Sunday, November 25, 2007


L and I traveled to Boogie for Thanksgiving (or “Columbus Day” as our friends in Canada say). I learned a few things over the long holiday season. I thought this holiday was for giving thanks for what we were already aware of, but apparently it is also for learning things we didn’t know.

First, I had no idea it would take three days to plan and pack a five day excursion out of town. It didn’t used to. Sure, you can blame the baby, and I’m pretty sure it was his fault. I just don’t know how or why. In any case, this 3:5 ratio is unacceptable.

Second, I spent fifteen hours driving between Chicago and St. Louis. It is about 600 miles round trip. That’s not fast. Furthermore, if we use my best time ever (granted, in a BMW 700 series with a no-consequences rich kid driving), I should have been able to make the round trip approximately twice. That’s right. I have gone 1200 miles in the time it took me to do 600 this week. Again, you can blame the baby, but I am still the one getting amped up on Red Bulls and mint gum.

Third, hillbillies are much more affectionate with strange children than non-children of the corn. I know this because Cracker Barrel apparently has a great diaper changing station in the women’s bathroom (although they are decent enough to not have it on the men’s side), so we stopped there coming and going. Mostly hillbillies, old people, and people with kids seem to eat at the Barrel. And hillbillies were perfectly willing to interact with U. One lady even kissed him on the head!?! How do you react to that? I swallowed by rising chicken-fried chicken and smiled. And no, I really don’t know how to chicken-fry a chicken.

Fourth, it takes a special kind of asshole to wait for a weekend when I have a stop on my newspaper to deliver not one but two free samples of another paper. You know why I didn’t have newspapers on my porch this week/weekend? Because I didn’t want to make it obvious I was out of town. So thank you, Red Eye, for leaving samples so that it was obvious that I was . . . wait for it . . . out of town. Morons. Oh, and the Red Eye is free, so why did anyone thing I needed a sample at my door?

Fifth, U looks like he belongs in L’s older sister’s family. They are all dark-headed, with pale skin and blue eyes. I didn’t realize it, but they did so we took a picture with U sitting with their fam. Oh my. I think we got the wrong baby. I also think some genealogist in the future is going to go nuts looking for the birth records for their third kid in California, when the picture shows our first in the Chi. Ha! Ha! Screw you, genealogists!

Finally, I know that if Missouri and West Virginia play for the national championship in football something will be very wrong. Seriously. Mizzou and the Mountaineers? However the BCS and polls played out, there is no way either of those teams is better than LSU or Ohio State. Seriously. By the way, I firmly believe that had the Illini played Mizzou a few weeks later the Illini would have beaten Mizzou. They almost did in week one as it was.

That’s what I’ve got. How was your holiday?

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I have, apparently returned from a place that many have visited, but few have returned from. Last weekend I was wearing a hoodie. I had my Blackberry in the 'roo pocket. I walked up to the toilet (throwing an Ace, not a Deuce), lifted my hoodie and . . . and then it happened, it really happened (extra credit to anyone who knows the chorus of that song). My Blackberry tumbled out of the 'roo pocket, hit the bowl, the battery flew out, and it all landed in the toilet water.

As luck would have it, I have the reflexes of a cat, and am quick as a mongoose after an espresso. I used these gifts to simultaneously swear and reach into the toilet and pull the phone pieces out. I immediately wrapped all of it in towels and contemplated every snarky comment I had ever made about people dropping their phones in toilets.

Over the next four days I went through the stages of grief. You know, first I hoped it would work. Then I prayed for it to work. Then I despaired of it ever working again. Then I started scheming to replace it on as much of Verizon's dime as possible. Our tech guy at work even told me that Blackberries that are completely submerged are generally "toast."

On Friday I stuck the battery in and threw the phone in my bag. I was not sure if the Verizon people would want/need it back. My bus was late and I got bored, so I pulled the phone out. I could see massages, but already knew I could not reply, since the two buttons on the side did not work. I opened a message anyway, and then out of habit hit the button to delete it. And it worked!?! I tried another mail, but the buttons crapped out on me. I pounded the buttons against my hand like smokers do to a new pack.

And now, for the rest of the story. This post was typed on, and posted from, that Blackberry. It seems to work perfectly. Truly, I have been to the Other Side and have returned to tell the tale.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


L and I get the Tribune at home. I know. The Tribune Company is a bunch of strike-breaking scumbags. I know. However, unlike the Sun-Times, the Tribune is not in tabloid form. Which makes it much easier to read on the fly. Anyway, there were a few really interesting things in the paper today.

First, for what must be the tenth time in six months, a newspaper in the Chicagoland area has ranked coffees by flavor. It turns out that some of the coffees people think are great are . . . great. Julius Meinl, Intelligensia, and Peet's all ranked in the highest category. Dunkin' and Starbucks both ranked OK. Burger King, Wendy's, McDonald's, 7-11 and others were ranked as bad. In the Red Eye article a few months back I seem to remember that Dunkin' and Starbucks were ranked higher. Sigh. Just try them and drink what you like.

Second, there is a huge article about the manufacturing conditions in China. You know what the Chinese say? They say "Do you want to kill yourself? Then do business with Wal-Mart." Interesting. As long as people are willing to chase the lowest price, rather than being willing to pay EVEN A PENNY for quality, you can expect the kind of recalls we have seen in the last six months. Pet food, toys, and all the rest are what happens in this environment. I understand that Wal-Mart's prices have been a tremendous boon for the poor, but if their kids end up with lead poisoning, or accidentally ingesting the date rape drug, the boon seems a bit less positive.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


L and I spent the last decade or so living in neighborhoods that were more dense, and less family-oriented than Portage Park. We had understood Halloween to be dead. Reports from suburbia were that nobody trick-or-treated, and costumes were generally dangerous anyway, so the holiday was reduced to a basic costume and going to two or three houses of people you already knew. If that.
Portage Park seems to be behind the times. L and I went through about seven bags of candy, and probably had between 100 and 200 kids come to the door. The younger kids generally had a parent or older sibling standing on the sidewalk, while the tweens and early teens traveled in groups. It was sort of like when L and I were kids, but possibly with more kids. Apparently Halloween lives on the Northwest Side.
U was either a rooster, or he is the thing the rooster ate (see below). He really loved having all of the kids come to the door and seemed intrigued by the costumes. I think he liked Halloween.