Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Vatican Guidelines

Well, it’s not surprising, but a Catholic church in Melbourne Australia has embraced a Vatican recommendation to test potential priests for sexual orientation.

Under the guidelines, potential priests who "appear" to be gay must be banned.
I have just two words for Pope Benedict:
Glass Houses . . .

Can you believe that? Now I wonder what this “test” would involve. I envision that it might look something like this:


1. Salmon and champagne are:

a. food items
b. brunch items
c. The new color scheme of your guest bedroom.

2. You keep abreast of current events from which of the following:

a. Fox News
b. CNN
c. Lifetime Television and the Style Network

3. Here is a video of Michael Phelps and Anderson Cooper together in a pool. Do you:

a. ignore it
b. click on the link out of curiosity
c. email it to twenty friends and place it on your Facebook page.

4. A cardinal is:

a. a baseball player in St. Louis
b. a red bird
c. a senior church official who wears Prada and gold lamè

5. When dining out, what beverage do you usually request?

a. Beer
b. Merlot
c. A dirty martini at the waiter’s apartment

6. What is your position on same-sex marriage?

a. it should be banned in every country
b. it should be left to the states to decide
c. mine would need to be annulled before entering the seminary

7. With whom did you have your first sexual encounter?

a. a prostitute my dad paid for
b. myself
c. a senior church official wearing Prada and gold lamè

8. With whom did you prefer to have had your first sexual encounter?

a. the head cheerleader in high school
b. anyone but myself
c. a baseball player in St. Louis


If you answered “A” to more than six questions, you would clearly not fit in to the Roman Catholic priesthood but your contact information will be kept on file by each priest in your diocese.

If you answered “B” to more than six questions, your suitability would be questionable and your contact information will be kept on file by each priest in your diocese.

If you answered “C” to more than six questions, congratulations! Welcome to the priesthood! Please limit yourself to no more than one dozen hat boxes when moving into the seminary.

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Morning Scene - Vincent

Remember the strange fellow that lives in my building who wears the really strange clothing every day? (His name is Vincent)

We must really be on the same schedule or something because I keep seeing him as I leave for work in the morning. He also must own dozens of these whacky outfits because I’ve yet to see him in the same one twice.

Anyway, today’s ensemble consisted of a long, gold lamè jacket accented with a turquoise hankie and matching shirt.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Quest for Bob Newhart's Apartment

A couple of weeks ago, I was standing across the street from my apartment building waiting for the light to change. While standing there, I saw this guy pointing out my building to his two kids while telling them that this building was where Bob Newhart lived in The Bob Newhart Show.

I wanted to shout at him, "No! You uninformed cretin! Bob Newhart did NOT live in Marina Towers. Stop filling your kids' heads with lies!"
It's a common mistake, but the characters, Bob Newhart and his wife, Emily, did not live in Marina Towers.

I remember the series very well and enjoyed it as a teenager. I loved the opening sequence to the series where it showed Bob Newhart leaving work in downtown Chicago, walking past Marina Towers, hopping on the EL and then walking up to his high-rise apartment building (which was NOT Marina Towers).

I thought that all looked SO incredibly cosmopolitan and I really wanted to live like that someday.

I remember that his high-rise where he lived was just some sort of nondescript apartment building. I really wanted to find it. But how?

I'd like to say that it was quite a challenge to locate it; that I managed to do so after contacting an archivist at CBS who gave me the address to Bob's apartment building.

But I didn't.

I used Wikipedia.

So, today, after it snowed all morning, I decided to go on a pilgrimage to the building that was in the opening sequence of The Bob Newhart Show.

It was an easy train ride on the Red Line EL to the north side of Chicago. (The opening sequence to the Bob Newhart Show shows him riding the Brown Line from downtown - - hrumph!)

As I walked from the train, there it was.

I smiled.

I have to say that this quest began simply as something fun to do on a Sunday afternoon. But as I walked up to that building that I'd seen over and over back in the early 70s, I instantly connected to the 13-year-old back in South Texas who longed, someday, to live in Bob Newhart's city.

I'll have to admit, it was pretty special.

Anyway, here is the opening sequence to The Bob Newhart Show. And yes, you'll see Marina Towers in a couple of shots, but you'll also notice Bob walking up to his apartment building later on.

Click here.

And here's a photo of that building that I took today. Isn't that cool?
I hope this might clear up some of the confusion. Maybe the tourist who told his kids that Bob Newhart lived in Marina Towers will see this and stop filling his childrens' head with such horrible untruths.

Oh, and if any of you want to visit this site when you're in Chicago, it's located at 5901 N. Sheridan Rd. Just take the Red Line north to the Thorndale station and walk three blocks east.

Just like Bob Newhart did every day after work.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

New View

I plunked down the deposit on my new apartment today. The one that's one the 50th floor. Before I did that, I asked to check out the apartment just to give it another once-over.

And a took a couple of pics of the new view. I'm really looking forward to see what this view will look like at night.
I'll be moving in during Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Movin' On

Here’s some news for you.

Soon, I will be moving out of my apartment on the 49th floor of Marina Towers. The one with the Balcony of Terror.

I have this neighbor next to me who goes on these chain-smoking binges. Of course, she has the right to do what she wants in her own apartment, but her smoke comes into my apartment through the ventilation system that we both share.

I’ve spoken to my landlord over and over about it. They’ve done some half-assed attempts at remedying the situation, but nothing’s really worked.

So, I’m moving out in May when my lease is up. I’ll have no more view from the 49th floor of the West Tower.

Because . . . .

I’ll have an even better view from the 50th floor of Marina Towers.

An apartment on the 50th floor of the East Tower just became available and the owner is willing to hold it for two months until my lease is up. I am SO excited because this new apartment has an even better view than the one I’m in.

And I won’t have to give up any of the retro-appeal either. The 50th floor apartment has the same yellow metal cabinets in the kitchen along with a harvest-gold fridge and stove. The stove even has those bush-buttons on it for each burner. I remember those in the house we lived in when I was 7 years old.

Even more retro-kitsch is the bathroom - - the bathtub and toilet are pink. I’ll have a pink potty!

For those of you who have been to my place at Marina Towers (and you know who you are), my new place will be in East Tower and it faces due north. So, I’ll have that wide, expansive view to the north along with a full view of the John Hancock tower and even a bit of the lake view as well.

This apartment will have a Balcony of Even More Terror for JP.

Of course, I’ve got the theme to The Jeffersons running through my head right now. ‘Cause I really am movin’ on up to the East side.

Morning Scene - Shangri-La

This building construction site across the street from me has stood silent for months now. It was supposed to be the new 92-story Shangri-La Hotel and Condominiums.

Two weeks ago, they terminated all contracts with the project.

I really feel sorry for all the folks in the three buildings surrounding it whose views have been obliterated by a building -- that will never actually be there.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's a Strange World

How does that saying go? Something about truth being stranger than fiction?

I swear, I’m not making this up.

Apparently, a 29-year-old Michigan resident was sentenced to 90 days in jail for committing a sex act with a car wash vacuum cleaner.

Here's the article.

As part of his sentence, he must submit to drug testing.

A relative of his said, “He needs psychological help.”

Gee, ya think?

About ten years ago, I completed a couple of internships as a substance abuse counselor in a residential treatment center. Believe me, every time I thought I’d heard everything regarding human sexual behavior, someone would always manage to surprise me.

I had never come across anyone who was into vacuum cleaners, though. I don’t think it’s listed in the DSM-IV.

When I hear about these things, I just want to say to the person, “Dude, what did you parents do to you?”

I can just see this fellow’s personal ad on Chemistry.com:

29 year old white male. Likes sports, candlelight dinners and long walks on a moonlit beach with a Dyson hand-held. Seeks soulmate to share laughter, good times, and a complete assortment of Dirt Devil attachments. . . .

I can also see it now. The right-wing evangelicals will probably be saying something like, “See what happens when you allow same-sex marriage? First this, then somebody will want to marry their vacuum cleaner!”

Anyhoover, the vacuum cleaner assault took place back in October. At least it was during the Bush administration, otherwise, Sean Hannity would be blaming the whole thing on Obama.

My thoughts?

I just hope the vacuum cleaner is getting counseling.

My New Toy


Notice anything different about this keyboard?

All the letters are in different spaces. I got my Dvorak keyboard in the mail yesterday. (It was only $19.95)

I am making progress in learning the new layout, slow but sure. It really is similar to learning a new language. From what I’ve read, you can type a lot faster on Dvorak with 80% less finger motion due to the layout.

I have my reasons for learning this which I’ll go into later. I’m not just being an incredibly geeky nerd. This time.


Morning Scene - Window Washers

They're washing the windows of my workplace. Here they are at the top, 83 stories up. Can you see them way up there?

Wouldn't you love that job?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm an Ascetic Papaya

Here's a cool website where you can take hundreds of quizzes to see what type of person you are.

Apparently, I'm a papaya that has no sensuality.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Clean-up on Aisle Five!"

Quite some time ago, I wrote about these little bitty ponies that some folks with sight impairments use instead of guide dogs.

Besides the extreme cuteness factor of these micro-ponies, (they’re about 22 inches tall and weigh around 50 pounds) there are certain other advantages. They live to be around forty years old, they have a broader field of vision, and they can also be house trained.
As you can see, they’re no bigger than your usual Labrador retriever-type of guide dog.

You can even plunk them in the shower.

According to the American with Disabilities Act, service animals should be allowed in all public spaces: Theatres, taxis, restaurants, grocery stores and the like.

Well, here’s an article I saw today about this woman in Fort Worth Texas who uses a guide horse – only it’s a full-sized, Texas-style type of horse. She goes shopping with it at Target.

Obviously, she uses it for both sight and mobility. But what do you think of allowing a full-sized horse in a grocery store?

Would it be tempted to eat all the carrots? A hungry horse could really decimate a produce section in one fell swoop.

The micro-ponies can be house trained, but what about a ranch-style horse? I’ve seen some of their healthy deposits along Chicago’s downtown area and you certainly wouldn’t want to come across that in Aisle 5 of your local market.

I supposed you could tell the horse, “You’d better behave or you’re gonna end up in that dog food aisle, buddy-boy!”

Could one bring a large horse into a movie theater? What about the doctor’s office?

I would think it might be a bit disruptive in a nice restaurant. I really don't think I'd want to dine with an equine. I’m picturing the horrified expressions of the wait staff at Lao Sze Chuan if someone brought a big, sturdy horse in there.

Like I said, the ADA says that service animals must be allowed in all public places -- as long as they’re not disruptive. There was a case where someone brought their guide dog into a theatre, it got upset and began barking incessantly and the person and the dog were asked to leave. A lawsuit ensued and dog owner lost the case.

Sure, I can see how this horse might be an effective service animal for this person, but not a very practical one for all situations.

Any thoughts?


Monday, March 23, 2009

My Little World

I found these great little magnetized spice tins at The Container Store recently. They just rocked my little world.

They come three to a pack and I kept going back and buying more and more of them. Now I can keep many of my spices located oh-so-conveniently on my fridge door.

That’s a good thing, because when your kitchen is about the size of a Chiclet like mine is, an efficient use of space is paramount.

So, my most often-used spices are all here: Coriander, cloves, whole nutmegs, jerk seasoning, caraway seeds, basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, black pepper, and curry.

That’s eleven. I seem to be missing a tin somewhere.

Miss Healthypants probably has it.


"Let's Break Up Into Groups . . . "

We’ve all been there before.

You’re in a day-long training session or workshop, half-awake, enjoying the fact that you're away from the workplace, and then the moderator makes that dreaded announcement:

“Okay, for the next forty-five minutes, let’s all break up into groups . . . .”

My god, I hate it when that happens.

I realize that there are probably some extremely extroverted folks who actually enjoy this “breaking up into groups” type of activity. I know that some attendees really enjoy the chance to interact and gleefully collaborate with others.

I am not one of them.

For one thing, I’ve never, ever learned anything from breaking up into groups. After all, we all came there to learn from the presenter who is, supposedly, an expert in the field. Often, we’ve paid money to do so.

So, why would I want to spend an hour collaborating with four or five strangers? That's an activity I try to avoid at all costs.

Another thing -- We all know that this group activity is just “filler” for when the presenter hasn’t prepared enough substantial material to present. It’s just a way of using up time.

The worst is when a college professor has the whole classroom do this. After all, I’ve paid about a grillion dollars in tuition to learn from the professor; not from other students.

Sometimes, the presenter even makes it worse by not assigning you to a group. I hate that even more.

She just makes the announcement that you’re supposed to break up into groups of five and you’re just left to fend for yourself to find a group to glom on to. All of a sudden, I feel like I’m back on the grade school playground, trying to find some other kids who will “like me.”

I hate this “breaking up into groups” activity so very much, that I’ve actually done the following things. . . .

When the announcement is made to break up into groups, I’ll simply leave the presentation, find a Starbucks, and return when the group insanity is over with.

I’ll always express my disdain for group activity when filling out the ubiquitous survey forms at the end of the session.

When I’m the one giving a workshop, I always begin by announcing that I will never ask them to break up into groups; that doing so is a big signal that the presenter hasn’t prepared enough material to fill the time.

Sometimes, I’ve even gotten a few enthusiastic Thank you’s! from the audience.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Satire Article

It's been a long time since I wrote a good satire article. But when I heard of Pope Benedict's ridiculous pronouncement that condom use would actually increase the spread of AIDS in Africa, I had do write something.

As usual, the more appalled I am over a subject, the more biting my satire becomes.

I had an article written, but it was kind of tedious. I'm re-writing it now and I think it'll work better if I take it in a new direction.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dvorak Keyboard . . . The Story Continues

I am having an absolute blast learning to type on the Dvorak keyboard layout. It’s amazing how the mind works and learns new things.
I’ve been a pretty good typist on the standard QWERTY layout for 35 years. So, retraining the mind and fingers to do something completely different is really a challenge, but one that I’m enjoying wholeheartedly.

I think I might become an evangelist for the Dvorak keyboard. It just makes so much sense. When typing on Dvorak, you use a lot less finger-motion and your most-often used letter combinations just seem to “fall” under your fingers. As a pianist, I can truly appreciate it.

So far, I’m just on the eight fingers of the “home row”

Here’s the Dvorak keyboard, by the way.

So, using “a,o,e,u” on the left hand and “h,t,n,s” on the right, I’m practicing with the following sentences:

Eat the toast at ten to noon
The Taos sun shone as hot as Santa Anna
Anthea assesses the estate at South Tahoe
Hotshot Hanna uses these shoes that Shannon soon sees
At noon on the teahouse Aunt Tess hushes the nauseous host
Tess Sutton notates the tenuous state that southeast Houston has seen
Ethan Ness attests to these Tennessee Senate OSHA statues to shun Utah

The biggest challenge so far is using the “s” with the pinky of the right hand. For some reason, I just can’t “get” that.

They say that you can double your typing speed using Dvorak and I can certainly see how that would be possible.

I just hope I can get this old grey matter to do it after all these years.

I’ll keep you posted.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Morning Scene - Aqua

I continue to be utterly amazed by this building called "Aqua" that's shooting up across the street from my workplace. It still has a way to go before it tops out at 83 stories.

It's hard to see, but all those balconies do have railings. They were designed in such a way so that the railings sort of disappear.

This will truly become a landmark in Chicago.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Procedure

We all have landmarks in our lives. Birth, first day of school, first kiss, graduation, marriages and so on.

Since I recently crossed the half-century mark last month, I did the responsible thing as a 50-year-old adult: I actually made an appointment for a colonoscopy.

And I kept it.

It took place yesterday.

I had heard that it’s no big deal. Nowadays, they give you lots of nice drugs so that the procedure is not nearly as unpleasant as it used to be. I had read Dave Barry’s hilarious account of it, which you should too. A friend of mine recently had one and she said that you’re completely knocked out during the actual procedure.

Besides turning fifty, there's also a history of colon cancer in my family. I really should have had The Procedure done sooner.

So, I actually asked my primary care physician for a referral to have it done. He should have been impressed. I scheduled it for a Monday so that I could do all the “prep” work on a Sunday and only miss one day of work.

I’ll give you a step-by-step rundown of it so that you, dear readers, will see that it’s No Big Deal. Hopefully, this might alleviate any anxiety when you, yourself, have to undergo The Procedure.

I’ve heard others say that the prep work is the most unpleasant part of the procedure and I can wholeheartedly agree with that observation.

Let’s face some cold, hard facts here.
Your colon is basically . . .well . . . a sewer. Since the colon doctor will be examining the details of your colon, all its nooks and crannies really need to be squeaky clean.

The folks appointed with ensuring the squeaky-cleanliness of your sewage system obviously have never had to try it on themselves. If they had, they would have come up with something more efficient.

It all starts with mixing this powder into a four-liter jug of water and drinking eight ounces of it every ten-to-fifteen minutes. That comes out to seventeen doses of this stuff. If you take it every fifteen minutes, that comes out to over four hours that you’ll be consuming it. I was instructed to launch this activity at noon and eat nothing all day.

Oh my goodness, it tasted like camel spit. Oh, and they give you four teeny weeny packets of assorted flavorings (lemon, lime, orange or cherry – I imagine that ‘pomegranate’ will be coming out soon) You can mix in a little packet of flavoring so that it tastes like camel spit with a hint of lime. I’ll admit that after the first couple of doses, I just wanted to get it over with so I chugged ten ounces every ten minutes.

Very soon after the first dose, the fun begins. It’s a pretty rambunctious activity. How can I explain what it’s like. . .

. . . . Have you ever seen those photos of water being released at the Hoover Dam?

That is what you’ll be doing for the next four hours. A lot. I got so tired of getting up and scurrying to the bathroom every few minutes. I just about wore out the “pause” button on my Tivo.

Very soon after the first dose, the juices run clear, but you just have to keep taking the stuff over and over and over. Finally, after about four or five hours, the flooding subsides. A dove appears with an olive branch, there's a rainbow over your toilet, and you get to take a break.

But not for long.

At 7 pm, Round Two begins. You take four laxatives and, miraculously, your digestive tract comes up with more Hoover Dam activity.

But wait! There’s more!

At 11 pm, you drink a bottle of magnesium citrate which begins the fun all over again.

Of course, you’re not supposed to eat anything the entire day. My Last Supper was pasta puttanesca at an Italian restaurant on Saturday night. Its remnants were long gone soon after I began the cleansing process.

The worst part of this whole ordeal was that I was so incredibly hungry!!! On Sunday, I pretty much watch cooking shows all afternoon long which certainly didn’t help. I wanted to hurl a shoe at Paula Deen and her barbecued pork shoulder.

My appointment was for 7 am the next morning, so I only got about three hours of sleep. Actually, I was glad that it was so early – the earlier it was, the sooner I could EAT. I was one grumpy puppy, too. A friend of mine kindly pointed that out while we were on the phone the day before.

I was under the mistaken impression that I would actually be having the procedure at 7 am.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

One nurse took down lots of information at 7 am. She made sure that I had arranged for a "Responsible Person" to take me home afterward. (I had. I had procured Iwanski to be my Responsible Person and he was diligently waiting by the phone). Then the nurse disappeared and just left me there. After a long while and thinking that I’d been forgotten, I tracked someone down and reminded them I was actually there.

Soon, another nurse handed me the dreaded hospital gown and instructed me to change into it, but to leave my socks and shoes on.

I really wish they would have told me about the socks and shoes ahead of time. I was wearing black socks and my winter boots. White socks and sneakers would have gone much better with my hospital gown ensemble. I looked even more like a dork with black socks and winter boots.

I was left alone to wait some more. My grumpy self finally asked another nurse to please get the show on the road.

I wanted pizza.

After another wait, I was placed on a rolling bed, wheeled into the examination room and hooked up to an I.V., a heart monitor and a blood pressure thingie.

Then, the nurses got word that the colon doctor had been called away on some sort of colon-related emergency. There must have been an exploding, run-away colon on the other side of the medical center.

I was un-hooked from everything and left to lay there for over an hour.

While I was lying there, I got to worrying that the colon doctor wouldn’t be able to do the procedure at all that day. I would be SO ANGRY if the nurse came in and told me to go home after I had gone through the tedious process the day before, taken time off work, and had asked Iwanski to be a Responsible Person.

I expressed this concern to the nurse and she assured me that they had never sent anyone home without having the procedure done.

During that hour, I got to thinking how fortunate I was to even have good health insurance; to have the opportunity of having someone stick a tube four feet inside me to make sure everything’s okay. So many people in this world die long before the age of fifty.

I got to thinking about my own mortality. I’ve had a happy and a very interesting, entertaining life so far. But yes, one day it will all end.

I was getting into some pretty heady thinking. Being in hospital, hooked up to lots of equipment that goes ‘beep’ will make you do that.

After over an hour, the elusive colon doctor appeared and things quickly got underway. “Alright! Let’s rock-n-roll,” I joyously exclaimed.

Normally, they give you enough happy-drugs to knock you out so that you’re pretty much unconscious during the procedure. I was actually very interested in it and really wanted to view it all on the monitor. I told that to the doctor and he said they could give me less of the joy-juice; enough to sedate me a little but enough so that I could be fully conscious.

Then I got to thinking, “What if we come across something really alarming during the examination? Like a weasel.”

The last thing you want is to hear your gastroenterologist exclaim, “Oh my god! Look at that!” while you’ve got four feet of tubing up your backside.

Boy, I have to tell you that those drugs sure make you feel fantaaaaastic. I really wish I could have just laid there and partied a good bit longer, but before I knew it we were looking at my insides on the monitor. It was like I had obtained a really good movie from Netflix.

The doctor was explaining where we were along the roadmap of my gut: Descending colon, round the corner, transverse colon, (no weasels so far), turn the corner to the ascending colon and down to where my appendix used to be. Then, we got to watch the whole thing in reverse. I have to admit that as we went along, I was admiring the cleanliness of my handiwork from the day before.

The nice doctor said my colon looked very healthy. As he finished, he said, “Okay. See you in ten years!”

Now, keep in mind that I was conscious during the procedure. Normally, you’re completely unaware of anything. Even conscious, there was very little discomfort – only a little crampy feeling on occasion.

I got dressed and a nurse deigned to supply me with apple juice which I greedily sucked down. Iwanski appeared right on cue very much like the Responsible Person he is, and we went home.

I procured a double cheeseburger and fries on the way.

As I began to eat my cheeseburger, it hit me: I had just obtained a clean bill of health, maybe due to the fact that I very rarely eat cheeseburgers. Or maybe I was just lucky. At any rate, most of it went down the trash chute. I had a garbanzo bean and spinach curry on brown rice instead. (I had prepared it the day before while having to fast.)

So, there you have it. The dreaded colonoscopy is really nothing to dread at all. It’s also a big relief to know that everything’s okay down there.

So, please, don’t put it off.
Get it done.

Now, I can look forward to happy and dependable service for years to come . . . for me, and my colon.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Leaving QWERTY Behind

When I was a freshman in high school, I really enjoyed taking “Typewriting I”. By that time, I was fast becoming an incredibly geeky pianist, so learning to type was quite similar to playing the piano. For me, typing uses the same brain functions as sight-reading on the piano.

That was 36 years ago that I learned to type. We had these ancient manual typewriters back then (no electric ones) and I could really bang some letters. I couldn't do anything remotely athletic, but I could type.

When I was 13, many of my friends earned extra money by mowing lawns or baling hay during the summer. Me? I earned extra money by typing the minutes for the local garden club. That right there should have been an indication of things to come.

After that, I learned 10-key by touch. Again, it was really enjoyable for me. One of my most favorite jobs was as a proof operator at a bank. You just sat there all day and encoded the amounts of the checks as fast and accurately as possible. I loved it.

So, I was pretty excited recently to learn about the Dvorak keyboard layout. Have you heard of that?

It was developed back in the 1930s as an alternative to the traditional “qwerty” layout that we normally use. The qwerty layout was developed to keep typewriter hammers from jamming. For example, the “t” and the “h” are used by different hands so you won’t press them very fast; if you did, the hammers would jam on the old manual typewriters.

Once electric typewriters were developed, this was no longer an issue. So, Mr. Dvorak developed a keyboard layout that would be conducive to speed and ease. On the Dvorak keyboard, one’s fingers use a lot less motion to type the most common combinations of letters.

Here it is:

Now, take a close look. Imagine your fingers on the “home row”. Just imagine how fast you could type words like “the, that, then, those”. The most commonly used letters are on the home row, the next common are above that and the least common below it.


Now, drum your fingers on the table. Notice how you drum inwards, from the little finger to the index. Dvorak noticed that and laid out the keyboard so that the most commonly-used letter combinations employ the same motion.

That's so cool.

The world’s fastest typist, Barbara Blackburn, was never a very good typist on the qwerty keyboard. But once she learned the Dvorak layout, she achieved a world record at 212 wpm on the Dvorak keyboard.


My fastest typing speed (with 98% accuracy) is 81 wpm. However, I’ve definitely hit a wall at that speed and can’t seem to get any faster. I would love to learn this Dvorak layout and really burn up a keyboard. It would be like learning to play “Flight of the Bumble Bee”.

Oh, and if you want to change your PC keyboard to the Dvorak layout, just follow these nine simple steps.

1. Select Start->Control Panel.

2. If you're viewing by categories (the default), click Regional Options.

3. Click Language Options.

4. Click the Languages tab

5. Click the Details button

6. Click the Add button

7. Under Keyboard Layout/IME, select United States-Dvorak then click OK.

8. If you want it to be default, select United States-Dvorak again in the Default input language pull-down

9. Click OK to close the control panel.

I did this and now the quotation mark button is all messed up when I go back to qwerty which kinda sucks.

Oh, and if you want to learn Dvorak, here’s a nifty tutorial. Click here.

I’m definitely going to give it a try, as I’ve always enjoyed things that are different from the norm.

I know it's pretty strange to get this excited over a keyboard. Sometimes my level of nerdiness scares me.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sears Tower -- Gone

Oh my goodness, Chicagoans are NOT gonna like this.
At all.

London-based Willis Group Holdings announced today that they are consolidating five of their offices into the Sears Tower and will take over 140,000 square feet of the iconic building.

Are you ready for this? (Hang on). Since they will be the largest tenant of the building, they will be re-naming the Sears Tower to the Willis Tower.

. . . Ruh Roh. . .

Chicagoans will all be,
“What’chu talkin’ about, Willis!”

I’m really having a chuckle over this. I’ve already gone into my boss’s office, pointed at the Sears Tower and told her that it was soon going to be the Willis Tower.

The tallest building in North America will be the Willis Tower. Can you believe it?

Chicagoans are so attached to the names of their beloved places.
Comiskey Park
Marshall Field's

I hope someone else buys Wrigley Field and changes the name. Someone like Whole Foods Market.

“Hey, lets go see the Cubs at Whole Foods Field!”

Chicagoans would just have to move if that ever happened.

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DO NOT click here.

What a Moron

Get this.

A Yale University student is suing an airline one million dollars because he claims that his XBox was stolen out of his luggage.

He was flying from New Haven to Ohio and when he opened his luggage, his XBox was missing.

My opinion?

If he feels that an item is worth one million dollars in compensation, then he’s an absolute moron for not carrying it with him on the damn plane.

Maybe I’ve been watching Judge Judy too much.


Morning Scene - Pet Peeve

Boy do I have a pet peeve.

It’s when I make a fresh urn of coffee at work, let it brew while I do some work, and return ten minutes later to find that everyone has swooped in and taken it all without making anymore fresh coffee for me.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On the Airplane

This past weekend, I had the joy of flying from Chicago to Austin and back. After having done so, I have this to say. . . .
. . . When did passengers become so inconsiderate?

I always try to be a nice passenger because, hello, let’s face it, we’re all tightly packed into a metal tube together for three hours. The least bit of inconsideration in such an environment easily becomes amplified.

Case in point. On my flight down to Austin, my seat companion was a big guy who felt he had a right to take up a third of my real estate on the plane. His left elbow and knee were clearly on MY side of the seat divider. I wanted to ask the flight attendant to charge him for a third of my airfare.

Also, after the pilot instructed us to turn of all electronic devices, he refused to do so and kept texting someone.

Even worse, he continued to receive and send texts during the flight. I really should have notified the authorities at this point. His electronic lack of self-control could have interfered with the flight communications, causing the pilot to inadvertently land somewhere in the wilderness, like Tulsa.

On the way back, I actually had a nice window seat near the front of the airplane. I had no seatmate as there was no one sitting in the middle. But the young woman in the aisle seat next to me decided to cater herself with a huge Tex-Mex dinner on board.

When I first sat down, I first thought that someone nearby had Doritos Taco- breath. Then after we took off, my neighbor schlepped out this HUGE Styrofoam container packed to the brim with Mexican food.


Mind you, I’m all for bringing food on the plane. After all, they don’t serve meals anymore so you might as well supply your own sustenance.

But, as I mentioned earlier, we’re all packed tightly together in a pressurized environment. Devouring a huge container of spicy, garlic-comino-laden food is hardly the thing to do. An innocuous bagel and cream cheese would have been more appropriate.

What an inconsiderate cow.

It’s a good thing I’m not a flight attendant.

Friday, March 06, 2009


It seems that the airplane rates have dropped significantly, so I'm flying down to Austin for the weekend.

Tra la-la la-la

I will be posting photos of Mexican food shortly.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I Almost Used Algebra

Today, I almost employed the use of algebra.

Remember in high school, when we’d have to do those awful “word problems” in Algebra class?

You know the ones I’m talking about. The train leaves the station at 6:00 pm traveling 50 mph, then another leaves the same station traveling 70 mph an hour later and you’d have to assign ‘x’ to something and figure out how many miles away the second train would overtake the first one.

God, I hated those word problems.

We’d grumble and say, “When are we ever going to use this stuff?”

Well, today, I almost did for the first time – 35 years after I took algebra – but I got around it.

The health club I belong to and avoid like the plague has an indoor track. There’s a sign that indicates eleven times around the track equals one mile.

I was able to figure out that if I wanted to run two miles, . . .

let’s see. . . .

Oh! that would be 22 times around.


But then I got to thinking, “What if I wanted to run a 5 K?”

Running a 5 K sounds so cool, so I wanted to know how many times around the track would equal five kilometers.

Oh my goodness. This was a lot more difficult.

Okay, one mile equals 1.61 kilometers. I remembered that from living in Canada.

Eleven times around equals one mile.

Do I assign x to something? I don’t know what.

And why is it always x ?
Why not h or d ?

Anyway, I digress. . .

Eleven times around equals 1.61 kilometers. Right?


If the train left the station traveling at 1.61 kilometers an hour at 5:00 pm. . .

No, that won’t help.

Five miles would equal 55 times around.

No, that won’t help either.

Wait! Maybe that will help.

If 55 times around the track is 5 miles, then 5 kilometers would be less than 55 times.

I got out the calculator. (Which didn’t even exist when I took algebra -- we used sticks and rocks)

55 divided by 1.61 should work. . . Yes! . . by golly. . . 34.16

That sounds right!

So! If I want to run a 5 K on the indoor track, I’d have to run 34 times around the track.


Yeah. . . .

. . . . Like I’m ever going to do that.

Team Sports? I Just Don't Get It.

At my health club, there’s an indoor track that I use. It’s on the upper level of the place and circles around and above the basketball court. Eleven times around equals one mile.

Yesterday, I ran/walked two miles which meant that I circled the basketball court 22 times. Each time, I’d glance down there to watch some guys playing a game of basketball.

I just don’t “get” competitive team sports.

In basketball, the moment you obtain the ball, everyone on the opposing team tries to get it away from you. How on earth can that be enjoyable?

I’d watch this one poor fellow. Someone would throw the ball to him and, immediately, some other guys would lunge toward him trying to get the ball away. Eventually, they would and everyone on his own team would be mad at him for losing the ball.

As I trotted by, I thought, “People participate in this activity on purpose??? That’s just . . .well. . . stupid!”

I spend most of my waking hours trying to avoid anyone being mad at me. Yet, there are guys at my gym who purposely seek out an activity in which they repeatedly avail themselves to the anger and disappointment of others.

It’s just beyond me.

Sometimes, a player would get the ball through a hoop, thus scoring points for their team. For some reason completely unknown to me, getting a basketball to go through a hoop is valued quite highly. I have absolutely no idea what intrinsic value there is in that activity, but apparently, there is.

That’s not to say I might not enjoy playing basketball.

I might enjoy playing with a basketball on the basketball court if no one else was there to bother me. I might actually enjoy the challenge of learning how to dribble the ball, run about on the shiny wooden floor and try to throw the ball through the hoop - - - by myself!

But doing that with a bunch of other guys? No way.

That’s why I’m up there on the indoor track, running by with my little iPod Shuffle.


Funniest Commercial Ever

I'm sorry, but I really love this commercial.

Click here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sears Tower to Go Green

There’s talk of the Sears Tower in Chicago getting a major make-over.

The owners of Chicago’s iconic tower – who are located in New York City by the way – are talking of “greening up” the 36 year old building.

Just in case you don’t know, the Sears Tower is the tallest building in North America with its 110 stories rising 1,454 feet tall.

We’ve grown used to it’s imposing black structure, but now they’re talking about resurfacing the whole thing to silver. (It would reflect more sunlight that way and cut down on air conditioning costs, supposedly).

Frankly, I’ve never been a fan of its blocky, black structure. I think silver would look pretty cool.

And if you’re going to make it green, why not slap a bunch of giant wind turbines on top while you’re at it?

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Celsius and Seepage

Here’s a new product for you. It’s a soft drink called Celsius that actually burns 100 calories per serving. Apparently, it temporarily raises the body’s metabolism and heat-producing mechanism after you drink it.

And, of course, it contains a whopping amount of caffeine – twice as much as a cup of coffee. I wonder what effect that has on its calorie-burning qualities. If I wanted to lose weight by drinking a soft drink, I’d want to be mellowed out by it; I much prefer mellowness, especially while burning calories.

It’ll be interesting to see what folks do with this product.

Remember back in the late 90s, Lays came out with those potato chips made with “Olestra”? It was a fat substitute or something like that. It kept your body from actually digesting the fat I think.

A friend of mine back then was dieting and would just eat gobs of these Olestra-laden potato chips, thinking they were a diet food item. That is, until we read the fine print which stated:

“May cause anal seepage.”

Oh my goodness, now there’s a real selling point for you. Gimme some of that. Incessant amounts of teasing ensued after that.

Anyway, Celsius comes in the following flavors: Orange, Lemon-Lime, Cola, Ginger Ale, and Wild Berry.

Already, folks are mixing it with whisky and some bars are serving a Celsius and Crown.

Time will tell if there are any seepage issues.


Morning Scene - Newly Shined Shoes

See how shiny my shoes are?

It turns out that my athletic club has a shoe shining service. You just plop your shoes on this counter before entering the locker room and when you’re done with your workout, your very shiny shoes are there for you.

It costs three dollars.

I could never get them to look like this. Three bucks? It is SO worth it.

It’s not like I’m really lazy or over-indulgent. I’m just really bad at shining shoes.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Titanic - A Movie Review

On Friday night, I was bored and couldn’t sleep. So, I watched the epic movie, Titanic, which lasted until 3:30 am. (“Epic” meaning “Incredibly Long”). I think the movie actually began shortly after the ship sank in 1912.

I had seen this movie when it was released, and yes, it is pretty sensational.

Maybe I’m getting old and jaded. But after the movie was over with the other night, I thought, “Hmmm. Basically we had a story about two young people having a one-night stand while on a cruise - - like that’s never happened before??”

“Oh, but they were in love! They were soul-mates!” I hear you say.

“Ummm. They were 20-year-old kids. When you’re that age, you fall in love and find your soul-mate every Friday night. Especially if alcohol is involved and Celine Dion is supplying the sound track.”

Also, I hope that they employed safe sex during their illicit tryst. After all, he was a homeless, unemployed vagabond in 1912 - - there's no telling what nasty diseases he might have been purveying.

But what really irked me was when the main character (Rose) was an old lady and tossed that multi-million diamond overboard.

Oh my goodness, she could have donated it to charity.

“But it was her way of obtaining closure,” I hear you say.

Frankly, I think “closure” is highly over-rated. There’s a lot to be said for mulling things over incessantly and holding grudges if you ask me.

Besides, she was so old and had put off “obtaining closure” for about 110 years. Why then?

Oh! And another thing. That diamond didn’t even belong to her! Remember? It belonged to her nasty fiancé who she never married.

So, the heroine of this epic film was basically a multi-million dollar jewel thief. If she’d been brought to court, Judge Judy would have wiped up the floor with her.

Like I said, maybe I’m just getting old and jaded and realistic.

Anyway, my TIVO will be recording the 1954 version of Titanic in a couple of days.
I really hope there are no love stories in it and we get to see the disaster unfold like God intended.

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It's All Relative

The news organizations are going nuts today because the New York City area is getting whopped with seven-to-ten inches of snow. The NYC schools are getting a snow day, traffic is ensnarled everywhere, flights are cancelled and news anchors are about to give themselves an aneurysm.

Meanwhile, Chicagoans are saying, “You pussies.”

We had blizzardy conditions all day yesterday, but nary a thing was mentioned on the news. O’Hare operated as normal, schools are open today, and my friends and I all went out for dinner last night.

I think it’s all relative.

For example, while I was living in Toronto, there was a snow event in January of ’99 which was the heaviest snowfall in all of Toronto’s history. Within one week, we received something like 110 kilometers of snow. It was the first time that all the schools closed down, some of the subways stopped running, and the city officials even called in the National Guard to help with snow removal.

Meanwhile, everyone in Ottawa and Montreal were saying, “You pussies.”

Having grown up in South Texas, I can tell you that freezing precipitation is a very rare thing down there. However, when it would happen, my mom would quickly herd us all into a nuclear fallout shelter upon hearing the first pellet of sleet.

I know it all has to do with the capacity of a particular city to deal with freezing precipitation. Trust me, a half-inch of sleet in Dallas is far more treacherous than a foot of snow in Chicago.

Even last night, we were really complaining about how cold and snowy it was in Chicago. After all, it was March 1st for crying out loud. I cannot imagine how folks in Fargo put up with far colder temps. It’s just beyond me.

If I ever had to live in Fargo, they’d be calling me the p-word.