Sunday, May 31, 2009

Morning Scene - West Tower

Doncha think this is a pretty cool shot of the west tower of Marina Towers? -- where I used to live. Yawn...
Isn't that sort of neat how the sunlight makes such a clean line along the balconies? I woke up this morning, ambled among the chaos of moving boxes, and just sort of saw this as I munched on some dead, leftover anchovy pizza.

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Moving Has Been Done

I am never moving again. Ever.

This move has been one of the most laborious, stressful, expensive moves I’ve ever made. But I have to say that it’s also been the most rewarding. I love my new apartment, the paint job that I worked so hard on is already giving me lots of ‘OOooo’ moments, and I love the fact that I now live on the 50th floor rather than the 49th.

It’s all about the numbers with me.

You’d think that moving from the 49th to the 50th floor at the some address would be a piece of cake, However, my address has two 61 story towers and I moved from the west to the east tower. I thought I could just squirrel my things across the adjoining lobby, but noooo!

My first attempt at doing so alerted the doorman who alerted me on the elevator intercom that moving things across the lobby would involve a $500 fine from the condo association.

I don’t ever want to mess with the condo association at Marina Towers – they're basically a formidable group of elderly Jewish widows who have lived here since the place opened in 1964. They're charming little old women, but you just don’t mess with them.

So, this meant that I had to squirrel my things across through the marina level of Marina Towers – basically, the lower-lower basement.

Actually, it was pretty cool, as I had never actually seen the marina level of Marina Towers in the four years that I had lived here.

I decided to rent a heavy-duty dolly from U-Haul which cost ten bucks a day plus cab fare. I’ll have you know that those orange heavy-duty U-Haul dollies often weigh more than most of the heavy loads than what I was squirreling back and forth through the bowels of Marina Towers.

Oh, and keep in mind that I had recently had Major Surgery done on my arm pit area wherein the surgeon had planned on removing a lime-sized bit of “fatty tissue” but instead, gouged out a GRAPEFRUIT-SIZED ‘thing’ that he said, “had legs” underneath my pectoral area.

I’m still not over that description of his. I was supposed to go in for a tiny bit of out-patient activity and I ended up being slit open like a pig.

Bottom line – I ended up painting most of my apartment with a fresh 4-inch pig-like incision, followed by packing-and-schlepping all of my things all by myself with a 500 pound U-Haul monstrosity -- all while my grapefruit-sized wound was healing.

It's not like my friends didn't help . . .

Caveat: Jack and Steve delivered these really cool plastic moving bins which were a god-send. My move would have been incredibly difficult without those plastic bins (By the way, guys, I’m never unpacking them nor giving them back) They also came out of their way to help me move my huge sofa-slash-chaise-lounge the moment I acquired the huge dolly.

Miss Healthypants called out of the blue to say, "Do you need some help moving??" The only thing I really needed help with was my huge, ugly, heavy TV stand. I thought I would need to dis-assemble it, but when Iwanski arrived, he said I didn't need to. with his encouragement and fortitude, he and I were able man-handle the thing through the bowels of my apartment complex. It was pretty cool.

Here is what the route looks like, moving from one tower to the other.

It’s pretty cool to see the actual boats parked in the slips here at Marina City.
So, yesterday, I spent 15 hours moving the last of my things out of the 49th floor apartment. My back really hurtsreally bad. I also spent about six hours cleaning the place impeccably.
I want my deposit back.
Here is the pristine living Room with a View:
And the gleaming non-parallel hallway. See how the floors shine?
And the black-and-yellow kitchen:

(I also want photographic documentation that I cleaned the place really well) – Judge Judy has taught me well

And to top it all off, a view from my new balcony on the 50th floor - - Isn't it purdy??

(For JP, this is now the "Balcony of Even More Terror")

Really, I never want to move again, no matter what.

My great-great nieces and nephews can find me at this address. . .

Friday, May 29, 2009

Eating Unhealthy

The other day, I wrote about how healthy I eat.

Now I feel as though I must come clean about that. You see, last Thursday I had to fill in for one of my staff and work at one of the (un)employment centers all day. I never eat breakfast (which is unhealthy) and you can imagine how busy these (un)employment centers are. So, I didn’t get any lunch either.

When I got off the train near my apartment, I was ravenous.
There’s a place in downtown Chicago called Ronny’s that has fantastic hamburgers. Ronny’s is also connected to the train station where I got off, so it’s ever so convenient. . . . A hamburger and fries would sure hit the spot. . .

Well, I’ll have you know that I did NOT get a hamburger and fries.

I walked right out of that place with a double cheeseburger and fries instead. And when I got home, I slathered it with extra mayonnaise.

But it was vegan mayonnaise so that makes it all okay.

Last night, I was moving things into my new apartment and didn’t have anything to eat in my old apartment. There’s a quicky-mart in the lobby of my building that’s ever so convenient. I bought a Tombstone pepperoni pizza.

But I only ate half of it.

I’ll have the other half tonight.

The thing is, I often get a burger and fries from Ronny’s. If it’s dinnertime and I’m coming out of that train station, I usually hit Ronny’s.

Same thing with the Tombstone pizza from the quicky-mart in the lobby.

Okay, I feel better now that I’ve come clean about that.

Now I need to jog to Minneapolis and back.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trash TV

Are there some TV programs that you’re ashamed to admit you watch? I’m sure everyone has something that they view in secret, be it a soap opera, an inane sitcom, or NASCAR races.

I was doing some tidying up on my Tivo the other day and I was a little surprised at some of the fluff that comprises my TV viewing pleasure. Here’s a rundown of the worst:

Monsterquest – Each episode finds a group of extremely serious crypto-zoologists (i.e. “Bigfoot-nerds”) discovering the latest sensational evidence for Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, the Loch Ness monster, and the ever-elusive Giant Infuriated Weasel. The viewer (me) is mercilessly strung along for an hour with tidbits of “possible concrete evidence” that these things really exist. At the very end of the program, the iron-clad, scientific evidence is deemed “inconclusive” by scientists.


I fall for it every time.

18 Kids and Counting – Have you heard of the Duggar Family in Arkansas? They’re the squeaky-clean, super-religious, saccharin-sweet family who have 18 children, often with one more on the way. In each 30-minute episode, we get to watch them accomplish breathtaking activities like installing new mini-blinds, going to the dentist, or making tater-tot casserole.

I’ll admit that the kids really do seem well-adjusted and genuinely altruistic; a rarity in this day and age. I’m also sure that the viewers are never exposed to the many melt-downs, the shrieking, and the general stench of that many kids under one roof.

The Duggars have been on TV for three or four years. Now that the kids are getting older and there are a number of teenage boys in the house, I can’t help but to wonder how much time Mama Duggar spends trying to track down that elusive JC Penney catalog.

I’ll be anxious to see how they’re all doing in 15 or 20 years from now. I wonder if Mama and Daddy Duggar will continue the program once a little Bristol Palin action arises. With 18 kids, there’s bound to be a little “reality” set in eventually.

Judge Judy – The first thing I do when I get home from work is to watch two daily episodes of my Judy. Yes, there’s a lot to be said for watching stupid people being held accountable.

The Newlywed Game – I enjoyed this game show back in 1967 and I still love it. Although Bob Eubanks no longer hosts it, it remains absolutely the same. Hubby gives a clueless answer about how they “make whoopee” and his wife whomps him over the head with her answer-card. What’s not to like?

That’s just some of the junk TV that I regularly watch.

Okay, I told you mine, now tell me yours. I really want to know. My Tivo needs new stuff to record anyway.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Da Vinci Had It Easy

I am one tired and worn-out puppy. I spent the entire holiday weekend painting my new apartment, an activity that is completely new and foreign to my skills set.

I love the new colors. Those arches in the living room were just begging to be painted.

The first thing one must do when painting a room is a lot of “prep.” This involves taping the perimeter of the walls so that you can get a clean line when you paint and avoid splattering the paint into the next room. You need special painter’s tape to accomplish this task effectively.

The second thing one must realize is that not all tape is created equal. Some painter’s tape works, most does not. If your surface has a bump in it larger than one millionth of a micron, the painter’s tape will be totally ineffective. Your paint job will look like it was done by a myopic two-year-old and you’ll have to start all over from the beginning.

Much cursing will ensue so please be prepared for that.

Also, you will need about two hundred pieces of equipment such as 12 different varieties of brushes, lots of protective drop cloths, a boom box for music and news, and a ladder.

Do not underestimate the importance of drop cloths. There were a couple of instances amid all the cursing that I almost dropped a container of Van Deusen Blue paint. If the drop cloth had not been there, I would have had to live with carpet festooned with Van Deusen blotches.

One must be in prime physical condition in order to paint a room.

I am not.

You should be able to crouch in really weird positions, some not even listed in the Kama Sutra, for extended periods of time. You should be able to paint with either hand, especially when one gets covered in Van Deusen Blue while teetering on the top rung of a ladder.

You should also be able to carry the heavy ladder the equivalent of three hundred miles during the course of a weekend while cursing at the same time.

Know of a hardware store nearby. Even though you will begin with two hundred pieces of equipment, you will need to acquire more as you go. Plan on visiting the hardware store every two hours.

In the end, you will, hopefully, have an apartment that “pops”. I’m not sure if mine does yet because I’m so exhausted.

My popping-recognition ability has completely been worn out from all the cursing.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Eating Healthy

Now that I'm firmly implanted into middle age, I really do try to eat healthy these days. Fresh fruits & veggies make regular appearances in my fridge, soy milk has replaced all other diary, cheese is scarce and meats are never seen.

But, damnit, it just feels good to open my fridge and see a carton of half-and-half in there.!


It’s been a week since my surgery where I had a lipoma removed from inside my "arm pitular area." All week, I’ve had this plastic tube stuck in my side that ran up to the incision area that drained “drainage” into a little plastic pouch taped to my chest. The thing was ever-so convenient and not exactly comfortable.

Anyway, I went for a follow up appointment yesterday with the surgeon so that my little drainage-buddy could be removed. I have to say that was really glad to get rid of this thing. Now I know just how Jesus felt with that sword-in-the-side ordeal.

Anyway, the surgeon guy reported that the growth he removed was completely benign -- always good to hear.

Then he gave me some shocking news. He said, “This thing had legs.”

I had only detected a lump under my arm, just like Debra Winger had done in Terms of Endearment, remember? But surgeon-guy said that it extended down pretty deep and was even under my pectoral muscle.

“But I don’t have pecs,” was my immediate thought.

When I had gone in for an evaluation before the surgery, he said that my lipoma was lime-sized. Now, he was telling me that it had been -- are you ready for this --- the size of a grapefruit.

Oh my gosh!

We went from lime-sized, leaped clear over lemons and oranges, and went for grapefruit comparisons.

It "had legs" and was the size of a friggin grapefruit. Right then, I envisioned that scene from Alien where that thing burst out of the guy’s chest at the dinner table.

He had gotten it all out. No wonder I felt like crap all week long.

The surgeon-guy proceeded to remove the tube which hurt a good bit and then gave me a clean bill of health.

“Come see us again if you need anything else removed,” he chirped.

I should continue taking my Vicodin even though the pain has subsided -- Especially now that I know something the size of the largest citrus fruit had been gouged out of me.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Qwerty vs Dvorak

I know I'm totally geeking out with this Dvorak thing, but I have here for you two short videos that compare typing on a Qwerty keyboard to a Dvorak keyboard.

Miss Healthypants and I are both typing the same text -- a few lines of commonly-used words. Here is the lovely MHP clipping along at about 70 wpm on a standard Qwerty keyboard:

And then here I am typing the same text on a Dvorak keyboard, albeit slower at about 50 wpm. I think you will see that typing on a Dvorak keyboard uses a lot less finger-motion -- that's because 70% of the typing is done on the home row. Also, the right hand types a lot more of the letters in Dvorak (a good thing for most right-handed people)

Isn't that cool?

Like I said, I'm totally geeking out.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Civil Unions in Illinois

It looks like Illinois will have legalized civil unions by the end of this month.

Wow. That’s pretty impressive.

Then I realized that, up until now, I’ve gotten away with never having to buy wedding presents for my friends who are partnered. After this bill passes, I’m likely to go broke with all the presents I’ll have to buy.

This really sucks. . .

If I receive any mail with calligraphy or a 'Love' stamp on it, I am SO not opening it.

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Dvorak Update

Bottom line: I'm now completely typing on Dvorak keyboards and have completely lost any ability to type on Qwerty.

It's so weird. I was a really good typist for so long. I was able to verbalize my thoughts through my fingers at eighty words a minute. My ability to even "think" with my fingers as I had done for 30 years has now been completely wiped away. That's been awfully scary.

I'll admit that I am a bit frustrated at all the "Dvorak propaganda" that claims everyone could breezily switch over and begin effortlessly keyboarding away. As a piano teacher for many years, I sort of knew that converting from Qwerty to Dvorak would be a huge endeavor. I knew it wouldn't be easy. Frankly, it was downright frightening.

If you've never really learned to touch-type and express yourself with your fingers on a keyboard, then by all means, get yourself on a Dvorak keyboard and fly away my friend.

If you might enjoy a surprisingly effortless finger-motion on the keyboard with which to express yourself, then Dvorak may be for you. But beware . . . It's not "just" learning to type on another keyboard.

Some have given the Dvorak conversions a pretty lofty status. For example, they've said that it's like learning to play the piano in a different key. (Not so)

I've also appreciated the other musician-types who have said that it's like a trombone player learning to play the trumpet.

All those comparisons are well-and-good. But they are WAY inaccurate. Having been both an enthusiastic, bona fide typist AND a pianist for over thirty years, I can honestly tell you that converting to the Dvorak keyboard is this: It's really similar to becoming fluent in a new, easier language, but at the same time, giving up any ability to communicate in one's native language.

It's been a little over three months since I embarked upon the Dvorak conversion and my best typing speed is a whopping 51 WPM on a Dvorak keyboard.

What’s interesting is that my typing is a lot more accurate. The biggest challenge is that the vowels are all on the home row with the left hand and I keep getting them mixed up. However, that 51 wpm is typing from visual text which is a piece of cake. What's really frightening is that I've completely lost the ability to type cognitive thoughts at any considerable speed. But, then again, each day really does bring new and exciting surprises.

Here are the advantages of typing on a Dvorak keyboard -- REAL advantages that I've encountered so far:

I really love the way my hands feel, typing in Dvorak. The more speed and ease I get, the more I go, "Wow!!! -- THIS is how my hands should really ACT on a keyboard."

Your fingers really do travel a lot less on the Dvorak keyboard and it’s pretty cool to watch. On a Qwerty keyboard, your fingers are often hopping around as when you type the letter combinations such as ‘BR’ and ‘MY’. There’s none of that going on with a Dvorak keyboard. It's really brilliant the way it's laid out. It’s all so efficient.

Even though this transformational endeavor has involved an incredible amount of effort, each day brings some surprising progress and a sense of accomplishment. At least for me anyway.

Besides enjoying the incredibly easier physical motion of typing, I have every reason to believe that this change will benefit me in the long run. I’d sure like to break that 100 wpm mark someday.

I absolutely love this endeavor and it's been an awfully long time since I've enjoyed anything this much.

Isn’t that just about the geekiest thing ever?

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Night Scene - Fireworks on the River

About 9:30 on Tuesday night, there was a fireworks display right below my balcony on the Chicago River. This is the second year that this has taken place and no one seems to know what it's for. Both years, it has taken place on a non-eventful Tuesday night.

I took a short video of it this time.

Click here

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time to Get Moving

I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing about interior decorating or design.

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Left to my own devices, I’d be content to live in an underground box as long as it had cable and broadband. I really am a disgrace to My People.

Since I’ll be in a new apartment by the end of this month, I decided that it was finally time to live in a dwelling consistent with someone in my demographic. Things are moving along nicely.

Two friends of mine who know everything there is to know about interior design graciously spent three hours at my new apartment yesterday. It was a blank slate for them and they easily took the situation in hand.

Subsequently, seven gallons of paint in four different colors will be arriving on Saturday – colors with names like “Van Deusen Blue” and “Hazelnut Cream” and "Burlap".

My idea of decorating seems to be stuck in the 1980s according to Speck. She had quite a laugh when I told her that I wanted to paint a wall apricot and install track lighting. Apparently, that’s just not done anymore.

Of course, I also know absolutely nothing about what to do with the paint. So, in accordance with my demographic, I’ve hired a painter to do all that. I refer to this hired hand as “My Boy” even though he’s in his early 30s. M.B. will be spending most of Sunday afternoon painting walls and trim according to the specifications laid out by my designer friends.

Then, I get to move. Since I’ll be moving from the 49th floor of one tower to the 50th floor of the other tower, this move will either be done with careless ease or it will require sedatives.

At least I won’t be in a hurry – I’ve got until the end of the month to get it all done. Right now, it’s pretty neat to have two residences going on. More than likely, I will resemble a sloth slowly ambling from one tree to another.

Here is my new kitchen as it is right now – complete with its original 1964 yellow metal cabinets. By next week, the kitchen walls will be festooned with creamy hazlenuts and the section above the counter will be Van Deusen Blue. There’s no way I’d get rid of those yellow cabinets.

I just love the original stove that’s there. Yellow, with push-button controls just like the one I cooked on when I was seven years old.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Boycott Crabs!

I have a new mission in life; one that I feel very passionate about and has provided me with a direction toward which I can focus my newfound energy.

After seeing my favorite channels inundated with back-to-back documentaries about how dangerous crab fishing is, I would like to campaign for a complete boycott of king crab.

These crab guys are in constant danger of being swept overboard into violent, Arctic waters in their attempt to supply us with juicy and delectable crabs to eat. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

There’s even an entire TV series that highlights this dangerous profession called Deadliest Catch. I think it’s now in its fifth season. In every episode, some poor guy gets maimed or swept overboard into the Bearing Sea just so we can feast away on king crabs.

I just don’t see the point. It’s not like king crab is a necessary world commodity, like oil or high-def TV or tattoo ink. Frankly, they're way too tedious and messy to eat in my opinion.

I see these guys risking their lives in sub-zero temperatures and yelling at each other a lot and I find myself telling them, “Don’t DO that!”

But apparently, these crab guys can make a lot of money at this endeavor. So, that’s where we come in. It’s time for us to ensure their safety by not eating anymore crabs. At all.

If we all stop eating crabs, then there won’t be a market for them and these guys won’t have to participate in such nonsense. Like I said, all they seem to do is constantly holler at each other. They obviously aren't enjoying themselves.

And then my Documentary Channel can devote more time to episodes about Bigfoot - - like God intended.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Comfort Food

While recovering from yesterday's surgery, I decided to make something comfy to eat. Soup is always a good option for recuperation.

I had a bag of Trader Joe's incredible white corn in the freezer (that stuff is the sweetest, best tasting corn you've ever eaten) so I headed in a corn chowder direction.

Saute an onion in butter, add a bit of flour, cumin, red chili, add boiling vegetable broth, the corn, diced potato, and some half-and-half.

I realized I didn't have a potato, so jumbo pasta shells would have to do. And they did very nicely. Even better, in fact.

Here it is. Southwestern Corn Chowder topped with homemade bread & butter pickled jalapenos.

I'm not the best at making soup or chowder -- it's hit or miss with me -- but I could open a restaurant with this stuff.

I had Vicodin for dessert.


Friday, May 15, 2009

The Machine That Goes 'Ping'

I’m back from my surgery and everything went well. Especially the fact that I’m a little bit toasted on morphine and Vicodin right now.

Anyway, when I had earlier gone for the evaluation, the surgeon guy said that they would probably just give me a local anesthetic along with some happy-juice in an I V.

I guess he changed his mind because I had the full-blown, knocked-out type of surgery this morning. I saved the paper booties as a souvenir.

Of course, I’ve got something really funny to tell you about. . . .

As they were wheeling me into the operating room, I got the giggles, which soon turned into outright laughter. The anesthesiologist asked, “Are you okay?” and I told him that I had just thought of something really funny.

I proceeded to tell him that I had just thought of a scene from an old Monty Python film called The Meaning of Life -- the scene in the operating room.

He piped in and said, “The one where John Cleese plays the surgeon?”

And I said, “Yes! The scene where the staff are all excited over the expensive machine that goes Ping!

“We’ve got one of those too!" he exclaimed. "We’ve also got a new one that goes Deedle-Deedle-Deedle!”

I was really having a good laugh right before surgery -- as it should be.

I just found the Monty Python scene with the machine that goes ‘Ping!’ for you. It really is a classic and I hope that if any of you ever have surgery, you can think of this scene and laugh your way under the knife.

Morphine helps too.

Click here for Monty Python

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Thursday, May 14, 2009


I’ve had one of THE most stressful weeks at work. It was one of those weeks where I had to rely on lots of people to get lots of information to me so that I could compile all this information and get it to state and federal agencies really quickly, otherwise All Existence would come to an end.

Lots of spreadsheets and at least one f-word was used in the presence of my CEO. By me.

Everything worked out well but, like I said, this week was really stressful.

How stressful was it, you ask?

It was so stressful that I’m actually looking forward to having surgery on Friday so that I can at least have a day off.

A Valium drip followed by a weekend of pain meds sounds pretty good right now . . .

I'm Lovin' It

I was in a cab this afternoon, looked up and saw a photo op.

It needs no explanation. . . .

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dear Santa . . .

Dear Santa,

Do you remember that incredible hat that Aretha Franklin wore at the inauguration earlier this year? You may have been resting after having just delivered all those presents to every good little boy and girl.
(you missed me).
In case you missed it, here’s a reminder:
Isn’t it fabulous?

No, I’m not asking for Aretha’s hat for Christmas, though I bet Prancer would like one.

But look what just became available online. . . a pretty, shiny glass Aretha-Franklin’s-Hat Christmas Ornament!

Isn’t it pretty?

This ornament is all I want for Christmas. I know that the Baby Jesus would be very happy if you brought this to me. This ornament would look so fantastic on my Festivus Pole, don’t you think?
Better yet, I could have the Grinch in my manger display wear it.

You don’t even need to get your elves to make it ‘cause you can order it online.

Click here, Santa.

If you don’t know how to work the internet, I’ll order it for myself and you can just reimburse me the 43 bucks. I’ll leave the receipt next to your cookies and milk.

I promise to be a good boy this year. I really do.

Again, I apologize for that incident when I was fourteen. You know -- When I told my five-year-old brother that you had been killed in a sleigh crash. It was mean.

So, if you bring me this Aretha Franklin’s Hat Christmas Ornament, I promise I’ll never ever ask for anything else ever again.

Well, unless she sings at President Obama’s next inauguration, that is.

Be sure to say ‘hi’ to Rudolph and Olive (The Other Reindeer) who used to laugh and call him names.



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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Morning Scene - The Wit Hotel

The new Wit Hotel on the corner of State and Lake is almost complete.

Obviously, their new sign was being installed this morning.

I wanted to steal the "W"

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Vincent on the Bridge

When I was walking home from work yesterday, I spotted the notorious Vincent on the State Street Bridge.

He was his usual self -- dressed in his full length coat and ready to twirl on the bridge.

I decided to wait for a tourist boat to come under the bridge so that I could capture him on camera for you.

Finally! A well-packed tourist boat approached! Vincent began bouncing with excitement and I knew that I would get some footage . . .

I forgot and had my camera sideways, - - I forgot that I couldn't film video with my camera all vertical, but I got some footage anyway.

You just have to cock your head ninety degrees to the left as if you were looking at a Chagal painting.

Anyway, here is Vincent doing what Vincent doe every afternoon . . .

Click here

Friday, May 08, 2009

I Love Casual Fridays

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Morning Scene - Chicago

I had an all-day meeting on the 80th floor of my workplace today.

Here's a view looking down.
And, looking down at the new building called "Aqua"

Looking over to the Trump Tower and Marina Towers where I live. My house looks so little! The Sears Tower (We still don't call it the Willis Tower)

Here's a view of the John Hancock and the lake. Such a pretty view . . .

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Debra for a Weekend

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of finding a rather large lump in my underarm. I hadn’t noticed it before because there was no pain to call attention to it;
But there it was.

So, I went to my friendly primary care physician who felt me up and said I should have a specialist feel me up as well. He said it was probably nothing, but large lumps should definitely be checked out.

That was last Friday.

Besides making two batches of bread-n-butter jalapenos, I spent the weekend catastrophizing and feeling my lump. I Wikipedia’d everything I could find about armpit lumps and spent more time catastrophizing.

I played the theme to Terms of Endearment over and over on the piano.
It was all very Debra Winger.

So I saw the specialist today and he assured me very quickly that I didn’t need to play Terms of Endearment anymore. However, I do have a lime-sized lipoma that really should be removed.

So, I’m scheduled for outpatient surgery a week from Friday. I have to get a responsible person to take me home afterward and I was able to procure my friend, Jack, to do so. I thought about asking Iwanski to do that but I really didn’t want to ask him to be a responsible person this soon after the last time.

Sigh . . .

Wouldn’t you know it?
I turn fifty, finally get my head together . . .

. . . And my ass falls apart.

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Peck of Pickled Peppers

I was hell-bent on turning out some decent bread-and-butter jalapenos so I bought another peck of peppers today. (Actually, I think it was rather close to a peck).

This time, I got some red jalapenos and some long, skinny ones as well as the regular ones. (I also added some purple onion -- my own little flair) And I learned my lesson and kept the recipe simple.

Ain't they just the purdiest things??

I think these might even be better than the store-bought ones.

Now I'm ready to don my blue gingham kerchief and enter these in the county fair.

I'll be damned if that snooty Minna-Deen Bruchmiller is going home with the blue ribbon this year . . .


Tower of Terror

There will be a new tourist attraction here in Chicago this summer and it will definitely not be for the faint of heart.

The observation deck on the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower will feature a glass-enclosed box in which will hang over the edge of the observation platform.

Oh, and you’ll be able to stand in the glass box with nothing between you and the ground but 1½ inches of glass.

Here’s what it will look like:

I tried something similar to this at the CN Tower in Toronto. They have a glass floor you can stand on way up in the observation deck, 500 grillion "metres" above the ground. I thought, “Cool! I’m not afraid of heights.”

I took one step out on the glass and it took a day or two before my boy-bits descended from my throat. I couldn’t believe how frightening and intense it was.

1½ inches of glass? I don’t think so.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Canning Disaster

Have you ever tried Bread-and-Butter pickles?

Those are the home-made sweet pickles from the South, oomph’d up with sweet spices, and slathered on everything from hot dogs in Atlanta to egg salad in Dallas. A few slices on a ham-n- cheese sandwich can really make you easily slip into using “yall” as a second-person plural. Really.

Better yet.

Have you tried pickled jalapeno peppers?
Sure, you have.
Nachos aren’t nachos without them.

The last time I was in South Texas, I swear I came across -- are you ready for this? -- bread-and-butter jalapeno peppers!

Oh my goodness, I had never tasted anything so good as these. My southern favorite of bread-and-butter pickles had been combined with nippy pickled jalapeno peppers.

A grilled cheese sandwich would never be the same.

I brought back a few jars of these delicacies. The Iwanskis loved them. So did I.
But the Texan reserves quickly got used up. Awfully fast.

I wanted lots more bread-n-butter jalapeno peppers, but the cupboard was empty.

Internet orders were expensive.

What to do?

I got into my “Texan Grandmother” mode.

I had grown up seeing many of my female elders ‘can’ and ‘pickle’ lots of things while growing up in Texas. Pickled okra, bread-n-butter pickles, and pickled watermelon rind had adorned old wooden storage shelves around me since I was knee-high to a coyote-puppy.

Surely, I could make me some decent bread-n-butter jalapenos. It was in my blood, after all. . . .

Like any good Texan, I procured a kilo of fresh jalapenos from a Latino market in Chicago, seeded, sliced-and-iced them just like you would with pickles.

The ingredients for bread-n-butter jalapenos called for salt, vinegar, sugar, and spices, . . . Hmmmm. . . .that won’t just do . . .

I decided to get tasty and creative . . .

I sliced the peppers and simmered them with two cups of white vinegar, one cup of apple cider vinegar, two cups of sugar, ½ cup crumbled red pepper, then two tsp. cloves, two tsp. coriander, ½ tsp turmeric, and finally, 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika (Pimenton)

Here it is, all canned and everything.

Sounds awfully tasty, eh??

Oh my God!!!

There’s a reason my foremothers didn’t preserve anything with every spice they could think of!

There’s a reason my bank thought it prudent to avail me with an obscene line of credit so that I could procure things on line. . .

Oh my goodness . . .
I only wish my dear sweet grandma had shown me how to get the invasive smell of cloves, smoked paprika, and vinegar out of one's dwelling.

Where are these resources when I really need them ?

If you want Bread-n-Butter jalapenos, please don’t come over to my place. My canning abilities will probably make you relish lunch from the nearest homeless pizza vendor . . . all-the-while contracting some obscure weasel virus.

I’ve got six pints of this stuff.

If by chance you get a jar of home-made pickles from me as a gift, please . . . Heed my warning now and run for your life. . . Really.

Friday, May 01, 2009


It's definitely Springtime in Chicago.
Vincent is back at his post, waving at tourist boats from the State Street bridge.

If ever there was an example of obsessive personality disorder, Vincent would be an excellent case study. He is legally blind and always wears these bright, full length coats. As the tourist boat approaches the bridge, he waves, does one counter-clockwise twirl and waves again.

Here he is, waiting for a boat . . .

He only waves at tourist boats, only those traveling east and only from the State Street bridge in the late afternoon.

And he spends hours doing this.