Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 31 Upside Down Dog

There are millions of ways to piss away your time on the web. Since you are reading this, you found one of the ways. Well, here's another way Upside Down Dogs. I sent this picture of Oslo in for consideration on the site. This goofy bastard sleeps like this a lot. He loves to stretch out his legs above his head. Sometimes he is hanging half of the bed and when he wakes up he falls right off. When he is really out cold, I sneak in and jump on the bed. He completely freaks and rolls over and jumps straight into the air all in one motion. What can I say, life isn't very exciting around here. I have to find my fun wherever I can get it. Check out the pictures on the Upside Down Dog site. It's good for a laugh. Then you can go back to surfing porn.

March 30 White Sox Tickets

The rites of spring start when pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Another rite passes when spring training games begin. Yet another passes when I get together with Nick, Marko, Jim, Billy and new to the group, Monty to divide up our White Sox season tickets. In the past this was done at the Ridgewood Tap and it involved beer, shots with the bartender Jimmy, pulling names out of the hat to see who picks next, drunk pain in the ass guys asking for tickets and drunk fun loving girls willing to show us their boobs for tickets. It also took about 4 hours to pick our tickets. This year it took about 2 hours and we switched to 4 seats for each game. Nicky had a real plan and executed it almost flawlessly. The big calander on the wall helped as Jim marked off each game. So now I have a fist full of tickets and need to sell a few. So get in touch with me if you're a Sox fan. The seats are just past 3rd base about 25 rows up. The pictures are Nick's son Alex keeping track of his dad's games. Monty & Jim checking the big board. And Nick holding his daughter Jenna who was still recovering from her Christening party a day earlier.

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 29 Old Man Winter Hits Back

This is what I woke up to on Sunday morning. Just one week ago, I was grilling sausages wearing a t-shirt. (and pants too, I'm not that brave) Welcome to spring in Chicago. Between now and the end of May is the most unpredictable part of our year. It could be 75 and sunny or 35 with sleet. Of course, lots of precipitation is guaranteed. We got all excited with that little taste of nice weather, then winter roars back to kick our asses. This really isn't a surprise, it happens every year. It is so disappointing to get teased with warm weather then have to find your hat & gloves two days later. It's like having a crack addict brother. You believe his story about getting clean, so you let him crash at your place. Then two days later, he's gone and so is your plasma TV. We hope for something so strongly that we still get upset when the inevitable happens. The moral here is that you should keep your low life brother out of the house and keep your hat & gloves out of the storage bin in the basement.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 28 I Met The Devil

Last night, I met the devil. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I met my musician friend Mike & his wife Vicki at Pizza D.O.C. for dinner and conversation. Mike released his debut CD "Opening Soon Under New Management" in 2007. You can check it out at his MySpace page. If you like the music, you can download the CD from his site or you can buy the CD from Amazon or Spade Kitty Records. If you need another a reason to support Mike, he also works with Chicago school kids as part of the Tutor/Mentor program which also deserves your support. Now back to my story, we got together to talk about music because Mike is currently recording his next CD, "Powder Kegs Beneath Dagger Trees". As an independent artist, Mike is looking to learn all he can about the music business and I fall under the music geek section. Unlike most artists, Mike is fully involved with all aspects of his music. He has a very talented band that is comprised of other local artists that help each other reach their musical goals. Mike says the musicians are part of the local music scene that play on each others records while also doing their own music. After dinner we walked down through Lincoln Square to the Daily Bar & Grill to continue bullshitting the night away. The art of conversation has been lost to e-mails & texting, but I love sitting with a group of friends talking the night away. Tonight was the fix this junkie needed. The topics flowed like the glasses of Harp Lager...politics, music, family, travel, eating & cooking, the absolute wonder of enjoying nature. The three of us were sitting in a booth in the middle of the bar, when a well dressed man walked up to us. Mike introduced him to me as the Devil. He shook my hand. They caught up and he wandered to the bar. We continued drinking and talking. On the way out, we crossed the Devil's path again. He remembered my name (great!) and politely shook my hand again while saying very nice to meet you. (Damn!) As we walked through the rain, I asked why they called him the Devil. It turns out he played the Devil in Mike's video for his song "Summer". His real name is Sean and he is a regular at their neighborhood bar. So Mike asked him to be in the video. And here's the exclamation point on my perfect evening out, the Devil is also a carpenter.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

March 27 Friday Night Ice

For almost 3 years I've been playing hockey with the Sudden Death Hockey Club. It is run by Frank Buck and Marty Hollingshead and we play on Monday & Friday nights. It is a group of guys who just want to play hockey with friends. The teams are picked each night from whomever shows up and the games are usually competitive. But it isn't the on ice antics that make it so much fun to play with this group, it is the locker room banter and post game trips to local bars that brings us together twice a week. The usual comments are about Tom's hairy body, Reg Dunlop quotes from "Slapshot", some of the 'veteran' players scaring the youngsters into not showering after the game. Then there are comments that stretch the boundaries of good taste, but usually get the biggest laughs. Over the years we've been bombed by Eric's "Green Hand Grenade" cologne, heard Bill's various ways to get his dog to 'like' him and Walt's descriptions of German video's he found on the internet. Between the hockey and the conversations, it keeps us returning each week for more. I've said it before, it is 2 hours away from all your worries and you're gonna leave smiling. That's why I play. The picture on the left is our two Italian goalies, Bada Bing & Frenchie. The one on the right is Reg Dunlop and it is for Vicki, his biggest fan. Don't ask me how Frenchie got his nickname because I really don't know, but once you get a nickname on this team, it stays. Some guys don't even know "Reg's" real name.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26 Sign Of The Times

I was writing the blog for last night, when Oslo came in and began to nudge my arm. That means I have to stop what I'm doing and pay attention to him. Since the weather is still nice tonight (they are predicting a huge storm this weekend with snow and ice), I decided to take the dogs for a walk. While walking through the neighborhood, I saw the sign pictured below. I know the country is down right now. The poor economy is affecting everyone. People have lost their savings, their jobs and their homes. Everyone is just barely getting by day to day. But this sign just shocked me. My God, it's even worse than I thought. A church sponsored sale of children. Now I have joked in the past that Chrissy & I should have popped out a kid or two, then sold it to pay for some cool trip to Africa or the Antarctic. A white baby would make a fortune on the black market. (Is that sentence an example of irony?) But we never actually did it. Now a church in our neighborhood is promoting the resale of children with a percentage of the sale going to the church I'm sure. I wonder if you could trade one in for a different model. Maybe you just had a boy and really wanted a girl just trade it in. I'm glad this stuff wasn't happening when we were kids, I'm sure there were days my mom would have sold us or just given us away. There was the night she got so mad at me that she gave me a laundry basket of my clothes and told me to sit on the milk box (we got milk delivered back in the day) until someone came to take me away. But I've gotten over that...no...really I have. I vaguely remember it happening...really!

March 25 Putting On The Game Face

Playoff hockey. On any level there is nothing better than playoff hockey. Every shift, every pass and every shot matters. On the left is Patty O, Brian & John getting ready for our game. On the right is team owner, Walter, putting on his game face. Everyone has a pregame ritual. Some guys stretch, some guys loosen up with some pregame banter teasing guys for last weeks play and others quietly put on their equipment. There aren't many of those on our team. Then there are two Irish brothers who have no pregame ritual since they are always running late into the locker room as their teammates take to the ice. We played a good game tonight. We didn't cash in on some golden opportunities and lost 7-4. It was a hard fought, clean game to play in, lots of chances on both sides and end to end most of the night. Neither team had more than a one goal lead until the last two minutes of the game. Another hockey season completed and a new season just two weeks away. Like the t-shirts that Chrissy bought for me, Reg & Walt says, "My drinking team has a hockey problem."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24 Happy Birthday Mom

Yes that is me in my mother's arms. Probably right after my Grandfather asked her if I still shit in my pants. Nine years ago, I had my mom's friends and family send me pictures and stories of my mom. I put them all together in a book. At first I thought it would be a nice little book with funny stories, but as the project went along I realized how special that book was becoming. I always knew I had a special person as my mother. What I learned was that everyone else felt the same way. It took me months to put that book together. When I finally sent it to my brother George (because he was going to post it online then give it to mom on her birthday), he said he couldn't believe how great the book turned out. I had him video tape my mom opening the gift so I could see her reaction. She was complaining about the camera but George said he had to tape it or I would kill him. She opened the book and began reading it, then shut the book and made Georgie turn off the camera. It is still online at my brother's site, you can check it out here. We never asked my dad to write something (only because he can not keep a secret). Years later he told us a funny story and as soon as he started my mom came down the stairs screaming at him to not tell that story. If you want to hear it, call me. She'd kill me for posting it online. Happy Birthday Mom.

March 23 Barack Obama

If you have read this blog for awhile, it should be obvious I was thrilled when Obama became President. This picture ran in the Northwest Indiana Times on November 1, 2008. It looks like Mr. Obama is about to punch one of my best friends, Mike Crafton (wearing gray T-shirt with HISTORY across his back). Obama is actually giving him a fist bump because Mike mentioned a close friend of Obama's that used to be on the radio. Pretty cool to get a fist bump from a future President. I can't say I'm thrilled with everything he has done so far, but I still believe he is the right man for the job of resurrecting this country from the disasters he inherited. There are those that are attacking every move he makes. I will say that it is quite a change to have a well spoken, articulate, self made man as President instead of a silver spoon fed dolt that couldn't put a complete sentence together.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22 Break Out The Grill

Technically, I broke out the grill last weekend. But today I got a picture of it. Absolutely a beautiful spring day in Chicago. Sunny & about 65 degrees, maybe warmer. I worked around the house all day. I had windows open in an attempt to air the place out after our long cold winter. Those of you that live in cold climate areas, you understand how wonderful that first sign of spring can be. The neighborhood came alive today. People were walking their dogs, pushing baby carriages, kids were riding their bikes and lots of yard work was happily done due to the weather. You could smell the BBQ grills going all afternoon. The smell of summer. The trees are budding in the yard and thanks to my dogs, there are patches of green grass here & there in my yard. For one day, you could almost forget about all the bad news in the world as the rebirth of hope springs eternal. One last note, our hearts go out to the families of the Oakland police officers that died in the line of duty over the weekend.

March 21 Saturday In The Park

Cindy & I took the dogs to the dog park, then to the new Portage Beach & Riverwalk, then back to the dog park which was more crowded than I've ever seen it. After that trip both dogs crashed as soon as we got home. And so did I. I've gotten over my recent bout with being a 100 year old invalid, I am now about a 75 year old invalid. Things are looking up. After a 2 hour nap, Chrissy & I picked up Aunt Ann and met Cindy & her mom at The Warsaw Inn for a Polish Smorgasbord. I've been going to this place for over 25 years and it hasn't changed one bit. Thank God. The menu is exactly the same, blintzes, potato pancakes, pierogis, ham & roast beef carved off the bone. I used to work next door to the Warsaw Inn back in the late 1980's. At 7am, some big Polish women would show up riding their bikes. The place opened at 4pm and they spent the day making all the food from scratch. It still only costs $12.95 for adults on the weekend, cheaper other days. They offer early bird prices, free soda & coffee refills, live accordion music on Friday & Saturday and always give you a coupon to use on your next visit. The place is always packed. This sounds like a commercial for the Warsaw Inn because it deserves your business. I think too many places like this have closed over the years for many different reasons usually because they next generation decided to change with the times. This place has stayed the same and I love it for that. If you decide to go, call us. It's only 10 minutes away.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 20 My Irish Grandfather

It's only appropriate I honor my Irish Grandfather this week. He died 42 years ago on the day before St. Patrick's Day. If you read the header of my blog, you know he's the one who would would ask my mom "does he still shit in his pants?" and be referring to me as a baby. I can't say I remember him except from stories and pictures. Except for one thing, I told my mom I remember walking down a street in NYC with him holding my hand. She says she doesn't think that it ever happened. Maybe I dreamed it, who knows. But I do have a vivid mental picture of it. From the stories I've heard about him, I know I would have liked him. I also like to think he'd get a laugh from some of my Christmas letter stories and this blog. Heredity is a strange thing, it's possible I got my sense of humor from someone I do not remember. I know asking if a baby still shits in his pants is funny. I assume he laughed when he said it because I do. So this one's for you Grandpa, over the years I've learn to control that shit problem, for the most part at least.

March 19 Do Or Die!

Just as the title says Do or Die! I finally got back to living a real life. Two and a half weeks of being sick had to end. My hockey team was facing elimination for the play-offs. We were already down a couple of guys so I had to get off my ass and just do it. We played a good game of hockey and for once we got the calls from the refs. I think we won 8-3. Patty O got our first two goals and assisted on a couple, very fitting he had the luck of the Irish this week. After that lots of different goal scorers and after looking awful in early in the game I managed to get an assist. In order for us to win the Championship we have to win 3 more games. First up, beat the Bulldogs who didn't lose a game during the season, then beat our rivals the Predators twice. Could be a fun couple of weeks. It sure felt good to be back with the team. The post game celebration had the usual obscene hilarity. So here's a picture for Vicki of Reg bar tending in the locker room. The other is the formerly clean cut John Swiatek who filled in on defense for us tonight and just happens to be a frequent reader of this useless crap.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 18 The Never Ending Search

Pizza. Crust, tomato sauce, cheese. Simple enough. Why can't I find a decent pizza anywhere in Chicago? I'll admit that I believe New York City pizza is the best. I grew up eating those paper thin oversized slices of cheese pizza. I think most people like what they grew up eating. But my quest for a good slice gives me an open mind because I just want a good slice. Some places manage to have one or maybe two of the ingredients right, good crust bad cheese & sauce or maybe good cheese & sauce shitty crust. Just for the record, to test a pizza it has to be a cheese slice. If they make that good, go ahead and add all the toppings you like, it should still be a good pizza. For dinner tonight, I tried these California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas. I already know that all frozen pizzas suck like an evangelical preacher that rants about how the gays are ruining the world. But some nights you just have to lower your standards. First off, the crust tastes like cardboard so my initial reaction is this pizza sucks. The Sicilian pizza had good toppings, a bit spicy but tasty. The garlic chicken (again I must say crust, sauce, cheese, that is pizza) was awful. I couldn't taste garlic or chicken on that pie. Once I condemn a pizza, it isn't allowed in the house. The list of shitty pizza's is over two pages long by now. We have tried every pizzeria in the area and every shitty frozen pizza. Now you ask, are there any you actually will eat. Yes, Aurelio's but only the one in Homewood is any good, Sanfratello's is edible if I really crave a pizza, Luigi's on Clark Street in Chicago and a place on Broadway just south of the Aragon Theater, sorry don't even know the name, but they sell pizza by the slice. If you like gourmet type pizzas, try Pizza DOC on Lawrence in Chicago.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 17 Another Pathetic Sight

First of all, HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY to all my Irish fans out there. I have two tickets to see one of my favorite bands, Flogging Molly. They are an Irish folk/punk band and they are playing Chicago on St. Paddy's Day. This is going to be a smoking hot show with alcohol flowing like the Colorado River without the Hoover Dam. Man, I've been waiting 2 months for this show, it's gonna be great. As you can see these are unused tickets. Yes I know they no longer tear the tickets, they scan them but I'm trying to make a fucking point here. Due to my never-ending illness and the drugs that I'm now taking that are suppose to cure me, I feel like a hundred year old invalid. I can't breathe, my glands in my neck are killing me, fluids flow out of all my orifices sometimes simultaneously, my back hurts from sleeping 15 hours a day and I'm still exhausted after being awake for only a few hours. I'm so sick of being sick, I stayed home from this concert. Fuck me, I can't believe it myself. I'm calling myself a pussy just to beat Bill Valentine to it in the comments section. It's 8:30p and I'm going to bed and I feel shame. First I miss a hockey play-off game, now a concert on St. Patrick's Day. I'm sure my Irish grandfather feels ashamed of me from his grave.

March 16 Strange Girl

Chrissy was off today and I only ran one call and the office had nothing else for me to do. So we took the dogs to the dog park. We were the only ones there at first, then it got crowded. Oslo's new friend, Butkus showed up. He is the Saint Bernard pictured on March 15th. Then more and more dogs filled the yard. It was a beautiful sunny day about 55 degrees. Afterwards, we had lunch at Miner Dunn Hamburgers. Great, I have to eat a shoe leather piece of meat they called French Dip since I gave up burgers and soda for Lent. It's about the only Catholic thing I ever do. Let's just say my parents baptized me Catholic and that was the extent of my religious upbringing. Actually, that is just fine with me but for some reason, I observe Lent. I guess I celebrate Easter and Christmas too, so what? Does this make me religious? Anyway today's blog is about a very strange girl I know. My wife, Chrissy. If you've never been to Miner Dunn, no matter what you order they also give you a small cup of orange sherbert. I have no idea why. Chrissy, and she's done this for as long as I've known her, dips her french fries into the sherbert. She uses the orange sherbert as a substitute for what normal people dip their fries in, ketchup. To be honest, I've done it too and it actually tastes good. So next time you are at Miner Dunn, try it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15 Dog Day Afternoon

I haven't been able to take my dogs out the past couple of weeks, mostly due to me being sick and the shitty weather of the past two weeks. Today it was sunny and about 55 degrees. So I took my four legged friends to the dog park in Wicker Park in Highland. Oslo & Fluffy love it there. Today there was about 20 dogs. Oslo hung out with a young Saint Bernard and a big Doberman Pinscher. He also hung out by the gate and greeted each new dog as they arrived. They ran around for about an hour and a half. Afterwards they came home and crashed and I went to the Hammond Clinic to get a second opinion on me dying. Turns out I was wrong in my medical evaluation of myself. I have a severe case of bronchitis and should live longer than I previously thought. Which is good because spring is coming and girls are starting to wear less clothes, my favorite time of year.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 14 La Mia Famiglia Italiana

Keeping with the Italian theme the past couple of days, here's a picture of my Italian Great-Great Grandparents. This is Giuseppe and Francesca. I've been researching my family tree for years. This is as far back as I go on the Italian side. They came to America on July 31, 1890 on the ship, Elysia. Their daughter, Giuseppina married Antonino here in New York. The family lore says that Giuseppe told Antonino not to marry his daughter because she could not cook. Antonino, who could cook, married her anyway. Everyone loved Antonino but most say that Giuseppina was strange at best. I bring this up because I'm hoping to complete a book with my family tree information by the end of the year. So I've been spending time on that and falling behind on this blog. No excuses though, just trying to justify my laziness I guess.

March 13 I'm Gonna Make Him A Sandwich He Can't Refuse

Another long day at work, didn't get a chance to eat lunch until after 5pm. Since I had a two hour drive home from my last job, I purposely took a route that passed through Lockport. Why, you ask? Because my favorite sandwich shop in all of the Chicagoland area is there. Genco's Italian Eatery makes the best sub sandwiches in the Chicago area. There is a Godfather movie theme to most of the subs. The "Underboss" is my personal favorite. If I remember correctly, the name Genco was the Godfather's Olive Oil business name. Forget the goofy mafia theme, the subs are fantastic. As any good sandwich, it starts with the bread then the meats and cheeses and finally the condiments. All used here are top notch. The olive oil makes the sandwich a bit messy to eat and drive but what's a little olive oil on my already gas & diesel covered work clothes. Try this place and let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12 Say 'Hello' To My Little Friend

Oh, you know him and when you are sick, you love him. It's my little friend, NyQuil. That's right BIG N little y BIG FUCKING Q (Denis Leary joke). People with colds and alcohol addictions just love the green death flavor of NyQuil. My amateur doctor opinion is that I am dying. I might have to get a second opinion on that. But for tonight I am prescribing NyQuil. Hello NyQuil, goodbye me.

March 11 Sorry Sight

Yes, this is my hockey equipment. I used to air it out in the basement, but the cats would pee on it. I'll admit hockey equipment can smell pretty bad, but mix in cat piss and it was unbearable. So I put a shelf up in the garage to protect my equipment from the cat piss. The cats are all gone now but I still hang my equipment in the garage. So why is this a sad sight? Because I should be packing it into my equipment bag and heading to the rink for our playoff game. But since I have been unable to shake this cough/flu I've had for over a week, I'm unable to play tonight. I was going to watch the game, but after spending 11 hours out in the 17 degree cold all day I am unable to stay awake past 8pm. What a sad sack of shit I am becoming. BTW, we lost 5-3 in our double elimination play-offs.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 10 Remember When The Music

Some gifts are important because of what they mean to you, some gifts mean more to you because of who gave them to you. This satellite radio was a gift that accomplished both of these. Walt, who is the definition of a great friend, gave me this radio for Christmas because he knew I would love the wide range of music on satellite radio. As good friends should be, he was right. I can't imagine not having this radio. Here's today's example of why. There is an all Springsteen channel on Sirius. My favorite, not Walter's, but hey I grew up on the east coast(Springsteen territory), Walt grew up in Canada (Gordon Lightfoot territory). Anyway, the Bruce station plays bootleg concerts and today had Bruce covering Harry Chapin's "Remember When The Music". Now, I'm a Harry Chapin fan, sure you know "Cat's In The Cradle". So as I child I remember "30,000 Pounds Of Bananas" (about a truck full of bananas crashing) and "Taxi" (I'm sure I didn't understand as a kid, but my mom liked the song). Bruce tells the story about meeting Harry back in the 70's, then goes on to talk about Harry's work to end hunger in America. Then he get's back to the lyrics of the song "Remember When The Music" and how they seem corny now. Bruce says that his (and Harry's) generation really believed they were going to change the world. And music was the means to the end. So whether or not you really believe in the lyrics, honor Harry's memory and "just do something" to make the world a better place. One of my favorite charities, The Chicago Food Depository. Thanks Walt, Bruce and Harry.

Remember When the Music
by Harry Chapin

Remember when the music
Came from wooden boxes strung with silver wire
And as we sang the words, it would set our minds on fire,
For we believed in things, and so we'd sing.

Remember when the music
Brought us all together to stand inside the rain
And as we'd join our hands, we'd meet in the refrain,
For we had dreams to live, we had hopes to give.

Remember when the music
Was the best of what we dreamed of for our children's time
And as we sang we worked, for time was just a line,
It was a gift we saved, a gift the future gave.

Remember when the music
Was a rock that we could cling to so we'd not despair,
And as we sang we knew we'd hear an echo fill the air
We'd be smiling then, we would smile again.

Oh all the times I've listened, and all the times I've heard
All the melodies I'm missing, and all the magic words,
And all those potent voices, and the choices we had then,
How I'd love to find we had that kind of choice again.

Remember when the music
Was a glow on the horizon of every newborn day
And as we sang, the sun came up to chase the dark away,
And life was good, for we knew we could.

Remember when the music
Brought the night across the valley as the day went down
And as we'd hum the melody, we'd be safe inside the sound,
And so we'd sleep, we had dreams to keep.

And I feel that something's coming, and it's not just in the wind.
It's more than just tomorrow, it's more than where we've been,
It offers me a promise, it's telling me "Begin",
I know we're needing something worth believing in.

Remember when the music
Came from wooden boxes strung with silver wire
And as we sang the words, it would set our minds on fire,
For we believed in things, and so we'd sing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

March 9 Walking The Walk

Chrissy has been promoting reducing your carbon footprints to help save the polar bears. As you can see, she uses cloth bags for her grocery shopping. This reduces the amount of plastic and/or paper bags that end up in landfills. She also wants to remind everyone about Earth Hour on March 28 from 8:30p-9:30p in all time zones. The idea is that everyone should turn off all their lights for that hour. It's more symbolic than practical, but hopefully it raises awareness about how much electricity we use on a daily basis. She has more slogans like "Save A Bag, Save The World" or "Plant A Tree For Me" which makes more sense when a polar bear says it. Anyway, these small easy to do gestures can only help. So to all the Spike Lee's out there "Do The Right Thing"!

March 8 Build An Ark, What The F@#%?

The world's coming to an end, that's for sure. It's been raining, no pouring since Friday night. Now I'll admit to taking way too much cold medicine, pain killers and pseudo crystal meth over the past few days, but when I let the dogs out last night, the three of us had to dog paddle across the yard to reach the gate. The lightning was constant across the sky and through the thunder cracks I think I heard the voice of God telling me to build a fucking ark. I yelled what do I know about arks. How about you cure this fucking cold I can't shake, fix my lower back pain, then maybe I'll be able to start on your ark. No reply. So I asked "how about a few waves through the yard, I'd like to surf them!". No reply again. No ark either. The pictures were taken on Route 41 at the Kankakee River, which was way over it's banks.

March 7 Give A Little, Get A Little

Last week, my friend Bernie stopped by after work and fixed my heater. It had been making a god awful noise when it ran. Bernie found the problem, called around, found the broken part and replaced it. It cost me $26. When Bernie wouldn't take any money for his time, we offered to take him & his wife, Susie out for dinner. We arranged for their daughters to play with our niece while we had dinner at Café Borgia. As with all of our friends with kids, it is damn near impossible to get them to go out for any social event. Now, when I was a kid, my parents would let anyone watch us so they could go out. Neighbors, neighborhood teenagers, strangers walking by, Manson Family members, it just didn't matter to them. And you know what, I don't blame them. I don't have kids and I need to get out a few times a week. So, we got our heater fixed and a nice night out with friends. That's how life should be, friends taking care of friends. Thanks to Kimmie for babysitting and Happy Birthday to my brother Jeff.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 6 Breaking Bad

Once again I am down & out for the day, somewhat recovered from my fever/cough attacks, I now cannot move due to my lower back. So how did you spend your day? It was 70 degrees here today and I spent my day on the couch taking cold medicine and crying out in pain every time I shifted my body. I watched a series called Breaking Bad on AMC. It's about a high school chemistry teacher who finds out he has terminal cancer. So he decides to cook crystal meth to leave some money for his family. Great, I'm in pain, surrounded by cold medicine and I'm watching how to grind up that cold medicine and burn it down to it's basic components and create crystal meth. This is what people who don't work watch all day. After 6 episodes of watching them make & use meth, I was in the kitchen trying to make my own. Damn it my back was killing me and my cough syrup with coidene wasn't helping that pain. The show covered the absurdity of our drug laws. If you have insurance, you can get all the drugs you may or may not need. If you don't have insurance, you can still get all the drugs you want, but at what cost? I decided against smoking my home made crystal meth, I didn't want to ruin a lifetime of dental care.

Friday, March 6, 2009

March 5 The Shit Storm Cometh

I rose from the dead and went to work today. Medically, it was a mistake. I thought I had a sore back from sleeping for 36 straight hours. Guess not. I must have pulled something during one of my coughing fits over the past few days. By the end of the day, I couldn't move in any direction without excruciating pain. But I did manage to get some lovely pictures of a factory on 21st Street in Gary. Why you ask? Several reasons. I really do love urban decay pictures and cityscapes in general. But that is not why I needed it for today's blog. I spent a spring like afternoon in Gary on a job. The sun was shining, it was at least 60 degrees and people were generally in a good mood because of the weather. When I left I saw the black storm clouds heading my way, on the radio more dark clouds about unemployment claims rising, foreclosures at record highs and GM admitting that bankruptcy may be their only option. As I drove around the decimated remains of Gary's former glory with all this bad news in the air, a thought came to me. At the height of Gary's success as steelbuilder to the world, did anyone think it could ever sink as low as it has? It makes me wonder how far the US can fall with it's current problems.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 4 Walk Toward The Light

Nurse Oslo decided I needed to get out of bed. But if I don't feel better soon, I'm going to "walk toward the light". I haven't eaten in 2 days, so if I keep this up I might actually lose some weight. Anyway, here's a article from the NWI Times about Chrissy.

March 3 Still sick!

If I didn't get up to pee, I would have thought I was in a coma. Slept for 38 straight hours. Here's another of Chrissy's pictures from Churchill.

March 2 What The Fuck?

I came home from work and went straight to bed with a fever and chills that made the bed shake like "The Exorcist". So here's a picture for you to enjoy from Chrissy's trip to Churchill Manitoba last fall.

Monday, March 2, 2009

March 1 Sunday Brunch

Chrissy had the weekend off so we invited some friends for brunch at the Clubhouse in Oakbrook. This place really does brunch up right. The food is amazing from bananas foster french toast, the seafood raw bar, omelets made to order right in front of you, prime rib carved off the bone and a dessert table worth the cost of the entire brunch. Now I love good food as much as anyone, but spending time with good friends makes the meal something special. Today our group included Chrissy's Great Aunt Ann, always a joy to spend time with and not only because she hates George Bush as much as I do, Cindy, the flower girl from our wedding and her mom, who is like a mom to me, Mrs. Drescher, and my hockey teammate & frequent commentor on this blog Bill & his way too good for him wife, Vicki. Even though most at the table had never met, the conversations flowed across the table like old friends getting together. For those that know me well, this is a perfect day for me, good food, telling stories and great friends. A good time was had by all except Vicki was upset that 'Reg' couldn't make it so she brought along a picture of him she keeps in her purse. Like I said, she's way out of Bill's league so he can't say anything about her carrying another man's picture with her. Of course, Reg looks like a serial killer in that particular picture, so I'm sure Billy's too scared to say anything.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

February 28 Dog Parks, Frozen Beaches & Mosh Pits

Some days you'll remember for the smile they brought to your face while you were living it, not the smile it causes remembering it. This was one of those days. I met Cindy (my little sister that isn't actually related to me) at the dog park in Wicker Park. She brought her dog, Simon. I had both of my dogs, Fluffy & Oslo. We let them run around with all the other dogs in there. I swear Oslo was smiling as he chased the other dogs around. He actually ran over to me several times and it seemed like he was thanking me for bringing him to the dog park. I've seen him wound up and excited before, but today he seemed as happy as caninely possible. Then we went to Mount Baldy, a giant sand dune on Lake Michigan. We hiked through the woods to the top of the dune. The wind was whipping off the lake. We ran down to the beach. We walked along the shore for about 30 minutes. It was extremely cold but beautiful. The ice along the shore, the built up ice shelf over the lake out to the open water with small ice floes swaying back and forth in the surf. I love the beach in the winter. The solitude, the fantastic sound of nothing, I love being surrounded by no sounds at all, then the silence is broken with a wave breaking, ice cracking or the sound of wind blowing sand over a dune. It's the natural sounds, not the man made sounds that make freezing my ass off worth it on days like this. We hiked back through the woods, it felt good to get out of the wind. We stopped for southern BBQ at Smokeys on Route 20. Definitely worth stooping for the pulled pork sandwiches and homemade pies. When we got back to Cindy's car at the dog park there was a black Great Dane in there. Oslo started crying, the fanook. So I took them in to play with the dogs again. I was laughing watching Oslo & the 140lb Great Dane chase a Rhodesian Ridgeback all over the yard. The tall, lanky Great Dane was all asses & elbows as it ran. Oslo was a streamlined white rocket with his ears pinned back by the wind as he ran. I just laughed thinking about how he was going to pass out as soon as we got home. Which he did. But I had to shower and get to the Congress Theater for the Dropkick Murphys concert. They are one of my favorite bands, an Irish punk band from Boston. As soon as I found a spot in the crowd, I was treated to a cute red headed Irish girl showing off her new tattoos by lifting up her shirt. On my left were two guys in kilts bragging about wearing them in the traditional style(no underwear) despite the bitterly cold wind outside. How could I not be ready for a great night after that beginning? I met up with some friends after the opening band, H2O. The Dropkicks did not disappoint. They had the crowd in a frenzy from the first song. I was in & out of the mosh pit all night. I'm getting too old to hang for the whole show. When the encores began, I joined the pit again. The mayhem in front of the stage was out of control. Then the band kicked into punk version Bruce Springsteen's "Badlands". I couldn't believe it. I was moshing to a Springsteen song. The subway train was full of Dropkick fans reliving their favorite moments. No one mentioned the Springsteen song except me. Still everyone had a great time and that's what it is all about. Great ending to a day of simple pleasures.