Saturday, December 23, 2006

Engagement

Last night, I got engaged to my girlfriend, Dee.

We went to the restaurant where we had our first date and had a nice dinner. Afterwards, we walked across the street to the place where we had our first kiss. We kissed again and then I got down on my knee and asked her to marry me. She said, "Oh my God." a lot and hugged me and eventually said yes. We stayed there for a bit and enjoyed the moment and then hopped in a cab and went home.

The rest of the night was spent on the phone. Unfortunately for Dee, she also spent much of it in the bathroom as she came down with a case of food poisoning from work.

I have a fiancée.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Year 29 - The First Date

This post is the second in a series of thirty stories from my life. For more info click here.

I had only been 29 for a few short weeks when I came to the conclusion that there was a very good chance that I would be single for the rest of my life. This wasn’t a sad realization for me, it was simply true and I was completely fine with this idea. It helped that the last few girls I had dated at that point were completely crazy.

I had decided to move on with my life and not worry about trying to find someone to love. If someone happened to come along, great. If not, that’s fine too. The bottom line was that I wasn’t going to put much effort in to that area of my life anymore. In fact, I had put so little effort into dating that the last two girls I went out with asked me out.

Then girl number three came along. I had been working out consistently at my company gym for a few months and was starting to get familiar with the staff members there. Dee was the manager of the facility and we would make small talk from time to time and I didn’t really think anything of it. I assumed that she was just being nice because that’s good customer service. However, one day she stopped me by the towel area and we chatted awkwardly for a little while and I began to suspect that the Fitness Lady might be interested.

Not too long after our awkward little conversation, I got a voice mail on my work phone. Dee had decided to invite me to the “singles” Valentine’s Day party that she and her friends were having. Now I knew that the Fitness Lady was interested. Unfortunately, I had a fundraising event for pH that very same night. I let Dee know that I wouldn’t be able to make it for the first part of the party but that I would try to stop by after the fundraising event.

When the night of the party rolled around, took care of all of my pH duties and then sent her a quick text asking if she was still at her party. She said that she was and that I should stop by. I hopped in a cab and made my way over to the bar. When I arrived, things seemed to be winding down and I couldn’t find her at first. Eventually, I spotted her and saw her sitting there looking adorable in a cute little skirt and white t-shirt with a big red heart on it. It was also the first time I had ever seen her with straight hair. She looked hot. We chatted for a little while and the bartenders started herding people out the door. As her friends grabbed a cab, we stood awkwardly on the sidewalk. As I was about to ask her if she wanted to go out some time she said, “So, are you going to ask me out?”
I was caught off guard and said, “Yeah, I was just about to do that.”
I finally asked her out and we agreed to work out the details later since her friends were yelling at her to get into the cab. We hugged and headed our separate ways.

We met again on the very next Wednesday (Feb. 16, 2005) for our first date. I decided to take her to Feast, which was right down the street from my place. I walked there and she had her roommate drop her off. I was there a little early and sat in the bar waiting for her to arrive. Once she got there, we took our seats and made a little small talk. We talked about our awkward conversation by the towels and all the poorly-worded emails I had sent her. She looked great. She was wearing a white sweater with pink and brown diamonds (not sure if it counted as argyle since it was only one row across the front) and a very flattering pair of jeans. I snapped a quick photo of her with my camera phone, but had to do it again when she wasn’t happy with the picture.

After our delicious meal and wonderful conversation (I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I do know that we laughed a lot) we walked south down Damen to North Avenue where I would hail her a cab home. We quickly found her a cab and before she got in we kissed goodbye. It was easily the best first kiss I’ve ever experienced. It’s probably the best first kiss anyone has ever experienced. She got into the cab and I turned and walked back towards my apartment feeling light and happy. I knew something good had just happened, I just didn’t know how good yet.

Christmas Gift Idea

Marines?

A new ad has appeared on the train in the past week or so. It features three attractive-ish women looking rather smug next to the tag line: "The few, the proud, the egg donors."
When you're running a fertility clinic do you really want to associate yourself with the Marines?
By the way, the website is www.conceiveabilities.com if you are interested. Be an egg donor. Maybe they'll give you white gloves, a haircut and a sword.

Monday, December 18, 2006

More on Irvin...

Tonight, Dee and I sat down for dinner during the ESPN pre-game show for tonight's Colts-Bengals game. As soon as Michael Irvin popped up on the screen and began flapping his jaw, Dee said, "He's a clown."

Mind you, she meant that he is literally a clown. She wasn't calling him a name, she was stating a fact.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday NFL Countdown

When I woke up this morning, I turned on Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN to get my football fix for the day since I knew I would miss out on watching the Colts game due to rehearsal. For the most part, I like the Sunday NFL Countdown broadcast. Chris Berman can be a little much, but Tom Jackson is good, Mike Ditka is entertaining and adds good points, and Ron Jaworski is the best football analyst on TV. I watch mostly to see Jaworski break down tape. I learn something every time. However, Michael Irvin is slowly destroying this program and it's becoming obvious that the rest of his colleagues on the set agree with me. I've noticed it before, but never quite as much as I did today.

Michael Irvin interviewed Terrell Owens on today's broadcast and basically coddled him through the entire thing. He sat there and let Owens trash Cowboy's coach Bill Parcells and basically call out his teammates on leaking his mistakes to the media. Irvin even let Owens wonder aloud why the media blows every little thing he does wrong completely out of proportion. Irvin merely nods and then asks quietly, "Is it because you're T.O.?" To which Owens responds, "Yeah, it must be."

What?! Are you telling me that neither of these guys know why the media puts Owens under a microscope? Have they both conveniently forgotten that he bitched and moaned and trashed his QB in San Francisco and demanded to be traded. Once the 49ers worked out a trade, he then refused to play for the team he was traded to (Baltimore) and went to Philadelphia instead. He then had a one good season and began trashing his QB in Philly and got himself suspended for the season by the Eagles. Then he went to Dallas, caused trouble for not practicing and, more famously, for an accidental overdose that put him in the hospital. This guy has a track record of being a HUGE ASSHOLE. Of course, T.O. doesn't realize this because he's the only person on the planet he cares about and Michael Irvin is one of his best friends, and he's certainly not going to call him out.

After the interview ran, the mood had obviously changed on the set of Sunday NFL Countdown. Berman pointed out some inconsistencies in Owens statements and Irvin tried to defend Owens. The rest of the broadcast team was obviously annoyed by Irvin's lame defenses. Tom Jackson then proceeds to rightly rip Owens for being a terrible teammate and for admitting that he's not "into it" on the field because of the way he is treated. Irvin defends him again. Ditka then takes Owens to task. Irvin defends him. Jaworski takes Owens to task. Irvin defends him and begins to look a little sheepish about it. You know, like the look you get on your face when you are defending a friend who is in the wrong. Normally, that is honorable, but Irvin is a broadcaster who can't let his personal friendships get in the way of his reporting. This was obviously the case today.

The high point (or low point) came while Irvin was defending something Owens said and they camera cut to Tom Jackson looking annoyed and disgusted. When they pulled back, you could see that Ditka, Berman and Jaworski were all visibly annoyed with Irvin. The mood in the studio was awkward.

It's time to can Irvin. He's not doing his job and his fellow broadcasters know it and are starting to show it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Old Friends

You know what's fun? Getting emails from old friends. Especially when you haven't seen those friends since you graduated high school. Which was twelve years ago.

I just got one of those really long mass emails that fills everyone in on what's been going on the life of the sender. You're now thinking that I'm about to take this person to task for doing the mass-email-here's-what-you've-missed-the-last-twelve-years, but I'm not. In fact, I genuinely enjoyed the email. That's not like me, I know. You see, it came at the perfect time. I have been corresponding with another high school friend about a book that he wrote (I mentioned it in my last post) and I've been in that nostalgic kind of mood. I even sent a response. I'm even hoping that it will turn into a bit of back and forth that will eventually peter out when we realize that talking about ourselves over email is kinda boring.

So, that happened.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Neglect

I'm an asshole.  I guess that's not really news because I'm always an asshole.  It's just that today I feel like an asshole.  I haven't posted anything here in over a month and I feel bad about it.  Yes, that's why I feel like an asshole.  Not because I kicked some old lady or didn't hold the door for a dog or whatever.  I suppose that not feeling bad about the times when I was actually an asshole makes me more of an asshole, but I don't really care because I'm an asshole.
 
Anyway, I've been busy (that's no excuse - everyone is busy) and here are some things that have happened to me since my last post:
 
-I went home for Thanksgiving to visit my family.  I got to see almost all of my extended family, including my uncle who is an astronaut.
 
-I went to a wedding that same Thanksgiving weekend in Indiana (only about an hour from my hometown).  My girlfriend's brother got married.  The reception was at the same time of the ND-USC game.  I guess it was good because I didn't have to watch the Irish blow another big game, but it sucked that I simply had to survive on text messages from my friends Chris and Bob (thanks, guys!).
 
-At the rehearsal dinner for the wedding, we each got cookies shaped like the Purdue 'P' logo (both bride and groom went to Purdue).  When the groom asked me how the cookies tasted I said, "Tastes like losing."
 
-I bought an all-in-one printer/copier/fax for our home office.  Send me a fax, won't you?
 
-I watched the Colts lose twice.
 
-I saw The Pillowman at the Steppenwolf Theater.  It was fantastic.  Dark and violent and not for everyone, but I loved it and found it hilarious and twisted.
 
-I got my hair cut.

-I finally finished my first big project for work.  Hopefully, recognition will come in the form of a hefty Christmas bonus.

-I "bought" my first ever batch of temporary tattoos.

-I read a book about boxing written by one of my best high school friends.  I enjoyed it quite a bit.  It's called Facing Tyson: Fifteen Fighters, Fifteen Stories. Check it out.

-I put up a really chintzy Christmas tree in my new home.  It's fiber optic.  It was also free.  We'll have a new one next year.

-I pooped.  Multiple times.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The John Kerry Thing

John Kerry botched a joke the other day.  The way he botched the joke led people to believe that he insulted the troops in Iraq.  Frankly, it sounded like he was insulting the troops in Iraq.  However, everyone knows that he wasn't trying to insult the troops.  Every politician knows that it would be political suicide to insult the troops in Iraq.  Or Afghanistan (we forget about those troops, don't we?).  Yet, everyone is more than ready to assume that he actually insulted the troops.  That doesn't mean that the troops don't deserve an apology simply because we all know that he couldn't possibly be that stupid.  He should apologize.  However, so should Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh immediately jumped on Kerry's gaffe and said something like, "This shows us exactly how John Kerry and the rest of the Democratic Party feel about the troops."  Now, how exactly does Rush get away with saying something like that?  First, he's not a politician, so he doesn't have to worry about getting re-elected.  Second, lies make great radio (or TV, I'm not sure where it was said, I just saw the quote).  The worst part about Rush's statement is not that it's a lie, but that he said it specifically because it was a lie.  It was a lie that would get him good ratings.  In fact, it is in Rush Limbaugh's best interest to tell lies just like this every time he goes on air. 

Now, I think that most Americans are smart enough to know that Limbaugh's statement is absolutely ridiculous.  Any reasonable person knows that the statements of one man don't always reflect the views of an entire group.  Is there anyone out there that thinks David Duke speaks for all white people?  Or that Tom Cruise speaks for all actors?  Or that Osama Bin Laden speaks for all Muslims?  No, we know that these men are speaking their own mind.  In fact, they represent the minority of each of their groups.  Most Americans know this.  Most Americans can tell the difference between one man's botched joke and an entire party's view on the troops.  Of course, Rush Limbaugh doesn't think most Americans are that smart.

Of course, I'm making Rush Limbaugh into the bad guy.  He is a bad guy, but he's also a product of the media that needs to find a quick controversy to boost the ratings regardless of whether the truth is getting reported.  We don't want news anymore, we want headlines and people like Rush and Ann Coulter and Al Franken feed them to us.  We never get actual news or good information, we only get hyperbole.  In the end, we know nothing and no one tries to help us.  But boy are we entertained.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Corporate Semantics

Check out today's Google Blog where they address the legalities of using "Google" as a verb and the possible dangers it poses to their brand identity.  They have identified the fact that people are using "Google" or "Googled" to mean search.  People apparently say "Googled" when they have used web sites other than Google to search on the Internet.  It never even occurred to me that people would do that.  I always assume that people actually use Google when they say, "I Googled it."  If that's not the case, then a) people are dumber than I thought and b) the English language is going to shit because people don't care what words mean anymore - which is the whole point of language. 
 
On the flip side of this coin, does anyone forsee people saying things like "Yahooed" or "MSNed" or "Ask.comed"?  Of course, you would have to say "Ask.comed" not "Asked" since "asked" has it's own meaning already.  Or maybe not, since we no longer care what words mean.  Regardless, this whole thing begs the question: Why don't we all just used "searched"?
 
Or maybe I'm just an idiot.*
 
 
*By "idiot" I mean: smart, 30 year-old, gainfully employed, graying, typist of this message.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

North Korea

Boy, it must be frustrating dealing with a nation that does whatever it wants despite repeated warnings and advice from the other nations of the world.
 
I wonder how Bush likes the taste of his own medicine?
 

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is that so?

SI.com does a profile of a college cheerleader every week.  This week it's a girl from the University of Georgia.  Basically, they gave this girl a form and told her to fill it out.  My favorite part is question number 6:
 
6. One misconception about cheerleaders: We are smart!  The average GPA for my squad is 3.04
 
Check the definition of misconception, sister.
 
I also enjoy her answers to numbers 5 and 20:
 
5. Best place you can take me on a date: Some sort of sporting event and then to get ice cream
 
20. Perfect date: Spending the day on the lake tubing and waterskiing, having a good relaxed time and getting to know each other.
 
She managed to change her mind within fifteen short questions.  Technically, I should be giving Sports Illustrated a hard time for asking what is essentially the same question twice, but if she's so smart then she should have realized she was answering the same question twice.
 
Then there's number 10 which will have guys across the nation making their very own mayonnaise:
 
10. Strange and unusual fact about me: I love mayonnaise!  I will eat it on anything.
 
But it's so fattening.  You should know better.
 

Here we go again...

Packers wide receiver, Koren Robinson, was sentenced to 90 days in jail for his second drunk driving offense.  HOWEVER, the jail sentence will not start until after the NFL season.  The same thing happened when Ravens running back Jamal Lewis was sentenced for setting up a drug deal with his cell phone.  His sentence was scheduled to take place in the off season.  Am I the only person outraged by this?
 
If I get busted for drunk driving twice, I go to jail immediately after I'm sentenced.  I don't get to finish the project I'm working on and then go to jail.  I go directly to jail.  No waiting period.  The point of our corrections system is to punish, deter and rehabilitate people for breaking our laws.  If someone breaks the law and then gets to serve his sentence when it is most convenient for him, it defeats the purpose.  Koren Robinson is not being forced to give up his means of making the living like the rest of the American population would be, so how exactly is this a just - or even useful - punishment?  This will not deter him from committing the crime again - or from committing any crime again.
 
Put him in jail now.  Just like what would happen to anyone else.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm Stuck

Right now, the elevators in my building are not working.  I would gladly use the stairs, but my key fob won't open the doors in the stairwell once I'm inside.  Normally, this wouldn't be a problem because I could just sit at my desk and do work, but I haven't eaten lunch yet.  I need to get out of the building (which I can't do) or go to the 37th floor (which I can't do).  I just hope it's fixed by the time I have to go home.
 

Random Things

Football
It's football season.  Praise the Lord, it's football season!  It's a season of huge expectations for my teams.  The Fighting Irish are expected to contend for the National Championship and anything short of playing in the BCS Championship game in January will be a disappointment.  The Colts are again expected to make a run at the Super Bowl.  I have more hope for the Irish than the Colts - especially since the Colts lost running back Edgerrin James and his replacements looked a little sad in the opener.
 
This season is even more fun for me because I've got a gig writing about both the Colts and Irish.  I've published about four articles so far (two for each team) and you can find them at www.realfootball365.com.  I'm even being compensated for my efforts.
 
I also realized yesterday that the ND-USC game - which could determine who goes to the National Championship game - is on the same night as my girlfriend's brother's wedding.  Ugh.  This annoys me to no end.  Most of my friends (being ND grads) are kind enough to schedule weddings on bye weekends so I have rarely run into this problem.  However, this wedding happens during the ND game and on Thanksgiving weekend.  It's a Catholic wedding, too.  They should know better.  I like my girlfriend's brother, but I cannot give this wedding my blessing.
 
 
Moving
I'm going to be moving soon.  I'm not sure when, but I'll be moving.  We were supposed to move this Saturday, but we just learned that we won't be able to close when they told us we could.  In fact, we found out the day before our closing that we wouldn't be closing.  Now we have to undo all of our move orders and redo them again when we have our date.  There's a good chance we won't have our DirecTV until Christmas.
 
Also, FUCK YOU, AT&T.  Fuck you for taking away my Internet when I told you not to.  Fuck you because your telephone and DSL departments don't talk to each other.  Fuck you because I called you the day before the move order was to be executed and you said that both disconnects would be stopped and that I would still have both telephone and DSL service in my old place for another week.  Fuck you for shutting off my DSL anyway.  Fuck you and the rest of the companies I've ever dealt with for shitty customer service.  Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.
 
 
Security
Every morning when my train stops at the Clark/Lake station, they announce that we will be standing momentarily for security inspection.  The first time I heard this, I thought, "Oh shit.  We're going to be here for a while."  However, I was wrong.  The "security inspection" took about one minute.  The "security inspection" is simply a cop in an orange vest walking by the open doors of each of the train cars with a dog.  The cop barely looks into the car and the dog looks completely disinterested.  It is obviously only a charade to give people the feeling of security, but not actually provide it.  Note to Mayor Daley: We're not as dumb as you think we are.  We're not fooled by this.  Nobody feels safer after those little "inspections."  Save us some money - cut it out. 
 
 

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Here Come the Irish

This Saturday, football season officially begins for me.  Notre Dame kicks off its season against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.  This will be the start of Notre Dame's run for the National Championship.  The expectations are high this season and anything short of playing the the National Championship game - and winning - will be a disappointment.  I just watched coach Charlie Weis' press conference from this Saturday where Weis talks about the defense (the big question mark for ND this year) with a shit-eating grin like we don't have any idea what they're going to hit us with.
 
I can't wait to see this team unleashed on the Ramblin' Wreck.
 
GO IRISH!
 
 

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Year 30 - A Dinner with Parents

This post is one in a series of thirty stories from my life. For more info click here.

I've had dinner with my parents and I've had dinner with Dee's parents. Dee has had dinner with my parents and Dee has had dinner with her parents. I've had dinner with Dee and Dee has had dinner with me, but my parents have never had dinner with Dee's parents. Until this spring.

My parents decided that they wanted to make a rare visit to Chicago to see Dee perform at a Chicago Rush game (she's a cheerleader for the Rush). I convinced them to arrive on a Saturday so that they could have dinner with me, Dee and her parents.

My mom was very excited about the chance to see Dee dance, but she was even more excited when I mentioned that we would be having dinner with Dee's parents. You see, she is very fond of the idea of me settling down with someone and having kids. My dad was less excited - not because he doesn't want me to do the same, but because he's seen me date two different women for two years apiece without a wedding. He's not holding his breath. Dee's parents were excited as well - especially because of the place we would be eating.

Dee and I decided that we should take our parents to Feast - where we had our first date. Dee and I returned there on our year anniversary and thought that it would be as good a place as any to treat our parents to. Plus, they have good food.

We all arrived at Feast at about the same time and were shown to our table right away. Unfortunately, Dee and I were both surprised at how loud the place was. We had always gone on a Wednesday or Thursday night. Saturdays were much more busy and loud given the weekend crowd. Our parents seemed put off initially, but everyone adjusted and began learning a little bit about each other.

The conversation quickly turned to stories from my and Dee's childhoods. My mom told a couple of stories about the cute things I used to do and even one about me whacking my cousin with a microphone. Nothing too embarrassing - though I'm pretty hard to embarrass. Dee's parents mostly told stories about what a brat she was as a kid - but they threw a couple of good ones in there to make it seem like they weren't bad parents. Actually, they probably threw in the sweet ones to make it seem like Dee wasn't a complete brat.

The dads - who are both rather quiet - managed to find a few things in common and soon began talking about flying. The moms had no trouble at all entertaining themselves with some kind of mysterious mom talk that I didn't really follow or bother to pay much attention to. Dee and I managed to make each other laugh for a while.

We also passed around floor plans for the new condo that Dee and I had just contracted. Everyone pretended to be excited and interested. In reality Dee's parents weren't thrilled with the idea of Dee and I living together, but had come to accept it since they knew a bigger commitment was on the way. My parents were not happy at all about our decision to "play house." My parents are quite conservative and think that things should be done in a certain order. Living together does not come before marriage.

We finished dinner and made our way towards the door. Of course, the moms had to use the restroom before we left so me, Dee and the dads waited in the bar area. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. We all knew by this point that they weren't using the bathroom so much as chatting. God only knows what they talked about in the bathroom that night. I can only hope that it was about the really sweet housewarming present that they'll be getting Dee and I once we move in.

30 Stories

Check out this post over at Robberblog.  It's a summary of where he was in May every single year of his life.  I found it an interesting read and a fantastic idea for a post.  I had initially planned to completely rip him off and do the same here.  I'm still going to rip him off, just not as completely as I had once planned.
 
In a series of thirty posts, I am going to tell a story from each year of my life.  All of these stories will be strictly from my memory.  I will not consult my parents for good stories about me, I'll just use my memories from those times in my life.  The only exception will be the very early years of which I have no memory.  I'll also try to get some photos of me as a kid and post them along with the stories.  Since I'll be doing this all from memory, some of the posts may be a year or two off.  That's the price my readers pay for me not having a photographic memory.

I will continue to post other things to this blog before I finish all thirty stories.  So that you can tell which stories are part of the "30 Years" series, I'll title them with the following convention: "Year X - Title of Story".  X represents the year of my life the story is from.
 
Enjoy.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't Act Surprised

In a preview for the local news, there were various shots of women in flip-flops walking around the city.  The voice over said, "Why flip-flops could be bad for your feet.  Next at 10."  My response was, "Well, they're basically a piece of cardboard and rubber bands, that's why they're bad for your feet.  I'm going to bed early."  I mean, really.  Is this news?  Is anyone surprised by the idea that shoes that I could make at home are bad for your feet?  If you are, you're an idiot.

Of course, people still smoke so maybe I shouldn't assume.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Success

I received a fortune yesterday.  It read:

"Your principles mean more to you than any money or success."

So I have my principles to blame for not having any money or success.

At least I know.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Panhandlers and Bubble Wrap

I received a package at my office earlier this week. The contents were wrapped in bubble wrap. Everyone loves bubble wrap. Those little air pockets are so much fun to pop. I realized something new about bubble wrap today. If you run your hand over it before you set about popping every one of the little bubbles, it's kinda like feeling hundreds of tiny little boobies all at once.


As I was waiting for the train home this afternoon at the Monroe stop around 5pm, there were some panhandlers playing music when I walked in. Three guys. One with a guitar, one with a little egg shaped shaker and the third with a kick ass voice. In fact, they all had great voices and were obviously well rehearsed as they were hitting some pretty flawless three part harmony. I was impressed and delighted that this was the way I got to end my Friday. I walked over and threw a couple bucks in their hat. I almost let a train pass so that I could stay and listen a little longer. Almost.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Blue Angels

Seconds ago I was startled by the sound of a high-powered jet engine buzzing my building.  I was alarmed at first, wondering what sort of terror issue caused the scrambling of military jets.  I quickly remembered that this weekend is the Chicago Air & Water Show.  My building is getting buzzed by the Blue Angels practicing their routine for this weekend.
 
I love working downtown.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Captivate Network

Since I've started my new job in downtown Chicago, a lot of things have changed for me.  My commute is shorter, I get more sleep and I now work in a fancy new high-rise in the Loop.  Part of working in a high-rise is taking the elevator everywhere.  I'm not used to using elevators since my old job was at a four-story building in the 'burbs.  In the taller buildings there are usually two (or more) banks of elevators that provide service to different floors.  In my building one bank provides access to floors 7-23 and the other provides access to floors 23-38.  If you're riding the elevators from a lower floor to a higher floor, you have to switch elevator banks on the 23rd floor.  Also, our elevators are equipped with something called "The Captivate Network".
 
Every elevator has a little screen mounted just above the button panel and it shows a series of different news items throughout the day.  This is called The Captivate Network.  A clever play on the fact that the audience is captive.  The Captivate Network does two things.  First, it provides everyone in the elevator with something to do so everyone doesn't have to stand around awkwardly trying to not make eye contact.  Second, it provides interesting little tidbits that people can use to make conversation.
 
The Captivate Network has provided me with plenty of little bits of information that I would otherwise never know or care about.  Here is a list of things that I have learned from The Captivate Network:
  • David Ortiz consistently leads the league (MBL or AL, I'm not sure) in RBI.
  • In India, the government has released a certain type of monkey to chase other monkeys out of the subway.
  • A waitress was handed her own stolen ID when carding someone at a bar.
  • Las Vegas enacted a law making it illegal to feed homeless people in parks.
  • L'esprit de l'escalier is the French phrase for thinking of a good comeback too late. (Like George Costanza and the "Jerk Store" thing)
  • Do not swim with shiny jewelry on, for sharks might mistake the shiny jewelry as fish scales and try to eat you.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Coming Soon

It's been kinda quiet here for a while and I apologize to anyone who actually reads this regularly. I would like to think that I'm apologizing to a large group of people, but I'm not. Sorry, Tim and SBS. Okay, I think that covers it.

I do have an excuse for why I haven't posted in a while. First of all, I've been asked to write weekly editorials for The Colts Blog, so I've been working on my first article for that site. It should be up soon. Second, I've been working on a long-term project for this site that will consist of approximately 30 substantial posts. I've been busy mapping that out. Hopefully I'll have something soon.

In the meantime, check out this video. It's the way music videos should be and is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time.

OK Go on treadmills

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's So Hot...

The heat index in Chicago was 101 degrees today. It's so hot outside that...

...my shirt was constantly ironed.

...when I asked Subway to toast my sandwich, they took it outside for 30 seconds.

...the swamp in my pants is responsible for closing the hole in the ozone.

...I bought a bottle of Evian steam.

...the local paper read: The Chicago Surface-of-the-Sun-Times.

...Lake Michigan has been renamed Michigan Canyon.

...they've renamed my 5 year-old cousin Veal.

...the beaches turned to glass.

...fire only burns in the shade.

...Satan asked who turned on the air conditioning.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Movies and TV

In Chicago there's a short window of time when you can enjoy the fantastic weather.  I took advantage of one of the nicest weekends this summer by catching up on movies and TV.  On Thursday night, I saw Superman Returns and on Friday night I watched the season premiere of USA's Psych.

Superman Returns
My buddy Sean said it best, "For a movie about a guy who can do just about anything, we sure didn't get to see him do very much." 

It was a good movie, but it has some major problems.  First of all, there's not enough of Superman doing Superman things.  He saves a burning plane at the beginning which is pretty sweet, but then there's about an hour of boring love triangle between Clark, Lois and Lois' husband.  Boring.  We didn't even get to see Lex Luthor hatch his evil plan.  We just suddenly see him put his plan into action.  It turns out that his plan is to create new land laced with kryptonite.  Enough kryptonite that Lex and his henchmen beat the shit out of Superman before sending him crashing into the ocean.  Lois and her husband manage to save Superman.  He then flies up to be recharged by the sun and proceeds to fly back down and lift the island of kryptonite out of the ocean and throw it into space.  Mind you, this is the same island of kryptonite that completely debilitated him not minutes before.  How do you explain that?  Is he like a cell phone?  Was he only working on one bar for the whole movie until he recharged?  What the hell?  Doesn't kryptonite kill Superman?  Now it doesn't?  Shame on you, maker of Superman Returns.  Same on you.

Psych
Okay.  There's this guy.  He's kind of a loser.  His dad was a cop and taught him to notice every little thing.  He basically has a photographic memory.  Anyway, this guy calls in tips to the police after watching the news and they bring him in as a suspect.  He can't reveal that he just notices stuff because no one will believe it, so he makes a few observations about the cops and convinces them that he's a psychic.  The chief then hires him to work on a case and he managed to solve it.  The guy that plays the psychic is funny and quirky and his partner - who plays his uptight friend - is a great foil for him.  I enjoyed the show enough that I set my TiVo to catch it every Friday.

And that's what I did with my beautiful weekend.

Close Call

On Tuesday, a Chicago CTA train derailed during rush hour.  This train was a Blue Line train heading north to O'Hare from downtown Chicago.  This is the train that I now take to and from work every day.  Luckily, I was not on the train that derailed.  Had I been about 15 seconds later, I would have been a passenger on that unfortunate train.

After work, I leave my building and board the Blue Line at the Monroe stop.  As I headed down the stairs, I heard a train pulling into the station so I picked up the pace and was able to jump onto the car before the doors closed.  I arrived at my home stop at about 5:09pm - the same time that the accident happened.  I walked to my place, changed clothes, grabbed some food and headed to rehearsal.  When I arrived at rehearsal, everyone was talking about the accident and I realized that I must have just missed it.  By about 15 seconds.

 

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bits from My Life

Unemployment
I'm currently unemployed.  Tomorrow I will not get up and go to work.  I will not get paid for a holiday on Monday or Tuesday.  I no longer have health insurance.  I am officially a drain on society.  But not for long...

On Wednesday, I will begin a new job.  My unemployment is voluntary.  Two weeks ago Friday I gave my notice at my old job.  I had worked there for nearly eight years (seven years and eleven months, to be exact).  It was my first job out of college.  For eight years I made my way all the way out to the northern suburbs.  The commute was never less than an hour.  Now I'll be making a twenty minute commute downtown.  Of course, the commute wasn't the only reason I took the job.  Money played a part.  Plus, it was just time for a change. 

I wasn't unhappy at my old job.  In fact, it was the best position I had been in since I was at the company.  I liked my bosses and I liked the work I was doing.  I liked my co-workers.  It was a good place to be.  Which is why I'm confident and happy that I made the right choice. 

On Wednesday, I start again from square one.  A new chapter.


The End of a Run
Last night was the final show of Sick/Personal Day, a sketch show I was in at Donny's Skybox at Second City.  It was probably the best show we did in the entire run.  We played to a sold out crowd who was ready to laugh and we gave them what they wanted.  It was a great feeling.

It was the fist sketch show I had ever done and it was more successful than I could have expected.  It debuted at Stage Left and then was accepted at Donny's Skybox.  The crowds consistently loved it and we had a blast performing in it.  Sure, there were times when I was frustrated with the show and some of the other performers, but on the whole it was a great experience.

I can't wait for the next show.


Friends, Real and Imagined
If you look just to the right, you'll see a little section titled "Links."  As the title suggests, I've placed a few links there to other sites and blogs.  I thought I'd take a second and give you a little info on each of those links.

pH Productions
This is the website for my improv comedy theater company.  I and five other people founded this company in 2002 and have been running and performing in it ever since.  The people in this company also make up a majority of my friends.  Take a look and come see a show in you're in the neighborhood.

Industrial Whumpus
A writing project.  Me, Tristan and Tim take turns writing stories and providing suggestions for each other.  So far, Tristan has put Tim and I to shame.

Colts Fan In Chicago
A horribly neglected blog that was started with good intentions.  Hopefully I will keep it up a little better once the football season rolls around.

Joe Important
A blog written by my friend Tim.  The same guy who writes with Tristan and me on Industrial Whumpus.  Some great stories out there.  Check out the links in the section titled "Niblets of Prose."

Robberblog
A blog written by my friend Sean.  I perform with him on my Playground team, Space Robbers.  He loves his comics and improv.  Also the Red Sox.  One of the smartest and funniest guys I know.  Enjoy.

My Dad's Blog
Pretty self explanatory.  My dad is a State Senator in Indiana.  It's about issues pertaining to Indiana politics.  Seems about right.  He wears glasses.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

WWJD

You're walking down the street and you pass a homeless man on the street.  He holds out his cup and asks for some change so he can get something to eat.  Typically, you would respond with a cursory, "Not today, man" and keep on walking.  Today, you are in a good mood so you pause to consider your options.  A thought occurs to you.  What would Jesus do?  Would Jesus give him that extra change jingling in His pocket?  Would Jesus give him the shirt off His back?  Would Jesus keep walking?  Nope.  Jesus would turn that old shoe lying on the sidewalk into a sandwich.  That's what Jesus would do.  Satisfied, you keep walking.

Follow Up

You may remember my feud with Aaron's.  I'll give you some time to read about it...

Welcome back.

Sure, my deserving girlfriend was snubbed by that deceitful corporation and kept from going to Vegas to perform.  Fortunately, my girlfriend got the last laugh.  As it turns out, the extremely mediocre Chicago Rush decided to put it all together at the right time and made an impressive little run through the playoffs.  In fact, their victory over San Jose put them over .500 for the first time since February 26th when they were 3-2.  That victory also put them into the ArenaBowl. 

This victory then gave my girlfriend a new chance to go to Vegas.  The Rush were kind enough to pay for hotel rooms for the Adrenaline Rush Dancers.  Most of them managed some cheap air fare and made their way out to Vegas to cheer on the Rush.  In fact, they did such a great job cheering that the Rush managed to win the ArenaBowl.  She got to go down onto the field and celebrate with the championship trophy.  Aside from that, she got to hang out with her friends in Vegas for a few days.  She had a great weekend.

If she had been selected for Aaron's Fraudulent Dance Team, she would not have been able to hang out with her friends as she would have been scheduled for events and other such B.S. during the weekend.  She would have had to dance with other girls who are not as talented as she is.  We all know how frustrating dealing with incompetent people can be.  In short, her weekend would not have been as great.

In the end, my girlfriend won the little battle against Aaron's.  However, that does not mean that Aaron's is exonerated of its past crimes.  They are still Lying Lyers from Lyerville.  Don't buy their substandard products.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Three Childhood Stories

It's a slow day for me, so I figured I'd take this opportunity to catch up on some blogging. What follows are three stories from my childhood. In chronological order.


Swimming Lessons
When I was a second or third grader, my dad decided that I needed to learn how to swim. He took me to the high school where swimming lessons were being given to kids about my age.

At this time, I was deathly afraid of the water. I did NOT in any way want to go to swimming lessons. My dad insisted and he was the boss of me. He would pile me into the car and I would throw a fit the entire time. I would cry and scream and kick. I got so upset that I would actually make myself puke. I didn't stick my finger down my throat, I just got so freaked out that he would have to stop the car at least twice on the way to the lessons.

Once I got to the lessons, I would spend all my time in the shallow end making sure that I did not do too well in any of the swimming exercises. If I was picked out as a strong swimmer, then I would be sent to the deep end and thrown in to drown.

Eventually, the teachers got wise to my scheme and forced me to go down to the deep end. I forced up some vomit. They forced me into the water. I sank.

Later, when I was in high school, we did a section on swimming for gym class. I found that I could swim just fine. In fact, I was one of the better swimmers. I don't remember learning how to swim, but I did.


Cheating
I once got sent to the Principal's office for cheating by my 8th grade English teacher. She was a little crazy. On days when we had quizzes, she made us come into the room and put all of our books below the desk so that nothing was on our desk except for our pencils. Then she would make us sit in silence for 10 minutes. She believed this 10 minute period of silence would decrease the success of a cram session just before class. She thought that if we could still answer correctly after 10 minutes of silence then she had succeeded at teaching us something.

During the 10 minute silence, she would sit at her desk and read. She didn't look up at the class so long as it was quiet. The students then proceeded to write the info they remembered on their desks, study it for 9 minutes and wipe it off the desk just before she handed out the quiz. Unfortunately, I was placed in the front row one day when she finished her book before the 10 minute period was up. She looked up and saw me studying the writing on my desk. She immediately assumed that I was going to leave it on my desk for the quiz and use it to cheat (strangely enough, I had written the material on my desk from memory so it technically wouldn't be cheating at all). I was not going to do that. I was going to erase it like everyone did because we weren't stupid enough to think that she wouldn't notice a bunch of shit written on our desks. She sent me to the Principal's office.

The Principal was surprised to see me because I never got in trouble. I explained the situation and he believed me. However, he was still going to let my teacher give me an F on the quiz (it was only worth ten points and I still got an A in the class, in case you were worried) because failure is an important lesson to learn. He then went on to explain that he never hires a teacher that hasn't failed or gotten a D in a class at some point because he thinks that they will be able to better identify with the struggling students. I bit my lip to keep from mentioning that that may be the reason why the teachers at my junior high sucked.


Oh Captain, My Captain
My freshman year in high school, everyone had to take Social Studies. This class was taught by a Captain Kangaroo look-alike. He thought he was hilarious and he would tell really bad jokes about how mountains don't get cold because they wear their snow caps. You know, really lame rim-shot stuff. He would always assign us to color and label maps of various different parts of the world. It was usually the easiest 50 points in the history of school. All you had to do was find a map and basically copy it - even the colors.

In the class, my friend Ted would get bored so we would constantly crack jokes. The rest of the class thought we were much funnier than the teacher and he hated that. He hated me especially because I was a smartass and I would also always ace all of his tests. That way he couldn't even make snide comments to me when he handed back our tests. He always did this to Ted (a C student) and even though Ted played it off, I think it always made him feel bad and stupid. Therefore, I hated Captain Kangroo.

ANYWAY, the Captain assigned us to color a map and we all did so. When he handed them back, he had taken five points off of mine because I had slightly (very, very slightly) colored over one of the borders of the countries. I went to his desk in front of the class and asked him why he took off so many points. He responded by saying, "You started a war. You annexed part of that country."
I said, "How did I start a war if no one knows about it outside this classroom?"
He quickly replied, "Well, stupidity should be advertised." Then looked at me smugly as if to say, "Take that."
Before I knew what I was saying I snapped, "If stupidity was advertised, you'd be famous."
His jaw dropped and the whole class gasped. Then silence. I stood there for a second waiting for him to send me to the Principal's office, but he never did. I walked back to my desk and class continued as if it never happened.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Do I Exist?

It's a natural human tendency to wonder about our existence. In fact, there have been many movies about it. Are we all living someone else's dream? Are we all living our own dream? Are we all living a computer generated dream? No one knows. Philosophers have debated the question of our existence from the beginning of time.

Despite all of the debates I am reasonably convinced that I do exist. Until today.

It was a routine trip to the bathroom in my office. I went in to do my business and moved to the sink to wash my hands. Much like airport bathrooms, the sinks in my office bathroom are operated by motion sensors. You simply place your hands below the faucet and the water turns on. I chose a sink and placed my hands beneath the faucet. The water did not come on. The man at the sink next to me placed his hands under the faucet and the water came on. The man at the next sink did the same. The water came on. I waited, but no water. I said, "Huh, that's weird." Nobody turned to look. I waited. Still no water. No matter how I tried, the water would not come on. That led me to the only logical conclusion: I do not exist.

The motion sensor could not detect me, therefore I do not exist.

Also, I have dirty hands.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The 4400 by Marvel

I'm sitting here watching the season premiere of The 4400 on the USA network. I watched most of last season and enjoyed it quite a bit. The show seemed to have an interesting and unique premise.

4400 people were abducted from different points in time and taken to the future. One day, they all appeared near a lake in Washington, unaged. This is how the first season opened. We learned that they each began to display special powers. For example, one creepy little girl could see the future. Another woman could control the level of adrenaline in other people. There is even a guy who can read minds. The government then put the 4400 in quarantine and began secretly injecting them with an "inhibitor" to curb their powers. This was exposed at the end of last season.

I was hooked. I thought it was clever and intriguing.

Now, I'm beginning to wonder. I didn't notice before, but this show seems to be a direct rip-off of the X-Men premise. There are these people (the 4400) with special powers who are misunderstood and feared by much of the public. Within the 4400 there is a small group that has gone rogue and have begun killing the leaders of the non-4400 in the government who they believe are trying to destroy them. Sound familiar? All they need is a leader who can control magnetic fields.

The government is using the 4400 who can read minds to locate the other 4400. The difference is that he's a black guy and has hair. Oh, he can walk, too. They've got a guy who can heal people more quickly than they heal themselves. He does not have foot long blades embedded in his hands.

I'm just waiting for the episode in which the government builds huge robots with which to hunt the 4400.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who has noticed this. Let's hope that Marvel doesn't notice or this show will be cancelled in no time.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Graffiti

Over the past few months some new graffiti has been showing up in my nieghborhood. I've noticed it because it's not your standard graffiti. I've taken a few pictures:






Since I've taken these pictures, they've all been painted over. However, more have appeared since then. Whoever has been putting up this graffiti has been very persistent. So persistent that you might think that there was a tagging war. The sweetest tagging war of all time. However, I've not seen a response to the rainclouds yet so I don't think the tagging war is likely. It seems much more possible that it's the work of some rogue artist.

Anyone have any insight on what this might be?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Meditations on Hip Hop

I have more than my fair share of Hip Hop (Hip Hop, R&B, call it whatever you like) albums and songs.  There are many Hip Hop artists that turn out some fantastic songs.  Like any musical genre, there is a lot of crap as well.  I have a few suggestions that might reduce the level of crap that we hear within the Hip Hop genre.
 
1) From now on, we're just going to assume that you are "in the house."  No need to inform us of the fact.
2) Stop sampling.  Sampling is just a legal form of plagiarism.  Be original.  If you must sample, do not sample from artists that are still alive - especially ones who had a hit as recently as the late 80s.  Sample from old school blues artists.  Bonus points if you sample Leadbelly.
3) Random dudes shouting "Whoa" throughout the song do nothing to enhance your point.
4) We know you have a nice car.  We don't care.
5) Only sing about how much you get laid if you are also willing to sing about the associated STDs.
6) Your "bling" is your own business.  Keep it that way.
7) Songs about shaking your ass are still permitted, though we're quickly reaching the threshold.
8) Asking us to "wave our hands in the air" on a recording defeats the purpose.  Save it for the live show.
9) You're not the greatest and you never will be - no matter how much you say it.
10) We're also going to assume that you are "keeping it real."  We don't need to hear it.
 
 

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Starbucks Speak

I'm not a coffee drinker.  I do hear many coffee drinkers complain about Starbucks taking over the world.  Many smaller coffee shops have been run out of business by Starbucks and the ones that are left typically hate Starbucks with a passion.  I'm here to help.
 
Starbucks uses a proprietary sizing convention for its drinks.  Tall = Small.  Grande = Medium.  Venti = Large.  This has somehow caught on which results in drink orders sounding much like someone reciting lyrics from Lady Marmalade.  In fact, this has become so ingrained in people that they continue to order drinks this way when not at Starbucks.  This - understandably - aggravates all non-Starbucks coffee shops.  Many non-Starbucks coffee shop workers will simply fill the order because they know what it means, others will pretend to not understand.  "Venti?  I'm sorry, I don't know what that is."  Those are fine tactics, but if we really want to thwart the spread of the Starbucks language then we need to fight back.
 
I propose that all non-Starbucks coffee shops create items named Tall, Grande and Venti.  Each of those items should be disgusting, yet edible and added to the drink at extra cost.  For example, Venti could mean dropping a sardine into the cup of coffee.  Grande would mean that you top the drink with cheese whiz.  You get the idea.  Of course, all of these things should be noted on the menu so that you are not giving the impression that you are deceiving your patrons.  Do this, and I guarantee people will be more careful with their language while ordering drinks in the future.
 
I'm Jeff Ford and I fight for the people.
 

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Den of Deceit

Have you ever been to Aaron's? You know, the electronics store. Maybe you haven't heard of it. Actually, you probably haven't heard of it. I hadn't heard of it until I started regularly attending Arena Football games. It seems that Aaron's is the major sponsor of the AFL. They've paid what is almost certainly a modest amount of money for this honor. It's funny what your money can buy.

Part of Aaron's deal with the AFL is that they sponsor the all-star dance squad for the Arena Bowl. This year, Aaron's decided that online voting would determine the dance team. All AFL fans (or anyone who found the site) could look through all of the members of each AFL teams' dance squads. We could go vote as many times as we want for whomever we want. I did just that. Many, many, many of my friends also voted. Many, many, times. We all voted for one person. Many, many, many of her friends voted in the same way as well. Strangely, many of the girls on the team had no idea there was even online voting at all. This seems as if the girl we voted for had quite an advantage. She did. Seems like she would have won this hands down.

She did not.

The girl that was chosen was not the one that received this incredible number of votes. It was someone else. The votes were not and will not be revealed. This allows Aaron's to keep a lid on their ruse. Of course, I have no idea if the girl I and hundreds of other people voted for hundreds and hundreds of times actually received the most votes. I can only speculate...

And now, some lies of my own about Aaron's:
1) Aaron's will lie to you at every opportunity.
2) All Aaron's equipment and furniture is supplied to them by criminals.
3) If you dare try to return merchandise to Aaron's they will beat you with a rubber hose or a lead pipe - whichever is most handy.
4) Aaron - the namesake of the store - had twelve kittens as a child. He drowned them all.
5) That charming salesman you bought that plasma TV from is a cannibal.

...and I will continue to speculate until Aaron's reveals the vote tallies and shows us who the real winners are. If Aaron's has chosen the women with the highest vote tallies then there should be no problem.

Aaron's, stop your lies and show us the votes.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Look Elsewhere

I just posted a new story on one of my other blogs, Industrial Whumpus. It's a writing project with two of my other friends where we give each other suggestions and write stories based on those suggestions. Enjoy.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Where's My Money?

I turned thirty in January, and I'm still not rich. I don't quite understand what is going on. I've done everything right. I have middle-class, to upper-middle-class parents. I went to a prestigious university. I got a good job at a major corporation in a big city. I've lived in all the right neighborhoods. I went to the right bars on the weekends. I experimented with drugs, but none of the really bad ones. I've read the classics, or at least know enough about most of them to fake it. I wear sweaters.

Yet somehow, I'm not rich.

I did all the things that rich white people do to get rich. I figured that was it. Maybe I need the secret password. I just thought that at some point The Man would come down and give me a ton of money for free. That's how it works with white guys, right?

I've seen Chris Rock's stand-up act. White people are treated differently. We live in a different world. Why haven't I been invited?

Where's my money, The Man?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Indiana's New Laws

Yesterday was the last day of the 2006 session for the Indiana Legislature.  (How do I know?  This is my dad.)  They call it their "short session".  Regardless, they still managed to get quite a bit done.  Here are a few new laws enacted in this short session.
 
1) The Major Moves Bill
The Major Moves bill gives the Governor the ability to lease the Indiana Toll Road to an overseas company.  This will bring approximately $3.8 billion to Indiana for other road repair projects. 
 
I just hope they don't put the lanes on the wrong side of the road.
 
2) Fireworks
Fireworks are now legal again in Indiana.  You don't have to sign anything saying that you won't detonate them in Indiana.  You're now free to do that within the borders of the state - legally.  This bill also adds a tax to purchasing fireworks.
 
Indiana Fireworks: Lose fingers and more money.
 
Congratulations, lawmakers on a fine short session.  Hoosiers are in good hands.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bumper Stickers

For the first time in my life, I saw a bumper sticker that I agree with. It read: “Nobody Owes You Anything”. Now that’s a bumper sticker that I can get behind… rather, that I can put behind me… er, that I could stick on the behind of my car.

Here are some other bumper stickers that I would like to see:

1) You are unique. Just like everyone else.
2) If you’re illiterate, you can’t read this.
3) If you’re apathetic and you know it clap your… aww, nevermind.
4) Eyes on the road, jackass.
5) Peel here to reveal large scratch.
6) Free everything.
7) Politics.
8) My other ride is a hooker with the clap.
9) I’d rather be shopping for bumper stickers.
10) I feel my political beliefs are best expressed via small rectangular adhesives stuck to the back of my car and I honestly think that this tiny little piece of glorified tape is going to change your mind and get you to vote on my side because it’s just that clever and hilarious. How could you not vote with me after reading this and having your mind blown by its pith? Seriously, I’m right.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Commission

I went to my local electronics store to pick up a new TV for my place. I was immediately assaulted by a very persistent salesman. I hate salesmen. The conversation went like this:

"Anything I can help you with, sir?"

"No thanks. I'm just looking around."

"Okay. I just want to let you know that you're looking at a great model. You get a lot for that price."

"Great. Thanks."

"Also, you should know that you get half off surround sound systems with the purchase of a TV this month."

"Great. Thanks."

"I see that you're gravitating towards the Sony. We've got a lot of different Sony models that you might be interested in."

"Great. Thanks."

"Are there any questions that I can answer for you?"

"Yeah, where are the socks?"

"..."

"Thanks. Good day."

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fat Tuesday

As a lapsed Catholic, Fat Tuesday has recently held little significance for me other than seeing other people party their asses off in a city I don't live in. This year is a different story.

My hot girlfriend still makes and keeps Lenten promises. I'm along for the ride. You see, I figured it couldn't hurt to make a sacrifice for forty days, plus I'd rather not be an enabler during her sacrifice time. She's giving up sweets, which means I'm giving up sweets. In celebration of Fat Tuesday, I'll be having a Heath Bar.

Here are some other things I'll be giving up:
  1. Giving up.
  2. Talking about giving things up.
  3. Wondering what other people have given up.
  4. Dealing with idiots.
  5. Watching that stupid commercial with the monkeys in the office.
  6. Smoking (Done!)
  7. Pretending to be nice.
  8. Pretending to like you.
  9. Murder.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Bowl Sickness

Super Bowl Sunday is always a sad day for me. It’s the day the NFL goes into hibernation for the spring and summer. It’s the day a team hoists the Lombardi Trophy and gets to call themselves champions. In my thirty years, that team has never been my team. In fact, my team has never even been to the Super Bowl in my lifetime. Every year I walk away from the game sad that the season is over and indifferent to the outcome. It would seem that this year would be no different, but it was.

This was it. This was finally the year that my team was going to get to the big game. I watched the Colts go 13-0 (thanks to my girlfriend I got to witness win #12 live) and believed that this was finally the year that all the pieces had fallen into place. Instead, I watched them choke again in the playoffs. I was heartbroken. For days afterwards, I could not talk about it or even think about it rationally. I wondered if Manning and Dungy would ever win a championship. Will their legacy be that they can’t win the big one?

Weeks passed and my anger and sadness subsided. Suddenly, Super Bowl Sunday was upon me. I had made my plans to go to a Super Bowl party. Usually, I would look forward to hanging with friends and having a few laughs during the game. This time as the game crept closer I wanted to be a part of it less and less. Every little thing annoyed me. I saw a friend with a Steelers shirt. I wanted to punch her. I watched an interview with Mike Holmgren’s wife who was on a volunteer mission in Africa. I wanted to punch her. I saw a shot of Ford Field with the Steelers and Seahawks logos hanging outside. I wanted to punch them. People said to me, “You seem grumpy. Is everything okay?” I would make up some excuse about being tired or not feeling well. I knew that I couldn’t tell them that I was still heartbroken about the Colts. They wouldn’t understand. They would think I was a sore loser.

I’m not a sore loser. I’ve accepted the defeat. The Colts were beaten by the better team that day. They choked. They had their shot and they blew it. Accepting the defeat does not make the pain go away. The feeling I got when I heard the words “Super Bowl” was the same feeling you get when you have to say, “We broke up” to a friend after you just got dumped. The acceptance of it makes it worse. Seeing another AFC team in the Super Bowl was like seeing your ex-girlfriend dating another – better – guy two weeks after she dumped you. You say you’re happy for her, but you’re not. You’re angry because it should be you, not him, going to see Brokeback Mountain with her. Instead, you’re stuck in the row behind them watching them make out the whole time. That’s what it felt like watching the Super Bowl.

Then I started thinking. What if that was it? What if that was the best shot the Colts will ever get? Maybe Manning goes down with an injury. The linemen retire or get hurt. Receivers retire. We can’t replace James. This disappointing season may be as good as it gets. People tell you that there is always next year. It’s like hearing that there are more fish in the sea. But what if there isn’t? What if that was the one chance? For the rest of your life, you only go out with girls your mom sets you up with. Sure, you’ll be okay but you may never find that true love. That’s something that only happens when everything is just right, and you blew it.

That’s why I couldn’t explain to anyone why I was in a bad mood.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The State of the Union

The following is a transcript of Jeff Ford’s State of the Union Address given on February 1, 2006.

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and anyone else who happens to be in my living room at the moment: In the past year my person has undergone great change in this new and ever-evolving world. Jeff Ford has risen to meet these changes, and the state of the union is – much to my parents’ chagrin – nonexistent. (Hesitant applause.)

Just under a month ago, I began my 30th year on this planet. I remain legally single, employed and healthy. (Applause.) Over the past twelve months, many new reforms and initiatives have been implemented to improve my quality of life and allow me to use my time more efficiently. So while I may still be single, employed and healthy – as in 2004 – this year I became less single, more employed and more healthy. (Applause.)

In 2004, we saw a rise in efficiency due to the acquisition of a laptop. The use of this laptop continued throughout 2005 to outstanding results. This laptop allowed me to automate my bill paying process, thereby reducing the time and effort required to reduce the Personal Debt. I also used the laptop as a conduit to my creative outlet, my blog. Due to its mobility and wireless connectivity, I was able to quickly and effectively answer email queries and problem solve on the run. The end result of the increased use of the laptop was a productivity increase of approximately 10%. (Applause.)

The Person of Jeff relocated to a new shelter early in 2005. This relocation became a necessity based on the crime rate in 2004. In 2004 apartment break-ins were up 200%. I determined that the location of my residence and the residential security within played a major factor in that increase. I decided to relocate to a more secure location in the same general neighborhood. This led to a 200% decrease in break-ins for 2005 – back to the previous 2003 levels of zero break-ins. (Applause.)

Another major win for the Person of Jeff in 2005 was the 100% decrease in automobile emissions. (Applause.) This was due to the donation of my vehicle to the AIDS Research Foundation. I was able to find alternative transportation in the form of busses and trains to get to and from my primary place of employment. This change not only reduced my contribution to the harmful emissions emitted by automobiles, but it reduced transportation expenses. By decommissioning my vehicle and relying upon CTA and Metra, I reduced transportation costs by 65%. (Applause.)

Preventative health care greatly increased in the past year. I continued my consistent workout regimen that began in 2004 and supplemented it with program direction from the Person of Dee – who aside from being my beautiful girlfriend is also a professional fitness expert. Energy levels increased dramatically along with my level of fitness. Body fat percentage dropped from 10% to 6%. (Applause.) Strength and stamina improved along with confidence and positive body image. My medical staff gave me a clean bill of health following my yearly examination. (Applause.) In short, Jeff Ford is faster, stronger and healthier than in 2004. (Applause.)

Entertainment also saw increased enjoyment and savings. In the early third quarter of 2005, my cable was replaced with DirecTV resulting in a 24% savings in my television expenses. (Applause.) The acquisition of DirecTV also coincided with the acquisition of TiVo. The combination of these two acquisitions allowed me to watch TV more efficiently; thereby increasing my enjoyment of the entertainment I consumed and decreasing the amount of time needed to watch such programming. (Applause.)

We also saw an increase in volunteer time in 2005. This bulk of this time was devoted to Birch Family Camp – a camp for kids and families affected by HIV/AIDS. I went to New York to spend a week as an activities counselor at Birch Camp. I coordinated games and sports for the kids to play during the day. I made memories that will last me a lifetime. It was a week that refreshed my mind, body and spirit and I returned home a better man. (Extended Applause.)

However, 2005 provided its challenges. As many regions of the Person of Jeff flourished in 2005, others did not. My position as Marketing Director of pH Productions NFP was one of those regions that did not flourish. After holding the Marketing Director title for three years, I decided that it was in the best interest of Jeff and pH Productions NFP that I step down. I will still maintain my involvement with pH Productions as a founder, performer and member of the Board of Directors.

Despite my poor performance as Marketing Director, I was still able to perform well for my primary employer. I completed five large projects in 2005 on time and without defects. (Applause.) For this effort, I received a mid-year raise (Applause.) and was awarded with a promotion and further raise at year-end. (Applause.)

The biggest development in 2005 was the acquisition of a girlfriend. (Applause.) Midway through the first quarter of 2005, I met the Person of Dee. Due to careful financial planning in 2004, I was able to secure several meals and movies for the two of us as we exchanged Personal information. Soon we were able to share matters of Personal Security and aid each other in the ongoing War on Loneliness. The Person of Dee and I have continued to wage that war – and we are winning! (Applause.) This alliance has yielded incredible improvements to my emotional and psychological health. The Person of Dee is extraordinarily beautiful, delightfully witty and amazingly understanding. Adding this ally in the War on Loneliness has helped the Person of Jeff reach unprecedented levels of Happiness, Love (yes, Love) and Making Out. (Extended Applause.)

2005 held great achievements for the Person of Jeff as he completed his 30th year. Those achievements have merely set the stage for further achievements to come in 2006. I increased my health, wealth and happiness and expect those to continue to increase through 2006. The plans for 2006 are lofty in scope and many in number, but the Jeff that was built through the hard work of 2005 is poised and ready to accomplish each and every one of those goals. And so I move forward with hope, happiness and faith in the Person of Jeff.

God bless you all, and God bless Jeff Ford.

Fears and Random Thoughts

My company is a sponsor of the Chicago Rush Arena Football team. Today, representatives from the Chicago Rush are in our cafeteria passing out free schedules and pennants and posters and such. Most of the reps are dressed in the standard khaki and branded polo. However, they decided to bring along the mascot. The Chicago Rush mascot is your standard sports mascot with the big head and team jersey. His name is Grabowski.

I am afraid of Grabowski.

I have no idea why. I know it's silly that I should not be frightened of this cartoonish figure, but I am. I managed to walk by the booth, but stayed on the far side of the hall from him. Just in case. I felt like a scared little boy when I saw him.

I'm better now.


Random Thoughts
I think it's funny when Catholic girls are slutty.

It's even funnier when they are named Mary.

People have come to accept a certain amount of scratchyness in their scarves.

Simply drinking the beverage does not make you a Rockstar.

Same goes for Red Bull.

My murder will never be classified as an assassination.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Why, Exactly, Should I Care?

The SAG awards were last night. I was at my girlfriend's place. She, her roommate and her friend wanted to watch them. I couldn't give two shits. While they watched the SAG awards, I went into my girlfriend's bedroom and watched Law & Order: Criminal Intent. It was a newer episode with the retooled cast. D'Onofrio and Erbe are gone and have been replaced by Chris Noth and Annabella Sciorra. So, it pretty much sucked. D'Onofrio made that show. I watched it anyway. Why? Because I loathe awards shows.

I just don't understand why people care. These are a bunch of people that we see on TV or in movies and they're just sitting around in fancy clothes getting drunk and reading teleprompters poorly. Absolutely nothing happens. Maybe one or two people will give a mildly interesting speech, but for the most part they walk up there and rattle off a bunch of names that no one recognizes. How is this interesting? How is this fun? These people are entertainers, yet they're doing absolutely zero entertaining and millions of people still tune in.

Why do people feel attached to certain movies? Why should I be upset if Brokeback Mountain doesn't win Best Picture? Does that make it any less of a film? Certainly not. It will still be the touching, groundbreaking picture that it is being heralded as (I haven't seen it yet, but plan to). Somehow all of this matters to lots and lots of people. Otherwise, I wouldn't see just about every woman on the planet reading Us magazine.

Sure, I'm upset that D'Onofrio isn't on L&O: CI anymore, but that's where it ends. I won't be upset if he doesn't win any awards. I'm just sad that the show I really liked isn't nearly as good without him. That's it. The entertainment value has decreased because he is gone, so it bothers me. I don't want to read about who he's dating and what clubs he was at this weekend. I just don't care. I'm going to miss Bobby Gorin, not D'Onofrio. Maybe it was D'Onofrio that made me care about Gorin, but it's Gorin I'll miss. I don't miss the reality, I miss the illusion. Maybe that's why I hate those awards shows. Too much reality, not enough illusion. These people aren't interesting unless they're playing make-believe.

Let's all just live our own lives and let movies and TV be exactly what they are - a minor pleasant distraction.

Friday, January 27, 2006

San Diego

Two weeks ago, I went on my first vacation in seven years. Sure, I’d taken time off before, but I’d never taken that time to go somewhere that might be considered a vacation spot. You may not consider January in San Diego a vacation spot per se, but baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Of course, I didn’t go alone. My beautiful girlfriend went with me. In fact, I bought the plane tickets for her birthday. Three months later she gets to redeem her birthday gift. We left on Monday the 9th early in the morning. We arrived in San Diego around 1pm and headed to Enterprise to get our rental car. The fine people at Enterprise outfitted us with a Kia Optima and we were on our way – but just barely. Don’t ever buy Kia, folks. Ours felt like it was about to fall apart at any second.

We managed to get the car back to the hotel. When we arrived the kind folks at the Hilton informed us that there was a problem with our room. Like all hotels, they didn’t actually take a reservation for what we paid for; they just kinda saved us a spot. So we were forced to take the room that they gave us. As it turned out they gave us a room with this view.

We decided that we would take the room so long as they didn’t charge us extra. They didn’t. Good people those Hiltons.

We liked the room so much that we decided to immediately take a nap. After our nap we set out about trying to find a good place for dinner. Unfortunately, the concierge was not available, but the doorman was more than happy to suggest a few places. He recommended a couple of Mexican restaurants as we decided that we were in the mood for Mexican. Apparently, I had forgotten that I’m not such a big fan of Mexican food. Personally, I think all food from all Mexican restaurants tastes exactly the same. I believe we went to a place that had “Mexican” and “Café” somewhere in its title. The food tasted exactly like every Mexican restaurant I’ve ever been to. Dee thought the food was great. Her tastes are more refined than mine.

The next day we decided to catch a handy little trolley that shuttles tourists like us around the sights in San Diego. We got up bright and early and stood outside waiting for our ride. The mornings were chilly and Dee donned her jean jacket and was looking downright sassy.

Eventually, our trolley found us and we swung around to a few other hotels to pick up other tourists who wanted to see the sights of San Diego from a green and orange trolley. Mostly, these were old people. Also there was one guy from Rhode Island who may have been a girl. I thought he was a guy, Dee thought she was a girl. Unfortunately, we didn’t get photos of the she man or the old people. However, they were all very nice. I think. I didn’t really talk to any of them.


Soon enough, the trolley was rolling towards downtown San Diego as we looked on in amazement. Of course the trolley driver was equipped with a microphone and sound system so we were treated to a host of outdated jokes and lame puns. We were even given safety tips by Richard Little doing his bad impressions of stars that everyone has forgotten.

We got off at the trolley’s first stop to check out the U.S.S. Midway – an aircraft carrier that is now permanently docked in San Diego. It’s done somewhere in the ballpark of 7 million missions but now they let schmucks like me on to poke around and take pictures. In fact, they even let Dee drive for a little bit.

Fortunately, she didn’t crash it.

We managed to kill about two hours on the aircraft carrier. You’ll be happy to know that they managed to find a place there to put a gift shop and an overpriced café. We did not get suckered in by the gift shop, though we did purchase two high-priced bottles of water. Good salesmen on that ship. They could sell water to people on a boat.

Luckily, the carrier wasn’t too far from a little area called Seaport Village. I would rename this area Tourist Trap Village. It’s your typical cheap tourist shop area with a few restaurants sprinkled in. They even have a store for lefthanders called Southpaw. Neither of us are left-handed so we didn’t go in. We still found a good place for lunch that looked out over the bay.

After lunch we caught a trolley out of Seaport Village and it took us across the bay to Coronado Island. I was told that the bridge across the bay offered a spectacular view of San Diego, unfortunately I’m afraid of heights and the bridge kinda freaked me out. I wasn’t able to look back towards San Diego, much less take a picture. If you want to see the view, watch Anchorman.

Once on Coronado Island they drove us down the main strip to the Hotel Del Coronado. You may have heard of it. Or not. It’s a famous and, of course, expensive hotel. We did not stay there. The rumor is that it is haunted. We didn’t actually go into the hotel but we managed to spend some time on the beach outside the hotel.

This is a shot of the hotel from the beach.

The trolley guides made a point of mentioning that the hotel was one of the most haunted spots in the world. We wanted to see proof. Of course we had our cameras close at hand in case any spirits showed themselves. With supernatural sightings you can never be sure but we think we captured a few shots of what can best be described as “unexplainable phenomenon.”

There are certainly some strange creatures roaming around on Coronado Island. There are even a couple of normal creatures.

After our harrowing experience on the beach, we roamed back into town . We had some time to kill before the final trolley picked us up and took us back to our hotel. We found a nice little gelato shop that served, well, gelato. I ordered the Vanilla Bean. Because I’m a risk-taker. Dee had something boring like Tiramisu or Peanut Butter Cup Swirl with Chocolate Chips and Cookie Dough. I tried it but thought it too bland.

The trolley picked us up as we finished our cones and it made the last stops on the rest of the tour to pick up the last of the stragglers. We swung by the museum campus and the famous San Diego Zoo. We kept all of these spots in mind for the rest of our week.

We got dropped off at our hotel and decided that the day was over for us. We settled in, changed our clothes and decided that room service was right up our alley. Boy, room service sure is convenient when you are worn out.

On Wednesday we decided that we’d let our all day tour sink in a little bit and just relax by the pool. We got up early and went for a run on Mission Beach and made our way up to Pacific Beach. After we wore ourselves out, we stopped and watched some surfers try to catch a few waves. Then we found a nice breakfast café that served us a couple of huge stacks of pancakes.

We walked back to the hotel, showered and headed down to the pool. The day was sunny and a little cool when the breeze was blowing. Dee napped and read her magazines about famous people that I don’t recognize. I read The Chronicles of Narnia. I hear the movie is good.

Once our sun was gone we headed inside to clean up for dinner and drinks. We had noticed a nice seafood place when we were in Seaport Village, so we decided to make that our dinner destination. Because we were still living on Chicago time, we got to the restaurant very early and were one of three couples in the entire restaurant. Regardless, we had some delicious seafood while watching the ships come into the bay. Dee had her first taste of swordfish and I had a seared ahi tuna steak that was delicious.

For our post-dinner drinks we headed to the downtown Hyatt for a few drinks. This Hyatt has a bar much like the 95th floor of the Hancock building. Only this bar is on the 40th floor. This pretty much put us at the top of the city with views all around. We enjoyed the view and Dee tasted my scotch. She didn’t enjoy that so much.

We had a couple of drinks before it got to be about 9:30pm and we started to run out of steam. Maybe it was that I just turned 30 a few days before, or maybe it was that my body thought it was 11:30pm. Regardless, we hung around for another half hour and then made our way back to the hotel for some well deserved sleep.

Everyone knows about the San Diego Zoo, but we were told that we should go see the Wild Animal Park just outside of San Diego. That was at the top of our list for Thursday. We hopped in our super-sweet Kia and made our way north to Escondido. We arrived at the Wild Animal Park around the time they opened the gates. We grabbed a map and immediately looked for the area to feed the giraffes. We had been told that the ONE thing we needed to do while in San Diego was feed the giraffes. We found the giraffe feeding area and realized that it was quite a long walk away. The train tour of the wild animal area was much closer to where we were, so we decided to do that first.

The train ride was very impressive. We skirted around a very large area where the non-predatory animals were. There were elephants, rhinos, giraffes, gazelles, impalas and some other small deer-like creatures that could hop 10 feet straight up from a dead standstill. I think they are relatives of Spud Webb.

Here are a few shots of the area.



In case you were wondering, that’s a baby rhino nursing in the middle. It’s not as dirty as it looks you sicko. The last one is the super-jumping baby deer.

While the wide open land afforded to these animals was impressive, we were captivated by the gorillas. Yes, we were captivated by the captive gorillas. At first they just kinda lounged about, but soon enough a troublemaker started picking on the other gorillas and there was lots of running about and wrestling. I now consider them my friends.

The big silverback that was the alpha male of the group spent most of the time hiding in the shade behind a rock. Suddenly, a group of loud and rowdy school children showed up and were laughing and pointing and generally making noise about the smaller gorillas. Upon hearing the noise, the silverback came out from behind his rock and chose a spot where he could be seen. At this, the children suddenly became quiet. He was an impressive sight. He’s also a good friend of mine.

After watching the gorillas for nearly 40 minutes, we wandered through the rest of the park. It was pretty amazing how free the animals were to move around. The birds were not caged in and could move anywhere in the park they wanted. I’m sure they could have even left the park, but food wasn’t quite as easy to come by out there. By about 1pm we decided that we had our fill of the animals and headed back to San Diego.

We were quite hungry so we decided to head to the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. If the Gaslamp Quarter was in Chicago it would be Old Town or Lincoln Park. We found a bar that served some decent food and stuffed ourselves full. Then we walked around and checked out some of the shops in the area and generally enjoyed the downtown area. Then once again back to our hotel for some sleep.

All week we heard that we needed to make our way up to La Jolla (pronounced La Hoy-a). So we did. We went up around lunch time and found a nice place to eat lunch and overlook the ocean. That was the running theme for the week when we looked for a place to dine. You see, we don’t have an ocean here in Chicago, so when we’re near the ocean we like to see it.

After lunch we went down to the beach in La Jolla. We walked a little ways south and found a beach where seals like to come and rest their weary flippers. They weren’t really much to look at because the pretty much just napped the whole time. We were told that would be the case, but we don’t have seals in Chicago, so when we have the chance we like to go see them. We came at the right time, though, because we got to see this little guy make his way out of the ocean. He waddled his way onto the beach, found a nice dry spot on the beach and proceeded to do absolutely nothing. It was thrilling. The crowd cheered.

We walked back north a bit and found a little outcropping of rocks near a cave on the beach. We went down and climbed on the rocks for a while. We got to watch a surfer up close as he caught a few waves and did some exploring in the cave.

Dee was pretty excited about the cave.

By this time the day was starting to slip away and we had yet to see a sunset over the ocean. Dee suggested that we walk back towards the seal beach to see the sunset. I was in no position to disagree. We found a nice bench with a clear view and settled in to see our last sunset in San Diego.

I’ll tell you what, that sun was in no big hurry to set. We sat there for much longer than I had expected as the sun slowly crept down towards the ocean. Man, you’d think we were watching video over a dial-up connection. Eventually, the sun finally set and Dee managed to snap a picture as it happened. I mean, she had plenty of time. It wasn’t like it was going anywhere.

As you can see, it was a decent sunset. Certainly not as spectacular as I had hoped. I expected to be blown away by a sunset that we had waited so long for. I was not. I still had my breath, but Dee thought it was romantic. We made out. Hey, who am I to turn down a good make out session?

After the disappointing sun set we walked back to our car and made our way back towards our hotel. Again, we ordered room service and relaxed by watching Starsky and Hutch. That was as disappointing as the sunset. The picture below pretty much sums up how I felt about both the sunset and Starsky and Hutch.

All in all it was a good trip and would definitely recommend San Diego as a place to vacation if you’re looking. I’ve got all sorts of good tips on where to go.