Halloweens of Scope's Past

So, around the turn of the century (man, doesn't that sound olde tyme), I had a routine Halloween party that I went to for many years.  As today is Halloween, I thought I would TREAT you (or maybe TRICK?) with a few pictures of Scope of Halloween's past.

2002 – Blind referee (glasses missing) with one of the hostess of the party.

2004 – Bacchus, Roman god of wine, and some really drunk dude, on the L.


2007 – Pilot.  Please note the handmade shirt and the official cheesy mustache.


2008 – Mad scientist.


Yeah, I know I'm missing a few years.  There was a Rastafarian, a rabid sports fan with a basketball head, the "Hi Guy" (a local Chicago lunatic), and a few others that seemed to have escaped the camera's lens.

You know you're a crappy blogger when:

  • You throw together a post of old Halloween costumes just to have something to post.
  • You then look at your old posts for further ideas, and realize that you did the same damn thing 2 years ago.
  • You decide you don't really care because you don't have time to do anything creative, and go with it anyway.


Even this picture is a repeat.  I just colored it orange.

Be safe and egg any house that give out those gnasty peanut butter taffy things in the orange and black waxed paper.


Chicago - Off The Eaten Track Part 2

Do you like eating? I like eating. And odds are, some of the foods you grew up enjoying aren't the same in other parts of the country. Heck, they may not even exist at all. Everywhere has their own styles of foods and drinks. Styles that are unique to your region, and which may even be world famous. Or local secrets. Lobster rolls. Cheesestake. BBQ. All good food that sections of the country take pride in.

Chicago has it's famous foods. Chicago style pizza. Chicago hotdogs. Ribs. And if you're in town for a while, here's the stuff you should try.



Like the pizza, everyone knows about the Chicago Style Hotdog. And there's really no debate on how it's made: a beef frank with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, nuclear green sweet pickle relish, tomato wedges, sport peppers, celery salt, and a dill pickle spear, all on a steamed poppy seed bun. AND ABSOLUTELY NO KETCHUP! Okay, you can (usually) order a plain dog with ketchup, no problem, just don't put it on a Chicago Style dog. There's no room. You don't need it. It already has tomatoes. And face it, if you put ketchup on something, that's all you are going to taste. And that would be a shame.

You can get a quality one at any place you see the big blue Vienna "V". Or you can try a "gourmet" dog from a place like Hot Doug's, Chicago's Dog House, or Franks 'N' Dawgs. Yes, gourmet hot dogs.


BUT DID YOU KNOW? – There's something better on buns then the hot dog or even a hamburger at Kuma's Corner, and that's the Italian Combo. This is a Chicago Ciller Combo.

You start with the bun. This isn't some puffy poppy seed roll. This is a sturdy, tough, crusty roll. Inside of it, you lay down a fire grilled spicy Italian sausage link. But one item does not a combo make. On top of the sausage is a heaping helping of Italian beef. Now this isn't beef from Italy. No, it's a thinly sliced roast beef that is seasoned with Italian herbs and spices, and simmered in it's own pot of au jus.

Now, you've reached your first decision point: wet, dry, or dipped.

  • DRY – My preferred method. And "dry" is a very relative term here. The beef is pulled out of the au jus, and held for a second or two while most of the juice runs off. You're gonna need a napkin, but your shirt shouldn't be in too much danger.
  • WET – This is the default. The beef is pulled out of the au jus and slopped right on the sandwich, carrying a lot of the liquid with it. You will need a couple of napkins and probably will need to hunch to eat it.
  • DIPPED – "Dipped" means exactly what you can't believe it means. The beef is placed on the sandwich, and then the whole sandwich, BUN AND ALL, are dunked backed into the au jus. Forget a napkin, if you've never had one of these before, you will need a beach towel.

Your second decision point is peppers: sweet or hot.

  • SWEET – Roasted green bell peppers. This is what I would recommend for your first one. You may not like the giardiniera (hot pepper/vegetable mix) and I'd rather that not taint your impression of the combo.
  • HOT – As mentioned above, a hot mixture of peppers and vegetables. You can ask for a side of it if you are REALLY curious about it, as it is the only condiment allowed on the sandwich.

Your third and final decision point is cheese: Yes or No.

  • YES - Rarely do any of the places offer varieties of cheese. They have one type, and that's what you get. It will be one of the following: mozzarella, provolone, or cheddar. I prefer either mozzarella or provolone. But if they only have cheddar…
  • NO – The proper response when offered cheddar for your combo is "no"

There are very few options here. There are no condiments allowed. Putting ketchup on this creation is more offensive than putting it on your Chicago Style hotdog. Or putting on your breakfast cereal. Oh, and if you are a guy, no knife or fork is allowed. You have to bare hand this.

Oddly – Writing this last section has had my mouth watering like Pavlov's pooch tied up outside the Ten Bells Pub in London. If you want to try this yourself (ZIBBS), THIS SITE has a couple of recipes and tips.

So, what is your local specialty on a bun or a roll?  Does it involve casing meats?


Chicago - Off The Eaten Track Part 1

Do you like eating?  I like eating.  And odds are, some of the foods you grew up enjoying aren't the same in other parts of the country.  Heck, they may not even exist at all.  Everywhere has their own styles of foods and drinks.  Styles that are unique to your region, and which may even be world famous.  Or local secrets.  Lobster rolls.  Cheesestake.  BBQ.  All good food that sections of the country take pride in.

Chicago has it's famous foods.  Chicago style pizza.  Chicago hotdogs.  Ribs.  And if you're in town for a while, here's the stuff you should try.



Everyone knows about "Chicago Style" pizza.  Actually, there are two types that are easily confused (and to be honest, for shoving in your pizza pie hole, it doesn't really matter), deep dish & stuffed.  Stuffed has a thin layer of crust over the toppings but under the sauce.  Both are gut busters, and I will simply refer to both as "deep dish".  While there may be neighborhood places to get good deep dish pizza, there are some chains where you just can't go wrong:  Pizzeria Uno / Pizzeria Due, Giordano's, Lou Malnati's, Chicago's Pizza & Pasta, Edwardo's, & Gino's East.  I have eaten my share of all of them, and let me tell you a few things:

  • If you order the sausage at Gino's East, get "crumble" not "patty" unless you don't have any plans for the rest of the day.  Imagine a 1/4 inch think sausage patty covering the entire bottom of the pizza.  Good, but an overload.
  • Edwardo's makes an awesome deep dish spinach pizza. But have them add mushrooms.
  • Our standard is from Chicago's Pizza & Pasta – The "Chicago Special" – sausage, mushrooms, green peppers & onions.  Taste & texture!  And they deliver late.

Chicago Style Pizza 02

BUT DID YOU KNOW? - Chicago has a distinctive style of thin crust pizza, too.  And this you can get from any neighborhood joint.  The crust is crisp, firm, and thick enough so that it does not bend, sag, or fold.  But then since it is cut "Sicilian" style (#) into about 2.5" squares, it's not really going to sag anyway.  With these, keep it simple.  One, two ingredients, max.  There is nothing wrong with plain sausage or pepperoni.  Or sausage and pepperoni.

And everybody has their favorite type of slice.  I like the "inside" pieces.  Others like "edges".  But everyone agrees that the little corner pieces like the one up there have no calories.

Oddly – Deep dish and thin have different sauces.  Deep dish has a very chunky tomato sauce, while the thin crust is blended smooth.

So, what's your regional style of pizza?  What are your favorite toppings?


3 Years Ago


Exactly 3 years ago (October 24, 2009 11:40 am), I did the smartest, simplest thing I've ever done.  I got down on one knee, and proposed to the the most amazing woman I had ever met.

And Cora said, "Yes"!

Cora, there's not a day that goes by that I'm not thankful for the magic that you have brought to my life.

I love you with all my heart.

Thank you so much, internets, for helping me to find the great love of my life.


It's A Tech Tuesday World After All

So, as I mentioned in my last post, Jan & Yemi are planning a 6 month trip around the world and will be blogging it out.
If you were taking a long trip around the world, what tech would you take?  You're not traveling on your own private yacht.  You're going carry-on with only a couple of bags that need to last you for months, and that includes clothes.  So traveling light is key.  But, as a once in a lifetime trip, you want to make sure that you capture the memories and enhance your enjoyment.
What tech gear would I take on a round the world trip with Cora?

POWER MANAGEMENT – Let's throw this out on the table right here, right now.  We're taking stuff that's going to need recharged.  Some of it almost daily.  And since not everywhere (read "no where") uses the same plug/power configuration that we do, we'll need a plug adapter AND power converter.  And the power converter is equally as important as the adapter, so spring for an all-in-one.  You don't want to fry your electronics with the wrong voltage.  And you REALLY don't want to fry your wife's hair with her curling/straightening iron getting over juiced.  And they now have converter models that also have a USB charging slot, too.

We'd probably want a small adapter to convert the one outlet to 3 for charging.  But we wouldn't bring a spare power converter.  We should be able to pick one about about anywhere within reason if necessary.

CAMERA/S – We would definitely take two cameras. One is Cora's DSLR. The other is her point-n-shoot. (Hey, the wife has better gear than I do.) On a round the world trip, pictures are going to be our most important souvenirs. And while we would want to take the best pictures possible (DSLR), there are going to be times when we don't want to lug a big camera around. And as the saying goes, "The best camera is the one you have with you." We would want something pocketable that we could carry with us at all times.

And here the redundancy factor is important to me. Both cameras take the same memory cards. And I would bring a spare battery (or two) for both. You don't want to be running out of juice midday. And for the DSLR, both a standard lens, and a telephoto.  And a whole bunch of 8 GB SD cards.

OPTIONS – If we didn't already have 2 great cameras, and really wanted to save weight, I would get a micro 4/3 camera like one of the Sony NEX line.  They are smaller than DSLRs but bulkier than a simple point-n-shoot.  They allow for interchangeable lenses and pretty good picture quality. It might not fit in every pocket, but it would fit in a pair of cargo shorts or easily in a day bag.

NETBOOK – While both Cora and I have laptops, for space and weight considerations, we'd probably take my netbook. It's so much more portable and better battery life.  But then why not a tablet like an iPad? No ports. Small storage. My netbook gives me 150 GB of storage, 3 USB ports for connections, and an SD card slot for the camera memory cards. Things an iPad doesn't have. And while it's not as easy to type on as a bigger machine, it's a lot better than the keyboard on an iPad.

The netbook would get as much storage cleared out as possible and reloaded with chunks of my iTunes and Cora's iTunes libraries, downloaded maps and travel information, etc. But with plenty of room left to store all the pictures and video we'll be taking.

I know the netbook is a dying term.  But I mean a small notebook with a 10" – 13" screen and as large of a hard drive as possible.  Current ones can have a 500 GB hard drive or more.  That can store a lot of pictures and video.  And I will be downloading all the pictures off those memory cards.  Redundancy again.  Those pictures will not be living only on tiny bits of plastic.

OTHER – Other bits of "tech" to go along:

  • iPods – Cora and I both have iPod minis that we would take.
  • Watch – A cheap ass Cassio watch with an alarm. Something that someone wouldn't want to steal. In fact, a mugger might give me money when he looks at the thing.
  • USB Thumbdrives – At least one, small, thumb drive with a text (.TXT) file that has our names, and emergency contact info. Also there will be a password protected zip (.ZIP) file full of PDFs with our passports, credit cards, etc. scanned. It will be painted white, with a red cross painted on it. This will, in theory be on one of us at all times.
  • Travel Alarm Clock – A little P.O.S. $20 that tells the time and beeps.  As small and light as possible.
  • Flashlight – A small LED flashlight can come in very handy staying in unfamiliar places.

SERVICES – Beforehand, there's a few sites / site types I would sign up for.

  • Video Calling – We'll want to talk the the folks back home on occasion. We'd probably use Skype, but Google has some cool video tools, too.  And both are free!
  • Picture Storage – I have a Flickr Pro account that allows me unlimited storage of pictures at full resolution. (Suck that, Zuck! Facebook really compress the photos.  So while I'd be posting some there, I wouldn't count that as my DR storage solution.) Whenever I had Wi-Fi, I would be uploading my pictures. While the memory cards would be backed up to the netbook, things happen, and I want these pictures stored someplace safe. I would be using YouTube for video. There are plenty of other cloud storage sites available, but I'm familiar with those, so there you have it.

LEAVE AT HOME – But there are a few things that would stay at home.

  • Cell Phone – I don't have a world phone, and I really would rather try and leach Wi-Fi from the universe vs. paying huge international data fees.  If for some reason we need to make call and Skype doesn't work, we can either buy a local "burner" phone and an international calling card.  I would also have paper maps so I don't need the GPS/Google Maps use.
  • iPad – It's designed for consumption, not production.  It stays at home.  Now, I haven't checked out the Microsoft Surface.
  • Keys – Won't be needing them, will I?
  • Multi-Tool – If you are flying, it will get confiscated before you even get to your seat.


Around The World In ??? Days


Phileas Fogg & Passepartout raced around the world in 80 days on a bet.  Fogg packed light.  “We’ll have no trunks. Only a carpet bag, with two shirts and three pairs of stockings for me, and the same for you. We’ll buy our clothes on the way. Bring down my mackintosh and travelling cloak, and some stout shoes…” (Around The World in 80 Days, Jules Verne, 1873).  They also carried a guidebook of rail & steamship time tables.

Well, a blogger that I have been following for a long time, through some serious ups and downs, Jan has started up a new blog, Travelers Not Tourists.  And she's definitely on an up swing.  On the new blog, she and her boyfriend, Yemi, will be documenting their trip around the world.  They'll also be letting us in on some of their previous trips, too.  And I'm not talking about quick trips down to the corner grocery store, either.  (As you can see from these pictures I borrowed from her blog.)


And they aren't going to do a sprint like Fogg did. This will be relaxing stroll. A "quitting our jobs and taking the trip of our lives" kind of stroll.

So, if you are looking to live vicariously through a young, beautiful couple as they prepare to take a once in a lifetime that you can only dream of, swing by Travelers Not Tourists.  Tell 'em Scope sent you.


Don't Panic–It's A Meme!


I'm really surprised I haven't seen this floating around the web.  And if you don't see it, make it, I guess.  Ah, this takes me back to high school.

What books take you back?


Tech-Tuesday: Recovering From The Blue Death

So, you may remember that I suffered the true Blue Screen of Death.  I've had my new laptop for a couple of weeks now.  A new Dell Inspiron 15R.  I ordered it from Dell, it was delivered quickly, and my wonderful wife, Cora even found an on-line coupon at RetailMeNot to save me some additional CA$H.  In the few weeks I've had it, things are going okay.  But here's a quick roundup of my thoughts and lessons learned.

  • Routine and regular backups are a good thing.  Saved my bacon.  I had most everything stored off on an external hard drive.  I know I lost some stuff, but I'm not sure what it was.  I have upped my game a little by adding a 2 TB NAS (Network Attach Storage) device hanging off my wireless router.  It's doing automatic copies of my data weekly now.  I now need to get this set up on the other computers in the house.
  • When backing up your content, put some forethought into how your data is organized.  I have 3 sets of some data.  Which wouldn't be too bad, except that it's things like "My Pictures" and "My Music". Does anyone know of any good "de-duplicating" freeware?
  • This is my first personal laptop.  I've had a few at different jobs, and I have a netbook, but this is the first legit laptop I've owned.  Not really a fan of the keyboard on it.  A little mushy.  I usually use it at my desk where the desktop was, so currently, I use a real keyboard plugged into a USB hub.  I'm thinking of upgrading the USB hub with a full fledged dock that will allow me to more easily use my big monitor and wired network.
  • Wow, does the battery life on this thing suck.  I may buy an external battery/ charger so it has juice to make it that 4 hour flight to Seattle.
  • Back on the subject of backups, make sure to back up a copy of your browser favorites.  I hadn't done it in a couple of years.  Oooops. 
  • I had a BIIIG collection of fonts downloaded on the old machine.  Even though I still have many of them (thanks to those backups I mentioned), I'm really not looking forward to re-installing them.

Overall, I would say that once I got the laptop, I was about 2 or 3 days before I was mostly back to normal.

Let's see if my blog-posting is getting back to normal.


A Surf & Turf Wedding Reception


Earlier this summer, a former blogger we'll call the fabulous "Mrs. K" got married out on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state in a very small, very beautiful ceremony.  I know because I watched the video.

A couple weekends back, she had a reception down state in southeastern Illinois.  We weren't sure that we were going to make it.  After all, school had started and we didn't want to have the Daughter gone two weekends in a row with all the homework they tend to hit them with.  But then, the Chicago Teacher's Union decided to go on strike.  No school.  No homework.  So down the road we went.

The drive was about 5 hours.  As we rolled down I-57, the gas gauge kept dropping and dropping.  But I had it in my mind that I wanted to get to Mattoon before getting gas.  I could make it.  About 25 miles north of Mattoon, there was a ding and the gas light came on.  No big deal, I'm good.

But when it dinged a second time with 12 miles to go, I started to get nervous.  Shut off the A/C nervous.  But we made it.  Probably on fumes.  (Shouldn't play that game again any time soon.)  I fueled up and then we headed out across country to the hotel to change for the party.

We made it just in time.  And were greeted by this color scheme, don't adjust your set:


The hallway was a 70's yellow to boot.  ***shudder***

A quick change and a short drive out of town, we turned down a gravel road, and made the party.  It was held on Mrs. K's parent's farm under an impressive tent and a dance floor under lights strung in the tree canopy (pictures to follow).  But before we get there, here's a shot of Cora, Mrs. K, and me (trying to hide my beer).  Lovely ladies.


And now, Mr. & Mrs. K.  The whole wedding party re-wore what they did at the wedding, which was really kind of cool.


And here's a shot of the family in front of a beautiful southern Illinois sunset.


But I know what the women in the audience really want to see:

The ring…


The shoes…MRSK-08

And the cake…


Yes, carrot cake made by the groom's mom.

The tables were set beautifully with candles and pictures of the couple.


And speaking of a cute couple:


Okay, I teased the dance floor long enough:


And I certainly took my lovely wife for a spin around that parquet flooring.

But all too soon, the party was winding down, but not before we all broke out the sparklers.

Yes, sparklers!  And the haze.



And that's how bloggers role.  It was a great time and we had a blast.  I wish the happy couple all the best.


The Brick Wall vs. My Head



ATTENTION – Today is October 1st.  Normally, I'd be announcing the start of my charity breast cancer drive today.  Do to circumstances beyond my control, I will NOT be running it this year.


But for those of you who have been touched by breast cancer, fear not, I will still be making my annual donation, and hope that you will too, if you are able.