Monthly Archives: September 2009

Chicago 2016

I would like to officially throw my hat into the ring and support the Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.  I’m sure the president and Oprah are both relieved.  I have listened to the arguments from both sides, and my decision really comes down to just two factors.  First, in these very tough economic times, no matter the potential risks involved, I don’t think the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, or the United States as a whole should pass on a chance to stimulate the economy starting almost immediately and continuing for years to come.  And second, the Olympics are just plain old cool.  I truly just enjoy that every other year, alternating winter and summer, we get to stand behind our athletes and our country and watch with pride events that barely even make the sports page at any other time.  Who didn’t watch Michael Phelps at some point during the last Olympic Games in Beijing?  And really, no-one even cared that he was caught hitting the bong later on.  He is still a 14 time Olympic Gold Medalist.  That is cool.

Sure, I could go on and on about the jobs that will be created, the potential benefits to the city’s infrastructure, and the added tax revenues created by ticket, food, and souvenir sales.  Not to mention all that hotel revenue.  But I will leave all that to Richie Dailey and whatever magic math system he is using.  Whether it is 2 billion, 40 billion, or 570 billion, all the different models seem to point to some sort of revenue boost.  Don’t forget, these games are seven years away, and a lot can happen in seven years.  Yes it is scary and uncertain, and there is a great potential for failure in so many ways.  But there is also a great potential for good.  Who knows what changes can be made in the next seven years based on the Olympics coming to Chicago.  In seven years, my youngest daughter Molly will be 17 and just getting ready to enter her Senior year in high school.  In seven years, if President Obama is successfully re-elected in 2012, he will be in the final months of his administration when the Chicago Olympic Games kick off.  In seven years, regardless of how our local sports teams do, there could be a championship in the City of Chicago.  An Olympic Championship.

The world can change so much in seven years.  Back in 2002 President Bush was at the height of his popularity, still garnishing approval from his initial reaction to the September 11th attacks, his approval rating that year stayed between 70% and 80%.  At the same time, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama was just looking into the possibility of running for the United States Senate, having lost a bid for the House of Representative two years earlier to the incumbent, Bobby Rush.  In 2002, Kelly Clarkson became the first winner of American Idol, beating out the now forgotten Justin Guarini, while Nelly was telling my then 11-year-old daughter Stephanie to take off all her clothes.  TV’s top rated show was still Friends and there was no CSI in Miami or New York yet, although Law & Order has already successfully spun off two new series.  Spider-Man was the top grossing film of 2002, but Harry Potter was making a ton of money at both the theater and in the book stores. 

And of course, since we are talking about what has become the world’s most attended sporting event coming to Chicago, we should take a few moments to reflect back on what the state of Chicago sports was back in 2002.  The 2001-2002 season saw the second return of Michael Jordan, only this time he did so as a member of the Washington Wizards, and the Bulls finished the season a dismal 21-61 after drafting hot high school prospects Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry.  Head coach Tim Floyd didn’t even make it to 2002, resigning on Christmas Eve 2001, eventually being replaced by assistant coach Bill Cartwright.  That same season, the BlackHawks just managed to squeeze into the playoffs under the guidance of Head Coach Brian Sutter and stars Tony Amonte and Eric Daze.  But they were knocked out in the first round by St. Louis.  This had been the first playoff appearance for the BlackHawks since 1998, and they would not see another playoff berth for another seven years.  The 2002 season for the Chicago Bears would be remembered best as the year of 16 away games.  While renovations were being completed on Soldier Field, the Bears played their entire home season in Memorial Stadium out of the University of Illinois down in Champaign-Urbana.  Having just come off of a miracle 13-3 season, there were high hopes for the 2002 Bears.  But the long commute and injuries plagued the Bears that year, and they finished a miserable 4-12.  After only one more year, head coach Dick Jauron was let go.

And of course, that brings us to baseball.  Going into the 2002 season, Chicago baseball had gone a combined total of 179 years without a World Series Championship.  Neither team fared much better in 2002.  The White Sox under manager Jerry Manuel finished 2nd in their division with an 81-81 record, while the Cubs finished next to the bottom with a record of 67-95 under last year manager Don Baylor.  The highlight of the Sox year was an All-Star bid for first baseman Paul Konerko, where he hit two doubles to tie the game up in Milwaukee.  The game ended in a tie, resulting in Commissioner Bud Selig to create the “This Time it Counts” campaign, where the winning league from the All-Star game gets home field advantage in the World Series.  The American League has won every year since.

So here we are, seven years later, and both the Bulls and the BlackHawks made it back to the playoffs this year.  The Bears made it back to the Superbowl in January of 2007, losing 29-17 to the Indianapolis Colts.  The Cubs missed the World Series by just five outs in the infamous Bartman Ball year of 2003, and won two straight division championships in 2007 and 2008.  The White Sox finally ended the Chicago drought by winning the World Series in 2005, and also won their division in 2008.  Unfortunately, neither team made the playoffs this year, but in the big picture, the Chicago sports scene has certainly changed over the last seven years.

So now we are just a day away from the big announcement.  Will the Olympics be coming to Chicago?  In my lifetime I have been blessed to see six world championships with the Chicago Bulls, the 1985 Bears Superbowl, attended both the 2002 and 2003 All-Star games in Milwaukee and here in Chicago.  Just this year I got to see Mark Buehrle throw a perfect game, and of course I was in attendance in some form at all four World Series games won by the Sox back in 2005.  What a great thing it would be to be able to add the 2016 Olympic Games to that list.

Fried Zucchini

This may come as a complete surprise to some people, but I am fat.  Granted, I would like to believe that I am not as some charts tell me, morbidly obese, but none the less, I am fat.  I contribute this factor much to the very simple fact that I like to eat.  And I really like to eat stuff that tastes good.  Although many people have told me that low fat and sugar free options don’t have to taste bad, mostly I think those people are full of crap.  I don’t drink diet soda, it taste icky.  And anything less than 2% milk is basically just white water.  On some occasions growing up, my mom would get the whole milk from Oberweis Dairy.  It came in the glass bottle which kept the milk especially cold.  Now that was good milk.  At least I’m not drinking that every day, but I probably would if it wasn’t so expensive. 

Now, don’t take this as a sign that I only eat high fat, sugary foods.  This summer we had a garden, and one of my favorite treats from the garden were fresh picked cherry tomatoes.  I actually had a few this morning.  From my back deck, I could see a few ripe ones in the garden.  I picked a handful and ate them before I even made it back into the house.  That was my breakfast this morning.  That and two cups of coffee with probably too much Coffee-Mate Creme Brulee Creamer.  Seriously, if you haven’t tried it, do yourself a favor and pick some up.  It makes your coffee taste like candy.  Which brings me right back to my problem.  I am fat.

As with many people, food for me is a stimulant.  Certain foods and food smells bring back great memories.  And good tasting food can always spark a great conversation.  And very often, a good time can generally be defined by how good the food was at the time.  My friends Doug and Dyani throw a Cinco de Mayo party each year, and I always look forward to it because Dyani makes the absolute best Carne Asada and guacamole.  She even takes the time to warm her tortillas over an open flame.  Sure it is just the burner on her kitchen stove, but still it makes them so much better then when I warm them in the microwave at home.  Dyani kicked things up even more this last year by making these outstanding grilled pork chops.  Thin cut and on the bone, they were outstanding.  I had three, and still managed two helpings of the Carne Asada on top of that.  Needless to say, I am fat.

Which finally brings me to the topic of this particular blog entry.  Fried zucchini.  I was somewhat disappointed when it looked like the zucchini we planted weren’t going to come in.  Very early on, we got these beautiful flowers to bloom from the plants, but as they wilted, no zucchini.  Maureen, being a librarian by trade, quickly discovered that these early flowers were probably male, and they do not produce any fruit.  Those would come later in the season.  But as the summer went on, our plants got brown and spotty and seemed to be dying off.  It looked to me like I had planted them too close together, and they were being overpowered by other plants.  So some time in August, I thinned out that whole area of the garden, and low and behold, we got zucchini.  For me, zucchini is best when still rather young.  You have to pick them before the seeds get a chance to get too big.  They don’t seem to hold up as well once they do.  I like zucchini raw, and will slice it up and eat it just like that.  Or raw zucchini can be chopped and put into a salad to add bulk and flavor.  See, I can eat healthy.  But for me, the absolute best way to eat zucchini is fried.

As a child, my mom also kept a garden, and she too grew zucchini.  After picking a fresh one, she would slice it into rounds about a quarter inch thick and dip them in an egg wash.  She would then coat them in a crust of Italian bread crumbs and into a pan of hot oil.  They cook rather quickly, and you don’t want to overcook them because then they get too soft.  They looked and smelled great.  The whole family would stand around the stove as my mom made them and we would grab them up as quickly as she pulled them from the oil.  Crispy and brown and delicious.  Most of the time we would burn our mouths because we couldn’t wait for them to cool off.  This simple recipe is still the way I make zucchini, only I spice up the bread crumbs with some garlic salt, ground pepper, and some Cajun Seasoning. 

Maureen made us a very tasty meatloaf last night for dinner, cooking some potatoes right in the pan with the meat.  She even made an excellent gravy from the drippings.  I made the fried zucchini and got yelled at a few times because I kept flashing back to my childhood and eating the fresh treats right from the pan.  Hot, crispy, spicy and good.  Of course this did not detour me from having a second helping of meatloaf, and we both ate like we were going to the chair.  Way past the point of one wafer thin mint.

So, I guess I am just going to have to get used to being fat.  Because I still have a few more zucchini in the garden, and a lot more new memories to make.

$7.14 at 7-11

I had a rather interesting morning.  Much more thought provoking than I would have anticipated from the start of the work week.  It had me thinking about both the good and the bad in people.  The morning started out like a normal Monday morning.  Slow moving children.  Slow moving dad.  Slow moving bowels.  Molly started our day off with a chuckle, telling me that I couldn’t get rid of Maureen, my girlfriend, because she finally had someone she could relate too.  I guess Old Dad is just not hip enough.  It certainly put a big smile on Maureen’s face.  Making sure everyone was showered, dressed warmly, (it seems that Fall has finally decided to visit here in Chicago) and had brushed their hair and teeth, I jumped into the old grey Chevy and was greeted with the bright red oil light screaming at me.  It seems the old grey dad wasn’t the only one having trouble starting his morning. 

Side note here:  I hate my car.  While struggling to make ends meet, my little black pick-up truck died on me.  It had over 200,000 miles on it, and I had been nursing it along as best I could for quite some time.  On a trip back from my lawyers office, the truck let out one last gasp and then died.  It needed a new engine, which I had known for some time, and I had finally pushed it one too many times.  At that point I was living in an apartment, but still paying the mortgage on my home.  I had no choice but to get any car I could just to get back and forth to work.  It was a piece of crap then, and it is a piece of crap now.  And it’s not even mine yet.  Citizen’s Bank still owns it for the next two years.  I really miss my little black pick-up truck.

So with the oil light screaming at me, I headed down to the 7-11 to get two quarts of oil.  My mechanic had already told me that my old grey car just like to burn through oil, and that other than a full overhaul, the only fix was to make sure I kept the oil and coolant levels good.  Usually I add a quart before I get the warning, but obviously that was not the case today.  As I pulled into the 7-11 I realized I had no money on me.  Molly had presented me with two field trip slips last night, and my last $11 was going to school with her sealed inside a white envelope.  It seems that the school has been having too many problems with bounced checks, so all field trip money has to be paid in cash.  But not a problem.  I had my debit card and I was pretty sure about $59.73 in the bank.  Seems I never really got past that whole struggling to make ends meet thing.

Another quick side note:  Personally, I love the idea that 7-11 is no longer just a convenance store.  Where else can you fill up your tank, get some pretty good cheap coffee, milk for the kids, and a scratch off ticket all in the same place.  Ok , maybe a lot of other places, but none of them have Slurpees. 

I grab the oil and one of those paper funnel things, pull out my debit card and head to the counter.  The regular 7-11 lady was not there, but instead it was her niece who has now been working there for some time.  She rings up the oil, tells me it’s $7.14 and I slide the debit card through the slot.  At this point it does nothing.  Please Wait.  Polite conversation and a smile.  Please Wait.  Now a more awkward smile and a polite chuckle.  Please Wait.  Shit, what the hell did I spend $52.59 on since last night when I checked my balance?  The niece shouts something out in whatever language it is they speak in 7-11, and an equally non-understandable reply comes from the back room.  It seems we have had to disturb the 7-11 lady from her break.  Now, I don’t really know the 7-11 lady, and she really doesn’t know me, but we have a rather good relationship for two people who don’t even know each others names.  She has three kids of her own, and she has on a number of occasions met my kids when we have made one of our many trips to the 7-11 to get the before mentioned Slurpees.  She says something to the niece again in 7-11 language then turns to me and apologizes saying they have been having trouble with the credit card swiper.  She asks if I can pay with cash and I explain the whole field trip thing and she is overcome with a very sincere smile.  I was about to tell her I would try the cash machine when she did something I never expected.  She tore off the receipt, handed it to me and said, “You come back and pay after work.  It will be working then.” 

Suddenly, my faith in humanity was somehow restored.  I was actually starting to feel a little guilty about flipping off that Punk the other day.  There were genuinely good people in the world, and one of them was running my local 7-11.  I thanked her and promised to stop back on my way home.  I know it may seem like such a small thing, but it really made my day.  Even the heavier than usual traffic on the Stevenson couldn’t bother me at this point.  That is until I realized that the heavier than usual traffic on the Stevenson had come to a complete stop. 

It soon became apparent that there was a rather big accident up ahead.  All traffic was being diverted into the far right lane and shoulder.  Unlike my experience the day before, all those involved with this jam seemed level headed and calm.  We all merged to where we needed to go, and no-one tried to cheat his way forward.  Maybe it was all the lights and emergency equipment keeping people in line, or maybe it was that sence that this was no simple fender bender, and unfortunately we were right.  When it was finally my turn to creep past the wreckage, I was a bit overwhelmed by what I saw.  It appeared as if a small compact car had been crushed between two semi trucks.  I could not even tell what type of car it was other than it had once been blue.  The entire front and tail end of the car been crushed so badly that the whole thing just looked like a box.  The drivers door had been pried open, but nobody was rushing in to save the occupant.  The rescue workers on the scene were basically just standing there shaking their heads in what seemed to me to be disbelief.  It was more than obvious that someone had lost their life.

 Traffic picked up quickly once we passed the scene.  A quick call from Maureen to see how my drive was.  She was just as sad to hear of the accident.  As the miles past from the crash site, traffic returned to a normal flow, most unaware of what had transpired behind us.  I found myself thinking again of the 7-11 lady.  Why were there not more people like that in the world?  Why do so many people go through life with so much anger and resentment.  Life is too short to be filled with hate.  There is really no reason why people can’t get along better in this world, other than we choose not to get along.  I don’t want to be one of those people. 

On my way home tonight, when I stop at the 7-11 to pay my $7.14, I think I’m going to get myself a Slurpee.

The Birds the Word

I am usually not one to give in to a bit of road rage, but I had a moment of weakness yesterday.  On a recent trip to Beverly, around the area of 111th and Kedsie, I found myself in a bit of a traffic tie up.  It is one of those areas that is basically one lane,  but many a crafty driver will use the parking lane to get around slower traffic.  Not that I am an expert on this type of shoulder slalom, but I have myself found it a useful maneuver, especially when stuck behind a short driver of advancing years.  On this day however, when traffic was moving at a snails pace, and there are numerous cars parked along the way, these types of driving tactics only serve the purpose of raising the blood pressure of the other drivers.

At one particular point in the road, a number of cars were successful in making the pass because the car in front of me was being too giving of the space in front of his car.  Myself, I was getting tired of all the curb passers and pulled the classic straddle the lane defensive stance, keeping my place in line, but also not giving another car enoughspace to pass me.  At this point we introduce the villain of our story. We will just refer to him as Young Punk with Tilted Baseball Cap.  Hey, kids, this is never a good look.  I am not just being an old guy here.  Flat brim, turned just slightly to the side, cap pulled all the way down to the eyebrows.  You don’t look cool, you look like you don’t know how to dress yourself.

Mr. Flat Rim Punk was driving a large green delivery type van.  He pulled out into the parking lane expecting to floor it past all the slower traffic, but had to slam on his breaks when he realized there was not enough room to pass me.  As we inched along, Punk pounded on his horn and stuck his head out his window shouting something at me.  The combination of my radio and bad hearing prevented me from hearing exactly what he was saying, but judging by the bulging vein in his neck, I would assume he was not apologizing for his poor driving.  To make matters worse for Punk, the driver of the SUV behind me was keeping very close to my bumper, not allowing him to move in.  As I approached a firehouse, I had to pull fully into my lane because of an ambulance parked in the street.  Punk pulled right up next to me and continued his ranting.  I politely looked over, smiled, and flipped him the bird.

I moved on, and Punk was stuck behind the ambulance, and as far as I could see, several cars after the SUV also played bumper driving, refusing to let him in.  I assumed that this was the end of things, but I just couldn’t be that lucky.  A few blocks ahead, I was stopped at a red light, and who should appear right next to me in the right hand turning lane, but Mr. Punk.  He was still red faced and ranking, and this time he included a lot of finger pointing.  Of course he had no intention of turning right.  When the light turned green I proceeded slowly, allowing Punk to pass me.  I was fairly sure he felt much better about himself now, and strangely, I was sort of please at the effect I was able to have on Punk.  It is not everyday that we can have that type of effect on a perfect stranger.  But once again, this was not the end of the situation.  About two blocks past the light, Punk decides to make a left turn.

You have got to be F……ing kiding me.

My drivers window was open, and Punk heard me much better that I had heard any of his rants.  Punk was now sticking his head out looking back and continuing is verbal onslaught.  Punk was not making a left turn.  Punk was being a jag-bag and purposely not turning even when there was more than enough room to do so, still continuing with loud outbreaks in my general direction. As I was trying to figure out what to do next, there was a sudden return of obscenities from behind me.  The man driving the SUV was still close behind and now he was standing outside the car, and he was big.  I kid you not, he look a lot like Ogre from “Revenge of the Nerds”.  And he was pissed. 

Punk decided that this was probably the best time to make that left turn, but as he did, he shot back his own one finger salute .  I couldn’t help but laugh at the whole situation and proceeded on my way.  I don’t think Mr. SUV was quite as amused as me.  He made the left turn after Punk and all I could hear was the squealing of his tires as he sped down the street.  Once again I found myself somewhat pleased with the final out come.  I have a great deal of confidence that Punk was fitted for a new pair of size 14 boots, or at least one boot promptly stuck were the good lord split him.  And to think that the power of just one little finger was all it took to procuce all that rage in these two people.

I should really be more careful before I use it again.

Splitting Hares

Much like Elmer Fudd of the old Merrie Melodies cartoons, I can often these days be heard quietly humming around the house to the tune of  Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”

Kill the Wabbit  

We started a garden this year.  It was something I had been wanting to do for many years, and it was something I had tried to do somewhat lackadaisicaly in past years, but “other” things got in the way, and I couldn’t get my head on straight and SOMETHING keep eating everything I planted.

Kill the Wabbit.

So we started the task early this year.  Reading up about things on the internet, turning the dining room table into a sort of greenhouse to plant seeds and see what, if anything we could get to sprout.  My youngest daughter Molly is a big fan of the cucumber, and it was she who really got us going this year.  She wanted to make sure we planted cucumbers, cantaloupe, and sunflowers, but as Meatloaf would say, “Two out of three, ain’t bad.”  I was never able to get any sort of sprout from the cantaloupes.  Upon reading the seed packet more closely, cantaloupes really don’t do well in early seeding and need to be planted directly out-of-doors AFTER the soil temperature exceeds 65 degrees.  They are also not very well adapted to the mid-west as they grow best in mulch rather than our hard clay soil.  And if you plant them too early, they very often get eaten by predators.

Kill the Wabbit.

 Our first attempt in the back yard was an 16 foot by 4 foot area which I intended to enclose with some chicken wire.  This is where we first learned about how bad our soil was for planting.  It is hard.  I cleared the area of grass with the edge trimmer and then rented a tiller from Home Depot.  Our ground was HARD!   Several passes with the tiller really only resulted in this giant clumpy mess of ground.  And in case I haven’t made myself clear, IT WAS HARD!  We did the best we could given the ground around us, and we planted tomatoes, radishes, peas, jalopenos, onions and two types of cucumbers.  Besides the traditional type of cucumber, we discovered a round yellow variety called a Lemon Cucumber, and since Molly was such a cucumber freak, we just had to give it a try.  During the planting process, I learned a very important lesson about our hard ground.  If a hand shovel is not strong enough to clear a hole for a plant, a thumb will not do any better.  In an attempt to clear out a particularly hard piece of ground (read rock), I stuck my thumb in the hole to loosen the hard dirt (Rock) and quickly discovered that this particular piece of ground (ROCK) was far stronger than my thumb.  The resulting “POP” could be heard across the yard.  I had dislocated my thumb gardening.  I could actually see the rabbits laughing at me from the bushes.

Kill the Wabbit.

Undaunted, we did build a second garden and had some success.  Molly got her cucumbers.

Garden 006

Even one of the Yellow Cucumber plants survived.

Garden 004

The Sunflowers bloomed nicely towards the end of summer.

Garden 009

And for the most part we fought off the rabbits as best we could.  Now that the fall has arrived, it suddenly seems like the rabbit population has boomed, and most mornings we find two or three of them just lounging around in the yard eating something.  I chase them off with idle threats of Hassenpfeffer Stew.  Other than the furry little nemesis, our first year of gardening was a good one.  We have even started planning changes for next year already.  I wonder where I can get me a shotgun.

Kill the Wabbit.

Splitting Hairs

Much to the delight of my girlfriend, I have decided to grow my beard back.  I of course tried to tie it all back into the coming of Fall and the natural instinct to get ready for winter adding warmth for survival.  The truth of the fact is that I don’t shave because I’m lazy.  Most of the time it is just too much work to lift the razor from the side of the sink, lather my face (usually with the liquid hand soap because I ran out of the generic shaving gel and I keep meaning to pick more up but didn’t) and then run that sharp edge across my cheeks, neck and jaw.  You will notice that I left the word chin out.  That is because on most occasion I do retain a tight short mustache and goatee.  Although I did spend most of my life without facial hair, mostly because at a younger age I was unable to grow facial hair, at this point in my life  I almost feel naked if it is not there.

My very first attempt to grow a mustache was way back in the summer before my Freshman year of high school.  It wasn’t so much an attempt, but the first time that anything grew and I just let it go.  I of course thought it was so cool, those little strands of dark hair against my nicely tanned skin after a  whole summer of sun.  Not yet five foot tall and all of 85 pounds soaking wet, I was strutting my stuff that summer of 1979, with my cut off shorts and “Hangin’ It” iron-on t-shirt, more than likely bought at Rumple-Shirt-Skins, our local custom made t-shirt shop.  Overgrown mop of dark hair on top flowing freely with no idea about the silver and grey that would replace it in the years to come.  I was cooler than Fonzie during that demolition derby when he had to leap into the fray to help Pinky Tuscadero.  Leave it to my mother to snap me back to reality.

Tom, you need to start shaving.  You look like a ….”

Let’s just say the name she called me was a less than flattering term used to describe someone of Mexican decent, and it rhymes with a nickname for Richard.  I don’t want to give an unfair impression of my mother, because even back then she was not one to use such language or to enhance stereo types in such a manner.  Long before it was considered improper to use such terms, she didn’t.  Which made the point even poignant.  She was right.  I did look like a ….

So thus began my long love/hate relationship with the various forms of all razors.  Whether I needed it or not, once or twice a week I started dragging that disposable blade across my upper lip, usually preceded by applying too much Barbasol rich and thick shaving cream, and leaving a trail in the sink of tiny hairs and blood.  And of course all that extra Barbasol.  A few years later, I received an electric razor for Christmas, I don’t recall the name of it, but I do remember the commercial featuring a claymation Santa riding in the head of the razor like a sled.  Shortly after that, I discovered that yes indeed, you can still cut yourself with an electric razor, and the burn it left behind was somewhat reminiscent of the time I allowed my cousin David to scrap sandpaper across face.  But that is a story for another time.

It really wasn’t until very recently, within the last 10 years, that I started allowing myself to grow out my facial hair.  Of course like most men, I would refrain from shaving on weekends and during vacations, but Monday morning when it was time to get off to work, out came the razor and soap.  Not being a particularly hairy guy, I do not grow a full beard overnight.  It usually takes two to three weeks to fill in, although I don’t mind the look of a one week scruff.  So it wasn’t until I happened to take a full two week vacation that I actually grew out the full beard.  And I liked it.  For a while I was like a kid with a new toy.  Musical facial hair so to speak.  Full beard, goatee, thick chops, thin chops, even that thin little line that just follows line of the jaw.  It was like playing with a life size Wooly Willy stuck to my face.  I was not quite as drastic as Nick Swisher before he was with the Yankees, but I did try a variety of looks.  I also tried just the mustache once, but I looked too much like my father had when he had his mustache in the 70’s, so I shaved it off before I even left the bathroom.  I finally settled on just two looks,  full beard and the goatee/mustache combo.  Every once in a while when I really goof things up trimming, I have to wipe the slate clean and I go a few days naked.  But usually within a week I am back to not shaving.  I guess I’m just one of those guys that needs to have facial hair.

Or I’m just lazy.

Day 3

No,  I am not going to keep a running count of the number of days I have been blogging, but  since I am still just trying to figure out how to make all this stuff work, you are stuck with the completely interesting and creative title “Day 3”.

Much to my surprise, my blog has actually been visited.  8 people yesterday, and so far 7 people today.  Not a record setting opening, but at least it’s no Heaven’s Gate.  I have actually started a few new entries, but since my mind is easily sidetracked I have not had a chance to finish them.  So for the few of you who have stopped by, hold tight I promise to get to other topics very soon.

Today, I am totally intrigued by the Custom Header.  When I put the original header up, I did it in like three seconds, and I really didn’t think much about it.  As I have traveled around looking at different blogs, I found that a number of people have chosen to use this type of theme with a picture at the top that sort of sums up who they are or what their blog is about.  I started to feel somewhat guilty for having spent so little time picking out a picture for the top of my blog.  But since I have yet to even name my blog, I thought maybe I should spend more time crafting an interesting and creative Custom Header that would really tells the world who I am and what I am all about, grabbing their attention, and leaving them wanting to know more about this exceedingly interesting and fascinating guy.

First, I get the idea that this is a header and that it is not a standard picture size, but was it really necessary to include the sentence:

Images of exactly 770 x 140 pixels will be used as-is.

Is there really anyone who just happens to have a collection of photos at their disposal that are exactly 770 x 140 pixels.  Now, maybe in the printing or graphics world this a standard size, but based on the blogs I have visited, I would think that most of the bloggers will need to crop their pictures in some way.  I would also imagine that most people, like myself, really have no idea what size an actual pixel is.  Either that, or I am just not that smart.

The first thing I discovered as I set out on my journey to find the perfect Custom Header was that most of the pictures I have in my computer are not the right size to exist in the web world, so once I found a picture I wanted to try, I would first have to re-size it.  Because I have learned the hard way that you should never make changes to your originals, I was smart enough to make a copy of each picture before I re-sized it.  So I re-saved the file to change the name, changed the  name to re-size the file, re-sized the file so it fits on the web, which wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.

I tried doing interesting things with pictures of my kids, pictures of me, pictures of my family.  I had a really nice picture of the skyline of New York, but considering I live in a suburb of Chicago, that really didn’t seem to make much sense.  So after all the re-sizing and re-filing I realized that maybe that first picture was the best.  Just in case anyone really cares, here is what the full size picture looks like.

DAD 002

The picture was originally taken on a Sunday afternoon at a ballgame with my kids.  It was in early April, and Paul Konerko was attempting to hit his 300th career Home Run.  He did not hit one that day, in fact he hit it the very next day.  In Detroit.  Back to back with Jermaine Dye who also hit his 300th Home Run.  We didn’t get to see history made that day, but we would later in the season.  But that is a story for another day.

In truth, the picture is not the best, but when cropped to show mostly the crowd with just a hint of the ballplayer and umpire, it really does say a lot about me.  You will read about baseball in this blog.  But I don’t want to make it the center of what this blog is about.  Baseball is a great sport and it has meant so much to my life and to my family.  I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend if it were not for baseball.  But I think what I want this blog to be mostly about is the crowd.  People.  Just the everyday average guy and gal and how we get along in our lives.  The things that bother us and the things that make us happy.  How we get along with each other and what happens when we don’t get along.  It is the faces in the crowd that are the most important part. 

Wow.  I think I just found a name for my blog.

Day 2

Well, it is day two of my blog, and I feel like an idiot.  Widgets, Extras, Custom Header???  I didn’t realize that creating and setting up a blog could be so complicated.  I don’t even understand what most of those Widget things are.  Do I really need a Cloud on my blog?  And I am pretty sure that if I have a SocialVibe I should probably get myself to the free clinic.  And Just what the hell does mean?

I know that it is going to take a little time to look around and figure out what I am doing, but in the meantime I feel like a big dolt trying to figure out how to post and edit and insert my Gravatar.  Really?  Gravatar?  That’s the best word we can come up with to describe what is basically your blog profile picture?  Who makes this crap up?

I know that some time in the near future I will look back and laugh at how inept I was at the beginning, but lets face it, some of this stuff is like trying to read Russian when you took two years of German in high school twenty years ago.  Little bits and pieces somehow make it through, but nothing really makes sense.

Oh, well.  Day two.  And still no name my for blog.

Why Blog, Why Now?

I had always been intrigued by the idea of keeping a journal, and on more than one occasion it had been suggested to me by others that I might want to do so as a type of therapy.  But the idea of spending all this time writing something that nobody is ever going to read just seemed dumb.  And since my handwriting is so god awful that even I would probably never be able to decipher what I had written, it almost seemed nuts.  But then along came this new fangled do-hicky called the internet, and suddenly there is a whole new world of possibilities.  Not that I think anyone would take the time to read the somewhat disturbed rantings of a 44-year-old divorced father of three, but the fact that someone “could” read them kind of made the whole thing just a little less crazy.  I have no idea what I am planning to write about.  More than likely it will just be whatever happens to be on my mind at the time.  And trust me, my mind is a scary place to visit.  Not very well organised either.  Kind of like my desk at work.  I will probably not be nearly as political as my drastically younger sibling who also has a blog.  But I will give her credit for giving me idea to start my own.  I would guess that I will have a lot to say about parenting, relationships, baseball, and the way I view the world.  Since part of the idea here is to express things and get things off my chest, I might just find myself in a little bit of hot water every now and then.  But since first and formost this whole blog idea is for me, then I wouldn’t be doing myself any good if I sugar coated things.  It would be like cheating on a Suduko Puzzle.  Who would I really be cheating but myself.

So basicity that is it.  You all are now my therapy, and should you choose, you will be subjected to my somewhat off beat rants and raves.  And in return, I will get back exactly what I paid for.  Nothing.  Nothing exect I hope a little stress relief and a fresh look on life.  Let’s just see where this whole crazy idea takes me.

And maybe soon I will figure out what to name this blog.  Or better yet, maybe it will someday name itself.