Friday, February 27, 2009
The temperature dropped all day as the wind picked up. I worked 12 hours in that crap, my truck broke down in my driveway and this is what I came home to. Chrissy sitting on the couch eating bon bons with Fluffy. So what's on TV, fucking American Idol. This is another example of why America is declining. No "welcome home sweetie", no dog bringing me my slippers but wait...Chrissy did make calzones for dinner. OK things are looking up. How about dessert? Chrissy made cookies earlier in the week, they are in the cookie jar. How 1950's, Ozzie & Harriet-like. How about a little after dinner action? Whoa, I must be dreaming, was that a possible gleam in her eyes. NOPE. She has to watch the results show for American Idol. She DVR'd the shows from earlier this week. OK no sex again. But at least she's thinking by recording American Idol, because if there ever was a show that should be fast forwarded through the crap, it's American Idol.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
OK, the picture gives it away. Here's the story. Years ago, I was on the phone with my friend, Rick Voss. He says, "Hold on a minute, I gotta order a fat man salad." Then I hear him at the Dairy Queen drive up window ordering an Oreo Cookie Blizzard. When he gets back on the phone, I'm still laughing my ass off about the Fat Man Salad. So let's give Rick credit for renaming the blizzard. Since it is Fat Tuesday, I decided to put my "Commitment To Excellence" on hold for a day and have a Heath Bar Fat Man Salad. Damn, a thousand calories never tasted so good.
6 lbs of aluminum cans
18 lbs of sheet aluminum
58 lbs of copper wire
8 lbs of cast aluminum
29 lbs of brass
320 lbs of iron scrap
That is what I recycled today at Metro Recyclers. I got enough money to pay for a dinner for two at Café Borgia. Every bit of that would have been thrown in the garbage. For the past few years, I have taken anything recyclable from my house or my job and filled up several cans with this garbage. When the cans get full I take them to the scrap yard and make a few spare dollars. It doesn't take much time or space and I can feel like I'm doing something productive. Try it yourself and I'll meet you at Café Borgia which just happens to be across the street from a former garbage dump.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
It has been too long since I took my dogs out for a walk in the woods. So early this morning, they realized I wasn't going to work. The each took turns trying to wake me up. I eventually gave up trying to get some sleep and bundled up for a day with my dogs. It is a beautiful sunny day so I brought my camera for the walk. We hiked through Brownell Woods. (Note to Cook County Forest Preserve, why are all the parking lots blocked off in Thornton?) Oslo found fresh deer tracks in the snow and was frantic to follow them. Fluffy did her usual slow pace about 20 feet behind us. There was a sign that spring is coming, I heard birds chirping today. During the winter, I only hear the occasional woodpecker at work. I did see a woodpecker going at a tree last year on a bitterly cold day. I don't know enough about birds to know if they usually migrate or not. The only other sounds I hear are the twigs snapping when the deer run or the train whistle from nearby tracks. Today we walking along the tracks then through a field back to the car. The picture is of the backside of the Thornton Quarry. I think it is the biggest limestone quarry in the world. After we got home, both dogs passed out in the living room, so I took a nap on the couch. I'm going to spend my day just like my dogs. So goodbye for now, I gotta go pee in the yard. Happy Birthday to my German Grandfather, he would have been 92 today.
Old man winter decided to visit again. The local weathermen hyped it as a big winter storm. Overnight we got about 2" of snow but that was it for the whole day. The wind did pick up to about 30 mph which made it feel much colder than 20 degrees. It also caused the snow to blow around all day. I had to run an emergency call with a pipe fitter, Rich. We had to find a leak in the pipe to a diesel pump and replace it. This job wouldn't have been too bad except it was in Bumfuck, IL and the wind blew across the open fields surrounding the station at what seemed like gale force winds. We saw small farm animals flying by in the wind. I kept looking for that asshole from the Weather Channel to do a live shot standing in the road. So to passed the time, I sang this song from Winnie The Pooh's "Blustery Day".
Hum dum dum ditty dum
Hum dum dum
Oh the wind is lashing lustily
And the trees are thrashing thrustily
And the leaves are rustling gustily
So it's rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubtedly
It looks like a rather blustery day, today
It sounds that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubtedly
Looks like a rather blustery day today
When I got home, I sat on the couch and ate a pot of honey.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Here's a shot of downtown Chicago from the Damen ramp on the Stevenson expressway. It was a beautiful sunny day but the wind chill was about zero. When people talk about going to the city, this is where they go. Most visitors never venture into the various neighborhoods that make up the real Chicago. It really is a shame because the tourist areas do not reveal the true heart of the city.
A sign of the times at 47th and California. A closed factory with a for sale sign on it. I see way too many of these driving throughout the Chicagoland area. It doesn't look like this is going to change anytime soon. You really have to wonder about all the people who have lost their jobs. There really is no work to be found right now. Of course, the type of jobs this factory provided are probably gone forever in this country. When the economy turns around, this building will be razed and turned into condos which will cost more than all the Chinese factory workers that now make this product will make in ten lifetimes.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I had to drive from East Chicago, IN to Morocco, IN today with a stop in Crown Point. I'll admit to being in a contemplative mood, hell I was listening to Super Sounds Of The Seventies on my satellite radio all day. In East Chicago you can see the relics of a time when America was the most powerful industrial country in the world. Anyway, after seeing the effects of the steel industry's decline in East Chicago, I headed south through the suburban sprawl of Hammond, Highland, Schererville, St. John and Crown Point. Here is where the children of those steelworkers all moved. They didn't rent anymore, they moved up the social ladder and bought a house. Now most of these towns are just strip malls, big box stores and fast food shitholes. Some people would say these are signs of middle class prosperity. If living in an area where you can drive past 9 McDonalds in a 25 minute drive is living in prosperity, then these people are rich. It isn't my idea of living somewhere nice, but to each his own. Driving south of Crown Point is like driving backwards through time. As the speed limit gets higher and the stop lights fewer, the further back into America's past you go. The farms kept getting bigger, no fast food joints, mostly boarded up roadside places long out of business with names like JJ's, Peggy's or just a rusty Coca-Cola sign swinging in the wind. I could picture a better time when a truckload of farm kids would be driving along those gravel farm roads just happy to be done working in the fields. Most of those kids probably moved north to those same towns the steelworkers kids moved south to buy homes. I finally ended my journey in Morocco, a town whose biggest claim to fame is the Spilatro brothers were buried there. If you saw the movie, Casino, you know about the Spilatro brothers. These pictures were taken on my drive today. The court house is in Crown Point. It is also famous for another criminal act. John Dillinger escaped from here using a bar of soap carved into a gun. So America used to only have it's East Chicago's and it's Morocco's. You worked in a factory or on a farm. Then the suburbs were created and it's been downhill ever since for this country. Am I the lone wolf howling at this moon? What do you think?
Monday, February 16, 2009
This winter has been extremely harsh on our cars. The potholes have been huge & numerous. The salt has coated the car most of the winter. So while running errands with my dogs, I decided to run my car through the car wash. I can remember being so excited as a kid to go through a car wash. The ones with a chain that pulled your car through the tunnel as the water sprayed, then the soap, the the big spinning cloth wheels just whipping around the car. It must not have been an exciting childhood, if the car wash was a big deal. So what, I was a dork. I liked going to the car wash. I actually worked at one when I lived in Cincinnati. The highlight of that job was when the Feds came and took away one of the kids that worked there. No one knew why & I never found out. He never came back either. So today, I took pictures in the car wash. It was the kind where you pull in and stop. Then the machine moves around your car. Not as exciting as I remember. I guess my life has improved a bit since I was a child. My dogs were just mad I rolled up the windows during the wash.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
We played long time rivals, the Bulldogs tonight. They haven't lost a game this season. The Bulldogs beat us 3-2 with a late goal last time we played them. We have a three game winning streak on the line. It was a great night of back & forth hockey. Both teams had numerous chances, both goalies stood on their heads. We opened the scoring with a short handed goal. They took a 2-1 lead. The go ahead goal after I failed to clear the zone. We tied it early in the third period and took the lead on a great shot to the upper corner by Matt McCarthy. The Bulldogs tied the game with 45 seconds left. It ended a 3-3 tie. Ties are usually described as "like kissing your sister". this one should be described as "like kissing your sister if she is smoking hot" because it was a great game to play in. Every shift mattered. The pace was very fast and the game was played clean. A game like that is why we play hockey late on a Thursday night. For an hour and a half, hockey was the only thing on our minds, that's why we play. A cold one with teammates after game is another reason.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I guess I'll describe my day in a fog
It started with an early morning jog
I took along Oslo, he's my younger dog
We ran in the woods past a foggy bog
When we got home, we each dropped a log
Then off to work, where I'm a small cog
I was late, the highway had a clog
For lunch, I had the legs of a frog
While driving through the smog
I crashed into a synagogue
Went home and drank Swedish Glogg
With my dinner of Green Eggs and hog
And listened to music, not digital but analog
“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.” - Dr. Seuss
All apologies to Dr. Seuss for today's blog.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Sure this picture may look familiar. Go back to January 27th. Just two weeks ago. That picture was also taken from my front stoop. But what a difference a record high temperature of 65 degrees has made. We can see the greenish brown lawns for the first time since Christmas. The alley isn't covered in two inches of solid ice. Three weeks ago it was -19 degrees, today was 84 degrees warmer. All the snow & ice is gone in just 3 days. Of course we now have flood warnings but it felt great to work in a t-shirt today and drive with the window down. Back to reality the next few days, but maybe we have broken Old Man Winter's back. We'll see.
I'm only a month into this blogging thing and I already have my biggest fans. So this one goes out to Bill Valentine and his wife Vicky. Bill first wrote to me about pictures of a dinner I made for my wife. He asked me to quit posting stuff like that because he already has to worry about his wife around our friends, Reg & Walt. His wife also sent an e-mail saying she hoped Billy would get back to playing hockey soon so that my cooking & cleaning would rub off on him. Since then I have gotten several e-mails about updating the blog daily. So today's pictures of preparing onions, peppers (from our garden) and garlic for sausage sandwiches goes out to Bill's wife, Vicky. Seriously, thanks for reading this blog everyday. But in typical locker room fashion, I have to give Bill a shot. So Vicki, if Bill isn't taking care of dinner once in awhile, maybe there are other areas Bill let's you down. I'm sure you could find several hockey players that could help you out.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Debbie & I have been friends since we met in eighth grade. We grew up across the street from each other. For over 30 years now, we've kept in touch on a pretty regular basis. For quite awhile we've treated each other to dinner for our respective birthdays. Even though Deb's was 3 weeks ago, last night was her birthday dinner. We ate at Mado in Bucktown. The place prides itself on using local suppliers for meat & produce. It has a limited menu, but I liked it. I had grilled trout stuffed with pork belly confit & spinach. Surprisingly delicious. The night flew by as usual. When we get together, the conversation is always entertaining and the time together is always a joy to me. As usual something goofy happened last night. I parked on Milwaukee Avenue about a block from the restaurant. While we were looking for the parking times on the meter, we started discussing how Mayor Daley sold the parking meters to a private company. It will soon cost 3 to 4 times as much to park on the streets. Then we realized these were new meters and have to be fed from 9am to 9pm everyday. As I'm dropping in quarters (15 minutes for a quarter), I'm bitching about the Mayor fucking up the city once again. After putting in $1.75, Deb's boyfriend, George, tells me I'm feeding the meter for the car behind me. I had to scrounge up 6 more quarters to cover my car while George walked across the street looking for a meter with time on it. Anyway, that's why there's a picture with Chrissy, George & Deb by a parking meter. The other picture is in Mado with the chalkboard menu behind them.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Another great day of skiing at Boyne Mountain. Blue skies and sunshine, temps in the mid 30's. Absolutely perfect. I skied the harder runs most of the day. By 3pm I had nothing left in my legs. Walt & I headed for the bar at the lodge. We jokingly noticed the amount of rich older women in the bar. As the rest of our group wandered into the bar, the "cougars" became the main topic of conversation. The more they drank, the wilder they got. There were several big groups of these women and it began to look like a feeding frenzy on the National Geographic channel. We barely escaped with just a few scrathes and claw marks to show for our time in the bar. It was all done in fun and good for a few laughs. The picture on the left is us barely escaping with our lives. The other is the house we rented. BTW, Happy Birthday to Bob Marley.
It was a bit chilly 10-20 degrees and a bit windy. But we had a great day skiing at Schuss Mountain. Since I was the weak skier in the group, I took the easier runs. But I got my ski legs after awhile and tried some black diamond runs. Now this isn't out west or even a real mountain. It's northern Michigan. So black diamond runs would be green or possibly blue runs out west. So what. A good time was had by our group of seven. We topped off the day with an hour of tubing down several very fast runs. Then had dinner at the lodge and watched Liam Neeson kill about 45 guys while trying to save his daughter in "Taken". A good day overall.
I'm off to go skiing in Michigan with Walter(see Jan 31st post), Jim Drescher and a group of his co-workers. It's a beautiful sunny day here in Illinois but just 15 miles east of here, a different story. Lake effect snow. Depending where you live in Northwest Indiana, you got from 4 to 20 inches. This makes it very hard for those Hoosiers to find the outhouse in the backyard. Of course, I'm teasing, some might have indoor plumbing. Anyway, I have to drive through this area to get to Michigan, which also gets lake effect snow. To be honest, the storm was ending by the time I drove through, but I did get this cool sunset shot.
Last month, in the subway tunnels of NYC. I came across a guy in a wheelchair playing the blues. If you've never heard music in a subway tunnel, the sound can be perfect (if the musician is actually good). I think the concrete provides just the right amount of reverb. Maybe a musician can explain it better. Anyway this wheelchair bound old black musician could really play guitar and his singing wasn't bad either. He had his guitar case open for tip money but he was selling this CD for $10. Initially I walked by enjoying the music, then I turned back and bought the CD. I finally listened to that CD today. It's pretty good. The reason I bought the CD was because of my friend, Phil Delgado. Like me, he loves music. All kinds of music. He recently called me and told me about an organization called 'Playing For Change'. It started out with Mark Johnson making a video of street performers from around the world singing 'Stand By Me'. He started a foundation to help promote peace through music and over the years has built music schools in poor countries. Check out the site at http://www.playingforchange.com If you'd like to read the blog that gave me the idea for this blog, it's called "They Call Me Uncle Phil". His daughter Kathy started it to keep everyone updated on his health issues. There you can read about a man who has improved the lives of all who know him and see why he is like a second father to me.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Hello Boys & Girls. Today's lesson is about recycling. Let's see what we can learn about the person who recycles from this picture. Besides caring about the environment, this person changes the oil in his vehicles, he also makes homemade tomato sauce which he serves with the same Chianti Classico as seen on The Sopranos. It looks like he drinks a couple different beers while his Irish friends drink Guinness. This person also washes his dishes by hand using an environmentally friendly dish soap. Some people might make fun of this person, they may say he is naive or call him a tree hugger. I bet those people don't want a garbage dump in their neighborhoods. So don't be like those hypocrites, recycle everything, every time.
The only food I can make from scratch is pasta sauce. I had my mom teach me how to make sauce when I was a kid. I have a ritual whenever I make the sauce that I have followed for as long as I can remember. I listen to Billy Joel's "The Stranger" album. I think that it started years ago because the LP sleeve had a picture of the band sitting in a NYC apartment eating Italian food at a kitchen table. So that image and the song called "Scene From An Italian Restaurant" remind me of making pasta. I also put aside the whole day for making the sauce. I really enjoy the whole process, from cutting the garlic cloves, the wonderful smell of garlic roasting in olive oil, adding the paste, whole tomatoes and then the puree, the spices, the wine, the sausage, making the meatballs, tasting the sauce as it cooks and adding more oregano or a pinch of salt, making the garlic bread, grating the parmigiano reggiano and romano cheeses. Then cleaning up the whole mess while it cooks the rest of the day. Then, as in this case, the friends coming over for the Super Bowl Party, opening bottles of wine, having a beer, catching up, telling stories, laughing, enjoying the game. Thanks to Walt, Eric, Mike & Pat for stopping by. Notice one advantage of our cold winter, free snow to keep the beer cold.