Once Upon A Time–Down the "Rabbit Hole"

A few weeks ago, the family was sitting around watching that show "Once Upon A Time" and this bit of poor planning appeared on the screen:

Did that rabbit just do what I think he just did?

Snapshot 1 (12-14-2013 9-26 PM)

Yup, he just circled Snow White's "rabbit hole".

I've always thought that those "pop-up" ads were useless, but this was at least entertaining.

[And FYI – All the women on this show are much better looking in their "fairy tale" clothes than they are in their contemporary garb.]

And for SkyDad, a gratuitous shot of Ruby.


Trying to get at least one blog post out a week.  Had this sitting on the DVR forever before I had a chance to video it and get it posted.


Cyber-Monday Wrap Up / The Voice

Man that was a blast.  Sorry I haven't been back since the big Cyber Monday event.  If you missed it, here's the roll of those I know who participated:

That Janie Girl - LINK


Padded Cell Princess - LINK

MJenks - LINK

Soda and Candy - LINK

Jan - LINK

Elly - LINK

Sassy Britches - LINK

The Vegetable Assassin - LINK

Rob-bear - LINK

Girl Interrupted - LINK

So. Cal. Gal - LINK

Shana M - LINK


Candy's daily Dandy - LINK

Mathdude - LINK

MoxieGirl - LINK

words...words...words... - LINK

I think I've figured it out.  While many on the people who posted I also know on that place called "Facebook", it just isn't the same.  It's a different "voice" over there.  I know my "voice" is different over here than over there.  Even in the dark, super special corners where my mother isn't lurking.

"Scope" doesn't play as much on Facebook.  Those are more "Eric's people".  Writing over there, I have such a broad audience of people that I mostly used to sort of kind of know or are related to, so I have to be more guarded.  Here?  This is my house, not Zuck's.  I have more freedom.  I love what I call "the long form".  Most every post I do has a picture or two.  I've recently increase my default font size (due to my eyes getting older).  Over there, you can't even BOLD that which needs bolding.

And I certainly can say that while I know some folks are still blogging and I appreciate it, it certainly was glad to hear some of those old voices again.

And now, a word from Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Illinois:



Welcome to CYBER-Monday


Welcome to the Scope-Tech CYBER-Monday extravaganza. Check out all the other bloggers' contributions in the comments section below.  And "Thanks" to all the bloggers, active and retired who participated.

For those of you who may be new here, I'm Scope.  Shortly after starting this blog, I ran across a fellow blogger, we seemed to hit it off, and well, if you want to read the long story, jump back to 2009 / 2010 on the list over there –>, but we met, fell in love, got married, and are now living our happily ever after.

Work, on the other hand… We're in the crunch time of a year or so long project that is going to roll out at the end of February.  I'd been working from 8:00 to 6:00 or 6:30 most nights for the last few months.  And then, as of 2 weeks ago, the person who was the project lead is no longer with the Firm.  While we have a contractor in from the vendor to assist, I've now added an extra hour to my work day trying to catch up on all the stuff she was doing, coordinating with the contractor, and desperately trying to sneak in a few minutes each day to keep my portion of the project somewhat on track.


I bet you were wondering about my Thanksgiving dinner.  Well, we assembled at my sister's place, where she had a beautiful spread set up.

Working clockwise around the plate, we have our stuffing (or is it dressing) at noon, some grilled asparagus, grilled sweet potatoes, grilled turnips, and grill Brussels sprouts.   At the bottom of the plate are two yeasty rolls, some white meat turkey with some cranberry sauce, and some dark meat turkey, because I don't discriminate.  And the bull's-eye is mashed potatoes and gravy.   On the outside looking in is some whole kernel corn, and a nut brown ale called "Moose Drool".  Believe it or not, the grilled vegetables absolutely stole the show as far as I was concerned.  So, Candy, that really doesn't count as "plating" does it?


Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, I think this is the 5th time I 've run this clip.  It's a great Thanksgiving tradition.

I hope you all have a great holiday, and hope to hear from you on Cyber-Monday.

Bizarro - Turkey Club


CYBER MONDAY–The Challenge


As you probably know, Monday, December 2 has been dubbed, "Cyber Monday".  But is it really as an antiquated concept as buggy whips?  I mean, the Monday after Thanksgiving was named that because people would use their work's faster internet connections to do their shopping.

Is that really an issue now?  I mean, fast internet isn't just in your home, but it's on your phone.  Are people really waiting until they get to the office to hit Amazon?

So, let's repurpose "CYBER MONDAY".

One week from today, Monday, December 2**, post something, anything on your blog.  You've got a week.  Let's take the internet back from the shopper and the Facebookers* and celebrate "blog world" for at least one day.

Post what ever you want.  Even if it's just before/after pictures of your Thanksgiving plate.  (American's only.  I know Thursday isn't an international holiday.)

When you're done, swing back by Scope-Tech here and post a link.

And maybe catch up with an old friend.

And isn't friends and family one of the things we're all thankful for?

* I know the irony of the fact that I posted this on Facebook, and spend much more time on Facebook than on my blog, but I really do miss the "long form" of the blog.

** Corrected to the correct date, Monday, December 2nd.


Happy 9th




I'm so glad to for today.

9 years ago, my super fantastic, wonderful, amazing wife became…

The Girl Who Lived.


For Drying Out Loud

I have a confession to make.

I have a new favorite website, The United States Drought Monitor.

I grew up on a farm, so rainfall and the water table is something I still have an interest in.  Like following your childhood baseball team, even after you've lost interest in baseball in general.

Below is the current drought map.

Not bad, really.  Illinois and Iowa have been running a little dry this fall.  But that's okay.  The growing season is over, and the harvest is wrapping up.  They can wait a little while for the rain.

We had a nice rain storm blow through here on Halloween.  While one rain won't break a drought, this was a good couple of day soaker, that should at least roll back the drought index a little.

To watch the drought spread and dissipate, watch the below animation.  (FYI – based on the data from 7 am Tuesday, it is updated every Thursday at 8:30 am.)

So, do you have any favorite geeky websites?


What the BEEP!

Let me tell you a tale.

A tale of deception.
   A tale of confusion.
      A tale of a toaster oven.

I've always been a toaster over guy.  My parents flipped back and forth between toasters and toaster ovens.  Often having both of the counter at the same time.  I always leaned toward using the toaster oven.  It just was so much more convenient.

So, when I moved out on my own, they gave me a hand-me-down toaster oven.  Black & Decker.  It lasted a few years, and I replaced it with another B&D.  They both had that little lever on the front that when the timer was up, would ding a bell for you.  As the years went by, me and my toaster ovens made some great tuna melts, tater tots, and of course, toast.

5 years ago, as I was getting ready to move into my new condo, with the open concept kitchen.  I knew the old toaster oven was going to clash. Big time.  So I bought this sweet Cuisinart model.


(Not the actual toaster oven.  In all honesty, I didn't want to spend the time cleaning up the crumbs and 5 years of burnt on schmootz off it.)

It's a great toaster oven, but one thing: When it finished toasting, it shut off without a sound.  Just a subtle CLICK as the element turned off.  What's up with that?  Even the cheap-o models tell you when they are done.  They don't leave it up to you to remember that you toasted some raison bread half an hour ago and it's all cold and gnasty.

About 2 years ago, the strangest thing happened.  About twice, when it finished, it beeped.  But then we need to cook up some tater tots or something, and when we flipped it back to "Toast", it was silent again.

Until about 3 weeks ago.

After 5+ years, it now has decided to beep when it's done toasting.

And when it first did it, it freaked us the HELL OUT.  Nothing like a disembodied "Beep! Beep! Beep!" from the kitchen to get your attention.  Well, maybe when you're home, alone, in bed, getting ready to go to sleep, and you hear the terrifying sound of…

The toilet flushing.

But that's a story for another time.


Bracing For The Worst

So, a little over a year ago, we bit the bullet and took The Daughter® in for braces.  It was something that Cora was looking at back before the wedding, but since you pay such a front weighted fee for the braces, it just didn't make sense to do it before the move, and then with the court stuff going on and all, well, it just slide off to the side for a little while.

The Daughter's a beautiful young lady, but she was always embarrassed about her smile.  So, The Wife® called around for an orthodontist to get a preliminary consultation, and had a hard time finding anyone who had hours outside of school hours.  Seriously?  If you're an othro, most of your revenue comes from teenagers, right?  Who have school during the day, right? 

Anyway, when Cora eventually found one within walking distance from the school and the condo, who had evening and weekend hours, we set up that consultation.  Cora and I had talked about it.  With the parenting plan we have, The Daughter's biological father would be paying a portion of the bill, so we needed to do it in a fiscally responsible way, so we figured Invisaligns would be out, but maybe we would cover the cost difference between the old school metal braces and the semi-clear plastic ones.  She was already embarrassed about her smile, sticking her with a mouth full of steel for a couple of years seemed… cruel.

At the consultation, the ortho explained our options:

  • The old school metal braces were going to be around $5,000 and take about 2.5 years.
  • The clear plastic ones were going to be about $6,500 and he said that they broke a lot, and caused a lot more problems, including tooth damage than they were probably worth.

And that was it.  He ended his spiel.  As Cora, The Daughter, and I talked about the options, I asked him, "What about Invisaligns?"

"Oh, those would be about $5,000, same as the metal ones, and should take about 18 months."

WTF?  Dude, next time, lead with that.  LEAD WITH THAT!

Now, you have to be a good candidate with both the right type of dental issues and be able to follow the rules (wear them 20 hours a day, no eating with them in, etc.).  And the rule obeying girl with the front teeth that needed rotated was a great candidate.  So, they took a mold of her teeth, sent them off, and just before school last year, she started the program.


Now, if you don't know how it works, they take the "before" mold, and scan that into a computer and generate the "after", and then a number of incremental steps to get from "before" to "after" in 2 week increments.  Every 2 weeks, after the teeth have moved a little, you switch to the next set.  You are supposed to wear them 20 – 22 hours a day.  The orthodontist provides you with a handful of sets at a time.  When you need to get your next bunch, you schedule an appointment.  The Daughter has only been back to the chair once, for a couple minutes in all the appointments.  They are usually in/out in literally 5 minutes.  You take the trays out to eat and brush your teeth.  That means no food restrictions like regular braces.  But when they're in: cold water only.

Let me tell you, when you hear that they are virtually invisible, the truth is, they are.  I mean you have to be about a foot away and looking hard to notice them.  There was a bit of a lisp for the first few days, but it's faded.

And her teeth?  We're 30 sets in of the 34, and I have to tell you, if she stopped now, her teeth would be merely great.  I can't wait to see what the fine tuning of the last few sets.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Where's the proof?  Show me that smile."


She's getting a CD and a book that she's been waiting a long time for, so she's happy, and not remotely embarrassed to flash that smile.

That's how it worked for us.  Your mileage may vary.  Just saying that if you have a teen, don't rule out Invisaligns, and for sure, shop around for an orthodontist that has decent hours.


See You In The Funny Pages

No, I'm not closing down the blog.  I'm just going to tell you about two comic strips that I've stumbled across recently that may bring a smile to your face and a little laughter to your sick, twisted, demented heart.

Coincidentally, they both reuse artwork.

The first one is called Last Kiss.  John Lustig, a former comic book writer for Disney, bought the rights to some old romance comic books, and rewrote the dialog and had them re-colored.  I guess this is what happens you write Donald Duck stories.  After a while, your mind kind of… SNAPS!

Here's a few examples:

last.last120604 last.last120608
last090902 last090911
last090930 last090916
last130927 last090914

The second one is called That Is Priceless (@ Go Comics) / That is Priceless (@ blogspot).  Steve Melcher has won two Emmys for comedy writing.  He's taken some great masterworks, and retitled them for the modern day.

This-Is-Priceless-Death This-Is-Priceless-Tide
These two were Cora's favorites.
This-Is-Priceless-Cliff This-Is-Priceless-Medussa
This-Is-Priceless-Dogsled This-Is-Priceless-Depp
This-Is-Priceless-Hair This-Is-Priceless-Gordita

See, recycling isn't just for those damn dirty hippies.


Happy Anniversary


So, I haven't been blogging as much these days, but this summer, I totally let two big ones slip by.  I didn't even realize I'd missed it until recently.  The thing is, the kind of bookended my 3rd wedding anniversary, so I totally flaked.

25 years ago, July 1, 1988 – I moved to the Chicago area.

25 years ago, July 5, 1988 – I started my first real job working for Arthur Andersen.

I still remember the move up:

  • Hot as blazes, hauling my stuff up to a 3rd floor walkup.
  • I moved everything up in a pickup truck and hatchback (now it would take 2 moving trucks)
  • I had a 9" color TV, a C-64, a king sized waterbed, and 3 suits.
  • Having to go to the gas station to use the payphone.
  • The radio station, 97X, was doing a stunt called "Topless Weather" from their rooftop ("Tar Beach") with a buxom listener going to the edge of the roof, and reading the weather.

I still remember those first days of work:

  • Hot as blazes, heading downtown in my suit and tie.
  • Living of Patio frozen burritos and Lean Cuisines.
  • Not knowing a soul at the office.
  • Losing my wallet and train pass (link).

Life's really changed tons since those days.  It's seems like yesterday, but it was really half a lifetime ago.  The best part about being that guy at that time?  Those times and those experiences led me to where I am today.  And if I knew then where I'd be now, the then me would be stoked.

And I would tell him to buy Apple stock @ under $10.00 a share.


Flag–You're It!

Does your city/town have a flag?  Most medium and up sizes cities seem to.  It's a form of civic branding, I guess.

And some brands images are just stronger than others.

I live in Chicago, and we have a pretty good flag.


There's all kinds of symbolism in the blue and white stripes, and each star stands for an event and each point a virtue.  Yada-yada-yada.  (Link for details.)

And I'm the only one who thinks so, the North American Vexillological Association conducted a survey in 2004, and Chicago came in second.  And then there's the vote of the residents.  To say you see the Chicago city flag everywhere is an understatement.  And I'm not simply talking in front of city hall and on police uniforms, either.  I mean everywhere.

You see it on all kinds of clothing and decorations and tattoos.


And you see its motif riffed all over the place, too:

FLAG-Goose FLAG-TARDISThis one is for you, Joshua.

It's so common, that a few months ago, when I was talking about how ugly the Illinois flag is, Cora was confused.  I was talking about how it looked like it was drawn by a 5th grader.  I started talking about the clunky eagle and the rock, and it became clean quick that we weren't talking about the same flag.  She'd just seen the Chicago one all over the place, and hadn't see the Illinois one:


that she just presumed that it was the state flag.

But no matter how ugly your city flag is, it's probably not the hot mess that is Chicago's neighbor to the north Milwaukee.

FLAG- Milwaukee

I mean, that would hurt like a mofo to get tattooed on your bicep.


Logan's Rum


I know I posted this last week on Facebook, but for both of you who read here but not there, and to provide a little backstory (and to put some decent content out on the blog), I'd thought I'd repost it here.

So, the other evening, after another long day in a string of long days, I was riding the L home.  The 30 something across the way had a blue re-useable shopping bag with a logo for a charity even called "Logan's Run".

I remember thinking, "It's so tough, it will kill anyone over 30."  And I wondered if she even knew of the movie that the bag was riffing on.

And then I thought, "I could sure use some 'Logan's Rum' about now.".  Sandman myself.

Not having my own distillery, this is the best that I could brew up.  It was harder to find a decent looking booze bottle to mod than you would expect.  All had horrible watermarks all over them.


Smooth Move, EX-LAX

Have you ever played the French card game, Mille Bourne?  As you drive along, you can either advance your cause my playing mileage, or you can try to thwart your opponents with a "hazard" card.

But, you run the risk of having that attack ricochet back on you in the form of a "coup-fourre".  I recently saw someone coup-fourre themselves.  He didn't have to do it.  He'd been warned to change his approach, but in the end, he was the source of his own doing.

Hoisted on his own petard if you will.


Now I know what you're thinking, "What did Cora's EX do this time."  Nope, not him.  He's been quiet as of late.  (And he has read this blog on occasion, so there's that, too.)

No, this is about a temporary boss I had.  He only "worked" at my company for about 4 months.  And by that I mean, "collected a paycheck" not "was in his office performing any actual work."  In 4 months, I'm certain he didn't put in one full week of 5 X 7 hour days.  (Yeah, 7 hour days.)



Now, I'm reporting to a friend of mine who I've known across 3 companies for about 23 years.  Not too excited about this.  Now we've each lost the one person at work who we could safely bitch to.  And there's a big project that's behind schedule because of the previous boss, and she's trying to get it back on track, and I'm already working from 8:00 to 6:00, and things are only going to get worse.



Tag–You're It!

So, you ever have one of those "skin tag" things?  You know, one of those annoying little flaps of skin?  What did you do ignore it?  Take action?

Until very recently (less than 2 hours at the time of writing this) I had a skin tag.

In that crease where your @$$ turns into the back of your leg.  I could sort of reach it, butt needed a mirror to see it.  It was decent sized.  Like a pencil eraser, not one of those little "grain of rice" sized ones.

It's been a pain in the, well, a pain in the place it's located for a couple of years, butt recently, I've decided it needed to go.

So, first we tried freezing it off with liquid nitrogen.  That really made it angry and sore.

So Saturday, I tried to take matters into my own hands.  With a set of nail scissors.

I got some of it.  And a bloody mess with the rest.

So Sunday, Cora and I went to Target and got a more "industrial" set of loppers to take this thing off in one snip.

At least that was there theory.

So, Sunday afternoon, the bravest woman in the world went after the skin tag with the loppers.  She wasn't really HAPPY about this, butt she cowgirled up and…


I felt a zing in my leg and knew two things:

  1. She'd made it thru the nerve core.
  2. She didn't make it all the way thru.
  3. It was bleeding pretty good.
  4. I had forgotten how to count.

Second snip.  Nearly Headless Nick was still hanging on.

Third snip: with the skin tag still in the pinch, I jerked away and the little bugger ripped off.

And the blood flowed.

Cora was a bit shaken, butt she performed like a champion.  And now that the bleeding has stopped, most of the tenderness has also subsided.

So I only have one question:  Can I take the bloody loppers back to Target for a refund?  I think the return clerk won't ask too many questions if they look like a murder weapon.


A Plate In My Head

I usually walk around with 1 or 2 cameras with me at all times (phone + point-n-shoot in bag), but sometimes it seems to be too much of a hassle to pull one out just for a mildly amusing shot.

And then there are other times that are totally worth it.

Recently, I've seen three license plates that REQUIRED a picture.

This first one, I saw parked along the street in my neighborhood.


Not a car I want to ding in the parking lot of an Italian restaurant.  And I'm sure it freaks out the valet who has to start it.

This second one I saw on the street when we were out in Seattle (hence mountains and a Washington plate).  Luckily, I had my "better than a dash cam" wife Cora riding shotgun, who was able to snap this pic in traffic.


In case you can't read that it says:


Now, that's a sentiment that needs to be heard by our next driver.  Once again, Cora was quick on the draw and snapped this one before they got away:


In case you can't read that it says:


"F* O.P.E.C, too" on a Prius.  Well played on slipping that one past the Secretary of States office censors.

I know I've seen a bunch of other pretty good ones, and I'll try to make the effort to get the shots in the future. Promise.