Monday, May 31, 2004

Indiana!

Returned last night from a weekend with (some of) the boys. MT's parents own a cottage outside of La Porte, IN, and along with him was his father (ET), KP and MD. Nice place on the shores of a small ("muck bottomed!") man-made lake, which Indiana seems to be littered with. It was too cold for any sort of water recreation.

Friday consisted of racing around here at home to complete various tasks, purchasing some necessary golfing sundries (balls, tees, gloves and a bag), since the stuff I have is too old to be trusted (bag) or shit (everything else). Then packing up the car (Neighbor: "I assume since you dare to be outside that you want to hear my golf story. The Phillipines, 1962..." and so on), gather KP and take off. Due to my misinterpretion of some directions, we ended up taking a 20 mile detour. This was a stupid misinterpretation, since I'd been to La Porte before. Nonetheless. We arrived, and a quick evening was had by a viewing of "The Boondock Saints." I enjoyed the movie fine, except that it had no point. Billy Connolly in his finest role, however.

Saturday morning was begun with a fine breakfast cooked by ET and a short drive to the golf course. I played horribly, as did most everyone else. We used a slaughter rule of 8 per hole, and that was me for about half of them. I did come about 4 feet from a hole in one on one hole. I then three-putted.

After golf we had some brews at a local watering hole, where we were offered no less than 4 different chances to buy raffle tickets for raw steaks (or pork chops or a breakfast platter). Then to the firehouse for a pork chop dinner. Delicious. This was pork the way it was meant to be: charred on the outside; juicy tender and greasy on the inside. Beans, applesauce and potatoes were also served. $7 with a can of pop, and it would have been a bargain at twice the price.

After dinner we went back to the house for some serious visitin' with the neighbors and bonfire action. MT provided the finest hand-rolled-in-Oak-Brook cigars I've ever had. About a hundred cases of beer later and at 2:30 am we finally turned in.

Sunday morning was again begun with a hearty breakfast. After some rehydration, the fun began: gun class with MT. We were familiarized with the operation and safety of the weapons of the day:
  • .38 snubnose revolver
  • .357 Magnum revolver
  • .40 Daewoo semi-automatic
  • .22 Ruger semi-automatic
  • .22 Luger semi-automatic targeting pistol
  • .22 semi-automatic rifle
  • M1 Carbine .30 rifle (think WWII paratrooper with the wire stock)
  • M14 .30 rifle

    A stop was made at Wal-Mart for ammo. Then to the range. We were able to test our skills with each weapon, except the M14 which broke fairly quickly. There was a defective part, which could not be helped. Something in the shell ejector, I think. Good times were had by all, I had not shot anything since I was 12.

    Wrapping up the weekend was a dinner at a local tavern adjacent to some traintracks. We were so far in the country (if not in distance, in mindset) that we saw a freight train stop, a driver of some kind jump off, and run inside the tavern for a take-out meal. Twice. I couldn't believe it.

    After that we returned to the house, packed, cleaned and left. It was an excellent weekend, hopefully to be repeated in the not-too-distant future.

  • Refining

    Why doesn't the federal government play the Commerce Clause game and make the gasoline standards more simplified? 15 different blends of gasoline seems inefficient, and wouldn't it be better for "the environment" if everyone were using cleaner gasoline?

    Offensive!

    That the Church would do this to people simply for wearing a sash is offensive to me.

    Friday, May 28, 2004

    HA!

    You'll choke, if only for the narrator.

    A couple of great headlines, from the Chicago Sun Times

    Alderman tricked by her gang lover

    What do you wear outside when forecast is for death?



    Thursday, May 27, 2004

    Absolutely Fascinating

    This. Found here.

    I am so fascinated by economics I might actually attempt to study it. They were complaining just today on the radio about gas prices. One person mused that gasoline was 24 cents when he was a kid. He also correctly mentioned that money was worth more then. It cost him, then, $5 to fill the tank. A pair of Levi's also cost $5. Levi's now costs $30. How much does a tank of gas cost now? (OK, my last 10 tanks of gas actually averaged $26.50, but come on. Give me a break.)

    Does anyone know how to do a running average in Excel?

    Hello, Ball!

    Anticipating getting cajoled into playing golf this weekend, I went to the driving range to re-learn how to swing a club. Even the driving range is expensive. $7 for a large bucket, and I needed two to even approach competancy. $14 to pitch tiny balls into a field for an hour. Found out that I've picked up a wicked, and intermittant, slice. I know why that happens, just can't correct it. Bastards.

    If I had unlimited money, I'd care. But golf costs too much money to do more than occasionally, and it's miserable not being able to do it well.

    Right before I was through, the place was mine- empty. Then, as I was cursing the last dozen balls or so, a guy walks up and takes the stall directly next to mine. What's that? Just goes to prove that there are two types of people in the world: just normal folks who mind their own business, and the lunatics who truely and sincerely believe I want to hear their stories. For example...

    Stranger: What was that?
    Greg: Huh?
    Stranger: Did you hear that beep?
    Greg: No, can't say I did.
    Stranger: Must be my cell phone. I tell ya...
    Greg: Un huh.
    Stranger: I was going to get this JSM thing, but it turns out it's not available down in Monmouth.
    Greg: OK
    Stranger: Yeah, that's where me and my wife are from, Monmouth. Yeah, we just rent a house up here for work, you know. Go down to see the kids, and- well, grandkids now- yeah, we put a lot of miles on the car. Never buy a Dodge.
    Greg: Mine works good enou-
    Stranger: Three transmissions in two years!

    And it goes on from there.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    Catholic Church News

    They allow this (technically my parish) but no women? No married guys? Marriage, they keep telling us, is a sacrament, and divorce is a sin. But this? Disclosure: they say the priest is a great guy, which is good. I'm just sayin'...

    And then this.

    They have a huge organizational problem.

    What's new on CBS!

    This was fun last time, I feel like doing it again.

    "Listen Up" Jason Alexander plays an ear, nose and throat doctor in Milwaukee. What's the catch? He's deaf! It'll be funnier than 26 episodes of "Who's on First!"

    "Clubhouse" A Jerry Bruckheimer drama about the elders of the fictional "Republicrat" party which struggles to maintain it's tight control upon every aspect of life in America.

    "Center of the Universe" An adaptation of the Groundhog's Day concept, a resident of a group home for the mentally ill spends his mornings and evenings in therapy- and his afternoons on the streets performing miracles and preaching salvation. Is he The Christ? Even he doesn't know!

    "CSI: NY" Brad Garett, reprising his role as Raymond's brother, heads up the CSI team in New York City. CBS is continuing to put the mood lighting, gunplay and sex back into applied science!

    "dr. vegas" Ten years ago, a Topeka, KS, doctor moved to Vegas to be with the showgirl he loved. But he learned his old fashioned country doctor sensibilities wouldn't work in Vegas and transformed himself into a flashy Vegas doctor. After he recovers from a nearly fatal car accident, however, he rededicates himself to medicine- and can't help but get mixed up in crimesolving along the way! We're CBS!

    Monday, May 24, 2004

    Foodie!

    I am a type of foodie. Not the hipster, trendy, restaurant-opening-attending type, but the type who searches out quality. I'd rather have a nice box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese prepared perfectly than some mistreated, abused $20 steak. I want things to taste like they're supposed to taste. Tasty, balanced, cooked but not burnt, fresh, etc. These people:

    Cooks Illustrated (magazine)
    America's Test Kitchen (PBS)

    seem to agree. I watch the show when I can, and was recently gifted a subscription to the magazine. They have a certain tone (excerpt):
    "Family-Style Macaroni and Cheese
    Neither dull nor excessively rich, macaroni and cheese should please a multitude of palates. Could we find a simple way to make this dish appealing to adults and kids alike?"
    Maybe snooty? Or simply overly "inside" for a magazine geared for the public at large?

    But they test ingredients and recipes until a winner emerges, and tend to prefer things to be only as complicated as necessary to achieve a great result.

    I suppose it is food porn, and I read the articles too.

    Saturday, May 22, 2004

    Commerce!

    If you get the chance, turn on PBS and watch the aptly named "Flea Market Documentary." A heck of a slice of America documented. Frank DeCaro (super gay guy from The Daily Show) makes an appearance as an antique/junk buyer (and reporter for the NYT?). Before that I caught a documentary from the same guy about classic amusement parks.

    Friday, May 21, 2004

    What's new on FOX!

    "North Shore" A group of Jewish Princesses from the North Shore of Chicago solve crimes with guaranteed hilarious results.

    "The Casino" 30 minutes of unedited surveillance video of various riverboats and casinos. Narrated by Patrick Stewart.

    "The Jury" 15 gruesome murders. Four detectives. Two prosecutors. 12 jurors. Let the comedy begin! The jury is perpetually deadlocked and we get a sneak peak into what goes on in the courtroom and behind closed doors.

    "Quintuplets" 5 crimefighting blondes use sex, sharpshooting and martial arts to solve the unsolvable crimes in Miami.

    "Method & Red" An old timer, by-the-book Irish cop butts heads with his new-recruit partner, Redmoose Strongman, a full blooded Cherokee unfamiliar with the streets of big-city Detroit.

    "The Partner" A remake of "The Odd Couple," freshened for 2004. Two gay men, dumped by their lovers, move in together. They're not dating, but think Sam and Diane!

    "House" John Larroquette and Christine Baransky are paired together again when they buy a condo in Manhattan. A talking condo that thinks it's a three-bedroom bi-level in Ohio! One thing is for sure, it can say 'funny'!

    "The Next Great Champ" A reality show where George Foreman pits his children (all named George) in feats of strength and smarts to see who will be the next pitchman for the Foreman Grill product line. Episode one has George challenging George and George to come up with a better hot links recipe. George is upset that George got picked instead of George, while George scratches the non-stick surface in the waffle maker prototype to the dismay of George.

    "American Dad" A comedy troupe from Topeka, KS, reenacts old Simpsons scripts live, but in sitcom format.

    "Athens" This is a 12 part unscripted comedy on the buildup of Athens for the 2004 Summer Olympics.

    "The Inside" A drama about 14 year old girl, struggling with growing up and the tough teenage years, framed by her cathartic discussions with her pancreas. Nick Bakay voices the pancreas.

    "Jonny Zero" Remember "Freaks and Geeks"? Well this geek grew up and he's an undercover agent with the FBI. "You have to know the rules to be able to break them effectively" is his motto!

    Wednesday, May 19, 2004

    Here goes

    I guess if you group enough people together, there's bound to be a few loudmouth assholes.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2004

    Too good to leave in comments:

    is what's troubling most people that it signifies that the culture they live in is different now from the one that they lived in before? or is it something more high-minded? -SR
    I'd love to hear anyone's answer to this, because I think it's a key thing. I was listening to Rush today (when I drive outside the Chicago metro area and can't get real radio, I tune in to be reminded why I hate America) and, while he wasn't talking about this, he made a statement that I think is telling. He was talking about the War on Terror (*) and made reference to the similar fight here, that our American culture has been going steadily downhill for the last 50 years or so. And I wonder if it's not the Bob Greene syndrome- our own lives were [almost invariably] simpler when we were younger, and maybe we mistakenly assume that since the world we saw was simple that the whole world was simple and that we should really just go back to that.


    (*) I noticed Rush was walking the bleeding edge of making it the "War on Brown People", or the war on non Judeo-Christians at least. He stayed just this side of it, but it was like he was rolling ideas toward some chasm/throng of insanity, while maintaining plausible non-hatemongering deniability.

    Transit of Venus

    Get some. Read this for a fascinating journal of the trip to "Peking" to view the last one, in 1874. And finally, a graphic too large for to see if you can view the transit or not. June 8, 2004.

    Monday, May 17, 2004

    Coffee blogging

    Since we saw Carl's wacky new coffee maker, I uselessly show off mine.



    It cooks some mean coffee, and does, in fact, keep it warm without burning it. Nothing cooks coffee better than the percolator though.
    Goddamn VCRs.
    Ugh. I always fall for the siren song of the Cheddarwurst. I think my stomach is going to go all spongiform and hemorrhagic like it always does.

    Bad strategery

    It is a good strategic idea to have the oil reserves. But to use them to threaten down oil prices? Seems to me, if we flooded the market with that oil to bring prices down there would be the expected price drop. Temporarily. Then, in 30 or 60 days when we run out or choose not to reduce our reserves any further, the old market dynamic is restored and prices return. With the added upward pressure of not having to worry about the US dumping its reserves again.

    Sick

    I'm sick of people using tired arguments. For example: four years ago was the time to worry about GWB's military service, alcoholism and bad career performance. Now he's been the president for 3.5 years and has an entire record of actual Presidential behavior to judge him on. There are probably a dozen mainstream books already published about those years. Yet we still hear the same tired old arguments. My advice to the Bush haters out there- nobody cares except you. You're working yourself up into a lather about something that isn't going to change any minds, and in fact has proven to be a failing political tactic since he managed to eek out a win last time despite the assault. "He didn't win!" No? Well who's sitting in the chair? Looks like he won to me, shut up. You could read a newspaper any day and come up with something more relevant to complain about. But I suspect that's not the point...

    The divide deepens

    Today becomes a great day for progressive, equality minded people, and for others, a steepening of the slippery slope toward permissiveness and general Sodom and Gomorrah style end times.

    That sound you hear is marriages all over the USA being desanctified.

    Sunday, May 16, 2004

    Disaster!

    Chicago's various disasters.
    May 25, 1979: It remains the deadliest U.S. crash in the history of aviation -- 273 killed. American Airlines Flight 191 lost its left-wing engine on takeoff from O'Hare, banked sideways out of control, slammed into a field and exploded. Everybody on board and two people on the ground were killed; the plane itself virtually disintegrated. It had taken off on a sunny day, shortly after 3 p.m. Soonafter, its tail dropped and its silver nose pointed skyward. Seconds later, a controller in the O'Hare tower shouted, "Look at that! Look at that! He blew an engine!" The plane plowed into a grassy area about a half mile northwest of the runway. In the wake of the crash, more than 200 lawsuits were filed, and an estimated $70 million in damages was paid out by American and the aircraft's maker, McDonnell Douglas.
    I remember seeing the plume of smoke from this- we were in the car on the way somewhere.

    Goddamn cars!

    Last weekend I was driving around when I noticed a bit of a grumble upon braking. So, I stop using that car when I got home, maybe 30 miles later. This weekend, I take the car apart to do the brakes and find that I have ground them down to metal and need to replace half the brake system. I also spend two hours trying to get the rotors off, ending with me cutting them off with a hacksaw. Good times.

    Saturday, May 15, 2004

    Funny?



    That's Terry McAuliffe, secret Republican party operative, getting blown off by Drew Barrymore.



    From the Steve Dahl Celebrity Poker Tournament. Jeff Garland, Gayle Sayers, Dahl, Amy Jacobsen, three unknown guys (one of whom is Furio from Sopranos), and Fr. Guido Sarducci. Also, next to Guido's head, way in back, appears to be Roger Ebert. Now that's a ridiculous grouping of celebrities.

    Friday, May 14, 2004

    Etc.

    Hey look, the Catholics are making themselves even less relevant!

    EDIT: Catholics Part II. Let the end-times roll! Do they have a [organizational] death wish?

    I think the world would be better off if people worried just a little less about the gas prices. Seriously. You're going to think twice about buying a sectional pit group or a boxspring because it'll cost you an extra buck to get it home? I predict that if people would spend just half the time they spend complaining about gas prices on something like inflating their tires to the correct level or combining trips or choosing closer stores, gas prices would never be a problem.

    Fractional ownership in a racehorse? Something interesting to think about. I'd throw in $500 for a 1/20 ownership in a $10,000 horse- I'd love to own 1/20 of Dancing Liebling! There's no way to lose!

    Dahl is at Arlington Park today for opening day ("It's 55 degrees and rainy!"), and just asked a horse owner if he gets to see the jockeys naked. Hilarious.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2004

    Gilhooley's?

    Hey look, it's the semi-usual Thursday night haunt!

    Tuesday, May 11, 2004

    Insane

    I am slowly being driven insane by "community living". I maintain my grip in reality, but it furthers my desire to get the hell out of here. I don't know what the hell they're doing upstairs, but it seems like they are purposefully ruining my radio reception. I have a decent radio, and I know it is because it works just fine as long as I don't hear "stomp stomp, bam, smash" coming from up there.

    "Stomp bam crash!"
    [static]
    [move radio]
    [good reception]

    "Stomp bam crash!"
    [static]
    [crazy]

    Sunday, May 09, 2004

    Dead

    I'm softening up, I think. A few years ago this guy's death would have forced me to say something like "what did this guy ever do except get on TV and complain why people aren't funny anymore?" But I won't.

    Think Locally, Act Globally

    Is that how it goes? It's always been inconveivable to me that it is somehow cheaper to ship steel (490 pounds per cubic foot) from China than it is to make it in, say, Gary, IN. (As I sit ~30 miles away) [Insert Opie Taylor singing "Gary, Indiana", from the Music Man, I think. Gold.]

    Are the non-GM, buy local, etc., hippies actually tools of Big Unions? Yes, they both work to similar ends. What I mean is, could the Unions have created that meme (*) and fed it to unwitting advocacy-types who would run with it? After all, grass-roots is the way to market products and ideas these days. This could also work for Big Agriculture, too. With every assault for GM foods they take, the big problem (competition from poorer countries) is being strengthened by people who are being trained to buy US (local) food as a brand. If outsiders can't compete, the US farmers and unions are happy. I'm sure they don't much care whether that's by law or consumer preference.


    (*) I hate that word, but can't find a better one.

    Saturday, May 08, 2004

    Intel Makes a Change

    Intel is moving away from their faster faster FASTER! way of doing things and scrapping the next version of the Pentium 4, in favor of a dual processor, single chip design. I don't think it's a coincidence that the fastest machines now are highly parallel clusters of regular PCs.

    Technology at its finest

    Possibly the only use for this technology that makes sense.
    "Truckers have always been wireless pioneers -- remember CB radio," said Allan Meiusi, vice president and chief operating officer of Truckstop.net

    I've been up since 2am!


    Friday, May 07, 2004

    Big Stein

    Another Steinburg column. I like him because, if I had all day to work on it, I'd probably be writing very similar things. So, pretend I wrote it.

    Seriously, though, it's always interesting to see how people react to other people's disgusting expressions of their humanity. My favorite is the ostrich-like blaming of 'evil' or 'satan'. No, no, humans aren't normally capable of acting like the lowly animals, it's that Satan guy there and the nasty Forces of Evil putting those thoughts into our heads.

    Wednesday, May 05, 2004

    Car Update! Again!

    The car is finally running at 100% (which in all reality is really 70% or so, can't ask for miracles here).

    To recap:
  • Head gasket blew in February on a trip home from beautiful (and historic*!) Dixon, IL. Yes that's right, I blew a seal. Thank you. I'll be here all the week, try the veal.
  • Car sat until last Saturday, when I commenced to fixin'. It rained on me.
  • Finished throughout the week, only to find that the alternator had gone on to its reward too.
  • $150 lighter, today I replaced the alternator. I was shocked that it was that much, but all research put it right around that price. Which is odd, because everything else on that car is dirt cheap.

    And so the car is back in service. Whee!

    Yes, I have two cars. #2 is a car that used to be my sisters. She was going to junk it because it was in disrepair, so I bought it for $100. I added tires, brakes, tuneup, TLC, and now the head gasket and alternator. I drive it for work, where I drive 300-500 miles a week, to save wear and tear on the other car. It also gets better mileage. It's a Dodge, dammit.


    (*) - It was closed.

  • Tuesday, May 04, 2004

    Terrible Television

    I'm watching the second(?) to last Frasier episode. It is, classically, a clip show. They show Frasier breaking a piece of pottery, and then they weave that item through the many years of Frasier through clips. But wait: they're manufactured clips. They shot new film, complete with old hairstyles (bald-guy extensions for Frasier, and the sweeping frosted combover toupee for Niles), of scenes never shown. Except one, they reshot the Daphne meeting Niles scene to further the end of telling the pottery story. I didn't care for it. They did too many good things in their 100 years on television to go so cheesy.

    TWO HOURS of Friends Thursday night. Get some.

    Delicious Taste Sensation

    JalapeƱo stuffed olives.

    Sunday, May 02, 2004

    Lexicography!

    I was doing something today that required a lot of sitting around time. So, I read a dictionary. The one I had was the Second Edition, but I suspect they're the same-ish. I was reading the essays that are in the front, and this one had an excellent history of the English language. The great vowel shift, etc. (For Carl- why did the vowel shift happen? Something that drastic and quick couldn't have been simply organic, could it?) It culminated with a meandering walk through the various dialects of American English, with the pronunciations and unique vocabularies. A cooter is a turtle, for example. Did not know that. My favorite was the following, and I cannot hear/read/say it in anything but the Cletus voice- "pulley bone" which those of us North/Mid North speakers would call the "wish bone".


    EDIT: I found it. Or, at least, a newly edited version. This has none of the old English stuff in it that the second edition had, like the three way comparison of upper, mid and lower versions (with their varying influences). Nonetheless, it is a fun look at our crazy, disappearing American dialects. I especially like where he describes the north/south midland cut-off line.

    The dictionary is here, but yahoo has the same content here, and much faster.

    Rare Music Complaining

    I was listening to "The Mix" and "Careful" by Guster came on. I'd heard it before, and hate it more then ever. Could you use a bit more pitch correction next time? And I think it's corrected off-key, but that's my tin ear speaking. Also it's a blatant rip off of a Psychedelic Furs' song I'm too lazy to look up. Love My Way? Pretty in Pink? Something like that. Complete piss. I don't ask much out of music (guffaw), but can't we all agree that pitch correction is the work of the devil?

    Saturday, May 01, 2004

    ASS!

    I forgot to bet on the KY Derby. Uh, I mean the Kentucky Derby. I would have thrown a couple down on the winner. If I remember correctly, he won the Arkansas Derby in slop as well. His mudder was, I assume, a mudder.