Monday, December 29, 2008

Santa Came

Hope everyone had a great Christmas (or the holiday of your choosing). Rachel and I did. Christmas Eve we ventured to the mall (someone procrastinated on their shopping...cough...Rachel...cough...). While at the mall we stopped at EB Games and found the Rock Band 2 Special Bundle for the Wii.

We put off playing it until Saturday and then proceeded to play it for 4 hours and then 5-6 hours on Sunday. You could say we are addicted.

Aside from that, we had a great Christmas weekend. Eve night we ate with my family and exchanged presents. Christmas, we went back to my parents for ham (many thanks to the McDonald's for once again delivering the goods). We also had our White Elephant gift exchange where our gifts were the hit. The first was a three strands of Our Lady of Guadalupe lights. That's right, we found light strings with the Virgin Mary at Meijer's one day. My Dad's grad assistant simply loved them. The other gift was the best of all. It was a flying pig statue we found at Hobby Lobby. Why was it so great? Because my Dad got it. A little back story here. I'm sure many of you had a Dad who would give you sarcastic remarks to certain questions. Here are a sampling of my Dad's replies

Me: What are you doing?
Dad: Playing basketball

Me: Where's Mom?
Dad: In my pocket

Me: What's for dinner?
Dad: Food

Me: I'm bored, what should I do?
Dad: Go play in traffic

And now for the coupe de grace
Me: When can I do XXX?
Me: Can we get XXX?

Dad: When pigs fly

So, you can imagine my glee when my Dad selected that gift. Needless to say he loved it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And we are friends with them because......?

Came in this morning to this article

So this begs the question: Why are we friends with the Saudis?
I know the underlying reason is because they have the oil. But come on, an 8 year old? It's just inconceivable that our government would keep up friendly relations when the Saudi government treats half their population like chattel.

I'm sure other countries say the same things about us when it comes to Iraq and our love of the death penalty.

I hope this enrages you as much as me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

One down...five to go

Good news, I passed my first CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter for you non-State Farmers) test. Only five more to go now. Thankfully that number is not seven since my FLMI (Fellow, Life Management Institute, yes, it is as exciting as it sounds) satisfies two of the tests.

And of course, my test was the morning after an ice storm deposited 1/2 an inch on the city. Thankfully we suffered no damage and never lost power. Funny things was when I was de-icing my car it felt like I was out in the rain. The temp had risen above freezing and the huge hackberry tree above our patio was melting.

The drive to OAB (Oakland Avenue Building, really, I must create an acronym glossary) was very pretty with all of the trees and bushes covered in ice. It did suck for those who lost trees or treelimbs but I didn't see any that had fallen on houses.

addict at the The test was a little nerve-racking because the writers of said test were cruel, inhumane, and generally poor test writers. At least I passed. The nerves from the test had nothing on the incredibly annoying guy next to me. The man fidgeted (yes, I am aware that me commenting on restlessness is like W complaining about someone's grammar and syntax) like he drank 14 cups of coffee, which was funny because he was constantly yawning. So, all I could hear while I was contemplating the complexities of parts A, B, C, and D of liability insurance was this bozo moving every two seconds while yawning and clearing his throat. It was like standing next to a methDMV. Ok, maybe not that bad but you know how everything annoys you when yo are trying to concentrate. Were I taking a test on The Goonies or The Simpsons, he could have been Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins and I wouldn't have noticed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The pending snow in Seattle reminds me of a time when I got a taste of Karma.

My first winter in Seattle (2000) we got 6 inches of snow in one day. Basically unheard of for the Emerald City. If memory serves me correct we had two or three fronts converge on Seattle. That, combined with two mountain ranges created a recycling conveyor belt of snow. Anyway, the city basically shut down.

Where's the Karma, you ask? I'm getting to it. Because of the snow, I and my roommates Adam and Adrian were off of work. Not sure where Rob was. So, to celebrate the snow the three of us pile into Adam's Subaru to go around town driving through slush puddles.

We drove around for about 20-30 minutes hitting a couple here and there without much satisfaction. We did hit one that shot slush onto an SUV but that wasn't that great. So, we decide to go back home. On the way home we had to drive through the UW area. It was at that time where we earned some Karma, and not the good kind. As we were coming up to a corner with a bunch of students Adrian spotted a puddle and started yelling "Hit It, Hit It, Hit It!". Of course, I chimed in and Adam complied. What happened was horrible and hilarious at the same time. We hit that puddle like a speed boat and sent a wall of semi-frozen water towards the college kids like a tsunami. As I was in the back seat I had a perfect view of the action. The students all reacted like they were in Pearl Jam's Jeremy video. Right after we looked at each other and said, "Oh Shit!" and then sped home.

So, the story doesn't end here. Fast forward to the next year. I'm living in Puyallup commuting to the hospital everyday. Since I'm a cheapass I don't buy a parking sticker and have to park a ways away from the hospital. On my walk from my car to the work I have to go over the Montlake bridge which is usually pretty in the morning. Well, not on this morning. As is usually the case in Seattle, it was raining. However, this was not the usual Pacific Northwest rain. No, this was Midwest in the fall rain. Big fat drops that were just above freezing. So, here I am walking over the bridge in my raincoat and backpack, just trying to get into work as fast as I can. I can't run because that will just get me wetter.

If you know anything about the Montlake bridge you know that it is a drawbridge. Because of this, the road bed is made up of grates to reduce weight. This also has the effect of draining all of the rain into the water below. So, as long as I'm on the bridge I am ok. Well, I'm not really thinking about this at the time, just about how much the rain sucks. As a result, I am not prepared for what happens next. Just as I cross the bridge a car comes speeding up and hits the very first puddle near me. This is not any ordinary puddle, this is the size of a small pond. Next comes to money shot as a wall of near-frozen water hits me full force. I was drenched from the waist down. Luckily, the hospital has scrubs and I was wearing sandals (ah, I miss my dress code there) but one of my coworkers about fell on the floor laughing when I walked inside the hospital.

So, the moral is, What Goes Around, Comes Around. Still funny though.

Hello Winter

OK, what is going on? Vegas got snow, L.A. hit the 30’s for temperature, and Seattle is slated for 2-4 inches of snow. To top it off we are supposed to have an ice storm starting at 3 pm, which will deposit ¾ of an inch. Can’t wait. Normally I would welcome the ice but I have my CLU test tomorrow at 1 pm. I really do not want to retain this knowledge through the weekend. I would rather use that brain space for Mario Kart or The History Channel.

I don’t remember December being this bad in the past. I hope it isn’t a harbinger of the pending winter.

Everyone keep safe.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Has it been a year?

I can't believe it but it has been a year since Rachel and I started dating. Surprising how fast the time has gone by. In a year's time, this has transpired:

Sold the house on Lynx
Moved in with my parents for 2 weeks
Bought an 85 year old house
Moved in
Moved Rachel out of her place and into the house
We installed a 480 square foot brick paver patio
Let me say that again, we installed a 22 foot by 22 foot brick paver patio
Hauled 14.6 tons of rock and sand for said patio
Marveled that she is still with me
Put in a hot tub
Took a trip to the Dominican Republic
Was allowed back into the U.S.A.
Threw 4 parties
Visited Chicago 5 times

So, we've done quite a bit this past year. To celebrate our anniversary we went out to eat at Lancaster's (a fine dining establishment in the heart of metropolitan Bloomington) on Friday(actual anniversary is December 7th, yes, Pearl Harbor Day). Dinner was excellent, followed by a visit to the scene of the crime (our 1st date), Fat Jack's. It was a very good anniversary and I couldn't be happier.

Nice to remember what good hockey is like

Let me start off by saying this. I like the Bloomington Prairie Thunder hockey team. I think it's a great asset for B-N. Even though the level of play is just above high school. The players do the best with what they have. I like the coliseum and the fact that I can get 312 for roughly the same price as Bud Light. Ok, the beer prices could be lower but I understand I'm at a sporting event.

With that said, there is a noticeable difference between the Thunder and the Peoria Rivermen. For those of you unaware of the Rivermen, it is the direct feeder team to the St. Louis Blues. Essentially, it is AAA hockey, and boy does it show. Crisp passing, fast skating, just superior play all around.

Thursday night my brother called to say he had free tickets to the Thunder so we gladly went. This is probably our 4th or 5th game this season and I'm pretty sure the Thunder has lost all of the ones we attended. Nonetheless, it was free and we had a good time. The Thunder really stunk up the place in the 1st and 2nd periods. Only in the 3rd did we start to show some fight. Speaking of, what does it take to get a decent enforcer on the team? Several times we were on the receiving end of some beat downs. I'm not saying we need to start a goon squad but we could use one of the Hanson brothers.

Fast forward to Saturday. To celebrate Rachel's friend Amy's birthday we were going to the casino boat in Peoria. Then, Rachel's other friend (yes, she has two) Stacey's boyfriend Brian (you following this) came up with 6 free tickets to the Rivermen. So, we went to the Rivermen game, three rows behind the corner glass. NICE! The game was great, lots of back and forth action, lots of physical play. And the game seemed in the bag with the Rivermen up a goal when, like a movie, the other team scored a goal with 1.8 seconds to play. Yes, you read that correctly, 1.8 seconds. Then we had a 5 minute overtime with several close plays. Still tied we went to a shootout, which, I'm happy to report, the Rivermen won.

After that, we went to the boat where I won $20 at the blackjack table and then proceeded to people watch.

One more thing. When we sat down at the game in Peoria there was some drunk redneck with his unbranching family tree behind us. He seemed to be quite concerned with who was homosexual. He also talked in that voice where you don't move your lips much and it sounds like a vaguely familiar foreign language. Kind of like Robert Duvall in any of his Westerns, only drunk on ether. Needless to say, I took great pleasure in making fun of the guy. Don't worry, I used big words. It was also my birthday present to Amy since she takes great joy in my alcohol-fueled heckling.

Senate Seat for Sale

Ok, I will post an update on my weekend but before I do that I must comment on Illinois Governer Rod Blagojevich. If you haven't heard, our governor with the plastic hair was arrested this morning on federal charges of trying to sell Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat. Here are some links.

Article about the arrest
4th time's a charm

I haven't read through the indictment but it appears that Blago took political corruption to a new level. He didn't tiptoe around the issue by making obtuse statements or having underlings do his bidding. No, Blago basically walked up and down Michigan Avenue ringing a bell while yelling "U.S. Senate seat for sale", like he was selling Oliver Twist.

What a moron. You would think after George Ryan went up the river Blago would have, if not stayed away from corruption, at least made sure to be sneaky about it. I sincerly hope he is prosecuted and, if found guilty, is sent to prison. Maybe shave his head since he seems to love his hair more than the rule of law.

So now, I have come up with some new slogans for Illinois:

Illinois, We have both kinds of corruption, Republican AND Democrat!
Illinois, You'll come to see the state that gave you Lincoln, Reagan, and Obama. You'll stay for the unbelievable levels of corruption.
Illinois, making Louisiana politicians look like choir boys since the 1800's.
Illinois, Lincoln saved the Union for this?
Illinois, if we can't get money through our high taxes, we'll get it through bribes.
Illinois, diverting attention away from the Daley family for 60 years.
Illinois, have you bribed a politician today?

Feel free to add your own.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mmmmm...seared meat...

Saturday we drove up to Chicago to see our friend Gina as she was home alone (complete with bumbling burglars and booby traps). Traffic was great. We were even momentarily stunned when we got to I-80 north of Joliet (the Tacoma of Illinois for you Pac NWers) and there was no construction. I guess construction projects do get finished in Illinois. Of course, since I'm sure the mob was involved and used sub standard materials, they'll be fixing it within five years. Anyway

We got to Gina's around 3, toured her awesome apartment, got to see Cassie the dog again, and unwound from the drive. We then went to eat at Fogo de Chao where we gorged ourselves on all kinds of meat (that's what she said, YES!). If you have never been to a Brazilian Steak House I highly recommend it. Even our cab driver was an enthusiast, when he found out we were going there he speed up. So, after a really good Brazilian beer (Xingu) and bottle of wine (some German Gewurztraminer), we rolled out of the restaurant and picked up some more drinks from Binny's (excellent liquor store chain).

Then we got the world's most timid cab driver. Seriously, he was causing all kinds of problems because the other cars were dumbfounded that he wasn't rolling through stop signs, gunning his engine, blaring his horn, obeying traffic laws, etc... It is amazing how unsettling it is when you are in a cab and the guy drives like a grandma. Regardless, the guy didn't know how to get to Wrigleyville, much less, Michigan Avenue! And to top it off, he drove us in a circle. After about 5 minutes Gina yelled at the guy and we got out of the cab to find a different one.

Later on we watched Hancock. I thought the movie was good and it had some excellent special effects. I liked the idea of a reluctant and petulant super hero. Especially one that kinds of half-asses it. I can totally see them doing a sequel as it had to have made money on the World market.

Sunday's weather was lousy so instead of shopping at the Oak Brook mall Rachel and I just ate at the Cheesecake Factory and drove home in the snow and sleet. Sunday afternoon my perpetual sinus infection decided to morph into a full blown infection and knocked me down Monday and Tuesday. Thanks go out to my friend who purchased antibiotics in Mexico for me, right on time.

Oh, and we came home to 5 inches of snow. Yes, we live in the Midwest and yes, it was supposed to snow Sunday night. However, the forecast was for 1-2 inches and we got it a day early. Mmmmm....Central Illinois.

Black Friday

Ok, now I have Steely Dan's song "Black Friday" in my head. I blame my dad.

For Black Friday this year Rachel and I didn't wake up until 9. We went to Zorba's for a delicious, and greasy, breakfast. From there we went to Michael's, Office Depot, Macy's, Kohl's, and Target.

The crowds weren't too bad but I was definitely sick of people by the time we were finished. I would have to say that Target did the best job. They blocked off the registers and made a common feeder line (like the bank) so that you didn't get stuck behind a lady that had 1,400 items with no price tags, 15 coupons, and was using a two party out of state check. The worst was Kohl's. They had the feeder lines...wrapped around the store! Seriously, they can't move as fast as Target? We took one look at that line and did an about face.

Turkey Day

Greetings, sorry this is a little late but I had a massive sinus infection the past couple of days.

This year, in our quest to not do dishes, we ate at CJ's. I had the prime rib and didn't much pay attention to what everyone else got ;) Food was good and the new CJ's is pretty nice. I especially like their bar (go figure). My only complaint was we were a party of ten sitting at a table meant for eight. It was a liiiiiittle bit cramped.

After CJ's we went to my parents' house to eat some more. We also sat around and talked. It was nice.

Then we went to Rachel's sister Laura's house. there we visited some more and played some games. Good times were had by all.