"Bloglike Banter" Past Postings
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I am making a conversion to a true BLOG, so from here on out you will be able to find postings at http://huskerfan1.wordpress.com.  Writings prior to 2008 can be found here.  Happy reading!

 

December 22, 2007

A brief, personal summary of 2007

It's been quite a while since something original has been posted here.  I find it hard to believe I've been too busy to find the time to do something like this (which I truly enjoy), but let's face it - the personal website tends to take a back seat over other things.  Anyway, thought I'd take this opportunity to get back on track and share some my thoughts as I look back on 2007:

Family
2007 was our first full year without my mom, but I’m glad to report that we adjusted well. Our Florida gathering in mid-March for the one-year anniversary of her death was difficult for all of us, but it honestly was a big step in the healing process. They say that time heals all wounds, and though there is some truth to that statement there isn’t a day that goes by when she’s not in our thoughts. My dad has done a pretty good job of adapting to his new lifestyle – work and relaxation was more balanced, plus he’s made some new friends. However, admittedly his domestic skills still need quite a bit of work! He’s taken a big step towards his eventual retirement from Medline, giving his “two year” notice in the late fall. We’re hoping that we can do something together business-wise in the future.

Laura continues to be the most wonderful wife anyone could ask for, and she couldn’t be happier as a mother. AJ is developing at an above average rapid pace, rarely has problems or illnesses and is nothing short of incredible. It still doesn’t seem real that he just turned three. When they say children change your lives forever, they’re correct, and it’s an excellent change! Yes we have been considering having a second child, but at the moment there’s no news to report (part our fault, part bad luck, and probably part due to our age). My sister Missy did have a second child, Rory, at the end of August. She’s taking maternity time off now from her professor job at Chapman University, but is also taking a leave next semester to care for both kids as Isabella, is in need of special assistance on a few things. On Laura’s side of the family, there’s probably been a bit less drama this year than in the past, which isn’t a bad thing. It would probably take me a few thousand words to give full updates on everyone, so at the moment suffice to say that everyone is pretty healthy and seems to be doing fine. I don’t say it much, but I truly love my in-laws. They are some of the most caring people you will ever meet, and have helped me realize the importance of family.

We had a tremendous gathering at the end of June to celebrate my great aunt Doris and great uncle Gene’s 50th anniversary – which happens to be on the exact same day as mine & Laura’s five-year anniversary. I reconnected with many of my relatives, plus we met several other distant ones. I put up a starter web page on this, and with help from some of these family members still plan on putting together a full family tree someday – hopefully this common connection will allow us to get together again. My dad and I also made it out for another Huskers game this year and met up with some other relatives (the Steigleders). Overall in 2007 I probably did a bigger variety of family events than in the past, and you know what – I like it!

Friends
The big news of the year involves two of my long-time best friends, with the most recent one being Leon Rebodos’ heart surgery.  Fortunately he has made it through the most difficult time and is on the road to recovery.  It’s these scary situations that not only make you appreciate the importance of friends but the true value of life.  Gene Dorsch found a new job in February, but it required him to relocate his family to Arizona – this was always Gene’s “dream” though deep down I don’t think he ever really intended to move.  For the most part they’ve made the adjustment to Arizona, and Gene’s job is going well, so all seems well.  I’m happy for them, but really do miss Gene and his whole family.  They are our best friends and the ones we saw the most, so the move was also a bit of a system shock to me as well.  For what it’s worth, we now have another good vacation spot and they have a place to stay when they come back to visit!

I’m fortunate to have a lot of friends, but sad to say that I just don’t see many of them as often as I’d like.  Between some of my long-time friends from grade/high school, good buddies from Medline, my fantasy football group (including the “hootermaster” vacation crowd), neighbors and many others, there just never seems to be enough time.  This year we went without having another summer party – or any big gathering for that matter - which was a mistake.  My hopes are to make more of an effort in the upcoming year to “reconnect” so to say.  Life is too short, and in looking at the big scare with Leon, you never know what the future brings.

Work
Going into 2007 it appeared seemed I had come across a different but potentially rewarding career path – an ownership stake in a small distribution company owned by a friend.  For over half the year I spent most of my time doing what I could to learn about and help the business.  Unfortunately, for several reasons it turned out that this wasn’t meant to be, and in the 3rd quarter we parted ways.  No need to rehash the events here - suffice to say it’s always disappointing when things don’t work out as planned, but it’s truly sad when a friend really lets you down.  On the positive, this was a learning experience and the industry education has led to some other ideas that I incorporated into my company-of-one, BLAM Productions.  During the rest of the year, my focus has been on some various freelance projects while putting together a plan for the future.  As the year comes to a close, the outlook for 2008 - though still uncertain at this time – seems much more positive.  Some possible investment opportunities may be coming into play, along with various other interested associates to help along the way.  Financially it was definitely a down year compared to the past, but with my memories of working at Medline becoming more distant, and some potentially great opportunities forthcoming, I have no doubt that in the long run the decisions made have been the right ones.

Life in General
The year started out with a bang – I made it out to Arizona for a mini-vacation and the BCS championship game, then cheered the Bears onto the Superbowl.  In a way the Bears falling just short of a championship reflects the way some of my year went – accomplishing most of your goals but not quite finishing the job.  As you just read about my work, that definitely applies.  Having a very flexible schedule, I enjoyed considerably more family time than the average person, but in a sense it wasn’t always quality time (which was usually my fault).  Quite often I’d find myself gung-ho and making great strides on projects, only to get distracted by daily events or other tasks.  I had a great year of weightlifting and exercise – very consistent and physically I’m in good shape and feel great - though I am still too heavy (in defense I have slowly been losing weight, so hopefully it will stay lost!).  Additionally, after all the cardio exercise and actually eating better, go figure that my cholesterol levels are too high…apparently the main reason is due to a genetic gift from my mother.  C’mon, give me a break already!

Perhaps that wasn’t a completely accurate way to start this section.  By no means did I think 2007 was a bad year – in fact it was a big improvement over a generally miserable 2006.  Having the time and ability to watch AJ grow had been a blessing and is nothing short of priceless.  We were able to get involved in some promising investments both on individual and (McGonigal) family levels.  We’re happy where we live, the financial portfolio is in great shape, our health has been find, vacations have been fun, and without any major events, purchases or catastrophes to speak of, our cost of living in 2007 was relatively minimal.  For the most part, all is well and no complaints.  However, on a personal level, there’s still some things eating away at me…read on…

The following is not specific to 2007 but may help you understand me a bit better.  I’m by nature a very organized person, have always held myself up to rather high standards and take pride in the ability to assume control.  This is why it’s easy for me to stay motivated, and these qualities (usually as a positive) are for the most part reflected in my daily life.  However, when for whatever reason I’m not acting or operating at those levels it’s frustrating and upsets my balance.  Unfortunately this spills over to others.  This was glaringly apparent for a good part of this year as many things just weren’t “right”, so to say.  I lost some focus and wasn’t using my time very wisely.  In some efforts to regain control I became a bit more reclusive, which didn’t seem to be helpful as seemingly there were suddenly more things to do and problems to fix.  I’ve heard it before, but perhaps people are right when they say I’m too hard on myself. 

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from the movie Risky Business:
Sometimes you just gotta say, “What the fuck.”
If I’d actually listen to this once in a while I believe life as I make it for myself would be SO much easier…and may actually decrease the chances of my head blowing up, “Scanners” style.  You certainly can’t live every single day with that attitude, but remember it starts with “sometimes”.  My goal is to think this way - sometimes.  Things don’t always work out, plans change, life isn’t fair, and it’s impossible to be fully organized and in control all of the time.  What the fuck.  Hey, I feel better already!

In closing, I’d have to say that overall 2007 was a somewhat decent year – by no means the best, but certainly not the worst.   The job situation was certainly a setback, but outside of that most issues were minor and the good outweighed the bad.   There’s quite a bit of work for me to do – both on a business and personal level – but I feel there will be lots of good things happening next year.  I’m fortunate to have a supportive, loving family, a stable lifestyle, the motivation to move forward in a career, and a realistic view on what’s really important in life.  Unlike our Chicago Bears this year, I plan on taking that next big step on many levels in 2008!

Thank you for taking the time to read this “brief” summary, and I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year. 

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November 21, 2007

A few great Thanksgiving quotes

I know, I know...yet another "banter" that's more plagiarism than original thoughts.  Perhaps the next posting after Thanksgiving will be some deep, clever musings from my messed up mind.  Until then, guess you gotta take what I give you!

George Carlin
We're having something a little different this year for Thanksgiving. Instead of a turkey, we're having a swan. You get more stuffing.

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
Turkey: A large bird whose flesh, when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude.

Erma Bombeck, No One Diets on Thanksgiving
What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?

Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
It must be an odd feeling to be thankful to nobody in particular.Christians in public institutions often see this odd thing happening on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone in the institution seems to be thankful 'in general.' It's very strange. It's a little like being married in general.

Russell Baker
It was dramatic to watch my grandmother decapitate a turkey with an ax the day before Thanksgiving. Nowadays the expense of hiring grandmothers for the ax work would probably qualify all turkeys so honored with 'gourmet' status.

Jon Stewart
I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.

Johnny Carson
Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.

Anonymous
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

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October 27, 2007

History Lessons - Scary Stuff!
Since Halloween is just around the corner, thought I'd leave you with some scary thoughts on issues more topical and real than any vampire or ghost.  A big thanks goes out to Larry K for sending me these gems!

The "Phoney War"
I'm not necessarily a big fan of Newt Gingrich, but this four minute video is an excellent summation of the major issues we are facing today.  Click here to view the YouTube video.

The "Who Said It?" Quiz
Try to answer all the questions before looking at the answers.

1) "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
A. Karl Marx
B. Adolph Hitler
C. Joseph Stalin
D. None of the above

2) "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few...... And to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity."
A. Lenin
B. Mussolini
C. Idi Amin
D. None of the Above

3) "(We) ...can't just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people."
A. Nikita Khrushev
B. Josef Goebbels
C. Boris Yeltsin
D. None of the above

4) "We have to build a political consensus and that requires people to give up a little bit of their own .. in order to create this common ground."
A. Mao Tse Tung
B. Hugo Chavez
C. Kim Jong Il
D. None of the above

5) "I certainly think the free-market has failed."
A. Karl Marx
B. Lenin
C. Molotov
D. None of the above

6) "I think it's time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being watched."
A. Pinochet
B. Milosevic
C. Saddam Hussein
D. None of the above

Answers below...

 

 

 

(1) D  None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/29/2004
(2) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 5/29/2007
(3) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(4) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(5) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(6) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 9/2/2005

Be afraid, Be very afraid!!

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September 23, 2007

For some, football IS a religion!

Earlier this year the below article appeared in the "Dear Abby" section of the Chicago Tribune.  See, I'm not the only football freak!  For obvious reasons Laura is saving it in her scrapbook.  Though I'd share it here: 

Dear Abby: When I first read the letter from "Wounded Bride," whose father left immediately after her wedding ceremony to watch a football game on television, I thought, "What an insensitive, inconsiderate ' boor!" However, when I saw the signature, "Wounded Bride in Nebraska," I laughed. I was born and raised in Nebraska. Weddings, birthday celebrations, anniversaries, even women's C-sections are planned around the Cornhuskers' schedule. I'd cut the guy some slack.
-Reformed Cornhusker Fan, Now in Massachusetts

Dear Reformed: I told "Wounded Bride" (in essence) that her father might have been trying to send her a message about his feelings about her marriage, but she should try to forgive him and concentrate on building a successful life with her spouse. Of course, when I penned my answer, I had no idea how pervasive football fanaticism has become. Read on:

Dear Abby: Although I feel her pain, I had to chuckle. We just moved back to Colorado from Nebraska, and believe me when I say that "Husker" is the state religion. Some close friends recently planned the marriage of their son around the Cornhuskers' football schedule, and another friend was late to his own wedding because he was watching "the game."
-Br
enda in Aurora, Colo.

Dear Abby: It was the bride's own fault for scheduling her wedding during a game-day Saturday. Having grown up in Nebraska, I can tell you there are Catholic priests and Protestant ministers who refuse to perform weddings on game day.
-Former Nebraskan in Texas

Dear Abby: My in-laws' anniversary was in the fall, and we had to plan their 60th on a weekend other than game day or many guests would not have come. Heck, my father-in-law might not have come! They played the Nebraska fight song at his funeral, and everyone cried.
-Husker Fan, Rocklin, Calif.

Dear Readers: In fairness, it isn't just Nebraska football fans. Read on:

Dear Abby: The only day we could have our wedding was the day of the Pitt-Penn State game. At our reception, those guests who weren't in the bar glued to the TV had headphones plugged into their ears, either cheering or groaning at inappropriate times.
- Martha in Chicora, Pa.

Dear Abby: Brides-to-be in Oklahoma who schedule their weddings on an Oklahoma University Sooner game-day Saturday can expect low attendance.
-Sooner Fan in Oklahoma City

Dear Abby: In Texas, we schedule funerals so as not to interfere with our college football games.
-Another Father's Opinion

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September 10, 2007

So much for that great U.S. productivity!

This report totally cracked me up...especially since an employer familiar to me has always been over-the-top freaked about people using the internet and not being productive every minute of each day, using that same logic "if they spend X amount of time not working, it will cost us X amount of dollars."  C'mon already, it's time to wake up and smell the pigskin...  

Fantasy football play costs companies millions
(Reuters) By Paul Thomasch Aug 22, 2007

NEW YORK - Corporate America beware: NFL stars Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson and Tom Brady are about to cost you hundreds of millions of dollars.

The reason is many American workers can spend nearly two hours a day consumed with fantasy football teams, according to a workplace consultancy, which on Wednesday estimated the lost productivity will cost employers nationwide up to $435 million a week over the upcoming National Football League season.

Consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc cited a recent report that suggests the average fantasy football player spends 5.2 hours online each week participating in such games, which are offered by ESPN, CBS Sports and Yahoo Inc, among others. The NFL season kicks off September 6.

Challenger pointed to another report that found 60 percent of fantasy sports fans spent more than an hour each day just thinking about their fantasy team.

'There are some people who probably wait until the workday is over to strategize, make trades and manage their teams, but many are probably doing at least some of their team tasks from the office,' Chief Executive John Challenger said.

Immensely popular, fantasy football is a game in which friends create a league with teams that draft, trade or buy real life NFL players. These fantasy teams then play one another, with scores based on real-life statistics.

Challenger cited surveys that show there are roughly 10 million Americans playing fantasy football and earning between $60,000 and $100,000 per year. Using the midpoint of the salary range, Challenger calculated that fantasy sports players earn an average of $38.45 per hour, or about $6.40 per 10 minutes.

Taking all that into account, if a worker spends just 10 minutes of work time playing fantasy football each day, then it will cost employers $275 million a week. That number could easily climb as high as $435 million, Challenger said, if workers spend more than those few minutes on the game.

But Challenger said employers may want to look the other way rather than coming down too hard on fantasy football players.

'Everyday employers lose money by paying people to take smoking breaks, go to the bathroom, refill coffee mugs and make small talk around the watercooler,' the CEO said in a statement. 'Most employers understand that not every minute of every workday is dedicated to work.'

Indeed, Challenger said the damage to worker morale from banning fantasy football could prove far more costly than letting workers get away with 10 or 20 minutes of daily online team management.

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September 3, 2007

Feeling Overworked?  At least it's productive!

In celebration of LABOR DAY, I'm posting an interesting article from AP that I'm sure just by coincidence tally also appeared just in time for Labor Day reading: 

Report: U.S. Workers Are Most Productive
Sunday September 2, 11:08 PM EDT

GENEVA (AP) — American workers stay longer in the office, at the factory or on the farm than their counterparts in Europe and most other rich nations, and they produce more per person over the year.

They also get more done per hour than everyone but the Norwegians, according to a U.N. report released Monday, which said the United States "leads the world in labor productivity."

The average U.S. worker produces $63,885 of wealth per year, more than their counterparts in all other countries, the International Labor Organization said in its report. Ireland comes in second at $55,986, followed by Luxembourg at $55,641, Belgium at $55,235 and France at $54,609.

The productivity figure is found by dividing the country's gross domestic product by the number of people employed. The U.N. report is based on 2006 figures for many countries, or the most recent available.

Only part of the U.S. productivity growth, which has outpaced that of many other developed economies, can be explained by the longer hours Americans are putting in, the ILO said.

The U.S., according to the report, also beats all 27 nations in the European Union, Japan and Switzerland in the amount of wealth created per hour of work — a second key measure of productivity.

Norway, which is not an EU member, generates the most output per working hour, $37.99, a figure inflated by the country's billions of dollars in oil exports and high prices for goods at home. The U.S. is second at $35.63, about a half dollar ahead of third-place France.

Seven years ago, French workers produced over a dollar more on average than their American counterparts. The country led the U.S. in hourly productivity from 1994 to 2003.

The U.S. employee put in an average 1,804 hours of work in 2006, the report said. That compared with 1,407.1 hours for the Norwegian worker and 1,564.4 for the French.

It pales, however, in comparison with the annual hours worked per person in Asia, where seven economies — South Korea, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Thailand — surpassed 2,200 average hours per worker. But those countries had lower productivity rates.

America's increased productivity "has to do with the ICT (information and communication technologies) revolution, with the way the U.S. organizes companies, with the high level of competition in the country, with the extension of trade and investment abroad," said Jose Manuel Salazar, the ILO's head of employment.

The ILO report warned that the widening of the gap between leaders such as the U.S. and poorer nations has been even more dramatic.

Laborers from regions such as southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East have the potential to create more wealth but are being held back by a lack of investment in training, equipment and technology, the agency said.

In sub-Saharan Africa, workers are only about one-twelfth as productive as those in developed countries, the report said.

"The huge gap in productivity and wealth is cause for great concern," ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said, adding that it was important to raise productivity levels of the lowest-paid workers in the world's poorest countries.

China and other East Asian countries are catching up quickest with Western countries. Productivity in the region has doubled in the past decade and is accelerating faster than anywhere else, the report said.

But they still have a long way to go: Workers in East Asia are still only about one-fifth as productive as laborers in industrialized countries.

The vast differences among China's sectors tell part of the story. Whereas a Chinese industrial worker produces $12,642 worth of output — almost eight times more than in 1980 — a laborer in the farm and fisheries sector contributes a paltry $910 to gross domestic product.

The difference is much less pronounced in the United States, where a manufacturing employee produced an unprecedented $104,606 of value in 2005. An American farm laborer, meanwhile, created $52,585 worth of output, down 10 percent from seven years ago, when U.S. agricultural productivity peaked.

Associated Press Writer Alexander G. Higgins contributed to this report.

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July 28, 2007

AJ's First Cubs Game
With my early childhood spent in Nebraska I didn't make it out to a major league game until I was older.  My dad did play pro ball (AAA-Omaha Athletics, and umpired later) and I saw some of those when I was younger, but honestly don't remember.  My first major league experience - actually my first several - was attending White Sox games...convenient as my dad has several ties to the American league.  I liked both teams for most of my early life but really became more of a Cubs fan by the time I went to college.  Been suffering ever since!
J

  A couple months ago, a good friend of mine, Mike McMahon, called to let me know he had some tickets for the Sunday July 15th game vs. the Houston Astros.  "Let's take the boys," he said.  His oldest son (Michael) is now about 5½ and had attended a couple Cubs games when he was much younger.  AJ is 2½, but Mike said that shouldn't be a problem.  "We'll get there a bit early to walk around, have some different food each inning, and if we make it through three or four innings we'll consider it a good day."  OK, sounds like a plan!

About 11:15 the morning of the game I picked up Mike and Michael and we drove down to the game.  I did warn them beforehand that AJ hadn't taken his "poop" yet and was a bit fearful that I'd have to change him in those disgusting Wrigley Field bathrooms.  Anyway, we ended up parking right off of Clark at one of those $30 lots, but it was an "easy out" and not even two blocks away.  Grabbed the diaper bag and we're off to the game.  AJ was wowed by all the people but more impressed with the seats, which he continued to flip up and down, stand on, sit down, jump back up, etc.  He was quiet during the national anthem and clapped at the end with the rest of the crowd.  He clapped when the Cubs took the field.  Bought a pop for the two kids while Mike got us a couple beers. Time to play ball.

The feeding frenzy begins...the kids start by sharing a large pop and a large pretzel.  Shortly thereafter they each get a hot dog (AJ ate about 2/3 of his).  Both were asking for cotton candy but we said "later."  Next up, some Cracker Jacks.  Then, another hot dog (amazingly, AJ had about half).  At that time he wanted to walk around, and as the Cubs were quickly down 5-0, seemed like a good time. 

We walked all the way down the first base side to the end corner of the outfield.  At one point during our walk, AJ - who thought he was going to get to play baseball today - said "When I older......I play out there".  "You mean out on that field, AJ?" I replied, pointing to Wrigley.  "Yeah, when I older" he reiterated.  "Well, I certainly hope so!" was all I could say in return.  Such aspirations as age 2½, and perhaps by the time HE plays the Cubs will have already won a World Series.  OK, that's still wishful thinking at MY age!

The Cubs made a hell of a comeback, with a couple homers by Pagan and Lee to tie up the game.  Most of this we saw while walking, and before getting back to our seats AJ spotted the cotton candy vendor.  Gotta get some now, and as I was paying the man AJ takes the bag and starts booking down the walkway.  After catching him, we went back to the seats.  AJ chowed down on the cotton candy, stopping a few times to wipe off his hands, and about fifteen minutes later pukes up just about everything he had eaten at the park.  Fortunately not too messy as I caught most of it in an empty beer cup.  I guess the maintenance crew has cleaned up worse...

Hey, the boy never did have to poop during the game.  What a lucky break for both of us!

 The top of the fifth inning rolls around; the Cubs had just taken a 7-6 lead, and AJ says "I want to go bye-bye now."  Little Michael felt the same, so the decision was made for us.  After leaving the park we stopped across the street from Wrigley and picked up some souvenirs, which included AJ's first Cubs hat.  The way back included a quick White Castle stop, though AJ had already fallen asleep.  It was probably best not to expose him to that after the trauma done on his stomach earlier in the day, though it would definitely would have helped him take his crap.

So overall it was a very pleasant experience.  Unfortunately AJ probably won't remember much of it as he gets older, but we'll have the pictures and the hat to prove he was there.  Of course the memories are what's truly priceless.

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June 22, 2007

Interesting Forecasts
My "banter" remains unoriginal for yet another posting, but this one was too "interesting" to leave behind (pun intended).  Plus, it's long enough to fill up time until I do my next main update!  The following will serve as a reminder that perhaps some of our current wisdom may, in reality, be really stupid...

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
--Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
--Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
--Chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
--The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?"
--Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
--President, Chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
--Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
--David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."
--A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
--Warner Brothers, 1927.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."
--Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."
--Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
--President, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this."
--Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we' ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'"
--Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."
--1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training."
--Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
--Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
--Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
--Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
--Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".
--Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the
intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon."

--British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
-- Bill Gates, 1981

Thank you to Pete Wheeler for this gem!

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June 3, 2007

Another unoriginal posting that wouldn't really count as a blog, but it's filling up this space while I come up with something else to write about for future postings.  This was passed along to me from at least three different sources...and even though we're almost halfway through 2007 it's not too late to share it here.

You know you are living in 2007 when... 

1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television as a web site at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.

11. You can't remember the last time you were inside your bank, as all your transactions are direct deposits, online or via ATM.

12. You're reading this, and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9 on this list.

And now you are laughing at yourself (LOL)!

OK, pretty lame, but it's a quick post!

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May 20, 2007

The "F" Word

I've been fairly accused of using FUCK way too often when speaking.  Hey, can I help it if I'm Italian?  But seriously, it's one of the most flexible, useful and forceful words in our language.  Don't believe me?  Well, perhaps these funny definitions of the word will convince you (it's in Flash format, and you need to have your sound enabled).  Also, here's ten times when using the "f" word was probably acceptable:

10. "What the @#$% was that?" - Mayor Of Hiroshima, 1945

9. "Where did all those @#$%ing Indians come from?" - Custer, 1877

8. "Any @#$%ing idiot could understand that." - Einstein, 1938

7. "It does so @#$%ing look like her!" -Picasso, 1926

6. "How the @#$% did you work that out?" - Pythagoras, 126 BC

5. "Geez, how do I get out of this @#$%ing mess." - George Bush, 2006

4. "Where the @#$% are we?" - Amelia Earhart, 1937

3. "Scattered @#$%ing showers, my ass!" - Noah, 4314 BC

2. "Aw c'mon. Who the @#$% is going to find out?" - Bill Clinton, 1999

1. "You want WHAT on the @#$%ing ceiling?" - Michelangelo, 1566

Thanks to Camille for sending me the "top ten"!

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April 29, 2007

DON'T use AOL (at least the e-mail)

I'm going to be very straightforward - America Online SUCKS on many levels, but primarily when it comes to one of the most basic but essential tools, e-mail.  This is not just a random, blind statement on my part; there are some serious issues with the service that are known throughout the industry.  Hopefully for those of you still using AOL will consider changing to a different source, at least for e-mail...unless you'd occasionally rather not receive legitimate messages from friends, work, or just about any other ones you want to receive. 

The reason I'm writing this is in response to an incident that recently happened to me.  Yes, I had some messages blocked (both business and personal), and it was not because of any mass mailings or SPAM problems on my end.  It was due to a lousy business practice that AOL uses to "protect" their customers.  AOL's blessing and problem is that they are very concerned with SPAM issues, so much in fact that they can and will end up blocking legitimate mail from showing up.  Basically, AOL monitors the amount of "spam" complaints and if they reach a certain level, that IP address is blocked from further messages (either temporary or permanently, depending on the perceived severity).  The problem with blocking entire IP addresses is that this typically is an ENTIRE mail server, which can contain thousands of different e-mail addresses belonging to different people.  Thus, one person can cause problems for countless others.  Why not just block a certain address?  Well, therein lies the lousy business practice as mentioned.

The following links are just a few articles that provide some REAL information on the problem:
http://www.60-seconds.com/188_AOL_gone_bad.html

http://membrane.com/security/AOL_abuse.html

http://news.com.com/2100-1030_3-6061089.html

http://www.dmsiusa.com/aol.htm

http://www.wanttoknow.info/070407aolcensorshipemaillists

http://ryowebsite.com/email/aol-email-forwarding/

What makes AOL even worse is their customer service, which ranks dead last in customer satisfaction ratings (this is reported via such publications as Consumer Reports, PC World and other reputable sources).  Complaining literally will go unnoticed and unresolved.  Absolutely amazing...it's almost as if they really didn't care...which is funny in that they seem to care TOO much about spam!

There are other reasons to avoid using AOL, such as their sometimes slow sync with the rest of the regular internet world. Note that everything through AOL's software comes through their servers, which often don't update quickly.  I've had instances in the past where I've updated a website, and people who were trying to access it through AOL wouldn't see that update for hours or a full day later.  That's not a joke, and it's happened numerous times.  There a reason for this (child/content filtering) but for any adult users they should not be subject to this type of extremely poor service. 

Listen, I can go on and on, but to keep this shorter will wrap it up here.  My complaints are not based on inexperience and news articles I've read.  I'm a long-time user of AOL and actually signed up way back in 1992...at the time it was sort of a lesser service called "Chicago Online" that tied into a rapidly growing AOL.  At this point I really have no use for them at all, and never liked their e-mail service from the start.  Of course the AOL service is free now (if you don't need them for dial-up needs), but frankly you have much better e-mail options available.  Though none are perfect, YAHOO, GMail and Hotmail are significantly more reliable and also free.   

 The unreliability of message delivery should be enough to have any current users rushing to quickly make the change.  I strongly encourage it, and that's my public service announcement for the week!

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April 22, 2007

Quick Hits on some current news

Virginia Tech
What can I say that hasn't already been talked about over the past week?  Well, first and foremost my heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of all the victims.  I couldn't even imagine something so horrible happening to someone I know, much less my own son.  All you can do is hope we learn from this awful experience and that future type of situations can be prevented.  Unfortunately it's far from a perfect world...

This guy who took it upon himself to shoot up the place, Seung-Hui Cho, is the poster child for why abortion should remain legal.  He was obviously a deranged loser who took the time to plan some sort of massive revenge for all the ill wills in his life.  Apparently he believed it was everyone else's fault for these life problems, so he decided it was necessary to do something drastic and horrible.  Nobody should feel sorry for this guy, ever.  Don't try to understand him, don't try to see things from his point of view, don't try to claim he was insane or disturbed and needed help.  From everything I've read he HAD the chances to get help.  He was nothing more than a monster who planned and executed these nonsensical killings.  32 good people are dead because of one lousy individual.  Cho got off easy and killed himself, taking the loser way out...how fitting.  At least it's one less case that won't unnecessarily jam up our legal system.     

Brown's Chicken
Speaking of legal systems...this subject I've covered in my last banter, along with a document that chronicles several important dates from January 1993 through the present.  The good news is that the trial is under way, and even the OJ Simpson jurors would find these killers guilty as charged.  Let's hope this first case (Juan Luna) is over quickly, get to the other guy (Degorski) and get it over quickly as well...give the families some closure and let Palatine put this tragedy behind it for good.

Don Imus & Racism
I'm not sure what was funnier:  1) the Rutgers girls actually caring what a washed-up 66 year old radio guy had to say about them (one amazingly claimed she was "scarred for life", setting up a possible pain and suffering future lawsuit), 2) Imus going on the show of one of our nations biggest racists (Al Sharpton) to explain his words, or 3) Imus being too stupid and arrogant to just admit that he made a mistake and apologize already!  Whatever...the funniest comment wasn't even "Nappy Headed Ho", it was one of his sidekicks claming while watching the Rutgers team play, that "I thought I was watching the Toronto Raptors."  Food for thought: timing is everything.  The decrepit old man was about two weeks too early with his comments.  Had this happened this past week it may have been glossed over and forgotten as Virginia Tech dominated the headlines.  Whatever, bad things eventually happen to bad people. 

American Idol
I'm secure enough in my manhood to admit I watch American Idol.  It's entertaining and goofy enough to warrant the sometimes painfully long shows (actually they're short but over 1/3 of the time is all commercials).  Regardless of whether you love or hate American Idol, www.votefortheworst.com has made it all the more fun...they've been around since season #3, but this year it's really gained momentum with Howard Stern jumping on the bandwagon.  Unfortunately the VFTW favorite Sanjaya, who made it into the top seven, was voted off last week.  So what - there's always some other crappy singer waiting in the wings.  Check out the site, you'll find it hysterical!

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April 8, 2007

The Browns Chicken Massacre...closure coming soon?

I remember my roommate waking me up very early that Saturday morning on January 9, 1993, telling me she heard on the news that a bunch of bodies had been found in the Browns Chicken on Rt. 14 and Smith Road.  With a strangely morbid type of curiosity, we got in our car and drove the couple miles to the place...basically just seeing several squad cars and quite a bit of early morning commotion outside the building.  The news in the papers and on the networks over the following days was seemingly non-stop.  This all seemed surreal, since I had lived in Palatine for almost twenty years at the time and these terrible events happened so close to home.

I remember all the grief the Palatine police force received for the investigation, and how frustrating it seemed for a couple of my friends who were on the force but weren't even on duty the night it happened.  It seemed that my home town of Palatine had some sort of embarrassing stigma on it due to the inability to find the killers responsible for this atrocity.

I remember that Browns Chicken never opening again (not really a surprise) and eventually turning into a Dry Cleaners...and being that I moved to a townhouse just a quarter mile away, I ended up using it quite often.  It always seemed creepy that the building where all these horrible things happened was still there.  Though having moved a few years prior, I recall the day in 2001 when they finally demolished the building - a job that was requested and fully funded by the property owners of the small shopping mall where it sat.

I remember nine years after the killings, in 2002, when two arrests were finally made - James Degorski and Juan Luna (Fremd High School graduates as well, wow).  Thanks to testimony from an old girlfriend of James, then a videotaped confession from Juan confessing to the killings and outlining things that only the police would have known.  At last, it seemed that justice would be served....though since our court system moves so slow, how quickly was yet to be determined.

Over the past couple weeks you may have heard about the jury selection process beginning for scumbag #1 (Luna) as they have split the trials into two separate ones.  Here's a series of articles from the Chicago Tribune (in Adobe Acrobat format) that I put together, covering some of the major news stories during the time.  You may find it interesting, and if you were from the NW suburban area of Chicago you will also remember the happenings. 

I didn't know any of the people who were murdered, but hope that this will finally bring their families some much needed closure.  The evidence on the two accused of the crimes is so solid that there seems to be no doubt whatsoever on their guilt.  Thank God.  Let's hope the trials go quickly and these two loser assholes get everything they deserve.

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March 25, 2007

Let's Go Cubs!!!
With opening day right around the corner, all of us Cubs fans have our yearly renewed hopes of finally getting over the hump and winning the World Series.  Will they do it this year?  Doubtful of course, but stranger things have happened.  Anyway, to lighten the mood, here's a list of twenty major events that have occurred since the Chicago Cubs last laid claim to a World Series championship:

1. Radio was invented; Cubs fans got to hear their team lose.

2. TV was invented; Cubs fans got to see their team lose.

3. Baseball added 14 teams; Cubs fans get to see and hear their team lose to more clubs.

4. George Burns celebrated his 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th and 100th birthdays.

5. Haley's comet passed Earth twice.

6. Harry Caray was born....and died. Incredible, but true.

7. The NBA, NHL and NFL were formed, and Chicago teams won championships in each league.

8. Man landed on the moon, as have several home runs given up by Cubs pitchers.

9. Sixteen U.S. presidents were elected.

10. There were 11 amendments added to the Constitution.

11. Prohibition was created and repealed.

12. The Titanic was built, set sail, sank, was discovered and became the subject of major motion pictures, the latest giving Cubs fans hope that something that finishes on the bottom can come out on top.

13. Wrigley Field was built and becomes the oldest park in the National League.

14. Flag poles were erected on Wrigley Field roof to hold all of the team's future World Series pennants. Those flag poles have since rusted and been taken down.

15. A combination of 40 Summer and Winter Olympics have been held.

16. Thirteen baseball players have won the Triple Crown; several thanked Cubs pitchers.

17. Bell-bottoms came in style, went out of style and came back in.

18. The Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and the Florida Marlins have all won the World Series.

19. The Cubs played 14,153 regular-season games; they lost the majority of them.

20. Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Oklahoma and New Mexico were added to the Union.

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March 11, 2007

A Year Without a Mom
It’s been a while since I’ve actually written anything original for this section, but this seemed an appropriate time and subject matter to get me started again. Admittedly we (as in my family) were all a bit messed up emotionally about this time last year, and with the anniversary coming up those feelings tend to return. But wait - if you’re reading this, don’t think this will be some sad, gloomy story…for the most part it will be quite the opposite.

There’s been lots of changes since last March 15th in the lives of our immediate family. The most dramatic has been for my dad, for obvious reasons. Even though the support has been there from family and friends, adjusting to life on his own hasn’t been easy and he really can’t hide the sadness. Despite much talk about cutting back and entering semi-retirement, he got back into work with a vengeance. This tends to occupy most of his time, which would worry me if I didn’t understand that he really likes work and is very, very good at it. Frankly the man doesn’t have a lot of hobbies, and the company is doing quite well, so this isn’t really a bad thing. Additionally, I’ve noticed that in the last several months he’s become quite a bit more social outside of work…you know, making new friends, golf outings, trips, etc. Let’s not forget about the new cars! It’s also nice to have his second home close by. Yes, he is doing much better, but it’s still a long healing process. However, he has lots of friends and family that loves him, so whatever the future holds it can be assured that even with this great loss he’ll never be lonely.

My sister has made great strides at work and seems to really enjoy it. Of course there’s Isabella to keep her and Steve busy, plus there’s the great news on their current pregnancy. My mom would have been thrilled to see how well my sister has done both professionally and with her family (heck, we all are proud of her). It is just a shame that California is such a long way away from Florida and Illinois, but we talk often and have visited back & forth a few times over the past year. Though this whole ordeal has been very tough on my sister (plus add in the loss of their pet bulldog last fall), generally she’s been great at handling it all.  I’m sure the family support from us and her husband has played a big factor in the healing.

As for myself, most of the big adjustments were career-based as I finally took steps to make changes to my life that I really needed. There’s great things to come in this area and I know I’ve made the right decision (the job discussion will continue on another day). Suffice to say that when you learn that life can be too short, it’s easier to take those risks knowing that the reward can be well worth it. Fatherhood is wonderful and I look forward to spending time with AJ every day. I think my mom would have been proud to see his development, and ours as parents. Perhaps we’ll be blessed with another one, but even if that doesn’t happen we have a great, healthy, happy family. With that in mind, I must thank Laura for putting up with me, which I know isn’t an easy task at any time. It’s been even more trying this past year, but without her love and support I might not have kept it all together as well as I’d like to think I’ve done. Even to this day it’s strange not hearing my mom’s voice, be it a call at work or some random, rambling message on our answering machine. Yes, I miss her terribly…I was her son, her first born, and not having your mother is an awful feeling. Fortunately we always had a strong connection, and I have been at peace with her passing, which I know is exactly what she expected of me.

Since my mom’s illness, we’ve come together very strong as a family, and since her passing we’ve made our adjustments and are doing very well. Life goes on, and all my mom really wanted for us was to be happy, healthy and secure. Mom, you’ve got your wish. Somewhere, wherever she may be, I know she’s smiling.

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February 25, 2007

Some random funnies
One of these days I'll have the time to do some real writing, but with catching up on picture postings plus other real work, these will have to do for now...

Nine Things I Hate About Everyone

1. People who point at their wrist while asking for the time.... I know where my watch is pal, where the hell is yours? Do I point at my crotch when I ask where the toilet is?

2 People who are willing to get off their ass to search the entire room for the T.V. remote because they refuse to walk to the T.V. and change the channel manually.

3 When people say "Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too". Damn right! What good is cake if you can't eat it?

4 When people say "it's always the last place you look". Of course it is. Why the hell would you keep looking after you've found it? Do people do this? Who and where are they? Gonna Kick their asses!

5 When people say while watching a film "did you see that?". No Loser, I paid $12 to come to the cinema and stare at the damn floor.

6 People who ask "Can I ask you a question?".... Didn't really give me a choice there, did ya sunshine?

7. When something is 'new and improved!' Which is it? If it's new, then there has never been anything before it. If it's an improvement, then there must have been something before it, couldn't be new.

8 When people say "life is short". What the hell?? Life is the longest damn thing anyone ever does!! What can you do that's longer?

9 When you are waiting for the bus and someone asks "Has the bus come yet?". If the bus came would I be standing here, dumbass?

(thanks goes out to Camille for the above!)

Pharmacology

In Pharmacology, all drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name. For example, the trade name of Tylenol also has a generic name of Acetaminophen. Aleve is also called Naproxen. Amoxil is also call Amoxicillin and Advil is also called Ibuprofen.

The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra. After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin. Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and of course, Ibepokin.

Pfizer Corp. announced today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer. It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one. Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of "cocktails", "highballs" and just a good old-fashioned "stiff drink". Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: MOUNT & DO.

Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

(thanks goes out to Elayne for the above!)

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February 6, 2007

What the...
Confused about the Bears play calling & execution in the Super Bowl?  Well, get over it and see if the following thought provoking questions make any sense:

Can you cry under water?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

Why do you have to "put your two cents in".. . but it's only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?

Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

What disease did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours?

If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?
Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?

If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!

If Wiley E Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn't he just buy dinner?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Why did you just try singing the two songs above?

Why do they call it an asteroid when it's outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemorrhoid when it's in your ass?

 (thanks to Pete Wheeler for this submission!)

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January 27, 2007

It's all about the BEARS for now!
In honor of the Chicago Bears going to Super Bowl XLI, here are 41 things that have changed from the last time the Chicago Bears played in the Super Bowl (XX, in 1986):

  1. Brian Urlacher was in 2nd grade. Rex Grossman was in kindergarten.
  2. Peyton Manning was 10 years old. Eli Manning was 5 years old. Their dad, Archie, had just retired from the NFL two years earlier.
  3. Lovie Smith was in his first college coaching job at University of Tulsa.
  4. Ronald Reagan was the President, and Harold Washington was the Mayor. James R. Thompson was the Governor running for re-election and his office was in the new State of Illinois Center, which is now called the James R. Thompson Center.
  5. George W. Bush was 39 years old and still drinking. His father would run for President two years later.
  6. Rod Blagojevich was just out of law school and was a low-level prosecutor working for the Cook County State's Attorney, Richard M. Daley.
  7. Barack Obama had just moved to Illinois, and Osama bin Laden was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.
  8. Red Grange and Sid Luckman were still alive.
  9. The Colts had just moved to Indianapolis from Baltimore and were the doormat of the AFC EAST. The Bears were the champions of the NFC CENTRAL.
  10. Property in Wicker Park and Bucktown was cheap because they were really bad neighborhoods.
  11. CD players, cellular phones and fax machines were expensive, cutting edge technology and only a few people used them.
  12. "Surfing the net" meant a volleyball game at the beach, and virtually no one used the "@" key on their TYPEWRITER.
  13. Sam Walton was still alive and was wealthier than Bill Gates. Windows were panes of glass...not a computer operating system that was a pain in something that rhymes with glass.
  14. The Soviet Union was our main enemy, and Saddam Hussein was our ally.
  15. There were no lights at Wrigley Field, and the oldest park in baseball belonged to the White Sox.
  16. Michael Jordan and Ozzie Guillen had just finished their "Rookie of the Year" seasons. Jordan's coach was Stan Albeck and Guillen's manager was Tony LaRussa. (Three out of four of those guys are now wearing championship rings, but what ever happened to Stan Albeck???)
  17. Soldier Field had AstroTurf. The Houston Oilers played in the AstroDome.
  18. The Fox TV Network didn't exist, and ESPN had yet to air a single live pro football, baseball, or basketball game.
  19. MTV played music and so did some AM radio stations.
  20. Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff weren't born yet; Jackie Gleason and Richard Nixon were still alive.
  21. Hillary Clinton had dark hair and was the First Lady......of Arkansas!
  22. "The Love Boat" and "Diff'rent Strokes" were still on network TV every week.
  23. Martin Luther King Day was about to be celebrated as a National Holiday for the first time. "9-11" was a phone number many cities were just adopting for emergency calls - not a date of terror.
  24. I-88 was called "Illinois Rt. 5" and I-355 hadn't been built yet.
  25. What the CTA now calls "The Blue Line" had just been extended to O'Hare, and the Orange Line to Midway hadn't been built yet.
  26. Q101 played adult contemporary music and most teenagers listened to WLS. Music from the 70s and 80s wasn't "retro" yet.
  27. Tiger Woods hadn't won an amateur golf tournament yet.
  28. Most people knew Seattle just as a city in the Northwest U.S. - not the home of grunge or Starbucks.
  29. Only Southerners went to NASCAR races and only Northerners went to NHL games.
  30. The Chicago area had no Wal-Marts, Targets or Home Depots, and Walgreen's was only in the Midwest.
  31. Depending on your bank, your ATM card was good at only "Cash Station" machines or only at "Money Network" machines, but there were no fees.
  32. "The Phone Company" was Illinois Bell.
  33. They still sold leaded gasoline and you couldn't pay for your gas at the pump.
  34. Discover Card hadn't been discovered yet, and Miller Genuine Draft hadn't been brewed yet.
  35. Stereo TVs were the rage that HDTVs are now. 8-track tapes were still being made.
  36. All of the Blockbuster Video stores that are now closing hadn't opened yet. Betamax was still competing with VHS.
  37. You paid cash for your groceries and fast food, and you used a travel agent to book airline flights.
  38. Bowl games didn't have corporate sponsors, and if the #1 ranked team was in a conference that played in one bowl game and the #2 ranked team was in a conference that played in another bowl game, then so be it! They let the sportswriters vote on the national champion. (and no college football games were played after New Year's Day)
  39. The Baltimore Ravens were the Cleveland Browns. The Tennessee Titans were the Houston Oilers. The Oakland Raiders were the Los Angeles Raiders that had just left Oakland. The Arizona Cardinals (the former Phoenix Cardinals) were the St. Louis Cardinals, and the St. Louis Rams were the Los Angeles Rams. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and the Cleveland Browns (not to be confused with the Cleveland Browns that are now the Baltimore Ravens) didn't exist. The Seattle Seahawks (last year's NFC Champions) played in the AFC.
  40. Number 9 on the Bears was their Punky QB...not their perky field goal kicker.
  41. There were no iPods - just Sony Walkmen - so if you said something about a "shuffle" on your Walkman, they assumed you were listening to "The Super Bowl Shuffle"

Thanks to Patty Creager for sending this to me!

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December 31, 2006

Remembering the year...

There's so much that happens in a year it's hard to remember most of it.  Some things are fond memories, others you really want to forget.  I probably speak for many of us when I say it's hard to remember what happened just a week ago, much less what was going on last spring!  However, here's one enjoyable way to reminisce on 2006 - for a humorous month-by-month review of the year, click here to check out Dave Barry's article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on 12/31.  Funny stuff to prod your memory, and you'll be glad you read it!

At the end of every year there's always the loss of people to remember.  As I'm sure you know, 2006 was quite tough for me and my family as we lost my mom.  Following is a list of others of note who have died throughout the past year.  It's in a somewhat random order...and perhaps with the one exception of Saddam Hussein, most are sad...
 

Gerald R. Ford
President
1913 - 2006

Coretta Scott King
Civil Rights Activist
1927 - 2006

Dana Reeve
Actress, Activist for Disabled
1961 - 2006

James Brown
Singer
1933 - 2006

Steve Irwin
Conservationist, TV Star
1962 - 2006

Floyd Patterson
Boxer
1935 - 2006

Robert Altman
Director
1925 - 2006

Ann Richards
Former Texas Governor
1933 - 2006

Bruno Kirby
Actor
1949 - 2006

Betty Friedan
Feminist, Author
1921 - 2006

Ed Bradley
Journalist
1941 - 2006

Peter Boyle
Actor
1935 - 2006

Lloyd Bentsen
Former U.S. Senator
1921 - 2006

Shelley Winters
Actress
1920 - 2006

Syd Barrett
Rock Musician
1946 - 2006

Don Knotts
Actor
1924 - 2006
Red Auerbach
Coach
1917 - 2006

Mickey Spillane
Author
1918 - 2006

Milton Friedman
Economist
1912 - 2006

Aaron Spelling
Producer
1923 - 2006

Kirby Puckett
Baseball Player
1960 - 2006

Louis Rukeyser
Journalist
1933 - 2006

Wilson Pickett
Singer
1941 - 2006

Patricia Kennedy Lawford
Socialite
1924 - 2006

Byron Nelson
Golfer
1912 - 2006

Paul Gleason
Actor
1939 - 2006

Buck O'Neil
Baseball Player
1911 - 2006

Jack Palance
Actor
1919 - 2006

Mke Douglas
Talk Show Host
1925 - 2006

Lou Rawls
Singer
1933 - 2006

Curt Gowdy
Sportscaster
1919 - 2006

Saddam Hussein
Dictator
1937 - 2006

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December 13, 2006

A cool Rick Reilly "rant"
The following has been "borrowed" from Sports Illustrated, and being the sometimes-gamer myself it's too good not to share.  Of course if you get SI, this is the article on the last page of the latest (December 18) edition.  Enjoy!

Thumbing Their Way to the Top
Rick Reilly, December 18th 2006

I know what you're thinking because I used to think it too. Do I really want to buy a $600 PlayStation 3 for my 11-year-old for Christmas? Do I really want him sitting there 24/7, killing aliens and brain cells and the springs in my Barcalounger? And the answer is: Damn straight, you do!

You do because you want a snappy new Cadillac like the one the world's most famous video gamer, Fatal1ty, bought his dad.

You do because you want your son to get a $250,000 endorsement contract, the kind that 19-year-old Tsquared inked with a gaming league.

You do because you want your kid to make enough to pay for his college education before he hits middle school, like eight-year-old LiL Poison is doing.

You'd know all this if you'd been at the World Series of Video Games finals last weekend at Chelsea Piers in New York City. Gamers from all over the world were flown in, put up in a Hilton, fed like Trumps and given chances to win $20,000, Rolexes and gaming computers. And you, too, would've said, in the words of Phil Mickelson, "What an idiot I am!"

All those years I was yelling at my kids, "Get off the damn computer games and clean your room!" What I should've been yelling was, "Get back on the computer games! I'll clean your damn room!"

Take Fatal1ty (Johnathan Wendel), who was the runner-up in Quake 4. A 25-year-old college dropout, he grosses almost $1 million a year. He has groupies. He has his own line of gaming hardware and apparel. He's the Michael Jordan of the twitchy-thumb set.

In fact, the more you hang out with "e-athletes," as video gamers are called, the more you see how they're like the "me-athletes" you're used to. Like them, gamers are self-obsessed workout freaks who eat right. Like them, gamers use performance enhancers, such as coffee and Red Bull. (Some, it's widely suspected, use the ADHD drug Adderall.) Like them, gamers talk trash. During the wild Halo 2 match between XiT Woundz and Shook On3 Gaming, there were shouts of "Dude, you're hellaweak!" (That's an insult.) And "Damn, I am so sick!" (That's a boast.)

Oh, and like them, gamers love blowing off reporters.

"Uh, Fatal1ty doesn't like to talk on game days," his publicist told me. "Maybe you could submit your questions?"

O.K. Question 1: Could he byte me?

Anyway, the main reason to get your kids off the geometry and onto the joystick might be this one: The better they get at video games, the more you get to hang out with them.

Take LoSt-CaUzE (Rafik Bryant). "It's definitely brought us even closer," says his dad, Harold, who's working less as the president of his own mortgage brokerage company and more as LoSt-CaUzE's business manager. And this is a guy who once hid his son's computer in the closet to get him to do his homework.

"My mom wasn't really that cool with [video games] at first," says Tsquared (Tom Taylor), a high school dropout whose Str8 Rippin team won Halo 2. "But then I came home one day from a tournament when I was 15 and slapped a $500 check down on the kitchen counter and said, 'Well, Mom? Whaddya think now?'"

Now he's got an online business with 13 employees, including 10 who teach people how to play Halo 2. (For $115 an hour, Tsquared will teach you himself.) Now he pays his mom rent to stay in her house in Jupiter, Fla., while he decides where to buy his own crib.

"Our living room usually has 10 TVs going at all times and kids lying all over," says Chris Howard, team manager of XiT Woundz and dad of two of the team's stars. Sounds like hell? O.K., when's the last time your 17-year-old brought home a limited edition Scion xB?

At least these guys aren't out in the streets. And they aren't boozebags or recreational drug users. Video games are their drugs. And, besides, what's the point of fighting them? Like you're going to stop them anyway?

"My dad and I had a huge falling out over it," says gaming star moto (Dave Geffon), 24. "He'd yell, 'You're ruining your life!' ... And it wasn't until he was dying [of cancer] that I finally started talking to him again.... But me, I just decided life's too short to spend it doing something that doesn't make you happy."

And me, I decided the next time the kids get out the controllers, I'm going to dust off my sick Atari skills and jump in.

After all, why be the wackness (insult) when you can be the pimp sheezy (boast)?

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December 6, 2006

A few random thoughts...
Figured it was time to post a few new topics, just three this time.

Kudos to my dad
After what has turned out to be a very tough year, the old man appears to finally be having some fun.  He recently went to Las Vegas with some old friends (stayed at the Bellagio) and didn't lose any money.  Several weeks ago he was up in Milwaukee for a festival which included a ton of beer.  He's also been on some golf outings that have lasted more than just a day, and is hanging out with some of his many friends.  He's also spending lots of quality time with us and my sisters family, and seems to be adapting very well to the grandfather role (now if we can just get him to change a dirty diaper).  Heck, he even took my wife and sister clothes shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday - on that Friday and Saturday of all days! To get away from the Chicago weather and the office, he still has his Florida home and of course California to visit.  Life goes on, and yes it can be very good.

November 30th would have been my mom and dad's 43rd wedding anniversary, and of course this first holiday season without mom will be tough on all of us.  However, it's good to see my dad taking a positive turn which will help during this season and the new year.  I am asked often about my dad and how he's doing.  Of course he's still hurting like all of us, and he probably always will, but YES I'm happy to say that he seems to be doing well.   

And the most overrated college team in 2006 is...
...Notre Dame. Why? Well, let's see...they entered the season with tremendously high hopes and pretty much every poll had them ranked between #1 - #3. THIS was the year! An explosive offense with Heisman candidate Brady Quinn at the helm. AND, with "Genius" Charlie Weis coaching, there was no way they'd finish with less than a championship this year. Looks like that embarrassment against Ohio State in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl is far behind em...

...unfortunately someone forgot about the defense. Oh, and that they can't play Stanford and Army every week. They only had two losses, but they were sure doozies - complete domination by Michigan and another ass pounding at the hands of USC. Let's not forget the miracle comeback vs. Michigan State and the late heroics vs. UCLA, two games they could (and should) have lost. They beat exactly one ranked team (Penn State, #17 at the time), and at the end of the regular season NO team they beat is currently ranked. So much for a championship caliber football program.

They finish the regular season a solid #11 in the AP, Coaches Poll and BCS standings...but good for the Irish, they still secure a major bowl game nod. Admittedly it will be fun to watch them get thrashed in the Sugar Bowl vs. #4 LSU, which is basically a home game for the Tigers. ND hasn't won a bowl game in their last eight tries, and this will likely be #9. By the way, the latest line is somewhere between -7 to -9 (LSU) depending on the source.

New before those of my friends who are ND fans (there are several) decide to jump all over me on this writeup, keep in mind I'm not necessarily trying to piss you off...I'm just pointing out the facts.  There seems to be too many ND fanatics out there that deservedly should be brought back to earth.  Sure, you can give me crap about Nebraska, but they didn't come into this season with the same expectations.  You know it and I know it, but can the real ND fans deal with it?

Saturday Night Live, temporarily reborn
I've been a big fan of the show since I was a kid, but admittedly I usually feel like I'm wasting my time watching it (thank you TIVO for the ability to fast forward and quickly delete). We are know that this show has really taken a downturn, and this season seems to be shaping up as one of the all-time worst.  However, a few weeks ago they produced a true gem.  If you missed it, look for the rerun featuring Alec Baldwin as the host.  From start to finish, as a whole this was arguably the most entertaining SNL in the past few YEARS.  Many surprise special guests and most skits had me laughing out loud.  The musical guest, the "new" (non-dirty) Christina Aguilera, was also very good, especially when doing a duet with Tony Bennett.  If you ever liked the show, you won't be disappointed... 

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November 29, 2006
SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM...
Has anyone noticed the recent glut of investment SPAM that’s coming from random but seemingly real names? I have several e-mail addresses (both personal and business) that seemed to be inundated daily with this crap. In fact in the course of a day I received junk mail from Tanya Day, Kyle Murillo, Jackie Parra, Mindy Huber, Reyna Eldridge, Avis Fair, Phil Jack, Greta Wood, Landon Phoenix, Otis Groves, Mitzi Givens, Floyd Burkett, Dora Stratton, Arlene McKinney, Russell Cordova, Patrick Kendall, Maryanny Worley, Kip Rankin and Jeanette Pollock…of course I know none of these “people” but eventually some random configuration may sound familiar, which is what the sender hopes happens as you may then open it. Here’s an example:

-----Original Message-----
From: Tanya Day [mailto:deboraht@boygenius.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 12:06 PM
To: bryan@mcgonigal.org
Subject: Tanya wrote:

We have brought you winner after winner this year and things are only become better!

We called it! APWL is up BIG on huge volume. We hope you took a position early and are smiling right now. If you didn't, not to worry. The big spike is expected also on Tuesday, November 28. Get in now!

The twenty one century house is one in which broadband is available in every room. Video streams to wherever you choose to watch it. Home appliances are seamlessly integrated into a comprehensive network.

This is already a reality for the wealthy, and is just now becoming a booming business as it spreads to the middle class house. Our next feature makes this all possible, and is bringing it to the world

CompanyAdvanced Powerline Technologies
Sym: APWL
Current Price: 0.10 Up (20.48%)
Short Term Target: 0.27
Long Term Target: 1.10

An incredible press release is expected out of the company very soon. This will be backed up by a PR blitz and I'm sure you can guess what will happen to the price of this stock! Tech companies blast off on news like this. Get in before this one takes off and ride it all the way to the bank!

The funny thing is that you can’t reply as the e-mail addresses being used are random ones illegally “borrowed” to serve as the necessary working, reply-to address. Unscrupulous individual have their systems scour the net and workgroups looking for valid addresses, which they in turn use both as SPAM targets and as the person sending it! In the example above, whoever deboraht@boygenius.com is, she most likely never sent that message herself but will end up the target of angry replies.

Unfortunately there are enough idiots that actually read and BUY the crap in SPAM messages to make the efforts worthwhile. Additionally, due to the way these are generated with names and various generic titles, this makes it remarkably hard for SPAM filters to weed them out.  Since they're not really coming from the addresses listed, as with any SPAM message replying back is not only strongly discouraged but futile.  SO, if you're getting them already, there’s not much you can do other than to keep on top of your "delete" key...and for God's sake, don't EVER throw your money away on these shit stocks!

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November 19, 2006
Thanksgiving Trivia

Tis the season...a brief collection of both well-known and obscure facts about Thanksgiving.  Gobble Gobble!

When was the first Thanksgiving celebration held?
The Plymouth Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving celebration in the fall of 1621.

What was the reason for holding a Thanksgiving celebration?
On December 11, 1620 the first Pilgrims (or Puritans, as they were initially known) landed at Plymouth Rock. By the fall of 1621, of the hundred or so passengers who had sailed on the Mayflower, only half were still alive. (Of these, only four were adult women and almost forty percent were children.) The survivors, thankful to be still alive, decided to give a feast.

What was the name of the Wampanoag chief that was invited to the first Thanksgiving feast?
His name was Massasoit. Some ninety Wampanoag tribesmen were present at the feast.

What was the name of the Pilgrim leader who invited the neighboring Wampanoag to the first Thanksgiving?
It was Governor William Bradford who invited them. The reason they were invited is because they were the ones who taught the Pilgrims to cultivate the land, thus making it possible for them to survive.

How long did the first Thanksgiving celebration last?
It lasted three days (the celebration consisted of games as well as food).

Which president proclaimed the first "National Day of Thanksgiving"?
George Washington (in 1789 and then again in 1795).

Even though Thanksgiving was observed most years, it was not an official holiday. What is the name of the woman credited with making Thanksgiving a national holiday?
Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor. She began her Thanksgiving campaign in 1827.

Which president made Washington's "National Day of Thanksgiving" a national holiday?
On October 3, 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued a "Thanksgiving Proclamation" that made the last Thursday in November a national holiday. (Before that, the president had to make an annual proclamation naming the day when Thanksgiving was going to be held.)

Who was the last president to change the date of the Thanksgiving holiday?
President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving to the Thursday before last (the reason was to make the Christmas shopping season longer and thus stimulate the economy).

What happened in 1941?
Congress passed an official proclamation naming Thanksgiving a legal holiday to be observed, from that date forward, on the fourth Thursday in November.

Who wanted to make the turkey the national bird of the United States of America?
Benjamin Franklin, but he was opposed by Thomas Jefferson. Legend has it that Franklin then named the male turkey a "tom turkey" to spite Jefferson. (The female is called a "hen turkey" and the baby a "poult.")

What part of the turkey is used in a good luck ritual?
The wishbone.

What drink did the Puritans bring with them in the Mayflower?
Beer. (thank you, Puritans!!!)

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November 12, 2006

Some funnies to bide the time, part II
Not really MY banter, just a few funny things to fill this spot until I have time for another writeup. These are all election themed.  Enjoy!

Rumsfeld: 'My Half-Assed Job Here Is Done'
November 8, 2006  WASHINGTON, DC—After nearly six years of much-publicized service as Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld announced his resignation Wednesday afternoon, saying that he had "proudly accomplished everything [he'd] set out to bungle." "Years ago, I decided to bog this great nation down in an extended, grueling foreign occupation, and I'm happy to say that's exactly what I've done," said Rumsfeld in a farewell address at the White House, during which he urged Americans to continue waging the ill-conceived, mismanaged, and evidently unwelcome fight for democracy in the Middle East. "Each of my actions—from undersupplying troops with body armor to focusing on capturing Saddam Hussein while Osama bin Laden remained free—has led America inexorably toward our current state of extreme crisis. Well, anyway, goodbye!" President Bush expressed confidence that Robert Gates, his new nominee for Secretary of Defense, will be able to "fuck everything up the rest of the way."

Top 11 - Reasons to Vote
11. Because this is the most important election of our lifetime, (unlike, say, 1996, which was, like, totally lame. Why did they even have an election then?)
10. To shut up all those "If you didn't vote then you can't complain" people.
9. Because if you don’t vote, the terrorists win (unless you were going to vote for the terrorists, in which case they win anyway).
8. Because people in Iraq braved violence and long lines to vote for their ineffectual government, you don't have to brave either to vote for yours.
7. Because this year Al Franken will literally beat the shit out of you if you’re not wearing an “I Voted” sticker.
6. You would like a different politician lying to you for the next two/four/six years.
5. You want your voice to be heard, and the old woman down at the polling station can't leave her post so she'll have to listen.
4. You like to stand in line and pretend you're waiting for a Wii or Playstation III.
3. Perfect opportunity to check if your e-vote hack is in place.
2. Because you're tired of all the Republican scandals and abuses of power, and would like more Democratic scandals and abuses of power.
1. To relive those test taking days in college when you just filled in the circles randomly hoping to get some right.
(from bbspot.com)

Campaign Roundup, continued
I(1) Randall Terry, a veteran anti-abortion activist pushing a family-values campaign for the Florida state senate, acknowledged that his own family's photos in his campaign are minus his two adopted children, whom he has ostracized for, respectively, being gay and giving birth out of wedlock. (2) The election board of St. Louis County, Mo., acknowledged in October that an unnamed election judge had cast two absentee ballots for the Nov. 7 election but defended the man, saying he was old and probably just forgot that he had already voted. (3) Bill Crozier, running for Oklahoma state school superintendent, proposed in October that schools protect pupils from armed intruders by making desks out of thick, used textbooks to stop bullets and that new textbooks come with Kevlar covers.
(from News of the Weird)

Republicans Blame Election Losses On Democrats
November 7, 2006   WASHINGTON, DC—Republican officials are blaming tonight's GOP losses on Democrats, who they claim have engaged in a wide variety of "aggressive, premeditated, anti-Republican campaigns" over the past six-to-18 months. "We have evidence of a well-organized, well-funded series of operations designed specifically to undermine our message, depict our past performance in a negative light, and drive Republicans out of office," said Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who accused an organization called the Democratic National Committee of spearheading the nationwide effort. "There are reports of television spots, print ads, even volunteers going door-to-door encouraging citizens to vote against us." Acknowledging that the "damage has already been done," Mehlman is seeking a promise from Democrats to never again engage in similar practices.

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November 6

Some funnies to bide the time
Not really MY banter, just a few funny things I've recently read that can fill this spot until I have time for another writeup.  Enjoy!.

Laura Bush Suspects Anniversary Card Penned By Speech Writer
November 3, 2006  WASHINGTON, DC—Although first lady Laura Bush "very much appreciated" the wedding anniversary card she recently received from President Bush, she said she "harbored suspicions" that its inscription is the work of one of the commander in chief's speechwriters. "Make no mistake, my beloved spouse: This marriage has been an enduring achievement that will continue to make significant strides well into the 21st century," the pastel-colored document read. "As a president and a husband, I pledge to you that I will not cut and run from the greatest wife in the world. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman, and, make no mistake, I would marry you all over again." Mrs. Bush has placed the card on the Roosevelt Library fireplace mantle next to the card her husband sent on her last birthday, which urged renewed cooperation, defined life as beginning at 50, and had puppies on it.
(from The Onion)

Campaign Roundup: Sitcoms
In October, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in Pittsburgh to campaign for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, antagonized anti-Santorum demonstrators by blowing them a kiss, and in the ensuing chaos, Bush was forced to take refuge in a train station supply closet. And Kansas state Rep. Vaughn Flora was charged with a misdemeanor after an October political event when he allegedly roughed up an anti-abortion protester dressed as a cockroach. And in Tampa in August, public-access TV host Tony Katz threw a chair at his guest, county commission candidate Joe Redner, hitting him in the head (after he had called Redner a liar and Redner had called him fat).
(from News of the Weird)

Top 11 - Treats Geeks Give Out on Halloween:
11. Orange index card imprinted with URL to your Halloween video on YouTube.
10. Nothing, never heard the doorbell ring down in the basement.
9. Obsolete computer components from "the pile."
8. Coupon for 10 free searches at Google.com.
7. Advice on making that Batman costume more conforming to the vision set forth in the comic books.
6. "The Great Pumpkin" Lego kits.
5. Bootleg copies of Star Wars Halloween special.
4. Promise to send five gold to their World of Warcraft character.
3. CD of your podcast on the evils of DRM and how it's stifling creativity.
2. 128MB USB memory sticks.
1. Caffeinated candy corn.
(from bbspot.com)

Area Man Misses Rental Car
October 23, 2006   SCHAUMBURG, IL—One week after returning to his 1994 Acura Integra following a business trip in Indianapolis, Schaumburg resident Gerry Davis, 52, said Tuesday that he still longs for the brief, exciting two-day period during which he had the opportunity to drive a blue 2006 Toyota Corolla. "That car had everything—leather seats, a moon-roof, a thing that tells you the temperature, even a CD player," said Davis, who fell in love with the vehicle after experiencing its "sparkling clean interior" and "the calming sound the turn signals made." "Plus, there was this thing on the keychain that lets you unlock the doors from 30 feet away. Man, I wish I had one of those." Davis admitted that he cannot get the image out of his head of another man driving the car that was his for that one short, magical weekend.
(from The Onion)

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October 23, 2006

More Random Thoughts
Just a few more mostly subjective quick hits and thoughts...some are right on target, some may spur some discussions, some are funny and of course some may just be rude...

Tech note - Microsoft just rolled out their newest version of Internet Explorer, IE7.  Go figure, it only took this multi-billion dollar company of "geniuses" a few YEARS to catch up with a smaller group of not-for-profit open source individuals (the Mozilla foundation) who have a superior product.  Anyway, I have installed IE7 on my PCs and it does work rather well...it's a quick and easy upgrade that I'd recommend.  I still prefer Firefox but it's always nice to have options.

As unpopular as Governor Rod Blagojevich may be, one thing he got right is the Open Road Tolling system.  If you've driven on it with the iPass, it's a breeze...and if you have to pull over to pay tolls (at 2x the cost vs. iPass rates), you are generally screwed.  Well, the actual argument would be WHY do we still have tolls, because way back all those years ago their original intention was to be TEMPORARY income generating facilities for the funding of new roads.  Since virtually all the major roads in Chicago are perpetually awful, you wonder where that money actually goes.  Oh yeah, I forgot, they are constantly under construction...

Why does the term "Illegal Alien" seem to be so confusing in our country?  Doesn't that generally mean that your status in this country is not legal?  Shouldn't those who want to live in this country make the efforts to become "legal" and abide by the rules set in society, instead of protesting under the assumption that the United States "owes" them citizenship and all the rights that go with it?  For those that do make the efforts to become citizens, and do try to assimilate themselves into our society (neither of which may be easy tasks), that's great news and they should be wished the best of luck.  Sure, you can certainly feel some compassion and gratitude for the hard working individuals who are just trying to make a living for themselves and their families.  However, until the term "illegal" actually stops meaning "illegal", I don't foresee the red carpet being rolled out (or the border patrol giving up).  America may be the land of opportunity, but it's by no means a free ride...for anyone...much less those who choose to take unfair advantage of the system.  

Someone told me that Hockey started...yes, apparently the NHL is in full swing.  Perhaps one of these days when Chicago gets a pro team I'll go to a few games. 

Here's the latest dumbass request in the crazy P.C. society that we are seemingly forced to live in: the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is asking that we avoid any Halloween themes that deal with things such as insane asylums, killers in straightjackets, psych wards, etc...because it reinforces negative stereotypes.  Huh???  Are you kidding me?  That's one of the few things left that you CAN poke fun at...but more important, it's all in fun because it's HALLOWEEN.  Hey, psychos are scary!  What's next, the idiots who think their witches & warlocks filing formal protests?  Hairy guys bitching because people call them werewolves?  Pumpkin growers getting sensitive and not letting people buy their product for decorative purposes?  I'll certainly have to devote more future "banter" to the sad state of political correctness in our country...because of shit like this. 

As a suffering (and sometimes bitter) Cubs fan I am thrilled that they are getting Lou Pinella, a coach whose a proven winner and has quite a bit of fire in his belly.  We have a serious coach, now let's get a serious team behind him...

Oh, and as a true Cubs fan, I have just two words to say about the World Series: GO TIGERS!

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October 9, 2006

Recent Random Observations...

How about that Mark Foley? Not quite the image an already shaky Republican party really wants…and further proof that Florida is a really fucked up place. But hey, he was “sexually abused” by a clergyman when he was a kid. Oh, and he’s gay. Guess that makes it OK to send “overly friendly” IM messages to underage boys. Sick bastard.

AJ seems to be emulating his father in terms of eating habits. NOT the hot sauce part, but he enjoys dinner food (green beans, pasta, etc) for breakfast…and he likes it with ketchup or mustard so he can “dip” his stuff in it. Also, he likes tomato juice and will drink it right from the can. That’s my boy! Hey, at least it’s healthy stuff.

Dell (computers) has really pissed me off lately. Long story short, back in June I ordered a new PC for work…and finally had to cancel that order a couple weeks ago as it STILL hadn’t arrived. I’m now getting a better rated system from a place that will have it to me in about 2½ weeks. Listen, I’ve been a huge Dell fan for about ten years and have ordered several systems through them without any problems. However, their customer service has become really awful; this was noted in recent newspaper articles but I can tell you first hand it sucks. They’re also apparently going through some organizational changes. For the time being, my advice would be to stay away.

We had a funny thing happen last month – half of our master bedroom walk-in closet collapsed. In the middle of the night my top shelf gave way, landed on the second shelf, and it all crashed to the floor. No injuries, no real damage (it was just clothing), but we ended up having a new closet build. “Industrial strength” this time! By the way, if you need a great handyman who can pretty much do any interior project, call K/J Kitchen & Baths (Kirby, 847-884-1547). They’ve done quite a bit of excellent work at our house.

Last week Laura, AJ and I went out to the Discovery Center Children’s Museum in Rockford (highly recommended as there’s lots to do). One interesting thing I noticed was Chinese children there with their white parents. Obviously they were adopted, which is a nice thing. In fact , there were SEVERAL families of this type – I counted eight. Again, a nice thing and certainly not a problem, but it was just strange that there were so many at one time in one place. Must be a Rockford thing…

I’m one of the majority of people who hate the New York Yankees, so admittedly I was quite happy to see them get bounced yet again from the playoffs. I heard that George Steinbrenner has spent $1.2 BILLION on his team since their last championship (2000) and they still haven’t won it since. A team with that payroll and that lineup should be winning the World Series every year…but it just goes to show you that money can’t buy you everything. Expect some house cleaning in the Yankees organization. Boo hoo.

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October 3, 2006
Sharing a "Guys' Rule" e-mail
This was a funny list of “Guys’ Rules” that a friend sent to me, and I just had to include it here for your enjoyment.  Both men and women should get a good laugh out of it.  (this is located in the funstuff section)

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September 25, 2006

While I think about the next topic...enjoy this blurb that I read in the papers.  I'll have an additional post soon.

Ever thought you felt fat, even though you are fit from working out?  Well, in the eyes of the federal government who still inexplicably use the fucked up BMI standards, you could not only be overweight but obese!  This is from the sports section of the 9/11/06 Chicago Tribune:

Tip-top shape?  Not by these body mass standards.
At 6 feet tall and 203 pounds, rookie standout Reggie Bush of the Saints appears to be a splendid physical specimen.  And the Eagles' Donovan McNabb, a Pro Bowl quarterback, is 6-2, 240 pounds.  But using a standard called the Body Mass Index, the federal government places these top-of-the-line athletes in the category of "obese." 

How?  The calculation takes into consideration only height and weight, not muscle mass.  So a BMI over 25 is "overweight" and one higher than 30 is "obese," according to the Center for Consumer Freedom.  Bush comes in at 27, so he's only overweight.  But McNabb is obese, with a BMI of 31. 

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 6-4, 225, and Packers QB Brett Favre is 6-2, 222 - and they also need to go on diets, according to the government.  Even Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens - strong and fast at 6-3, 222, has a BMI of almost 28.

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September 5, 2006

Taking advantage of some time off...

As most of you know my work schedule became remarkably flexible about mid-June.  Certainly some business issues have been on my agenda, some work has been done and a very promising opportunity will be happening soon.  However, one of the points for my summer freedom was to enjoy it, spend more time with the family and basically try to complete as many lingering projects as possible.  Though much of this has been met with varying amounts of success, on a whole I've managed to accomplish the primary goal and found some additional enjoyment in "real" vacations.    

For most of my life I've never been much of a vacation guy, but perhaps in my advancing years and following the lead from Laura that's finally changing.  For example, here's a bit of info on my latest ventures:   

The Eagle River trip, a.k.a. "Hootermaster" (July 28 - August 3) is a yearly one where a group of us head to a remote location and spend several days drinking heavily, golfing, and spending quality time outdoors.  Well, it managed to rain quite a bit so some of that quality time consisted of doing puzzle and play XBOX360, but that still counts!  Pictures will be posted here soon to give you a real feel for the week...you'll almost think you were there!    

The Las Vegas-to-Arizona-then-driving to Chicago trip (August 16 - 22) was surprisingly fun.  It started by meeting the Dorsch Brothers (Gene, Randy & Russell) in Las Vegas on a Wednesday afternoon, where we proceeded to hit over ten casinos over about 40 hours time, then we left Friday morning for Phoenix/Scottsdale.  Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon consisted of lots of pool time, some good restaurants and a round of golf at Desert Highlands (where I shot higher then the daytime temp).  The long drive back (25 hours of actual driving) with Gene and their new car began Sunday afternoon and ended in the wee hours of early Tuesday morning.  Some pics have just been added from the trip for your viewing enjoyment.    

OK, so those were the main ones of the summer, at least for me.  What's coming up?  Much of it is centered around football, which I'm sure comes as a total shock to anyone who knows me (yeah, right).  Let's see...I kick it off with a visit to South Bend this weekend to see the Penn State-Notre Dame game.  The following week is a trip to California to visit the Berry family (my sister, her husband and Isabella), which also includes tickets for Nebraska-USC.  In October I'll be at the Seahawks-Bears game and later in Lincoln, NE for Texas-Nebraska, but no 41st birthday surprise parties for me! 

Thanksgiving we're not sure yet, but perhaps another trip to California for a visit is in order...Long Beach in late November sounds appealing.  Christmas would appear to be all in Chicago - a nice chance for my sister to catch up with some friends, and thankfully we won't have to travel again.  I'm also fortunate enough to have tickets for the Packers-Bears on December 31st...and most likely the College championship game on January 8th...which would mean a return to Phoenix (yes, my dad wants to go too).  Whew, what a great second half of the year!

Anyway, in closing I'd like to sincerely thank my wife Laura for all her support and infinite tolerance during all this enjoyment!  I love you Laura!!!

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August 15, 2006

Sports Loyalties
 

I’m often amused by sports fans trying to “out-fan” one another…you know, the people who claim that they’ve been fans longer, support the team better, know more trivia about their favorite, etc.  To set the record straight on my affiliations, here’s my favorites from the major sports, approximately how long I’ve been a fan, and a few brief notes.  With the rare exception of the occasional ignorant asshole, these really have no reason to be challenged:

Football
Nebraska Cornhuskers – I’m originally from Omaha and therefore have been a rabid fan pretty much since birth, so much in fact that most people mistakenly think that I attended the university (I went to Loyola-Chicago, which of course does not have a football team).  I put up with a lot of shit from friends and acquaintances for many years, then of course enjoyed several years of success in the 90’s.  Every time they lose it takes me a while to get over it, and with their recent decline it’s been even more difficult as it doesn’t get any easier.   However, a rebirth seems imminent…and I’ll be at both the USC and Texas games this year. 

Chicago Bears – I started paying attention to pro football about fifth grade (1975, about a year after moving here from Nebraska) and subsequently was able to watch Walter Payton for his entire career.   I also remember the Avellini – Phipps QB controversy, and like most true Bears fans I still have that ’85 memorabilia in a prominent spot at home.  Every Sunday during the season I plan around the game, and usually make at least one game a year at Soldier Field.  The Bears beating the Packers is always a major highlight in my football season, and this year I get to see it happen live on December 31st

Baseball
Chicago Cubs
– started following the Cubs in high school, but rather religiously in college…one reason was because they became very accessible via the “L” from Loyola.  Their 1984 season is probably what converted me to a die-hard, so chalk me up for about 25 years of misery.  Yet, like all loyal fans I keep up the hope – hey, the Sox and Sox both won it the past couple years, so maybe it’s our turn now!?!?!  Well…maybe next year!

Boston Red Sox – as a kid who studied baseball stats, I used to love their great old players – Yaz, Rice, Lynn, Fisk, etc. - and remember watching the 1975 World Series.  Totally broke my heart in ’86 (Buckner, you still haven’t been forgiven) and made my year in 2004.

Chicago White Sox – surprise!  With my dad’s affiliation with the AL (former KC player and major league umpire) I spent most of my boyhood years as a Sox fan & attended a bunch of games.  I have vivid memories of ’77 South Side Hit Men and Harry Caray as their announcer.  When did they fall from grace for me?  In 1989, when during the Cubs-Giants playoff series I was able to experience what true assholes White Sox fans typically can be.  To this day, and even with their World Series win, I can’t support ‘em.

Basketball
Chicago Bulls
Before Michael Jordan there were “stars” like Dave Corzine and Artis Gilmore…who I did watch, and I started really following the Bulls and pro basketball when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came into the league.  Admittedly I became a big basketball fan when the Jordan era began.  Yes, I was one of the crazy fans who ended up on Rush Street during four of their six titles.  Transition from best to worst to getting better has been tough, but I make the effort to watch them when possible.   

Loyola Ramblers – my alma mater, and still the only college team in Illinois to win a NCAA championship (1963).  They had a couple awesome years while I was in school, topped off by a Sweet 16 appearance in 1985 (where they lost to Georgetown).  They have pretty much been rebuilding since, but I do still try to follow their progress and make an occasional game. 

Duke Blue Devils – this is where one of my former best friends went to school, and I started cheering for them shortly out of college. Got to meet most of the 1992 team (Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley, etc.) in Hawaii during the Maui Invitational.  Still one of my more favorite college teams.  Coach K is also a native Chicago-area guy. 

DePaul Blue Demons – this was a short-lived affair; loved ‘em in grade school but jumped off the bandwagon at the end of 1979, when their perfect season ended in the last game by losing to Notre Dame…then they were knocked out of the NCAA tourney the first round by St. Josephs. 

Others (local)
Chicago Blackhawks – I enjoy the occasional live game but am not really a big hockey fan.  Besides, the Wirtz family is a bunch of assholes who don’t care about the fans, so why should I care about their team?

Northwestern, Marquette, NIU, Bradley – had various friends at both schools, not really a fan but like to see ‘em do well (unless of course when they play Loyola or Nebraska). 

University of Illinois, University of Notre Dame, Green Bay Packers – hate just about everything about ‘em.  No need to list details.  Trust me.

I won’t even bother with Soccer…if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there, does it make a sound?

 

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July 27, 2006

There never seems to be enough time...

When I left Medline in mid-June, I had an initial, primary goal set before embarking on any major work with my new company or elsewhere.  This simple goal was to take extended time off to be with the family, do some household projects that have been long since neglected, and generally just relax & enjoy life.  Time seems to go by so fast, and our child is doing something new and (usually) cool every day.  I really didn't want to miss any of this, and with the entire summer forthcoming it seemed that my timing was superb.  Opportunity was only limited by the hours in the day, and life would be one big party for a while. 

Amazing how the these ideas and concepts, fully formed out of good intentions, don't always seem to work out as you hoped.  As the immortal Mike Tyson once said, "everybody has a plan until they get hit."  The problem is that I'm hitting myself!

To date I'd probably grade myself rank myself about a C- for the efforts and effects.  Relaxing doesn't seem to be one of my strong points as I often get sidetracked by the "business" side of things...you know, setting up BLAM Productions, Inc., working on associated projects, plus all of the other daily and household tasks.  When the extended time off began it seemed like time was now unlimited to do anything, so of course you line up all these important things to do.  It gets so overwhelming at times that I don't even know what direction to go next.  

I am getting more time with the family, but admittedly it's not as much as I would have originally thought.  It's certainly nowhere near the amount that I hoped.  Whose to blame for this?  I am, of course...and this is one area where I really want to be more involved.  Life is short and family is precious - and I feel bad since I should have more control over it.   

SO, it's now the end of July and though a lot has been accomplished, somehow it seems like there's still way too much more that needs to be done.  Perhaps the vacation will help clear the mind a bit.  Yeah, someone who's technically been on vacation since mid-June needs another to sort things out, right?  That makes sense!

 I guess my point is just to say "use your time wisely" as it disappears quickly.  Right now I technically have all the time in the world but it's still not enough.  One thing I do know, even with the developing businesses, my family will get more of it from here on out...that should not only assist in the right direction to take, but help me truly appreciate what I have.  AND, perhaps I can stop beating myself up as well!

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July 16, 2006

Feels like Mexico in the NW Suburbs

Shortly after the 4th of July holiday, Laura and I made the decision to do some massive "reconstructive" work on our yard.  We really didn't do much in 2005 with the yard as AJ was still an infant, plus this year...well...we just didn't get to it.  There has been a really good landscaping service who comes out every 7-10 days, cuts the grass, edges, trims, cleans up, and earns every penny of the low rate we pay.  However, the odd part is that despite several offers over the past 1½ years to give them more actual landscaping work around our yard, they haven't bothered to take the work.  So, fuck 'em, we decided to just do it ourselves and save some money in the process.

We ordered several hundred dollars of new plants and five yard of mulch from a local garden center...then I proceed to find another local place that sold topsoil and ordered ten (10) yards.  Those of you who know gardening terms realize how huge fifteen yards of mulch and dirt would be.  If you don't have an idea, here's a picture for your reference (click on it for a larger image):

The dirt was to cover & fill many areas in our yard, primarily around the heavily wooded borders and spots that needed to be evened out.  There were over a dozen relatively expensive plants that were primarily replacing ones that the deer had destroyed over the past year (we wised up this time and purchased mostly deer-unfriendly items).  The need for mulch is self-explanatory, and it was really needed as we didn't put any down this spring.

Did I mention that outside of some lawn cutting, I've done virtually no major yardwork in probably 6-7 years?  It was about the same for Laura as well.  This type of work was never really our "thing", but there's been so many other changes in our lives recently, why not one more new job?   

SO...the actual work began on Monday July 10th and was spread out over a few days that week...unofficially ending the afternoon of the 96 degree day this past Saturday.  A couple of the days were cloudy and temps were cool, which made it a bit more tolerable.  AJ was good most of the time, enjoying doing some of his own shoveling, watering plants while playing in the water, and being a good napper in the afternoon(s) so Laura and I could crank out the work without keeping one eye on the toddler.Still, hauling the few tons of dirt to distant corners of the yard, fighting the bugs and dealing with the general exhaustion of this type of work sort of wears on you.  REALLY wears you out!

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know most of you have done this many times and 'm not looking for sympathy...I guess the point of this story is to give a kudos to our Mexican friends who do these jobs for low wages every day during the week, rain or shine, cold or hot temperatures.  This isn't the most enjoyable job someone can do, the pay probably sucks ass for the actual laborer, and it can literally be backbreaking work.  I am glad we were able to spend some time doing the same thing, but equally happy that it's not a daily job!  As I sit in my darkened, cool office to avoid the scorching heat,  I have one thing to say to the landscapers - mucho gracias, continúe el buen trabajo.

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July 10, 2006

Embrace your Italian heritage - Italy is World Cup champs!

To begin, let me clarify that I far from being a big soccer fan...in fact it would be accurate to say that I really don't like the sport.  However, there was something about the World Cup that may have helped convert me into fair-weather status.   Besides, as a Cubs fan, waiting out the days between this awful season and the start of the NFL requires some sort of good sports entertainment.  Thought I'd never say it, but {{gulp}} soccer has been a temporary cure.

Of course I was hoping the USA would advance further, if anything just to hear the rest of the world bitch about it.  They didn't look so hot, but that's OK...I was thrilled that Italy pulled off the win.  This was huge, not only because our family is part Italian but because they were playing France.  Let's face it, seeing the French lose brings a smile to the face of just about any American! To make things sweeter, Zidane, the frog superstar who was playing the last soccer match of his career, gave a nasty headbutt to an Italian defender for basically no real reason whatsoever.  Subsequently he was booted from the game they eventually lost.  "Tough guy" and "dumbass" don't mix well.

SO, the Italians earn their fourth world cup, and it was one sports tournament that initially I didn't have an interest in watching but ended up following sort of closely.  Despite the usual lack of scoring that is the staple of soccer, it was surprisingly entertaining and quite educational at times - how often do you look up where Ghana is located?  (for the record, it's located in West Africa off the Ivory coast)  I probably share the feeling with most Americans that if the score is tied after the regular time and overtime, it should NOT be decided by penalty kicks...but apparently the rest of the world is OK with this solution.  Hey, they don't tell us how to play football or baseball.  Whatever.

As I play with my 19-month old, I get a thrill out of watching him kick a ball across the room, the driveway or part of the yard.  I've started thinking he may be in a pee-wee soccer league sometime in the future, so I better know the sport.  Unfortunately he's born in the USA and only 1/4 Italian, so I guess the thoughts of him playing for Italy someday won't happen.   That's OK...I'll still take baseball or football over soccer, but now I can say that perhaps, just perhaps, the latter really wouldn't be so bad.

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June 30, 2006

When you close one door, make another to open!

Yes it's official - my Medline career is history.  Late afternoon on Thursday June 15th, after a full day comprised of saying goodbyes to countless people, cleaning out my office, and yes even doing quite a bit of work, I walked out of Medline for my last time as an employee.  A bit of background on events leading up to my departure are available here.  No animosity, no regrets, it's just time for me to move on to something truly exciting... 

...and now I'm pleased to introduce BLAM Productions, Inc.  The next chapter in my career - and life - begins NOW.  After over a year of talking about it and triple that time considering it, I am officially in business for myself with BLAM Productions, Inc.  The primary focus is going to be on communications, print and electronic media publishing...with the highlight being a very special project that has the potential to become a very successful venture.  I'll discuss this in more detail very soon, along with another promising opportunity.  Frankly there's SO much to talk about during this these very early and exciting stages of the company that I can't fit it all in this writeup!  However, I'll eventually have it available and will leave it for that website, which should be up and running with new business information within next couple weeks.   

Since leaving Medline about two weeks ago, life has been almost relaxing. Prepping some of the business stuff has been mixed in with some household chores, much-needed errands and of course some additional time with the family.  I was even back in the Medline offices this past Tuesday for a short time, and was wearing a visitors badge (quite the weird feeling). So far it's still more or less vacation mode for me, but with a new project to develop plus some very strong work potential brewing, vacation won't last much longer...so I better enjoy it while I can.

  Anyway, I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who's called or e-mailed me with support, ideas or offers to help if needed.  It's truly appreciated, and you can bet I may take you up on the offers.  For now, I'll get back to a bit of R&R, get some work organized, spend some quality time with the family and enjoy a lot of 4th of July fireworks.  Yeah, life is good.

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June 15, 2006

OK...here's why I decided to leave Medline

The past several weeks have certainly been interesting and very busy times, dominated by my dad's new home purchase and of course my job situation.  I'll focus on the latter as that's been the main topic of interest to my friends and (former) co-workers.  Hopefully the following will provide some brief insight on the decision and perhaps clear up a few misconceptions as well:

I do NOT hate Medline.  In fact it's quite the opposite - I have a tremendous amount of respect for the company, the owners and the great group of employees that have made this company a success.  It's been a big part of my life directly for fifteen years, indirectly for over 37 as my dad started in 1969.  Besides, my career at Medline has made it possible to explore this new opportunity.    

This WAS a very tough decision to make.  Walking away from a stable job with a good company, especially one where I know so much about it and am friends with lots of people, isn't too appealing.  Knowing this would adversely affect my family's income for quite a while is never a good thing.  There was a tremendous amount of stress leading up to April 12th, which is when I finally pulled the trigger and submitted my resignation.  Do note that leaving Medline was my idea and my decision; there were no "job security" issues at hand.

I WAS unhappy with my job.  Though I have downplayed this issue, I would be lying if I said this didn't make the tough decision to leave a bit easier.  Things were getting stale for me.  My ambition was waning and it was becoming a chore to come into work every day.  This was adversely affecting my personal life and attitude, which was unfortunately magnified by my mom's illness.  Additionally, for quite some time, certain dynamics within Marketing had been less than satisfactory (I'll take the high road and just leave it at that for now).    

Would I have stayed at Medline if I moved to a different position?  Honestly, it's hard to say for sure.  Yes there were some positions of interest that may have made me happier and kept me there longer, but eventually my entrepreneurial interests would have won.  I do know that I was long overdue for a change, and I strongly believed that it was time to try something much different.

I had a GOAL, and the timing is good.  On a financial, psychological and probably a spiritual level, the timing now is right for the change.  My desire to run my own business is sincere and strong.  I am looking forward to spending more time with the family and enjoying life.  Our family is fully aware that expenses will greatly outweigh income for a while, but that has already been factored into the plan.  In terms of goals, back about 1½ years ago I told Laura that when I turned 40 (October 2005) I didn't want to be doing the same job that I was doing now.  My mom's illness took precedence over my decision, otherwise a change would have happened much earlier.  For what it's worth, I'm much better prepared now than I was eight months ago.  Sometimes things do seem to work out...

I'm confident that I will succeed, which means I've already won a big part of the initial battle.  This is quite a change and will require some adjustments, but I'm more than up for the challenge.  I work well on my own...heck, I've more or less been doing that for the last few years at Medline anyway!  I'm aware of my diverse abilities, shortcomings, and am always looking for ways to improve.  Most important, I'm very excited about this venture, which means work will once again be fun for me.

You now have the straightforward and honest scoop on my decision.  If there's any interest, over a few beers I'd certainly be happy to fill in some of the details.  You buy the first couple rounds! 

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May 2, 2006
How we're doing?

It's good to have friends and people who care for you.  I'm still asked "how are you doing" on a frequent basis.  No, this is not the general greeting that usually prefaces every initial contact (and is taken for granted)...it's on a much more sincere level as the intent is to reference my mother.  With that in mind, I thought it would be good to provide a brief few statements on my family and how we're dealing with the loss as of May 1st.    

My dad is doing fair at best right now.  As you can figure, after 42 years of marriage and taking care of my mom through this illness, he's had the most difficult adjustment to make.  It's a big house in Florida, intimately decorated and cared for by my mom, which now feels very, very empty.  He's been traveling quite a bit (work and family related) and trying to keep busy - actually too busy at times - to occupy his time and mind with other thoughts.  I know he's had difficulty sleeping and has at times felt less motivated than his usual self.  None of this could be considered out of the ordinary, and the rest of the family is there to help.  This healing process will take a long time, and I believe that the closure provided from the April 30th event is a positive step.

My sister has of course also had a tough time, but with the 9-month old, her job and location in California, has several other "distractions" that I'm sure have helped with the coping process.  She's had her moments and shares the same concerns that I have regarding dad, but we know that he'll be OK given time.  Overall, Missy has done exceptionally well with the situation.   

My wife and her family have been very supportive throughout the entire ordeal.  Laura in particular has shared pretty much the exact same pain as my dad, sister and myself.  She is always putting others in front of herself, which though can make things more difficult for herself at times is one of the reasons why she is so special.  This has helped me more than I can put into words.  

As for myself...honestly...I'm doing fine.  Not jumping around for joy type of fine, but probably better than the rest.  I felt good about the relationship that I had with my mom, which was much different than what may have been projected to others.  We spent a significant amount of quality time together, both in person and via the phone, for as long as I can remember.  This continued up until the time that she died...in fact I spent her last evening in the hospice room with her.  That morning, as I held her hand, the last thing I told her was that everything would be OK, that she didn't have to worry as I'd take care of dad and Missy and my family.  I said to give Grandma Lois a big kiss for me, and that I loved her very much.  I know she understood everything I said.  I gave her one last hug and kissed her forehead, then walked out of the room...in peace...to call Laura to let her know it would not be much longer.  A few minutes later she passed away...in peace.  If you really want to know how I am, well, this is the best explanation I can provide.

In our family, nothing will ever be the same as it was - this is the unfortunate cruelty of life and death - but things will eventually get back to normal simply because "normal" in our world is now redefined.  We've often been viewed as a family that's not so close, but over the past couple years I'd believe we were much closer than most.  It's amazing what this type of experience can do for a family, that such good can come out of such bad.  

So, how are we doing?  I believe we're coping with it pretty well.  How will we be?  We'll be fine.  This is what my mom would have wanted, and that's what will happen.  Thanks for asking.

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March 9, 2006

Why celebrities shouldn't try to be political
This story speaks for itself...whether you support or hate George Bush it doesn't really matter, it's still funny!

Barbra Streisand: President Bush 'Izn't Smarte'
by Mike Baron, Mar 7, 2006
 
Well 'ol Babs is at it again as it would seem the illustrious diva has launched a new spelling error-ridden announcement, one that sets out to ridicule the President of the United States for being a 'C STUDENT,' according to the Drudge Report.
 
Drudge reports that in her February 28th, 2006 essay, Streisand misspells 11 words, which Matt notes is 'a personal record.'
 
Those 11 words are as follows:
 
• Irag
• curruption
• dictatoriship
• crediblity
• Adminstration
• warrented
• desperatly
• preceedings
• ouside
• subpoening
• responsibilty
 
And in the following sentence, the woman who needs people makes an astonishing four spelling errors -- in one sentence! Even to here at the oft spellcheck challenged tPC are taken back by this one.
 
["In the 1970's, during the Nixon Adminstration, serious political curruption arose and the Republican leadership stepped up and took responsibilty by holding hearings and subpoening administration officials."]
 
According to Matt's crack reporting, Streisand hasn't seen fit to run a spellcheck on her rant as of 12:00, March 06.
 
"The arrogance of this C student," Streisand says of Bush.
 
For the full Streisand article (if you can stomach it), click here:
http://barbrastreisand.com/statements.html#balancedpower (note - spelling errors in this version have been corrected)

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February 24, 2006

Our brilliant Governor...
I just finished a brief writeup on something else, but this news flash was just too funny not to share.  Unfortunately I missed this episode but look forward to seeing it in a rerun (which will definitely be played after this press).  For those that don't know, Jon Stewart is also hosting the Academy Awards on Sunday, March 5th.  No news yet on if "The Rod" will be attending...

Ill. Governor Confused by 'Daily Show' Bit
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Gov. Rod Blagojevich wasn't in on the joke. Blagojevich says he didn't realize "The Daily Show" was a comedy spoof of the news when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the sometimes-puzzled Democratic governor.

"It was going to be an interview on contraceptives ... that's all I knew about it," Blagojevich laughingly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a story for Thursday's editions. "I had no idea I was going to be asked if I was 'the gay governor.'"

The interview focused on his executive order requiring pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control.

Interviewer Jason Jones pretended to stumble over Blagojevich's name before calling him "Governor Smith." He urged Blagojevich to explain the contraception issue by playing the role of "a hot 17-year-old" and later asked if he was "the gay governor."

At one point in the interview, a startled Blagojevich looked to someone off camera and said, "Is he teasing me, or is that legit?"

The segment, which aired two weeks ago, also featured Illinois Republican Rep. Ron Stephens, a pharmacist who opposes the governor's rule. Stephens has said he knew the show was a comedy.

"I thought the governor was hip enough that he would have known that, too," Stephens said.

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January 29, 2005

Charles Schultz Philosophy...
I received this a while ago from my friend Patty Creager, and after just rereading it I thought it would be nice to post here for everyone to read.

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read this straight through, and you'll get the point:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?
The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier?
The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

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January 13, 2005
Sirius Radio ROCKS!

For Christmas Laura got me a Sirius satellite radio setup...actually I bought it for myself and just said this would be my present (so much for surprises).  Of course one of the driving forces behind it was to listen to Howard Stern, who left "terrestrial" radio in mid-December for a $500 Million, 5-year deal with Sirius.  Apparently when Sirius signed this deal with Stern in October 2004, they claimed they'd need 1 million new subscribers to turn a profit on the deal.  At the time they had 600,000 subscribers...and as of this week they're up to 3.3 million.  Nice gamble!

OK, honestly, the entire reason for my getting Sirius was not just to hear an uncensored version of Howard's show, but to basically enjoy decent programming that's increasingly hard to find on regular radio.  The great thing about Sirius is there are over 120 stations, including dozens of music stations of all genres, playing commercial-free music.  They also have ESPN, lots of sports (NFL, NBA, college), several comedy channels, programming for kids, major news stations and of course quite a bit of talk radio.

Oh, and Stern couldn't have been funnier this first week - in fact, this could have been the best stretch of five days I've ever hear from him in my 12+ years of listening.  Admittedly the freedom to say anything without bleeps or edits does take the show to a completely new level...but it's not nearly as excessive as most people would think (they actually try to keep the cussing to a minimum).  The problem they had before was not necessarily the words but having to limit, edit or not present the content that was desired.  Well, the show is now basking in the glory of restriction-free speech, and it certainly shows in the quality and energy of the entire Stern team.  It's everything any fan would have dreamed of, and they're just getting started! 

On the downside, there are a few logistic issues such as antenna placement for your receiver (which until I either change offices or decide to quit, I can't listen at Medline).  Additionally, it's certainly not as cheap as "Free FM" radio; the initial investment (assuming you choose a package subscription deal, which is smart) can cost you a few hundred dollars.  However, the few negatives are far outweighed by the quality of the product.

So, is paying for radio really necessary?  Well, not too long ago most people scoffed at the idea of paying for television programming when cable TV was starting out...now just try to find someone who doesn't at least have a basic service via cable or satellite dish.  Some radio stations are advertising themselves as "FREE-FM" and that "you should never have to pay for radio".  Yeah, and just take a listen to what's "free" and then give satellite radio a try.  NO COMPARISON.  Truth is, you really do get what you pay for...and I for one believe Sirius is well worth it. 

Besides, it's kind of nice as satellite radio shouts out a nice big "fuck you" to the rule-by-fear FCC...after all, they have basically ruined are everyday media with their ridiculous "laws" that mostly feature grey areas and no real set guidelines.  Pity they don't have jurisdiction over satellite radio.  Freedom of speech and expression...wow, what a concept!

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December 23, 2005
Jury Duty...and the verdict is "not so bad"

Back in late September I received a summons for October jury duty in Lake County (Waukegan IL circuit court).  Like most people, I really had no interest whatsoever in participating in this "civic duty", plus with concerns about my mom on my mind and a planned trip during this time, figured I'd first try the you-must-dismiss-me-because-I'm-an-awful-person angle.  No dice, but I was deferred to a later date, the week of December 5th.  A few discussions with Laura convinced me to give it a shot..."you may actually like it" she said, and then also reminded me that it's paid time off of work.  OK, not too bad of a deal and Waukegan isn't really too far, so perhaps it won't be that much of a pain in the ass.  I was called once before in 2003 for a Grand Jury in downtown Chicago, which was a real inconvenience both in travel and the work I was doing at the time (fortunately I was not chosen for that jury).  Besides, at this point I really couldn't get out of it in advance...so figured I'll give it a fair shot.

Hmmmm...sometimes going in to something new with an open mind can be good.  It took me 40 years to figure this out?

Jury selection was on Monday and literally took all day - this time I was chosen as a juror, and our work was to begin Tuesday morning.  It was a criminal negligence case surrounding the death of a disabled person.  I won't go into the details, but we listened to two full days of testimony from the prosecution, then the defense.  It was not quite as glamorous as what you see on television, but nonetheless was interesting and did have its moments.  There were several recesses (some of which were kind of long) but generally the trial moved along rather well.

Late Wednesday the trial ended and we went into deliberations.  I was elected the jury foreman by the other jurors, probably because I was one of the more talkative people (surprised?).  We actually spent about 2½ hours on the case, with some animated discussions similar to what you probably HAVE seen on TV!  We all ended up unanimously agreeing on a Not Guilty verdict - which, by the way, was not the initial direction that I was leaning.  Maybe this jury process IS fair and DOES generally work well.  We all felt good about the decision, and actually so did the judge, who visited us after court was adjourned.

I know this may sound like a cliche, but it truly was a rewarding and educational experience.  I would not necessarily recommend it for the pay (I earned $35 in three days, which included extra transportation costs)...but if you do get summoned, don't fret about it.  It's likely that you will be pleasantly surprised!

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December 3, 2005

More than just football…

Over Thanksgiving weekend I heard a truly wonderful story on ESPN that I though would be nice to summarize here. A 10-year-old boy named Montana (after Notre Dame legend Joe Montana), who was a big Notre Dame fan, was dying from an inoperable brain tumor. He lived in Indiana and as his condition worsened this past fall he made a request that one of the ND players come visit him at home. To the pleasant surprise of both Montana and his parents, Charlie Weis - the new Notre Dame head coach who is enjoying quite a bit of success this year - is the one who showed up at the house.

Despite the paralysis from his waist down, and the knowledge that he wasn’t going to get better, Montana was very animated and all smiles this day (Wednesday, September 21st). After spending a good part of the afternoon with the boy, Charlie asked Montana if there was anything else he could do. “Would you like to call a play in the game? How about our first play?” Charlie asked. “Yes,” Montana said, I’d like you to pass to the right.” The coach was impressed with the boys specific directions and promised him that the first Irish offensive play from scrimmage would be for him.

On Friday (9/23), the Irish were in Washington preparing to face the Huskies that Saturday. Charlie received a call from Montana’s parents to let him know that their boy had passed away earlier that morning, but thanked him for making Montana’s last couple days so special. Coach had to break the bad news to his players.

It turned out that Notre Dame’s first offensive series of the game had them starting on their own one-yard line, obviously a very undesirable spot where any small error can be disastrous. When asked what the plan was, Charlie said “Are you kidding me, I have to run the play…I have no other choice.” There was never any question about following through on the promise. Notre Dame’s first play was a rollout and pass to the right, which resulted in a 13-yard gain and was the first step towards the Irish blowing out the Huskies in the game. Though this play would be listed as nothing out of the ordinary in the game logs, obviously this meant much more than just a first down. Though admittedly I’m still not a fan of Notre Dame, after hearing this story I am definitely a fan of Charlie Weis.

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October 17, 2005

Those Nutty Nigerians!
One of the jobs I handle at Medline is communications, which happens to include access to our “INFO” mailbox. As you can imagine, the general catch-all e-mail source for all that is Medline tends to get remarkably full of various requests that need to be reviewed and then acted upon (having 14+ years of experience at this company makes finding the right people and resources quite a bit easier). Of course more than half is junk mail, the same kind most of you would receive. However, as a large business we get a very “special” type that primarily comes from Lagos, Nigeria. You may have seen some of the money scams on the news – these are similar but target businesses with promises of orders that would be paid for on fake credit cards. See this attachment for lots of details on this interesting scam that apparently (and amazingly) suckers some people.

Typically these messages are just deleted, but it’s become hard to resist a quick reply back with this attachment as a nice way to let them know that we’re not all gullible dumbfucks here in the USA. Most seem to get the message and you don’t hear from that same “business” again. On very rare occasions someone responds back with a really poor explanation attempt about how there are bad people out there, but that they are not really a scam. Wow, they must really take us as morons.

These things are absolutely hilarious – extremely poor grammar & spelling, plus they usually don’t make much sense. Certainly a legitimate business could do better, right? Anyway, below is a REAL, unedited example for your enjoyment…and you can see many more by clicking here.

-----Original Message-----
From: Joseph Segun [mailto:jostore@msn.com]
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2005 10:44 AM
Subject: Urgent Order.........

Dear Sales,
I am interested in placing an order with you,But firstly i will like to know if you can ship your products to Lagos Nigeria. And i also want you to know that i am paying via my company Credit Card. If yes kindly get back to me with your website or your catalogue price lists, So as to make the selections of the products needed and also for you to be able to calculate the shipping cost to the shipping address below via any of the courier
listed: UPS,DHL,FEDEX,TNT.
Ship to :
7 BABALOLA STREET
ITIRE ROAD MUSHIN
LAGOS STATE
NIGERIA 23401
I will be expecting your reply immediately you receive this message Regards

Click here for several more funny "requests"

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October 4, 2005

Admittedly I enjoy writing in a creative and/or factual sense, and someday would like to pursue this more as a profession vs. a hobby.  SO, why do I seem to constantly struggle with filling up a small segment like this on my website?  Besides long work weeks at Medline and trying to spend quality time with the family, there's exercise regimens, fantasy football, good programs on TV, a ton of in-process and upcoming household chores, occasional social activities, trying to get some sleep and of course maintaining THIS website...well, something has to give!  

Yeah, I know...excuses, excuses...OK...here's a few mildly interesting things happening around the homestead:

There's a mouse in our downstairs wall.  This really isn't anything new we get 'em every year, usually in the fall when it starts getting colder.  Wooded/country areas = lots of critters clamoring to get in.  Typically they're always out of sight, in the rafters of the lower level...which I keep stocked with enough poison to wipe out a zoo (it's the good stuff that rots 'em from the inside, though they occasionally die hidden in the house so we have to put up with the smell for a few days).  THIS one, though not visible, has been noisy the past couple days as he seems to have fallen down between the wall separating my office from the lower level rec room.  I just heard him a few minutes ago, scratching away in vain.  Though I can't get to him, I was nice enough to "secure" that area so there's no chance of possible escape, and found a way to slide a bit of that delicious poison to 'em.  Sweet dreams...

What an amazing pain it is to baby-proof a house.  I have been slow to do some of it, but with the boy taking steps now it really can't wait any longer.  The kitchen cabinets are up next and each latch takes a few screws.  The forecast is for a twelve pack and lots of foul language during these efforts.

Ever try to alphabetize & assimilate a few hundred CDs into your already huge collection?  Most normal people don't...but I do, and believe it or not it's not nearly as much fun as you could imagine.  Right now I estimate there's enough built-in space in my office for about 2-3 more years of CD buying.  At that time I either need to knock out a wall, start hanging stuff from the ceiling, or move to a bigger house.

A sign of the Apocalypse:  I'm going to the USC-Notre Dame game on the 15th, and actually cheering for the Irish... 

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September 19, 2005

I'm usually not that interested in discussing politics, but figured it's time to toss out a few words on one of the less favorite people in America today.

Earlier this summer I was talking with this one guy who stated - in all seriousness and a straight face - that "George Bush will go down as one of the most intelligent presidents in U.S. history."  I was completely stunned and couldn't even reply.  It's possible that I've never heard anything that funny in my entire life!   Listen...it's certainly true that Bush was dealt a bad hand with 911 and issues like the hurricane disaster.  These aren't the problem...the real problem is Bush himself.

Here's a guy who originally came from big oil money, and managed to invade & take over one of the richest oil countries in the world, yet we're sitting on the highest fuel prices in our nations history.  Ironic, huh?  Well, he did manage to prove his business incompetence by completely mismanaging some oil and business ventures in the days before his presidency.  Hey, but remember when he sent us all that nifty $300 check?  You know, back before his regime took a national surplus reserve and turned it completely around into the biggest deficit EVER.  This was also back before the jobless rates hit astronomical proportions.  Seems like this guy does everything big.  Big and wrong.

Let's face it, the disaster that has been Iraq is such a blatant fuckup that no living human outside of the O.J. jurors could justifiably argue otherwise.  Remember "Mission Accomplished"?  Oops.  Myself and probably most Americans have full respect for our soldiers...but apparently some of our leaders don't, because these poor soldiers are still there.  Remind us again why we're there...

Though it's worth mentioning, I don't even want to get into the entire "freedom of speech" issue that the Bush administration seems seems destined to destroy.  Too depressing to discuss.

What's the most disturbing is that there's enough republican drones and religious conservative dumbfucks out there that keep guys like this as viable options for the most powerful position in the world.  This is not meant to critique all Republicans, but there are too many wacky ones with way too much influence.  Suffice to say that separation of church and state has been completely ignored the past five years.  

Would John Kerry have done a better job?  Maybe...maybe not...or perhaps about the same.  Who really knows, because America voted and we didn't get a chance to find out.  However, he would have been hard pressed to do any worse. 

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September 5 - 10, 2005

GET RID OF THIS FUCKER!!!
Read about FEMA's Michael Brown

9/10 Latest news - "He Gone" (at least from the relief effort)
9/10 Latest news - Bush drops in polls (well-earned)

September 5th - I'd like to keep this one short & sincere...and it's actually something that I have posted elsewhere.

Hurricane Relief Fund
September 4, 2005
Taken from Bryan's fantasy football website (sffl.mcgonigal.org)

The first posting on our 2005 league board is not about football - it's about helping those in need. Everyone has seen the horrific pictures and heard the stories about how terrible it is down in New Orleans and that general Gulf Coast area...I could never imagine having to go through that hell and wouldn't wish it on anyone. Think about how awful it must feel to basically lose everything you have (if not your life). Though the relief efforts have finally been increasing in strength and effectiveness over the past couple days it's going to be a long, long time before anything in this area returns to any state of normal.

There was some suggestions about doing something through our league, but I'd rather leave it up to each individual on if and how much you can donate. I can personally state that I've donated through both my company (Medline) and directly to the Red Cross; hopefully everyone in our league has already or will contribute something to the cause. The Red Cross (www.redcross.org) actually makes it very easy to do so and has become the charity of choice for most.

Anyway, I'm sure we'll still have a great year in football, and any little bit of help you can provide to the relief efforts is certainly the right way to start the season. Thanks.

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August 28, 2005

We all get lots of junk e-mail, everything from mortgage rate "approvals" to penis enlargement products to rolex watches to some of those Nigerian scams.  However, the below message is a dandy, and since it came through my high school reunion website address this fine Italian gentlemen must be mistaking me for a woman (somehow I don't think he ever got a real good look at me).  Anyway, I'm sure the person sending it was testing out one of the mass e-mail programs, but it is so hysterical that I'm glad to have ended up on his mailing list.  This is the brutally honest approach for every lazy-ass guy in the world...enjoy!

LADY READ ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!
Received via e-mail 8/15/05

Hi. This is a legitimate appeal for ladies only. If you are interested email me atsplendido@mail.win.it.

I'm an Italian guy, I live in Italy and my name is Lorenzo.I live in Roma. I'm sending this message to the people because I'm bored to live in Italy, I'm looking for a lady what could invite me in usa. I seek a millionaires american lady who desires a young guy for marriage.

I would love to find a wealthy lady who lives in one of the following places in usa or nearby:
1) "The treasure coast",I mean north east Broward County or east Palm Beach county(FLORIDA)
2)Honolulu (Hawaii)
3)Reno(Nevada)
4)Las Vegas(nevada)
5)Atlanta(georgia)
6)Jupiter,Stuart,Coral Springs,Jensen Beach,Boynton Beach,Deepwater,Hutchinson
Island or Miami(Florida)

Considering that I like the mature women, I'd love to find a lady of 45-60 yo age range. I'd love to find a gentle long haired lady who lives in a swimming pool house near the sea (as I like to swim) . I seek a lady without young or old children, a no smoker lady who could be widowed, separated, single ,divorced. I would need a sugarmamma figure at the beginning .

Here in Italy I don't have a good future because there's the recession, the down swing causated by our new money, the euro and also causated by our government that is not able to give a higher salary to the people: now our salaries value the half and the prices of the things are almost the double. Here in Italy my life is in danger because is getting always more difficult to survive as there's no job for me here.

Considering that I'm around 30 yo now and I haven't found nothing good to do in this country,now I seek a better future abroad and I would love to find a good woman.

I seek a bisexual woman that figures out of the years, looks young and feels young : it's not a problem if she's not beautiful because she should be beautiful inside and most of all ,she should desire a younger soulmate. (She could be overweight too). The thing I desire is to fix a serious stable relationship with a lady who gives me the opportunity to have a better life.

ABOUT ME:
I have long black hair, my weight is 65 kilos(145 lbs) and my height is about 1.80 metres(5.11)...
I'm no smoker /drinker and I'm good looking.

If you could be the kind of woman I'm looking for, write me soon please!!!!!! I'm here because I need help and I'm not a joke because it wouldn't have sense. Thank you very much for reading my letter . I think there must be a woman for me out there.

Cheers,
LORENZO BRATTA -Italy

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August 20, 2005

Are you sick and tired of all the assholes in this world that won't take responsibility for their actions?  There are just too many examples to list, but the humorous, latest example to make headlines is listed below (borrowed from John Leo, US News & World Reports, 8/15/05)

Hey, It Wasn't My Fault!
By John Leo, 8/15/05

Rafael Palmeiro, the Baltimore Orioles star, told Congress that he had absolutely, positively never used steroids, but then he failed a urine test. So last week, he repeated his never-ever statement but inserted a new word: He never intentionally used them. He said: "I am sure you will ask how I tested positively for a banned substance. As I look back, I don't have a specific answer to give. I wasn't able to explain how the banned substance entered my body."

I can sympathize. A few years back, something quite similar happened to me. I got a ticket for speeding, and, being personally above reproach, I quickly deduced that someone had tinkered with my odometer and accelerator to create the impression that I was somehow to blame for exceeding the speed limit. Talk about unfair! Though understandably aggrieved, I paid the ticket. Later, I discovered that this happens to people all the time. While you're sound asleep, some unknown person comes and tinkers with your car, or if you're an athlete, with your personal bodily fluids. Understandably, many of the athletes are bewildered when this occurs, protesting innocence and shouting things like, "What? How many home runs did I hit last week? Why wasn't I told?"

For the full story, click here!

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August 7, 2005

This week I'm borrowing an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on August 7th - it's written by Mike Downey, a sportswriter.  With all the ridiculous hoopla that's been surrounding the "insensitivity" towards American Indians and sports team names, being half-Irish I'm now officially jumping on this bandwagon!!!

No blarney: Leprechaun must go

I want that leprechaun put to sleep.

Do you hear me, NCAA? I don't want to see that darn leprechaun at Notre Dame's games anymore. No more of that goofy green suit. No more of that hokey hat. Most of all, no more of that offensive, insensitive, insulting, dehumanizing dance.

As a proud Irish-American, I demand that you make the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame get rid of that stupefying, stereotypical mascot of theirs. And that little jig of his. And I mean pronto, if you'll excuse my use of Indian lingo.

Ladies and gentlemen of the NCAA, I implore you. Do that thing you do. Do what you did Friday, when your executive committee announced that it no longer would tolerate any "hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery."

A leprechaun is all that.  CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY!

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July 17, 2005

Nose Picking

OK - for those of you closet nose-pickers out there (admit it, you probably are), in case you ever get the hankering for a big juicy one don't even second guess it.  Apparently some doctor believes it's actually good for you!  Ugh...read on:

Doctor Backs Picking Your Nose And Eating It
Picking your nose and eating it is one of the best ways to stay healthy, according to a top Austrian doctor. Innsbruck-based lung specialist Prof Dr Friedrich Bischinger said people who pick their noses with their fingers were healthy, happier and probably better in tune with their bodies. He says society should adopt a new approach to nose-picking and encourage children to take it up.

Dr Bischinger said: "With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner. "And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system. "Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. In terms of the immune system the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine. "Modern medicine is constantly trying to do the same thing through far more complicated methods, people who pick their nose and eat it get a natural boost to their immune system for free. "

He pointed out that children happily pick their noses, yet by the time they have become adults they have stopped under pressure from a society that has branded it disgusting and anti social. He said: "I would recommend a new approach where children are encouraged to pick their nose. It is a completely natural response and medically a good idea as well." And he pointed out that if anyone was really worried about what their neighbour was thinking, they could still enjoy picking their nose in private if they still wanted to get the benefits it offered.

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June 26, 2005

Pending

Didn't have time to write anything just yet, and was sick of the Michael Jackson one that was posted here for two weeks...so while I take a break, here's a relatively funny "Top 11" list I recently pulled off of BBSpot:

Top 11 Rejected New Hot Sauce Names

11. Not Quite FDA-Approved
10. Cheaper than Arsenic
9. Kenny Rogers' Lip Melter
8. Edible Napalm
7. Feces O' Flame
6. I Can't Believe It's Not Acid
5. Death by Heartburn
4. Almost-as-Spicy-as-Ketchup
3. Crazy Jim's Burning Larynx
2. Satan's Urine
1. Party in Your Rectum

Comment - since most of you know about my fondness for hot sauce (and the 30+ bottles in my fridge), I can safely say that I have a few "real" names that are just as funny as these!  "Spank my ass and call me Sally," and "See Jane Burn...burn Jane, burn" are a couple examples.

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June 14, 2005

Michael Jackson

Does anybody really believe that this freak-a-zoid is innocent of all the charges against him?  Giving kids "Jesus Juice" and letting them look at porn?  Licking heads in public?  All the sleepovers, some for months at a time?  Numerous out-of court settlements for millions of dollars?  This negro-wannabe is about as innocent as Bill Clinton around fat interns...the huge difference being that Michael's "interns" are young dudes. 

HOWEVER, the jury certainly didn't think so, not on any of the ten charges.  You have to give the defense team credit for casting a reasonable doubt.  This had to have been an amazing performance, since it seemed like the only thing missing was a smoking pair of child's underwear.  Apparently the testimony of the kid and his mother's antics didn't really help the case, but still...not guilty on all counts?  Are we to believe that NONE of it happened?  Yeah, and O.J. is still looking for the "real" killer. 

David Chappelle probably said it best - when asked in one of the skits on his show, "Do you think Michael Jackson is guilty of molesting boys", his answer was, "Hell no.  Michael's innocent...hey, he made 'Thriller'..."  Ahhhhhh, the spoils of fame...and after that final not guilty verdict was read, insiders say that Michael shouted "SLEEPOVER" and moonwalked his white ass out of the courtroom.  It must be good to be the king (of pop). 

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May 24, 2005

CUBS AND SOX

OK…I am a Cubs fan and therefore will be labeled as seeing things from a skewed perspective. However, I did grow up watching both teams play and overall find the rivalry between the fans quite entertaining. To summarize:

The Fan Base: The South Side argument that Cubs fans and/or those who go to Wrigley field don’t know anything about baseball is a stupid, baseless statement. Additionally, the concept that the average Sox fan is a low income, blue-collar wife beater who can’t afford tickets to the game is just as dumb. The FACT of the matter is that while the Cubs consistently rank at or near the top in attendance percentage (and are again #1 in 2005 as of right now), the Sox are consistently one of the worst teams in terms of attendance in baseball. You can disagree with this statement but you’d be wrong – go check it out yourself at ESPN.com or any other sports site. After 45 games in 2005 and with the best record in baseball, the Sox rank 27th overall in the Major Leagues. 27th out of 30 teams. How pathetic is it that even the Blue Jays are drawing more fans!

The Parks: Wrigley is certainly much older and more “quaint”, but has virtually no parking, holds less people and features obstructed views.  US Cellular (Comiskey) has vastly superior parking, accessibility, seating, facilities, and arguably may be a more “family-friendly” ball park. However, what would appear to favor the Sox all changes once you leave the stadiums…and if you’ve been to both fields no further explanation is needed. As they say in real estate, the three top features are location, location, location…which of course has something to do with the appeal of the teams.

To Cubs Fans: The Cubbies are THE team in town, and Wrigley is THE place to be. We get it. The WORLD gets it. However, and this may come as a shocker to some, “lovable losers” is NOT an endearing term. Sure they came close in 2003 – closer than any Chicago baseball team in decades - but close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades. The “Bartman” incident was a poor excuse for one of the biggest collapses EVER in terms of major sports. Losing sucks, and every year will be painful for the true fan until they can take the same path that the Red Sox did last year. AND…just one request for the many of you who frequent Wrigley field just for the fun: at least take the time to learn what team is playing that day.

To Sox Fans: You would think that after all this time you would be less sensitive to the painfully obvious and unfair fact that the White Sox are second fiddle in this city…the Art Garfunkel to the North Side’s Paul Simon. I truly believe that most Cub fans would feel bad about this, but the outright bitterness and jealousy seething from the Sox faithful is just too overwhelming (and funny) not to ignore. Think that’s an exaggeration? Well, next time you’re in the mood to discuss your team with others, try doing it without mentioning the Cubs in the same conversation. Just try it! Don’t feel bad about failing that test…it’s programmed into you by now. However, on the bright side, your team still has the best record in the Majors this year, plus you did take two out of three at Wrigley this year and currently hold the series lead in the “Crosstown Classic”. Hey, good for you! Now if you promise to stop your fucking whining you’ll get a gold star and a juice box.

To All Chicago Fans: guess it could be worse…imagine the dialogue between Yankees and Mets fans!  Anyway, we'll all get our chance to suffer together when the Bears begin playing.

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April 4, 2005

One final note on the NCAA Tourney

I'll keep this short & sweet...I'm glad the Illini lost.  I'll be happy to see all the ugly orange shirts and the fans that crawled out of the woodwork disappear again for a while.  I'm also relieved that all this insane coverage on a team that plays out of central Illinois - 3+ hours away from Chicago - will finally cease.

I'm not one of the people who thought they were overrated.  They had a hell of a team, a great year, and when you think about it 2nd place isn't all that bad.  But for what it's worth, it means there is STILL only one college team in Illinois to ever have won the NCAA basketball championship.  Know who it is? 

How 'bout MY alma mater!
(no, not Nebraska...I just grew up there, and for those of you who are geographically challenged, that university is not really in Illinois)

Oh, and as a follow-up from my last posting, my bracket pools ended not so good.  Tied for 21st place out of 168 was my best finish.  Oh, and I did pick North Carolina to win it all...

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March 19, 2005

The NCAA Tournament Brackets

Though football is my favorite sport (followed by baseball), the March NCAA basketball tournament is by far the best sporting event at any level.  A couple years ago I spent the first round in Las Vegas, and mere words cannot describe how amazing it is to be in the sportsbooks!  Anyway, every year people fill out the tournament brackets at their offices.  Every year I spend some time studying the teams, ratings, player strengths, recent records, schedules, etc., and then put 2-3 brackets together, usually feeling pretty good about it. 

And...every year I end up sucking at it.  It would be less painful to not fill 'em out - I should just hand over my money to the person who runs the pool, have them kick me hard in the nuts and be done with it. 

OK, I've come close a few times in my life but typically I'm middle-of-the-pack type of bracket guy.  What I've learned is that even the oddsmakers usually suck at this too.  I'm convinced that the only way to win one of these pools is through a remarkable amount of blindass luck and a bit of divine intervention.  Hey, the "God Squad" athletes always thank the Lord for their good fortunes, so why leave out the gamblers?  Hopefully the divine one has some time to read my website and HELP me.

With that in mind, in one of my three brackets I did pick Bucknell to beat Kansas, AND UW-Milwaukee to beat Alabama...no joke!  However, in that same one I had Syracuse making it to the Final Four.  First round they're upset by Vermont.  FUCK!

We'll, as of this writing it's Saturday and we're down to 32 teams.  I of course have significantly less. Let the fun continue...

 

EARLIER SUBMISSIONS:
There were some minor postings that I did before March 2005, but they weren't "officially" logged in my Bloglike Banter section and therefore not really saved.  Sorry!

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