29 December 2008

They are who we thought they were...

So after a long drawn out season, the Bears finished miserably while holding their own destiny firmly in their hands.

I am so tired of hearing every single Bear player saying that they are better than what they put on the field. If that was true than they should have performed better, period.

I was sort of amazed at how many reporters and fans said that they finished "much better" than everyone had expected. When it comes to expectations with sport I usually defer to Las Vegas who has a bit more riding on their predictions. Before the season started they had the Bears pegged as 8-8 finishers. So 1 game better than that isn't "much better" in my opinion. In fact, it proves that they are exactly who we thought they were going to be going into a season with questionable QB and WR positions.

But the big surprise for the year truly was how horrible the Defense performed. Peanut Tillman continues to be a shining example of how someone acts like they are much better than they are and continues to get burned. Mike Brown AGAIN finishes the season on the IR although give him credit, he played in 15 of the 16 games this year. The secondary is weak and wasn't a big surprise but we were going to forgive that because the Defensive line was going to be brutal on the opposing teams. Unfortunately Alex Brown led the team in sacks with 6 and he wasn't even supposed to be the guy who did that. Kudos to him though.

A sad finish to a sad year. Somehow I think someone is still believing that they are just "that" close to the 2006 team that went to the Superbowl. Those someones are likely part of the coaching staff and ownership. For once, please listen to the fans....you're not.

17 December 2008

Can you hear ants screaming?

Yesterday, the Arena Football League announced that they've canceled their 2009 season with hopes of having a better economic turnaround to come back in 2010.

So?? Football on a hockey rink, where the scores goes into the 70's. How can any true football fan care about this horrible bastardization of America's Game.

People screamed like hell when Vince McMahon started up the XFL, but at least it was played on a real football field. In fact, many things Vince tried are now common place for CBS/NBC/ESPN/FOX for football and other sports (the almost in-action cameras, the yellow line for first downs and the escalation of individual players on teams as celebrities over the team). But it was Vince freakin' McMahon and he did a lot of things wrong and rubbed people the wrong way.

The AFL would not be the AFL if it didn't have a major tv contract and the backing of the NFL and several alumni. The only people I know who go to these games are people who get FREE tickets (including me, once) and people dumb enough to buy season tickets (sorry Sami, my friend). To be honest, I'm amazed that the sport has been around for over 25 years. But since it has, isn't it amazing that most people don't even know it exists? In fact, if not for Mike Ditka, John Elway and Jon Bon Jovi only RECENTLY buying in to existing franchises, it would have even LESS awareness.

So at the annoucement that they've shut the doors for 2009, I view it as the old "if a tree falls...". It would be the same reaction if the Lacrosse league or the WNBA or an A-League soccer league were to close. It's the same reaction I had to when the WFL, USFL, and NFL Europe shut down. They are there mostly to serve the minor markets in America, people who just won't trek 200 miles each way to see a professional team. I'm not saying that minor league sports don't have a place in society but let's not make them out to be gigantic market-makers and revenue-drivers.

I'm sure it'll be back in 2010 because the NFL needs to spend the money and without NFL Europe, well, they have to find a way to dump profits. But let's not herald the return as some massive arising from the dead or Phoenix from the ashes. It's a marketing tool for a major corporation and that's really it.

10 December 2008

Bad Hair Day

I had yesterday off from work. We needed to take Aidan to the Doctor for his one year check up and a load of shots. It really sucked to see him screaming from the shots.

I also took the opportunity to finish baby-proofing the house. It was the cabinet latches which are a pain in the royal arse.

But it was early in the morning when a smile came across my face. The FBI had shown up at Rod Blogo's house and took him into custody. This, just a day after he basically taunted whomever was recording him in a "Nixon/Watergate" style.

As a life long Democrat, I can honestly say that I didn't vote for this ass EITHER time he ran. Look, if you pay any attention to politics in Illinois, you can spot these guys a mile away. They are really slick, quickly garner the union vote and promise lots of jobs and prosperity for the State when campaigning.

He did a great job of staying out of the camera's eye on Tuesday and that's a shame as I'd love to see him squirming through this. I've now read all 76 pages of the complaint and frankly, it's shocking but not surprising. He clearly never was a fan of The Sopranos cuz even when he KNEW he was being recorded, he didn't remember to go to the basement and turn on the fan.

What sucks is that this is now the third Governor that I remember being criminally charged. Everytime the State of Illinois has something to celebrate, these idiots screw it up. But look, most people will agree that this sort of behavior has just become part of the fabric of the State. I know of several stories from my own family during the original Mayor Daley's administration and have heard a hundred others.

In fact, during the last campaign for US House, Debbie Halvorson was running against Ozinga (yeah, we've all been almost ran over by a few of those cement trucks in our lives) and blasted him in every commercial that he was involved in pay-to-play with Blogo for state road works contracts.

All of this doesn't forgive these heinous crimes that cost us all money in taxes, both sales and Real Estate. String them all up if you ask me. The problem is, as soon as you cut the head off the snake, another grows in its place. The corruption is deep-seeded. It was reported that in the last 30 years, there's been over 1000 government employees/reps who've been convicted of some sort of corruption in the State including Alderman and others. So if we really want change on this, we need legislation that also makes it a crime to NOT report it when you're being fleeced and to have all of those cases to be followed up and prosecuted.

To close, here's a foretelling picture from 2002. I wonder who's going to be the bitch when they are in prison together (unless Bush commuted Ryan's sentence)

05 December 2008

Big Three Bailout

How much more rediculous can this get?

So after taking a beating about each of the CEO's took their own private, corporate jets the LAST time to beg for money, now, I'm sure at the wet dream of the PR/clueless/out-of-touch advisors to them, these three bozos show up in hybrids and experimental electronic cars to beg again.

Are you serious? It's akin to the most heinous murderer being caught, looking disheveled, slightly bruised and with insanity in their eyes, to showing up in court, clean shaven, new haircut and in the finest suit his attorney could buy him.

a) I highly doubt they personally drove those vehicles from Detroit (or the one guy from Seattle) to Washington D.C.
b) If the electric concept car could DO the entire trip, well, what better sales pitch than THAT? But I highly doubt we're going to see that/be given the opportunity to buy it.

Hey idiots! We're not THAT stupid and we smell the PR stunt from a mile away. It would have been just a bit more believeable if you had all just bought coach tickets and flown TOGETHER from Detroit-Metro to Washington-Reagan.

I'm not without some compassion though. If I were the automotive industry, I'd be angry as hell.

The banking industry pulls the same crap and at TWENTY times the amount being sought, but Congress doesn't bat an eye. Why? Well, because plenty of Congress is to BLAME for the issues around de/regulation of the industry and they surely wouldn't want to have the fingers pointed back at them.

So Congress does the quick bait-and-switch and now beats up on the Big Three. The same Big Three who turned their production lines into war machines during WWI and WWII cranking out tanks and other vehicles needed for the cause. Why not take a moment to remember THAT eh?

This said, if the Automotive executives would just get out of their private jets every so often and mingle with the "great unwashed" Americans, maybe they'd get a better understanding why more of us now drive something made by a Japanese manufacturer instead of home-grown.

Maybe it's time for Joe the Plumber to talk to these guys? ;-p

02 December 2008

It's official, I'm a genuine public speaker

A couple months back, I was asked by the Great Lakes Chapter of the MRA to present at a joint conference in January. Bonus in that the conference at the Sundial Resort on Sanibel Island, Florida. Bummer that my wife and child cannot join me.

I've been kicking around the outline for the presentation for awhile and know that I have sufficient material to pull it together, but it really hit me today when I saw on the conference website my name and that I'm actually presenting.

I do a lot of self analysis when it comes to my presentation style and it's changed quite a bit over the last 8-10 years which is how long I've been presenting both internally and externally around MB/Kantar.

It's amazing really because in High School, I totally sucked at this and was a frightened little kitty. In college, things really changed. I "toughened up" if you will, when it comes to facing people and presenting information. Some of this can be attributed to a required speech class, but most of it is due to being in a Fraternity and being part of the Student Government at Marquette.

College really is a time that you "find" yourself and where reality hits you that if you don't seize the opportunities, there's plenty of other hungry mouths to gobble them up.

So, back to the analysis of presentation style. I used to move around a lot and sometimes walk to the side of the audience. This made it entertaining and demonstrated my passion for the subject, but one review I read said that they were getting dizzy watching me move back and forth.

So I moved to a more formal upfront speaking style but I still moved a bit as frankly I feel more comfortable doing it. I just don't run up the sides of the room. I usually inject humorous anecdotes, life experiences and real life work applications of the materials I'm covering. In fact, I use humor quite a bit as frankly, it makes people comfortable and it hopefully makes the presentation tolerable.

But for a conference, you are pretty limited to just speaking behind a podium. As you can see from the schedule (link above) I'm the meat of the day's presentation sandwich and that means I probably need to be pretty engaging. I will have a short video as part of my presentation which will be different and I believe it'll be decent material which dovetails nicely with the presentation right before me.

I guess the only question I have left is what to wear? I realize it's a professional conference and so jacket and tie are the norm, but seriously, it's on Sanibel Island. How can a hawaiian shirt NOT deliver some impact? At the same time, I represent our family of companies and that's just as important. I'll take the safe route and ask the conference sponsors, but it's going to be a fun event either way.

30 November 2008

Miscellaneous end of the month post...

It's that time of the month, err, well, that time where I just sort of blurt out random crap that's driving me nuts in some weird form of Internet therapy (who the hell would do that anyway??)
  • Nice game tonight Bears. Vegas had you finishing 8-8 and you're just dying to make them right. Charles "Peanut" Tillman, you're STILL horrible. All of the people who tell me different need to have their heads checked
  • We spent some $$ this week. Who says the economy is in a recession? They're quoting that Black Friday sales were up 7% this year on last. Is this just all of us trying to find a deal and then pinching back or are we all shop-a-holics who are trying to drown our misery in material things? New in our house is a Blu-Ray DVD player and a Wii. All nicely installed into our "man-cave" in the basement which isn't really a man-cave as it's a "MK-Duey Cave" We both love all the gadgets and games and of course, alcohol.
  • Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and I still love my turkey. Every year we vow to have more of it during the year and now that I brine them, I think that's an easy thing to do. Whipped up a batch of Turkey A La King tonight. Yumm-o (sorry Rachel Ray)
  • Another tree is cut, transported, "mounted" and decorated in the LoCicero household. Despite the rampant flu running through our house we still pulled out the ladders and decorated that 10 foot bad-boy today. I've come to accept that there's no perfect trees in the forest (or the nursery) and in some small sort of way they'll always be Charlie Brown trees that are just counting on us to make them beautiful. This is the biggest one yet and it's definitely coming down the day after Xmas this year. Last year I waited and it was a holy-hell mess.
  • This coming week is the boy's 1st Birthday. I can't believe how fast a year has gone. I'm sure I won't believe how fast the next 17 go either.
  • Watched a lot of High School Football this weekend. There's nothing like the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving in Illinois. I think the IHSA has done the right thing by going to an 8-class system. The games are more exciting and you can truly see the differences in talent, the bigger the schools are. Congrats to Immaculate Conception and St. Francis, two old "West Suburban Catholic Conference" foes who we (Benet Academy) usually beat easily 'back in the day'.
  • Today was the first snow in the area that "stuck" to the grass/ground. I guess it's finally here. So much for being able to wear nice shoes and shorts. Also makes walking the dog a pain in the arse.

That's it for November. Only 142 days to our Mediterranean Cruise leaving from Barcelona, Spain. Something warm to think of during these cold, dark months.

28 November 2008

Macy's Parade gets "Rick-Rolled"


This is classic. Laughed my arse off. For those of you who don't know what "rick-rolling" is, here's a link.

Sports traditions

Lots of discussion, both on tv and in my household, about how important professional sports traditions are and whether they should always continue. But when we all tried to continue to bring up examples of long-standing ones, we fell very short of well, a handful.

And it's the last one that has everyone talking. With Detroit having been miserable over the last 9 seasons, (40-100 as of 11/28/08) it's called into question whether these "traditions" should continue. During this same period the Lions are 2-7 on Thanksgiving Day.

Only the NBA has marquee games on a specific day (Christmas) and they usually pick the "hot" teams as it's the start of their network television coverage for the season (they are usually on cable up until that point).

But with this tradition, well, first of all it's over 70 years old. The Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving since 1934 (except '39-'44), but even before the Lions, there were teams since 1920 who played on this day. Also, the Lions are good for an occasional upset or two. Although I don't remember it, my Dad and Father-in-Law reminisced about how the unbeaten Packers marched in one Thanksgiving and how Bart Starr got his butt sacked a bunch of times and the Lions won.

So although I'm partly in the camp to dump the Lions, we'd have to dump the Cowboys too to be fair. When you get down to it, both the Lions and the Cowboys are roughly .500 ballclubs on this day and that's only because they play it every year, so either of them have their "moments", but it's only because the Matt Millen-era of the Lions has them in a 9-year slide that it's noticeable.

At the end of the day here, I think we just have to leave it to the Lions and Cowboys. a) Their fans are used to adjusting their feasting schedule to either the parking lots of their stadiums or in their own homes, b) it truly is one of the last long-standing traditions and c) for those not living in Detroit or Dallas, isn't it SUPPOSED TO BE just background noise while enjoying the company of your loved ones, chowing down, and starting of the holiday season?

I actually hate it when the Bears play in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day as it's hard to watch the game and well, not swear ;-p

26 November 2008

I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay

Time to pull out the big bow saw and sharpen the blades as hunting season is open and I gots to kill me a big ass Evergreen the day after Thanksgiving. (that's the first day of the season so don't be late!!)

This will be the fourth year of our trek out to Spring Bluff Nursery in nearby Sugar Grove. It's quite nice and it's going to be especially fun dragging Aidan out there for the first time. I can't wait to see his eyes when we get rolling out there.

What I love about it is that all trees are $40 no matter the size, shape, condition and they zip it into a mesh sort of bag and tie it to the roof of your favorite SUV (they actually tied it to the roof of my Camry when I had it). You first jump on the back of a hayride trailer and they bring you out to the portion of the nursery where they will let you cut. You then walk for awhile until you see "the tree" and then you go at it and hack it down. You drag it back to the main trail and then they whip it onto the back of the trailer and you head back to the main lot.

They have a continuous fire going and you can get hot chocolate and other goodies. Plus you can visit their little shed and buy live wreaths and other holiday-type things. Last year when MK was very pregnant, I took my Dad and he was amazed at the operation.

So this year, I'm going to stick to roughly a 8 footer. If we get bigger than that, it becomes onerous to decorate and we end up having problems. This year also, we have a much bigger and sturdier base for the tree. The last couple years as we've bought bigger and bigger trees, we've had a few incidents. Nothing like losing a few ornaments to a crash in the middle of the night.

Additionally Wrigley has been messing with the tree and chewing on it. DK how we're going to stop that this year but we'll also have a little boy who is going to want to pull on things. It's gonna be an interesting four weeks with that tree in our house.

25 November 2008

Allergy, is such a lonely word

Yesterday we took Aidan to an Allergy & Asthma specialist.

I'll say it again, but he's a real trooper. Originally they told us to prepare for 2 1/2 hours of tests (ugh) so we packed up a few toys, change of diapers, some food and headed out for the best.

We arrived to a room packed full of kids. How is it that schools now close the entire week of Thanksgiving? I do NOT remember that happening when I was little. Anyway, we checked in and sat for awhile. Aidan is hilarious in that he really gets a kick out of watching other kids. He just observes them to see what they are doing and smiles and waves at them.

We were called in and met with Dr. Abraham and he explained that the first test is a 'scratch' test where they basically lightly scratch his skin and put 16 different samples on his back. Then we have to wait 15 minutes to see if there's a reaction to any of them. Aidan was pretty good, he didn't flinch one bit and just sort of sat there. We played for awhile as it's important for no one to touch or scratch the samples.

He had a reaction to about 6 or 7 of them and I think that had me worried as well, that's a sign that there was a reaction. After the nurse consulted with the Doctor, he only wanted to further test for 3 specific allergans. This test also lasts 15 minutes but is a tiny shot just under the skin and on the arm. Again, if there's a reaction then maybe there's some additional tests. He took those shots and never flinched ONCE!! He's really an amazing kid.

He had no reaction to those three and the nurse said that we were all done (so much for the 2.5 hours??) and that the Doctor would be in shortly to talk to us.

So it ends up that he's allergic (mildly) to Ragweed, Bermuda grass (so much for his golf game), Box elder trees (??) and, sad to say for several of our friends, cats! (sorry Val, Romy, Donna & Bill, and MB). He's going to be on a mild course of Singulair which is only a preventative and we'll have to watch him the rest of his youthful years. It's possible to grow out of these, but one never knows.

The biggest thing we were worried about though was allergies to dogs. He loves Wrigley with all of his might and they have quickly become the best of friends in their short lives. If we had to get rid of Wrigley, well, that would be a serious downer in the household, but one we'd have to make the decision on for the health of our little guy.

24 November 2008

How's your bird?

Again this year, we're hosting Thanksgiving.

I love this particular holiday as I fancy myself quite the cook and I annually get raves about my brined turkey. It's actually a pretty easy holiday in that it's only there to eat and there's no worries about gifts or having to be in multiple locations.

Thanksgiving for us has been the bringing together of the two sets of in-laws and it's a really nice night. We get to fancy up the dining room (we only use it for T-give and maybe a few other limited events), pull out the china and the Waterford and act like big-time adults.

This year, of course, we have a special guest in a high chair who gets to be at his first. The "year of firsts" is quickly coming to an end and its like it just STARTED. We know he likes chicken and turkey already so I'm sure he'll have fun.

So back to my brining. It really means that I start working on Tuesday night. After getting all of the ingredients into a pot, you need to bring it to a rolling boil and then put it into the fridge to cool off. Then, 24 hours prior to when you're going to start cooking the bird, you have to put the bird into the brine and back into the fridge. What this does is infuse the bird with some salt and other aromatics and after it's done cooking, it retains a lot of juiciness and flavor.

I think the only change this year is that we're going for a bigger bird (23 pounder). We really didn't have that much leftover last year and that's one of our favorite things. Turkey sammies the day after are boss and I might even want to try my hand at making some Turkey a la King. So upward and onward to a bigga bird.

23 November 2008

Cheap gas again

I filled up for $1.349/gallon tonight. No, I'm not in Saudi Arabia at the moment, but I AM the proud holder of a Speedy Rewards card for a regional gas chain in the midwest called Speedway. Let me explain.

You get Speedy points for every gallon you buy at Speedway but, and this is where it adds up, you also get 40 points a dollar if you use the Chase Platinum Speedway Master Card, which I have. So this past summer when I was pumping $65 at a fill-up, the points were cranking and adding up.

One of the rewards you can cash out points on is $0.50 off per gallon up to 25 gallons. It takes 8750 points. I'm currently up around 125,000 points. Additionally, if you use the Chase PSMC you get automatic $0.05 off per gallon up to 20 gallons. So $0.55 off tonight from the "list price" of $1.899/gallon.

I can't believe I filled up for $26 tonight (20 full gallons). Even without the discounts the current price is pretty sweet.

22 November 2008

The pressure of the FIRST Birthday

I don't know. In 1967, it had to be the easiest damn thing in the world. Your kid was turning one, you had over the families, Mom made the main course, the Grandma's brought the sides and there was "the cake". Such was my first birthday, celebrated at 1133 N. Massasoit Ave.

Nowadays it's like you have to plan the biggest damn fiesta in the world AND have "gift bags" for the guests to take home. I've had people ask me if we're having the big bouncy things or clowns or if it's being professionally catered.

So for at least year ONE, we're just keeping it simple stupid. Inviting family and some close friends, who admittedly, we need to spend more time with in 2009. Portillo's beef, Brown's chicken, a few sides from the Grandma's and we'll get the macked out cake, cuz we love cake in this household.

I guess moving forward, we'll just have to see. With his birthday being in December, there's likely never going to be big bouncy things in my backyard but we'll just have to do that stuff outside of the house. It's going to be a lot of fun and it's the people you're with that truly make it a special event. What IS going to be a little odd is that I'm just not used to parties going from 2:30 to 7:30 or so. But I'm sure after Mr. Aidan gets his butt off to sleep there'll still be a few adult cocktails to be had.

20 November 2008

It's winter, so it must be time to talk about.... the Cubs!

With the 2008 post-season a miserable six-and-a-half weeks in the books, why not pick at the scabs a bit and feel a little pain.

Season ticket holders got a letter from Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney which spent 60% of the 2 pages talking about luncheons held with season ticket holders and a redesign of the cubs.com website area for season tickets holders.

Then a tiny little bit about how the "season was bittersweet" and how "Our disappointing performance in the playoffs continues to weigh heavily on all of us in the organization and fuels our efforts to improve the team this off-season"

He then goes on to bloat about Soto being named Rookie of the Year and Piniella, Manager of the Year. He closes by saying that "I also know this organization is on and upswing and we will win a World Championship for the greatest fans in baseball."

So there you have it, the classic magician's misdirection. "Lookie here, lookie here, slipped that by ya, lookie here, hey you're a great audience."
  • MLB doesn't really call it the "World Championship" so I'm glad you're guaranteeing it (only guys to truly pull that sort of promise off was Muhammad Ali and Joe Namath), but it would be nice, Mr. Chairman, that you called it the World Series.
  • However, I'm not a complete ass, the club is on an upswing, so I do agree with that.
  • Efforts to improve the team in the off season.....hmm. Don't know about that one YET. "Kid K" gets the boot after all these years which truly IS bittersweet because he did everything the club asked him to, including rehabbing his arm so that he could contribute coming out of the bullpen. But as with Prior, management's patience wore thin and for the second year in a row, a player who was the "ace of the staff" at one point is released.
  • They released him because they got Kevin Gregg from Florida. 7-8, 29 saves, 3.41 ERA last year in 72 appearances (18-21, 62, 4.00 in 6 seasons overall with the Angels and Marlins) Not sure here but we didn't trade much to get him. Interesting to get him when they are growing Samardzija and Hart. This does force Marmol to the closer role though. Just praying that his arm holds out.

I'm honestly not sure what the Cubs could do to improve other than show up in the post-season. Their 97 wins this year were the most by a Cubs team in 63 years!!

Lastly, with the SEC going after Mark Cuban, it's very possible that even if he were to blow the doors off that last round of bidding (all final bids due by December 1st per MLB), would the other owners really approve him? He's already hated by the majority of NBA owners, and that club is as tight with MLB/NHL owners as anyone, so his reputation will precede him. Add now that he could be put in jail for a year (a la Martha Stewart) and well, they don't need any other reasons to reject him. This will be a sad day if he doesn't take over the Cubs as we'll get another set of unknown white collar robbery artists who are in this just to milk the money and not for the "fun" of just winning.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that Sam Zell is just the greediest son-of-a-bitch alive and will tell the other owners that they BETTER approve a sale to Cuban or else he'll make their lives a living hell. That would be his BEST parting shot.

18 November 2008

My little hero

So these are the days that really make your heart ache when it comes to children.

Aidan had a bout with, well, let's call them the 'squirts' on the weekend. We switched up his diet, made sure he stayed hydrated and by Sunday it seemed that he was fine. Add to this lovely thing the fact that he's had a cold and was congested and was constantly coughing, it was quite the weekend for him.

So yesterday after he woke up and downed his bottle of formula, we got dressed and went to school. When I dropped him off I talked the staff through what happened on the weekend and what sort of diet we wanted him on for at least the first two days of this week. He was happy and glad to be back to school. He was back to normal. Or so we thought...

Around 2:10, I got a call from the Director, Linda that Aidan was inconsolable. He just wanted to be held and never let down. When they tried to lay him down, he cried and after every time he coughed, he cried. Add to this, that the 'squirts' were back and with a vengence.

My Lord, what was my son going through? I thought we had it licked but maybe all of the coughing from the weekend hurt his throat or even his ribs? I mean, if Sammy Sosa can throw out his back when sneezing, well, surely Aidan can hurt his ribs from coughing non-stop.

I got to the school and he seemed happy to see me but he looked like absolute Hell. I hadn't seen him this bad EVER in his 11.5 months and the look of desperation on his face was gut-wrenching. He was in this stasis where he just looked like he wanted to be put out of his misery.

We got home and I knew that I had to get him to get to sleep so that his little body could just rest for awhile. I took his temp and it was 101.4, so I shot him a dose of Children's Tylenol and he seemed more than happy to take it. So we got down to a diaper and t-shirt and I rocked him for 20 minutes. He fell asleep in my arms.

I got him into the crib and immediately called the Doctor and asked for an emergency appointment and unfortunately I got the last one of the day which was 7:30pm (which honestly is GREAT that they stay open that late). He slept for about 2.5 hours and then woke up. I brought him downstairs and we played a little game where Daddy cuts up a banana and we played the sharing game (giving pieces to each other to eat). He seemed happy with it, but he clearly was off kilter.

We got to the Doctors office and met Mommy there. He had lost a pound through all of this which is 1/20th of his weight, so that's kind of scary. After a quick exam, we found out he had hit the child sickness lottery. Here's what he has:
  • double ear infections
  • double eye infections (conjunctivitis)
  • flu with bad congestion
  • and well, still the squirts

He won "sickest kid of the day" for the office, which, being the last appointment meant he was the ultimate "river card".

So three prescriptions: Antibiotics for the ear infection, medicated drops for the eye infection, nebulizer breathing treatment for the congestion and coughs and continued fluids and bland foods diet for the squirts. Thank GOD for insurance.

Anyone who says that having insurance, free, for every child in America is a waste or socialist behavior should just piss off and die. This stuff would have cost us a FORTUNE or we would have tried to find some sort of community health care area where we might have gotten generics, etc. I'm sorry, but if we cannot do this for our own country but we can do it for Iraq, etc., than our priorities are totally bass ackwards in this country. Or just take $4 billion from the $700 billion we're using to bail out the banks (and possibly Automakers).

Anyway, we got home and got him dosed up and it's almost like he knew "help is on the way" as he started smiling and laughing and getting back to the little guy we know. At this moment, he's slept for about 6 hours through the night and is likely feeling better.

Sorry for being totally self-indulgent, but hey, it's MY blog and I'll do with it as I want.

10 November 2008

Now that it's calmed down a bit

Six days post election craziness and things are starting to calm down a bit, until Barack visits the White House this week. Imagine THAT awkward meeting of Bush and Obama.

Things that have imbedded themselves in my head from the night of November 4th, 2008:
  • Barack is going to be the 44th President. I'm not one that's huge into numerology, but 4-4 is the day MLK was shot, but 44 is also Hank Aaron's number who was the first man of color to break Babe Ruth's Home Run record.
  • The looks on the McCain supporters faces at the Biltmore in Phoenix when every news agency declared Obama the winner at 10:00pm CST. It's admirable to support your candidate and feel down that they have lost, but some of those people had such a look of disbelief that I have to wonder what campaign season they were watching.
  • McCain delivered a classy concession speech, but as with all politicians, I have to wonder how sincere it was given the day before, he was still talking crap about Obama. I guess Hilary did the same thing. I know it's part of the game, but these guys should think about how it all sounds given what they said during the election.
  • Who really gives a crap WHO Oprah was leaning on in Grant Park? Sure, I was curious too, but I didn't go on a national search for that liver-lipped guy. One thing for sure, it wasn't Steadman who was looming large behind her and Gayle.
  • Jesse Jackson crying. I'm not a big fan of his, but given he was with MLK when he was shot and that Jesse was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, the waves of emotions that had to be running through him are unmatched by just about everyone in America. I do wonder though, what the relationship is like between he and his son. Given Jesse's slamming of Barack when he thought he was off-mic and Jesse Jr.'s reaction, I'm sure there's some hurt feelings. Also Jesse Jr's wife was a huge Hilary supporter. Man, talk about a house divided.
  • The view of Grant Park. I remember walking Wrigley right before Barack came out for his acceptance speech. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and I could see hundreds of stars. Even with the city lights, the skyline with the hundreds of thousands of people, under the stars, on the lakefront had to be a magical place and moment, and the world's press was there to show it and record it for history. For Mayor Daley and his family it had to almost be a sort of exorcism as just 40 years prior, Grant Park was the scene of the riots during the Democratic convention.

It sure is going to be an interesting next 4 years. I do fear that the expectations are SO high, that neither Obama nor McCain could probably live up to them. We're a country in deep financial trouble and in a war that seems to extend across two countries (Iraq and Afghanistan), so I have no idea how anyone rights that ship in less than 4 years. But for some small glimmering moment, the world has smiled on us, and we're off on a new adventure to try to fix the giant mess we are in.

I do believe that Obama will continue to be the person that got him here. If he's honest with the people and pushes every single person who will work in his administration to make each and every day their best, I think we will be in a much better place in 4 years time.

04 November 2008

Proudest moments as parents (they start)

Last night was our first parent-teacher conference. Yes, they actually do them for all children at The Goddard School, no matter their age.

We got there and met up with Miss Leah and she showed us Aidan's personal binder that she's been keeping on him. They start a binder when the child starts and it follows them all throughout their stay (until age 6) and it's where they document developmental steps for the child. There were comments in there for when they saw him first roll over, first pull himself up and other "precious moments" that you come to love and cherish as a parent.

Then she got into her report. It was very moving to see her hold back her own tears and emotion. She/They really loves Aidan and just predicts very big things for him. It was so very moving to see how these teachers work with our kids and how they have invested in them and their futures to ensure that they succeed in whatever they do. In her report we learned some NEW things that we didn't even know about Aidan.

She said that when the paints come out, that Aidan gets really really excited for artwork time. This totally blew us away because we haven't provided him crayons or other things yet, but Mary Kay is an artist and a damn good one. At almost 11 months, Aidan is exhibiting something that we didn't TEACH him, but that is in his genes. Mary Kay almost lost it at this point.

We found out that he loves bugs (well, that's ONE of us) and that when they had a bit of a cricket problem, he'd crawl over to them and touch them and then try to squish them. Any bugs! She said that when they go outside in the grass that he's always looking for them.

We were also told that he loves the outside (that's good as we do too) and that he's just learning the word "no" (yes, we know that as we've been having some struggles with him about that.) Lastly that he gets very upset when he can't accomplish something. We've seen this at home and he gets this very unique look on his face when he can't figure something out or can't get something to work how he thinks it should work. It's sort of cute, but we do feel for him. He's a very curious boy and has to pull things apart to see what they are made of.

So then the things that also make you cry came up. We talked about next steps for him as at 15 months he "graduates" to the next classroom, "First Steps". We found out that they actually do a two-week transition with the children starting out with 1-2 hours in the new room and the rest in the current and then slowly increasing until they are spending the full day in that room.

They go from sleeping in cribs to sleeping on a cot, so that'll be a big change for Aidan, one I see him struggling with for now, but he'll get used to it because it's what all the other kids do. They all take their naps at the same time (as opposed to the Infant Room) and they have more structured mealtimes as well.

So our little man is growing up and quickly. It's not a surprise, but it sure does take you back for a moment.

02 November 2008

DST - Just to make adults happy?

So we all "fell back" and turned our clocks back an hour this morning (there was no way in hell I was going to wake up at 2:00 a.m. to do that) and most of the US is back on Standard Time.

Except for babies and animals.

Aidan normally wakes up at 6:30 a.m. and Wrigley about 30 minutes prior. So this morning at 5:00 (on the "new" time) Wrigley was punching her nose into my arm and hand because it was time to go for a walk. I sort of felt sorry for her because frankly, she can't read clocks and well, when nature calls, the Golden Retriever must answer.

So after our walk this morning, and thank the good Lord that the weather was sort of nice, we came in and I put her food down (normal routine) and she wolfed it down like it was her last meal. I was so surprised that I almost didn't know what to say until I heard the baby monitor and Mr. Aidan was waking up....at 5:30!! You gotta be kidding me?

Aidan actually sort of runs on "light" time as in, if there's light out, he's up, if its dark, he's asleep. If you think about it, that's pretty much like the cavemen used to do it before they invented fire. And THAT'S the key here. We do all of this gyration about time supposedly for "farmers" originally so that they could still have more daylight during harvest and then it was for energy conservation and now, well, now, it''s just for our emotional well-being.

But we're conditioned to this, it's not inherently hardwired in our brains. Oh well, all I know is that sunset was at 4:44 p.m. and that means that before I leave work tomorrow, it'll be dark out. Just disgusting.

31 October 2008

For those of us who rock... (long post warning!)

Last night kicked my ass pretty hard. As previously posted, I went to see AC/DC last night at the Allstate Arena (still a shit-hole, tin box) with Dan "the man" Schramer.

The Answer opened up for the boyzz and actually weren't too bad, but I have to apologize to the band, I didn't bother to go to my seats to watch you, but I could hear you. Let's face it, it really WAS more important for me to down my 3, $8 Stella Artois' before seeing the big show.

Look I'm NOT a fuddy-duddy, but holy christ, can these concert venues become any bigger whores knowing that you're a trapped, willing participant? $4 crappy hotdogs, $5.50 small slices of pizza and $7.50 Bud/Light's and $8 "premium" beers? All of this on top of $20 parking! Yeah, the Economy sucks right now, what a load of crap!

What pounding my beers DID allow me to do was to bathe in the pure joy of people watching which was just the real show-before-the-show.

Holy Lord, you know the guy who sat next to you in biology class, you know, the burnout with the long straggly dirty blonde hair, black concert t-shirt, jean/leather jacket, ripped jeans and 5,000 mile stare? Well, he was there last night and he hasn't changed one iota in 30 years!

Also, the chick who used to wear the slutty clothes and pop her gum? She showed up too and has put on a few lb's, still trying to squeeze into a short skirt, jean jacket and shirt that showed some assets. She looked like a sausage that was on the grill and just ready to burst out of the casing.

The "youth" were there too, trying to look like they grew up in the 70's, acting all "the fool". It was just a load of fun watching everyone trying to fit in and enjoy the evening.

So the show finally starts with a classic cartoon video of Angus shoveling coal into a speeding train. Two vixens break their way onto the engine and tie him up (after sexually teasing the crap out of him) and take over in order to crash the train into the station and creating havoc. They jump off the train and Angus breaks free only to stop the train just in time but not before it crashes through the video screen. A massive AC/DC train (hollywood set type) blows through with flames shooting out, smoke, loud noise atop double rows of Marshall stacked amps, and then the boyzz hit the stage with Rock 'n Roll Train. Well, hell, why am I trying to tell you about it, when I some wonderful person posted it on the 'Tube from their tour opener two nights prior in PA.


Angus all decked in his schoolboy uniform, Brian Johnson in his sleeveless vest and trademark flat cap, Malcolm with his gravel-sounding voice, Phil Rudd banging the skins, and Cliff Williams fingering his bass.

From there, it was just a ride through the years of AC/DC anthem rock with just a smattering of the new stuff. Here's the set-list:

1. Rock 'N Roll Train
2. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be
3. Back In Black
4. Big Jack
5. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
6. Thunderstruck
7. Black Ice
8. The Jack
9. Hells Bells
10. War Machine
11. Shoot to Thrill
12. Anything Goes
13. You Shook Me All Night Long
14. TNT
15. Whole Lotta Rosie
16. Let There Be Rock

Encore:
17. Highway To Hell
18. For Those About To Rock

Let's face it, there's not much more I can tell you about the show if you're a fan. AC/DC has not changed, nor should they, and they know exactly what to deliver to their fanbase. Why f*** with success? Angus is the never stopping, always running, sweat-dripping lead guitarist who delivers each and every night of his life. Even at 53 years of age, it's what he's always wanted to do with his life and with his brother by his side.

Here's a few more videos from the evening and OH, that's the only thing that let me know I've been wayyyyyyy out of the concert scene for a long time now. You can bring cameras into the shows and take pix and video. Had I known, MK's would have disappeared off the counter.



29 October 2008

First Halloweens

This week is Aidan's first Halloween. Unfortunately at almost 11 months, I think he'll have fun in his costume and seeing other kids in his costume, but he won't know what it's all about.

One thing he did learn about tonight was carving the pumpkins that we bought a few weeks ago. It SO brought me back to my childhood. But it made me realize what a pain in the arse it is to carve a HUGE one that's really thick. (keep your dirty minds to yourselves)

I had to do the carving on three pumpkins (to be honest, my first ones ever in 42 years of life); one for Aidan, one for MK and I and one for Wrigley, our beloved Golden Retriever. I have to fess up that my damn forearm is tired. We bought the special pumpkin carving tools, which I've now found out have the life expectancy of about 2 1/2 pumpkins, but they really worked well. I had to be careful with Aidan's (his was last) so that the tiny little saw didn't snap off. But because they are tiny, you need to do a lot of "sawing" and turning and well, it's best to say I was well over my pitch count.

I remembered to spread out newspaper on the kitchen table to catch all of the guts and any other spillage. I also remembered to put a notch-mark on the top so that I could line up the cap to the pumpkin again.

I tried to make Wrigley's look like a dog (it's sort of a dog), MK's and mine is a ghost and Aidan's is just your typical pumpkin look. Since Aidan now has 5 teeth (almost 6) in his mouth, I gave the pumpkin a few teeth, so he and the pumpkin have something to bond about. Here's a nice "spooky" picture with them lit up.

So Aidan and my first carvings were a hit with MK and Wrigley. Success at these little things I'll be doing for years. It's nights like these that make any horrible days one could have a distant memory.

27 October 2008

The FA Cup, First Round "Proper"

With its victory over Maidstone United in front of 1719 away fans of the Dons, AFC Wimbledon have qualified for the First Round Proper of The FA Cup, the worlds oldest and biggest of competitions.

Like a little school boy with his ear to the radio, but since it's 2008, me, with my ear to my laptop on the Internet, we found out that we'll be up against Wycombe Wanderers who are currently top of the table of League Two and without a loss on the season.

The GOOD news is that they have to come to "the meadow of Kings", The Fans' Stadium to play us.

Thanks to WDON for illegally "simulcasting" the ITV show via the 'net along with a little commentary.

So this is big news and we were mentioned several times on the broadcast for our achievements. Big enough that we'll be a match shown on Setanta, on November 10th, 2008.
"The FA Cup 1st round tie against Wycombe Wanderers will be played at the
Cherry Red Records Fans' Stadium - Kingsmeadow on Monday 10 November kick off 7.45 pm and will be televised live on Setanta Sports 1."

Stay tuned...

26 October 2008

Hey, Whaa??? I thought my son was an original!

Damn Google Alerts and all that they stand for!

So in my alerts yesterday popped up that some 4-year old little boy in Tampa, Florida had fun sitting in a parked ambulance at some Safety Day.

His name? Yep, you got it, Aidan LoCicero!

First, our Aidan is born and like 5 days later we find out that Aiden/Aidan/Ayden is one of the top 5 popular names of 2007 (behind Jayden) and now THIS!

Okay, so this Tampa Aidan had the name first (and is a LoCicero, so he's gotta be a very cool kid with cool parents), but I guess we just hope as parents that we give our kids a certain bit of uniqueness that they can carry throughout their life. Well, at least I registered AidanLoCicero.com while ours was still in the womb, so I got that going for me, which is nice.
I'm sure my wife will remind me that she liked Colin as a name. (I bought that domain at one point as well but it's available again if any Colin LoCicero's want it)
Which reminds me that I've seen/met at least 3 other Brian LoCicero's on the interwebs as well. I can imagine all of the Italian Grandparents who cringed at those Irish names when we were all born!!

25 October 2008

Burger King Must Die!

Much like the movies:
So I say, BK Must Die.

Since 2004 when they started massive franchise closings, the service at the remaining BK's has just fallen off the face of the Earth. It's like the franchise owners are just saying, "close me next".

Not only is it now costing a fortune just to drive to find one, but once you get there, you wait in drive-thru for what seems like hours. I've had three recent experiences (and many others over the last four years) that really have driven this point home.
  • Granger, Indiana: Early afternoon, non-peak. Was 5th car in line in drive-thru. Ordered and just sat in drive-thru as it took them about 4-5 minutes for each car to deliver the order.
  • Matteson, Illinois: Post-dinner rush. Waited almost 8 minutes to place order. Two cars behind me when I was one car away from the order board, pulled out of line and out of the parking lot. Took almost 10 more minutes from ordering to getting our food
  • Canoe Creek Service Plaza on the Florida Turnpike: Always busy but with Popeye's closed for business in the plaza, it's the only full-service dining option. Waited for almost 15 minutes to place order. Took another 5 to get it. Guy behind me even joked that Popeye's is missin' out on a ton of money tonight.

What's disturbing is that these are all happening during NON-peak time. In fact, they are happening when they should be at their fastest since there's no pressure to make 200 orders "My way". I can understand the occasional slip by a QSR (Quick Serve Restaurant) on having an off day but they are happening way too frequently and sequentially for me to consider BK as a "first choice" when usually they are close enough to other choices from here on out.

I used to LOVE BK because I didn't have to wait to get my special order (I like most burgers plain except for cheese) but now they've truly become just a "royal" pain in my ass. They should stop trying to be cute with their TV ads (kill the King) and stick to fixing their business.

23 October 2008

I am NOT Joe the Plumber

..and neither is Joe the Plumber. According to FactCheck.org he made roughly $50K last year and his comments about owning a small business is that he was LOOKING at buying a business worth $250,000, not that he owns one.

It doesn't mean the business would be generating $250,000 in personal income for Joe, it's the pricetag he'd buy it for (which would likely include assets and other fine things). So based on this information, no matter how you'd slice it, he'd get a refund under the Obama tax plan if it were passed.

So now the RNC comes forth with a "I am Joe the Plumber" commercial with a lot of white faces in it. Well, if they are all truly Joe the Plumber than they'd all be getting back refunds. If they are small business owners making over $250K in personal income than it's amazing how quickly the RNC found what ends up being a relatively small percentage of the US Population!!

22 October 2008

Eagle Eye - Spoiler Alerts if you read

MK and I snuck away from the house on Tuesday while Aidan was sleeping and could be watched by my folks to see Eagle Eye at the movies.

Shia LeBeouf and Michelle Monaghan star in this non-stop action thriller which was actually pretty good. After they both receive mystery calls from a woman forcing them to do increasingly more dangerous things, they are brought together for some reason to complete the mission being thrust upon them by what ends up being a super computer in "beta" test out of the Department of Defense in Washington D.C.

If you can suspend reality enough to allow that some huge computer is monitoring EVERYTHING on the planet (controlling stop lights, monitoring cell phones, running security systems, etc.) than this is quite the fascinating movie.

You also find out that Shia's twin brother (who he plays) was a good Marine trying to kill off the computer before it got out of control. Fun little roles by Billy Bob Thornton and Michael Chiklis along with Rosario Dawson.

This is a good quicker take on the 2001: Space Odyssey conundrum where computers take over and get personalities of their own as it runs just under 2 hours. About 1/3 of the movie was shot in Chicago which also made it nice for us to watch.

It's worth the price of admission and I'm glad I saw it on the big screen versus waiting until my smaller but still big screen of my 47" in the basement of my house.

Politics around the family

I've known since the first day I met my (then) future in-laws that I would never engage them in discussing politics. Let's face it they are very Republican and I'm socially a Democrat and financially a Moderate. I have a FOID and own guns, am not a big fan of Unions, believe in balanced budgets and no pork but also believe that we need many form of help at HOME first before shipping Billions of our tax dollars to every Tom, Dick and Sadam around the world. So it's not wise when both people are deeply entrenched in their beliefs because frankly, neither is going to change their minds and both might get angry with each other.

But I didn't think there'd come a day when I'd be in constant fights with my Dad about politics. For the most part, my Dad has been a life-long Democrat, although leaning to the right side of the party. Lately though, we fight about politics all of the time and I don't like it at all because they aren't intelligent or "friendly" fights.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm just too goddamn busy to read up on every single topic or to watch enough Sunday morning shows to follow what the latest line of crap politicians from both sides are selling the American people, but for the past 5-6 years now, my Dad almost always has on Fox News Channel and watches Bill O'Reilly avidly.

What used to be relatively decent conversations that didn't escalate into yelling have radically changed with my Dad yelling out "buzzwords" he's having drilled into his head by the GOP's TV Channel. He knows plenty about the topic but he won't admit that what he knows he only knows from Fox.

I think what started his more aggressive behavior towards me about politics is when he found out I had contributed $50 to the Kerry campaign back in 2004. He was really pissed off that I gave ANY money to ANY candidate so I think that's where this all came about.

So it's with much fervor that I'm now a huge fan of the Fact Check website. This will help compliment and call out the b.s. that I'm hearing and let me know what b.s. the Dems are spouting at the same time.

Last week my Dad was almost ballistic about Obama's ties to A.C.O.R.N. and even chided McClain for ignoring this saying that someone at one of his rallies was yelling out "ACORN ACORN" while he was speaking. There's a reason that ACORN hasn't been made a HUGE issue with respect to Obama by McCain and that's made clear on the Fact Check website. Although Obama HAS done work for ACORN, the lies and rumors that Fox News Channel has been spewing have been mostly a whisper campaign stretching the truth.

I actually give McCain credit for not falling into this trap, for it was HE who was a horrible victim of a whisper campaign from his OWN PARTY in the 2000 primaries courtesy of Karl Rove.

As for the link with the "domestic terrorist" Bill Ayers, no one on the Republican side will say out loud that the committee that Obama and Ayers were on, was one organized and RUN by former Illinois Governor, Jim Thompson (R-IL). If Ayers was so radical, why then did Big Jim bring him on the committee???

So you can find out a lot by finding a reliable, impartial website. It's why I encourage all of my friends to use Snopes when they get forwarded horrible chain mails that make scurrilous claims about anything. I've now mentioned the Fact Check site to my Dad several times although not directly and I doubt he'll go to it. I just get concerned that I see him believing and then repeating things coming out of that channel so much. I get more concerned when he truly believes that all network TV are Democrats and advance their agenda in everything they do and that someone is trying to "steal" an election. He claimed that the town hall debate was done to make McCain look bad on his supposed "favorite" style of debating because Tom Brokaw and NBC were behind it.

I also get concerned when he thinks a few Democratic Senators are primarily to blame for the current economic woes because they supported some deregulation of banking. The Economy is just too big and complex of a thing for any small group of people to influence.

Dad, please don't become that "old curmudgeon" type guy that lives in Florida and please start checking some of the "facts" that you are hearing. No matter WHAT they say, it's not always "Fair and Balanced" on that channel.

20 October 2008

Weird sports wrap-up

It's Sunday Night Sports Wrap from your good ol' Uncle Duey:
  • Tampa Bay is in the World Series. Cub fans, can it hurt any more than this?
  • Rollie Massimino is coaching the Northwoods University Seahawks (NAIA) out of West Palm Beach, Florida. 23 years after winning a National Championship and he's coaching a team that will never play on TV!!??
  • Dallas lost to St. Louis. We all wait for T.O. to implode yet again
  • MLB Players Union wants to sue baseball for collusion against Barry Bonds. Let's see, a highly attitudinal head case, being investigated for steriod abuse and definitely perjury, who could go to jail at any time. Yeah, that's a great idea to sign him and use some of your salary cap. It's not collusion, it's good business sense
  • Thanks to the sh*tty economy, the Cubs may NOT be sold during the offseason. Cub fans, can it hurt any more than this?
  • San Diego and New Orleans play in London next week. Honestly, do the English people really want this going on? Methinks the NFL's publicity group has lost their minds. What is it with the desire to send our over-bloated sports abroad? NBA was just in China. Other than Yao Ming, is there really other Chinese superstars playing right now?
  • Joba Chamberlain got a DUI on the weekend. Do the Yankees just HAVE to make sure they're grabbing headlines when they AREN'T in the post season?
  • Milwaukee is going to offer Sabathia a contract. Jake Peavey originally had the Cubs in his sights (on his way out the door from San Diego) but looks like he's going to sign for Houston. Cub fans, can it hurt any more than this?
  • BCS Rankings came out. Was this a tough one to call, really?
  • Is there anyboy better than Jimmy Johnson at the moment? The dude just seems to have it year after year lately.
  • Really bad football played today: Oakland/Jets, Redskins/Browns
  • Who the hell knew the Chicago Bears could even SCORE 48 points in one game?
  • Boston Red Sox fans, you've become spoiled whiners. No matter HOW bad it gets at Wrigley during the playoffs we never leave early. You should be ashamed of yourselves for Game 5 and I'm sure you'll all sit there and swear on your Yaztremski signed baseballs that you "stayed". You're only 2 more seasons away from being typical Braves fans (as in Atlanta). After 86 years of horrible baseball you've been treated to pure joy and excitement that we, on the Northside of Chicago haven't had now for over 100. Suck it up you morons and stop whining!
  • Lastly, Lewis Hamilton looks as if he's on his way to his first F1 Championship. He should have had it last year, but he lost his brains along the last couple of races and made rediculous rookie mistakes. His win in China gave him a 7 point lead going into the last race in Brazil on November 2nd. Barring some massive engine failure and Felipe Massa finishing 3rd or worse, he sets out on a career that could eclipse that of Michael Schumacher. I'll be watching to say "I saw it" when it happens.

Only 4 more full days in Florida before hitting the road for the drive home. I'm starting to get so relaxed that I almost forget what it's like to be at work. I'm sure that'll all crash itself home on Monday the 27th.

18 October 2008

In a world of disconnectivity

I am almost always aware when I'm not connected. With a CrackBerry on my hip most of the time, you become keenly aware of when you don't have a signal. Without a signal you don't get email and you can't surf the web.

So it's only been by staying with my parents in Florida that I've come to appreciate how much connectivity I have in life. My dad is still waiting for high-speed down here. He placed the order probably two months ago and now, but because they'll be coming back North for Thanksgiving, he's decided to put a hold on the order until they return in January.

So all of us (my Dad included) have been relegated to trying to steal his neighbors unprotected high-speed access. It was working fine for the first couple of days but over the last few, it's become very dodgy and in fact, last night it was miserable.

So here I sit at the Martin County Public Library having my fun at a very high speed and trying to get everything done in a short period of time because frankly, who the hell wants to sit in a Library in Florida on a Saturday morning?

I guess the next time I want to bitch out AT&T for some slow speeds around the house or some downtime with the signal, I should just be happy that for the most part it's 99% reliable.

16 October 2008

Lock, Stock and two self-absorbed idiots

Madonna & Guy Ritchie have separated.

Good on ya' Guy, move along now, 50-year old nutjob leaving England and your life.

Look, almost everyone knows I'm voting Obama, but we don't need THIS kind of help (this is what happened at the 10/15/08 concert in Boston).

Stating that she had been told not to mention Alaska Governor Sarah Palin,
whom she has badmouthed during prior tour dates, Madonna avoided any further
commentary on the Republican vice presidential candidate.

Instead, she simply urged her audience to make their voices heard in
the upcoming election, saying, "I hope you f---ers are registered to
vote."

"Take some responsibility for your f---ing country," she said, adding,
"Just vote for Obama!"

To further her point, she showed the infamous video montage in which an image of
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain was interspersed with clips of
Hitler and other dictators, while Democratic nominee Barack Obama was aligned
with Ghandi.

"Tick-tock, tick-tock," the singer intoned repeatedly, as she implored
her audience to "save the world."

Look, I'm not a big McCain fan, but he's far from Hitler. She's so far out of bounds that every referee would throw a flag for that late hit. Obama isn't going to save the world, no US President can/could do that. We just need someone who is going to look internally here and help solve some of the issues.

15 October 2008

Latent childhood memories

For the last two days I've been trying to remember what it was like to learn how to swim. Unfortunately the memories aren't pleasant.

I remember the Central Y.M.C.A (Chicago) where there was an evil woman who would take a large pole (used to help save the drowning kids) and whack my hands as I'd reach for the side of the pool. I guess that's one way of keeping a 5 year-old in the pool (especially a chubby one like me).

I keep thinking about this because we've had Aidan in the pool for both days and he has just been the happiest kid alive in the water. Here's just a taste of him enjoying some splashy splashy.



It's days like this that just make me the happiest person alive. You can bet your bottom dollar that I'm not going to let some crazy woman hit his hands with a pole. Then again, if he's anything like me, he's going to be a swimmer and won't ever have to take "lessons".

14 October 2008

You KNOW you're in Florida...

  • Dark socks and sandals around the pool - required when over 60
  • Coochie-length shorts on women that shouldn't wear them
  • You hear a woman (wearing those coochie-length shorts) yell to her kid "Sage, get over here now" and Sage is a 12 year old white kid with corn-rows in his blonde hair
  • BOGO dinner specials from 4:00-6:00pm (first definition on the link)
  • Local news leads are always some fantastic car/motorcycle incident
  • McCain*Palin signs are everywhere inside gated communities
  • Weather is always the second lead story on the local news (it's still 'cane season)
  • You're seeing loads of Presidential Political Ads (just don't get them in Chicago as the GOP has given up on Illinois and won't waste coin)
  • 3 weeks prior to the Election and a local politician is in a sex scandal
  • It rains through the nights
  • You have slight-to-moderate sunburn after one day in 87 degree sun
  • Gekkos are on the patio screen

13 October 2008

We made it and with all of our teeth!

As we drove across America this past weekend on our way to Florida, it just really doesn't surprise me why our country is the way it is. Five states, 1400 miles, 21 hours and I have to say that in some parts, I was actually concerned for the safety of my family.

Roads, the infrastructure, actually are really good. However the endless fast food stops and kitschy crap stores that line our highways would have people from outside of our nations' borders thinking that we've lost our minds.

On one stop, we pulled into the gas station and all of the employees were outside sitting in cars smoking cigs. I went in and went to the bathroom and then came out and bought 2 diet cokes. I stood at the counter until one of our bluetooth wearing friends got his arse out of the car and came in to check me out. They ALL had bluetooth sets on. Hilarious.

Let's face it, I love the South, but you just don't do yourself proud based on the service industry employees you put forth. Thankfully we had a clean hotel room in Lake City, Florida but seeing the massive Confederate Flag flying just 20 miles to the North of that reminded us again of where we were.

Staying in Lake City was kind of fun. It's 40 miles North of Gainesville and the Gators were playing LSU in the Swamp that night. The motel was rampant with Gator faithful in their Blue and Orange and I have to say that some of the clothing choices were perfect for college football. Leather belts with the Gator logo on them in silver were fantastic. I want one!! They won 51-21 so all parties were happy upon returning to the motel, which was good as they didn't wake us up at all.

All in all though, it was a good trip. Some very scary people and/or vehicles one meets on the road does have you re-think that flying might be better, but I guess it's something we had to do as a family.

10 October 2008

It's HOCKEY SEASON!!

All the phaff that is pre-season is finally over and its finally time to "Hey Koharski, drop the f'in puck"!

The Chicago Blackhawks open the season at The Garden against the NYRangers and I guess, because I've been fighting the urge to give in and go back to being the huge puckhead that I was back in the 80's and 90's, I've only just found out that The Blue Line will be back for one final issue at the home opener on Monday night and then it gives birth to a son, The Committed Indian.

As a mid-20's ruffian who went to the Stadium and then, the UC looking to get juiced and possibly get into a fight, forking over some coin for the "unofficial" program known as the Blue Line was mandatory. Unlike the lame NHL/team publications, this one blasted ownership and always posted a "Fight Card" for the night so you knew who to watch and what their history was of battles on ice. It also had a card that rated the officials so you knew what sort of night you were likely in for. Ultimately though, it firmly set its sights on DeadWing fans of any kind.

The Blue Line would usually end up covered in beer and in tattered pieces on the back floor of my Chevy Berretta but it set the tone for the night no matter who we were playing.

Here's a taste of some of the "new" artwork to come.



Ahh, the good old days are back. I've added a link to the creators blog site for good day-to-day info and stuff (on the right hand side of this blog).

I swear, I'll need to dust off the ole' Indian Head and pull it over my head and get my arse to the UC for a game or two. Congrats again to Rocky Wirtz for pulling this out of the shitter his Father left it in. I think we'll have a good product on the ice as well this year.

09 October 2008

How-ya-like-ma-big-sexy-look-NOW?

I just HAD to change up the template look of this blog. It was disgustingly bland before. Lemme know what you think of the "crop circles" template.

I have to say that changing templates is a pain in the royal ARSE here on Blogger. It was worth the 20 minutes I spent ensuring it looked decent at least.

08 October 2008

eBay "employees"

(Courtesy of http://www.factcheck.org)
In the debate last night, McCain claimed “1.3 million people in America make their living off eBay.” Actually, only 724,000 persons in the U.S. have income from eBay, and only some of them rely on it as their primary source.

We are a country of "shit buyers" aren't we? I always knew it was a cyber-garage sale, but this fully validates it and my theory that we don't have a GDP anymore. We don't MAKE anything in this country, we just CONSUME everything.

When will we be able to declare someone the first eBay Millionaire?

05 October 2008

Even Facebook loves Sarah Palin

So as most of you hopefully know, online advertising can be greatly targeted (how good that works is heavily debated every day around my company).

My brain got to working about how this ad showed up on my Facebook page?

Maybe it's because the a**holes behind me last night decided to argue politics for TWO AND A HALF INNINGS but I immediately thought that there's a target on me for Sarah Palin. Yeah, i'm tired and cranky. Why the hell would I need an Alaskan coupon book?

Then it dawned on me that I have a countdown odometer on my page counting down to my Mediterranean Cruise.

04 October 2008

Bullet the Blue Sky

It dawned on me the other day that it was only a few years ago that Bono, lead singer of U2, was traveling around to all of the governments of the G8 asking for them to forgive the debts of some developing nations so that they could get back up on their feet.

When will Bono be touring around asking to forgive the debts of the United States? There's an Onion headline for you. No charge, I'm doing it pro bono!

100! 200! And I can see those fighter planes...............Outside is America!!

03 October 2008

The ONLY positive from last night

Well, there really are two.

a) El Bueno Zambrano DID show up, unfortunately the seven buffoons playing behind him need more little league practice
b) I didn't have to suffer through ANY FrankTV commercials. Frank Caliendo, go eat a bag of shit.

Off to the fun and sun of Chavez Ravine. Harden in Game 3 and *if necessary, Lilly in Game 4. Frankly I DO like our chances with these two gentlemen. Only time will tell how right my judgement is.

Kosuke was getting Sammy-like jeers last night. No ichiban for ichiban.

02 October 2008

42,136

Number of sufferers sitting and standing at 1060 W. Addison this evening.

7th Inning Stretch

Sweet Swingin' Billy Williams sings. Now there's a guy who could hit. Several boys should be studying film.

Just depressing how everyone is reacting. Don't boo this team. That assinine.

Tighter than a gnat's bunghole

Just no bats again tonight. We're getting to that point of the game where the Dodger's bullpen will take over and it'll just get tougher to produce runs.

Not looking good but I hope they prove everyone wrong.

Now that's the Z

We love. 1-2-3 innings are what we need the rest of the night. Great 3rd inning.

Uh....... Yeah

Well, that was a load of shite. They are playing really tight. You don't make that many errors when you're loose.

1 run an inning and we win 7-5. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Weird

The players seem like they're dragging their feet when they make an out.

The crowd is just frickin weird. The inning ended, Soriano got a HIT for god's sake and everyone is solemn.

I think the crowd is having the reverse effect on the team. This has GOT to change!!!!!!

Its game time!!

Lou switched Fukudome and Theriot in the lineup. This is very good news.

Hall of Famer and 1971 Cy Young winner Ferguson Jenkins threw out the first pitch.

Its feeling good in the air tonight.

Z takes the mound shortly...... Let's go Cubbies.

2 hours to gametime

And you can feel the nervous buzz in the air. Phillies beating Sabathia and the Sox got beat up by Eva Longoria. (Who knew she could hit the long ball. Chicks dig it ya know)

Please Lord almighty above, let El Bueno Zambrano show up tonight.

In the hood

So roughly 1/2 mile from the park parking dudes are asking for $80!!!! I found a guy with a garage for $40 and I get to keep my keys, same distance.

FYI the guy at $80 charges $20 during the season..........

I'm hanging at the Brownstone (Irving Park & Lincoln) which is owned by Mary Kay's cousins Courtney & Matt. Great place, good food but its a "Texas" bar. Meaning a place where Longhorn fans show up in droves to "hook 'em". I have to remember that for anyone coming in town from our Austin location.

True Irony - in a baseball kinda way

So the Shite Sox start their post season today in Tampa Bay. Hmm, Tampa Bay.... that sounds oddly familiar doesn't it?

Sure whilst many around the nation are amazed that the Tampa Bay Rays (they removed the Devil cuz it's the South ya see?!! Even a baseball team can be born again and saved, hallelujah), one of MLB's newest teams has made the playoffs after only a few years of futility (9 of them HAH), I sit here and just remember some facts that will make the Sox-Rays series oh so ironic.

In 1982, the Sox told Chicago that they would leave town if they didn't get a $5,000,000 tax-exempt bond to finance the build-out of luxury suites at Comiskey Park. The city, which at THAT time was under Jane Byrne (an old Daley machine gal), got the City Council to approve it and all was well at the cost of any taxes that should have gone to the city.

1988 rolls around and once again Sox ownership (Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn) say that Comiskey Park is in dire need of renovation and in fact, they want a new stadium from Chicagoans and that if they don't get their way, well, there's a lovely place that was being built in Tampa-St. Pete which will be the Sox NEW HOME, the "Florida Suncoast Dome". "Their way" included clauses that once built, if the Sox didn't hit a minimum average attendance for the year that their rent would only be $1 to the State of Illinois who would fund the building of this new stadium. Of course, at this time, a newly elected Mayor, Richard M. Daley, born and raised on the South Side of Chicago (Bridgeport) made sure that it was approved and pushed through.

So when people bitch and moan about how I have such a bad taste in my mouth about the Shite Sox, it's not really a Cubs/Sox thang. It's a "we were held hostage and still pay for it every day of our lives as residents of Illinois" thang that's so conveniently forgotten by the faithful followers of that team that will continue to have me hot under the collar. The team is privately owned but yet, the PUBLIC funded and built them that mall in the hood. I guess on the side of town that relishes in their backroom politics, this really shouldn't be a surprise.

So this series is really one where the people of Tampa should be angry and ready to take a beating on the Sox. For it took them 6 more years of having an empty facility (except for a few NCAA Tournament games and 3 seasons of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club) before they were even granted an MLB franchise and 3 more years from that point before an actual baseball game was played there. That's a lot of tax dollars spent that went unsatisfied for a long time because ownership of the Sox played a political game and got people's hopes up. People down there were angry enough at the team that the Sox eventually pulled out of Sarasota for Spring Training and went to Arizona.

Yet, there are a lot of Chicago transplants down there so I won't surprise me to hear enough of a roar for the Sox when they bat. Unfortunately people have short memories about these things. I don't and never will.

TBS and Advertising

With the Cubs being a huge television draw, I have to ask after watching Game 1.... What the hell does TBS do to sell advertising?

I saw the same MasterCard ad I saw last year with the price of each base across different countries. We suffer through literally HUNDREDS of Frank Caliendo SAME ADS AS LAST YEAR promos for his upcoming series and, since I have DirecTV, I see at least TWO DirecTV stupid ads which they show over "local" ads.

This big of a draw and they can't sell any decent advertising?..........wow, either folks down in Atlanta are getting really lazy or it's just the suckiest network of all times and Big Ted just bought his way into showing the games. Even if it wasn't the Cubs it's Chicago and Los Angeles watching..... #2 and #3 largest DMA's in the country.

You hillbilly morons!

01 October 2008

Here we go again!!

One would expect me to rant and rave about the Cubs loss tonight. One might even expect me to predict doom and gloom for the remainder of the playoffs. One could go as far as saying that I've finally drank the last glass of Kool-Aid being handed out at Clark & Addison.

But I really think this club can pull off 3 out of the next 4 and continue on to the next level of the series. The Dodgers aren't all that they are cracked up to be and in fact, if Dempster had had ANY of his stuff tonight (and he wasn't even close), quite possibly we'd be talking different right now. Sure that's easy to say, but we need to be serious here, he looked like crap and we actually didn't do that bad at the plate.

The fear in most Cub fans hearts at this moment is which Carlos shows up tomorrow night? El Bueno Zambrano or El Diablo Zambrano. He's had a very rough go of it over the last couple of weeks since his no-hitter. But I think he's had enough time on the pine to realize that he has to stay focused and pitch how he knows how to.

Watching the entire pitching staff tonight just brought to mind the famous Crash Davis to Nuke LaLoosh line, "Don't think meat, just throw the damn ball". There were so many balls in the dirt that I thought the Cubs were playing Cricket tonight. Geo Soto was half the way to China he was digging so deep.

Other observations:

  • Alfonso Soriano. You're now 2 for 19 in 4 post-season games with the Cubs...HELLO!!! Even my WIFE knows you can't hit a low-outide ball...stop swinging at them you moron. Everytime you do that, every Cub fan sees Sammy Sosa in a bad acid flashback.
  • I don't know about you, but did Lou Piniella watch the same Kosuke Fukudome that I did this season? He's batting 2nd and Theriot is batting 8th? Seriously? I mean seriously??? I'm not questioning the man who has brought us to back-to-back playoffs, but I'm just askin'.
  • Mark DeRosa continues to be this generation's Mark Grace. He just shows up, asks "Where am I playing tonight?" which can be any of 4-5 positions, and goes out and just does his damn job and WELL!!
  • Samardzija: I love this kid, but they've really pushed him up way too fast. He's supposed to be one of our Ace starters in another year or two. He was not that great in Class AA ball and they pushed him quickly through Iowa and then brought him up when Rich Hill went to Hell. I just hope we're not ruining him for the future, cuz he's going to be one of the great ones with the dirty stuff he throws at batters.
  • Greg Maddux closes out the game against us. Ouch that hurts. Man, how many times can he come back to remind us that we've let him go TWICE? He's MY age and he's still got nasty stuff. God Bless him, but I wish he was able to be in OUR bullpen over Howry, Cotts and Marquis.

So, I'll be at the Friendly Confines tomorrow night. Game time temp is supposed to be 51 degrees. I'll be bundled and probably tired since the start time is 8:30pm!!! Stupid TV. I'll likely be posting FROM the game (lots of short posts, but hopefully "spirit of the moment" ones)

It's Game One!

27 September 2008

A couple of master debaters

I only watched parts of the debate last night. I'm sorry but nothing that was said was going to change my decision anyway and the Cubs were in Milwaukee (priorities, right?)

McCain definitely was more prepared than most people expected, but then again, shouldn't he be? I mean he's been a politician for a long time. This is riding a bike stuff for him. This whole "suspend my campaign" stuff is either a genius move to make it look like he's unstable and then so when he does well, it's like "WOW he's prepared and ready to run the country", or he's got a bunch of absolute psychos running his campaign.

Obama stayed on message and didn't screw up. Is this sad to say? I mean, one only makes that comment (and the press sure did last night afterwards) when the candidate is supposedly so far ahead that only a blunder of all blunders can derail it. But is he really that far ahead?

One thing I liked, although because it came from NBC I'm going to stay skeptical, is the "Truth Squad" or whatever the hell they called it. Supposed fact checkers who called out things that were incorrectly stated or accused during the debate. Anyone whose ever watched PTI (Pardon the Interruption) sees the producer correct what Wilbon and Kornheiser pontificated during the show about sports. So basically NBC has a bunch of interns pounding on Google to check stuff. This is fine other than some of the huge blunders recently by some of those same interns who pick up bogus Internet rumors and shoot them through to the talking heads. (Palin's hubby has a bastard child, etc..)

News isn't news anymore, they just report what's on the Internet in the attempt to "break" a story. The news world has gotten lazy and instead of actually doing their jobs, they've hired Gen Y who just surfs all day and gets their "news" that way.

In summary, no one won or lost last night. Boring. I think the long format actually plays to Obama's long-windiness, so once we get to the rapid-fire format, it'll be interesting to see how he does versus McCain who has learned that it's all about a sound byte and taking quick shots that ultimately can't be responded to because the mod wants to move on. Personally I think that if Obama doesn't whip McCain's ass in the majority of these debates, he's going to be in trouble. If the man who is known for talking and being affable can't take down the career politician, it will be used against him as it already is. In fact, the McCain campaign was so on it's game last night that they took Obama's comment that "John is Right" and instantly spun a web-0-mercial with that sound clip and the words "Barack Obama's answers from the debate".

Oh, the mud is only starting............it's gonna get very ugly over the next 39 days!!

26 September 2008

The Amazin' Mutz/Shite Sox

Can I just say how deliriously tickled I am at the continued Mets collapse? Okay, I just did. Neener neener neener!

Equally as impressive is the Shite Sox current fall. Its looking like they will have to go to Detroit to probably tie it up on Monday, unless the Twins can start winning and a potential one-game playoff with the Twinkies is looming.

Watching the Sox fans is actually amusing since they now know a little bit of what it's like to be a Cubs fan. Your team always just playing with your emotions, leading a division for 147 days, only to be literally gut-wrenching your way through the last week of the season. Admittedly this isn't similar to a LOT of Cubs seasons (most of them we were done by May) but there have been more of these over the last 20 years, than the blow-out ones.

Enjoy oh faithful South Siders, these are the times that test your true faith in the club.