28 March 2005


This is a well written account and just how far a guy has to go to make sure somebody actually checks the signatures on the backs of credit cards.

(via Eric Zorn)

I've always wondered about the new electronic signature authorization procedures, because I can never sign my name the same way twice on those.

Like rain on your wedding day

Can I finally say this please?  Enough already.

I don't have an opinion as to who is doing the right thing regarding Terry Schiavo, because, frankly, it's none of my business.  I know how I would want this scenario handled if it were me that was severly brain damaged with no real hope of recovery, and I surely would not want to wait fifteen years to go to whatever is next beyond this life.

It's terribly sad that there are two sides at war over this, sides that used to get along.  I see the reasoning in both the way Michael Schiavo wants this to end, and they way Terry Schiavo's parents want this to continue.  However, I don't understand why Michael doesn't turn over custody to his in-laws.  He'd be relieved of his burden, and the Schindlers' would get their wish to see their daughters life continue. That would seem to have been a sensible solution. 

I have nothing but sympathy for everyone involved, and I hope I am never placed into a position resembling anything they have had to go through.

I do have some disgust though.  Quite a bit of it, actually, for everyone outside of those related to Terry Schiavo for allowing this to become an absolute circus.  The media should be ashamed.  Everyone who parks themselves in front of the hospice should be ashamed.  Randall Terry should be ashamed.  And the people who allow politics to enter into this should be ashamed.

Congress had absolutely no business getting involved in this to the extent that it did last week.  It's frightening that the House created a new law because a majority of them did not agree with the ruling of multiple courts.  Florida governor Jeb Bush's song and dance has been an embarrassment as well, especially when he presented a doctor who claimed that Mrs. Schiavo had been misdiagnosed and was not in a vegetative state.  As last week progressed I assumed that the governor was going to use force to take her out of the hospice and place her in state custody.

This has been another in what I am afraid will be a continual long line of issues that further divide this country.  The scary thing about this is that public opinion seems to say that what is happening is the right thing to do, that Mrs. Schiavo should be able to die peacefully.  The government doesn't appear to be listening to the public.  Our elected officials are making Terry Schiavo a martyr, and we have no way of knowing how she feels about this.

Isn't it ironic, though, that the people who are so morally outraged by these events are generally those that rise to their feet and proclaim that marriage must be protected as an institution between a man and a woman only?  Yet they do not believe that the husband of this woman is capable of fulfilling their wishes.  Isn't it also ironic that the politicians who met to pass a law to specifically bypass the rulings of appeals courts generally proclaim that government needs to get out of the way and let people live their own lives?  And that most of them are quick to support capital punishment, despite proof that it is a flawed means of justice, yet fight so hard to keep this person alive, who truly is under a death sentence?

Ironic, isn't it, that while thousands yell, argue and scream in Florida that almost no one remarks about a sixteen year old boy shooting nine people dead at his high school in Minnesota?  Or that the number of people killed by guns since the feeding tube was removed merit no support?  Ironic that huge sums of money are being spent waging this battle, yet countless people have not sought needed medical attention since Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube was removed because they have no medical insurance?  We have so many other things that need to be addressed in this country, issues that affect all of us on a daily basis, yet we focus on what should be a family's private struggle to find resolution to a horrible situation.

All these people on both sides who wish to play God, yet they lack even the smallest amount of compassion required to do so.

May God help us all.  We need it now more than ever.   

27 March 2005

Triple shot

From two weeks ago:

1. Have you ever called 911 for an emergency? Not recently, but used to have to do it all the time at work.  Thefts, assaults, armed robberies; you name it, I probably called about it.
2. Do you spend more or save more? I haven't received a paycheck in 30 months.  Do the math.
3. How many live plants do you have in your home now?  Do you give them enough attention? Don't have any.  Never been much of a botanist.
4. What was the last thing you did to exercise?  How often do you exercise? I walked for about 45 minutes on the treadmill.  I am usually on it 2-3 times per week.
5. Where do you compare with regard to your parents:  do you feel like an adult, or still like the "kid?"  If you feel like an adult, when did you first feel that way? Mentally, I still feel like a kid.  Physically, I feel like an old man. 

6. Who is the last person you received a personal card or letter from that wasn't sent to mark a special occasion?   My fiance gave me a card "just because" a month or so ago.

Last week:

1. You know company is coming:  do you panic and immediately begin cleaning house or do you sit back and relax because your place is already clean?  It's clean enough.

2. Which was a bigger surprise for you:  
a) Robert Blake was acquitted
b) Martha Stewart did jail time
c) Scott Peterson was sentenced to death
d) The Michael Jackson trial began at all

Robert Blake.  Apparently, you have to be really, really, really stupid to be convicted of murder in California.

3. What was in the last package you received in the mail? We're getting wedding presents all the time now.

4. What commercial annoys you the most at the moment? That Burger King ad with the dude from Hootie and the Blowfish singing about chicken sandwiches growing on trees.  He must be completely out of beer money.

5. What charity was the last one to call you to solicit a donation?  Did you give them money?  Why or why not? Oddly enough, I have never had a charity call me for money.

6. What common household product do you hate to run out of the most?  Nothing crushes a good morning to bits more than pouring a big bowl of cereal only to find that there is no milk.

And today:

1. Do you believe that Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die or that she should be kept alive? I think 15 years is enough.  It's really none of my business though.  I am repulsed at the political circus it has become.  Some things are not the business of everyone in society.
2. Has the Schiavo case made you take any action towards creating a living will of your own? I've always been vocal about my wishes, but I need to write them down.
3. Let's forget what we know -- or more likely, what we think we know -- about Schiavo's condition.  If you suffered a brain injury that would leave you in a non-responsive vegetative state (whether Schiavo is in this state or not) and your doctors said that there was so much brain damage that there would be no hope of recovery, would you want to be kept alive no matter what?  Absolutely not.  Send me to the great beyond. 

4. Has anyone outside of your immediate family ever asked you to be their "personal representative" to make such a decision on their behalf if they ever suffer a severe injury?  Do you think you could really make the decision? No one has asked, but I could do it in a heartbeat.  I think everyone should have a non-family member in charge of seeing that their wishes are carried out.

5. Do you have a special outfit ready for Easter Sunday?  Does your family have any special Easter traditions? No outfit planned.  We have dinner together every year.
6. What room of your house is the absolute messiest?  Would you ever let a house guest see it? The bathrooms could always use some work.  How am I going to not let a guest see it?  Give them a pot and make them step outside?

26 March 2005


I have no idea what "wagenschenke" is, but I'm willing to bet it has something to do with what's in the bottle the guy in this game is holding.

The object is to move your mouse left and right to get the drunk guy to walk as far as possible.  If you get past 30 meters, I bow to your greatness.


16 March 2005

As the days dwindle down

Every spring for the past eight years I have gone on a trip to mark the official opening of golf season.  Three of the four men going this year have gone on every trip.  The fourth is going for his third year in a row and seems to have achieved elite status.

Last year I thought one of the originals was going to back out.  He was having a house built and dealing with other family issues, plus had a time-consuming project going on at his work.  He didn't let us down though; he found time to make the trip.

I had been engaged for a little more than a month at the time of last year's trip, and knowing that my wedding was scheduled for April 2005 had me worried that I was going to be the one to offically back out of the trip for the first time.  How could I justify taking a golf vacation just a month before getting married?

Then somebody in the group saved me, by uttering one simple word:


We leave tomorrow.  And while we will golf a bit (though not as much as we normally do) this has become a send off, one last trip with the boys before I join (most of) them in wedded bliss.

My fiance, bless her, is happy that I am getting the chance to say farewell to my bachelorhood with a few days in the Nevada desert.  She gets her fun in a few weeks, though she and her group are not covering as much distance as mine is.

This is like the perfect storm: the convergence of many events coming together in one location: St. Patrick's Day, the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, golf, a bachelor party in Las Vegas.

I expect sensory overload.

See you when I get back.

12 March 2005

A dark and stormy night in Boston

I've been to a good share of art museums.  We've got one of the best in the world here in Chicago.  I even had an opportunity to go to the Lourve once, which was way too crowded.  I'll never forget the crowd of people trying to see the Mona Lisa. 

"What's that?  Oh, it's a hallway, full of a thousand people.  Never mind..."

Art never really did much for me though, until one wet October evening in Boston.  It was 2002 and I was on my first official wandering trip in the aftermath of ending my career, and I set out for New England.  I rolled into Boston in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon.  I wasn't the only thing rolling in; the first Nor'easter of the season hit that day, bringing a lot of wind and rain to the area.

I took the train into downtown from Saugus, where I was staying, and I'll never forget what I saw when I got off at Government Center.  It was rush hour, and the place was packed with commuters, most of them soaking wet.  As I made my way up the stairs to go out of the station I passed a garbage can full of broken umbrellas. 

Once outside, I struggled to keep my feet steady.  The rain was coming down sideways, what they call "lashing" in Scotland, accompanied by strong winds.  I quickly ran across Tremont Street into an Irish pub so that I could get my bearings and decide what I was going to do for the rest of the evening.  I had planned to walk around downtown, but the weather made that impossible.

I decided to have dinner there and once I was seated in a booth I started to feel a bit sorry for myself.  Here I was in this great city, eager to explore, and I couldn't go outside.  When the waitress brought my meal she noticed the travel book that I had with me, and commented that it was too bad that I was here when the weather was so lousy.  She also said that I shouldn't let it get to me, that Boston was a great city and that I should be able to find something to do anyway.

She was right.  As I ate I also saw in my book that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was open until 9 PM every Wednesday.  I decided that I'd give it a try.  When I finished eating I hopped back on the train and took it to Northeastern University.  The museum was right next to it.

It's hard to describe the feeling of walking through a place like the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and essentially having the place to yourself.  I wasn't the only person there, but in the three hours I spent inside, I didn't see more than thirty.  I was able to linger everywhere.  At the time the museum had the greatest collection of painting by Monet outside of France, and I saw them all.  I took the time to read the descriptions that accompanied the works and of the artists.  I saw every exhibit on every floor.  To this day I feel like I learned more about art in those three hours than I had up until that point in my life.

I can't choose a specific work that affected me that night.  I think of the entire museum as one big collective piece of art.  Since then I've had a much greater appreciation of many things; I find that I notice architecture, decor and other details in things that I never thought much of before. 

It was one thing to find something to do on a night of inclement weather.  It's another for that something to be a point where I can look back and realize that I changed because of it. 

11 March 2005

Can't think of a title

It was just your typical mundane, late evening trip to the grocery store to get a gallon of milk for the morning.

But while wandering through the produce, I heard a song begin over the satellite music, the same system that I suffered through for a decade when I worked for this chain.

I immediately perked up, and my steps grew swifter.  And then I realized it was the long version.

They never played even the short version when I was there.

Would it have killed them to play the theme from "Miami Vice" every once in a while?

I certainly would have gotten a lot more work done.


08 March 2005

Shameless self-promotion

AOL has a sportsblogger radio show live every Monday night at 7 PM ET.  They've been kind enough to invite me to participate the last two weeks to talk about the Cubs since I am blogging about them this season.

The baseball part of last night's show is here.  I'm on just after the fifteen minute mark.  It's worth hearing just so you can make fun of my voice.

Shameless self-plugging over...now

Because I can't sleep

1. What is your favorite color for an automobile?  Is your car this color?  Probably titanium silver.  My current car is black.  The car before it was silver.

2. You decide to start a diet on Monday.  What is the "bad food" meal that you must have "one last time" over the weekend? My mother makes a wicked meatloaf.

3. How do you balance your checkbook?  In your head, with a calculator, or with software? In my head, in my heeeeaaaad, zombie, zombie...

4. How many of the Oscar® winner movies did you see before the awards this year? "Sideways" and "Ray"
5. In what room of the house do you find yourself the most comfortable and why? Wherever there is a big, comfortable chair.  I love to sit in them and read.

Scott:  What is the "one thing" that the mere mention of sends shivers down your spine? Anything about high school.  I hated it.  Rent the movie "Heathers."  That was my high school.

05 March 2005

Why it's not called "Roundtine"

This week we're talking about product endorsements.  When I am rich and famous (tick, tick, tick), I'll be happy to sign up with the fine folks at Ovaltine, because, in a way, I've already advertised for them.

There's an abandoned Ovaltine factory not far from where I grew up.  We used to pass it when we road our bicycles on a path that runs out west, and there was a smokestack that rose above the trees that we could see sometimes from our town.  I heard some strange stories about what was going on inside the factory when I was in high school (think of interesting forms of trespassing), but all I ever saw of it were the broken windows that faced the street on the occasions I drove by.

Two years ago, when I was selling my house and looking for a place where I could live for a year until I decided what I wanted to do long term, I decided to go back to apartment living.  After a week or so of looking, I ended up at the site of the Ovaltine factory.  Someone had finally bought the land and developed the property.  They kept the original factory building and converted it to lofts, and built a series of new apartment buildings around it.  The complex was built so that the smokestack was in the middle of site.

Every address at the place was "Ovaltine Court."  Over the course of the year that I lived there, I don't recall a single time that I gave someone my address and they did not make a comment about Ovaltine.

This might be a good time to mention that I have actually never had a glass of Ovaltine, and probably never will.

However, living at the old Ovaltine site meant I could sneak around and discover the secrets of the chocolate drink.  You may recall the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry mentors another comedian who's tag line becomes "Why don't they call it Roundtine?  The jar isn't an oval..."

Well, it wasn't supposed to be "Ovaltine" either...(this is privileged information, but I didn't give the folks at Ovaltine Court a forwarding address, so what the heck.)

Back in the early 1900's, a Norwegian by the name of Hagar Handzenpocketz lived with his wife Helga (of course) and their young son in the wilderness of Scandinavia.  They lived in a cabin and survived by hunting in the forest, and fishing the waters that flowed through the fjords.  One day Hagar sent his son, Olav, to the fjord to fish.  

Olav was gone for a while, but when he returned he had more cod than Hagar had ever seen.  This meant that they would have more food than normal for the winter.  To reward him for being such a fine fisherman, Hagar told his son that he would let him prepare the lutefisk.  This was a tremendous honor for the boy, as Norwegian custom generally called for a boy to make the family lutefisk only after he had grown into manhood.  Olav had just turned seven, but Hagar was confident.

Soon Olav had taken the cod, placed it in a large tub and soaked it in the lye, where it would sit for at least two weeks.  When two weeks were up, Olav and his father went to check on its progress.  As soon as the entered the small cabin where the lutefisk was prepared, Hagar knew something was wrong-he smelled nothing.  Normally when the lutefisk was ready, Hagar could smell it almost from his own cabin.  When they checked the tub they saw that Olav had used way too much lye.  The caustic substance had dissolved the cod to nothing more than a powder.

Olav was crushed, but Hagar said it was not anything to worry about.  There was plenty more cod for them to eat, the lutefisk was for the holidays.  This year, they'd just go without.  Meanwhile, there were other things to do.  Hagar and Olav were so busy with other chores that they forgot to ever clean the tub.

The following spring, when Hagar went to milk his goats, he was blessed with a great deal more than he normally received from the animals.  There was so much milk that he needed an extra place to store some of it.  He remembered that the lutefisk cabin; since there had been no lutefisk made, there would be no smell.  He could store as much milk there as he wanted.

Hagar was a busy man, so he carried many pails of milk with him.  When he entered the cabin, he slipped on some old lingonberries that were left on the floor and dropped the pails into the tub.  The milk filled up most of the tub, and aside from his anger Hagar wondered why the milk was turning gray.  Then he remembered-no one had cleaned out the tub since Olav's failed attempt at making lutefisk.

Hagar looked at the tub.  His first thought was that the milk mixing with the powdered cod must taste awful.  His next thought reminded him that he was a naturally curious man.  He took an empty cup on a shelf above the tub and filled it up.

"When in Oslo..." he said to himself.

Hagar took a drink and couldn't believe it.  He had just tasted the best thing he had ever drank, better than the beer his cousin brought him that was brewed from rotten shark in Iceland.  His son had made a perfect drink of lutefisk.  It was smooth, creamy and rich.  Hagar went and got Helga and Olav, and they spent the rest of the afternoon drinking and celebrating Olav's inadvertent discovery.

Hagar had always been a forward-thinking Norwegian, and he soon had a plan.  He would market this drink to the rest of the Nordic world, and he would name it after his son.  Hagar soon had hundreds of jars of product, and the only thing left to do was come up with a label.  Once that was done, Hagar could ship his product off and become a rich man.  But Hagar had no way of creating such a thing, so one day he took his inventory and went into town to visit with a man who had the capabilities of printing labels.

Hagar made it clear that the product was to be called "Olav-nite", which would translate to "Superior lutefisk drink created by Olav."  The printer told Hagar he could come back in a week and his product would be ready to ship.

Hagar did just that.  On the trip in he dreamed of the places he would be able to see now that he and his family were going to be wealthy, and best of all he would always be reminded of his only son, who created the drink.  Hagar was excited beyond words when he arrived at the shop and started to load his inventory.  After setting the first box down, he opened it and took out a jar.

The label said "Oval-tine."  Every jar in every box had the same label.  The gentleman had printed all the labels wrong.  How could he have made such a mistake?

It was only after the first shipment sold through that Hagar discovered the problem.  Next year, when Hagar asked the printer for "Olav-nite" he again received jar after jar of "Oval-tine."  Furious, Hagar confronted the printer, who confessed that he was afflicted with a rare condition, Nordic dyslexia, in which pairs of consonants are frequently reversed.

The second batch sold briskly as well, and demand was so high for "oval-tine" that Hagar knew he couldn't change the name.  If his marketing degree he received from the University of Tromso had taught him anything, it was you don't change the name of a popular new product. 

Hagar and his family lived happily ever after.  He sold the rights to oval-tine shortly after Olav grew up, and he retired to the Faroe Islands with Helga.  He spent the rest of his day unaware that his drink had crossed the ocean, become popular in the States and was manufactured close to where I grew up.  

So there.  Thanks to those of you who stayed awake until the end.