Friday, January 05, 2007


How often does reality meet your expectations? If you're like most people, the answer is not very often. For some reason, events seldom seem to play out as we imagine they might. The reason, of course, is that there are a lot of variables in this equation we call life. Too many, in fact, to account for them all. And yet, perhaps naively, we continue to try. Painting pictures in our minds of the way life's supposed to be...establishing expectations as a matter of routine. And for what?

Expectations are byproducts of self-awareness - the construction of future events for the purpose of creating order. It's as if we feel the more we can predict about the way things will be, the more control we will have over the course of our lives. It's always about control. And yet it can be argued that the true order of things cannot be perceived by the human mind – ergo, the order we impose upon things is a false order. Further, we presume everything about the future based on a very limited, very human sensory experience. How myopic!

Right now an infinite number of gears are turning, all of which have an impact on all of the other gears. It is a brilliant and beautiful act of divine we can't even begin to comprehend. Countless variables computing tirelessly and simultaneously - a giant engine of universal cognition. If one thing about the future is certain, it is that the future is uncertain.

I have concluded that expectations should be avoided. They are distractions - the children of insecurity, and the mother of disappointment. We commonly tell one another to move on from yesterday so that we can better experience today. Likewise, would we not benefit from withdrawing ourselves from tomorrow in favor of a more current consciousness? Or is the blessing of imagination also a curse that both enriches our lives with great promise and limits our growth? Expectations, like our wildest dreams, limit us. They create borders in our minds that prevent us from achieving our full potential. Worse, dreams and expectations can discourage us when we fail to realize them.

Dream when you sleep. When you're awake, live.


Here's a sweet clip that's been floating around for a while. Someone recently did us the courtesy of "translating" the subject's German to English for us. While it's fun to watch (and listen to) on its own merit, the rather loose translation is a fucking riot.

Chicago Cubs fans ought to get a real kick out of it...just be sure to gut it out until the end. Sums up life as a Cubs fan nicely in about 4 minutes.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Here's a link to a site where you can make your own motivational posters. I posted a couple of my own special designs last year (you may recall) but refused to share the link because I didn't want you to be as cool as me.

I think sufficient time has passed that I can now share this with you...



Soldiers are brave...but this guy takes the cake in my book. He's a Lieutenant who's refusing to go back to Iraq on the grounds the war is "illegal." And he may end up in a maximum security military prison for 6 years as a result.

Here’s an interview with the first commissioned U.S. officer to publicly refuse his deployment orders. This wasn't just a snap decision, either. You can tell this guy has thought a lot about it...and makes some pretty good arguments in his defense. Definitely worth a browse if you're looking to burn a few minutes while your afternoon crap percolates.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


How was your New Years? Do anything fun? Me neither. Okay, that's a lie. G and I took a little trip and had a blast. If you think I'm going to waste my precious time telling you all about it, you know me pretty well...

I took a trip to Austin, Texas to visit some close friends and ring in 2007 with one of my favorite musical artists, and hometown favorite, Bob Schneider (whose link is in the sidebar). That dude jams, y'all. If you get a chance to catch him live, I highly recommend it. As for Austin, it's pretty damn hard to beat 72 degrees in late I had a hot time on the merit of the weather alone.

This was my first visit to the Lone Star state capital, so we did all of the touristy things to do: took a tour of the Capitol building, snapped a bunch of pictures that didn't turn out, wandered the streets of Austin's historic downtown, stuffed our bellies with local cuisine (mostly barbecue and chipotle-infused you-name-it), investigated shopping boutiques in various districts, got lost, got drunk, and got arrested.

Arrested? No. Not really. We tried - but they don't arrest folks for just anything down there. Ask Dick Cheney. He shot a man in the face last year and the authorities responded like Texans shoot people in the face all the time. What they ARE serious about down there in Texas is drinking and driving. I got the impression it was a BIG problem from all of the signs and radio ads warning against it. It seemed every on-ramp to every major highway around Austin's city limits has a massive electronic light board threatening jail time for drinking and driving. We decided it would be in our best interest not to test them on this.

A couple things about Austin. Our trip was fantastic - but largely because we were visiting a number of good friends who helped make our stay a special one. Had we been on our own, I'm not certain Austin would have been as exciting a destination as we had anticipated. You've heard the expression, "Nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there." For me, Austin is probably the opposite: seemed to be GREAT place to live, but not exactly the best place to go on holiday. Unless you've got friends there, of course - which we did. And that made this New Years adventure a memorable one. At least the part of it I can actually remember. I'll know more about my New Years Eve once everyone uploads their digital pics and I can see what I was doing.

They like thinking of themselves as "weird" down there in Austin - but I didn't see a whole lot that was truly out of the ordinary. There were t-shirts, hats, stickers, and buttons everywhere we went that read: "Keep Austin Weird." I guess the locals don't like all the new blood spilling in and watering down their "cool" pool, so they promote "weirdness" almost as a branded heritage that's uniquely theirs. In truth, I see weirder every day right here in Chicago. I guess it all depends on what you're used to. Austin isn't "weird" so much as it is different from the rest of Texas. And that might be explained by its more liberal leanings. As a younger, hipper "college" town, it's ideologically out of synch with the rest of the state.

Here's something else you should know about Austin. Their baked beans are WAY different. I ordered them as a side several times and they're relatively dry and taste like chili seasoning. I was expecting sweet molasses gravy with sliced onions and thick bacon I'm used to here in the midwest. I have to say, I didn't much care for the beans, which I'm sure my hosts were just fine with. Me and baked beans don't always agree with one another, and it's the folks nearby who always end up suffering. I actually unleashed a real doozy at the Whole Foods grocery store down there that had shoppers gsping and hacking in the aisles. It was brutal. A long, slow leaker that I had to work out of my jeans by taking long strides and patting out the trapped air between steps. When I sensed it was following me, we departed in a hurry. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, I'm pretty sure I saw a fleet of fire engines screaming their way down 5th toward ground zero. Nasty.

Speaking of the Whole Foods, I have to tell you, WOW. Austin's flagship store is simply amazing. I actually made the comment that it was almost worth moving down to Austin simply to be near it. It was THAT kick ass. Chicago has a couple of Whole Foods grocery stores. They're a little pricier than the other local chains because, in theory, a lot of the stuff there is better for you. Organic. All natural. Steroid and insecticide free. So it's earned a reputation as being the "health food" grocery store, which to me has always meant "flavor free food." But that is not the case with Whole Foods. In fact, a lot of their stuff actually tastes BETTER. And if you take the time to look at the labels, it's not all that healthy for you, either. At least not the stuff I'd actually pay money to eat.

Por ejemplo, our hosts insisted we purchase some of their "cowboy burger" patties. They were, simply put, the best burgers I'd ever tasted. Yes, even better than Fuddruckers. I know - hard to believe...but TRUE. I think the fact that they were pan-fried in a half stick of butter may have had something to do with that, but they were still damn tasty of their own accord. Loaded with jalapenos, bacon, garlic, onion, and cheese, every bite was a juicy taste explosion. Heavenly.

And that was just one food item. The entire store was magnificent. First off, it was ENORMOUS. They had winding aisles that weaved charmingly in and out of larger corridors. There were food stations and mountains of displays everywhere. Everything was cooked, packaged, stacked, and presented in excess. I saw a column of holiday pies so large they would never all be purchased - displayed entirely for effect. It was like visiting a museum celebrating America as the land of plenty. The produce section was so vibrant and colorful it looked like the Partridge Family bus had plowed into a farmer's market. There were manned stations everywhere offering more varieties of food than I knew existed. They had a sushi bar. A bakery. A butcher shop. It was almost too much for a food lover like me to handle. But that's when I felt a massive fart coming on and had to plan my impromtu exit strategy. I easily could have spent all day in there whipping my salivary glands into an anticipatory frenzy.

All in all, our trip to Austin was fabulous. Although if I go again it will be to see my friends, not the city. Oh yeah, and we saw a mullet. That, naturally, made the whole journey instantly worthwhile.


As you may have already read, my car was hit by an old man driving a van a few weeks ago. Sucked. The bastard then decided to park his van right across the street - still bearing my paint on its side. Police were of little assistance because no one had witnessed the impact. And the insurance company has been slow to pursue an investigation because my $1,000 deductible covered most of the damage. I left a letter on the widshield of the van in an effort to coax the driver into fessing up, but to date have enjoyed no such luck. I decided I was just going to have to chalk it up to bad "carma."

And then the improbable happened.

Geri and I walked down the steps of her apartment and out onto the front stoop Christmas Eve day. On the concrete there, next to a dirty door mat, was a tiny sliver of gray plastic. I noticed it, but thought little of it until I stepped down the second set of stairs and opened the front gate facing Damen Ave. On the sidewalk outside the gate were strewn more plastic bits and pieces, all shimmering gray and metallic in the mid-morning sunshine. What the fuck is all this crap, I thought.

My eyes lifted up and I noticed that the car in front of me was missing its driver side side-view mirror. Upon second look, that car was my car. I walked into the street and looked at the driver's side. I had been hit again - the victim of a second hit-and-run accident in 11 days! This time, the driver of the other vehicle had been silver, and by the look of the damage, had been traveling at a pretty high rate of speed as it caromed out of control and into my poor once-new Passat. Looking up and down the block, there were pieces of glass, metal, and plastic everywhere. The mirror had completely shattered upon impact, sending car parts tens of feet in every direction...a tiny plastic slivers had made it all the way up the steps of neighboring condos.

Talk about bad carma.

I called my insurance company to report my second hit-and-run claim in 11 days. They asked the usual battery of questions, surely suspicious of my routine and activities. How does something like this happen twice in so short a period of time? The bad news only got worse. My $1000 deductible for the first collision did not apply to the second one. They were separate claims, and I would have to pay $1000 out of pocket for each of them before the insurance company would cover anything.

Two grand. Gone in the blink of an eye. Merry fucking Christmas. But I decided I would not let it ruin my holiday. I continued to shop and spend as though I still had all that money in the bank, fully confident that the universe would compensate me for my trouble in 2007.

I've also been parallel parking my "loaner" with two tires up on the curb to be on the safe side.


Is it 2007 already? I feel like I went to sleep in 2000 and woke up 7 years later. How did we get here? Are we really this close to the year 2010? Am I really this old? Seems like just the other day we were celebrating the millenium. Suddenly we're looking at the second space odyssey. And I didn't fully comprehend the first one!

Anyhow, happy new year. Whatever happened last year, put it behind you. That was last year - and by almost all accounts, it was a pretty awful year. I've got a pretty good feeling about this year, though. I think you're going to like it. Most of it. Unless you believe Pat Robertson, who predicts a devastating terrorist attack here in the states with millions of casualties. There's lookin' on the bright side. Hey, Pat - how about having a little faith?