Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29 Halloween Decorations

I know you must be tired of my complaining about the weather. So I'll try to stop. It is fall here in Chicago and the leaves are putting on their annual colorful show. Chrissy found time between her many trips across North America to put out our autumn / Halloween decorations. So on my way home tonight I figured I would take a few pictures of them for my blog. Well this is as close as I could get...why you might be asking yourself...well I'll tell you why...because I was standing under a tree...again you might still be asking I'll tell you as best as I can...BECAUSE IT WAS FUCKING RAINING AGAIN BUT THIS TIME IT WASN'T JUST A MISTY RAIN...IT WAS FUCKING POURING DOWN...NOW WE HAVE FLOOD WARNINGS FOR TOMORROW AND A CHANCE FOR 3-5 INCHES OF RAIN IN THE NEXT 36 HOURS. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SOMEONE BUILD ME AN ARK.

October 28 The Mars Cheese Castle

Another fucking day & night in Milwaukee for work. I missed my hockey game for the second straight week. It's been raining all week long and after working for 14 hours nothing looked good for dinner. So I stopped at the Mars Cheese Castle again, except this time I went in. I bought a chunk of cheddar, some kind of kitchen sink sub sandwich that contained a bunch of  tasteless Italian lunch meats (I added tasteless because they forgot to put it on the placard describing the sandwich) and a dry also tasteless almond pastry. Hell, I needed something for the drive home and the various porn shops that line the highway on the Wisconsin border probably don't offer carry out meals. I did enjoy the Phillies beating the Yankees in the first game of the World Series. Anyway here's the catalog I grabbed with my dinner. Just for the record, the actual cheese castle looks nothing like this picture.

October 27 The Gaslight Anthem

It's been an extremely busy month for me. Which at my age and deteriorating physical condition means I'm fucking exhausted. But I did manage to drag my ass to the House Of Blues to see The Gaslight Anthem tonight. They put on a good show. Everyone, including me sang along to all of the songs. I always try to see the opening acts when I go to a concert. Tonight I missed the first band, but saw The Loved Ones and Murder By Death. The Loved Ones were good time rock and roll band, very similar to the headliners. I was impressed by their cover of Conor Oberst's "I Don't Wanna Die In A Hospital". Murder By Death really impressed me and it wasn't because the blonde female cello player was smoking hot. Well that helped but they had a cool punk country type of sound. Maybe not country more like 1950's rockabilly. No that doesn't seem like a good description either. How about Johnny Cash fronting a punk band with an electric cello player? Hell just check them out for yourself  here.

October 26 Different State...Same Shitty Weather

I worked in Milwaukee today at a Speedway across the street from Mitchell Airport. The planes flew right over the station on their way to landing about 500 yards from us. The strange thing is, I never saw a plane all day. I just heard them. The fog was that bad. Actually it may not have been fog. It almost seemed like the clouds just landed on the ground and they produced a misty rain all day long. I was surprised the planes kept landing. Every so often I could see the flashing lights that marked the runway but never saw a plane. By my unofficial count, we have had 7 days of gray, dreary, misty, all day rains out of the past 9 days. Even a visit to the Mars Cheese Castle on the way home couldn't cheer me up, but it did make me laugh. The Mars Cheese Castle is a must stop on the way out of Wisconsin but I don't know why. They don't even sell good cheese. It just an old fashioned tourist trap that has survived all these years. I just enjoy the fact that it still exists, so I only stopped to get a picture.

October 25 The Smile That Lives On Forever

I said my final goodbye to my friend, Mr. D today. There were many nice things said about him but today it was the pictures that really caught my attention. In every one of the pictures, he had his ever present smile. That huge, I'm loving life smile that he seemed to have every time I saw him. It's that same smile I will have every time I think of him. So long Mr. D. Thanks for the memories.

October 24 My New Faucet

Chrissy destroys and I repair. The story of my married life. Today I replaced the shitty faucet that Chrissy ruined by stripping the gold plating off of it while cleaning. So here's the new faucet that I bought while she's out of town. Too bad if she hates it because I already installed it.

October 23 The Economy

I keep hearing the economy is getting better. But I prefer the eye test. And today I saw something that says the economy is still falling apart. The intermodal transportation company located at 35th & California had more trailers stacked in the yard than I have ever seen. I've been doing work at the Speedway located there since it was a Martin station in the mid 80's. I was amazed at the number of unused trailers stacked there. They extended for an entire city block. If the economy was getting better, there would be more products being shipped and transported. So like Public Enemy once sang, "Don't Believe The Hype!".

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 22 Dog Fancy Magazine

My mom usually calls or e-mails when she sends something to me. So I was surprised to find a manila envelope from her in the mailbox today. I was even more surprised to find the latest copy of Dog Fancy magazine with her address label on it. I knew why she sent it to me because of the Great Pyrenees cover story. The real question was why do my parents, who do not own a dog, subscribe to Dog Fancy magazine. The first thought that came to me was the movie, "Best In Show", which is a comedy about a collection of very strange dog lovers. My mom has told me that they go to the local dog beach often even though they don't own a dog. And I have asked if the police question them like they would a 40 year old man at the playground without children. So I flipped through the magazine, the puppies on the cover are beyond adorable, the article about Pyrs describes them perfectly. Then I come across the weirdest feature of this magazine, a centerfold. I am not lying. I started looking for it's likes and dislikes (likes long walks in the woods, running on the beach, flavored rawhides...dislikes traffic, fleas, fetching sticks) or maybe a favorite quote such as " I don't know how humans make it through the day without licking themselves down there" or "you really learn so much more by sniffing a butt than by shaking a hand". I still had to know why my mom subscribed to this magazine so I called her. Here's where the story gets strange. She had miles that were about to expire so she used them to subscribe to magazines. OK, nothing wrong with that. But they only offered niche magazines so now my extremely white, straight, non dog owning parents subscribe to Ebony, OUT and Dog Fancy. I tell her this puts you on the very popular mailing list of gay African American dog lovers. They should be getting some very interesting solicitations in the mail very soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21 Stephen Mather

I've been watching the Ken Burns series about The National Parks: America's Best Idea. I have also been editing my pictures from our trip to the Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks at the same time. As usual, Ken Burns has done a masterful job with this documentary. I've learned about the people responsible for saving the land that has become our National Parks. In my mind, these people should be as well known as the names of the people who became filthy rich by exploiting the land for their own personal gains without a thought toward the future. So I'm thanking Stephen Mather for insisting on the creation of America's National Park Service. The following was taken from the National Park Service website:

Stephen Tyng Mather led a full active life of 63 years, from 1867 to 1930. The years spanning the turn of the century saw vast changes in the country's demographics, as well as the development of modern forms of transportation and communication, and increased leisure time. Mather was able to capitalize on these trends in his marketing efforts at the Thorkildsen-Mather Borax Company, which made him a millionaire, and in his public life as the first director of the National Park Service. During his life, Mather was an active member of numerous organizations, including his college fraternity Sigma Chi, the Sun Alumni Association, the Chicago City Club and Municipal Voter's League, and the Sierra Club. He was always a strong supporter of the University of California at Berkeley. Mather was physically active, pursuing hiking and mountaineering, often squeezed into a frenzied travel schedule related to his business and the parks. His work, travel, and tremendous physical energy exacted a heavy toll and contributed to his untimely death.

Mather recognized magnificent scenery as the primary criterion for establishment of national parks. He was very careful to evaluate choices for parks, wishing the parks to stand as a collection of unique monuments. He felt those areas which were duplicates might best be managed by others. Within the framework of "scenery," his preservation ethic covered such issues as the locations of park developments, provision of vistas along roadways, and the perpetuation of the natural scene. Mather always wished to have the parks supported by avid users, who would then communicate their support to their elected representatives. His grasp of a grassroots support system encouraged the rise of "nature study" and modern interpretation, as well as other park services, and was followed by increases in NPS appropriations. Mather was the first park professional to clearly articulate the policy which allowed the establishment of park concessioners to provide basic visitor comforts and services in the then undeveloped parks. His provision of creature comforts connected with park developments encouraged a curious and supportive public to visit the national parks.

His life is well summarized — on a series of bronze markers which were posthumously cast in his honor and distributed through many parks:

"He laid the foundation of the National Park Service, defining and establishing the policies under which its areas shall be developed and conserved, unimpaired for future generations. There will never come an end to the good he has done . . ."

Also taken from the NPS website:

A wealthy, gregarious businessman, Stephen T. Mather came to Washington from Chicago in January 1915 as special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane for national park concerns. His vigorous efforts to build public and political support for the parks helped persuade Congress to create the National Park Service in 1916. Appointed the first NPS director in May 1917, he continued to promote park access, development, and use and contributed generously to the parks from his personal fortune. During his tenure the service's domain expanded eastward with the addition of Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, and Mammoth Cave national parks. Periodically disabled by manic-depression, Mather left office in January 1929 after suffering a stroke and died a year later.

It is because of great forward thinking men like Stephen Mather that I was able to visit Yellowstone National Park and see something as beautiful as this waterfall. Thank you Mr. Mather.

October 20 It's Like Hanukkah

Two days in a row, a package on my stoop. How exciting!!! (Note: read yesterday's blog before this one) This time it is my clothes I ordered from Craghoppers. I read about this British company somewhere online. Lucky for them it was about the same time the temperature dropped below freezing here. So when I saw the fleece lined pants...I just had to have them. The removable fleece lined jacket looked good too. So send me one pair of the Kiwi Winter Lined Trousers and one Kiwi 3in1 jacket. And yes I will use that 40% off coupon, especially since my American dollar is like a Mexican Peso to the British pound. Thank you my good chaps. TallyHo and bring on that cold Chicago winter.

October 19 Touch My ColorMunki

I just love ordering stuff online. Besides having the whole world available from the comfort of my office chair, it is a nice surprise when the box is sitting on your stoop when you get home. I know it sounds strange. I do know I ordered it but sometimes you forget about it and BAM! there it is. Today I received my ColorMunki. I know you are thinking "What the fuck is a ColorMunki?". It is a device that will calibrate the colors on your monitor and printer so that they match. Probably not a big deal to most people, until you print that picture for your Christmas card and your children look green. My mom would just tell people they really are that color. But if you had a colormunki, you could correct that problem. Anyway, I've been editing pictures lately and the print colors haven't exactly matched. So I finally ordered this calibration device. It was pretty easy to use. Now are you excited enough about this to ask, can I touch your colormunki?

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 18 Finally...Sunshine

I should have cleaned the house today, but there were blue skies
and sunshine. I asked Oslo if we should stay home and clean the house or go to the beach. He said the place looks fine to me but we should ask a female because they are so sensitive about cleanliness. Fluffy said "the place looks great with white dog hair everywhere, let's go for a ride". So off we went, first to the Indiana Dunes State Park. The fall colors were a little more intense closer to the lake. We hiked up the dune on Trail #8 and returned on Trail #7. Since the sand dunes were getting to Fluff (honestly she was panting much louder than I was), we headed over to Dunbar Beach and relaxed in the dune grass on the beach. As you can see, Oslo got bored with us just sitting on the beach. Fluff on the other hand, was so happy she was drooling. I could have sat there until sunset, but Oslo had other ideas. So we hiked all the way to Lake View Beach and back. It was so relaxing to spend the day in the sunshine that Oslo & Fluff slept on the drive home. Actually I think I might have caught a few zzzz's on the way home too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 17 A Theraputic Walk In The Woods

This is the face I saw this morning, begging me to take them somewhere. It was raining and the temperature was 37 degrees. I kept saying no. But then I realized I needed to get outside. I have good rain gear, so fuck the rain, let's go hiking. The weather has been terrible all week and now I was as excited as Fluffy was to be heading out. I even did a happy feet dance like Fluff does. Originally, I was driving to Mount Baldy. But I saw a pocket of blue sky near the Route 20 exit so I decided to take advantage of it and hike at the Bailly Homestead & Chellberg Farm area of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It rained on & off with the sun shining through in between the cloud bursts. The leaves have started to turn colors and the forest animals were busy getting ready for the long winter. It felt so good hiking through the woods that I decided to lay down for awhile and just relax, enjoying the sounds of acorns falling, leaves rustling, birds chirping constantly, taking in the sights of the clouds moving across the sky, the squirrels and chipmunks stocking up for winter, the rain falling through the trees and the birds flying across my line of vision. I even saw the occasional blue sky poking through the trees. The dogs must have felt some of the same things because even Oslo sat still for almost a half an hour. On the way home, I heard an Everclear song that I loved that seemed to capture the moment, "Santa Monica". So "let's swim out past the breakers and watch the world die".

I am still living with your ghost
lonely and dreaming of the west coast
I don't want to be your downtime
I don't want to be your stupid game

with my big black boots and an old suitcase
I do believe I'll find myself a new place
I don't want to be the bad guy
I don't want to do your sleepwalk dance anymore
I just want to see some palm trees
go and try to shake away this disease

we can live beside the ocean
leave the fire behind
swim out past the breakers
watch the world die

I am still dreaming of your face
hungry and hollow for all the things you took away

I don't want to be your good time
I don't want to be your fall-back crutch anymore

I'll walk right out into a brand new day
insane and rising in my own weird way
I don't want to be the bad guy

I don't want to do your sleepwalk dance anymore
I just want to feel some sunshine
I just want to find some place to be alone

we can live beside the ocean
leave the fire behind
swim out past the breakers
and watch the world die

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 16 Haikus About Rain & My Exciting Life

five straight days of rain
my seasonal affective
disorder is back

thrilling Friday night
bought new dish drain from Target
someone please kill me

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15 Chrissy's Blog From The Tundra

Chrissy is in Churchill, Manitoba working with Polar Bears International (PBI) on the tundra buggies. She is an in field lecturer. It is her job to inform tourists from around the world about the polar bears they came to see. The bears congregate around Churchill this time of year as they wait for the waters of Hudson Bay to freeze. Then the polar bears go out on the ice to hunt for baby seals with baseball bats...I think that is what they use...I remember hearing something about stopping the Canadians from clubbing the seals...OK, I'm not sure about the baseball bats. Anyway, you can read Chrissy's daily blog for Brookfield Zoo here. If you are interested in going to see the polar bears check out the Tundra Buggy site.

October 14 It's Autumn...Same Rain, Different Season

It's been raining all week. Not storming, just that gray, cloudy, dreary rain that pisses down from the sky all day long. I've worked the midnight shift the past two nights. As I try to sleep during the day, the dogs drive me crazy. So I took advantage of a small window with no rain to take them for a walk in Jurgensen Woods. This tree was the only tree that I saw where most of the leaves have turned already.

These giant seeds were all over the ground along the trails. The dogs didn't mind but my old man white boy ankles took a beating as they twisted repeatedly on the walk.

The constant drizzle of rain for the past three days should be perfect for the mushrooms. This beauty was about 8 inches across. Once again the dogs were covered in stickers & burrs. I never even saw a plant with them but the dogs found every one along the trail.I usually say fall is Chicago's best season, but our year long miserable weather continues. The temps have been in the mid 40's for the high so far this week. That has to be about 20 degrees cooler than the average. Winter is already in the air.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 13 Ghost Towns

I stumbled across a very cool (at least to me) website. It has pictures of 24 abandoned towns or cities from around the world. There is a little story with each set of pictures describing the how and why the towns were built and then abandoned. Since all I did was sleep and work today, I thought I would use this as my blog entry for the day. Check out the Web Urbanist for the full story.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 12 My Beliefs...Verified

I have half jokingly said, some say ranted, that the creation of the suburbs were the beginning of the end for our country. They created our demand for oil by requiring us to drive everywhere, they created highways that became clogged with traffic, they created our demand for crappy fast food which in turn began our long acceptance of inferior and cheap over quality and costly. The suburbs then created an insular society, sure you saw your neighbors and waved to them from your driveway to theirs, but you no longer had to talk to them. Slowly big box stores sold everything you needed and the local businesses disappeared. But you didn't notice because you had your home, your 3 car garage, your sixty inch flat screen TV with 280 channels of  viewing excitement. You only left your house to work so you could pay for all your worldly possessions. Why should you care what was actually going on out there? Then in 2008, all Americans were ass raped by the system they created. The truth is we deserved what happened to us. Now is the time to correct the mistakes we made in the past 50 years. I read a great interview with economist James Howard Kunstler in the Sun Magazine today. He pretty much agrees with my assessment of the suburbs bringing down the country. You can read part of the article here or check out his blog, Clusterfuck Nation.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11 Freezing Temps, Polar Girl, River Dogs, A Bleeding Heart & Roasted Marshmallows

Today was our first day below freezing this fall. I took Chrissy to O'hare Airport at 6:30 this morning and the temperature was 27 degrees. She is off to Churchill, Manitoba to be a lecturer on the Tundra Buggies. You can read about her in this Southtown Star article. Since I was at O'hare, I took the dogs to the Desplaines River Trail.

We walked through the woods and along the river for about an hour. Oslo, the Fanook, heard a strange bird call and just froze in his tracks. I kept saying, "Where's the bird?". He kept backing up towards me each time the bird called out. Eventually he sat right by my side, the fucking chickenshit.
On the way home, I stopped at the Bleeding Heart Bakery in Chicago.

I picked up some amazing cupcakes and a tart.

While the dogs slept the whole afternoon, I picked up a fire pit. Kristian & I put it together and roasted marshmallows in the 30 degree evening. The fire kept us warm and I still smell like smoke as I write this blog entry. I googled marshmallows, just to see how to spell it, and this is what I found. You gotta love the internet. That was my day. Hope you had a good Sunday.

October 10 My Lumberjack Niece & My 3 Martini Flower Girl

I finally got around to trimming the bushes in the backyard. I also cut all the branches away from the power lines to the house. Then I cut the branches that were hanging over the garden from a tree along the back fence. I cut the bigger pieces of the branches to use as firewood. Since the town will send out a wood chipper for the branches, my niece Kristian helped drag the branches down the alley to the curb in the front yard. I gave her a pair of old jersey gloves that I had cut the worn out fingertips off. She loved the gloves and kept posing showing off her strong arms. We already had plans to meet Cindy, the flower girl from our wedding, at CafĂ© Borgia for dinner. So I took Kristian out with us because she loves Cindy and I owed her for helping me. Cindy is very good with little kids. She is the very cool Aunt to three nephews and two nieces. I told Cindy I didn't bring the camera because I already had my blog pictures of Kristian for today. She feigned disgust that Kristian got on the blog and she did not. But when the bill came, I saw Cindy had three martinis during our little dinner. I joked that the receipt would make the blog. So technically Cindy has made the blog today along with Kristian. 

Since Cindy busted me in the comment section, I will add a very funny story about dinner last night. Kristian brought along her purse which she keeps a pencil and a notepad. While waiting for our dinners, she wrote a note for each of us. As I was telling a story, she held up a new note for me, it said, " STOP TALKING!". Each time I started talking, Kristian would hold up that note. Cindy laughed so hard she almost spit out one of her three her pomegranate martinis...almost but not quite...she didn't want to spill a drop of those three martinis.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October 9 You Don't Know Shit From Shinola

When we bought this house, there was a room in the basement just full of old crap. As I went through it all, I kept a lot of the old tins, oil cans, coffee cans etc. They sat on a shelf in my tool room in the basement for years. A few years ago, I was cleaning the garage and decided to put all that old stuff on the ledge along the top of the garage. There was so much cool old stuff that it lines the entire garage. When I cleaned the garage recently, I noticed a Shinola Shoe Polish container. It made me laugh because recently I had heard the George Carlin bit about "You don't know shit from Shinola". He goes on to say I bet the Shinola people loved that saying. I had no idea what Shinola actually was and here's the answer right in my garage.

October 8 Walking The Dogs

It's been a busy week, nothing major, just lots of little things to get done around the house. Fluffy & Oslo have been ignored most of the week due to all the running around. They still get to go for car rides but I haven't taken them on a walk for quite a while. As I'm getting my hockey equipment together for my game tonight, they are both at the door driving me crazy. So I took them for a quick walk around the block. The dogs are so excited that it's been getting colder very quickly this fall. I heard we might have freezing temperatures this weekend. I tried to get pictures while walking but didn't get any good ones. They were both so wound up, they were all over the place. Even this picture isn't that good and they were chained to the fence, but I was running late to hockey and had to go. We tied SNS 4-4. Actually they tied us with only 30 seconds left in the game on a power play goal. We won thanks to our goalie stopping a 3 on 0 with 5 seconds left. Do not ask me how 3 of their guys got past all 5 of our guys with 5 seconds left in the game. Thank God Mike came up big in the net.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7 An Extremely Rare Moment

This moment is so rare you should be amazed I was able to capture it with my camera. After work I usually play with the dogs in the yard for a bit. Chrissy had a day off of work today, so she was home. She watched Oslo & I run around the yard playing fetch with a tennis ball. Oslo got all wound up so we began to play fight. Then one of the rarest things you will ever see occurred on my back stoop. It was amazing. I was stunned. I was also lucky enough to snap this picture before it disappeared...possibly forever. So prepare yourself to see a once in a lifetime it is...Chrissy actually smiled...then a miracle happened...she laughed. I knew no one would believe it, so I took this picture just to prove it actually happened.

October 6 Meter Reading

My gas meter is in the far corner of my basement. Because we are rarely home when the meter reader comes around, I have to read the meter and enter the numbers online. Today I got an e-mail from NiCor saying I must have read the meter incorrectly. The numbers I sent them are too big an increase over last month. Imagine that, they warned me I was going to be over billed. They suggested I take a picture and sent it to them.(Probably because they think I'm either too stupid or too blind to read the meter correctly) Since I have to contort my constantly growing fat ass into something resembling the letter S to read the meter, I decided to take a picture of it. I found my mistake right away and e-mailed the picture to NiCor. Just another warning sign that I'm getting closer and closer to a dirt nap.

October 5 Cleaning The Garage

I got off work early today. We have been pretty slow lately. So I waited for the Comcast tech to show up to replace my defective modem. Then he takes one look at it and tells me the modem is working fine, it's just in standby. I felt like a schmuck. He pressed the standby button and it worked right away. I felt like such a loser, I couldn't even use the computer for awhile as punishment to myself. So I went outside and cleaned up the yard and the garage. Then I checked my e-mails for the first time in five days and guess what? There was nothing that important in over 100 e-mails. I guess not being online for almost a week isn't such a bad thing.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 4 A Real Quarterback

Finally! The Bears have a real quarterback. I never thought it would happen in my lifetime. Jay Cutler can actually scramble out of the pocket, throw accurately on the run and take a big hit when all else fails. This picture is him hurtling over a Lion defensive player to score a touchdown. It's fun to watch the Bears again.

October 3 Another Fun Saturday Night

This time I'm not joking. It was a rocking good time with lots of hot young girls. I DJ'd the wedding of Jessica & Dan. Jess works with Chrissy at the zoo. It was way up north and I had to hump all my equipment up 3 flights of stairs, one piece at a time. The country club had no ramps and the very small elevator was down a narrow hallway. Besides that, it was a great time. Once again, the dance floor was packed from the beginning. I met a bunch of cool people. Chrissy took a few pictures so I can post them here.

 I just finished setting up. I needed a break before putting my suit on.

Trying to find the perfect song to play next 

The dance floor early in the night. The two little girls at the bottom couldn't wait to start dancing. They loved the flashing disco lights. The little blonde girl at the bottom was still dancing at midnight in her pajamas.

October 2 Impressive Job

Chicago was the first city eliminated by the IOC today. I am not gloating. I wanted the Olympics, I just didn't want Mayor Daley and his corrupt political machine to be in charge. I did want the jobs that would have been created and the infrastructure that supposedly would have been improved. The joke around here is that an organization as corrupt as the IOC didn't want to share all that graft with the just as corrupt Chicago Democratic Machine. I was working today at a Mobil station in Des Plaines. There was a unbelievably huge tarp over the entire water tower across the street. The tarp covered the whole tower all the way to the ground. All of a sudden the bottom half was dropped to the ground with a cable and pulley system. It looks like while they are spray painting it, the tarp is up. When they finish, the drop it. I thought it was rather impressive.