Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lesbians vs. lesbians

It seems that three folks from the island of Lesbos in Greece are suing a Greek lesbian organization over the term “lesbian.”

Lesbos was the home of the ancient poet, Sappho, who praised the love between women.

Technically, residents of Lesbos are Lesbians. However, they don’t like the connotation of the word so they’re suing a lesbian organization.

I can see how this might be confusing. Take the following scenario:

A young boy from Lesbos attends a boarding school in Athens and says to his father,

Kid: Daddy, someone at school called me a Lesbian, so I clocked him.

Dad: Son, why did you do that? We're proud to be Lesbians!

Kid: We are?

Dad: Yes, your grandfather was a Lesbian too. We've been Lesbians for generations.

Kid: What about Aunt Sophie?

Dad: No, Aunt Sophie's a "dyke". There's a big difference.

I noticed that the article never pointed out an obvious solution. The inhabitants of Lesbos are Lesbians with a capital L.

Women like Aunt Sophie - - with a lower-case L.

Maybe the inhabitants of Lesbos should just change their term to "Lesbonians."

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The Dentist

I just got back from my friendly dentist who I let torture me in the chair for an hour.

When I was fifteen years old, I had a root canal done on a molar. The tooth has subsequently deteriorated underneath and the crown needed to be removed with a bridge put in its place.

I’ve been putting this off for a long time because:
a) It didn’t hurt
b) It would cost a lot of money.

Last night, I noticed the crown was loose so I called the dentist this morning. He could see me right away.

I thought he’d just remove the crown and I’d make another appointment to have the bridge work done.

Wrong! The molar-stump underneath had to be removed. At first, the dentist thought I’d have to go to an oral surgeon because the molar might be brittle. Then, he said he could probably do the work.

After procuring vice grips, a chisel and a jackhammer, he went to work. First the crown was removed. I don’t know what he did with it but I wanted to at least say good-bye to this crown.

You see, this gold crown and I have a history. Soon after I got it (I was fifteen, remember) it came off and I swallowed it. A call to the dentist revealed that a “search” should be done to retrieve the crown. Know what I mean?

Being a fifteen year-old, I was absolutely mortified at the prospect. My mom, being a single parent, had just been mortified over the cost of the crown.

There was no way I was going to do a “search”. There was no way mom was going to pay for another gold crown.

Mom won the stand-off. I was given a pair of Playtex gloves, a colander, and pointed to the bathroom for the next couple of days.

The crown was retrieved.

The colander was discarded.

So, the crown with which I’ve been intimate, is gone.

The dentist had to drill the molar in half, and pull and yank and tug, but he finally got it out. Then I had to have a couple of stitches. Now, I’m back at work with what feels like a Maxi-pad in my mouth.

I’ll go back in a month to have the bridge work done.

I just hope it stays put this time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gym Apparel

Now that I’ve been going to the gym every day, I’ve had the chance to notice the various fashions that folks seem to sporting there.

First of all, when did guys start wearing these little bitty ankle socks with their shoes? It just looks so strange to see shorts hanging below the knee and socks rising no higher than a tennis shoe.
When did that happen?

I can’t stand the feeling of socks that hang around my ankles. If I had my preference, I’d wear tube socks that came up to my knees.

Not wanting to look like a total dork, I bought a cool looking pair of black Nike warm-up pants. That way, I can wear my tube socks like God intended and still look halfway decent.

Also, I still couldn’t figure out if my blue shorts were really gym shorts. I have a sneaking suspicion that they may have actually been swim trunks. Those, along with my purple shirt probably made me look like a Smurf.

Now that I’ve noticed what other people are wearing, I’m all in black. Except for my tube socks.

The other night, there was this guy wearing what appeared to be skin tight ballet leotards. Trust me, little was left to the imagination. It looked like he had a squirrel tucked away in his “frontular area”.

My apartment building seems to have a lot of elderly folks who have probably lived there since the place opened in 1964. I see a number of them at the gym and think, “Good for you!”

But what is it about elderly men that make them wear black socks with their shorts? I swear, they seem to love this fashion statement.

I shouldn’t be critical. I’m sure that some young guys have been snickering at my Smurf outfit and my white tube socks.

At least the old guys in their black socks and me in my tube socks ARE THERE.

Dream Ticket

Monday, April 28, 2008


I was out with the Iwanski’s and our friend, Diane, on Saturday evening and there was the following advertisement at a bus stop:

It’s for toilet tissue; part of Cottonelle’s “Be Kind to Your Behind” advertising campaign.

Any thoughts?


Can You Believe This?

This post comes under the "Can You Believe This" category.

It seems this inmate who’s awaiting trial for the beating death of an Arkansas man is suing the county because they don’t feed him enough.

Broderick Lloyd Laswell weighed 413 pounds when he was incarcerated eight months ago. He’s now suing the county because he’s always hungry. He’s lost over one hundred pounds during the past eight months due to the jail’s 3,000 calorie-a-day meal plan.

"About an hour after each meal my stomach starts to hurt and growl. I feel hungry again,” Laswell wrote in his complaint.

Hmmm. . . .

My opinion?

I know he’s innocent until proven guilty. However, since our taxes are paying for his incarceration AND his meals, I think he should be charged for the cost equivalent of a hundred-pound loss with Jenny Craig.

Can you believe the audacity of some people???

Speaking of weight loss. . .

I’ve faithfully been going to Crunch Fitness & Torture Center every day for the past three weeks. Sometimes, I even go twice a day, doing cardio in the morning before work and weights in the evenings.

I’ve cut way back on carbies and pack away the veggies and fruits. What helps a lot is to have a thermos of protein glop with me that I make in the morning from frozen bananas, soy milk and protein powder. Trader Joe’s makes these nifty little frozen dinners like chicken Vindaloo, Pad-Thai with tofu, and Massamam chicken – all for $2.29 each.

So, I was very happy to put on my belt this morning and have to notch it up another notch. What made me even happier was that there were no more notches!
Moi has to stop by Macy’s and purchase a new belt on the way home today.

I still hate going to the gym. I hate it with a passion, but I like the results.
It’s been hard work. . .

. . . And then this four-hundred pound snurd has the audacity to sue the county because he’s hungry.

If found guilty, I think he should be given nothing to eat but durian fruit and anchovies.


Snowy Days and Mondays (in late April) Always Get Me Down

Ah! Springtime in Chicago!

The city officials have turned the fountains on in the parks. Brightly colored tulips adorn the medians of Michigan Avenue. Bikers and runners crowd the running trails along the lakefront. . .

. . . And it’s snowing!

That’s right. Snowing. On April 28th.

Will it ever end?

I’m going to sing a verse of “I’m Dreaming of a White Arbor Day. . ."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Neighbor

I have this neighbor next door to me who's really bugging me.

Apparently, she goes on these smoking binges about every two weeks and spends about 36 hours smoking non-stop.

The thing is, it seeps into my apartment somehow. I think it's coming through the ventilation system. But her cigarette smoke is so acrid and smells really awful.

One night, she was smoking so much it set off the smoke alarm and she couldn't get it turned off. She had her door to the hallway open and it set off the main alarm in the building. I poked my head around and looked into her front door.

I couldn't believe the sight. She's one of those people who hoards everything. The apartment was a total disaster. That's when I met this woman. . . .

Have you ever seen that TV program called "Intervention"? Each week they feature someone who's a drug addict, the family intervenes, the addict gets pissed off, everyone cries and the addict is whisked away to a treatment center. It's one of my favorite programs.

Anyway, my neighbor looks like a candidate for that program. She's a total mess. I don't know how she got to live here.

Well, she was on one of her binges yesterday. It lasted all through the night and this one was a doozey. Finally, early this morning she let up and must have crashed or something.

So, here it is on Saturday morning. Now that she's finally let up, what do I do?

I begin vacuuming my place while blaring "I Think I Love You" by the Partridge Family and singing along to it over and over. That'll show her.

I know she's got a right to smoke in her own place. I know I need to get maintenance up here and remedy this situation.

But in the meantime, she's going to get a good dose of David Cassidy and me early in the mornings.

By the way, singing "I Think I Love You" very loudly early in the morning is a fantastic way to begin your day.

I highly recommend it.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

The Haircut

I have an appointment to get my hair cut this afternoon.

I’m seeing a new hair cutter now. The last one I had, Rob, just up and left on me. Hair cutters are like that, you know.

Rob did a super-fantastic job on my hair. I really liked getting my hair cut by Rob because he was your typical honest-to-goodness homosexual hair cutter like God intended. Rob also worked in the homosexual hair-styling section of Chicago. I always say, if you want style, go to the source.

But like all good stylists, they find better places to work.
And he’s gone.

There are a whole bunch of shops in the lobby of the building where I work and I noticed a hair styling place down there recently. It turns out that the woman who owns it works alone and has been there for about fifteen years.

Shirley may not be “Rob”. She’s not a homosexual man, so naturally, she can’t do as good of a job as Rob.

But Shirley has two things going for her that I really like.

1. She’s close. I don’t have to make a special trip to the homosexual hair-styling section of Chicago to get my hair cut. I just stop by on my way out of my office.

2. She’s been there for a long time. I don’t think Shirley will up-and-move away on me anytime soon.

One thing I don’t like about Shirley is that she talks incessantly. I’m not one to enjoy small talk and inane banter that many hair cutters are wont to do.
Yap yap yap. . .

Also, I absolutely love the feeling of getting my hair cut. For someone to touch my hair is an absolute ecstatic experience for me. Really. If I shut my eyes while someone’s touching my hair, I’ll practically have an out-of-body experience. . . .

. . . And then, I’m zapped out of it by Shirley commenting on this-and-that. I just want to tell her, “Hey, Shirley. Sweetheart. This isn’t A Night at the Improv. Just do my hair.”

But Shirley really is a nice woman and I’m glad she’s here.

Still, it would be a perfect world if she hired Rob. . .

Touching a Sloth

Here’s an article about a guy who quit his job so that he could complete a list of 50 quirky tasks. Some of them include riding the fastest roller coaster in America and touching a sloth (both of which I have done, by the way). Other things include milking a cow on an Amish farm and going to Fenway park. (I’ve not done those).

That got me to thinking. What would be some quirky tasks I’d like to accomplish? I’m not going to come up with 50 of them because, hello, I’ve the motivation of a sloth. (which I’ve touched, remember?).

Also, this guy is 27 and I’m 49. I’ve already checked off a lot of quirky tasks in my lifetime.
Like touching a sloth.

By the way, did you know that a sloth’s fur goes backwards? It does. I've seen it firsthand, remember? It’s all pointed towards its head. That’s so the rain will run off of them as they hang upside-down in trees (when they’re not being eaten by tigers, that is).

So, here are 20 quirky tasks I’d like to accomplish.

1. Visit Iceland

2. Eat a balut egg (that’s the boiled duck egg in which the duckling has grown halfway)

3. Travel to Hoople, North Dakota

4. Try my hand at stand-up comedy

5. Paint the trim in my apartment

6. Make pomegranate molasses

7. Try absinthe

8. Live my whole life without ever visiting California (so far, so good)

9. Meet Hillary Clinton

10. See a UFO

11. Hold a yellow Lab puppy

12. Sing “I Think I Love You” at a karaoke bar (which just happens to be one of the greatest songs of all time).

13. Touch a sloth (Oh, wait. I’ve done that)

Okay, I’m bored with this.

See? No motivation.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I'm thinking of getting a "retro" wall clock for my place. Keep in mind that my apartment just screams "Nineteen sixty-four" at you.

So, which clock do you think is the most hideous?

Number 1:

Number 2:

Number 3:
Number 4:

Number 5:

Number 6:

Hmmmm. While Number 6 is definitely hideous, it's a bit too "Brady Bunch". I'm leaning toward Number 5. It's Classic Danish Modern all the way.

Gas Prices

So, gasoline is over four bucks a gallon here and folks are complaining.

I feel bad for those that have to make a living under these new prices: Cab drivers, pizza places, truck drivers and the like, for these price hikes seemed to have shot up faster than their compensation. But for those suburban soccer-moms who absolutely had to have a huge SUV complete with a seat-warmer, not so much.

I know. I shouldn’t be critical because I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I don’t have to own a car. On the other hand, I chose long ago to live in a place where I don’t have to own a car. I’d much rather spend the money it takes to own a car on other things. Like having pizza delivered.

I’m also lazy and selfish.

I don’t want a family because they would encroach upon my ability to do what I want, when I want to do it. Not to mention, my ability to date who I want.

I don’t want a house in the suburbs because they have lawns.

I hate lawns.

I hate anything to do with lawn care. You have to mow them, water them, keep bugs out of them, decorate them, and for what? If I had a lawn, I would never actually go outside to look at it. “Outside” is where it’s either too hot or too cold. Why would I want to go there?

I love where I live now. I love the fact that all grounds-keeping is done by paid professionals and occurs fifty stories below my dwelling.

I also don’t want a car because they require maintenance. To me, a car was really just a giant purse on wheels. I was really bad at keeping them maintained. Having the oil changed every thirty thousand miles was such a pain in the butt. I’d usually just trade them in before that.

Oh. And I checked the gas prices in Toronto today. It was $1.21 per liter. That comes out to $4.60 a gallon. At those prices, Soccer-Mom will have to shell out $138 bucks to fill up her giant SUV.

That’s a lot of money to keep her pampered butt warm.

The Man on the Street

Every morning on my way to work, I pass by this man who is on the same corner every day.

He is there every day, without fail, right there in the same spot on southwest corner of Wabash and Wacker.

I don’t know if he’s homeless or not because he’s not really asking for money. There’s no cup into which we can put our change. He just mumbles a “hello” or “good morning” to everyone passing by. However, he always averts his eyes, never meeting yours.

It is so odd, because not a day goes by that he’s not there. He’s probably got a better attendance record than any employee in the city. Any employer would love to have an employee like that. He’s recently injured his foot and is on crutches, but that doesn’t alter his daily routine.

He was there this morning, of course. After I passed by and crossed the street, I snapped this photo of him using my zoom lens. I’m sure Iwanski has seen him as well.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll stop and ask him what his deal is. Perhaps I’ll find out his name so I can say, “Good morning, xxxx” every day.

My guess, is that he is, in fact, homeless and has some type of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I’ll have to consult with Iwanski about this as I’m sure he knows something.

I’ll get back to you with further details. . .

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Colonoscopy

Here is Dave Barry's account of a colonoscopy.
It's classic Dave Barry:

A journey into my colon -- and yours

OK, you turned 50. You know you're supposed to get a colonoscopy, but you haven't. Here are your reasons:

1. You've been busy.
2. You don't have a history of cancer in your family.
3. You haven't noticed any problems.
4. You don't want a doctor to stick a tube 17,000 feet up your butt.

Let's examine these reasons one at a time. No, wait, let's not. Because you and I both know that the only real reason is No. 4. This is natural. The idea of having another human, even a medical human, becoming deeply involved in what is technically known as your ''behindular zone'' gives you the creeping willies.

I know this because I am like you, except worse. I yield to nobody in the field of being a pathetic weenie medical coward. I become faint and nauseous during even very minor medical procedures, such as making an appointment by phone. It's much worse when I come into physical contact with the medical profession. More than one doctor's office has a dent in the floor caused by my forehead striking it seconds after I got a shot.

In 1997, when I turned 50, everybody told me I should get a colonoscopy. I agreed that I definitely should, but not right away. By following this policy, I reached age 55 without having had a colonoscopy. Then I did something so pathetic and embarrassing that I am frankly ashamed to tell you about it.

What happened was, a giant 40-foot replica of a human colon came to Miami Beach. Really. It's an educational exhibit called the Colossal Colon, and it was on a nationwide tour to promote awareness of colo-rectal cancer. The idea is, you crawl through the Colossal Colon, and you encounter various educational items in there, such as polyps, cancer and hemorrhoids the size of regulation volleyballs, and you go, ''Whoa, I better find out if I contain any of these things,'' and you get a colonoscopy.

If you are as a professional humor writer, and there is a giant colon within a 200-mile radius, you are legally obligated to go see it. So I went to Miami Beach and crawled through the Colossal Colon. I wrote a column about it, making tasteless colon jokes. But I also urged everyone to get a colonoscopy. I even, when I emerged from the Colossal Colon, signed a pledge stating that I would get one.

But I didn't get one. I was a fraud, a hypocrite, a liar. I was practically a member of Congress.

Five more years passed. I turned 60, and I still hadn't gotten a colonoscopy. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got an e-mail from my brother Sam, who is 10 years younger than I am, but more mature. The email was addressed to me and my middle brother, Phil. It said:

``Dear Brothers,
``I went in for a routine colonoscopy and got the dreaded diagnosis: cancer. We're told it's early and that there is a good prognosis that they can get it all out, so, fingers crossed, knock on wood, and all that. And of course they told me to tell my siblings to get screened. I imagine you both have.''

Um. Well.

First I called Sam. He was hopeful, but scared. We talked for a while, and when we hung up, I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis. Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, ``HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called ''MoviPrep,'' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water.

(For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes -- and here I am being kind -- like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, ''a loose watery bowel movement may result.'' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, ''What if I spurt on Andy?'' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the hell the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand. There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was Dancing Queen by Abba. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, Dancing Queen has to be the least appropriate.

''You want me to turn it up?'' said Andy, from somewhere behind me.

''Ha ha,'' I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.
I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, Abba was shrieking ``Dancing Queen! Feel the beat from the tambourine . .''

. .. . and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that it was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.
But my point is this: In addition to being a pathetic medical weenie, I was a complete moron. For more than a decade I avoided getting a procedure that was, essentially, nothing. There was no pain and, except for the MoviPrep, no discomfort. I was risking my life for nothing.

If my brother Sam had been as stupid as I was -- if, when he turned 50, he had ignored all the medical advice and avoided getting screened -- he still would have had cancer. He just wouldn't have known. And by the time he did know -- by the time he felt symptoms -- his situation would have been much, much more serious. But because he was a grown-up, the doctors caught the cancer early, and they operated and took it out. Sam is now recovering and eating what he describes as ''really, really boring food.'' His prognosis is good, and everybody is optimistic, fingers crossed, knock on wood, and all that.

Which brings us to you, Mr. or Mrs. or Miss or Ms. Over-50-And-Hasn't-Had-a-Colonoscopy. Here's the deal: You either have colo-rectal cancer, or you don't. If you do, a colonoscopy will enable doctors to find it and do something about it. And if you don't have cancer, believe me, it's very reassuring to know you don't. There is no sane reason for you not to have it done.

I am so eager for you to do this that I am going to induce you with an Exclusive Limited Time Offer. If you, after reading this, get a colonoscopy, let me know by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to Dave Barry Colonoscopy Inducement, The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132. I will send you back a certificate, signed by me and suitable for framing if you don't mind framing a cheesy certificate, stating that you are a grown-up who got a colonoscopy. Accompanying this certificate will be a square of limited-edition custom-printed toilet paper with an image of Miss Paris Hilton on it. You may frame this also, or use it in whatever other way you deem fit.

But even if you don't want this inducement, please get a colonoscopy. If I can do it, you can do it. Don't put it off. Just do it.

Be sure to stress that you want the non-Abba version.

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My Little Neighborhood

As I was heading out of my apartment building this morning, I looked up (something I rarely do) and thought this would make a great pic. The tall building in the background is where I work, just five blocks away.

And just a block away is where Iwanski and Miss Healthypants live. (It's the building with the blue "Condo" banner on it).
How lucky can a guy be? Getting to live just a block away from such nice people. . .

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One of the Funniest Jokes -- Ever

Every once and a while, I come across a joke that really tickles my funny bone. It doesn't happen often, (I'm a snob, remember?) but there are a few that I really love.

Here's one sent to me recently by my friend, Jack.
He's Polish and grew up with a Polish grandma.

Here it is. . .

An elderly Polish man lay dying in his bed. While suffering the agonies of impending death, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite pierogi with fried onions wafting up the stairs.

He gathered his remaining strength, and lifted himself from the bed. Gripping the railing with both hands, he crawled downstairs.

Downstairs, he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen, where if not for death's agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven, for there, spread out upon waxed paper on the kitchen table were hundreds of his favorite pierogi.
Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of love from his wife of sixty years, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?

He threw himself towards the table, landing on his knees in a crumpled posture. His parched lips parted, the wondrous taste of the pierogi was already in his mouth.

With a trembling hand he reached up to the edge of the table, when suddenly he was smacked with a wooden spoon by his wife.

"Back off!" she said.

"Those are for the funeral!"

The Waterview Tower

I seem to be talking about buildings a lot lately. . . .

But, yes, Chicago is definitely going through a building boom. At the moment, there are four condo buildings under construction that will be over 80 stories tall.

They are:

The Chicago Spire at 150 stories (I wanna live there)

The Trump International Monstrosity at 96 stories

The Waterview Tower at 90 stories

“Aqua” at 82 stories.

I’ve mentioned all of these except for The Waterview Tower. It’s going up just across the river from my place.

It seemed like, forever, that they were building the foundation for this place. I guess it’s because a 90 story building is being built on such a teeny-weeny spot of land, so the foundation must have to be extra special.

But, they’ve finally started building the actual building and it’s slowly rising. Soon, I will have 90 stories of dwellers all staring in my apartment, watching me watch Judge Judy.

Anyway, here it is being built. It’s to the right of the big building and will be a lot taller than the big building.
And here’s what it’ll look like when completed.
Oh, and just in case you’re wanting to live there, it looks like it’s going to be extra snooty. Prices range from a paltry $725,000 to a cool $25 million.

Who are these people that are going to live there??

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Gas Pains

I don't know what gas costs elsewhere, but here's what I paid today in downtown Chicago:


Quick Pics

I don't have much time to blog today. I doubt that I'll even get to eat lunch.

So, here are some neat-o pics from this weekend.

Inside a subway in Chicago
Portia playing with her stuffed duck. (It quacks when bitten)

Portia "in repose" with her stuffed bunny.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sex and the City -- The Movie

Next month, the Sex and the City movie will be released.

On April 15, actor Cynthia Nixon (Miranda) let it slip that one of the characters will die in the movie.

Apparently, the blog world has gone crazy with speculations of who it will be. That’s so stupid and such a waste of time. . .

. . . Really. . .

. . . So, who do you think it’ll be???

My bet?

Since you asked, I think it’ll be Steve, Miranda’s husband. His testicular cancer will return. Then, Miranda will be able to sell their house in Brooklyn and move back to The City where she belongs.

Besides, Cynthia Nixon was the one who let it slip, so it's gotta be Steve.

I’m so glad I didn’t jump on the bandwagon like all the other bloggers.

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Chicago is definitely experiencing a condo-building boom.

Besides the 92-story Trump tower, the 150-story Chicago Spire, the 87-story condo building called Aqua is also shooting toward the skies of the Windy City.

It’s being built right across the street from my workplace and going up so fast that I just now noticed the darn thing.

Here are some snaps.
The balconies on this thing are so incredibly unique. Each floor has a different configuration of balconies so that, when complete, they’ll give the entire building an undulating effect.

SO. . . VERY. . . COOL!!!

Here's what it'll look like when completed:

I cannot imagine the complexity of the mathematical equations those balconies must require in order to specify their dimensions.

Get this - - the designer/architect is a woman, Jeanne Gang.
I thought only boys could build things.

I so wish I could have cheated off her tests during high school algebra. I’ll bet she could make those quadratic equations just sing.

Yes, the Aqua building is definitely unique.
But I still love my goofy Marina Towers with all its retro appeal and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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I Felt The Earth Move. . .

Last night, I was roused from my sleep to find myself gently, but rapidly bouncing up and down.

Half asleep, I thought, “This might be an earthquake.”

It really felt weird to be going boing-boing-boing like that, especially since my 60-story apartment building is solid concrete.

I took a look at the clock, just to note the time in case it was, actually, an earthquake.

4:39 a.m. (My clock is a little off)

Lo and behold, here’s the report from WLS:

WEST SALEM, Ill. (WLS) -- Residents across the Midwest were awakened Friday by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake that rattled skyscrapers in Chicago's Loop and homes in Cincinnati but appeared to cause no major injuries or damage.

The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered six miles from West Salem, Ill., and 45 miles from Evansville, Ind. It was felt in such distant cities as Milwaukee, Des Moines, Iowa, and Atlanta, nearly 400 miles to the southeast.

Several aftershocks -- the largest measuring 4.5 -- rumbled through the region hours later.

"It shook our house where it woke me up," David Behm of Philo, 10 miles south of Champaign, said of the quake.

"Windows were rattling, and you could hear it. The house was shaking inches. For people in central Illinois, this is a big deal. It's not like California."

In Mount Carmel, 15 southeast of the epicenter, a woman was trapped in her home by a collapsed porch but was quickly freed and wasn't hurt, said Mickie Smith, a dispatcher at the police department.

The department took numerous other calls, though none reported anything more serious than objects knocked off walls and out of shelves, she said.

Also in Mount Carmel, a two-story apartment building was evacuated because of loose and falling bricks. Police cordoned off the building, a 1904 school converted to residences.

Bonnie Lucas, a morning co-host at WHO-AM in Des Moines, said she was sitting in her office when she felt her chair move. She grabbed her desk, and then heard the ceiling panels start to creak. The shaking lasted about 5 seconds, she said.

The quake is believed to have involved the Wabash fault, a northern extension of the New Madrid fault about six miles north of Mount Carmel, Ill., said United States Geological Survey geophysicist Randy Baldwin.

The last earthquake in the region to approach the severity of Friday's temblor was a 5.0 magnitude quake that shook a nearby area in 2002, Baldwin said.

"This is a fairly large quake for this region," he said. "They might occur every few years."
Initially reported as a 5.4-magnitude earthquake, the USGS revised its estimate to 5.2. There also were several aftershocks.

The largest one so far was centered 5 miles of West Salem, according to the USGS and was a 4.5 magnitude. Two others measured 2.6 and 2.5.

"There are aftershocks going on right now," the agency's Gary Patterson said from Memphis. "I can assure you, there are dozens."

The early morning quake rattled a large swath of the nation.

"This was widely felt, all the way to Atlanta, a little bit in Michigan," said USGS geophysicist Carrieann Bedwell.

Phones started ringing at the Crawford County Sheriff's Department in Robinson, about 15 miles north of the epicenter, but there were no immediate reports of damage, dispatcher Marsha Craven said.

"They didn't know if it was the refinery blowing up or an earthquake," she said, referring to a local petroleum refinery.

In Cincinnati, Irvetta McMurtry said she felt the rattling for up to 20 seconds.

"All of a sudden, I was awakened by this rumbling shaking," said McMurtry, 43. "My bed is an older wood frame bed, so the bed started to creak and shake, and it was almost like somebody was taking my mattress and moving it back and forth."

Lucas Griswold, a dispatcher in West Salem, said the Edwards County sheriff's department received reports of minor damage and no injuries.

"Oh, yeah, I felt it. It was interesting," Griswold said. "A lot of shaking."

There were very few reports of damage in West Salem, a small town dotted by brick buildings and ranch-style homes in the middle of farm country.

"We're very thankful we had no one injured," said Harvey Fenton, West Salem's police and fire chief. He said a chimney fell off the roof of one house and there were various reports of cracks in walls.

Fenton was asleep in his house when the earthquake hit.

"A major shaking is the best way I can describe it," said Fenton, 58, who wasn't sure what to make of the sudden rumbling, thinking it was thunder or perhaps an explosion.

In Louisville, Ky., the quake caused some bricks to fall off a building near downtown. Television video showed them strewn in the street.

The quake shook skyscrapers in downtown Indianapolis, about 160 miles northeast of the epicenter and in Chicago's Loop, 230 miles north of the epicenter.

Chicago officials were checking structures downtown to ensure there was no damage.

On the Edens Expressway near Chicago a rebar pushed up from the pavement Friday morning and "flattened a few tires," said Illinois State Police spokesman Lt. Scott Compton, but it was unclear whether the quake had caused the expressway damage.

The strongest earthquake on record with an epicenter in Illinois occurred in 1968, when a 5.3-magnitude temblor was recorded about 75 miles southeast of St. Louis, according the USGS. The damage was minor but widespread and there were no serious injuries.

In 1811 and 1812, the New Madrid fault produced a series of earthquakes estimated at magnitude 7.0 or greater said to be felt as far away as Boston. They were centered in the Missouri town of New Madrid (pronounced MAD rid), 140 miles southeast of St. Louis.

Experts say that with the much higher population in the Midwest, another major quake along the New Madrid fault zone could destroy buildings, bridges, roads and other infrastructure, disrupt communications and isolate areas.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm Due For Some Kangoo

Well, this is serendipitous, or auspicious, or whatever. But remember how I joined the gym last week?

Well, my employer told us today that they will pay $50 per month toward any employee’s gym membership. How do you like them apples!

My membership at the nice Crunch Fitness is $64 a month.

So, I get to go to Crunch for fourteen bucks a month. My monthly iced chai tea latte bill is more than that.

Oh, and remember the Kangoo aerobic classes? I signed up for them and begin Saturday morning. (One has to sign up ahead of time so they know what size of Kangoo boots to have on hand).

Here’s a video of the Kangoo class at my gym. Check it out.

It looks like fun, but I’ll bet it’s quite a workout. And I’m soooo out of shape.

I hope they have lots of iced chai tea latte on hand.

Dinner at Lao Sze Chuan - - Again and Again

Last night was our outing to our favorite restaurant, Lao Sze Chuan, so of course I have to blog about it.

Liane proposed a brilliant idea: “Why don’t we order entrées we’ve never had before?”

Seeing that Lao Sze Chuan has the largest menu of any restaurant, ever, we thought that was a fantastic idea. (There’s even an entire new menu section that features frog dishes of every kind, such as “Boiled Frog in Spicy Szechuan Sauce.)

However, crab Rangoon for Miss Healthypants and pot-stickers for Liane are always a mainstay, so there’s that.

We couldn’t do without peapods in garlic. They are just too utterly fantastic and besides, we don’t consider it to be an entrée.
Isn’t it pretty? See why we have to have it every time?

We all agreed that the “Nine Story Pagoda Chicken with Basil Leaves” sounded too intriguing to pass up. (It’s in the upper left)
I don’t quite know what about it resembles a nine-story pagoda. Whatever it was, we liked it and will probably order it again sometime.

We also had spicy noodles with ground pork. It came in a lot of VERY spicy sauce. I ate most of it. We also ordered this fish-and-tofu dish. The fish was great. The tofu, not so much. This was a lot of food for three people. We managed to eat just about all of everything.

Oink. . .

Oink. . .

Of course, afterward I herded us down to the new smoothie place that features smoothies made from the infamous durian fruit.

Here’s a pic of a durian fruit cut in half.

It definitely looks like something from Alien

The moment we walked into the smoothie place, I could smell the musky scent of durian in the air. I ordered a durian-coconut smoothie for us all to try.

Liane and I both agreed that durian is very reminiscent of rotten onions. I don’t even want to think of what eating pure durian must be like. Eating durian that’s alloyed with coconut and smoothie’d is bad enough.
So, there was our evening. It was fantastic.

If any of you are ever in Chicago. . . .

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In Honor of His Holiness

In honor of Pope Benedict's visit, I re-edited an article that I wrote a couple of years ago. I know it's edgy, but at least I got to use the three years of Latin I was forced to take.

Pope Benedict XVI Approves Measure to Increase Vocations to the Priesthood

Washington D.C. —Responding to the need for priestly vocations in the U.S., Pope Benedict XVI ordered officials from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to sponsor the first annual Running of the Altar Boys in hopes of attracting new members to its all-male clergy.

The Pontiff made the announcement today during his birthday celebration hosted by President Bush and his wife.

“There was mounting pressure from liberal-minded Catholics to allow married men and even women into the priesthood,” decried a spokesman for the U.S. Conference, Fr. Antonio Carrozini. “In order to thwart those proposals, we knew we had to quickly replenish the dwindling numbers of men among our clergy.”

Fr. Carrozini reported that the pontiff thought of the idea after watching the popular "Running of the Bulls" festival in Pamplona, Spain, where bulls chase participants down a narrow village street.

“It began as a means of provoking the bulls to the market where they would be slaughtered,” he said. “The Blessed Father, in all his divine wisdom, decided to adopt it as a means of attracting vocations to the priestly life.”

In the proposed Papal version, seminarians from across the U.S. would have the opportunity to chase hoards of altar boys down the newly named Via Pueris (Way of the Boy), a narrow, kilometer-long street bordering Vatican City. Any seminarian enrolled during the 2007-2008 church year would be eligible to participate in the rough-and-tumble event to be held in December.

The theme for this year’s event will be Effercio Rectorum Nostrae (Fill up our Rectories).

As expected, enrollment in seminaries has dramatically increased tenfold since the pontiff’s announcement.

“The results have been astounding,” said Carrozini. “But procurement of altar-boys willing to participate proved to be more challenging.”

As usual, Vatican officials turned to members of Opus Dei, a lay organization known for their radically conservative agenda and staunch support of the Vatican.

“We were thrilled when the Vatican contacted us to supply altar-boys!” responded Opus Dei president and ex-Senator, Rick Santorum. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support the Holy Father and for our sons to interact with his fine clerics.”

Santorum thought for a moment and sighed, “I only wish I’d had this opportunity when I was their age.”

Vatican guidelines state that prospective altar boys between the ages of eight and twelve-and-a-half are to attend a two week training camp staffed by a Roman Catholic branch of Promise Keepers. During the two week stay, the boys are groomed for the chase by participating in various running, tumbling and wrestling events.

“I was really concerned that the Roman Catholic priesthood might become a thing of the past,” said Fr. William McNeary, vocation director for the Washington Theological Union.

“Thanks to this event and the insight of our Blessed Father, the Church as we’ve come to know it will remain steadfast and unchanged. Why, it makes me want to be a seminarian again!”

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Trump in the Morning

I snapped this pic of the Trump Tower on the way to work this bright and sunny morning.

They've still got about 15 stories to go, but the hotel that occupies the first 16 floors is already open.

Just in case any of you want to stay there during your visit to Chicago.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eating Plants is Bad

First, we were told that killing cows for meat was morally unethical. I can go along with that. I would find no great hardship in being a vegetarian.

Then, we learned of the horrid conditions under which dairy products and eggs were obtained.

Becoming a vegan? Hmmm. Okay.

But now, a group of Swiss experts say that we shouldn’t be killing plants either.

So, that leaves fruitarianism as the only option. Fruitarians are folks that obtain most of their food from fruits that fall from trees; not picked fruit, heaven forbid. (Picking fruit involves “taking” and that’s bad.)

I’m exaggerating about the Swiss group. They just say that decapitating flowers for our pleasure is unethical.

I tried going vegan for a good while and actually did okay with it. That is, until I came across the mixed grill at Trudy’s restaurant in Austin, Texas. It featured a char-grilled jalapeno sausage and all my principles went flying out the window.

Friday night before attending the movie premier, my boss and I ate at a Thai restaurant downtown. Their Spicy Crazy Noodles are wonderful, so I ordered that. (They contain chicken and shrimp).

Sunday night, I was lazy so I ordered Spicy Crazy Noodles from the very same restaurant and had it delivered. (They still contained chicken and shrimp)

Wednesday night, several of us are going to Lao Sze Chuan for dinner. They feature Beef in Szechuan Sauce that is to die for.

But you know, I could probably ask them to prepare the same dish with tofu and I’d enjoy it just as much. After all, the idea of eating sliced bovine cadavers is pretty disgusting when you really think about it.

Nah. . . .

That cow’s going down.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spire Update

I've been providing updates on the Trump International Hotel and Tower which will top out at 92 stories.

Now, I can begin giving updates on the even taller Chicago Spire which will be 150 stories. They've started contstruction on the foundation and have alredy begun to sell the condos.

The penthouse which will be located on the 140th and 141st floor is still up for sale. If any of you have $40 million you'd like to plunk down, it's available.

Here's the construction on the foundation.
Isn't this exciting?

Here's what it'll look like when completed in 2011:


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Attending a Movie Premier

I attended a movie premier Friday night and it was pretty cool.

It was the U.S. release of the film called Blindsight which "follows the gripping adventure of six Tibetan teenagers on their journey to climb a mountain in the shadow of Everest. A dangerous journey soon becomes a seemingly impossible challenge made all the more remarkable by the fact that the teenagers are blind."

The U.S. release of the film was here in Chicago. Since my boss and I manage a state-wide program that serves individuals with disabilities, we attended the "event" along with lots of others in the disability community.

First of all, it was an excellent film and it'll make you cry. If a film makes me cry at an unexpected moment and make a fool of myself in front of my boss, then I like it.

However, I cannot express too many superlatives about it. It wasn't your typical Disney or Touchstone feel-good movie. You'll probably only find this film at your out-of-the-way movie houses, but you never know. Put it on your "wanted" list with Netflix or Tivo.

It was also nice to be with lots of assistance doggies around. All assistance dogs are so appealing and I always want to pet them or say "hey, doggie!" However, we have to remember that they're "on duty" and not to be distracted.

You might wonder how blind people attend a movie. Well, since this particular film was about blind teenagers, there was "assistive technology" available -- wireless headphones into which a narrator described the scenes and what was happening in the film.

I tried using the headphones for a while but it was too distracting for me since I kept "sighting" the film. Also, much of the film was in Tibetan with English subtitles. I kept watching the screen for the subtitles rather than relying on the narrator.

Afterward, one of the main characters featured in the film, Sabriye Tenberken, a blind German woman who was also a mountain climber/social worker, gave a speech and engaged the audience in a question-and-answer.

She also gave us all an opportunity to adopt a Tibetan yak for five hundred dollars, so there's that.

Anyway, if any of you have a chance at all of seeing Blindsight, by all means do so. It will definitely give you a new outlook on life and raise your human spirit to unknown heights. . . .

. . . Not that I'm into any of that.

After all, I had to "network" with people in the lobby afterward.

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At the Gym

Gym Update:

Yes, I actually went to the gym yesterday after joining up again.

First of all, I've gotta get me some updated gym clothes. Crunch Fitness is a pretty snazzy place and I looked like such a major dork in my blue shorts and purple shirt.

Actually, I'm not sure if they're really shorts or swim trunks.

Whatever. I did 30 minutes of cardio at a pretty good clip. I like the reclining bicycle thingy because (1) the treadmill hurts my shins (2) I get to surf the net while I work out and most importantly (3) I get to sit down.

In order to get the thing to turn on, I had to enter my age (49) height (6'2") weight (225) and sex (Male, last I checked). I picked the level of difficulty and it set the timer according to my stats.

The stupid thing said I could only pedal for 16 minutes.

I'm not THAT out of shape! Silly machine.

I easily did 30 minutes. Bah!

Now, what's with this music they play in the gym? It was either Rap (which is not music) or it was Madonna.

I might suggest to the nice Crunch people that they feature a Vivaldi or Bach harpsichord night. That might provoke me to the gym. (See? . . . Dork)

Hell, I'd even settle for a 70's Disco night. A Led Zeppelin night (just the first four albums, thank you) or a Janis Joplin night would totally rock.

I still need to check out the Peek-a-Boo showers that are featured in each Crunch Fitness. Those are showers where one can lather and sihouette one's naked self behind lighted opaque glass for all to see. It's a signature feature of Crunch; sort of naughty.

However, the Peek-a-Boos are downstairs where the big weights are; where the big, roided-out body builders huff and puff and scream at the weights.

I don't go down there. Especially in my dorky blue swim trunk-shorts and purple shirt.

Friday, April 11, 2008

As Expected. . .

Here in Chicago, we always get one little snowfall toward the middle of April. It's just nature's little reminder of where we live.

This year will be no exception. Snow is forecast for tomorrow and Sunday, April 12 and 13.

This year has been one hell of a Winter. Not only did we have a white Christmas, but a white Ground Hog Day, St. Patrick's Day and a white Easter. Lake Michigan was frozen solid for a good number of weeks.

I'm actually ready for Spring. However, I will enjoy this one last little poof of snow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Gym . . . Again

Oops. I did it again.

Once again, I joined The Gym. This makes the third time in the last three years.

There’s a very nice Crunch Fitness in the lobby of my apartment building. I don’t actually have to go anywhere in order to go to The Gym. One would think that such convenience would make it easy for me to consistently work out.

Think again.

I was visiting my parents last week and for the first time, my dad and I weighed the same amount. That’s not saying my dad is overweight. Far from it. He power-walks three miles a day, goes to the gym, and even participates in one of those Salsa-aerobics classes once a week.

My dad is two inches taller than I am and 21 years older, yet we weigh the same. So, I need to get my butt in the gym.

I walked into Crunch Fitness last night, sighed, and announced to the attendant, “I have to join the gym. . . Again.”

He asked me why I had quit two times before.

“I’m lazy and I don’t like working out because it hurts,” I said dryly.

All my information was still in their system from the last time I quit five months ago. They just needed me to re-authorize the payments.

As he was processing the paperwork, I noticed their promotional video on the TV screen. It was showing all the activities in which one can gleefully participate at Crunch Fitness.

They now feature “Strip Aerobics” where one can writhe around a pole. There was only one guy in the class. I don’t think I’ll be participating in that.

They also feature “Stiletto Aerobics” where one can wear fishnet stockings and prance around in super-high heels. I don’t think I can find a woman’s size 14 EEEEE stiletto even if I wanted to. (And you know what they say about guys who wear a size 14 women's shoe)

One can sign up to play dodgeball.
Yeah, right.

I'm currently paying a therapist to get over the trauma of being subjected to dodge ball in grade school. Paying a gym to play dodge ball would be extremely counter-productive, both finacially and psychologically.

The “Kangoo” thing looks like fun. It says, “Kangoo is the exercise boot with bounce. Strap on a pair of Kangoos, equipped with springs on the bottom and hop, jog, and jump your way through this low impact workout.”

The Kangoo class was going on while I was here. It sure looked like fun.

(see pic)

There’s also Disco Yoga. That sounds promising.

Finally, the guy came back with my new, shiny membership card. As I was signing the paperwork and he said something really horrible and offensive to me:

“So, did you want to work out tonight?” he chirped.

“Are you kidding me????”
(I really said that).

Didn’t he remember that I’m lazy and don’t like to work out because it hurts?
Besides, it was time for Sex and the City.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I’ve been tagged several times with the following survey. In it, we’re supposed to answer the following questions by using song titles by a music artist of our choice.

My favorite group of all time is, hands down, "Emerson, Lake & Palmer", so all these questions are answered using titles to their pieces.

Who’s Emerson, Lake & Palmer?

They just happen to be THE best band of all time, hello????

Their heyday was in the early to mid 70s and their genre was considered "Classical Rock". Subsequently, most of their lyrics were of existential angst, doom and gloom. (Perfect for a teenager such as myself).

I'm not like that anymore. I'm middle aged and I don't "do" negative. But it was fun to use their titles.

I think Eric will be the only person who will appreciate this. We're ELP comrades.

Oh, and if you're reading this, you are thus "tagged."

Here goes. . .

Are you a boy or a girl? Lucky Man

Describe yourself: C’est La Vie

Describe your day: Gone Too Soon

Describe where you currently live: So Far to Fall
(I live on the 49th floor)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Close to Home

Your favorite color is: Black Moon

What's the weather like? Footprints in the Snow
(It's supposed to snow this weekend -- April 12

If your life was a television show, what would it be called? 3rd Impression

What is life to you? Brain Salad Surgery

What is the best advice you have to give? Change

Describe your ex: Give Me a Reason to Stay

Your current relationship status: Heart on Ice

What's your favorite hobby? Burning Bridges

What do you think of your friends? Nobody Loves You Like I Do

What do your friends think of you? 2nd Impression

What does your current love interest think of you? Daddy
(Sorry, I'm old and couldn't resist that one)

You always travel with: Bonus Track

The best way to end a long day: Closer to Believing

Your occupation is: The Sheriff

When you grow up, you want: Infinite Space

What does your family think of you? The Endless Enigma

You want to be remembered as: A Medley


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My World is Rocked

Occasionally, I’ll come across a product that just rocks my world. My new “Travel Tow” is one such product.

For years, I’d been complaining to a friend of mine that the rolling-suitcase people don’t make the extending handles long enough for tall people. Every time I’m schlepping my rolling suitcase through airports, there I am tilted to the left because the handle isn’t long enough.

I hate that.

My friend is five-foot-three and she thought it was pretty audacious of me to complain about anything that doesn’t suit tall people.

So, she found this “Travel Tow” thingy, and like a good friend, had one sent to me.

It rocked my world.

Not only does it give the handle the much-desired extension, but it swivels and also pivots 360 degrees. It makes pulling a suitcase SO much easier. It attaches to any handle by means of two Velcro straps. Anyone of any size would enjoy it.

I also use it to pull my grocery cart behind me.

As I was wheeling my way through O’Hare from gate 1 to gate Z-412, I just knew everyone was watching me, envious of me and my cool Travel Tow on my suitcase.

Really, they were. I just knew it.

Here’s a website where you can get it for about eleven bucks. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I’m going to buy about ten of them.

My Christmas shopping?


Portia Update

We just got some good news about our dear Portia today.

As you might know, one of her daddies is a veterinarian and he noticed some lumps in chest area. Aware that the condition might be cancerous, especially since Portia is nearing eleven years old, he took her in for an ultrasound this morning.

Good news. It’s benign.

Sighs of relief ensued.

Here is a very recent photo of Portia at Doggie Beach, taken this past weekend. Apparently, she found a 25-pound log and carried it around everywhere, even back to the car. Her retriever instincts definitely kicked in.

As you can see, she's definitely strong and healthy.

It’s good to know she’s got a very good healthcare plan and lots of folks who love her.

Air Travel

Having just flown to Texas and back, I have some ideas about traveling by air.

It’s boring.

There’s only so much you can do to entertain yourself on a three hour flight.

I don’t want to engage in conversation with a stranger. When that has occurred, I’m always wondering if I’m talking too much or not enough. One never knows with a stranger.

I like to have a really good book to read on the flight, but really good books are hard to find. Also, if I have my nose in a book, it usually deflects any strangers from chatting me up.

I like to look out the window if it’s daytime and the weather is clear. After all, it’s pretty interesting to see how we’ve laid out our little world.

But at thirty-five thousand feet up, the world seems to go by pretty slowly. Illinois and Kansas are pretty boring places to fly over.

I used to get nervous during flights but not anymore. Now I’m just bored. When the plane encounters turbulence (or “a bit of choppy air” as the pilots call it), I’m thinking, “Well, at least something’s happening.”

I wish each airline company would offer flights that flew really close to the ground; just high enough not to run into buildings or animals. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

There went Peoria.

Was that Des Moines?

Also, the plane ride is always more exciting when the plane gets low to the ground. There’s a lot more movement and bouncing around. Wouldn’t a three-hour flight that was totally low to the ground be exciting? It sure wouldn’t be boring.

I think the pilots would have a lot more fun flying a big airliner low to the ground. At 35,000 feet, you know they’re probably dozing off or playing solitaire (or blogging) up there in the cockpit.

If the pilots were allowed to have fun flying the plane, that would sure make it more exciting. “Okay, ladies and gentlemen, for the next fifteen seconds, we’re going to fly this puppy upside down. Please fasten your seatbelts and return your tray tables to their locked position. Here we go!”

On a completely different note, here’s something I can’t figure out. Why do airlines load the first class passengers first?

If I was flying first class (which I’ve yet to do), I sure wouldn’t want to have to sit there and have all the other folks bumping past me for half an hour.

Every time I get on an airplane, I always feel like the first class passengers are looking down on us chattel as we schlep back to the steerage compartment.

Frankly, I think that the first class area should be designated as a farting zone for all the other passengers. As you walk past them, everyone should just let one rip while the first class snoots are sitting there with their champagne.

There. Those are my ideas regarding air travel.

Wombat Falsley Accused

Just when you think you've heard it all. . .

A New Zealand man has been sentenced to community service after calling the local police to report that he'd been raped by a wombat. He also claimed that after the wombat had assaulted him, he began speaking Australian.

One has to wonder what would prompt someone to make such a claim. Are marsupial molestations a common event down under?

Here's a similar news story, also from New Zealand. A man was charged with assault with a weapon after throwing a hedgehog at a teenager. Apparently, hedgehogs are considered to be weapons down there. (The hedgehog died, by the way).

If Charlton Heston were alive, he'd probably be down there campaigning to keep hedgehogs legal.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

At the Airport

I flew back from San Antonio to Chicago yesterday. Since it was on American Airlines (Motto: “Laid Over in Dallas”) I had to connect through D/FW airport.

The plane was a little late getting into D/FW from San Antonio. Then, we had to wait on the tarmac because another plane was experiencing difficulty with getting their beverage service loaded.

No problem. I sat in the back of the plane reading my book.

Finally, we began to pull in and I noticed the time:
Hmmmm. 5:55 pm.

Then, I decided to look at my next boarding pass.

My next flight was due to board at . . . . . let’s see. . . . .
5:55 pm.


Meanwhile, all the other passengers ahead of me were taking their sweet time getting OFF the plane. They were all taking their time, singing “Tra-la-la-la-la. . .” Apparently, one passenger decided this was a good time block the aisle and change the diapers of her triplets.

And, of course, my flight arrived at terminal “A” and my next flight (which was boarding NOW) was leaving from Terminal “XQ-Z” (Actually it was Terminal “D”)

I will have to say that D/FW does have a very speedy and efficient tram system that scoots you lickety-split from Terminal A to Terminal XQ-Z. (Houston does not - - make a note of that if you’re ever connecting in Houston).

So, I was on the tram-thing saying “c’mon, c’mon, c’mon!” I SO didn’t want to be stuck in Dallas on a Sunday night (been there, done that) and I also had to pee really badly.

I made my connection. The flight I was to board was running late. I ran up all huffy-puffy to the gate and everyone was just standing around going “Tra-la-la-la-la.”


I'm sorry, but this blurb from The Onion is hilarious:

BEIJING—A universally recognized symbol of goodwill, the Olympic torch was used to immolate hundreds of Tibetan protesters during its journey across mainland China last week, in what is being called a stirring display of competitive spirit and Chinese nationalism.

"It was a thrilling experience," said torchbearer Wei Xiang, a member of the People's Liberation Army, who personally set 23 monks ablaze as he ran past their peaceful protest. "Today, I am very proud to be Chinese." As the torch travels the globe, a group of Serbian Nationalists has reportedly offered to transport the emblematic flame across the newly independent nation of Kosovo.

A Pretty Day in Texas

This past Saturday was one of those extremely rare days in Texas when it was cool, clear and dry. Recognizing that such clement weather occurs only one day out of the year, a friend of mine and I decided to actually go hiking through one of those nature reserve things near Austin, Texas.
(Note: I generally loathe the outdoors and avoid it).

This nature-place thing had all sorts of flora and fauna along the way. Well, mostly flora; fauna, not so much. We saw a fish in the stream and some insects flying around. I was hoping to see a deer, a raccoon, or a possum. I would have even settled for a small snake.

We heard a waterfall in the distance. Here’s a pic.

I took this photo while standing on a ledge which had been occupied by a group of three lesbians. They were very nice and shared their ledge so that I could take some photos.

I say they were lesbians because they continued with their conversation, the subject matter of which included their female partners, support systems, their therapists and healing methodologies -- Definitely lesbians in their natural habitat doing what they do best. But they were very friendly and didn’t frighten me in the least.

We continued walking up the stream. It was pretty.
I'm back in Chicago now. I will now get my exercise in a climate controlled gym like God intended.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Tasty Texas Treats

I couldn't help but to take a pic of this sign. If you're ever in Texas, y'all be sure to get yourself a gizzard dinner. This pretty much epitomizes Texan cuisine.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tex-Mex. The REAL Thing

My dad and I went out for Tex-Mex.

This is the REAL thing, baby.

Super sized enchiladas filled with grilled steak. Rice & Beans, guacamole and pico de gallo on the side.

Here's a taco salad. Actually, it's mostly filled with grilled steak, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. The "salad" part such as lettuce and tomotoes are really considered to be more of a condiment.

The Cleaning Plant

My grandparents owned and operated the local dry cleaning establishment in my Little Bitty Home Town (see previous post).

For some reason, my grandfather referred to the place as "The Cleaning Plant" or simply, "The Plant."

He was a very precise individual and operated by a strict schedule. Every day, he and his staff would steam press the clothing in the mornings during the coolest part of the day (there was no air conditioning).

Then, at 1:00 pm, he would release the steam from the big boiler in the back. When he did that, a loud whoooosh! could be heard all across the town square. A few of the local business owners began to joke that they could set their watches by my grandfather's releasing of the steam in the boilers.

So, he attached a train whistle to the end of the pipe where the steam would come out and this could be heard all across town. His whistle became the official One O'Clock Whistle for the entire town.

When I was a little kid, he'd let me release the steam on Saturdays and officiate One O'Clock for the town. I remember watching the second-hand on the clock and then cranking the release valve, thus heralding 1:00 pm. So exciting!

Today, my aunt and I drove over to my Little Bitty Home Town and we stopped by The Cleaning Plant. My grandmother had sold the place back in 1973 and I hadn't been there for about 30 years.

The same family she sold it to were still the owners. As a matter of fact, a fellow I graduated with was working there today and he let me take some really cool snaps.

Here's the back of The Plant. (The boiler is in the very back). It looks pretty shabby, but keep in mind that the place has been there since 1906.
And here is one of the steam presses. I began working here after school when I was eleven years old and spent many a sweaty hour at this old steam press. (My grandmother wouldn't let me do the pleated skirts, though. They took a lot of care and attention)
And here is the old cash register on which my grandmother taught me to make change and wait on customers. The present owners have replaced it with a modern cash register, but the old original one was still there.

By the way, the Cleaning Plant is STILL un-airconditioned.