31 January 2009

25 Random Things About Me.....ugh

I'm not big on the chain letter sorts of things, so I'll spare my group of friends the tagging, but since I've been thinking about this, it's been very difficult to come up with 25 things most people do NOT know about me so I've really had to reach deep here but there's a few that aren't so deep.
  1. The 23 on my license plates, email addresses and blogs is in honor of Ted Simmons, NOT Ryne Sandberg or Michael Jordan as most people think. The Ted Simmons story is an entirely different blog post that I'll do on February 23rd, 2009 (see, I'll get you to return if you care)
  2. I threw shot-put in High School (poorly), but I had some delusional thought that I could run 200-meter hurdles and was allowed to, ONCE! Thanks Ernie Stark for that humbling moment, you handled it perfectly and taught me a valuable lesson.
  3. New Year's Eve, 1999, I spent alone, at home. It was a down time in my life and sort of sad. Hell of a way to come into the new millennium.
  4. I honestly am really really shy. Amongst totally new crowds of people I stay quiet for a long time until I can figure out who is who and how I will fit in.
  5. I was a state-ranked wrestler in the 155 lb. weight class in 8th grade. If it weren't for chicken pox, I would have probably placed in the top 5 at the state championships.
  6. Yes, from the age of 24-26 I had a pony tail. A LONG one down to the middle of my back. It was when I worked as a music agent and it carried over for the first three months at Millward Brown.
  7. I got deeply involved in a pyramid/MLM scheme in 1989. Lost a BOAT LOAD of money ($30K+). It set the foundation of how I manage my finances very tightly to this very day. It wasn't fun getting sued for all the bad debt I incurred.
  8. There IS photographic evidence of me, at the age of 8, wearing Green Bay Packers pajamas. eeeechhhhhhhhhhh. We can blame my MOTHER for that one.
  9. I was thrown out of a 6th Grade football game (versus Lace School) for a flagrant personal foul. After their center snapped the ball, I pounded him on the back of the helmet 'cuz he kept his head down.
  10. First teacher crush: Miss Coradetti, 5th grade. Smokin' hot.
  11. I always have and always will admire Pete Rose for how he played the game of baseball. I modeled my playing style after his in Little League (even wore #14). Unfortunately I also had his HAIRCUT for awhile. Say no to bowl!
  12. I first learned how to program in BASIC in 1982 on a Radio Shack TRS-80. I've stayed close to computers ever since. Shout out to all my peeps down in I.T. as it's why I "get" you guys.
  13. I, as most Marquette alums pre-'94, will NEVER refer to us as the G*ld*n E*gl*s. We are Marquette and we're the Warriors, at least that's what it says on the 1977 NCAA Championship Trophy!
  14. I played Sancho Panza in a grade school performance of Don Quixote de La Mancha (Kyle Berndtsen was Don). From that I got to go back stage and meet Richard Kiley who was playing Don at the time!
  15. My list of nicknames is endless: HighCicero, Sissy, Buffy, Duey, Dinky, Bruno, The Brain, etc. but Duey just stuck. Given to me Freshman year at MU by Scott Wagner (next door neighbor in McCormick Hall)
  16. I met my wife online (most of you knew that) but once we met, the parts of our lives that crossed over at times was ridiculous. My parents live in a subdivision her Uncle developed, we BOTH knew Vince Ligouri and had the same opinion, we both attended Catholic High Schools and Universities (not the same ones) and were amazed that there were people we knew in common. There WAS some sort of fate working at that point and I couldn't be happier in my life that it was.
  17. I was so convinced we were having a girl that when the Ultrasound tech said we were having a boy, I cried like nobody's business.
  18. I inherited two fun traits from my Grandpa LoCicero, but didn't KNOW I did until after he passed when I was 22: LOVING hot, spicy food and an unbelievably accurate eye/hand when shooting a weapon. I'm careful not to mix the two but there was a time when I had a Lamb Vindaloo in Banbury, and the next morning it felt like I shot my head off.
  19. Yes, I did go out on the road with Blue Oyster Cult in 1991. It was their first tour (very small venues) back after their long absence. It was a ton of fun for the five dates I was there. My job: make sure they were happy with the diet sodas, vegetarian meals, and bottled water backstage and hand their manager the payment for the night before they hit the stage.
  20. I'm a chronic insomniac. It started in my mid 20's and has continued ever since.
  21. If I could live anywhere else in the world, it would be in Southwest London down towards the end of the Northern Line. Lovely, hard-working folks and my beloved AFC Wimbledon.
  22. I pay very close attention to the subtle changes that happen on a weekly basis with our son, Aidan. I've had too many people say that "it goes very fast" and they are VERY correct. Each new change in his life just warms my heart and makes me appreciate his presence in my life just that much more.
  23. If tomorrow, someone told me that my job was over and to pack up my stuff, I'd would to set up a company to help "older" folks learn how to use technology be it computers, mobile phones, web cameras, digital cameras/picture frames. The joy with which I've seen my parents use these various things lets me know that there's an entire world we can open up for folks like them. My parents just did their first web cam call with us on Saturday and the fact that they can see their grandson when they miss him so much, just is the BEST.
  24. I will still hold out hope for the rest of my life that the Chicago Cubs will finally win another World Series. You can make fun of me until you're red in the face, but I'll never be forced to give up that hope.
  25. I know I probably don't say it enough to her, but I thank the Lord everyday that my wife and I met and that I love her more than anything. She challenges me and strengthens my belief in myself and what I can get accomplished. Although I know I drive her crazy more times that I should, I would move mountains and seas to ensure that she was happy in life and I am so blessed for our family and our lives.

30 January 2009

The NE corner of Addison & Sheffield

I'm gutted really. Readers of this blog know I share Cubs season tickets and for my whole life I've spent more than my share of wasted days and nights in Wrigleyville.

But, as I don't live in the neighborhood, I only end up there between April and October (hopefully) so it's with great dismay that I found out that on December 24th, the day before Christmas, they took the wrecking ball to The Sports Corner.

When it comes to having to pay $4.00 for a can of Miller, well, I'd most want to spend it at The Sports Corner than anywhere else in Wrigley. Bartenders were always friendly, beer tub girls too. It was always jammed before, during and after games but they had a nice outdoor holding pen (beer garden) and you could always just use the walk-up window to get some dogs if you didn't want to go inside. I've met too many of my friends there (at least to start out the day) and have had more than my fair share of laughs, and so this does leave a temporary hole in my heart.

But as the Cubs continue to gobble up land and move forward with some expansion and continued improvements, I guess they feel the need to truly force out the smaller businesses that surround the shrine known as Wrigley. I really wish they wouldn't as it's what makes it special, but I do understand. Clearly the owners got an offer they couldn't refuse and moved on. I understand that too.

No idea what is going to replace it at the moment, but R.I.P. SC!! Thanks to "I Hate Clark Street" for the pic below. It's not like there's not plenty of other locations to go to this upcoming season, but SC was just a place that was comfortable.

29 January 2009

A convergence of yesterday's post and today's mail

So yesterday, I wanted to know who DOESN'T have cable/satellite, etc.

Today, I got something in the mail which demonstrates further reasons on why businesses are failing in 2009. Unfortunately I think this organization is targeting the same people I mentioned in yesterday's post.

So that I don't bash the organization by name, I will call them Charity A.
  • Charity A sent a request for money via US Mail. They included a nickel which had an arrow pointing to it that said "This nickel can make a real difference in the search for a cure." REALLY? Than you should have kept it, shouldn't have you???
  • Charity A also sent about 50 mailing labels that had my name and address on them. Haven't they heard the news? The US Postal Service is hemorrhaging money left and right and are playing with the idea of only going to a 5-day delivery schedule. You've sent me something that's NOT RELEVANT in my day-to-day life anymore and frankly, something that's not relevant to a LOT of people. I rarely send out mail anymore and in fact, the biggest amount of mail we send is Christmas Cards and we use special labels for those.
  • HOWEVER, kudos to you, Charity A, as although it took me awhile to get to it in the mass of paper you sent, you now have an e-newsletter and website!!! Hooray!! You actually are starting to get the whole "Internets" thing, eh?
I have volunteered for non-profits to help raise money in the past so trust me, I DO know that it's a bitch of a thing to be asking for donations in this crappy economy. I understand how you are fighting tooth and nail for a share of the little pie that's left out there. But as I tighten my belt for our 2009 spending, I need to make sure the charities we donate to are relevant, are progressively thinking about what the next 5-10 years is going to bring, and have a very high donation/management cost ratio.

Boo on the direct marketer that convinced Charity A that sending a nickel and address labels will resonate with potential donors. I realize there's not many tricks left in your DM bag, but if the USPS goes down to 5 days, it likely is going to finally force you to rethink how you reach people.

28 January 2009

The Digital Transition

So a move by Obama was defeated today to move the "digital transition" for local television stations from Feb 17th to June 12th. By some estimates, when the move from analog to digital happens in Feb, it will leave some 6.5 Million households without tv.

Who the hell ARE these people and where in god's name do they live? If you believe the Dems/Obama, they are poor, rural and low-income Americans. I'm sorry if that's true, but I'm amazed that these folks don't have at least basic cable or satellite.

I'm not blind enough to know that there ARE going to be people who on Feb 17th, can't watch their "stories", but for the past 18 months, if they didn't pay attention to any of the 200,000,000 PSA's that have been running, surely buying them another 4 months isn't going to matter one lick.

Admittedly these are the same people who can't access the website http://www.dtvanswers.com that is shown in those same PSA's. Some people take a chance an embrace advancements in society and technology, some are brought along kicking and screaming and some, just will NEVER adopt it.

As someone who occasionally works with data, I'd love to see a cross-tab of who this might impact the most by # of cellphones, # of computers, # of rotary dial phones, # of betamax machines, # of Activision games, etc.

I'm not cold-hearted though. It potentially DOES create a public security risk in that, if someone cannot get the local channels, they can't be forewarned about potential weather approaching, Amber alerts, or other local issues that need to be broadcast however it seems foolish to think that these folks truly will change and get the equipment needed.

19 January 2009

When your kid scares the cr*p out of you...

I had a scary moment today. One of those times when there's an immediate sinking in your gut and literally 2,000,000 synapses fire through your brain in less than 10 seconds.

The morning was a normal morning. Aidan woke up at around 6:30 and he took his milk very well. MK got him dressed and ready to go to school and we left the house around 7:00. It's only 2 miles from door to door and today it took about 5 minutes.

When we got to school, I jumped out and opened the back door and he was just sitting in his car seat and didn't look over to me. Normally once I open the door he shoots me a look and starts trying to wriggle his way out of the car seat.

So I leaned in to start unbuckling him and he was motionless. His eyes were wide open and he was staring through the front windshield of the car. I said "Hey bud, are you ready for school?" and he just didn't move. I waved my hand in front of his face and he didn't move. I swear to God almighty that he looked like a dead body with its eyes open.

I yelled his name and grabbed the sides of his head and he jerked into reality with some tears in his eyes. It was like I woke him from the deepest of sleeps but yet, his eyes were wide open.

I got him out of the car and headed into the school, the entire way telling him "Don't do that to me ever again, you scared the hell out of me. Are you okay?" Of course, he doesn't speak yet so there was no answer, but he was looking at me.

I got him into his classroom and took off his jacket and he was just as normal as ever. He has a new teacher today as Miss Leah and Miss Roxayn have left the school and he ran to Miss Kim just fine and started playing. I didn't think to say anything as I didn't want to worry her and I got in the car. Looked at myself in the mirror and just started freaking out.

What the hell happened? Had he stopped breathing? He was so bundled in winter clothes that I couldn't tell and in fact, I was so freaked I really didn't look. It was one of the most unsettling rides to work (14 miles) that I think I ever had.

I got to work and unfortunately had about 2 1/2 hours of conference calls but when I was done I called home to tell MK. We both were kinda freaked and decided we'd call his doctor, if anything to get this on his medical record/charts and to get advice.

While I waited for a call back from them, I searched online. Autism, Apnea, Arithmea, anything I could think of that would make a kid just freeze and nothing really matched. After speaking with one of the CRN's from the office, she said it didn't sound like anything at this point and that she'd consult with one of the MD's and that if they think there's something there, they'd call us back. She asked if he had turned blue (he hadn't) and said that at this point, just observing him and looking to see if it happens again is all we can do and that we need to notify school so in case it happens there, they know to call us as well.

When MK picked him up from school, he had just another normal day there. Well-adjusted and active and his appetite was actually increased from normal. We got him home and it was another normal night of dinner and playing before going to bed. He ate a ton of food (his appetite is really up which means he's probably physically growing right now) and he was a happy, active, engaged child. I tried out a few of the autism tests for infants that I saw online and he didn't "fail" any of them.

In summary, today wasn't the first time, but it was another reminder that in this world, I live not for myself but for someone else who depends greatly on me and MK and now I know what it's like to have your kid scare the living hell of you. As I joked right to him when he was in my arms tonight, "I'm sure it's not going to be the LAST time either".

16 January 2009

That guy must have a set on him...

As someone who used to log 25,000+ miles a year on airplanes can I just say how un-f'in-believable that US Airways crash landing was yesterday?

I mean, it was on my most recent trip to Atlanta where I laughed off the whole part of the safety instructions where they talked about landing on water. When the hell EVER has a plane "landed" on the water and stayed in tact? I mean, ultimately they are telling you about flotation devices because your ass better be hanging on to one when that plane takes the dump.

I was pretty damn good at Physics when I was in school. When a body in motion, experiences a significant halt in its motion either from friction or another body, the energy has to dissipate SOMEWHERE. Usually it does in the form of 2,000,000 pieces of an airplane when we're talking about plane v water.

So, to bring that craft in, belly up and to have the wings hit the water at the exact same time is something only LEGENDS can probably do. Of course there were other factors at play here.
  • It was daylight. If it was dark, the pilot would have had a hell of a time seeing where the water was and at what point he could put it down
  • Gotta hand it to the French. For once they are worth their weight in crepes as the Airbus A320 is French-built and as we found out yesterday has a series of air tubes throughout the cabin which inflate enough to keep the plane floating. So somewhere in Frog-land there was an engineer that had HOPE and didn't say "it doesn't matter"
  • The weather was calm for once. For all of us who've spent far too much time sitting at LGA we know that this was probably a very rare day and there's 155 peeps who are thanking a weatherman somewhere who likely was WRONG!
Which brings us to Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III. a 40 year flying veteran, US Air Force fighter pilot trained (damn straight!!!) and whose resume is stellar. This guy has TWO Masters degrees (Industrial Psychology and Public Administration) and has been a Visiting Scholar at UCal-Berkeley at the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management. Here's the kicker though which ultimately, IMHO, allowed this man to do what hadn't been done in FIFTY years of aviation, he is a Certified Flight Instructor for (amongst other things) GLIDERS!!

Talk about the fabled "Right Place - Right Time" metaphor in life. If this isn't a perfect example of that happening, nothing is. I'd bet that almost any other pilot would have made a trainwreck of that situation. So here's a toast to "Sully"! Just absolutely amazing. Total calm under pressure.

13 January 2009

It was 15 years ago today....

Duey L learned how to play.

15 years ago today, I installed and logged on to AOL for the first time. Now, it wasn't the first time I was on the Internet, as I had CompuServe and Prodigy accounts for 18 months prior to that, but it was the first time I truly figured out that the Internet was going to be something big in life.

Looking back, I probably missed the boat on making a career and some money out of it all. I learned how to program in BASIC and COBOL in the mid-80's and while in college, I used a Leading Edge (knock-off IBM) to produce my Fraternity's Alumni Newsletter.

I also wish I still had one of my computers that I bought in 1989, the MacPlus (saw tonight on NCIS a MacSE!!) but I foolishly sold it off in moment of wanting some cash. I do however, have my PowerBook 150. The entire hard drive was something like 4MB!!
Anyway, it's these sorts of moments that make me take stock in how the rise of computers and the Internet just hit me at the right point in our generation.

I see how difficult it is at times for my Dad to use his computer (and don't get me wrong he does a great job most of the time, but when issues happen, he's just totally lost and calls me), and how simple it is at times for me to fix them.

So looking back, sure, I probably missed the boat on being an IT geek, but I've put a lot of that knowledge to good use at my current company. I can move pretty easily between speaking "tech talk" and "putting it in English" and it seems that anytime people have computer issues, they call me, so that's a credit to my knowlege as well.

Finally, for the record, I never had issues with AOL, still don't. During the early 90's when people were constantly getting bumped offline, I never had those issues. I enjoyed it, learned from it and have a wealth of knowledge about how it all works. The sounds of "Welcome, You Have Mail" are sweet tones to my ears and "Goodbye" was a form of finality that said, "You really need to go to bed now, it's 3:00am!!". Of course, I don't pay for AOL anymore. I switched to the totally free version, so I still do have my old email address (not that I've used it anytime in the last 5 years!), but it's almost like wearing a badge of honor. Keeping that email address and having it handy.

Oh well, in the crazy world of Web 2.0/3.0/x.x, you sometimes need to give props to the "old skool web".

12 January 2009

Hooray! Flying Cars are HERE!!

As I've complained about so many times, science spends so much money on useless crap but yet, I have been waiting for my flying car that they promised back in the early 80's.

So like Steve Martin in The Jerk when the new phone books arrive, "the flying cars are here, the flying cars are here!!!"

Now I just have to find a spare $200K somewhere....

Here's a link to the story and then the video of how it converts from plane to car in just 15 seconds.

11 January 2009

Wow, it's been 25 years!!

Happy New Year (DK if I said that to anyone yet).

2009 brings many new and fun things, but also will bring some old things. This will be my 25th High School Reunion year. Thanks to my introduction and now, massive use of Facebook, this should be a bit more fun than I had thought. Additionally my High School has an alumni website and a very scaled back sort of "social network" which should also help.

We did have a 20th, but I could only attend the night before event at a bar in downtown Naperville. That night was fun. We caught up with old friends, but the thing that struck me as well, funny, was how quickly everyone got back into their old cliques. Whether it was who you normally hung out with, or if you played sports, or even what grade schools you went to, you just were more comfortable hanging back with the people you hung with most. I can't imagine the 25th will be any different although these "significant" ones tend to get bigger turnouts so who knows.

That night, I remember telling a few of my friends that I was in the process of buying an engagement ring for my now wife and at some point, I wished the night didn't have to end, but alas, there just came a point to go home.

But five years on, and life is well, life. I'll be looking for the invite and hope we have a large attendance. To those of you who will read this on Facebook, I look forward to seeing you in person again.

10 January 2009

Mechanical Porn

Yes, it's very cliche that men love our toys, especially mechanical ones, but let's face it, when we DO get it right (and I know it's debatable how often) we can look pure genius.

Over the last week it's snowed, but last night/today it SNOWED. We probably ended up just shy of eight inches in the far western suburbs of Chicago and like an almost full rocks glass of near frozen Lemoncello, I have the cure for what ails ya'.

After ensuring that the gas tank was full, I set out to forcefully remove that white stuff from my driveway and sidewalks. Who do I call on buy my trusty Yard Machine. Now, what the engine sits on is inconsequential as we know that the Tecumseh engine that propels both drive shaft and auger shafts is really what matters when it comes to moving large quantities of snow. So let me whet your appetite, boys, with a side shot of my blessed machine.
It handles quite nicely and has up to 8 speeds. Now, I consider myself an "expert user" and even _I_ have never had it above the 3rd gear. That's even too fast for normal snow conditions, but I guess if you needed some extra push, you could whip that badboy all the way up to the 8th gear and let her fly. As you can see it has two engagement handles which have a built in safety feature. The left handle engages the auger and the right, the drive train. If, for some reason, you slipped or fell, the minute your hands let go of them, they immediately stop.

Okay, so here's a front shot showing the blades (careful)
This is a post-use shot so some of the carnage left on the blades and shoot is fresh kill.

So why do I get so jazzed about this beauty? Well, we have a slightly extra-long driveway since we're on the corner and our house is set back just a little bit further than our neighbors AND we have over 300 feet of sidewalk to clear as well. Yes, that's a football field worth of cement "public" sidewalk.

So here's the result. Nice clean lines and excellent adherence to the ground. Notice that large hump at the end of the driveway on the right? Well, that's left over from an earlier snow but it turned into rock-solid ice thanks to the Village plows as they kept coming by. One thing I've learned is NOT to take this baby through large chunks of ice. No matter how sharp those blades are, if you get choked up on ice, you could blow the auger's drive shaft and then you'd be up the creek without a snowblower.
So there you have it. Playboy for gearheads. Always remember to keep a good maintenance log and change the oil on it at the end of every season. Take care of your machinery and it'll take care of you.

05 January 2009

He's walkin', everyday, he's walkin'...

In the last 10 days, Mr. Aidan has found his wheels and is now freely walking around the house. It started out as just 2 feet and a leap (or fall) and has finally reached to the points of 10-12 foot romps across the floor.

It truly is amazing to see this happen, not that we didn't think he would, just the simple accomplishment that he CAN. He laughs and giggles the whole way as usually he's rumbling towards someone or something he wants desperately.

Of course, most of this has happened just at home with MK and I and maybe Papa and Nana around. So imagine my glee this morning as I drop him off at daycare and leaned him up against the changing station and then walked 6 feet away and held my arms open. He just ran laughing the whole way at the cheering of one of the teacher's aides. Unfortunately his real teachers are out today and so they have to wait until tomorrow to enjoy the newest development benchmark (gettin' all daycare speak, I am).

Now it's going to almost be a contest to see how far he can go before falling down. Of course, we need to keep making sure we have a clear path for him. The smallest of toys will trip him up even just visually so clear the runway and let him go.

I do have some video of this, just be patient until I can post, but this obviously opens up an entire new world for him. Of course one which has the disappointment of being a Cubs fan for the rest of his life ;-p