Friday, September 28, 2007


Acrophobia, or a fear of heights is a condition from which I, thankfully, do not suffer.

I’m happy to lean against the railing of my apartment balcony and watch the world go by, five hundred feet below. JP calls it the “Balcony of Terror.” That’s funny.

I love riding tall roller coasters, rising to dizzying heights and then plummeting, weightlessly, at record-breaking speeds. Love it.

Then, one day when I was living in Toronto, I took an out-of-town visitor to the top of the CN Tower. The observation deck sits 1,200 above the ground and on the first level of it, there’s a glass floor for visitors to walk on.

I thought, “Oh, cool!” and sauntered right over to it.

Within one step out on the glass, a hot wave of adrenaline shot through me like a bullet. I scampered back like a scared kitten.

That glass floor, needless to say, is intense.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Remember When . . .

I’m not that old, but my little-bitty home town in Texas was quite behind-the-times when it came to new technology.

We didn’t have push-button phones when I grew up there. As a matter of fact, I can recall dialing only three numbers for a local call. (Ours was 191, my grandmother’s workplace was 175.) Soon, we had to dial five numbers which remained that way even up until I left for college.

Now, I can take pictures on my cell phone and send them.

A long distance call was a HUGE DEAL back then and they sure cost a lot, too. A long distance call was a pretty serious event. I remember my grandmother shooshing us:
“This is long distance!”

Oh my god!

I took typing in 1973 during my Freshman year of high school. We only had two electric typewriters in the class of 30 students on which we all got to take turns for two weeks during the year. The rest of the time, we used ancient, clunky manual typewriters. You had to strike the keys extra hard if you were making carbon copies. Try typing 70 wpm on one of those babies! These kids nowadays are wimps when it comes to typing. Carpal tunnel syndrome hadn’t even been invented yet.

Spell check? Ha!

One day, my algebra teacher brought one of the first pocket calculators to class for us to play with. He knew it was the wave of the future, so we weren’t required to become experts at extracting square and cube roots. I had some rudimentary skills at the slide rule.

I wonder if anyone knows how to extract a square root anymore. Do they even teach long division in school these days?

Slide rule???

I remember sending my first fax. It was in 1985, I think. Now, we don’t even use faxes at all. They’ve come and gone the way of the IBM Selectric. Documents are scanned, PDF’d and emailed.

Trees are saved.

I remember working at the bank over 20 years ago when EFTs first came out (Electronic Funds Transfer). We were told that someday, we wouldn’t be writing checks at all and we were all, “Yeah, right.”

Now, I have postage stamps in my desk drawer that have been there for over a year. I don’t write checks at all or mail anything.

Online banking rules.

About that time, the bank I worked for was really promoting the use of ATMs. We had one cranky old customer that swore he would never use one of those “tit-less tellers.”

Charming, huh?

I remember helping the ATM department with a backlog of customer applications. The customers could select their own PINs back then.

Do you know what the most-used PINs were?

For women, it was L-O-V-E.
For men, it was F-U-C-K.

That really gives some pretty clear insights on how men and women think.

I swear, I’m not making this up. We’d all be sitting there, entering in the applications and one of us would announce, “I got another ‘LOVE’ one here!” We’d all groan and stick our fingers down our throats.

All this reflection on how technology has advanced makes me sound older than I really am.
I’m not old

I’m just “chronologically gifted.”

Home Again

I’m back from the four-day conference in Florida. I’m tired and I caught a cold, most likely from being packed in an airplane with lots of little kids going to-and-from Disney World.

Again, I don’t know why so many people move to Florida, for it was incredibly warm and humid the entire time I was there.

Here is a pic of the hotel we stayed in:

Notice the pretty palm trees? Palm trees, apparently, really enjoy warm, humid weather. Palm trees live in Florida. Ergo, I do not enjoy Florida.

Notice the pretty swimming pool? I did not go in the pretty swimming pool because it was outside where the warm humid weather was.

One of the main benefits of these conferences is the opportunity to “network.” That’s an activity which consists of approaching someone you absolutely have absolutely no desire to meet, make inane small talk about what you do, feign sincere interest in what they do, and trade business cards. I have 39 business cards from the trip.

Granted, I did learn a lot and did make some good connections. It wasn’t all that horrible, but I’m basically an introvert and making lots of good connections takes a lot out of me.

So, I was pretty happy to get into the little shuttle bus that took us from the hotel to the airport. However, I was seated next to Miss Extrovert from the conference who kept turning to me, wanting to talk about the conference, who she’d met, blah, blah, blah, BLAH!

And my head was screaming, “Shut up, shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!

It was a wonderful plane ride back to Chicago. I wrapped my iPod around me and dozed on the plane. I love those plane rides where it’s just bumpy enough to make the plane jiggle the whole time, like rocking a baby.

Remember when you were a kid and you were walking barefoot on hot asphalt and how good it felt to make it to the cool, green grass? That’s what it felt like when I walked out of the train station back in Chicago. Dry, autumnal breezes enveloped my tired self. Sheer bliss.

I was soooo tired when I got home yesterday evening. And hungry. The first thing I did was to have Chinese food delivered. Tivo and I had a wonderful evening together along with Ginger Shrimp and Singapore noodles.

Oh, and next year’s conference is being held in Portland, Oregon.
Much better.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm in Florida

I’m in Florida for four days. On business, not pleasure.

I don’t know why so many people move here. “Mega-humid” doesn’t even begin to describe the weather here.

I’m in Orlando which is right in the middle of the state, but still, there is water everywhere. Alligators were snapping at the plane as we landed.

My flight left O’Hare at 7:00 am this morning which meant that I had to get up at 4:30 am. I guess that since all the school-aged kiddies are in school now, this must be the time to bring all the toddlers to Disney World, because they were ALL on my flight. It was a packed flight and there was this one toddler near me that screeched like a psychotic pterodactyl the entire time. Thank god for i-Pods.

I shouldn’t gripe about the little ones. I’m sure it’s no fun for them to travel and it must be awfully stressful for the parents who have a fussy-one during the entire flight. Us single grown-ups have our i-Pods after all.

Anyway, I’m in this awfully nice resort/hotel room for the duration. Here’s a pic from my room which looks right out over the Disney complex; much like you see on the commercials. However, it’s been rainy and stormy all day. I have no desire to go anywhere near the Disney thing. But I can’t imagine anything more disappointing than being a little kid and having a Disney trip rained out, even for one day. For their sake, I’m praying for sunshine.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm being snooty

On Sunday, I’m off to Orlando for a business doo-dah for four days.

I SO don’t want to go. The place we’re staying is right in the middle of the Disney World Nightmare Complex and that SO doesn’t appeal to me.

I’m being snooty.

It’s not that bad. I even enjoy the solitude of flying on long trips now that God invented i-Pods. That, combined with a really good book is actually something I look forward to.

I'm not looking foward to that silly aspect of "networking" for four days, though. I'm pretty much an introvert and bullshitting with people I don't know or care about takes a lot out of me.

But who knows? I might meet Mr. Right. (Mr. Inappropriate would even be okay.)
You never know.

A friend of mine suggested that I visit the Epcot center while I’m there. Apparently, it has all these exhibits from foreign countries that make you feel like you were really in Paris or Rome, etc.

That doesn’t appeal to me at all. (I’m being snooty again). I would still know that it was icky-sticky Florida with its alligators and mosquitoes nearby. The whole state of Florida just seems “fake” to me. Same goes for California. There’s just no way I’d feel like I was in Paris.

Why couldn’t this conference be held someplace civilized, like Boston? Or Seattle? Seattle is just as far from everything else as Orlando. Seattle doesn’t have alligators. And there are people I love and miss very much in Seattle.

Maybe a hurricane will appear and I won’t have to go.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Oh. My. God!

Just when you think you've seen it all, here are some guys who are offering themselves up as "mail order husbands."

I don't imagine that there are scores of women beating down their doors.

What is really scary is that there might be some women who actually respond to these winners. Can you imagine?

Who are these women?

Anyway, ladies, here are the guys. Fasten your seatbelts:

Leonard says the ladies used to call him "Dr. Love." He admits to having some bad luck so that's why he's "looking for a good woman who's got some dough."

Apparently, no one has snatched this fellow up in two years. You can get him at half price now.
Earl, here, is "ready for love." His attributes are weekly baths.
I took one semester of German and even I can translate this guy's ad. He likes beer.
Marcus advises against drinking paint thinner. Okay.
Who does Andrew remind me of??
Oh yeah! It's Timmy from South Park!
This winner got booted off of for cyber-stalking.
He's better now. Which is what all women are looking for.
Good Lord! This guy likes candlelight dinners. How much you wanna bet he's really had one?

So, there are the guys, just waiting to be snatched up and ready to be betrothed.
Thank god the Republicans have protected "the sanctity of marriage."


New Stuff

Lookie here!

A new, redesigned five-dollar bill is coming soon.
I’m so excited!

Really, all my life, I’ve gotten terribly excited over changes to everyday things. I remember staying up until midnight for an area-code change back in 1995. I lived in a suburb of Dallas and at midnight, our area code was changed from 214 to 972. I made phone calls right before-and-after the switch at midnight.
God! That was exciting.
Actually, it was pretty sad, but I enjoyed it anyway.

So, here is the new five dollar bill. I like the big purple “5” which will aid those with sight impairments.

I read that our $100s, 50s, 20s, 10s, and five-dollar bills will get a makeover every seven years. Wow! When I read that, it really gave me a comforting feeling; I’ll have something to continually look forward to for the rest of my life.

Having something to look forward to for the rest of one’s life is pretty sensational if you ask me.


I'm Lovin' It

What is McDonald’s slogan?

“I’m lovin’ it.”

You might want to re-think it when you read this article. Apparently, some McDonald’s workers were using a plastic bucket marked “Soiled Towels Only” to refill a milkshake machine. A customer noticed it, took a pic with her cell phone and reported it to the local news station in Orlando. She also reported it to McDonald’s headquarters. She and the local news station received different responses from McDonald’s.

Now McDonald's has three flavors of milkshakes:

But, you wanna know what one of the most unsanitary things you can encounter?

Holy water.

Think about it. You’ve got this little pool of water, sometimes with a wet sponge in it, with hundreds of folks dipping their fingers in it. Folks that have used the subway or bus on their way to church, picked their noses, gone to the toilet, and then dipped their fingers in there. I’d hate to think what the bacteria count is in that stuff. A restaurant inspector would shut down the church so fast it would make the priest's head spin like Linda Blair.

I was the sacristan for three years while in the monastery. One of the duties, other than being a glorified altar-boy, was to keep the holy water font supplied with holy water. We kept the holy water in a gallon-sized glass bottle and when it would get low, I’d fill it with tap water and a priest would bless it. (That’s how holy water becomes holy).

The idea of all those folks dipping their nasty, grubby fingers in there really got to me. So, after the priest did his thing, I did mine. . . .

I’d add a good-sized glurp of Clorox bleach to the jug holy water.

The priest may have made it holy, but damnit, I kept it sanitary.

So, when you go to mass, you might want to keep your hands out of that nasty, filthy holy water.

Labels: , ,

Trump Update

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Robbed of my Belgian Endive

Yesterday at the grocery store, I purchased four Belgian endive. I really like their bitter flavor and their little boat-shaped leaves are perfect for spreads like hummus.

When I got home and was unloading my granny-cart, my endive were missing. Could someone have stolen them while I was walking home? It would have been very easy to do so. I pull the cart behind me and the groceries are out in the open in a big purple insulated grocery bag from Whole Foods Market.

Some homeless person could have just reached in a grabbed whatever was on top. If he did nab my endives, I’ll bet he’s really disappointed.

Sure, it would have been a boon to nab something tasty, like the fried chicken tenders from the deli (which come with a side of “Tater Babies”). But no. He got a plastic bag containing four Belgian endive.

Serves him right.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Praying to Jesus

Frankly, I loved Kathy Griffin’s remarks during her Emmy acceptance speech when she said that “of all the people, Jesus had the least to do with it.”

At least she's acknowledging the fact that Jesus probably has a lot more on his mind than the successes of Hollywood celebs. Don't the "Christianists" get that?

Good for her for making fun of the people who thank Jesus for being (of all things) a successful celebrity.

I remember sitting in the high school band and before every football game, the student council president would pray to God for the safety of the players.

Even then, I thought that was ridiculous.

I can just hear Jesus thinking to himself on Friday nights:

“Ummm, you’re asking ME for the safety of the players? And you’re cheering for them to crash into each other as hard as possible?”

Isn’t that like a drunk getting behind the wheel of a car and praying for a safe ride home?

I’m not a big fan of Kathy Griffin, but that girl hit the nail on the head with her Jesus remark.

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Iwanski Made Me Do It

It was inevitable.

Continual interaction with Iwanski was bound to rub off.

I never wanted to let this happen.
But it did. . . .

This night, Iwanski did show up at my place. . .
. . . With a Sox baseball cap! (Miss Healthypants was with him)

And asked me to pose in it.
Ohhhh, I didn't want to do it,
but they were ever-so persuasive.

It was like they got a straight guy to do drag. . .
Then Miss Healthypants put on a Jazz CD and asked if I could play along.
Before you know it, I couldn't help BUT get into their Light Jazz & Funk;
Soon, all my know-how of twelve-bar Blues went out the window!And I NEVER wanted to admit it, but Iwanski made me do it . . .
.It's like he obtained an illusive pic of me posing as a rap artist

You know how they are with their Jazz recordings:
One thing leads to another . . .
. . . And then you're sucked into their inevitable din of degradation.As you can see,
It is, indeed, an awful result!J-BuckWheat, the Sox fan/Rap/Hip-Hop artist . . .
. . . well, maybe not. . .
But isn't this the oddest thing ever seen?

Iwanski is, indeed, brilliant.

Labels: , , , ,

My Workplace

I took this happy-snap of the building where I work as I was leaving today.

I've always loved this building, even before I moved to Chicago.

Many folks think that the John Hancock Building is the second-tallest building in Chicago since it's 100 stories, but it's not. The Aon Center (where I work) is only 80 stories , but it's actually nine feet taller.

The Hancock, at 100 stories, is comprised of condos, whereas the Aon Center is comprised of office space. The top of the Aon Center (where I work) is nine feet taller the top of the Hancock.
A lot of people in Chicago don't know that.

They think that since the Sears Tower has 110 stories, the Hancock has a hundred stories, then since the Aon Center has only 80 stories, that it's the third tallest building in Chicago.

That is SOooo not true!
MY office building is the SECOND tallest in Chicago.
NOT the third!

The top of the Sears Tower is 1450 ft
The top of the Aon Center is 1136 ft.
The top of the Hancock is 1127 ft.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Spire Update

Lookie here!

They've actually, really, and truly started construction on the 150-story Chicago Spire.

It will house 1,200 condos which were supposed to go on sale this month. However, the sales got pushed back 90 days. I don't know why.

I'm mad.

I was all ready to buy me a new condo. Right now, I live on the 49th floor in my building and I wanna "move on up" to the 149th floor.


Screaming for Ice Cream

While in Texas, I forgot to mention one of my favorite food items there:

Blue Bell Ice Cream

Their best flavor is the Homemade Vanilla which really does taste like the real thing. No kidding. It really does. The thing is, ALL of their flavors are incredibly good and each month they feature a new flavor that’s available for a short time. This month, it’s Southern Blackberry Cobbler. Here's a list of all their flavors

Blue Bell Creamery began as a small dairy farm in Central Texas and soon began making ice cream. When I lived in Texas, one could only find Blue Bell ice cream in a few counties surrounding the creamery. I remember driving to the next-county-over to procure this wonderful ice cream. Now it's available state-wide.

So, whenever I go home, my mom always has a gallon of Homemade Vanilla waiting for me. My dad always has some on hand. It’s usually eaten by the time I leave.

Oh, and Blue Bell is still sold only in Texas. But if you want some you can order it here. They’ll ship four gallons of your choice for 89 bucks.

Believe me, it might be worth it.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Poor Tubby

I love to watch my “geek channels” on TV. You know, the Science Channel, History Channel, Discovery Channel and the like. I especially enjoy the programs that feature the construction of bridges, skyscrapers and roller coasters.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the 1940 footage of the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. You know, the black-and-white footage of the suspension bridge that began swaying and rocking in the wind, then finally coming apart and tumbling into the water below. Anytime there’s a program about a bridge, you can be sure they’ll show that obligatory footage.

No one was hurt or killed in that disaster.
Except for Tubby.

If you notice on the footage, there’s a man walking on the bridge who had just escaped his car which he had left on the bridge. Inside that car was his cocker spaniel named Tubby.

Tubby didn’t make it. He went down with the bridge.

Every time that there has been a program about a bridge, I always say, “Okay, get it over with” when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge footage is shown.

Now, maybe I’ll have a little more reverence, knowing that Tubby the cocker spaniel is, indeed, perishing in that footage.


Rules to live by

Last night, I had to attend one of those horrid business “networking” functions at the Hyatt Regency. This function lasted from 4:00 to 7:00 pm and was strictly for networking with other business.

My boss was there, so I really had to “work the floor” for three solid hours. Definitely not my favorite thing to do.
I can do it, but I don’t like it.

I noticed that lots of people were really jovial, unusually ebullient and friendly. Hey, that’s nice, I was thinking. Lots of people were coming up to me rather than me forcing myself to them in order to “schmooze” and do the perfunctory business-card trade.

Then I noticed why everyone was so outgoing - - -
It was an “open bar” event.

Well, that explains it.

I hadn’t noticed the “open bar” because I have a strict rule about never drinking at a work function. I just don’t. I’ve learned, through experience, not to do that.

I have some other rules concerning work that I’d like to pass on. I think they’re pretty good rules to follow and have served me well over the years.
My experience has taught me:

1. Never have more than one drink with your boss.

2. Attach the attachments to emails FIRST. Then write the email. NEVER use the "Reply All" function.

3. When talking to employees that you supervise, pretend that your boss is listening.

And puppies, the most important one is:

4. Don’t get laid where you get paid.

There. I’ve passed my hard-learned experience on to you. It will serve you well.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Pretty Day in Chicago

My boss is away for a couple of days, so I was able to take this pic from her office window.
Needless to say, we're having glorious weather here in Chicago right now.


There’s this strange guy in Chicago who always wears these brightly colored suits, stands on the bridges over the Chicago River and waves at the tour boats going by. When a tour boat full of passengers approaches the bridge, he gives a wave and does a little dance, twirling around and around.

It’s very strange, but he always gets lots of attention from the tour boat passengers.
He’s become quite a fixture over the years and a story about him was even featured in Chicago Tribune.

Iwanski pointed him out to me and mentioned that he had always seen this guy (he's hard to miss) but never knew his name.

Well, one day I decided to meet the fellow so that I could relay the info to Iwanski. I introduced myself. His name is Vincent and he’s also sight-impaired. My first impression was that he was a very likeable fellow, although a bit strange with the loud clothes and all. I looked forward to letting Iwanski know that I had met this fellow and knew his name.

It also turns out that Vincent lives in my building on the 52nd floor, just three floors above me. One day, I saw him in the elevator and re-introduced myself. After all, here was this famous Chicago-guy living in my building with whom I was now on a first name basis.

Vincent hugged me. I mean, really hugged me. Then he invited me up to his apartment and said he’d like to see me try on some of his jackets, and then added, “but I’d also like to see you out of them.”

It turns out that Chicago’s loveable character, Vincent, is actually a Dirty Old Man.

I did not take him up on his invitation, by the way.

After that, I’d often encounter him in the elevator. I guess he would recognize my voice because every time, he’d make some flirty remark like that. Or give me a hug.

I got tired of that pretty quickly so whenever I’d see him in the elevator, I’d just be really quiet.

Then, a couple of weeks ago we were in the elevator together again. As I passed him to exit, I guess he sensed that I was a big tall guy or he like the way I smelled because I heard him say, “Ooooo. Nice!”

Like I said. Dirty Old Man.

This morning, he was leaving the building and I realized that a pic and story about him would make great blog-fodder. So, I kindly asked him if he’d pose for a pic and he obliged.

Here is the notorious Vincent of Chicago. If you ever see him doing his wave-and-dance on the bridge in a brightly colored suit, you’ll know who he is.

But he’s a Dirty Old Man.

I guess I should be flattered. The day will come soon enough when my presence will fail to illicit any remarks at all from Dirty Old Men.

That will be a very sad day, indeed.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A New "Little"

Some of you may recall that I’ve been a volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. In the program, I’m referred to as a “Big” and the little brother is called a “Little.”

My last “Little” had quite a few behavior/psychiatric issues and without going into details, the match had to be ended.

Well, I have a new “Little” now. The Littles range in age from seven to fourteen years old. The new Little is only seven, so he’s a Little-Bitty Little. I’ll be going to meet him and his mom tomorrow along with the social worker from the organization.

Apparently, the Little-Bitty Little likes rap music, so a re-direction process will be the first item on our agenda. Perhaps season tickets to the Lyric Opera of Chicago might be in order. I see that La Traviata and La Boheme are next in the season, so he’ll be off to a good start.

I’m kidding of course. Even I don’t like opera that much, but I’ll be damned if I’ll be buying him tickets to see that Ice-Tray guy.

I’m glad the weather is getting cooler. He likes outdoor activities and this Big does not “do” outdoors if it’s above 80 degrees. So, he’s come along at a good time. The outdoor ice skating rink opens in two months and I should imagine he might like that.

Since he’s a Little-Bitty Little, he might be too young for the roller coasters at Six Flags, but I’ll be sure to ask him. If he’s up for it, we will SO be there before the season ends.

I hope he likes me.

Out of Synch


Absolutely THE most insulting thing a singer can do to an audience. Period.

I'm amazed at how often it's done these days by pop artists in live performances. (Actually, it's NOT a "live" performance if the audience is subjected to a recording.) Britney Spears' recent disaster immediately comes to mind and she didn't even manage to lip-synch well.

I can certainly understand how challenging it must be to sing and dance at the same time. Or it Britney's case, to sing in your underpants. But lots of Broadway actors can do a decent job of singing+dancing every night, including additional matinees on weekends. Sometimes, even in their underpants.

Janis Joplin could certainly do it. But then again, she was fueled by gallons of Southern Comfort with heroin chasers. It helps.

I majored in music in college (piano major, voice minor). I've sung in front of lots of audiences. The one time I had to sing and dance at the same time was when I was a singing-and-dancing scarecrow in a production of The Wizard of Oz. (That number wasn't included in the film and it's really cute). It's tough to do and all I had to do was to prance around in circles and help catch the scarecrow at one point.

But I've never lip-synched anything. Sure, I've had some really embarrasing moments while performing. You bet, I've made some whopper mistakes. (Knocking over a piano bench before sitting down, dropping a microphone, moving my hand back and forth in front of my crotch while singing a solo without knowing it.)
But at least it was "live."

I would much rather see a Britney or Madonna performance where they sang and danced separately. Sing a number. Sing it LIVE. Then dance for a while. But if you're selling hit numbers, let us hear you sing your hits, especially if we've paid lots of bucks to hear you do it. If you make a mistake, big deal. At least it's honest.

And for god's sake, put on some clothes.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Back home

I’m back from vacation in Texas.

The flight was uneventful, except for the fact that it was packed flight and I was placed in the Worst Possible Seat on the airplane. (24D). It was the aisle seat on the very back row; you know, the one where you get bumped by every person going to-and-from the toilet and by speeding service carts being shoved in and out of the galley by frantic flight attendants. It’s also the one closest to the toilet-smells. And it’s also the one that doesn’t lean back because it’s in the last row, abutting the aforementioned toilet.

Of course, the guy in front of me insisted on being as comfortable as possible by leaning his seat ALL the way back into my lap. He was probably all of five-foot-four and was wearing green cowboy boots. Really. Green cowboy boots. Security officers should not have allowed someone like that on the plane.

As I was flying back to Chicago with my knees in my chest, I got out my i-Pod and was listening to Mozart’s Queen of the Night aria from “The Magic Flute.” I don’t know what happened, but I got teary-eyed. Then the tears started rolling. I don’t know what caused that. Maybe it was just “letting down” from seeing my family, etc.

So, there I was, just letting the waterworks fly while listening to opera while a line passengers waited to use the toilet next to me.
God, that’s lame.

Anyway, I got back to Chicago and as I was walking with my suitcase across the bridge next to my apartment building, I heard, “Duuuude!”

It was Miss Healthypants on her way home from the grocery store. Can you believe that?? Eight million people in the city and I run into MHP right off the bat.

It’s good to be home.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Dime Store Pics

It's my last day of vacation here in South Texas with my family.
Today, I was going through a big box of old pics and found this little treasure. Remember when you could go to the dime store like Woolworth's and get photos taken for $1.99? Here is one of them. I was about seventeen or eighteen.

God, I was pretty.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Deeper in the Heart of Texas

My Dad caught this armadillo in his armadillo trap. They're known to dig big holes in the yard and really mess it up.
So, after they're trapped, he takes them across the river and releases them in the woods.
Very humane.
Or, you can also give them to the woman who does my step-mother's hair.
She butchers and eats them.
Yep. Texas.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

I was driving from Austin Texas to the little bitty town where my dad and step-mother live yesterday. On the way is another little bitty town that has this barbecue place called the City Market. My dad says that the City Market has absolutely THE best barbecue in the state of Texas (and that says a lot).
So, I stopped by the City market in the little bitty town of Luling Texas. You have to go to the back of the place into this little room where the barbecue pits are. The little room is like a Dungeon of Hell. It's dark, about 120 degrees in there and the walls are black with soot. I don't know how those folks work in there all day. Anyway, you tell them what you want and they wrap it up in butcher paper. I got two pounds of pork ribs and two pound of beef brisket.
Oh. My. God. THIS is barbecue, folks. Hands down, the best I've ever eaten. I'm not that much of a meat-eater, but hey, when in Rome . . .

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More Mexican Food

I'm in Austin Texas now. We ate at Trudy's.
I'm going to have to spend a hell of a lot of time at Crunch Fitness when I get back to Chicago.
And it nothing else but carrots and tofu.
But in the meantime . . .

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Food. Texas-sized.

I had dinner with Dad and Sue yesterday. They live about 30 miles from my mom in another little bitty home town.
The local eatery, Don Bravo's, has THE BEST Tex-Mex food, hands down. If anything, the portions are certainly Texas-sized.
Here's a pic of the wall decor.
You don't get much more Texan than that.
I love it.
And here's a pic of two of our meals there: So good, it'll make you fall on the floor and holler!

Oh, and get this: None of these dinners cost over eight bucks.

You absolutely DO NOT find food like this outside of small-town Texas.
No way.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Whew! I made it!

My Regular Flight from Chicago to Houston on Continental Airlines made it right on time, which allowed me exactly 45 minutes to make my connecting flight at the Huge Continental Hub in Houston from Terminal C to Terminal A.
Normally, there is this awfully cute-n-fast tram-thing that connects you from Terminal C to A.
The awfully cute-n-fast tram-thing was, apparently, DEFUCNT.
So! They had this Horribly-Inefficient-Slow-Shuttlebus-Thing with which to connect passengers from terminals-to-terminals, hereafter referred to as the HISST.
I waited for 20 minites for the HISST when it finally arrived at Terminal C. There were also five-gazillion other passengers waiting for the HISST by that time who were also waiting for terminal C as well as Terminal B.
The person directing us all onto the bus spoke hardly any English at all.
"A" and "B" meant the same thing.
By the time a bus arrived, I had eight minutes until my flight was boarded. In Terminal A.
I tumbled into Terminal A and fled to the gate. The moment I got there, my flight was called. Yay! There were also thunderstorms in the area.
I called my mom and my dad from my cell phone to say that I had, indeed, made it onto the Little Bitty Scary Airplane to my Little Bitty Home Town.
I made it. The flight was fine and uneventful.
Remember how I mentioned in my last post how I didn't look forward to coming down to Texas where all the bugs were?
Well, I was the last passenger off the plane in Victoria, which of course, disembarks the passengers directly off the plane onto a Little Bitty Staircase. (LBS).
The moment I stepped onto the LBS, a Giant Flying Bug flew in my face and I was furtively waving my hands in front of my face trying to get the Giant Flying Bug out of my face. Mom was 30 feet away behind the glass thinking I was waving at her.
I was just in the process of stepping off a Little Bitty Scary Airplane in Texas, had been instantly attacked by a Giant Flying Bug, and was making a damn-good impression of Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, when my mom who was waiting in the little airport thought I was waving at her from the little airplane.
I was just frantically waving away a HUGE flying bug
Anyway, I hate the bugs.
We got here to my mom's place that afternoon. Relatives decended from four hundred miles away. I love them all, I really do. I hadn't seen my cousin, Patrick and his wife, Cindy, in five years. Patrick and I are the first-born grandchildren of my generation and our birthdays are 17 days apart. We grew up together. We went to summer camp together. We discovered Emerson, Lake & Palmer together. Pat and I go back a LONG way.
There was also his sister, Shannon, who is like the little sister I never had, along with her kids. (Pat is my age, Shannon is ten years younger)
Do you get the Irish connection here? I hadn't seen Pat and his family in five years. We just ate each other up.
My mom's place was the perfect meeting place. She has a big house and a swimming pool. Here are some pics.
Here I am with our newest member of the family. His parents are the sweetest people you'd ever want to meet. He's my first cousin, twice removed.
His name is "Cash".
We do "twice removed" and names like "Cash" a lot in Texas.
Don't worry. It's normal.
He's seven months old and likes pureed Spaghettio's.
And then, here is a family pic with me and my cousins. There were also lots of my first-cousins-once-removed around, of whom I am their "Uncle Buck."

It's good to be home!

While at O'Hare . . .

I’m writing this while waiting at O’Hare, waiting for the airplane to take me to Texas for my vacation. I’ll admit, this is the first time I’ve used a laptop at the airport. It’s pretty cool.

I need to find a Starbuck’s. There’s gotta be a dozen or so around here somewhere.

I have to admit, when I went to the men’s room here at the airport, I was wary of any nasty Republicans wanting to play footsie. I must imagine that every man in every airport is conscious of that now. Those Republicans are certainly influential.

I’m a little concerned about my flight to Texas in that I have less than an hour to transfer from the Regular Airplane to the Little Bitty Scary Airplane. There’s a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms down there. If my flight on the Regular Airplane is delayed, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t make the transfer.

We’ll see how it goes.

For the millions of you who read my website, (seven of you) since I’ll be on vacation, I might not be updating as much. Then again, I might be posting lots of pics of my lovely family members, pics of Mexican food, big Texas insects, etc.

It’s almost time to get on the Regular Airplane. I’m looking around to see if there how many babies might be shrieking during the flight.

Looks good so far. . .

. . . Oh, wait. Here comes a woman holding a little blue blanker to her chest. The blanket has little legs coming out the bottom.