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!


While You Were Out – Getting Around: Part 2


Yesterday, I wrote about winged transportation, today, it's more odds and ends (and some really "odds" at that) that all follow the transportation theme, too, and that I just have happened to run into while out and about recently.

I don't know what it is about weird vehicles, but I just love the ones that look entirely out of place. And I'm not just talking about the Wienermobile kind of weird, either. I mean your average everyday normal abnormal, too.

I was heading to go see "The Other Guys" one weekend before the girls got here, and I looked across the street and saw a three wheeled motorcycle. Now, I've seen plenty of trikes before. And I've seen the Can-Am Spyder.

But I had never seen a Piaggio before.

http://www.piaggiousa.com/scooters.php#/home/Piaggio MP3 500


And then there is this pink abomination know as the Bare Essentials "Quickie Van".

IMG00151-20100811-1244 IMG00152-20100811-1244

But, there is one thing about it that is cool. See the hubcaps? They are like "anit-spinners". They have bearings and are weighted so that as the car drives, the text stays level so you can read it. I saw these once a few years ago, and thought I would be seeing Smiley faces floating stationary in the wheels of yellow VWs for the rest of my life. Safe so far.

As you know, I love me some fun plates. Going clockwise…

LTRAIN – And much like an LTRAIN, 1/2 and inch of snow, and this thing is utterly useless.

KUNKOFF – While probably some guys last name, I thought it sounded a bit like "KNUCK FOX", a Monmouth College expletive aimed at their rival, Knox College.

N WY BULL – While Cora, Gwen, & I were walking laps around the park, I saw this and wondered how, "No Way! Bull!" had made it past the censors down in Springpatch.
IMG00155-20100815-1844 IMG00120-20100628-1104

And then, now here are the "ends" of the "odds and ends".

DSC01410 Now, I have to ask, isn't the frame worth saving? I know your rear wheel is gone. But you probably took the front wheel and the seat.
Why just leave it to decompose on the street?

To get slowly picked apart by vultures?

IMG00122-20100629-1221 Speaking of why, if you have a friend who rolls up with this two tone paint job, punch him in the junk. If it's a woman, fly her down to Mexico, get her a sex change, and then punch her/him in the junk.

Seriously. What would possess you to do this?

Holster-02 Here is a perfect example of, "Only an Asian youth can pull this off." It may be stereotyping, but it is true. It's hard to see, but I saw this on the L. Within the yellow circle is an iPod holster that has two clips that attach it to pockets and belt loops.

And it was only for his iPod Touch. When his phone rang, he pulled it out of a different pocket.

It's just so strange seeing an external pocket that big being used exclusively for one device when you could fit a reasonably sized sandwich in that thing.

Sorry about more randomness. I will get into more meat, but right now, I'm doing the "single dad" thing for the first time, EVER, and am living in box HELL, and really, this is about the concentration level I can muster.

I mean, I have stories. Like Cora & Gwen @ Hog Days. Or the wedding guest who was questioned by the FBI for a few days. And then there's the court stuff. (Ours. Not the wedding guest's.) And then there's the secret theme week I'm trying to put together…

Shhhhh… It's a secret.


While You Were Out – Getting Around: Part 1


Okay, okay, I've been away for a while. I have a bunch of stories to tell, but Cora's away for a few days, so I'm learning my ropes as 'Single Dad' right now. With time of the essence, I'm going to plow through some pictures I took while I was out and about.

Now, most of these were taken with my Blackberry's craptastic camera, so I apologize right off for the quality. I tried to clean them up in Photoshop as much as possible.

The first set of photos are from the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Shortly after the wedding, my best man, T-Bone was up in the area, working the show for his oil company. I met him up in Milwaukee, and we carpooled up to Oshkosh where he went over some final setup for the show. And I left my good camera back in my car in Milwaukee.

IMG00143-20100725-1544 IMG00146-20100725-1550

A little taste of America

An ultra, ultra light


A little pusher prop plane

A side view.

IMG00147-20100725-1556 IMG00148-20100725-1557

You think this is a small plane?

You're SOOOO right!

IMG00142-20100725-1542 IMG00149-20100725-1559

A blast from the past…

Modern Sci-Fi

Never been to the show in Oshkosh before. But it was a good time. And the best part was hanging out with a good friend that I don't see often enough.

And as a bonus, after the set-up was complete, we went down to Milwaukee and hung out with some college friends for a while. It was really good to catch up with everyone, and while I was on the road a great deal on that Saturday, it was really relaxing.

DSC01408 DSC01409

And it's always a great day when you get to hold a friend's baby for the first time.


Just An Update Before I Go…

As anonymous reminded me yesterday, it's been a while since I've put anything real up here. Things have been very busy around the place, and I feel like I'm stealing from the girls if I'm off blogging too much.

But, a quick recap.

The girls have been here about 3 weeks now, and we are settling into our current routines.

- On my way home from work, I call Cora, and then she (and sometimes Gwen) walk to meet me when I get off the L. So cute. We'll see it that makes it to winter time! ;-)

- A couple of nights a week (Cora more than I), we go for a few walking laps around the neighborhood park.

- Groceries? Currently, Cora will pick up small amounts while out on an afternoon walk, but the "BIG" grocery shopping we've done has been together.

Recently things have changed a little, and really made time a precious commodity: Cora & Gwen's stuff arrived. The den and part of the dining room are full of boxes, tubs, and tubes of all shapes and sizes. A treadmill I've taken to calling "Johnny 5" sits disassembled in our bedroom ("Disassemble? Dead? No disassemble Number Five!"). Shelving units need assembled. A space needs cleared to put the boxes that are in the place where the shelving units will go. A space needs cleared to but the boxes that are in the way of getting to the boxes that are in the way of putting the shelves where they belong.

You get the point.

Luckily, the recycling truck came by yesterday, so that we can refill the recycling bin with all the broken down boxes from this round of unpacking. Well, half fill. We try to be good neighbors. (Despite what the neighbors below may email complaining about!)

We'll get a break from unpacking this weekend as we head back to my home area for Hog Days (a.k.a. Labor Day).

And then the routines will change again, with Gwen starting school next Tuesday, and Cora flying back to Washington on Wednesday (thru Friday) for mediation.

There's a whole lot of other stuff that I really want to put out there, but now that I have actual responsibilities, it's much harder to find the time. Once these boxes go away, though, I think I'll be back more. But like I said in an earlier post, even if I'm not posting much, I'll still be reading.

Oh, and for more info, with pictures, please see me wife's blog: Coracabana!


Attention Marathoners

Just a quick reminder as marathon season approaches and people are looking for hydration options:








Pedialyte = Good hydration, low sugar.

Pedia-Lax = CODE BROWN!

Just some advice from your old friends here at SCOPE-TECH.