Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Three Cheers for Three Sheets

I'm back to promote a great show that got a second life. The show is called Three Sheets and it used to be on the now defunct network MOJO. Three Sheets boils down to this, Zane Lamprey, a very funny guy with an iron liver, travels around the World visiting countries for the express purpose of introducing his audience to the local drinking customs. He give you some neat information about the place he's visiting and then proceeds to drink their local spirits with a local guide all the while making quippy jokes and educating people.

The show has a devoted following (like Rachel and me) which has resulted in Zane continuing inside jokes (which are explained to the uninitiated) and the resulting drinking game. I guarantee you will enjoy this show if you like alcohol and/or travel. In fact, you will find yourself wanting to visit these places and marvel at how Zane has the best job in the world.

At the end of each show, Zane shows you the aftereffects of his imbibing. He usually looks like hell and that's the beauty. He doesn't show himself looking great, he's honest with how shitty he feels. Following that, he then tries the local hangover cure, usually to some comedic effect.

I think my favorite part of the show is how he nice and appreciative he is to his hosts. He can be outlandish and a jokester but you can tell he makes fast friends and the people are glad he came.

So, please check out Three Sheets on Fine Living Network starting Monday, July 20th. Here's his site, enjoy.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I think I've told a couple people here and there about Adam Carolla's podcast but I wanted to let everyone know. Most of you will remember Adam from The Man Show, Loveline, and as one of the voices on Crank Yankers. He's hilarious and is a master of the rant. Adam could riff for 10 minutes on anything.

Check out his podcast on iTunes and , it's well worth it.

Also, check out his movie The Hammer. Very funny and touching story of a 40 year old carpenter attempting a boxing comeback for the 08' Olympics. I think Rachel was reluctant to watch it but was soon laughing throughout. It's currently in rotation on the HBO family of networks.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Check out this article where the Iranian Ambassador to Mexico accuses the CIA of shooting Neda, the Iranian woman seen around the World after being shot by Iranian snipers.

If you want proof that religion and government should have a permanent divorce, Iran is a shining, or dull, example. A country ruled by holy men with the sole purpose of controlling millions and subjugating half its population.

This election fiasco, and the subsequent clamping down on protests and, most importantly, press reporting, shows how truly out of touch and despicable the Iranian government is. If you want to test whether a government is inherently evil, ask them these questions (followed by the answers for Iran):

Do you let your people come and go as they please? NO
Do you let the press report freely? NO
Do you let your people worship in whatever way they choose? NO
Do you let your people choose not to worship? NO
Are women given the same rights as men? NO

I hope these protest galvanize into real change in Iran. I also hope that the people of the Middle East wake up to the fact that many of their religious leaders are manipulating them and stealing their futures.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Take That Spain!

I'm sure many of you did not watch the USA versus Spain soccer match in the Confederations Cup. Well, you missed a great game and a fantastic upset over the #1 ranked team in the world. I loved everything about the game (except for the Michael Bradley BS red card) from the hustle and the spot on counter-attacks, to the inspired defense from Oguchi Onyewu, my favorite player.

Regardless of how they do in the finals against Brazil or South Africa, the squad should feel very proud of how they came back from elimination to beat one of the best teams in the world. I can only hope this style of play is built upon for the World Cup next year.

The United States of America, give us enough time and we will beat you at your own game.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Yet another member of the moral majority bites the dust. I will try to contain my glee.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Everybody Can Suck It!

Kathy Griffin's "My Life on the D-list" premiers tonight on Bravo at 9pm. If you've never caught her show it is hilarious. I think what I like most about her and the show is that she doesn't hide her pathological desire to be noticed. While other celebrities act nonchalantly towards fame and exposure, Kathy pursues it with great vigor and is completely unashamed about it.

Also, she is one incredibly funny person.

Lastly, Wipeout has two new hours this Wednesday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How's That for Equality?

Well, a female finally won Wipeout last night. In fact, it was an all female final four, for the first time ever.

I definitely have to hand it to the designers of the obstacles, the Bridge Too Far obstacle is top notch in terms of Schadenfreude. I could watch people get hit in the face by these platforms all day every day and it would never get old. I think it's my second favorite obstacle after the Big Balls (which will probably never be topped).

Here are some decent sites I found.

You should definitely check it out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tonight's The Night

Wipeout's new season premiers tonight on ABC. Trust me, if you haven't seen this program before, you will love it. Wannabe actors running through obstacle courses and eating shit never ever gets old.

Rest assured I will be giggling like a little kid tonight while watching people wipeout on the Big Balls.

Also, So You Think You Can Dance is on tonight and tomorrow. I never thought I would watch something like this but thankfully Rachel showed me the way. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better program than American Idol. It's unreal what some of these dancers can do. I think my groin pulled itself (that sounded questionable) at least three times last week watching the premier.

Check them out.

I Highly Reccommend Picking One Up

Look, Cameron's house is for sale.

Credit goes to Headline News for finding this story.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Do Yourself a Favor

And check out Wipeout on ABC next Wednesday, May 27. It's one of the funniest shows on TV. If you like MXC and/or America's Funniest Home Videos you will LOVE Wipeout. I can't get enough of this show. It's like watching an episode of Jackass without all the homoeroticism, not that there's anything wrong with that...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mmmmm...Sharia Law...

Sounds like someone should slap him. I say we pass a ruling that allows us to slap Saudi judges who define 50% of the population as property of the other 50%.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nest Step, White Castle

I am elated that Little Ceasars has returned to Bloomington-Normal. It's been far too long. Next restaurant we need is White Castle. I can't imagine they wouldn't thrive here, especialy with all the college students from Chicago.

Funny story, Rachel and I were driving on Veteran's Parkway on our way to Menards the other day when I saw the billboard for Little Ceasars. I started yelling and Rachel thought we about to get hit only to laugh once she found out what I was screaming about. Thankfully it wasn't a billboard for White Castle or we would have ended up in a ditch.

I'm Shocked

Police corruption in Texas? I'm shocked. This has shaken my perception of Texas to the core.

By the way, wasn't this the plot for two or three cheap movies in the 70's? I seem to remember a movie, or was it a TV show, where some corrupt sheriff with mirrored sunglasses unjustly jailing truckers to steal their payloads.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Get Off My Lawn!

How many of you have had the "Oh my, I really am an adult now" moment? You know, one of those instances where you turn into one of your parents? This isn't to say that I haven't realized I'm an adult until now.

This past weekend I had a very definitive "adult" experience. Rachel and I were sitting in the living room easing into our day when I heard a ruckus (a sure sign of adulthood when you use words such as ruckus) across the street. As many of you know, our house is behind an eye clinic. At this clinic there is a fenced off rear entrance (so we can't see what is really going on in there...). From behind this fence I can hear several kids messing around hitting things. So, I go outside to see what these future fry cooks are doing. Once I step on the porch 3 boys (of course) around the age of 7 emerge from the fence. I was just going to stand there and watch them leave but they forced my hand. Right then they all picked up handfuls of river rock and started throwing them, including at each other.

At this moment my Dad entered my head and I yelled, "You kids knock it off. Put down those rocks right now!" They all turned with a look on their faces I imagine I displayed at that age MANY times. Much to my delight, one of them took off like the cops were coming (perhaps preparing for the future?), one walked away defiantly (I'm sure I'll see him many many times in the coming years), and the last shuffled off stealing sheepish glances while slowly letting go of the rocks.

I come back in the house to see Rachel giggling, to which I responded, "When did I become to grumpy man on the street?".

This was after we were awoken at 7am by our lovely neighbor's dog who they left outside in the rain. It was also after I screamed out the window, "Put your dog inside" and "It's raining, let your dog in!"

I look forward to keeping Frisbees and sports balls that enter my yard.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Diver Down

This past Friday we decided to go to a new bar called Drifter's after I passed my CLU test (YES!). We had a great time and enjoyed their draught beer selection. The bar is very nice and open with lots of light. Now, some of you may be wondering where this bar is. Well, for those of you with shorter term memories of the downtown area it is in the old Paulie's. For those of you with longer memories, it is in the old Lizard's Lounge. Many of you who have known me for some time will remember that I basically had my mail forwarded to the Lizard's Lounge in the late 90's.

Lizard's was one of those great dive bars without being scary or too sketchy. It wasn't the place for the cool preppy college kids. It was where people just looking to have a good time and listen to bands went (especially after the Gallery closed/succumbed to termites). The place was dark and loud. The floors were cleaned once every decade. The bathrooms were slightly above the quality of a Mexican road house. You get the picture.

Anyway, I have a ton of good memories (admittedly, some, ok, a good portion, of them a taaaad fuzzy) from that place. I used to frequent the place with my good friends Traci, Jeannie, and Lynda, serving as their bodyguard (it's a wonder I wasn't picking up chicks when I came in with 3 already...). We had many adventures and spent a good portion of our meager paychecks there.

Now I'll get to the point. Where are the dive bars now? I know there are the ones on the West side, but those are all populated by old and/or verrrrry sketchy people. No, I want to know where young adults can go to throw back some drinks and listen to original live music without having to dress up like they're going to a club. I don't know, maybe times have changed and the new generation just wants pre-packaged 4,000 decibel martini bars. Speaking of the new generation; what is with not going out until 10 or 11? When I was a regular patron of the adult beverage dispensers you had to get there by 7 or you didn't get a table. Is it a cost saving measure? Are people getting drunk before they head out? Is it because the guys are contemplating which Abercrombie and Fitch distressed vintage t-shirt they are going to wear with their pre-stained, pre-frayed, pre-torn baseball cap?

At the risk of sounding like an old codger talking about how things were so much better in the old days, I must say that I prefer the way we partied. However, I will say that I do appreciate cleanliness now that I'm well entrenched in my 30's. And, as we informed the nice 21 year old waitress who hadn't heard of many of the beers on tap, it is nice to have a selection of beer other than AB and Miller (not that there's anything wrong with Miller, especially Miller High Life).

Well, I'm off to hug a tree.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


To borrow from Wallace Shawn in Princess Bride, there are three classic blunders. First, never get involved in a land war in Asia, second is: never go against a Scillian when death is on the line, third: never kidnap a U.S. Captain of a freighter and then pop your head up from the lifeboat when there are Navy SEALS abord a U.S. Navy destroyer.

Now, I'm not a supporter of violence but this is one incident I can get behind. As for the snipers, I take a page from my Dad's friend Mac, please keep them employed by the U.S. military until they are 80. I would like to keep theirs abilities on our side and not with a private contractor.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blinds, Blinds, Everywhere There's Blinds

Many of you may remember that the house has Roman shades. If you are not familiar with Roman shades, they are basically one piece of fabric. The big downside is you can't let just a little light in while still maintaining some semblance of privacy.

To address this, we went to Lowe's (after discovering they were cheaper than Menard's, plus we had a 10% off coupon) and purchased some plantation style faux wood blinds. We bought blinds for the living room (4), master bedroom (2), full bath (2), and the stairs (1). Thankfully, we had previously purchased blinds at Menard's on clearance that we thought would fit perfectly inside the bathroom windows. Why am I thankful? I'm thankful because I didn't get them cut (nor did I buy all the blinds and have them cut) prior to attempting to install them. Once I took one set out of the box I quickly learned that our windows are not deep enough for inside mount. So, I guess we have shallow windows (we're working on expanding their emotional depth).

Now, as we were purchasing the blinds I was happy with a feeling of dread. Happy because we were getting rid of most of the Roman shades. As for the feeling of dread, I couldn't quite place it but I remembered that installing blinds were a pain in the ass. Wasn't sure why, just knew I was not going to have any fun.

Sunday I quickly remembered why I hated putting up blinds. Two reasons: 1) You have to hold the blinds up (plantation style faux wood blinds are HEAVY to hold above your head) while your partner traces the outlines of the brackets; 2) The screws the company gives you are made out of something akin to lead mixed with pewter mixed with clay. Let's just say that after the 10th screw stripped I was making up curse words. It was at this point I remembered that the last time I installed blinds I promised myself that I would get different screws. Away to Farm & Fleet I went and purchased screws made out of actual steel (what a novel concept), though, the package I bought didn't have enough screws (found this out at home) to install all of the blinds (I have one window left).

As for the tracing problem, i found that due to the size of our windows, if I used the valance as a template, it solved the problem. After I figured all of this out, it was smooth sailing. I must say the windows look muuuuuuch better and it's not as gloomy inside the house when you can crack open the blinds without the crazy lady next door looking in your window.

If you need to install blinds at your house, I would be happy to tell you what to do while I'm watching you with a beer in hand.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Saddle up the high horse

I was watching the series finale of ER, which was terrific by the way, and in the episode there was a patient who had been living with AIDS for 20 years. A thought struck me. What if we took the money we spend on the Iraq war for a week and instead spent it on AIDS research, or tuberculosis, or cancer. Say we spent that money for a good cause. Say we also found a cure for one of those diseases and then gave the cure free of charge to the rest of the world. Imagine the pride we as Americans could have knowing that our tax dollars contributed to the welfare of the world.

Anyway, that was just something I thought of. I'm sure it isn't a unique thought, or should I say, I hope it isn't.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where Have I Been?

Folks, it's been a while since I posted. My apologies. Here's a run down of what I've been up to these past couple of weeks.

Bachelor Party and Wedding - Went down to St. Louis for my buddy Jason's bachelor party. Had a great time and will leave out the details to avoid incriminating people... The wedding was great and we had an awesome time. The Par-A-Dice hotel was very nice and we liked our room.

Second City - To celebrate Rachel's birthday, we went to see the Second City touring show at the Center for Performing Arts. The show was hilarious and we really enjoyed it. Next time they come around, we'll definitely be there. Dinner was at Reality Bites. The seared Ahi tuna was delicious, calamari tasty as usual, and the pork tacos did not disappoint.

Everything and the Kitchen Sink - In our quest to remove all traces of brass color from the house we are replacing fixtures and various hardware. Included in the items we purchased from Menard's (curse bless you and your no payments no interest until 2010) was a new stainless steel kitchen sink and faucet. Naturally, replacing a sink involves removing the old one, which brings with it a whole host of "learning opportunities". My learning opportunities in this adventure were:

  • Silicone sealant really really really seals
  • Putty knives jammed under an old sink with the help of a hammer, twisting, cursing, sweating, and generally getting mad, helps unseal
  • One can never have too many PVC pieces
  • Different sinks have the drains at different levels and locations
  • Different drains require a lot of problem solving and adventure
  • PVC cement should not be used in enclosed spaces, nor open spaces, or space for that matter; I think I'm still high
  • Sewer gas is somewhat unpleasant
  • Specialty wrenches rule
  • Tile floors are not very comfortable to sit on
  • One can never have too many buckets and bowls
  • I don't advise looking in the drain pipe of your sink, you might not like what you see
  • Reusing is great in theory

The sink took about 4 hours total. It was worth it though to have a sink we like and a faucet that doesn't look like it came out of an 80's whore house.

Sickness - Last week Rachel and I both came down with whatever flu/cold/plague has been going around. I left work on Tuesday and was out the rest of the week. Let's just say it was unpleasant. I'm not 100% yet but I feel a lot better. The silver lining is that I had worked ahead on my project at work and did not suffer any setbacks. Let's hope less procrastination is in my future.

That's all for now. In the upcoming weeks I have a CLU test to study for and we will be painting the upstairs bathroom, and removing more brass.

Mmmmm...civil rights...

Looks like Vermont is trying to join Massachusetts and Connecticut by legalizing same sex marriage.

Hopefully Illinois can follow suit.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Welcome Back

I would like to welcome Science back to the White House. It's about time we started funding this again. As for those who disagree with the research, please pass on any discoveries or innovations that result for this research. When even the exalted queen of the GOP, Nancy Reagan, agrees with Obama, you know that Bush was misguided.

And we are friends with them because....? Part 3

40 lashes for mingling with unrelated men? For a 75 year old woman? Really? Your interpretation of a holy book tells you this is OK? You see nothing wrong with this Saudi Arabia?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tree Sap (Random Thoughts)

  • I knew I was growing older when I started buying travel insurance.
  • I'm convinced that if you took a random sample of drivers on the road and gave them the full driving test (written and road), at least 50% would fail.
  • I am constantly on the lookout for the perfect wallet design.
  • I think judges should be given "smackin rights" (thanks to Michelle for that phrase). Present a frivolous lawsuit, SMACK!
  • Chicago style pizza (deep dish) is superior to all other styles. This is not up for discussion.
  • I alternate between "Pop" and "Soda". However, when I'm feeling saucy I say "Sody".
  • I'm sure he's a fine upstanding guy but Philip Seymore Hoffman seems like he could be a bit of a D-Bag. One of those guys who prattles on and on about his craft.
  • One of my proudest accomplishments is my record of eating 98 donut holes in one sitting during high school marching band camp.
  • You know the lead apron the dental hygienist puts on you at the dentist's office to prevent birth defects in your theoretical offspring? I wish I had one to sleep under; always makes me comfortable.
  • The best tool/technique I have found for becoming a competent writer is to read voraciously.
  • I fully subscribe to George Carlin's observation that anyone driving slower than you is a moron and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac.
  • I would be happy if the rest of the hair on my head (except the facial hair of course) fell out.
  • I wonder how much money it would take to get Bill Waterson and Gary Larson back on the job. I would give $100 to the cause.
  • Life is too short for generic liquor.
  • McDonald's is like the sun; wherever you go, there it is.
  • My drug of choice is Cheetos.
  • My dad said that if Ritalin were available when I was a child, he would have given it to me intravenously.
  • I never understand why people are rude to those who serve them food. Seems like playing with fire to me.
  • I love all of my scars, shows I've lived.
  • If I could have any career it would be world class surfer.
  • Some days I wish this country was more European; other days, I'm grateful it isn't.
  • I'm constantly rooting for the city of Detroit and it's inhabitants.
  • I wish Anheuser-Busch would spend some of it's advertising dollars on making Bud and Bud Light more palatable...and eliminate Bud Light's tendency to make me grab for the Imodium.
  • If I ever meet the advertising person who came up with Life cereal's 'Mikey Likes It' campaign, I'll punch them in the nose.
  • The harder it is to find a company's 800 number, the more I think they have something to hide.
  • This country will start turning around when I overhear more parents discussing their children's academic success, rather than their athletic prowess.
  • Customer service is an art form. Unfortunately, most people haven't progressed past finger paints.
  • If I had three wishes and couldn't wish for more wishes, I would wish for: The ability to eat, drink, and smoke whatever I wanted without any detrimental effect on my health; Magic pockets that would contain whatever amount of cash I needed at the time; And World peace (I'm not totally self-absorbed).

Monday, February 16, 2009

On Tap

Just in time for Mardis Gras, I decided to splurge and get a unique keg. Unique in Zimbabwe maybe. It's Miller Time. Yes, Miller Lite is on tap.

As they say, if you don't like it, bring your own.

I did clean out the kegerator though, so there is that.

I'm pretty sure I'm all here

Has anyone ever time traveled? Well, if you haven't, then I suggest you head on over to Jonah's in East Peoria. And you don't even need Doc Brown, though, who would refuse him?

Valentine's Day, after our Menards saga, we went to Jonah's Fish House for dinner. I made reservations several weeks ago using Open Table (I highly suggest). We arrived at 6:45 for our 7:00 reservation to a packed house (well, it is Valentine's Day). I sauntered up to the hostess station to let her know we had arrived. She found my reservation and then proceeded to utter this phrase, "I'll put you down as partially here, come back at 7 to check in." Right then I quickly thought:

  • There are only two of us and we are both here
  • I don't remember driving my Delorean
  • Did I request "snotty hostess" on Open Table?
  • I wonder what Joe's Crab Shack's phone number is?
  • Am I being punked?
  • Is this a Monty Python sketch?
  • This is possibly a bad/weird sign

So, I ask her, "Just to clarify, I have told you I'm here but I need to come back at 7 to tell you I'm here again?" Her response, without batting an eyelash but with a heavy does of snide and a dash of unmitigated gall, "Yes",

Ooookaaay then

No seats in the bar so we find some benches to sit on. We did enjoy watching patrons mistake the bathroom signs (that's what happens when you get cute with the names, Whalers and Maidens) and almost run into a column. Promptly at 7 I went up to the hostess and announced, "I checked, and I'm all here". I'm sure she loved that but I could care less. I asked how long the wait was and got "20-25 minutes".

I found a table in the bar and brought Rachel over to possibly get some drinks. HA! No waiter in sight and the bar tender seemed to be on an internship from the Illinois School for the Blind. OK, the waiter was in sight at one point, when I was at the hostess station he came zooming by uttering curse words under his breath. So, in hindsight, probably good he didn't serve us, I like my Jack and Cokes sputum free.

Expecting a long wait we were surprised to hear my name 7 minutes later. NICE! We even got a seat by the window overlooking the Peoria river, not too bad, and the employee parking lot, interesting placement.

The waitress was very nice and took our order promptly. She even had one of those hand-held computers to put the order in. Our salads were tasty and the calamari was very good. The bread was...bread. Now our entrees arrive. I had Marlin and Rachel had Scallops. The Marlin was overcooked and the Scallops were barely plural (just 3). Not too impressed.

I will say the dining room staff were excellent, prompt, courteous, and efficient. But the food is the ultimate sticking point and for the prices they were charging, I will not be back too soon. Afterwards we surmised that we would have been happier at Red Lobster.

Another failed Valentine's Day dinner. But hey, if the relationship is fabulous and the Hallmark Holiday dinners are bad, I'll take that any day.

Menards, how I love/hate thee

Saturday we opened the paper to find that Menards was in the last day of a 15% off sale so we zoomed on over there. As you may remember from my previous post, my outdoor spigot had burst (even though it was an anti-siphon one...) so I needed to replace it sooner, rather than later.

We arrived and quickly found the spigot (more expensive than the others of course). Then we decided, "Hey we haven't liked our cabinet knobs for a while, so why don't we find new ones?" We looked over all the choices and decided to get some cool metallic black ones (33 of them). We thought they would go better with our cabinets instead of the shiny brass colored ones. -- Side bar - I genuinely like the previous owner as he saved me a lot of work and I generally liked his taste, buuuut, I have no idea why he loved shiny brass. And I mean LOVED. It's all over the place. I feel like I'm back in high school marching band surrounded by instruments. -- Anyway, we grabbed those knobs (@ $4.74 a piece, important later) and picked up some other odds and ends (solar security light, a wrench, and new toilet handles, again with the brass).

We get home and immediately install the new knobs. They look pretty cool and we are satisfied with ourselves.

I'm cooking along putting up the security light, installing the spigot (found out why it froze, whoever installed it didn't let it slope so the water couldn't get out, good times), and puttering around. I go inside to thaw out my hands when Rachel voices what I was thinking, "I think the knobs aren't quite right." Alas, I had to agree they didn't fit with the kitchen so we took them all off (thankfully we still had the bags) and headed to Menards. Return was no problem (along with the toilet handles, universal my ass) and we looked again. Found some we liked but knew we could get them slightly cheaper online.

Then we went to Lowe's, looked again, and found the same ones we liked, only cheaper than online, SOLD! Cut back home and reinstalled the knobs to our satisfaction. I know, our lives are awash in excitement.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How many times must I learn this lesson?

As those who may know me can attest, my short term memory is not what it should be. Yes, I can remember quotes from movies I’ve seen 10 years ago but I can’t remember when it is trash night. So, this leads me to my latest lesson.

Last month I received the monthly gas bill from NICOR and was greeted by a $159 bill. Now, I know this is winter on the prairie but that seemed a bit outrageous. Confused, I called NICOR, and after entering my account number, phone number, blood type, and astrological sign was welcomed by a lovely representative…who asked me for my account number. Now I know this is a dead horse that has been beat from here to Des Moines, but why ask me for this twice? Very annoying. Anyway, the nice lady tells me the meter was estimated and not an actual reading. She said I could go out and read the meter so they could adjust the bill but since:

1. I’m lazy
2. It was below zero outside
3. The meter was on the dark side of the house, thus receiving no sun, and thus not melting the two foot snow bank (probably why the meter reader estimated)
4. I forgot
5. I’m lazy (sense a trend?)

I neglected to read the meter figuring the next bill would be correct.

Flash forward several weeks

I open my new NICOR bill and find a $140 bill. OK, this is getting a bit old. I look through all the gas industry jargon (therms, obscure taxes, plans for World domination) to discover the reading was actual. Yikes! What is going on here? I have the water heater set a little past the middle indicator. I keep the thick drapes down in front of the two single pane windows (thanks for not replacing those, previous owner). We close off the third bedroom. We keep the furnace thermostat set below 70. Wait, what’s that brain? You say the furnace rings a bell? You remember something about a filter?

Cut to me opening up the electrostatic furnace filter. I grab the metal filter and the thing looks like Courtney Love’s hair on her wedding day. It is chock full of cat hair, dirt, pollen, and various detritus. The only things missing are used hypodermic needles and small animals.

I go upstairs to clean the filter (upon which it says to clean every month; I’ve lived there 10 months…whoops!) in the kitchen sink. I quickly find out that is a bad idea as this leaves mud in the sink. After much cursing and scouring with Comet, I am pleased to have a clean filter and a sparkling sink. I let the filter dry and then take it downstairs to put it back in the furnace. Just as I’m closing the hatch and feeling proud of myself, I look at the side of the furnace. There the previous owner wrote to clean the filters (thanks). Filters you say? As in plural? @#$@#$@!

Let’s pause for a moment here. Before I continue with this story and the twist ending, let me regale you with the meaning behind the title of this post. See, this is the third time I’ve learned the furnace filter lesson.

The first time was way back in 1999. We had a president who could not only speak in clear English (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman) but also diagram sentences (“It depends on the meaning of ‘is’”). Gas was under $5 a gallon and Iraq was remembered as that little way we got to watch on CNN. A strapping young man was living with his best friend in a magnificent apartment. Across the street I was living with my best friend Lynda in a pretty cool apartment that had the unfortunate characteristic of possessing windows made in 1950. Not sure if any of you remember but the 99/00 winter was very cold and very windy (yes, I know I am describing every Central Illinois winter).

Lynda and I quickly found the windows, doors, and walls in the apartment were less than stellar. You know that candle trick people use with windows? The one where you hold a lit candle next to the window to see if it flickers? This is supposed to show you if there are any drafts. Our windows, the “draft” was so strong it blew hot wax into my face. After suffering a couple nights of frigid temps (I slept in sweatshirts, thermal underwear, socks, three dogs, and a sleeping bag) I went to the hardware store to buy out their winterizing section. After covering the windows and doors with plastic the temp inside got better but not as warm as it should, I remembered one of my chores from my parents’ house, changing the furnace filter. I went over to the furnace and found a filter that looked original to the apartment. After much cursing I threw the filter at the apartment manager’s door and then bought a new one. Much better after that.

Now comes the second time. I had been a religious filter changer ever since moving into my house on Lynx Ln. Every month I changed it (OK, I missed a couple of times here and there, this is me we’re talking about). Well, fast forward a couple of years and I’m going through a tax status change while also trying to sell the house. During this I forget about the filter when one day I hear a not-so-good sound from the furnace. I take a look and find the filter almost bent in half and coated in dirt (was Pig Pen living with me?). Roughly $200 later we replace the blower motor. This brings us back to yesterday.

So, now I need to repeat the steps only this time I decide to use the hose outside since we’re having freaky 60 degree weather. I take the filter outside, turn on the hose; get ready to spray, and nothing. @#$@#%@# Oh wait, I shut off the water to the spigot to prevent freezing (for once I’m smart). I go back inside, hop downstairs, and find the shut-off valve. Turn it on and am greeted by a stream of water hitting the workbench. @#$$&#$%^#$%#!@ Apparently I congratulated my brilliance too soon as I didn’t bleed out the pipe before it froze. Great.

Now I get to clean the filter in the sink again only this time I minimize the dirt staining (see, I’m learning!) by rinsing off the sink periodically. Take the filter back down to the furnace, put it in, and quickly surmise my weekend will now be spent replacing a busted pipe.

On the plus side, the house was much warmer that night… One of these days I’ll learn.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Movie Reviews

Thought I would give some movie reviews. Scale is 1-5 trees, 5 being the highest.

V for Vendetta
Interesting movie that was quite hard to follow at times. My guess is the director and writer wanted to parallel the government in the movie to W's administration, albeit quite ham-fistedly (is that a word). I liked the fights scenes and the set decoration but had trouble understanding the dialogue since they used very strong English accents. Normally I have no problem understanding accents but these were a little difficult.
3 Trees

I really enjoyed this movie and thought Liev Schreiber and Daniel Craig did a very good job. Interesting that Craig has now played two vengeful Jews (the other was in Munich which was excellent too). Both actors portrayed the conflicting emotions well. The dynamic between the two is smooth and you have no trouble believing they are brothers even though they look nothing alike.
I had read an excellent book about the Bielskis called The Bielski Brothers by Peter Duffy about a year ago. The movie did a great job transferring the story to the screen and didn't skim over their situational ethics. Afterwards I wanted to go out and kill some Nazi's.
4 1/2 Trees

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Good SciFi/Fantasy movie about Vampires and Lycans (werewolves). If you've seen the previous two Underworld movies you definitely want to see this one. It is a prequel and helps explain a lot of what went on in the first two. Bill Nighy predictably steals the show and you just have to love the way he pronounces his lines. The special effects are muuuuch better this time around.
3 1/2 Trees

That's all I can remember of recent movies for now.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Weekend

OK, now that I got the venom out of my system in the previous post, let's get onto happier things, namely, my weekend.

University night and there was a pretty good sized crowd. The Thunder even wore Rachel took Friday off for mental health and because she's jealous that I get payday Fridays off. Can't say I blame her for being jealous and I was happy she had the day off with me. We spent the day taking down the rest of the Christmas decorations, picking up, and watching movies/TV. Later that evening we met my Dad and Mark at El Porton (best Mexican restaurant in town). We then went to the Prairie Thunder hockey game. Friday night was Illinois WesleyanIWU green sweaters that they auctioned off after the game for charity.

The game was great as we won 5-3 with new player Jars getting a hat trick and Standish almost getting one himself (his shot on the open goal hit the pipe, oooh, two hockey lingos in one post). We all had a good time and Dad enjoyed his first visit to the Coliseum.

Speaking of Standish, the guy is maybe 5'6" on skates but is faaast. He has great passing skills and has a nose for creating plays. I don't expect he or Jars will be around for too long. Let's enjoy them while they're here.

Saturday we decided it was time for a trip to Peoria. Why would we go to Peoria? We wanted to visit Big Lots (ours closed down last year) and Burlington Coat Factory, and to see if the Bennigan's there was still open. Since I didn't print out a map we of course got lost. I drove all the way around Peoria and finally called Burlington for directions. Once there Rachel found a jacket and I found that I was not the target demographic for this particular store. Unless of course I was looking for a fake Chinchilla coat or a derby hat to match my suit.

From Burlington we traveled to downtown in search of a Monte Cristo. No luck though, the Bennigan's was closed. I truly hope some chain buys the recipe. Oh well. We had a good backup though, Joe's Crab Shack. Joe's was very delicious. We had a pot with Chesapeake seasoning and an appetizer platter with crab dip (I highly recommend), some jalapeno crab balls (that's what she said), and popcorn shrimp. All washed down with some Blue Moon.

After Joe's we didn't want to truck all the way back to the North side of town for Big Lots so we decided to try and find the one in East Peoria. Well, we got a nice tour of East Peoria and Germantown Hills (recently expanded into Polandtown). I stopped at a convenience store and naturally the lady was new and hadn't heard of Big Lots. I looked it up in the phone book and saw it was on E Washington street. The lady said the street was on the other side of the highway. Away we drove in search of bargain prices only to discover the street was W. Washington. Dejected, we gave up and decided to head home. We got on the highway and, lo and behold, what do we find but an exit for E. Washington st. Deliverance at last. We found the promise land and then spent an hour and a half perusing their wares. Actually, I spent the last half hour laying in a recliner but that's beside the point. Oh, and some of you are wondering why if I looked in the phone book, I didn't call the store for directions. Exactly.

When we arrived back in Bloomington we stopped at McDonald's for our free Big Macs. Yes, we got free Big Macs. If the Thunder score 4 or more goals in a game everyone in attendance gets a free Big Mac the next day. Victory was delicious.

Once we arrived back to our humble abode we played some Rock Band 2 on the Wii.

Super Bowl Sunday was spent cleaning and watching TV. Included in the viewing was Puppy Bowl V on Animal Planet. A very enjoyable two hours. Late we went over to our friends Amy and Scott's house to watch the game. The game was pretty boring (save the 100 yard Int TD) for the first three quarters. Luckily the fourth quarter was great.

The Wells Fargo Wagon is a' Comin Down

Only this time they aren't delivering mail or money. This time they are picking our pockets and laughing all the way to the roulette table. Check out this article

To steal from SNL, Really? You took $25 Billion of tax payer dollars and you are spending part of it on a rewards trip to Vegas? Really? And not just any hotel, you chose the Wynn and the Encore. Why not choose Bellagio while you're at it? Why not order up lobster, Kobe beef steaks, Cristal, and caviar? How about serving Bald Eagle? Do you want rose petals strewn about the rooms every night?

I'm sure their argument is that they have to reward their top producers or else those people will leave. I call bullshit for a number of reasons.

  1. These are the same producers that generated thousands of sub-prime loans.
  2. Where are they going to go? Is there a big market for mortgage brokers right now?
  3. If the above two are false, why the lavish spread? There isn't some other way to reward them?
  4. Forget that, you took $25,000,000,000.00 from us. Many tax payers are out of work because of a problem YOU helped create. And now you spit in our face?
I for one am not giving any business to Wells Fargo until the present executives are gone. And then I will track where those executives go, and not give their future employers any of my business. Here are their names:

Howard I. Atkins, Senior EVP, Chief Financial Officer

Patricia R. Callahan, EVP, Office of Transition

David M. Carroll, Senior EVP, Wealth, Brokerage & Retirement Services

David A. Hoyt, Senior EVP, Wholesale Banking

Richard M. Kovacevich, Chairman

Richard D. Levy, EVP, Controller

Michael J. Loughlin, EVP and Chief Credit Officer

Mark C. Oman, Senior EVP, Home and Consumer Finance

Kevin A. Rhein, EVP, (Card Services and Consumer Lending)

James M. Strother, EVP, General Counsel, Law and Government Relations

John G. Stumpf, President and Chief Executive Officer

Carrie L. Tolstedt, Senior EVP, Community Banking

Julie M. White, EVP, Director of Human Resources

I know I probably sound like a raving madman but this really cheese's me off. I just can't fathom the lack of ethics and corrupted thought processes this requires. Do they have no common sense?

I hope this pisses other people off as much as me.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Citibank Can Kiss My Ass

I arrived home today to find a notice from my credit card company Citibank informing me of a rate increase. If my memory serves me correct, this is the second increase in less than a year. Now, this really doesn't affect me as I pay my balance in full every month. But, the action basically smacks me in the face for two reasons.

1. I've been a loyal customer for years. I've always paid my balance. I've always paid on time. They've basically never had a problem with me. No fraud. No lost cards. No shady purchases. I always call before I go on vacation. You get the picture.

2. This is the even more distasteful one. Citi has begged for and received at least $20 Billion (with a capital B) of taxpayer funds to pay for their horrible business decisions. We are also on the hook for $100 Billion (that B again) of bad assets should they fail.

Now, has any of the decision makers been fired at Citi? No. Has Citi performed any goodwill services to the citizens of this country? No. Have they even THANKED us? No.

Why should they? They can sit in their executive offices and make horrible greedy decision after horrible greedy decision with no accountability whatsoever.

So, in my anger I called Citi to express my displeasure. I told the customer service representative that my forthcoming vent was not directed at her and that I sympathized with her because I've been on the receiving end many times. She gave me some spiel about the price of borrowing money has increased and blah blah blah. I gave my $0.02 (probably $0.002 with inflation though Citi would charge me $20 for it) and was asked if there was anything else. I told her no and to have a good day.

Well Citibank, you've definitely lost a customer today. I will still keep the account open to keep my credit score up, and since it is tied to my American Airlines frequent flier miles (who I have a bone to pick with too), but rest assured I will use my State Farm Bank card when I need to use one. At least they haven't asked for a bailout.

Monday, January 19, 2009

And we are friends with them because.....? Part 2

You may remember an article I posted a month ago about a Saudi judge refusing to annul a marriage between an 8 year old girl and a 47 year old man. Well, the saga continues with a cleric saying it is ok for girls as young as 10 to marry.

Please note the following passages
  • "A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she's too young are wrong and they are being unfair to her."
  • "We hear a lot in the media about the marriage of underage girls," he said, according to the newspaper. "We should know that Shariah law has not brought injustice to women."

Ummm...I call Bull Shit on the second one. While I can't supply specific cases I do remember these interesting happenings because of Shariah

  • Women being stoned because they were raped
  • Women not being allowed to drive
  • Women not being allowed to own property
  • Honor killings being upheld
  • Women being raped because of the actions of their male relatives

So, I think Shariah law is a litttttle against women. I will be glad to ride a bicycle to work if that is what it takes to avoid giving money to the Saudis.

As for the age limit the cleric proposes, words escape me. I can't fathom what twisted logic one must have to think that is ok. Perhaps this cleric should spend some time being treated as a woman under Shariah law. I would like to see how he liked it after a year.


This weekend was pretty fun.

Friday night we played Settlers of Catan with the Schicks and the Roethles. If you've never heard of Settlers of Catan I highly recommend you try it out. It's similar to Risk without the in-game fighting. As for out-of-game fighting, that's a different story... The great thing about the game is the board changes each time you play so it doesn't become routine. Anyway, I lost both games (as did Rachel), but we still had a good time.

Saturday night we went to a surprise birthday party. It was for Rachel's sister's sister-in-law (follow that?) and the party was held at Jupiter's Pizza lounge in Champaign.
The place was set up like an upscale Chuck E Cheese, although, sans cheese maze (a missed opportunity if you ask me). While the concept is a good idea (one that Dave & Buster's have already exploited), the execution on this night failed. Here's my review on a scale of 10 trees, 10 being the highest.

Selection of drinks - 8 - bonus tree for having Stella Artois on tap
Food - 7 - The pizza selections were very...hip with spinach and artichoke being the common ingredient. The wings were very good
Games - 4 - for a place that prides itself on entertainment they should have more video games - the availability of an air hockey table was good
Decor - 7 - nice and clean (unlike most Dave & Buster's) though we were packed into our tables
Staff - 7 - staff was friendly but we had a waitress who had only been there a week - not very nice of management to give her a big party that early in her tenure

End score 6.5 trees - I'm not dying to get back but would give them another chance if I am in Champaign and want to play pool

Sunday was spent watching football. Condolences to my friend Chad (Eagles fan), but that Philly-Phoenix game was excellent. I'm rooting for the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl. The Steelers have had their time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where do they find these morons?

And why do they give them driver's licenses? For my adoring fans who do not live in the greater Bloomington-Normal metro area, we had 4-5 inches of snow last night.

Now, living in the snow belt, one would think drivers would be used to driving in the snow. Nope, not a clue. Now yes, there are some drivers who have attained a proficiency in winter driving but for the most part, we have a plethora of morons on our roadways. People driving way too fast. People who don't realize their rear wheel drive will cause them to fishtail. People who think their 4-wheel drive Landcrushers make them invincible (just because your car handles better doesn't mean it stops that much quicker).

Several times on my way to work the cars behind me didn't even let off the accelerator while I was turning in front of them. Fortunately, through my years of driving experience, and because I follow my father's advice that everyone is trying to kill you on the road, I slow down quite a bit before the turn. Thankfully, no one hit me, but not from a lack of trying.

Monday, January 12, 2009

We Are The Champions!

This weekend we celebrated Christmas with Rachel's sister Laura's family. The food was excellent, the gifts were thoughtful (thanks for the Wii Rock Band guitar), the game play was fun. We had chili (yum!) and vegetable soup (Rachel was salivating in anticipation).

As for the games, we first played Fact or Crap (gift to me from Laura), which I won. It was a pretty fun game with some very hard and interesting questions. We then decided to play Pictionary. Now, I love Pictionary and like to think I'm pretty good at it. However, I'd never played the game with Rachel so I didn't know how in sync we would be. After a couple of bad clues we proceeded to catch on fire. We won the first time before the other two teams got half-way and then won again (at the behest of the other teams) by lapping them. Needless to say, we won't be playing Pictionary again against them while on the same team.

The highlight of the games was when I got the clue 'Fargo'. I tried drawing the states with Fargo highlighted but Rachel couldn't think of a city other than Bismark. I then tried to draw two stick figures near and far (get it,Far-go?). When that didn't work I had a stroke of genius. I proceeded to draw a wood chipper with a stick figure going in headfirst. Rachel immediately got it after that.

You betcha

Thursday, January 8, 2009

TFW is back

After a long absence TFW (The Furious Wiper) is back. This morning I overheard (as did those in the neighboring building) TFW sanding away at his son's Pinewood Derby car. I hope I never see who is because that would spoil the mystery.

On a related note, I encountered a gentleman with ultimate faith in State Farm's cleaning crew. For you see, this courageous man let his expensive belt buckle jangle on the bathroom floor multiple times. Almost like he was trying to play a tune with it. All I could think of was Seinfeld throwing away his belt because it hit the side of the urinal.

As my idol George Carlin said, "These are the thoughts that kept me out of the good schools."

So Long Crash

Well, the Thunder let Don "The Crash Davis of Hockey" Parsons go the other day. As I've said before, I know just enough about hockey to be dangerous. In my opinion, he had lost a step (skate?) or two this season and didn't always handle the puck the best. That said, the Thunder will definitely miss the revenue from sales of his jersey. He was also a recognizable name to the general fan. With that in mind, it must have been a difficult decision by team management to let him go.

I've also read/heard that his leadership skills were less than desirable and he rubbed several teammates the wrong way. Nonetheless, I wish him well. I'm sure he will find another team as a player or coach. 15+ years in the minors should have given him some would hope.

At least they waited until he got the minor league scoring record. Hopefully his wife is as hot as Susan Sarandon.....

FYI, for those who do not get the Crash Davis and Sarandon references, do yourself a favor and rent Bull Durham. And while you're there, rent Slap Shot and Strange Brew hoser. Okay Coach.

Hippocratic Oath?

Anyone need a doctor in Long Island with questionable ethics and a chip on his shoulder? I realize he is hurt but by requesting his kidney back (or equitable compensation) he is only making himself look bad. I'm sure this will sit well with his kids.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A step forward?

Well, it looks like the GM of the Prairie Thunder resigned last night. I don't know anything about the guy so I wish him luck in whatever he does next. Let's hope this is a step in the right direction and that we can get some Ws.

January Disc Golf

I got off of work early Friday and on my way home I stopped by Mark's house. We admired his roommates new TV and shot the shit when his friend Ken called with an offer we couldn't refuse, disc golf in January. Who would think it would be nice enough outside for disc golf? It was 35 out but sunny and no wind whatsoever. The ground was a little soggy but we had a great time. Plus, I had a very good round (for me) and a couple excellent putts. Have no fear though, I still mucked it up on a couple holes, along with hitting the chains several times only to have it bounce out.

Later that night Rachel and I went to Officemax to finally buy a desk. Hopefully it takes up less space than the table and is a little more ergonomic. We then went home and watched the rest of the 3rd season of Lost. I can't wait for the new season.

Today (Saturday) I'm contemplating whether to go to the Thunder game. We'll see...


Well, another NYE has come and gone. It was a pretty good one this time around. We went to the hockey game with our friends Amy and Scott. Of course, the Prairie Thunder lost (more on that later). After the butt whupping the Thunder got we went back to our place to play pool, darts, and Rock Band. All in all, a pretty good night. Plus, Kathy Griffin was on CNN with Anderson Cooper, always good for some laughs.

New Year's Day was a little harsh to us but we soldiered through. Unfortunately El Porton (best Mexican restaurant in B-N) was closed so I went to Zorba's to pick up some breakfast. The rest of the day was spent laying around the house watching TV and taking naps. Quite a productive day if you ask me ;)

Now on to the hockey game. I sincerely hope the Thunder make a New Year's resolution to start winning games or at least get some better puck handling skills. Oh, and can we get an enforcer sometime soon? It's crazy that the littlest guy on the team (Standish, about 5'6"...on skates) has the most fight in him. He even took on a 6'5" guy! Anyway, the games are a good time but it would be nice to win every once in a while.

One more thing, any parent who buys their child one of those f'n plastic horns should have a giant Bud Light (I'm not wasting good beer, come on!) dumped on their head. I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to snatch one of those horns away from a kid and blow it directly into their mom or dad's ear. And don't get me started on the bloody cowbell people. Have we forgotten how to cheer or be obnoxious with our voices? If you are going to cheer your team and/or annoy others, at least do it the old fashioned way.