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Awkward Family Photos

Dear lord. And I thought some of MY family photos were bad. (And they were. But not THIS bad.)

Sep. 8th, 2009

Okay, so I've been crap at updating lately. That's mainly due to a confluence of factors, many of them being work-travel-related. As usual, been shuttling back and forth between Detroit and Chicago (with some side trips to exotic locales like Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Lansing). It's funny -- the travel itself isn't bugging me as much as it used to. The one thing that's still difficult is getting things done at home because of not being around as much, things like grocery shopping and cleaning the house.

Last week I had another back-related issue; during the Buffett concert my lower back was really, really sore and last week I decided I had officially Had Enough Of That. So I took myself to Chicago Spine and Sports, which had a ton of great Yelp reviews. I met Doctor Tim, who diagnosed my problem and gave me some really helpful tips and exercises to help me out. (Boiled down, my problem: underused gluteal muscles and lower back muscles, which led to my middle back overcompensating. So the exercises are to strengthen the lower back and glutes. Good times.) I very, VERY firm recommendation for these guys -- I had a great experience with my office visit. Doctor was very helpful, explained a lot and I couldn't be happier I went.

Quote of the day, courtesy of Deadspin

In reference to Rex Grossman:

You probably like your airline pilots and heart surgeons sober, too, you pack of tiptoeing nervous nellies. Hate on, safety freaks. Rex is leaving town, and he's doing it on a flaming train full of bikini-clad hotties with the devil's breath at his back, and he's not using the brakes until he hits something full of money and victory.

Fucking brilliant.

Mar. 2nd, 2009

Aside from all the snow yesterday, it was a good weekend. In reverse order:

- Yesterday, many errands were run, the New Place was visited, groceries bought and meals cooked. I can heartily recommend Trader Joe's Chili Lime Tilapia (god, that's good), and we made a smoky black bean soup for the week's lunches. Yesterday evening, we ate tilapia and black bean soup while watching "Thank You for Smoking". All the way around, a really nice evening.

- Saturday, we did running class in the morning (training up for the Soldier Field 10-Miler), then putzed around most of the day and then to Landmark in the evening for dinner. Their short ribs were decent, but the awesomeness of Landmark in general was reaffirmed by their ability to make me like brussel sprouts (which I ordinarily hate), as well as the fantasticness of their desserts. Seriously, a fresh-deep-fried cider doughnut with cinnamon ice cream and spiced apples is my new idea of heaven.

- Friday, I hung out with my sister, ate a nice dinner and watched "Tropic Thunder". Capsule review: fun, a little uneven, but good times. They really should have used Jack Black to better effect, but Robert Downey, Jr. was fantastic as always.

And a note to Nature In General: you can stop with the snow ANY DAY NOW.

I have no embedding-fu

I have no idea how to do the YouTube embedding thing, so I'll just do it old-school and post a link:


The above is the latest commercial for Charlie Wheelan, who's running for Rahm Emmanuel's vacant seat in the 5th district -- animated, about three minutes long, and pretty well-done. I like this guy, if for no other reason, than he's a hopeful politician who's at least got a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Thoughts from the auto show

Last night, I went with zanshin_dad to the Chicago Auto Show. It's an almost-every-year tradition, and kind of a strange one, admittedly; neither one of us is a huge car guy. We both like 'em, and I think either one of us would take an Audi A5 if it was offered to us -- but given circumstances (commute for both of us, urban living for me), getting a super-nice car just doesn't make sense for either one of us. But it's an opportunity to do some atavistic guy bonding over chrome and concept cars, so we go.

And it was kinda boring, honestly. In years past, there's been the whiz-bang displays, the neat ideas for new vehicles, loads of concept cars... and there wasn't a lot of that this year. It makes sense, o'course, with the economy dribbling along and car manufacturers shilling for cash in Washington, but it's disappointing nonetheless. The crowd wasn't huge, the car reps were all kinda down at the mouth, and it was a very meh feeling to the whole thing.

So we wandered and chatted, got some bad food at the mini-food-court and got home early. I did some mild car shopping -- if my commute ever changed, I'd love to pick up a little crossover SUV or something instead of my tiny Civic -- but that was about it.

Oh, and crowlep -- the Challenger's got a decent amount of room for a tall guy. Not loads, but for a 6'2" guy I think it'd work pretty well.
The weekend, it was quiet, but it was good.

Friday we went out to dinner at Bluebird in Wicker Park/Bucktown, which I heartily recommend. It's got a very beer-and-wine-bar feel to it (the beer list is tremendous, and the wine list is decent), very homey and comfortable. Good food, too -- the flatbread with arugula (it's a veg-e-ta-ble) was great, good meats and cheeses... if you're into small plate dinners, definitely check it out.

Saturday was some errand-running in the morning and afternoon, then cooking a quiet Valentine's dinner at home -- steak au poivre, crusty bread and salad, with some Vosges for dessert.

Looking back on Sunday, it was busier than I thought it was at the time. The day was full of running (a little chilly, but sunny), making lunches, relaxing, and attending a fund-raiser for Charlie Wheelan, one of the candidates for Rahm Emmanuel's vacant seat. (Charlie's a professor at U of C, a public-policy-slash-economics guy, and a very smart one. He's got a lot of international and pub-pol experience and seems like a good guy. I'd like to see him get elected.) Then home with dinner and "Five Days", a miniseries from HBO/BBC, which seems good so far.

While I'm talking about food, a VERY hearty recommendation for "Caliente", a little Mexican bistro around 2600 West Fullerton. We went there Thursday and it was fantastic. The appetizers were good, but the entrees were fantastic -- the marinated flank steak and the chicken were out of this world. Good service, friendly people and it didn't hurt that we were about the only people in the joint. (Which also meant some comped appetizers and dessert.) Seriously, check this place out. Fantastic.
Someone broke into my car Friday night.

Okay, to be fair, I don't know if 'broke' is the right word. There were no signs of forced entry -- no busted windows or marks on the doors -- so I wonder if I may have inadvertently left the car unlocked. Which is Stupid Thing #1.

Stupid Thing #2 is that I left my iPod in view; it was in a case that was hung around the gearshift lever. So, not exactly right out on the dashboard, but visible if you're looking for it.

So I got into the car Saturday morning, saw stuff scattered all over the seat and said, hmmmmmmm, I don't remember doing that. Then I noticed the iPod was missing, along with a CD wallet holding about twenty CDs.

God. Damn. It.

And honestly, I was more pissed at myself than anything else -- that was a dumb move on my part. To leave the iPod visible, and if I did indeed leave the doors unlocked... double dumbass me. Still, I hope the thieves suffer a disfiguring accident of some sort. Or at least hopefully they damage their hearing listening to the iPod too loud. Taste karmic justice, fuckos.

(The one funny thing is that they sifted through my other CDs in the glovebox and took only one of them. I can just imagine them sifting through the cases. "Crap... crap... crap... oooh, Aeerosmith!... crap. What the hell does this guy listen to?"
The earworm I'm currently suffering from: Billy Ocean's "When the Going Gets Tough".



I really wanted to go running this week while I'm in Detroit but going out both nights with my consultants for dinner really cut into the available time to go hit the gym. So last night in my hotel room, I thought, hey, I can hit the treadmill in the little bitty hotel "workout room" (you know the type, the converted hotel room with one lonely treadmill and a stationary bike) before I head to the office.

So as to give myself no excuses, I slept in my running stuff. AND IT WORKED.