so am I.

Old.  Politically incorrect.

Today is my 45th birthday, and I will be flying out to Seattle after work to see my Cora.  The hug and kiss that await me on the other side of security @ Sea-Tac will be more than enough of a birthday present for me.

Others sharing a December 22nd birthday:
244 – Roman Emperor Diocletian
1962 - "Lord Voldemort" Ralph Fiennes
1975 – M. Jenks of Vita Brevis


47 Seconds – Lost Forever

You want your 47 SECONDS back for watching that?  Stop complaining, I want my 47 MINUTES back creating it.


A Little Winter Escapism

No, this story is not about my wife and (step) daughter running off as the family's advance party to prepare Seattle for my visit. Or something like that.

No, this is the story of some other escapees.

Saturday, while I was out at the doctor's office (nothing special, he just happened to have an open slot on Saturday morning at an office not far from my house), is when it must have happened.

I think they must have gotten the idea a few weeks back when we watched "Toy Story II" & "Toy Story III".

My brass monkeys escaped.

I tracked the slippery simians to the nearby park.

Snow-Monkeys-01I warned them that it has been unseasonably cold this December, but did they listen…

Snow-Monkeys-02"Don't look at me, Boss, I didn't take them."

Snow-Monkeys-03"These them?"

Snow-Monkeys-04 "I'm cold. Can we go home?"
"Hi 'Cold', I'm 'Pretty', nice to meet you."
"No, I'm the pretty one!"


Who Wrote This? Even Steven?

At first I saw this commercial a bunch:

And I thought, "Wow, that's gonna piss Apple off." But then I saw this ad:

Seriously? Do the people at the ad agency also make sure that their kids get the same number of presents for the same value?


He Said – Fool Moon

Over Thanksgiving Saturday, while down visiting my parents, Cora, Gwen, Mom, Dad, & I went over to the village of East Davenport, Iowa. It's a quaint section of town with little shops. It includes and art / frame store, Woodland Gallery, where my mom & dad have done some shopping.

They have gotten a few P. Buckley Moss prints framed, including this one:

Der Weiss Homestead

They also had a fabulous picture of a young Native American woman, refreshing herself in a mountain pool with a big water fall behind her. It was a bit like if you merged these pictures:

Girl at Waterfall Girl at Waterfall - 5 Girl at Waterfall - 4

I kept telling Cora we hadn't decorated our bedroom yet. She wasn't buying it. In any sense of that phrase.


While we were in there shopping, Cora kept picking up this Christmas ornament and admiring it.

She kept looking at it.

Laughing about it.

Showing to every one.

Putting it back down.

Well, the shopkeeper distracted her with a box of Pixies, and a plan formed in my brain. While she and and Gwen were off looking at pictures in one section of the store, I casually walked over to my dad, and said, "Don't say anything, just hand me the keys."

Keys pocketed, I grabbed the ornament box, and tried to find the another one so that if she went back, my secret wouldn't be blown.

No luck. This was the last one. Bauble in hand, I went to the owner, and told him that it was a gift for my wife, and I needed to get this done FAST before she missed me. After he rang me up, I hustled the gift out to my bag in the car, safely stashed.

I'm a sneak.

I returned to the store, and she didn't notice a thing. Whenever we were back in that section of the store, I positioned myself so that she would not really walk past the end of the table where it had been. Eventually, we left the store, and I had pulled it off.

Sunday, when we got back, I snuck the Fool Moon onto her tree. (Yes, there is "Her tree", "My tree", and "Gwen's tree". You got a problem with that?) I was going to wait for her to see it, but I couldn't hold out.

I'm weak.

With the goose hanging right below a mini version of an arcade Pac-Man, I called Cora over to show me how to make it work. She looked at me a little confused. Like she could smell that I was up to something, but couldn't exactly make out what I was up to. So, she fiddled with the Pac-Man, pushed a few buttons, and the famous little Pac-Man ditty started up.

And then I asked her to do it again, but to look 2 inches down and to the right. (Taken out of context, that sentence sound a bit naughty, doesn't it?)

This was followed by a couple little jumps, hand claps, and a sustained squeal of joy.

Papa done good. :-)

To read Cora's take on this, go to HER BLOG.


A Thanksgiving Turkey For Scope?

While down at my parent's house for Thanksgiving, we met up with my sister and her family on Friday evening, and the whole mess of us went bowling.

The bowling alley was this little place with 6 lanes in a small farm near use. The "kitchen" wasn't open per se, but they were able to cook some frozen pizzas.

Only my brother-in-law and niece (who had the flu) were really bowlers. The rest of us hadn't really bowled in years.

The first game I bowled a 103.

The second game, my mom was 2 pins behind me from the 4th frame. Neither of us could pick up a spare. 9. 9. 9. I couldn't lose her. (Just a little competitive.)

Then came the 10th frame.

I'm up first. I've got to at least get a spare so I can get to my bonus ball. I can't leave the door open.

I fire my first ball straight down the lane…


First one I'd gotten all game!

Second ball goes rocketing down the lane…


Oh man, one more strike and I'll have gotten my second "turkey" ever.

Third ball, hurtling down the alley, on a date with destiny.

But Destiny must have been washing her hair, because when the pins stopped flying, the 5 pin stood there like the alley was giving me the finger.

Happy, but disappointed at the same time, I walked back to the seating area where my father consoled me with, "And that third one was the best ball you threw all night."

Thanks Dad.


Hot Dog!

DOG-04 A few weeks back, the girls and I were watching the Food Network's 'Meat and Potatoes', and we saw a feature on a place called "Franks & Dawgs" in Chicago. When then showed the joint, I knew I knew it. It just took me a bit to figure out where it was. It was back in my old neighborhood, but was an Italian beef place called "What's The Beef!" when I lived there.

Anyway, it was right across the street from the Bed Bath & Beyond that we registered at, so one night, when we need to do some shopping down there anyway, we stopped in.

Now, this isn't just your ordinary hot dog joint. (And Chicago is a hot dog town filled with hot dog joints.) This one boasts homemade sausage and a 5 star chef. A sign inside said that even the line cooks had attended culinary school.

Gwen had the simple hot dog. Hot dog. Bun. That's it. She likes her food simple.

I had a dog with andoiulle sausage, and some carnitas on it.

Cora had the brunch dog with smoked bacon, maple mayo, and a fried egg.

And for the table, and an order of chili fries.


  • The bun – More of a mini loaf of bread vs. a standard bun, it is a thick, tasty, artisan roll, grilled in butter. I want to find out where they get these rolls and I want to use them in French toast.
  • Gwen's plain dog – She finished it off and seemed to enjoy it.
  • Cora's "Brunch" dog - "I loved it. The actual dog was, *nah*, okay, but the star of the show was the bread," to quote the wife.
  • Andoiulle sausage – Nice, mild flavor. Good snap on the casing.


  • The chili – Flavorless meat & beans. No sauce. No heat. I wouldn't call it "chili".
  • The fries – Even though they are "twice fried," they just weren't there for me.
  • The rest of my sandwich – Loved the bun. Thought the sausage was pretty good, but the the rest of the sandwich had no real flavor.

While I'm not sure I would normally give a place a good review just based on the bread (wait, I guess I did it HERE), but I will definitely go back and try another one of their dogs.

DOG-06And then I took a slight detour on the way home and took the girls to Dairy Queen for Blizzards. 'Cuz that's the kind of dad/husband I am.

And speaking of hot dogs, this never happened to me in college.


Three Strikes In A Row Is A Turkey

And this is the third Thanksgiving that I've run this particular video.

Can't help it.

Love it.

(The entire episode is available on HULU.)

Enjoy this long weekend with your family and friends and food.

That is if you're living in America.

Sadly, if you are in some other country, it's just "Thursday".

Sorry 'bout that. I'll try to only have one dessert out of respect for you.


Did I Just See That?

Yesterday, my wife, Cora, talked about her Animaniacs slipping one past the censors.  While she was planning that post, we were watching the second season of the Simpson, "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge", when the picture below flashed on the screen.

With a 14 year old daughter in the room, I couldn't just rewind / pause / point / laugh like I wanted.  So I bided my time, and now I'm sharing it with you.

You're welcome.


It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, That Sgt. Peppers…

Well, actually it was 20 years ago today that Milli Vanilla was stripped of their Grammy for not singing their own songs.

Blame it on that skipping record during that live MTV performance.

Blame it on the fact that they didn't have the MP3 on their iPod instead.

Blame it on the fact that Auto-Tune hadn't been invented.

But don't blame it on the rain.


Tech-Talk – Torch

Torch As I have mentioned more than once here, I'm a BlackBerry user. I think I'm on at least my fourth different model.

Maybe fifth.

About two weeks ago, I upgraded to the new BlackBerry Torch touch screen / slider from the first generation Bold. The roller ball was getting a little balky at times, and I was eligible for an upgrade. Plus I needed to get the gals new phones, so it was off to the AT&T store.

I'm not an Apple person. There's no way I would go iPhone. Especially since I ride the L every day, and see way too many people sporting the "cracked screen app". The iPhone may look nice, but it is WAY TO FRAGILE for me. I want something that isn't going to shatter right off.

But enough slagging, on to my Torch review:

But first, I must say, "Yes", that is my Torch, that is my chair, and that is the background I always use.

The Good:

  • It's a Blackberry. It feels like a 'berry. It works like a 'berry. It's a 'berry.
  • The new browser – It does a much better job rendering web pages than the previous incarnation. On the Storm, I couldn't really display my blog's format. The torch handles web pages much better.
  • Battery life – At least for now, I'm getting a full day out of the charge.
  • Optical track-pad – A massive improvement over the track-ball, except it isn't as precise at times, which makes it harder to play Brickbreaker.
  • Camera – The camera on the new phone is a vast improvement.

The ???

  • While I wouldn't describe it as "loose", and the slider action feels smooth and sturdy, when slid out, there seems to be just a little bit of "play" in the top when it's slid out. I'm keeping an eye on it, though.

The Bad:

  • It's a touch screen, so there's ALWAYS fingerprints on the screen.
  • It's a touch screen, and I have decent sized fingers, so I really can't use the touch screen for typing. (Good thing it has a regular keyboard, too.) But, it does make the bonus rounds in Word Mole awesome.
  • Size – It's just a touch smaller than the Bold. I have have decent sized hands, so I don't need "smaller".
  • Micro-USB – I've got mini-USB chords and chargers coming out my ears. Gotta either replace them, or find an adapter* to carry in my bag.
  • Case** – There was no case included in the box.

The Verdict:

All in all, I'm very happy with it. Will probably take it in (there's an AT&T center across the street from where I work) to check on the wiggle in the lid, but otherwise, it's more than just a minor upgrade, this is a nice next generation device. If you're a BlackBerry user & AT&T customer, your should seriously consider this, if you haven't already.

* Radio Shack has a nice little converter plug. Bought 2.

** I also solved the case issue. Seidio made the clip that I used on my Bold. While due to size differences, it wouldn't fit, they just put out their clip for the Torch. My new one arrived in the mail late last week.


Sara Lee Goes "Bimbo" For Dough

Sara Lee has agreed to sell its North American bakery division to Grupo Bimbo of Mexico for $959 million .  Read more HERE.

It's good to see that in this day and age, at least the Mexican Bimbos are willing to put out.


Happy Blogiversary Two Me

 Raise-A-ToastWell, what can I say? It's sure been an interesting two years since I started up Scope-Tech on November 8th, 2008. There have been just over 500 posts (this one is either #505 or #509 depending upon which count you believe) and I can hardly believe how much has changed since I started.

Back then, I had just started a new job, moved into a new condo, and had pretty much given up on meeting "her", so had accepted my lot in life to be "the bachelor". And Scope-Tech was a great way to pass the time while eating dinner alone in front of the computer.

Now? Wow! I married a fabulous woman, have a 14 year old daughter who has boundless potential and is an A #1 good kid, and my dinners are eaten at the dinner table with them.

While I might not be posting as often, please know this:

Before I was a blogger I was a commenter. I take that role VERY seriously. I don't follow for the sake of following. If I read you, I READ you. And I will try to leave a comment if I can think of one that is more than just a "me to" comment. And I (almost) always check that little box so I get the comments emailed to me from all the other people, too. (Sorry VodkaMom, you get too many comments for me to do that.). After all, I didn't meet Cora because of a post that I wrote.  It was because of a comment I left. 

So, I want to call out some folks who were really important in helping me find my blog legs. I don't mean to slight anyone not named, but to highlight these wonderful people here:

Gwen - Everything I Like Causes Cancer - She's like the most excellent and kick @$$ fairy-blogmother a guy could ask for. She's the one who introduced me to blogworld, got me going and introduced me to all her friends out there. And she was the videographer for my proposal video, and the only other person in the building who knew what was going on. The gal is simply ACES.

Candy - Candy's Daily Dandy – Candy took my virginity.  She was the first person to leave a comment on my blog.  She's a great lady, filled with passion for her Red Sox, her Celtics, her Tommy-boy and his Patriots, and helping women find quality beauty products at her Candy Bar.  And when her kids gave their speech at her wedding, I was mentioned by name.  How cool is that?

MJenksVita Brevis – Mr. Jenks left a comment on my second post.  We share a Midwestern upbringing, a love of redheads, a college football team, and even a birthday.  If you have a love for Latin, things going boom, or embarrassing stories of his youthful sex-ploits, check him out.

SassAre You Sassified – What can I say?  Well, if it were Thursday, I could tell you the Things I Want Thursday, which Sass originated.  I've met this lovely lady a few times and let me tell you, she is just like she comes across on the blog.  ||_|, I know.

Sassy BritchesWell okay, Sassy Britches – Another blogger I have met a couple of times.  The first time I met her was shortly before I met Cora in person.  And I honestly think that she was more excited about it than I was.  And I was pretty darned excited, considering that I was flying 2000 miles for a first date.

Dr. ZibbsThat Blue Yak – The good doctor.  The man.  The myth.  The legend.  It was on his blog where I first saw Cora and was lured to her blog.

CoraCoracabana – Any list of bloggers has to include my fabulous, wonderful wife, Cora.  For those of you who have been around these parts for a while, I think a good subtext for this whole blog has been the developing of our relationship from flirty to dating to engagement to marriage.  And let me tell you folks, the adventure has just begun.

So, for those who have been around here from the beginning, for those of you who are reading me for the first time, and for all the folks in-between, thank you.  It's you who have helped given me a life better than I could ever imagine.


A Happy Thought For Friday


My fellow Americans, just think, today as you leave work, "This is the lightest it will be when I leave work for months and months and months."

Standard Time starts Saturday night / Sunday morning. Daylight Savings Time is over.

Set those clocks back.

Enjoy the extra hour of sleep in the morning.

Curse the darkness when you are heading home.


Well, THAT'S Over With…

So now that all the boxes are unpacked, the pictures (mostly) hung, the in-law visits are done, Halloween is done, Gwen's birthday party has been thrown, and October and all it's "B(.)(.)Biness" is over, I suppose it's time to get back to real life, and tell you what's been going on around the here.  So here's a little trip into the time machine, back to the late summer, early fall.

Don't forget your tin-foil hat.


This first picture I had to snap in secret.  You know how it is.  You're out in public and you cannot believe what you are seeing.  In this case, it was during the river cruise that Cora and I took with her father when he was in town delivering her stuff.  While on out Lake Michigan cruise, a man sat next to me, wearing those shoes.  Let me correct that: an adult male.  I really have to question the manhood of anyone wearing a pointy toed, cloth slipper in public in the middle of the day.  But, more of an explanation than a defense, he was European.

For Labor Day, we went down to Kewanee, IL for "Hog Days".  It's a classis small town summer-fest.  Carnival, midway, parade, and pork burgers.  Yeah, I'll get to them last.


The Hog Days parade is a classic.  And now, instead of being 15 miles from my parent's house, it's about 1.5 blocks.  You have to get to the park early to stake out your spot.  The parade is full of local high school marching bands, antique farm equipment, floats, Shriners, fire trucks, and a huge septic truck with "Yesterday's Meals On Wheel" written on the side.

And then there are some of the "novelty" entries.  There is actually someone HOGDAYS-06in that little ambulance, driving along the route.  Now, I'm really not sure what's going on with the guy in the purple Prowler.  I took the picture, because one of my uncle has a purple Prowler.  But I hope he doesn't have a blond wig.

The parade was full of nostalgia for me, and more tractors than Gwen & Cora had ever seen in all the parades in their lives wrapped in one.  But eventually, the parade ended with the horses, and we took off.

The next day, we had a little reception for our marriage for a lot of friends and family that couldn't make it out to Seattle.  On the way home, we saw this sign:


Nice.  Isn't publicly humiliating a 16 year old girl your definition of "love", too?

After the party, the girls and I headed up to the carnival.


I shot about 20 pictures while they were on the swings.  This the closest I got to a good picture.


And then Gwen and I got ready for our ride on the Ferris wheel.


By the look on Gwen's face, I can only imagine she was having a good time.  I, personally, was just starting to get motion sick when the ride ended.

But I recovered my appetite just in time for one of the great, simple pleasures of life:
The pork burger sandwich. That dude, (well, one that ISN'T half eaten) runs you an entire $1.50.  I had two.  And one of the $3.00 butterfly pork chop sandwiches.  And I relearned a lesson from my youth: the pork burgers are better.

That's some of what's been going on around here.

Catch you up more in a bit.



-- Pssst… You can take the tin foil hat off.  I was just kidding.


Happy Halloween

And now, a return of the drunk Ewoks.  It gets pretty good after the 2:00 mark.


The Big Wicked Online Pageant

And sneaking in at the last minute for Beckeye's "The Big Wicked Online Pageant" is Scope!

I don't have any Halloween pictures of myself from my actual youth, so I'll make up for that by posting a few others, besides my official entry. And if you happen to judge me on my "body of work", well, how can I stop you? :-P

WICKED-Scope-Pilot-2 WICKED-Scope-Pilot-1
"The Pilot" is my official entry. I made the shirt with a lot of ribbon and a lot of liquid fabric glue. If you look closely on the left, this is the picture in the ID that's by the tie. If you look even closer, the T-Shirt that is underneath is "Air Flying Monkeys"
Scope-Super Fan 1 WICKED-Scope-Ref
"Super Fan" is a costume I've done a few times. Mix and match sports clothes, and the basketball helmet. Yes, that's the brush off an ice scrapper. The current one uses a rainbow wig. "The Ref" there were a pair of those "Geek Glasses" that went with it, but the distortion effect was giving me a headache by the time the picture was taken. That's Cheryl, a former co-worker. She and her roommate hosted most of the parties that these pictures were taken at/for.


"Bacchus" – God of wine. And some random drunk dude, riding the L to the party. There's a metal goblet that I got at a wedding store to go with this, and a bottle of Chianti in the wicker basket deal. "Mad Scientist" – I am repeating this one this year. Oh, that's beer in the flask. This year, I will probably be rocking some Gatorade for effect.

And there you have a brief retrospective of the "Scopes of Halloween's Past."



A few years back, when I was living alone in my one bedroom bachelor apartment, something very disturbing happened.

The second most disturbing sound one can hear as they are lying in bed, alone, drifting thru that zone of "Not Awake / Not Asleep". Just sort of a throat clearing, that is.

I heard…

My toilet flush.

And I did not sleep well the rest of the evening.

Remember, there's still time to get in on the chance to win one of two Starbucks gift cards. Click HERE for details. We're up to $34 so far.


Sonic Sunday – Blowing Your Mind

Stealing the Sonic Sunday idea from BeckEye, I give you this song.

To learn more about the guy who wrote it, the "Song-a-Day Mann" click HERE.


The Key To Success – Don't Loose Them

Friday night, Cora met me at the train, like normal, and we walked back home. We got to the gate, and I reached for my keys. Whoops! They must be in my bag.

No big deal.

Cora had her keys, so problem. I'll dig them out upstairs.

We get up to the condo, and I dump the contents out on the already cluttered table.

Not there.

Maybe I didn't take them to work. I don't lock the door when I leave (Cora and Gwen say good-bye to me in the hallway, then go back into the apartment), so maybe they are in the shorts I wore last night.


The pants from the day before.

Try again.

Any of the usual places I toss my keys?

Nope. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Crumbs. I must have left them on my desk at work. Normally, it wouldn't matter, but it's the weekend, and I need my keys. Around 6:20, Cora and I jump in the car and take off, shouting the parental advice to Gwen as we left, "Don't burn the place down." Traffic was wretched heading back to the Loop from my NW side place. It took us at least 45 minutes to get there. Then we circled forever looking for a parking place to stash the car while I ran inside. (Friday night theatre crowd + Cora not familiar with downtown and all the one way streets = Need to street park.) Finally found a spot on Wabash, and narrowly avoided taking off my front end on a 100 yr old "L" support squeezing in, but we made it.

Walking to my office, Cora split off to see the new Disney Store that opened the other day, and I ran to my office for what I figured would be a quick in-and-out.

The keys weren't on my desk.

The keys weren't under the papers that I moved around. They weren't under my keyboard. They weren't in the stall I'd used to vanquish some of the pizza from lunch. I ran all over the office. They simply weren't their, either.

Defeated, I trudged to the Disney Store, and saw Cora checking out with a pile of presents for Gwen's birthday and Christmas. So, at least someone scored. As we left the Loop, Cora and I called up a Chinese restaurant that would be on our way home. They said that it would be ready in 10 minutes. It took us at least 20 to work thru traffic to get there.

We finally got home around 9:00.

We set the Chinese down, and I started to clear the table for dinner, and there were my keys. Hidden under the turkey's butt.

GobblesYeah, under Gobble's tail feathers.

Did I feel a little stupid? Yeah.

Was I relieved to have just found the damn keys, and that Cora got some shopping done?

Oh, sweet dancin' Jesus YES!


10-10-10 – Marathon Hints and Tips


Tomorrow, 10-10-10, is the Chicago Marathon.

As a 2 time marathoner (I did the 2003 edition in 4:21:48 – 15,981st place) and a Chicagoan, I thought I would offer some helpful hints for those of you running your first marathon.

Avoid eating White Castle, Popeye's Fried Chicken, or chili the night before the race.  If you crap yourself at the 6 mile point, you have to live in your filth for another 20 miles.  And that shit is gonna start chafing.

If you crap yourself, no one is offering you a ride to your hotel, either.

Speaking of chafing.  Wear band-aids over your nipples.  Or at least wear a black, red, or orange shirt.  No one wants to see your bloody streaks on the front of your shirt from mile 16 onward.

If you ignore the previous advice, take extra care when getting in the shower, because when the water hits your raw nipples, that STINGS LIKE HELL!

Avoid the first few aid stations.  They will only slow you down, and you walk with the herd for the first two miles before you can even START jogging.  Plus, since you've been "hyper-hydrating" all night, you've already bespoiled 3 sets of Depends undergarments before the race even started.  There is a thing as "too much water" pee boy.

If you don't have a lot of friends lining the course to cheer for you, put your name in big bold letters on the front of your shirt.  People will read it, and shout your name in encouragement.  "Go Eric!"

It's even funnier to write "NADS" on the front of your shirt, so people shout "GO NADS!"

Left.  Right.  Left.  Right. X 26.2

On Monday, when people say, "You ran 26 miles?", be a dick and correct them.  "It's 26.2 miles.  The .2 matters."  People will appreciate the attitude.

Pheidippides ran the first marathon from Marathon to Athens.  He announced victory for the Greek army, then dropped dead.  If you croak after crossing the finish line, they aren't going to rename the race in you honor, so lighten the hell up, and enjoy the run.

* Yes, that's a picture of me running the marathon, not some random Google image.

** Yes, I have my own bottle of water with me, that I would fill at aid stations every once-in-a-while.  Run like you train.  I trained with water.  I ran with water.  Probably saved me 10 minutes of time not having to deal with the crowds, and being able to take a hit whenever I needed it.


It Must Not Be Easy Being Green Afterall

From my brother-in-law via Facebook.

That's simply AWESOME!

The performance.

Not the fact that the dude is homeless (he isn't actually homeless).

For more info, see the LINK.


The New Normal – Define Irony

Last night I used certified organic ground beef.

To make Hamburger Helper: Cheeseburger Macaroni.

Somewhere, one of them "organic food" hippies just shed a tear, like that Indian dude.



Catching Up - With Fancy Schmancy

A few weeks I sent out a letter to some bloggers that I haven't seen around these parts in a while (though admittedly, some I do see on Facebook 4 times a day), asking if they would like to write up a guest blog post telling me home they are doing.

So far, I've only gotten one post back (but have heard from a few others). So, here, without further ado, I give you: Fancy Schmancy.

Hi, Eric. Thanks again for asking me to do a guest blog. Sorry this is like weeks later than your deadline, but this is the first chance I've really had a clear enough head for this, and my son isn't home hogging the computer!

I moved recently. I decided now would be a good time to get a sleeper sofa for the living room. I found one on Craig's List in really great condition for really cheap, one town over. I went and checked it out about 3 weeks before I was ready to move, it was awesome! It came from a smoke and pet free home, and they were willing to hold it till I moved. They warned me it was REALLY heavy, it took them 4 guys to bring it down into their finished basement. I paid them for it and decided I would figure out how to get it when the moving weekend came.

Moving weekend came. For Friday, I hired professional movers for a couple of hours to get the huge, heavy stuff. The moving company had a minimum of 2-1/2 hours I had to pay for, whether they worked for 2-1/2 hours or not. I also hired a gaggle of my son's friends to move the rest of the stuff that afternoon and evening, but I wasn't completely confident in a bunch of 16-year-olds. Sometimes their little brains and raging hormones outweigh their muscles.

The moving company I hired sent over two completely competent men. Seriously, I cannot say enough good things about these guys. They worked hard, they worked smart, they didn't complain, and they were extremely patient, kind and polite. If I could have afforded for them to do the whole move, I would have gladly done it in a heartbeat! Alas, I didn't have that kind of money to play with. My idea was to get the big stuff out of the old place and into the new place and see how much time and money I had left before I decided whether to let the movers or "the boys" go get the couch.

The movers got everything I needed them to get out quickly. The storage facility was 1/2 mile away, and they got everything loaded into that pretty quickly, too. I had at least an hour left of my minimum, and I knew for a fact they wouldn't need that much time to go to another 1/2 a mile to the new place and bring in 4 appliances, one small china cabinet and 3 dressers. In a haze of hope and desperation I made the decision to pay them for another hour to go out and get the sleeper sofa. Technically, we were right next to the highway, and the house where the sofa was is right off the highway. Mapquest said it was about 8 miles, should take about 12 minutes in each direction. They said they would follow me in the huge moving truck, but just wanted a general idea of where they were going and my cell number in case we got split up. No problem, I wrote down directions on a piece of paper and put my cell number at the bottom. They looked at it before we were about to leave the storage space and suggested I might be out of my mind. What? The exit we were going to get off is called the "Tunnel Road" exit. The house was on the other side of the tunnel. The tunnel didn't have enough clearance for a HUGE moving truck. CRAP!
Here is a picture I took of that exact same tunnel last summer:

IMG_3572 (2)
I called the people who were still in possession of the sofa to make certain they were indeed on the wrong side of the tunnel. They were. They suggested the same route I was thinking of - an alternate road that would require us to go through yet another town to get there. Mapquest suggested the trip would now take us 20 minutes instead. Mapquest has obviously never driven through my town with stop signs and traffic lights to get to an extremely old, narrow, twisting and turning, hilly, New England country-bumpkin, tree-hugging, granola-crunchy, Birkenstock-wearing road complete with original stone walls and fields and barns and horses. It would have been a beautiful, relaxing, Sunday drive in the country if it were not for the fact that it was Friday and I was paying these guys by the hour. And the fact that the huge moving truck was being driven by an extremely cautious and careful driver who literally had to go 5-10 miles and hour to navigate that road. Hindsight is 20/20. In the rush of adrenaline before we set out I was like, "let's go DO THIS!". By the time we got to the house to get the sofa, I was still like, "Okay, let's still do this..." I was already committed to it, and still looking forward to having it in my new living room.

We got there, got the sofa loaded into the truck, and navigated the same horrid bitch of a road back into my town to my new place. Once there, my adrenaline kicked back in! Woot! Let's get everything in! They decided to start with the sleeper sofa since it was the last thing put on the truck. It Wouldn't Go In The Front Door. The front door is a storm door leads to an enclosed screened-in porch. The screened-in porch leads to a little foyer with a closet, and then a hard left into the living room. They took off that storm door, that regular door, and also took out the light fixture. They couldn't get it in and around that corner.

Next they tried the back door which leads into the kitchen. They took off that screen door and regular door, too. The porch that leads up to that door had too low of a ceiling, even if they could have turned it. They could not manipulate that darn thing in any direction through any door to make it go into the house. After 45 minutes of this, I asked them to stop and just leave it on the side of the house. I know when to call it quits. They still had to bring in the rest of the furniture and appliances! They tried as hard as they could, it just wasn't going to happen. I even had them look at the hatchway when they were bringing down the washer and drier, there was no way they were going to get it into the basement, either.

After the move, "the boys" brought the sleeper sofa out to the fenced in back yard. I want to add that these same boysIMG_6290 (2) worked their butts off for me moving the rest of the furniture and boxes. They had an equally hard time getting my regular sofa and loveseat into the house, thank goodness there were removable legs! In return for their hard work, I not only paid them - I gave them a spot in the basement to hang out. And a really great sleeper sofa in the back yard! I give you the "yard couch". Only a couple of people have actually used it, so far, but it's only been 2 weeks. I'm thinking that my son's party this coming weekend is going to possibly have a "sleeper" or 2 on it. It's like camping, only better!

Sleeper sofa $ 50.00
Movers $300.00

Yard Couch $priceless

I got an update from Fancy Schmancy on her update. Looks like someone did crash on it this weekend.



The "New Normal" – Part 1

As I sit on my couch, watching TV, this is what is watching back.

Yeah, there's a life sized house elf hanging out next to the TV.

And ever since he has arrived, there have been more mysterious noises at night than normal.

I swear.


Just A Friday

I took Friday off.  There are a bunch of tasks that Cora & I need to tackle together, so we thought we would try them while Gwen was in school.  (Minds out of the gutter people!)

So, after dropping Gwen off at school and getting our good-bye hugs, we hopped the transit system and headed downtown:

M: Our first stop downtown was a quick potty break at America's public restrooms: McDonald's.

CHASE: Our first planned stop was Chase.  There are a lot of things we need to do there: Get Cora on my savings and checking accounts, on the mortgage, and to refinance the mortgage, since we may be able to lower it about a point.  Adding her to the account was easy.  My mortgage guy was out that day, and so nothing happened there (I didn't have high hopes), but I did learn that if I make an appointment, he will travel to the branch right across the street from my office (both he and I have changed offices since I got the mortgage), so I can do it on my lunch break.  We were half way down the escalators when I realized that we didn't get Cora a debit/ATM card on our now joint account.  Back up stairs, and that was no hassle, either.  So, in 3 to 5 business days, Cora can totally empty our bank account and run off to the Caribbean.  (But she would rue that, as a redhead, she would burn to a crisp and become one cute freckle.)

State of Illinois – After the bank, we went to the State of Illinois building.  A tad peckish for 10:30, Cora got a hamburger at the Burger King, and then we went to get her Illinois Driver's License.  The guy at the front desk went thru all the stuff that she needed to bring, (birth certificate, social security card, Washington license, and two bits of mail with her name on it.  We'd checked on line, and it had kept talking about leases, and utility bills, but they took bank statements), and we took a seat to wait for our number to be called.  Cora reviewed sign shapes for the written exam, and I tried not to bug her too much.  Eventually, her number was called, and she went to one of the windows, and I departed on my errand at the S.o.S.

In Illinois, you need to get a new license plate sticker every year.  Mine expires in September.  It is September.  And I have not gotten my renewal from the Secretary of State.  So, next door I go.  The 97 year old gatekeeper asked me why I wished to enter their sacred grounds.  I explained the situation, and on the third attempt, he correctly entered my plate number into a computer system so old, I was surprised he didn't need to use a punch card.  Turns out, that despite the fact that I move 2.5 years ago, got my renewal in the mail last year, and have changed my address on my driver's license and on my taxes, they still had me at the old place, which is why I didn't get my notice.

And I needed to get an emissions test.  FOR THE CAR!  We all know the fumes I emit from my tailpipe are noxious and certainly NOT EPA approved.

Failing to get my sticker, I returned to the other room, to wait for Cora while she took the driver's test.

Except she was walking toward me.

Turns out, they needed more paperwork from her first marriage to follow the bouncing ball of her last name!  Nothing on the website mentioned anything about this.  The guy at the front desk who checked the paperwork didn't mention it.  So, defeated, we slunk off, but not before a quick stop at a Hallmark store in the atrium to check out the Halloween stuff.

AT&T: Next stop, AT&T to look at phones.  I am eligible to upgradeNokia-1100 my current Blackberry Bold for a new Torch.  And I want to get a family plan going.  I promised Callista that I would get Cora a REAL phone.  She is currently using a Nokia 1100 phone (as pictured on the right, circa 2003) and I would like to get her off pay-as-you-go and in to the world of texting and the mobile web.  And the daughter?  We need to get her a local phone number so she can call her friends, text, etc.

There was a blizzard of options, so we fled before we made any final decisions.  Also, since it was "buy one get one free" on phones for the girls, they would both need to be involved in making the decision.

Work: Since we were across the street, I took Cora up to my office to meet some of my co-workers, and to see where I spend my days.  I like showing her off, what can I say.  :-)

Lunch: Since everybody at work was, well, working, next Cora and I went to Infields for lunch.  In the basement of the Marshall Field's Macy's on State Street, it is a never crowded place to grab a bite to eat.  Cora had a turkey sandwich served on cinnamon bread (she had it once before and loved it then, too), and I had the chicken Caesar salad.  After lunch, we headed home, but not directly.

The Container Store – Part 1: On the way home, Cora and I jumped off the L to do a little recon work @ The Container Store.  We checked out some free standing, folding, stackable shelves and some wire racks to add additional storage in the closets.  But we heard a "tick-tock" and reboarded the L to get home.  Jumping off the train, we raced the clock to get to Gwen's school just as it was letting out.  As we rounded the corner, we saw her hit the sidewalk, and start walking toward home (and away from us).  We surprised her, and all walked the rest of the way home together.

We then relaxed for a bit, but I then I panicked, forgetting all about the emissions test.  So I bolt out the door, leaving Gwen and Cora in my dust.

EPA Test: I know I'm going to be sitting in line for hours.  I know it.  The line is going to be forever.  There is only ONE of these stations anywhere on the north side of the city and that's where I had to go.  4:00 on a Friday.

As I pulled up to the place, I couldn't believe it.  No one.  No.  One. None of the bays are in use.  The guys are just sitting around, reading.  SCORE!  In about 5 minutes, I was out of there with my "Pass" to take back to the State of Illinois building during lunch next week. And it's off to …

The Container Store – Part 2: So, in the Container store, I grab a pair of the java colored folding stacking hutches, and 4 wire stacking shelves, and get home.  Gwen is out on her first "play date" to hang out with a friend when I get home.  Cora and I open the first of the hutches, and look at it perplexed.  The other shelves like we have like this have 3 shelves, why does this hutch only have 2?  Because it's a "hutch", stupid, not a "shelf".  Duh!  Well after some figuring, we figured out that one of the hutches would work, stacked on one of the 3 shelf shelving units.  We then attack Gwen's closet with wire shelves on top of shelves to extend the storage higher toward the sky.

The "Episode": Gwen comes home, and well, it's not pretty.  She and Cora went off to her room to talk for a while.  No details folks.  Gwen's fine, but probably (definitely) not going to be spending a whole lot of time with this girl in the near future.

The Container Store – Part 3: To get Gwen's mind off of things, we piled in the family truckster and headed out to return the hutch and get some supper.  The exchange went easy.  The dinner, was at Uncle Julio's.  (HERE is a previous visit)  It was a great meal for most of us.  Gwen loved her chicken quesadillas.  I loved (as I knew I would) my steak fajitas.  Cora's vegetable platter?  The big portabella was a little spicy for her tastes.

The Condo: Back at the condo, we go the shelves set up, and they look good.

Then, we all crashed.  Hard.

Saturday, we ATTEPTED to put floating shelves on the wall. 

"Nurse, I need 1,000 CC's of spackling compound! STAT!"


Friday Funny

Hey Billy!  Found your baseball!

Ouch, Billy!  Too slow!  That's gonna leave a mark!


Saw this baseball lying on the "L" tracks yesterday, and snapped a quick picture.  Then a train (you can just make out the "a" in "cta") whizzed into the station.


A Little SHOCKING Excursion

So, Cora, Gwen & were out shopping this weekend.  I didn't expect this.

First, we went into Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

And we wandered into the "Beyond" section.

First I saw these, Booty Pops:

I was first thinking that they were going to be like, frozen fruit-pop molds.  Nope.  They were padded panties.  For those who need a little extra junk in the trunk.

Still reeling from the "Hubba Hubba Hiney" I walked down to the other end of the aisle, and ran into the Bare Lifts.

B(.)(.)B tape.  What's next?  Like a B(.)(.)B crane that uses tape and invisible thread to hoist their loads into place.

That was a lot of odd for Saturday.

But that was nothing compared to what awaited me in the ice cream aisle of my local Dominick's grocery store.


  • What the hell are they doing in the freezer?  Is that "French Tickler Vanilla" next to them?
  • I think after my experience with Icy / Hot that one time (Great Balls Of Fire), there's NO WAY IN HELL!