October 31, 2003

Happy Halloween!

After a number of years off, Halloween has become a holiday again for me. I blame it on having kids. Starting in middle school, and all the way up till Heather and I bought our first house; Halloween wasn't much of a holiday for me. Just another day. A minor holiday like Columbus Day.

When we got our first house, then we had to start participating in the trick-or-treat ritual. Buy the candy. Turn on the light. Man the door. Hand the stuff out. But it was more of a chore than a celebration.

Having children of our own is changing all that.

Now Ian starts talking about what he wants to be for Halloween in August. Heather and Ian decorate the house. Make Halloween cookies. Heather makes a costume for Ian. There's anticipation for the day now. Ian gets excited as the day draws near. Go out. Buy the pumpkin. Carve it up. Light the candle. Oooooo.

We seem to celebrate Halloween like a holiday now. A major one like Thanksgiving or Christmas. This is all so completely different than 5 years ago - 10 years ago.

I'm sure as the kids get older, they will lose interest in the holiday - just like I did as a kid growing up. Things will return to some normalcy for the month of October. Eventually we'll be back to: Buy the candy. Turn on the light. Man the door. Hand the stuff out. In the mean time, I'm going to try and enjoy Halloween through the eyes, ears, and candy-bloated stomachs of my children.

I Think We May Have Gone Too Far

I'm a big Star Wars fan, but even I have to question this one: Holiday Edition Yoda

Oh Boy!

ABC Special Explores if Jesus Had Wife

And if anyone can offer a fair and balanced look at a violatile topic like this, it's the American mass media machine.

'Die Mommie Die!'

Movie Review | 'Die Mommie Die!'

Read the review for this movie in the New York Times this morning. It was the title of the review, "Mom's in Drag, the Maid's a Zealot and the Kids Could Kill" that caught my attention, and after reading the review I'm interested in the movie.

Looks like it would be wonderfully campy comedy. Completely over the top. I could go for a film like that right now.

October 30, 2003

Scott Morse's New Batman Project

If you're so inclined, you can read the whole article here, but I'll sum it for you too.

Scott Morse, one of the most interesting independent comic book creators working today, is actually going to come over and play with someone else's characters. He's going to write/illustrate a 64-page painted mystery starring Jim Gordon - Commissioner Gordon from the Batman comics.

A quick look through Morse's other works (Magic Pickle, Southpaw, The Barefoot Serpent) will show that Morse is a creator with a unique voice and style. To my knowledge he's never worked for any of the big comic book companies working on any of the big corporate-owned properties. I greatly admire and enjoy his work, and have wanted to delve deeper into it, but haven't had the time or the money.

I'm going to make a stronger effort to pick up Batman: Roomful of Stranger when it comes out in February, not only because it is being created by Morse, but also because it will be starring one of my favorite comic book characters: Jim Gordon. This should be a good comic.

An Image I Don't Want to Have

Yoko Ono and Peter Jennings in a giant plastic bag, undressing

Terrorist Alert - Now They're Using Fake Hands

A man was not allowed on a domestic flight in Chile because the pilot thought his artificial hand could be used as a weapon.

I think someone has watched too many episodes of "The Fugitive."

At Home With Alex Ross

At Home With Alex Ross: The Superhero as House Guest

This is a nice article about comic book artist Alex Ross from the New York Times. It treats Alex and the medium he works in with respect - not pandering to the lowest common denominator, as usually happens when the press handles comic books. No "Pows" or "Biffs" and thankfully no "Holy Costume Party!" comments are to be found anywhere near this article.

I love Alex's artwork and admire his exceptional skill, but he has become a bit pompous with his growing fame, in my opinoin. I've read some interviews and seen some comments from Alex that indicate a man who may becoming a bit too big for his britches. That he is becoming someone who believes his vision of superheros is the only valid one. It's rather odd.

This is Encouraging

Economy Grows at Fastest Pace Since 1984

Now if this translates into more jobs, a lot more people will be happy. Especially me, then I can start maybe exploring options.

Stupid Bastards

Fox nearly sued itself over 'Simpsons' parody

I swear the people over at the Fox News Channel have no sense of humor and no common sense. First the go after Al Franken, then they go after their own.

October 29, 2003

This is Why You Don't Mess With Mom.

Yahoo! News - Mothers Calm, Cool and Courageous, Study Finds

Neuroscientist Craig Kinsley proves that females who have had children are smarter and tougher than their childless counter-parts.

Interesting, but not surprising. I've seen Heather change into a much more vocal, assertive person - especially when dealing with matter involving Ian and Emma.

October 28, 2003

Putnam Investments Accused of Fraud

Yahoo! News - SEC, Massachusetts Accuse Putnam of Fraud

Our company has its 401k program through Putnam Investments. My account has actually done quite well over the last 12 months after tanking in late 2001 and the beginning of 2002. But then again, everyone else's 401k was doing the same at that time.

Will this effect my 401k plan? I don't see why or how it should. My money isn't invested in Putnam - it's invested in stocks and funds I instruct Putnam to buy for me. I don't see why illegal practices by fund managers should impact my investments.

I'm I missing something?

Ordinance Bans Public Urination

Ordinance Bans Public Urination

You'd think this was a no-brainer. However, there are people in Los Angeles who are outraged at the ordinance - outraged! Apparently people like Mr. Bilal Ali, of the LA Community Action Network, would prefer to not make it illegal for someone to take a crap in the middle of Venice Beach. Mr. Ali would prefer that instead of passing laws that address a public health hazard, the local government should spend their time to "create an alternative for people who are ... living day to day lives of despair and hopelessness." Mr. Ali is upset that the City Council is "Criminalizing the behavior of people utilizing their bodily functions."

Thank God Arnold is in California now. I'm sure he can bring logic and order to this messed up state.

During the Next 143 Years They'll Consider Letting Girls Wear Pants

Chicago Tribune | It'll be dancing by the Book

Wheaton College decided to lift the ban on dancing that has been in effect for the the school's entire 143-year history. Now the school is preparing to hold its first dance.

I lived in Wheaton, IL for a time - the same city that Wheaton College is in. The jokes about Wheaton College kids and their puritanical practices were plentiful. It's kinda shocking to actually see this change.

Sonny Acres Pix Are On The Site

I just added some photos from our trip to Sonny Acres. Like I said, we had a great time. Ian and Emma really enjoyed running around, going on some of the rides, taking in the sites, and generally being goofy. I'm already looking forward to taking them again next year when Emma will be older and able to enjoy it more.

I've included one of the pictures Heather took of Ian and Emma while we were there. Click on it to get to the photos section of my website, they click on the thumbnails to see even larger versions. Heather and I absolutely love this photo. Heather's already uploaded it to Snapfish and we plan on getting printed copies made quickly.

We just think it's a great photo of the two of them. It really captures how close of friends they have already become and how they take on the world together while having all kinds of fun.

'Price Is Right' Announcer Rod Roddy Dies

Yahoo! News - 'Price Is Right' Announcer Rod Roddy Dies

Is it me, or does there seem to be a lot of famous people dying this year? Maybe its just because I'm older and more aware of the different celebrities - I've grown up watching a lot of these people - that there seems to be more deaths. I know about more people, so the announcements of their deaths mean something to me.

October 27, 2003

My Kinda Promotion

Colorado Blood Drive Offers Free Beer

I already give blood on a regular schedule. It might be nice to get a little something back for the effort.

Weekend Update

sonny acres logoHeather and I took Ian and Emma out to Sonny Acres Farm. It's a fun little pumpkin farm nestled among the rolling hills of West Chicago that, even though Kevin and I only visited it a few times as children, I have many fond memories of visiting there. Sonny Acres still has all the things I remember - pumpkins, pumpkins, and pumpkins: plus a great costume shop, candy shop, pony rides, and a haunted barn. They've also added some new items: including a lot more carnival type rides: kiddie train, super slide, moon walk - stuff like that and more food stands. However, at its core it's still a fun place to take the kids at Halloween time.

Ian and Emma seemed to enjoy their visit. Ian got to ride on a number of the rides, and Emma even joined him for a spin on the kiddie train. Next year I expect Emma to get in there and participate more - she'll be more vocal and more skilled. We had a great snack (Ian a giant ghost cookie, Emma a pumpkin sucker, Heather an elephant ear, and myself a brat) and Heather and I picked up some caramel apples to take home. Of course we got a pumpkin, too. A nice orange one with a nicely formed side - perfect for carving a face.

We got some great pictures while we were there. I've already got them off the camera and on the computer. It's my plan to have them up on the site tomorrow or Wednesday.

Notre Dame almost pulled up the comeback on Saturday. We got home from Sonny Acres just in time for me to watch them lose the game with 40 seconds left. I can only assume that their offense played better. Down 24 - 6, they came back in the 4th quarter to take the lead, only to eventually give up the game winning field goal to Boston College. Oh well.

I guess the Bears surprised me with their performance. They moved the ball on offense like a professional ball club. They skillfully stopped the opponents with their defense. They scored touchdowns. I guess if it was anyone other than the Lions I might get more excited about the prospects for the rest of the season. Nonetheless, next week the hapless Chargers come to town and then it's on the road to Detroit to take on the Lions again. Could the Bears be looking at being 4-5 come 11/16 and their match up against the resurgent St. Louis Rams? Shocking, but possible. If nothing else, they're giving me a reason to tune in every week. Sunday the Bears were putting up an effort to win - which is all I can ask. I know they're not going to win 'em all. Hell, I don't expect them to win most of them. But at least show me that you're trying to win. That you have the ability and skill to possibly win. I'm a Cubs fan for goodness sake. For me, hope springs eternal when it comes to sports. Don't give me Kordell Stewart. Give me Justin Gage and Brock Forsey.

There's only about two weeks until my birthday and the premiere of the new Star Wars cartoon on the Cartoon Network. Ooooh . . . Star Wars . . . cartoons . . . ooooooh.

A True Daddy's Girl

I've mentioned this before: Movie Poop Shoot - a site I visit daily for movie, tv, comics, and other pop-culture news, runs a weekly Porn Star Quote of the Week. Its usually pretty funny. This week's was particularly good, so I'm posting it here.

porn star quote

October 24, 2003

A-Ha!

Bastards. . .

X10 Files for Bankruptcy Protection

Slow Blog Week

Because I've been traveling on business and busy at work, there hasn't been much time for blogging. There is lots going on, I just can't write about it. For instance:

1) Our ISP went out of business. Access4Cheap (i know, i know - get what you pay for) just went and closed up shop Oct 16 or 17th. I've read some interesting things about the company and the guy running it, and I think he's in for some trouble. Anyway, now we're trying to decide who to sign up with and whether to make the jump to DSL. I've found another ISP that inexpensive but highly rated, but Heather and I are also weighing SBC Yahoo! DSL service - which I've heard good things about from co-workers. We'll see. *Just talk to Heather on the phone - we're going with Leapfrog dialup service. We'll put off the DSL service for a bit longer. Saving money anyway we can.

2) Finished Preludes and Nocturnes - the first volume in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. I'm jumping around, reading volumes out of order, but it really doesn't matter too much. The comics volumes read well out of order or in order. Maybe if I ever get all ten volumes, I'll re-read then in order. As usual, the comic was extraordinary. The art was a bit sketchy, but the writing was fantastic. Gaiman has not failed to entertain me in any of the six volumes I have already read in this award winning series.

3) Heather and I are getting ready to go away for a weekend here in November. Heather found a bed and breakfast up in Racine, Wisconsin to visit. Heather's parents will be driving in from Ohio to watch Ian and Emma. We're both looking forward to a weekend to ourselves - probably one of the last one's for the next year and a half. Or at least until the next baby is over a year old.

4) Speaking of which, Heather had another appointment and everything is looking good. The doctor had an ultrasound done, and they were able to determine the gender of the baby within reason. Of course you can never be certain until after the baby is born (and even then sometimes it takes years to figure these things out). The ultrasound technician's call: it's a girl. Ian will be the big brother to 2 sisters. oy vey!

More stuff later - I'm sure.

Let's Try This Again

This is the weekend to turn your clocks back! I discovered (much too late) that last weekend was not the end of daylight savings time. Of course, it was after we kept the kids up late Saturday night, reset clocks, and convinced Ian it was "too early to get out of bed."

Oh well.


And I thought Spicebush Lane was bad

Yahoo! News - What's in a Name? Everything When the Name is Butt

Ha! There is a street in London called Butt Hole Road.

October 23, 2003

Where the Hell Have I Been?

In Dallas, TX doing usability research in connection with a project we are starting. Myself, my boss, and some co-workers sat through a number of sessions where a marketing research firm took regular shmos through our website and some of our competitors websites to gauge and record their reactions. We're going to use the finding from these sessions to make some changes to how we present a some of the information on our site.

It was interesting, but I can already tell that this project is going to take it's toll on the Product Development team. There is a lot of pressure to make some major changes in a short amount of time, and the intensity level is being cranked up by an already intense and paranoid managment staff. I see stress levels increasing and a lot of disgruntled employees in November and December. Its not going to make for a happy Christmas.

Liza Minnelli Files for Divorce From Gest

And I really thought this one would last.

Yahoo! News - Liza Minnelli Files for Divorce From Gest

October 17, 2003

Fall Back!

Don't forget to turn you clocks back Saturday night in celebration of the ending of Daily Savings Time. We will celebrate at our house by having our childrens' already screwy sleeping schedule get shot all to hell. The kids are going to want to get out of bed at 4 am Sunday morning. Trust me, this does not make for happy parents.

iTunes for the Lemmings

Apple launched it's version of iTunes for Windows-based machines this week. I downloaded a version for here at work. I won't buy anything at work - cause I really don't have anything to do with the music at the office. However, I will use downtime at work to search through their collection of tunes to find the music I'm interested in. I'll be able to save it to a shopping cart and download it later at home. Then I can add it to my library of songs and/or burn it on a cd for listening on the train. $.99 a song and essentially unlimited usage - Apple did digital music right.

Gotta get me an iPod.

You can read more about iTunes and download a copy of the software for you computer here.

From the "Adding Insult to Injury" Department

NBC Pulls "Coupling" for "Whoopi"

The most over-hyped show is pulled for the the most critically panned show of the new season. Does anyone win in this situation?

Heather's Been Published

Heather's recipe for Cookie Ice Cream Cake is printed on page 27 of the November/December issue of Quick Cooking. Look for it on newstands now.

This is the recipe that Heather won her a 4th place prize, including $100. The cake is absolutely divine. I was hoping she would comemorate the publishing of the recipe by making it for us at home. Instead she made peanut butter chocolate bars. Very good, but it's no Cookie Ice Cream Cake.

Misery Loves Company

So there I was last night, watching game 7 of the ALCS, and I was actually pulling for the hated New York Yankees.

Why?

Because if the Cubs couldn't go to the World Series, then there was no way I wanted to see the Boston Red Sox in the series this year. If we have to suffer in Chicago and wait another year, then those Bean-towners can wait also.

I can just see the Fox Sports marketing guys pullin' their hair out over the World Series they've been handed. The Yankees, who have gone to the series almost annually over the last six or seven years and are generally hated outside of the five boroughs, versus the Florida Marlins; a team that barely gets fan interest in its hometown, let alone home state. Unless the kids in marketing pull together a fantastic plan to bring in viewers, I'm afraid the ratings bonaza that Fox has enjoyed throughout the playoffs is about to come to an abrupt end.

October 16, 2003

What the . . .?!

6-year-old boy loses 4 fingers to family dog

The boy ate corndogs for dinner and probably forgot to wash his hands before going to bed. The scent may have been what led the dog to chew on the child's left hand fingers, which were paralyzed from a hit-and-run accident last year. Unreal.

Cubs 6 - Marlins 9

The Cubs sure made the season exciting. I hate to say it, but wait until next year. This morning the chorus from a song by Steve Goodman was stuck in my head. The song usually gets a lot of play at the beginning of the season here in Chicago, but I think hearing it now would be therapeutic.

A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request

Do they still play the blues in Chicago
When baseball season rolls around
When the snow melts away,
Do the Cubbies still play
In their ivy covered burial ground
When I was a boy they were my pride and joy
But now they only bring fatigue
To the home of the brave
The land of the free
And the doormat of the National League


October 15, 2003

Could it Be the End of Days?

Taken from The Onion's website:



Who will be the next three, I wonder?

Ooooh, Scary!!

Heather's finished Ian's costume for Halloween.

What a Disappointment

After we put Ian and Emma to bed, I was finally able to give my full attention to the Cubs game last night. Game 6 - I just knew they were going to win. It was the top of the 7th and the Cubs were up 2 - 0. The Prior was throwing like a Cy Young pitcher. I asked Heather, "Should I do the dishes now so I can watch the Cubs win? Or do I wait for the Cubs to win, then do the dishes?"

I'm glad I decided to do the dishes first, cause if I had waited there would still be dirty dishes at our house.

I finished the dishes just in time to sit down and watch Moises get robbed from making a catch and for the 8th inning meltdown to begin. It was unbelievable. I can't pin the whole loss on those fans that tried to catch the foul ball, because plenty of other things happened after that incident that contributed to the 8 run inning. (Gonzalez's botched fielding, a costly walk) However, I can't help but think that if Moises makes the catch it's 2 outs with a runner on first. It would have changed the whole inning.

Now it comes down to one game. Winner take all. I believe the Cubs can win, but it really feels like the wind has been taken a bit out of the Cubs' sails.

Tonight is going to be rough.

October 14, 2003

Work Is Stupid

I'm stuck at my desk right now listening to a phone conference call. It is watching-paint-dry boring.

Plus - people I work with are pissing me off.

Some weeks, this job sucks. I wish I was a self-employeed day worker.

Hillary, where do you stand?

USATODAY.com - Hillary, where do you stand?

I'll make it easy for you, Mrs. Clinton - Chicago and the Cubs don't want you. Go ahead and root for the Yankees.

Updates to the website

Added some new pictures to the photos section, including some fun ones of Ian and Emma helping Heather make brownies one morning.

Also updated the Heather's Pregnancy page.

Check 'em out.

October 13, 2003

Let the Countdown Begin!

Star Wars: Clone Wars on Cartoon Network

The Clone Wars are coming! The Clone Wars are coming!

A little over 25 days until the new Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon series debuts on the Cartoon Network. November 7th. The day after my birthday.

They've started running promos on Cartoon Network and it all looks cool. I can't wait to start watching this series. Ian and I are going to have so much fun.

The Crap Keeps Piling Up

'Rich Girls' Reality Show to Debut on MTV

MTV will be premiering a new reality show starring Ally Hilfiger (daughter to Tommy) and Jamie Gleicher as the prance around New York City spending Daddy's money.

Do rational people with a sense of dignity and taste watch shows like this? Who is watching this crap?

Ms. Hilfiger is quoted from the show in the article, "Just because we're rich doesn't mean that we're not good people."

No, but I have a feeling that this little television series will show that you are shallow, dumb, and naive. Just ask Jessica Simpson.

Cubs in 6 - I'm Sure of It

A couple of innings into yesterday's game I got the feeling that this wasn't going to be the day the Cubs won the pennant. The Marlins' pitcher was just throwing too well, and Zambrano kept getting into trouble. I knew it wouldn't be too long before something didn't go right and the Marlins would score. It did. And the Cubs weren't able to counter.

Oh well. At least they now have the chance to win it in Chicago - which I think they'll do Tuesday night. Wrigley is going to be literally bouncing - it's going to be a bad house.

I'm finding that the farther the Cubs get into the playoffs - the more stressful the games become for me. I don't know if I'll even be able to watch any of the World Series games. I want to see 'em win, I just can't bear the playing of the games. The uncertainty. I want to know they're going to win it or lose it before hand - but when they win I still want it to be a surprise. Ahhhhh!

The Bears proved that last week was a fluke - and that yes, they do suck. I really didn't watch too much of the game. I had a bunch of things to get done around the house, so I had to decide watching the pitiful Bears or the playoff Cubs and the decision wasn't too difficult.

Can't say that the rest of the year looks to good for the Bears. This is going to be a painful season.

The college football scenario was a wash for Heather and I. Ohio State fell to Wisconsin, 10-17. We tried watching the game Saturday night - but it was on at the same time as the Cubs. Notre Dame surprised me by up-ending 15th ranked Pittsburgh 20 - 14. Again, I didn't get to see too much of the Irish because it was choice between college football or the Cubs, and we had some things we wanted to get done.

Don't know if this is a good thing for the Irish - indication of turning things around, or whether the game is a dead cat bounce. Drop a cat out the window. It will hit the ground and die - but it will bounce up in the air and look like it still has life in it. In actuality, it's a dead cat. The bounce was just that - a dead cat bouncing. The game against Pittsburgh was the Irish's dead cat bounce. The Bear's was last week against the Raiders.

October 10, 2003

Sound the Smurf Alarm! They're Attacking!

A Sort of Homecoming

A couple of months ago I talked about an independent comic called My Uncle Jeff. Written by Damon Hurd with art by Pedro Camello, it's essentially a love letter from Hurd to his real uncle Jeff. The comic is an exceptional book that explored what it means to be family, and how we struggle to love and stand by those people unconditionally. When people snicker after I tell them I enjoy reading comics or dismiss comic books as "kid's stuff", I want to wave a copy of My Uncle Jeff in front of their face.

But I digress.

The creative team of Hurd and Camello are back with another project, a three part story called A Sort of Homecoming. The story centers on a character named Owen, who at the beginning of the book has just learned that his closest and dearest friend David has died. Thus begins Owen's struggle with coming to terms with the loss of this close friend and other recent tragic events in his life. It is a very emotional and thought-provoking tale handled with great talent and care by Hurd and Camello.

I was impressed with how seamlessly Hurd is able to work in flashbacks to flesh out the friendship between Owen and David without holding the story back. Writer and artist effortless weave current events and past events together for a clean narrative. We understand the relationship David and Owen had, how it developed, and where in life they were up until David's sudden passing. All why continuing to move the story in the present forward.

Hurd's handling of characterization is also quite remarkable. Everyone from Owen to David to the guy Owen talks to briefly on the bus comes across as a real person. They aren't simple characterizations - Hurd and Camello really breathe life into these people. This allows the reader to connect with the story more naturally. The experiences become real - true, and as an observer you can learn from these experiences because they are so real. You're not struggling to get past phony cardboard ciphers. The story is more than entertainment, it becomes entertainment with meaning - literature.

Truly, the story would not be as effective if not for the outstanding artwork of Pedro Camello. His character design is strong and his visual storytelling masterful. Many times the story calls for Camello to capture the characters thoughts and emotions, without the benefit of a word balloon or caption. Camello must rely on his artist skills to communicate what the character is feeling. In every case Camello shines - adding another layer to an exceptional comic.

There are still two more issues to go, but after such a strong start and based on their previous work in My Uncle Jeff, I know the next two issues will finish the story strong. I expect A Sort of Homecoming will become another one of those comics I'll wave in the face of close-minded simpletons who still believe comics are written for children only.

Dave Barry on Baseball

Marlins unite us -- unless they lose

Funny column from Dave Barry. What I particularly liked was his dead on portrayal of a Cub's fan:

Let's say you're at a restaurant, and you see a man stagger away from the bar and walk directly into the wall, mistaking it for a door, banging his face and falling down, only to pick himself up and walk into the wall again, and then again, over and over. Would you say to yourself: ``I admire that man! He is loyal to the tactic of walking into the wall, in the hope that it eventually will turn into a door!'

No! You'd say: ``He must be a Cubs fan.''

Ha ha! I'm kidding, of course: A true Cubs fan would never leave the bar.

October 09, 2003

Busy, busy, busy

Haven't had time for any blogging today (except for this quick note). Things are very busy at work. We're working at getting a large project up and off the ground and it is chewing up a lot of my time. At least I got to update the website over lunch.

I added some new photos, including shots of Ian from before and after his tooth extraction. We took the pix just hours a part. It gives a nice a effect I think.

Ian is doing well without his teeth. He's adapting quickly. He's got a bit of a lisp now - his "s" sounds a little funny. But personally I think it's kinda cute.

Also added a section to the site to track Heather's pregnancy. Heather and I thought it would be fun to take a photo of her weekly, post it to the site, and then add some fun information. We meant to start earlier, but finally took the photo Monday night. Now I hope to keep the updates coming relatively regularly so that others can have fun with it.

I get a night off from fretting over the Cubs. Hopefully I can get to bed early and rest up for a weekend of stressful baseball games. I'm confident that the Cubs will win the series, but the journey getting there is a killer.

October 08, 2003

He's the Governa

Yahoo! News - Davis Out, Schwarzenegger Wins in Calif.

I hope those Californians know what they're doing.

Here We Go Again . . .

Vivendi, GE agree to form new media empire

I wish them all the luck in helping water down the entertainment and news outlets available to Americans everywhere. I'm sure they'll be successful.

More Proof Some People Should Be Sterilized

Gunman's Mom Wants Worker Compensation

From the article, "The mother of a man who killed three co-workers before shooting himself in a workplace rampage has asked the company to compensate her for her son's death because it occurred at work, the company said on Tuesday."

I Stayed Up til 11pm For That?

It's been said that losing by one point is worse than getting blown-out in a game. Because to lose by one point means that you were within reach - you coulda won - but you blew it.

The Cubs blew it last night.

They lost 9 - 8 in 11 innings. The game ran until 11pm at night. They kept teasing with the victory. Sammy came in to knock one out in the bottom of the 9th to tie things up and Borowski shut the Marlins down. But then Mark Guthrie did little to earn his $1.6 million a year when he gave up a solo shot to Mike Lowell.

I know it's only one game - and that there are 6 more to play. But it's disheartening to watch the Cubs drop a game they could have one.

October 07, 2003

Scientist Cuts the Perfect Cheese Sandwich

Yep. Those British are on the cutting edge of scientific discovery.

Yahoo! News - Scientist Cuts the Perfect Cheese Sandwich

All Ian Wants for Christmas . . .

Is still Thomas the Tank Engine and Scooby-Doo stuff, but now he could also use some new front teeth.

As a result of the injury to his teeth on Sept. 28th, Ian had to have his two front teeth removed. I took him to the dentist this morning for a final review and the prognosis was that the teeth have to come out. They hadn't tightened up very much, the roots were small, and the dentist didn't want to risk infection and damage to the permanent teeth which are already forming above his baby teeth.

To say pulling teeth from an intense little four-year old is an understatement. There was plenty of crying, yelling and pleading. I had to hold his arms and legs down, while one of the assistants held Ian's head so the dentist could do his work. Some times being a Dad is really difficult. Especially when your little baby boy is in a chair with blood coming out of his mouth begging to go home.

Of course it didn't help that the dentist doing the work on Ian has the worst bed-side manner when it comes to children (and in some cases, adults). We usually make it a point to steer Ian away from this dentist, but because of the timeliness of this case, we kinda got boxed in. In any case, it's over and Ian (or any of our other children) will never have to see that dentist again as long as Heather and I have anything to say about it.

Ian's back at home now. He's doing fine. An hour and a half of Scooby-Doo on the Cartoon Network did wonders for helping him settle down to let the bleeding stop. When I left at noon to come into work, he was already up looking at himself in the mirror and bragging that Kira (a neighborhood friend) was "going to go nuts" when she sees that he doesn't have any front teeth. He's also looking forward to a visit from the Tooth Fairy tonight.

When I was a kid the Tooth Fairy only paid a quarter a tooth, I wonder what the rate is now? I'm sure it's gone up.

Do Have to Start Listening to Hilary Duff?

MediaDailyNews 10-07-03

A marketing group did a survey of blogs and found that 66% of the estimated 4.12 million blogs have not been updated in 2 months, and that 1.09 million of them haven't been updated since the first day.

The study identified the average active blogger to be a teenage girl who updates her friends and classmates on her life.

Fer sure . . . . .

October 06, 2003

We're #27, We're #27

State Ranked: Smartest to Dumbest

Morgan Quitno Press ranked the public school systems in all 50 states. Those punks in Massachusetts came in first. Illinois is 27th and Ohio (we're we lived for a while) ranked 22nd.

Looks like I could improve Ian's and Emma's schooling if I moved about 100 miles north or west. Wisconsin and Iowa tied for 8th place.

Sports Sunday Extraordinary

What a Sunday for Sports.

First, the Bears surprise everyone and beat an inconsistent Oakland Raiders team. Things felt promising, for me at least, when the Bears came out running with Anthony Thomas and he proceeded to shred the Raider defense. It helped that the Raiders have the 30th ranked run defense. Plus, the Bears defense, while not playing particularly well, still managed to keep the Raiders out of the end zone for a long time. They gave up a lot of field goals, but it kept the Bears in the game.

While they certainly didn't look a champion caliber team - it was refreshing to see the Bears keep themselves in the game. Even bouncing back when Stewart threw an interception or the offensive line got called for another holding penalty.

Not only did the Bears play well, but the Cleveland Browns came out and spanked the hated Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. They beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, 33 - 13. A victory margin of twenty points! That's fantastic. Tim Couch played well, the defense played well, and Green ran up and down the field against the Pittsburgh defense. A very satisfying victory for the Browns.

And of course the Cubs topped off the night. Talking to my Dad after the game, I learned that he got all nervous that things were going to go bad for the Cubs in the middle innings. Maybe that's from being a Cub fan for almost 60 years. I have the advantage of youth at age 30. After they jumped up 2 - 0 after two innings and watching Wood knock down Atlanta hitters, I felt confident that this was the night for the North Siders. And when Ramirez hit his two runner homer in the 6th I knew the next stop for the Cubs was the National League Championship series No doubts for me.

I like their chances against the Marlins - especially with Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Matt Clement pitching for the Chicago. And if Lofton, Alou, and Grudzielanek keep hitting like they have - things will run smoothly.

But I don't want to get to far ahead here. I just want a few days to savor the felling of winning teams in Chicago. It seems to happen too rarely.

October 03, 2003

The Return of the King

Just watched the trailer for the last Lord of the Rings film: Return of the King. It looks good - real good. Can't wait to see this final one. Just gotta make sure I finish the book before we see the film.

See the trailer for yourself

Two New Favorite Comics

First: The Losers from DC Comics. Written by Andy Diggle with art by Jock, this series follows a bunch of ex-CIA operatives who are on the lame. We don't know too much about their story before the series starts, other than they were asked to do some things by their bosses that they disagreed with. This resulted in them being set up, but they were able to avoid the trap and are now working on getting back at those who sold them out.

I wasn't completely blown away by the first issue. I thought it was good. The writing and art where above average, and the book was definitely entertaining. The first issue was a self-contained single story, with a 5-parter to follow. So I decided to invoke my "6 issue" rule for series that show promise. I'll read 'em for 6 issues and if I'm still eagerly anticipating the book each month, then I keep it on my reading list. Well, The Losers won me over in issue 3 and issue 4, which I read Sunday night, sealed the deal. This series is a keeper.

It's got big bold action - completely over the top scenes - that are executed with real visual flair by Jock. The art is moody and bold and kinetic all at the same time. It's like some great big action movie with an eye for art direction. It's unlike anything else I've had a chance to read.

The writing is tight. Every character has a unique voice, with dialogue to match. Diggle keeps things moving without making the story feel rushed, all the while he flushes out who these people are and why they are doing what they are doing. And damn, if the guy can't write a balls-to-the-wall fantastic cliffhanger every month!

Part conspiracy thriller, part action, part heist caper - The Losers is a great book.

Second: Bear from Slave Labor Comics. Written and drawn by Jamie Smart, this quarterly series is one of the trippiest, funniest, most surrealist comics I have ever read. There have only been two issues (the comic is released quarterly), but already I can tell this book is a keeper. Bear is a teddy-bear who talks, may have been in the military, and has had numerous sexual conquests. Not to mention that if you hit him on the nose his head blows up like a balloon. He lives with a man named Karl and Karl's sociopathic cat Looshkin, who is always trying to do horrible and disgusting things to Bear.

Bear suffers through drug-induced nightmares, captured by in-bred neighbors, and attending a party of drunken college students who are as smart as a bag of rocks. It all sounds evil and disgusting, and most of it is, but it is unbelievably funny and clever in its execution.

The art is stylized cartoon artwork which helps soften some of the strange situations Bear is put in. It also helps to heighten the humor.

The book is obviously not for everyone. A slightly skewed sense of humor is needed to appreciate Smart's frantic writing and odd situations. But if you share this warped view of the world, or how to laugh at it, then Bear is wild trip every three months. I know I'll keep buying it as long as Smart keeps making 'em.

I Found a New Toy

This is what I want for Christmas: Zodiac

It's a Palm OS-based organizer, gaming console, MP3 player, entertainment center all rolled into one. The thing is just too cool. It's pricey though - $300 for the low end model, $400 for the high end. Regardless, I'd love to have this. I'd never be bored on the train or in an airport again.

October 02, 2003

Cubs 3 - Braves 5

That was disappointing. The Cubs played well again. Carlos Zambrano pitched well and the Cubs jumped out quick, scoring 2 runs very quickly. But while they continued to get on base, they couldn't close the deal and bring those runners home.

And what was Simon thinking going for second base in the 8th inning? He should have kept his suasage-hitting ass on first base. The Cubs might have been able to get some more runs out of that inning.

Now it's back to Wrigley for game three and four with Mark Prior going Friday night. I'm still confident that the Cubs will wrap this up and win the series in Chicago.

"The Chicago Connection"

Chicago Tribune | Author with Chicago tie wins Nobel Prize

Stuff like this always bothers me - when local news media tries to make world news relevant by linking the story locally. I used to make fun of the Cleveland press for doing this, but after moving back to Chicago I realized that the big market news media was just as guilty as the mid and small markets.

Hey. Either a story is relevant or it isn't. Don't stretch to link it locally to boost its appeal. It always comes off as a cheesy attempt at boosting civic self-esteem. Coetzee is the visiting professor at the University of Chicago - which means he oversees maybe one class a year at the school. Coetzee is no more a Chicago writer than Charles Dickens was.

It's Good to Have a Hobby


A Thai-Chinese devotee who pierced rods through his cheeks parades during a rally marking the annual Vegetarian festival in Phuket, southern Thailand. (AFP/Saeed Khan)

Sounds Like He's Presidential Material To Me

Yahoo! News - Schwarzenegger Says He's 'Behaved Badly'

Get Out of My Head!

Michael Gurian has published a new book called "What Could He Be Thinking? How a Man's Mind Really Works." The books combines two decades of research with his experience as a family therapist to present insight into the workings of the male mind.

This article about Gurian's findings is pretty interesting, and the book sounds like it would be even more interesting.

A revealing little snippet from the article: the male brain secretes less of the bonding chemical oxytocin and the calming chemical serotonin than the female brain. That's why men like to zone out on the couch and watch mindless sports or action movies at the end of the day, instead of working through an emotional conversation like women want to. Its how the male mind "relaxes." The male brain doesn't have all the chemical supply at the end of the day to be involved in touchy-feely chatter. We just want to see grown men beat the shit out of each other.

Coetzee Wins 2003 Nobel Literature Award

Coetzee Wins 2003 Nobel Literature Award

In college I took some classes from a professor who was/is a close friend of Coetzee. We read a lot of Coetzee's fiction in those classes, I enjoyed his work.

October 01, 2003

Cubs 4 - Braves 2

cubs logoThe Cubbies did a wonderful job of washing the bad taste in the mouth of Chicago we were all suffering after the Monday Night Football debacle. The Bears should send a big thank you letter to Kerry Wood. Nobody's gonna be talking about the Bears as long as the Cubs have a chance in the playoffs. And boy, right now they have a chance.

Last nights game was fantastic. I'm so glad I watched it. Kerry Wood was dominate. Striking out 11, he laid a smack down on the Braves' hitters. The Cubs were hitting pretty well - they were getting on base. But all the stranded runners were driving me crazy - until the 6th inning. And it was Kerry again. I was jumping up and down when he smacked that first pitch into left-center. I thought for sure it was going to leave the park. Even when it bounced off the warning track I knew he at least had a double - the outfield was playing to far in.

The 8th inning - Oy! Talk about stressful. Farnsworth comes out looking all shaky with the bases loaded. Ump blows what should have been a double play and the end of the inning. But the Cubs manage to pull it out.

And how great is it that the team from Chicago has a closer named Borowski!

Game 2 is tonight. Thankfully it starts earlier, so hopefully I can get to bed around 10pm. These late night sports are doing me in this week.

I think my Dad's looking for a new hobby . . .

Man Sets Record for Eating M&Ms

How Difficult is "Do Not Call Me"?

Do-Not-Call List's Future Uncertain

The telemarketing associations have really screwed this up, haven't they. Something as simple as, "I don't want to be contacted by phone" has become a colossal mess. We've got a ego-driven judge in Denver fucking things up, the FCC and the FTC trying to patchwork something together at the 11th hour, and now the telemarketing industry isn't clear anymore who they can call. Because of the ruling in Denver against the FCC, the agency had to stop selling the DNC list to telemarketing companies. This is a mess.

Somebody who reads my blog noticed how vehement I am when it comes to the DNC list and the legal circus that has erupted. They asked me why I didn't just get Caller ID and be done with it. My response: Caller ID doesn't stop the calls - it only identifies the callers. The phone is still going to be ringing. Plus, why should I have to pay for a service not to receive some company's advertising. I don't have to pay to not watch television or not listen to the radio or not look at the ad in the magazine. Why should I pay to not listen to another pitch for windows and siding service?

This better all get straightened out soon. Regardless of the ruling, at my house we'll be reporting violators to the 1-888-225-5322 phone number the FCC has set up.