Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 31 My Ski Buddy

A perfect winter day. 35 degrees, sunny, light winds. Skiing at Devil's Head in Wisconsin. Walt and I planned this trip all week. On Thursday night during our hockey game, I decided to use my head to break my fall backwards into the boards. Slighty concussed and barely able to turn my head, we drove to Wisconsin at 6:30am. It really was a great day of skiing. The usual talk about politics, music and women. Of course there were several comments that made me laugh. Walt listens to music on his Iphone while skiing. This causes him to speak a bit too loud on the ski lifts. As we are discussing which run to take back down, I decide against going down the moguls. He asks "are you afraid I'm going to blow you"....then he starts fiddling with his Iphone and never finishes the sentence, which I assume will end with "away". I start laughing and reply "I never thought of you in that way". Later, also on the lift, we are discussing hockey defense. Walt says "he prefers a man on man style", then just starts laughing in mid sentence. Finally in the parking lot, I'm removing my ski boots and ski pants and I look across the truck and Walt has his pants down with his balls swinging in the wind. I had my camera out taking possible pictures for this blog and suggest I make that the picture of the day. I also said jokingly the only one who would recognize them would be his linemate, Reg (see Jan 29th post). And Walt replies "No! Lots of guys would recognize them!" I fell out of the truck laughing.

January 30 Who Loves You?

My day got fucked up because of work. Late in the day I ran a call way up north in Glenview. It was 4:30pm. I had a 7pm meeting. Due to unbelievable Friday night traffic on the Edens, Kennedy & Dan Ryan highways, I made it to 95th Steet by 6:15pm. Fifteen minutes on the Bishop Ford freeway and I'd be home. But wait just a minute, the electronic sign says it will be 1 hour and 50 minutes to 159th St. 10 fucking miles, 110 motherfucking minutes. I could walk there faster. So I decide to take local roads. Great. So did several hundred other drivers. I had to reschedule my meeting. I didn't get home until 7:37pm. But that's not what this is about, it's just the set up. I am furious and I walk in the door. Fluff & Oslo are there to greet me. All happy to see me. It's about 5 degrees outside. So I take them for a walk to the bank since I need to use the ATM anyway. They loved it. I cut across an open field on the way and Oslo was jumping around in the knee deep snow. How could I still be angry? My dogs love me. It's like the joke about who loves you more, your wife or your dog. Put them both in the trunk of your car for an hour, open the trunk. Which one will be happy to see you?

January 29 The Living Legend Line...Almost

I play hockey with the Northstar team at HF Ice Arena. We won our third game in a row to go over .500 at 3-2. Here's a picture on the way out of the rink of two-thirds of our Living Legend line. Eric 'Reg' Dunlop and Walt Jadek. Pat O'Gorman is the missing third member of the line. As far as I can tell, they nicknamed their own line, The Living Legend, a few years ago. It is usually said with a bit of sarcasm or a laugh. We just play for the love of the game. Also to forget about the daily bullshit and hang out with the guys. Win or lose, there is plenty of laughter after the game and anyone in that locker room can be the source or the target.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

January 28 Sunshine & Blue Skies

If you've ever spent a winter in Chicago, you understand the importance of today's header. I really do enjoy the changing seasons here, but the complete lack of sun from December through April can get depressing. It's not like Alaska, the sun does rise everyday. It's the blanket of gray clouds that get in the way of enjoying it. Due to the archaic daylight savings law, I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark for over two months every year. At least I work outside, so on the rare occasion there is sunshine in winter, I can soak it up. But another cruel joke from Mother Nature is that the sunny days are usually bitterly cold. I believe because the clouds keep the heat closer to the ground. So today was exceptionally rare, a warm (28 degrees) day with sun and blue skies as you can see in the picture. Since it snowed again last night the snow looks so fresh and so clean. Picture taken in Crete, IL.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 27 My Front Stoop

Last year, I took a picture from my front stoop everyday of the year. I had help from my nephew Kennedy and my friend Patty. They took pictures when I was on vacation. Anyway that was my little photo project last year. Today's picture is from my front stoop. I thought I'd announce that last year's project is now available for you to see. Why not piss away some more of your valuable time by checking it out at

January 26 Getting Old Just Sucks

Maybe I should have called this blog 'Getting Old Just Sucks'. I could easily rant on a daily basis about the diminished quality of life I seem to be heading toward like a wave rushing to the shore. Today's picture was suppose to be taken at my hockey game. I even remembered to bring my camera along with my equipment bag, 2 hockey sticks, the team water bottles and the puck bag. I forgot the camera in the locker room, so after the game I tried to take a picture and I forgot the CF card. So now all I got is a picture of the score sheet. The night wasn't a complete washout. We managed to beat our arch rivals the Predators 5-3. I know the score sheet says 4-3 but we got an empty net goal with 2 seconds left. We haven't beaten them in almost a year, so it was a great win for us. It might only be a beer league but we still want to play well and tonight the team played great.

Monday, January 26, 2009

January 25 Remember the old Enjoli Commercial

"I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never ever let you forget you're a man" Well that was my day today, well except for that last part. I got up early, took the dogs for a walk in the woods, ran a call, cleaned the dishes, did laundry and made the wonderful dinner you see here. Shrimp cocktail appetizer, salmon with lemon & butter and a three cheese pasta dish. And for dessert a cinnamon bundt cake. After dinner, Chrissy sat on the couch watching crap on TV and I decided to never, ever forget that I'm a man.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 24 It's All About Connections

My friend Jimmy's little sister, Cindy, was born when I was a senior in high school. She is one of the few kids I've spent time with their whole lives. She was the flower girl at my wedding. Chrissy & I would take her to the zoo or into Chicago for the day. She really is the little sister I never had. She now works for Congressman Visclosky. She offered me tickets to the inauguration. At first I said I would love to go. After the election, I began reading about what Barack Obama being elected meant to African Americans. I truly wanted him to win because of his ideas and positions on the issues that matter to me. I thought he could return this country to what it once was. Another nod to MLK, I wanted him to be my President because of his character, not the color of his skin. Then the historic nature of his election slowly crept in, how people thought this day would never come, older black people thinking they would never live to see this day. My favorite quote was "now when a black parent tells their child 'you can be President' that child can actually believe it". I told Cindy, I still wanted to go to the Inauguration, but not if my tickets would prevent a black person from going. It means more to them to be standing there witnessing this event. I didn't get tickets but I did get an Invitation and a Program from the Inuaguration. Thanks Cindy.

January 23 Feed The World

This is what a corn field looks like in winter. This was once over 1000 acres of corn field. It is now about 3 acres (hell I'm guessing, what do i know about acres, lets say about 2 city blocks). My point today is that suburban sprawl has spread like a disease. You can travel over 60 miles outside of Chicago and still be in the suburbs. The farm fields keep turning into generic looking developments with nothing distinctive about them, except for mind numbing blandness. Now more and more of our food comes from nations without strict health standards. So here's my point, I can't eat a fucking peanut butter sandwich today because it might kill me. So for the love of God, quit moving out to the boondocks!!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

January 22 Finally Above Freezing

It finally got above 32 degrees today. Not by much, but it actually felt warm today. The sunshine helped. On the downside this weekend's high temperatures are supposed to be in the single digits. The sun and the warmer air created all the icicles along my gutters in the back. I broke up couple off and gave them to Oslo because he loves to eat ice. They are getting pretty big and I pictured one falling and spearing one of my dogs. I guess I'll have to get the ladder out and break them off before that happens. Anyway, the highlight of my day was picking up the dog shit in 8" of snow in my yard. I spared you pictures of that fun activity.

January 21 The Nightmare Ends

The headline says it all for America. God had better help us. The Bush administration destroyed every aspect of our country. They performed a miracle. Every decision they made was wrong. Eight years of never doing the right thing. Do you understand how fucking hard it is to be wrong every time for eight years. I disagree with Obama not wanting to investigate Bush & Cheney's many illegal activities. What they did is called treason. Crimes against America by Americans. Treason. Now I don't know how far up your ass your head must be to not see the complete destruction caused by the Bush administration. So in keeping with Obama's conciliatory actions, I will offer my services in helping you extract your head from where it currently resides.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 20 MLK's Dream Comes True

"I have a dream that one day that this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal'." - MLK

"Today is a great day because George Bush is no longer President. Today is an extraordinary day because Barack Obama is President." - GCO

January 19 I Have A Dream...and this wasn't it

I do service work on gas station equipment. I usually just say I fix gas pumps. I did not grow up dreaming of doing this type of work. It just kind of found me, I guess. It's not glamorous work but it has paid the bills for 24 years now. Today I had to use that red test can to verify the pumps are accurate. We run 5 gallon tests to check the calibration of each grade of fuel. We pour the gas back into the tanks on the drive. The orange cones are there because stupid people are allowed to have driver licenses. So this is what I did on Martin Luther King Jr Day.

January 18 A Heat Wave - 14 Degrees

It might be hard to believe, but the temperature went up 33 degrees to +14 degrees and it felt warm. So I took the dogs early in the morning to Brownell Woods for a hike in the snow. For some reason the parking lot was blocked off even though it had been plowed. I parked in the nearby neighborhood and when we got to the entrance about seven deer are standing still staring at us. Oslo, who always acts like the tough guy, just froze in step. He didn't bark either. Just stood still, then the deer took off into the woods. The dogs had a blast. The snow was about 8-12" deep in some spots. Fluffy was running around like a puppy. Oslo was all excited by the deer tracks we came across, of course no deer were in sight. All three of us romped in high snow through one of the fields at Brownell. On the way back both dogs stopped to remove the packed snow/ice from their paws.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 17 My Name is Oslo

This is our 2 year old Great Pyrenees, Oslo. More commonly called 'The Fanook'. He drives us crazy but always manages to make us laugh so it is hard to stay mad at him. He sleeps on his back with his legs stretched out on both ends. He was sleeping and woke up as I took the picture. He loves to look out that window like a nosy old lady on the block. As soon as I drive by, he sees my truck, jumps off the bed and meets me at the back door. He also takes Fluffy's treats from her and brings them on the bed because the old girl can't jump up there. Too bad Marley & Me came out because I could have written Oslo & Me.

January 16 Another Failed Resolution

Today it dropped to -19 degrees and I dropped another resolution. I needed a quick hot meal and you can see what I settled on. I kept my no burgers resolution for 15 days. Oh well, I can blame it on my seasonal deficit disorder, the biting cold or my lack of will power. Just so you know, that is the previous day's time card. I was thawing out my pens on the dashboard so I could start a new time card for the 16th.

January 15 Getting Colder

I know the picture sucks. But look closely or click on it to see full size. It is the instrument panel on my work truck showing the temperature at -7 degrees . I always asy it is easier to beat the cold than beat the heat. You can bundle up in winter but you can only strip down so far in summer. If I had a sexy body I could get away with stripping down further but that is probably another post topic. All you need to know is that 7 below zero is a bit chilly.

Monday, January 19, 2009

January 14 Eight Degrees

My first day back at work. Welcome to Chicago's winter. It took me 3 hours to drive 34 miles. The snow was falling and traffic was stopped. I looked at this IBEW sign for almost 15 minutes before I decided to take a picture for my blog. Unfortunately it is suppose to get colder the next few days.

January 13 Chinese Eyes

Here's Chrissy proudly wearing her Polar Bears For Obama shirt (see Jan 9th post). We are at Macarthur Airport for an early morning flight home. The reason she has her head turned is because she can't look at the camera and keep her eyes open. Hence the Chinese eyes reference.

January 12 Fluffy's Cafe

Our last day in NYC. At least it should have been but after a mad dash running with suitcases down Sutphin Blvd to catch the LIRR to Ronkonkama, we found that our flight was canceled. Fucking Southwest Airlines. But I digress. We ran into Manhattan to pick up my Aunt's birthday present, a photograph of horse carraiges in a snowy Central Park that I had enlarged and framed for her. We decided to eat breakfast here at Fluffy's. Now it is the name of our female dog and maybe that's why we stopped here years ago. But it is a typical little place that makes NY great. It is open almost 24 hours. You can get a fantastic breakfast until 1pm. The baked goods are top notch and always fresh. Of course the people watching is extremely entertaining. Years ago I was eating breakfast here with the Delgados when I got the phone call that my grandfather had died. So it reminds me of him and how he passed his love of his hometown on to me.

January 11 The Transit Museum

I've been wanting to get back to the NYC Transit Museum for years. Basically it is an abandoned subway station with a Subway Museum in it. I have a bunch of family members that have worked for the NYC subway. As a kid, I would stand in the front car looking out the door and my grandfather would explain how all the signals worked. I'll admit to being a bit of a subway geek. If you've ever been to NYC you know it is the only way to get around. The museum has a bunch of old cars with the advertisements still in them. A great way to spend a cold January Sunday. For info check out If you're a subway geek check out their store at

January 10 Aunt Maryann's Surprise Party

This is why we went to NYC. OK, I did want to try to do some work around my Uncle's house, but that didn't go too well. So, we went for my Aunt Maryann's 65th Surprise Party. Even though the weatherman predicted a major snow storm...SURPRISE we only got an inch or two, the party was well attended and everyone had a good time.

January 9 I Love NYC

I LOVE NYC and these pictures are examples of why I LOVE NYC. We were wandering aimlessly and found this painted on a building. I have no idea what it is, but I love good street art.Then we found our way to Union Square Park. It is a favorite of ours due to the various outdoor markets and the dog park. Yes, we are the weirdos without dogs playing with dogs in there. Hey we miss our dogs when we travel. Anyway we found this booth of T-Shirts supporting Obama. Un believably there is a Polar Bears for Obama shirt there. For those that don't know, Chrissy is a zookeeper that takes care of the polar bears at Brookfield Zoo. She also spent two weeks in Churchill, Manitoba working with Polar Bears International last October. I said to her, only in New York could we find a shirt like this for you. It turns out the artist made a bunch of these as a response to Sarah Palin's VP nomination.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 8 The Bag Lady

We are off to NYC for my Aunt Maryann's 65th Surprise Birthday party. Here's a shot of Christy looking like a bag lady. This is on the New York City subway's "R" train. We flew into Islip Macarthur Airport took a cab to the LIRR Ronkonkoma station to find out it wasn't running due to a derailment. Then took a cab to Sayville on the Montauk line of the LIRR to find out it wasn't running due to a break down. Then took a bus to the Babylon station caught the LIRR to Jamaica, switched to the subway, caught an E train to Forest Hills then finally got to relax on the R train.

January 7 Let It Snow

We got hit with more snow again today. I really don't mind winter. The dogs love it in the snow. Even 10 year old Fluffy acts like a puppy in the snow. But working in the cold all day wearing several layers to keep warm does where my ass out at times. These shots are my backyard and the alley along the garage.

January 6 Winter Driving in Chicago

Here's one for all you warm weather readers. The rest of us have seen this enough this winter. Sometimes when a snow storm starts, the roads can be at their worst. It's hard to see thin layers of ice, black ice. It's been a cold and snowy winter so far this year.

January 5 Working Late

Since I do service work, sometimes I have to work late into the night. The dogs are home alone all day, so I hate to come home and leave right away. Tonight I took Oslo with me on a late night call. I have a Dodge Sprinter and Fluffy is too old to jump up into the cab. Oslo always gets comments on his good looks and his size. A bunch of ladies were laughing at him sitting in the drivers seat while I was working on this job. The picture is at a traffic light on the way home.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

January 4 Early Morning Hockey

At the last minute, I played hockey with Jaime & Mat Twardy's skate at St. John Ice Arena. They had the ice at midnight, but due to a semi pro game running late we didn't skate until 12:45am on Sunday morning. I wouldn't have skated but Jim Drescher & Bernie Glasgow were skating and I don't get to hang out with them much lately. We had fun out there, most of the players were younger & better than us but they were good guys. Afterwards Jim Bernie & I went to Round The Clock for breakfast. Back in high school I used to ditch first hour and have breakfast there and we got older we'd stop on the way home from the bars. So it was really cool to hang out til 3:30 in the morning just shooting the shit with a couple of friends there again. A great way to end the holiday season and begin a new year. Here's hoping for a few more late night breakfasts this year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

January 3 My Hiking Buddies

These are my hiking buddies. Fluffy on the left, Oslo on the right. We went for a short hike in the Sweet Woods Forest Preserve today. They are always ready for a car ride or walk somewhere. I gave them each a cow ear as a treat. Oslo, more commonly called 'The Fanook' is also protecting an ostrich leg he's been gnawing at for over two weeks. I'm sure they'll be frequent guests on this blog over the year. Bye for now.

January 2 Late Night Hockey

I played hockey with Bernie Gromala's Friday night skate at HF. Bernie plays on my Northstar team as a part time player. Once you play hockey, you can find a skate just about every night of the week. I ran into Keith & Terry Joy on the ice. The brothers both skated on my teams over the years. I haven't seen TJ in years. We caught up drinking beers in the parking lot until about 1am on a 15 degree night. The pictures are of the HF rink on my way out. A bit of a sad sight, an empty hockey rink, sort of like seeing an empty beach on a cold winter day.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1 Winter Classic Party

AAAHHH. The new year. New beginnings. The country is going to hell in a hand basket to use an old phrase but eight years of incompetent, corrupt and just plain fucked up leadership is finally coming to an end. So how do I cope with all the crap going on. I play hockey. I play on two teams, Sudden Death and NorthStar. I can completely forget the rest of the world exists and for a few hours each week enjoy life in my hockey world. My teamates jokes, lockerroom banter and on ice insults make it easier to make it through the day to day grind of modern life. So today Eric Dunlop (more commonly called Reg, hockey fans know why) had a big party for the Blackhawks - Red Wings game at Wrigley Field. He had 3 TV's setup including one on the back deck where 2 BBQ grills were fired up. There was plenty of food, alcohol and friends. Too bad the Blackhawks lost to the hated Red Wings. Frank even had a birthday cake for Mark with the Hawks Indian Head logo on it and with typical hockey team humor it read "HAPPY BIRTHDAY FATSO". Some days life is perfect.